Diary in America: With Remarks on Its Institutions

By Frederick Marryat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLVIII
Socley: General Characteristics

The character of the Americans is that of a restless, uneasy people--they cannot sit still, they cannot listen attentively, unless the theme be politics or dollars, they must do something, and, like children, if they cannot do anything else, they will do mischief--their curiosity is unbounded, and they are very capricious. Acting upon impulse, they are very generous at one moment and without a spark of charity the next. They are good-tempered and possess great energy, ingenuity, bravery, and presence of mind. Such is the estimate I have formed of their general character, independent of the demoralizing effects of their institutions, which renders it so anomalous. . . .

The Americans have few amusements; they are too busy. Athletic sports they are indifferent to; they look only to those entertainments which feed their passion for excitement. The theatre is almost their only resort, and even that is not so well attended as it might be, considering their means. There are some very good and well-conducted theatres in America: the best are the Park and National at New York, the Tremont at Boston, and the Chestnut Street Theatres at Philadelphia. The American stock actors, as they term those who are not considered as stars, are better than our own; but were the theatres to depend upon stock actors

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