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What Can Be Got In America
by [?]

“Well, as to wall-papers,” said Miss Featherstone, “there you must confess the French are and must be unequaled.”

“I do not confess any such thing,” said I hardily. “I grant you that, in that department of paper-hangings which exhibits floral decoration, the French designs and execution are, and must be for some time to come, far ahead of all the world: their drawing of flowers, vines, and foliage has the accuracy of botanical studies and the grace of finished works of art, and we cannot as yet pretend in America to do anything equal to it. But for satin finish, and for a variety of exquisite tints of plain colors, American papers equal any in the world: our gilt papers even surpass in the heaviness and polish of the gilding those of foreign countries; and we have also gorgeous velvets. All I have to say is, let people who are furnishing houses inquire for articles of American manufacture, and they will be surprised at what they will see. We need go no farther than our Cambridge glassworks to see that the most dainty devices of cut-glass, crystal, ground and engraved glass of every color and pattern, may be had of American workmanship, every way equal to the best European make, and for half the price. And American painting on china is so well executed, both in Boston and New York, that deficiencies in the finest French or English sets can be made up in a style not distinguishable from the original, as one may easily see by calling on our worthy next neighbor, Briggs, who holds the opposite corner to our ‘Atlantic Monthly.’ No porcelain, it is true, is yet made in America, these decorative arts being exercised on articles imported from Europe. Our tables must, therefore, perforce, be largely indebted to foreign lands for years to come. Exclusive of this item, however, I believe it would require very little self-denial to paper, carpet, and furnish a house entirely from the manufactures of America. I cannot help saying one word here in favor of the cabinet-makers of Boston. There is so much severity of taste, such a style and manner about the best-made Boston furniture, as raises it really quite into the region of the fine arts. Our artisans have studied foreign models with judicious eyes, and so transferred to our country the spirit of what is best worth imitating that one has no need to import furniture from Europe.”

“Well,” said Miss Featherstone, “there is one point you cannot make out,–gloves; certainly the French have the monopoly of that article.”

“I am not going to ruin my cause by asserting too much,” said I. “I haven’t been with nicely dressed women so many years not to speak with proper respect of Alexander’s gloves; and I confess honestly that to forego them must be a fair, square sacrifice to patriotism. But then, on the other hand, it is nevertheless true that gloves have long been made in America and surreptitiously brought into market as French. I have lately heard that very nice kid gloves are made at Watertown and in Philadelphia. I have only heard of them and not seen. A loud demand might bring forth an unexpected supply from these and other sources. If the women of America were bent on having gloves made in their own country, how long would it be before apparatus and factories would spring into being? Look at the hoop-skirt factories; women wanted hoop-skirts,–would have them or die,–and forthwith factories arose, and hoop-skirts became as the dust of the earth for abundance.”

“Yes,” said Miss Featherstone, “and, to say the truth, the American hoop-skirts are the only ones fit to wear. When we were living on the Champs Elysees, I remember we searched high and low for something like them, and finally had to send home to America for some.”

“Well,” said I, “that shows what I said. Let there be only a hearty call for an article and it will come. These spirits of the vasty deep are not so very far off, after all, as we may imagine, and women’s unions and leagues will lead to inquiries and demands which will as infallibly bring supplies as a vacuum will create a draught of air.”