UNDER the title of “The Social Hegemony of England,” Sidney Whitman gives a notable bit of evidence in the North American Review as to the influence of England on the world, even in such matters as the cut of a coat or the vocabulary of sport. Mr. Whitman attributes what he calls England’s Social Hegemony to two facts—first, that the foreigner until recently only knew England by the wealthy Englishmen, who traveled abroad ; and, secondly, that to the distinguished foreign visitor England consists of the West-end of London, Cowes and country houses. There are, however, other causes :
The English language is extending its boundaries abroad in social and commercial directions. English has long been compulsory in Norwegian schools, and is about to become so in German gymnasia. In our day Englishmen have taken the place of Frenchmen in the personal favor of northern Royalty.
Finally, the English tongue is in daily use in more than half the Royal families of Europe, and English nurses are the earliest teachers of their offspring.
Within the present generation England may be said to have usurped and finally taken over the part of Mentor of Fashion. The Austrian or the Hungarian aristocrat is never happier than when he is dressed up like an Englishman, looks like an Englishman, and is mistaken for one. If oï high degree, he and his family in all probability speak English and read English novels. Their trainers, coachmen and valets are often Englishmen.
Every smart officer on the continent wears mufti made in London :
His clothes are English in cut ; many of his class have their garments made in London, as an inspection of the leading West End tailors’ cutting-rooms plainly shows : for within a stone's throw of Bond Street are to be seen the patterns of half the Almanach de Gotha. All that is left of the Crusaders as regards ‘•measurements” may be inspected here.
Continental watering-places are overrun with English amateur athletes, in the same way as they used to be patronized by French, Spanish, Greek, and South-American “punters” in the good old gambling days. There are the champion golf, croquet, and tennis players, strutting about in their flannels and “knickers.” There is scarcely a harbor in Europe in which at some time of the year a sumptuous English private yacht, with its spick and span crew, is not to be seen and admired.
The fascination -which London has exerci-sed of recent years upon foreigners of rank and wealth is one of the most striking features of the social dominion of England. An Ambassadorship in London which was once looked upon more or less as a penance by distinguished diplomatists, if only on account of the English climate, is now the great prize of the diplomatic service. London has displaced Paris as the centre of luxury and fashion, to which come during the season the rank and wealth of the whole world.
Has not a foreign monarch recently declared that he was in uncertainty whether he would not rather be an English country gentleman than a monarch in his own country ? The sentiment of worship of their “betters” has not yet died out among the English people. The popularity of an English Duke of sporting proclivities is a thing unparalleled all the world over. England is an ideal resort for the foreign millionaire and his class. He meets everywhere with a deference to rank and wealth, on the part of the community at lajrge, with which he has not been surfeited in his own country.
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