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English and American., Issue 8041, 18 October 1889
English and American.
[« Pall Mall Gazette.'] We gladly took the occasion of Mr Julian Hawthorne's presence in London as correspondent to the American working men's expedition to solicit tho favor of an interview, and the following is our representative's report of some portions of the conversation : NEWSPAPER ENTERPRISE IN AMERICA. What, I asked Mr Hawthorne in the first place, was the origin of the expedition in question ? " The credit of the expedition belongs," he replied, "to Mr Edward Seripp3, the president of a league of six newspapers. When Congress failed to take any steps for having the American working men represented at the Paris Exhibition, Mr Scripps undertook the thing at his own expense. Forty representative working men and women were selected, and these have been despatched—with a complete organisation of correspondents, photographers, couriers, etc,—to fsee the Paris Exhibition and to 4 do' England on the way. A good deal of newspaper ' copy '—in the form of cable messages, letters, etc.—will be made out of the expedition ; but the expenses, as you will readily understand, are very heavy, and the thing will certainly not pay—at any rato only in the long run—so that the scheme is really a pieco of large-minded philanthropy." INTERNATIONAL AMBASSADORS—NEW STYLE. " And what," I asked, "was tho philanthropic idea in the expedition ?' Mr Hawthorne replied by citing the words used by the American Consul at Manchester, in welcoming tho party. " The consul pointed out," said Mr Hawthorne, " that this might be a new departure in international relation. Hitherto, States have been represent3d only by Ministers deputed by their several Governments. Now the people composing the States have begun to go on missions for themselves, and in some sort this party of American working men is a party of ambassadors from America to England. There really is some truth (continued Mr Hawthorne in reply to further questions) in this view of the case. The member composing the party represent not only all the important trades, but nearly all the States of the Union. Each one of them will thus in some sort become a centre of international amity." . " And is that the spirit," I asked, " in which you have been received by working men and manufacturers over here ?" " Yes," replied Mr Hawthorne, "it is entirely. Nothing could exceed the kindness with which we have been received, and the cordiality which has sprung up on both sides. I will take our visit to Sheffield as an instance. Mr Rodgers, the great cutler, had, for the moment, some natural misgivings about letting us into his secrets; but in the end he showed us everything, and at the conclusion of the visit begged each of the men to accept one of his best knives, each with the man's name on the blade:" SLOW-GOING ENGLAND. I pressed Mr Hawthorne to enumerate first, for our edification, some of their unfavorable judgments; but he was resolutely reluctant (is ho not the correspondent of a Special Mission of International Comity?) However, he instanced two things, because, as he courteously put it, tho alleged faults were really virtues. " At the hotels our party have been unfavorably struck sometimes with the slowness of your arrangej
ments. An American expects to press a button and to find all he wants almost before his finger is off the button. It is not quite so in your provincial hotels. But I have explained to my friends that you are an old country, and that you have no reason to be for ever in a hurry. Then, again, in visiting the model dwellings in Saltaire, some of our men were not very pleasantly impressed. Excellent dwellings they seemed to be ; but with so very much rule and uniformity, and perhaps just a littlo dullness. _ ' You would not catch an American working man living there long,' was the comment. But then a certain eager restlessness," continued Mr Hawthorne, " is the note of us Americans. Everyone is always moving on and up, or hoping so to do, with the Presidency in his basket, so to say." A ROSE-COLORED VIEW OF WORKING ENGLAND. Snme further conversation on these lines brought Mr Hawthorne to the other aide of the picture. "Our party have been immensely impressed," he said, " with the solidity and substance of England; it has been quite a revelation to them. The skill of the English working man, too, acquired in each trade by hereditary transmission from Generation to generation, has struck them very much. We were particularly interested at Sheffield to notice how little of the excellence of English cutlery waß due to any secret process, and how much to manual skill." In reply to further questions, Mr Hawthorne stated that the American working man had found the dwellings of our working men very comfortable, and had also been much struck by the sobriety of the people. At Sheffield they had gone to see a popular fair, and during several hours had not noticed a single case of drunkeness; this seemed to them very remarkable. Upon political questions, Mr Hawthorne did not know that any impressions had been formulated ; but indirectly he thought this visit would bo favorable to the spread of Freetrade ideas. On the whole the visit to England had been a great success. The only difficulty was that their time was so limited, and that all the party were so reluctant to nioVe on. Mr Hawthorne expected there would be terrible weeping and gnashing of teeth when they had finally to leave London. For the present the party has gone to Paris, and remarking on the growing annexation of Paris by the Americans, I asked Mr Hawthorne if there were any_ sign of Gallomania superseding Anglo-mania among the American exquisites. Except in art, Mr Hawthorne thought not. "Itis a great misfortune," he said, "the way in which our young artists go to Paris and imitate the French school—thereby losing all national excellence, and only succeeding in painting other people's pictures in an inferior way ; when all the while, if they want novel effects, there is the unrivalled American atmosphere awaiting interpretation by their skill. But in other directions Ido not think there is much French influence in America. Anglomania is still the rage, and the young men still turn up their trousers in America because it is raining in England. The fact is," said Mr Hawthorne in the course of further conversation, "that you in England have carried the art of luxurious living to absolute perfection. The life of the rich man in London—in its smoothness, its uniformity, its polish —is almost a realisation of spiritual existence, in which every want is there as soon as you realise it. We have wealth in America, but nothing like your luxurious use of wealth." One distinguishing element in English high life, Mr Hawthorne went on to remark, was the way in which it moved in a plane of its own, without any necessary contact with painful things outside. In which connection tho conversation turned to another topic, with which this report must conclude—the topic of English and American journalism. In journalism I said we were all Americomaniacs. " Yes," said Mr Hawthorne, " I notice a great Americanisation of late years in English journalism, and on the whole I think you have borrowed our best things." "Then there are bad things? But _ you would not go so far, perhaps, as a distinguished American, who, on being asked the otherdaytonamethemostdisquietingfeature in American life, fixed without a moment's hesitation on the vulgarity and triviality of the American Press?" Mr Hawthorne replied in an apologue. _ "There are bad features in our journalism," he said, "of course; but it is this way: Imagine a respectable merchant going to church, holding the plate, and conforming in every way to the dictates of a conventional society. Suddenly, ono fine day, when he has made his money, he breaks loose—bored beyond endurance by the unreal conventionality of his life. He runs off, we will say, with his neighbor's wife—resolved to do and suffer anything in preference to the old life. Now that is the kind of national danger involved in a decorous, reticent, and respectable Press. English society is not a model and moral society, but your journals pretend that it is. Our journals, on the other hand, tell us everything and take us everywhere. Thereby they save us, at any rate, from self-deception and conventionality."
English and American., Issue 8041, 18 October 1889
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