Worldly Ways and Byways
Eliot Gregory

Part 4 out of 4

(people read Bulwer, Byron and the Bible then) being in such demand
that I knew one block in lower Fifth Avenue that possessed seven
blind Nydias, all life-size, in white marble, - a form of
decoration about as well adapted to those scanty front parlors as a
steam engine or a carriage and pair would have been. I fear
Bulwer's heroine is at a discount now, and often wonder as I see
those old residences turning into shops, what has become of the
seven white elephants and all their brothers and sisters that our
innocent parents brought so proudly back from Italy! I have
succeeded in locating two statues evidently imported at that time.
They grace the back steps of a rather shabby villa in the country,
- Demosthenes and Cicero, larger than life, dreary, funereal
memorials of the follies of our fathers.

The simple days we have been speaking of did not, however, outlast
the circle that inaugurated them. About 1867 a few rich New
Yorkers began "trying to know the Italians" and go about with them.
One family, "up to snuff" in more senses than one, married their
daughter to the scion of a princely house, and immediately a large
number of her compatriots were bitten with the madness of going
into Italian society.

In 1870, Rome became the capital of united Italy. The court
removed there. The "improvements" began. Whole quarters were
remodelled, and the dear old Rome of other days, the Rome of
Hawthorne and Madame de Stael, was swept away. With this new state
of things came a number of Americo-Italian marriages more or less
successful; and anything like an American society, properly so-
called, disappeared. To-day families of our compatriots passing
the winter months in Rome are either tourists who live in hotels,
and see sights, or go (as far as they can) into Italian society.

The Queen of Italy, who speaks excellent English, developed a
PENCHANT for Americans, and has attached several who married
Italians to her person in different court capacities; indeed, the
old "Black" society, who have remained true to the Pope, when they
wish to ridicule the new "White" or royal circle, call it the
"American court!" The feeling is bitter still between the "Blacks"
and "Whites," and an American girl who marries into one of these
circles must make up her mind to see nothing of friends or
relatives in the opposition ranks. It is said that an amalgamation
is being brought about, but it is slow work; a generation will have
to die out before much real mingling of the two courts will take
place. As both these circles are poor, very little entertainment
goes on. One sees a little life in the diplomatic world, and the
King and Queen give a ball or two during the winter, but since the
repeated defeats of the Italian arms in Africa, and the heavy
financial difficulties (things these sovereigns take very seriously
to heart), there has not been much "go" in the court

The young set hope great things of the new Princess of Naples, the
bride of the heir-apparent, a lady who is credited with being full
of fun and life; it is fondly imagined that she will set the ball
rolling again. By the bye, her first lady-in-waiting, the young
Duchess del Monte of Naples, was an American girl, and a very
pretty one, too. She enjoyed for some time the enviable
distinction of being the youngest and handsomest duchess in Europe,
until Miss Vanderbilt married Marlborough and took the record from
her. The Prince and Princess of Naples live at their Neapolitan
capital, and will not do much to help things in Rome. Besides
which he is very delicate and passes for not being any too fond of
the world.

What makes things worse is that the great nobles are mostly "land
poor," and even the richer ones burned their fingers in the craze
for speculation that turned all Rome upside down in the years
following 1870 and Italian unity, when they naively imagined their
new capital was to become again after seventeen centuries the
metropolis of the world. Whole quarters of new houses were run up
for a population that failed to appear; these houses now stand
empty and are fast going to ruin. So that little in the way of
entertaining is to be expected from the bankrupts. They are a
genial race, these Italian nobles, and welcome rich strangers and
marry them with much enthusiasm - just a shade too much, perhaps -
the girl counting for so little and her DOT for so much in the
matrimonial scale. It is only necessary to keep open house to have
the pick of the younger ones as your guests. They will come to
entertainments at American houses and bring all their relations,
and dance, and dine, and flirt with great good humor and
persistency; but if there is not a good solid fortune in the
background, in the best of securities, the prettiest American
smiles never tempt them beyond flirtation; the season over, they
disappear up into their mountain villas to wait for a new
importation from the States.

In Rome, as well as in the other Italian cities, there are, of
course, still to be found Americans in some numbers (where on the
Continent will you not find them?), living quietly for study or
economy. But they are not numerous or united enough to form a
society; and are apt to be involved in bitter strife among

Why, you ask, should Americans quarrel among themselves?

Some years ago I was passing the summer months on the Rhine at a
tiny German watering-place, principally frequented by English, who
were all living together in great peace and harmony, until one
fatal day, when an Earl appeared. He was a poor Irish Earl, very
simple and unoffending, but he brought war into that town, heart-
burnings, envy, and backbiting. The English colony at once divided
itself into two camps, those who knew the Earl and those who did
not. And peace fled from our little society. You will find in
every foreign capital among the resident Americans, just such a
state of affairs as convulsed that German spa. The native "swells"
have come to be the apple of discord that divides our good people
among themselves. Those who have been successful in knowing the
foreigners avoid their compatriots and live with their new friends,
while the other group who, from laziness, disinclination, or
principle (?) have remained true to their American circle, cannot
resist calling the others snobs, and laughing (a bit enviously,
perhaps) at their upward struggles.

It is the same in Florence. The little there was left of an
American society went to pieces on that rock. Our parents forty
years ago seem to me to have been much more self-respecting and
sensible. They knew perfectly well that there was nothing in
common between themselves and the Italian nobility, and that those
good people were not going to put themselves out to make the
acquaintance of a lot of strangers, mostly of another religion,
unless it was to be materially to their advantage. So they left
them quietly alone. I do not pretend to judge any one's motives,
but confess I cannot help regarding with suspicion a foreigner who
leaves his own circle to mingle with strangers. It resembles too
closely the amiabilities of the wolf for the lamb, or the sudden
politeness of a school-boy to a little girl who has received a box
of candies.

CHAPTER 37 - The Newport of the Past

FEW of the "carriage ladies and gentlemen" who disport themselves
in Newport during the summer months, yachting and dancing through
the short season, then flitting away to fresh fields and pastures
new, realize that their daintily shod feet have been treading
historic ground, or care to cast a thought back to the past. Oddly
enough, to the majority of people the past is a volume rarely
opened. Not that it bores them to read it, but because they, like
children, want some one to turn over its yellow leaves and point
out the pictures to them. Few of the human motes that dance in the
rays of the afternoon sun as they slant across the little Park,
think of the fable which asserts that a sea-worn band of
adventurous men, centuries before the Cabots or the Genoese
discoverer thought of crossing the Atlantic, had pushed bravely out
over untried seas and landed on this rocky coast. Yet one apparent
evidence of their stay tempts our thoughts back to the times when
it is said to have been built as a bower for a king's daughter.
Longfellow, in the swinging verse of his "Skeleton in Armor,"
breathing of the sea and the Norseman's fatal love, has thrown such
a glamour of poetry around the tower, that one would fain believe
all he relates. The hardy Norsemen, if they ever came here,
succumbed in their struggle with the native tribes, or, discouraged
by death and hardships, sailed away, leaving the clouds of oblivion
to close again darkly around this continent, and the fog of
discussion to circle around the "Old Mill."

The little settlement of another race, speaking another tongue,
that centuries later sprang up in the shadow of the tower, quickly
grew into a busy and prosperous city, which, like New York, its
rival, was captured and held by the English. To walk now through
some of its quaint, narrow streets is to step back into
Revolutionary days. Hardly a house has changed since the time when
the red coats of the British officers brightened the prim
perspectives, and turned loyal young heads as they passed.

At the corner of Spring and Pelham Streets, still stands the
residence of General Prescott, who was carried away prisoner by his
opponents, they having rowed down in whale-boats from Providence
for the attack. Rochambeau, our French ally, lodged lower down in
Mary Street. In the tower of Trinity, one can read the epitaph of
the unfortunate Chevalier de Ternay, commander of the sea forces,
whose body lies near by. Many years later his relative, the Duc de
Noailles, when Minister to this country, had this simple tablet
repaired and made a visit to the spot.

A long period of prosperity followed the Revolution, during which
Newport grew and flourished. Our pious and God-fearing "forbears,"
having secured personal and religious liberty, proceeded to
inaugurate a most successful and remunerative trade in rum and
slaves. It was a triangular transaction and yielded a three-fold
profit. The simple population of that day, numbering less than ten
thousand souls, possessed twenty distilleries; finding it a
physical impossibility to drink ALL the rum, they conceived the
happy thought of sending the surplus across to the coast of Africa,
where it appears to have been much appreciated by the native
chiefs, who eagerly exchanged the pick of their loyal subjects for
that liquid. These poor brutes were taken to the West Indies and
exchanged for sugar, laden with which, the vessels returned to

Having introduced the dusky chieftains to the charms of delirium
tremens and their subjects to life-long slavery, one can almost see
these pious deacons proceeding to church to offer up thanks for the
return of their successful vessels. Alas! even "the best laid
schemes of mice and men" come to an end. The War of 1812, the
opening of the Erie Canal and sundry railways struck a blow at
Newport commerce, from which it never recovered. The city sank
into oblivion, and for over thirty years not a house was built

It was not until near 1840 that the Middletons and Izzards and
other wealthy and aristocratic Southern families were tempted to
Newport by the climate and the facilities it offered for bathing,
shooting and boating. A boarding-house or two sufficed for the
modest wants of the new-comers, first among which stood the
Aquidneck, presided over by kind Mrs. Murray. It was not until
some years later, when New York and Boston families began to
appreciate the place, that the first hotels were built, - the
Atlantic on the square facing the old mill, the Bellevue and
Fillmore on Catherine Street, and finally the original Ocean House,
destroyed by fire in 1845 and rebuilt as we see it to-day. The
croakers of the epoch considered it much too far out of town to be
successful, for at its door the open fields began, a gate there
separating the town from the country across which a straggling,
half-made road, closed by innumerable gates, led along the cliffs
and out across what is now the Ocean Drive. The principal roads at
that time led inland; any one wishing to drive seaward had to
descend every two or three minutes to open a gate. The youth of
the day discovered a source of income in opening and closing these
for pennies.

Fashion had decreed that the correct hour for dancing was 11 A.M.,
and MATINEES DANSANTES were regularly given at the hotels, our
grandmothers appearing in DECOLLETE muslin frocks adorned with
broad sashes, and disporting themselves gayly until the dinner
hour. Low-neck dresses were the rule, not only for these informal
entertainments, but as every-day wear for young girls, - an old
lady only the other day telling me she had never worn a "high-body"
until after her marriage. Two o'clock found all the beauties and
beaux dining. How incredulously they would have laughed if any one
had prophesied that their grandchildren would prefer eight forty-
five as a dinner hour!

The opening of Bellevue Avenue marked another epoch in the history
of Newport. About that time Governor Lawrence bought the whole of
Ochre Point farm for fourteen thousand dollars, and Mr. de Rham
built on the newly opened road the first "cottage," which stands
to-day modestly back from the avenue opposite Perry Street. If
houses have souls, as Hawthorne averred, and can remember and
compare, what curious thoughts must pass through the oaken brain of
this simple construction as it sees its marble neighbors rearing
their vast facades among trees. The trees, too, are an innovation,
for when the de Rham cottage was built and Mrs. Cleveland opened
her new house at the extreme end of Rough Point (the second summer
residence in the place) it is doubtful if a single tree broke the
rocky monotony of the landscape from the Ocean House to Bateman's

Governor Lawrence, having sold one acre of his Ochre Point farm to
Mr. Pendleton for the price he himself had paid for the whole,
proceeded to build a stone wall between the two properties down to
the water's edge. The population of Newport had been accustomed to
take their Sunday airings and moonlight rambles along "the cliffs,"
and viewed this obstruction of their favorite walk with dismay. So
strong was their feeling that when the wall was completed the young
men of the town repaired there in the night and tore it down. It
was rebuilt, the mortar being mixed with broken glass. This
infuriated the people to such an extent that the whole populace, in
broad daylight, accompanied by the summer visitors, destroyed the
wall and threw the materials into the sea. Lawrence, bent on
maintaining what he considered his rights, called the law to his
aid. It was then discovered that an immemorial riverain right gave
the fishermen and the public generally, access to the shore for
fishing, and also to collect seaweed, - a right of way that no one
could obstruct.

This was the beginning of the long struggle between the cliff-
dwellers and the townspeople; each new property-owner, disgusted at
the idea that all the world can stroll at will across his well-kept
lawns, has in turn tried his hand at suppressing the now famous
"walk." Not only do the public claim the liberty to walk there,
but also the right to cross any property to get to the shore. At
this moment the city fathers and the committee of the new buildings
at Bailey's Beach are wrangling as gayly as in Governor Lawrence's
day over a bit of wall lately constructed across the end of
Bellevue Avenue. A new expedient has been hit upon by some of the
would-be exclusive owners of the cliffs; they have lowered the
"walk" out of sight, thus insuring their own privacy and in no way
interfering with the rights of the public.

Among the gentlemen who settled in Newport about Governor
Lawrence's time was Lord Baltimore (Mr. Calvert, he preferred to
call himself), who remained there until his death. He was shy of
referring to his English peerage, but would willingly talk of his
descent through his mother from Peter Paul Rubens, from whom had
come down to him a chateau in Holland and several splendid
paintings. The latter hung in the parlor of the modest little
dwelling, where I was taken to see them and their owner many years
ago. My introducer on this occasion was herself a lady of no
ordinary birth, being the daughter of Stuart, our greatest portrait
painter. I have passed many quiet hours in the quaint studio (the
same her father had used), hearing her prattle - as she loved to do
if she found a sympathetic listener - of her father, of Washington
and his pompous ways, and the many celebrities who had in turn
posed before Stuart's easel. She had been her father's companion
and aid, present at the sittings, preparing his brushes and colors,
and painting in backgrounds and accessories; and would willingly
show his palette and explain his methods and theories of color, his
predilection for scrumbling shadows thinly in black and then
painting boldly in with body color. Her lessons had not profited
much to the gentle, kindly old lady, for the productions of her own
brush were far from resembling her great parent's work. She,
however, painted cheerfully on to life's close, surrounded by her
many friends, foremost among whom was Charlotte Cushman, who also
passed the last years of her life in Newport. Miss Stuart was over
eighty when I last saw her, still full of spirit and vigor,
beginning the portrait of a famous beauty of that day, since the
wife and mother of dukes.

Miss Stuart's death seems to close one of the chapters in the
history of this city, and to break the last connecting link with
its past. The world moves so quickly that the simple days and
modest amusements of our fathers and grandfathers have already
receded into misty remoteness. We look at their portraits and
wonder vaguely at their graceless costumes. We know they trod
these same streets, and laughed and flirted and married as we are
doing to-day, but they seem to us strangely far away, like
inhabitants of another sphere!

It is humiliating to think how soon we, too, shall have become the
ancestors of a new and careless generation; fresh faces will
replace our faded ones, young voices will laugh as they look at our
portraits hanging in dark corners, wondering who we were, and
(criticising the apparel we think so artistic and appropriate) how
we could ever have made such guys of ourselves.

CHAPTER 38 - A Conquest of Europe

THE most important event in modern history is the discovery of
Europe by the Americans. Before it, the peoples of the Old World
lived happy and contented in their own countries, practising the
patriarchal virtues handed down to them from generations of
forebears, ignoring alike the vices and benefits of modern
civilization, as understood on this side of the Atlantic. The
simple-minded Europeans remained at home, satisfied with the rank
in life where they had been born, and innocent of the ways of the
new world.

These peoples were, on the whole, not so much to be pitied, for
they had many pleasing crafts and arts unknown to the invaders,
which had enabled them to decorate their capitals with taste in a
rude way; nothing really great like the lofty buildings and
elevated railway structures, executed in American cities, but
interesting as showing what an ingenious race, deprived of the
secrets of modern science, could accomplish.

The more aesthetic of the newcomers even affected to admire the
antiquated places of worship and residences they visited abroad,
pointing out to their compatriots that in many cases marble, bronze
and other old-fashioned materials had been so cleverly treated as
to look almost like the superior cast-iron employed at home, and
that some of the old paintings, preserved with veneration in the
museums, had nearly the brilliancy of modern chromos. As their
authors had, however, neglected to use a process lending itself to
rapid reproduction, they were of no practical value. In other
ways, the continental races, when discovered, were sadly behind the
times. In business, they ignored the use of "corners," that
backbone of American trade, and their ideas of advertising were but
little in advance of those known among the ancient Greeks.

The discovery of Europe by the Americans was made about 1850, at
which date the first bands of adventurers crossed the seas in
search of amusement. The reports these pioneers brought back of
the NAIVETE, politeness, and gullibility of the natives, and the
cheapness of existence in their cities, caused a general exodus
from the western to the eastern hemisphere. Most of the Americans
who had used up their credit at home and those whose incomes were
insufficient for their wants, immediately migrated to these happy
hunting grounds, where life was inexpensive and credit unlimited.

The first arrivals enjoyed for some twenty years unique
opportunities. They were able to live in splendor for a pittance
that would barely have kept them in necessaries on their own side
of the Atlantic, and to pick up valuable specimens of native
handiwork for nominal sums. In those happy days, to belong to the
invading race was a sufficient passport to the good graces of the
Europeans, who asked no other guarantees before trading with the
newcomers, but flocked around them, offering their services and
their primitive manufactures, convinced that Americans were all

Alas! History ever repeats itself. As Mexicans and Peruvians,
after receiving their conquerors with confidence and enthusiasm,
came to rue the day they had opened their arms to strangers, so the
European peoples, before a quarter of a century was over, realized
that the hordes from across the sea who were over-running their
lands, raising prices, crowding the native students out of the
schools, and finally attempting to force an entrance into society,
had little to recommend them or justify their presence except
money. Even in this some of the intruders were unsatisfactory.
Those who had been received into the "bosom" of hotels often forgot
to settle before departing. The continental women who had provided
the wives of discoverers with the raiment of the country (a luxury
greatly affected by those ladies) found, to their disgust, that
their new customers were often unable or unwilling to offer any

In consequence of these and many other disillusions, Americans
began to be called the "Destroyers," especially when it became
known that nothing was too heavy or too bulky to be carried away by
the invaders, who tore the insides from the native houses, the
paintings from the walls, the statues from the temples, and
transported this booty across the seas, much in the same way as the
Romans had plundered Greece. Elaborate furniture seemed especially
to attract the new arrivals, who acquired vast quantities of it.

Here, however, the wily natives (who were beginning to appreciate
their own belongings) had revenge. Immense quantities of worthless
imitations were secretly manufactured and sold to the travellers at
fabulous prices. The same artifice was used with paintings, said
to be by great masters, and with imitations of old stuffs and bric-
a-brac, which the ignorant and arrogant invaders pretended to
appreciate and collect.

Previous to our arrival there had been an invasion of the Continent
by the English about the year 1812. One of their historians,
called Thackeray, gives an amusing account of this in the opening
chapters of his "Shabby Genteel Story." That event, however, was
unimportant in comparison with the great American movement,
although both were characterized by the same total disregard of the
feelings and prejudices of indigenous populations. The English
then walked about the continental churches during divine service,
gazing at the pictures and consulting their guide-books as
unconcernedly as our compatriots do to-day. They also crowded into
theatres and concert halls, and afterwards wrote to the newspapers
complaining of the bad atmosphere of those primitive establishments
and of the long ENTR'ACTES.

As long as the invaders confined themselves to such trifles, the
patient foreigners submitted to their overbearing and uncouth ways
because of the supposed benefit to trade. The natives even went so
far as to build hotels for the accommodation and delight of the
invaders, abandoning whole quarters to their guests.

There was, however, a point at which complacency stopped. The
older civilizations had formed among themselves restricted and
exclusive societies, to which access was almost impossible to
strangers. These sanctuaries tempted the immigrants, who offered
their fairest virgins and much treasure for the privilege of
admission. The indigenous aristocrats, who were mostly poor,
yielded to these offers and a few Americans succeeded in forcing an
entrance. But the old nobility soon became frightened at the
number and vulgarity of the invaders, and withdrew severely into
their shells, refusing to accept any further bribes either in the
form of females or finance.

From this moment dates the humiliation of the discoverers. All
their booty and plunder seemed worthless in comparison with the
Elysian delights they imagined were concealed behind the closed
doors of those holy places, visions of which tortured the women
from the western hemisphere and prevented their taking any pleasure
in other victories. To be received into those inner circles became
their chief ambition. With this end in view they dressed
themselves in expensive costumes, took the trouble to learn the
"lingo" spoken in the country, went to the extremity of copying the
ways of the native women by painting their faces, and in one or two
cases imitated the laxity of their morals.

In spite of these concessions, our women were not received with
enthusiasm. On the contrary, the very name of an American became a
byword and an abomination in every continental city. This
prejudice against us abroad is hardly to be wondered at on
reflecting what we have done to acquire it. The agents chosen by
our government to treat diplomatically with the conquered nations,
owe their selection to political motives rather than to their tact
or fitness. In the large majority of cases men are sent over who
know little either of the habits or languages prevailing in Europe.

The worst elements always follow in the wake of discovery. Our
settlements abroad gradually became the abode of the compromised,
the divorced, the socially and financially bankrupt.

Within the last decade we have found a way to revenge the slights
put upon us, especially those offered to Americans in the capital
of Gaul. Having for the moment no playwrights of our own, the men
who concoct dramas, comedies, and burlesques for our stage find,
instead of wearying themselves in trying to produce original
matter, that it is much simpler to adapt from French writers. This
has been carried to such a length that entire French plays are now
produced in New York signed by American names.

The great French playwrights can protect themselves by taking out
American copyright, but if one of them omits this formality, the
"conquerors" immediately seize upon his work and translate it,
omitting intentionally all mention of the real author on their
programmes. This season a play was produced of which the first act
was taken from Guy de Maupassant, the second and third "adapted"
from Sardou, with episodes introduced from other authors to
brighten the mixture. The piece thus patched together is signed by
a well-known Anglo-Saxon name, and accepted by our moral public,
although the original of the first act was stopped by the Parisian
police as too immoral for that gay capital.

Of what use would it be to "discover" a new continent unless the
explorers were to reap some such benefits? Let us take every
advantage that our proud position gives us, plundering the foreign
authors, making penal settlements of their capitals, and ignoring
their foolish customs and prejudices when we travel among them! In
this way shall we effectually impress on the inferior races across
the Atlantic the greatness of the American nation.

CHAPTER 39 - A Race of Slaves

IT is all very well for us to have invaded Europe, and awakened
that somnolent continent to the lights and delights of American
ways; to have beautified the cities of the old world with graceful
trolleys and illuminated the catacombs at Rome with electricity.
Every true American must thrill with satisfaction at these
achievements, and the knowledge that he belongs to a dominating
race, before which the waning civilization of Europe must fade away
and disappear.

To have discovered Europe and to rule as conquerors abroad is well,
but it is not enough, if we are led in chains at home. It is
recorded of a certain ambitious captain whose "Commentaries" made
our school-days a burden, that "he preferred to be the first in a
village rather than second at Rome." Oddly enough, WE are
contented to be slaves in our villages while we are conquerors in
Rome. Can it be that the struggles of our ancestors for freedom
were fought in vain? Did they throw off the yoke of kings, cross
the Atlantic, found a new form of government on a new continent,
break with traditions, and sign a declaration of independence, only
that we should succumb, a century later, yielding the fruits of
their hard-fought battles with craven supineness into the hands of
corporations and municipalities; humbly bowing necks that refuse to
bend before anointed sovereigns, to the will of steamboat
subordinates, the insolence of be-diamonded hotel-clerks, and the
captious conductor?

Last week my train from Washington arrived in Jersey City on time.
We scurried (like good Americans) to the ferry-boat, hot and tired
and anxious to get to our destination; a hope deferred, however,
for our boat was kept waiting forty long minutes, because,
forsooth, another train from somewhere in the South was behind
time. Expostulations were in vain. Being only the paying public,
we had no rights that those autocrats, the officials, were bound to
respect. The argument that if they knew the southern train to be
so much behind, the ferry-boat would have plenty of time to take us
across and return, was of no avail, so, like a cargo of "moo-cows"
(as the children say), we submitted meekly. In order to make the
time pass more pleasantly for the two hundred people gathered on
the boat, a dusky potentate judged the moment appropriate to scrub
the cabin floors. So, aided by a couple of subordinates, he
proceeded to deluge the entire place in floods of water, obliging
us to sit with our feet tucked up under us, splashing the ladies'
skirts and our wraps and belongings.

Such treatment of the public would have raised a riot anywhere but
in this land of freedom. Do you suppose any one murmured? Not at
all. The well-trained public had the air of being in church. My
neighbors appeared astonished at my impatience, and informed me
that they were often detained in that way, as the company was short
of boats, but they hoped to have a new one in a year or two. This
detail did not prevent that corporation advertising our train to
arrive in New York at three-thirteen, instead of which we landed at
four o'clock. If a similar breach of contract had happened in
England, a dozen letters would have appeared in the "Times," and
the grievance been well aired.

Another infliction to which all who travel in America are subjected
is the brushing atrocity. Twenty minutes before a train arrives at
its destination, the despot who has taken no notice of any one up
to this moment, except to snub them, becomes suspiciously attentive
and insists on brushing everybody. The dirt one traveller has been
accumulating is sent in clouds into the faces of his neighbors.
When he is polished off and has paid his "quarter" of tribute, the
next man gets up, and the dirt is then brushed back on to number
one, with number two's collection added.

Labiche begins one of his plays with two servants at work in a
salon. "Dusting," says one of them, "is the art of sending the
dirt from the chair on the right over to the sofa on the left." I
always think of that remark when I see the process performed in a
parlor car, for when it is over we are all exactly where we began.
If a man should shampoo his hair, or have his boots cleaned in a
salon, he would be ejected as a boor; yet the idea apparently never
enters the heads of those who soil and choke their fellow-
passengers that the brushing might be done in the vestibule.

On the subject of fresh air and heat we are also in the hands of
officials, dozens of passengers being made to suffer for the
caprices of one of their number, or the taste of some captious
invalid. In other lands the rights of minorities are often
ignored. With us it is the contrary. One sniffling school-girl
who prefers a temperature of 80 degrees can force a car full of
people to swelter in an atmosphere that is death to them, because
she refuses either to put on her wraps or to have a window opened.

Street railways are torture-chambers where we slaves are made to
suffer in another way. You must begin to reel and plunge towards
the door at least two blocks before your destination, so as to leap
to the ground when the car slows up; otherwise the conductor will
be offended with you, and carry you several squares too far, or
with a jocose "Step lively," will grasp your elbow and shoot you
out. Any one who should sit quietly in his place until the vehicle
had come to a full stop, would be regarded by the slave-driver and
his cargo as a POSEUR who was assuming airs.

The idea that cars and boats exist for the convenience of the
public was exploded long ago. We are made, dozens of times a day,
to feel that this is no longer the case. It is, on the contrary,
brought vividly home to us that such conveyances are money making
machines in the possession of powerful corporations (to whom we, in
our debasement, have handed over the freedom of our streets and
rivers), and are run in the interest and at the discretion of their

It is not only before the great and the powerful that we bow in
submission. The shop-girl is another tyrant who has planted her
foot firmly on the neck of the nation. She respects neither sex
nor age. Ensconced behind the bulwark of her counter, she scorns
to notice humble aspirants until they have performed a preliminary
penance; a time she fills up in cheerful conversation addressed to
other young tyrants, only deciding to notice customers when she
sees their last grain of patience is exhausted. She is often of a
merry mood, and if anything about your appearance or manner strikes
her critical sense as amusing, will laugh gayly with her companions
at your expense.

A French gentleman who speaks our language correctly but with some
accent, told me that he found it impossible to get served in our
stores, the shop-girls bursting with laughter before he could make
his wants known.

Not long ago I was at the Compagnie Lyonnaise in Paris with a stout
American lady, who insisted on tipping her chair forward on its
front legs as she selected some laces. Suddenly the chair flew
from under her, and she sat violently on the polished floor in an
attitude so supremely comic that the rest of her party were
inwardly convulsed. Not a muscle moved in the faces of the well-
trained clerks. The proprietor assisted her to rise as gravely as
if he were bowing us to our carriage.

In restaurants American citizens are treated even worse than in the
shops. You will see cowed customers who are anxious to get away to
their business or pleasure sitting mutely patient, until a waiter
happens to remember their orders. I do not know a single
establishment in this city where the waiters take any notice of
their customers' arrival, or where the proprietor comes, toward the
end of the meal, to inquire if the dishes have been cooked to their
taste. The interest so general on the Continent or in England is
replaced here by the same air of being disturbed from more
important occupations, that characterizes the shop-girl and
elevator boy.

Numbers of our people live apparently in awe of their servants and
the opinion of the tradespeople. One middle-aged lady whom I
occasionally take to the theatre, insists when we arrive at her
door on my accompanying her to the elevator, in order that the
youth who presides therein may see that she has an escort, the
opinion of this subordinate apparently being of supreme importance
to her. One of our "gilded youths" recently told me of a thrilling
adventure in which he had figured. At the moment he was passing
under an awning on his way to a reception, a gust of wind sent his
hat gambolling down the block. "Think what a situation," he
exclaimed. "There stood a group of my friends' footmen watching
me. But I was equal to the situation and entered the house as if
nothing had happened!" Sir Walter Raleigh sacrificed a cloak to
please a queen. This youth abandoned a new hat, fearing the
laughter of a half-dozen servants.

One of the reasons why we have become so weak in the presence of
our paid masters is that nowhere is the individual allowed to
protest. The other night a friend who was with me at a theatre
considered the acting inferior, and expressed his opinion by
hissing. He was promptly ejected by a policeman. The man next me
was, on the contrary, so pleased with the piece that he encored
every song. I had paid to see the piece once, and rebelled at
being obliged to see it twice to suit my neighbor. On referring
the matter to the box-office, the caliph in charge informed me that
the slaves he allowed to enter his establishment (like those who in
other days formed the court of Louis XIV.) were permitted to
praise, but were suppressed if they murmured dissent. In his
MEMOIRES, Dumas, PERE, tells of a "first night" when three thousand
people applauded a play of his and one spectator hissed. "He was
the only one I respected," said Dumas, "for the piece was bad, and
that criticism spurred me on to improve it."

How can we hope for any improvement in the standard of our
entertainments, the manners of our servants or the ways of
corporations when no one complains? We are too much in a hurry to
follow up a grievance and have it righted. "It doesn't pay," "I
haven't got the time," are phrases with which all such subjects are
dismissed. We will sit in over-heated cars, eat vilely cooked
food, put up with insolence from subordinates, because it is too
much trouble to assert our rights. Is the spirit that prompted the
first shots on Lexington Common becoming extinct? Have the floods
of emigration so diluted our Anglo-Saxon blood that we no longer
care to fight for liberty? Will no patriot arise and lead a revolt
against our tyrants?

I am prepared to follow such a leader, and have already marked my
prey. First, I will slay a certain miscreant who sits at the
receipt of customs in the box-office of an up-town theatre. For
years I have tried to propitiate that satrap with modest politeness
and feeble little jokes. He has never been softened by either, but
continues to "chuck" the worst places out to me (no matter how
early I arrive, the best have always been given to the
speculators), and to frown down my attempts at self-assertion.

When I have seen this enemy at my feet, I shall start down town
(stopping on the way to brain the teller at my bank, who is
perennially paring his nails, and refuses to see me until that
operation is performed), to the office of a night-boat line, where
the clerk has so often forced me, with hundreds of other weary
victims, to stand in line like convicts, while he chats with a
"lady friend," his back turned to us and his leg comfortably thrown
over the arm of his chair. Then I will take my blood-stained way -
but, no! It is better not to put my victims on their guard, but to
abide my time in silence! Courage, fellow-slaves, our day will

CHAPTER 40 - Introspection *

THE close of a year must bring even to the careless and the least
inclined toward self-inspection, an hour of thoughtfulness, a
desire to glance back across the past, and set one's mental house
in order, before starting out on another stage of the journey for
that none too distant bourne toward which we all are moving.

* December thirty-first, 1888.

Our minds are like solitary dwellers in a vast residence, whom
habit has accustomed to live in a few only of the countless
chambers around them. We have collected from other parts of our
lives mental furniture and bric-a-brac that time and association
have endeared to us, have installed these meagre belongings
convenient to our hand, and contrived an entrance giving facile
access to our living-rooms, avoiding the effort of a long detour
through the echoing corridors and disused salons behind. No
acquaintances, and but few friends, penetrate into the private
chambers of our thoughts. We set aside a common room for the
reception of visitors, making it as cheerful as circumstances will
allow and take care that the conversation therein rarely turns on
any subject more personal than the view from the windows or the
prophecies of the barometer.

In the old-fashioned brick palace at Kensington, a little suite of
rooms is carefully guarded from the public gaze, swept, garnished
and tended as though the occupants of long ago were hourly expected
to return. The early years of England's aged sovereign were passed
in these simple apartments and by her orders they have been kept
unchanged, the furniture and decorations remaining to-day as when
she inhabited them. In one corner, is assembled a group of dolls,
dressed in the quaint finery of 1825. A set of miniature cooking
utensils stands near by. A child's scrap-books and color-boxes lie
on the tables. In one sunny chamber stands the little white-draped
bed where the heiress to the greatest crown on earth dreamed her
childish dreams, and from which she was hastily aroused one June
morning to be saluted as Queen. So homelike and livable an air
pervades the place, that one almost expects to see the lonely
little girl of seventy years ago playing about the unpretending

Affection for the past and a reverence for the memory of the dead
have caused the royal wife and mother to preserve with the same
care souvenirs of her passage in other royal residences. The
apartments that sheltered the first happy months of her wedded
life, the rooms where she knew the joys and anxieties of maternity,
have become for her consecrated sanctuaries, where the widowed,
broken old lady comes on certain anniversaries to evoke the
unforgotten past, to meditate and to pray.

Who, as the year is drawing to its close, does not open in memory
some such sacred portal, and sit down in the familiar rooms to live
over again the old hopes and fears, thrilling anew with the joys
and temptations of other days? Yet, each year these pilgrimages
into the past must become more and more lonely journeys; the
friends whom we can take by the hand and lead back to our old homes
become fewer with each decade. It would be a useless sacrilege to
force some listless acquaintance to accompany us. He would not
hear the voices that call to us, or see the loved faces that people
the silent passages, and would wonder what attraction we could find
in the stuffy, old-fashioned quarters.

Many people have such a dislike for any mental privacy that they
pass their lives in public, or surrounded only by sporting trophies
and games. Some enjoy living in their pantries, composing for
themselves succulent dishes, and interested in the doings of the
servants, their companions. Others have turned their salons into
nurseries, or feel a predilection for the stable and the dog-
kennels. Such people soon weary of their surroundings, and move
constantly, destroying, when they leave old quarters, all the
objects they had collected.

The men and women who have thus curtailed their belongings are,
however, quite contented with themselves. No doubts ever harass
them as to the commodity or appropriateness of their lodgements and
look with pity and contempt on friends who remain faithful to old
habitations. The drawback to a migratory existence, however, is
the fact that, as a French saying has put it, CEUX QUI SE REFUSENT
are surprised to find as the years go by that the futile amusements
to which they have devoted themselves do not fill to their
satisfaction all the hours of a lifetime. Having provided no books
nor learned to practise any art, the time hangs heavily on their
hands. They dare not look forward into the future, so blank and
cheerless does it appear. The past is even more distasteful to
them. So, to fill the void in their hearts, they hurry out into
the crowd as a refuge from their own thoughts.

Happy those who care to revisit old abodes, childhood's remote
wing, and the moonlit porches where they knew the rapture of a
first-love whisper. Who can enter the chapel where their dead lie,
and feel no blush of self-reproach, nor burning consciousness of
broken faith nor wasted opportunities? The new year will bring to
them as near an approach to perfect happiness as can be attained in
life's journey. The fortunate mortals are rare who can, without a
heartache or regret, pass through their disused and abandoned
dwellings; who dare to open every door and enter all the silent
rooms; who do not hurry shudderingly by some obscure corners, and
return with a sigh of relief to the cheerful sunlight and murmurs
of the present.

Sleepless midnight hours come inevitably to each of us, when the
creaking gates of subterranean passages far down in our
consciousness open of themselves, and ghostly inhabitants steal out
of awful vaults and force us to look again into their faces and
touch their unhealed wounds.

An old lady whose cheerfulness under a hundred griefs and
tribulations was a marvel and an example, once told a man who had
come to her for counsel in a moment of bitter trouble, that she had
derived comfort when difficulties loomed big around her by writing
down all her cares and worries, making a list of the subjects that
harassed her, and had always found that, when reduced to material
written words, the dimensions of her troubles were astonishingly
diminished. She recommended her procedure to the troubled youth,
and prophesied that his anxieties would dwindle away in the clear
atmosphere of pen and paper.

Introspection, the deliberate unlatching of closed wickets, has the
same effect of stealing away the bitterness from thoughts that, if
left in the gloom of semi-oblivion, will grow until they overshadow
a whole life. It is better to follow the example of England's pure
Queen, visiting on certain anniversaries our secret places and
holding communion with the past, for it is by such scrutiny only


Those who have courage to perform thoroughly this task will come
out from the silent chambers purified and chastened, more lenient
to the faults and shortcomings of others, and better fitted to take
up cheerfully the burdens of a new year.


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