In an 1870 magazine article, "Saratoga," James contrasted the sophisticated European leisure class with the American men he found in the portico of the Union Hotel, in the resort town of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: "They come from the uttermost ends of the continent—from San Francisco, from New Orleans, from Duluth. As they sit with their white hats tilted forward, and their chairs tilted back, and their feet tilted up, and their cigars and toothpicks forming various angles with these various lines, I imagine them surrounded with a sort of clear achromatic halo of mystery."
In an 1884 story, "Pandora," a Jamesian party of upper-class picnickers returns to Washington, D.C., from a cruise along the Potomac: "There was some delay in getting the steamer adjusted to the dock, during which the passengers watched the process over its side and extracted what entertainment they might from the appearance of the various persons collected to receive it. There were darkies and loafers and hackmen, and also vague individuals, the loosest and blankest he had ever seen anywhere, with tufts on their chins, toothpicks in their mouths, hands in their pockets, rumination in their jaws and diamond pins in their shirt-fronts, who looked as if they had sauntered over from Pennsylvania Avenue to while away half an hour, forsaking for that interval their various slanting postures in the porticoes of the hotels and the doorways of the saloons."
In his 1884 story "Georgina's Reasons," also written during or shortly after his last visit to America, James once again suggests that the better sort of person does not chew on toothpicks: "It was not striking to Captain Benyon why Percival Theory had married the niece of Mr Henry Platt. He was less interesting than his sisters -- a smooth, cool, correct young man, who frequently took out a pencil and did a little arithmetic on the back of a letter. He sometimes, in spite of his correctness, chewed a toothpick…"