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Roving East and Roving West
by E.V. Lucas
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Meanwhile an illusion of antiquity is set up by New York's habit of commingling business houses and private residences, which surely belongs to an older order of society. In London we have done away with such a blend. Our nearest approach to Fifth Avenue is, I suppose, Regent Street; but there are no mansions among the shops of Regent Street. Our shops are there and our mansions are elsewhere, far away, in what we call residential quarters—such as Park Lane, Queen's Gate, Mayfair, the Bayswater Road, and Grosvenor Square. To turn out of Fifth Avenue into the quiet streets where people live is to receive a distinct impression of sedateness such as New York is never supposed to convey. One has the same feeling in the other great American cities.

But when it comes to their inhabitants there are to the English eye fewer signs of maturity. I have never been able to get rid of the idea that every one I have met in America, no matter how grave a senior, instead of being really and self-consciously in the thick of life, is only getting ready to begin. Perhaps this is due in part to the pleasure—the excitement almost—which American business men—and all Americans are business men—take in their work. They not merely do it, but they enjoy doing it and they watch themselves doing it. They seem to have a knack of withdrawing aside and observing themselves as from the stalls, not without applause. In other words, they dramatise continually. Now, one does not do this when one is old—it is a childish game—and it is another proof that they are younger than we, who do not enjoy our work, and indeed, most of us, are ashamed of it and want the world to believe that we live like the lilies on private means.

Similarly, many Americans seem, when they talk, to be two persons: one the talker, and the other the listener charmed by the quality of his discourse. There is nothing detrimental in such duplicity. Indeed, I think I have a very real envy of it. But one of the defects of the listening habit is perhaps to make them too rhetorical, too verbose. It is odd that the nation that has given us so much epigrammatic slang and the telegraph and the telephone and the typewriter should have so little of what might be called intellectual short-hand. But so it is. Too many Americans are remorseless when they are making themselves clear.

Yet the passion for printed idiomatic sententiousness and arresting trade-notices is visible all the time. You see it in the newspapers and in the shops. I found a children's millinery shop in New York with this laconic indication of its scope, in permanent letters, on the plate- glass window: "Lids for Kids." A New York undertaker, I am told, has affixed to all his hearses the too legible legend: "You may linger, but I'll get you yet."

When it comes to descriptive new words, coined rapidly to meet occasions, we English are nowhere compared with the Americans. Could there be anything better than the term "Nearbeer" to reveal at a blow the character of a substitute for ale? I take off my hat, too, to "crape-hanger," which leaves "kill-joy" far in the rear. But "optience" for a cinema audience, which sees but does not hear, though ingenious, is less admirable.

Although I found the walls of business offices in New York and elsewhere decorated with pithy counsel to callers, and discouragements to irrelevance, such as "Come to the point but don't camp on it," "To hell with yesterday," and so forth, I am very doubtful if with all these suggestions of practical address and Napoleonic efficiency the American business man is as quick and decisive as ours can be. There is more autobiography talked in American offices than in English; more getting ready to begin.

I have, however, no envy of the American man's inability to loaf and invite his soul, as his great democratic poet was able to do. I think that this unfamiliarity with armchair life is a misfortune. That article of furniture, we must suppose, is for older civilisations, where men have either, after earning the right to recline, taken their ease gracefully, or have inherited their fortune and are partial to idleness. It consorts ill with those who are still either continually and restlessly in pursuit of the dollar or are engaged in the occupation of watching dollars automatically arrive.

One of the things, I take it, for Americans to learn is how to transform money into a friend. So many men who ought to be quietly rejoicing in their riches seem still to be anxious and acquisitive; so many men who have become suddenly wealthy seem to be allowing their gains to ruin their happiness. For the nation's good nearly every one, I fancy, has too much money.

My experience is that England has almost everything to learn from America in the matter of hotels. I consider American second and third- class hotels to be better in many ways than our best. Every American restaurant, of each grade, is better than the English equivalent; the appointments are better, the food is served with more distinction and often is better too. When it comes to coffee, there is no comparison whatever: American coffee is the best in the world. Only quite recently has the importance of the complete suite entered the intelligence of the promoters of English hotels, and in myriads of these establishments, called first class, there is still but one bathroom to twenty rooms. Heating coils and hot and cold water in the rooms are even more rare: so rare as to be mentioned in the advertisements. Telephones in the rooms are rarer. In too many hotels in England there is still no light at the head of the bed. But we have certain advantages. For example, in English restaurants there is always something on the table to eat at once— hors d'oeuvres or bread and butter. In America there is too often nothing ready but iced water—an ungenial overture to any feast—and you must wait until your order has been taken. Other travellers, even Americans, have agreed with me that it would be more comfortable if the convention which decrees that the waiter shall bring everything together could be overruled. Something "to go on with" is a great ameliorative, especially when one is hungry and tired.

In thus commending American hotels over English it is, however, only right to admit that the American hotels are very much more expensive.

While on the subject of eating, I would say that for all their notorious freedoms Americans have a better sense of order than we. Their policemen may carry their batons drawn, and even swing them with a certain insolent defiance or even provocation, but New York goes on its way with more precision and less disturbance than London, and every one is smarter, more alert. The suggestion of a living wage for all is constant. It is indeed on this sense of orderliness that the success of certain of the American time-saving appliances is built. The Automat restaurants, for example, where the customer gets all his requirements himself, would never do in London. The idea is perfect; but it requires the co-operation of the customer, and that is what we should fail to provide. The spotless cleanliness and mechanical exactitude of these places in New York would cease in London, and gradually they would decline and then disappear. At heart, we in England dislike well-managed places. Nor can I see New York's public distribution of hot water adopted in London. Such little geysers as expel steam at intervals through the roadway of Fifth Avenue will never, I fear, be found in Regent Street or Piccadilly. Our communism is very patchy.

There are some unexpected differences between America and England. It is odd, for instance, to find a nation from whom we get most of our tobacco and who have the reputation of even chewing cigars, with such strict rules against smoking. In the Music Halls, which are, as a rule, better than ours, smoking is permitted only in certain parts. Public decorum again is, I should say, more noticeable in an American than an English city, and yet both in San Francisco and New York I dined in restaurants —not late—between 7 and 8—and not furtive hole-in-corner places,— where girls belonging to the establishment, wearing almost nothing at all, performed the latest dances, with extravagant and daring variations of them, among the tables. In London this kind of thing is unknown. In Paris it occurs only in the night cafes. It struck me as astonishing— and probably not at all to the good—that it should be an ordinary dinner accompaniment.

I was asked while I was in America to set down some of the chief things that I missed. I might easily have begun with walking-sticks, for until I reached New York I seemed to be the only man in America who carried one, although a San Francisco friend confessed to sometimes "wearing a cane" on Sundays. I missed a Visitors' Book either at the British Embassy in Washington or at the White House. After passing through India, where one's first duty is to enter one's name in these volumes, it seemed odd that the same machinery of civility should be lacking. I missed any system of cleaning boots during the night, in the hotels; but I soon became accustomed to this, and rather enjoyed visiting the "shine parlours," in one of which was this crisp notice: "If you like our work, tell your friends; if you don't like it, tell us." I missed gum-chewing.

But it was on returning to England that I began really to take notice. Then I found myself missing America's cleanliness, America's despatch, its hotel efficiency, its lashings of cream, its ice on every hand. All this at Liverpool! I missed later the petrol fountains all about the roads, a few of which I had seen in India, at which the motorist can replenish; but these surely will not be long in coming. I don't want England to be Americanised; I don't want America to cease to be a foreign country; but there are lessons each of us can learn.

If I were an American, although I travelled abroad now and then (and I hold that it is the duty of a man to see other lands but live in his own) I should concentrate on America. It is the country of the future. I am glad I have seen it and now know something—however slight—about it at first hand. I made many friends there and amassed innumerable delightful memories. But what is the use of eight weeks? I am ashamed not to have gone there sooner, and humiliated by the brevity of my stay. I have had the opportunity only to lift a thousand curtains, get a glimpse of the entertainment on the other side and drop them again. I should like to go there every other year and have time: time to make the acquaintance of a naturalist and learn from him the names of birds and trees and flowers; time to loiter in the byways; time to penetrate into deeper strata where intimacies strike root and the real discoveries are made; time to discern beneath the surface, so hard and assured, something fey, something wistful, the sense of tears.



INDEX

Adirondacks, etc. Agra and its Fort Aitken, E. H., his three books Akbar America, its democracy its humour its slang its trains its women its newspapers its MSS. its hotels its maturity American painters in England Americans, at home and abroad Americans, their clothes their physiognomy their disturbing wealth Aquariums Architecture in America "Association" books

Baker, Mr. Herbert Bam Bahadur, that great hunter Baseball and cricket Beecher, Henry Ward Benares Berkeley University Bernier on the Moguls Betel-nut chewing Birds in India Blackbuck, the agile Bombay—Towers of Silence Boston Butler, H.E., Sir Harcourt

Calcutta—the piano-carriers its snake charmers and the Maidan and its English buildings its old cemetery Charnock, Job Chicago, its hospitable policeman its pictures Cinema, the Cobb, Mr. Irvin Comparisons between America and England Coney Island Cow-worship in India Cricket and baseball Curzon, Lord, his preservation of ancient buildings

Dances in India and Japan Delhi—the camel omnibuses its architecture and the Mutiny Fort Dickens, Charles, presentation copies

"Eha," his three books Elephanta, caves of

Fakirs in India Fatehpur-Sikri Faneuil Hall, Boston Fifth Avenue Foss, Mr. Samuel W., his Boston poem Franklin, Benjamin Fujiyama Funerals in India and England

Ganges, the Geisha dances Gilbert, Mr. Cass Girard, Stephen Goschen, Lord, wounds the tiger

Hakone, Lake Hawking Herford, Mr. Oliver Hindus, the, and animals Hokusai Holmes, Oliver Wendell Hong-Kong, funeral at Honolulu Hooghli, the Hotels in America Humayun's Tomb Huntington, Mr. H. E.

Jahan, Shah, his buildings Jains, the, their preservation of life Japan—its lack of idlers and animal life its women its American reading Japanese, their small stature materialism public manners their gold teeth Journalism in America

Katsuragava rapids Keats' Lamia, 1820 Kesteven, Sir Charles, his library Khan, Sir Umar Hayat Kohinoor, the Kutb Minar, the Kyoto, its temples

Lake Placid Club Lamb, Mr. A. M., his distress at Honolulu Charles, first editions manuscripts Landor, Walter Savage Lavater abroad Lincoln Memorial Liston, Lt.-Col. Glen Lucknow and the Mutiny its delectability Lutyens, Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., goes hawking and Imperial Delhi and the priests and the divers hunts the tiger Marquis, Mr. Don Moguls, the Mohammedan customs priests Monkeys Morgan, Mr. J. Pierpont Mount Vernon Mutiny, the Myanoshita

Nautch, the Nawanagar, the Jam of New or Imperial Delhi New York, its skyscrapers its buildings its aquarium its shops its dances its sky signs its pictures its MSS. its maturity Newspapers in America Newton, Mr. A. Edward

Otome Pass

Painters, American, in England Parsees, the Peacock Throne, the Philadelphia Pictures in America Prince of Wales in New York Prohibition Pronunciation in America

Ranjitsinhji, Prince Rickshaws Roosevelt, Theodore, his Memorial Road "Rose Aylmer" Ruth, "Babe"

San Francisco Saranac Saturday Evening Post, the Scott, Mr. A. P., his house Sculpture in America Shaw, Mr. Bernard Simplified spelling Skyscrapers Skysigns Slang in America Snake-poison antidotes St. Gaudens, Augustus Stevenson, Robert Louis Swamp-deer hunting Swan, Mr. Thomas, his despair at Honolulu

Taj Mahal, the Talmadge, Constance Norma Tavernier on the Moguls Theatre, the, in Japan Tiger hunt, a Tinney, Frank Tokio, its dress its theatre Tolstoi, Count Leo Towers of Silence Townsend, Joe, his ballad

Valley Forge Venice and Benares Vers Libre Vultures

Washington George Martha Wayne, Anthony Wayside Inn, the Wheeler, Mr. Charles Stetson, his story Women in America in Japan Woolworth Building, the

Yamaguchi, Madame Yokohama

THE END

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