Why not take a man of their own size? For true amusement Mr. Charles Chaplin or Mr. Leslie Henson could give them sixty in a hundred. I even think I could myself.
One final judgment, however, might with due caution be hazarded. I do not think that, on the whole, the English are quite as fond of humour as we are. I mean they are not so willing to welcome at all times the humorous point of view as we are in America. The English are a serious people, with many serious things to think of--football, horse racing, dogs, fish, and many other concerns that demand much national thought: they have so many national preoccupations of this kind that they have less need for jokes than we have. They have higher things to talk about, whereas on our side of the water, except when the World's Series is being played, we have few, if any, truly national topics.
And yet I know that many people in England would exactly reverse this last judgment and say that the Americans are a desperately serious people. That in a sense is true. Any American who takes up with an idea such as New Thought, Psychoanalysis or Eating Sawdust, or any "uplift" of the kind becomes desperately lopsided in his seriousness, and as a very large number of us cultivate New Thought, or practise breathing exercises, or eat sawdust, no doubt the English visitors think us a desperate lot.
Anyway, it's an ill business to criticise another people's shortcomings. What I said at the start was that the British are just as humorous as are the Americans, or the Canadians, or any of us across the Atlantic, and for greater Certainty I repeat it at the end.
ONE of the most delightful books in my father's library was White's "Natural History of Selborne." For me it has rather gained in charm with years. I used to read it without knowing the secret of the pleasure I found in it, but as I grow older I begin to detect some of the simple expedients of this natural magic. Open the book where you will, it takes you out of doors. In our broiling July weather one can walk out with this genially garrulous Fellow of Oriel and find refreshment instead of fatigue. You have no trouble in keeping abreast of him as he ambles along on his hobby-horse, now pointing to a pretty view, now stopping to watch the motions of a bird or an insect, or to bag a specimen for the Honorable Daines Barrington or Mr. Pennant. In simplicity of taste and natural refinement he reminds one of Walton; in tenderness toward what he would have called the brute creation, of Cowper. I do not know whether his descriptions of scenery are good or not, but they have made me familiar with his neighborhood. Since I first read him, I have walked over some of his favorite haunts, but I still see them through his eyes rather than by any recollection of actual and personal vision. The book has also the delightfulness of absolute leisure. Mr. White seems never to have had any harder work to do than to study the habits of his feathered fellow-townsfolk, or to watch the ripening of his peaches on the wall. His volumes are the journal of Adam in Paradise,
"Annihilating all that's made To a green thought in a green shade."
It is positive rest only to look into that garden of his. It is vastly better than to
"See great Diocletian walk In the Salonian garden's noble shade,"