... as told by an Englishman.
Wednesday morning...March 30, 1864
An Englishman in Yankeedom
A good Story.
The first time I breakfasted at Willard's I said, modestly, that I should like a cup of tea, some dry toast, an egg, and a little toasted bacon. It struck me that the waiter regarded me with a very contemptuous look, and that he retired from my presence in a very slow and superstitious manner. I waited, and waited, and waited, but no tea, no toast, no egg, no bacon came. There was sitting opposite to me a dapper little man with a large beard and embroidered shirt front, with diamond studs, cut velvet vest, and a pea jacket. "Here, you," he cried to the nearest Ethiop, "bring me some fried oysters, some stewed oysters, some tenderloin steak and onions, some scrambled eggs, pork cutlets, some fish balls, some dipped toast, some Graham bread, some mashed turnips, some cold ham, some buckwheat cakes, some hot coffee, and some plane mange. I've paid my money, and by — I mean to see the show!"
The only way to get on in America is, having once paid your money, to insist on seeing the show. If you don't the people will think you are mean spirited, and trample on you. See it; see the show; have the animals stirred up with the long pole; pinch the spotted girl to see if it is real flesh, or only tights she has on; pick the kangaroo's pouch, make the pelican bleed again for your gratification You have paid your money, don't be imposed upon, halloo with stringent voice; curse and swear in a land where execrations are rife; brag louder than the greatest braggadocios in the world. If need be lie — lie with face of brass and lungs of leather; crack up your own country, to the detriment of all others; vow that we won the battle of Fontenoy; swear that Peter Morrison was the greatest philanthropist of the age; declare that Mr. Roebuck is ninety feet high. If a man spits on your boot spit on his waistcoat, and then "guess that you did not aim low enough."
If you find his letters lying about, read them; if he tells you anything in confidence, publish it in a newspaper; keep on moving; go ahead; go into business; smash; recuperate; drink with everybody; talk dollars from sunrise to midnight. Do this, and the Americans will admire you, and you may admire them. They will say you are a "smart man," and at last you will be spoken of as a "remarkable" man. But if you pay your money and don't walk up to the booth; if you are nervous and not abashed, if rudeness pains and bestial manners disgust you if you strive to substitute temperate argument for frothy declamation, and national proof for impudent assertion; if you tell the truth and are modest and a gentleman — you can never hope for success in this young, adventurous and astonishing country. You had better "clear out" before you are "run out." You had better go home by the next Cunard steamer, for you are clearly not fitted for the institutions and people of the United States.