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Title: The American Credo - A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind
Author: Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956, Nathan, George Jean, 1882-1958
Language: English
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A Contribution Toward the Interpretation
of the National Mind




       *       *       *       *       *



  _BY H. L. MENCKEN_                       _BY GEORGE JEAN NATHAN_






       *       *       *       *       *



The superficial, no doubt, will mistake this little book for a somewhat
laborious attempt at jocosity. Because, incidentally to its main
purpose, it unveils occasional ideas of so inordinate an erroneousness
that they verge upon the ludicrous, it will be set down a piece of
spoofing, and perhaps denounced as in bad taste. But all the while that
main purpose will remain clear enough to the judicious. It is, in brief,
the purpose of clarifying the current exchange of rhetorical gas bombs
upon the subject of American ideals and the American character, so
copious, so cocksure and withal so ill-informed and inconclusive, by
putting into plain propositions some of the notions that lie at the
heart of those ideals and enter into the very substance of that
character. "For as he thinketh in his heart," said Solomon, "so _is_
he." It is a saying, obviously, that one may easily fill with fantastic
meanings, as the prevailing gabble of the mental healers, New
Thoughters, efficiency engineers, professors of scientific salesmanship
and other such mountebanks demonstrates, but nevertheless it is one
grounded, at bottom, upon an indubitable fact. Deep down in every man
there is a body of congenital attitudes, a corpus of ineradicable
doctrines and ways of thinking, that determines his reactions to his
ideational environment as surely as his physical activity is determined
by the length of his _tibiæ_ and the capacity of his lungs. These
primary attitudes, in fact, constitute the essential man. It is by
recognition of them that one arrives at an accurate understanding of his
place and function as a member of human society; it is by a shrewd
reckoning and balancing of them, one against another, that one forecasts
his probable behaviour in the face of unaccustomed stimuli.

All the arts and sciences that have to do with the management of men in
the mass are founded upon a proficient practice of that sort of
reckoning. The practical politician, as every connoisseur of ochlocracy
knows, is not a man who seeks to inoculate the innumerable caravan of
voters with new ideas; he is a man who seeks to search out and prick
into energy the basic ideas that are already in them, and to turn the
resultant effervescence of emotion to his own uses. And so with the
religious teacher, the social and economic reformer, and every other
variety of popular educator, down to and including the humblest
press-agent of a fifth assistant Secretary of State, moving-picture
actor, or Y.M.C.A. boob-squeezing committee. Such adept professors of
conviction and enthusiasm, in the true sense, never actually teach
anything new; all they do is to give new forms to beliefs already in
being, to arrange the bits of glass, onyx, horn, ivory, porphyry and
corundum in the mental kaleidoscope of the populace into novel
permutations. To change the figure, they may give the medulla oblongata,
the cerebral organ of the great masses of simple men, a powerful
diuretic or emetic, but they seldom, if ever, add anything to its
primary supply of fats, proteids and carbohydrates.

One speaks of the great masses of simple men, and it is of them, of
course, that the ensuing treatise chiefly has to say. The higher and
more delicately organized tribes and sects of men are susceptible to no
such ready anatomizing, for the body of beliefs upon which their
ratiocination grounds itself is not fixed but changing, and not artless
and crystal-clear but excessively complex and obscure. It is, indeed,
the chief mark of a man emerged from the general that he has lost most
of his original certainties, and is full of a scepticism which plays
like a spray of acid upon all the ideas that come within his purview,
including especially his own. One does not become surer as one advances
in knowledge, but less sure. No article of faith is proof against the
disintegrating effects of increasing information; one might almost
describe the acquirement of knowledge as a process of disillusion. But
among the humbler ranks of men who make up the great bulk of every
civilized people the increase of information is so slow and so arduous
that this effect is scarcely to be discerned. If, in the course of long
years, they gradually lose their old faiths, it is only to fill the gaps
with new faiths that restate the old ones in new terms. Nothing, in
fact, could be more commonplace than the observation that the crazes
which periodically ravage the proletariat today are, in the main, no
more than distorted echoes of delusions cherished centuries ago. The
fundamental religious ideas of the lower orders of Christendom have not
changed materially in two thousand years, and they were old when they
were first borrowed from the heathen of northern Africa and Asia Minor.
The Iowa Methodist of today, imagining him competent to understand them
at all, would be able to accept the tenets of Augustine without changing
more than a few accents and punctuation marks. Every Sunday his raucous
ecclesiastics batter his ears with diluted and debased filches from _De
Civitate Dei_, and almost every article of his practical ethics may be
found clearly stated in the eminent bishop's Ninety-third Epistle. And
so in politics. The Bolsheviki of the present not only poll-parrot the
balderdash of the French demagogues of 1789; they also mouth what was
gospel to every _bête blonde_ in the Teutonic forest of the fifth
century. Truth shifts and changes like a cataract of diamonds; its
aspect is never precisely the same at two successive instants. But error
flows down the channel of history like some great stream of lava or
infinitely lethargic glacier. It is the one relatively fixed thing in a
world of chaos. It is, perhaps, the one thing that gives human society
the small stability that it needs, amid all the oscillation of a
gelatinous cosmos, to save it from the wreck that ever menaces. Without
their dreams men would have fallen upon and devoured one another long
ago--and yet every dream is an illusion, and every illusion is a lie.

Nevertheless, this immutability of popular ideas is not quite perfect.
The main current, no doubt, goes on unbrokenly, but there are many
eddies along the edges and many small tempests on the surface. Thus the
aspect changes, if not the substance. What men believe in one century is
apparently abandoned in some other century, and perhaps supplanted by
something quite to the contrary. Or, at all events, to the contrary in
appearance. Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to
freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom
hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another
cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is
something fundamental and permanent--the basic delusion that men may be
governed and yet be free. It is only on the surface that there are
transformations--and these we must study and make the most of, for of
what is underneath men are mainly unconscious. The thing that colours
the upper levels is largely the instinctive functioning of race and
nationality, the ineradicable rivalry of tribe and tribe, the primary
struggle for existence. At bottom, no doubt, the plain men of the whole
world are almost indistinguishably alike; a learned anthropologist,
Prof. Dr. Boas, has written a book to prove it. But, collected into
herds, they gather delusions that are special to herds. Beside the
underlying mass thinking there is a superimposed group thinking--a sort
of unintelligent class consciousness. This we may prod into. This, in
the case of the _Homo americanus_, is what is prodded into in the
present work. We perform, it seems to us, a useful pioneering.
Incomplete though our data may be, it is at least grounded upon a
resolute avoidance of _a priori_ methods, an absolutely open-minded
effort to get at the facts. We pounce upon them as they bob up,
convinced that even the most inconsiderable of them may have its
profound significance--that the essential may be hidden in the trivial.
All we aim at is a first marshalling of materials, an initial running of
lines. We are not architects, but furnishers of bricks, nails and laths.
But it is our hope that what we thus rake up and pile into a rough heap
may yet serve the purposes of an organizer, and so help toward the
establishment of the dim and vacillating truth, and rid the scene of, at
all events, the worst and most obvious of its present accumulation of


In the case of the American of the multitude that accumulation of errors
is of astounding bulk and consequence. His ideas are not only grossly
misapprehended by all foreigners; they are often misapprehended by his
own countrymen of superior education, and even by himself.

This last, at first blush, may seem a mere effort at paradox, but
its literal truth becomes patent on brief inspection. Ask the
average American what is the salient passion in his emotional
armamentarium--what is the idea that lies at the bottom of all his other
ideas--and it is very probable that, nine times out of ten, he will
nominate his hot and unquenchable rage for liberty. He regards himself,
indeed, as the chief exponent of liberty in the whole world, and all its
other advocates as no more than his followers, half timorous and half
envious. To question his ardour is to insult him as grievously as if one
questioned the honour of the republic or the chastity of his wife. And
yet it must be plain to any dispassionate observer that this ardour, in
the course of a century and a half, has lost a large part of its old
burning reality and descended to the estate of a mere phosphorescent
superstition. The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less
personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his
political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain
theories of government are virtuous and lawful and others abhorrent and
felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year
by year: it is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything
describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought,
without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would
surprise no impartial observer if the motto, _In God we trust_, were one
day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at
Washington, and the far more appropriate word, _Verboten_, substituted.
Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time,
the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room
for a bas relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet.

Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of
freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so
accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute
regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers
and _agents provocateurs_ that he no longer makes any serious protest.
It is surely a significant fact that, in the face of the late almost
incredible proceedings under the so-called Espionage Act and other such
laws, the only objections heard of came either from the persons directly
affected--nine-tenths of them Socialists, pacifists, or citizens accused
of German sympathies, and hence without any rights whatever in American
law and equity--or from a small group of professional libertarians,
chiefly naturalized aliens. The American people, as a people, acquiesced
docilely in all these tyrannies, both during the war and after the war,
just as they acquiesced in the invasion of their common rights by the
Prohibition Amendment. Worse, they not only acquiesced docilely; they
approved actively; they were quite as hotly against the few protestants
as they were against the original victims, and gave their hearty
approbation to every proposal that the former be punished too. The
really startling phenomenon of the war, indeed, was not the grotesque
abolition of liberty in the name of liberty, but the failure of that
usurpation to arouse anything approaching public indignation. It is
impossible to imagine the men of Jackson's army or even of Grant's army
submitting to any such absolutism without a furious struggle, but in
these latter days it is viewed with the utmost complacency. The
descendants of the Americans who punished John Adams so melodramatically
for the Alien and Seditions Acts of 1789 failed to raise a voice against
the far more drastic legislation of 1917. What is more, they failed to
raise a voice against its execution upon the innocent as well as upon
the guilty, in gross violation of the most elemental principles of
justice and rules of law.

Thus the Americano, put to the test, gave the lie to what is probably
his proudest boast, and revealed the chronic human incapacity for
accurate self-analysis. But if he thereby misjudged and misjudges
himself, he may find some consolation for his error in the lavishness
with which even worse misjudgment is heaped upon him by foreigners. To
this day, despite the intimate contact of five long years of joint war,
the French and the English are ignorant of his true character, and show
it in their every discussion of him, particularly when they discuss him
in camera. It is the secret but general view of the French, we are
informed by confidential agents, that he is a fellow of loose life and
not to be trusted with either a wine-pot, a virgin or a domestic
fowl--an absurdly inaccurate generalization from the aberrations of
soldiers in a far land, cut off from the moral repressions that lie upon
them and colour all their acts at home. It is the view of the English,
so we hear upon equally reliable authority, that he is an earnest but
extremely inefficient oaf, incapable of either the finer technic of war
or of its machine-like discipline--another thumping error, for the
American is actually extraordinarily adept and ingenious in the very
arts that modern war chiefly makes use of, and there is, since the
revolt of the Prussian, no other such rigidly regimented man in the
world. He has, indeed, reached such a pass in the latter department that
it has become almost impossible for him to think of himself save as an
obedient member of some vast, powerful and unintelligibly despotic
organization--a church, a trades-union, a political party, a tin-pot
fraternal order, or what not--, and often he is a member of more than
one, and impartially faithful to all. Moreover, as we have seen, he
lives under laws which dictate almost every detail of his public and
private conduct, and punish every sign of bad discipline with the most
appalling rigour; and these laws are enforced by police who supply the
chance gaps in them extempore, and exercise that authority in the best
manner of prison guards, animal trainers and drill sergeants.

The English and the French, beside these special errors, have a full
share in an error that is also embraced by practically every other
foreign people. This is the error of assuming, almost as an axiom beyond
question, that the Americans are a sordid, money-grubbing people, with
no thought above the dollar. You will find it prevailing everywhere on
the Continent of Europe. To the German the United States is Dollarica,
and the salient American personality, next to the policeman who takes
bribes and the snuffling moralist in office, is the Dollarprinzessin. To
the Italian the country is a sort of savage wilderness in which
everything else, from religion to beauty and from decent repose to
human life, is sacrificed to profit. Italians cross the ocean in much
the same spirit that our runaway school-boys used to go off to fight the
Indians. Some, lucky, return home in a few years with fortunes and gaudy
tales; others, succumbing to the natives, are butchered at their labour
and buried beneath the cinders of hideous and God-forsaken mining towns.
All carry the thought of escape from beginning to end; every Italian
hopes to get away with his takings as soon as possible, to enjoy them on
some hillside where life and property are reasonably safe from greed. So
with the Russian, the Scandinavian, the Balkan hillman, even the Greek
and Armenian. The picture of America that they conjure up is a picture
of a titanic and merciless struggle for gold, with the stakes high and
the contestants correspondingly ferocious. They see the American as one
to whom nothing under the sun has any value save the dollar--not truth,
or beauty, or philosophical ease, or the common decencies between man
and man.

This view, of course, is full of distortion and misunderstanding,
despite the fact that even Americans, by hearing it stated so often,
have come to allow it a good deal of soundness. The American's concept
of himself, as we have seen, is sometimes anything but accurate; in this
case he errs almost as greatly as when he venerates himself as the
prince of freemen, with gyveless wrists and flashing eyes. As for the
foreigner, what he falls into is the typically Freudian blunder of
projecting his own worst weakness into another. The fact is that it is
he, and not the native American, who is the incorrigible and
unimaginative money-grubber. He comes to the United States in search of
money, and in search of money alone, and pursuing that single purpose
without deviation he makes the mistake of assuming that the American is
at the same business, and in the same fanatical manner. From all the
complex and colourful life of the country, save only the one enterprise
of money-making, he is shut off almost hermetically, and so he concludes
that that one enterprise embraces the whole show. Here the unreliable
promptings of his sub-conscious passion are helped out by observations
that are more logical. Unfamiliar with the language, excluded from all
free social intercourse with the native, and regarded as, if actually
human at all, then at least a distinctly inferior member of the species,
he is forced into the harshest and most ill-paid labour, and so he
inevitably sees the American as a pitiless task-master and ascribes the
exploitation he is made a victim of to a fabulous exaggeration of his
own avarice.

Moreover, the greater success and higher position of the native seem to
bear out this notion. In a struggle that is free for all and to the
death, the native grabs all the shiniest stakes. _Ergo_, he must love
money even more than the immigrant. This logic we do not defend, but
there is--and out of it grows the prevailing foreign view of America and
the Americans, for the foreigner who stays at home does not derive his
ideas from the glittering, lascivious phrases of Dr. Wilson or from the
passionate idealism of such superior Americans as Otto H. Kahn, Adolph
S. Ochs, S. Stanwood Menken, Jacob H. Schiff, Marcus Loew, Henry
Morgenthau, Abram Elkus, Samuel Goldfish, Louis D. Brandeis, Julius
Rosenwald, Paul Warburg, Judge Otto Rosalsky, Adolph Zukor, the Hon.
Julius Kahn, Simon Guggenheim, Stephen S. Wise and Barney Baruch, but
from the hair-raising tales of returned "Americans," _i.e._, fellow
peasants who, having braved the dragons, have come back to the
fatherland to enjoy their booty and exhibit their wounds.

The native, as we say, has been so far influenced by this error that he
cherishes it himself, or, more accurately, entertains it with shame.
Most of his windy idealism is no more than a reaction against it--an
evidence of an effort to confute it and live it down. He is never more
sweetly flattered than when some politician eager for votes or some
evangelist itching for a good plate tells him that he is actually a
soaring altruist, and the only real one in the world. This is the surest
way to fetch him; he never fails to swell out his chest when he hears
that buncombe. In point of fact, of course, he is no more an altruist
than any other healthy mammal. His ideals, one and all, are grounded
upon self-interest, or upon the fear that is at the bottom of it; his
benevolence always has a string tied to it; he could no more formulate a
course of action to his certain disadvantage than an Englishman could,
or a Frenchman, or an Italian, or a German. But to say that the
advantage he pursues is always, or even usually, a monetary one--to
argue that he is avaricious, or even, in these later years, a sharp
trader--is to spit directly into the eye of the truth. There is
probably, indeed, no country in the world in which mere money is held
in less esteem than in these United States. Even more than the Russian
Bolshevik the American democrat regards wealth with suspicion, and its
too eager amassment with a bilious eye. Here alone, west of the Dvina,
rich men are _ipso facto_ scoundrels and _feræ naturæ_, with no rights
that any slanderer is bound to respect. Here alone, the possession of a
fortune puts a man automatically upon the defensive, and exposes him to
special legislation of a rough and inquisitorial character and to the
special animosity of judges, district attorneys and juries. It would be
a literal impossibility for an Englishman worth $100,000,000 to avoid
public office and public honour; it would be equally impossible for an
American worth $100,000,000 to obtain either.

Americans, true enough, enjoy an average of prosperity that is above
that witnessed in any other country. Their land, with less labour,
yields a greater usufruct than other land; they get more money for their
industry; they jingle more coin in their pockets than other peoples. But
it is a grievous error to mistake that superior opulence for a sign of
money-hunger, for they actually hold money very lightly, and spend a
great deal more of it than any other race of men and with far less
thought of values. The normal French family, it is often said, could
live very comfortably for a week upon what the normal American family
wastes in a week. There is, among Americans, not the slightest sign of
the unanimous French habit of biting every franc, of calculating the
cost of every luxury to five places of decimals, of utilizing every
scrap, of sleeping with the bankbook under the pillow. Whatever is showy
gets their dollars, whether they need it or not, even whether they can
afford it or not. They are, so to speak, constantly on a bust, their
eyes alert for chances to get rid of their small change.

Consider, for example, the amazing readiness with which they succumb to
the imbecile bait of advertising! An American manufacturer, finding
himself with a stock of unsalable goods or encountering otherwise a
demand that is less than his production, does not have to look, like his
English or German colleague, for foreign dumping grounds. He simply
packs his surplus in gaudy packages, sends for an advertising agent,
joins an Honest-Advertising club, fills the newspapers and magazines
with lying advertisements, and sits down in peace while his countrymen
fight their way to his counters. That they will come is almost
absolutely sure; no matter how valueless the goods, they will leap to
the advertisements; their one desire seems to be to get rid of their
money. As a consequence of this almost pathological eagerness, the
advertising bill of the American people is greater than that of all
other peoples taken together. There is scarcely an article within the
range of their desires that does not carry a heavy load of advertising;
they actually pay out millions every year to be sold such commonplace
necessities as sugar, towels, collars, lead-pencils and corn-meal. The
business of thus bamboozling them and picking their pockets enlists
thousands and thousands of artists, writers, printers, sign-painters and
other such parasites. Their towns are bedaubed with chromatic eye-sores
and made hideous with flashing lights; their countryside is polluted;
their newspapers and magazines become mere advertising sheets; idiotic
slogans and apothegms are invented to enchant them; in some cities they
are actually taxed to advertise the local makers of wooden nutmegs.
Multitudes of swindlers are naturally induced to adopt advertising as a
trade, and some of them make great fortunes at it. Like all other men
who live by their wits, they regard themselves as superior fellows, and
every year they hold great conventions, bore each other with learned
papers upon the psychology of their victims, speak of one another as men
of genius, have themselves photographed by the photographers of
newspapers eager to curry favour with them, denounce the government for
not spending the public funds for advertising, and summon United States
Senators, eminent chautauquans and distinguished vaudeville stars to
entertain them. For all this the plain people pay the bill, and never a
protest comes out of them.

As a matter of fact, the only genuinely thrifty folks among us, in the
sense that a Frenchman, a Scot or an Italian is thrifty, are the
immigrants of the most recent invasions. That is why they oust the
native wherever the two come into contact--say in New England and in the
Middle West. They acquire, bit by bit, the best lands, the best stock,
the best barns, not because they have the secret of _making_ more money,
but because they have the resolution to _spend_ less. As soon as they
become thoroughly Americanized they begin to show the national
prodigality. The old folks wear home-made clothes and stick to the
farm; the native-born children order their garments from mail-order
tailors and expose themselves in the chautauquas and at the great orgies
of Calvinism and Wesleyanism. The old folks put every dollar they can
wring from a reluctant environment into real property or the banks; the
young folks put their inheritance into phonographs, Fords, boiled
shirts, yellow shoes, cuckoo clocks, lithographs of the current
mountebanks, oil stock, automatic pianos and the works of Harold Bell
Wright, Gerald Stanley Lee and O. Henry.


But what, then, is the character that actually marks the American--that
is, in chief? If he is not the exalted monopolist of liberty that he
thinks he is nor the noble altruist and idealist he slaps upon the chest
when he is full of rhetoric, nor the degraded dollar-chaser of European
legend, then what is he? We offer an answer in all humility, for the
problem is complex and there is but little illumination of it in the
literature; nevertheless, we offer it in the firm conviction, born of
twenty years' incessant meditation, that it is substantially correct.
It is, in brief, this: that the thing which sets off the American from
all other men, and gives a peculiar colour not only to the pattern of
his daily life but also to the play of his inner ideas, is what, for
want of a more exact term, may be called social aspiration. That is to
say, his dominant passion is a passion to lift himself by at least a
step or two in the society that he is a part of--a passion to improve
his position, to break down some shadowy barrier of caste, to achieve
the countenance of what, for all his talk of equality, he recognizes and
accepts as his betters. The American is a pusher. His eyes are ever
fixed upon some round of the ladder that is just beyond his reach, and
all his secret ambitions, all his extraordinary energies, group
themselves about the yearning to grasp it. Here we have an explanation
of the curious restlessness that educated foreigners, as opposed to mere
immigrants, always make a note of in the country; it is half aspiration
and half impatience, with overtones of dread and timorousness. The
American is violently eager to get on, and thoroughly convinced that his
merits entitle him to try and to succeed, but by the same token he is
sickeningly fearful of slipping back, and out of the second fact, as we
shall see, spring some of his most characteristic traits. He is a man
vexed, at one and the same time, by delusions of grandeur and an
inferiority complex; he is both egotistical and subservient, assertive
and politic, blatant and shy. Most of the errors about him are made by
seeing one side of him and being blind to the other.

Such a thing as a secure position is practically unknown among us. There
is no American who cannot hope to lift himself another notch or two, if
he is good; there is absolutely no hard and fast impediment to his
progress. But neither is there any American who doesn't have to keep on
fighting for whatever position he has; no wall of caste is there to
protect him if he slips. One observes every day the movement of
individuals, families, whole groups, in both directions. All of our
cities are full of brummagem aristocrats--aristocrats, at all events, in
the view of their neighbours--whose grandfathers, or even fathers, were
day labourers; and working for them, supported by them, heavily
patronized by them, are clerks whose grandfathers were lords of the
soil. The older societies of Europe, as every one knows, protect their
caste lines a great deal more resolutely. It is as impossible for a
wealthy pork packer or company promoter to enter the _noblesse_ of
Austria, even today, as it would be for him to enter the boudoir of a
queen; he is barred out absolutely and even his grandchildren are under
the ban. And in precisely the same way it is as impossible for a count
of the old Holy Roman Empire to lose caste as it would be for the Dalai
Lama; he may sink to unutterable depths within his order, but he cannot
get himself out of it, nor can he lose the peculiar advantages that go
with membership; he is still a _Graf_, and, as such, above the herd.
Once, in a Madrid café, the two of us encountered a Spanish marquis who
wore celluloid cuffs, suffered from pediculosis and had been drunk for
sixteen years. Yet he remained a marquis in good standing, and all
lesser Spaniards, including Socialists, envied him and deferred to him;
none would have dreamed of slapping him on the back. Knowing that he was
quite as safe within his ancient order as a dog among the _canidæ_, he
gave no thought to appearances. But in the same way he knew that he had
reached his limit--that no conceivable effort could lift him higher. He
was a grandee of Spain and that was all; above glimmered royalty and
the hierarchy of the saints, and both royalty and the hierarchy of the
saints were as much beyond him as grandeeism was beyond the polite and
well-educated head-waiter who laved him with ice-water, when he had

No American is ever so securely lodged. There is always something just
ahead of him, beckoning him and tantalizing him, and there is always
something just behind him, menacing him and causing him to sweat. Even
when he attains to what may seem to be security, that security is very
fragile. The English soap-boiler, brewer, shyster attorney or
stock-jobber, once he has got into the House of Lords, is reasonably
safe, and his children after him; the possession of a peerage connotes a
definite rank, and it is as permanent as anything can be in this world.
But in America there is no such harbour; the ship is eternally at sea.
Money vanishes, official dignity is forgotten, caste lines are as full
of gaps as an ill-kept hedge. The grandfather of the Vanderbilts was a
bounder; the last of the Washingtons is a petty employé in the Library
of Congress.

It is this constant possibility of rising, this constant risk of
falling, that gives a barbaric picturesqueness to the panorama of what
is called fashionable society in America. The chief character of that
society is to be found in its shameless self-assertion, its almost
obscene display of its importance and of the shadowy privileges and
acceptances on which that importance is based. It is assertive for the
simple reason that, immediately it ceased to be assertive, it would
cease to exist. Structurally, it is composed in every town of a nucleus
of those who have laboriously arrived and a chaotic mass of those who
are straining every effort to get on. The effort must be made against
great odds. Those who have arrived are eager to keep down the
competition of newcomers; on their exclusiveness, as the phrase is,
rests the whole of their social advantage. Thus the candidate from
below, before horning in at last, must put up with an infinity of rebuff
and humiliation; he must sacrifice his self-respect today in order to
gain the hope of destroying the self-respect of other aspirants
tomorrow. The result is that the whole edifice is based upon fears and
abasements, and that every device which promises to protect the
individual against them is seized upon eagerly. Fashionable society in
America therefore has no room for intelligence; within its fold an
original idea is dangerous; it carries regimentation, in dress, in
social customs and in political and even religious doctrines, to the
last degree. In the American cities the fashionable man or woman must
not only maintain the decorum seen among civilized folks everywhere; he
or she must also be interested in precisely the right sports, theatrical
shows and opera singers, show the right political credulities and
indignations, and have some sort of connection with the right church.
Nearly always, because of the apeing of English custom that prevails
everywhere in America, it must be the so-called Protestant Episcopal
Church, a sort of outhouse of the Church of England, with ecclesiastics
who imitate the English sacerdotal manner much as small boys imitate the
manner of eminent baseball players. Every fashionable Protestant
Episcopal congregation in the land is full of ex-Baptists and
ex-Methodists who have shed Calvinism, total immersion and the
hallelujah hymns on their way up the ladder. The same impulse leads the
Jews, whenever the possibility of invading the citadel of the Christians
begins to bemuse them (as happened during the late war, for example,
when patriotism temporarily adjourned the usual taboos), to embrace
Christian Science--as a sort of halfway station, so to speak, more
medical than Christian, and hence secure against ordinary derisions. And
it is an impulse but little different which lies at the bottom of the
much-discussed title-hunt.

A title, however paltry, is of genuine social value, more especially in
America; it represents a status that cannot be changed overnight by the
rise of rivals, or by personal dereliction, or by mere accident. It is a
policy of insurance against dangers that are not to be countered as
effectively in any other manner. Miss G----, the daughter of an
enormously wealthy scoundrel, may be accepted everywhere, but all the
while she is insecure. Her father may lose his fortune tomorrow, or be
jailed by newspaper outcry, or marry a prostitute and so commit social
suicide himself and murder his daughter, or she herself may fall a
victim to some rival's superior machinations, or stoop to fornication of
some forbidden variety, or otherwise get herself under the ban. But once
she is a duchess, she is safe. No catastrophe short of divorce can take
away her coronet, and even divorce will leave the purple marks of it
upon her brow. Most valuable boon of all, she is now free to be
herself,--a rare, rare experience for an American. She may, if she
likes, go about in a Mother Hubbard, or join the Seventh Day Adventists,
or declare for the Bolsheviki, or wash her own lingerie, or have her
hair bobbed, and still she will remain a duchess, and, as a duchess,
irremovably superior to the gaping herd of her political equals.

This social aspiration, of course, is most vividly violent and idiotic
on its higher and more gaudy levels, but it is scarcely less earnest
below. Every American, however obscure, has formulated within his secret
recesses some concept of advancement, however meagre; if he doesn't
aspire to be what is called fashionable, then he at least aspires to
lift himself in some less gorgeous way. There is not a social
organization in this land of innumerable associations that hasn't its
waiting list of candidates who are eager to get in, but have not yet
demonstrated their fitness for the honour. One can scarcely go low
enough to find that pressure absent. Even the tin-pot fraternal orders,
which are constantly cadging for members and seem to accept any one not
a downright felon, are exclusive in their fantastic way, and no doubt
there are hundreds of thousands of proud American freemen, the heirs of
Washington and Jefferson, their liberty safeguarded by a million guns,
who pine in secret because they are ineligible to membership in the
Masons, the Odd Fellows or even the Knights of Pythias. On the distaff
side, the thing is too obvious to need exposition. The patriotic
societies among women are all machines for the resuscitation of lost
superiorities. The plutocracy has shouldered out the old gentry from
actual social leadership--that gentry, indeed, presents a prodigious
clinical picture of the insecurity of social rank in America--but there
remains at least the possibility of insisting upon a dignity which
plutocrats cannot boast and may not even buy. Thus the county judge's
wife in Smithville or the Methodist pastor's daughter in Jonestown
consoles herself for the lack of an opera box with the thought
(constantly asserted by badge and resolution) that she had a nobler
grandfather, or, at all events, a decenter one, than the Astors, the
Vanderbilts and the Goulds.


It seems to us that the genuine characters of the normal American, the
characters which set him off most saliently from the men of other
nations, are the fruits of all this risk of and capacity for change in
status that we have described, and of the dreads and hesitations that go
therewith. The American is marked, in fact, by precisely the habits of
mind and act that one would look for in a man insatiably ambitious and
yet incurably fearful, to wit, the habits, on the one hand, of
unpleasant assertiveness, of somewhat boisterous braggardism, of
incessant pushing, and, on the other hand, of conformity, caution and
subservience. He is forever talking of his rights as if he stood ready
to defend them with his last drop of blood, and forever yielding them up
at the first demand. Under both the pretension and the fact is the
common motive of fear--in brief, the common motive of the insecure and
uncertain man, the _average_ man, at all times and everywhere, but
especially the motive of the average man in a social system so crude and
unstable as ours.

"More than any other people," said Wendell Phillips one blue day, "we
Americans are afraid of one another." The saying seems harsh. It goes
counter to the national delusion of uncompromising courage and limitless
truculence. It wars upon the national vanity. But all the same there is
truth in it. Here, more than anywhere else on earth, the status of an
individual is determined by the general consent of the general body of
his fellows; here, as we have seen, there are no artificial barriers to
protect him against their disapproval, or even against their envy. And
here, more than anywhere else, the general consent of that general body
of men is coloured by the ideas and prejudices of the inferior majority;
here, there is the nearest approach to genuine democracy, the most
direct and accurate response to mob emotions. Facing that infinitely
powerful but inevitably ignorant and cruel corpus of opinion, the
individual must needs adopt caution and fall into timorousness. The
desire within him may be bold and forthright, but its satisfaction
demands discretion, prudence, a politic and ingratiating habit. The
walls are not to be stormed; they must be wooed to a sort of Jerichoan
fall. Success thus takes the form of a series of waves of protective
colouration; failure is a succession of unmaskings. The aspirant must
first learn to imitate exactly the aspect and behaviour of the group he
seeks to penetrate. There follows notice. There follows toleration.
There follows acceptance.

Thus the hog-murderer's wife picks her way into the society of Chicago,
the proud aristocracy of the abbatoir. And thus, no less, the former
whiskey drummer insinuates himself into the Elks, and the rising
retailer wins the _imprimatur_ of wholesalers, and the rich peasant
becomes a planter and the father of doctors of philosophy, and the
servant girl enters the movies and acquires the status of a princess of
the blood, and the petty attorney becomes a legislator and statesman,
and Schmidt turns into Smith, and the newspaper reporter becomes a
_littérateur_ on the staff of the _Saturday Evening Post_, and all of us
Yankees creep up, up, up. The business is never to be accomplished by
headlong assault. It must be done circumspectly, insidiously, a bit
apologetically, _pianissimo_; there must be no flaunting of unusual
ideas, no bold prancing of an unaccustomed personality. Above all, it
must be done without exciting fear, lest the portcullis fall and the
whole enterprise go to pot. Above all, the manner of a Jenkins must be
got into it.

That manner, of course, is not incompatible with a certain superficial
boldness, nor even with an appearance of truculence. But what lies
beneath the boldness is not really an independent spirit, but merely a
talent for crying with the pack. When the American is most dashingly
assertive it is a sure sign that he feels the pack behind him, and hears
its comforting baying, and is well aware that his doctrine is approved.
He is not a joiner for nothing. He joins something, whether it be a
political party, a church, a fraternal order or one of the idiotic
movements that incessantly ravage the land, because joining gives him a
feeling of security, because it makes him a part of something larger and
safer than he is himself, because it gives him a chance to work off
steam without running any risk. The whole thinking of the country thus
runs down the channel of mob emotion; there is no actual conflict of
ideas, but only a succession of crazes. It is inconvenient to stand
aloof from these crazes, and it is dangerous to oppose them. In no other
country in the world is there so ferocious a short way with dissenters;
in none other is it socially so costly to heed the inner voice and to
be one's own man.

Thus encircled by taboos, the American shows an extraordinary
timorousness in all his dealings with fundamentals, and the fact that
many of these taboos are self-imposed only adds to their rigour. What
every observant foreigner first notices, canvassing the intellectual
life of the land, is the shy and gingery manner in which all the larger
problems of existence are dealt with. We have, for example, positive
laws which make it practically impossible to discuss the sex question
with anything approaching honesty. The literature of the subject is
enormous, and the general notion of its importance is thereby made
manifest, but all save a very small part of that literature is produced
by quacks and addressed to an audience that is afraid to hear the truth.
So in politics. Almost alone among the civilized nations of the world,
the United States pursues critics of the dominant political theory with
mediaeval ferocity, condemning them to interminable periods in prison,
proceeding against them by clamour and perjury, treating them worse than
common blacklegs, and at times conniving at their actual murder by the
police. And so, above all, in religion. This is the only country of
Christendom in which there is no anti-clerical party, and hence no
constant and effective criticism of clerical pretension and corruption.
The result is that all of the churches reach out for tyranny among us,
and that most of them that show any numerical strength already exercise
it. In half a dozen of our largest cities the Catholic Church is
actually a good deal more powerful than it is in Spain, or even in
Austria. Its acts are wholly above public discussion; it makes and
breaks public officials; it holds the newspapers in terror; it
influences the police and the courts; it is strong enough to destroy and
silence any man who objects to its polity. But this is not all. The
Catholic Church, at worst, is an organization largely devoted to
perfectly legitimate and even laudable purposes, and it is controlled by
a class of men who are largely above popular passion, and intelligent
enough to see beyond the immediate advantage. More important still, its
international character gives it a detached and superior point of view,
and so makes it stand aloof from some of the common weaknesses of the
native mob. This is constantly revealed by its opposition to
Prohibition, vice-crusading and other such crazes of the disinherited
and unhappy. The rank and file of its members are ignorant and emotional
and are thus almost ideal cannon-fodder for the bogus reformers who
operate upon the proletariat, but they are held back by their clergy, to
whose superior interest in genuine religion is added a centuries-old
heritage of worldly wisdom. Thus the Church of Rome, in America at
least, is a civilizing agency, and we may well overlook its cynical
alliance with political corruption in view of its steady enmity to that
greater corruption which destroys the very elements of liberty, peace
and human dignity. It may be a bit too intelligently selfish and harshly
realistic, but it is assuredly not swinish.

This adjective, however, fits the opposition as snugly as a coat of
varnish--and by the opposition we mean the group of Protestant churches
commonly called evangelical, to wit, the Methodist, the Baptist, the
Presbyterian and their attendant imitators and inferiors. It is out of
this group that the dominating religious attitude of the American people
arises, and, in particular is from this group that we get our doctrine
that religious activity is not to be challenged, however flagrantly it
may stand in opposition to common honesty and common sense. Under cover
of that artificial toleration--the product, not of a genuine liberalism,
but simply of a mob distrust of dissent--there goes on a tyranny that it
would be difficult to match in modern history. Save in a few large
cities, every American community lies under a sacerdotal despotism whose
devices are disingenuous and dishonourable, and whose power was
magnificently displayed in the campaign for Prohibition--a despotism
exercised by a body of ignorant, superstitious, self-seeking and
thoroughly dishonest men. One may, without prejudice, reasonably defend
the Catholic clergy. They are men who, at worst, pursue an intelligible
ideal and dignify it with a real sacrifice. But in the presence of the
Methodist clergy it is difficult to avoid giving way to the weakness of
indignation. What one observes is a horde of uneducated and inflammatory
dunderheads, eager for power, intolerant of opposition and full of a
childish vanity--a mob of holy clerks but little raised, in intelligence
and dignity, above the forlorn half-wits whose souls they chronically
rack. In the whole United States there is scarcely one among them who
stands forth as a man of sense and information. Illiterate in all save
the elementals, untouched by the larger currents of thought, drunk with
their power over dolts, crazed by their immunity to challenge by their
betters, they carry over into the professional class of the country the
spirit of the most stupid peasantry, and degrade religion to the estate
of an idiotic phobia. There is not a village in America in which some
such preposterous jackass is not in eruption. Worse, he is commonly the
leader of its opinion--its pattern in reason, morals and good taste. Yet
worse, he is ruler as well as pattern. Wrapped in his sacerdotal cloak,
he stands above any effective criticism. To question his imbecile ideas
is to stand in contumacy of the revelation of God.

A number of years ago, while engaged in journalism in a large American
city, one of us violated all journalistic precedents by printing an
article denouncing the local evangelical clergy as, with few exceptions,
a pack of scoundrels, and offered in proof their brisk and constant
trade in contraband marriages, especially the marriages of girls under
the age of consent. He showed that the offer of a two dollar fee was
sufficient to induce the majority of these ambassadors of Christ to
marry a girl of fourteen or fifteen to a boy a few years older. There
followed a great outcry from the accused, with the usual demands that
the offending paper print a retraction and discharge the guilty writer
from its staff. He thereupon engaged a clipping bureau to furnish him
with clippings from the newspapers of the whole country, showing the
common activities of the evangelical clergy elsewhere. The result was
that he received and reprinted an amazing mass of putrid scandal,
greatly to the joy of that moral community. It appeared that these
eminent Christian leaders were steadily engaged, North, East, South and
West, in doings that would have disgraced so many ward heelers or
oyster-shuckers--shady financial transactions, gross sexual
irregularities, all sorts of minor crimes. The publication of this
evidence from day to day gave the chronicler the advantage of the
offensive, and so got him out of a tight place. In the end, as if
tickled by his assault, the hierarchy of heaven came to his aid. That is
to say, the Lord God Jehovah arranged it that one of the leading
Methodist clergymen of the city--in fact, the chronicler's chief
opponent--should be taken in an unmentionable sexual perversion at the
headquarters of the Young Men's Christian Association, and so be forced
to leave town between days. This catastrophe, as we say, the chronicler
ascribes to divine intervention. It was entirely unexpected; he knew
that the fellow was a liar and a rogue, but he had never suspected that
he was also a hog. The episode demoralized the defence to such an extent
that it was impossible, in decency, to go on with the war. The
chronicler was at once, in fact, forced into hypocritical efforts to
prevent the fugitive ecclesiastic's pursuit, extradition, trial and
imprisonment, and these efforts, despite their disingenuous character,
succeeded. Under another name, he now preaches Christ and Him crucified
in the far West, and is, we daresay, a leading advocate of Prohibition,
vice-crusading and the other Methodist reforms.

But here we depart from the point. It is not that an eminent Wesleyan
should be taken in crim. con. with a member of the Y.M.C.A.; it is that
the whole Wesleyan scheme of things, despite the enormous multiplication
of such incidents, should still stand above all direct and devastating
criticism in America. It is an ignorant and dishonest cult of ignorant
and dishonest men, and yet no one has ever had at it from the front.
All the newspaper clippings that we have mentioned were extraordinarily
discreet. Every offence of a clergyman was presented as if it were an
isolated phenomenon, and of no general significance; there was never any
challenge of an ecclesiastical organization which bred and sheltered
such men, and carried over their curious ethics into its social and
political activities. That careful avoidance of the main issue is always
observable in These States. Prohibition was saddled upon the country,
against the expressed wish of at least two-thirds of the people, by the
political chicanery of the same organization, and yet no one, during the
long fight, thought to attack it directly; to have done so would have
been to violate the taboo described. So when the returning soldiers
began to reveal the astounding chicaneries of the Young Men's Christian
Association, it was marvelled at for a few weeks, as Americans always
marvel at successful pocket-squeezings, but no one sought the cause in
the character of the pious brethren primarily responsible. And so,
again, when what is called liberal opinion began to revolt against the
foreign politics of Dr. Wilson, and in particular, against his apparent
repudiation of his most solemn engagements, and his complete
insensibility, in the presence of a moral passion, to the most
elementary principles of private and public honour. A thousand critics,
friendly and unfriendly, sought to account for his amazing shifts and
evasions on unintelligible logical grounds, but no one, so far as we
know, ventured to point out that his course could be accounted for in
every detail, and without any mauling of the facts whatsoever, upon the
simple ground that he was a Presbyterian.

We sincerely hope that no one will mistake us here for anarchists who
seek to hold the Presbyterian code of ethics, or the Presbyterians
themselves, up to derision. We confess frankly that, as private
individuals, we are inclined against that code and that all our
prejudices run against those who subscribe to it--which is to say, in
the direction of toleration, of open dealing, and even of a certain mild
snobbishness. We are both opposed to moral enthusiasm, and never drink
with a moral man if it can be avoided. The taboos that we personally
subscribe to are taboos upon the very things that Presbyterians hold
most dear--for example, moral certainty, the proselyting appetite, and
what may be described as the passion of the policeman. But we are
surely not fatuous enough to cherish our ideas to the point of fondness.
In the long run, we freely grant, it may turn out that the Presbyterians
are right and we are wrong--in brief, that God loves a moral man more
than he loves an amiable and honourable one. Stranger things, indeed,
have happened; one might even argue without absurdity that God is
actually a Presbyterian Himself. Whether He is or is not we do not
presume to say; we simply record the fact that it is our present
impression that He is not--and then straightway admit that our view is
worth no more than that of any other pair of men.

Meanwhile, however, it is certainly not going too far to notice the
circumstance that there is an irreconcilable antithesis between the two
sorts of men that we have described--that a great moral passion is fatal
to the gentler and more caressing amenities of life, and _vice versa_.
The man of morals has a certain character, and the man of honour has a
quite different character. No one not an idiot fails to differentiate
between the two, or to order his intercourse with them upon an
assumption of their disparity. What we know in the United States as a
Presbyterian is pre-eminently of the moral type. Perhaps more than any
other man among us he regulates his life, and the lives of all who fall
under his influence, upon a purely moral plan. In the main, he gets the
principles underlying that plan from the Old Testament; if he is to be
described succinctly, it is as one who carries over into modern life,
with its superior complexity of sin, the simple and rigid ethical
concepts of the ancient Jews. And in particular, he subscribes to their
theory that it is virtuous to make things hot for the sinner, by which
word he designates any person whose conduct violates the ordinances of
God as he himself is aware of them and interprets them. Sin is to the
Presbyterian the salient phenomenon of this wobbling and nefarious
world, and the pursuit and chastisement of sinners the one avocation
that is permanently worth while. The product of that simple doctrine is
a character of no little vigour and austerity, and one much esteemed by
the great masses of men, who are always uneasily conscious of their own
weakness in the face of temptation and thus have a sneaking veneration
for the man apparently firm, and who are always ready to believe,
furthermore, that any man who seems to be having a pleasant time is a
rascal and deserving of the fire.

The Presbyterian likewise harbours this latter suspicion. More, he
commonly erects it into a certainty. Every single human act, he holds,
must be either right or wrong--and the overwhelming majority of them are
wrong. He knows exactly what these wrong ones are; he recognizes them
instantly and infallibly, by a sort of inspired intuition; and he
believes that they should all be punished automatically and with the
utmost severity. No one ever heard of a Presbyterian overlooking a
fault, or pleading for mercy for the erring. He would regard such an act
as the weakness of one ridden by the Devil. From such harsh judgments
and retributions, it must be added in fairness, he does not except
himself. He detects his own aberration almost as quickly as he detects
the aberration of the other fellow, and though he may sometimes
seek--being, after all, only human--to escape its consequences, he by no
means condones it. Nothing, indeed, could exceed the mental anguish of a
Presbyterian who has been betrayed, by the foul arts of some lascivious
wench, into any form of adultery, or, by the treason of his senses in
some other way, into a voluptuous yielding to the lure of the other
_beaux arts_. It has been our fortune, at various times, to be in the
confidence of Presbyterians thus seduced from their native virtue, and
we bear willing testimony to their sincere horror. Even the least pious
of them was as greatly shaken up by what to us, on our lower plane,
seemed a mere peccadillo, perhaps in bad taste but certainly not worth
getting into a sweat about, as we ourselves would have been by a gross
breach of faith.

But, as has been before remarked, the bitter must go with the sweet. In
the face of so exalted a moral passion it would be absurd to look for
that urbane habit which seeks the well-being of one's self and the other
fellow, not in exact obedience to harsh statutes, but in ease, dignity
and the more delicate sort of self-respect. That is to say, it would be
absurd to ask a thoroughly moral man to be also a man of honour. The
two, in fact, are eternal enemies; their endless struggle achieves that
happy mean of philosophies which we call civilization. The man of morals
keeps order in the world, regimenting its lawless hordes and organizing
its governments; the man of honour mellows and embellishes what is thus
achieved, giving to duty the aspect of a privilege and making human
intercourse a thing of fine faiths and understandings. We trust the
former to do what is righteous; we trust the latter to do what is
seemly. It is seldom that a man can do both. The man of honour
inevitably exalts the punctilio above the law of God; one may trust him,
if he has eaten one's salt, to respect one's daughter as he would his
own, but if he happens to be under no such special obligation it may be
hazardous to trust him with even one's charwoman or one's mother-in-law.
And the man of morals, confronted by a moral situation, is usually
wholly without honour. Put him on the stand to testify against a woman,
and he will tell all he knows about her, even including what he has
learned in the purple privacy of her boudoir. More, he will not tell it
reluctantly, shame-facedly, apologetically, but proudly and willingly,
in response to his high sense of moral duty. It is simply impossible for
such a man to lie like a gentleman. He lies, of course, like all of us,
and perhaps more often than most of us on the other side, but he does
it, not to protect sinners from the moral law, but to make their
punishment under the moral law more certain, swift, facile and

By this long route we get at our _apologia_ for Dr. Wilson, a man from
whom we both differ in politics, in theology, in ethics and in
epistemology, but one whose great gifts, particularly for moral
endeavour in the grand manner, excite our sincere admiration. Both his
foes and his friends, it seems to us, do him a good deal of injustice.
The former, carried away by that sense of unlikeness which lies at the
bottom of most of the prejudices of uncritical men, denounce him out of
hand because he is not as they are. A good many of these foes, of
course, are not actually men of honour themselves; some of them, in
fact, belong to sects and professions--for example, that of intellectual
Socialist and that of member of Congress--in which no authentic man of
honour could imaginably have a place. But it may be accurately said of
them, nevertheless, that if actual honour is not in them, then at least
they have something of the manner of honour--that they are moving in the
direction of honour, though not yet arrived. Few men, indeed, may be
said to belong certainly and irrevocably in either category, that of the
men of honour or that of the men of morals. Dr. Wilson, perhaps, is one
such man. He is as palpably and exclusively a man of morals as, say,
George Washington was a man of honour. He is, in the one category, a
great beacon, burning almost blindingly; he is, in the other, no more
than a tallow dip, guttering asthmatically. But the majority of men
occupy a sort of twilight zone, and the most that may be said of them is
that their faces turn this way or that. Such is the case with Dr.
Wilson's chief foes. Their eyes are upon honour, as upon some new and
superlatively sweet enchantment, and, bemused to starboard, they view
the scene to port with somewhat extravagant biliousness. Thus, when they
contemplate His Excellency's long and perhaps unmatchable series of
violations of his troth--in the matter of "keeping us out of the war,"
in the matter of his solemn promises to China, in the matter of his
statement of war aims and purposes, in the matter of his shifty dealing
with the Russian question, in the matter of his repudiation of the
armistice terms offered to the Germans, in the matter of his stupendous
lying to the Senate committee on foreign relations, and so on, _ad
infinitum_--when they contemplate all that series of evasions, dodgings,
hypocrisies, double-dealings and plain mendacities, they succumb to an
indignation that is still more than half moral, and denounce him
bitterly as a Pecksniff, a Tartuffe and a Pinto. In that judgment, as we
shall show, there is naught save a stupid incapacity to understand an
unlike man--in brief, no more than the dunderheadedness which makes a
German regard every Englishman as a snuffling poltroon, hiding behind
his vassals, and causes an Englishman to look upon every German as a
fiend in human form, up to his hips in blood.

But one expects a man's foes to misjudge him, and even to libel him
deliberately; a good deal of their enmity, in fact, is often no more
than a product of their uneasy consciousness that they have dealt
unfairly with him; one is always most bitter, not toward the author of
one's wrongs, but toward the victim of one's wrongs. Unluckily, Dr.
Wilson's friends have had at him even more cruelly. When, seeking to
defend what they regard as his honour, they account for his incessant
violation of his pledges--to the voters in 1916, to the soldiers drafted
for the war, to the Chinese on their entrance, to the Austrians when he
sought to get them out, to the Germans when he offered them his
fourteen points, to the country in the matter of secret diplomacy--when
his friends attempt to explain his cavalier repudiation of all these
pledges on the ground that he could not have kept them without violating
later pledges, they achieve, of course, only an imbecility, obvious and
damning, for it must be plain that no man is permitted, in honour, to
make antagonistic engagements, or to urge his private tranquillity or
even the public welfare as an excuse for changing their terms without
the consent of the parties of the second part. A man of honour is one
who simply does whatever he says he will do, provided the other party
holds to the compact too. One cannot imagine him shifting, trimming and
making excuses; it is his peculiar mark that he never makes
excuses--that the need of making them would fill him with unbearable
humiliation. The moment a man of honour faces the question of his
honour, he is done for; it can no more stand investigation than the
chastity of a woman can stand investigation. In such a character, Dr.
Wilson would have been bound irrevocably by all his long series of
solemn engagements, from the first to the last, without the slightest
possibility of dotting an "i" or of cutting off the tail of a comma. It
would have been as impossible for him to have repudiated a single one
of them at the desire of his friends or in the interest of his
idealistic enterprises as it would have been for him to have repudiated
it to his own private profit.

But here is where both foes and friends go aground; both attempt to
inject concepts of honour into transactions predominatingly, and perhaps
exclusively, coloured by concepts of morals. The two things are quite
distinct, as the two sorts of men are quite distinct. Beside the
obligation of honour there is the obligation of morals, entirely
independent and often directly antagonistic. And beside the man who
yields to the punctilio--the man of honour, the man who keeps his
word--there is the man who submits himself, regardless of his personal
engagements and the penalties that go therewith, to the clarion call of
the moral law. Dr. Wilson is such a man. He is, as has been remarked, a
Presbyterian, a Calvinist, a militant moralist. In that rôle, devoted to
that high cause, clad in that white garment, he was purged of all
obligations of honour to any merely earthly power. His one obligation
was to the moral law--in brief, to the ordinance of God, as determined
by Christian pastors. Under that moral law, specifically, he was
charged to search out and determine its violations by the accused in the
dock, to wit, by the German nation, according to the teaching of those
pastors and the light within, and to fix and execute a punishment that
should be swift, terrible and overwhelming.

To this business, it must be granted by even his most extravagant
opponents, he addressed himself with the loftiest resolution and
singleness of purpose, excluding all puerile questions of ways and
means. He was, by the moral law, no more bound to take into account the
process whereby the accused was brought to book and the weight of
retribution brought to bear than a detective is bound to remember how
any ordinary prisoner is snared for the mill of justice. The detective
himself may have been an important factor in that process; he may have
taken the prisoner by some stratagem involving the most gross false
pretences; he may have even played the _agent provocateur_ and so
actually suggested, planned and supervised the crime. But surely that
would be a ridiculous critic who would argue thereby that the detective
should forthwith forget the law violated and the punishment justly
provided for it, and go over to the side of the defence on the ground
that his dealings with the prisoner involved him in obligations of
honour. The world would laugh at such a moral moron, if it did not
actually destroy him as an enemy of society. It recognizes the two codes
that we have described, and it knows that they are antagonistic. It
expects a man sworn to the service of morality to discharge his duty at
any cost to his honour, just as it expects a man publicly devoted to
honour to keep his word at any cost to his or to the public morals.
Moreover, it inclines, when there is a conflict, toward the side of
morals; the overwhelming majority of men are men of morals, not men of
honour. They believe that it is vastly more important that the guilty
should be detected, taken into custody and exposed to the rigour of the
law than that the honour of this or that man should be preserved. In
truth, there are frequent circumstances under which they positively
esteem a man who thus sacrifices his honour, or even their own honour.
The man of _dis_honour may actually take on the character of a public
hero. Thus, in 1903, when the late Major General Roosevelt, then
President, tore up the treaty of 1846, whereby the United States
guaranteed the sovereignty of Columbia in the Isthmus of Panama, the
great masses of the American plain people not only at once condoned this
grave breach of honour, but actually applauded Dr. Roosevelt because his
act furthered the great moral enterprise of digging the canal.

These distinctions, of course, are familiar to all men who devote
themselves to the study of the human psyche; that morals and honour are
not one and the same thing, but two very distinct and even antithetical
things, is surely no news to the judicious. But what is thus merely an
axiom of ethics, politics or psychology is often kept strangely secret
in the United States. We have acquired the habit of evading all the
facts of life save those that are most superficial; by long disuse we
have almost lost the capacity for thinking analytically and accurately.
A thing may be universally known among us, and yet never get itself so
much as mentioned. Around scores of elementary platitudes there hangs a
shuddering silence as complete as that which hedges in the sacred name
of a Polynesian chief. At every election time, in our large cities, most
of the fundamental issues are concealed, particularly when they happen
to take on a theological colour, which is very often. It is, for
example, the timorous public theory, born of this fear of the forthright
fact, that when a man sets up as a candidate for, say, a judgeship, the
question of his private religious faith is of no practical
importance--that it makes no difference whether he is a Catholic or a
Methodist. The truth is, of course, that his faith is often of the very
first importance--that it will colour his conduct of the forensic
combats before him even more than his politics, his capacity to digest
proteids or the social aspirations of his wife. One constantly notes, in
American jurisprudence, the effects of theological prejudices on the
bench; there are at least a dozen controlling decisions, covering
especially the new moral legislation, which might almost be mistaken by
a layman for sermons by the Rev. Dr. Billy Sunday. The Prohibitionists,
during their long and very adroit campaign, shrewdly recognized the
importance of controlling the judiciary; in particular, they threw all
their power against the election of candidates who were known to be
Catholics, or Jews, or free-thinkers. As a result they packed the bench
of nearly every state with Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian judges,
and these gentlemen at once upheld all their maze of outrageous
statutes. That they would do so if elected was known in advance, and
yet, so far as the record shows, it was a rare thing for any one to
attack them on the ground of their religion, and rarer still for any
such attack to influence many votes. The taboo was working. The majority
of voters were eager to avoid that issue. They felt, in some vague and
unintelligible way, that it was improper to raise it.

So with all other primary issues. There is surely no country in the
world in which the marriage relation is discussed more copiously than in
the United States, and yet there is no country in which its essentials
are more diligently avoided. Some years ago, seeking to let some
sagacity into the prevailing exchange of platitudes, one of us wrote a
book upon the subject, grounding it upon the obvious doctrine that women
have much more to gain by marriage than men, and that the majority of
men are aware of it, and would never marry at all if it were not for
women's relentless effort to bring them to it. This banality the writer
supported, by dint of great painstaking, in a somewhat novel way. That
is to say, he put upon himself the limitation of employing no theory,
statement of fact or argument in the book that was not already embodied
in a common proverb in some civilized language. Now and then it was a
bit hard to find the proverb, but in most cases it was very easy, and in
some cases he found, not one, but dozens. Well, this laborious
_pastiche_ of the obvious made such a sensation that it sold better than
any other book that the author had ever written--and the reviews
unanimously described it, either with praise or with blame, as an
extraordinary collection of heresies, most of them almost too acrid to
be bruited about. In other words, this mass of platitudes took Americans
by surprise, and somehow shocked them. What was commonplace to even the
peasants of the European Continent was so unfamiliar to even the
literate minority over here that the book acquired a sort of sinister
repute, and the writer himself came to be discussed as a fellow with the
habit of arising in decorous society and indelicately blowing his nose.

There is, of course, something of the same shrinking from the elemental
facts of life in England; it seems to run with the Anglo-Saxon. This
accounts for the shuddering attitude of the English to such
platitude-monging foreigners as George Bernard Shaw, the Scotsman
disguised as an Irishman, and G. K. Chesterton, who shows all the
physical and mental stigmata of a Bavarian. Shaw's plays, which once had
all England by the ears, were set down as compendiums of the
self-evident by the French, a realistic and plain-spoken people, and
were sniffed at in Germany by all save the middle classes, who
correspond to the _intelligentsia_ of Anglo-Saxondom. But in America,
even more than in England, they were viewed as genuinely satanic. We
shall never forget, indeed, the tremulous manner in which American
audiences first listened to the feeble rattling of the palpable in such
pieces as "Man and Superman" and "You Never Can Tell." It was precisely
the manner of an old maid devouring "What Every Girl of Forty-Five
Should Know" behind the door. As for Chesterton, his banal arguments in
favour of alcohol shocked the country so greatly that his previous high
services to religious superstition were forgotten, and today he is
seldom mentioned by respectable Americans.


It is necessary to repeat that we rehearse all these facts, not in
indignation, nor indeed in any spirit of carping whatever, but in
perfect serenity and simply as descriptive sociologists. This attitude
of mind is but little comprehended in America, where the emotions
dominate all human reactions, and even such dismal sciences as
paleontology, pathology and comparative philology are gaudily coloured
by patriotic and other passions. The typical American learned man
suffers horribly from the national disease; he is eternally afraid of
something. If it is not that some cheese-monger among his trustees will
have him cashiered for receiving a picture post-card from Prof. Dr.
Scott Nearing, it is that some sweating and scoundrelly German or
Frenchman will discover and denounce his cribs, and if it is not that
the foreigner will have at him, it is that he will be robbed of his step
from associate to full professor by some rival whose wife is more
amiable to the president of the university, or who is himself more
popular with the college athletes. Thus surrounded by fears, he
translates them, by a familiar psychological process, into indignations.
He announces what he has to say in terms of raucous dudgeon, as a negro,
having to go past a medical college at night, intones some bellicose
gospel-hymn. He is, in brief, vociferously correct. During the late
war, at a time of unusual suspicions and hence of unusual hazards, this
eagerness to prove orthodoxy by choler was copiously on exhibition. Thus
one of the leading American zoölogists printed a work in which, after
starting off by denouncing the German naming of new species as ignorant,
dishonest and against God, he gradually worked himself up to the
doctrine that any American who put a tooth into a slab of _Rinderbrust
mit Meerrettig_, or peeped at _Simplicissimus_ with the blinds down, or
bought his children German-made jumping-jacks, was a traitor to the
Constitution and a secret agent of the Wilhelmstrasse. And thus there
were American pathologists and bacteriologists who denounced Prof. Dr.
Paul Ehrlich as little better than a quack hired by the Krupps to poison
Americans, and who displayed their pious horror of the late Prof. Dr.
Robert Koch by omitting all acknowledgment of obligation to him from
their monographs. And finally there was the posse of "two thousand
American Historians" assembled by Mr. Creel to instruct the plain people
in the new theory of American history, whereby the Revolution was
represented as a lamentable row in an otherwise happy family,
deliberately instigated by German intrigue--a posse which reached its
greatest height of correct indignation in its approval of the celebrated
Sisson documents, to the obscene delight of the British authors thereof.

As we say, we are devoid of all such lofty passions, and hence must
present our observations in the flat, unimaginative, unemotional manner
of a dentist pulling a tooth. It would not be going too far, in fact, to
call us emotional idiots. What ails us is a constitutional suspicion
that the other fellow, after all, may be right, or, in any event, partly
right. In the present case we by no means reprehend the avoidance of
issues that we have described; we merely record it. The fact is that it
has certain very obvious uses, and is probably inevitable in a
democratic society. It is commonly argued that free speech is necessary
to the prosperity of a democracy, but in this doctrine we take no stock.
On the contrary, there are plain reasons for holding that free speech is
more dangerous to a democracy than to any other form of government, and
no doubt these reasons, if only unconsciously, were at the bottom of the
extraordinary body of repressive legislation put upon the books during
the late war. The essential thing about a democracy is that the men at
the head of the state are wholly dependent, for a continuance of their
power, upon the good opinion of the popular majority. While they are
actually in office, true enough, they are theoretically almost
completely irresponsible, but their terms of office are usually so short
that they must give constant thought to the imminent canvassing of their
acts, and this threat of being judged and turned out commonly greatly
conditions their exercise of their power, even while they hold it to the
full. Of late, indeed, there has actually arisen the doctrine that they
are responsible at all times and must respond to every shift in public
sentiment, regardless of their own inclinations, and there has even
grown up the custom of subjecting them to formal discipline, as by what
is called the recall. The net result is that a public officer under a
democracy is bound to regard the popular will during the whole of his
term in office, and cannot hope to carry out any intelligible plan of
his own if the mob has been set against it.

Now, the trouble with this scheme is that the mob reaches its
conclusions, not by logical steps but by emotional steps, and that its
information upon all save a very small minority of the questions
publicly at issue is always scant and inaccurate. It is thus constantly
liable to inflammation by adroit demagogues, or rabble-rousers, and
inasmuch as these rabble-rousers are animated as a sole motive by the
hope of turning out the existing officers of state and getting the
offices for themselves, the man in office must inevitably regard them as
his enemies and the doctrines they preach as subversive of good
government. This view is not altogether selfish. There is, in fact,
sound logic in it, for it is a peculiarity of the mob mind that it
always takes in most hospitably what is intrinsically most idiotic--that
between two antagonistic leaders it always follows the one who is
longest on vague and brilliant words and shortest on sense. Thus the man
in office, if he would be free to carry on his duties in anything
approaching freedom and comfort, must adopt measures against that
tendency to run amuck.

Three devices at once present themselves. One is to take steps against
the rabble-rousers by seeking to make it appear that they are traitors,
and so arousing the mob against them--in brief, to deny them their
constitutional right to free speech under colour of criminal statutes.
The second is to combine this plan with that of flooding the country
with official news by a corps of press-agents, chautauquans and other
such professors of deception. The third is to meet the rabble-rousers on
their own ground, matching their appeals to the emotions with appeals
even more powerful, and out-doing their vague and soothing words with
words even more vague and soothing. All three plans have been in
operation since the first days of the republic; the early Federalists
employed the first two with such assiduity that the mob of that time
finally revolted. All three have been brought to the highest conceivable
point of perfection by Dr. Wilson, a man whose resolute fidelity to his
moral ideas is matched only by his magnificent skill at playing upon
every prejudice and weakness of the plain people.

But men of such exalted and varied gifts are not common. The average
head of a democratic state is not _ipso facto_ the best rabble-rouser
within that state, but merely one of the best. He may be able, on fair
terms, to meet any individual rival, but it is rare for him to be able
to meet the whole pack, or even any considerable group. To relieve him
from that difficulty, and so prevent the incessant running amuck of the
populace, it is necessary to handicap all the remaining rabble-rousers,
and this is most effectively done by limitations upon free speech which
originate as statutes and gradually take on the form and potency of
national customs. Such limitations arose in the United States by
precisely that process. They began in the first years of the republic as
definite laws. Some of those laws were afterward abandoned, but what was
fundamentally sound in them remained in force as custom.

It must be obvious that even Dr. Wilson, despite his tremendous gift for
the third of the devices that we have named, would have been in sore
case during his second administration if it had not been for his
employment of the other two. Imagine the United States during the Summer
of 1917 with absolute free speech the order of the day! The mails would
have been flooded with Socialist and pacifist documents, every
street-corner would have had its screaming soap-box orator, the
newspapers would have shaken the very heavens with colossal alarms, and
conscientious objection would have taken on the proportions of a
national frenzy. In the face of such an avalanche of fears and
balderdash, there would have been no work at all for the German
propagandists; in fact, it is likely that a great many of them, under
suspicion on account of their relative moderation, would have been
lynched as agents of the American munitions patriots. For the mob, it
must be remembered, infallibly inclines, not to the side of the soundest
logic and loftiest purpose, but to the side of the loudest noise, and
without the artificial aid of a large and complex organization of
press-agents and the power to jail any especially effective opponent
forthwith, even a President of the United States would be unable to bawl
down the whole fraternity. That it is matter of the utmost importance,
in time of war, to avoid any such internal reign of terror must be
obvious to even the most fanatical advocate of free speech. There must
be, in such emergencies, a resolute pursuit of coherent policies, and
that would be obviously impossible with the populace turning
distractedly to one bogus messiah after another, and always seeking to
force its latest craze upon the government. Thus, while one may
perchance drop a tear or two upon the Socialists jailed by a sort of
lynch law for trying to exercise their plain constitutional rights, and
upon the pacifists tarred and feathered by mobs led by government
agents, and upon the conscientious objectors starved and clubbed to
death in military dungeons, it must still be plain that such barbarous
penalties were essentially necessary. The victims, in the main, were
half-wits suffering from the martyr complex; it was their admitted
desire to sacrifice themselves for the Larger Good. This desire was
gratified--not in the way they hoped for, of course, but nevertheless in
a way that must have given any impartial observer a feeling of profound,
if discreditable, satisfaction.

What a republic has to fear especially is the rabble-rouser who
advocates giving an objective reality to the gaudy theories which lie at
the foundations of the prevailing scheme of government. He is far more
dangerous than a genuine revolutionist, for the latter comes with ideas
that are actually new, or, at all events, new to the mob, and so he has
to overcome its congenital hostility to novelty. But the reformer who,
under a democracy, bases his case upon the principles upon which
democracy is founded has an easy road, for the populace is familiar
with those principles and eager to see them put into practical effect.
The late Cecil Chesterton, in his penetrating "History of the United
States," showed how Andrew Jackson came to power by that route. Jackson,
he said, was simply a man so naïve that he accepted the lofty doctrines
of the Declaration of Independence without any critical questioning
whatever, and "really acted as if they were true." The appearance of
such a man, he goes on, was "appalling" to the political aristocrats of
1825. They themselves, of course, enunciated those doctrines daily and
based their whole politics upon them--but not to the point of really
executing them. So when Jackson came down from the mountains with the
same sonorous words upon his lips, but with the addition of a solemn
promise to carry them out--when he thus descended upon them, he stole
their thunder and spiked their guns, and after a brief struggle
he had disposed of them. The Socialists, free-speech fanatics,
anti-conscriptionists, anti-militarists and other such democratic
maximalists of 1917 and 1918 were, in essence, nothing but a new and
formidable horde of Jacksons. Their case rested upon principles held to
be true by all good Americans, and constantly reaffirmed by the highest
officers of state. It was thus extremely likely that, if they were
permitted to woo the public ear, they would quickly amass a majority of
suffrages, and so get the conduct of things into their own hands. So it
became necessary, in order that the great enterprises then under way
might be pushed to a successful issue, that all these marplots be
silenced, and it was accordingly done. This proceeding, of course, was
theoretically violative of their common rights, and hence theoretically
un-American. All the theory, in fact, was on the side of the victims.
But war time is no time for theories, and a man with war powers in his
hands is not one to parley with them.

As we have said, the menace presented by such unintelligent literalists
is probably a good deal more dangerous to a democracy than to a
government of any other form. Under an aristocracy, for example, such as
prevailed, in one form or another, in England, Germany, Italy and France
before the war, it is possible to give doctrinaires a relatively free
rein, for even if they succeed in converting the mob to their whim-wham,
there remain insuperable impediments to its adoption and execution as
law. In England, as every one knows, the impediment was a ruling caste
highly skilled in the governmental function and generally trusted by a
majority of the populace--a ruling caste firmly intrenched in the House
of Lords and scarcely less powerful in the House of Commons. In France
it was a bureaucracy so securely protected by law and custom that
nothing short of a political cataclysm could shake it. In Germany and
Italy it was an aristocracy buttressed by laws cunningly designed to
nullify the numerical superiority of the mob, and by a monarchical
theory that set up a heavy counterweight to public opinion.

In the face of such adroit checks and balances it is a matter of
relative indifference whether the mob blows scalding hot or freezing
cold. Whatever the extravagance of its crazes, there remains effective
machinery for holding them in check until they spend themselves, which
is usually soon enough. Thus the English government, though
theoretically as much opposed to anarchists as the American government,
gave them cheerful asylum before the war and permitted them to preach
their lamentable notions almost without check, whereas in America they
early aroused great fears and were presently put under such
disabilities that their propaganda became almost impossible. Even in
France, where they had many converts and were frequently in eruption,
there was far more hospitality in the Germany of Bismarck's day, the
Socialists, after a brief and aberrant attempt to suppress them, were
allowed to run free, despite the fact that their doctrine was quite as
abhorrent to German official doctrine as anarchism was to American
official doctrine. The German ruling caste of those days was sheltered
behind laws and customs which enabled it to pull the teeth of Socialism,
even in the face of enormous Socialist majorities. But under a democracy
it is difficult, and often downright impossible, to oppose the popular
craze of the moment with any effect, and so there must be artificial
means of disciplining the jake-fetchers who seek to set such enthusiasms
in motion. The shivering fear of Bolshevism, visible of late among the
capitalists of America, is based upon a real danger. These capitalists
have passed through the burning fires of Rooseveltian trust-busting and
Bryanistic populism, and they know very well that half a dozen Lenines
and Trotskis, turned loose upon the plain people, would quickly recruit
a majority of them for a holy war upon capital, and that they have the
political power to make such a holy war devastating.

The amateur of popular psychology may wonder why it is that the mob, in
the face of the repressions constantly practised in the United States,
does not occasionally rise in revolt, and so get back its right to be
wooed and ravished by all sorts of mountebanks. Theoretically it has
that right, and what is more, it has the means of regaining it; nothing
could resist it if it made absolute free speech an issue in a national
campaign and voted for the candidate advocating it. But something is
overlooked here, and that is the fact that the mob has no liking for
free speech _per se_. Some of the grounds of its animosity we have
rehearsed. Others are not far to seek. One of them lies in the mob's
chronic suspicion of all advocates of ideas, born of its distaste for
ideas themselves. The mob-man cannot imagine himself throwing up his job
and deserting his home, his lodge and his speakeasy to carry a new
gospel to his fellows, and so he is inclined to examine the motives of
any other man who does so. The one motive that is intelligible to him is
the desire for profit, and he commonly concludes at once that this is
what moves the propagandist before him. His reasoning is defective, but
his conclusion is usually not far from wrong. In point of fact, idealism
is not a passion in America, but a trade; all the salient idealists make
a living at it, and some of them, for example, Dr. Bryan and the Rev.
Dr. Sunday, are commonly believed to have amassed large fortunes. For an
American to advocate a cause without any hope of private usufruct is
almost unheard of; it would be difficult to find such a man who was not
plainly insane. The most eloquent and impassioned of American idealists
are candidates for public office; on the lower levels idealism is no
more than a hand-maiden of business, like advertising or belonging to
the Men and Religion Forward Movement.

Another and very important cause of the proletarian's failure to whoop
for free speech is to be found in his barbarous delight in persecution,
regardless of the merits of the cause. The spectacle of a man exercising
the right of free speech yields, intrinsically, no joy, for there is
seldom anything dramatic about it. But the spectacle of a man being
mobbed, jailed, beaten and perhaps murdered for trying to exercise it is
a good show like any other good show, and the populace is thus not only
eager to witness it but even willing to help it along. It is therefore
quite easy to set the mob upon, say, the Bolsheviki, despite the fact
that the Bolsheviki have the professed aim of doing the mob an
incomparable service. During the late high jinks of the Postoffice and
the Department of Justice, popular opinion was always on the side of the
raiding parties. It applauded every descent upon a Socialist or pacifist
meeting, not because it was very hotly in favour of war--in fact, it was
lukewarm about war, and resisted all efforts to heat it up until
overwhelming swarms of yokel-yankers were turned upon it--but because it
was in favour of a safe and stimulating form of rough-house, with the
police helping instead of hindering. It never stopped to inquire about
the merits of the matter. All it asked for was a melodramatic raid,
followed by a noisy trial of the accused in the newspapers, and the
daily publication of sensational (and usually bogus) evidence about the
discovery of compromising literature in his wife's stockings, including
records of his receipt of $100,000 from von Bernstorff, Carranza or some
other transient hobgoblin. The celebrated O'Leary trial was typical.
After months of blood-curdling charges in the press, it turned out when
the accused got before a court that the evidence against him, on which
it was sought to convict him of a capital offence, was so feeble that it
would have scarcely sufficed to convict him of an ordinary misdemeanor,
and that most of this feeble testimony was palpably perjured.
Nevertheless, public opinion was nearly unanimously against him from
first to last, and the jury which acquitted him was almost apologetic
about its inability to give the populace the crowning happiness of a
state hanging.

Under cover of the war, of course, the business of providing such shows
prospered extraordinarily, but it is very active even in time of peace.
The surest way to get on in politics in America is to play the leading
part in a prosecution which attracts public notice. The list of
statesmen who have risen in that fashion includes the names of many of
the highest dignity, _e.g._, Hughes, Folk, Whitman, Heney, Baker and
Palmer. Every district attorney in America prays nightly that God will
deliver into his hands some Thaw, or Becker, or O'Leary, that he may get
upon the front pages and so become a governor, a United States senator,
or a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The late
crusade against W. R. Hearst, which appeared to the public as a great
patriotic movement, was actually chiefly managed by a subordinate
prosecuting officer who hoped to get high office out of it.

This last aspirant failed in his enterprise largely because he had
tackled a man who was himself of superb talents as a rouser of the
proletariat, but nine times out of ten the thing succeeds. Its success
is due almost entirely to the factor that we have mentioned, to wit, to
the circumstance that the sympathy of the public is always on the side
of the prosecution. This sympathy goes so far that it is ready to
condone the most outrageous conduct in judges and prosecuting officers,
providing only they give good shows. During the late war upon
Socialists, pacifists, anti-conscriptionists and other such heretics,
judges theoretically employed to insure fair trials engaged in the most
amazing attacks upon prisoners before them, denouncing them without
hearing them, shutting out evidence on their side and making stump
speeches to the jury against them. That conduct aroused no public
indignation; on the contrary, such judges were frequently praised in the
newspapers and a good many of them were promoted to higher courts. Even
in time of peace there is no general antipathy to that sort of thing.
At least two-thirds of our judges, federal, state and municipal, colour
their decisions with the newspaper gabble of the moment; even the
Supreme Court has shown itself delicately responsive to the successive
manias of the Uplift, which is, at bottom, no more than an organized
scheme for inventing new crimes and making noisy pursuit of new
categories of criminals. Some time ago an intelligent Mexican, after
studying our courts, told us that he was surprised that, in a land
ostensibly of liberty, so few of the notorious newspaper-wooers and
blacklegs upon the bench were assassinated. It is, in fact, rather
curious. The thing happens very seldom, and then it is usually in the
South, where the motive is not altruistic but political. That is to say,
the assassin merely desires to remove one blackleg in order to make a
place for some other blackleg. He has no objection to systematized
injustice; all he desires is that it be dispensed in favour of his own


The mob delight in melodramatic and cruel spectacles, thus constantly
fed and fostered by the judicial arm in the United States, is also at
the bottom of another familiar American phenomenon, to wit, lynching. A
good part of the enormous literature of lynching is devoted to a
discussion of its causes, but most of that discussion is ignorant and
some of it is deliberately mendacious. The majority of Southern
commentators argue that the motive of the lynchers is a laudable
yearning to "protect Southern womanhood," despite the plain fact that
only a very small proportion of the blackamoors hanged and burned are
even so much as accused of molesting Southern womanhood. On the other
hand, some of the negro intellectuals of the North ascribe the recurrent
butcheries to the Southern white man's economic jealousy of the Southern
black, who is fast acquiring property and reaching out for the
prerogatives that go therewith. Finally, certain white Northerners seek
a cause in mere political animosity, arguing that the Southern white
hates the negro because the latter is his theoretical equal at the
polls, though actually not permitted to vote.

All of these notions seem to us to be fanciful. Lynching is popular in
the South simply because the Southern populace, like any other
populace, delights in thrilling shows, and because no other sort of
show is provided by the backward culture of the region. The introduction
of prize-fighting down there, or baseball on a large scale, or amusement
places like Coney Island, or amateur athletic contests, or picnics like
those held by the more truculent Irish fraternal organizations, or any
other such wholesale devices for shocking and diverting the proletariat
would undoubtedly cause a great decline in lynching. The art is
practised, in the overwhelming main, in remote and God-forsaken regions,
in which the only rival entertainment is offered by one-sided political
campaigns, third-rate chautauquas and Methodist revivals. When it is
imitated in the North, it is always in some drab factory or mining town.
Genuine race riots, of course, sometimes occur in the larger cities, but
these are always economic in origin, and have nothing to do with
lynching, properly so-called. One could not imagine an actual lynching
at, say, Atlantic City, with ten or fifteen bands playing, blind pigs in
operation up every alley, a theatre in every block or two, and the
boardwalk swarming with ladies of joy. Even a Mississippian, transported
to such scenes, succumbs to the atmosphere of pleasure, and so has no
seizures of moral rage against the poor darkey. Lynching, in brief, is a
phenomenon of isolated and stupid communities, a mark of imperfect
civilization; it follows the hookworm and malaria belt; it shows itself
in inverse proportion to the number of shoot-the-chutes, symphony
orchestras, roof gardens, theatres, horse races, yellow journals and
automatic pianos. No one ever heard of a lynching in Paris, at Newport,
or in London. But there are incessant lynchings in the remoter parts of
Russia, in the backwoods of Serbia, Bulgaria and Herzegovina, in Mexico
and Nicaragua, and in such barbarous American states as Alabama, Georgia
and South Carolina.

The notion that lynching in the South is countenanced by the gentry or
that they take an actual hand in it is libelous and idiotic. The
well-born and well-bred Southerner is no more a savage than any other
man of condition. He may live among savages, but that no more makes him
a savage than an English gentleman is made one by having a place in
Wales, or a Russian by living on his estate in the Ukraine. What
Northern observers mistake for the gentry of the South, when they report
the participation of "leading citizens" in a lynching, is simply the
office-holding and commercial bourgeoisie--the offspring of the poor
white trash who skulked at home during the Civil War, robbing the widows
and orphans of the soldiers at the front, and so laying the foundations
of the present "industrial prosperity" of the section, _i.e._, its
conversion from a region of large landed estates and urbane life into a
region of stinking factories, filthy mining and oil towns, child-killing
cotton mills, vociferous chambers of commerce and other such swineries.
It is, of course, a fact that the average lynching party in Mississippi
or Alabama is led by the mayor and that the town judge climbs down from
his bench to give it his official support, but it is surely not a fact
that these persons are of the line of such earlier public functionaries
as Pickens, Troup and Pettus. On the contrary, they correspond to the
lesser sort of Tammany office-holders and to the vermin who monopolize
the public functions in such cities as Boston and Philadelphia. The
gentry, with few exceptions, have been forced out of the public service
everywhere south of the Potomac, if not out of politics. The Democratic
victory in 1912 flooded all the governmental posts at Washington with
Southerners, and they remain in power to this day, and some of them are
among the chief officers of the nation. But in the whole vast corps
there are, we believe, but ten who would be accepted as gentlemen by
Southern standards, and only three of these are in posts of any
importance. In the two houses of Congress there is but one.

It is thus absurd to drag the gentry of the South--the Bourbons of New
England legend--into a discussion of the lynching problem. They
represent, in fact, what remains of the only genuine aristocracy ever
visible in the United States, and lynching, on the theoretical side, is
far too moral a matter ever to engage an aristocracy. The true lynchers
are the plain people, and at the bottom of the sport there is nothing
more noble than the mob man's chronic and ineradicable poltroonery.
Cruel by nature, delighting in sanguinary spectacles, and here brought
to hatred of the negro by the latter's increasing industrial, (_not_
political, capitalistic or social) rivalry, he naturally diverts himself
in his moments of musing with visions of what he would do to this or
that Moor if he had the courage. Unluckily, he hasn't, and so he is
unable to execute his dream _a cappella_. If, inflamed by liquor, he
attempts it, the Moor commonly gives him a beating, or even murders him.
But what thus lies beyond his talents as an individual at once becomes
feasible when he joins himself with other men in a like situation. This
is the genesis of a mob of lynchers. It is composed primarily of a few
men with definite grievances, sometimes against the negro lynched but
often against quite different negroes. It is composed secondarily of a
large number of fifth-rate men eager for a thrilling show, involving no
personal danger. It is composed in the third place of a few
rabble-rousers and politicians, all of them hot to exhibit themselves
before the populace at a moment of public excitement and in an attitude
of leadership. It is the second element that gives life to the general
impulse. Without its ardent appetite for a rough and shocking spectacle
there would be no lynching. Its influence is plainly shown by the
frequent unintelligibility of the whole proceeding; all its indignation
over the crime alleged to be punished is an afterthought; any crime will
answer, once its blood is up. Thus the most characteristic lynchings in
the South are not those in which a confessed criminal is done to death
for a definite crime, but those in which, in sheer high spirits, some
convenient African is taken at random and lynched, as the newspapers
say, "on general principles." That sort of lynching is the most honest
and normal, and we are also inclined to think that it is also the most
enjoyable, for the other sort brings moral indignation with it, and
moral indignation is disagreeable. No man can be both indignant and

But here, seeking to throw a feeble beam or two of light into the mental
processes of the American proletarian, we find ourselves entering upon a
discussion that grows narrow and perhaps also dull. Lynching, after all,
is not an American institution, but a peculiarly Southern institution,
and even in the South it will die out as other more seemly recreations
are introduced. It would be quite easy, we believe, for any Southern
community to get rid of it by establishing a good brass band and having
concerts every evening. It would be even easier to get rid of it by
borrowing a few professional scoundrels from the Department of Justice,
having them raid the "study" of the local Methodist archdeacon, and
forthwith trying him publicly--with a candidate for governor as
prosecuting officer--for seduction under promise of salvation. The
trouble down there is not a special viciousness. The Southern poor
white, taking him by and large, is probably no worse and no better than
the anthropoid proletarian of the North. What ails the whole region is
Philistinism. It has lost its old aristocracy of the soil and has not
yet developed an aristocracy of money. The result is that its cultural
ideas are set by stupid and unimaginative men--Southern equivalents of
the retired Iowa steer staffers and grain sharks who pollute Los
Angeles, American equivalents of the rich English nonconformists. These
men, though they have accumulated wealth, have not yet acquired the
capacity to enjoy civilized recreations. Worse, most of them are still
so barbarous that they regard such recreations as immoral. The
dominating opinion of the South is thus against most of the devices that
would diminish lynching by providing substitutes for it. In every
Southern town some noisy clown of a Methodist or Presbyterian clergyman
exercises a local tyranny. These men are firmly against all the
divertissements of more cultured regions. They oppose prize-fighting,
horse-racing, Sunday baseball and games of chance. They are bitter
prohibitionists. By their incessant vice-crusades they reduce the
romance of sex to furtiveness and piggishness. They know nothing of
music or the drama, and view a public library merely as something to be
rigorously censored. We are convinced that their ignorant moral
enthusiasm is largely to blame for the prevalence of lynching. No doubt
they themselves are sneakingly conscious of the fact, or at least aware
of it subconsciously, for lynching is the only public amusement that
they never denounce.

Their influence reveals strikingly the readiness of the inferior
American to accept ready-made opinions. He seems to be pathetically
eager to be told what to think, and he is apparently willing to accept
any instructor who takes the trouble to tackle him. This, also, was
brilliantly revealed during the late war. The powers which controlled
the press during that fevered time swayed the populace as they pleased.
So long as the course of Dr. Wilson was satisfactory to them he was
depicted as a second Lincoln, and the plain people accepted the estimate
without question. To help reinforce it the country was actually flooded
with lithographs showing Lincoln and Wilson wreathed by the same branch
of laurel, and copies of the print got into millions of humble homes.
But immediately Dr. Wilson gave offence to his superiors, he began to be
depicted as an idiot and a scoundrel, and this judgment promptly
displaced the other one in the popular mind. The late Major General
Roosevelt was often a victim of that sort of boob-bumping. A man of
mercurial temperament, constantly shifting his position on all large
public questions, he alternately gave great joy and great alarm to the
little group of sagaciously wilful men which exercises genuine
sovereignty over the country, and this alternation of emotions showed
itself, by way of the newspapers and other such bawdy agencies, in the
vacillation of public opinion. The fundamental platitudes of the nation
were used both for him and against him, and always with immense effect.
One year he was the last living defender of the liberties fought for by
the Fathers; the next year he was an anarchist. Roosevelt himself was
much annoyed by this unreliability of the mob. Now and then he sought to
overcome it by direct appeals, but in the long run he was usually
beaten. Toward the end of his life he resigned himself to a policy of
great discretion, and so withheld his voice until he was sure what hymn
was being lined out.

The newspapers and press associations, of course, do not impart the
official doctrine of the moment in terms of forthright instructions;
they get it over, as the phrase is, in the form of delicate suggestions,
most of them under cover of the fundamental platitudes aforesaid. Their
job is not to inspire and inform public discussion, but simply to colour
it, and the task most frequently before them is that of giving a
patriotic and virtuous appearance to whatever the proletariat is to
believe. They do this, of course, to the tune of deafening protestations
of their own honesty and altruism. But there is really no such thing as
an honest newspaper in America; if it were set up tomorrow it would
perish within a month. Every journal, however rich and powerful, is the
trembling slave of higher powers, some financial, some religious and
some political. It faces a multitude of censorships, all of them very
potent. It is censored by the Postoffice, by the Jewish advertisers, by
the Catholic Church, by the Methodists, by the Prohibitionists, by the
banking oligarchy of its town, and often by even more astounding
authorities, including the Sinn Fein. Now and then a newspaper makes a
valiant gesture of revolt, but it is only a gesture. There is not a
single daily in the United States that would dare to discuss the problem
of Jewish immigration honestly. Nine tenths of them, under the lash of
snobbish Jewish advertisers, are even afraid to call a Jew a Jew; their
orders are to call him a Hebrew, which is regarded as sweeter. During
the height of the Bolshevist scare not one American paper ventured to
direct attention to the plain and obtrusive fact that the majority of
Bolshevists in Russia and Germany and at least two-thirds of those taken
in the United States were of the faith of Moses, Mendelssohn and Gimbel.
But the Jews are perhaps not the worst. The Methodists, in all save a
few big cities, exercise a control over the press that is far more rigid
and baleful. In the Anti-Saloon League they have developed a machine for
terrorizing office-holders and the newspapers that is remarkably
effective, and they employed it during the long fight for Prohibition to
throttle all opposition save the most formal.

In this last case, of course, the idealists who thus forced the
speakeasy upon the country had an easy task, for all of the prevailing
assumptions and prejudices of the mob were in their favour. No doubt it
is true, as has been alleged, that a majority of the voters of the
country were against Prohibition and would have defeated it at a
plebiscite, but equally without doubt a majority of them were against
the politicians so brutally clubbed by the Anti-Saloon League, and ready
to believe anything evil of them, and eager to see them manhandled.
Moreover, the League had another thing in its favour: it was operated by
strictly moral men, oblivious to any notion of honour. Thus it advocated
and procured the abolition of legalized liquor selling without the
slightest compensation to the men who had invested their money in the
business under cover of and even at the invitation of the law--a form of
repudiation and confiscation unheard of in any other civilized country.
Again, it got through the constitutional amendment by promising the
liquor men to give them one year to dispose of their lawfully
accumulated stocks--and then broke its promise under cover of alleged
war necessity, despite the fact that the war was actually over. Both
proceedings, so abhorrent to any man of honour, failed to arouse any
indignation among the plain people. On the contrary the plain people
viewed them as, in some vague way, smart and creditable, and as, in any
case, thoroughly justified by the superior moral obligation that we have
hitherto discussed.

Thus the _Boobus americanus_ is lead and watched over by zealous men,
all of them highly skilled at training him in the way that he should
think and act. The Constitution of his country guarantees that he shall
be a free man and assumes that he is intelligent, but the laws and
customs that have grown up under that Constitution give the lie to both
the guarantee and the assumption. It is the fundamental theory of all
the more recent American law, in fact, that the average citizen is
half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or
his own thoughts. If there were not regulations against the saloon (it
seems to say) he would get drunk every day, dissipate his means,
undermine his health and beggar his family. If there were not postal
regulations as to his reading matter, he would divide his time between
Bolshevist literature and pornographic literature and so become at once
an anarchist and a guinea pig. If he were not forbidden under heavy
penalties to cross a state line with a wench, he would be chronically
unfaithful to his wife. Worse, if his daughter were not protected by
statutes of the most draconian severity, she would succumb to the first
Italian she encountered, yield up her person to him, enroll herself upon
his staff and go upon the streets. So runs the course of legislation in
this land of freemen. We could pile up example upon example, but will
defer the business for the present. Perhaps it may be resumed in a work
one of us is now engaged upon--a full length study of the popular mind
under the republic. But that work will take years....


No doubt we should apologize for writing, even so, so long a preface to
so succinct a book. The one excuse we can think of is that, having read
it, one need not read the book. That book, as we have said, may strike
the superficial as jocular, but in actual fact it is a very serious and
even profound composition, not addressed to the casual reader, but to
the scholar. Its preparation involved a great diligence, and its study
is not to be undertaken lightly. What the psychologist will find to
admire in it, however, is not its learning and painstaking, its
laborious erudition, but its compression. It establishes, we believe, a
new and clearer method for a science long run to turgidity and
flatulence. Perhaps it may be even said to set up an entirely new
science, to wit, that of descriptive sociological psychology. We believe
that this field will attract many men of inquiring mind hereafter and
yield a valuable crop of important facts. The experimental method,
intrinsically so sound and useful, has been much abused by orthodox
psychologists; it inevitably leads them into a trackless maze of
meaningless tables and diagrams; they keep their eyes so resolutely upon
the intellectual process that they pay no heed to the primary
intellectual materials. Nevertheless, it must be obvious that the
conclusions that a man comes to, the emotions that he harbours and the
crazes that sway him are of much less significance than the fundamental
assumptions upon which they are all based.

There has been, indeed, some discussion of those fundamental assumptions
of late. We have heard, for example, many acute discourses upon the
effects produced upon the whole thinking of the German people, peasants
and professors alike, by the underlying German assumption that the late
Kaiser was anointed of God and hence above all ordinary human
responsibility. We have heard talk, too, of the curious Irish axiom
that there is a mysterious something in the nature of things, giving the
Irish people an indefeasible right to govern Ireland as they please,
regardless of the safety of their next-door neighbours. And we have
heard many outlandish principles of the same sort from political
theorists, _e.g._, regarding the inalienable right of democracy to
prevail over all other forms of government and the inalienable right of
all national groups, however small, to self-determination. Well, here is
an attempt to assemble in convenient form, without comment or
interpretation, some of the fundamental beliefs of the largest body of
human beings now under one flag in Christendom. It is but a beginning.
The field is barely platted. It must be explored to the last furlong and
all its fantastic and fascinating treasures unearthed and examined
before ever there can be any accurate understanding of the mind of the
American people.

                                     GEORGE JEAN NATHAN
                                     H.L. MENCKEN
_New York, 1920._



That the philoprogenitive instinct in rabbits is so intense that the
alliance of two normally assiduous rabbits is productive of 265
offspring in one year.


That there are hundreds of letters in the Dead Letter Office whose
failure to arrive at their intended destinations was instrumental in
separating as many lovers.


That the Italian who sells bananas on a push-cart always takes the
bananas home at night and sleeps with them under his bed.


That a man's stability in the community and reliability in business may
be measured by the number of children he has.


That in Japan an American can buy a beautiful geisha for two dollars and
that, upon being bought, she will promptly fall madly in love with him
and will run his house for him in a scrupulously clean manner.


That all sailors are gifted with an extraordinary propensity for amour,
but that on their first night of shore leave they hang around the
water-front saloons and are given knock-out drops.


That when a comedian, just before the rise of the curtain, is handed a
telegram announcing the death of his mother or only child, he goes out
on the stage and gives a more comic performance than ever.


That the lions in the cage which a lion-tamer enters are always sixty
years old and have had all their teeth pulled.


That the Siamese Twins were joined together by gutta percha moulded and
painted to look like a shoulder blade.


That if a woman about to become a mother plays the piano every day, her
baby will be born a Victor Herbert.


That all excursion boats are so old that if they ran into a drifting
beer-keg they would sink.


That a doctor knows so much about women that he can no longer fall in
love with one of them.


That when one takes one's best girl to see the monkeys in the zoo, the
monkeys invariably do something that is very embarrassing.


That firemen, awakened suddenly in the middle of the night, go to fires
in their stocking feet.


That something mysterious goes on in the rooms back of chop suey


That oil of pennyroyal will drive away mosquitoes.


That the old ladies on summer hotel verandas devote themselves entirely
to the discussion of scandals.


That a bachelor, expecting a feminine visitor, by way of subtle
preliminary strategy smells up his rooms with Japanese punk.


That all one has to do to gather a large crowd in New York is to stand
on the curb a few moments and gaze intently at the sky.


That one can get an excellent bottle of wine in France for a franc.


That it is dangerous to drink out of a garden hose, since if one does
one is likely to swallow a snake.


That all male negroes can sing.


That when a girl enters a hospital as a nurse, her primary object is
always to catch one of the doctors.


That the postmasters in small towns read all the postcards.


That a young girl ought to devote herself sedulously to her piano
lessons since, when she is married, her playing will be a great comfort
to her husband.


That all theater box-office employés are very impolite and hate to sell
a prospective patron a ticket.


That all great men have illegible signatures.


That all iron-moulders and steam-fitters, back in the days of freedom,
used to get drunk every Saturday night.


That if a man takes a cold bath regularly every morning of his life he
will never be ill.


That ginger snaps are made of the sweepings of the floor in the bakery.


That every circus clown's heart is breaking for one reason or another.


That a bull-fighter always has so many women in love with him that he
doesn't know what to do.


That George M. Cohan spends all his time hanging around Broadway cafés
and street-corners making flip remarks.


That one can never tell accurately what the public wants.


That every time one sat upon an old-fashioned horse-hair sofa one of the
protruding sharp hairs would stab one through the union suit.


That when an ocean vessel collides with another vessel or hits an
iceberg and starts to sink, the ship's band promptly rushes up to the
top deck and begins playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee."


That in no town in America where it has played has "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
ever failed to make money.


That the tenement districts are the unhealthy places they are because
the dwellers hang their bed-clothing out on the fire-escapes.


That, in small town hotels, the tap marked "hot water" always gives
forth cold water and that the tap marked "cold" always gives forth hot.


That every lieutenant in the American army who went to France had an
affair with a French comtesse.


That when cousins marry, their children are born blind, deformed, or


That a cat falling from the twentieth story of the Singer Building will
land upon the pavement below on its feet, uninjured and as frisky as


That the accumulation of great wealth always brings with it great


That it is unlucky to count the carriages in a funeral.


That the roulette wheel at Monte Carlo is controlled by a wire as thin
as a hair which is controlled in turn by a button hidden beneath the rug
near the operator's great toe.


That Polish women are so little human that one of them can have a baby
at 8 A.M. and cook her husband's dinner at noon.


That Henry James never wrote a short sentence.


That it is bad luck to kill a spider.


That German peasants are possessed of a profound knowledge of music.


That every coloured cook has a lover who never works, and that she feeds
him by stealing the best part of every dish she cooks.


That George Bernard Shaw doesn't really believe anything he writes.


That the music of Richard Wagner is all played _fortissimo_, and by


That the Masonic order goes back to the days of King Solomon.


That swearing is forbidden by the Bible.


That all newspaper reporters carry notebooks.


That whiskey is good for snake-bite.


That surgeons often kill patients for the sheer pleasure of it.


That ten drops of camphor in half a glass of water will prevent a cold.


That the first thing a country jake does when he comes to New York is to
make a bee line for Grant's Tomb and the Aquarium.


That if one's nose tickles it is a sign that one is going to meet a
stranger or kiss a fool.


That if one's right ear burns, it is a sign that some one is saying nice
things about one.


That if one's left ear burns, it is a sign that some one is saying mean
things about one.


That French women use great quantities of perfume in lieu of taking a


That a six-footer is invariably a virtuoso of amour superior to a man
of, say, five feet seven.


That a soubrette is always fifteen or twenty years older than she looks.


That what impels most men to have their finger-nails manicured is a
vanity for having manicured finger-nails.


That water rots the hair and thus causes baldness.


That when one twin dies, the other twin becomes exceedingly melancholy
and soon also dies.


That one may always successfully get a cinder out of the eye by not
touching the eye, but by rolling it in an outward direction and
simultaneously blowing the nose.


That if one wears light weight underwear winter and summer the year
'round, one will never catch a cold.


That a drunken man is invariably more bellicose than a sober man.


That all prize-fighters and baseball players have their hair cut round
in the back.


That the work of a detective calls for exceptionally high sagacity and


That on the first day of the season in the pleasure parks many persons,
owing to insufficiently tested apparatus, are regularly killed on the


That a play, a novel, or a short story with a happy ending is
necessarily a commercialized and inartistic piece of work.


That a person who follows up a cucumber salad with a dish of ice-cream
will inevitably be the victim of cholera morbus.


That a Sunday School superintendent is always carrying on an intrigue
with one of the girls in the choir.


That it is one of the marks of a gentleman that he never speaks evil of
a woman.


That a member of the Masons cannot be hanged.


That a policeman can eat _gratis_ as much fruit and as many peanuts off
the street-corner stands as he wants.


That the real President of the United States is J. P. Morgan.


That onion breath may be promptly removed by drinking a little milk.


That onion breath may be promptly removed by eating a little parsley.


That Catholic priests conduct their private conversations in Latin.


That John Drew is a great society man.


That all Swedes are stupid fellows, and have very thick skulls.


That all the posthumously printed stories of David Graham Phillips and
Jack London have been written by hacks hired by the magazine editors and


That a man like Charles Schwab, who has made a great success of the
steel business, could in the same way easily have become a great
composer like Bach or Mozart had he been minded thus to devote his


That the man who doesn't hop promptly to his feet when the orchestra
plays "The Star Spangled Banner" as an overture to Hurtig and Seamon's
"Hurly-Burly Girlies" must have either rheumatism or pro-German


That every workman in Henry Ford's factory owns a pretty house in the
suburbs and has a rose-garden in the back-yard.


That all circus people are very pure and lead domestic lives.


That if a spark hits a celluloid collar, the collar will explode.


That when a bachelor who has hated children for twenty years gets
married and discovers he is about to become a father, he is delighted.


That drinking three drinks of whiskey a day will prevent pneumonia.


That every negro who went to France with the army had a liaison with a
white woman and won't look at a nigger wench any more.


That all Russians have unpronounceable names.


That awnings keep rooms cool.


That it is very difficult to decipher a railroad time-table.


That gamblers may always be identified by their habit of wearing large


That when a man embarks in a canoe with a girl, the chances are two to
one that the girl will move around when the boat is in mid-stream and
upset it.


That German babies are brought up on beer in place of milk.


That a man with two shots of cocaine in him could lick Jack Dempsey.


That fully one half the repertoire of physical ailments is due to uric


That a woman, when buying a cravat for a man, always picks out one of
green and purple with red polka-dots.


That a negro's vote may always be readily bought for a dollar.


That cripples always have very sunny dispositions.


That if one drops a crust of bread into one's glass of champagne, one
can drink indefinitely without getting drunk.


That a brass band always makes one feel like marching.


That, when shaving on a railway train, a man invariably cuts himself.


That the male Spaniard is generally a handsome, flashing-eyed fellow,
possessed of fiery temper.


That after drinking a glass of absinthe one has peculiar hallucinations
and nightmares.


That since the Indians were never bald, baldness comes from wearing
tight hats.


That all wine-agents are very loose men.


That the editor of a woman's magazine is always a lizzie.


That what is contained in the pitcher on the speakers' platform is
always ice-water.


That all Senators from Texas wear sombreros, chew tobacco, expectorate
profusely, and frequently employ the word "maverick."


That the meters on taxicabs are covertly manipulated by the chauffeurs
by means of wires hidden under the latters' seats.


That Lillian Russell is as beautiful today as she was thirty-five years


That if a young woman can hold a lighted match in her fingers until it
completely burns up, it is a sign that her young man really loves her.


That if a young woman accidentally puts on her lingerie wrong side out,
it is a sign that she will be married before the end of the year.


That if a bride wears an old garter with her new finery, she will have a
happy married life.


That a sudden chill is a sign that somebody is walking over one's grave.


That some ignoble Italian is at the bottom of every Dorothy Arnold


That a tarantula will not crawl over a piece of rope.


That millionaires always go to sleep at the opera.


That Paderewski can get all the pianos he wants for nothing.


That a bloodhound never makes a mistake.


That celery is good for the nerves.


That the jokes in _Punch_ are never funny.


That the Mohammedans are heathens.


That a sudden shock may cause the hair to turn grey over night.


That the farmer is an honest man, and greatly imposed upon.


That all the antique furniture sold in America is made in Grand Rapids,
Mich., and that the holes testifying to its age are made either with
gimlets or by trained worms.


That if a dog is fond of a man it is an infallible sign that the man is
a good sort, and one to be trusted.


That blondes are flightier than brunettes.


That a nurse, however ugly, always looks beautiful to the sick man.


That book-keepers are always round-shouldered.


That if one touches a hop-toad, one will get warts.


That a collar-button that drops to the floor when one is dressing
invariably rolls into an obscure and inaccessible spot and eludes the
explorations of its owner.


That an American ambassador has the French, German, Italian, Spanish,
Portuguese, Russian and Japanese languages at his finger tips, and is
chummy with royalty.


That the ready-made mail order blue serge suits for men are put together
with mucilage, and turn green after they have been in the sunlight for a
day or two.


That if one has only three matches left, the first two will invariably
go out, but that the third and last will remain lighted.


That all Chinamen smoke opium.


That every country girl who falls has been seduced by a man from the


That an intelligent prize-fighter always triumphs over an ignorant
prize-fighter, however superior the latter in agility and strength.


That a doctor's family never gets sick.


That nature designed a horse's tail primarily as a flicker-off of flies.


That nicotine keeps the teeth in a sound condition.


That when an Odd Fellow dies he is always given a magnificent funeral by
his lodge, including a band and a parade.


That the man who is elected president of the Senior Class in a college
is always the most popular man in his class.


That a minor actress in a theatrical company always considers the
leading man a superb creature, and loves him at a distance.


That a Southern levee is a gay place.


That when a dog whines in the middle of the night, it is a sure sign
that some one is going to die.


That the stenographer in a business house is always coveted by her
employer, who invites her to luncheon frequently, gradually worms his
way into her confidence, keeps her after office hours one day,
accomplishes her ruin, and then sets her up in a magnificently furnished
apartment in Riverside Drive and appeases her old mother by paying the
latter's expenses for a summer holiday with her daughter at the


That the extinction of the Indian has been a deplorable thing.


That everybody has a stomach-ache after Thanksgiving dinner.


That, in summer, tan shoes are much cooler on the feet than black shoes.


That every man who calls himself Redmond is a Jew whose real name is


That General Grant never directed a battle save with a cigar in his


That there is something slightly peculiar about a man who wears spats.


That the more modest a young girl is, the more innocent she is.


That what a woman admires above everything else in a man is an upright


That seafaring men drink nothing but rum.


That no family in the slums has less than six children.


That a piece of camphor worn on a string around the neck will ward off


That a saloon with a sign reading "Family Entrance" on its side door
invariably has a bawdy house upstairs.


That the wife of a rich man always wistfully looks back into the past
and wishes she had married a poor man.


That all persons prominent in smart society are very dull.


That when ordering a drink of whiskey at a bar, a man always used to
instruct the bartender as to the size of the drink he desired by saying
"two fingers" or "three fingers."


That all the wine formerly served in Italian restaurants was made in the
cellar, and was artificially coloured with some sort of dye that was
very harmful to the stomach.


That bootblacks whistle because they are so happy.


That stokers on ocean liners are from long service so used to the heat
of the furnaces that they don't notice it.


That what draws men to horse races is love of the sport.


That tarantulas often come from the tropics in bunches of bananas, and
that when one of them stings a negro on the wharf he swells up, turns
green and dies within three hours.


That a man will do anything for the woman he loves.


That the reason William Gillette, who has been acting for over forty
years, always smokes cigars in the parts he plays is because he is very
nervous when on the stage.


That the doughnut is an exceptionally indigestible article.


That one captive balloon in every two containing persons on pleasure
bent breaks away from its moorings, and drifts out to sea.


That a workingman always eats what is in his dinnerpail with great


That children were much better behaved twenty years ago than they are


That the cashier of a restaurant in adding up a customer's cheque always
adds a dollar which is subsequently split between himself and the


That it is impossible to pronounce the word "statistics" without


That the profession of white slaving, in 1900 controlled exclusively by
Chinamen, has since passed entirely under the control of Italians.


That every person in the Riviera lives in a "villa."


That the chief form of headgear among the Swiss is the Alpine hat.


That each year a man volunteers to take his children to the circus
merely as a subterfuge to go himself.


That all marriages with actresses turn out badly.


That San Francisco is a very gay place, and full of opium joints.


That an elevator operator never succeeds in stopping his car on a level
with the floor.


That they don't make any pianos today as good as the old square ones.


That a man who habitually clears his throat before he speaks is
generally a self-important hypocrite and a bluffer.


That Maurice Maeterlinck, the Belgian Dr. Frank Crane, leads a monastic


That whenever a vaudeville comedian quotes a familiar commercial slogan,
such as "His Master's Voice," or "Eventually, why not now?", he is paid
$50 a performance for doing so.


That all Asiatic idols have large precious rubies in their foreheads.


That when the foe beheld Joan of Arc leading the French army against
them, a look of terror froze their features and that, casting their arms
from them, they broke into a frenzied and precipitate flight.


That the late King Edward VII as Prince of Wales easily got every girl
he wanted.


That the penitentiaries of the United States contain a great number of
hapless prisoners possessed of a genuine gift for poetry.


That if a cat gets into a room where a baby is sleeping, the cat will
suck the baby's breath and kill it.


That all men named Clarence, Claude or Percy are sissies.


That a street car conductor steals every fifth nickel.


That the security of a bank is to be estimated in proportion to the
solidity of the bank building.


That seventy-five per cent of all taxicab drivers have at one time or
another been in Sing Sing.


That one can buy a fine suit of clothes in London for twelve dollars.


That the chicken salad served in restaurants is always made of veal.


That a play without a bed in it never makes any money in Paris.


That Conan Doyle would have made a wonderful detective.


That an oyster-shucker every month or so discovers a pearl which he goes
out and sells for five hundred dollars.


That a napkin is always wrapped around a champagne bottle for the
purpose of hiding the label, and that the quality of the champagne may
be judged by the amount of noise the cork makes when it is popped.


That because a married woman remains loyal to her husband she loves him.


That every time one blows oneself to a particularly expensive cigar and
leans back to enjoy oneself with a good smoke after a hearty and
satisfying dinner, the cigar proceeds to burn down the side.


That when a police captain goes on a holiday he always gets boilingly


That an Italian puts garlic in everything he eats, including coffee.


That if one hits a negro on the head with a cobblestone, the cobblestone
will break.


That all nuns have entered convents because of unfortunate love


That, being surrounded by alcoholic beverages and believing the
temptation would be irresistible once he began, a bartender in the old
days never took a drink.


That all millionaires are born in small ramshackle houses situated near
railroad tracks.


That farmers afford particularly easy prey for book-agents and are the
largest purchasers of cheap sets of Guy de Maupassant, Rudyard Kipling
and O. Henry.


That George Washington never told a lie.


That a dark cigar is always a strong one.


That the night air is poisonous.


That a hair from a horse's tail, if put into a bottle of water, will
turn into a snake.


That champagne is the best of all wines.


That it snowed every Christmas down to fifteen years ago.


That if a young woman finds a piece of tea leaf floating around the top
of her tea cup, it is a sign that she will be married before the end of
the year.


That if, after one lusty blow, a girl's birthday cake reveals nine
candles still burning, it is a sign that it will be nine years before
she gets married.


That if, while promenading, a girl and her escort walk on either side of
a water hydrant or other obstruction instead of both walking 'round it
on the same side, they will have a misunderstanding before the month is


That it is unlikely that a man and woman who enter a hotel without
baggage after 10 P.M. and register are man and wife.


That all country girls have clear, fresh, rosy complexions.


That chorus girls spend the time during the entr'-actes sitting around
naked in their dressing-rooms telling naughty stories.


That many soldiers' lives have been saved in battle by bullets lodging
in Bibles which they have carried in their breast pockets.


That each year the Fourth of July exodus to the bathing beaches on the
part of persons from the city establishes a new record.


That women with red hair or wide nostrils are possessed of especially
passionate natures.


That three-fourths of the inhabitants of Denver are lungers who have
gone there for the mountain air.


That, when sojourning in Italy, one always feels very lazy.


That the people of Johnstown, Pa., still talk of nothing but the flood.


That there is no finer smell in the world than that of burning autumn


That Jules Verne anticipated all the great modern inventions.


That a man is always a much heartier eater than a woman.


That all the girls in Mr. Ziegfeld's "Follies" are extraordinarily
seductive, and that at least 40 head of bank cashiers are annually
guilty of tapping the till in order to buy them diamonds and Russian


That a college sophomore is always a complete ignoramus.


That rubbers in wet weather are a preventive of colds.


That if one eats oysters in a month not containing an "r," one is
certain to get ptomaine poisoning.


That a woman with a 7-1/2-C foot always tries to squeeze it into a
4-1/2-A shoe.


That no shop girl ever reads anything but Laura Jean Libbey and the
cheap sex magazines.


That there is something peculiar about a man who wears a red tie.


That all Bolsheviki and Anarchists have whiskers.


That all the millionaires of Pittsburgh are very loud fellows, and raise
merry hell with the chorus girls every time they go to New York.


That a man of fifty-five is always more experienced than a man of


That new Bermuda potatoes come from Bermuda.


That the boy who regularly stands at the foot of his class in school
always turns out in later life to be very successful.


That the ornamental daggers fashioned out of one hundred dollars' worth
of Chinese coins strung together, which one buys in Pekin or Hong Kong
for three dollars and a quarter, are fashioned out of one hundred
dollars' worth of Chinese coins.


That it is hard to find any one in Hoboken, N.J., who can speak English.


That the head-waiter in a fashionable restaurant has better manners than
any other man in the place.


That a girl always likes best the man who is possessed of a cavalier


That the most comfortable room conceivable is one containing a great big
open fireplace.


That brunettes are more likely to grow stout in later years than


That a sepia photograph of the Coliseum, framed, is a work of art.


That every time one crosses the English Channel one encounters rough
weather and is very sea-sick.


That the Navajo blankets sold to trans-continental tourists by the
Indians on the station platform at Albuquerque, New Mexico, are made by
the Elite Novelty M'f'g. Co. of Passaic, N.J., and are bought by the
Indians in lots of 1,000.


That appendicitis is an ailment invented by surgeons twelve years ago
for money-making purposes and that, in the century before that time, no
one was ever troubled with it.


That a theatrical matinée performance is always inferior to an evening
performance, the star being always eager to hurry up the show in order
to get a longer period for rest before the night performance.


That John D. Rockefeller would give his whole fortune for a digestion
good enough to digest a cruller.


That a clergyman leads an easy and lazy life, and spends most of his
time visiting women parishioners while their husbands are at work.


That it is almost sure death to eat cucumbers and drink milk at the same


That all bank cashiers, soon or late, tap the till.


That the members of fashionable church choirs, during the sermon,
engage in kissing and hugging behind the pipe-organ.


That women who are in society never pay any attention to their children,
and wish that they would die.


That if one gets one's feet wet, one is sure to catch cold.


That all French women are very passionate, and will sacrifice everything
to love.


That when a drunken man falls he never hurts himself.


That all Chinese laundrymen sprinkle their laundry by taking a mouthful
of water and squirting it out at their wash in a fine spray; and that,
whatever the cost of living to a white man, the Chinese laundryman
always lives on eight cents a day.


That if one fixes a savage beast with one's eye, the beast will remain
rooted to the spot and presently slink away.


That if one eats cucumbers and then goes in swimming, one will be seized
with a cramp.


That hiccoughs may be stopped by counting slowly up to one hundred.


That newspaper reporters hear, every day, a great many thumping scandals
that they fail to print, and that they refrain through considerations of


That the young East Side fellow who plays violin solos at the
moving-picture theatre around the corner is so talented that, if he had
the money to go to Europe to study, he would be a rival to Kreisler
within three years.


That Paderewski, during the piano-playing days, wore a wig, and was
actually as bald as a coot.


That lightning never strikes twice in the same place.


That when a doctor finds there is nothing the matter with a man who has
come to consult him, he never frankly tells the man there's nothing
wrong with him, but always gives him bread pills.


That, in a family crisis, the son always sticks to the mother and the
daughter to the father.


That beer is very fattening.


That no man of first-rate mental attainments ever goes in for dancing.


That a woman can't sharpen a lead pencil.


That on every trans-Atlantic steamer there are two smooth gamblers who,
the moment the ship docks, sneak over the side with the large sum of
money they have won from the passengers.


That if one gets out of bed on the left side in the morning, one has a
mean disposition for the rest of the day.


That a woman who has led a loose life is so grateful for the respect
shown her by the man who asks her to marry him that she makes the best
kind of wife.


That fish is a brain food.


That street-corner beggars have a great deal of money hidden away at
home under the kitchen floor.


That it is advisable for a young woman who takes gas when having a tooth
pulled to be accompanied by some one, by way of precaution against the


That all girls educated in convents turn out in later life to be


That a young girl may always safely be trusted with the kind of man who
speaks of his mother.


That a nine-year-old boy who likes to play with toy steam engines is
probably a born mechanical genius and should be educated to be an


That all celebrated professional humourists are in private life heavy
and witless fellows.


That when one stands close to the edge of a dizzy altitude, one is
seized peculiarly with an impulse to jump off.


That if one eats an apple every night before retiring, one will never be


That all negroes born south of the Potomac can play the banjo and are
excellent dancers.


That whenever a negro is educated he refuses to work and becomes a


That whenever an Italian begins to dress like an American and to drive a
Dodge car, it is a sign he has taken to black-handing or has acquired an
interest in the white-slave trust.


That, in the days when there were breweries, the men who drove
beer-wagons drank 65 glasses of beer a head a day, and that it didn't
hurt them because it came direct from the wood.


That, until the time of American intervention, the people of the
Philippines were all cannibals, and displayed the heads of their fallen
enemies on poles in front of their houses.


That whenever a crowd of boys goes camping in summer two or three of
them are drowned, and the rest come home suffering from poison ivy.


That whenever a will case gets into the courts, the lawyers gobble all
the money, and the heirs come out penniless.


That every female moving-picture star carries on an intrigue with her
leading man, and will marry him as soon as he can get rid of his poor
first wife, who took in washing in order to pay for his education in the
art of acting.


That all theatrical managers are Jews, and that most of them can
scarcely speak English.


That a great many of women's serious diseases are due to high French


That if one does not scratch a mosquito bite, it will stop itching.


That when a girl gives a man a pen-knife for a present, their friendship
will come to an unhappy end unless he exercises the precaution to ward
off bad luck by giving her a penny.


That whenever one takes an umbrella with one, it doesn't rain.


That the cloth used in suits made in England is so good that it never
wears out.


That cinnamon drops are coloured red with a dye-stuff manufactured out
of the dried bodies of cochineal insects.


That the missionaries in China and Africa make fortunes robbing the
natives they are sent out to convert.


That there is a revolution in Central America every morning before
breakfast, and that the sole object of all the revolutionary chiefs is
to seize the money in the public treasury and make off to Paris.


That whenever there is a funeral in an Irish family the mourners all get
drunk and proceed to assault one another with clubs.


That all immigrants come to America in search of liberty, and that when
they attempt to exercise it they should be immediately sent back.


That whenever a rich American girl marries a foreign nobleman, he at
once gets hold of all her money, then beats her and then runs away with
an actress.


That if one begins eating peanuts one cannot stop.


That a bachelor never has any one to sew the buttons on his clothes.


That whenever a dog wags his tail it is a sign that he is particularly


That an Italian street labourer can do a hard day's work on one large
plate of spaghetti a day.


That if one breaks a mirror one will have bad luck for seven years.


That two men seldom agree that the same girl is good-looking.


That in the infinitesimal space of time between the springing of the
trap-door and his dropping through it, a hanged man sees his entire life
pass in panorama before him.


That when Washington crossed the Delaware, he stood up in the bow of the
boat holding aloft a large American flag.


That whereas a man always hopes his first child will be a boy, his wife
always hopes that it will be a girl.


That the first time a boy smokes a cigar he always becomes deathly sick.


That a woman always makes a practice of being deliberately late in
keeping an appointment with a man.


That if, encountering a savage beast in the jungle, one falls upon the
ground, lies still and pretends that one is dead, the savage beast will
promptly make off and not hurt one.


That if one sits in front of the Café de la Paix, in Paris, one will
soon or late see everybody in the world that one knows.


That it is always twice as hard to get rid of a summer cold as to get
rid of a winter cold.


That a soft speaking voice is the invariable mark of a well-bred man.


That the persons who most vociferously applaud the playing of "Dixie" in
restaurants are all Northerners who have never been further South than
Allentown, Pa.


That the larger the dog, the safer he is for children.


That Catholic priests never solicit money from their parishioners, but
merely assess them so much a head, and make them pay up instantly.


That nine times in ten when one is in pain, and a doctor assures one
that he is squirting morphine into one's arm, what he is really
squirting in is only warm water.


That a German civilian, before the war, had to get off the sidewalk
whenever an army lieutenant approached him on the street, and that, if
he failed to do so instantly, the lieutenant was free to run him through
with his sword.


That while it may be possible, in every individual case of spiritualist
communication with the dead, to prove fraud by the medium, the
accumulated effect of such communications is to demonstrate the
immortality of the soul.


That an Italian who earns and saves $1,000 in America can take the money
home, invest it in an estate, and live like a rich man thereafter.


That all Mormons, despite the laws against it, still practise polygamy,
and that they have agents all over the world recruiting cuties for their


That when a man goes to a photographer's to have his picture taken, the
knowledge that he is having his picture taken always makes him very
self-conscious, thus causing him to assume an expression which results
in the photograph being an inaccurate likeness.


That if the lower line on the palm of one's hand is a long one, it is a
sign that one is going to live to a ripe old age.


That Italian counts, before the war, always used to make their expenses
when they came to America by acting as wine agents.


That a Russian peasant, in the days of the czar, drank two quarts of
vodka a day.


That a German farmer can raise more produce on one acre of land than an
American can raise on a hundred.


That a boil on the neck purifies the blood and is worth $1,000.


That whenever a Frenchman comes home unexpectedly, some friend of the
family makes a quick sneak out of the back door.


That every negro servant girl spends at least half of her wages on
preparations for taking the kink out of her hair.


That the licorice candy sold in cheap candy stores is made of old rubber


That if a boy is given all he wants to drink at home he will not drink
when he is away from home.


That the second-class passengers on a trans-Atlantic steamship always
have more fun than the first-class passengers.


That a drunken man always pronounces every "s" as "sh."


That champagne will prevent seasickness.


That thin wrists and slender ankles are unmistakable signs of
aristocratic breeding.


That when one asks a girl to go canoeing she always brings along a
bright red or yellow sofa cushion.


That when a woman buys cigars for a man she always judges the quality of
the cigars by the magnificence of the cigar-bands.


That candle light makes a woman forty-five years old look fifteen years


That the winters in the United States are a good deal less cold than
they used to be, and that the change has been caused by the Gulf Stream.


That the Thursday matinées given by Chauncey Olcott are attended only by
Irish servant girls.


That the reason the British authorities didn't lock up Bernard Shaw
during the war was because they were afraid of his mind.


That Professor Garner is able to carry on long and intimate
conversations with monkeys in their own language.


That oysters are a great aphrodisiac.


That if one sleeps with one's head on a high pillow one will be


That coal miners get so dirty that they have to wash so often that they
are the cleanest working-men in the world.


That the average French housewife can make such a soup out of the
contents of a garbage-can that the eater will think he is at the Ritz.


That such authors as Dr. Frank Crane and Herbert Kaufman do not really
believe what they write, but print it simply for the money that is in


That the average newspaper cartoonist makes $100,000 a year.


That when a play is given in an insane asylum the inmates always laugh
at the tragic moments and cry at the humorous moments.


That if a girl takes the last cake off a plate she will die an old maid.


That men high in public affairs always read detective stories for


That the wireless news bulletins posted daily on ocean liners are made
up on board.


That the Swiss, when they sing, always yodel.


That all German housewives are very frugal.


That if one holds a buttercup under a person's chin and a yellow light
is reflected upon that person's chin, it is a sign that he likes butter.


That all penny-in-the-slot weighing machines make a fat woman lighter
and a thin woman heavier.


That in the period just before a woman's baby is born the woman's face
takes on a peculiar spiritual and holy look.


That when a Chinese laundryman hands one a slip for one's laundry, the
Chinese letters which he writes on the slip have nothing to do with the
laundry but are in reality a derogatory description of the owner.


That an old woman with rheumatism in her leg can infallibly predict when
it is going to rain.


That Philadelphia is a very sleepy town.


That it is impossible for a man to learn how to thread a needle.


That there is something unmanly about a grown man playing the piano,
save only when he plays it in a bordello.


That a couple of quinine pills, with a chaser of rye whiskey, will cure
a cold.


That all Congressmen who voted for Prohibition are secret lushers and
have heavy stocks of all sorts of liquors in their cellars.


That a certain Exalted Personage in Washington is a gay dog with the
ladies and used to cut up with a stock company actress.


That all the best cooks are men.


That all Japanese butlers are lieutenants in the Japanese Navy and that
they read and copy all letters received by the folks they work for.


That the best way to stop nose-bleed is to drop a door-key down the
patient's back.


That a thunder-storm will cause milk to turn sour.


That if a man drinks three glasses of buttermilk every day he will never
be ill.


That whenever two Indians meet they greet each other with the word


That the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States all chew
tobacco while hearing cases, but that they are very serious men
otherwise, and never laugh, or look at a pretty girl, or get tight.


That all negro prize-fighters marry white women, and that they afterward
beat them.


That New Orleans is a very gay town and full of beautiful French


That gin is good for the kidneys.


That the English lower classes are so servile that they say "Thank you,
sir," if one kicks them in the pantaloons.


That the gipsies who go about the country are all horse-thieves, and
that they will put a spell upon the cattle of any farmer who has them
arrested for stealing his mare.


That every bachelor of easy means has an illicit affair with a grass
widow in a near-by city and is the father of several illegitimate


That a country editor receives so many presents of potatoes, corn,
rutabagas, asparagus, country ham, carrots, turnips, etc., that he never
has to buy any food.


That whenever news reached him of another Federal disaster Abraham
Lincoln would laugh it off with a very funny and often somewhat smutty
story, made up on the spot.


That George Washington died of a heavy cold brought on by swimming the
Potomac in the heart of winter to visit a yellow girl on the Maryland


That all negroes who show any intelligence whatever are actually
two-thirds white, and the sons of United States Senators.


That the late King Leopold of Belgium left 350 illegitimate children.


That Senator Henry Cabot Lodge is a very brainy man, though somewhat
stuck up.


That if one eats ice-cream after lobster one will be doubled up by


That Quakers, for all their religion, are always very sharp traders and
have a great deal of money hidden away in banks.


That old baseball players always take to booze, and so end their days
either as panhandlers, as night watchmen or as janitors of Odd Fellows'


That the object of the players, in college football, is to gouge out one
another's eyes and pull off one another's ears.


That the sort of woman who carries around a Pomeranian dog, if she
should ever have a child inadvertently, would give the midwife $500 to
make away with it.


That a woman likes to go to a bargain sale, fight her way to the
counter, and have pins stuck into her and her feet mashed by other


That, if one swallows an ounce of olive oil before going to a banquet,
one will not get drunk.


That a mud-turtle is so tenacious of life that if one cuts off his head
a new one will grow in its place.


That the only things farmers read are government documents and
patent-medicine almanacs.


That if one's ear itches it is a sign that some one is talking of one.


That Italian children, immediately they leave the cradle, are sewed into
their underclothes, and that they never get a bath thereafter until they
are confirmed.


That all Catholic priests are very hearty eaters, and have good wine


That politics in America would be improved by turning all the public
offices over to business men.


That department store sales are always fakes, and that they mark down a
few things to attract the women and then swindle them by lifting the
prices on things they actually want.


That 100,000 abortions are performed in Chicago every year.


That John D. Rockefeller has a great mind, and would make a fine
President if it were not for his craze for money.


That all the Jews who were drafted during the late war were put into the
Quartermaster's Department on account of their extraordinary business


That a jury never convicts a pretty woman.


That chorus girls in the old days got so tired of drinking champagne
that the sound of a cork popping made them shudder.


That the Massachusetts troops, after the first battle of Bull Run,
didn't stop running until they reached Harrisburg, Pa.


That General Grant was always soused during a battle, and that on the
few occasions when he was sober he got licked.


That the late King Edward used to carry on in Paris at such a gait that
he shocked even the Parisians.


That it takes an Englishman two days to see a joke, and that he always
gets it backward even then.


That headwaiters in fashionable hotels make $100 a day.


That if a bat flies into a woman's hair, the hair must be cut off to get
it out.


That all the women in Chicago have very large feet.


That on cold nights policemen always sneak into stables on their beats
and go to sleep.


That all the school-boys in Boston have bulged brows, wear large
spectacles and can read Greek.


That all dachshunds come from Germany.


That nine out of every ten Frenchmen have syphilis.


That the frankfurters sold at circuses and pleasure parks are made of
dog meat.


That all the cheaper brands of cigarettes are sophisticated with drugs,
and in time cause those who smoke them to get softening of the brain.


That rock-and-rye will cure a cold.


That a country boy armed with a bent pin can catch more fish than a city
angler with the latest and most expensive tackle.


That red-haired girls are especially virulent.


That all gamblers eventually go broke.


That the worst actress in the company is always the manager's wife.


That an elephant in a circus never forgets a person who gives him a
chew of tobacco or a rotten peanut, but will single him out from a crowd
years afterward and bash in his head with one colossal blow.


That it is unlucky to put your hat on a bed.


That an old sock makes the best wrapping for a sore throat.


That lighting three cigarettes with one match will bring some terrible
calamity upon one or other of the three smokers.


That milking a cow is an operation demanding a special talent that is
possessed only by yokels, and that a person born in a large city can
never hope to acquire it.


That whenever there is a rough-house during a strike, it is caused by
foreign anarchists who are trying to knock out American idealism.


That, whatever the demerits of Jews otherwise, they are always very kind
to their old parents.


That the Swiss army, though small, is so strong that not even the German
army in its palmy days could have invaded Switzerland, and that it is
strong because all Swiss are patriots to the death.


That when two Frenchmen fight a duel, whether with pistols or with
swords, neither of them is ever hurt half so much as he would have been
had he fought an honest American wearing boxing-gloves.


That whenever Prohibition is enforced in a region populated by negroes,
they take to morphine, heroin and other powerful drugs, and begin
murdering all of the white inhabitants.


That all the great writers of the world now use typewriters.


That all Presidents of the United States get many hot tips on the
stock-market, but that they are too honourable to play them, and so turn
them over to their wives, who make fortunes out of them.


That Elihu Root is an intellectual giant, and that it is a pity the
suspicion of him among farmers makes it impossible to elect him


That no man not a sissy can ever learn to thread a needle or darn a


That all glass blowers soon or late die of consumption.


That all women who go in bathing at the French seaside resorts affect
very naughty one-piece bathing suits.


That George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin can only play the piano with one


That farmers always go into gold mine swindles because of the
magnificently embossed stock certificates.


That the Germans eat six regular meals a day, and between times stave
off their appetite with numerous Schweitzer cheese sandwiches, blutwurst
and beer.


That David Belasco teaches his actresses how to express emotion by
knocking them down and pulling them around the stage by the hair.


That only Americans travel in the first class carriages of foreign
railway trains, and that fashionable Englishmen always travel third


That the whiskey sold in blind pigs contains wood alcohol and causes
those who drink it to go blind.


That wealthy society women never wear their pearl necklaces in public,
but always keep them at home in safes and wear indistinguishable
imitations instead.


That the late Charles Yerkes had no less than twenty girls, for each of
whom he provided a Fifth Avenue mansion and a yearly income of $50,000.


That when one goes to a railroad station to meet some one, the train is
never on time.


That the theatregoers in the Scandinavian countries care for nothing but
Ibsen and Strindberg.


That all doctors write prescriptions illegibly.


That Englishwomen are very cold.


That when the weather man predicts rain it always turns out fair, and
that when he predicts fair it always rains.


That lemon juice will remove freckles.


That if a woman wears a string of amber beads she will never get a sore


That no well-bred person ever chews gum.


That all actors sleep till noon, and spend the afternoon calling on


That the men who make sauerkraut press it into barrels by jumping on it
with their bare feet.


That the moment a nigger gets eight dollars, he goes to a dentist and
has one of his front teeth filled with gold.


That one never sees a Frenchman drunk, all the souses whom one sees in
Paris being Americans.


That a daughter is always a much greater comfort to a mother in after
life than a son.


That a man with a weak, receding chin is always a nincompoop.


That English butlers always look down on their American employers, and
frequently have to leave the room to keep from laughing out loud.


That the most faithful and loving of all dogs is the Newfoundland.


That a man always dislikes his mother-in-law, and goes half-crazy every
time she visits him.


That if one doesn't scratch a mosquito bite it will stop itching.


That all the men in the moving picture business were formerly cloak and
suit merchants, and that they are now all millionaires.


That the accumulation of money makes a man hard, and robs him of all his
finer qualities.


That, in an elevator, it is always a man who usurps the looking-glass.


That it is very unlucky to wear an opal.


That if a man's eyebrows meet, it is a sign that he has a very
unpleasant nature.


That a negro ball always ends up in a grand free-for-all fight, in which
several coons are mortally slashed with razors.


That if Houdini were locked up in Sing Sing, he would manage to make his
get-away in less than half an hour's time.


That Bob Ingersoll is in hell.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The American Credo - A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind" ***

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