Seated On A Horsehair-Covered Chair In The Middle Of A Small,
Dingy, Ill-Furnished Private Sitting-Room.
No eloquence of mine
could make intelligible to a Frenchman or an American the utter
desolation of such an apartment.
The world as then seen by that
Frenchman offered him solace of no description. The air without
was heavy, dull, and thick. The street beyond the window was dark
and narrow. The room contained mahogany chairs covered with horse-
hair, a mahogany table, rickety in its legs, and a mahogany
sideboard ornamented with inverted glasses and old cruet-stands.
The Frenchman had come to the house for shelter and food, and had
been asked whether he was commercial. Whereupon he shook his head.
"Did he want a sitting-room?" Yes, he did. "He was a leetle tired
and vanted to seet." Whereupon he was presumed to have ordered a
private room, and was shown up to the Eden I have described. I
found him there at death's door. Nothing that I can say with
reference to the social habits of the Americans can tell more
against them than the story of that Frenchman's fate tells against
those of our country.
From which remarks I would wish to be understood as deprecating
offense from my American friends, if in the course of my book
should be found aught which may seem to argue against the
excellence of their institutions and the grace of their social
life. Of this at any rate I can assure them, in sober earnestness,
that I admire what they have done in the world and for the world
with a true and hearty admiration; and that whether or no all their
institutions be at present excellent, and their social life all
graceful, my wishes are that they should be so, and my convictions
are that that improvement will come for which there may perhaps
even yet be some little room.
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