Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Conquest Of Europe
by [?]

The most important event in modern history is the discovery of Europe by the Americans. Before it, the peoples of the Old World lived happy and contented in their own countries, practising the patriarchal virtues handed down to them from generations of forebears, ignoring alike the vices and benefits of modern civilization, as understood on this side of the Atlantic. The simple-minded Europeans remained at home, satisfied with the rank in life where they had been born, and innocent of the ways of the new world.

These peoples were, on the whole, not so much to be pitied, for they had many pleasing crafts and arts unknown to the invaders, which had enabled them to decorate their capitals with taste in a rude way; nothing really great like the lofty buildings and elevated railway structures, executed in American cities, but interesting as showing what an ingenious race, deprived of the secrets of modern science, could accomplish.

The more aesthetic of the newcomers even affected to admire the antiquated places of worship and residences they visited abroad, pointing out to their compatriots that in many cases marble, bronze and other old- fashioned materials had been so cleverly treated as to look almost like the superior cast-iron employed at home, and that some of the old paintings, preserved with veneration in the museums, had nearly the brilliancy of modern chromos. As their authors had, however, neglected to use a process lending itself to rapid reproduction, they were of no practical value. In other ways, the continental races, when discovered, were sadly behind the times. In business, they ignored the use of “corners,” that backbone of American trade, and their ideas of advertising were but little in advance of those known among the ancient Greeks.

The discovery of Europe by the Americans was made about 1850, at which date the first bands of adventurers crossed the seas in search of amusement. The reports these pioneers brought back of the naivete, politeness, and gullibility of the natives, and the cheapness of existence in their cities, caused a general exodus from the western to the eastern hemisphere. Most of the Americans who had used up their credit at home and those whose incomes were insufficient for their wants, immediately migrated to these happy hunting grounds, where life was inexpensive and credit unlimited.

The first arrivals enjoyed for some twenty years unique opportunities. They were able to live in splendor for a pittance that would barely have kept them in necessaries on their own side of the Atlantic, and to pick up valuable specimens of native handiwork for nominal sums. In those happy days, to belong to the invading race was a sufficient passport to the good graces of the Europeans, who asked no other guarantees before trading with the newcomers, but flocked around them, offering their services and their primitive manufactures, convinced that Americans were all wealthy.

Alas! History ever repeats itself. As Mexicans and Peruvians, after receiving their conquerors with confidence and enthusiasm, came to rue the day they had opened their arms to strangers, so the European peoples, before a quarter of a century was over, realized that the hordes from across the sea who were over-running their lands, raising prices, crowding the native students out of the schools, and finally attempting to force an entrance into society, had little to recommend them or justify their presence except money. Even in this some of the intruders were unsatisfactory. Those who had been received into the “bosom” of hotels often forgot to settle before departing. The continental women who had provided the wives of discoverers with the raiment of the country (a luxury greatly affected by those ladies) found, to their disgust, that their new customers were often unable or unwilling to offer any remuneration.

In consequence of these and many other disillusions, Americans began to be called the “Destroyers,” especially when it became known that nothing was too heavy or too bulky to be carried away by the invaders, who tore the insides from the native houses, the paintings from the walls, the statues from the temples, and transported this booty across the seas, much in the same way as the Romans had plundered Greece. Elaborate furniture seemed especially to attract the new arrivals, who acquired vast quantities of it.