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Full text of "The future in America; a search after realities"

(IFT2EI cAVENjJE, NEW YORK 



THE 

FUTURE IN AMERICA 

A SEARCH AFTER REALITIES 



BY 

H. G. WELLS 

AUTHOR OP 

ANTICIPATIONS" "THE WAR OP THE WORLDS 
"THIRTY STRANGE STORIES" ETC. 



ILLUSTRATED 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 
NEW YORK AND LONDON 



- 






BOOKS BY 

H. G. WELLS 

SOCIAL FORCES IX ENGLAND AND AMERICA 

Crown Svo 

THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS. Illustrated. Svo 
ANN VERONICA. Illustrated Post Svo 
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Post Svo 
THE FUTURE IN AMERICA. Illustrated. Svo 
THE INVISIBLE MAN. Post Svo 
THIRTY STRANGE STORIES Post Svo 
WHEN THE SLEEPER WAKES 

Illustrated. Post Svo 
ANTICIPATIONS. Post Svo 
SOCIALISM AND THE GREAT STATE (Wells 

and others). Svo 



HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK 



Copyright, 1906, by HARPHR & BROTHERS. 

Published November, 1906. 
Printed, in the United States of America 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. THE PROPHETIC HABIT OP MIND i 

II. MATERIAL PROGRESS 21 

III. NEW YORK 35 

IV. GROWTH INVINCIBLE 49 

V. THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 68 

VI. SOME ASPECTS OP AMERICAN WEALTH .... 88 

VII. CERTAIN WORKERS 104 

VIII. CORRUPTION 116 

IX. THE IMMIGRANT 133 

X. STATE-BLINDNESS 152 

XI. Two STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 167 

XII. THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 185 

XIII. THE MIND OP A MODERN STATE 203 

XIV. CULTURE 223 

XV. AT WASHINGTON 236 

THE ENVOY 254 



423890 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK Frontispiece 

ENTRANCE TO BROOKLYN BRIDGE Facing p. 38 

STATE STREET, CHICAGO " 62 

WESTERN FARMERS STILL OWN THEIR FARMS ... " 82 

PLUMP AND PRETTY PUPILS OF EXTRAVAGANCE . . " 90 

NEW YORK S CROWDED, LITTERED EAST SIDE ... " 106 

BREAKER BOYS AT A PENNSYLVANIA COLLIERY . . 112 

INTERIOR OF A NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING ... " 124 

WHERE IMMIGRANT CHILDREN ARE AMERICANIZED . " 148 

HARVARD HALL AND THE JOHNSON GATE, CAMBRIDGE " 214 

A BIT OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY " 2l6 

IN THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY " 238 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 



CHAPTER I 

THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 
(At a writing-desk in Sandgate) 



"ARE you a Polygamist ?" 
The Question "Are you an Anarchist? * 

The questions seem impertinent. 
They are part of a long paper of interrogations I 
must answer satisfactorily if I am to be regarded 
as a desirable alien to enter the United States of 
America. I want very much to pass that great 
statue of Liberty illuminating the World (from a 
central position in New York Harbor), in order to 
see things in its light, to talk to certain people, to 
appreciate certain atmospheres, and so I resist the 
provocation to answer impertinently. I do not 
even volunteer that I do not smoke and am a total 
abstainer; on which points it would seem the States 
as a whole still keep an open mind. I am full of 
curiosity about America, I am possessed by a prob- 



^ THE 1 FUTURE IN AMERICA 

lem I feel I cannot adequately discuss even with 
myself except over there, and I must go even at 
the price of coming to a decision upon the theoreti 
cally open questions these two inquiries raise. 

My problem I know will seem ridiculous and 
monstrous when I give it in all its stark dispropor 
tions attacked by me with my equipment it will 
call up an image of an elephant assailed by an 
ant who has not even mastered Jiu-jitsu but at 
any rate I ve come to it in a natural sort of way 
and it is one I must, for my own peace of mind, 
make some kind of attempt upon, even if at last it 
means no more than the ant crawling in an explora 
tory way hither and thither over that vast uncon 
scious carcass and finally getting down and going 
away. That may be rather good for the ant, and 
the experience may be of interest to other ants, 
however infinitesimal from the point of view of the 
elephant, the final value of his investigation may 
be. And this tremendous problem in my case and 
now in this simply; What is going to happen to 
the United States of America in the next thirty 
years or so? 

I do not know if the reader has ever happened 
upon any books or writings of mine before, but if, 
what is highly probable, he has not, he may be curi 
ous to know how it is that any human being should 
be running about in so colossally an interrogative 
state of mind. (For even the present inquiry is 
by no means my maximum limit). And the ex- 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

planation is to be found a little in a mental idiosyn 
crasy perhaps, but much more in the development 
of a special way of thinking, of a habit of mind. 

That habit of mind may be indicated by a prop 
osition that, with a fine air of discovery, I threw 
out some years ago, in a happy ignorance that I 
had been anticipated by no less a person than 
Heraclitus. "There is no Being but Becoming," 
that was what appeared to my unscholarly mind to 
be almost triumphantly new. I have since then 
informed myself more fully about Heraclitus, there 
are moments now when I more than half suspect 
that all the thinking I shall ever do will simply 
serve to illuminate my understanding of him, but 
at any rate that apothegm of his does exactly con 
vey the intellectual attitude into which I fall. I 
am curiously not interested in things, and curiously 
interested in the consequences of things. I wouldn t 
for the world go to see the United States for what 
they are if I had sound reason for supposing that 
the entire western hemisphere was to be destroyed 
next Christmas, I should not, I think, be among the 
4 multitude that would rush for one last look at that 
great spectacle, from which it follows naturally 
that I don t propose to see Niagara. I should much 
more probably turn an inquiring visage eastward, 
with the west so certainly provided for. I have 
come to be, I am afraid, even a little insensitive 
to fine immediate things through this anticipatory 
habit. 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

This habit of mind confronts and perplexes my 
sense of things that simply are, with my brooding 
preoccupation with how they will shape presently, 
what they will lead to, what seed they will sow and 
how they will wear. At times, I can assure the 
reader, this quality approaches otherworldliness, in 
its constant reference to an all-important here 
after. There are times indeed when it makes life 
seem so transparent and flimsy, seem so dissolving, 
so passing on to an equally transitory series of con 
sequences, that the enhanced sense of instability 
becomes restlessness and distress; but on the other 
hand nothing that exists, nothing whatever, re 
mains altogether vulgar or dull and dead or hopeless 
in its light. But the interest is shifted. The pomp 
and splendor of established order, the braying tri 
umphs, ceremonies, consummations, one sees these 
glittering shows for what they are through their 
threadbare grandeur shine the little significant things 
that will make the future. . . . 

And now that I am associating myself with great 
names, let me discover that I find this characteristic 
turn of mind of mine, not only in Heraclitus, the 
most fragmentary of philosophers, but for one fine 
passage at any rate, in Mr. Henry James, the least 
fragmentary of novelists. In his recent impressions 
of America I find him apostrophizing the great 
mansions of Fifth Avenue, in words quite after my 
heart ; 

"It s all very well," he writes, "for you to look 

4 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

as if, since you ve had no past, you re going in, as 
the next best thing, for a magnificent compensatory 
future. What are you going to make your future 
of, for all your airs, we want to know? What ele 
ments of a future, as futures have gone in the great 
world, are at all assured to you?" 

I had already when I read that, figured myself 
as addressing if not these particular last triumphs 
of the fine Transatlantic art of architecture, then 
at least America in general in some such words. It 
is not unpleasant to be anticipated by the chief 
Master of one s craft, it is indeed, when one reflects 
upon his peculiar intimacy with this problem, enor 
mously reassuring, and so I have very gladly an 
nexed his phrasing and put it here to honor and 
adorn and in a manner to explain my own enter 
prise. I have already studied some of these fine 
buildings through the mediation of an illustrated 
magazine they appear solid, they appear wonder 
ful and well done to the highest pitch and before 
many days now I shall, I hope, reconstruct that 
particular moment, stand the latest admirer from 
England regarding these portentous magnificences, 
from the same sidewalk will they call it? as my 
illustrious predecessor, and with his question ring 
ing in my mind all the louder for their proximity, 
and the universally acknowledged invigoration of 
the American atmosphere. "What are you going 
to make your future of, for all your airs?" 

And then I suppose I shall return to crane my 

5 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

neck at the Flat-Iron Building or the Times sky 
scraper, and ask all that too, an identical question. 



ii 

CERTAIN phases in the development 
Philosophical of these prophetic exercises one may 

perhaps be permitted to trace. 
To begin with, I remember that to me in my boy 
hood speculation about the Future was a monstrous 
joke. Like most people of my generation I was 
launched into life with millennial assumptions. This 
present sort of thing, I believed, was going on for 
a time, interesting personally perhaps but as a 
whole inconsecutive, and then it might be in my 
lifetime or a little after it there would be trumpets 
and shoutings and celestial phenomena, a battle of 
Armageddon and the Judgment. As I saw it, it 
was to be a strictly protestant and individualistic 
judgment, each soul upon its personal merits. To 
talk about the Man of the Year Million was of course 
in the face of this great conviction, a whimsical 
play of fancy. The Year Million was just as im 
possible, just as gayly nonsensical as fairy-land. . . . 
I was a student of biology before I realized that 
this, my finite and conclusive End, at least in the 
material and chronological form, had somehow 
vanished from the scheme of things. In the place 
of it had come a blackness and a vagueness about 

6 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

the endless vista of years ahead, that was tremen 
dous that terrified. That is a phase in which lots 
of educated people remain to this day. "All this 
scheme of things, life, force, destiny which began not 
six thousand years, mark you, but an infinity ago, 
that has developed out of such strange weird shapes 
and incredible first intentions, out of gaseous nebulas, 
carboniferous swamps, saurian giantry and arboreal 
apes, is by the same tokens to continue, developing 
into what?" That was the overwhelming riddle 
that came to me, with that realization of an End 
averted, that has come now to most of our world. 

The phase that followed the first helpless stare of 
the mind was a wild effort to express one s sudden 
apprehension of unlimited possibility. One made 
fantastic exaggerations, fantastic inversions of all 
recognized things. Anything of this sort might 
come, anything of any sort. The books about the 
future that followed the first stimulus of the world s 
realization of the implications of Darwinian science, 
have all something of the monstrous experimental 
imaginings of children. I myself, in my microcos- 
mic way, duplicated the times. Almost the first 
thing I ever wrote it survives in an altered form 
as one of a bookful of essays, was of this type; 
"The Man of the Year Million," was presented as a 
sort of pantomime head and a shrivelled body, and 
years after that, the Time Machine, my first pub 
lished book, ran in the same vein. At that point, 
at a brief astonished stare down the vistas of time- 

7 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

to-come, at something between wonder and amazed, 
incredulous, defeated laughter, most people, I think, 
stop. But those who are doomed to the prophetic 
habit of mind go on. 

The next phase, the third phase, is to shorten the 
range of the outlook, to attempt something a little 
more proximate than the final destiny of man. One 
becomes more systematic, one sets to work to trace 
the great changes of the last century or so, and one 
produces these in a straight line and according to 
the rule of three. If the maximum velocity of land 
travel in 1800 was twelve miles an hour and in 
1900 (let us say) sixty miles an hour, then one con 
cludes that in 2000 A.D. it will be three hundred miles 
an hour. If the population of America in 1800 
but I refrain from this second instance. In that 
fashion one got out a sort of gigantesque caricature 
of the existing world, everything swollen to vast 
proportions and massive beyond measure. In my 
case that phase produced a book, When the Sleeper 
Wakes, in which, I am told, by competent New- 
Yorkers, that I, starting with London, an unbiassed 
mind, this rule-of -three method and my otherwise 
unaided imagination, produced something more 
like Chicago than any other place wherein righteous 
men are likely to be found. That I shall verify in 
due course, but my present point is merely that to 
write such a book is to discover how thoroughly 
wrong this all too obvious method of enlarging the 
present is. 

8 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

One goes on therefore if one is to succumb alto 
gether to the prophetic habit to a really "scien 
tific" attack upon the future. The " scientific" 
phase is not final, but it is far more abundantly 
fruitful than its predecessors. One attempts a rude 
wide analysis of contemporary history, one seeks 
to clear and detach operating causes and to work 
them out, and so, combining this necessary set of 
consequences with that, to achieve a synthetic fore 
cast in terms just as broad and general and vague 
as the causes considered are few. I made, it hap 
pens, an experiment in this scientific sort of proph 
ecy in a book called Anticipations, and I gave 
an altogether excessive exposition and defence of 
it, I went altogether too far in this direction, in a 
lecture to the Royal Institution, "The Discovery of 
the Future," that survives in odd corners as a pam 
phlet, and is to be found, like a scrap of old news 
paper in the roof gutter of a museum, in Nature 
(vol. LXV., p. 326) and in the Smithsonian Report 
(for 1902). Within certain limits, however, I still 
believe this scientific method is sound. It gives 
sound results in many cases, results at any rate as 
sound as those one gets from the "laws" of political 
economy; one can claim it really does effect a sort 
of prophecy on the material side of life. 

For example, it was quite obvious about 1899 
that invention and enterprise were very busy with 
the means of locomotion, and one could deduce 
from that certain practically inevitable consequences 

9 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

in the distribution of urban populations. With 
easier, quicker means of getting about there were 
endless reasons, hygienic, social, economic, why peo 
ple should move from the town centres towards 
their peripheries, and very few why they should 
not. The towns one inferred therefore, would get 
slacker, more diffused, the country-side more urban. 
From that, from the spatial widening of personal 
interests that ensued, one could infer certain changes 
in the spirits of local politics, and so one went on to 
a number of fairly valid adumbrations. Then again 
starting from the practical supersession in the long 
run of all unskilled labor by machinery one can work 
out with a pretty fair certainty many coming social 
developments, and the broad trend of one group of 
influences at least from the moral attitude of the 
mass of common people. In industry, in domestic 
life again, one foresees a steady development of 
complex appliances, demanding, and indeed in an 
epoch of frequently changing methods forcing, a 
flexible understanding, versatility of effort, a uni 
versal rising standard of education. So too a study 
of military methods and apparatus convinces one 
of the necessary transfer of power in the coming 
century from the ignorant and enthusiastic masses 
who made the revolutions of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries and won Napoleon his wars, 
to any more deliberate, more intelligent and more 
disciplined class that may possess an organized pur 
pose. But where will one find that class? There 

10 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

comes a question that goes outside science, that 
takes one at once into a field beyond the range of 
the "scientific" method altogether. 

So long as one adopts the assumptions of the 
old political economist and assumes men without 
idiosyncrasy, without prejudices, without, as peo 
ple say, wills of their own, so long as one imagines 
a perfectly acquiescent humanity that will always 
in the long run under pressure liquefy and stream 
along the line of least resistance to its own material 
advantage, the business of prophecy is easy. But 
from the first I felt distrust for that facility in 
prophesying, I perceived that always there lurked 
something, an incalculable opposition to these 
mechanically conceived forces, in law, in usage and 
prejudice, in the poietic power of exceptional in 
dividual men. I discovered for myself over again, 
the inseparable nature of the two functions of the 
prophet. In my Anticipations, for example, I had 
intended simply to work out and foretell, and be 
fore I had finished I was in a fine full blast of 
exhortation. . . . 

That by an easy transition brought me to the 
last stage in the life history of the prophetic mind, 
as it is at present known to me. One comes out on 
the other side of the " scientific" method, into the 
large temperance, the valiant inconclusiveness, the 
released creativeness of philosophy. Much may be 
foretold as certain, much more as possible, but the 
last decisions and the greatest decisions, lie in the 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

hearts and wills of unique incalculable men. With 
them we have to deal as our ultimate reality in all 
these matters, and our methods have to be not 
"scientific" at all for all the greater issues, the 
humanly important issues, but critical, literary, 
even if you will artistic. Here insight is of more 
account than induction and the perception of fine 
tones than the counting of heads. vScience deals 
with necessity and necessity is here but the firm 
ground on which our freedom goes. One passes 
from affairs of predestination to affairs of free will. 
This discovery spread at once beyond the field 
of prophesying. The end, the aim, the test of 
science, as a model man understands the word, is 
foretelling by means of "laws," and my error in 
attempting a complete "scientific" forecast of 
human affairs arose in too careless an assent to the 
ideas about me, and from accepting uncritically 
such claims as that history should be "scientific," 
and that economics and sociology (for example) 
are "sciences." Directly one gauges the fuller im 
plications of that uniqueness of individuals Darwin s 
work has so permanently illuminated, one passes 
beyond that. The ripened prophet realizes Scho 
penhauer as indeed I find Professor Munsterberg 
saying. "The deepest sense of human affairs is 
reached," he writes, "when we consider them not 
as appearances but as decisions." There one has 
the same thing coming to meet one from the psy 
chological side. . . . 

12 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

But my present business isn t to go into this 
shadowy, metaphysical foundation world on which 
our thinking rests, but to the brightly lit overworld 
of America. This philosophical excursion is set 
here just to prepare the reader quite frankly for 
speculations and to disabuse his mind of the idea 
that in writing of the Future in America I m going 
to write of houses a hundred stories high and flying- 
machines in warfare and things like that. I am 
not going to America to work a pretentious horo 
scope, to discover a Destiny, but to find out what 
I can of what must needs make that Destiny, a 
great nation s Will. 

in 

THE material factors in a nation s 
T A e nSa f future are subordinate factors, they 
present advantages, such as the easy 
access of the English to coal and the sea, or dis 
advantages, such as the ice-bound seaboard of the 
Russians, but these are the circumstances and not 
necessarily the rulers of its fate. The essential 
factor in the destiny of a nation, as of a man and 
of mankind, lies in the form of its will and in the 
quality and quantity of its will. The drama of a 
nation s future, as of a man s, lies in this conflict of 
its will with what would else be "scientifically" 
predictable, materially inevitable. If the man, if 
the nation was an automaton fitted with good 

T 3 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

average motives, so and so, one could say exactly, 
would be done. It s just where the thing isn t 
automatic that our present interest comes in. 

I might perhaps reverse the order of the three 
aspects of will I have named, for manifestly where 
the quantity of will is small, it matters nothing what 
the form or quality. The man or the people that 
wills feebly is the sport of every circumstance, and 
there if anywhere the scientific method holds truest 
or even altogether true. Do geographical positions 
or mineral resources make for riches? Then such 
a people will grow insecurely and disastrously 
rich. Is an abundant prolific life at a low level in 
dicated? They will pullulate and suffer. If cir 
cumstances make for a choice between comfort and 
reproduction, your feeble people will dwindle and 
pass ; if war, if conquest tempt them then they will 
turn from all preoccupations and follow the drums. 
Little things provoke their unstable equilibrium, 
to hostility, to forgiveness. . . . 

And be it noted that the quantity of will in a 
nation is not necessarily determined by adding up 
the wills of all its people. I am told, and I am dis 
posed to believe it, that the Americans of the United 
States are a people of great individual force of will, 
the clear strong faces of many young Americans, 
something almost Roman in the faces of their states 
men and politicians, a distinctive quality I detect 
in such Americans as I have met, a quality of sharp 
ly cut determination even though it be only about 

14 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

details and secondary things, that one must rouse 
one s self to meet, inclines me to give a provisional 
credit to that, but how far does all this possible will- 
force aggregate to a great national purpose? what 
algebraically does it add up to when this and that 
have cancelled each other? That may be a differ 
ent thing altogether. 

And next to this net quantity of will a nation or 
people may possess, come the questions of its qual 
ity, its flexibility, its consciousness and intellectual 
ity. A nation may be full of will and yet inflexibly 
and disastrously stupid in the expression of that 
will. There was probably more will-power, more 
haughty and determined self-assertion in the young 
bull that charged the railway engine than in several 
regiments of men, but it was after all a low quality 
of will with no method but a violent and injudicious 
directness, and in the end it was suicidal and futile. 
There again is the substance for ramifying Enquiries. 
How subtle, how collected and patient, how far 
capable of a long plan, is this American nation? 
Suppose it has a will so powerful and with such re 
sources that whatever simple end may be attained 
by rushing upon it is America s for the asking, there 
still remains the far more important question of the 
ends that are not obvious, that are intricate and 
complex and not to be won by booms and cata 
clysms of effort. 

An Englishman comes to think that most of the 
permanent and precious things for which a nation s 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

effort goes are like that, and here too I have an open 
mind and unsatisfied curiosities. 

And lastly there is the form of the nation s pur 
pose. I have been reading what I can find about 
that in books for some time, and now I want to 
cross over the Atlantic, more particularly for that, 
to question more or less openly certain Americans, 
not only men and women, but the mute expressive 
presences of house and appliance, of statue, flag 
and public building, and the large collective visages 
of crowds, what it is all up to, what it thinks it is 
all after, how far it means to escape or improve 
upon its purely material destinies? I want over 
there to find whatever consciousness or vague con 
sciousness of a common purpose there may be, 
what is their Vision, their American Utopia, how 
much will there is shaping to attain it, how much 
capacity goes with the will what, in short, there is 
in America, over and above the mere mechanical 
consequences of scattering multitudes of energetic 
Europeans athwart a vast healthy, productive and 
practically empty continent in the temperate zone. 
There you have the terms of reference of an enquiry, 
that is I admit (as Mr. Morgan Richards the emi 
nent advertisement agent would say), "mammoth 
in character." 

The American reader may very reasonably in 
quire at this point why an Englishman does not 
begin with the future of his own country. The 
answer is that this particular one has done so, and 

16 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

that in many ways he has found his intimacy and 
proximity a disadvantage. One knows too much 
of the things that seem to matter and that ulti 
mately don t, one is full of misleading individual 
instances intensely seen, one can t see the wood for 
the trees. One comes to America at last, not only 
with the idea of seeing America, but with some 
thing more than an incidental hope of getting one s 
own England there in the distance and as a whole, 
for the first time in one s life. And the problem of 
America, from this side anyhow, has an air of being 
simpler. For all the Philippine adventure her 
future still seems to lie on the whole compactly in 
one continent, and not as ours is, dispersed round 
and about the habitable globe, strangely entangled 
with India, with Japan, with Africa and with the 
great antagonism the Germans force upon us at 
our doors. Moreover one cannot look ten years 
ahead in England, without glancing across the 
Atlantic. "There they are," we say to one an 
other, "those Americans! They speak our lan 
guage, read our books, give us books, share our 
mind. What we think still goes into their heads 
in a measure, and their thoughts run through our 
brains. What will they be up to?" 

Our future is extraordinarily bound up in Ameri 
ca s and in a sense dependent upon it. It is not 
that we dream very much of political reunions of 
Anglo Saxondom and the like. So long as we 
British retain our wide and accidental sprawl of 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

empire about the earth we cannot expect or desire 
the Americans to share our stresses and entangle 
ments. Our Empire has its own adventurous and 
perilous outlook. But our civilization is a differ 
ent thing from our Empire, a thing that reaches 
out further into the future, that will be going on 
changed beyond recognition. Because of our com 
mon language, of our common traditions, Americans 
are a part of our community, are becoming indeed 
the larger part of our community of thought and 
feeling and outlook in a sense far more intimate 
than any link we have with Hindoo or Copt or 
Cingalese. A common Englishman has an almost 
pathetic pride and sense of proprietorship in the 
States; he is fatally ready to fall in with the idea 
that two nations that share their past, that still, 
a little restively, share one language, may even 
contrive to share an infinitely more interesting 
future. Even if he does not chance to be an 
American now, his grandson may be. America is 
his inheritance, his reserved accumulating invest 
ment. In that sense indeed America belongs to 
the whole western world; all Europe owns her 
promise, but to the Englishman the sense of par 
ticipation is intense. "We did it," he will tell of 
the most American of achievements, of the settle 
ment of the middle west for example, and this is 
so far justifiable that numberless men, myself in 
cluded, are Englishmen, Australian, New-Zealand- 

18 



THE PROPHETIC HABIT OF MIND 

ers, Canadians, instead of being Americans, by the 
merest accidents of life. My father still possesses 
the stout oak box he had had made to emigrate 
withal, everything was arranged that would have 
got me and my brothers born across the ocean, and 
only the coincidence of a business opportunity and 
an illness of my mother s, arrested that. It was so 
near a thing as that with me, which prevents my 
blood from boiling with patriotic indignation in 
stead of patriotic solicitude at the frequent sight of 
red- coats as I see them from my study window go 
ing to and fro to Shorncliffe camp. 

Well I learn from Professor Miinsterberg how 
vain my sense of proprietorship is, but still this 
much of it obstinately remains, that I will at any 
rate look at the American future. 

By the accidents that delayed that box it comes 
about that if I want to see what America is up to, 
I have among other things to buy a Baedeker and 
a steamer ticket and fill up the inquiring blanks 
in this remarkable document before me, the long 
string of questions that begins : 

"Are you a Polygamist ?" 

"Are you an Anarchist?" 

Here I gather is one little indication of the great 
will I am going to study. It would seem that the 
United States of America regard Anarchy and 
Polygamy with aversion, regard indeed Anarchists 
and Polygamists as creatures unfit to mingle with 
the already very various eighty million of citizens 

19 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

who constitute their sovereign powers, and on the 
other hand hold these creatures so inflexibly hon 
orable as certainly to tell these damning truths 
about themselves in this matter. . . . 

It s a little odd. One has a second or so of doubt 
about the quality of that particular manifestation 
of will. 



CHAPTER II 

MATERIAL PROGRESS 
(On the " Carmania " going Americanward) 



WHEN one talks to an American of 
Ame cer a titudes n ^ s national purpose he seems a little 
at a loss; if one speaks of his national 
destiny, he responds with alacrity. I make this 
generalization on the usual narrow foundations, but 
so the impression comes to me. 

Until this present generation, indeed until within 
a couple of decades, it is not very evident that 
Americans did envisage any national purpose at 
all, except in so far as there was a certain solicitude 
not to be cheated out of an assured destiny. A sort 
of optimistic fatalism possessed them. They had, 
and mostly it seems they still have, a tremendous 
sense of sustained and assured growth, and it is 
not altogether untrue that one is told I have been 
told such things as that "America is a great 
country, sir," that its future is gigantic and that 
it is already (and going to be more and more so) the 
greatest country on earth. 

21 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

I am not the sort of Englishman who questions 
that. I do so regard that much as obvious and 
true that it seems to me even a little undignified, 
as well as a little overbearing, for Americans to in 
sist upon it so ; I try to go on as soon as possible to 
the question just how my interlocutor shapes that 
gigantic future and what that world predominance 
is finally to do for us in England and all about the 
world. So far, I must insist, I haven t found any 
thing like an idea. I have looked for it in books, 
in papers, in speeches and now I am going to look 
for it in America. At the most I have found vague 
imaginings that correspond to that first or mon 
strous stage in the scheme of prophetic development 
I sketched in my opening. 

There is often no more than a volley of rhetorical 
blank- cartridge. So empty is it of all but sound 
that I have usually been constrained by civility 
from going on to a third enquiry; 

"And what are you, sir, doing in particular, to 
assist and enrich this magnificent and quite in 
definable Destiny of which you so evidently feel 
yourself a part?" . . . 

That seems to be really no unjust rendering of 
the conscious element of the American outlook as 
one finds it, for example, in these nice-looking and 
pleasant - mannered fellow - passengers upon the 
Carmania upon whom I fasten with leading ques 
tions and experimental remarks. One exception 
I discover a pleasant New York clubman who has 

22 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

doubts of this and that. The discipline and sense 
of purpose in Germany has laid hold upon him. He 
seems to be, in contrast with his fellow-countrymen, 
almost pessimistically aware that the American 
ship of state is after all a mortal ship and liable to 
leakages. There are certain problems and dangers 
he seems to think that may delay, perhaps even 
prevent, an undamaged arrival in that predestined 
port, that port too resplendent for the eye to rest 
upon ; a Chinese peril, he thinks has not been finally 
dealt with, "race suicide" is not arrested for all that 
it is scolded in a most valiant and virile manner, 
and there are adverse possibilities in the immigrant, 
in the black, the socialist, against which he sees no 
guarantee. He sees huge danger in the develop 
ment and organization of the new finance and no 
clear promise of a remedy. He finds the closest 
parallel between the American Republic and Rome 
before the coming of Imperialism. But these other 
Americans have no share in his pessimisms. They 
may confess to as much as he does in the way of 
dangers, admit there are occasions for calking, a 
need of stopping quite a number of possibilities if 
the American Idea is to make its triumphant entry 
at last into that port of blinding accomplishment, 
but, apart from a few necessary preventive pro 
posals, I do not perceive any extensive sense of any 
thing whatever to be done, anything to be shaped 
and thought out and made in the sense of a national 
determination to a designed and specified end. 
3 23 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

II 

THERE are, one must admit, tremen- 
A pr y o?e ss of dous justifications for the belief in a 
sort of automatic ascent of American 
things to unprecedented magnificences, an ascent 
so automatic that indeed one needn t bother in the 
slightest to keep the whole thing going. For ex 
ample, consider this, last year s last- word in ocean 
travel in which I am crossing, the Carmania with 
its unparalleled steadfastness, its racing, tireless 
great turbines, its vast population of 3244 souls! 
It has on the whole a tremendous effect of having 
come by fate and its own forces. One forgets that 
any one planned it, much of it indeed has so much 
the quality of moving, as the planets move, in the 
very nature of things. You go aft and see the 
wake tailing away across the blue ridges, you go for 
ward and see the cleft water, lift protestingly, roll 
back in an indignant crest, own itself beaten and go 
pouring by in great foaming waves on either hand, 
you see nothing, you hear nothing of the toiling 
engines, the reeking stokers, the effort and the 
stress below; you beat west and west, as the sun 
does and it might seem with nearly the same in 
dependence of any living man s help or opposition. 
Equally so does it seem this great, gleaming, con 
fident thing of power and metal came inevitably 
out of the past and will lead on to still more shining, 
still swifter and securer monsters in the future. 

24 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

One sees in the perspective of history, first the 
little cockle-shells of Columbus, the comings and 
goings of the precarious Tudor adventurers, the 
slow uncertain shipping of colonial days. Says Sir 
George Trevelyan in the opening of his American 
Revolution, that then it is still not a century 
and a half ago! 

"a man bound for New York, as he sent his luggage on 
board at Bristol, would willingly have compounded for 
a voyage lasting as many weeks as it now lasts days. . . . 
Adams, during the height of the war, hurrying to France 
in the finest frigate Congress could place at his disposal 
. . . could make not better speed than five and forty days 
between Boston and Bordeaux. Lord Carlisle . . . was six 
weeks between port and port; tossed by gales which in 
flicted on his brother Commissioners agonies such as he for 
bore to make a matter of joke even to George Selwyn. . . . 
How humbler individuals fared. . . . They would be kept 
waiting weeks on the wrong side of the water for a full 
complement of passengers and weeks more for a fair wind, 
and then beating across in a badly found tub with a cargo 
of millstones and old iron rolling about below, they thought 
themselves lucky if they came into harbor a month after 
their private store of provisions had run out and carrying 
a budget of news as stale as the ship s provisions." 

Even in the time of Dickens things were by no 
measure more than half - way better. I have with 
me to enhance my comfort by this aided retro 
spect, his American Notes. His crossing lasted 
eighteen days and his boat was that "far-famed 
American steamer," the Britannia (the first of the 
long succession of Cunarders, of which this Carmania 

2 5 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

is the latest) ; his return took fifty days, and was a 
jovial home-coming under sail. It s the journey 
out gives us our contrast. He had the "state-room " 
of the period and very unhappy he was in it, as he 
testifies in a characteristically mounting passage. 



"That this state-room had been specially engaged for 
Charles Dickens, Esquire, and Lady, was rendered suf 
ficiently clear even to my scared intellect by a very small 
manuscript, announcing the fact, which was pinned on a 
very flat quilt, covering a very thin mattress, spread like 
a surgical plaster on a most inaccessible shelf. But that 
this was the state-room, concerning which Charles Dickens, 
Esquire, and Lady, had held daily and nightly conferences 
for at least four months preceding; that this could by any 
possibility be that small snug chamber of the imagination, 
which Charles Dickens, Esquire, with the spirit of prophecy 
strong upon him, had always foretold would contain at 
least one little sofa, and which his Lady, with a modest and 
yet most magnificent sense of its limited dimensions, had 
from the first opined would not hold more than two enor 
mous portmanteaus in some odd corner out of sight (port 
manteaus which could now no more be got in at the door, 
not to say stowed away, than a giraffe could be persuaded 
or forced into a flower-pot) : that this utterly impracticable, 
thoroughly preposterous box, had the remotest reference 
to, or connection with, those chaste and pretty bowers, 
sketched in a masterly hand, in the highly varnished, 
lithographic plan, hanging up in the agent s counting- 
house in the City of London: that this room of state, in 
short, could be anything but a pleasant fiction and cheer 
ful jest of the Captain s, invented and put in practice for 
the better relish and enjoyment of the real state-room 
presently to be disclosed : these were truths which I really 
could not bring my mind at all to bear upon or compre 
hend." 

26 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

So he precludes his two weeks and a half of vile 
weather in this paddle boat of the middle ages (she 
carried a " formidable " multitude of no less than 
eighty-six saloon passengers) and goes on to de 
scribe such experiences as this; 

"About midnight we shipped a sea, which forced its way 
through the skylights, burst open the doors above, and 
came raging and roaring down into the ladies cabin, to 
the unspeakable consternation of my wife and a little 
Scotch lady. . . . They, and the handmaid before men 
tioned, being in such ecstacies of fear that I scarcely knew 
what to do with them, I naturally bethought myself of 
some restorative or comfortable cordial; and nothing bet 
ter occurring to me, at the moment, than hot brandy-and- 
water, I procured a tumblerful without delay. It being 
impossible to stand or sit without holding on, they were 
all heaped together in one corner of a long sofa a fixture 
extending entirely across the cabin where they clung to 
each other in momentary expectation of being drowned. 
When I approached this place with my specific, and was 
about to administer it with many consolatory expressions, 
to the nearest sufferer, what was my dismay to see them 
all roll slowly down to the other end ! and when I staggered 
to that end, and held out the glass once more, how im 
mensely baffled were my good intentions by the ship giving 
another lurch, and their rolling back again! I suppose I 
dodged them up and down this sofa, for at least a quarter 
of an hour, without reaching them once; and by the time 
I did catch them, the brandy-and-water was diminished, 
by constant spilling, to a teaspoonful. To complete the 
group, it is necessary to recognize in this disconcerted 
dodger, an individual very pale from sea-sickness, who had 
shaved his beard and brushed his hair last at Liverpool ; and 
whose only articles of dress (linen not included) were a pair of 
dreadnought trousers; a blue jacket, formerly admired upon 
the Thames at Richmond; no stockings; and one slipper." 

27 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

It gives one a momentary sense of superiority to 
the great master to read that. One surveys one s 
immediate surroundings and compares them with 
his. One says almost patronizingly: "Poor old 
Dickens, you know, really did have too awful a 
time!" The waves are high now, and getting 
higher, dark -blue waves foam-crested; the waves 
haven t altered except relatively but one isn t 
even sea-sick. At the most there are squeamish 
moments for the weaker brethren. One looks down 
on these long white-crested undulations thirty feet 
or so of rise and fall, as we look down the side of a 
sky-scraper into a tumult in the street. 

We displace thirty thousand tons of water in 
stead of twelve hundred, we can carry 521 first and 
second class passengers, a crew of 463, and 2260 
emigrants below. . . . 

We re a city rather than a ship, our funnels go 
up over the height of any reasonable church spire, 
and you need walk the main-deck from end to end 
and back only four times to do a mile. Any one 
who has been to London and seen Trafalgar Square 
will get our dimensions perfectly, when he realizes 
that we should only squeeze into that finest site in 
Europe, diagonally, dwarfing the National Gallery, 
St. Martin s Church, hotels and every other build 
ing there out of existence, our funnels towering five 
feet higher than Nelson on his column. As one 
looks down on it all from the boat-deck one has a 
social microcosm, we could set up as a small modern 

28 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

country and renew civilization even if the rest of 
the world was destroyed. We ve the plutocracy 
up here, there is a middle class on the second- 
class deck and forward a proletariat the proles 
much in evidence complete. It s possible to go 
slumming aboard. . . . We have our daily paper, 
too, printed aboard, and all the latest news by 
marconigram. . . . 

Never was anything of this sort before, never. 
Caligula s shipping it is true (unless it was Con- 
stantine s) did, as Mr. Cecil Torr testifies, hold a 
world record until the nineteenth century and he 
quotes Pliny for thirteen hundred tons outdoing 
the Britannia and Moschion for cabins and baths 
and covered vine-shaded walks and plants in pots. 
But from 1840 onward, we have broken away into 
a new scale for life. This Carmania isn t the largest 
ship nor the finest, nor is it to be the last. Greater 
ships are to follow and greater. The scale of size, 
the scale of power, the speed and dimensions of things 
about us alter remorselessly to some limit we cannot 
at present descry. 

in 

IT is the development of such things 
Is ne 8 vfi s bie ? as this, it is this dramatically abbre 
viated perspective from those pre-Ref- 
ormation caravels to the larger, larger, larger of the 
present vessels, one must blame for one s illusions. 

29 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

One is led unawares to believe that this something 
called Progress is a natural and necessary and 
secular process, going on without the definite will 
of man, carrying us on quite independently of us; 
one is led unawares to forget that it is after all from 
the historical point of view only a sudden universal 
jolting forward in history, an affair of two centuries 
at most, a process for the continuance of which we 
have no sort of guarantee. Most western Euro 
peans have this delusion of automatic progress in 
things badly enough, but with Americans it seems 
to be almost fundamental. It is their theory of 
the Cosmos and they no more think of inquir 
ing into the sustaining causes of the progressive 
movement than they would into the character 
of the stokers hidden away from us in this 
great thing somewhere the officers alone know 
where. 

I am happy to find this blind confidence very well 
expressed for example in an illustrated magazine 
article by Mr. Edgar Saltus, "New York from the 
Flat-iron," that a friend has put in my hand to pre 
pare me for the wonders to come. Mr. Saltus writes 
with an eloquent joy of his vision of Broadway be 
low, Broadway that is now "barring trade-routes, 
the largest commercial stretch on this planet." 
So late as Dickens s visit it was scavenged by rov 
ing untended herds of gaunt, brown, black-blotched 
pigs. He writes of lower Fifth Avenue and upper 
Fifth Avenue, of Madison Square and its tower, of 

30 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

sky-scrapers and sky-scrapers and sky-scrapers round 
and about the horizon. (I am to have a tremendous 
view of them to-morrow as we steam up from the 
Narrows.) And thus Mr. Saltus proceeds, 

1 As you lean and gaze from the toppest floors on houses 
below, which from those floors seem huts, it may occur 
to you that precisely as these huts were once regarded as 
supreme achievements, so, one of these days, from other 
and higher floors, the Flat-iron may seem a hut itself. 
Evolution has not halted. Undiscernibly but indefatiga- 
bly, always it is progressing. Its final term is not exist 
ing buildings, nor in existing man. If humanity sprang 
from gorillas, from humanity gods shall proceed." 

The rule of three in excelsis ! 

"The story of Olympus is merely a tale of what might 
have been. That which might have been may yet come 
to pass. Even now could the old divinities, hushed for- 
evermore, awake, they would be perplexed enough to see 
how mortals have exceeded them. ... In Fifth Avenue 
inns they could get fairer fare than ambrosia, and behold 
women beside whom Venus herself would look provincial 
and Juno a frump. The spectacle of electricity tamed and 
domesticated would surprise them not a little, the elevated 
quite as much, the Flat-iron still more. At sight of the 
latter they would recall the Titans with whom once they 
warred, and sink to their sun-red seas outfaced. 

"In this same measure we have succeeded in exceeding 
them, so will posterity surpass what we have done. Evo 
lution may be slow, it achieved an unrecognized advance 
when it devised buildings such as this. It is demonstrable 
that small rooms breed small thoughts. It will be demon 
strable that, as buildings ascend, so do ideas. It is mental 
progress that sky-scrapers engender. From these parturi- 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

tions gods may really proceed beings, that is, who, could 
we remain long enough to see them, would regard us as 
we regard the apes. ..." 

Mr. Saltus writes, I think, with a very typical 
American accent. Most Americans think like that 
and all of them I fancy feel like it. Just in that 
spirit a later -empire Roman might have written 
apropos the gigantic new basilica of Constantine 
the Great (who was also, one recalls, a record-breaker 
in ship - building) and have compared it with the 
straitened proportions of Caesar s Forum and the 
meagre relics of republican Rome. So too (dbsit 
omen) he might have swelled into prophecy and 
sounded the true modern note. 

One hears that modern note everywhere nowa 
days where print spreads, but from America with 
fewer undertones than anywhere. Even I find it, 
ringing clear, as a thing beyond disputing, as a 
thing as self-evident as sunrise again and again in 
the expressed thought of Mr. Henry James. 

But you know this progress isn t guaranteed. 
We have all indeed been carried away completely 
by the up-rush of it all. To me now this Carmania 
seems to typify the whole thing. What matter it 
if there are moments when one reflects on the mys 
terious smallness and it would seem the ungrowing 
quality of the human content of it all? We are, 
after all, astonishingly like flies on a machine that 
has got loose. No matter. Those people on the 
main-deck are the oddest crowd, strange Oriental- 

32 



MATERIAL PROGRESS 

looking figures with Astrakhan caps, hook -noses, 
shifty eyes, and indisputably dirty habits, bold- 
eyed, red-capped, expectorating women, quaint and 
amazingly dirty children ; Tartars there are too, and 
Cossacks, queer wraps, queer head-dresses, a sort 
of greasy picturesqueness over them all. They use 
the handkerchief solely as a head covering. Their 
deck is disgusting with fragments of food, with egg 
shells they haven t had the decency to throw over 
board. Collectively they have an atmosphere. 
They re going where we re going, wherever that is. 
What matters it? What matters it, too, if these 
people about me in the artistic apartment talk noth 
ing but trivialities derived from the Daily Bulletin, 
think nothing but trivialities, are, except in the 
capacity of paying passengers, the most ineffectual 
gathering of human beings conceivable? What 
matters it that there is no connection, no under 
standing whatever between them and that large and 
ominous crowd a plank or so and a yard or so under 
our feet? Or between themselves for the matter 
of that? What matters it if nobody seems to be 
struck by the fact that we are all, the three thousand 
two hundred of us so extraordinarily got together 
into this tremendous machine, and that not only 
does nobody inquire what it is has got us together 
in this astonishing fashion and why, but that no 
body seems to feel that we are together in any sort 
of way at all ? One looks up at the smoke-pouring 
funnels and back at the foaming wake. It will be 

33 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

all right. Aren t we driving ahead westward at a 
pace of four hundred and fifty miles a day ? 

And twenty or thirty thousand other souls, 
mixed and stratified, on great steamers ahead of us, 
or behind, are driving westward too. That there s 
no collective mind apparent in it at all, worth speak 
ing about is so much the better. That only shows 
its Destiny, its Progress as inevitable as gravitation. 
I could almost believe it, as I sit quietly writing here 
by a softly shaded light in this elegantly appointed 
drawing-room, as steady as though I was in my 
native habitat on dry land instead of hurrying al 
most fearfully, at twenty knots an hour, over a 
tumbling empty desert of blue waves under a windy 
sky. But, only a little while ago, I was out forward 
alone, looking at that. Everything was still ex 
cept for the remote throbbing of the engines and 
the nearly effaced sound of a man, singing in a 
strange tongue, that came from the third-class gang 
way far below. The sky was clear, save for a few 
black streamers of clouds, Orion hung very light and 
large above the waters, and a great new moon, still 
visibly holding its dead predecessor in its crescent, 
sank near him. Between the sparse great stars 
were deep blue spaces, unfathomed distances. 

Out there I had been reminded of space and 
time. Out there the ship was just a hastening 
ephemeral fire-fly that had chanced to happen across 
the eternal tumult of the winds and sea. 



CHAPTER III 

NEW YORK 

(In a room on the ninth floor in the sky -scraper hotel 
New York) 



MY first impressions of New York are 
impressions enormously to enhance the effect of 
this Progress, this material progress, 
that is to say, as something inevitable and inhuman, 
as a blindly furious energy of growth that must go 
on. Against the broad and level gray contours of 
Liverpool one found the ocean liner portentously 
tall, but here one steams into the middle of a town 
that dwarfs the ocean liner. The sky-scrapers that 
are the New-Yorker s perpetual boast and pride 
rise up to greet one as one comes through the Nar 
rows into the Upper Bay, stand out, in a clustering 
group of tall irregular crcnellations, the strangest 
crown that ever a city wore. They have an effect 
of immense incompleteness ; each one seems to await 
some needed terminal, to be, by virtue of its woolly 
jets of steam, still as it were in process of eruption. 
One thinks of St. Peter s great blue dome, finished 

35 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

and done as one saw it from a vine-shaded wine- 
booth above the Milvian Bridge, one thinks of the 
sudden ascendency of St. Paul s dark grace, as 
it soars out over any one who comes up by the 
Thames towards it. These are efforts that have 
accomplished their ends, and even Paris illuminated 
under the tall stem of the Eiffel Tower looked com 
pleted and defined. But New York s achievement 
is a threatening promise, growth going on under a 
pressure that increases, and amidst a hungry uproar 
of effort. 

One gets a measure of the quality of this force of 
mechanical, of inhuman, growth as one marks the 
great statue of Liberty on our larboard, which is 
meant to dominate and fails absolutely to dominate 
the scene. It gets to three hundred feet about, by 
standing on a pedestal of a hundred and fifty ; and 
the uplifted torch, seen against the sky, suggests an 
arm straining upward, straining in hopeless com 
petition with the fierce commercial altitudes ahead. 
Poor liberating Lady of the American ideal! One 
passes her and forgets. 

Happy returning natives greet the great pillars 
of business by name, the St. Paul Building, the 
World, the Manhattan tower ; the English new-comer 
notes the clear emphasis of the detail, the freedom 
from smoke and atmospheric mystery that New 
York gains from burning anthracite, the jetting 
white steam clouds that emphasize that freedom. 
Across the broad harbor plies an unfamiliar traffic 

36 



NEW YORK 

of grotesque broad ferry-boats, black with people, 
glutted to the lips with vans and carts, each hooting 
and yelping its own distinctive note, and there is a 
wild hurrying up and down and to and fro of piping 
and bellowing tugs and barges ; and a great floating 
platform, bearing a railway train, gets athwart our 
course as we ascend and evokes megatherial bel- 
lowings. Everything is moving at a great speed, 
and whistling and howling, it seems, and presently 
far ahead we make out our own pier, black with ex 
pectant people, and set up our own distinctive whoop, 
and with the help of half a dozefi furiously noisy 
tugs are finally lugged and butted into dock. The 
tugs converse by yells and whistles, it is an affair of 
short-tempered mechanical monsters, amidst which 
one watches for one s opportunity to get ashore. 

Noise and human hurry and a vastness of means 
and collective result, rather than any vastness of 
achievement, is the pervading quality of New York. 
The great thing is the mechanical thing, the unin 
tentional thing which is speeding up all these people, 
driving them in headlong hurry this way and that, 
exhorting them by the voice of every car conductor 
to "step lively," aggregating them into shoving and 
elbowing masses, making them stand clinging to 
straps, jerking them up elevator shafts and pouring 
them on to the ferry-boats. But this accidental great 
thing is at times a very great thing. Much more 
impressive than the sky-scrapers to my mind is the 
large Brooklyn suspension-bridge. I have never 

37 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

troubled to ask who built that ; its greatness is not 
in its design, but in the quality of necessity one per 
ceives in its inanimate immensity. It tells, as one 
goes under it up the East River, but it is far more 
impressive to the stranger to come upon it by 
glimpses, wandering down to it through the ill-paved 
van-infested streets from Chatham Square. One sees 
parts of Cyclopean stone arches, one gets suggestive 
glimpses through the jungle growth of business now 
of the back, now of the flanks, of the monster; then, 
as one comes out on the river, one discovers far up 
in one s sky the long sweep of the bridge itself, 
foreshortened and with a maximum of perspective 
effect; the streams of pedestrians and the long line 
of carts and vans, quaintly microscopic against the 
blue, the creeping progress of the little cars on the 
lower edge of the long chain of netting; all these 
things dwindling indistinguishably before Brooklyn 
is reached. Thence, if it is late afternoon, one may 
walk back to City Hall Park and encounter and ex 
perience the convergent stream of clerks and work 
ers making for the bridge, mark it grow denser and 
denser, until at last they come near choking even the 
broad approaches of the giant duct, until the con 
gested multitudes jostle and fight for a way. They 
arrive marching afoot by every street in endless pro 
cession; crammed trolley-cars disgorge them; the 
Subway pours them out. . . . The individuals count 
for nothing, they are clerks and stenographers, shop 
men, shop-girls, workers of innumerable types, black- 

38 



NEW YORK 

coated men, hat-and-blouse girls, shabby and cheap 
ly clad persons, such as one sees in London, in Ber 
lin, anywhere. Perhaps they hurry more, perhaps 
they seem more eager. But the distinctive effect 
is the mass, the black torrent, rippled with un 
meaning faces, the great, the unprecedented mul- 
titudinousness of the thing, the inhuman force of 
it all. 

I made no efforts to present any of my letters, or 
to find any one to talk to on my first day in New 
York. I landed, got a casual lunch, and wandered 
alone until New York s peculiar effect of inhuman 
noise and pressure and growth became overwhelm 
ing, touched me with a sense of solitude, and drove 
me into the hospitable companionship of the Cent 
ury Club. Oh, no doubt of New York s immensity! 
The sense of soulless gigantic forces, that took no 
heed of men, became stronger and stronger all that 
day. The pavements were often almost incredibly 
out of repair, when I became footweary the street 
cars would not wait for me, and I had to learn their 
stopping - points as best I might. I wandered, 
just at the right pitch of fatigue to get the full 
force of it into the eastward region between Third 
and Fourth Avenue, came upon the Elevated rail 
way at its worst, the darkened streets of disordered 
paving below, trolley-car-congested, the ugly clumsy 
lattice, sonorously busy overhead, a clatter of vans 
and draught-horses, and great crowds of cheap, base- 
looking people hurrying uncivilly by. . . . 
4 39 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 
II 

I CORRECTED that first crowded im- 
Th whtMfrbie pression of New York with a clearer, 
brighter vision of expansiveness when 
next day I began to realize the social quality of 
New York s central backbone, between Fourth 
Avenue and Sixth. The effect remained still that 
of an immeasurably powerful forward movement 
of rapid eager advance, a process of enlargement 
and increment in every material sense, but it may 
be because I was no longer fatigued, was now a lit 
tle initiated, the human being seemed less of a fly 
upon the wheels. I visited immense and magnifi 
cent clubs London has no such splendors as the 
Union, the University, the new hall of the Har 
vard I witnessed the great torrent of spending and 
glittering prosperity in carriage and motor-car pour 
along Fifth Avenue. I became aware of effects that 
were not only vast and opulent but fine. It grew 
upon me that the Twentieth Century, which found 
New York brown-stone of the color of desiccated 
chocolate, meant to leave it a city of white and 
colored marble. I found myself agape, admiring a 
sky-scraper the prow of the Flat-iron Building, to 
be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of 
Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the afternoon light. 
The New York sundown and twilight seemed to me 
quite glorious things. Down the western streets 
one gets the sky hung in long cloud-barred strips, 

40 



NEW YORK 

like Japanese paintings, celestial tranquil yellows 
and greens and pink luminosity toning down to the 
reeking blue-brown edge of the distant New Jersey 
atmosphere, and the clear, black, hard activity of 
crowd and trolley-car and Elevated railroad. 
Against this deepening color came the innumerable 
little lights of the house cliffs and the street tier 
above tier. New York is lavish of light, it is lavish 
of everything, it is full of the sense of spending from 
an inexhaustible supply. For a time one is drawn 
irresistibly into the universal belief in that inex 
haustible supply. 

At a bright table in Delmonico s to-day at lunch- 
time, my host told me the first news of the de 
struction of the great part of San Francisco by earth 
quake and fire. It had just come through to him, 
it wasn t yet being shouted by the newsboys. He 
told me compactly of dislocated water-mains, of the 
ill-luck of the unusual eastward wind that was blow 
ing the fire up- town, of a thousand reported dead, 
of the manifest doom of the greater portion of the 
city, and presently the shouting voices in the street 
outside arose to chorus him. He was a newspaper 
man and a little preoccupied because his San Fran 
cisco offices were burning, and that no further news 
was arriving after these first intimations. Natural 
ly the catastrophe was our topic. But this disaster 
did not affect him, it does not seem to have affected 
any one with a sense of final destruction, with any 
foreboding of irreparable disaster. Every one is 

41 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

talking of it this afternoon, and no one is in the least 
degree dismayed. I have talked and listened in 
two clubs, watched people in cars and in the street, 
and one man is glad that Chinatown will be cleared 
out for good ; another s chief solicitude is for Millet s 
"Man with the Hoe." " They ll cut it out of the 
frame," he says, a little anxiously. "Sure." But 
there is no doubt anywhere that San Francisco can 
be rebuilt, larger, better, and soon. Just as there 
would be none at all if all this New York that has 
so obsessed me with its limitless bigness was itself 
a blazing ruin. I believe these people would more 
than half like the situation. It would give them 
scope, it would facilitate that conversion into white 
marble in progress everywhere, it would settle the 
difficulties of the Elevated railroad and clear out the 
tangles of lower New York. There is no sense of 
accomplishment and finality in any of these things, 
the largest, the finest, the tallest, are so obviously 
no more than symptoms and promises of Material 
Progress, of inhuman material progress that is so 
in the nature of things that no one would regret 
their passing. That, I say again, is at the first 
encounter the peculiar American effect that began 
directly I stepped aboard the liner, and that rises 
here to a towering, shining, clamorous climax. The 
sense of inexhaustible supply, of an ultra -human 
force behind it all, is, for a time, invincible. 

One assumes, with Mr. Saltus, that all America is 
in this vein, and that this is the way the future must 

42 



NEW YORK 

inevitably go. One has a vision of bright electrical 
subways, replacing the filth-diffusing railways of 
to-day, of clean, clear pavements free altogether from 
the fly-prolific filth of horses coming almost, as it 
were, of their own accord beneath the feet of a popu 
lation that no longer expectorates at all; of grimy 
stone and peeling paint giving way everywhere to 
white marble and spotless surfaces, and a shining 
order, of everything wider, taller, cleaner, better. . . . 
So that, in the meanwhile, a certain amount of 
jostling and -hurry and untidiness, and even to put 
it mildly forcefulness may be forgiven. 



in 

I VISITED Ellis Island yesterday. It 
us island chanced to be a good day for my pur 
pose. For the first time in its history 
this filter of immigrant humanity has this week 
proved inadequate to the demand upon it. It was 
choked, and half a score of gravid liners were lying 
uncomfortably up the harbor, replete with twenty 
thousand or so of crude Americans from Ireland and 
Poland and Italy and Syria and Finland and Al 
bania ; men, women, children, dirt, and bags together. 
Of immigration I shall have to write later ; what 
concerns me now is chiefly the wholesale and multi 
tudinous quality of that place and its work. I 
made my way with my introduction along white 

43 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

passages and through traps and a maze of metal 
lattices that did for a while succeed in catching and 
imprisoning me, to Commissioner Wachorn, in his 
quiet, green-toned office. There, for a time, I sat 
judicially and heard him deal methodically, swiftly, 
sympathetically, with case after case, a string of 
appeals against the sentences of deportation pro 
nounced in the busy little courts below. First would 
come one dingy and strangely garbed group of wild- 
eyed aliens, and then another: Roumanian gypsies, 
South Italians, Ruthenians, Swedes, each under the 
intelligent guidance of a uniformed interpreter, and 
a case would be started, a report made to Washing 
ton, and they would drop out again, hopeful or 
sullen or fearful as the evidence might trend. . . . 

Down-stairs we find the courts, and these seen, we 
traverse long refectories, long aisles of tables, and 
close - packed dormitories with banks of steel mat 
tresses, tier above tier, and galleries and passages 
innumerable, perplexing intricacy that slowly grows 
systematic with the Commissioner s explanations. 

Here is a huge, gray, untidy waiting-room, like a 
big railway-depot room, full of a sinister crowd of 
miserable people, loafing about or sitting dejectedly, 
whom America refuses, and here a second and a 
third such chamber each with its tragic and evil- 
looking crowd that hates us, and that even ventures 
to groan and hiss at us a little for our glimpse of its 
large dirty spectacle of hopeless failure, and here, 
squalid enough indeed, but still to some degree 

44 



NEW YORK 

hopeful, are the appeal cases as yet undecided. In 
one place, at a bank of ranges, works an army of 
men cooks, in another spins the big machinery of 
the Ellis Island laundry, washing blankets, drying 
blankets, day in and day out, a big clean steamy 
space of hurry and rotation. Then, I recall a neat 
apartment lined to the ceiling with little drawers, 
a card-index of the names and nationalities and sig 
nificant circumstances of upward of a million and a 
half of people who have gone on and who are yet 
liable to recall. 

The central hall is the key of this impression. 
All day long, through an intricate series of metal 
pens, the long procession files, step by step, bear 
ing bundles and trunks and boxes, past this examiner 
and that, past the quick, alert medical officers, the 
tallymen and the clerks. At every point immigrants 
are being picked out and set aside for further medical 
examination, for further questions, for the busy lit 
tle courts; but the main procession satisfies condi 
tions, passes on. It is a daily procession that, with 
a yard of space to each, would stretch over three 
miles, that any week in the year would more than 
equal in numbers that daily procession of the un 
employed that is becoming a regular feature of the 
London winter, that in a year could put a cordon 
round London or New York of close-marching peo 
ple, could populate a new Boston, that in a century 
What in a century will it all amount to ? ... 

On they go, from this pen to that, pen by pen, 

45 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

towards a desk at a little metal wicket the gate 
of America. Through this metal wicket drips the 
immigration stream all day long, every two or 
three seconds an immigrant, with a valise or a 
bundle, passes the little desk and goes on past the 
well-managed money-changing place, past the care 
fully organized separating ways that go to this rail 
way or that, past the guiding, protecting officials 
into a new world. The great majority are young 
men and young women, between seventeen and 
thirty, good, youthful, hopeful, peasant stock. They 
stand in a long string, waiting to go through that 
wicket, with bundles, with little tin boxes, with 
cheap portmanteaus, with odd packages, in pairs, 
in families, alone, women with children, men with 
strings of dependents, young couples. All day that 
string of human beads waits there, jerks forward, 
waits again; all day and every day, constantly re 
plenished, constantly dropping the end beads 
through the wicket, till the units mount to hundreds 
and the hundreds to thousands. . . . 

Yes, Ellis Island is quietly immense. It gives one 
a visible image of one aspect at least of this world- 
large process of filling and growing and synthesis, 
which is America. 

"Look there!" said the Commissioner, taking me 
by the arm and pointing, and I saw a monster 
steamship far away, and already a big bulk looming 
up the Narrows. "It s the Kaiser Wilhelm der 
Grosse. She s got I forget the exact figures, but 

46 



NEW YORK 

let us say eight hundred and fifty-three more for 
us. She ll have to keep them until Friday at the 
earliest. And there s more behind her, and more 
strung out all across the Atlantic." 

In one record day this month 21,000 immigrants 
came into the port of New York alone ; in one week 
over 50,000. This year the total will be 1,200,000 
souls, pouring in, finding work at once, producing no 
fall in wages. They start digging and building and 
making. Just think of the dimensions of it! 



IV 

ONE must get away from New York 
TO Fan River to see the place in its proper relations. 
I visited Staten Island and Jersey City, 
motored up to Sleepy Hollow (where once the Head 
less Horseman rode), saw suburbs and intimations 
of suburbs without end, and finished with the long 
and crowded spectacle of the East River as one sees 
it from the Fall River boat. It was Friday night, 
and the Fall River boat was in a state of fine con 
gestion with Jews, Italians, and week-enders, and 
one stood crowded and surveyed the crowded shore, 
the sky - scrapers and tenement - houses, the huge 
grain elevators, big warehouses, the great Brooklyn 
Bridge, the still greater Williamsburgh Bridge, the 
great promise of yet another monstrous bridge, 
overwhelmingly monstrous by any European ex- 

47 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

ample I know, and so past long miles of city to 
the left and to the right past the wide Brooklyn 
navy-yard (where three clean white war-ships lay 
moored), past the clustering castellated asylums, 
hospitals, almshouses and reformatories of Black- 
well s long shore and Ward s Island, and then 
through a long reluctant diminuendo on each re 
ceding bank, until, indeed, New York, though it 
seemed incredible, had done. 

And at one point a grave- voiced man in a peaked 
cap, with guide-books to sell, pleased me greatly by 
ending all idle talk suddenly with the stentorian 
announcement: "We are now in Hell Gate. We 
are now passing through Hell Gate!" 

But they ve blown Hell Gate open with dynamite, 
and it wasn t at all the Hell Gate that I read about 
in my boyhood in the delightful chronicle of Knick 
erbocker. 

So through an elbowing evening (to the tune of 
"Cavalleria Rusticana " on an irrepressible string 
band) and a night of unmitigated fog-horn to Bos 
ton, which I had been given to understand was a 
cultured and uneventful city offering great oppor 
tunities for reflection and intellectual digestion. 
And, indeed, the large quiet of Beacon Street, in the 
early morning sunshine, seemed to more than jus 
tify that expectation. . . . 



CHAPTER IV 
GROWTH INVINCIBLE 



BUT Boston did not propose that its 
less-assertive key should be misunder 
stood, and in a singularly short space 
of time I found myself climbing into a tremulous 
impatient motor-car in company with three enthu 
siastic exponents of the work of the Metropolitan 
Park Commission, and provided with a neatly 
tinted map, large and framed and glazed, to ex 
plore a fresh and more deliberate phase in this great 
American symphony, this symphony of Growth. 

If possible it is more impressive, even, than the 
crowded largeness of New York, to trace the serene 
preparation Boston has made through this Com 
mission to be widely and easily vast. New York s 
humanity has a curious air of being carried along 
upon a wave of irresistible prosperity, but Boston 
confesses design. I suppose no city in all the 
world (unless it be Washington) has ever produced 
so complete and ample a forecast of its own future 
as this Commission s plan of Boston. An area with 

40 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

a radius of between fifteen and twenty miles from 
the State House has been planned out and prepared 
for Growth. Great reservations of woodland and 
hill have been made, the banks of nearly all the 
streams and rivers and meres have been secured for 
public park and garden, for boating and other 
water sports big avenues of vigorous young trees; 
a hundred and fifty yards or so wide, with drive 
ways and ridingways and a central grassy band for 
electric tramways, have been prepared, and, indeed, 
the fair and ample and shady new Boston, the 
Boston of 1950, grows visibly before one s eyes. I 
found myself comparing the disciplined confidence 
of these proposals to the blind enlargement of Lon 
don; London, that like a bowl of viscid human fluid, 
boils sullenly over the rim of its encircling hills and 
slops messily and uglily into the home counties. I 
could not but contrast their large intelligence with 
the confused hesitations and waste and muddle of 
our English suburban developments. . . . 

There were moments, indeed, when it seemed too 
good to be true, and Mr. Sylvester Baxter, who was 
with me and whose faith has done so much to se 
cure this mapping out of a city s growth beyond all 
precedent, became the victim of my doubts. "Will 
this enormous space of sunlit woodland and marsh 
and meadow really be filled at any time?" I urged. 
"All cities do not grow. Cities have shrunken." 

I recalled Bruges. I recalled the empty, goat- 
sustaining, flower - rich meadows of Rome within 

50 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

the wall. What made him so sure of this pro 
gressive magnificence of Boston s growth? My 
doubts fell on stony soil. My companions seemed 
to think these scepticisms inopportune, a forced 
eccentricity, like doubting the coming of to-morrow. 
Of course Growth will go on. . . . 

The subject was changed by the sight of the fine 
marble buildings of the Harvard medical school, a 
shining facade partially eclipsed by several dingy 
and unsightly wooden houses. 

"These shanties will go, of course," says one of 
my companions. "It s proposed to take the 
avenue right across this space straight to the 
schools." 

"You ll have to fill the marsh, then, and buy the 
houses." 

"Sure.". . . 

I find myself comparing this huge growth process 
of America with the things in my own land. After 
all, this growth is no distinctive American thing; it 
is the same process anywhere only in America 
there are no disguises, no complications. Come to 
think of it, Birmingham and Manchester are as new 
as Boston newer; and London, south and east of 
the Thames, is, save for a little nucleus, more re 
cent than Chicago is in places, I am told, with its 
smoky disorder, its clattering ways, its brutality of 
industrial conflict, very like Chicago. But nowhere 
now is growth still so certainly and confidently 
going on as here. Nowhere is it upon so great a 

S 1 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

scale as here, and with so confident an outlook tow 
ards the things to come. And nowhere is it pass 
ing more certainly from the first phase of a mob- 
like rush of individualistic undertakings into a 
planned and ordered progress. 



ii 

EVERYWHERE in the America I have 
The Ba*/*^ seen the same note sounds, the note 
of a fatal gigantic economic develop 
ment, of large prevision and enormous pressures. 

I heard it clear above the roar of Niagara for, 
after all, I stopped off at Niagara. 

As a water-fall, Niagara s claim to distinction is 
now mainly quantitative; its spectacular effect, its 
magnificent and humbling size and splendor, were 
long since destroyed beyond recovery by the hotels, 
the factories, the power-houses, the bridges and 
tramways and hoardings that arose about it. It 
must have been a fine thing to happen upon sud 
denly after a day of solitary travel; the Indians, 
they say, gave it worship; but it s no great wonder 
to reach it by trolley-car, through a street hack- 
infested and full of adventurous refreshment-places 
and souvenir-shops and the touting guides. There 
were great quantities of young couples and other 
sight-seers with the usual encumbrances of wrap 
and bag and umbrella, trailing out across the 

5 2 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

bridges and along the neat paths of the Reservation 
Parks, asking the way to this point and that. No 
tice boards cut the eye, offering extra joys and 
memorable objects for twenty-five and fifty cents, 
and it was proposed you should keep off the grass. 

After all, the gorge of Niagara is very like any 
good gorge in the Ardennes, except that it has 
more water; it s about as wide and about as deep, 
and there is no effect at all that one has not seen 
a dozen times in other cascades. One gets all the 
water one wants at Tivoli, one has gone behind half 
a hundred downpours just as impressive in Switzer 
land; a hundred tons of water is really just as 
stunning as ten million. A hundred tons of water 
stuns one altogether, and what more do you want? 
One recalls "Orridos" and "Schluchts" that are 
not only magnificent but lonely. 

No doubt the Falls, seen from the Canadian side, 
have a peculiar long majesty of effect; but the finest 
thing in it all, to my mind, was not Niagara at all, 
but to look up-stream from Goat Island and see 
the sea-wide crest of the flashing sunlit rapids 
against the gray-blue sky. That was like a limit 
less ocean pouring down a sloping world towards 
one, and I lingered, held by that, returning to it 
through an indolent afternoon. It gripped the 
imagination as nothing else there seemed to do. It 
was so broad an infinitude of splash and hurry. 
And, moreover, all the enterprising hotels and ex 
pectant trippers were out of sight. 

53 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

That was the best of the display. The real in 
terest of Niagara for me, was not in the water-fall 
but in the human accumulations about it. They 
stood for the future, threats and promises, and the 
water- fall was just a vast reiteration of falling water. 
The note of growth in human accomplishment rose 
clear and triumphant above the elemental thunder. 

For the most part these accumulations of human 
effort about Niagara are extremely defiling and 
ugly. Nothing not even the hotel signs and ad 
vertisement boards could be more offensive to 
the eye and mind than the Schoellkopf Company s 
untidy confusion of sheds and buildings on the 
American side, wastefully squirting out long, tail- 
race cascades below the bridge, and nothing more 
disgusting than the sewer-pipes and gas-work ooze 
that the town of Niagara Falls contributes to the 
scenery. But, after all, these represent only the 
first slovenly onslaught of mankind s expansion, the 
pioneers camp of the human-growth process that 
already changes its quality and manner. There 
are finer things than these outrages to be found. 

The dynamos and turbines of the Niagara Falls 
Power Company, for example, impressed me far 
more profoundly than the Cave of the Winds; are, 
indeed, to my mind, greater and more beautiful than 
that accidental eddying of air beside a downpour. 
They are will made visible, thought translated into 
easy and commanding things. They are clean, 
noiseless, and starkly powerful. All the clatter and 

54 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

tumult of the early age of machinery is past and 
gone here; there is no smoke, no coal grit, no dirt 
at all. The wheel-pit into which one descends has 
an almost cloistered quiet about its softly humming 
turbines. These are altogether noble masses of 
machinery, huge black slumbering monsters, great 
sleeping tops that engender irresistible forces in 
their sleep. They sprang, armed like Minerva, 
from serene and speculative, foreseeing and en 
deavoring brains. First was the word and then 
these po\vers. A man goes to and fro quietly in 
the long, clean hall of the dynamos. There is no 
clangor, no racket. Yet the outer rim of the big 
generators is spinning at the pace of a hundred 
thousand miles an hour; the dazzling clean switch 
board, with its little handles and levers, is the seat 
of empire over more power than the strength of a 
million disciplined, unquestioning men. All these 
great things are as silent, as wonderfully made, as 
the heart in a living body, and stouter and stronger 
than that. . . . 

When I thought that these two huge wheel-pits 
of this company are themselves but a little intima 
tion of what can be done in this way, what will be 
done in this way, my imagination towered above 
me. I fell into a day-dream of the coming power 
of men, and how that power may be used by 
them. . . . 

For surely the greatness of life is still to come, it 
is not in such accidents as mountains or the sea. I 
5 55 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

have seen the splendor of the mountains, sunrise 
and sunset among them, and the waste immensity 
of sky and sea. I am not blind because I can see 
beyond these glories. To me no other thing is 
credible than that all the natural beauty in the 
world is only so much material for the imagination 
and the mind, so many hints and suggestions for 
art and creation. Whatever is, is but the lure and 
symbol towards what can be willed and done. Man 
lives to make in the end he must make, for there 
will be nothing else left for him to do. 

And the world he will make after a thousand 
years or so! 

I, at least, can forgive the loss of all the acci 
dental, unmeaning beauty that is going for the sake 
of the beauty of fine order and intention that will 
come. I believe passionately, as a doubting lover 
believes in his mistress in the future of man 
kind. And so to me it seems altogether well that 
all the froth and hurry of Niagara at last, all of 
it, dying into hungry canals of intake, should 
rise again in light and power, in ordered and equip 
ped and proud and beautiful humanity, in cities 
and palaces and the emancipated souls and hearts 
of men. . . . 

I turned back to look at the power-house as I 
walked towards the Falls, and halted and stared. 
Its architecture brought me out of my day-dream 
to the quality of contemporary things again. It s 
a well-intentioned building enough, extraordinarily 

56 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

well intentioned, and regardless of expense. It s 
in granite and by Stanford White, and yet It 
hasn t caught the note. There s a touch of respect 
ability in it, more than a hint of the box of bricks. 
Odd, but I d almost as soon have had one of the 
Schoellkopf sheds. 

A community that can produce such things as 
those turbines and dynamos, and then cover them 
over with this dull exterior, is capable, one real 
izes, of feats of bathos. One feels that all the 
power that throbs in the copper cables below may 
end at last in turning Great Wheels for excur 
sionists, stamping out aluminum "fancy" ware, 
and illuminating night advertisements for drug 
shops and music halls. I had an afternoon of busy 
doubts. . . . 

There is much discussion about Niagara at 
present. It may be some queer compromise, based 
on the pretence that a voluminous water - fall 
is necessarily a thing of incredible beauty, and 
a human use is necessarily a degrading use, will 
"save" Niagara and the hack -drivers and the 
souvenir-shops for series of years yet, "a magnifi 
cent monument to the pride of the United States 
in a glory of nature," as one journalistic savior 
puts it. It is, as public opinion stands, a quite 
conceivable thing. This electric development may 
be stopped after all, and the huge fall of water 
remain surrounded by gravel paths and parapets 
and geranium-beds, a staring-point for dull won- 

57 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

der, a crown for a day s excursion, a thunderous 
impressive accessory to the vulgar love - making 
that fills the surrounding hotels, a Titanic im 
becility of wasted gifts. But I don t think so. 
I think somebody will pay something, and the 
journalistic zeal for scenery abate. I think the 
huge social and industrial process of America will 
win in this conflict, and at last capture Niagara 
altogether. 

And then what use will it make of its prey ? 



in 

IN smoky, vast, undisciplined Chicago 
T c e hkago f Growth forced itself upon me again as 
the dominant American fact, but this 
time a dark disorder of growth. I went about 
Chicago seeing many things of which I may say 
something later. I visited the top of the Masonic 
Building and viewed a wilderness of sky-scrapers. 
I acquired a felt of memories of swing bridges and 
viaducts and interlacing railways and jostling 
crowds and extraordinarily dirty streets, I learnt 
something of the mystery of the "floating founda 
tions" upon which so much of Chicago rests. But 
I got my best vision of Chicago as I left it. 

I sat in the open observation- car at the end of 
the Pennsylvania Limited Express, and watched 
the long defile of industrialism from the Union 
Station in the heart of things to out beyond South 

58 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

Chicago, a dozen miles away. I had not gone to the 
bloody spectacle of the stock-yards that "feed the 
world," because, to be frank, I have an immense re 
pugnance to the killing of fixed and helpless ani 
mals ; I saw nothing of those ill-managed, ill-inspected 
establishments, though I smelt the unwholesome 
reek from them ever and again, and so it was here 
I saw for the first time the enormous expanse and 
intricacy of railroads that net this great industrial 
desolation, and something of the going and coming 
of the -myriads of polyglot workers. Chicago burns 
bituminous coal, it has a reek that outdoes London, 
and right and left of the line rise vast chimneys, 
huge blackened grain-elevators, flame-crowned fur 
naces and gauntly ugly and filthy factory build 
ings, monstrous mounds of refuse, desolate, empty 
lots littered with rusty cans, old iron, and indescrib 
able rubbish. Interspersed with these are groups 
of dirty, disreputable, insanitary - looking wooden 
houses. 

We swept along the many-railed track, and the 
straws and scraps of paper danced in our eddy as 
we passed. We overtook local trains and they re 
ceded slowly in the great perspective, huge freight- 
trains met us or were overtaken; long trains of 
doomed cattle passed northward; solitary engines 
went by every engine tolling a melancholy bell; 
open trucks crowded with workmen went cityward. 
By the side of the track, and over the level crossings, 
walked great numbers of people. So it goes on 

59 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

mile after mile Chicago. The sun was now bright, 
now pallid through some streaming curtain of smoke ; 
the spring afternoon was lit here and again by the 
gallant struggle of some stunted tree with a rare 
and startling note of new green. . . . 

It was like a prolonged, enlarged mingling of the 
south side of London with all that is bleak and ugly 
in the Black Country. It is the most perfect pres 
entation of nineteenth - century individualistic in 
dustrialism I have ever seen in its vast, its magnifi 
cent squalor; it is pure nineteenth century; it had 
no past at all before that; in 1800 it was empty 
prairie, and one marvels for its future. It is indeed 
a nineteenth-century nightmare that culminates be 
yond South Chicago in the monstrous fungoid shapes, 
the endless smoking chimneys, the squat retorts, 
the black smoke pall of the Standard Oil Com 
pany. For a time the sun is veiled altogether by 
that. . . . 

And then suddenly Chicago is a dark smear under 
the sky, and we are in the large emptiness of Ameri 
ca, the other America America in between. 



IV 

" UNDISCIPLINED" that is the word 
or Chicago. It is the word for all the 
progress of the Victorian time, a scram 
bling, ill-mannered, undignified, unintelligent de- 

60 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

velopment of material resources. Packing- town, 
for example, is a place that feeds the world with 
meat, that concentrates the produce of a splendid 
countryside at a position of imperial advantage, 
and its owners have no more sense, no better moral 
quality, than to make it stink in the nostrils of any 
one who comes within two miles of it; to make it 
a centre of distribution for disease and decay, an 
arena of shabby evasions and extra profits; a scene 
of brutal economic conflict and squalid filthiness, 
offensive to every sense. (I wish I could catch the 
soul of Herbert Spencer and tether it in Chicago for 
awhile to gather fresh evidence upon the superiority 
of unfettered individualistic enterprises to things 
managed by the state.) 

Want of discipline ! Chicago is one hoarse cry for 
discipline ! The reek and scandal of the stock-yards 
is really only a gigantic form of that same quality 
in American life that, in a minor aspect, makes the 
sidewalk filthy. The key to the peculiar nasty ug 
liness of those Schoellkopf works that defile the 
Niagara gorge is the same quality. The detestable- 
ness of the Elevated railroads of Chicago and Boston 
and New York have this in common. All that is 
ugly in America, in Lancashire, in South and East 
London, in the Pas de Calais, is due to this, to the 
shoving unintelligent proceedings of underbred and 
morally obtuse men. Each man is for himself, each 
enterprise; there is no order, no prevision, no com 
mon and universal plan. Modern economic organi- 

61 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

zation is still as yet only thinking of emerging from 
its first chaotic stage, the stage of lawless enterprise 
and insanitary aggregation, the stage of the pros 
pector s camp. . . . 

But it does emerge. 

Men are makers American men, I think, more 
than most men and amidst even the catastrophic 
jumble of Chicago one finds the same creative forces 
at work that are struggling to replan a greater Bos 
ton, and that turned a waste of dumps and swamps 
and cabbage-gardens into Central Park, New York. 
Chicago also has its Parks Commission and its green 
avenues, its bright flower-gardens, its lakes and 
playing-fields. Its Midway Plaisance is in amazing 
contrast with the dirt, the congestion, the moral 
disorder of its State Street; its Field Houses do 
visible battle with slum and the frantic meanness of 
commercial folly. 

Field Houses are peculiar to Chicago, and Chicago 
has every reason to be proud of them. I visited one 
that is positively within smell of the stock- yards and 
wedged into a district of gaunt and dirty slums. It 
stands in the midst of a little park, and close by it 
are three playing-grounds with swings and parallel 
bars and all manner of athletic appliances, one for 
little children, one for girls and women, and one 
for boys and youths. In the children s place is a 
paddling-pond of clear, clean, running water and a 
shaded area of frequently changed sand, and in the 
park was a broad asphalted arena that can be flooded 

62 




STATE STREET. CHICAGO 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

for skating in winter. All this is free to all comers, 
and free too is the Field House itself. This is a 
large, cool Italianate place with two or three reading- 
rooms one specially arranged for children a big 
discussion-hall, a big and well-equipped gymnasium, 
and big, free baths for men and for women. There 
is also a clean, bright refreshment-place where whole 
some food is sold just above cost price. It was early 
on Friday afternoon when I saw it all, but the place 
was busy with children, reading, bathing, playing in 
a hundred different ways. 

And this Field House is not an isolated philan 
thropic enterprise. It is just one of a number that 
are dotted about Chicago, mitigating and civilizing 
its squalor. It was not distilled by begging and 
charity from the stench of the stock-yards or the 
reek of Standard Oil. It is part of the normal work 
of a special taxing body created by the legislature 
of the State of Illinois. It is just one of the fruits 
upon one of the growths that spring from such per 
sistent creative efforts as that of the Chicago City 
Club. It is socialism even as its enemies de 
clare. . . . 

Even amidst the sombre uncleanliness of Chicago 
one sees the light of a new epoch, the coming of new 
conceptions, of foresight, of large collective plans 
and discipline to achieve them, the fresh green 
leaves, among all the festering manure, of the 
giant growths of a more orderly and more beautiful 
age. 

63 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 



THESE growing towns, these giant 
Pennsylvania towns that grow up and out, that 
grow orderly and splendid out of their 
first chaotic beginnings, are only little patches upon 
a vast expanse, upon what is still of all habit 
able countries the emptiest country in the world. 
My long express journey from Chicago to Washing 
ton lasted a day and a night and more, I could get 
sooner from my home in Kent to Italy, and yet that 
was still well under a third of the way across the 
continent. I spent most of my daylight time in 
the fine and graceful open loggia at the end of the 
observation-car or in looking out of the windows, 
looking at hills and valleys, townships and quiet 
places, sudden busy industrial outbreaks about coal 
mine or metal, big undisciplined rivers that spread 
into swamp and lake, new forest growths, very 
bright and green now, foaming up above blackened 
stumps. There were many cypress-trees and trees 
with white blossom and the Judas-tree, very abun 
dant among the spring-time green. I got still more 
clearly the enormous scale of this American destiny 
I seek to discuss, through all that long and interest 
ing day of transit. I measured, as it seemed to me 
for the first time, the real scale of the growth proc 
ess that has put a four - track road nine hundred 
miles across this exuberant land and scarred every 
available hill with furnace and mine. 

64 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

Bigness that s the word! The very fields and 
farm-buildings seem to me to have four times the 
size of our English farms. 

Some casual suggestion of the wayside, I forget 
now what, set me thinking of the former days, so 
recent that they are yet within the lifetime of living 
men, when this was frontier land, when even the 
middle west remained to be won. I thought of the 
slow diffusing population of the forties, the pioneer 
wagon, the men armed with axe and rifle, knife and 
revolver, the fear of the Indians, the weak and 
casual incidence of law. Then the high-road was 
but a prairie track and all these hills and hidden 
minerals unconquered fastnesses that might, it 
seemed, hold out for centuries before they gave 
their treasure. How quickly things had come! 
"Progress, progress," murmured the wheels, and I 
began to make this steady, swift, and shiningly 
equipped train a figure, just as I had made the 
Carmania a figure of that big onward sweep that 
is moving us all together. It was not a noisy train, 
after the English fashion, nor did the cars sway 
and jump after the habit of our lighter coaches, but 
the air was full of deep, triumphant rhythms. " It 
goes on," I said, "invincibly," and even as the 
thought was in my head, the brakes set up a dron 
ing, a vibration ran through the train and we slowed 
and stopped. A minute passed, and then we rum 
bled softly back to a little trestle-bridge and stood 
there. 

65 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

I got up, looked from the window, and then went 
to the platform at the end of the train. I found 
two men, a passenger and a colored parlor-car at 
tendant. The former was on the bottom step of 
the car, the latter was supplying him with infor 
mation. 

"His head s still in the water," he remarked. 

"Whose head?" said I. 

" A man we ve killed," said he. " We caught him 
in the trestle-bridge." 

I descended a step, craned over my fellow-pas 
senger, and saw a little group standing curiously 
about the derelict thing that had been a living man 
three minutes before. It was now a crumpled, 
dark-stained blue blouse, a limply broken arm with 
hand askew, trousered legs that sprawled quaintly, 
and a pair of heavy boots, lying in the sunlit fresh 
grass by the water below the trestle-bridge. . . . 

A man on the line gave inadequate explanations. 
"He d have been all right if he hadn t come over 
this side," he said. 

"Who was he?" said I. 

"One of these Eyetalians on the line," he said, 
and turned away. The train bristled now with a 
bunch of curiosity at every car end, and even win 
dows were opened. . . . 

Presently it was intimated to us by a whistle and 
the hasty return of men to the cars that the inci 
dent had closed. We began to move forward again, 
crept up to speed. . . . 

66 



GROWTH INVINCIBLE 

But I could not go on with my conception of the 
train as a symbol of human advancement. That 
crumpled blue blouse and queerly careless legs 
would get into the picture and set up all sorts of 
alien speculations. I thought of distant north 
Italian valleys and brown boys among the vines 
and goats, of the immigrants who had sung remotely 
to me out of the Carmania s steerage, of the hope 
ful bright-eyed procession of the new-comers through 
Ellis Island wicket, of the regiments of workers the 
line had shown me, and I told myself a tale of this 
Italian s journey to the land of promise, this land 
of gigantic promises. . . . 

For a time the big spectacle of America about me 
took on a quality of magnificent infidelity. . . . 

And by reason of this incident my last Image of 
Material Progress thundered into Washington sta 
tion five minutes behind its scheduled time. 



CHAPTER V 
THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 



LET me try now and make some sort 
A B view~ Eve of general picture of the American 
nation as it impresses itself upon me. 
It is, you will understand, the vision of a hurried 
bird of passage, defective and inaccurate at every 
point of detail, but perhaps for my present purpose 
not so very much the worse for that. The fact that I 
am transitory and bring a sort of theorizing naivete 
to this review is just what gives me the chance to re 
mark these obvious things the habituated have for 
gotten. I have already tried to render something 
of the effect of huge unrestrained growth and ma 
terial progress that America first gives one, and I 
have pointed out that so far America seems to me 
only to refresh an old impression, to give starkly 
and startlingly what is going on everywhere, what 
is indeed as much in evidence in Birkenhead or 
Milan or London or Calcutta, a huge extension 
of human power and the scale of human opera 
tions. This growth was elaborated in the physical 

68 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

and chemical laboratories and the industrial ex 
periments of the eighteenth and early nineteenth 
century, and chiefly in Europe. The extension it 
self is nothing typically American. Nevertheless 
America now shows it best. America is most un 
der the stress and urgency of it, resonates most 
readily and loudly to its note. 

The long distances of travel, and the sense of 
isolation between place and place, the remoteness 
verging upon inaudibility of Washington in Chicago, 
of Chicago in Boston, the vision I have had of 
America from observation cars and railroad win 
dows brings home to me more and more that this 
huge development of human appliances and re 
sources is here going on in a community that is 
still, for all the dense crowds of New York, the 
teeming congestion of the East Side, extraordinarily 
scattered. America, one recalls, is still an unoccu 
pied country, across which the latest developments of 
civilization are rushing. We are dealing here with 
a continuous area of land which is, leaving Alaska 
out of account altogether, equal to Great Britain, 
France, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Holland, Spain and 
Portugal, Sweden and Norway, Turkey in Europe, 
Egypt and the whole Empire of India, and the popu 
lation spread out over this vast space is still less 
than the joint population of the first two countries 
named and not a quarter that of India. Moreover, 
it is not spread at all evenly. Much of it is in un- 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

distributed clots. It is not upon the soil, barely half 
of it is in holdings and homes and authentic commu 
nities. It is a population of an extremely modern 
type. Urban concentration has already gone far with 
it ; fifteen millions of it are crowded into and about 
twenty great cities, other eighteen millions make up 
five hundred towns. Between these centres of popu 
lation run railways indeed, telegraph wires, telephone 
connections, tracks of various sorts, but to the 
European eye these are mere scratchings on a 
virgin surface. An empty wilderness manifests it 
self through this thin network of human con 
veniences, appears in the meshes even at the rail 
road side. Essentially America is still an unsettled 
land, with only a few incidental good roads in 
favored places, with no universal police, with no 
wayside inns where a civilized man may rest, with 
still only the crudest of rural postal deliveries, with 
long stretches of swamp and forest and desert by 
the track side, still unassailed by industry. This 
much one sees clearly enough eastward of Chicago. 
Westward, I am told, it becomes more and more 
the fact. In Idaho at last, comes the untouched 
and perhaps invincible desert, plain and continu 
ous through the long hours of travel. Huge areas 
do not contain one human being to the square 
mile, still vaster portions fall short of two. . . . 

And this community, to which material progress 
is bringing such enormous powers, and that is 
knotted so densely here and there, and is otherwise 

70 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

so attenuated a veil over the huge land surface, is, as 
Professor Miinsterberg points out, in spite of vast 
and increasing masses of immigrants still a curiously 
homogeneous one, homogeneous in the spirit of its 
activities and speaking a common tongue. It is sus 
tained by certain economic conventions, inspired 
throughout by certain habits, certain trends of sug 
gestion, certain phrases and certain interpretations 
that collectively make up what one may call the 
American Idea. To the process of enlargement and 
diffusion and increase and multiplying resources, we 
must now bring the consideration of the social and 
economic process that is going on. What is the 
form of that process as one finds it in America? 
An English Tory will tell you promptly, "a scramble 
for dollars." A good American will tell you it is 
self realization under equality of opportunity. The 
English Tory will probably allege that that amounts 
to the same thing. 
Let us look into that. 



II 

ONE contrast between America and 
the old world I had in mind before 
ever I crossed the Atlantic, and now it 
comes before me very vividly, returns reinforced 
by a hundred little things observed and felt. The 
contrast consists in the almost complete absence 

6 7 I 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

from the normal American scheme, of certain im 
memorial factors in the social structure of our 
European nations. 

In the first place, every European nation except 
the English is rooted to the soil by a peasantry, and 
even in England one still finds the peasant repre 
sented, in most of his features by those sons of dis 
possessed serf - peasants, the agricultural laborers. 
Here in America, except in the regions where the 
negro abounds, there is no lower stratum, no "soil 
people," to this community at all; your bottom 
most man is a mobile free man who can read, and 
who has ideas above digging and pigs and poultry 
keeping, except incidentally for his own ends. No 
one owns to subordination. As a consequence, any 
position which involves the acknowledgment of an 
innate inferiority is difficult to fill; there is, from 
the European point of view, an extraordinary 
dearth of servants, and this endures in spite of a 
great peasant immigration. The servile tradition 
will not root here now, it dies in this soil. An 
enormous importation of European serfs and peas 
ants goes on, but as they touch this soil their backs 
begin to stiffen with a new assertion. 

And at the other end of the scale, also, one misses 
an element. There is no territorial aristocracy, no 
aristocracy at all, no throne, no legitimate and ac 
knowledged representative of that upper social 
structure of leisure, power, State responsibility, 
which in the old European theory of society was 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

supposed to give significance to the whole. The 
American community, one cannot too clearly in 
sist, does not correspond to an entire European 
community at all, but only to the middle masses of 
it, to the trading and manufacturing class between 
the dimensions of the magnate and the clerk and 
skilled artisan. It is the central part of the Euro 
pean organism without either the dreaming head or 
the subjugated feet. Even the highly feudal 
slave-holding "county family" traditions of Vir 
ginia and the South pass now out of memory. So 
that in a very real sense the past of this American 
community is in Europe, and the settled order of 
the past is left behind there. This community was, 
as it were, taken off its roots, clipped of its branches 
and brought hither. It began neither serf nor lord, 
but burgher and farmer, it followed the normal de 
velopment of the middle class under Progress every 
where and became capitalistic. Essentially America 
is a middle-class become a community and so its 
essential problems are the problems of a modern 
individualistic society, stark and clear, unhampered 
and unilluminated by any feudal traditions either 
at its crest or at its base. 

It would be interesting and at first o,r^ly very 
slightly misleading to pursue the rough contrast of 
American and English conditions upon these lines. 
It is not difficult to show for example, that the two 
great political parties in America represent only 
one English party, the middle-class Liberal party, 

73 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

the party of industrialism and freedom. There are 
no Tories to represent the feudal system, and no 
Labor party. It is history, it is no mere ingenious 
gloss upon history, that the Tories, the party of the 
crown, of the high gentry and control, of mitigated 
property and an organic state, vanished from 
America at the Revolution. They left the new 
world to the Whigs and Nonconformists and to 
those less constructive, less logical, more popular 
and liberating thinkers who became Radicals in 
England, and Jeffersonians and then Democrats in 
America. All Americans are, from the English 
point of view, Liberals of one sort or another. You 
will find a fac-simile of the Declaration of Inde 
pendence displayed conspicuously and trium 
phantly beside Magna Charter in the London Re 
form Club, to carry out this suggestion. 

But these fascinating parallelisms will lead away 
from the chief argument in hand, which is that the 
Americans started almost clear of the medieval 
heritage, and developed in the utmost purity if 
you like or simplicity or crudeness, whichever 
you will, the modern type of productive social 
organization. They took the economic conven 
tions that were modern and progressive at the 
end of the eighteenth century and stamped them 
into the Constitution as if they meant to stamp 
them there for all time. In England you can still 
find feudalism, medievalism, the Renascence, at 
every turn. America is pure eighteenth century 

74 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

still crystallizing out from a turbid and troubled 
solution. 

To turn from any European state to America is, 
in these matters anyhow, to turn from complica 
tion to a stark simplicity. The relationship be 
tween employer and employed, between organizer 
and worker, between capital and labor, which in 
England is qualified and mellowed and disguised 
and entangled with a thousand traditional attitudes 
and subordinations, stands out sharply in a bleak 
cold rationalism. There is no feeling that property, 
privilege, honor, and a grave liability to official pub 
lic service ought to go together, none that uncriti 
cal obedience is a virtue in a worker or that sub 
ordination carries with it not only a sense of service 
but a claim for help. Coming across the Atlantic 
has in these matters an effect of coming out of an 
iridescent fog into a clear bright air. 

This homologization of the whole American social 
mass, not with the whole English social mass, but 
with its "modern" classes, its great middle portion, 
and of its political sides with the two ingredients of 
English Liberalism, goes further than a rough par 
allel. An Englishman who, like myself, has been 
bred and who has lived all his life either in London, 
with its predominant West -End, or the southern 
counties with their fair large estates and the great 
country houses, is constantly being reminded, when 
he meets manufacturing and business men from 
Birmingham or Lancashire, of Americans, and when 

75 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

he meets Americans, of industrial North - country 
people. There is more push and less tacit assump 
tion, more definition, more displayed energy and 
less restraint, more action and less subtlety, more 
enterprise and self-assertion than there is in the 
typical Englishman of London and the home coun 
ties. The American carries on the contrast fur 
ther, it is true, and his speech is not northernly, 
but marked by the accent of Hampshire or East 
Anglia, and better and clearer than his English 
equivalent s; but one feels the two are of the same 
stuff, nevertheless, and made by parallel conditions. 
The liberalism of the eighteenth century, the ma 
terial progress of the nineteenth have made them 
both out of the undifferentiated Stuart English* 
man. And they are the same in their attitude 
towards property and social duty, individualists to 
the marrow. But the one grew inside a frame of 
regal, aristocratic, and feudal institutions, and has 
chafed against it, struggled with it, modified it, 
strained it, and been modified by it, but has re 
mained within it ; the other broke it and escaped to 
complete self-development. 

The liberalism of the eighteenth century was es 
sentially the rebellion of the modern industrial or 
ganization against the monarchial and aristocratic 
State, against hereditary privilege, against restric 
tions upon bargains whether they were hard bar 
gains or not. Its spirit was essentially Anarchistic, 
the antithesis of Socialism. It was the anti-State. 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

It aimed not only to liberate men but property 
from State control. Its most typical expressions, 
the Declaration of Independence, and the French 
Declaration of the Rights of Man, are zealously em 
phatic for the latter interest for the sacredness of 
contracts and possessions. Post Reformation lib 
eralism did to a large extent let loose property up 
on mankind. The English Civil War of the seven 
teenth century, like the American revolution of the 
eighteenth, embodied essentially the triumphant 
refusal of private property to submit to taxation 
without consent. In England the result was tem 
pered and qualified, security for private property 
was achieved, but not cast-iron security; each man 
who had property became king of that property, 
but only a constitutional and conditional king. In 
America the victory of private property was com 
plete. Let one instance suffice to show how de 
cisively it was established that individual property 
and credit and money were sacred. Ten years ago 
the Supreme Court, trying a case arising out of the 
General Revenue tax of 1894, decided that a gradu 
ated income-tax, such as the English Parliament 
might pass to-morrow, can never be levied upon 
the United States nation without a change in the 
Constitution, which can be effected only by a vote 
of two-thirds of both Houses of Congress as an in 
itiative, and this must be ratified either by the leg 
islatures of three-fourths of the States, or by special 
conventions representing three-fourths of the States 

77 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

The fundamental law of the States forbids any such 
invasion of the individual s ownership. No national 
income-tax is legal, and there is practically no power, 
short of revolution, to alter that. . . . 

Could anything be more emphatic? That tall 
Liberty with its spiky crown that stands in New 
York Harbor and casts an electric flare upon the 
world, is, indeed, the liberty of Property, and there 
she stands at the Zenith. , 



in 

Now the middle-class of the English 
li?d Some population and the whole population 

Protests f M 

of America that matters at all when we 
discuss ideas, is essentially an emancipated class, a 
class that has rebelled against superimposed privi 
lege and honor, and achieved freedom for its indi 
viduals and their property. Without property its 
freedom is a featureless and unsubstantial theory, 
and so it relies for the reality of life upon that, upon 
the possession and acquisition and development of 
property, that is to say upon "business." That 
is the quality of its life. 

Everywhere in the modern industrial and com 
mercial class this deep-lying feeling that the State 
is something escaped from, has worked out to the 
same mental habit of social irresponsibility, and 
in America it has worked unimpeded. Patriotism 

78 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

has become a mere national self-assertion, a sen 
timentality of flag cheering, with no constructive 
duties. Law, social justice, the pride and preserva 
tion of the state as a whole are taken as provided 
for before the game began, and one devotes one 
self to business. At business all men are held to 
be equal, and none is his brother s keeper. 

All men are equal at the great game of business. 
You try for the best of each bargain and so does 
your opponent ; if you chance to have more in your 
hand than he well, that s your advantage, and you 
use it. Presently he may have more than you. 
You take care he doesn t if you can, but you play 
fair except for the advantage in your hand; you 
play fair and hard. 

Now this middle -class equality ultimately de 
stroys itself. Out of this conflict of equals, and by 
virtue of the fact that property, like all sorts of 
matter, does tend to gravitate towards itself when 
ever it is free, there emerge the modern rich and 
the modern toiler. 

One can trace the process in two or three gen 
erations in Lancashire or the Potteries, or any in 
dustrial region of England. One sees first the early 
Lancashire industrialism, sees a district of cotton- 
spinners more or less equal together, small men all; 
then come developments, comes a state of ideally 
free competition with some men growing large, with 
most men dropping into employment, but still with 
ample chances for an industrious young man to 

79 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

end as a prosperous master; and so through a 
steady growth in the size of the organization to the 
present opposition of an employer class in posses 
sion of everything, almost inaccessibly above, and 
an employed class below. The railways come, and 
the wealthy class reaches out to master these new 
enterprises, capitalistic from the outset. . . . 

America is simply repeating the history of the 
Lancashire industrialism on a gigantic scale, and 
under an enormous variety of forms. 

But in England, as the modern Rich rise up, they 
come into a world of gentry with a tradition of 
public service and authority ; they learn one by one 
and assimilate themselves to the legend of the 
" governing class" with a sense of proprietorship 
which is also, in its humanly limited way, a sense 
of duty to the state. They are pseudomorphs after 
aristocrats. They receive honors, they inter-marry, 
they fall (and their defeated competitors too fall) 
into the mellowed relationships of an aristocratic 
system. That is not a permanent mutual attitude ; 
it does, however, mask and soften the British out 
line. Industrialism becomes quasi-feudal. America, 
on the other hand, had no effectual "governing 
class," there has been no such modification, no 
clouding of the issue. Its Rich, to one s superficial 
inspection, do seem to lop out, swell up into an im 
mense consumption and power and inanity, de 
velop no sense of public duties, remain winners of a 
strange game they do not criticise, concerned now 

80 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

only to hold and intensify their winnings. The 
losers accept no subservience. That material prog 
ress, that secular growth in scale of all modern 
enterprises, widens the gulf between Owner and 
Worker daily. More and more do men realize that 
this game of free competition and unrestricted 
property does not go on for ever ; it is a game that 
first in this industry and then in that, and at last 
in all, can be played out and is being played out. 
Property becomes organized, consolidated, con 
centrated, and secured. This is the fact to which 
America is slowly awaking at the present time. 
The American community is discovering a secular 
extinction of opportunity, and the appearance of 
powers against which individual enterprise and 
competition are hopeless. Enormous sections of 
the American public are losing their faith in any 
personal chance of growing rich and truly free, and 
are developing the consciousness of an expropriated 
class. 

This realization has come slowlier in America 
than in Europe, because of the enormous unde 
veloped resources of America. So long as there 
was an unlimited extent of unappropriated and 
unexplored land westward, so long could tension be 
relieved by so simple an injunction as Horace 
Greeley s, "Go West, young man; go West." And 
to-day, albeit that is no longer true of the land, 
and there are already far larger concentrations of 
individual possessions in the United States of 

81 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

America than anywhere else in the world, yet so 
vast are their continental resources that it still re 
mains true that nowhere in the world is proper 
ty so widely diffused. Consider the one fact that 
America can take in three-quarters of a million of 
workers in one year without producing a perceptible 
fall in wages, and you will appreciate the scale 
upon which things are measured here, the scale by 
which even Mr. J. D. Rockefeller s billion dollars 
becomes no more than a respectable but by no 
means overwhelming "pile." For all these con 
centrations, the western farmers still own their 
farms, and it is the rule rather than the exception 
for a family to possess the freehold of the house it 
lives in. But the process of concentration goes on 
nevertheless is going on now perceptibly to the 
American mind. That it has not gone so far as in 
the European instance it is a question of size, just 
as the gestation of an elephant takes longer than 
that of a mouse. If the process is larger and 
slower, it is, for the reasons I have given, plainer, 
and it will be discussed and dealt with plainly. 
That steady trend towards concentration under in 
dividualistic rules, until individual competition be 
comes disheartened and hopeless, is the essential 
form of the economic and social process in America 
as I see it now, and it has become the cardinal topic 
of thought and discussion in the American mind. 

This realization has been reached after the most 
curious hesitation. There is every reason for this; 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

for it involves the contradiction of much that seems 
fundamental in the American idea. It amounts 
to a national change of attitude. It is a con 
scious change of attitude that is being deliberately 
made. 

This slow reluctant process of disillusionment 
with individualism is interestingly traceable through 
the main political innovations of the last twenty 
years. There was the discovery in the east that 
the supply of land was not limitless, and we had 
the Single Tax movement, and the epoch of the 
first Mr. Henry George. He explained fervently 
of course, how individualistic, how profoundly 
American he was but land was not to be monopo 
lized. Then came the discovery in the west that 
there were limits to borrowing and that gold ap 
preciated against the debtor, and so we have the 
Populist movement and extraordinary schemes for 
destroying the monopolization of gold and credit. 
Mr. Bryan led that and nearly captured the coun 
try, but only in last May s issue of the Century 
Magazine I found him explaining (expounding 
meanwhile a largely socialistic programme) that he 
too is an Individualist of the purest water. And 
then the attack shifted to the destruction of free 
competition by the trusts. The small business 
went on sufferance, not knowing from week to 
week when its hour to sell out or fight might come. 
The Trusts have crushed competition, raised prices 
against the consumer, and served him often quite 

83 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

abominably. The curious reader may find in Mr. 
Upton Sinclair s essentially veracious Jungle the 
possibilities of individualistic enterprise in the mat 
ter of food and decency. The States have been 
agitated by a big disorganized Anti-Trust movement 
for some years, it becomes of the gravest political 
importance at every election, and the sustained 
study of the affairs and methods of that most 
typical and prominent of trust organizations, the 
Standard Oil Company, by Miss Tarbell and a host 
of followers, is bringing to light more and more 
clearly the defencelessness of the common person, 
and his hopelessness, however enterprising, as a 
competitor against those great business aggrega 
tions. His faith in all his reliances and securities 
fades in the new light that grows about him, he 
sees his little investments, his insurance policy, his 
once open and impartial route to market by steam 
boat and rail, all passing into the grip of the 
great property accumulators. The aggregation of 
property has created powers that are stronger 
than state legislatures and more persistent than 
any public opinion can be, that have no awe 
and no sentiment for legislation, that are pre 
pared to disregard it or evade it whenever they 
can. 

And these aggregations are taking on immor 
tality and declining to disintegrate when their 
founders die. The Astor property, the Jay Gould 
property, the Marshall Field property, for example, 

84 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

do not break up, become undying centres for the 
concentration of wealth, and it is doubtful if there 
is any power to hinder such a development of per 
petual fortunes. In England when Thelussen left 
his investments to accumulate, a simple little act of 
Parliament set his will aside. But Congress is not 
sovereign, there is no national sovereign power in 
America, and Property in America, it would seem, 
is absolutely free to do these things. So you have 
President Roosevelt in a recent oration attacking 
the man with the Muck Rake (who gathered vile 
dross for the love of it), and threatening the limita 
tion of inheritance. But he too, quite as much as 
Mr. Bryan, assures the public that he is a fervent 
individualist. 

So in this American community, whose distinc 
tive conception is its emphatic assertion of the free 
dom of individual property, whose very symbol is 
that spike-crowned Liberty gripping a torch in 
New York Harbor, there has been and is going on 
a successive repudiation of that freedom in almost 
every department of ownable things by consider 
able masses of thinking people, a denial of the 
soundness of individual property in land, an or 
ganized attempt against the accumulation of gold 
and credit, by a systematic watering of the cur 
rency, a revolt against the aggregatory outcome of 
untrammelled business competition, a systematic 
interference with the freedom of railways and car 
riers to do business as they please, and a protest 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

from the most representative of Americans against 
hereditary wealth. . . . 

That, in general terms, is the economic and 
social process as one sees it in America now, a proc 
ess of systematically concentrating wealth on the 
part of an energetic minority, and of a great in- 
surgence of alarm, of waves of indignation and 
protest and threat on the part of that vague in 
definite public that Mr. Roosevelt calls the na 
tion." 

And this goes on side by side with a process of 
material progress that partly masks its quality, 
that keeps the standard of life from falling and 
prevents any sense of impoverishment among the 
mass of the losers in the economic struggle. Through 
this material progress there is a constant substitu 
tion of larger, cleaner, more efficient possibilities, 
and more and more wholesale and far-sighted 
methods of organization for the dark, confused, un 
tidy individualistic expedients of the Victorian 
time. An epoch which was coaly and mechanical, 
commercial and adventurous after the earlier 
fashion is giving place, almost automatically, to 
one that will be electrical and scientific, artistic and 
creative. The material progress due to a secular 
increase in knowledge, and the economic progress 
interfere and combine with and complicate one an 
other, the former constantly changes the forms and 
appliances of the latter, changes the weapons and 
conditions, and may ultimately change the spirit 

86 



THE ECONOMIC PROCESS 

and conceptions of the struggle. The latter now 
clogs and arrests the former. So in its broad feat 
ures, as a conflict between the birth strength of a 
splendid civilization and a hampering commercial 
ism, I see America. 

7 



CHAPTER VI 
SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 



IT is obvious that in a community 
The Spenders that has disavowed aristocracy or rule 
and subordination or service, which 
has granted unparalleled freedoms to property and 
despised and distrusted the state, the chief business 
of life will consist in getting or attempting to get. 
But the chief aspect of American life that impinges 
first upon the European is not this, but the be 
havior of a certain overflow at the top, of people 
who have largely and triumphantly got, and with 
hand, pockets, safe-deposit vaults full of dollars, 
are proceeding to realize victory. Before I came to 
America it was in his capacity of spender that I 
chiefly knew the American; as a person who had 
demoralized Regent Street and the Rue de Rivoli, 
who had taught the London cabman to demand 
"arf a dollar " for a shilling fare, who bought old 
books and old castles, and had driven the prices 
of old furniture to incredible altitudes, and was 
slowly transferring our incubus of artistic achieve- 

88 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

ment to American soil. One of my friends in Lon 
don is Mr. X, who owns those two houses full of 
fine "pieces" near the British Museum and keeps 
his honor unsullied in the most deleterious of 
trades. "They come to me," he said, "and ask 
me to buy for them. It s just buying. One of 
them wants to beat the silver of another, doesn t 
care what he pays. Another clamors for tapestry. 
They trust me as they trust a doctor. There s no 
understanding no feeling. It s hard to treat them 
well." 

And there is the story of Y, who is wise about 
pictures. "If you want a Botticelli that size, Mr. 
Record, I can t find it," he said; "you ll have to 
have it made for you." 

These American spenders have got the whole 
world "beat" at the foolish game of collecting, and 
in all the peculiar delights of shopping they excel. 
And they are the crown and glory of hotel managers 
throughout the world. There is something naive, 
something childishly expectant and acquisitive, 
about this aspect of American riches. There ap 
pears no aristocracy in their tradition, no sense of 
permanence and great responsibility, there appears 
no sense of subordination and service; from the in 
dividualistic business struggle they have emerged 
triumphant, and what is there to do now but spend 
and have a good time ? 

They swarm in the pleasant places of the Riviera, 
they pervade Paris and Rome, they occupy Scotch 

89 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

castles and English estates, their motor-cars are 
terrible and wonderful. And the London Savoy 
Hotel still flaunts its memory of one splendid 
American night. The court-yard was flooded with 
water tinted an artistic blue to the great discom 
fort of the practically inevitable gold-fish, and on 
this floated a dream of a gondola. And in the gon 
dola the table was spread and served by the Savoy 
staff, mysteriously disguised in appropriate fancy 
costume. The whole thing there s only two words 
for it was " perfectly lovely." "The illusion" 
whatever that was we are assured, was complete. 
It wasn t a nursery treat, you know. The guests, 
I am told, were important grown-up people. 

This sort of childishness, of course, has nothing 
distinctively American in it. Any people of slug 
gish and uneducated imagination who find them 
selves profusely wealthy, and are too stupid to un 
derstand the huge moral burden, the burden of 
splendid possibilities it carries, may do things of 
this sort. It was not Americans but a party of 
South-African millionaires who achieved the kindred 
triumph of the shirt-and-belt dinner under a tent 
in a London hotel dining-room. The glittering pro 
cession of carriages and motor-carriages which I 
watched driving down Fifth Avenue, New York, 
apparently for the pleasure of driving up again, is 
to be paralleled on the Pincio, in Naples, in Paris, 
and anywhere where irresponsible pleasure-seekers 
gather together. After the naive joy of buying 

90 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

things comes the joy of wearing them publicly, the 
simple pleasure of the promenade. These things 
are universals. But nowhere has this spending 
struck me as being so solid and substantial, so 
nearly twenty-two carats fine, as here. The shops 
have an air of solid worth, are in the key of butlers, 
bishops, opera-boxes, high-class florists, powdered 
footmen, Roman beadles, motor-broughams, to an 
extent that altogether outshines either Paris or 
London. 

And in such great hotels as the Waldorf-Astoria, 
one finds the new arrivals, the wives and daugh 
ters from the West and the South, in new, bright 
hats, and splendors of costume, clubbed together, 
under the discreetest management, for this and 
that, learning how to spend collectively, reaching 
out to assemblies, to dinners. From an observant 
tea-table beneath the fronds of a palm, I surveyed 
a fine array of these plump and pretty pupils of 
extravagance. They were for the most part quite 
brilliantly as well as newly dressed, and with an 
artless and pleasing unconsciousness of the living 
from inside. Smart innocents! I found all that 
gathering most contagiously interested and happy 
and fresh. 

And I watched spending, too, as one sees it in 
the various incompatible houses of upper Fifth 
Avenue and along the border of Central Park. 
That, too, suggests a shop, a shop where country 
houses are sold and stored; there is the Tiffany 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

house, a most expensive - looking article, on the 
shelf, and the Carnegie house. There had been 
no pretence on the part of the architects that any 
house belonged in any sense to any other, that any 
sort of community held them together. The link 
is just spending. You come to New York and 
spend; you go away again. To some of these pal 
aces people came and went ; others had their blinds 
down and conveyed a curious effect of a sunlit 
child excursionist in a train who falls asleep and 
droops against his neighbor. One of the Vander- 
bilt houses was frankly and brutally boarded up. 
Newport, I am told, takes up and carries on the 
same note of magnificent irresponsibility, and there 
one admires the richest forms of simplicity, tri 
umphs of villa architecture in thatch, and bathing 
bungalows in marble. . . . 

There exists already, of these irresponsible Amer 
ican rich, a splendid group of portraits, done with 
out extenuation and without malice, in the later 
work of that great master of English fiction, Mr. 
Henry James. There one sees them at their best, 
their refinement, their large wealthiness, their in 
credible unreality. I think of The Ambassadors 
and that mysterious source of the income of the 
Newcomes, a mystery that, with infinite artistic 
tact, was never explained ; but more I think of The 
Golden Bowl, most spacious and serene of novels. 

In that splendid and luminous bubble, the Prince 
Amerigo and Maggie Verver, Mr. Verver, that as- 

92 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

siduous collector, and the adventurous Charlotte 
Stant float far above a world of toil and anxiety, 
spending with a large refinement, with a perfected 
assurance and precision. They spend as flowers 
open. But this is the quintessence, the sublima 
tion, the idealization of the rich American. Few 
have the restraint for this. For the rest, when one 
has shopped and shopped, and collected and bought 
everything, and promenaded on foot, in motor-car 
and motor-brougham and motor-boat, in yacht and 
special train ; when one has a fine house here and a 
fine house there, and photography and the special 
article have exhausted admiration, there remains 
chiefly that one broader and more presumptuous 
pleasure spending to give. American givers give 
most generously, and some of them, it must be ad 
mitted, give well. But they give individually, in 
coherently, each pursuing a personal ideal. There 
are unsuccessful givers. . . . 

American cities are being littered with a disorder 
of unsystematized foundations and picturesque 
legacies, much as I find my nursery floor littered 
with abandoned toys and battles and buildings 
when the children are in bed after a long, wet day. 
Yet some of the gifts are very splendid things. 
There is, for example, the Leland Stanford Junior 
University in California, a vast monument of pa 
rental affection and Richardsonian architecture, 
with professors, and teaching going on in its in 
terstices; and there is Mrs. Gardner s delightful 

93 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Fenway Court, a Venetian palace, brought almost 
bodily from Italy and full of finely gathered treas 
ures. . . . 

All this giving is, in its aggregate effect, as con 
fused as industrial Chicago. It presents no clear 
scheme of the future, promises no growth ; it is due 
to the impulsive generosity of a mob of wealthy 
persons, with no broad common conceptions, with 
no collective dream, with little to hold them to 
gether but imitation and the burning possession of 
money; the gifts overlap, they lie at any angle, one 
with another. Some are needless, some mischiev 
ous. There are great gaps of unfulfilled need be 
tween. 

And through the multitude of lesser, though still 
mighty, givers, comes that colossus of property, 
Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the jubilee plunger of benefi 
cence, that rosy, gray-haired, nimble little figure, 
going to and fro between two continents, scatter 
ing library buildings as if he sowed wild oats, build 
ings that may or may not have some educational 
value, if presently they are reorganized and proper 
ly stocked with books. Anon he appals the thrifty 
burgesses of Dunfermline with vast and uncongenial 
responsibilities of expenditure; anon he precipitates 
the library of the late Lord Acton upon our em 
barrassed Mr. Morley; anon he pauperizes the 
students of Scotland. He diffuses his monument 
throughout the English-speaking lands, amid cir 
cumstances of the most flagrant publicity; the re- 

94 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

ceptive learned, the philanthropic noble, bow in 
expectant swaths before him. He is the American 
fable come true; nothing seems too wild to believe 
of him, and he fills the European imagination with 
an altogether erroneous conception of the self-dissi 
pating quality in American wealth. 



ii 

BECAUSE, now, as a matter of fact, 
dissipation is by no means the charac 
teristic quality of American getting. 
The good American will indeed tell you solemnly 
that in America it is three generations from shirt 
sleeves to shirt -sleeves"; but this has about as 
much truth in it as that remarkable absence of any 
pure-bred Londoners of the third generation, dear 
to the British imagination. 

Amid the vast yeasty tumult of American busi 
ness, of the getting and losing which are the main 
life of this community, nothing could be clearer 
than the steady accumulation of great masses of 
property that show no signs of disintegrating again. 
The very rich people display an indisposition to 
divide their estates; the Marshall Field estate in 
Chicago, for example, accumulates; the Jay Gould 
inheritance survives great strains. And when first 
I heard that " shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves" proverb, 
which is so fortifying a consolation to the older 

95 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

school of Americans, my mind flew back to the 
Thames Embankment, as one sees it from the 
steamboat on the river. There, just eastward of 
the tall red Education offices of the London County 
Council, stands a quite graceful and decorative 
little building of gray stone, that jars not at all with 
the fine traditions of the adjacent Temple, but 
catches the eye, nevertheless, with its very big, very 
gilded vane in the form of a ship. This is the 
handsome strong-box to which New York pays gi 
gantic yearly tribute, the office in which Mr. W. W. 
Astor conducts his affairs. They are not his pri 
vate and individual affairs, but the affairs of the 
estate of the late J. J. Astor still undivided, and 
still growing year by year. 

Mr. Astor seems to me to be a much more repre 
sentative figure of American wealth than any of 
the conspicuous spenders who strike so vividly upon 
the European imagination. His is the most retir 
ing of personalities. In this picturesque stone 
casket he works; his staff works under his cog 
nizance, and administers, I know not to what ends 
nor to what extent, revenues that exceed those of 
many sovereign states. He himself is impressed by 
it, and, without arrogance, he makes a visit to his 
offices, with a view of its storage vaults, its halls of 
disciplined clerks, a novel and characteristic form 
of entertainment. For the rest, Mr. Astor leads a 
life of modest affluence, and recreates himself with 
the genealogy of his family, short stories about 

96 " 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

treasure lost and found, and such like literary 
work. 

Now here you have wealth with, as it were, the 
minimum of ownership, as indeed owning its pos 
sessor. Nobody seems to be spending that huge 
income the crowded enormity of New York squeezes 
out. The "Estate of the late J. J. Astor" must 
be accumulating more wealth and still more; un 
der careful and systematic management must be 
rolling up like a golden snowball under that gold 
en weather-vane. In the most accidental relation 
to its undistinguished, harmless, arithmetical pro 
prietor ! 

Your anarchist orator or your crude socialist is 
always talking of the rich as blood-suckers, rob 
bers, robber-barons, grafters and so on. It really is 
nonsense to talk like that. In the presence of Mr. 
W. W. Astor these preposterous accusations answer 
themselves. The thing is a logical outcome of the 
assumptions about private property on which our 
contemporary civilization is based, and Mr. Astor, 
for all that he draws gold from New York as effect 
ually as a ferret draws blood from a rabbit, is in 
deed the most innocent of men. He finds himself in 
a certain position, and he sits down very con 
genially and adds and adds and adds, and relieves 
the tedium of his leisure in literary composition. 
Had he been born at the level of a dry-goods clerk 
he would probably have done the same sort of 
thing on a smaller scale, and it would have been 

97 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

the little Poddlecombe literary society, and not the 
Pall Mall Magazine, that would have been the 
richer for his compositions. It is just the scale of 
the circumstances that differs. . 



in 

THE lavish spending of Fifth Avenue 
an d Paris and Rome and Mayfair is 
but the flower, the often brilliant, the 
sometimes gaudy flower of the American economic 
process ; and such slow and patient accumulators as 
Mr. Astor the rounding and ripening fruit. One 
need be only a little while in America to realize 
this, and to discern the branch and leaf, and at last 
even the aggressive insatiable spreading root of ag 
gregating property, that was liberated so effectually 
when America declared herself free. 

The group of people that attracts the largest 
amount of attention in press and talk, that most 
obsesses the American imagination, and that is in 
deed the most significant at the present time, is the 
little group a few score men perhaps altogether 
who are emerging distinctly as winners in that 
great struggle to get, into which this commercial in 
dustrialism has naturally resolved itself. Central 
among them are the men of the Standard Oil 
group, the "octopus" which spreads its ramifying 
tentacles through the whole system of American 

98 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

business, absorbing and absorbing, grasping and 
growing. The extraordinarily able investigations 
of such writers as Miss Tarbell and Ray Stannard 
Baker, the rhetorical exposures of Mr. T. W. Law- 
son, have brought out the methods and quality of 
this group of persons with a particularity that has 
been reserved heretofore for great statesmen and 
crowned heads, and with an unflattering lucidity 
altogether unprecedented. Not only is every hair 
on their heads numbered, but the number is pub 
lished. They are known to their pettiest weak 
nesses and to their most accidental associations. 
And in this astonishing blaze of illumination they 
continue steadfastly to get. 

These men, who are creating the greatest system 
of correlated private properties in the world, who 
are wealthy beyond all precedent, seem for the 
most part to be men with no ulterior dream or aim. 
They are not voluptuaries, they are neither artists 
nor any sort of creators, and they betray no high 
political ambitions. Had they anything of the sort 
they would not be what, they are, they would be 
more than that and less. They want and they get, 
they are inspired by the brute will in their wealth 
to have more wealth and move, to a systematic 
ardor. They are men of a competing, patient, 
enterprising, acquisitive enthusiasm. They have 
found in America the perfectly favorable environ 
ment for their temperaments. In no other country 
and in no other age could they have risen to such 

99 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

eminence. America is still, by virtue of its great 
Puritan tradition and in the older sense of the word, 
an intensely moral land. Most lusts here are 
strongly curbed, by public opinion, by training and 
tradition. But the lust of acquisition has not been 
curbed but glorified. . . . 

These financial leaders are accused by the press 
of every sort of crime in the development of their 
great organizations and their fight against com 
petitors, but I feel impelled myself to acquit them 
of anything so heroic as a general scheme of crimi 
nality, as a systematic organization of power. 
They are men with a good deal of contempt for 
legislation and state interference, but that is no 
distinction, it has unhappily been part of the 
training of the average American citizen, and they 
have no doubt exceeded the letter if not the 
spirit of the laws of business competition. They 
have played to win and not for style, and if they 
personally had not done so somebody else would; 
they fill a position which from the nature of things, 
somebody is bound to fill. They have, no doubt, 
carried sharpness to the very edge of dishonesty, 
but what else was to be expected from the Ameri 
can conditions ? Only by doing so and taking risks 
is pre-eminent success in getting to be attained. 
They have developed an enormous system of espio 
nage, but on his smaller scale every retail grocer, 
every employer of servants does something in that 
way. They have secret agents, false names, con- 

100 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN/ 



cealed bargains, what else could one expect? 
People have committed suicide through their 
operations but in a game which is bound to 
bring the losers to despair it is childish to charge 
the winners with murder. It s the game that is 
criminal. It is ridiculous, I say, to write of these 
men as though they were unparalleled villains, in 
tellectual overmen, conscienceless conquerors of the 
world. Mr. J. D. Rockefeller s mild, thin - lipped, 
pleasant face gives the lie to all such melo 
dramatic nonsense. 

I must confess to a sneaking liking for this much- 
reviled man. One thinks of Miss Tarbell s descrip 
tion of him, displaying his first boyish account- 
book, his ledger A, to a sympathetic gathering of 
the Baptist young, telling how he earned fifty dol 
lars in the first three months of his clerking in a 
Chicago warehouse, and how savingly he dealt with 
it. Hear his words: 

" You could not get that book from me for all the 
modern ledgers in New York, nor for all that they 
would bring. It almost brings tears to my eyes 
when I read over this little book, and it fills me 
with a sense of gratitude I cannot express. . . . 

"I know some people, . . . especially some young 
men, find it difficult to keep a little money in their 
pocket-book. I learned to keep money, and, as we 
have a way of saying, it did not burn a hole in my 
pocket. I was taught that it was the thing to keep 
the money and take care of it. Among the early 

101 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

experiences that were helpful to me that I recollect 
with pleasure, was one of working a few days for 
a neighbor digging potatoes an enterprising and 
thrifty farmer who could dig a great many pota 
toes. I was a boy perhaps thirteen or fourteen 
years of age, and he kept me busy from morning 
until night. It was a ten-hour day. . . . 

"And as I was saving these little sums, I soon 
learned I could get as much interest for fifty dollars 
loaned at seven per cent. the legal rate in the 
State of New York at that time for a year as I 
could earn by digging potatoes ten days. The im 
pression was gaining ground with me that it was a 
good thing to let money be my slave and not make 
myself a slave to money. I have tried to remember 
that in every sense." 

This is not the voice of any sort of contemptuous 
trampler of his species. This is the voice of an in 
dustrious, acquisitive, commonplace, pious man, as 
honestly and simply proud of his acquisitiveness as 
a stamp-collector might be. At times, in his ac 
quisitions, the strength of his passion may have 
driven him to lengths beyond the severe moral code, 
but the same has been true of stamp-collectors. 
He is a man who has taken up with great natural 
aptitude an ignoble tradition which links economy 
and earning with piety and honor. His teachers 
were to blame, that Baptist community that is 
now so ashamed of its son that it refuses his gifts. 
To a large extent he is the creature of opportunity; 

102 



SOME ASPECTS OF AMERICAN WEALTH 

he has been *flung to the topmost pinnacle of human 
envy, partly by accident, partly by that peculiarity 
of American conditions that has subordinated, in 
the name of liberty, all the grave and ennobling 
affairs of statecraft to a middle-class freedom of 
commercial enterprise. Quarrel with that if you 
like. It is unfair and ridiculous to quarrel with 
him. 



CHAPTER VII 
CERTAIN WORKERS 



LET us now look a little at another 
Th0 Not^Get D as P ec t f this process of individualis 
tic competition which is the economic 
process in America, and which is giving us on its 
upper side the spenders of Fifth Avenue, the slow 
accumulators of the Astor type, and the great get 
ters of the giant business organizations, the Trusts 
and acquisitive finance. We have concluded that 
this process of free and open competition in busi 
ness which, clearly, the framers of the American 
Constitution imagined to be immortal, does as a 
matter of fact tend to kill itself through the ad 
vantage property gives in the acquisition of more 
property. But before we can go on to estimate the 
further future of this process we must experiment 
with another question. What is happening to 
those who have not got and who are not getting 
wealth, who are, in fact, falling back in the com 
petition ? 

Now there can be little doubt to any one who 
104 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

goes to and fro in America that in spite of the 
huge accumulation of property in a few hands that 
is now in progress, there is still no general effect of 
impoverishment. To me, coming from London to 
New York, the effect of the crowd in the trolley- 
cars and subways and streets was one of exceptional 
prosperity. New York has no doubt its effects of 
noise, disorder, discomfort, and a sort of brutality, 
but to begin with one sees nothing of the underfed 
people, the numerous dingily clad and grayly 
housed people who catch the eye in London. Even 
in the congested arteries, the filthy back streets of 
the East Side I found myself saying, as a thing re 
markable, "These people have money to spend." 
In London one travels long distances for two cents, 
and great regiments of people walk; in New York 
the universal fare is five cents and everybody rides. 
Common people are better gloved and better booted 
in America than in any European country I know, 
in spite of the higher prices for clothing here, the 
men wear ready-made suits, it is true, to a much 
greater extent, but they are newer and brighter 
than the London clerk s carefully brushed, tailor- 
made garments. Wages translated from dollars 
into shillings seem enormous. 

And there is no perceptible fall in wages going 
on. On the whole wages tend to rise. For almost 
all sorts of men, for working women who are not 
"refined," there is a limitless field of employment. 
The fact that a growing proportion of the wealth of 

105 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

the community is passing into the hands of a small 
minority of successful getters, is masked to super 
ficial observation by the enormous increase of the 
total wealth. The growth process overrides the 
economic process and may continue to do so for 
many years. 

So that the great mass of the population is not 
consciously defeated in the economic game. It is 
only failing to get a large share in the increment 
of w r ealth. The European reader must dismiss 
from his mind any conception of the general Ameri 
can population as a mass of people undergoing im 
poverishment through the enrichment of the few. 
He must substitute for that figure a mass of people, 
very busy, roughly prosperous, generally self-sat 
isfied, but ever and again stirred to bouts of iras 
cibility and suspicion, inundated by a constantly 
swelling flood of prosperity that pours through it 
and over it and passes by it, without changing or 
enriching it at all. Ever and again it is irritated 
by some rise in price, an advance in coal, for ex 
ample, or meat or rent, that swallows up some 
anticipated gain, but that is an entirely different 
thing from want or distress, from the fireless hun 
gering poverty of Europe. 

Nevertheless, the sense of losing develops and 
spreads in the mass of the American people. Priva 
tions are not needed to create a sense of economic 
disadvantage; thwarted hopes suffice. The speed 
and pressure of work here is much greater than in 

106 




NEW YORK S CROWDED, LITTERED EAST SIDE 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

Europe, the impatience for realization intenser. 
The average American comes into life prepared to 
"get on," and ready to subordinate most things in 
life to that. He encounters a rising standard of 
living. He finds it more difficult to get on than 
his father did before him. He is perplexed and 
irritated by the spectacle of lavish spending and 
the report of gigantic accumulations that outshine 
his utmost possibilities of enjoyment or success. 
He is a busy and industrious man, greatly preoccu 
pied by the struggle, but when he stops to think 
and talk at all, there can be little doubt that his 
outlook is a disillusioned one, more and more 
tinged with a deepening discontent. 



ii 

BUT the state of mind of the average 
American we have to consider later. 
That is the central problem of this 
horoscope we contemplate. Before we come to 
that we have to sketch out all the broad aspects of 
the situation with which that mind has to deal. 

Now in the preceding chapter I tried to convey 
my impression of the spending and wealth-getting 
of this vast community ; I tried to convey how irre 
sponsible it was, how unpremeditated. The Amer 
ican rich have, as it were, floated up out of a 
confused struggle of equal individuals. That indi- 

107 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

vidualistic commercial struggle has not only flung 
up these rich to their own and the world s amaze 
ment, it is also, with an equal blindness, crushing 
and maiming great multitudes of souls. But this is 
a fact that does not smite upon one s attention 
at the outset. The English visitor to the great 
towns sees the spending, sees the general prosperity, 
the universal air of confident pride ; he must go out 
of his way to find the under side to these things. 

One little thing set me questioning. I had been 
one Sunday night down- town, supping and talking 
with Mr. Abraham Cahan about the " East Side," that 
strange city within a city which has a drama of its 
own and a literature and a press, and about Russia 
and her problem, and I was returning on the sub 
way about two o clock in the morning. I became 
aware of a little lad sitting opposite me, a childish- 
faced delicate little creature of eleven years old or 
so, wearing the uniform of a messenger-boy. He 
drooped with fatigue, roused himself with a start, 
edged off his seat with a sigh, stepped off the car, 
and was vanishing up-stairs into the electric glare 
of Astor Place as the train ran out of the station. 

"What on earth," said I, "is that baby doing 
abroad at this time of night?" 

For me this weary little wretch became the irri 
tant centre of a painful region of inquiry. "How 
many hours a day may a child work in New York," 
I began to ask people, "and when may a boy 
leave school?" 

108 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

I had blundered, I found, upon the weakest spot 
in America s fine front of national well-being. My 
eyes were opened to the childish newsboys who sold 
me papers, and the little bootblacks at the street 
corners. Nocturnal child employment is a social 
abomination. I gathered stories of juvenile vice, 
of lads of nine and ten suffering from terrible dis 
eases, of the contingent sent by these messengers to 
the hospitals and jails. I began to realize another 
aspect of that great theory of the liberty of prop 
erty and the subordination of the state to business, 
upon which American institutions are based. That 
theory has no regard for children. Indeed, it is a the 
ory that disregards w r omen and children, the cardinal 
facts of life altogether. They are private things. . . . 

It is curious how little we, who live in the dawn 
ing light of a new time, question the intellectual 
assumptions of the social order about us. We find 
ourselves in a life of huge confusions and many 
cruelties, we plan this and that to remedy and im 
prove, but very few of us go down to the ideas that 
begot these ugly conditions, the laws, the usages 
and liberties that are now T in their detailed ex 
pansion so perplexing, intricate, and overwhelm 
ing. Yet the life of man is altogether made up of 
will cast into the mould of ideas, and only by cor 
recting ideas, changing ideas and replacing ideas 
are any ameliorations and advances to be achieved 
in human destiny. All other things are subordi 
nate to that. 

109 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Now the theory of liberty upon which the liberal 
ism of Great Britain, the Constitution of the United 
States, and the bourgeois Republic of France rests, 
assumes that all men are free and equal. They are 
all tacitly supposed to be adult and immortal, they 
are sovereign over their property and over their 
wives and children, and everything is framed with 
a view to insuring them security in the enjoyment 
of their rights. No doubt this was a better theory 
than that of the divine right of kings, against 
which it did triumphant battle, but it does, as one 
sees it to-day, fall most extraordinarily short of the 
truth, and only a few logical fanatics have ever 
tried to carry it out to its complete consequences. 
For example, it ignored the facts that more than 
half of the adult people in a country are women, 
and that all the men and women of a country 
taken together are hardly as numerous and far less 
important to the welfare of that country than the 
individuals under age. It regarded living as just 
living, a stupid dead level of egotistical effort and 
enjoyment; it was blind to the fact that living is 
part growing, part learning, part dying to make 
way and altogether service and sacrifice. It as 
serted that the care and education of children, and 
business bargains affecting the employment and 
welfare of women and children, are private affairs. 
It resisted the compulsory education of children 
and factory legislation, therefore, with extraordi 
nary persistence and bitterness. The common- 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

sense of the three great progressive nations con 
cerned has been stronger than their theory, but to 
this day enormous social evils are to be traced to 
that passionate jealousy of state intervention be 
tween a man and his wife, his children, and other 
property, which is the distinctive unprecedented 
feature of the originally middle-class modern or 
ganization of society upon commercial and in 
dustrial conceptions in which we are all (and 
America most deeply) living. 

.1 began with a drowsy little messenger-boy in the 
New York Subway. Before I had done with the 
question I had come upon amazing things. Just 
think of it! This richest, greatest country the 
world has ever seen has over 1,700,000 children un 
der fifteen years of age toiling in fields, factories, 
mines, and workshops. And Robert Hunter whose 
Poverty, if I were autocrat, should be compulsory 
reading for every prosperous adult in the United 
States, tells me of "not less than eighty thousand 
children, most of whom are little girls, at present 
employed in the textile mills of this country. In 
the South there are now six times as many children 
at work as there were twenty years ago. Child 
labor is increasing yearly in that section of the 
country. Each year more little ones are brought 
in from the fields and hills to live in the degrading 
atmosphere of the mill towns." . . . 

Children are deliberately imported by the Ital 
ians. I gathered from Commissioner Watchorn at 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Ellis Island that the proportion of little nephews 
and nieces, friends sons, and so forth, brought in 
by them is peculiarly high, and I heard him try 
and condemn a doubtful case. It was a particu 
larly unattractive Italian in charge of a dull-eyed 
little boy of no ascertainable relationship. . . . 

In the worst days of cotton-milling in England 
the conditions were hardly worse than those now 
existing in the South. Children, the tiniest and 
frailest, of five and six years of age, rise in the 
morning and, like old men and women, go to the 
mills to do their day s labor; and when they return 
home, "wearily fling themselves on their beds, too 
tired to take off their clothes." Many children 
work all night "in the maddening racket of the 
machinery, in an atmosphere unsanitary and cloud 
ed with humidity and lint." 

" It will be long," adds Mr. Hunter, in his descrip 
tion, "before I forget the face of a little boy of six 
years, with his hands stretched forward to rearrange 
a bit of machinery, his pallid face and spare form 
already showing the physical effects of labor. This 
child, six years of age, was working twelve hours a 
day." 

From Mr. Spargo s Bitter Cry of the Children I 
learn this much of the joys of certain among the 
youth of Pennsylvania: 

"For ten or eleven hours a day children of ten and 
eleven stoop over the chute and pick out the slate and 
other impurities from the coal as it moves past them. 

112 




BREAKER BOYS AT A PENNSYLVANIA COLLIERY 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

The air is black with coal-dust, and the roar of the crushers, 
screens, and rushing mill-race of coal is deafening. Some 
times one of the children falls into the machinery and is 
terribly mangled, or slips into the chute and is smothered 
to death. Many children are killed in this way. Many 
others, after a time, contract coal - miners asthma and 
consumption, which gradually undermine their health. 
Breathing continually day after day the clouds of coal- 
dust, their lungs become black and choked with small 
particles of anthracite." . . . 

In Massachusetts, at Fall River, the Hon. J. F. 
Carey tells us how little naked boys, free Ameri 
cans, work for Mr. Borden, the New York million 
aire, packing cloth into bleaching vats in a bath of 
chemicals that bleaches their little bodies like the 
bodies of lepers. . . . 

Well, we English have no right to condemn the 
Americans for these things. The history of our 
own industrial development is black with the blood 
of tortured and murdered children. America still 
has the factory serfs. New Jersey sends her 
pauper children south to-day into worse than 
slavery, but, as Cottle tells in his reminiscences of 
Southey and Coleridge, that is precisely the same 
wretched export Bristol packed off to feed the mills 
of Manchester in late Georgian times. We got 
ahead with factory legislation by no peculiar virtue 
in our statecraft, it was just the revenge the land- 
lords took upon the manufacturers for reform and 
free trade in corn and food. In America the manu 
facturers have had things to themselves. 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

And America has difficulties to encounter of 
which we know nothing. In the matter of labor 
legislation each State legislature is supreme; in 
each separate State the forces of light and progress 
must fight the battle of the children and the future 
over again against interests, lies, prejudice and 
stupidity. Each State pleads the bad example of 
another State, and there is always the threat that 
capital will withdraw. No national minimum is 
possible under existing conditions. And when the 
laws have passed there is still the universal con 
tempt for State control to reckon with, the impos 
sibilities of enforcement. Illinois, for instance, 
scandalized at the spectacle of children in those 
filthy stock-yards, ankle-deep in blood, cleaning in 
testines and trimming meat, recently passed a 
child-labor law that raised the minimum age for 
such employment to sixteen, but evasion, they told 
me in Chicago, was simple and easy. New York, 
too, can show by its statute-books that my drowsy 
nocturnal messenger - boy was illegal and impos 
sible. . . . 

This is the bottomest end of the scale that at the 
top has all the lavish spending of Fifth Avenue, the 
joyous wanton giving of Mr. Andrew Carnegie. 
Equally with these things it is an unpremeditated 
consequence of an inadequate theory of freedom. 
The foolish extravagances of the rich, the archi 
tectural pathos of Newport, the dingy, noisy, eco 
nomic jumble of central and south Chicago, the 

114 



CERTAIN WORKERS 

Standard Oil offices in Broadway, the darkened 
streets beneath New York s elevated railroad, the 
littered ugliness of Niagara s banks, and the lower 
most hell of child suffering are all so many ac 
cordant aspects and inexorable consequences of the 
same undisciplined way of living. Let each man 
push for himself it comes to these things. . . . 

So far as our purpose of casting a horoscope goes 
we have particularly to note this as affecting the 
future; these working children cannot be learning 
to read though they will presently be having votes 
they cannot grow up fit to bear arms, to be in 
any sense but a vile computing sweater s sense, 
men. So miserably they will avenge themselves by 
supplying the stuff for vice, for crime, for yet more 
criminal and political manipulations. One million 
seven hundred children, practically uneducated, are 
toiling over here, and growing up, darkened, marred, 
and dangerous, into the American future I am seek 
ing to forecast. 



CHAPTER VIII 
CORRUPTION 



So, it seems to me, in this new crude 
continental commonwealth, there is go 
ing on the same economic process, on a 
grander scale, indeed, than has gone so far in our 
own island. There is a great concentration of 
wealth above, and below, deep and growing is the 
abyss, that sunken multitude on the margin of 
subsistence which is a characteristic and necessary 
feature of competitive industrialism, that teeming 
abyss where children have no chance, where men and 
women dream neither of leisure nor of self-respect. 
And between this efflorescence of wealth above and 
spreading degradation below, comes the great mass 
of the population, perhaps fifty millions and more 
of healthy and active men, women and children (I 
leave out of count altogether the colored people and 
the special trouble of the South until a later chapter) 
who are neither irresponsibly free nor hopelessly 
bound, who are the living determining substance of 
America. 

116 



CORRUPTION 

Collectively they constitute what Mr. Roosevelt 
calls the "Nation," what an older school of Ameri 
cans used to write of as the People. The Nation is 
neither rich nor poor, neither capitalist nor laborer, 
neither Republican nor Democrat; it is a great 
diversified multitude including all these things. It 
is a comprehensive abstraction; it is the ultimate 
reality. You may seek for it in America and you 
cannot find it, as one seeks in vain for the forest 
among the trees. It has no clear voice; the con 
fused and local utterances of a dispersed innumer 
able press, of thousands of public speakers, of 
books and preachers, evoke fragmentary responses 
or drop rejected into oblivion. I have been told by 
countless people where I shall find the typical 
American; one says in Maine, one in the Alle- 
ghenies, one "farther west," one in Kansas, one in 
Cleveland. He is indeed nowhere and everywhere. 
He is an English-speaking person, with extraordi 
narily English traits still, in spite of much good 
German and Scandinavian and Irish blood he has 
assimilated. He has a distrust of lucid theories, 
and logic, and he talks unwillingly of ideas. He is 
preoccupied, he is busy with his individual affairs, 
but he is I can feel it in the air thinking. 

How widely and practically he is thinking that 
curious product of the last few years, the ten-cent 
magazine, will show. In England our sixpenny 
magazines seem all written for boys and careless 
people; they are nothing but stories and jests and 

117 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

pictures. The weekly ones achieve an extraordi 
narily agreeable emptiness. Their American equiva 
lents are full of the studied and remarkably well- 
written discussion of grave public questions. I 
pick up one magazine and find a masterly exposi 
tion of the public aspect of railway rebates, another 
and a trust is analyzed. Then here are some titles 
of books that all across this continent are being 
multitudinously read: Parson s Heart of the Railway 
Problem, Steffens s Shame of the Cities, Lawson s 
Frenzied Finance, Miss Tarbell s Story of Standard 
Oil, Abbott s Industrial Problem, Spargo s Bitter 
Cry of the Children, Hunter s Poverty, and, pioneer 
of them all, Lloyd s Wealth Against Commonwealth. 
These are titles quoted almost at hap-hazard. 
Within a remarkably brief space of time the Ameri 
can nation has turned away from all the heady 
self-satisfaction of the nineteenth century and com 
menced a process of heart searching quite unpar 
alleled in history. Its egotistical interest in its 
own past is over and done. While Mr. Upton Sin 
clair, the youngest, most distinctive of recent 
American novelists, achieved but a secondary suc 
cess with his admirably conceived romance of the 
Civil War, Manassas, The Jungle, his book about 
the beef trust and the soul of the immigrant, the 
most unflattering picture of America that any one 
has yet dared to draw, has fired the country. 

The American nation, which a few years ago 
seemed invincibly wedded to an extreme individu- 

118 



CORRUPTION 

alism, seemed resolved, as it were, to sit on the 
safety valves of the economic process and go on to 
the ultimate catastrophe, displays itself now alert 
and questioning. It has roused itself to a grave 
and extensive consideration of the intricate eco 
nomic and political problems that close like a net 
about its future. The essential question for Amer 
ica, as for Europe, is the rescue of her land, her 
public service, and the whole of her great eco 
nomic process from the anarchic and irresponsi 
ble control of private owners how dangerous and 
horrible that control may become the Railway and 
Beef Trust investigations have shown and the or 
ganization of her social life upon the broad, clean, 
humane conceptions of modern science. In every 
country, however, this huge problem of reconstruc 
tion which is the alternative to a plutocratic de 
cadence, is enormously complicated by irrelevant 
and special difficulties. In Great Britain, for ex 
ample, the ever-pressing problem of holding the 
empire, and the fact that one legislative body is 
composed almost entirely of private land-owners, 
hampers every step towards a better order. Upon 
every country in Europe weighs the armor of war. 
In America the complications are distinctive and 
peculiar. She is free, indeed, now to a large ex 
tent from the possibility of any grave military 
stresses, her one overseas investment in the Philip 
pines she is evidently resolved to forget and be rid 
of at as early a date as possible. But, on the other 

9 119 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

hand, she is confronted by a system of legal en 
tanglements of extraordinary difficulty and per 
plexity, she has the most powerful tradition of in 
dividualism in the world, and a degraded political 
system, and she has in the presence of a vast and 
increasing proportion of unassimilable aliens in her 
substance negroes, south European peasants, Rus 
sian Jews and the like an ever-intensifying com 
plication. 



II 

Now what is called corruption in 
Graft America is a thing not confined to 
politics; it is a defect of moral method 
found in every department of American life. I 
find in big print in every paper I open, "GRAFT." 
All through my journey in America I have been 
trying to gauge the quality of this corruption, I 
have been talking to all kinds of people about it, I 
have had long conversations about it with President 
Eliot of Harvard, with District - Attorney Jerome, 
with one leading insurance president, with a num 
ber of the City Club people in Chicago, with several 
East - Siders in New York, with men engaged in 
public work in every city I have visited, with 
Senators at Washington, with a Chicago saloon 
keeper and his friend, a shepherd of votes, and with 
a varied and casual assortment of Americans upon 

120 



CORRUPTION 

trains and boats; I read my Ostrogorsky, my 
Otiinsterberg, and my Roosevelt before I came to 
America, and I find myself going through any 
American newspaper that comes to hand always 
with an eye to this. It is to me a most vital issue 
in the horoscope I contemplate. All depends upon 
the answer to this question: Is the average citizen 
fundamentally dishonest ? Is he a rascal and hum 
bug in grain? If he is, the future can needs be no 
more than a monstrous social disorganization in 
the face of divine opportunities. Or is he funda 
mentally honest, but a little confused ethically ? . . . 

The latter, I think, is the truer alternative, but I 
will confess I have ranged through all the scale be 
tween a buoyant optimism and despair. It is ex 
traordinarily difficult to move among the crowded 
contrasts of this perplexing country and emerge 
with any satisfactory generalization. But there is 
one word I find all too frequently in the American 
papers, and that is "stealing." They come near 
calling any profitable, rather unfair bargain with 
the public a "steal." It s the common journalistic 
vice here always to overstate. Every land has its 
criminals, no doubt, but the American, I am con 
vinced, is the last man in the world to steal. Nor 
does he tell you lies to your face, except in the way 
of business. He s not that sort of man. Nor does 
he sneak bad money into your confiding hand. 
Nor ask a higher price than he means to accept. 
Nor cheat on exchange. For all the frequency of 

121 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

"graft" and "stealing" in the press head-lines, I 
feel the American is pretty distinctly less "mean" 
than many Europeans in these respects, and much 
more disposed to be ashamed of meanness. 

But he certainly has an ethical system of a 
highly commercial type. If he isn t dishonest he s 
commercialized. He lives to get, to come out of 
every transaction with more than he gave. 

In the highly imaginative theory that underlies 
the realities of an individualistic society there is 
such a thing as honest trading. In practice I 
don t believe there is. Exchangeable things are 
supposed to have a fixed quality called their value, 
and honest trading is, I am told, the exchange of 
things of equal value. Nobody gains or loses by 
honest trading, and therefore nobody can grow rich 
by it. And nobody would do business except to 
subsist by a profit and attempt to grow rich. The 
honest merchant in the individualist s dream is a 
worthy and urbane person who intervenes between 
the seller here and the buyer there, fetches from 
one to another, stores a surplus of goods, takes 
risks, and indemnifies himself by charging the 
seller and the buyer a small fee for his waiting and 
his carrying and his speculative hawking about. 
He would be sick and ashamed to undervalue a 
purchase or overcharge a customer, and it scarcely 
requires a competitor to reduce his fee to a mini 
mum. He draws a line between customers with 
whom he deals and competitors with whom he 

122 



CORRUPTION 

wouldn t dream of dealing. And though it seems a 
little incredible, he grows rich and beautiful in 
these practices and endows Art, Science, and Litera 
ture. Such is the commercial life in a world of 
economic angels, magic justice and the Individual 
ist s Utopia. In reality flesh and blood cannot re 
sist a bargain, and people trade to get. In reality 
value is a dream, and the commercial ideal is to 
buy from the needy, sell to the urgent need, and 
get all that can possibly be got out of every trans 
action. To do anything else isn t business it s 
some other sort of game. Let us look squarely into 
the pretences of trading. The plain fact of the 
case is that in trading for profit there is no natural 
line at which legitimate bargaining ends and cheat 
ing begins. The seller wants to get above the 
value and the buyer below it. The seller seeks to 
appreciate, the buyer to depreciate; and where is 
there room for truth in that contest? In bargain 
ing, overvaluing and undervaluing are not only 
permissible but inevitable, attempts to increase the 
desire to buy and willingness to sell. Who can in 
vent a rule to determine what expedients are per 
missible and what not? You may draw an arbi 
trary boundary the law does here and there, a 
little discontinuously but that is all. For ex 
ample, consider these questions that follow: Noth 
ing is perfect in this world; all goods are defective. 
Are you bound to inform your customer of every 
defect? Suppose you are, then are you bound to 

123 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

examine your goods minutely for defects? Grant 
that. Then if you intrust that duty to an em 
ployee ought you to dismiss him for selling defective 
goods for you ? The customer will buy your goods 
anyhow. Are you bound to spend more upon clean 
ing and packing them than he demands? to wrap 
them in gold-foil gratuitously, for example? How 
are you going to answer these questions? Let me 
suppose that your one dream in life is to grow rich. 
Suppose you want to grow very rich and found a 
noble university, let us say? 

You answer them in the Roman spirit, with 
caveat emptor. Then can you decently join in the 
outcry against the Chicago butchers? 

Then turn again to the group of problems the 
Standard Oil history raises. You want the cus 
tomer to buy your goods and not your competitor s. 
Naturally you do everything to get your goods to 
him, to make them seem best to him, to reduce the 
influx of the other man s stuff. You don t lend 
your competitor your shop -window anyhow. If 
there s a hoarding you don t restrict your adver 
tisements because otherwise there won t be room 
for him. And if you happen to have a paramount 
interest in the carrying line that bears your goods 
and his, why shouldn t you see that your own goods 
arrive first? And at a cheaper rate? . . . 

You see one has to admit there is always this 
element of overreaching, of outwitting, of fore 
stalling, in all systematic trade. It may be refined, 

124 




INTERIOR OF A NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING 



CORRUPTION 

it may be dignified, but it is there. It differs in 
degree and not in quality from cheating. A very 
scrupulous man stops at one point, a less scrupu 
lous man at another, an eager, ambitious man may 
find himself carried by his own impetus very far. 
Too often the least scrupulous wins. In all ages, 
among all races, this taint in trade has been felt. 
Modern western Europe, led by England, and 
America have denied it stoutly, have glorified the 
trader, called him a "merchant prince," wrapped 
him in the purple of the word "financier," bowed 
down before him. The trader remains a trader, a 
hand that clutches, an uncreative brain that lays 
snares. Occasionally, no doubt, he exceeds his 
function and is better than his occupations. But 
it is not he but the maker who must be the power 
and ruler of the great and luminous social order 
that must surely come, that new order I have per 
suaded myself I find in glimmering evasive promises 
amid the congestions of New York, the sheds and 
defilements of Niagara, and the Chicago reek and 
grime. . . . The American, I feel assured, can be a 
bold and splendid maker. He is not, like the un 
creative Parsee or Jew or Armenian, a trader by 
blood and nature. The architecture I have seen, 
the finely planned, internally beautiful, and ad 
mirably organized office buildings (to step into 
them from the street is to step up fifty years in the 
scale of civilization), the business organizations, the 
industrial skill I visited a trap and chain factory 

125 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

at Oneida, right in the heart of New York State, 
that was like the interior of a well-made clock 
above all, the plans for reconstructing his cities 
show that. Those others make nothing. But 
nevertheless, since he, more than any man, has sub 
served the full development of eighteenth and 
nineteenth century conceptions, he has acquired 
some of the very worst habits of the trader. Too 
often he is a gambler. Ever and again I have had 
glimpses of preoccupied groups of men at green 
tables in little rooms, playing that dreary game 
poker, wherein there is no skill, no variety except 
in the sum at hazard, no orderly development, only 
a sort of expressionless lying called "bluffing." In 
deed, poker isn t so much a game as a bad habit. 
Yet the American sits for long hours at it, dispers 
ing and accumulating dollars, and he carries its 
great conception of " bluff" and a certain experi 
ence of kinetic physiognomy back with him to his 
office. . . . 

And Americans talk dollars to an astonishing 
extent. . . . 

Now this is the reality of American corruption, a 
huge exclusive preoccupation with dollar - getting. 
What is called corruption by the press is really no 
more than the acute expression in individual cases 
of this general fault. 

Where everybody is getting it is idle to expect a 
romantic standard of honesty between employers 
and employed. The official who buys rails for the 

126 



CORRUPTION 

big railway company that is professedly squeezing 
every penny it can out of the public for its share 
holders as its highest aim, is not likely to display 
any religious self-abnegation of a share for himself 
in this great work. The director finds it hard to 
distinguish between getting for himself and getting 
for his company, and the duty to one- self of a dis 
creet use of opportunity taints the whole staff 
from manager to messenger-boy. The politicians 
w r ho protect the interests of the same railway in 
the House of Commons or the Senate, as the case 
may be, are not going to do it for love either. No 
body will have any mercy for their wives or children 
if they die poor. The policeman who stands be 
tween the property of the company and the irregu 
lar enterprise of robbers feels his vigilance merits a 
special recognition. A position of trust is a posi 
tion of advantage, and deserves a percentage. 
Everywhere, as every one knows, in all the modern 
States, quite as much as in China, there are com 
missions, there are tips, there are extortions and 
secret profits, there is, in a word, " graft." It s no 
American specialty. Things are very much the 
same in this matter in Great Britain as in America, 
but Americans talk more and louder than we do. 
And indeed all this is no more than an inevitable 
development of the idea of trading in the mind, 
that every transaction must leave something be 
hind for the agent. It s not stealing, but never 
theless, the automatic cash-register becomes more 

127 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

and more of a necessity in this thickening atmos 
phere of private enterprise. 



in 

IT seems to me that the political 
corruption that still plays so large a 
part in the American problem is a 
natural and necessary underside to a purely middle- 
class organization of society for business. Nobody 
is left over to watch the politician. And the evil is 
enormously aggravated by the complexities of the 
political machinery, by the methods of the presi 
dential election that practically prescribes a ticket 
method of voting, and by the absence of any second 
ballots. Moreover, the passion of the simpler 
minded Americans for aggressive legislation con 
trolling private morality has made the control of 
the police a main source of party revenue, and 
dragged the saloon and brothel, essentially retiring 
though these institutions are, into politics. The 
Constitution ties up political reform in the most 
extraordinary way, it was planned by devout Re 
publicans equally afraid of a dictatorship and the 
people; it does not so much distribute power as 
disperse it, the machinery falls readily into the 
hands of professional politicians with no end to 
secure but their immediate profit, and is almost 
inaccessible to poor men who cannot make their 

128 



CORRUPTION 

incomes in its working. An increasing number of 
wealthy young men have followed President Roose 
velt into political life one thinks of such figures as 
Senator Colby of New Jersey, but they are but in 
cidental mitigations of a generally vicious scheme. 
Before the nation, so busy with its diversified 
private affairs, lies the devious and difficult prob 
lem of a great reconstruction of its political meth 
ods, as a preliminary to any broad change of its 
social organization. . . . 

How vicious things are I have had some inkling 
in a dozen whispered stories of votes, of ballot- 
boxes rifled, of votes destroyed, of the violent per 
sonation of cowed and ill-treated men. And in Chica 
go I saw a little of the physical aspect of the system. 

I made the acquaintance of Alderman Kenna, 
who is better known, I found, throughout the 
States as "Kinky-Dink," saw his two saloons and 
something of the Chinese quarter about him. He 
is a compact, upright little man, with iron-gray 
hair, a clear blue eye, and a dry manner. He wore 
a bowler hat through all our experiences in com 
mon, and kept his hands in his jacket-pockets. He 
filled me with a ridiculous idea, for which I apolo 
gize, that had it fallen to the lot of Mr. J. M. Barrie 
to miss a university education, and keep a saloon 
in Chicago and organize voters, he would have 
looked own brother to Mr. Kenna. We com 
menced in the first saloon, a fine, handsome place, 
with mirrors and tables and decorations and a con- 

129 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

sumption of mitigated mineral waters and beer in 
bottles; then I was taken over to see the other 
saloon, the one across the way. We went behind 
the counter, and while I professed a comparative 
interest in English and American beer-engines, and 
the Alderman exchanged commonplaces with two 
or three of the shirt-sleeved barmen, I was able to 
survey the assembled customers. 

It struck me as a pretty tough gathering. 

The first thing that met the eye were the schooners 
of beer. There is nothing quite like the American 
beer-schooner in England. It would appeal strongly 
to an unstinted appetite for beer, and I should be 
curious to try it upon a British agricultural laborer 
and see how many he could hold. He would, I am 
convinced, have to be entirely hollowed out to hold 
two. Those I saw impressed me as being about 
the size of small fish-globes set upon stems, and 
each was filled with a very substantial-looking beer 
indeed. They stood in a careless row all along the 
length of the saloon counter. Below them, in atti 
tudes of negligent proprietorship, lounged the 
"crowd" in a haze of smoke and conversation. 
For the most part I should think they were Ameri 
canized immigrants. I looked across the counter 
at them, met their eyes, got the quality of their 
faces and it seemed to me I was a very flimsy and 
unsubstantial intellectual thing indeed. It struck 
me that I would as soon go to live in a pen in a 
stock-yard as into American politics. 

130 



CORRUPTION 

That was my momentary impression. But that 
line of base and coarse faces seen through the reek 
was only one sample of the great saloon stratum of 
the American population in which resides political 
power. They have no ideas and they have votes; 
they are capable, if need be, of meeting violence 
by violence, and that is the sort of thing Ameri 
can methods demand. . . . 

Now Alderman Kenna is a straight man, the sort 
of man one likes and trusts at sight, and he did not 
invent his profession. He follows his own ideas of 
right and wrong, and compared with my ideas of 
right and wrong, they seem tough, compact, de 
cided things. He is very kind to all his crowd. 
He helps them when they are in trouble, even if it 
is trouble with the police; he helps them find em 
ployment when they are down on their luck; he 
stands between them and the impacts of an un 
sympathetic and altogether too - careless social 
structure in a sturdy and almost parental way. I 
can quite believe what I was told, that in the lives 
of many of these rough undesirables he s almost 
the only decent influence. He gets wives well 
treated, and he has an open heart for children. And 
he tells them how to vote, a duty of citizenship 
they might otherwise neglect, and sees that they 
do it properly. And whenever you want to do 
things in Chicago you must reckon carefully with 
him. . . . 

There you have a chip, a hand specimen, from 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

the basement structure upon which American poli 
tics rest. That is the remarkable alternative to 
private enterprise as things are at present. It is 
America s only other way. If public services are 
to be taken out of the hands of such associations of 
financiers as the Standard Oil group they have to 
be put into the hands of politicians resting at last 
upon this sort of basis. Therein resides the im 
possibility of socialism in America as the case for 
socialism is put at present. The third course is the 
far more complex, difficult and heroic one of creat 
ing imaginatively and bringing into being a new 
state a feat no people in the world has yet achieved, 
but a feat that any people which aspires to lead the 
future is bound, I think, to attempt. 



CHAPTER IX 
THE IMMIGRANT 



MY picture of America assumes now a 
The Flood certain definite form. I have tried to 
convey the effect of a great and ener 
getic English - speaking population strewn across a 
continent so vast as to make it seem small and thin ; 
I have tried to show this population caught by the 
upward sweep of that great increase in knowledge 
that is everywhere enlarging the power and scope of 
human effort, exhilarated by it, and active and hope 
ful beyond any population the world has ever seen, 
and I have tried to show how the members of this pop 
ulation struggle and differentiate among themselves 
in a universal commercial competition that must, in 
the end, if it is not modified, divide them into two 
permanent classes of rich and poor. I have vent 
ured to hint at a certain emptiness in the resulting 
wealthy, and to note some of the uglinesses and 
miseries inseparable from this competition. I have 
tried to give my impressions of the vague, yet widely 
diffused, will in the nation to resist this differentia 
ls 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

tion, and of a dim, large movement of thought 
towards a change of national method. I have glanced 
at the debasement of politics that bars any immedi 
ate hope of such reconstruction. And now it is time 
to introduce a new element of obstruction and diffi 
culty into this complicating problem the immigrants. 

Into the lower levels of the American community 
there pours perpetually a vast torrent of strangers, 
speaking alien tongues, inspired by alien traditions, 
for the most part illiterate peasants and working- 
people. They come in at the bottom: that must be 
insisted upon. An enormous and ever-increasing 
proportion of the laboring classes, of all the lower 
class in America, is of recent European origin, is 
either of foreign birth or foreign parentage. The 
older American population is being floated up on the 
top of this influx, a sterile aristocracy above a raci 
ally different and astonishingly fecund proletariat. 
(For it grows rankly in this new soil. One section 
of immigrants, the Hungarians, have here a birth 
rate of forty-six in the thousand, the highest of any 
civilized people in the world.) 

Few people grasp the true dimensions of this in 
vasion. Figures carry so little. The influx has 
clambered from half a million to 700,000, to 800,000 ; 
this year the swelling figures roll up as if they mean 
to go far over the million mark. The flood swells to 
overtake the total birth-rate; it has already over 
topped the total of births of children to native- 
American parents. 



THE IMMIGRANT 

I have already told something of the effect of 
Ellis Island. I have told how I watched the long 
procession of simple - looking, hopeful, sunburned 
country folk from Russia, from the Carpathians, 
from southern Italy and Turkey and Syria, filing 
through the wickets, bringing their young wives for 
the mills of Paterson and Fall River, their children 
for the Pennsylvania coal-breakers and the cotton- 
mills of the South. 

Yet there are moments when I could have imag 
ined there were no immigrants at all. All the time, 
except for one distinctive evening, I seem to have 
been talking to English-speaking men, now and then 
to the Irishman, now and then, but less frequently, 
to an Americanized German. In the clubs there are 
no immigrants. There are not even Jews, as there 
are in London clubs. One goes about the wide 
streets of Boston, one meets all sorts of Boston 
people, one visits the State-House; it s all the au 
thentic English-speaking America. Fifth Avenue, 
too, is America without a touch of foreign-born ; and 
Washington. You go a hundred yards south of the 
pretty Boston Common and, behold! you are in a 
polyglot slum! You go a block or so east of Fifth 
Avenue and you are in a vaster, more Yiddish White- 
chapel. You cross from New York to Staten Island, 
attracted by its distant picturesque suggestion of 
scattered homes among the trees, and you discover 
black-tressed, bold-eyed women on those pleasant 
verandas, half-clad brats, and ambiguous washing, 
10 135 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

where once the native American held his simple state. 
You ask the way of a young man who has just 
emerged from a ramshackle factory, and you are 
answered in some totally incomprehensible tongue. 
You come up again after such a dive below, to dine 
with the original Americans again, talk with them, 
go about with them and forget. . . . 

In Boston, one Sunday afternoon, this fact of 
immigration struck upon Mr. Henry James: 

"There went forward across the cop of the hill a 
continuous passage of men and women, in couples 
and talkative companies, who struck me as laboring 
wage-earners of the simpler sort arrayed in their 
Sunday best and decently enjoying their leisure . . . 
no sound of English in a single instance escaped their 
lips ; the greater number spoke a rude form of Italian, 
the others some outland dialect unknown to me 
though I waited and waited to catch an echo of an 
tique refrains." 

That s one of a series of recurrent, uneasy ob 
servations of this great replacement I find in Mr. 
James s book. 

The immigrant does not clamor for attention. He 
is, indeed, almost entirely inaudible, inarticulate, and 
underneath. He is in origin a peasant, inarticulate, 
and underneath by habit and tradition. Mr. James 
has, as it were, to put his ear to earth, to catch the 
murmuring of strange tongues. The incomer is of 
diverse nationality and diverse tongues, and that 
" breaks him up " politically and socially. He drops 

136 



THE IMMIGRANT 

into American clothes, and then he does not catch 
the careless eye. He goes into special regions and 
works there. Where Americans talk or think or 
have leisure to observe, he does not intrude. The 
bulk of the Americans don t get as yet any real sense 
of his portentous multitude at all. He does not read 
very much, and so he produces no effect upon the 
book trade or magazines. You can go through such 
a periodical as Harper s Magazine, for example, from 
cover to cover, and unless there is some article or 
story bearing specifically upon the subject you might 
doubt if there was an immigrant in the country. 
On the liner coming over, at Ellis Island, and some 
times on the railroads one saw him- him and his 
womankind, in some picturesque east- European 
garb, very respectful, very polite, adventurous, and 
a little scared. Then he became less visible. He 
had got into cheap American clothes, resorted to 
what naturalists call " protective mimicry," even 
perhaps acquired a collar. Also his bearing had 
changed, become charged with a certain aggression. 
He had got a pocket-handkerchief, and had learned 
to move fast and work fast, and to chew and spit 
with the proper meditative expression. One detect 
ed him by his diminishing accent, and by a few per 
sistent traits rings in his ears, perhaps, or the like 
adornment. In the next stage these also had gone; 
he had become ashamed of the music of his native 
tongue, and talked even to his wife, on the trolley- 
car and other public places, at least, in brief re- 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

markable American. Before that he had become 
ripe for a vote. 

The next stage of Americanization, I suppose, is 
this dingy quick-eyed citizen with his schooner of 
beer in my Chicago saloon if it is not that crumpled 
thing I saw lying so still in the sunlight under the 
trestle bridge on my way to Washington. . . . 



II 

EVERY American above forty, and 
most of those below that limit, seem 
to be enthusiastic advocates of un 
restricted immigration. I could not make them 
understand the apprehension with which this huge 
dilution of the American people with profoundly 
ignorant foreign peasants rilled me. I rode out on 
an automobile into the pretty New York country 
beyond Yonkers with that finely typical American, 
Mr. Z. he wanted to show me the pleasantness of 
the land, and he sang the song of American con 
fidence, I think, more clearly and loudly than any. 
He told me how everybody had hope, how every 
body had incentive, how magnificently it was all 
going on. He told me what is, I am afraid, a 
widely spread delusion that elementary education 
stands on a higher level of efficiency in the States 
than in England. He had no doubt whatever of 

138 



THE IMMIGRANT 

the national powers of assimilation. " Let them all 
come/ he said, cheerfully. 

"The Chinese?" said I. 

"We can do with them all." . . . 

He was exceptional in that extension. Most 
Americans stop at the Ural Mountains, and refuse 
the "Asiatic." It was not a matter for discussion 
with him, but a question of belief. He had ceased 
to reason about immigration long ago. He was a 
man in the fine autumn of life, abounding in honors, 
wrapped in furs, and we drove swiftly in his auto 
mobile, through the spring sunshine. ("By Jove!" 
thought I, "you talk like Pippa s rich uncle.") By 
some half-brother of a coincidence we happened first 
upon this monument commemorating a memorable 
incident of the War of Independence, and then upon 
that. He recalled details of that great campaign as 
Washington was fought out of Manhattan north 
ward. I remember one stone among the shooting 
trees that indicated where in the Hudson River near 
by a British sloop had fired the first salute in honor 
of the American flag. That salute was vividly pres 
ent still to him; it echoed among the woods, it filled 
him with a sense of personal triumph ; it seemed half 
way back to Agincourt to me. All that bright 
morning the stars and stripes made an almost 
luminous visible presence about us. Open-handed 
hospitality and confidence in God so swayed me that 
it is indeed only now, as I put this book together, I 
see this shining buoyancy, this bunting patriotism, 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

in its direct relation to the Italian babies in the 
cotton-mills, to the sinister crowd that stands in 
the saloon smoking and drinking beer, an accumulat 
ing reserve of unintelligent force behind the ma 
noeuvres of the professional politicians. . . . 

I tried my views upon Commissioner Watchorn as 
we leaned together over the gallery railing and sur 
veyed that bundle-carrying crowd creeping step by 
step through the wire filter of the central hall of 
Ellis Island into America. 

"You don t think they ll swamp you?" I said. 

"Now look here," said the Commissioner, "I m 
English born Derbyshire. I came into America 
when I was a lad. I had fifteen dollars. And here 
I am! Well, do you expect me, now I m here, to 
shut the door on any other poor chaps who want 
a start a start with hope in it, in the New 
World?" 

A pleasant-mannered, a fair-haired young man, 
speaking excellent English, had joined us as we went 
round, and nodded approval. 

I asked him for his opinion, and gathered he was 
from Milwaukee, and the son of a Scandinavian im 
migrant. He, too, was for "fair-play" and an open 
door for every one. " Except, " he added, " Asiatics. " 
So also, I remember, was a very New England lady 
I met at Hull House, who wasn t, as a matter of fact, 
a New-Englander at all, but the daughter of a Ger 
man settler in the Middle West. They all seemed to 
think that I was inspired by hostility to the im- 

140 



THE IMMIGRANT 

migrant in breathing any doubt about the desir 
ability of this immense process. . . . 

I tried in each case to point out that this idea of 
not being churlishly exclusive did not exhaust the 
subject, that the present immigration is a different 
thing entirely from the immigration of half a century 
ago, that in the interest of the immigrant and his 
offspring more than any one, is the protest to be 
made. Fifty years ago more than half of the tor 
rent was English speaking, and the rest mostly from 
the Teutonic and Scandinavian northwest of Europe, 
an influx of people closely akin to the native Amer 
icans in temperament and social tradition. They 
were able to hold their own and mix perfectly. Even 
then the quantity of illiterate Irish produced a 
marked degradation of political life. The earlier 
immigration was an influx of energetic people who 
wanted to come, and who had to put themselves to 
considerable exertion to get here; it was higher in 
character and in social quality than the present flood. 
The immigration of to-day is largely the result of 
energetic canvassing by the steamship companies; 
it is, in the main, an importation of laborers and not 
of economically independent settlers, and it is in 
creasingly alien to the native tradition. The bulk 
of it is now Italian, Russian Jewish, Russian, Hun 
garian, Croatian, Roumanian, and eastern European 
generally. 

"The children learn English, and become more 
American and better patriots than the Americans," 

141 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Commissioner Watchorn echoing everybody in that 
told me. ... 

(In Boston one optimistic lady looked to the 
Calabrian and Sicilian peasants to introduce an 
artistic element into the population no doubt be 
cause they come from the same peninsula that pro 
duced the Florentines.) 



in 

WILL the reader please remember that 
Assimilation I ve been just a few weeks in the States 
altogether, and value my impressions 
at that! And will he, nevertheless, read of doubts 
that won t diminish. I doubt very much if America 
is going to assimilate all that she is taking in now; 
much more do I doubt that she will assimilate the 
still greater inflow of the coming years. I believe 
she is going to find infinite difficulties in that task. 
By "assimilate" I mean make intelligently co-opera 
tive citizens of these people. She will, I have no 
doubt whatever, impose upon them a bare use of the 
English language, and give them votes and certain 
patriotic persuasions, but I believe that if things 
go on as they are going the great mass of them will 
remain a very low lower class will remain largely 
illiterate industrialized peasants. They are decent- 
minded peasant people, orderly, industrious people, 
rather dirty in their habits, and with a low standard 

142 



THE IMMIGRANT 

of life. Wherever they accumulate in numbers they 
present to my eye a social phase far below the level 
of either England, France, north Italy, or Switzer 
land. And, frankly, I do not find the American 
nation has either in its schools which are as back 
ward in some States as they are forward in others 
in its press, in its religious bodies or its general tone, 
any organized means or effectual influences for 
raising these huge masses of humanity to the require 
ments of an ideal modern civilization. They are, to 
rny mind, " biting off more than they can chaw" in 
this matter. 

I got some very interesting figures from Dr. Hart, 
of the Children s Home and Aid Society, Chicago, 
in this matter. He was pleading for the immigrant 
against my scepticisms. He pointed out to me that 
the generally received opinion that the European im 
migrants are exceptionally criminal is quite wrong. 
The 1 900 census report collapsed after a magnificent 
beginning, and its figures are not available, but from 
the earlier records there can be no doubt that the 
percentage of criminals among the " foreign-born" 
is higher than that among the native-born. This, 
however, is entirely due to the high criminal record 
of the French Canadians in the Northeast, and the 
Mexicans in Arizona, who are not over-seas immi 
grants at all. The criminal statistics of the French 
Canadians in the States should furnish useful matter 
for the educational controversy in Great Britain. 
Allowing for their activities which appear to be 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

based on an education of peculiar religious virtue 
the figures bring the criminal percentage among the 
foreigners far below that of the native-born. But 
Dr. Hart s figures also showed very clearly some 
thing further : as between the offspring of native and 
foreign parents the preponderance of crime is enor 
mously on the side of the latter. 

That, at any rate, falls in with my own precon 
ceptions and roving observations. Bear in mind 
always that this is just one questioning individual s 
impression. It seems to me that the immigrant 
arrives an artless, rather uncivilized, pious, good- 
hearted peasant, with a disposition towards sub 
missive industry and rude effectual moral habits. 
America, it is alleged, makes a man of him. It 
seems to me that all too often she makes an in 
furiated toiler of him, tempts him with dollars and 
speeds him up with competition, hardens him, 
coarsens his manners, and, worst crime of all, lures 
and forces him to sell his children into toil. The 
home of the immigrant in America looks to me worse 
than the home he came from in Italy. It is just as 
dirty, it is far less simple and beautiful, the food is 
no more wholesome, the moral atmosphere far less 
wholesome; and, as a consequence, the child of the 
immigrant is a worse man than his father. 

I am fully aware of the generosity, the nobility of 
sentiment which underlies the American objection to 
any hindrance to immigration. But either that 
general sentiment should be carried out to a logical 

144 



THE IMMIGRANT 

completeness and a gigantic and costly machinery 
organized to educate and civilize these people as 
they come in, or it should be chastened to restrict the 
inflow to numbers assimilable under existing condi 
tions. At present, if we disregard sentiment, if we 
deny the alleged need of gross flattery whenever one 
writes of America for Americans, and state the bare 
facts of the case, they amount to this: that America, 
in the urgent process of individualistic industrial 
development, in its feverish haste to get through 
with its material possibilities, is importing a large 
portion of the peasantry of central and eastern 
Europe, and converting it into a practically illiterate 
industrial proletariat. In doing this it is doing a 
something that, however different in spirit, differs 
from the slave trade of its early history only in the 
narrower gap between employer and laborer. In the 
"colored" population America has already ten mill 
ion descendants of unassimilated and perhaps un- 
assimilable labor immigrants. These people are not 
only half civilized and ignorant, but they have in 
fected the white population about them with a 
kindred ignorance. For there can be no doubt that 
if an Englishman or Scotchman of the year 1 500 were 
to return to earth and seek his most retrograde and 
decivilized descendants, he would find them at last 
among the white and colored population south of 
Washington. And I have a foreboding that in this 
mixed flood of workers that pours into America by 
the million to-day, in this torrent of ignorance, 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

against which that heroic being, the schoolmarm, 
battles at present all unaided by men, there is to be 
found the possibility of another dreadful separation 
of class and kind, a separation perhaps not so pro 
found but far more universal. One sees the possi 
bility of a rich industrial and mercantile aristocracy 
of western European origin, dominating a darker- 
haired, darker -eyed, uneducated proletariat from 
central and eastern Europe. The immigrants are 
being given votes, I know, but that does not free 
them, it only enslaves the country. The negroes 
were given votes. 

That is the quality of the danger as I see it. But 
before this indigestion of immigrants becomes an in 
curable sickness of the States many things may hap 
pen. There is every sign, as I have said, that a great 
awakening, a great disillusionment, is going on in the 
American mind. The Americans have become sud 
denly self -critical, are hot with an unwonted fever 
for reform and constructive effort. This swamping 
of the country may yet be checked. They may 
make a strenuous effort to emancipate children be 
low fifteen from labor, and so destroy one of the 
chief inducements of immigration. Once convince 
them that their belief in the superiority of their 
public schools to those of England and Germany is 
an illusion, or at least that their schools are inade 
quate to the task before them, and it may be they 
will perform some swift American miracle of educa 
tional organization and finance. For all the very 

146 



THE IMMIGRANT 

heavy special educational charges that are needed if 
the immigrant is really to be assimilated, it seems a 
reasonable proposal that immigration should pay. 
Suppose the new-comer were presently to be taxed on 
arrival for his own training and that of any children 
he had with him, that again would check the inrush 
very greatly. Or the steamship company might be 
taxed, and left to settle the trouble with the im 
migrant by raising his fare. And finally, it may be 
that if the line is drawn, as it seems highly probable 
it will be, at Asiatics," then there may even be a 
drying up of the torrent at its source. The European 
countries are not unlimited reservoirs of offspring. 
As they pass from their old conditions into more and 
more completely organized modern industrial states, 
they develop a new internal equilibrium and cease 
to secrete an excess of population. England no 
longer supplies any great quantity of Americans; 
Scotland barely any ; France is exhausted ; Ire 
land, Germany, Scandinavia have, it seems, dis 
gorged nearly all their surplus load, and now run 
dry. . . . 

These are all mitigations of the outlook, but still 
the dark shadow of disastrous possibility remains. 
The immigrant comes in to weaken and confuse the 
counsels of labor, to serve the purposes of corruption, 
to complicate any economic and social development, 
above all to retard enormously the development of 
that national consciousness and will on which the 
hope of the future depends. 

i47 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

IV 

I TOLD these doubts of mine to a 

mal ^ 

Alliance 



The Educational p i easant you ng lady of New York, who 



seems to find much health and a sus 
taining happiness in settlement work on the East 
Side. She scorned my doubts. "Children make 
better citizens than the old Americans," she said, 
like one who quotes a classic, and took me with her 
forthwith to see the central school of the Educational 
Alliance, that fine imposing building in East Broad 
way. 

It s a thing I m glad not to have missed. I recall 
a large cool room with a sloping floor, tier rising 
above tier of seats and desks, and a big class of 
bright-eyed Jewish children, boys and girls, each 
waving two little American flags to the measure of 
the song they sang, singing to the accompaniment 
of the piano on the platform beside us. 

"God bless our native land," they sang with a 
considerable variety of accent and distinctness, but 
with a very real emotion. 

Some of them had been in America a month, some 
much longer, but here they were under the aus 
pices of the wealthy Hebrews of New York and Mr. 
Blaustein s enthusiastic direction being American 
ized. They sang of America "sweet land of 
liberty"; they stood up and drilled with the little 
bright pretty flags; swish they crossed and swish 
they waved back, a waving froth of flags and flushed 

148 



THE IMMIGRANT 

children s faces ; and they stood up and repeated the 
oath of allegiance, and at the end filed tramping by 
me and out of the hall. The oath they take is finely 
worded. It runs: 

"Flag our great Republic, inspirer in battle, 
guardian of our homes, whose stars and stripes stand 
for bravery, purity, truth, and union, we salute 
thee! We, the natives of distant lands, who find 
rest under thy folds, do pledge our hearts, our lives, 
and our sacred honor to love and protect thee, our 
country, and the liberty of the American people 
forever." 

I may have been fanciful, but as I stood aside and 
watched them going proudly past, it seemed to me 
that eyes met mine, triumphant and victorious eyes 
for was I not one of these British from whom free 
dom was won ? But that was an ignoble suspicion. 
They had been but a few weeks in America, and that 
light in their eyes was just a brotherly challenge to 
one they supposed a fellow-citizen who stood unduly 
thoughtful amid their rhythmic exaltation. They 
tramped out and past with their flags and guidons. 

"It is touching!" whispered my guide, and I saw 
she had caught a faint reflection of that glow that lit 
the children. 

I told her it was the most touching thing I had 
seen in America. 

And so it remains. 

Think of the immense promise in it ! Think of the 
flower of belief and effort that may spring from this 

149 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

warm sowing! We passed out of this fluttering 
multiplication of the most beautiful flag in the 
world, into streets abominable with offal and inde 
scribable filth, and dark and horrible under the 
thunderous girders of the Elevated railroad, to our 
other quest for that morning, a typical New York 
tenement. For I wanted to see one, with practically 
windowless bedrooms. . . . 

The Educational Alliance is of course not a public 
institution; it was organized by Hebrews, and con 
ducted for Hebrews, chiefly for the benefit of the 
Hebrew immigrant. It is practically the only or 
ganized attempt to Americanize the immigrant child. 
After the children have mastered sufficient English 
and acquired the simpler elements of patriotism 
which is practically no more than an emotional 
attitude towards the flag they pass on into the 
ordinary public schools. 

"Yes," I told my friend, "I know how these 
children feel. That, less articulate perhaps, but 
no less sincere, is the thing something between 
pride and a passionate desire that fills three- 
quarters of the people at Ellis Island now. They 
come ready to love and worship, ready to bow down 
and kiss the folds of your flag. They give them 
selves they want to give. Do you know I, too, 
have come near feeling that at times for America." . . . 

We were separated for a while by a long hole in the 
middle of the street and a heap of builder s refuse. 
Before we came within talking distance again I was 

150 



THE IMMIGRANT 

in reaction against the gleam of satisfaction my last 
confession had evoked. 

"In the end," I said, "you Americans won t be 
able to resist it." 

"Resist what?" 

"You ll respect your country," I said. 

"What do you mean?" 

In those crowded noisy East Side streets one has 
to shout, and shout compact things. "This!" I 
said to the barbaric disorder about us. "Lynching! 
Child Labor! Graft!" 

Then we were separated by a heap of decaying 
fish that some hawker had dumped in the gutter. 

My companion shouted something I did not catch. 

"We ll tackle it!" she repeated. 

I looked at her, bright and courageous and youth 
ful, a little overconfident, I thought, but extremely 
reassuring, going valiantly through a disorderly 
world of obstacles, and for the moment I sup 
pose that \vaving bunting and the children s voices 
had got into my head a little I forgot all sorts of 
things. . . . 

I could have imagined her the spirit of America 
incarnate rather than a philanthropic young lady of 
New York. 



CHAPTER X 
STATE-BLINDNESS 



IN what I have written so far, I have 

Sen stat f e the tried to S et tne effect of the American 
outlook, the American task, the Amer 
ican problem as a whole, as it has presented itself to 
me. Clearly, as I see it, it is a mental and moral 
issue. There seems to me an economic process 
going on that tends to concentrate first wealth and 
then power in the hands of a small number of ad 
venturous individuals of no very high intellectual 
type, a huge importation of alien and unassimilable 
workers, and a sustained disorder of local and 
political administration. Correlated with this is a 
great increase in personal luxury and need. In all 
these respects there is a strong parallelism between 
the present condition of the United States and the 
Roman Republic in the time of the early Caesars ; and 
arguing from these alone one might venture to fore 
cast the steady development of an exploiting and 
devastating plutocracy, leading perhaps to Cassarism, 
and a progressive decline in civilization and social 

152 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

solidarity. But there are forces of recuperation and 
construction in America such as the earlier instance 
did not display. There is infinitely more original 
and originating thought in the state, there are the 
organized forces of science, a habit of progress, clearer 
and wider knowledge among the general mass of the 
people. These promise, and must, indeed, inevit 
ably make, some synthetic effort of greater or less 
homogeneity and force. It is upon that synthetic 
effort that the distinctive destiny of America de 
pends. 

I propose to go on now to discuss the mental 
quality of America as I have been able to focus it. 
(Remember always that I am an undiplomatic 
tourist of no special knowledge or authority, who 
came, moreover, to America with certain prepos 
sessions.) And first, and chiefly, I have to convey 
what seems to me the most significant and pregnant 
thing of all. It is a matter of something wanting, 
that the American shares with the great mass of 
prosperous middle-class people in England. I think 
it is best indicated by saying that the typical Amer 
ican has no " sense of the state. " I do not mean that 
he is not passionately and vigorously patriotic. But 
I mean that he has no perception that his business 
activities, his private employments, are constituents 
in a large collective process; that they affect other 
people and the world forever, and cannot, as he 
imagines, begin and end with him. He sees the 
world in fragments; it is to him a multitudinous 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

collection of individual "stories" as the news 
papers put it. If one studies an American newspaper, 
one discovers it is all individuality, all a matter of 
personal doings, of w T hat so and so said and how so 
and so felt. And all these individualities are un- 
fused. Not a touch of abstraction or generalization, 
no thinnest atmosphere of reflection, mitigates these 
harsh, emphatic, isolated happenings. The Amer 
ican, it seems to me, has yet to achieve what is, 
after all, the product of education and thought, 
the conception of a whole to which all individual 
acts and happenings are subordinate and contrib 
utory. 

When I say this much, I do not mean to insinuate 
that any other nation in the world has any superiority 
in this matter. But I do want to urge that the 
American problem is pre-eminently one that must 
be met by broad ways of thinking, by creative, 
synthetic, and merging ideas, and that a great num 
ber of Americans seem to lack these altogether. 



ii 

LET me by way of illustration give a 
specimen American mind. It is not the 
mind of a writer or philosopher, it is 
just a plain successful business - man who exposes 
himself, and makes it clear that this want of any 
sense of the state of any large duty of constructive 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

loyalty, is not an idiosyncrasy, but the quality of all 
his circle, his friends, his religious teacher. . . . 

I found my specimen in a book called With John 
Bull and Jonathan. It contains the rather rambling 
reminiscences of Mr. J. Morgan Richards, the 
wealthy and successful London agent of a great 
number of well - advertised American proprietary 
articles, and I read it first, I will confess, chiefly in 
search of such delightful phrases as the one " mam 
moth in character" I have already quoted. But 
there were few to equal that first moment s bright 
discovery. What I got from it finally wasn t so 
much that sort of thing as this realization of Mr. 
Richards s peculiar quality, this acute sense of all 
that he hadn t got. Mr. Richards told of adver 
tising enterprises, of contracts and journey ings, of 
his great friendship with the late Dr. Parker, of his 
domestic affairs, and all the changes in the world 
that had struck him, and of a remarkable dining 
club, called (paradoxically) the Sphinx, in which 
the giants (or are they the mammoths ?) of the world 
of advertisement foregather. He gave his portrait, 
and the end-paper presented him playfully as the 
jolly president of the Sphinx Club, champagne- 
bottle crowned, but else an Egyptian monarch; and 
on the cover are two gilt hands clasped across a gilt 
ripple of sea (" hands across the sea"), tinder inter 
twining English and American flags. From the 
book one got an effect, garrulous perhaps, but on the 
whole not unpleasing, of an elderly but still active 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

business personality quite satisfied by his achieve 
ments, and representative of I know not what pro 
portion, but at any rate a considerable proportion, of 
his fellow-countrymen. And one got an effect of a 
being not simply indifferent to the health and vigor 
and growth of the community of which he was a 
part, but unaware of its existence. 

He displays this irresponsibility of the commercial 
mind so illuminatingly because he does in a way 
attempt to tell something more than his personal 
story. He notes the changes in the world about 
him, how this has improved and that progressed, 
which contrasts between England and America 
struck upon his mind. That he himself is respon 
sible amid these changes never seems to dawn upon 
him. His freedom from any sense of duty to the 
world as a whole, of any subordination of trading to 
great ideas, is naive and fundamental. He tells of 
how he arranged with the authorities in charge of the 
Independence Day celebrations on Boston Common 
to display "three large pieces" containing the name 
of a certain " bitters," which they did, and how this 
no doubt very desirable commodity was first largely 
advertised throughout the United States in the fall of 
1 86 1, and rapidly became the success of the day, be 
cause of the enormous amount of placarding given to 
the cabalistic characters S-T- i86o-X. Those 
strange letters and figures stared upon people from 
wall and fence and tree, in every leading town 
throughout the United States. They were painted 

156 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

on the rocks of the Hudson River to such an extent 
that the attention of the Legislature was drawn to 
the fact, and a law was passed to prevent the further 
disfigurement of river scenery." 

He calls this "cute." He tells, too, of his educa 
tional work upon the English press, how he won it 
over to "display" advertisements, and devised "the 
first sixteen-sheet double-demy poster ever seen in 
England in connection with a proprietary article." 
He introduced the smoking of cigarettes into England 
against great opposition. Mr. Richards finds no in 
congruity, but apparently a very delightful associa 
tion, in the fact that this great victory for the 
adolescent s cigarette was won on the site of Strud- 
wick s house, wherein John Bunyan died, and hard 
by the path of the Smithfield martyrs to their fiery 
sacrifice. Both they and Mr. Richards "lit such a 
candle in England- 
Well, my business is not to tell of the feats by 
which Mr. Richards grew wealthy and important as a 
tree may grow and flourish amid the masonry it 
helps to disintegrate. My business is purely with 
his insensibility to the state as an aspect of his per 
sonal life. It is insensibility not disregard or 
hostility. One gets an impression from this book 
that if Mr. Richards had lived in a different culture, 
he would have been a generous giver of himself. In 
spite of his curious incapacity to appreciate any issues 
larger than large enterprises in selling, he is very 
evidently a religious man. He sat under the late 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Dr. Parker of the rich and prosperous City Temple, 
and that reverend gentleman s leonine visage adorns 
the book. Its really the light one gets on Dr. 
Parker and his teaching that appeals to me most in 
this volume. For this gentleman Mr. Richards seems 
to have entertained a feeling approaching reverence. 
He notes such details as : 

"At the conclusion of an invocation or prayer, his 
habit always was to make a pause of a few seconds 
before pronouncing Amen/ This was most im 
pressive. . . . 

"He spoke such words as God/ Jesus Christ/ 
No/ Yes, Nothing/ in a way to give more 
value to each word than any speaker I have ever 
heard." 

They became great friends, rarely a week passed 
without their meeting, and, says Mr. Richards, he 
"was pleased, in the course of time, to honor me 
with his confidence in a marked degree, as though 
he recognized in me some quality which satisfied his 
judgment, that I could be trusted in business ques 
tions quite apart from those relating to his church. 
He was not only a born preacher, but possessed a 
marvellous grasp of sound, practical knowledge 
upon the affairs of the day. I often consulted with 
him regarding my own affairs, always getting the 
most practical help." 

When Dr. Parker came to America, the two 
friends corresponded warmly, and several of the 
letters are quoted. Even "5000 a year easily 

158 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

made" could not tempt him from London and the 
modest opulence of the City Temple. . . . 

But my business now is not to dwell on these 
characteristic details, but to point out that Mr. 
Richards does not stand alone in the entire detach 
ment, not only of his worldly achievements, but of 
his spiritual life, from any creative solicitude for the 
state. If he was merely an isolated " character" I 
should have no concern with him. His association 
with Dr. Parker shows most luminously that he 
presents a whole cult of English and American rich 
traders, who in America "sat under" such men as 
the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, for example, who evi 
dently stand for much more in America than in Eng 
land, and who, so far as the state and political and 
social work go, are scarcely of more use, are probably 
more hindrance, than any organization of selfish vo 
luptuaries of equal wealth and numbers. It is a 
cult, it has its teachers and its books. I have had a 
glimpse of one of its manuals. I find Mr. Richards 
quoting with approval Dr. Parker s "Ten General 
Commandments for Men of Business," command 
ments which strike me as not only State-blind, but 
utterly God-blind, which are, indeed, no more than 
shrewd counsels for "getting on." It is really quite 
horrible stuff morally. "Thou shalt not hobnob 
with idle persons," parodies Dr. Parker in command 
ment V., so glossing richly upon the teachings of Him 
who ate with publicans and sinners, and (no doubt 
to instil the advisability of keeping one s more 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

delicate business procedure in one s own hands), 
"Thou shalt not forget that a servant who can tell 
lies for thee, may one day tell lies to thee." . . . 

I am not throwing any doubt upon the sincerity 
of Dr. Parker and Mr. Richards. I believe that 
nothing could exceed the transparent honesty that 
ends this record which tells of a certain bitters 
pushed at the sacrifice of beautiful scenery, of a 
successful propaganda of cigarette-smoking, and of 
all sorts of proprietary articles landed well home in 
their gastric target of a whole life lost, indeed, in 
commercial self-seeking, with "What shall I render 
unto the Lord for all his benefits?" 

" The Now is an atom of Sand, 

And the Near is a perishing Clod, 
But Afar is a fairyland, 

And Beyond is the Bosom of God." 

What I have to insist upon now is that this is a 
sample, and, so far as I can tell, a fair sample, of the 
quality and trend of the mind-stuff and the breadth 
and height of the tradition of a large and I know 
not how influential mass of prosperous middle- 
class English, and of a much more prosperous and in 
fluential and important section of Americans. They 
represent much energy, they represent much prop 
erty, they are a factor to reckon with. They pre 
sent a powerful opposing force to anything that will 
suppress their disgusting notice-boards or analyze 
their ambiguous "proprietary articles," or tax their 

1 60 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

gettings for any decent public purpose. And here I 
find them selling poisons as pain-killers, and alcohol 
as tonics, and fighting ably and boldly to silence ad 
verse discussion. In the face of the great needs that 
lie before America their active trivality of soul, their 
energy and often unscrupulous activity, and their 
quantitative importance become, to my mind, ad 
verse and threatening, a stumbling-block for hope. 
For the impression I have got by going to and fro 
in America is that Mr, Richards is a fair sample of 
at least the older type of American. So far as I can 
learn, Mr. J. D. Rockefeller is just another product 
of the same cult. You meet these older types every 
where, they range from fervent piety and temper 
ance to a hearty drinking, "story "-telling, poker- 
playing type, but they have in common a sharp, 
shrewd, narrow, business habit of mind that ignores 
the future and the state altogether. But I do not 
find the younger men are following in their lines. 
Some are. But just how many and to what extent, 
I do not know. It is very hard for a literary man to 
estimate the quantity and importance of ideas in a 
community. The people he meets naturally all 
entertain ideas, or they would not come in his way. 
The people who have new ideas talk ; those who have 
not, go about their business. But I hazard an 
opinion that Young America now presents an al 
together different type from the young men of enter 
prise and sound Baptist and business principles who 
were the backbone of the irresponsible commercial 

161 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

America of yesterday, the America that rebuilt 
Chicago on "floating foundations," covered the 
world with advertisement boards, gave the great 
cities the elevated railroads, and organized the 
trusts. 



in 

I SPENT a curious day amid the 
Oneida memories of that strangely interesting 
social experiment, the Oneida Com 
munity, and met a most significant contemporary, 
"live American" of the newer school, in the son of 
the founder and the present head of "Oneida 
Limited." 

There are moments when that visit I paid to 
Oneida seems to me to stand for all America. The 
place, you know, was once the seat of a perfectionist 
community; the large red community buildings 
stand now among green lawns and ripening trees, and 
I dined in the communal dining-room, and visited 
the library, and saw the chain and trap factory, and 
the silk-spinning factory and something of all its 
industries. I talked to old and middle-aged people 
who told me all sorts of interesting things of " com 
munity days," looked through curious old-fashioned 
albums of photographs, showing the women in their 
bloomers and cropped hair, and the men in the ill- 
fitting frock-coats of the respectable mediocre per- 

162 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

son in early Victorian times. I think that some of 
the reminiscences I awakened had been voiceless for 
some time. At moments it was like hearing the 
story of a flattened, dry, and colorless flower be 
tween the pages of a book, of a verse written in 
faded ink, or of some daguerreotype spotted and 
faint beyond recognition. It was extraordinarily 
New England in its quality as I looked back at it all. 
They claimed a quiet perfection of soul, they search 
ed one another marvellously for spiritual chastening, 
they defied custom and opinion, they followed their 
reasoning and their theology to the inmost amaz 
ing abnegations and they kept themselves solvent 
by the manufacture of steel traps that catch the 
legs of beasts in their strong and pitiless jaws. . . . 
But this book is not about the things that con 
cerned Oneida in community days, and I mention 
them here only because of the curious developments 
of the present time. Years ago, when the founder, 
John Humphrey Noyes, grew old and unable to con 
trol the new dissensions that arose out of the scep 
tical attitude of the younger generation towards his 
ingenious theology, and such-like stresses, commu 
nism was abandoned, the religious life and services 
discontinued, the concern turned into a joint-stock 
company, and the members made shareholders on 
strictly commercial lines. For some years its 
prosperity declined. Many of the members went 
away. But a nucleus remained as residents in the 
old buildings, and after a time there were returns. 

163 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

I was told that in the early days of the new period 
there was a violent reaction against communistic 
methods, a jealous inexperienced insistence upon 
property. " It was difficult to borrow a hammer," 
said one of my informants. 

Then, as the new generation began to feel its feet, 
came a fresh development of vitality. The Oneida 
company began to set up new machinery, to seek 
wider markets, to advertise and fight competitors. 

This Mr. P. B. Noyes was the leader into the new 
paths. He possesses all the force of character, the 
constructive passion, the imaginative power of his 
progenitor, and it has all gone into business com 
petition. I have heard much talk of the romance 
of business, chiefly from people I heartily despised, 
but in Mr. Noyes I found business indeed romantic. 
It had got hold of him, it possessed him like a 
passion. He has inspired all his half-brothers and 
cousins and younger fellow-members of the com 
munity with his own imaginative motive. They, 
too, are enthusiasts for business. 

Mr. Noyes is a tall man, who looks down when he 
talks to one. He showed me over the associated 
factories, told me how the trap trade of all North 
America is in Oneida s hands, told me of how they 
fight and win against the British traps in South 
America and Burmah. He showed me photographs 
of panthers in traps, tigers in traps, bears snarling 
at death, unfortunate deer, foxes caught by the 
paws. . . . 

164 



STATE-BLINDNESS 

I did my best to forget those photographs at once 
in the interest of his admirable machinery, which 
busied itself with chain-making as though it had 
eyes and hands. I went beside him, full of that 
respect that a literary man must needs feel when a 
creative business controller displays his quality. 

"But the old religion of Oneida?" I would in 
terpolate. 

" Each one of us is free to follow his own religion. 
Here is a new sort of chain we are making for hang 
ing-lamps. Hitherto " 

Presently I would try again. "Are the workers 
here in any way members of the community?" 

"Oh no! Many of them are Italian immigrants. 
We think of building a school for them. ... No, we 
get no labor troubles. We pay always above the 
trade-union rates, and so we get the pick of the 
workmen. Our class of work can t be sweated." . . . 

Yes, he was an astonishing personality, so im 
mensely concentrated on these efficient manu 
facturing and trading developments, so evidently 
careless of theology, philosophy, social speculation, 
beauty. 

"Your father was a philosopher," I said. 

" I think in ten years time I may give up the con 
trol here," he threw out, "and write something." 

"I ve thought of the publishing trade myself," I 
said, "when my wits are old and stiff." . . . 

I never met a man before so firmly gripped by the 
romantic constructive and adventurous element of 

165 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

business, so little concerned about personal riches 
or the accumulation of wealth. He illuminated 
much that had been dark to me in the American 
character. I think better of business by reason of 
him. And time after time I tried him upon politics. 
It came to nothing. Making a new world was, he 
thought, a rhetorical flourish about futile and 
troublesome activities, and politicians merely a dis 
reputable sort of parasite upon honorable people 
who made chains and plated spoons. All his con 
structive instincts, all his devotion, were for Oncida 
and its enterprises. America was just the impartial 
space, the large liberty, in which Oneida grew, the 
Stars and Stripes a wide sanction akin to the im 
partial irresponsible harboring sky overhead. Sense 
of the State had never grown in him can now, I 
felt convinced, never grow. . . . 

But some day, I like to imagine, the World State, 
and not Oneida corporations, and a nobler trade 
than traps, will command such services as his. 



CHAPTER XI 
TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 



IN considering the quality of the 
American mind (upon which, as I be 
lieve, the ultimate destiny of America 
entirely depends) , it has been necessary to point out 
that, considered as one whole, it still seems lacking 
in any of that living sense of the state out of which 
constructive effort must arise, and that, conse 
quently, enormous amounts of energy go to waste 
in anarchistic and chaotically competitive private 
enterprise. I believe there are powerful forces at 
work in the trend of modern thought, science, and 
method, in the direction of bringing order, control, 
and design into this confused gigantic conflict, and 
the discussion of these constructive forces must 
necessarily form the crown of my forecast of Amer 
ica s future. But before I come to that I must deal 
with certain American traits that puzzle me, that I 
cannot completely explain to myself, that dash my 
large expectations with an obstinate shadow of fore 
boding. Essentially these are disintegrating in- 

167 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

fluences, in the nature of a fierce intolerance, that 
lead to conflicts and destroy co-operation. One 
makes one s criticism with compunction. One 
moves through the American world, meeting con 
stantly with kindness and hospitality, with a famil 
iar helpfulness that is delightful, with sympathetic 
enterprise and energetic imagination, and then sud 
denly there flashes out a quality of harshness. . . . 

I will explain in a few minutes what I mean by 
this flash of harshness. Let me confess here that I 
cannot determine whether it is a necessary conse 
quence of American conditions, the scar upon the 
soul of too strenuous business competition, or whether 
it is something deeper, some subtle, unavoidable 
infection perhaps in this soil that was once the Red 
Indian s battle-ground, some poison, it may be, 
mingled with this clear exhilarating air. And going 
with this harshness there seems also something else, 
a contempt for abstract justice that one does not 
find in any European intelligence not even among 
the English. This contempt may be a correlative 
of the intense practicality begotten by a scruple- 
destroying commercial training. That, at any rate, 
is my own prepossession. Conceivably I am over- 
disposed to make that tall lady in New York Harbor 
stand as a symbol for the liberty of property, and to 
trace the indisputable hastiness of life here it is 
haste sometimes rather than speed, its scorn of 
aesthetic and abstract issues, this frequent quality of 
harshness, and a certain public disorder, whatever 

168 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

indeed mars the splendid promise and youth of 
America, to that. I think it is an accident of the 
commercial phase that presses men beyond dignity, 
patience, and magnanimity. I am loath to believe it 
is something fundamentally American. 

I have very clearly in my memory the figure of 
young MacQueen, in his gray prison clothes in Tren 
ton jail, and how I talked with him. He and Mr. 
Booker T. Washington and Maxim Gorky stand for 
me as figures in the shadow symbolical men. I 
think of America as pride and promise, as large 
growth and large courage, all set with beautiful 
fluttering bunting, and then my vision of these three 
men comes back to me; they return presences in 
separable from my American effect, unlit and un 
complaining on the sunless side of her, implying 
rather than voicing certain accusations. America 
can be hasty, can be obstinately thoughtless and 
unjust. . . . 

Well, let me set down as shortly as I can how I 
saw them, and then go on again with my main thesis. 



ii 

MACQUEEN is one of those young men 
MacQueen England is now making by the thousand 
in her elementary schools a man of 
that active, intelligent, mentally hungry, self -edu 
cating sort that is giving us our elementary teach- 

169 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

ers, our labor members, able journalists, authors, 
civil servants, and some of the most public-spirited 
and efficient of our municipal administrators. He 
is the sort of man an Englishman grows prouder of 
as he sees America and something of her politicians 
and labor leaders. After his board -school days 
MacQueen went to work as a painter and grainer, 
and gave his spare energy to self -education. He 
mastered German, and read widely and freely. He 
corresponded with William Morris, devoured Tolstoy 
and Bernard Shaw, followed the Clarion week by 
week, discussed social questions, wrote to the news 
papers, debated, made speeches. The English read 
er will begin to recognize the type. Jail had worn 
him when I saw him, but I should think he was al 
ways physically delicate; he wears spectacles, he 
warms emotionally as he talks. And he decided, 
after much excogitation, that the ideal state is one 
of so fine a quality of moral training that people will 
not need coercion and repressive laws. He calls 
himself an anarchist of the early Christian, Tols 
toy an, non-resisting school. Such an anarchist was 
Emerson, among other dead Americans whose 
names are better treasured than their thoughts. 
That sort of anarchist has as much connection with 
embittered bomb-throwers and assassins as Miss 
Florence Nightingale has with the woman Hartmann, 
who put on a nurse s uniform to poison and rob. . . . 
Well, MacQueen led an active life in England, 
married, made a decent living, and took an honor- 

170 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

able part in the local affairs of Leeds until he was 
twenty-six. Then he conceived a desire for wider 
opportunity than England offers men of his class. 

In January, 1902, he crossed the Atlantic, and, 
no doubt, he came very much aglow with the 
American idea. He felt that he was exchanging a 
decadent country of dwarfing social and political 
traditions for a land of limitless outlook. He became 
a proof-reader in New York, and began to seek 
around him for opportunities of speaking and for 
warding social progress. He tried to float a news 
paper. The New York labor-unions found him a 
useful speaker, and, among others, the German 
silk-workers of New York became aware of him. 
In June they asked him to go to Paterson to speak 
in German to the weavers in that place. 

The silk-dyers were on strike in Paterson, but the 
weavers were weaving "scab-silk," dyed by dyers 
elsewhere, and it was believed that the dyers strike 
would fail unless they struck also. They had to be 
called out. They were chiefly Italians, some Hun 
garians. It was felt by the New York German silk- 
workers that perhaps MacQueen s German learned 
in England might meet the linguistic difficulties of 
the case. 

He went. I hope he will forgive me if I say that 
his was an extremely futile expedition. He did very 
little. He wrote an entirely harmless article or so in 
English for La Questione Sociale, and he declined 
with horror and publicity to appear upon the same 

171 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

platform with a mischievous and violent lady 
anarchist called Emma Goldman. On June 17, 
1902, he went to Paterson again, and spoke to his 
own undoing. There is no evidence that he said any 
thing illegal or inflammatory, there is clear evidence 
that he bored his audience. They shouted him 
down, and called for a prominent local speaker named 
Galiano. MacQueen subsided into the background, 
and Galiano spoke for an hour in Italian. He 
aroused great enthusiasm, and the proceedings ter 
minated with a destructive riot. 

Eight witnesses testify to the ineffectual efforts 
on the part of MacQueen to combat the violence in 
progress. . . . 

That finishes the story of MacQueen s activities 
in America, for which he is now in durance at Tren 
ton. He, in common with a large crowd and in 
common, too, with nearly all the witnesses against 
him, did commit one offence against the law he did 
not go home when destruction began. He was ar 
rested next day. From that time forth his fate was 
out of his hands, and in the control of a number of 
people who wanted to "make an example" of the 
Paterson strikers. The press took up MacQueen. 
They began to clothe the bare bones of this simple 
little history I have told in fluent, unmitigated lying. 
They blackened him, one might think, out of sheer 
artistic pleasure in the operation. They called this 
rather nervous, educated, nobly meaning if ill- 
advised young man a "notorious anarchist"; his 

172 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

head -line title became "Anarchistic MacQueen"; 
they wrote his " story" in a vein of imaginative 
fervor; they invented "an unsavory police record" 
for him in England; and enlarged upon the mar 
vellous secret organization for crime of which he was 
representative and leader. In a little while Mac- 
Queen had ceased to be a credible human being ; he 
might have been invented by Mr. William le Queux. 
He was arrested Galiano went scot-free and re 
leased on bail. It was discovered that his pleasant, 
decent Yorkshire wife and three children were 
coming out to America to him, and she became " the 
woman Nellie Barton" her maiden name and "a 
socialist of the Emma Goldman stripe." This, one 
gathers, is the most horrible stripe known to Amer 
ican journalism. Had there been a worse one, Mrs. 
MacQueen would have been the ex officio. And now 
here is an extraordinary thing public officials began 
to join in the process. This is what perplexes me most 
in this affair. I am told that Assistant-Secretary-of- 
the-Treasury H. A. Taylor, without a fact to go upon, 
subscribed to the "unsavory record" legend and 
Assistant-Secretary C. H. Keep fell in with it. They 
must have seen what it was they were indorsing. 
In a letter from Mr. Keep to the Reverend A. W. 
Wishart, of Trenton (who throughout has fought 
most gallantly for justice in this case), I find Mr. 
Keep distinguishes himself by the artistic device of 
putting "William MacQueen V name in inverted 
commas. So, very delicately, he conveys out of the 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

void the insinuation that the name is an alias. 
while the Commissioner of Immigration prepared to 
take a hand in the game of breaking up MacQueen. 
He stopped Mrs. MacQueen at the threshold of 
liberty, imprisoned her in Ellis Island, and sent her 
back to Europe. MacQueen, still on bail, was not 
informed of this action, and waited on the pier for 
some hours before he understood. His wife had 
come second class to America, but she was returned 
first class, and the steamship company seized her 
goods for the return fare. . . . 

That was more than MacQueen could stand. He 
had been tried, convicted, sentenced to five years 
imprisonment, and he was now out on bail pending 
an appeal. Anxiety about his wife and children was 
too much for him. He slipped off to England after 
them ("Escape of the Anarchist MacQueen"), made 
what provision and arrangements he could for them, 
and returned in time to save his bondsman s money 
("Capture of the Escaped Anarchist MacQueen"). 
Several members of the Leeds City Council (" Crim 
inal Associates in Europe") saw him off. That was 
in 1903. His appeal had been refused on a technical 
point. He went into Trenton jail, and there he is 
to this day. There I saw him. Trenton Jail did not 
impress me as an agreeable place. The building is 
fairly old, and there is no nonsense about the food. 
The cells hold, some of them, four criminals, some of 
them two, but latterly MacQueen has had spells in 
the infirmary, and has managed to get a cell to him- 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

self. Many of the criminals are negroes and half- 
breeds, imprisoned for unspeakable offences. In 
the exercising-yard MacQueen likes to keep apart. 
"When I first came I used to get in a corner," he 
said. . . . 

Now this case of MacQueen has exercised my mind 
enormously. It was painful to go out of the gray 
jail again after I had talked to him of Shaw and 
Morris, of the Fabian Society and the British labor 
members into sunlight and freedom, and ever and 
again, as I went about New York having the best 
of times among the most agreeable people, the figure 
of him would come back to me quite vividly, in his 
gray dress, sitting on the edge of an unaccustomed 
chair, hands on his knees, speaking a little nervously 
and jerkily, and very glad indeed to see me. He is 
younger than myself, but much my sort of man, and 
we talked of books and education and his case like 
brothers. There can be no doubt to any sensible 
person who will look into the story of his conviction, 
who will even go and see him, that there has been a 
serious miscarriage of justice. 

There has been a serious miscarriage of justice, 
such as (unhappily) might happen in any country. 
That is nothing distinctive of America. But what 
does impress me as remarkable and perplexing is the 
immense difficulty the perhaps unsurmountable 
difficulty of getting this man released. The Gover 
nor of the State of New Jersey knows he is innocent, 
the judges of the Court of Pardons know he is in- 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

nocent. Three of them I was able to button-hole at 
Trenton, and hear their point of view. Two are of 
the minority and for release, one was doubtful in 
attitude but hostile in spirit. They hold, the man, 
he thinks, on the score of public policy. They put 
it that Paterson is a " hotbed " of crime and violence ; 
that once MacQueen is released every anarchist in 
the country will be emboldened to crime, and so on 
and so on. I admit Paterson festers, but if we are 
to punish anybody instead of reforming the system, 
it s the masters who ought to be in jail for that. 

"What will the property-owners in Paterson say 
to us if this man is released?" one of the judges ad 
mitted frankly. 

" But he hadn t anything to do with the violence," 
I said, an argued the case over again quite missing 
the point of that objection. 

Whenever I had a chance in New York, in Boston, 
in Washington, even amid the conversation of a 
Washington dinner-table, I dragged up the case of 
MacQueen. Nobody seemed indignant. One lady 
admitted the sentence was heavy, "he might have 
been given six months to cool off in," she said. I 
protested he ought not to have been given a day. 
" Why did he go there ?" said a Supreme Court judge 
in Washington, a lawyer in New York, and several 
other people. "Wasn t he making trouble?" I was 
asked. 

At last that reached my sluggish intelligence. 

Yet I still hesitate to accept the new interpreta- 

176 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

tions. Galiano, who preached blind violence and 
made the riot, got off scot-free; MacQueen, who 
wanted a legitimate strike on British lines, went to 
jail. So long as the social injustice, the sweated 
disorder of Paterson s industrialism, vents its cries 
in Italian in La Questione Sociale, so long as it re 
mains an inaudible misery so far as the great public 
is concerned, making vehement yet impotent ap 
peals to mere force, and so losing its last chances of 
popular sympathy, American property, I gather, is 
content. The masters and the immigrants can deal 
with one another on those lines. But to have out 
siders coming in! 

There is an active press campaign against the 
release of "the Anarchist MacQueen," and I do not 
believe that Mr. Wishart will succeed in his en 
deavors. I think MacQueen will serve out his five 
years. 

The plain truth is that no one pretends he is in 
jail on his merits; he is in jail as an example and 
lesson to any one who proposes to come between 
master and immigrant worker in Paterson. He has 
attacked the system. The people who profit by the 
system, the people who think things are " all right as 
they are," have hit back in the most effectual way 
they can, according to their lights. 

That, I think, accounts for the sustained quality 
of the lying in this case, and, indeed, for the whole 
situation. He is in jail on principle and without 
personal animus, just as they used to tar and feather 

177 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

the stray abolitionist on principle in Carolina. The 
policy of stringent discouragement is a reasonable 
one scoundrelly, no doubt, but understandable. 
And I think I can put myself sufficiently into the 
place of the Paterson masters, of the Trenton judges, 
of those journalists, of those subordinate officials at 
Washington even, to understand their motives and 
inducements. I indulge in no self-righteous pride. 
Simply, I thank Heaven I have not had their 
peculiar temptations. 

But my riddle lies in the attitude of the public of 
the American nation, which hasn t, it seems, a spark 
of moral indignation for this sort of thing, which 
indeed joins in quite cheerfully against the victim. 

It is ill served by its press, no doubt, but surely it 
understands. , 



in 

THEN I assisted at the coming of 
Maxim Gorky Maxim Gorky, and witnessed many in 
timate details of what Professor Gid- 
dings, that courageous publicist, has called his 
"lynching." 

Here, again, is a case I fail altogether to under 
stand. The surface values of that affair have a 
touch of the preposterous. I set them down in in 
finite perplexity. 

My first week in New York was in the period of 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

Gorky s advent. Expectation was at a high pitch, 
and one might have foretold a stupendous, a history- 
making campaign. The American nation seemed 
concentrated upon one great and ennobling idea, the 
freedom of Russia, and upon Gorky as the embodi 
ment of that idea. A protest was to be made against 
cruelty and violence and massacre. That great 
figure of Liberty with the torch was to make it flare 
visibly half-way round the world, reproving tyranny. 
Gorky arrived, and the eclat was immense. We 
dined him, we lunched him, we were photographed 
in his company by flash-light. I very gladly shared 
that honor, for Gorky is not only a great master of 
the art I practise, but a splendid personality. He is 
one of those people to whom the camera does no 
justice, whose work, as I know it in an English 
translation, forceful as it is, fails very largely to 
convey his peculiar quality. His is a big, quiet 
figure; there is a curious power of appeal in his face, 
a large simplicity in his voice and gesture. He was 
dressed, when I met him, in peasant clothing, in a 
belted blue shirt, trousers of some shiny black ma 
terial, and boots ; and save for a few common greet 
ings he has no other language than Russian. So it 
was necessary that he should bring with him some 
one he could trust to interpret him to the world. 
And having, too, much of the practical helplessness 
of his type of genius, he could not come without his 
right hand, that brave and honorable lady, Madame 
Andreieva, who has been now for years in every- 

179 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

thing but the severest legal sense his wife. Russia 
has no Dakota; and although his legal wife has 
long since found another companion, the Orthodox 
Church in Russia has no divorce facilities for men in 
the revolutionary camp. So Madame Andreieva 
stands to him as George Eliot stood to George Lewes, 
and I suppose the two of them had almost forgotten 
the technical illegality of their tie, until it burst upon 
them and the American public in a monstrous storm 
of exposure. 

It was like a summer thunder-storm. At one mo 
ment Gorky was in an immense sunshine, a plenipo 
tentiary from oppression to liberty, at the next he 
was being almost literally pelted through the streets. 

I do not know what motive actuated a certain 
section of the American press to initiate this pelting 
of Maxim Gorky. A passion for moral purity may 
perhaps have prompted it, but certainly no passion 
for purity ever before begot so brazen and abundant 
a torrent of lies. It was precisely the sort of cam 
paign that damned poor Mac Queen, but this time 
on an altogether imperial scale. The irregularity 
of Madame Andreieva s position was a mere point of 
departure. The journalists went on to invent a 
deserted wife and children, they declared Madame 
Andreieva was an "actress," and loaded her with 
all the unpleasant implications of that unfortunate 
word; they spoke of her generally as "the woman 
Andreieva"; they called upon the Commissioner of 
Immigration to deport her as a "female of bad 

1 80 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

character"; quite influential people wrote to him 
to that effect; they published the name of the hotel 
that sheltered her, and organized a boycott. Who 
ever dared to countenance the victims was de 
nounced. Professor Dewar of Columbia had given 
them a reception; " Dewar must go," said the head 
lines. Mark Twain, who had assisted in the great 
welcome, was invited to recant and contribute un 
friendly comments. The Gorkys were pursued with 
insult from hotel to hotel. Hotel after hotel turned 
them out. They found themselves at last, after mid 
night, in the streets of New York city with every 
door closed against them. Infected persons could 
not have been treated more abominably in a town 
smitten with a panic of plague. 

This change happened in the course of twenty- 
four hours. On one day Gorky was at the zenith, 
on the next he had been swept from the world. To 
me it was astounding it was terrifying. I wanted 
to talk to Gorky about it, to find out the hidden 
springs of this amazing change. I spent a Sunday 
evening looking for him with an ever-deepening 
respect for the power of the American press. I had 
a quaint conversation with the clerk of the hotel in 
Fifth Avenue from which he had first been driven. 
Europeans can scarcely hope to imagine the moral 
altitudes at which American hotels are conducted. 
... I went thence to seek Mr. Abraham Cahan in the 
East Side, and thence to other people I knew, but in 
vain. Gorky was obliterated. 

181 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

I thought this affair was a whirlwind of foolish mis 
understanding, such as may happen in any capital, 
and that presently his entirely tolerable relationship 
would be explained. But for all the rest of my time 
in New York this insensate campaign went on. 
There was no attempt of any importance to stem the 
tide, and to this day large sections of the American 
public must be under the impression that this great 
writer is a depraved man of pleasure accompanied by 
a favorite cocotte. The writers of paragraphs rack 
ed their brains to invent new and smart ways of in 
sulting Madame Andreieva. The chaste entertainers 
of the music-halls of the Tenderloin district intro 
duced allusions. And amid this riot of personali 
ties Russia was forgotten. The massacres, the chaos 
of cruelty and blundering, the tyranny, the women 
outraged, the children tortured and slain all that 
was forgotten. In Boston, in Chicago, it was the 
same. At the bare suggestion of Gorky s coming 
the same outbreak occurred, the same display of im 
becile gross lying, the same absolute disregard of the 
tragic cause he had come to plead. 

One gleam of comedy in this remarkable outbreak I 
recall. Some one in ineffectual protest had asked 
what Americans would have said if Benjamin 
Franklin had encountered such ignominies on his 
similar mission of appeal to Paris before the War of 
Independence. "Benjamin Franklin," retorted one 
bright young Chicago journalist, " was a man of very 
different moral character from Gorky," and proceed- 

182 



TWO STUDIES IN DISAPPOINTMENT 

ed to explain how Chicago was prepared to defend 
the purity of her homes against the invader. Ben 
jamin Franklin, it is true, was a person of very dif 
ferent morals from Gorky but I don t think that 
bright young man in Chicago had a very sound idea 
of where the difference lay. 

I spent my last evening on American soil in the 
hospitable home in Staten Island that sheltered 
Gorky and Madame Andreieva. After dinner we 
sat together in the deepening twilight upon a broad 
veranda that looks out upon one of the most beautiful 
views in the world, upon serene large spaces of land 
and sea, upon slopes of pleasant, window-lit, tree-set 
wooden houses, upon the glittering clusters of lights, 
and the black and luminous shipping that comes and 
goes about the Narrows and the Upper Bay. Half 
masked by a hill contour to the left was the light 
of the torch of Liberty. . . . Gorky s big form fell into 
shadow, Madame Andreieva sat at his feet, trans 
lating methodically, sentence by sentence, into clear 
French whatever he said, translating our speeches 
into Russian. He told us stories of the soul of the 
Russian, of Russian religious sects, of kindnesses and 
cruelties, of his great despair. 

Ever and again, in the pauses, my eyes would go 
to where New York far away glittered like a brighter 
and more numerous Pleiades. 

I gauged something of the real magnitude of this 
one man s disappointment, the immense expectation 
of his arrival, the impossible dream of his mission 

13 183 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

He had come the Russian peasant in person, out of 
a terrific confusion of bloodshed, squalor, injustice 
to tell America, the land of light and achieved free 
dom, of all these evil things. She would receive 
him, help him, understand truly what he meant 
with his "Rossia." I could imagine how he had 
felt as he came in the big steamer to her, up that 
large converging display of space and teeming 
energy. There she glowed to-night across the 
water, a queen among cities, as if indeed she was the 
light of the world. Nothing, I think, can ever rob 
that splendid harbor approach of its invincible 
quality of promise. . . . And to him she had shown 
herself no more than the luminous hive of multitudes 
of base and busy, greedy and childish little men. 

MacQueen in jail, Gorky with his reputation 
wantonly bludgeoned and flung aside; they are just 
two chance specimens of the myriads who have come 
up this great waterway bearing hope and gifts. 



CHAPTER XII 
THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 



I SEEM to find the same hastiness and 
Ha men J ts dg " something of the same note of harsh 
ness that strike me in the cases of Mac- 
Queen and Gorky in America s treatment of her 
colored population. I am aware how intricate, how 
multitudinous, the aspects of this enormous question 
have become, but looking at it in the broad and 
transitory manner I have proposed for myself in 
these papers, it does seem to present many parallel 
elements. There is the same disposition towards an 
indiscriminating verdict, the same disregard of pro 
portion as between small evils and great ones, the 
same indifference to the fact that the question does 
not stand alone, but is a part, and this time a by no 
means small part, in the working out of America s 
destinies. 

In regard to the colored population, just as in 
regard to the great and growing accumulations of 
unassimilated and increasingly unpopular Jews, and 
to the great and growing multitudes of Roman 

185 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Catholics whose special education contradicts at so 
many points those conceptions of individual judg 
ment and responsibility upon which America relies, 
I have attempted time after time to get some an 
swer from the Americans I have met to what is to me 
the most obvious of questions. " Your grandchildren 
and the grandchildren of these people will have to 
live in this country side by side ; do you propose, do 
you believe it possible, that under the increasing 
pressure of population and competition they should 
be living then in just the same relations that you and 
these people are living now ; if you do not, then what 
relations do you propose shall exist between them?" 
It is not too much to say that I have never once 
had the beginnings of an answer to this question. 
Usually one is told with great gravity that the 
problem of color is one of the most difficult that we 
have to consider, and the conversation then breaks 
up into discursive anecdotes and statements about 
black people. One man will dwell upon the un 
controllable violence of a black man s evil passions 
(in Jamaica and Barbadoes colored people form an 
overwhelming proportion of the population, and 
they have behaved in an exemplary fashion for the 
last thirty years) ; another will dilate upon the in 
credible stupidity of the full-blooded negro (during 
my stay in New York the prize for oratory at 
Columbia University, oratory which was the one 
redeeming charm of Daniel Webster, was awarded 
to a Zulu of unmitigated blackness) ; a third will 

186 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

speak of his physical offensiveness, his peculiar smell 
which necessitates his social isolation (most well-to- 
do Southerners are brought up by negro "mam 
mies"); others, again, will enter upon the painful 
history of the years that followed the war, though it 
seems a foolish thing to let those wrongs of the past 
dominate the outlook for the future. And one 
charming Southern lady expressed the attitude of 
mind of a whole class very completely, I think, 
when she said, " You have to be one of us to feel this 
question at all as it ought to be felt." 

There, I think, I got something tangible. These 
emotions are a cult. 

My globe-trotting impudence will seem, no doubt, 
to mount to its zenith when I declare that hardly 
any Americans at all seem to be in possession of the 
elementary facts in relation to this question. These 
broad facts are not taught, as of course they ought 
to be taught, in school; and what each man knows 
is picked up by the accidents of his own untrained 
observation, by conversation always tinctured by 
personal prejudice, by hastily read newspapers and 
magazine articles and the like. The quality of this 
discussion is very variable, but on the whole pretty 
low. While I was in New York opinion was greatly 
swayed by an article in, if I remember rightly, the 
Century Magazine, by a gentleman who had deduced 
from a few weeks observation in the slums of 
Khartoum the entire incapacity of the negro to es 
tablish a civilization of his own. He never had, 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

therefore he never could; a discouraging ratiocina 
tion. We English, a century or so ago, said all these 
things of the native Irish. If there is any trend of 
opinion at all in this matter at present, it lies in the 
direction of a generous decision on the part of the 
North and West to leave the black more and more to 
the judgment and mercy of the white people with 
whom he is locally associated. This judgment and 
mercy points, on the whole, to an accentuation of the 
colored man s natural inferiority, to the cessation of 
any other educational attempts than those that in 
crease his industrial usefulness (it is already illegal 
in Louisiana to educate him above a contemptible 
level), to his industrial exploitation through usury 
and legal chicanery, and to a systematic strengthen 
ing of the social barriers between colored people of 
whatever shade and the whites. 

Meanwhile, in this state of general confusion, in 
the absence of any determining rules or assumptions, 
all sorts of things are happening according to the 
accidents of local feeling. In Massachusetts you 
have people with, I am afraid, an increasing sense 
of sacrifice to principle, lunching and dining with 
people of color. They do it less than they did, I 
was told. Massachusetts stands, I believe, at the 
top of the scale of tolerant humanity. One seems 
to reach the bottom at Springfield, Missouri, which 
is a county seat with a college, an academy, a high 
school, and a zoological garden. There the exem 
plary method reaches the nadir. Last April three 

1 88 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

unfortunate negroes were burned to death, apparently 
because they were negroes, and as a general corrective 
of impertinence. They seem to have been innocent 
of any particular offence. It was a sort of racial 
sacrament. The edified Sunday-school children hur 
ried from their gospel-teaching to search for souve 
nirs among the ashes, and competed with great spirit 
for a fragment of charred skull. 

It is true that in this latter case Governor Folk 
acted with vigor and justice, and that the better 
element of Springfield society was evidently shocked 
when it was found that quite innocent negroes had 
been used in these instructive pyrotechnics ; but the 
fact remains that a large and numerically important 
section of the American public does think that 
fierce and cruel reprisals are a necessary part of the 
system of relationships between white and colored 
man. In our dispersed British community we have 
almost exactly the same range between our better 
attitudes and our worse I m making no claim of 
national superiority. In London, perhaps, we out 
do Massachusetts in liberality; in the National 
Liberal Club or the Reform a black man meets all the 
courtesies of humanity as though there was no 
such thing as color. But, on the other hand, the 
Cape won t bear looking into for a moment. The 
same conditions give the same results; a half- 
educated white population of British or Dutch or 
German ingredients greedy for gain, ill controlled and 
feebly influenced, in contact with a black population, 

189 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

is bound to reproduce the same brutal and stupid 
aggressions, the same half -honest prejudices to 
justify those aggressions, the same ugly, mean 
excuses. "Things are better in Jamaica and Bar- 
badoes," said I, in a moment of patriotic weakness, 
to Mr. Booker T. Washington. 

"Eh!" said he, and thought in that long silent 
way he has. . . . "They re worse in South Africa- 
much. Here we ve got a sort of light. We know 
generally what we ve got to stand.. There 

His words sent my memory back to some con 
versations I had quite recently with a man from a 
dry-goods store in Johannesburg. He gave me 
clearly enough the attitude of the common white out 
there; the dull prejudice; the readiness to take ad 
vantage of the "boy"; the utter disrespect for 
colored womankind; the savage, intolerant resent 
ment, dashed dangerously with fear, which the native 
arouses in him. (Think of all that must have hap 
pened in wrongful practice and wrongful law and 
neglected educational possibilities before our Zulus 
in Natal were goaded to face massacre, spear against 
rifle !) The rare and culminating result of education 
and experience is to enable men to grasp facts, to 
balance justly among their fluctuating and innumer 
able aspects, and only a small minority in our world 
is educated to that pitch. Ignorant people can 
think only in types and abstractions, can achieve 
only emphatic absolute decisions, and when the 
commonplace American or the commonplace colonial 

190 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

Briton sets to work to " think over " the negro prob 
lem, he instantly banishes most of the material 
evidence from his mind clears for action, as it were. 
He forgets the genial carriage of the ordinary colored 
man, his beaming face, his kindly eye, his rich, jolly 
voice, his touching and trusted friendliness, his 
amiable, unprejudiced readiness to serve and follow 
a white man who seems to know what he is doing. 
He forgets perhaps he has never seen the dear 
humanity of these people, their slightly exaggerated 
vanity, their innocent and delightful love of color 
and song, their immense capacity for affection, the 
warm romantic touch in their imaginations. He 
ignores the real fineness of the indolence that de 
spises servile toil, of the carelessness that disdains the 
watchful aggressive economies, day by day, now a 
wretched little gain here and now a wretched little 
gain there, that make the dirty fortune of the Rus 
sian Jews who prey upon color in the Carolinas. No ; 
in the place of all these tolerable every-day ex 
periences he lets his imagination go to work upon a 
monster, the "real nigger." 

" Ah! You don t know the real nigger," said one 
American to me when I praised the colored people I 
had seen. "You should see the buck nigger down 
South, Congo brand. Then you d understand, sir." 

His voice, his face had a gleam of passionate 
animosity. 

One could see he had been brooding himself out 
of all relations to reality in this matter. He was a 

191 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

man beyond reason or pity. He was obsessed. 
Hatred of that imaginary diabolical "buck nigger" 
blackened his soul. It was no good to talk to him 
of the "buck American, Packingtown brand," or the 
"buck Englishman, suburban race-meeting type," 
and to ask him if these intensely disagreeable persons 
justified outrages on Senator Lodge, let us say, or 
Mrs. Longworth. No reply would have come from 
him. "You don t understand the question," he 
would have answered. "You don t know how we 
Southerners feel." 
Well, one can make a tolerable guess. 



ii 

I CERTAINLY did not begin to realize 
Th strain ite one mos t important aspect of this 
question until I reached America. I 
thought of those eight millions as of men, black as 
ink. But when I met Mr. Booker T. Washington, 
for example, I met a man certainly as white in ap 
pearance as our Admiral Fisher, who is, as a matter 
of fact, quite white. A very large proportion of 
these colored people, indeed, is more than half white. 
One hears a good deal about the high social origins 
of the Southern planters, very many derive indispu 
tably from the first families of England. It is the 
same blood flows in these mixed colored people s 
veins. Just think of the sublime absurdity, there 
fore, of the ban. There are gentlemen of education 

192 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

and refinement, qualified lawyers and doctors, whose 
ancestors assisted in the Norman Conquest, and they 
dare not enter a car marked "white" and intrude 
upon the dignity of the rising loan-monger from 
Esthonia. For them the "Jim Crow" car. . . . 

One tries to put that aspect to the American in 
vain. "These people," you say, "are nearer your 
blood, nearer your temper, than any of those bright- 
eyed, ringleted immigrants on the East Side. Are 
you ashamed of your poor relations? Even if you 
don t like the half, or the quarter of negro blood, 
you might deal civilly with the three-quarters white. 
It doesn t say much for your faith in your own 
racial prepotency, anyhow. "... 

The answer to that is usually in terms of mania. 

"Let me tell you a little story just to illustrate," 
said one deponent to me in an impressive under 
tone " just to illustrate, you know. ... A few years 
ago a young fellow came to Boston from New Orleans. 
Looked all right. Dark but he explained that by 
an Italian grandmother. Touch of French in him, 
too. Popular. Well, he made advances to a Boston 
girl good family. Gave a fairly straight account of 
himself. Married." 

He paused. "Course of time offspring. Little 



son." 



His eye made me feel what was coming. 
"Was it by any chance very, very black?" I 
whispered. 

"Yes, sir. Black! Black as your hat. Abso- 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

lutely negroid. Projecting jaw, thick lips, frizzy 
hair, flat nose everything. . . . 

" But consider the mother s feelings, sir, consider 
that! A pure-minded, pure white woman!" 

What can one say to a story of this sort, when the 
taint in the blood surges up so powerfully as to black 
en the child at birth beyond even the habit of the 
pure-blooded negro ? What can you do with a pub 
lic opinion made of this class of ingredient? And 
this story of the lamentable results of intermarriage 
was used, not as an argument against intermarriage, 
but as an argument against the extension of quite 
rudimentary civilities to the men of color. " If you 
eat with them, you ve got to marry them," he said, 
an entirely fabulous post-prandial responsibility. 

It is to the tainted whites my sympathies go out. 
The black or mainly black people seem to be fairly 
content with their inferiority; one sees them all 
about the States as waiters, cab - drivers, railway 
porters, car attendants, laborers of various sorts, a 
pleasant, smiling, acquiescent folk. But consider the 
case of a man with a broader brain than such small 
uses need, conscious, perhaps, of exceptional gifts, 
capable of wide interests and sustained attempts, 
who is perhaps as English as you or I, with just a 
touch of color in his eyes, in his lips, in his finger 
nails, and in his imagination. Think of the ac 
cumulating sense of injustice he must bear with him 
through life, the perpetual slight and insult he must 
undergo from all that is vulgar and brutal among the 

194 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

whites! Something of that one may read in the 
sorrowful pages of Du Bois s The Souls of Black Folk. 
They would have made Alexandre Dumas travel in 
the Jim Crow car if he had come to Virginia. But I 
can imagine some sort of protest on the part of that 
admirable but extravagant man. . . . They even talk 
of " Jim Crow elevators" now in Southern hotels. 

At Hull House, in Chicago, I was present at a 
conference of colored people Miss Jane Addams 
efficiently in control to consider the coming of a 
vexatious play, "The Clansman," which seems to 
have been written and produced entirely to exacer 
bate racial feeling. Both men and women were 
present, business people, professional men, and their 
wives ; the speaking was clear, temperate, and won 
derfully to the point, high above the level of any 
British town council I have ever attended. One 
lady would have stood out as capable and charming 
in any sort of public discussion in England though 
we are not wanting in good women speakers and 
she was at least three-quarters black. . . . 

And while I was in Chicago, too, I went to the 
Peking Theatre a "coon" music-hall and saw 
something of a low r er level of colored life. The 
common white, I must explain, delights in calling 
colored people "coons," and the negro, so far as I 
could learn, uses no retaliatory word. It was a 
"variety" entertainment, with one turn, at least, 
of quite distinguished merit, good-humored and 
brisk throughout. I watched keenly, and I could 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

detect nothing of that trail of base suggestion one 
would find as a matter of course in a music-hall in 
such English towns as Brighton and Portsmouth. 
What one heard of kissing and love-making was 
quite artless and simple indeed. The negro, it 
seemed to me, did this sort of thing with a better 
grace and a better temper than a Londoner, and 
shows, I think, a finer self-respect. He thinks more 
of deportment, he bears himself more elegantly by 
far than the white at the same social level. The 
audience reminded me of the sort of gathering one 
would find in a theatre in Camden Town or Hoxton. 
There were a number of family groups, the girls 
brightly dressed, and young couples quite of the 
London music-hall type. Clothing ran "smart," 
but not smarter than it would be among fairly pros 
perous north London Jews. There was no gallery 
socially no collection of orange-eating, interrupt 
ing hooligans at all. Nobody seemed cross, nobody 
seemed present for vicious purposes, and everybody 
was sober. Indeed, there and elsewhere I took and 
confirmed a mighty liking to these gentle, human, 
dark-skinned people. 



in 

BUT whatever aspect I recall of this 
taboo that shows no signs of 
lifting, of this great problem of the 
future that America in her haste, her indiscriminat- 

196 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

ing prejudice, her lack of any sustained study and 
teaching of the broad issues she must decide, com 
plicates and intensifies, and makes threatening, 
there presently comes back to mind the browned 
face of Mr. Booker T. Washington, as he talked to 
me over our lunch in Boston. 

He has a face rather Irish in type, and the soft 
slow negro voice. He met my regard with the 
brown sorrowful eyes of his race. He wanted very 
much that I should hear him make a speech, because 
then his words came better; he talked, he implied, 
with a certain difficulty. But I preferred to have 
his talking, and get not the orator every one tells 
me he is an altogether great orator in this country 
where oratory is still esteemed but the man. 

He answered my questions meditatively. I want 
ed to know with an active pertinacity. What 
struck me most was the way in which his sense of the 
overpowering forces of race prejudice weighs upon 
him. It is a thing he accepts ; in our time and condi 
tions it is not to be fought about. He makes one 
feel with an exaggerated intensity (though I could 
not even draw him to admit) its monstrous injustice. 
He makes no accusations. He is for taking it as a 
part of the present fate of his "people," and for 
doing all that can be done for them within the limit 
it sets. 

Therein he differs from Du Bois, the other great 
spokesman color has found in our time. Du Bois, 
is more of the artist, less of the statesman; he con- 

197 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

ceals his passionate resentment all too thinly. He 
batters himself into rhetoric against these walls. 
He will not repudiate the clear right of the black 
man to every educational facility, to equal citizen 
ship, and equal respect. But Mr. Washington has 
statecraft. He looks before and after, and plans and 
keeps his counsel with the scope and range of a 
statesman. I use "statesman" in its highest sense; 
his is a mind that can grasp the situation and des 
tinies of a people. After I had talked- to him I went 
back to my club, and found there an English news 
paper with a report of the opening debate upon Mr. 
Birrell s Education Bill. It was like turning from 
the discussion of life and death to a dispute about 
the dregs in the bottom of a tea-cup somebody had 
neglected to wash up in Victorian times. 

I argued strongly against the view he seems to 
hold that black and white might live without 
mingling and without injustice, side by side. That 
I do not believe. Racial differences seem to me al 
ways to exasperate intercourse unless people have 
been elaborately trained to ignore them. Uned 
ucated men are as bad as cattle in persecuting all 
that is different among themselves. The most 
miserable and disorderly countries of the world are 
the countries where two races, two inadequate 
cultures, keep a jarring, continuous separation. 
"You must repudiate separation," I said. "No 
peoples have ever yet endured the tension of inter 
mingled distinctness . 

198 



. HE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

"May we not become a peculiar people like the 
Jews?" he suggested. "Isn t that possible?" 

But there I could not agree with him. I thought 
of the dreadful history of the Jews and Armenians. 
And the negro cannot do what the Jews and Ar 
menians have done. The colored people of America 
are of a different quality from the Jew altogether, 
more genial, more careless, more sympathetic, 
franker, less intellectual, less acquisitive, less wary 
and restrained in a word, more Occidental. They 
have no common religion and culture, no conceit of 
race to hold them together. The Jews make a 
ghetto for themselves wherever they go; no law but 
their own solidarity has given America the East Side. 
The colored people are ready to disperse and inter 
breed, are not a community at all in the Jewish 
sense, but outcasts from a community. They are 
the victims of a prejudice that has to be destroyed. 
These things I urged, but it was, I think, empty 
speech to my hearer. I could talk lightly of de 
stroying that prejudice, but he knew better. It is 
the central fact of his life, a law of his being. He has 
shaped all his projects and policy upon that. Ex 
clusion is inevitable. So he dreams of a colored race 
of decent and inaggressive men silently giving the 
lie to all the legend of their degradation. They will 
have their own doctors, their own lawyers, their own 
capitalists, their own banks because the whites 
desire it so. But will the uneducated whites endure 
even so submissive a vindication as that ? Will they 

14 IQ9 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

suffer the horrid spectacle of free and self -satisfied 
negroes in decent clothing on any terms without 
resentment ? 

He explained how at the Tuskegee Institute they 
make useful men, skilled engineers, skilled agri 
culturalists, men to live down the charge of practical 
incompetence, of ignorant and slovenly farming and 
house management. . . . 

"I wish you would tell me/ I said, abruptly, 
"just what you think of the attitude of white 
America towards you. Do you think it is generous ? 

He regarded me for a moment. "No end of 
people help us," he said. 

"Yes," I said; "but the ordinary man. Is he 
fair?" 

"Some things are not fair," he said, leaving the 
general question alone. " It isn t fair to refuse a 
colored man a berth on a sleeping-car. I? I 
happen to be a privileged person, they make an 
exception for me ; but the ordinary educated colored 
man isn t admitted to a sleeping-car at all. If he 
has to go a long journey, he has to sit up all night. 
His white competitor sleeps. Then in some places, 
in the hotels and restaurants It s all right here 
in Boston but southwardly he can t get proper re 
freshments. All that s a handicap. . . . 

"The remedy lies in education," he said; "ours 
and theirs. 

"The real thing," he told me, "isn t to be done by 
talking and agitation. It s a matter of lives. The 

200 



THE TRAGEDY OF COLOR 

only answer to it all is for colored men to be patient, 
to make themselves competent, to do good work, to 
live well, to give no occasion against us. We feel 
that. In a way it s an inspiration. . . . 

" There is a man here in Boston, a negro, who owns 
and runs some big stores, employs all sorts of people, 
deals justly. That man has done more good for our 
people than all the eloquence or argument in the 
world. . . . That is what we have to do it is all we 
can do/ . . . 

Whatever America has to sho\v in heroic living to 
day, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the 
quality of the resolve, the steadfast effort hundreds 
of black and colored men are making to-day to live 
blamelessly, honorably, and patiently, getting for 
themselves what scraps of refinement, learning, and 
beauty they may, keeping their hold on a civilization 
they are grudged and denied. They do it not for 
themselves only, but for all their race. Each 
educated colored man is an ambassador to civiliza 
tion. They know they have a handicap, that they 
are not exceptionally brilliant nor clever people. 
Yet every such man stands, one likes to think, aware 
of his representative and vicarious character, fight 
ing against foul imaginations, misrepresentations, 
injustice, insult, and the naive unspeakable mean 
nesses of base antagonists. Every one of them who 
keeps decent and honorable does a little to beat 
that opposition down. 

But the patience the negro needs! He may not 

201 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

even look contempt. He must admit superiority in 
those whose daily conduct to him is the clearest 
evidence of moral inferiority. We sympathetic 
whites, indeed, may claim honor for him; if he is wise 
he will be silent under our advocacy. He must go 
to and fro self -controlled, bereft of all the equalities 
that the great flag of America proclaims that flag 
for whose united empire his people fought and died, 
giving place and precedence to the strangers who 
pour in to share its beneficence, strangers ignorant 
even of its tongue. That he must do and wait. 
The Welsh, the Irish, the Poles, the white South, the 
indefatigable Jews may cherish grievances and rail 
aloud. He must keep still. They may be hysterical 
revengeful, threatening, and perverse; their wrongs 
excuse them. F^r him there is no excuse. And of 
all the races upon earth, which has suffered such 
wrongs as this negro blood that is still imputed to 
him as a sin? These people who disdain him, who 
have no sense of reparation towards him, have 
sinned against him beyond all measure. . . . 

No, I can t help idealizing the dark submissive 
figure of the negro in this spectacle of America. He, 
too, seems to me to sit waiting and waiting with 
a marvellous and simple-minded patience for finer 
understandings and a nobler time. 



CHAPTER XIII 
THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 



I DO not know if I am conveying to 
Recapitulatory any extent the picture of America as I 
see it, the vast rich various continent, 
the gigantic energetic process of development, the 
acquisitive successes, the striving failures, the multi 
tudes of those rising and falling who come between, 
all set in a texture of spacious countryside, animate 
with pleasant timber homes, of clangorous towns 
that bristle to the skies, of great exploitation dis 
tricts and crowded factories, of wide deserts and 
mine-torn mountains, and huge half -tamed rivers. 
I have tried to make the note of immigration grow 
slowly to a dominating significance in this panorama, 
and with that, to make more and more evident my 
sense of the need of a creative assimilation, the cry 
for synthetic effort, lest all this great being, this 
splendid promise of a new world, should decay into 
a vast unprogressive stagnation of unhappiness and 
disorder. I have hinted at failures and cruelties, I 
have put into the accumulating details of my vision, 

203 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

children America blights, men she crushes, fine 
hopes she disappoints and destroys. I have found 
a place for the questioning figure of the South, the 
sorrowful interrogation of the outcast colored people. 
These are but the marginal shadows of a process in 
its totality magnificent, but they exist, they go on 
to mingle in her destinies. 

Then I have tried to show, too, the conception I 
have formed of the great skein of industrial com 
petition that has been tightening and becoming 
more and more involved through all this century- 
long age, the age of blind growth, that draws now 
towards its end; until the process threatens to 
throttle individual freedom and individual enter 
prise altogether. And of a great mental uneasiness 
and discontent, unprecedented in the history of the 
American mind, that promises in the near future 
some general and conscious endeavor to arrest this 
unanticipated strangulation of freedom and free 
living, some widespread struggle, of I know not what 
constructive power, with the stains and disorders 
and indignities that oppress and grow larger in the 
national consciousness. I perceive more and more 
that in coming to America I have chanced upon a 
time of peculiar significance. The note of dis 
illusionment sounds everywhere. America, for the 
first time in her history, is taking thought about 
herself, and ridding herself of long-cherished illusions. 
I have already mentioned (in Chapter VIII.) the 
memorable literature of self-examination that has 

204 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

come into being during the last decade. Hitherto 
American thought has been extraordinarily localized ; 
there has been no national press, in the sense that 
the press of London or Paris is national. Americans 
knew of America as a whole, mainly as the flag. 
Beneath the flag America is lost among constituent 
States and cities. All her newspapers have been, by 
English standards, "local" papers, preoccupied by 
local affairs, and taking an intensely localized point 
of view. A national newspaper for America would 
be altogether too immense an enterprise. Only 
since 1896, and in the form of weekly and monthly 
ten-cent magazines, have the rudiments of a national 
medium of expression appeared, and appeared to 
voice strange pregnant doubts. I had an interest 
ing talk with Mr. Brisben Walker upon this new 
development. To him the first ten-cent magazine, 
The Cosmopolitan, was due, and he was naturally 
glad to tell me of the growth of this vehicle. To-day 
there is an aggregate circulation of ten millions of 
these magazines; they supply fiction, no doubt, and 
much of light interesting ephemeral matter, but not 
one of them is without its element of grave public 
discussion. I do not wish to make too much of this 
particular development, but regard it as a sign of 
new interests, of keen curiosities. 

Now I must confess when I consider this ocean of 
readers I find the fears I have expressed of some 
analogical development of American affairs towards 
the stagnant commercialism of China, or towards a 

205 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

plutocratic imperialism and decadence of the Roman 
type, look singularly flimsy. Upon its present lines, 
and supposing there were no new sources of mental 
supply and energy, I do firmly believe that America 
might conceivably come more and more under the 
control of a tacitly organized and exhausting plutoc 
racy, be swamped by a swelling tide of ignorant and 
unassimilable labor immigrants, decline towards 
violence and social misery, fall behind Europe in 
education and intelligence, and cease to lead civiliza 
tion. In such a decay Cassarism would be a most 
probable and natural phase, Cassarism and a split 
ting into contending Cassarisms. Come but a little 
sinking from intelligence towards coarseness and 
passion, and the South will yet endeavor to impose 
servitude anew upon its colored people, or secede 
that trouble is not yet over. A little darkening and 
improverishment of outlook and New York would 
split from New England, and Colorado from the 
East. An illiterate, short-sighted America would 
be America doomed. But America is not illiterate; 
there are these great unprecedented reservoirs of 
intelligence and understanding, these millions of 
people who follow the process with an increasing 
comprehension. It is these millions of readers 
who make the American problem, and the problem 
of Europe and the world to-day, unique and in 
calculable, who provide a cohesive and reasonable 
and pacifying medium the Old World did not 
know. 

206 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

II 

You see, my hero in the confused 
fdrama of human life is intelligence; in- 
telligence inspired by constructive pas 
sion. There is a demi-god imprisoned in mankind. 
All human history presents itself to me as the un 
conscious or half-unconscious struggle of human 
thought to emerge from the sightless interplay of 
instinct, individual passion, prejudice, and ignorance. 
One sees this diviner element groping after law and 
order and fine arrangement, like a thing blind and 
half -buried, in ancient Egypt, in ancient Judaea, in 
ancient Greece. It embodies its purpose in religions, 
invents the disciplines of morality, the reminders of 
ritual. It loses itself and becomes confused. It 
wearies and rests. In Plato, for the first time, one 
discovers it conscious and open-eyed, trying, indeed, 
to take hold of life and control it. Then it goes 
undei, and becomes again a convulsive struggle, an 
inco-ordinated gripping and leaving, a muttering of 
literature and art, until the coming of our own times. 
Most painful and blundering of demi-gods it seems 
through all that space of years, with closed eyes and 
feverish effort. And now again it is clear to the 
minds of many men that they may lay hold upon 
and control the destiny of their kind. . . . 

It is strange, it is often grotesque to mark how the 
reviving racial consciousness finds expression to-day. 
Now it startles itself into a new phase of self- 

207 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

knowledge by striking a note from this art, and now 
by striking one from that. It breaks out in fiction 
that is ostensibly written only to amuse, it creeps 
into after-dinner discussions, and invades a press 
w r hich is economically no more than a system of ad 
vertisement sheets proclaiming the price of the thing 
that is. Presently it is on the stage ; the music-hall 
even is not safe from it. Youths walk in the streets 
to-day, talking together of things that were once the 
ultimate speculation of philosophy. I am no con- 
temner of the present. To me it appears a time of 
immense and wonderful beginnings. New ideas are 
organizing themselves out of the little limited efforts 
of innumerable men. Never was there an age so 
intellectually prolific and abundant as this in the 
aggregate is. It is true, indeed, that we who write 
and think and investigate to-day, present nothing 
to compare with the magnificent reputations and in 
tensely individualized achievements of the impres 
sive personalities of the past. None the less is it 
true that taken all together we signifiy infinitely 
more. We no longer pose ourselves for admiration, 
high priests and princes of letters in a world of finite 
achievement; we admit ourselves no more than 
pages bearing the train of a Queen but a Queen of 
limitless power. The knowledge we co-ordinate, the 
ideas we build together, the growing blaze in which 
we are willingly consumed, are wider and higher and 
richer in promise than anything the world has had 
before. . . . 

208 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

When one takes count of the forces of intelligence 
upon which we may rely in the great conflict against 
matter, brute instinct, and individualistic disorder, 
to make the new social state, when we consider the 
organizing forms that emerge already from the 
general vague confusion, we find apparent in every 
modern state three chief series of developments. 
There is first the thinking and investigatory elements 
that grow constantly more important in our uni 
versity life, the enlarging recognition of the need of a 
systematic issue of university publications, books, 
periodicals, and of sustained and fertilizing discus 
sion. Then there is the greater, cruder, and bolder 
sea of mental activities outside academic limits, the 
amateurs, the free lances of thought and inquiry, 
the writers and artists, the innumerable ill -dis 
ciplined, untrained, but interested and well-meaning 
people who write and talk. They find their medium 
in contemporary literature, in journalism, in or 
ganizations for the propaganda of opinion. And, 
thirdly, there is the immense, nearly universally 
diffused system of education which, inadequately 
enough, serves to spread the new ideas as they are 
elaborated, which does, at any rate by its pre 
paratory work, render them accessible. All these 
new manifestations of mind embody themselves 
in material forms, in class-rooms and labora 
tories, in libraries, and a vast machinery of 
book and newspaper production and distribu 
tion. 

209 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Consider the new universities that spring up all 
over America. Almost imperceptibly throughout 
the past century, little by little, the conception of a 
university has changed, until now it is nearly al 
together changed. The old-time university was a 
collection of learned men; it believed that all the 
generalizations had been made, all the fundamental 
things said; it had no vistas towards the future; it 
existed for teaching and exercises, and more than 
half implied what Dr. Johnson, for example, be 
lieved, that secular degeneration was the rule of 
human life. All that, you know, has gone; every 
university, even Oxford (though, poor pretentious 
dear, she still professes to read and think metaphysics 
in "the original" Greek) admits the conception of a 
philosophy that progresses, that broadens and in 
tensifies, age by age. But to come to America is to 
come to a country far more alive to the thinking 
and knowledge-making function of universities than 
Great Britain. One splendidly endowed founda 
tion, the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 
exists only for research, and that was the first inten 
tion of Chicago University also. In sociology, in 
pedagogics, in social psychology, these vital sciences 
for the modern state, America is producing an 
amount of work which, however trivial in pro 
portion to the task before her, is at any rate 
immense in comparison with our own British out 
put. . . . 



210 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

in 

I DID my amateurish and transitory 

Col v?rs!t y Uni " best to see something of the Ameri 
can universities. There was Columbia. 
Thither I went with a letter to Professor Giddings, 
whose sociological writings are world famous. I 
found him busy with a secretary in a business-like 
little room, stowed away somewhere under the dome 
of the magnificent building of the university library. 
He took me round the opulent spaces, the fine 
buildings of Columbia. ... I suppose it is inevitable 
that a visitor should see the constituents of a uni 
versity out of proportion, but I came away with 
an impression overwhelmingly architectural. The 
library dome, I confess, was fine, and the desks below 
well filled with students, the books were abundant, 
well arranged, and well tended. But I recall marble 
staircases, I recall great wastes of marble steps, I 
recall, in particular, students baths of extraordinary 
splendor, and I do not recall anything like an equiva 
lent effect of large leisure and dignity for intellectual 
men. Professor Giddings seemed driven and busy, 
the few men I met there appeared all to have a lot of 
immediate work to do. It occurred to me in Colum 
bia, as it occurred to me later in the University 
of Chicago, that the disposition of the university 
founder is altogether too much towards buildings and 
memorial inscriptions, and all too little towards the 
more difficult and far more valuable end of putting 

211 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

men of pre-eminent ability into positions of stimulat 
ed leisure. This is not a distinctly American effect. 
In Oxford, just as much as in Columbia, nay, far 
more ! you find stone and student lording it over the 
creative mental thing; the dons go about like some 
sort of little short-coated parasite, pointing respect 
fully to tower and facade, which have, in truth, no 
reason for existing except to shelter them. Columbia 
is almost as badly off for means of publication as 
Oxford, and quite as poor in inducements towards 
creative work. Professors talk in an altogether 
British way of getting work done in the vaca 
tion. 

Moreover, there was an effect of remoteness about 
Columbia. It may have been the quality of a blue 
still morning of sunshine that invaded my impres 
sion. I came up out of the crowded tumult of New 
York to it, with a sense of the hooting, hurrying 
traffics of the wide harbor, the teeming East Side, 
the glitter of spending, the rush of finance, the whole 
headlong process of America, behind me. I came 
out of the subway station into wide still streets. It 
was very spacious, very dignified, very quiet. Well, 
I want the universities of the modern state to be 
more aggressive. I want to think of a Columbia 
University of a less detached appearance, even if she 
is less splendidly clad. I want to think of her as 
sitting up there, cheek on hand, with knitted brows, 
brooding upon the millions below. I want to think 
of all the best minds conceivable going to and fro 

212 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

thoughts and purposes in her organized mind. And 
when she speaks that busy world should listen. . . . 

As a matter of fact, much of that busy world still 
regards a professor as something between a dealer in 
scientific magic and a crank, and a university as an 
institution every good American should be honestly 
proud of and avoid. 



IV 



HARVARD, too, is detached, though 
Harvard not quite with the same immediacy of 
contrast. Harvard reminded me very 
much of my first impressions of Oxford. One was 
taken about in the same way to see this or that point 
of view. Much of Harvard is Georgian red brick, 
that must have seemed very ripe and venerable until 
a year or so ago one bitter winter killed all the 
English ivy. There are students clubs, after the 
fashion of the Oxford Union, but finer and better 
equipped; there is an amazing Germanic museum, 
the gift of the present Emperor, that does, in a con 
centrated form, present all that is flamboyant of 
Germany; there are noble museums and libraries, 
and very many fine and dignified aspects and spaces, 
and an abundant intellectual life. Harvard is hap 
pily free from the collegiate politics that absorb 
most of the surplus mental energy of Oxford and 
Cambridge, and the professors can and do meet and 
talk. At Harvard men count. I was condoled with 

213 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

on all hands in my disappointment that I could 
not meet Professor William James he was still in 
California and I had the good fortune to meet and 
talk to President Eliot, who is, indeed, a very 
considerable voice in American affairs. To me he 
talked quite readily and frankly of a very living sub 
ject, the integrity of the press in relation to the 
systematic and successful efforts of the advertising 
chemists and druggists to stifle exposures of noxious 
proprietary articles. He saw the problem as the 
subtle play of group psychology it is ; there was none 
of that feeble horror of these troubles as " modern and 
vulgar" that one would expect in an English uni 
versity leader. I fell into a great respect for his lean 
fine face and figure, his deliberate voice, his open, 
balanced, and constructive mind. He was the first 
man I had met who had any suggestion of a force and 
quality that might stand up to and prevail against 
the forces of acquisition and brute trading. He bore 
himself as though some sure power were behind him, 
unlike many other men I met who criticised abuses 
abusively, or in the key of facetious despair. He 
had very much of that fine aristocratic quality one 
finds cropping up so frequently among Americans of 
old tradition, an aristocratic quality that is free from 
either privilege or pretension. . . . 

At Harvard, too, I met Professor Munsterberg, 
one of the few writers of standing who have attempt 
ed a general review of the American situation. He 
is a tall fair German, but newly annexed to America, 

214 



, : m 




HARVARD HALL AND THE JOHXSOX GATE, CAMBRIDGE 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

with a certain diplomatic quality in his personality, 
standing almost consciously, as it were, for Germany 
in America, and for America in Germany. He has 
written a book for either people, because hitherto 
they have seen each other too much through Eng 
lish media ("von Englischen linseln retouchiert ") , 
and he has done much to spread the conception of a 
common quality and sympathy between Germany 
and America. " Blood," he says in this connection, 
"is thicker than water, but . . . printer s ink is 
thicker than blood." England is too aristocratic, 
France too shockingly immoral, Russia too absolutist 
to be the sympathetic and similar friend of America, 
and so, by a process of exhaustion, Germany remains 
the one power on earth capable of an "inner under 
standing." (Also he has drawn an alluring paral 
lel between President Roosevelt and the Emperor 
William to complete the approximation of "die 
beiden Edelnationen ") . I had read all this, and 
was interested to encounter him therefore at a 
Harvard table in a circle of his colleagues, agreeable 
and courteous, and still scarcely more assimilated 
than the brightly new white Germanic museum 
among the red brick traditions of Kirkland and 
Cambridge streets. . . . 

Harvard impresses me altogether as a very living 
factor in the present American outlook, not only 
when I was in Cambridge, but in the way the place 
tells in New York, in Chicago, in Washington. It 
has a living and contemporary attitude, and it is 
is 215 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

becoming more and more audible. Harvard opinion 
influences the magazines and affects the press, at 
least in the East, to an increasing extent. It may, 
in the near future, become still more rapidly audible. 
Professor Eliot is now full of years and honor, and I 
found in New York, in Boston, in Washington, that 
his successor was being discussed. In all these 
cities I met people disposed to believe that if Presi 
dent Roosevelt does not become President of the 
United States for a further term, he may succeed 
President Eliot. Now that I have seen President 
Roosevelt it seems to me that this might have a most 
extraordinary effect in accelerating the reaction 
upon the people of America of the best and least 
mercenary of their national thought. Already he is 
exerting an immense influence in the advertisement 
of new ideas and ideals. But of President Roosevelt 
I shall write more fully later. . . . 



CHICAGO UNIVERSITY, too, is a splen- 
" did P lace of fine buildings and green 
spaces and trees, with a great going to 
and fro of students, a wonderful contrast to the dark 
congestions of the mercantile city to the north. To 
all the disorganization of that it is even physically 
antagonistic, and I could think as I went about it 
that already this new organization has produced such 

216 




A BIT OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

writing as Veblen s admirable ironies (The Theory 
of Business Enterprise, for example), and such 
sociological work as that of Zueblin and Albion 
Small. I went through the vigorous and admirably 
equipped pedagogic department, which is evidently a 
centre of thought and stimulus for the whole teach 
ing profession of Illinois ; I saw a library of sociology 
and economics beyond anything that London can 
boast ; I came upon little groups of students working 
amid piles of books in a businesslike manner, and 
if at times in other sections this suggestion was still 
insistent that thought was as yet only "moving in" 
and, as it were, getting the carpets down, it was 
equally clear that thought was going to live freely 
and spaciously, to an unprecedented extent, so soon 
as things were in order. 

I visited only these three great foundations, each 
in its materially embodiment already larger, wealth 
ier, and more hopeful than any contemporary 
British institution, and it required an effort to 
realize that they were but a portion of the embattled 
universities of America, that I had not seen Yale nor 
Princeton nor Cornell nor Leland Stanford nor any 
Western State university, not a tithe, indeed, of 
America s drilling levies in the coming war of thought 
against chaos. I am in no way equipped to estimate 
the value of the drilling; I have been unable to get 
any conception how far these tens of thousands of 
students in these institutions are really alive in 
tellectually, are really inquiring, discussing, reading, 

217 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

and criticising ; I have no doubt the great numbers of 
them spend many hours after the fashion of one 
roomful I saw intent upon a blackboard covered 
with Greek; but allowing the utmost for indolence, 
games, distractions, and waste of time and energy 
upon unfruitful and obsolete studies, the fact of this 
great increasing proportion of minds at least a little 
trained in things immaterial, a little exercised in the 
critical habit, remains a fact to put over against that 
million and a half child workers who can barely have 
learned to read the other side, the redeeming side 
of the American prospect. 



VI 

I AM impressed by the evident con- 
A ^coraeii m sciousness of the American universities 
of the r61e they have to play in Amer 
ica s future. They seem to me pervaded by the 
constructive spirit. They are intelligently antag 
onistic to lethargic and self-indulgent traditions, to 
disorder, and disorderly institutions. It is from the 
universities that the deliberate invasion of the 
political machine by independent men of honor and 
position of whom President Roosevelt is the type 
and chief proceeds. Mr. George lies has called 
my attention to a remarkable address made so long 
ago as the year 1883 before the Yale Alumni, by 
President Andrew D. White (the first president), of 

218 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

Cornell, who was afterwards American Ambassador 
at St. Petersburg and Berlin. President White was 
a member of the class of 53, and he addressed him 
self particularly to the men of that year. His title 
was "The Message of the Nineteenth Century to the 
Twentieth," and it is full of a spirit that grows and 
spreads throughout American life, that may ulti 
mately spread throughout the life of the whole na 
tion, a spirit of criticism and constructive effort, of 
a scope and quality the world has never seen before. 
The new class of 83 are the messengers. 

"To a few tottering old men of our dear class of 
53 it will be granted to look with straining eyes over 
the boundary into the twentieth century; but even 
these can do little to make themselves heard then. 
Most of us shall not see it. But before us and 
around us ; nay, in our own families are the men who 
shall see it. The men who go forth from these dear 
shades to-morrow are girding themselves for it. 
Often as I have stood in the presence of such bands 
of youthful messengers I have never been able to 
resist a feeling of awe, as in my boyhood when I 
stood before men who were soon to see Palestine and 
the Far East, or the Golden Gates of the West, and 
the islands of the Pacific. The old story of St. 
Fillipo Neri at Rome comes back to me, who, in the 
days of the Elizabethan persecutions, made men 
bring him out into the open air and set him oppo 
site the door of the Papal College of Rome, that he 
might look into the faces of the English students, 

219 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

destined to go forth to triumph or to martyrdom foi 
the faith in far-off, heretic England." 

I cannot forbear from quoting further from this 
address; it is all so congenial to my own beliefs. 
Indeed, I like to think of that gathering of young 
men and old as if it were still existing, as though the 
old fellows of 53 were still sitting listening and look 
ing up responsive to this appeal that comes down 
to us. I fancy President White on the platform 
before them, a little figure in the perspective of a 
quarter of a century, but still quite clearly audible, 
delivering his periods to that now indistinguishable 
audience : 

" What, then, is to be done ? Mercantilism, neces 
sitated at first by our circumstances and position, 
has been in the main a great blessing. It has been 
so under a simple law of history. How shall it be 
prevented from becoming in obedience to a similar 
inexorable law, a curse? 

Here, in the answer to this question, it seems to 
me, is the most important message from this century 
to the next. 

"For the great thing to be done is neither more 
nor less than to develop other great elements of 
civilization now held in check, which shall take their 
rightful place in the United States, which shall 
modify the mercantile spirit, . . . which shall make 
the history of our country something greater and 
broader than anything we have reached, or ever can 
reach, under the sway of mercantilism alone. 

220 



THE MIND OF A MODERN STATE 

" What shall be those counter elements of civiliza 
tion? Monarchy, aristocracy, militarism we could 
not have if we would, we would not have if we could. 
What shall we have ? 

" I answer simply that we must do all that we 
can to rear greater fabrics of religious, philosophic 
thought, literary thought, scientific, artistic, political 
thought to summon young men more and more into 
these fields, not as a matter of taste or social op 
portunity, but as a patriotic duty; to hold before 
them not the incentive of mere gain or of mere 
pleasure or of mere reputation, but the ideal of a 
new and higher civilization. The greatest work 
which the coming century has to do in this country 
is to build up an aristocracy of thought and feeling 
which shall hold its own against the aristocracy of 
mercantilism. I would have more and more the 
appeal made to every young man who feels within 
him the ability to do good or great things in any of 
these higher fields, to devote his powers to them as a 
sacred duty, no matter how strongly the mercantile 
or business spirit may draw him. I would have the 
idea preached early and late. . . . 

"And as the guardian of such a movement, ... I 
would strengthen at every point this venerable uni 
versity, and others like it throughout the country. 
Remiss, indeed, have the graduates and friends of 
our own honored Yale been in their treatment of her. 
She has never had the means to do a tithe of what 
she might do. She ought to be made strong enough, 

221 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

with more departments, more professors, more 
fellowships, to become one of a series of great rally 
ing points or fortresses, and to hold always con 
centrated here a strong army, ever active against 
mercantilism, materialism, and Philistinism. . . . 

"But, after all, the effort to create these new 
counterpoising, modifying elements of a greater 
civilization must be begun in the individual man, 
and especially in the youth who feels within himself 
the power to think, the power to write, the power to 
carve the marble, to paint, to leave something be 
hind him better than dollars. In the individual 
minds and hearts and souls of the messengers who 
are preparing for the next century is a source of 
regeneration. They must form an ideal of religion 
higher than that of a life devoted to grasping and 
grinding and griping, with a whine for mercy at the 
end of it. They must form an ideal of science higher 
than that of increasing the production of iron or 
cotton. They must form an ideal of literature and 
of art higher than that of pandering to the latest 
prejudice or whimsey. And they must form an 
ideal of man himself worthy of that century into 
which are to be poured the accumulations of this. 
So shall material elements be brought to their proper 
place, made stronger for good, made harmless for 
evil. So shall we have that development of new and 
greater elements, that balance of principles which 
shall make this republic greater than anything of 
which we now can dream." 

222 



CHAPTER XIV 
CULTURE 



YET even as I write of the universi- 
as ^ ie centra l intellectual organ of a 
modern state, as I sit implying salvation 
by schools, there comes into my mind a mass of 
qualification. The devil in the American world 
drama may be mercantilism, ensnaring, tempting, 
battling against my hero, the creative mind of man, 
but mercantilism is not the only antagonist. In 
Fifth Avenue or Paterson one may find nothing but 
the zenith and nadir of the dollar hunt, at a Harvard 
table one may encounter nothing but living minds, 
but in Boston I mean not only Beacon Street and 
Commonwealth Avenue, but that Boston of the 
mind and heart that pervades American refinement 
and goes about the world one finds the human 
mind not base, nor brutal, nor stupid, nor ignorant, 
but mysteriously enchanting and ineffectual, so 
that having eyes it yet does not see, having powers 
it achieves nothing. . . . 

I remember Boston as a quiet effect, as something 
a little withdrawn, as a place standing aside from the 

221 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

throbbing interchange of East and West. When I 
hear the word Boston now it is that quality returns. 
I do not think of the spreading parkways of Mr. 
Woodbury and Mr. Olmstead nor of the crowded 
harbor; the congested tenement-house regions, full 
of those aliens whose tongues struck so strangely on 
the ears of Mr. Henry James, come not to mind. 
But I think of rows of well-built, brown and ruddy 
homes, each with a certain sound architectural 
distinction, each with its two squares of neatly 
trimmed grass between itself and the broad, quiet 
street, and each with its family of cultured people 
within. I am reminded of deferential but un 
ostentatious servants, and of being ushered into 
large, dignified entrance-halls. I think of spacious 
stairways, curtained archways, and rooms of agree 
able, receptive persons. I recall the finished in 
formality of the high tea. All the people of my im 
pression have been taught to speak English with a 
quite admirable intonation; some of the men and 
most of the women are proficient in two or three 
languages; they have travelled in Italy, they have 
all the recognized classics of European literature in 
their minds, and apt quotations at command. And 
I think of the constant presence of treasured as 
sociations with the titanic and now mellowing liter 
ary reputations of Victorian times, with Emerson 
(who called Poe "that jingle man"), and with Long 
fellow, whose house is now sacred, its view towards 
the Charles River and the stadium it is a real, 

224 



CULTURE 

correct stadium secured by the purchase of the 
sward before it forever. . . . 

At the mention of Boston I think, too, of autotypes 
and then of plaster casts. I do not think I shall ever 
see an autotype again without thinking of Boston. 
I think of autotypes of the supreme masterpieces of 
sculpture and painting, and particularly of the 
fluttering garments of the "Nike of Samothrace." 
(That I saw, also, in little casts and big, and photo 
graphed from every conceivable point of view.) It 
is incredible how many people in Boston have 
selected her for their aesthetic symbol and expression. 
Always that lady was in evidence about me, un 
obtrusively persistent, until at last her frozen stride 
pursued me into my dreams. That frozen stride 
became the visible spirit of Boston in my imagina 
tion, a sort of blind, headless, and unprogressive 
fine resolution that took no heed of any contem 
porary thing. Next to that I recall, as inseparably 
Bostonian, the dreaming grace of Botticelli s "Prima 
vera." All Bostonians admire Botticelli, and have a 
feeling for the roof of the Sistine chapel to so casual 
and adventurous a person as myself, indeed, Boston 
presents a terrible, a terrifying unanimity of aesthetic 
discriminations. I was nearly brought back to my 
childhood s persuasion that, after all, there is a right 
and wrong in these things. And Boston clearly 
thought the less of Mr. Bernard Shaw when I told 
her he had induced me to buy a pianola, not that 
Boston ever did set much store by so contemporary 

225 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

a person as Mr. Bernard Shaw. The books she reads 
are toned and seasoned books preferably in the old 
or else in limited editions, and by authors who may 
be lectured upon without decorum. . . . 

Boston has in her symphony concerts the best 
music in America, and here her tastes are severely 
orthodox and classic. I heard Beethoven s Fifth 
Symphony extraordinarilv well done, the familiar 
pinnacled Fifth Symphony, and now, whenever I 
grind that out upon the convenient mechanism be 
side my desk at home, mentally I shall be transferred 
to Boston again, shall hear its magnificent aggressive 
thumpings transfigured into exquisite orchestration, 
and sit again among that audience of pleased and 
pleasant ladies in chaste, high-necked, expensive 
dresses, and refined, attentive, appreciative, bald, 
or iron-gray men. . . . 



II 

THEN Boston has historical associa- 
Antf q uity tions that impressed me like iron- 
moulded, leather-bound, eighteenth-cen 
tury books. The War of Independence, that to us 
in England seems half-way back to the days of 
Elizabeth, is a thing of yesterday in Boston. " Here," 
your host will say and pause, "came marching so- 
and-so, " with his troops to relieve " so-and-so. And 
you will find he is the great-grandson of so-and-so, 
and still keeps that ancient colonial s sword. And 

226 



CULTURE 

these things happened before they dug the Hythe 
military canal, before Sandgate, except for a decrepit 
castle, existed; before the days when Bonaparte 
gathered his army at Boulogne in the days of 
muskets and pigtails and erected that column my 
telescope at home can reach for me on a clear day. 
All that is ancient history in England and in Boston 
the decade before those distant alarums and ex 
cursions is yesterday. A year or so ago they restored 
the British arms to the old State-House. " Feeling," 
my informant witnessed, "was dying down. * But 
there were protests, nevertheless. . . . 

If there is one note of incongruity in Boston, it is 
in the gilt dome of the Massachusetts State-House 
at night. They illuminate it with electric light. 
That shocked me as an anachronism. It shocked 
me much as it would have shocked me to see one 
of the colonial portraits, or even one of the endless 
autotypes of the Belvidere Apollo replaced, let us 
say, by one of Mr. Alvin Coburn s wonderfully 
beautiful photographs of modern New York. That 
electric glitter breaks the spell; it is the admission 
of the present, of the twentieth century. It is just 
as if the Quirinal and Vatican took to an exchange of 
badinage with search-lights, or the King mounted an 
illuminated E. R. on the Round Tower at Windsor. 

Save for that one discord there broods over the 
real Boston an immense effect of finality. One 
feels in Boston, as one feels in no other part of the 
States, that the intellectual movement has ceased, 

227 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Boston is now producing no literature except a 
little criticism. Contemporary Boston art is imita 
tive art, its writers are correct and imitative writers 
the central figure of its literary world is that charm 
ing old lady of eighty-eight, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 
One meets her and Colonel Higginson in the midst of 
an authors society that is not so much composed of 
minor stars as a chorus of indistinguishable culture. 
There are an admirable library and a museum in 
Boston, and the library is Italianate, and decorated 
within like an ancient missal. In the less ornamental 
spaces of this place there are books and readers. 
There is particularly a charming large room for 
children, full of pigmy chairs and tables, in which 
quite little tots sit reading. I regret now I did not 
ascertain precisely what they were reading, but I 
have no doubt it was classical matter. 

I do not know why the full sensing of what is ripe 
and good in the past should carry with it this quality 
of discriminating against the present and the future. 
The fact remains that it does so almost oppressively. 
I found myself by some accident of hospitality one 
evening in the company of a number of Boston 
gentlemen who constituted a book-collecting club. 
They had dined, and they were listening to a paper 
on Bibles printed in America. It was a scholarly, 
valuable, and exhaustive piece of research. The sur 
viving copies of each edition were traced, and when 
some rare specimen was mentioned as the property 
of any member of the club there was decorously 

228 



CULTURE 

warm applause. I had been seeing Boston, drink 
ing in the Boston atmosphere all day. ... I know it 
will seem an ungracious and ungrateful thing to con 
fess (yet the necessities of my picture of America 
compel me), but as I sat at the large and beautifully 
ordered table, with these fine, rich men about me, and 
listened to the steady progress of the reader s ever 
unrhetorical sentences, and the little bursts of ap 
proval, it came to me with a horrible quality of con 
viction that the mind of the world was dead, and 
that this was a distribution of souvenirs. 

Indeed, so strongly did this grip me that presently, 
upon some slight occasion, I excused myself and 
went out into the night. I wandered about Boston 
for some hours, trying to shake off this unfortunate 
idea. I felt that all the books had been written, 
all the pictures painted, all the thoughts said or at 
least that nobody would ever believe this wasn t so. 
I felt it was dreadful nonsense to go on writing books. 
Nothing remained but to collect them in the richest, 
finest manner one could. Somewhere about mid 
night I came to a publisher s window, and stood in 
the dim moonlight peering enviously at piled copies 
of Izaak Walton and Omar Khayyam, and all the 
happy immortals who got in before the gates were 
shut. And then in the corner I discovered a thin, 
small book. For a time I could scarcely believe my 
eyes. I lit a match to be the surer. And it was A 
Modern Symposium, by Lowes Dickinson, beyond 
all disputing. It was strangely comforting to see it 

229 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

there a leaf of olive from the world of thought I had 
imagined drowned forever. 

That was just one night s mood. I do not wish 
to accuse Boston of any wilful, deliberate repudiation 
of the present and the future. But I think that 
Boston when I say Boston let the reader always 
understand I mean that intellectual and spiritual 
Boston that goes about the world, that traffics in 
book-shops in Rome and Piccadilly, that I have 
dined with and wrangled with in my friend W. s 
house in Blackheath, dear W., who, I believe, has 
never seen America I think, I say, that Boston 
commits the scholastic error and tries to remember 
too much, to treasure too much, and has refined 
and studied and collected herself into a state of 
hopeless intellectual and aesthetic repletion in con 
sequence. In these matters there are limits. The 
finality of Boston is a quantitive consequence. The 
capacity of Boston, it would seem, was just sufficient 
but no more than sufficient, to comprehend the whole 
achievement of the human intellect up, let us say, 
to the year 1875 A.D. Then an equilibrium was es 
tablished. At or about that year Boston filled up. 



in 

IT is the peculiarity of Boston s in- 
About weiksiey tellectual quality that she cannot un 
load again. She treasures Longfellow 
in quantity. She treasures his works, she treasures 

230 



CULTURE 

associations, she treasures his Cambridge home. 
Now, really, to be perfectly frank about him, Long 
fellow is not good enough for that amount of in 
tellectual house room. He cumbers Boston. And 
when I went out to Wellesley to see that delightful 
girls college everybody told me I should be re 
minded of the "Princess." For the life of me I 
could not remember what " Princess." Much of my 
time in Boston was darkened by the constant strain 
of concealing the frightful gaps in my intellectual 
baggage, this absence of things I might reasonably 
be supposed, as a cultivated person, to have, but 
which, as a matter of fact, I d either left behind, 
never possessed, or deliberately thrown away. I 
felt instinctively that Boston could never possibly 
understand the light travelling of a philosophical 
carpet-bagger. But I hid in full view of the tree- 
set Wellseley lake, ay, with the skiffs of " sweet girl 
graduates" own up. "I say," I said, "I wish 
you wouldn t all be so allusive. What Princess?" 

It was, of course, that thing of Tennyson s. It is 
a long, frequently happy and elegant, and always 
meritorious narrative poem, in which a chaste Vic 
torian amorousness struggles with the early formulae 
of the feminist movement. I had read it when I 
was a boy, I was delighted to be able to claim, 
and had honorably forgotten the incident. But in 
Boston they treat it as a living classic, and expect 
you to remember constantly and with appreciation 
this passage and that. I think that quite typical 
16 231 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

of the Bostonian weakness. It is the error of the 
clever high-school girl, it is the mistake of the 
scholastic mmd all the world over, to learn too 
thoroughly and to carry too much. They want to 
know and remember Longfellow and Tennyson 
just as in art they want to know and remember 
Raphael and all the elegant inanity of the sacrifice 
at Lystra, or the miraculous draught of Fishes ; just 
as in history they keep all the picturesque legends of 
the War of Independence looking up the dates and 
minor names, one imagines, ever and again. Some 
years ago I met two Boston ladies in Rome. Each 
day they sallied forth from our hotel to see and 
appreciate; each evening, after dinner, they revised 
and underlined in Baedeker what they had seen. 
They meant to miss nothing in Rome. It s fine in its 
way this receptive eagerness, this learners avidity. 
Only people who can go about in this spirit need, if 
their minds are to remain mobile, not so much heads 
as cephalic pantechnicon vans. . . . 



IV 

I FIND this appetite to have all the 
me ^ w ano ^ refined and beautiful things 
in life to the exclusion of all thought for 
the present and the future even in the sweet, free 
air of Wellesley s broad park, that most delight 
ful, that almost incredible girls university, with its 

232 



CULTURE 

class-rooms, its halls of residence, its club-houses 
and gathering-places among the glades and trees. I 
have very vivid in my mind a sunlit room in which 
girls were copying the detail in the photographs of 
masterpieces, and all around this room were cabinets 
of drawers, and in each drawer photographs. There 
must be in that room photographs of every picture 
of the slightest importance in Italy, and detailed 
studies of many. I suppose, too, there are photo 
graphs of all the sculpture and buildings in Italy 
that are by any standard considerable. There is, 
indeed, a great civilization, stretching over centuries 
and embodying the thought and devotion, the 
scepticism and levities, the ambition, the pretensions, 
the passions, and desires of innumerable sinful and 
world-used men canned, as it were, in this one 
room, and freed from any deleterious ingredients. 
The young ladies, under the direction of competent 
instructors, go through it, no doubt, industriously, 
and emerge capable of Browning. 

I was taken into two or three charming club 
houses that dot this beautiful domain. There was 
a Shakespeare club-house, with a delightful theatre, 
Elizabethan in style, and all set about with Shake 
spearean things; there was the club-house of the 
girls who are fitting themselves for their share in the 
great American problem by the study of Greek. 
Groups of pleasant girls in each, grave with the fine 
gravity of youth, entertained the reluctantly critical 
visitor, and were unmistakably delighted and re- 

233 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

laxed when one made it clear that one was not in the 
Great Teacher line of business, when one confided 
that one was there on false pretences, and insisting 
on seeing the pantry. They have jolly little pantries, 
and they make excellent tea. 

I returned to Boston at last in a state of mighty 
doubting, provided with a Wellesley College calendar 
to study at my leisure. 

I cannot, for the life of me, determine how far 
Wellesley is an aspect of what I have called Boston ; 
how far it is a part of that wide forward movement 
of the universities upon which I lavish hope and 
blessings. Those drawings of photographed Ma 
donnas and Holy Families and Annunciations, the 
sustained study of Greek, the class in the French 
drama of the seventeenth century, the study of the 
topography of Rome fill me with misgivings, seeing 
the world is in torment for the want of living thought 
about its present affairs. But, on the other hand, 
there are courses upon socialism though the text 
book is still Das Kapital of Marx and upon the in 
dustrial history of England and America. I didn t 
discover a debating society, but there is a large 
accessible library. 

How far, I wonder still, are these girls thinking 
and feeding mentally for themselves ? What do 
they discuss one with another? How far do they 
suffer under that plight of feminine education 
notetaking from lectures? . . . 

But, after all, this about Wellesley is a digression 

234 



CULTURE 

into which I fell by way of Boston s autotypes. My 
main thesis was that culture, as it is conceived in 
Boston, is no contribution to the future of America, 
that cultivated people may be, in effect, as state- 
blind as Mr. Morgan Richards. It matters little 
in the mind of the world whether any one is con 
centrated upon mediaeval poetry, Florentine pict 
ures, or the propagation of pills. The common, 
significant fact in all these cases is this, a blindness 
to the crude splendor of the possibilities of America 
now, to the tragic greatness of the unheeded issues 
that blunder towards solution. Frankly, I grieve 
over Boston Boston throughout the world as a 
great waste of leisure and energy, as a frittering away 
of moral and intellectual possibilities. We give too 
much to the past. New York is not simply more 
interesting than Rome, but more significant, more 
stimulating, and far more beautiful, and the idea 
that to be concerned about the latter in preference 
to the former is a mark of a finer mental quality is 
one of the most mischievous and foolish ideas that 
ever invaded the mind of man. We are obsessed by 
the scholastic prestige of mere knowledge and genteel 
remoteness. Over against unthinking ignorance is 
scholarly refinement, the spirit of Boston; between 
that Scylla and this Charybdis the creative mind 
of man steers its precarious way. 



CHAPTER XV 
AT WASHINGTON 



I CAME to Washington full of expec- 
as tat { ons an( ^ curiosities. Here, I felt, so 

/vnti-ciimax 

far as it could exist visibly and palpably 
anywhere, was the head and mind of this colossal 
America over which my observant curiosities had 
wandered. In this place I should find, among other 
things, perhaps as many as ten thousand men who 
would not be concerned in trade. There would be 
all the Senators and representatives, their secre 
taries and officials, and four thousand and more 
scientific and literary men of Washington s institu 
tions and libraries, the diplomatic corps, the educa 
tional centres, the civil service, the writers and 
thinking men who must inevitably be drawn to this 
predestined centre. I promised myself arduous in 
tercourse with a teeming intellectual life. Here I 
should find questions answered, discover missing 
clues, get hold of the last connections in my inquiry. 
I should complete at Washington my vision of 
America ; my forecast would follow. 

236 



AT WASHINGTON 

I don t precisely remember how this vision de 
parted. I know only that after a day or so in 
Washington an entirely different conception was es 
tablished, a conception of Washington as architect 
ure and avenues, as a place of picture post -cards 
and excursions, with sightseers instead of thoughts 
going to and fro. I had imagined that in Washing 
ton I should find such mentally vigorous discussion- 
centres as the New York X Club on a quite mag 
nificent scale. Instead, I found the chief scientific 
gathering - place has, like so many messes in the 
British army before the Boer war, a rule against 
talking "shop." In all Washington there is no 
clearing-house of thought at all ; Washington has no 
literary journals, no magazines, no publications other 
than those of the official specialist there does not 
seem to be a living for a single firm of publishers in 
this magnificent empty city. 

I went about the place in a state of ridiculous and 
deepening concern. I went though the splendid 
Botanical Gardens, through the spacious and beau 
tiful Capitol, and so to the magnificently equipped 
Library of Congress. There in an upper chamber 
that commands an altogether beautiful view of long 
vistas of avenue and garden to that stupendous un 
meaning obelisk (the work of the women of America) 
that dominates all Washington, I found at last a 
little group of men who could talk. It was like a 
small raft upon a limitless empty sea. I lunched 
with them at their Round Table, and afterwards Mr. 

237 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

Putnam showed me the Rotunda, quite the most 
gracious reading-room dome the world possesses, 
and explained the wonderful mechanical organiza 
tion that brings almost every volume in that immense 
collection within a minute of one s hand. " With all 
this," I asked him, "why doesn t the place think?" 
He seemed, discreetly, to consider it did. 

It was in the vein of Washington s detached dead- 
ness that I should find Professor Langley (whose 
flying experiments I have followed for some years 
with close interest) was dead, and I went through 
the long galleries of archaeological specimens and 
stuffed animals in the Smithsonian Institution to 
inflict my questions upon his temporary successor, 
Dr. Cyrus Adler. He had no adequate excuses. He 
found a kind of explanation in the want of enter 
prise of American publishers, so that none of them 
come to Washington to tap its latent resources of 
knowledge and intellectual capacity; but that does 
not account for the absence of any traffic in ideas. 
It is perhaps near the truth to say that this dearth of 
any general and comprehensive intellectual activity 
is due to intellectual specialization. The four 
thousand scientific men in Washington are all too 
energetically busy with ethnographic details, elec 
trical computations, or herbaria to talk about com 
mon and universal things. They ought not to be so 
busy, and a science so specialized sinks half-way 
down the scale of sciences. Science is one of those 
things that cannot hustle; if it does, it loses its con- 

238 




IX THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY 



AT WASHINGTON 

nections. In Washington some men, I gathered, 
hustle, others play bridge, and general questions are 
left, a little contemptuously, as being of the nature of 
"gas," to the newspapers and magazines. Philos 
ophy, which correlates the sciences and keeps them 
subservient to the universals of life, has no seat 
there. My anticipated synthesis of ten thousand 
minds refused, under examination, to synthesize at 
all; it remained disintegrated, a mob, individually 
active and collectively futile, of specialists and 
politicians. 



ii 

BUT that is only one side of Washing- 

ton life > the side east and south of the 
White House. Northwestward I found, 

I confess, the most agreeable social atmosphere in 
America. It is a region of large fine houses, of 
dignified and ample-minded people, people not given 
over to "smartness" nor redolent of dollars, un 
hurried and reflective, not altogether lost to the 
wider aspects of life. In Washington I met again 
that peculiarly aristocratic quality I had found in 
Harvard in the person of President Eliot, for ex 
ample an aristocratic quality that is all the finer 
for the absence of rank, that has integral in it 
books, thought, and responsibility. And yet I 
could have wished these fine peopie more alive to 

239 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

present and future things, a little less established 
upon completed and mellowing foundations, a little 
less final in their admirable finish. . . . 

There was, I found, a little breeze of satisfaction 
fluttering the Washington atmosphere in this region. 
Mr. Henry James came through the States last year 
distributing epithets among their cities with the 
justest aptitude. Washington was the "City of 
Conversation"; and she was pleasantly conscious 
that she merited this friendly coronation. 

Washington, indeed, converses well, without awk 
wardness, without chatterings, kindly, watchful, 
agreeably witty. She lulled and tamed my purpose 
to ask about primary things, to discuss large ques 
tions. Only once, and that was in an after-dinner 
duologue, did I get at all into a question in Wash 
ington. For the rest, Washington remarked and al 
luded and made her point and got away. 



in 

AND Washington, with a remarkable 

Mount Vemon unanimity and in the most charming 

manner, assured me that if I came to 

see and understand America I must on no account 

miss Mount Vernon. To have passed indifferently 

by Concord was bad enough, I was told, but to ignore 

the home of the first president, to turn my back upon 

that ripe monument of colonial simplicity, would be 

240 



AT WASHINGTON 

quite criminal neglect. To me it was a revelation 
how sincerely insistent they were upon this. It re 
minded me of an effect I had already appreciated 
very keenly in Boston and even before Boston, 
when Mr. Z took me across Spuyten Duyvil into the 
country of Sleepy Hollow, and spoke of Cornwallis 
as though he had died yesterday and that is the 
longer historical perspectives of America. America 
is an older country than any European one, for she 
has not rejuvenesced for a hundred and thirty years. 
In endless ways America fails to be contemporary. 
In many respects, no doubt, she is decades in front 
of Europe, in mechanism, for example, and produc 
tive organization, but in very many other and more 
fundamental ones she is decades behind. Go but a 
little way back and you will find the European s 
perspectives close up; they close at 71, at 48, down 
a vista of reform bills, at Waterloo and the treaty of 
Paris, at the Irish Union, at the coming of Victor 
Emanuel; Great Britain, for example, in the last 
hundred years has reconstructed politically and 
socially, created half her present peerage, evolved 
the Empire of India, developed Australia, New Zea 
land, South Africa, fought fifty considerable wars. 
Mount Vernon, on the other hand, goes back with 
unbroken continuity, a broad band of mellow tradi 
tion, to the War of Independence. 

Well, I got all that in conversation at Washington, 
and so I didn t need to go to Mount Vernon, after all. 
I got all that about 1777, and I failed altogether to 

241 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

get anything of any value whatever about 1977 
which is the year of greater interest to me. About 
the direction and destinies of that great American 
process that echoes so remotely through Washing 
ton s cool gracefulness of architecture and her um 
brageous parks, this cultivated society seemed to me 
to be terribly incurious and indifferent. It was alive 
to political personalities, no doubt, its sons and hus 
bands were Senators, judges, ambassadors, and the 
like; it was concerned with their speeches and 
prospects, but as to the trend of the whole thing 
Washington does not picture it, does not want to 
picture it. I found myself presently excusing my 
self for Mount Vernon on the ground that I was not a 
retrospective American, but a go-ahead Englishman, 
and so apologizing for my want of reverence for 
venerable things. "We are a young people," I 
maintained. "We are a new generation. " 



IV 

I WENT to see the Senate debating the 
In 1i e ous e " ate ~ railway-rate bill, and from the Senato 
rial gallery I had pointed out to me 
Tillman and Platt, Foraker and Lodge, and all the 
varied personalities of the assembly. The chamber 
is a circular one, with enormously capacious galleries. 
The members speak from their desks, other mem 
bers write letters, read (and rustle) newspapers, sit 

342 



AT WASHINGTON 

among accumulations of torn paper, or stand round 
the apartment in audibly conversational groups. 
A number of messenger-boys they wear no uniform 
share the floor of the House with the representa 
tives, and are called by clapping the hands. They 
go to and fro, or sit at the feet of the Vice-President. 
Behind and above the Vice-President the newspaper 
men sit in a state of partial attention, occasionally 
making notes for the vivid descriptions that have 
long since superseded verbatim reports in America. 
The public galleries contain hundreds of intermittent 
ly talkative spectators. For the most part these did 
not seem to me to represent, as the little strangers 
gallery in the House of Commons represents, in 
terests affected. They were rather spectators see 
ing Washington, taking the Senate en route for the 
obelisk top and Mount Vernon. They made little 
attempt to hear the speeches. 

In a large distinguished emptiness among these 
galleries is the space devoted to diplomatic repre 
sentatives, and there I saw, sitting in a meritorious 
solitude, the British charge d affaires and his wife 
following the debate below. I found it altogether 
too submerged for me to follow. The countless 
spectators, the Senators, the boy messengers, the 
comings and goings kept up a perpetual confusing 
babblement. One saw men walking carelessly be 
tween the Speaker and the Vice-President, and at one 
time two gentlemen with their backs to the member 
in possession of the House engaged the Vice-President 

243 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

in an earnest conversation. The messengers cir 
culated at a brisk trot, or sat on the edge of the dais 
exchanging subdued badinage. I have never seen a 
more distracted Legislature. 

The whole effect of Washington is a want of con 
centration, of something unprehensile and apart. 
It is on, not in, the American process. The place 
seems to me to reflect, even in its sounds and physi 
cal forms, that dispersal of power, that evasion of a 
simple conclusiveness, which is the peculiar effect of 
that ancient compromise, the American Constitution. 
The framers of that treaty were haunted by two 
terrible bogies, a military dictatorship and what they 
called " mob rule, * they were obsessed by the need of 
safeguards against these dangers, they were con 
trolled by the mutual distrust of constituent States 
far more alien to one another than they are now, and 
they failed to foresee both the enormous assimilation 
of interests and character presently to be wrought 
by the railways and telegraphs, and the huge pos 
sibilities of corruption, elaborate electrical arrange 
ments offer to clever unscrupulous men. And here 
in Washington is the result, a Legislature that fails 
to legislate, a government that cannot govern, a 
pseudo-responsible administration that offers enor 
mous scope for corruption, and that is perhaps in 
vincibly intrenched behind the two-party system 
from any insurgence of the popular will. The plain 
fact of the case is that Congress, as it is constituted 
at present, is the feeblest, least accessible, and most 

244 



AT WASHINGTON 

inefficient central government of any civilized nation 
in the worst west of Russia. Congress is entirely in 
adequate to the tasks of the present time. 

I came away from Washington with my pre 
conception enormously reinforced that the supreme 
need of America, the preliminary thing to any social 
or economic reconstruction, is political reform. It 
seems to me to lie upon the surface that America has 
to be democratized. It is necessary to make the 
Senate and the House of Representatives more in 
terdependent, and to abolish the possibilities of 
deadlocks between them, to make election to the 
Senate direct from the people, and to qualify and 
weaken the power of the two-party system by the 
introduction of "second ballots" and the referen 
dum. . . . 

But how such drastic changes are to be achieved 
constitutionally in America I cannot imagine. Only 
a great educated, trained, and sustained agitation 
can bring about so fundamental a political revolu 
tion, and at present I can find nowhere even the 
beginnings of a realization of this need. 



IN the White House, set midway be- 
twe6n the Washington of the sight 
seers and the Washington of brilliant 
conversation, I met President Roosevelt. I was 

245 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

mightily pleased by the White House; it is dignified 
and simple once again am I tempted to use the 
phrase " aristocratic in the best sense" of things 
American; and an entire absence of uniforms or 
liveries creates an atmosphere of Republican equal 
ity that is reinforced by "Mr. President s" friendly 
grasp of one s (indistinguishable hand. And after 
lunch I walked about the grounds with him, and so 
achieved my ambition to get him "placed," as it 
were, in my vision of America. 

In the rare chances I have had of meeting states 
men, there has always been one common effect, an 
effect of their being smaller, less audible, and less 
saliently featured than one had expected. A com 
mon man builds up his picture of the men prominent 
in the great game of life very largely out of caricature, 
out of head-lines, out of posed and "characteristic" 
portraits. One associates them with actresses and 
actors, literary poseurs and suchlike public per 
formers, anticipates the same vivid self-conscious 
ness as these display in common intercourse, keys 
one s self up for the paint on their faces, and for 
voices and manners altogether too accentuated for 
the gray -toned lives of common men. I ve met 
politicians who remained at that. But so soon as 
Mr. Roosevelt entered the room, "Teddy," the 
Teddy of the slouch hat, the glasses, the teeth, and 
the sword, that strenuous vehement Teddy (who 
had, let me admit, survived a full course of reading 
in the President s earlier writings) vanished, and 

246 



AT WASHINGTON 

gave place to an entirely negotiable individuality. 
To-day, at any rate, the "Teddy" legend is untrue. 
Perhaps it wasn t always quite untrue. There was 
a time during the world predominance of Mr. 
Kipling, when I think the caricature must have come 
close to certain of Mr. Roosevelt s acceptances and 
attitudes. But that was ten years and more ago, 
and Mr. Roosevelt to this day goes on thinking and 
changing and growing. . . . 

For me, anyhow, that strenuousness has vanished 
beyond recalling, and there has emerged a figure in 
gray of a quite reasonable size, with a face far more 
thoughtful and perplexed than strenuous, with a 
clinched hand that does indeed gesticulate, though 
it is by no means a gigantic fist and with quick 
movements, a voice strained indeed, a little forced 
for oratory, but not raised or aggressive in any fash 
ion, and friendly screwed-up eyes behind the glasses. 

It isn t my purpose at all to report a conversation 
that went from point to point. I wasn t interview 
ing the President, and I made no note at the time 
of the things said. My impression was of a mind 
for the situation quite extraordinarily open. That 
is the value of President Roosevelt for me, and why 
I can t for the life of my book leave him out. He 
is the seeking mind of America displayed. The 
ordinary politician goes through his career like a 
charging bull, with his eyes shut to any changes in 
the premises. He locks up his mind like a powder 
magazine. But any spark may fire the mind of 

17 247 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

President Roosevelt. His range of reading is amaz 
ing ; he seems to be echoing with all the thought of the 
time, he has receptivity to the pitch of genius. And 
he does not merely receive, he digests and recon 
structs ; he thinks. It is his political misfortune that 
at times he thinks aloud. His mind is active with 
projects of solution for the teeming problems around 
him. Traditions have no hold upon him nor, his 
enemies say, have any but quite formal pledges. It 
is hard to tie him. In all these things he is to a sin 
gle completeness, to mind and will of contemporary 
America. And by an unparalleled conspiracy of 
political accidents, as all the world knows, he has got 
to the White House. He is not a part of the regular 
American political system at all he has, it happens, 
stuck through. 

Now my picture of America is, as I have tried to 
make clear, one of a gigantic process of growth, of 
economic coming and going, spaced out over vast 
distances and involving millions of hastening men; 
I see America as towns and urgency and greatnesses 
beyond, I suppose, any precedent that has ever been 
in the world. And like a little island of order amid 
that ocean of enormous opportunity and business 
turmoil and striving individualities, is this District 
of Columbia, with Washington and its Capitol and 
obelisk. It is^a mere pin-point in the unlimited, on 
which, in peace times, the national government lies 
marooned, twisted up into knots, bound with safe 
guards, and altogether impotently stranded. And 

248 



AT WASHINGTON 

peering closely, and looking from the Capitol down 
the vista of Pennsylvania Avenue, I see the White 
House, minute and clear, with a fountain playing 
before it, and behind it a railed garden set with fine 
trees. The trees are not so thick, nor the railings so 
high but that the people on the big seeing Washing 
ton cannot crane to look into it and watch whoever 
walk about it. And in this garden goes a living 
speck, as it were, in gray, talking, swinging a white 
clinched hand, and trying vigorously and resolutely 
to get a hold upon the significance of the whole vast 
process in which he and his island of government 
are set. 

Always before him there have been political re 
sultants, irrelevancies and futilities of the White 
House; and after him, it would seem, they may come 
again. I do not know anything of the quality of 
Mr. Bryan, who may perhaps succeed him. He, too, 
is something of an exception, it seems, and keeps a 
still developing and inquiring mind. Beyond is a 
vista of figures of questionable value so far as I am 
concerned. They have this in common that they 
don t stand for thought. For the present, at any 
rate, a personality, extraordinarily representative, 
occupies the White House. And what he chooses to 
say publicly (and some things he says privately) are, 
by an exceptional law of acoustics, heard in San 
Francisco, in Chicago, in New Orleans, in New York 
and Boston, in Kansas, and Maine, throughout the 
whole breadth of the United States of America. He 

249 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

assimilates contemporary thought, delocalizes and 
reverberates it. He is America for the first time 
vocal to itself. 

What is America saying to itself? 

I ve read most of the President s recent speeches, 
and they fall in oddly with that quality in his face 
that so many photographs even convey, a complex 
mingling of will and a critical perplexity. Taken all 
together they amount to a mass of not always con 
sistent suggestions, that and conflict overlap. Things 
crowd upon him, rebate scandals, insurance scandals, 
the meat scandals, this insecurity and that. The 
conditions of his position press upon him. It is no 
wonder he gives out no single, simple note. . . . 

The plain fact is that in the face of the teeming 
situations of to-day America does not know what to 
do. Nobody, except those happily gifted individuals 
who can see but one aspect of an intricate infinitude, 
imagines any simple solution. For the rest the time 
is one of ample, vigorous, and at times impatient 
inquiry, and of intense disillusionment with old as 
sumptions and methods. And never did a President 
before so reflect the quality of his time. The trend 
is altogether away from the anarchistic individualism 
of the nineteenth century, that much is sure, and 
towards some constructive scheme which, if not 
exactly socialism, as socialism is defined, will be, at 
any rate, closely analogous to socialism. This is the 
immense change of thought and attitude in which 
President Roosevelt participates, and to which he 

250 



AT WASHINGTON 

gives a unique expression. Day by day he changes 
with the big world about him contradicts 
himself. . . . 

I came away with the clear impression that neither 
President Roosevelt nor America will ever, as some 
people prophesy, "declare for socialism," but my 
impression is equally clear, that he and all the world 
of men he stands for, have done forever with the 
threadbare formulae that have served America such 
an unconscionable time. We talked of the press and 
books and of the question of color, and then for a 
while about the role of the universities in the life 
of the coming time. 

Now it is a curious thing that as I talked with 
President Roosevelt in the garden of the White 
House there came back to me quite forcibly that 
undertone of doubt that has haunted me throughout 
this journey. After all, does this magnificent ap 
pearance of beginnings which is America, convey any 
clear and certain promise of permanence and fulfil 
ment whatever? Much makes for construction, a 
great wave of reform is going on, but will it drive on 
to anything more than a breaking impact upon even 
more gigantic uncertainties and dangers. Is America 
a giant childhood or a gigantic futility, a mere latest 
phase of that long succession of experiments which 
has been and may be for interminable years may be 
indeed altogether until the end man s social his 
tory? I can t now recall how our discursive talk 
settled towards that, but it is clear to me that I 

251 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

struck upon a familiar vein of thought in the Presi 
dent s mind. He hadn t, he said, an effectual dis 
proof of any pessimistic interpretation of the future. 
If one chose to say America must presently lose the 
impetus of her ascent, that she and all mankind 
must culminate and pass, he could not conclusively 
deny that possibility. Only he chose to live as if 
this were not so. 

That remained in his mind. Presently he reverted 
to it. He made a sort of apology for his life against 
the doubts and scepticisms that, I fear, must be in 
the background of the thoughts of every modern 
man who is intellectually alive. He mentioned a 
little book of mine, an early book full of the deliberate 
pessimism of youth, in which I drew a picture of a 
future of decadence, of a time when constructive 
effort had fought its fight and failed, when the in 
evitable segregations of an individualistic system had 
worked themselves out and all the hope and vigor of 
humanity had gone forever. The descendants of the 
workers had become etiolated, sinister, and sub 
terranean monsters, the property-owners had de 
generated into a hectic and feebly self-indulgent race, 
living fitfully amid the ruins of the present time. 
He became gesticulatory, and his straining voice a 
note higher in denying this as a credible interpreta 
tion of destiny. With one of those sudden move 
ments of his, he knelt forward in a garden chair 
we were standing before our parting beneath the 
colonnade and addressed me very earnestly over 

252 



AT WASHINGTON 

the back, clutching it, and then thrusting out his 
familiar gesture, a hand first partly open and then 
closed. 

" Suppose after all," he said, slowly, "that should 
prove to be right, and it all ends in your butterflies 
and morlocks. That doesn t matter now. The ef 
fort s real. It s worth going on with. It s worth it. 
It s worth it even then." . . . 

I can see him now and hear his unmusical voice 
saying "The effort the effort s worth it," and see 
the gesture of his clinched hand and the how can 
I describe it ? the friendly peering snarl of his face, 
like a man with the sun in his eyes. He sticks in my 
mind as that, as a very symbol of the creative will 
in man, in its limitations, its doubtful adequacy, its 
valiant persistence amid perplexities and confusions. 
He kneels out, assertive against his setting and his 
setting is the White House with a background of all 
America. 

I could almost write, with a background of all the 
world for I know of no other a tithe so representa 
tive of the creative purpose, the good-will in men as 
he. In his undisciplined hastiness, his limitations, 
his prejudices, his unfairness, his frequent errors, 
just as much as in his force, his sustained courage, 
his integrity, his open intelligence, he stands for his 
people and his kind. 



THE ENVOY 

AND at last I am back in my study by the sea. It 
is high June. When I said good-bye to things it 
was March, a March warm and eager to begin with, 
and then dashed with sleet and wind; but the 
daffodils were out, and the primulas and primroses 
shone brown and yellow in the unseasonable snow. 
The spring display that was just beginning is over. 
The iris rules. Outside the window is a long level 
line of black fleur-de-lys rising from a serried rank of 
leaf-blades. Their silhouettes stand out against 
the brightness of the twilight sea. They mark, so 
opened, two months of absence. And in the in 
terval I have seen a great world. 

I have tried to render it as I saw it. I have tried 
to present the first exhilaration produced by the 
sheer growth of it, the morning-time hopefulness of 
spacious and magnificent opportunity, the optimism 
of successful, swift, progressive effort in material 
things. And from that I have passed to my sense 
of the chaotic condition of the American will, and 
that first confidence has darkened more and more 
towards doubt again. I came to America question 
ing the certitudes of progress. For a time I forgot 

254 



ENVOY 

my questionings; I sincerely believed, "These people 
can do anything," and, now I have it all in perspec 
tive, I have to confess that doubt has taken me 
again. "These people," I say, "might do anything. 
They are the finest people upon earth the most 
hopeful. But they are vain and hasty; they are 
thoughtless, harsh, and undisciplined. In the end, 
it may be, they will accomplish nothing." I see, I 
have noted in its place, the great forces of construc 
tion, the buoyant, creative spirit of America. But 
I have marked, too, the intricacy of snares and 
obstacles in its path. The problem of America, save 
in its scale and freedom, is no different from the 
problem of Great Britain, of Europe, of all humanity; 
it is one chiefly moral and intellectual ; it is to resolve 
a confusion of purposes, traditions, habits, into a 
common ordered intention. Everywhere one finds 
what seem to me the beginnings of that and, for 
this epoch it is all too possible, they may get no 
further than beginnings. Yet another Decline and 
Fall may remain to be written, another and another, 
and it may be another, before the World State 
comes and Peace. 

Yet against this prospect of a dispersal of will, 
of a secular decline in honor, education, public 
spirit, and confidence, of a secular intensification of 
corruption, lawlessness, and disorder, I do, with a 
confidence that waxes and wanes, balance the crea 
tive spirit in America, and that kindred spirit that 
for me finds its best symbol in the President s kneel- 

2 55 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

ing, gesticulating figure, and his urgent "The effort s 
worth it!" Who can gauge the far-reaching in 
fluence of even the science we have, in ordering and 
quickening the imagination of man, in enhancing and 
assuring their powers? Common men feel secure 
to-day in enterprises it needed men of genius to 
conceive in former times. And there is a literature 
for all our faults we do write more widely, deeply, 
disinterestedly, more freely and frankly than any 
set of writers ever did before reaching incalcula 
ble masses of readers, and embodying an amount 
of common consciousness and purpose beyond all 
precedent. Consider only how nowadays the prob 
lems that were once the inaccessible thoughts of 
statesmen may be envisaged by common men! 
Here am I really able, in a few weeks of observant 
work, to get a picture of America. I publish it. 
If it bears a likeness, it will live and be of use ; if not 
it will die, and be no irreparable loss. Some frag 
ment, some suggestion may survive. My friend Mr. 
F. Madox Hueffer was here a day or so ago to say 
good-bye; he starts for America as I write here, to 
get his vision. As I have been writing these papers 
I have also been reading, instalment by instalment, 
the subtle, fine renderings of America revisited by 
Mr. Henry James. We work in shoals, great and 
small together, one trial thought following another. 
We are getting the world presented. It is not 
simply America that we swarm over and build up 
into a conceivable process, into something under- 

256 



ENVOY 

standable and negotiable by the mind. I find on 
my desk here waiting for me a most illuminating 
Vision of India, in which Mr. Sidney Low, with a 
marvellous aptitude, has interpreted east to west. 
Besides my poor superficialities in The Tribune ap 
pears Sir William Butler, with a livid frankness ex 
pounding the most intimate aspects of the South 
African situation. A friend who called to-day spoke 
of Nevinson s raid upon the slave trade of Portuguese 
East Africa, and of two irrepressible writers upon 
the Congo crimes. I have already mentioned the 
economic and social literature, the so-called literature 
of exposure in America. This altogether represents 
collectively a tremendous illumination. No social 
development was ever so lit and seen before. Col 
lectively, this literature of facts and theories and 
impressions is of immense importance. Things are 
done in the light, more and more are they done in the 
light. The world perceives and thinks. . . . 

After all is said and done, I do find the balance of 
my mind tilts steadily to a belief in a continuing and 
accelerated progress now in human affairs. And in 
spite of my patriotic inclinations, in spite, too, of the 
present high intelligence and efficiency of Germany, 
it seems to me that in America, by sheer virtue of its 
size, its free traditions, and the habit of initiative 
in its people, the leadership of progress must ultimate 
ly rest. Things like the Chicago scandals, the insur 
ance scandals, and all the manifest crudities of the 
American spectacle, don t seem to me to be more 

257 



THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

\ 

than relatively trivial after all. There are the uni 
versities, the turbines of Niagara, the New York 
architecture, and the quality of the mediocre people 
to set against these. . . . 

Within a week after I saw the President I was on 
the Umbria and steaming slowly through the long 
spectacle of that harbor which was my first im 
pression of America, which still, to my imagination, 
stands so largely for America. The crowded ferry 
boats hooted past; athwart the shining water, tugs 
clamored to and fro. The skyscrapers raised their 
slender masses heavenward America s gay bunting 
lit the scene. As we dropped down I had a last 
glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge. There to the right 
was Ellis Island, where the immigrants, minute by 
minute, drip and drip into America, and beyond 
that the tall spike-headed Liberty with the reluctant 
torch, which I have sought to make the centre of 
all this writing. And suddenly as I looked back at 
the skyscrapers of lower New York a queer fancy 
sprang into my head. They reminded me quite 
irresistibly of piled-up packing cases outside a ware 
house. I was amazed I had not seen the resem 
blance before. I could really have believed for 
a moment that that was what they were, and that 
presently out of these would come the real thing, 
palaces and noble places, free, high circumstances, 
and space and leisure, light and fine living for the 
sons of men. . . . 

Ocean, cities, multitudes, long journeys, moun- 
258 



ENVOY 

tains, lakes as large as seas, and the riddle of a 
nation s destiny; I ve done my impertinent best now 
with this monstrous insoluble problem. I finish. 

The air is very warm and pleasant in my garden 
to-night, the sunset has left a rim of greenish-gold 
about the northward sky, shading up a blue that is, 
as yet, scarce pierced by any star. I write down 
these last words here, and then I shall step through 
the window and sit out there in the kindly twilight, 
now quiet, now gossiping idly -of what so-and-so has 
done while I have been away, of personal motives 
and of little incidents and entertaining intimate 
things. 



THE END