MEN AND HUSBANDS

Comic papers on both sides of the Atlantic have adopted the marriages
between American women and English men of the upper classes as a
standing joke; one of those jokes of which the public never gets tired,
whose infinite variety repetition does not stale. The fun lies in the
idea of barter. The Englishman has a title. The American woman has
dollars. He lays a coronet at her feet. She hands money bags to him.
Essentially the joke is the same on whichever side of the Atlantic it is
made. But there is a slight difference in the way the parts of it are
emphasized. The tendency among American humorists is to dwell a little
on the greed of the Englishman, who is represented as incapable of
earning money for himself. The English jester lays more stress on the
American woman’s desire to be called “my lady,” and pokes sly fun at the
true democrat’s fondness for titles. I appreciate the joke thoroughly
wherever it is made, and I invariably laugh heartily at it. But I
decline to take it as anything more than a joke. It is not a precise and
scientific explanation of fact.

There are a great many marriages between American women of large or
moderate fortune and English men, or other Europeans, of title. That is
the fact. No doubt the dollars are as attractive to noblemen as they are
to anybody else. There are a number of pleasant things, steam yachts,
for instance, which can be got by those who have dollars, but not by
those who are without them. They may occasionally be the determining
factor in the choice of a wife. But I feel sure that most Englishmen,
when they marry American women, do so because they like them. They marry
the woman, not the money. In the same way a title is a very pleasant
thing to have. I have never enjoyed the sensation and never shall, but I
know that it must be most agreeable to be styled “Your Grace,” or to
have a coronet embroidered on a pocket handkerchief. But I do not
believe that American women marry coronets. They marry men. The coronet
counts, I daresay, but the man counts more.

It is interesting to notice that, although there are many marriages
between American women and Englishmen, there are comparatively few
marriages between English women and American men. If it were a mere
question of exchanging money for titles we might expect English women of
title to marry American men. There are a great many English women with
titles and a great many rich American men. They might marry each other,
but they do not, not, at all events, in large numbers. It is true that
the woman cannot, unless she is a princess, give her husband a title, as
a man can give a title to his wife. But it is no small thing to have a
wife with a title. It is a pleasure well worth buying, if it is to be
bought. But apparently it is not. The English woman of title prefers to
marry an English man, however rich Americans may be. The American man
prefers American women, though none of them have titles. Exact
statistics about these marriages are not available, but we may take the
vitality of current jokes as an indication of what the facts are. The
joke about the marriage between Miss Sadie K. Bock, daughter of the
well-known dollar dictator of Capernaum, Pa., U.S.A., and the Viscount
Fitzeffingham Plantagenet, is fresh and always popular. But no one ever
made a joke about a marriage between the dollar dictator’s son and Lady
Ermyntrude. There would be no point in that joke if it were made because
the thing does not happen, or does not happen often enough to strike the
popular imagination.

The truth appears to be that American women, apart from any question of
their dowries, are attractive both to English and American men. English
men, on the other hand, are attractive both to English and American
women.

I occupy in this investigation the position of an unprejudiced outsider.
I am neither English nor American, but Irish, and I can afford to
discuss the matter without passion, since Irish women are admittedly
more attractive than any others in the world and Irish men are seldom
tempted to marry outside their own people. A very wise English lady, one
who has much experience of life, once said that young Englishmen of good
position are lured into marrying music hall dancers, a thing which
occasionally happens to them, because they find these ladies more
entertaining and exciting than girls of their own class. I do not know
whether this is true or not, but if it is it helps to explain the
attractiveness of American women. There is always a certain
unexpectedness about them. They are always stimulating and agreeable. It
is much more difficult to account for the attractiveness of the English
man.

The manners of a well-bred English man are not superior to those of a
well-bred American man. Nor are they inferior. Looked at superficially,
they are the same. As far as mere conventional behavior toward women is
concerned, there is no difference between an Englishman and an American.
A well-mannered Englishman rises up and opens the door for a woman when
she leaves the room. So does a well-mannered American. The Englishman
hands tea, bread and butter or cake to a woman before he takes tea,
bread and butter or cake for himself. So does the American. The outward
acts are identical. But there is a subtle difference in the spirit which
inspires them. The English man does these things because he is
chivalrous. His manners are based on the theory “Noblesse oblige.” The
woman belongs to the weaker sex, he to the stronger. All courtesy is
therefore due to her. This is the theory which underlies the behavior of
Englishmen to women. Good manners are a survival, one of the few
survivals, of the old idea of chivalry; and chivalry was the nobly
conceived homage of the strong to the weak, of the superior to the
inferior. The American, performing exactly the same outward acts, is
reverent. And reverence is essentially the opposite of chivalry. It is
not the homage of the strong to the weak, but the obeisance of the
inferior in the presence of a superior.

This difference of spirit underlies the whole relationship of men to
women in England and America. It helps to explain the fact that the
feminist movement in England is much fiercer than it is in America. The
English feminist is up against chivalry and wants equality. The American
woman, though she may claim rights, has no inducement to destroy
reverence.

I should be very sorry to think, I should be mad to say, that this
difference in spirit has anything to do with the attractiveness of
Englishmen, considered not as temporary companions, but as husbands. But
there are, or once were, people who held the theory that the natural
woman—and all women are perhaps more or less natural—prefers as a
husband the kind of man who asserts himself as her superior. “O. Henry”
has a story of a woman who learned to respect and love her husband only
after she had goaded him into beating her. Up to that point she had
despised him thoroughly. Other novelists, deep students of human nature
all of them, have worked on the same scheme. They are quite wrong, of
course. But if they were right they might quote the Englishman’s
invincible chivalry as the reason of his attractiveness; maintaining,
cynically, that a woman prefers, in a husband, that kind of homage to
the reverence that the American man continually offers her.

The American man strikes me as more alert than the Englishman. If this
were noticeable only in New York, I should attribute the alertness to
the climate. The air of New York is extraordinarily stimulating. The
stranger feels himself tireless, as if he could go on doing things of an
exhausting kind all day long without intervals for rest. It would be
small wonder if the natives of the place were eager beyond other men.
But they are not more eager and alert than other Americans. Therefore we
cannot blame, or thank, the climate for these qualities. They must
depend upon some peculiarity of the American nervous system, unless
indeed they are the result of living under the American constitution. A
man would naturally feel it his duty to be as alert as he could if he
felt that his country was preeminently the land of progress and that all
the other countries in the world were more or less old-fashioned and
effete. But wherever the alertness comes from it is certainly one of the
characteristics of the American man.

With it goes sanguineness. Every man who undertakes any enterprise looks
at it from two points of view. He thinks how very nice life will be if
the enterprise succeeds. He also considers how disagreeable things will
become if, for any reason, it fails to come off. The Englishman, unless
he is a politician, is temperamentally inclined to give full weight to
the possibility of failure. The American dwells rather on the prospects
of success. There are, of course, a great many sanguine Englishmen. Most
Members of Parliament, for instance, must be extraordinarily hopeful,
otherwise they would not go on expecting to get things done by voting
and listening to speeches. Some Americans, though not many, are cautious
to the point of being almost pessimistic. But, broadly speaking,
Americans are more sanguine than Englishmen. That is why so many new
faiths, and new foods, come from America. Only a very hopeful people
could have invented Christian Science or expect to be benefited by
eating patent foods at breakfast time. That is also, I imagine, why
Americans drink so much iced water. Conscious of the dangers of being
too sanguine, they try to cool down their spirits in the way which is
generally recognized as best for reducing excessive hopefulness. To pour
cold water on anything is a proverbial expression. The Americans pour
gallons of very cold water down their throats, which shows that they are
on the watch against the defects of their high qualities.

With the alertness and hopefulness there goes, inevitably, a certain
restlessness. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” is a
proverb which appeals to the English man. It could never be popular in
America. The American, if he made up his mind to go in for the
acquaintance of devils at all, would be inclined to try the newer kinds,
not merely because he would be hopeful about them, but because he would
feel sure that the old ones would bore him. He would never settle down
to a monotonous cat and dog life with a thoroughly familiar devil. The
Englishman prefers to remain where he is unless the odds are in favor of
a change being a change for the better. The American will make a change
unless he thinks it likely to be a change for the worse.

We were greatly struck while we were in America by the fact that there
were very few gardens there. The season of the year, late autumn, was
not, indeed, favorable to gardens. Still I think we should have
recognized flower beds and the remains of flowers if we had seen them.
At first we were inclined to think that Americans do not care for
flowers; but we were constantly assured, on unimpeachable authority,
that they do. And we were not dependent on mere assertion. We saw that
Americans adorn their rooms with cut flowers, sometimes at huge expense.
They must therefore like flowers. They also, we were told, like growing
them; but as a matter of fact they do not grow them to anything like the
same extent that flowers are grown in England or Ireland. We used to ask
why people who like flowers and would like to grow them have so few
gardens. We got several answers. The climate, of course, was one. But it
is not fair to make the climate responsible for too many things. Besides
the climate, as I have said before, is not the same all over America. It
is difficult to believe that it is everywhere fatal to gardening.

Another answer—a much more satisfactory one—was that it takes time to
create a garden, and Americans do not usually stay long enough in one
house to make it worth while to start gardening. It is plainly an
unsatisfactory thing to inaugurate a herbaceous border in 1914 if you
are likely to leave it early in 1915. As for yew hedges and delights of
that kind, no one plants them unless he has a good hope that his son
will be there to enjoy them after he has gone. The American, so we were
told, and so of course believed, is always looking forward to moving
into a new house. This is because he is alert, sanguine and a lover of
change. The Englishman is inclined to settle down in one house, and it
is very difficult to root him out of it. Therefore gardens are commonly
possible in England and rarely so in America.

We did indeed see some gardens in America, and they were tended with all
the care which flower lovers display everywhere. We saw in them plants
brought from very different places, round which there doubtless gathered
all sorts of associations, whose blossoms were redolent with the perfume
of happy memories as well as their own natural scents. But these gardens
belonged to men who either through the necessity of their particular
occupation or through some eccentricity of character felt that they were
likely to remain in one place.

Gardens are generally best loved and most carefully tended by women. I
have known men who took a real interest in plants, but for the most part
men who spend their leisure hours in gardens occupy themselves in mowing
the grass or scuffling the walks. They will trim the edges of flowerbeds
with shears, they will sometimes even dig, but their hearts are not with
the growing plants. Often they confess as much openly, saying without
shame that mowing is capital exercise after office hours, or that the
celery bed must be properly trenched if it is to come to perfection. No
one who works in this spirit is a gardener, nor is a man who merely
desires a tidy trimness. To the real gardener neatness is an unimportant
detail. It is better that a flower should grow in a bed with ragged
edges than that it should wither slowly in the middle of the trimmest of
lawns. It is women, far oftener than men, who possess or are possessed
by the instinct for getting things to grow. It is after all a sort of
mother instinct, since flowers, like children, only respond to those who
love them. Probably every woman who has the mother instinct has the
garden instinct too, and most women, we may be thankful for it, are
potentially good mothers.

Perhaps it is the fact that he is content to stay still long enough to
render gardens possible which makes the Englishman attractive as a
husband. It is easy to understand that there is something very
fascinating to a garden lover in the prospect of attachment to one
particular spot. It is a great thing to feel: “Here I shall live until
the end of living comes, and then my sons will live here after me. All
the rockeries I build, all the trees I plant, all my pergolas and rose
hedges are for delight in coming years, for delight still in the years
beyond my span of living.” This instinct for a settled home, of which a
garden is the symbol, is surely stronger in woman than in any man. Woman
is after all the stable part of humanity. Man fights, invents, frets,
fusses and passes. Woman is the link between the generations. Man makes
life possible and great. It is woman who continues life, hands it on.
Her nature requires stability. She feels after settledness in the hope
of finding it.

If I were a philosopher I should pursue these speculations and write
several pages about men and women which it would be very difficult for
any one to understand. But I have no taste for hunting elusive thoughts
among the shadows of vague words. I am content to note my little facts;
that American men are more restless than Englishmen, that there are
fewer gardens in America than in England, that most women like gardens,
and that there are more marriages between American women and Englishmen
than between English women and American men.

I came across a curious example of American restlessness a little while
ago. There was a footman, very expert in his business, who lived and
earned good wages in an English house. He was an ambitious footman, and,
though his wages were good, he wanted them to be better still. His
opportunity came to him. An American wanted a valet and was prepared to
pay very large wages indeed. The footman offered his services, and
being, as I said, a very good footman, he secured the vacant position,
and the wages which were far beyond any he would ever have earned in
England. At the end of two years he happened to meet the butler under
whom he had served in the English house. The butler congratulated him on
his great wealth. The footman, now a valet, replied that there are
several things in the world better worth having than money.

“I haven’t,” he said, “slept a fortnight at a time in the same bed since
I left you, and it’s killing me.”

Now that would not have killed or gone near killing an American born
footman, if there is such a thing as an American born footman. He would
have enjoyed it, just as his master did; for that American, being very
wealthy, could if he liked have slept in the same bed every night for a
year, every night for many years, until indeed the bed wore out. He
preferred to vary his beds as much as possible. He had, no doubt, many
beds which were in a sense his own, beds in town houses, beds in
shooting boxes, beds in fishing lodges, beds in Europe, beds which he
had bought with money and to which he had an indefeasible title as
proprietor. But not one of these was, as an Englishman would understand
the words, his own bed. There was not one to which he came back after
wandering as to a familiar resting place. They were all just couches to
sleep on, to be occupied for a night or two, indistinguishable from
those which he hired in hotels.

I am told that the English are learning the habit of restlessness from
the Americans, as indeed they have learned many other things. If they
learn it thoroughly they will, I think, have to give up the hope of
being able to marry wealthy American women. Their titles will not
purchase desirable brides for them if they are no longer able to offer
settled homes. According to a very learned German historian, it was the
introduction of the “_stabilitas loci_” ideal into the western rules
which made monasticism the popular career it was in the church. It is
his old fondness for settling down and staying there which made the
Englishman so popular as a husband.

Americans are forced by the restlessness of their nature to move about
frequently from house to house, but they have arranged that each
temporary abode is very comfortable. They are ahead of the English in
their domestic arrangements. I pay this tribute to them very
unwillingly, because I myself am more at my ease in an inconveniently
arranged house. That is because I am accustomed to inconvenience. The
English houses are greatly superior to the Irish, therefore to go
straight from an Irish house to an American, from Connaught to Chicago,
is to plunge oneself too suddenly into strangely civilized surroundings.
I admire, but I fear it would be years before I could enjoy, an American
house. I go to bed most contentedly in a bedroom in which a single
candle lights a little circle round it, leaving dim, fascinating spaces
in which anything may lurk. I like when the candle is extinguished to
see a faint glow of light from a fire reflected on the ceiling. I find
it pleasant to remember, after I have got into bed, that I do not know
in what part of the room I left the matches, that if I awake in the
night and want the light I must go on a dangerous and exciting quest,
feeling my way toward the dressing table, sweeping one thing after
another off it while I pass my hand along in search of the matchbox. The
glare of the electric light robs bed-going of its romance. The
convenient switch beside my hand cuts me off from all chance of midnight
adventure.

I like to get out of bed on a frosty morning and find myself in a
thoroughly cold room. The effort to do this very trying thing braces me
for the day. I slip a hand, an arm, a foot, from the blankets, feel the
nip of the air, draw them back again, go through a period of intense
mental struggle, make a gallant effort, fling all the bedclothes from me
and stand shivering on the floor. I feel then that I am a strong,
virtuous man, fit to go forth and conquer. The glow of righteousness
becomes even more delightful if I find a film of ice on the water of my
jug and break it with the handle of a toothbrush. All this is denied me
in an American house. Getting out of bed there is no real test of moral
courage. The room is pleasantly warm, a sponge is soft and pliable, not
a frozen stone.

I like, where this is still possible, to have my bath in a large tin
dish, shallow and flat, which stands in the middle of the bedroom floor
with a mat under it. There are fine old Irish houses in which this
delightful way of bathing still survives. Alas! they are, even in
Ireland, getting fewer every day. The next best thing is to wander down
chilly corridors in search of the single bathroom which the house
contains. This is, fortunately, still necessary in most English and
nearly all Irish houses. Any one who is fond of the amusement of reading
house agents’ advertisements must have noticed the English economy in
bathrooms. “Handsome mansion, four reception rooms, lounge hall,
billiard room, fifteen bedrooms, bath, hot and cold.” I do not believe
that there is a house like that in all America. Imagine the excitement
of living in it when all the fifteen bedrooms are full. It stimulates a
man to feel, as he sallies forth with his towel over his arm, that any
one of the other fourteen inhabitants may have reached the bath before
him, that thirteen people may possibly be waiting in a queue outside the
door. To get into the bathroom in a house of that kind at the first
attempt must be like holding a hand at bridge with four aces, four
kings, four queens and a knave in it, a thing worth living and waiting
for. In America all this is denied us. A bathroom, luxuriously arranged,
adjoins each bedroom. Washing is made so ridiculously easy that there
ceases to be any virtue in it. No one would say in America that
cleanliness is next to godliness. There is no connection between the two
things. It would be as sensible to say that breathing is a subordinate
kind of virtue. In England a dressing gown is well-nigh a necessity. I
know a thoughtful host who provides one for his guests; a warm
voluminous garment in which it is possible to go comfortably to the
bathroom. In America a dressing gown, for a man, is a useless
incumbrance. I dragged one with me, but I shall never take it again;
for, like many other things, it is misnamed. It is only when one has to
stop dressing that a dressing gown is any use.

In these matters of the heating of houses and the arrangement of baths I
prefer what I am accustomed to, but I know that I am little better than
a barbarian. I might, if I had lived in the days when matches were first
invented, have sighed for my flint and steel, but I hope I should have
recognized the superiority of matches. I might, in the early days of
railways, have wished to go on traveling in stage coaches, but I should
have known that steam engines are really better things than horses at
dragging heavy weights for long distances. Thus I cling to the romance
of icy bedrooms and inconvenient baths, but I acknowledge freely that
the Americans have found the better way and made a step forward along
the road of human progress.

I am not, however, so obstinately conservative as to fail in
appreciating some other points in the American mastery of the domestic
arts. I may long for chilly rooms and remote baths, but I thoroughly
enjoy clean towels. Never have I met so many clean towels as in America.
The English middle-class housekeeper is behind her French sister in the
provision of towels, but the American is ahead even of France. The
American towel is indeed small, the bath towel particularly small; but
that seems to me a trifling matter, hardly worth mentioning, when the
supply is abundant. I would rather any day have three small apples than
one large one, and my feeling about towels is the same. It is a real
pleasure to find a row of clean ones waiting every time it becomes
necessary to wash. It is certainly a mark of superior civilization to
realize the importance of house linen in daily life. On the other hand,
it must be admitted that the American fails in the matter of sheets.
What you get are good, very good, smooth and cool. You are constantly
given clean ones. But they are not long enough. In England the sheet on
your bed covers your feet completely and leaves a broad flap at the
other end which you can turn over the blankets and tuck under your chin.
In America you must either leave your feet sheetless or be content with
a mere ribbon of linen under your chin, a narrow strip which will
certainly wriggle away during the night. This may not be the fault of
the American housekeeper. There may be some kind of linen drapers’ trust
which baffles the efforts of reformers. I have heard that in one of the
western states, where the suffrage has been granted to women, a law has
been passed that all sheets must be made eighteen inches longer than
they usually are in the other American states. That law is a strong
proof of the advantages to the community of allowing women to vote. It
also seems to show that the American woman, at all events, is alive to
the necessity of reform in this matter of sheets, and is determined to
do her best to remedy a defect in her household management.

The disuse of doors in those parts of the house which are inhabited
during the daytime is a very interesting feature of American domestic
life. The first action of an Englishman when he enters a room is to shut
the door. His first duty when leaving it, if any one remains inside, is
to shut the door. No well-trained servant ever leaves a door open unless
specially requested to do so. Children, from their very earliest years,
are taught to shut doors, and punished—it is one of the few things for
which a child is systematically punished now—for leaving doors open. An
English mother calls after her child as he leaves the room the single
word “door,” or, if she is a very polite and affectionate mother, two
words, “door, dear,” or “door, please.” An American child would not
understand a request made in this elliptical form. It knows of course
what a door is, just as it knows what a wall is, but it would be puzzled
by the mere utterance of the word, just as an English child would be if
its mother suddenly called to it, “wall,” or “wall, dear,” or “wall,
please.” The American child would wonder what its mother wanted to say
about a door. The English child understands thoroughly in the same way
as we all understand what a dentist means when he says, “Open, please.”
It is never our favorite books, our tightly clenched hands, or our
screwed up eyes which he wants us to open, always our mouths. The word
“open” is enough for us. So the word “door” through a long association
of ideas at once suggests to the English child the idea of shutting it.

An Englishman is thoroughly uncomfortable in a room with the door open.
An American’s feeling about shut doors was very well expressed to me by
a lady who had been paying a number of visits to friends in England.

“English houses,” she said, “always seem to me like hotels. When you go
into them you see nothing except shut doors.”

If, after due apologies, you ask why Americans have no doors between
their sitting-rooms, or why, when they have doors, they do not use them,
you always get the same answer.

“Doors,” they say, “are necessary in England to keep out draughts,
because the English do not know how to heat their houses. In our houses
all rooms and passages are kept up to an even temperature and we do not
require doors.”

This is an intelligible but not the real explanation of this curious
difference between the Americans and the English. There are some English
homes which are centrally heated and in which the temperature is as
even, though rarely as high, as in American houses; but the Englishmen
who live in them still shut doors. An Englishman would shut the door of
the inner chamber of a Turkish bath if there were a door to shut. In
summer, when the days are very warm, he opens all the windows he can,
but he does not sit with the door open. Temperature has nothing to do
with his fondness for doors. In the same way there are in America some
houses which are not centrally heated, very old-fashioned houses, but
they are as doorless as the others. The fact seems to be not that doors
were disused when central heating became common, but that central
heating was invented so that people who disliked doors could be warm
without them.

I think the lady who told me that the English houses seemed like hotels
to her hinted at the real explanation. The open door is a symbol of
hospitality. It is the expression of sociability of disposition. The
Americans are hospitable and marvelously sociable. They naturally like
to live among open doors or with no doors at all, so that any one can
walk up to him and speak to him without difficulty. The Englishman, on
the other hand, wants to keep other people away from him, even members
of his own family. His dearest desire is to have some room of his own
into which he can shut himself, where no one has a right to intrude. He
calls it his “den,” which means the lurking place of a morose and
solitary animal. Rabbits, which are sociable creatures, live in burrows.
Bees, which have perfected the art of life in community, have hives. The
bear has its den. Every room in an old-fashioned English middle-class
house is really a den, though sometimes, as in the case of the
drawing-room, a den which is meant for the use of several beasts of the
same kind at once. A change is indeed coming slowly over English life in
this matter. The introduction into the middle classes of what is called
by house agents “the lounge hall” is a departure from the “den” theory
of domestic life. The “lounge hall” is properly speaking a public room.
It is available at all hours of the day and no one claims it specially
as his own. It is accessible at once to the stranger who comes into the
house from the street. It is still rare in England, but where it exists
it marks an approach toward American ideals. The term “living-room” only
lately introduced by architects into descriptions of English houses is
another sign that we are becoming more sociable than we were. It is not
simply another name for a drawing-room. It stands for a new idea, an
American idea. The drawing-room—properly the withdrawing-room—is for
the use of people who want to escape temporarily from family life. The
living-room for those who live it to the full.

In the American house there are no “dens.” The American likes to feel
that he is in direct personal contact with the members of his family and
with his guest. It does not annoy him, even if he happen to be reading a
book on economics, to feel that his wife may sit down beside him or his
daughter walk past the back of his chair humming a tune without his
having had any warning that either of them was at hand. The noise made
by a servant collecting knives and plates after dinner, reaching him
through a drawn curtain, does not disturb his enjoyment of a cigar. The
servant is to him a fellow human being, and the sound of her activities
is a pleasant reminder of the comradeship of man. He too has had his
moments of activity during the day. A guest in an American house is for
the time being a member of the family, not a stranger who, however
welcome he may be, does not presume to intrude upon his host’s privacy.

The “porch,” as it is called, a striking feature of the American house,
is another evidence of the spirit of sociability. A “porch” is a
glorified and perfected veranda. In summer it is a large open-air
sitting-room. In winter it can, by a common arrangement, be made into a
kind of sun parlor. It has its roof, supported by wooden posts. When the
cold weather comes, frames, like very large window sashes, are fitted
between the posts and a glass-sided room is made. It is evident that the
life in these porches is of a very public kind. The passer-by, the
casual wanderer along the road outside, sees the American family in its
porch, can, if he cares to, note what each member of the family is
doing. The American has no objection to this publicity. He is not doing
anything of which he is the least ashamed. If other people can see him,
he can see them in return. The arrangement gratifies his instinct for
sociability. The Englishman, on the other hand, hates to be seen.
Nothing would induce him to make a habit of sitting in a veranda. Even
in the depths of the country, when his house is a long way from the
road, he fits thin muslin curtains across the lower part of his windows.
These keep out a good deal of light and in that way are annoying to him,
but he puts up with gloom rather than run any risk, however small, that
a stranger, glancing through the window, might actually see him. Yet the
Englishman commonly leads a blameless life in his own home. He seldom
employs his leisure in any shameful practices. His casement curtains are
simply evidences of an almost morbid love of privacy.

The first thing an Englishman does when he builds a house is to surround
it with a high wall. This, indeed, is not an English peculiarity. It
prevails all over western Europe. It is a most anti-social custom and
ought to be suppressed by law, because it robs many people of a great
deal of innocent pleasure. The suburbs of Dublin, to take an example,
ought to be very beautiful. There are mountains to the south and hills
to the west and north of the city, all of them lovely in outline and
coloring. There is a wide and beautiful bay on the east. But the casual
wayfarer cannot see either the mountains or the bay. He must walk
between high yellow walls, walls built, I suppose, round houses; but we
can only know this by hearsay. For the walls hide the houses as well as
the view. In Sorrento, which is even more exquisitely situated than
Dublin, you walk for miles and miles between high walls, white in this
case. The only difference between the view you see at Dublin and that
which you see at Sorrento is that the patch of sky you see in Dublin is
gray, at Sorrento generally blue. At Cintra, one of the world’s most
famous beauty spots, the walls are gray, and there you cannot even see
the sky, because the owners of the houses inside the walls have planted
trees and the branches of the trees meet over the road. The Americans do
not build walls round their houses. The humblest pedestrian, going afoot
through the suburbs of Philadelphia, Indianapolis or any other city,
sees not only the houses but anything in the way of a view which lies
beyond them.

This is not because America is a republic and therefore democratic in
spirit. Portugal is a republic too, having very vigorously got rid of
its king, but the walls of Cintra are as high as ever. No one in the
world is more democratic than an English Liberal, but the most
uncompromising Liberals build walls round their houses as high as those
of any Tory. The absence of walls in America is simply another evidence
of the wonderful sociability of the people. Walls outside houses are
like doors inside. The European likes both because the desire of privacy
is in his blood. The American likes neither.

The “Country Club” is an institution which could flourish only among a
very sociable people. There are of course clubs of many sorts in
England. There is the club proper, the club without qualification, which
is found at its very best in London. In books like Whitaker’s Almanac,
which classify clubs, it is described as “social,” but this is only
intended to distinguish it from political or sporting clubs. There is no
suggestion that it is sociable, and in fact it is not. It is possible to
belong to a club in London for years without knowing a dozen of your
fellow members. It often seems as if the members of these clubs went to
them mainly for the purpose of not getting to know each other; a
misfortune which might happen to them anywhere else, but from which they
are secure in their clubs. There are also all over England clubs
specially devoted to particular objects, golf clubs, yacht clubs and so
forth. In these the members are drawn together by their interest in a
common pursuit, and are forced into some sort of acquaintanceship. But
these are very different in spirit and intention from the American
Country Club. It exists as a kind of center of the social life of the
neighborhood. There may be and often are golf links connected with it.
There are tennis courts, sometimes swimming baths. There is always a
ball-room. There are luncheon rooms, tea rooms, reading rooms. In
connection with one such club which I saw there are sailing matches for
a one design class of boats. But neither golf nor tennis, dancing nor
sailing, is the object of the club’s existence. Sport is encouraged by
these clubs for the sake of general sociability. In England sociability
is a by-product of an interest in sport.

The Country Club at Tuxedo is not perhaps the oldest, but it is one of
the oldest institutions of the kind in America. In connection with it a
man can enjoy almost any kind of recreation from a Turkish bath to a
game of tennis, either the lawn or the far rarer original kind. At the
proper time of year there are dances, and a débutante acquires, I
believe, a certain prestige by “coming out” at one of them. But the club
exists primarily as the social center of Tuxedo. It is in one way the
ideal, the perfect country club. It not only fosters, it regulates and
governs the social life of the place.

Tuxedo has been spoken of as a millionaire’s colony. It is a settlement,
if not of millionaires, at all events of wealthy people. The park, an
immense tract of land, is owned by the club. Ground for building can be
obtained only by those who are elected members of the club and who are
prepared to spend a certain sum as a minimum on the building of their
houses. In theory the place is reserved for people who either do or will
know each other socially, who are approximately on the same level as
regards wealth and who all want to meet each other frequently, for one
purpose or another, in the club. In practice, certain difficulties
necessarily arise. A man may be elected a member of the club and build a
house. He may be a thoroughly desirable person, but in course of time he
dies. His son may be very undesirable, or his son may sell the house to
some one whom the club is not willing to admit to membership. But Tuxedo
society, instead of becoming, as might have been expected, a very narrow
clique, seems to be singularly broad minded and tolerant. The difficulty
of preserving the character of the place and keeping a large society
together as, in all its essentials, a club, is very much less than might
be expected. The place is extremely interesting to any observer of
American social life. The club regulates everything. It runs a private
police force for the park. It keeps up roads. It supplies electric light
and, what is hardly less necessary in America, ice to all the houses. It
levies, though I suppose without any actual legal warrant, regular
rates. The fact that the experiment was not wrecked long ago on the
rocks of snobbery goes to show that society in America is singularly
fluid compared to that of any European country. That a considerable
number of people should want to live together in such a way is a witness
to the sociability of America. No other country club has realized its
ideal as the club at Tuxedo has, but every country club—and you find
them all over America—has something of the spirit of Tuxedo.

Tuxedo is immensely interesting in another way. Nowhere else in the
world, I suppose, is it possible to see so many different kinds of
domestic architecture gathered together in a comparatively small space.
A walk round the shores of the lake gives you an opportunity of seeing
houses built in the dignified and spacious colonial style, a happy
modification of the English Georgian. Beside one of these, close to it,
may be a house like that of a Mexican rancher, and the hill behind is
crowned with a French château. There are houses which must have had
Italian models, others which suggest memories of Tudor manor houses,
others built after the fashion of Queen Anne’s time. There are houses
whose architects evidently had an eclectic appreciation of all the
houses built anywhere or at any time, who had tried to embody the most
desirable features of very various styles in one building. The general
effect of a view of Tuxedo is exceedingly bewildering at first, but
almost every house is the expression of some individual tastes, either
good or bad. An architect may start, apparently very often does start,
with the idea of building a house with twelve rooms in it at a cost of
four thousand pounds. Having thus settled size and price, he may go
ahead, trusting to luck about the appearance. Or an architect may start
with the idea of building a house in a certain style, or to express some
feeling, dignity, homeliness, grandeur, or anything else. The architects
who built the Tuxedo houses all seem to have gone to work on the latter
plan.

If the Tuxedo experiment in social life fails and the club goes into
liquidation, the United States Government might do worse than buy the
whole place as it stands and turn it into a college of domestic
architecture. The students could, without traveling more than a mile or
two, study every known kind of country house. But, indeed, a college of
this sort seems less needed in America than anywhere else. It is not
only the insides of the houses which are well planned. The outsides of
the newer houses are for the most part beautiful to look at. And one can
see them, there being no walls.

The municipal elections in New York which resulted in the defeat of
Tammany were fought out with great vigor in all the usual ways. There
were speeches, bands and flags. The newspapers were full of the sayings
of the different candidates, and the leader writers of each party seemed
to be highly successful in cornering the speakers of the other party. It
was shown clearly every day that orators shamelessly contradicted
themselves, went back on their own principles, and must, if they had any
respect for logic or decency, either retract their latest remarks or
explain them. All this was very interesting to us. It would have been
interesting to any one. It was particularly interesting to us because it
was almost new to us. Elections are, I suppose, fought in more or less
the same way everywhere; but in Connaught we hardly ever have elections.
An independent candidate bubbles up occasionally, but as a rule we are
content to return to Parliament the proper man, that is to say the man
whom somebody, we never quite know who, says we ought to return.

I gathered the impression that elections must be an exciting sport for
those engaged in them. I do not think that the “pomp and circumstance”
of the business, the outward manifestations of activity, can make much
difference to the result. Speeches, for instance, are certainly
thrilling things to make, and I can understand how it is that orators
welcome elections as heaven sent opportunities for the exercise of their
art. But the people who listen to the speeches always seem to have their
minds made up beforehand whether they agree with the speaker or not.
They know what he is going to say and are prepared with hoots or cheers.
I never heard of any one who came to hoot remaining to cheer. I doubt
whether there is a single modern instance of a speech having affected
the destiny of a vote. A very good speech might indeed produce some
effect if it were not that there is always an equally good speech made
at the same time on the other side. Election speeches are like tug boats
pulling different ways at the opposite ends of a large ship. They
neutralize each other and the ship drifts gently, sideways, with the
tide.

It cannot be seriously maintained that bands or flags help voters to
make up their minds. In nine cases out of ten it is impossible to tell
for which side a band is playing, and therefore unlikely that it will
draw voters to one side rather than the other. In the tenth case, when
the band, by selecting some particular tune, makes its meaning clear,
the music is not of a quality which moves the listener to any feeling of
gratitude to the candidate who pays for it. I should, I think, feel
bound to vote for a man who gave me “_panem et circenses_,” but I should
expect good bread and an attractive circus. I should not dream of voting
for a candidate who provided me with inferior music. The flags are a
real addition to the gaiety of city life. The ordinary elector loves to
see them fluttering about. But the ordinary elector is not by any means
a fool. He knows that the flags will be taken down very soon after the
election is over. If any candidate promised to keep his flags flying as
a permanent decoration of the city streets he might capture a few votes.
But we all know that none of them will do anything as useful as that.

Nor do I think that the editors of newspapers produce much effect by
showing up the inconsistencies of politicians and pinning them down
to-day, when they are driven to say something quite different, to the
things which, under stress of other circumstances, they said yesterday.
It does not take a clever man, like a newspaper editor, to corner a
politician. Any fool can do that, and the performance of an obviously
easy trick does not move an audience at all. An acrobat who merely hops
across the stage on one leg gets no applause and the box office returns
fall away. The thing is too easy. It is the man who does something
really hard, balances himself on the end of an umbrella and juggles with
twenty balls at once, who attracts the public. If a newspaper editor at
an election time would, instead of showing up the other side, offer
proofs that the men on his own side are consistent, logical and
high-principled, he would have enormous influence with the voters. “Any
one,” so the ordinary man would reason, “who can prove things like that
about politicians must be amazingly clever. If he is amazingly clever,
far cleverer than I ever hope to be, then there is a strong probability
that his side is the right one. I shall vote for it.” The ordinary man,
so we ought to recollect, is not nearly such a fool as is generally
supposed. He is quite capable of reasoning, and he would reason, I am
sure, just in the way I have suggested, if he were given a chance.

The keen interest which we took in the showy side of electioneering made
us diligent readers of the newspapers. We were rewarded beyond our
hopes. We came across, on the very evening of the election itself, a
little paragraph, tucked away in a corner, which we might very easily
have missed if we had been less earnest students. In a certain district
in New York, so this paragraph told us, there was a queue of voters
waiting outside a polling station. Among them was a man who was known to
be or was suspected of being hostile to Tammany. It was likely that he
would cast his vote on the other side. There were, looking thoughtfully
at the queue, certain men described by the newspaper as “gangsters” in
the pay of the Tammany organization. They seized the voter whose
principles seemed to them objectionable and dragged him out of the
queue, plainly in order to prevent his recording his vote. So far there
was nothing of very special interest in the paragraph. We knew
beforehand—even in Ireland we know this—that voters are a good deal
influenced by the strength of the party machine. The strength is seldom
displayed in its nakedly physical form on this side of the Atlantic, but
it is always there and is really the determining force in most
elections. It was the thing which happened next which gave the incident
its value. A university student who happened to be engaged in social
work in the neighborhood saw what was done. He was one man and there
were several “gangsters,” but he attacked them at once. He was, as might
be supposed, as he himself must surely have foreseen, worsted in the
fray which followed. The gangsters, after the manner of their kind,
mauled, beat and kicked him to such an extent that he had to be carried
to a hospital. It did not appear that this university student was a
party man, eager for the triumph of his side as the gangsters were for
the victory of theirs. He seems to have acted on the simple principle
that a man who has a right to vote ought not to be interfered with in
the exercise of that right. He was on the side of justice and liberty.
He was not concerned with politics of either kind.

I do not know what happened to that student afterwards. I searched the
papers in vain for any further reference to the incident. I wanted to
know whether the voter voted in the end. I wanted to know what was done
to the gangsters. I wanted to know whether the student recovered from
his injuries or not. I wanted, above all, to know whether anyone
recognized how fine a thing that student did. I never discovered another
paragraph about the incident.

I was talking some time afterwards to an English friend, the friend to
whom I have already referred, who knows America very well and who
offered to take care of me while I was there. I told him the story of
the voter and the Tammany gangsters.

“These things,” he said, “happen over here. They are constantly
happening. One gets into the way of not being shocked by them. But there
always is that university student somewhere round, when they do happen.”

It is an amazingly high tribute to the American universities. If my
friend is right, if blatant force and abominable injustice do indeed
find themselves faced, always and as a matter of course, by a university
student, then the universities are doing a very splendid work. And I am
inclined to think that my friend is right. There is another story of the
same kind, one of many which might be told. This one came to me, not in
a newspaper but from the lips of a man who told me that he was a witness
of what happened.

There was—I forget where—a kind of settlement, half camp, half town,
built in a lonely place for the workmen of a company which was
conducting some mining or engineering enterprise. The town, if I am to
call it a town, was owned and ruled by the company. The workmen were of
various nationalities, and, taken as a whole, a rough lot. It was, no
doubt, difficult to keep them contented, difficult enough to keep them
at all in such a place. It would probably be unjust to say that the
company encouraged immorality; but the existence of disorderly houses in
the place was winked at. The men wanted them. The officials of the
company, we may suppose, found their line of least resistance in
ignoring an evil which they may have felt they could not cure. After a
while, during one summer vacation, there came to the place a university
student. He was not a miner or an engineer and had no particular
business with the company. He was, apparently, on a kind of mission; but
whether he was preaching Christianity or social reform of a general kind
I was not told. He was the inevitable university student of my friend’s
remark.

He found himself face to face with an evil thing which he at all events
would not ignore. He made his protest. Now no man of the world,
certainly no business man, objects to a proper protest, temperately
made, provided the protester does not go too far. The man of the world
is tolerant. He is a consistent believer in the policy of living and
letting live. He recognizes that people with principles must be allowed
to state them. It is in order to be stated that principles exist. But he
holds that in common fairness he ought to be allowed to ignore these
statements of principle. That was just what this university student
could not understand. He went on protesting more and more forcibly until
he made the officials uncomfortable and the men exceedingly angry. It
was the men, either with, or, as I hope, without the knowledge of their
superiors, who first threatened, then beat that university student, beat
him on the head with a sandbag and finally drove him from the place with
a warning that he had better not return again.

He did return, bringing with him certain officers of the law. He was a
man of some strength of character and the recollection of the beating
did not cause him to hesitate. Unfortunately the officers of the law
could not do much. The disorderly houses were all quite orderly when
they appeared. They were small shops selling apples, matches and other
innocent things. There was no evidence to be got that anything worse had
ever gone on in them than the sale of apples and matches. The previous
inhabitants of these houses were picnicking in the woods for a few days.
All that the officers of the law were able to do was to conduct the
university student safely out of the place. That was difficult enough.

I am not sure that this story is true, for I did not read it in a
newspaper; but it is very like several others which I heard. They may
all be false or very greatly exaggerated, but they show, at least, the
existence of a popular myth in which the university student figures,
always with the same kind of character. Behind every myth there is some
reality. Even solar myths, the vaguest myths there are, lead back
ultimately to the sun, which is indubitably there. It seems to me that
whether he actually does these fine things or not the American
university student has succeeded in impressing the public with the idea
that he is the kind of man who might do them. That in itself is no small
achievement.

I wanted very much, because of the myth and for other reasons, to see
something of American university life. I did see something, a little of
it, both at Yale and Princeton.

I have heard it said that the Englishman is more attached to his school
than to his university, that in after life he will think of himself as
belonging to Eton, to Harrow, to Winchester, rather than to Oxford or to
Cambridge. The school, for some reason, rather than the university, is
regarded as “the mother” from whom the life of the man’s soul flowed, to
whom his affection turns. An Oxford man or a Cambridge man is indeed all
his life long proud, as he very well may be, of his connection with his
university, but his school is the subject of his deepest feeling. Round
it rather than the university gathers that emotion which for want of
better words may be described as educational patriotism. An Irishman, on
the other hand, if he is a graduate of Dublin University, thinks more of
“Trinity” than he does of his school. He may have been at one of the
most famous English public schools, but his university, to a
considerable extent, obliterates the memories of it. He thinks of
himself through life as a T. C. D. man.

America is like Ireland in this respect. I find, looking back on my
memories of the American men whom I met most frequently, that I know
about several of them whether they are Yale men, Princeton men or
Harvard men. I do not know about any single one of them what school they
belonged to. I never asked any questions on the subject. Such
information as I got came to me accidentally. It came to me without my
knowing that I was getting it. Only afterwards did I realize that I knew
A. to be a Yale man, B. to be a Harvard man and so forth. In England the
information which comes unsought about a man concerns his school rather
than his university. It is the name of his school which drops from his
lips when he begins talking about old days. There are oftener books
about his school than about his university on his shelves, photographs
of his school on the walls of his study.

I do not know that there is in the American universities any definitely
planned and deliberate effort to create or foster this spirit of
patriotism. There is certainly no such effort apparent in Dublin
University. The spirit is there. That is all that can be said. It
pervades these institutions. Only an occasional and more or less
eccentric undergraduate escapes its influence.

The patriotism is indeed much more obvious and vocal in America than in
Dublin. We had the good luck to be present at a football match between
Yale and Colgate Universities. It was not a match of first-rate
importance, but an enormous crowd of spectators gathered to witness it.
The excitement of the supporters of both sides was intense. There was no
possible mistake about the fact that professors and undergraduates, old
men who had graduated long ago and boys who were not yet undergraduates,
wives, mothers and sisters of graduates and undergraduates, were all
eagerly anxious about the result of the game. Yale, in the end, was
quite unexpectedly beaten. It is not too much to say that a certain
gloom was distinctly noticeable afterward everywhere in New Haven. It
hung over people who were not specially interested in athletics of any
kind. It affected the spirits of my host’s parlormaid.

Very shortly after my return home I watched a football match between
Dublin University and Oxford. The play was just as keen and
sportsmanlike as the play between Yale and Colgate; but there was
nothing like the same general interest in the game. There was a
sprinkling of spectators round the ground, an audience which could not
compare in size with that of Yale. They were interested in the game,
intelligently interested. They applauded good play when they saw it; but
there was nothing to correspond to the tense excitement which we
witnessed in America. The game was a game. If Dublin won, well and good.
If Oxford won, then Dublin must try to do better next time. No one
feared defeat as a disaster. No one was prepared to hail victory with
wild enthusiasm. A stranger could not have gone through New Haven on the
day of the Yale and Colgate football match without being aware that
something of great importance was happening. The whole town seemed to be
streaming toward the football ground. In Dublin you might have walked
not only through the city but through most parts of the college itself
on the day of the match against Oxford and you would not have
discovered, unless you went into the park, that there was a football
match. Yet the pride of a Dublin man in his university is as deep and
lasting as that of any American.

The reason of the difference is perhaps to be found in the fact that
everything connected with university athletics is far more highly
organized in America than on this side of the Atlantic. The
undergraduate spectators are drilled to shout together. They practice
beforehand songs which they sing on the occasion of the match for the
encouragement of their own side. Young men with megaphones stand in
front of closely packed rows of undergraduates. They give the signal for
shouting. With wavings of their arms they conduct the yells of the crowd
as musicians conduct their orchestras. The result is something as
different as possible from the casual, accidental applause of our
spectators. It is the difference between a winter rainstorm and the
shower of an April morning. This organized enthusiasm affects everyone
present. Sober-looking men and women shout and wave little flags
tumultuously. They cannot help themselves. I understood, after seeing
that football match, why it is that America produces more successful
religious revivalists than England does. The Americans realize that
emotion is highly infectious. They have mastered the art of spreading
it. I do not know whether this is a useful art or not. It probably is,
if the emotion is a genuine and worthy one; but it is not pleasant to
think that one might be swept away, temporarily intoxicated, by the
skill of some organizer who is engaged in propagating a morbid
enthusiasm. However that may be, love for a university is a thoroughly
healthy thing. It cannot be wrong to foster it by songs and shouts or
even—a curious reversion to the totem religion of our remote
ancestors—by identifying oneself with a bulldog or a tiger.

I met one evening some young men who had graduated in Trinity College,
Dublin, and afterwards gone over for a post-graduate course to a
theological college connected with one of the American universities. We
talked about Dublin chiefly, but I made one inquiry from them about
their American experience.

“I suppose,” I said, “that you have to work a great deal harder here
than you did at home?”

Their answer was given with smiling assurance.

“Oh, dear no; nothing like so hard.”

I should like very much to have further reliable information on this
point. Something might be got, perhaps, by consulting a number of Rhodes
scholars at Oxford. My impression, a vague one, is that the ordinary
undistinguished American undergraduate is not required to work so hard
as an undergraduate of the same kind is in England or Ireland. In an
American magazine devoted to education I came across an article which
complained that, in the matter of what may be called examination
knowledge, the American undergraduate is not the equal of the English
undergraduate. He does not know as much when he enters the university
and he does not know as much when he leaves it. This was an American
opinion. It would be very interesting to have it confirmed or refuted.
But no one, on either side of the Atlantic, supposes that the kind of
knowledge which is useful in examinations is of the first importance.
The value of a university does not depend upon the number of facts which
it can drive into the heads of average men; but on whether it can, by
means of its teaching and its atmosphere, get the average man into the
habit of thinking nobly, largely and sanely. It seems certain that the
American university training does have a permanent effect on the men who
go through it, an effect like that produced by English schools, and
certainly also by English universities, on their students. A man who is,
throughout life, loyal to his school or university has not passed
through it uninfluenced. It seems likely that the American universities
are succeeding in turning out very good citizens. The existence of what
I have called the university student myth, the existence of a general
opinion that university men are likely to be found on the side of civic
righteousness, is a witness to the fact that the universities are doing
their main work well.

The little, the very little I was able to see of university life helped
me to understand how the work is being done. The chapel services, on
weekdays and Sundays, were in many ways strange to me and I cannot
imagine that I, trained in other rituals, would find digestible the
bread of life which they provide. But I was profoundly impressed by the
reality of them. Here was no official tribute to a God conceived of as a
constitutional monarch to whom respect and loyalty is due but whose will
is of no very great importance, a tribute saved perhaps from formality
by the mystic devotion of a few; but an effort, groping and tentative no
doubt, to get into actual personal touch with a divinity conceived of as
not far remote from common life. These chapel services—exercises is the
better word for them—can hardly fail to have a profound effect upon the
ordinary man. I have stood in the chapel of Oriel College at Oxford and
felt that now and then men of the finer kind, worshiping amid the
austere dignity of the place, might grow to be saints, might see with
their eyes and handle with their hands the mysterious Word of Life. I
sat in the chapel at Princeton, I listened to a sermon at Yale, and felt
that men of commoner clay might go out from them to face a battering
from the fists and boots of Tammany gangsters.

It seems to me significant that Americans have not got the words “don”
and “donnish.” They are terms of reproach in England, but the very fact
that they are in use proves that they are required. They describe what
exists. The Americans have no use for the words because they have not
got the man or the quality which they name. The teaching staffs of the
American universities do not develop the qualities of the don. They do
not tend to become a class apart with a special outlook upon life. It is
possible to meet a professor—even a professor of English literature—in
ordinary society, to talk to him, to be intimate with him and not to
discover that he is a professor. Charles Lamb maintained that
school-mastering left an indelible mark upon a man, that having
school-mastered he never afterward was quite the same as other men. I
had a friend once who boasted that he could “spot” a parson however he
was dressed, had spotted parsons who were not dressed at all—in Turkish
baths. I do not believe that the most careful student of professional
mannerisms could detect an American professor out of his lecture room.
It is possible that this note of ordinary worldliness in the members of
the staff of the American university has a beneficial effect upon the
students. It may help to suggest the thought that a university course is
no more than a preparation for life, is not, as most of us thought once,
a thing complete in itself.

In all good universities there is a broad democratic spirit among the
undergraduates. They may, and sometimes do, despise the students of
other universities as men of inferior class, but they only despise those
of their fellow students in their own university who, according to the
peculiar standards of youth, deserve contempt. In American universities
this democratic spirit is stronger than it is with us because there is
greater opportunity for its development. There are wider differences of
wealth—it is difficult to speak of class in America—among the
university students there than here. There are no men in English or
Irish universities earning their keep by cleaning the boots and pressing
the clothes of their better-endowed fellow students. In American
universities there are such men and it is quite possible that one of
them may be president of an important club, or captain of a team,
elected to these posts by the very men whose boots he cleans. If he is
fit for such honors they will be given him. The fact that he cleans
boots will not stand in his way. The wisdom of medieval schoolmen made
room in universities for poor students, sizars, servitors. The American
universities, with their committees of employment for students who want
to earn, are doing the old thing in a new way; and public opinion among
the graduates themselves approves.

On the subject of the higher university education of girls American
opinion is sharply divided. There are people there, just as there are in
England, who say that the whole thing is a mistake, that it is better
for girls not to go to college on any terms, under any system. I suppose
that we must call these people reactionary. There cannot be very many of
them anywhere. It was a surprise to me to find any at all in America.
They are not, I think, very influential. Among those who favor the
higher education of girls there are many who believe whole-heartedly in
co-education. I had no opportunity of seeing a co-educational college,
but I listened to a detailed description of the life in one from a lady
who had lived it. According to her co-education is the one perfect
system yet hit upon. Its critics urge two curiously inconsistent
objections to it. One man, who is a philosopher and also seemed to know
what he was talking about, told me that boys and girls educated together
lose the sense of sex mystery, which lies at the base of romantic love
and consequently do not want to marry. According to his theory, based
upon a careful observation of facts, the students of co-educational
universities never fall in love with each other or with anyone else. If
the system were widely adopted and had this effect upon the students
everywhere, the results would certainly be very unfortunate. Another
critic, equally well informed, said that the real objection to
co-education is that the students do little else except fall in love
with each other. This, though no doubt educative in a broad sense of the
word, is not exactly the kind of education we send boys and girls to
universities to get. It must be very gratifying to the friends of the
system to feel that these two objections cannot both be sound.

Co-educational colleges are chiefly to be found in the West, among the
newer states. In the East girls get their higher education for the most
part in colleges of their own. Smith College for instance has no
connection with any of the men’s universities. Nor has Vassar nor Bryn
Mawr. These institutions have their own staffs, their own courses and
examinations, their own rules, and confer their own degrees. Barnard
College, on the other hand, is closely connected with Columbia
University, occupying much the same position as Girton and St.
Margaret’s Hall do with regard to Cambridge and Oxford, scarcely as
intimately joined to Columbia as Trinity Hall is to Dublin University. I
had the opportunity of learning something of the life of Smith College.
I was immensely impressed by the spirit of the place, as indeed I was by
that of all the girls’ schools and colleges which I saw. There was an
infectious kind of eagerness about both pupils and teachers. There is a
feeling of hopefulness. It is as if life were looked upon as a great and
joyful adventure in which many discoveries of good things may be
expected, much strenuous work may be done gladly, in which no
disillusion waits for those who are of good heart. Not the girls alone,
but those who teach and guide them, are young, young in the way which
defies the passing of years to make them old. We are not young because
we have seen eighteen summers and no more, or old, because we have seen
eighty. We are old when we have shut the doors of our hearts against the
desire of new things and steeled ourselves against the hope of good. We
are young if we refuse, even when our heads are gray, to believe that
disappointment inevitably waits for us. The world and everything in it
belongs to the young. It is this pervading sense of youthfulness which
makes the American girls’ colleges so fascinating to a stranger. It is
not difficult to believe that the girls who come out of them are able to
take their places by the side of men in business life, or if the
commoner and happier lot waits them, are well fitted to be the partners
of men who do great things and the mothers of men who will do greater
things still.

I take it that the American universities, both those for men and women,
are the greatest things in America to-day. This, curiously enough, is
not the American idea. The ordinary American citizen is proud of every
single thing in his country except his universities. He is always a
little apologetic about them. He compares his country with England and
is convinced that America is superior in every respect, except the
matter of universities. When he speaks of the English universities he
shows a certain sense of reverence and makes mention of his own much in
the spirit of Touchstone who introduced Audrey as “a poor thing, but my
own.”

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