Our American Cousins (1)

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CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY CAUTION—ATLANTIC LINERS—RESPECT FOR THE OLD COUNTRY—COURTESY AND ATTENTION OF OUR AMERICAN COUSINS.


SO much has already been written about America that it might seem almost impossible to say anything more that is either new or interesting on the subject.  No country, however, undergoes such a rapid and marvellous changes.  Wherefore it happens, that what may be true of it one decade may be very unlike the truth the next.  For instance, many of the descriptions which Dickens gave to the public in his "American Notes," except in so far as they apply to some of the aspects of nature, are now totally inaccurate.  And even the aspects of nature, as civilization spreads further and further among the primeval forests or over the far-reaching prairies, are subject to the law of change.  Again, the impressions of one observer may be quite different from those of another.  Men have gone to America with prejudices against democratic institutions, and returned without them; while an operation altogether the reverse of this has been produced in the case of other wanderers.  For my part, I have here put down, with all honesty of purpose, the thoughts and ideas that suggested themselves during a few weeks' sojourn among our friendly and hospitable cousins.  But I ought to disclaim beforehand any right or authority to speak dogmatically about anything.  All I wish to do is to place on record my own experiences of a great and free country, whether they coincide with those of anybody else or not.  Let me add, too, that the statements I may make are applicable only to the limited area I have seen and traversed.  The territory of America is so vast, and its climate and productions are so varied, that it is practically a world in itself—a world of wondrous interest and attraction for all who ever have studied, or who ever wish to study, the political and social progress of the human race.  Hence it is that the facts which may present themselves in Maine or Michigan are necessarily different from those which confront the observer in Texas, Kansas, or California.  If the matter here stated be borne in mind, no question need be raised as to the accuracy of the representations contained in these pages.

    Access to America is now so easy, pleasant, and expeditious, that one is surprised the journey thither is not oftener taken than it is.  The great steamship lines—the Cunard, the Inman, the Guion, the White Star—are marvels of successful management.  Vessels belonging to these companies cross the Atlantic with all the regularity of railway trains.  If the time of arrival cannot be fixed, that of departure is always known weeks and months beforehand.  Little more than a week is needed to embark at Queenstown and land in New York.  The speed of the principal steamers is such that an average of more than three hundred miles per day can be reckoned upon with tolerable certainty.  Nor is the safety of the passengers less assured.  Experience, indeed, almost goes to show that one of the safest places in the world is the saloon or state-room of an Atlantic steamer.  Every possible attention, moreover, is paid to the comfort and convenience of the voyagers.  Those who are not afflicted with that terrible malady, sea-sickness, may sleep as well in a state-room of the Germanic or the Alaska as in their own beds at home.  The ventilation is so admirably managed that no one rises in the morning with the impression of having passed the night in a closet or a cupboard.  As to other accommodation, one may be as comfortable on board a steamship crossing the Atlantic as in an hotel on Broadway or the Strand.  The regular vessels which ply between Liverpool and New York, in fact, are vast floating hotels.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served with as much punctuality and profusion as in the best establishments on shore.  For choiceness and variety, a White Star dinner is a genuine banquet.  Soyer or Savarin would not be able to find fault with it.  But higher pleasures than those of the table may be enjoyed on the bosom of the Atlantic.  A well-stocked library is at the service of the passengers.  What can be more refreshing to the jaded mind than the companionship of a favourite author while reclining on the deck of a noble steamer, "rocked in the cradle of the deep," and protected by an expansive awning from the rays of a July sun?  Amusements also are provided for such as care for them—quoits, draughts, cards, and chess.  When the company is that way inclined, concerts and entertainments are improvised to while away the evening hours.  Sometimes there is rather more excitement than is good for the persons who participate in it.  Reckless play at nap or poker occasionally takes place in the smoking-room.  It is in the smoking-room, too, that pools are made on the running of the ship.  I have seen as much as £70 won in this way by the lucky owner of the winning number.  Sums as large are lost in frivolous games.  So it has happened that foolish passengers have landed in England or America without material resources till they could tender their letters of credit. [1.]  But it is, after all, only a narrow minority that comport themselves in this fashion.  Discomfort, of course, comes to gamblers and quiet folks alike when storms arise.  Still, there is little real danger on a well-appointed Atlantic steamer except from fogs when icebergs are about.  Everybody is anxious at such times, the officers of the ship most of all. [2.]  While on the outward voyage, we saw many beautiful icebergs, fantastic in shape and indescribable in colour; some of them, however, rather too close to be pleasant, especially as we were sailing through a fog off the banks of Newfoundland.  But on the return voyage our course was out in the Gulf Stream, where the water was as warm as the atmosphere, and where the heat was so intense that ladies came near fainting away on deck.  Objects of interest, apart from icebergs, may be seen every day on the ocean.  Now it is a distant sail, anon it is a shoal of porpoises, occasionally it is a shark or a whale; but sea birds—the graceful gull or the swift-flying stormy petrel—are with you every day of the summer voyage.  Altogether, I know of nothing more charming, or withal more healthful, than a voyage in good weather across the Atlantic.

    There is no country in the world, except his own, through which an Englishman will find it pleasanter to travel than America.  He is so kindly received, so hospitably entertained, I may say so affectionately treated, that he naturally feels as much at home as if he were in England.  Our cousins across the broad Atlantic, indeed, scarcely regard an Englishman as a stranger at all.  They certainly do not behave towards him as if he were one.  England is called the "old country," the "mother country," but never a foreign country.  And the respect paid to the old land is extended to the travellers who come from it.  Every courtesy and attention are given to him.  He is told to make himself, and is made to feel himself, perfectly at home.  If the visitor does not have a good time of it, or, to put it more emphatically, a "high old time" of it, it must be mainly his own fault.

    All that is necessary to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of an English visitor in America is that he should have a letter of introduction to a citizen of New York or Boston.  That single introduction, if my experience is a fair test of the experience of others, will be a passport to every city of importance and every place of interest in the United States.  The Americans have a pleasant custom, as one of them explained to me, of "passing their friends on."  It is this custom which makes a tour in America so entirely agreeable.  What happens to the traveller is usually this: He presents his letter of introduction to the merchant, or tradesman, or other citizen, say, of New York.  The recipient of the letter reads it, holds out his hand, and cordially addresses the visitor "Mr. Johnson, I am pleased to see you, sir.  Sit right down.  Anything I can do to make your sojourn here pleasant and profitable I shall be delighted to do.  This is my office: make it your headquarters.  Come right in whenever you have a mind to.  There is a desk: you will perhaps want to answer your letters.  If you require anything, ask for it right away."  Questions are then put as to the voyage across the Atlantic, the line of steamers in which it was taken, what the visitor thinks of the country so far as he has seen of it, how long he intends to stay, and whether he has or has not a programme of his tour.  It is ascertained in the course of this conversation that the visitor is interested in particular objects, and a point is afterwards made of showing them to him.  But before the places or institutions which he most wishes to see are visited, the traveller is usually taken for a drive round the city and its suburbs.  Americans are proud of their country and of their cities, and naturally take a pride in showing all they have to a stranger.  During that drive around, the traveller sees the parks, avenues, boulevards, and public buildings.  Then he is shown the various objects of most interest or importance in detail.  He is taken to the City Hall, and introduced to the Mayor; to the State House, and introduced to the Governor; to the Public Library, and introduced to the Chief Librarian.  All these gentlemen offer courtesies and assistance, supply him with information, and present him with documents that may be useful when he returns home.  Afterwards, he is taken to the fire department, to the college, to the museum, to the exchange, or to any other place of which he may have heard, or which he may express a desire to inspect.  Meantime, his conductor invites him to his club to lunch or dinner, if he has not already obtained his consent to spend the time at his disposal as a guest in the conductor's own house.  When the time for the visitor's departure arrives, he is furnished with introductions to gentlemen in Philadelphia, or Washington, or Chicago, or any other city he may have determined to visit.  There the same process is repeated "Mr. Johnson, I am happy to see you, sir.  I hope you will have a good time.  Anything I can do to make your visit agreeable," etc.  And so the traveller is passed on from friend to friend, each emulating the other in kindly attentions, until, loaded with presents, and overwhelmed with the evidences of good feeling be has everywhere experienced, he returns home with the very highest opinion of the cordiality and affection of the American people.

    If the visitor should happen to be a public character or a person of distinction, still higher attentions are bestowed upon him.  Dinners, entertainments, and receptions are got up in every city he passes through.  Also, as a matter of course, he becomes the guest of the Mayor of the city or the Governor of the State.  The Century Club, the Lotus Club, the Papyrus Club, and all the other clubs in the country, are thrown open to receive him.  He is, in fact, a welcomed and honoured guest in the varied societies which abound in the States.  Even Oscar Wilde was entertained as if he had been a representative Englishman.  Nor is it social courtesies only that are accorded to distinguished citizens of the old land.  As a rule, they are offered more than they can accept.  But there are some attentions that the modest and retiring traveller would perhaps rather avoid.  Every morning the local paper chronicles the fact that an eminent personage has arrived in the city, that he is the guest of a prominent citizen or staying at a particular hotel, that he purposes visiting this or that institution before he leaves the city, and that he intends to depart next day for a further stage of his journey.  A biography of the visitor, accompanied by a personal description, frequently follows these particulars.  Thenceforward a reporter is detailed to attend upon him as long as he remains within the radius of the local journal's circulation.  If his opinion is thought to be worth recording, he is invited to express his views on the subjects of the day—the Irish Question, the Extradition Question, the policy of Free Trade.  It is a custom of American newspapers to elicit from everybody anything that may be deemed of interest to the public.  And it is in pursuance of this custom that strangers are interviewed on matters they are supposed to know something about.  The duty of the interviewer is generally so courteously discharged that nobody resents the intrusion, however much he would prefer to be left alone.  But, after all, the publicity accorded to the movements of the eminent visitor is nothing more than the American mode of testifying to his importance and his distinction.  Whatever is done by our cousins in this way, or any way, is so kindly meant and so pleasantly performed, that the traveller in the States leaves the country with a grateful impression of its people and a tolerant opinion of its customs.


 
CHAPTER II.

CONTRASTS AND COMPARISONS —NEW AND STRANGE APPEARANCE OF THINGS IN AMERICA—TREES AND PLANTS—BIRDS—THE ENGLISH SPARROW—AMERICAN STREETS—AMERICAN LANDSCAPES.


LESSONS in humility are among the earliest fruits of foreign travel.  One soon learns that the world is a little bigger than it appeared at home, that the people who inhabit it have customs and ideas equal to ours, and that our own little corner of the earth is a mighty small fragment indeed.  The way in which one's vanity is corrected in America is this—The Englishman is soon detected there, owing to the existence of many points of difference between him and the natives of the country.  His speech is different, his manners are different, his general appearance is different.  He says "I think," instead of "I guess"—" Yes, of course," instead of "Why, cert'nly'—"I met our friend Johnson in Broadway," instead of "I struck our friend Johnson," etc.  While the Englishman smokes a pipe and carries a snuff box, the American smokes cigars and chews tobacco.  Again, the Englishman, as a rule, wears all the hair round his face, while the American, as a rule, shaves all off except his moustache.  It is these and other variations in aspect and habit that cause the English traveller to be easily distinguished from his American cousin.

    When the discovery has been made, the casual acquaintance on the steamboat, in the railway train, or among the loungers in the vast lobby of a Transatlantic hotel, very soon inquires from what part of England the stranger hails.  I was always in these circumstances proud to answer that I had the pleasure to belong to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, expecting, of course, that the name was sufficiently historic and renowned to indicate its geographical position.  It was often a little confusing, not to say amusing, to be then asked to explain on what part of the old island the old place was located.  Some had hardly heard of it before, others thought it might be in Scotland or in Wales, almost all had a vague notion that it was connected in some way or other with coals.  But one soon gets reconciled to the fact that Newcastle, ancient and famous as it is, is still, unlike its coals and its grindstones, not known all over the world.  And, after all, the unacquaintance of Americans with the situation of English cities is not more remarkable than that of Englishmen with the rank and importance of the great centres of population in the States.

    It is in the course of this interchange of information about the two countries that one comes to see that the education of the American youth in matters of English history has been somewhat neglected.  The history of the world, as the average American understands it, appears to have begun with the Declaration of Independence.  All beyond that is not so much history as mystery—not so much civilization as barbarism.  Here again, however, we have our deficiencies, since the average Englishman has the vaguest possible notions of the wealth, extent, and resources of the American Republic.  Was it not Cobden who said that our scholars, who knew all about a peddling little stream in Greece that was hardly big enough to supply water for a week's washing, know nothing whatever of the vast length and breadth of the great father of waters, the Mississippi?  If, therefore, there is room for a more thorough education in the one country, there is also quite as much room in the other.

    Perhaps the first thing that strikes the English visitor to America is the newness of almost everything he meets with.  If we travel on the Continent, we see cities as ancient and edifices as venerable as any we have in our own country.  But if we set foot in America, we see little but what is modern.  We can trace the oldest of our buildings back for hundreds of years; but nearly all the finest structures of America are the growth of the present century.  Those cities of the New world which are the most wonderful are those which have been created within the lifetime of people now living.

    It is not, however, the products of man's energy that alone strikes the Englishman as new and strange -newer and stranger than the objects one sees in travelling among people who speak a different language from our own. Many of the trees are different; most of the wild flowers are different; nearly all the birds that flit past us, with the exception of our old friend the sparrow, are different.

    The American forest in autumn is said to be one of the most gorgeous sights in nature.  The forests are beautiful in spring too; but I must confess that I was disappointed with the general size and outline of the trees in the States through which I passed.  There are, of course, in California trees that are the wonder of the world; but the oaks and elms in many parts of New England, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York are much inferior to those in England. [3.]  The elms of New Haven, which are famous all over the American continent, will not, I think, compare with the trees of the same species which adorn the parks and avenues of our old families here.  Nor did I see anywhere else such majestic oaks or beeches as may be seen even in our Northern Counties—notably at Alnwick or at Rokeby.  Whether on account of the climate or the soil, the trees of America seem to both grow and decay more rapidly then they do in England.  It is a singular fact, new to many Americans to whom I talked, that we can cultivate a far greater variety of shrubs and forest trees in this little island of ours than our cousins can cultivate in that vast continent of theirs.  While we have acclimatised the Virginia creeper, they have failed to introduce the English ivy.  I was warned, while in Connecticut, against touching, a creeper which is there called ivy, and which bears some resemblance to our own "rare old plant."  This creeper, which grows abundantly on the roadsides, is so poisonous that susceptible persons are injuriously affected even by the wind which blows over it.

    With few exceptions, the wild flowers of America are quite unknown on this side of the Atlantic.  The names they bear, nevertheless, are similar to those of wild flowers at home.  This is said to have arisen from the circumstance that the early settlers, seeing a plant which had some sort of resemblance to one they had left behind, gave it the same name.  The like thing has happened in the case of one of the best known of the American birds.  Because a certain kind of thrush happened to be adorned with red feathers on its breast, the early settlers called it the robin, though it has nothing else in common with our English favourite.

    Generally speaking, the American birds are less glorious in song, but more gorgeous in plumage, than our own.  The blue bird is a lovely object: so is the oriole.  As for the humming bird, it resembles a brilliant insect more than a bird at all.  The cat bird derives its name from the fact that its cry is very like that of the domestic animal, while the mocking bird is so called because it imitates with marvellous exactitude the song of every other member of the feathered tribe.

    It is, however, the sparrow that one sees oftenest in and around the cities of the North and West.  There he is as much at home as in his native land.  Though it is only a moderate number of years since his ancestors were introduced into Boston and New York, he has thriven and multiplied to such an extent that he flourishes over half the continent.  But there has risen up against him of late a strange feeling of hostility.  It is alleged to his discredit that he has not only driven away the native birds, but failed to discharge the duty he contracted to perform—the duty, that is, of ridding the country of troublesome insects.  As far west as Chicago, leading articles have been published in newspapers in denunciation of the pugnacious Britisher.  The cry has been raised, not merely of America for the Americans, but of America for American birds.  Before long we may hear of petitions to Congress for the expulsion of the impudent intruder.  But the intruder in question is happily unconscious of the animosity he has excited.  Nor is he likely to be in any way disturbed by popular clamour so long as the pleasant custom continues of providing him with free quarters; for Uncle Toby and his numerous family[4] will be pleased to learn that bird boxes may be seen in all parts of America—fixed in trees, erected on poles, or placed in nooks and corners of the houses.

    The difference in the aspect of things to which I have alluded applies also to the appearance of the streets, and even of the landscape.

    American cities for the most part are constructed on mathematical principles.  Washington, for instance, is laid out after the fashion of a wheel, with the Capitol for the centre and broad avenues for the spokes.  The newer parts of New York, next to London, perhaps, the busiest city in the world, are formed of straight lines and right angles.  Chicago, the real wonder of America, has been treated in much the same way.  And all are as unlike our own cities as one city can be unlike another.  Boston alone, of all the places I visited, from the irregularity of its streets and the habits and manners of its people, reminded me of England.  Beacon Street, which looks on to the famous Common, as Charles Sumner was in the habit of pointing out to English visitors, might pass for another Piccadilly, which looks on to the Green Park.  Elsewhere the straight lines of the principal streets, coupled with the square and lofty character of the buildings on each side of them, have sometimes a bewildering effect on the stranger.  Broadway, New York, as most people are aware, is a thoroughfare of immense length.  It is, I believe, from end to end somewhere about six miles long.  Yet few but a native would be able to tell on striking it whether he was on the upper end or the lower, except from the numbers on the houses and shops.  The same difficulty besets the stranger in Chicago.  When in the centre of that surprising city, I was never able to tell whether I was on Dearborn Street or Clark Street, Monroe Avenue or Washington Avenue, till I could distinguish the name of the thoroughfare on the public lamps at the corner.  The practice of numbering instead of naming the streets, common in America, has its advantages, though numbers are less easy to remember than names.  If you are told that your friend lives at 115, 155th Street, you certainly stand a chance of feeling perplexed.  But if, having made yourself acquainted with the order of progression, you come to 52d Street, and want to get to 71st Street, you know precisely how many blocks (the range of buildings between any two streets is called a block) you have to walk before you get to your destination.  The taste for numbering is so great that it has even in New England been extended to the designation of religious communities.  Emerson, it may be remembered, was the minister of the Second Congregation, and Theodore Parker of the Twenty-Eighth.  Besides the numeral arrangements of streets there is in some cities, as in Washington, an alphabetical arrangement also.  Here the thoroughfares on one side of a main avenue are called 1st Street, 2d Street, etc., while those on the other are called A Street, B Street, etc.  It was still more curious to notice that fractions were occasionally used—as 4½—Street.  Sometimes the system is complicated by the introduction of geographical additions—as East 15th Street, West C Street, etc.  A sort of compromise of the alphabetical plan has been adopted in Boston, where certain streets are named Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfax, and so on.  But enough, for the time being at all events, of the urban peculiarities of America.

    The country, however, has its strange appearances also.  There is in the States some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  Among the mountain ranges the traveller may see pictures of unequalled grandeur.  Even in less famous regions much may be seen that can only be admired.  Along the New York Central Railroad the views that are obtained of the Hudson [5] and the Catskills are charming, while the Now York and Erie Railroad, from New Jersey to the Falls of Niagara, runs for hundreds of miles through valleys as lovely and as picturesque as any in Devon or Derbyshire.

    But the ordinary landscape is altogether unlike that of England.  The chief reason of the difference is the absence of hedgerows, which are the glory of our own little island, and the geometrical formation of the agricultural holdings.  Even the maps of some of the States remind us of nothing so much as a chequer board.  Dr. Johnson used to say that one field was like another to him—if he had seen one, he had seen all.  Had the crusty old doctor travelled in America, he would have had more right to dogmatise in this fashion; for there, over wide stretches of territory, the fields (if they may he called fields) are nearly all of one pattern.  A series of oblong squares, divided by rail fences of the roughest and most common-place character, and disfigured here and there by the stumps of half-burnt trees, constitute a large part of the rural scenery of America.  Especially on the prairies, where the green and level plain reaches to the horizon, is this monotonous aspect of the landscape observed.  There the angular divisions I have mentioned gives the country the appearance of a vast cattle market.  Without that wealth of hawthorn and blackthorn, or that diversity of shape in the divisions of property, which makes our English scenery so pleasant to the eye, the American landscape, except where hills or forests lend enchantment to the view, frequently palls upon the fancy.

    There is, however, one feature which more than anything we have in England imparts a picturesque character to localities otherwise uninteresting.  Our own farm-houses are, for the most part, destitute of attractive qualities.  But the houses in the rural parts of America, invariably constructed of wood, and almost always painted in bright and cheerful colours, have in every case a pleasing, and in some cases a delightful, effect.  There is, of course, not much scope for architectural skill when cottages and mansions can ordered of any style from a book of patterns.  But, all the same, the general result as regards American scenery is certainly successful.  Since most of the houses are adorned with verandahs of various and fanciful designs, and since in summer time these verandahs are usually covered with the rich and abundant creepers of the New World, the residences of comfortable and prosperous farmers greatly relieve the monotony of the level districts of the West.

    Taken all in all, then, there is much more to cheer than to depress the traveller in any part of the settled territories of the Republic.


 
CHAPTER III.

PLEASANT ASPECT OF AMERICAN CITIES—NEW HAVEN—ROCHESTER —CLEVELAND—MILWAUKEE—NEW YORK—BOSTON—CAMBRIDGE—WASHINGTON.


WHAT I have already said about American cities is, rather by way of a contrast than of description.  What I have still to say is rather by way of description than contrast.  There is yet, however, one contrast to be noticed which is perhaps more interesting, and certainly more to the credit of the American people, than all the others put together.

    We Englishmen are a wonderfully exclusive set.  Many of us seem to have the notion that the participation of our neighbours in a given pleasure detracts from our own enjoyment of it.  Hence it is that some of our best pictures and other art treasures are immured in private galleries, which are never, or at any rate but rarely, thrown open to the public.  The same exclusiveness is manifest when we erect a suburban residence.  If a wealthy countryman of ours, especially if he happens to belong to Newcastle, builds himself a new house, he usually treats the affair as any other person would treat a fortress—that is to say, he surrounds it with walls sufficiently strong and sufficiently high to stand a siege.  It is, in fact, just as if he felt he had encamped himself in a hostile country, so gloomy and forbidding are the defences with which he repels the intrusion of the outside world.  It is this mode of dealing with private residences that makes some of our suburbs so cheerless and unattractive.

    I wish it were possible to transport the people who hide themselves behind repulsive ramparts to the suburbs of some American cities I could name.  There the very opposite policy is pursued. During all my wanderings in America—and I travelled over upwards of 4000 miles of that continent—I never saw a single wall erected for purposes of protection or exclusion.  Our cousins seem more anxious to exhibit than to conceal the good things they possess.  If they place any fences at all around their lawns and gardens, it is a mere wooden rail which any child can step over.  But the general practice is to leave everything as open to the public as it is to the proprietors themselves.  Lawns and gardens, therefore, stretch down to the side walks in precisely the same way as the grass plots in our public parks stretch down to the gravel paths.  Even some of the parks—as in Chicago, for instance—run along the side of the roads without any railing whatsoever.  One can easily understand from what I have said how much more pleasant the residential portion of an American city is than a similar district in an English town.

    A word or two now about the general aspect of American communities.  Our cousins are much more attentive than we are to the enjoyments of the population.  The municipalities accept it as part of their duties to adorn and beautify the thoroughfares of the localities over which they have control.  The result is that avenues and boulevards are everywhere constructed out of the public funds.  Even Brooklyn and Now York, which are probably the most ill-governed cities in the American Union, are supplied with abundant trees.  When a new city is laid out, attention is at once bestowed on those features of urban life which will make it an agreeable abode for all who settle in it.  It is a practice in some communities, as in Rochester, to remit part of the taxes if owners of property plant trees along the front of their premises.  So much has been done, and is yet being done, towards beautifying the outlying parts of Chicago (about which I shall have more to say in a future chapter), that many miles of the loveliest boulevards in the world have already been constructed, while plans have been formed for connecting the whole of the public parks surrounding the city in such a manner that no fewer than forty-eight miles of magnificent drives will eventually come into the possession of the people.  New Haven,[6] in Connecticut, known also as the Elm City, is so amply blessed with verdure that the view of the place from the East Rock gives one the impression of a town planted in a forest.  The same impression is produced when looking down upon the city of Rochester from Power's Block.  Rochester is famous for its waterfalls, which have been formed by the river Genessee in much the same manner as the neighbouring falls of Niagara have been formed by the river which connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario.  It was to this feature of the Flour City that Daniel Webster alluded when he made his celebrated speech congratulating the citizens of Rochester on their superiority over the Greeks and Romans, since neither Greece with all her culture nor Rome with all her power could boast of a waterfall eighty feet high?  Dr. Harwood Pattison, formerly minister of Rye Hill Chapel, Newcastle, but now a respected professor in the Theological College of Rochester, showed me the points of interest in and around that flourishing city.  When he took me to the top of an exceeding high building, I could hardly see the houses for trees.  Though a hundred thousand people have now found comfortable homes on the banks of the Genessee, a single wooden shanty, occupied by a pioneer of the name of Rochester, was so lately as 1812 the only abode of man for miles around.  Cleveland and Detroit, whose origin is yet more modern, are also reputed for comeliness and verdure.  Euclid Avenue, in the former city, along which the remains of President Garfield were carried to their final resting-place, would certainly be difficult to surpass.  To my fancy, however, there is no prettier town in either Europe or America than Milwaukee.  Its charming drives, its shady walks, its lawns and flower gardens, none of them enclosed, made it impossible to imagine that one was not strolling through a public park, instead of threading the streets of a thriving and industrious community.  Grand Avenue alone is several miles long, planted from end to end with three or four rows of trees.  Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Cream City of the West, so called from the colour of the bricks of which much of it is built, commands a view of one of the loveliest bays any traveller could wish to look upon.  Welshmen, Germans, and Scandinavians have made it their own, and they have made it the very picture of sweetness and repose.  I was driven around the suburbs by a native of the city, Mr. Evan Davies, and afterwards shown what else was of interest by one of the early settlers, Mr. John James.  As an evidence of the courtesy which is everywhere extended to the stranger in America, I may mention that the District-Attorney, Mr. Williams, was greatly disappointed that nothing was left for him to show me except the police court and the county gaol!

    New York and Boston, two of the oldest cities in America, are of course better known to English readers, at least by name, than any of those I have just mentioned.  They also are not destitute of attractions.  Without stopping to dilate now on the municipal government, or rather mis-government, of the Empire City, I may say that few people can visit the Central Park without being struck with its size and beauty.  Larger, I believe, than Newcastle Town Moor, it is laid out with great taste, planted with the choicest flowers, and adorned with statues and busts of the world's worthies—among them Joseph Mazzini.  The famous Fifth Avenue, which adjoins the Central Park, is probably, from the noble character of the private houses erected on each side of it, the finest thing of its kind on the face of the globe.  And yet there are other streets and avenues in its immediate neighbourhood which are almost equally impressive.

    But New York, in the matter of historic and general interest, is not to be compared to Boston.  It was my good fortune to have for a guide in the City of Notions a gentleman who, though many years have elapsed since he figured on its platforms, has still a wide circle of attached friends in England.  I mean Mr. George Julian Harney.  There was absolutely nothing worth seeing that Mr. Harney did not show me.  The interest he took in the business was such that I had more than once to protest against the trouble he was giving himself.  Though long resident in Boston, and pleased to entertain a stranger with vivacious descriptions of its public buildings, he is still too much of an Englishman not to feel annoyance and indignation when he notes anything that appears to indicate disparagement of his country.  Old South Church, perhaps the most celebrated edifice in Boston, which is associated with the names of Franklin and Whitefield and Warren, and in which the citizens of the last century assembled to protest against the tyranny of George the Third, bears on its front an inscription which the better taste and feeling of the day would not have permitted to be carved.  Next to the Old South, the building that I most wished to see was Faneuil Hall, "the cradle of liberty," where, in the days of the anti-slavery movement, Garrison and Emerson, Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker, denounced in burning words "the guilty phantasy that man can hold property in man."  This spacious old hall, plain and even common-place as it is, will always retain a memorable place in the history of political progress in America.  It was the gift of Peter Faneuil; it contains no seats, except on the platform; and it is reserved for the use of any body of the citizens who may think proper to apply for it.  Away at Charleston, on the other side of the Charles River, is another structure, also of a plain and common-place character, that must ever claim attention—Bunker Hill Monument.  Not less interesting on account of its associations is Boston Common, now a lovely and umbrageous park.

    But if the visitor wants to see greater and more umbrageous loveliness still, he must take a tram-car to Cambridge.  Harvard College is situated at Cambridge, as Yale College is situated at New Haven.  The academic buildings at neither of these places can be compared to the ancient and stately edifices to be seen at our own universities.  All the same the Cambridge of America is about as sweet a spot as learning could have chosen for its home.  It is, indeed, more like a park than a town.  The streets and roads are all avenues and groves.  One particular chestnut tree was so gorgeous in blossom at the time of my visit that the leaves were almost entirely hidden.  Not far from it were two other trees, the one famous in song, the other famous in history.  One was the "spreading chestnut tree" under which the "village smithy" stood; the other the venerable tree under which Washington took command of the Federal armies.  Near at hand, too, is Longfellow's house, surrounded by lilac bushes nearly as tall as the house itself, and diffusing, at the time I stood beneath them, an odour as pure and as fresh as the tendency of the poet's muse.

    The Old Bay State—the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bay—has played so great and exalted a part in the annals of America that there is some excuse for Wendell Holmes's humorous claim for Boston as "the hub of the universe."  The City of Notions, at any rate, is still the literary metropolis of the Republic.  A list of the poets, philosophers, and historians who have been born or reared in New England would comprise about nine-tenths of the literary men of America.  It is because almost all that is best in the States has either sprung from Boston or been influenced by its citizens, that one cannot but regret the eclipse it is threatened with from the increasing power of newer and less cultivated communities.

    The capital of the Republic is not unworthy of the great and prosperous country in which it occupies the first place.  Washington is an absolute creation of the Federal Congress.  Other cities have grown, but Washington was made.  The site chosen for the seat of government was well adapted for the purpose, though some of the lower around is said to be conducive to malaria.  Large ideas pervaded the founders of the city.  They provided for a development commensurate with the development of the nation.  Hence they placed the Public Departments so far away from each other that Washington was happily designated the City of Magnificent Distances.  The distances are still magnificent; but the intervening spaces have now almost all been filled up with handsome residences.  The streets and avenues are all broad, all planted with trees, and nearly all asphalted.  It is said that the average width is double that of the streets and avenues of Paris and Berlin.  Pennsylvania Avenue seemed to me even finer than the Champs Elysee's.  The management of the thoroughfares is placed in the hands of a Parking Commission, which has done its work so well that upwards of 67,000 trees have been planted under its direction.  Trees of the same variety are placed in each street or avenue, regard being had to the surrounding conditions.  For instance, preference is given in the lower locations to the California poplar, which, in its power of absorbing miasmatic exhalations, bears a strong resemblance to the eucalyptus, which cannot be successfully grown so far north.  The result of the Parking Commission's operations is that one hundred and thirty miles of shaded walks are provided for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Washington.  Many of the public buildings are splendid specimens of architecture.  The Capitol, however, overshadows them all.  Situated on an elevation in the centre of the city, it commands a clear and unobstructed view on every side.  Nothing can be finer than the prospect from the Capitol—the city, embosomed in trees, lying below; the broad waters of the Potomac beyond; and beyond the Potomac again the Heights of Arlington, where, around the ancestral home of the late General Lee, 16,000 Federal and Confederate soldiers lie side by side in one common graveyard. [7]   From the Potomac, too, the city has a charming appearance, crowned as it is by the dome of the Capitol, which shines in the sun like a globe of polished silver.  I have seen many of the capitals of Europe.  I have seen London, Edinburgh, and Dublin; I have seen Paris, Berlin, and Brussels; I have seen Copenhagen, Christiana, Dresden, and the Hague.  But I have seen none that surpasses for effect the City of Magnificent Distances.


 
CHAPTER IV.

RAPID RISE OF CITIES—STREATOR—FARGO—PULLMAN—HOSPITALITY IN THE WEST—GROWTH OF CHICAGO—THE GREAT FIRE—ENERGY OF THE PEOPLE—THE GRIP CARS—THE STOCK YARDS—A TASTE FOR BLOOD.


MIDDLESBROUGH-ON-TEES and Barrow-in-Furness, if we except Jarrow-on-Tyne, are almost the only examples in this country and in modern times of the sudden and rapid rise of populous communities.  The former town, as is well known, owes its development to the fortunate discovery of deposits of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills.  Fifty years ago, Middlesbrough, which now contains a population of 55,000, consisted of a solitary farmhouse.  The rise of Barrow is still more remarkable.  It, too, owes its existence to the manufacture of iron.  Some time in the month of February, 1855, I myself passed near the site of that now prosperous town.  A few poor cottages and farmsteads on a flat and somewhat dreary coast, though situated within a few miles of some of the loveliest scenery in England, were all that could then be seen.  But Barrow-in-Furness now contains a population of 47,000.  These instances of rapidity of development are so exceptional in England, as indeed in all old countries, that it would be difficult to recall any others of an equally striking character.

    What is the exception in England, however, is really the rule in America.  Cities rise up in that country almost in a night-time. [8]  It has taken Newcastle something like 800 years to attain to the dignity of a city; but that designation is bestowed in the New World upon organized communities, whatever the size of them, which may only have been formed within the last few years.  It is, of course, in the newer regions of the West that these phenomena are chiefly observed.  One or two examples which came within my own knowledge while in the neighbourhood of Chicago may serve to illustrate the almost magical character of urban growth in America.

    The city of Streator, about ninety miles from Chicago, situated on the banks of the Vermilion River, and on the edge of the Illinois coal-field, gives employment to a thriving and industrious population of ten thousand persons.  Yet it is only ten years since the place was nothing more than a name.  I was attracted to Streator because an old friend from Northumberland, Mr. Joseph Fairbairn, had taken up his residence there.  So many other natives of the Northern Counties have settled in the locality that Streator may almost be called a Northumbrian settlement.  As I strolled along the main street in the evening, I could almost fancy myself in one of the larger of our mining villages.  There were not even absent two or three intoxicated individuals, wandering in and out of the beer saloons, to complete the illusion.  Evidences of the rapid rise of Streator were to be seen in the unfinished state of the roads.  The side-walks, constructed of wood, were elevated as far above the roadways as a railway platform is above the engine track.  But there were not wanting proofs of energy and progress.  Already Streator can boast of two daily newspapers, two weekly newspapers, a public park, and several large and handsome school-houses.  Ten years hence, if anyone should happen to go over the same ground, well-paved streets, shady avenues, and imposing public buildings of various kinds, will no doubt give Streator an established and permanent appearance.

    Away in Dakota, a territory that was almost unknown twenty or thirty years ago, there has risen up within the last few years many flourishing communities.  Chief among these is a six-year-old city of four or five thousand inhabitants.  Fargo is described in the local Argus as "the biggest little city of its size in all the universe."  It is not only progressing—it is, as they say in the West, booming along.  Not the least indication of the enterprise of its inhabitants is the fact that some of its hotels and many of its stores are illuminated by the electric light.  Among the "Dakota Dots" in the Argus one day last summer, I noticed two items which prove that Fargo does not, even in the New North-West, stand alone in magnificent booming.  "Larimore," it was said, "expects to handle a million bushels of wheat next fall.  Pretty big expectations for a town that was not laid out last November."  The other item related to Wahpeton, "which was hardly laid out as a village a year ago," but in which a single firm had "paid more than forty thousand dollars freight on lumber alone since last fall."  Testimony to the fertility of the soil in that region was borne in a paragraph which related that "Uncle David Ash, one of the whitest men in Dakota," owned a "pie plant"—which is the American name for rhubarb--"with stocks big enough for fence posts!"

    A still more remarkable instance of the sudden rise of a flourishing community may be seen on the shores of Lake Michigan, within a few miles of Chicago.  I allude to Pullman—so named because it was established for the manufacture of the famous sleeping cars.  The city, which has now a population of ten thousand inhabitants, and which can boast of its churches, its theatres, and other places of amusement and instruction, was only a year and a half old when I saw it.  People go to Pullman as one of the wonders of the West.  Apart from its rapid progress, it has features of a most attractive character.  The factories, from an architectural point of view, are more like palaces than workshops, while the grounds surrounding them are laid out with all the taste of a public garden, rich with colour and redolent with the perfume of flowers in the summer season.  The residences of the workmen are in keeping with the handsome aspect of the rest of the place—pleasant, cheerful, and picturesque.  Pullman is really one of the most interesting of the newer communities of the North-West.

    But the real wonder of America, as I have already said, is the city of Chicago—pronounced, as I was once or twice corrected, Chick-aw-go.  I had letters of introduction from some old friends of his and mine to Mr. James Charlton, once a well-known public man in Newcastle, but now, and for some years past, the passenger agent of the Chicago and Alton Railway.  Knowing of my approach, Mr. Charlton sent me a cordial invitation to become his guest during the time I proposed to spend in his neighbourhood.  If I had been a prince, an ambassador, or a millionaire, I could not have received any more attentions than I afterwards experienced at his hands and at the hands of the gentlemen to whom he introduced me.  I was taken everywhere, shown everything, handsomely treated by everybody.  It is said to be the custom in some Eastern countries to present the visitor with anything that he happens to admire.  Some such custom seems to prevail in Chicago.  At any rate I was so overloaded with books, albums, and other gifts, that I was at last compelled to adopt an air of indifference towards many objects I nevertheless appreciated; for I really believe, if I had cried for the moon, a desperate effort would have been made to gratify the alarming whim.  Fond parents are not more anxious to please a spoilt child than were the friends I made in Chicago to attend to every want of mine.  Wherever I went—to the Public Library, the Fire Department, the Stock Yards, the Theatres, the Board of Trade—somebody volunteered or was detailed to bear me company, lest I should miss some point or feature of interest on the way.  Nor was there anything exceptional in the treatment I encountered in Chicago; for friends and acquaintances elsewhere behaved in much the same attentive manner, though it must be said that Mr. Charlton was particularly enthusiastic in discharging the duties of hospitality.  The only matter of regret with me was that I was not able, for want of time, to accept one half the courtesies that were not merely offered, but almost forced upon me.

    I am, however, wandering right away from the subject in hand—the marvellous story of Chicago.  That city boasts now of a population of considerably more than 600,000 souls.  It is in the central parts as solidly built as Grey Street in Newcastle.  Some of the buildings in these parts, indeed, are almost as high as Grey's Monument.  Its main thoroughfares are bordered by residences as substantial in character, and almost as palatial in appearance, as the main thorough-fares of the West End of London.  It is surrounded by beautiful parks, which will, as I have stated in a former chapter, soon be connected by forty-eight miles of boulevards.  And it has command, probably, of more railways than any other place in America.  Yet this city, so large in population, so abounding in wealth, and so rich in all the comforts and luxuries of life, though it has been subjected to disasters which, in one instance at least, practically obliterated it, is an absolutely modern affair.

    There existed at the beginning of the century, on the banks of the Chicago River, which then flowed into Lake Michigan, but which has since been diverted into the Mississippi, a fortification that bore the name of Fort Dearborn.   This fort was destroyed by the Indians in 1812.  For years after that event the red man was lord over the territories round about.  Three weeks before I visited Chicago—that is to say, on the 16th of May, 1882--a reception had been given by the members of the Calumet Club to the first settlers in that region.  Among the venerable men who were thus honoured was one who first saw the prairie land on which Chicago is now built.  Not a single white man lived at that time on the banks of the Chicago River.  The Hon. John Wentworth—familiarly and commonly called Long John Wentworth, on account of his remarkable stature—delivered an address on the occasion to which I refer.  "The year after the burning of Fort Dearborn," he said, "there came to this then uninhabited country a family without means.  A child began work by picking up the nails from the ashes of the burned fort.  That child is here to-night."  Medore Beaubien, the child in question, shared with other patriarchs the honours of the evening.  One of these others had built the first milliner's shop ever erected in Chicago, while a second had gone to Illinois before it had even been raised to the dignity of a State.  Referring to these ancient fathers of the city, Mr. Wentworth, who is himself as patriarchal in age as he is imposing in appearance, said, "We have here to-night a member of the first Board of Trustees when the town of Chicago was organized in 1833.  Here are voters in the Chicago Precinct of Peoria county in 1830, and one of the clerks of that election.  Here are residents of Chicago when it was not even organized as a voting precinct, and was part of Fulton county.  And we have at least one man who was here before the State of Illinois was admitted into the Union."  Mr. Philo Carpenter, who settled on the site of Chicago fifty years ago, and who was interviewed by a Chicago journalist on the anniversary of his settlement, paid 10s. an acre for 160 acres of Government land.  That block of land is worth to-day, at a moderate estimate, thirty millions of dollars!  Though it will be seen that Chicago is less than half-a-century old, it is now for population and extent the second city on the continent of America, while for spirit and enterprise it may fairly be described as the first.

    Young as it is, Chicago has suffered more, perhaps, from accidental calamities than any other city in the world.  It was so nearly destroyed by the great fire of 1871, that almost all we see of it now is the result of the last ten or twelve years' labour.  The fire, which was said to have been caused by a cow kicking over a paraffin lamp in a stable, broke out on the 8th of October in that year, and raged for three or four days afterwards.  My friend, Mr. Charlton, who was a witness of the terrible calamity, describes the fire as something unexampled.  The flames, he says, were like a living thing.  They did not creep—they leapt and bounded along.  It was really a flood of fire that swept over the city, leaving it a wilderness of blackened ruins.  The inhabitants had to fly for their lives as they would have fled before an inundation.  So many, however, were surrounded or overtaken by what may truly, in this case, be called "the devouring element," that no fewer than two hundred and fifty persons are computed to have perished.  Somewhere about five square miles of the city were laid in ashes; the ruins extended in a direct line more than seven miles; 25,000 buildings were destroyed; nearly 100,000 inhabitants were rendered homeless; and the loss of property was estimated to amount to not less than two hundred and ninety millions of dollars!  Scarcely a trace of that terrible catastrophe is now visible.  The only thing Mr. Charlton could show me in connection with it was a few charred timbers in a house on the outskirts of the city.  Another fire occurred on the 14th of July, 1874; but of this no trace whatever can now be seen, though property of the value of a million sterling was then destroyed.  Chicago, before 1871, was largely built of wood; it is now almost entirely constructed of stone, and marble, and iron.

    The calamity of thirteen years ago developed to an extraordinary degree the amazing energy of the inhabitants.  Instead of being paralysed or overwhelmed by the misfortune which had befallen them, they turned to the work of renovation ere the consuming flames had done their worst.  A contract for the rebuilding of his premises was made and signed by one of the citizens while his old place was still burning!  Other citizens erected temporary stores and offices on the hot and smouldering cinders of their former blocks.  While one part of the city was being consumed, it was no uncommon thing to see on the side where the fire had exhausted itself a painted board announcing that the business heretofore conducted on that particular spot would be immediately resumed.  One of these rude signs bore the inscription "W. D. Kerfoot: all lost but wife and children: energy!"  The rebuilding of the city was, in fact, commenced before the conflagration was extinguished.  Less than a fortnight after, more than three hundred buildings, some of them covering a frontage of over a hundred feet, were completed and ready for receiving goods.  A week later, four thousand houses were in course of erection in one district alone.  The wonderful enterprise of the people was so well known to their neighbours, that everybody seemed to feel the calamity would only have the effect of developing it anew.  A story which illustrates the estimation in which they are held in the adjoining States is related with some pride by the Chicagoans themselves.  A train from a town in Iowa, on the second day of the fire, was leaving for the scene of disaster, when a man, rushing up at the last moment, jumped on board after the engine had started.  "What are you in such a hurry about?" said a friend; "there's another train in half-an-hour."  "Oh, be hanged!" exclaimed the other; "they'll have the whole darned place built up again before the next train can get there!"  That the reputation of the people is well deserved may be gathered from two other facts besides those already mentioned.  The water supply is obtained from Lake Michigan by means of a tunnel two miles long, built under its bed.  To prevent any chance of pollution from the sewage of the city, the Chicago River, which formerly flowed east through the lake into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has been made to flow west through the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico!  Sanitary precautions also have impelled still more remarkable changes.  The situation of Chicago is naturally low and swampy.  But the whole city has been three times raised: so that it is now about eight feet above its original level.  The result of these improvements is such that Chicago claims to be one of the most wholesome places in the Union.  Indeed, a local paper every year devotes a leading article to prove that it has just pretensions to be considered a health-resort.

    Among the newest institutions of Chicago is what is called the grip car—first tried, I believe, in San Francisco.  Objection has been taken to it, not on account of its newness, but on account of its danger.  Several accidents, some of them fatal, have happened to persons crossing the streets; an outcry is being raised against the "man-killer"; and a newspaper, printed in the German language, has published a highly exaggerated picture of the slaughtering powers of the invention.  But neither the fatalities that have occurred nor the attempts that have been made to prejudice the public mind against the grip cars have had any effect in lessening the patronage extended to them.  The name given to the system will be understood if I explain the manner in which the cars are worked.  An endless wire rope, placed a couple of feet below the roadway, runs along the centre of the tram-track.  To this rope an appliance, forming part of the machinery of the car, and descending through a narrow slit in the road, is made to grip at the will of the driver.  When thus attached, the car of course travels at the same rate as the rope.  If it is wanted to slacken speed, the hold of the grip is relaxed; if to stop altogether, the grip is entirely released.  Accommodation for a large number of passengers is provided on the grip car itself; but several ordinary cars are fastened to it, so that a regular train is formed in the streets.  The grip system, so far, has been applied to a circuit of only about nine miles.  An engine of three hundred horse-power, situated at the suburban extremity of the line, works the whole affair.  Judging from the number of trains constantly running, and the number of passengers constantly being conveyed, the venture must be exceedingly profitable to the promoters.  Danger to the public, such as it is, arises from the difficulty of the conductors of the different cars in communicating with the person who manages the machinery of the grip.  But in a country like America, where law proceeds on the assumption that everybody is capable of looking after himself, and where even railways run through the main streets of populous cities, it is not likely that a great public convenience will be abolished merely because a few accidents have happened in the early stages of adapting it to the general use.

    Everybody who visits Chicago is expected to spend a day at the Stock Yards.  These Stock Yards, situated a few miles from the centre of the city, and covering many acres of ground, are probably the largest cattle markets in the world.  Thousands of cattle, sheep, and pigs are there bought, sold, and slaughtered every day.  I was conducted through the vast hog-killing establishment of the Messrs. Armour, the gentlemen who cornered the pork market a few years ago, and realised I know not how many million dollars by the transaction.  It is a sight to be seen once, and only once.  The pigs, or hogs, as they are called in America, are slaughtered, scalded, scraped, quartered, and prepared for the market—all in the space of a few minutes.  The doomed animals are hung up by one leg to a sliding hook, then passed on to the sticker, then plunged into boiling water, then scraped by machinery, then disembowelled, and then sent sliding down an inclined rod to another part of the establishment, where they are chopped into hams, and shoulders, and sides.  Even after the scalding and scraping process had been completed, the carcasses continued to quiver.  The appearance of the man who struck the death-blow with the steadiness and the regularity of a machine, as he stood in a pit covered with blood and up to his ankles in steaming gore, was the most horrible that can be conceived.  The thought crossed my mind, as I looked at him, that he would just as readily and as steadily cut the throats of so many human beings for a given number of dollars a day.  All the men about the place, indeed, had a forbidding aspect.  And the nature of the occupation has affected the character of the persons engaged in it; for I was told by the gentleman who acted as conductor that many of the men were gaol-birds, and that it was dangerous for a stranger to show himself in the neighbourhood after nightfall.  I was glad to get away from the hideous scene; but the sickening odour of the shambles remained with me for the rest of the day.

    Connected with these establishments curious stories are told of the effects produced on a certain class of persons who visit them.  Draughts of warm blood are recommended by some of the faculty in Chicago as a remedy for consumption.  Hence has arisen the custom of going to the Stock Yards for the purpose of quaffing the dreadful liquid.  Tender and delicate ladies are among the patients who sometimes try this disgusting remedy.  My conductor, who had studied medicine at Yale or Harvard, informed me that the feeling of revulsion soon passes away, that the patients get to like the drink, and that the artificial appetite it creates is even more overpowering than the passion for alcohol!  I could not help thinking of the story of the pet tiger whose savage instincts were suddenly aroused by the taste of the blood he had licked from his master's hand.  The experience of consumptive persons at the Stock Yards seems to indicate that mankind, even young and refined ladies, are not, after all, much removed from the beasts of the forest.

 


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FOOTNOTES.


1.     It may be as well to give a word of caution here.  Among the persons on board one of the steamers in which I crossed the Atlantic was a gentleman who was nearly always at the card-table.  A fellow passenger, himself an ardent poker-player, who had some suspicions of the man, told me afterwards that he had actually confessed to him that he made gambling on the high seas part of his summer business.  Of course the card-sharper was travelling under an assumed name.

2.     A writer in Harper's Magazine has suggested the appointment or a committee of experienced seamen to report on the best routes from Europe to America, so as to avoid those two great dangers of Atlantic steam navigation—fog and ice.

3.     My friend, Mr. James Charlton of Chicago, writing to me while the articles of which this book is mainly composed were still appearing in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, took a slight exception to what I had said about the American trees.  "You guarded yourself so well in your preliminary statement," he wrote, "that no fault call be found with you for any partial description.  Even if you had not guarded yourself, there would have been so far few things requiring correction.   One of those would have been your reference to our trees.  If you had been in the region of the Saginaw, Michigan, or in the timber regions of Northern Michigan, Lake Superior, and the Upper Ottawa, you would have been perfectly satisfied with the size and character of our trees.  Had you visited Ottawa, the capital of Canada, you would have seen, perhaps, the finest timber on the continent manipulated at the Chaudiere Falls there."

4.     Readers in the North of England will not need to he informed that Uncle Toby is the founder of a society of children—the Dicky Bird Society—which has been formed in connection with the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle for the promotion of kindness to all living things.

5.     The Hudson is also called the North River. Some years ago, while sailing up the Rhine, I was comparing notes with an American tourist.  "Wal," said he, in the inimitable tone of his countrymen, "the scenery is pooty elegant, ain't it?  But I guess our North River is just as handsome.  To be sure we haven't any of these old antiquated ruins; but I guess a contractor could fix up a few for us if we wanted 'em!"  Though the North River has no "old antiquated ruins" on its banks, many of the points commanding the best views are crowned by enormous hotels for the accommodation of summer visitors.

6.     New Haven, the seat of Yale University, is interesting on account of some of the regicides of Charles I. having found refuge there.  A cavern under the West Rock, where they hid from their pursuers, is still called the Judges' Cave.  A monument to one of them—John Dixwell—stands on College Green.  New Haven is also interesting from its connection with the traitor Benedict Arnold, who, before he became an officer in the colonial army, was a chemist in that city.  Arnold's shop sign and other articles used in his business are preserved in the Historical Museum.

7.     The Arlington estate was sold by the Federal Government, during the war between North and South, for non-payment of taxes.  It is now, as stated in the text, a vast burying-ground.  General Lee's heirs instituted a suit against the Government, not for the restitution or the property, but for the recovery of the value of it.  And the Supreme Court of the United States has recently given judgment in their favour.  The Court could scarcely do otherwise, considering the curious reason assigned for the confiscation.  It seems that the amount of the tax was originally tendered by the representative of the proprietor or the estate, who was then at the head of the Confederate army; but the Tax Commissioners took up the position that they would receive payment from no one but the owner in person.  The Judges of the Supreme Court held that the Commissioners had no right to impose any such condition, that they were bound to accept payment of the taxes by whomsoever tendered, and that the sale of the property in these circumstances was a taking without compensation, from which every Citizen, not Convicted of crime, is protected by the Constitution of the of the Republic.

8.      There is really no exaggeration in this statement.  M'Gregor, a town in Texas, was actually founded in a night!  When it became known one day in September, 1881, that two lines of railway were to cross a certain point in Texas; instant measures were taken to establish a settlement in the locality indicated.  "Next morning the place was staked out in town lots, with all the details of streets, squares, etc."  Soon afterwards shanties were seen on the prairies moving with all speed on rollers towards the new town.  Twelve houses were under construction on the second day, while the owners camped around in tents.  Within two months M`Gregor contained 170 houses, with a population of 500 souls!  Before another month had expired the inhabitants had all their doings recorded in the columns of the M'Gregor Plandealer.  Nor was this the only indication of Texan enterprise.  Simultaneously with the establishment of M'Gregor, two other towns were started—one within two miles, and the other about three miles distant.  And now, it may be supposed, all three communities are booming along at a rate that "defies competition."

 


 

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