The Land of Contrasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Land of Contrasts.
the conversation as if it must be perfectly apparent to me, as to any intelligent person, that the only possible reason for working and voting for a political party must be personal interest.  I confess this seemed to me a very significant straw.  On the other hand the conclusions usually drawn by stay-at-home English people on these admissions is ludicrously in excess of what is warranted by the facts.  “To imagine for a moment that 60,000,000 of people—­better educated than any other nation in the world—­are openly tolerating universal corruption in all Federal, State, and municipal government is simply assuming that these 60,000,000 are either criminals or fools.”  Now, “you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”  A more competent judge[12] than the present writer estimates the morals of the American political “wire-puller” as about on a level with those of our company directors.  And before my English readers make their final decision on the American political system let them study Chapter XLVI. of that very fascinating novel, “The Honorable Peter Stirling,” by Paul Leicester Ford.  It may give them some new light on the subject of “a government of the average,” and show them what is meant by the saying, “The boss who does the most things that the people want can do the most things that the people don’t want.”

We must remember, too, that nothing is hidden from general knowledge in America:  every job comes sooner or later into the merciless glare of publicity.  And if our political sins are not the same as theirs, they are perhaps equally heinous.  Was not the British landlord who voted against the repeal of the corn laws, so that land might continue to bring in a high rent at the expense of the poor man, really acting from just as corrupt a motive of self-interest as the American legislator who accepts a bribe?  It does not do to be too superior on this question.

We may end this chapter by a typical instance of the way in which British opinion of America is apt to be formed that comes under my notice at the very moment I write these lines.  The Daily Chronicle of March 24, 1896, published a leading article on “Family Life in America,” in which it quotes with approval Mme. Blanc’s assertion that “the single woman in the United States is infinitely superior to her European sister.”  In the same issue of the paper is a letter from Mrs. Fawcett relating to a recent very deplorable occurrence in Washington, where the daughter of a well-known resident shot a coloured boy who was robbing her father’s orchard.  In the Chronicle of March 25th appears a triumphant British letter from “Old-Fashioned,” asking satirically whether the habit of using loaded revolvers is a proof of the “infinite superiority” of the American girl.  Now this estimable gentleman is making the mistake that nine out of ten of his countrymen

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The Land of Contrasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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