PREFACE TO THE
The portion of these pages entitled "Among the Americans," was written for
the Manchester "Co-operative News." Messrs. Belford, Clarke & Co. do
me the honor to reprint these papers here, together with the article
contributed to the "Nineteenth Century," entitled, "A Stranger in
America," and they have generously and voluntarily agreed to give me a
fair share of the profits that may accrue therefrom. As they are
pleased to think the papers will interest the American people, among whom
I spent happy months, I should feel indebted to them did no advantage come
to me thereby. I will not conceal that their honorable offer does
not decrease my satisfaction; and I have to acknowledge that the "New York
Tribune" and the "Index," of Boston, which has published passages from
these Chapters, have treated me in the same handsome manner.
John Bull, in his solid, bovine way, does make steady
progress after his kind. But his dietary, consisting of precedents,
is not very stimulating, and he takes a long time chewing the cud of
progress. Like the oxen of Cuyp, he stands meditating over the hedge
of his verdant little island, looking as though he was going to think: but
he is so long about it that the spectator never feels sure that he does
If anybody in England proposes to do a new thing, everybody
exclaims, like Lord Melbourne, "Can you not let if alone? If you do it
everybody will do it." But everybody does not do it. England
is a country where nothing leads to anything, and anything leads to
Three centuries ago the Reformation broke out, when it was
predicted that everybody would come to have ideas of his own. A few
new creeds flew into the air and alighted upon ledges in the old rocks of
opinion, where they have nestled in inadventurous content, and the groves
of thought have seldom since been enlivened by new brightness of plumage
or cheered by varieties of song. The republican equality and the
republican freedom of America, with their infinite incentives and
fertility of aspirations, were to me as a land of new color and new notes,
where the minds of the people, like keyless watches, wind themselves up
and always keep going. I should have been glad to live there for
years, so as to write about it; as it is, I content myself with relating a
few of the things which I noticed.
It is not intended that these papers, now collected into a
book form, should be regarded as a "book upon America." That would
be a very absurd pretension. These pages are the story of nearly
four months travel, and if I had been in America four years I should not
think myself competent to write a "book about America." Only an
ex-President could write that in a complete way. When I returned
home my friends naturally asked me what I thought of a country I had never
seen before. What I have written is what I told them. It is a
mere fireside story of what interested me.
G. J. H.
Essex St., Temple Bar.
London, April, 1881.