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In Austria and Hungary my gypsy friends greeted me with the newest jazz. I had been only two hours in Budapest when I was invited to a baseball game. I had not been that many hours in Bulgaria when I was invited to a football game, where the players were equipped with American gear. And I, who had come from America, seemed to be the only one who still wore a mustache! Even the Moldavians had succumbed to the American safety razor.
Only a few years before the World War, at the very mention of America everybody shrugged his shoulders. It was a country where someone went for the filthy lucre. No culture. No intellectual attainments of any kind. Today you cannot pass down any of the principal streets of Madrid, Bucharest, Belgrade, Vienna, without seeing "American" something or other in the shop windows; and American moving pictures, of course, everywhere. Even the Tattars on the Black Sea listen to jazz. They wear B.V.D.'s instead of bathing suits.
In Turkey the red fez has been banished and the modern hat has become obligatory. Kemal Pasha is striving to introduce American methods and American goods.
Everywhere in Europe the good hotels claim to have "American installations." . . . If some financial adjustment were possible whereby the cost of things would not be so high, or the European money of most countries would not be so low, we should become the greatest exporting country in the history of the world, such is the craving and demand for American-made things.
Before the war French and German pianos were imported here. Today the demand for American pianos in France is greater than the possibility of delivery. Why, even American perfumes have taken the place of French ones! American tooth paste. American shaving cream. American cigarettes. Everybody is
anxious to possess, to use, something from across the sea.
In Servia and Bulgaria, in Rumania, in Czechoslovakia, American agricultural machines have entirely superseded the ones of German make, though Leipzig and Koln are manufacturing them much cheaper. Every office in Europe that wants to look like an office has at least one American typewriter. In Austria and Hungary and in the Balkan countries the gasoline filling stations advertise American gasoline and oil, though native oil is cheaper.
There is not an illustrated paper, from Spain to the Balkans, even down to Turkey, that does not contain at least once a week an illustration of something or other from America, the country of wonders. Europe has gone America-mad. France and Austria are fast losing their proverbial politeness. It is stylish to be brief and abrupt.
When our gates were open and immigrants from all over the world poured in, Europe was very skeptical about us. Things American were looked at with suspicion. While they could come here, only a certain class came. The rest shrugged shoulders at the mere mention of America. But after the war everyone talked about our stringent immigration laws. Those who, years before, had looked down upon those who had gone suddenly discovered that they had never wanted anything SO strongly as to go to America.
One world-famous European writer said to me: "The walls of Jericho fell after seven days of the blowing of the ram's horn. The walls of Europe are now falling to the sound of the drum and the saxophone. Traditions as well as thrones are being shaken to pieces by tom-toms and charlestons. Ere long we shall have the United States in Europe.
"When the history of old Europe shall be written, a hundred years from now, the historian will have to keep in mind the great day when the American immigration quota became a law."
A Day in a Senator's Life
Condensed from The Nation's Business (February, '27)
As Told by a Member of the
NCE a United States Senator was asked: "How much are you a statesman and how much an errand boy?" He answered: "Ninety 7 percent errand boy and 10 percent statesman, and maybe I'm overdoing the statesman."
I asked one of the influential and active members of the Senate, chairman of powerful committees, and holder of important posts, to keep a memorandum of all his activities on the day following. Here is his record:
Arise at 7 a. m., bathe, shave, breakfast. No sooner do I dip my spoon into the grapefruit than the telephone rings. A constituent who was vice-chairman of a county committee during the past campaign has just arrived on the Patronage Limited. He wants to see the President, and he wants to get into the Senate gallery. I tell him, of course, I'll take care of all his wants. I write a note to Rudolph Forster to look after him at the White House. Then I arrange for him to visit the presidential yacht Mayflower, and to go through the Government Printing Office.
On my way down town, I stop at the Veterans' Bureau. There I inquire, "Where are the papers in the case of John Smith, who was gassed in the St. Mihiel offensive, and why is he getting only 75 percent disability allowance when any one with a grain of sense ought to know that he is entitled to at least 100 percent."
Next, I call on Internal Revenue Commissioner Blair, to talk to him = about a constituent whose automobile has been confiscated by prohibition agents after it had been captured in a rum case. I explain that the constituent is a school teacher who never took a drink in his life; that the automobile was stolen from him and used for this purpose. . I .hurry down to the State Department.
Upper House to Robert B. Smith
I endeavor to have the sister of an Irish constituent admitted as a nonquota immigrant. I drop into the office of Wilbur J. Carr to inform him I have three young friends who are anxious to get into the consular service.
The White House is next on my itinerary. The President listens attentively as I tell him of the great injustices being done to my state in the distribution of federal patronage. Then I break the news to him that I have a distinguished constituent who is anxious to serve his country in some diplomatic post. . . That task accomplished, I leave for the Pension Office. A veteran constituent, who served in the Civil War, is due for an increase in pension. He is not able to make the trip over to Summerworth, so I induce them to issue a special order to have the examiner go to his home.
I arrive at my office and find the reception room filled with persons waiting to see me. They give me looks which seem to imply: "This is a pretty time for a United States Senator to be arriving at his desk." They are sight-seeing tourists. I give them cards to the Senate gallery, and arrange an appointment for them to shake the President's hand. I send them away with a card entitling them to inspect the Booth relics at the Treasury.
Senators get to be sight-seeing guides after a few years in Washington. Without a moment's hesitation I can tell a visitor how to get to Arlington and what time the car leaves for Mt. Vernon.
A negro is next in line. He was a delegate to the first Republican convention and voted for Coolidge. He thinks he hasn't been properly rewarded, and wants the postmastership in his home town. I "lend" him
$5 and send him away happy... The next gentleman introduces himself as "the man in the gray hat who was first to shake hands with you after your speech in Kokomo in 1922." He has a case in the Internal Revenue Bureau; and his own Senator hasn't been able to do anything about it; hence he appeals to me.
Next, I dash off a note for an old campaign worker and tell him how to get to the Republican National Headquarters. A woman whose grandmother was born in my state appeals to me to help her find a job. She heard Washington was the place to come for a job, and in view of her close connection with my state she thought of me first as the proper person to assist her. . . Then comes a boy from my home town who wants to study law. He has received a catalog which tells him how he can work at any easy government job during the day, earning enough money to pay all expenses, and then go to school at night. So he wants to accept "a position in the Government." I explain that I may be able. to get him something in the folding room. He leaves after giving me the distinct impression that all his folks will vote for my opponent in the next primary.
A couple of newspaper men use up some more time asking aimless questions. . . . Then I begin dictating a few letters. I am interrupted by the telephone. "Did you forget the meeting of the Committee on Indian Relations?" I rush over to the committee room.
The hour of 12 having arrived, I enter the Senate Chamber and sit watchfully alert through the morning hour, on the look-out for Senators trying to get extraneous matter into the Record. More pages arrive with more cards. I meet a fashionable and effusive lady who seems to know me well without my knowing her. She wants to get into the gallery and finds everything crowded except the space set aside for senators' families and diplomats. I inform her that I am unable to aid
She turns away scornfully and no doubt writes to her friends in my state, urging them to punish me on election day.
A delegation arrives to urge me to go to Central City to deliver an address on the occasion of the opening of the new Elks Temple. I tell them regretfully that I have already made an engagement to speak to the Kiwanis Club at Zenith Falls on that date. . . I inform William Jones that the Post Office Department is adamant in its refusal to extend R. F. D. No. 5, although I consider it an outrage that the route should end at the fork of the creek when everyone knows it should run beyond the cross roads.
A colleague asks if I can't get him another clerk on his pay-roll. Another Senator asks me to help his bill to allow a claim of $6500 for "a poor devil who needs the money." He promises to do as much for me when he can get a chance.
I invite a very influential citizen He orders from my state to lunch. an expensive meal, while I lunch frugally on crackers and milk. He wants to meet all the celebrities
After the afternoon session, I go back to my office to assail the mountain of letters that buries my desk. At 6:30 I call it a day. I start home only to remember that I promised to meet some gentlemen at the Army and Navy Club to discuss a bill which they want me to introduce. . . I go out to dinner and sit beside a lady who wants to get her son into the Foreign Service. I get the point of her remarks and promise to do all I can.
I give my wife the high sign, and we leave for home. After going to bed, the telephone rings. Wearily I stagger to the 'phone. It's a newspaper man. He says: "Senator, what's the situation on the World Court?"
It is hard to get away from the conclusion that a Senator really works for his $10,000 a year.
Franklin in Paris
Condensed from McNaught's Monthly (September, '26)
HEN at the age of 70 Benjamin Franklin arrived in Paris, where he was to remain for nearly nine years as the American representative, he soon found time to write to Elizabeth Partridge of Boston as follows:
"Somebody it seems gave it out that I loved Ladies, and then everybody presented me their Ladies (or the ladies presented themselves) to be embraced, that is to have their necks kissed. For as to kissing of lips or cheeks it is not the mode here, the first is reckoned rude, and the other may rub off the Paint. The French Ladies have however 1000 other ways of rendering themselves agreeable; by their various Attentions and Civilities, and their sensible conversation."
There is perceptible in this letter a foretaste of the exhilaration which Franklin was to feel on being set down in a social milieu exactly suited to his tastes. Here he found women not only inextinguishably feminine, but cultured enough to appreciate his oracular sayings, gay enough to enjoy his witticisms, leisured enough to sit för hours at his feet-and sometimes on his knees; and practiced in all those gracious arts which few of his hardworked countrymen had had either the instinct or the cash to cultivate.
The hour of the French Revolution, in which so many of his friends were to perish, was approaching. Paris was deliriously squandering the wealth skimmed from the toil of millions of workmen and peasants. The upper
class men of France were busy with a thousand money-making, power-winning intrigues, leaving their women bored, and in a mood to welcome this novelty from the New World.
Franklin made the most of the opportunity which his immense prestige had won for him. He ejected from his memory the Poor Richardisms of his
young manhood; shed the horny integument of a colonial shopkeeper and politician; and stood forth, with the adaptiveness which had ever been one of his most distinguishing traits, as a courtier, diplomat, and squire of dames-suave, mirthful, expansive, roguish to a degree. Crowds gathered at a respectful distance when he ap the peared in streets. Medallions bearing his likeness were purchased and treasured. Proud houses opened cager doors at his approach. Learned men became credulous in his presence, and lovely women flouted distinguished followers to call him "três cher papa."
Years previously he had committed certain "errata" for which the moralists of Puritan American eyed him askauce. For the purpose, no doubt, of grouting his personal structure at its weaker points, he had drawn up for himself a creed composed of the following points: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humanity. These ideals he declared he should ever keep before his eyes. There is no evidence that while in Paris he sinned against cleanliness, but some of the others suffered at least a temporary eclipse.
His cellar at Passy contained more than 1000 bottles of well-chosen vintages. He taught his French friends a boisterous drinking song which he had laid aside for 40 years. He dined out six nights a week, and to his lady friends he addressed letters which have scandalized biographers.
Franklin, however, did not lose his head. Amid the towering coiffures, the whitened wigs, the glittering sword blades and the velvet cloaks of Paris, a pawky something-perhaps an old showman's instinct-caused him to appear in public with straight, un
powdered hair, russet dress, and a cap of backwoods fur in the style made famous by Davy Crockett. Such novel simplicity was pronounced delicieuse.
Nor did he neglect his real job, which consisted in maintaining the prestige and credit of the far-off new republic. He repeatedly raised indispensable loans, circulated incessant propaganda, outfitted cruisers, settled disputes, and kept the British ambassador sulking in obscurity.
Meantime he explored the 1000 manners by which, as he said, the ladies of France knew how to render themselves agreeable. He held his own against the most gifted beaux of belle France. He was in turn father, uncle, confessor, and hovering lover. He charmed the young with his sportive lightness; he made the old laugh with his unblushing effrontery. Though then well beyond his three score and ten, Mme. Helvetius, in whose salon he was a favorite, was provoked to write him, apropos the possibility of their both rejoining their deceased mates in heaven: "but I believe that you, who have been a coquin, will be restored to more than one."
Among other feminine admirers of Franklin were the Duchess d'Enville, the Comtesse d'Houdetot, Mme. de Forbach, Mme. Lavoisier, Mlle. Flainu, and Mme. Brillon. The last-named was a woman of undoubted brilliance and force of character. Franklin, who dined at her home twice a week, paid rather ardent court to her, but in her he more than met a match. She kept him at arm's length with the greatest skill and humor, and even declined to consider a marriage between her daughter and Franklin's son, an alliance upon which he was decidedly bent. Nevertheless, she seems to have had a very genuine affection for him, for in after years the American Philosophical Society came into possession of 119 letters written by her to the festive doctor. She once wrote, "I find in your letter evidence of your friendship and a tinge of that gaiety and gallantry which make all women love you. Your proposal to carry me on your wings, if you were the Angel
Gabriel, made me laugh, but I would not accept it. . ."
We must not take these passages too seriously. In these merry tilts with French dames he was merely responding to the demands of the age, and giving his nimble pen good practice.
Eight and a half years after Franklin had landed in France, Cornwallis suddenly surrendered at Yorktown, and Três Cher Papa's mission was at an end. Painfully-for his most frugal admonitions to his countrymen had not averted gout in himself-he set off for Havre in a litter lent by the Queen of France-loved and pampered to the last by ladies.
Franklin wrote his many maxims in an endeavor to incite himself, if pos sible, to obey them. He was naturally slothful, careless, improvident, bibulous and amative. He successfully concealed these weaknesses by preaching against them until he was sufficiently powerful, through the acquisition of property and position, to worry about them no longer. Like the good American that he was, he loved to publish precepts for the other fellow to obey.
His frequent falls through his own shop window had the effect of rendering him tolerant, sagacious, and amiable. He acquired a mellowness and ripeness of observation which, added to his natural shrewdness, made him highly companionable. He increased in stature as the years went by. He despised superstition, war and cant. He was avid in pursuit of truth, knowledge and recipes for cheese-making. He helped to drive squalor out of municipalities and a decent comfort into the average home. By his example rather than by his hard and dismal precepts, he showed men that achievement comes less by hard work than by keeping one's eyes open. He everywhere introduced good books, good printing and good conversation. One of the finest traits of his matured character was his generous appreciation of excellent women. He was a tremendous lover of the world and its people. He was our first civilized public man.