own unenterprising towns; many of which, of fifty thousand inhabitants and more, make no use of it.
I suppose you recognize in these results the great benefit of free institutions?
Ah, now comes one of the inconveniences of interviewing. I have been in the country less than two months; have seen but a relatively small part of it, and but comparatively few people; and yet you wish from me a definite opinion on a difficult question.
Perhaps you will answer, subject to the qualification that you are but giving your first impressions?
Well, with that understanding, I may reply that, though free institutions have been partly the cause, I think they have not been the chief cause. In the first place, the American people have come into possession of an unparalleled fortune—the mineral wealth, and the vast tracts of virgin soil producing abundantly with small cost of culture. Manifestly that alone goes a long way toward producing this enormous prosperity. Then they have profited by inheriting all the arts, appliances, methods, developed by older societies, while leaving behind the obstructions existing in them. They have been able to pick and choose from the products of all past experience; appropriating the good and rejecting the bad. Then, besides these favors of fortune, there are factors proper to themselves. I perceive in American faces generally, a great amount of determination—a kind of "do or die" expression; and this trait of character, joined with a power of work exceeding that of any other people, of course produces an unparalleled rapidity of progress. Once more, there is the inventiveness, which, stimulated by the need for economizing labor, has been so wisely fostered. Among us in England, there are many foolish people who, while thinking that a man who toils with his hands has an equitable claim to the product, and, if he has special skill, may rightly have the advantage of it, also hold that if a man toils with his brain, perhaps for years, and, uniting genius with perseverance, evolves some valuable invention, the public may rightly claim the benefit. The Americans have been more far-seeing. The enormous museum of patents which I saw at Washington, is significant of the attention paid to inventors' claims; and the nation profits immensely from having, in this direction (though not in all others), recognized property in mental products. Beyond question, in respect of mechanical appliances, the Americans are ahead of all nations. If, along with your material progress, there went equal progress of a higher kind, there would remain nothing to be wished.
That is an ambiguous qualification. What do you mean by it?
You will understand when I tell you what I was thinking of the other day. After pondering over what I have seen of your vast manufacturing and trading establishments, the rush of traffic in your streetcars and elevated railways, your gigantic hotels and Fifth Avenue palaces, I was suddenly reminded of the Italian republics of the middle ages; and recalled the fact that, while there was growing up in them great commercial activity, a development of the arts which made them the envy of Europe, and a building of princely mansions which continue to be the admiration of travelers, their people were gradually losing their freedom.
Do you mean this as a suggestion that we are doing the like?It seems to me that you are. You retain the forms of freedom, but, so far as I can gather, there has been a considerable loss of the substance. It is true that those who rule you do not do it by means of retainers armed with swords; but they do it through regiments of men armed with voting-papers, who obey the word of command as loyally as did the dependants of the old feudal nobles, and who thus enable their leaders to override the general will and make the community submit to their exactions as effectually as their prototypes of old. It is doubtless true that each of your citizens votes for the candidate he chooses for this or that office, from President downward, but his hand is guided by a power behind, which leaves him scarcely any choice. "Use your political power as we tell you, or else throw it away," is the alternative offered to the citizen. The political machinery as it is now worked has