The Nation, a political and literary weekly, and the religious or semi-religious weekly journals like the Outlook and the Independent, are superior to anything we have in the same genre; and the high-water mark even of the daily political press, though not very often attained, is perhaps almost on a level with the best in Europe. Richard Grant White found a richness in the English papers, due to the far-reaching interests of the British empire, which made all other journalism seem tame and narrow; but perhaps he would now-a-days hesitate to attach this stigma to the best journals of New York. And, in conclusion, we must not forget that American papers have often lent all their energies to the championship of noble causes, ranging from the enthusiastic anti-slavery agitation of the New York Tribune, under Horace Greeley, down to the crusade against body-snatching, successfully carried on by the Press of Philadelphia, and to the agitation in favour of the horses of the Fifth-avenue stages so pertinaciously fomented by the humorous journal Life.
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I cannot resist the temptation of printing part of a notice of “Baedeker’s Handbook to the United States,” which will show the almost incredible lengths to which the less cultured scribes of the American press carry their “spread-eagleism” even now. It is from a journal published in a city of nearly 100,000 inhabitants, the capital (though not the largest city) of one of the most important States in the Union. It is headed “A Blind Guide:”
It is simply incomprehensible that an author of so much literary merit in his preparation of guides to European countries should make the absolute failure that he has in the building of a guide to the United States intended for European travellers. As a guide, it is a monstrosity, fully as deceptive and misleading in its aims as it is ridiculous and unworthy in its criticisms of our people, our customs and habitations. It is not a guide in any sense, but a general tirade of abuse of Americans and their country; a compilation of mean, unfair statements; of presumed facts that are a tissue of transparent falsehoods; of comparisons with Europe and Europeans that are odius (sic). Baedeker sees very little to commend in America, but a great deal to criticise, and warns Europeans coming to this country that they must use discretion if they expect to escape the machinations of our people and the snares with which they will be surrounded. Any person who has ever travelled in Europe and America will concede that in the United States the tourist enjoys better advantages in every way than he can in Europe. Our hotels possess by far better accommodations, and none of that “flunkeyism” which causes Americans to smile as they witness it on arrival. Our railway service is superior in every respect to that of Europe. As regards civility to strangers