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Liza ran to fetch the cream.
We’ve seen few interiors (no one speaks French); but if the newspapers give an idea of the domestic m?urs, the m?urs must be curious. The passport’s abolished, but they’ve printed my signalement in these sheets — perhaps for the young ladies who look for the husband. We went one night to the theatre; the piece was French (they are the only ones) but the acting American — too American; we came out in the middle. The want of taste is incredible. An Englishman whom I met tells me that even the language corrupts itself from day to day; the Englishman ceases to understand. It encourages me to find I’m not the only one. There are things every day that one can’t describe. Such is Washington, where we arrived this morning, coming from Philadelphia. My brother-inlaw wishes to see the Bureau of Patents, and on our arrival he went to look at his machines while I walked about the streets and visited the Capitol! The human machine is what interests me most. I don’t even care for the political — for that’s what they call their Government here, “the machine.” It operates very roughly, and some day evidently will explode. It is true that you’d never suspect they have a government; this is the principal seat, but, save for three or four big buildings, most of them affreux, it looks like a settlement of negroes. No movement, no officials, no authority, no embodiment of the State. Enormous streets, comme toujours, lined with little red houses where nothing ever passes but the tramway. The Capitol — a vast structure, false classic, white marble, iron and stucco, which has assez grand air— must be seen to be appreciated. The goddess of liberty on the top, dressed in a bear’s skin; their liberty over here is the liberty of bears. You go into the Capitol as you would into a railway station; you walk about as you would in the Palais Royal. No functionaries, no door-keepers, no officers, no uniforms, no badges, no reservations, no authority — nothing but a crowd of shabby people circulating in a labyrinth of spittoons. We’re too much governed perhaps in France; but at least we have a certain incarnation of the national conscience, of the national dignity. The dignity’s absent here, and I’m told the public conscience is an abyss. “L’état c’est moi” even — I like that better than the spittoons. These implements are architectural, monumental; they’re the only monuments. En somme the country’s interesting, now that we too have the Republic; it is the biggest illustration, the biggest warning. It’s the last word of democracy, and that word is — platitude. It’s very big, very rich, and perfectly ugly. A Frenchman couldn’t live here; for life with us, after all, at the worst, is a sort of appreciation. Here one has nothing to appreciate. As for the people, they’re the English minus the conventions. You can fancy what remains. The women, pourtant, are sometimes rather well turned. There was one at Philadelphia — I made her acquaintance by accident — whom it’s probable I shall see again. She’s not looking for the husband; she has already got one. It was at the hotel; I think the husband doesn’t matter. A Frenchman, as I’ve said, may mistake, and he needs to be sure he’s right. Aussi I always make sure!详情 ➢
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