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themselves under the title of "wide awake," for that is the principal qualification of advanced posts, sentries, and spies. Hence, too, came their greatly lauded smartness -an expression in which acuteness, rapidity of action, elasticity of movement, and impudence are combined. Hence, probably, also came the American fashion, so often criticised, of asking incessant questions. Their first business when they arrived in America must have been cross-examining the Indians, and it eventually grew into a permanent habit.
As the Anglo-Saxons have rarely intermarried with the Red-skins, but little of their blood and race has passed over to the Americans, but all the more of their mental qualities. We may assert that the Indian race is perpetuated in the American, and that every true Yankee has something of the Red-skin in him. Many-even American-physiognomists actually find in the features of the Americans a resemblance to the harsh, fixed Canadian expression. A distinguished French naturalist has declared that their hair is as stiff and bristly as is ordinarily the case among the Indians fine silky curly hair is a great rarity in America, and the Americans are obliged to appeal to a hairdresser when they wish it to curl.
It is the opinion of many savans that not merely the mental, but also the physical, constitution and strength of the Americans is in a state of decadence, or at any rate has undergone a perceptible and considerable change. Figures borrowed from statistics are unable to prove this fact with mathematical precision, but there are a multitude of self-evident proofs of this view. Were there nothing else to support our assertion, the extraordinary number of chemists' shops, the flourishing state of the doctors, the amount of charlatanism, the countless pills, powders, draughts, and other domestic recipes, which everybody nearly always carries about with him, show that the condition of the national health is far from satisfactory. In no European village do you see anything like the smallest settlements in the Far West, where the doctor's shop is always the most brilliant and best stocked store in the town, where the corners of the streets and the pump railings are covered with printed panegyrics of life elixirs and universal specifics, or bills announcing lectures by peripatetic doctors on the cure of this or that disease. Instead of promoting health, the degenerated condition of the healing art in America must effect much in weakening the race and drying up the sources of life. A number of poisons, such as opium, mercury, and arsenic, are in far greater general use as curative means than among ourselves; and tobacco-chewing is another of the evil habits which ruin health, by destroying the appetite and the coats of the stomach. Like opium-eating, it ruins the complexion, and undoubtedly dulls the intellect; even the repulsive, unsympathising, egotistic expression it imparts to the face appears to indicate this. This custom, introduced into America by sailors, has now attacked all classes of society.
Here and there in America we do not deny that powerful men may be found. The tall, powerful Kentuckians are celebrated, so are the sturdy wood-fellers of Maine; we saw, in New Hampshire and other parts of New England, regiments composed of picked men, while among the Virginian planters there are many fine fellows. At the same time, we are bound to confess that very few cripples and wasted men are to be found in America. This proves that the race has an excellent stock still left, and
our only fear is that this stock, obtained from the fine old Anglo-Saxon family, may be too rapidly expended and wasted.
English cookery is very plain, perhaps too plain, but it is distinguished by the solidity of its material and the simple mode of preparation, which is beneficial to health. Our mode of cooking meat has recently been introduced into nearly every country. Though we may be deficient in the arts of pastry and confectionary, our bread is the best in the world. The Americans have transferred to their land the main features of English cookery, but they have allowed this branch of domestic science, which is all-important for the social welfare and the maintenance of a powerful ace of men, to fall into a state of utter decay. Taken altogether, we believe that no great nation in the world is fed in so insipid and unhealthy a way as the American. One half of what they daily consume, often in great quantities, would produce indigestion in other nations, and hence it is but natural that dyspepsia should figure at the head of the list of
To begin with the most important of all articles of food-the daily bread-we must say that it is in a very bad state in America. Healthy, nourishing, thoroughly-baked, and pleasantly-tasted bread is not to be found in any household of the United States, and can only be obtained from the English and German bakers who have settled in a few American owns for the salvation of foreigners. The Americans never allow their bread to be thoroughly baked, and it is always doughy and pappy. Though they constantly complain of this themselves, they do not attempt any alteration; but it harmonises exactly with their own overhasty manner. It partially results from their dislike for large loaves, which will not keep till the next day, and most of the breakfast and tea rolls are not obtained from the baker, but made at home, and eaten hot and half baked.
At dinner they eat but little bread, and their dishes principally consist of fish and flesh, differently prepared. These two articles nature has to a certain extent supplied them with liberally. Their game is excellent, and was once abundant, and the wild turkeys are far superior to our tame birds in tenderness and flavour. We have nothing to compare with their prairie hens, the large fat American quails, and the varieties of wildduck. The coast, the large lakes, and the huge rivers are overstocked with fish, but the old proverb about God sending meat and somebody else, cooks holds good here. So soon as the above mentioned and many other fine articles of food have been obtained from their forests and handed over to the uneducated cook, or negligent lady of the house, and hurriedly tortured in red-hot pans, covered with rancid butter, and served up with a watery sauce, they gradually lose all their piquancy, and when at last you have in your plate a lump of meat burned outside, and raw inside, your appetite entirely disappears.
Everybody remembers with pleasure the fragrant odour that issues from Parisian kitchens, and which seems like rising incense as you walk along the Boulevards. This odour, composed of all the various substances blended together in a Parisian kitchen, is the best recommendation of the excellence of the manipulations going on in them. But we could never draw near an American kitchen without feeling vexed at the unhealthy, stifling smell that met us from its atmosphere. We cannot describe this smell more closely, but any one whom it has once assailed will agree
with us that it is a characteristic and specifically American odour, which is met with throughout the whole country. The great hotels in New York and the other great cities are completely infected with it, and it is found again in every private house, possessing identically the same character. Its unpleasantness is sufficient to condemn the whole of the American cookery, and it probably emanates from defective management and the use of badly selected ingredients, such as the rancid butter, the hurriedly-fried fowls, the half-baked bread and pastry, and the raw beefsteaks and roast beef. (American housewives begin their baking and boiling about half an hour before dinner-time.) The universality of this smell throughout the country proves that the cookery is equally faulty everywhere.
Just in the same way as the Americans have only remained English in their prevailing colouring, their kitchen has borrowed much from other nations. They have in many respects imitated the Dutch in New York, the Germans in Pennsylvania, and the French on the Mississippi. From the Germans they seem to have taken the preparation of their vegetables, and they have also fresh boiled beef on their tables, which is never the case with the English. Soup is also more general among them than in England, though not so common as in France and Germany. They are very partial to boiled fruit, both fresh and dried, as well as to jellies and preserved fruits. Molasses play a great part on their tables, but their knowledge of pastry they have unluckily derived from England and make it far more substantial. Their pie-crusts are usually as thick and pasty as if ordered from a bookbinder, just as their jellies seem to be turned out by a pomade-maker.
Of course the Americans have added many native dishes to those they borrowed from other nations, and some of them are not so very bad. We may mention, for instance, a fish soup called "chowder," the only thing we found at all eatable among the middle classes in New England. Unfortunately the Americans have discovered in their own country a variety of corn called maize, which grows even up to the frontier of Labrador. Of this yellowish, insipid, sweet corn they make all sorts of bread, cakes, pastry, broth, and soups, with which their tables are daily supplied, though no European can grow to like them. Dry ship biscuit also plays an important part in the national dietary. It is baked in almost every house, and served at breakfast and tea; it is even put into the soup, in which it swells like a sponge, and you come across a lump of this watery stuff when you expect wholesome green fat. In New England the ladies are wont to dip biscuit in cold water, when it soon absorbs the moisture, and is eaten as a dainty.
In spite of all the offensive kitchen smells and the red-hot stifling stoves, it is a great rarity ever to obtain any warm food in America. These unhappy beings pay no attention to the fact that some articles, through their nature, must be eaten cold, while others only display their good qualities through heat. Many dishes, eaten cold, are like flowers which have lost their fragrance, but the Americans pay no attention to such delicate details. All the dishes, cold and hot, are placed on the dinner-table together, and before the company have assembled all are equally tepid. Probably this want of warm food is connected with the American fashion of rapid eating, which is not only an unpleasant, but a
most unhealthy habit. The Americans display as much haste in eating as in any other business. There is no time for cheerful converse between the courses, and naturally the teeth do not perform their proper functions. It is true, however, that so few of the dishes are really agreeable, that you only feel pleased when you have given the stomach its necessary amount of pabulum.
Many American fashions in eating probably originate from this hasty feeding. Eating eggs is not a very graceful process anywhere, but the Americans render it simply disgusting. They take an egg-cup about the size of a beer-glass, break three or four eggs into it, add some salt and pepper, stir the mass up, and swallow it at a gulp. Other delicacies they treat in the same way-as, for instance, oysters, which we like to eat one by one from their natural receptacle. The Americans, who dislike ceremony, have the oysters opened, and poured with their water into a saucepan, when they are converted into what is called oyster-soup. They are thus enabled to devour the oysters with tablespoons, and this soup is a standing dish at the soirées of New York, Boston, and other cities, and even appears to the European as his evil genius-but paulo majora
A great argument in proof of the decay of the Americans may be derived from the remarkable fact that they so speedily broke down in the production of great men and prominent talents. The Greeks and Romans and other nations proved much more productive during their epoch of flourishing. Among them were entire races of great men, families in which talent, high virtue, and a noble character constantly remained, and were handed down from the revered father and grandfather to the equally distinguished sons and grandsons. Their firmament was richly adorned for centuries with planets of the first, second, and third magnitude. The Americans possess, it is true, their immaculate Washington, a patriot of simple grandeur of character, displayed by the most splendid and rare mental and moral gifts, and a citizen really worthy of imitation. As Castor to this Pollux, Benjamin Franklin may be placed by the side of Washington; but this is almost the only constellation that shed lustre on America. These two are their alpha and their omega, and they never again produced any men to equal them. It is as if their virtue only once bore a splendid blossom and ripe fruit. Since Washington and Franklin, who died not much more than half a century ago, they have produced remarkably few great, simple, and patriotic men. They were certainly followed by the Adamses, the Jeffersons, and a few others who acquired the praise of their contemporaries, but how thin did the tail of the comet soon become of which a Washington forms the brilliant nucleus!
This paucity of great men began very shortly after the declaration of Independence and the growing supremacy of democratic tendencies. All the great men of the republic, including Adams and Jefferson, were born under the English dominion, and educated in its good principles; and they, whose grandfathers still resided in England, were more English than American. Again, the birthdays of a Madison and a Clay, a Jackson and a Daniel Webster, nearly all fall in the last century, and partly under the English government, or close upon it. The more American the Americans became, the more that blood and temper they brought with them from Europe evaporated, the more incompetent they
appeared to produce great men. Clay and Daniel Webster, who died a few years ago, were the last of the Titans. The arrogance that gradually took possession of the masses, and filled them with the confidence or the notion that any man could manage matters as well as another, has ended by checking the energy of really gifted men, and as no laurels or reverence are offered them, they make no exertions to act as patterns to men who will not tolerate example. The great men have grown sick and tired of putting themselves in evidence, and the best of them pine away in the retirement of their homes. The spirit of the age has felled one after the other all the mighty oak-trees in the American forests, and nothing is left but a scrubby undergrowth.
It is true that almost every European native complains of the want of great men how many in England, for instance, regard with dread the death of Lord Palmerston, through the impossibility of giving him a successor? But, after all, the matter is not so dangerous with us; we have gone through many periods of poverty of that sort, and attained others which are more brilliant than even the past. We have still among us a sturdy natural stock, a primeval soil from which much may still spring up. With the Americans the exhaustion is far more hopeless, for they resemble an army without reserves. But the present crisis and deeply ramifying convulsion may aid them in this respect too.
The Americans are very fond of calling themselves a young nation, and take credit for a great deal too much in consequence. They consider us Europeans effete nations, with collapsing and tottering states; and this complaint, that Europe has lived itself out, and that we are going down the hill, has found considerable acceptance even among ourselves, especially with the followers of Mr. Bright. It seems to us, however, that people who discuss this question are apt to call decadence in Europe what is, after all, merely change. Old Europe has been for two thousand or three thousand years a Phoenix, which, it is true, burnt its own nest at times, but which ever drew fresh life from the old wondrous and inexhaustible fountain-head of the Indo-Germanic races. We have existed a long time, like a centennial oak, but a fresh youthful sap courses through our veins with every recurring spring. The Americans have not existed long, and hence may be called young; but they have no right to regard themselves as more youthful than Europeans in fulness of life and freshness of mind and heart.
A glowing enthusiasm for the Beautiful and the Good, which at times becomes visionary, a childish and original simplicity and want of caution, a fresh poetical feeling, which degenerates at times into foolishness; such are a few of the characteristics and faults of youth. An European youth, to whatever nation he may belong, stands in this respect as a perfect child by the side of an American youth-we beg his pardon, young gentleman. And even European men, old and young, have retained more of this temperament than the Americans, no matter of what age they may be.
Susceptibility to enthusiasm is a precious inheritance of the old, as yet uncorrupted, peoples of Europe, who feel God in nature, God in history, God in themselves. The Americans, who tinkered up the State with their own hands, who plunder Nature more than they admire her, who have expelled the old God everywhere, are but very little adapted for such youthful feelings. From childhood they are far too smart for sim