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Title: The Abounding American
Author: Crosland, T. W. H. (Thomas William Hodgson)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            T. W. H. CROSLAND

                                Author of
                “Lovely Woman” and “The Unspeakable Scot”

                          A. F. THOMPSON & CO.
                          92 Fleet Street, E.C.



    THE PROPOSITION            7

    MILLIONAIRES              19

    HUMOURISTS                29

    THE AMERICAN WOMAN        37

    LITERATURE                45

    THE PRESIDENT             55

    ADVERTISEMENT             61

    THE PEA-NUT MIND          71

    THE DRAMA                 81

    SPORT                     91

    HOGS                     101

    VERDICT                  109


                             COPYRIGHT 1907
                             A. F. THOMPSON
                      THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                                 AND IN
                        GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND

                           All Rights Reserved



“And what, prithee, hath overtaken Guy?”

“Guy—why Guy diced and drabbed and ruffled away his inheritance, and to
save his neck took shipping for the tobacco plantations where, they say,
he married a daughter of Lo, the poor Indian, and none hath since heard
of him.”

This is the kind of talk that one could hear in the clubs of London a
matter of, say, two hundred and fifty years ago. In plain terms, Guy,
poor devil, being a wastrel,—and a broken wastrel at that—had betaken
himself to America, there probably to found one of the “fine old Virginia
families” of which American writers, and particularly American fictional
writers, are so prone to babble.

America, of course, was really started not by the Indians or Columbus,
but by the Pilgrim Fathers, assisted and backed up by several cargoes
of blue-brained and cleverblooded spirits from the British Isles, whose
minds were full of theology and whose souls were full of tea. I shall be
told that it is unkind of me to make such remarks.

But, quite apart from all questions of kindness, it is desirable that
you know something of the antecedents of a man before you set about
a proper estimate of him. If you wish to understand him thoroughly,
you must never let sleeping dogs lie nor allow bygones to be bygones.
It is notorious that the average frantic Fourth of July American is
an adept at showing the best side of himself and his institutions to
an admiring world. If you are to believe him the first American was
Christopher Columbus, whose name in this connection I had hoped not to
mention. But Don Columbus made the mistake of “discovering America.” For
the accomplishment of this feat the Americans bestow upon his memory
unqualified pæans. Really, of course, the fact that Columbus steered
his leaky lugger desperately for Coney Island and Long Branch, when he
had the rest of the world—including China and Gozo—before him where to
choose, proves that so far from being a hero and a man of genius, he was
a dull and evilly disposed person.

According to the bumptious, khaki-tinted gentleman from Indiana too,
the Pilgrim Fathers already referred to were high-minded, blameless,
and entirely disinterested saints, incapable of hurting a fly or
causing butter to melt north of the colour line. They “inaugurated
America for conscience sake, sir, and you can bet your pile that I am
proud to have them for ancestors.” In which connection I shall pass
no rude observation, contenting myself rather with the hint that the
reader who wishes to acquaint himself with the true inwardness of the
Pilgrim Fathers and their doings in America should look up some of the
serious literature on the subject. The Americans, be it noted, read that
literature very privately, and neither in the basket nor in the store.

I might proceed indefinitely on these lines of disillusion for Master
Phineas B. Flubdub; but as it is not my particular business to amuse him
inordinately, I shall desist.

In Europe, or at any rate in England, there is a disposition on the part
of the sandblind to look upon the United States and the people who dwell
in them with an eye of amused wonderment, as well as admiration. For
reasons that are not difficult to appreciate America has never been taken
quite seriously by the superior European. In spite of all her boasting
and shouting, in spite of her e-normous population and her equally
e-normous wealth, in spite of the fact that there is a U.S. Army and a
U.S. Navy that can lick creation, and that the U.S. also boasts of a
reeking, shrieking press, together with the most gaudy and scintillating
“Courts of Justice” that ever delighted civilisation, no person in Europe
believes in the back of his mind that the land of hustle and bluff is
a nation of any weight where nations count, or that she is capable of
exercising the smallest direct or indirect influence upon the manners,
customs, tendencies, or destiny of haughty feudal Europe.

The Americans are hot stuff. They go in for cut-throat finance and
lime-light lynchings, their swindles are beautiful, their fortunes
colossal, and their corruption is picturesque. They have a wonderful
country. It is theirs and not ours, and they are welcome to do as they
like in it. They can never hurt us. Knowing this, the Englishman sleeps
snugly of nights, and when he meets a “Yank” in London or on the Riviera
or in Paris, he smiles to himself, professes to be tickled, tolerates
him if there be occasion for it, grapples him to his bosom with hooks of
steel if there is money in it, and parts from him pretty much in the mood
of a man who has been inspecting a new motor car.

And, truth to tell, in the guileless, sight-seeing, rush-about American
whom the Englishman encounters on his own midden, there does not appear
to be anything which is either very outrageous or very formidable. All
you see of him is a somewhat undersized, loosely built human biped, with
a fat jowl, straight hair, a nobby suit, a little round white or brown
felt hat—and a guide-book. Of course, there is also the smart swagger
American, accompanied by a feminine entourage of peaches and dreams. But
usually your man from Yankeeland has with him a plain, up-and-down, sad
sort of woman who might have stepped out of Noah’s ark—and that is the
end of it. When he engages you in conversation, which he commonly insists
upon doing, he blows foolishly about his own Country, admits that yours
“hez the bulge in antiques,” says that he is glad that he came over, and
sticking out his finger in the direction of the woman, remarks: “This
is Mrs. Sarah B. Gazabo, my wife.” The real “insides” of the man never
strike you, partly because you are busy loathing his accent and admiring
his ginger, and partly because he has left his vital concerns, his
private essence and sheer Americanisms “way back to hum.” All Americans
imported for us by Thos. Cook & Son and his imitators are of this order.
For them England is a place in which to tread softly and speak low, or
at any rate as low as possible. They visit us in the same spirit that a
prize-fighter might visit a cemetery, and though the casual observer
would scarcely suspect it, their intention is to be subdued, sober,
decorous, and civil.

Eight times out of nine the American is a fine specimen of a manly
man, but it is the ninth that is such a wonder. We, the obtuse and
effete people of Great Britain, now and again wake up suddenly to the
circumstance that we have been the victims of an American invasion.
Such a ghastly conviction may at any moment overtake the best of us,
for no class of society knows whose turn is likely to be next. There
was an American invasion of the turf a year or two back, and English
sport is sore and poor about it to this day. There have been sundry
social invasions which those most directly concerned find it difficult
to forget, and at the present moment we are in the thick of a theatrical
invasion which is not doing us an appreciable amount of good. The fact
of these invasions and of their always unpleasant consequences so far as
the invaded are involved is, in my judgment, a fact of the most serious
import to Englishmen.

I shall for a moment drop the American as he seems to be, and regard him
as he actually is. What can one record of him that is to his credit?
Imprimus: He has devoted three hundred years more or less to the frantic
and bloodthirsty pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. Item: During those three
hundred years more or less he has done absolutely nothing but pursue
dollars. Item: He is still pursuing them. Item: But he makes the best
husband in the world, and places woman in the high place to which she is
so amply entitled. I will put so much to the credit side, though I make
no doubt that there are people in the world who will find themselves
unable to commend me for doing it.

Now for the obverse or discredit side. I shall ask you to note:

(1) That the Americans are the only nation who are ruled by a bureaucracy
of millionaires and at the same time croon themselves into a state of
vacuous coma to the touching strains of “vox populi, vox dei!”

(2) That they are the originators of the yelling yellow press, the
pioneers of the New Humour and the apostles of the New Pathos.

(3) That they are the only civilised people who make a point of exporting
the finest specimens of their womankind to foreign countries, included
in a consignment of cold dollars calculated pro rata with the antiquity,
decay and general worthlessness of the name which the former take in

(4) That having inherited, borrowed or stolen a beautiful language, they
wilfully and of set purpose degrade, distort and misspell it apparently
for the sole purpose of saving money in type-setting.

(5) That out of twenty-six Presidents of the United States, three have
met death at the hands of the assassin.[1]

(6) That having by sheer accident or because of the care and forethought,
which Providence has for fools, become possessed of a President who is
a man among men and a ninety horse-power statesman with direct drive on
all speeds, they allow him to be handicapped by a spectacular gang of
undesirable citizens.

(7) That they consider no function, public or private, sacred or
profane, to be complete without a newspaper correspondent, a lime-light
photographer, and a sky-sign contractor.

(8) That willingly and of their own unfettered volition they have
thrown back to the customs of their aboriginal ancestors in the matter
of diet, which diet is rapidly reducing them morally, physically and
intellectually to the level of primordial protoplasms.

(9) That they are the only nation who in civilised times rate noise above
all else, save dollars, and who in their theatres acclaim as the greatest
actor or play the one that in the shortest time makes the greatest uproar
for the smallest reason.

(10) That they have resolved their sports and pastimes into business
propositions in which the avowed aim and object of every competitor is
the utter destruction of his opponent by any means that can be found,
devised or conceived.

(11) That they are the only nation who in civilised times have been happy
and content to sink their individuality in an all pervading and evil
smelling atmosphere of hog and by-products.

The foregoing are merely a few of the main counts in the indictment.
Behind every one of them lies a history of gaiety, graft, dyspepsia,
bossism, fakery, flamboyancy, hysteria, vociferation brain storms
and dementia Americana of the most disconcerting and entertaining
kind. The details are on record, and I do not propose to harrow the
reader’s feelings with examples of them. I shall suggest simply that it
is questionable whether any other known race of men, white or black,
has managed to pack into three centuries such a volume of unthinkable
excitement and picturesque iniquity as can be rightfully and without
exaggeration laid at the door of these abounding Americans.

A certain Western city has been described by a friendly visitor as “hell
with the lid off.” For the greater part of her existence as a nation that
description might with justice have been applied to all America, and I
am by no means sure that it is not still applicable. It would seem that
under the inspiring ægis of the much-vaunted American constitution the
whole of the vices of civilised man have become grossly and incredibly
intensified. For unscrupulousness, insincerity, cynicism, and the pure
worship of mammon the United States stands without rival among the
nations to-day.

I believe the man lied who said there is not an institution in the
country—political, social, economic or even religious—that is not based
on a species of ingrained rottenness and not infested with the worm of
corruption and the scrawl of scandal. But there is no national aspiration
that does not have at the back of it the root idea that the sole duty
of an American man is to get rich and to get rich quick. There are few
standards of American life that are not gold standards and few kinds of
American effort that are not directed towards the rapid acquisition of
other people’s money.

It can be proved out of the history books that, broadly speaking, your
average American is a nondescript and nefarious hybrid composed of
three parts promoter, three parts missionary, three parts slave-driver,
and one part Indian. On this unsavoury soil the worst passions of the
soaring human animal have grown and run hoggishly to seed. Out of such
blood nothing that is honest or of good report could be expected to
rise. And when we in England, as has been the tendency in the past few
years, condescend to the adoption of American methods and American
notions, and applaud rather than rebuke American smartness and American
impudence, there can be no question whatever that we are on the
toboggan. The gradual Americanisation of this grand old country is not
only flattering to American vanity, but gratifying to American greed. As
I shall presently show, America has no more love for England than would
easily cover a threepenny-bit, and her insatiable cry is for markets,
markets, markets—a howl in which she is dulcetly supported by her dear
friend Germany. The causes for alarm in so far as they affect the larger
concrete issues are as yet comparatively slight. But it behoves every
Englishman to meditate on the possibility that Macaulay’s New Zealander
may in the long run turn out to be an American.

[1] This is a greater percentage than has obtained in the case of the
Czars of Russia, and in America there are no Nihilists or at any rate
none who are actively opposed to the American Presidency.




The population of the United States, according to the last census
returns, is about a hundred millions. Names in American directories
invariably begin with Aarons and end with Zaccharia, and millionaires are
marked with a star—thus *. In a town, or—as the puffed up merchant in
stars and stripes would call it a city—of fifty thousand inhabitants you
will find that the local directory stars quite twenty-five thousand as

It is pretty certain that fully ninety-nine per cent. of these bloated
plutocrats do not know where the next dollar is coming from. I have it on
the authority of an American that “in introducing a man in high American
society the introducer thinks it proper to say, ‘This is Obadiah S.
Bluggs of Squedunk, Wis.—one of the richest men in the city. He’s worth
his million dollars—ain’t you, Obadiah? And he’s president of a National
Bank and owns a block of buildings on the main street. His wife has the
largest diamonds in the northern part of the State, and his daughter,
Miss Mamie Bluggs, gets her gowns in Paris, and uses lorgnettes.’
Such words of recommendation, I am told, move Mr. Bluggs to a profound
delight. Within five minutes half the men present—this is true even of
the most exclusive circles—will cluster around Mr. Bluggs to sell things
to him; champagne, a horse, shares in a bogus mining company, or to ask
him if Miss Bluggs is engaged, whether she is a blonde or a brunette, and
whether he, Bluggs, thinks it is worth the questioner’s while to run up
to Squedunk, Wis., take Miss Bluggs out buggy riding and size her up one

It is highly probable that Mr. Millionaire Bluggs possesses no ready
cash whatever, though he is prepared to discuss five-million dollar
propositions in the loudest tones and in any quantity, and it is
probable, too, that Miss Bluggs is neither a blonde nor a brunette that
matters, but an ordinary good strong country girl whose principal diet is
pumpkin pie and chewing gum, and whose single go-to-party gown was bought
in Paris truly but fell to the lot of Miss Mamie Bluggs at third hand and
at bed-rock bargain-day price, at the corner store in Squedunk, Wis.

I have no desire to suggest that the millionaires of America as a body
are in straitened or difficult circumstances, or that an American here
and there has not succeeded in amassing vast sums of money. But I assert
flatly that the great majority of them are not within a mile of being
anything like so rich as they pretend to be, and that, taking millionaire
for millionaire, they are an entirely Brummagem and specious company.
They maintain all the appearances of riches, not on solid bullion or
property, but on a little paper. They come like water and like wind they
go. Since millionairedom became fashionable, New York State alone must
have produced, literally, thousands of them.

Of the real authentic untraversable American millionaire, one is inclined
to speak with bated breath and whispered humbleness. There are three
men of means in America at the time of writing who will probably be
remembered for the wealth they possess as long as this weary world holds
together. The virginal chaste names of them, need one say, are John D.
Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie. No doubt there are
others, such as the Vanderbilts and the Goulds, and Mr. Astor and Mr.
Harriman, and that great patron of the drama, Mr. John Cory, whose wealth
transcends the wealth of Ormuz and of Ind coming in together. But it is
on Messrs. Rockefeller, Morgan and Carnegie that the brunt and burden
and glitter and glory of real unlimited and omnipotent millionairedom
has fallen. Mr. Rockefeller, indeed, is commonly credited with being the
richest and most powerful capitalist in the world. So rich is he, and so
enormous are his accumulations of earned and unearned increment, that
he is rapidly becoming the overlord of all the other millionaires, who
even now are, to a great extent, playing with his money and must, to a
corresponding extent, do his bidding.

Of Mr. Rockefeller the world knows next to nothing, excepting that he
is fabulously and pitifully rich, that he has absolutely no hirsute
covering for his stupendous brains, that he suffers from indigestion, and
that he plays golf and teaches a Sunday school in a Nonconformist place
of worship. Every other morning he appears to present to this or that
American city a few odd millions “for educational purposes,” the which
millions are promptly spurned by the local authority as “tainted money,”
but ultimately accepted “in the interests of the industrial class.”

Probably Mr. Rockefeller is the best abused man on this footstool. He has
been variously described as a thief, a ghoul, a bloodsucker, a murderer,
a miser, a cannibal, a wrecker, a tiger, a devastator, a jackal, and a
wolf. All the notice he takes is blandly to play golf and unobtrusively
to dodge the lawyers and officers of the law who desire to bring him to
book for the alleged malpractices of the Standard Oil Trust. Yet you
have to remember that this placid, smiling, hairless old gentleman of
sixty-five, “with a glad hand for everyone,” takes out of the United
States an income greater than the incomes of all the Royal Families of
all Europe, and that, in addition to his controlling interest in the
Standard Oil Trust, which last year paid dividends to the tune of fifty
million dollars, he owns the entire Electric Light and Gas Plants of
New York City, controls the American iron industry, has almost complete
control of the railways and copper mines, and of the largest banks in New
York and throughout the country. The which sad data go to show that he
is at once a wicked man and a foolish, and that the American people are
even wickeder and more foolish. You can never bring an American to see
that there is no conceivable advantage in possessing too much money; and
in spite of his “shattered nerves,” “enfeebled mind,” and “unenviable
reputation,” there is not a man in America who would not jump at the
chance of standing in the shoes of Jawn D.

As for Mr. Pierpont Morgan, he is chiefly noted as the head and front of
a Steel Trust that is making money at the rate of one hundred and forty
million dollars per year, and as a gentleman who has a pretty taste in
pictures and objects of art. Mr. Morgan is a man with a large and poetic
imagination. It was he who conceived the noble idea of Americanising the
British Transatlantic carrying trade by buying up the principal fleets
engaged in it. In this deal, as in most other American-English deals,
the American came forth to shear and got shorn. The woolly, bleating,
unsuspicious Britisher sold his vessels at inflated figures, snickered
in his sleeve, and built new ones with some of the money. Mr. Morgan is
a frequent and welcome visitor to these shores, and the London picture
dealers and their touts no doubt do very well out of him. But if you say
“Liverpool” to him he goes hot all over.

For a bonne-bouche I have kept Mr. Andrew Carnegie, of Skibo Castle
and sundry other addresses. Mr. Carnegie has the misfortune to be a
Scotch American—surely the least admirable of the less admirable types
of humanity. He will live in men’s memories as the sturdy, forthright
Scot who managed one of the most desperate strikes that ever took place
in America from the safe vantage ground of his native heath. It must be
remembered that in spite of his ridiculous possessions Mr. Carnegie is
an avowed democrat, and the author of a book that makes him out to be
quite a benevolently minded philosopher. But during all the terrors of
the Homestead lock-out, he lay snug at his shooting box of Rannoch, N.B.,
and refused to say a word that would tend to still the storm, although he
knew that blood was being shed at Homestead, and that his own partner,
Mr. Frick, had been seriously wounded.

Being a Scotchman it is impossible that Mr. Carnegie should have been a
coward. Let me say rather that he was cautious and canny, and indisposed
to take unnecessary risks. When the row was more or less over he told a
representative of the Associated Press that “the deplorable events at
Homestead had burst upon him like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. They
had such a depressing effect upon him that he had to lay his book aside
and resort to the lochs and moors, fishing from morning to night.” Which,
on the face of it, is pawky Scots, and as who should say “the deplorable
news of the death of my wife had such a depressing effect upon me that I
had to go to a fancy dress ball and dance and dance till cock-crow.”

It will be seen, therefore, that in the main the American millionaires
do not shine with any startling or blinding effulgence. With here and
there an exception, they are common, vulgar, snobbish, undistinguished
men who happen to have come out top-dog in a series of financial bruising
matches in which few persons above the quality of a savage would have
cared to engage. For the possession and administration of even reasonable
wealth their qualification would seem to be of the meagrest. Outside the
dull mechanical reduplication of their mammoth fortunes, their stunted
intellects permit them only two very doubtful joys, namely, sensational
house building and sensational charity. Mr. Morgan may be taken as
the type of the house-proud money-snatcher. Mr. Rockefeller and Mr.
Carnegie are the charity-proud; and they have reaped the reward of the
charity-proud—the colleges of the one being a by-word and a mockery in
America, just as the “Free Libraries” of the other are a by-word and a
nuisance in England.

I do not believe that in their heart of hearts the Americans
themselves—that is, the great mass of the people—have any feeling
of admiration for the gigantic money-grabbers who rule them. The
American has just perception enough to discern that millionaires are
not altogether the best possible kind of man. On the other hand, if you
take away the country’s millionaires you have robbed her male population
of one of its chief objects of envy and its chief subject of blurring

The shadow of each of the fascinating trinity that I have mentioned
is as the shadow of a Colossus, and is so enormous that it is almost
impossible to pick up an American newspaper or other publication in which
they do not figure and figure prominently. Especially is this the case
with respect to Mr. Rockefeller, upon whose doings or misdoings every
scribbler in America has some comment to offer or some theory to base.
The other day I came across a book of essays published in Boston, which
contained a review of Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace’s “Man’s Place in the
Universe.” And right in the middle of it I found this passage: “When a
little child looks out on the Earth he at first thinks it infinite. He
looks upon it as unorganised and unrelated. Only with increasing age and
understanding can he realise that it is finite and organised. So when
Rockefeller as a lad went into the oil business it seemed to him that
there was infinite scope for the extension of the oil business,” and so
on and so forth. Clearly it is a mighty business to be Rockefeller!




American humour has come to be a bugbear in England, pretty much like
American canned meats.

Twenty years ago, when anybody on this side of the Atlantic wished to
be rather crudely and shockingly amused, he sent to the libraries for
something American. In that day and generation Mark Twain was at the
zenith of his fame and powers, and the names of Artemus Ward and Josh
Billings were names to conjure with. Autres temps autres moeurs. The
popularity of Mark Twain has suffered woeful eclipse, and Artemus Ward
and Mr. Billings have gone clean out of vogue, and are remembered only
as the originators of a very tiresome kind of humour which depends on
phonetic spelling for its more excruciating effects.

The fact is that America and England alike have been dosed to death
with the lucubrations of handy scribblers who caught something of Mark
Twain’s trick and pretended to something of his gift, and the label
“American humourist” nowadays repels with an even greater insistence than
it formerly attracted. Mr. Twain made desperate and valiant efforts to
retrieve his waning popularity with a book called “A Yankee at the Court
of King Arthur.” If ever there was a piece of writing nicely calculated
to tickle and make purr the fat-necked American here was the article. But
it fizzled in the pan, failed in short to bring ’em on again. And it now
belongs to the category of books that people have forgotten. So much for
Mr. Twain, whom I admire, but of whom, nevertheless, I have taken leave
to speak the truth.

Artemus Ward and Josh Billings are dead, and their souls, I trust, are
with the saints; so that they will pardon me when I venture on the
opinion that the humour they gave us was of the thinnest sort, and,
taking into account the furore it created, extraordinarily ephemeral.
However any person of sense came to accept the following for humour
passes my comprehension:—


“In the Ortum of 18— my friend, the editor of the Baldissville Bugle, was
obleged to leave perfeshernal dooties & go & dig his taters, & he axed me
to edit for him doorin his absence. Accordinly I ground up his Shears and
commenced. It didn’t take me a grate while to slash out copy enuff from
the xchanges for one issoo, and I thawt I’d ride up to the next town
on a little Jaunt, to rest my Branes which had bin severely rackt by my
mental efforts (This is sorter Ironical) So I went over to the Rale Rood
offiss and axed the Sooprintendent for a pars.

‘You a editer,’ he axed, evinebtly on the point of snickerin.

‘Yes, Sir,’ sez I, ‘Don’t I look poor enuff?’

‘Just about,’ sed he, ‘but our Road can’t pars you.’

‘Can’t hay.’

‘No Sir—it can’t.’

‘Becauz,’ sez I, looking him full in the face with a Eagle eye, ‘it goes
so darned slow it can’t pars anybody!’ Methink I had him thar. It is the
slowest Rale Road in the West. With a mortified air, he tole me to get
out of his offiss. I pittid him and went.”

The essence of this excursion into the realms of the Comic Spirit is
about as cheap and small a thing in essences as one is likely to come
across. Mr. Ward had made or heard somebody make a punning retort of
an ultra-feeble quality, and straightway he rushes off to turn it into
humourous lucubration. The Americans believed it was “darned funny,”
it raised “gales of laughter” among them, and they shouted about its
excellences till the English also began to recognise them. At best
Artemus Ward is humour of the “Wot-the-orfis-boy-finks” order, and as
such it has always been eschewed by persons blessed with a trifle more
than the milk-maid order of intellect.

And lest I be accused of raking up what the Americans themselves choicely
term “dead dog” I will ask your attention for the space of a paragraph or
two to the brand of the New Humour generally consumed by the inhabitants
of the United States in the present era of grace. In this connection
it would be easy for one to take a distinctly bitter line; inasmuch as
the books of humour as distinguished from the humourous periodicals,
nowadays published in America are not really books of humour at all, but
aggregations of acrid and wicked cynicism. The authors of them either
do not intend to be funny or have no conception of the meaning of fun.
Sourness of spirit, meanness of thought, and savageness of expression
are their principal standby. In the humourous periodicals, however, you
discover a well-defined intention to be funny—though the cynicism and the
vitriol are not of course forgotten.

I believe that these periodicals are nicely adjusted to the public
requirements, for the American is not out to produce even comic papers
“for his health,” and being nothing if not practical, he gives his public
exactly “what they want.” Here are some samples of “exactly what they
want,” published so recently as May of the present year. First as to


    If all the trips I’ve had at sea
    Should take effect at once on me,
    In one huge, nauseated spell
    Gee! wouldn’t I be sick! Well, well!

But possibly the fault is mine. You see I’m English. Perhaps the above
example of the New Humour is really a choice sample of the New Pathos.

Again; and this smacks of genius:


    Of all the things that swim or run,
      Man beats in easy pace;
    He gives big odds to fin and fur,
      And wins in every race.

    He hops into his auto-car
      And handicaps the horse;
    Or takes the greyhound for a try
      And licks him even worse.

    Perhaps the whale or shark get gay
      And want a little go.
    Man dives into his submarine
      And does them down below.

    And now the chesty feathered chap
      Must close his gay bazoo,
    For man puts on his flying gear
      And wallops birdie, too.

As to prose, here you are:


    “Some time ago two surgeons took a ten-pound tumor out of
    Dave Saunders, an’ to-day he got a terrible big bill for the

    “Is Dave goin’ to pay it?”

    “No; he sez, ‘they’ve got enough out of him already.’”


    Behold the tippler and mark how he tippeth in the streets.
    Whoso hath discolouration of the optic? Is it not the
    meddler? Yea. He that is a lunkhead condemneth that which he
    comprehendeth not.

    Be thou not envious of them that have vacation in time of

I have not gone out of my way to search for these excerpts in the cheaper
class of American comic publication. Nor have I been at special pains
to search for blemishes through the files of the ten cent “high class
journal” which is laid under contribution. In point of fact, I find them
in the first number of that journal which came to my hands, namely, its
latest issue obtainable in London. How really foolish and vulgar these
samples are! The first set of verses is about being sick; the second set
is slangy, ill-expressed and contains a childish mistake in grammar; the
first piece of prose is objectionable because of its reference to “a
ten-pound tumor,” and the second piece is sheer banality, meaning nothing
that is worth a smile.

The plain fact is that humour in America is the humour of fatty
degeneration of the intellect. America’s funny man was at one time a
fairly clean, healthy creature, with a droll outlook on the facts of
life. That he was a trifle over-devoted to rye whiskey and effusive
practical jokes, and had a tendency to rank irreverence, were among the
defects of his qualities. The great American people speedily learnt
to vote him slow, and into his shoes they hurried the hard-faced,
terrier-toothed, cigarette-smoking, anæmic, fleering decadent. And at
long and last they have set up for their humourous god the sheer hoodlum
or larrikin, whose sense of what is comic is even more degraded than
that of a Chinaman, and whose view of morality is the view of a naughty
parrot. There can be no possible hope for a country whose risible
faculties are exercised only at squalid moments or excited only by
squalid writing.

No matter how wealthy and hard-headed your man, and no matter how
beautiful or accomplished your woman, they are spiritually and morally
topsy-turvy if they laugh at the wrong things, and I maintain that the
twentieth-century American is consistently laughing at the wrong things,
and quite incapable of appreciating the right and proper humour even when
you have explained it to him. The Scotch cannot see a joke, the Americans
can see only bad jokes.

Nearly all the vilest and most offensive jokes that creep into the
third-rate English comics are of American origin. The Weary Willie
and Tired Tim business is purely American, so are the Buster Brown
and grinning Pup futilities, so are the idiotcies associated with the
patronymic Newlywed; so are the disgusting buffooneries about whiskers.
The English have learnt that American canned meat is a dubious viand. The
sooner they learn that the current American humour is even more noxious
the better it will be for the English.



The abounding gentleman from Idaho, or Cincinnati, or Nahant, will tell
you that the American woman is a dream of beauty and goodness. If I am
to credit the American he would not take eighty thousand dollars for
her—no, sir! At least, he doesn’t calculate that he would. The American
woman, sir, is a peach. The American man believes in her down to the
soles of his store boots, and has been educated to regard her as a being
of angelic antecedents and destiny. Far be it from a simple scribbler
to pluck from her, unless it were by way of a memento, one single angel
feather. But at time and time I have seen a considerable deal of her, and
I shall venture to put her down here as she seems to me, who am no judge
and do not matter anyway.

In the first place I shall assert, though it were at the risk of my
life, that the American woman is not always beautiful, and that even the
beautiful American woman is not always beautiful. I shall go further and
say that for one beautiful woman per thousand head of the population in
America we can produce at least three in England and four or five in
Ireland. Furthermore, the English or the Irish beauty will last you three
times as long as the American variety, and in point of fact it seldom
really wanes, whereas, in America, feminine beauty nearly always passes,
and passes quickly.

It should be clearly understood—and I say it with my hand on my
heart—that this is not the fault of the American woman, with whom I have
no quarrel, and upon whom I desire to pass no aspersion. The vulgar
commentators on the American woman’s physical blemishes and shortcomings
have assured us that they are the direct result of her diet, which
is said to consist of pea-nuts, griddle cakes, oysters, pie, turkey,
stewed terrapin, tinned mushrooms, fat ham, cheese, chocolates, and ice
cream. As is usually the case, however, the vulgar commentators are
entirely wrong. The real enemy of the American woman’s beauty is the
American climate. In the process of time it is climate that makes and
mars everything. It is climate that has made the African black and the
European white. It is climate that is rapidly transforming the American
man into a sort of ignoble red man or Kickapoo Indian, and it is climate
that may eventually make the American woman resemble a squaw. The
American climate produced the American Indian. The American climate is
modifying the physique of the American man and marring and obliterating
the great and undeniable beauty of the American woman.

Most male Americans that one meets nowadays have a curiously Indianised
cast of figure and countenance. Their blood as we know is hybrid blood,
but somehow you never find an American that looks like an Italian or a
Spaniard or an Englishman. Always and inevitably there is that about
him which reminds you of the Indian. Climate is stronger than blood, or
at any rate, the American climate has proved stronger so far. Roughly
speaking, it may be said to induce in the human male black straight hair,
horse features, a swarthy complexion, inclining to a coppery redness, a
thick neck, large hands and flat feet. Its effects upon women I shall
refrain from rehearsing, but you will not fail to discern them if you
look carefully at the next American woman you happen to come across, that
is if she happens to be anything other than one of those splendid and
alluring peaches for the production of which in such charming numbers all
men should be eternally grateful.

I have further to reflect that the American woman’s beauty and charm are,
as a rule, very seriously discounted by the circumstance that she talks
through her nose, with that atrocious intonation that is commonly called
the American accent. I should defy Venus herself to impress with her
beauty anybody above the quality of a dollar hunter or a pork-packer if
she could be imagined to speak in the average American way.

Coming now to the question of goodness, which is a delicate question, it
seems to me more than probable that the American woman is just as good,
and no better, than the rest of womankind. She has been accused of all
sorts of frightfulness—mainly on account of her unfortunate accent and
her free and easy methods of talk. It is certain that she is capable of
the higher forms of devotion and self-sacrifice, even if her views on
divorce are entirely airy and liberal.

But I do not believe that her heart is wicked, and as women go in the
virtue way, she is unsurpassed. In some other respects I must confess
she is to be forgiven, although she is, so far as mind, disposition, and
outlook are concerned, a great deal too much like her half-civilised
Poppa, and affects a great deal too much of the cheap smartness and
abounding audacity that are the stock-in-trade of her still less
civilised brother.

If you talk with an American girl for any length of time you will
discover that among other defects she is troubled with what one may term
a statistical, or, perhaps, more correctly, an arithmetical mind. Her
male folk talk dollars and put everything into the terms of dollars.
She, cute little bon-bon head, talks figures. She is as full of dates
as a Scotchman, and as full of heights, depths, widths, dimensions,
aggregations, and general computations as a guide-book. She will pour
into your willing ear particulars as to the population of the city in
which she was “raised,” and the next city to that, and the next. She is
sure to tell you that she came over on such and such a liner, that they
had exactly one thousand three hundred and forty-nine persons aboard,
including three hundred officers and crew, two hundred and seventeen
saloon passengers, and a precise number of second class and steerage
people. “That ship has got eight thousand electric lights, five hundred
portholes, eight thousand seven hundred and twenty-five tons of coal
in her bunkers, when she leaves port; her stores include four thousand
knives, forks, and spoons, and ten thousand bottles of old rye whiskey;
she is an American boat, and there are twenty performers in the band,
and her captain has made the return trip two hundred and seventy-three
times,” and so on, until you begin to feel as if you had fallen into
a ready reckoner, and to wonder whether in some occult way the young
lady receives a commission from the steamship company. Like every other
American man, woman or child, Mark Twain included, she is plagued also
with the “pass-a-given-point” mania. The Americans are literally eaten up
with processions, and the glory of every one of them is determined by the
circumstance that it took so many minutes to pass a given point. Of the
latest records in this connection, the American girl is sure to prattle
to you with amazing zest. In brief, her mind, besides containing much
that is really valuable and certainly interesting, is a storehouse of
unimportant and altogether gratuitous and unnecessary facts. Summed up,
she is pert, provoking, chock full of information, moderately pretty, a
good deal of a bore, and—an obvious peach.

Then there is the American married woman, who may or who may not have
been married in several different places. If you meet this lady casually
in London or on the Continent, it will take you quite a week to discover
which of the numerous men by whom she is always squired, happens to be
her husband.

Of course, the Americans consider their women the pink of propriety.
“The ladies of this State, sir,—and I am proud to say of every other
State in the Union—are h—l upon propriety!” I do not doubt it, and I
should not say so if I did. The American woman has her good points and
her good qualities, otherwise American man, dazzler as he is, could not
be so idiotically contented with her, or, as he himself phrases it, “sot
on her.” At the same time she has, on the average, omelettes soufflées
for brains and tenderloin steaks for hearts—and in spite of her charming
curves she exhibits defects of mind, emotions, person, and breeding alike
which, in my opinion, condemn her to obscure, or exalt her to take the
highest, rank in the table of civilised feminine precedence according
to the way you look at her. Always excepting, of course, the obvious




Mr. William Dean Howells, who is one of the leaders of that small band of
American authors who have a right to literary consideration in England,
has lately published an entertaining romance which he calls “Through the
Eye of the Needle.” With Mr. Howells’s story as a story I have nothing
to do. In the process of relating it Mr. Howells offers us some candid
criticisms of his countrymen which will serve to illustrate the real
opinion of the cultivated American as to himself, and all that to him

“My hero,” writes Mr. Howells, “visited this country when it was on the
verge of great economic depression extending from 1894 to 1898, but,
after the Spanish War, Providence marked the Divine approval of our
victory in that contest by renewing in unexampled measure the prosperity
of the Republic. With the downfall of the Trusts, and the release of our
industrial and commercial forces to unrestricted activity, the condition
of every form of Labour has been immeasurably improved, and it is now
united with Capital in bonds of the closest affection.”

Mr. Howells does not mean this passage satirically. He is really of
opinion that Providence marked the Divine approval of America’s victory
over Spain “by renewing in unexampled measure the prosperity of the
Republic.” He believes, good easy man, that the Trusts have been humbled,
and that “Labour is now united with Capital in bonds of the closest
affection.” Isn’t it delicious? Mr. Howells further informs us that the
servant problem in America has been “solved once for all by humanity,”
and that New York is no longer a city of violent and unthinkable noises.

“The flattened wheel of the trolley,” he says, “banging the track day and
night, and tormenting the waking and sleeping ear, was, oddly enough,
the inspiration of Reforms which have made our city the quietest in
the world. The trolleys now pass unheard; the elevated train glides by
overhead with only a modulated murmur, the subway is a retreat fit for
meditation and prayer, where the passenger can possess his soul in a
peace to be found nowhere else; the automobile whirrs softly through the
most crowded thoroughfare, far below the speed limit, with a sigh of
gentle satisfaction in its own harmlessness, and, ‘like the sweet South,
taking and giving odor.’” It is beside the mark to note that Shakespeare
did not write “taking” but “stealing,” and he certainly did not spell
odour Mr. Howells’s way.

Our author proceeds to assure us that American men are not now the
intellectual inferiors of American women, “or at least not so much the
inferiors”; that American men have made “a vast advance in the knowledge
and love of literature,” and that “with the multitude of our periodicals,
and the swarm of our fictions selling from a hundred thousand to half a
million each, even our business men cannot wholly escape culture, and
they have become more and more cultured, so that now you frequently hear
them asking what this or that book is all about.”

Later he says of the New Yorkers: “They are purely commercial, and the
thing that cannot be bought and sold has logically no place in their
life. They applaud one another for their charities, which they measure
by the amount given, rather than by the love which goes with the giving.
The widow’s mite has little credit with them, but the rich man’s million
has an acclaim that reverberates through their newspapers long after his
gift is made. It is only the poor in America who do charity—by giving
help where it is needed; the Americans are mostly too busy, if they are
at all prosperous, to give anything but money; and the more money they
give, the more charitable they esteem themselves. From time to time some
man with twenty or thirty millions gives one of them away, usually to
a public institution of some sort, where it will have no effect with
the people who are under-paid for their work, or cannot get work; and
then his deed is famed throughout the Country as a thing really beyond
praise. Yet anyone who thinks about it must know that he never earned the
millions he kept, or the millions he gave, but somehow made them from the
labours of others; that with all the wealth left him he cannot miss the
fortune that he lavishes, any more than if the check (English, cheque)
which conveyed it were a withered leaf, and not in any wise so much as an
ordinary working man might feel the bestowal of a postage stamp.”

We have here, as I have said, views on America not by a shouting American
bluffer or dealer in hyperbole, but by a man of recognised literary
parts and judgment. Furthermore, Mr. Howells is plainly not one of those
Americans who affect a contempt for their country. When he speaks
of American success he attributes it to the favour of Providence; he
can perceive a “vast advance” in the American’s knowledge and love of
literature, and while he reproves the American millionaire, he does so
more in sorrow than in anger. So that on the whole his testimony cannot
fairly be traversed.

And reading between the lines of it, the intelligent observer will not be
slow to discern that it amounts practically to a pretty severe indictment
of the Americans. A man who has no place in his life for a thing that
cannot be bought and sold, is not, after all, the kind of man one can be
expected to admire, even though Providence may appear to smile upon him.
Neither can I express myself violently taken with the man who is “not so
much the intellectual inferior of our women”—and such women—even if you
do frequently hear him asking what this or that book is all about. And
Mr. Howells’s opinion of millionaires and their charity coincides pretty
well with the opinion of Europe.

Mr. Howells, of course, is a well bred, well mannered and entirely
discreet author; he sets down naught in malice, his tendency being
rather in the direction of a little gentle extenuation. Irony, sarcasm,
reproach, and, least of all, flouts and jeers are not among his literary

It goes without saying, however, that America has been written about
in much harsher tones than those of Mr. Howells. From an American book
published pseudonymously two or three years back, a book that does not
appear to have received anything like its due share of recognition either
in England or America, I cull the following picturesque details:—

    “From the moment he takes his seat in his office, until he
    goes home, an American’s business consists of a succession of
    swindles. He either picks the pocket of each man he interviews,
    or the men pick his.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The American gloats over his ability as a liar. He prides
    himself upon the fact that his lie is a plausible one and
    likely to deceive. If it does not come up to the specifications
    he regards it and himself as failures, and a shadow is cast
    upon his life.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The American who has just borrowed a dollar immediately rushes
    into the nearest bar room and announces that he has raised
    500,000 dollars from a prominent millionaire who has become his
    partner, and will back him to any amount in any enterprise,
    sane or insane, in which he may agree to embark. Then for the
    succeeding three hours he talks about himself so loudly that
    the entire neighbourhood throngs around him to join in the

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The American trader in Europe has created the same feeling
    that prevails among a party of honest cardplayers when the
    card-sharper appears at the table.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The American politician never speaks but always ‘orates.’
    If the matter under discussion in the legislative body is a
    question whether five cents shall be expended on pencils, or
    whether Mrs. Bridget O’Neill, or Mrs. Patrick O’Reilly shall
    be appointed scrubwoman of the Senate House, he considers it
    beneath his dignity to say anything that will not recall the
    diction of Cicero or Demosthenes. If the ceiling is to be
    cleaned and a three-and-elevenpenny contract is to be given
    out, he takes the floor and with a loud preliminary bellow
    announces that he is an American citizen, and anyone who says
    that he is not is a confirmed and hereditary liar.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “If an American learns that a man has been bribed he does not
    hate him—he envies him.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “In New York society no man is ever referred to as ‘Mr. Jones’
    or ‘Mr. Smith.’ He is always referred to as ‘Mr. Jones, who is
    worth two million dollars,’ or ‘Mr. Smith, who is worth four
    million dollars and stole every cent of it.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The average Chicagoan has not the faintest conception of the
    true meaning of right and wrong. Right is the method that
    succeeds in getting money. Wrong is the method that does not.”

I shall beg the reader to observe particularly that I do not myself make
these stinging assertions. In the words of the late Sir William Harcourt,
“I merely quote them.” In a sense, perhaps, they may be most correctly
described as exaggerations. But they are exaggerations of a kind which
have more than a substratum of truth in them. I commend them to the
swaggering rubber-jawed American for what they are worth.

Did the scope of this book allow, it would be possible to cite numerous
other animadversions upon American manners and customs by other pens.

No British author of standing has visited the United States and come
back in love with the American people. Dickens loathed them, Thackeray
could not put up with them, Mathew Arnold despised them, and Browning
laughed at them, while as for Tennyson he absolutely refused to go near
them. Even the sensational litterateurs of our own generation, such as
Hall Caine or Bernard Shaw, have failed to find much or anything to
shriek about. The Bishop of London and Father Vaughan are not authors
but diplomats. Rudyard Kipling has been in America more than once, and
remains dumb as to the whole concern. Mr. Zangwill is equally travelled
and equally silent. Mr. Wells, who went out for the purpose, has written
his book and said practically nothing. All of them, and others who
might be named, recognise that what ought to be said would be better
unsaid—unpleasant for the Americans, and consequently likely to provoke
bad feeling. It is gentlest to the Americans to write of them without
paying a preliminary visit to their native air. What would happen if a
person who wields a plain blunt pen were to make a call upon them and set
forth his impressions in good cold type and without fear or pity, no man
may tell. Probably the Americans would shoot him.





It is said that killing a man will not prevent him from going to Chicago,
and you may be certain that nothing will prevent an American from getting
himself elected President of the United States if he can possibly manage

The United States Presidency is believed by the patriotic American to be
the very finest position that mortal man could possibly desire to occupy,
outshining in glory and honour, if not exactly in importance, all “the
effete thrones of Yurrup” rolled into one paroxysm of purple. Tremendous
and almighty as the United States Presidency may be, however, its real
lustre and attraction for the American imagination lies in the fact that
it is within the possible attainment of any and every United States
citizen who does not happen to be a nigger. Of course, your United States
President has sometimes been a very different affair from the United
States Presidency. But that is neither here nor there; because a man who
can write “President U.S.” after his name is, on the face of it, clearly
entitled to think that he casts a large shadow. And he does.

Though the history books will tell you otherwise, astute people—which
phrase includes a fair handful of Americans—are of opinion that the
Republic of the United States has had only a matter of three Presidents.
The first of them was George Washington, who, let it be said, set the
fashion of not relishing the job; the second of them was Abraham Lincoln,
rail splitter, lawyer, statesman and martyr; and the third American
President—one blushes with pride to name him—is none other than Theodore
Roosevelt, now more or less happily reigning.

I am no great hand at either history or biography, so that the reader of
these pages will be spared the usual entertaining biographical details. I
am not even aware if Mr. Roosevelt arrived at the White House by way of
the traditional Log Cabin, or whether he took a pleasanter, less stony
and less circuitous route. It is sufficient for me to have reasonable
hearsay evidence that he is there, and that he has filled up frantically
every hour of his time since he got there.

For the ruler of a great state Mr. Roosevelt is, to say the least, an
appealing and exciting figure. He may be said fairly to out-rival
anything of the kind that has hitherto been offered us this side of the
Atlantic—with one diverting and rhetorical Teutonic exception.

In Mr. Roosevelt you have the following popular and captivating elements:

He is:—

    A Dutchman.
    An American.
    A Diplomat.
    A Soldier.
    A Lawn-Tennis Champion.
    A Cow-boy.
    A Big Game Shooter.
    A Strong Man.
    An Anti-Malthusian.
    A Hand-Shaker-of-All-Comers.
    A Stump Orator.
    A Spelling Reformer.
    An Apostle of the Strenuous Life.
    A Husband.
    A Father.
    A Family Man.
    A Deacon.
    A Humourist.
    A Pugilist.
    A Harriman-hunter.
    A Hardy Horseman.
    A Dog Fancier.
    An Author.
    A Judge of White Mice.
    A San Juan Hero.
    A Nobel Prize Winner.
    A Statesman of the First Order.
    A Hustler;
    President of the United States of America.

Probably it has never been possible to compile such an inventory in
favour of any other example of the human species, and when one looks down
its massive proportions one is at no loss to understand why the American
people consider themselves to be the very finest people on earth and
entirely denuded of flies.

In a comparatively short if variegated career President Roosevelt has
accomplished so much that is extraordinary that one never knows where
he is likely to break out afresh. Before his term of office is out he
may conceivably become many other things besides those I have listed.
It would not surprise me if he turned Vegetarian or King. Nothing
is too high for him, nothing too humble, nothing too exceptional or
unconventional, nothing too imperial. And withal there is a rugged and
stern and solid dignity about him. He wields the big stick throughout
his vast dominions, and spanks down evildoers as a housewife spanks down
wasps. At home he stands no nonsense; abroad he wants peace, perfect
peace, but equally stands no foolery. People of all nations admire him
and wave banners over his head and cheer him to the echo. He is a sort
of quick-firer, strong in the arm and lively in the head, and built by
heaven to rule over the people of the United States.

In many respects President Roosevelt appears to be a sort of republican
replica of no less a personage than Wilhelm II. of Germany. The parallel
between the two potentates is interesting and diverting and to some
extent disconcerting. That they are friends, that they think together on
certain big subjects, that they have exchanged telegrams, that they love
each other, and that they have both been a trifle flighty at times cannot
be doubted.

The really interesting point about Mr. Roosevelt is that he may be
reckoned to stand for the finest expression and exemplar of the American
people. A nation that can manufacture such a President must be possessed
of national characteristics altogether out of the common. He is the
absolute personification of the United States. He is absolutely fearless,
he is absolutely honest, he is absolutely magnificent. Someday he may be
absolutely absolute.

You may be sure that President Roosevelt will go down to posterity as
the beau ideal of American Presidents. In the eye of the Americans he
has made few if any mistakes, and though there is a party in the States
that can be very bitter about him and very rude to him, their bark is
considerably worse than their bite, and secretly they glory in him.
By dint of a good deal of adroitness he has succeeded in keeping his
diplomatic end up in Europe and particularly in England, and nobody
between Tipperary and the Great Wall of China has hard words for him. The
world recognises in him a great genius—unparalleled in modern times.

If ever an American had sound reason to look back with satisfaction on a
well-spent life, Mr. Roosevelt is the man. And if ever republic had just
cause to thank Providence for its luck in the matter of a President, the
United States is that Republic.




“The man who would in business rise must either bust or advertise” is
the American’s article of faith. In civilised countries advertising is
confined to its proper limits, that is to say, it is part of the business
of a tradesman. In America everybody advertises, and advertises through a

The United States appears to have been created for the pure purpose of
advertising itself and everything that occurs in it. In England of late
we have been a little overtroubled with the persistent and flamboyant
advertiser. His flaring posters, his disconcerting circulars, and
particularly his promises of fabulous prizes if one will but buy his soap
or his half-penny paper or his gaspipe bicycles have jarred upon most of
us. The London hoardings blaze with all sorts of invitations to drink
cocoa, swallow pills, go to the theatre, and demand bottled trouble of
one label or another.

The plague is upon England, and probably we shall not get rid of it for
a couple of generations or so. In the meantime, however, we may console
ourselves with the knowledge that gaudy and excruciating as London
advertising may be, it is a mere tea-party compared to the orgie of
announcement that is always in progress in every bright American city.
Furthermore, while the English advertiser has admittedly done his best
to destroy for us the mild delights of a railway journey by erecting in
every second meadow funereal signs with the names of liver pills and
cattle foods upon them he has not yet attained to the audacities of his
American confrère who, in his delirium of publicity, paints the names
of nostrums on the sides of innocuous cows and adorns the scenery with
purple and yellow posters that are positively zoo-like in their noise.

The rocks and hills of America are daubed over with wild entreaties to
the passer-by to fix up his liver with some newly invented mixture, or to
sow someone’s invaluable hair seed on his bald head. Each country barn is
decorated with huge signs bearing disinterested advice as to what sort of
medicine a wayfarer should use in the spring. In no part of any State can
one escape the huge advertisement. If you penetrate into the recesses of
the highest mountain and find there the hut of a bewhiskered hermit, the
chances are that when you approach him he will give you some handbills
containing details of the marvellous cures effected by So-and-So’s
sarsaparilla. The sails of yachts are adorned with statements as to
medicines. Landscapes serve but to promulgate the claims of the quack.
If a man plants a bed of geraniums the chances are that the flowers are
arranged in such a way that they immortalise the fame of somebody’s
ipecachuana. The gardener is induced to do this by a present of free

In the trolley cars of New York one is always in danger of finding a
seat under some such notice as, “The gentleman sitting beneath this sign
is wearing a pair of our inimitable three dollar pants. They fit him
beautifully. Don’t you think they do?” Or, “The gentleman sitting below
has a very yellow complexion this morning. He looks as if he had drunk
too much last night. If he had had proper advice he would have taken a
dose of Green Jackdaw Effervescent before breakfast, then he would feel
very much better than he does now.”

Pills, potions, pick-me-ups, blood purifiers, liver mixtures, lung
tonics, corn cures, and preparations for tender feet appear to be the
only articles of commerce that half the population of the United States
trade in and manufacture. You cannot move in America without having
these nostrums cast violently into your teeth and shoved down your throat
by every species of reminder that printers’ ink and the ingenuity of the
devil are capable of compassing.

With a view to the maintenance and upkeep of this extraordinary jumble
of publicity the country is patrolled year in and year out by thousands
of advertising vans, each accompanied by a considerable staff of “old
hands.” American papers commonly contain paragraphs like the following:
“Advertising car No 2 of Pawnee Bill’s Wild West has the following
people: Al Osborn, manager; Doc Ingram, boss billposter; A. Clarkson,
lithographer; J. Dees, banners; N. C. Murray, J. Judge and twelve other
billposters; B. Balke, paste-maker; and R. Richardson, chef.” That the
boss billposter should rank after the manager and the chef after the
paste-maker is a choice American touch.

When you turn to the question of newspaper advertising you encounter
pretty much the same characteristics, supplemented by a great deal of
top-speed bellowing. In a high-class paper that lies before me as I
write, a gentleman in the wholesale way announces in indecently tall
black type that he is the “only live hardware man on earth,” and that he
has “figured out a way to boost the business of his customers as well
as build a good foundation.” Another dweller in the land of brotherly
love—an artiste this time, if you please—announces himself as “The Death
Defying Daredevil King of the High Wire” and assures us not only that he
has been “the Feature Attraction for Three Seasons in Succession at Luna
Park, Coney Island,” but that his “Reputation Talks for Itself.”

The tone of these announcements is typical. Every American advertiser
insists that he is the greatest man of business alive, and that the
article he is so anxious to get rid of is the only fine thing in the
world. You note, too, with a certain restrained joy, that every second
advertisement appearing in an American paper or magazine starts off with
the magical words: “It Will Pay You.” Thus if we are to believe the
veracious publicity-monger it will pay you to wear So and So’s Collegian
clothes which “are the only garments made in this entire country with
real dash to them”; it will pay you to buy Thingamy Suspenders because
they will make your boy “comfortable and good-natured”; it will pay you
to go about in Thingamy Shoes because when you pay three dollars for the
Thingamy Shoe “you can know that all of your money goes to the purchase
of protection for your feet”; and it will pay you “to keep step with
nature and tempt the fussy appetite with ‘Ten Liberal Breakfasts for Ten
Cents.’” The authors of these touching suggestions evidently understand
the public with whom they have to deal. They have learnt the sublime
lesson that the American has but a single inducement in his nightmare of
a life, namely—the inducement of money or noise.

I shall now consider the advertising feats of that class of American
persons who advertise not for financial gain, but for the sweet sake
of notoriety. A great lady of American birth is said to have advised
her sons that if they were to succeed in life they must make a point of
getting their names into the papers at least once a day. The sons of the
lady appear to have taken the hint, with the result that they have made
themselves fairly snug out of very small beginnings.

In the United States the bare getting of one’s name into the papers is a
comparatively easy matter. Pretty well any American reporter will arrange
that much for you in return for a ten cent drink, while for two such
drinks he will run to a photo-block and a description of yourself as “a
prominent society and club man who made his pile in Wall Street.”

You must always remember, however, that the accomplished American private
advertiser has a soul vastly above the mere elements of the game. Usually
he is rich and often his life has contained episodes which an ingenious
press can work up into scandals with half a column of sensational
headlines—pin new and piping hot—on the shortest notice. Most wealthy
advertising Americans, and indeed many of those who do not advertise,
have been treated to this beautiful brand of publicity.

As a matter of fact it is an ancient and over-worn fetich, and as the
newspaper-reading American is no longer to be excited by it, there is
little or nothing in it for anybody. Consequently the American who is
thirsty for advertisement is compelled to have resource to what are
called “stunts.” So far as one is able to make out you are considered by
American society to achieve a “stunt” when you do something that nobody
but a lunatic could possibly have thought of doing. For example, if you
give a dinner party at a big New York hotel and let it be known that
the guests were all of them chimpanzees you have done a “stunt.” And
the reporters of every paper in the city will rush to you as one man to
find out the facts. They will describe you as a multi-millionaire and a
high-life club man whose existence is a sort of perennial grand slam.
They will assert that your notion of bringing together a company of
chimpanzees for dinner is wildly and unprecedentedly clever. They will
go on to explain that the number of chimpanzees present was 47, that
they turned up in the very smartest evening dress, that they ate and
drank off plate of solid gold and that the champagne bottles were studded
with rubies. And they will wind up by announcing that one of the most
distinguished of the chimpanzees, who made his entrance to the dinner
party out of a balloon made of fifty dollar bills, has just found a
$500,000,000 gold-brick mine in a remote district of Omaha, where he was
“raised,” and is as a consequence about to be elected President of the
National Bank.

Result: your dinner becomes the talk of America for at least a few hours,
and you consider yourself a fortunate and public man. That is, if you
are an ambitious American. Of course, this sort of advertising requires
a good deal of coin to keep up the pace. And while there is not an hotel
keeper in the Union who cannot supply you with a steady succession of
idiotic freak ideas, the cost is a trifle heavy, and you soon find
yourself growing rather tired.

But the American is nothing if not clever. For a change, perhaps, he
acquires an affinity or elopes with another man’s wife in a series of
gorgeous motor cars and specially reserved steamships. He writes letters
to his own wife explaining in ecstatic language what he has done; and
she, good soul, serves them out to the reporters like so many doughnuts.
Again, he gets his boosting—his roaring, rolling advertisement. Two
months later the whole affair may turn out to have been a merry little
“plant”; but your bright American has had his glad columns in the papers,
and nothing in the world can take them from him.

Of course, the “stunts” I have here indicated are really of a rather
out-of-the-way sort. The common or garden “stunt” usually takes the shape
of an appendicitis dinner, pies with girls in them, fountains running
champagne, or Adam and Eve suppers.

American women’s “stunts” are generally giddier still. One lady compassed
social distinction by having her sunshade heavily embroidered with
diamonds, another has tiny musical boxes fitted into the heels of her
shoes that play when ever she puts her feet up—which is often—and a third
wears a live newt in her hair, and has a boudoir full of snakes and lucky

But the soul and essence of it all is advertisement. “Be singular and
you will get talked about; get talked about and you will be happy” is
America’s golden rule.




I am in the happy position of never having gazed upon a pea-nut in my
life. Therefore my notions of what the pea-nut may be are of the haziest.

But I gather as the result of some research that it is a species of
provender, and that it is purchased and consumed by the American masses
in pretty much the same spirit and on pretty well the same occasions
that the common Cockney of our own happy British Islands purchases and
devours barcelonas and whelks. In other words, a pea-nut is an inevitable
concomitant of a lower-class American holiday. It is always with them. It
is the one article that you may depend upon obtaining not only at every
American dry goods store, but at every street-fair, park, beach, and
entertainment ground throughout the country. It is a comestible beloved
of old and young alike, and when the American boy or girl’s mouth is not
at work on chewing gum it is working overtime on pea-nuts.

When a working-class American wants a holiday—and sometimes when he would
rather stay at home—he sets out with his wife and family for the nearest
park. In England, of course, a park means, for the working classes
at any rate, a somewhat decorous and over-laid-out open space where
there is a band-stand, a range of concrete promenades, a Swiss châlet
where bad tea is provided, a policeman, and a number of hard seats. In
America, however, the park is an entirely different affair. It is always
a place in which you can buy pea-nuts. Not only so; it is a place in
which the benevolent American entrepreneurs throw together aggregations
of “attractions” such as are to be seen nowhere else on sea or land. I
find, for example, that for Cream City Park, Lyons, Ill., the following
amusement devices are to be provided during this present summer:—

“Old Mill, Merry-Go-Rounds, Penny Arcade, Circular Swing, Cave of the
Winds, Billiard and Pool Parlours, Jap Ping-Pong Parlour, Cane Rack, Baby
Rack, Illusion Shows, Baby Incubator, Pony Track, Razzle-Dazzle, and
‘other novelties.’ There are also to be Japanese Tea Gardens, Ice Cream
Stands, Soft Drink Stands, Candy and Pop Corn Stands, and facilities for
the sale of pea-nuts.”

Another of these parks at Aldoc Beach, near Buffalo, is described as
“running seven days a week” and as possessing “the most magnificent
Pine Grove and Great Lake,” together with “a $100,000 Summer Hotel, a
$15,000 Figure Eight, a $5,000 Rustic Vaudeville Theatre, and a $5,000
Dance Pavilion,” in addition to a Blinding Array of Restaurants, Chubbuck
Wheels, Houses of Mirth, Box-Ball Alleys, Shooting Galleries, Circle
Swings, and Stands for the sale of Soft Drinks, Tobaccos, Sandwiches, Ice
Creams, Frankfurters—and pea-nuts.

There are literally thousands of these parks scattered throughout the
United States, and at all and each of them roaring provision is made for
the people’s enjoyment. Compared with our English parks, with their sad,
uncertain County Council bands, they fire the imagination. Practically
they represent the old English fair—which the drab English authorities
have so ruthlessly stamped out—very much modernised, Americanised,
and “notionised.” Here the pea-nut reigns supreme. You chew it on the
Razzle-Dazzle and in the Baby Rack and the Old Mill and the House of
Mirth and the Chubbuck Wheel, and even in the $15,000 Figure Eight and
the $5,000 Rustic Vaudeville. It is pea-nuts, pea-nuts, pea-nuts all the
time, and nobody hopes, and nobody has the least desire to get away from
them—from pea-nuts.

Now, as the parks are open throughout the year and run seven days a week,
and are all situated within easy distance of large centres of population,
it follows that the consumption of pea-nuts in America is something
enormous. If the yearly supply were to be put into trucks and looped up
into a procession, it would probably take that procession 368 days to
pass a given point.

The big fact that I wish to bring out is that the Americans are a
pea-nut-fed nation. With this simple statement it is possible to account
for a great deal that is otherwise inexplicable in the American genius
and character.

Nut-chewing is a habit which has been in vogue on the earth for an
incredible period. Originally developed by the Simian races, it was at
one time the only known dietetic habit that did not involve bloodshed.
It fell into neglect in Europe with the coming of the white man, and
throughout the dark ages which ensued nobody appears to have given it
a thought. It remained for the genius of America to revive it, and
there can be no doubt that the renascence has been brought about in a
thoroughly adequate and successful manner.

For, as I have shown, all America now chews pea-nuts. As the result,
they are a square-jawed, massy-faced race, martyrs to dyspepsia, fussy in
the matter of appetite, and indiscriminate in the general selection of
viands, their staples under this head consisting of fat pork and beans,
corn mush and jungle-canned beef. Moreover, by dint of the assiduous and
long-continued absorption of pea-nuts, they have acquired what may be
reasonably termed a pea-nut mind.

If you can imagine the vast hordes of the original nut-chewers of
antiquity suddenly set down in the midst of the machinery and advantages
of twentieth-century civilisation, and imagine what they would proceed
to do in the circumstances, you have gone a great way towards a true
conception of the American people as they really are. Their habits and
manners and aspirations and desires appear in effect to be based entirely
on nut-chewing, which, as every naturalist is aware, tends to render the
chewer acquisitive, cute, tricksome, not given to reflection, tough and
nimble of body, and reasonably devoid of soul. The habit carries with
it, also, an innate love of what is noisy and showy, and a vanity which
passes ordinary human understanding. It is all based on the desire to

So long as America has parks, so long will she chew pea-nuts, and
so long as she chews pea-nuts, so long will she continue to remain
as artlessly, amazingly and convincingly American as she is at the
present moment. To take a few pertinent instances, you will find that
all American oratory is simply and solely pea-nut oratory. I append an
extract from a speech delivered at the New York Board of Aldermen by a
representative from the Borough of Brooklyn, as reported in an American

    “I demand this ordinance to your attention fer the sake of
    humanity and fer the cause of freedom. Has introduced two
    ordinances on this subject before, and now I am submittin’ this
    Bill instead of them two. Maybe I don’t know nuthin’ about how
    things is over here on this side of the bridge, but I know just
    how it is in Brooklyn. An’ I wanter tell you that them motormen
    over in Brooklyn is grinded under the heels of their masters
    just as the slaves was drove in the olden times by his masters,
    an’ it’s time fer us to interfere in this here matter now.

    “Now you may want to know why them motormen don’t come over
    here and speak up to you for their rights. If the is suffering
    such outrages as this, you asks, why don’t they come here and
    tell us that they is sufferin’ and ast us to life the yoke from
    offen them?

    “I’ll tell yer why they don’t come. They dasn’t. That’s why.

    “They’re afraid, because they’re slaves and dasn’t speak up
    fer themselves. If they was to come over here and say to this
    committee, ‘We want you to protect us in our rights for the
    reason that we’re sufferin’ and frozing in the winter,’ what
    would happen?

    “Why, before them men got through speakin’ their names would be
    taken and telegraphed to their masters, and when they got back
    to their cars them masters would tell them they hadn’t no more
    use for ’em no more furever.”

Herein surely one may trace the effects of pea-nuts as easily as white
paint can be seen on a negro.

Now let us turn to a sample of English “as she is wrote” and apparently
spoken by the American who can read:—

    The story about that fisherman wasn’t so bad. He was an old
    guy, and so poor he had a hard time getting three squares a
    day, and he had a wife and three kids to support. For some
    reason too deep for your uncle, he had a rule to pitch his
    nets in the sea only four times a day. One morning he went out
    fishing before daylight, and the first drag he made, he copped
    out a dead donkey. That made him pretty sore. Dead donks were a
    frost, and he was out one throw. He win out a lot of mud, the
    next throw, and he was sick, and he makes a howl about fortune.

    “Here I am,” says he, “hustling all day long and every day in
    the week; I got no other graft but this; and yet as hard as I
    wrestle I can’t pay rent. A poor man has no chance. The smooth
    guys get all the tapioca, and the honest citizen nit.”

    Then he throws again, and finds another gold brick—stones,
    shells, and stuff. I guess he was pretty wild when he sees
    that. Three throws to the bad and nairy fish.

    When the sun came over the hill, he flopped down on his knees
    and prayed like all good Mussulmens, and after that gave the
    Lord another song.

English of this description runs very badly to pea-nut. It is distorted
and degraded and entirely ungrammatical. Yet no one will deny that, if
it is not commonly written, it is at least commonly spoken, even in
such centres as New York and Boston. To American ears and eyes there is
nothing about it that can be quarrelled with. Every American knows what
is meant by “guys,” “tapioca,” “nit,” “gold-brick,” “nairy,” “squares,”
“hot-air,” and so forth; and he uses these and similarly squalid words
and phrases in his daily speech and conversation. If you were to tell him
that such a sentence as “he win out a lot of mud, the next throw” was
grammatically unsound and impossible, he would ask you please to be so
kind “as not to pull his leg.” He is mentally incapable of distinguishing
the kind of muss I have quoted from writing of a correct order, and when
it creeps into his newspapers, and fictional publications, as it is
continually doing, he never as much as suspects that there is anything

Such a pea-nutty view of language points its own moral. It is a view that
is universal among Americans, and it can be proved to obtain even among
the best of American authors, who habitually use some of the crudest
Americanisms without knowing it.

I need scarcely add that the pea-nut flavour predominates in most
American affairs. The advertising of the country is done wholly on
pea-nut principles, its politics are run on pea-nut lines, and its
professional men and financiers indulge in every species of pea-nut
methods. No doubt one should be charitable enough to refrain from blaming
them for it. They are to the manner born, and the pea-nut idiosyncracy
is so firmly implanted in their natures that it would be impossible for
them to shake it out, even if they tried. So that they go on pea-nutting
and pea-nutting from generation to generation, and in spite of the
extraordinary number of colleges, free schools, reading clubs, and
general facilities for culture, they remain clear pea-nut right through.

As I do not happen to wish them any particular harm, I shall express the
pious hope that they will long continue to pea-nut.




The Americans are nothing if not fiercely and incorrigibly theatrical.
It is true that they have only one pose, namely, the pose of being
gloriously and unaffectedly American. Yet in all the large issues of life
they display a strong sense of the stage, they revel in the more obvious
situations, and they have an innate love of a good curtain.

These facts are strikingly illustrated in the American law courts,
where all small matters are managed on the lines of comedy, and all
large matters on the lines of hot and lurid melodrama. The recent Thaw
trial may be taken as a typical case in point, so far as melodrama is
concerned. The speeches of counsel on both sides might have been written
specially for the Adelphi Theatre, and every gesture of the rival
declaimers would seem to have been modelled on the style of the adipose
itinerant actor who plays “Othello” in penny gaffs.

So far as the real stage is concerned, the Americans are to be credited
with quite a number of startling innovations. They were the sole
inventors of the Deadwood Dick kind of play, which involves the tooling
on to the stage of an ancient and battered mail coach, accompanied by
feats of unthinkable skill with the shooting irons. I believe, too,
that they were the only begetters of the drama that has for its central
attraction a real set-to between bona-fide bruisers, who fight with the
gloves off and punish one another for all they are worth under American

Then, of course, I must not forget to mention the world-renowned “Tank
Drama.” It appears that an American manager happened once upon a time to
find himself in a second-hand galvanised iron store. Here he discovered
an enormous iron tank which he found could be purchased for a song.
In a fit of abstraction, and in pursuance of the American tendency to
buy anything and everything that can be had dirt cheap, he purchased
the tank. And having it on his hands and no particular use for it, he
hired a dramatist to write a play around it. To this woolly genius a
tank of course suggested water and high dives and swimmers, and before
you could say hey, presto! Mr. Manager found himself in possession of a
sensational, if somewhat humid, melodrama, the like of which had never
before been seen on any road.

The Tank Drama toured the States for years on end, to the approval and
delight of American audiences, and for anything I know to the contrary,
it is still running, the tank itself having by this time, no doubt, grown
a little leaky.

In England the public is familiar with melodramas in which the principal
part is taken by steam-rollers, circular saws, fire-engines, and other
pieces of mechanism. The Tank Drama, however, was the progenitor of
them all. It was from the Americans, also, that we learnt to grace our
melodramas with the presence on the stage of real live cows, racehorses,
ducks and geese, faithful dogs, dancing bears, blue monkeys, and educated

The American public prides itself upon the rapidity with which the
national dramatists, from Clyde Fitch or Augustus Thomas to David Belasco
or Theodore Kremer, can turn out almost any species of dramatic work to
order. On the production of a five-act tragedy recently in New York,
it was announced that the author had written “the whole contraption”
in under the twenty-four hours. I can well believe it. The majority of
American plays that come to us on this side bear unmistakable indications
of having been written in haste, and with a single eye to getting through
with the labour. This is no doubt due to the circumstance that American
managers have a mania for producing new pieces, and that the average run
of such pieces is exceedingly short. Authors do not feel it to be worth
their while to take pains, particularly as the majority of them have to
subsist by dressing up in dramatic guise some new and big mechanical
invention or some cause célèbre or tragedy in real life or some stupid
story, which happens to have caught on, but which they know cannot in the
nature of things keep the stage for more than a few weeks.

Although one is continually hearing of the triumphs of this or that
American actor or actress in Shakespearean parts, it is a solemn fact
that the average of Shakespearean acting in America is very much below
that of any other country in which Shakespeare is consistently played. I
cannot, of course, forget that America produced the late Mr. Phelps and
gave us Miss Mary Anderson, whom all the world admired. But these are the
exceptions. The rule is that the American actor who plays Shakespeare is
a bull-necked, unlettered mummer who has served his apprenticeship to the
circus business or to the plumbing, and roars out Shakespeare’s lines
with a nasal intonation and an absolute lack of understanding. Nine out
of ten American actors ought to carry a net with them.

I am aware that it may be contended that the foregoing aspects of the
American drama are things of the past, and that in all essential respects
the theatre in America is nowadays on an equal footing with the theatre
in England. In a considerable measure, this may be so, due, no doubt,
to the mixed beneficence of the blessed brotherhood: Frohman, Klaw and

Yet there can be no getting away from the fact that the American plays
and American companies that are from time to time brought to London for
our edification fail woefully to interest us.

In London, quite lately we have been presented with two plays of American
extraction and rendered by American companies. One of them “Mrs. Wiggs
of the Cabbage Patch” to wit, at Terry’s Theatre, appears to have been
a success, from a monetary point of view, and nobody can witness it
without entertainment. On the other hand, it suffers from that pea-nutty
exuberance and thinness of interest which are so characteristically
American. The sentiment in it is of the floweriest and slobberiest sort,
the comedy forced and jerky, and the setting squalid and depressing to a
degree. It is said to be a transcript of life among the American poorer
classes, and herein conceivably it is instructive if not altogether
uplifting; for it indicates only too plainly that the hackneyed American
talk about “the full dinner-pail” and the general snugness and decency
of the existence of the American poor has precious little foundation in
fact. Of course, Mrs. Wiggs herself is made to exhibit singularly good
qualities of heart, and a certain shrewd and humorous wisdom. But the
rest of the characters—not even excluding the weepily-named Lovey-Mary
and Mrs. Wiggs’s troops of wild-cat children—are the kind of people whom
it sets one’s teeth on edge to meet. If, as I am told, America is full
of Cabbage Patches, I can only say that America should hasten to the
penitent form.

The other play of which London was adjured to expect great things was
called “Strongheart.” It ran for a couple of weeks or more at the Aldwych
Theatre, and was then taken off. “Strongheart” purported to give us some
highly realistic glimpses of American college life. There was a great
deal of American football in it, and a great deal of ra, ra, ra-ing about
it. There were also unlimited quantities of ra, ra rant. But the plot
exhibited the usual thinness, the construction was slack and loose,
and the characterisation feeble and colourless. If the company which
supported the handsome Robert Edeson in this particular piece is to be
taken as a fair sample, I feel free to conclude that in the lump American
actors and actresses are a reasonably poor crowd. Play as they would,
the men failed to convince us that they were persons of any particular
breeding, and the women said their lines as if they were in pain, and
walked through their parts like so many uninspired clothes horses. Of
course I know America has many gifted actors and actresses such as
William Faversham, James K. Hackett, E. H. Sothern, Julia Merlowe,
Olga Nethersole and Mery Mannering—but, as luck will have it, with the
exception of the second-named, who is a Canadian, they’re all English.
And so is even the inimitable Hap Ward. On the whole, I think America
will have to make some very serious strides in the dramatic art before
she can fairly hope to show England anything that is worth looking at.

When you turn to the music halls you find the American in equally sad
case. There is no performer of note on the English music-hall stage whose
training and experience have been American. From the other side we get a
few trick bicyclists, wire-walkers, high divers, and comic speech makers
whose pea-nutty witticisms are obviously culled from the comic papers.
They help to fill up the programme, without in any sense helping to fill
up the house.

It is in this connection that the Americans have made a practical avowal
of their pathetic inferiority; for they are said to have made contracts
with some of the leading English stars for appearances in America,
on terms which plainly indicate that the American managers must be
singularly hard up for talent and quite incapable of finding it in their
own country.

The fact is, that in this as in a variety of other matters, the
American’s cock-sureness and unblushing faith in his personal beauty
and powers have led him considerably astray. The American really
possesses scarcely any talent. All he can do is to boast and shout and
advertise. And having little or nothing behind him to boast and shout
and advertise about, he is bound in the long run to find himself at a
disadvantage. Half the actresses and female music-hall artists of America
are successful not because they can do anything, but because they have
been “boosted” into fame by the pushful, blatant manager. The sole
accomplishment of many of them is that they can undress prettily in full
view of their audiences.

For the rest they bolster up their position by extraneous escapades
rather than by art. They are harum-scarum, feather-brained young women
who for the most part would find it exceedingly difficult to get a living
by the exercise of their alleged smartness before an English public. And
as for American actors and music-hall men, the best that can be said of
them is that when they are not vulgar they are deadly dull, and the worst
that their real sphere of life is the American circus. I wish they would
all take to the Tank.

The average American theatrical man, invariably strikes me as being a
born circus-man, intended by nature to go around in a gaudy procession
by day and to fill up his nights showing off wild beasts and freaks and
Deadwood coaches. Unconsciously he does all his business and manages all
his affairs on circus principles. He is for ever beating the drum and
inviting the crowd to walk up and see the finest show on earth. The ideal
man of his private bosom is the late P. T. Barnum, who was the father of
advertisement and the originator of the fine art of “boosting.” It was
P. T. Barnum who said, or who got somebody to say for him, “When you have
anything good, keep on letting on about it, and you will get rich.”

The American business man has always considered that saying to be the
extreme height of philosophy.




The Americans are all “sports.” But to their credit, they are one and
all “dead games.” They have a sporting tradition which extends back to
the time when their great-grandfathers gambled for negresses and went
trailing for Indians in pretty much the same way that an Englishman goes
shooting wild duck.

It is said, with what truth I know not, that the Americans hunt
the fox in red coats and top-hats, and that they are yachtsmen and
fishermen and big game killers. I have met a considerable number of
Americans—well-to-do and otherwise—but I never yet came across one whom
I could conscientiously figure in any of the latter connections. Of
course, there is the America Cup Race to confound me, and there are the
redoubtable doings of President Roosevelt on the rolling prairie and
in the Rockies, and there is young Mr. Jay Gould’s defeat of our Mr.
Eustace Miles at Rackets or Ping Pong or some such game. All the same,
I will never believe that the modern American is leisurely enough or
uncommercial enough to know much about real sport.

That they play games in America even as we play games in England appears
to be fairly evident. The game of white man’s games, namely, cricket,
is, however, a game they do not understand. Baseball and football on
the other hand are exercises which they are alleged to have cultivated
out of all recognition. Baseball I know nothing about. And when I come
to consider it closely, I could wish that I knew nothing about American

Pugilism without the gloves having been forbidden by law in America,
the free and equal inhabitants thereof must e’en look round for a form
of sport which would allow of their “lamming the hides off one another”
without being pulled up short by the police; and they settled on
football. The essence of American football is not to kick or punch the
ball, but to kick, punch, break up, deface and destroy the next man. On
all American football fields a squad of surgeons, bonesetters, and nurses
have to be in continual attendance. The crushing of a player’s ribs, the
gouging out of his eye, or the splitting open of his head are regarded as
trifling matters among American sportsmen, and when the football player
goes forth to the fray, he makes a point of taking a fond farewell of
his relations and friends in case of even more serious accident. Here,
again, you have a distinct instance of the American tendency to outrage
and excess. They have overdone football to such an extent that they
themselves consider it in the light of something which approximates
closely to a murderous affray. So much for games.

As Indians are no longer shootable, and negroes can no longer be
hunted with dogs, and the buffalo is extinct, and the grizzly a “rare
proposition” and difficult of access, the modern American sport has to be
content with smaller deer, such as possum and bobolink and wild turkey.
And when he goes gunning for these trophies he is a sight to see. Nobody
can rival him in the magnificence of his outfit. He insists upon donning
cow-boy attire and proceeding to the field of action on a fiery mustang,
with a magazine of guns slung all over him, and enough ammunition to take
Port Arthur. The whole of this equipment has been purchased at store
prices, and he acquires it not because it is likely to be useful to him
but because he thinks that it makes him look smart. When it comes to
yachting or fishing or racing you can depend upon him to display an equal
gaiety of demeanour and to “dress” and “swank” the part to perfection.

For the fox-hunting I shall say nothing. The indigenous American fox does
not run straight, the imported fox has lost some of the best qualities of
his English forbears, and the American variety of foxhound is a romping,
ill-mannered, and indiscreet quadruped.

The national sport of America is horse racing, qualified with a
considerable dash of trotting. And here, of course, the American
temperament in all its aspects is made to shine. The head quarters
of American horse racing—the Epsom, Ascot and Sandown of the United
States—is a place called Saratoga, where the trunks come from. Here you
find the American horse, the American racing man, and the American sport
in their highest and lowest and most perfect expression. It is said
that a Saratoga horse is poison-proof; being so accustomed to profound
potations of laudanum, bromide, and other sedatives that he can quaff
any quantity of them without turning a hair. The people who live at
Saratoga are all horsey and dishonest. They speak the most degraded form
of Anglo-Saxon—a sort of Americo-Negroid flash talk—and what they do
not know in the way of knavery and brutality has yet to be invented.
It goes without saying that all American racing men do not necessarily
dwell in this sublime spot. But a quite considerable contingent of them
have learnt lessons out of the Saratoga book, and are consequently as
dangerous to deal with as it is possible to conceive that white men could

The American sportsmen we are privileged to see in England have, with
some notable exceptions, failed signally to secure our confidence. There
are honest men among them—though never by any chance a “jay”—and there
are sheep of a blackness which would do no discredit to the nether pit.
On the whole their connection with the English turf has been unfortunate
for the English turf. We are most of us quite old enough to remember the
unpleasant things that happened when an organised gang of these gentry
descended upon our innocent English rings and racecourses some three
years ago. They got their hands well into the English pockets, depleted
us of much glittering money, raised what they were pleased to consider
“general h—l” in the scandal way, and left us outraged and aghast. Up to
this period in our history the astute English racing-man had regarded
himself as the last word in craft and wariness; but the Americans
despoiled him as easily as if he had been a “tenderfoot,” and when he
discovered it, Mr. Englishman was very shocked. The racing interests of
these realms is still suffering from the shaking it received during the
exciting period to which I refer. The only profit the poor Britishers got
out of the deal was a new-fashioned way of riding, which still remains in
vogue, and a lesson in caution which will last us a good century.

What the American jockey really means was forcibly borne in upon us by
the vagaries of a Mr. Tod Sloan. By dint of the usual advertising and
bluff, coupled indeed with no ordinary gifts as a horseman, Mr. Sloan
made his early career in England a success at the first blush. He was
soon in receipt of an income of ridiculous dimensions, and hob-nobbing
with the best blood of the country. He got found out, as Americans will,
and ended up feebly by smacking a waiter across the head with a champagne
bottle. Luck does not appear to have looked his way since. He went back
to America a disgraced man, even for America; and took to giving tips
for a New York paper. At the present moment he is said to be engaged
in the gentle art of billiard-marking at a salary running to at least
ten dollars a week. I recite the history of Mr. Sloan to encourage the
others. Our experiences with the American racing-man in this country
justify us in assuming that he is an exceptionally sad dog at home.
America is overrun with him, and while she has done everything that lay
in her power to corral and exterminate him he still continues merrily on
his wicked way.

It only remains to point out that the Americans as a people are frantic
gamblers, and that they are infatuated enough to regard gambling as a
form of sport. Probably more gambling at cards goes on in the United
States than in the whole of the countries of Europe put together. The
proper American is everlastingly playing at poker, which is a bluffing
game, and which he will assure you trains him for his business. The
American card-sharper has been famous in song and story time out of
mind. For sheer coolness, audacity, and skill at the job, he has never
had an equal. Occasionally he lands on these shores, with a picturesque
entourage, takes a flat in the West End of London, and relieves the
adolescent gentry of the neighbourhood of their little alls. Then he is
up and off, on the wings of the morning.

Among themselves, too, the Americans play a great deal of roulette,
petit chevaux, and kindred fascinations. They count also amongst the
most enthusiastic patrons of Monte Carlo, where season after season many
of them turn up with very little money and make a fat thing of it. Last
season a long-haired gentleman from Kansas City scooped up between two
and three hundred louis a night for twenty nights running by the simple
process of walking from table to table and backing 17. He told me that he
and his wife were there for a little trip, and that he had hit on the 17
idea because 17 was the number of their cabin on the liner which brought
them over. Of course 17 can refuse to come up at Monte Carlo for hours at
a time. But whenever this raw-boned large-handed citizen of Kansas chose
to put money on it, up it came inside two or three spins.

There are American gamblers at Monte Carlo, however, who are not by any
means so consistently lucky as my friend. The money some of them get
through when they are having a bad time would probably astonish the old
folks at home. But it is only fair to them to say that they take their
losses with an unruffled, if rather moist, brow and go off solemnly to
cable for further supplies.

When a certain sort of American millionaire turns up in the
Mediterranean paradise there are sure to be merry doings. I have seen
such a one mop his wet face after handing the bank a bundle of notes that
would have made a tidy year’s income for a man with a large family, and
remark, a little feebly, “Gee whizz!” Then he was led gently away by a
number of pretty ladies.

It is in what one may term hard gambles such as he gets at Monte Carlo
that the American shows his most sportsmanlike qualities. At roulette,
or trente et quarente, it is almost impossible for him to cheat, and
consequently he wins or loses more or less calmly and with perfect
honour. But at poker—tut—tut!





The national peril of the United States is hogs. Of the peculiar and
subtle influences which have driven most Americans into the pig business
I find it impossible to formulate any reasonable account. Of course,
there is the fact that the pig business has large monies in it, and that
America is a country in which it would seem you have only to tickle a
little pig with a hoe to turn him into a fine fat porker.

There can be no doubt whatever that a very large percentage of Americans
think, talk, and raise pig throughout the whole of their natural lives.
This industry appears to be of such a fascinating character that when
once you have got into it you cannot possibly get out of it. Even if
you wax unrighteously rich and get elected to Congress and move your
family to New York, you still stick to pork and lard as if they were your
brother. I understand that many of the ball-rooms in the big brown stone
mansions in Fifth Avenue are waxed with lard.

I do not know whether there were any pigs in America before the Pilgrim
Fathers landed. But it is certain that there are millions of them there
now, and that they eat apples and grow wondrous frisky and have a good
time of it—till killing day comes around. And it is precisely here that
the frightful Americanism of the hog begins. For the wicked pig, like the
wicked man, has a knack of finding his way to Chicago—which, as all the
world now knows, is the most bloodthirsty, sultry, and unregenerate city
on the face of the earth. In this place they kill pigs by the thousand
daily. Hoggish shrieks rend all the air, the stores and warehouses groan
with the pig’s dismembered parts, and the odour of his frizzling adipose
tissue is in every nostril.

It seems to me more than likely that the pig owes the beginnings of his
present supremacy in the United States to the Irish, who are pretty thick
upon the ground there. An Irishman without a pig in one form or another
would in all likelihood take cold, or die of heart-ache. In his own
distressful Island, the Irishman and his pig live on terms of freedom
and fraternity that put the American Constitution to the distinct blush.
Not only does the pig pay the greater proportion of rent that gets paid
in Ireland, but he is the friend and playmate of the family, and is
invariably accorded a cosy corner for himself on the domestic hearth.

It seems only natural, therefore, that in emigrating to the States, the
Irishman who could manage it would insist on taking with him one or more
pigs, probably as much for company’s sake as for any other reason. And
behold the result! What was a simple and very human foible on the part of
the Irishman, has become, with the American, a raging and soul-consuming
obsession. Pork, pork, pork, pork, pork! That is the cry that rises daily
and hourly to heaven from the greater part of the United-States-half
of North America. Everybody is concerned in it; everybody has money
in it; everybody wants to get more money out of it. The pig is rushed
through his feeds, weighed every morning till he has assumed the right
specific gravity, hurried off by car to his doom, killed and slain on the
no-waiting-here principle, and turned into hams, sides, lard, brawn, and
sausages for the delectation of a hungry world before he has a chance to
say George Washington.

America as a country, and the Americans as a people, depend upon hogs for
their prosperity to an extent that is appalling. Upon the dead weight
of him in the warehouses, and upon his firmness, or want of it, in the
markets, hangs the stability of all sorts of stocks, shares, bonds,
debentures, and general securities. If pig is “up,” America is a land of
contented households and smiling faces. If pig is “down,” she is plunged
forthwith into the deepest woe and the meanest irritability.

All of which affords one further striking evidence that the Americans are
really a wonderful people, and that they deserve the generous tributes of
praise that they so consistently and lavishly draw upon themselves.

A nation whose principal diet is pea-nuts, and whose principal profit is
derived from the sale of pigs, is obviously pretty low down in the scale
of civilisation. A hog tender cannot by any chance be the finest kind of
man, neither can a pork butcher or a wholesale ham merchant. And every
American who is not a member of a trust, or a pastor of a church, or a
boss billposter, or a missionary, or a comic singer, is either a hog
tender, a pork butcher, or a wholesale ham merchant. At any rate, so one
gathers from the authorised reports.

And just as nut-chewing is responsible for certain grave weaknesses in
the American character, so is pig-dealing. The pig and the potato have
made the Irishman the idlest man in the world. The pig takes no rearing,
and the potato is such a lively and prolific tuber that it will grow
almost without planting. The Irishman has reaped the full disadvantages
incident to these merits in the pig and the potato. And one feels sure
that the American is suffering equally from the effects of the pig. I
have no wish to reopen the box of horrors which was introduced to our
notice some time back by the author of “The Jungle.” That gentleman
did his work thoroughly, and the atmosphere is even yet redolent in
consequence. It does not concern me that Chicago meats, tinned or cured,
are not always entirely fitted for human consumption, or that the Chicago
method of treating such meats are uncleanly, or that the Chicago idea of
industrial efficiency is a perverted one. What does concern me is that
Chicago is an American city, built by Americans, run by Americans, and
made lurid by Americans—on pig.

To suggest to the American reformer that he should take steps for the
immediate extermination of the pigs in America, steps, in fact, such
as have been taken with a view to the extinction of the rabbit in
Australia, would be to fill him with horror and amazement. He is all for
the amelioration and improvement and cleaning up of Chicago; he does not
see that it is the pig and the great American people who are the root
trouble. Prohibit the breeding and rearing of pigs throughout the United
States, and you will have gone much further towards the cleaning up of
Chicago, and, for that matter, the cleaning up of America, than you are
ever likely to get by dealing simply with Chicago itself. So long as
there are pigs, so long will Chicago reek. Abolish pigs, and you have
abolished the worst features of the world’s foulest city.

The reformer will find that my suggestion is an impracticable one. He may
even go the length of calling it frivolous and ridiculous. But we shall
see what we shall see. America will one day either have to forsake pig or
come to very bitter grief. She is already in considerable straits as to
the marketing of her porcine staples. She has shoved them down the necks
of her own people till they can no more. She is pushing them down English
throats with all the force that in her lies, and the limit is within a
very little way of being reached. Do as one will, one cannot consume
more than a certain amount of American pig in the course of the day’s
deglutition. Europe is taking far more than is good for her even now,
and yet the American demand is for bigger sales and extended markets, to
prevent the stuff from rotting at home. The position is unfortunate in
quite a number of senses; but it is precisely what any prescient American
ought to have expected. America is overdoing it in the matter of pig,
just as she is overdoing it in most other matters. When you have got the
measure of people’s hunger and purchasing capacity you cannot appreciably
increase them by any amount of advertising or bluff.

The Americans boast that they can sell everything appertaining to a pig
save and except the squeal. I don’t wish to frighten them, but it would
not surprise me in the least if within the space of a few years the large
accumulation of squeals which they must, by this time, have on hand were
to arise up as it were, and din their ears in a manner which they will
not relish.

I may remark finally that in spite of everything that Chicago may say
and publish in their praise, there can be no question that American pig
products are of a most inferior and unappetising quality as compared
with the real article. American hog meat exhibits a coarseness of
grain and a crudeness of flavour which will incline any person of
gustatory discrimination to the abstention of the Hebrew. Eggs and bacon
constitute the English national breakfast dish; ham and eggs are the
sure rock and support of our country inns and cheap restaurants. Both
these dishes have, however, fallen into sad disrepute during late years,
and I have no hesitation in attributing this grave and heartrending
circumstance to the fact that the bacon and ham nowadays served are
almost exclusively American.

The gentlemen from the other side must excuse me if I appear as he would
phrase it, “to tread somewhat too severely on his face”; but I really
mean him no evil. Rather do I wish him all manner of good.

Besides which it is one’s duty to be patriotic; and charity—even in the
article of pig—should begin at home.




Before I leave the jury of potent, grave and reverend Britishers to their
own reflections on the subject before them, it may be well to indulge in
a little summing-up.

I have shown that the fiery, untameable American is a creature of more
than doubtful antecedents, and that he conceals beneath a veneer of
smartness and originality several qualities of mind and heart that are
not greatly to his credit. I have shown that his destiny would seem to
lie in the direction of a reversion to a condition of pseudo-barbarism
which will in many respects identify him with the aboriginal possessors
of his country. Already the face, features and body of him are becoming
plainly Red-Indianised. Already his talk contains hints and suggestions
of “war-paint,” the “war-path,” the “tomahawk” and the getting of
“scalps.” If I mistake not the rest is bound soon to follow.

I have shown also that the American woman, in so far as she is exhibited
to us in London, and on the Continent of Europe, is a somewhat frivolous
female, and not always comely; smart, possibly, and lively, possibly,
but on the whole disposed to be too smart and too lively. I have given
you a peep at the American millionaire, and found him wanting in
everything but money, and not invariably too well provided with that. I
have pointed out that American advertising, whether for the sake of gain
or of notoriety, is a shameless, blatant and undesirable affair. For the
first time in history I have set it on record that the Americans eat too
many pea-nuts. I have run the rule over their painful attempts at the
dramatic art, and proved that in this important connection they have been
responsible for many banalities and futilities, and that their average of
performance is far below that of the rest of the theatre-using world. I
have demonstrated, also, that their real metier is the giddy tenth-rate
circus, ablast with drums and the roaring of wild beasts, the snuffling
of freaks, and the shrieking mirth of the vulgar. I have paid a passing
tribute to the integrity and blamelessness of their sportsmen. And I have
warned them solemnly about pork. What more can be expected of me?

It is more than likely that I shall be told that I have chosen for the
subject of my remarks a rather stodgy type of American, which is rapidly
giving place to a saner, wholesomer, and pleasanter type, resulting from
the spread of culture and a modification of manners on the best European
plans. To this I reply that I have spoken of the American exactly as he
seems to me to be, and judged him on the numerous samples which have
hitherto come my way. That there must be some residuum of sound and
serious people in the United States seems probable, but I have never been
to the United States.

Can anyone point to anything in the world that America is accomplishing
which is purely and simply calculated to serve the highest interests of
the human race? Can you look upon her trusts, her general methods of
finance, her social and industrial system, her bosses, her political
parties, the administration of her law, her press, her religious
mountebanks, her quacks and charlatans of all conditions, and pronounce
them to be good? Is it not the fact that these, in common with pretty
well the whole of the remainder of her institutions, are not only
defective, but a great deal more defective than one’s right to expect in
view of the exceptional natural resources of the country and her great
energy and wealth?

You are at liberty to answer these questions in any way you please; but
the conviction of myself and a by no means inconsiderable number of other
persons will remain the same.

It is clear that if the Americans are going to take that exalted position
among the nations to which they are for ever laying claim, they will be
compelled to get rid of a great many excrescences of temperament which
they seem now only too busy developing and emphasising by every means in
their power.

Is it possible for them, in the nature of things, so to disencumber

Will they ever become a really free country, dethrone the millionaire and
the boss and acknowledge honesty as a political virtue?

Will they ever put silencers on the yellow press and elect a
congressional committee to examine the gangrenous decay of their wit and
the dropsical growth of their emotions?

Will they ever make a point of keeping their women at home and give
practical proof of their pride in the peaches by marrying them themselves?

Will they ever learn the English language which was the best thing
imported in the “Mayflower”?

Will they ever get rid of the climatic influences that compel them to
speak and sing through their noses?

Will they ever quote their astounding President at anything but a
discount or realise that he is their greatest national asset?

Will they ever place a prohibitive tariff on noise and lynch
sensation-mongers as they do niggers?

Will their playwrights ever learn the difference between a phonograph
record and a play and will their audiences ever learn to appreciate
acting when they see it?

Will they ever discover that sport is not merely a business of record
breaking and that business and football, I class the two together, are
not the sports of the stone age in which the vanquished was not only
overthrown but subsequently utterly consumed?

Will they ever give up pea-nuts?

Will they ever cease from the blind cultivation of pork?

I trow not.

And as these chapters are intended a great deal more for the English than
for the Americans, I may say here and now that it is the Englishman’s
plain duty to himself and to the race to refrain as far as in him lies
from the easy sin of imitation. In his admiration and envy for the
magical and almost uncanny successes of his American brother, let him not
be carried away with the stupid notion that it is possible for him to go
forth and do likewise. For one thing, he hasn’t got the climate; and for
another he hasn’t got either the pea-nuts or the pork.

Let the Englishman, therefore, be content to remain unreservedly and
unsophisticatedly English. When he sees an American adaptation or
invasion—whether commercial, social, religious, or otherwise—coming his
way, let him frown it down, pass by it and flee from it. Such things may
seem simple and innocuous and desirable enough in themselves, they may
tickle the imagination, and they may even appear to be for the distinct
betterment of mankind. But in the aggregate they must of necessity tend
to the Americanisation of this Country—and that is an evil which every
Britisher ought to be prepared to make any sacrifice to avoid.

If any profit worth having is to come out of the present welter it will
come by the Anglicisation of America, and not by the Americanisation of
England. The Americans themselves recognise the weight and importance
of this fact. Some of them are already wearing eye-glasses. They smile
in their sleeves at our readiness to adopt the least admirable of their
multifarious foolish ways. When an American meets an Englishman who is
trying to run his business or his household or other of his affairs after
American models, and particularly when he meets an Englishman who looks
upon the Americans as his superiors and masters at the game of life, he
is sheerly, if unavowedly, amazed. He knows what America is, he knows in
his heart what America means, and if it lay in his power to choose the
place to which he will go when he dies, that place would not be Chicago,
nor would it be even Paris, but a clean, free, un-Americanised England.

But with all their usually enormous and often brilliant faults—that
amaze, even if they do not stagger humanity—the Americans are a nation
of Cæsars. In every field of activity they have scored many triumphs.
But they are not satisfied with acquisition and conquest on a colossal
scale, they want to surpass all previous records in ancient or modern
times. They are endowed with an inherent genius for arriving at their
destination, and the destination they have set down for themselves in the
national time-table is one in keeping with their vast and great country,
whose mission it seems to be to make Europe and the world sit-up.
Therefore, within the next decade or two, I should not be surprised to
see a very much larger splash of purple on the map of the earth—and to
see it called the American Empire.



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