Beautifully as the women dress, they talk very little about clothes. I was much struck by their culture—by the evidences that they had read far more and developed a more fastidious taste than most young Englishwomen. Yet it is all mixed up with extraordinary naivete. The vivacity, the appearance, at least, of reality, the animation, the energy of American women delighted me. They are very sympathetic, too, in spite of a certain callousness which comes of regarding everything in life, even love, as “lots of fun.” I did not think that they, or the men either, had much natural sense of beauty. They admire beauty in a curious way through their intellect. Nearly every American girl has a cast of the winged Victory of the Louvre in her room. She makes it a point of her education to admire it.
There! I am beginning to generalize—the very thing I was resolute to avoid. How silly to generalize about a country which embraces such extremes of climate as the sharp winters of Boston and New York and the warm winds of Florida which blow through palms and orange groves!
SOME LIKES AND DISLIKES
It is only human to make comparisons between American and English institutions, although they are likely to turn out as odious as the proverb says! The first institution in America that distressed me was the steam heat. It is far more manageable now than it was both in hotels and theaters, because there are more individual heaters. But how I suffered from it at first I cannot describe! I used to feel dreadfully ill, and when we could not turn the heat off at the theater, the plays always went badly. My voice was affected too. At Toledo once, it nearly went altogether. Then the next night, after a good fight for it, we got the theater cool, and the difference that it made to the play was extraordinary. I was in my best form, feeling well and jolly!
No wonder the Americans drink ice-water and wear very thin clothes indoors. Their rooms are hotter than ours ever are, even in the height of the summer—when we have a summer! But no wonder, either, that Americans in England shiver at our cold, draughty rooms. They are brought up in hot-houses.
If I did not like steam heat, I loved the ice which is such a feature at American meals. Everything is served on ice, and the ice-water, however pernicious the European may consider it as a drink, looks charming and cool in the hot rooms.
I liked the traveling; but then we traveled in a very princely fashion. The Lyceum company and baggage occupied eight cars, and Henry’s private parlor car was lovely. The only thing that we found was better understood in England, so far as railway traveling is concerned, was privacy. You may have a private car in America, but all the conductors on the train, and there is one to each car, can walk through it. So can any official, baggage man or newsboy who has the mind!