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Even in the matter of such a harmless serve a good purpose. Like the common affair as a compliment to a foreigner on courtesies and civilities of life they pave his knowledge of English, they will pre- the way for the speakers, especially if they cede it with a request for pardon, and are strangers; they improve their temspeak in a half-apologetic manner, as if pers, and place them generally on terms of complimenting were something personal. mutual understanding. It is said that The English and the Americans are some years ago a Foreign Consul in closely related, they have much in com- China, having a serious complaint to make mon, but they also differ widely, and in on behalf of his national, called on the nothing is the difference more conspicu-Taotai, the highest local authority in the ous than in their conduct. I have noticed port. He found the Chinese official so curiously enough that English Colonials, genial and polite that after half an hour's especially in such particulars as speech conversation, he advised the complainant and manners, follow their quondam sister to settle the matter amicably without colony, rather than the mother country. troubling the Chinese officials about the And this, not only in Canada, where the matter. A good deal may be said in bephenomenon might be explained by cli- half of both systems. The American matic, geographic, and historic reasons, practice has at least the merit of saving but also in such antipodean places as Aus- time, an all important object with the tralia and South Africa, which are so American people. When we recall that far away as to apparently have very little this remarkable nation will spend milin common either with America or with lions of dollars to build a tunnel under a each other. Nevertheless, whatever the river, or to shorten a curve in a railroad, reason, the transplanted Englishman, merely that they may save two or three whether in the arctics or the tropics, minutes, we are not surprised at the whether in the Northern or the Southern abruptness of their speech. I, as a matter Hemisphere, seems to develop a type quite of fact, when thinking of their timedifferent from the original stock, yet al- saving and abrupt manner of address, ways resembling his fellow emigrants. have been somewhat puzzled to account
The directness of Americans is seen not for that peculiar drawl of theirs. Very only in what they say but in the way they slowly and deliberate they enunciate say it. They come directly to the point, each word and syllable with long-drawn without much preface or introduction, emphasis, punctuating their sentences with much less is there any circumlocution or pauses, some short and some long. It is “beating about the bush.” When they almost an effort to follow a story of any come to see you they say their say and length-the beginning often becomes cold then take their departure, moreover they before the end is reached. It seems to me say it in the most terse, concise and unam- that if Americans would speed up their biguous manner. In this respect what a speech after the fashion of their English contrast they are to us! We always ap- cousins, who speak two or three times as proach each other with preliminary greet- quickly, they would save many minutes ings. Then we talk of the weather, of every day, and would find the habit not politics or friends, of anything, in fact, only more efficacious, but much more which is as far as possible from the object economical than many of their time-savof the visit. Only after this introduction ing machines and tunnels. I offer this do we broach the subject uppermost in suggestion to the great American nation our minds, and throughout the conver- for what it is worth, and I know they sation polite courtesies are exchanged will receive it in the spirit in which it is whenever the opportunity arises. These made, for they have the saving sense of elaborate preludes and interludes may, to humor. the strenuous ever-in-a-hurry American, Some people are ridiculously sensitive. seem useless and superfluous, but they Some years ago, at a certain place, a big dinner was given in honor of a notable about it than the rest of us. Then there who was passing through the district. A are different notions about this question Chinese, prominent in local affairs, who of saving time, different notions of what had received an invitation, discovered that wastes time and what does not, and much though he would sit among the honored which the old world regards as politeness guests he would be placed below one or and good manners Americans consider as two whom he thought he ought to be sheer waste of time.
sheer waste of time. Time is, they think, above, and who, he therefore considered, far too precious to be occupied with cerewould be usurping his rightful position. monies which appear empty and meaningIn disgust he refused to attend the din- less. It can, they say, be much more ner. which, excepting for what he imag- profitably filled with other and more useined was a breach of manners, he would ful occupations. In any discussion of have been very pleased to have attended. American manners it would be unfair to Americans are much more sensible. They leave out of consideration their indifare not a bit sensitive, especially in small ference to ceremony and their highly dematters. Either they are broad-minded veloped sense of the value of time, but enough to rise above unworthy trifles, or in saying this I do not forget that many else their good Americanism prevents Americans are devout ritualists, and that their squabbling over questions of prece- these find both comfort and pleasure in dence, at the dinner table or elsewhere. ceremony, which suggests that after all
Americans act up to their Declaration there is something to be said for the of Independence, especially the principle Chinese who have raised correct deportit enunciates concerning the equality of ment almost to the rank of a religion. man. They lay so much importance on The youth of America have not unthis that they do not confine its applica- naturally caught the spirit of their elders, tion to legal rights, but extend it even to so that even children consider themselves social intercourse. In fact, I think this as almost on a par with their parents, as doctrinc is the basis of the so-called Amer- almost on the same plane of equality; but ican manners. All men are deemed so- the parents, on the other hand, also treat cially equal, whether as friend and friend, them as if they were equals, and allow as President and citizen, as employer and them the utmost freedom. While employee, as master and servant, or as Chinese child renders unquestioning parent and child. Their relationship obedience to his parents' orders, such may be such that one is entitled to de- obedience as a soldier yields to his sumand, and the other to render, certain perior officer, the American child must acts of obedience, and a certain amount of have the whys and the wherefores duly respect, but outside that they are on the explained to him, and the reason for his same level. This is doubtless a rebellion obedience made clear. It is not his parent against all the social ideas and prejudices that he obeys, but expediency and the dicof the old world, but it is perhaps only tates of reason. Here we see the clearwhat might be looked for in a new coun- headed, sound, common-sense business try, full of robust and ambitious man- man in the making. The early training hood, disdainful of all traditions which in of the boy has laid the foundation for the the least savor of monarchy or hierarchy, future man. The child, too, has no comand eager to blaze as new a path for it- punction in correcting a parent even beself in the social as it has succeeded in fore strangers, and what is stranger still accomplishing in the political world. the parent accepts the correction in good Combined with this is the American char- part, and sometimes even with thanks. A acteristic of saving time. Time is pre- parent is often interrupted in the course cious to all of us, but to Americans it is of a narrative, or discussion, by a small particularly so. We all wish to save piping voice, setting right, or what it betime, but the Americans care much more lieves to be right, some date, place, or
fact, and the parent, after a word of en- the same way that Canada and Australia couragement or thanks, proceeds. How are no longer English "colonies,” but different is our rule that a child is not to “self-governing dominions." speak until spoken to! In Chinese official We of the old world are accustomed to life under the old régime it was not eti- regard domestic service as a profession in quette for one official to contradict an- which the members work for advancement, other, especially when they were unequal without much thought of ever changing in rank. When a high official expressed their position. A few clever persons may views which his subordinates did not en- ultimately adopt another profession, and, dorse, they could not candidly give their according to our antiquated conservative opinion, but had to remain silent. I re- ways of thinking, rise higher in the social member that some years ago some of my scale, but, for the large majority, the digcolleagues and I had an audience with a nity of a butler, or a housekeeper, is the very high official, and when I expressed height of ambition, the crowning point in my dissent from some of the views of that
their career. Not so the American serhigh functionary, he rebuked me severely. vant. Strictly speaking there are no serAfterward he called me to him privately, vants in America. The man, or the and spoke to me somewhat as follows: woman as the case may be, who happens "What you said just now was quite cor- for the moment to be your servant, is only rect. I was wrong, and I will adopt servant for the time being. He has no your views, but you must not contradict intention of making domestic service his me in the presence of other people. Do profession, of being a servant for the not do it again.” There is of course whole of his life. To have to be subject much to be said for and against each sys- to the will of others, even to the small.extem, and perhaps a blend of the two tent to which American servants are subwould give good results. Anyhow, we ordinate, is offensive to an American's can trace in American customs that spirit pride of citizenship, it is contrary to his of equality which pervades the whole of conception of American equality. He is American society, and observe the germs a servant only for the time, and until he of self-reliance and independence so char- finds something better to do. He acacteristic of Americans, whether men, cepts a menial position only as a stepping women, or children.
stone to some more independent employEven the domestic servant does not ment. Is it to be wondered at that lose this precious American heritage of American servants have different manequality. I have nothing to say against ners from their brethren in other counthat worthy individual, the American tries? When foreigners find that Amerservant (if one can be found); on the ican servants are not like servants in contrary, none is more faithful or more their own country, they should not resent efficient. But in some respects he is their behavior: it does not denote disunique among the servants of the world.
respect, it is only the outcrop of their He does not see that there is any in- natural independence and aspiration. equality between him and his master. His All titles of nobility are by the Constimaster, or should I say, his employer, tution expressly forbidden.' Even titles pays him certain wages to do certain of honor or courtesy are but rarely used. work, and he does it, but outside the "Honorable" is used to designate membounds of this contract, they are still man bers of Congress; and for a few Amerand man, citizen and citizen. It is all icans, such as the President and the beautifully, delightfully legal. The Ambassadors, the title “Excellency" is washerwoman is the “wash-lady,” and is permitted. Yet, whether it is because the just as much a lady as her mistress. The persons entitled to be so addressed do not word "servant" is not applied to domes- think that even these mild titles are contics, "help" is used instead, very much in sistent with American democracy, or be
cause the American public feels awkward who's who. What a waste of time, what in employing such stilted terms of address, an inconvenience, and what an unnecesthey are not often used. I remember that sary amount of irritation and annoyance on one occasion a much respected Chief
all this causes. How much better to be Executive, on my proposing, in accord- able to address any person you meet ance with diplomatic usage and precedent, simply as Mr. So-and-So, without unto address him as "Your Excellency, wittingly treading on somebody's sensibegged me to substitute instead "Mr. tive corns! Americans have shown their President." The plain democratic "Mr." common sense in doing away with titles suits the democratic American taste much altogether, an example which the sister better than any other title, and is applied Republic of China is following. An ilequally to the President of the Republic lustrious name loses nothing for having and to his coachman. Indeed the plain to stand by itself without prefixes and sufname John Smith, without even "Mr.” | fixes, handles and tails. Mr. Gladstone not only gives no offense, where some was no less himself for not prefixing his higher title might be employed, but fits name with Earl, and the other titles to just as well, and is in fact often used. which it would have entitled him, as he Even prominent and distinguished men could have done had he not declined the do not resent nicknames; for example, the so-called honor. Indeed, like the “Great celebrated person whose name is so in- Commoner,” he, if that were possible, entimately connected with that delight of deared himself the more to his countryAmerican children and grown-ups--the men because of his refusal. A name, “Teddy Bear.” This characteristic, like which is great without resorting to the so many other American characteristics, borrowed light of titles and honors, is is due not only to the love of equality and greater than any possible suffix or affix independence, but also to the dislike of which could be appended to it. any waste of time.
In conclusion, American manners are In countries where there are elaborate but an instance or result of the two rules of etiquette concerning titles and predominant American characteristics to forms of address, none but a Master of which I have already referred, and which Ceremonies can hope to be thoroughly reappear in so many other things Amerifamiliar with them, or to be able to ad
A love of independence and of dress the distinguished people without equality, early inculcated, and a keen abwithholding from them their due share horrence of waste of time, engendered by of high-sounding titles and epithets; and, the conditions and circumstances of a new be it whispered, these same distinguished country, serve to explain practically all people, however broad-minded and mag- the manners and mannerisms of Amernanimous they may be in other respects, icans. Even the familiar spectacle of are sometimes extremely sensitive in this men walking with their hands deep in respect. And even after one has mas- their trousers' pockets, or sitting with tered all the rules and forms, and can ap- their legs crossed, needs no other explanapreciate and distinguish the various nice tion, and to suggest that, because Amershades which exist between “His Serene icans have some habits which are peculiHighness," "His Highness," "His Royalarly their own, they are either inferior or Highness," and "His Imperial Highness,' unmanly, would be to do them a grave or between “Rt. Rev.” and “Most Rev.,'' injustice. one has yet to learn what titles a particu- Few people are more warm-hearted, lar person has, and with what particular genial, and sociable than the Americans. form of address he should be approached, I do not dwell on this, because it is quite an impossible task even for a Master of unnecessary. The fact is perfectly faCeremonies, unless he always has in his miliar to all who have the slightest knowlpocket a Burke's Peerage to tell him I edge of
edge of them. Their kindness and
warmth to strangers are particularly we sat opposite each other without expleasant, and are much appreciated by changing a word. I thought I was too their visitors. In some other countries, formal and reserved, so I endeavored to the people, though not unsociable, sur- improve matters by occasionally looking round themselves with so much reserve up at him as if about to address him, but that strangers are at first chilled and re- every time I did so he looked down as pulsed, although there are no pleasanter though he did not wish to see me. Finally or more hospitable persons anywhere to I gave up the attempt. This is the gen
be found when once you have broken the eral habit with English gentlemen. They
ice, and learned to know them; but it is the stranger who must make the first advances, for they themselves will make no effort to become acquainted, and their manner is such as to discourage any efforts on the part of the visitor. You may travel with them for hours in the same car, sit opposite to them, and all the while they will shelter themselves behind a newspaper, the broad sheets of which effectively prohibit any attempts at closer asquaintance. The following instance, culled from a personal experience, is an illustration. I was a law student at Lincoln's Inn, London, where there is a splendid law library for the use of the students and members of the Inn. I used to go there almost every day to pursue my legal studies, and generally sat in the same quiet corner. The seat on the opposite side of the table was usually occupied by another law student. For months
will not speak to a stranger without a proper introduction; but in the case I have mentioned surely the rule would have been more honored by a breach than by the observance. Seeing that we were fellow students, it might have been presumed that we were gentlemen and on an equal footing. How different are the manners of the American! You can hardly take a walk, or go for any distance in a train, without being addressed by a stranger, and not infrequently making a friend. In some countries the fact that you are a foreigner only thickens the ice, in America it thaws it. This delightful trait in the American character is also traceable to the same cause as that which has helped us to explain the other peculiarities which have been mentioned. To good Americans, not only are the citizens of America born equal, but the citizens of the world are also born equal.
THE MENACE FROM ABOVE
WALTER PRICHARD EATON Walter Prichard Eaton (1878- ), nature writer and dramatic critic, is a resident of Sheffield, Massachusetts. His love of fields and rustic countryside, and his delight in the habits and vagaries of bird and beast show him in spirit with John Burroughs. In Berkshire Fields (1920), from which comes the chapter “The Menace from Above," is a collection of nature studies belonging to the class of generalized description, and dependent for their charm on careful observation and attractive style.
EVERY mouse in the fields and mead- lin to London, and far less effectively ows, every rabbit that crouches under the combated. They live under the menace thicket, every grouse and pheasant, even of the raptores, or birds of prey, the fish and frogs and muskrats in the waters eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls, certain and the squirrels and song-birds of the species of which are still far commoner forest, live under a menace from above, than the ordinary person supposes, even in no less terrible to them than the Zeppe- the settled sections of our northeastern
states. The terror comes to them out of 1 From In Berkshire Fields by Walter Prichard Eaton. Copyright, 1920, by Harper
the air, it drops with the speed of lightand Brothers. Reprinted by permission.
ning, and kills with extraordinary