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

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

I have shown also that the American woman, in so far as she is exhibited to us in London, and on the Continent of Europe, is a somewhat frivolous female, and not always comely; smart, possibly,[110] and lively, possibly, but on the whole disposed to be too smart and too lively. I have given you a peep at the American millionaire, and found him wanting in everything but money, and not invariably too well provided with that. I have pointed out that American advertising, whether for the sake of gain or of notoriety, is a shameless, blatant and undesirable affair. For the first time in history I have set it on record that the Americans eat too many pea-nuts. I have run the rule over their painful attempts at the dramatic art, and proved that in this important connection they have been responsible for many banalities and futilities, and that their average of performance is far below that of the rest of the theatre-using world. I have demonstrated, also, that their real metier is the giddy tenth-rate circus, ablast with drums and the roaring of wild beasts, the snuffling of freaks, and the shrieking mirth of the vulgar. I have paid a passing tribute to the integrity and blamelessness of their sportsmen. And I have warned them solemnly about pork. What more can be expected of me?

It is more than likely that I shall be told that I have chosen for the subject of my remarks a rather stodgy type of American, which is rapidly giving place[111] to a saner, wholesomer, and pleasanter type, resulting from the spread of culture and a modification of manners on the best European plans. To this I reply that I have spoken of the American exactly as he seems to me to be, and judged him on the numerous samples which have hitherto come my way. That there must be some residuum of sound and serious people in the United States seems probable, but I have never been to the United States.

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

You are at liberty to answer these questions in any way you please; but[112] the conviction of myself and a by no means inconsiderable number of other persons will remain the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Will they ever give up pea-nuts?

Will they ever cease from the blind cultivation of pork?

I trow not.

And as these chapters are intended a great deal more for the English than for the Americans, I may say here and now that it is the Englishman’s plain duty to himself and to the race to refrain as far as in him lies from the easy sin of imitation. In his admiration and envy for the magical and almost uncanny successes of his American brother, let him not be[114] carried away with the stupid notion that it is possible for him to go forth and do likewise. For one thing, he hasn’t got the climate; and for another he hasn’t got either the pea-nuts or the pork.

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

If any profit worth having is to come out of the present welter it will come by the Anglicisation of America, and not by the Americanisation of England. The Americans themselves recognise the weight and importance of this fact. Some of them are already wearing eye-glasses. They smile in their sleeves at our readiness to adopt the least admirable of their multifarious foolish ways. When an American meets an Englishman who is[115] trying to run his business or his household or other of his affairs after American models, and particularly when he meets an Englishman who looks upon the Americans as his superiors and masters at the game of life, he is sheerly, if unavowedly, amazed. He knows what America is, he knows in his heart what America means, and if it lay in his power to choose the place to which he will go when he dies, that place would not be Chicago, nor would it be even Paris, but a clean, free, un-Americanised England.

But with all their usually enormous and often brilliant faults—that amaze, even if they do not stagger humanity—the Americans are a nation of C?sars. In every field of activity they have scored many triumphs. But they are not satisfied with acquisition and conquest on a colossal scale, they want to surpass all previous records in ancient or modern times. They are endowed with an inherent genius for arriving at their destination, and the destination they have set down for themselves in the national time-table is one in keeping with their vast and great country, whose mission it seems to be to make Europe and the world sit-up. Therefore, within the next decade or two, I should not be surprised to see[116] a very much larger splash of purple on the map of the earth—and to see it called the American Empire.

The End


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