First, then. England has a thousand years of greatness to her credit. Who would not be proud of that? Arrogance is the seamy side of pride. That is what has rubbed us Americans the wrong way. We are recent. Our thousand years of greatness are to come. Such is our passionate belief. Crudity is the seamy side of youth. Our crudity rubs the English the wrong way. Compare the American who said we were going to buy England for a summer resort with the Englishman who said that when all other entertainment in London failed, you could always listen to the Americans eat. Crudity, "freshness" on our side, arrogance, toploftiness on theirs: such is one generalization I would have you disengage from my anecdotes.
Second. The English are blunter than we. They talk to us as they would talk to themselves. The way we take it reveals that we are too often thin-skinned. Recent people are apt to be thin-skinned and self-conscious and self-assertive, while those with a thousand years of tradition would have thicker hides and would never feel it necessary to assert themselves. Give an Englishman as good as he gives you, and you are certain to win his respect, and probably his regard. In this connection see my anecdote about the Tommies and Yankees who physically fought it out, and compare it with the Salisbury, the van Squibber, and the opium trade anecdotes. "Treat 'em rough," when they treat you rough: they like it. Only, be sure you do it in the right way.
Third. We differ because we are alike. That American who stood in the theatre complaining about the sixpence he didn't have to pay at home is exactly like Englishmen I have seen complaining about the unexpected here. We share not only the same mother-tongue, we share every other fundamental thing upon which our welfare rests and our lives are carried on. We like the same things, we hate the same things. We have the same notions about justice, law, conduct; about what a man should be, about what a woman should be. It is like the mother-tongue we share, yet speak with a difference. Take the mother-tongue for a parable and symbol of all the rest. Just as the word "girl" is identical to our sight but not to our hearing, and means oh! quite the same thing throughout us all in all its meanings, so that identity of nature which we share comes often to the surface in different guise. Our loquacity estranges the Englishman, his silence estranges us. Behind that silence beats the English heart, warm, constant, and true; none other like it on earth, except our own at its best, beating behind our loquacity.
Thus far my anecdotes carry me. May they help some reader to a better understanding of what he has misunderstood heretofore!
No anecdotes that I can find (though I am sure that they are to be found) will illustrate one difference between the two peoples, very noticeable to-day. It is increasing. An Englishman not only sticks closer than a brother to his own rights, he respects the rights of his neighbor just as strictly. We Americans are losing our grip on this. It is the bottom of the whole thing. It is the moral keystone of democracy. Howsoever we may talk about our own rights to-day, we pay less and less respect to those of our neighbors. The result is that to-day there is more liberty in England than here. Liberty consists and depends upon respecting your neighbor's rights every bit as fairly and squarely as your own.
On the other hand, I wonder if the English are as good losers as we are? Hardly anything that they could do would rub us more the wrong way than to deny to us that fair play in sport which they accord each other. I shall not more than mention the match between our Benicia Boy and their Tom Sayers. Of this the English version is as defective as our school-book account of the Revolution. I shall also pass over various other international events that are somewhat well known, and I will illustrate the point with an anecdote known to but a few.
Crossing the ocean were some young English and Americans, who got up an international tug-of-war. A friend of mine was anchor of our team. We happened to win. They didn't take it very well. One of them said to the anchor:
"Do you know why you pulled us over the line? "
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