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The Survival Of Types
by [?]

The London Daily News, in the course of an article on what it calls “International Reproaches,” refers to the fact that there is much that is “traditional” in them. It thinks that, both in America and in France, the qualities and peculiarities attributed to English people are derived, to a great extent, less from experience than from inherited tradition. “We hear that Englishmen are rude to ladies; that they fail to yield them precedence at the ticket-offices of steamboats and railway stations; that they complain of everything that is given them as food; that they occupy more than their share of public conveyances with multitudinous wraps, sticks, and umbrellas. They assert themselves, it would seem, when they have placed 3,000 miles between themselves and their old home. There is, however, in all these complaints the ring of old coin.” In the same way it says that the Parisian of the boulevards still believes the English man to be a creature who wears long red whiskers of the mutton-chop species, and wears a plaid–although, as a matter of fact, the typical Englishman of to-day does not look like this at all.

Anyone interested in the matter might make a very queer collection of types which, having disappeared from actual life, survive in the popular imagination, and by surviving keep alive international prejudice, hostility, suspicion, or distrust, and which go on doing duty in this way for years and years, until suddenly some fine day it is discovered that they are out of date and must in future be dispensed with. There is, for instance, our old friend, the stage Irishman. How often have our hearts been touched by the qualities of gratitude, devotion to sentiment, faithful friendship, and heroism of this noble creature. No doubt, there must have been a time when he was as common in Ireland as he has been in our day in melodrama. But the Irishman, as he exists in New York, and as he is described by those who have seen him at home, is strangely unlike the type. He is a decidedly practical, hard-headed man, with a keen eye to the main chance, a considerable fondness for fighting, and a disposition which we should call the reverse of sentimental. Harrigan and Hart represent the actual Irishman in America capitally at their little theatre in Broadway, yet the stage Irishman is to multitudes of Americans a more real creature than the actual Irishman, and we suppose there is hardly a Democratic statesman from one end of the country to the other who has not constantly before his mind an image of him, by the contemplation of which he solves many of the knottiest problems of contemporary politics.

Then there is the Dundreary Englishman, first-cousin or lineal descendant of the Englishman so dear to the French imagination. Dundreary really represents, as we know very well, when we think about it, a past type of swell as extinct as the dodo. It is not common any longer for English swells to change all their rs to ws, and to spice their sentences with “aw-aws.” We have numbers of them over here every year, but we do not hear them talk nowadays the once familiar Dundreary language. Yet there is hardly a newspaper in the United States whose funny man does not assume for the benefit of his readers that Dundreary is alive, and every now and then reproduce him with gusto. It is not in Punch that we find Dundreary, but in the funny department of the Oshkosh Monitor and the “All Sorts” column of the Bungtown Clarion. Even Puck contributes to perpetuate the belief in the continued existence of Dundreary by devoting a column a week to observations on American society in the Dundreary dialect, which thirty years ago might have been decidedly funny.