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"Climbers" In England
by [?]

The expression “Little Englander,” much used of late to designate an inhabitant of the Mother Isle in contra-distinction to other subjects of Her Majesty, expresses neatly the feeling of our insular cousins not only as regards ourselves, but also the position affected toward their colonial brothers and sisters.

Have you ever noticed that in every circle there is some individual assuming to do things better than his comrades-to know more, dress better, run faster, pronounce more correctly? Who, unless promptly suppressed, will turn the conversation into a monologue relating to his own exploits and opinions. To differ is to bring down his contempt upon your devoted head! To argue is time wasted!

Human nature is, however, so constituted that a man of this type mostly succeeds in hypnotizing his hearers into sharing his estimate of himself, and impressing upon them the conviction that he is a rare being instead of a commonplace mortal. He is not a bad sort of person at bottom, and ready to do one a friendly turn-if it does not entail too great inconvenience. In short, a good fellow, whose principal defect is the profound conviction that he was born superior to the rest of mankind.

What this individual is to his environment, Englishmen are to the world at large. It is the misfortune, not the fault, of the rest of the human race, that they are not native to his island; a fact, by the way, which outsiders are rarely allowed to lose sight of, as it entails a becoming modesty on their part.

Few idiosyncrasies get more quickly on American nerves or are further from our hearty attitude toward strangers. As we are far from looking upon wandering Englishmen with suspicion, it takes us some time to realize that Americans who cut away from their countrymen and settle far from home are regarded with distrust and reluctantly received. When a family of this kind prepares to live in their neighborhood, Britons have a formula of three questions they ask themselves concerning the new-comers: “Whom do they know? How much are they worth?” and “What amusement (or profit) are we likely to get out of them?” If the answer to all or any of the three queries is satisfactory, my lord makes the necessary advances and becomes an agreeable, if not a witty or original, companion.

Given this and a number of other peculiarities, it seems curious that a certain class of Americans should be so anxious to live in England. What is it tempts them? It cannot be the climate, for that is vile; nor the city of London, for it is one of the ugliest in existence; nor their “cuisine”-for although we are not good cooks ourselves, we know what good food is and could give Britons points. Neither can it be art, nor the opera,-one finds both better at home or on the Continent than in England. So it must be society, and here one’s wonder deepens!

When I hear friends just back from a stay over there enlarging on the charms of “country life,” or a London “season,” I look attentively to see if they are in earnest, so incomparably dull have I always found English house parties or town entertainments. At least that side of society which the climbing stranger mostly affects. Other circles are charming, if a bit slow, and the “Bohemia” and semi-Bohemia of London have a delicate flavor of their own.

County society, that ideal life so attractive to American readers of British novels, is, taken on the whole, the most insipid existence conceivable. The women lack the sparkle and charm of ours; the men, who are out all day shooting or hunting according to the season, get back so fagged that if they do not actually drop asleep at the dinner-table, they will nap immediately after, brightening only when the ladies have retired, when, with evening dress changed for comfortable smoking suits, the hunters congregate in the billiard-room for cigars and brandy and seltzer.