"Expatriation," I wrote just now. How harsh the word is, and how false it rings! In all my journeyings I have felt, and I feel still more strongly now, that one can never be expatriated. However far he maybe from his native land or from any land, he has only to retire into his innermost consciousness to find himself citizen not of the world, but of that little corner of it from which he came.
The American spirit seems not to understand moderation. Their high business buildings are too high. Their pleasure-houses are too elegant. Their fast trains go too fast. Their newspapers have too many pages; too much news. And when they set themselves to spend money, they are obliged to spend too much in order to have the feeling of spending enough.
" Mamma says that love is like a toothache. So far I have no need of a dentist. I shall never marry any but a rich, a very rich, man. The rest may come as it may, or not at all. At this moment I have a suitor who is worth five millions. So there is no hurry." And then she added, thoughtfully : — "I should like, above all things, to be a widow. I have always thought how nice it would be to lose my husband on my wedding-day. I should have less reason to mourn as I should know him less. I should like to see him struck with lightning as we come out of the church. It is so nice to be a young widow! "
In a sort of hymn in honor of the eight-hour day, ending with the line "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will,"
Take up another paper, also designed for workingmen, and brought to your attention as typical, and to your amazement you will find declarations in the style of the following: " Paradise is a dream invented by rogues, who wish to conceal their crimes from their victims." "When the laborer perceives that the other world, which people are forever telling him about, is a mirage, he will knock at the doors of the rich thieves, gun in hand, demanding his share in the good things of life, and this without delay." "Religion, authority, state, — all these idols were carved out of the same block of wood. We will shatter them all."
All things grow clear in the United States when one understands them as an immense act of faith in the social beneficence of individual energy left to itself. This, so to speak, is the mystical basis of their realism, the message that they bring to the world, and above all to us French people, whom the most retrograde of revolutions has for the last hundred years made the slaves of a centralized state. Nor must we weary of telling of the moral dramas of which those generous foundations are nearly always the outcome.
" If I were rich you would marry me at once." "Ah, George! George!" she replies. "The devotion which you show me breaks my heart." "What do you mean? " "That you have often praised my beauty, but until now I did not know how much you recognized my good sense."
"There are among us many minds who have no interest in science, but who believe in direct and personal communication with the unknown world. Science teaches that truth is one, -and always the same, independent of the individual; these people, on the contrary, are convinced that there is a constant revelation by Providence proportionate to the needs and merits of all. When I made their acquaintance, brought up though I had been in orthodoxy, I thought them mad." "And now?" I asked him. "Now," he replied, "like Hamlet, I think that there are many more things in this world than are dreamed of in our philosophy."
That's the character of all these blacks," he continued, shrugging his shoulders; "as soon as they have enough to eat, they won't move their little finger." "But suppose that they're happy thus, Colonel? " I replied. " Happy? " he repeated abruptly. " Happy! They're only too happy, but it's a brute's happiness, and it degrades them more than slavery. Yes, sir," he continued, with an insistence in which I found the Puritan that I have spoken about. "They were worth more when they were slaves, you may believe me. I was one of those who served under Lincoln with the utmost enthusiasm, and I don't dispute the truth of the principles we fought for. No, I do not dispute it. He is not a man who admits that there can exist a single slave in the world eighteen hundred years after Christ. Unfortunately, we imagined that we had finished when we had freed them. But that was too simple. Our troubles only began then. We didn't realize that a being of an inferior race, like the negro, could not pass at once to a superior condition without danger. You will see some sad things in the South, sir, if you travel.
"But why did §he not remain in the North?" I asked. "Would she not have been able to marry there?" " Ah, no," said the Colonel in turn, " and I understand the reason. Marriages between negroes and whites are not permitted in the United States, and that is right. God has not willed that these races should mix. The proof of this is that mulattoes have almost always an evil nature. No, it will not do to corrupt the white race by the mixture of the black. One must make of the negro, so long debased, a race of men who will be men, of citizens who will be citizens, something other than children or animals."
" You ought to have heard those two songs sung by thousands of soldiers on march ! They were brave men, on both sides, and perfect soldiers at the end. I saw the armies made, built up, day by day, hour by hour, like a new town. I remember, toward the end, that a French officer who had wit- nessed one of our parades, asked: ' Now that you have this fine army, where are you going to begin? In Canada, or in Mexico?'" " ' We shall begin by sending them all back to their work,' I replied to him; and that was the truth. At the end of the war we had twelve hundred thousand men; six months afterward, only fifty thousand," and he laughed aloud in the strength of his national pride. He was prouder of this disbanding than of twenty victories.
"Well," answered Mr. Williams, "there are many who remain in the chain gang for a year, or two years, and even then begin their life afresh. When a man has paid his debt, we Americans regard it as really paid. This Seymour could have paid his in work. If he preferred to carry on in a way that he would have to pay for by hanging, why, all right!
We look closer, and the colossal swelling of the waves shows that it is the great and powerful Atlantic. Over that azure there passes again the great dark artery of the Gulf Stream, and we notice gigantic forms of fishes as they sport in the blue and violet tints of the billows. They are sharks. Their presence does not prevent the young Americans from bathing on that free beach. I hear one say to another who hesitates, "Go, and run your risk." That saying contains an entire philosophy.