warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/iovannet/public_html/explorion/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Japan

My first experience of democracy-in-being followed swiftly upon boarding the steamboat for San Francisco, when "Show this man Number 231" was the American steward's command to a cabin boy. I had no objection to being called a man: far from it; but after years of being called a gentleman it was startling. This happened at Yokohama; and when, in the Customs House at San Francisco, a porter wheeling a truck broke through a queue of us waiting to obtain our quittances, with the careless warning, "Out of the way, fellers!" I knew that here was democracy indeed.

All visitors to New York speak of the exhilaration of its air, and I can but repeat their testimony. After the first few days the idea of going to bed became an absurdity.

  Ah, what avails the sceptred race, 
    Ah, what the form divine! 
  What every virtue, every grace! 
    Rose Aylmer, all were thine!

It was in San Francisco that I learned - and very quickly - that it is as necessary to visit America in order to know what Americans are like as it is to leave one's own country in order to know more about that. Americans when abroad are less hearty, less revealing. They are either suffering from a constraint or an over-assertiveness; and both moods may be due to not being at home. In neither case are they so natural as at home. I suppose that on soil not our own we all tend to be a little over-anxious to proclaim our nationality, to maintain the distinction.

America is a land of newspapers, and the newspapers are very largely the same. To a certain extent many of them are exactly the same, for the vastness of the country makes it possible to syndicalise various features, so that you find Walt Mason's sagacious and merry and punctual verse, printed to look like prose but never disappointing the ear, in one of the journals that you buy wherever you are, in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago or New York; and Mr. Montagu's topical rhymes in another; and the daily adventures of Mutt and Jeff, who are national heroes, in a third.

Although India is a land of walkers, there is no sound of footfalls. Most of the feet are bare and all are silent: dark strangers overtake one like ghosts.

Both in the cities and the country some one is always walking. There are carts and motorcars, and on the roads about Delhi a curious service of camel omnibuses, but most of the people walk, and they walk ever. In the bazaars they walk in their thousands; on the long, dusty roads, miles from anywhere, there are always a few, approaching or receding.

If I did not find Rose Aylmer's tomb, I found, in St. John's pleasant God's Acre, the comely mausoleum of Job Charnock, and this delighted me, because for how long has been ringing in my ears that line -

  "The tall pale widow is mine, Joe, the little brown 
      girl's for you."

San Francisco I shall chiefly recollect (apart from personal reasons) for the sparkling freshness and vigour of the air; for the extent and variety of Golden Gate Park, where I found a bust of Beethoven, but no sign of Bret Harte; for the vast reading-room in the library at Berkeley, a university which is so enchantingly situated, beneath such a sun, and in sight of such a bay, that I marvel that any work can be done there at all; and for the miles and miles of perfect tarmac roads fringed with burning eschscholtzias and gentle purple irises. That was in April.

I was fortunate in being in New York when the Metropolitan Museum celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its birth, for I was therefore able to enjoy not only its normal treasures but such others as had been borrowed for birthday presents, which means that I saw Mrs. H. E. Huntington's Vermeer, as well as the supreme Marquand example of that master; more than the regular wealth of Rembrandts, Manet's "Still Life," Gauguin's "Women by the River," El Greco's "View of Toledo," Franz Hals' big jovial Dutchman from Mr.

Syndicate content