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By Jesper Gulddal (auth.)

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There are several half-outraged, half-satirical attacks on this habit in the two “American” books—in fact they make up as prominent a part of Dickens’s critique of the United States as his more weighty objections to southern slavery. ”38 Later, Dickens visits Washington DC, “the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva,”39 and is horrified to discover that spittoons are in place everywhere, even on Capitol Hill. ”40 Dickens was by no means the only European writer who took offence at the tobacco chewing and spitting of the Americans.

In the eyes of the Romantics, the vulgarity of Americans was also— and perhaps primarily—reflected in their religious customs. The United States had always been a deeply religious country. Many of the earliest settlers were Protestant dissidents, who had left England to be able to exercise their faith in safety from persecution. Tolerance and freedom of religion had therefore from the outset been fundamental concepts in American political thinking, which had effectively prevented the formation of a state religion of the European variety.

79 That it is in fact the voice of Stendhal himself that we hear in these harangues becomes evident if we turn to his drafts for a preface to the unfinished novel Lucien Leuwen (1834–35). The verdict here remains the same: “[T]he author would be in despair if he lived under the government of New York. He would rather pay court to M. de Guizot than to his shoemaker. In the nineteenth century democracy, in literature, inevitably leads to the reign of men who are [ . . ”80 Although they were fierce antagonists in the national and European setting, conservatives and liberals thus often came together around a pronounced hostility toward the young American republic.

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