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daubs which cover so large a space on the walls
of the Royal Academy to the glories of the Pitti or
the Vatican ? Does the cultured American prefer
the thin milk and water of Mr. W. D. Howells
to the strong wine of Thackeray or George Eliot ;
or ignore the winning grace of Ellen Terry for
the pastoral friskings of Minnie Palmer ? I think
not: and Englishmen are ready enough to allow
that in some parts of Italy, in Greece, and on
the northern shores of Asia Minor the average of
female beauty is far higher than in his native
land. National vanity, where inordinately de-
veloped, may take the form of asserting that
black is white, as in France, where the average
of good looks, among both men and women, is
perhaps lower than elsewhere in Europe. If a
pretty woman be seen in the streets of Paris she
is almost certainly English or American : yet if
a foreigner were to form an estimate of French
beauty from the rapturous descriptions of con-
temporary French novels, or from the sketches
of La Vie Parisienne, he must conclude that
the Frenchwoman was the purest and loveliest
type in the world, in face and figure. The



52 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

fiction in this case disguises itself in no semblance
of the truth.

I have freely admitted the American type of
beauty to be extremely delicate and refined, and,
although I maintain my position that there are
more pretty women to be met in London in a day
than in the States in a month, yet the comparison
thus made is hardly fair to America, seeing that
London naturally absorbs all that is best and
brightest in English men or women ; and there are
many parts of England where beauty, among the
lower classes, is as rare as in America. Moreover,
the ranks of London beauty are swelled each
season by a large and distinguished American
contingent.

Many of my critics have disputed the statement
that American women are delicate and physically
undeveloped ; but denial does not affect those
notorious facts which the physicians of the States
themselves endorse. But on this subject I would
neither wish nor presume to speak, though, in justi-
fication of my former statement, I will venture to
quote the words of a few American authorities
whose unprejudiced opinion would seem convinc-
ing. To them I will only add the expression of a
hope, which all friends of America will share, that
a more healthy and robust physical training of



LIBERTY. 53

children and a growing love of exercise and field
sports, may restore the race to the vigour of its
original stock, and avert the now threatened danger
of physical decadence.

Dr. S. Weir Mitchell writes :

" To-day the American woman is, to speak plainly, physi-
cally unfit for her duties as woman, and is, perhaps, of all
civilized females the least qualified to undertake those weightier
tasks which tax so heavily the nervous system of man. She
is not fairly up to what nature asks from her as wife and
mother. If the mothers of a people are sickly and weak,
the sad inheritance falls upon their offspring, and this is why
I must deal first, however briefly, with the health of our girls,
because it is here, as the doctor well knows, that the trouble
begins. Ask any physician of your acquaintance to sum up
thoughtfully the young girls he knows, and to tell you how
many in each score are fit to be healthy wives and mothers,
or, in fact, to be wives and mothers at all. I have been asked
this question myself very often, and I have heard it asked of
others. The answer I am not going to give, because I should
not be believed a disagreeable position in which I shall not
deliberately place myself. Perhaps I ought to add that the
replies I have heard given by others were appalling."

Later he continues :

" Now I ask you to note carefully the expression and figures
of the young girls whom you may chance to meet in your
walks, or whom you may observe at a concert or in a ball-
room. You will see many very charming faces, the like of
which the world cannot match figures somewhat too spare of
flesh, and, especially south of Rhode Island, a marvellous little-
ness of hand and foot. But look further, and especially among
New England young girls : you will be struck with a certain



54 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

hardness of line in form and feature, which should not be seen
between thirteen and eighteen at least. And if you have an
eye which rejoices in the tints of health, you will miss them
on a multitude of the cheeks which we are now so daringly
criticising. I do not want to do more than is needed of this
ungracious talk ; suffice it to say that multitudes of our young
girls are merely pretty to look at, or not that ; that their
destiny is the shawl and the sofa, neuralgia, weak backs, and
the varied forms of hysteria, that domestic demon which has
produced untold discomfort in many a household, and, I am
almost ready to say, as much unhappiness as the husband's
dram."

Dr. Allen, of Rhode Island, speaking of the
strictly native New Englanders, says :

" The women have deteriorated physically in a surprising
degree. A majority of them have a predominance of nerve
tissue, with weak muscles and digestive organs."

The New York Sun, in commenting on this
statement of Dr. Allen, says further of the New
Englanders who have remained at home :

" Their families are small. They are not physically as
vigorous as their fathers. The women are not symmetrically
developed, and their nervous organisation is apt to be
morbid. "

The statements of the Rev. S. W. Dike :

" The diminishing size of the New England family of so-
called native stock is well known. The reported number of
children of school age in Vermont and New Hampshire is
scarcely three-fourth? as large as it was thirty years ago."



LIBERTY. 55

The following is the opinion of Mr. William
Blaikie :

"The results of this utter neglect of any sound system of physi-
cal education stand out in almost every city home in America.
Scarcely one girl in three ventures to wear a jersey, mainly
because she knows too well that this tell-tale jacket only be-
comes a good figure. Yet the difference in girth between the
developed arm which graces a jersey and the undeveloped
one which does not, in a girl of the same height and age, is
seldom more than two inches, and often even than one, while
the well-set chest outgirths the indifferent one by seldom over
three inches. Among girls, running is a lost art. Yet it is
doubtful if an exercise was ever devised which does more to
beget grace and ease of movement. There are probably not
ten girls in any class of fifty in one of our public schools who
could run a mile, even if they got a dollar a foot for it. Or
twenty boys out of any fifty either."

Later, in his clever article on " Our Children's
Bodies," the same writer compares the physically
robust Canadians with his delicate country-
women :

" In what contrast with this make-believe walking and the
wofully defective physical culture and condition of many of
our city girls is the story told in the following despatch from
the Montreal Carnival last winter :

" ' Next came skating races, which were only second, in
drawing spectators, to the trotting. As is universally known,
Montrealers are like ducks, who take to the water when born.
They assume skating frolics when escaping from the cradle.
It is literally true that they are skating almost before they are
able to walk. The fascination in the exercise, which seems
to be hereditary, increases as they grow up, and when they
have arrived at manhood or womanhood -for the girls are even



56 THE GREAT REPUBLIC

more expert than the men they can rival the world for grace
and agility as runners. Proof of this last assertion was seen
by thousands on the river this afternoon. The contests were
in some cases more tightly fought out than by the trotting
equines.'

" What a ring and tingle and glow of ruddy health there
is about all this ! We wonder if those girls know what a
headache is, or a side-ache ? Or if ' the shawl, the sofa, and

neuralgia ' are likely soon to be their destiny ?

How would, not the weakest and most inert, nor yet the fleetest
and most enduring girl, but she who fairly represents the
average girl in one of our school classes, have fared in that
inspiring struggle that bright winter afternoon on the gleaming
broad St. Lawrence ? Would she have been in it at all, much
less anywhere near the front rank, at the end of half a mile,
or even of a quarter ? Ask her brother, and he will tell you
plainly whatever different and more flattering version some
other girl's brother may make of it."

When we read of these performances of the
Canadian girls, and, further, of the lady who has
been accepted in the States as the representative of
English beauty, astonishing the Americans by a
thirty-mile walk without fatigue, we can under-
stand the belief held by Englishmen that delicacy
directly detracts from beauty, which is inseparable
from good health.

In reply to the statement that the English stan-
dard of beauty is incorrect, it may be suggested
that it is in strict accord with the most ancient
examples and the generally accepted canons of
art, and that a study of classical models will show



LIBERTY. 57

that Greece and Rome, in their worthiest days,
acknowledged no beauty which did not include full
physical development. The lithe and willowy
figure, the praises of which are sounded by
American writers, and the grace of which has
an undoubted charm, too often represents mere
physical degeneracy.

Nothing is more pleasant in America, or places
the civilisation of the country in a brighter or more
honourable light, than the universal respect publicly
paid to women by men of all degrees. That there
is in this something of exaggeration, and that some
women abuse their exceptional privileges, demand-
ing discourteously what men are ready voluntarily
to offer, does not materially affect the question.
An American gentleman who resigns his seat to a
lady in a steamboat or tram-car, or who wearies
himself in looking after her luggage and wrestling
on her account with railway porters, does not ask
even the thanks which politeness should be eager
to proffer. His action has been disinterested,
instinctive, and to satisfy his own sense of pro-
priety. The difference, in this respect, between the
French and American Republics is curious indeed.
A Frenchman will ruthlessly turn a lady into the
mud of the street rather than step off the pave-
ment himself; or will bribe the railway guard to



58 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

induce delicate women to leave their pre-engaged
carriage in order that he may not sit with his back
to the engine. He will hardly assist a woman in
distress unless she be attractive. The French,
below the thinnest veneer, are the most impolite of
civilised races. Americans, on the other hand,
though without superficial polish, are warm-hearted
and chivalrous in the highest degree. The position
in which they have placed their women is the best
guarantee that the nation will outgrow the blemishes
which now disfigure it, and will, in the future, attain
a higher civilisation than has been enjoyed by any
people who have regarded their intellectual and
political life as the undivided dominion of man.

But the emancipation of women is not without
its dangers and inconveniences. Between woman
and man there can be no true equality, for there are
no common terms to express what is essentially
different ; and, if the woman allow her social and
domestic position to be undermined, her victories
in other fields will avail her little. And of this
there are some ominous signs in America. Within
the last thirty years, divorces in the States have
doubled proportionally to population and the
number of marriages. Being granted for trifling
reasons, such as incompatibility of temper, and
the law governing them being different in the



LIBERTY. 59

several States ; while the confusion is increased by
a vast immigration of strange nationalities,
wandering hither and thither in search of a
favourable settlement, it can be no cause for
surprise if the fixity of marriage be shaken and the
conception of the family as the social unit becomes
weakened in favour of the individual. But this
result, so far as social evolution is concerned, is
strictly retrogressive. The feeling against Mor-
monism is, in the States, exceedingly strong ; and
polygamy is, beyond dispute, a condition un-
favourable and indeed fatal to a high civilisation,
although the community of Salt Lake City must
be allowed to be prosperous and well ordered. But
a too facile divorce law differs from polygamy in
little but name, and some American writer has said
that the man who has three or four wives divorced,
one after another, only drives his team tandem,
while the Mormon elder has it four in hand. The
proportion of divorces to marriages is in some
States startling enough. In San Francisco city
there was a divorce to every five marriages in
1 88 1 : in Maine, there were 507 divorces in 1880,
or nearly one to nine marriages. The frequency of
the suits results in the utmost carelessness of the
courts ; in one State the average duration of such
cases is fifteen minutes. At Chicago, according to



60 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

Mr. Henry Ward Beecher, the boys on the train call
" Chicago, thirty minutes for divorce," and though
I cannot say that I have myself heard them, the
incident is not more surprising than was the touting
for clients of rival parsons of the Fleet, in the
London of the last century. Collusion becomes a
matter of course ; the tie which can be so easily
snapped is inconsiderately formed ; while the
frequent difference in the law renders it difficult to
know whether the marriage or divorce of one State
is valid in another, and induces many foreign
immigrants to abandon their families and marry
elsewhere. The evil of the present state of things
is so great and acknowledged that ere long
Congress will be compelled to intervene and pass a
uniform law for the whole United States. England
may take a lesson from America in this particular,
that, so far as divorce is concerned, the sexes are
equal before the law. Here, where the subjection
of women has so long formed a discreditable chapter
in the statute book, from which a higher liberalism
and a more chivalrous generosity have not yet
completely banished it, the relief which men can
demand is refused to the weaker sex which needs
it the most. Equal justice will not, it may be
hoped, be much longer denied ; while divorce will
be granted for cruelty, habitual intemperance,



LIBERTY. 61

or on conviction of any heinous or disgraceful
crime.

The idea which underlies the institution of
marriage has materially differed in England and
America, whose first chivalrous settlers abandoned
all they held most dear in order to avoid the
heavy burthen which sacerdotalism, ever allied
with tyranny, had placed upon them. They re-
jected marriage as a sacrament, and regarded it
as a civil contract, the moral obligation and per-
manency of which would have till now remained
undisputed had not the flood of immigration and
the rapid development of the country formed a
solution so strong as to partially dissolve social
institutions, as it has those political methods which
were sufficient for the original community. In
England, on the contrary, the idea of marriage
as a sacrament has survived its exclusion, as such,
from the Anglican ritual ; and its acceptance as
a civic contract alone, secure, like other solemn
engagements of a formal character, under an
impartially administered law, is only gradually
taking the place of the former sentiment. The
conservatism of the country is ever too strong for
the speedy triumph of any liberal principle ; and
sacerdotalism, as distinct from religion, is still an
imposing force. It must not be imagined that



2 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

the priestly caste, of any denomination, is more
liberal or charitable in America than elsewhere.
The trail of the serpent is over them all. Cotton
Mather and his Puritan fathers preached as savage
a gospel as the Spanish Inquisition, and his de-
scendants are worthy of him. Last October a
Congregational minister named Newman was
preaching in New York on " Christianity tri-
umphant in the elevation of Woman." The
representative of Independence and Dissent fur-
nished and produced all those old weapons of
sophistry which English ecclesiasticism is being
forced to abandon. He pronounced for the sacra-
mental character of marriage, and ridiculed the
civil ceremony. Here he was assisted by the fact
that, besides the denominational ministers, the
New York aldermen were empowered to perform
it. "Imagine," he said, "a New York alderman
performing such a ceremony. A New York alder-
man with a shillelah on his shoulder, brogues on
his feet, and potatoes in his pocket. A walking
grog shop, reeking of gin. Surely such a marriage
performed by such a one is scarcely worth
seventy-five cents." The roars of laughter which
greeted this description sounded oddly in a
religious building. The apostle of hatred then
proceeded to denounce the Mormons, who, he



LIBERTY. 63

said, defied the laws of the United States, and
urged that the heresy which had grown up in
the West should be forcibly trampled out. It
would have been more to the purpose had he
denounced the practical polygamy and polyandry
which result from the present condition of the
marriage law.

It cannot be denied that the position of women
in the United States is far more favourable and
just than in England, where their most elementary
rights have been only lately conceded in the
Married Woman's Property Bill. Their equitable
claim to such work as they may choose and can
efficiently perform is not disputed, and the un-
manly riots in Kidderminster to prevent the
employment of women in the curtain and carpet
manufactories would hardly be possible in
America. For them an elaborate system of
higher education, technical and industrial, has
been framed ; and, three years ago, there were
no less than 227 high-class institutions, besides
colleges and universities, in which women could
study as completely as men, chemistry, geology,
botany, physics, mathematics and all such applied
sciences as might be useful to them in private or
professional life. Most of these institutions are



64 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

the growth of the List twelve years ; and, as
England has made a good start in this most
honourable contest it may fairly be hoped that
she will not permit America to leave her behind.

Whether the emancipation of women has not
proceeded too far in the case of unmarried girls
is a question which those who are acquainted with
American society can best decide. I confess a
preference for the English system, which, midway
between the complete and jealous seclusion of
France and the independence of America, allows
the young girl as much liberty as experience has
shown can be safely intrusted to her. American
novelists have described their young country-
woman as formed of different clay to the rest
of the world, and so strong, self-reliant, and
superior to the infirmities and weakness of
humanity as to be able to defy the dangers
which may threaten her from without or from
her own heart. But the American girl is still
one of Eve's family, and as susceptible as any
of her European sisters. The process known in
England as "keeping company," and confined to
the humbler ranks of life, is an institution of
American society ; and an unmarried girl can
receive her admirers without reference to her



LIBERTY. 65

parents ; and drive or go to the opera or theatre
with the special object of her attention. Marriage
is the original object of this as of all customs,
civilised or savage, which bring the youth of both
sexes together ; but pleasure rather than marriage
is the modern development of the idea. A young
debutante in New York or Boston, in her first
season, when her attractions are the brightest and
her chances of marriage are naturally the best,
is adopted by one of the professional male flirts,
who may be a gentleman of good position and
whose attentions flatter the vanity of the in-
experienced girl. He is her constant attendant at
balls and picnics, in public and private. He may
not have the remotest intention of marrying, yet
drives out of the field the aspirants who would
propose. These intimate relations, which would
not be tolerated for a day in England unless the
parties were engaged, may continue the whole
season, or for two ; or may be repeated with
another or half-a-dozen newer admirers. If this
system be liked by American men, there is no
reason that any one else should object to it. But
that it must tend to rub the bloom off the peach,
and lessen the delicacy and freshness of a girl's
sentiments is obvious to all who know anything

F



66



THE GREAT REPUBLIC.



of the world or the human heart. Men, unambitious
in their social aspirations, would prefer a wife from
a New England farm-house to a New York beauty
who had been ostentatiously protected through a
whole season by a Fifth Avenue exquisite.



CHAPTER V.

EQUALITY.

THE doctrine of equality, essentially illogical
though it may be, has, in America, been carried
into practical effect so far as the conditions of
social and political life will allow ; and in no other
country can its results be more clearly seen or
more accurately tested. There can be no study
more interesting than the strange and wide di-
vergence in the application of the doctrine in the
two great Republics of to-day, France and America.
In the former we are accustomed to the emblazon-
ment on every public building of the republican
profession of faith, Liberte, Egalite, Fraterniti ; but
what is the interpretation of the legend ? Liberty,
as reflected in contemporary French literature, is
the apotheosis of animalism, of which Zola's latest
novel is the most loathsome witness ; equality
signifies the internecine warfare of class against
class ; while fraternity is hardly more than a

F 2



68 THE GREAT REPUBLIC.

deeper contempt and a keener hatred of every-
thing not French. The Republic has given to
France little beyond a perpetual change of street
nomenclature, and a more greedy class of officials ;
it has not deeply influenced the life of the people,
and may be thrown aside to-morrow like a coat
which has outlived the fashion. A theatrical air,
suggestive of the footlights, attends it, and thus
it has failed to attract the sympathy of America,
whose sturdy and ingrained Republicanism de-
spises the democratic tinsel and limelight. There
was a time when Paris was the veritable paradise,
not of women alone, but of the whole American
race ; when the pinchbeck glories of a brand
new court, whose welcome of parvenus was
naturally sympathetic, fluttered the gentle breasts
of the Yankee matrons and maidens, whose ideas
of society had been formed in the quiet of New
England villages, or amid the bustle of Saratoga
caravansaries. But with the fall of the Empire
the love of Americans for Paris grew cold, and it
is amusing to hear them describe the ruin which
republican institutions have wrought in their
latest paradise, after the same fashion as Satan is
held to have made the first uninhabitable. They no
longer see Paris clothed in the old imperial
glamour, but as it really is a commonplace, stucco



EQUALITY. 6 9

wilderness, as dull and sordid as their own New
York ; where the theatres are crowded dens sacred
to asphyxia, and the opera house a stupendous
imposture, where gilding usurps the place of art :
a city where the only sentiment ennobling the
population is expressed in the daily effort to make
as much out of the foreigner as possible, with the
least expenditure of money or politeness.

Equality is understood in America in a very
different sense. Not there, as in France, the ex-
pression of a passing caprice, it is the monomania
of an entire nation. An ideal impossible of
attainment, contradicted in daily practice by the
exclusive society of New England and the South,
as by the millionaires whose monopolies are its
very negation, it yet influences the life of the i
people in every particular, much as the belief that
he could fly governed every movement of a lunatic
I once saw in an asylum. The struggle after
equality has determined most of the social insti-
tutions of the States : domestic service, houses,
hotels, cuisine, travelling and education. It has
dominated their politics and has perhaps determined


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