Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > Idle Ideas in 1905 > WHY WE HATE THE FOREIGNER.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 The advantage that the foreigner possesses over the Englishman is that he is born good.  He does not have to try to be good, as we do.  He does not have to start the New Year with the resolution to be good, and succeed, bar accidents, in being so till the middle of January.  He is just good all the year round.  When a foreigner is told to mount or from a tram on the near side, it does not occur to him that it would be humanly possible to secure from or ingress to that tram from the off side.  
In Brussels once I witnessed a daring attempt by a lawless foreigner to enter a tram from the wrong side.  The gate was open: he was close beside it.  A line of traffic was in his way: to have got round to the right side of that tram would have meant missing it.  He entered when the conductor was not looking, and took his seat.  The of the conductor on finding him there was immense.  How did he get there?  The conductor had been watching the proper entrance, and the man had not passed him.  Later, the true explanation suggested itself to the conductor, but for a while he hesitated to accuse a fellow human being of such crime.
He appealed to the passenger himself.  Was his presence to be accounted for by miracle or by sin?  The passenger confessed.  It was more in sorrow than in anger that the conductor requested him at once to leave.  This tram was going to be kept respectable.  The passenger proved , a halt was called, and the gendarmerie appealed to.  After the manner of policemen, they sprang, as it were, from the ground, and formed up behind an officer, whom I took to be the .  At first the sergeant could hardly believe the conductor’s statement.  Even then, had the passenger asserted that he had entered by the proper entrance, his word would have been taken.  Much easier to the foreign official mind would it have been to believe that the conductor had been stricken with temporary blindness, than that man born of woman would have done anything expressly forbidden by a printed notice.
Myself, in his case, I should have lied and got the trouble over.  But he was a proud man, or had not much sense—one of the two, and so held fast to the truth.  It was out to him that he must descend immediately and wait for the next tram.  Other were arriving from every quarter: resistance in the circumstances seemed hopeless.  He said he would get down.  He made to descend this time by the proper gate, but that was not justice.  He had mounted the wrong side, he must alight on the wrong side.  Accordingly, he was put out amongst the traffic, after which the conductor preached a sermon from the centre of the tram on the danger of and descents conducted from the wrong quarter.
There is a law throughout Germany—an excellent law it is: I would we had it in England—that nobody may paper about the street.  An English military friend told me that, one day in Dresden, unacquainted with this rule, he tore a long letter he had been reading into some fifty fragments and threw them behind him.  A policeman stopped him and explained to him quite politely the law upon the subject.  My military friend agreed that it was a very good law, thanked the man for his information, and said that for the future he would bear it in mind.  That, as the policeman pointed out, would make things right enough for the future, but meanwhile it was necessary to deal with the past—with the fifty or so pieces of paper lying about the road and pavement.
My military friend, with a pleasant laugh, confessed he did not see what was to be done.  The policeman, more imaginative, saw a way out.  It was that my military friend should set to work and pick up those fifty of paper.  He is an English General on the List, and of imposing appearance: his manner on occasion is .  He did not see himself on his hands and knees in the chief street of Dresden, in the middle of the afternoon, picking up paper.
The German policeman himself admitted that the situation was awkward.  If the English General could not accept it there happened to be an alternative.  It was that the English General should accompany the policeman through the streets, followed by the usual crowd, to the nearest prison, some three miles off.  It being now four o’clock in the afternoon, they would probably find the judge departed.  But the most comfortable thing possible in prison cells should be to him, and the policeman had little doubt that the General, having paid his fine of forty marks, would find himself a free man again in time for lunch the following day.  The general suggested hiring a boy to pick up the paper.  The policeman referred to the wording of the law, and found that this would not be permitted.
“I thought the matter out,” my friend told me, “imagining all the possible alternatives, including that of knocking the fellow down and making a bolt, and came to the conclusion that his first suggestion would, on the whole, result in the least .  But I had no idea that picking up small scraps of thin paper off stones was the business that I found it!  It took me nearly ten minutes, and afforded amusement, I calculate, to over a thousand people.  But it is a good law, mind you: all I wish is that I had known it beforehand.”
On one occasion I accompanied an American lady to a German Opera House.  The taking-off of hats in the German Schausspielhaus is , and again I would it were so in England.  But the American lady is accustomed to disregard rules made by man.  She explained to the doorkeeper that she was going to wear her hat.  He, on his side, explained to her that she was not: they were both a bit short with one another.  I took the opportunity to turn aside and buy a programme: the fewer people there are mixed up in an argument, I always think, the better.
My companion explained quite to the doorkeeper that it did not matter what he said, she was not going to take any notice of him.  He did not look a talkative man at any time, and, maybe, this announcement further discouraged him.  In any case, he made no attempt to answer.  All he did was to stand in the centre of the with a far-away look in his eyes.  The doorway was some four feet wide: he was about three feet six across, and weighed about twenty stone.  As I explained, I was busy buying a programme, and when I returned my friend had her hat in her hand, and was digging pins into it: I think she was trying to make believe it was the heart of the doorkeeper.  She did not want to listen to the opera, she wanted to talk all the time about that doorkeeper, but the people round us would not even let her do that.
She has spent three winters in Germany since then.  Now when she feels like passing through a door that is standing wide open just in front of her, and which leads to just the place she wants to get to, and an official shakes his head at her, and explains that she must not, but must go up two flights of stairs and along a corridor and down another flight of stairs, and so get to her place that way, she apologises for her error and off looking ashamed of herself.
Governments have trained their citizens to perfection.  is the Continent’s first law.  The story that is told of a Spanish king who was nearly drowned because the particular official whose duty it was to dive in after Spanish kings when they tumbled out of boats happened to be dead, and his successor had not yet been appointed, I can quite believe.  On the Continental railways if you ride second class with a first-class ticket you render yourself liable to .  What the penalty is for riding f............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved