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Title: People of Destiny - Americans as I saw them at Home and Abroad
Author: Gibbs, Philip, 1877-1962
Language: English
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PEOPLE OF DESTINY

       *       *       *       *       *

_Americans as I Saw Them
At Home and Abroad_



[Illustration: PHILIP GIBBS]



PEOPLE OF DESTINY

_Americans as I saw them
at Home and Abroad_


_by_
PHILIP GIBBS

_Author of_
"NOW IT CAN BE TOLD"


[Illustration]


HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON



Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                             PAGE
    I. THE ADVENTURE OF LIFE IN NEW YORK                               1
   II. SOME PEOPLE I MET IN AMERICA                                   35
  III. THINGS I LIKE IN THE UNITED STATES                             68
   IV. AMERICA'S NEW PLACE IN THE WORLD                               98
    V. WHAT ENGLAND THINKS OF AMERICA                                125
   VI. AMERICANS IN EUROPE                                           160



ILLUSTRATIONS


  PHILIP GIBBS                                            _Frontispiece_
  A RELIEF FROM BOREDOM AFTER OFFICE HOURS                _Facing p._ 42
  THE SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE OF AN AMERICAN POST-OFFICE                    72
  I LIKED THE GREETING OF THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR                         96



PEOPLE OF DESTINY



I

THE ADVENTURE OF LIFE IN NEW YORK


I had the luck to go to New York for the first time when the ordinary
life of that City of Adventure--always so vital and dynamic in
activity--was intensified by the emotion of historic days. The war was
over, and the warriors were coming home with the triumph of victory as
the reward of courage; but peace was still delayed and there had not yet
crept over the spirits of the people the staleness and disillusionment
that always follow the ending of war, when men say: "What was the use of
it, after all? Where are gratitude and justice? Who pays me for the loss
of my leg?"... The emotion of New York life was visible in its streets.
The city itself, monstrous, yet dreamlike and mystical as one sees it
first rising to fantastic shapes through the haze of dawn above the
waters of the Hudson, seemed to be excited by its own historical
significance. There was a vibration about it as sunlight splashed its
gold upon the topmost stories of the skyscrapers and sparkled in the
thousand windows of the Woolworth Tower and flung black bars of shadow
across the lower blocks. Banners were flying everywhere in the streets
that go straight and long between those perpendicular cliffs of masonry,
and the wind that comes blowing up the two rivers ruffled them. They
were banners of rejoicing, but reminders also of the service and
sacrifice of each house from which they were hanging, with golden stars
of death above the heads of the living crowds surging there below them.
In those decorations of New York I saw the imagination of a people
conscious of their own power, and with a dramatic instinct able to
impress the multitudes with the glory and splendor of their achievement.
It was the same sense of drama that is revealed commercially in the
genius of advertisement which startled me when I first walked down
Broadway, dazzled by moving pictures of light, by flashing signs that
shouted to me from high heaven to buy chewing-gum and to go on chewing;
and squirming, wriggling, revolving snakes of changing color that
burned letters of fire into my brain, so that even now in remembrance my
eyes are scorched with the imprint of a monstrous kitten unrolling an
endless reel of cotton. The "Welcome Home" of American troops was an
advertisement of American manhood, idealized by emotion; and it was
designed, surely, by an artist whose imagination had been touched by the
audacity of the master-builders of New York who climb to the sky with
their houses. I think it was inspired also by the vision of the
moving-picture kings who resurrect the gorgeous life of Babylon, and
re-establish the court of Cleopatra, for Theda Bara, the "Movie Queen."
When the men of the Twenty-seventh Division of New York came marching
home down Fifth Avenue they passed through triumphal arches of white
plaster that seemed solid enough to last for centuries, though they had
grown high, like Jack's beanstalk, in a single night; and the troops
glanced sideways at a vast display of Indian trophies with tattered
colors like those of sunburnt wigwams where the spears of the "braves"
were piled above the shields of fallen warriors.

"Like an undergraduate's cozy corner," said an unkind wit, and New York
laughed, but liked the symbolism of those shields and went on with
astonished eyes to gaze at the masterpiece of Chalfin, the designer of
it all, which was a necklace like a net of precious jewels, suspended,
between two white pillars surmounted by stars, across the Avenue. At
night strong searchlights played upon this necklace, and at the end of
those bars of white radiance, shot through the darkness, the hanging
jewels swayed and glittered with a thousand delicate colors like
diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Night after night, as I drove
down Fifth Avenue, I turned in the car to look back at the astonishing
picture of that triumphal archway, and saw how the long tide of cars
behind was caught by the searchlights so that all their metal was like
burnished gold and silver; and how the faces of dense crowds staring up
at the suspended necklace were all white--dead-white as Pierrot's; and
how the sky above New York and the tall clifflike masses of masonry on
each side of Fifth Avenue were fingered by the outer radiance of the
brightness that was blinding in the heart of the city. To me, a stranger
in New York, unused to the height of its buildings and to the rush of
traffic in its streets, these illuminations of victory were the crowning
touch of fantasy, and I seemed to be in a dream of some City of the
Future, among people of a new civilization, strange and wonderful. The
soldiers of the Twenty-seventh Division were not overcome by emotion at
this display in their honor. "That's all right," they said, grinning at
the cheering crowds, "and when do we eat?" Those words reminded me of
Tommy Atkins, who would go through the hanging-gardens of Babylon
itself--if the time-machine were switched back--with the same shrewd
humor.

The adventure of life in New York, always startling and exciting, I am
certain, to a man or woman who enters its swirl as a stranger, was more
stirring at the time of my first visit because of this eddying influence
of war's back-wash. The city was overcrowded with visitors from all
parts of the United States who had come in to meet their home-coming
soldiers, and having met them stayed awhile to give these boys a good
time after their exile. This floating population of New York flowed into
all the hotels and restaurants and theaters. Two new hotels--the
Commodore and the Pennsylvania--were opened just before I came, and,
with two thousand bedrooms each, had no room to spare, and did not
reduce the population of the Plaza, Vanderbilt, Manhattan, Biltmore, or
Ritz-Carlton. I watched the social life in those palaces and found it
more entertaining than the most sensational "movie" with a continuous
performance. The architects of those American hotels have vied with one
another in creating an atmosphere of richness and luxury. They have been
prodigal in the use of marble pillars and balustrades, more magnificent
than Roman. They have gone to the extreme limit of taste in gilding the
paneled walls and ceilings from which they have suspended enormous
candelabra like those in the palace of Versailles. I lost myself in the
vastness of tea-rooms and lounges, and when invited to a banquet found
it necessary to bring my ticket, because often there are a dozen
banquets in progress in one hotel, and there is a banqueting-room on
every floor. When I passed up in the elevator of one hotel I saw the
different crowds in the corridors surging toward those great lighted
rooms where the tables were spread with flowers, and from which came
gusts of "jazz" music or the opening bars of "The Star-spangled
Banner."

In all the dining-rooms there rises the gusty noise of many
conversations above the music of an orchestra determined to be heard,
and between the bars of a Leslie Stuart waltz, or on the last beat of
the "Humoreske," a colored waiter says, "Chicken okra, sah?" or "Clam
chowder?" and one hears the laughing words of a girl who asks, "Do you
mind if I powder my nose?" and does so with a glance at a little gold
mirror and a dab from a little gold box. The vastness, and the
overwhelming luxury, of the New York hotels was my first and strongest
impression in this city, after I had recovered from the sensation of the
high fantastic buildings; but it occurred to me very quickly that this
luxury of architecture and decoration has no close reference to the life
of the people. They are only visitors in _la vie de luxe_--and do not
belong to it, and do not let it enter into their souls or bodies. In a
wealthier, more expansive way, they are like the city clerks and their
girls in London who pay eighteenpence for a meal in marble halls at
Lyon's Popular Café and sit around a gilded menu-card, saying, "Isn't it
wonderful ... and shall we go home by tram?" There are many rich people
in New York--more, I suppose, than in any other city of the world--but,
apart from cosmopolitan men and women who have luxury beneath their
skins, there is no innate sense of it in the social life of these
people. In the hotel palaces, as well as in the private mansions along
Fifth Avenue and Riverside Drive, all their outward splendor does not
alter the simplicity and honesty of their character. They remain
essentially "middle-class" and have none of the easy licentiousness of
that European aristocracy which, before the war, flaunted its wealth and
its vice in Paris, Vienna, Monte Carlo, and other haunts where the
cocottes of the world assembled to barter their beauty, and where idle
men went from boredom to boredom in search of subtle forms of pleasure.
American women of wealth spend vast sums of money on dress, and there is
the glitter of diamonds at many dinner-tables, but most of them have too
much shrewdness of humor to play the "vamp," and the social code to
which they belong is swept clean by common sense. "My dear," said an
American hostess who belongs to one of the old rich families of New
York, "forgive me for wearing my diamonds to-night. It must shock you,
coming from scenes of ruin and desolation." This dowager duchess of New
York, as I like to think of her, wore her diamonds as the mayor of a
provincial town in England wears his chain of office, but as she sat at
the head of her table in one of the big mansions of New York I saw that
wealth had not cumbered the soul of this masterful lady, whose views on
life are as direct and simple as those of Abraham Lincoln. She was the
middle-class housewife in spite of the footmen who stood in fear of her.

Essentially middle-class in the best sense of the word were the crowds I
met in the hotels. The men were making money--lots of it--by hard work.
They had taken a few days off, or left business early, to meet their
soldier-sons in these gilded halls where they had a sense of
satisfaction in spending large numbers of dollars in a short time.

"This is my boy from 'over there'! Just come back."

I heard that introduction many times, and saw the look of pride behind
the glasses that were worn by a gray-eyed man, who had his hand on the
arm of an upstanding fellow in field uniform, tall and lean and hard.
"It's good to be back," said one of these young officers, and as he sat
at table he looked round the huge _salon_ with its cut-glass candelabra,
where scores of little dinner-parties were in progress to the strident
music of a stringed band, and then, with a queer little smile about his
lips, as though thinking of the contrast between this scene and "over
there," said, "Darned good!" In their evening frocks the women were
elegant--they know how to dress at night--and now and then the fresh,
frank beauty of one of these American girls startled my eyes by its
witchery of youth and health. Some of them are _décolleté_ to the
ultimate limit of a milliner's audacity, and foolishly I suffered from a
sense of confusion sometimes because of the physical revelations of
elderly ladies whose virtue, I am sure, is as that of Cæsar's wife. The
frail queens of beauty in the lotus-garden of life's enchanted places
would envy some of the frocks that come out of Fifth Avenue, and scream
with horror at their prices. But although the American woman with a
wealthy husband likes to put on the flimsy robes of Circe, it is only as
she would go to a fancy-dress ball in a frock that would make her
brother say: "Gee!... And where did you get that bit of fluff?" She is
Circe, with the Suffrage, and high ideals of life, and strong views on
the League of Nations. She makes up her face like a French _comédienne_,
but she has, nine times out of ten, the kind heart of a parson's wife in
rural England and a frank, good-natured wit which faces the realities of
life with the candor of a clean mind.

I found "gay life" in New York immensely and soberly respectable. One
could take one's maiden aunt into the heart of it and not get hot by her
blushes. In fact, it is the American maiden aunt who sets the pace of
the fox-trot and the one-step in dancing-rooms where there are music and
afternoon tea. Several times I supped "English breakfast tea"--I suspect
Sir Thomas Lipton had something to do with it--at five o'clock on bright
afternoons, watching the scene at Sherry's and Delmonico's. It seemed to
me that this dancing habit was a most curious and over-rated form of
social pleasure. It was as though American society had said, "Let us be
devilishly gay!" but started too early in the day, with desperate
sobriety. Many couples left the tea-table for the polished boards and
joined the throng which surged and eddied in circles of narrow
circumference, jostled by other dancers. Youth did not have it all its
own way. On the contrary, I noticed that bald-headed gentlemen with some
width of waistbands were in the majority, dancing with pridigious
gravity and the maiden aunts. They were mostly visitors, I am told, from
other cities--Bostonians escaping from the restrictions of their Early
Victorian atmosphere, senators who voted for prohibition in their own
states, business men who had booked reservations on midnight trains from
Grand Central Terminal. Here and there young officers of the army and
navy led out pretty girls, and with linked arms, and faces very close
together, danced in a kind of coma, which they seemed to enjoy, though
without any sparkle in their eyes. There were also officers of other
nations--a young Frenchman appealing to the great heart of the American
people on behalf of devastated France, and dancing for the sake of
people scorched by the horrors of war, to say nothing of the little
American girl whose yellow fringe was on his Croix de Guerre; and young
English officers belonging to the British Mission, and engaged in
propaganda--oh, frightful word!--of which a _thé dansant_ at Delmonico's
was, no doubt, a serious part of duty. One figure that caught my eye
gave the keynote to the moral and spiritual character of the scene. It
was the figure of a stout old lady wearing a hat with a huge feather
which waggled over her nose as she danced the one-step with earnest
vivacity, and an old gentleman with side-whiskers. She panted as she
came back to the tea-table, and said, "Say, that makes me feel young!"
It occurred to me that she might be Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch on a
visit to New York, and anyhow her presence assured me that afternoon
dancing at Delmonico's need not form the theme of any moralist in search
of vice in high places. It is not only respectable, it is domestic.
Savonarola himself would not have denounced such innocent amusement. Nor
did I find anything to shock the sensibilities of high-souled ethics in
such midnight haunts as the Ziegfeld Follies or the Winter Garden,
except the inanity of all such shows where large numbers of pretty girls
and others disport themselves in flowing draperies and colored lights
before groups of tired people who can hardly hide their boredom, but
yawn laughingly over their cocktails and say, "Isn't she wonderful?"
when Mollie King sings a song about a variety of smiles, and discuss the
personality of President Wilson between comic turns of the Dooley
brothers. That at least is what happened in my little group on the roof
of the Century Theater, where a manufacturer of barbed wire--I wonder if
they were his barbs on which I tore myself in Flanders fields--initiated
me into the mystery of a Bacardi cocktail followed by a stinger, from
which I was rescued, in the nick of time, by a kind lady on my right who
took pity on my innocence. A famous playwright opposite, as sober as a
judge, as courteous as Beau Brummell, passed the time of day, which was
a wee small hour of morning, with little ladies who came into the
limelight, until suddenly he said, with a sigh of infinite impatience,
"Haven't we enjoyed ourselves enough? I want my bed"; so interrupting a
serious discussion between a war correspondent and a cartoonist on the
exact truth about German atrocities, to the monstrous melody of a jazz
band. Human nature is the same in New York as in other cities of the
world. Passion, weakness, folly, are not eliminated from the relations
between American men and women. But to find vice and decadence in
American society one has to go in search of it; and I did not go. I
found New York society tolerant in its views, frank in its expression of
opinion, fond of laughter, and wonderfully sincere. Wealth does not
spoil its fresh and healthy outlook on life, and its people are
idealists at heart, with a reverence for the old-fashioned virtues and
an admiration for those who "make good" in whatever job to which they
put their hands.

After all, hotel life, and restaurant life, and the glamorous world of
the Great White Way, do not reveal the real soul of New York. They are
no more a revelation of normal existence than boulevard life in Paris
represents the daily round of the average Parisian. They are the happy
hunting-grounds of the transient, and the real New-Yorker only visits
them in hours of leisure and boredom.

Another side of the adventure of life in New York is "downtown," where
the subways and the overhead railways pour out tides of humanity who do
not earn their dollars without hard work and long hours of it. I should
never have found my way to Bowling Green and Wall Street without a
guide, because the underground world of the subways, where electric
trains go rushing like shuttles through the warp and woof of a monstrous
network, is utterly confusing to a stranger. But with the guide, who led
me by the hand and laughed at my childlike bewilderment, I came into the
heart of New York business life and saw its types in their natural
environment. It is an alarming world to the wanderer who comes there
suddenly. I confess that when I first walked through those deep gorges,
between the mighty walls of houses as high as mountains in a surge of
humanity in a hurry, I felt dazed and cowardly. I had a conviction that
my nerve-power would never survive the stress and strain of such a life
in such a place. I nearly dislocated my neck by gazing up at the heights
of the skyscrapers, rising story on story to fifty or sixty floors. In a
House of a Thousand Windows I took the elevator to the top story and
wished I hadn't when the girl in charge of the lift asked, "What floor?"
and was answered by a quiet gentleman who said, "Thirty-one." That was
our first stop, and in the few seconds we took to reach this altitude I
had a vision of this vast human ant-heap, with scores of offices on
each floor, and typewriters clicking in all of them, and girl-clerks
taking down letters from hard-faced young men juggling with figures
which, by the rise or drop of a decimal point, mean the difference
between millions of dollars in the markets of the world. Each man and
woman there in this House of a Thousand Windows had a human soul, with
its own little drama of life, its loves and hopes and illusions, but in
the vastness of one skyscraper, in the whirlpool of commerce, in the
machinery of money-making, the humanities of life seemed to be destroyed
and these people to be no more than slaves of modern civilization,
ruthless of their individual happiness. What could they know of art,
beauty, leisure, the quiet pools of thought?... Out in Wall Street there
was pandemonium. The outside brokers--the curb men--were bidding against
one another for stocks not quoted on the New York Exchange--the Standard
Oil Company among them--and their hoarse cries mingled in a raucous
chorus. I stood outside a madhouse staring at lunatics. Surely it was a
madhouse, surrounded by other homes for incurably insane! This
particular house was a narrow, not very tall, building of reddish brown
brick, like a Georgian house in London, and out of each window, which
was barred, poked two rows of faces, one above the other, as though the
room inside were divided by a false floor. In the small window-frames
sat single figures, in crouched positions, with telephone receivers on
their ears and their faces staring at the crowd in the street below.
Each one of those human faces, belonging to young men of healthy
appearance, was making most hideous grimaces, and each grimace was
accompanied by strange, incomprehensible gestures of the man's fingers.
With a thumb and two fingers, or a thumb and three fingers, they poked
through the windows with violent efforts to attract the notice of
individuals in the street. I saw, indeed, that all this fingering had
some hidden meaning and that the maniacs as I had first taken them to be
were signaling messages to the curb brokers, who wore caps of different
colors in order to be distinguished from their fellows. Up and down the
street, and from the topmost as well as from the lower stories of many
buildings, I saw the grimaces and the gestures of the window-men, and
the noise and tumult in the street became more furious. It was a lively
day in Wall Street, and I thanked God that my fate had not led me into
such a life. It seemed worse than war....

Not really so, after all. It was only the outward appearance of things
that distressed one's soul. Looking closer, I saw that all these young
men on the curb seemed very cheery fellows, and were enjoying themselves
as much as boys in a Rugby "scrum." There was nothing wrong with their
nerves. There was nothing wrong with a crowd of young business men and
women with whom I sat down to luncheon in a restaurant called Robin's,
not far from the Stock Exchange. These were the working-bees of the
great hive which is New York. They were in the front-line trenches of
the struggle for existence, and they seemed as cheerful as our
fighting-men who were always less gloomy than the fellows at the rear in
the safe back-waters of war. Business men and lady-clerks, typists, and
secretaries, were all mingled at the little tables where the backs of
chairs touched, and there was a loud, incessant chatter like the noise
of a parrot-house. I overheard some fragments of conversation at the
tables close to me.

"They don't seem to be getting on with the Peace Conference," said a
young man with large spectacles. "All the little nations are trying to
grab a bit of their neighbors' ground."

"I saw the cutest little hat--" said a girl whose third finger was
stained with red ink.

"Have you seen that play by Maeterlinck?" asked an elderly man so like
President Wilson's portraits that he seemed to be the twin brother of
that much-discussed man.

These people were human all through, not at all dehumanized, after all,
because they lived maybe on the thirty-first story of a New York
skyscraper. I dare say also that their work is not so strenuous as it
looks from the outside, and that they earn more dollars a week than
business men and women of their own class in England, so that they have
more margin for the pleasures of life, for the purchase of a "cute
little hat," even for a play by Maeterlinck.

After business hours many of these people hurry away from New York to
suburbs, where they get quickly beyond the turmoil of the city in places
with bustling little high streets of their own and good shops and, on
the outskirts, neat little houses of wooden framework, in gardens where
flowers grow between great rocks which crop out of the soil along the
Connecticut shore. They are the "commuters," or, as we should say in
England, the season-ticket-holders, and, as I did some "commuting"
myself during a ten weeks' visit to America, I used to see them make a
dash for their trains between five and six in the afternoon or late at
night after theater-going in New York. I never tired of the sight of
those crowds in the great hall of the Grand Central Terminal or in the
Pennsylvania Station, and saw the very spirit of the United States in
those vast buildings which typify modern progress. In England a railway
station is, as a rule, the ugliest, most squalid place in any great
city; but in America it is, even in provincial towns, a great adventure
in architecture, where the mind is uplifted by nobility of design and
imagination is inspired by spaciousness, light, color, and silence. It
is strangely, uncannily quiet in the central hall of the Pennsylvania
Station, as one comes down a long broad flight of steps to the vast
floor space below a high dome--painted blue like a summer sky, with
golden stars atwinkling--uplifted on enormous arches. It is like
entering a great cathedral, and, though hundreds of people are scurrying
about, there is a hush through the hall because of its immense height,
in which all sound is lost, and there is no noise of footsteps and only
a low murmur of voices. So it is also in the Grand Central Terminal,
where I found myself many times before the last train left. There is no
sign of railway lines or engines, or the squalor of sidings and sheds.
All that is hidden away until one is admitted to the tracks before the
trains start. Instead, there are fruit-stalls and flower-stalls bright
with color, and book-stalls piled high with current literature from
which every mind can take its choice, and candy-stalls where the aching
jaw may find its chewing-gum, and link up meditation with mastication,
on the way to New Rochelle--"forty-five minutes from Broadway"--or to
the ruralities of Rye, Mamaroneck, and Port Chester, this side of high
life in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Some of the male commuters have a habit of playing cards between New
York and New Rochelle, showing an activity of mind not dulled by their
day's work in town. But others indulge in conversational quartets, and
on these journeys I heard more than I wanted to know about the private
life of President Wilson, and things I wanted to learn about the
experiences of American soldiers in France, the state of feeling between
America and England, and the philosophy of success by men who had
succeeded. It was a philosophy of simple virtue enforced by will-power
and a fighting spirit. "Don't hit often," said one of these
philosophers, who began life as an errand-boy and now designs the
neckwear of society, "but, when you do, hit hard and clean. No man is
worth his salt unless he loses his temper at the right time."

In the last train to Greenwich were American soldiers and mariners just
back from France, who slept in corners of the smoking-coach and wakened
with a start at New Rochelle, with a dazed look in their eyes, as though
wondering whether they had merely dreamed of being home again and were
still in the glades of the Argonne forest.... The powder was patchy on
the nose of a tired lady whose head drooped on the shoulder of a man in
evening clothes chewing an unlighted cigar and thinking, with a little
smile about his lips, of something that had happened in the evening.
Two typist-girls with their mothers had been to a lecture by Captain
Carpenter, V.C., one of the heroes of Zeebrugge. They were "crazy" about
him. They loved his description of the "blunt end" and the "pointed end"
of the ship. They had absorbed a lot of knowledge about naval tactics;
and they were going to buy his photograph to put over their desks....

Part of the adventure of life in New York is the acquisition of
unexpected knowledge by means of lectures; and Carnegie Hall is the
Mecca of lecturers. Having been one of the lecturers, I can speak from
personal experience when I say that a man who stands for the first time
on the naked desert of that platform, looking toward rows of white faces
and white shirt-fronts to the farthest limit of the topmost galleries,
feels humility creep into his soul until he shrinks to the size of
Hop-o'-My-Thumb and is the smallest, loneliest thing in the whole wide
world. A microbe is a monster to him, and he quakes with terror when he
hears the first squeak of his tiny voice in the vast spaciousness under
that high, vaulted roof. On that first night of mine I would have sold
myself, with white shirt, cuff-links, and quaking body, for a two-cent
piece, if any one had been fool enough to buy me and let me off that
awful ordeal. And yet, looking back on it now, I know that it was the
finest hour of my life, and a wonderful reward for small service, when
all those people rose to greet me, and there came up to me out of that
audience a spiritual friendship so warm and generous that I felt it like
the touch of kindly hands about me, and recovered from my fright.
Afterward, as always happens in America, there was a procession of
people who came onto the platform to shake hands and say words of
thanks, so that one gets into actual touch with all kinds of people and
their friendship becomes personal. In that way I made thousands of
friends in America and feel toward them all a lasting gratitude because
of the generous, warm-hearted, splendid things they said as they passed
with a quick hand-clasp. The lecture habit in America is deep-rooted and
widespread. Every small town has its lecture-hall, and is in competition
with every other town near by for lecturers who have some special fame
or knowledge. In New York there is an endless series of lectures, not
only in places like Carnegie Hall and Æolian Hall, but in clubs and
churches. Great audiences, made up of rich society people as well as the
"intellectuals" and the professional classes, gather in force to hear
any man whose personality makes him interesting or who has something to
say which they want to hear. In many cases personality is sufficient.
People of New York will cheerfully pay five dollars to see a famous man,
and not think their money wasted if his words are lost in empty space,
or if they know already as much as he can tell them about the subject of
his speech. Marshal Joffre had no need to prepare orations. When he
said, "_Messieurs et mesdames_" they cheered him for ten minutes, and
when, after that, he said, "_je suis enchanté_" they cheered him for ten
minutes more. They like to see the men who have done things, the men who
count for something, and to study the personality of a man about whom
they have read. If he has something to tell them, so much the better,
and if he is not renowned he must tell them something pretty good if he
wants their money and their patience. I have no doubt that the habit of
lecture-going is one of the greatest influences at work in the education
of the American people. The knowledge they acquire in this way does not
bite very deep, and it leaves, I fancy, only a superficial impression,
but it awakens their intelligence and imagination, directs their
thoughts to some of the big problems of life, and is a better way of
spending an evening than idle gossip or a variety entertainment. The
League for Political Education which I had the honor of addressing in
Carnegie Hall has a series of lectures--three times a week, I
think--which are attended by people engaged in every kind of educative
and social work in New York, and at a luncheon afterward I listened to a
number of speeches by public men and women more inspiring in their
sincerity of idealism than anything I have heard in similar assemblies.
All these people were engaged in practical work for the welfare of their
fellow-creatures, as pioneers of progress in the adventure of life in
New York, and the women especially, like Jane Addams, impressed me by
the real beauty of their personality.

Another phase of life which interested me was the club world of the
city, and in these clubs I met most of the men and many of the women who
count in the intellectual activity of New York. I came in touch there
with every stratum of thought and tradition which makes up the
structure of American politics and ideas. I met the conservatives of the
Union Club who live in an atmosphere of dignified austerity (reminding
me of the Athenæum Club in London, where the very waiters have the air
of bishops and the political philosophy of the late Lord Salisbury), and
who confided to me with quiet gravity their personal and unprintable
opinions of Mr. Wilson; I became an honorary member of the Union League
Club, hardly less conservative in its traditional outlook and having a
membership which includes many leading business and professional men of
New York City. It was here that I saw a touching ceremony which is one
of my best memories of the United States, when the negro troops of a
fighting regiment marched up Fifth Avenue in a snow-storm, and gave back
their colors for safe-keeping to the Union League Club, which had
presented them when they went to war. Ex-Governor Hughes, speaking from
the balcony, praised them for their valor in the great conflict for the
world's liberty, when they fought for the country which had given them
their own freedom by no light sacrifice of blood. By their service in
France they had gained a glory for their citizenship in the United
States and stood equal with their white comrades in the gratitude of the
American people. There were tears in the eyes of colored officers when,
after a luncheon in the Union League Club, they heard other words like
those, giving honor to the spirit of their race.... Up the wide stairway
of the club, in the softly glowing light which comes through a
stained-glass window, the colors of the darky regiment hang as a
memorial of courage and sacrifice....

I was the guest of the Arts Club amid a crowd of painters, poets,
musicians, and writing-men, who sat at long tables in paneled rooms
decorated with pictures and caricatures which were the work of their own
members. Clouds of tobacco smoke made wreaths above the board. A
soldier-poet rose between the courses and sang his own songs to the
chorus of his comrades. It was a jolly night among jolly good fellows,
who had wit, and the gift of laughter, and large hearts which beat in
sympathy for those who suffered in the war.... In the City Club I had a
room when I wanted it, and the hall porter and the bell-boys, and the
elevator-man, and the clerks in the office, shook hands with me when I
went in and out, so that I felt at home there, after a splendid night
when crowds of ladies joined the men to listen to my story of the war,
and when a famous glee-party sang songs to me across rose garlands on
the banquet table. The City Club has a number of habitués who play
dominoes on quiet nights, and in deep leather chairs discuss the destiny
of nations as men who pull the wires which make the puppets dance. It is
the home of the foreign correspondents in New York, who know the inside
of international politics, and whose president is (or was, at the time
of my visit) a kindly, human, English soul with a genius for fellowship
which has made a little League of Nations in this New York house. I met
him first, as a comrade of the pen, in the Street of Adventure, where
London journalists rub shoulders on their way to history; and in New
York his friendship was a generous and helpful gift, and by his good
words I made many other friends.

It seemed to me that New York is a city where friendship is quickly
made, and I found that the best part of my adventure in the city. Day
after day, when dusk was creeping into the streets and lights began to
gleam in all the windows of the houses that reach up to the stars, I
drove down the long highway of Fifth Avenue with a certainty that before
the evening was out I should meet a number of friendly souls who would
make me welcome at their tables and reveal their convictions and ideals
with a candor which does not come to English people until their ice of
reserve is broken or thawed. And that was always so. At a small
dinner-party or a big reception, in one of the great mansions of New
York, or in a suite of rooms high above the traffic of the street,
conversation was free-and-easy, with or without the aid of a cocktail,
and laughter came in gusts, and American men and women spoke of the
realities of life frankly and without camouflage, with a directness and
sincerity that touched the essential truth of things. In one room Melba
sang with eternal girlhood in her voice, while painters and diplomats,
novelists, and wits, famous actresses and princesses of New York, were
hushed into silence for a while, until, when the spell was broken, there
rose again a merry tumult of tongues. In another room a group of
"intellectuals," tired of talking about war and peace, played charades
like children in the nursery, and sat down to drawing games with shouts
of mirth at a woman's head with the body of a fish and the legs of a
bird. In another house the King's Jester of New York, who goes from
party to party like a French wit--the little Abbé Morellet--in the
_salons_ of France before the Revolution, destroyed the dignity of
decorous people by a caricature of German opera and an imitation of a
German husband eating in a public restaurant. I knew the weakness that
comes from a surfeit of laughter.... I did not tire of these social
adventures in New York, and I came to see something of the spirit of the
people as it was revealed in the cosmopolitan city. I found that spirit
touched, in spite of social merriment, by the tragedy of war, and
anxious about the outcome of peace. I found these people conscious of
new responsibilities thrust upon them by fate, and groping in their
minds for some guidance, for some clear light upon their duty and
destiny in the reshaping of the world by the history that has happened.
Europe, three thousand miles away, is still a mystery to them, full of
unknown forces and peoples and passions which they cannot understand,
though they read all their Sunday papers, with all their bulky
supplements. When I went among them they were divided by the conflict of
political differences with passionate emotion, and torn between
conflicting ideals of patriotism and humanity. But most of them put on
one side, with a fine disdain, all meanness of thought and action and
the dirty squalor of financial interests. Sure of their power among
nations, the people I met--and I met many of the best--were anxious to
rise to their high chance in history and to do the Big Thing in a big
way, when they saw the straight road ahead.

When I left New York they were raising their _fifth great Victory Loan_,
and the streets were draped in banners bearing the great V for Victory
and for the number of the loan. Their sense of drama was at work again
to make this enterprise successful, and their genius of advertisement
was in action to put a spell upon the people. The face of a farmer was
on the posters in many streets, and that sturdy old fellow upon whose
industry the wealth of America depends so much, because it is founded in
the soil, put his hand in his pocket and said, "Sure, we'll see it
through!"

From my brief visit one conviction came to me. It is that whatever line
of action the American people take in the new world that is now being
born out of the tumult of war, they will see it through, by any
sacrifice and at any cost.



II

SOME PEOPLE I MET IN AMERICA


As a professional onlooker of life (and it is a poor profession, as I
must admit) it has always been my habit to study national and social
types in any country where I happen to be. I find an untiring interest
in this, and prefer to sit in a French café, for example, watching the
people who come in and out, and hearing scraps of conversation that pass
across the table, to the most thrilling theatrical entertainment. And I
find more interest in "common" people than in the uncommonly
distinguished, by fame and power. To me the types in a London omnibus or
a suburban train are more absorbing as a study than a group of generals
or a party of statesmen, and I like to discover the lives of the world's
nobodies, their way of thought and their outlook on the world, by the
character in their faces and their little social habits. In that way one
gets a sense of the social drama of a country and of the national
ideals and purpose. So when I went to the United States after four and a
half years in the war zone, where I had been watching another kind of
drama, hideous and horrible in spite of all its heroism, I fell into my
old habit of searching for types and studying characters. I had unusual
opportunity. New York and many other cities opened their hearts and
their houses to me in a most generous way, and I met great numbers of
people of every class and kind.

The first people I met, before I had stepped off my ship of adventure,
were young newspaper men who searched the ship like a sieve for any
passenger who had something in his life or brain worth telling to the
world. I was scared of them, having heard that they could extract the
very secrets of one's soul by examination of the third degree; but I
found them human and friendly fellows who greeted me cheerily and did
not take up much time when they set me up like a lay-figure on the boat
deck, turned on the "movie"-machine, snap-shotted me from various
angles, and offered me American cigarettes as a sign of comradeship. I
met many other newspaper men and women in the United States; those who
control the power of the press--the masters of the machine which shapes
the mind of peoples--and those who feed its wheels with words. Because I
had some history to tell, the word-writers lay in wait for me, found my
telephone number in any hotel of any town before I knew it myself,
tapped at my bedroom door when I was in the transition stage between day
and evening clothes, and asked questions about many things of which I
knew nothing at all, so that I had to camouflage my abysmal depths of
ignorance.

They know their job, those American reporters, and I was impressed
especially by the young women. There was one girl who sat squarely in
front of me, fixed me with candid gray eyes, and for an hour put me
through an examination about my sad past until I had revealed
everything. There is nothing that girl doesn't know about me, and I
should blush to meet her again. She did not take a single note--by that
I knew her as a good journalist--and wrote two columns of revelation
with most deadly accuracy and a beautiful style. Another girl followed
me round a picture-gallery listening to casual remarks among a group of
friends, and wrote an article on art-criticism which left me breathless
with admiration at her wit and knowledge, of which I took the credit.
One young man, once a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, boarded the train at New
York, bought me a drawing-room for private conversation, and by the time
we reached Philadelphia made it entirely futile for me to give a
lecture, because he had it all in his memory, and wrote the entire
history of everything I had seen and thought through years of war, in
next day's paper. I liked a young Harvard man who came to see me in
Boston. He had a modesty and a winning manner which made me rack my
brains to tell him something good, and I admired his type, so clean and
boyish and quick in intelligence. He belonged to the stuff of young
America, as I saw it in the fields of France, eager for service whatever
the risk. I met the editorial staffs of many newspapers, and was given a
luncheon by the proprietor and editors of one great newspaper in New
York which is perhaps the biggest power in the United States to-day. All
the men round me were literary types, and I saw in their faces the
imprint of hard thought, and of hard work more strenuous, I imagine,
than in the newspaper life of any other country of the world. They all
had an absorbing interest in the international situation after the
armistice, and knew a good deal about the secret workings of European
policy. A young correspondent just back from Russia made a speech
summing up his experiences and conclusions, which were of a startling
kind, told with the utmost simplicity and bluntness. The proprietor took
me into his private room, and outlined his general policy on world
affairs, of which the first item on his program was friendship with
England.... I found among newspaper men a sense of responsibility with
which they are not generally credited, and wonderfully alert and open
minds; also, apart from their own party politics and prejudices, a
desire for fair play and truth. The Yellow Press still has its power,
and it is a malign influence in the United States, but the newspapers of
good repute are conducted by men of principle and conviction, and their
editorial and literary staffs have a high level of talent, representing
much, I think, of the best intelligence of America.

[Illustration: A RELIEF FROM BOREDOM AFTER OFFICE HOURS]

The women of America seem to me to have a fair share of that
intelligence, and I met many types of them who were interesting as
social studies. Several states are still resisting woman suffrage, but
as far as equality goes in all affairs of daily life outside political
power the women of America have long claimed and gained it. During the
war they showed in every class, like the women of England, that they
could take on men's jobs and do them as well as men in most cases, and
better than men in some cases. They drove motor-lorries and machines;
they were dairy farmers and agriculturists; they became
munition-workers, carpenters, clerks, and elevator-girls, and the
womanhood of America rallied up with a wonderful and devoted spirit in a
great campaign of work for the Red Cross and all manner of comforts for
the troops, who, by a lamentable breakdown in transport organization,
never received many of the gifts sent to them by women old and young
whose eyes and fingers ached with so much stitching during the long
evenings of war. Apart altogether from war-work, American women have
made themselves the better halves of men, and the men know it and are
deferential to the opinions and desires of their women-folk. It is
natural that women should have a wider knowledge of literature and ideas
in a scheme of life where men have their noses down to the grindstone
of work for long hours every day. That is what most American husbands
have to do in a struggle for existence which strives up to the
possession of a Ford car, generally known as a "Tin Lizzie" or a
"Flivver," on the way to a Cadillac or a Packard, a country cottage on
Long Island or the Connecticut shore, an occasional visit to Tiffany's
in Fifth Avenue for a diamond brooch, or some other trinket symbolizing
success, a holiday at Palm Beach, week-ends at Atlantic City, and a
relief from boredom after office hours at the Forty-fourth Street
Theater or the Winter Garden. That represents the social ambition of the
average business man on the road to fortune, and it costs a goodly pile
of dollars to be heaped up by hard work, at a high strain of nervous
tension. Meanwhile the women are keeping themselves as beautiful as God
made them, with slight improvements according to their own ideas, which
are generally wrong; decorating their homes; increasing their
housekeeping expenses, and reading prodigiously. They read a vast number
of books and magazines, so making it possible for men like
myself--slaves of the pen--to exist in an otherwise cruel world.

Before the American lady of leisure gets up to breakfast (generally she
doesn't) and uses her lip-salve and powder-puff for the first time in
the day, she has her counterpane spread with the morning's newspapers,
which are folded into the size of small blankets. There is the New York
_Times_ for respectability, the _Tribune_ for political "pep," and the
_World_ for social reform. The little lady glances first of all at the
picture supplements while she sips her orange juice, reads the
head-lines while she gets on with the rolled oats, and with the second
cup of coffee settles down to the solid reading-matter of international
sensations (skipping, as a rule, the ends of columns "continued on page
4"), until it is time to interview the cook, who again gives notice to
leave because of the conduct of the chauffeur or the catlike qualities
of the parlor-maid, and handles the telephone to give her Orders of the
Day. For some little time after that the telephone is kept busy at both
ends, and, with a cigarette threatening to burn a Buhl cabinet, the lady
of leisure talks to several friends in New York, answers a call from the
Western Union, and receives a night-letter sent over the wire. "No, I am
absolutely engaged on Monday, dear. Tuesday? So sorry I am fixed up
that day, too. Yes, and Thursday is quite out of the question. Friday?
Oh, hell, make it Monday, then!" That is a well-worn New York joke, and
I found it funny and true to life, because it is as difficult to avoid
invitations in New York as collisions in Fifth Avenue. There is a little
red book on the Buhl cabinet in which the American lady puts down her
engagements and the excuses she gave for breaking others (it is useful
to remember those), and she calculates that as far as the present day's
work is planned she will have time to finish the new novel by John
Galsworthy, to get through a pamphlet on bolshevism which was mentioned
at dinner by an extremely interesting young man just back from Russia,
to buy a set of summer furs in the neighborhood of Forty-second Street
(Herbert, poor dear! says they are utterly unnecessary), to lunch at the
Ritz-Carlton with a party of friends, including the man who made such a
sensation with his lecture on France at the Carnegie Hall (she will get
a lot of first-hand knowledge about the French situation), and to look
in at the _thé bavardage_ with dear Beatrice de H., where some of the
company of the French theater will meet French-speaking Americans and
pretend to understand them. Then there is a nice free evening, for once
(oh, that little white lie in the red book!), when she will wallow in
the latest masterpiece of H. G. Wells and learn all about God and
humanity as revealed by that extraordinary genius with a sense of humor.

So the American lady of leisure keeps up-to-date with the world's
lighter thought and skims the surface of the deeper knowledge, using her
own common sense as an acid test of truth when the imagination of a
novelist runs away with him, and widening her outlook on the problems of
life with deliberate desire to understand. It makes her conversation at
the dinner-table sparkling, and the men-folk are conscious that she
knows more than they do about current literature and international
history. She has her dates right, within a century or two, in any talk
about medieval England, and she knows who killed Henri IV of France, who
were the lovers of Marie de Medici, why Lloyd George quarreled with Lord
Northcliffe, and what the ambassador said to the leaders of Russian
bolshevism when he met them secretly in Holland. It is useful to know
those things in any social gathering of intellectuals, and I met several
ladies of American society in New York who had a wide range of knowledge
of that kind.

Many American ladies, with well-to-do husbands, and with money of their
own, which is very useful to them in time of need, do not regard life
merely as a game out of which they are trying to get the most fun, but
with more serious views; and I think some of those find it hard to
satisfy their aspirations, and go about with a touch, or more, of
heartache beneath their furs. I met some women who spoke with a certain
irony which reflected the spent light of old illusions, and others who
had a kind of wistfulness in their eyes, as though searching for the
unattainable happiness. The Tired Business Man as a husband has his
limitations, like most men. Often his long hours of absence at the
office and his dullness at home make his wife rather companionless, and
her novel-reading habits tend to emphasize the loss, and force upon her
mind the desire for more satisfying comradeship. Generally some man who
enters her circle seems to offer the chance of this. He has high ideals,
or the pose of them. His silences seem suggestive of deep unutterable
thoughts--though he may be thinking of nothing more important than a
smudge on his white waistcoat--he has a tenderness in his gray (or
black, or brown) eyes which is rather thrilling to a woman chilled by
the lack-luster look of the man who is used to her presence and takes
her for granted.... The Tired Business Man ought to be careful, lest he
should become too tired to enter into the interests of his wife and to
give her the minimum of comradeship which all women demand. The American
Woman of Society, outside the Catholic Church, which still insists upon
the old law, seems to me quicker than most others to cut her losses in
the marriage gamble, if she finds, or thinks she finds, that she is
losing too heavily for her peace of heart. Less than women in European
countries will she tolerate deceit or spiritual cruelty, and the law
offers her a way of escape, expensive but certain, from a partnership
which has been broken. Society, in New York at least, is tolerant to
women who have dissolved their married partnership, and there is no
stoning-sisterhood to fling mud and missiles at those who have already
paid for error by many tears. Yet I doubt whether, in many cases, the
liberty they find makes for happiness. There is always the fear of a
second mistake worse than the first, and, anyhow, some unattached women
I met, women who could afford to live alone, not without a certain
luxury of independence, seemed disillusioned as to the romance of life,
and the honesty of men, and their own chance of happiness. Their furs
and their diamonds were no medicine for the bitterness of their souls,
nor for the hunger in their hearts.

But I found a great class of women in America too busy, too interested,
and too inspired by common sense to be worried by that kind of emotional
distress--the middle-class women who flung themselves into war-work, as
before, and now, in time of peace, the activities of charity and
education and domestic life have called to them for service. There was a
woman doctor I met who seemed to me as fine a type of American womanhood
as one could have the luck to meet, and yet, in spite of uncommon
ability, a common type in her cheery and practical character. When the
war broke out her husband, who was a doctor also, was called to serve in
the American army, and his wife, who had passed her medical
examinations in the same college with him, but had never practised,
carried on his work, in spite of four children. They came first and her
devotion to them was not altered, but that did not prevent her from
attending to a growing list of patients at a time when influenza was
raging in her district. She went about in a car which she drove herself,
with the courage and cheerfulness of a gallant soldier. In her little
battlefield there were many tragedies, because death took away the
youngest-born or the eldest-born from many American homes, and her heart
was often heavy; but she resisted all gloomy meditations and kept her
nerve and her spirit by--singing. As she drove her car from the house of
one patient to another she sang loudly to herself, over the wheel, any
little old song that came into her head--"Hey-diddle-diddle, the cat and
the fiddle," or "Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old
soul was he,"--to the profound astonishment of passers-by, who shook
their heads and said, "It's a good thing there's going to be
Prohibition." But she saved the lives of many women and children in time
of plague--for the influenza reached the height of plague--and did not
lose her sense of humor or her fine, hearty laugh, or her graciousness
of womanhood. When "the army," as she called her husband, came back, she
could say, "I kept your flag flying, old man, and you'll not find any
difference at home." I saw the husband and wife in their home together.
While friends were singing round the piano, these two held hands like
young lovers, away back in a shady corner of the room.

I met another husband and wife who interested me as types of American
life, though not in their home. It was at a banquet attended by about
two hundred people. The husband was the chairman of the party, and he
had a wonderful way of making little speeches in which he called upon
distinguished people to talk to the company, revealing in each case the
special reason why that man or woman should have a hearing. He did this
with wit and knowledge, and in each case indeed it was a privilege to
hear the speaker who followed, because all the men and women here were
engaged in some social work of importance in the life of great American
cities, and were idealists who had put their theories into practice by
personal service and self-sacrifice. The little man who was the
chairman paid a compliment to his own wife, and I found she was sitting
by my side. She had gray hair, but very young, bright, humorous eyes,
and an almost terrible truthfulness of speech. I was startled by some
things she said about the war, and the psychology of men and women under
the spell of war. They were true, but dangerous to speak aloud as this
woman spoke them. Later, she talked of the heritage of hatred that had
been bequeathed by war to the people of the world. "Let us kill hatred,"
she said. "It is the survival of the cave instinct in man which comes
out of its hiding-places under the name of patriotism and justice." I do
not know what link there was between this and some other thought which
prompted her to show me photographs of two big, sturdy boys who, she
told me, were her adopted children. It was a queer, touching story,
about these children. "I adopted them not for their sake, but for mine,"
she said. She was a lonely woman, well married, with leisure and money,
and the temptation of selfishness. It was to prevent selfishness
creeping into her heart that she sent round to an orphanage for two
boy-babies. They were provided, and she brought them up as her own, and
found--so she assured me--that they grew up with a marked likeness in
feature to herself and her sisters. She had a theory about that--the
idea that by some kind of predestination souls reach through space to
one another, and find the home where love is waiting for them. I was
skeptical of that, having known the London slums, but I was interested
in the practical experience of the bright little American woman, who
"selfishly," as she said, to cure selfishness, had given two abandoned
babies of the world the gift of love, and a great chance in the
adventure of life. She was a tremendous protagonist of environment
against the influence of heredity. "Environment puts it over heredity
all the time," she said.

This special charity on her part is not typical of American women, who
do not, any more than women of other countries, go about adopting other
people's babies, but I think that her frankness of speech to a stranger
like myself, and her curious mixture of idealism and practicality,
combined with a certain shrewdness of humor, are qualities that come to
people in America. She herself, indeed, is a case of "environment,"
because she is foreign in blood, and American only by marriage.

In New York I had the advantage of meeting one lady who seemed to me
typical of the old-fashioned "leaders" of American society such as Henry
James described in his novels. She lives in one of the great mansions
along Fifth Avenue, and the very appearance of her butler is a guaranty
of riches and respectability. She made no disguise of her wealth, and
was proud of it in a simple way, as an English aristocrat is proud of
his ancestry and family treasures. But she acknowledges its
responsibilities and takes them seriously with a sense of duty. She had
received lessons in public speaking, in order to hold her own at
committee meetings, and she doles out large sums in charity to public
institutions and deserving cases, with a grim determination to unmask
the professional beggar and the fraudulent society. She seemed to have a
broad-hearted tolerance for the younger generation and a special
affection for boys of all ages, whom she likes to feed up, and to keep
amused by treating them to the circus or the "movies"; but I fancy that
she is a stern disciplinarian with her family as well as her servants,
and that her own relatives stand in awe of this masterful old lady who
has a high sense of honor, and demands obedience, honesty, and service
from those who look for her favors and her money. I detected a shrewd
humor in her and an abiding common sense, and at her own dinner-table
she had a way of cross-examining her guests, who were men of political
importance and women of social influence, like a judge who desires to
get at the evidence without listening to unnecessary verbiage. She is
the widow of a successful business man, but I perceived in her the sense
of personal power and family traditions which belonged to the old type
of dowager-duchess in England. Among butterfly women of European cities
she would appear an austere and terrible figure in her virtue and her
diamonds, but to small American boys, eating candies at her side in the
circus, she is the kind and thoughtful aunt.

It was in Boston that I met some other types of American women, not long
enough to know them well, but enough to see superficial differences of
character between them and their friends of New York. Needless to say, I
had read a good deal about Boston before going there. In England the
Bostonian tradition is familiar to us by the glory of such masters as
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emerson, Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, so
that I had a friendly feeling when I went about the city and saw its
streets and prim houses, reminiscent of Cheltenham and other English
towns of ancient respectability and modern culture. After a lecture
there many Bostonians came onto the platform, and I heard at once a
difference in accent from the intonation of New York. It was a little
more precise, with a careful avoidance of slang phrases. The people who
spoke to me were earnest souls, with an idealism which seemed to lift
them above the personal prejudices of party politics. I should imagine
that some of them are republican rather than democratic in instinct, but
those at least who were in my audience supported the idea of the League
of Nations, and for that reason did not wish to see President Wilson
boiled in oil or roasted at a slow fire. From my brief glimpses of
Boston society I should imagine that the Puritan spirit still lingers
there among the "best families" and that in little matters of etiquette
and social custom they adhere to the rules of the Early Victorian era of
English life.

I was convinced of this by one trivial incident I observed in a hotel at
Boston. A lady, obviously in transit from New York, by the public way in
which she used her powder-puff, and by a certain cosmopolitan easiness
of manner, produced a gold cigarette-case from her muff, and began to
smoke without thinking twice about it. She had taken just three whiffs
when a colored waiter approached in the most deferential manner and
begged her to put out her cigarette, because smoking was not allowed in
the public rooms. The lady from New York looked amazed for a moment.
Then she laughed, dropped her cigarette into her coffee-cup, and said:
"Oh yes--I guess I forgot I was in Boston!" In that word Boston she
expressed a world of propriety, conventional morality, and social
austerity, a long, long way from the liberty of New York. I had been
told that a Boston audience would be very cold and unenthusiastic, not
because they would be out of sympathy with the lecturer, but because
they were "very English" in their dislike of emotional expression. My
experience was not like that, as I was relieved to find, and, on the
contrary, those Bostonians at the Symphony Hall applauded with most
generous warmth and even rose and cheered when I had finished my story
of the heroic deeds of English soldiers. It was a Boston girl who made
the _apologia_ of her people. "I am sure," she said, "that all those men
and women who rose to applaud went down on their knees that night and
asked God to forgive them for having broken their rule of life."

No doubt Boston society, as far as it includes the old families rooted
in it for generations, is conservative in its point of view, and looks
askance at noisy innovations like modern American dances, jazz bands,
and the jolly vulgarities of youth. But, judging from my passing
glimpses of college girls in the town, I should say that youth puts up a
healthy opposition to the "old fogy" philosophy, and breaks the
conventions now and then with a crash. One girl I met suggests to me
that Boston produces character by intensive culture, and is apt to be
startled by the result. Her father was a well-known lawyer, and she
inherited his gift of learning and logic, so that when he died she had
the idea of carrying on his work. The war was on, and somewhere over on
the western front was a young English soldier whom she had met on board
ship and might, according to the chances of war, never meet again.
Anyhow, she was restless, and desired work. She decided to study for the
law examinations and to be called to the bar; and to keep her company,
her mother, who was her best comrade, went into college with her, and
shared her rooms. I like that idea of the mother and daughter reading
and working together. It seems to me a good picture. In due time she was
called to the bar, and entered the chambers where her father had worked,
and did so well that a great lawyer who gave her his cases to prepare
spoke rare words of praise about her. Then the war ended, one day, quite
suddenly, the young English soldier arrived in Boston, and, after a few
preliminary inquiries as to his chance of luck, said, "When shall we get
married?" He was in a hurry to settle down, and the mother of the girl
was scared by his grim determination to carry her comrade away. Yet he
was considerate. "I should hate to cause your mother any worry by
hurrying things on so fast as Monday," he said. "Let us make it
Tuesday." But the wedding took place on the Saturday before the Tuesday,
and the young lady barrister of Boston was whisked away four days after
the English officer came to America with a dream in his heart of which
he desired the fulfilment. Boston was startled. This romance was
altogether too rapid for its peace of mind. Why, there was no time to
buy the girl a wedding-present!... The street boys of Boston were most
startled by the English officer's best man--his brother--whose tall hat,
tail-coat, and white spats were more wonderful than anything they had
seen before.

I was not long enough in many towns of America to detect their various
characteristics. Philadelphia, I was told in New York, was so slow that
it was safe for people to fall out of windows--they just wafted down
like gossamer--but I found it a pleasant, bustling place, with a
delightful Old World atmosphere, like a bit of Queen Anne-England, round
Independence Hall.... Pittsburgh by night, looking down on its
blast-furnaces from a hill outside, appeared to me like a town behind
the battle-lines under heavy gun-fire, and I am convinced that the
workers in those factories are in the front-line trenches of life and
deserve gold medals for their heroism. I had not been in the town ten
minutes before a young lady with the poetical name of Penelope rang me
up on the telephone and implored me to take a walk out by night to see
this strange and wonderful picture, and I was glad of her advice, though
she did not offer to go as my guide. Another girl made herself
acquainted, and I found she has a hero-worship for a fellow war
correspondent, once of Pittsburgh, whose career she had followed through
many battlefields.

I saw Washington in glamorous sunlight under a blue sky, and found my
spirit lifted up by the white beauty of its buildings and the
spaciousness of its public gardens. I had luncheon with the British
ambassador, curious to find myself in an English household, with people
discussing America from the English point of view in the political heart
of the United States; and I visited the War College and met American
generals and officers in the very brain-center of that great army which
I had seen on the roads of France and on the battlefields. This was the
University of War as far as the American people are concerned, and there
were diagrams on the blackboards in the lecture-hall describing the
strategy of the western front, while in the library officers and clerks
were tabulating the history of the great massacre in Europe for future
guidance, which by the grace of God and the League of Nations will be
unnecessary for generations to come. I talked with these officers and
found them just such earnest, serious scientific men as I had met in
American Headquarters in France, where they were conducting war, not in
our casual, breezy way, but as school-masters arranging a college
demonstration, and overweighted by responsibility. It was in a room in
the Capitol that I met one little lady with a complete geographical
knowledge of the great halls and corridors of that splendid building,
and an Irish way with her in her dealings with American Congressmen and
Senators. Before the war I used to meet her in a little drawing-room not
far away from Kensington Palace, London, and I imagined in my innocence
that she was exclusively interested in literature and drama. But in one
of the luncheon-rooms of the Capitol--where I lined up at the counter
for a deep-dish pie from a colored waitress--I found that she was
dealing with more inflammable articles than those appearing in newspaper
columns, being an organizing secretary of the Sinn Fein movement in the
United States. She was happy in her work, and spoke of Irish rebellion
in that bright and placid way which belongs, as I have often noticed, to
revolutionary spirits who help to set nations on fire and drench the
world in blood. Anybody looking at her eating that deep-dish pie in the
luncheon-room of the American Houses of Parliament would have put her
down as a harmless little lady, engaged, perhaps, in statistical work on
behalf of Prohibition. But I knew the flame in her soul, kindled by
Irish history, was of the same fire which I saw burning in the eyes of
great mobs whom I saw passing one day in procession down Fifth Avenue,
with anti-English banners above their heads.

I should have liked to see more of Chicago. There seemed to me in that
great city an intense intellectual activity, of conscious and deliberate
energy. Removed by a thousand miles from New York with its more
cosmopolitan crowds and constant influx of European visitors, it is
self-centered and independent, and out of its immense population there
are many minds emerging to make it a center of musical, artistic, and
educational life, apart altogether from its business dynamics. I became
swallowed up in the crowds along Michigan Avenue, and was caught in the
breeze that blew stiffly down the highway of this "windy city," and
studied the shops and theaters and picture-palaces with a growing
consciousness that here was a world almost as great as New York and, I
imagine, more essentially American in character and views. That first
morning of my visit I was the guest of a club called the Cliff-dwellers,
where the chairman rapped for order on the table with a club that might
have protected the home of Prehistoric Man, and addressed a gathering of
good fellows who, as journalists, authors, painters, and musicians, are
farthest removed from that simple child of nature who went out hunting
for his dinner, and bashed his wife when she gnawed the meatiest bone.
It was in the time of armistice, and these men were deeply anxious about
the new problems which faced America and about the reshaping of the
world's philosophy. They were generous and honest in their praise of
England's mighty effort in the war, and they were enthusiastic to a man
in the belief that an Anglo-American alliance was the best guaranty of
the League of Nations, and the best hope for the safety of
civilization. I came away with the belief that out of Chicago would come
help for the idealists of our future civilization, out of Chicago,
whatever men may say of its Pit, and its slaughter-yards, and its jungle
of industry and life. For on the walls of the Cliff-dwellers were
paintings of men who have beauty in their hearts, and in the eyes of the
men I met was a look of gravity and thoughtfulness in face of the
world's agonies and conflict. But I was aware, also, that among the
seething crowds of that city were mobs of foreign-born people who have
the spirit of revolution in their hearts, and others who demand more of
the joy of life and less of its struggle, and men of baseness and
brutality, coarsened by the struggle through which they have to push and
thrust in order to get a living. I listened to Germans and foreign Jews
in some of the streets of Chicago, and saw in imagination the flames and
smoke of passion that stir above the Melting-pot.

I have memories in Chicago of a little theatrical manager who took my
arm and pressed it tight with new-born affection, and said: "My dearie,
I'm doing colossal business--over two thousand dollars a night! It's
broken all the records. I go about singing with happiness." Success had
made a poet of him. In a private suite of rooms in the most luxurious
hotel of Chicago I met one of the theatrical stars of America, and
studied her type as one might gaze at a rare bird. She was a queer
little bird, I found, with a childish and simple way of speech which
disguised a little her immense and penetrating knowledge of human nature
as it is found in "one-night stands," in the jungle of life behind the
scenes, and in her own grim and gallant fight for fame. Fame had come to
her suddenly and overwhelmingly, in Chicago, and New York was waiting
for her. The pride of her achievement thrilled her to the finger-tips,
and she was as happy as a little girl who has received her first doll as
a birthday-present. She talked to me about her technic, about the way in
which she had lived in her part before acting it, so that she felt
herself to be the heroine in body and soul. But what I liked best--and
tried to believe--was her whispered revelation of her ultimate
ambition--and that was a quiet marriage with a boy who was "over there,"
if he did not keep her waiting too long. Marriage, and not fame, was
what she wanted most (so she said), but she was going to be very, very
careful to make the right one. She had none of the luxurious splendor of
those American stars who appear in fiction and photographs. She was a
bright little canary, with pluck, and a touch of genius, and a shrewd
common sense.

From her type I passed to others, a world away in mode of
life--Congressmen, leaders of the women's suffrage societies,
ex-governors, business magnates, American officers back from the front,
foreign officers begging for American money, British propagandists--a
most unlikely crowd--dramatic critics, shipbuilders, and the society of
New York suburbs between Mamaroneck and Greenwich, Connecticut. At
dinner-parties and evening receptions I met these different actors in
the great drama of American life, and found them, in that time of
armistice, desperately earnest about the problems of peace, intrigued to
the point of passion about the policy of President Wilson, divided
hopelessly in ideals and convictions, so that husbands and wives had to
declare a No Man's Land between their conflicting views, and looking
forward to the future with profound uneasiness because of the threat to
the "splendid isolation" of the Monroe Doctrine--they saw it crumbling
away from them--and because (more alarming still) they heard from afar
the first rumblings of a terrific storm between capital and labor. They
spoke of these things frankly, with an evident sincerity and with a fine
gravity--women as well as men, young girls as fearlessly and
intelligently as bald-headed business men. Many of them deplored the
late entry of the United States into the war, because they believed
their people would have gained by longer sacrifice. With all their pride
in the valor of their men, not one of them in my hearing used a braggart
word, or claimed too great a share in the honor of victory. There was
fear among them that their President was abandoning principles of vital
import to their country, but no single man or woman I met spoke
selfishly of America's commercial or political interest, and among all
the people with whom I came in touch there was a deep sense of
responsibility and a desire to help the world forward by wise action on
the part of the United States. Their trouble was that they lacked clear
guidance, and were groping blindly about for the right thing to do, in
a practical, common-sense way. I had serious conversations in those
assemblies, until my head ached, but they were not without a lighter
side, and I was often startled by the eager way in which American
middle-class society abandons the set etiquette of an evening party for
charades, a fox-trot (with the carpets thrown back), a game of "twenty
questions," or a riot of laughter between a cocktail and a highball. At
those hours the youth of America was revealed. Its society is not so old
as our tired, saddened people of Europe, who look back with melancholy
upon the four years in which their young men perished, and forward
without great hope. The vitality of America has hardly been touched by
her sacrifice, and the heart of America is high.



III

THINGS I LIKE IN THE UNITED STATES


Some Englishmen, I am told, go to the United States with a spirit of
criticism, and search round for things that seem to them objectionable,
taking no pains to conceal their hostile point of view. They are so
hopelessly insular that they resent any little differences in social
custom between American and English life, and sum up their annoyance by
saying, "We don't do that sort of thing in England!" Well, that seems to
me a foolish way of approach to any country, and the reason why some
types of Englishmen are so unpopular in France, Italy, and other
countries, where they go about regarding "the natives," as they call
them, with arrogance in their eyes, and talk, as an English officer, not
of that type, expressed it to me, "as though they had bad smells at the
end of their noses." I am bound to say that during my visit to the
United States I found much more to admire than to criticize, and
perhaps because I was on the lookout for things to like rather than to
dislike I had one of the best times of my life--in some ways the very
best--and came away with respect, admiration, and gratitude for the
American people. There are so many things I like in their character and
way of life that I should be guilty of gushing if I put them all down,
but although I have no doubt they have many faults, like most people in
this world, I prefer to remember the pleasant, rather than the
unpleasant, qualities they possess, especially as they left the most
dominant impression on my mind.

I think every Englishman, however critical, would agree that he is
struck at once, on his first visit to America, by the clean, bright,
progressive spirit of life in the smaller towns beyond the turmoil of
New York. I have already described the sensational effect produced upon
one's imagination by that great city, and have given some glimpses of
various aspects of the social life which I had the good fortune to see
with untiring interest; but I confess that the idea of living in New
York would affright me because of its wear and tear upon the nerves, and
I think that the "commuters" who dwell in the suburbs have good sense
and better luck. The realities of America--the average idea, the
middle-class home, the domestic qualities upon which a nation is
built--are to be found more deeply rooted in the suburbs and smaller
towns than in the whirligig of Manhattan Island, to which a million and
a half people, I am told, come every day, and from which, after business
or pleasure, they go away. To me there was something very attractive in
the construction of such places as Rye, Port Chester, Greenwich, and
Stamford, an hour away from New York, and many other townships of
similar size in other parts of the United States. I liked the style of
their houses, those neat buildings of wood with overlapping shingles,
and wide porches and verandas where people may sit out on summer days,
with shelter from the sun; and I liked especially the old Colonial type
of house, as I think it is called, with a tall white pillar on each side
of its portico, and well-proportioned windows, so that the rooms have
plenty of light, and as much air as the central-heating system
permits--and that is not much. To English eyes accustomed to dingy brick
houses in the suburbs of big cities, to the dreary squalor of some new
little town which straggles around a filthy railway station, with
refuse-heaps in undeveloped fields, and a half-finished "High Street,"
where a sweetstuff-shop, a stationer, and an estate agent establish
themselves in the gloomy hope of business, these American villages look
wonderfully clean, bright, and pleasant! I noticed that in each one of
them there were five institutions in which the spirit of the community
was revealed--the bank, the post-office, the school, the church, and the
picture-palace. The bank is generally the handsomest building in the
place, with a definite attempt to give it some dignity of architecture
and richness of decoration. Inside it has marble pillars and panels,
brass railings at the receipt of custom, a brightly burnished mechanism
for locking up the safe, a tiled floor of spotless cleanliness. The
local tradesman feels secure in putting his money in such a place of
dignity, the local lady likes to come here in the morning (unless she
has overdrawn her account) for a chat with the bank manager or one of
his gentlemanly assistants. It is a social rendezvous dedicated to the
spirit of success, and the bank manager, who knows the private business
and the social adventures of his clients, is in a position of
confidence and esteem. He is pleased to shake the finger-tips of a lady
through the brass railings; while she is pleased to ask him, "How do you
like my new hat?" and laughs when, with grave eyes, he expresses
sympathy with her husband. "Twenty years ago he was serving behind the
counter in a dry-goods store. Now he has a million dollars to his
credit." Everybody brightens at this story of success. The fact that a
man starts as a butcher-boy or a bell-boy is all in his favor in social
prestige. There is no snobbishness, contemptuous of humble origin, and I
found a spirit of good-natured democracy among the people I watched in
the local bank.

[Illustration: THE SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE OF AN AMERICAN POST-OFFICE]

Competing with the bank in architectural dignity is the village
post-office, generally of white stone, or wood, with the local Roll of
Honor on the green outside, and, inside, a number of picture-posters
calling to the patriotism of the American people to support the Liberty
Loan--the fifth when I was there. Small boys at the counter are buying
thrift stamps. Chauffeurs who have driven down from country houses are
collecting the letters of the family from lockers, with private keys.
College girls are exchanging confidences at the counters. I liked the
social atmosphere of an American post-office. I seemed to see a visible
friendliness here between the state and the people. Then there is the
school, and I must say that I was overwhelmed with admiration for the
American system of education and for the buildings in which it is given.
England lags a long way behind here, with its old-fashioned hotch-potch
of elementary schools, church schools, "academies for young
gentlemen"--the breeding-grounds of snobs--grammar-schools, and private,
second-rate colleges; all of which complications are swept away by the
clean simplicity of the American state school, to which boys of every
class may go without being handicapped by the caste system which is the
curse of England. If the school to which I went at Montclair, or another
at Elizabeth, New Jersey, or another at Toledo, is at all typical of
American schools generally (and I think that is so), I take my hat off
to the educational authorities of America and to the spirit of the
people which inspires them.

The school at Montclair was, I remember, a handsome building like one of
the English colleges for women at Oxford or Cambridge, with admirably
designed rooms, light, airy, and beautiful with their polished paneling.
The lecture-hall was a spacious place holding, I suppose, nearly a
thousand people, and I was astonished at its proportions when I had my
first glimpse of it before lecturing, under the guidance of the
head-mistress and some of the ladies on her committee. Those women
impressed me as being wise and broad-minded souls, not shut up in narrow
educational theories, but with a knowledge of life and human nature, and
a keen enthusiasm for their work. At Toledo I saw the best type of
provincial school, and certainly as an architectural model it was beyond
all words of praise, built in what we call the Tudor style, in red
brick, ivy covered, with long oriel windows, so that it lifts up the
tone of the whole town because of its dignity and beauty. Here, too, was
a fine lecture-hall, easily convertible into a theater, with suitable
scenery for any school play. It was a committee of boys who organized
the lectures, and one of them acted as my guide over the school-building
and showed me, among other educational arrangements, a charming little
flat, or apartment-house, completely furnished in every detail in
bedroom, sitting-room, and kitchen, for the training of girls in
domestic service, cookery, and the decoration of the home. Here, as in
many other things, the American mind had reached out to an ideal and
linked it up with practical method. Equally good were the workshops
where the boys are trained in carpentry and mechanics.... Well, all that
kind of thing makes for greatness in a nation. The American people are
not, I think, better educated than English people in the actual
storing-up of knowledge, but they are educated in better physical
conditions, with a brighter atmosphere around them in their class-rooms
and in their playgrounds, and with a keener appreciation in the social
influences surrounding the schoolhouse of the inherent right of every
American boy and girl to have equal opportunities along the road to
knowledge and success. It is this sense of opportunity, and the entire
absence of snob privileges, which I liked best in these glimpses I
gained of young America....

I mentioned another institution which occupies a prominent place in
every American township. That is the picture-palace. It is impossible to
overrate the influence upon the minds and characters of the people
which is exercised by that house of assembly. It has become part of the
life of the American people more essentially than we know it in England,
though it has spread with a mushroom growth in English towns and
villages. But in the United States the picture-palace and "The Silent
Drama," as they call it, are more elaborately organized, and the motion
pictures are produced with an amount of energy, imagination, and wealth
which are far in excess of the similar efforts in England. A visit to
the "movies" is the afternoon or evening recreation of every class and
age of American citizenship. It is a democratic habit from which few
escape. Outside the picture-palace in a little town like Stamford one
sees a number of expensive motor-cars drawn up while the lady of leisure
gets her daily dose of "romance" and while her chauffeur, in the
gallery, watches scenes of high life with the cynical knowledge of a
looker-on. Nursemaids alleviate the boredom of domestic service by
taking their children to see the pictures for an hour or two, and small
boys and girls, with candy or chewing-gum to keep them quiet, puzzle out
the meaning of marvelous melodrama, wonder why lovers do such strange
things in their adventures on the way to marriage; and they watch with
curiosity and surprise the ghastly grimaces of "close-up" heroines in
contortions of amorous despair, and the heaving breasts, the rolling
eyes, and the sickly smiles of padded heroes, who are suffering,
temporarily, from thwarted affection. The history of the world is
ransacked for thrilling dramas, and an American audience watches all the
riotous splendor and licentiousness of Babylon or ancient Rome, while
Theda Bara, the Movie Queen, writhes in amorous ecstasy, or poisons
innumerable lovers, or stings herself to death with serpents. Royalists
and Roundheads, Pilgrim Fathers and New England witches, the French
Revolution and the American Civil War, are phases of history which
provide endless pictures of "soul-stirring interest"; but more popular
are domestic dramas of modern life, in which the luxury of our present
civilization, as it is imagined and exaggerated by the movie managers,
reveal to simple folk the wickedness of wealthy villains, the dangers of
innocent girlhood, and the appalling adventures of psychology into which
human nature is led when "love" takes possession of the heart. It is
impossible to say what effect all that has upon the mentality of
America. The utter falsity of it all, the treacly sentiment of the
"love" episodes, and the flaming vice of the vicious, would have a
perverting influence on public imagination if it were taken seriously.
But I suppose that the common sense of American people reacts against
the absurdity of these melodramas after yielding to the sensation of
them. Yet I met one lady who told me she goes every free afternoon to
one of these entertainments, with a deliberate choice of film-plays
depicting passion and caveman stuff "in order to get a thrill before
dinner to relieve the boredom of domesticity." That seems to me as bad
as the drug habit, and must in the long run sap the moral and spiritual
foundations of a woman's soul. Fortunately, there is a tendency now
among the "movie merchants" to employ good authors who will provide them
with simple and natural plots, and in any case there is always Charlie
Chaplin for laughter, and pictures of scenery and animal life, and the
news of the week depicting scenes of current history in all parts of the
world. It would be absurd as well as impossible to abolish the
film-picture as an influence in American life, and I dare say that,
balancing good with bad, the former tips the swing, because of an
immense source of relaxation and entertainment provided by the
picture-palace in small communities.

What appealed to me more in my brief study of American social life
outside New York was another popular institution known as the roadside
inn. In some way it is a conscious endeavor to get back to the
simplicity and good cheer of old-fashioned times, when the grandfathers
and grandmothers of the present generation used to get down from their
coaches when the horses were changed, or the snowdrifts were deep, and
go gladly to the warmth of a log fire, in a wayside hostelry, while
orders were given for a dinner of roast duck, and a bowl of punch was
brewed by the ruddy-faced innkeeper. It is a tradition which is kept
fresh in the imagination of modern Americans by the genius of Charles
Dickens, Washington Irving, and a host of writers and painters who
reproduce the atmosphere of English life in the days of coaching,
highwaymen, romance, and roast beef. The spirit of Charles Dickens is
carefully suggested to all wayfarers in one roadside inn I visited,
about an hour away from New York, and called "The Pickwick Inn." It is
built in the style of Tudor England, with wooden beams showing through
its brickwork and windows divided into little leaded panes, and paneled
rooms furnished with wooden settles and gate-leg tables. Colored prints
depicting scenes in the immortal history of Mr. Pickwick brighten the
walls within. Outside there swings a sign-board such as one sees still
outside country inns standing on the edge of village greens in England.
I found it a pleasant place, where one could talk better with a friend
than in a gilded restaurant of New York, with a jazz band smiting one's
eardrums; and the company there was interesting. In spite of the
departure of coaching days, which gave life and bustle to the old inns
of the past, the motor-car brings travelers and a touch of romance to
these modern substitutes. There were several cars outside the
"Pickwick," and I guessed by the look of the party within that they had
come from New York for a country outing, a simple meal, and private
conversation. "Better a dinner of herbs where love is--" Under the
portrait of Mr. Pickwick in a quiet corner of one of the old-fashioned
rooms a young man and woman sat with their elbows on the table and
their chins propped in the palms of their hands, and their faces not so
far away that they had any need to shout to each other the confidences
which made both pairs of eyes remarkably bright. The young man was one
of those square-shouldered, clean-shaven, gray-eyed fellows whom I came
to know as a type on the roads to Amiens and Albert. The girl had put
her dust-cloak over the back of her chair, but still wore a veil tied
round her hat and under her chin--a little pointed chin dug firmly into
her palm, and modeled with the same delicacy of line as the lips about
which a little smile wavered, and as the nose which kept its distance,
with perfect discretion, from that of the young man opposite, so that
the waiter might have slipped a menu-card between them. She had a string
of pearls round her neck which would certainly have been the first prize
of any highwayman holding up her great-grandmamma's coach, and judging
from other little signs of luxury as it is revealed in Fifth Avenue, I
felt certain that the young lady did not live far from the heart of New
York and had command of its treasure-houses.... Two other groups in the
room, sitting at separate tables, belonged obviously to one party. They
were young people, for the most part, with one elderly lady whose white
hair and shrewd, smiling eyes made all things right with youthful
adventure, and with one old fogy, bland of countenance and expansive in
the waistcoat line, who seemed to regard it as a privilege to pay for
the large appetites of the younger company. Anyhow he paid for at least
eight portions of chicken okra, followed by eight plates of roast turkey
and baked potatoes, and, not counting sundries, nine serves of deep-dish
pie. The ninth, unequal, share went, in spite of warnings, protests, and
ridicule from free-spoken companions, to a plump girl with a pigtail,
obviously home from college for a spell, who said: "I guess I sha'n't
die from overeating, though it's the way I'd choose if I had to quit. An
appetite is like love. Its dangers are exaggerated, and seldom fatal."
This speech, delivered in all solemnity, aroused a tumult of mirth from
several young women of grown-up appearance--at least they had advanced
beyond the pigtail stage--and under cover of this one of them
deliberately "made up" her face till it bloomed like a rose in June. In
another corner of the Pickwick Inn sat a lonely man whose appearance
interested me a good deal. He was a man of middle age, with black hair
turning white, and very dark, melancholy eyes in a pale, ascetic face. I
have seen his type many times in the Café de l'Odéon on the "Latin" side
of Paris, and I was surprised to find it in a roadside inn of the United
States. A friend of mine, watching the direction of my gaze, said, "Yes,
that is a remarkable man--one of the best-known architects in America,
and, among other things, the designer of the Victory decorations of New
York." He came over to our table and I had a talk with him--a strange
conversation, in which this man of art spoke mostly of war, from unusual
angles of thought. His idea seemed to me that peace is only a
preparation for war, and that war is not the abnormal thing which most
people think, but the normal, because it is the necessary conflict by
which human character and destiny are shaped. He seemed to think that
the psychology of the world had become twisted and weakened by too much
peace so that the sight of armless or legless men was horrifying,
whereas people should be accustomed to such sights and take them for
granted, because that, with all pain and suffering, is the price of
life. I disagreed with him profoundly, believing that war in ninety-nine
cases out of a hundred is unnecessary and due to the stupidities of
people who are doped by spell-words put upon them by their leaders; but
I was interested in getting this viewpoint from a man whose whole life
has been devoted to beauty. It seemed to me the strangest paradox.... A
roadside inn in the United States is a good place for the study of
psychology and social habits in America. One custom which happens here
during winter and summer evenings is a local dance given by some
inhabitant of the neighborhood who finds more spaciousness here for a
party of guests than in his own homestead. The rugs and chairs are put
away, and the floor is polished for dancing. Outside, the inn is
decorated with colored lamps and lanterns, and a bright light streams
through the leaded window-panes across the road from New York. The metal
of many machines sparkles in the shadow world beyond the lanterns.
Through the open windows, if the night is mild, comes the ragtime music
of a string band and the sound of women's laughter. Sometimes queer
figures, like ghosts of history, pass through the swing-doors, for it is
a fancy-dress dance in the inn, and there is a glimpse of Columbine in
her fluffy white skirt, with long white stockings, and with her hand on
the arm of a tall young Pierrot; while a lady of the court of Marie
Antoinette trips beside the figure of a scarlet Devil, and a little
Puritan girl of New England (two hundred years ago) passes in with
Monsieur Beaucaire in his white-satin coat and flowered waistcoat and
silk stockings above buckled shoes. I like the idea and the customs of
the roadside inn, for it helps to make human society sweet and friendly
in villages beyond the glare of America's great cities.

To study a people, however, one must see them in their homes, and I was
fortunate in having friends who took me into their home life. When I
went there it was at a time when American homes were excited and happy
after the armistice, and when the soldiers who had been "over there"
were coming back, with victory and honor. In many homes of the United
States, scattered far and wide, there was not happiness, but sorrow,
because in the victory march down Fifth Avenue there would be for some
of the onlookers one figure missing--the figure of some college boy who
had gone marching away with smiling eyes and a stiff upper lip, or the
figure of some middle-aged fellow who waved his hand to a group of small
children and one woman who turned to hide her tears. There were empty
chairs in the homesteads of the United States, and empty hearts on
Armistice Day--and afterward. But I did not see them, and I thought of
the many homes in England desolated by the appalling sacrifice of youth,
so that in every town, and in every street, there are houses out of
which all hope in life has gone, leaving behind a dreadful dreariness,
an incurable loneliness, mocking at Victory. There was one home I went
to where a mother of cheery babes waited for her man with an eager joy
she did not try to hide. The smallest babe had been born while he was
away, a boy baby with the gift of laughter from the fairy godmother; and
there was great excitement at the thought of the first interview between
father and son. All the community in the neighborhood of this house in
Westchester County took a personal interest in this meeting when "the
Major" should see his latest born, and when the wife should meet her
man again. They had kept his memory green and had cheered up the
loneliness of his wife by making a rendezvous of his house. She had
played up wonderfully, with a pluck that never failed, and a spirit of
comradeship to all her husband's friends, especially if he wore khaki
and was far from his own folk. One was always certain of meeting a merry
crowd at cocktail time. With some ceremony a party of friends were
conducted to the cellar to see how a careful housewife with a hospitable
husband got ahead of prohibition.... Then the Major came back, a little
overwhelmed by the warmth of his greeting from old friends, a little
dazed by the sharp contrast between war and peace, moved to his depths
by the first sight of Peter, his boy baby. One day at dinner he
described how he had heard the news of Peter in the war zone. He bought
a bottle of champagne to celebrate the event--it was the only bottle to
be had for love or money--and went round to the mess to call a toast.
There were many officers, and the champagne did not give them full
glasses, but in a sparkling drop or two they drank to the son of this
good officer and good comrade. I was glad to get a glimpse of that
American home and of the two small girls in it, who had the habit, which
I find pleasant among the children of America, of dropping a bob
courtesy to any grown-up visitor. The children of America have the
qualities of their nation, simplicity, common sense, and self-reliance.
They are not so bashful as English boys and girls, and they are free
from the little constraints of nursery etiquette which make so many
English children afraid to open their mouths. They are also free
entirely from that juvenile snobbishness which is still cultivated in
English society, where boys and girls of well-to-do parents are taught
to look down with contempt upon children of the poorer classes. I sat
down at table many mornings with a small boy and girl who were
representative, I have no doubt, of Young America in the making. The
boy, Dick, had an insatiable curiosity about the way things work in the
world, and about the make-up of the world itself. To satisfy that
curiosity he searched the _Children's Book of Knowledge_, the
encyclopedias in the library, and the brain of any likely person, such
as the Irish chauffeur and gardener, for scraps of useful information.
In games of "twenty questions," played across the luncheon-table, he
chose mountains in Asia, or rivers in Africa, or parts of complicated
engines, putting the company to shame by their ignorance of geography
and mechanics. For sheer personal pleasure he worked out sums in
arithmetic when he wakened early in the morning. His ambition is to be
an engineer, and he is already designing monster airplanes, and
electrical machines of fantastic purpose--like, I suppose, millions of
other small boys in America. The girl, aged eight, seemed to me the
miniature representative of all American girlhood, and for that reason
is a source of apprehension to her mother, who has to camouflage her
amusement at this mite's audacity, and looks forward with a thrill of
anxiety and delight to the time when Joan will put her hair up and play
hell with boys' hearts. Joan has big, wondering eyes, which she already
uses for cajolery and blandishment. Joan has a sense of humor which is
alarming in an elf of her size. Joan can tell the most almighty
"whoppers," with an air of innocence which would deceive an angel. Joan
has a passionate temper when thwarted of her will, a haughty arrogance
of demeanor before which grown men quail, and a warm-hearted affection
for people who please her which exacts forgiveness of all naughtiness.
She dances for sheer joy of life, lives in imagination with fairies,
screams with desire at the sight of glittering jewels and fine feathers,
and weeps passionately at times because she is not old enough to go with
her mother to dinner in New York. In another ten years, when she goes to
college, there will be the deuce of a row in her rooms, and three years
later New York will be invaded by a pair of hazel eyes which will
complicate, still further, the adventure of life east and west of Fifth
Avenue. Those two young people go forth to school every morning, from a
country house in Connecticut, in a "flivver" driven by the Irish
chauffeur, with whom they are the best of friends. Now and again they
are allowed the use of the Cadillac car and spread themselves under the
rugs with an air of luxury and arrogance, redeemed by a wink from Dick,
as though to say, "What a game--this life!" and a sweep of Joan's
eyelashes conveying the information that a princess of the United States
is about to attend the educational establishment which she is pleased to
honor with her presence, and where she hopes to be extremely naughty
to-day, just to make things hum. This boy and girl are good and close
comrades between the times they pull each other's hair, and have a
profound respect for each other in spite of an intimate knowledge of
their respective frailties and sinfulness. Joan knows that Dick
invariably gets his sums right, whereas she invariably gets them wrong.
She knows that his truthfulness is impregnable and painful in its deadly
accuracy. She knows that his character is as solid as a rock and that he
is patient up to the point when by exasperation she asks for a bang on
the head, and gets it. Dick knows that Joan is more subtle in
imagination than he can ever hope to be, and that she can twist him
round her little finger when she sets out deliberately thereto, in order
to get the first use of the new toy which came to him on his birthday,
the pencil which he has just sharpened for his own drawing, or the
picture-book which he has just had as a school prize. "You know mother
says you mustn't be so terrible selfish," says Joan, in answer to
violent protests, and Dick knows that he must pay the price of peace. He
also knows that Joan loves him devotedly, pines for him when he is away
even for a little while, and admires his knowledge and efficiency with
undisguised hero-worship, except when she wants to queen it over him,
for the sake of his soul. I think of them in a little white house
perched on flower-covered rocks, within sight of the Sound through a
screen of birch trees. Inside the house there are some choice old bits
of English and Italian furniture bought by a lady who knows the real
from the false, and has a fine eye for the color of her hangings and her
chintz-covered chairs. On cool nights a log fire burns in a wide hearth,
and the electric lamps are turned out to show the soft light of tall fat
candles in wrought-iron torches each side of the hearthstone.
Galli-Curci sings from a gramophone between Hawaiian airs or the latest
ragtime; or the master of the house--a man of all the talents and the
heart of youth--strikes out plaintive little melodies made up "out of
his own head," as children say, on a rosewood piano, while the two
children play "Pollyanna" on the carpet, and their mother watches
through half-shut eyes the picture she has made of the room. It is a
pretty picture of an American interior, as a painter might see it....

In New York, as in London, it is the ambition of many people, I find, to
seek out a country cottage and get back to the "simple life" for a
spell. "A real old place" is the dream of the American business man who
has learned to love ancient things after a visit to Europe, or by a
sudden revolt against the modern side of civilization. The "real old
place" is not easy to find, but I met one couple who had found it not
more than thirty miles or so from Madison Square, yet in such a rural
and unfrequented spot that it seemed a world away. They had discovered
an old mill-house, built more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and
unchanged all that time except by the weathering of its beams and
panels, and the sinking of its brick floors, and the memories that are
stored up in every crack and crevice of that homestead where simple folk
wed and bred, worked and died, from one generation to another. The new
owners are simple folk, too, though not of the peasant class, and with
reverence and sound taste they decline to allow any architect to alter
the old structure of the house, but keep it just as it stands. In their
courtyard, on a Sunday afternoon, were several motor-cars, and in their
parlor a party of friends from New York who had come out to this little
old mill-house in the country, and expressed their ecstasy at its
quaint simplicity. Some of them invited themselves to supper, whereat
the lady of the mill-house laughed at them and said, "I guess you'll
have to be content with boiled beans and salad, because my man and I are
tired of the fatted calf and all the gross things of city life." To her
surprise there was a chorus of "Fine!" and the daintiest girl from New
York offered to do the washing-up. Through an open door in the parlor
there was a pretty view of another room up a flight of wooden stairs. In
such a room one might see the buxom ghost of some American Phoebe of
the farm, with bare arms and a low-necked bodice, coiling her hair at an
old mirror for the time when John should come a-courting after he had
brushed the straw from his hair....

I went into another country cottage, as old as this one and as simple as
this. It stands in a meadow somewhere in Sleepy Hollow, low lying by a
little stream that flows through its garden, but within quick reach, by
a stiff climb, through silver beeches and bracken, and over gray rocks
that crop through the soil, to hilltops from which one gazes over the
Hudson River and the Sound, and a wide stretch of wooded country with
little white towns in the valleys. Here in the cottage lives a New York
doctor and his wife, leading the simple life, not as a pose, but in
utter sincerity, because they have simplicity in their souls. Every
morning the doctor walks away from his cottage to a railway which takes
him off to the noisy city, and here until five of the evening he is busy
in healing the sufferers of civilization and stupidity--the people who
overeat themselves, the children who are too richly fed by foolish
mothers, business men whose nerves have broken down by worry and work
for the sake of ambition, society women wrecked in the chase of
pleasure, and little ones, rickety, blind, or diseased because of the
sins of their parents. The little doctor does not deal in medicine and
does not believe in it. He treats his patients according to his
philosophy of natural science, by which he gives their human nature a
chance of freeing itself from the poison that has tainted it and getting
back to normal self-healing action. He has devised a machine for playing
waves of electricity through his patients by means of which he breaks up
the clogging tissue of death in their cell life and regenerates the
health of the cell system. He has made some startling cures, and I
think the cheerful wisdom of the little man, his simple, childlike
heart, and the clean faith that shines out of his eyes are part of the
secret of his power. He goes back to his country cottage to tend his
flowers and to think deeper into the science of life up there on the
hilltop which looks across the Sound among the silvery beeches, where in
the spring there is a carpet of bluebells and in the autumn the fire of
red bracken. In spring and summer and autumn he rises early and plunges
into a pool behind the shelter of trees and bushes, and before dressing
runs up and down a stone pathway bordered by the flowers he has grown,
and after that dances a little to keep his spirit young.... I liked that
glimpse I had of the American doctor in Sleepy Hollow.

[Illustration: I LIKED THE GREETING OF THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR]

And I liked all the glimpses I had of American home life in the suburbs
of New York and in other townships of the United States. I liked the
white woodwork of the houses, and the bright sunlight that swept the sky
above them, and the gardens that grew without hedges. I liked the good
nature of the people, the healthiness of their outlook on life, their
hopefulness in the future, their self-reliance and their sincerity of
speech. I liked the children of America, and the college girls who
strolled in groups along the lanes, and the crowds who assembled in the
morning at the local station to begin a new day's work or a new day's
shopping in the big city at their journey's end. They had a keen and
vital look, and nodded to one another in a neighborly way as they bought
bulky papers from the bookstall and chewing-gum from the candy stall and
had their shoes shined with one eye on the ticket office. I liked the
greeting of the train conductor to all those people whose faces he knew
as familiar friends, and to whom he passed the time o' day with a
jesting word or two. I liked the social life of the American middle
classes, because it is based, for the most part, on honesty, a kindly
feeling toward mankind, and healthiness of mind and body. They are not
out to make trouble in the world, and unless somebody asks for it very
badly they are not inclined to interfere with other people's business.
The thing I liked best in the United States is the belief of its
citizens in the progress of mankind toward higher ideals of common
sense; and after the madness of a world at war it is good to find such
faith, however difficult to believe.



IV

AMERICA'S NEW PLACE IN THE WORLD


The United States of America has a new meaning in the world, and has
entered, by no desire of its own, into the great family of nations, as a
rich uncle whose authority and temper must be respected by those who
desire his influence in their family quarrels, difficulties, and
conditions of life. Before the war the United States was wonderfully
aloof from the peoples of Europe. The three thousand miles of Atlantic
Ocean made it seem enormously far away, and quite beyond the orbit of
those passionate politics which stirred European communities with Old
World hatred and modern rivalries. It was free from the fear which was
at the back of all European diplomacy and international intrigue--the
fear of great standing armies across artificial frontiers, the fear of
invasion, the fear of a modern European war in which nation against
nation would be at one another's throats, in a wild struggle for
self-preservation. America was still the New World, far away, to which
people went in a spirit of adventure, in search of fortune and liberty.
There was a chance of one, a certainty of the other, and it was this
certain gift which called to multitudes of men and women--Russians and
Russian Jews, Poles and Polish Jews, Czechs, and Bohemians, and Germans
of all kinds--to escape from the bondage which cramped their souls under
the oppression of their own governments, and to gain the freedom of the
Stars and Stripes. To the popular imagination of Europe, America was the
world's democratic paradise, where every man had equal opportunity and
rights, a living wage with a fair margin and the possibility of enormous
luck. A steady stream of youth flowed out from Ireland to New York, year
after year, and Irish peasants left behind in their hovels heard of
great doings by Pat and Mick, who had become the gentlemen entirely out
there in the States, and of Kathleen and Biddy, who were piling up the
dollars so fast that they could send some back to the old people and not
feel the loss of them at all, at all.

The internal resources of America were so vast and the development of
their own states so absorbed the energies of the people that there was
no need of international diplomacy and intrigue to capture new markets
of the world or to gain new territory for the possession of raw
material. The United States was self-centered and self-sufficient, and
the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine prohibiting foreign powers from any
colonizing within the boundaries of the Republic was developed in
popular imagination and tradition to a firm policy of self-isolation and
of non-interference by others. The American people had no interest,
politically, in the governments or affairs of other nations, and they
desired to be left alone, with a "Hands off!" their own sovereign power.
It was this reality of isolation which gave America immense advantages
as a republic and had a profound influence upon the psychology of her
citizens. Being aloof from the traditions of European peoples and from
their political entanglements and interdependence, the United States
could adopt a clear and straightforward policy of self-development on
industrial lines. Her diplomacy was as simple as a child's copy-book
maxim. Her ambassadors and ministers at European courts had no need of
casuistry or Machiavellian subtlety. They had an exceedingly interesting
and pleasant time reporting back the absurdities of European embassies,
the melodrama of European rivalries, the back-stairs influence at work
in secret treaties, the assassinations, riots, revolutions, and
political crises which from time to time convulsed various
countries--and the corrupt bargainings and jugglings between small
powers and great powers. The American representatives in Europe watched
all this as the greatest game on earth, but far away from the United
States, and without the slightest effect upon the destiny of their own
country, except when it excited Wall Street gamblers. American diplomats
were not weighted down by the fear of offending the susceptibilities of
Germany or France or Italy or Russia, nor were they asked to play off
one country against another, in order to maintain that delicate and evil
mechanism known as "the balance of power"--the uniting of armed bands
for self-defense or the means of aggression. The frontiers of America
were inviolate and the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards were not open to
sudden attack, like the boundaries between Germany and France, Turkey
and Bulgaria, Italy and Austria, where fear of invasion was the
under-current of all political and popular thought, and the motive power
of all national energy, to the detriment of social progress, because of
the crippling cost of standing armies and unproductive labor for the
material of war. Nationally, therefore, the United States of America was
in supreme luck because it could use its youth and resources with full
advantage, free from menace and beyond all rivalry.

The character of the people responded to this independence of the
Republic. The average American citizen, as far as I knew him, in Europe
before the war, had an amused contempt for many institutions and social
ideas which he observed in a continental tour. He was able to regard the
hotch-potch of European nationalities and traditions from an aloof and
judicial viewpoint. They seemed to him on the whole very silly. He could
not understand why an invisible line on a road should make people on
each side of the line hate each other desperately. He watched the march
past of troops in France or Germany, the saluting of generals, the
clicking of heels, the brilliant uniforms of officers, as a pageant
which was utterly out of date in its application to life, and as a
degradation of individual dignity. He did not link up the thriftiness of
the French peasant--the desperate hoarding of his _petit sou_--with the
old fear of invasion by German legions across the frontier, when the
peasant might see his little farm in flames and his harvest trampled
down by soldiers' boots. The American visitor observed the fuss made
when one king visited another, and read the false adulation of the royal
visitor, the insincere speeches at royal banquets, the list of
decorations conferred upon court flunkies, and laughed at the whole
absurdity, not seeing that it was all part of a bid for a new alliance
or a bribe for peace, or a mask of fear, until the time came when all
bids and bribes should be of no more avail, and the only masks worn were
to be gas-masks, when the rival nations should hack at one another in a
frenzy of slaughter. The American in Europe who came to have a look
'round was astonished at the old-fashioned ways of people--their
subservience to "caste" ideas, their allegiance to the divine right of
kings, as to the "Little Father" of the Russian people, and the "shining
armor" of the German Kaiser, and their apparent contentment with the
wide gulf between underpaid labor and privileged capital. He did not
realize that his own liberty of ideas and high rate of wage-earning were
due to citizenship in a country free from militarism and its crushing
taxation, and free also from hereditary customs upheld by the power of
the sword used in civil strife as well as in international conflict, by
the imperial governments of Russia, Germany, and other powers whose
social philosophy was no different, though less tyrannical in
expression. The American said, "I like Europe as a peep-show, and it's a
good place to spend money in; but we can teach you a few things in the
United States; one of them is equality, and another is opportunity." He
was right, and it was his luck. Because of those privileges many
pilgrims of fortune went to America from all the countries of Europe, in
a great tide of emigration, adopting American citizenship in most cases
soon after sighting the Statue of Liberty--"old Lib.," as I heard her
called. The United States received these foreigners in hundreds of
thousands and became "the melting-pot" of races. The melting process,
however, was not so rapid as some people imagined, and it was something
of a shock to the States to discover a few years before the war, and
with a deeper realization at the outbreak of war, that they had within
their boundaries enormous populations of foreign-born citizens, Germans,
Poles, Slavs of all kinds, Italians, and Austrians, who had not
assimilated American ideas, but kept their speech, customs, and national
sentiment. It was the vast foreign element which had to be converted to
the American outlook upon the world tragedy which opened in August,
1914. This mass of hostile or unwilling people had to be dragged into
action when America found that her isolation was broken, that she could
no longer stand aloof from the rest of mankind, nor be indifferent to
the fate of friendly nations menaced with destruction, nor endure a
series of outrages which flouted her own power, nor risk the world
supremacy of a military autocracy which, if triumphant in Europe, would
very soon dictate to the United States. It is the miracle of the Stars
and Stripes that when the American government conscripted all
able-bodied youth and raised a vast and well-trained army, and sent it
into the battlefields of France and Flanders, there was no civil
outbreak among those foreign-born citizens, and with absolute obedience
they took their places in the ranks, Germans to fight against their own
flesh and blood, because of allegiance to a state which had given them
liberty, provided they defended the ideals which belonged to the
state--in this case the hardest test of loyalty, not without tragedy and
agony and fear.

For the first time there was no liberty in the United States--no liberty
of private judgment, no liberty of action, no liberty of speech. The
state ruled with complete despotism over the lives of its citizens, not
tolerating any infringements of its orders, because the safety of the
state would be endangered unless victory were assured. That was an
enormous shock, I am sure, to the psychology of all Americans, even to
those most loyal to the state authority, and it has caused an entire
change in the mental attitude of all American citizens toward the
conditions and relationships of life, because that sense of utter
liberty they had before the war is limited now by the knowledge that at
any time the Republic of which they are citizens may call upon them for
life itself and for all service up to that of death, and that, whatever
their ideas should be, they may not refuse. In that way they have no
longer an advantage over Frenchmen, or Germans, or Russians, or
Italians, whom they pitied as men without liberty of souls or bodies.
That is to say, they have to make surrender to the state of all things
in the last resort, which is war--a law which many European peoples
learned to their cost, many times before, and which America learned once
in her own Civil War, but thought she could forget with other painful
old things in the lumber-room of history.

The people of the United States have learned many other things during
the last few years, when all the world has changed, and they stand now
at the parting of the ways, looking back on the things they knew which
they will never see again, and looking forward to the future, which is
still doubtful to them in its destiny. I went to them on a visit during
the period between armistice and peace, when mentally, I think, they
were in a transition stage, very conscious of this place at the
crossroads, and filled with grave anxiety, in spite of exultation at the
power of their armies and the valor of their men who had helped to gain
stupendous victory.

The things that had happened within the United States before and after
its declaration of war had stirred them with passionate and complicated
emotions. From the very outset of the Great War, long before the United
States was directly involved, large numbers of Americans of the old
stock, born of English, Irish, Scottish, or Dutch ancestry, were neutral
only by order and not at all in spirit. Their sentiment toward France,
based on the Lafayette tradition and their love of Paris and of French
literature and wit, made them hate the invasion of northern France and
eager to act as champions of the French people. Their old ties with
England, the bond of speech and of blood, made them put aside any minor
antagonisms which they had felt on account of old prejudice, and they
followed with deep sympathy and anxiety the progress of the heroic
struggle of British armies in the slaughter-fields. They were impatient
for America to get into the conflict against German aggression. As the
Germans became more ruthless of humane laws, more desperate in their
attacks upon non-combatant as well as military populations by sea and
air and land, these Americans became sick and fevered at the thought of
their own neutrality, and supported Colonel Roosevelt in his driving
influence to get the United States into the war. They became more and
more embittered with President Wilson, who adopted an academic view of
the jungle scenes in Europe, dissociated the German people from the
crimes of their war lords, and expounded a Christian philosophy of world
politics which seemed like cowardice and humiliation of American pride
to people stung to fury by German insults and outrages. These thoughts
were beginning to seethe like yeast throughout masses of American
people, especially in the East, but took a long time to reach and stir
the great West and were resisted by the mentality of foreign-born
populations, including the Jewish communities and the Irish. They were
averse to war, and took a detached view of the struggle in Europe, which
seemed to them too far away to matter to America. The German populations
had a natural sympathy for their own race, much as some of them detested
its militaristic ideals. There were, I imagine, also many intellectual
men, not dragged down by the apathy of the masses, to whom "the war"
seemed of less importance to the United States than the condition of the
crops or the local baseball match. They felt that President Wilson's
hesitations, long-drawn-out notes, and exalted pacifism were on nobler
lines of thought than the loud-mouthed jingoism and bloodthirsty
howlings of low-class newspapers and speakers.

The _Lusitania_ was sunk, and a cry of agony and wrath went up from many
hearts in the world at this new phase of war; but still the United
States stayed out; and many Americans lowered their heads with shame and
had a fire of indignation in their hearts because their President still
temporized. They believed that the American people would have rallied to
him as one man had he made that outrage the signal of war. They had no
patience with his careful letter-writing, his anxiety to act as a moral
mentor instead of as a leader of great armies in a fight against world
criminals.... At last Wilson was forced to act, even his caution being
overmastered by the urgent necessity of intervention on behalf of Great
Britain and France and Belgium, panting and bleeding from every pore
after three years of struggle; even his philosophy of aloofness being
borne down by acts of war which wounded American interests and
threatened American security. So the United States declared war,
gathered its youth into great training-camps, and launched into the
world struggle with slow but ever-increasing energy which swept the
people with a mighty whirlwind of emotion.

The American people as a whole did truly enter into war in the spirit of
crusaders. They sent out their sons as rescuers of stricken peoples
fighting desperately against criminal powers. They had no selfish
interests behind their sacrifice, and they did not understand that
defeat of the nations allied against Germany would inevitably menace
them with dire perils to their sovereign power, to their commercial
prosperity, and to their ideals of civilization. Those things were true,
but it was not because of them that the people of the United States were
uplifted by a wonderful exaltation and that they put their full strength
into preparing themselves for a long and bloody war. Every little home
was turned into a Red Cross factory. Every young man of pluck and pride
was eager to get the first call for active service in the field. Girls
took on men's jobs, old ladies knitted until their eyes were dim. Hard
business men gave away their dollars in bundles, denied themselves at
meal-time so that Europe should be fed, tried by some little sacrifice
to share the spirit of those who made offer of their lives. The
materialism of which America had been accused, not unjustly, was broken
through by a spiritual idealism which touched every class, and Americans
did not shrink from sacrifice, but asked for it as a privilege, and were
regretful that as a people they suffered so little in comparison with
those who had fought and agonized so long....

All this I heard when I went to America in the spring, between armistice
and peace, and with my own eyes and ears I saw and heard the proof of
it. Down Fifth Avenue I saw the march past of troops whom I had seen
before marching along the roads of war to Ypres and Amiens, when the
British army was hard pressed and glad to see these newcomers. In New
York clubs I met young American officers who had been training with
British staffs and battalions before they fought alongside British
troops. And in American homes I met women who were still waiting for
their men whom they had sent away with brave faces, hiding the fear in
their hearts, and now knew, with thankfulness, that they were safe.
Victory had come quickly after the entry of the American troops, but it
was only the low braggart who said, "We won the war--and taught the
English how to fight." The main body of educated people whom I met in
many American cities said, rather: "We were the last straw that broke
the camel's back. We were glad to share the victory, but we did not
suffer enough. We came in too late to take our full share of sacrifice."

At that time, after the armistice and when Mr. Wilson was in Europe at
the Peace Conference, the people I met were not so much buoyed up with
the sense of victory as perplexed and anxious about the new
responsibilities which they would be asked to fulfill. A tremendous
controversy raged round the President, who baffled them by his acts and
speeches and silences. When in an article which I wrote soon after my
landing I said I was "all for Wilson" I received an immense number of
letters "putting me wise" as to the failure of the President to gain the
confidence of the American people and their grievous apprehensions that
he was, out of personal vanity and with a stubborn, autocratic spirit,
bartering away the rights and liberties of the United States, without
the knowledge or support of the people, and involving them in European
entanglements which they were not prepared to accept. This antagonism to
the President was summed up clearly enough in some such words as those
that follow:

      Taft and Roosevelt quarreled; Wilson was born of it. Wilson is all
      there is to the Democratic party. He has had to dominate it; the
      brain of America is in the Republican camp. He refused to use this
      material when offered for the war. He would not allow Roosevelt to
      go to France and fight; he would not use General Wood, who was the
      "Lord Bobs" of this country in regard to preparedness. For the
      winning of the war we put party aside and the Congress gave Wilson
      unlimited power. (Lincoln put party aside and used the best he
      could get.) Now Mr. Wilson asks and gets very little advice. When
      he has a difficult question he secludes himself, except for
      Colonel House--and we know nothing about Colonel House. Mr. Wilson
      dominated America and no one objected; the war was being won. In
      the fall he saw, of course, victory, and was planning his trip
      abroad. He boldly asked for a Democratic Senate, which would give
      him control of the treaty-making power. He said, practically:
      "Everybody shows himself bigger than party. I will, too. All
      together now! But you prove it and give me a party Senate, not a
      Senate picked from the best brains of this America, but a
      Democratic Senate, so that I can have full power in the Peace
      Conference." The laugh that went up must have hit the stars, and
      we almost forgot the war to watch the election. Can you imagine
      Roosevelt in New York in this crisis? He held a monster meeting
      and said what he thought, through his teeth. "Unconditional
      surrender for Germany, no matter what it costs" (not idle
      words--Quentin's death in France had cost Roosevelt his famous
      boyishness of spirit), "and a Senate that will curb autocratic
      power in America." Then he told his hearers that they would not
      need a key to understand his speech. Now, power goes to people's
      heads. Mr. Wilson had changed. Time and again opposition in
      Congress failed. You would hear, "Wilson always wins." Always a
      dominating figure, he grew defiant, a trifle ruthless, heady. The
      American answer to Wilson was a Republican Senate, and the
      Senators were put there to balance him. When he decided to go to
      Europe he simply said he was going. He did not ask our approval,
      nor find out our wishes, nor even tell us what he was going to
      say, but did take over the cables and put them under government
      control. He made himself so inaccessible at that time that no one
      could get his ear. On his flying visit to New York he said that he
      returned to France to tell them that we backed him. Is that true?
      We don't know what we think yet. We haven't made up our minds. We
      will back him when he is frank and when we are convinced. We can't
      sign our souls away, all our wonderful heritages, without knowing
      all about it.... If we join a League of Nations, shall we prevent
      war? Or, if we join, shall we be absorbed and make the fight a
      bigger one?

This, I believe, is a fair statement of the views held by many educated
people in the United States at the time between armistice and peace. I
heard just such words in the City Club of New York, in the Union League
Club, from people in Boston and Philadelphia and Washington, and at many
dinner-tables where, after the preliminary courtesies of conversation,
there was a quick clash of opinion among the guests, husbands differing
from wives, brothers from sisters, and friends from friends, over the
personality and purpose of the President, and the practical
possibilities of a League of Nations. The defenders of the President
waived aside all personal issues and supported him ardently because they
believed that it was only by the application of his ideals, modified, no
doubt, by contact with the actual problems of European states, that a
new war more devastating to the world than the one just past could be
prevented, and that his obstinacy and singleness of purpose on behalf of
a League of Nations pointed him out as the Man of Destiny who would lead
humanity out of the jungle to a higher plane of civilized philosophy.

That was my own view of his mission and character, though now I think
he failed at the Peace Conference in carrying out the principles of his
own Fourteen Points, and weakened under the pressure of the governing
powers of France, Belgium, and England, who desired revenge as well as
reparation, and the death of German militarism under the heel of an
Allied militarism based on the old German philosophy of might. The
President failed largely because he insisted upon playing "a lone hand,"
and did not have the confidence of his country behind him, nor its
understanding of his purpose, while he himself wavered in his
principles.

America, during the time of my visit, was afraid of taking too strong a
lead in the resettlement of Europe. So far from wishing to "boss the
show," as some people suspected, most Americans had an unnatural
timidity, and one count of their charge against Wilson was his obstinacy
in his dealings with Lloyd George and Clemenceau. It was a consciousness
of ignorance about European problems which made the Americans draw back
from strong decisions, and above all it was the fear of being "dragged
in" to new wars, not of their concern, which made them deeply suspicious
of the League of Nations. In many conversations I found this fear the
dominant thought. "If you people want to fight each other again, you
will have to do without us," said American soldiers just back from the
front. "No more crusades for us!" said others. "American isolation--and
a plague on all your little nations!" said civilians as well as
soldiers. Bitter memories of French "economy" spoiled for American
soldiers the romance of the Lafayette tradition. "I lost my leg," said
one man, "for a country which charged for the trenches where we fought,
and for people who put up their prices three hundred per cent. when the
American armies came to rescue them. France can go to hell as far as I'm
concerned."... Nevertheless, it became more clear to thinking minds in
America that the days of "isolation" were gone, and that for good or
evil the United States is linked up by unbreakable bonds of interest and
responsibility with other great powers of the world. Never again can she
be indifferent to their fate. If another great convulsion happens in
Europe, American troops will again be there, quicker than before,
because her action in the last war and her share of the terms of peace
have made her responsible in honor for the safety of certain peoples
and the upholding of certain agreements. The Atlantic has shrunk in size
to a narrow strip of water and the sky is a corridor which will be
quickly traversed by aircraft before the next great war. But these
physical conditions which are changing by mechanical development,
altering the time-tables of traffic, are of no account compared with the
vast change that happened in the world when the Stars and Stripes
fluttered in the fields of France and Flanders, when the bodies of
America's heroic youth were laid to rest there under little white
crosses, and when the United States of America entered into an intimate
and enduring relationship with Great Britain and France.

The effect of this change is not yet apparent in its fullness. America
is still in a state of transition, watching, studying, thinking,
feeling, and talking herself into convictions which will alter the fate
of the world. I believe with all my heart and soul that America's closer
relationship with Europe will be all the better for Europe. I believe
that the spirit of the American people is essentially and unalterably
democratic, and that as far as their power goes it will be used against
the tyranny of military castes and attempted oppression of peoples. I
believe that the influence of this spirit, visible to me in many people
I met, will be of enormous benefit to England and France, because it
will be used as an arbitrating factor in the conflict which is bound to
come in both those countries between the old régime and the new. The
influence of America will be the determining power in the settlement of
Ireland on a basis of common sense free from the silly old fetishes of
historical enmities on both sides. It will intervene to give a chance of
life to the German race after they have paid the forfeit for their guilt
in the last war, and will, I am certain, react against the stupid
philosophy of enduring vengeance with its desire to make a slave-state
in Central Europe, which still animates bloody-minded men and women so
passionate of revenge that they are kindling the fires of another
terrible and devastating war. The United States of America is bound up
with the fate of Europe, but its people will still remain rather aloof
in mentality from the passions of European nations, and will be more
judicial in their judgment because of that. Instinctively, rather than
intellectually, Americans will act in behalf of democratic rights
against autocratic plots. They will not allow the Russian people to be
hounded back to the heels of grand dukes and under the lash of the
knout. They will give their support to the League of Nations not as a
machinery to stifle popular progress by a combination of governments,
but as a court for the reform of international laws and the safeguarding
of liberty. Europe will not be able to ignore the judgment of America.
That country is, as I said, the rich uncle whose temper they must
consult because of gratitude for favors to come--and because of wealth
and power in the world's markets.

America is at the threshold of her supreme destiny in the world. By her
action in the war, when for the first time her strength was revealed as
a mighty nation, full grown and conscious of power, she has attained the
highest place among the peoples, and her will shall prevail if it is
based upon justice and liberty. I believe that America's destiny will be
glorious for mankind, not because I think that the individual American
is a better, nobler, more spiritual being than the individual
Englishman, Frenchman, or Russian, but because I see, or think I see,
that this great country is inspired more than any other nation among
the big powers by the united, organized qualities of simple, commonplace
people, with kindness of heart, independence of spirit, and sincerity of
ideas, free from the old heritage of caste, snobbishness, militarism,
and fetish-worship, which still lingers among the Junkers of Europe.
They are a middle-class empire, untainted by imperial ambition or
ancient traditions of overlordship. They are governed by middle-class
sentiment. They put all problems of life to the test of that simplicity
which is found in middle-class homes, where neither anarchy is welcome
nor aristocratic privilege. America is the empire of the wage-earner,
where even her plutocrats have but little power over the independence of
the people. It is a nation of nobodies great with the power of the
common man and the plain sense that governs his way of life. Other
nations are still ruled by their "somebodies"--by their pomposities and
High Panjandrums. But it is the nobodies whose turn is coming in
history, and America is on their side. In that great federation of
United States I saw, even in a brief visit, possible dangers that may
spoil America's chance. I saw a luxury of wealth in New York and other
cities which may be a vicious canker in the soul of the people. I saw a
sullen discontent among wage-earners and home-coming soldiers because
too many people had an unfair share of wealth. I met American Junkers
who would use the military possibilities of the greatest army in the
world for imperialistic adventures and world dominance. I heard of
anarchy being whispered among foreign-born masses in American cities and
passed over to other laborers not of foreign origin. In the censorship
of news I saw the first and most ominous sign of government autocracy
desiring to work its will upon the people by keeping them in ignorance
and warping their opinions; and now and then I was conscious of an
intolerance of free thought which happened to conflict with popular
sentiment, as ruthless as in Russia during Czardom. I saw hatred based
on ignorance and the brute spirit of men inflamed by war. But these were
only accidental things, to be found wherever humanity is crowded, and
after my visit to America I came away with memories, which are still
strong in my heart, of a people filled with vital energy, kind in heart,
sincere and simple in their ways of thought and speech, idealistic in
emotion, practical in conduct, and democratic by faith and upbringing.
The soil of America is clean and strong and free; and the power that
comes out of it will, I think and hope and pray, be used to gain the
liberties of other nations, and to help forward the welfare of the human
family.



V

WHAT ENGLAND THINKS OF AMERICA


The title I have chosen for this chapter is indiscreet, and, as some
readers may think, misleading. At least it needs this explanation--that
there is no absolute point of view in England about the United States.
"England" does not think (a statement not intended to be humorous at the
expense of my own people) any more than any nation may be said to think
in a single unanimous way about any subject under the sun. England is a
collection of individuals and groups of individuals, each with different
points of view or shades of view, based upon certain ideals and
knowledge, or upon passion, ignorance, elementary common sense, or
elementary stupidity, like the United States and every country on earth.

It would convey an utterly false impression to analyze and expound the
opinions of one such class, or to give as a general truth a few
individual opinions. One can only get at something like the truth by
following the drift of current thought, by contrasting national
characteristics, and by striking a balance between extremes of thought.
It is that which I propose to do in this chapter, frankly, and without
fear of giving offense, because to my mind insincerity on a subject like
this does more harm than good.

I will not disguise, therefore, at the outset, that after the armistice
which followed the Great War huge numbers of people in England became
annoyed, bitter, and unfriendly to the United States. The causes of that
unkindness of sentiment were to some extent natural and inevitable,
owing to the state of mind in England at that time. They had their
foundations in the patriotism and emotion of a people who had just
emerged from the crudest ordeal which had ever called to their endurance
in history. When American soldiers, sailors, politicians, and patriots
said, "Well, boys, we won the war!" which, in their enthusiasm for great
achievements, they could hardly avoid saying at public banquets or
welcomes home, where every word is not measured to the sensibilities of
other people or to the exact truth, English folk were hurt. They were
not only hurt, but they were angry. Mothers of boys in mean streets, or
rural villages, or great mansions, reading these words in newspapers
which gave them irritating prominence, said, "So they think that we did
nothing in the years before they came to France!" and some mothers
thought of the boys who had died in 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, and they
hated the thought that Americans should claim the victory which so many
English, Scottish, Irish, Canadians, Australians, New-Zealanders,
South-Africans, and French had gained most of all by long-suffering,
immense sacrifice, and hideous losses.

They did not know, though I for one tried to tell them, that all over
the United States American people did not forget, even in their
justified enthusiasm for the valor of their own men and the immense
power they had prepared to hurl against the enemy, that France and
England had borne the brunt of the war in the long years when Germany
was at her strongest.

A friend of mine--an English officer--was in a New York hotel on
Armistice Night, when emotion and patriotic enthusiasm were high--and
hot. A young American mounted a chair, waving the Stars and Stripes. He
used the good old phrase: "Well, boys, we won the war! The enemy fell to
pieces as soon as the doughboys came along. England and France could not
do the trick without us. We taught 'em how to fight and how to win!"

My friend smiled, sat tight, and said nothing. He remembered a million
dead in British ranks, untold and unrecorded heroism, the first French
victory of the Marne, the years of epic fighting when French and British
troops had hurled themselves against the German lines and strained his
war-machine. But it was Armistice Night, and in New York, and the
"Yanks" had done jolly well, and they had a right to jubilation for
their share in victory. Let the boy shout, and good luck to him. But an
American rose from his chair and pushed his way toward my friend.

"I'm ashamed to hear such rant before British and French officers," he
said, holding out his hand. "We know that our share is not as great as
yours, within a thousand miles."

Those were chivalrous words. They represented the conviction, I am sure,
of millions of Americans of the more thoughtful type, who would not
allow themselves to be swept away beyond the just merits of their
national achievements, even by the fervor of the moment.

But in England people only knew the boast and not the modesty. Because
some Americans claimed too much, the English of the lower and less
intelligent classes belittled the real share of victory which belonged
to America, and became resentful. It was so in France as in England. It
was lamentable, but almost unavoidable, and when this resentment and
this sullen denial of American victory became known in the United
States, passed over the wires by newspaper correspondents, it naturally
aroused counter-action, equal bitterness, and then we were in a vicious
circle, abominable in its effect upon mutual understanding and liking.

All that, however, was limited to the masses, for the most part
certainly, and was only used as poison propaganda by the gutter press on
both sides of the Atlantic. Educated people in both countries understood
the folly and squalor of that stuff, and discounted it accordingly.

What was more serious in its effect upon the intelligent classes was
the refusal of the Senate to ratify the Peace Treaty and its repudiation
of President Wilson's authority. I have already dealt in previous
writings with that aspect of affairs, and have tried to prove my
understanding of the American view. But there is also an English view,
which Americans should know and understand.

At the time I am writing this chapter, and for some months previously,
England has been irritated with the United States because of a sense of
having been "let down" over the Peace Treaty and the League of Nations
by American action. I think that irritation has been to some extent
justified. When President Wilson came to London he received, as I have
told elsewhere, the most enthusiastic and triumphant ovation that has
ever been given to a foreign visitor by the population of that great old
city. The cheers that rose in storms about him were shouted not only
because his personality seemed to us then to have the biggest and most
hopeful qualities of leadership in the world, but because he was, as we
thought, the authorized representative of the United States, to whom,
through him, we gave homage. It was only months afterward, when the
Peace Treaty had been signed and when the League of Nations (Wilson's
child) had been established, that we were told that Wilson was not the
authorized representative of the United States, that the American Senate
did not recognize his authority to pledge the country to the terms of
the treaty, and that the signature to the document was not worth ten
cents. That made us look pretty foolish. It made France and Italy and
other powers, who had yielded in many of their demands in order to
satisfy President Wilson's principles, feel pretty mad. It made a
laughingstock of the new-born League of Nations. It was the most severe
blow to the prospects of world peace and reconstruction. In England, as
I know, there were vast numbers of people who regarded the Peace Treaty
as one of the most clumsy, illogical, and dangerous documents ever drawn
up by a body of diplomats. I am one of those who think so. But that has
nothing to do with the refusal of the Senate to acknowledge Wilson's
signature.

The character of the clauses which created a series of international
blunders leading inevitably to new wars unless they are altered during
the next decade was not the cause of the Senate's "reservations." The
American Senators did not seem to be worried about that aspect of the
treaty. Their only worry was to safeguard the United States from any
responsibility in Europe, and to protect their own traditional powers
against an autocratic President. However right they may have been, it
must at least be acknowledged by every broad-minded American that we in
Europe were put completely "into the cart" by this action, and had some
excuse for annoyance. All this is now past history, and no doubt before
this book is published many other things will have happened as a
consequence of the events which followed so rapidly upon the Peace of
Versailles, so that what I am now writing will read like historical
reminiscence. But it will always remain a painful chapter, and it will
only be by mutual forbearance and the most determined efforts of people
of good will on both sides of the Atlantic that the growth of a most
lamentable misunderstanding between our two peoples in consequence of
those unfortunate episodes will be prevented.

Another cause of popular discontent with the United States was the
rather abrupt statement of Mr. Carter Glass, Secretary of the Treasury,
that the United States would not grant any more loans to Europe so long
as she failed to readjust her financial situation by necessary taxation,
economy, and production.

The general (and in my opinion unjustified) anger aroused by this
statement was expressed by a cartoon in _Punch_ called "Another
Reservation." It was a picture of a very sinister-looking Uncle Sam
turning his back upon a starving woman and child who appeal to his
charity, and he says: "Very sad case. But I'm afraid she ain't trying."

Mr. Punch is a formidable person in England, and by his barbed wit may
destroy any public man or writing man who lays himself open to ridicule,
but I ventured to risk that by denouncing the cartoon as unjust and
unfair in spirit and fact. I pointed out that since the beginning of the
war the United States had shown an immense, untiring, and inexhaustible
generosity toward the suffering peoples of Europe, and reminded England
how under Mr. Hoover's organization the American Relief Committee had
fed the Belgian and French populations behind the German lines, and how
afterward they had poured food into Poland, Serbia, Austria, and other
starving countries. That challenge I made against Mr. Punch was
supported by large numbers of English people who wrote to me expressing
their agreement and their gratitude to America. They deplored the spirit
of the cartoon and the evil nature of so many attacks in low-class
journals of England against the United States, whose own gutter press
was at the same time publishing most scurrilous abuse of us. But among
the letters I received was one from an American lady which I will quote
now, because it startled me at the time, and provides, in spite of its
bitterness, some slight excuse for the criticism which was aroused in
England at the time. If an American could feel like that, scourging her
own people too much (as I think), it is more pardonable that English
sentiment should have been a little ruffled by America's threat to
abandon Europe.

      I only wish with all my heart [she wrote] that the _Punch_ cartoon
      is wholly undeserved, or that your kind "apologia" is wholly
      deserved. I have never been "too proud to fight," but a great deal
      too proud to wear laurels I haven't earned. Personally, I think
      the drubbing we are getting is wholesome and likely to do good. We
      have been given praise _ad nauseam_, and, to be honest, you can
      never compete with us on that ground. We can praise ourselves in
      terms that would silence any competitors....

      I wish, too, that I could believe that the "beggars from Europe"
      had either their hats or their bags stuffed with dollars. I'm
      afraid you have spoken to the Americans, not to the beggars. I was
      one myself. I went home in April, prouder of my country than I had
      ever been, jealous of its good repute, and painfully anxious that
      it should live up to its reputation. I fear I found that people
      were not only tired of generosity, but wholly indifferent to the
      impressions being so widely circulated in the press--that France
      had been guilty of every form of petty ingratitude, that the
      atrocities of Great Britain in Ireland outdid the Germans in
      Belgium and France. A minority everywhere was struggling against
      the tide, with dignity, and the generosity I had so securely
      counted on from my own people. But the collections being made for
      the Serbians, for instance, were despairingly small. Belgian
      Relief had been turned into Serbian Relief groups, and from New
      York to California I heard the same tale--and, alas, experienced
      it--people were tired of giving, tired of the war. In New York I
      was invited to speak before a well-known Women's Club--I was "a
      guest of honor." I accepted, and spoke for ten minutes, and a
      woman at a table near by begged me to take up an immediate
      contribution. I was not at all anxious to do so, for it seemed a
      very base advantage to take of a luncheon invitation, so I
      referred her to the president. A contribution was taken up by a
      small group of women, all fashionably dressed, with pearl or
      "near-pearl," and the result was exactly $19.40. As there were
      between 200 and 300 women present in the ballroom, I was
      inexpressibly shocked, and sternly suggested that the president
      should announce the sum for which I should have to account, and
      her speech was mildly applauded. All through my trip I felt
      bewilderment. I had just come from Belgium and France, and the
      contrast oppressed me. I had the saddest kind of disillusionment,
      relieved by the most beautiful instances of charity and
      unselfishness.

      Even in regard to the Relief of Belgium too much stress is laid on
      our generosity and a false impression has gone abroad--an
      impression nothing can ever eradicate. The organization of the
      B. R. F. was American, but Mr. Hoover never failed to underline how
      much of the fund came from Great Britain and Canada. In fact, the
      Belgian women embroidered their touching little phrases of
      gratitude to the Americans, as I myself saw, on _Canadian_ flour
      sacks. During the first year or so the contributions of Americans
      were wholly incommensurate with our wealth and prosperity, and a
      letter from Gertrude Atherton a year after the war scourged us for
      our indifference even then.

      Mr. Balfour's revelation that Great Britain had contributed
      £35,000,000 toward the relief of Austria, etc., made my heart go
      down still farther. I have tried to believe that my experience was
      due to something lacking in myself. People were so enchantingly
      kind, so ready to give me large and expensive lunches, dinners,
      teas--but they would not be induced to refrain from the lunches
      and contribute the cost of them toward my cause....

      I hope you will pardon this long effusion. Like most Americans who
      have served abroad I feel we came in too late, we failed to stay
      on the ground to clear up afterward, and now we are indulging in
      the most wicked propaganda against our late allies--France as well
      as England. Personally, I realize that if we had contributed
      twenty times as much I should still not feel we had done enough.
      If you were not so confirmed a friend of America, I could never
      write as I have done, but just because you reach such an enormous
      public, because your influence is so great, I am anxious that
      America should not be given undue praise--which she does not
      herself credit--and that the disastrous results of her policy (if
      we have one) should be printed clear for her to read and profit
      by.

That is a sincere, painful, and beautiful letter, and I think it ought
to be read in the United States, not because I indorse its charge
against America's lack of generosity--I cannot do that--but because it
exculpates England and France of unreasoning disappointment, and is also
the cry of a generous American soul, moved by the sufferings of Europe,
and eager that her people should help more, and not less, in the
reconstruction of the world. The English people did not take her view
that the Americans had not done enough or were tired of generosity. It
must be admitted by those who followed our press that, apart from two
gutter journals, there was a full recognition of what the United States
had done, and continual reminders that no policy would be tolerated
which did not have as its basis Anglo-American friendship.

Upon quite another level of argument is the criticism of American
psychology and political evolution expressed by various English writers
upon their return from visits to the United States, and a fairly close
acquaintance with the character of American democracy as it was revealed
during the war, and afterward. The judgment of these writers does not
affect public opinion, because it does not reach down to the masses. It
is confined rather to the student type of mind, and probably has
remained unnoticed by the average man and woman in the United States. It
is, however, very interesting because it seeks to forecast the future of
America as a world power and as a democracy. The chief charge leveled
against the intellectual tendency of the United States may be summed up
in one word, "intolerance." Men like George Bernard Shaw, J. A. Hobson,
and H. W. Massingham do not find in their study of the American
temperament or in the American form of government the sense of liberty
with which the people of the United States credit themselves, and with
which all republican democracies are credited by the proletariat in
European countries.

They seem inclined to believe, indeed, that America has less liberty in
the way of free opinion and free speech than the English under their
hereditary monarchy, and that the spirit of the people is harshly
intolerant of minorities and nonconforming individuals, or of any idea
contrary to the general popular opinion of the times. Some of these
critics see in the "Statue of Liberty" in New York Harbor a figure of
mockery behind which is individualism enchained by an autocratic
oligarchy and trampled underfoot by the intolerance of the masses. They
produce in proof of this not only the position of an American President,
with greater power over the legislature than any constitutional king,
but the mass violence of the majority in its refusal to admit any
difference of opinion with regard to war aims during the time of war
fever, and the tyrannical action of the Executive in its handling of
labor disputes and industrial leaders, during and after the war.

It is, I think, true that as soon as America entered the war there was
no liberty of opinion allowed in the United States. There was no
tolerance of "conscientious objectors" nor mercy toward people who from
religious motives, or intellectual crankiness, were antagonistic to the
use of armed might. People who did not subscribe to the Red Cross funds
were marked down, I am told, dismissed from their posts, and socially
ruined. Many episodes of that kind were reported, and startled the
advanced radicals in England who had regarded the United States as the
land of liberty. Americans may retort that we did not give gentle
treatment to our own "conscientious objectors," and that is true. Many
of them were put into prison and roughly handled, but on the other hand
there was a formal, though insincere, acknowledgment that even in time
of war there should be liberty of conscience, and a clause to that
effect was passed by Parliament. In spite also of the severity of
censorship, and the martial law that was enforced by the Defense of the
Realm Act, there was, I believe, a greater freedom of criticism allowed
to the press than would have been tolerated by the United States.
Periodicals like the _Nation_ and the _New Statesman_, even newspapers
like the _Daily Mail_ and the _Morning Post_, indulged in violent
criticism of the conduct of the war, the methods of the War Cabinet,
the action and military policy of leaders like Lord Kitchener, and the
failure of military campaigns in the Dardanelles and other places. No
breath of criticism against American leadership or generalship was
admitted to the American press, and their war correspondents were
censored with far greater severity than their English comrades, who were
permitted to describe, very fully, reverses as well as successes in the
fields of war.

What, however, has startled the advanced wing of English political
thought more than all that is the ruthless way in which the United
States government has dealt with labor disputes and labor leaders since
the war. The wholesale arrests and deportations of men accused of
revolutionary propaganda seem to these sympathizers with revolutionary
ideals as gross in their violation of liberty as the British
government's coercion of Ireland. These people believe that American
democracy has failed in the essential principle which alone justifies
democracy, a toleration of minorities of opinion and of the absolute
liberty of the individual within the law. They say that even in England
there is greater liberty, in spite of its mediæval structure. In Hyde
Park on Sunday morning one may hear speeches which would cause broken
heads and long terms of imprisonment if uttered in New York. Labor, they
say, would rise in instant and general revolt if any of their men were
treated with the tyranny which befalls labor leaders in the United
States.

To my mind a great deal of this criticism is due to a misconception of
the meaning of democracy. In England it was a tradition of liberal
thought that democracy meant not only the right of the people to govern
themselves, but the right of the individual or of any body of men to
express their disagreement with the policy of the state, or with the
majority opinion, or with any idea which annoyed them in any way. But,
as we have seen by recent history, democratic rule does not mean
individual liberty. Democracy is government by the majority of the
people, and that majority will be less tolerant of dissent than
autocracy itself, which can often afford to give greater liberty of
expression to the minority because of its inherent strength. The Russian
Soviet government, which professes to be the most democratic form of
government in the world, is utterly intolerant of minorities. I suppose
there is less individual liberty in Russia than in any other country,
because disagreement with the state opinion is looked upon as treachery
to the majority rule. So in the United States, which is a real
democracy, in spite of the power of capital, there is less toleration of
eccentric notions than in England, especially when the majority of
Americans are overwhelmed by a general impulse of enthusiasm or passion,
such as happened when they went into the war. The people of the minority
are then regarded as enemies of the state, traitors to their
fellow-citizens, and outlaws. They are crushed accordingly by the weight
of mass opinion, which is ruthless and merciless, with more authority
and power than the decree of a king or the law of an aristocratic form
of government.

Although disagreeing to some extent with those who criticize the
American sense of liberty, I do believe that there is a danger in the
United States of an access of popular intolerance, and sudden gusts of
popular passion, which may sweep the country and lead to grave trouble.
Being the greatest democracy in the world, it is subject to the weakness
of democracy as well as endowed with its strength, and to my mind the
essential weakness of democracy is due to the unsteadiness and
feverishness of public opinion. When the impulse of public opinion
happens to be right it is the most splendid and vital force in the
world, and no obstacle can stand against it. The idealism of a people
attains almost supernatural force. But if it happens to be wrong it may
lead to national and world disaster.

In countries like England public opinion is still controlled and checked
by a system of heavy drag wheels, which is an intolerable nuisance when
one wants to get moving. But that system is very useful when there are
rocks ahead and the ship of state has to steer a careful course. Our
constitutional monarchy, our hereditary chamber composed of men who do
not hold their office by popular vote, our traditional and old-fashioned
school of diplomacy, our social castes dominated by those on top who are
conservative and cautious because of their possessions and privileges,
are abominably hindering to ardent souls who want quick progress, but
they are also a national safeguard against wild men. The British system
of government, and the social structure rising by a series of caste
gradations to the topmost ranks, are capable of tremendous reforms and
changes being made gradually, and without any violent convulsion or
break with tradition.

I am of opinion that this is not so in the United States, owing to the
greater pressure of mass emotion. If, owing to the effects of war
throughout the world, altering the economic conditions of life and the
psychology of peoples, there is a demand for radical alteration in the
conditions of labor within the United States, and for a different
distribution of wealth (as there is bound to be), it is, in the opinion
of many observers, almost certain that these changes will be effected
after a period of greater violence in America than in England. The clash
between capital and labor, they think, will be more direct and more
ruthless in its methods of conflict on both sides. It will not be eased
by the numerous differences of social class, shading off one into the
other, which one finds in a less democratic country like mine, where the
old aristocratic families and the country landowning families, below the
aristocracy, are bound up traditionally with the sentiment of the
agricultural population, and where the middle classes in the cities are
sympathetic on the one hand with the just demands of the wage-earning
crowd, and, on the other hand, by snobbishness, by romanticism, by
intellectual association, and by financial ambitions with the governing,
and moneyed, régime.

There are students of life in the United States who forecast two
possible ways of development in the future history of the American
people. Neither of them is pleasant to contemplate, and I hope that
neither is true, but I think there is a shade of truth in them, and that
they are sufficiently possible to be considered seriously as dangers
ahead.

The first vision of these minor prophets (and gloomy souls) is a social
revolution in the United States on Bolshevik lines, leading through
civil strife between the forces of the wage-earning classes and the
profit-holding classes to anarchy as fierce, as wild, and as bloody as
that in Russia during the Reign of Terror.

They see Fifth Avenue swept by machine-gun fire, and its rich shops
sacked, and some of its skyscrapers rising in monstrous bonfires to lick
the sky with flames.

They see cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland in the hands of
revolutionary committees of workmen after wild scenes of pillage and mob
passion.

They see the rich daughters of millionaires stripped of their furs and
their pearls and roughly handled by hordes of angry men, hungry after
long strikes and lockouts, desperate because of a long and undecided
warfare with the strong and organized powers of law and of capital.

Their vision is rather hazy about the outcome of this imaginary civil
war, but of its immense, far-reaching anarchy they have no doubt, with
the certainty that prophets have until the progress of history proves
them to be false.

Let me say for myself that I do not pose as a prophet nor believe this
particular prophecy in its lurid details. But I do believe that there
may be considerable social strife in the United States for various
reasons. One reason which stares one in the face is the immense,
flaunting, and dangerous luxury of the wealthy classes in cities like
New York. It is provocative and challenging to masses of wage-earners
who find prices rising against them quicker than their wages rise, and
who wish not only for a greater share of the proceeds of their labor,
but also a larger control of the management and machinery of labor. The
fight, if it comes, is just as much for control as for profit, and
resistance on the part of capital will be fierce and ruthless on that
point.

American society--the high caste of millionaires and semi-millionaires,
and demi-semi-millionaires--is perhaps rather careless in its display of
wealth and in its open manifestations of luxury. The long, unending line
of automobiles that go crawling down Fifth Avenue and rushing down
Riverside Drive, on any evening of the year, revealing women all
aglitter with diamonds, with priceless furs round their white shoulders,
in gowns that have cost the year's income of a working family, has no
parallel in any capital of Europe. There is no such pageant of wealth in
London or Paris. In no capital is there such luxury as one finds in New
York hotels, mansions, and ballrooms. The evidence of money is
overwhelming and oppressive. The generosity of many of these wealthy
people, their own simplicity, good humor, and charm, are not safeguards
against the envy and the hatred of those who struggle hard for a living
wage and for a security in life which is harder still to get.

When I was in America I found a consciousness of this among the rich
people, with some of whom I came in touch. They were afraid of the
future. They saw trouble ahead, and they seemed anxious to build bridges
between the ranks of labor and their own class. The wisest among them
did not adopt the stiff-necked attitude of complete hostility to the
demands of labor for a more equal share of profit and of governance. One
or two men I met remembered the days when they were at the bottom of the
ladder, and said, "Those fellows are right.... I'm going half-way to
meet them."

If capital goes anything like half-way, there will be no bloody conflict
in the United States. But there will be revolution, not less radical
because not violent. That meeting half-way between capital and labor in
the United States would be the greatest revolution the modern world has
seen.

That, then, is one of the ways in which English observers see the future
of the United States. The other way they suggest would be a great
calamity for the world. It is the way of militarism--a most grisly
thought!

It is argued by those who take this line of prophecy that democracy is
no enemy of war. On the contrary, they say, a democracy like that of the
United States, virile, easily moved to emotion, passionate, sure of its
strength, jealous of its honor, and quick to resent any fancied insult,
is more liable to catch the war fever than nations controlled by
cautious diplomats and by hereditary rulers. It is generally believed
now that the Great War in Europe which ravaged so many countries was not
made by the peoples on either side, and that it did not happen until the
rival powers on top desired it to happen and pressed the buttons and
spoke the spell-words which called the armies to the colors. It is
probable, and almost certain, that it would not have happened at all if
the peoples had been left to themselves, if the decision of war and
peace had been in their hands, and if their passions had not been
artificially roused and educated. But that is no argument, some think,
against the warlike character of strong democracies. The ancient Greeks
were a great democracy, but they were the most ardent warriors of their
world, and fought for markets, sea supremacy, and racial prestige.

So some people believe that the United States may adopt a philosophy of
militarism challenging the sea-power of the British Empire, by adding
Mexico to her dominions, and by capturing the strategic points of the
world's trade routes. They see in the ease with which the United States
adopted military service in the late war and the rapid, efficient way in
which an immense army was raised and trained a menace to the future of
the world, because what was done once to crush the enemy of France and
England may be done again if France or England arouse the hostility of
the American people. The intense self-confidence of the Americans, their
latent contempt of European peoples, their quickness to take affront at
fancied slights worked up by an unscrupulous press, their consciousness
of the military power that was organized but only partially used in the
recent war, and their growing belief that they are a people destined to
take and hold the leadership of the world, constitute, in the opinion of
some nervous onlookers, a psychology which may lead the United States
into tremendous and terrible adventures. I have heard it stated by many
people not wholly insane that the next world war will be mainly a duel
between the United States and the British Empire.

They are not wholly insane, the people who say these things over the
dinner-table or in the club smoking-room, yet to my mind such opinions
verge on insanity. It is of course always possible that any nation may
lose all sense of reason and play the wild beast, as Germany did. It is
always possible that by some overwhelming popular passion any nation may
be stricken with war fever. But of all nations in the world I think the
people of the United States are least likely to behave in that way,
especially after their experience in the European war.

The men who went back were under no illusions as to the character of
modern warfare. They hated it. They had seen its devilishness. They were
convinced of its idiocy, and in every American home to which they
returned were propagandists against war as an argument or as a romance.
Apart from that, it is almost certain that militarism of an aggressive
kind is repugnant to the tradition and instinct of the American people.
They have no use for "shining armor" and all the old shibboleths of
war's pomp and pageantry which put a spell on European peoples. The
military tradition based on the falsity of war's "glory" is not in their
spirit or in their blood. They will fight for the safety of
civilization, as it was threatened in 1914, for the rescue of free
peoples menaced by brutal destruction, and they will fight, as all brave
people will fight, to safeguard their own women and children and
liberty.

But I do not believe that the American people will ever indulge in
aggressive warfare for the sake of imperial ambitions or for world
domination. Their spirit of adventure finds scope in higher ideals, in
the victories of science and commerce, in the organization of every-day
life, in the triumph of industry, in the development of the natural
sources of wealth which belong to their great country and their ardent
individuality. They believe in peace, if we may judge by their history
and tradition, and non-interference with the outside world. Their
hostility to the peace terms and to certain clauses in the League of
Nations was due to a deep-seated distrust of entanglements with foreign
troubles, jealousies, and rivalries, and the spirit of the United
States, so far from desiring "mandates" over great populations outside
the frontiers of its own people, harked back to the old faith in a
"splendid isolation" free from imperial responsibilities. The people
were perhaps too cautious and too reserved. They risked the chance they
had of reshaping the structure of human society to a higher level of
common sense and liberty. They made "reservations" which caused the
withdrawal of their representatives from the council-chamber of the
Allied nations. But that was due not merely, I think, to party politics
or the passionate rivalry of statesmen. Truly and instinctively, it was
due to the desire of the American people to draw back to their own
frontiers and to work out their own destiny in peace, neither
interfering nor being interfered with, according to their traditional
and popular policy.

Apart from individual theorists, of the "cranky" kind, the main body of
intellectual opinion in England, as far as I know it, looks to the
United States as the arbitrator of the world's destiny, and the leader
of the world's democracies, on peaceful and idealistic lines. There is a
conviction among many of us--not killed by the controversy over the
Peace Treaty--that the spirit of the American people as a whole is
guided by an innate common sense free from antiquated spell-words,
facing the facts of life shrewdly and honestly, and leaning always to
the side of popular liberty against all tyrannies of castes, dynasties,
and intolerance. Aloof from the historical enmities that still divide
the nations of Europe, yet not aloof in sympathy with the sufferings,
the strivings, and the sentiment of those peoples, the United States is
able to play the part of a reconciling power, in any league of nations,
with a detached and disinterested judgment. It is above all because it
is disinterested that Europe has faith and trust in its sense of
justice. It is not out for empire, for revenge, or for diplomatic
vanity. Its people are supporters of President Wilson's ideal of "open
covenants openly arrived at," and of the "self-determination of
nations," however violently they challenge the authority by which their
President pledged them to definite clauses in an unpopular contract.
They are a friendly and not unfriendly folk in their instincts and in
their methods. They respond quickly and generously to any appeal to
honest sentiment, though they have no patience with hypocrisy. They are
realists, and hate sham, pose, and falsehood. Give them "a square deal"
and they will be scrupulous to a high standard of business morality.
Because of the infusion of foreign blood in their democracy which has
been slowly produced from the great melting-pot of nations, they are
subject to all the sensibilities of the human race and not narrowly
fixed to one racial idea or type of mind. The Celt, the Slav, the Saxon,
the Teuton, the Hebrew, and the Latin strains are present in the
subconsciousness of the American people, so that they are capable of an
enormous range of sympathy with human nature in its struggle upward to
the light. They are the new People of Destiny in the world of progress,
because after their early adventures of youth, their time of
preparation, their immense turbulent growth, their forging of tools, and
training of soul, they stand now in their full strength and maturity,
powerful with the power of a great, free, confident people.

To some extent, and I think in an increasing way, the old supremacy
which Europe had is passing westward. Europe is stricken, tired, and
poor. America is hearty, healthy, and rich. Intellectually it is still
boyish and young and raw. There is the wisdom as well as the sadness of
old age in Europe. We have more subtlety of brain, more delicate sense
of art, a literature more expressive of the complicated emotions which
belong to an old heritage of civilization, luxury, and philosophy. But I
look for a Golden Age of literature and art in America which shall be
like our Elizabethan period, fresh and spring-like, and rich in vitality
and promise. I am bound to believe that out of the fusion of races in
America, and out of their present period of wealth and power, and out of
this new awakening to the problems of life outside their own country,
there will come great minds, and artists, and leaders of thought,
surpassing any that have yet revealed themselves. All our reading of
history points to that evolution. The flowering-time of America seems
due to arrive, after its growing pains.

Be that as it may, it is clear, at least, that the destiny of the
American people is now marked out for the great mission of leading the
world to a new phase of civilization. By the wealth they have, and by
their power for good or evil, they have a controlling influence in the
reshaping of the world after its convulsions. They cannot escape from
that power, even though they shrink from its responsibility. Their
weight thrown one way or the other will turn the scale of all the
balance of the world's desires. People of destiny, they have the choice
of arranging the fate of many peoples. By their action they may plunge
the world into strife again or settle its peace. They may kill or cure.
They may be reconcilers or destroyers. They may be kind or cruel. It is
a terrific power for any people to hold. If I were a citizen of the
United States I should be afraid--afraid lest my country should by
passion, or by ignorance, or by sheer carelessness take the wrong way.

I think some Americans have that fear. I have met some who are anxious
and distressed. But I think that the majority of Americans do not
realize the power that has come to them nor their new place in the
world. They have a boisterous sense of importance and prestige, but
rather as a young college man is aware of his lustiness and vitality
without considering the duties and the dangers that have come to him
with manhood. They are inclined to a false humility, saying: "We aren't
our brothers' keepers, anyway. We needn't go fussing around. Let's keep
to our own job and let the other people settle their own affairs." But
meanwhile the other people know that American policy, American
decisions, the American attitude in world problems, will either make or
mar them. It is essential for the safety of the world, and of
civilization itself, that the United States should realize its
responsibilities and fulfill the destiny that has come to it by the
evolution of history. To those whom I call the People of Destiny I
humbly write the words: Let the world have peace.



VI

AMERICANS IN EUROPE


It is only during the war and afterward that European people have come
to know anything in a personal way of the great democracy in the United
States. Before then America was judged by tourists who came to "do"
Europe in a few months or a few weeks. In France, especially, all of
them were popularly supposed to be "millionaires," or, at least,
exceedingly rich. Many of them were, and in Paris, to which they went in
greatest numbers, they were preyed upon by hotel managers and
shopkeepers, and were caricatured in French farces and French newspapers
as the "_nouveaux riches_" of the world who could afford to buy all the
luxury of life, but had no refinement of taste or delicacy of sentiment.
There was an enormous ignorance of the education, civilization, and
temperament of the great masses of people in the United States, and it
was an absolute belief among the middle classes of Europe that the
"almighty dollar" was the God of America and that there was no other
worship on that side of the Atlantic.

This opinion changed in a remarkable way during the war and before the
United States had sent a single soldier to French soil. The cause of the
change was mainly the immensely generous, and marvelously efficient,
campaign of rescue for war-stricken and starving people by the American
Relief Committee under the direction of Mr. Hoover.

In February of 1915 I left the war zone for a little while on a mission
to Holland, to study the Dutch methods of dealing with their enormous
problem caused by the invasion of Belgian refugees. Into one little
village across the Scheldt 200,000 Belgians had come in panic-stricken
flight from Antwerp, utterly destitute, and Holland was choked with
these starving families. But their plight was not so bad at that time as
that of the millions of French and Belgian inhabitants who had not
escaped by quick flight from the advancing tide of war, but had been
made civil prisoners behind the enemy lines. Their rescue was more
difficult because of the needs of the German army, which requisitioned
the produce and the labor of the peasants and work-people, so that they
were cut off from the means of life. The United States was quick to
understand and to act, and in Mr. Hoover it had a man able to translate
the generous emotion in the heart of a great people into practical
action. I saw him in his offices at Rotterdam, dictating his orders to
his staff of clerks, and organizing a scheme of relief which spread its
life-giving influence over great tracts of Europe where war had passed.
My conversation with him was brief, but long enough to let me see the
masterful character, the irresistible energy, the cool, unemotional
efficiency of this great business man whose brain and soul were in his
job.

It was in the arena of war that I and many others saw the result of
American generosity. After the battles of the Somme, when the Germans
fell back in a wide retreat under the pressure of the British army, many
ruined villages fell into our hands, and among the ruins many French
civilians. To this day I remember the thrill I had when in some of those
bombarded places I saw the sign-boards of the American Relief over
wooden shanties where half-starved men and women came to get their
weekly rations which had come across the sea and by some miracle, as it
seemed to them, had arrived at their village close to the firing-lines.
I went into those places, some of which had escaped from shell-fire, and
picked up the tickets for flour and candles and the elementary
necessities of life, and read the notices directing the people how to
take their share of these supplies, and thanked God that somewhere in
the world--away in the United States--the spirit of charity was strong
to help the victims of the cruelty which was devastating Europe.

An immense gratitude for America was in the hearts of these French
civilians. Whatever causes of irritation and annoyance may have spoiled
the fine flower of the enthusiasm with which France greeted the American
armies when they first landed on her coast, and the admiration of the
American people for France herself, it is certain, I think, that in
those villages which were engirdled by the barbed wire of the hostile
armies, and to which the American supplies came in days of dire
distress, there will be a lasting reverence for the name of America,
which was the fairy godmother of so many women and children. Over and
over again these women told me of their gratitude. "Without the American
Relief," they said, "we should have starved to death." Others said, "The
only thing that saved us was the weekly distribution of the American
supplies." "There has been no kindness in our fate," said one of them,
"except the bounty of America."

It is true that into Mr. Hoover's warehouses there flowed great stores
of food from England, Canada, France, and other countries, who gave
generously, out of their own needs, for the sake of those who were in
greater need, but the largest part of the work was America's, and hers
was the honor of its organization.

In the face of that noble effort, revealing the enormous pity of the
United States for suffering people, and a careless expenditure of that
"almighty dollar" which now the American people poured into this abyss
of European distress, it was impossible for France or England to accuse
the United States of selfishness or of callousness because she still
held back from any declaration of war against our enemies.

I honestly believe (though I shall not be believed in saying so) that
the Americans who came over to Europe at this time, in the Red Cross or
as volunteers, were more impatient of that delay of their country's
purpose than public opinion in England. I met many American doctors,
nurses, Red Cross volunteers, war correspondents, and business men,
during that long time of waiting when President Wilson was writing his
series of "Notes," and I could see how strained was their patience and
how self-conscious and apologetic they were because their President used
arguments instead of "direct action." One American friend of mine, with
whom I often used to walk when streams of wounded Tommies were a bloody
commentary on the everlasting theme of war, used to defend Wilson with a
chivalrous devotion and wealth of argument. "Give him time," he used to
say. "He is working slowly but surely to a definite conviction, and when
he has made up his mind that there is no alternative not all the devils
of hell will budge him from his course of action. You English must be
patient with him and with all of us."

"But, my dear old man," I used to say, "we _are_ patient. It is you who
are impatient. There is no need of all that defensive argument. England
realizes the difficulty of President Wilson and has a profound reverence
for his ideals."

But my friend used to shake his head sadly.

"You are always guying us," he said. "Even at the mess-table your young
officers fling about the words 'too proud to fight!' It makes it very
hard for an American among you."

That was true. Our young officers, and some of our old ones, liked to
"pull the leg" of any American who sat at table with them. They made
jocular remarks about President Wilson as a complete letter-writer. That
unfortunate remark, "too proud to fight," was too good to miss by young
men with a careless sense of humor. It came in with devilish
appropriateness on all sorts of occasions, as when a battery of ours
fired off a consignment of American shells in which some failed to
explode.

"They're too proud to fight, sir," said a subaltern, addressing the
major, and there was a roar of laughter which hurt an American war
correspondent in English uniform.

The English sense of humor remains of schoolboy character among any
body of young men who delight in a little playful "ragging," and there
is no doubt that some of us were not sufficiently aware how sensitive
any American was at this time, and how a chance word spoken in jest
would make his nerves jump.

But I am sure that the main body of English opinion was not impatient
with America before she entered the war, but, on the contrary,
understood the difficulty of obtaining a unanimous spirit over so vast a
territory in order to have the whole nation behind the President. Indeed
we exaggerated the differences of opinion in the United States and made
a bogy of the alien population in the great "melting-pot." It seemed to
many of us certain that if America declared war against Germany there
would be civil riots and rebellions on a serious scale among
German-Americans. That thought was always in our minds when we justified
Wilson's philosophical reluctance to draw the sword; that and a very
general belief among English "intellectuals" that it would be well to
have one great nation and democracy outside the arena of conflict, free
from the war madness that had taken possession of Europe, to act as
arbitrator if no decision could be obtained in the battlefields. It is
safe to say now that in spite of newspaper optimism, engineered by the
propaganda departments, there were many competent observers in the army
as well as in the country who were led to the belief, after the first
eighteen months of strife, that the war would end in a deadlock and that
its continuance would only lead to further years of mutual
extermination. For that reason they looked to the American people, under
the leadership of President Wilson, as the only neutral power which
could intervene to save the civilization of Europe, not by military
acts, but by a call back to sanity and conciliation.

It was not until the downfall of Russia and the approaching menace of an
immense concentration of German divisions on the western front that
France and England began to look across the Atlantic with anxious eyes
for military aid. Our immense losses and the complete elimination of
Russia gave the Germans a chance of striking us mortal blows before
their own man-power was exhausted. The vast accession of power that
would come to us if the United States mobilized her manhood and threw
them into the scale was realized and coveted by our military leaders,
but even after America's declaration of war the imagination of the rank
and file in England and France was not profoundly stirred by a new hope
of support. Vaguely we heard of the tremendous whirlwind efforts "over
there" to raise and equip armies, but there was hardly a man that I met
who really believed in his soul that he would ever hear the tramp of
American battalions up our old roads of war or see the Stars and Stripes
fluttering over headquarters in France. Our men knew that at the
quickest it would take a year to raise and train an American army, and
in 1917 the thought of another year of war seemed fantastic, incredible,
impossible. We believed--many of us--that before that year had passed
the endurance of European armies and peoples would be at an end, and
that in some way or other, by German defeat or general exhaustion, peace
would come. To American people that may seem like weakness of soul. In a
way it was weakness, but justified by the superhuman strain which our
men had endured so long. Week after week, month after month, year after
year, they had gone into the fields of massacre, and strong battalions
had come out with frightful losses, to be made up again by new drafts
and to be reduced again after another spell in the trenches or a few
hours "over the top." It is true they destroyed an equal number of
Germans, but Germany seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of
"gun-fodder." Only extreme optimists, and generally those who were most
ignorant, prophesied an absolute smash of the enemy's defensive power.
By the end of 1917, when the British alone had lost 800,000 men in the
fields of Flanders, the thought that another year still might pass
before the end of the war seemed too horrible to entertain by men who
were actually in the peril and misery of this conflict. Not even then
did it seem likely that the Americans could be in before the finish. It
was only when the startling menace of a new German offensive, in a last
and mighty effort, threatened our weakened lines that England became
impatient at last for American legions and sent out a call across the
Atlantic, "Come quickly or you will come too late!"

America was ready. In a year she had raised the greatest army in the
world by a natural energy which was terrific in its concentration and
enthusiasm. We knew that if she could get those men across the Atlantic,
in spite of submarines, the Germans would be broken to bits, unless they
could break us first by a series of rapid blows which would outpace the
coming of the American troops. We did not believe that possible. Even
when the enemy broke through the British lines in March of 1918, with
one hundred and fourteen divisions to our forty-eight, we did not
believe they would destroy our armies or force us to the coast. Facts
showed that our belief was right, though it was a touch-and-go chance.
We held our lines and England sent out her last reserves of
youth--300,000 of them--to fill up our gaps. The Germans were stopped at
a dead halt, exhausted after the immensity of their effort and by
prodigious losses. Behind our lines, and behind the French front, there
came now a tide of "new boys." America was in France, and the doom of
the German war machine was at hand.

It would be foolish of me to recapitulate the history of the American
campaign. The people of the United States know what their men did in
valor and in achievement, and Europe has not forgotten their heroism.
Here I will rather describe as far as I may the impressions created in
my own mind by the first sight of those American soldiers and by those I
met on the battle-front.

The very first "bunch" of "Yanks" (as we called them) that I met in the
field were non-combatants who suddenly found themselves in a tight
corner. They belonged to some sections of engineers who were working on
light railways in the neighborhood of two villages called Gouzeaucourt
and Fins, in the Cambrai district. On the morning of November 30, 1917,
I went up very early with the idea of going through Gouzeaucourt to the
front line, three miles ahead, which we had just organized after Byng's
surprise victory of November 20th, when we broke through the Hindenburg
lines with squadrons of tanks, and rounded up thousands of prisoners and
many guns. As I went through Fins toward Gouzeaucourt I was aware of
some kind of trouble. The men of some labor battalions were tramping
back in a strange, disorganized way, and a number of field batteries
were falling back.

"What's up?" I asked, and a young officer answered me.

"The Germans have made a surprise attack and broken through."

"Where are they?" I asked again, startled by this news.

He pointed up the road.

"Just there.... Inside Gouzeaucourt."

The situation was extremely unpleasant. The enemy had brought up some
field-guns and was scattering his fire. It was in a field close by that
I met the American engineers.

"I guess this is not in the contract," said one of them, grinning. "All
the same, if I find any Britisher to lend me a rifle I'll get a knock at
those fellers who spoiled my breakfast."

One man stooped for a petrol tin and put it on his head as a shell came
howling over us.

"I guess this makes me look more like you other guys," he said, with a
glance at our steel helmets.

One tall, loose-limbed, swarthy fellow, who looked like a Mexican, but
came from Texas, as he told me, was spoiling for a fight, and with many
strange oaths declared his intention of going into Gouzeaucourt with the
first batch of English who would go that way with him. They were the
Grenadier Guards who came up to the counter-attack, munching apples, as
I remember, when they marched toward the enemy. Some of the American
engineers joined them and with borrowed rifles helped to clear out the
enemy's machine-gun nests and recapture the ruins of the village. I met
some of them the following day again, and they told me it was a "darned
good scrap." They were "darned" good men, hard, tough, humorous, and
full of individual character.

The general type of young Americans was not, however, like these
hard-grained men of middle age who had led an adventurous life before
they came to see what war was like in Europe. We watched them curiously
as the first battalions came streaming along the old roads of France and
Picardy, and we were conscious that they were different from all the men
and all the races behind our battle-front. Physically they were
splendid--those boys of the Twenty-seventh and Seventy-seventh Divisions
whom we saw first of all. They were taller than any of our regiments,
apart from the Guards, and they had a fine, easy swing of body as they
came marching along. They were better dressed than our Tommies, whose
rough khaki was rather shapeless. There was a dandy cut about this
American uniform and the cloth was of good quality, so that, arriving
fresh, they looked wonderfully spruce and neat compared with our
weatherworn, battle-battered lads who had been fighting through some
hard and dreadful days. But those accidental differences did not matter.
What was more interesting was the physiognomy and character of these
young men who, by a strange chapter of history, had come across the wide
Atlantic to prove the mettle of their race and the power of their nation
in this world struggle. It came to me, and to many other Englishmen, as
a revelation that there was an American type, distinctive, clearly
marked off from our own, utterly different from the Canadians,
Australians, and New-Zealanders, as strongly racial as the French or
Italians. In whatever uniform those men had been marching one would have
known them as Americans. Looking down a marching column, we saw that it
was something in the set of the eyes, in the character of the
cheek-bones, and in the facial expression that made them distinctive.
They had a look of independence and self-reliance, and it was as visible
as the sun that these were men with a sort of national pride and
personal pride, conscious that behind them was a civilization and a
power which would give them victory though they in the vanguard might
die. Those words express feebly and foolishly the first impression that
came to us when the "Yanks" came marching up the roads of war, but that
in a broad way was the truth of what we thought. I remember one officer
of ours summed up these ideas as he stood on the edge of the road,
watching one of those battalions passing with their transport.

"What we are seeing," he said, "is the greatest thing that has happened
in history since the Norman Conquest. It is the arrival of America in
Europe. Those boys are coming to fulfill the destiny of a people which
for three hundred years has been preparing, building, growing, for the
time when it will dominate the world. Those young soldiers will make
many mistakes. They will be mown down in their first attacks. They will
throw away their lives recklessly, because of their freshness and
ignorance. But behind them are endless waves of other men of their own
breed and type. Germany will be destroyed because her man-power is
already exhausted, and she cannot resist the weight which America will
now throw against her. But by this victory, which will leave all the
old Allies weakened and spent and licking their wounds, America will be
the greatest power in the world, and will hold the destiny of mankind in
her grasp. Those boys slogging through the dust are like the Roman
legionaries. With them marches the fate of the world, of which they are
masters."

"A good thing or a bad?" I asked my friend.

He made a circle in the dust with his trench stick, and stared into the
center of it.

"Who can tell?" he said, presently. "Was it good or bad that the Romans
conquered Europe, or that afterward they fell before the barbarians? Was
it good or bad that William and his Normans conquered England? There is
no good or bad in history; there is only change, building-up, and
disintegrating, new cycles of energy, decay, and rebirth. After this
war, which those lads will help to win, the power will pass to the west,
and Europe will fall into the second class."

Those were high views. Thinking less in prophecy, getting into touch
with the actual men, I was struck by the exceptionally high level of
individual intelligence among the rank and file, and by the general
gravity among them. The American private soldier seemed to me less
repressed by discipline than our men. He had more original points of
view, expressed himself with more independence of thought, and had a
greater sense of his own personal value and dignity. He was immensely
ignorant of European life and conditions, and our Tommies were superior
to him in that respect. Nor had he their easy way of comradeship with
French and Flemish peasants, their whimsical philosophy of life which
enabled them to make a joke in the foulest places and conditions. They
were harder, less sympathetic; in a way, I think, less imaginative and
spiritual than English or French. They had no tolerance with foreign
habits or people. After their first look round they had very little use
for France or the French. The language difficulty balked them at the
outset and they did not trouble much to cope with it, though I remember
some of the boys sitting under the walls of French villages with small
children who read out words in conversation-books and taught them to
pronounce. They had a fierce theoretical hatred of the Germans, who,
they believed, were bad men, in the real old-fashioned style of devil
incarnate, so that it was up to every American soldier to kill Germans
in large numbers. It was noticeable that after the armistice, when the
American troops were billeted among German civilians, that hatred wore
off very quickly, as it did with the English Tommies, human nature being
stronger than war passion. Before they had been in the fighting-line a
week these "new boys" had no illusions left about the romance or the
adventure of modern war. They hated shell-fire as all soldiers hate it,
they loathed the filth of the trenches, and--they were very homesick.

I remember one private soldier who had fought in the American-Spanish
war and in the Philippines--an old "tough."

"Three weeks of this war," he said, "is equal to three years of all
others."

But he and "the pups," as he called his younger comrades, were going to
see it through, and they were animated by the same ideals with which the
French and British had gone into the war.

"This is a fight for civilization," said one man, and another said,
"There'll be no liberty in the world if the Germans win."

It is natural that many of the boys were full of "buck" before they saw
the real thing, and were rather scornful of the British and French
troops, who had been such a long time "doing nothing," as they said.

"You've been kidding yourselves that you know how to fight," said one of
them to an English Tommy. "We've come to show you!"

That was boys' talk, like our "ragging," and was not meant seriously. On
the contrary, the companies of the Twenty-seventh Division who went into
action with the Australians at Hamel near Amiens--the first time that
American troops were in action in France--were filled with admiration
for the stolid way in which those veterans played cards in their dugouts
before going over the top at dawn. The American boys were tense and
strained, knowing that in a few hours they would be facing death. But
when the time came they went away like greyhounds, and were reckless of
fire.

"They'll go far when they've learned a bit," said the Australians.

They had to learn the usual lessons in the same old way, by mistakes, by
tragedy, by lack of care. They overcrowded their forward trenches so
that they suffered more heavily than they should have done under enemy
shell-fire. They advanced in the open against machine-gun nests and were
mown down. They went ahead too fast without "mopping up" the ground
behind them, and on the day they helped to break the Hindenburg line
they did not clear out the German dugouts, and the Germans came out with
their machine-guns and started fighting in the rear, so that when the
Australians came up in support they had to capture the ground again, and
lost many men before they could get in touch with the Americans ahead.
For some time the American transport system broke down, so that the
fighting troops did not always obtain their supplies on the field of
battle, and there were other errors, inevitable in an army starting a
great campaign with inexperienced staff officers. What never failed was
the gallantry of the troops, which reached heights of desperate valor in
the forest of the Argonne.

The officers were tremendously in earnest. What struck us most was their
gravity. Our officers took their responsibility lightly, laughed and
joked more readily, and had a boyish, whimsical sense of humor. It
seemed to us, perhaps quite wrongly, that the American officers were
not, on the whole, of a merry disposition. They were frank and hearty,
but as they walked about their billeting area behind the lines some of
them looked rather solemn and grim, and our young men were nervous of
them. I think that was simply a matter of facial expression plus a pair
of spectacles, for on closer acquaintance one found, invariably, that an
American officer was a human soul, utterly devoid of swank, simple,
straight, and delightfully courteous. Their modesty was at times almost
painful. They were over-anxious to avoid hurting the feelings of French
or British by any appearance of self-conceit. "We don't know a darned
thing about this war," said many of them, so that the phrase became
familiar to us. "We have come here to learn."

Well, they learned pretty quickly and there were some things they did
not need teaching--courage, endurance, pride of manhood, pride of race.
They were not going to let down the Stars and Stripes, though all hell
was against them. They won a new glory for the Star-spangled Banner, and
it was the weight they threw in and the valor that went with it which,
with the French and British armies attacking all together, under the
directing genius of Foch, helped to break the German war machine and to
achieve decisive and supreme victory.

It would have been better, I think, for America and for all of us,
especially for France, if quickly after victory the American troops had
gone back again. That was impossible because of holding the Rhine and
enforcing the terms of peace. But during the long time that great bodies
of American troops remained in France after the day of armistice, there
was occasion for the bigness of ideals and achievements to be whittled
down by the little nagging annoyances of a rather purposeless existence.
Boredom, immense and long enduring, took possession of the American army
in France. The boys wanted to go home, now that the job was done. They
wanted the victory march down Fifth Avenue, not the lounging life in
little French villages, nor even the hectic gayeties of leave in Paris.
Old French châteaux used as temporary headquarters suffered from
successive waves of occupation by officers who proceeded to modernize
their surroundings by plugging old panels for electric light and fixing
up telephone-wires through painted ceilings, to the horror of the
concierges and the scandal of the neighborhood. In the restaurants and
hotels and cinema halls the Americans trooped in, took possession of all
the tables, shouted at the waiters who did not seem to know their jobs,
and expressed strong views in loud voices (understood by French
civilians who had learned English in the war) about the miserable
quality of French food and the darned arrogance of French officers. It
was all natural and inevitable--but unfortunate. The French were too
quick to forget after armistice that they owed a good deal to American
troops for the complete defeat of Germany. The Americans were not quite
careful in remembering the susceptibilities of a sensitive people. So
there were disillusion and irritation on both sides, in a broad and
general way, allowing for many individual friendships between French and
Americans, many charming memories which will remain on both sides of the
Atlantic when the war is old in history.

Americans who overcame the language difficulty by learning enough to
exchange views with the French inhabitants--and there were many--were
able to overlook the minor, petty things which divided the two races,
and were charmed with the intelligence, spirit, and humor of the
French bourgeoisie and educated classes. They got the best out of
France, and were enchanted with French cathedrals, mediæval towns,
picture-galleries, and life. Paris caught hold of them, as it takes hold
of all men and women who know something of its history and learn to know
and love its people. Thousands of American officers came to know Paris
intimately, from Montmartre to Montparnasse, became familiar and welcome
friends in little restaurants tucked away in the side-streets, where
they exchanged badinage with the proprietor and the waitresses, and felt
the spirit of Paris creep into their bones and souls. Along the Grands
Boulevards these young men from America watched the pageant of life pass
by as they sat outside the cafés, studying the little high-heeled ladies
who passed by with a side-glance at these young men, marveling at the
strange medley of uniforms, as French, English, Australian, New Zealand,
Canadian, Italian, Portuguese, and African soldiers went by, realizing
the meaning of "Europe" with all its races and rivalries and national
traditions, and getting to know the inside of European politics by
conversations with men who spoke with expert knowledge about this
conglomeration of peoples. Those young men who are now back in the
United States have already made a difference to their country's
intellectual outlook. They have taught America to look out upon the
world with wider vision and to abandon the old isolation of American
thought which was apt to ignore the rest of the human family and remain
self-contained and aloof from a world policy.

During the months that followed the armistice many Americans of high
intellectual standing came to Europe, attracted by the great drama and
business of the Peace Conference, and to prepare the way for the
reconstruction of civilization after the years of conflict. They were
statesmen, bankers, lawyers, writers, and financiers. I met some of them
in Paris, Rome, Vienna, London, and other cities of Europe. They were
the onlookers and the critics of the new conflict that had followed the
old, the conflict of ideas, policy, and passion which raged outside the
quiet chamber at Versailles, where President Wilson, Lloyd George,
Clemenceau, and a few less important mortals were redrawing the
frontiers of Europe, Asia, and other parts of the globe. From the first,
many of these men were frank in private conversation about the hostility
that was growing up in the United States against President Wilson, and
the distrust of the American people in a league of nations which might
involve the United States in European entanglements alien to her
interests and without the consent of her people. At the same time, and
at that time when there still seemed to be a chance of arriving at a new
compact between nations which would eliminate the necessity of
world-wide war, and of washing out the blood-stains of strife by new
springs of human tolerance and international common sense, these
American visitors did not throw down the general scheme for a league of
nations, and looked to the Peace Conference to put forward a treaty
which might at least embody the general aspirations of stricken peoples.
Gradually these onlookers sickened with disgust. They sickened at the
interminable delays in the work of the Conference, and the
imperialistic ambitions of the Allied powers, and the greedy rivalries
of the little nations, at all the falsity of lip-service to high
principles while hatred, vengeance, injustice, and sordid interests were
in the spirit of that document which might have been the new Charter of
Rights for the peoples of the world. They saw that Clemenceau's vision
of peace was limited to the immediate degradation and ruin of the
Central Powers, and that he did not care for safeguarding the future or
for giving liberty and justice and a chance of economic life to
democracies liberated from military serfdom. They saw that Lloyd George
was shifting his ground continually as pressure was brought to bear on
him now from one side of the Cabinet and now from the other, so that his
policy was a strange compound of extreme imperialism and democratic
idealism, with the imperialist ambition winning most of the time. They
saw that Wilson was being hoodwinked by the subtlety of diplomatists who
played on his vanity, and paid homage to his ideals, and made a prologue
of his principles to a drama of injustice. Our American visitors were
perplexed and distressed. They had desired to be heart and soul with the
Allies in the settlement of peace. They still cherished the ideals
which had uplifted them in the early days of the war. They were resolved
that the United States should not play a selfish part in the settlement
or profit by the distress of nations who had been hard hit. But
gradually they became disillusioned with the statecraft of Europe, and
disappointed with the low level of intelligence and morality reflected
in the newspaper press of Europe, which still wrote in the old strain of
"propaganda" when insincerity and manufactured falsehood took the place
of truth. They hardened visibly, I think, against the view that the
United States should be pledged by Wilson to the political and economic
schemes of the big powers in Europe, which, far from healing the wounds
of the world, kept them raw and bleeding, while arranging, not
deliberately, but very certainly, for future strife into which America
would be dragged against her will. England and France failed to see the
American point of view, which seems to me reasonable and sound.

The generous way in which the United States came to the rescue of
starving peoples in the early days of the war was not deserted by her
when the armistice and the peace that followed revealed the frightful
distress in Poland, Hungary, and Austria. While the doom of these people
was being pronounced by statesmen not naturally cruel, but nevertheless
sentencing great populations to starvation, and while the blockade was
still in force, American representatives of a higher law than that of
vengeance went into these ruined countries and organized relief on a
great scale for suffering childhood and despairing womanhood. I saw the
work of the American Relief Committee in Vienna and remember it as one
of the noblest achievements I have seen. All ancient enmity, all demands
for punishment or reparation, went down before the agony of Austria.
Vienna, a city of two and a half million souls, once the capital of a
great empire, for centuries a rendezvous of gayety and genius, the
greatest school of medicine in the world, the birthplace and home of
many great musicians, and the dwelling-place of a happy, careless, and
luxurious people, was now delivered over to beggary and lingering death.
With all its provinces amputated so that it was cut off from its old
natural resources of food and raw material, it had no means of
livelihood and no hope. Austrian paper money had fallen away to mere
trash. The krone tumbled down to the value of a cent, and it needed many
kronen to buy any article of life--2,000 for a suit of clothes, 800 for
a pair of boots, 25 for the smallest piece of meat in any restaurant.
Middle-class people lived almost exclusively on cabbage soup, with now
and then potatoes. A young doctor I met had a salary of 60 kronen a
week. When I asked him how he lived he said: "I don't. This is not
life." The situation goes into a nutshell when I say--as an actual
fact--that the combined salaries of the Austrian Cabinet amounted,
according to the rate of exchange, to the wages of three old women who
look after the lavatories in Lucerne. Many people, once rich, lived on
bundles of paper money which they flung away as leaves are scattered
from autumn trees. They were the lucky ones, though ruin stared them in
the eyes. By smuggling, which became an open and acknowledged system,
they could afford to pay the ever-mounting prices of the peasants for at
least enough food to keep themselves alive. But the working-classes, who
did not work because factories were closed for lack of coal and raw
material, just starved, keeping the flame of life aflicker by a thin and
miserable diet, until the weakest died. Eighty-three per cent. of the
children had rickets in an advanced stage. Children of three and four
had never sat up or walked. Thousands of children were just living
skeletons, with gaunt cheek-bones and bloodless lips. They padded after
one in the street, like little old monkeys, holding out their claws for
alms.

The American Relief Committee got to work in the early months of 1919.
They brought truck-loads of food to Vienna, established distributing
centers and feeding centers in old Viennese palaces, and when I was
there in the early autumn they were giving 200,000 children a meal a
day. I went round these places with a young American naval
officer--Lieutenant Stockton--one of the leading organizers of relief,
and I remember him as one of the best types of manhood I have ever met
up and down the roads of life. His soul was in his job, but there was
nothing sloppy about his sentiment or his system. He was a master of
organization and details and had established the machinery of relief,
with Austrian ladies doing the drudgery with splendid devotion (as he
told me, and as I saw), so that it was in perfect working order. As a
picture of childhood receiving rescue from the agony of hunger, I
remember nothing so moving nor so tragic as one of those scenes when I
saw a thousand children sitting down to the meal that came from America.
Here before them in that bowl of soup was life and warmth. In their eyes
there was the light of ecstasy, the spiritual gratitude of children for
the joy that had come after pain. For a little while they had been
reprieved from the hunger-death.

American agents of the Y. M. C. A., nurses, members of American missions
and philanthropic societies, penetrated Europe in far and strange
places. I met a crowd of them on the "Entente train" from Vienna to
Paris, and in various Italian towns. They were all people with shrewd,
observant eyes, a quiet sense of humor, and a repugnance to be "fudged
off" from actual facts by any humbug of theorists. They studied the
economic conditions of the countries through which they traveled,
studied poverty by personal visits to slum areas and working-class
homes, and did not put on colored spectacles to stare at the life in
which they found themselves. The American girls were as frank and
courageous as the men in their facing of naked truth, and they had no
false prudery or sentimental shrinking from the spectacle of pain and
misery. Their greatest drawback was an ignorance of foreign languages,
which prevented many of them from getting more than superficial views of
national psychology, and I think many of them suffered from the defect
of admirable qualities by a humorous contempt of foreign habits and
ideas. That did not make them popular with people whom they were not
directly helping. Their hearty laughter, their bunching together in
groups in which conversation was apt to become noisy, and their cheerful
disregard of conventionality in places where Europeans were on their
"best behavior" had an irritating effect at times upon foreign
observers, who said: "Those Americans have not learned good manners.
They are the new barbarians in Europe." English people, traveling as
tourists before the war, were accused of the same lack of respect and
courtesy, and were unpopular for the same reason.

Toward the end of 1919 and in the beginning of 1920 I came into touch
with a number of Americans who came to Europe on business enterprises
or to visit the battlefields. In private conversation they did not
disguise their sense of distress that there were strained relations
between the public opinion of England and America. Several of them asked
me if it were true that England was as hostile to America as the
newspapers tried to make out. By way of answer I asked them whether
America were as hostile to us as the newspapers asked us to believe.
They admitted at once that this was a just and illuminating reply,
because the intelligent section of American society--people of decent
education and good will--was far from being hostile to England, but on
the contrary believed firmly that the safety and happiness of the world
depended a good deal upon Anglo-American friendship. It was true that
the average citizen of the United States, even if he were uninfluenced
by Irish-American propaganda, believed that England was treating Ireland
stupidly and unjustly--to which I answered that the majority of English
people agreed with that view, though realizing the difficulty of
satisfying Ireland by any measure short of absolute independence and
separation. It was also true, they told me, that there was a general
suspicion in the United States that England had made a big grab in the
peace terms for imperial aggrandizement, masked under the high-sounding
name of "mandate" for the protection of African and Oriental states. My
reply to that, not as a political argument, but as simple sincerity, was
the necessity of some control of such states, if the power of the Turk
were to be abolished from his old strongholds, and a claim for the
British tradition as an administrator of native races; but I added
another statement which my American friends found it hard to believe,
though it is the absolute truth, as nine Englishmen out of ten will
affirm. So far from desiring an extension of our empire, the vast and
overwhelming majority of British people, not only in England, but in our
dominions beyond the seas, are aghast at the new responsibilities which
we have undertaken, and would relinquish many of them, especially in
Asia, with a sense of profound relief. We have been saddled with new and
perilous burdens by the ambition of certain statesmen who have earned
the bitter animosity of the great body of the British people entirely
out of sympathy with their imperialistic ideals.

I have not encountered a single American in Europe who has not
expressed, with what I believe is absolute sincerity, a friendly and
affectionate regard for England, whose people and whose ways of life
they like, and whose language, literature, and ideals belong to our
united civilization. They have not found in England any of that
hostility which they were told to expect, apart from a few blackguardly
articles in low-class journals. On the contrary, they have found a
friendly folk, grateful for their help in the war, full of admiration
for American methods, and welcoming them to our little old island.

They have gone back to the United States with the conviction, which I
share, with all my soul, that commercial rivalry, political differences,
and minor irritations, inevitable between two progressive peoples of
strong character, must never be allowed to divide our two nations, who
fundamentally belong to the same type of civilization and to the same
code of principles. Most of the so-called hostility between us is the
mere froth of foul-mouthed men on both sides, and the rest of it is due
to the ignorance of the masses. We must get to know each other, as the
Americans in Europe have learned to know us and to like us, and as all
of us who have crossed the Atlantic the other way about have learned to
know and like the American people. For the sake of the future of the
world and all the hopes of humanity we must get to the heart of each
other and establish a lasting and unbreakable friendship. It is only
folly that will prevent us.

THE END





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