The greatest benefit to be derived from traveling through this world of ours comes from the proofs of human thought discoverable in the memorials of great achievements. Why does the Rhine appeal to us more powerfully than the Amazon? The European river in respect to size is, by comparison, insignificant; but while the South American stream is well-nigh meaningless, each echo on the other's shores is eloquent of history. Why does the St. Bernard attract us more than others of its Alpine brethren? Far loftier peaks environ it. Compared to the Himalayas it is but a pygmy. The secret of its fascination is the fact that Hannibal and Bonaparte have led their legions over it and that, to-day, almost completely isolated from the outer world, heroic monks are living there, risking their lives to rescue travelers from the storm and the avalanche. It is not difficult, therefore, to discover the subtle charm that lures us to "Old England." There is no portion of our globe whose literary and historic souvenirs touch us so profoundly; and we need have no fear that reverence for the Mother Country, inspired by such causes, will be interpreted as Anglomania. We could not be identical with the English, even if we would. Although connected by the ties of blood, each nation has its own peculiar c h a r a c t e r, and its own destiny to work out on the stage of history. This fact is fast becoming recognized. Although they may refrain from saying so, the English are, at heart, proud of our achievements; and we, too, secretly admire "that isle that is itself a world," and which, to-day, controls an area vaster than the empire of the Caesars. The friction which arises in the intercourse of English and Americans comes chiefly from some insignificant points of difference between us. We are so much alike that both of us, unfortunately, adopt the privilege of relatives and criticise each other. We do not care what clothes the Germans or Italians wear, or what may be their intonation and pronunciation, but we are vexed to see our English cousins dress and speak as we do not. They naturally feel the same, but both of us are rapidly becoming wise enough to ignore trivialities, and meet as brothers on the common ground of liberal education, lofty character, and broad ideas of justice and humanity.
Old Oak In The Centre Of England.
An English Lane.
Whether we like the English Government or not, nothing can change the fact that England is our old home. The child cannot renounce its mother. It is "Old England" there; it is "New England" here. Up to comparatively recent times her history is also ours. The same words that express their joys and sorrows signify our own. However widely we may drift apart, a common literature grapples us together as with hooks of steel. Shakespeare, Gray, Byron, Dickens, Thackeray, Carlyle, Tennyson, and George Eliot, - of these immortal names we are as proud as Englishmen can ever be.
The sentiment which I desire to see increase on both sides of the Atlantic is that which led the English to adorn Westminster Abbey with a bust of Longfellow, and prompted us to place a fine memorial window over the sacred dust of Shakespeare. Old England's literary heroes still outnumber ours, since we are comparatively young, and stern necessity, hitherto, has compelled us to devote our attention to other problems than the development of a national literature; but give us time and, as an American poet has prophesied, our list will be extended. Among his finest lines are those in which he considers from which section of our great republic our future brightest Star of Poesy will rise.
"Perchance the blue Atlantic's brink, The broad Ohio's gleam, Or where the panther stoops to drink Of wild Missouri's stream:
Where winter clasps in glittering ice
Katahdin's silver chains, Or Georgia's flowery paradise
Unfolds its blushing plains.
Be patient! Love hath long been grown,
Ambition waxeth strong, And Heaven is asking Time alone
To mold our Child of Song".