Friday, September 6, 2013

Grand Duke Alexander does not like the rush

September 6, 1913

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia, cousin and brother-in-law to Nicholas II, checked into New York's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. after spending some time in Newport.

He was asked by a New York Times what he thought of "our little town."

"You ask me as if I were a stranger," the Grand Duke said.  "I am not. Let me confess that I have been in American before. It was, however, sometime ago.  Let me see -- it was about twenty years ago that I visited this country.  At that time I saw a great deal.

"Since then I have kept informed of the march of events in New York and the rest of the country, as I have done with respect to what goes on in other countries.  I have read books, I have read descriptions of what was being done.  I have talked personally with Americans.  So that nothing I have beheld this time has filled me with surprise, and for me there is nothing new beyond the fact that I have actually seen what I have read or heard described.

"Of course, one might comment upon your tall buildings, but then they are only someone talker than the buildings I saw when I was here before.  You have grown, and your buildings have grown up in the air, as trees would.  I may tell you that when I was here before I spent something like six months in the country, and I saw a great deal of it.  Then, as I said, I have kept pace with everything that has been going on, so that there is nothing really new for me.  I like America and New York very much.

"There is one thing in America, however, which I cannot say I wholly enjoy. That is the rush, the hurry that is characteristic of everything and everywhere.  There is plenty of time.  Why not take things a little more quietly? One is always in a hurry here.  Even at Newport I noticed that the rush was always characteristic.  You rush in business; but why should you rush when you are supposed to be at leisure and you are having your pleasure -- your holiday?  Your men, in this way, do not enjoy your youth when it is theirs.  Each wants to rush through everything, and thus he grows old before his time.  Perhaps they make money, but then what is money unless it can be property spent, and what is the use of acquiring great wealth if you cannot live to enjoy it?"

While in Newport, the Grand Duke was a guest of Mrs. John Astor.   He is on record for saying that he regards American women as "the most beautiful in the world.

But he noted that American women to not hurry at the same pace as "their fathers and husbands.

"With them it is different. The American women take more time for the better things of life.  They sing well, they dance well. They are beautiful and charming. In brief, they are exquisite.

"You ask me whether I have found changes in New York in twenty years. Such changes as there are  are only those that have come from growth.  New York is a delightful city, except that I do not like the rush.  I shall say some days here -- perhaps four or five -- and then I shall go back all the way to Europe again.  I have enjoyed my visit very much.  No, I have not received any new impressions that are absolutely new.  I was prepared for what I saw."

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