A Question in Ethical Geography

—If there is, as legend says there is, such a thing, seen through Western eyes, as an “effete East,” what are its precise territorial limits ? In other words, where does such an East really end and the West begin ? Or, to state it still differently, at what point on the map may one, if so disposed, put one’s finger confidently down and say, “ Here is the spot where the effeteness of the arrogant East abruptly ends, and in its stead is the unexpended fecundity of a liberal, untrammeled West ? ” While the matter is not one that will, apparently, in the immediate future give rise to serious international complication, it is, nevertheless, of no little domestic moment, and may, at some distant day, even call for state interference and adjudication at the hands of a boundary commission, to be chosen from the impartial outlying districts in the extreme north and south.

In reality, the problem of geographical separation would be one extremely difficult to solve to the complete satisfaction of all concerned. It is, for instance, not merely a broad question between Maine and Oregon, between Eastport and Portland, or even, possibly, between New York and San Francisco. On general grounds, it might be admitted that somewhere in the intervening space the line would certainly fall. On a somewhat closer examination, however, it will be found that facts other and more minute than mere latitude and longitude must be seriously taken into consideration. It may even be not unfairly assumed that the fundamental idea of East and West itself is only relative, and cannot be thus recklessly applied. (Schenectady, where Daisy Miller lived, is west of Jersey City ; and we all know that Oshkosh lies far to the westward of Kalamazoo. If, in the inquiry thus set on foot, the reasons for the necessary distinction were still more closely inquired into, it might even be shown that they who have thoughtlessly used the epithet in question themselves may fall under its ban.

When the division is finally made, it must be wholly irrespective of any mere sectional prejudice, to which it should rise superior. The West, it may be supposed, will accept the judgment joyfully ; while the East, from the very nature of the case, will be sure, wherever the line is drawn, to regard it with its accustomed equanimity. Only those who, in a possible redistribution, may now for the first time be included under the term “ East ” will become even a little more intolerant than they who have longer borne the name. For purely practical reasons, apart from mere sentiment, the distinction here suggested ought soon to be made. It was on the island of Grand Manan, down in the Bay of Fundy, last summer, that a comment was made upon the scarcity in the community of young people of both sexes. “ How is it,” we asked, “ that we see so few young men and women here ? ” “ Well,” the captain replied, “ a great many have married and gone west.” “ West ? ” we said. “ To what part of the West ? ” “ Well,” said the captain, mostly to Boston.”