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most as influential as that which the Jews, and especially the German Jews, have long since secured on the continental press of Europe, and, to some extent, on the English press. They have not the financial control-it was Macaulay who remarked that the Irish are distinguished by qualities which tend to make men interesting rather than prosperous--but they have their pens, and they use them. I am not blaming them, far from it: I state the fact. It is a form of influence which may become not less potent than that other form of influence the Irish have for more than a generation wielded in New York politics; in municipal politics, in state politics, and in national politics. That is a subject already so well understood here that I need not enter upon it, and it is far too large for merely incidental treatment. The Irishman's earth hunger is washed out of him by his Atlantic voyage; he steps on the Hudson River dock a new man. The first sight of the city dazzles him; the vision which he saw from his squalid cottage at home of millions of untilled American acres has vanished; agricultural life has lost its charm for him; instead of squatting" on a prairie claim in the Far West, he squats in New York; he applies his energies to political problems, and he does us the honor to govern us. I will not undertake to determine the exact proportion in which he is responsible for the reputation New York long since acquired that of being the worst governed city on the face of the earth. Tammany Hall in its most evil days was not exclusively peopled by Irishmen, nor was the Tweed Ring wholly un-American. We will take our share of the blame. Nor is New York the only city where Irishmen have made politics a successful profession. If there be one spot on the North American continent where Americanism in politics might be expected to be in the ascendant, it is Boston. Twenty years ago the districts were few in which an Irish candidate for the humblest municipal office would have had a chance of election. When I was there last November the mayor of this Puritan city was an Irish Roman Catholic; and he has since been reelected for another year.
It is not because I ignore the Irish element and the German element, or because I think no account ought to be taken of the mixed multitude of nationalities grouped in picturesque confusion in New York city, that I nevertheless describe it as American, and profoundly American. They are all there and all to be reckoned with, and each one has its influence on the whole. But not one of these nationalities is quite the same as at home. If in the mass they act powerfully on the greater mass about them, the reaction of the whole on each component part is more powerful still. The blending of races has hardly begun, but the mere presence and contact of all these dissimilar atoms has resulted in an amalgam which itself is American. What is called the American idea may be seen perhaps in fuller development elsewhere than in New York. If a foreigner wants to study American politics, New York is not the place I should recommend to him. If he is in search of a key to the Republican system of government, he will find it in the towns and town meetings of New England, and of the West, where the political ideas of New England have taken root afresh and sprung up in larger growths. He will find in New York what we call the machine in full political activity and with all the latest improvements. will find also that politics are not to the New Yorker a matter of such absorbing interest that the best people devote to them their best energies. They are but an item in the life of the city, and by no means the most important to the New Yorker, who wonders-when he happens to hear of it-at the degree of importance which the English press seems to attach to them. The last thing the English traveller is likely to hear discussed, unless he happens to make his visit about election time, is politics. They may almost be left out of the question if he is concerned to form to himself an estimate of New York in the sense in which the American speaks of it as the chief American city.
ballot-boxes in which the New Yorkers deposit their votes on each election day find their way at last to a single centre, and give forth a single expression of the popular will. It has a regular form of government, and though it may not be always well governed, the citizens have, if they think themselves ill governed, a single set of functionaries directly responsible to their constituents. The American would be impatient of this congeries of vestries which the Englishman has tolerated so long. The sense of citizenship exists-does it exist in London outside of the narrow limits of the city proper? The city is a creation. The New Yorker has fashioned it to his own mind, instead of allowing it to spread abroad and grow hither and thither at the will of individual fractions of the community. If nature would not supply right angles he drew them for himself. If, however, local interests or corrupt influences hindered the prosperity of the city, or hampered its government, he turned without hesitation to the State. The Legislature at Albany offered him a better police, and he accepted it gladly. The City Hall ring stole too freely, and the citizens. formed a committee which presently expelled the ring and restored order to the city finances. We have in New York, as elsewhere, some of that taste for political precision which the French have, and the English have not. We have not lost that liking for phrases and formulas which Jefferson is supposed to have acquired from Rousseau. But when we find formulas and facts opposed to each other, we do not, like our French friends, say, So much the worse for the facts. It is the formulas which go to the wall. Three generations of Americans were educated in a reverence for the Constitution which might almost be called superstitious. To call in question the Wisdom of the Fathers was almost as much an offence as to hint a doubt of the scientific accuracy of the Mosaic cosmogony. None the less freely, when the Rebellion broke out, did we put aside parchment guarantees of the forms of freedom in order to make sure of the substance. Mr. Wendell Phillips said of President Lincoln that from April to July 1861 he hardly did a constitutional act. It was said
too broadly, but it was meant as a eulogy, not as a reproach. It is in the same spirit that the New Yorker goes, if necessary, outside his municipal charter when in search of efficient protection for municipal rights and interests. But these excursions have never impaired the solidarity of his civic existence, or the symmetry of his municipal organization. And when he speaks of New York as typically American, one of the things in his mind is this flexibility in adapting means to ends, this practical good sense in dealing with complicated problems. It may be part of our English heritage, like the common law and popular belief in parliaments; full, however, "of most excellent differ
More American still is the spirit which underlies what I have called the immense activities of New York—a spirit of which proofs are to be seen in every department of life, commercial, literary, social, and the rest. The note, as we are apt to think, of English life, is Lord John Russell's "Rest and be thankful." No American could have uttered that phrase. New York has long been a prosperous community; wealth has been heaped up there in greater masses, and these masses in the hands of single men, than anywhere else. To no New Yorker, to no American, would that seem a reason for folding his hands. The millionaire can no more escape the influence of the atmosphere which surrounds him than the youngster whose first dollar is yet to make. It may not be a high ambition to die richer than one's neighbor, but it is an ambition, and it is typical of many better ambitions. The stream bears on with equal velocity the most richly freighted of its burdens and the emptiest hull. And the velocity has no European parallel that I know of. The roar of traffic in the City of London fills the ear and the imagination, but there is something in the movement of the streets of New York which takes away the breath, I do not say of him who joins it, but of him who looks on. London is like her own Thames, that mighty flood which, with all its irresistible volume, flows seaward so quietly. The current of New York life sweeps onward with the rush of the rapids above Niagara. It may be said
that a man who launches out on that stream must go over the falls below, and so he does sometimes. The descent might be fatal elsewhere; there it is but a prelude to a fresh start. The American who sits down under discouragement or disaster is not an American. His buoyancy is born with him; in Wordsworth's phrase, he is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath." The most wonderful thing about New York is not its present splendor; it is the New Yorker's clear vision of a future incomparably more splendid.
What seemed to me the greatest single change in the New Yorker was the change in his estimate of his own position and his attitude toward foreign opinion; and this is a statement which need not be limited to New York. The desire of the American for foreign approval was for more than half a century the stock taunt of the very curious company of note-taking and book-writing tourists who went from England to the United States. The American who met the freshly landed Briton with the question, What do you think of our country?" is a frequent, not to say continual, figure in this sort of literature. He was accepted as a type, and he passed into literature of a much less flippant and fugitive kind.
"How much more amiable," wrote Coleridge in 1830, "is the American fidgetiness and anxiety about the opinion of other nations, and especially of the English, than the John Bullism which affects to despise the sentiments of the rest of the world!" Amiable or not, this American anxiety about the opinion of other nations has diminished, and is diminishing. The reason of the diminution is not far to seek. American solicitude about foreign opinion dates from a period when it was still possible to regard the American Republic as an experiment. The Civil War or as we Northerners still call it-the Rebellion, followed by the decisive triumph of the Union, marked, to our minds, the close of the experimental stage. The result is one on which much remains to be said, but I refer to it only as one explanation of the altered tone which is to be noticed to-day.
The change did not come in a moment. The growth of the new feeling
was gradual at first. It might long have passed unobserved; but nobody who now visits America can fail to be struck by it.
If it be still a disputed point whether a republican form of government based on universal suffrage has in it the elements of permanence, the sceptic may best be referred not to an American, but to an English authority, Sir Henry Maine, whose competence and impartiality are beyond question. Nothing can be more piquant, nothing can be more flattering to American vanity, if vanity we still have-nothing more consoling to what I prefer to think the just pride of Americans in American institutions, than Sir Henry Maine's book on Popular Government. I speak of it as a whole, and as a whole it is a protest against Democracy, and a panegyric on Democracy in America. A generation ago we should have welcomed his tribute with grateful enthusiasm. We received it last year with interest, certainly with admiration, but as for the certificate which Sir Henry Maine awarded us, we took it, I fear, very much as a matter of course. The too few, but delightful, pages which Mr. Froude incidentally allowed us in Oceana were read in much the same spirit. It is certainly more difficult to bear praise than blame, and I lay no great stress on the equanimity of temper with which, for example, the animadversions of Sir Lepel Griffin were endured. They first appeared in a London review. They were republished in a New York newspaper without a word of comment. When they came to be discussed, the tonenot a very respectful one to an able and distinguished man-was one of banter, and some of Sir Lepel's errors were such as to provoke a good-natured query whether he had really been in America, and, if so, into whose hands he had fallen, and whether he could really have believed all the things said to him, which he had reproduced with this diverting seriousness of manner. When Mr. Matthew Arnold attacked that doctrine of majorities on which our political system rests, and invited us to lay the foundation of a new faith in Plato's remnant of honest followers of wisdom, we listened with attention to what most of us considered a brilliant paradox.
The analogies he fain would have drawn from the Athenians and Hebrews seemed to us too remote; not by lapse of time, but by diversity of circumstances, and, of course, because the Athenian and Hebrew communities, arithmetically considered, were too insignificant to serve as precedents. But the criticism on Mr. Arnold was never resentful. The hard doctrine, as he himself called it, of the unsoundness of the majority, and the certainty that the unsoundness of the majority, if it is not withstood and remedied, must be our ruin-this hard doctrine we certainly thought too hard. But we abated none of the cheerfulness with which ten years before we had celebrated our centennial, and nobody else has yet advocated the substitution of the idea of the minorityor, as Mr. Arnold more delicately puts it, of the remnant-for the idea of the majority. An amendment to the Constitution in that sense has yet to be proposed. The very minority to whom Mr. Arnold looks for our ultimate salvation are content to see the destinies of their country in the hands of the greater rather than of the lesser number. We all thought his opinion a pious opinion, and we liked him none the worse for holding it, and for explaining to us with all his inimitable sweetness of manner that our success was, or was likely to become, a failure.
There is a well-known passage in Tocqueville which describes with cruel particularity such traits of what he called national vanity as attracted his notice in the United States. Writing only four years later than Coleridge, the Frenchman remarks :
The Americans in their relations with foreigners seem to be impatient of the least censure, and insatiable of praise. The most trivial eulogy they are ready to accept; the greatest seldom satisfies them; they tease you at every moment to extol them; if you don't yield to their wish they extol themselves. One is inclined to say that, from sheer distrust of their own merit, they wish to have some mirror of it constantly before their eyes.
Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains, after more than fifty years and in spite of some blemishes and errors, the most truthful, the most instructive, the most penetrating of all books on the United States, divined at once the secret of the restlessness to
which so many observers then bore witness. It was from distrust of themselves and their country that the Americans of 1830 tormented the traveller for his testimony to their greatness. There is a tradition, now grown dim, that in those days the too observant Briton in his travels beyond sea sometimes perceived in his American kin something which he called swagger. That too, if it existed, was only another form of selfdistrust. It may have been heard in young America, just as it may be heard to-day in the playing-fields of Eton, or, if I dare say so, in the quadrangles of Oxford and Cambridge. It was not peculiar to America, it is a characteristic of youthfulness, whether in national life or individual life.
The pendulum has now swung the other way. If there be one thing which I thought more impressive than another in New York, it was the note of confidence, of security, of independence of all external judgment which made itself continually heard. Lest I should miss it, I was told, or I may say warned of it on first landing. I had heard of this new diapason from Americans visiting Europe, so that the effort to adjust one's self to it was less difficult. But I had been told also, and by men whose testimony was decisive, that no one could know what America was like who had not seen it within a very few years; so that I well understood how much I had to learn. What I had to master first of all was this radical alteration in the attitude of the American mind toward the European world. It was not an attitude of hostility, still less of reproach, but of indifference or, as I said, of independence. of independence. What will England think, or Europe? is a question which. no American, it would seem, or few Americans, cared now to ask. We have grown into the state of mind which Coleridge calls John Bullism, a state in which, to quote a none too lenient critic, the blame of foreigners does not disturb him, and their praise scarcely flatters him. He holds himself in face of the whole world in a reserve full of disdain; full also," adds this severe observer, of ignorance;"' which seems harsh. We are not likely to admit that we have in this matter imitated you or borrowed from you. We speak of it,
when challenged, as a state of natural growth, as an inevitable incident of that immense development, that marvellous prosperity, which during the last ten years has become more marvellous than before. The American looks about him and sees what he himself has done, what his country has become, what a nation this confederacy of States has become; and he hears from every European, and reads in every European journal, that the United States must be reckoned among the Great Powers of the world. This last acknowledgment he accepts once for all, and he says to himself that henceforward what concerns him is American judgment upon things American, and that only. He has no need to appeal to a foreign tribunal.
Possibly I state this too strongly, when my only aim is to state it briefly. But I may mention an incident of my first day's visit which will serve as an illustration. Mr. Henry George had lately been nominated, or had nominated himself, for mayor of New York city. A dozen men, many of whom might be called representative men, were sitting round a table and discussing his chances. I said that nothing which could happen in New York would make a deeper impression, or a worse impression, on European opinion than the election of Mr. George. My remark fell entirely flat and elicited no response. At the end of the evening my host said to me: "You were the only person in the room who had ever thought or cared what view people in Europe might take of George's election.
I may instance also a criticism I heard made on an American Minister who had served abroad with distinction to himself, and credit to his Government. A certain measure of undeserved unpopularity was his reward at home, and when I asked the reason the answer was, that X.. had sought to cultivate the goodwill of the people among whom he lived rather than of his own. In vain I asked whether this was not one of the objects for which we sent envoys into foreign parts. The inexorable patriot with whom I was conversing replied sternly that the first duty of a public servant was to be acceptable to the public whom he served. I did not pursue the con
troversy, but I may say here that I do not think this a true account of the matter. The American public knows very well that the first condition of efficiency in a Foreign Minister is ability to get on with the officials and the people among whom his lot is cast. Nor is our diplomatic service arranged on a principle likely to expose a Minister for too long a period to the corrupting influences, if such there be, of life in European capitals. We have, however, not yet come to the point of electing our diplomatists by popular suffrage, nor are their relations to the community quite the same as those of an alderman to his constituents.
There are, in fact, many limitations upon the universality of this purely American standard which a portion of the American public seem disposed to set up. I should do them injustice if I likened it to that obsolete form of public spirit which expressed itself in the muscular exercise known as waving the Star-spangled Banner. We ourselves have laughed that out of fashion. It is, I think, in political circles above all others that the disposition exists to judge men and things with exclusive reference to what they call a national standard. The American who is not immersed in affairs sees very clearly that nothing in the long run could be less beneficial to his country than a line of thought or condition of mind which leads straight to provincialism. He has no wish to shut out foreign influences; he is confident that, in competition with domestic influences, they will speedily find their level. He has before him the example of France, which, more than any other European nation, except perhaps Spain, has taken local opinion as a sufficient guide in politics and everything else. He does not think the god Chauvin a desirable deity, nor is he disposed to set up any similar image, or to fall down and worship it should anybody else set it up. He is not ready to admit that any large number of Americans are disposed, like the Chinese, to look upon Europeans as foreign devils. or to build a Chinese wall along the Atlantic coast.
Nothing, indeed, could be more remote from the Chinese idea than the spirit of eager receptiveness which,