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even visited the World's Fair in Chicago. Alas for his temerity! For in the very heart of this land of the free his train was stopped by “road agents,” its express car was rifled of its contents and the robbers got off with their booty scot free. What realistic accounts he must have carried home, and how he will corroborate every account of robbery and disaster which he sees in the London papers !
Even such a well-informed paper as Galignani's Messenger often contains practical slanders of American public life : not because the individual incidents recorded are not true for the most part, but because they are out of all proportion to other matters of news. The little crime is exaggerated and the great virtue is rel. egated to an obscure corner, and to small type at that. Last summer that paper contained the announcement that the sentiment against lynching for minor crimes was “ beginning to make itself felt to some extent” in America. When one remembers how these horrid outrages are denounced and loathed by the respectable people of America, North and South alike, it makes one's blood hot to read such cold-blooded misrepresentations.
But again it must be confessed that these popular delusions are due quite as much to our own exceedingly sensational newspapers as to anything that is printed in the lands across the seas. The headlines of our average daily, whenérer they are read by the people of other lands, would be regarded as proof positive of the worst that can be said concerning the awful state of social life in America. To peruse these papers for a single week would naturally convince any foreigner that America was largely inhabited by thugs and murderers and divorced women and railroad wreckers, while the few who could not be classed in these categories would stand in imminent danger of their lives from some social upheaval or war of the natural elements. The craving for sensations on the part of many of our penny dreadfuls, miscalled newspapers, accounts very largely for these extraordinary and most unpleasant popular delusions concerning America and Americans.
On this side of the Atlantic too, as I before intimated, we are by no means free from our delusions concerning our friends across the waters. We have the general impression that the “ Britisher” is a rude and pompous and overbearing man, carrying out in every inch of his stalwart frame the caricature with which we are so familiar when he is contrasted with tall and lanky Brother Jonathan in our comic newspapers.
The typical John Bull in the eyes of many Americans is this rough and unpleasant creature, whose very name suggests that it is exceedingly dangerous for us to have him in the china-shop of our American feelings and peculiarities. And yet there is probably no part of the world where there is more genuine politeness, or more of that sincere heartiness of character from which all genuine politeness must spring, than in that same Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
That which passes for rudeness in the eyes of the over-sensitive American is often a species of plain-spoken sincerity, combined with a perfectly unconscious assumption that nothing can be quite so good as that which is marked with the British label. In fact, so completely has the Englishman taken this for granted, 80 entirely beyond all dispute does he regard it, that the most unpleasant characteristic of English life springs from this source. “You speak quite like an Englishman and not like an American at all,” was a frequent compliment which I have received, and which I accepted usually with as good grace as possible, though I sometimes made bold to reply : “I speak quite like an American, my good friend, and I should regard it as a good deal more of a compliment if you put it in that way." But this form of kindly commendation which frequently grated on my nerves was simply due to the fact that nothing was considered quite the acme of praise which did not compare the object complimented with the English standard.
I have heard in America very much about British stolidity and undemonstrativeness. This, too, is a very extraordinary popular delusion, for if there is a demonstrative and exuberant people on the face of the earth it is these British brethren of ours. In their public meetings and conventions, whether religious or secular, the speaker is never in doubt concerning their attitude toward him or the questions which he is discussing. Their encouraging “Hear, hear !” (“Yere, yere !" you must call it, if you would be thoroughly au fait), their ironical “Oh, oh !” their hearty applause, and the occasional hiss if the sentiments of the speaker do not accord with their views, make it a far more lively and interesting performance to speak to an English audience than to address an assemblage of Yankees,
who always seem to foel that it is a solemn and serious occasion, no matter what the subject of the discourse may be. In Yankeeland the speaker's poor jokes and witticisms and strenuous efforts at pathos or impressiveness are alike unreflected from the impassive countenances of the audience.
The most serious count against these popular misapprehensions is that, while insignificant in themselves, they are really important in preventing the advent of the era of good feeling for which every lover of his fellow men should hope and pray. It is a crying shame that the descendants of the Normans and Saxons and Danes, who have gone out into all the world to found new empires and to people new continents, should know so little of each other, and should often be so wrapped up in their insular or continental prejudices as to hug these popular delusions to their hearts as treasured traditions.
If the peoples of England, America, and Australia knew more of each other, they would love each other far more. International misunderstandings of any serious character would be almost impossible, and war between the peoples who speak the language of Shakespeare would be an undreamed of possibility. English arrogance and American spread-eagleism and Australian provincialism would each receive a deadly blow, if the great branches of the English race but knew each other better, and these extraordinary international delusions would take to themselves wings and fly away.
FRANCIS E. CLARK.
THE STEPCHILD OF THE REPUBLIC.
BY WILLIAM E. SMYTHE.
The arid region of the United States is a stupendous public property. It is the heritage of the next generation of American citizens. To conquer and subdue it to the uses of civilization will be one of the mighty tasks of the twentieth century. What Africa is to the nations of Europe, Arid America is to the people of the United States—a vast, virgin field which lies open to industrial conquest—the natural outlet for surplus people and capital accumulated in more than two centuries of prosperity.
It is not easy to convey, in a paragraph or a page, a true impression of the size and character of the arid public domain. No other part of this country has been so deeply misunderstood. It has been misunderstood alike from the standpoints of industry and of society, of ethics, and of politics. Nature has written her story upon our arid lands in characters not easily legible to AngloSaxon eyes. But it is impossible to comprehend the brood of Western problems involved in any true policy for Arid America withont considering at least an outline of certain large facts.
One-third of the total area of the United States is arid, which to the popular imagination means “ worthless.” And six hundred million acres of this enormous district is still public land over which the authority of the American people is supreme. It is not strange that it is widely believed that this tremendous national possession is almost a misfortune. The region presents an outward aspect totally different from that of the Atlantic seaboard, or from that of the section lying between the Lakes and the Gulf, or from that of the Mississippi basin—which were occupied in three successive eras of settlement without making any peculiar demands upon the knowledge and ingenuity of a race
familiar with European conditions. It is not strange that a people reared in a different environment should think that aridity is a curse, though it is really a blessing; or that the arid region can sustain no important population, though it is fit to support a nation of one hundred millions ; or that it cannot develop high forms of industry and society, though it is unquestionably destined to be the seat of a superior civilization. It is a perfectly natural human weakness to imagine that whatever is strange in the face or a country is bad, and that whatever is new and different in the fundamental processes of such an industry as agriculture, for instance, is crude and undesirable.
The word “ irrigation,” though it relates exclusively to water, is one of the driest words in the English language to those who understand it vaguely as importing a makeshift to remedy the shortcomings of the weather clerk. But irri. gation is the foundation of civilization in arid countries. It is yet to become one of the most eloquent and fateful words to the American people. It moulds industry and society into new shapes. It will have much to do with the form and color of political and ethical standards in half a continent. The settler who made a clearing in the Massachusetts forest, or turned the prairie sod in Illinois, proceeded quite independently, of his neighbor, and from this original germ of our Eastern population grew the strong individualism which characterizes our dominant commercial spirit. The settler in arid lands cannot grow the first potato, nor the first rose-bush, until he has associated himself with his fellows in the building of an irrigation canal. From this new germ we are to have, and are already having, a strange and hopeful plant which will give different characteristics to the industrial and social fabric of the Far West. What independence these conditions confer upon agriculture; how they regulate the size of the farm unit; how they lead inevitably to the evolution of new principles of commercial association ; how they revolutionize the social character of both rural and urban communities—we may learn from the experience of the Mormon commonwealth in Utah, from the institutions in Colorado founded at the instance of Horace Greeley, and from the wonderful conquests over the desert accomplished in California during the last twenty years.
What influences these conditions will finally project into the larger fields of