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Title: Jonathan and His Continent - Rambles Through American Society
Author: O'Rell, Max, 1848-1903, Allyn, Jack
Language: English
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                            JONATHAN AND HIS



                               MAX O'RELL

                               AUTHOR OF


                               JACK ALLYN

                             TRANSLATED BY
                           MADAME PAUL BLOUËT

                    J. W. ARROWSMITH, 11 QUAY STREET



                         _All rights reserved_


You have often asked me to write my impressions of America and the
Americans, and your newspapers have been good enough to suggest
_Jonathan and his Continent_ as a title for the book.

The title is good, and I accept it.

As for the book, since you wish it, here it is. But I must warn you that
if ever you should fancy you see in this little volume a deep study of
your great country and of your amiable compatriots, your worldwide
reputation for humour would be exploded.

However, as my collaborator, JACK ALLYN, is an American citizen, some at
least of the statements here set down regarding Jonathan ought to have
weight and authority.


CHAPTER I.--Population of America.--An Anecdote about the Sun.--Where is
the Centre of America?--Jonathan cannot get over it, nor can
I.--America, the Land of Conjuring.--A Letter from Jonathan decides me
to set out for the United States.

CHAPTER II.--Jonathan and his Critics.--An eminent American gives me
Salutary Advice.--Travelling Impressions.--Why Jonathan does not love
John Bull.

CHAPTER III.--Characteristic Traits.--A Gentleman and a Cad.--Different
Ways of Discussing the Merits of a Sermon.--Contradictions and
Contrasts.--Sacred and Profane.--Players of Poker on Board Ship.--A Meek
and Humble Follower of Jesus.--The Open Sesame of New York, Boston, and
Philadelphia.--The Childish Side of American Character.--The Three
Questions Jonathan puts to every Foreigner who lands in
America.--Preconceived Notions.--Request of an American Journalist.--Why
the English and the French do not put Questions in their Countries to
the Foreigner who visits them.

CHAPTER IV.--Types.--Manly Beauty.--The Indian Type.--Second Beauty in
the Women of the New World.--Something Wanting in the Beauty of Most
American Women.

CHAPTER V.--All that Glitters is not Gold, especially in America.--The
Dollar is the Unity of the Metrical System.--Jonathan is
Matter-of-fact.--How he Judges Man.--The Kind of Baits that
Take.--Talent without Money is a Useless Tool.--Boston and Kansas.

CHAPTER VI.--Diamonds.--How Diamonds are Won and Lost in Tripping.--The
Sweat of Jonathan's brow crystallized in his Wife's Ears.--Avarice is a
vice little known in America.--Jonathan is not the Slave of the Almighty
Dollar to the Extent that he is believed to be.

CHAPTER VII.--Notes on the great American Cities.--New York.--
Boston.--A Visit to Oliver Wendell Holmes.--Washington.--Mount
Vernon.--Philadelphia.--Chicago.--Rivalry between these Cities.--Jokes
they indulge in at each other's Expense.

CHAPTER VIII.--American Houses.--Furniture.--Luxury.--The Clubs.--An
Evening at the Authors' Club.--An Eyesore.--A Wonderful Shot.--Bang,
right in the Bull's-eye!

CHAPTER IX.--Society Jottings.--Blue Blood in the United
States.--Fashionable Society.--Plutocracy.--Parvenus and
Arrivés.--Literary and Artistic Society.--Provincialism.--All the
Americans have two Family Names.--Colonels and Judges.--American
Hospitality.--Terrapin and Raw Duck.

CHAPTER X.--Millionaires.--A List of the Great American Fortunes.--The
Stock Exchange.--A Billionaire's House.--Benevolent Acts.--A Democracy
Ruled by many Kings.

CHAPTER XI.--The American Girl.--Her Liberty.--Her Manners.--Respect for
Woman.--Youthful Reminiscences.--Flirtation Perfected.--The
"Boston."--Why the Young American Lady does not Object to the Society of
Men.--European Coats of Arms Regilt and Redeemed from Pawn.--Americans
of the Faubourg Saint Germain.--Lady Randolph Churchill.--Mating of May
and December.--Stale Theme of American Plays.--An Angel.--The Tell-tale
Collodion.--The Heroine of "L'Abbé Constantin."--What American Girls
Admire in a Man.

CHAPTER XII.--The Emancipation of Woman.--Extinction of Man.--War
against Beards.--Ladies Purifying the Streets of New York.--The Ladies
"Go it" Alone, and have a "Good Time."

CHAPTER XIII.--Prudery.--"Shocking" Expressions.--Transformation of the
Vocabulary.--War on Nudities.--The Venus of Milo does not Escape the
Wrath of the Puritans.--Mr. Anthony Comstock in Chief Command.--New
England Prudes.--Tattling or Calumny?

CHAPTER XIV.--John Bull's Cousin German.--A Salutary Lesson.--Women's
Vengeance.--A Battle with Rotten Eggs.--An Unsavoury Omelette.--Tarring
and Feathering.--Description of the Operation.--An Awkward
Quarter-of-an-hour.--Vengeance of a Ladies' School.--A Town Council of
Women.--Woman's Standing in the States.--Story of a Widow and her Two

CHAPTER XV.--Dress.--My Light-Grey Trousers create a Sensation in a
Pennsylvanian Town.--Women's Dress.--Style and Distinction.--Bonnets fit
to Frighten a Choctaw.--Dress at the Theatre.--Ball Toilettes.--Draw a
Veil over the Past, Ladies.--The Frogs and the Oxen.--Interest and
Capital.--Dogs with Gold-filled Teeth.--Vulgarity.

CHAPTER XVI.--High Class Humour.--Mr. Chauncey Depew and General Horace
Porter.--Corneille had no Humour.--A Woman "sans père et sans
proche."--Mark Twain.

CHAPTER XVII.--Boisterous Humour and Horseplay Wit.--A Dinner at the
Clover Club of Philadelphia.--Other "Gridiron" Clubs.

CHAPTER XVIII.--Western and Eastern Wit.--Two Anecdotes in the way of

CHAPTER XIX.--Journalism.--Prodigious Enterprises.--Startling
Headlines.--"Jerked to Jesus."--"Mrs. Carter finds Fault with her
Husband's Kisses."--Jacob's Ladder.--Sensational News.--How a Journalist
became Known.--Gossip.--The Murderer and the Reporters.--Detective
Journalists.--"The Devil Dodged."--Ten Minutes' Stoppage in
Purgatory.--French, English, and American Journalists.--A Visit to the
Great Newspaper Offices.--Sunday Papers.--Country Papers.--Wonderful
Eye-ticklers.--Polemics.--"Pulitzer and Dana."--Comic and Society
Papers.--The "Detroit Free Press" and the "Omaha World."--American

CHAPTER XX.--Reporting.--For the American Reporter Nothing is
Sacred.--Demolition of the Wall of Private Life.--Does your Husband
Snore?--St. Anthony and the Reporters.--I am Interviewed.--My Manager
drops Asleep over it.--The Interview in Print.--The President of the
United States and the Reporters.--"I am the Interviewer."

CHAPTER XXI.--Literature in the United
Humorists.--Journalists.--Writers for the Young.--Future of American

CHAPTER XXII.--The Stage in the United States.--The "Stars."--French
Plays.--Mr. Augustin Daly's Company.--The American Public.--The
Theatres.--Detailed Programmes.--A Regrettable Omission.

CHAPTER XXIII.--The Religion of the Americans.--Religious Sects.--Why
Jonathan Goes to Church.--Walk in, Ladies and Gentlemen, "this is the
Place to be Saved and Happy."--Irresistible Invitations.--The
Esoterists.--Why Die when Immortality is Attainable?--The Recipe.--Faith
Cure.--A Highly-recommended Book.--Seventh Day Hypocrisy.--To Choose
Goods is not to Buy Them.--"Great Scott!"--Religion and Republicanism
Live Happily together in America.

CHAPTER XXIV.--Colonel Ingersoll's Ideas.--The Man.--His Life.--His
Works.--A Minister declines to take his Place either in this World or
the Next.

CHAPTER XXV.--Justice.--Comparison Favourable to America.--Judicial
Procedure.--The Accused was Paid Cash.--A Criminal Hunt.--The Juries and
their Powers.--Slow Dealings of American Justice.--False
Philanthropy.--Twelve or Sixteen Minutes at the Wrong End of a Rope.--A
Savage Club Anecdote.

CHAPTER XXVI.--Lynch Law.--Hanged, Burned, and Shot.--The Gaolers do not
Answer for their Boarders.--The Humours of Lynching.

CHAPTER XXVII.--A Word on Marriage and Divorce.--Scenes for an
Opera-Bouffe.--An Amateur Dentist.

CHAPTER XXVIII.--Mr. Grover Cleveland, President of the United
States.--A Public Reception at the White House.--A Private
Audience.--Why a Yankee Refrained from Accompanying Me.--What the
President Costs the Nation.--Mrs. Cleveland.--Her Popularity.--Life at
the White House.

CHAPTER XXIX.--Politics.--Parties.--The Gentleman and the
Politician.--"Honest John" and "Jolly Roger."--The Irish in
America.--Why the Americans are in favour of Home Rule.--The Mayor of
New York and the Green Flag.--The German Yankees.--The American
Constitution and the President.--Executive and Legislative
Powers.--England is a Freer Country than America.--The Elections.--An
Anecdote of M. Jules Grévy.

CHAPTER XXX.--The Ordinary American.--His Voice, his Habits, his
Conversation.--He Murders his Language and your Ears.--Do not judge him
too quickly.

CHAPTER XXXI.--American Activity.--Expression of the Faces.--Press the
Button, S.V.P.--Marketing in the House.--Magic Tables.--The Digestive
Apparatus in Danger.--Gentlemen of Leisure.--Labour Laws.--A Six Days'
Journey to go to a Banquet.--My Manager cuts out Work for Me.--A
Journalist on a Journey.--"Don't wait dinner, am off to Europe."

CHAPTER XXXII.--The "XIXth Century Club."--Intellectual
Activity.--Literary Evenings.--Light Everywhere.

CHAPTER XXXIII.--Climate Incites Jonathan to Activity.--Healthy
Cold.--Why Drunkenness is Rare in America.--Do not Lose Sight of your
Nose.--Advice to the Foreigner intending to Visit Jonathan in the
Winter.--Visit to the Falls of Niagara.--Turkish Baths offered Gratis by

CHAPTER XXXIV.--Jonathan's Eccentricities.--The Arc de Triomphe not
being Hirable, an American proposes to Buy it.--The Town Council of
Paris do not Close with Him.--Cathedrals on Hire.--Companies Insuring
against Matrimonial Infidelity.--Harmony Association.--Burial of a
Leg.--Last Will and Testament of an American who Means to be Absent on
the Day of Judgment.

CHAPTER XXXV.--Advertisements.--Marvellous Puffs.--Illustrated Ditto.--A
Yankee on the Look-out for a Living,--"Her Heart and a Cottage."--A
Circus Proprietor and the President of the United States.--Irresistible
Offers of Marriage.--A Journalist of all Work.--Wanted, a Frenchwoman,
Young, Pretty, and Cheerful.--Nerve-calming Syrup.--Doctors on the
Road.--An Advocate Recommends Himself to Light-fingered Gentlemen.--Mr.
Phineas Barnum, the King of Showmen.--Nothing is sacred in the Eyes of
Phineas, the Modern Phoenix.--My Manager Regrets not being able to
Engage Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill for Platform Work in
the United States.

CHAPTER XXXVI.--Railways.--Vestibule Trains.--Hotels on Wheels.--Windows
and Ventilators, and their Uses.--Pitiless Firemen.--Conductors and
their Functions.--A Traveller's Perplexity.--Rudeness of Railway
Servants.--The Actress and the Conductor.--An Inquisitive Traveller.--A
Negro in a Flourishing Way.--Commerce on board the Cars.--"Apples,
Oranges, Bananas!"--The Negro Compartment.--Change of Toilette.--"Mind
your own business."

CHAPTER XXXVII.--Jonathan's Domestics.--Reduced Duchesses.--Queer Ideas
of Equality.--Unchivalrous Man.--The Ladies of the Feather-broom.--Mr.
Vanderbilt's Cook.--Negroes.--Pompey's Wedding.--Where is my
Coat?--Kitchen Pianists.--Punch's Caricatures Outdone by Reality.--A
Lady seeks a Situation as Dishwasher.--Why it is Desirable not to Part
with your Servants on Bad Terms.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.--Jonathan's Table.--Danger of Steel Knives.--The
Americans are Water-drinkers.--I Discover a Snake in my Tumbler.--The
Negro Waiter Comforts Me.--Accommodation for Travellers.--The
Menu.--Abbreviated Dinner.--The Little Oval Dishes.--Turkey and
Cranberry Sauce.--A not very Tempting Dish.--Consolation of Knowing that
the Waitresses are well cared for.--Something to Eat, for Heaven's
Sake!--Humble Apologies to Mine Host.

CHAPTER XXXIX.--How the Americans take their Holidays.--The Hotel is
their Mecca.--Mammoth Hotels.--Jacksonville and St. Augustine.--The
Ponce de Leon Hotel.--Rocking-chairs.--Having a "Good Time!"--The
American is never Bored.--The Food is not very Salt, but the Bill is
very Stiff.--The Negroes of the South.--Prodigious Memories.--More
"Duchesses."--The Negresses.--I Insult a Woman.

CHAPTER XL.--The Value of the Dollar.--A Dressmaker's Bill.--What
American Women must Spend on Dress.--Why so many Americans come to
Europe every year.--Current Prices.--The Beggar and the Nickel.--Books
and Oysters are Cheap.--Salaries.--"I can afford it."

CHAPTER XLI.--Conclusion.--Reply to the American Question.--Social
Condition of Europe and America.--European Debt and American
Surplus.--The Americans are not so Happy as the French.--What Jonathan
has Accomplished.--A Wish.

Jonathan and his Continent


    _Population of America.--An Anecdote about the Sun.--Where is
    the Centre of America?--Jonathan cannot get over it, nor can
    I.--America, the Land of Conjuring.--A Letter from Jonathan
    decides me to set out for the United States._

The population of America is about sixty millions--mostly colonels.

Yes, sixty millions--all alive and kicking!

If the earth is small, America is large, and the Americans are immense!

       *       *       *       *       *

An Englishman was one day boasting to a Frenchman of the immensity of
the British Empire.

"Yes, sir," he exclaimed to finish up with, "the sun never sets on the
English possessions."

"I am not surprised at that," replied the Frenchman; "the sun is obliged
to keep an eye on the rascals."

However, the sun can now travel from New York to San Francisco, and
light, on his passage, a free nation which, for the last hundred years,
has been pretty successful in her efforts to get on in the world without
John Bull's protection.

From east to west, America stretches over a breadth of more than three
thousand miles. Here it is as well to put some readers on their guard,
in case an American should one day ask them one of his favourite
questions: "Where is the centre of America?" I myself imagined that,
starting from New York and pushing westward, one would reach the
extremity of America on arriving at San Francisco. Not so; and here
Jonathan has you. He knows you are going to answer wrongly; and if you
want to please him, you must let yourself be caught in this little trap,
because it will give him such satisfaction to put you right. At San
Francisco, it appears you are not quite half-way, and the centre of
America is really the Pacific Ocean. Jonathan more than doubled the
width of his continent in 1867, when for the sum of four[1] million
dollars he purchased Alaska of the Russians.

   [1] I have also heard "seven" million dollars.

Not satisfied with these immensities, Jonathan delights in contemplating
his country through magnifying glasses; and one must forgive him the
patriotism which makes him see everything double.

To-day population, progress, civilisation, every thing advances with
giant's stride. Towns seem to spring up through the earth. A town with
twenty thousand inhabitants, churches, libraries, schools, hotels, and
banks, was perhaps, but a year or two ago, a patch of marsh or forest.
To-day Paris fashions are followed there as closely as in New York or

In America, everything is on an immense scale: the just pride of the
citizens of the young Republic is fed by the grandeur of its rivers,
mountains, deserts, cataracts, its suspension bridges, its huge cities,

       *       *       *       *       *

Jonathan passes his life in admiration of all that is American. He
cannot get over it.

I have been through part of the country, and I cannot get over it
either. I am out of breath, turned topsy-turvy. It is pure conjuring; it
is Robert Houdin over again--occasionally, perhaps, Robert Macaire
too--but let us not anticipate. Give me time to recover my breath and
set my ideas in order. Those Americans are reeking with
_unheard-of-ness_, I can tell you that to begin with. My ideas are all
jostling in my poor old European brain. There is no longer anything
impossible, and the fairy tales are child's play compared to what we may
see every day. Everything is prodigious, done by steam, by electricity;
it is dazzling, and I no longer wonder that Americans only use their
adjectives in the superlative.

As an illustration of what I advance, here is a letter that I received
from an American, in the month of May, 1887, and which finally decided
me to go and see America. It is dated from Boston:

    "Dear Sir,--I was on the point of taking the boat at twelve
    to-day to go and have a talk with you about an idea which
    occurred to me yesterday; but as I have already been across
    three times this year, and, in a month or six weeks, shall
    have to set out for St. Petersburg and Japan, I am desirous,
    if possible, of arranging the matter I have at heart by

"I must make the acquaintance of that man," I exclaimed; "I must go and
see Jonathan at home one of these days."

And as soon as circumstances allowed, I packed my trunks, took a cabin
on board one of the brave "White Star" Liners, and set out to see
Jonathan and his Continent.


    _Jonathan and his Critics.--An eminent American gives me
    Salutary Advice.--Travelling Impressions.--Why Jonathan does
    not love John Bull._

A few days before leaving America, I had a pleasant talk with Mr.
Whitelaw Reid, the chief editor of the _New York Tribune_.

"Do not fall into the great error of fancying that you have seen America
in six months," he said to me.

"But I do not fancy anything of the kind," I replied; "I have no such
pretension. When a man of average intelligence returns home after having
made a voyage to a foreign land, he cannot help having formed a certain
number of impressions, and he has a right to communicate them to his
friends. They are but impressions, notes taken by the wayside; and, if
there is an error committed by anyone, it is by the critic or the
reader, when either of these looks for a perfect picture of the manners
and institutions of the people the author has visited, instead of simple
_impressions de voyage_. Certainly, if there is a country in the world
that it would be impossible to judge in six months, that country is
America; and the author who, in such a little space of time, allowed
himself to fall into the error of sitting in judgment upon her would
write himself down an ass. In six months you cannot know America, you
cannot even see the country; you can merely get a glimpse of it: but, by
the end of a week, you may have been struck with various things, and
have taken note of them. A serious study and an impression are two
different things, and an error is committed by the person who takes one
for the other. For instance, if, in criticising my little volume, you
exclaim, 'The author has no deep knowledge of his subject,' it is you
who commit an error, and not I. I do not pretend to a deep knowledge of
my subject. How would that be possible in so short a time? How should
you imagine it to be possible? To form a really exact idea of America,
one would need to live twenty years in the country, nay, to be an
American; and I may add that, in my opinion, the best books that exist
upon the different countries of the world have been written by natives
of those countries. Never has an author written of the English like
Thackeray; never have the Scotch been painted with such fidelity as by
Ramsay; and to describe Tartarin, it needed not only a Frenchman, but a
Provençal, almost a Tarasconnais. I say all this to you, Mr. Reid, to
warn you that, if on my return to Europe I should publish a little
volume on America, it will be a book of impressions; and if you should
persist in seeing in it anything but impressions, it is you who will be
to blame. But in this matter I trust to the intelligence of those
Americans who do me the honour of reading me. I shall be in good

Upon this the editor of the _Tribune_ responded, as he shook my hand--

"You are right."

       *       *       *       *       *

It must be allowed that Jonathan has good reason to mistrust his
critics. Most books on America have been written by Englishmen. Now, the
English are, of all people, those who can the least easily get rid of
their prejudices in speaking of America. They are obliged to admit that
the Americans have made their way pretty well since they have been their
own masters; but John Bull has always a rankling remembrance, when he
looks at America, of the day that the Americans sent him about his
business, and his look seems to say to Jonathan: "Yes, yes; you have not
done at all badly--for you; but just think what the country would have
been by this time if it had remained in my hands."

He looks at everything he sees with a patronising air; with the arrogant
calm that makes him, amiable as he is at home, so unbearable when he
travels abroad. He expresses cavalierly, criticises freely. He goes over
with the firm intention of admiring nothing American. If he finds
nothing else to disparage, he will complain of the want of ruins and old
cathedrals. He occasionally presents himself at Jonathan's
dinner-parties in a tweed suit, fearing to do him too much honour by
putting on evening dress. His little talent of making himself
disagreeable abroad comes out more strongly in America; and Jonathan,
one of whose little weaknesses is love of approbation, I honestly
believe, has a cordial antipathy to the magnificent Briton.

The Englishman, on his side, has no antipathy whatever to the Americans.
For that matter, the Englishman has no antipathy for anyone. He
despises, but he does not hate; a fact which is irritating to the last
degree to the objects of his attention. When a man feels that he has
some worth, he likes to be loved or hated: to be treated with
indifference is galling. John Bull looks on the American as a _parvenu_,
and smiles with incredulity when you say that American society is not
only brilliant and witty, but quite as polished as the best European

It is this haughty disdain which exasperates Americans.

Jonathan has forgotten that the English were once his oppressors; he
forgives them for the war of 1812; without forgetting it, he forgives
them for having sided with the slave-owners during the Civil War, but he
cannot forgive an Englishman for coming to his dinner-table in a tweed


    _Characteristic Traits.--A Gentleman and a Cad.--Different
    Ways of Discussing the Merits of a Sermon.--Contradictions and
    Contrasts.--Sacred and Profane.--Players of Poker on Board
    Ship.--A Meek and Humble Follower of Jesus.--The Open Sesame
    of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.--The Childish Side of
    American Character.--The Three Questions Jonathan puts to
    every Foreigner who lands in America.--Preconceived
    Notions.--Request of an American Journalist.--Why the English
    and the French do not put Questions on their Countries to the
    Foreigner who visits them._

A nation, scarcely more than a hundred years old, and composed of many
widely different elements, cannot, in the nature of things, possess very
marked characteristic traits.

There are Americans in plenty, but _the American_ does not yet exist.

The inhabitant of the North-east States, the Yankee,[2] differs as much
from the Western man and the Southerner, as the Englishman differs from
the German or the Spaniard.

   [2] The word "Yankee" is a corruption of the word "English,"
       and only applies to the people of New England.

For example, call a Yankee "a cad," and he will get out of the room,
remarking, "You say so, sir, but that proves nothing." Call a
Pennsylvania man "a cad," and he will get out of temper, and knock you
down. Call a real Westerner "a cad," and he will get out his revolver,
and shoot you dead on the spot.

       *       *       *       *       *

On leaving a New York theatre one night, I jumped into a tramcar in
Broadway. We were quite sixty persons packed upon the vehicle--sitting,
standing, holding on to the rail on the platform, trying to keep our
equilibrium as well as we could. A gentleman, well-dressed and looking
well-bred, signed to the conductor to stop, and tried to make his way
through the crowd. By dint of using his elbows as propellers, he reached
the door, and was preparing to alight, when a man, indignant at having
been pushed (there are people who, for twopence-halfpenny, expect to
travel as comfortably as in a barouche), cried:

"You are a cad, sir--a howling cad!"

The gentleman jumped off the car.

"You are a cad, I say," bellowed the individual after him; "a cad, do
you hear?"

The gentleman--for he was one--turned, lifted his hat, and replied:

"Yes; I hear. And you, sir, are a perfect gentleman."

The perfect gentleman looked very silly for a few moments. A hundred
yards further on, he stopped the car and made off.

Should a minister indulge in unorthodox theories in the pulpit, the
Eastern man will content himself with shaking his head, and going to
another church to perform his devotions the Sunday after. The
Pennsylvanian will open a violent polemic in the newspaper of the
locality; he will not be satisfied with shaking his head, he will shake
his fist. The Kansas man will wait for the minister at the church-door,
and gave him a sound thrashing.[3]

   [3] I read in a large Eastern daily paper, under the head of
       "Kansas News": "A clergyman in Kansas has just had his nose
       bitten off by a member of his flock, who took exception to
       some of his remarks in the pulpit."

       *       *       *       *       *

The character of the American is English from the point of view of its
contrasts and contradictions, which are still more accentuated in him
than in the Englishman.

Is there anything more sublime than the way in which Jonathan can
combine the sacred and profane? He is a greater adept at it than John
Bull, and that is saying not a little.

On board the steamer, we had five Americans who passed eight days of the
voyage in playing poker. The smoking-room rang from morning to night
with the oaths that they uttered every time they laid a card on the
table. They were so fluent with them that they hardly used the same
twice in an hour. Their stock seemed inexhaustible. On Sunday, after
breakfast, a young lady sat down to the piano, and began playing hymns.
What happened then? Our five poker-players gathered round the lady, and
for two hours sang psalms and holy tunes to the edification of the other
occupants of the saloon.

I was dumbfounded.

In France, we have men who swear and men who sing hymns. The Anglo-Saxon
race alone furnishes men who do both with equal gusto.

In what other country than America could such an anecdote as the
following be told? It is the most typical anecdote I heard in the United
States. It came from Mr. Chauncey Depew, it is said. But, for that
matter, when a good story goes the round of the States, it is always put
down to Mr. Depew, Mark Twain, or the late Artemus Ward.

A new minister had been appointed in a little Kentucky town. No sooner
had he taken possession of his cure, than he set about ornamenting the
church with stained-glass windows of gorgeous hues. This proceeding
aroused the suspicions of several parishioners, who imagined that their
new pastor was inclined to lead them to Rome. A meeting was called, and
it was decided to send a deputation to the minister to ask him to
explain his conduct, and beg him to have the offending windows removed.

The head of the deputation was an old Presbyterian, whose austerity was
well known in the town. He opened fire by addressing the reverend
gentleman thus:

"We have waited upon you, sir, to beg that you will remove those painted
windows from our church as soon as possible. We are simple folks. God's
daylight is good enough for us, and we don't care to have it shut out by
all those images----"

The worthy fellow had prepared a fine harangue, and was going to give
the minister the benefit of it all; but the latter, losing patience,
thus interrupted him:

"Excuse me, you seem to be taking high ground. Who are you, may I ask?"

"Who I am?" repeated the Presbyterian spokesman. "I'm a meek and humble
follower of Jesus, and--d--n you, who are _you_?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Without travelling very far, without even quitting the eastern coast of
America, you will see a complete difference in the spirit of towns that
are almost neighbours.

In New York, for instance--I am not speaking now of the literary world,
of which I shall speak later--in New York it is your money that will
open all doors to you; in Boston, it is your learning; in Philadelphia
and Virginia, it is your genealogy. Therefore, if you wish to be a
success, parade your dollars in New York, your talents in Boston, and
your ancestors in Philadelphia and Richmond.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a pronounced childish side to the character of all the
Americans. In less than a century they have stridden ahead of the
nations of the Old World; they are astonished at their own handiwork,
and, like children with a splendid toy of their own manufacture in their
hands, they say to you, "Look! just look, is it not a beauty?" And,
indeed, the fact is that, for him who will look at it with unprejudiced
eyes, the achievement is simply marvellous.

The Americans like compliments, and are very sensitive to criticism.
They have not yet got over Charles Dickens' _American Notes_, nor the
still older criticisms of Mrs. Trollope. Scarcely has a foreigner set
foot in the United States before they ask him what he thinks of the
country. Nine persons out of every ten you speak to put these three
questions to you:

"Is this your first visit to America?"

"How long have you been over?"

"How do you like our country?"

There are even some who push curiosity farther, and do not wait until
you have arrived to ask you for your opinion on their country.

I had only just embarked on board the _Germanic_ at Liverpool, when the
purser handed me a letter from America. I opened it, and read:

    "Dear Sir,--Could you, during your voyage, write me an article
    on the United States? I should be happy to have your
    _preconceived notions_ of America and the Americans, so as to
    publish them in my journal as soon as you arrive."

I do not think I am committing any indiscretion in saying that the
letter was signed by the amiable and talented editor of _The Critic_,
the first literary journal in the United States.

I had heard that the cabman who drove you to your hotel from the docks
asked you, as he opened the door of his vehicle, "Well, sir, and what
are your impressions of America?" But to ask me in Liverpool my
preconceived notions of America and the Americans, that outdid anything
of the kind I had heard on the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *

An Englishman or a Frenchman will never ask you what you think of
England or France. The fact is, they both care little or nothing for the
foreigner's opinion. The Frenchman does not doubt that his country is
beyond competition. If he enter into the subject at all, it is to
congratulate the stranger upon coming to visit it.

The Englishman makes less noise over it. In his provokingly calm manner,
he is perfectly persuaded that England is the first country in the
world, and that everybody admits it, and the idea of asking an outsider
for his opinion of it would never enter his head. He would think it so
ridiculous, so amusing, so grotesque, that anyone should tell him
England was not at the head of all nations, that he would not take the
trouble to resent it. He would pity the person, and there the matter
would end.


    _Types.--Manly Beauty.--The Indian Type.--Second Beauty in the
    Women of the New World.--Something Wanting in the Beauty of
    Most American Women._

The American men are generally thin. Their faces glow with intelligence
and energy, and in this mainly consists their handsomeness. I do not
think it can be possible to see anywhere a finer assemblage of men than
that which meets at the Century Club of New York every first Saturday of
the month. It is not male beauty such as the Greeks portrayed it, but a
manly beauty in all its intellectual force. The hair, often abundant, is
_négligé_, sometimes even almost disordered-looking; the dress displays
taste and care without aiming at elegance; the face is pale and serious,
but lights up with an amiable smile: you divine that resolution and
gentleness live in harmony in the American character.

The features are bony, the forehead straight, the nose sharp and often
pinched-looking in its thinness. One seems at times to recognise in the
faces something of the Indian type: the temples indented, the
cheek-bones prominent, the eyes small, keen, and deepset.

The well-bred American is, to my mind, a happy combination of the
Frenchman and the Englishman, having less stiffness than the latter,
and more simplicity than the former.

As for the women, I do not hesitate to say that in the east, in New York
especially, they might be taken for Frenchwomen. It is the same type,
the same gait, the same vivacity, the same petulance, the same amplitude
of proportions.

The beauty of the American women, like that of the men, is due much more
to the animation of the face than to form or colouring. The average of
good looks is very high, indeed. I do not remember to have seen one
hopelessly plain woman during my six months' ramble in the States.

American women generally enjoy that second youth which Nature bestows
also on numbers of Frenchwomen. At forty, they bloom out into a more
majestic beauty. The eyes retain their fire and lustre, the skin does
not wrinkle, the hands, neck, and arms remain firm and white. It is true
that, in America, hair turns grey early; but, so far from detracting
from the American woman's charms, it gives her an air of distinction,
and is often positively an attraction.

If the Americans descend from the English, their women have not
inherited from their grandmothers either their teeth, their hands, or
their feet. I have seen, in America, the daintiest little hands and feet
in the world (this is not an Americanism).

The New Yorkers and Bostonians will have it to be that Chicago women
have enormous feet and hands. I was willing to believe this, up to the
day I went to Chicago. I found the Chicago women, and those of the west
generally, pretty, with more colour than their eastern sisters; only, as
a rule, quite slight, not to say thin.

That which is lacking in the pretty American faces of the east is colour
and freshness. The complexion is pale; and it is only their plumpness,
which comes to their rescue after thirty, and prevents them from looking
faded. Those who remain thin, generally fade quickly; the complexion
becomes the colour of whity-brown paper, and wrinkles freely.

If American women went in for more outdoor exercise; if they let the
outer air penetrate constantly into their rooms; if they gave up living
in hothouses, they would have some colour, and their beauty need,
perhaps, fear no competition in Europe.


    _All that Glitters is not Gold, especially in America.--The
    Dollar is the Unity of the Metrical System.--Jonathan is
    Matter-of-fact.--How he judges Man.--The Kind of Baits that
    Take.--Talent without Money is a Useless Tool.--Boston and

Jonathan admires all that glitters, even that which is not gold.

In his eyes, the success of a thing answers for its quality, and the
charlatanism that succeeds is superior to the merit that vegetates.

The dollar is not only the unity of the monetary system; it is also the
unity of the metrical system.

Before assigning a man his standing, people ask him in England, "Who is
your father?" in France, "Who are you?" in America, "How much have you?"

Like Professor Teufelsdröckh, the ordinary American judges men with an
impartiality and coolness really charming. He admires talent, because it
is a paying commodity. A literary or artistic success is only a success,
in his eyes, on condition that it is a monetary one as well. He looks
upon every man as possessing a certain commercial value. He is worth so
much. Such and such a celebrity does not inspire his respect and
admiration because he or she has produced a work of genius, but because
the work of genius has produced a fortune. In America, you hear people,
when talking of Madame Adelina Patti, speak less of her incomparable
voice than of the houses she draws.

I was chatting one day with an American about the famous Robert

"He is your greatest orator, I am told," I said.

"Oh, yes," he replied. "Ingersoll can fill the Metropolitan Opera House
any day, and have five thousand dollars in the house."

Certainly that is a curious way to speak of a great orator, a great
writer, and a great thinker.

I need not say that I am now speaking of the ordinary American, not the
man of refinement.

It would be quite possible for an actress to attract large audiences all
through a tour from New York to San Francisco, not because of
incontestable talent, but because she travelled in a magnificent
palace-car of her own.

I saw, in an American paper, the appearance of Miss Minnie Palmer spoken
of in the following terms:

"Minnie Palmer will wear all her diamonds in the third act."

The booking-office was besieged all day, and in the evening money was
refused. An amusing detail was the arrival of a good fourth of the
audience at ten o'clock, to see the diamonds in the third act.

This necessity for being rich is the reverse side of the medal in
America, where, more than anywhere else, talent without money is a
useless tool.

America suffers from this state of things. The country's genius, instead
of consecrating all its time to the production of works which would tend
to elevate the ideas and aspirations of the people, is obliged to think
of money-making.

"Ah! my friend," said one of America's most graceful bards to me one day
as he touched his forehead, "it seems to me that I have something there,
that I possess the _feu sacré_, and that I might do a little share of
good by my writings. But how write poems, when there are rumours of
panic in Wall Street?----Excuse me, I have not a moment to lose; I must
rush to the Stock Exchange."

The American authors, most of them, only take up the pen at odd hours.
Business first. Mark Twain is a publisher; Oliver Wendell Holmes is a
doctor; Edmund Clarence Stedman is a stockbroker; Robert Ingersoll, an
advocate; George Cable, a public lecturer; and James Russell Lowell is a
diplomatist. The rest are journalists. There are few, indeed, who live
by book-writing.

However, perhaps a day will come when American law will prevent
publishers from stealing the works of European writers, and publishing
them at low prices; then American authors, having no longer to fear this
unjust competition, may be able to sell their books in sufficient
numbers to allow them to pay their landlord and tradesmen out of the
profits. When that day comes, American literature will spread its
pinions and rise to prodigious heights.

In a country governed by Protectionists, it does seem strange that
national products should all be protected except the products of the
brain. Such an anomaly cannot certainly endure. The moral sense of the
people will triumph. Boston, not Kansas, must win.

Unluckily, the Copyright Bill has the misfortune to be desired by the
English; and this is quite enough for the Washington politicians to
refuse to pass it, although the Americans desire it no less than the
English, if not more.


    _Diamonds.--How Diamonds are Won and Lost in Tripping.--The
    Sweat of Jonathan's brow crystallized in his Wife's
    Ears.--Avarice is a vice little known in America.--Jonathan is
    not the Slave of the Almighty Dollar to the Extent that he is
    believed to be._

Man has been perpetuated to expiate the transgression of his first
parent by hard labour. Jonathan is a proof of it.

He labours, he toils, and the sweat of his brow crystallizes upon the
neck and arms of his beloved womankind in the form of diamonds.

To the American woman the diamond is not an object of luxury, it is an
object of prime necessity. An English old maid would do without her tea
before an American woman would go without diamonds.

Oh, those diamonds in America! You see them wherever you go! Not one
woman in a hundred will you see without a pair of them in her ears. It
is an obsession.

Diamonds, at night with evening dress and artificial light, are things
of beauty: but diamonds in the street with morning dress, at early
breakfast in company with morning wrappers; diamonds in the ears, at the
neck, in the bonnet-strings, on arms, on fingers, diamonds all day long
and everywhere, it is a remnant of savagery. Nay, I saw diamonds on
shoe-buckles one day in broad day in a shop.

"There is a woman who is not afraid of tripping and losing her
diamonds," said I to myself; "but perhaps she got them the same way that
she might have lost them. Certainly she cannot be a lady." However, it
appears she was, and a well-known figure in New York Society. So I was
told by the manager of the establishment, who was at the time showing me
over his magnificent rooms.

If good style consists in not doing what the vulgar do, good style in
America ought to consist for one thing in not wearing diamonds--unless
democracy should demand this sign of equality.

Diamonds are worn by the woman of fashion, the tradesman's wife,
shop-girls, work-girls, and servants; and if you see a shabbily-dressed
woman who has not a pair in her ears, you may take it for granted that
she has put them in pawn.

Naturally, in America, as elsewhere, all that sparkles is not diamond.

When you see diamonds in the ears of shop-girls and factory-girls, they
are sham gems bought with well-earned money, or real ones bought with
badly-earned money.

I have seen pretty women completely disfigure themselves by hanging
enormous diamonds in their ears. These ear-drops had a very high
commercial value; but artistic value, none. There is a defect, which
seems to exist everywhere in America--a disposition to imagine that the
value of things is in proportion to their size.

       *       *       *       *       *

Love of woman, innate in the American, is not enough in itself to
explain the luxury that man lavishes on her in the United States.
America is not the only country where man is devoted to woman and ready
to satisfy all her caprices. The Frenchman is as keenly alive to her
influences as the American, if not more.

The luxury of the American woman must be explained in another way.

Money is easily earned in the United States, and is freely spent.
Business savours more of gambling than of commerce in the proper sense
of the word.

Jonathan, then, is in a position much like that of a man whom I saw give
a hundred franc note to a beggar one day in the streets of Monte Carlo.
"If I win at _trente et quarante_," said he to some one who asked him
how he could do such a foolish thing, "what are a hundred francs to me?
I can afford to be generous to a poor fellow-creature out of it; if I
lose, it is so much that the _croupier_ will not get." When Jonathan
covers his wife with diamonds, he says to himself: "If I win, I can
indulge my wife without inconveniencing myself; if I lose, it is so much
saved from the fray."

This is not all.

If the American thirsts after money, it is not for the love of money as
a rule, but for the love of that which money can buy. In other words,
avarice is a vice almost unknown in America. Jonathan does not amass
gold for the pleasure of adding pile to pile and counting it. He pursues
wealth to improve his position in life and to surround those dependent
upon him with advantages and luxuries. He spends his money as gaily as
he pockets it, especially when it is a question of gratifying his wife
or daughters, who are the objects of his most assiduous attention. He is
the first to admit that their love for diamonds is as absurd as it is
costly, but he is good-humoured and says, "Since they like them, why
should they not have them?"

In Europe, there is a false notion that Jonathan thinks only of money,
that he passes his life in the worship of the almighty dollar. It is an
error. I believe that at heart he cares but little for money. If a
millionaire inspires respect, it is as much for the activity and talent
he has displayed in the winning of his fortune as for the dollars
themselves. An American, who had nothing but his dollars to boast of,
might easily see all English doors open to him, but his millions alone
would not give him the _entrée_ into the best society of Boston and New
York. There he would be requested to produce some other recommendation.
An American girl who was rich, but plain and stupid, would always find
some English duke, French marquis, or Italian count, ready to marry her,
but she would have great difficulty in finding an American gentleman who
would look upon her fortune or her _dot_ as a sufficient indemnity.

At a public dinner, the millionaire does not find a place of honour
reserved for him, as he would in England. The seats of honour are
reserved for men of talent. Even in politics, money does not lead to

No, the Americans do not worship the Golden Calf, as Europeans are often
pleased to imagine.

As to the ladies, that is different--but we shall speak of them in
another chapter.


    _Notes on the great American Cities.--New York.--Boston.--A
    Visit to Oliver Wendell Holmes.--Washington.--Mount
    Vernon.--Philadelphia.--Chicago.--Rivalry between these
    Cities.--Jokes they indulge in at each other's Expense._

The large cities do not constitute the real America. To gain a correct
idea of the country, one must go and see those hundreds, nay thousands,
of flourishing little towns which spring up day by day on that immense

I went to America too late, and left it too early, to be able to enjoy
and admire its natural beauties. The trees were shorn of their
magnificent foliage, the Indian summer was just over, and forest and
prairie were alike bare and brown. No matter: I dread descriptions of
scenery, and I could not have done justice to the subject. Men interest
me more than rivers, rocks, and trees. I cannot describe Nature, and it
is human nature that attracts me most.

Great cities surely have their interest, especially those of the United
States, which, with the exception of New York, have each their own
particular characteristics.

       *       *       *       *       *

The city of New York is built upon an island about nine miles long, half
a mile broad at the south, and about two and a half broad at the north.
This island has the form of a tongue.

The city looks like a slice of honeycomb on the map: twelve great
arteries run from north to south, crossed at right angles by over a
hundred streets forming an immense number of "blocks," as they are

Except in the city proper, where they have particular names, the streets
are all numbered: 1st Street, 2nd Street, 125th Street, and so on. The
great arteries take the name of Avenues, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, up to 11th,
besides Broadway which crosses the city diagonally.

It will readily be seen that nothing is easier than to find a house
situated in such and such a street, at such and such a number. So many
streets, so many blocks, and you are at your destination without
trouble. The thing which puzzled my wits was to remember the addresses
of my acquaintances: No. 103, East 15th Street; 144, West 26th Street;
134, West 33rd Street; 177, East 48th Street; 154, West 72nd Street;
400, Fifth Avenue. You can readily imagine the perplexity of the
unfortunate foreigner who finds himself, at the end of a few days,
confronted with this difficulty and with a score of calls to pay.

As I looked at the New Yorkers walking along the streets with that
preoccupied look of theirs, I said to myself: "Those good people must be
trying to keep their address in mind, and are repeating it over to
themselves all the time."

It is of no use looking in New York for monuments in the sense which we
attach to the word in Europe. There are massive buildings, and a few
handsome churches, but nothing which arrests your gaze. The houses in
the best parts of the town are built of brown stone, in the English
style. In the populous quarters many are of red brick, with green
shutters on the outside.

The streets are horribly ill paved. From my windows, which looked on
Madison Square, the carriages appeared to rise and fall as if on a
troubled sea. Drunkards have had to drop their habits: they could not
reach home from the beer saloons.

Three fine squares alone break the monotony of all these parallelograms
of streets: Washington Square, Union Square, and Madison Square.

On the north, Central Park, with its fine avenues, its hillocks, its
valleys, its lakes, and its magnificent terrace over the Hudson, is a
very lovely pleasure ground. It is the only place where one can see
trees, turf, and flowers. New York does not possess a single garden,
public or private, if one excepts the three squares I named just now.

That which strikes the visitor to New York is not the city itself, but
the feverish activity that reigns there.

Overhead is a network of telegraph and telephone wires; on the ground a
network of rails. It is estimated that there are more than 12,000 miles
of telegraph wires suspended over the heads of the passers by: about
enough to go half round the world.

The whistles of the boats that ply between New York and Brooklyn on the
East River, and between New York and Jersey City on the Hudson, keep up,
day and night until one in the morning, a noise which is like the roar
of wild beasts. It is the cry of Matter under the yoke of Man. It is
like living in a menagerie.

In almost every street tramcars pass every few minutes. It is an
incessant procession. In Broadway alone there are more than three
hundred. The cars, as they are always called in America, are magical,
like everything American. Built to carry twenty-four persons inside
(there are no seats on the top), they are made to hold sixty and more.
In fact, no matter how full they are, there is always room for one more.
The conductor never refuses to let you get on board. You hang on to the
rail beside the driver or conductor, if it is not possible to squeeze
yourself inside and hold on to the leather straps provided for the
purpose; you gasp for breath, it is all you can do to get at your pocket
to extract the five cents which you owe the car company; but the
conductor cries in his imperturbable nasal drawl: "Move forward, make
room." If you do not like it, you have the alternative of walking. These
cars are drawn by two horses. At night, when the theatres are emptying
and the loads are heaviest, is just the time when the stoppages are most
frequent--someone gets on or alights at every block; the strain on the
horses must be tremendous.

Cabs are few. This is not wonderful, seeing that the lowest fare is a
dollar or a dollar and half.

In Third Avenue and Sixth Avenue, you find the overhead railway called
"the Elevated." It is supported on iron pillars, and the trains run
along on a level with the upper windows of the houses. This company
carries every day the fabulous number of 500,000 passengers.

All the existing means of transit are acknowledged to be insufficient,
and an underground railway is talked of. There will soon be travellers
under ground, on the ground, and in the air. Poor Hercules, where are
you with your _ne plus ultra_? You had reckoned without your Yankee.

The streets, ill-paved and dirty, are dangerous in winter. Coachmen do
not check their horses for the foot passengers, but neither do they try
to run over them. They strike the middle course between the London
coachman, who avoids them, and the Parisian one, who aims at them.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the corner of each block there is a letter-box. If you have any
newspapers or extra large letters to post, you lay them on the box and
trust to the honesty of the passers-by. If rain comes on, so much the
worse. If you want stamps, you go to the chemist and buy a lotion or
potion, taking occasion at the same time to buy your stamps.
Post-offices are few and far between.

The populous quarters, such as the Chinese quarter, the Italian quarter,
the Jewish quarter, with their tenement-houses--those barracks of the
poor, which I visited one day in company with a sanitary
engineer--remind one of Dante's descriptions: it is a descent, or rather
an ascent, into hell. I spare the reader the impressions which that day
left upon me. Horrible! A populace composed of the offscourings of all
nations--the dirtiest, roughest, one can imagine.

Hard by this frightful squalor, Fifth Avenue, with its palaces full of
the riches of the earth. It is the eternal history of large cities.

As in London, hundreds of churches and taverns (called beer saloons): it
is the same ignoble Anglo-Saxon mixture of bible and beer, of the
spiritual and the spirituous.

New York is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the world. To give an
idea of it, I may tell you that there are newspapers published there in
English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch,
Hungarian, Chinese, and Hebrew.

I received one day a circular of a meeting of the "Knights of Labour."
It was printed in six different languages.

The streets are wide, bright, and animated; the shops handsome. In
Broadway and Union Square the jewellers and confectioners flourish,
pretty flower-shops abound: it is Paris, rather than London, without,
however, being one or the other.

As I said before, there are no grand buildings to to invite one's gaze
to rest; to rejoice the eyes, one must penetrate into the houses of the

There is a small collection of pictures in the Museum in the Central
Park; but most of the art treasures of America are to be found in
private collections.

       *       *       *       *       *

Boston (pronounced _Boast'on_) is quite an English city, handsomely and
solidly built. It has a public garden in the centre, the effect of which
at night is enchanting.

It is the most scholarly city of the United States--one of the greatest
centres of erudition in the world.

Boston Society is less showy than that of New York, the women have,
perhaps, less _chic_, but they have more colour in their faces and more
repose in their manner.

Nothing is more diverting than to hear the dwellers in each great
American town criticise the dwellers in the others. All these societies,
each almost in its infancy as yet, are jealous one of another. At
Boston, for instance, you will be told that the Chicago people are all
pig-stickers and pork-packers. In Chicago, you will hear that Boston is
composed of nothing but prigs and _précieuses ridicules_.

Allow for a large amount of exaggeration, and there remains a certain
foundation of truth.

The English spoken in Boston is purer than any to be heard elsewhere in
the North. The voices are less harsh and nasal, the language ceases to
be _vurry, vurry Amurracan_. If you think yourself in England, as you
walk along the streets, the illusion becomes complete when you hear the
well-bred people speak.

All the anecdotes told in America on the subject of Boston are satires
upon the presumptuous character of the Bostonian, who considers Boston
the centre of the universe.

Here is one of the many hundreds I heard:

A Boston man has lost his wife. As soon as telephonic communication is
established between that city and Paradise, he rings and cries:


"Hello!" from the other end.

"Is that you, Artemisia?"

"Yes, dear."

"Well, my love, and how do you like it up there?"

"Oh, it is very nice of course----but it isn't Boston."

Another, equally quiet, is this:

Two ladies walking along the road, in the environs of Boston, came to a
mile-stone bearing the inscription:

  I M

"How simple! how touching!" exclaimed one of the ladies, taking it for a
grave-stone; "nothing but these words: 'I'm from Boston.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Boston, and the whole State of Massachussets, of which it is the chief
city, are the homes of most of the literary celebrities of America.
Longfellow lived there; Whittier, Lowell, and Holmes live there still;
Mr. Howells and Henry James are Boston men, I believe.

Before leaving Boston, I had the pleasure of seeing Oliver Wendell
Holmes at home.

The Doctor received me in his study, a fine room well lined with books,
and having large windows overlooking the river Charles and facing his
Harvard University. Lit by the setting sun, the picture from the windows
was alone worth going to see. The Doctor's reception was most cordial.

He is a small man, looking about seventy-five; but the expression of his
face is young, and will always be so, I imagine. His smile is
clever-looking, sweet, and full of contagious gaiety. Thick bushy grey
eyebrows, which stand out, and a protruding under-lip, make his profile
odd looking. The eyes are twinkling with humour--and good humour.
Philosopher, poet, and humorist are written plainly on the face.

The Doctor was soon chatting about his last trip to Europe, and how,
though it was August, he went over to Paris to revisit the haunts of his
youth, where he had studied medicine (he was lecturer on anatomy in
Boston Hospital up to four years ago); how he found it a desert void of
all the "old familiar faces;" but his daughter shopped to her

Then turning to modern French literature:

"Who will ever say again that France has no humorists?" remarked the
Doctor. "I have been delighting in Daudet's _Tartarin_."

At the very thought of the Tarasconnais' droll adventures, he laughed.
The Autocrat's laugh is, as I said, infectious. It is quick, merry,
hearty; he shakes over it in a way not common with any but stout people.

Skipping past other light literature, he stopped to say a word of
admiration for Zola's wonderful descriptions of Paris--in fact, for the
artist that is in him--but regretted, as everyone does, that such a
great writer should prostitute his genius.

Hung upon the wall in a corner was a caricature of "the Autocrat of the
Breakfast Table," one of the _Vanity Fair_ series. Upon my espying it,
the dear old Doctor said, with his merry laugh: "There, you see, I am
not a vain man, or I should hide that away."

Vain, no, Oliver Wendell Holmes is the personification of simplicity and
good humour; a sunny-hearted man, with a lively enjoyment still of the
pleasures of society.

A lady friend told me that, meeting him one day after he had had an
ovation somewhere, she asked him:

"Well, Doctor, and are you not getting a little tired of all this
cheering and applause?"

"Not a bit," replied he; "they never greet me loud enough, or clap long
enough, to please me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Washington is the sole American city which has monuments that can strike
the European with admiration for their beauty. The Capitol, the
Government buildings, the museums, built in the midst of handsome
gardens, all arrest the eye of the visitor.

The Capitol, 751 feet long, built of white marble, with a superb dome
and majestic flights of steps, is one of the grandest, most
imposing-looking, edifices in the world. The souvenirs attached to it,
and the treasures it contains, render it dear to the Americans: it is a
monument which recalls to their minds the glories of the past, and keeps
alight the flame of patriotism.

A general, who served through the great Civil War, told me he had seen
strong men, soldiers brought up in remote States, sit down and weep with
emotion at seeing the Capitol for the first time.

At one end of the building there is the House of Representatives; in the
other wing, the Senate. As for the national treasures contained in the
Capitol, I refer the reader to guide-books for them.

The Americans, determined for once to be beyond suspicion in employing
an adjective in the superlative degree, followed by the traditional "in
the world," have erected, to the memory of General Washington, an
obelisk 555 feet high. It is therefore the highest in the world, without
any inverted commas.

The town is prettily laid out, somewhat in the form of a spider's web.
The streets are wide, the houses coquettish-looking, the gardens,
especially the park of the Soldier's Home, extremely beautiful.

Washington is wholly given over to politics. When Congress is not
sitting, it is dead; when Congress is sitting, it is delirious.

Little or no commerce is done.

No visitor leaves Washington without making a pilgrimage to Mount
Vernon, where Washington is buried, and where everything speaks of him
who was "first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his

A journey of an hour and a half up the beautiful Potomac, every turn of
which discloses a fresh panorama, brings you to the woods of Mount

The house, a wooden structure with a piazza along the front, stands on a
considerable elevation, and commands a fine view of winding river and
wooded banks. One is seized with admiration at the sight of all this
beauty, as one stands upon the threshold of the old home of America's

It was here, in this peaceful country-house, that lived, like the most
modest of America's sons, the man who was the greatest hero of modern
times. A feeling of reverent admiration fills you as you enter the
quaint little hall.

Each room is kept up at the expense of one of the thirty-three States of
the Union. Everything has been arranged, as nearly as possible, to
represent the state of the house at the time Washington lived in it.

In the hall hangs the key of the Bastille presented in 1789 by Lafayette
to the "Great friend of Liberty."

There is an interesting little souvenir attaching to the history of the
banquet hall. This room was built in 1784, and finished at the time of
Lafayette's third visit to America. He and several French noblemen were
visiting Mount Vernon, and a ball was to be given in their honour. A
handsome wall-paper, imported from England, had arrived; but the
paper-hangers had not arrived, greatly to Mrs. Washington's annoyance.
Seeing his hostess grow distressed over the delay of the workmen,
Lafayette, with characteristic enthusiasm, said to her:

"Do not despair, Madame; we are three or four able-bodied men, who will
soon make short work of it."

And, without more ado, the marquis and his friends set about papering
the walls, and were soon joined by Washington himself, who proved a
vigorous and efficient help.

The tomb of the General is of the simplest description; but it evokes
far more touching memories than the magnificent sarcophagus of Napoleon
in the Church of the _Invalides_. I never felt more sincerely impressed
and touched than at Mount Vernon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Philadelphia, formerly the capital of the United States, is a city of
eight or nine hundred thousand inhabitants, and is built like New York,
in parallelograms. Its Town Hall is, next to the Capitol at Washington,
the finest edifice in America. I do not know anything to compare to its
splendid park, unless it be the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The alleys of
this park, if put together, would cover about sixty miles in length--so
said a Philadelphian who added: "therefore it is the biggest park in the
world." Seen after New York or the busy western cities, Philadelphia
strikes one as monotonous. It is full of all kinds of manufactories,
however, this Quaker city of quiet streets and sober people.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the shores of Lake Michigan there stood a rather insignificant town,
built of wood, and peopled by a few thousand inhabitants. This town was
called Chicago.

On the evening of the 8th of October, 1871, a cow, that an old woman was
milking in a barn, kicked over a lamp and set fire to the structure. The
flames spread, and on the morrow of that terrible night the whole city
was level with the ground. The Chicago people of to-day show, as a
curiosity to the visitor, the only house which escaped the flames.

At the present time, this city, like the phoenix of which she is the
living and gigantic emblem, stands, rebuilt in hewn stone, and holding
800,000 inhabitants.

Such is America.

In less than twenty years, Omaha, Kansas, Denver, Minneapolis, will be
so many Chicagos. Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Louisville will rival her
in five.

Chicago is, in my eyes, the very type of the American city--the most
striking example of what Jonathan calls _go-a-headism_.

The streets are twice as wide as the Parisian boulevards, the houses of
business are eight, ten, twelve stories high. Michigan Avenue is seven
miles long: the numbers of the houses run up to three thousand and
something. The city has parks, lovely drives by the Lake Shore; statues,
including a splendid one of Abraham Lincoln; public buildings imposing
in their massiveness, fine theatres and churches; luxurious clubs,
hotels inside which four good sized Parisian ones could dance a
quadrille, etc., etc.

Michigan Avenue and Prairie Avenue are extremely handsome. Picture to
yourself the Avenue of the Bois de Boulogne prolonged for seven miles in
a straight line, and imagine the effect, the beautiful vista, when this
is lit up at night, or when the trees, with which both these grand roads
are planted, are in all their fresh spring beauty.

In these avenues American eccentricity has been allowed free play. The
houses are built in all imaginable styles of architecture: some of them
are Florentine, some English, others Moorish, others a mixture of all
three; others, again, look like Greek temples, whilst here and there you
come across what looks like a little Gothic church, and close alongside
mediæval castles in miniature, or an imitation of mosques; some have the
look of villas in the Paris suburbs; some have been modelled upon Swiss
châlets, others upon the residence of some pacha on the borders of the
Bosphorus. There are styles for all tastes.

The American may be eccentric, or what you will, but he is never

Enter one of these houses, and you will see handsome furniture, not only
rich, but in good taste.

Riches beget the taste for literature and the arts; perhaps one day it
will beget the taste for simplicity. I was not astonished to find
Chicago society genial, polished, and well read. You find here still
more warmth and much less constraint than in the East, You feel that you
have quitted the realms of New England puritanism. No frigidity here;
people give free play to their sentiments. If I had to name the most
sympathetic of my American audiences, the warmest[4] and promptest to
seize the significance of a look or gesture, I should name the one which
I had the honour of addressing in Chicago.

   [4] I have had this opinion corroborated since by all the public
       speakers and artists with whom I have spoken on the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *

At seven in the morning every man is astir and at work, whether he be
millionaire or poor clerk. As I have mentioned elsewhere, only the idle
are outside the pale of respectability in Chicago.

The business done in Chicago is fabulous. The money value of the total
trade last year, I am told, reached the immense sum of 227 millions
sterling. The aggregate bank clearings amounted to about 612 millions
sterling. 2,383,000 cattle are slaughtered, and 6,250,000 barrels of
flour received. Chicago is probably the most flourishing city in
America--therefore in the world, as Jonathan would put it. I give these
figures also to show that divine wrath does not seem to fall upon this
city which opens its places of recreation on Sundays.

Twenty railway lines, besides local ones, have termini at Chicago. The
total mileages of Chicago railroads is 28,817. Stop and catch your

I do not think it is possible for a European to imagine the activity
which reigns in Chicago without seeing it.

"You will soon be inventing," I said to a resident, "a machine that will
take a live rabbit at one end, and turn out a chimney-pot hat at the

"We have done something very like it already," he replied.

And next morning he took me to see the famous pig-killing and
pork-packing premises of Philip Armour and Co.

Picture to yourself a series of rooms connecting. In the first, 5,000
pigs a day are killed; in the second, they are scraped as they come out
of a cauldron of scalding water; in the third, the heads are cut off;
and so on, and so on. The process is somewhat sickening, and I will not
enter into any more details. At the end of the establishment the poor
pigs are presented to you under the forms of bacon, sausage, galantine,
etc. The various processes take place with all the rapidity of

What will they not invent in Chicago? That which looks like a joke
to-day may be a reality next week; and I shall not be surprised, next
time I go to Chicago, to find that the talking power of women has been
utilized as a motor for sewing machines by connecting the chin with the

How leave Chicago without mentioning the adieux that reached me at my
hotel during the hour before I left for Canada?

Ding-rrrring, goes the telephone bell.



"Good-bye; good luck!"


"Pleasant journey!"


"Good-bye; our compliments to John Bull!"


    _American Houses.--Furniture.--Luxury.--The Clubs.--An Evening
    at the Authors' Club.--An Eyesore.--A Wonderful Shot.--Bang,
    right in the Bull's-eye!_

American houses are furnished very luxuriously, and for the most part in
exquisite taste. Here you see the influence of woman in the smallest
details of life; indeed, at every step you take, you see that woman has
passed that way.

Decorations and furniture, in New York especially, are dark,
substantial, and artistic. The liberal use of _portières_ adds greatly
to the richness of effect. Even in the hall, doors are replaced by
hangings. On all sides there is pleasure for the eyes, whether it rests
on furniture, walls, or ceilings. The floors are covered with rich
carpets, and the ceilings are invariably decorated in harmony with the
rest of the room.

The reception-rooms are on the ground-floor, which is always twelve or
fifteen feet above the sidewalk. The suite is composed of three or four
rooms (sometimes more), divided one from another by _portières_. Each
room is in a different style. One contains dark furniture and hangings,
oil paintings, costly art treasures, majestical tropical plants;
another, in Oriental style, invites the visitor to cosy chats among its
divans and screens; another, perhaps, has books, etchings, and
antiquities of all kinds; another, in the style of a boudoir, will be
strewn with knick-knacks, light bric-à-brac, water-colours, statuettes,
etc., in artistic disorder; yet another may serve as music-room--here,
no carpets, the parquet floor is waxed, the walls are unadorned--all has
been thought out with intelligence. Flowers in every room shed sweet
fragrance. When all the suite is lighted up, and the _portières_ looped
back, the effect is enchanting; and when a score of American women,
elegant, handsome, and witty, add life to the scene, I can assure you
that you are not in a hurry to consult your watch.

The luxury, displayed at receptions, dinners, and dances, surpasses
European imagination. At a ball, given in New York in the month of
February, 1888, the walls were covered with roses, which did not cost
less than £2,000. When one considers that the supper, and everything
else, was on the same scale, it becomes doubtful whether such luxury is
to be admired. I was present one evening at a dinner, given in the large
dining-hall at Delmonico's restaurant, New York. We were eighty-seven
guests at an immense round table. The centre of the board was covered
with a gigantic star of flowers, roses, arum lilies, and heliotrope. At
that season lilies were worth a dollar each; and, all through the
winter, the price of roses was from a quarter to two dollars apiece,
according to kind. The Americans at this feast estimated the star of
flowers at £1,500 or £1,600.

At a dinner party given recently at Delmonico's, I heard that each
_menu_ had a chain attached, consisting of pearls and diamonds, and
valued at 1,000 dollars. Is this luxury? Surely it is bad taste, not to
say vulgarity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The principal clubs, in the large American cities, are princely
habitations, full of everything that can minister to man's well-being.
The American clubs are as luxurious as those of London; but this is the
only resemblance which there is between them. The clubs, in large
English towns, are sad and solemn; those in the American cities are
bright and gay. In New York, Boston, Chicago, etc., the club is not
merely a place where a man goes to read the papers, or to dine when his
family is out of town; it is a place where men meet for converse, and to
enjoy various relaxations. All the members know each other almost

The doors of American clubs are often opened to ladies, except in
Boston, I am told, where no opportunity for the display of Anglomania is
neglected. I was present at a very grand ball given by the Union League
Club of New York; and when I lectured in the Union League Club of
Chicago, at the invitation of the members, there were a great number of
ladies invited to be present.

Americans amuse themselves gaily, and ladies are always of the party.
They have not the English tendency to convert their pleasures into
funeral services.

The hospitality of American clubs is thoughtfully and generously
extended to foreigners who visit the States. I had not been a fortnight
in America before I was "put up" as honorary member of nearly all the
New York clubs. In the other large cities I visited, I met with the same
amiability, the same eager expression of cordiality.

A charming little club, but this one has no pretension to luxuriousness,
is the Authors' Club in New York. It only has three rooms, very modestly
furnished, where one may meet some of America's most charming writers,
playing at Bohemia, and chatting over a cigar. Once a fortnight there is
a reunion. A simple supper is served at ten o'clock: roast chickens,
green peas, and potatoes; cheese and beer. The members are waiting to
introduce champagne until Congress has passed the International
Copyright Bill. One hardly thinks of the fare in the company of this
aristocracy of American talent and intellect. To these gentlemen I owe
many a delightful hour passed in their midst.

A very interesting little ceremony takes place at the Authors' Club on
New Year's night. On the evening of the 31st December the members of the
club muster in force at their snug quarters in Twenty-fourth Street. At
two or three minutes to twelve all the lights are put out, and "Auld
lang syne" is sung in chorus, to bid good-bye to the year that is
passing away. As soon as the clock has struck the midnight hour[5], the
lights are relit, all the company strike up "He's a jolly good fellow,"
and there is a general hand-shaking and wishing of good wishes for the
coming year. Then everyone dives into his memory for an anecdote, a good
joke, or an amusing reminiscence, and the evening is prolonged till two
or three o'clock. I had the good luck to be present at the last of these
merry meetings. Mark Twain presided, and I need not tell you with what
spirited and inexhaustible mirth the celebrated humorist did the honours
of the evening.

   [5] I think a clock is borrowed for the occasion.

       *       *       *       *       *

In houses, in clubs, in offices, one cannot help admiring the ingenious
forethought, the wonderful care, with which the smallest wants and the
slightest commodities of life have been studied: it seems as if there
were nothing left to desire.

It is impossible, however, in speaking of American interiors, to pass
over in silence a certain eyesore, which meets your sight at every turn.

The most indispensable, most conspicuous, piece of furniture in America
is the spittoon. All rooms are provided with this object of prime
necessity; you find one beside your seat in the trains, under your table
in the restaurants: impossible to escape the sight of the ugly utensil.
In the hotel corridors, there is a spittoon standing sentinel outside
every door. In public edifices, the floors are dotted with them, and
they form the line all up the stairs.

The Americans, used to these targets from the tenderest age, are
marvellously adroit at the use of them: they never miss their aim. I saw
some really striking feats of marksmanship; but perhaps the best of all
at the Capitol, in Washington.

The Supreme Court of Judicature was sitting. As I entered, an advocate
was launching thunders of eloquence. All at once he stopped, looked at a
spittoon which stood two yards off, aimed at it, and, krrron, craaahk,
ptu!--right in the bull's-eye! Then on he went with his harangue. I
looked to see the seven judges and the public applaud and cry "Bravo!"
Not a murmur; the incident passed completely unnoticed. Probably there
was not a man in the hall who could not say to himself: "There's nothing
in that; I could do as much."


    _Society Jottings.--Blue Blood in the United States.--Fashionable
    Society.--Plutocracy.--Parvenus and Arrivés.--Literary and
    Artistic Society.--Provincialism.--All the Americans have two
    Family Names.--Colonels and Judges.--American Hospitality.--
    Terrapin and Raw Duck._

A word about American aristocracy, to begin with.

What, American aristocracy?

Yes, certainly.

I assure you that there exist, in America, social sanctuaries into which
it is more difficult to penetrate than into the most exclusive mansions
of the Faubourg Saint-Germain or of Mayfair and Belgravia.

There are in Philadelphia; in Beacon Street, Boston; in Washington
Square (north side), New York; in Virginia; in Canal Street (right
side), New Orleans, Americans who look upon common mortals with much
more pity and contempt than the Montmorencys of France or the Howards of

Americans, not having any king to give them titles of nobility, have
created an aristocracy for themselves. This aristocracy boasts as yet no
dukes, marquises, earls, or barons, but the blue blood is there, it
appears--Dutch blood--and that is sufficient.

When a European nobleman arrives in the States, the American aristocracy
leave cards upon him at the hotel where he has alighted. He may perhaps
be personally known to none; but all nobilities are kindred
everywhere--it is an act of international courtesy. The European
nobleman, who often goes to America for a dowried wife, is much obliged
to them, and returns all the visits paid him.

A New York lady, who is quite an authority upon such matters, told me
one day that Society in New York was composed of only four hundred
persons. Outside this company of _élite_, all Philistines.

Money or celebrity may allow you to enter into this charmed circle, but
you will never belong to it. You will be in it, but not of it. The lady
in question entered also into very minute details on the subject of what
she called the difference between "Society people" and "people in
Society"; but, in spite of all her explanations, I confess I did not
seize all the delicate _nuances_ she tried to convey. All I clearly
understood was that the aristocracy of birth exists in America, not only
in the brains of those who form part of it, but in the eyes of their

The desire to establish an aristocracy of some sort was bound to haunt
the breast of the Americans; it was the only thing that their dollars
seemed unable to procure them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second aristocracy is the aristocracy of money--plutocracy. To
belong to this it is not sufficient to be a millionaire; you must, I am
told, belong to a third generation of millionaires. Of such are the
Astors, Vanderbilts, and company. Three quarters of "nobility" are the
necessary key to this little world. The first generation makes the
millions, the second generation is _parvenue_, the third is _arrivée_.
In the eyes of these people to have from five to ten thousand a year is
to be in decent poverty; to have forty or fifty thousand a year is to be
in easy circumstances.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third aristocracy is the aristocracy of talent, literary and
artistic society. This third aristocracy is incontestably the first, if
you will excuse the Hibernianism.

I do not think that one could find anywhere, or even imagine, a society
more cultivated, more affable, more hospitable, more witty, or more
brilliant. I should like just here to indulge in a string of adjectives
_à la_ Mme. de Sévigné.

One of the consequences of the position which woman takes in the United
States is that, in good American drawing-rooms, conversation is never

"If I were queen," exclaimed Mme. Récamier one day, "I would command
Mme. de Staël to talk to me all day long." One would like to be able to
give the same order to plenty of American women. In their company
conversation never flags, and always remains within the domains of
_causerie_; they glide lightly from one subject to another, extracting
something fresh from each; pass from the serious to the gay, even to the
frivolous, without becoming common-place; soar again to lofty heights,
but do not disdain to come down to gossip for a minute or two: all this
without a grain of affectation, but with a charm of naturalness that is
delightfully winning.

Frenchwomen are the only ones I know who can compare with the American
lady in charm of conversation; and, even then, I am obliged to admit two
things: that the American women of intellectual society are often more
natural than their French rivals, and that they make less effort to
charm. In a word, with them you are amiable without having to be
gallant; and none of those stereotyped compliments, which so often spoil
the charm of a conversation between a man and a woman, are expected of

In this society the reunions are not only veritable feasts for the mind;
the heart also plays its part. You are welcomed with such cordiality
that you feel at once among friends--friends whom you will have profound
regret at being obliged to quit so soon, and with whom you hope to keep
up relations all your days.

When the steamer left New York harbour, and I was bound for Europe, I
hardly knew whether the desire to see my own country again was stronger
than my regret at leaving America.

After all, thought I, I am not saying _adieu_ to the Americans, but _au
revoir_; a seven days' journey, and I can be among them again.

       *       *       *       *       *

The large towns of America, even New York, are provincial in this sense:
everyone is interested in what the others do. It is not Paris, still
less London. Thanks to that indefatigable meddler, the American
reporter, who thrusts his nose everywhere, the slightest incidents of
private life are made public, and commented upon right and left
immediately. You need only live a couple of months in one of the large
American cities, no matter which, in order to know everyone, and all
their doings.

The mind of the Americans is always on the alert. They enter into
everything, everything interests them, and there is always some fresh
subject for conversation. If it is not a social event, or a literary or
political one, it is a little scandal, a new religious sect, a new
spiritualistic imposture--faith-healing, mind-cure;[6] conversation
never dies for want of subjects. Exclaim that it is eccentricity if you
like, and you will not be far wrong; but add that it is life, and you
will be right. It is an existence more interesting than French life in
the provinces, as the French poet has described it:--

  "You waken, rise, and dress, go out to see the town;
  Come home to dine or sup, and then to sleep lie down."

   [6] This new craze was upon every tongue at the beginning of
       the year. I was assured that, "being ill, you have only to
       determine with all your soul that you will get well, and you
       are forthwith restored to health." Mind is universal: you
       are part of the universal mind, and nothing can really ail
       you. So runs the jargon of the sect.

The Americans, and that in every station of life, have almost always
three names: one Christian name and two family ones: George Washington
Smith, Benjamin Franklin Jones, William Tell Brown. I should not have
been astonished to make the acquaintance of a Mr. Napoleon Bonaparte
Robinson. The celebrities do not escape it any more than the rest: Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes,
Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Richard Watson Gilder, James Russell Lowell,
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, etc., etc. Can one not see in
these double names a title which the father thinks he confers on his
child at the baptismal font?

All new societies have the same weaknesses. On the morrow of the Great
Revolution, did we not call our children Epaminondas, Leonidas, Darius,
Napoleon, etc.?

       *       *       *       *       *

Every American, with the least self-respect, is colonel or judge. Few
escape it, as Mark Twain once remarked of the decoration of the Legion
of Honour. We are quits, Mark. America has a hundred times as many
colonels as we have knights of the Legion of Honour.

When you are presented to a gentleman in an American drawing-room, and
you have unfortunately not caught his name, there is no need to try and
repair the evil; call him "Colonel," nine times out of ten it is safe;
if luck should be against you, call him "Judge," and you are pretty sure
to be right.

If, however, pursued by the Fates, you should discover that your
interlocutor is neither colonel nor judge, you have yet another
resource--call him "Professor," and you are out of your difficulty: an
American always professes something, an art, a religion, a science, and
you are risking nothing.

I met a few American Colonels who had recently been promoted _misters_.
They were so proud of their new title that they insisted on being
addressed thus.

       *       *       *       *       *

American hospitality deserves the reputation which it enjoys in Europe.
If it errs, it is perhaps on the side of prodigality. But how criticise
hosts so amiable and so cordial?

American hospitality is princely. You are not often invited, even in
houses where the daily _menu_ is of the most appetising, to go and share
the family dinner. You are not invited to dine--a _fête_ is got up for
you. If this cannot be managed, you are seldom invited at all.

You generally find you have been asked to a banquet: oysters, soup,
_hors d'oeuvre_, fish, _relevés_, _entrées_, sorbets, roasts, stew of
terrapin, game (raw canvas-back duck, when in season), salads--five or
six vegetables, pastry, sweets, cheese, ices and dessert, the whole
washed down with the choicest wines, Château-Yquem, Amontillado, iced
champagne, Château-Lafitte, and such precious beverages.

In good American houses the cooking is excellent; you will not find
better in London and Paris.

The most _recherché_ of American dishes is terrapin stew: when in
season, it figures at every feast. The flavour is so pronounced that one
is bound to think it either delicious or detestable.

Am I obliged to tell you which I think it?

An American asked me one day whether I liked terrapin.

I replied: "It is nothing but polite to bow to the customs of a country
one visits. Terrapin is eaten in the United States, and I eat it."

Canvas-back duck is a great delicacy. It is hung in front of a fire for
a few minutes only. The first time this purple meat is presented to you,
it horrifies you; but I advise you to try and surmount your
repugnance--the dish is exquisite.

In France, the English have the reputation of liking all kinds of meat
very much undercooked. It is only one of the thousand absurd stories
told about them. They prefer their meat very much cooked, on the

One of the many jokes on the subject of canvas-back duck which I heard
was this:

One of these birds having been served to an Englishman, he, after a
glance at it, called the waiter and said to him:

"Pass through the kitchen with it once more, please."


    _Millionaires.--A List of the Great American Fortunes.--The
    Stock Exchange.--A Billionaire's House.--Benevolent Acts.--A
    Democracy Ruled by many Kings._

I am afraid it will make my readers' lips water, but here is a list of
some American fortunes, as I have heard them stated:--

      Name.              Capital.         Revenue at 5%.
  J. Gould             £55,000,000          £2,750,000
  J. W. Mackay          50,000,000           2,500,000
  C. Vanderbilt         25,000,000           1,250,000
  J. P. Jones           20,000,000           1,000,000
  J. J. Astor           18,000,000             900,000
  W. Stewart             8,000,000             400,000
  G. Bennett             6,000,000             300,000

These are the princes of the Land of the Dollar. The largest English
fortunes fall short of these figures. The Duke of Westminster's is
reckoned at only £16,000,000; that of the Duke of Sutherland at
£6,000,000; the Duke of Northumberland has £5,000,000; and the Marquis
of Bute £4,000,000.

It is in mines and railways especially that the colossal fortunes have
been made.

In France, with their fortunes translated into francs, Messrs. Jay Gould
and J. W. Mackay would be billionaires; it takes a larger word than
millionaire to give an idea of the opulence of these men, and I beg to
suggest to the editors of French dictionaries the addition of the word,

  "MILLIARDAIRE, or BILLIONAIRE--a person possessing at least a
  _milliard_. This phenomenon is found in America."

Needless to say that, with his millions on millions, Mr. Jay Gould is a
power. I was told in America that this man went to New York with only a
few dollars in his pocket, and for some time earned a living by selling
mousetraps. He now holds the American Stock Exchange in the hollow of
his hand; instead of mice, he goes for _bulls_ and _bears_, and stocks
rise and fall at his whim. Other speculators are glad to pick up the
crumbs that fall from his fingers. As for contending with him, as well
try to break the bank at Monte Carlo with a sixpenny-piece.

I have not seen the town house or the country house of Mr. Gould; but I
know that in the grounds of the latter stand conservatories estimated to
be worth £50,000. I trust this will give an idea of what the rest may
be. In these jottings, taken by the way, I can scarcely do more than put
the reader on the track of that which can be seen in America.

I cannot guarantee that Mr. Gould is a happy man. Concerning immense
fortunes, a witty American friend, rich in moderation and a great
philosopher, said to me one day:

"No man can own more than a million dollars. When his bank account
outgrows that, he does not own it; it owns him, and he becomes its

The two kings of American plutocracy are Messrs. Vanderbilt and Astor.
The name of king applies to them less on account of the size of their
fortune than the generous use they make of it. They have founded
hospitals, museums, and libraries, and are known for the generosity with
which they respond to appeals for help in philanthropical causes.
Shortly before my arrival in America, Mr. Vanderbilt had given 500,000
dollars to found a hospital in New York. Mrs. Astor had just given
225,000 dollars towards the funds of the Cancer Hospital.

The Vanderbilt mansion, in Fifth Avenue, New York, is a princely
habitation. One might fill a volume in giving a complete description of
the treasures that are crowded into it. The luxury on all sides is
extreme. In the bath-room, I am told, the walls are all mirrors painted
thickly with trails of morning glories, so that the bather seems to be
in a bower of flowers. In plate and pictures, several million dollars
must have been spent. The pictures hang in two spacious, well-lighted
rooms. They number one hundred and seventy-four works, from the brushes
of great modern masters, including the "Sower" and seven other
masterpieces of Jean François Millett, three Rosa Bonheurs, seven
Meissoniers, Turners, Géromes, the "Bataille de Rezonville" by Detaille,
seven pictures by Theodore Rousseau, and beautiful examples of Alma
Tadema, Sir F. Leighton, John Linnell, Bouguereau, Corot, Doré, Bonnat,
and Munkacsy. In the entrance-hall hangs a portrait of Vanderbilt I.,
founder of the dynasty.

The Americans, having no king in our sense of the word, make the most of
those they have, Republicans though they be. To read the pedigrees,
published in full every time a death occurs in one of these rich
families, is highly entertaining. A Mrs. Astor died while I was in
America, and, after the enumeration of her charms and virtues, which
were many, came the list of John Jacobs from whom her husband had
sprung. The Astors were all John Jacobs apparently, and were mentioned
as John Jacob I., John Jacob II., John Jacob III. The line does not go
back very far, John Jacob I. having gone to America as a poor emigrant
early in this century, I believe, and laid the foundation of the present
grandeur of his House by trading in furs.

It will not do to inquire too closely into the way in which some of
America's millionaires have amassed wealth. Strange stories are told of
men so grasping that they stopped at nothing, even to the ruining of
their own sons. When I saw Mr. Bronson Howard's clever play, _The
Henrietta_, in which he portrays a son so madly engrossed by the
excitement of gambling on the Stock Exchange as to try and absorb even
his father's millions, I thought the picture was overdrawn. Americans,
however, told me that the case was historical, but with the characters
reversed--which made it still more odious.

As for the colossal fortunes of railway kings, it is well known how
thousands of small ones go to make them; how the rich man's palace is
too often built with the stones of hundreds of ruined homes.

There is no other name than king used in speaking of the few rich
financiers who hold the bulk of the railway stock in America. But they
are not the only ones. There are oil kings, copper kings, silver kings,
and I know not what other majesties in America; and when you see the
power possessed by these, and the numberless Trusts, Combinations, and
Pools--a power pressing often very sorely on the million--you wonder how
the Americans, who found one King one too many, should submit so
patiently to being governed by scores.


    _The American Girl.--Her Liberty.--Her Manners.--Respect for
    Woman.--Youthful Reminiscences.--Flirtation Perfected.--The
    "Boston."--Why the Young American Lady does not Object to the
    Society of Men.--European Coats of Arms Regilt and Redeemed
    from Pawn.--Americans of the Faubourg Saint Germain.--Lady
    Randolph Churchill.--Mating of May and December.--Stale Theme
    of American Plays.--An Angel.--The Tell-tale Collodion.--The
    Heroine of "L'Abbé Constantin."--What American Girls Admire in
    a Man._

The liberty enjoyed by American girls astonishes the English as much as
the liberty of the English girl astonishes the French.

From the age of eighteen the American girl is allowed almost every
liberty. She takes the others.

She can travel alone, and go to concerts and even to theatres,
unattended by a _chaperone_.

She is supplied with pocket-money, which she spends at her own sweet
will in bonbons, knick-knacks, and jewels. If there is none left for the
milliner and dressmaker, Papa is coaxed to pay them. She visits and
receives whom she pleases, or rather those who please her. She has her
own circle of acquaintances. If, at a ball, she meet with a young man
who takes her fancy--I do not say touches her heart--she says to him: "I
am at home on such a day: come and see me." Next day he may send her a
ticket for the theatre, and be her escort for the evening. He may bring
her flowers, offer her refreshments after the play, and take her home in
a carriage. In America all this is the most natural thing in the world.
This leads to no intimacy: for a few days later, it may happen that he
meets the young lady at a ball, and she comes up to him and says: "I
want to present you to a friend; do tell me your name, I quite forget

The American girl, who appears to us French so giddy, and even fast,
seems to me to act according to the dictates of common sense. Tired of
the old formula, "A lady cannot do that--it would be improper," she
says; "I will do it; and if I choose to do it, it becomes proper." It is
for women herself to make the law on these matters. "Why should I not go
to the theatre alone?" she says. "If your streets are impure, it is for
you to cleanse them. Why should not I receive my ball-partners who
please me? If one of them were to profit by my seeing him alone in the
drawing-room to take a liberty with me, he would be an ill-bred fellow,
and I should promptly have him shown out of the house; and certainly it
is not for such as he that I should change my habits."

       *       *       *       *       *

It is the respect that women inspire in American men which allows the
young girl to go about with such freedom, and to queen it all through
the States. Jonathan might give more than one lesson on this subject to
the men of the Old World, even to the Frenchman, who, in the matter of
politeness, lives a good deal on the reputation of his ancestors.
Jonathan's respect for woman is disinterested, purely platonic. In
France, this respect takes the form of a politeness which verges on
gallantry, and is often not disinterested. A Frenchman will always stand
back to let a lady pass; but he will profit by the occasion to take a
good look at her. The American, in similar circumstance, will
respectfully lower his eyes.

In trains, where the seats are constructed to hold two persons, you will
see the American seek a place from one end of the train to the other
before he will go and seat himself by the side of a young girl. He will
only do so when there is no help for it. I have many times even noticed
men standing up in the local trains, rather than run the risk of
incommoding a young girl by sharing a seat with her. And I am not
speaking now of gentlemen only, but of men belonging to the middle, if
not lower, class--if the word "class" may be used in speaking of the

       *       *       *       *       *

With what pleasure I remember the young American girls whom I
occasionally met at Parisian parties in my youthful days. Their pretty
bright faces, their elegance, their unconventional charm of manner, and
animated, natural conversation--all these enchanted me. One never felt
awkward with them. Whereas, with a young French girl, I could generally
find nothing but absurd commonplaces to say, in the presence of
Jonathan's merry maidens I lost my timidity, and could chat away with
as little embarrassment as I would with a young brother-officer of my

The American girl is still without rivals in Parisian drawing-rooms,
where she is more and more sought after. Men seek her for her gaiety,
wit, or beauty; mothers look favourably upon her for her dollars. The
younger women tear her to shreds; nothing is wanting to her success.

It was to her that Paris owed the introduction of that attractive dance,
the "Boston." An inspiration, this dance!

Someone, I forget whom, has remarked of the waltz: "It is charming, it
is fascinating; but one cannot chat." With the "Boston" it is different:
one can dance that, and chat, and flirt too. Now a flirtation with an
American girl is immensely agreeable, on account of the perfection which
she brings to the art. To be gallant is no longer sufficient; to say
things that are pretty, but insipid and commonplace, will not do at all;
you must surpass yourself in wit and amiability, while keeping well
within the bounds of the strictest propriety.

The "Boston" lends itself admirably to this charming amusement. It is
voluptuously slow; a go-as-you-please dance, offering the added charm of
a delightful _tête-à-tête_, when your partner is a bright and pretty

       *       *       *       *       *

I also used to get a great deal of diversion in looking at the American
girls clearing the buffet. How they would fall-to! How they made the
ices disappear, and tossed off punch, champagne, or anything that came
to their pretty little hands! With what disdain they passed over the
syrups and _eau sucrée_ that the French girls timidly sipped, looking
all the while to see whether Mamma was not staring round-eyed to show
that she disapproved of such dissipation. They must have something
serious and satisfying.

"A little more champagne, mademoiselle?"

"Yes, please."

"Another of these little cakes?"

"Yes, please."

Only the musicians, as they struck up the first bars of the next dance,
had fascination enough to draw them away from the refreshment-room.

And what spirit there was in their dancing! What animation! What eyes
lit up with pleasure! Not a moment's flagging: they danced with as much
suppleness at five in the morning as at the beginning of the evening.
And why not, indeed? Such pleasures are harmless; and it is not because
a woman has danced much in her girlhood that she should lead her husband
a dance, when she has one.

Good scholars are as easy to discover in the recreation-ground as in the
classroom. The morality of a youth is in direct proportion to the
delight he takes in play; that of a girl may be measured by her gaiety
and high spirits.

I shall never forget a young American girl who sat at the same table as
myself on board the steamer. The dear child, who was about seventeen,
performed prodigies. I could scarcely believe my eyes, and watched her
with never-flagging interest. What appetite! What a little _table
d'hôte_ ogress! I trembled for our supplies, and wondered whether the
Company had foreseen the danger.

First of all, at seven in the morning, tea and bread-and-butter was
taken to the hungry one in her cabin. At half-past eight, she
breakfasted. At this meal she generally went straight through the bill
of fare. At eleven, she had beef-tea and biscuits brought to her on
deck. Lunch-time found her ready for three courses of solid food,
besides pastry, fruit, etc. At five, she had tea. At six o'clock, she
did valiantly again; and at ten, she was regularly served with a welsh
rabbit, or some other tasty trifle. Notwithstanding this, I rarely met
her on deck, or in the corridors, but she was munching sweets,
gingerbread, or chocolate.

After all, there are so few distractions on board ship! Men smoke, and
perhaps play poker. Some people sleep, some try to think, but
unsuccessfully, others read; some ladies knit. The American girl eats.

       *       *       *       *       *

The American girl likes men's society for several reasons. First,
because she is well-educated and able to talk on almost all topics. She
can talk knick-knacks and pretty nonsense; but if she knows how to
describe the "cunningest bonnet" lately invented in Paris, she can also
tell you all about Octave Feuillet's latest novel, or even Herbert
Spencer's latest work. She likes men's society because it enlarges her
circle of acquaintances, and also because it increases her chances of
making a good match. No matter how much of a butterfly she may be, she
never loses sight of the future. She does not say, as she sits musing on
marriage, "What kind of man shall I suit?" but, "What kind of man shall
I choose?"

The society of men has all the less danger for her that her virtue rests
on a firm basis of calculation. She will not embark in the romance until
she sees her way to profit--and profits--thereby. Fortune, or a title,
that is her aim. She keeps it in view, even in the most _touching_
moments. Between two kisses, she will perhaps ask her lover: "Are you
rich?" It is the pinch of rhubarb between two layers of jam.

The constant aspiration of these young Republicans is to be one day
countess, marchioness, or duchess.

The number of European coats-of-arms which have been taken out of pawn,
or regilt, with American dollars is enormous.

Not long ago a writer on the staff of the Paris _Figaro_ counted, among
the guests in one of the most select drawing-rooms of the Faubourg
Saint-Germain, thirty-seven American ladies, bearing thirty-seven names
of the most authentic French nobility. To name only those which are
present at the moment in my memory: the Princess Murat, mother of the
Duchesse de Mouchy, is American; the Marquise de Chasseloup-Laubat is
American; the Comtesse de Saint-Ronan; _la Générale_ de Charette, the
Comtesse de Chevigné, and the Comtesse de Ganay are Americans. The
daughters of the Great Democracy have become not only French in heart,
but as Royalist as the most ultramontane of our old dowagers.

Everyone knows how many American women the English aristocracy counts in
its bosom, and that that Tory and most powerful political association,
called the Primrose League, originated with Lady Randolph Churchill, the
young and handsome daughter of Mr. Jerome, of New York.

How many noble _chevaliers d'industrie_ have exploited the American
market, and at a bound become accepted suitors by some of Jonathan's
daughters! It is known that Pranzini was in correspondence with the
daughter of a wealthy New York banker, to whom he would probably be
married now under the title of Count (I forget _whom_), had not the
cuffs which he left behind in poor Marie Regnault's room put the police
on his track.

       *       *       *       *       *

That passion for rich marriages, which burns in the heart of so many
young American women, often leads to disastrous results.

If one may trust one's eyes, American law allows young girls to marry
their grandfathers, or at least the contemporaries of those worthies.

It is not rare, I may say it is quite common, to see girls of eighteen
and twenty married to men of seventy and over.

As a Frenchman, I know it scarcely becomes me to throw the first stone
at my neighbour for this: France is admittedly a country where _mariages
de convenance_ are common. Still, I must say the difference is enormous.
In France, it is the parents who are to blame, and not the girls. They
try to secure for their daughters what they are pleased to call a
position; whilst, in America, it is the young girl herself who chooses
her husband: she alone is responsible for this crime against Cupid's
laws. She has not, either, the French girl's excuse--ignorance of the
world; she knows better what awaits her on leaving the church. A French
girl sometimes passes straight from the convent to the marriage altar,
without her consent having been asked, or even her opinion consulted.
And, again, I must add that if French parents often cause a girl of
twenty to marry a man twice her age, they would shudder at the idea of
giving her into the arms of an old man.

The young American, indulged and petted by her father, counts that an
old husband will be more likely to put up with her caprices, and gratify
all her whims, than a young man whose fortune was not made. "A young
husband," she says to herself, "is all very fine; but there is my
father, who does just what I please; I am pretty, and have hosts of men
to tell me so every day; I am free to go where I like and receive whom I
like; I spend as much as I like: shall I exchange all this for a
husband, who will hamper me with a household and perhaps a large family;
who will talk of stocks, and perhaps preach economy; who will bore me
with the prices of grain or cotton-seed oil, and give me the headache
with listening to his politics and heaven knows what? No, no; I will
take a husband who will think of nothing but satisfying my caprices."
Perhaps she adds, in her wisdom: "A man of seventy or eighty I shall not
have to put up with very long."

This kind of marriage is the well-worn theme of many American comedies.
A woman is married to an old man or a rich matter-of-fact merchant. A
young lover of former days, who at the time of the wedding was
travelling abroad, appears upon the scene, and is thrown in contact with
the young wife. He reproaches her with her conduct, and reminds her of
his love for her, which has never ceased to live in his heart. The
husband is out of the way, occupied with business, wrapped up in
money-making, and the fair one listens to the tender reproaches of him
she loved, but dismissed in favour of a richer husband. The danger is
menacing; it is a struggle between love and duty. Duty triumphs, of
course; but the picture of American life remains none the less faithful.

       *       *       *       *       *

An American told me that he once went a long journey in the same railway
carriage with an infirm, hoary old man of eighty, who was accompanied by
a girl of scarce more than twenty. This young woman was strikingly
beautiful. My American friend admitted to me that the sight of her
lovely face had the effect of making him fall quite in love with her
before their five days' journey was over. He did not have an opportunity
of conversing with her; but on arriving at their destination, he
resolved to put up at the same hotel as the old man, so as to perhaps
have a chance of making more ample acquaintance with his fair charge. To
find out the name of the young girl and her venerable grandfather, he
waited to sign his name in the hotel register until the patriarch had
inscribed his own. Imagine his feelings when he read:

"Mr. X. and wife."

Here is a joke that I culled from a Washington paper. Is it a joke?

"A bachelor lately advertised for a wife. A typographical error changed
his age from 37 to 87; but it made no difference, for he received over
250 applications, from ladies ranging in age from 16 to 60, and all
promising love and devotion to the rest of his existence."

Here is another, which I extract from a comic paper. The author seems to
believe that the American mother does not look on such marriages with

"_Mother._--'So you have engaged yourself to Mr. Jones. You must be a
goose. He has neither fortune nor position. I know he may one day be
well off; his grandfather may leave him part of his fortune, perhaps.'

"_Daughter._--'But, mamma, it is his grandfather I am engaged to.'

"_Mother._--'Kiss me, my child; you are an angel!'"

Whatever may be said on the subject, these marriages--I was going to say
these prostitutions--are but the exception; but the exception is too
frequent to be possible to pass it by in silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The American girl is past-mistress in the art of turning to account her
little capital of beauty, youth, and virtue. To bring about the
realisation of a dream, she knows how to employ all love's artillery,
and if the object of her desire is recalcitrant, she can fire red-hot

The late Alfred Assollant told how an American girl succeeded in making
a young English lord marry her. In certain States of the Union it is
sufficient to pass the night with a woman to be declared her husband by
the law in the morning. This damsel, it appears, invited the young lord
to sup in her own room. This is done, or was done, in certain parts of
America, and morals were perhaps none the worse for it. The bait took,
and at supper the scion of a lordly house got tipsy and went to sleep in
the maiden's room, all ignorant of the law.

At daybreak there is a knocking at the door. _Tableau!_ The fair one,
all tearful and dishevelled, unbolts it, and ushers in the minister, who
comes followed by the girl's parents and two witnesses, who are in the
plot. The young lord in vain protests his innocence; he is married then
and there, and the damsel only consents to his departure after having
been bribed by a sum of a hundred thousand dollars.

Here is another story of the same stamp, which I heard told in America.
It is not more authentic than Alfred Assollant's, but that which is very
certain is that such an anecdote could not originate outside America.
There are two kinds of truth: the truth that is true and the truth that
might be true; in other words, there is truth to fact as well as truth
to fiction.

This is the story, just as it was told:

An American girl adored a rich, handsome young fellow, who unhappily did
not respond to her flame. One fine day a luminous idea occurs to her.
She pretends to be ill, and sends to the young man to say she would like
to see him. He hurries to the home of the fair invalid, who receives him
lying on a sofa. She avows her love, and begs him to give her one kiss
and bid her a long adieu. The swain bends over the sofa. The young lady
encircles his neck with her arms, draws his head down, and imprints a
long, lingering kiss on his lips. During this time, a photographer,
hidden behind the hangings of the room, had his camera turned on the
young couple. Next day the cunning lass sent her unconscious dupe a
negative of the touching little scene of the day before, asking how many
copies she should get printed. In face of the betraying collodion, and
to save his honour, the youth saw that there was but one thing to be
done, and that was to walk to the altar, which he did without a murmur.

So much for caricature, or, if you prefer it, for the truth that is not

To return to strict verity, it is perfectly certain that an American
girl does not fear to let a man understand that she loves him, and that,
if need be, she lets no false modesty prevent her from telling him so.
Bettina, in "L'Abbé Constantin," divines that Jean Reynaud loves her,
but that he is scrupulous about avowing it, and, in order to avoid her,
asks to be sent to join another garrison. She comes to him frankly. She
knows that Jean will not make the advances, and she does it instead. The
scene is as true to American life as it is pretty. It is the faithful
portrait of an American girl, a perfect photograph: one of those
artistic photographs that M. Ludovic Halévy is so clever at.

       *       *       *       *       *

The real American girl admires male qualities in man. The perfumed
dandy, dressed in the latest fashion--the _dude_, as he is called in the
States--is not her admiration; she prefers a little roughness to too
much polish. At a large reception, given at the New York Union League
Club in the early part of the year, I asked a young lady who were ten or
a dozen young men who did not miss a single dance.

"Oh," she replied, with an air of sovereign contempt, "a few young
_dudes_, who have been invited by the club just to keep up the dancing:
marionettes, you know."


    _The Emancipation of Woman.--Extinction of Man.--War against
    Beards.--Ladies Purifying the Streets of New York.--The Ladies
    "Go it" Alone, and have a "Good Time."_

In a country where woman is a spoilt child, petted, and made so much of,
who can do and dare almost anything, it is strange to find women who are
not content with their lot, but demand the complete emancipation of
their sex.

American women asking for complete emancipation! It makes one smile.

I was talking one evening with Mrs. Devereux Blake, the chief of the
movement. (She is a lady middle-aged, well-preserved, of a fluent,
agreeable conversation, who has declared war to the knife against the
tyrant Man.)

"You must excuse me," I said to her, "if I ask questions; I am anxious
to learn. I have submitted so many times to the interviewing process in
your country, that I feel as if I had a right to interview the Americans
a little in my turn. The American woman appears to me ungrateful not to
be satisfied with her lot. She seems to rule the roast in the United

"No," replied Mrs. Blake, "she does not; but she ought."

"But she certainly does," I insisted.

"_De facto_, yes; but _de jure_, no."

"What do you want more?"

"The right to make laws."

"What do you mean by that?"

"The right of voting for candidates for Congress, and even the right to
a seat in the House of Representatives."

"This appears to me a little too exacting, and almost unfair," I
observed timidly. "You probably already make your husbands vote as you
please: if, added to this, you are going to throw your own votes into
the electoral urn, it means the extinction of man, neither more nor
less; and, as Léon Gozlan said, 'it is perhaps as well that there should
be two sexes, for some time longer at all events.' My dear lady, you are
spoilt children, and spoilt children are never satisfied."

I felt a little out of place in this energetic lady's drawing-room,
almost like a wolf in the fold. Nevertheless, I learned very interesting
things that evening.

A lady, who enjoyed that most esteemed of woman's rights, the right to
be pretty, gave me some very curious details on the subject of New York
life. We were speaking of the security of women in the large towns, and
of the risk they ran in going out alone after nightfall.

"I have been struck with the respectability of your American streets," I
said to her. "One never sees vice flaunting by daylight; and, in the
evening, whenever I have been through the great arteries of your city,
I have never seen anything that could shock the eyes of an honest woman.
In Paris, the boulevards are infested with harlots from eight o'clock in
the evening; and the evil is much worse in London, where from four or
five in the afternoon a whole district is given over to them."

"You are right," said the lady; "but if the streets of New York are
respectable, it is thanks to us. If we had waited until the men swept
our pavements, we should have had to wait a long time. We cleaned them

"What do you mean?"

"A few years ago, several young women, among whom I might name members
of our best society, resolved upon going out alone in the evenings, and
of striking the first man who dared to accost them. They persevered for
a long while, and finally succeeded in accomplishing the disinfection of
the main streets. Vice still exists; but it keeps within doors, and
hides instead of parading itself. If you are able to go out at night
with your wife, or even your young daughters; if a lady can go to the
theatre alone, and, if it please her, return home on foot, it is to us
that thanks are due. And do you not think that women, young,
good-looking, and well-bred, who could master their disgust so far as to
do that which the authorities were too cowardly to undertake, are not
worthy to have a deliberative voice in the councils of the nation?"

I could not answer this.

Certainly, woman's influence upon public morality is most salutary, and
ought to be given free play. I do not doubt that, if women occupied
seats in all Town Councils, the streets would promptly be purified, and
women would be able to go into the public thoroughfares at all hours as
freely as their husbands and brothers.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am going to launch a rather dangerous assertion.

It seems to me that the American woman does not render to man a
hundredth part of the adoration he renders to her. If love could spring
from gratitude, Jonathan would be the most beloved of men; but does it
ever spring from such a source?

In the eyes of the American woman, man has his good points. He ensures
her a good position when he marries her; he works hard to satisfy her
smallest wishes; and so long as his signature has any value at the foot
of a cheque, this will be an extenuating circumstance in his favour.

       *       *       *       *       *

A young Baltimore lady told me one day that she often invited twenty or
thirty girl friends to lunch with her. Not the shadow of a man at these
parties. The same kind of entertainment is given by numbers of young
ladies in Society in other cities. At these lunches there often are as
many as forty or fifty of Brother Jonathan's fair daughters; and they,
with no other helps than their tongues and their teeth, spend three or
four hours most merrily without the aid of man, and have a "real good
time," as they call it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are numerous women's clubs in the United States, These sanctuaries
are never profaned by the presence of man. The very postman and
tradesmen only approach it with bated breath.

The members have their library, drawing-room, dining-room, boudoirs,
bedrooms. They make music, read, write, chat, and pass time very

One of the most important ladies' clubs is the Sorosis Club, of New
York. Once a year the ladies of Sorosis give a banquet, to which
gentlemen, as well as ladies, are invited. It was a source of sincere
regret to me that my engagements in the South prevented me from
accepting the kind invitation of the President to join that brilliant
gathering at Delmonico's.

       *       *       *       *       *

This spirit of independence in woman produces excellent results, it must
be confessed. You find, in America, women who, by their talents, have
won for themselves positions which numbers of men might envy. And do not
imagine that I am speaking of blue-stockings, spectacled spinsters
disdained of Cupid. Not at all. The American woman has always tact
enough to remain womanly. Even among the heroines of the platform, I
have always noticed a little touch of coquetry, which proves to me that
man is not in imminent danger of being suppressed in America.

       *       *       *       *       *

Only a few days after I set foot in New York, a friend took me to visit
the offices of the principal newspapers of the city. Passing along a
corridor in _The World's_ offices, I remarked a lady writing in one of
the rooms. My friend led the way in, and presented me to her. I found
her to be a pretty brunette of about twenty or twenty-two, delightfully
_piquante_, and with most distinguished manners. I was struck with her
simple bearing and her intelligent expression, and, on leaving the room,
naturally wanted to know to whom I had had the pleasure of being
introduced. I learned then that this young American girl did all the
literary reviewing and gossip for the _New York World_, and took up as
large a salary as a writer on the staff of the Paris _Figaro_.

The _St. Nicholas Magazine_ is conducted by a lady.

Since her husband's death, Mrs. Frank Leslie has carried on, under her
own management, the numerous magazines which issue from the house
founded by that gentleman.

The largest newspapers, and all the principal Reviews, have ladies on
their staffs.

Miss Mary Louise Booth, who directs the _Harper's Bazaar_, receives a
salary of eight thousand dollars.

The two editors of _The Critic_ are Miss Jeannette Gilder and Mr.
Joseph Gilder, sister and brother of Richard Watson Gilder, poet and
chief editor of the _Century Magazine_, who himself has for colleagues
Mr. Buel and a talented lady.

I might name many more.

The education of the women being, in America, very much the same as that
of the men, ladies naturally may aspire to many employments which, in
Europe, are looked upon as being the monopoly of man.


    _Prudery.--"Shocking" Expressions.--Transformation of the
    Vocabulary.--War on Nudities.--The Venus of Milo does not
    escape the Wrath of the Puritans.--Mr. Anthony Comstock in
    Chief Command.--New England Prudes.--Tattling or Calumny?_

The New England descendants of the Puritans have inherited a more than
British prudery.

Charles Dickens speaks, in his _American Notes_, of people who covered
the nakedness of their piano legs with little ornamental frills.

There still exist worthy creatures who would think it indecent to speak
of such and such a star as being visible to the naked eye.

The word "leg" is improper; you must say "lower limb." Trousers have
become "lower garments." Instead of going to bed, people "retire"; so
that the bedroom becomes "retiring-room."

A lady having said, not long ago, in a Philadelphian drawing-room, that
she felt shivers down her back, created a veritable panic among the
hostess's guests.

I read the following piece of information in a New York paper among the
news from a certain New England city:

"The authorities have begun a crusade against the nude in art. One of
the wealthiest gentlemen in the city will be proceeded against for
keeping in his house copies of the Venus de Milo, the Venus de Medici,
Canova's Venus, Power's Greek Slave, the Laocoon, and other works."

       *       *       *       *       *

During my stay in New York, I was constantly hearing of a certain Mr.
Anthony Comstock, who had attained celebrity by a campaign he had
undertaken against nudities. Mr. Comstock visited the museums,
galleries, exhibitions, and shops, and, whenever he found a bit of human
flesh portrayed in paint or marble, he went before the magistrates and
had a grand field-day. I must say, for the credit of the New Yorkers,
that Mr. Comstock had earned for himself a reputation as grotesque as it
was noisy. To take up such a line of censorship is, it seems to me, to
publish one's own perversity; and the individual whose mind is so
ill-formed that he cannot look at an artistic counterfeit presentment of
the human form divine, without thinking evil thoughts, is to be pitied,
if not despised.

But I suppose there will always be quack doctors with the cant of virtue
on their lips, and vile and filthy imaginations in their hearts.

Be that as it may, the nude in art has been having a hard time of it

Meanwhile, the Americans newspaper seemed to look upon Mr. Comstock as a
legitimate target for their jokes and satire.

The New England ladies have the reputation of being the most
easily-shocked women in the world. An American gentleman told me that a
Philadelphia lady, at whose side he was seated one day at table, grew
red to her very ears at his asking her which part of a chicken she
preferred, the wing or the leg.

Are the New England women _Saintes--Nitouches_?

Baron Salvador says that he received from a correspondent the following

"There exists, in a certain New England city, a fashionable
man-milliner, who has a room reserved ostensibly for fitting, but really
for ladies who do not disdain to imbibe privately, through a straw,
certain American drinks which they would not dare touch in public. In
this dissimulated bar, under cover of silks and satins, they delight to
chat on fashion and frivolities, while absorbing pretty tipples invented
for their lords."

The prettiest part of the affair is, that the husbands pay for the
beverages without knowing it.

On the bills, the milliner has added so much for trimmings (read: iced
champagne), so much for lace (read: sherry-cobbler); and the duped
husbands have nothing to complain of, except that the new fashions
demand a great deal of trimming.

Is this tattle or calumny?

I am inclined myself to give very little credence to the story.


    _John Bull's Cousin German.--A Salutary Lesson.--Women's
    Vengeance.--A Battle with Rotten Eggs.--An Unsavoury
    Omelette.--Tarring and Feathering.--Description of the
    Operation.--An Awkward Quarter-of-an-hour.--Vengeance of a
    Ladies' School.--A Town Council of Women.--Woman's Standing
    in the States.--Story of a Widow and her Two Daughters._

Jonathan is the cousin-german of John Bull, but yet not so German as one
might imagine; for, if Germany supplies America with three or four
hundred thousand immigrants yearly, these Germans do not Germanise
America. On the contrary, they themselves become Americanised, thanks to
that faculty of assimilation which they possess in a high degree.

One strong proof of this is the way in which women are treated from one
end of the United States to the other. And here I may say that in this
matter Jonathan sets John Bull an example which the latter would do well
to profit by.

Whilst English justice gives merely one or two months' imprisonment to
the man who is found guilty of having almost kicked his wife to death,
an American town is in arms at the mere rumour of a man having
maltreated a woman.

Here are a few scenes which I have come across in America:

Elmore Creel, an inhabitant of Greeve's Run, Wirt County, Virginia, had
been known for some time to have subjected his wife and children to
harsh treatment. The complaint became, at last, so general that an
avenging mob took upon itself to chastise him. At midnight, Creel's
house was surrounded. Creel was in bed. A squad of masked men broke into
the house, and, overcoming his struggles, tied his hands, took him to
the yard, and gave him a fearful thrashing with cowhides and hickory
withes. After whipping him, they untied him and let him go, with the
warning that another visit from them might be looked for if he was not
kinder to his wife.

The following I extract from a Pittsburg paper:

George Burton, a well-to-do man of Ohio, one day turned his wife out of
the house and left for Pittsburg. Next day he returned, bringing with
him a dashing widow, named Fenton, whom he installed in his wife's
place. When Mrs. Burton applied for admittance, she was sent away, her
husband saying that he had someone else to care for him now. The news
spread, and the female neighbours decided to avenge the wife's wrongs.
After ten o'clock at night, three hundred women went to the house and
beat the doors open. Burton and the dashing widow were dragged out, the
man being chased several blocks, and pelted the while with rotten eggs.
The widow was pounded and pummelled until the police rescued her. She
and the man were locked up in safe keeping. The neighbours then
ransacked the house, and when they left it the place looked as if a
cyclone had struck it. It was with great difficulty that the
objectionable widow was conveyed to the train in safety by the police
next day, and despatched to Trenton, New Jersey, where she came from.

Sometimes the chastisement takes a comic form. There are few
distractions in the little western towns, and native humour finds an
outlet in strange fashions. A man who illtreats his wife, or forsakes
her for another woman, is often tarred and feathered. The operation is
curious, and satisfies the vengeance of the populace, while procuring
them an hour's amusement.

The delinquent is led, sometimes to the sound of music, to a retired
spot. There he is stripped to the skin, and coated over with tar from
head to foot. This done, he is rolled in feathers, which, of course,
stick to him, and give him the appearance of a huge ugly duckling. To
put a finishing touch to the operations, his clothes are carried off,
and the mob wish him good luck.

This chastisement is sometimes applied to a woman whose conduct is known
to be immoral. In such cases it is the women who operate on the culprit.
They want their husbands and sons to be able to get about without
danger, and they take upon themselves the task of keeping the moral
atmosphere of the neighbourhood healthy. The idea appears primitive, but
morality thrives by it.

If men may not tar and feather a woman, women occasionally give
themselves the pleasure of tarring and feathering a man, which shows
once more how privileged woman is in America. On the 12th of August,
1887, the editor of a paper in a little town in Illinois had to submit
to this ignominious operation at the hands of about five hundred of his
townswomen. His crime was that of having spoken cavalierly of the
feminine morals of the township.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following is from the _New York World_:

"A few days ago, an editor living in Hammond, Indiana, was horsewhipped
by three schoolgirls, because he published articles about them which
they called falsehoods. They also threw red pepper in his eyes, and this
is a crime punishable by long sentence in this State; so that it is
expected they will be indicted."

Youth is often indiscreet. Those girls ought to have stopped at the
horsewhipping, and been happy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The susceptibilities of American women are sometimes very easily

A paper having announced a man's death under the heading, "John K. gone
to a better home," the widow brought an action for libel against the

       *       *       *       *       *

The women are not content with beating the men in the market-place, they
beat them at elections as well. During my stay in the States, the town
of Oskaloosa, in the State of Kansas, returned all the women who put up
as candidates for election to the Town Council. At the head of the poll
was a Mrs. Lowman, who was proclaimed Mayor. It was said that for a year
all the taverns and billiard-rooms of the town would be closed. When the
result of the polling was known, the men pulled very long faces; but
they finished by getting used to the idea of petticoat government, and
in the evening they serenaded their Town Councilwomen.

The further west one goes, the more apparent becomes the power of the
women; the further west one goes, the rarer does woman get. Is this the

To every American hotel there is a ladies' entrance. This is to prevent
contamination from the possible contact of man. When it rains or snows,
an awning is thrown out over the pavement; but I daresay a permanent
triumphal arch will ultimately be demanded by the ladies.

In the States of Kansas and Colorado, a woman on entering a railway
train will touch a man on the shoulder, and say _almost_ politely, "I
like that seat; you take another."

I was riding one day in a Chicago tramcar. The seats were all occupied;
but in America that does not mean that the car is full, and presently
the conductor let in a woman, who came and stood near my seat. At the
moment of her entry I had my head turned, and it might have been twenty
or thirty seconds before I perceived that she was standing in front of
me. Then I rose and offered her my place. Do not imagine that she
thanked me. She shot me a glance which clearly said, "Oh! you have made
up your mind at last; you take your time over it." I need not say that
she was not a lady; but, at any rate, she was well, even stylishly,
dressed, and looked highly respectable. The American _lady_ accepts
graciously and gracefully the homage men render her; but the vulgar
woman exacts it as her due, and does not feel bound to give any such
small change of politeness as thanks or smiles. Women are everywhere
more prone than men to act as _parvenues_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arrival of a woman in any little town of the Far West puts the male
part of the population in revolution. "Whose wife will she become?" is
the great question of the day, and all the eligible men of the
neighbourhood enroll themselves in the list of her suitors.

Here is a little story, the authenticity of which is guaranteed by the
_Dublin Mail_:

Idaho territory lies very far west indeed, and there is an alarming
scarcity of women there. This has been curiously illustrated of late in
the town of Waggon Wheel.

Recently two young ladies travelled to that remote region to attend to
their dying brother. The poor fellow did not long require their
services, and immediately after his death the sisters prepared to return
home. Before, however, they could get away, nearly the whole population
of the town--headed by the Mayor and other high officials--were making
matrimonial overtures to them. Feeling ran very high during five or six
anxious days; and the Mayor's chances, despite his mature years, ruled
the betting at six to one. At the end of the week both young ladies had
capitulated, and were duly engaged. The Mayor was, however, cut out by a
handsome young miner. The wedding-day was fixed, and the mother of the
young ladies was summoned upon the scene. Here troubles began. She duly
arrived, and was hotly indignant with her daughters for the scant
respect which they had manifested towards their brother's memory by such
indecent haste to wed. The girls explained that they had literally been
besieged, and had yielded to the overwhelming force of circumstances. As
usual, explanations increased the offence; and the mother vowed that
neither of them should be married out there at all--that, in fact, the
engagements were "off," and that they must be off too. The cup of
felicity was thus rudely dashed from the lips of the two accepted men,
and they made haste to tell their sorrows to the town. An indignation
meeting was held, and the Mayor appointed a committee to wait upon the
irate matron in order to ask her to reconsider her resolution. The
Mayor, with rare magnanimity, considering the cruel blow his own hopes
had just received, placed himself at the head of the deputation, and, in
the name of patriotism, humbly implored the good lady to grant the
petition, which he ardently urged. She, however, stood firmly on her
parental rights, and declared she would not leave the town without her
daughters. Then the genius of the Mayor shone forth like the sun. He
blandly proposed a compromise. Why need she leave at all? He drew her
attention, of course in most delicate terms, to the fact that she was
fair, plump, and fifty odd, and that similar language might be taken as
descriptive of himself. There and then he offered her his hand and
heart, and the young ladies a kind father and protector.

That settled the matter, and three marriages took place with a great
flourish of trumpets at Waggon Wheel.


    _Dress.--My Light-Grey Trousers create a Sensation in a
    Pennsylvanian Town.--Women's Dress.--Style and
    Distinction.--Bonnets fit to Frighten a Choctaw.--Dress at
    the Theatre.--Ball Toilettes.--Draw a Veil over the Past,
    Ladies.--The Frogs and the Oxen.--Interest and Capital.--Dogs
    with Gold-filled Teeth.--Vulgarity._

In America, gentlemen's dress is plain, even severe: a high hat, black
coat, dark trousers. Fancy cloth is little used, even in travelling.

I remember well the sensation I created with a pair of light-grey
trousers in a small Pennsylvanian town. Everyone seemed to look at me as
if I had been a strange animal; in the hotel the waitresses nudged one
another, and scarcely repressed a giggle; and the street-urchins
followed me as if I had been a member of the Sioux tribe in national
costume. The day after my arrival, one of the local papers announced
that "a Frenchman had landed in the town the day before in white
trousers, and that his popularity had been as prompt as decisive."

With evening dress, the American gentleman wears no jewellery of any
sort; even the watch-chain is generally invisible. Simplicity, rather
severity, in dress is a mark of distinction in a man, and the American
gentleman is no exception to the rule. This simplicity in the dress of
the men serves to throw up the brilliant attire of the women.

American ladies dress very well, as a rule; but there are a great number
who cover themselves with furbelows and jewels, and, so long as each
item is costly, trouble themselves little about the general effect. The
tailor-made gown is worn in New York, as in Paris; but there is a
proportion of women, even among the cultivated classes, who have the
most sovereign contempt for all that is not silk, satin, or velvet. On
board the _Germanic_ we had two American ladies making the journey from
Liverpool to New York in silk dresses, one a _moiré_! They were known to
belong to good society.

Yes, in the large cities they dress well; but they lack the simplicity
of style which the Princess of Wales has so happily inculcated in the
Englishwomen who surround her. American women have plenty of style of
their own, and have certainly also a great deal of distinction and
grace; but they always look dressed for conquest. It is well to be it,
but not well to show it. They are apt to laugh at the toilette of
Englishwomen, and model their own dress more on French lines. For my
part, I think that nothing can surpass a fresh young English girl in a
cotton dress and simple straw hat.

The fashionable headgear, during my sojourn in the States, was a high,
narrow construction, perched on the top of the head, and surmounted with
feathers. At a certain distance it gave its wearer the look of an irate
cockatoo. These monuments looked very heavy and difficult to maintain
in equilibrium, and the ladies wearing them walked like grenadiers in
busbies. There are French milliners in New York, I believe. Dr. Oliver
Wendell Holmes pretends that they deteriorate on American soil. I
remember we got upon this subject during a pleasant chat about his early
days in Paris, and he said, "By the time a French milliner has been six
months in New York, she will make a bonnet to frighten a Choctaw

At the theatre, women wear silk, which prevents one from hearing, and
hats a foot high, which prevent one from seeing.

An American was once asked what a play--which he might have _seen_--was
like. "Very much like the back of ladies' bonnets," he answered.

Boston ladies are an exception to the general rule. They are a great
deal more English in style, eschew show and glitter, and wear diamonds
very sparingly, even in the evening.

But the most striking contrast may be seen by going straight from New
York or Chicago to Canada. "Here we are in England once more," I
thought, as I looked at a bevy of Canadian girls disporting themselves
at an afternoon dance in Montreal. Half-a-dozen New York women would
have had on the worth of all the fifty or sixty toilettes in the room.

I fell to talking with a Canadian of the New York belles, their
extravagant elegance, and their feverish love of society turmoil.

"Yes," said he, "they are very smart; with them it is paint and
feathers, and _hooray!_ all the time."

I was told that the Marchioness of Lorne, during her residence in
Canada, had set the example of the greatest simplicity in dress.

       *       *       *       *       *

American ball-toilettes are ravishing. Here the diamonds are in place. I
do not know any gayer, more intoxicating sight than an American
ballroom. The display of luxury is on a gigantic scale. The walls are
covered with flowers, the rooms artistically lighted, the dancing
animated, and the true spirit of gaiety everywhere visible. The young
women are ideal in beauty and brilliancy; and if it were not for the
atmosphere, which is hot enough to hatch silkworms, you would pass the
evening in an ecstacy of enjoyment.

Low-necked dresses are much worn by American women, not only at balls
and dinners, but at their afternoon receptions. It seems very odd to us
Europeans to see a lady in a low-necked ball-dress, at four in the
afternoon, receiving her friends, who are habited in ordinary visiting
toilettes or tailor-made gowns. I should not have said "ordinary," as
there is nothing ordinary in America, especially in the way of women's
dress. In France, a hostess seeks to make show of simplicity in her
reception toilettes, so as to be likely to eclipse no one in her own

Low dresses are universal in America; old ladies vieing with young in
the display of neck and shoulders. It is true, the Americans are not
peculiar in this. Many times, in a European ballroom, have I longed to

"Ladies, throw a veil over the past, I pray you."

       *       *       *       *       *

You may see some wonderful costumes in the streets of the large towns,
disguises rather than dresses. The well-bred woman wears quiet colours
on the street, but the other wears loud ones. I have seen dresses of an
orange terra-cotta shade trimmed with huge bands of bright green velvet;
costumes of violet plush worn with sky-blue hats, and other atrocities
enough to make one's eyes cry for mercy. Violet and blue! Oh, Oscar
Wilde! I thought you had been in America.

The wives of men with middle-class incomes imitate the luxury of the
millionaire's wife. I expected to find it so: in a Democratic country
the frogs all try to swell into oxen. They puff themselves out until
they burst; or, rather, until their husbands burst.

In France always, and in England when he will let her, a wife keeps an
eye on her husband's interests. In America, she often lays hands on his

       *       *       *       *       *

It must be said that vulgarity is not the monopoly of the middle-class
woman in America. I extract the following from a Boston paper:

"The extreme of vulgarity has lately been attained in a gorgeous
Southern hotel, where the wife of a much-millionaired inventor holds
state with a courier, another man-servant who dances attendance on a
superannuated pug (whose teeth are said to be gold-fitted--the pug's
teeth, remember, not the man's), and several maids. The courier manages
the private palace-car of the family, which stands ready on the rails
for use at any time and in any direction, and attends to the securing of
rooms and steamer berths, as well as private dining privileges, when the
family moves; and it always moves _en prince_."

All this is well enough if one can afford it; but the innate vulgarity
of the thing is shown in fantastic and absurd costuming of the children,
including satin breeches for the boys, and the gorgeous getting-up of
the maids, two of these menials being told off to attend constantly on
each child.


    _High Class Humour.--Mr. Chauncey Depew and General Horace
    Porter.--Corneille had no Humour.--A Woman "sans père et sans
    proche."--Mark Twain._

Humour is an unassuming form of wit, by turns gay, naive, grim, and
pathetic, that you will never come across in a vain, affected man.

What, for instance, could be more naive than the following remark I
heard made by Mark Twain at a dinner in New York, one evening? It was
given, of course, in his inimitable drawl:

"I was in the war too--for a fortnight--but I found I was on the strong
side--so I retired--to make the fight even."

       *       *       *       *       *

There is no country where you hear so many good anecdotes, and no
country where they are so well told.

The Americans are delightful _raconteurs_; they are past-masters in the
art of making those light, graceful, witty little speeches, which give
to their dinners such a unique charm. Then the humour is delicate, the
wit of the brightest. Irony and elegance combine to make these
discourses veritable little literary gems. The Americans have their
heads full of anecdotes and reminiscences; and it little matters in
honour of whom or of what the dinner is given, they are sure to be
ready with anecdotes and reminiscences that are suitable to the

The chronicler who draws upon his fertile brain for an interesting
column for his paper every day may choose his own subject, and the task,
difficult as it is, is not insurmountable; but to be able, night after
night, throughout a whole season, to make a witty speech on a given
subject, not chosen by the speaker--this appears to me to be a wonderful
feat. Nevertheless, it is done every year by a goodly number of
Americans, foremost among whom must be named Mr. Chauncey Depew and
General Horace Porter. A banquet is not complete without the presence of
one of these delightful orators.

Here is a specimen of General Porter's drollery--a portrait of an old
typical Puritan, given at a "New England" dinner.

"The old Puritan was not the most rollicking, the jolliest, the most
playful of men. He at times amused himself sadly. He was given to a mild
disregard of the conventionalities. He had suppressed bear-baiting, not,
it is believed, because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave
pleasure to the audience. He found the Indians were the proprietors of
the land, and he felt himself constrained to move against them with his
gun, with a view to increasing the number of absentee landlords. He
found Indians on one side and witches on the other. He was surrounded
with troubles. He had to keep the Indians under fire and the witches
over it. These were some of the things that reconciled that good man to
sudden death. He never let the sun go down upon his wrath, but he, no
doubt, often wished himself in that region near the Pole, where the sun
does not go down for six months at a time, and gives wrath a fair chance
to materialize. He was a thoughtful man. He spent his days inventing
snow ploughs, and his evenings in sipping hot rum, and ruminating upon
the probable strength of the future prohibition vote. Those were times
when the wives remonstrated with their husbands regarding the
unfortunate and disappointing results of too much drink, particularly
when it led the men to go out and shoot at Indians--and miss them. These
men generally began drinking on account of a bite of a snake, and
usually had to quit on account of attacks from the same reptiles."

General Porter was good enough to introduce me to a New York audience on
one occasion.

"Ladies and gentlemen," began the General, without relaxing a muscle of
his face, "I claim your indulgence on behalf of the speaker who is going
to address you; he has to speak in a language not his own, and, besides,
he has not the resource of some of our countrymen, who, when their
throats are tired, can speak through their noses."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Depew has not a very high opinion of English sense of humour.

This is an anecdote which he tells on the subject.

Mr. Depew and General Porter were present one evening at a dinner in
London. The General had just terminated a speech, and Mr. Depew was
called upon for one in his turn.

"Gentlemen," said he, rising, "I am in a great state of embarrassment. I
had prepared a speech which General Porter, to my great surprise, has
just given you word for word. The General and I occupied the same cabin
on board the boat which brought us to England, and I strongly suspect he
must have stolen my notes."

At this, it appears Mr. Depew heard an Englishman say to his neighbour:

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is not the act of a gentleman."

I have sometimes heard it said that no man is really great who has no
sense of humour and cannot see through a joke. If this is a rule, the
French form an exception.

Corneille was one night looking on at a representation of Racine's
"Plaideurs." When he heard the fine verse from the _Cid_, parodied, and
applied by Racine to an old lawyer:

  "_Les rides sur son front gravaient tous ses exploits_,"

it is said that Corneille exclaimed, in bourgeois style:

"I don't think people ought to be allowed to steal your verses like

       *       *       *       *       *

American ladies run their husbands and fathers very close in the matter
of wit. Their wit is apt to be a little more sarcastic, perhaps. They
are not women for nothing.

Some people were talking one day, in a New York drawing-room, of a lady
who was making herself conspicuous in society, but of whom no one seemed
to know the antecedents.

"Oh, don't speak to me of her," said one lady as witty as uncharitable;
"she is _sans père et sans proche_."

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the death of Artemus Ward, Mr. Samuel Clemens, whose pseudonym of
"Mark Twain" is a household word among every English-speaking people,
has held unchallenged the position of first American humorist.

Mark Twain is a man of about fifty years of age, thin, of medium height,
and having well-marked features. His face, almost surly, is grave to
severity, and rarely relaxes.

The profile is Jewish. The eyes, small and keen, are almost entirely
hidden by thick bushy eyebrows; the well-shaped head is covered with
thick bushy hair. A few yards off, Mark Twain's head looks like a crow's
nest. The voice is drawling and has a decidedly nasal tone. When he
slowly gets on his feet to speak, "tosses his frontlet to the sky,"
twists his head sidewise, frowning all the while, you little guess that
in a few moments this man will convulse you with laughter.

Truly nothing could be more droll than Mark Twain's manner of telling an
anecdote. His jokes, which he seems to twirl out from under his ears,
make straight for your sides, tickle them unmercifully, and set you
twisting on your chair.

Mark Twain has amassed a considerable fortune, not--as he says
himself--in writing his own books, but in publishing those of other
people.[7] If there had been an international copyright between England
and America, Mark Twain would have made a considerable fortune without
going into business.

   [7] Mark Twain is the chief partner in the firm of Charles Webster
       and Co., New York.

This writer excels specially in accounts of travels. He will not give
you deep thoughts or serious information. He is a charming guide, who
makes you see the comic side of the life he describes, who will pilot
you wherever there is something for his keen observation to glean. His
caricatures are so perfectly hit off that you recognise the original

This man of merriment is, it appears, also a deep student of serious
things. His father was long anxious to have him write a life of Christ,
and if he has never complied with his parent's wish, it is only from a
feeling that a volume of the kind, coming from his pen, might not be
read with the reverence such a subject demands.

Mark Twain inhabits a delightful cottage in Hartford, in the State of


    _Boisterous Humour and Horseplay Wit.--A Dinner at the Clover
    Club of Philadelphia.--Other "Gridiron" Clubs._

Humour only springs in simple, unaffected characters. You find it in the
well-bred Scotch. It overflows in the American, who is the prince of
good fellows.

The Americans are so good at taking a joke, so good-tempered that, even
in public, they enjoy to banter each other and serve as butts for each
other's sarcasms: it is on these occasions that American humour is
allowed free play. There are even "Gridiron Clubs"--clubs where guests
are invited only to be put on the grill.

The most famous of these is the Clover Club at Philadelphia. Outside
Paradise, there is no place where men are treated with so little regard
to their rank. The members of the Clover Club are no respecters of
persons. Nothing is sacred for them; age or position count for naught in
their assemblies.

The club is composed of the principal journalists of Philadelphia. Once
a year they ask to their table about fifty guests--people talked about;
the President of the United States himself has an invitation, if he
cares to submit himself to the "grilling" process.[8]

   [8] Mr. Grover Cleveland has been through it.

The banquet is princely; the _menu_ most _recherché_.

But let us take a peep at the proceedings.

The president of the club, Mr. Handy, an American brimming over with
wit, takes his place at the head of the table, and the feast begins.
Choice dishes follow one another, and are washed down with choice wines.
Conversation flows, and faces light up. An orchestra, placed in a
neighbouring room, makes pleasant subdued music. The guests begin to
think over the speeches they will soon be called upon to deliver--you
recognise them by their white faces; the Cloverites quietly sharpen
their weapons for the fray. Presently comes the dessert. The President
strikes two or three little blows upon the table, and rises. Now for it!
Now for the _quart d'heure de Rabelais_!

"Gentlemen," says the President, "I have the honour to propose the first
toast of the evening. Let us fill our glasses, and drink to the
honourable member of Congress on my right. I doubt not you will push
your amiability and patience so far as to listen to his speech in
respectful silence. He will be all the more proud to have an audience
to-night, because, as we all know, when the honourable member gets up to
make a speech at Washington, the benches begin to empty by magic.
Gentlemen, give him a chance."

The Congressman takes the joke merrily, and thus commences his speech:

"Gentlemen--I mean _Members_--of the Clover Club."

The members pocket the satire with a hearty laugh.

Presently comes the turn of the second speaker. This one speaks in a
scarcely audible voice.

"Raise your voice," cry the members.

"I am sorry you cannot hear. Come nearer."

The cries of "Louder!" continue.

"If I speak _low_," replies the orator, "it is in order to get down to
your level."

This convulsed the assembly with laughter.

I was aghast.

Can it be possible, I thought, that they will stand that? The joke may
be new and funny, but surely it is being carried beyond the bounds. If
such things went on in France, one would see duels going on in all the
retired spots of the neighbourhood next morning.

The health of a third guest is proposed in terms as grotesque as the
preceding ones. This gentleman is an American, whose daughter is the
wife of a member of the English aristocracy. By the manner in which he
rises and begins to speak, it is easy to see that he is an old hand at
this kind of tournament. He begins:

"Gentlemen, when I was present at your dinner last year----"

"Last year!" cries a Cloverite; "how did you get invited again this
year, pray?"

"Oh, you know you can't do without me. You must have a few respectable
people at your table. I mix with the aristocracy, gentlemen; but, as
you see, I am not at all proud: I come and sit at meat with you. It is
not that I have the least esteem for you, but I will not have folks say
that, because I move in the society of dukes, marquises, earls----"

"Shut up! what do we care for your dukes?"

"Bah! of course there is no blue blood in you; you can't appreciate the
honour I am doing you."

The ironical laughter is deafening, but the speaker will not be baffled
of his say.

"Before I came here, I made up my mind----"

"Your WHAT?"

"My mind."

"Ha, ha!"

Here the Cloverites stamp and shout, but the speaker braves out the
storm. As a peroration, this is what he offers to his hosts:

"Gentlemen, I had prepared a speech, something refined, which you could
scarcely be supposed to appreciate. I will not cast my pearls
to----('All right, all right.') I will sit down. Perhaps next year I may
find you a little more civilised."

"Next year! No danger of your being asked, my fine fellow!"

The President rises once more.

My turn has come.

Scarcely have I said the word "Gentlemen," when a volley of shouts and
whistlings greets me.

I see that I am not going to be spared.

"Excuse me," I continued; "perhaps I had better explain to you why I
accepted your invitation. Since I am in America, I mean to study the
customs and manners of the people. With this object in view, it would
not do for me to confine myself to good society, and I have determined
to make a beginning this evening----"

"That's right," whispers my neighbour; "continue in that strain, and you
will do."

For hours the speechifying goes on, mixed with music, recitations,
songs, and anecdotes.

At two in the morning hosts and guests separate, declaring that they
have had a real "good time."

The Clover Club is a first-rate leveller.

Any man, suffering from over-cultivated self-esteem, can be supplied by
this club with wholesome physic.

       *       *       *       *       *

There exist many other clubs of this kind, where the hospitality
consists of getting amusement at the guests' expense. The idea is droll
and naive. The Gridiron Club at Washington was founded on the same lines
as the Clover Club in Philadelphia. During the evening on which I was
present at the monthly dinner of the Gridiron, a member of the Chinese
Embassy replied in Chinese to the toast that was proposed in his honour.
I replied in French. It was a satisfaction to read in the Washington
papers, next morning, that the Chinese and French speeches had been
greatly appreciated by the club members.

Really? _Allons donc!_

Such fun as goes on at these "Gridiron" Clubs may savour a trifle of
horseplay to the stranger; but though I do not know the origin of these
tourneys, I imagine they arose from a genuine American enjoyment of
quick repartee. At these meetings, eloquence prepared beforehand would
be of little use: the essential equipment for the guest is a ready wit
and a bold tongue.


    _Western and Eastern Wit.--Two Anecdotes in the way of

I think the two following anecdotes illustrate well the preposterousness
of Western wit and the delicacy of the Eastern article.

To some Americans, who may read me, these two stories may be
"chestnuts." To such I apologise.

       *       *       *       *       *

A drunkard's relatives thought to frighten him into better ways. During
a fit of intoxication he was laid in a coffin, and a friend remained
near at hand, waiting until the drunken stupor should pass off.

By-and-bye, the occupant of the coffin awakes, sits up, and, rubbing his

"Where am I?" he inquires.

"You are dead," replies his friend, in a sepulchral kind of voice.

"Dear me! How long have I been dead?"

"Three days."

"And are you dead too?"


"And how long have you been dead?"

"Three weeks."

"Dear me! ... then you have been dead longer than I have ... tell me
where I can get a drink."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now a Bostonian anecdote.

Philadelphia, whether justly or not, has the reputation of being very
dead-and-alive, and many are the jokes on its dullness. This is one,
which illustrates well the keenness and delicacy of Eastern wit.

A Bostonian was doing the honours of his native city to a friend from
Philadelphia. Having shown him all the points of interest in the place,
he asked if he did not think Boston a fine city.

"Yes, it is very nice," said the Pennsylvania man; "but I don't think it
is so well _laid out_ as Philadelphia."

"No," rejoined the Bostonian, "but it will be, when it is as dead as


    _Journalism.--Prodigious Enterprises.--Startling
    Headlines.--"Jerked to Jesus."--"Mrs. Carter finds Fault with
    her Husband's Kisses."--Jacob's Ladder.--Sensational
    News.--How a Journalist became known.--Gossip.--The Murderer
    and the Reporters.--Detective Journalists.--"The Devil
    Dodged."--Ten Minutes' Stoppage in Purgatory.--French,
    English, and American Journalists.--A Visit to the Great
    Newspaper Offices.--Sunday Papers.--Country Papers.--Wonderful
    Eye-ticklers.--Polemics.--"Pulitzer and Dana."--Comic and
    Society Papers.--The "Detroit Free Press" and the "Omaha
    World."--American Reviews._

By his discovery of America, Christopher Columbus has furnished the Old
World with an inexhaustible source of amusing novelties. You pass from
the curious to the marvellous, from the marvellous to the incredible,
from the incredible to the impossible realised.

But it is to American journalism that the palm must be awarded.

I shall speak later on of the Sunday papers--those phenomenal
productions that fairly take your breath away.

Take the daily papers: eight, ten, sometimes twelve pages, each
consisting of eight or nine columns of fine print, the whole for a penny
or threehalf-pence. So much for the quantity.

The first thing that attracts your attention is the titles of the
articles. The smallest bit of news cannot escape your notice, thanks to
these wonderful head-lines. It requires a special genius for the work,
to be able to hit upon such eye-ticklers.

Here are a few that I noted down in New York, Chicago, and other large

The death of Mrs. Garfield, mother of the late President, was announced
with the heading:

_Death of Grandma Garfield._

The marriage of M. Maurice Bernhardt:

_Sarah's boy leads his bride to the altar._

The execution of a criminal was announced by a Chicago paper under the

_Jerked to Jesus._

The reports of two divorce cases at Chicago were entitled respectively:

_Tired of William._

_Mrs. Carter finds fault with her husband's kissing._

An article on Prince Bismarck was headed in large letters: BISMARCK
WITHDRAWS. Just underneath, in very small print, was: _His resignation
as Chancellor of the German Empire_.

The marriage of young Earl Cairns, who had been betrothed several times,
was announced to the American ladies thus:

_Garmoyle caught at last._

Mr. Arthur Balfour, having refused to reply to some attacks of the Irish
Nationalists, a prominent New York paper thus announced the fact;

  _Balfour doesn't care a_----

During his late visit to America, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was invited by
the members of a New York club to a dinner given in his honour. At the
eleventh hour the right honourable gentleman, being detained in
Washington on State business, was obliged to send and excuse himself.
Next day, I read in the _New York Herald_:

_One dinner less for Joe._

While I was in the United States, the papers were constantly speaking of
a financier named Jacob Sharp. Accused of fraudulent dealings, this
gentleman had been arrested, but subsequently released, untried. The
press indulged in much comment on the matter, and such remarks as: "All
mortals have their trials except financiers."

One morning the newspapers were obliged to desist from their attacks:
poor Jacob had passed away from earth.

The same day, I met the editor of one of the large daily papers.

"Well," said I, "here is a fine occasion for a grand head-line
to-morrow; you are not going to let it slip, I suppose."

"What do you mean?"

"How can you ask? Why, _Jacob gone up the ladder_! of course."

"Splendid!" he exclaimed.

"_Pends-toi_, my dear editor, thou didst not find that one."

"I must have it. How much will you take for it?"

"I'll make you a present of it," said I.

Next morning, the death of the financier was told in two columns,

_Jacob gone up the ladder._

If ever I wanted to apply for a journalistic post in America, this would
be my most weighty recommendation in the eyes of my future chief.

       *       *       *       *       *

I did not know what lively reading was until I saw an American

American journalism is, above all, a sensational journalism. If the
facts reported are exact, so much the better for the paper; if not, so
much the worse for the facts. Beyond the date, few statements are
reliable. But the papers are always lively reading. Picture to yourself
a country where the papers are all _Pall Mall Gazettes_, with this
difference, that the articles, instead of being always by "One who
knows," are oftener by "One who doesn't."

To succeed as a journalist in America, it is not necessary to be a man
of letters, to be able to write leading articles _à la_ John Lemoinne;
the only qualification necessary is to be able to amuse and interest the
reader; this must be done at any cost; all styles are admissible except
the heavy.

The accounts of trials in the police courts or at the courts of assize
eclipse the novels of M. du Boisgobey. I, who never read tribunal
reports in the English newspapers, was more than once surprised in
America to find myself deeply interested in the account of a trial for
murder, following all the details of the case and unwilling to miss a
word. Alternately moved and horrified, I would read to the end, then,
passing my hand across my forehead, I would say to myself: "How silly;
it is mostly fiction, after all!"

The American journalist must be spicy, lively, bright. He must know how
to, not _report_, but _relate_ an accident, a trial, a conflagration,
and, at a push, make up an article of one or two columns in length upon
the most insignificant incident. He must be interesting, _readable_, as
the English call it with reason. His eyes and ears must be always open,
every sense on the alert; for, before all and above all, he must keep
ahead in this race for news; if he should once let himself be outdone by
a _confrère_, his reputation would be blasted.

But you will perhaps exclaim: "What is the poor fellow to do when there
is no news?" What is he to do? And his imagination, is it given him for
no purpose? If he have no imagination, he had better give up the idea of
being a journalist in America, as he will soon find out.

This is how one American reporter made a reputation at a bound. The
Chicago people are still proud to tell the story.

The young fellow was taking a walk one evening in a retired part of the
town, on the look-out for what adventure history does not say. All at
once, a human form, lying motionless on the ground, attracted the sight
of our hero. He drew near to it, stooped down, and found it to be a
corpse. His first impulse was to immediately seek a policeman and tell
him of the discovery.

But a second idea came; it was more practical, and he adopted it. This
was it:

His paper comes out at two in the afternoon, so that by running straight
to the police station he would be making the matter public, and
furnishing his brother reporters with a column or two for their morning
papers. It is a catch, this corpse, and not to be lightly given away.
What to do? Simply this. Our journalist drags the body into an empty
building near at hand, and carefully hides it. At eleven next morning,
he _discovers_ it by chance, goes as fast as possible to make his
declaration to the police, and then hastens away to the office of his
newspaper with two columns of description written overnight. At two
o'clock, the paper announces "Mysterious murder in Chicago: discovery of
the victim by one of our reporters!"

The morning papers were outdone; the evening ones nowhere.

This is the kind of talent you must have in order to stand a chance of
making your way in American journalism.

Crimes, divorces, elopements, mésalliances, gossip of all kinds, furnish
the papers with three-quarters of their contents. A mysterious affair,
skilfully handled, will make the fortune of a paper.

For several weeks, during the months of February and March, the American
papers were talking about a young lady of good family in Washington,
who, it appeared, had become engaged to a young Indian named Chaska, a
tawny brave of the Sioux tribe. There were descriptions of the wild man;
descriptions of the festivities which were to be held in his honour at
the camp of the great chief, Swift Bird; descriptions of the gorgeous
ornaments with which the members of the tribe would be adorned--nothing
was wanting: day after day fresh details were added. Then the despair of
the young lady's family was pictured. The threats of an indignant
father, the tears of a distressed mother, nothing, it seemed, could
touch the heart of the fair one but the piercing eyes of Chaska.

At last the marriage takes place, not only in broad day, but in church.
It is not Swift Bird who blesses the young couple; it is the parish
clergyman. Romance gives place to verity; and, without the slightest
sign of being disconcerted, the papers announce (in a few lines only
this time) that the young lady has married a clerk in the _Indian
Affairs Office_.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this is as nothing. It is when there is a criminal case to handle
that American journalism becomes simply sublime.

The criminal is no sooner arrested than the reporters hurry to his cell,
and get him to undergo the curious operation now known throughout the
world as _interviewing_. He is treated with all the consideration due to
a man in his position. "Mr. So and So, of the _Earthquake_, presents
his compliments to Mr. Blank, charged with murder, and requests the
favour of a few minutes' conversation." To be accused of an important
crime gives a man a certain standing in America. The more atrocious the
crime, the more interesting the accused; and columns upon columns of
print supply the public with his slightest sayings and doings. He is the
hero of the day. From the prison, the reporters go to hunt up the
witnesses, whom they also interview in their turn. Regular examinations,
these interviews!

If there is any love story mixed in with the affair, if there are a few
piquant details, you may easily imagine that the public gets the worth
of its penny.

The American is gallant, and when the victim is of the feminine gender,
I can assure you the accused generally gets a pretty drubbing in the

       *       *       *       *       *

American journalism carries the spirit of enterprise still further. Not
content with trying criminals, it hunts them out and brings them to
justice. Policeman, magistrate, public prosecutor, judge--the journalist
is all these.

I know of several American newspapers having quite a staff of
detectives--yes, detectives. If a criminal escapes justice, or an affair
remains surrounded by mystery, these new-fashioned journalists are let
loose every morning on a search for the criminal, or to try and pick up
threads of information that may lead to the clearing up of the mystery.
These detectives are employed, not only in cases of crime, but work just
as hard over a divorce or an elopement: it is journalism turned private
detective agency. A newspaper that can boast of having brought a
criminal to justice, discovered the hiding-place of an unfaithful wife,
or run a ravisher to earth, is rewarded by an increased sale forthwith.

The slightest thing that can make the paper attractive is seized upon
with avidity. The headings, which I have spoken of, are called into
requisition on all occasions, and there is nothing, down to the mere
announcements, that will not suggest to a wide-awake editor one of these
wonderful eye-ticklers. Thus the Saturday list of preachers for the
morrow is headed in the _New York Herald_:

_Salvation for all_; or _Guiding Sinners Heavenwards_, or _Dodging the

In one paper, you will see the list of births, marriages, and deaths,
headed respectively: _The Cradle_, _the Altar_, and _the Tomb_; in
another, more facetious: _Hatches_, _Matches_, and _Dispatches_.

In a society paper, much given to gossip, I noticed the news of the
fashionable world distributed under the following titles:

_Cradle_ (list of births);

_Flirtations_ (list of young people suspected of a tender passion for
each other);

_Engagements_ (promises of marriage);

_Tiffs_ (sic);



_Divorces and Separations_;


It was the whole comedy of life.

What a pity the American papers cannot have reporters in the other world
to note the _entries into Paradise_, and _descents into Hell_!

_Ten minutes' stoppage in Purgatory_ would be very crisp and effective.

       *       *       *       *       *

Compared with the French and English papers, the American dailies have
neither the literary value of the former nor the authority of the latter
in the matter of political foreign news.

The French newspapers are most of them literary productions of
incontestable worth; but, with the exception of one or two leading
articles, and the literary, musical, and dramatic criticisms, nothing
very serious in the way of information is to be found in them. The
foreign intelligence is of the most meagre, and usually consists of a
few lines furnished by _L'agence Havas_: "The Emperor of Germany is a
little better," or "Queen Victoria has returned to Windsor from
Scotland," etc.

Mr. George Augustus Sala once said very wittily that the French papers
bear the date of to-morrow and the news of yesterday. The satire is a
little severe, but it is not unmerited. He might, however, have taken
that opportunity for reminding his numerous readers that, if the
Parisian papers are inferior to the London ones in the matter of news,
they are greatly their superiors in the matter of articles. It is true
we have no longer among our journalists Roqueplan, Karr, Méry, Janin,
Prévost-Paradol, Girardin, Taine, About; but we have still John
Lemoinne, Weiss, Sarcey, Rochefort, Wolff, Lockroy, Vacquerie, Scholl,
Fouquier, Bergerat, and many others, who offer to the public every
morning articles stamped with genius, or, at the least, sparkling with
wit; yes, we have still a goodly group of such.

For the intelligent, serious man, the English daily papers have only the
attraction of the correctness of their correspondence, home and foreign.
It consists of facts in all their aridity, but still facts. As for the
articles, few persons, I fancy, read those productions written, with few
exceptions, in the dry, thready, pedagogic style much affected by
lower-form schoolboys, and often deserving the favourite comment of the
late M. Lemaire, professor at the Lycée Charlemagne: "_Lourd, pâteux,
délayé dans le vide_."

An American newspaper is a conglomeration of news, political, literary,
artistic, scientific, and fashionable, of reports of trials, of amusing
anecdotes, gossip of all kinds, interviews, jokes, scandal; the whole
written in a style which sometimes shocks the man of taste, but which
often interests, and always amuses.

A literary celebrity of Boston said to me one day: "I am ashamed of our
American press; we have only two papers in the country that I do not
blush for, and those are the Boston _Post_, and the _Evening Post_ of
New York.

I must say that, if you want to hear America and everything American
severely criticised, you have only to go to Boston. There you will hear
Boston and England praised, and America picked to pieces.

"Are you an American?" I once asked of a gentleman I met in New York.

"Well," he said after some hesitation, "I'm from Boston."

Fancy! being born in Boston, and obliged to be an American! That's hard.

The American public is not composed merely of the refined society of
Boston and New York, and the press is obliged to cater to the public
taste. When the public taste is improved, the newspapers will reform,
and everything leads to the belief that the amelioration will not be
long coming.

       *       *       *       *       *

As for political news sent over from Europe, one needs to allow a little
margin on what one reads in the American papers; but it is impossible
not to praise the activity which animates the press.

Thus, for instance, I was in New York on the day that M. Victorien
Sardou brought out _La Tosca_ at the Porte St. Martin. The first
representation took place on a Saturday. The next morning, my newspaper
gave me a most complete analytical description of the performance in two
columns. That is to say, the Americans were able to read the details of
Sarah Bernhardt's latest triumph earlier than the inhabitants of Lyons
or Marseilles, who had to wait for the Paris papers.

Thanks to their journalism, the Americans have at least an idea of what
is going on in Europe: they know our new plays, they read our new books,
they are kept informed of every event, just as if they were neighbours.
And how is it possible, I repeat, not to say a good word for a
journalism which knows how to excite, as well as satisfy, the curiosity
of a great people?

Go and ask the first hundred Frenchmen you meet in the streets of Paris
what is the name of the President of the United States, you will find
ninety-nine of them unable to tell you. The Frenchman is exclusive to
the point of stupidity, and that which is not French possesses no
interest for him. Enveloped in this exclusiveness, he knows nothing: in
the matter of foreign questions, he is the most ignorant being in the
world; and French journalism, obliged to study his tastes, serves him
with nothing but French dishes.

You must visit the offices of the great New York papers in the evening,
if you would get an idea of these colossal enterprises. There you see
about fifty reporters with their news all ready for print in their
hands. Each one in turn passes before the heads of the various
departments, political, literary, dramatic, etc.

"What have you?" asks an editor of the first reporter who presents

"An interview with Sarah Bernhardt."

"Very good. Half a column. And what have you?" he says, turning to the

"A report of John Smith, the banker's case."

"Right. One column. And you?"

"I have an account of the President's forthcoming journey to the South."

When all the reporters have passed, they go to another room to reduce
their articles to the required length. Over six hundred correspondents,
scattered all over the globe, send in their telegrams[9] by special wire
for the most part; and the conversation, which we have just overheard in
the office, begins again, this time with Washington, Boston,
Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, London, Berlin, &c.

   [9] I have seen, in American papers, European telegrams of 2,000 and
       even 3,000 words--at sixpence a word.

"What have you for us this evening?" says the editor to his
correspondent in Berlin.

"Bismarck threatens to send in his resignation."

"One column."

"Boulanger has just received an ovation at Lille. A riot is feared in
Paris," wires the Paris correspondent.

"Capital! send two columns."

"A scandal in Rome. The Marchioness of N. has run away with her
husband's secretary."

"Good. Where are they gone?"

"No one knows."

"No matter. Send a good stirring column all the same."

"What's-his-name, the financier, has made off," ticks the wire from

"A column. Send report, and start on scent of the fugitive."

When the telegraph has ceased ticking, and the crowd of reporters have
departed, the chief editor, like a ship's captain, the last to leave the
deck, works on. He reads over everything--yes, everything; sifts,
corrects, cuts down, adds to, puts all in order, and towards two o'clock
in the morning gives the order to print, and goes home.

But once more all this is nothing. It is in the Sunday's issue that you
have the crowning feat of journalistic enterprise: thirty or thirty-two
pages of telegrams, articles, essays on politics, the drama, literature,
pictures, the fashions, anecdotes, _bons mots_, interviews, stories for
children, poetry, biographies, chats on science, the whole illustrated
with portraits, sketches of interesting places mentioned in the text,
caricatures, etc. All this for the sum of three halfpence.

And this is not all. How send these mammoth newspapers throughout the
different States of the Union? How? Oh, that is very simple. The _New
York World_ and the _New York Herald_ have special trains. Tell me if it
is not enough to take one's breath away. But, you will ask, how can a
paper publish such a number for three halfpence? From thirty to forty
columns of advertisements, such is the solution of the mystery.

I admire several large papers, notably the _New York Herald_, which put
their immense publicity at the disposition of lean purses. Persons in
want of servants, for example, have to pay 25 cents. a line for
advertising; but male servants in search of a situation only pay 10
cents. a line, and women 5 cents. This is philanthropy of the right
sort, chivalrous philanthropy.

       *       *       *       *       *

In New York, the large daily papers which you see in the hands of
everyone are: the _Tribune_, the _Times_, the _Herald_, the _World_, the
_Sun_, and the _Star_.

The first two are those most read by the cultivated classes; the most
popular are the two following.

Five or six important newspapers appear in the afternoon: the _Post_
(the most respectable and respected of all American organs); the
_Commercial Advertiser_, an excellent literary, political, and financial
publication; the _Mail and Express_; the _Telegram_, the _Sun_, and the

Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago possess newspapers in no way second in
importance to those of New York. Of such are the _Globe_, the _Post_,
the _Advertiser_, the _Herald_, the _Transcript_, and the _Journal_, of
Boston; the _Ledger_ and the _Press_, of Philadelphia; the _Tribune_,
the _Herald_, the _Inter-Ocean_, and the _Journal_, of Chicago.
Washington, St. Louis, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, and many
other towns, have also newspapers of the first importance.

Every little town of a thousand to fifteen hundred inhabitants has its
two newspapers, one democratic, the other republican. For lively
reading, take up these papers during the electoral struggle which
terminates with the installation of a new President at the White House.
The names of some of them will suffice to give you an idea of the style
of the contents: very favourite names are the _Paralyser_, the
_Rustler_, the _Cyclone_, the _Prairie Dog_, the _Bazoo_, the _Lucifer_,
the _Bundle of Sticks_, the _Thunderer_, the _Earthquake_. I saw and
read a copy of the sheet which rejoiced in the name of _Bundle of
Sticks_. The first article contained advice to a certain Joseph Müller,
who, instead of working, had taken up street preaching and
house-to-house prayer. "We give Joseph Müller a fortnight to find some
honourable employment. If at the end of that time he is still leading an
idle life, we will find an exalted position for him." The joke makes one
shudder, when one thinks that, if Joseph should turn a deaf ear to the
warning, he is quite sure to be hung by his townsmen to the highest
branch of some tree in the town.

Manners will tone down in the West, as they have in the East, and in
twenty years the _Thunderer_ and the _Avalanche_ will give place to the
_Times_ and the _Tribune_.

The characteristic of new societies is freedom of speech as well as of
action. I read in some _Thunderer_ the following lines about the editor
of the _Lightning_, the other newspaper of the town: "We wish to use
moderation, and to keep within the limits of good breeding. We will only
go so far as to say that personally he is a sneak; and that as a
journalist he is a liar and a scoundrel." The _Lightning_ replies in the
same strain, and the public gets amusement for the moderate sum of one

Many of these papers of Kentucky, Texas, and other Western States may be
paid for in kind. I extract the following from the _Herald_, of Hazel
Green (Kentucky):--


    _How you may get the 'Herald' for a year without money._

    _Bring us_:--

        _Twenty pounds of pork; or
        Ten pounds of pork sausage; or
        Two bushels of sound potatoes; or
        Five bushels of sound turnips: or
        Ten good chickens; or
        One bushel of good onions._

    _For half the quantity, we will send the paper half the time._"

And so the whole population of Hazel Green has the newspaper put within
its reach.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Thunderer_ and the _Lightning_ are not the only papers that indulge
in violent polemics, in which insulting personalities take the place of

During the whole time I was in America, Mr. Pulitzer, proprietor and
manager of the _World_, and Mr. Dana, editor of the _Sun_, one of the
most accomplished American journalists, were day after day calling each
other such names as "robber, liar, mortgaged, dirty Jew." I see by
papers that my New York friends kindly send me from time to time, that
these gentlemen have not yet exhausted their Billingsgate vocabulary.

Do not draw hasty conclusions from this. I do not know Mr. Pulitzer
personally, but I have the pleasure of knowing Colonel Cockerill, chief
editor of the _World_, and Mr. Charles Dana, of the _Sun_. In private
life they are perfect gentlemen, and men of great talent. In public life
they are in the swim--they go with the tide. As a study of English, the
polemic of the _World_ and the _Sun_ was most interesting.

The American press was divided into two camps: the partisans of Pulitzer
and the partisans of Dana. Whenever the combatants were driven up for
want of fresh epithets of the requisite strength, their supporters
suggested some to them. Here are some congratulations, addressed to Mr.
Dana, which I read in the St. Louis _Globe_:

"It was from beginning to end the _Sun's_ stiletto against the _World's_
meat-axe, and, as is always the case, the meat-axe came out second best.
The literature of invective contains nothing finer than some of the
_Sun's_ attacks on the _World_, and the literature of the gutter
contains nothing more feeble than the _World's_ defence. The _Sun_ dealt
out prussic acid by the drop, and the _World_ replied with rough-on-rats
by the pound. The flatulent anger of Pulitzer was completely
overwhelmed by the concentrated venom of Dana."

A _confrère_ could scarcely be more amiable, and I hope Mr. Dana
appreciated the compliments.

       *       *       *       *       *

America, New York especially, has some capital comic papers.

By that, I mean more comic than the rest.

Similar to the Paris _Charivari_ and to _Punch_, _Puck_ and _Judge_ have
always skits on the questions of the day, touched off with the freedom
which one would expect in free America. The manners of the people are
criticised with wit and good taste. The little illustrations are
charming, but two or three huge coloured pictures done in the crudest
style disfigure each of these papers. Several other publications, such
as _Life_, written in a light, sparkling style, and ornamented with
little fine, tasteful illustrations, concern themselves with the sayings
and doings of higher American society, Little stories, anecdotes, _bons
mots_, material for a merry hour. Admirable are these papers, which know
how to be comic, witty, and bright, without being objectionable, or
unfit to put into the hands of a girl in her teens.

These papers are not only amusing to the stranger, they are instructive.
The funny stories, the naive jokes, as descriptive as they are
diverting, give a truer idea of American character and manners than many
a ponderous volume.

As in France and England, the comic papers in America are the only ones
which give proof of a little wisdom or common sense when the horizon is
darkened and home and foreign political questions are disturbing the
peace of the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

If I were asked to name the most amusing papers published in the United
States, I should not hesitate to award the palm to the _Detroit Free
Press_ and the _Omaha World_; in these two, American humour reveals
itself in all its spontaneous gaiety, and their drolleries are
reproduced from New York to San Francisco, from Montreal to New Orleans.

       *       *       *       *       *

Space fails me here to do justice to the literary, dramatic, and
artistic journals. Among the first, however, mention must be made of the
_Critic_. Its analyses are amiable and discreetly erudite. Its
criticisms are always fair, and never crabbed.

       *       *       *       *       *

I cannot close this chapter without speaking of the American Reviews;
they have attained a perfection which is the highest utterance of
journalism, as understood by the educated world. But they are for the
most part so well known in England that I need not enlarge upon the
merit and charms of such publications as the _North American Review_,
the _Atlantic Monthly_, the _Forum_, the _Century_, the _Harper_,
_Scribner_, _Lippincott_, and that treasure of English-reading children
all over the world, the incomparable _St. Nicholas_. Besides all these,
there are the _Cosmopolitan_, the _America_, the _American Magazine_,
and numbers of others.

Alas, it would need a score of volumes to do anything like justice to
that which one can see in America. Unhappily, it would take a score of
years to see it in. And so I alight but a moment at each turning, happy
if, by trying to show the reader a little of everything, I succeed in
showing him something.


    _Reporting.--For the American Reporter Nothing is
    Sacred.--Demolition of the Wall of Private Life.--Does your
    Husband Snore?--St. Anthony and the Reporters.--I am
    Interviewed.--My Manager drops Asleep over it.--The Interview
    in Print.--The President of the United States and the
    Reporters.--"I am the Interviewer."_

"Journalism has killed literature, and reporting is killing journalism.
It is the last gasp of the dying of literature of an epoch; it is the
man letters replaced by the _concierge_." So exclaims M. Albert Millaud
in one of his clever articles in the _Figaro_.

In America, reporting has simply overrun, swallowed up, journalism. It
is a demolition of the wall of private life; the substitution of gossip
for chronicle, of chatter for criticism.

For the interviewer, nothing is sacred. Audacity is his stock-in-trade:
the most private details of your daily life are at his mercy; and unless
you blow his brains out--which is not lawful in New York State--you have
no means of getting rid of him.

Do not believe you have got over the difficulty by having him told that
you are not at home. He will return to the charge ten, twenty times; he
will stand sentinel at your door, sleep on the mat outside your hotel
bedroom, so as to pounce on you as soon as you show your face in the
morning. He is patient; and if any indisposition should oblige you to
keep your room, he will wait till you are well again, and will have his
meals brought to him in the corridor. Should you succeed in escaping the
hunter, rather than return to the newspaper-office empty-handed from the
chase, he will find your wife, and ask her if you snore, whether you are
an early riser, whether you are the more amiable after dinner or before,
what you eat at breakfast, what is your favourite colour in trousers,
and what size boots you take. He will ask her when you were married, how
long your honeymoon lasted, if you have children, and whether they have
cut their teeth. With these materials he will make up a column.

There is no question too indiscreet for these enterprising inquisitors:
they would have interviewed St. Anthony in his hut.

Do not shout victory, either, because you have succeeded in getting rid
of the interviewer without replying to his questions. It is in such
cases that the American journalist reveals himself in all his glory. To
your stupefaction, the newspapers next day will have an account of the
conversation which you _might have had_ with their reporters.

If my advice be worth giving, the best thing you can do, when the
interviewer presents himself, and says, "I am a reporter, sir, and I
have come to ask you for a few moments' chat," is to say to him:

"Mad to see you. Pray be seated."

After all, interviewing is an operation that one survives; and, to be
just, I must say that American reporters in general are courteous,
obliging, and--which is simply astounding when one considers that they
rarely take notes--exact in their accounts of interviews.

The courage, too, with which the interviewer braves rebuffs, and the
philosophy with which he pockets abuse, are nothing short of admirable.
For my part, I never could find a cross word to say to these intruders;
and I had my reward in reading in the papers that it was a pleasure to
interview me, because I submitted to the operation with such good grace.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 11th of November, 1887, at 9 a.m., the _Germanic_, after a
terribly rough passage of nine days, entered the magnificent harbour of
New York. The sun had risen resplendent in a cloudless blue sky. We had
just passed Bartholdi's statue of "Liberty," and it seemed as if France
were not very far off. It was a sweet sensation, and instinctively I had
raised my hat. All at once the _Germanic_ stopped. A little steam-tug
drew up alongside, and there stepped on board one or two custom-house
officers, followed by several other persons.

"Look out!" cried one of my fellow-passengers, seeing that I appeared to
be unconscious of danger.

"What is the matter?" I asked.

"The interviewers!"

"Nonsense! Not here, surely!" I exclaimed.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than two young men handed me
their cards, with the announcement that they were journalists.

"We have come to present our respects to you," they said, "and to wish
you a pleasant time in our country."

While they uttered these words they scanned me from head to foot,
jotting a few strokes on their note-books. They were taking my portrait,
which appeared next morning at the head of the articles that the press
of New York thought fit to devote to me. The portrait was a flattering
one. One paper, however, gave the following description of your humble

"Max O'Rell is a rather globular Frenchman of about forty." Then
followed a description of my travelling suit and other effects.

"Globular!" The idea!

"Forty!" No, gentlemen; thirty-nine, if you please.

But to return to our reporters.

Question after question was put with the rapidity of lightning flashes.

"Have you had a good passage?"

"Are you sick at sea?"

"Where were you born?"

"How old are you?"

"How long do you mean to stay in the United States?"

"How much do your books bring you in?"

This catechising began to annoy me.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," I said; "I am tired, and am going to the hotel
to rest. I shall be happy to see you this afternoon."

Oh! that first afternoon in New York, spent in the company of the
interviewers; I shall never forget it!

The office of my manager, Major[10] Pond, was situated on the ground
floor of the Everett House, where I had put up. Thither I repaired after
lunch, to undergo the operation of tapping by eight interviewers at

  [10] My manager, as the reader will observe, was one of the rare
       Americans who are not Colonels.

"Ah!" said one of them, after the usual salutations, "we are going to
bore you; so let us begin at the beginning."

Here I smiled.

"I know your first question," I said; "you are going to ask me whether
it is the first time I have been in America."

"That is generally our first question, it is true; but I have another to
ask you before. You have just eaten your first meal in America; what did
you have?"

I submitted with a good grace, and replied as seriously as I could.

"Gentlemen, I have just been in for a piece of turbot, a beefsteak and
potato chips, a celery salad, and a vanilla ice."

"And now," remarked another reporter, "I have an important question to
put to you. I hope it will not astonish you."

"Oh, I am in America," I replied, "and quite ready not to be astonished
at anything."

"Well, then," said he, "I wanted to ask you what are your impressions of

"Excuse me," I exclaimed; "I have only been in it three hours, and those
three hours have been spent in this hotel. You must really allow me to
abstain for the moment from telling you what I think of America; for you
will admit, I hope, that one must have passed a whole day at least in
America, in order to judge it with any accuracy."

Here I rolled a cigarette, and rang for a lemon squash.

The reporters immediately made an entry in their note-books.

"What is that you have put down?" I asked.

A young fellow, with a face beaming with activity and intelligence,

"I wrote that at this point of our conversation you rolled a cigarette,
and rang for a lemon squash."

"Really, gentlemen," I ventured to observe, "do you imagine that such a
remark as that can possess the slightest interest for your readers?"

"Without doubt," they replied, and all their faces wore an imperturbable
seriousness that nearly made me roar with laughter.

"Oh, in that case excuse me; I ought to have known that in America, as
elsewhere, an intelligent man knows his business. Go on with your
questions; you interest me greatly."

The fact is, I began to be immensely amused.

The questions recommenced. One wanted biographical details; another, the
origin of my pseudonym. One wished to know if I worked in the morning,
the afternoon, or the evening; another, whether I worked sitting or
standing up, and also whether I used ruled paper and quill pens. One man
asked me whether I thought in English or in French; another, whether
General Boulanger had any chance of soon being elected President of the
French Republic. If I crossed my legs during the conversation, if I took
off my glasses, nothing escaped these journalists; everything was jotted

The questions they asked really appeared to me so commonplace, so
trivial, that I was almost ashamed to think I was the hero of this
little farce.

With the idea of giving them something better worth writing, I launched
into anecdotes, and told a few to these interviewers.

This brought about a little scene which was quite comic. If I looked at
one reporter a little oftener than the rest, while I told an anecdote,
he would turn to his brethren and say:

"This story is for my paper; you have no right to take it down, it was
told especially to me."

"Not at all," would cry the others; "it was told to all of us."

In spite of this, the harmony of the meeting was not disturbed; and it
was easy to see that an excellent spirit of fellowship prevailed in the

With the exception of a phrase or two occasionally jotted down, they
took no notes of my answers to their questions; and I wondered how it
was possible that, with so few notes, they would manage to make an
article of a hundred or two hundred lines, that would be acceptable in
an important paper, out of an interview so insignificant and so devoid
of interest, according to my idea, as this one.

After having spent nearly two hours over me, the reporters shook hands,
expressed themselves as much obliged to me, and went their way.

How childish these Americans are! thought I. Is it possible that a
conversation such as I have just had with those reporters can interest

Next day I procured all the New York morning papers, more from
curiosity, I must say in justice to myself, than from vanity; for I was
not at all proud of my utterances of the day before.

Judge of my surprise, on opening the first paper, to find two columns
full of amusing details, picturesque descriptions, well-told anecdotes,
witty remarks; the whole cleverly mingled and arranged by men who, I had
always supposed, were simple stenographers.

Everything was faithfully reported and artistically set down. The
smallest incidents were rendered interesting by the manner of telling.
The Major, for instance, who, accustomed to this kind of interview for
many years, had peacefully dropped asleep, comfortably installed, with
his head on the sofa pillows and his feet on the back of a chair; my
own gestures; the description of the pretty and elegantly furnished
office--all was very crisp and vivid. They had turned everything to
account; even the arrival of the lemon squash was made to furnish a
little paragraph that was droll and attractive. You might have imagined
that the whole thing was the first chapter of a novel, commencing with
the majestic entry of a steamer into New York harbour.

Well, I said to myself, the American journalist knows, at any rate, how
to make a savoury hash out of very little.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three years ago, when Mr. Grover Cleveland, President of the United
States, married the prettiest and most charming of his countrywomen, he
chose Deer Park as a suitable place to pass his honeymoon in, far from
the world and its bustle, and, above all, far from the reporters.
However, the ex-President knew only too well the spirit of enterprise
that possesses his countrymen; and to put himself out of reach of the
interviewers, and make sure of tranquillity, he thought it well to
employ eight detectives to guard the approaches to his retreat. This
number was soon found insufficient, for the enemy made his appearance in
the neighbourhood. The pickets had to be reinforced, and a week later
twelve Argus-eyed watchers were on the alert to prevent any person
whomsoever from getting within three hundred yards of the cottage. The
interviewers were outdone, and had to admit themselves baffled. The
papers had no details worth giving to their readers.

This must have been enough to make any enterprising editor tear his
hair, or go and hang himself.

To have in one's editorial drawer such headings as "Grover in Clover,"
or "Drops of Honey Sipped in Deer Park," and not to be able to use them!

It was hard lines.

       *       *       *       *       *

A little anecdote to finish with:

A young American lady had married a man well known as a young political
orator of great promise.

The day after the wedding, her husband having gone out, she heard some
little struggling outside her drawing-room door; and suddenly there
entered a very well-dressed man, who made her a most polite bow.

She gazed at him, quite bewildered.

"Excuse me, madam; but you married Mr. John D. yesterday, I believe?"

"I did, sir; but ..."

"I am the Interviewer!"



    _Literature in the United States.--Poets.--Novelists.--
    Writers for the Young.--Future of American Literature._

America has not yet produced a transcendent literary genius; but she has
the right to be proud of a national literature which includes poets,
historians, novelists, essayists, and critics of a superior order.

The English admit that the best history of their literature has been
written by a Frenchman, M. Taine. The _Athenæum_ acknowledged, a short
while ago, that the best criticism on the English poets of the Victorian
era was that written by Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, himself one of the
most graceful bards of contemporary America.

In this rapid sketch, I must needs confine myself to the mention of
merely the principal names which adorn the different branches of
American literature.

In poetry, the bright lights are William Cullen Bryant and Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, both pure and noble, and as much appreciated by
the English as by their own compatriots; Edgar Allan Poe, James Russell
Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Bayard Taylor,
John Greenleaf Whittier, Walt Whitman, Richard Watson Gilder, Edgar
Fawcett, William Winter (the celebrated dramatic critic of the _New York
Tribune_), Maria Brooks, and a number of women, who form a graceful
garland in this garden of poets. In the Western dialects, a young poet,
Mr. Whitcombe Riley, knows how to draw tears through the smiles which
his humour provokes: he promises to be the future Jasmin of America.

In the domain of romance, we find writers whose reputation is as firmly
established in Europe as in America. Who has not read in his youth the
novels of Fenimore Cooper? Who has not thrilled over the weird tales of
Poe? Among the most famous names in fiction are also Washington Irving,
Parker Willis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Marion
Crawford, Frank Stockton, George W. Cable, Frances Hodgson Burnett,
Henry James, W. D. Howells, Julian Hawthorne, Thomas Bailey Aldrich,
Charles Dudley Warner, Bret Harte (who is also a poet), Edward
Eggleston, Brander Matthews, Eliza Wetherell. All these names are
household words wherever the English tongue is spoken. The greatest
success of the century has been attained by an American novel, directed
against slavery, and instrumental in its destruction.

Its author, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a sister of the celebrated
Henry Ward Beecher, whom America still mourns.

In the philosophical essay, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Ingersoll are
unapproachable in their different styles. The first shines by his
originality and a subtle power of reasoning; the second by the grandeur
of his language, his keen, clear reasoning power, and his humour and

In literary criticism must be named George William Curtis, as well as
Stedman and Winter, already named among the poets.

History is perhaps, of all the branches of American literature, that
which has found its highest expression. Washington Irving, with his
_History of Columbus_; Prescott, with the _History of Ferdinand and
Isabella_, the _History of the Conquest of Mexico and Peru_, and the
_History of Philip II._; Bancroft, with a _History of the American
Revolution_; Hildreth, Sparks, and others, have produced a national
history from the discovery of their country down to our own days.

It seems curious that the vast and grandiose regions they inhabit should
not have inspired the Americans with taste and talent for descriptions
of Nature. Fenimore Cooper is the only great scene painter produced by
the immensities of the great Western Continent.

Humorists swarm in the United States. Artemus Ward and Mark Twain are
two pseudonyms justly famous at home and abroad. There is a third on the
road that leads to similar celebrity. Bill Nye has the same droll way as
Mark Twain of droning out irresistible comicalities with that solemn
_sang froid_ which is not met with outside the frontiers of Yankeeland.
When he mounts the platform, the audience prepares to be dislocated with

Although the names of Charles A. Dana, Whitelaw Reid, Park Godwin, and
many others, are well known to the reading public of America, it is in
the large Reviews, and not in the newspapers, that really literary
articles are to be found.

Children--if there are any children in America--are not forgotten by
literature. It is safe to affirm that there is no country where children
are so well written for, by authors who have the secret of instructing
them while they charm and amuse them. Love and sympathy for children
must be a spontaneous outgrowth of the gay and tender American
character. Mrs. Hodgson Burnett, the late Louisa Alcott, Mrs. Lippincott
(better known as Grace Greenwood), and Fanny Fern, will for ages to come
fascinate the whole of the English-speaking juvenile world.

In these rapid outlines, I must have omitted many names. I hope I have
mentioned enough to show a guarantee of a brilliant literary future for
the country.

A nation so intelligent, so energetic, so prominent in the world of
action, could not possibly be sterile in the domain of thought.


    _The Stage in the United States.--The "Stars."--French Plays.
    Mr. Augustin Daly's Company.--The American Public.--The
    Theatres.--Detailed Programmes.--A Regrettable Omission._

The American stage boasts some excellent actors; but it owes its
prestige rather to the talent of a few brilliant individualities than to
distinction of _ensemble_.

The plays are written for certain actors, and the secondary parts are
made to serve the purpose of throwing up the "star." This is why the
French plays that are transplanted to the stage of America generally
fail. I saw one very striking proof of this in New York. Mr. Abbey, the
indefatigable _impresario_, director of Wallack's Theatre, brought out
_L'Abbé Constantin_. The principal _rôle_ was entrusted to Mr. John
Gilbert, a veteran of the American stage. Certainly M. Got himself could
not have played the part of the good old priest with more simplicity,
tenderness, or pathos; but this was not enough in a piece which demands
at least half a dozen actors of talent, and the play was a complete

French plays are written, not for "stars," but for whole companies of
actors. The author knows that such and such an actor will play the
lover, that certain others will take the _rôles_ of the father, the
prosaic notary, the brilliant officer, the valet; that certain actresses
will create the parts of the _coquette_, the _ingénue_, the _soubrette_,
the _duenna_. He knows that the director will only entrust the members
of his company with such parts as are well within their province. The
translator of these plays runs his bark with a light heart towards the
rocks of failure. Sometimes he does worse than translate--he adapts. A
study of French manners is transferred to America with American
personages. The play becomes incomprehensible, unreal, and it is not the
acting of a "star" that can redeem or save it.

American theatres are not subventioned by the State, and private
enterprise can scarcely afford to give the public the luxury of a whole
company of talent. The "star" is usually his or her own manager, draws
the public, and realises the profits. The _répertoire_ consists of two
or three plays, which are performed before a New York audience for a
month or two, and then taken around to the chief cities of the States.

This is why one sees fresh companies nearly every week in half the
theatres. To-day a drama, next week a comedy, opera-bouffe the week
after. Sometimes the change is still more brusque. Mr. Irving and Miss
Terry gave a series of performances at the "Star" Theatre, New York,
during the month of March last. On their departure, they were succeeded
by a troupe of performing monkeys. The theatre was just as likely to
have been hired by travelling revivalists.

There is but one _company_ of actors in America, and that is Mr.
Augustin Daly's excellent company of comedians. I have seen comedies
played with much _ensemble_ at the Union Square, Madison Square, and
Lyceum theatres, in New York; but Mr. Daly's picked company is
incomparably superior to any other to be seen in America, or, for that
matter, in England either, if one excepts the admirably even opera
company of the Savoy. Mr. John Drew is a young lover, agreeable to look
at, gentlemanly, natural, persuasive, full of life. Mr. James Lewis,
whose grotesque face is a veritable fortune, is the best high-class
comic actor on the American stage; Miss Ada Rehan's coquetry is
irresistible. A certain coaxing drawl in her musical voice lends great
seductiveness to a very handsome presence, and gives an additional charm
to her clever acting. Mrs. Gilbert, who is so like Mdlle. Jouassin, of
the _Comédie-Française_, as to be mistaken for her, is the equal of that
actress in some of her "duennas" parts. The actor whose _rôle_ consists
of handing a card or letter to his master is an artist. This is the
stage as we are used to it France.

       *       *       *       *       *

If good companies are rare in America, good actors are numerous.

The greatest American actor is Mr. Edwin Booth, who is so justly famous
for his interpretations of Shakesperian _rôles_ in America and England.
Mr. Lawrence Barrett is also a highly talented tragedian. In comedy, two
veterans, Mr. John Gilbert and Mr. Lester Wallack[11] must be named
first, then Messrs. Robson and Crane. In purely American plays, Mr.
Joseph Jeffreson is an unrivalled exponent of simple, touching parts. I
had the good fortune to see him in _Rip Van Winkle_, a _rôle_ which
belongs to him as _Pierre Chopart_ belongs to M. Paulin Ménier. Mayo,
Florence, Harrigan, are names which are connected with a thousand
successes in the minds of the Americans. Mr. Steele Mackaye is a good
actor, besides being a dramatic author of great ability. His play, _Paul
Kauvar_, with its realistic scenes of the French Revolution, would
doubtless draw all Paris, if ever the directors of the Porte St. Martin
or the Ambigu took it into their heads to mount it. For original,
fantastic creations, the palm must be awarded to Mr. Richard Mansfield.
I wish M. Octave Feuillet the pleasure of seeing this young and
versatile actor play the part of Baron Chevrial in _The Parisian
Romance_. The conception is as bold as it is artistic. For cleverness at
"making-up," Mr. Mansfield is unrivalled.

  [11] America has just lost this excellent actor.

I was not astonished to see _La Tosca_ succeed in the United States. M.
Sardou, having written this play for a "star," a "star" suffices for the
successful playing of it. Miss Fanny Davenport's acting combines vigour,
grace, and dignity. In the third and fourth acts of _La Tosca_, this
actress rises to the level of the great _tragédiennes_.

The greatest actress on the American stage is a Pole. Madame Modjeska
has no living rival but Madame Sarah Bernhardt, whom, to my thinking,
she sometimes even surpasses. Her interpretation of the _Dame aux
Camélias_ appeared to me superior to that of her great French rival.
Madame Modjeska does not, perhaps, put into this part the fire, the
depth of passion, that Madame Sarah Bernhardt displays, but she endows
it with more feminine grace--with more purity. She appeals less to the
senses, but more to the heart; she subjugates the spectator less, but
touches him more: it is the courtesan redeemed, purified by love, as M.
Alexandre Dumas conceived her.

       *       *       *       *       *

The American theatres are spacious, elegant, well lit and well
ventilated. The seats are comfortable, and that French bugbear, the
_ouvreuse de loge_, is unknown.

The ground floor is entirely covered with stalls, but the rise, from the
proscenium to the back of the theatre, is so considerable that the
spectators sitting on the last row have as good a view of the stage as
those in front; and a good thing it is so, for the women adorn their
heads with such monuments of millinery when they go to the play, that,
if the floor were horizontal and you had a stall that was not on the
first row, you would have to trust to the kindness of the ladies in
front to tell you what went on upon the stage.

With the exception of the Metropolitan Opera House and two or three
other large theatres, the auditoriums are only fitted up with stalls,
one or two galleries, and a very few boxes.

Prices are moderate, and range from six to two shillings. For lower
tastes or leaner purses, there are the Bowery theatres, where
melodramas, variety shows, and harlequinades are served up, and the
price of admission is but sixpence or a shilling.

The Americans have an unbearable trick of arriving late at the theatre.
For twenty minutes after the curtain rises there is a constant bustling
and rustling of new comers, which debars you from the pleasure of
following the actors' speeches. If the play begins at eight, they come
at a quarter-past; if it begins at a quarter-past, they come at
half-past, and so on. At the time appointed for the curtain to rise the
stalls are empty. This bad habit annoys the actors and disturbs the
spectators; but the evil is incurable, and managers try vainly to stop
it. I know one who followed the advertisements of his play by this

"The public are solemnly warned that, unless the whole of the first
scene be witnessed, the subsequent action of the play cannot be

His efforts were crowned with failure. Not to understand the play is a
pity; but not to create a sensation when one comes in, dressed in one's
most killing attire, is out of the question.

It is the same at concerts and lectures. Those who have engaged their
seats in advance, come in a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes after
the time fixed for commencing. When every one is placed, the concert or
lecture begins. The early comers, who have to wait until the late ones
have arrived, utter not a murmur. The patience of the American public
is angelic.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the public enter the vestibule of an American theatre they are
supplied with programmes. These are gratis, and give an argument of the
play, also the names of all the _employés_ of the establishment. First
the names of the actors and actresses, coupled with those they bear in
their respective _rôles_; then the name of the manager, the business
manager, the treasurer, the assistant-treasurer, the musical director,
the master machinist, the master carpenter, the master of properties,
the chief engineer, the head usher, the advertising agent, the
detective, the gas-lighter, etc. If, instead of gas, theatres were lit
with candles, as of yore, the snuffer would have his name announced to
the public in this flourish of trumpets.

If there is a piano used in the play, the programme gives you the name
of the maker; if a repast is served in one of the acts, the programme
tells you the name of the _restaurateur_ who provides it. If there are
rugs and carpets, you are informed who sold them. In a word, you are
made acquainted with all the slightest details concerning the management
of the theatre.

There is sometimes an omission, but only one. It occasionally happens
that the name of the author of the play is not given. After all, when
one goes to see the _Parisian Romance_, of what interest can it be to
know the name of the author?

It is only Octave Feuillet.


    _The Religion of the Americans.--Religious Sects.--Why
    Jonathan Goes to Church.--Walk in, Ladies and Gentlemen,
    "this is the Place to be Saved and Happy."--Irresistible
    Invitations.--The Esoterists.--Why Die when Immortality is
    Attainable?--The Recipe.--Faith Cure.--A Highly-recommended
    Book.--Seventh Day Hypocrisy.--To Choose Goods is not to Buy
    Them.--"Great Scott!"--Religion and Republicanism Live Happily
    together in America._

The Americans are Christians; that is to say, they attend church on
Sundays. Like other Christians, they attend to business on week-days.

In America, religion is served up with sauces to suit all palates.
Independently of the Catholic religion, there are 189 different
religious sects. England has only 185.

Every good preacher draws a full congregation, no matter to which sect
he belongs. The church in itself is not the attraction, and the minister
has no other influence over the people than that which he exercises by
his oratorical talents. A religious or moral lecture is as popular as a
literary lecture, a concert, or a play.

Put a bad preacher into an American pulpit, and he will soon empty the
church; replace him by a gifted orator, and soon there will be
"standing room" only, and every seat will be at a premium.

The priesthood is not a vocation; it is a profession: no talent, no
success. An American will go and listen to the minister of a sect
differing from his own, rather than sit and be bored by a tiresome
preacher belonging to his own denomination. He will rather go to hear
Dr. MacGlyn, the excommunicated Roman Catholic priest, or Dr. Felix
Adler, the eloquent agnostic; religious as he is, he will sometimes
regret that Colonel Ingersoll does not appear in public on Sundays any
longer; Protestant as he is, he has no scruple about going to hear a
musical mass in the Catholic cathedral; in fact, you can see him
everywhere, except in the churches where dulness prevails, and the mind
waits in vain for fresh nourishment.

The churches advertise a preacher in the newspapers as the theatres
advertise a "star." In default of a good preacher, other attractions are
put forward to draw the public. How resist the two following appeals,
posted at the doors of a New York and a Chicago church? I copied them
word for word with great care:

"Musical evangelists, solos, short sermons. The place to be happy and

Walk in, ladies and gentlemen, walk in.

The other, more seductive still, was worded thus:

"No reason for not coming. Free seats, cheerful services. Books supplied
to the congregation."

The public are requested to leave the books in the seats after use.

       *       *       *       *       *

Religious sects multiply every day. No doctrine is too absurd to make

The latest religious invention in America is Esoterism, which promises
immortality to its followers--immortality, that is all! The doctrine of
the Esoterists teaches that, if man were really pure, and followed the
precepts of the Gospel to the letter, he would become immortal, not in
Paradise, but here below. As it is probable that no Christian ever yet
succeeded in following minutely the precepts of the Gospel, the
Esoterists may be right. To live for ever, say they, you have only to
remain virtuous, even in the married state. Celibacy must be embraced.
Celibacy pure and simple, however, is not sufficient; for where there is
no struggle, there is no victory. Devotees must, therefore, marry; but,
in all honour, remain celibates. If you succeed in mastering your
passions, no malady will attack you, and you will become immortal.

"But," you will say, "do the Esoterists never die?" Yes, they die--once;
but, according to them, this does not prove the fallacy of their belief.
If they die, it simply proves that they have failed to attain the
necessary degree of perfection.

Now, the Esoterists are safe to continue with us; for either they will
arrive at perfection and become immortal, or they will fall away from
grace and will have children to swell their ranks. The head of this
sect, which is as yet only about two years old, claims that when the
Esoterists attain perfection, not only will they be immortal, but they
will have a clear insight into the future, a gift which will enable them
to amass great riches. And, indeed, the utility of such an
accomplishment, on the Stock Exchange, for instance, must be apparent at
a glance.

Another sect pretends to be able to cure all disease by faith. The faith
of these fanatics is not shaken by the death of their patients. "If they
had had more faith, they would have recovered." Doctor Sangrado cured
all illnesses by bleedings and hot water. When a patient died, it was
because the bleeding had been too copious or not copious enough, and the
water administered too hot or too cool. The theory remained excellent.

All these new sects are commercial enterprises, some of them established
on the plan of limited liability companies. A room is hired, and
supplied with a table and chairs, and a few novelty-hunters are soon
attracted to the embryo temple. These in turn draw others, and by-and-by
a more imposing meeting-place is secured, and the pockets of the
proselytes are appealed to for funds to found what is called "The Lord's
Treasury." Many poor simple folk have been persuaded into giving all
they possessed to the "Lord's Treasury."

No need to put by a reserved fund: human credulity is an inexhaustible

Fortune-tellers are punished with from six months' to two years'
imprisonment. How is it the law allows schemers to found a "Lord's
Treasury" by promising immortality to the geese who bring their money to
it? It looks as if, in America, as in England, swindling may be
practised with impunity in the name of religion.

One meets with just as many cases of the adroit blending of the worship
of God and Mammon.

       *       *       *       *       *

A publisher, who is not above making money by the sale of books stolen
from English and French authors, is yet godly enough to build a church
with part of the proceeds.

An immense quantity of literary piracies issues from another firm, whose
warehouse rejoices in the appellation of "Bible House."

A popular preacher sells his church sittings by auction.

Another furnishes to a syndicate advance sheets of the sermons he
preaches on Sunday; so that the principal papers throughout the United
States are able to furnish their readers, on Monday morning, with the
full discourse delivered the day before in Brooklyn.

During my stay in America, a well-known evangelist published a volume of
sermons with the following preface: "God has been kind enough to own the
words when I spoke them. I hope He will give His blessing to the book,
now that the same words appear in print." Many books are published in
France with the remark, "A work approved of by Mgr. the Archbishop
of----" A volume, advertised as having been owned and blessed by the
Lord Himself, ought to have a wild sale.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sabbatarian hypocrisy is as flourishing in the eastern States of America
as in England and Scotland.

I was visiting the sub-tropical Exhibition at Jacksonville one Sunday,
and at a certain stall I chose a few little natural curiosities.

"I cannot sell them to you to-day," said the stall-keeper to me, after
well puffing his wares.

"No? Why?"

"Because it is Sunday. I can put them aside for you; but you must _buy_
them to-morrow."

This is the kind of thing one is supposed to admire.

A truly edifying sight is that of the noisy, dirty, blaspheming crowd
collected on a Sunday evening outside Madison Square Gardens, New York,
on the eve of a "six days' go-as-you-please walking match." From six or
seven in the evening there is a betting, swearing match outside the
gates. But the walking only begins at one minute past midnight.

Not to take the name of God in vain, the English have invented many
euphemisms; some men, imagining, I suppose, that the Deity takes no
cognisance of any language but English, venture so far as to say _mon
Dieu_ or _mein Gott_.

At this kind of thing the Americans are as clever as the English. They
have invented _Great Scott_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Something admirable in all the main religious sects of America is their
national character.

When I hear it said that religion is the sworn enemy of progress,
especially of Republican institutions, I turn to America and say to
myself, "This is not true."

There is no minister of religion, from the archbishops down to the most
unlettered preachers of all the small _isms_, who would dare to tell his
congregation that liberty is not the most precious, the most sacred of
their possessions, or that the Republic is not the most admirable form
of Government--the only possible one--for America.

In France, there is much indifference on the subject of religion; but a
great deal of incredulity is affected to satisfy a political bias. I am
certain that if, in France, you searched into the hearts of the people,
you would find there much less atheism than in many other nations.
Religious belief seems to be the apanage of the Royalist party, and
other people think they make a show of Republicanism by throwing over
the belief of the Royalists. The religious man is rather looked upon as
a political enemy than as a religious antagonist. This is the true
explanation of much apparent agnosticism in France. It must also be
remarked that plenty of Royalists only affect piety, and go regularly to
church, as a protest against Republicanism, and that many Republicans
may be excused for taking this display of religion for an act of
hostility towards their pet institutions.

This state of things is deplorable. Both sides are to blame for it.

In England and America, where the form of Government is questioned by no
one, religion does not clash with progress and liberty, but lives with
democracy in peace and harmony, as becomes a faith whose grand precept
is: "Love ye one another."


    _Colonel Ingersol's Ideas.--The Man.--His Life.--His Works.--A
    Minister declines to take his Place either in this World or
    the Next._

I one day asked one of the cleverest ladies of New York whether she knew
Colonel Ingersoll.

"No," she answered, "I do not know him, and I do not wish to make his

"May I ask why?" I said.

She replied:

"Simply because I am told it is impossible to know him without admiring
and loving him."


"Well, I don't want to admire or love him."

       *       *       *       *       *

I had the honour of making his acquaintance, and, like all those who
have approached and known him, I soon loved and admired him.

He is one of the greatest figures of his great country. In a book on
contemporary America one must needs speak of this celebrated advocate.
He is a personality apart. He has little in common with the rest of his
countrymen but the title of Colonel.

Once more I say it: in this book of jottings I do not sit in judgment, I
merely describe impressions of what I have seen and heard. It is not
necessary to endorse a man's theories in order to enjoy his society; and
this is especially true in the case of Colonel Ingersoll, who is
many-sided in his powers, and who charms theologians and agnostics alike
when religion is not on the _tapis_.

Colonel Robert Ingersoll is a man of about sixty, six feet high, and
strongly built, a colossus physically and intellectually; the eyes
sparkle with wit and beam with the joy of life; the mouth is humorous
and smiling; the head large and well planted on broad shoulders; the
face shaven; the brain bristling with great thoughts; a man with the
heart of a lion to fight the battles of life, but the heart of a woman
in presence of human suffering.

He has substituted for the love of religion the religion of love and of
the family. According to him, religion should have but one aim: to teach
us how to be happy in this life. He repeats, with Christ: "Love one
another; do not to others what you would not have others do to you." And
he adds: "A God that is represented as weaving webs to catch the souls
of men whom he has created is not adorable." As to a future life, the
Colonel does not commit himself. He says: "We do not know, we cannot
tell, whether death is a door or a wall: a spreading of pinions to soar
or the folding of wings for ever." In the eyes of many pious people his
theories are abominable, and he is the Antichrist: but the Americans are
unanimous in admitting his extraordinary talents; and among the dear
friends of the Colonel and his family are many Presbyterians, some of
them ministers.

Antichrist, if you will--that is, if you can imagine such a personage
endowed with every moral and intellectual faculty. In his presence, men
feel themselves small, and women put their hands over their eyes, being
careful to keep the fingers well apart. A decidedly dangerous
Antichrist, this.

Mr. Ingersoll is not only America's greatest living orator, he is a
great writer and a great thinker: an infusion, as it were, of Johnson,
Voltaire, and Milton. He possesses the logic of the first, the
_persiflage_ of the second, and some of the sublimity of the third. His
arguments are constructed like geometrical propositions; his style is
vigorous, as clear as it is graceful, as poetic as it is humorous; and
his verve is inexhaustible.

The trinity that he worships is the trinity of Science: Reason,
Observation, and Experience.

His enemies call him Atheist, because he does not believe in _their_
God. Man has made unto himself a God in his own image, and is apt to
treat as Atheists all who do not worship him.

But Voltaire himself, who said that "if a God did not already exist, it
would be necessary to invent Him," is still called an Atheist by many
ignorant people.

I never heard Mr. Ingersoll say he did not believe in a God.

He will not acknowledge the existence of Jehovah, the God of the Jews: a
God who commanded the people of His choice to exterminate their
enemies, sparing neither old men, women, nor children. In his eyes
Jehovah is a myth, the creation of a cowardly, ungrateful, and
bloodthirsty race.

Mr. Ingersoll is not the only earnest seeker after truth who has been
puzzled to reconcile the idea of this cruel, revengeful, implacable
deity with that of the gentle, merciful Saviour who taught the doctrine
of love and forgiveness in Palestine, and bade His disciples put up
their swords in the presence of His persecutors.

"If God exists," said Mr. Ingersoll to a Presbyterian minister, who was
engaged in a discussion with him upon religion, "he is certainly as good
as you are." "_Your_ God," he says to the Presbyterians, "is a
Torquemada who denies to his countless victims the mercy of death." And
when he sees human miseries, the injustices of this world, war,
pestilence, famines, and inundations, the Colonel reproaches Jehovah
with passing too much time in numbering the hairs of His creatures.

In the opinion of Robert Ingersoll, a religion is not moral which
practically says to man: "Do not sin; but if you do sin, console
yourself, come to me and I will forgive you." Such a theory is not
calculated to improve mankind, who should be taught to do good, not in
the hope of being one day rewarded for it, not in the fear of being
punished for the neglect of it, but out of love and admiration for what
is good, and with the aim of adding to the happiness of their
fellow-creatures. Mr. Ingersoll's religion is the religion of humanity;
he says: "Happiness is the only good; the time to be happy is now, and
the way to be happy is to make others so." Live to do good, to love, and
be beloved by those around, and then lie down and sleep with the
consciousness of having done your duty to men. Do not ask pardon of God
for an injury done to man. Ask pardon of the man, and make reparation to
him for your offence.

"I rob Smith," exclaims Mr. Ingersoll in the ironical language he is
such a master of, "God forgives me. How does that help Smith?"

He maintains that the Christian religion teaches less the love of an
infinitely just and merciful God, than the fear of a demon thirsting for
human victims. This charge is borne out by a proverb used by the Scot,
who is a student of human nature:

"_If the deil were de'ed, God wad na be served so weel._"

The Colonel maintains that if man has had hands given him to feel, eyes
to see, ears to hear, he has also a brain to think, a heart to love, and
intelligence to reason with.

He does not attack so much the Catholic religion, which rests on faith;
for a religion which rests purely on faith is not a matter for reasoning
and argument. But he attacks rather a Protestantism which prides itself
upon resting on reason as well as on faith.

The theories of Colonel Ingersoll are the natural outcome of the
introduction of reasoning into religious matters.

Things which are felt only, cannot be discussed; things which are
incomprehensible are not matter for explanation.

Protestantism is a mixture of faith and reason agreeing pretty badly
together, it must be confessed. The Protestant takes the Bible for a
book, every word of which is inspired of God. He interprets it in his
own fashion, and proves out of it every doctrine he requires to found a
new sect. The very drunkard is not at a loss to find an excuse for his
drinking, and turning to Isaiah (lxv. 13), comforts himself with:
"Behold, my servants shall drink."

As he looks on at the Protestants squabbling over the signification of
biblical passages, the Colonel laughingly says: "It is to be regretted
that your deity did not express himself more clearly."

Needless to say that he looks upon the Bible, not as an inspired book,
but as a collection of literature something akin to the _Arabian
Nights_, and this is what makes discussion with him difficult, if not
out of the question. How is it possible to imagine a discussion between
Faith and Reason?

To Protestants, the practice of religion is an occupation for Sundays.
To Mr. Ingersoll, it is an occupation for every waking hour, and
consists in accomplishing your duty to your fellow-creatures.

George Sand says the fanatic loves God to the exclusion of man. The
theories of Colonel Ingersoll, lofty and noble as most of them are,
verge upon fanaticism in the sense that they teach the love of mankind
to the exclusion of Him who so loved man. The Colonel robs the poor and
sorrowing of that which helps them to endure their ills, a belief in a
better world to come.

       *       *       *       *       *

Son of a Protestant minister, Robert Ingersoll early showed special
aptitude for the discussion of theological questions. By the age of
sixteen, he had thoroughly studied the Old Testament, and would reason
upon it like a doctor of divinity. The father in vain drew Robert's
attention to the beauties of the Bible, the son could see little in it
but absurdities and inconsistencies. The old minister was heard to say:
"It grieves me to hear my Robbie talk so, but I declare he is too much
for me--I cannot answer him."

Who can answer Ingersoll? is a question often asked. Apparently, not the
ministers of the hundreds of different Protestant sects that flourish in
America; not Mr. Gladstone, student of the Bible and profound reasoner
though he be.

For more than a year the President of the XIXth Century Club of New York
was trying to get a Protestant clergyman to break a lance with this
redoubtable agnostic in public, but without avail. Not one felt equal to
the task.

That which makes this man so formidable is not so much his eloquence,
his quick repartee, his sarcasm, his pathos, his humour; it is, above
all, the life he leads, the example he sets of all the domestic virtues.
One must have had the privilege of knowing him intimately, of
penetrating into that sanctuary of conjugal happiness, his home, before
one can form an idea of the respect that he must inspire even in those
who abhor his doctrines. His house is the home of the purest joys; it
holds four hearts that beat as one.

Mr. Ingersoll lives in one of the handsome houses on Fifth Avenue. His
family consists of his wife and two lovely daughters, Athens and Venice,
as an American whom I met at Colonel Ingersoll's used to call them.
Indeed, one reminds you of the beautiful creations of Titian. The other
seems like a mythological vision, a nymph from the banks of Erymanthus.
As you look at her, while she speaks to you with her eyes modestly
lowered, almost seeming to apologise for being so lovely, you
involuntarily think of _Le Jeune malade_ of André Chénier, that last of
the Greek poets, as Edmond About called him.

Authors, journalists, artists, members of the thinking world of New York
may be met at the Colonel's charming Sunday evenings. About eleven at
night, when all but the intimate friends of the family have left, these
latter draw around their host, and entice him to talk upon one of his
favourite subjects: poetry, music, or maybe the "mistakes of Moses,"
while they listen with avidity. He knows his Shakespeare as thoroughly
as the Bible, only he speaks of him with far more respect and
admiration. He adores Wagner, whom he sets even above Beethoven. I
mention this to prove once more that we all have our little faults, and
that Mr. Ingersoll, in common with his fellow-mortals, is not perfect.
Between midnight and one in the morning, the last visitors reluctantly
depart. On the way home you think of all the witty things that have been
said; the arrows of satire that have been shot at hypocrisy and humbug;
the ennobling humanitarian opinions that have been advanced; and though
you may not feel converted, or diverted, or perverted to _Ingersollism_,
you are sure to leave that house feeling fuller of goodwill towards all
men, and saying to yourself, "What a delightful evening I have passed!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I was present one evening at a meeting of the XIXth Century Club, to
hear a discussion on "The poetry of the future." Colonel Ingersoll was
to have taken part in it, but, being retained professionally at
Washington, he was obliged to excuse himself at the eleventh hour. The
President immediately telegraphed to a well-known minister, asking him
to take the Colonel's place.

"I distinctly decline to take Colonel Ingersoll's place in this world or
the next," exclaimed the recipient of the telegram, as soon as he had
read it. The reverend gentleman nevertheless took part in the evening's
debate, and when he repeated his repartee to the audience, was greeted
with hearty laughter and applause.

Now, the lot of Colonel Ingersoll in this world is very enviable, for
his profession brings him in a most handsome income. As to refusing his
place in the next, what an absurdity!

When Robert Ingersoll presents himself at the gates of Paradise, and
St. Peter sees that good, open face, radiant with happiness, the doors
will be thrown wide to let him pass, and the saint will say:

"Come, Robert, come in. Thy happy face pleases me. We have just let in a
cargo of long-faced folk--Presbyterians, I'll be bound--and it does one
good to look at thee. Thou hast done thy utmost to stifle the
hydra-headed monster, Superstition, and to destroy the infamous
calumnies which are in circulation on the subject of the Lord. Come in,
friend; thou hast loved, thou hast been beloved; thou hast preached
concord, mercy, love, happiness: come take thy place amongst the
benefactors of the human race."


    _Justice.--Comparison Favourable to America.--Judicial
    Procedure.--The Accused was Paid Cash.--A Criminal Hunt.--The
    Juries and their Powers.--Slow Dealings of American
    Justice.--False Philanthropy.--Twelve or Sixteen Minutes at
    the Wrong End of a Rope.--A Savage Club Anecdote._

I have no intention of entertaining the reader on the subject of the
judicial organisation in the United States. I refer him for that to the
Tocquevilles of every country, to our own Tocqueville especially. I do
not concern myself, in this volume, with American institutions, but
simply with the ways and manners of the Americans.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had just returned from America, and was sitting in the smoking-room of
the North-Western Hotel, Liverpool. I was chatting with an American,
fellow-passenger on the Atlantic voyage, while admiring St. George's
Hall, which stands opposite. This magnificent building, which serves as
a Court of Justice, is the finest modern edifice of the English

All at once we heard a blast of trumpets. A crowd rushed towards the
Hall, and lined the flight of steps leading to the grand entrance.
Heralds and lacqueys, all bedizened with scarlet and gold, presently
descended the steps, followed by police officers. Several carriages then
drew up.

From one of these, there alighted a man arrayed in a scarlet robe and
ermine tippet, and wearing a powdered wig. The scarlet robe, followed by
the _cortège_ which had formed, solemnly mounted the steps between the
crowd, which stood gazing with open-mouthed and wide-eyed admiration.

"What show is there going on opposite?" asked the American, in the
easy-going tone that so distinguishes the Yankee.

He was an "Innocent abroad."

"My dear sir," I said to him, "it is simply a judge going to try a thief
or two. England honours her criminals with a great deal of parade, as
you see."

My American was silent for a few minutes. He was probably adding up the
salaries of the judge, the police officers, heralds and ushers, the
lawyers' fees, the cost of the building, carriages, and show generally;
and no doubt comparing the total with the pound or two stolen from his
employer by a dishonest clerk, for whom all this grand representation
was taking place.

Nothing is more simple than an American court of justice. Four walls
innocent of decoration of any kind, a few plain chairs or benches. No
uniforms, no robes, no wigs, no trumpets, no liveried ushers. The judge
and the barristers are in black frock-coats. The ushers are not quite so
well dressed as the barristers, and that is all.

As in England, the accused is not allowed speech. If he has questions to
put, his counsel is at his side, and speaks for him. It is the counsel
who examine and cross-examine the witnesses, and plead before the jury.
The judge presides, and does nothing more.

The accused is provided with a chair in the middle of the room, almost
in the midst of the public. Several times I was obliged to ask someone
present: "Which of all those people is the prisoner?"

An American trial is completely shorn of parade. It is not, as in
England, and especially in France, a grand spectacular performance, but
simply a man appearing before his townsmen to plead guilty to a misdeed
or to prove his innocence of it--it is a family wash, if I may be
allowed the expression.

The simplicity of the procedure is such that one day, after having been
introduced to a presiding judge, I was asked by him to take a seat at
his side, so as to hear and see better all that went on.

Simplicity goes further still occasionally.

An accused, having one day got up and begun to apostrophise his judge in
anything but polite terms, that representative of justice left his seat,
took off his coat, made for the man, and gave him a sound drubbing;
then, resuming his seat, he said to the lawyers:

"The incident, which has just occurred, has nothing to do with the case
that we have to consider. As a man, I have given him a thrashing. As
judge, I will now proceed with his case; please, go on."

This magistrate, far from resenting the insults of the accused, thought
no more of them, after having paid the man cash in this way. He summed
up in most impartial fashion, and the jury returned a verdict of "not

       *       *       *       *       *

In France, we pay a legion--a host rather--of judges and police
officers, to look after our security, and never should we dream of
helping them in the exercise of their functions. If a crime remain
wrapped in mystery, we say to ourselves: "I pay the police, it is for
them to discover the criminal; it is not my business, and, besides, the
profession of detective is not in my line."

It is not the same in the United States. There public safety concerns

The population of a town feels dishonoured by the perpetration of a
crime in their midst. Everyone is on the alert to catch the criminal;
men organise themselves into bands to search the country round. An
assassin is tracked in the woods with bloodhounds and guns, like a wild
beast; if he is discovered, and offers a very obstinate resistance, a
bullet is lodged in his body, and the hunters go tranquilly home again.

       *       *       *       *       *

When a crime has produced a violent sensation in a town and it is feared
the criminal may not be judged there with impartiality, he is taken to a
distance, out of the way of prejudices, to be tried.

This is a curious contrast with lynch law, of which I shall speak in
another chapter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Something else to admire.

In England and France, a jury only pronounces upon the innocence or
guilt of the accused. In England, a jury has not even, as it has in
France, the right to admit extenuating circumstances. English and French
juries are often astounded when they hear the judge pronounce sentence.
Their intention was to get the accused sent to prison for a year or two,
and the judge gives him, perhaps, ten years' penal servitude.

In cases of assassination in England, the clerk of the court says to the
jury, at the end of their sitting:

"Do you find the prisoner guilty of wilful murder?"

"Certainly he is guilty of killing, but in a moment of jealousy,
perhaps. His wife deceived him, and he killed the wretch who dishonoured

"You have nothing to do with all that," the English jury is told; "you
are merely to say whether the prisoner at the bar has done wilful

And the jury, forced to say _Yes_, are obliged to send to the gibbet a
man whom in their hearts they may respect. They are forced to condemn to
death a miserable fellow-creature, maddened by misfortune, just as they
do an assassin who has committed a long-planned murder of his neighbour
for money.

The American juries not only decide the question of a prisoner's
culpability or innocence, but they themselves pronounce sentence.

"We find," they say, "that the prisoner is guilty of such and such a
crime in the first degree, or in the second degree, etc., and we
therefore sentence him to such and such punishment."

       *       *       *       *       *

Something which is much to be blamed is the procrastination of American
justice. By going the right way to work, a condemned criminal may often
succeed in getting his case to be tried again and again.

In cases of murder, what good can it do to keep a poor wretch, that it
is decided to hang, in prison for a year or more? It is adding torture
to death penalty.

If that were only all.

Jonathan is such a philanthropist that he with difficulty makes up his
mind to execute a fellow-creature even legally. So, when he has kept a
year in prison a criminal, whom he is at last forced to hang, he leads
him to the scaffold, puts a rope round his neck, jerks him up in the
air, and manages to take twelve or sixteen minutes dispatching him.

This is philanthropy with a vengeance, and it is to be hoped that
execution by electricity, which has just been adopted by the Governor of
New York State, will put an end to such sickening proceedings.

It is to be hoped, also, that the Americans will some day do better than
that. I, for my part, do not doubt that they will abolish death
sentences before very long. They are too intelligent not to understand
that the death sentence deters no criminal, and this for a very simple
reason. A crime is committed under the impulse of passion, or it has
been premeditated. In the first case, the criminal never thinks of the
punishment to come, he is blinded by passion; in the second, he always
believes he has planned his crime in such a manner as not to be found

       *       *       *       *       *

To lighten this rather lugubrious subject, I will terminate with a
little anecdote, which has never seen the light, and which I think is
too delightfully humorous and pathetic to be allowed to remain

The scene was the smoking-room of the Savage Club.

A notorious criminal had been hanged in the morning. Several members of
the club were talking of the affair, and each one described what his
feelings would be if he were led to the scaffold to be hanged.

During this conversation, an actor, well known, but to whom managers, I
scarcely know why, never entrust any but secondary parts, sat silent in
an armchair, sending up long puffs of smoke soaring to the ceiling.

"Hello, there is N., who has not given his opinion," said one of the
group, suddenly noticing the actor: "I say, N., tell us how you would
feel if you were being led to the scaffold."

The actor raised his eyes to the ceiling and, after another puff at his
cigar, said quietly:

"Well, boys, I should feel that at last I was trusted with a leading


    _Lynch Law.--Hanged, Burned, and Shot.--The Gaolers do not
    Answer for their Boarders.--The Humours of Lynching._

Lynch law is a summary justice which, in certain of the United States,
is constantly being dealt out to criminals who, either from the
insufficiency of the ordinary laws, or because of the absence of a
judicial authority in the neighbourhood, might escape punishment. Not
the least semblance of a trial, or even of examination, as a rule: the
populace has taken it into its head that a certain individual is guilty
of a crime, that suffices; he is sought out, torn from his family if he
have one, led to the spot fixed upon for his execution, and there,
without questioning or shrift, he is hanged, burned, or shot, according
to the fancy of his executioners. Sometimes the criminal is in prison;
but the process of the law is slow and uncertain, and the people fear
that he may escape justice. Again, there may be a chance of the
malefactor convincing the jury that he is innocent; this does not suit
the humour of the enraged populace. They attack the prison, and demand
that their prey be delivered over to them. If the governor of the prison
refuses, the doors are burst open, and the prisoner is seized and
forthwith led to execution.

It is to be hoped, for the credit of American civilisation, that this
blot will soon be removed.

The word "Lynch" is derived from a proper name. John Lynch, a colonist
of Carolina in the 17th century, was invested by his fellow-citizens
with discretionary power to deal summarily with the social disorders
inseparable from the growth of a colony. This measure was soon adopted
in several other States of America for a similar reason.

The victims of Lynch law, innocent or guilty, are numerous. Before I
went to America, I had no idea how numerous. Almost every day you may
read in the American newspapers some horrible tale, such as the

"The village of Pemberton Ferry, in Florida, has just been plunged into
the highest state of excitement by a horrible drama.

"Three negroes made their appearance at the house of a lady much
respected in the neighbourhood, and asked most obsequiously for a drink.
Finding that she was alone with her daughter, the three scoundrels
'burked' the poor women and outraged them.

"As soon as the crime became known, several inhabitants of Pemberton
armed themselves, and set out in search of the criminals. After
searching several hours in the neighbouring woods, the avenging band
came across two suspicious-looking negroes in hiding. They were seized
upon at once, led to a tree, and hanged to it. Then, with a view to
extracting from them a confession of guilt, the avengers unhanged them.
After having protested their innocence for some time, the two negroes at
last confessed themselves guilty.

"This carried the indignation of the Pemberton Ferry people to a state
of paroxysm. In less time than it takes to describe it, a pile of pine
logs and dry branches was made at the foot of the tree and set fire to,
and the two negroes were again hung, this time over the flames.

"The sight of these wretches, being lynched with such refinement of
torture, was horrible to behold. Soon the executioners themselves, in
spite of their rage and fury, could no longer bear the sight, and,
taking pity on their victims, shot them to put an end to their
sufferings. The two corpses were left hanging to the tree, to serve as

The paper adds:

"The third negro has not yet been discovered; but, if he is caught, he
will probably be lynched also."

Here, then, we have two wretched creatures, first hung, then unhung, and
invited to confess. They are not confronted with their victims, who,
however, could not have been at a great distance. They are rehung, burnt
over a slow fire, and at last shot. This is pure savagedom.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the operation of lynching is practised spontaneously, under the
influence of excitement caused by the atrocity of such a crime as that
committed by the three negroes, and without any refinement of torture,
it is, of course, comprehensible in a young society, though not
excusable. But that poor wretches, accused of some crime, and whose
innocence or culpability must soon be pronounced by a jury, should be
dragged from prison by the populace, and executed with perfect
impunity,--this is something which surpasses comprehension, even in a
country where one is apt to be surprised at nothing.

       *       *       *       *       *

And this is not all.

Lynch law has its humours, as the Westerners express it in the cynical
language which is so natural to them: it is when there has been a
mistake made--in the victim, and the whole thing has to be gone over
again, because the wrong man has been lynched.

Again I leave an American newspaper, the _Chicago Herald_, to speak:

"The little town of St. Helens is in a ferment. A party of lynchers
entered it this morning, and went straight to the house of Mrs. Williams
to apprise her that her husband had been lynched by mistake during the
night. After having expressed their regrets, the men left to go in
search of the real culprit. We do not attempt to describe the anguish of
the poor woman. It is feared she will lose her reason."

This took place in the year of disgrace 1888.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lynch law has often had salutary results.

In the days of the "Gold fever," in California, San Francisco was
overrun by scoundrelism of the most virulent type. Twice was the infant
city reduced to ashes by incendiary hands. Then the leading citizens
rose in their wrath, banded themselves together in the name of a
Vigilance Committee, and soon, from every available lamp-post, dangled
the body of a ruffian. By such treatment was the city purged of crime.

A few years since an Irish agitator named Kearney preached the gospel of
dynamite and the spoliation of the rich, on an open space, known as Sand
Lots. As vast crowds assembled to listen to this incendiary doctrine, a
new Vigilance Committee was formed, comprising all the leading bankers,
merchants, and professional men. A polite note was sent to Mr. Kearney
that if he ventured to speak again on the Sand Lots, he would be most
accurately strung up there and then. Whereupon the Irish gentleman
disappeared into space, and his present address is unknown.


    _A Word on Marriage and Divorce.--Scenes for an
    Opera-Bouffe.--An Amateur Dentist._

As I have said elsewhere, each State of the Union makes its own laws.
The result is, that a thing which is legal in one State is not
necessarily legal in the others.

The most curious, and those which differ most, are the laws upon
marriage and divorce.

If it is easy to get married in the United States, it is still more easy
to get unmarried.

In the State of New York, for instance, if you go to a hotel with a
woman, and inscribe _Mr. and Mrs. so and so_ on the register, the Law
looks upon you as legally married to that woman, but the marriage is not
recognised as valid in some other States. To obtain a divorce in the
State of New York, you must prove infidelity on the part of your wife;
but just across the Hudson, in the State of New Jersey, it is to be
obtained on a proof of cruelty or incompatibility of character. If this
is not easy enough for you, take the train to Chicago, where divorce is
to be had for the asking almost.

The Court of Divorce in Chicago, called by the Americans the "divorce
mill," decided 681 cases during the year 1887.

This institution is just as flourishing in the State of Indiana as in
Illinois. The Easterners jokingly pretend that, as the train rolls into
the capital of Indiana, the porters cry out: "Indianopolis--twenty
minutes for divorce!" so that couples who may have fallen out on the
journey can part company for good.

Does the husband snore, or chew; has he disagreeable breath, or a clumsy
manner of kissing his wife? does that lady wear false hair, give her
tongue too free play, or habitually take up the newspaper as soon as her
husband shows signs of dropping into sentiment? all these offences are
serious ones before the aforesaid tribunals.

Without troubling to go and settle in Utah, an American may set up a
seraglio of legitimate wives. Each lawful spouse might be a concubine
outside the State she was married in; but by carefully studying the laws
of the different States, Jonathan could, if he pleased, indulge in
polygamy without fear of being prosecuted for it.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have read in American papers divorce cases that were really very

When a will has to be administered, matters often become very mixed up,
as you may easily imagine. Who are the legitimate children? which are
the bastards?

Of course all these confusions make work for the men of law, who
naturally think American legislation the finest in the world.

The city of Chicago alone possesses seventeen hundred and sixty-eight
lawyers, all thriving.

What a capital subject for an opera-bouffe might be got from some of
those Chicago divorce cases! What merry _quid pro quos_! What amusing
scenes! Choruses of lawyers; choruses of lawful wives, with the refrain:

  "We are Mrs. Jonathan, tra la!"

The facility of marriage and divorce is comic, but it has its tragic
side too.

There exist scoundrels, in America, who make a speculation of marriage.

One constantly hears of some poor girl having been persuaded into
marrying an individual, who deserted her a few days after the ceremony.
Her trinkets and little savings go with the absconding husband, needless
to say.

Why seduce? says the scamp; it is much easier to marry the girl.

The forsaken one may console herself with the reflection that all is
lost save honour.

It is certainly a consolation.

While I was in Michigan, the Detroit detectives were in search of a man
who was claimed by seventeen wives, all _lawful_, robbed, and abandoned.

       *       *       *       *       *

I extract from a Chicago paper the following evidence, full of
originality and humour. The plaintiff is at the bar, being examined:

"What is your husband's occupation?" asked counsel.

"Habitual drunkenness, sir."

"I refer to your husband's profession."

"He made cigars."

"Good cigars?"


"Had not your husband any other profession? Did he not practise as a

"Not professionally."

"Now, did not your husband extract six of your teeth?"

The plaintiff glanced timidly round to see if her husband was within
hearing, and timidly said:

"He did."

"Did he administer gas, or ether, or any anæsthetics?"

"No, sir."

"Did he extract the teeth one after the other?"

"No, all together."

"Had your husband a license to practise as a dentist?"

"Not that I know of. One day he said to me: 'I will allow you a dollar a
day. Bring me the accounts every week; and if ever I find a cent
missing, I will knock your teeth out.'"

"Did he find any deficit in your accounts?"

"One Saturday night I could not balance the books. I was thirteen cents
short. Without a word, my husband struck me in the mouth. Six of my
teeth were knocked out; I swallowed two."

"Have you the other four in court?"

"Yes, sir."

And so forth.

The divorce was granted.


    _Mr. Grover Cleveland, President of the United States.--A
    Public Reception at the White House.--A Private Audience.--Why
    a Yankee Refrained from Accompanying Me.--What the President
    Costs the Nation.--Mrs. Cleveland.--Her Popularity.--Life at
    the White House._

The President is the most accessible citizen of the great Republic of
the New World. Three times a week, he descends to the ground floor
drawing-room, and passes an hour shaking hands with all who wish to make
his acquaintance. There cannot be a man in the world who does so much
hand-shaking as this President of the United States. You enter the White
House at the hour of the public reception, as you enter a church at
service time. I saw three negroes, market women, who had left their
baskets in the antechamber; all sorts and conditions of men. It is the
most democratic sight imaginable. Each person passes to the front in his

"I am glad to see you, Mr. President. I hope both Mrs. Cleveland and
yourself are well." Then the next one's turn comes, and so on.

Thanks to an amiable letter of introduction, which our esteemed
Minister, M. Roustan, gave me for Colonel Lamont, the President's
Secretary, I easily obtained a private audience of Mr. Grover

Mr. Cleveland is a man of about fifty, tall, portly, powerful-looking,
with quiet force and resolution written in every line of his face and
figure. As you look at him, you say to yourself, "Here is a man with a
cool head, and a pretty clear insight into human nature." His face is
pleasant, has a sympathetic smile, and a kind look in the keen eyes. His
bearing is full of natural dignity, without the least suspicion of
haughtiness, and you are at your ease with him at once. The President is
a born helm-holder: a man with steady nerves, and a clear cool brain;
withal a captain who has worked his way up from before the mast by
indomitable energy and plodding.

In the ten minutes that our interview lasted, he managed to say many
amiable things of France, and was most cordial in wishing me a pleasant
sojourn in the States. I left the library, where the President had
received me, greatly impressed with the simplicity with which things are
done at the White House. It was a revelation. Here was the chief of
executive power, the Sovereign, so to speak, of a great people,
certainly of the greatest nation of the future, receiving without more
ceremony than the plainest private individual. And I thought of the kind
of reception an ordinary English ratepayer would meet with, who would
take the liberty of asking for an interview with one of the legion of
German princelings to whom John Bull gives outdoor relief. The very
lacquey at the door would wonder how far the audacity of the common herd
can go.

After my interview, a little incident occurred, which was, I thought,
very American. I had gone to the White House with an American gentleman,
who sat in the carriage we had driven in, while I went to present my
respects to Mr. Grover Cleveland.

"Why did you not come up and see the President with me?" I asked when I
rejoined him.

"Why?" he said; "simply because I pay the President to work and not to
talk. Is it likely I should go and disturb him? It is quite enough for
him to have to spend time over the visitors to Washington."

In truth, the President is paid to work.

His pay is 50,000 dollars, about £10,000 a year, and all the expenses of
the White House come out of his pocket. Mr. Cleveland works from twelve
to fourteen hours a day. He is the most active and hard-working man of a
hard-working nation. For the enormous amount of work he undertakes, the
President of the United States costs Jonathan half the sum of money John
Bull pays the Viceroy of Ireland to open a few bazaars, and imprison a
few Irish patriots. No king, no queen, no princes, no dukes, no
chamberlains, no palace watch-dogs of any kind.

Happy country whose executive power costs her but a few thousand pounds,
and whose rulers are recruited from the intelligent plodders of the

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Cleveland, already respected and looked up to, three years ago, for
his talents, his zeal, and his integrity, has seen his popularity grow
greater every day since he united his destiny with that of the most
charming of America's daughters.

Mrs. Cleveland is a lady of scarcely five-and-twenty summers, whose
beauty has been so often described that it would be tedious to dwell
longer on the subject. She is lovely, simply lovely. Whether Republicans
or Democrats, all the Americans look upon Mrs. Cleveland with the eyes
of the President.

I remember having one day seen, in a comic paper, a caricature
representing Mrs Cleveland bringing back her husband on her shoulders to
the White House. A caricature has no value, except when founded upon
reality. At this time, everyone was unanimous in saying that, if Mr.
Cleveland were re-elected President, he would in a large measure owe the
honour to his wife.

Send a President home to his own fireside, is a thing the Americans do,
with few exceptions, every four years; but send away from the White
House a pretty woman who, for three years, has done the honours of it
with as much tact as grace,--the Americans are gallant, and had to think
twice about doing that. Many an American threw a "Cleveland" into the
electoral urn for the sake of the bright eyes of the pretty

The manner in which Mrs. Cleveland has filled the position of mistress
of the White House was constantly being spoken of with glowing praise,
in newspapers and in private circles, during my stay in America. In
truth, it is no small thing for a young woman of twenty-two, with no
special education or training for such a position, to be able, from the
first day she stands, if not "in the fierce light that beats about a
throne," yet in a glare of publicity, to display such tact and charm as
to win praise from every tongue.

But the way in which Mrs. Cleveland has filled the position of first
lady of the land is an illustration of the remarkable adaptibility of
American women generally. In this, Jonathan's daughters resemble the
women of my own country. This inborn talent does not only exist in good
society, but even among the lower-middle classes. Put a little French
seamstress in a drawing-room full of well-bred people, and at the end of
an hour, in her walk, and talk, and behaviour, you will not know her
from a lady. In the Americans and French there is suppleness. The
English keep the marks of the mould their childhood is formed in, and
with difficulty take other impressions.

       *       *       *       *       *

The White House is a two-storied mansion, very unpretentious, standing
in pretty grounds. It is as simple within as without; not the abode of
luxury and display, but the abode of work.

Life at the White House is very homely.

Breakfast is served at nine, and generally consists of half a dozen
dishes, such as any American with a sound appetite would order at a good
hotel. The President takes coffee with his morning meal, while the young
mistress of the house prefers tea.

At half-past one the President returns from the Capitol, where he has
passed four hours hard at work, and luncheon is served. A dish of game
or poultry, ham, pastry, such is generally the bill of fare.

On Sundays, luncheon is a cold repast, and served in the simplest and
quickest way, so as to give the servants as much free time and as little
work as possible.

Dinner is served at half-past six, and usually lasts but half an hour.
The President drinks wine, but sparingly, and Mrs. Cleveland never
touches anything stronger than Apollinaris water.

The steward buys what he thinks will please the palates of the master
and mistress of the Executive Mansion, but has no orders. He has to
cater for easily-pleased tastes, and the bill of fare invariably gives

Whether guests are present or not, the President is served first.
Perhaps Louis XIV. might have refused to be served before the ladies;
but Mr. Cleveland has so many qualities which the _grand monarque_ did
not possess, that it would be very ungenerous indeed to dwell on such an
insignificant detail. After all, it is not Mr. Cleveland that is served
first, but the first magistrate of America. The politeness is one done
to the nation.

Mrs. Cleveland calls her husband "Mr. President." Her own name is
Frances Folsom, which, it is said, her husband shortens into "Frank" in
private. There appears to be no etiquette established on this subject.
Martha Washington called the founder of the great American Republic
"General." Mrs. Hayes called the President "Mr. Hayes," whilst Mrs.
Lincoln and Mrs. Garfield called their respective husbands "Abram" and


    _Politics.--Parties.--The Gentleman and the Politician.--"Honest
    John" and "Jolly Roger."--The Irish in America.--Why the Americans
    are in Favour of Home Rule.--The Mayor of New York and the Green
    Flag.--The German Yankees.--The American Constitution and the
    President.--Executive and Legislative Powers.--England is a
    Freer Country than America.--The Elections.--An Anecdote of M.
    Jules Grévy._

In America the pursuit of politics is a liberal profession--very liberal
for those who take it up.

In America, as in England, there are two great political parties;
instead of being called Conservatives and Liberals, they are called
Republicans and Democrats. The difference which exists between these
parties is this: One is in power, and tries to stay in; the other is
out, and tries to get in.

All that is done by the one is condemned in advance by the other,
whichever the other may be. It is _parti-otism_.

Good society keeps prudently aloof from politics and politicians. When a
servant announces a politician, his master whispers in his ear: "John,
lock up the plate, and take care there is nothing lying about."[12]
John, faithful to orders, stands sentinel in the hall, and, while he is
showing out the politician, keeps an eye on the umbrellas and overcoats.

  [12] I once made this statement before a London audience. An
       Englishman was heard to remark to his neighbour: "Is this
       a fact I wonder?"

For that matter, the American democracy is no exception to the rule. To
become a chemist, you must study chemistry; to become a lawyer, you must
study law; but, in a democracy, to be a politician you need only study
your interests. Enlightened, educated, well-bred Americans have no
desire to be confounded with the heroes of the Stump, and stand back;
the rich financiers and merchants are too busy to take up politics; the
senators and congressmen are more or less the chosen of the common
people, and good society says: "No, thank you; I prefer to stay at
home." Thus it is that the ground remains clear for the noisy
mediocrities, and that a gentleman has only to mix himself up in
politics to become a _déclassé_. He must reach the White House to
inspire a little respect. The American gentleman has not the least
ambition to see his fair name dragged in the mud; to hear himself called
"thief," or nicknamed "Honest John," "Jolly Roger," or what not. He
takes a joke as well as another; but if you were to call him "Senator"
or "Congressman," he would have you up for defamation of character. The
President himself, capable and upright as he is, does not altogether
escape the contempt which the politician inspires in the man of

When I was asked, in America, what celebrities I had met, I generally
answered: "First of all, I have had the honour of paying my respects to
your President." I invariably missed my effect. "Ah, really!" people
would say--"but, there, you are a foreigner." This was an excuse, I
suppose; for the Americans did not shut their doors upon me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Contemporary America is governed by the Irish.

The Germans, the Scandinavians, all those crowds of foreigners that,
year by year, flock to the New World to find a livelihood, and which
America gradually assimilates, go West to fell forests and reclaim the
land. But the Irish pitch their tents, for the most part, in the large
cities, where they congregate together and turn their attention to
politics. The city of New York, for instance, which has been
successively conquered by the Dutch, the English, and the Yankees, is
to-day in the hands of the Irish. New York is the real capital of

I was in America on the 17th of March, St. Patrick's Day. I remember
that the Irish demanded to have the day officially celebrated in New
York, and the Mayor was requested to hoist the green flag over the City
Hall. This gentleman, for refusing to comply, was next day pronounced a
"false patriot" and a "traitor."

The English are always wondering why Americans all seem to be in favour
of Home Rule, and ready to back up the cause with their dollars. Why? I
will tell you. Because they are in hopes that, when the Irish get
Ireland, they will all go home.

I, too, would like to see the Irish in possession of Ireland, but for
other reasons. First and chiefly, because they are good patriots, and,
though in a foreign land, even naturalized Americans, they do not forget
their beloved country. Americans though they be in their new home, they
yet remain Irish. They give their allegiance to America; but their
hearts remain true to Ireland.

What a contrast to the Germans whom you find in the United States! These
forget their mother-tongue, and their children do not speak it. They
abuse their country.

Wherever the German settles he becomes "native." He is not a colonizer:
he adopts at the outset the customs, creed, and language of his new
Fatherland: I believe he would become a nigger in Africa. But this has
always been his wont. When the Germanic hordes invaded Gaul in the fifth
century, they became Gauls in a very little time: spoke Latin, and,
thanks be, only left in our language about five hundred words of
Teutonic origin.

How can one help wishing that they may one day return to their country,
those Irish, who, a thousand leagues from Ireland, remain Irish still?
How can one help loving them, those brave sons of Erin, so amiable and

I have many times been asked why, having written on the subject of
England and Scotland, I had no intention of publishing my impressions of
the Irish.

My answer is this: in speaking of a people, I like to touch on their
pet transgressions, their faults and weaknesses, and I have never been
able to find any in the Irish.

You will understand now why I would not risk the little reputation I may
have made, and write of the Irish.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon the strength of a six months' sojourn in America, one would hardly
attempt to deliver a verdict on the political system of the country.

I think, however, that it may safely be affirmed that the English are a
freer people than the Americans; that the constitutional--I had almost
said republican--monarchy of England is preferable to the authoritative
democracy of America.

The American Constitution was copied from that of the England of 1776,
and the President of the United States was invested with a power about
equal to that of George III. Since that date the English have advanced,
but the Americans have not. Now, in these cases, not to advance is to go
back. The English of the year of grace 1888 would soon give their queen
notice to quit, if she took it into her head to ask for power equal to
that possessed by the President of the United States: it would take less
time, perhaps, than the Americans would need to get rid of a troublesome

For four years the Americans are at the mercy of their chief
representatives. Scarcely have the latter gone through their
apprenticeship in the science of politics and government, when they have
to go home. The consequence is, that there are but novices:
politicians, but no statesmen. These small politicians excite the
interest of the public so little, that the American newspapers furnish
their readers with many more details about what is said at Westminster,
at the Palais Bourbon, and at the Reichstag, than about what is being
done at the Capitol in Washington.

Reforms are constantly talked of in America, but how obtain them? Public
opinion has but a secondary influence upon the Government. The English
would obtain a constitutional reform in much less time than the
Americans. In England, all officials are the servants of the public; in
America, they are their masters. The English Parliament is constantly
influenced by public opinion; the American Congress is not so influenced
at all, and the people's representatives rarely give account to their
electors of the way in which they have acquitted themselves of their

There is not one out of a thousand educated Americans, there is not one
honest newspaper, that does not demand the immediate passing of the
Copyright Bill; yet Congress turns a deaf ear to the wishes of the
people with perfect impunity. This is one example among a hundred.

During four years the President has almost _carte blanche_. He can
declare war and stop legislation. Mr. Glover Cleveland has already
vetoed 120 bills. An authoritative democracy like this seems to present
all the dangers of an absolute monarchy, without possessing, as a
compensation, the advantages of fixity.

The position of this President is very curious. Imagine to yourself a
king who, after four years' service, disappears into the obscurity of
private life, is no more heard of than a late Lord Mayor unless he has
been assassinated, and whose very features are forgotten, unless they
have been perpetuated upon dollar bills and postage stamps.

The Presidential election, which takes place every fourth year, is the
most feverish phase of the feverish American life. The whole nation
becomes delirious. Several months before the day fixed, every mind is
preoccupied with but one thing, the election. The newspapers are full of
it; conversation has no other subject. Passions are let loose; intrigues
are on foot; the most odious calumnies are circulated; men stop at
nothing that may give the victory to their party. For three or four
weeks prior to the election, the country is given over to processions,
meetings, banners, stump speeches, torch-light marches. As soon as Fate
has decided between the candidates, calm is restored, the fray ceases,
arms are extended only in hand-shakings, the vanquished accept their
defeat with as much bravery as they had displayed in the struggle, and
everyone goes once more about his business.

       *       *       *       *       *

The United States well deserve their name. The Union is a true and firm
one. It reposes on contentment. It is composed of over thirty republics,
_republicæ in Republica_. Each State has its governor and its two Houses
of Legislature; that is to say, each governs itself in its own fashion.
For instance, in certain States you cannot obtain a divorce except from
an unfaithful wife; in another, you can obtain it by proving that your
wife habitually has your chops served overdone. In one State, the law
does not punish drunkenness as an offence; in another, the sale of
alcoholic drinks is completely interdicted. The American States, all
managing their own local government as they each see fit, live in
perfect harmony one with another. That which makes the strength of
America is, that everyone seems satisfied with the form of government.

I said just now that America possessed no great political orator or
statesman, and that what went on at Washington scarcely awoke any
interest in the people; but are not great political orators generally
evoked by great public wrongs? Are not also sometimes great public
wrongs evoked by great political orators? And when a nation lives in
happiness and complete security, must not its politics necessarily be
uninteresting? Happy the nation whose politics do not furnish the
foreign press with sensational news!

       *       *       *       *       *

I said also that I considered the people of England freer than the
people of America. This demands an explanation. In advancing such an
opinion, I mean to say that the English exercise more influence over the
Government than do the Americans, and that they invest the agents of
authority with much smaller powers. An American policeman, for in
stance, is endowed with an authority which he can with impunity use in
tyrannous fashion. The English policeman is the servant of the public;
is responsible before the public for his acts; may be given in charge on
the spot if he insults or roughly handles you; and may be prosecuted for
making a false accusation against you.

Bureaucracy is much more tyrannical in America than in England. You meet
at every turn with a man who lets you know that he has "certain
instructions to carry out." You soon know what that means in a country
where there are _avec le ciel des accommodements_. You get out of the
difficulty by the aid of that irresistible argument, named "the dollar."
In the trains, for instance, I have known the conductor refuse me
permission to occupy a vacant bed by the side of my own, and which
pleased me better than the one that had been assigned to me. "Your
ticket bears a certain number, and I can't change it; I must carry out
instructions." Useless to try and make him understand that the bed,
being disengaged, it matters little to the company whether you occupy it
or not. Orders must be obeyed. You pull a half-dollar piece out of your
pocket, and the difficulty is surmounted. Regulations only come into
existence to be trampled on as occasion requires.

The English have the habit of making themselves at home everywhere, but,
above all, in places where they pay. Nothing is so repugnant to them as
those thousand and one little tyrannies that go by the names of
regulations, restrictions, rules, by-laws, etc. If you would be
unhampered by such, if you would enjoy perfect freedom, live in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

No one doubts that England is the freest country on earth, not even our
staunchest French republicans.

A few months before his election to the presidency of the French
Republic, M. Jules Grévy was present one evening at a political dinner
in the beautiful mansion of the Vicomtesse de Rainneville. At this
epoch, things scarcely seemed to point to the future elevation of M.
Grévy; and as M. de Grandlieu, who told the anecdote in the _Figaro_,
maliciously said, if the Orleans Princes had displayed a little more
resolution, M. Grévy would probably never have known any other palace
than the one in which his pleadings failed to awaken the judges.

After dinner, in the elegant smoking-room, one of the guests drew M.
Grévy aside, and said to him:

"Well, sir, seeing the turn things are taking, have you not enough of
the Republic?"

"On the contrary, I have just returned from a country where I have
learned to appreciate it more."

"Where is it you have been? to Switzerland?"

"No, a little further."

"Not America?"

"Oh, no."

"In what country can you have strengthened so much your Republican

"I have just returned from England!" replied M. Grévy.


    _The Ordinary American.--His Voice, his Habits, his
    Conversation.--He Murders his Language and your Ears.--Do not
    judge him too quickly._

Nothing is ordinary in America.

The ordinary American himself is extraordinarily ordinary.

He takes liberties with his fellow-creatures, and with the English
grammar. He murders your ears, and the mother-tongue of Shakespeare. He
chews, hawks, and spits; but he has a certain good-humoured brag and
liveliness about him which invite further acquaintance.

His fingers, cravat, and shirt-front sparkle with diamonds.

In conversation, he attacks all subjects imaginable with complete
assurance. He talks tall, and through the nose. He does not raise his
voice much. He buzzes rather than speaks: at a certain distance you
think you hear the droning of bagpipes.

Meeting you in a railway-carriage, he will ask you point-blank where you
are going, what you are doing, and where you come from. By degrees he
grows bolder, and, if the fancy takes him, he will touch the cloth of
your coat, and ask you, "What did you give for that?" He has not the
least intention of being disagreeable. This is not an act of rudeness,
but one of good fellowship. He, on his part, will give you all the
information you care to have about himself. He takes it for granted that
you are as inquisitive as he is, and he is ready to satisfy your
curiosity. He is obliging.

This man, whom you began by taking for some ignorant babbler, presently
gives to his conversation a turn that astonishes you. He speaks to you
of France in a way which shows you that he is conversant with all that
is going on there. The sayings and doings of General "Bolangère" are
familiar to him. He knows the names of the chief members of the
Ministry. He is interested in M. Pasteur's researches; he has read a
review of M. Renan's last book, and of M. Sardou's latest play. He has
judicious remarks to make upon literature. He knows his Shakespeare, as
not one Frenchman of his class knows Corneille, Racine, Molière, or
Victor Hugo. You discover that he is well-read, this man who says _I
come_ for _I came_, _you was_, _you didn't ought_, _I don't know as I
do_, etc. He can give you information about his country as useful as it
is exact.

He talks politics--even foreign politics--like a man of sense. He is far
more enlightened on the Irish question than most people are in England.
The ordinary Englishman is Conservative or Liberal without knowing very
well why--generally because his father was, or is, the one or the other.
Ask him why the Irish have been complaining for centuries of the way the
English govern them, he can rarely give you anything but commonplaces
in reply: "We conquered them, they ought to obey us;" or, "We cannot
allow the Irish to dismember the United Kingdom," as if unity did not
consist in living in harmony, as if the Union of the United States was
in danger because each State governs itself in its own fashion. I must
say the ordinary Englishman, who is in favour of Home Rule for Ireland,
does not base his opinion upon arguments more serious or more solid:
"Mr. Gladstone says it is right;" he does not go much deeper than that.
Neither knows the history of Ireland, or the origin of the land tenure
in that unhappy country.

This same American talks theology. He discusses the Bible. He reads the
writings of Colonel Ingersoll, refuting that gentleman's ideas or
accepting his conclusions.

In a word, you thought you were in the company of an ignorant bore of a
bagman, and you have had one or two hours' talk with an intelligent and
interesting man.


    _American Activity.--Expression of the Faces.--Press the
    Button, S.V.P.--Marketing in the House.--Magic Tables.--The
    Digestive Apparatus in Danger.--Gentlemen of Leisure.--Labour
    Laws.--A Six Days' Journey to go to a Banquet.--My Manager
    cuts out Work for me.--A Journalist on a Journey.--"Don't wait
    dinner, am off to Europe."_

That which strikes the European most in his first walk through New York
streets is the absence of stupid faces. All are not handsome, but all
are intelligent-looking and full of life. The next thing that strikes
him is the well-grown look of the people. Few or no deformities. He does
not see one halt or hunchbacked person out of the ten thousand he may
meet. With the exception of the old people, few have defective sight.
Apart from the complexion, which is pale, everything seems to indicate
an active, strong, healthy people. The constant crossing of races must
daily tend to the improving of the Americans, physically and

You see so many thin men and so many stout women, that you almost
immediately conclude that the former live in a furnace of activity, and
the latter in cotton-wool. This impression grows upon you, and soon
takes the form of a conviction.

The Americans do not walk much. It is not that they are indolent. Far
from it. It is because their legs will not carry them fast enough.

The faces of the men you meet look absorbed in thought. Their hats are
well down on their heads. This, again, is a sign of intelligence. Do not
smile. The fool perches his hat on his head, the man with a well-filled
brain puts his head into its covering.

These same faces are pale, and you see many prematurely grey heads. The
want of open-air exercise, the dryness of the atmosphere, the
suffocating heat of the rooms, the vitiated air in the houses which seem
to have windows only for the purpose of letting in a little light,
easily explain this double phenomenon.

The women of every country are unanimous--in pronouncing the American
men handsome; and as there are few men who do not think the American
women lovely, there can be but one opinion on the subject: the American
race is a good-looking one. But that which makes the charm of the men's
faces is not regularity of feature; it is, as I have already said, the
intelligence written on them, the wonderful, the amazing activity that
animates them.

This activity you find in all stations of society, in the financial
world, the literary world, the world of politics, everywhere. It is a
fever with which the whole nation is smitten.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the eyes of the worthy, peaceful Frenchman who has not travelled, an
American is a lunatic who does nothing like other people. After all,
eccentricity is but an exaggerated form of activity; but for certain
people with narrow ideas, eccentricity and madness are but one and the
same thing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us take a little look at Americans at home, and see if I was wrong
in calling American life pure phantasmagoria.

We will begin by the private houses.

In a well-appointed house, you will find, in a little room on the
ground-floor, a plaque fitted with several buttons. You touch the first,
and immediately a cab drives up to your door.[13] You touch the second,
and in a minute or two, there appears a messenger from the telegraph
office to take your telegram or carry a parcel or message for you to any
part of the city. You touch the third, and a policeman presents himself,
as if by enchantment, to know if you suspect the presence of burglars.
You touch the fourth, and heigh, presto! up dashes the fire brigade,
with engine, fire-escape, and the rest of their life-saving apparatus,
and this in about the length of time that it took Cinderella's godmother
to turn the pumpkin into a coach.

  [13] If you press it twice, it is a two-horse cab that comes.

Jonathan will not stop here. Before long we shall see the architects of
all first-class houses laying on, not only gas, water, the telephone and
the electric light, but the opera and church service.

Already the ladies of Chicago do their marketing at home. The
housekeeper goes to her telephone and rings.

"Hello!" responds the central office.

"Put me in communication with 2438"--(her butcher's number).

In another instant the bell rings.



"Is it the butcher?"


"Send me two pounds of fillet of beef, and a leg of mutton, by twelve

"Very good! Is that all?"


"All right."

Upon this the lady rings again.

"Hello!" from central office, where this kind of thing goes on all day

"Send me 1267" (the fruiterer).

Again the bell rings.



"Is it the fruiterer?"


And the scene is repeated--and so on with the baker, the grocer, and all
the lady's tradespeople.

We have all seen the wonderful labour-saving, time-saving apparatus of
American invention which has suppressed the cry of "Cash here!" in most
large shops in England, as well as America. To watch the ball containing
your bill and coin drawn up, to see it run along one inclined groove,
and return on another, bringing your change and the bill receipted, is
to look on at another piece of American legerdemain.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a great effort being made now in New York, Chicago, and other
towns, to find out a plan to accelerate the service in restaurants and
do away with waiters. It is very simple and the Americans will not be
baffled for such a small matter.

This is how the thing is to be done:

The restaurant is provided with small numbered tables. Each table is in
direct communication with the kitchen by means of rails. Close at hand
are a certain number of electric buttons upon which the customer sees
written _beef_, _mutton_, _chop_, _vegetables_, _tart_, _etc._ He
touches three, four, five buttons, according to his appetite, and the
cook receives his order.

"Steak and potatoes, tomato, salad, chocolate cream, for No. 52!... All
right, ready!"

In an instant a tray bearing the lunch appears upon the table, placed
there without hands. When the customer has disposed of his food, he
touches the button marked _bill_. In a twinkling the bill appears on his
plate, and the assuaged American settles it at the desk as he goes out.
The whole thing is as simple as _bonjour_.

The American complains that it is impossible to lunch in less than ten
minutes. This evil will be remedied shortly.

If you want a really striking sight, go to one of the great restaurants
of Chicago or New York at lunch time. Those Americans using their knife
and fork will make your head swim. At a little distance, they look as if
they were all playing the dulcimer.

I lunched one day at the Astor House, near the heart of the Stock
Exchange furnace of New York. I was standing at the bar making all the
speed possible with my food, so as to give place to the crowd pressing
behind me. All the time I heard such remarks as:

"There's one that isn't in a hurry! How much longer is he going to be?
Is he going to take an hour over his grub?"

You eat too fast, my dear Jonathan, and I understand why your
anti-dyspeptic pill makers cover your walls with their advertisements.
You die young; and you do not live, you burn out. You rush on at express
speed, in your chase after the dollar, and you have not time to look at
Happiness, standing with open arms at your door. Your very evenings are
not your own. Hardly have you taken upon your knees one of your lovely
little ones to kiss and caress, hardly have you begun a little
love-scene with your pretty wife, when, ding, ding, ding, there is the
telephone going.

"Hello! Hello!"

Your wife and children would fain see the telephone thrown to the winds,
for you are a gallant husband and a charming father.

The little French provincial shopkeeper, who locks his shop-door, from
twelve to one o'clock, while he dines with his family, has come nearer
than you to solving the problem of life, _How to be happy_. Sharper and
Co. may suspend payment, without the fact interfering with his
digestion. Twice a year he goes and takes up his three per cent.
dividend on the Government Stock. It is petty, perhaps; but it is
secure, and he can sleep upon both ears.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those Americans are never still, never at rest. Even when they are
sitting they must be on the move; witness the rocking-chair habit.

No repose for them: their life is perpetual motion, a frantic race.

Opposite my windows, at the Richelieu Hotel in Chicago, there was a
railway station. Every ten minutes the local trains came and went. Each
time the bell announced the approach of a train, I saw a crowd tear
along the path of the station, and leap into the carriages, taking them
by storm. By leaving their offices thirty seconds earlier, these good
people might have walked comfortably to the station and saved themselves
this breathless chase.

Go to the Brooklyn Bridge station, New York, about five o'clock in the
afternoon. There you will see a sight very like the storming of a fort.

An American wrote me one day a note of a few lines, and thus excused
himself for his brevity: "A word in haste--I have hardly time to wink."
Poor fellow! only think of it, not even time to wink; it makes one

But it must be acknowledged that this feverish activity has made America
what she is. Yesterday forest and swamp, to-day towns of five, ten
thousand souls, with churches, free libraries, free schools, newspapers;
towns where people work, think, read, pray, make fortunes, go bankrupt,

Very few Americans are content to live on their private means. There is
no leisure class, there are no unemployed. Rich and poor, old and young,
all work. They die in harness, harnessed to the car of Mammon. A
millionaire on his death-bed says to his son: "I leave you my fortune on
the express condition that you work." General Daniel Butterfield
expressed the feeling of most American fathers when he said on some
public occasion: "If I had ten sons I would not give them a cent until
they had learned to earn their own living, though I were ten times a

Mr. Whitelaw Reid, editor of the New York _Tribune_, Mr. Madill, of the
Chicago _Tribune_, and several other editors I could mention, are
millionaires. You will invariably find them at their desks until one in
the morning. They work like simple supernumeraries.

Outside certain Anglo-maniac sets, to be found in New York, Boston, and
Philadelphia, no one boasts of living on his property.

In England, a man who does nothing goes by the name of _gentleman_; in
Chicago he goes by the name of _loafer_.

In fifty years' time, when America has two hundred million inhabitants,
perhaps she will impose her ideas upon the Old World. Then, maybe,
society will have no contempt except for the ignorant and the idle.

A young man, with a very intelligent-looking face, was pointed out to me
one evening, in a Chicago drawing-room.

"He is very rich," said my hostess to me softly. "For a year or two
after he inherited the property he did no work, and people began to
rather shun him. But he has just gone into partnership with a friend in
business, and so he is quite reinstated in everyone's esteem."

I know Americans of both sexes who, rather than lead an idle life, have
taken to the stage. These actors and actresses belong to good society,
which admires them in public and welcomes them in private. Such things
do honour to the national spirit, and raise the dramatic profession in
the eyes of the public. Why should not all actresses be as respected and
respectable as singers or pianists?

       *       *       *       *       *

Not only is work respectable in America, but in certain States it is
compulsory. In the State of Missouri, for instance, any idle improvident
fellow who neglects his family or, through shiftless habits, is likely
to become a burden to the State, may be sold at auction to the highest
bidder for a term of six months. This is a law passed twenty years ago.
It provides also, that after the vagrant has worked out the
purchase-money, any other sum earned by him, at a fair compensation, is
to be applied by his purchaser to the payment of his debts, or the
maintenance of his family. If, when he is free again, he returns to his
bad habits, his fellow-townsmen take the law into their own hands. They
escort him to some public place and flog him; and if that does not cure
him, his wife runs the risk of seeing him one fine day hanging from some
neighbouring tree. The people will tell you, as the most simple thing in
the world, that by acting thus they economise the cost of a police
force. Rather primitive this reason, it must be admitted; but in new
societies, idleness is a crime, and the bees ought to have a right to
drive the drones out of the hive.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jonathan is but John Bull expanded--John Bull with plenty of elbow-room,
and nothing astonishes him, nothing stops him.

Distances, he takes no account of: for him they do not exist. At the
annual dinner of the Clover Club, at Philadelphia, seated opposite me
was the editor of one of the large Chicago newspapers. He had come from
Chicago to Philadelphia to be present at the banquet. After all, it is
but a twenty-four hours' journey. That's all. I could not help making a
remark on the subject to my neighbour at table.

"There's nothing at all astonishing about it," said he. "You see that
bald gentleman with a long white beard over there? Well, he has come
from San Francisco."

A piece of canvas-back duck, at that moment in my throat, nearly choked

"Excuse me," I said to my neighbour, "I have only been in America three
months.... I shall get used to it--I shall get used to it."

And, indeed, it was very necessary to get used to it.

I was looking one day at the list of engagements which my manager had
just sent me for the following week. To my stupefaction I read:

  "Monday, New York.

  "Tuesday, Youngstown (Ohio).

  "Wednesday, Indianapolis."

I ran to the office of this imperturbable Yankee, and asked him:

"Is it possible that I can reach these towns, so far apart, in time to
give my lectures?"

"Nothing easier," he replied, seizing the railway guide. "Your New York
lecture comes off at three in the afternoon. At five, you have a train
which gets to Youngstown by noon next day. There you lecture at eight.
Pay your bill and send your luggage to the station before going to the
Academy of Music, where you have to speak. As soon as your lecture is
over, jump into a cab, and you will catch the ten o'clock train, which
will set you down at Indianapolis in time for your next day's

"What! go to the train in evening dress?" I exclaimed.

"And why not? You undress in the sleeping-car, I suppose?"

"What a life!" thought I. "These Yankees beat everything."

Oh, that map of the United States! If you would have any idea of a good
lecturing tour in America, just imagine yourself appearing in public one
day in London, the next in Paris, the day after in Berlin, then in
Vienna, St. Petersburgh, and Constantinople to finish up the week. Then
take Teheran, and the chief cities in Asia, and you have a fair idea of
the journeys.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a little scene of American life. It was told me, not only
without boast, but as the most natural thing in the world, by Mr. L. S.
Metcalf, the editor of the _Forum_, one of the most important Reviews of
New York.

Mr. Metcalf wished to have an article on the subject of the Mormons for
his Review: not one of those papers written by a man who had passed
through Utah, but a serious study. For several weeks he had been in
correspondence with one of the elders of the Mormon Church.

"All this letter-writing does not advance matters much," thought Mr.
Metcalf to himself one day; "one or two hours' conversation would settle
the thing."

Two hours later he was in the train for Salt Lake City. He probably
reckoned this way: "It is only five days' journey in the cars, and what
is that when one sets against it a good talk in the interest of the

Mr. Metcalf set out, arrived, saw, had his chat, took the cars again,
and came home.

"But," I timidly advanced, "what became of the Review during all this

"Oh, it suffered nothing from my absence," said its editor; "I installed
myself at the table in the library-car, where I was able to carry on my
work at my ease. When we stopped at the stations, I posted my letters,
and sent and received telegrams with as little difficulty as in New

"But could you really work easily in the train?"

"Better, much better, than at my own desk, my dear sir; there was no one
to come and disturb me."

I was one day relating this conversation to an American journalist.

"You are simply wonderful, you Americans," I said to him; "you would go
to the Sandwich Islands to fetch news of the king at Honolulu."

"Just so," he replied--"I have done it."

This "I have done it" was the finishing touch.

A New Yorker sets out for San Francisco, as Parisians set out for
Versailles or Chartres. He takes the Liverpool steamer, just as we take
the little boat for Auteuil, without any more fuss, without any more
preparation. Do not ask him whether he will return by the same line.
Perhaps he will take it into his head to come home by China and
Australia. His own country is larger than Europe itself; and France,
England, Germany, Italy, Spain, even Russia,--all these names sound to
his ear no more than Ohio, Pennsylvania, or any other American State.

One of my fellow-passengers, on my homeward trip in the _Germanic_, was
a New Yorker, who, on the morning of the day the boat was to sail, left
home without the least intention of crossing the Atlantic. Having made
up his mind at noon, he telegraphed to his wife, "Don't wait dinner, am
off to Europe," bought a bag and a few necessaries for the voyage, and
calmly embarked at 3.30 for Europe.

American wives are used to this sort of telegrams, and think nothing of


    _The "XIXth Century Club."--Intellectual Activity.--Literary
    Evenings.--Light Everywhere._

To show the point to which intellectual activity goes in America, I
cannot do better than speak of the "XIXth Century Club."

Two or three years ago, Mr. Courtlandt Palmer,[14] one of the principal
inhabitants of New York--a gentleman as rich in intellectual attainments
as in dollars--conceived the happy idea of inviting his friends to meet
twice a month in his drawing-room, for the purpose of discussing the
important questions of the day. His invitation was accepted with
alacrity; and thus the club, which consists of lady members as well as
gentlemen, was formed.

  [14] It is with deep sorrow that I learn, while writing these
       lines, of the death of Mr. Courtlandt Palmer, to whom I
       owe many charming hours spent in New York.

Nothing is more interesting than these meetings; nothing, at all events,
left a deeper or more pleasurable impression upon me than these
intellectual treats. Papers upon some question--political, scientific,
literary, or artistic--are read, and followed by debates.

The reunions were so much enjoyed that the number of the members soon
increased rapidly, and it became necessary to hire a public room for
their accommodation. So great is the present popularity of the club, and
so great the demand for admission to membership, that every few months a
larger room is needed to hold all these people eager to enlighten
themselves on the questions of the day which interest the thinking

The association proceeds in a manner as simple as it is practical.

Is it decided to pass an evening in discussing Socialism, for instance?
The President invites a well-known Socialist to come and explain his
views before the members of the club; he invites also an anti-Socialist
of talent to answer him.

The XIXth Century Club opens its doors, as the _North American Review_
does its columns, to all new ideas anxious to pierce through to the

One evening, last winter, was devoted to the discussion of Sectarianism.
The President of the Club invited a Catholic priest, an Episcopalian and
a Presbyterian minister, a Unitarian and, unless my memory misleads me,
an agnostic. All were listened to attentively, and each had his harvest
of applause.

Another night, the subject chosen was, "The Triumph of Democracy." The
first orator, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, set forth that everything is for the
best in that best of Democracies, the American one. The second, on the
contrary, brought forward much eloquence and many figures to prove that
the governmental system of America was worthless and rotten.

Mr. Carnegie, having gone from Scotland to America with the traditional
half-crown in his pocket, and, by his talents and industry, become one
of the richest men in the United States, it was quite natural to see him
standing up for the American institutions, and waxing eloquent over the
superiority of America to the rest of the world.

Thanks to their vivacity of mind, the Americans have a special talent
for making the most arid subjects interesting. All these debates are
enlivened with humorous remarks, anecdotes, flashes of wit, and clever
repartees. Needless to say that they are conducted with the utmost
courtesy. The most trenchant weapons employed at these tournaments are
sarcasm and banter, and the Americans are adept in the use of both.

In America, such is the respect for the opinions of others, that the
wildest, most incongruous, ideas did not raise a murmur: the audience
would smile and seem to say, "What a droll idea!" and if the droll idea
was expressed wittily, the orator was applauded.

In the course of a debate upon "International Copyright," I remember
hearing one American calmly express the opinion that authors have no
right to their own ideas, and that therefore they have no right to any
remuneration for their work. He developed this strange statement with a
great deal of cleverness, and at the end of his discourse was greeted
with a round of applause as hearty as it was ironical.

All this is highly amusing; but, at the same time, how edifying and

As soon as the debates are over, the audience repair to an adjoining
room for refreshments, and to criticise the opinions advanced during the
evening. The meeting turns into a conversazione, or a reception, at
which the President's wife does the honours.

I saw nothing more striking during my stay in America--nothing which
appeared to me more hopeful for the future of the country--than the
sight of these crowds of four or five hundred people--old men and young,
young girls and matrons, all in fashionable evening dress--met together
to learn something, and to keep themselves posted up in all the new
ideas of the day.

I have heard young ladies read papers of their own composition at these
meetings, and their discourses were as clever as those of their
gentlemen antagonists.

In New York alone, there exist many other societies of the same kind.
Among others, I might name the "Twilight Club." The members meet twice a
month for dinner. At dessert, instead of smoking-room or boudoir
stories, some subject of general interest, decided upon by the President
of the Club at the preceding meeting, is talked over, each member giving
separately his own ideas on the subject under discussion. For the
evening on which I had the pleasure of dining with the club, the chosen
subject was, "Which are the books that have influenced you?" The evening
at an end, it was decided that the topic for the next meeting should
be, "Which are the ideas that have helped you?"

I might name several other clubs, such as the "Drawing-room Club," the
"Thursday Club."

In short, what strikes one is the all-pervading activity, the
intellectual life led by women of good society as well as men.

Impossible that Truth should hide her face in a country where there is
such a flood of light.


    _Climate Incites Jonathan to Activity.--Healthy Cold.--Why
    Drunkenness is Rare in America.--Do not Lose Sight of your
    Nose.--Advice to the Foreigner intending to Visit Jonathan in
    the Winter.--Visit to the Falls of Niagara.--Turkish Baths
    offered Gratis by Nature._

It is to the bright, bracing climate of North America that the activity,
and consequent prosperity, of Jonathan is mainly to be attributed.

The dry, invigorating air induces activity, and you can do things in
America which it would never enter your mind to attempt in Europe.

The cold in winter is excessive, but you do not suffer from it; for my
part, I scarcely noticed it. It is a kind of cold which does not
penetrate, and against which it is easy to protect oneself. It is dry,
healthful, bracing, excites the circulation of the blood, and makes one
feel full of life.

The air is charged with ozone and electricity. Several times, in
touching the heating-pipes and gaseliers, I had tiny electric sparks
flash from my finger-ends. In brushing your hair, you will often hear
the crackling of the electric sparks produced by the friction of the

The American sky is bright. It is never clouded for more than two or
three days together. You live in a clear, smiling atmosphere, which
sheds joy in the heart. It is not wonderful that the Americans are so
bright and lively. Man, everywhere, is influenced by the climate in
which he lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

Stimulants are not needed, water suffices; and few Americans drink
anything but water at meal-time on ordinary occasions. Alcoholic drinks
are almost forbidden by the climate. A bottle of wine goes to the head
sooner in America than half a dozen would in England or France.

When I was in America, though it was winter-time (this includes the
spring, which only exists in American almanacks), I was always thirsty;
the dryness of the atmosphere made my tongue constantly feel like a
grater. I quenched my thirst with water or an ice.

Drunkenness is not at all a national vice in America. On the contrary,
it is rare even among the lower classes, and does not exist in the

When a drunkard is picked up from the gutter, the passer-by says, "It is
a European just come over."

I have often admired the sobriety of the Americans at great dinners,
which are sometimes prolonged to the midnight hour. After dessert, no
more wine. Bottles of mineral-waters are brought in, and the guests
moisten their lips with Apollinaris, Vichy, or whichever sparkling water
they prefer, while smoking and talking.

       *       *       *       *       *

The air is so dry in the north of the States that, when heated at
theatres, concerts, and balls, one breathes with difficulty, and it
often causes the breath to be disagreeable.

I repeat it, the cold is healthy; and the foreigner who visits America
during the winter, only suffers from the suffocating heat of the rooms.
With fur wraps, and the ears well covered, he has nothing to fear in the
air, unless it be for his nose, which I would advise him to keep an eye

If you go to America for the winter, take only autumn and summer
costumes. It is not only the houses that are heated night and day to a
temperature of nearly 80 degrees, but it is the trains as well. All
carriages, cabs, and sleighs are provided with rugs and furs, and you
have no use for winter clothes. In the private houses, hotels, and
railways you will only be able to bear light clothing. All the winter
comforts you will need are furs for out of doors.

The Americans, who cook themselves within doors, fear the cold so little
when they are in motion that, in the States of Illinois, Wisconsin,
Ohio, and others in the north, when the thermometer is down to 30
degrees below zero, they give the preference to open carriages. In
Chicago, Buffalo, and Milwaukee one has almost a difficulty to find a
covered sleigh or cab to go out in at night. It is the same in Canada.
In Toronto, Ottowa, Montreal, and Quebec, nothing but open sleighs. The
driver buries you in furs. Your feet and body are warm, and the cold
that cuts your face seems to help to make your blood circulate, and is
quite enjoyable.

I went to see Niagara Falls (the grandest spectacle it was ever given
to man to behold) in the early part of February. Without suffering from
the cold, I was able to drive for three hours in an open sleigh through
thickly snow-laden air. To have the snow beating in one's face so long,
was not agreeable; but the storm added, if possible, to the grandeur of
the scenery. On alighting at Prospect House, to take a cup of tea before
beginning the train journey to Buffalo, I took off my wraps, and never
have I felt such a glowing sense of warmth and life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The frequent and very sudden changes of temperature in winter,[15] and
the great difference between the temperature of the houses and that of
the outer air,[16] is very trying to the foreigner.

  [15] One day in November, 1887, the thermometer stood at 78 in
       Washington. Next day all the puddles in the gutters were
       frozen, and the mercury marked only 17 above zero, making
       a fall of 61 degrees in a night!

  [16] Whilst the heat kept up within doors varies from 75 to 80
       degrees, the temperature outside may be 10, 20, or 30 degrees
       below zero. What a Turkish bath, indeed!

An American to whom I was complaining of this one day, and who would not
stand anything like criticism of his country, said:

"My dear sir, those changes are very healthful. They stir the blood,
quicken circulation, and are as good as a Turkish bath."


    _Jonathan's Eccentricities.--The Arc de Triomphe not being
    Hirable, an American proposes to Buy it.--The Town Council of
    Paris do not Close with Him.--Cathedrals on Hire.--Companies
    Insuring against Matrimonial Infidelity.--Harmony
    Association.--Burial of a Leg.--Last Will and Testament of an
    American who Means to be Absent on the Day of Judgment._

Jonathan measures everything by his own gigantic ell.

His notions are like the continent he inhabits: vast, almost boundless.
He has done such wonders, that he feels equal to doing anything and

The result is that America is the home of all forms of eccentricities,
of all forms of daring. To the Americans themselves, this daring, these
eccentricities are the most natural things in the world, and that is
what makes their charm.

Jonathan considers that everything is to be had, it is but a question of
will and of money. How much? So much--Done.

Parisians remember very well the American millionaire who, on the
occasion of his daughter's marriage, wrote to the _Conseil Municipal_ to
ask for the loan of the Arc de Triomphe, which he was anxious to
decorate in honour of the wedding, and have the special use of during
the day.

He was politely informed that the Arch was not _to let_.

"Then I will buy it," he replied; "name your price."

The offer was a royal one, and the American, I doubt not, thought the
Town Council mad to let slip such a chance of doing business.

Jonathan would ask the Queen to lend him Windsor Castle for the season,
if the fancy took him.

A Bostonian once conceived the idea of entertaining his friends with the
performance of an oratorio. His drawing-room being much too small to
hold the party he wished to invite, he thought of hiring a concert-room
or a theatre for the night.

"But, no," he said to himself, "an oratorio would be much more
impressive in a sacred edifice."

And he set about hiring the cathedral of the place.

Such things as these make us smile, and we say, "Those Americans are
crazy." Certainly they are a little bit _touched_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In America, the most preposterous ideas find partisans--and subscribers.

Thus, I saw in one of the most widely read American newspapers the
announcement of a company recently founded, with a capital of 500,000
dollars, called:

"Matrimonial Infidelity Insurance Company."

The prospectus of this enterprise states its object and advantages with
categorical clearness. Each sufferer, upon presenting proof, is to
receive from the company a cheque as a sort of court-plaster to patch up
his lacerated feelings. I would not advise you to put a penny in the
concern. I have no confidence in the dividends of an enterprise which
might some day have to pay a fabulous sum to a Mormon, whose twenty or
thirty wives had taken it into their heads to desert in a batch.

The "Consoler" would be a good name for this company of insurance
against the risks of marriage.

I also note the existence of a _Harmony Association_, the object of
which is to examine men and women about to marry, and to give them Mr.
Punch's advice, or to stamp the men warranted to wear and the women
warranted to wash. No more frauds possible. Perhaps the association may
presently undertake to furnish the certificate of the decease of the
future mother-in-law.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a specimen of small and harmless eccentricities, I extract the
following from an American paper:

"Mrs. Margaret R., of New York, had her leg amputated the other day, and
insisted upon its having Christian burial in her family lot in Calvary
Cemetery. A death certificate was made out by the doctor, setting forth
that the leg had died of amputation at the Chambers Street Hospital,
November 29th, 1887; that it was fifty years old, married, and part
mother of a family. The leg was buried with all due ceremony."

The thing being quite natural, the newspaper makes no comment upon it.
It only supplies it with a good heading, something like _A Leg gone to
Heaven in advance of its Owner_.

       *       *       *       *       *

A certain Mr. Ambrose R., of Pittsburg, evidently intending to be a
defaulter at the Last Judgment, has drawn up a will giving these
directions for the disposal of his remains:

"I direct that my body be taken to St. Michael's Church, and, after the
proper religious services are performed, that it be given in charge of
my family, who will convey it to Samson's Crematory, and there have it
burned to ashes, the ashes to be put in a small bottle and given in
charge of the German Consul in Pittsburg. This gentleman will then
forward my ashes to the Consul in New York, who will give them in charge
of the captain of the German steamer _Elba_, who will place them
securely in his ship for the ocean voyage. When at mid-ocean, I direct
the captain to request one of the crew to ascend to the top of the
topmost mast with my ashes in his hand, and, after pronouncing a last
benediction, to extract the cork from the bottle and cast its contents
to the four winds of heaven. I direct also, while this ceremony is being
performed, that it be witnessed by all the passengers on board. After
the _Elba_ has completed her trip and returned again to New York, I
want a full statement of my death and the scattering of my ashes in
mid-ocean published in the Pittsburg papers, so that my friends in this
city shall know my burial-place."

This reminds me of Chateaubriand's ocean burial, but the sprinkling adds
a touch of humour of which poor Chateaubriand was wholly destitute.


    _Advertisements.--Marvellous Puffs.--Illustrated Ditto.--A
    Yankee on the Look-out for a Living.--"Her Heart and a
    Cottage."--A Circus Proprietor and the President of the United
    States.--Irresistible Offers of Marriage.--A Journalist of all
    Work.--Wanted, a Frenchwoman, Young, Pretty, and
    Cheerful.--Nerve-calming Syrup.--Doctors on the Road.--An
    Advocate Recommends Himself to Light-fingered Gentlemen.--Mr.
    Phineas Barnum, the King of Showmen.--Nothing is Sacred in the
    Eyes of Phineas, the Modern Phoenix.--My Manager regrets not
    being able to Engage Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill
    for Platform Work in the United States._

The Americans of to-day are so _blasé_ on the matter of advertisements,
that it is difficult to attract their attention without getting up
extravagant baits for their eyes.

To announce your wares as superior to all that have been yet before the
public; to publish testimonial letters from all the worthy folk who have
been cured by your drug; to merely describe yourself as honest and
industrious, when seeking a situation,--the day for all this is past.

After the ordinary, it became necessary to adopt the extraordinary, and,
in these times, it is as much as the marvellous can do to produce any

The most effective bait is the illustrated advertisement. Here, for
instance, is the "Capilline," which makes the hair and whiskers grow as
if by magic. You have to be so careful in handling the stuff, that if a
drop were to fall, say, on your nose, a tuft of hair would immediately
grow thereon. On the left, you see a poor fellow, bald, whiskerless, and
wan. A young lady is turning her back on him with a look of disgust. The
illustration is entitled, "Before using Capilline--Refused." On the
right, you see a superb male beauty, adorned with a luxuriant growth of
hair and beard. The same young lady reposes her head on his shoulder,
and raises her rapturous eyes to his. Underneath are the words, "After
using Capilline--Accepted." But the most marvellous part of it is, that
the "Capilline" has changed the cut of the man's coat. First he was
dressed in a lank, threadbare, shapeless sack; after having used the
magic elixir, he has bloomed into the pink of tailoring perfection.

I culled the following advertisement from one of the New York papers:

"AS COLLECTOR OR SALESMAN.--Slim, sleek, slender, sharp, shrewd,
sensible, sarcastic Yank, seeks a situation in some store,[17] hotel or
office, as collector or salesman; has highest references, and push and
cheek of an army mule: can sell goods or collect bills with any man on
the continent of North America (Buck's County, Penn., included)."

  [17] Mark the attractive buzzing of all these s's.

The next specimen is an idyll. It is entitled, _Her Heart and a
Cottage_. "For hours she was lost in ecstasy, gazing into her lover's
eyes. 'How beautiful you are,' she said, 'and how happy you look!
Darling, say that it is I who am the cause of your happiness.' The
handsome young man tenderly kissed the lips of his dear one. 'Yes,' he
said, 'it is because you love me that I am so happy, but I owe my look
of resplendent health to Dr. Benson's syrup.'"

A Chicago draper thus advertises his annual sale:

"Sell or Perish--Pay or Die--I must get rid of my stock this week."

On a hairdresser's shop, I read:

"Tonsorial Palace--Professor Rogers has your hair cut under his own
supervision. How is it cut?--_As You Like It_ (Shakespeare)."

       *       *       *       *       *

President Cleveland, wishing one day to see a certain circus
performance, sent to retain a box. The circus proprietor immediately
hired, and sent about the streets of the town, a small army of sandwich
men, carrying an advertisement worded as follows: "The President of the
United States, with his young and beautiful wife, will honour the circus
with their presence this evening."

There was such a demand for seats, that numbers of people were refused;
but Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland, having heard that their names had served as
an advertisement, did not appear.

After the performance, a great part of the audience demanded the return
of half their entrance money, on the ground that the programme had not
been carried out in its entirety, since the President and his wife had
not made their appearance, as the spectators had been led to expect.

The circus manager was obliged to reimburse, says the paper from which I
extract the account.

Never lay aside an American newspaper without reading the
advertisements. Ten to one you will be rewarded for your patience.

The following appeared in the _New York Herald_ matrimonial column:

"A Christian gentleman, good family, highest character, American,
handsome, educated, cultured, will give his youthful manhood and vigour
for the love of a maiden lady with an income; marriage; no triflers."

This reads a "trifle" like a hoax of some male trifler.

In another column, an American, desirous of learning French, expresses
himself thus:

"An American desires to take French lessons of a French lady, young,
well-bred, good-looking, and of a lively disposition."

A tempting offer for my countrywomen.

       *       *       *       *       *

A journalist in the ranks of the unemployed naively addresses himself to
the editors of American papers:

"A journalist without children, and total abstainer, wishes to obtain a
situation as reporter. Writes leaders, general gossip, interviews,
literary musical, and dramatic criticisms, and police-court reports.
Fertile imagination: can make one or two interesting columns out of the
smallest incident."

Fertile imagination! This is the most important testimonial for an
American journalist.

An apothecary may puff a nerve-calming syrup by announcing that, to be
happy in his domestic relations, "a husband should administer a
table-spoonful of it to his wife every morning," without great loss of
dignity: but it is not the shopkeeper alone who has recourse to such
means for keeping himself before the public; much the same thing is done
by certain doctors and lawyers. Of course these charlatans are not to be
confounded with the numerous lawyers and doctors who are an honour to
their professions; but, at any rate, they are men who have passed
examinations to obtain licence, if not their degree.

There are travelling doctors in America who go from town to town to heal
the sick at reduced prices.

Here is the advertisement of one of these gentlemen. It is headed with
his portrait, and appears in the papers of the towns he operates upon:

"Dr. R. has already remained in M---- longer than he first intended, but
at the request of numerous invalids and friends he will extend his stay
one week longer. Patients in other towns have been disappointed by his
long stay in M----; but they have his assurance that this visit WILL NOT

This stereotyped advertisement has a flavour of the drum and cymbals of
the mountebank. Walk up, ladies and gentlemen, walk up and show your
tongues and have your pulses felt.

Further down, this same medical gentleman falls into the style of the
chimney-sweep, anxious to enlarge his connection: "He thanks his many
friends and patrons for the kindness and patronage bestowed upon him,
and trusts, by pursuance of the same honourable business and
professional methods and efforts, to fully merit a continuance of same."

Many a briefless man of the law sends his card around to the occupants
of the various prisons. As an improvement upon this, I would suggest
(and I do not doubt it has been already done) something in the style of
Dr. R.'s puff:

"Mr. X., advocate, presents his compliments to the gentlemen of the
light finger, and hopes to be honoured with their confidence. No fees
unless the case is won. Mr. X. is eloquent, persuasive, tender,
pathetic, impulsive, violent, just as the case may demand. He can
disconcert witnesses and touch the jury. Many great criminals owe him
their liberty and even their lives."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the smoking-room of the _Germanic_ one day, an American, who sat near
me, said, addressing me:

"I believe you are going to America to lecture, sir?"

"Yes," I replied, "I am."

"Who is booming your show, may I ask?" he said in the most natural way
in the world.

I must have stared at him like a rustic, being utterly at a loss to
understand what he meant.

Upon getting this Americanism explained, I had the satisfaction of
finding that my interlocutor's question simply meant, in English, "Who
is your impresario?"

"Well," thought I, "I am going to have a lively time in the States,
that's evident: this is a foretaste that is promising." I went to my
cabin thinking about the Yankee who was to "boom my show."

       *       *       *       *       *

The greatest "boomer" in America is the great, the only, the unique
Barnum. The personality of this king of showmen is not particularly
interesting, except for being typically American, and one that could not
exist in any country but America.

Mr. Barnum (Phineas is his baptismal name), pursued by Fate, is every
five years the victim of a conflagration. His fires happen with terrible
regularity. Whilst I was in America, his tigers and elephants were burnt
out of house and home. Scarcely had the flames been extinguished, when
there were paragraphs in the papers to say that Mr. Barnum's agent was
buying fresh animals for the "biggest show on earth," and all over the
walls of America's cities were to be seen flaring posters, representing
Phineas Barnum rising from the flames, like a modern Phoenix. Appended
was a long literary essay, which began: "Rising Phoenix-like from the
ashes of my fifth fire," and setting forth the wonderful attractions of
the new show which was to be opened.

Mr. Barnum holds in small esteem the man who lets slip a chance of
making money. He would think it quite natural to offer 10,000 francs a
week to General Boulanger to show himself in his museum, and would think
it very unnatural that the General should refuse such a handsome offer.
The rumour had it that the enterprising Phineas wrote to M. Pasteur some
time since to try and engage him. He guaranteed, it is said, 50,000
dollars to the illustrious savant if he would inoculate before the
American public twice a day. It was not much to ask, and the 50,000
dollars would have been easily earned. Barnum, however, had to content
himself with engaging a gentleman in spectacles, resembling more or less
the famous master of the Rue d'Ulm, and he succeeded in securing four
little Americans whom M. Pasteur had just saved from hydrophobia. They
were inoculated (with clear water probably) for a month, in all the
principal towns of the States. The Society for the Protection of
Animals, which does not include man in its circle of operations, made no
objection, and the coffers of the enterprising Phineas overflowed with

Barnum does not understand how a good offer can be refused. He looks
upon everything as being to sell or to let, and the almighty dollar as
the master of the world. One day, he took it into his head to make an
offer for the house in which Shakespeare was born. The English fired up
at the idea, and he had to abandon his project, and be satisfied with

The Musée Grévin in Paris, and Madame Tussaud's Exhibition in London,
are full of celebrities in wax. The dream of Barnum is to exhibit them
in the flesh.

If every European nation were to become a republic, the dethroned
monarchs could go and make their fortunes in America, and the greatest
ambition of Barnum would be realised.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nothing astonishes an American. That which makes his conversation
immensely piquant is the calm, natural tone in which he comes out with
statements that fairly take your breath away.

My impresario had just engaged me for a lecture season in the States and

"I shall have two Europeans on my list for next year," he said, "Mr
Charles Dickens and yourself. I wanted two others, but they were not to
be had."

"That is not very flattering," said I; "but who are the two Europeans
you cannot get?"

"Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill," replied he quite calmly.

Then, suppressing the words "Mr." and "Lord," according to the habit of
his countrymen, he added with a sigh:

"Yes, Gladstone would have made a lump, and Churchill would have been an
elegant success."


    _Railways.--Vestibule Trains.--Hotels on Wheels.--Windows and
    Ventilators, and their Uses.--Pitiless Firemen.--Conductors
    and their Functions.--A Traveller's Perplexity.--Rudeness of
    Railway Servants.--The Actress and the Conductor.--An
    Inquisitive Traveller.--A Negro in a Flourishing
    Way.--Commerce on board the Cars.--"Apples, Oranges,
    Bananas!"--The Negro Compartment.--Change of Toilette.--"Mind
    your own business."_

The Americans have suppressed distances by bringing railway trains to

You take the cars after dinner to go a two or three hundred mile
journey. You pass an hour or two in the smoking-room; you go to your
berth, sleep the night through, and by the time you awake you are at
your journey's end.

In point of comfort, the American trains are to the French and English
trains what these latter are to the stage-coach of bygone days.

Nothing can surpass the comfort and luxury of the Pullman cars, unless
it be the perfected Pullman that is called the Vestibule Train. Six or
seven carriages, connecting one with another, allow of your moving about
freely over a length of some hundred yards. Dining-room, sleeping car,
drawing-room car, smoking-room, library, bath-room, lavatory, the whole
fitted up in the most luxurious style. What can one desire more? It is
a hotel on wheels. It is your _appartement_, in which you whirl from New
York to Chicago in twenty-four hours. Cook, barber, valets de
chambre--you have all at hand. Yes, a barber! There is a barber's shop
at the end of the train. Perhaps, by-and-by, they will introduce a
billiard-room. The platforms at the ends of the carriages are closed in
by a concertina-pleated arrangement having doors opening outwards. You
pass from one carriage to the other without having to expose yourself to
cold or rain; children may play about and run from carriage to carriage
with perfect safety. Everything has been thought out, everything has
been carried out that could conduce to the comfort of travellers; and
unless the Americans invent a style of dwelling that can be moved about
from one place to another (and they will come to this, no doubt, in
time), I do not see that one could desire, or even imagine, more
agreeable, more elegant, or safer railway carriages.

Let anything unforeseen occur--a snowstorm, for instance,--delaying the
train for hours, and you at once recognise the superiority of American
trains over European ones. Instead of being cooped up in a narrow
box-like compartment, shivering with cold and hunger until the rails
have been cleared, you can move about from one end of the thoroughly
warmed train to the other, and obtain food and drink when you require
it. Under such circumstances it is not difficult to resign yourself to
the delay.

Rugs are a useless encumbrance. The trains are warmed from October to
April. As soon as you enter the carriages, you feel the need of taking
off your wraps, for the temperature is generally hovering about the

The fireman is a pitiless ebon tyrant, who will take no heed to your
appeals for mercy: let the temperature be high or low, he evidently
considers his whole duty to be the piling on of as much coal as the
stove will burn.

There are windows and ventilators: but if you open your widow, you will
see your fellow-travellers turn up their coat-collars and get down their
shawls and furs; and you will hear energetic grumblings, which will give
you to understand that you are turning yourself into a public calamity.
The Americans are shivery people, stewing themselves in a _bain-marie_.

As to the ventilators, they are under the management of the car
conductor; and if that gentleman is not too warm, you may gasp and faint
before getting any relief from him. The comfort of the travellers is not
his affair; and if you succeed in coaxing him to open one or two
ventilators, he soon comes along again to close them.[18]

  [18] Even in the morning, after twenty or thirty people have
       passed the night in the car, it is quite difficult to get
       the ventilators opened to change the air.

Here, as well as in the hotels, and in all conditions of American life,
you are at the mercy of servants. There is no remedy at hand, no appeal
against it.

The car conductors are generally impolite, even rude. Do not ask them
questions--above all, those questions which travellers are wont to ask:
"Shall we soon be at----?" "Is the train late?" "What is the next
station?" etc. In America you are supposed to know everything, and no
one will help you unless you should happen to address yourself to
well-bred people.

If you ask a passer-by in the street the nearest way to the station, he
makes as though he understood you not. The word _station_ is English;
but you must talk American here, and say _depôt_, pronounced _deepo_.

When a railway servant has succeeded in insulting you, he is quite
proud, and plumes himself on his smartness; he looks at his mates and
seems to say, "Did you hear how I spoke up to him?" He would be afraid
of lowering himself by being polite. In his eyes, politeness is a form
of servility; and he imagines that, by being rude to well-bred people,
he puts himself on a footing with them, and carries out the greatest
principle of democracy--equality. Just so agreeable, obliging, and
considerate as is the cultivated American; just so rude, rough, and
inconsiderate is the lower-class one.

You go to a railway ticket-office to book for a certain place. Perhaps
there are several lines of railway running to your destination. The
clerk says, without looking at you, and at the rate of a thousand words
a minutes:

"What line? B. and O., or S.F. and W, R.R., or C.I.L. and C.?"

"I want a ticket for Chicago."

"I ask you whether you wish to go by the----"

Here he once more repeats various parts of the alphabet, casting a look
of pity at you the while. Do not believe he will translate his A B C D's
into English--it is your place to understand them.

Do not lose your temper, however; that never pays in America. The
natives would only enjoy it. Take the matter laughingly. This is the
advice the Americans gave me; and I recommend it to you, if ever you are
similarly placed.

I was having a siesta one day in one of the comfortable arm-chairs of a
drawing-room car, when the conductor came along and, giving me a
formidable thump, cried out in the most savage tone:

"Your ticket!"

I made haste to oblige him, and to offer apologies.

"I trust I have not kept you waiting," said I.

He went away quite crestfallen.

You see, in America, you must be polite to everyone, or you would
constantly be running the risk of treating with disrespect a future

Another day I was in a New York local train. These trains have not
drawing-room cars with smoking-rooms attached. Neither first, second,
nor third class: all the carriages are alike. I addressed the conductor,
asking him where I should find the smoking-compartment. In reply, he
murmured a few unintelligible words between his teeth. In my humblest,
sweetest accents, I said:

"Excuse me, I did not hear."

He shouted at me at the top of his voice:

"Be--hind--the--lo--co--mo--tive; do you hear this time?"

My first impulse was to knock him down. But I bethought myself of the
advice that had been given me, and answered, with a smile:

"Yes, I heard. I beg a thousand pardons. You are really too polite."

A popular American actress was dining one evening in the dining-room car
of a New York train. Being alone, she ate slowly, and deliberately
dawdled over the meal, to kill time. The waiter, displeased at the
audacity of such conduct, stood about within hearing, and began making
the rudest remarks on her proceedings.

When she had quite finished her dinner, and he came to remove the
dishes, the actress wrote a few words upon one of her cards and, handing
it to him with a sweet smile, she said:

"Here is my card; if you hand it in at the Opera House to-morrow
evening, you will be provided with a stall. I regret exceedingly that it
is not in my power to offer you a box--it is such a treat to meet with a
polite railway servant!"

I have met, occasionally, with a polite conductor, but they are in the
proportion of one to ten.

       *       *       *       *       *

The names of the stations are hidden. Do not hope that the conductor
will clear up the mystery.

The train had just stopped a few leagues from Richmond.

"What station is this?" asked a traveller, addressing the conductor.

This individual simply shrugged his shoulders and turned his back.

I happened to be close to him.

"What inquisitive people there are, to be sure!" I said to him.

To an irritable person, the rudeness of the railway and hotel servants
would be enough to spoil all the pleasure of a visit to America. But the
Americans themselves are good-tempered, and pay no attention to these
things. I know some who even get a certain amount of amusement

       *       *       *       *       *

The negro who makes your bed is more polite; but his politeness is not
disinterested. A few moments before the arrival of the train at your
destination, he brushes you down, and receives the invariable quarter
(25 cents) for his trouble. These negroes, independently of the salary
paid them by the company they work for, make from forty to fifty
shillings a day in this way: say, from five to six hundred pounds a

How many a white would turn black for less!

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another annoyance on the railway, a veritable bugbear that it
is hard to bear philosophically.

On board the train is an indefatigable general dealer, whose store is in
the last car.

Scarcely is the train in motion when he commences operations. He begins
by taking a bundle of newspapers, with which he goes his first round,
banging the doors after him. This done, he returns to his store, puts by
the papers he has not sold, takes a basket, fills it with apples,
oranges, and bananas, and starts again. Second banging of the doors at
either end of your car. He shouts "Apples, oranges, bananas!" as he
goes. You shake your head to let him know that you do not wish any of
his fruit, and he passes. Then he returns to his shop. You think you
would like a nap, and will proceed to have one. You are reckoning
without your host. He presently reappears with jujubes and cough
lozenges; then with travelling-caps; then with cigars and cigarettes.
After that, it is photographs. He plagues you to examine his albums, the
quality of which he vaunts with a zeal worthy of a better cause. You
send him about his business, but not for long. He soon comes round
again, bearing an armful of monthly magazines; and after that, with a
pile of novels. Whether you have your eyes closed or not, he lays one or
two on your lap, and rouses you to know if really you are not going to
buy anything of him. Your blood rises, you feel at last as if it would
be a relief to fling his merchandise at his head, or rather out of the
window, with him after it. But, "patience!" you say to yourself. "After
all, he must soon exhaust his stock-in-trade, and then I shall have
peace." Vain illusion! Five minutes later he begins his rounds again
with the apple and banana basket. This is too much, and you inwardly
send him to destruction, with his apples, jujubes, travelling-caps,
newspapers, books, and all his--stock-in-trade.

The Americans have the patience of angels. I have seen them, for five or
six hours, refuse with the politest sign of the head the different
articles of these ambulant bazaars. They seem to say: "That creature is
very annoying, a terrible nuisance; but I suppose we must all get a
living somehow."

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to Jacksonville from St. Augustine, I omitted to engage my
place in the parlour-car, and was obliged to find a seat in the ordinary
cars. The evil was not great, seeing that the journey takes but fifty

Besides the parlour-car, the train comprised three cars, two of which
were already almost full. I installed myself in the third, which was

Up comes the conductor.

"Come out; you can't travel in that car," he said.

"Why, pray?" I asked.

"Because it is the coloured people's car."

"And am I not as good as they?"

"I tell you you can't travel in this car."

"I am sorry, for once, that I am not coloured," I said to him; "it is
much the cleanest of your carriages."

Going to the end of the last carriage, I found myself just in front of
the apple, banana, jujubes, book, and cap store.

From my seat I was able to contemplate the activity of the commercial
gentleman at the head of this department.

During the fifty minutes' ride, he was going and coming continually.

When his last tour of the train had been made, he put all the
merchandise which he had not sold in place, took off his uniform, put on
a black coat and hat, and fastened into his cravat a huge _diamond_ pin.
I looked on at the rapid metamorphosis with great interest. When his
toilet was completed, he turned round and, seeing that I was looking at
him, he threw me a patronising glance, eyeing me from head to foot. I
thought he was about to say:

"What is it you want?"

"Well, business is looking up, eh?" I hazarded.

"Mind your own d---- business," he replied; and, turning on his heels,
he departed.


    _Jonathan's Domestics.--Reduced Duchesses.--Queer Ideas of
    Equality.--Unchivalrous Man.--The Ladies of the
    Feather-broom.--Mr. Vanderbilt's Cook.--Negroes.--Pompey's
    Wedding.--Where is my coat?--Kitchen Pianists.--"Punch's"
    Caricatures Outdone by Reality.--A Lady seeks a Situation as
    Dishwasher.--Why it is Desirable not to Part with your
    Servants on Bad Terms._

Jonathan's domestics all appear to me to be reduced duchesses and
noblemen in livery.

When you speak to a man-servant, before replying he scans you from head
to foot, and seems to say:

"Who may you be? Be careful how you talk to me! We are a free nation:
all equals here, and I am as good as you, sir!"

And you feel inclined to say to him:

"I congratulate you, young man, upon living in a free country; but since
we are all equals here, and I am civil to you, why on earth cannot you
be civil to me?"

The fellow is lacking in logic.

The manner of the maid-servant is different; she wears a look of
contempt and profound disgust: she seems to say with a sigh:

"How can men be such brutes as to allow women to work! What despicable
creatures they are, to be sure!"

She moves about the room frowning, and as she goes out, darts at you a
look full of vengeance. It is especially in the hotels of country towns
that you observe the traits above mentioned.

To get an idea of the prodigious labour undertaken by an American
servant-girl, one has but to see her at work _doing_ a room,
feather-broom in hand.

The coal most used in America is the anthracite kind; it has its good
qualities: it throws out great heat and burns for many hours; but it
makes a quantity of light ashes, which cover the furniture of a room
with a thick coating of dust every day.

Whenever I chanced to see the chambermaid in the morning shaking my
curtains, and making a cloud of dust, enough to prevent one from seeing
across the room, it was all I could do to refrain from calling out to
her, "My good girl, you are giving yourself a great deal of trouble for
nothing; don't meddle with the dust, it is better where it is." Thanks
to the feather-broom, my parlour was always done in a twinkling; but
before I dared go into it, I was obliged to wait until the dust had
returned to its place again.

A day or two after this remarkable manner of dusting had attracted my
attention, I came across the following in _Puck_:

Sarah is doing the drawing-room. Enters the mistress of the house,
evidently fearing to be choked by the cloud of dust that fills the

"Sarah, what are you doing?"

"I'm dusting the room."

"I see. When you've finished, please to undust it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Servants' wages range from £40 to £60 a year--I mean, of course, in good
ordinary houses, and not in millionaire's mansions. Mr. C. Vanderbilt
pays his chief cook two thousand pounds a year. I write the sum in
letters that the reader may not exclaim, "Surely there is an error here;
the printer has put one nought too many."

In spite of the enormously high wages they pay, the Americans have so
much trouble in getting good servants that numbers of them are, so to
speak, driven from their homes, and obliged to take refuge in hotels and

Negro servants are the only ones at all deferential in manner, or who
have a smile on their faces from time to time; but many people have an
objection to them, and charge them with serious faults, such as finding
things which are not lost, and breaking the monotony of life by dressing
up in their employers' raiment when occasion offers.

An American of my acquaintance, upon going to his room one evening to
dress for a dinner-party, found his dress-coat and waistcoat missing
from the wardrobe. Guessing their whereabouts, he went upstairs, and
there, in his negro-butler's room, were the missing garments. He rang
for the culprit.

"Pompey, I have found my dress-clothes in your room. What is the meaning
of it?"

"I forgot to put dem back, sah."

"You have had them on, you rascal?"

"Yes, sah."

"How dare you wear my clothes?"

"Please, massa, I got married yesterday," and the broad black face of
Pompey was lit up with a rather sheepish-looking grin.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the caricatures of the comic papers are outdone by realities in

These, for instance, are not caricatures, but facts:

Servant-maids will often refuse to enter your service if there is not a
piano in the basement.

Others will demand folding-beds. They will give you to understand that,
when they receive their "gentlemen" friends, it is not proper and
becoming to entertain them in a room where the bed on which they repose
their charms at night is spread out.

I know a lady who, losing her patience with her housemaid one day, said
to her:

"I expect my servants to do so and so."

"Your what?" cried the indignant damsel. "I'll just tell you what I
think of you. You ain't no lady, that's certain."

       *       *       *       *       *

Needless to say that American "helps" vie with their mistresses in
display of toilette. Everyone knows that. Their diamonds are false, of
course; but there are so many rhinestones worn by ladies who are not
"helps" (even to their husbands), that it is difficult to distinguish
the wife of a millionaire from her kitchenmaid by their diamonds.

Here are two advertisements which I extract from an Indianapolis

"Situation as dishwasher required by a lady.--Apply _Sentinel_ Office."

"A lady (white) undertakes washing at home."--(Address follows.)

Democracy can no further go.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I take care never to part on bad terms with my servants when they leave
me." This was said to me one day by a clever Boston lady, who, to my
thinking, lacks sufficient admiration for the democratic institutions of

I guessed that she intended a covert satire on the greatest Republic in
the world.

"Why?" I demanded.

"Because, when one of those girls leaves me, it is quite within the
range of possibility that she will marry some Western ranchman; and one
day, when her husband becomes a Senator, she may be useful to me at


    _Jonathan's Table.--Danger of Steel Knives.--The Americans are
    Water-drinkers.--I discover a Snake in my Tumbler.--The Negro
    Waiter Comforts Me.--Accommodation for Travellers.--The
    Menu.--Abbreviated Dinner.--The Little Oval Dishes.--Turkey
    and Cranberry Sauce.--A not very Tempting Dish.--Consolation
    of Knowing that the Waitresses are well cared for.--Something
    to Eat, for Heaven's Sake!--Humble Apologies to Mine Host._

The great mass of the American people live on tough meat uncooked, and
iced water unfiltered.

I take it for granted that sheep and cattle are born at as tender an age
in America as elsewhere; but the Society for the Protection of Animals
probably prevents their being killed for food while they are young
enough to enjoy life, and so the patriarchs alone are reserved for the

That which renders the problem of dining almost past solving is, that
the meat has to be attacked with plated knives, which tear but do not
cut it. I suppose that, as half the lower-class Americans still eat with
their knives, it was necessary to abandon the idea of having steel
knives, for fear of their accidentally gashing their faces. If sharp
steel knives were in general use in America, the streets would be full
of people with faces scarred and seamed like those of the Heidelberg

The Americans drink little else but water at table, and one cannot help
wondering how it is that the filter seems to be an almost unknown
institution in the land. Leave your glass of water untouched on the
table, and, in a few moments, a thick sediment of mud or sand will be
visible at the bottom of it.

Down south it is worse still.

At Jacksonville, I was waited upon at table by an extremely obliging

One day he brought me some water, put ice in it, and discreetly withdrew
behind my chair.

I took up the glass, and minutely inspected its contents.

"Epaminondas!" said I.

"Dat's not my name, sah; I'm called Charles."

"Charles, look at this water; there is a snake in it."

Charles took the glass, looked at it, and then, with a reasurring grin,

"It's dead, sah."

"That is comforting," said I; "but it may have left eggs, which will
come to life by thousands inside me."

Charles was facetious, and was not to be put out of countenance for such
a trifle. He took up the glass again, re-examined it, and replaced it on
the table.

"Dere's no danger, sah; it's a male," he said.

In almost all hotels throughout the south, the waiters are coloured men.
The service is but poor. The negroes are slow: it is the guests who do
the "waiting."

       *       *       *       *       *

At Delmonico's especially, and in the principal hotels of New York,
Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and Chicago, you can dine admirably.
In the smaller towns you feed.

But let us take our seats at the _table d'hôte_ of the best hotel in any
second-rate town that you please in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or some other
State of the Union.

No printed _menu_. A young woman, with an elaborate coiffure of curls,
rolls, and bangs, but no cap, approaches, darts a look of contempt at
you, and, turning her back upon you, gabbles off in one breath:


Do not attempt to stop her; she is wound up, and when she is started is
bound to go to the end. You must not hope that she will repeat the
_menu_ a second time, either. If you did not hear, so much the worse for
you. Unfortunately, the consequences are grave: it is not one dish that
you miss, it is the whole dinner. You are obliged to order all your
repast at once; and the whole is brought you, from soup to cheese, at
one time.

I was so ill-inspired one day as to order some soup to begin with. The
waitress refused downright to bring me anything more.

"That is all you ordered," she said to me; "you do not suppose I can
make twenty journeys to the kitchen for you."

I rose and sought the hotel-keeper. I made the humblest apologies;
pleaded that I was a foreigner who had only been in America a fortnight,
and was not yet accustomed to the habits of the Americans. I promised
solemnly never to transgress again in this way. Mine host went to the
young person who was at the head of the battalion of harpies in the
dining-room, and interceded for me with her. I had the happiness of
being forgiven, and was allowed to appease my hunger.

From that day forward, as soon as one of these witching damsels began
her incantation, I cried out:

"Hold! Enough! Bring it all in."

Then I would eat the least distasteful of the messes, and leave the
rest. I can assure you the hotel did not make much profit out of me.

This is how the dinner is served:

The "duchess" begins by flinging a spoon and knife and fork down on the
table in front of you. It is for you to set them straight, and I would
advise you to do so without any murmuring. When you have taken your
soup, the said "duchess" brings you a plate, around which she places a
dozen little oval dishes in a symmetrical fashion that one can but

The first little dish contains fish, and a teaspoonful of sauce of some
kind. It is needless to inquire the name of this sauce. All the fish
sauces are the same; only the name varies. The second apparently
contains a little lump of raw beef; the third, a slice of roast turkey;
the fourth, mashed potatoes; the fifth, a stewed tomato; the sixth,
cranberry sauce; the seventh, chicken salad; the eighth, some
rice-pudding; and the last contains (_horrible dictu!_) a slice of
apple-tart, with a large helping of cheese in the middle of it. These
two things are eaten together, and are consequently served on the same

You begin at the left. The fish presents no obstacle but its bones, and
is soon disposed of. You turn your attention to the next dish on the
right, and attack the beef. It is impregnable; you can make no
impression upon it. You pass. The turkey is not obdurate, and you fall
to on that, making little raids on the potatoes, tomatoes, and cranberry
sauce between each mouthful. Thanks to the many climates of America (the
thermometer varies in winter from 75 above zero in the south to 45 below
in the north), you have turkey and cranberry sauce all the winter,
strawberries six months of the year, and tomatoes almost all the year

Oh, the turkey and cranberry sauce! I ate enough of that dish to satisfy
me for the rest of my days. No more turkey with cranberry sauce for me,
though I should live to be a hundred!

Of course, all the meats placed around your plate soon begin to cool,
and you have no choice but to bolt your food, diving with knife and fork
into the little dishes right and left as dexterously as you can.

Finally you come to the apple-tart, on the extreme right. You carefully
lift the cheese, and, placing it aside, prepare to eat your sweets
without the strange seasoning. Unhappily, the pastry has become
impregnated with an odour of roquefort, and again you pass. A vanilla
ice terminates your repast.

Having disposed of this, you ask yourself why, in a free country, you
may not have your various courses served one after the other; why you
must bolt your food, and bring on indigestion; and, above all, why the
manager of the hotel, in his own interest as a man of business, does
not, before all else, study the comfort of his customers. The answer is
not difficult to find. It is the well-being of the "duchesses," and not
that of the traveller, that he devotes his attention to studying. The
traveller is obliged to come to his house, and he can treat him anyhow.
His "helps" will only consent to stay with him on condition he gives
them heavy wages and light duties. He has no choice but to submit to his
servants, or to close his hotel. The Americans, free though they may be
politically, are at the mercy of their servants, whether in public or
private life. This kind of tyranny is hateful. To throw off the yoke of
the superior classes is very well; but I am not aware that the yoke of
the common people is at all preferable. John Bull commands all his paid
servants; Jonathan obeys his.

Thus in the hotels of America, outside of the large towns, with the
rarest exceptions, the dinner is served from one o'clock to three, the
tea-supper from six to eight. You happen to arrive at half-past three,
tired out and famishing. You hope to be able to have a good meal without
delay. Illusion! You must wait until the dining-room door is opened, and
pass two hours and a half in wretchedness. How often have I entreated,
implored, "Could you not get a chop cooked for me, or an omelette, or
something? If that is impossible, for mercy's sake give me a slice of
cold meat." Prayers and supplications were unavailing. Occasionally a
landlord would express his regrets, and make excuses for his inability
to oblige me; but far oftener, I got no kind of response at all. Once or
twice I tried making a tempest, without any more success. Another time I
tried politeness. "Excuse me," I said, "if I am intruding. I hope that
by putting up at your house I shall not be too much in your way. I have
not the honour to be a citizen of the greatest Republic in the world,
but am only a poor European who does not know your ways. In future I
will take careful precautions. But this time, and just for once, I would
be so much obliged for something to eat. I should be distressed to
occasion any derangement in your household; but just for once--only
once." Sheer waste of breath. The hotel is as it is; you may use it or
stay away.

The Americans are quite right to study the comfort of their servants;
but the well-being of one class should not exist at the cost of the
well-being of another, and the people who travel are as interesting as
those who serve at table.

Tyranny from above is a sore; tyranny from below is a pestilence.


    _How the Americans take their Holidays.--The Hotel is their
    Mecca.--Mammoth Hotels.--Jacksonville and St. Augustine.--The
    Ponce de Leon Hotel.--Rocking-chairs.--Having a "Good
    Time!"--The American is never Bored.--The Food is not very
    Salt, but the Bill is very Stiff.--The Negroes of the
    South.--Prodigious Memories.--More "Duchesses."--The
    Negresses.--I Insult a Woman._

Hotels are one of the strongest attractions in America to the Americans,
especially the ladies.

When we Europeans travel, we alight at a hotel because it is impossible
that we should have a pitching place of our own in each town we visit,
or friends able to receive us; in other words, we go to the hotel
because we cannot help it. When we leave our good bed and table, and set
out to see the world a little, we say to ourselves: "The worst part of
it is, that we shall have to live in hotels perhaps for a month or two;
but, after all, it cannot be helped; we must put up with hotels, since
we have made up our minds to see Switzerland, or Scotland, or Italy."

Our object in travelling is to see new countries, make pleasant
excursions, climb mountains, &c.; and to attain that object, we must use
the hotels as a convenience, as a sad necessity.

In Europe, the hotel is a means to an end.

In America, it is the end.

People travel hundreds, nay, thousands of miles for the pleasure of
putting up at certain hotels. Listen to their conversation, and you will
find it mainly turns, not upon the fine views they have discovered, or
the excursions and walks they have enjoyed, but upon the respective
merits of the various hotels they have put up at. Hotels are for them
what cathedrals, monuments, ruins, and the beauties of Nature are for

In February, 1888, I went to see the Americans taking their pleasure in
Florida. During the months of January, February, and March, flocks of
society people from the great towns in the north go to Florida, where
the sun is warm, and the orange trees are in full beauty of fruit and
flower. Jacksonville and St. Augustine are in winter what Saratoga,
Newport, and Long Branch are in summer: the rendezvous of all who have
any pretension to a place in the fashionable world.

But what do they do at Jacksonville and St. Augustine, all these
Americans in search of a "good time"? You think perhaps that in the
morning they set out in great numbers to make long excursions into the
country or on the water; that picnics, riding parties, and such
out-of-door pastimes are organised.

Not so. They get up, breakfast, and make for the balconies or terraces
of the hotels, there to rock themselves two or three hours in
rocking-chairs until lunch time; after this they return to their
rocking-chairs again and wait for dinner. Dinner over, they go to the
drawing-rooms, where there are more rocking-chairs, and listen to an
orchestra until bedtime. And yet, what pretty environs the little town
of Jacksonville has, for instance! For miles around stretches a
villa-dotted orange grove!

       *       *       *       *       *

And the _table d'hôte_!

Oh! that _table d'hôte_!

In France, we look well at the bill of fare and study it; we discuss the
dishes, arranging them discreetly and artistically in the mind before
making their acquaintance more fully on the palate. We are _gourmets_.
In America, the question seems to be not, "Which of these dishes will go
well together?" but, "How many of them can I manage?" It is so much a
day; the moderate eaters pay for the gluttons.

       *       *       *       *       *

You see women come down at eight to breakfast in silk attire, and decked
with diamonds. And what a breakfast! First an orange and a banana to
freshen the mouth and whet the appetite; then fish, bacon and eggs, or
omelette, beefsteak and fried potatoes, hominy cakes, and preserves.

"How little you eat, you Frenchpeople!" said an American to me one day,
as I was ordering my breakfast of _café au lait_ and bread and butter.

"You are mistaken," said I; "only we do not care for our dinner at eight
o'clock in the morning."

The larger the hotel is, the better the Americans like it. A little,
quiet, well-kept hotel where, the cookery being done for twenty or
thirty persons instead of a thousand, the beef has not the same taste as
mutton; a hotel where you are known and called by your name, where you
are not simply No. 578, like a convict;--this kind of pitching place
does not attract the American, He must have something large, enormous,
immense. He is inclined to judge everything by its size.

Jacksonville and St. Augustine boast a score of hotels, each capable of
accommodating from six hundred to a thousand guests. These hotels are
all full from the beginning of January to the end of March.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have almost always accepted with reserve the American superlatives
followed by the traditional _in the world_; but it may safely be said
that the Ponce de Leon Hotel, at St. Augustine, is not only the largest
and handsomest hotel in America, but in the whole world. Standing in the
prettiest part of the picturesque little town, this Moorish palace, with
its walls of onyx, its vast, artistically-furnished saloons, its
orange-walks, fountains, cloisters, and towers, is a revelation, a scene
from the _Arabian Nights_.

Here the Americans congregate in search of a "good time," as they call
it. The charges range from ten to twenty-five dollars a day for each
person, exclusive of wines and extras. The American who goes to the
Ponce de Leon with his wife and daughters, therefore spends twelve,
fifteen, or twenty pounds a day. For this sum, he and his family are
fed, played to by a very ordinary band, and supplied with an immense
choice of rocking-chairs. On his return to New York, he declares to his
friends that he has had a "lovely time." The American never admits that
he has been bored, in America especially. The smallest incidents of the
trip are events and adventures, and he never fails to have his "good
time." He is as easily pleased as a child, and everything American calls
out his admiration, or at least his interest. Remark to him, for
instance, that to go by train to Florida from the north, one has to
travel through more than six hundred miles of pine-forest--which makes
the journey very uninteresting--and he will throw you a pitying glance
which seems to say "Immense, sir, immense, like everything that is

The temperature of Florida in winter is rarely lower than 64 degrees,
and ranges from that to 75; but the climate is moist and enervating, the
country a vast marsh, and so flat that, by standing on a chair, one
could see to the extremities of it with the aid of a good field glass.
Some enterprising American should throw up a hill down there: he would
make his fortune. Everyone would go to see it.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not everybody who can afford the luxury of the Ponce de Leon
Hotel, but it is everybody who likes to be seen there in the season.

You must be able to say, when you return to the north, that you have
been at the Ponce de Leon. This is how it can be managed. You go to some
other hotel near the Ponce. In the evening, dressed in all your
diamonds, you glide into the courtyard of the great caravansery. Another
step takes you to the immense rotunda where the concert is going on. You
stroll through the saloons and corridors, and, taking a seat where you
can be seen of the multitude, you listen to the music. About ten or
eleven o'clock, you beat a retreat and return to your own hotel.

Wishing to set my mind at rest on this matter, I went one evening about
half-past nine to the Casa Monica and Florida House. There, in the rooms
where the musicians engaged by the proprietors play every evening, were,
at the most, a score of people.

       *       *       *       *       *

Heard at the St. Augustine station as I was leaving:

"Hello! you are off too?" said a young man to a friend who had just
installed his wife in the train for Jacksonville.

"My dear fellow, I have been here a fortnight; the Ponce de Leon is
magnificent, but the bill is ruinous."

"Never mind, old man; take it off your wife's next dress-money."

Everything is on a grand scale in American hotels, especially the

With few exceptions, the waiters in all the great hotels are negroes.
You are served with intelligence and politeness. No "duchesses" in the
great cities of the north, or the fashionable resorts of the south.

Those good negroes have such cheerful, open faces! They seem so glad to
be alive, and they look so good-natured, that it does one good to see
them. When they look at one another, they laugh. When you look at them,
they laugh. If a negro sees another negro blacker than himself, he is
delighted; he calls him "darky," and looks on him in a patronising way.
Their great dark eyes that show the whites so, when they roll them in
their own droll fashion; the two rows of white teeth, constantly on
view, framed in thick _retroussé_ lips; the swaying manner of walking,
with turned-out toes and head thrown back; the musical voice, sweet but
sonorous, and so pleasing compared to the horrible twang of the
lower-class people of the north,--all make up a picturesque whole: you
forget the colour, and fall to admiring them.

And how amusing they are!

At the Everett Hotel, Jacksonville, I one day went to the wrong table.

"You've come to de wrong table, sah," said the attendant darky. Then,
indicating the negro who served at the next table, he added, "Dat's de
gentleman dat waits on you, sah."

I immediately recognised my "gentleman," and changed my seat. The fact
is that all the negroes are alike at a glance. It requires as much
perspicacity to tell one from another, as it does to distinguish one
French gendarme from another French gendarme.

I never met with such memories as some of those darkies have.

As I have said, the hotels of Florida are besieged during the winter
months. At dinner time, you may see from six hundred to a thousand
people at table. The black head-waiter knows each of the guests. The
second time they enter the dining-room, he conducts them to their places
without making a mistake in one instance. If you stop but a day, you may
return a month after, and not only will he recollect your face, but he
will be able to tell you which little table you sat at, and which place
at that table was yours.

At the door of the dining-room, a young negro of sixteen or eighteen
takes your hat and puts it on a hat-rack. I have seen hundreds thus in
his care at a time. You leave the dining-room, and, without a moment's
hesitation, he singles out your hat and hands it to you. It is wonderful
when one thinks of it. I give you the problem to solve. Several hundred
men, most of whom you have not seen more than once or twice before, pass
into a room, handing you their chimney-pots or wide-awakes to take care
of. They come out of the room in no sort of order, and you have to give
each the hat that belongs to him. I have tried hard and often, but never
succeeded in finding out how it is done.

Another negro in the hall goes and gets your key when he sees you
return from a walk. No need to tell him the number of your room--he
knows it. He may have seen you but once before, but that is
all-sufficient--he never errs.

       *       *       *       *       *

And the negresses! good, merry-looking creatures, with buxom faces and
forms, supple, light, graceful gait, and slender waists, aping the
fashion, and having very pretty fashions of their own, coquetting and
mincing as they walk out with their "tic'lars" (particulars). The
enjoyment of life is written on their faces, and one ends by thinking
some of them quite pretty. I have seen some splendid figures amongst
them. You should see them on Sundays, dressed in scarlet or some other
bright colour, with great hats jauntily turned up on one side, and
fanning themselves with the ease and grace of Belgravian ladies.

Negresses are not employed as chambermaids in hotels. They go into
service only as nurses, and of course children love them. Unhappily for
you, it is the objectionable "duchesses" that you find again, upstairs
this time. The evil is not so great as it is in the smaller towns, where
these young persons wait at table also. In the best hotels, their only
duty is to keep the bedrooms tidy. You must not ask any service of them
beyond that. If you desire anything brought to your bedroom, you ring,
and a negro comes to answer the bell and receive your order.

I remember having one day insulted one of these women--certainly
unintentionally, but the crime was none the less abominable for that.

This was it.

I was dressing to go out to dinner, and wanted some hot water to shave
with. Having rung three times and received no answer, I grew impatient
and opened the door, in the hope of seeing some servant who would be
obliging enough to fetch me the water in question. A chambermaid was
passing my door.

"Could you, please, get me some hot water?" I said.

"What do you say?" was the reply, accompanied by a frown of contempt.

"Would you be so good as to get me some hot water?" I timidly repeated.

"Who do you think I am? Haven't you a bell in your room?" replied the

And she passed along, indignant.

I withdrew into my room in fear and trembling, and for a few minutes was
half afraid of receiving a request to quit the hotel immediately.

I shaved with cold water that day.


    _The Value of the Dollar.--A Dressmaker's Bill.--What American
    Women must Spend on Dress.--Why so many Americans come to
    Europe every year.--Current Prices.--The Beggar and the
    Nickel.--Books and Oysters are Cheap.--Salaries.--"I can
    afford it."_

If you go to a changer, he will give you five francs in French money, or
four shillings in English, for a dollar. But in America you are not long
in discovering that you get for your dollar but the worth of a shilling
in English money, or a franc in French.

The flat that lets for 4000 francs in Paris, and the house that is
rented at £200 (4000 shillings) in London, would be charged 4000 dollars
in New York, Boston, or Chicago.

The simplest kind of dress, one for which a Parisian of modest tastes
pays 100 francs, would cost an American lady at least 100 dollars. A
visiting dress costing, in Paris, 500 francs, in New York, would be 500
dollars. A hat that would be charged 50 francs is worth 50 dollars. The
rest to match.

Here is a dressmaker's bill which fell under my eyes in New York. Divide
each amount by five, and you have the sum in pounds sterling.

  Robe de chambre       200 dollars
  Cloth dress           175    "
  Opera Cloak           500    "
  Riding habit          180    "
  Bonnet                 30    "
  Theatre bonnet         50    "
  Black silk dress      240    "
  Ball dress            650    "

Added up, this makes 2025 dollars, in English money a total of £405. In
this bill there is neither mantle, linen, shoes, gloves, lace, nor the
thousand little requisites of a woman's toilette, and it is but one out
of the three or four bills for the year.

I am convinced that an American woman who pretends to the least elegance
must spend, if she be a good manager, from £1000 to £1500 a year. Add to
this the fact that she loads herself with diamonds and precious stones.
But these, of course, have not to be renewed every three months.

A great number of Americans come to Europe to pass three months of every
year. This is not an additional extravagance, it is an economy. They buy
their dress for a year, and the money they save by this plan not only
pays their travelling expenses, but leaves them a nice little surplus in

       *       *       *       *       *

A hotel bedroom on the fourth floor, for which you would pay five francs
a-day in Paris, in New York is five dollars. A cab which costs you one
franc and a half in France, or one shilling and sixpence in England,
costs you a dollar and a half in New York.

The dollar has not more value than this in the lesser towns of the
United States. The omnibus, for instance, which takes you to the station
from your hotel for sixpence in England, or half a franc in France,
costs you half a dollar in America.

Copper money exists in America; but if you were to offer a cent to a
beggar, he would fling it at you--fortunately there are very few. When
the barefooted urchins in the South beg, their formula is: "Spare us a
nickel," or "Chuck us a nickel, guv'nor." The nickel is worth five
cents, or twopence-halfpenny English money. The only use of the cent
that I could discover was to buy the evening paper.

The only things cheap in the States are native oysters, and English or
French books that have been translated (?) into American.

       *       *       *       *       *

If expenses are enormous in the United States, I must hasten to add that
it is chiefly the foreign visitor who suffers in purse. The American can
afford to pay high prices, because his receipts are far larger than they
would be in Europe. Situations bringing in forty or fifty pounds are
unknown in America. Bank clerks and shopmen command salaries of from
£200 to £400 a year. A railway-car conductor gets £160 as wages.

In the grades above, in the professions, the fees, compared with those
earned in Europe, are also in the proportion of the dollar to the
shilling or franc. A newspaper article, which would be paid in France
250 francs (and no French paper, except the _Figaro_, pays so much for
an article) is often paid 250 dollars in America. A doctor is paid from
five to ten dollars a visit. I am, of course, not speaking of
specialists and fashionable doctors; their charges are fabulous. I know
barristers who make from twenty to thirty and forty thousand pounds.

Everyone is well paid in the United States, except the Vice-President.

If I have spoken of the high cost of living, it is to state a fact, and
not to make a complaint. I went to America as a lecturer, not as a
tourist. Jonathan paid me well; and when Cabby asked me for a dollar and
a half to take me to a lecture-hall, I said, like M. Joseph Prudhomme,
"It is expensive, but I can afford it," and I paid without grumbling.


    _Conclusion.--Reply to the American Question.--Social
    Condition of Europe and America.--European Debt and American
    Surplus.--The Americans are not so Happy as the French.--What
    Jonathan has Accomplished.--A Wish._

"Well, sir, and what do you think of America?"

Without pretending to judge America _ex cathedra_, I will sum up the
impressions jotted down in this little volume, and reply to the
traditional question of the Americans.

When one thinks of what the Americans have done in a hundred years of
independent life, it looks as if nothing should be impossible to them in
the future, considering the inexhaustible resources at their

America has been doubling its population every twenty-five years. If
emigration continues at the same rate as it has hitherto, in fifty years
she will have more than two hundred millions of inhabitants. If, during
that time, continental Europe makes progress only in arts and sciences,
while the social condition of its nations does not improve, she will be
to America what barbarism is to civilisation.

While the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, and the _Firebrandenburgs_
review their troops; while her standing armies cost Europe more than
£200,000,000 a year in peace time; whilst the European debt is
£5,000,000,000, the American treasury at Washington, in spite of
corruption, which it is well known does exist, has a surplus of sixty
million dollars. Whilst European Governments cudgel their wits to devise
means for meeting the expenses of absolute Monarchies, the Washington
Government is at a loss to know what to do with the money it has in
hand. Whilst the European telegrams in the daily papers give accounts of
reviews, mobilisations, and military manoeuvres; of speeches in which
the people are reminded that their duty is to serve their Emperor first,
and their country afterwards; of blasphemous prayers in which God is
asked to bless soldiers, swords, and gunpowder; the American telegrams
announce the price of wheat and cattle and the quotations on the
American Stock Exchange.

Happy country that can get into a state of ebullition over a
Presidential Election, or the doings of John Sullivan while Europe in
trembling asks herself, with the return of each new spring, whether two
or three millions of her sons will not be called upon to cut each
other's throats, for the great glory of three Emperors in search of a
little excitement!

America is not only a great nation, geographically speaking. The
Americans are a great people, holding in their hands their own destiny;
learning day by day, with the help of their liberty, to govern
themselves more and more wisely; and able, thanks to the profound
security in which they live, to consecrate all their talents and all
their energy to the arts of peace.

The well-read, well-bred American is the most delightful of men; good
society in America is the wittiest, most genial, and most hospitable I
have met with.

But the more I travel, and the more I look at other nations, the more
confirmed am I in my opinion that the French are the happiest people on

The American is certainly on the road to the possession of all that can
contribute to the well-being and success of a nation; but he seems to me
to have missed the path that leads to real happiness. His domestic joys,
I am inclined to think, are more shadowy than real. To live in a whirl
is not to live well.

America suffers from a general plethora.

Jonathan himself sometimes has his regrets at finding himself drawn into
such a frantic race, but declares that it is out of his power to hang
back. If it were given to man to live twice on this planet, I should
understand his living his first term _à l'Américaine_, so as to be able
to enjoy quietly, in his second existence, the fruits of his toil in the
first. Seeing that only one sojourn here is permitted us, I think the
French are right in their study to make it a long and happy one.

If the French could arrive at a steady form of government and live in
security, they would be the most enviably happy people on earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is often charged against Americans that they are given to bragging.
May not men who have done marvels be permitted a certain amount of

It is said, too, that their eccentricity constantly leads them into
folly and licence. Is it not better to have the liberty to err than to
be obliged to run straight in leash? If they occasionally vote like
children, like children they will learn. It is by voting that people
learn to vote.

Is there any country of Europe in which morals are better regulated,
work better paid, or education widerspread? Is there a country in Europe
where you can find such natural riches, and such energy to employ them;
so many people with a consciousness of their own intellectual and moral
force; so many free schools where the child of the millionaire and the
child of the poor man study side by side; so many free libraries where
the boy in rags may enter and read the history of his country, and be
fired with the exploits of its heroes? Can you name a country with so
many learned societies, so many newspapers, so many charitable
institutions, or so much widespread comfort?

M. Renan, one day wishing to turn himself into a prophet of ill omen,
predicted that, if France continued Republican, she would become a
second America.

May nothing worse befall her!

                                THE END.


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