“The American Girl”
“Put roughly, what chiefly strikes the stranger in the American woman is her candour, her frankness, her hail-fellow-well-met-edness, her apparent absence of consciousness of self or sex, her spontaneity, her vivacity, her fearlessness. If the observer himself is not of especially refined or delicate type, he is apt to first misunderstand the camaraderie of an American girl, to see in it suggestions of a possible coarseness of fibre. . . . But even to the obtuse stranger of this character it will become obvious . . .that he can no more (if as much)dare to take liberty with the American girl than with his own countrywoman. The plum may appear to be more easily handled, but its bloom will be found to be as intact and as ethereal as in the jealously guarded hothouse of Europe. He will find that her frank and charming companionability is as far removed from masculinity as from coarseness; that the points in which she differs from the European lady do not bring her nearer either to a man on the one hand, or to a common woman on the other. Her will find that he has to readjust his standards, to see that the divergence from the best type of woman hitherto known to him does not necessarily mean deterioration; if he is of an open and susceptible mind, he may even come to the conclusion that he prefers the transatlantic type!
James Fullarton Muirhead
Land of Contrasts: A Briton’s View of His American Kin (1898)
“With a flash of laughing defiance, the girl bares her wrist, throwing into relief muscles like harp-strings. ‘I can row six miles without fatigue’ she says, ‘and walk ten. I can drive and swim, and ride twelve miles before breakfast on a trotting horse. I eat heartily three times a day, and sleep soundly for eight hours of the twenty-four . . .”
What Shall We Do with Our Dughters? (1876)