One might enumerate the items of high civilization, as it exists in other countries, which are absent from the texture of American life, until it should become a wonder to know what was left. No State, in the European sense of the word, and indeed barely a specific national name. No sovereign, no court, no personal loyalty, no aristocracy, no church, no clergy, no army, no diplomatic service, no country gentlemen, no palaces, no castles, nor manors, nor old country-houses, nor parsonages, nor thatched cottages nor ivied ruins; no cathedrals, nor abbeys, nor little Norman churches; no great Universities nor public schools—no Oxford, nor Eton, nor Harrow; no literature, no novels, no museums, no pictures, no political society, no sporting class—no Epsom nor Ascot! Some such list as that might be drawn up of the absent things in American life.
Henry James (1843–1916), U.S. author. Hawthorne, ch. 2 (1879).
"The American knows that a good deal remains," added James: "what it is that remains—that is his secret, his joke, as one may say." Nearly thirty-five years later, in a letter, April 1, 1913, to his sister-in-law, James wrote, "Dearest Alice, I could come back to America (could be carried on a stretcher) to die—but never, never to live."