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Victory of the Yacht America, in the great Race with the English Fleet of Yachts.
THE WORLD'S FAIR,
HELD N THE CRYSTAL PALACE, LONDON, IN 1851, TOGETHER WITH A DESCRIPTION OF
THE GREAT YACHT RACE, OFF THE ISLE OF WIGHT, IN WHICH THE
“AMERICA,” GAINED A SIGNAL TRIUMPH.
The Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, at London, in 1851, it is said, “will ever be referred to as the most stupendous conception of modern times.” The Crystal Palace, in which it was held, occupied an area of eighteen acres. The building was formally opened on the 1st of May, by her majesty Queen Victoria, with suitable and imposing ceremonies.
An extraordinary space at the eastern end of the palace was assigned for the exhibition of articles from the United States. This was sparsely filled, compared with the crowded apartments of other countries. While the signs indicating each of these were small and neat, that over the receptacle for American contributions, was a long piece of planed and painted lumber with the golden words "United States of America" in huge proportions, surmounted by a gigantic eagle with expanded wings. These peculiarities drew forth the ridicule of the English writers, who appeared, for the moment, to forget that even these were but properly characteristic contributions from a land generous beyond all other lands in wood and gold.
A few extracts will show the spirit with which Young America was greeted by the English press. On the very opening day of the exhibition, the London Times thus began with a fusilade :
"Our Transatlantic descendants, following out their New World instincts, have no idea of being jostled by other nations, or pinched for space, even in the Crystal Palace. While the industries of other countries have been screwing themselves up tight, and getting into the smallest possible compass, that of the. United States invites emigration from France--from ourselves--from the rest of Europe generally. Other nations rely upon their proficiency in the arts, or in manufactures, or in machinery, for producing effect. Not so with America. She is proud of her agricultural imple ments, which Garrett, or Ransom and May would reject as worthless ; she is proud of her machinery, which would hardly fill one corner of our exhibition, and upon the merits of which our civil engineers would not pronounce a very flattering opinion ; and she thinks a great deal of her first efforts in native marble by an untaught sculptor."
Two weeks later, the Times poured in a few more shot: "What idea of Jonathan is to be gathered from his notions ?' and can we detect in the offspring the lineaments of its parent's face ? England is not given to boasting and swaggering ; [?] she generally understates her strength, and studies moderation of language about herself, though she has some excuse for being proud. Her republican progeny are not so modest, if one may judge from the wings of that very aggressive American eagle, with which the eastern end of the nave is decorated. The king of birds is hovering over a set of notions,' spread out very sparsely beneath him; and the visitor is somewhat astonished to find him making so vast a demonstration over a space so unoccupied. The American department is the prairie-ground of the exhibition; and our cousins, smart as they are, have failed to fill it. They cannot yet keep pace with the great strides of the European industries, and even the seven league boots, if they had them, would not enable them to do so for some generations to come. They are growing, and will be a great community by and by. Let them therefore await the future with patience and humility.”
The unwise sensitiveness to these attacks, shown by the wincing of some of our countrymen, who could not "bide their time,” were “nuts » the Thunderer; so, a little later, he indulges in more amusement of the same sort.
"If the Americans do excite a smile, it is by their pretensions. Whenever they do come out of their own province of rugged utility and enter into competition with European elegance, they do certainly make themselves ridiculous. Their furniture is grotesque; their carriages and harness are gingerbread; their carpets are tawdry ; their patchwork quilts surpass even the invariable ugliness of this fabric; their cut-glass is clumsy; their pianos sound of nothing but iron and wood ; their bookbinding is that of a journeyman working on his own account in an English market-town; their daguerreotypes are the sternest and gloomiest of all daguerreotypes ; their printed calicoes are such as our house-maids would not think it respectable
Even their ingenuity, great as it is, becomes ridiculous, when it attempts competition with Europe. Double pianos, a combination of a piano and a violin, a chair with a cigar case in its back, and other mongrel constructions, belong to a people that woulil bei centaurs and mermen if they could, and are always rebelling against the trammels of unity. The Americans have no occasion to fret at the uncouth figure they cut beside their neighbors. A nation with a continent in its pocket can afford to be laughed at. After all the American section of the exhibition is the fittest possible picture of the geographical part, not merely as a fastidious European might describe it, but even as it would strike an American himself, in his progress from the Broadway to the Missouri or the Rio Grande."
Other papers followed in an echo of the Times, and the Illustrated News thus discoursed upon the “very modest Yankees :"
According to popular opinion, as taught by their newspapers, the United States were to carry off the chief glories of the World's Fair.' Now, as in the United States every one reads the newspapers, and many read nothing else, it was just natural that the people should fancy they were going to lick old worn out
Europe.' The result has been that the Americans were deeply inortified, and somewhat angry at the insignificant performances of their ow]] magnificent promises. On board an American steamer, in which a friend of ours made his passage from New York, in March last, every assemblage in the day, at dinner, breakfast, luncheon, and supper, brought out buld offers from the State's men’ of bets of many dollars, that their country would carry off the greatest number of prizes from all the competitors of the World's Fair. And we believe that, until the opening of the exhibition, the same confidence prevailed in all American assemblages. Can they wonder that we laugh a little, or can they doubt that this laughing will do them good ?”
It would be a miracle in human nature if the American people were devoid of the habit of boasting, for they are full of the vigor of youth, with a glorious past, free institutions, and a whole continent on which to work ont a magnificent future---if they but will. It is therefore only the logical consequence of their condition, for them to feel as if they could surpass all other nations in any field of enterprize which they may choose, and it should be no cause of complaint if they manifest the frankness to say what they believe they can accomplish. One consolation remains, that is, in time they may grow as modest as even John Bull himself, until they arrive at that point where, like him, they can boast of their modesty without a blush!
Before the close of the exhibition the tone of the English papers changed very essentially, and their commendation became as strong as had been their detraction toward the contributions of our young and progressive people. John Bull, self-sufficient as he is, when fairly convinced of his errors, acknowledges them with a heartiness that makes full amends for the bluntness with which he expresses his hastily-formed opinions. The exhibition proved a decided triumph for the Americans. We present á sketch of their successes in an abridgement from the report of Colonel Benjamin P. Johnston, agent of the State of New York, in which he sums up the results of the exhibition, and speaks more particularly upon those articles to which awards were assigned. We mention only the more prominent.
"It should be borne in mind that the exhibitors from this country were placed in a very different position from any other foreign country. The exhibition from the United States was made by the exhibitors themselves, without aid or assistance, in their preparation, from the government, was made by our citizens themselves, and showed their enterprize, their energy, their skill and ingenuity ; and when this was known, it was à matter of surprise to foreigners that we exhibited as much as we did. It was designed to show, as it did, that in this country "genius, industry and energy find no barriers to their career." The number of inventions exhibited which were calculated to reduce the cost of production in agriculture, manufactures and the mechanic arts, was in the highest degree creditable to us, and elicited from distinguished sources in Great Britain the admission that to "the department of American 'notions'' they owed “the most important contributions to their industrial system.”
In the early part of the Exhibition, the U. S. Department was the subject of much invidious remark, and our contributions were considered as far behind the times. Located in the buildings as we were, adjacent to France, Russia and Austria, there was indeed a striking difference in the appearance of the contributions from the different countries. While that from the United States was mainly of a character of utility in the Implement and Machinery department, and of the productions of the soil, the others consisted of the most costly articles, wrought with exquisite taste, silks, statuary, diamonds, jewelry, etc., which attracted the eye and called forth the warmest encomiums. During the first three weeks, while the admissions comprised only the wealthy classes, the United States Department was hastily passed over-a glance given, an inquiry made at the implements, a remark occasionally, "these may do for a new country, but would not answer in England-unless our mechanics have the altering of them, etc.," was the principal notice which was given them. In answer to these remarks upon our implements—the reply was frequently given that no " English Mechanic"> would have the privilege of practicing upon our implements, until they were tried, and we had the opportunity of showing what our implements could perform. It was not a very pleasant position, to be met with remarks similar to these, day after day, for several weeks. As the jurors, however, began to make their examinations, and as exhibitors and others interested in the articles on exhibition were called upon to explain to intelligent and practical men, what were the properties claimed for our articles, more interest was manifested in our department.
MACHINERY.-In this department, as was to have been expected, the English display a far more extensive assortment than all the other nations. The exhibition shows what perfection has been attained, and the beauty of finish and arrangement, is certainly worthy of all praise. Of machinery, of really new principles, there did not appear to me to be much in the English department. I was informed by a very skillful mechanic from our State, who examined the machinery with great minuteness, that very many of the most valuable improvements were taken from American inventions, and the very machines were named in which they were to be found.
A considerable number of Prize Medals were awarded for guns, rifles, etc., but strange to say, Colt's celebrated Revolvers, were only favored with an Honorable Mention, as appears from the returns I have. This is the more singular, when it is recollected, that the English press without an exception, so far as I am informed, gave great prominence to this most important and invaluable improvement of Mr. Colt, which has found great favor in England, and his rifles and pistols have been largely ordered for the use of the British army. There was an attempt made during the exhibition, to show that Colt was not the inventor of the revolvers, one having been found in Paris, I believe, of very ancient date. That may be so, for aught I know, but it is not the less true, that so far as giving efficiency and practicability to the invention, the world is indebted to him, and he is as truly and justly entitled to the credit of the invention, as if it had never before entered into the mind of another. Honorable Mention was also given to W. R. Palmer, for a Target Rifle, and to Robbins and Lawrence for Military Rifles.
Previous to the trial of our plows, a very erroneous idea generally prevailed among those who visited the Exhibition, as to what they could per