Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of six-even if he do not ask for a gratui- circumstances would be resented by the ty, show palpably by his manner that he poorest American as an insult. expects one. On the other hand, a gen- That the national independence of chartleman would scarcely accept the slightest acter may, occasionally, be pushed too far, civility from a man of an inferior class with- and degenerate into offensive self-assertion, out payment, even if none were demanded must, however, be admitted. Thus it is reor expected. He pays for it to mark that lated of a stage-driver in one of the Westhe does not regard what has been done ern States that, on entering a tavern in for him in the light of an act of courtesy search of a passenger, he addressed the from man to man, butas a service render- solitary occupant of the bar-room in these ed him by a being so inferior to himself terms: “ Are you the man that's going by that there can be nothing in common be- this here stage ?” adding as the reason for tween them. The rich man, in fact, ex his making the inquiry, “ I'm the gentleacts, on most occasions, a servile deference man that drives it." from the poor one—and pays for it; while This is ridiculous enough; but such the latter has so little self-respect that he is cases are, in the older settled States at only too willing to be paid.

least, quite exceptional; and it would be No irtequality of position or circum- most unfair to regard the individual who stances, however, will make a native of any figures in the above anecdote as the repreportion of the United States submit to be sentative of other than a limited class in ing dealt with in the manner, or spoken to any section of the country. in the tone, which, in this country, the So far, indeed, as my observation has ex“man in broadcloth" adopts as a matter tended, not only is the American of the of course towards the “ man in fustian," poorer classes better mannered than the No one, perhaps, has a keener apprecia- Englishman of the same grade, but so sution of the advantages of wealth and edu- perior is he in this respect, that no comcation than the American; but that the parison can fairly be instituted between possessor of them should feel justified in them. using towards him the language of a supe- Any one who returns to this country afrior to an inferior is what he can not un- ter having spent some time on the Contiderstand, and will not for one moment put nent or in the United States, can not, in up with. An anecdote related of the el. fact, but be struck by the coarseness—I der Mathews, when in New-York, well il- might almost say the brutality-of the lustrates this phase of the national charac- lower classes ; at least of such of them as ter. Walking up Broadway one day, he the eye falls upon in the public streets. In addressed an individual, having the ap- the rough practical jokes, in the “chaff," pearance of a mechanic, in these terms: in which they so liberally indulge amongst My good man, I want to go to Franklin themselves, the desire to inflict pain or an

“Then why the devil don't you noyance is, almost always, the basis of go there ?" was the uncivil reply.

their wit. Treating each other with habiNow I have heard this story quoted as tual rudeness, it follows that the show of showing the rudeness of the lower orders courtesy they put on towards those above in the United States. But it was, I have them is prompted simply by the desire of no doubt, the unlucky phrase " My good gain. Their civility is, in fact, little better man,” and the patronizing tone in which it than servility. may be inferred that such words would be The American, on the other hand, howuttered, that roused the gall of the indivi- ever humble in position, has a keen sense dual spoken to, and provoked a discourte- of personal dignity; no taste for horseous retort. The inquiry differently put, play; and, prompt to resent an impertiwould not only have elicited a civil an- nence or an insult

, is equally slow, unproswer from ninety-nine out of a hundred of voked, to offer either. those to whom it might have been address- The difference in morals as well as in ed, but they would-seeing he was a for- manners between the lower classes in the eigner-have shown a courteous readiness two countries, is rather significantly illusto afford him any information in their trated by the fact that, during a residence power; and that, too, without the slight- of upwards of seventeen years in Newest expectation of a fee or reward. In- York, the writer can not call to mind a sindeed, the offer of a gratuity under such gle instance of any native American citizen

Street."

appearing at the bar of a police court on of his country by foreigners. Curtis, perthe charge of wife-beating. And as to haps, scarcely exaggerated when he assertdrunkenness, more intoxicated men, and ed that after the disaster at Bull's Run, women too, may be seen in the streets of what troubled his countrymen most, was London in one day, than in those of any not the reverse their arms had sustained city of the United States in six months. —that they knew they should retrieve

The admirable system of public schools but the thought of what the Times' corre-in which a purely gratuitous education spondent would say about it. But this is offered to all alike—which exists through- very thin-skinnedness—though a defect in out the whole of the Northern and East- the national character, as evincing a cerern States, has done very much to elevate tain lack of dignity-has yet its counterthe moral as well as the intellectual char- balancing advantages. The sufferer writhes acter of the people. · In New-England the and cries out under the lash of his critics; percentage of crime to population is less but his punishment makes a permanent imthat that of any European country, with pression on him, and he sets himself serithe exception, possibly, of Holland. Even ously to work to correct the faults or follies the State of New-York—the chief city of which have been condemned or satirized. which is the common receptacle for igno- Many years ago, when Mrs. Trollope rance, poverty, and crime from all parts of visited New-York, the occupants of the upEurope-presents a very fair record in this per tiers of boxes of the Park Theatre were respect; and, if the foreign population be in the habit, between the acts, of resting eliminated from the calculation, an excel- their legs upon the balustrade in front of lent one.

Few persons, indeed, are aware them, and were guilty of other breaches of how much this same foreign population etiquette. But so much did the people contributes to the statistics of crime in take to heart what the lady said of them America. In the State of New York in her book, that, for years afterwards, if alone seventy per cent of all the offences any of the practices she had commented on which are brought under the cognizance were indulged in, a cry was raised of “ A of the tribunals are committed by individu- Trollope! a Trollope !" and the offending als of Irish parentage, while the fair pro- individual was obliged to desist. At the portion of this class would be less than present day the propriety, the order, the twenty per cent.

courtesy of manner to each other of an As an evidence of the moral develop- American audience, are remarkable. A ment of the people which has resulted play, too, is seldom or never, what is termfrom education, may be adduced the readi- ed in theatrical parlance, damned. If a ness with which they are disposed to sub- performance does not please those who ordinate their individual preferences to witness it, they show their dissatisfaction what they consider to be for the good of only by silence, being apparently of Lovethe commonwealth; of this the “ Prohibi- lace's opinion, that to “manifest dislike to tory Liquor Law" is a conspicuous exam- a play by tumultuous disapprobation” is ple. Whatever differences of opinion may in bad taste. The only exceptions I can reexist in this country as to the asbtract member to this rule were when a performmerits of such a law, there can be, I con- er was guilty of some violation of decoceive, no question but that the very fact of rum, by either word or gesture; and then its existence presupposes a considerable he has been dealt with sharply enough. amount of self-denial on the part of a large Before concluding these desultory obnumber of those who have been instru- servations upon American traits, I may

obmental in passing it. Many thousands, in serve, that any Englishman who returns fact, in various States, voted for what is home, after a residence of some years in the known as the "Maine" law, who had nev- United States, can not but be struck by er been, nor were ever likely to be, guilty the ignorance which exists here both with of excess themselves; but who denied regard to the institutions and character of themselves what they believed to be a the people of that country-an ignorance, perfectly innocent indulgence, purely for be it said, infinitely more inexcusable than the sake of those of their fellow-citizens that so frequently imputed to the French less able to exercise self-control.

in respect to us. For them, indeed, may The American is proverbially sensitive be pleaded the excuses of difference of race -almost morbidly so—as to what is said and language—the latter an almost insuperable barrier to the thorough compre- of the country from Maine to Texas; and hension of the idiosyncracies of a people. such as, it may safely be affirmed, was nevBut of the Americans-derived from a er yet heard from the lips of any one hucommon stock, and speaking the same man being. It is the same on the stage. tongue as ourselves—we absolutely know In “Our American Cousin,” Lord Dunless than we do of any Continental nation. dreary is accepted for what it is, an ex

ven of the geography of the United ceedingly clever representation of an indiStates the English people are, as a rule, vidual idiosyncrasy. Asa Trenchard, on curiously ignorant.

the other hand, is received by the audience One explanation of our ignorance of the as a fair type not only of a class, but of a social characteristics of the Americans people. Yet Mr. Buckstone, excellent as may be found in the fact that our impres- he is in his own line, so far from giving a sions of them are, partly, derived from the fair likeness of the Yankee, does not even books of travelers who, in hurried journeys present a caricature of him; that is, if carithrough the States, have simply noted such cature be understood in its proper sense, superficial traits of the people as came un- i.C., the humorous or ridiculous exaggerader their observation in hotels, railroads, tion of features or habits peculiar to the insteamboats; but also, in still greater de- dividual or species. Asa Trenchard on gree, I conceive, from those English works the Haymarket stage is simply a vulgar of fiction in which natives of the United cockney, with a habit of speaking through States have been introduced, the individu- his nose; and it appears strangely inconals therein delineated being, very general- sistent that a delicate-minded, refined woly, accepted by the majority of readers as man like Mary Meredith should tolerate the fair types of the American. In nearly addresses of such a man. When the play every one of these works, the American in question was originally produced in figures in either an odious or a ridiculous New-York, Jefferson, of Rip Van Winkle aspect. To say nothing of those portions fame, was the Asa Trenchard, and in his of “ Martin Chuzzlewit,” the scene of hands the character became a fair, unexwhich is laid in the United States, I may aggerated type of New-England-cool, mention Richard Avernal in Bulwer's “My clear-headed, brave, warm-hearted, but igNovel ;" the Colonel in Lever's “ One of norant of the conventionalities of society. Them;" Fullalove in Charles Reade's Here it would have been caviare to the “Very Hard Cash ;" the younger Fenton mass of playgoers, their preconceived idea in Yates's “ Black Sheep;" and the Amer- of the character being so totally differican in

Mugby Junction.” In every in- ent. stance, whether represented as a man of In closing this paper I may add that good social position and presumably fair the opinions expressed have not been lighteducation, or not, he is made to expressly hazarded, but are the result of careful himself in a dialect happily combining all observation of the characteristics of the the peculiarities of speech of each section American people.

W. C. M.

Macmillan's Magazine.
THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF A PHAETON.

BY WILLIAM BLACK, AUTHOR OF “A DAUGHTER OF HETH," ETC.

CHAPTER XIII.

great crisis had come, and that the young SAVED!

man from Twickenham would demand “ Unto the great Twin Brethren

some pledge from Bell as he bade her We keep this solemn feast.

good-by. The dread of this danger Swift, swift the great Twin Brethren drove the kindly little woman into such Came spurring from the east !”

exaggerations of his misconduct of yesterCastor and Pollux did us notable ser- day that I began to wonder if this Arthur vice that morning at Worcester. Arthur were really the same lad she used to pet was coming round to see Bell before we and think so much of when he came started. Queen Tita was oppressed by down to Leatherhead and dawdled with anxious fears; and declared that now the my Lady and Bell along the Surrey lanes

of an evening. What had changed him miseration of even the most angelic of wosince then ?

men." “You are pleased to be profound," says I regarded that last expression as rather Tita, abruptly.

effective; but no. My Lady remarked Well, I was only pointing out to her that she was not accustomed to the treatthat one of the chief accomplishments of ment of the insane; and that another day life is consideration for the sick; and that such as that she had just passed would whereas nearly all women seem to have soon make her as ill as himself. an inherited instinct that way, men only Our Bonny Bell did not seem so disacquire the habit as the result of experi- turbed as might have been expected. ence and reflection. Indeed, with most When we went down to the coffee-room, women, the certain passport to their inte- we found the Lieutenant and her sitting at rest and kindliness is to be unwell and ex- opposite sides of a small table, deeply enact a great deal of patient service from gaged over a sheet of paper.

On our enthem. Now, I was saying to Tita when trance the document was hastily folded up she uttered that unnecessary rebuke—why and smuggled away. don't women show the same consideration “ It is a secret," said the Lieutenant, anto those who are mentally ailing ?-to the ticipating inquiry. " You shall not know unfortunate persons whose vexed and irri- until we are away on our journey again. tated brain renders them peevish and ill- It is a packet to be opened in a quiet place tempered ? Once get a patient down with - -no houses near, no persons to listen ; fever, and all his fractious complainings and then—and then—" are soothed, and all his querulous whims Perhaps it will remain a secret ? Bien! are humored. But when the same man is Life is not long enough to let one meddle rendered a little insane by meeting with a with secrets; they take up so much time disappointment—or if he is unable to stand in explanation, and then they never conbeing crossed in argument, so that the tain any thing." mildest statement about some such con- “ But this is a very wonderful thing,” tested subject as the American War, Gov- said the Lieutenant," and you must hurry ernor Eyre, or the Annexation of Alsace, to get away from Worcester that you

shall sends a flash of flame through his head hear of it.” why should not the like allowance be We were, however, to have another made for his infirmities? Why should the sealed packet that morning. Master Arman who is ill-tempered because of a fe- thur, knowing full well that he would have ver be humored, caressed, and coaxed ? but little chance of speaking privately and the man who is ill-tempered because with Bell, had intrusted his thoughts to a his reason is liable to attacks of passion, be piece of paper and an envelope ; and just regarded as an ill-conditioned boor, not fit as we were in the hurry of departure, the for the society of well-bred ladies and gen- young man appeared. The truth was, the tlemen ?

Lieutenant had ordered the horses to be “I think,” says Tita, with a little put in some quarter of an hour before the warmth, "you do nothing now but try to time we had said we should start; and my invent excuses for Arthur. And it is not Lady showed so much anxiety to set forth fair. I am very sorry for him if he is so at once that I saw she hoped to leave bevexed that he loses his temper ; but that fore Arthur came. does not excuse his being absolutely The phaeton stood in the archway of rude !"

the hotel, and on the stone steps were “ But his rudeness is part of his ail- flung the rugs and books. ment,' ," I venture to say.

Ordinarily, he “My dear," says Tita, rather anxiously, is the mildest and gentlest of young men, to Bell, “ do get in! The horses seem rawho would shrink from a charge of rude. ther fresh, and-and-" ness as the worst thing you could urge “Won't you wait to bid good-by to Aragainst him. At present, he is off his thúr ?" says Bell. head. He does not know what he says “ It is impossible to say when he will

-or rather, he is incapable of controll- come-he will understand—I will leave a ing his utterances. He is really sick message for him," says Queen Titania, all with a fever--though, it isn't one of in a breath; and with that the Lieutenant those, apparently, that secure the com- assists Bell to get up in front.

66

I have the reins in my hand, awaiting might and main; and with scarcely a look orders. The last rugs are thrown up, at Worcester, we found ouselves out in books stowed away, every thing in readi- the country again, amid quiet and woodness; Tita takes her seat behind, and ed lanes, with all the sweet influences the Lieutenant is on the point of getting of a bright summer morning around us. up.

" I hope you are not hurt,” said my LaAt this moment Arthur comes round the dy to the Lieutenant, who was looking corner, is amazed for a moment to see us about to see whether the smash had taken ready to start, and then suddenly brings some of our paint off, or done other damout a letter.

age. “ Bell," he says, “I-I have—there is “ Oh, not in the least, madame,” he said, something here I want you to see—only a “but I find that one of my boots is cut, moment, and you can give me an answer so that I think the shoe of the horse must now-yes or no

have done it. And has he caught on the The unfortunate young man was obvi- pole before ?" ously greatly excited; his face quite pale, “ Only once,” she says. and his speech rapid and broken. He “ Then I would have the bit made with handed up the letter: the crisis that Tita bars across, so that it will be more diffihad endeavored to avoid had come. But cult; for suppose this did happen in the in this our darkest hour—as I have al- road, and there was a ditch, and he backready hinted-Castor and Pollux came to ed youthe rescue.

It was the battle of the Lake " I suppose we should go over,” remarkRegillus acted once again in the gateway ed Queen Tita, philosophically. “But it of the Worcester Star Hotel. For Pollux, is strange how often accidents in driving casting his head about and longing to might occur, and how seldom they do ocstart, managed to fix his bit on the end of cur. But we must really have the bit althe pole, and, of course, a wild scene en- tered." sued. Despite the efforts of the ostler, “Well," I say to my gentle companion, the horse threw himself back on his “what message did you leave with Arhaunches; the phaeton described a curve, thur?" and was driven against the wall with a “ I could not leave any,” said Bell ; loud crash; the people about fled in eve- “ for, of course, when the horses went ry direction, and the Lieutenant jumped back, he had to get out of their way. But out and sprang to the horses' heads. Pol- he will understand that I will write to lux was still making violent efforts to ex- him." tricate himself, and Castor, having become “ Have

you

read the letter ?". excited, was plunging about; so that for a

“ No." moment it seemed as though the vehicle “ Do, like a good girl, and have it over. would be shattered in pieces against the That is always the best way. You must wall of the court. The women were quite not go into this beautiful country that still, except that Tita uttered a little sup- lies ahead with a sort of cloud over pressed cry as she saw the Lieutenant you.” hanging on to the rearing horses. He So Bell took out the letter, and furtivestuck manfully to their heads, and, with ly opened it. She read it carefully over, the assistance of the ostler, at last manag- without uttering a word; then she contined to get the bit off. Then both horses ued looking at it for a long time. sprung forward. It would have been im- “ I am very glad that accident occurpossible to have confined them longer in red,” she remarked in a low voice. this narrow place. The Lieutenant leap- said I was to answer 'yes' or 'no.' I ed in behind; and the next moment the could not do that to such a letter as this ; phaeton was out in the main street of and if I had refused, he would have Worcester, both horses plunging and pull- been very much hurt. I will write to ing so as to turn all eyes towards us. Cer- him from whatever place we stop at totainly, it was a good thing the thorough- night." fare was pretty clear. The great Twin This resolution seemed greatly to comBrethren, not knowing what diabolical oc- fort her. If any explanation were needcurrence had marked their setting out, ed, it was postponed until the evening ; were speeding away from the place with and in the meantime we had fine weather,

“ He

« AnteriorContinuar »