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[206]

XXV

The trick of self-depreciation

the two great branches of the Englishspeaking race have this in common, that they criticise themselves very frankly, in a way one rarely finds among Germans or Frenchmen. It comes, perhaps, from the habit of local self-government. If the streets are not well lighted, or if one's horse stumbles over an ill-kept pavement, the natural impulse is to complain of it to every one we meet, and to write about it in the local newspaper. Instead of putting only our strong points forward, we are always ready to discuss our weakest side. This must always be remembered in digesting the criticisms of Englishmen. Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, have said nothing about Americans more unpleasant than they had previously said about their own countrymen; and why should we expect to fare any better? It is only in foreign countries that even we Americans stand up

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Americans (2)
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