MY first experience of democracy-in-being followed swiftly upon boarding the steamboat for San Francisco, when "Show this man Number 231" was the American steward's command to a cabin boy. I had no objection to being called a man: far from it; but after years of being called a gentleman it was startling. This happened at Yokohama; and when, in the Customs House at San Francisco, a porter wheeling a truck broke through a queue of us waiting to obtain our quittances, with the careless warning, "Out of the way, fellers!" I knew that here was democracy indeed.
I confess to liking it, although I was to be brought up with another jolt when a notice-board on a grass-plot suddenly confronted me, bearing the words
THIS MEANS YOU.
But I like it. I like the tradition which, once your name is written in the hotel reception book, makes you instantly "Mr. Lucas" to every one in the place. There is a friendliness about it: the hotel is more of a home, or at any rate, less of a barrack, because of it. And yet this universal camaraderie has some odd lapses into formality. The members of clubs in America are far more ceremonious with each other than we are in England. In English clubs the prefix "Mr." is a solecism, but in American clubs I have watched quite old friends and associates whose greetings have been marked almost by pomposity and certainly by ritual. Yet Americans, I should say, are heartier than we; more happy to be with each other; less critical and exacting. They certainly spend less time in discussing each other's foibles. That may be because the dollar is so much more an absorbing theme, but more likely it is because America is a democracy, and the theory of democracy, as I understand it, is to assume that every man is a good fellow until the reverse is proved. I should not like to say that the theory of those of us who live under a monarchy is the opposite, but it seemed to me that Americans are more ready than we to be sociable and tolerant.
Try as I might I could never be quick enough to get in first with that delightful American greeting, "Pleased to meet you," or "Glad to know you, Mr. Lucas." I pondered long on the best retort and at last formulated this, but never dared to use it for fear that its genuineness might be suspected: "I shall be sorry when we have to part."
IT was in San Francisco that I learned—and very quickly—that it is as necessary to visit America in order to know what Americans are like as it is to leave one's own country in order to know more about that. Americans when abroad are less hearty, less revealing. They are either suffering from a constraint or an over-assertiveness; and both moods may be due to not being at home. In neither case are they so natural as at home. I suppose that on soil not our own we all tend to be a little overanxious to proclaim our nationality, to maintain the distinction. In our hats can perhaps be too firmly planted the invisible flag of our country.
Be this as it may, I very quickly discerned a difference between Americans in America and in England. I found them simple where I had thought of them as the reverse, and now, after meeting others in various parts of the country, even in complex and composite New York, I should say that simplicity is the keynote of the American character. It is in his simplicity that the American differs most from the European. Such simplicity is perfectly consistent with the impatience, the desire for novelty, for brevity, of the American people. We think of them as always wishing to reduce life to formulæ, as unwilling to express any surprise, and these tendencies may easily be considered as signs of a tiring civilisation. But in reality they are signs of youth too.
SAN FRANCISCO I shall chiefly recollect (apart from personal reasons) for the sparkling freshness and vigour of the air; for the extent and variety of Golden Gate Park, where I found a bust of Beethoven, but no sign of Bret Harte; for the vast reading-room in the library at Berkeley, a university which is so enchantingly situated, beneath such a sun, and in sight of such a bay, that I marvel that any work can be done there at all; and for the miles and miles of perfect tarmac roads fringed with burning eschscholtzias and gentle purple irises. That was in April. I found elsewhere in America no roads comparable with these. Even around Washington their condition was such that to ride in a motor-car was to experience all the alleged benefits of horseback, while in the Adirondacks, anywhere off the noble Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Highway, with its "T.R." blazonings along the route, one's liver was bent and broken. While I was in America the movement to purchase Roosevelt's house as a national possession was in full swing, but this Memorial Highway strikes the imagination with more force. That was an inspiration, and I hope that the road will never be allowed to fall into disrepair.
WATCHING the young men and maidens crowding to a lecture in the Hearst Amphitheatre at Berkeley, under that glorious Californian sky, I was struck by the sensible, frank intimacy of them all, and envied them the advantages that must be theirs over the English methods of segregation at the same age, which, by creating shyness and destroying familiarity, tends to retard if not destroy the natural understanding which ought to subsist between them and if it did would often make life afterwards so much simpler.
I asked one of the professors to what extent marriages were made in Berkeley, but he had no statistics. All he could say was that Cupid was very little trouble to the authorities and that Mr. Hoover and Mrs. Hoover first met each other as students at Stanford. And then I asked an ex-member of one of the Sororities and she said that at college one was a good deal in love and a good deal out of it. The romance rarely persisted into later life.
She pronounced romance with the accent on the first syllable, whereas somewhere half-way across the Atlantic the accent passes to the second; and why such illogical things should be is a mystery. The differences can be very disconcerting, especially if one refuses to give way. I had an experience to the point when talking with some one in Chicago and wishing to answer carefully his question as to the conditions under which the poor of our great cities live. These are, in my observation, infinitely worse in England than in America. Indeed I hardly saw any poor in America at all—not poverty as we understand it. But I could not frame my reply because "squalor" (which we pronounce as though it rhymed with "mollor") was the only fitting epithet, and he had just used it himself, pronouncing it in the American way—or at any rate in his American way—with a long "a." So I turned the subject.
Neither nation has any monopoly of reasonableness in pronunciation. The American way of saying "advertisement" is more sensible than ours of saying "adver'tisment," since we say "advertise" too. But then, although the Americans say "inquire," just as we do, they illogically put the stress on the first syllable when they talk about an "in'quiry." The Tower of Babel is thus carried up one storey higher. The original idea was merely to confuse languages; it cannot ever have been wished that two friendly peoples should speak the same language differently.
But I have wandered far from Berkeley and Stanford. I am not sure as to my course of conduct if I had a daughter of seventeen, but I am quite convinced that if I had a son of that age I should send him to an American university for two or three years after his English school. He should then become a citizen of the Anglo-Saxon world indeed.
WE had met Prohibition first at Honolulu, not a few of the passengers receiving the shock of their lives on learning at the hotel that only "soft drinks" were permitted. Our second reminder of the new regime came as we entered American waters off the Golden Gate and the ship's bar was formally closed. And then, in San Francisco, we found "dry" land indeed. In this connection let me say that in the hotel I made acquaintance with an official of great power who was new to me: the buttoned boy who rejoices in the proud title of Bell Captain. He gave me a private insight into his precocity (but that is not the word, for all boys in America are men too), and into his influence, by offering to supply me with forbidden fruit, in the shape of whisky, at the modest figure of $25 a bottle. He did not, however, say dollars: like most of his compatriots (and it is a favourite word with them) he said something between "dollars" and "dallars."
I had, a few days later, in Chicago, a similarly friendly offer from a policeman of whom I had inquired the way. Recognizing an English accent, he had instantly divined what my dearest wish must be. I then asked him how prohibition was affecting the people on his beat. He said that a few drunkards were less comfortable and a few wives more serene; but for the most part he had seen no increase of happiness, and the extra money that it provided was spent either on the movies, dress, or "other foolishness." I did not allow him to refresh me. After a course of American "tough" fiction, of which "Susan Lenox" remains most luridly in the memory, I had a terror of all professional upholders of the law.
COMING by chance upon the Robert Louis Stevenson memorial at San Francisco, on the edge of Chinatown, I copied its inscription, and in case any reader of these notes may have forgotten its trend I copy it again here; for I do not suppose that its application was intended to cease with the Californian city. It is counsel addressed to the individual, but since nations are but individuals in quantity such ideals cannot be repeated amiss:
It is a far cry from San Francisco to Saranac, yet Stevenson is their connecting chain, with the late Harry Widener's amazing collection of Stevensoniana, in his memorial library at Harvard, as a link. The Saranac cottage, which on the day of my visit was surrounded by the sweetest lilac blooms that ever perfumed the air, is still a place of pilgrimage, and one by one new articles of interest are being added to the collection. It was pleasant indeed to find an English author thus honoured. Later, in Central Park, New York, I was to find statues of Shakespeare, Burns and Sir Walter Scott.
It was, oddly enough, in the Adirondacks that I came upon my only experience of simplified spelling in the land of its birth. It was in that pleasant home from home, the Lake Placid Club, where one is adjured to close the door "tyt" as one leaves a room; where one drinks "cofi"; and where that most necessary and mysterious of the functionaries of life, the physician, is able to watch his divinity dwindle and his dignity disappear under the style "fizisn."
I HEARD many stories in America, where every one is a raconteur, but none was better than this, which my San Francisco host narrated, from his own experience, as the most perfect example of an honest answer ever given. When a boy, he said, he was much in the company of an old trapper in the Californian mountains. During one of their expeditions together he noticed that a camp meeting was to be held, and out of curiosity he persuaded Reuben to attend it with him. Perched on a back seat, they were watching the scene when an elderly Evangelical sister placed herself beside the old hunter, laid her hand on his arm, and asked him if he loved Jesus. He pondered for some moments and then replied thus: "Waal, ma'am, I can't go so far as to say that I love Him. I can't go so far as that. But, by gosh, I'll say this—I ain't got nothin' agin Him."
The funniest spontaneous thing I heard said was the remark of a farmer in the Adirondacks in reply to my question, Had they recovered up there, from the recent war? "Yes," he said, they had; adding brightly, "Quite a war, wasn't it?"
In a manner of speaking all Americans are humourists. Just as all French people are wits by reason of the epigrammatic structure of their language, so are all Americans humourists by reason of the national stores of picturesque slang and analogy to which they have access. I think that this tendency to resort to a common stock instead of striving after individual exactitude and colour is to be deplored. It discourages thought where thought should be encouraged. Adults are, of course, beyond redemption, but parents might at least do something about it with their children. One of the cleverest American writers whom I met made no effort whatever to get beyond these accepted phrases as he narrated one racy incident after another. With the pen in his hand (or, more probably, the typewriter under his fingers) his sense of epithet is precise; but in his conversational stories men were as mad "as Sam Hill," injuries hurt "like hell," and a knapsack was as heavy "as the devil." We all laughed; but he should have had more of the artist's pride.
Three American professional humourists whom I had the good fortune to meet and be with for some time were Irvin Cobb, Don Marquis, and Oliver Herford, each authentic and each so different. Beneath Mr. Cobb's fun is a mass of ripe experience and sagacity. However playful he may be on the surface one is aware of an almost Johnsonian universality beneath. It would not be extravagant to call his humour the bloom on the fruit of the tree of knowledge (I am talking now only of the three as I found them in conversation). Don Marquis, while equally serious (and all the best humourists are serious at heart), has a more grotesque fancy and is more of a reformer, or, at any rate, a rebel. His dissatisfaction with hypocrisy provoked a scorn that Mr. Cobb is too elemental to entertain. Some day perhaps Don Marquis will induce an editor to print the exercises in unorthodoxy which he has been writing and which, in extract, he repeated to us with such unction; but I doubt it. They are too searching. But that so busy a man should turn aside from his work to dabble in religious satire seemed to me a very interesting thing; for nothing is so unprofitable—except to the honest soul of him who conceives it.
One of Don Marquis's more racy stories which I recollect is of a loafer in a country town who had the habit of dropping into the store every day at the time the free cheese was set on the counter, and buying very little in return. When the time came for the privilege to be withdrawn the loafer was outraged and aghast. Addressing the storekeeper (his friend for years) he summed up his ungenerosity in these terms: "Your soul, Henry," he said, "is so mean, that if there were a million souls like it in the belly of a flea, they'd be so far apart they couldn't hear each other holler."
As for Oliver Herford, he is an elf, a sprite, a creature of fantasy, who may be—and, I rejoice to say, is—in this world, but certainly is not of it. This Oliver is in the line of Puck and Mercutio and Lamb and Hood and other lovers and makers of nonsense, and it is we. who ask for "more." He had just brought out his irresponsible but very searching exercise in cosmogony, "This Giddy Globe," dedicated to President Wilson ("with all his faults he quotes me still") and this was the first indigenous work I read on American soil. Oliver Herford is perhaps best known by his "Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten," and there is a kitten also in "This Giddy Globe":
"Hurray!" cried the Kitten, "Hurray!"
As he merrily set the sails,
"I sail o'er the ocean to-day
To look at the Prince of Wales."
—this was when the Prince was making his triumphant visit to New York in 1919
"But, Kitten," I said dismayed,
"If you live through the angry gales
You know you will be afraid
To look at the Prince of Wales."
Said the Kitten, "No such thing!
Why should he make me wince?
If a Cat may look at a King
A Kitten may look at a Prince!"
This reminds me that the story goes that when the Prince expressed his admiration for Fifth Avenue he was congratulated upon having "said a mouthful." Beyond a mouthful, as an encomium of sagacity or sensationalism in speech, there is but one advance and that is when one says "an earful."
THE journey from San Francisco to Chicago, once the fruit country is passed, is drearily tedious, and I was never so tired of a train. The spacious compartments that one travelled in on the Indian journeys, where there are four arm-chairs and a bath-room, are a bad preparation for the long narrow American cars packed with humanity, and for the very inadequate washing-room, which is also the negro attendant's bed-chamber: "Although," he explained to me, "when the car isn't full I always sleep in Berth Number 1." If the night could be indefinitely prolonged, these journeys would be more tolerable; but for the general comfort the sleeping berths must be converted into seats at an early hour. In addition to books, I had, as a means of beguilement, the society of a returned exile from the Philippines, who told me the story of his life, showed me the necklace he was taking home to his daughter's wedding, and asked my advice as to the wisdom or unwisdom of marrying again, the lady of his wavering choice having been at school with him in New England and being now a widow in Nebraska with property of her own. Besides being thus garrulous and open, he was the most helpful man I ever met, acting as a nurse to the three or four restless children in the car, and even producing from his bag a pair of scissors and a bottle of gum with which to make dolls' paper clothes. Never in my life have I called a stranger "Ed" on such short acquaintance; never have I been called "Poppa" so often by the peevish progeny of others.
It was on this train that I began to realise how much thirstier the Americans are than we. The passengers were continually filling and emptying the little cups that are stacked beside the fountains in the corridors, and long before we reached Chicago the cups had all been used. In England only children drink water at odd times and they not to excess. But in America every one drinks water, and the water is there for drinking, pure and cold and plentiful. It is beside the bed, in the corners of offices, awaiting you at meals, jingling down the passages of hotels, bubbling in the streets. In English restaurants, water bottles are rarely supplied until asked for; in our hotel bedrooms they seldom bear lifting to the light. As to whether the general health of the Americans is superior or inferior to ours by reason of this water-drinking custom, I have no information; but figures would be interesting.
IN Chicago the weather was wet and cold, and it was not until after I had left that I learned of the presence there of certain literary collections which I may now perhaps never see. But I spent much time in the Museum, where there is one of the finest Hobbemas in the world, and where two such different creative artists as Claude Monet and Josiah Wedgwood are especially honoured. But the chief discovery for me was the sincere and masterly work in landscape of George Inness, my first impression of whom was to be fortified when I passed on to Boston, and reinforced in the Hearn collection in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
It was in Chicago, in the Marshall Field Book Department—which is to ordinary English bookshops like a liner to a houseboat—that I first realised how intense is the interest which America takes in foreign contemporary literature. In England the translation has a certain vogue—Mrs. Garnett's supple and faithful renderings of Turgenev, Tolstoi, Dostoievski, and Tchekov have, for example, a great following—but we do not adventure much beyond the French and the Russians; whereas I learn that English versions of hundreds of other foreign books are eagerly bought in America. Such curiosity seems to me to be very sensible. I was surprised also to find tables packed high with the modern drama. In England the printed play is not to the general taste.
It was in Chicago that I found "window-shopping" at its most enterprising. In San Francisco the costumiers' windows were thronged all Sunday, but in Chicago they are brilliantly lighted till midnight, long after closing hours, so that late passers-by may mark down desirable things to buy on the morrow.
The spirited equestrian statue of General John A. Logan, in a waste space by Michigan Avenue, which I could see from my bedroom window, was my first and by no means the least satisfying experience of American sculpture on its native soil—to be face to face with St. Gaudens' figure of "Grief" in Rock Creek Cemetery, at Washington, having long been a desire. In time I came to see that beautiful conception, and I saw also the fine Shaw monument in Boston, fine both in idea and in execution; and the Sheridan, by the Plaza Hotel in New York; and the Farragut in Madison Square; and the Pilgrim in Philadelphia—all the work of the same firm, sensitive hand, a replica of whose Lincoln is now to be seen at Westminster.
The statue seems almost as natural a part of civic ornament in America as it is in France, and is not in England; and the standard as a rule is high. In particular I like the many horsemen—Anthony Wayne dominating the landscape at Valley Forge; and George Washington again and again, and not least in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia (where there is also a bronze roughrider realistically set on a cliff—as though from Ambrose Bierce's famous story—by Frederic Remington). American painters can too often suggest predecessors, usually French, but the sculptors have a strength and directness of their own, and it would not surprise me if some of the best statues of the future came from their country. No one would say that all American civic sculpture is good. There is a gigantic bust of Washington Irving behind New York's Public Library which would be better away; nor are the lions that guard that splendid institution superabundantly leonine; but the traveller is more charmed than depressed by the marble and bronze effigies that meet his eye—and few witnesses have been able to say that of England. Among the more remarkable public works I might name the symbolical figures on the steps of the Boston Free Library, and the frieze in deep relief on the Romanesque church on Park Avenue in New York, and I found something big and impressive in the Barnard groups at Harrisburg. Many of the little bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum—at the other extreme—are exquisite.
WE have our cinema theatres in England in some abundance, but the cinema is not yet in the blood here as in America. In America picture-palaces are palaces indeed—with gold and marble, and mural decorations, built to seat thousands—and every newspaper has its cinema page, where the activities of the movie stars in their courses are chronicled every morning. Moreover, America is the home of the industry; and rightly so, for it has, I should say, been abundantly proved that Americans are the only people who really understand both cinema acting and cinema production. Italy, France and England make a few pictures, but their efforts are half-hearted: not only because acting for the film is a new and separate art, but because atmospheric conditions are better in America than in Europe.
It was in Chicago that I had my only opportunity of seeing cinema stars in the flesh. The rain falling, as it seems to do there with no more effort or fatigue to itself than in Manchester, I had, one afternoon, to change my outdoor plans and take refuge at the matinee of a musical comedy called "Sometime," with Frank Tinney in the leading part. Tinney, I may say, during his engagement in London some years ago, became so great a favourite that one performer has been flourishing on an imitation of him ever since. The play had been in progress only for a few minutes when Frank, in his capacity as a theatre doorkeeper, was presented by his manager with a tip. A dialogue, which to the trained ear was obviously more or less an improvisation, then followed:
Manager: "What will you do with that dollar, Frank?"
Frank: "I shall go to the movies. I always go to the movies when there's a Norma Talmadge picture. Ask me why I always go to the movies when there's a Norma Talmadge picture."
Manager: "Why do you always go to the movies when there's a Norma Talmadge picture, Frank?"
Frank: "I go because, I go because she's my favourite actress. (Applause.) Ask me why Norma Talmadge is my favourite actress."
Manager: "Why is Norma Talmadge your favourite actress, Frank?"
Frank: "Norma Talmadge is my favourite actress because she is always saving her honour. I've seen her saving it seventeen times. (To the audience) You like Norma Talmadge, don't you?" (Applause from the audience.)
Frank: "Then wouldn't you like to see her as she really is? (To a lady sitting with friends in a box.) Stand up, Norma, and let the audience see you."
Here a slim lady with a tense, eager, pale face and a mass of hair stood up and bowed. Immense enthusiasm.
Frank: "That's Norma Talmadge. You do like saving your honour, don't you, Norma? And now (to the audience) wouldn't you like to see Norma's little sister, Constance? (More applause.) Stand up, Constance, and let the audience see you."
Here another slim lady bowed her acknowledgments and the play was permitted to proceed.
What America is going to do with the cinema remains to be seen, but I, for one, deplore the modern tendency of novelists to be lured by American money to write for it. If the cinema wants stories from novelists let it take them from the printed books. One has but to reflect upon what might have happened had the cinema been invented a hundred years ago, to realise my disturbance of mind. With Mr. Lasky's millions to tempt them Dickens would have written "David Copperfield" and Thackeray "Vanity Fair," not for their publishers and as an endowment to millions of grateful readers in perpetuity, but as plots for the immediate necessity of the film, with a transitory life of a few months in dark rooms. Of what new "David Copperfields" and "Vanity Fairs" the cinema is to rob us we shall not know; but I hold that the novelist who can write a living book is a traitor to his art and conscience if he prefers the easy money of the film. Readers are to be considered before the frequenters of Picture Palaces. His privilege is to beguile and amuse and refresh through the ages: not to snatch momentary triumphs and disappear.
The evidence of the moment is more on the side of the pessimist than the optimist. I found in America no trace of interest in such valuable records as the Kearton pictures of African jungle life or the Ponting records of the Arctic Zone. For the moment the whole energy of the gigantic cinema industry seemed to be directed towards the filming of human stories and the completest beguilement, without the faintest infusion of instruction or idealism, of the many-headed mob. In short, to provide "dope." ,Whether so much "dope" is desirable, is the ;question to be answered. That poor human nature needs a certain amount, is beyond doubt. But so much? And do we all need it, or at any rate deserve it? is another question. Sometimes indeed I wonder whether those of us who have our full share of senses ought to go to the cinema at all. It may be that its true purpose is to be the dramatist of the deaf.
PERHAPS it is one of the travellers' illusions (and we are very susceptible to them), but I have the impression that American men are more alike than the English are. It may be because there are fewer idiosyncrasies in male attire, for in America every one wears the same kind of hat; but I think not. In spite of the mixed origin of most Americans, a national type of face has been evolved to which they seem satisfied almost universally to pay allegiance. Again and again in the streets I have been about to accost strangers to whom I felt sure I had recently been introduced, discovering just in time that they were merely doubles. In England I fancy there is more individuality in appearance. If it is denied that American faces are more true to one type than ours, I shall reopen the attack by affirming that American voices are beyond question alike. My position in these two charges may be illustrated by notices that I saw fixed to gates at the docks in San Francisco. On one were the words "No Smoking"; on the other "Positively No Smoking."
And what about the science of physiognomy? I have been wondering if Lavater is to be trusted outside Europe. In China and Japan I was continually perplexed, for I saw so many men who obviously were successful—leaders and controllers—but who were without more than the rudiments of a nose on which to support their glasses; and yet I have been brought up to believe that without a nose of some dimensions it was idle to hope for worldly eminence. Again, in America, is it possible that all these massive chins and firm aquiline beaks are ruling the roost and reaching whatever goal they set out for? I doubt it.
The average American face is, I think, keener than ours and healthier. One sees fewer ruined faces than in English cities, fewer men and women who have lost self-respect and self-control. The American people as a whole strike the observer as being more prosperous, more alert and ambitious, than the English. Where I found mean streets they were always in the occupation of aliens.
To revert to the matter of clothes, the American does as little as possible to make things easy for the conjectural observer. In England one can base guesses of some accuracy on attire. In a railway carriage one can hazard without any great risk of error the theory that this man is in trade and that in a profession, that another is a stockbroker, and a fourth a country squire. But America is full of surprises, due to the uniformity of clothing and a certain carelessness which elevates comfort to a ritual. The man you think of as a millionaire may be a drummer, the drummer a millionaire. Again, in England people are known to a certain extent by the hotels they stay at, the restaurants they eat at, and the class in which they travel. Such superficial guides fail one in America.
I CAN best indicate, without the mechanical assistance of dates, the time of my sojourn in New York by saying that, during those few weeks, Woodrow 'Wilson's successor was being sought, the possibility of the repeal of the Prohibition Act was a matter of excited interest, and "Babe" Ruth was the national hero. During this period I saw the President sitting on the veranda of the White House; I had opportunities of honouring Prohibition in the breach as well as in the observance; and these eyes were everlastingly cheered and enriched by the spectacle of the "Babe" (who is a baseball divinity) lifting a ball over the Polo Ground pavilion into Manhattan Field. I hold, then, that I cannot be said to have been unlucky or to have wasted my time.
I found (this was in the spring of 1920) Prohibition the universal topic: could it last, and should it last? In England we are accused of talking always of the weather. In America, where there is no weather, nothing but climate, that theme probably was never popular. Even if it once were, however, it had given way to Prohibition. At every lunch or dinner table at which I was present Prohibition was a topic. And how could it be otherwise?—for if my host was a "dry" man, he had to begin by apologising for having nothing cheering to offer, and if he possessed a cellar it was impossible not to open the ball by congratulating him on his luck and his generosity. Meanwhile the guests were comparing notes as to the best substitutes for alcoholic beverages, exchanging recipes, or describing their adventures with private stills.
I visited a young couple in a charming little cottage in one of the garden cities near New York, and found them equally divided in their solicitude over a baby on the top floor and a huge jar in the basement which needed constant skimming if the beer was to be worth drinking.
One effect of Prohibition which I was hoping for, if not actually expecting, failed to materialise. I had thought that the standard of what are called T.B.M. (Tired Business Men) theatrical shows might be higher if the tendency of alcohol to make audiences more tolerant (as it undoubtedly can do in London) were no longer operative. But these entertainments seemed, under teetotallers, no better.
AFTER seeing my first ball game or so I was inclined to suggest improvements; but now that I have attended more I am disposed to think that those in authority know more about it than I do, and that such blemishes as it appears to have are probably inevitable. For one thing, I thought that the outfield had too great an advantage. For another, not unassociated with that objection, I thought that the home-run hit was not sufficiently rewarded above the quite ordinary hit—"bunch-hit," is it?—that brings in a man or men. In the English game of "Rounders," the parent of baseball, a home-run hit either restores life to a man already out or provides the batting side with a life in reserve. To put a premium of this kind on so noble an achievement is surely not fantastic. So I thought. And yet I see now that the game must not be lengthened, or much of its character would go. It is its concentrated American fury that is its greatest charm. If a three-day cricket match were so packed with emotion we should all die of heart failure.
I thought, too, that it is illogical that a ground stroke behind the diamond should be a no-ball, and yet, should that ball be in the air and caught, the striker should be out. I thought it an odd example of lenience to allow the batsman as many strokes behind the catcher as he chanced to make. But the more baseball I see the more it enchants me as a spectacle, and these early questionings are forgotten.
Baseball and cricket cannot be compared, because they are as different as America and England; they can only be contrasted. Indeed, many of the differences between the peoples are reflected in the games; for cricket is leisurely and patient, whereas baseball is urgent and restless. Cricket can prosper without excitement, while excitement is baseball's life-blood, and so on: the catalogue could be indefinitely extended. But, though a comparison is futile, it may be interesting to note some of the divergences between the games. One of the chief is that baseball requires no specially prepared ground, whereas cricket demands turf in perfect order. Bad weather, again, is a more serious foe to the English than to the American game, for if the turf is soaked we cannot go on, and hence the number of drawn or unfinished matches in the course of a season. A two hours' game, such as baseball is, can, however, always be played off.
In baseball the pitcher's ball must reach the batter before it touches the ground; in cricket, if the ball did not touch the ground first and reach the batsman on the bound, no one would ever be out at all, for the other ball, the full-pitch as we call it, is, with a flat bat, too easy to hit, for our bowlers swerve very rarely: it is the contact with the ground which enables them to give the ball its extra spin or break. Full-pitches are therefore very uncommon. In cricket a bowler who delivered the ball with the action of a pitcher would be disqualified for "throwing": it is one of the laws of cricket that the bowler's elbow must not be bent.
In cricket (I mean in the first-class variety of the game) the decisions of the umpire are never questioned, either by players or public.
In baseball there are but two strokes for the batter: either the "swipe," or "slog," as we call it, where he uses all his might, or the "bunt," usually a sacrificial effort; in cricket there are scores of strokes, before the wicket, behind it, and at every angle to it. These the cricketer is able to make because the bat is flat and wide, and he holds it both vertically and at a slant, as occasion demands, and is allowed, at his own risk, to run out to meet the ball. In the early days of cricket, a hundred and fifty years ago, the bat was like a baseball club, but curved, and the only strokes then were much what the only baseball strokes are now—the full-strength hit and the stopping hit. So long as the pitcher delivers the ball in the air it is probable that the baseball club will remain as it is; but should the evolution of the game allow the pitcher to make use of the ground, then the introduction of a flattened club is probable. But let us not look ahead. All that we can be sure of is that, since baseball is American, it will change.
To resume the catalogue of contrast. In baseball the batsman must run for every fair hit; in cricket he may choose which hits to run for.
In baseball a man's desire is to hit the ball in the air beyond the fielders; in cricket, though a man would like to do this, his side is better served if he hits every ball along the ground.
In baseball no man can have more than a very small number of hits in a match; in cricket he can be batting for a whole day, and then again before the match is over. There are instances of batsmen making over 400 runs before being out.
Another difference between the games is that in cricket we use a new ball only at the beginning of a fresh inning (of which there cannot be more than four in a match) and when each 200 runs have been scored; and (this will astonish the American reader) when the ball is hit among the people it is returned. I have seen such rapid voluntary surrenders at baseball very seldom, and so much of a "fan" have I become that the spectacle has always been accompanied in my breast by pain and contempt. I had the gratification of receiving from the burly John McGraw an autograph ball as a souvenir of a visit to the Polo Ground. I put it in my pocket hurriedly, conscious of the risk I ran among a nation of ball-stealers in possessing such a trophy; and I got away with it. But I am sure that had it been a ball hit out of the ground by the mighty "Babe" Ruth, which—recovering it by some supernatural means—he had handed to me in public, I should not have emerged alive, or, if alive, not in the ball's company.
In cricket the wicket-keeper, who, like the baseball catcher, is protected, although he has no mask, is the most difficult man to obtain, because he has the hardest time and the least public approbation; in baseball the catcher is a hero and every boy aspires to his mitt.
In cricket no player makes more than three hundred pounds a season, unless it is his turn for his one and only benefit, when he may make a thousand pounds more. But most players do not reach such a level of success that a benefit is their lot. But baseballers earn enormous sums.
If a match could be arranged between eleven cricketers and eleven baseballers, the cricketers to be allowed to bowl and the baseballers to pitch, the cricketers to use their own bats and the baseballers their own clubs, I fancy that the cricketers would win; for the difficulty of hitting our bowling with a club would be greater than of hitting their pitching with a bat. But their wonderful fielding and far more accurate and swifter throwing than ours might just save them. Such throwing we see only very rarely, for good throwing is no longer insisted upon in cricket, much to the game's detriment. That old players should lose their shoulders is natural—and, of course, our players remain in first-class cricket for many years longer than ball champions—but there is no excuse for the young men who have taken advantage of a growing laxity in this matter. Chief of the few cricketers who throw with any of the terrible precision of a baseball field is Hobbs. It must be borne in mind, however, that cricket does not demand such constant throwing at full speed as baseball does; for in cricket, as I have said, the batsman may choose what hits he will run for, and if he chooses only the perfectly safe ones the fieldsmen are never at high pressure. There is also nothing in cricket quite to compare with base-stealing.
When it comes to catching, the percentage of missed catches is far higher at cricket than at baseball; but there are good reasons for this. One is that in baseball a glove is worn; another that in baseball all catches come to the fieldsmen with long or sufficient notice. The fieldsmen are all, except the catcher, in front of the batsmen; there is nothing to compare with the unexpected nimbleness that our point and slips have to display.
In the hypothetical contest that I have suggested, between baseballers and cricketers, if the conditions were nominally equal and the cricketers had to pitch like baseballers and the baseballers to use the English bat, why then the baseballers would win handsomely.
Baseball, I fancy, will not be acclimatised in England. We had our chance when London was full of American soldiers and we did not take it. But we were very grateful to them for playing the game in our midst, for the authorities were so considerate as to let them play on Sundays (which we are never allowed to do) and I was one of those who hoped that this might be the thin end of the wedge and Sunday cricket also be permitted. But no; when the war was over and the Americans left us, the old Sabbatarianism reasserted itself. If, however, we ever exchanged national games, and cricket were played in America and baseball in England, it is the English spectator who would have the better of the exchange. I am convinced that although we should quickly find baseball diverting, nothing would ever persuade an American crowd to be otherwise than bored by cricket.
PERHAPS if I had reached New York from the sea the skyscrapers would have struck me more violently. But I had already seen a few in San Francisco (and wondered at and admired the courage which could build so high after the earthquake of 1906), and more in Chicago, all ugly; so that when I came to New York and found that the latest architects were not only building high, but imposing beauty on these mammoth structures, surprise was mingled with delight. No matter how many more millions of dollars are expended on that strange medley of ancient forms which go to make up New York's new Cathedral, where Romanesque and Gothic seem already to be ready for their divorce, the Woolworth Building will be New York's true fane. Mr. Cass Gilbert, the designer of that graceful immensity, not only gave commerce its most notable monument (to date), but removed for ever the slur upon skyscrapers. The Woolworth Building does not scrape the sky; it greets it, salutes it with a beau geste. And I would say something similar of the Bush Building, with its alabaster chapel in the air which becomes translucent at night; and the Madison Square Tower (whose clock face, I noticed, has the amazing diameter of three storeys); and the Burroughs Welcome Building on 41st Street, with its lovely perpendicular lines; and that immense cube of masonry on Park Avenue which bursts into flower, so to speak, at the top in the shape of a very beautiful loggia. But even if these adornments become, as I hope, the rule, one could not resent the ordinary structural elephantiasis a moment after realising New York's physical conditions. A growing city built on a narrow peninsula is unable to expand laterally and must, therefore, soar. The problem was how to make it soar with dignity, and the problem has been solved.
In the old days when brown stone was the only builders' medium New York must have been a drab city indeed; or so I gather from the few ancient typical residences that remain. There are a few that are new, too, but for the most part the modern house is of white stone. Gayest of all is, I suppose, that vermilion-roofed florist's on Fifth Avenue.
One has to ascend the Woolworth Building to appreciate at a blow with what discretion the original settlers of New York made their choice. It is interesting, too, to watch Broadway—which, for all I know, is the longest street in the world—starting at one's feet on its lawless journey to Albany: lawless because it is almost the only sinuous thing in this city of parallelograms and has the effrontery to cross diagonally both Fifth Avenue and Sixth. Before leaving the Woolworth Building, I would say that there seemed to me something rather comically paradoxical in being charged 50 cents for access to the top of a structure which was erected to celebrate the triumph of a commercial genius whose boast it was to have made his fortune out of articles sold at a rate never higher than 10 cents.
Having dallied sufficiently on the summit—there are a trifle of fifty-eight floors, but an express lift makes nothing of them—I continued the implacable career of the tripper by watching for a while the deafening kerb market, which presented on that morning an odd appearance, more like Yarmouth beach than a financial centre, for there had been rain, and all the street operators were in sou'westers and sea-boots. There can be spasms of similar excitement in London, in the neighbourhood of Capel Court, but we have nothing that compares so closely with this crowd as Tattersall's Ring at Epsom just before the Derby.
IT was a relief to resume my programme by entering that abode of the dumb and detached—the aquarium in Battery Park. For the kerb uproar "the uncommunicating muteness of fishes" was the only panacea. The Bronx Zoo is not, I think, except in the matter of buffalo and deer paddocks, so good as ours in London, but it has this shining advantage—it is free. So also is the Aquarium in Battery Park, and it was pleasing to see how crowded the place can be. In England all interest in living fish, except as creatures to be coaxed towards hooks and occasionally retained there, has vanished; on the site of old Westminster Aquarium the Wesleyans now manage their finances and determine their circuits, while the Brighton Aquarium, once famous all the world over, is a variety hall with barely a fin to its name.
After seeing the aquarium in Honolulu, which is like a pelagic rainbow factory, and the aquarium in New York with all its strange and beautiful denizens, I am a little ashamed of our English apathy. To maintain picture galleries, where, however beautiful and chromatic, all is dead, and be insensitive to the loveliness of fish, in hue, in shape and in movement, is not quite pardonable.
IN essentials America is American, but when it comes to inessentials, to trimmings, her dependence on old England was noticeable again and again as I walked about New York. The fashion which, at the moment, the print shops were fostering was for our racing, hunting and coaching coloured prints of a century ago, while in the gallery of the distinguished little Grolier Club I found an exhibition of the work of Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway. In such old bookshops as I visited all the emphasis was—just then—laid upon Keats and Lamb and Shelley, whose first editions and presentation copies seem to be continually making the westward journey. I had not been in New York twenty-four hours before Keats' "Lamia," 1820—with an inscription from the author to Charles Lamb—the very copy from which, I imagine, Lamb wrote his review, was in my hands; but it would have been far beyond my means even if the pound were not standing at 3.83. These "association" books, in which American collectors take especial pleasure, can be very costly. At a sale soon after I left New York, seven presentation copies of Dickens' books, containing merely the author's signed inscription, realised 4870 dollars. To continue, in Wanamaker's old curiosity department I found little but English furniture and odds and ends, at prices which in their own country would have been fantastically high. In the "Vanity Fair" department, however (as I think it is called), the source was French. I suppose that French influence must be at the back of all the costumiers and jewellers of New York, but the shops themselves are far more spacious than those in Paris and not less well-appointed. Tiffany's is a palace; all it lacks is a name, but its splendid anonymity is, I take it, a point of honour.
It used to be said that good Americans when they died went to Paris. The Parisian lure no doubt is still powerful; but every day I should guess that more of Paris comes to America. The upper parts of New York have boulevards and apartment houses very like the real thing, and I noticed that the architecture of France exerts a special attraction for the rich man decreeing himself a pleasure dome. There are millionaires' residences in New York that might have been transplanted not only from the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, but from Touraine itself; while when I made my pilgrimage to Mr. Widener's, just outside Philadelphia, I found Rembrandt's "Mill," and Manet's dead bull-fighter, and a Vermeer, and a little meadow painted divinely by Corot, and El Greco's family group, and Donatello's St. George, and one of the most lovely scenes that ever was created by Turner's enchanted brush, all enshrined in a palace which Louis Seize might have built.
But America is even more French than this. Her women can be not less soignées than those of France, although they suggest a cooler blood and less dependence on male society; her bread and coffee are better than France's best. Moreover, when it comes to night and the Broadway constellations challenge the darkness, New York leaves Paris far behind. For every cabaret and supper resort that Paris can provide, New York has three; and for every dancing floor in Paris, New York has thirty. Good Americans, however, will still remain faithful to their old posthumous love, if only for her wine.
Apropos of American women, their position struck me as very different from the position of women with us. English women are deferential to their husbands; they are content to be relegated to the background on all occasions when they are not wanted. They are dependent. They seldom wear an air of triumph and rarely take the lead. But American women are complacent and assured, they do most of the talking, make most of the plans: if they are not seen, it is because they are in the background; they are either active prominently elsewhere or are high on pedestals. With each other they are mostly or often humorously direct, whereas with men they seem to adopt an ironical or patronising attitude. American women seem also to have a curious power of attracting to themselves other women who admire them and foster their self-esteem. And, for all that I know, these satellites have satellites too. Their federacy almost amounts to a solid secret society; not so much against men, for men must provide the sinews of war and other comforts, but for their own satisfaction. Both sexes appear not to languish when alone.
ALL visitors to New York speak of the exhilaration of its air, and I can but repeat their testimony. After the first few days the idea of going to bed became an absurdity.
Among the peculiarly beautiful effects that America produces, sky signs must be counted high. I had seen some when in San Francisco against the deep Californian night, and they captivated the startled vision; but the reckless profusion and movement of the Great White Way, as I turned out of 42nd Street on my first evening in New York, came as something more than a surprise: a revelation of wilful gaiety. We have normally nothing in England to compare with it. Nor can we have even our Earl's Court exhibition imitations of it so long as coal is so rare and costly. But though we had the driving power for the electricity we could never get such brilliance, for the clear American atmosphere is an essential ally. In our humid airs all the diamond glints would be blurred.
For the purest beauty of traceries of light against a blue background one must go, however, not to Broadway, which is too bizarre, but to Luna Park on Coney Island. Odd that it should be there, in that bewildering medley of sound and restlessness, that an extreme of loveliness should be found; but I maintain that it is so, that nothing more strangely and voluptuously beautiful could be seen than all those minarets and domes, with their lines and curves formed by myriad lamps, turning by contrast the heavens into an ocean of velvet blue, mysterious and soft and profound.
Only periodically—when we have exhibitions at Earl's Court or at Olympia—is there in England anything like Coney Island. At Blackpool in August, and on Hampstead Heath on Bank Holidays, a corresponding spirit of revelry is attempted, but it is not so natural, and is vitiated by a self-conscious determination to be gay and by not a little vulgarity. The revellers of Steeplechase Park seemed to me to be more genuine even than the crowds that throng the Fete de Neuilly; and a vast deal happier.
One very striking difference between Coney Island and the French fair is the absence of children from New York's "safety-valve," as some one described it to me. I saw hardly any. It is as though once again the child's birthday gifts had been appropriated by its elders; but as a matter of fact the Parks of Steeplechase and Luna were, I imagine, designed deliberately for adults. Judging by the popularity of the chutes and the whips, the switchbacks and the witching waves, eccentric movement has a peculiar attraction for the American holidaymaker. As some one put it, there is no better way, or at any rate no more thorough way, of throwing young people together. Middle-aged people, too. But the observer receives no impression of moral disorder. High spirits are the rule, and impropriety is the exception. Even in the auditorium at Steeplechase Park, where the cognoscenti assemble to witness the discomfiture of the uninitiated, there is nothing but harmless laughter as the skirts fly up before the unsuspected blast. Such a performance in England, were it permitted, would degenerate into ugliness; in France, too, it would make the alien spectator uncomfortable. But the essential public chastity of the Americans—I am not sure that I ought not here to write civilisation of the Americans—emerges triumphant.
It was at Coney Island that I came suddenly upon the Pig Slide and had a new conception of what quadrupeds can do for man.
The Pig Slide, which was in one of the less noisy quarters of Luna Park, consisted of an enclosure in which stood a wooden building of two storeys, some five yards wide and three high. On the upper storey was a row of six or eight cages, in each of which dwelt a little live pig, an infant of a few weeks. In the middle of the row, descending to the ground, was an inclined board, with raised edges, such as is often installed in swimming-baths to make diving automatic, and beneath each cage was a hole a foot in diameter. The spectators and participants crowded outside the enclosure, and the thing was to throw balls, which were hired for the purpose, into the holes. Nothing could exceed the alert and eager interest taken by the little pigs in the efforts of the ball-throwers. They quivered on their little legs; they pressed their little noses against the bars of the cages; their little eyes sparkled; their tails (the only public corkscrews left in America) curled and uncurled and curled again: and with reason, for whereas if you missed—as was only too easy—nothing happened: if you threw accurately the fun began, and the fun was also theirs.
This is what occurred. First a bell rang and then a spring released the door of the cage immediately over the hole which your ball had entered, so that it swung open. The little pig within, after watching the previous infirmity of your aim with dejection, if not contempt, had pricked up his ears on the sound of the bell, and now smiled a gratified smile, irresistible in infectiousness, and trotted out, and, with the smile dissolving into an expression of absolute beatitude, slid voluptuously down the plank: to be gathered in at the foot by an attendant and returned to its cage all ready for another such adventure.
It was for these moments and their concomitant changes of countenance that you paid your money. To taste the triumph of good marksmanship was only a fraction of your joy; the greater part of it consisted in liberating a little prisoner and setting in motion so much ecstasy.
AMERICA is a land of newspapers, and the newspapers are very largely the same. To a certain extent many of them are exactly the same, for the vastness of the country makes it possible to syndicalise various features, so that you find Walt Mason's sagacious and merry and punctual verse, printed to look like prose but never disappointing the ear, in one of the journals that you buy wherever you are, in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago or New York; and Mr. Montagu's topical rhymes in another; and the daily adventures of Mutt and Jeff, who are national heroes, in a third. Every day, for ever, do those and other regular features occur in certain of the papers: which is partly why no American ever seems to confine himself, as is our custom, to only one.
Another and admirable feature of certain American papers is a column edited by a man of letters, whose business it is to fill it every day, either with the blossoms of his own intelligence or of outside contributors, or a little of each: such a column as Don Marquis edits for The Sun, called "The Sundial," and Franklin R. Adams for The Tribune, called "The Conning Tower," and Christopher Morley for the New York Evening Post, called "The Bowling Green." Perhaps the unsigned "Way of the World" in our Morning Post is the nearest London correlative.
These columns are managed with skill and catholicity, and they impart an element of graciousness and fancy into what might otherwise be too materialistic a budget. A journalist, like myself, is naturally delighted to find editors and a vast public so true to their writing friends. Very few English editors allow their subscribers the opportunity of establishing such steady personal relations; and in England, in consequence, the signed daily contribution from one literary hand is very rare—to an American observer probably mysteriously so. The daily cartoon is common with us; but in London, for example, I cannot think of any similar literary feature that is signed in full. We have C.E.B.'s regular verse in the Evening News and "The Londoner's" daily essay in the same paper, and various initials elsewhere; but, with us, only the artists are allowed their names. Now, in America every name, everywhere, is blazoned forth.
Whatever bushel measures may be used for in the United States the concealing of light is no part of their programme.
Another feature of American daily journals comparatively unknown in England is the so-called comic pictorial sequence. All the big papers have from one to half a dozen of these sequences, each by a different artist. Bud Fisher with "Mutt and Jeff" comes first in popularity, I believe, and then there are his rivals and his imitators. Nothing more inane than some of these series could be invented; and yet they persist and could not, I am told, be dropped by any editor who thought first of circulation.
After the individual contributions have been subtracted, all the newspapers are curiously alike. The same reporters might be on every one; the same sub-editors; the same composers of head-lines. If we think of Americans as too capable of cynical levity it is largely because of these head-lines, which are always as epigrammatic as possible, always light-hearted, often facetious, and often cruel. An unfortunate woman's failure at suicide after killing her husband was thus touched off in one of the journals while I was in New York:
POOR SHOT AT HERSELF
BUT SUCCEEDS IN LODGING BULLET
When it comes to the choice of news, one cannot believe that American editors are the best friends of their country. I am holding no brief for many English editors; I think that our papers can be common too, and can be too ready to take things by the wrong handle; but I think that more vulgarising of life is, at present, effected by American journalists than by English. There are, however, many signs that we may catch up.
Profusion is a characteristic of the American newspaper. There is too much of everything. And when Sunday comes with its masses of reading matter proper to the Day of Rest one is appalled. One thing is certain—no American can find time to do justice both to his Sunday paper and his Maker. It is principally on Sunday that one realises that if Matthew Arnold's saying that every nation has the newspapers it deserves is true, America must have been very naughty. How the Sunday editions could be brought out while the paper-shortage was being discussed everywhere, as it was during my visit, was a problem that staggered me. But that the shortage was real I was assured, and jokes upon it even got into the music halls: a sure indication of its existence. "If the scarcity of paper gets more acute," I heard a comedian say, "they'll soon have to make shoes of leather again."
But it is not only the Sunday papers that are so immense. I used to hold the Saturday Evening Post in my hands, weighed down beneath its bulk, and marvel that the nation that had time to read it could have time for anything else. The matter is of the best, but what would the prudent, wise and hard-working philosopher who founded it so many years ago —Benjamin Franklin—say if he saw its lure deflecting millions of readers from the real business of life?
When we come to consider the American magazines—to which class the Saturday Evening Post almost belongs—and the English, there is no comparison. The best American magazines are wonderful in their quality and range, and we have nothing to set beside them. It is astonishing to think how different, in the same country, daily and monthly journalism can be. Omitting the monthly reviews, Blackwood is, I take it, our finest monthly miscellany; and all of Blackwood could easily and naturally be absorbed in one of the American magazines and be illustrated into the bargain, and still leave room for much more. And the whole would cost less! Why England is so poorly and pettily served in the matter of monthly magazines is something of a mystery; but part of the cause is the rivalry of the papers, and part the smallness of our population. But I shall always hold that we deserve more good magazines than we have now.
I WAS fortunate in being in New York when I the Metropolitan Museum celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its birth, for I was therefore able to enjoy not only its normal treasures but such others as had been borrowed for birthday presents, which means that I saw Mrs. H. E. Huntington's Vermeer, as well as the supreme Marquand example of that master; more than the regular wealth of Rembrandts, Manet's "Still Life," Gauguin's "Women by the River," El Greco's "View of Toledo," Franz Hals' big jovial Dutchman from Mr. Harry Goldman's walls, and Bellini's "Bacchanale"—to say nothing of the lace in galleries 18 and 19, Mr. Morgan's bronze Eros from Pompeii, and the various cases of porcelain from a score of collections. But without extra allurements I should have been drawn again and again to this magnificent museum.
Two of the principal metropolitan donors—Altman and Hearn—were the owners of big dry goods stores, while Marquand, whose little Vermeer is probably the loveliest thing in America, was also a merchant. In future I shall look upon all the great emporium proprietors as worthy of patronage, on the chance of their being also beneficent collectors of works of art. This thought, this hope, is more likely to get me into a certain Oxford Street establishment than all the rhetoric and special pleading of Callisthenes.
The Frick Gallery was not accessible; but I was privileged to roam at will both in Mr. Morgan's library and in Mr. H. E. Hunting-ton's, in each of which I saw such a profusion of unique and unappraisable autographs as I had not supposed existed in private hands. Rare books any one with money can have, for they are mostly in duplicate; but autographs and "association" books are unique, and America is the place for them. I had known that it was necessary to cross the Atlantic in order to see the originals of many of the pictures of which we in London have only the photographs. I knew that the bulk of the Lamb correspondence was in America, and at Mr. Morgan's I saw the author's draft of the essay on "Roast Pig," and at Mr. Newton's, in Philadelphia, the original of "Dream Children," an even more desirable possession; I knew that America had provided an eager home for everything connected with Keats and Shelley and Stevenson; but it was a surprise to find at Mr. Morgan's so wide a range of MSS., extending from Milton to Du Maurier, and from Bacon to "Dorian Gray"; while at Mr. Huntington's I had in my hands the actual foolscap sheets on which Heine composed his "Florentine Nights."
I ought, you say, to have known this before. Maybe. But that ignorance in such matters is no monopoly of mine I can prove by remarking that many an American collector with whom I have talked was unaware that the library of Harvard University is the possessor of all the works of reference—mostly annotated—which were used by Thomas Carlyle in writing his "Cromwell" and his "Frederick the Great," and they were bequeathed by him in his will to Harvard University because of his esteem and regard for the American people, "particularly the more silent part of them."
My hours in these libraries, together with a glimpse of the Widener room at Harvard and certain booksellers' shelves, gave me some idea of what American collectors have done towards making the New World a treasury of the Old, and I realised how more and more necessary it will be, in the future, for all critics of art in whatever branch, and of literature in whatever branch, and all students even of antiquity, if they intend to be thorough, to visit America. This I had guessed at, but never before had known.
The English traveller lighting upon so many of the essentially English riches as are conserved in American libraries, and particularly when he has not a meagre share of national pride, cannot but pause to wonder how it came about—and comes about—that so much that ought to be in its own country has been permitted to stray.
In England collectors and connoisseurs are by no means rare. What, then, were they doing to let all these letters of Keats and Shelley, Burns and Byron, Lamb and Johnson —to name for the moment nothing else—find their resting-place in America? The dollar is very powerful, I know, but should it have been as pre-eminently powerful as this? Need it have defeated so much patriotism?
Pictures come into a different category, for every artist painted more than one picture. I have experienced no shade of resentment towards their new owners in looking at the superb collections of old and new foreign masters in the American public and private galleries; for so long as there are enough examples of the masters to go round, every nation should have a share. With MSS., however, it is different. Facsimiles, such as the Boston Bibliographical Society's edition of Lamb's letters, would serve for the rest of the world, and the originals should be in their author's native land. But that is a counsel of perfection. The only thing to do is to grin and bear it, and feel happy that these unique possessions are preserved with such loving pride and care. Any idea of retaliation on America on the part of England by buying up the MSS. of the great American writers, such as Franklin and Poe, Hawthorne and Emerson, Thoreau and Lowell, Holmes and Whitman, was rendered futile by the discovery that Mr. Morgan possesses these too. I had in his library all the Breakfast Table series in my hands, together with a play by Poe not yet published.
MENTION of the beautiful solicitude with which these treasures are surrounded, suggests the reflection that the old country has something to learn from the new in the matter of distinguished custodianship. We have no place of national pilgrimage in England that is so perfect a model as Washington's home at Mount Vernon. It is perhaps through lack of a figure of the Washington type that we have nothing to compare with it; for any parallel one must rather go to Fontainebleau; but certain shrines are ours and none of them discloses quite such pious thoroughness as this. When I think of the completeness of the preservation and reconstruction of Mount Vernon, where, largely through the piety of individuals, a thousand personal relics have been reassembled, so that, save for the sightseers, this serene and simple Virginian mansion is almost exactly as it was, I am filled with admiration. For a young people largely in a hurry to find time to be so proud and so reverent is a significant thing.
Nor is this spirit of pious reverence confined to national memorials. Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Massachusetts, although still only a hostelry, compares not unfavourably with Dove Cottage at Grasmere and Carlyle's house in Chelsea. The preservation is more minute. But to return to Mount Vernon, the orderliness of the place is not its least noticeable feature. There is no mingling of trade with sentiment, as at Stratford-on-Avon, for example. Within the borders of the estate everything is quiet. I have never seen Americans in church (not, I hasten to add, because they abstain, but because I did), but I am sure that they could not, even there, behave more as if the environment were sacred. To watch the crowds at Mount Vernon, and to contemplate the massive isolated grandeur of the Lincoln Memorial now being finished at Washington, is to realise that America, for all its superficial frivolity and cynicism, is capable of a very deep seriousness.
IT would have been pedantic, while in America, to have abstained from an effort at vers libre.
I had been to the Metropolitan Museum looking at beautiful things and rejoicing in them.
And then I had to catch a train and go far into the country, to Paul Smith's.
And as the light lessened and the brooding hour set in I looked out of the window and reconstructed some of the lovely things I had seen—the sculptures and the paintings, the jewels and the porcelain: all the fine flower of the arts through the ages.
It seemed marvellous beyond understanding that such perfection could exist, and I thought how wonderful it must be to be God and see His creatures rising now and again to such heights.
And then I came to a station where there was to be a very long wait, and I went to an inn for a meal.
It was a dirty neglected place, with a sullen unwashed man at the door, who called raspingly to his wife within.
And when she came she was a slattern, with dishevelled hair and a soiled dress and apron, and she looked miserable and worn out.
She prepared a meal which I could not eat, and when I went to pay for it I found her sitting dejectedly in a chair looking with a kind of dumb despair at the day's washing-up still to do.
And as I walked up and down the road waiting for the car I thought of this woman's earlier life when she was happy.
I thought of her in her courtship, when her husband loved her and they looked forward to marriage and he was tender and she was blithe.
They probably went to Coney Island together and laughed with the rest.
And it seemed iniquitous that such changes should come about and that merry girls should grow into sluts and slovens, and ardent young husbands should degenerate into unkempt bullies, and houses meant for happiness should decay, and marriage promises all be forgotten.
And I felt that if the world could not be better managed than that I never wanted to see any of God's artistic darlings at the top of their form again and the Metropolitan Museum could go hang.
I BELIEVE that few statements about America would so surprise English people as that it has beautiful architecture. I was prepared to find Boston and Cambridge old-fashioned and homelike—Oliver Wendell Holmes had initiated me; I had a distinct notion of the cool spaciousness of the White House and the imposing proportions of the Capitol and, of course, I knew that one had but to see the skyscrapers of New York to experience the traditional repulsion! But of the church of St. Thomas on Fifth Avenue I had heard nothing, nor of Mr. Morgan's exquisite library, nor of the Grand Central terminus, nor of the Lincoln Memorial at Washington, nor of the bland charm of Mount Vernon. Nor had I expected to find Fifth Avenue so dignified and cordial a thoroughfare.
Even less was I prepared for such metal work and stone work as is to be seen in some of the business houses—such as, for example, the new Guaranty Trust offices, both on Broadway and in Fifth Avenue. Even the elevators (for which we in England, in spite of our ancient lethargy, have a one-syllable word) are often finished with charming taste.
Least of all did I anticipate the maturity of America's buildings. Those serene facades on Beacon Street overlooking Boston Common, where the Autocrat used to walk (and I made an endeavour to follow his identical footsteps, for he was my first real author)—they are as satisfying as anything in Georgian London. And I shall long treasure the memory of the warm red brick and easy proportions of the Boston City Hall and Faneuil Hall, and Independence Hall at Philadelphia seen through a screen of leaves. But in England (and these buildings were English once) we still have many old red brick buildings; what we have not is anything to correspond with the spacious friendly houses of wood which I saw in the country all about Boston and at Cambridge—such houses as that which was Lowell's home—each amid its own greenery. Nowhere, however, did I see a more comely manor house of the old Colonial style than Anthony Wayne's, near Daylesford, in Pennsylvania. In England only cottages are built of wood, and I rather think that there are now by-laws against that.
Not all the good country houses, big and little, are, however, old. American architects in the past few years seem to have developed a very attractive type of home, often only a cottage, and I saw a great number of these on the slopes of the Hudson, all the new ones combining taste with the suggestion of comfort. The conservation of trees wherever possible is an admirable feature of modern suburban planning in America. In England the new suburb too often has nothing but saplings. In America, again, the houses, even the very small ones, are more often detached than with us.
ONCE the lay-out of New York has been mastered—its avenues and numbered cross streets—it is the most difficult city in the world in which to lose one's way. But Boston is different. I found Boston hard to learn, although it was a pleasant task to acquire knowledge, for I was led into some of the quietest little Georgian streets I have ever been in, steep though some of them were, and along one of the fairest of green walks—that between the back of Beacon Street and the placid Charles.
Against Boston I have a certain grudge, for I could find no one to direct me to the place where the tea was thrown overboard. But that it was subjected to this indignity we may be certain—partly from the testimony of subsequent events not too soothing to English feelings, and partly from the unpopularity which that honest herb still suffers on American soil. Coffee, yes; coffee at all times; but no one will take any but the most perfunctory interest in the preparation of tea. I found the harbour; I traversed wharf after wharf; but found no visible record of the most momentous act of jettison since Jonah. In the top room, however, of Faneuil Hall, in the Honourable Artillery Company's headquarters, the more salient incidents of the struggle which followed are all depicted by enthusiastic, if not too talented, painters; and I saw in the distance the monument on Bunker's Hill.
My cicerone must be excused, for he was a Boston man, born and bred, and I ought never to have put him to the humiliation of confessing his natural ignorance. But the record is there, and legible enough. The tablet (many kind correspondents have informed me since certain of these notes appeared in the Outlook) is at 495 Atlantic Avenue, in the water-front district, just a short walk from the South Station, and it has the following inscription:
HERE FORMERLY STOOD
at which lay moored on Dec. 16, 1773, three British ships with cargoes of tea. To defeat King George's trivial but tyrannical tax of three pence a pound, about ninety citizens of Boston, partly disguised as Indians, boarded the ships, threw the cargoes, three hundred and forty-two chests in all, into the sea and made the world ring with the patriotic exploit of the
BOSTON TEA PARTY
"No! ne'er was mingled such a draught
In palace, hall, or arbor,
As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed
That night in Boston Harbor."
Boston has a remarkable art gallery and museum, notable for its ancient Chinese paintings, its collection of Japanese prints—one of the best in the world, I believe—and a dazzling wall of water-colours by Mr. Sargent. It was here that I saw my first Winslow Homers—two or three rapid sketches of fishermen in full excitement—and was conquered by his verve and actuality. In the Metropolitan Museum in New York I found him again in oils and my admiration increased. Surely no one ever can have painted the sea with more vividness, power and truth! We have no example of his work in any public gallery in London; nor have we anything by W. M. Chase, Arthur B. Davies, Swain Gifford, J. W. Alexander, George Inness, or De Forest Brush. It is more than time for another American Exhibition. As it is, the only modern American artists of whom there is any general knowledge in England are Mr. Sargent, Mr. Epstein and Mr. Pennell, and the late E. A. Abbey, G. H. Boughton, and Whistler. Other Americans painting in our midst are Mr. Mark Fisher, R.A., Mr. J. J. Shannon, R.A., Mr. J. McLure Hamilton, and Mr. G. Wetherbee.
The Boston Gallery is the proud possessor of the rough and unfinished but "speaking" likeness of George Washington by his predestined limner Gilbert Stuart, and also a companion presentment of Washington's wife. Looking upon this lady's countenance and watching a party of school girls who were making the tour of the rooms, not uncomforted on their arduous adventure by chocolate and other confections, it occurred to me that if America increases her present love of eating sweets, due, I am told, not a little to Prohibition, George Washington will gradually disappear into the background and Martha Washington, who has already given her name to a very popular brand of candy, will be venerated instead, as the Sweet Mother of her Country.
An American correspondent sends me the following poem in order to explain to me the deviousness of Boston's principal thoroughfare. The poet is Mr. Sam Walter Foss:—
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day o'er bill and glade
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wabbled when he walked.
The forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And travelled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street,
And then before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in and forth and back
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the paths that others do.
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach—
But I am not ordained to preach.
WAS fortunate in the city over which William Penn, in giant effigy, keeps watch and ward, in having as guide, philosopher and friend Mr. A. Edward Newton, the Johnsonian, and the author of one of the best examples of "amateur" literature that I know—"The Amenities of Book-Collecting." Mr. Newton took me everywhere, even to the little seventeenth-century Swedish church, which architecturally may be described as the antipodes of Philadelphia's newer glory, the Curtis Building, where editors are lodged like kings and can be attained to (if at all) only through marble halls. We went to St. Peter's, where, suddenly awaking during the sermon, one would think oneself to be in a London city church, and to the Historical Museum, where I found among the Quaker records many of my own ancestors and was bewildered amid such a profusion of relics of Penn, Washington and Franklin. In the old library were more traces of Franklin, including his famous electrical appliance, again testifying to the white flame with which American hero-worship can burn; and we found the sagacious Benjamin once more at the Franklin Inn Club, where the simplicity of the eighteenth century mingles with the humour and culture of the twentieth. We then drove through several miles of Fairmount Park, stopping for a few minutes in the hope of finding the late J. G. Johnson's Vermeer in the gallery there; but for the moment it was in hiding, the walls being devoted to his Italian pictures.
Finally we drew up at the gates of that strange and imposing Corinthian temple which might have been dislodged from its original site and hurled to Philadelphia by the first Quaker, Poseidon—the Girard College. This solemn fane we were permitted to enter only on convincing the porter that we were not ministers of religion—an easy enough task for Mr. Newton, who wears with grace the natural abandon of a Voltairean, but a difficult one for me. Why Stephen Girard, the worthy "merchant and mariner" who endowed this institution, was so suspicious of the cloth, no matter what its cut, I do not know; no doubt he had his reasons; but his prejudices are faithfully respected by his janitor, whose eye is a very gimlet of suspicion. However, we got in and saw the philanthropist's tomb and his household effects behind those massive columns.
That evening I spent in Mr. Newton's library among Blake and Lamb and Johnson autographs and MSS., breaking the Tenth Commandment with a recklessness that would have satisfied and delighted Stephen Girard's gatekeeper ; and the next day we were off to Valley Forge to see with what imaginative thoughtfulness the Government has been transforming Washington's camp into a national park and restoring the old landmarks. It was a fine spring day and the woods were flecked with the white and pink blossoms of the dogwood—a tree which in England is only an inconspicuous hedgerow bush but here has both charm and importance and some of the unexpectedness of a tropical growth. I wish we could acclimatise it.
The memorial chapel now in course of completion on one of the Valley Forge eminences seemed to me a very admirable example not only of modern Gothic but of votive piety. And such a wealth of American symbolism cannot exist elsewhere. But in the severe little cottage where Washington made his headquarters, down by the stream, with all his frugal campaigning furniture and accessories in their old places, I felt more emotion than in the odour of sanctity. The simple reality of it conquered the stained glass.
LOOKING back on it all I realise that America never struck me as a new country, although its inhabitants often seemed to be a new people. The cities are more mature than the citizens. New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington—all have an air of permanence and age. The buildings, even the most fantastic, suggest indigenousness, or at least stability; nor would the presence of more ancient structures increase this effect. To the eye of the ordinary Englishman accustomed to work in what we call the City, in Fleet Street, in the Strand, in Piccadilly, or in Oxford Street, New York would not appear to be a younger place than London, and Boston might easily strike him as older. Nor is London more than a little older, except in spots, such as the Tower and the Temple and the Abbey, and that little Tudor row in Holborn, all separated by vast tracts of modernity. Indeed, I would almost go farther and say that London sets up an illusion of being newer even than New York by reason of its more disturbing street traffic both in the roads and on the footways, and the prevalence of the gaily coloured omnibuses which thunder along so many thoroughfares in notable contrast with the sedate and sober vehicles that serve Fifth Avenue and are hardly seen elsewhere.
Meanwhile an illusion of antiquity is set up by New York's habit of commingling business houses and private residences, which surely belongs to an older order of society. In London we have done away with such a blend. Our nearest approach to Fifth Avenue is, I suppose, Regent Street; but there are no mansions among the shops of Regent Street. Our shops are there and our mansions are elsewhere, far away, in what we call residential quarters—such as Park Lane, Queen's Gate, Mayfair, the Bayswater Road, and Grosvenor Square. To turn out of Fifth Avenue into the quiet streets where people live is to receive a distinct impression of sedateness such as New York is never supposed to convey. One has the same feeling in the other great American cities.
But when it comes to their inhabitants there are to the English eye fewer signs of maturity. I have never been able to get rid of the idea that every one I have met in America, no matter how grave a senior, instead of being really and self-consciously in the thick of life, is only getting ready to begin. Perhaps this is due in part to the pleasure—the excitement almost—which American business men—and all Americans are business men—take in their work. They not merely do it, but they enjoy doing it and they watch themselves doing it. They seem to have a knack of withdrawing aside and observing themselves as from the stalls, not without applause. In other words, they dramatise continually. Now, one does not do this when one is old—it is a childish game—and it is another proof that they are younger than we, who do not enjoy our work, and indeed, most of us, are ashamed of it and want the world to believe that we live like the lilies on private means.
Similarly, many Americans seem, when they talk, to be two persons: one the talker, and the other the listener charmed by the quality of his discourse. There is nothing detrimental in such duplicity. Indeed, I think I have a very real envy of it. But one of the defects of the listening habit is perhaps to make them too rhetorical, too verbose. It is odd that the nation that has given us so much epigrammatic slang and the telegraph and the telephone and the typewriter should have so little of what might be called intellectual short-hand. But so it is. Too many Americans are remorseless when they are making themselves clear.
Yet the passion for printed idiomatic sententiousness and arresting trade-notices is visible all the time. You see it in the newspapers and in the shops. I found a children's millinery shop in New York with this laconic indication of its scope, in permanent letters, on the plate-glass window: "Lids for Kids." A New York undertaker, I am told, has affixed to all his hearses the too legible legend: "You may linger, but I'll get you yet."
When it comes to descriptive new words, coined rapidly to meet occasions, we English are nowhere compared with the Americans. Could there be anything better than the term "Nearbeer" to reveal at a blow the character of a substitute for ale? I take off my hat, too, to "crape-hanger," which leaves "kill-joy" far in the rear. But "optience" for a cinema audience, which sees but does not hear, though ingenious, is less admirable.
Although I found the walls of business offices in New York and elsewhere decorated with pithy counsel to callers, and discouragements to irrelevance, such as "Come to the point but don't camp on it," "To hell with yesterday," and so forth, I am very doubtful if with all these suggestions of practical address and Napoleonic efficiency the American business man is as quick and decisive as ours can be. There is more autobiography talked in American offices than in English; more getting ready to begin.
I have, however, no envy of the American man's inability to loaf and invite his soul, as his great democratic poet was able to do. I think that this unfamiliarity with armchair life is a misfortune. That article of furniture, we must suppose, is for older civilisations, where men have either, after earning the right to recline, taken their ease gracefully, or have inherited their fortune and are partial to idleness. It consorts ill with those who are still either continually and restlessly in pursuit of the dollar or are engaged in the occupation of watching dollars automatically arrive.
One of the things, I take it, for Americans to learn is how to transform money into a friend. So many men who ought to be quietly rejoicing in their riches seem still to be anxious and acquisitive; so many men who have become suddenly wealthy seem to be allowing their gains to ruin their happiness. For the nation's good nearly every one, I fancy, has too much money.
My experience is that England has almost everything to learn from America in the matter of hotels. I consider American second and third-class hotels to be better in many ways than our best. Every American restaurant, of each grade, is better than the English equivalent; the appointments are better, the food is served with more distinction and often is better too. When it comes to coffee, there is no comparison whatever: American coffee is the best in the world. Only quite recently has the importance of the complete suite entered the intelligence of the promoters of English hotels, and in myriads of these establishments, called first class, there is still but one bathroom to twenty rooms. Heating coils and hot and cold water in the rooms are even more rare: so rare as to be mentioned in the advertisements. Telephones in the rooms are rarer. In too many hotels in England there is still no light at the head of the bed. But we have certain advantages. For example, in English restaurants there is always something on the table to eat at once—hors d'œuvres or bread and butter. In America there is too often nothing ready but iced water—an ungenial overture to any feast —and you must wait until your order has been taken. Other travellers, even Americans, have agreed with me that it would be more comfortable if the convention which decrees that the waiter shall bring everything together could be overruled. Something "to go on with" is a great ameliorative, especially when one is hungry and tired.
In thus commending American hotels over English it is, however, only right to admit that the American hotels are very much more expensive.
While on the subject of eating, I would say that for all their notorious freedoms Americans have a better sense of order than we. Their policemen may carry their batons drawn, and even swing them with a certain insolent defiance or even provocation, but New York goes on its way with more precision and less disturbance than London, and every one is smarter, more alert. The suggestion of a living wage for all is constant. It is indeed on this sense of orderliness that the success of certain of the American time-saving appliances is built. The Automat restaurants, for example, where the customer gets all his requirements himself, would never do in London. The idea is perfect; but it requires the co-operation of the customer, and that is what we should fail to provide. The spotless cleanliness and mechanical exactitude of these places in New York would cease in London, and gradually they would decline and then disappear. At heart, we in England dislike well-managed places. Nor can I see New York's public distribution of hot water adopted in London. Such little geysers as expel steam at intervals through the roadway of Fifth Avenue will never, I fear, be found in Regent Street or Piccadilly. Our communism is very patchy.
There are some unexpected differences between America and England. It is odd, for instance, to find a nation from whom we get most of our tobacco and who have the reputation of even chewing cigars, with such strict rules against smoking. In the Music Halls, which are, as a rule, better than ours, smoking is permitted only in certain parts. Public decorum again is, I should say, more noticeable in an American than an English city, and yet both in San Francisco and New York I dined in restaurants—not late—between 7 and 8—and not furtive hole-in-corner places,—where girls belonging to the establishment, wearing almost nothing at all, performed the latest dances, with extravagant and daring variations of them, among the tables. In London this kind of thing is unknown. In Paris it occurs only in the night cafes. It struck me as astonishing—and probably not at all to the good —that it should be an ordinary dinner accompaniment.
I was asked while I was in America to set down some of the chief things that I missed. I might easily have begun with walking-sticks, for until I reached New York I seemed to be the only man in America who carried one, although a San Francisco friend confessed to sometimes "wearing a cane" on Sundays. I missed a Visitors' Book either at the British Embassy in Washington or at the White House. After passing through India, where one's first duty is to enter one's name in these volumes, it seemed odd that the same machinery of civility should be lacking. I missed any system of cleaning boots during the night, in the hotels; but I soon became accustomed to this, and rather enjoyed visiting the "shine parlours," in one of which was this crisp notice: "If you like our work, tell your friends; if you don't like it, tell us." I missed gum-chewing.
But it was on returning to England that I began really to take notice. Then I found myself missing America's cleanliness, America's despatch, its hotel efficiency, its lashings of cream, its ice on every hand. All this at Liverpool! I missed later the petrol fountains all about the roads, a few of which I had seen in India, at which the motorist can replenish; but these surely will not be long in coming. I don't want England to be Americanised; I don't want America to cease to be a foreign country; but there are lessons each of us can learn.
If I were an American, although I travelled abroad now and then (and I hold that it is the duty of a man to see other lands but live in his own) I should concentrate on America. It is the country of the future. I am glad I have seen it and now know something—however slight—about it at first hand. I made many friends there and amassed innumerable delightful memories. But what is the use of eight weeks? I am ashamed not to have gone there sooner, and humiliated by the brevity of my stay. I have had the opportunity only to lift a thousand curtains, get a glimpse of the entertainment on the other side and drop them again. I should like to go there every other year and have time: time to make the acquaintance of a naturalist and learn from him the names of birds and trees and flowers; time to loiter in the byways; time to penetrate into deeper strata where intimacies strike root and the real discoveries are made; time to discern beneath the surface, so hard and assured, something fey, something wistful, the sense of tears.