Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/121

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111
AMERICAN CLIMATE AND CHARACTER.

quent in England than in America. It is common to find gentlemen, who are such in character and position, delightfully genial at one time and violently passionate at another. I met in America a gentleman of the best standing in his English home, the winning charm of whose manners awakened in me the desire to study character in the old country. One of my friends was dining with this gentleman after his return, and was asked, as an American, to state what the case was between the North and the South in the civil war. My friend made a moderate statement of his view as a Northern man, and, when he had concluded, his host, his face white and his lips trembling with passion, replied, "I have been several weeks in your country, in the North and in the South, and there isn't a word of truth in what you have said!" There was a second English gentleman present, who insisted that Mr. Garrison and other American friends had given the same account, and that it must be true. This second gentleman is physically what Mr. Young would call an American, and he has no more reserve of temper than the typical Boston gentleman.

Extreme passion is very much more common in England than in America, and especially in the north of England. But I doubt whether the very strong air and the intense vital vigor which it tends to produce explain it. It seems to me rather a moral survival, one of the signs of barbarism holding on which one so often encounters in England. The habit which many of the working-class have of brutally kicking their wives in the abdomen, and many other forms of British masculine energy, would disappear without reference to climate if education and other moral influences were such as they are in America.

Mr. Young singularly errs in stating that Britons have a stout, fresh, rosy habit, which they directly lose in American air. I am writing where there is a country population of four thousand, and I should make money by giving Mr. Young a dollar for every rosy Briton he could find if he would give me a cent each for every "peculiarly American" member of the population. In the towns, Mr. Young's Britons can be more easily found; but the type is more conspicuous than it is numerous. Of course, the style of dress, the cut of the beard, and the puff and color given to the face by drink, are not due to climate and are not race-characteristics; yet many not sufficiently instructed observers fail to see that, if they were to deduct these characteristics in the case of many who seem strikingly English, the type would look quite American. The last large company of Englishmen whom I have seen showed very many of the "nervous, energetic, large jointed skeletons" of Mr. Young's peculiarly American type, and I have personal knowledge which enables me to say that nowhere in America could an equal number be found of men violently excitable and explosive. Temper, in fact, and nerves, are generally very much worse in England than in America. There is no approach in America