The Rolling Stones tour reminds me that the decline and fall of America is now at least half a century old:

"There isn't any reason in the world why we can't do as well in this farewell business as any other country on the face of the globe. We have the farewellers and the people to say farewell to. If I can only keep it up I will be even with my competitors by the Spring of 1922, and by the Winter of 1937 I will be well in the lead."

William Gillette had it right. He was making the comment about the ability of European performers (the Divine Sarah being the most notorious) to do endless retirement tours; but it could have been said about our country as well. Gillette fits H.C.G. Mathew's description of Lord Palmerston (the greatest of Britain's first ministers): "an aristocrat, a reformer, a free-trader, an internationalist, and a chauvinist".





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