An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница

aggregated and chaotic. In nearly every European country there is a

social system often quite elaborately classed and defined; each class

with a sense of function, with an idea of what is due to it and what is

expected of it. Nearly everywhere you find a governing class,

aristocratic in spirit, sometimes no doubt highly modified by recent

economic and industrial changes, with more or less of the tradition of a

feudal nobility, then a definite great mercantile class, then a large

self-respecting middle class of professional men, minor merchants, and

so forth, then a new industrial class of employees in the manufacturing

and urban districts, and An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница a peasant population rooted to the land. There

are, of course, many local modifications of this form: in France the

nobility is mostly expropriated; in England, since the days of John

Bull, the peasant has lost his common rights and his holding, and become

an "agricultural labourer" to a newer class of more extensive farmer.

But these are differences in detail; the fact of the organisation, and

the still more important fact of the traditional feeling of

organisation, remain true of all these older communities.

And in nearly every European country, though it may be somewhat

despoiled here and shorn of exclusive predominance there, or An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница represented

by a dislocated "reformed" member, is the Church, custodian of a great

moral tradition, closely associated with the national universities and

the organisation of national thought. The typical European town has its

castle or great house, its cathedral or church, its middle-class and

lower-class quarters. Five miles off one can see that the American town

is on an entirely different plan. In his remarkable "American Scene,"

Mr. Henry James calls attention to the fact that the Church as one sees

it and feels it universally in Europe is altogether absent, and he adds

a comment as suggestive as it is vague. Speaking of the An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница appearance of

the Churches, so far as they do appear amidst American urban scenery, he


"Looking for the most part no more established or

seated than a stopped omnibus, they are reduced to the

inveterate bourgeois level (that of private, accommodated

pretensions merely), and fatally despoiled of the fine old

ecclesiastical arrogance, ... The field of American life is

as bare of the Church as a billiard-table of a centre-piece; a

truth that the myriad little structures 'attended' on Sundays

and on the 'off' evenings of their 'sociables' proclaim as

with the audible sound of the roaring of a million mice....

"And however one indicates one's impression of the

clearance An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница, the clearance itself, in its completeness, with the

innumerable odd connected circumstances that bring it

home, represents, in the history of manners and morals, a

deviation in the mere measurement of which hereafter may

well reside a certain critical thrill. I say hereafter because

it is a question of one of those many measurements that

would as yet, in the United States, be premature. Of all

the solemn conclusions one feels as 'barred,' the list is quite

headed in the States, I think, by this particular abeyance

of judgment. When an ancient treasure of precious vessels,

overscored with glowing gems and wrought artistically into

wondrous shapes An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница, has, by a prodigious process, been converted

through a vast community into the small change,

the simple circulating medium of dollars and 'nickels,' we

can only say that the consequent permeation will be of

values of a new order. Of _what_ order we must wait to


America has no Church. Neither has it a peasantry nor an aristocracy,

and until well on in the Victorian epoch it had no disproportionately

rich people.

In America, except in the regions where the negro abounds, there is no

lower stratum. There is no "soil people" to this community at all; your

bottom-most man is a mobile freeman who can read An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница, and who has ideas

above digging and pigs and poultry-keeping, except incidentally for his

own ends. No one owns to subordination As a consequence, any position

which involves the acknowledgment of an innate inferiority is difficult

to fill; there is, from the European point of view, an extraordinary

dearth of servants, and this endures in spite of a great peasant

immigration. The servile tradition will not root here now; it dies

forthwith. An enormous importation of European serfs and peasants goes

on, but as they touch this soil their backs begin to stiffen with a new


And at the other end of the scale An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница, also, one misses an element. There

is no territorial aristocracy, no aristocracy at all, no throne, no

legitimate and acknowledged representative of that upper social

structure of leisure, power and State responsibility which in the old

European theory of Society was supposed to give significance to the

whole. The American community, one cannot too clearly insist, does not

correspond to an entire European community at all, but only to the

middle masses of it, to the trading and manufacturing class between the

dimensions of the magnate and the clerk and skilled artisan. It is the

central part of the European organism without either the dreaming head

or the subjugated An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница feet. Even the highly feudal slave-holding "county

family" traditions of Virginia and the South pass now out of memory. So

that in a very real sense the past of the American nation is in Europe,

and the settled order of the past is left behind there. This community

was, as it were, taken off its roots, clipped of its branches, and

brought hither. It began neither serf nor lord, but burgher and farmer;

it followed the normal development of the middle class under Progress

everywhere and became capitalistic. The huge later immigration has

converged upon the great industrial centres and added merely a vast

non An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница-servile element of employees to the scheme.

America has been and still very largely is a one-class country. It is a

great sea of human beings detached from their traditions of origin. The

social difference from Europe appears everywhere, and nowhere more

strikingly than in the railway carriages. In England the compartments in

these are either "first class," originally designed for the aristocracy,

or "second class," for the middle class, or "third class," for the

populace. In America there is only one class, one universal simple

democratic car. In the Southern States, however, a proportion of these

simple democratic cars are inscribed with the word An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница "White," whereby nine

million people are excluded. But to this original even-handed treatment

there was speedily added a more sumptuous type of car, the parlour car,

accessible to extra dollars; and then came special types of train, all

made up of parlour cars and observation cars and the like. In England

nearly every train remains still first, second and third, or first and

third. And now, quite outdistancing the differentiation of England,

America produces private cars and private trains, such as Europe

reserves only for crowned heads.

The evidence of the American railways, then, suggests very strongly what

a hundred other signs confirm, that the huge An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница classless sea of American

population is not destined to remain classless, is already developing

separations and distinctions and structures of its own. And monstrous

architectural portents in Boston and Salt Lake City encourage one to

suppose that even that churchless aspect, which so stirred the

speculative element in Mr. Henry James, is only the opening formless

phase of a community destined to produce not only classes but

intellectual and moral forms of the most remarkable kind.

Sec. 3

It is well to note how these ninety millions of people whose social

future we are discussing are distributed. This huge development of human

appliances and resources is here An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница going on in a community that is still,

for all the dense crowds of New York, the teeming congestion of East

Side, extraordinarily scattered. America, one recalls, is still an

unoccupied country across which the latest developments of civilisation

are rushing. We are dealing here with a continuous area of land which

is, leaving Alaska out of account altogether, equal to Great Britain,

France, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, Belgium,

Japan, Holland, Spain and Portugal, Sweden and Norway, Turkey in Europe,

Egypt and the whole Empire of India, and the population spread out over

this vast space is still less than An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница the joint population of the first two

countries named and not a quarter that of India.

Moreover, it is not spread at all evenly. Much of it is in undistributed

clots. It is not upon the soil; barely half of it is in holdings and

homes and authentic communities. It is a population of an extremely

modern type. Urban concentration has already gone far with it; fifteen

millions of it are crowded into and about twenty great cities, another

eighteen millions make up five hundred towns. Between these centres of

population run railways indeed, telegraph wires, telephone connections,

tracks of various sorts, but to the European An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница eye these are mere

scratchings on a virgin surface. An empty wilderness manifests itself

through this thin network of human conveniences, appears in the meshes

even at the railroad side.

Essentially, America is still an unsettled land, with only a few

incidental good roads in favoured places, with no universal police, with

no wayside inns where a civilised man may rest, with still only the

crudest of rural postal deliveries, with long stretches of swamp and

forest and desert by the track side, still unassailed by industry. This

much one sees clearly enough eastward of Chicago. Westward it becomes

more and more the fact. In Idaho, at last, comes the untouched An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница and

perhaps invincible desert, plain and continuous through the long hours

of travel. Huge areas do not contain one human being to the square mile,

still vaster portions fall short of two....

It is upon Pennsylvania and New York State and the belt of great towns

that stretches out past Chicago to Milwaukee and Madison that the nation

centres and seems destined to centre. One needs but examine a tinted

population map to realise that. The other concentrations are provincial

and subordinate; they have the same relation to the main axis that

Glasgow or Cardiff have to London in the British scheme.

Sec An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница. 4

When I speak of this vast multitude, these ninety millions of the United

States of America as being for the most part peasants de-peasant-ised

and common people cut off from their own social traditions, I do not

intend to convey that the American community is as a whole

traditionless. There is in America a very distinctive tradition indeed,

which animates the entire nation, gives a unique idiom to its press and

all its public utterances, and is manifestly the starting point from

which the adjustments of the future must be made.

The mere sight of the stars and stripes serves to recall it; "Yankee" in

the An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница mouth of a European gives something of its quality. One thinks at

once of a careless abandonment of any pretension, of tireless energy

and daring enterprise, of immense self-reliance, of a disrespect for the

past so complete that a mummy is in itself a comical object, and the

blowing out of an ill-guarded sacred flame, a delightful jest. One

thinks of the enterprise of the sky-scraper and the humour of "A Yankee

at the Court of King Arthur," and of "Innocents Abroad." Its dominant

notes are democracy, freedom, and confidence. It is religious-spirited

without superstition consciously Christian in the vein of An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница a nearly

Unitarian Christianity, fervent but broadened, broadened as a halfpenny

is broadened by being run over by an express train, substantially the

same, that is to say, but with a marked loss of outline and detail. It

is a tradition of romantic concession to good and inoffensive women and

a high development of that personal morality which puts sexual

continence and alcoholic temperance before any public virtue. It is

equally a tradition of sporadic emotional public-spiritedness, entirely

of the quality of gallantry, of handsome and surprising gifts to the

people, disinterested occupation of office and the like. It is

emotionally patriotic, hypotheticating fighting and dying for one An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница's

country as a supreme good while inculcating also that working and living

for oneself is quite within the sphere of virtuous action. It adores the

flag but suspects the State. One sees more national flags and fewer

national servants in America than in any country in the world. Its

conception of manners is one of free plain-spoken men revering women and

shielding them from most of the realities of life, scornful of

aristocracies and monarchies, while asserting simply, directly, boldly

and frequently an equal claim to consideration with all other men. If

there is any traditional national costume, it is shirt-sleeves. And it

cherishes the rights of property above An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница any other right whatsoever.

Such are the details that come clustering into one's mind in response to

the phrase, the American tradition.

From the War of Independence onward until our own times that tradition,

that very definite ideal, has kept pretty steadily the same. It is the

image of a man and not the image of a State. Its living spirit has been

the spirit of freedom at any cost, unconditional and irresponsible. It

is the spirit of men who have thrown off a yoke, who are jealously

resolved to be unhampered masters of their "own," to whom nothing else

is of anything but An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница secondary importance. That was the spirit of the

English small gentry and mercantile class, the comfortable property

owners, the Parliamentarians, in Stuart times. Indeed even earlier, it

is very largely the spirit of More's "Utopia." It was that spirit sent

Oliver Cromwell himself packing for America, though a heedless and

ill-advised and unforeseeing King would not let him go. It was the

spirit that made taxation for public purposes the supreme wrong and

provoked each country, first the mother country and then in its turn the

daughter country, to armed rebellion. It has been the spirit of the

British Whig and the British Nonconformist almost up An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница to the present day.

In the Reform Club of London, framed and glazed over against Magna

Charta, is the American Declaration of Independence, kindred trophies

they are of the same essentially English spirit of stubborn

insubordination. But the American side of it has gone on unchecked by

the complementary aspect of the English character which British Toryism


The War of Independence raised that Whig suspicion of and hostility to

government and the freedom of private property and the repudiation of

any but voluntary emotional and supererogatory co-operation in the

national purpose to the level of a religion, and the American

Constitution with but one element of An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница elasticity in the Supreme Court

decisions, established these principles impregnably in the political

structure. It organised disorganisation. Personal freedom, defiance of

authority, and the stars and stripes have always gone together in men's

minds; and subsequent waves of immigration, the Irish fleeing famine,

for which they held the English responsible, and the Eastern European

Jews escaping relentless persecutions, brought a persuasion of immense

public wrongs, as a necessary concomitant of systematic government, to

refresh without changing this defiant thirst for freedom at any cost.

In my book, "The Future in America," I have tried to make an estimate of

the working quality of this An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница American tradition of unconditional freedom

for the adult male citizen. I have shown that from the point of view of

anyone who regards civilisation as an organisation of human

interdependence and believes that the stability of society can be

secured only by a conscious and disciplined co-ordination of effort, it

is a tradition extraordinarily and dangerously deficient in what I have

called a "_sense of the State_." And by a "sense of the State" I mean

not merely a vague and sentimental and showy public-spiritedness--of

that the States have enough and to spare--but a real sustaining

conception of the collective interest embodied in the State as An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница an object

of simple duty and as a determining factor in the life of each

individual. It involves a sense of function and a sense of "place," a

sense of a general responsibility and of a general well-being

overriding the individual's well-being, which are exactly the senses the

American tradition attacks and destroys.

For the better part of a century the American tradition, quite as much

by reason of what it disregards as of what it suggests, has meant a

great release of human energy, a vigorous if rough and untidy

exploitation of the vast resources that the European invention of

railways An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница and telegraphic communication put within reach of the American

people. It has stimulated men to a greater individual activity, perhaps,

than the world has ever seen before. Men have been wasted by

misdirection no doubt, but there has been less waste by inaction and

lassitude than was the case in any previous society. Great bulks of

things and great quantities of things have been produced, huge areas

brought under cultivation, vast cities reared in the wilderness.

But this tradition has failed to produce the beginnings or promise of

any new phase of civilised organisation, the growths have remained

largely invertebrate and chaotic, and, concurrently with its gift of

splendid and An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница monstrous growth, it has also developed portentous

political and economic evils. No doubt the increment of human energy has

been considerable, but it has been much less than appears at first

sight. Much of the human energy that America has displayed in the last

century is not a development of new energy but a diversion. It has been

accompanied by a fall in the birth-rate that even the immigration

torrent has not altogether replaced. Its insistence on the individual,

its disregard of the collective organisation, its treatment of women and

children as each man's private concern, has had its natural outcome.

Men's imaginations An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница have been turned entirely upon individual and

immediate successes and upon concrete triumphs; they have had no regard

or only an ineffectual sentimental regard for the race. Every man was

looking after himself, and there was no one to look after the future.

Had the promise of 1815 been fulfilled, there would now be in the United

States of America one hundred million descendants of the homogeneous and

free-spirited native population of that time. There is not, as a matter

of fact, more than thirty-five million. There is probably, as I have

pointed out, much less. Against the assets of cities, railways, mines

and industrial An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница wealth won, the American tradition has to set the price

of five-and-seventy million native citizens who have never found time to

get born, and whose place is now more or less filled by alien

substitutes. Biologically speaking, this is not a triumph for the

American tradition. It is, however, very clearly an outcome of the

intense individualism of that tradition. Under the sway of that it has

burnt its future in the furnace to keep up steam.

The next and necessary evil consequent upon this exaltation of the

individual and private property over the State, over the race that is

and over public property, has been An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница a contempt for public service. It has

identified public spirit with spasmodic acts of public beneficence. The

American political ideal became a Cincinnatus whom nobody sent for and

who therefore never left his plough. There has ensued a corrupt and

undignified political life, speaking claptrap, dark with violence,

illiterate and void of statesmanship or science, forbidding any healthy

social development through public organisation at home, and every year

that the increasing facilities of communication draw the alien nations

closer, deepening the risks of needless and disastrous wars abroad.

And in the third place it is to be remarked that the American tradition

has defeated its An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница dearest aims of a universal freedom and a practical

equality. The economic process of the last half-century, so far as

America is concerned has completely justified the generalisations of

Marx. There has been a steady concentration of wealth and of the reality

as distinguished from the forms of power in the hands of a small

energetic minority, and a steady approximation of the condition of the

mass of the citizens to that of the so-called proletariat of the

European communities. The tradition of individual freedom and equality

is, in fact, in process of destroying the realities of freedom and

equality out of which it rose. Instead of the An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница six hundred thousand

families of the year 1790, all at about the same level of property and,

excepting the peculiar condition of seven hundred thousand blacks, with

scarcely anyone in the position of a hireling, we have now as the most

striking, though by no means the most important, fact in American social

life a frothy confusion of millionaires' families, just as wasteful,

foolish and vicious as irresponsible human beings with unlimited

resources have always shown themselves to be. And, concurrently with the

appearance of these concentrations of great wealth, we have appearing

also poverty, poverty of a degree that was quite unknown in the United

States An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница for the first century of their career as an independent nation.

In the last few decades slums as frightful as any in Europe have

appeared with terrible rapidity, and there has been a development of the

viler side of industrialism, of sweating and base employment of the most

ominous kind.

In Mr. Robert Hunter's "Poverty" one reads of "not less than eighty

thousand children, most of whom are little girls, at present employed in

the textile mills of this country. In the South there are now six times

as many children at work as there were twenty years ago. Child labour is

increasing yearly in that An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница section of the country. Each year more little

ones are brought in from the fields and hills to live in the degrading

and demoralising atmosphere of the mill towns...."

Children are deliberately imported by the Italians. I gathered from

Commissioner Watchorn at Ellis Island that the proportion of little

nephews and nieces, friends' sons and so forth brought in by them is

peculiarly high, and I heard him try and condemn a doubtful case. It was

a particularly unattractive Italian in charge of a dull-eyed little boy

of no ascertainable relationship....

In the worst days of cotton-milling in England the conditions were

hardly worse than An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница those now existing in the South. Children, the tiniest

and frailest, of five and six years of age, rise in the morning and,

like old men and women, go to the mills to do their day's labour; and,

when they return home, "wearily fling themselves on their beds, too

tired to take off their clothes." Many children work all night--"in the

maddening racket of the machinery, in an atmosphere insanitary and

clouded with humidity and lint."

"It will be long," adds Mr. Hunter in his description, "before I forget

the face of a little boy of six years, with his hands stretched An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница forward

to rearrange a bit of machinery, his pallid face and spare form already

showing the physical effects of labour. This child, six years of age,

was working twelve hours a day."

From Mr. Spargo's "Bitter Cry of the Children" I learn this much of the

joys of certain among the youth of Pennsylvania:

"For ten or eleven hours a day children of ten and eleven stoop over the

chute and pick out the slate and other impurities from the coal as it

moves past them. The air is black with coal dust, and the roar of the

crushers, screens and An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница rushing mill-race of coal is deafening. Sometimes

one of the children falls into the machinery and is terribly mangled, or

slips into the chute and is smothered to death. Many children are killed

in this way. Many others, after a time, contract coal-miners asthma and

consumption, which gradually undermine their health. Breathing

continually day after day the clouds of coal dust, their lungs become

black and choked with small particles of anthracite...."

In Massachusetts, at Fall River, the Hon. J.F. Carey tells how little

naked boys, free Americans, work for Mr. Borden, the New York

millionaire, packing cloth into bleaching vats, in a bath An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница of chemicals

that bleaches their little bodies like the bodies of lepers....

Altogether it would seem that at least one million and a half children

are growing up in the United States of America stunted and practically

uneducated because of unregulated industrialism. These children,

ill-fed, ill-trained mentally benighted, since they are alive and

active, since they are an active and positive and not a negative evil,

are even more ominous in the American outlook than those five and sixty

million of good race and sound upbringing who will now never be born.

Sec. 5

It must be repeated that the American tradition is really the An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница tradition

of one particular ingredient in this great admixture and stirring up of

peoples. This ingredient is the Colonial British, whose seventeenth

century Puritanism and eighteenth century mercantile radicalism and

rationalism manifestly furnished all the stuff out of which the American

tradition is made. It is this stuff planted in virgin soil and inflated

to an immense and buoyant optimism by colossal and unanticipated

material prosperity and success. From that British middle-class

tradition comes the individualist protestant spirit, the keen

self-reliance and personal responsibility, the irresponsible

expenditure, the indiscipline and mystical faith in things being managed

properly if they are only let alone. "State-blindness" is the An Englishman Looks at the World 19 страница natural

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