Page images
PDF
EPUB

the wall of their compartment a dangling ring could be seen. "In case the presence of the guard is deemed necessary, the passenger is requested to break the glass, pull the ring, and then agitate his arms out of the right-hand window according as the train is going.” How absurd! how English! how un-American. And yet it could not be denied that for a short journey the luxuriously padded seats of the little drawing-room were most comfortable. No vociferous news-boy plied his nefarious trade in pop-corn and gumdrops; no raucous brakeman called undistinguishable stations and slammed banging doors; no grimy, sticky children toddled precariously up and down a long aisle; no confidential strangers unbidden and unshunable disclosed their life histories. Grudgingly the ardent partisans admitted that "for England it wasn't so bad” while in their hearts they knew it was good and very good at that.

At the first station a big, red-faced Englishman entered the carriage and received from a porter outside a lot of luggage—eight or ten pieces in all—which was stowed away in the rack overhead, on the floor and under the seat. When the train was under way again at high speed the carriage began to sway from side to side in an ominous fashion. The newcomer was annoyed and anxious; at the next station hé leaned out of the window and shouted, “Guard, guard, I say, screw up this carriage coupling, it oscillates fearfully.” And thereafter at every station this traveler expostulated, and denounced and threatened to write to the

papers

if something wasn't done, and in general made what is called a row. The camera and chum were having their first glimpse of that force which plays so large a part in English life and so slight a rôle in America,—the individual who won't be imposed upon.

In the late afternoon the train halted at a rural station. A coach-and-four from the Lowood Hotel were in waiting. Visions of Tony Weller and of Tom Brown on his way to Rugby came to mind at once. The luggage was stowed away; the passengers climbed to the seats on the roof, the driver gathered up his reins, spoke to his horses, and to the clatter of sharp hoof-beats on the hard macadam, the coach bowled along toward Windermere. The walls on either side of the road made it clear why English vehicles set their passengers aloft. It was an exhilarating, captivating journey past great estates and wayside cottages, through the village of Bowness with its tavern and shops and village church, out along the shores of Windermere, which brought Chautauqua Lake to the minds of the travelers just as Chautauqua often recalls Windermere to British visitors. Twenty minutes farther the coach entered spacious grounds and drew up before a long, low, delightful, rambling group of buildings—the Lowood Hotel. The servants bustled out with deferential eagerness, the inevitable woman manager assigned the rooms and in a few moments the “Camera" and comrade were in an unmistakably English apartment. There was actually a high four-poster with heavy curtains on all sides, such a bed as that from which Mr. Pickwick peeped in consternation when he found himself in the room of the elderly spinster. All the rest of the furniture was old-fashioned, quaint, characteristic, fascinating. Dinner was soon served in a long, beautiful dining room with low French windows open toward the lake. An amiable and placid little Bishop in gaiters and black apron said "grace before meat” and asked a blessing afterward.

After a stroll by the shore in the long twilight, the travelers betook themselves to their rooms for their first night in England. The youths having been suppressed in their acrobatic feats of jumping from the floor to a trunkstand and then diving over the foot of the bed, were finally quieted, and drawing the curtains about them they fell asleep with the sense of being in a foreign land and enjoying that minimum of air to be had only in an old-fashioned English bed or an American Pullman car.

*

It was at a Non-Conformist minister's in a Midland

town. The son was a Rugby boy home on his vacation. He seemed to be woefully ignorant of Tom Brown but full of tales about the great school and its life. He spoke of the sons of Lords. The Americans asked for personal details and were astonished to find that he had no acquaintance with these exalted youngsters. The cousins from abroad, whose democratic ideas had been fostered in public school at home by the privilege of laying violent hands on the sons of well-to-do citizens could not understand a system of social distinctions and caste. Then, too, they were seriously disappointed to find that this British youth knew little or nothing of history. With true adolescent courtesy they taunted him with the defeats of the Revolution about which his ideas were frankly hazy. In fact, he seemed not to understand their allusions until suddenly the situation dawned upon him. "Oh,” he exclaimed, "you mean that old fool, George III.” It was a great disappointment and also a revelation to discover that England does not pass on from generation to generation a sense of the lasting disgrace inflicted upon her by her rebellious colonies. Again it dawned upon the young patriots that they lived in a large world of which their own land was not everywhere deemed the pivot.

[blocks in formation]

Pater and Filius in a hansom cab drove smartly froni Trafalgar Square westward toward Nottinghill Gate. They / went to dine with a "city" man who was alderman and had been for a brief year of pomp, Lord Mayor. He was a person of substance and of leadership in the Non-Conformist world. The West End was astir as the dinner hour approached. Cabs were driving briskly toward great houses, hotels and restaurants, and the omnibuses loaded with advertisements and suburbanites rolled smoothly over the wooden pavements. At the house, men-servants in imposing livery passed on the guests from vestibule to staircase and from corridor to drawing-room where at the door their names were loudly proclaimed. The host coming for

ward hospitably, seized the Pater and dragged him off to a company near the fireplace while Filius was set adrift in the great spacious drawing-room in which forty guests were grouped in conversation. To the lonely youth no one gave heed. He wandered disconsolately on the outskirts of the company. He inspected the pictures. In a corner cabinet, he discovered a score or more of silver trowels which at first suggested that the master of the house had begun life as a stone-mason. These were, however, souvenirs of corner-stone layings of the official period. Finally to the marooned guest came a butler with a small envelope which held two cards, one showing a diagram of the dining-room with two places marked at one end of the table, the other bearing the name of Miss F- Filius clung to the serving-man as to a life-cable in a boundless sea. Did he know this young person and could he point her out? By good fortune, the man was able to direct him to a timid looking young girl who seemed not altogether awe-inspiring. Filius approached his dinner partner and broke to her the fact that he was "to take her in.” Presently the guests began moving in procession toward the great dining-room. Thanks to the diagrams the forty guests were quickly seated without confusion. Filius was quite dazzled by the dinner service. A great terrace of silver stretched the length of the table and was filled with growing plants. The candelabra were of heavy silver and all the plate was massive and aldermanic. Conversation lagged at first. Miss F. reserved and cautious and listened with a settled air of incredulity to all that Filius said. His exuberant patriotism could not long restrain itself. With that tact and courtesy which only a thorough training in public school history of the American Revolution can inspire in a callow youth of sixteen, he discoursed on the marvelous glories of his native land. His words fell on ears, not deaf but wary. In time it transpired that Miss F. came from a country town in Yorkshire, that it was her first visit to London and that she had been warned not only against the guile

was

of city folks but against the mendacity of all Americans. Since she was determined that she would believe nothing that an American said, the conversation on the patriotic plane soon came to grief. Later something like confidence was established upon the universal, common ground of youth and inexperience. At last the ladies withdrew, the gentlemen sat about the table for a time, then rejoined the company in the drawing room and so drifted away by twos and threes. As Pater and Filius rode homeward, Filius fondly fancied that he had seen the life of the aristocracy in England—which only went to show how much Filius still had to learn about the social distinctions of the British capital. But he had had a bitter experience of that custom of British society which omits the introduction of guests to each other at stated social functions, assuming the temporary acquaintance of all who meet under their host's roof and committing them to no obligation of future recognition.

The Garden City Movement*

By John H. Whitehouse

Secretary of Toynbee Hall, London THE HE Garden City movement in England practically be

gan with the foundation of the village of Bournville twelve years ago. Bournville, which is situated in the northeast corner of Worcestershire, is as everyone knows, the home of the great cocoa works of Cadbury Bros., Ltd., which were moved from Birmingham more than a quarter of a century ago. The present village

The present village was founded by Mr. George Cadbury, as a result of years of practical experience and careful study of the existing social conditions

*This is the fourth in a series of special articles upon English social topics of current interest. Articles which have already appeared are: “The Ancoats Brotherhood," of Manchester, by Katharine Coman (December); “The Unemployed Camp at Levenshulme, Manchester," by Katharine Coman (January); “The London County Council," by Milo R. Maltbie (February).

« PreviousContinue »