Roving East and Roving West

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: AMERICA DEMOCRACY AT HOME MY first experience of democracy-in-being followed swiftly upon boarding the steamboat for San Francisco, when "Show this man Number 231" was the American steward's command to a cabin boy. I had no objection to being called a man: far from it; but after years of being called a gentleman it was startling. This happened at Yokohama; and when, in the Customs House at San Francisco, a porter wheeling a truck broke through a queue of us waiting to obtain our quittances, with the careless warning, "Out of the way, fellers!" I knew that here was democracy indeed. I confess to liking it, although I was to be brought up with another jolt when a notice- board on a grass-plot suddenly confronted me, bearing the words:— KEEP OFF. THIS MEANS YOU. But I like it. I like the tradition which, once your name is written in the hotel reception book, makes you instantly "Mr. Lucas" to every one in the place. There is a friendliness about it: the hotel is more of a home, or at any rate, less of a barrack, because of it. And yet this universal camaraderie has some odd lapses into formality. The members of clubs in America are far more ceremonious with each other than we are in England. In English clubs the prefix "Mr." is a solecism, but in American clubs I have watched quite old friends and associates whose greetings have been marked almost by pomposity and certainly by ritual. Yet Americans, I should say, are heartier than we; more happy to be with each other; less critical and exacting. They certainly spend less time in discussing each other's foibles. That may be because the dollar is so much more an absorbing theme, but more likely it is because America is a democracy, and the theory of democracy, as I understand it, is to assume that every man is a good fe...
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