America in perspective: the United States through foreign eyes 5m60qs31d

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America in perspective: the United States through foreign eyes
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Table of contents :
Frontmatter
Introduction (HENRY STEELE COMMAGER)
1. What is an American? (MICHEL-GUILLAUME JEAN DE CRÈVECOEUR, page 25)
2. Why the Americans Are a Happy People (JACQUES PIERRE BRISSOT DE WARVILLE, page 39)
3. The Material Well-Being of the Americans (WILLIAM COBBETT, page 42)
4. "Ten Years in America Are Like a Century Elsewhere" (FRANCIS LIEBER, page 50)
5. The Pervasive Influence of Democracy (ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, page 54)
6. Eccentricity and Originality in the American Character (HARRIET MARTINEAU, page 82)
7. The American Idiom and American Prudery (FREDERICK MARRYAT, page 87)
8. Religion and Morality Preside Over Their Councils (FRANCIS J. GRUND, page 91)
9. It Would Be Well If They Loved the Real Less and the Ideal More (CHARLES DICKENS, page 100)
10. Every American Is an Apostle of the Democratic Creed (ALEXANDER MACKAY, page 108)
11. Social Life and Customs of the Frontier (OLE MUNCH RAEDER, page 120)
12. American Notions of Aristocracy (THOMAS COLLEY GRATTAN, page 125)
13. The British and American Characters Compared (FRANCIS AND THERESE PULSZKY, page 136)
14. Over Diversity There Broods a Higher Unity (PHILIP SCHAFF, page 142)
15. The Practical Genius of the American (ADAM G. DE GUROWSKI, page 148)
16. Your Constitution Is All Sail and No Anchor (THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, page 159)
17.God Made America for the Poor (EDWARD DICEY, page 165)
18. An English Workingman Takes a Dim View of American Women (JAMES D. BURN, page 171)
19. America Is Not Interesting (MATTHEW ARNOLD, page 178)
20. The Faults and Strength of American Democracy (JAMES BRYCE, page 187)
21. High Society at Newport (PAUL BOURGET, page 215)
22. The American Is an Electric Anglo-Saxon (GEORGE WARRINGTON STEEVENS, page 226)
23. A Philosopher Explains the American Passion for Money (HUGO MUNSTERBERG, page 232)
24. Is America a Young or a Dying Nation? (GILBERT KEITH CHESTERTON, page 239)
25. America Combines the Best Traits of Old-World Nations (COUNT VAY DE VAYA, page 243)
26. The American at Home and in His Club (GEORGE BIRMINGHAM, page 247)
27. The Sentimentality, Kindness and Innocence of the Americans (WALTER LIONEL GEORGE, page 252)
28. Americans Are Boys (SALVADOR DE MADARIAGA, page 261)
29. The Mechanization and Standardization of American Life (RICHARD MÜLLER-FREIENFELS, page 272)
30. Love in America (RAOUL DE ROUSSY DE SALES, page 280)
31. A Chinese View of the American Character (NO YONG-PARK (PAO), page 291)
32. Capitalism Nurtures America in Spiritual Lassitude (ILYA ILF AND EUGENE PETROV, page 297)
33. The Homeliness and Friendliness of the Americans (JOHN BUCHAN, page 305)
34. A Cambridge Professor Celebrates the American Public School (DENIS W. BROGAN, page 310)
35. The American Believes in Tomorrow (VICTOR VINDE, page 321)
Bibliography (page 334)

Citation preview

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AS OTHERS SEE US “What kind of people are we?” Henry Steele Commager

asks, as Crévecoeur asked, “What then is the American?” a century and a half ago. To find an answer, Commager has drawn on the observations of thirty-five acute and perceptive foreigners, and he has here assembled their interpretations with illuminating commentary of his own.

Out of the blending of heterogeneous inheritance, varying environment, and growing historical experience, a distinctive American character has indeed been shaped. Though individual Americans themselves often have had difficulty in recognizing it, seen through the perspective of foreign eyes, the profile of this American character comes into focus, and there is an astonishing continuity down the years.

The countries the observers represent include England, France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and the comments range from those of Crévecoeur, de Tocqueville, James Bryce, and (the somewhat jaundiced eye of) Matthew Arnold, through the witty analysis of American attitudes toward love of Raoul de Roussy de Sales, to the sober view of D. W. Brogan. Said Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in The New York Times: “The American perspective has always been one of limitless vistas—a brave experiment,

filled with dash, energy and restlessness. . . . Mr. Commager’s selections are catholic and judicious... . [his] notes on the authors are compact and useful. ... America in Perspective furnishes a thoughtful commentary on our national characteristics.”

MENTOR Books of Related Interest Democracy in America (abridged) by Alexis de Tocqueville

The classic critique of freedom and democracy in 19th century America by aand brilliant French scientist. Specially edited abridged forjPolitical the mod-

ern reader by Richard D. Heffner.

(##MT362—75¢)

The Living U. S. Constitution edited by Saul K. Padover

The complete text of one of the world’s greatest documents, the basis of American democracy; the

story of its making and the men who framed it,

important Supreme Court decisions affecting its interpretation, and a comprehensive index. (#MP412—60¢)

The Democratic Way of Life by T. V. Smith and

E. C. Lindeman A challenging book which examines the democratic ideal and how it works in practical application.

(MP3 56—60¢)

American Diplomacy: 1900-1950 by George F. Kennan

A trenchant appraisal of U.S. foreign relations b

a distinguished diplomat. (42 MP360—60¢) To Our READERS:

If your dealer does not have the SIGNET and MENTOR books you want, you may order them by mail, enclosing the like list price Pluscatalog, 5¢ a copy to cover mailin f- Ifpostyou would our free please request it by card. The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., P.O. Box 2310, Grand Central Station, New York 17, New York.

AMERICA

IN PERSPECTIVE The United States Through Foreign Eyes

Edited with an Introduction and Notes by

HENRY STEELE COMMAGER

>

A MENTOR BOOK Published by The New American Library

COPYRIGHT, 1947, By RANDOM House, INC.

All Rights Reserved Under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. First PRINTING, OCTOBER, 1948 NINTH PRINTING (UNABRIDGED), JUNE, 1962 MENTOR TRADEMARE BEG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIBNG REGISTHRED TRADEMARK—-—-MAROA REGISTRADA

HBEOHO EN CHICAGO, U.S.A.

MENTOR BOOKS are published by The New American Library of World Literature, Inc. 501 Madison Avenue, New York 22, New York ' PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Acknowledgment is here made for our indebtedness to the following publishers, authors and agents for their courtesy in granting permission to reprint sections of books issued and copyrighted by them:

The Norwegian-American Historical Society for “Social Life and Customs of the Frontier” from America in the Forties. The Letters of Ole Munch Raeder, translated and edited by Gunnar J. Malmin. Dopp, MEAD & COMPANY, INc., for “The American Is an Electric Anglo-Saxon” from Land of the Dollar by George Warrington Steevens. JOHN LANE THE BopLEY Heap LIMITED for “Is America a

Young or a Dying Nation?” from Heretics by G. K. Chesterton. E. P. DuTTON & Co., INc., and JoHN Murray for “America

Combines the Best Traits of Old-World Nations” from The Inner Life of the United States by Count Vay de Vaya. A. P. Watt & SON and JAMES NISBET & Co., Ltp., for “The American at Home and in His Club” from From Connaught to Chicago by George Birmingham. A. P. WATT & Son for “The Homeliness and the Friendliness of Americans” from

Pilgrim’s Way by John Buchan, by permission of Lady

Tweedsmuir. For “The American Believes in Tomorrow”

from America at War by Victor Vinde. Mrs. HuGco MUNSTERBERG for “A Philosopher Explains the American Passion for Money” from The Americans by Hugo Munsterberg. HARPER & BROTHERS for “The Sentimentality, Kindness and V

vi Acknowledgements Innocence of the Americans” from Hail Columbia by W. L. George. Copyright, 1921, by Harper & Brothers. OXFORD UNIVERSITY Press for “Americans Are Boys” from I Americans by Salvador de Madariaga.

No Yonc-Park for “A Chinese View of the American Character” from An Oriental View of American Civilization by No Yong-Park. Mrs. RAOUL DE Roussy DE SaLzs for “Love in America” by Raoul de Roussy de Sales. GEORGE ALLEN AND UNWIN LtTp., for “The Mechanization

and Standardization of American Life” from Mysteries of

the Soul by Richard Miiller-Freienfels. ALFRED A. KNoprF, INc., for “A Cambridge Professor Cele-

brates the American Public School” from The American Character by Denis W. Brogan. Copyright, 1944, by Denis

W. Brogan.

RINEHART & Company, INc., for “Capitalism Nurtures America in Spiritual Lassitude” from Little Golden America by Ilya If and Eugene Petrov. Copyright, 1937, by Rinehart & Company, Inc.

CONTENTS Introduction by HENRY STEELE COMMAGER

1. What is an American? 25 BY MICHEL-GUILLAUME JEAN DE CREVECOEUR

2. Why the Americans Are a Happy People 39 BY JACQUES PIERRE BRISSOT DE WARVILLE

3, The Material Well-Being of the Americans 42 BY WILLIAM COBBETT

Elsewhere” 50

4, “Ten Years in America Are Like a Century BY FRANCIS LIEBER

5. The Pervasive Influence of Democracy 54 BY ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE

Character 82

6. Eccentricity and Originality in the American BY HARRIET MARTINEAU

7. The American Idiom and American Prudery 87 BY FREDERICK MARRYAT

Councils 91

8. Religion and Morality Preside Over Their BY FRANCIS J. GRUND

9. It Would Be Well If They Loved the Real

Less and the Ideal More 100

BY CHARLES DICKENS

Vill Contents 10, Every American Is an Apostle of the

Democratic Creed 108

BY ALEXANDER MACKAY

11. Social Life and Customs of the Frontier 120 BY OLE MUNCH RAEDER

12, American Notions of Aristocracy 125 BY THOMAS COLLEY GRATTAN

Compared 136

13. The British and American Characters

BY FRANCIS AND THERESE PULSZKY

14. Over Diversity There Broods a Higher Unity 142 BY PHILIP SCHAFF

15. The Practical Genius of the American 148 BY ADAM G. DE GUROWSKI

16. Your Constitution Is All Sail and No Anchor 159 BY THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY

17. God Made America for the Poor 165 BY EDWARD DICEY

18. An English Workingman Takes a Dim View

of American Women 171

BY JAMES D. BURN

19. America Is Not Interesting 178 BY MATTHEW ARNOLD

Democracy 187

20. The Faults and Strength of American BY JAMES BRYCE

21. High Society at Newport 215 BY PAUL BOURGET

Contents ix 22. The American Is an Electric Anglo-Saxon 226 BY GEORGE WARRINGTON STEEVENS

for Money 232

23.