Mr. Brander Matthews
lately quoted, at a discussion held in New York as to the working of republican government, an early statement by Lowell
, which seems to me to contain a brief epitome of the whole matter, and to be too good to forget.
said (I quote from memory), “If it be a good thing for an English duke that he has no social superior, I think it can hardly be bad for an American farmer.”
It reminded me of a saying by a classmate of mine, so fond of England
and so ashamed of his own country that he used to define it as the mission of the United States
“to vulgarize the whole world,” who yet resented being taken too literally in this remark; and would tell a story of the disgusting sycophancy of middle-class Englishmen towards people of rank, contrasting it with the perfect indifference of the average American traveller, unconscious of having a social superior anywhere.
But there is an aspect of this “social superior” question so obvious that I wonder to see so little said about it. Does it not really form a key to the