The Land of Contrasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Land of Contrasts.
the Americans are unequalled on the face of the globe.  In antiquity Europe excels; but in natural picturesque scenery the majestic grandeur of our West is so far ahead of anything to be seen in Europe, even in beautiful Switzerland, that the alien beholder cannot but express wonder and admiration.  Baedeker has made a mistake in his attempt to underrate America and Americans, its institutions and their customs.  True, our nation is in a crude state as compared with the old monarchies of Europe, but in enterprise, business qualifications, politeness, literary and scientific attainments, and in fact all the essential qualities that tend to constitute a people and a country, America is away in the advance of staid, old foggy (sic) Europe, and Baedeker will find much difficulty to eradicate that all-important fact.

I hasten to assure my English readers that this is no fair sample of transatlantic journalism, and that nine out of ten of my American acquaintances would deem it as unique a literary specimen as they would.  At the same time I may remind my American readers that the scutcheon of American journalism is not so bright as it might be while blots of this kind occur on it, and that it is the blatancy of Americans of this type that tends to give currency to the distorted opinion of Uncle Sam that prevails so widely in Europe.

Perhaps I shall not be misunderstood if I say that this review is by no means typical of the notice taken by American journals of “Baedeker’s Handbook to the United States.”  Whatever other defects were found in it, reviewers were almost unanimous in pronouncing it fair and free from prejudice.  Indeed, the reception of the Handbook by the American press was so much more friendly than I had any right to expect that it has made me feel some qualms in writing this chapter of criticism, while it must certainly relieve me of any possible charge of a wish to retaliate.


[17] Writing of theatrical managers, the Century (November, 1895) says:  “One of the greatest obstacles in the way of reform is the inability of these same men to discern the trend of intelligent, to say nothing of cultivated, public opinion, or to inform themselves of the existence of the widespread craving for higher and better entertainment.”

[18] The so-called “Yellow Press” has reached such an extreme of extravagance during the progress of the Spanish-American war that it may be hoped that it has at last dug its own grave.  On the other hand, many journals were perceptibly steadied by having so vital an issue to occupy their columns, and the tone of a large section of the press was distinctly creditable.

[19] It may be doubted, however, whether any American author of similar standing would devote a chapter to the loathsome details of the prize-ring, as Mr. George Meredith does in his novel “The Amazing Marriage.”

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The Land of Contrasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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