Our American Cousins (7)

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CHAPTER XXX.

WORKING MEN'S MOVEMENTS—THE GREAT RAILWAY STRIKE—THE MOLLY MAGUIRES—RICH AND POOR—VANDERBILT—JAY GOULD—WORKING MEN'S DEMONSTRATION—A LABOUR CONVENTION—THE KNIGHTS OF LABOUR—UNLIMITED GREENBACKS—HOSTILITY TO THE CHINESE—CHINESE LAUNDRYMEN —STATE AND TREATMENT OF THE NEGROES—SOCIALISTS—DENIS KEARNEY—OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBILITIES FOR THE POOR.


AMERICA is not free from those outbreaks of industrial warfare which occasionally disturb more ancient countries.  Strikes, indeed, assume at times a much more violent and dangerous form in the New World than they do in the Old.  The great railway strike of 1877 was really in its extent and its devastations a civil war.  Property worth thirty millions of dollars was destroyed; the civil authorities were paralysed; and when the military attempted to prevent the wanton ravages of the rioters, pitched battles were actually fought, the killed and wounded on each side amounting in some cases to the losses sustained in a warlike encounter.  The outrages committed by the Molly Maguires, who composed the Pennsylvania section of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, were the result of a conspiracy rather than a combination.  So far as the organization of the Mollies may be considered a trades movement at all, it resembled that which the infamous Broadhead conducted in Sheffield some years ago.  The conspirators, however, who all belonged to one race, made fierce and relentless war against the managers of mines and ironworks.  A gentleman who occupied this unenviable position at Scranton told me many extraordinary stories of the desperate encounters he and his workpeople had had with Mollies in ambush.  It was a fact, he assured me, that certain divisions of the organization were known even to the members as "murder committees."  A successful murder was called a "clean job."  More horrible still, there were sometimes rival claimants for the honours and rewards bestowed on the assassins!  Innumerable crimes were traced to the secret operations of the conspirators.  It was only when traitors and spies found their way into the secret councils of the Molly Maguires that one of the most formidable conspiracies of modern times was disrupted and destroyed.  The later strikes in America, however, I am glad to say, as that of the ironworkers to which I referred in the last chapter, have been conducted with little violence and less bloodshed.

    The contrast between rich and poor in America, which is more marked there than it is even in England, has induced a large portion of the working classes to associate themselves with the Socialist movement.  Rich men are both richer and more numerous among our cousins than among ourselves.  Mr. Vanderbilt, for instance, is reputed to be worth forty or fifty millions sterling.  The fortune of Mr. Jay Gould is estimated at a hundred million dollars.  The other kings of Wall Street—Russell Sage, Cyrus Field, etc.—can also boast of many millions of money.  The wealth of these gentlemen consists chiefly of railway and similar stocks.  Millionaires are as common in the mining districts of Colorado and Nevada as they are in New York.  Some of the silver kings have risen suddenly from humble positions.  One of them was a bar-tender—what we would call a barman—in California not so many years ago, while another was once a labourer in the silver mines.  The ostentatious display of wealth on the part of a few of the great capitalists—notably in the case of the younger Vanderbilt, who has erected a magnificent palace in New York, and in the case of Mr. Gould, who is spending a quarter of a million dollars on a new steam yacht—has encouraged wild notions of some sort of levelling process in the minds of certain members of the working classes. [20]  It is not a little unfortunate, albeit perhaps not at all wonderful, that many of the labour organizations in the United States set up claims which cannot be realised without social convulsion.  Twenty thousand working men paraded the streets of New York on the 5th of September 1882.  Among the mottoes inscribed on the banners borne in the procession were these:—"Labour pays all Taxes," "Labour built this Republic: Labour shall rule it," "To the Workers should belong the Wealth," "Pay no Rent."  About the same time a Labour Convention was held in Philadelphia.  The Convention was attended by one hundred and twenty delegates from the trades unions of Pennsylvania, was presided over by John Jarrett, president of the association which was then conducting the great strike of ironworkers, and culminated in the adoption of an elaborate platform of principles—some of them moderate and attainable, others extravagant and impracticable.  It was demanded that a lawful day's work should be limited to eight hours, that all children under fourteen years of age should be excluded from the workshops, that equal rates of pay should be given to both sexes, that it should be made a penal offence to import labour under contract for the purpose of reducing American labour, and that the Government should enact a purely national circulating medium by issuing unlimited greenbacks!  The two points on which the organized working men of America appear to insist, apart from matters directly concerning their own interests, are the expulsion of Chinese immigrants from the country and the establishment of a system of currency reform which would probably in a very short time create infinite confusion.  These two demands lie at the bottom of the changes which are sought by the great secret organization known as the Knights of Labour—an organization which conducts the political work for the various trades societies, which was originally formed at a meeting of six cloth-cutters in Philadelphia in November, 1869, and which now claims to command the power of 1,306,000 members.  The motto of the Knights is, "Labour built the World; Labour must own the World."  A branch of the society is called the League of Deliverance, "organized by the united labour elements of the Pacific Coast, in convention assembled, under the auspices of the Trades Assembly, for the purpose of—1. Preventing further Chinese importation; 2. Removing those Chinese now here."  The organ of the Knights of Labour in San Francisco has printed and reprinted this remarkable sentiment:—"He who employs Chinese labour or encourages it makes prostitutes of American women and thieves of American men."  The announcement in the same paper of the "first grand annual picnic of the Anti-Chinese Laundry Association" contained an engraving of America blowing a Chinaman from a gun, beneath which was the following doggerel:


Blow loud your trumpets,
    Beat well your drums,
And let the cannons roar;
    The Mongolian Hordes
Shall never again
    Invade our Golden Shore.


    The antipathy to the yellow race which is exemplified in these lines is naturally calculated to lead at some time or other to scenes as violent and as repulsive as those which were witnessed in New York when black men were hung to the lamp-posts in the streets, and when the veriest scum of that city burnt down the Negro Orphan Asylum.  Negroes were hated at that time by the lowest class of labourers because they constituted a competing power.  A like reason now impels the same class to turn their wrath against the Chinese.  There may or may not be good and sufficient reasons for preventing an irruption of Mongolians, since such an irruption might in time seriously affect the fortunes of the Republic; but I am bound to say that the Chinamen whom I saw in all the large cities I visited seemed to me a perfectly harmless and inoffensive class of people.  There is no doubt of their industry; nor is there more doubt of their orderly and unobtrusive behaviour.  The Chinaman, in fact, so far as I could see or hear, was a model citizen.  Much of the laundry work performed in the chief cities has fallen into his hands.  And so well does he execute this service, that a man whom I casually met near Bunker Hill Monument informed me that a white shirt washed and ironed by a Chinaman would keep clean a day or two longer than the same article if washed and ironed by native laundresses.  The Chinese, however, whatever their numbers, live as a class apart, mingling in no way with the ordinary population.  Strangers in a strange land, there is little likelihood that they will ever be anything else.  The isolation which appeared to be characteristic of the Chinese in America was characteristic also, though in a lesser degree, of the negroes.  It was a rare thing to see negro men or women in the company of any other than members of their own race.  And yet the negroes with whom I conversed were as agreeable and as intelligent as any portion of the community.  It is true that at times they appear to show more of the frolicsome attributes of children than the white people; but I noticed in their conversation none of that peculiarity of dialect which is invariably associated with the minstrels of our concert halls.  I inquired of a negro waiter in the Capitol at Washington whether black men had now any reason to complain of the treatment they received.  His answer was satisfactory—"None at all, sir."  An official connected with the same building—a negro of marked intelligence—assured me that the prejudice against his race was rapidly dying out, at least in that part of the Republic.  "Was there," I asked, "an equality between black and white about there?"  "Yes, sir," he answered, "measurably so."  Even in New York, where a dark skin was once treated as a sort of crime, the decline of race hatred is indicated by the fact that special schools for coloured children are about to be abandoned.  The negro is proving himself so good and acceptable a citizen that the day may not be distant when black men will hold some of the highest offices in the State.  Only twice did I hear any vile abuse of the coloured population.  Once the speaker was an emigrant from the North of England; the speaker in the other case was a doctor from New York.  Everybody else, within the limits of my observation, appeared to treat the once unfortunate slave-race with consideration and respect.

    The Socialism of Robert Owen and Louis Blanc is very different from the Socialism which finds favour in America.  Owen's followers in England have covered the country with co-operative societies.  If the followers of Louis Blanc have not performed a like service for France, they have at least abstained from terrifying the timid.  While co-operation is but little known in America, and in some parts not even known at all, the men who call themselves Socialists spend their time in propagating revolutionary and anarchical ideas, advocating the use of dynamite, and threatening to destroy everything in order that no body may own anything.  There can be little doubt that these furious fanatics would overturn the American Republic, just as similar fanatics overturned the Spanish Republic.  The operations of the secret societies which flourish in some of the large cities across the Atlantic would make orderly progress impossible, since no distinction is made between laws which are imposed by a despot and laws which have received the sanction of a free people.  As everybody knows, progress that is not orderly is apt to end in reaction.  Some years ago an Irishman named Denis Kearney obtained great influence among the working people of California on account of his advocacy of the expulsion of the Chinese.  The language he used was even more violent than the policy he supported.  "I now appeal to you," he said, addressing a crowd in the sand-lots of San Francisco, "to get ready; for, by the eternal God, the men we have elected must be seated, and by physical force, if necessary.  I have told you for two years that when the ballot failed I would resort to bullets.  All that is left to you now is the dagger and the bullet.  Arm yourselves with rifles, hatchets, pistols.  I know a thousand or two of us will get killed, but all the thieves will get killed.  When the melee is over, you bet there won't be a Chinaman left in China Town."  Nothing, however, came of this ferocious talk.  And now, as I was informed by a San Francisco gentleman, Mr. Kearney, accredited with having amassed a fortune of 40,000 dollars, has so far fallen out of public favour that he is both hated and despised by the very classes he once misled.  It has happened recently that men of Mr. Kearney's temperament have publicly advised the assassination of capitalists and the plunder of banks and stores.  But even less attention has happily been given to these ravings than to the outrageous counsels of the San Francisco orator.

    Working people who are natives of America pay little or no heed to the apostles of violence and disorder.  What countenance is given to preposterous theories comes from men who are aliens to the country, strangers to its institutions, and out of harmony with the spirit which has made it one of the greatest nations on earth.  The intelligent and sensible portion of the working classes, who constitute, of course, the great bulk of the population, see clearly, as everybody who visits America cannot help seeing, that there are opportunities and possibilities in the States for the honest and the industrious labourer such as are nowhere else presented to the poor.  The condition of the labourer, hopeless in many parts of Europe, is, except in time of crisis and depression, at least cheerful in America.  Moreover, the worker has not to endure "the proud man's contumely"; for he is at least the political equal of the richest in the Land.  As every French soldier is said to carry a marshal's baton in his knapsack, so every native-born citizen of America may be said to have within his reach the chair of the President of the Republic.  It is this sense of his own importance as a member of a great community that makes him revere and cherish the country of his birth.


 
CHAPTER XXXI.

LORD MACAULAY'S PREDICTION—THE GREAT REBELLION—DISBANDMENT OF THE FEDERAL ARMIES—PRESIDENT LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG—THE STANDING ARMY—SHERMAN AND GRANT—SPEECH OF WENDELL PHILLIPS—DANGERS TO THE REPUBLIC—FOREIGN HORDES—PROPOSED SALE OF IRISH VOTES—"THE WORST FOES OF THE COUNTRY"—THREATENED CHANGE OF POLICY.


THE late Lord Macaulay adventured the prediction that the American Republic would in no long time end in failure.  I forget now the reasons he assigned for this speculative opinion; but these reasons are of no great consequence, since the prediction itself is not only unfulfilled, but likely to remain unfulfilled for a long while yet.  The United States did indeed come very near to disruption twenty years ago.  Some of our Tory orators exultingly declared at the time that the Republican bubble had burst.  If the slave-owners could have succeeded in separating the Southern from the Northern States, the European system of large armaments, of embattled frontiers, and of periodical wars would have been introduced into America.  And monarchy and despotism would probably not have been long in following.  But the patriotism of the American people saved the nation from that calamity.  It is altogether doubtful whether any monarchy in Europe could have passed through a crisis so terrible and prolonged as that which the American Republic experienced, and survived the shock and uproar.  The Republic, however, emerged from the struggle stronger and freer than ever.  What is perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the vast armies which had entered the field to put down the rebellion returned to the peaceful pursuits of life without causing any disturbance whatsoever.  The conduct of the Federal soldiers, indeed, is deserving of the eloquent and graceful praise which Macaulay himself has bestowed on the disbanded troops of our own Commonwealth.  A people who could make such sacrifices and undergo such toils to maintain the institutions bequeathed to them by the Fathers of the Revolution would be the last in the world to shrink from still greater sacrifices and still heavier toils in order to perpetuate them.  The touching and enduring appeal which Abraham Lincoln made in his first inaugural address to his "dissatisfied fellow-countrymen" will inspire future generations when times of trouble arise.  "See to it," said Lincoln, two years later at Gettysburg, "see to it that government of the people, for the people, and by the people, shall not perish from the earth."  The great political experiment which was commenced in the New World a century ago, so far as we may judge from existing indications, will last as long as any system in Europe.  The anxiety of American citizens regarding their national future was shown in their declining to increase the standing army beyond 25,000 men, though urged to take that step by so estimable and accomplished a soldier as General Sherman.  It was probably the same spirit that inspired them to refuse a third term in the Presidency to the most successful and most popular of their commanders—General Grant.

    There arose in Boston some years ago an agitation for preserving one of the historic monuments of that city—the Old South Church, the church in which the leaders of the movement for national independence had held some of their meetings.  Mr. Wendell Phillips, in the course of the agitation, delivered some stirring and eloquent speeches. It was in one of these speeches that the great orator, referring to the courage of the founders of the Republic in resting the government on the suffrage of every individual man, spoke as follows:—


    No previous experiment threw any light on that untried and desperate venture.  Greece had her Republics; they were narrowed to a race, and rested on slaves. Switzerland had her Republics; they were the Republics of families.  Holland had her Republic; it was a Republic of landowners.  Our fathers were to cut loose from property, from the anchorage of landed estates; they were to risk what no State had ever risked before, what all human experience and all statesmanship considered stark madness.  Jefferson and Sam Adams, representing two leading States, may be supposed to have looked out on their future, and contemplated cutting loose from all that the world had regarded as safe—property, privileged classes, a muzzled press.  It was a pathless sea.  But they had that serene faith in God that it was safe to trust a man with the rights He gave him.  These forty millions of people have at last achieved what no race, no nation, no age hitherto has succeeded in doing.  We have founded a Republic on the unlimited suffrage of the millions.  We have actually worked out the problem, that man, as God created him, may be trusted with self-government.  We have shown the world that a Church without a bishop, and a State without a king, is an actual, real, every-day possibility.  A hundred years ago our fathers announced this sublime and, as it seemed then, foolhardy declaration, that God intended all men to be free and equal—all men, without restriction,—without qualification, without limit.  A hundred years have rolled away since that venturous declaration, and to-day, with a territory that joins ocean to ocean, with forty millions of people, with two wars behind her, with the grand achievement of having grappled with the fearful disease that threatened her central life, and broken four millions of her fetters, the great Republic, stronger than ever, launches into the second century of her existence.  The annals of the world have no such chapter, in its breadth, its depth, its significance, or its bearing on future history.


    The spirit that inspired these powerful periods, if infused into the masses of the people, will itself suffice to perpetuate the majestic monument which has been reared in the United States.  But it must not be assumed that no dangers threaten the Republic—dangers from within as well as dangers from without.  The licence of the press, the alarming prevalence of personal imputation, the absorption of the public lauds, and the growing disparity between the wealth of the rich and the means of the poor—all these things indicate internal dangers.  But the dangers from without are perhaps even more real, immediate, and formidable.

    It is the great influx of strangers from every quarter of the globe—all of whom, if they care to claim the privilege, are admitted to political equality after brief probation and almost without inquiry that constitutes the great danger from without.  "What fools," wrote an old Chartist to me from Massachusetts shortly after the State elections of 1882, "what fools these smart Yankees were to place their birthright at the mercy of a foreign horde!"  But let us first understand the extent of this foreign flood.  All through the summer of 1882 emigrants from Europe and elsewhere were being landed at Castle Garden, the great depot for receiving them in New York, at the rate of many thousands every day.  During the month of July, no fewer than 65,000 reached the States.  Taking the whole year through, the increase of population from this source was 734,000 persons.  Whence came this mighty mass?  The statistics of Castle Garden show that every country was represented, though the main contingents were natives of the British Isles, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Russia.  But other quarters of the globe were represented too—China, Japan, the East Indies, the West Indies, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and even Greenland and Iceland.  Foreigners in 1850 constituted only nine and a half per cent. of the population of the States; but now they form more than thirteen per cent.  Of the foreign residents, the Irish, who numbered forty-three and a half per cent. in 1850, number now only twenty-seven per cent.  Since the Irish are said to constitute "the least manageable and unhappily the least fusible of all the ingredients of American society," the natives of the Republic appear to regard the greater irruption of Germans, Scandinavians, and English with satisfaction.  Well, it is this great influx of strangers that troubles America; for the emigrants bring with them habits, prejudices, and propensities that are sometimes little in harmony with free institutions. [21]

    What peril there may be from this source is due to the extreme liberality of the laws relating to the suffrage.  Foreigners, though they may not be able even to speak the language of the country, are admitted to equal rights with American citizens twelve months after they set foot on the soil of the Republic.  This is the theory of the law; but, as a matter of fact, many thousands of emigrants, if their votes should happen to be needed by their friends, are put upon the electoral roll a few weeks after they have arrived at Castle Garden.  Of course, the process can only be accomplished by fraud; but political frauds in New York, the great centre of political corruption, are so common that the real vote of the people is not always triumphant.  The emigrants who, while declaring their allegiance to America, retain all their old feelings in respect to the lands which they have left, have often so little regard for the reputation of their new country that they traffic in the privileges they have acquired.  A case of this kind occurred in Pennsylvania at the Fall elections of 1882.  According to the statement of a Philadelphia paper, fortified by documents purporting to have been written by the parties concerned, certain persons contracted for the sale of some ten thousand Irish votes to one of the candidates for the office of Governor of the State.  The New York Herald of September 12, 1882, referring to this scandal, indignantly denounced the proceeding in the following terms:—"The attempted sale of the Irish Land League vote in Pennsylvania is a question of very serious importance for Americans of every party, and of no party, who believe in American institutions and in a republican or democratic form of government.  The majority of the members of the Land League are, or profess to be, American citizens.  They have absolved themselves from allegiance to the government under which they were born.  They have sworn allegiance to the country of their adoption, which has given them a home, food, shelter, work.  They have banded themselves together in a society here, not for the purpose of advancing American interests, but Irish interests, in which genuine Americans, native and adopted, cannot have, and should not have, any interest except the broad one of the advancement of society everywhere.  It is not wrong in them to labour towards that end in a general way; but when to gain their individual and personal ends they put themselves on the auction block, and sell the citizenship with which they have been invested, the question becomes one of the most serious and most momentous importance.  The mercenaries who were hired by an English king to help to conquer the revolutionists of 1776 are deservedly held in universal detestation.  The pretended American citizens of foreign extraction who, having sworn allegiance to the government which was then founded, are now endeavouring to degrade and debauch its politics, are the worst foes that to-day it is called on to encounter.  They are now more dangerous than an army of invasion."  An army of invasion may be expelled from the United States; but it is not possible to expel an army of emigrants, who, having settled in the country, have acquired the rights of citizenship, though they may be as ready to sell as they have been anxious to acquire them.  But there would be no hardship in a regulation which excluded aliens from the privilege of the vote till they had had time to understand and appreciate the institutions of the country.

    Should many more scandals like that of Pennsylvania occur, there may not unlikely arise a demand for such a change of the law as will meet the evil.  Even as it is, the enormous number of foreign arrivals has encouraged a few of the public men of America to advocate the establishment of some sort of restriction.  For instance, Mr. Le Due, formerly Chief of the Agricultural Bureau at Washington, contends that "the influx of foreigners now coming and to come is a menace and wrong that should meet with a speedy and decisive action in the same direction, if not so radical, as that insisted upon in the repression of the Chinese."  The policy lately adopted against Celestial strangers may some day furnish a precedent for a similar policy against strangers from Europe.  The United States has hitherto welcomed and invited people from all parts of the world.  It is only when these people show that they have no regard for the honour of the country, and only value the privileges of citizenship in order to use them for an alien purpose or for individual profit, that any wish is expressed for the revision of the old and established policy of the Republic.


 
CHAPTER XXXII.

DISPOSAL OF PUBLIC LANDS—CONSEQUENCES OF THE AGRARIAN POLICY OF THE REPUBLIC—VAST ESTATES OF THE GREAT RAILWAY COMPANIES—CARL SCHURZ—A SIGNIFICANT QUESTION—HENRY GEORGE'S IDEAS—CAPACITIES OF THE STATES—MISCEGENATION—A NEW RACE-POLITICAL AND SOCIAL EQUALITY—JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY—THE STRENGTH AND GLORY OF THE REPUBLIC.


THE policy of the Republic in the matter of the disposal of the public lands is a policy of doubtful wisdom and expediency.  It is a policy which is reproducing in the New World many of the evil features of the Old.  The statesmen of America had it in their power to commence a much grander experiment than that which they attemptedan experiment which would have given to the country, besides the political equality it possesses, a greater degree of social equality than has yet fallen to its lot.  They had a rich and virgin soil of almost unlimited extent to which that great experiment could have been applied.  It is extraordinary even now, and it may in course of time be found to have been disastrous, that they should not have known how best to have used the advantage which fortune placed in their hands. [22]  The Republic has divested itself of its own patrimony—given or disposed of it to all who asked.  The folly of feudal monarchs in bestowing splendid manors on the favourites of the Crown was even less conspicuous than that of the commonwealth of America in transferring to the hands of private owners the fertile valleys and prairies of the West.  All the land round about Niagara was owned at one time by the State of New York.  It was sold or given to private persons, so that every citizen who wants to see the wonderful cataract has to pay for the privilege.  And now it is proposed that the State should buy back the property which was once its own, and which ought never to have been alienated, at a cost of several millions of dollars.

    The foolish policy of which this is simply an example is still pursued in the newer territories of the Republic.  It is bad enough that public lands should be given to individuals on condition that they cultivate them; it is worse that millions of acres should be handed over to corporations who use them for purposes of speculation.  If the theory be admitted that the private ownership of the soil is the best means of procuring its cultivation, and that the State is justified in relinquishing control of what ought to be considered national property, then there is little to be said against the manner in which the great railway companies of America have become possessed of vast stretches of territory.  It was to encourage the construction of railways in the unsettled parts of the country that the Government offered inducements in the way of great land grants; but serious evils have resulted all the same.  Mr. Sackville West, the English Minister at Washington, has explained in a report some of the consequences of the agrarian policy of the Government.  It is evident from the facts stated by Mr. West that America is preparing for herself a land question which is certain to give trouble here after.  There are landowners in the Far West whose estates are as extensive as any of those of our English aristocracy, though it must be admitted that the lands in the former case are used for cultivation instead of being kept for pleasure or retained for the exercise of political influence.  Thirty-nine of the great railway companies own among them grants amounting to no fewer than 179,922,528 acres, which is about five times the acreage of England and Wales!  The largest holder of land is the Atlantic and Pacific Company, which possesses 49,244,803 acres—twelve millions more than the acreage of the English kingdom.  The Northern Pacific Railway comes next with 42,000,000 acres; then the Union Pacific, with 12,000,000; then the Southern Pacific, with 11,964,000; and then the Central Pacific, with nearly 8,000,000 acres.  Numerous other comparatively insignificant companies have absorbed considerably more than a million acres each.  This aggregation of public lands by the great railway corporations of America has resulted from the policy of Congress to make grants of every alternate section along the line of road, within a certain number of miles, say twelve or twenty.  It has followed from the prevailing system that there is growing up in a new country the evil features of that old and effete society in Europe which all Americans affect to despise.  The railway companies, however, are disposing of their property as fast as they can find customers.  Mr. West mentions that they have already sold 14,310,204 acres at the price of 68,995,479 dollars; but it is estimated that they still hold in reserve about 164,512,334 acres.  The disposal of these vast estates will not, of course, improve matters much, because it can only tend to increase the disparity between the very rich and the very poor.

    A significant question bearing on this subject was lately put by Mr. Carl Schurz to a society connected with Harvard University:—"But when that stock of virgin lands has passed into private ownership; when the poor find themselves confronted with the same difficulties with which they have to struggle in older countries, while the rich relentlessly use their advantages to increase their wealth—all the more relentlessly as the accumulation of riches will have bred habits of profligate luxury and insatiable, selfish indulgence—what then?"  Yes, indeed, what then?  It is too late now to reverse a policy which will in due course alienate almost every foot of the public lands of America.  Daring political speculators, however, are already propagating the theory that land should be common property, that the State should own and control it, and that the present proprietors should be compelled to relinquish it without any compensation whatever.  These ideas of Henry George, advocated with rare ability, are supported by a class which is at present small, but which may in course of time increase prodigiously in numbers.  But there is one serious objection even to the ultimate success of the principles propounded in "Progress and Poverty."  Since the present proprietors have bought their farms and holdings from the nation, the nation would outrage every sentiment of justice if it were to reclaim them without at least some fair system of exchange.  On the other hand, any attempt to repurchase the properties which the State has voluntarily sold on its own terms would require such a fabulous command of money, and such a wonderful amount of financial skill, that the scheme may be pronounced chimerical.  So, then, the mistake of the founders of the Republic will have to be pursued to the end, unless, indeed, in the meantime, some new and unexpected project should be conceived to avert the threatened danger.

    Some centuries may have to elapse before the citizens of the United States will be called upon to face the graver evils whose seeds have been implanted by a mistaken policy in regard to the soil.  It has been computed that the territories of the United States are vast enough and rich enough to support a population of 300,000,000 of people.  Even at the rapid rate of progress which is the normal condition of things under the exhilarating climate of the West, very many years must be consumed before the New World becomes as populated as the Old, though it must not be forgotten that the natural increase of the native population is being supplemented by enormous arrivals from other parts of the globe.  Ample time is therefore afforded for the discovery of a new system and the development of a new race on the American continent.  As to a new system, there are at present no clear indications of anything of the sort; for the American mind does not appear to give itself much trouble about political utopias or social paradises.  The prospects of a new race are brighter than the prospects of a new system.  Much was said about miscegenation during the war between North and South.  When the black races became thoroughly amalgamated with the white, as must happen in the course of ages, the belief was expressed that a higher type of people would be produced than even the one or the other.  If there be any virtue in the mixture of races, there is certain to be developed in the United States an entirely new variety of mankind.  The older countries of the world are being laid under contribution to this end.  Since time began no such process of miscegenation has been witnessed as that which is now being worked out in America.  Germans, Spaniards, Italians, Russians, Frenchmen, Scandinavians, natives of the British Isles—all are mixing with Africans, Mongols, and fragments of the indigenous population, in such a way that the like of it will probably never be seen on this globe again.  Already the climate of the country and the circumstances of the situation are producing a distinct nation, more unlike that from which the original founders of the Republic sprang than France is unlike Germany or Germany is unlike Russia.  When, then, the great amalgamation has been completed, when all the elements that constitute American society have been thoroughly worked up together—kneaded, as it were, into one homogeneous batch—it must necessarily follow that the character of the new production will be totally different, and, let us hope, infinitely superior, to anything that has yet been seen under the sun.

    If we restrict our speculations as to the future within a moderate compass of time, we shall discern signs of equal hopefulness for the States.  The common schools of the Republic are binding the people together as no other nation has ever been bound before.  The rich man and the poor man are better known to each other in America than they are anywhere else in the world.  Indeed, the distinction of riches and of poverty constitutes scarcely any barrier whatever to social and personal intercourse.  The equality which exists in American society is infinitely more real than persons living in Europe can understand.  What divisions and classes prevail have neither the same meaning nor the same effect that they have among older societies.  The pride of rank does not exist at all, and even the pride of wealth affects very little the course of the national life.  With political equality, with absolute religious equality, with a nearer approach to social equality than exists anywhere else on earth, the personal comfort and the individual dignity of American citizens are in no way and at no time disturbed by artificial restraints or unnatural restrictions.  So many advantages are enjoyed by the American peoplematerial prosperity, equal rights, freedom of social intercourse, chances and opportunities which have never been surpassed—that the student of society cannot look forward through the mists of ages without a feeling of satisfaction and confidence.

    Poets familiar with America, though not natives of her soil, have paid honour and homage to her virtues and her renown.  Few have rendered this tribute with more pathos or fervour than John Boyle O'Reilly, perhaps the most gifted Irishman in the States.  Mr. O'Reilly recited a poem on this pregnant theme at the réunion of the Army of the Potomac, held at Detroit on June 14, 1882.  After surveying the condition of the continent of Europe, covered with fortresses and bristling with bayonets, the poet depicted the state and strength of America, "whose only camps are cities of the dead"—the dead who lie in common graves along the heights of Arlington:—


But turn our eyes from those oppressive lands:
Behold, one country all defenceless stands,
One nation-continent, from east to west,
With riches heaped upon her bounteous breast;
Her mines, her marts, her skill of hand and brain,
That bring Aladdin's dream to light again!
Where sleep the conquerors?  Here is chance for spoil:
Such unwatched fields, such endless, thoughtless toil!
Vain dream of olden time!  The robber strength
That swept its will is overmatched at length.
Here, not with words, but smiles, the people greet
The foreign spy in harbour, granary, street;
Here towns unguarded lie, for here alone
Nor caste, nor Icing, nor privilege is known.
For home the farmer ploughs, the miner delves,
A land of toilers, toiling for themselves;
A land of cities, which no fortress shields,
Whose open streets reach out to fertile fields;
Whose roads are shaken by no armies' tread;
Whose only camps are cities of the dead!

 


 
CHAPTER XXXIII.

"TO CANADA"—THE NIAGARA FALLS—"A PERPETUAL FOURTH OF JULY"—THE FALLS BY MOONLIGHT, SUNLIGHT, AND ELECTRIC LIGHT—THE WHIRLPOOL RAPIDS—THE "MAID OF THE MIST" "AND WHAT'S TO HINDER IT?"—AN INTERNATIONAL PARK—A WORKING MAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT—"WE ARE THE PEOPLE"—HAMILTON—"OLD MAN FREEMAN"—JOHN ANDERSON—TORONTO—AVENUES AND BOULEVARDS—THE FENIAN INVASION—CANADIAN PATRIOTISM—GOLDWIN SMITH—LONDON, ONTARIO—REPUTATION OF CANADA.


"TO Canada!"  The appearance of this inscription on a fingerpost in the United States has a curious effect, especially as our American colonies are even more enormous in area than the territories of the Republic itself, extending, as they do, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Lakes to the Arctic Regions.  The fingerpost indicated, not the road to any particular town or village, but the road to one of the great dependencies of the British Crown.  It was almost as if somebody had put up a signboard in Asia to point out, in an indefinite kind of way, the route to Africa.  But the information conveyed by the fingerpost erected in the village of Niagara was correct enough.  The street to which it directed the notice of a stranger led to the Suspension Bridge across the Niagara River, overlooking, though at some distance, the wonderful cataracts.

    The Niagara Falls, which everybody who visits America goes to see, have been so often described that I shall not myself add much to the literature of the subject.  The great chain of lakes which partly separates the United States from Canada, penetrates the continent for considerably more than a thousand miles.  These lakes flow one into the other, and so drain themselves through the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean.  The elevation of Lake Erie is very much higher than that of Lake Ontario.  Hence the river which connects the one lake with the other has to make a rapid descent from the higher to the lower level.  Precipitated over precipices varying from 149 to 162 feet high, the Niagara River, near the village of that name, forms the Niagara Falls, down which, it is computed, 710,000 tons of water are projected every minute!  As the river approaches the precipice, it is divided by Goat Island.  There are, therefore, two great falls, one called the American and the other the Horse Shoe or Canadian Falls.  The latter is the more picturesque.  It is the common experience of travellers, I believe, that the first sight of the phenomenon causes a feeling of disappointment.  I shared the common experience.  The falls, as I saw them from a distance, struck me as being a little insignificant.  When, however, I had time to go near them, to examine them in detail, to survey them from below, and to endeavour even to get partially behind them, they became more and more impressive and majestic.  The lovely colour of the water as it plunges into the abyss, the incessant and deafening roar it produces, the clouds of spray which are sent high up into the heavens, saturating everything in the neighbourhood as if it were exposed to continual rainfall—all make Niagara a spectacle to be remembered for ever.  Owing to a chasm in the centre of the Horse Shoe, which chasm, I understand, is of recent formation, the spray is ever and anon thrown up in enormous jets and points of exactly the appearance of rockets, thus furnishing, as an American writer has observed, "a perpetual Fourth of July."  I saw the falls under peculiar and favourable conditions—by sunlight, moonlight, and electric light.  From the Canadian and American banks of the river, numerous and powerful streams of electric illumination were poured upon the falling flood; but though these streams lit up with beautiful effect sections of the falls, they totally failed to give the observer the least notion of the general extent.  But more extraordinary, to my mind, than even the falls themselves are the Whirlpool Rapids, some three or four miles below them.  The river, after leaving the falls, pursues a tolerably placid career between the precipitous banks which enclose it till a narrower channel is reached; then it rushes with such marvellous force and impetuosity through the gorge that an extraordinary phenomenon is produced.  From some cause or other, apparently the impact of the water against the rocks on either side, the river bulges up in the middle, giving it an arched or rounded appearance.  It is estimated that the difference in the height of the stream in the centre and at the sides is not less than eight or ten feet.  Through this fearful flood a party of daring men undertook to guide a little steamboat, the Maid of the Mist.  They succeeded in accomplishing the feat; but one of them received such a shock to his nervous system that he died soon afterwards.  It was here, too, that Captain Webb had his life literally crushed out by the awful forces he encountered in the foolish attempt to swim through the Rapids and the Whirlpool beyond.  Among the numerous stories of Niagara is one which records how a matter-of-fact Irishman regarded the marvel.  "Is it not wonderful?" asked a gentleman standing near him.  "What is wonderful?" he asked in return.  "Why, that vast body of water falling over those cliffs."  "Sure," exclaimed the Irishman, "and what's to hinder it?"

    The water privileges of Niagara River above the falls are of course of immense value.  Every foot of ground in American territory from which a view of the falls can be obtained has been bought up and enclosed.  It thus happens that there is no spot in the United States which commands a prospect of one of the wonders of the world without the visitor being required to pay for the enjoyment of the sight.  It is otherwise and better in Canada: for there a high road runs alongside the river in full, free view of both falls.  Let it be said to the credit of the Americans that a strong and vigorous demand has been made for removing both the obstructions to free access to the falls and the unsightly erections which deface the natural beauty of the surrounding district.  Some time ago, the Canadian Government made a proposition to the Government of the State of New York that the land on both sides of the falls should be purchased by the public for the purpose of forming the whole neighbourhood into an international park, free and accessible to the whole world.  Negotiations to that end were commenced by Lord Dufferin with a former Governor of New York State.  The Legislature of the State was on the point of passing the necessary measure, when a later Governor, Mr. Alonzo B. Cornell, with the approval and assistance of the leader of Tammany Hall, interposed to defeat it.  Now, however, that Mr. Cleveland has succeeded Mr. Cornell, the effort to accomplish a great and desirable enterprise has been successful.  Under the provisions of a bill which passed the New York Legislature in the spring of the present year, a commission has been appointed to carry out the object in view.  It is proposed to purchase for the free use of the public a strip of all the land, varying from 50 to 150 yards wide, which commands a prospect of the rapids and the falls, besides all the islands above the falls between the Canadian boundary and the American shore.  There is thus every chance of a satisfactory settlement of the matter.

    Several gentlemen belonging to Hamilton made the few days I spent in that part of the American continent alike pleasant and instructive.  Mr. H. B. Witton, who showed me all the points of interest both in that city and in Toronto, was, I believe, the first working man who ever entered a British Parliament, his election for Hamilton preceding by a short time the election of Mr. Burt for Morpeth.  The popular party in Ontario is, it appears, strongly imbued with protectionist notions.  It was this party which elected Mr. Witton, who, by reason of his ability and his accomplishments, was in every respect worthy of the confidence reposed in him.  But there was another party concerned in a recent election about which a gentleman formerly connected with the Hamilton press told me an amusing story.  The candidate selected by it declared of himself and his friends, "We are the people."  When he was defeated at the poll—rather badly defeated, too, I believe—he was rallied on the subject of his previous declaration.  "Yes, sir," he said, "we are the people; but there are too few of us!"  The gentleman who related this anecdote mentioned a fact highly creditable to the citizens of Hamilton.  The governor of the city gaol, he said, had remarked in conversation with him that he sometimes wondered why the Government continued to pay him his salary, since the prison under his charge was almost empty.  Mr. Witton assured me that Hamilton, and indeed all Canadian cities, were not only remarkable for the absence of crime, but for the absence of municipal corruption of any kind—an immunity which he attributed to the refusal of the citizens to mix up general politics with their local affairs.  Hamilton has still another claim to honourable respect.  It was the residence of "old man Freeman"—to use a phrase current in that part of the world—who fought at his own expense the case of John Anderson, the fugitive slave.  Anderson, it may be remembered, had slain his owner, a Southern planter of the name of Seneca Digges, and had then escaped into Canada.  The extradition of the fugitive was demanded by the United States Government, then controlled by the Slave Power; but Lawyer Freeman defended Anderson, contended that the crime was committed in the attempt to regain his natural right to liberty, and succeeded in convincing the Canadian judges that they were not justified in restoring him to the hands of his pursuers.

    The situation and surroundings of Hamilton are remarkably pleasant and attractive.  Like almost all other cities on the American continent, Hamilton is entirely free from that peculiar exclusiveness which distinguishes our own towns.  No man who owns a beautiful garden thinks it necessary to his own enjoyment of it that he should exclude it from the gaze of the public.  The view of the city from Hamilton Mountain, with the broad waters of Lake Ontario close at hand, is charming in the extreme.  Equally delightful is the aspect of Toronto, the capital of the province, a few miles away.  Stately public buildings of various kinds—Colleges, Courts of Law, and Houses of Parliament—adorn the city.  The avenues of Toronto, though less extensive than those of Chicago, are equally imposing.  College Avenue, leading to the University, is a magnificent thoroughfare, nearly a mile long, a hundred feet wide, and lined with a double border of handsome trees.  Spadina Avenue is a still broader thoroughfare, being no fewer than 160 feet in width.  A movement is now on foot to encircle the city, after the manner of Chicago, with a series of parks and boulevards.  The University stands in a lovely park of its own, which is joined to another, called the Queen's Park.  There is in the latter estate a colossal marble statue of Britannia, which was erected to the memory of the volunteers who died in 1866 during the Fenian invasion of the Dominion.  The view of Toronto and its suburbs from the tower of the University, under an atmosphere so marvellously clear that every object within the range of vision is distinctly visible, is almost unequalled for picturesque beauty.  A sister of Thomas Carlyle's resides in Hamilton; while Toronto is the residence of two persons well known in the old country.  One of them—Alexander Somerville, the "whistler at the plough"—is now an old man, past all further service to the popular cause. E dward Hanlan, the most wonderful rower that ever pulled an oar, is the proprietor of an hotel which is situated on a narrow sandy island in Lake Ontario, a short distance from the shore.

    The monument to the volunteers in Queen's Park is only one of many indications of the patriotic spirit of the Canadian people.  I had expected to find that there were at least some among the Canadians disposed to favour the annexation of the provinces to the United States.  So far from this being the case, however, I found that the idea was not only repudiated, but resented as a sort of insult.  Knowing that Mr. Goldwin Smith had advocated the separation of the colonies from the mother country, and knowing also that he had some connection with Toronto, I happened to allude to him in conversation with two of the officials of the University.  I shall not soon forget the indignation both gentlemen expressed the moment they heard Mr. Smith's name mentioned.  Had he been a traitor to his country of the worst type, they could hardly have been more vehement in their denunciation of the proposal with which his name is identified.  If these gentlemen represent the prevailing feeling of the people, there is not much likelihood, during the present generation at least, of any separatist movement meeting with the smallest countenance in our North American dependencies.  It was clear to me, from all I saw and heard, that the Canadians were proud of their connection with the British Empire.  There was, too, in the speech and appearance of the colonists a much greater resemblance to the people of the old country than I noticed among the people of the United States.  Boston is the most English city in the Republic; but even the experience I had in Boston did not remind me of England in anything like the same degree as the intercourse I had with our fellow-subjects in Canada.  Americans themselves are apt to praise Canada at the expense of their own country.  When travelling by railway from Chicago to Hamilton, the train stopped for a short time at the city of London, which is situated on a river called the Thames, and which boasts of a public building built in imitation of Windsor Castle.  Among my fellow-travellers was an American citizen who was visiting Canada for the first time.  The appearance of a dignitary of the Church, clad in episcopal costume, astonished him greatly; but he soon forgot his astonishment in praise of the greater genuineness of things in the British dependency.  "Clothes are clothes in Canada, and not shoddy," he said; "and boots are boots, and not paper."  Whether this admiration for another nation arose from the natural desire of some people to disparage their own country and their own institutions, I could not of course say; but the incident afforded an indication of the repute which Canada has acquired even among its neighbours.  There cannot be the least doubt, in any event, of the thorough loyalty of the Canadian provinces.


 
CHAPTER XXXIV.

ENGLAND AND AMERICA—HIBERNIAN HATRED OF ENGLAND—JOHN F. FINERTY—THE ASSASSINATIONS IN PHŒNIX PARK—"GREAT BRITAIN UNDERSTANDS PERFECTLY WELL HOW TO MANAGE HER OWN AFFAIRS"—MR. LOWELL—"WE TAKE NO ACCOUNT OF ISLANDS"—POSITION OF THE BRITISH ISLES—GENERAL SCHOFIELD—ENGLISH ATTITUDE DURING THE WAR OF SECESSION—EFFECTS OF ALABAMA AWARD AND SYMPATHY WITH PRESIDENT GARFIELD—COMMODORE TATTNALL: "BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER"—LAST WORDS.


JOHN F. FINERTY, formerly an officer in the Federal army, and now a member of the Federal Congress for one of the districts of Illinois, publishes an Irish paper in Chicago, with these words for its motto:—"Europe, not England, the Mother Country of America."  The object of inculcating this historic theory is of course to expel from the American mind the idea that there is anything more in common between England and America than there is between America and any other part of Europe.  The doctrine taught by Mr. Finerty's paper, together with the general tone of all the other Irish papers published in the United States, proves the existence of a deep and implacable feeling of resentment and hatred against England on the part of the great bulk of the Hibernian element in that country.

    I have mentioned the name of Mr. Finerty, because I happen to have made the acquaintance of that gentleman when he was on a visit to Washington in the summer of 1882.  It was in the office of a newspaper correspondent that I was introduced to him.  The announcement of the fact that I had the misfortune to belong to England had a strange and startling effect.  Mr. Finerty immediately commenced an eloquent and powerful tirade against my unhappy country.  The speaker was tremendously in earnest; the language in which he clothed his denunciations was striking and effective; and the passion he imported into his deliverances clearly showed, not only that Mr. Finerty was no ordinary man, but that his patriotic fervour was beyond doubt or question.  Nevertheless, the scene could not be otherwise than painful to an Englishman who was also endowed with some patriotic instincts.  But as life would not be worth living if one were to expend it in everlasting wrangles, I concluded to hold my peace.  Nor did I utter a protest, even when my Irish friend justified and commended the assassinations in Phœnix Park, which were then fresh in everybody's mind.  When I met Mr. Finerty the next day (we were sailing down the Potomac together, bent on a pilgrimage to Washington's home at Mount Vernon), I reaped the reward of the discreet silence I had maintained on my first introduction to him.  Mr. Finerty was no longer the terrible Anglophobist, but a pleasant and accomplished acquaintance.  As I have said, he had served in the Federal army during the great struggle between North and South.  The voyage down the Potomac and back again was therefore rendered all the more interesting from Mr. Finerty's description of some of the exciting events which had occurred in the course of the conflict on the banks of that majestic stream. [23]

    The incident that happened in the office of the newspaper correspondent furnished an illustration of the prevailing sentiments among American people in regard to the quarrel between England and Ireland.  Not one of the gentlemen who listened to the really well-delivered periods of Mr. Finerty sympathised with that gentleman's attack.  No sooner had he left the room, indeed, than one of them hastened to allay any apprehension that might have been aroused as to the possibility of a quarrel occurring between England and America on account of the Irish trouble.  "You may take it from me who know something of the sentiments of the statesmen and legislators in Washington—you may take it from me," he said, "that nine-tenths of the public men of this country are quite satisfied that Great Britain understands perfectly well how to manage her own affairs."  Nor was this the only assurance imparted to me of the disposition of the American Government and the American people to remain on good terms with the old country.  A loud outcry was at that time being raised in a certain portion of the press for the recall of Mr. Lowell, the United States Minister in London, on account of his supposed, apathy in not demanding the release of Irish-Americans who had been thrown into prison in Ireland on "reasonable suspicion of crime."  "Rest assured," I was told over and over again, when the subject was mentioned in conversation, "that Mr. Lowell will not be recalled."  Whether or not there was any just cause of complaint against his Excellency, the fact remains that he is still the honoured representative of the Republic in London.

    The peculiar position of the British Islands, and the consequent difficulties which surround the relations of the English and the Irish people, are not, I think, generally understood in the United States.  There is a humorous story of a Boston school-mistress, who, when she was asked to point out Great Britain on a map of Europe which she had drawn, is said to have answered, "Oh, we take no account of islands!"  Of course it is impossible to appreciate the political position of the United Kingdom without knowing also something of its geographical position.  If Ireland, as Mr. Bright put it many years ago, could be removed from her moorings three thousand miles to the west, our troubles with that country would soon be at an end.  The separation of the islands by a very much smaller distance than that mentioned by Mr. Bright would suffice for the purpose.  It is only because Ireland is so closely contiguous to England that the independence of the one is utterly incompatible with the independence of the other—it is only because of this, probably, that England has not long since assented to the separation which Irish patriots are demanding.

    So far as I was able to judge from what I saw and heard, it seemed to me that this peculiar feature of the situation in the British Isles was rarely considered, and still more rarely understood, by those Americans who discussed in the press, on the platform, or in the Senate the affairs of the mother country.  One American citizen, however, with whom I had the pleasure of conversing on topics of an international character, saw clearly the actual state of matters.  I allude to General Schofield, who earned a distinguished name in the military annals of the struggle which terminated in the abolition of slavery.  "England's position," he said to me, "is precisely like ours during the war.  When I was in command of Missouri, I told the people of that section that much as we loved them, and much as we wished to live on kindly terms with them, I would reduce their entire territory to a state of nature rather than allow them to secede from the Union."  The integrity of the Republic was necessary for the preservation of the Republic.  General Schofield is probably not alone among the leading men of America in seeing that the same principle applies to the United Kingdom.

    The comments of American newspapers on British affairs indicate at times a strange ignorance of the facts of the case, of the ideas which penetrate them, and, above all, of the sentiments which animate the people concerned.  Moreover, there is now and then a certain flippancy of tone in some of the references to the old country which makes American journals not altogether pleasant reading to an English traveller.  Nor was it more pleasant to read, as I did in a speech which the Hon. William D. Kelley had delivered in Congress on the Tariff Question, and a copy of which the author had sent to me in Washington, that England was "the vampire of nations." [24]  But the ignorance of English affairs that distinguishes American newspapers is not greater than the ignorance of American affairs which was displayed by English newspapers at the time of the great war.  The actual and undoubted attitude of the people of this country towards the parties to that conflict is even yet misunderstood by Americans generally.  When I had occasion to explain that our newspapers did not reflect the real sentiments of the nation on the merits of Federals and Confederates, and when I called attention to the fact that not more than a dozen public meetings had passed resolutions of sympathy with the South; whereas hundreds of public meetings, many of them among the largest ever held in the country, had passed resolutions of sympathy with the North, the statement in almost every instance seemed to come in the nature of a surprise to the persons to whom the information was imparted.  The inability of Americans to dissociate the English people from the views advocated in the English press is not at all wonderful, seeing that it was only through the press that they could at that time form any idea of the feelings which prevailed in England.

    The misunderstanding which arose between the two peoples in consequence of the hostile attitude the English press assumed towards the Federal Government and the Federal cause continued long after the close of the strife which originated it.  Such was the resentment which Americans felt on account of the support the wealthier classes in England had afforded to the Southern rebellion that it would have required a very little breeze to fan the embers of bitterness into a flame of open war.  I was assured, however, that public feeling in the States has now undergone a complete change.  This change was attributed to two circumstances—the settlement of the Alabama question and the public sympathy which the assassination of President Garfield had evoked throughout England.  The prompt payment of the Geneva Award had removed all cause of difficulty between the two countries, while the universal expression of indignation and regard which had been tendered to the American Government after the commission of Guiteau's crime, and especially the letter which Queen Victoria, with true womanly instinct, had written to Mrs. Garfield, had reawakened all the old feelings of affection which the younger country entertained for the elder.  So strong is now the desire of the American people to remain on friendly and cordial terms with England, that the main cause of the popular satisfaction with the retirement of Mr. Blaine, as an eminent lawyer of Boston informed me, was the apprehension that the policy of that statesman would sooner or later eventuate in a quarrel with England.  "Blaine is now," said he, "a dead cock in a pit."  One of the most notable incidents in connection with the centennial anniversary of the surrender of Yorktown was the honours that were there and then paid to the British flag.  If other proof were wanting of the cordial feeling existing in America towards England, it would perhaps be found in the sentiment which was drunk at a banquet given by prominent citizens of New York to Sir Edward M. Archbold, the late British Consul in that city—"Two Nations which God has put together no man can put asunder."

    The difficulty which Americans sometimes find in appreciating the conduct and policy of England was brought forcibly to my mind by the tone of public feeling in the States when the massacre of Alexandria occurred in 1882.  The sneering comments of the press as to what the writers considered the want of decision and enterprise of the English Government was reflected in the conversation of the people.  Over and over again, when discussion turned on the Egyptian Question, some such remarks as these were addressed to me: "Englishmen have been slaughtered by wholesale in the streets of Alexandria.  Why in thunder don't the Government punish the murderers?  The old country must be played out.  If she allows herself to be insulted in this manner by a pack of rascally Arabs, she will have to take a back seat among the nations of the earth."  When afterwards the British fleet did take the matter in hand, some of the newspapers querulously complained of what had been done, and even unfairly insinuated that the fleet had bombarded and burned Alexandria; although, as a matter of fact, it had only attacked the forts which menaced it.  This captious kind of criticism indicated nothing more than the desire of the American people that England should exhibit some of the energy and alacrity they themselves would probably have displayed in similar circumstances.  It was more in pity than in anger that they complained of what they considered the remissness and indecision of the old country.  So interpreted, all their complaints and criticisms may be ascribed to a genuine esteem for their ancient kindred.  As a young man may regard his grandfather, lamenting his weakness while respecting his age, so may America be said to regard England.  The fact that the commander of an American ship in the harbour of Alexandria rendered some little assistance to the British fleet was repeatedly mentioned in my hearing with pride and admiration.  Time and again similar evidences have been afforded of the interchange of courtesies between the two nations.  When a British fleet was engaged in warlike operations in China, an American commander went to its aid, justifying his proceeding in the matter with the historic exclamation, "Blood is thicker than water." [25]  The sentiment that inspired this action would probably inspire the entire American people, should the old country ever find herself in need of help to preserve her existence or maintain her authority.

    No greater calamity could befall the world, no trouble could arise more calculated to check the progress of mankind, than a struggle between two of the greatest and most advanced nations on the face of the globe.  Such a calamity, imminent as it appeared twenty years ago, is not now likely to occur.  The real feeling of America towards England finds expression, not in the small criticisms of the public journals, but in the significant actions of American captains in foreign waters.  Even the disputes that have lately come to the surface in respect to extradition and other matters are not calculated to disturb the placid current of our friendly relations, since blood must always remain so much thicker than water.

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    Little more remains to be said.  I have endeavoured to give as fair and impartial an account of America as my limited opportunities of judging, and my still more limited powers of description, have enabled me to do it.  The reader will have noticed that I have neither uniformly praised nor uniformly disparaged the great country that has been my theme.  I found in America, as I find in England, many things that society would do better and be better without.  If it were possible to take all the good one finds here and add it to all the good one finds there, one might be able to construct a nobler, more wholesome, and more hopeful society than exists now in either country.  Such evils as have undoubtedly secured a lodgement in the polity of the great Republic are, however, as small dust in the balance compared with the grander features of the country.  Certainly I shall not soon forget three things that came within my experience—the wonderful courtesy of the people, the utter absence of restraint or formality in connection with the institutions of the land, and, above all, the amazing energy and enterprise which Americans everywhere import into the varied affairs of life.  Nevertheless, I never returned to the old country with greater love and admiration for it than when I returned from that Greater Britain beyond the Atlantic.


 

Printed by WALTER SCOTT, "The Kenilworth Press," Felling, Newcastle.

 


_________________________


FOOTNOTES.


20.    Here is an extract from a Southern newspaper which shows the sort of sentiments the display of splendour and luxury is inspiring:—"The  Vanderbilt dwelling-house in which the recent fancy ball was given cost £800,000.  There were assembled guests to the number of 800.  The combined wealth of these 800 guests were £100,000,000, to wit:—W. H. Vanderbilt, £40,000,000; the Asters, £40,000,000; W. K. Vanderbilt, £5,000,000; George Pullan, £3,000,000; Cyrus Field, £2,000,000, etc.  The flowers cost £2,000; Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt's dress cost £2,000; Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt's jewellery cost £300,000; the supper cost £4,000; the entire expense of the ball, £10,000.  Yet, in the city where all this wealth exists, men and women were dying of starvation.  The papers that gave an account of this display of luxury record the death by suicide, by insanity, by starvation, of men and women who had tried in vain to get employment, and died because of failure and for want of food.  There must be something radically wrong in the very foundations of society when such violent contrasts exist.  Of one thing we may be sure, that this is a sham Republic."  It will be seen from the above extract that the common notion that men are honoured for their riches in America—that, in fact, an aristocracy of wealth has been created in that country—is very much of a mistake.  Millionaires who merely amass fortunes are held in no great esteem.  Nay, if they waste their means on personal gratifications only, they are rather despised than respected.  It is men of a higher type than the Vanderbilts and the Goulds, men who devote their wealth to great public purposes, that are honoured and revered in the States.  And there is no country in the world where more money is spent in this way.  The Girard College, the Cornell University, the Cooper Institute, the Astor Library—these and a hundred other useful and splendid institutions to be found in all parts of the Union, are practical evidences of the benevolent spirit which inspires not a few of the wealthy classes in America.

21.    No anecdote was told me more frequently than that which related how an Irishman, just landed at Castle Garden, being asked how he intended to vote, was said to have replied, "Agin the Government aff coorse!"

22.    The opinion expressed in the text is energetically contested by my esteemed friend, Mr. Charlton of Chicago.  "Just think," he writes, "of the tremendous experiment which the statesmen of America did commence: a Republic in which the whole people were to have a voice—'a government of the people, by the people, for the people.'  Such a government had never before been attempted in the history of the world.  The founders of the Republic had to combat the prejudices of ages, the cowardice of wealth, the superstition which hedged around kings, as well as to contend against the army and navy of the mistress of the seas.  They had opposition enough from Quakers who did not believe in war, from wealth which stood in dread of change, from that love of the mother land which was in all their hearts.  Suppose they had added to all this, novel doctrines about the land, to which few people at that time had given much attention, and which nearly all would have misunderstood: what chance, do you think, they would have had of success in the battle for independence?  They did enough to make the world grateful to them for all time.  To have attempted more would have simply invited disastrous failure."  For all that the Fathers of the Republic did, mankind will ever be their debtor. But when they had conquered independence, when they had established the divine right of the people, was it not still in their power, if they had foreseen the consequences of retaining the old policy of Europe, to have declared that the virgin and unoccupied lands of the country should never be alienated from the nation?  I do not complain that the earlier statesmen of America did not see far: I only regret that they did not see further.

23.    Mr. Finerty was present at the Irish Convention held in Philadelphia in April, 1883.  There, it was said, he was "the leader of the dynamite minority."

24.    The way in which Mr. Kelley proved his proposition, that England is "the vampire of nations," is as comical a piece of reasoning as anything that may be found in Artemus Ward.  And yet the hon. gentleman, when he delivered it, was gravely and solemnly addressing the representatives of the United States.  This example of unconscious absurdity is worth quoting here.  Bear in mind that Mr. Kelley was trying to show the advantage of the American policy of Protection over the English policy of Free Trade.  "We have," said he, "come to be a beacon-light, seen of all the world, and by the lustre of our career are showing oppressed nations the means by which to escape from the fangs of the vampire of nations, England.  Sir, this ghastly figure of speech is not mine, nor is it the language of one who was given to heated debate or rashness of speech.  I borrow from a philosopher whose fame, which is world-wide and undying, rests on the persistency with which he laboured to promote the application of nature's laws and subtle forces to the amelioration of the condition of his fellow-men."  And all this was simply a prelude to a quotation from Baron Liebig,—wherein that eminent chemist condemned England for importing manures from other countries while she squandered her own through her sewers into the sea!

25.    These memorable words were uttered by Commodore Josiah Tattnall.  Mr. Thomas Gibbons, writing in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, has given the following account of the transaction:—"On the 25th of June, 1859, the English naval force, under Admiral Hope, made an attempt to destroy the fortifications at the month of the Peiho River, North China.  During the action, two of the gunboats grounded, and a third was so badly damaged by the fire of the Chinese that she sank at her anchor.  The small English force was quite unable to withstand the overwhelming numbers against which they fought, and the two stranded vessels actually fell into the hands of the enemy.  Commodore Tattnall, who was close by at the time, on board his flagship, saw the critical position of the English force, and generously rendered that assistance to the British admiral which greatly mitigated the effects of the repulse. 'Blood is thicker than water,' Tattnall said, when proffering his aid.  Referring to the incident, soon after it occurred, a writer in Blackwood's Magazine remarked:—'Gallant Americans!  You and your admiral did more that day to bind England and the United States together than all your lawyers and pettifogging politicians have done to part us.'  In connection with the affair of the Peiho River is another pleasing circumstance not to be forgotten.  During the action several men belonging to Commodore Tattnall's boat were on board Admiral Hope's vessel, whither they had conveyed their commander, and without invitation of any sort they manned English guns, working shoulder to shoulder with English tars!  The apology of Tattnall's coxswain, when told that it was the duty of American seamen to behave neutrally on board a British vessel, is as characteristic in its way as the more famous phrase of his commander:—'Beg pardon, sir, they were short-handed at the bow-gun, so we giv'd them a help for fellowship sake,' "

 


 

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