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´╗┐Title: Worldly Ways and Byways
Author: Gregory, Eliot, 1854-1915
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1899 Charles Scribner's Sons edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



Worldly
Ways
&
Byways


BY
Eliot Gregory
("_An Idler_")

NEW YORK
_Charles Scribner's Sons_
MDCCCXCIX

_Copyright_, 1898, _by_
_Charles Scribner's Sons_

To
_E. L. Godkin, Esqre_.

SIR:

I wish your name to appear on the first page of a volume, the composition
of which was suggested by you.

Gratitude is said to be "the hope of favors to come;" these lines are
written to prove that it may be the appreciation of kindnesses received.

_Heartily yours_
_Eliot Gregory_



A Table of Contents


_To the R E A D E R_

1.  Charm

2.  The Moth and the Star

3.  Contrasted Travelling

4.  The Outer and the Inner Woman

5.  On Some Gilded Misalliances

6.  The Complacency of Mediocrity

7.  The Discontent of Talent

8.  Slouch

9.  Social Suggestion

10. Bohemia

11. Social Exiles

12. "Seven Ages" of Furniture

13. Our Elite and Public Life

14. The Small Summer Hotel

15. A False Start

16. A Holy Land

17. Royalty at Play

18. A Rock Ahead

19. The Grand Prix

20. "The Treadmill"

21. "Like Master Like Man"

22. An English Invasion of the Riviera

23. A Common Weakness

24. Changing Paris

25. Contentment

26. The Climber

27. The Last of the Dandies

28. A Nation on the Wing

29. Husks

30. The Faubourg St. Germain

31. Men's Manners

32. An Ideal Hostess

33. The Introducer

34. A Question and an Answer

35. Living on Your Friends

36. American Society in Italy

37. The Newport of the Past

38. A Conquest of Europe

39. A Race of Slaves

40. Introspection



To the Reader


There existed formerly, in diplomatic circles, a curious custom, since
fallen into disuse, entitled the Pele Mele, contrived doubtless by some
distracted Master of Ceremonies to quell the endless jealousies and
quarrels for precedence between courtiers and diplomatists of contending
pretensions.  Under this rule no rank was recognized, each person being
allowed at banquet, fete, or other public ceremony only such place as he
had been ingenious or fortunate enough to obtain.

Any one wishing to form an idea of the confusion that ensued, of the
intrigues and expedients resorted to, not only in procuring prominent
places, but also in ensuring the integrity of the Pele Mele, should
glance over the amusing memoirs of M. de Segur.

The aspiring nobles and ambassadors, harassed by this constant
preoccupation, had little time or inclination left for any serious
pursuit, since, to take a moment's repose or an hour's breathing space
was to risk falling behind in the endless and aimless race.  Strange as
it may appear, the knowledge that they owed place and preferment more to
chance or intrigue than to any personal merit or inherited right, instead
of lessening the value of the prizes for which all were striving, seemed
only to enhance them in the eyes of the competitors.

Success was the unique standard by which they gauged their fellows.  Those
who succeeded revelled in the adulation of their friends, but when any
one failed, the fickle crowd passed him by to bow at more fortunate feet.

No better picture could be found of the "world" of to-day, a perpetual
Pele Mele, where such advantages only are conceded as we have been
sufficiently enterprising to obtain, and are strong or clever enough to
keep--a constant competition, a daily steeplechase, favorable to daring
spirits and personal initiative but with the defect of keeping frail
humanity ever on the qui vive.

Philosophers tell us, that we should seek happiness only in the calm of
our own minds, not allowing external conditions or the opinions of others
to influence our ways.  This lofty detachment from environment is
achieved by very few.  Indeed, the philosophers themselves (who may be
said to have invented the art of "posing") were generally as vain as
peacocks, profoundly pre-occupied with the verdict of their
contemporaries and their position as regards posterity.

Man is born gregarious and remains all his life a herding animal.  As one
keen observer has written, "So great is man's horror of being alone that
he will seek the society of those he neither likes nor respects sooner
than be left to his own."  The laws and conventions that govern men's
intercourse have, therefore, formed a tempting subject for the writers of
all ages.  Some have labored hoping to reform their generation, others
have written to offer solutions for life's many problems.

Beaumarchais, whose penetrating wit left few subjects untouched, makes
his Figaro put the subject aside with "Je me presse de rire de tout, de
peur d'etre oblige d'en pleurer."

The author of this little volume pretends to settle no disputes, aims at
inaugurating no reforms.  He has lightly touched on passing topics and
jotted down, "to point a moral or adorn a tale," some of the more obvious
foibles and inconsistencies of our American ways.  If a stray bit of
philosophy has here and there slipped in between the lines, it is mostly
of the laughing "school," and used more in banter than in blame.

This much abused "world" is a fairly agreeable place if you do not take
it seriously.  Meet it with a friendly face and it will smile gayly back
at you, but do not ask of it what it cannot give, or attribute to its
verdicts more importance than they deserve.

ELIOT GREGORY

_Newport_, _November first_, 1897



No. 1--Charm


Women endowed by nature with the indescribable quality we call "charm"
(for want of a better word), are the supreme development of a perfected
race, the last word, as it were, of civilization; the flower of their
kind, crowning centuries of growing refinement and cultivation.  Other
women may unite a thousand brilliant qualities, and attractive
attributes, may be beautiful as Astarte or witty as Madame de Montespan,
those endowed with the power of charm, have in all ages and under every
sky, held undisputed rule over the hearts of their generation.

When we look at the portraits of the enchantresses whom history tells us
have ruled the world by their charm, and swayed the destinies of empires
at their fancy, we are astonished to find that they have rarely been
beautiful.  From Cleopatra or Mary of Scotland down to Lola Montez, the
tell-tale coin or canvas reveals the same marvellous fact.  We wonder how
these women attained such influence over the men of their day, their
husbands or lovers.  We would do better to look around us, or inward, and
observe what is passing in our own hearts.

Pause, reader mine, a moment and reflect.  Who has held the first place
in your thoughts, filled your soul, and influenced your life?  Was she
the most beautiful of your acquaintances, the radiant vision that dazzled
your boyish eyes?  Has she not rather been some gentle, quiet woman whom
you hardly noticed the first time your paths crossed, but who gradually
grew to be a part of your life--to whom you instinctively turned for
consolation in moments of discouragement, for counsel in your
difficulties, and whose welcome was the bright moment in your day, looked
forward to through long hours of toil and worry?

In the hurly-burly of life we lose sight of so many things our fathers
and mothers clung to, and have drifted so far away from their gentle
customs and simple, home-loving habits, that one wonders what impression
our society would make on a woman of a century ago, could she by some
spell be dropped into the swing of modern days.  The good soul would be
apt to find it rather a far cry from the quiet pleasures of her youth, to
"a ladies' amateur bicycle race" that formed the attraction recently at a
summer resort.

That we should have come to think it natural and proper for a young wife
and mother to pass her mornings at golf, lunching at the club-house to
"save time," returning home only for a hurried change of toilet to start
again on a bicycle or for a round of calls, an occupation that will leave
her just the half-hour necessary to slip into a dinner gown, and then for
her to pass the evening in dancing or at the card-table, shows, when one
takes the time to think of it, how unconsciously we have changed, and
(with all apologies to the gay hostesses and graceful athletes of to-day)
not for the better.

It is just in the subtle quality of charm that the women of the last ten
years have fallen away from their elder sisters.  They have been carried
along by a love of sport, and by the set of fashion's tide, not stopping
to ask themselves whither they are floating.  They do not realize all the
importance of their acts nor the true meaning of their metamorphosis.

The dear creatures should be content, for they have at last escaped from
the bondage of ages, have broken their chains, and vaulted over their
prison walls.  "Lords and masters" have gradually become very humble and
obedient servants, and the "love, honour, and obey" of the marriage
service might now more logically be spoken by the man; on the lips of the
women of to-day it is but a graceful "_facon de parler_," and holds only
those who choose to be bound.

It is not my intention to rail against the short-comings of the day.  That
ungrateful task I leave to sterner moralists, and hopeful souls who
naively imagine they can stem the current of an epoch with the barrier of
their eloquence, or sweep back an ocean of innovations by their logic.  I
should like, however, to ask my sisters one question: Are they quite sure
that women gain by these changes?  Do they imagine, these "sporty" young
females in short-cut skirts and mannish shirts and ties, that it is
seductive to a lover, or a husband to see his idol in a violent
perspiration, her draggled hair blowing across a sunburned face, panting
up a long hill in front of him on a bicycle, frantic at having lost her
race?  Shade of gentle William! who said

   _A woman moved_, _is like a fountain troubled_,--
   _Muddy_, _ill-seeming_, _thick_, _bereft of beauty_.
   _And while it is so_, _none so dry or thirsty_
   _Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it_.

Is the modern girl under the impression that men will be contented with
poor imitations of themselves, to share their homes and be the mothers of
their children?  She is throwing away the substance for the shadow!

The moment women step out from the sanctuary of their homes, the glamour
that girlhood or maternity has thrown around them cast aside, that moment
will they cease to rule mankind.  Women may agitate until they have
obtained political recognition, but will awake from their foolish dream
of power, realizing too late what they have sacrificed to obtain it, that
the price has been very heavy, and the fruit of their struggles bitter on
their lips.

There are few men, I imagine, of my generation to whom the words "home"
and "mother" have not a penetrating charm, who do not look back with
softened heart and tender thoughts to fireside scenes of evening readings
and twilight talks at a mother's knee, realizing that the best in their
natures owes its growth to these influences.

I sometimes look about me and wonder what the word "mother" will mean
later, to modern little boys.  It will evoke, I fear, a confused
remembrance of some centaur-like being, half woman, half wheel, or as it
did to neglected little Rawdon Crawley, the vision of a radiant creature
in gauze and jewels, driving away to endless _fetes_--_fetes_ followed by
long mornings, when he was told not to make any noise, or play too
loudly, "as poor mamma is resting."  What other memories can the
"successful" woman of to-day hope to leave in the minds of her children?
If the child remembers his mother in this way, will not the man who has
known and perhaps loved her, feel the same sensation of empty futility
when her name is mentioned?

The woman who proposes a game of cards to a youth who comes to pass an
hour in her society, can hardly expect him to carry away a particularly
tender memory of her as he leaves the house.  The girl who has rowed,
ridden, or raced at a man's side for days, with the object of getting the
better of him at some sport or pastime, cannot reasonably hope to be
connected in his thoughts with ideas more tender or more elevated than
"odds" or "handicaps," with an undercurrent of pique if his unsexed
companion has "downed" him successfully.

What man, unless he be singularly dissolute or unfortunate, but turns his
steps, when he can, towards some dainty parlor where he is sure of
finding a smiling, soft-voiced woman, whose welcome he knows will soothe
his irritated nerves and restore the even balance of his temper, whose
charm will work its subtle way into his troubled spirit?  The wife he
loves, or the friend he admires and respects, will do more for him in one
such quiet hour when two minds commune, coming closer to the real man,
and moving him to braver efforts, and nobler aims, than all the beauties
and "sporty" acquaintances of a lifetime.  No matter what a man's
education or taste is, none are insensible to such an atmosphere or to
the grace and witchery a woman can lend to the simplest surroundings.  She
need not be beautiful or brilliant to hold him in lifelong allegiance, if
she but possess this magnetism.

Madame Recamier was a beautiful, but not a brilliant woman, yet she held
men her slaves for years.  To know her was to fall under her charm, and
to feel it once was to remain her adorer for life.  She will go down to
history as the type of a fascinating woman.  Being asked once by an
acquaintance what spell she worked on mankind that enabled her to hold
them for ever at her feet, she laughingly answered:

"I have always found two words sufficient.  When a visitor comes into my
salon, I say, '_Enfin_!' and when he gets up to go away, I say,
'_Deja_!'"

"What is this wonderful 'charm' he is writing about?"  I hear some
sprightly maiden inquire as she reads these lines.  My dear young lady,
if you ask the question, you have judged yourself and been found wanting.
But to satisfy you as far as I can, I will try and define it--not by
telling you what it is; that is beyond my power--but by negatives, the
only way in which subtle subjects can be approached.

A woman of charm is never flustered and never _distraite_.  She talks
little, and rarely of herself, remembering that bores are persons who
insist on talking about themselves.  She does not break the thread of a
conversation by irrelevant questions or confabulate in an undertone with
the servants.  No one of her guests receives more of her attention than
another and none are neglected.  She offers to each one who speaks the
homage of her entire attention.  She never makes an effort to be
brilliant or entertain with her wit.  She is far too clever for that.
Neither does she volunteer information nor converse about her troubles or
her ailments, nor wander off into details about people you do not know.

She is all things--to each man she likes, in the best sense of that
phrase, appreciating his qualities, stimulating him to better things.

   --_for his gayer hours_
   _She has a voice of gladness and a smile and eloquence of beauty_;
   _and she glides_
   _Into his darker musings with a mild and healing sympathy that steals
   away_
   _Their sharpness ere he is aware_.



No. 2--The Moth and the Star


The truth of the saying that "it is always the unexpected that happens,"
receives in this country a confirmation from an unlooked-for quarter, as
does the fact of human nature being always, discouragingly, the same in
spite of varied surroundings.  This sounds like a paradox, but is an
exceedingly simple statement easily proved.

That the great mass of Americans, drawn as they are from such varied
sources, should take any interest in the comings and goings or social
doings of a small set of wealthy and fashionable people, is certainly an
unexpected development.  That to read of the amusements and home life of
a clique of people with whom they have little in common, whose whole
education and point of view are different from their own, and whom they
have rarely seen and never expect to meet, should afford the average
citizen any amusement seems little short of impossible.

One accepts as a natural sequence that abroad (where an hereditary
nobility have ruled for centuries, and accustomed the people to look up
to them as the visible embodiment of all that is splendid and
unattainable in life) such interest should exist.  That the home-coming
of an English or French nobleman to his estates should excite the
enthusiasm of hundreds more or less dependent upon him for their
amusement or more material advantages; that his marriage to an
heiress--meaning to them the re-opening of a long-closed _chateau_ and
the beginning of a period of prosperity for the district--should excite
his neighbors is not to be wondered at.

It is well known that whole regions have been made prosperous by the
residence of a court, witness the wealth and trade brought into Scotland
by the Queen's preference for "the Land of Cakes," and the discontent and
poverty in Ireland from absenteeism and persistent avoidance of that
country by the court.  But in this land, where every reason for
interesting one class in another seems lacking, that thousands of well-to-
do people (half the time not born in this hemisphere), should delightedly
devour columns of incorrect information about New York dances and Lenox
house-parties, winter cruises, or Newport coaching parades, strikes the
observer as the "unexpected" in its purest form.

That this interest exists is absolutely certain.  During a trip in the
West, some seasons ago, I was dumbfounded to find that the members of a
certain New York set were familiarly spoken of by their first names, and
was assailed with all sorts of eager questions when it was discovered
that I knew them.  A certain young lady, at that time a belle in New
York, was currently called _Sally_, and a well-known sportsman _Fred_, by
thousands of people who had never seen either of them.  It seems
impossible, does it not?  Let us look a little closer into the reason of
this interest, and we shall find how simple is the apparent paradox.

Perhaps in no country, in all the world, do the immense middle classes
lead such uninteresting lives, and have such limited resources at their
disposal for amusement or the passing of leisure hours.

Abroad the military bands play constantly in the public parks; the
museums and palaces are always open wherein to pass rainy Sunday
afternoons; every village has its religious _fetes_ and local fair,
attended with dancing and games.  All these mental relaxations are
lacking in our newer civilization; life is stripped of everything that is
not distinctly practical; the dull round of weekly toil is only broken by
the duller idleness of an American Sunday.  Naturally, these people long
for something outside of themselves and their narrow sphere.

Suddenly there arises a class whose wealth permits them to break through
the iron circle of work and boredom, who do picturesque and delightful
things, which appeal directly to the imagination; they build a summer
residence complete, in six weeks, with furniture and bric-a-brac, on the
top of a roadless mountain; they sail in fairylike yachts to summer seas,
and marry their daughters to the heirs of ducal houses; they float up the
Nile in dahabeeyah, or pass the "month of flowers" in far Japan.

It is but human nature to delight in reading of these things.  Here the
great mass of the people find (and eagerly seize on), the element of
romance lacking in their lives, infinitely more enthralling than the
doings of any novel's heroine.  It is real!  It is taking place!
and--still deeper reason--in every ambitious American heart lingers the
secret hope that with luck and good management they too may do those very
things, or at least that their children will enjoy the fortunes they have
gained, in just those ways.  The gloom of the monotonous present is
brightened, the patient toiler returns to his desk with something
definite before him--an objective point--towards which he can struggle;
he knows that this is no impossible dream.  Dozens have succeeded and
prove to him what energy and enterprise can accomplish.

Do not laugh at this suggestion; it is far truer than you imagine.  Many
a weary woman has turned from such reading to her narrow duties, feeling
that life is not all work, and with renewed hope in the possibilities of
the future.

Doubtless a certain amount of purely idle curiosity is mingled with the
other feelings.  I remember quite well showing our city sights to a bored
party of Western friends, and failing entirely to amuse them, when,
happening to mention as we drove up town, "there goes Mr. Blank," (naming
a prominent leader of cotillions), my guests nearly fell over each other
and out of the carriage in their eagerness to see the gentleman of whom
they had read so much, and who was, in those days, a power in his way,
and several times after they expressed the greatest satisfaction at
having seen him.

I have found, with rare exceptions, and the experience has been rather
widely gathered all over the country, that this interest--or call it what
you will--has been entirely without spite or bitterness, rather the
delight of a child in a fairy story.  For people are rarely envious of
things far removed from their grasp.  You will find that a woman who is
bitter because her neighbor has a girl "help" or a more comfortable
cottage, rarely feels envy towards the owners of opera-boxes or yachts.
Such heart-burnings (let us hope they are few) are among a class born in
the shadow of great wealth, and bred up with tastes that they can neither
relinquish nor satisfy.  The large majority of people show only a good-
natured inclination to chaff, none of the "class feeling" which certain
papers and certain politicians try to excite.  Outside of the large
cities with their foreign-bred, semi-anarchistic populations, the tone is
perfectly friendly; for the simple reason that it never entered into the
head of any American to imagine that there _was_ any class difference.  To
him his rich neighbors are simply his lucky neighbors, almost his
relations, who, starting from a common stock, have been able to "get
there" sooner than he has done.  So he wishes them luck on the voyage in
which he expects to join them as soon as he has had time to make a
fortune.

So long as the world exists, or at least until we have reformed it and
adopted Mr. Bellamy's delightful scheme of existence as described in
"Looking Backward," great fortunes will be made, and painful contrasts be
seen, especially in cities, and it would seem to be the duty of the press
to soften--certainly not to sharpen--the edge of discontent.  As long as
human nature is human nature, and the poor care to read of the doings of
the more fortunate, by all means give them the reading they enjoy and
demand, but let it be written in a kindly spirit so that it may be a
cultivation as well as a recreation.  Treat this perfectly natural and
honest taste honestly and naturally, for, after all, it is

   _The desire of the moth for the star_,
   _Of the night for the morrow_.
   _The devotion to something afar_
   _From the sphere of our sorrow_.



No. 3--Contrasted Travelling


When our parents went to Europe fifty years ago, it was the event of a
lifetime--a tour lovingly mapped out in advance with advice from
travelled friends.  Passports were procured, books read, wills made, and
finally, prayers were offered up in church and solemn leave-taking
performed.  Once on the other side, descriptive letters were
conscientiously written, and eagerly read by friends at home,--in spite
of these epistles being on the thinnest of paper and with crossing
carried to a fine art, for postage was high in the forties.  Above all, a
journal was kept.

Such a journal lies before me as I write.  Four little volumes in worn
morocco covers and faded "Italian" writing, more precious than all my
other books combined, their sight recalls that lost time--my youth--when,
as a reward, they were unlocked that I might look at the drawings, and
the sweetest voice in the world would read to me from them!  Happy,
vanished days, that are so far away they seem to have been in another
existence!

The first volume opens with the voyage across the Atlantic, made in an
American clipper (a model unsurpassed the world over), which was
accomplished in thirteen days, a feat rarely equalled now, by sail.
Genial Captain Nye was in command.  The same who later, when a steam
propelled vessel was offered him, refused, as unworthy of a seaman, "to
boil a kettle across the ocean."

Life friendships were made in those little cabins, under the swinging
lamp the travellers re-read last volumes so as to be prepared to
appreciate everything on landing.  Ireland, England and Scotland were
visited with an enthusiasm born of Scott, the tedium of long coaching
journeys being beguiled by the first "numbers" of "Pickwick," over which
the men of the party roared, but which the ladies did not care for,
thinking it vulgar, and not to be compared to "Waverley," "Thaddeus of
Warsaw," or "The Mysteries of Udolpho."

A circular letter to our diplomatic agents abroad was presented in each
city, a rite invariably followed by an invitation to dine, for which
occasions a black satin frock with a low body and a few simple ornaments,
including (supreme elegance) a diamond cross, were carried in the trunks.
In London a travelling carriage was bought and stocked, the indispensable
courier engaged, half guide, half servant, who was expected to explore a
city, or wait at table, as occasion required.  Four days were passed
between Havre and Paris, and the slow progress across Europe was
accomplished, Murray in one hand and Byron in the other.

One page used particularly to attract my boyish attention.  It was headed
by a naive little drawing of the carriage at an Italian inn door, and
described how, after the dangers and discomforts of an Alpine pass, they
descended by sunny slopes into Lombardy.  Oh! the rapture that breathes
from those simple pages!  The vintage scenes, the mid-day halt for
luncheon eaten in the open air, the afternoon start, the front seat of
the carriage heaped with purple grapes, used to fire my youthful
imagination and now recalls Madame de Stael's line on perfect happiness:
"To be young! to be in love! to be in Italy!"

Do people enjoy Europe as much now?  I doubt it!  It has become too much
a matter of course, a necessary part of the routine of life.  Much of the
bloom is brushed from foreign scenes by descriptive books and
photographs, that St. Mark's or Mt. Blanc has become as familiar to a
child's eye as the house he lives in, and in consequence the reality now
instead of being a revelation is often a disappointment.

In my youth, it was still an event to cross.  I remember my first voyage
on the old side-wheeled _Scotia_, and Captain Judkins in a wheeled chair,
and a perpetual bad temper, being pushed about the deck; and our delight,
when the inevitable female asking him (three days out) how far we were
from land, got the answer "about a mile!"

"Indeed!  How interesting!  In which direction?"

"In that direction, madam," shouted the captain, pointing downward as he
turned his back to her.

If I remember, we were then thirteen days getting to Liverpool, and made
the acquaintance on board of the people with whom we travelled during
most of that winter.  Imagine anyone now making an acquaintance on board
a steamer!  In those simple days people depended on the friendships made
at summer hotels or boarding-houses for their visiting list.  At present,
when a girl comes out, her mother presents her to everybody she will be
likely to know if she were to live a century.  In the seventies, ladies
cheerfully shared their state-rooms with women they did not know, and
often became friends in consequence; but now, unless a certain deck-suite
can be secured, with bath and sitting-room, on one or two particular
"steamers," the great lady is in despair.  Yet our mothers were quite as
refined as the present generation, only they took life simply, as they
found it.

Children are now taken abroad so young, that before they have reached an
age to appreciate what they see, Europe has become to them a twice-told
tale.  So true is this, that a receipt for making children good Americans
is to bring them up abroad.  Once they get back here it is hard to entice
them away again.

With each improvement in the speed of our steamers, something of the
glamour of Europe vanishes.  The crowds that yearly rush across see and
appreciate less in a lifetime than our parents did in their one tour
abroad.  A good lady of my acquaintance was complaining recently how much
Paris bored her.

"What can you do to pass the time?" she asked.  I innocently answered
that I knew nothing so entrancing as long mornings passed at the Louvre.

"Oh, yes, I do that too," she replied, "but I like the 'Bon Marche'
best!"

A trip abroad has become a purely social function to a large number of
wealthy Americans, including "presentation" in London and a winter in
Rome or Cairo.  And just as a "smart" Englishman is sure to tell you that
he has never visited the "Tower," it has become good form to ignore the
sight-seeing side of Europe; hundreds of New Yorkers never seeing
anything of Paris beyond the Rue de la Paix and the Bois.  They would as
soon think of going to Cluny or St. Denis as of visiting the museum in
our park!

Such people go to Fontainebleau because they are buying furniture, and
they wish to see the best models.  They go to Versailles on the coach and
"do" the Palace during the half-hour before luncheon.  Beyond that,
enthusiasm rarely carries them.  As soon as they have settled themselves
at the Bristol or the Rhin begins the endless treadmill of leaving cards
on all the people just seen at home, and whom they will meet again in a
couple of months at Newport or Bar Harbor.  This duty and the
all-entrancing occupation of getting clothes fills up every spare hour.
Indeed, clothes seem to pervade the air of Paris in May, the conversation
rarely deviating from them.  If you meet a lady you know looking ill, and
ask the cause, it generally turns out to be "four hours a day standing to
be fitted."  Incredible as it may seem, I have been told of one plain
maiden lady, who makes a trip across, spring and autumn, with the sole
object of getting her two yearly outfits.

Remembering the hundreds of cultivated people whose dream in life (often
unrealized from lack of means) has been to go abroad and visit the scenes
their reading has made familiar, and knowing what such a trip would mean
to them, and how it would be looked back upon during the rest of an
obscure life, I felt it almost a duty to "suppress" a wealthy female
(doubtless an American cousin of Lady Midas) when she informed me, the
other day, that decidedly she would not go abroad this spring.

"It is not necessary.  Worth has my measures!"



No. 4--The Outer and the Inner Woman


It is a sad commentary on our boasted civilization that cases of
shoplifting occur more and more frequently each year, in which the
delinquents are women of education and refinement, or at least belong to
families and occupy positions in which one would expect to find those
qualities!  The reason, however, is not difficult to discover.

In the wake of our hasty and immature prosperity has come (as it does to
all suddenly enriched societies) a love of ostentation, a desire to
dazzle the crowd by displays of luxury and rich trappings indicative of
crude and vulgar standards.  The newly acquired money, instead of being
expended for solid comforts or articles which would afford lasting
satisfaction, is lavished on what can be worn in public, or the outer
shell of display, while the home table and fireside belongings are
neglected.  A glance around our theatres, or at the men and women in our
crowded thoroughfares, is sufficient to reveal to even a casual observer
that the mania for fine clothes and what is costly, _per se_, has become
the besetting sin of our day and our land.

The tone of most of the papers and of our theatrical advertisements
reflects this feeling.  The amount of money expended for a work of art or
a new building is mentioned before any comment as to its beauty or
fitness.  A play is spoken of as "Manager So and So's thirty-thousand-
dollar production!"  The fact that a favorite actress will appear in four
different dresses during the three acts of a comedy, each toilet being a
special creation designed for her by a leading Parisian house, is
considered of supreme importance and is dwelt upon in the programme as a
special attraction.

It would be astonishing if the taste of our women were different,
considering the way clothes are eternally being dangled before their
eyes.  Leading papers publish illustrated supplements devoted exclusively
to the subject of attire, thus carrying temptation into every humble
home, and suggesting unattainable luxuries.  Windows in many of the
larger shops contain life-sized manikins loaded with the latest costly
and ephemeral caprices of fashion arranged to catch the eye of the poorer
class of women, who stand in hundreds gazing at the display like larks
attracted by a mirror!  Watch those women as they turn away, and listen
to their sighs of discontent and envy.  Do they not tell volumes about
petty hopes and ambitions?

I do not refer to the wealthy women whose toilets are in keeping with
their incomes and the general footing of their households; that they
should spend more or less in fitting themselves out daintily is of little
importance.  The point where this subject becomes painful is in families
of small means where young girls imagine that to be elaborately dressed
is the first essential of existence, and, in consequence, bend their
labors and their intelligence towards this end.  Last spring I asked an
old friend where she and her daughters intended passing their summer.  Her
answer struck me as being characteristic enough to quote: "We should much
prefer," she said, "returning to Bar Harbor, for we all enjoy that place
and have many friends there.  But the truth is, my daughters have bought
themselves very little in the way of toilet this year, as our finances
are not in a flourishing condition.  So my poor girls will be obliged to
make their last year's dresses do for another season.  Under these
circumstances, it is out of the question for us to return a second summer
to the same place."

I do not know how this anecdote strikes my readers.  It made me
thoughtful and sad to think that, in a family of intelligent and
practical women, such a reason should be considered sufficient to
outweigh enjoyment, social relations, even health, and allowed to change
the plans of an entire family.

As American women are so fond of copying English ways they should be
willing to take a few lessons on the subject of raiment from across the
water.  As this is not intended to be a dissertation on "How to Dress
Well on Nothing a Year," and as I feel the greatest diffidence in
approaching a subject of which I know absolutely nothing, it will be
better to sheer off from these reefs and quicksands.  Every one who reads
these lines will know perfectly well what is meant, when reference is
made to the good sense and practical utility of English women's dress.

What disgusts and angers me (when my way takes me into our surface or
elevated cars or into ferry boats and local trains) is the utter
dissonance between the outfit of most of the women I meet and their
position and occupation.  So universal is this, that it might almost be
laid down as an axiom, that the American woman, no matter in what walk of
life you observe her, or what the time or the place, is always
persistently and grotesquely overdressed.  From the women who frequent
the hotels of our summer or winter resorts, down all the steps of the
social staircase to the char-woman, who consents (spasmodically) to
remove the dust and waste-papers from my office, there seems to be the
same complete disregard of fitness.  The other evening, in leaving my
rooms, I brushed against a portly person in the half-light of the
corridor.  There was a shimmer of (what appeared to my inexperienced eyes
as) costly stuffs, a huge hat crowned the shadow itself, "topped by
nodding plumes," which seemed to account for the depleted condition of my
feather duster.

I found on inquiring of the janitor, that the dressy person I had met,
was the char-woman in street attire, and that a closet was set aside in
the building, for the special purpose of her morning and evening
transformations, which she underwent in the belief that her social
position in Avenue A would suffer, should she appear in the streets
wearing anything less costly than seal-skin and velvet or such imitations
of those expensive materials as her stipend would permit.

I have as tenants of a small wooden house in Jersey City, a bank clerk,
his wife and their three daughters.  He earns in the neighborhood of
fifteen hundred dollars a year.  Their rent (with which, by the way, they
are always in arrears) is three hundred dollars.  I am favored spring and
autumn by a visit from the ladies of that family, in the hope (generally
futile) of inducing me to do some ornamental papering or painting in
their residence, subjects on which they have by experience found my agent
to be unapproachable.  When those four women descend upon me, I am fairly
dazzled by the splendor of their attire, and lost in wonder as to how the
price of all that finery can have been squeezed out of the twelve
remaining hundreds of their income.  When I meet the father he is shabby
to the outer limits of the genteel.  His hat has, I am sure, supported
the suns and snowstorms of a dozen seasons.  There is a threadbare shine
on his apparel that suggests a heartache in each whitened seam, but the
ladies are mirrors of fashion, as well as moulds of form.  What can
remain for any creature comforts after all those fine clothes have been
paid for?  And how much is put away for the years when the long-suffering
money maker will be past work, or saved towards the time when sickness or
accident shall appear on the horizon?  How those ladies had the "nerve"
to enter a ferry boat or crowd into a cable car, dressed as they were,
has always been a marvel to me.  A landau and two liveried servants would
barely have been in keeping with their appearance.

Not long ago, a great English nobleman, who is also famous in the
yachting world, visited this country accompanied by his two daughters,
high-bred and genial ladies.  No self-respecting American shop girl or
fashionable typewriter would have condescended to appear in the
inexpensive attire which those English women wore.  Wherever one met
them, at dinner, _fete_, or ball, they were always the most simply
dressed women in the room.  I wonder if it ever occurred to any of their
gorgeously attired hostesses, that it was because their transatlantic
guests were so sure of their position, that they contented themselves
with such simple toilets knowing that nothing they might wear could
either improve or alter their standing.

In former ages, sumptuary laws were enacted by parental governments, in
the hope of suppressing extravagance in dress, the state of affairs we
deplore now, not being a new development of human weakness, but as old as
wealth.

The desire to shine by the splendor of one's trappings is the first idea
of the parvenu, especially here in this country, where the ambitious are
denied the pleasure of acquiring a title, and where official rank carries
with it so little social weight.  Few more striking ways present
themselves to the crude and half-educated for the expenditure of a new
fortune than the purchase of sumptuous apparel, the satisfaction being
immediate and material.  The wearer of a complete and perfect toilet must
experience a delight of which the uninitiated know nothing, for such
cruel sacrifices are made and so many privations endured to procure this
satisfaction.  When I see groups of women, clad in the latest designs of
purple and fine linen, stand shivering on street corners of a winter
night, until they can crowd into a car, I doubt if the joy they get from
their clothes, compensates them for the creature comforts they are forced
to forego, and I wonder if it never occurs to them to spend less on their
wardrobes and so feel they can afford to return from a theatre or concert
comfortably, in a cab, as a foreign woman, with their income would do.

There is a stoical determination about the American point of view that
compels a certain amount of respect.  Our countrywomen will deny
themselves pleasures, will economize on their food and will remain in
town during the summer, but when walking abroad they must be clad in the
best, so that no one may know by their appearance if the income be
counted by hundreds or thousands.

While these standards prevail and the female mind is fixed on this
subject with such dire intent, it is not astonishing that a weaker sister
is occasionally tempted beyond her powers of resistance.  Nor that each
day a new case of a well-dressed woman thieving in a shop reaches our
ears.  The poor feeble-minded creature is not to blame.  She is but the
reflexion of the minds around her and is probably like the lady Emerson
tells of, who confessed to him "that the sense of being perfectly well-
dressed had given her a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion was
powerless to bestow."



No. 5--On Some Gilded Misalliances


A dear old American lady, who lived the greater part of her life in Rome,
and received every body worth knowing in her spacious drawing-rooms, far
up in the dim vastnesses of a Roman palace, used to say that she had only
known one really happy marriage made by an American girl abroad.

In those days, being young and innocent, I considered that remark
cynical, and in my heart thought nothing could be more romantic and
charming than for a fair compatriot to assume an historic title and
retire to her husband's estates, and rule smilingly over him and a
devoted tenantry, as in the last act of a comic opera, when a
rose-colored light is burning and the orchestra plays the last brilliant
chords of a wedding march.

There seemed to my perverted sense a certain poetic justice about the
fact that money, gained honestly but prosaically, in groceries or gas,
should go to regild an ancient blazon or prop up the crumbling walls of
some stately palace abroad.

Many thoughtful years and many cruel realities have taught me that my
gracious hostess of the "seventies" was right, and that marriage under
these conditions is apt to be much more like the comic opera after the
curtain has been rung down, when the lights are out, the applauding
public gone home, and the weary actors brought slowly back to the present
and the positive, are wondering how they are to pay their rent or dodge
the warrant in ambush around the corner.

International marriages usually come about from a deficient knowledge of
the world.  The father becomes rich, the family travel abroad, some
mutual friend (often from purely interested motives) produces a suitor
for the hand of the daughter, in the shape of a "prince" with a title
that makes the whole simple American family quiver with delight.

After a few visits the suitor declares himself; the girl is flattered,
the father loses his head, seeing visions of his loved daughter
hob-nobbing with royalty, and (intoxicating thought!) snubbing the
"swells" at home who had shown reluctance to recognize him and his
family.

It is next to impossible for him to get any reliable information about
his future son-in-law in a country where, as an American, he has few
social relations, belongs to no club, and whose idiom is a sealed book to
him.  Every circumstance conspires to keep the flaws on the article for
sale out of sight and place the suitor in an advantageous light.  Several
weeks' "courting" follows, paterfamilias agrees to part with a handsome
share of his earnings, and a marriage is "arranged."

In the case where the girl has retained some of her self-respect the
suitor is made to come to her country for the ceremony.  And, that the
contrast between European ways and our simple habits may not be too
striking, an establishment is hastily got together, with hired liveries
and new-bought carriages, as in a recent case in this state.  The
sensational papers write up this "international union," and publish
"faked" portraits of the bride and her noble spouse.  The sovereign of
the groom's country (enchanted that some more American money is to be
imported into his land) sends an economical present and an autograph
letter.  The act ends.  Limelight and slow music!

In a few years rumors of dissent and trouble float vaguely back to the
girl's family.  Finally, either a great scandal occurs, and there is one
dishonored home the more in the world, or an expatriated woman, thousands
of miles from the friends and relatives who might be of some comfort to
her, makes up her mind to accept "anything" for the sake of her children,
and attempts to build up some sort of an existence out of the remains of
her lost illusions, and the father wakes up from his dream to realize
that his wealth has only served to ruin what he loved best in all the
world.

Sometimes the conditions are delightfully comic, as in a well-known case,
where the daughter, who married into an indolent, happy-go-lucky Italian
family, had inherited her father's business push and energy along with
his fortune, and immediately set about "running" her husband's estate as
she had seen her father do his bank.  She tried to revive a
half-forgotten industry in the district, scraped and whitewashed their
picturesque old villa, proposed her husband's entering business, and in
short dashed head down against all his inherited traditions and national
prejudices, until her new family loathed the sight of the brisk American
face, and the poor she had tried to help, sulked in their newly drained
houses and refused to be comforted.  Her ways were not Italian ways, and
she seemed to the nun-like Italian ladies, almost unsexed, as she tramped
about the fields, talking artificial manure and subsoil drainage with the
men.  Yet neither she nor her husband was to blame.  The young Italian
had but followed the teachings of his family, which decreed that the only
honorable way for an aristocrat to acquire wealth was to marry it.  The
American wife honestly tried to do her duty in this new position, naively
thinking she could engraft transatlantic "go" upon the indolent Italian
character.  Her work was in vain; she made herself and her husband so
unpopular that they are now living in this country, regretting too late
the error of their ways.

Another case but little less laughable, is that of a Boston girl with a
neat little fortune of her own, who, when married to the young Viennese
of her choice, found that he expected her to live with his family on the
third floor of their "palace" (the two lower floors being rented to
foreigners), and as there was hardly enough money for a box at the opera,
she was not expected to go, whereas his position made it necessary for
him to have a stall and appear there nightly among the men of his rank,
the astonished and disillusioned Bostonian remaining at home _en tete-a-
tete_ with the women of his family, who seemed to think this the most
natural arrangement in the world.

It certainly is astonishing that we, the most patriotic of nations, with
such high opinion of ourselves and our institutions, should be so ready
to hand over our daughters and our ducats to the first foreigner who asks
for them, often requiring less information about him than we should
consider necessary before buying a horse or a dog.

Women of no other nation have this mania for espousing aliens.  Nowhere
else would a girl with a large fortune dream of marrying out of her
country.  Her highest ideal of a husband would be a man of her own kin.
It is the rarest thing in the world to find a well-born French, Spanish,
or Italian woman married to a foreigner and living away from her country.
How can a woman expect to be happy separated from all the ties and
traditions of her youth?  If she is taken abroad young, she may still
hope to replace her friends as is often done.  But the real reason of
unhappiness (greater and deeper than this) lies in the fundamental
difference of the whole social structure between our country and that of
her adoption, and the radically different way of looking at every side of
life.

Surely a girl must feel that a man who allows a marriage to be arranged
for him (and only signs the contact because its pecuniary clauses are to
his satisfaction, and who would withdraw in a moment if these were
suppressed), must have an entirely different point of view from her own
on all the vital issues of life.

Foreigners undoubtedly make excellent husbands for their own women.  But
they are, except in rare cases, unsatisfactory helpmeets for American
girls.  It is impossible to touch on more than a side or two of this
subject.  But as an illustration the following contrasted stories may be
cited:

Two sisters of an aristocratic American family, each with an income of
over forty thousand dollars a year, recently married French noblemen.
They naturally expected to continue abroad the life they had led at home,
in which opera boxes, saddle horses, and constant entertaining were
matters of course.  In both cases, our compatriots discovered that their
husbands (neither of them penniless) had entirely different views.  In
the first place, they were told that it was considered "bad form" in
France for young married women to entertain; besides, the money was
needed for improvements, and in many other ways, and as every well-to-do
French family puts aside at least a third of its income as _dots_ for the
children (boys as well as girls), these brides found themselves cramped
for money for the first time in their lives, and obliged, during their
one month a year in Paris, to put up with hired traps, and depend on
their friends for evenings at the opera.

This story is a telling set-off to the case of an American wife, who one
day received a windfall in the form of a check for a tidy amount.  She
immediately proposed a trip abroad to her husband, but found that he
preferred to remain at home in the society of his horses and dogs.  So
our fair compatriot starts off (with his full consent), has her outing,
spends her little "pile," and returns after three or four months to the
home of her delighted spouse.

Do these two stories need any comment?  Let our sisters and their friends
think twice before they make themselves irrevocably wheels in a machine
whose working is unknown to them, lest they be torn to pieces as it
moves.  Having the good luck to be born in the "paradise of women," let
them beware how they leave it, charm the serpent never so wisely, for
they may find themselves, like the Peri, outside the gate.



No. 6--The Complacency of Mediocrity


Full as small intellects are of queer kinks, unexplained turnings and
groundless likes and dislikes, the bland contentment that buoys up the
incompetent is the most difficult of all vagaries to account for.  Rarely
do twenty-four hours pass without examples of this exasperating weakness
appearing on the surface of those shallows that commonplace people so
naively call "their minds."

What one would expect is extreme modesty, in the half-educated or the
ignorant, and self-approbation higher up in the scale, where it might
more reasonably dwell.  Experience, however, teaches that exactly the
opposite is the case among those who have achieved success.

The accidents of a life turned by chance out of the beaten tracks, have
thrown me at times into acquaintanceship with some of the greater lights
of the last thirty years.  And not only have they been, as a rule, most
unassuming men and women; but in the majority of cases positively self-
depreciatory; doubting of themselves and their talents, constantly aiming
at greater perfection in their art or a higher development of their
powers, never contented with what they have achieved, beyond the idea
that it has been another step toward their goal.  Knowing this, it is
always a shock on meeting the mediocre people who form such a
discouraging majority in any society, to discover that they are all so
pleased with themselves, their achievements, their place in the world,
and their own ability and discernment!

Who has not sat chafing in silence while Mediocrity, in a white waistcoat
and jangling fobs, occupied the after-dinner hour in imparting second-
hand information as his personal views on literature and art?  Can you
not hear him saying once again: "I don't pretend to know anything about
art and all that sort of thing, you know, but when I go to an exhibition
I can always pick out the best pictures at a glance.  Sort of a way I
have, and I never make mistakes, you know."

Then go and watch, as I have, Henri Rochefort as he laboriously forms the
opinions that are to appear later in one of his "_Salons_," realizing the
while that he is _facile princeps_ among the art critics of his day, that
with a line he can make or mar a reputation and by a word draw the
admiring crowd around an unknown canvas.  While Rochefort toils and
ponders and hesitates, do you suppose a doubt as to his own astuteness
ever dims the self-complacency of White Waistcoat?  Never!

There lies the strength of the feeble-minded.  By a special dispensation
of Providence, they can never see but one side of a subject, so are
always convinced that they are right, and from the height of their
contentment, look down on those who chance to differ with them.

A lady who has gathered into her dainty salons the fruit of many years'
careful study and tireless "weeding" will ask anxiously if you are quite
sure you like the effect of her latest acquisition--some
eighteenth-century statuette or screen (flotsam, probably, from the great
shipwreck of Versailles), and listen earnestly to your verdict.  The good
soul who has just furnished her house by contract, with the latest "Louis
Fourteenth Street" productions, conducts you complacently through her
chambers of horrors, wreathed in tranquil smiles, born of ignorance and
that smug assurance granted only to the--small.

When a small intellect goes in for cultivating itself and improving its
mind, you realize what the poet meant in asserting that a little learning
was a dangerous thing.  For Mediocrity is apt, when it dines out, to get
up a subject beforehand, and announce to an astonished circle, as quite
new and personal discoveries, that the Renaissance was introduced into
France from Italy, or that Columbus in his day made important "finds."

When the incompetent advance another step and write or paint--which,
alas! is only too frequent--the world of art and literature is flooded
with their productions.  When White Waistcoat, for example, takes to
painting, late in life, and comes to you, canvas in hand, for criticism
(read praise), he is apt to remark modestly:

"Corot never painted until he was fifty, and I am only forty-eight.  So I
feel I should not let myself be discouraged."

The problem of life is said to be the finding of a happiness that is not
enjoyed at the expense of others, and surely this class have solved that
Sphinx's riddle, for they float through their days in a dream of
complacency disturbed neither by corroding doubt nor harassed by
jealousies.

Whole families of feeble-minded people, on the strength of an ancestor
who achieved distinction a hundred years ago, live in constant
thanksgiving that they "are not as other men."  None of the great man's
descendants have done anything to be particularly proud of since their
remote progenitor signed the Declaration of Independence or governed a
colony.  They have vegetated in small provincial cities and inter-married
into other equally fortunate families, but the sense of superiority is
ever present to sustain them, under straitened circumstances and
diminishing prestige.  The world may move on around them, but they never
advance.  Why should they?  They have reached perfection.  The brains and
enterprise that have revolutionized our age knock in vain at their doors.
They belong to that vast "majority that is always in the wrong," being so
pleased with themselves, their ways, and their feeble little lines of
thought, that any change or advancement gives their system a shock.

A painter I know was once importuned for a sketch by a lady of this
class.  After many delays and renewed demands he presented her one day,
when she and some friends were visiting his studio, with a delightful
open-air study simply framed.  She seemed confused at the offering, to
his astonishment, as she had not lacked _aplomb_ in asking for the
sketch.  After much blushing and fumbling she succeeded in getting the
painting loose, and handing back the frame, remarked:

"I will take the painting, but you must keep the frame.  My husband would
never allow me to accept anything of value from you!"--and smiled on the
speechless painter, doubtless charmed with her own tact.

Complacent people are the same drag on a society that a brake would be to
a coach going up hill.  They are the "eternal negative" and would
extinguish, if they could, any light stronger than that to which their
weak eyes have been accustomed.  They look with astonishment and distrust
at any one trying to break away from their tiresome old ways and habits,
and wonder why all the world is not as pleased with their personalities
as they are themselves, suggesting, if you are willing to waste your time
listening to their twaddle, that there is something radically wrong in
any innovation, that both "Church and State" will be imperilled if things
are altered.  No blight, no mildew is more fatal to a plant than the
"complacent" are to the world.  They resent any progress and are offended
if you mention before them any new standards or points of view.  "What
has been good enough for us and our parents should certainly be
satisfactory to the younger generations."  It seems to the contented like
pure presumption on the part of their acquaintances to wander after
strange gods, in the shape of new ideals, higher standards of culture, or
a perfected refinement of surroundings.

We are perhaps wrong to pity complacent people.  It is for another class
our sympathy should be kept; for those who cannot refrain from doubting
of themselves and the value of their work--those unfortunate gifted and
artistic spirits who descend too often the _via dolorosa_ of discontent
and despair, who have a higher ideal than their neighbors, and, in
struggling after an unattainable perfection, fall by the wayside.



No. 7--The Discontent of Talent


The complacency that buoys up self-sufficient souls, soothing them with
the illusion that they themselves, their towns, country, language, and
habits are above improvement, causing them to shudder, as at a sacrilege,
if any changes are suggested, is fortunately limited to a class of stay-
at-home nonentities.  In proportion as it is common among them, is it
rare or delightfully absent in any society of gifted or imaginative
people.

Among our globe-trotting compatriots this defect is much less general
than in the older nations of the world, for the excellent reason, that
the moment a man travels or takes the trouble to know people of different
nationalities, his armor of complacency receives so severe a blow, that
it is shattered forever, the wanderer returning home wiser and much more
modest.  There seems to be something fatal to conceit in the air of great
centres; professionally or in general society a man so soon finds his
level.

The "great world" may foster other faults; human nature is sure to
develop some in every walk of life.  Smug contentment, however,
disappears in its rarefied atmosphere, giving place to a craving for
improvement, a nervous alertness that keeps the mind from stagnating and
urges it on to do its best.

It is never the beautiful woman who sits down in smiling serenity before
her mirror.  She is tireless in her efforts to enhance her beauty and set
it off to the best advantage.  Her figure is never slender enough, nor
her carriage sufficiently erect to satisfy.  But the "frump" will let
herself and all her surroundings go to seed, not from humbleness of mind
or an overwhelming sense of her own unworthiness, but in pure complacent
conceit.

A criticism to which the highly gifted lay themselves open from those who
do not understand them, is their love of praise, the critics failing to
grasp the fact that this passion for measuring one's self with others,
like the gad-fly pursuing poor Io, never allows a moment's repose in the
green pastures of success, but goads them constantly up the rocky sides
of endeavor.  It is not that they love flattery, but that they need
approbation as a counterpoise to the dark moments of self-abasement and
as a sustaining aid for higher flights.

Many years ago I was present at a final sitting which my master, Carolus
Duran, gave to one of my fair compatriots.  He knew that the lady was
leaving Paris on the morrow, and that in an hour, her husband and his
friends were coming to see and criticise the portrait--always a terrible
ordeal for an artist.

To any one familiar with this painter's moods, it was evident that the
result of the sitting was not entirely satisfactory.  The quick
breathing, the impatient tapping movement of the foot, the swift backward
springs to obtain a better view, so characteristic of him in moments of
doubt, and which had twenty years before earned him the name of _le
danseur_ from his fellow-copyists at the Louvre, betrayed to even a
casual observer that his discouragement and discontent were at boiling
point.

The sound of a bell and a murmur of voices announced the entrance of the
visitors into the vast studio.  After the formalities of introduction had
been accomplished the new-comers glanced at the portrait, but uttered
never a word.  From it they passed in a perfectly casual manner to an
inspection of the beautiful contents of the room, investigating the
tapestries, admiring the armor, and finally, after another glance at the
portrait, the husband remarked: "You have given my wife a jolly long
neck, haven't you?" and, turning to his friends, began laughing and
chatting in English.

If vitriol had been thrown on my poor master's quivering frame, the
effect could not have been more instantaneous, his ignorance of the
language spoken doubtless exaggerating his impression of being ridiculed.
Suddenly he turned very white, and before any of us had divined his
intention he had seized a Japanese sword lying by and cut a dozen gashes
across the canvas.  Then, dropping his weapon, he flung out of the room,
leaving his sitter and her friends in speechless consternation, to wonder
then and ever after in what way they had offended him.  In their
opinions, if a man had talent and understood his business, he should
produce portraits with the same ease that he would answer dinner
invitations, and if they paid for, they were in no way bound also to
praise, his work.  They were entirely pleased with the result, but did
not consider it necessary to tell him so, no idea having crossed their
minds that he might be in one of those moods so frequent with artistic
natures, when words of approbation and praise are as necessary to them,
as the air we breathe is to us, mortals of a commoner clay.

Even in the theatrical and operatic professions, those hotbeds of
conceit, you will generally find among the "stars" abysmal depths of
discouragement and despair.  One great tenor, who has delighted New York
audiences during several winters past, invariably announces to his
intimates on arising that his "voice has gone," and that, in consequence
he will "never sing again," and has to be caressed and cajoled back into
some semblance of confidence before attempting a performance.  This same
artist, with an almost limitless repertoire and a reputation no new
successes could enhance, recently risked all to sing what he considered a
higher class of music, infinitely more fatiguing to his voice, because he
was impelled onward by the ideal that forces genius to constant
improvement and development of its powers.

What the people who meet these artists occasionally at a private concert
or behind the scenes during the intense strain of a representation, take
too readily for monumental egoism and conceit, is, the greater part of
the time, merely the desire for a sustaining word, a longing for the
stimulant of praise.

All actors and singers are but big children, and must be humored and
petted like children when you wish them to do their best.  It is
necessary for them to feel in touch with their audiences; to be assured
that they are not falling below the high ideals formed for their work.

Some winters ago a performance at the opera nearly came to a standstill
because an all-conquering soprano was found crying in her dressing-room.
After many weary moments of consolation and questioning, it came out that
she felt quite sure she no longer had any talent.  One of the other
singers had laughed at her voice, and in consequence there was nothing
left to live for.  A half-hour later, owing to judicious "treatment," she
was singing gloriously and bowing her thanks to thunders of applause.

Rather than blame this divine discontent that has made man what he is to-
day, let us glorify and envy it, pitying the while the frail mortal
vessels it consumes with its flame.  No adulation can turn such natures
from their goal, and in the hour of triumph the slave is always at their
side to whisper the word of warning.  This discontent is the leaven that
has raised the whole loaf of dull humanity to better things and higher
efforts, those privileged to feel it are the suns that illuminate our
system.  If on these luminaries observers have discovered spots, it is
well to remember that these blemishes are but the defects of their
qualities, and better far than the total eclipse that shrouds so large a
part of humanity in colorless complacency.

It will never be known how many master-pieces have been lost to the world
because at the critical moment a friend has not been at hand with the
stimulant of sympathy and encouragement needed by an overworked,
straining artist who was beginning to lose confidence in himself; to
soothe his irritated nerves with the balm of praise, and take his poor
aching head on a friendly shoulder and let him sob out there all his
doubt and discouragement.

So let us not be niggardly or ungenerous in meting out to struggling
fellow-beings their share, and perchance a little more than their share
of approbation and applause, poor enough return, after all, for the
pleasure their labors have procured us.  What adequate compensation can
we mete out to an author for the hours of delight and self-forgetfulness
his talent has brought to us in moments of loneliness, illness, or grief?
What can pay our debt to a painter who has fixed on canvas the face we
love?

The little return that it is in our power to make for all the joy these
gifted fellow-beings bring into our lives is (closing our eyes to minor
imperfections) to warmly applaud them as they move upward, along their
stony path.



No. 8--Slouch


I should like to see, in every school-room of our growing country, in
every business office, at the railway stations, and on street corners,
large placards placed with "Do not slouch" printed thereon in distinct
and imposing characters.  If ever there was a tendency that needed
nipping in the bud (I fear the bud is fast becoming a full-blown flower),
it is this discouraging national failing.

Each year when I return from my spring wanderings, among the benighted
and effete nations of the Old World, on whom the untravelled American
looks down from the height of his superiority, I am struck anew by the
contrast between the trim, well-groomed officials left behind on one side
of the ocean and the happy-go-lucky, slouching individuals I find on the
other.

As I ride up town this unpleasant impression deepens.  In the "little
Mother Isle" I have just left, bus-drivers have quite a coaching air,
with hat and coat of knowing form.  They sport flowers in their button-
holes and salute other bus-drivers, when they meet, with a twist of whip
and elbow refreshingly correct, showing that they take pride in their
calling, and have been at some pains to turn themselves out as smart in
appearance as finances would allow.

Here, on the contrary, the stage and cab drivers I meet seem to be under
a blight, and to have lost all interest in life.  They lounge on the box,
their legs straggling aimlessly, one hand holding the reins, the other
hanging dejectedly by the side.  Yet there is little doubt that these
heartbroken citizens are earning double what their London _confreres_
gain.  The shadow of the national peculiarity is over them.

When I get to my rooms, the elevator boy is reclining in the lift, and
hardly raises his eye-lids as he languidly manoeuvres the rope.  I have
seen that boy now for months, but never when his boots and clothes were
brushed or when his cravat was not riding proudly above his collar.  On
occasions I have offered him pins, which he took wearily, doubtless
because it was less trouble than to refuse.  The next day, however, his
cravat again rode triumphant, mocking my efforts to keep it in its place.
His hair, too, has been a cause of wonder to me.  How does he manage to
have it always so long and so unkempt?  More than once, when expecting
callers, I have bribed him to have it cut, but it seemed to grow in the
night, back to its poetic profusion.

In what does this noble disregard for appearances which characterizes
American men originate?  Our climate, as some suggest, or discouragement
at not all being millionaires?  It more likely comes from an absence with
us of the military training that abroad goes so far toward licking young
men into shape.

I shall never forget the surprise on the face of a French statesman to
whom I once expressed my sympathy for his country, laboring under the
burden of so vast a standing army.  He answered:

"The financial burden is doubtless great; but you have others.  Witness
your pension expenditures.  With us the money drawn from the people is
used in such a way as to be of inestimable value to them.  We take the
young hobbledehoy farm-hand or mechanic, ignorant, mannerless, uncleanly
as he may be, and turn him out at the end of three years with his
regiment, self-respecting and well-mannered, with habits of cleanliness
and obedience, having acquired a bearing, and a love of order that will
cling to and serve him all his life.  We do not go so far," he added, "as
our English neighbors in drilling men into superb manikins of 'form' and
carriage.  Our authorities do not consider it necessary.  But we reclaim
youths from the slovenliness of their native village or workshop and make
them tidy and mannerly citizens."

These remarks came to mind the other day as I watched a group of New
England youths lounging on the steps of the village store, or sitting in
rows on a neighboring fence, until I longed to try if even a judicial
arrangement of tacks, 'business-end up,' on these favorite seats would
infuse any energy into their movements.  I came to the conclusion that my
French acquaintance was right, for the only trim-looking men to be seen,
were either veterans of our war or youths belonging to the local militia.
And nowhere does one see finer specimens of humanity than West Point and
Annapolis turn out.

If any one doubts what kind of men slouching youths develop into, let him
look when he travels, at the dejected appearance of the farmhouses
throughout our land.  Surely our rural populations are not so much poorer
than those of other countries.  Yet when one compares the dreary homes of
even our well-to-do farmers with the smiling, well-kept hamlets seen in
England or on the Continent, such would seem to be the case.

If ours were an old and bankrupt nation, this air of discouragement and
decay could not be greater.  Outside of the big cities one looks in vain
for some sign of American dash and enterprise in the appearance of our
men and their homes.

During a journey of over four thousand miles, made last spring as the
guest of a gentleman who knows our country thoroughly, I was impressed
most painfully with this abject air.  Never in all those days did we see
a fruit-tree trained on some sunny southern wall, a smiling flower-garden
or carefully clipped hedge.  My host told me that hardly the necessary
vegetables are grown, the inhabitants of the West and South preferring
canned food.  It is less trouble!

If you wish to form an idea of the extent to which slouch prevails in our
country, try to start a "village improvement society," and experience, as
others have done, the apathy and ill-will of the inhabitants when you go
about among them and strive to summon some of their local pride to your
aid.

In the town near which I pass my summers, a large stone, fallen from a
passing dray, lay for days in the middle of the principal street, until I
paid some boys to remove it.  No one cared, and the dull-eyed inhabitants
would doubtless be looking at it still but for my impatience.

One would imagine the villagers were all on the point of moving away (and
they generally are, if they can sell their land), so little interest do
they show in your plans.  Like all people who have fallen into bad
habits, they have grown to love their slatternly ways and cling to them,
resenting furiously any attempt to shake them up to energy and reform.

The farmer has not, however, a monopoly.  Slouch seems ubiquitous.  Our
railway and steam-boat systems have tried in vain to combat it, and
supplied their employees with a livery (I beg the free and independent
voter's pardon, a uniform!), with but little effect.  The inherent
tendency is too strong for the corporations.  The conductors still
shuffle along in their spotted garments, the cap on the back of the head,
and their legs anywhere, while they chew gum in defiance of the whole
Board of Directors.

Go down to Washington, after a visit to the Houses of Parliament or the
Chamber of Deputies, and observe the contrast between the bearing of our
Senators and Representatives and the air of their _confreres_ abroad.  Our
law-makers seem trying to avoid every appearance of "smartness."  Indeed,
I am told, so great is the prejudice in the United States against a well-
turned-out man that a candidate would seriously compromise his chances of
election who appeared before his constituents in other than the
accustomed shabby frock-coat, unbuttoned and floating, a pot hat, no
gloves, as much doubtfully white shirt-front as possible, and a wisp of
black silk for a tie; and if he can exhibit also a chin-whisker, his
chances of election are materially increased.

Nothing offends an eye accustomed to our native _laisser aller_ so much
as a well-brushed hat and shining boots.  When abroad, it is easy to spot
a compatriot as soon and as far as you can see one, by his graceless
gait, a cross between a lounge and a shuffle.  In reading-, or dining-
room, he is the only man whose spine does not seem equal to its work, so
he flops and straggles until, for the honor of your land, you long to
shake him and set him squarely on his legs.

No amount of reasoning can convince me that outward slovenliness is not a
sign of inward and moral supineness.  A neglected exterior generally
means a lax moral code.  The man who considers it too much trouble to sit
erect can hardly have given much time to his tub or his toilet.  Having
neglected his clothes, he will neglect his manners, and between morals
and manners we know the tie is intimate.

In the Orient a new reign is often inaugurated by the construction of a
mosque.  Vast expense is incurred to make it as splendid as possible.
But, once completed, it is never touched again.  Others are built by
succeeding sovereigns, but neither thought nor treasure is ever expended
on the old ones.  When they can no longer be used, they are abandoned,
and fall into decay.  The same system seems to prevail among our private
owners and corporations.  Streets are paved, lamp-posts erected, store-
fronts carefully adorned, but from the hour the workman puts his
finishing touch upon them they are abandoned to the hand of fate.  The
mud may cake up knee-deep, wind and weather work their own sweet will, it
is no one's business to interfere.

When abroad one of my amusements has been of an early morning to watch
Paris making its toilet.  The streets are taking a bath, liveried
attendants are blacking the boots of the lamp-posts and
newspaper-_kiosques_, the shop-fronts are being shaved and having their
hair curled, cafe's and restaurants are putting on clean shirts and tying
their cravats smartly before their many mirrors.  By the time the world
is up and about, the whole city, smiling freshly from its matutinal tub,
is ready to greet it gayly.

It is this attention to detail that gives to Continental cities their air
of cheerfulness and thrift, and the utter lack of it that impresses
foreigners so painfully on arriving at our shores.

It has been the fashion to laugh at the dude and his high collar, at the
darky in his master's cast-off clothes, aping style and fashion.  Better
the dude, better the colored dandy, better even the Bowery "tough" with
his affected carriage, for they at least are reaching blindly out after
something better than their surroundings, striving after an ideal, and
are in just so much the superiors of the foolish souls who mock
them--better, even misguided efforts, than the ignoble stagnant quagmire
of slouch into which we seem to be slowly descending.



No. 9--Social Suggestion


The question of how far we are unconsciously influenced by people and
surroundings, in our likes and dislikes, our opinions, and even in our
pleasures and intimate tastes, is a delicate and interesting one, for the
line between success and failure in the world, as on the stage or in most
of the professions, is so narrow and depends so often on what humor one's
"public" happen to be in at a particular moment, that the subject is
worthy of consideration.

Has it never happened to you, for instance, to dine with friends and go
afterwards in a jolly humor to the play which proved so delightful that
you insist on taking your family immediately to see it; when to your
astonishment you discover that it is neither clever nor amusing, on the
contrary rather dull.  Your family look at you in amazement and wonder
what you had seen to admire in such an asinine performance.  There was a
case of suggestion!  You had been influenced by your friends and had
shared their opinions.  The same thing occurs on a higher scale when one
is raised out of one's self by association with gifted and original
people, a communion with more cultivated natures which causes you to
discover and appreciate a thousand hidden beauties in literature, art or
music that left to yourself, you would have failed to notice.  Under
these circumstances you will often be astonished at the point and
piquancy of your own conversation.  This is but too true of a number of
subjects.

We fondly believe our opinions and convictions to be original, and with
innocent conceit, imagine that we have formed them for ourselves.  The
illusion of being unlike other people is a common vanity.  Beware of the
man who asserts such a claim.  He is sure to be a bore and will serve up
to you, as his own, a muddle of ideas and opinions which he has absorbed
like a sponge from his surroundings.

No place is more propitious for studying this curious phenomenon, than
behind the scenes of a theatre, the last few nights before a first
performance.  The whole company is keyed up to a point of mutual
admiration that they are far from feeling generally.  "The piece is
charming and sure to be a success."  The author and the interpreters of
his thoughts are in complete communion.  The first night comes.  The
piece is a failure!  Drop into the greenroom then and you will find an
astonishing change has taken place.  The Star will take you into a corner
and assert that, she "always knew the thing could not go, it was too
imbecile, with such a company, it was folly to expect anything else."  The
author will abuse the Star and the management.  The whole troupe is
frankly disconcerted, like people aroused out of a hypnotic sleep,
wondering what they had seen in the play to admire.

In the social world we are even more inconsistent, accepting with
tameness the most astonishing theories and opinions.  Whole circles will
go on assuring each other how clever Miss So-and-So is, or, how beautiful
they think someone else.  Not because these good people are any cleverer,
or more attractive than their neighbors, but simply because it is in the
air to have these opinions about them.  To such an extent does this hold
good, that certain persons are privileged to be vulgar and rude, to say
impertinent things and make remarks that would ostracize a less fortunate
individual from the polite world for ever; society will only smilingly
shrug its shoulders and say: "It is only Mr. So-and-So's way."  It is
useless to assert that in cases like these, people are in possession of
their normal senses.  They are under influences of which they are
perfectly unconscious.

Have you ever seen a piece guyed?  Few sadder sights exist, the human
being rarely getting nearer the brute than when engaged in this
amusement.  Nothing the actor or actress can do will satisfy the public.
Men who under ordinary circumstances would be incapable of insulting a
woman, will whistle and stamp and laugh, at an unfortunate girl who is
doing her utmost to amuse them.  A terrible example of this was given two
winters ago at one of our concert halls, when a family of Western singers
were subjected to absolute ill-treatment at the hands of the public.  The
young girls were perfectly sincere, in their rude way, but this did not
prevent men from offering them every insult malice could devise, and
making them a target for every missile at hand.  So little does the
public think for itself in cases like this, that at the opening of the
performance had some well-known person given the signal for applause, the
whole audience would, in all probability, have been delighted and made
the wretched sisters a success.

In my youth it was the fashion to affect admiration for the Italian
school of painting and especially for the great masters of the
Renaissance.  Whole families of perfectly inartistic English and
Americans might then he heard conscientiously admiring the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel or Leonardo's Last Supper (Botticelli had not been
invented then) in the choicest guide-book language.

When one considers the infinite knowledge of technique required to
understand the difficulties overcome by the giants of the Renaissance and
to appreciate the intrinsic qualities of their creations, one asks one's
self in wonder what our parents admired in those paintings, and what
tempted them to bring home and adorn their houses with such dreadful
copies of their favorites.  For if they appreciated the originals they
never would have bought the copies, and if the copies pleased them, they
must have been incapable of enjoying the originals.  Yet all these people
thought themselves perfectly sincere.  To-day you will see the same thing
going on before the paintings of Claude Monet and Besnard, the same
admiration expressed by people who, you feel perfectly sure, do not
realize why these works of art are superior and can no more explain to
you why they think as they do than the sheep that follow each other
through a hole in a wall, can give a reason for their actions.

Dress and fashion in clothes are subjects above all others, where the
ineptitude of the human mind is most evident.  Can it be explained in any
other way, why the fashions of yesterday always appear so hideous to
us,--almost grotesque?  Take up an old album of photographs and glance
over the faded contents.  Was there ever anything so absurd?  Look at the
top hats men wore, and at the skirts of the women!

The mother of a family said to me the other day: "When I recall the way
in which girls were dressed in my youth, I wonder how any of us ever got
a husband."

Study a photograph of the Empress Eugenie, that supreme arbiter of
elegance and grace.  Oh! those bunchy hooped skirts!  That awful India
shawl pinned off the shoulders, and the bonnet perched on a roll of hair
in the nape of the neck!  What were people thinking of at that time?  Were
they lunatics to deform in this way the beautiful lines of the human body
which it should be the first object of toilet to enhance, or were they
only lacking in the artistic sense?  Nothing of the kind.  And what is
more, they were convinced that the real secret of beauty in dress had
been discovered by them; that past fashions were absurd, and that the
future could not improve on their creations.  The sculptors and painters
of that day (men of as great talent as any now living), were enthusiastic
in reproducing those monstrosities in marble or on canvas, and authors
raved about the ideal grace with which a certain beauty draped her shawl.

Another marked manner in which we are influenced by circumambient
suggestion, is in the transient furore certain games and pastimes create.
We see intelligent people so given over to this influence as barely to
allow themselves time to eat and sleep, begrudging the hours thus stolen
from their favorite amusement.

Ten years ago, tennis occupied every moment of our young people's time;
now golf has transplanted tennis in public favor, which does not prove,
however, that the latter is the better game, but simply that compelled by
the accumulated force of other people's opinions, youths and maidens, old
duffers and mature spinsters are willing to pass many hours daily in all
kinds of weather, solemnly following an indian-rubber ball across ten-
acre lots.

If you suggest to people who are laboring under the illusion they are
amusing themselves that the game, absorbing so much of their attention,
is not as exciting as tennis nor as clever in combinations as croquet,
that in fact it would be quite as amusing to roll an empty barrel several
times around a plowed field, they laugh at you in derision and instantly
put you down in their profound minds as a man who does not understand
"sport."

Yet these very people were tennis-mad twenty years ago and had night come
to interrupt a game of croquet would have ordered lanterns lighted in
order to finish the match so enthralling were its intricacies.

Everybody has known how to play _Bezique_ in this country for years, yet
within the last eighteen months, whole circles of our friends have been
seized with a midsummer madness and willingly sat glued to a card-table
through long hot afternoons and again after dinner until day dawned on
their folly.

Certain _Memoires_ of Louis Fifteenth's reign tell of an "unravelling"
mania that developed at his court.  It began by some people fraying out
old silks to obtain the gold and silver threads from worn-out stuffs;
this occupation soon became the rage, nothing could restrain the delirium
of destruction, great ladies tore priceless tapestries from their walls
and brocades from their furniture, in order to unravel those materials
and as the old stock did not suffice for the demand thousands were spent
on new brocades and velvets, which were instantly destroyed,
entertainments were given where unravelling was the only amusement
offered, the entire court thinking and talking of nothing else for
months.

What is the logical deduction to be drawn from all this?  Simply that
people do not see with their eyes or judge with their understandings;
that an all-pervading hypnotism, an ambient suggestion, at times envelops
us taking from people all free will, and replacing it with the taste and
judgment of the moment.

The number of people is small in each generation, who are strong enough
to rise above their surroundings and think for themselves.  The rest are
as dry leaves on a stream.  They float along and turn gayly in the
eddies, convinced all the time (as perhaps are the leaves) that they act
entirely from their own volition and that their movements are having a
profound influence on the direction and force of the current.



No. 10--Bohemia


Lunching with a talented English comedian and his wife the other day, the
conversation turned on Bohemia, the evasive no-man's-land that Thackeray
referred to, in so many of his books, and to which he looked back
lovingly in his later years, when, as he said, he had forgotten the road
to Prague.

The lady remarked: "People have been more than kind to us here in New
York.  We have dined and supped out constantly, and have met with
gracious kindness, such as we can never forget.  But so far we have not
met a single painter, or author, or sculptor, or a man who has explored a
corner of the earth.  Neither have we had the good luck to find ourselves
in the same room with Tesla or Rehan, Edison or Drew.  We shall regret so
much when back in England and are asked about your people of talent,
being obliged to say, 'We never met any of them.'  Why is it?  We have
not been in any one circle, and have pitched our tents in many cities,
during our tours over here, but always with the same result.  We read
your American authors as much as, if not more than, our own.  The names
of dozens of your discoverers and painters are household words in
England.  When my husband planned his first tour over here my one idea
was, 'How nice it will be!  Now I shall meet those delightful people of
whom I have heard so much.'  The disappointment has been complete.  Never
one have I seen."

I could not but feel how all too true were the remarks of this
intelligent visitor, remembering how quick the society of London is to
welcome a new celebrity or original character, how a place is at once
made for him at every hospitable board, a permanent one to which he is
expected to return; and how no Continental entertainment is considered
complete without some bright particular star to shine in the firmament.

"Lion-hunting," I hear my reader say with a sneer.  That may be, but it
makes society worth the candle, which it rarely is over here.  I realized
what I had often vaguely felt before, that the Bohemia the English lady
was looking for was not to be found in this country, more's the pity.  Not
that the elements are lacking.  Far from it, (for even more than in
London should we be able to combine such a society), but perhaps from a
misconception of the true idea of such a society, due probably to Henry
Murger's dreary book _Scenes de la vie de Boheme_ which is chargeable
with the fact that a circle of this kind evokes in the mind of most
Americans visions of a scrubby, poorly-fed and less-washed community, a
world they would hardly dare ask to their tables for fear of some
embarrassing unconventionality of conduct or dress.

Yet that can hardly be the reason, for even in Murger or Paul de Kock, at
their worst, the hero is still a gentleman, and even when he borrows a
friend's coat, it is to go to a great house and among people of rank.
Besides, we are becoming too cosmopolitan, and wander too constantly over
this little globe, not to have learned that the Bohemia of 1830 is as
completely a thing of the past as a _grisette_ or a glyphisodon.  It
disappeared with Gavarni and the authors who described it.  Although we
have kept the word, its meaning has gradually changed until it has come
to mean something difficult to define, a will-o'-the-wisp, which one
tries vainly to grasp.  With each decade it has put on a new form and
changed its centre, the one definite fact being that it combines the
better elements of several social layers.

Drop in, if you are in Paris and know the way, at one of Madeleine
Lemaire's informal evenings in her studio.  There you may find the Prince
de Ligne, chatting with Rejane or Coquelin; or Henri d'Orleans, just back
from an expedition into Africa.  A little further on, Saint-Saens will be
running over the keys, preparing an accompaniment for one of Madame de
Tredern's songs.  The Princess Mathilde (that passionate lover of art)
will surely be there, and--but it is needless to particularize.

Cross the Channel, and get yourself asked to one of Irving's choice
suppers after the play.  You will find the bar, the stage, and the pulpit
represented there, a "happy family" over which the "Prince" often
presides, smoking cigar after cigar, until the tardy London daylight
appears to break up the entertainment.

For both are centres where the gifted and the travelled meet the great of
the social world, on a footing of perfect equality, and where, if any
prestige is accorded, it is that of brains.  When you have seen these
places and a dozen others like them, you will realize what the actor's
wife had in her mind.

Now, let me whisper to you why I think such circles do not exist in this
country.  In the first place, we are still too provincial in this big
city of ours.  New York always reminds me of a definition I once heard of
California fruit: "Very large, with no particular flavor."  We are like a
boy, who has had the misfortune to grow too quickly and look like a man,
but whose mind has not kept pace with his body.  What he knows is
undigested and chaotic, while his appearance makes you expect more of him
than he can give--hence disappointment.

Our society is yet in knickerbockers, and has retained all sorts of
littlenesses and prejudices which older civilizations have long since
relegated to the mental lumber room.  An equivalent to this point of view
you will find in England or France only in the smaller "cathedral"
cities, and even there the old aristocrats have the courage of their
opinions.  Here, where everything is quite frankly on a money basis, and
"positions" are made and lost like a fortune, by a turn of the market,
those qualities which are purely mental, and on which it is hard to put a
practical value, are naturally at a discount.  We are quite ready to pay
for the best.  Witness our private galleries and the opera, but we say,
like the parvenu in Emile Augier's delightful comedy _Le Gendre de M.
Poirier_, "Patronize art?  Of course!  But the artists?  Never!"  And
frankly, it would be too much, would it not, to expect a family only half
a generation away from an iron foundry, or a mine, to be willing to
receive Irving or Bernhardt on terms of perfect equality?

As it would be unjust to demand a mature mind in the overgrown boy, it is
useless to hope for delicate tact and social feeling from the parvenu.  To
be gracious and at ease with all classes and professions, one must be
perfectly sure of one's own position, and with us few feel this security,
it being based on too frail a foundation, a crisis in the "street" going
a long way towards destroying it.

Of course I am generalizing and doubt not that in many cultivated homes
the right spirit exists, but unfortunately these are not the centres
which give the tone to our "world."  Lately at one of the most splendid
houses in this city a young Italian tenor had been engaged to sing.  When
he had finished he stood alone, unnoticed, unspoken to for the rest of
the evening.  He had been paid to sing.  "What more, in common sense,
could he want?" thought the "world," without reflecting that it was
probably not the _tenor_ who lost by that arrangement.  It needs a
delicate hand to hold the reins over the backs of such a fine-mouthed
community as artists and singers form.  They rarely give their best when
singing or performing in a hostile atmosphere.

A few years ago when a fancy-dress ball was given at the Academy of
Design, the original idea was to have it an artists' ball; the community
of the brush were, however, approached with such a complete lack of tact
that, with hardly an exception, they held aloof, and at the ball shone
conspicuous by their absence.

At present in this city I know of but two hospitable firesides where you
are sure to meet the best the city holds of either foreign or native
talent.  The one is presided over by the wife of a young composer, and
the other, oddly enough, by two unmarried ladies.  An invitation to a
dinner or a supper at either of these houses is as eagerly sought after
and as highly prized in the great world as it is by the Bohemians, though
neither "salon" is open regularly.

There is still hope for us, and I already see signs of better things.
Perhaps, when my English friend returns in a few years, we may be able to
prove to her that we have found the road to Prague.



No. 11--Social Exiles


Balzac, in his _Comedie Humaine_, has reviewed with a master-hand almost
every phase of the Social World of Paris down to 1850 and Thackeray left
hardly a corner of London High Life unexplored; but so great have been
the changes (progress, its admirers call it,) since then, that, could
Balzac come back to his beloved Paris, he would feel like a foreigner
there; and Thackeray, who was among us but yesterday, would have
difficulty in finding his bearings in the sea of the London world to-day.

We have changed so radically that even a casual observer cannot help
being struck by the difference.  Among other most significant "phenomena"
has appeared a phase of life that not only neither of these great men
observed (for the very good reason that it had not appeared in their
time), but which seems also to have escaped the notice of the writers of
our own day, close observers as they are of any new development.  I mean
the class of Social Exiles, pitiable wanderers from home and country, who
haunt the Continent, and are to be found (sad little colonies) in out-of-
the-way corners of almost every civilized country.

To know much of this form of modern life, one must have been a wanderer,
like myself, and have pitched his tent in many queer places; for they are
shy game and not easily raised, frequenting mostly quiet old cities like
Versailles and Florence, or inexpensive watering-places where their
meagre incomes become affluence by contrast.  The first thought on
dropping in on such a settlement is, "How in the world did these people
ever drift here?"  It is simple enough and generally comes about in this
way:

The father of a wealthy family dies.  The fortune turns out to be less
than was expected.  The widow and children decide to go abroad for a year
or so, during their period of mourning, partially for distraction, and
partially (a fact which is not spoken of) because at home they would be
forced to change their way of living to a simpler one, and that is hard
to do, just at first.  Later they think it will be quite easy.  So the
family emigrates, and after a little sight-seeing, settles in Dresden or
Tours, casually at first, in a hotel.  If there are young children they
are made the excuse.  "The languages are so important!"  Or else one of
the daughters develops a taste for music, or a son takes up the study of
art.  In a year or two, before a furnished apartment is taken, the idea
of returning is discussed, but abandoned "for the present."  They begin
vaguely to realize how difficult it will be to take life up again at
home.  During all this time their income (like everything else when the
owners are absent) has been slowly but surely disappearing, making the
return each year more difficult.  Finally, for economy, an unfurnished
apartment is taken.  They send home for bits of furniture and family
belongings, and gradually drop into the great army of the expatriated.

Oh, the pathos of it!  One who has not seen these poor stranded waifs in
their self-imposed exile, with eyes turned towards their native land,
cannot realize all the sadness and loneliness they endure, rarely
adopting the country of their residence but becoming more firmly American
as the years go by.  The home papers and periodicals are taken, the
American church attended, if there happens to be one; the English chapel,
if there is not.  Never a French church!  In their hearts they think it
almost irreverent to read the service in French.  The acquaintance of a
few fellow-exiles is made and that of a half-dozen English families,
mothers and daughters and a younger son or two, whom the ferocious
primogeniture custom has cast out of the homes of their childhood to
economize on the Continent.

I have in my mind a little settlement of this kind at Versailles, which
was a type.  The formal old city, fallen from its grandeur, was a
singularly appropriate setting to the little comedy.  There the modest
purses of the exiles found rents within their reach, the quarters vast
and airy.  The galleries and the park afforded a diversion, and then
Paris, dear Paris, the American Mecca, was within reach.  At the time I
knew it, the colony was fairly prosperous, many of its members living in
the two or three principal _pensions_, the others in apartments of their
own.  They gave feeble little entertainments among themselves,
card-parties and teas, and dined about with each other at their
respective _tables d'hote_, even knowing a stray Frenchman or two, whom
the quest of a meal had tempted out of their native fastnesses as it does
the wolves in a hard winter.  Writing and receiving letters from America
was one of the principal occupations, and an epistle descriptive of a
particular event at home went the rounds, and was eagerly read and
discussed.

The merits of the different _pensions_ also formed a subject of vital
interest.  The advantages and disadvantages of these rival establishments
were, as a topic, never exhausted.  _Madame une telle_ gave five o'clock
tea, included in the seven francs a day, but her rival gave one more meat
course at dinner and her coffee was certainly better, while a third
undoubtedly had a nicer set of people.  No one here at home can realize
the importance these matters gradually assume in the eyes of the exiles.
Their slender incomes have to be so carefully handled to meet the strain
of even this simple way of living, if they are to show a surplus for a
little trip to the seashore in the summer months, that an extra franc a
day becomes a serious consideration.

Every now and then a family stronger-minded than the others, or with
serious reasons for returning home (a daughter to bring out or a son to
put into business), would break away from its somnolent surroundings and
re-cross the Atlantic, alternating between hope and fear.  It is here
that a sad fate awaits these modern Rip Van Winkles.  They find their
native cities changed beyond recognition.  (For we move fast in these
days.)  The mother gets out her visiting list of ten years before and is
thunderstruck to find that it contains chiefly names of the "dead, the
divorced, and defaulted."  The waves of a decade have washed over her
place and the world she once belonged to knows her no more.  The leaders
of her day on whose aid she counted have retired from the fray.  Younger,
and alas! unknown faces sit in the opera boxes and around the dinner
tables where before she had found only friends.  After a feeble little
struggle to get again into the "swim," the family drifts back across the
ocean into the quiet back water of a continental town, and goes circling
around with the other twigs and dry leaves, moral flotsam and jetsam,
thrown aside by the great rush of the outside world.

For the parents the life is not too sad.  They have had their day, and
are, perhaps, a little glad in their hearts of a quiet old age, away from
the heat and sweat of the battle; but for the younger generation it is
annihilation.  Each year their circle grows smaller.  Death takes away
one member after another of the family, until one is left alone in a
foreign land with no ties around her, or with her far-away "home," the
latter more a name now than a reality.

A year or two ago I was taking luncheon with our consul at his primitive
villa, an hour's ride from the city of Tangier, a ride made on donkey-
back, as no roads exist in that sunny land.  After our coffee and cigars,
he took me a half-hour's walk into the wilderness around him to call on
his nearest neighbors, whose mode of existence seemed a source of anxiety
to him.  I found myself in the presence of two American ladies, the
younger being certainly not less than seventy-five.  To my astonishment I
found they had been living there some thirty years, since the death of
their parents, in an isolation and remoteness impossible to describe, in
an Arab house, with native servants, "the world forgetting, by the world
forgot."  Yet these ladies had names well known in New York fifty years
ago.

The glimpse I had of their existence made me thoughtful as I rode home in
the twilight, across a suburb none too safe for strangers.  What had the
future in store for those two?  Or, worse still, for the survivor of
those two?  In contrast, I saw a certain humble "home" far away in
America, where two old ladies were ending their lives surrounded by
loving friends and relations, honored and cherished and guarded tenderly
from the rude world.

In big cities like Paris and Rome there is another class of the
expatriated, the wealthy who have left their homes in a moment of pique
after the failure of some social or political ambition; and who find in
these centres the recognition refused them at home and for which their
souls thirsted.

It is not to these I refer, although it is curious to see a group of
people living for years in a country of which they, half the time, do not
speak the language (beyond the necessities of housekeeping and shopping),
knowing but few of its inhabitants, and seeing none of the society of the
place, their acquaintance rarely going beyond that equivocal, hybrid
class that surrounds rich "strangers" and hangs on to the outer edge of
the _grand monde_.  One feels for this latter class merely contempt, but
one's pity is reserved for the former.  What object lessons some lives on
the Continent would be to impatient souls at home, who feel discontented
with their surroundings, and anxious to break away and wander abroad!  Let
them think twice before they cut the thousand ties it has taken a
lifetime to form.  Better monotony at your own fireside, my friends,
where at the worst, you are known and have your place, no matter how
small, than an old age among strangers.



No. 12--"Seven Ages" of Furniture


The progress through life of active-minded Americans is apt to be a
series of transformations.  At each succeeding phase of mental
development, an old skin drops from their growing intelligence, and they
assimilate the ideas and tastes of their new condition, with a facility
and completeness unknown to other nations.

One series of metamorphoses particularly amusing to watch is, that of an
observant, receptive daughter of Uncle Sam who, aided and followed (at a
distance) by an adoring husband, gradually develops her excellent brain,
and rises through fathoms of self-culture and purblind experiment, to the
surface of dilettantism and connoisseurship.  One can generally detect
the exact stage of evolution such a lady has reached by the bent of her
conversation, the books she is reading, and, last but not least, by her
material surroundings; no outward and visible signs reflecting inward and
spiritual grace so clearly as the objects people collect around them for
the adornment of their rooms, or the way in which those rooms are
decorated.

A few years ago, when a young man and his bride set up housekeeping on
their own account, the "old people" of both families seized the
opportunity to unload on the beginners (under the pretence of helping
them along) a quantity of furniture and belongings that had (as the
shopkeepers say) "ceased to please" their original owners.  The narrow
quarters of the tyros are encumbered by ungainly sofas and arm-chairs,
most probably of carved rosewood.  _Etageres_ of the same lugubrious
material grace the corners of their tiny drawing-room, the bits of mirror
inserted between the shelves distorting the image of the owners into
headless or limbless phantoms.  Half of their little dining-room is
filled with a black-walnut sideboard, ingeniously contrived to take up as
much space as possible and hold nothing, its graceless top adorned with a
stag's head carved in wood and imitation antlers.

The novices in their innocence live contented amid their hideous
surroundings for a year or two, when the wife enters her second epoch,
which, for want of a better word, we will call the Japanese period.  The
grim furniture gradually disappears under a layer of silk and gauze
draperies, the bare walls blossom with paper umbrellas, fans are nailed
in groups promiscuously, wherever an empty space offends her eye.  Bows
of ribbon are attached to every possible protuberance of the furniture.
Even the table service is not spared.  I remember dining at a house in
this stage of its artistic development, where the marrow bones that
formed one course of the dinner appeared each with a coquettish little
bow-knot of pink ribbon around its neck.

Once launched on this sea of adornment, the housewife soon loses her
bearings and decorates indiscriminately.  Her old evening dresses serve
to drape the mantelpieces, and she passes every spare hour embroidering,
braiding, or fringing some material to adorn her rooms.  At Christmas her
friends contribute specimens of their handiwork to the collection.

The view of other houses and other decorations before long introduces the
worm of discontent into the blossom of our friend's contentment.  The
fruit of her labors becomes tasteless on her lips.  As the finances of
the family are satisfactory, the re-arrangement of the parlor floor is
(at her suggestion) confided to a firm of upholsterers, who make a clean
sweep of the rosewood and the bow-knots, and retire, after some months of
labor, leaving the delighted wife in possession of a suite of rooms
glittering with every monstrosity that an imaginative tradesman, spurred
on by unlimited credit, could devise.

The wood work of the doors and mantels is an intricate puzzle of inlaid
woods, the ceilings are panelled and painted in complicated designs.  The
"parlor" is provided with a complete set of neat, old-gold satin
furniture, puffed at its angles with peacock-colored plush.

The monumental folding doors between the long, narrow rooms are draped
with the same chaste combination of stuffs.

The dining-room blazes with a gold and purple wall paper, set off by
ebonized wood work and furniture.  The conscientious contractor has
neglected no corner.  Every square inch of the ceilings, walls, and
floors has been carved, embossed, stencilled, or gilded into a
bewildering monotony.

The husband, whose affairs are rapidly increasing on his hands, has no
time to attend to such insignificant details as house decoration, the
wife has perfect confidence in the taste of the firm employed.  So at the
suggestion of the latter, and in order to complete the beauty of the
rooms, a Bouguereau, a Toulmouche and a couple of Schreyers are bought,
and a number of modern French bronzes scattered about on the multicolored
cabinets.  Then, at last, the happy owners of all this splendor open
their doors to the admiration of their friends.

About the time the peacock plush and the gilding begin to show signs of
wear and tear, rumors of a fresh fashion in decoration float across from
England, and the new gospel of the beautiful according to Clarence Cook
is first preached to an astonished nation.

The fortune of our couple continuing to develop with pleasing rapidity,
the building of a country house is next decided upon.  A friend of the
husband, who has recently started out as an architect, designs them a
picturesque residence without a straight line on its exterior or a square
room inside.  This house is done up in strict obedience to the teachings
of the new sect.  The dining-room is made about as cheerful as the
entrance to a family vault.  The rest of the house bears a close
resemblance to an ecclesiastical junk shop.  The entrance hall is filled
with what appears to be a communion table in solid oak, and the massive
chairs and settees of the parlor suggest the withdrawing room of Rowena,
aesthetic shades of momie-cloth drape deep-set windows, where anaemic and
disjointed females in stained glass pluck conventional roses.

To each of these successive transitions the husband has remained
obediently and tranquilly indifferent.  He has in his heart considered
them all equally unfitting and uncomfortable and sighed in regretful
memory of a deep, old-fashioned arm-chair that sheltered his after-dinner
naps in the early rosewood period.  So far he has been as clay in the
hands of his beloved wife, but the anaemic ladies and the communion table
are the last drop that causes his cup to overflow.  He revolts and begins
to take matters into his own hands with the result that the household
enters its fifth incarnation under his guidance, during which everything
is painted white and all the wall-papers are a vivid scarlet.  The family
sit on bogus Chippendale and eat off blue and white china.

With the building of their grand new house near the park the couple rise
together into the sixth cycle of their development.  Having travelled and
studied the epochs by this time, they can tell a Louis XIV. from a Louis
XV. room, and recognize that mahogany and brass sphinxes denote furniture
of the Empire.  This newly acquired knowledge is, however, vague and
hazy.  They have no confidence in themselves, so give over the fitting of
their principal floors to the New York branch of a great French house.
Little is talked of now but periods, plans, and elevations.  Under the
guidance of the French firm, they acquire at vast expense, faked
reproductions as historic furniture.

The spacious rooms are sticky with new gilding, and the flowered brocades
of the hangings and furniture crackle to the touch.  The rooms were not
designed by the architect to receive any special kind of "treatment."
Immense folding-doors unite the salons, and windows open anywhere.  The
decorations of the walls have been applied like a poultice, regardless of
the proportions of the rooms and the distribution of the spaces.

Building and decorating are, however, the best of educations.  The
husband, freed at last from his business occupations, finds in this new
study an interest and a charm unknown to him before.  He and his wife are
both vaguely disappointed when their resplendent mansion is finished,
having already outgrown it, and recognize that in spite of correct
detail, their costly apartments no more resemble the stately and simple
salons seen abroad than the cabin of a Fall River boat resembles the
_Galerie des Glaces_ at Versailles.  The humiliating knowledge that they
are all wrong breaks upon them, as it is doing on hundreds of others, at
the same time as the desire to know more and appreciate better the
perfect productions of this art.

A seventh and last step is before them but they know not how to make it.
A surer guide than the upholsterer is, they know, essential, but their
library contains nothing to help them.  Others possess the information
they need, yet they are ignorant where to turn for what they require.

With singular appropriateness a volume treating of this delightful "art"
has this season appeared at Scribner's.  "The Decoration of Houses" is
the result of a woman's faultless taste collaborating with a man's
technical knowledge.  Its mission is to reveal to the hundreds who have
advanced just far enough to find that they can go no farther alone,
truths lying concealed beneath the surface.  It teaches that consummate
taste is satisfied only with a perfected simplicity; that the facades of
a house must be the envelope of the rooms within and adapted to them, as
the rooms are to the habits and requirements of them "that dwell
therein;" that proportion is the backbone of the decorator's art and that
supreme elegance is fitness and moderation; and, above all, that an
attention to architectural principles can alone lead decoration to a
perfect development.



No. 13--Our Elite and Public Life


The complaint is so often heard, and seems so well founded, that there is
a growing inclination, not only among men of social position, but also
among our best and cleverest citizens, to stand aloof from public life,
and this reluctance on their part is so unfortunate, that one feels
impelled to seek out the causes where they must lie, beneath the surface.
At a first glance they are not apparent.  Why should not the honor of
representing one's town or locality be as eagerly sought after with us as
it is by English or French men of position?  That such is not the case,
however, is evident.

Speaking of this the other evening, over my after-dinner coffee, with a
high-minded and public-spirited gentleman, who not long ago represented
our country at a European court, he advanced two theories which struck me
as being well worth repeating, and which seemed to account to a certain
extent for this curious abstinence.

As a first and most important cause, he placed the fact that neither our
national nor (here in New York) our state capital coincides with our
metropolis.  In this we differ from England and all the continental
countries.  The result is not difficult to perceive.  In London, a man of
the world, a business man, or a great lawyer, who represents a locality
in Parliament, can fulfil his mandate and at the same time lead his usual
life among his own set.  The lawyer or the business man can follow during
the day his profession, or those affairs on which he depends to support
his family and his position in the world.  Then, after dinner (owing to
the peculiar hours adopted for the sittings of Parliament), he can take
his place as a law-maker.  If he be a London-born man, he in no way
changes his way of life or that of his family.  If, on the contrary, he
be a county magnate, the change he makes is all for the better, as it
takes him and his wife and daughters up to London, the haven of their
longings, and the centre of all sorts of social dissipations and
advancement.

With us, it is exactly the contrary.  As the District of Columbia elects
no one, everybody living in Washington officially is more or less
expatriated, and the social life it offers is a poor substitute for the
circle which most families leave to go there.

That, however, is not the most important side of the question.  Go to any
great lawyer of either New York or Chicago, and propose sending him to
Congress or the Senate.  His answer is sure to be, "I cannot afford it.  I
know it is an honor, but what is to replace the hundred thousand dollars
a year which my profession brings me in, not to mention that all my
practice would go to pieces during my absence?"  Or again, "How should I
dare to propose to my family to leave one of the great centres of the
country to go and vegetate in a little provincial city like Washington?
No, indeed!  Public life is out of the question for me!"

Does any one suppose England would have the class of men she gets in
Parliament, if that body sat at Bristol?

Until recently the man who occupied the position of Lord Chancellor made
thirty thousand pounds a year by his profession without interfering in
any way with his public duties, and at the present moment a recordership
in London in no wise prevents private practice.  Were these gentlemen
Americans, they would be obliged to renounce all hope of professional
income in order to serve their country at its Capital.

Let us glance for a moment at the other reason.  Owing to our laws
(doubtless perfectly reasonable, and which it is not my intention to
criticise,) a man must reside in the place he represents.  Here again we
differ from all other constitutional countries.  Unfortunately, our
clever young men leave the small towns of their birth and flock up to the
great centres as offering wider fields for their advancement.  In
consequence, the local elector finds his choice limited to what is
left--the intellectual skimmed milk, of which the cream has been carried
to New York or other big cities.  No country can exist without a
metropolis, and as such a centre by a natural law of assimilation absorbs
the best brains of the country, in other nations it has been found to the
interests of all parties to send down brilliant young men to the
"provinces," to be, in good time, returned by them to the national
assemblies.

As this is not a political article the simple indication of these two
causes will suffice, without entering into the question of their
reasonableness or of their justice.  The social bearing of such a
condition is here the only side of the question under discussion; it is
difficult to over-rate the influence that a man's family exert over his
decisions.

Political ambition is exceedingly rare among our women of position; when
the American husband is bitten with it, the wife submits to, rather than
abets, his inclinations.  In most cases our women are not cosmopolitan
enough to enjoy being transplanted far away from their friends and
relations, even to fill positions of importance and honor.  A New York
woman of great frankness and intelligence, who found herself recently in
a Western city under these circumstances, said, in answer to a flattering
remark that "the ladies of the place expected her to become their social
leader," "I don't see anything to lead," thus very plainly expressing her
opinion of the situation.  It is hardly fair to expect a woman accustomed
to the life of New York or the foreign capitals, to look forward with
enthusiasm to a term of years passed in Albany, or in Washington.

In France very much the same state of affairs has been reached by quite a
different route.  The aristocracy detest the present government, and it
is not considered "good form" by them to sit in the Chamber of Deputies
or to accept any but diplomatic positions.  They condescend to fill the
latter because that entails living away from their own country, as they
feel more at ease in foreign courts than at the Republican receptions of
the Elysee.

There is a deplorable tendency among our self-styled aristocracy to look
upon their circle as a class apart.  They separate themselves more each
year from the life of the country, and affect to smile at any of their
number who honestly wish to be of service to the nation.  They, like the
French aristocracy, are perfectly willing, even anxious, to fill
agreeable diplomatic posts at first-class foreign capitals, and are
naively astonished when their offers of service are not accepted with
gratitude by the authorities in Washington.  But let a husband propose to
his better half some humble position in the machinery of our government,
and see what the lady's answer will be.

The opinion prevails among a large class of our wealthy and cultivated
people, that to go into public life is to descend to duties beneath them.
They judge the men who occupy such positions with insulting severity,
classing them in their minds as corrupt and self-seeking, than which
nothing can be more childish or more imbecile.  Any observer who has
lived in the different grades of society will quickly renounce the
puerile idea that sporting or intellectual pursuits are alone worthy of a
gentleman's attention.  This very political life, which appears unworthy
of their attention to so many men, is, in reality, the great field where
the nations of the world fight out their differences, where the seed is
sown that will ripen later into vast crops of truth and justice.  It is
(if rightly regarded and honestly followed) the battle-ground where man's
highest qualities are put to their noblest use--that of working for the
happiness of others.



No. 14--The Small Summer Hotel


We certainly are the most eccentric race on the surface of the globe and
ought to be a delight to the soul of an explorer, so full is our
civilization of contradictions, unexplained habits and curious customs.
It is quite unnecessary for the inquisitive gentlemen who pass their time
prying into other people's affairs and then returning home to write books
about their discoveries, to risk their lives and digestions in long
journeys into Central Africa or to the frozen zones, while so much good
material lies ready to their hands in our own land.  The habits of the
"natives" in New England alone might occupy an active mind indefinitely,
offering as interesting problems as any to be solved by penetrating
Central Asia or visiting the man-eating tribes of Australia.

Perhaps one of our scientific celebrities, before undertaking his next
long voyage, will find time to make observations at home and collect
sufficient data to answer some questions that have long puzzled my
unscientific brain.  He would be doing good work.  Fame and honors await
the man who can explain why, for instance, sane Americans of the better
class, with money enough to choose their surroundings, should pass so
much of their time in hotels and boarding houses.  There must be a reason
for the vogue of these retreats--every action has a cause, however
remote.  I shall await with the deepest interest a paper on this subject
from one of our great explorers, untoward circumstances having some time
ago forced me to pass a few days in a popular establishment of this
class.

During my visit I amused myself by observing the inmates and trying to
discover why they had come there.  So far as I could find out, the
greater part of them belonged to our well-to-do class, and when at home
doubtless lived in luxurious houses and were waited on by trained
servants.  In the small summer hotel where I met them, they were living
in dreary little ten by twelve foot rooms, containing only the absolute
necessities of existence, a wash-stand, a bureau, two chairs and a bed.
And such a bed!  One mattress about four inches thick over squeaking
slats, cotton sheets, so nicely calculated to the size of the bed that
the slightest move on the part of the sleeper would detach them from
their moorings and undo the housemaid's work; two limp, discouraged
pillows that had evidently been "banting," and a few towels a foot long
with a surface like sand-paper, completed the fittings of the room.  Baths
were unknown, and hot water was a luxury distributed sparingly by a
capricious handmaiden.  It is only fair to add that everything in the
room was perfectly clean, as was the coarse table linen in the dining
room.

The meals were in harmony with the rooms and furniture, consisting only
of the strict necessities, cooked with a Spartan disregard for such
sybarite foibles as seasoning or dressing.  I believe there was a
substantial meal somewhere in the early morning hours, but I never
succeeded in getting down in time to inspect it.  By successful bribery,
I induced one of the village belles, who served at table, to bring a cup
of coffee to my room.  The first morning it appeared already poured out
in the cup, with sugar and cold milk added at her discretion.  At one
o'clock a dinner was served, consisting of soup (occasionally), one meat
dish and attendant vegetables, a meagre dessert, and nothing else.  At
half-past six there was an equally rudimentary meal, called "tea," after
which no further food was distributed to the inmates, who all, however,
seemed perfectly contented with this arrangement.  In fact they
apparently looked on the act of eating as a disagreeable task, to be
hurried through as soon as possible that they might return to their
aimless rocking and chattering.

Instead of dinner hour being the feature of the day, uniting people
around an attractive table, and attended by conversation, and the meal
lasting long enough for one's food to be properly eaten, it was rushed
through as though we were all trying to catch a train.  Then, when the
meal was over, the boarders relapsed into apathy again.

No one ever called this hospitable home a boarding-house, for the
proprietor was furious if it was given that name.  He also scorned the
idea of keeping a hotel.  So that I never quite understood in what
relation he stood toward us.  He certainly considered himself our host,
and ignored the financial side of the question severely.  In order not to
hurt his feelings by speaking to him of money, we were obliged to get our
bills by strategy from a male subordinate.  Mine host and his family were
apparently unaware that there were people under their roof who paid them
for board and lodging.  We were all looked upon as guests and
"entertained," and our rights impartially ignored.

Nothing, I find, is so distinctive of New England as this graceful
veiling of the practical side of life.  The landlady always reminded me,
by her manner, of Barrie's description of the bill-sticker's wife who
"cut" her husband when she chanced to meet him "professionally" engaged.
As a result of this extreme detachment from things material, the house
ran itself, or was run by incompetent Irish and negro "help."  There were
no bells in the rooms, which simplified the service, and nothing could be
ordered out of meal hours.

The material defects in board and lodging sink, however, into
insignificance before the moral and social unpleasantness of an
establishment such as this.  All ages, all conditions, and all creeds are
promiscuously huddled together.  It is impossible to choose whom one
shall know or whom avoid.  A horrible burlesque of family life is
enabled, with all its inconveniences and none of its sanctity.  People
from different cities, with different interests and standards, are
expected to "chum" together in an intimacy that begins with the eight
o'clock breakfast and ends only when all retire for the night.  No
privacy, no isolation is allowed.  If you take a book and begin to read
in a remote corner of a parlor or piazza, some idle matron or idiotic
girl will tranquilly invade your poor little bit of privacy and gabble of
her affairs and the day's gossip.  There is no escape unless you mount to
your ten-by-twelve cell and sit (like the Premiers of England when they
visit Balmoral) on the bed, to do your writing, for want of any other
conveniences.  Even such retirement is resented by the boarders.  You are
thought to be haughty and to give yourself airs if you do not sit for
twelve consecutive hours each day in unending conversation with them.

When one reflects that thousands of our countrymen pass at least one-half
of their lives in these asylums, and that thousands more in America know
no other homes, but move from one hotel to another, while the same outlay
would procure them cosy, cheerful dwellings, it does seem as if these
modern Arabs, Holmes's "Folding Bed-ouins," were gradually returning to
prehistoric habits and would end by eating roots promiscuously in caves.

The contradiction appears more marked the longer one reflects on the love
of independence and impatience of all restraint that characterize our
race.  If such an institution had been conceived by people of the Old
World, accustomed to moral slavery and to a thousand petty tyrannies, it
would not be so remarkable, but that we, of all the races of the earth,
should have created a form of torture unknown to Louis XI. or to the
Spanish Inquisitors, is indeed inexplicable!  Outside of this happy land
the institution is unknown.  The _pension_ when it exists abroad, is only
an exotic growth for an American market.  Among European nations it is
undreamed of; the poorest when they travel take furnished rooms, where
they are served in private, or go to restaurants or _table d'hotes_ for
their meals.  In a strictly continental hotel the public parlor does not
exist.  People do not travel to make acquaintances, but for health or
recreation, or to improve their minds.  The enforced intimacy of our
American family house, with its attendant quarrelling and back-biting, is
an infliction of which Europeans are in happy ignorance.

One explanation, only, occurs to me, which is that among New England
people, largely descended from Puritan stock, there still lingers some
blind impulse at self-mortification, an hereditary inclination to make
this life as disagreeable as possible by self-immolation.  Their
ancestors, we are told by Macaulay, suppressed bull baiting, not because
it hurt the bull, but because it gave pleasure to the people.  Here in
New England they refused the Roman dogma of Purgatory and then with
complete inconsistency, invented the boarding-house, in order, doubtless,
to take as much of the joy as possible out of this life, as a preparation
for endless bliss in the next.



No. 15--A False Start


Having had, during a wandering existence, many opportunities of observing
my compatriots away from home and familiar surroundings in various
circles of cosmopolitan society, at foreign courts, in diplomatic life,
or unofficial capacities, I am forced to acknowledge that whereas my
countrywoman invariably assumed her new position with grace and dignity,
my countryman, in the majority of cases, appeared at a disadvantage.

I take particular pleasure in making this tribute to my "sisters" tact
and wit, as I have been accused of being "hard" on American women, and
some half-humorous criticisms have been taken seriously by
over-susceptible women--doubtless troubled with guilty consciences for
nothing is more exact than the old French proverb, "It is only the truth
that wounds."

The fact remains clear, however, that American men, as regards polish,
facility in expressing themselves in foreign languages, the arts of
pleasing and entertaining, in short, the thousand and one nothings
composing that agreeable whole, a cultivated member of society, are
inferior to their womankind.  I feel sure that all Americans who have
travelled and have seen their compatriot in his social relations with
foreigners, will agree with this, reluctant as I am to acknowledge it.

That a sister and brother brought up together, under the same influences,
should later differ to this extent seems incredible.  It is just this
that convinces me we have made a false start as regards the education and
ambitions of our young men.

To find the reasons one has only to glance back at our past.  After the
struggle that insured our existence as a united nation, came a period of
great prosperity.  When both seemed secure, we did not pause and take
breath, as it were, before entering a new epoch of development, but
dashed ahead on the old lines.  It is here that we got on the wrong road.
Naturally enough too, for our peculiar position on this continent, far
away from the centres of cultivation and art, surrounded only by less
successful states with which to compare ourselves, has led us into
forming erroneous ideas as to the proportions of things, causing us to
exaggerate the value of material prosperity and undervalue matters of
infinitely greater importance, which have been neglected in consequence.

A man who, after fighting through our late war, had succeeded in amassing
a fortune, naturally wished his son to follow him on the only road in
which it had ever occurred to him that success was of any importance.  So
beyond giving the boy a college education, which he had not enjoyed, his
ambition rarely went; his idea being to make a practical business man of
him, or a lawyer, that he could keep the estate together more
intelligently.  In thousands of cases, of course, individual taste and
bent over-ruled this influence, and a career of science or art was
chosen; but in the mass of the American people, it was firmly implanted
that the pursuit of wealth was the only occupation to which a reasonable
human being could devote himself.  A young man who was not in some way
engaged in increasing his income was looked upon as a very undesirable
member of society, and sure, sooner or later, to come to harm.

Millionaires declined to send their sons to college, saying they would
get ideas there that would unfit them for business, to Paterfamilias the
one object of life.  Under such fostering influences, the ambitions in
our country have gradually given way to money standards and the false
start has been made!  Leaving aside at once the question of money in its
relation to our politics (although it would be a fruitful subject for
moralizing), and confining ourselves strictly to the social side of life,
we soon see the results of this mammon worship.

In England (although Englishmen have been contemptuously called the shop-
keepers of the world) the extension and maintenance of their vast empire
is the mainspring which keeps the great machine in movement.  And one
sees tens of thousands of well-born and delicately-bred men cheerfully
entering the many branches of public service where the hope of wealth can
never come, and retiring on pensions or half-pay in the strength of their
middle age, apparently without a regret or a thought beyond their
country's well-being.

In France, where the passionate love of their own land has made colonial
extension impossible, the modern Frenchman of education is more
interested in the yearly exhibition at the _Salon_ or in a successful
play at the _Francais_, than in the stock markets of the world.

Would that our young men had either of these bents!  They have copied
from England a certain love of sport, without the English climate or the
calm of country and garrison life, to make these sports logical and
necessary.  As the young American millionaire thinks he must go on
increasing his fortune, we see the anomaly of a man working through a
summer's day in Wall Street, then dashing in a train to some suburban
club, and appearing a half-hour later on the polo field.  Next to wealth,
sport has become the ambition of the wealthy classes, and has grown so
into our college life that the number of students in the freshman class
of our great universities is seriously influenced by that institution's
losses or gains at football.

What is the result of all this?  A young man starts in life with the firm
intention of making a great deal of money.  If he has any time left from
that occupation he will devote it to sport.  Later in life, when he has
leisure and travels, or is otherwise thrown with cultivated strangers, he
must naturally be at a disadvantage.  "Shop," he cannot talk; he knows
that is vulgar.  Music, art, the drama, and literature are closed books
to him, in spite of the fact that he may have a box on the grand tier at
the opera and a couple of dozen high-priced "masterpieces" hanging around
his drawing-rooms.  If he is of a finer clay than the general run of his
class, he will realize dimly that somehow the goal has been missed in his
life race.  His chase after the material has left him so little time to
cultivate the ideal, that he has prepared himself a sad and aimless old
age; unless he can find pleasure in doing as did a man I have been told
about, who, receiving half a dozen millions from his father's estate,
conceived the noble idea of increasing them so that he might leave to
each of his four children as much as he had himself received.  With the
strictest economy, and by suppressing out of his life and that of his
children all amusements and superfluous outlay, he has succeeded now for
many years in living on the income of his income.  Time will never hang
heavy on this Harpagon's hands.  He is a perfectly happy individual, but
his conversation is hardly of a kind to attract, and it may be doubted if
the rest of the family are as much to be envied.

An artist who had lived many years of his life in Paris and London was
speaking the other day of a curious phase he had remarked in our American
life.  He had been accustomed over there to have his studio the meeting-
place of friends, who would drop in to smoke and lounge away an hour,
chatting as he worked.  To his astonishment, he tells me that since he
has been in New York not one of the many men he knows has ever passed an
hour in his rooms.  Is not that a significant fact?  Another remark which
points its own moral was repeated to me recently.  A foreigner visiting
here, to whom American friends were showing the sights of our city,
exclaimed at last: "You have not pointed out to me any celebrities except
millionaires.  'Do you see that man? he is worth ten millions.  Look at
that house! it cost one million dollars, and there are pictures in it
worth over three million dollars.  That trotter cost one hundred thousand
dollars,' etc."  Was he not right?  And does it not give my reader a
shudder to see in black and white the phrases that are, nevertheless, so
often on our lips?

This levelling of everything to its cash value is so ingrained in us that
we are unconscious of it, as we are of using slang or local expressions
until our attention is called to them.  I was present once at a farce
played in a London theatre, where the audience went into roars of
laughter every time the stage American said, "Why, certainly."  I was
indignant, and began explaining to my English friend that we never used
such an absurd phrase.  "Are you sure?" he asked.  "Why, certainly," I
said, and stopped, catching the twinkle in his eye.

It is very much the same thing with money.  We do not notice how often it
slips into the conversation.  "Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth
speaketh."  Talk to an American of a painter and the charm of his work.
He will be sure to ask, "Do his pictures sell well?" and will lose all
interest if you say he can't sell them at all.  As if that had anything
to do with it!

Remembering the well-known anecdote of Schopenhauer and the gold piece
which he used to put beside his plate at the _table d'hote_, where he
ate, surrounded by the young officers of the German army, and which was
to be given to the poor the first time he heard any conversation that was
not about promotion or women, I have been tempted to try the experiment
in our clubs, changing the subjects to stocks and sport, and feel
confident that my contributions to charity would not ruin me.

All this has had the result of making our men dull companions; after
dinner, or at a country house, if the subject they love is tabooed, they
talk of nothing!  It is sad for a rich man (unless his mind has remained
entirely between the leaves of his ledger) to realize that money really
buys very little, and above a certain amount can give no satisfaction in
proportion to its bulk, beyond that delight which comes from a sense of
possession.  Croesus often discovers as he grows old that he has
neglected to provide himself with the only thing that "is a joy for
ever"--a cultivated intellect--in order to amass a fortune that turns to
ashes, when he has time to ask of it any of the pleasures and resources
he fondly imagined it would afford him.  Like Talleyrand's young man who
would not learn whist, he finds that he has prepared for himself a
dreadful old age!



No. 16--A Holy Land


Not long ago an article came under my notice descriptive of the
neighborhood around Grant's tomb and the calm that midsummer brings to
that vicinity, laughingly referred to as the "Holy Land."

As careless fingers wandering over the strings of a violin may
unintentionally strike a chord, so the writer of those lines, all
unconsciously, with a jest, set vibrating a world of tender memories and
associations; for the region spoken of is truly a holy land to me, the
playground of my youth, and connected with the sweetest ties that can
bind one's thoughts to the past.

Ernest Renan in his _Souvenirs d'Enfance_, tells of a Brittany legend,
firmly believed in that wild land, of the vanished city of "Is," which
ages ago disappeared beneath the waves.  The peasants still point out at
a certain place on the coast the site of the fabled city, and the
fishermen tell how during great storms they have caught glimpses of its
belfries and ramparts far down between the waves; and assert that on calm
summer nights they can hear the bells chiming up from those depths.  I
also have a vanished "Is" in my heart, and as I grow older, I love to
listen to the murmurs that float up from the past.  They seem to come
from an infinite distance, almost like echoes from another life.

At that enchanted time we lived during the summers in an old wooden house
my father had re-arranged into a fairly comfortable dwelling.  A
tradition, which no one had ever taken the trouble to verify, averred
that Washington had once lived there, which made that hero very real to
us.  The picturesque old house stood high on a slope where the land rises
boldly; with an admirable view of distant mountain, river and opposing
Palisades.

The new Riverside drive (which, by the bye, should make us very lenient
toward the men who robbed our city a score of years ago, for they left us
that vast work in atonement), has so changed the neighborhood it is
impossible now for pious feet to make a pilgrimage to those childish
shrines.  One house, however, still stands as when it was our nearest
neighbor.  It had sheltered General Gage, land for many acres around had
belonged to him.  He was an enthusiastic gardener, and imported, among a
hundred other fruits and plants, the "Queen Claude" plum from France,
which was successfully acclimated on his farm.  In New York a plum of
that kind is still called a "green gage."  The house has changed hands
many times since we used to play around the Grecian pillars of its
portico.  A recent owner, dissatisfied doubtless with its classic
simplicity, has painted it a cheerful mustard color and crowned it with a
fine new _Mansard_ roof.  Thus disfigured, and shorn of its surrounding
trees, the poor old house stands blankly by the roadside, reminding one
of the Greek statue in Anstey's "Painted Venus" after the London barber
had decorated her to his taste.  When driving by there now, I close my
eyes.

Another house, where we used to be taken to play, was that of Audubon, in
the park of that name.  Many a rainy afternoon I have passed with his
children choosing our favorite birds in the glass cases that filled every
nook and corner of the tumble-down old place, or turning over the leaves
of the enormous volumes he would so graciously take down from their
places for our amusement.  I often wonder what has become of those vast
_in-folios_, and if any one ever opens them now and admires as we did the
glowing colored plates in which the old ornithologist took such pride.
There is something infinitely sad in the idea of a collection of books
slowly gathered together at the price of privations and sacrifices,
cherished, fondled, lovingly read, and then at the owner's death, coldly
sent away to stand for ever unopened on the shelves of some public
library.  It is like neglecting poor dumb children!

An event that made a profound impression on my childish imagination
occurred while my father, who was never tired of improving our little
domain, was cutting a pathway down the steep side of the slope to the
river.  A great slab, dislodged by a workman's pick, fell disclosing the
grave of an Indian chief.  In a low archway or shallow cave sat the
skeleton of the chieftain, his bows and arrows arranged around him on the
ground, mingled with fragments of an elaborate costume, of which little
remained but the bead-work.  That it was the tomb of a man great among
his people was evident from the care with which the grave had been
prepared and then hidden, proving how, hundreds of years before our
civilization, another race had chosen this noble cliff and stately river
landscape as the fitting framework for a great warrior's tomb.

This discovery made no little stir in the scientific world of that day.
Hundreds came to see it, and as photography had not then come into the
world, many drawings were made and casts taken, and finally the whole
thing was removed to the rooms of the Historical Society.  From that day
the lonely little path held an awful charm for us.  Our childish readings
of Cooper had developed in us that love of the Indian and his wild life,
so characteristic of boyhood thirty years ago.  On still summer
afternoons, the place had a primeval calm that froze the young blood in
our veins.  Although we prided ourselves on our quality as "braves," and
secretly pined to be led on the war-path, we were shy of walking in that
vicinity in daylight, and no power on earth, not even the offer of the
tomahawk or snow-shoes for which our souls longed, would have taken us
there at night.

A place connected in my memory with a tragic association was across the
river on the last southern slope of the Palisades.  Here we stood
breathless while my father told the brief story of the duel between Burr
and Hamilton, and showed us the rock stained by the younger man's life-
blood.  In those days there was a simple iron railing around the spot
where Hamilton had expired, but of later years I have been unable to find
any trace of the place.  The tide of immigration has brought so deep a
deposit of "saloons" and suburban "balls" that the very face of the land
is changed, old lovers of that shore know it no more.  Never were the
environs of a city so wantonly and recklessly degraded.  Municipalities
have vied with millionaires in soiling and debasing the exquisite shores
of our river, that, thirty years ago, were unrivalled the world over.

The glamour of the past still lies for me upon this landscape in spite of
its many defacements.  The river whispers of boyish boating parties, and
the woods recall a thousand childish hopes and fears, resolute departures
to join the pirates, or the red men in their strongholds--journeys boldly
carried out until twilight cooled our courage and the supper-hour proved
a stronger temptation than war and carnage.

When I sat down this summer evening to write a few lines about happy days
on the banks of the Hudson, I hardly realized how sweet those memories
were to me.  The rewriting of the old names has evoked from their long
sleep so many loved faces.  Arms seem reaching out to me from the past.
The house is very still to-night.  I seem to be nearer my loved dead than
to the living.  The bells of my lost "Is" are ringing clear in the
silence.



No. 17--Royalty At Play


Few more amusing sights are to be seen in these days, than that of
crowned heads running away from their dull old courts and functions,
roughing it in hotels and villas, gambling, yachting and playing at being
rich nobodies.  With much intelligence they have all chosen the same
Republican playground, where visits cannot possibly be twisted into
meaning any new "combination" or political move, thus assuring themselves
the freedom from care or responsibility, that seems to be the aim of
their existence.  Alongside of well-to-do Royalties in good paying
situations, are those out of a job, who are looking about for a "place."
One cannot take an afternoon's ramble anywhere between Cannes and Mentone
without meeting a half-dozen of these magnates.

The other day, in one short walk, I ran across three Empresses, two
Queens, and an Heir-apparent, and then fled to my hotel, fearing to be
unfitted for America, if I went on "keeping such company."  They are
knowing enough, these wandering great ones, and after trying many places
have hit on this charming coast as offering more than any other for their
comfort and enjoyment.  The vogue of these sunny shores dates from their
annexation to France,--a price Victor Emmanuel reluctantly paid for
French help in his war with Austria.  Napoleon III.'s demand for Savoy
and this littoral, was first made known to Victor Emmanuel at a state
ball at Genoa.  Savoy was his birthplace and his home!  The King broke
into a wild temper, cursing the French Emperor and making insulting
allusions to his parentage, saying he had not one drop of Bonaparte blood
in his veins.  The King's frightened courtiers tried to stop this
outburst, showing him the French Ambassador at his elbow.  With a
superhuman effort Victor Emmanuel controlled himself, and turning to the
Ambassador, said:

"I fear my tongue ran away with me!"  With a smile and a bow the great
French diplomatist remarked:

"_Sire_, I am so deaf I have not heard a word your Majesty has been
saying!"

The fashion of coming to the Riviera for health or for amusement, dates
from the sixties, when the Empress of Russia passed a winter at Nice, as
a last attempt to prolong the existence of the dying Tsarewitsch, her
son.  There also the next season the Duke of Edinburgh wooed and won her
daughter (then the greatest heiress in Europe) for his bride.  The world
moves fast and a journey it required a matter of life and death to decide
on, then, is gayly undertaken now, that a prince may race a yacht, or a
princess try her luck at the gambling tables.  When one reflects that the
"royal caste," in Europe alone, numbers some eight hundred people, and
that the East is beginning to send out its more enterprising crowned
heads to get a taste of the fun, that beyond drawing their salaries,
these good people have absolutely nothing to do, except to amuse
themselves, it is no wonder that this happy land is crowded with royal
pleasure-seekers.

After a try at Florence and Aix, "the Queen" has been faithful to Cimiez,
a charming site back of Nice.  That gay city is always _en fete_ the day
she arrives, as her carriages pass surrounded by French cavalry, one can
catch a glimpse of her big face, and dowdy little figure, which
nevertheless she can make so dignified when occasion requires.  The stay
here is, indeed, a holiday for this record-breaking sovereign, who
potters about her private grounds of a morning in a donkey-chair, sunning
herself and watching her Battenberg grandchildren at play.  In the
afternoon, she drives a couple of hours--in an open carriage--one
outrider in black livery alone distinguishing her turnout from the
others.

The Prince of Wales makes his headquarters at Cannes where he has poor
luck in sailing the Brittania, for which he consoles himself with jolly
dinners at Monte Carlo.  You can see him almost any evening in the
_Restaurant de Paris_, surrounded by his own particular set,--the Duchess
of Devonshire (who started a penniless German officer's daughter, and
became twice a duchess); Lady de Grey and Lady Wolverton, both showing
near six feet of slender English beauty; at their side, and lovelier than
either, the Countess of Essex.  The husbands of these "Merry Wives" are
absent, but do not seem to be missed, as the ladies sit smoking and
laughing over their coffee, the party only breaking up towards eleven
o'clock to try its luck at _trente et quarante_, until a "special" takes
them back to Cannes.

He is getting sadly old and fat, is England's heir, the likeness to his
mamma becoming more marked each year.  His voice, too, is oddly like
hers, deep and guttural, more adapted to the paternal German (which all
this family speak when alone) than to his native English.  Hair, he has
none, except a little fringe across the back of his head, just above a
fine large roll of fat that blushes above his shirt-collar.  Too bad that
this discovery of the microbe of baldness comes rather late for him!  He
has a pleasant twinkle in his small eyes, and an entire absence of
_pose_, that accounts largely for his immense and enduring popularity.

But the Hotel Cap Martin shelters quieter crowned heads.  The Emperor and
Empress of Austria, who tramp about the hilly roads, the King and Queen
of Saxony and the fat Arch-duchess Stephanie.  Austria's Empress looks
sadly changed and ill, as does another lady of whom one can occasionally
catch a glimpse, walking painfully with a crutch-stick in the shadow of
the trees near her villa.  It is hard to believe that this white-haired,
bent old woman was once the imperial beauty who from the salons of the
Tuileries dictated the fashions of the world!  Few have paid so dearly
for their brief hour of splendor!

Cannes with its excellent harbor is the centre of interest during the
racing season when the Tsarewitsch comes on his yacht Czaritza.  At the
Battle of Flowers, one is pretty sure to see the Duke of Cambridge, his
Imperial Highness, the Grand Duke Michael, Prince Christian of Denmark,
H.R.H. the Duke of Nassau, H.I.H. the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este, their
Serene Highnesses of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas,
also H.I.H. Marie Valerie and the Schleswig-Holsteins, pelting each other
and the public with _confetti_ and flowers.  Indeed, half the _Almanach
de Gotha_, that continental "society list," seems to be sunning itself
here and forgetting its cares, on bicycles or on board yachts.  It is
said that the Crown Princess of Honolulu (whoever she may be) honors
Mentone with her presence, and the newly deposed Queen "Ranavalo" of
Madagascar is _en route_ to join in the fun.

This crowd of royalty reminds me of a story the old sea-dogs who gather
about the "Admirals' corner" of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, love
to tell you.  An American cockswain, dazzled by a doubly royal visit,
with attending suites, on board the old "Constitution," came up to his
commanding officer and touching his cap, said:

"Beg pardon, Admiral, but one of them kings has tumbled down the gangway
and broke his leg."

It has become a much more amusing thing to wear a crown than it was.
Times have changed indeed since Marie Laczinska lived the fifty lonely
years of her wedded life and bore her many children, in one bed-room at
Versailles--a monotony only broken by visits to Fontainebleau or Marly.
Shakespeare's line no longer fits the case.

Beyond securing rich matches for their children, and keeping a sharp
lookout that the Radicals at home do not unduly cut down their civil
lists, these great ones have little but their amusements to occupy them.
Do they ever reflect, as they rush about visiting each other and
squabbling over precedence when they meet, that some fine morning the tax-
payers may wake up, and ask each other why they are being crushed under
such heavy loads, that eight hundred or more quite useless people may
pass their lives in foreign watering-places, away from their homes and
their duties?  It will be a bad day for them when the long-suffering
subjects say to them, "Since we get on so exceedingly well during your
many visits abroad, we think we will try how it will work without you at
all!"

The Prince of little Monaco seems to be about the only one up to the
situation, for he at least stays at home, and in connection with two
other gentlemen runs an exceedingly good hotel and several restaurants on
his estates, doing all he can to attract money into the place, while
making the strictest laws to prevent his subjects gambling at the famous
tables.  Now if other royalties instead of amusing themselves all the
year round would go in for something practical like this, they might
become useful members of the community.  This idea of Monaco's Prince
strikes one as most timely, and as opening a career for other indigent
crowned heads.  Hotels are getting so good and so numerous, that without
some especial "attraction" a new one can hardly succeed; but a
"Hohenzollern House" well situated in Berlin, with William II. to receive
the tourists at the door, and his fat wife at the desk, would be sure to
prosper.  It certainly would be pleasanter for him to spend money so
honestly earned than the millions wrested from half-starving peasants
which form his present income.  Besides there is almost as much gold lace
on a hotel employee's livery as on a court costume!

The numerous crowned heads one meets wandering about, can hardly lull
themselves over their "games" with the flattering unction that they are
of use, for, have they not France before them (which they find so much to
their taste) stronger, richer, more respected than ever since she shook
herself free of such incumbrances?  Not to mention our own democratic
country, which has managed to hold its own, in spite of their many
gleeful predictions to the contrary.



No. 18--A Rock Ahead


Having had occasion several times during this past season, to pass by the
larger stores in the vicinity of Twenty-third Street, I have been struck
more than ever, by the endless flow of womankind that beats against the
doors of those establishments.  If they were temples where a beneficent
deity was distributing health, learning, and all the good things of
existence, the rush could hardly have been greater.  It saddened me to
realize that each of the eager women I saw was, on the contrary,
dispensing something of her strength and brain, as well as the wearily
earned stipend of the men of her family (if not her own), for what could
be of little profit to her.

It occurred to me that, if the people who are so quick to talk about the
elevating and refining influences of women, could take an hour or two and
inspect the centres in question, they might not be so firm in their
beliefs.  For, reluctant as I am to acknowledge it, the one great
misfortune in this country, is the unnatural position which has been
(from some mistaken idea of chivalry) accorded to women here.  The result
of placing them on this pedestal, and treating them as things apart, has
been to make women in America poorer helpmeets to their husbands than in
any other country on the face of the globe, civilized or uncivilized.

Strange as it may appear, this is not confined to the rich, but permeates
all classes, becoming more harmful in descending the social scale, and it
will bring about a disintegration of our society, sooner than could be
believed.  The saying on which we have all been brought up, viz., that
you can gauge the point of civilization attained in a nation by the
position it accords to woman, was quite true as long as woman was
considered man's inferior.  To make her his equal was perfectly just; all
the trouble begins when you attempt to make her man's superior, a
something apart from his working life, and not the companion of his
troubles and cares, as she was intended to be.

When a small shopkeeper in Europe marries, the next day you will see his
young wife taking her place at the desk in his shop.  While he serves his
customers, his smiling spouse keeps the books, makes change, and has an
eye on the employees.  At noon they dine together; in the evening, after
the shop is closed, are pleased or saddened together over the results of
the day.  The wife's _dot_ almost always goes into the business, so that
there is a community of interest to unite them, and their lives are
passed together.  In this country, what happens?  The husband places his
new wife in a small house, or in two or three furnished rooms, generally
so far away that all idea of dining with her is impossible.  In
consequence, he has a "quick lunch" down town, and does not see his wife
between eight o'clock in the morning and seven in the evening.  His
business is a closed book to her, in which she can have no interest, for
her weary husband naturally revolts from talking "shop," even if she is
in a position to understand him.

His false sense of shielding her from the rude world makes him keep his
troubles to himself, so she rarely knows his financial position and sulks
over his "meanness" to her, in regard to pin-money; and being a perfectly
idle person, her days are apt to be passed in a way especially devised by
Satan for unoccupied hands.  She has learned no cooking from her mother;
"going to market" has become a thing of the past.  So she falls a victim
to the allurements of the bargain-counter; returning home after hours of
aimless wandering, irritable and aggrieved because she cannot own the
beautiful things she has seen.  She passes the evening in trying to win
her husband's consent to some purchase he knows he cannot afford, while
it breaks his heart to refuse her--some object, which, were she really
his companion, she would not have had the time to see or the folly to ask
for.

The janitor in our building is truly a toiler.  He rarely leaves his
dismal quarters under the sidewalk, but "Madam" walks the streets clad in
sealskin and silk, a "Gainsborough" crowning her false "bang."  I always
think of Max O'Rell's clever saying, when I see her: "The sweat of the
American husband crystallizes into diamond ear-rings for the American
woman."  My janitress sports a diminutive pair of those jewels and has
hopes of larger ones!  Instead of "doing" the bachelor's rooms in the
building as her husband's helpmeet, she "does" her spouse, and a char-
woman works for her.  She is one of the drops in the tide that ebbs and
flows on Twenty-third Street--a discontented woman placed in a false
position by our absurd customs.

Go a little further up in the social scale and you will find the same
"detached" feeling.  In a household I know of only one horse and a
_coupe_ can be afforded.  Do you suppose it is for the use of the weary
breadwinner?  Not at all.  He walks from his home to the "elevated."  The
carriage is to take his wife to teas or the park.  In a year or two she
will go abroad, leaving him alone to turn the crank that produces the
income.  As it is, she always leaves him for six months each year in a
half-closed house, to the tender mercies of a caretaker.  Two additional
words could be advantageously added to the wedding service.  After "for
richer for poorer," I should like to hear a bride promise to cling to her
husband "for winter for summer!"

Make another step up and stand in the entrance of a house at two A.M.,
just as the cotillion is commencing, and watch the couples leaving.  The
husband, who has been in Wall Street all day, knows that he must be there
again at nine next morning.  He is furious at the lateness of the hour,
and dropping with fatigue.  His wife, who has done nothing to weary her,
is equally enraged to be taken away just as the ball was becoming
amusing.  What a happy, united pair they are as the footman closes the
door and the carriage rolls off home!  Who is to blame?  The husband is
vainly trying to lead the most exacting of double lives, that of a
business man all day and a society man all night.  You can pick him out
at a glance in a ballroom.  His eye shows you that there is no rest for
him, for he has placed his wife at the head of an establishment whose
working crushes him into the mud of care and anxiety.  Has he any one to
blame but himself?

In England, I am told, the man of a family goes up to London in the
spring and gets his complete outfit, down to the smallest details of hat-
box and umbrella.  If there happens to be money left, the wife gets a new
gown or two: if not, she "turns" the old ones and rejoices vicariously in
the splendor of her "lord."  I know one charming little home over there,
where the ladies cannot afford a pony-carriage, because the three
indispensable hunters eat up the where-withal.

Thackeray was delighted to find one household (Major Ponto's) where the
governess ruled supreme, and I feel a fiendish pleasure in these accounts
of a country where men have been able to maintain some rights, and am
moved to preach a crusade for the liberation of the American husband,
that the poor, down-trodden creature may revolt from the slavery where he
is held and once more claim his birthright.  If he be prompt to act (and
is successful) he may work such a reform that our girls, on marrying, may
feel that some duties and responsibilities go with their new positions;
and a state of things be changed, where it is possible for a woman to be
pitied by her friends as a model of abnegation, because she has decided
to remain in town during the summer to keep her husband company and make
his weary home-coming brighter.  Or where (as in a story recently heard)
a foreigner on being presented to an American bride abroad and asking for
her husband, could hear in answer: "Oh, he could not come; he was too
busy.  I am making my wedding-trip without him."



No. 19--The Grand Prix


In most cities, it is impossible to say when the "season" ends.  In
London and with us in New York it dwindles off without any special
finish, but in Paris it closes like a trap-door, or the curtain on the
last scene of a pantomime, while the lights are blazing and the orchestra
is banging its loudest.  The _Grand Prix_, which takes place on the
second Sunday in June, is the climax of the spring gayeties.  Up to that
date, the social pace has been getting faster and faster, like the finish
of the big race itself, and fortunately for the lives of the women as
well as the horses, ends as suddenly.

In 1897, the last steeple chase at Auteuil, which precedes the _Grand
Prix_ by one week, was won by a horse belonging to an actress of the
_Theatre Francais_, a lady who has been a great deal before the public
already in connection with the life and death of young Lebaudy.  This
youth having had the misfortune to inherit an enormous fortune, while
still a mere boy, plunged into the wildest dissipation, and became the
prey of a band of sharpers and blacklegs.  Mlle. Marie Louise Marsy
appears to have been the one person who had a sincere affection for the
unfortunate youth.  When his health gave way during his military service,
she threw over her engagement with the _Francais_, and nursed her lover
until his death--a devotion rewarded by the gift of a million.

At the present moment, four or five of the band of self-styled noblemen
who traded on the boy's inexperience and generosity, are serving out
terms in the state prisons for blackmailing, and the _Theatre Francais_
possesses the anomaly of a young and beautiful actress, who runs a racing
stable in her own name.

The _Grand Prix_ dates from the reign of Napoleon III., who, at the
suggestion of the great railway companies, inaugurated this race in 1862,
in imitation of the English Derby, as a means of attracting people to
Paris.  The city and the railways each give half of the forty-thousand-
dollar prize.  It is the great official race of the year.  The President
occupies the central pavilion, surrounded by the members of the cabinet
and the diplomatic corps.  On the tribunes and lawn can be seen the _Tout
Paris_--all the celebrities of the great and half-world who play such an
important part in the life of France's capital.  The whole colony of the
_Rastaquoueres_, is sure to be there, "_Rastas_," as they are familiarly
called by the Parisians, who make little if any distinction in their
minds between a South American (blazing in diamonds and vulgar clothes)
and our own select (?) colony.  Apropos of this inability of the
Europeans to appreciate our fine social distinctions, I have been told of
a well-born New Yorker who took a French noblewoman rather to task for
receiving an American she thought unworthy of notice, and said:

"How can you receive her?  Her husband keeps a hotel!"

"Is that any reason?" asked the French-woman; "I thought all Americans
kept hotels."

For the _Grand Prix_, every woman not absolutely bankrupt has a new
costume, her one idea being a _creation_ that will attract attention and
eclipse her rivals.  The dressmakers have had a busy time of it for weeks
before.

Every horse that can stand up is pressed into service for the day.  For
twenty-four hours before, the whole city is _en fete_, and Paris _en
fete_ is always a sight worth seeing.  The natural gayety of the
Parisians, a characteristic noticed (if we are to believe the historians)
as far back as the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar, breaks out in all
its amusing spontaneity.  If the day is fine, the entire population gives
itself up to amusement.  From early morning the current sets towards the
charming corner of the Bois where the Longchamps race-course lies,
picturesquely encircled by the Seine (alive with a thousand boats), and
backed by the woody slopes of Suresnes and St. Cloud.  By noon every
corner and vantage point of the landscape is seized upon, when, with a
blare of trumpets and the rattle of cavalry, the President arrives in his
turnout _a la Daumont_, two postilions in blue and gold, and a _piqueur_,
preceded by a detachment of the showy _Gardes Republicains_ on horseback,
and takes his place in the little pavilion where for so many years
Eugenie used to sit in state, and which has sheltered so many crowned
heads under its simple roof.  Faure's arrival is the signal for the
racing to begin, from that moment the interest goes on increasing until
the great "event."  Then in an instant the vast throng of human beings
breaks up and flows homeward across the Bois, filling the big Place
around the Arc de Triomphe, rolling down the Champs Elysees, in twenty
parallel lines of carriages.  The sidewalks are filled with a laughing,
singing, uproarious crowd that quickly invades every restaurant, _cafe_,
or chop-house until their little tables overflow on to the grass and side-
walks, and even into the middle of the streets.  Later in the evening the
open-air concerts and theatres are packed, and every little square
organizes its impromptu ball, the musicians mounted on tables, and the
crowd dancing gayly on the wooden pavement until daybreak.

The next day, Paris becomes from a fashionable point of view,
"impossible."  If you walk through the richer quarters, you will see only
long lines of closed windows.  The approaches to the railway stations are
blocked with cabs piled with trunks and bicycles.  The "great world" is
fleeing to the seashore or its _chateaux_, and Paris will know it no more
until January, for the French are a country-loving race, and since there
has been no court, the aristocracy pass longer and longer periods on
their own estates each year, partly from choice and largely to show their
disdain for the republic and its entertainments.

The shady drives in the park, which only a day or two ago were so
brilliant with smart traps and spring toilets, are become a cool
wilderness, where will meet, perhaps, a few maiden ladies exercising fat
dogs, uninterrupted except by the watering-cart or by a few stray
tourists in cabs.  Now comes a delightful time for the real amateur of
Paris and the country around, which is full of charming corners where one
can dine at quiet little restaurants, overhanging the water or buried
among trees.  You are sure of getting the best of attention from the
waiters, and the dishes you order receive all the cook's attention.  Of
an evening the Bois is alive with a myriad of bicycles, their lights
twinkling among the trees like many-colored fire-flies.  To any one who
knows how to live there, Paris is at its best in the last half of June
and July.  Nevertheless, in a couple of days there will not be an
American in Paris, London being the objective point; for we love to be
"in at the death," and a coronation, a musical festival, or a big race is
sure to attract all our floating population.

The Americans who have the hardest time in Paris are those who try to
"run with the deer and hunt with the hounds," as the French proverb has
it, who would fain serve God and Mammon.  As anything especially amusing
is sure to take place on Sunday in this wicked capital, our friends go
through agonies of indecision, their consciences pulling one way, their
desire to amuse themselves the other.  Some find a middle course, it
seems, for yesterday this conversation was overheard on the steps of the
American Church:

_First American Lady_: "Are you going to stop for the sermon?"

_Second American Lady_: "I am so sorry I can't, but the races begin at
one!"



No. 20--"The Treadmill."


A half-humorous, half-pathetic epistle has been sent to me by a woman,
who explains in it her particular perplexity.  Such letters are the
windfalls of our profession!  For what is more attractive than to have a
woman take you for her lay confessor, to whom she comes for advice in
trouble? opening her innocent heart for your inspection!

My correspondent complains that her days are not sufficiently long, nor
is her strength great enough, for the thousand and one duties and
obligations imposed upon her.  "If," she says, "a woman has friends and a
small place in the world--and who has not in these days?--she must golf
or 'bike' or skate a bit, of a morning; then she is apt to lunch out, or
have a friend or two in, to that meal.  After luncheon there is sure to
be a 'class' of some kind that she has foolishly joined, or a charity
meeting, matinee, or reception; but above all, there are her 'duty'
calls.  She must be home at five to make tea, that she has promised her
men friends, and they will not leave until it is time for her to dress
for dinner, 'out' or at home, with often the opera, a supper, or a ball
to follow.  It is quite impossible," she adds, "under these circumstances
to apply one's self to anything serious, to read a book or even open a
periodical.  The most one can accomplish is a glance at a paper."

Indeed, it would require an exceptional constitution to carry out the
above programme, not to mention the attention that a woman must (however
reluctantly) give to her house and her family.  Where are the quiet hours
to be found for self-culture, the perusal of a favorite author, or,
perhaps, a little timid "writing" on her own account?  Nor does this
treadmill round fill a few months only of her life.  With slight
variations of scene and costume, it continues through the year.

A painter, I know, was fortunate enough to receive, a year or two ago,
the commission to paint a well-known beauty.  He was delighted with the
idea and convinced that he could make her portrait the best work of his
life, one that would be the stepping-stone to fame and fortune.  This was
in the spring.  He was naturally burning to begin at once, but found to
his dismay that the lady was just about starting for Europe.  So he
waited, and at her suggestion installed himself a couple of months later
at the seaside city where she had a cottage.  No one could be more
charming than she was, inviting him to dine and drive daily, but when he
broached the subject of "sitting," was "too busy just that day."  Later
in the autumn she would be quite at his disposal.  In the autumn,
however, she was visiting, never ten days in the same place.  Early
winter found her "getting her house in order," a mysterious rite
apparently attended with vast worry and fatigue.  With cooling
enthusiasm, the painter called and coaxed and waited.  November brought
the opera and the full swing of a New York season.  So far she has given
him half a dozen sittings, squeezed in between a luncheon, which made her
"unavoidably late," for which she is charmingly "sorry," and a reception
that she was forced to attend, although "it breaks my heart to leave just
as you are beginning to work so well, but I really must, or the tiresome
old cat who is giving the tea will be saying all sorts of unpleasant
things about me."  So she flits off, leaving the poor, disillusioned
painter before his canvas, knowing now that his dream is over, that in a
month or two his pretty sitter will be off again to New Orleans for the
carnival, or abroad, and that his weary round of waiting will recommence.
He will be fortunate if some day it does not float back to him, in the
mysterious way disagreeable things do come to one, that she has been
heard to say, "I fear dear Mr. Palette is not very clever, for I have
been sitting to him for over a year, and he has really done nothing yet."

He has been simply the victim of a state of affairs that neither of them
were strong enough to break through.  It never entered into Beauty's head
that she could lead a life different from her friends.  She was honestly
anxious to have a successful portrait of herself, but the sacrifice of
any of her habits was more than she could make.

Who among my readers (and I am tempted to believe they are all more
sensible than the above young woman) has not, during a summer passed with
agreeable friends, made a thousand pleasant little plans with them for
the ensuing winter,--the books they were to read at the same time, the
"exhibitions" they were to see, the visits to our wonderful collections
in the Metropolitan Museum or private galleries, cosy little dinners,
etc.?  And who has not found, as the winter slips away, that few of these
charming plans have been carried out?  He and his friends have
unconsciously fallen back into their ruts of former years, and the
pleasant things projected have been brushed aside by that strongest of
tyrants, habit.

I once asked a very great lady, whose gracious manner was never
disturbed, who floated through the endless complications of her life with
smiling serenity, how she achieved this Olympian calm.  She was good
enough to explain.  "I make a list of what I want to do each day.  Then,
as I find my day passing, or I get behind, or tired, I throw over every
other engagement.  I could have done them all with hurry and fatigue.  I
prefer to do one-half and enjoy what I do.  If I go to a house, it is to
remain and appreciate whatever entertainment has been prepared for me.  I
never offer to any hostess the slight of a hurried, _distrait_ 'call,'
with glances at my watch, and an 'on-the-wing' manner.  It is much easier
not to go, or to send a card."

This brings me around to a subject which I believe is one of the causes
of my correspondent's dilemma.  I fear that she never can refuse
anything.  It is a peculiar trait of people who go about to amuse
themselves, that they are always sure the particular entertainment they
have been asked to last is going to "be amusing."  It rarely is different
from the others, but these people are convinced, that to stay away would
be to miss something.  A weary-looking girl about 1 A.M. (at a
house-party) when asked why she did not go to bed if she was so tired,
answered, "the nights I go to bed early, they always seem to do something
jolly, and then I miss it."

There is no greater proof of how much this weary round wears on women
than the acts of the few who feel themselves strong enough in their
position to defy custom.  They have thrown off the yoke (at least the
younger ones have) doubtless backed up by their husbands, for men are
much quicker to see the aimlessness of this stupid social routine.  First
they broke down the great New-Year-call "grind."  Men over forty
doubtless recall with a shudder, that awful custom which compelled a man
to get into his dress clothes at ten A.M., and pass his day rushing about
from house to house like a postman.  Out-of-town clubs and sport helped
to do away with that remnant of New Amsterdam.  Next came the male revolt
from the afternoon "tea" or "musical."  A black coat is rare now at
either of these functions, or if seen is pretty sure to be on a back over
fifty.  Next, we lords of creation refused to call at all, or leave our
cards.  A married woman now leaves her husband's card with her own, and
sisters leave the "pasteboard" of their brothers and often those of their
brothers' friends.  Any combination is good enough to "shoot a card."

In London the men have gone a step further.  It is not uncommon to hear a
young man boast that he never owned a visiting card or made a "duty" call
in his life.  Neither there nor with us does a man count as a "call" a
quiet cup of tea with a woman he likes, and a cigarette and quiet talk
until dressing time.  Let the young women have courage and take matters
into their own hands.  (The older ones are hopeless and will go on
pushing this Juggernaut car over each other's weary bodies, until the end
of the chapter.)  Let them have the courage occasionally to "refuse"
something, to keep themselves free from aimless engagements, and bring
this paste-board war to a close.  If a woman is attractive, she will be
asked out all the same, never fear!  If she is not popular, the few dozen
of "egg-shell extra" that she can manage to slip in at the front doors of
her acquaintances will not help her much.

If this matter is, however, so vastly important in women's eyes, why not
adopt the continental and diplomatic custom and send cards by post or
otherwise?  There, if a new-comer dines out and meets twenty-five people
for the first time, cards must be left the next day at their twenty-five
respective residences.  How the cards get there is of no importance.  It
is a diplomatic fiction that the new acquaintance has called in person,
and the call will be returned within twenty-four hours.  Think of the
saving of time and strength!  In Paris, on New Year's Day, people send
cards by post to everybody they wish to keep up.  That does for a year,
and no more is thought about it.  All the time thus gained can be given
to culture or recreation.

I have often wondered why one sees so few women one knows at our picture
exhibitions or flower shows.  It is no longer a mystery to me.  They are
all busy trotting up and down our long side streets leaving cards.
Hideous vision!  Should Dante by any chance reincarnate, he would find
here the material ready made to his hand for an eighth circle in his
_Inferno_.



No. 21--"Like Master Like Man."


A frequent and naive complaint one hears, is of the unsatisfactoriness of
servants generally, and their ingratitude and astonishing lack of
affection for their masters, in particular.  "After all I have done for
them," is pretty sure to sum up the long tale of a housewife's griefs.  Of
all the delightful inconsistencies that grace the female mind, this
latter point of view always strikes me as being the most complete.  I
artfully lead my fair friend on to tell me all about her woes, and she is
sure to be exquisitely one-sided and quite unconscious of her position.
"They are so extravagant, take so little interest in my things, and leave
me at a moment's notice, if they get an idea I am going to break up.
Horrid things!  I wish I could do without them!  They cause me endless
worry and annoyance."  My friend is very nearly right,--but with whom
lies the fault?

The conditions were bad enough years ago, when servants were kept for
decades in the same family, descending like heirlooms from father to son,
often (abroad) being the foster sisters or brothers of their masters, and
bound to the household by an hundred ties of sympathy and tradition.  But
in our day, and in America, where there is rarely even a common language
or nationality to form a bond, and where households are broken up with
such facility, the relation between master and servant is often so
strained and so unpleasant that we risk becoming (what foreigners
reproach us with being), a nation of hotel-dwellers.  Nor is this class-
feeling greatly to be wondered at.  The contrary would be astonishing.
From the primitive household, where a poor neighbor comes in as "help,"
to the "great" establishment where the butler and housekeeper eat apart,
and a group of plush-clad flunkies imported from England adorn the
entrance-hall, nothing could be better contrived to set one class against
another than domestic service.

Proverbs have grown out of it in every language.  "No man is a hero to
his valet," and "familiarity breeds contempt," are clear enough.  Our
comic papers are full of the misunderstandings and absurdities of the
situation, while one rarely sees a joke made about the other ways that
the poor earn their living.  Think of it for a moment!  To be obliged to
attend people at the times of day when they are least attractive, when
from fatigue or temper they drop the mask that society glues to their
faces so many hours in the twenty-four; to see always the seamy side of
life, the small expedients, the aids to nature; to stand behind a chair
and hear an acquaintance of your master's ridiculed, who has just been
warmly praised to his face; to see a hostess who has been graciously
urging her guests "not to go so soon," blurt out all her boredom and
thankfulness "that those tiresome So-and-So's" are "paid off at last," as
soon as the door is closed behind them, must needs give a curious bent to
a servant's mind.  They see their employers insincere, and copy them.
Many a mistress who has been smilingly assured by her maid how much her
dress becomes her, and how young she is looking, would be thunderstruck
to hear herself laughed at and criticised (none too delicately) five
minutes later in that servant's talk.

Servants are trained from their youth up to conceal their true feelings.
A domestic who said what she thought would quickly lose her place.
Frankly, is it not asking a good deal to expect a maid to be very fond of
a lady who makes her sit up night after night until the small hours to
unlace her bodice or take down her hair; or imagine a valet can be
devoted to a master he has to get into bed as best he can because he is
too tipsy to get there unaided?  Immortal "Figaro" is the type!  Supple,
liar, corrupt, intelligent,--he aids his master and laughs at him,
feathering his own nest the while.  There is a saying that "horses
corrupt whoever lives with them."  It would be more correct to say that
domestic service demoralizes alike both master and man.

Already we are obliged to depend on immigration for our servants because
an American revolts from the false position, though he willingly accepts
longer hours or harder work where he has no one around him but his
equals.  It is the old story of the free, hungry wolf, and the well-fed,
but chained, house-dog.  The foreigners that immigration now brings us,
from countries where great class distinctions exist, find it natural to
"serve."  With the increase in education and consequent self-respect, the
difficulty of getting efficient and contented servants will increase with
us.  It has already become a great social problem in England.  The
trouble lies beneath the surface.  If a superior class accept service at
all, it is with the intention of quickly getting money enough to do
something better.  With them service is merely the means to an end.  A
first step on the ladder!

Bad masters are the cause of so much suffering, that to protect
themselves, the great brother-hood of servants have imagined a system of
keeping run of "places," and giving them a "character" which an aspirant
can find out with little trouble.  This organization is so complete, and
so well carried out, that a household where the lady has a "temper,"
where the food is poor, or which breaks up often, can rarely get a first-
class domestic.  The "place" has been boycotted, a good servant will
sooner remain idle than enter it.  If circumstances are too much for him
and he accepts the situation, it is with his eyes open, knowing
infinitely more about his new employers and their failings than they
dream of, or than they could possibly find out about him.

One thing never can be sufficiently impressed on people, viz.: that we
are forced to live with detectives, always behind us in caps or dress-
suits, ready to note every careless word, every incautious criticism of
friend or acquaintance--their money matters or their love affairs--and
who have nothing more interesting to do than to repeat what they have
heard, with embroideries and additions of their own.  Considering this,
and that nine people out of ten talk quite oblivious of their servants'
presence, it is to be wondered at that so little (and not that so much)
trouble is made.

It always amuses me when I ask a friend if she is going abroad in the
spring, to have her say "Hush!" with a frightened glance towards the
door.

"I am; but I do not want the servants to know, or the horrid things would
leave me!"

Poor, simple lady!  They knew it before you did, and had discussed the
whole matter over their "tea" while it was an almost unuttered thought in
your mind.  If they have not already given you notice, it is because, on
the whole your house suits them well enough for the present, while they
look about.  Do not worry your simple soul, trying to keep anything from
them.  They know the amount of your last dressmaker's bill, and the row
your husband made over it.  They know how much you would have liked young
"Croesus" for your daughter, and the little tricks you played to bring
that marriage about.  They know why you are no longer asked to dine at
Mrs. Swell's, which is more than you know yourself.  Mrs. Swell explained
the matter to a few friends over her lunch-table recently, and the butler
told your maid that same evening, who was laughing at the story as she
put on your slippers!

Before we blame them too much, however, let us remember that they have it
in their power to make great trouble if they choose.  And considering the
little that is made in this way, we must conclude that, on the whole,
they are better than we give them credit for being, and fill a trying
situation with much good humor and kindliness.  The lady who is
astonished that they take so little interest in her, will perhaps feel
differently if she reflects how little trouble she has given herself to
find out their anxieties and griefs, their temptations and
heart-burnings; their material situation; whom they support with their
slowly earned wages, what claims they have on them from outside.  If she
will also reflect on the number of days in a year when she is "not
herself," when headaches or disappointments ruffle her charming temper,
she may come to the conclusion that it is too much to expect all the
virtues for twenty dollars a month.

A little more human interest, my good friends, a little more indulgence,
and you will not risk finding yourself in the position of the lady who
wrote me that last summer she had been obliged to keep open house for
"'Cook' tourists!"



No. 22--An English Invasion of the Riviera


When sixty years ago Lord Brougham, _en route_ for Italy, was thrown from
his travelling berline and his leg was broken, near the Italian hamlet of
Cannes, the Riviera was as unknown to the polite world as the centre of
China.  The _grand tour_ which every young aristocrat made with his
tutor, on coming of age, only included crossing from France into Italy by
the Alps.  It was the occurrence of an unusually severe winter in
Switzerland that turned Brougham aside into the longer and less travelled
route _via_ the Corniche, the marvellous Roman road at that time fallen
into oblivion, and little used even by the local peasantry.

During the tedious weeks while his leg was mending, Lord Brougham amused
himself by exploring the surrounding country in his carriage, and was
quick to realize the advantages of the climate, and appreciate the
marvellous beauty of that coast.  Before the broken member was whole
again, he had bought a tract of land and begun a villa.  Small seed, to
furnish such a harvest!  To the traveller of to-day the Riviera offers an
almost unbroken chain of beautiful residences from Marseilles to Genoa.

A Briton willingly follows where a lord leads, and Cannes became the
centre of English fashion, a position it holds to-day in spite of many
attractive rivals, and the defection of Victoria who comes now to Cimiez,
back of Nice, being unwilling to visit Cannes since the sudden death
there of the Duke of Albany.  A statue of Lord Brougham, the "discoverer"
of the littoral, has been erected in the sunny little square at Cannes,
and the English have in many other ways, stamped the city for their own.

No other race carry their individuality with them as they do.  They can
live years in a country and assimilate none of its customs; on the
contrary, imposing habits of their own.  It is just this that makes them
such wonderful colonizers, and explains why you will find little groups
of English people drinking ale and playing golf in the shade of the
Pyramids or near the frozen slopes of Foosiyama.  The real inwardness of
it is that they are a dull race, and, like dull people despise all that
they do not understand.  To differ from them is to be in the wrong.  They
cannot argue with you; they simply know, and that ends the matter.

I had a discussion recently with a Briton on the pronunciation of a word.
As there is no "Institute," as in France, to settle matters of this kind,
I maintained that we Americans had as much authority for our
pronunciation of this particular word as the English.  The answer was
characteristic.

"I know I am right," said my Island friend, "because that is the way I
pronounce it!"

Walking along the principal streets of Cannes to-day, you might imagine
yourself (except for the climate) at Cowes or Brighton, so British are
the shops and the crowd that passes them.  Every restaurant advertises
"afternoon tea" and Bass's ale, and every other sign bears a London name.
This little matter of tea is particularly characteristic of the way the
English have imposed a taste of their own on a rebellious nation.  Nothing
is further from the French taste than tea-drinking, and yet a Parisian
lady will now invite you gravely to "five o'clocker" with her, although I
can remember when that beverage was abhorred by the French as a medicine;
if you had asked a Frenchman to take a cup of tea, he would have
answered:

"Why?  I am not ill!"

Even Paris (that supreme and undisputed arbiter of taste) has submitted
to English influence; tailor-made dresses and low-heeled shoes have
become as "good form" in France as in London.  The last two Presidents of
the French Republic have taken the oath of office dressed in frock-coats
instead of the dress clothes to which French officials formerly clung as
to the sacraments.

The municipalities of the little Southern cities were quick to seize
their golden opportunity, and everything was done to detain the rich
English wandering down towards Italy.  Millions were spent in
transforming their cramped, dirty, little towns.  Wide boulevards
bordered with palm and eucalyptus spread their sunny lines in all
directions, being baptized _Promenade des Anglais_ or _Boulevard
Victoria_, in artful flattery.  The narrow mountain roads were widened,
casinos and theatres built and carnival _fetes_ organized, the cities
offering "cups" for yacht- or horse-races, and giving grounds for tennis
and golf clubs.  Clever Southern people!  The money returned to them a
hundredfold, and they lived to see their wild coast become the chosen
residence of the wealthiest aristocracy in Europe, and the rocky
hillsides blossom into terrace above terrace of villa gardens, where palm
and rose and geranium vie with the olive and the mimosa to shade the
white villas from the sun.  To-day, no little town on the coast is
without its English chapel, British club, tennis ground, and golf links.
On a fair day at Monte Carlo, Nice, or Cannes, the prevailing
conversation is in English, and the handsome, well-dressed sons of Albion
lounge along beside their astonishing womankind as thoroughly at home as
on Bond Street.

Those wonderful English women are the source of unending marvel and
amusement to the French.  They can never understand them, and small
wonder, for with the exception of the small "set" that surrounds the
Prince of Wales, who are dressed in the Parisian fashion, all English
women seem to be overwhelmed with regret at not being born men, and to
have spent their time and ingenuity since, in trying to make up for
nature's mistake.  Every masculine garment is twisted by them to fit the
female figure; their conversation, like that of their brothers, is about
horses and dogs; their hats and gloves are the same as the men's; and
when with their fine, large feet in stout shoes they start off, with that
particular swinging gait that makes the skirt seem superfluous, for a
stroll of twenty miles or so, Englishwomen do seem to the uninitiated to
have succeeded in their ambition of obliterating the difference between
the sexes.

It is of an evening, however, when concealment is no longer possible,
that the native taste bursts forth, the Anglo-Saxon standing declared in
all her plainness.  Strong is the contrast here, where they are placed
side by side with all that Europe holds of elegant, and well-dressed
Frenchwomen, whether of the "world" or the "half-world," are invariably
marvels of fitness and freshness, the simplest materials being converted
by their skilful touch into toilettes, so artfully adapted to the
wearer's figure and complexion, as to raise such "creations" to the level
of a fine art.

An artist feels, he must fix on canvas that particular combination of
colors or that wonderful line of bust and hip.  It is with a shudder that
he turns to the British matron, for she has probably, for this occasion,
draped herself in an "art material,"--principally "Liberty" silks of
dirty greens and blues (aesthetic shades!).  He is tempted to cry out in
his disgust: "Oh, Liberty!  Liberty!  How many crimes are committed in
thy name!"  It is one of the oddest things in the world that the English
should have elected to live so much in France, for there are probably
nowhere two peoples so diametrically opposed on every point, or who so
persistently and wilfully misunderstand each other, as the English and
the French.

It has been my fate to live a good deal on both sides of the Channel, and
nothing is more amusing than to hear the absurdities that are gravely
asserted by each of their neighbors.  To a Briton, a Frenchman will
always be "either tiger or monkey" according to Voltaire; while to the
French mind English gravity is only hypocrisy to cover every vice.
Nothing pleases him so much as a great scandal in England; he will
gleefully bring you a paper containing the account of it, to prove how
true is his opinion.  It is quite useless to explain to the British mind,
as I have often tried to do, that all Frenchmen do not pass their lives
drinking absinthe on the boulevards; and as Englishmen seem to leave
their morals in a valise at Dover when off for a visit to Paris, to be
picked up on their return, it is time lost to try to make a Gaul
understand what good husbands and fathers the sons of Albion are.

These two great nations seem to stand in the relation to each other that
Rome and Greece held.  The English are the conquerors of the world, and
its great colonizers; with a vast capital in which wealth and misery
jostle each other on the streets; a hideous conglomeration of buildings
and monuments, without form and void, very much as old Rome must have
been under the Caesars, enormous buildings without taste, and enormous
wealth.  The French have inherited the temperament of the Greeks.  The
drama, painting, and sculpture are the preoccupation of the people.  The
yearly exhibitions are, for a month before they open, the unique subject
of conversation in drawing-room or club.  The state protects the artist
and buys his work.  Their _conservatoires_ form the singers, and their
schools the painters and architects of Europe and America.

The English copy them in their big way, just as the Romans copied the
masterpieces of Greek art, while they despised the authors.  It is rare
that a play succeeds in Paris which is not instantly translated and
produced in London, often with the adapter's name printed on the
programme in place of the author's, the Frenchman, who only wrote it,
being ignored.  Just as the Greeks faded away and disappeared before
their Roman conquerors, it is to be feared that in our day this people of
a finer clay will succumb.  The "defects of their qualities" will be
their ruin.  They will stop at home, occupied with literature and art,
perfecting their dainty cities; while their tougher neighbors are
dominating the globe, imposing their language and customs on the
conquered peoples or the earth.  One feels this on the Riviera.  It
reminds you of the cuckoo who, once installed in a robin's nest, that
seems to him convenient and warmly located in the sunshine, ends by
kicking out all the young robins.



No. 23--A Common Weakness


Governments may change and all the conditions of life be modified, but
certain ambitions and needs of man remain immutable.  Climates, customs,
centuries, have in no way diminished the craving for consideration, the
desire to be somebody, to bear some mark indicating to the world that one
is not as other men.

For centuries titles supplied the want.  This satisfaction has been
denied to us, so ambitious souls are obliged to seek other means to feed
their vanity.

Even before we were born into the world of nations, an attempt was made
amongst the aristocratically minded court surrounding our chief
magistrate, to form a society that should (without the name) be the
beginning of a class apart.

The order of the Cincinnati was to have been the nucleus of an American
nobility.  The tendencies of this society are revealed by the fact that
primogeniture was its fundamental law.  Nothing could have been more
opposed to the spirit of the age, nor more at variance with the
declaration of our independence, than the insertion of such a clause.
This fact was discovered by the far-seeing eye of Washington, and the
society was suppressed in the hope (shared by almost all contemporaries)
that with new forms of government the nature of man would undergo a
transformation and rise above such puerile ambitions.

Time has shown the fallacy of these dreams.  All that has been
accomplished is the displacement of the objective point; the desire, the
mania for a handle to one's name is as prevalent as ever.  Leave the
centres of civilization and wander in the small towns and villages of our
country.  Every other man you meet is introduced as the Colonel or the
Judge, and you will do well not to inquire too closely into the matter,
nor to ask to see the title-deeds to such distinctions.  On the other
hand, to omit his prefix in addressing one of these local magnates, would
be to offend him deeply.  The women-folk were quick to borrow a little of
this distinction, and in Washington to-day one is gravely presented to
Mrs. Senator Smith or Mrs. Colonel Jones.  The climax being reached by
one aspiring female who styles herself on her visiting cards, "Mrs.
Acting-Assistant-Paymaster Robinson."  If by any chance it should occur
to any one to ask her motive in sporting such an unwieldy handle, she
would say that she did it "because one can't be going about explaining
that one is not just ordinary Mrs. Robinson or Thompson, like the
thousand others in town."  A woman who cannot find an excuse for assuming
such a prefix will sometime have recourse to another stratagem, to
particularize an ordinary surname.  She remembers that her husband, who
ever since he was born has been known to everybody as Jim, is the proud
possessor of the middle name Ivanhoe, or Pericles (probably the result of
a romantic mother's reading); so one fine day the young couple bloom out
as Mr. and Mrs. J. Pericles Sparks, to the amusement of their friends,
their own satisfaction, and the hopeless confusion of their tradespeople.

Not long ago a Westerner, who went abroad with a travelling show, was
received with enthusiasm in England because it was thought "The
Honorable" which preceded his name on his cards implied that although an
American he was somehow the son of an earl.  As a matter of fact he owed
this title to having sat, many years before in the Senate of a
far-western State.  He will cling to that "Honorable" and print it on his
cards while life lasts.  I was told the other day of an American carpet
warrior who appeared at court function abroad decorated with every
college badge, and football medal in his possession, to which he added at
the last moment a brass trunk check, to complete the brilliancy of the
effect.  This latter decoration attracted the attention of the Heir
Apparent, who inquired the meaning of the mystic "416" upon it.  This
would have been a "facer" to any but a true son of Uncle Sam.  Nothing
daunted, however, our "General" replied "That, Sir, is the number of
pitched battles I have won."

I have my doubts as to the absolute veracity of this tale.  But that the
son of one of our generals, appeared not long ago at a public reception
abroad, wearing his father's medals and decorations, is said to be true.
Decorations on the Continent are official badges of distinction conferred
and recognized by the different governments.  An American who wears, out
of his own country, an army or college badge which has no official
existence, properly speaking, being recognized by no government, but
which is made intentionally to look as much as possible like the "Legion
d'Honneur," is deliberately imposing on the ignorance of foreigners, and
is but little less of a pretentious idiot than the owners of the trunk
check and the borrowed decorations.

There seems no end to the ways a little ambitious game can be played.  One
device much in favor is for the wife to attach her own family name to
that of her husband by means of a hyphen.  By this arrangement she does
not entirely lose her individuality; as a result we have a splendid
assortment of hybrid names, such as Van Cortland-Smith and Beekman-Brown.
Be they never so incongruous these double-barrelled cognomens serve their
purpose and raise ambitious mortals above the level of other Smiths and
Browns.  Finding that this arrangement works well in their own case, it
is passed on to the next generation.  There are no more Toms and Bills in
these aspiring days.  The little boys are all Cadwalladers or Carrolls.
Their school-fellows, however, work sad havoc with these high-sounding
titles and quickly abbreviate them into humble "Cad" or "Rol."

It is surprising to notice what a number of middle-aged gentlemen have
blossomed out of late with decorations in their button-holes according to
the foreign fashion.  On inquiry I have discovered that these ornaments
designate members of the G.A.R., the Loyal Legion, or some local Post,
for the rosettes differ in form and color.  When these gentlemen travel
abroad, to reduce their waists or improve their minds, the effects on the
hotel waiters and cabmen must be immense.  They will be charged three
times the ordinary tariff instead of only the double which is the
stranger's usual fate at the hands of simple-minded foreigners.  The
satisfaction must be cheap, however, at that price.

Even our wise men and sages do not seem to have escaped the contagion.
One sees professors and clergymen (who ought to set a better example)
trailing half a dozen letters after their names, initials which to the
initiated doubtless mean something, but which are also intended to fill
the souls of the ignorant with envy.  I can recall but one case of a
foreign decoration being refused by a compatriot.  He was a genius and we
all know that geniuses are crazy.  This gentleman had done something
particularly gratifying to an Eastern potentate, who in return offered
him one of his second-best orders.  It was at once refused.  When urged
on him a second time our countryman lost his temper and answered, "If you
want to give it to somebody, present it to my valet.  He is most anxious
to be decorated."  And it was done!

It does not require a deeply meditative mind to discover the motives of
ambitious struggles.  The first and strongest illusion of the human mind
is to believe that we are different from our fellows, and our natural
impulse is to try and impress this belief upon others.

Pride of birth is but one of the manifestations of the universal
weakness--invariably taking stronger and stronger hold of the people, who
from the modest dimension of their income, or other untoward
circumstances, can find no outward and visible form with which to dazzle
the world.  You will find that a desire to shine is the secret of most of
the tips and presents that are given while travelling or visiting, for
they can hardly be attributed to pure spontaneous generosity.

How many people does one meet who talk of their poor and unsuccessful
relatives while omitting to mention rich and powerful connections?  We
are told that far from blaming such a tendency we are to admire it.  That
it is proper pride to put one's best foot forward and keep an offending
member well out of sight, that the man who wears a rosette in the button-
hole of his coat and has half the alphabet galloping after his name, is
an honor to his family.

Far be it from me to deride this weakness in others, for in my heart I am
persuaded that if I lived in China, nothing would please me more than to
have my cap adorned with a coral button, while if fate had cast my life
in the pleasant places of central Africa, a ring in my nose would
doubtless have filled my soul with joy.  The fact that I share this
weakness does not, however, prevent my laughing at such folly in others.



No. 24--Changing Paris


Paris is beginning to show signs of the coming "Exhibition of 1900," and
is in many ways going through a curious stage of transformation, socially
as well as materially.  The _Palais De l'Industrie_, familiar to all
visitors here, as the home of the _Salons_, the Horse Shows, and a
thousand gay _fetes_ and merry-makings, is being torn down to make way
for the new avenue leading, with the bridge Alexander III., from the
Champs Elysees to the Esplanade des Invalides.  This thoroughfare with
the gilded dome of Napoleon's tomb to close its perspective is intended
to be the feature of the coming "show."

Curious irony of things in this world!  The _Palais De l'Industrie_ was
intended to be the one permanent building of the exhibition of 1854.  An
old "Journal" I often read tells how the writer saw the long line of
gilded coaches (borrowed from Versailles for the occasion), eight horses
apiece, led by footmen--horses and men blazing in embroidered
trappings--leave the Tuileries and proceed at a walk to the great gateway
of the now disappearing palace.  Victoria and Albert who were on an
official visit to the Emperor were the first to alight; then Eugenie in
the radiance of her perfect beauty stepped from the coach (sad omen!)
that fifty years before had taken Josephine in tears to Malmaison.

It may interest some ladies to know how an Empress was dressed on that
spring morning forty-four years ago.  She wore rose-colored silk with an
over-dress (I think that is what it is called) of black lace flounces,
immense hoops, and a black _Chantilly_ lace shawl.  Her hair, a brilliant
golden auburn, was dressed low on the temples, covering the ears, and
hung down her back in a gold net almost to her waist; at the extreme back
of her head was placed a black and rose-colored bonnet; open "flowing"
sleeves showed her bare arms, one-buttoned, straw-colored gloves, and
ruby bracelets; she carried a tiny rose-colored parasol not a foot in
diameter.

How England's great sovereign was dressed the writer of the journal does
not so well remember, for in those days Eugenie was the cynosure of all
eyes, and people rarely looked at anything else when they could get a
glimpse of her lovely face.

It appears, however, that the Queen sported an India shawl, hoops, and a
green bonnet, which was not particularly becoming to her red face.  She
and Napoleon entered the building first; the Empress (who was in delicate
health) was carried in an open chair, with Prince Albert walking at her
side, a marvellously handsome couple to follow the two dowdy little
sovereigns who preceded them.  The writer had by bribery succeeded in
getting places in an _entresol_ window under the archway, and was greatly
impressed to see those four great ones laughing and joking together over
Eugenie's trouble in getting her hoops into the narrow chair!

What changes have come to that laughing group!  Two are dead, one dying
in exile and disgrace; and it would be hard to find in the two rheumatic
old ladies whom one sees pottering about the Riviera now, any trace of
those smiling wives.  In France it is as if a tidal wave had swept over
Napoleon's court.  Only the old palace stood severely back from the
Champs Elysees, as if guarding its souvenirs.  The pick of the mason has
brought down the proud gateway which its imperial builder fondly imagined
was to last for ages.  The Tuileries preceded it into oblivion.  The
Alpha and Omega of that gorgeous pageant of the fifties vanished like a
mirage!

It is not here alone one finds Paris changing.  A railway is being
brought along the quais with its depot at the Invalides.  Another is to
find its terminus opposite the Louvre, where the picturesque ruin of the
Cour des Comptes has stood half-hidden by the trees since 1870.  A line
of electric cars crosses the Rond Point, in spite of the opposition of
all the neighborhood, anxious to keep, at least that fine perspective
free from such desecration.  And, last but not least, there is every
prospect of an immense system of elevated railways being inaugurated in
connection with the coming world's fair.  The direction of this kind of
improvement is entirely in the hands of the Municipal Council, and that
body has become (here in Paris) extremely radical, not to say
communistic; and takes pleasure in annoying the inhabitants of the richer
quarters of the city, under pretext of improvements and facilities of
circulation.

It is easy to see how strong the feeling is against the aristocratic
class.  Nor is it much to be wondered at!  The aristocracy seem to try to
make themselves unpopular.  They detest the republic, which has shorn
them of their splendor, and do everything in their power (socially and
diplomatically their power is still great) to interfere with and
frustrate the plans of the government.  Only last year they seized an
opportunity at the funerals of the Duchesse d'Alencon and the Duc
d'Aumale to make a royalist manifestation of the most pronounced
character.  The young Duchesse d'Orleans was publicly spoken of and
treated as the "Queen of France;" at the private receptions given during
her stay in Paris the same ceremonial was observed as if she had been
really on the throne.  The young Duke, her husband, was not present,
being in exile as a pretender, but armorial bearings of the "reigning
family," as their followers insist on calling them, were hung around the
Madeleine and on the funeral-cars of both the illustrious dead.

The government is singularly lenient to the aristocrats.  If a poor man
cries "Long live the Commune!" in the street, he is arrested.  The
police, however, stood quietly by and let a group of the old nobility
shout "Long live the Queen!" as the train containing the young Duchesse
d'Orleans moved out of the station.  The secret of this leniency toward
the "pretenders" to the throne, is that they are very little feared.  If
it amuses a set of wealthy people to play at holding a court, the strong
government of the republic cares not one jot.  The Orleans family have
never been popular in France, and the young pretender's marriage to an
Austrian Archduchess last year has not improved matters.

It is the fashion in the conservative Faubourg St. Germain, to ridicule
the President, his wife and their bourgeois surroundings, as forty years
ago the parents of these aristocrats affected to despise the imperial
_parvenus_.  The swells amused themselves during the official visit of
the Emperor and Empress of Russia last year (which was gall and wormwood
to them) by exaggerating and repeating all the small slips in etiquette
that the President, an intelligent, but simple-mannered gentleman, was
supposed to have made during the sojourn of his imperial guests.

Both M. and Mme. Faure are extremely popular with the people, and are
heartily cheered whenever they are seen in public.  The President is the
despair of the lovers of routine and etiquette, walking in and out of his
Palais of the Elysee, like a private individual, and breaking all rules
and regulations.  He is fond of riding, and jogs off to the Bois of a
morning with no escort, and often of an evening drops in at the theatres
in a casual way.  The other night at the Francais he suddenly appeared in
the _foyer des artistes_ (a beautiful greenroom, hung with historical
portraits of great actors and actresses, one of the prides of the
theatre) in this informal manner.  Mme. Bartet, who happened to be there
alone at the time, was so impressed at such an unprecedented event that
she fainted, and the President had to run for water and help revive her.
The next day he sent the great actress a beautiful vase of Sevres china,
full of water, in souvenir.

To a lover of old things and old ways any changes in the Paris he has
known and loved are a sad trial.  Henri Drumont, in his delightful _Mon
Vieux Paris_, deplores this modern mania for reform which has done such
good work in the new quarters but should, he thinks, respect the historic
streets and shady squares.

One naturally feels that the sights familiar in youth lose by being
transformed and doubts the necessity of such improvements.

The Rome of my childhood is no more!  Half of Cairo was ruthlessly
transformed in sixty-five into a hideous caricature of modern Paris.
Milan has been remodelled, each city losing in charm as it gained in
convenience.

So far Paris has held her own.  The spirit of the city has not been lost,
as in the other capitals.  The fair metropolis of France, in spite of
many transformations, still holds her admirers with a dominating sway.
She pours out for them a strong elixir that once tasted takes the flavor
out of existence in other cities and makes her adorers, when in exile,
thirst for another draught of the subtle nectar.



No. 25--Contentment


As the result of certain ideal standards adopted among us when this
country was still in long clothes, a time when the equality of man was
the new "fad" of many nations, and the prizes of life first came within
the reach of those fortunate or unscrupulous enough to seize them, it
became the fashion (and has remained so down to our day) to teach every
little boy attending a village school to look upon himself as a possible
future President, and to assume that every girl was preparing herself for
the position of first lady in the land.  This is very well in theory, and
practice has shown that, as Napoleon said, "Every private may carry a
marshal's baton in his knapsack."  Alongside of the good such incentive
may produce, it is only fair, however, to consider also how much harm may
lie in this way of presenting life to a child's mind.

As a first result of such tall talking we find in America, more than in
any other country, an inclination among all classes to leave the
surroundings where they were born and bend their energies to struggling
out of the position in life occupied by their parents.  There are not
wanting theorists who hold that this is a quality in a nation, and that
it leads to great results.  A proposition open to discussion.

It is doubtless satisfactory to designate first magistrates who have
raised themselves from humble beginnings to that proud position, and
there are times when it is proper to recall such achievements to the
rising generation.  But as youth is proverbially over-confident it might
also be well to point out, without danger of discouraging our sanguine
youngsters, that for one who has succeeded, about ten million confident
American youths, full of ambition and lofty aims, have been obliged to
content themselves with being honest men in humble positions, even as
their fathers before them.  A sad humiliation, I grant you, for a self-
respecting citizen, to end life just where his father did; often the
case, nevertheless, in this hard world, where so many fine qualities go
unappreciated,--no societies having as yet been formed to seek out "mute,
inglorious Miltons," and ask to crown them!

To descend abruptly from the sublime, to very near the ridiculous,--I had
need last summer of a boy to go with a lady on a trap and help about the
stable.  So I applied to a friend's coachman, a hard-working Englishman,
who was delighted to get the place for his nephew--an American-born
boy--the child of a sister, in great need.  As the boy's clothes were
hardly presentable, a simple livery was made for him; from that moment he
pined, and finally announced he was going to leave.  In answer to my
surprised inquiries, I discovered that a friend of his from the same
tenement-house in which he had lived in New York had appeared in the
village, and sooner than be seen in livery by his play-fellow he
preferred abandoning his good place, the chance of being of aid to his
mother, and learning an honorable way to earn his living.  Remonstrances
were in vain; to the wrath of his uncle, he departed.  The boy had, at
his school, heard so much about everybody being born equal and every
American being a gentleman by right of inheritance, that he had taken
himself seriously, and despised a position his uncle was proud to hold,
preferring elegant leisure in his native tenement-house to the
humiliation of a livery.

When at college I had rooms in a neat cottage owned by an American
family.  The father was a butcher, as were his sons.  The only daughter
was exceedingly pretty.  The hard-worked mother conceived high hopes for
this favorite child.  She was sent to a boarding-school, from which she
returned entirely unsettled for life, having learned little except to be
ashamed of her parents and to play on the piano.  One of these
instruments of torture was bought, and a room fitted up as a parlor for
the daughter's use.  As the family were fairly well-to-do, she was
allowed to dress out of all keeping with her parents' position, and,
egged on by her mother, tried her best to marry a rich "student."  Failing
in this, she became discontented, unhappy, and finally there was a
scandal, this poor victim of a false ambition going to swell the vast
tide of a city's vice.  With a sensible education, based on the idea that
her father's trade was honorable and that her mission in life was to aid
her mother in the daily work until she might marry and go to her husband,
prepared by experience to cook his dinner and keep his house clean, and
finally bring up her children to be honest men and women, this girl would
have found a happy future waiting for her, and have been of some good in
her humble way.

It is useless to multiply illustrations.  One has but to look about him
in this unsettled country of ours.  The other day in front of my door the
perennial ditch was being dug for some gas-pipe or other.  Two of the
gentlemen who had consented to do this labor wore frock-coats and top
hats--or what had once been those articles of attire--instead of
comfortable and appropriate overalls.  Why?  Because, like the stable-
boy, to have worn any distinctive dress would have been in their minds to
stamp themselves as belonging to an inferior class, and so interfered
with their chances of representing this country later at the Court of St.
James, or presiding over the Senate,--positions (to judge by their
criticism of the present incumbents) they feel no doubt as to their
ability to fill.

The same spirit pervades every trade.  The youth who shaves me is not a
barber; he has only accepted this position until he has time to do
something better.  The waiter who brings me my chop at a down-town
restaurant would resign his place if he were requested to shave his
flowing mustache, and is secretly studying law.  I lose all patience with
my countrymen as I think over it!  Surely we are not such a race of snobs
as not to recognize that a good barber is more to be respected than a
poor lawyer; that, as a French saying goes, _Il n'y a pas de sot metier_.
It is only the fool who is ashamed of his trade.

But enough of preaching.  I had intended--when I took up my pen to-day--to
write on quite another form of this modern folly, this eternal struggle
upward into circles for which the struggler is fitted neither by his
birth nor his education; the above was to have been but a preface to the
matter I had in mind, viz., "social climbers," those scourges of modern
society, the people whom no rebuffs will discourage and no cold shoulder
chill, whose efforts have done so much to make our countrymen a byword
abroad.

As many philosophers teach that trouble only is positive, happiness being
merely relative; that in any case trouble is pretty equally distributed
among the different conditions of mankind; that, excepting the destitute
and physically afflicted, all God's creatures have a share of joy in
their lives, would it not be more logical, as well as more conducive to
the general good, if a little more were done to make the young contented
with their lot in life, instead of constantly suggesting to a race
already prone to be unsettled, that nothing short of the top is worthy of
an American citizen?



No. 26--The Climber


That form of misplaced ambition, which is the subject of the preceding
chapter, can only be regarded seriously when it occurs among simple and
sincere people, who, however derided, honestly believe that they are
doing their duty to themselves and their families when they move heaven
and earth to rise a few steps in the world.  The moment we find ambition
taking a purely social form, it becomes ridiculous.  The aim is so paltry
in comparison with the effort, and so out of proportion with the energy-
exerted to attain it, that one can only laugh and wonder!  Unfortunately,
signs of this puerile spirit (peculiar to the last quarter of the
nineteenth century) can be seen on all hands and in almost every society.

That any man or woman should make it the unique aim and object of
existence to get into a certain "set," not from any hope of profit or
benefit, nor from the belief that it is composed of brilliant and amusing
people, but simply because it passes for being exclusive and difficult of
access, does at first seem incredible.

That humble young painters or singers should long to know personally the
great lights of their professions, and should strive to be accepted among
them is easily understood, since the aspirants can reap but benefit,
present and future, from such companionship.  That a rising politician
should deem it all-important to be on friendly terms with the "bosses" is
not astonishing, for those magnates have it in their power to make or mar
his fortune.  But in a _milieu_ as fluctuating as any social circle must
necessarily be, shading off on all sides and changing as constantly as
light on water, the end can never be considered as achieved or the goal
attained.

Neither does any particular result accompany success, more substantial
than the moral one which lies in self-congratulation.  That, however, is
enough for a climber if she is bitten with the "ascending" madness.  (I
say "she," because this form of ambition is more frequent among women,
although by no means unknown to the sterner sex.)

It amuses me vastly to sit in my corner and watch one of these _fin-de-
siecle_ diplomatists work out her little problem.  She generally comes
plunging into our city from outside, hot for conquest, making
acquaintances right and left, indiscriminately; thus falling an easy prey
to the wolves that prowl around the edges of society, waiting for just
such lambs to devour.  Her first entertainments are worth attending for
she has ingeniously contrived to get together all the people she should
have left out, and failed to attract the social lights and powers of the
moment.  If she be a quick-witted lady, she soon sees the error of her
ways and begins a process of "weeding"--as difficult as it is unwise,
each rejected "weed" instantly becoming an enemy for life, not to speak
of the risk she, in her ignorance, runs of mistaking for "detrimentals"
the _fines fleurs_ of the worldly parterre.  Ah! the way of the Climber
is hard; she now begins to see that her path is not strewn with flowers.

One tactful person of this kind, whose gradual "unfolding" was watched
with much amusement and wonder by her acquaintances, avoided all these
errors by going in early for a "dear friend."  Having, after mature
reflection, chosen her guide among the most exclusive of the young
matrons, she proceeded quietly to pay her court _en regle_.  Flattering
little notes, boxes of candy, and bunches of flowers were among the forms
her devotion took.  As a natural result, these two ladies became
inseparable, and the most hermetically sealed doors opened before the new
arrival.

A talent for music or acting is another aid.  A few years ago an entire
family were floated into the desired haven on the waves of the sister's
voice, and one young couple achieved success by the husband's aptitude
for games and sports.  In the latter case it was the man of the family
who did the work, dragging his wife up after him.  A polo pony is hardly
one's idea of a battle-horse, but in this case it bore its rider on to
success.

Once climbers have succeeded in installing themselves in the stronghold
of their ambitions, they become more exclusive than their new friends
ever dreamed of being, and it tries one's self-restraint to hear these
new arrivals deploring "the levelling tendencies of the age," or
wondering "how nice people can be beginning to call on those horrid So-
and-Sos.  Their father sold shoes, you know."  This ultra-exclusiveness
is not to be wondered at.  The only attraction the circle they have just
entered has for the climbers is its exclusiveness, and they do not intend
that it shall lose its market value in their hands.  Like Baudelaire,
they believe that "it is only the small number saved that makes the charm
of Paradise."  Having spent hard cash in this investment, they have every
intention of getting their money's worth.

In order to give outsiders a vivid impression of the footing on which
they stand with the great of the world, all the women they have just met
become Nellys and Jennys, and all the men Dicks and Freds--behind their
backs, _bien entendu_--for Mrs. "Newcome" has not yet reached that point
of intimacy which warrants using such abbreviations directly to the
owners.

Another amiable weakness common to the climber is that of knowing
everybody.  No name can be mentioned at home or abroad but Parvenu
happens to be on the most intimate terms with the owner, and when he is
conversing, great names drop out of his mouth as plentifully as did the
pearls from the pretty lips of the girl in the fairy story.  All the
world knows how such a gentleman, being asked on his return from the East
if he had seen "the Dardanelles," answered, "Oh, dear, yes!  I dined with
them several times!" thus settling satisfactorily his standing in the
Orient!

Climbing, like every other habit, soon takes possession of the whole
nature.  To abstain from it is torture.  Napoleon, we are told, found it
impossible to rest contented on his successes, but was impelled onward by
a force stronger than his volition.  In some such spirit the ambitious
souls here referred to, after "the Conquest of America" and the discovery
that the fruit of their struggles was not worth very much, victory having
brought the inevitable satiety in its wake, sail away in search of new
fields of adventure.  They have long ago left behind the friends and
acquaintances of their childhood.  Relations they apparently have none,
which accounts for the curious phenomenon that a parvenu is never in
mourning.  As no friendships bind them to their new circle, the ties are
easily loosened.  Why should they care for one city more than for
another, unless it offer more of the sport they love?  This continent has
become tame, since there is no longer any struggle, while over the sea
vast hunting grounds and game worthy of their powder, form an
irresistible temptation--old and exclusive societies to be besieged, and
contests to be waged compared to which their American experiences are but
light skirmishes.  As the polo pony is supposed to pant for the fray, so
the hearts of social conquerors warm within them at the prospect of more
brilliant victories.

The pleasure of following them on their hunting parties abroad will have
to be deferred, so vast is the subject, so full of thrilling adventure
and, alas! also of humiliating defeat.



No. 27--The Last of the Dandies


So completely has the dandy disappeared from among us, that even the word
has an old-time look (as if it had strayed out of some half-forgotten
novel or "keepsake"), raising in our minds the picture of a slender,
clean-shaven youth, in very tight unmentionables strapped under his feet,
a dark green frock-coat with a collar up to the ears and a stock whose
folds cover his chest, butter-colored gloves, and a hat--oh! a hat that
would collect a crowd in two minutes in any neighborhood!  A gold-headed
stick, and a quizzing glass, with a black ribbon an inch wide, complete
the toilet.  In such a rig did the swells of the last generation stroll
down Pall Mall or drive their tilburys in the Bois.

The recent illness of the Prince de Sagan has made a strange and sad
impression in many circles in Paris, for he has always been a favorite,
and is the last surviving type of a now extinct species.  He is the last
Dandy!  No understudy will be found to fill his role--the dude and the
swell are whole generations away from the dandy, of which they are but
feeble reflections--the comedy will have to be continued now, without its
leading gentleman.  With his head of silvery hair, his eye-glass and his
wonderful waistcoats, he held the first place in the "high life" of the
French capital.

No first night or ball was complete without him, Sagan.  The very mention
of his name in their articles must have kept the wolf from the door of
needy reporters.  No _debutante_, social or theatrical, felt sure of her
success until it had received the hall-mark of his approval.  When he
assisted at a dress rehearsal, the actors and the managers paid him more
attention than Sarcey or Sardou, for he was known to be the real arbiter
of their fate.  His word was law, the world bowed before it as before the
will of an autocrat.  Mature matrons received his dictates with the same
reverence that the Old Guard evinced for Napoleon's orders.  Had he not
led them on to victory in their youth?

On the boulevards or at a race-course, he was the one person always known
by sight and pointed out.  "There goes Sagan!"  He had become an
institution.  One does not know exactly how or why he achieved the
position, which made him the most followed, flattered, and copied man of
his day.  It certainly was unique!

The Prince of Sagan is descended from Maurice de Saxe (the natural son of
the King of Saxony and Aurora of Koenigsmark), who in his day shone
brilliantly at the French court and was so madly loved by Adrienne
Lecouvreur.  From his great ancestor, Sagan inherited the title of Grand
Duke Of Courland (the estates have been absorbed into a neighboring
empire).  Nevertheless, he is still an R.H., and when crowned heads visit
Paris they dine with him and receive him on a footing of equality.  He
married a great fortune, and the daughter of the banker Selliere.  Their
house on the Esplanade des Invalides has been for years the centre of
aristocratic life in Paris; not the most exclusive circle, but certainly
the gayest of this gay capital, and from the days of Louis Philippe he
has given the keynote to the fast set.

Oddly enough, he has always been a great favorite with the lower classes
(a popularity shared by all the famous dandies of history).  The people
appear to find in them the personification of all aspirations toward the
elegant and the ideal.  Alcibiades, Buckingham, the Duc de Richelieu,
Lord Seymour, Comte d'Orsay, Brummel, Grammont-Caderousse, shared this
favor, and have remained legendary characters, to whom their disdain for
everything vulgar, their worship of their own persons, and many costly
follies gave an ephemeral empire.  Their power was the more arbitrary and
despotic in that it was only nominal and undefined, allowing them to rule
over the fashions, the tastes, and the pastimes of their contemporaries
with undivided sway, making them envied, obeyed, loved, but rarely
overthrown.

It has been asserted by some writers that dandies are necessary and
useful to a nation (Thackeray admired them and pointed out that they have
a most difficult and delicate role to play, hence their rarity), and that
these butterflies, as one finds them in the novels of that day, the de
Marsys, the Pelhams, the Maxime de Trailles, are indispensable to the
perfection of society.  It is a great misfortune to a country to have no
dandies, those supreme virtuosos of taste and distinction.  Germany,
which glories in Mozart and Kant, Goethe and Humboldt, the country of
deep thinkers and brave soldiers, never had a great dandy, and so has
remained behind England or France in all that constitutes the graceful
side of life, the refinements of social intercourse, and the art of
living.  France will perceive too late, after he has disappeared, the
loss she has sustained when this Prince, Grand Seigneur, has ceased to
embellish by his presence her race-courses and "first nights."  A
reputation like his cannot be improvised in a moment, and he has no
pupils.

Never did the aristocracy of a country stand in greater need of such a
representation, than in these days of tramcars and "fixed-price"
restaurants.  An entire "art" dies with him.  It has been whispered that
he has not entirely justified his reputation, that the accounts of his
exploits as a _haut viveur_ have gained in the telling.  Nevertheless he
dominated an epoch, rising above the tumultuous and levelling society of
his day, a tardy Don Quixote, of the knighthood of pleasures, _fetes_,
loves and prodigalities, which are no longer of our time.  His great
name, his grand manner, his elderly graces, his serene carelessness, made
him a being by himself.  No one will succeed this master of departed
elegances.  If he does not recover from his attack, if the paralysis does
not leave that poor brain, worn out with doing nothing, we can honestly
say that he is the last of his kind.

An original and independent thinker has asserted that civilizations,
societies, empires, and republics go down to posterity typified for the
admiration of mankind, each under the form of some hero.  Emerson would
have given a place in his Pantheon to Sagan.  For it is he who sustained
the traditions and became the type of that distinguished and frivolous
society, which judged that serious things were of no importance,
enthusiasm a waste of time, literature a bore; that nothing was
interesting and worthy of occupying their attention except the elegant
distractions that helped to pass their days-and nights!  He had the merit
(?) in these days of the practical and the commonplace, of preserving in
his gracious person all the charming uselessness of a courtier in a
country where there was no longer a court.

What a strange sight it would be if this departing dandy could, before he
leaves for ever the theatre of so many triumphs, take his place at some
street corner, and review the shades of the companions his long life had
thrown him with, the endless procession of departed belles and beaux,
who, in their youth, had, under his rule, helped to dictate the fashions
and lead the sports of a world.



No. 28--A Nation on the Wing


On being taken the other day through a large and costly residence, with
the thoroughness that only the owner of a new house has the cruelty to
inflict on his victims, not allowing them to pass a closet or an electric
bell without having its particular use and convenience explained, forcing
them to look up coal-slides, and down air-shafts and to visit every
secret place, from the cellar to the fire-escape, I noticed that a
peculiar arrangement of the rooms repeated itself on each floor, and
several times on a floor.  I remarked it to my host.

"You observe it," he said, with a blush of pride, "it is my wife's idea!
The truth is, my daughters are of a marrying age, and my sons starting
out for themselves; this house will soon be much too big for two old
people to live in alone.  We have planned it so that at any time it can
be changed into an apartment house at a nominal expense.  It is even
wired and plumbed with that end in view!"

This answer positively took my breath away.  I looked at my host in
amazement.  It was hard to believe that a man past middle age, who after
years of hardest toil could afford to put half a million into a house for
himself and his children, and store it with beautiful things, would have
the courage to look so far into the future as to see all his work undone,
his home turned to another use and himself and his wife afloat in the
world without a roof over their wealthy old heads.

Surely this was the Spirit of the Age in its purest expression, the more
strikingly so that he seemed to feel pride rather than anything else in
his ingenious combination.

He liked the city he had built in well enough now, but nothing proved to
him that he would like it later.  He and his wife had lived in twenty
cities since they began their brave fight with Fortune, far away in a
little Eastern town.  They had since changed their abode with each
ascending rung of the ladder of success, and beyond a faded daguerreotype
or two of their children and a few modest pieces of jewelry, stored away
in cotton, it is doubtful if they owned a single object belonging to
their early life.

Another case occurs to me.  Near the village where I pass my summers,
there lived an elderly, childless couple on a splendid estate combining
everything a fastidious taste could demand.  One fine morning this place
was sold, the important library divided between the village and their
native city, the furniture sold or given away,--everything went; at the
end the things no one wanted were made into a bon-fire and burned.

A neighbor asking why all this was being done was told by the lady, "We
were tired of it all and have decided to be 'Bohemians' for the rest of
our lives."  This couple are now wandering about Europe and half a dozen
trunks contain their belongings.

These are, of course, extreme cases and must be taken for what they are
worth; nevertheless they are straws showing which way the wind blows,
signs of the times that he who runs may read.  I do not run, but I often
saunter up our principal avenue, and always find myself wondering what
will be the future of the splendid residences that grace that
thoroughfare as it nears the Park; the ascending tide of trade is already
circling round them and each year sees one or more crumble away and
disappear.

The finer buildings may remain, turned into clubs or restaurants, but the
greater part of the newer ones are so ill-adapted to any other use than
that for which they are built that their future seems obscure.

That fashion will flit away from its present haunts there can be little
doubt; the city below the Park is sure to be given up to business, and
even the fine frontage on that green space will sooner or later be
occupied by hotels, if not stores; and he who builds with any belief in
the permanency of his surroundings must indeed be of a hopeful
disposition.

A good lady occupying a delightful corner on this same avenue, opposite a
one-story florist's shop, said:

"I shall remain here until they build across the way; then I suppose I
shall have to move."

So after all the man who is contented to live in a future apartment
house, may not be so very far wrong.

A case of the opposite kind is that of a great millionaire, who, dying,
left his house and its collections to his eldest son and his grandson
after him, on the condition that they should continue to live in it.

Here was an attempt to keep together a home with its memories and
associations.  What has been the result?  The street that was a charming
centre for residences twenty years ago has become a "slum;" the
unfortunate heirs find themselves with a house on their hands that they
cannot live in and are forbidden to rent or sell.  As a final result the
will must in all probability be broken and the matter ended.

Of course the reason for a great deal of this is the phenomenal growth of
our larger cities.  Hundreds of families who would gladly remain in their
old homes are fairly pushed out of them by the growth of business.

Everything has its limits and a time must come when our cities will cease
to expand or when centres will be formed as in London or Paris, where
generations may succeed each other in the same homes.  So far, I see no
indications of any such crystallization in this our big city; we seem to
be condemned like the "Wandering Jew" or poor little "Joe" to be
perpetually "moving on."

At a dinner of young people not long ago a Frenchman visiting our
country, expressed his surprise on hearing a girl speak of "not
remembering the house she was born in."  Piqued by his manner the young
lady answered:

"We are twenty-four at this table.  I do not believe there is one person
here living in the house in which he or she was born."  This assertion
raised a murmur of dissent around the table; on a census being taken it
proved, however, to be true.

How can one expect, under circumstances like these, to find any great
respect among young people for home life or the conservative side of
existence?  They are born as it were on the wing, and on the wing will
they live.

The conditions of life in this country, although contributing largely to
such a state of affairs, must not be held, however, entirely responsible.
Underlying our civilization and culture, there is still strong in us a
wild nomadic strain inherited from a thousand generations of wandering
ancestors, which breaks out so soon as man is freed from the restraint
incumbent on bread-winning for his family.  The moment there is wealth or
even a modest income insured, comes the inclination to cut loose from the
dull routine of business and duty, returning instinctively to the
migratory habits of primitive man.

We are not the only nation that has given itself up to globe-trotting; it
is strong in the English, in spite of their conservative education, and
it is surprising to see the number of formerly stay-at-home French and
Germans one meets wandering in foreign lands.

In 1855, a Londoner advertised the plan he had conceived of taking some
people over to visit the International Exhibition in Paris.  For a fixed
sum paid in advance he offered to provide everything and act as courier
to the party, and succeeded with the greatest difficulty in getting
together ten people.  From this modest beginning has grown the vast
undertaking that to-day covers the globe with tourists, from the frozen
seas where they "do" the midnight sun, to the deserts three thousand
miles up the Nile.

As I was returning a couple of years ago _via_ Vienna from
Constantinople, the train was filled with a party of our compatriots
conducted by an agency of this kind--simple people of small means who,
twenty years ago, would as soon have thought of leaving their homes for a
trip in the East as they would of starting off in balloons en route for
the inter-stellar spaces.

I doubted at the time as to the amount of information and appreciation
they brought to bear on their travels, so I took occasion to draw one of
the thin, unsmiling women into conversation, asking her where they
intended stopping next.

"At Buda-Pesth," she answered.  I said in some amusement:

"But that was Buda-Pesth we visited so carefully yesterday."

"Oh, was it," she replied, without any visible change on her face, "I
thought we had not got there yet."  Apparently it was enough for her to
be travelling; the rest was of little importance.  Later in the day, when
asked if she had visited a certain old city in Germany, she told me she
had but would never go there again: "They gave us such poor coffee at the
hotel."  Again later in speaking to her husband, who seemed a trifle
vague as to whether he had seen Nuremberg or not, she said:

"Why, you remember it very well; it was there you bought those nice
overshoes!"

All of which left me with some doubts in my mind as to the cultivating
influences of foreign travel on their minds.

You cannot change a leopard's spots, neither can you alter the nature of
a race, and one of the strongest characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon, is
the nomadic instinct.  How often one hears people say:

"I am not going to sit at home and take care of my furniture.  I want to
see something of the world before I am too old."  Lately, a sprightly
maiden of uncertain years, just returned from a long trip abroad, was
asked if she intended now to settle down.

"Settle down, indeed!  I'm a butterfly and I never expect to settle
down."

There is certainly food here for reflection.  Why should we be more
inclined to wander than our neighbors?  Perhaps it is in a measure due to
our nervous, restless temperament, which is itself the result of our
climate; but whatever the cause is, inability to remain long in one place
is having a most unfortunate influence on our social life.  When everyone
is on the move or longing to be, it becomes difficult to form any but the
most superficial ties; strong friendships become impossible, the most
intimate family relations are loosened.

If one were of a speculative frame of mind and chose to take as the basis
for a calculation the increase in tourists between 1855, when the ten
pioneers started for Paris, and the number "personally conducted" over
land and sea to-day, and then glance forward at what the future will be
if this ratio of increase is maintained the result would be something too
awful for words.  For if ten have become a million in forty years, what
will be the total in 1955?  Nothing less than entire nations given over
to sight-seeing, passing their lives and incomes in rushing aimlessly
about.

If the facilities of communication increase as they undoubtedly will with
the demand, the prospect becomes nearer the idea of a "Walpurgis Night"
than anything else.  For the earth and the sea will be covered and the
air filled with every form of whirling, flying, plunging device to get
men quickly from one place to another.

Every human being on the globe will be flying South for the cold months
and North for the hot season.

As personally conducted tours have been so satisfactory, agencies will be
started to lead us through all the stages of existence.  Parents will
subscribe on the birth of their children to have them personally
conducted through life and everything explained as it is done at present
in the galleries abroad; food, lodging and reading matter, husbands and
wives will be provided by contract, to be taken back and changed if
unsatisfactory, as the big stores do with their goods.  Delightful
prospect!  Homes will become superfluous, parents and children will only
meet when their "tours" happen to cross each other.  Our
great-grandchildren will float through life freed from every
responsibility and more perfectly independent than even that delightful
dreamer, Bellamy, ventured to predict.



No. 29--Husks


Among the Protestants driven from France by that astute and
liberal-minded sovereign Louis XIV., were a colony of weavers, who as all
the world knows, settled at Spitalfields in England, where their
descendants weave silk to this day.

On their arrival in Great Britain, before the looms could be set up and a
market found for their industry, the exiles were reduced to the last
extremity of destitution and hunger.  Looking about them for anything
that could be utilized for food, they discovered that the owners of
English slaughter-houses threw away as worthless, the tails of the cattle
they killed.  Like all the poor in France, these wanderers were excellent
cooks, and knew that at home such caudal appendages were highly valued
for the tenderness and flavor of the meat.  To the amazement and disgust
of the English villagers the new arrivals proceeded to collect this
"refuse" and carry it home for food.  As the first principle of French
culinary art is the _pot-au-feu_, the tails were mostly converted into
soup, on which the exiles thrived and feasted.

Their neighbors, envious at seeing the despised French indulging daily in
savory dishes, unknown to English palates, and tempted like "Jack's"
giant by the smell of "fresh meat," began to inquire into the matter, and
slowly realized how, in their ignorance, they had been throwing away
succulent and delicate food.  The news of this discovery gradually
spreading through all classes, "ox-tail" became and has remained the
national English soup.

If this veracious tale could be twisted into a metaphor, it would serve
marvellously to illustrate the position of the entire Anglo-Saxon race,
and especially that of their American descendants as regards the Latin
peoples.  For foolish prodigality and reckless, ignorant extravagance,
however, we leave our English cousins far behind.

Two American hotels come to my mind, as different in their appearance and
management as they are geographically asunder.  Both are types and
illustrations of the wilful waste that has recently excited Mr. Ian
Maclaren's comment, and the woeful want (of good food) that is the
result.  At one, a dreary shingle construction on a treeless island, off
our New England coast, where the ideas of the landlord and his guests
have remained as unchanged and primitive as the island itself, I found on
inquiry that all articles of food coming from the first table were thrown
into the sea; and I have myself seen chickens hardly touched, rounds of
beef, trays of vegetables, and every variety of cake and dessert tossed
to the fish.

While we were having soups so thin and tasteless that they would have
made a French house-wife blush, the ingredients essential to an excellent
"stock" were cast aside.  The boarders were paying five dollars a day and
appeared contented, the place was packed, the landlord coining money, so
it was foolish to expect any improvement.

The other hotel, a vast caravansary in the South, where a fortune had
been lavished in providing every modern convenience and luxury, was the
"fad" of its wealthy owner.  I had many talks with the manager during my
stay, and came to realize that most of the wastefulness I saw around me
was not his fault, but that of the public, to whose taste he was obliged
to cater.  At dinner, after receiving your order, the waiter would
disappear for half an hour, and then bring your entire meal on one tray,
the over-cooked meats stranded in lakes of coagulated gravy, the entrees
cold and the ices warm.  He had generally forgotten two or three
essentials, but to send back for them meant to wait another half-hour, as
his other clients were clamoring to be served.  So you ate what was
before you in sulky disgust, and got out of the room as quickly as
possible.

After one of these gastronomic races, being hungry, flustered, and
suffering from indigestion, I asked mine host if it had never occurred to
him to serve a _table d'hote_ dinner (in courses) as is done abroad,
where hundreds of people dine at the same moment, each dish being offered
them in turn accompanied by its accessories.

"Of course, I have thought of it," he answered.  "It would be the
greatest improvement that could be introduced into American
hotel-keeping.  No one knows better than I do how disastrous the present
system is to all parties.  Take as an example of the present way, the
dinner I am going to give you to-morrow, in honor of Christmas.  Glance
over this _menu_.  You will see that it enumerates every costly and
delicate article of food possible to procure and a long list of other
dishes, the greater part of which will not even be called for.  As no
number of _chefs_ could possibly oversee the proper preparation of such a
variety of meats and sauces, all will be carelessly cooked, and as you
know by experience, poorly served.

"People who exact useless variety," he added, "are sure in some way to be
the sufferers; in their anxiety to try everything, they will get nothing
worth eating.  Yet that meal will cost me considerably more than my
guests pay for their twenty-four hours' board and lodging."

"Why do it, you ask?  Because it is the custom, and because it will be an
advertisement.  These bills of fare will be sown broadcast over the
country in letters to friends and kept as souvenirs.  If, instead of all
this senseless superfluity, I were allowed to give a _table d'hote_ meal
to-morrow, with the _chef_ I have, I could provide an exquisite dinner,
perfect in every detail, served at little tables as deftly and silently
as in a private house.  I could also discharge half of my waiters, and
charge two dollars a day instead of five dollars, and the hotel would
become (what it has never been yet) a paying investment, so great would
he the saving."

"Only this morning," he continued, warming to his subject, "while
standing in the dining room, I saw a young man order and then send away
half the dishes on the _menu_.  A chicken was broiled for him and
rejected; a steak and an omelette fared no better.  How much do you
suppose a hotel gains from a guest like that?"

"The reason Americans put up with such poor viands in hotels is, that
home cooking in this country is so rudimentary, consisting principally of
fried dishes, and hot breads.  So little is known about the proper
preparation of food that to-morrow's dinner will appear to many as the
_ne plus ultra_ of delicate living.  One of the charms of a hotel for
people who live poorly at home, lies in this power to order expensive
dishes they rarely or never see on their own tables."

"To be served with a quantity of food that he has but little desire to
eat is one of an American citizen's dearest privileges, and a right he
will most unwillingly relinquish.  He may know as well as you and I do,
that what he calls for will not be worth eating; that is of secondary
importance, he has it before him, and is contented."

"The hotel that attempted limiting the liberty of its guests to the
extent of serving them a _table d'hote_ dinner, would be emptied in a
week."

"A crowning incongruity, as most people are delighted to dine with
friends, or at public functions, where the meal is invariably served _a
la russe_ (another name for a _table d'hote_), and on these occasions are
only too glad to have their _menu_ chosen for them.  The present way,
however, is a remnant of 'old times' and the average American, with all
his love of change and novelty, is very conservative when it comes to his
table."

What this manager did not confide to me, but what I discovered later for
myself, was that to facilitate the service, and avoid confusion in the
kitchens, it had become the custom at all the large and most of the small
hotels in this country, to carve the joints, cut up the game, and portion
out vegetables, an hour or two before meal time.  The food, thus
arranged, is placed in vast steam closets, where it simmers gayly for
hours, in its own, and fifty other vapors.

Any one who knows the rudiments of cookery, will recognize that with this
system no viand can have any particular flavor, the partridges having a
taste of their neighbor the roast beef, which in turn suggests the plum
pudding it has been "chumming" with.

It is not alone in a hotel that we miss the good in grasping after the
better.  Small housekeeping is apparently run on the same lines.

A young Frenchman, who was working in my rooms, told me in reply to a
question regarding prices, that every kind of food was cheaper here than
abroad, but the prejudice against certain dishes was so strong in this
country that many of the best things in the markets were never called
for.  Our nation is no longer in its "teens" and should cease to act like
a foolish boy who has inherited (what appears to him) a limitless
fortune; not for fear of his coming, like his prototype in the parable,
to live on "husks" for he is doing that already, but lest like the dog of
the fable, in grasping after the shadow of a banquet he miss the simple
meal that is within his reach.

One of the reasons for this deplorable state of affairs lies in the
foolish education our girls receive.  They learn so little housekeeping
at home, that when married they are obliged to begin all over again,
unless they prefer, like a majority of their friends, to let things as go
at the will and discretion of the "lady" below stairs.

At both hotels I have referred to, the families of the men interested
considered it beneath them to know what was taking place.  The "daughter"
of the New England house went semi-weekly to Boston to take violin
lessons at ten dollars each, although she had no intention of becoming a
professional, while the wife wrote poetry and ignored the hotel side of
her life entirely.

The "better half" of the Florida establishment hired a palace in Rome and
entertained ambassadors.  Hotels divided against themselves are apt to be
establishments where you pay for riotous living and are served only with
husks.

We have many hard lessons ahead of us, and one of the hardest will be for
our nation to learn humbly from the thrifty emigrants on our shores, the
great art of utilizing the "tails" that are at this moment being so
recklessly thrown away.

As it is, in spite of markets overflowing with every fish, vegetable, and
tempting viand, we continue to be the worst fed, most meagrely nourished
of all the wealthy nations on the face of the earth.  We have a saying
(for an excellent reason unknown on the Continent) that Providence
provides us with food and the devil sends the cooks!  It would be truer
to say that the poorer the food resources of a nation, the more
restricted the choice of material, the better the cooks; a small latitude
when providing for the table forcing them to a hundred clever
combinations and mysterious devices to vary the monotony of their cuisine
and tempt a palate, by custom staled.

Our heedless people, with great variety at their disposition, are unequal
to the situation, wasting and discarding the best, and making absolutely
nothing of their advantages.

If we were enjoying our prodigality by living on the fat of the land,
there would be less reason to reproach ourselves, for every one has a
right to live as he pleases.  But as it is, our foolish prodigals are
spending their substance, while eating the husks!



No. 30--The Faubourg of St. Germain


There has been too much said and written in the last dozen years about
breaking down the "great wall" behind which the aristocrats of the famous
Faubourg, like the Celestials, their prototypes, have ensconced
themselves.  The Chinese speak of outsiders as "barbarians."  The French
ladies refer to such unfortunates as being "beyond the pale."  Almost all
that has been written is arrant nonsense; that imaginary barrier exists
to-day on as firm a foundation, and is guarded by sentinels as vigilant
as when, forty years ago, Napoleon (third of the name) and his Spanish
spouse mounted to its assault.

Their repulse was a bitter humiliation to the _parvenue_ Empress, whose
resentment took the form (along with many other curious results) of
opening the present Boulevard St. Germain, its line being intentionally
carried through the heart of that quarter, teeming with historic "Hotels"
of the old aristocracy, where beautiful constructions were mercilessly
torn down to make way for the new avenue.  The cajoleries which Eugenie
first tried and the blows that followed were alike unavailing.  Even her
worship of Marie Antoinette, between whom and herself she found imaginary
resemblances, failed to warm the stony hearts of the proud old ladies, to
whom it was as gall and wormwood to see a nobody crowned in the palace of
their kings.  Like religious communities, persecution only drew this old
society more firmly together and made them stand by each other in their
distress.  When the Bois was remodelled by Napoleon and the lake with its
winding drive laid out, the new Court drove of an afternoon along this
water front.  That was enough for the old swells!  They retired to the
remote "Allee of the Acacias," and solemnly took their airing away from
the bustle of the new world, incidentally setting a fashion that has held
good to this day; the lakeside being now deserted, and the "Acacias"
crowded of an afternoon, by all that Paris holds of elegant and
inelegant.

Where the brilliant Second Empire failed, the Republic had little chance
of success.  With each succeeding year the "Old Faubourg" withdrew more
and more into its shell, going so far, after the fall of Mac Mahon, as to
change its "season" to the spring, so that the balls and _fetes_ it gave
should not coincide with the "official" entertainments during the winter.

The next people to have a "shy" at the "Old Faubourg's" Gothic
battlements were the Jews, who were victorious in a few light skirmishes
and succeeded in capturing one or two illustrious husbands for their
daughters.  The wily Israelites, however, discovered that titled sons-in-
law were expensive articles and often turned out unsatisfactorily, so
they quickly desisted.  The English, the most practical of societies,
have always left the Faubourg alone.  It has been reserved for our
countrywomen to lay the most determined siege yet recorded to that
untaken stronghold.

It is a characteristic of the American temperament to be unable to see a
closed door without developing an intense curiosity to know what is
behind; or to read "No Admittance to the Public" over an entrance without
immediately determining to get inside at any price.  So it is easy to
understand the attraction an hermetically sealed society would have for
our fair compatriots.  Year after year they have flung themselves against
its closed gateways.  Repulsed, they have retired only to form again for
the attack, but are as far away to-day from planting their flag in that
citadel as when they first began.  It does not matter to them what is
inside; there may be (as in this case) only mouldy old halls and a group
of people with antiquated ideas and ways.  It is enough for a certain
type of woman to know that she is not wanted in an exclusive circle, to
be ready to die in the attempt to get there.  This point of view reminds
one of Mrs. Snob's saying about a new arrival at a hotel: "I am sure she
must be 'somebody' for she was so rude to me when I spoke to her;" and
her answer to her daughter when the girl said (on arriving at a watering-
place) that she had noticed a very nice family "who look as if they
wanted to know us, Mamma:"

"Then, my dear," replied Mamma Snob, "they certainly are not people we
want to meet!"

The men in French society are willing enough to make acquaintance with
foreigners.  You may see the youth of the Faubourg dancing at American
balls in Paris, or running over for occasional visits to this country.
But when it comes to taking their women-kind with them, it is a different
matter.  Americans who have known well-born Frenchmen at school or
college are surprised, on meeting them later, to be asked (cordially
enough) to dine _en garcon_ at a restaurant, although their Parisian
friend is married.  An Englishman's or American's first word would be on
a like occasion:

"Come and dine with me to-night.  I want to introduce you to my wife."
Such an idea would never cross a Frenchman's mind!

One American I know is a striking example of this.  He was born in Paris,
went to school and college there, and has lived in that city all his
life.  His sister married a French nobleman.  Yet at this moment, in
spite of his wealth, his charming American wife, and many beautiful
entertainments, he has not one warm French friend, or the _entree_ on a
footing of intimacy to a single Gallic house.

There is no analogy between the English aristocracy and the French
nobility, except that they are both antiquated institutions; the English
is the more harmful on account of its legislative power, the French is
the more pretentious.  The House of Lords is the most open club in
London, the payment of an entrance-fee in the shape of a check to a party
fund being an all-sufficient sesame.  In France, one must be born in the
magic circle.  The spirit of the Emigration of 1793 is not yet extinct.
The nobles live in their own world (how expressive the word is, seeming
to exclude all the rest of mankind), pining after an impossible
_restauration_, alien to the present day, holding aloof from politics for
fear of coming in touch with the masses, with whom they pride themselves
on having nothing in common.

What leads many people astray on this subject is that there has formed
around this ancient society a circle composed of rich "outsiders," who
have married into good families; and of eccentric members of the latter,
who from a love of excitement or for interested motives have broken away
from their traditions.  Newly arrived Americans are apt to mistake this
"world" for the real thing.  Into this circle it is not difficult for
foreigners who are rich and anxious to see something of life to gain
admission.  To be received by the ladies of this outer circle, seems to
our compatriots to be an achievement, until they learn the real standing
of their new acquaintances.

No gayer houses, however, exist than those of the new set.  At their city
or country houses, they entertain continually, and they are the people
one meets toward five o'clock, on the grounds of the Polo Club, in the
Bois, at _fetes_ given by the Island Club of Puteaux, attending the race
meetings, or dining at American houses.  As far as amusement and fun go,
one might seek much further and fare worse.

It is very, very rare that foreigners get beyond this circle.
Occasionally there is a marriage between an American girl and some
Frenchman of high rank.  In these cases the girl is, as it were,
swallowed up.  Her family see little of her, she rarely appears in
general society, and, little by little, she is lost to her old friends
and relations.  I know of several cases of this kind where it is to be
doubted if a dozen Americans outside of the girls' connections know that
such women exist.  The fall in rents and land values has made the French
aristocracy poor; it is only by the greatest economy (and it never
entered into an American mind to conceive of such economy as is practised
among them) that they succeed in holding on to their historical chateaux
or beautiful city residences; so that pride plays a large part in the
isolation in which they live.

The fact that no titles are recognized officially by the French
government (the most they can obtain being a "courtesy" recognition) has
placed these people in a singularly false position.  An American girl who
has married a Duke is a good deal astonished to find that she is legally
only plain "Madame So and So;" that when her husband does his military
service there is no trace of the high-sounding title to be found in his
official papers.  Some years ago, a colonel was rebuked because he
allowed the Duc d'Alencon to be addressed as "Monseigneur" by the other
officers of his regiment.  This ought to make ambitious papas reflect,
when they treat themselves to titled sons-in-law.  They should at least
try and get an article recognized by the law.

Most of what is written here is perfectly well known to resident
Americans in Paris, and has been the cause of gradually splitting that
once harmonious settlement into two perfectly distinct camps, between
which no love is lost.  The members of one, clinging to their
countrymen's creed of having the best or nothing, have been contented to
live in France and know but few French people, entertaining among
themselves and marrying their daughters to Americans.  The members of the
other, who have "gone in" for French society, take what they can get,
and, on the whole, lead very jolly lives.  It often happens (perhaps it
is only a coincidence) that ladies who have not been very successful at
home are partial to this circle, where they easily find guests for their
entertainments and the recognition their souls long for.

What the future of the "Great Faubourg" will be, it is hard to say.  All
hope of a possible _restauration_ appears to be lost.  Will the proud
necks that refused to bend to the Orleans dynasty or the two "empires"
bow themselves to the republican yoke?  It would seem as if it must
terminate in this way, for everything in this world must finish.  But the
end is not yet; one cannot help feeling sympathy for people who are
trying to live up to their traditions and be true to such immaterial
idols as "honor" and "family" in this discouragingly material age, when
everything goes down before the Golden Calf.  Nor does one wonder that
men who can trace their ancestors back to the Crusades should hesitate to
ally themselves with the last rich _parvenu_ who has raised himself from
the gutter, or resent the ardor with which the latest importation of
American ambition tries to chum with them and push its way into their
life.



No. 31--Men's Manners


Nothing makes one feel so old as to wake up suddenly, as it were, and
realize that the conditions of life have changed, and that the standards
you knew and accepted in your youth have been raised or lowered.  The
young men you meet have somehow become uncomfortably polite, offering you
armchairs in the club, and listening with a shade of deference to your
stories.  They are of another generation; their ways are not your ways,
nor their ambitions those you had in younger days.  One is tempted to
look a little closer, to analyze what the change is, in what this subtle
difference consists, which you feel between your past and their present.
You are surprised and a little angry to discover that, among other
things, young men have better manners than were general among the youths
of fifteen years ago.

Anyone over forty can remember three epochs in men's manners.  When I was
a very young man, there were still going about in society a number of
gentlemen belonging to what was reverently called the "old school," who
had evidently taken Sir Charles Grandison as their model, read Lord
Chesterfield's letters to his son with attention, and been brought up to
commence letters to their fathers, "Honored Parent," signing themselves
"Your humble servant and respectful son."  There are a few such old
gentlemen still to be found in the more conservative clubs, where certain
windows are tacitly abandoned to these elegant-mannered fossils.  They
are quite harmless unless you happen to find them in a reminiscent mood,
when they are apt to be a little tiresome; it takes their rusty mental
machinery so long to get working!  Washington possesses a particularly
fine collection among the retired army and navy officers and
ex-officials.  It is a fact well known that no one drawing a pension ever
dies.

About 1875, a new generation with new manners began to make its
appearance.  A number of its members had been educated at English
universities, and came home burning to upset old ways and teach their
elders how to live.  They broke away from the old clubs and started
smaller and more exclusive circles among themselves, principally in the
country.  This was a period of bad manners.  True to their English model,
they considered it "good form" to be uncivil and to make no effort
towards the general entertainment when in society.  Not to speak more
than a word or two during a dinner party to either of one's neighbors was
the supreme _chic_.  As a revolt from the twice-told tales of their
elders they held it to be "bad form" to tell a story, no matter how fresh
and amusing it might be.  An unfortunate outsider who ventured to tell
one in their club was crushed by having his tale received in dead
silence.  When it was finished one of the party would "ring the bell,"
and the circle order drinks at the expense of the man who had dared to
amuse them.  How the professional story-teller must have shuddered--he
whose story never was ripe until it had been told a couple of hundred
times, and who would produce a certain tale at a certain course as surely
as clock-work.

That the story-telling type was a bore, I grant.  To be grabbed on
entering your club and obliged to listen to Smith's last, or to have the
conversation after dinner monopolized by Jones and his eternal "Speaking
of coffee, I remember once," etc. added an additional hardship to
existence.  But the opposite pose, which became the fashion among the
reformers, was hardly less wearisome.  To sit among a group of perfectly
mute men, with an occasional word dropping into the silence like a stone
in a well, was surely little better.

A girl told me she had once sat through an entire cotillion with a youth
whose only remark during the evening had been (after absorbed
contemplation of the articles in question), "How do you like my socks?"

On another occasion my neighbor at table said to me:

"I think the man on my right has gone to sleep.  He is sitting with his
eyes closed!"  She was mistaken.  He was practising his newly acquired
"repose of manner," and living up to the standard of his set.

The model young man of that period had another offensive habit, his pose
of never seeing you, which got on the nerves of his elders to a
considerable extent.  If he came into a drawing-room where you were
sitting with a lady, he would shake hands with her and begin a
conversation, ignoring your existence, although you may have been his
guest at dinner the night before, or he yours.  This was also a tenet of
his creed borrowed from trans-Atlantic cousins, who, by the bye, during
the time I speak of, found America, and especially our Eastern states, a
happy hunting-ground,--all the clubs, country houses, and society
generally opening their doors to the "sesame" of English nationality.  It
took our innocent youths a good ten years to discover that there was no
reciprocity in the arrangement; it was only in the next epoch (the list
of the three referred to) that our men recovered their self-respect, and
assumed towards foreigners in general the attitude of polite indifference
which is their manner to us when abroad.  Nothing could have been more
provincial and narrow than the ideas of our "smart" men at that time.
They congregated in little cliques, huddling together in public, and
cracking personal old jokes; but were speechless with _mauvaise honte_ if
thrown among foreigners or into other circles of society.  All this is
not to be wondered at considering the amount of their general education
and reading.  One charming little custom then greatly in vogue among our
_jeunesse doree_ was to remain at a ball, after the other guests had
retired, tipsy, and then break anything that came to hand.  It was so
amusing to throw china, glass, or valuable plants, out of the windows, to
strip to the waist and box or bait the tired waiters.

I look at the boys growing up around me with sincere admiration, they are
so superior to their predecessors in breeding, in civility, in deference
to older people, and in a thousand other little ways that mark high-bred
men.  The stray Englishman, of no particular standing at home no longer
finds our men eager to entertain him, to put their best "hunter" at his
disposition, to board, lodge, and feed him indefinitely, or make him
honorary member of all their clubs.  It is a constant source of pleasure
to me to watch this younger generation, so plainly do I see in them the
influence of their mothers--women I knew as girls, and who were so far
ahead of their brothers and husbands in refinement and culture.  To have
seen these girls marry and bring up their sons so well has been a
satisfaction and a compensation for many disillusions.  Woman's influence
will always remain the strongest lever that can be brought to bear in
raising the tone of a family; it is impossible not to see about these
young men a reflection of what we found so charming in their mothers.  One
despairs at times of humanity, seeing vulgarity and snobbishness riding
triumphantly upward; but where the tone of the younger generation is as
high as I have lately found it, there is still much hope for the future.



No. 32--An Ideal Hostess


The saying that "One-half of the world ignores how the other half lives"
received for me an additional confirmation this last week, when I had the
good fortune to meet again an old friend, now for some years retired from
the stage, where she had by her charm and beauty, as well as by her
singing, held all the Parisian world at her pretty feet.

Our meeting was followed on her part by an invitation to take luncheon
with her the next day, "to meet a few friends, and talk over old times."
So half-past twelve (the invariable hour for the "second breakfast," in
France) the following day found me entering a shady drawing-room, where a
few people were sitting in the cool half-light that strayed across from a
canvas-covered balcony furnished with plants and low chairs.  Beyond one
caught a glimpse of perhaps the gayest picture that the bright city of
Paris offers,--the sweep of the Boulevard as it turns to the Rue Royale,
the flower market, gay with a thousand colors in the summer sunshine,
while above all the color and movement, rose, cool and gray, the splendid
colonnade of the Madeleine.  The rattle of carriages, the roll of the
heavy omnibuses and the shrill cries from the street below floated up,
softened into a harmonious murmur that in no way interfered with our
conversation, and is sweeter than the finest music to those who love
their Paris.

Five or six rooms _en suite_ opening on the street, and as many more on a
large court, formed the apartment, where everything betrayed the
_artiste_ and the singer.  The walls, hung with silk or tapestry, held a
collection of original drawings and paintings, a fortune in themselves;
the dozen portraits of our hostess in favorite roles were by men great in
the art world; a couple of pianos covered with well-worn music and
numberless photographs signed with names that would have made an
autograph-fiend's mouth water.

After a gracious, cooing welcome, more whispered than spoken, I was
presented to the guests I did not know.  Before this ceremony was well
over, two maids in black, with white caps, opened a door into the dining-
room and announced luncheon.  As this is written on the theme that
"people know too little how their neighbors live," I give the _menu_.  It
may amuse my readers and serve, perhaps, as a little object lesson to
those at home who imagine that quantity and not quality is of importance.

Our gracious hostess had earned a fortune in her profession (and I am
told that two _chefs_ preside over her simple meals); so it was not a
spirit of economy which dictated this simplicity.  At first, _hors
d'oeuvres_ were served,--all sorts of tempting little things,--very thin
slices of ham, spiced sausages, olives and caviar, and eaten--not merely
passed and refused.  Then came the one hot dish of the meal.  "One!"  I
think I hear my reader exclaim.  Yes, my friend, but that one was a
marvel in its way.  Chicken _a l'espagnole_, boiled, and buried in rice
and tomatoes cooked whole--a dish to be dreamed of and remembered in
one's prayers and thanksgivings!  After at least two helpings each to
this _chef-d'oeuvre_, cold larded fillet and a meat _pate_ were served
with the salad.  Then a bit of cheese, a beaten cream of chocolate,
fruit, and bon-bons.  For a drink we had the white wine from which
champagne is made (by a chemical process and the addition of many
injurious ingredients); in other words, a pure _brut_ champagne with just
a suggestion of sparkle at the bottom of your glass.  All the party then
migrated together into the smoking-room for cigarettes, coffee, and a
tiny glass of _liqueur_.

These details have been given at length, not only because the meal seemed
to me, while I was eating it, to be worthy of whole columns of print, but
because one of the besetting sins of our dear land is to serve a
profusion of food no one wants and which the hostess would never have
dreamed of ordering had she been alone.

Nothing is more wearisome than to sit at table and see course after
course, good, bad, and indifferent, served, after you have eaten what you
want.  And nothing is more vulgar than to serve them; for either a guest
refuses a great deal of the food and appears uncivil, or he must eat, and
regret it afterwards.  If we ask people to a meal, it should be to such
as we eat, as a general thing, ourselves, and such as they would have at
home.  Otherwise it becomes ostentation and vulgarity.  Why should one be
expelled to eat more than usual because a friend has been nice enough to
ask one to take one's dinner with him, instead of eating it alone?  It is
the being among friends that tempts, not the food; the fact at skilful
waiters have been able to serve a dozen varieties of fish, flesh, and
fowl during the time you were at table has added little to any one's
pleasure.  On the contrary!  Half the time one eats from pure absence of
mind, a number of most injurious mixtures and so prepares an awful to-
morrow and the foundation of many complicated diseases.

I see Smith and Jones daily at the club, where we dine cheerfully
together on soup, a cut of the joint, a dessert, and drink a pint of
claret.  But if either Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones asks me to dinner, we
have eight courses and half as many wines, and Smith will say quite
gravely to me, "Try this '75 'Perrier Jouet'," as if he were in the habit
of drinking it daily.  It makes me smile, for he would as soon think of
ordering a bottle of that wine at the club as he would think of ordering
a flask of nectar.

But to return to our "mutton."  As we had none of us eaten too much (and
so become digesting machines), we were cheerful and sprightly.  A little
music followed and an author repeated some of his poetry.  I noticed that
during the hour before we broke up our hostess contrived to have a little
talk with each of her guests, which she made quite personal, appearing
for the moment as though the rest of the world did not exist for her,
than which there is no more subtle flattery, and which is the act of a
well-bred and appreciative woman.  Guests cannot be treated _en masse_
any more than food; to ask a man to your house is not enough.  He should
be made to feel, if you wish him to go away with a pleasant remembrance
of the entertainment, that his presence has in some way added to it and
been a personal pleasure to his host.

A good soul that all New York knew a few years ago, whose entertainments
were as though the street had been turned into a _salon_ for the moment,
used to go about among her guests saying, "There have been one hundred
and seventy-five people here this Thursday, ten more than last week,"
with such a satisfied smile, that you felt that she had little left to
wish for, and found yourself wondering just which number you represented
in her mind.  When you entered she must have murmured a numeral to
herself as she shook your hand.

There is more than one house in New York where I have grave doubts if the
host and hostess are quite sure of my name when I dine there; after an
abstracted welcome, they rarely put themselves out to entertain their
guests.  Black coats and evening dresses alternate in pleasing
perspective down the long line of their table.  Their gold plate is out,
and the _chef_ has been allowed to work his own sweet will, so they give
themselves no further trouble.

Why does not some one suggest to these amphitrions to send fifteen
dollars in prettily monogrammed envelopes to each of their friends,
requesting them to expend it on a dinner.  The compliment would be quite
as personal, and then the guests might make up little parties to suit
themselves, which would be much more satisfactory than going "in" with
some one chosen at hazard from their host's visiting list, and less
fatiguing to that gentleman and his family.



No. 33--The Introducer


We all suffer more or less from the perennial "freshness" of certain
acquaintances--tiresome people whom a misguided Providence has endowed
with over-flowing vitality and an irrepressible love of their fellowmen,
and who, not content with looking on life as a continual "spree," insist
on making others happy in spite of themselves.  Their name is legion and
their presence ubiquitous, but they rarely annoy as much as when
disguised under the mask of the "Introducer."  In his clutches one is
helpless.  It is impossible to escape from such philanthropic tyranny.
He, in his freshness, imagines that to present human beings to each other
is his mission in this world and moves through life making these platonic
unions, oblivious, as are other match-makers, of the misery he creates.

If you are out for a quiet stroll, one of these genial gentlemen is sure
to come bounding up, and without notice or warning present you to his
"friend,"--the greater part of the time a man he has met only an hour
before, but whom he endows out of the warehouse of his generous
imagination with several talents and all the virtues.  In order to make
the situation just one shade more uncomfortable, this kindly bore
proceeds to sing a hymn of praise concerning both of you to your faces,
adding, in order that you may both feel quite friendly and pleasant:

"I know you two will fancy each other, you are so alike,"--a phrase
neatly calculated to nip any conversation in the bud.  You detest the
unoffending stranger on the spot and would like to kill the bore.  Not to
appear an absolute brute you struggle through some commonplace phrases,
discovering the while that your new acquaintance is no more anxious to
know you, than you are to meet him; that he has not the slightest idea
who you are, neither does he desire to find out.  He classes you with the
bore, and his one idea, like your own, is to escape.  So that the only
result of the Introducer's good-natured interference has been to make two
fellow-creatures miserable.

A friend was telling me the other day of the martyrdom he had suffered
from this class.  He spoke with much feeling, as he is the soul of
amiability, but somewhat short-sighted and afflicted with a hopelessly
bad memory for faces.  For the last few years, he has been in the habit
of spending one or two of the winter months in Washington, where his
friends put him up at one club or another.  Each winter on his first
appearance at one of these clubs, some kindly disposed old fogy is sure
to present him to a circle of the members, and he finds himself
indiscriminately shaking hands with Judges and Colonels.  As little or no
conversation follows these introductions to fix the individuality of the
members in his mind, he unconsciously cuts two-thirds of his newly
acquired circle the next afternoon, and the following winter, after a ten-
months' absence, he innocently ignores the other third.  So hopelessly
has he offended in this way, that last season, on being presented to a
club member, the latter peevishly blurted out:

"This is the fourth time I have been introduced to Mr. Blank, but he
never remembers me," and glared coldly at him, laying it all down to my
friend's snobbishness and to the airs of a New Yorker when away from
home.  If instead of being sacrificed to the introducer's mistaken zeal
my poor friend had been left quietly to himself, he would in good time
have met the people congenial to him and avoided giving offence to a
number of kindly gentlemen.

This introducing mania takes an even more aggressive form in the hostess,
who imagines that she is lacking in hospitality if any two people in her
drawing-room are not made known to each other.  No matter how interested
you may be in a chat with a friend, you will see her bearing down upon
you, bringing in tow the one human being you have carefully avoided for
years.  Escape seems impossible, but as a forlorn hope you fling yourself
into conversation with your nearest neighbor, trying by your absorbed
manner to ward off the calamity.  In vain!  With a tap on your elbow your
smiling hostess introduces you and, having spoiled your afternoon, flits
off in search of other prey.

The question of introductions is one on which it is impossible to lay
down any fixed rules.  There must constantly occur situations where one's
acts must depend upon a kindly consideration for other people's feelings,
which after all, is only another name for tact.  Nothing so plainly shows
the breeding of a man or woman as skill in solving problems of this kind
without giving offence.

Foreigners, with their greater knowledge of the world, rarely fall into
the error of indiscriminate introducing, appreciating what a presentation
means and what obligations it entails.  The English fall into exactly the
contrary error from ours, and carry it to absurd lengths.  Starting with
the assumption that everybody knows everybody, and being aware of the
general dread of meeting "detrimentals," they avoid the difficulty by
making no introductions.  This may work well among themselves, but it is
trying to a stranger whom they have been good enough to ask to their
tables, to sit out the meal between two people who ignore his presence
and converse across him; for an Englishman will expire sooner than speak
to a person to whom he has not been introduced.

The French, with the marvellous tact that has for centuries made them the
law-givers on all subjects of etiquette and breeding, have another way of
avoiding useless introductions.  They assume that two people meeting in a
drawing-room belong to the same world and so chat pleasantly with those
around them.  On leaving the _salon_ the acquaintance is supposed to end,
and a gentleman who should at another time or place bow or speak to the
lady who had offered him a cup of tea and talked pleasantly to him over
it at a friend's reception, would commit a gross breach of etiquette.

I was once present at a large dinner given in Cologne to the American
Geographical Society.  No sooner was I seated than my two neighbors
turned towards me mentioning their names and waiting for me to do the
same.  After that the conversation flowed on as among friends.  This
custom struck me as exceedingly well-bred and calculated to make a
foreigner feel at his ease.

Among other curious types, there are people so constituted that they are
unhappy if a single person can be found in the room to whom they have not
been introduced.  It does not matter who the stranger may be or what
chance there is of finding him congenial.  They must be presented;
nothing else will content them.  If you are chatting with a friend you
feel a pull at your sleeve, and in an audible aside, they ask for an
introduction.  The aspirant will then bring up and present the members of
his family who happen to be near.  After that he seems to be at ease, and
having absolutely nothing to say will soon drift off.  Our public men
suffer terribly from promiscuous introductions; it is a part of a
political career; a good memory for names and faces and a cordial manner
under fire have often gone a long way in floating a statesman on to
success.

Demand, we are told, creates supply.  During a short stay in a Florida
hotel last winter, I noticed a curious little man who looked like a cross
between a waiter and a musician.  As he spoke to me several times and
seemed very officious, I asked who he was.  The answer was so grotesque
that I could not believe my ears.  I was told that he held the position
of official "introducer," or master of ceremonies, and that the guests
under his guidance became known to each other, danced, rode, and married
to their own and doubtless to his satisfaction.  The further west one
goes the more pronounced this mania becomes.  Everybody is introduced to
everybody on all imaginable occasions.  If a man asks you to take a
drink, he presents you to the bar-tender.  If he takes you for a drive,
the cab-driver is introduced.  "Boots" makes you acquainted with the
chambermaid, and the hotel proprietor unites you in the bonds of
friendship with the clerk at the desk.  Intercourse with one's fellows
becomes one long debauch of introduction.  In this country where every
liberty is respected, it is a curious fact that we should be denied the
most important of all rights, that of choosing our acquaintances.



No. 34--A Question and an Answer


   DEAR IDLER:

   I have been reading your articles in _The Evening Post_.  They are
   really most amusing!  You do know such a lot about people and things,
   that I am tempted to write and ask you a question on a subject that is
   puzzling me.  What is it that is necessary to succeed--socially?
   There!  It is out!  Please do not laugh at me.  Such funny people get
   on and such clever, agreeable ones fail, that I am all at sea.  Now do
   be nice and answer me, and you will have a very grateful

   ADMIRER.

The above note, in a rather juvenile feminine hand, and breathing a faint
perfume of _violette de Parme_, was part of the morning's mail that I
found lying on my desk a few days ago, in delightful contrast to the
bills and advertisements which formed the bulk of my correspondence.  It
would suppose a stoicism greater than I possess, not to have felt a
thrill of satisfaction in its perusal.  There was, then, some one who
read with pleasure what I wrote, and who had been moved to consult me on
a question (evidently to her) of importance.  I instantly decided to do
my best for the edification of my fair correspondent (for no doubt
entered my head that she was both young and fair), the more readily
because that very question had frequently presented itself to my own mind
on observing the very capricious choice of Dame "Fashion" in the
distribution of her favors.

That there are people who succeed brilliantly and move from success to
success, amid an applauding crowd of friends and admirers, while others,
apparently their superiors in every way, are distanced in the race, is an
undeniable fact.  You have but to glance around the circle of your
acquaintances and relations to be convinced of this anomaly.  To a
reflecting mind the question immediately presents itself, Why is this?
General society is certainly cultivated enough to appreciate intelligence
and superior endowments.  How then does it happen that the social
favorites are so often lacking in the qualities which at a first glance
would seem indispensable to success?

Before going any further let us stop a moment, and look at the subject
from another side, for it is more serious than appears to be on the
surface.  To be loved by those around us, to stand well in the world, is
certainly the most legitimate as well as the most common of ambitions, as
well as the incentive to most of the industry and perseverance in life.
Aside from science, which is sometimes followed for itself alone, and
virtue, which we are told looks for no other reward, the hope which
inspires a great deal of the persistent efforts we see, is generally that
of raising one's self and those one loves by one's efforts into a sphere
higher than where cruel fate had placed them; that they, too, may take
their place in the sunshine and enjoy the good things of life.  This
ambition is often purely disinterested; a life of hardest toil is
cheerfully borne, with the hope (for sole consolation) that dear ones
will profit later by all the work, and live in a circle the patient
toiler never dreams of entering.  Surely he is a stern moralist who would
deny this satisfaction to the breadwinner of a family.

There are doubtless many higher motives in life, more elevated goals
toward which struggling humanity should strive.  If you examine the
average mind, however, you will be pretty sure to find that success is
the touchstone by which we judge our fellows and what, in our hearts, we
admire the most.  That is not to be wondered at, either, for we have done
all we can to implant it there.  From a child's first opening thought, it
is impressed upon him that the great object of existence is to succeed.
Did a parent ever tell a child to try and stand last in his class?  And
yet humility is a virtue we admire in the abstract.  Are any of us
willing to step aside and see our inferiors pass us in the race?  That is
too much to ask of poor humanity.  Were other and higher standards to be
accepted, the structure of civilization as it exists to-day would crumble
away and the great machine run down.

In returning to my correspondent and her perfectly legitimate desire to
know the road to success, we must realize that to a large part of the
world social success is the only kind they understand.  The great
inventors and benefactors of mankind live too far away on a plane by
themselves to be the object of jealousy to any but a very small circle;
on the other hand, in these days of equality, especially in this country
where caste has never existed, the social world seems to hold out
alluring and tangible gifts to him who can enter its enchanted portals.
Even politics, to judge by the actions of some of our legislators, of
late, would seem to be only a stepping-stone to its door!

"But my question," I hear my fair interlocutor saying.  "You are not
answering it!"

All in good time, my dear.  I am just about to do so.  Did you ever hear
of Darwin and his theory of "selection?"  It would be a slight to your
intelligence not to take it for granted that you had.  Well, my
observations in the world lead me to believe that we follow there
unconsciously, the same rules that guide the wild beasts in the forest.
Certain individuals are endowed by nature with temperaments which make
them take naturally to a social life and shine there.  In it they find
their natural element.  They develop freely just where others shrivel up
and disappear.  There is continually going on unseen a "natural
selection," the discarding of unfit material, the assimilation of new and
congenial elements from outside, with the logical result of a survival of
the fittest.  Aside from this, you will find in "the world," as anywhere
else, that the person who succeeds is generally he who has been willing
to give the most of his strength and mind to that one object, and has not
allowed the flowers on the hillside to distract him from his path,
remembering also that genius is often but the "capacity for taking
infinite pains."

There are people so constituted that they cheerfully give the efforts of
a lifetime to the attainment of a brilliant social position.  No fatigue
is too great, and no snubs too bitter to be willingly undergone in
pursuit of the cherished object.  You will never find such an individual,
for instance, wandering in the flowery byways that lead to art or
letters, for that would waste his time.  If his family are too hard to
raise, he will abandon the attempt and rise without them, for he cannot
help himself.  He is but an atom working as blindly upward as the plant
that pushes its mysterious way towards the sun.  Brains are not
necessary.  Good looks are but a trump the more in the "hand."  Manners
may help, but are not essential.  The object can be and is attained daily
without all three.  Wealth is but the oil that makes the machinery run
more smoothly.  The all-important factor is the desire to succeed, so
strong that it makes any price seem cheap, and that can pay itself by a
step gained, for mortification and weariness and heart-burnings.

There, my dear, is the secret of success!  I stop because I feel myself
becoming bitter, and that is a frame of mind to be carefully avoided,
because it interferes with the digestion and upsets one's gentle calm!  I
have tried to answer your question.  The answer resolves itself into
these two things; that it is necessary to be born with qualities which
you may not possess, and calls for sacrifices you would doubtless be
unwilling to make.  It remains with you to decide if the little game is
worth the candle.  The delightful common sense I feel quite sure you
possess reassures me as to your answer.

Take gayly such good things as may float your way, and profit by them
while they last.  Wander off into all the cross-roads that tempt you.
Stop often to lend a helping hand to a less fortunate traveller.  Rest in
the heat of the day, as your spirit prompts you.  Sit down before the
sunset and revel in its beauty and you will find your voyage through life
much more satisfactory to look back to and full of far sweeter memories
than if by sacrificing any of these pleasures you had attained the
greatest of "positions."



No. 35--Living on your Friends


Thackeray devoted a chapter in "Vanity Fair" to the problem "How to Live
Well on Nothing a Year."  It was neither a very new nor a very ingenious
expedient that "Becky" resorted to when she discounted her husband's
position and connection to fleece the tradespeople and cheat an old
family servant out of a year's rent.  The author might more justly have
used his clever phrase in describing "Major Pendennis's" agreeable
existence.  We have made great progress in this, as in almost every other
mode of living, in the latter half of the Victorian era; intelligent
individuals of either sex, who know the ropes, can now as easily lead the
existence of a multi-millionaire (with as much satisfaction to themselves
and their friends) as though the bank account, with all its attendant
worries, stood in their own names.  This subject is so vast, its
ramifications so far-reaching and complicated, that one hesitates before
launching into an analysis of it.  It will be better simply to give a few
interesting examples, and a general rule or two, for the enlightenment
and guidance of ingenious souls.

Human nature changes little; all that our educational and social training
has accomplished is a smoothing of the surface.  One of the most striking
proofs of this is, that here in our primitive country, as soon as
accumulation of capital allowed certain families to live in great luxury,
they returned to the ways of older aristocracies, and, with other wants,
felt the necessity of a court about them, ladies and gentlemen in
waiting, pages and jesters.  Nature abhors a vacuum, so a class of people
immediately felt an irresistible impulse to rush in and fill the void.
Our aristocrats were not even obliged to send abroad to fill these
vacancies, as they were for their footmen and butlers; the native article
was quite ready and willing and, considering the little practice it could
have had, proved wonderfully adapted to the work.

When the mania for building immense country houses and yachts (the owning
of opera boxes goes a little further back) first attacked this country,
the builders imagined that, once completed, it would be the easiest, as
well as the most delightful task to fill them with the pick of their
friends, that they could get all the talented and agreeable people they
wanted by simply making a sign.  To their astonishment, they discovered
that what appeared so simple was a difficult, as well as a thankless
labor.  I remember asking a lady who had owned a "proscenium" at the old
Academy, why she had decided not to take a box in the (then) new opera-
house.

"Because, having passed thirty years of my life inviting people to sit in
my box, I intend now to rest."  It is very much the same thing with
yachts.  A couple who had determined to go around the world, in their
lately finished boat, were dumbfounded to find their invitations were not
eagerly accepted.  After exhausting the small list of people they really
wanted, they began with others indifferent to them, and even then filled
out their number with difficulty.  A hostess who counts on a series of
house parties through the autumn months, must begin early in the summer
if she is to have the guests she desires.

It is just here that the "professional," if I may be allowed to use such
an expression, comes to the front.  He is always available.  It is
indifferent to him if he starts on a tour around the world or for a
winter spree to Montreal.  He is always amusing, good-humored, and can be
counted on at the last moment to fill any vacant place, without being the
least offended at the tardy invitation, for he belongs to the class who
have discovered "how to live well on nothing a year."  Luxury is as the
breath of his nostrils, but his means allow of little beyond necessities.
The temptation must be great when everything that he appreciates most
(and cannot afford) is urged upon him.  We should not pose as too stern
moralists, and throw stones at him; for there may enter more "best French
plate" into the composition of our own houses than we imagine.

It is here our epoch shows its improvement over earlier and cruder days.
At present no toad-eating is connected with the acceptance of
hospitality, or, if occasionally a small "batrachian" is offered, it is
so well disguised by an accomplished _chef_, and served on such exquisite
old Dresden, that it slips down with very little effort.  Even this
rarely occurs, unless the guest has allowed himself to become the inmate
of a residence or yacht.  Then he takes his chance with other members of
the household, and if the host or hostess happens to have a bad temper as
a set-off to their good table, it is apt to fare ill with our friend.

So far, I have spoken of this class in the masculine, which is an error,
as the art is successfully practised by the weaker sex, with this shade
of difference.  As an unmarried woman is in less general demand, she is
apt to attach herself to one dear friend, always sure to be a lady in
possession of fine country and city houses and other appurtenances of
wealth, often of inferior social standing; so that there is give and
take, the guest rendering real service to an ambitious hostess.  The
feminine aspirant need not be handsome.  On the contrary, an agreeable
plainness is much more acceptable, serving as a foil.  But she must be
excellent in all games, from golf to piquet, and willing to play as often
and as long as required.  She must also cheerfully go in to dinner with
the blue ribbon bore of the evening, only asked on account of his pretty
wife (by the bye, why is it that Beauty is so often flanked by the
Beast?), and sit between him and the "second prize" bore.  These two
worthies would have been the portion of the hostess fifteen years ago;
she would have considered it her duty to absorb them and prevent her
other guests suffering.  _Mais nous avons change tout cela_.  The lady of
the house now thinks first of amusing herself, and arranges to sit
between two favorites.

Society has become much simpler, and especially less expensive, for
unmarried men than it used to be.  Even if a hostess asks a favor in
return for weeks of hospitality, the sacrifice she requires of a man is
rarely greater than a cotillion with an unattractive debutante whom she
is trying to launch; or the sitting through a particularly dull opera in
order to see her to the carriage, her lord and master having slipped off
early to his club and a quiet game of pool.  Many people who read these
lines are old enough to remember that prehistoric period when unmarried
girls went to the theatre and parties, alone with the men they knew.  This
custom still prevails in our irrepressible West.  It was an arrangement
by which all the expenses fell on the man--theatre tickets, carriages if
it rained, and often a bit of supper after.  If a youth asked a girl to
dance the cotillion, he was expected to send a bouquet, sure to cost
between twenty and twenty-five dollars.  What a blessed change for the
impecunious swell when all this went out of fashion!  New York is his
paradise now; in other parts of the world something is still expected of
him.  In France it takes the form of a handsome bag of bon-bons on New
Year's Day, if he has accepted hospitality during the past year.  While
here he need do absolutely nothing (unless he wishes to), the occasional
leaving of a card having been suppressed of late by our _jeunesse doree_,
five minutes of their society in an opera box being estimated (by them)
as ample return for a dinner or a week in a country house.

The truth of it is, there are so few men who "go out" (it being
practically impossible for any one working at a serious profession to sit
up night after night, even if he desired), and at the same time so many
women insist on entertaining to amuse themselves or better their
position, that the men who go about get spoiled and almost come to
consider the obligation conferred, when they dine out.  There is no more
amusing sight than poor paterfamilias sitting in the club between six and
seven P.M. pretending to read the evening paper, but really with his eve
on the door; he has been sent down by his wife to "get a man," as she is
one short for her dinner this evening.  He must be one who will fit in
well with the other guests; hence papa's anxious look, and the reason the
editorial gets so little of his attention!  Watch him as young
"professional" lounges in.  There is just his man--if he only happens to
be disengaged!  You will see "Pater" cross the room and shake hands,
then, after a few minutes' whispered conversation, he will walk down to
his coupe with such a relieved look on his face.  Young "professional,"
who is in faultless evening dress, will ring for a cocktail and take up
the discarded evening paper to pass the time till eight twenty-five.

Eight twenty-five, advisedly, for he will be the last to arrive, knowing,
clever dog, how much _eclat_ it gives one to have a room full of people
asking each other, "Whom are we waiting for?" when the door opens, and he
is announced.  He will stay a moment after the other guests have gone and
receive the most cordial pressures of the hand from a grateful hostess
(if not spoken words of thanks) in return for eating an exquisitely
cooked dinner, seated between two agreeable women, drinking
irreproachable wine, smoking a cigar, and washing the whole down with a
glass of 1830 brandy, or some priceless historic madeira.

There is probably a moral to be extracted from all this.  But frankly my
ethics are so mixed that I fail to see where the blame lies, and which is
the less worthy individual, the ostentatious axe-grinding host or the
interested guest.  One thing, however, I see clearly, viz., that life is
very agreeable to him who starts in with few prejudices, good manners, a
large amount of well-concealed "cheek" and the happy faculty of taking
things as they come.



No. 36--American Society in Italy


The phrase at the head of this chapter and other sentences, such as
"American Society in Paris," or London, are constantly on the lips of
people who should know better.  In reality these societies do not exist.
Does my reader pause, wondering if he can believe his eyes?  He has
doubtless heard all his life of these delightful circles, and believes in
them.  He may even have dined, _en passant_, at the "palace" of some
resident compatriot in Rome or Florence, under the impression that he was
within its mystic limits.  Illusion!  An effect of mirage, making that
which appears quite tangible and solid when viewed from a distance
dissolve into thin air as one approaches; like the mirage, cheating the
weary traveller with a vision of what he most longs for.

Forty, even fifty years ago, there lived in Rome a group of very
agreeable people; Story and the two Greenoughs and Crawford, the sculptor
(father of the brilliant novelist of to-day); Charlotte Cushman (who
divided her time between Rome and Newport), and her friend Miss Stebbins,
the sculptress, to whose hands we owe the bronze fountain on the Mall in
our Park; Rogers, then working at the bronze doors of our capitol, and
many other cultivated and agreeable people.  Hawthorne passed a couple of
winters among them, and the tone of that society is reflected in his
"Marble Faun."  He took Story as a model for his "Kenyon," and was the
first to note the exotic grace of an American girl in that strange
setting.  They formed as transcendental and unworldly a group as ever
gathered about a "tea" table.  Great things were expected of them and
their influence, but they disappointed the world, and, with the exception
of Hawthorne, are being fast forgotten.

Nothing could be simpler than life in the papal capital in those pleasant
days.  Money was rare, but living as delightfully inexpensive.  It was
about that time, if I do not mistake, that a list was published in New
York of the citizens worth one hundred thousand dollars; and it was not a
long one!  The Roman colony took "tea" informally with each other, and
"received" on stated evenings in their studios (when mulled claret and
cakes were the only refreshment offered; very bad they were, too), and
migrated in the summer to the mountains near Rome or to Sorrento.  In the
winter months their circle was enlarged by a contingent from home.  Among
wealthy New Yorkers, it was the fashion in the early fifties to pass a
winter in Rome, when, together with his other dissipations, paterfamilias
would sit to one of the American sculptors for his bust, which accounts
for the horrors one now runs across in dark corners of country
houses,--ghostly heads in "chin whiskers" and Roman draperies.

The son of one of these pioneers, more rich than cultivated, noticed the
other day, while visiting a friend of mine, an exquisite
eighteenth-century bust of Madame de Pompadour, the pride of his
hostess's drawing-room.  "Ah!" said Midas, "are busts the fashion again?
I have one of my father, done in Rome in 1850.  I will bring it down and
put it in my parlor."

The travellers consulted the residents in their purchases of copies of
the old masters, for there were fashions in these luxuries as in
everything else.  There was a run at that time on the "Madonna in the
Chair;" and "Beatrice Cenci" was long prime favorite.  Thousands of the
latter leering and winking over her everlasting shoulder, were solemnly
sent home each year.  No one ever dreamed of buying an original painting!
The tourists also developed a taste for large marble statues, "Nydia, the
Blind Girl of Pompeii" (people read Bulwer, Byron and the Bible then)
being in such demand that I knew one block in lower Fifth Avenue that
possessed seven blind Nydias, all life-size, in white marble,--a form of
decoration about as well adapted to those scanty front parlors as a steam
engine or a carriage and pair would have been.  I fear Bulwer's heroine
is at a discount now, and often wonder as I see those old residences
turning into shops, what has become of the seven white elephants and all
their brothers and sisters that our innocent parents brought so proudly
back from Italy!  I have succeeded in locating two statues evidently
imported at that time.  They grace the back steps of a rather shabby
villa in the country,--Demosthenes and Cicero, larger than life, dreary,
funereal memorials of the follies of our fathers.

The simple days we have been speaking of did not, however, outlast the
circle that inaugurated them.  About 1867 a few rich New Yorkers began
"trying to know the Italians" and go about with them.  One family, "up to
snuff" in more senses than one, married their daughter to the scion of a
princely house, and immediately a large number of her compatriots were
bitten with the madness of going into Italian society.

In 1870, Rome became the capital of united Italy.  The court removed
there.  The "improvements" began.  Whole quarters were remodelled, and
the dear old Rome of other days, the Rome of Hawthorne and Madame de
Stael, was swept away.  With this new state of things came a number of
Americo-Italian marriages more or less successful; and anything like an
American society, properly so-called, disappeared.  To-day families of
our compatriots passing the winter months in Rome are either tourists who
live in hotels, and see sights, or go (as far as they can) into Italian
society.

The Queen of Italy, who speaks excellent English, developed a _penchant_
for Americans, and has attached several who married Italians to her
person in different court capacities; indeed, the old "Black" society,
who have remained true to the Pope, when they wish to ridicule the new
"White" or royal circle, call it the "American court!"  The feeling is
bitter still between the "Blacks" and "Whites," and an American girl who
marries into one of these circles must make up her mind to see nothing of
friends or relatives in the opposition ranks.  It is said that an
amalgamation is being brought about, but it is slow work; a generation
will have to die out before much real mingling of the two courts will
take place.  As both these circles are poor, very little entertainment
goes on.  One sees a little life in the diplomatic world, and the King
and Queen give a ball or two during the winter, but since the repeated
defeats of the Italian arms in Africa, and the heavy financial
difficulties (things these sovereigns take very seriously to heart),
there has not been much "go" in the court entertainments.

The young set hope great things of the new Princess of Naples, the bride
of the heir-apparent, a lady who is credited with being full of fun and
life; it is fondly imagined that she will set the ball rolling again.  By
the bye, her first lady-in-waiting, the young Duchess del Monte of
Naples, was an American girl, and a very pretty one, too.  She enjoyed
for some time the enviable distinction of being the youngest and
handsomest duchess in Europe, until Miss Vanderbilt married Marlborough
and took the record from her.  The Prince and Princess of Naples live at
their Neapolitan capital, and will not do much to help things in Rome.
Besides which he is very delicate and passes for not being any too fond
of the world.

What makes things worse is that the great nobles are mostly "land poor,"
and even the richer ones burned their fingers in the craze for
speculation that turned all Rome upside down in the years following 1870
and Italian unity, when they naively imagined their new capital was to
become again after seventeen centuries the metropolis of the world.  Whole
quarters of new houses were run up for a population that failed to
appear; these houses now stand empty and are fast going to ruin.  So that
little in the way of entertaining is to be expected from the bankrupts.
They are a genial race, these Italian nobles, and welcome rich strangers
and marry them with much enthusiasm--just a shade too much, perhaps--the
girl counting for so little and her _dot_ for so much in the matrimonial
scale.  It is only necessary to keep open house to have the pick of the
younger ones as your guests.  They will come to entertainments at
American houses and bring all their relations, and dance, and dine, and
flirt with great good humor and persistency; but if there is not a good
solid fortune in the background, in the best of securities, the prettiest
American smiles never tempt them beyond flirtation; the season over, they
disappear up into their mountain villas to wait for a new importation
from the States.

In Rome, as well as in the other Italian cities, there are, of course,
still to be found Americans in some numbers (where on the Continent will
you not find them?), living quietly for study or economy.  But they are
not numerous or united enough to form a society; and are apt to be
involved in bitter strife among themselves.

Why, you ask, should Americans quarrel among themselves?

Some years ago I was passing the summer months on the Rhine at a tiny
German watering-place, principally frequented by English, who were all
living together in great peace and harmony, until one fatal day, when an
Earl appeared.  He was a poor Irish Earl, very simple and unoffending,
but he brought war into that town, heart-burnings, envy, and backbiting.
The English colony at once divided itself into two camps, those who knew
the Earl and those who did not.  And peace fled from our little society.
You will find in every foreign capital among the resident Americans, just
such a state of affairs as convulsed that German spa.  The native
"swells" have come to be the apple of discord that divides our good
people among themselves.  Those who have been successful in knowing the
foreigners avoid their compatriots and live with their new friends, while
the other group who, from laziness, disinclination, or principle (?) have
remained true to their American circle, cannot resist calling the others
snobs, and laughing (a bit enviously, perhaps) at their upward struggles.

It is the same in Florence.  The little there was left of an American
society went to pieces on that rock.  Our parents forty years ago seem to
me to have been much more self-respecting and sensible.  They knew
perfectly well that there was nothing in common between themselves and
the Italian nobility, and that those good people were not going to put
themselves out to make the acquaintance of a lot of strangers, mostly of
another religion, unless it was to be materially to their advantage.  So
they left them quietly alone.  I do not pretend to judge any one's
motives, but confess I cannot help regarding with suspicion a foreigner
who leaves his own circle to mingle with strangers.  It resembles too
closely the amiabilities of the wolf for the lamb, or the sudden
politeness of a school-boy to a little girl who has received a box of
candies.



No. 37--The Newport of the Past


Few of the "carriage ladies and gentlemen" who disport themselves in
Newport during the summer months, yachting and dancing through the short
season, then flitting away to fresh fields and pastures new, realize that
their daintily shod feet have been treading historic ground, or care to
cast a thought back to the past.  Oddly enough, to the majority of people
the past is a volume rarely opened.  Not that it bores them to read it,
but because they, like children, want some one to turn over its yellow
leaves and point out the pictures to them.  Few of the human motes that
dance in the rays of the afternoon sun as they slant across the little
Park, think of the fable which asserts that a sea-worn band of
adventurous men, centuries before the Cabots or the Genoese discoverer
thought of crossing the Atlantic, had pushed bravely out over untried
seas and landed on this rocky coast.  Yet one apparent evidence of their
stay tempts our thoughts back to the times when it is said to have been
built as a bower for a king's daughter.  Longfellow, in the swinging
verse of his "Skeleton in Armor," breathing of the sea and the Norseman's
fatal love, has thrown such a glamour of poetry around the tower, that
one would fain believe all he relates.  The hardy Norsemen, if they ever
came here, succumbed in their struggle with the native tribes, or,
discouraged by death and hardships, sailed away, leaving the clouds of
oblivion to close again darkly around this continent, and the fog of
discussion to circle around the "Old Mill."

The little settlement of another race, speaking another tongue, that
centuries later sprang up in the shadow of the tower, quickly grew into a
busy and prosperous city, which, like New York, its rival, was captured
and held by the English.  To walk now through some of its quaint, narrow
streets is to step back into Revolutionary days.  Hardly a house has
changed since the time when the red coats of the British officers
brightened the prim perspectives, and turned loyal young heads as they
passed.

At the corner of Spring and Pelham Streets, still stands the residence of
General Prescott, who was carried away prisoner by his opponents, they
having rowed down in whale-boats from Providence for the attack.
Rochambeau, our French ally, lodged lower down in Mary Street.  In the
tower of Trinity, one can read the epitaph of the unfortunate Chevalier
de Ternay, commander of the sea forces, whose body lies near by.  Many
years later his relative, the Duc de Noailles, when Minister to this
country, had this simple tablet repaired and made a visit to the spot.

A long period of prosperity followed the Revolution, during which Newport
grew and flourished.  Our pious and God-fearing "forbears," having
secured personal and religious liberty, proceeded to inaugurate a most
successful and remunerative trade in rum and slaves.  It was a triangular
transaction and yielded a three-fold profit.  The simple population of
that day, numbering less than ten thousand souls, possessed twenty
distilleries; finding it a physical impossibility to drink _all_ the rum,
they conceived the happy thought of sending the surplus across to the
coast of Africa, where it appears to have been much appreciated by the
native chiefs, who eagerly exchanged the pick of their loyal subjects for
that liquid.  These poor brutes were taken to the West Indies and
exchanged for sugar, laden with which, the vessels returned to Newport.

Having introduced the dusky chieftains to the charms of delirium tremens
and their subjects to life-long slavery, one can almost see these pious
deacons proceeding to church to offer up thanks for the return of their
successful vessels.  Alas! even "the best laid schemes of mice and men"
come to an end.  The War of 1812, the opening of the Erie Canal and
sundry railways struck a blow at Newport commerce, from which it never
recovered.  The city sank into oblivion, and for over thirty years not a
house was built there.

It was not until near 1840 that the Middletons and Izzards and other
wealthy and aristocratic Southern families were tempted to Newport by the
climate and the facilities it offered for bathing, shooting and boating.
A boarding-house or two sufficed for the modest wants of the new-comers,
first among which stood the Aquidneck, presided over by kind Mrs. Murray.
It was not until some years later, when New York and Boston families
began to appreciate the place, that the first hotels were built,--the
Atlantic on the square facing the old mill, the Bellevue and Fillmore on
Catherine Street, and finally the original Ocean House, destroyed by fire
in 1845 and rebuilt as we see it to-day.  The croakers of the epoch
considered it much too far out of town to be successful, for at its door
the open fields began, a gate there separating the town from the country
across which a straggling, half-made road, closed by innumerable gates,
led along the cliffs and out across what is now the Ocean Drive.  The
principal roads at that time led inland; any one wishing to drive seaward
had to descend every two or three minutes to open a gate.  The youth of
the day discovered a source of income in opening and closing these for
pennies.

Fashion had decreed that the correct hour for dancing was 11 A.M., and
_matinees dansantes_ were regularly given at the hotels, our grandmothers
appearing in _decollete_ muslin frocks adorned with broad sashes, and
disporting themselves gayly until the dinner hour.  Low-neck dresses were
the rule, not only for these informal entertainments, but as every-day
wear for young girls,--an old lady only the other day telling me she had
never worn a "high-body" until after her marriage.  Two o'clock found all
the beauties and beaux dining.  How incredulously they would have laughed
if any one had prophesied that their grandchildren would prefer eight
forty-five as a dinner hour!

The opening of Bellevue Avenue marked another epoch in the history of
Newport.  About that time Governor Lawrence bought the whole of Ochre
Point farm for fourteen thousand dollars, and Mr. de Rham built on the
newly opened road the first "cottage," which stands to-day modestly back
from the avenue opposite Perry Street.  If houses have souls, as
Hawthorne averred, and can remember and compare, what curious thoughts
must pass through the oaken brain of this simple construction as it sees
its marble neighbors rearing their vast facades among trees.  The trees,
too, are an innovation, for when the de Rham cottage was built and Mrs.
Cleveland opened her new house at the extreme end of Rough Point (the
second summer residence in the place) it is doubtful if a single tree
broke the rocky monotony of the landscape from the Ocean House to
Bateman's Point.

Governor Lawrence, having sold one acre of his Ochre Point farm to Mr.
Pendleton for the price he himself had paid for the whole, proceeded to
build a stone wall between the two properties down to the water's edge.
The population of Newport had been accustomed to take their Sunday
airings and moonlight rambles along "the cliffs," and viewed this
obstruction of their favorite walk with dismay.  So strong was their
feeling that when the wall was completed the young men of the town
repaired there in the night and tore it down.  It was rebuilt, the mortar
being mixed with broken glass.  This infuriated the people to such an
extent that the whole populace, in broad daylight, accompanied by the
summer visitors, destroyed the wall and threw the materials into the sea.
Lawrence, bent on maintaining what he considered his rights, called the
law to his aid.  It was then discovered that an immemorial riverain right
gave the fishermen and the public generally, access to the shore for
fishing, and also to collect seaweed,--a right of way that no one could
obstruct.

This was the beginning of the long struggle between the cliff-dwellers
and the townspeople; each new property-owner, disgusted at the idea that
all the world can stroll at will across his well-kept lawns, has in turn
tried his hand at suppressing the now famous "walk."  Not only do the
public claim the liberty to walk there, but also the right to cross any
property to get to the shore.  At this moment the city fathers and the
committee of the new buildings at Bailey's Beach are wrangling as gayly
as in Governor Lawrence's day over a bit of wall lately constructed
across the end of Bellevue Avenue.  A new expedient has been hit upon by
some of the would-be exclusive owners of the cliffs; they have lowered
the "walk" out of sight, thus insuring their own privacy and in no way
interfering with the rights of the public.

Among the gentlemen who settled in Newport about Governor Lawrence's time
was Lord Baltimore (Mr. Calvert, he preferred to call himself), who
remained there until his death.  He was shy of referring to his English
peerage, but would willingly talk of his descent through his mother from
Peter Paul Rubens, from whom had come down to him a chateau in Holland
and several splendid paintings.  The latter hung in the parlor of the
modest little dwelling, where I was taken to see them and their owner
many years ago.  My introducer on this occasion was herself a lady of no
ordinary birth, being the daughter of Stuart, our greatest portrait
painter.  I have passed many quiet hours in the quaint studio (the same
her father had used), hearing her prattle--as she loved to do if she
found a sympathetic listener--of her father, of Washington and his
pompous ways, and the many celebrities who had in turn posed before
Stuart's easel.  She had been her father's companion and aid, present at
the sittings, preparing his brushes and colors, and painting in
backgrounds and accessories; and would willingly show his palette and
explain his methods and theories of color, his predilection for
scrumbling shadows thinly in black and then painting boldly in with body
color.  Her lessons had not profited much to the gentle, kindly old lady,
for the productions of her own brush were far from resembling her great
parent's work.  She, however, painted cheerfully on to life's close,
surrounded by her many friends, foremost among whom was Charlotte
Cushman, who also passed the last years of her life in Newport.  Miss
Stuart was over eighty when I last saw her, still full of spirit and
vigor, beginning the portrait of a famous beauty of that day, since the
wife and mother of dukes.

Miss Stuart's death seems to close one of the chapters in the history of
this city, and to break the last connecting link with its past.  The
world moves so quickly that the simple days and modest amusements of our
fathers and grandfathers have already receded into misty remoteness.  We
look at their portraits and wonder vaguely at their graceless costumes.
We know they trod these same streets, and laughed and flirted and married
as we are doing to-day, but they seem to us strangely far away, like
inhabitants of another sphere!

It is humiliating to think how soon we, too, shall have become the
ancestors of a new and careless generation; fresh faces will replace our
faded ones, young voices will laugh as they look at our portraits hanging
in dark corners, wondering who we were, and (criticising the apparel we
think so artistic and appropriate) how we could ever have made such guys
of ourselves.



No. 38--A Conquest of Europe


The most important event in modern history is the discovery of Europe by
the Americans.  Before it, the peoples of the Old World lived happy and
contented in their own countries, practising the patriarchal virtues
handed down to them from generations of forebears, ignoring alike the
vices and benefits of modern civilization, as understood on this side of
the Atlantic.  The simple-minded Europeans remained at home, satisfied
with the rank in life where they had been born, and innocent of the ways
of the new world.

These peoples were, on the whole, not so much to be pitied, for they had
many pleasing crafts and arts unknown to the invaders, which had enabled
them to decorate their capitals with taste in a rude way; nothing really
great like the lofty buildings and elevated railway structures, executed
in American cities, but interesting as showing what an ingenious race,
deprived of the secrets of modern science, could accomplish.

The more aesthetic of the newcomers even affected to admire the
antiquated places of worship and residences they visited abroad, pointing
out to their compatriots that in many cases marble, bronze and other old-
fashioned materials had been so cleverly treated as to look almost like
the superior cast-iron employed at home, and that some of the old
paintings, preserved with veneration in the museums, had nearly the
brilliancy of modern chromos.  As their authors had, however, neglected
to use a process lending itself to rapid reproduction, they were of no
practical value.  In other ways, the continental races, when discovered,
were sadly behind the times.  In business, they ignored the use of
"corners," that backbone of American trade, and their ideas of
advertising were but little in advance of those known among the ancient
Greeks.

The discovery of Europe by the Americans was made about 1850, at which
date the first bands of adventurers crossed the seas in search of
amusement.  The reports these pioneers brought back of the _naivete_,
politeness, and gullibility of the natives, and the cheapness of
existence in their cities, caused a general exodus from the western to
the eastern hemisphere.  Most of the Americans who had used up their
credit at home and those whose incomes were insufficient for their wants,
immediately migrated to these happy hunting grounds, where life was
inexpensive and credit unlimited.

The first arrivals enjoyed for some twenty years unique opportunities.
They were able to live in splendor for a pittance that would barely have
kept them in necessaries on their own side of the Atlantic, and to pick
up valuable specimens of native handiwork for nominal sums.  In those
happy days, to belong to the invading race was a sufficient passport to
the good graces of the Europeans, who asked no other guarantees before
trading with the newcomers, but flocked around them, offering their
services and their primitive manufactures, convinced that Americans were
all wealthy.

Alas!  History ever repeats itself.  As Mexicans and Peruvians, after
receiving their conquerors with confidence and enthusiasm, came to rue
the day they had opened their arms to strangers, so the European peoples,
before a quarter of a century was over, realized that the hordes from
across the sea who were over-running their lands, raising prices,
crowding the native students out of the schools, and finally attempting
to force an entrance into society, had little to recommend them or
justify their presence except money.  Even in this some of the intruders
were unsatisfactory.  Those who had been received into the "bosom" of
hotels often forgot to settle before departing.  The continental women
who had provided the wives of discoverers with the raiment of the country
(a luxury greatly affected by those ladies) found, to their disgust, that
their new customers were often unable or unwilling to offer any
remuneration.

In consequence of these and many other disillusions, Americans began to
be called the "Destroyers," especially when it became known that nothing
was too heavy or too bulky to be carried away by the invaders, who tore
the insides from the native houses, the paintings from the walls, the
statues from the temples, and transported this booty across the seas,
much in the same way as the Romans had plundered Greece.  Elaborate
furniture seemed especially to attract the new arrivals, who acquired
vast quantities of it.

Here, however, the wily natives (who were beginning to appreciate their
own belongings) had revenge.  Immense quantities of worthless imitations
were secretly manufactured and sold to the travellers at fabulous prices.
The same artifice was used with paintings, said to be by great masters,
and with imitations of old stuffs and bric-a-brac, which the ignorant and
arrogant invaders pretended to appreciate and collect.

Previous to our arrival there had been an invasion of the Continent by
the English about the year 1812.  One of their historians, called
Thackeray, gives an amusing account of this in the opening chapters of
his "Shabby Genteel Story."  That event, however, was unimportant in
comparison with the great American movement, although both were
characterized by the same total disregard of the feelings and prejudices
of indigenous populations.  The English then walked about the continental
churches during divine service, gazing at the pictures and consulting
their guide-books as unconcernedly as our compatriots do to-day.  They
also crowded into theatres and concert halls, and afterwards wrote to the
newspapers complaining of the bad atmosphere of those primitive
establishments and of the long _entr'actes_.

As long as the invaders confined themselves to such trifles, the patient
foreigners submitted to their overbearing and uncouth ways because of the
supposed benefit to trade.  The natives even went so far as to build
hotels for the accommodation and delight of the invaders, abandoning
whole quarters to their guests.

There was, however, a point at which complacency stopped.  The older
civilizations had formed among themselves restricted and exclusive
societies, to which access was almost impossible to strangers.  These
sanctuaries tempted the immigrants, who offered their fairest virgins and
much treasure for the privilege of admission.  The indigenous
aristocrats, who were mostly poor, yielded to these offers and a few
Americans succeeded in forcing an entrance.  But the old nobility soon
became frightened at the number and vulgarity of the invaders, and
withdrew severely into their shells, refusing to accept any further
bribes either in the form of females or finance.

From this moment dates the humiliation of the discoverers.  All their
booty and plunder seemed worthless in comparison with the Elysian
delights they imagined were concealed behind the closed doors of those
holy places, visions of which tortured the women from the western
hemisphere and prevented their taking any pleasure in other victories.  To
be received into those inner circles became their chief ambition.  With
this end in view they dressed themselves in expensive costumes, took the
trouble to learn the "lingo" spoken in the country, went to the extremity
of copying the ways of the native women by painting their faces, and in
one or two cases imitated the laxity of their morals.

In spite of these concessions, our women were not received with
enthusiasm.  On the contrary, the very name of an American became a
byword and an abomination in every continental city.  This prejudice
against us abroad is hardly to be wondered at on reflecting what we have
done to acquire it.  The agents chosen by our government to treat
diplomatically with the conquered nations, owe their selection to
political motives rather than to their tact or fitness.  In the large
majority of cases men are sent over who know little either of the habits
or languages prevailing in Europe.

The worst elements always follow in the wake of discovery.  Our
settlements abroad gradually became the abode of the compromised, the
divorced, the socially and financially bankrupt.

Within the last decade we have found a way to revenge the slights put
upon us, especially those offered to Americans in the capital of Gaul.
Having for the moment no playwrights of our own, the men who concoct
dramas, comedies, and burlesques for our stage find, instead of wearying
themselves in trying to produce original matter, that it is much simpler
to adapt from French writers.  This has been carried to such a length
that entire French plays are now produced in New York signed by American
names.

The great French playwrights can protect themselves by taking out
American copyright, but if one of them omits this formality, the
"conquerors" immediately seize upon his work and translate it, omitting
intentionally all mention of the real author on their programmes.  This
season a play was produced of which the first act was taken from Guy de
Maupassant, the second and third "adapted" from Sardou, with episodes
introduced from other authors to brighten the mixture.  The piece thus
patched together is signed by a well-known Anglo-Saxon name, and accepted
by our moral public, although the original of the first act was stopped
by the Parisian police as too immoral for that gay capital.

Of what use would it be to "discover" a new continent unless the
explorers were to reap some such benefits?  Let us take every advantage
that our proud position gives us, plundering the foreign authors, making
penal settlements of their capitals, and ignoring their foolish customs
and prejudices when we travel among them!  In this way shall we
effectually impress on the inferior races across the Atlantic the
greatness of the American nation.



No. 39--A Race of Slaves


It is all very well for us to have invaded Europe, and awakened that
somnolent continent to the lights and delights of American ways; to have
beautified the cities of the old world with graceful trolleys and
illuminated the catacombs at Rome with electricity.  Every true American
must thrill with satisfaction at these achievements, and the knowledge
that he belongs to a dominating race, before which the waning
civilization of Europe must fade away and disappear.

To have discovered Europe and to rule as conquerors abroad is well, but
it is not enough, if we are led in chains at home.  It is recorded of a
certain ambitious captain whose "Commentaries" made our school-days a
burden, that "he preferred to be the first in a village rather than
second at Rome."  Oddly enough, _we_ are contented to be slaves in our
villages while we are conquerors in Rome.  Can it be that the struggles
of our ancestors for freedom were fought in vain?  Did they throw off the
yoke of kings, cross the Atlantic, found a new form of government on a
new continent, break with traditions, and sign a declaration of
independence, only that we should succumb, a century later, yielding the
fruits of their hard-fought battles with craven supineness into the hands
of corporations and municipalities; humbly bowing necks that refuse to
bend before anointed sovereigns, to the will of steamboat subordinates,
the insolence of be-diamonded hotel-clerks, and the captious conductor?

Last week my train from Washington arrived in Jersey City on time.  We
scurried (like good Americans) to the ferry-boat, hot and tired and
anxious to get to our destination; a hope deferred, however, for our boat
was kept waiting forty long minutes, because, forsooth, another train
from somewhere in the South was behind time.  Expostulations were in
vain.  Being only the paying public, we had no rights that those
autocrats, the officials, were bound to respect.  The argument that if
they knew the southern train to be so much behind, the ferry-boat would
have plenty of time to take us across and return, was of no avail, so,
like a cargo of "moo-cows" (as the children say), we submitted meekly.  In
order to make the time pass more pleasantly for the two hundred people
gathered on the boat, a dusky potentate judged the moment appropriate to
scrub the cabin floors.  So, aided by a couple of subordinates, he
proceeded to deluge the entire place in floods of water, obliging us to
sit with our feet tucked up under us, splashing the ladies' skirts and
our wraps and belongings.

Such treatment of the public would have raised a riot anywhere but in
this land of freedom.  Do you suppose any one murmured?  Not at all.  The
well-trained public had the air of being in church.  My neighbors
appeared astonished at my impatience, and informed me that they were
often detained in that way, as the company was short of boats, but they
hoped to have a new one in a year or two.  This detail did not prevent
that corporation advertising our train to arrive in New York at three-
thirteen, instead of which we landed at four o'clock.  If a similar
breach of contract had happened in England, a dozen letters would have
appeared in the "Times," and the grievance been well aired.

Another infliction to which all who travel in America are subjected is
the brushing atrocity.  Twenty minutes before a train arrives at its
destination, the despot who has taken no notice of any one up to this
moment, except to snub them, becomes suspiciously attentive and insists
on brushing everybody.  The dirt one traveller has been accumulating is
sent in clouds into the faces of his neighbors.  When he is polished off
and has paid his "quarter" of tribute, the next man gets up, and the dirt
is then brushed back on to number one, with number two's collection
added.

Labiche begins one of his plays with two servants at work in a salon.
"Dusting," says one of them, "is the art of sending the dirt from the
chair on the right over to the sofa on the left."  I always think of that
remark when I see the process performed in a parlor car, for when it is
over we are all exactly where we began.  If a man should shampoo his
hair, or have his boots cleaned in a salon, he would be ejected as a
boor; yet the idea apparently never enters the heads of those who soil
and choke their fellow-passengers that the brushing might be done in the
vestibule.

On the subject of fresh air and heat we are also in the hands of
officials, dozens of passengers being made to suffer for the caprices of
one of their number, or the taste of some captious invalid.  In other
lands the rights of minorities are often ignored.  With us it is the
contrary.  One sniffling school-girl who prefers a temperature of 80
degrees can force a car full of people to swelter in an atmosphere that
is death to them, because she refuses either to put on her wraps or to
have a window opened.

Street railways are torture-chambers where we slaves are made to suffer
in another way.  You must begin to reel and plunge towards the door at
least two blocks before your destination, so as to leap to the ground
when the car slows up; otherwise the conductor will be offended with you,
and carry you several squares too far, or with a jocose "Step lively,"
will grasp your elbow and shoot you out.  Any one who should sit quietly
in his place until the vehicle had come to a full stop, would be regarded
by the slave-driver and his cargo as a _poseur_ who was assuming airs.

The idea that cars and boats exist for the convenience of the public was
exploded long ago.  We are made, dozens of times a day, to feel that this
is no longer the case.  It is, on the contrary, brought vividly home to
us that such conveyances are money making machines in the possession of
powerful corporations (to whom we, in our debasement, have handed over
the freedom of our streets and rivers), and are run in the interest and
at the discretion of their owners.

It is not only before the great and the powerful that we bow in
submission.  The shop-girl is another tyrant who has planted her foot
firmly on the neck of the nation.  She respects neither sex nor age.
Ensconced behind the bulwark of her counter, she scorns to notice humble
aspirants until they have performed a preliminary penance; a time she
fills up in cheerful conversation addressed to other young tyrants, only
deciding to notice customers when she sees their last grain of patience
is exhausted.  She is often of a merry mood, and if anything about your
appearance or manner strikes her critical sense as amusing, will laugh
gayly with her companions at your expense.

A French gentleman who speaks our language correctly but with some
accent, told me that he found it impossible to get served in our stores,
the shop-girls bursting with laughter before he could make his wants
known.

Not long ago I was at the Compagnie Lyonnaise in Paris with a stout
American lady, who insisted on tipping her chair forward on its front
legs as she selected some laces.  Suddenly the chair flew from under her,
and she sat violently on the polished floor in an attitude so supremely
comic that the rest of her party were inwardly convulsed.  Not a muscle
moved in the faces of the well-trained clerks.  The proprietor assisted
her to rise as gravely as if he were bowing us to our carriage.

In restaurants American citizens are treated even worse than in the
shops.  You will see cowed customers who are anxious to get away to their
business or pleasure sitting mutely patient, until a waiter happens to
remember their orders.  I do not know a single establishment in this city
where the waiters take any notice of their customers' arrival, or where
the proprietor comes, toward the end of the meal, to inquire if the
dishes have been cooked to their taste.  The interest so general on the
Continent or in England is replaced here by the same air of being
disturbed from more important occupations, that characterizes the shop-
girl and elevator boy.

Numbers of our people live apparently in awe of their servants and the
opinion of the tradespeople.  One middle-aged lady whom I occasionally
take to the theatre, insists when we arrive at her door on my
accompanying her to the elevator, in order that the youth who presides
therein may see that she has an escort, the opinion of this subordinate
apparently being of supreme importance to her.  One of our "gilded
youths" recently told me of a thrilling adventure in which he had
figured.  At the moment he was passing under an awning on his way to a
reception, a gust of wind sent his hat gambolling down the block.  "Think
what a situation," he exclaimed.  "There stood a group of my friends'
footmen watching me.  But I was equal to the situation and entered the
house as if nothing had happened!"  Sir Walter Raleigh sacrificed a cloak
to please a queen.  This youth abandoned a new hat, fearing the laughter
of a half-dozen servants.

One of the reasons why we have become so weak in the presence of our paid
masters is that nowhere is the individual allowed to protest.  The other
night a friend who was with me at a theatre considered the acting
inferior, and expressed his opinion by hissing.  He was promptly ejected
by a policeman.  The man next me was, on the contrary, so pleased with
the piece that he encored every song.  I had paid to see the piece once,
and rebelled at being obliged to see it twice to suit my neighbor.  On
referring the matter to the box-office, the caliph in charge informed me
that the slaves he allowed to enter his establishment (like those who in
other days formed the court of Louis XIV.) were permitted to praise, but
were suppressed if they murmured dissent.  In his _Memoires_, Dumas,
_pere_, tells of a "first night" when three thousand people applauded a
play of his and one spectator hissed.  "He was the only one I respected,"
said Dumas, "for the piece was bad, and that criticism spurred me on to
improve it."

How can we hope for any improvement in the standard of our
entertainments, the manners of our servants or the ways of corporations
when no one complains?  We are too much in a hurry to follow up a
grievance and have it righted.  "It doesn't pay," "I haven't got the
time," are phrases with which all such subjects are dismissed.  We will
sit in over-heated cars, eat vilely cooked food, put up with insolence
from subordinates, because it is too much trouble to assert our rights.
Is the spirit that prompted the first shots on Lexington Common becoming
extinct?  Have the floods of emigration so diluted our Anglo-Saxon blood
that we no longer care to fight for liberty?  Will no patriot arise and
lead a revolt against our tyrants?

I am prepared to follow such a leader, and have already marked my prey.
First, I will slay a certain miscreant who sits at the receipt of customs
in the box-office of an up-town theatre.  For years I have tried to
propitiate that satrap with modest politeness and feeble little jokes.  He
has never been softened by either, but continues to "chuck" the worst
places out to me (no matter how early I arrive, the best have always been
given to the speculators), and to frown down my attempts at
self-assertion.

When I have seen this enemy at my feet, I shall start down town (stopping
on the way to brain the teller at my bank, who is perennially paring his
nails, and refuses to see me until that operation is performed), to the
office of a night-boat line, where the clerk has so often forced me, with
hundreds of other weary victims, to stand in line like convicts, while he
chats with a "lady friend," his back turned to us and his leg comfortably
thrown over the arm of his chair.  Then I will take my blood-stained
way--but, no!  It is better not to put my victims on their guard, but to
abide my time in silence!  Courage, fellow-slaves, our day will come!



Chapter 40--Introspection {276}


The close of a year must bring even to the careless and the least
inclined toward self-inspection, an hour of thoughtfulness, a desire to
glance back across the past, and set one's mental house in order, before
starting out on another stage of the journey for that none too distant
bourne toward which we all are moving.

Our minds are like solitary dwellers in a vast residence, whom habit has
accustomed to live in a few only of the countless chambers around them.
We have collected from other parts of our lives mental furniture and bric-
a-brac that time and association have endeared to us, have installed
these meagre belongings convenient to our hand, and contrived an entrance
giving facile access to our living-rooms, avoiding the effort of a long
detour through the echoing corridors and disused salons behind.  No
acquaintances, and but few friends, penetrate into the private chambers
of our thoughts.  We set aside a common room for the reception of
visitors, making it as cheerful as circumstances will allow and take care
that the conversation therein rarely turns on any subject more personal
than the view from the windows or the prophecies of the barometer.

In the old-fashioned brick palace at Kensington, a little suite of rooms
is carefully guarded from the public gaze, swept, garnished and tended as
though the occupants of long ago were hourly expected to return.  The
early years of England's aged sovereign were passed in these simple
apartments and by her orders they have been kept unchanged, the furniture
and decorations remaining to-day as when she inhabited them.  In one
corner, is assembled a group of dolls, dressed in the quaint finery of
1825.  A set of miniature cooking utensils stands near by.  A child's
scrap-books and color-boxes lie on the tables.  In one sunny chamber
stands the little white-draped bed where the heiress to the greatest
crown on earth dreamed her childish dreams, and from which she was
hastily aroused one June morning to be saluted as Queen.  So homelike and
livable an air pervades the place, that one almost expects to see the
lonely little girl of seventy years ago playing about the unpretending
chambers.

Affection for the past and a reverence for the memory of the dead have
caused the royal wife and mother to preserve with the same care souvenirs
of her passage in other royal residences.  The apartments that sheltered
the first happy months of her wedded life, the rooms where she knew the
joys and anxieties of maternity, have become for her consecrated
sanctuaries, where the widowed, broken old lady comes on certain
anniversaries to evoke the unforgotten past, to meditate and to pray.

Who, as the year is drawing to its close, does not open in memory some
such sacred portal, and sit down in the familiar rooms to live over again
the old hopes and fears, thrilling anew with the joys and temptations of
other days?  Yet, each year these pilgrimages into the past must become
more and more lonely journeys; the friends whom we can take by the hand
and lead back to our old homes become fewer with each decade.  It would
be a useless sacrilege to force some listless acquaintance to accompany
us.  He would not hear the voices that call to us, or see the loved faces
that people the silent passages, and would wonder what attraction we
could find in the stuffy, old-fashioned quarters.

Many people have such a dislike for any mental privacy that they pass
their lives in public, or surrounded only by sporting trophies and games.
Some enjoy living in their pantries, composing for themselves succulent
dishes, and interested in the doings of the servants, their companions.
Others have turned their salons into nurseries, or feel a predilection
for the stable and the dog-kennels.  Such people soon weary of their
surroundings, and move constantly, destroying, when they leave old
quarters, all the objects they had collected.

The men and women who have thus curtailed their belongings are, however,
quite contented with themselves.  No doubts ever harass them as to the
commodity or appropriateness of their lodgements and look with pity and
contempt on friends who remain faithful to old habitations.  The drawback
to a migratory existence, however, is the fact that, as a French saying
has put it, _Ceux qui se refusent les pensees serieuses tombent dans les
idees noires_.  These people are surprised to find as the years go by
that the futile amusements to which they have devoted themselves do not
fill to their satisfaction all the hours of a lifetime.  Having provided
no books nor learned to practise any art, the time hangs heavily on their
hands.  They dare not look forward into the future, so blank and
cheerless does it appear.  The past is even more distasteful to them.  So,
to fill the void in their hearts, they hurry out into the crowd as a
refuge from their own thoughts.

Happy those who care to revisit old abodes, childhood's remote wing, and
the moonlit porches where they knew the rapture of a first-love whisper.
Who can enter the chapel where their dead lie, and feel no blush of self-
reproach, nor burning consciousness of broken faith nor wasted
opportunities?  The new year will bring to them as near an approach to
perfect happiness as can be attained in life's journey.  The fortunate
mortals are rare who can, without a heartache or regret, pass through
their disused and abandoned dwellings; who dare to open every door and
enter all the silent rooms; who do not hurry shudderingly by some obscure
corners, and return with a sigh of relief to the cheerful sunlight and
murmurs of the present.

Sleepless midnight hours come inevitably to each of us, when the creaking
gates of subterranean passages far down in our consciousness open of
themselves, and ghostly inhabitants steal out of awful vaults and force
us to look again into their faces and touch their unhealed wounds.

An old lady whose cheerfulness under a hundred griefs and tribulations
was a marvel and an example, once told a man who had come to her for
counsel in a moment of bitter trouble, that she had derived comfort when
difficulties loomed big around her by writing down all her cares and
worries, making a list of the subjects that harassed her, and had always
found that, when reduced to material written words, the dimensions of her
troubles were astonishingly diminished.  She recommended her procedure to
the troubled youth, and prophesied that his anxieties would dwindle away
in the clear atmosphere of pen and paper.

Introspection, the deliberate unlatching of closed wickets, has the same
effect of stealing away the bitterness from thoughts that, if left in the
gloom of semi-oblivion, will grow until they overshadow a whole life.  It
is better to follow the example of England's pure Queen, visiting on
certain anniversaries our secret places and holding communion with the
past, for it is by such scrutiny only

   _That men may rise on stepping-stones_
   _Of their dead selves to higher things_.

Those who have courage to perform thoroughly this task will come out from
the silent chambers purified and chastened, more lenient to the faults
and shortcomings of others, and better fitted to take up cheerfully the
burdens of a new year.



Footnotes:


{276}  December thirty-first, 1888.





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