AB-O'TH'-YATE IN YANKEELAND.
FIRST TRIP, 1880.
THE VOYAGE OUT.
THE idea of
taking my old friend "Ab" to grass among "fresh fields, and pastures
new," originated with me some years ago; but allowing circumstances
to get the better of my determination, the project had to be
shelved, where it had remained only to be dusted, and redusted, ever
since. The time came at last, when the trip could be put off
no longer; and on the 22nd of April Ab bade farewell to Walmsley
Fowt, accompanied as far as Liverpool by his "old rib," and "troops
of friends," to wish him God speed on his voyage.
It was not an everyday matter for our friend to get away from
his home. There were associations that were dear to him.
There was his garden, already lighted up with a lustre of flowers;
his beehive, that while he was away would be musical with industrial
life; his loom, that would be silent until it was covered with dust
and cobwebs; the old bobbinwheel, now no longer doing duty as a
"feel-loss-o'-speed;" the gate which for hundreds of hours he had
sat upon absorbed in dreams of his peculiar philosophy—these would
be among the first things missed. Then there was the "Old
Bell!" What could he do without his accustomed nightcap at
that glorious "rallying point," and his frequent skits with "Fause
Juddie?" What was there in the land he was going to that would
compensate for the loss of all these? There was nothing that
the future yet promised; and, lacking this, his spirits succumbed to
But there was one thought that would cause him to smile when
the dumps were deepest. If he could fleece a Yankee, or scalp
an Indian, or shoot a buffalo, or tell the biggest lie, these
extraordinary feats might afford a little satisfaction to one who is
not in the habit of expecting too much. But who would "catch a
weazle," or "shoot a thief?"—and who would be his companions in the
practical joking, which had hitherto been the salt of his life?
More than all, who would comfort his old "stockinmender" in his
absence? That thought caused the tear to flow many a time when
no one witnessed it. The old girl had her peculiarities, no
doubt; and a little of that which all women possess, temper.
Neither of these would trouble him; but when in her loneliness she
would cry out "Wheere's my Ab? Wheere's that foo, but one o'th
best o' foos?" and there is nobody there to reply, she might be
tempted to follow, or in a desperate moment try the navigation of
the mop-hole. "Th' childer had groon up," he said, "an' like
young sparrows when they'd forsaked th' neest, cared nowt for it;"
so he felt no regret about leaving them.
There was, however, one drop of comfort in his mixture of
many troubles; the friends he was leaving behind would do what they
could to fill up his place. Jack o' Flunter's had promised to
look after his hens, and Siah at owd Bob's, who had recently killed
a pig, would see that the old rib did not go short of bacon.
Jim Thuston promised that the milk-score should not be limited, and
Billy Softly would overtop the kind offices of the rest at a very
cheap rate—he would read for her a chapter every Sunday out of the
old Book; not forgetting that about Jonah and the whale. Fause
Juddie declared his readiness to do anything he could for the
family, if the Americans would "keep th' foo' o' their side o' th'
wayter, or drop him about th' hauve road across." All the
neighbours appeared to be desirous of doing something for Ab; but
how far these desires would find expression in deeds was quite
another thing, and might never be realised. However, it was a
source of consolation to our old friend when he was most in need of
it, and it helped the poor fellow to loosen the ties that bound him
to his native earth without lacerating the flesh that adhered to
When Jim Thuston's donkey-cart drew up to the door, to take
down the luggage to the railway station, I thought Ab looked like a
man who, standing above a crowd, was listening to the ministrations
of a representative of divine mercy, whilst another individual was
coolly toying with the noose end of a rope, that was not to be
employed in fishing something out of a well. When the luggage
had been hoisted up, and Ab was asked if that was all he wanted, the
poor fellow fairly broke down; and, saying that he did not know what
he had done amiss that he should be sent three thousand miles away
from home, he took hold of several proffered hands, and shook them
until he had gone three or four times round the group, and would
have been shaking now if time had permitted him. That over, he
threw a few crumbs to the poultry that had assembled to witness his
departure, knowing that at the same time they were losing a friend,
and, seeing that they were too full of emotion to indulge in a
single "peck," he tore himself away, and never spoke, nor looked up,
till he reached the old Bell, which he seemed to think he was
visiting for the last time.
"Th' last pint," he said, throwing himself down on a chair in
the kitchen. "I may never have another. Th' next I drink
may be saut wayter. But there's one comfort, if a shark gets
howd on me, he'll have a toughish job for t' get through his meal,
speshly when he comes to my ears. A pair of shoon would be a
foo' to 'em, if it wurno for th' nails. But it's like out o'
place jokin at summat ut's wurr than a buryin; so, come,—farewell!"
What a crowd followed us to, or met us at the station and
what a crowd accompanied us to Liverpool! The Cheshire Lines
Company kindly placed a couple of saloon carriages at our service,
and both were well filled. Our friends grew quite hilarious as
soon as the train left the station, where handkerchiefs were being
waved by those left behind. It might have been a welcome home,
instead of a farewell, the merriment went so "fast and furious."
Ab was somewhat disconcerted at this, and observed to me, dolefully—
"Yer yo, how fain they are becose I'm gooin away! Well,
I reckon sich is life."
I had to ply our old friend with a few drops of his favourite
"cordial" to keep his spirits floating; and when medicine time came,
his mouth was always ready.
Ab expressed himself as being alive to the fact that—"if a
mon wants to be looked after he should sit in his dumps. If he
felt brisk, he'd get nowt." A little more of his left-handed
philosophy, I thought. After feasting right royally at the
"Queen's," in Liverpool, we made for the landing-stage, where the
first object that caught our attention was the "City of Berlin," the
vessel that was to convey us across the Atlantic. Our future
home had in its appearance such a promise of safety that the fears
which had from time to time haunted my sleep subsided at once.
The sight of the noble ship had the same effect upon Ab; and as he
gazed at its formidable outline, he ventured on the opinion that it
was "safer than loud."
Inman Line's City of Berlin.
Launched 1874-broken up 1921. Holder of
the Blue Riband, 1875.
There the many-eyed monster lay that was destined to
"—walk the ocean like a thing of life;"
the captain's flag waving from the yard; and the crew moving about
the deck as if "clearing" for action with some unseen enemy.
The long trail of smoke that was being vomited from the coalpit-wide
funnel told us that everything that was being done now was in
earnest, and we must at once prepare ourselves for the worst.
The tender was crowded with people who had come, perhaps, to
say the last words they might ever speak to relatives or friends
departing, and whom the huge monster, snorting, and seeming to paw
the sea, was eager to get in its power. The size of this
monster grew upon us as we approached its anchorage, and the huge
walls of timber presented to us the appearance of an impregnable
"I dar goo anywheere wi' that," said our friend Ab, as he
looked up at the hull and yards, and the funnel that would have done
for the casing of a coal shaft. "There's not a bit moore
danger bein theere than bein i' owd Thuston's barn in a March wynt.
I should no' care a bit if th' owd rib wur gooin across wi' me, an'
wouldno' be poorly. I mun say, an' I'll tell th' truth for
once, if I commit a sin by it, ut I dunno' like leeavin her beheend
me, hoo looks so weel to-day. But then, yo' seen, if hoo're
usin a tub at th' same time as I wur, an' I couldno' look after her,
there'd be sich a dooment, as far as a tongue an' a pair o' lungs
wur concarned, as never wur known i' that cote. I shouldno'
wonder if she turns eaut like Ruth at last, an' says where I goo
hoo'll goo. Women are queer."
By the time our friend had finished his remarks, which were
highly characteristic of the man, we were ordered up the gangway
communicating with the tender and the ship. No sooner had Ab
set his foot on the deck of the noble vessel than he exclaimed—
"I'm upo' th' scaffold now; th' next thing'll be swingin off.
It'll oather be life or eternity then."
Through the kindness of Mr. Wilson, the Manchester agent for
the Inman Company's steamers, our friends, to the number of forty,
were shown over the interior of the vessel; and it was edifying to
hear the observations that were made by them in relation to the
accommodation for passengers, the provision made for their comforts,
and the luxurious character of the surroundings. But the time
was too short to see everything as we have seen it since.
Those on board who were not prepared for a voyage of three thousand
miles were warned to depart. But one, a lady of good
dimensions, stuck to the last; and I had the unusual treat of
witnessing the introduction to a scene that had its ludicrous, as
well as its impressive side. The philosopher of Walmsley Fowt
had his handkerchief in his right hand, and about twelve stone of a
"dear owd crayther" on his left arm. The working of his
features had the elasticity, and the variety of expression which a
good manipulator can get out of the face of an India rubber doll.
But here I must draw the curtain.
"Farewell, a word that must be, and hath been,
A sound which makes us linger, yet farewell!"
There is a splashing in the river; and we have a
consciousness of something receding from us. It may be a sad
face; a group of many loving hearts; bright scenes of many, many
years ago, remembered at that moment as if they had occurred but
yesterday; and all might be leaving us for us. White
handkerchiefs are waving; there is a throbbing motion beneath our
feet. Is it the Pulsation of the many hearts on board,
responding to those that are nearing shore? Or is it the
engine? Perhaps both.
"Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell."
And all was over.
"Come, Ab, let's liquor," said "Sammy o' Moseses," one of our
party, and about the jolliest.
"Stop a bit," said Ab, with his breast firmly jammed against
the bulwarks, and his eyes fixed upon something in the direction of
Liverpool, "I con see her yet."
"What her?" said Sammy.
"Wheay, there is nobbut one her i' this wo'ld,"
replied Ab, "an' hoo's just wringin her napkin now. Jack o'
Flunter's, an' Siah at owd Bob's, an' Jim Thuston, are sayin summat
to her. An' now th' bottle! Thou'll do, Sarah, owd
wench, in a bit. God bless thee!"
When we had got Ab's waistcoat unglued from the bulwarks we
took him into the smoke cabin, and in about ten minutes after,
"Walter," a very amiable and attentive steward, had ministered to
our wants, my lord Abram was crooning over a love song, which I must
confess I never heard before.
"'We never miss the water till the well's run dry,' 'tis
We never know what hunger is until we're short of bread;
Nor know we woman's love, nor yet the fulness of her heart,
Till the moment comes when fate decrees we must forever part."
"There's about sixteen more verses," he said, when he had
finished the first, "but I feel as if I could not get through 'em o.
Yon poor wench has howd on me yet with a grip like a pair o'
pincers, an' hoo's loth to leeave loce. Beside, I'm havin me
last glent of owd England for a while. It's settin now like a
love-star. Farewell. Thou's a good deeal o' fauts; but
I'm th' same wi' thee as a woman is wi' a drunken husbant, I like
thee through 'em o, nobody mun say nowt again thee, nobbut me.
If they dun they may look out for timber."
Some people, I found, are not the least affected by a change
which I consider a great one. To them a voyage of three
thousand miles is not worth a passing thought. No sooner was
the luggage, or as the Yankees call it, "baggage," disposed of, than
out come sundry packs of cards, and in a few minutes they were
"Nap"-ing it all round. Sentiment was either not with them, or
was hushed for the time, as they were eager on sport, or merry over
winning. Our friend Ab was in hopes that some of the players
had return tickets, as he "calkilated" that by the speed in which
they were emptying their pockets their "bottom dollar" would soon
make its appearance. I was told in New York that one of our
fellow-voyagers had won about a month's sea-fare. That would
have been a matter for congratulation if nobody had lost the same
amount. It was Nap, Nap, Nap, every day but two, and one of
them was Sunday. Of the other day, anon; it will not be
We had very steady sailing across the Irish channel, and we
took it to augur a pleasant voyage throughout.
"It's far safer than bein upo' lond," Ab remarked, in a
running comment on seafaring in general. "There's no
earthquakes here; nor no tall chimdies rockin. Yo' conno'
tumble down a coalpit; nor get hanged in a clooas-line of a dark
neet. There's no danger o' gettin run o'er wi' a butcher's
cart, or a nob's carriage. Then yo' conno' get into a doytch
when th' whisky has th' upper hond. An' yo' con find yo'r
clooas i' th' mornin without knowin they're on a cheear-back afore
th' fire, dryin. Th' sae has its advantages."
With the fall of evening came the shores of Ireland, lovely
under the westering sun; and peaceful as the sleep of childhood.
When its outlines were hidden in the dark and still darker grey of
night, we began to feel that we were not of earth, but children in
the lap of a new mother, the mighty deep. And more than that,
we knew that our adopted parent would have much of her own way with
us; and would take care that we were at home before "ungodly hours"
broke the morn's repose.
"Ay, hoo'll do that," said Ab, about the "tab-end" of a
reverie. "Hoo'll no' stond shoutin at th' bottom o'th' fowt,
an' threatenin for t' throw someb'dy i'th mop-hole if they dunno'
come i'th' house. Hoo'll gether 'em into th' nook beaut any
trouble; an' if they trien t' get out o'th' road of a good hoidin,
they'n nobbut so far to run afore they'n find a fence they dar' no'
get o'er. If our Sal had me so safe every neet, wouldno' th'
owd ticket look breet? I can see her cockin her spectakles at
me, as hoo's drawin a stockin on her arm, an' sayin 'Abram, I ha'
It was a novelty to me that I cannot now realise the effect
of, climbing into my berth, as if I was putting myself away on a
shelf, ticketed as clothes in pawn. It is a marvel that I
slept, as I had looked forward to a night on the sea as the greatest
trial of the voyage. But I slept; and when the morn broke I
took a peep through my eyeglass of window, and was gladdened to see
that the sun was dancing on the waves, inviting us to rejoice with
it. On reaching the deck I found our friend Ab taking in a
view of Paddy's land, which lay in strips of grey and purple to the
west. This morning's sail was a delightful one, hugging, as we
did, the ever changing shore, till we reached Queenstown, where we
had to take in the Irish mails. Here we were detained seven
hours, the victims of beggar solicitude, which is intolerable.
A blessing for a penny, and a good cursing if we gave nothing.
The land must be lost that suffers this.
"A nice bit o' lond," said Ab, as we were leaving shore; and
he showed me a bunch of primroses that he had gathered. "One
would ha' thowt it would ha' made nicer folk. I'd an owd woman
at me just as I're getting to th' end o'th' plank; an' I thowt
hoo're gooin to strip every rag I had off my carcas'. Th'
blessins an' blarney hoo gan me made me feel that I mit waste a
penny on it, an' be no wurr off. But when I felt i' my pocket
I'd nobbut a haupenny; an' when I gan her that I thowt hood ha'
flung it i' my face; but hoo didno'. Hoo gan me a good cussin
What a pity, I thought,—a people so neglected.
We are again on board the "City of Berlin;" the steam is up;
and the first throb from the breast of the broad Atlantic signals
our departure from the last stretch of our Northern Isles. The
next land we see will not be our own; but as Ab tritely remarked,—
"It's nobbut my uncle Sam's fowt; an' I dar'-say he'll be
fain t' see us. I should think that lad of his, Jonathan, is
groon up by this time. He're aulus a tall un for his
age. If he'll nobbut be summat like that blunderin owd foo of
a Jack Bull, he may do; but he winno' have as mony centuries o'
wickedness an' misrule to onswer for; no' yet, at anyrate.
Yond's th' last bit o' loud, like a streak o' dun cloud. It's
farewell after this."
It was farewell. The land melted into the memory like a
glory of the past; and the "watery waste" was now to be our home.
After all, it was a relief, like the drawing of a tooth, when it was
And now for a new, and terrible experience in my brief
seafaring life. I had had two days of violent retching and
when the spasms were on me I had no care whatever for anything.
But those two days over and I was a new made man; and the sea, and
the vessel, were as playthings to me. I entered into the
social life of the company; took an interest in their pastimes; and
felt that if things grew no worse, the remainder of our voyage to
New York would be a most delightful one. But I found I had
calculated upon chances that were far beyond my ken.
It was on the day before we were due at New York that the
company of cabin passengers arranged to hold a concert in the
saloon, previous to their saying "good-bye" to each other. The
programme was written out; rehearsals were "fixed;" the piano had
been tinkling all morning; when about noon suspicious-looking clouds
were observed to windward; and anxious glances were given in their
direction by the officers of the vessel. The wind, from a
moderate freshness, rapidly increased to a gale. The sea
swelled into heaps of angry water, that chafed, and bellowed in a
frightful chorus. A storm was inevitable, and preparations
were being made to meet it. When the gale was near its worst I
dodged out of the saloon, where I had been lying on a lounge, and
was afraid of being pitched among the crockery that was being set
for dinner,—and struggled to get on deck. I was banged about
fearfully; and when I reached the head of the stair, I felt myself
quite unprepared for the sight that was presented to me. But
as Ab has given a full description of the scene in a letter to his
wife, and which will appear in our next chapter, I will pass on to
an interesting incident.
I found Ab sitting at the door of the smoke room, apparently
in deep meditation, if not in earnest prayer. There was no
playing at "Nap," anxious eyes were strained over the wide field of
watery strife; and voices were only heard in "bated breath."
"Art' i' thy dumps, Ab?" I whispered, rousing up my old
friend into a consciousness of my presence.
"I am," he replied, with a sigh; "up to th' knees in 'em.
I'm tryin to mak up my club books, so ut they con goo afore th'
Great Committee witheaut bein a farthin wrong; for I can see ut we
shanno' be lung upo' these booards. Yer yo', heaw th' ship
keeps gettin hommered wi' th' waves! It's a wonder we are no'
at th' bottom this minit. But th' owd crayther stonds it like
a stone wall. I've been wonderin whoa I've done owt wrong to i'
my life; but conno' reckon upo' nowt nobbut one thing—takkin a
hontful o' Joe-at-th'-Knowe's marbles when he'd won o mine off me;
an' he're th' least lad o'th' two. If there's forgiveness for
that I con be yezzy. Our Sal 'll fret awhile, I know; but hoo
may clog again, an' forget me. I dunno' know whether it's a
sin or not for t' be a foe. If it is I'm done for. But I
never hurt nob'dy, unless it wur wi' gettin th' owd rib's temper up
a bit above th' boilin mark. But hoo could aulus cool hersel
wi' a fly at my yure; so that owt no' stored i' my road. I've
prayed mony an heaur i' my time, but without makkin a noise, as some
folk dun; an I've happen bin yerd by th' Great Judge of o' as weel
as th' biggest shouter ut ever rent a throat. Will that do for
I told him I thought it would; but, as dinner was ready, we
had better defer these considerations until it was over.
"Let's go down, then," said Ab, getting up from his seat, and
giving me a butt in the stomach. "We mit as weel go down wi' a
full senglet; we shall sink sooner."
AB ON STORMS, AND OTHER THINGS.—HIS FIRST
LETTER TO HIS WIFE.
Metrolopitan Hotel, Broadway, New York,
May 3rd, 1880.
If that's as mich as thou cares for thou's satisfaction. But I
know thou cares for moore than that; an' ut thou'rt fairly itchin
for t' know how I've bin on th' road to here. I thowt I'd let
thee know ut I're livin th' fust thing of owt; so ut thou could lay
thy spectakles down, an' give a good soik of relief. Now,
then, for summat moore.
When I lost seet o' thee at Liverpool; an' after I'd wrung my
rag a time or two, I began a-wonderin' what I'd laft thee beheend
for. It's true thou'd towt me th' use of a needle an' threed,
so ut I could linder a button to a shirt as weel as some women con;
but I soon fund out that wurno' o ut a mon wants a wife for.
It had never crossed my mind before ut a woman wur a men's best
companion,—speshly when he's a bit poorly, as I've bin, goodness
knows. I should mak a poor widow, tho' I con bake, an' wesh,
an' mend stockins, an' do other bits o' odd jobs ut seem nowt to
women; but summat when a mon tries his hond at 'em.
Losing thee so suddenly, I felt as if I'd lost my reet arm. I
moped about th' deck o' th' ship till Sammy o' Moses said I favvort
a boilt owl; tho' what that is I dunno' know, as I never seed one.
What I should ha' done if it hadno' bin for th' brandy that good
woman ut keeps th' Tower Hotel gan me, I fear to think. Co,
an' thank her for it th' next time thou goes to Manchester; an' tell
her if it hadno' bin for thoose sperrits I should ha' lost my
By th' second day I coome round a bit, an' I could talk to
folk; an' th' sae hadno' bothered me yet, becose it nobbut skipped a
bit, as if it wur having a quiet frolic. But I fund it could
be a lion, as weel as a lamb, before it had done wi' us.
However, I mun tell thee about that when it comes in. Sammy
an' me had to sleep i' th' same cote, but that thou knows oready.
I're feart o' gooin' t' bed th' fust time, as I didno' know what mit
happen while I're asleep. But musterin a bit o' courage, I
scrambled on th' top shelf at last, barkin one shin, an tuppin my
yead again th' ceilin. That done, I stretched mysel down, pood
the clooas o'er me, an' thowt about thee. But I yerd someb'dy
singin, an' I said to mysel, if anybody's pluck to sing, surely
there's no 'casion for any dumps i' me. Then I toped o'er, an'
dreamt about seein a mermaid—just like thee hoo wur as far as her
stays, if hoo'd had any; but hoo wore th' skin of a fish for
unwhisperables, an hoo'd booath legs i' one sleeve. But even i'
that dress hoo wurno' mich unlike some young women, ut are so
tightened up they con hardly walk. Hoo said hoo wur thee,
an' had bin transmogrified into what hoo wur for wishin I'd get
drownt. I towd her ut if hoo hadno' bin guilty o' that dampt
lie I'd ha' helped her into th' ship; but tellin me sich a thumper
about thee hoo mit dive, an' be danged to her! So hoo dove—wi'
her thumb to her nose an' her fingers spread out like a hen's tail.
Th' plunge this merwoman gan when hoo went down wakkent me, an' I
could yer Sammy o' Moses's wur droivin pigs finely. An' then
sich a thumpin noise goin on ut I wondered what wur up, when they a
hudther, ut shook the vessel as if there'd bin a saequake.
"How art' gettin on, Ab?" Sammy shouted fro' th' bottom bunk.
"Gettin th' wost o'er," I said.
"I deaut it," Sammy said. "We'n had no weather yet.
Wait till th' ship lies o' one side like a drunken jackass, or a
stoo wi' nobbut one leg, an' thou flies out o' that bunk same as if
someb'dy had lifted thee out o'th' owd Bell wi' their foot.
That's th' time for tryin' what a chap's made on." That caused
my fingers to tingle.
"What's that noise ut's bin gooin on o neet?" I axt him, for
I'd bin bothert with it.
"What's it like?" Sammy said.
"Well, it put me i' mind o' James o' Joe's loom, when he used
to wayve o' neet," I towd him.
"Oh, it wur th' engine," Sammy said; an' ever after that it
went by th' name o' "James o' Joe's loom."
Sammy towd true i' one thing. He said we'd had no
weather yet. But I booath seed an' felt some in about two days
after. Sunday wur a quiet day. Th' sae seemed as if it
had had its Setturday's neet's sleep, an' furgetten it wur daytime;
for to my thinkin I du'st ha' ventured on it i' our owd kayther
(cradle), if th' rockers had bin pood off. We'd church sarvice
i'th' mornin',—everythin obbut th' sarmon, an th' "I believes."
Th' captain wur th' pa'son; but o' somehow he looked at th' wrong
job; un' so did his clerk. Their faces wur too mich like rough
weather for churn-milk-and-traycle wark. I're as devout as
anybody, for I felt as if I're i' Someb'dy's honds beside my own.
That wur about th' only quiet day we had. Th' wynt
began of a spree, an'—so did I th' day after; but we'rn different.
Th' sae wur "merry," some said. Others said it wur "lumpy;"
an' I began a-feelin a bit of a sinkin my inside. I're watchin
'em play "Nap" i'th smookin shop, when o of a sudden I had to run as
if someb'dy had shouted on me, for t' see 'em tak their last.
"Wheere art' off to, Ab?" Sammy o' Moses' shouted, when I
twitched out o'th' dur, as if I're slippin thee.
I dustno spake, for—oh, dear me!—wheere's they a quiet
corner? I fund one at th' starn end; an' I stopped, theere,
starin at th' rudder-froth, an' now an' then givin a bit of a crow,
like a choilt does when it's th' chinkcowgh. I should say I're
a stone leeter afore I laft that shop. My senglet flapped
about me as if I'd bin a lad, an my grondfeyther's. I thowt
I'd done then; but I hadno', I'd another left-handed prayer-meetin
th' day after; an' when I'd cleared out th' sins o' my in'ard flesh,
I felt like a new made mon,—fairly a lad again. I knocked
about the deck like a young swell showin his new clooas at a
pastime, little thinkin what wur i' pickle for us. An' when I
tell thee how weel off we wur to what wur th' lot o' some folk ut
had Christian feelins like oursels, thou'll wonder how it is ut they
con see, or feel, or taste, anythin to live for. I dunno'
think, Sarah, ut th' good things o' this wo'ld are fairly divided;
but th' richest areno' th' happiest, for o that.
I're clompin up th' stairs to th' top deck one mornin, just
for t' have a bit of a breeathin, when I yerd someb'dy shout out—
"Ab, how's th' owd rib?"
"I'd as soon ha' expected yerrin an angel's trumpet as that
i'th' middle o'th' sae, about fifteen hundert miles fro' whoam.
I looked down among the steerage passengers, wheere I thowt th'
sound come fro', when among the crowd, ut were packed like folk at a
playhouse dur at a pantymime time, an' I seed three or four faces ut
looked like gradely uns.
"Wheere dun yo' come fro?" I axt 'em.
"Owdham an' Mossley," they said.
"Wheere are yo' goin to?"
"To Fall River."
"Han yo' shops to go to?"
"Nawe, but we'n friends theere."
An' yo'n want 'em, too, I thowt—God help yo! "Anybody
"Ay th' owd hens, an' th' chickens."
Then I noticed some women an' childer sittin on th' bare
deck, wi their backs reared again th' cookhouse. They're
jollier than thou could ha' bin under the same circumstances.
For my sake they oppent some music books an began a singin—one
o'Sankey's hymns, it wur—"Pull for the Shore." That melted me
fairly to my heart's deepest tallow. Th' little uns joined in
wi' their sweet trebles, an' their feythers knelt down outside th'
ring, dooin th' bass. When they'd done they axt me if I'd have
a drop o' "jacky" wi' em. Thou knows whether I'd refuse it, or
not—under th' circumstances. When they'd done I
promised 'em i'th' name o' my companions ut they shouldno' go short.
"Eh, we'n moore than we shall want," they said; an' that wur
a bit o' satisfaction to me. Oh, rare independence, my
"Tell Sam Smithies," one on 'em said, "th' next time yo go'ne
to Mossley, ut yo'n seen Buckley."
I promised him I would; an' I will. We did a good deeal
o' neighbourin after that, when th' weather wur reet. But they
must have had a hard time on't when we'rn crossin th' "Devil's
Hole," or th' "Roarin Forty." I had, as thou'll see.
Lorgus me, Sal, I thowt I must never ha' seen thee no moore.
Ther a storm coome on as sudden as if it had bin ordered to
th' minit, an to be browt in wot. I clenched my nails i' my
honds, an' set my teeth, ready for what mit come. I wished I'd
bin sae-sick then. If I had I shouldno' ha' bin feart o' nowt,—not
even him ut theau used to freeten our childer with when
they're auvish. Sammy o' Moses's wur on his back wi' a sore
throat, an' knew little o'th' storm. But I couldno' ha' slept
if I'd had two cupful o' owd Jacky wife's cordial. Th' sae wur
like a thousant cloofs rowlin o'er one another, wi' a million o'
hedges on th' top, an' th' sides, covered wi' white blossoms, or wi'
haliday shirts. Sometimes we'rn at th' bottom; sometimes
dashin through th' middle; sometimes at th' top, as if we'rn flyin
o'er; an then plungin down soss, like throwin a dog i'th' middle o'
owd Thuston's pit. When th' wo'st wur at the wo'st, an' I'd
gan mysel up, I're axt down to my dinner. Rayther a strange
feelin coome o'er me at th' thowts o' feedin, happen th' last hour
o' one's life.
A thowt struck me. As I didno' want to swim so long,
when ther no chance o' bein saved, I'd an idea that a pound or two
under my waistcoat would do i'stead of a stone round my neck.
So I floundered down to th' Sal-oon, an' housed my last meal, as I
thowt. But before I'd finished I're slat o'er wi' soup, an' my
e'en wur plaistered up wi' mutton fat, becose th' table kept wautin,
an' me wi' it, till I're sometimes o' my nose, an' sometimes o' my
back. My "boss" axed me if I could do wi' a drop o'
silver-necked pop. As it wur th' last do we should ever
have t'gether, unless we londed inside o'th' same shark, I said I
didno' mind. It would be like gooin to one's fate filled wi'
glory an' fireworks. We had it, an' when th' last drop had
fizzed I felt quite ready for my share o' saut wayter. But
while we're primin oursels for a new sort o' wark th' rockin an'
bumpin geet slacker, an' th' lamps didno' swing about as mich as
they had done. Th' whistlin music i'th' riggin geet deawn to a
moan, an' a chap ut I'd seen lookin very white abeaut th' gills
coome down wi' th' news ut th' storm wur deein away, an' we'd a new
leease o' life made out to us. That wur rayther like a
disappointment after we'd made up our minds for th' grand change;
but I took things as weel as I could put up wi' 'em, an' went
upstairs. Ther a bit moore life stirrin, I fund then, than
there wur when I went down. It wur like th' difference in a
gambler's face between winnin an' losin.
We should ha' had a bit of a singin do that neet; but o th'
singers wur i' their bunks, makkin a different sort of a noise to
singin. So it had to be put off till th' neet after. We
sung upstairs, too, rejoicin, like, ut our clooas wur dry. An'
th' cards coome out, as if nowt had happened. How soon we
forgetten danger when it's passed! It's like a lad when he's
just missed a good hoidin, he goes straight int' mischief th' next
We'd a fine day o' Setturday; an' everybody began a-brushin
up for londin, just as if we'd nobbut an' hour, or so, for t' be on
board. We'rn towd we shouldno' lond afore Sunday afternoon.
One mon said he didno' care if he never did lond. He'd bin
nine days, an' spent nowt, tho' he'd lived like a feightin-cock o th'
time. As soon as he londed he knew his hont would ha' to be
divin into his pocket at every turn.
Just as we'rn pooin up for t' lond o' Sunday afternoon I seed
two faces on th' londin-stage ut wurno' quite strange to me.
They belonged to two owd marble companions,—Jack o' Jimmy's, an'
Will o' Jimmy's. They'd yerd I're comin; so coome for t' leead
me up. They'd laft mony a score beheend 'em waitin for t' gie
me welcome. How I went on I mun tell thee i' my next letter.
I think I've towd thee enoogh at once. I'm drinkin nowt
stronger than "lager-bier;" an' nob'dy con mak a foo o' theirsels
off that; so thou may feel yezzy abeaut me. Ta-ta! fro' thy
Taking up the thread of my narrative where our friend Ab has
left off, it will be my duty to chronicle the lesser events of our
voyage. Our concert on the Saturday evening was quite a
success, and the saloon presented an unusually gay appearance.
A temporary proscenium, formed by the intermingling of the British
and American flags, was erected in front of the piano; and as the
vessel rode very steadily, there was no difficulty in the performers
keeping their legs. It would be unfair to criticise that which
could not be heard, the thumping of the engine being the principal
part of the performance—except the collection. That I might
contribute my share towards the proceedings I had to write a "copy
of verses," which were read, by way of prologue, by a Dr. McManus,
of Texas. They were as follows:—
When we sailed from the Mersey, as strangers, on board
The "City of Berlin," a ship without brother;
Long ere the loved shores of old England were lost
We spoke to each other.
Though the husband would feel for the wife left behind
And the youth new to life might then think of his mother,
We pledged "new acquaintance" in tears not yet dried,
And we talked with each other.
No sooner had Erin's green shores left our view,
When the struggle was hardest our feelings to smother;
Then we were all "Johnny Butterworth's lads" o'er again,
And we grew to each other.
The first morn that broke on the Atlantic's broad breast
Each woman a sister had found, and a brother;
And a newly-made family, wedded to home,
Now clung to each other.
In calm or in tempest, in sunshine or haze,
When a sister in pain lay we did all to soothe her;
And a face that was missed was as one passed away,
And we mourned with each other.
Though the memory of old friends may lie next the
When we find among strangers a new friend and brother,
'Twere a glorious feeling that, go where we may,
We shall think of each other.
Then toast we the captain, the doctor, and crew,—
With the Bridge* that hath rendered our roadway much
And the stewards, who our ministering spirits have been,
May we drink in another.
Through the voyage of life may we brave every ill,
Feeling stoutly prepared to face rock, shoal, or weather
And when in Eternity's haven we're moored,
May we greet one another!
*The purser's name is Bridge.
A YANKEE DONE "SLICK."—AB'S SECOND LETTER.
At Will o' Jimmy's, Paterson,
New Jersey, May 7th, 1880.
TULIP!—I've bin a day or
two tryin for t' collect my thowts an' my wits an' my recollections
together, an' made a very poor hond o'th' job. They keeper
whizzin about me like a swarm o' vexed hummabees, ut winno' be
driven into their cote. Do what I will I conno' think ut
thou'rt far off me. When a branch of a tree maks a patterin
noise at th' window I turn round, thinkin it's thee come'n a-axin me
if I've a penny for th' sond chap. Then I soik, an' think
about big waves, an' James o' Joe's loom, an' Sammy o' Moses's, an'
that everlastin "Nap." Then I see a stretch o' green wayter,
changin into blue, until it gets pieced to th' sky, an' so'dert
round wi' a dark seeam. But th' idea ut I'm above three
thousand miles fro' wheere I know thou'rt sittin, thinkin about me,
I conno' gawm at o.
How I geet here is a puzzle to me. I con just recollect
stondin by a wayter side ut I reckon must be th' sae, an' some sort
of a ship wi' a big hole at th' end, an' driven by an "owd Ned"
engine ut worked on th' top outside, comin plashin to'ard me.
I recollect, too seein hoses, wi' carts at their tails, gallopin
into that big hole. Then seein th' lond leeavin me at one
side, an' comin nary me on th' tother, an' Sammy draggin me into a
railroad carriage as long as our fowt, an' tellin me I should be
oather kilt or drownt if I didno' give o'er starin at women. I
think I yerd him say ut we'd crossed a ferry. An' now it comes
to my mind our londin at New York th' last Sunday. I wonder if
it's wi' gettin o'er too mony "Stone-fences" ut's bothered me a bit.
They're wurr than as mony doses o' owd Bell whisky, speshly when
they're mixed up wi' young icebergs.
One never knows wheere trouble is to be met, nor when there's
a chance o' losin th' seet on't. Sae sickness is bad enough,
but there's sich a thing as lond sickness, an' o' th' two it's th'
wo'st. At th' time I should ha' bin coodlin wi' thee, an'
bargainin for a "Jacky" tae, I stood like a lost donkey under a
shed, waitin t' ha' my what they co'en "baggage" examined.
This wur one o' thoose trials I wurno' prepared for, becose I didno'
expect my bit o' stuff would ever be noticed. If I'd thowt it
would ha' to be overhauled I shouldno' ha' browt that pair o'
thou-knows-whats, thou sent as a present for Mary at thy uncle
John's dowter. Lors a mercy, Sarah! When I seed a chap
maulin among Sammy o' Moses's shirts, an' knowin it would be my turn
next, an' a crowd o' folk watchin, I went as sick as if I'd bin i'
love. I knew th' mon mit be sure they wurno' for my wearin.
Just at th' last minit I bethowt mysel of a plan for throwin th' mon
off his guard. I fished up that box thou gan me, ut's like a
book, an' laid it th' topmost. I knew there'd be some fun when
it wur oppent, an' thowt th' mon would get so laafed at ut he'd look
no furr. But it taks a clever chap t' dodge a Yankee. It
coome to my turn at th' last, an' I could see Sammy's shoothers
shakin, an' his face covered o'er wi' waves o' merriment. I'd
towd him what there wur among my baggage.
This custom's officer, as they coed him, wur a tall, lanky
chap, wi' a hont like a bent gridiron, an' he coome clawin at my
"work-box" like th' owd 'Meriky aigle does its pearch, as we seen
"Nothing here only for your own use?" th' mon said, as he
lapt his fingers round th' box.
"Nowt ut I'm aware on," I said. This wur th' fust lie
I'd towd i' Yankeeland.
He wouldno' tak my word, noather, but oppent th' box. I
dar'say he expected findin a lot o 'jewelry an' stuff, an' ut I
should have some dollars for t' fork out. But I dunno' think
th' mon wur ever so gloppent in his life. That ballis-leather
face of his went like as if it had bin newly-damped for stretchin,
an' ther cracks o' laafin went off, like shots at a sham-fight.
He turned th' things o'er as soberly as he could, but a hen could
ha' done th' job as weel. It wur a study for t' watch his lips
"Four rows o' pins; one paper o' needles, two bobbins of
cotton—white and black; two stocking needles; one ball of worsted;
one pair of scissors; one pair of spectacles; one dozen shirt
buttons; four pants; one knot of tape; one bodkin; piece of watch
spring; tailor's thimble; tooth brush; star watch-key; box of pens;
two holders; two pencils; rubber; beeswax; boot laces; Cockle's
"Has he bin gooin through thy museum, Ab?" Sammy o' Moses's
shouted as weel as he could for chinkin.
"Ay, I've letten him in beaut payin," I said. "He's on
my free list."
We cleared eaut o' that owd barn, for it looks like one, or
moore like owd Williamson's show ut used to come to Hazelw'th at a
wakes,—an' I set my foot for th' fust time upo' gradely 'Meriky lond.
"Let's goo an' have a lager," Will o' Jimmy's said.
An' he motioned to'ard a buildin ut looked like a public-house.
"What's a lager?" I axt him.
"A sort o' ale ut doesno' mak 'em drunken," he said. "Thou'll
smack thy lips when thou's tasted. If yo' drank it i' England
yo'd goo a straighter road whoam than yo' dun, an' not abuse yo'r
wives as mich. Thou'll like it, I con tell thee."
We hadno' mony yards for t' goo to th' corner o'th' street
wheere this house stood; but, lorgus, Sarah, I thowt I should ha'
brokken my neck afore I'd getten theere. Talk about pavements!
If thou geet thy foot i' one o'th' ruts o' New York thou'd shout o'
someb'dy for t' lift thee out. Owd Thuston's cow-lane after a
frost, an' snow, an' rain, an' a week's cartin stuff for t' put on
th' meadows, would be a love-walk i' comparison. A Yankee
never crosses without gooin round by th' crossin stones. A "Britisher's"
known by his takkin a slantindikilar cut, an' getten his feet fast,
or his ankles thrown off. I managed to flounder across without
any greater misfortin than rippin a gallows button off; an' we shot
through a dur-hole ut wur guarded wi' nowt nobbut a little pair o'
wickets made out o' yeald shafts, an' hung about th' middle way
between th' top an' bottom. Th' place wur summat like a
Manchester vault , an' we had to stond up at th' keaunter.
"Four lagers," Will o' Jimmy's said. They sound th'
word as if it wur spelt "lawger."
When th' glasses were smashed on th' keaunter—they dunno' put
th' things down quietly—th' stuff looked like bein o froth; an' I're
feart o' dippin my nose in it.
"Come!" I said; an' a chap at th' fur end o'th' "saloon "
Everybody pricked his ears at yerrin that; and i' hauve a
minit ther sich hond-shakin as I ha' no' seen for some time.
He proved to be a Glossoper; an' had nobbut bin i' New York for a
two-thri months. That afternoon hardly looked like Sunday when
we parted. But ther no hurt done ut I know on.
Lager winno' mak folk int' foos. But when folk o'th' same
kither meeten i' forrin parts they like, go'en off it for a bit.
Well, lager's nice drinkin; an' th' Yankees moppen it up like
Ralph Bailey's pig did its swill. If they did as mich o'th'
owd Bell tiger they'd never be wakken, sayin nowt about bein sober.
When we'd had our fill we set off to th' Metrolopitan Hotel, where
th' fust things I seed when I geet i'th' lobby wur our baggage.
Sammy o' Moses's had had it checked on to theere while I're botherin
wi' th' Custom House chap. Sammy's a good deeal t' onswer for,
as thou'll see. But moore of our dooins when I write again.
Keep thy pecker up, owd wench!—Thy snivellin foo.
NEW YORK AND NEW YORKERS.
AB'S THIRD LETTER TO HIS WIFE.
Same Shop as before,
May 10th, 1880.
yerd so mich ut wur noane so good about New York, an' th' folk ut
liven in it, that I felt rayther wakken, if no' lively, when I fund
I'd thrown my lot in among 'em. I fancied I could see a pistil i'
every men's pocket ut I met, an' murder in his face. If I yerd a dur
bang i'th' hotel, it wur a shot; an' a shufflin o' feet i'th'
lobbies wur th' carryin of a corpse to his chamber. These fears I couldno'
get rid on for mony a day; an' seein a darkie grinnin
beheend me every time I turned round wur sure to bring on a mild
sort of a fit. Ther four on us t'gether ut, like, coed oursels
chums. But what could we ha' done in a row when we carried nowt
about wi' us harder than our fists? It's keawrdly feightin, feightin
at a distance.
Metropolitan Hotel, New York. Opened 1852, demolished in
Source: New York Public Library.
"Niblo's Theatre, or as it
is generally called, "Niblo's Garden," is
situated in the rear of the Metropolitan
Hotel, with an entrance on Broadway.
It is one of the largest and handsomest
theatres in the city, and by far the coolest
in warm weather. It is devoted
principally to the spectacular drama."
"Lights and Shadows of New
by James Dabney McCabe,
Dear a-me, Sarah, what a place that Metrolopitan (sic) Hotel is! Fairly bewilderin to a yorney like me. It's three front
durs to it: an' if
a chap doesno' mind which he goes in at he may go slap into a
theaytre. I missed my road th' second neet; an' becose I couldno'
show a ticket I're ordered back. I thowt it wur a queer hotel if
they had to ha' tickets for t' goo in with. However, I went into th'
street, an' made a fresh start. I thowt I happen mit ha' getten to th' wrong shop. But I hadno', I're at th' reet pleck, but had gone
in at th' wrong dur; an' somehow couldno' get reet wi' my turnins. Th' second start londed me; but through a side dur I could see th'
mon ut turned me back. It wur th' blaze o' leet there wur ut I
believe threw me wrong. It wur summat like owd Jammie at Abram's, ut
wur so used to gooin t' bed without candle it bothered him to find
th' road when it wur moonleet.
Th' fust thing ut wur done at us when we geet to this hotel wur
shuttin us up in a cage ut they coed th "elevator," while th' hotel
sank down three storeys. When they leet us out they showed us our
sleepin shops. I've wondered sin' why they couldno' ha' wund us up
i'stead o' lettin th' buildin sink down.
When we'd looked at our beds, an' relieved our faces of a day's
dirt, we geet into this cage again; an' th' hotel wur wund up. If an
Englishman had planned that, we should ha' bin wund up, an' letten
down i'stead o'th' hotel. But what con they expect out of a wooden
nutmeg? We'rn shown into a room wheere a black mon took our hats,
an' put 'em on a shelf; then we went into a bigger shop ut wur
filled wi' tables, an' blacks wi' white senglets.
"What is there t' be done here?" I said to Sammy o' Moses's, ut had
howd o' my hont, for fear on me bein lost.
"We're gooin t' have a bit o'baggin," Sammy said.
"But what are o these Sambo's dooin here?" I axt.
"They're Christy Minstrels," he towd me. "They're gooin t' sing for
us while we're feedin."
"What, o'th' Sunday neet?"
"Oh, it maks no difference here. If it goes under th' name o' 'Sacred Music,' owts reet fro' 'Yankee Doodle' to 'Bob an' Joan.'
If thou'll goo i'th' next street thou'll see a shop wheere young
women singers are donned i' very nee nowt, singin sich like songs as thou'll yer any neet at th' Alick. An' thou'll see it printed up at
th' dur 'Sacred Music on Sundays.'"
"Sammy," I said, " is that so?"
"Ay, that is so," he said. "Thou may see for thysel if thou's a
"Dear-a-me!" I said, "wheerever we go'en to this wo'ld is full o'
We'd getten oursel's "fixed" at a table; an' two niggers wur doancin
about us like a couple o' barbers.
"Dinner, or tea?" one o' these sons of a coal-hole axt me; an' he
showed me a card.
"Dost think we'n reaum for a dinner?" Sammy said.
"If ther a potato pie on th' table, calkilated for four, I could fix
about th' hauve on't," I towd him.
"Then we'n ha' dinner," he said. "What dost think thou con fancy?"
an' he looked at his card.
I looked at mine; an' tried to fumble my road through this list—
Windsor a la crême.
Consomme Brunaise au pâte d' Italie.
Baked shad farcie, au finis herbs.
Turkey aux concombres a la poulette.
Beef a la mode a I' allemande.
Blanquet of veal á la Toulouse.
Macaroni á la Solferino au jus.
I went no furr, becose I're out o' my depth for a start.
"Try that second on th' list," Sammy said, seein what a stew I're
in. I'll tell thee what, Sarah, I swat wur than if I'd bin in a hay
meadow; for th' place we'rn in wur like a oon. They han it made wot
so ut folk conno' ate so mich.
"But what mun I ax for?" I said. "These 'Meriky words are too big
for my mouth."
"It's French," Sammy said. "Everybody ut comes here is supposed to
"Thee ax for me, Sammy, that's a good lad." So he said summat like
this, but I'll not be sure I'm reet—
"Kong-so-mai Brungay o paut Italie."
If I'd had to say that I should ha' brokken my jaw, or getten my
tongue teed of a knot. But I never tried. While the mess wur i'
comin I spekilated as to what it would be like; but when it wur
pushed under my nose I felt reet. Whether it wur broth, or soup, I
dunno' know, an' little I cared so ut th' smell wur reet. I polished
it off like winkin, an' sit starin again.
"Baked shad farcie," I said, so as to show ut I wurno' sich a
gaumblin as I looked.
That I fund wur a nice bit o' fish stuffed wi' yarbs; an' I licked
my lips at it. Then I went down th' list, pointin what I wanted out
to th' blackymoores; an' geet
through it that road. Just as I're scrapin up I yerd a fluffin
noise; an' at th' same time ther a flash like leetenin. It wur th'
gas lit by electric wire. It made my inside jump, it coome so
sudden. Ther mony a hundert leets; an' I could see moore o'th'
company than I cared to see. Ther blacks without end; an' one or two
would stond o'er me while I're atin, as if they'rn feart of a knife
an' fork, or a spoon gooin out o'th' seet; an' I fancied their clooas had bin mixed up wi' a hamper o' onions. I gan one a hint ut
he'd better be gettin his music ready, as I're just windin up my
affairs, an' could do without him. Sammy said summat to him, an' he
shot off. But i'stead o' stoppin away he coome back, an' browt a
long-necked bottle wi' him, wedged in a bucket o' ice. When th' cork
were drawn ther a sound rumbled among th' glass shades like a bit of
a anthem. That wur th' sacred music ut Sammy wur thinkin about.
It wur a sort o' music I didno' object to if it wur good Sunday. I'd yerd
a strain or two on it before; an' when I'd tasted on't, it
like reconciled me a bit to Yankee life. When we'd done a
comfortable housin I stroked my senglet down, an' said I're ready
for owt obbut a bullet. It would be a pity if a piece o' leead
should disturb th' serenity o' my feelins. But Sammy made a bit of a
row under my waistcoat without a bullet, after he'd axt me—
"How did t' like that Kong-so-mai Brungay?"
"That wur th' fust looad, wurno' it?" I said.
"Ay, th' fust."
"Well, it wur middlin good; an' thoose bits o' flesh ut wur in it
wur tasty. But I'd rayther have a basin o' gradely leg stew, an'
some toasted wut-cake, an' a coolish mornin."
"Some folk would rayther have it than green fat."
"Well, th' taste isno' mich unlike it."
"It shouldno' be," Sammy said. "Ther's no' so mich difference
between a frog an' a turtle."
"What dost meean by that?" I said.
"Well, if there is any difference a turtle is th' ugliest o'th'
two," Sammy said.
"Wheay, what has a frog to do wi' that soup?"
"It gives it that nice flavour. If it hadno' bin for frogs' legs
thou wouldno' ha' cared for it."
"An' wur thoose bits o' flesh frogs' legs?"
"Just that bit o' fillet inside; that's o. They dunno' put th' whul
leg in. Folk would find out what it wur if they did, an' mit no'
care for atin th' stuff. Drink thy glass up, an' let's goo out. I
see there's summat up wi' thee."
An' there wur summat up wi' me, too. Th' idea on me atin frog soup
made me feel as I felt a time or two on th' sae but a glass o'
lemonade, sucked through a straw, sattled me, an' th' ship gar o'er
rowlin. After o, th' soup wur nice takkin. I shall remember th' name
as long as I live—"Kong-so-mai Brungay." I've wondered mony a time
sin' if Sammy wur havin me on, becose I catcht him laafin as we'rn
gooin out. How that nigger ut took our hats could sort 'em out fro'
amung about forty is a marvel to me. But he laid his honds on 'em at
once. I couldno' ha' piked my own out without tryin three or four. He'd be a useful chap at a buryin, that darkie would.
"How soon dost think we shall be shot at?" I said to Sammy o'
Moses's when we'd getten on th' swing, an' put on that swaggerin
look ut nob'dy nobbut a "Britisher" con do, when he wants to let
folk know whoa rules th' waves.
"Oh, there isno' so mich o' that sort now as there used to be,"
Sammy said, as if he felt quite comfortable about things. "I conno'
yer ut they knocken above a dozen a day o'er now."
"Getten down to a dozen a day, han they?" I said; an' I looked
round for t' see if ther owt pointed at us.
"An' that bit o' execution's chiefly done i' one street, an' ov a
Sunday neet," Sammy said.
"What street's that?" I axt.
"Th' Fifth Avenue; we're gooin theere."
"Hadno' we better put it off till some other neet?" I said. "We ha'
no' seen mich of Ameriky yet; an' it happen mit hinder us."
"If thou'rt feart thou con walk th' fust. They aulus shooten 'em
i'th' back," Sammy said.
"It isno' becose I'm feart," I said. "But if thou geet shot I
should be lost." Th' tother chaps had gone another road. They'd a
bit of an objection to gooin into th' target bizness. So had I. But
I thowt I'd show a bit o' sham English pluck, if I'd noane o'th'
"Ab," Sammy said, wi' that twinkle in his een ut thou's seen mony
a time, "thou'rt an' owd humbug!" I darsay thou thinks th' same; but if
I am, I'm thy lovin "humbug." AB.
A CITY OF THE DEAD.
HOTEL life is one
of the institutions of the States. The "Delmonico," the "Aster
House," the "Metropolitan," and the large establishments in and
about Madison Square, are so many temporary homes for the swarming
population of New York. In these places the élite of the city
spend their Sundays, and in many instances the evenings of week
days. The large dining rooms are so arranged that each family of
boarders can sit round its own table, without forming more than one
isolated section of the assembly. The ease and nonchalance displayed
by each person, whether pater or mater, or the
youngest of both sexes, strikes you as being the result of familiar
acquaintance with such kind of life. Why they prefer spending their
Sundays and evenings in this manner is variously accounted for. One
reason given is the love of show. If Materfamilias has a daughter
not too plain to take out, she dresses her for this market, as the
farmer would the occupant of his shippon. And the Yankee ladies can
dress. It is quite essential to a passable appearance that they
should. Put one of these fragile creatures inside the garments of
some of our would-be-fashionable people, and what a sorry figure she
would make. What nature has left short in her work, silks and
jewellery have to make up.
Another reason advanced is that the American women are either
too lazy, or too much indulged, to attend to culinary matters when
an extra dinner has to be provided; and the hotels can supply such
wonderful varieties. The cost is not allowed to be a
consideration. Cheeseparing enters not into the calculations
of a son of the west when the requirements of the dear bit of skin
and bone that claims to be flesh of his flesh have to be attended
to. Be it in the purchase of rags, or rings, or refreshing
meats, the "bottom dollar" is ever ready to be called forth; and
there is nothing more striking in American life than this slavish
indulgence shown by men towards their wives. There is scarcely
a woman to be met that is not ringed to her finger-nails; and the
labour bestowed upon her toilet is a proof that very little time is
spent on anything else. There is a saying that "America is
heaven for women, but another place for men and horses;" and the
truth of this axiom, so far as my experience goes, I can verify.
But more of this in future chapters. I have to deal with our
friend "Ab" at present.
A fashionable promenade on Fifth
Source: New York Public Library.
The "philosopher of Walmsley Fowt" took special interest in
the various traits of character which distinguish our American
cousins from our kinsfolk at home; and in the matter of hotel life,
and the manner of "feeding," he was peculiarly at issue. He
pronounced both to be "strong weaknesses," that would imperil the
strength of their national life. His experiences in this
direction were to him a source of anxiety and misgiving, which found
expression in his characteristic style.
"I dunno' like th' thowts on 'em gooin' again th'
wall," he would say in a serious mood, "for they'n some of our blood
in 'em, thoose that han any blood at o, an' are no' like corks, or
dried apples. But watch 'em ate! No mon could do justice
to a bit o' beef if he never takes his nose six inches fro' th'
plate. If it's a bit towgh—an' some on't is none so very
tender—it must go down his throttle in a lump. Look at that
mon," he remarked, pointing to a spare individual whose knife and
fork were in exceedingly active movement; "what must be th' state of
his inside after sich housein as he's dooin? I seed a sarpint
havin its dinner once, an' I could watch th' one lump it swallowed
go slidin down to'ards its tail like a slow boat in a tunnel.
I con see it goo down yond mon's throat just th' same. His
neck must be made o' indy-rubber, or elze it wouldno' stond th'
ratchin. An' what good will it ever do him? I reckon
he's etten o' that fashin ever sin' he could hondle his tools , an'
look at him! Sammy, here, could double him up an' shove him
through that stove-pipe hole; an' he's etten very nee as mich as th'
stove would howd. Wheere's it gone to? When a mon delves
into a potato pie, an' leeaves reaum for th' steam to get out, he'll
side his mess in a thowtful way, as if atin wur a pleasure not to be
getten through in a hurry. An' he'll now an' again rear back
in his cheear, an' stroke his senglet down comfortably, like as if
his soul had summat to do with it; then, swiggin off his pint at th'
finish, would say 'theigher!' He'd rise fro' th' table like an
Englishman, ut had some thowts of another day; but yon mon would
have his face scauden before he could get to work gradely. Eh,
"Like stuffin blackpuddins," Sammy o' Moses's observed.
"Thou's just hit it, Sammy," said Ab; "for o th' wo'ld like
ladin in thoose lumps o' fat, an' fillin up wi' thin stuff. If
yond mon wur cooked like a rappit they'd ha' to put him i' th' oon
skin an' o. There'd be nowt nobbut summat like a long basket
beside. An' what con a country stond ut feeds itsel o' that
fashion? A generation or two would see it jiggered up if it
wurno' for th' fresh blood ut's bein sent into it. Fifteen
hundert folk we browt wi' us across th' sae; an' welly so mony are
comin every day for t' keep th' stock up. Th' childer o' these
'll begin a-suckin gum an' candy afore they con walk. Then
when they'n bin lengthened out, like pooin a sugar-stick, they'n
begin a-swallowin their mayte whul, an' chewin bacco i'stead.
That sort o' feedin winno' mak muscle; an' what con a country expect
to come to when thoose ut should be its props are nowt nobbut bags
o' sawdust? If we'd this country, Sammy; or they'd let us have
a bit o' their grand sky, we'd show 'em a different dub. We'd
ha' summat elze beside wrinkles at th' back o' our ears; an' about
five yures hangin at one's chin. I dunno wonder at 'em shootin
one another i'stead o' gradely feightin. If they wur t' have a
go at our sort there'd be a noise like a crash o' paesticks when
they went down. An' their women, Sammy! Well, they conno'
help bein not o'th' prattiest; but if they'd get some o' owd Shaw's
sort o' energy reviver, a good 'eish plawnt' (ash plant); an' let 'em
ha' middlin strong doses on't between mealtimes, they'd mak 'em t'
stond o' their feet a bit moore than they dun. They'd find
summat for their fingers t' do, too, than aulus bein hooped round as
if they'rn cracked. There's plenty o' wark for a good
skoomester wi' a heavy hont."
"But thou munno' put 'em down as bein o' alike," Sammy said.
"I've seen a difference."
"So have I," replied Ab; "but the prattiest an' best ha' no
bin born here. Thoose ut are th' latest fro' th' owd sod are
th' moost like gradely women. I con tell one as soon as I see
her. Hoo doesno' walk on her toes, an' hoo doesno' wear two
sets o' rings—one for her bare fingers an' th' tother for her hont
when it's getten its leather clooas on. Nor hoo hasno' that
kerly-merly yure petched i'th' front of her yead, like th' orniments
round a lookin-glass. Thou remembers thoose women we seed at
"Ay, I should co thoose a gradely sort," said Sammy.
"Just so," said Ab. "They're no moore like these white-livert
buzzarts than a chawk image is like flesh an' blood. They'n
some bant about 'em, thoose han, an' fit to be th' mothers of a
young nation. Beside, they'n lost noane o' their English
prattiness, an' they are no' feart o' wark. I believe it's
nowt nobbut their mardness an' their way o' livin ut causes these
New York dolls to be so mich like faded waxwork, ut's been melted
down for any sort of a face, fro' a queen to a mermaid. If
they'd live gradely, an' be gradely, an' do their share o' wark like
other women, I see no reeason why they should no' be as pratty as
thoose in New Jarsey. Does thou?"
"Nawe; gradely wark an gradely livin has made our English
stockin-menders what they are," Sammy said. "But if we begin
"We're done for," concluded Ab, with a fist emphasis on the
table. "Candy an' monkey nuts—never!"
These remarks ended the conversation; and we adjourned to
make preparations for seeing two of the finest sights to be seen in
the world, the Cemetery at Brooklyn, and the Falls of Niagara.
To a stranger New York is a prison. He cannot get out
of it without crossing a ferry at one point or other. Enclosed
between the two forks of the River Hudson, which take the names of
the North and East rivers, it is completely surrounded by water; and
a person who wishes to cross to a certain point finds it exceedingly
difficult to hit upon the right ferry. We were in a continual
"fog" all the time we were in the city; and sometimes travelled
miles to find ourselves at the wrong place after all. On one
occasion, having been by accident separated from my companions, I
found myself at Jersey city when I imagined I was at Brooklyn.
And at another time, we were landed at the Pennsylvania Railway
Station, when we ought to have been at the depot of the Erie line.
Once get wrong, and the difficulty in getting right is ten times
greater than when starting from Broadway as the centre.
It happened to be Sunday when we crossed to Brooklyn.
Had it been Saturday we might have been groping about the streets
the whole of the day, and possibly have been landed at the wrong
place as a reward for our pains. The scarcity of traffic on
the Sunday helped us over our difficulties; and we only made the
mistake of landing at the wrong part of Long Island, upon which
Brooklyn is built. A few changes of street cars; any number of
inquiries; the annoyances of the exact five cent. fare, neither more
nor less, to be dropped in a nick; a few cross purposes, and a great
deal of strong language, and we reached the destination we set out
We were hospitably entertained by a family of Newton Heath
Americans, the head of which has lost none of his Lancashire
idiosyncrasies; and after our bodies and our tempers had been
somewhat cooled by ablutions of lager, applied inwardly, we took a
car for Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery, our entertainers
New York elevated railroad near Grand Central Station
Source: New York Public Library
You seem to breathe a freer and fresher atmosphere in
Brooklyn than you do in New York. In the latter city you feel
oppressed by the height of the buildings, and the many
contributories to the dangers of the streets whilst the abominable
stink given out by one of America's greatest sources of wealth,
petroleum, pervades everywhere. Our friend Ab said it was
"like following a foomart o t'gether." As regards the street
dangers, the "Walmsley Fowt philosopher" had a startling experience
of them the day before. We happened to be passing along a
street, the middle course of which is canopied by an iron network in
the form of a branch of the "Elevated Railroad;" a delightful
structure regarded from a tradesman's point of view, as it prevents
the sun from spoiling the goods in his windows, and would-be
customers from entering his door. We were dodging as well as
we could the tramcars and other traffic below, when our attention
was called to the dashing past of a train of cars over our heads.
This would have been sufficient of itself to have alarmed us; but
when it was accompanied by a yell, and the pouring forth of a
torrent of language that could only be printed in dashes, the
excitement was doubled. Ab had got his fingers in his collar;
and the way in which he was tearing at it was suggestive of his
having a wasp, or more probably a mosquito, in active work there.
"What's up now, Ab? Is it bitin?"
"Bitin be—dashed!" he exclaimed "it's takken a piece out, an'
part o' my collar."
"It must ha' bin an owd dog, then it's never been bred this
summer. It wouldno' ha' had its teeth set."
"Teeth set, eh? I didno' know ut a cinder had teeth."
"Wheay, isno it a miss-kitty?"
"It's moose like a fizz-kitty, for it's bin fizzin i'
my neckhole. I wish I'd howd o' that infernal Yankee ut
invented these sky railroads. I'd crom a red wot cinder wheer
he couldno' shake it out in a hurry—that I would. I'd mak him
sing 'Yankee Doodle' wi' variations, an' doance to his own music,
The reader will easily infer from these explosions of temper
on the part of Ab that the cause of his suffering and pardonable
wickedness was a cinder that had dropped from the engine on passing,
and found a lodgement beneath his bump of philoprogenitiveness,
where it was reluctant to be disturbed. These elevated
railroads are a great nuisance in many ways, and not likely to be
adopted in England.
By this time we had arrived at Prospect Park, a large tract
of well-wooded and well-watered land, which calls for no especial
remark when we consider that we are in near proximity to the sight
of all sights to be seen on Long Island. After resting
ourselves on a piece of the higher ground, which commanded a view of
many miles of land and sea, and from which we could observe the
constant and swallow-like flitting to and fro of the ferryboats that
ply in the Sound, we prepared the tone of our thoughts and feelings
so as to accord with the character of the place we were about to
visit—the "City of the Dead"—Greenwood Cemetery.
It were not fit that we should approach the place in a
buoyant and joyous spirit, although the bloom of the dogwood tree
sheds light and loveliness on a scene where Beauty had made her home
ere the florist's spade, or the sculptor's chisel, essayed to make
what seemed perfection even more lovely. The shadowless noon
is past; and the sun in its westering glory picks out with purest
gold the marble chasteness of the blossoms which droop
sympathetically over kindred stone that marks the spot where heroes
sleep. Here, stealing among the fretwork of light and shade,
the ghostlike form of a woman arrests our attention. In
deepest black she is attired; and now she pauses at a wicket-gate
that leads to a "plot" in which a small white headstone is the
central object. She kneels, and trims the flowers growing on a
mound near the stone. Perhaps her little one lies there; and
she can fancy the spirit of one so loved is hovering among those
sweet emblems of a sweeter soul, and her fingers yearn to fondle
among them. No; her soldier husband sleeps in his death
bivouac beneath that turf, and he fell in defence of his country's
unity. Honour to his name, although it may be among the
nameless! And now other sisters are seen kneeling at similar
graves, a mournful host. If the prayers which I can imagine to be
articulate on their lips are heard, slavery can never again
overshadow that glorious land.
Green-Wood Cemetery, opened in 1838, is now a
National Historic Landmark.
We drive about for miles, forgetful of the character of the
place we are visiting, for it seems too lovely for a tear to be shed
near it. If the dead are there we feel not their presence,
only as though they were with us in the flesh, but a purer flesh
than we know. Two hundred thousand soulless tenants inhabit
these quiet homes, and there are half-way resting places for bodies
to find a temporary shelter when frost or snow prevent the strongest
builder of all from completing his edifice. See Greenwood
Cemetery, and learn to love without tearful regret, is the
benefaction of one heart that is not unacquainted with the deepest
ON THE WAY TO NIAGARA―AB'S FOURTH LETTER TO HIS WIFE.
Queen's Hotel, Toronto, Lower Canada,
May 16, 1880.
Sunday I'll co thee by thy Sunday name, an' not "Owd Ticket," or
summat o' that sort. Sin' thou yeard about me th' last time,
lorgus me, what a lot o' ground we'n gone o'er! I should think
we're very nee tumblin off th' edge o' th' wo'ld. I dar'say
thou'll want to know how I am i' health, as it leaves me at present;
an' whether I've bin bitten wi' owt or not. I may tell thee
I'm o reet, as far as flesh an' booan are concarned. But my
"husk," as owd Jack Robinson used to say, has bin a bit damaged.
It reminds me now an' again ut I'm mortal, an' subject to mortal
ailments, not o together brought on by my own dooins. I've had
a bit o' bad luck lately wi' th' hangin quarter—my neck, as thou'll
understood. A rope round it would hardly feel comfortable just
now. Last week I're bitten wi' a cinder ut fell out o' th'
engine fire of a sky railroad i' New York. I wish I'd howd o'
th' mon ut invented that neck-or-nowt way o' travellin. He'd
be roughly dealt with, I con tell thee. I'd crom a cinder, an
a big un too, wheere th' owd pa'son had th' hummabees. Sammy
o' Moses's winno' believe ut a cinder would drop out o' th' engine,
an' just leet i' my neck, as if my collar wur a dust cart. He
says I must ha' bin i' some hesshole, or other, somewheere.
For t' show thee ut that couldno' happen I may tell thee ut there
are no hessholes i' Yankeeland; so I couldno' tumble i' one; an' I
should ha' moore sense than wrostle a stove pipe, even if it wur
winter, an' it's anythin but winter just now, tho' I've bin welly
starved to deeath within th' week. I'll tell thee how that
Last Sunday we went across th' wayter i' one o' thoose "owd
Ned" beats to the "city o' churches," that's Brooklyn; wheere
Beecher an' Talmage, as thou's yerd spake on, makken folk be good
again their will. Theere I seed one o'th' grandest seets ut
ever thou seed i' thy life, tho' thou's seed many a one, not
forgettin a merry meal or two, an' th' babby's frock ut a kessunin,
beside a hoss race, an' a henpecked club procession. But my
"boss" tells me he's been writin about that, an' if I trespass upo'
his ground he'll hommer me. But there's one thing he tells me
he hadno' mentioned, a mechanical cow. That's an animal of a
breed thou's no' seen i' England. I'm noan hintin at th' pump,
but a gradely cow, an' one ut would let thee milk it without strikin
out, or showin signs ut it ud mak its yead int' an "elevator," an'
gie thee a lift. We'd gone to a place they co'en Coney Island;
that's at th' top end o' Brooklyn. It's a sort of a place like
Blackpool, or New Brighton, or Daisy Nook if ther any sae theere;
obbut ther no lodgin houses nor wot wayter shops. There's nowt
nobbut th' sae, an' a lot o' atin an' drinkin places, an'
photorgraph chaps, beside th' average number o' yorneys, ut one sees
These atin an' drinkin shops dun a good bizness when th'
weather's wot, an' they'rn gettin ready for it then. I'd
noticed a cow stondin very quietly by itsel. It had nobbut
three milk jets. Sammy o' Moses's said it had lost th' tother
wi' havin th' milk feyver. I wonder how he knew ut it had had
it. Considerin ut ther no pastur theere, I wondered how it wur
ut it would stond so quietly, an' let anybody milk it. I said,
"Cope, wench," same as Peggy Thuston used to talk to 'em! but it
never stirred nor mooed. I wondered then if it didno'
understond English; or if ther sich a thing as a cow bein deeaf an'
dumb. While I stood theere, a young woman coome a milkin it.
Hoo swirted out two glasses full but when hoo tried a third it coom
rayther slow. An' now, what surprised me th' mooest, an'
showed me what these Yankees are up to, wur th' way o' gotten th'
cawvesuck int' full flood again, after th' stock had bin drawn off.
Hoo'd takken th' glasses to wheere they'rn wanted, an' then coome
back, as if hoo thowt th' spring had gan out a fresh supply, an'
hood come for moore, or becose hoo browt a can wi' her, hoo mit ha'
bin for feedin th' cow. Well, hoo did feed it; but it wur in a
way ut fairly made me bawk out till thou could ha' yerd me a fielt
off. I'stead o' feedin it at th' mouth, what should hoo do but
oppen a lid at th' top of its back, an' teem a canful o' milk in it,
just like as if hoo're fillin a boiler for weshin. Whether hoo
teemed any wayter in with it I dunno' know. Happen th' Yankees
are no' up to that trick yet, bein a young family.
The Inexhaustible Cow was one of Coney
Island's many attractions in the late 19th century.
This mechanical wooden cow dispensed glasses of milk at
a nickel a time, served by costumed dairy maids.
By kind permission of
Well, isno' that a surprisin sort of a cow? But thou
may bet thy "bottom dollar," as they sayn upo' one thing,—they'n
never mak any beef out o' sich an animal. If they boilt th'
whul carcas, an' made broth on't, they couldno' raise a star for t'
leet it up with.
Th' day after leavin Brooklyn we set out on our road to
Niagara. We nobbut had to travel about four hundert an' fifty
mile, which is looked on as a mere cock-stride i' Yankeeland.
Will o' Jimmy's went wi' us, for tho' he'd lived in Ameriky on an'
off for above twenty year, he'd never seen th' greatest wonder to be
met with i' that country. We'rn gooin to do our travellin by
stages, for t' mak it less of a toil; but it wur a hard enoogh job
as it wur; an' for a start we had t' sail up th' River Hudson in a
neet boat. That's a sort o' travellin thou'd like, bein a
woman; for it's a paradise for women if they'n yorneys o' husbants
for t' look after 'em. These river boats are palaces. I
thowt th' "City o' Berlin" wur grand; but these are grander.
I'm fairly dazed when I fund mysel on board, it seemed sich a size;
an' I'd mony a narrow escape fro' bangin into lookin-glasses, ther
sich a lot on 'em. For a while I couldno' get it int' my yead
ut I're upo' th' wayter; but felt as if I'd bin transported to that
country wheere pantymimes come fro'; an' wheere that lad wi' th'
wonderful lamp wur born. After climbin a pair o' stairs wi'
brass steps, I fund mysel in a grander shop than ever; an' I're
fairly up to the knees i' carpet. I stood stock-still for a
minnit, for, Sarah, I dustno' stir.
Hudson River steamer Albany (ca. 1900).
Th' boat's summat like th' shape o' that tin dish thou feeds
th' ducks out on; an' if thou wur to navigate th' mop-hole
with it, it would draw very nee as mich wayter as th' owd "Drew."
An' talk about paddles! That wayter wheel at Laxey's a foo to
'em. They're so big ut a Yankee towd me—an' I never catch't
one in a single lie—they takken th' boxes off i'th' winter
time, an' makken circuses on 'em. That's th' reason
there's so mony circuses gooin about th' country. It's a grand
sail up th' Hudson even at neet; so what must it be on a fine day?
An' when I tell thee there's about a hundert an' forty mile on't an'
no' twenty yard alike, thou may be sure there's summat for th' een
to look at. Ther some miles on't lit up by what they co'en th'
"leetenin bug;" that's a sort of a flee ut carries a lantern about
with it; but wheere it's hung, or whether it bruns oil, or carries a
'lectrifyin machine on its back, is a thing I never could find out.
But we seed 'em i' thousands; an' th' sparks they droppen are like
little flashes o' leetenin. Ther so mony in a wood we passed
ut I thowt ther rows o' houses at back on't wi' ther windows lit up.
Seein these is one o'th' seets o' this part o'th' wo'ld. But
we'd summat for th' ears, as weel as th' een—sich music as thou
never yerd. I thowt at th' fust ther a lot o' fife an' drum
bands, ut had getten so drunken they'd punsed th' ends o' ther drums
in, an' lost th' finger-holes o' their fifes; for th' yellin,
whistlin noises there wur flogged o.
"Yond chaps 'ud get takken up if they'rn i' owd England," I
said to Sammy o' Moses's, ut wur tryin t' imitate a fife, ut had
summat like a throstle note.
"They'd soon be set down again," Sammy said, quite dryly, an'
"Why, dun they carry revolvers wi' 'em, or summat?"
"Nawe, they'n no 'casion," Sammy said. "If thou wur t'
get howd o' one o' their instriments thou'd soon drop it. Thou
wouldno' blow one for a ten dollar rag."
"Why, what for?"
"Why?" an' he began a-chinkin. "Yond band chaps, as
thou coes 'em, are frogs,—whistlin frogs. When they're i'th'
humour they con whistle Yankee Doodle as weel as a lad wi' two top
"Sammy," I said, when he'd towd me that, "another week 'll
mak thee int' a Yankee. Thou'rt takkin thy larnin up fast.
Thou con tell a tarnation sproanger now without thy hat flyin off.
Whistlin frogs, eh?"
"Just thee ax owd Juddie for t' look i'th' Nattural Hist'ry,
an' see if he con find any ackeaunt o' these whistlin frogs.
But I dar'say he'll think thou'rt havin him on th' stick, an' winno'
That noise, whatever it wur made by, followed us for miles;
an' it wurno' till bunk time ut we yerd th' last on't. When
neet had fairly set in, an' we could see nowt nobbut th' leetenin
bugs' lamps, we went down stairs, four on us, to what they
co'en dinner. I should ha' coed it supper. I're a little
bit sharp-set; an' when one o'th' black stewards ax'd me what I'd
have, I looked down th' list, an' seed "porterhouse steak." By
th' price on't I thowt it must be summat grand; an' as I'd had nowt
yet but I could ha' carved wi' a spoon, I'd goo in for this mess.
So I had to write it on a ticket; an' when th' darkie seed it I
thowt his face would ha' flown oppen, an' lapped o'er th' back o'
"Am it for four," he said, when he'd done grinnin.
"Am it be jiggered!" I said. "It's for mysel.
These chaps mun do their own." An' they did; for they ordered
a "porterhouse steak" apiece as weel as me.
Then th' nigger went fairly wild.
"Here, my noble Zulu," Sammy said; "if thou'rt gooin to
perform a war dance, let's ha' thoose steaks th' fust, or thou'll
get nowt put i' thy hat." But we could hardly get him to goo
his arrand. He kept turnin round an' lookin at us, an'
scrattin his cocoanut; then, givin' another caper, shot out o'th'
Th' steaks wur sich a while a comin ut we'rn welly laft by
oursels; an' ther a good deal o' heavy grumblin gooin on. But
at last they did come; an' four pair o' een flew as wide oppen as th'
darkie's had done before. Any one o'th' steaks wur big enoogh
for a Sunday dinner for o our family before ther any wed, an' a bit
laft o'er for th' weshin day.
"Two you gemmen come to dis dable?" the blackymoor said,
puttin one hauve of his looad on th' next table. Ther wurno'
room enoogh for o'th' lot on one.
I never seed four chaps so o'erfaced i' my life; an' we
looked round for t' see if ther anybody takkin th' stock. A
"porterhouse steak," as they cutten 'em, is intended for four aters,
an' we'd one apiece. Luckily there wurno' mony laft for t'
watch us, an' we stripped for wark. Nob'dy du'st oather spake
or look for a while, everyone wur so gloppent; an' before one hauve
o'th' mess had been put out o'th' seet, th' housein began a-bein
very slow. At last there four honds went up, an' th' battle
wur o'er. Th' steaks had won. I never threw th' sponge
up moore backartly, I con tell thee; but it wur no use. A
mon's nobbut fit for one mon's wark after o.
Ther some heavy snoorin i' our bunk that neet; an' when
mornin broke we tumbled out for t' see if ther owt beside river
wayter to be getten at. We fund summat; an' by th' time we
raiched Albany we'd getten a bit sattled down. Anybody mit ha'
thowt it strange seein four chaps wanderin about th' streets at six
o'clock i'th' mornin, an' not one on 'em wantin a breakfast. I
said if any o'th' tother three named sich a thing I'd tak a
different side o' th' street.
State Street, Albany (ca. 1900).
Source: New York Public Library.
Albany's a nice city; an' moore than that, it's the capital
o'th' New York State. I dar'say thou thinks, like mony a one
beside thee, ut th' Manchester Town Hall is a grand buildin. I
thowt so once; but I dunno' feel as if I wanted to see it again
after seein th' new State House at Albany, or what there is built
on't. It stonds on a risin ground wheere th' main street
oppens into a square, or, as some would co it, a "circus;" an' as we
seed it fro' th' boat it looked like a marble mountain glitterin
i'th' sun. If Solomon's Temple wur owt like it, it's a pity it
wur ever poo'd down an' carted away. But this State House has
bin so long i' buildin ut it's said thoose ut seed th' foundation
stone laid 'll never live to see th' finishin stroke. Cuttin
an' shapin marble isno' like chippin grey stone.
Fro' Albany we took another boat to Troy, about seven mile up th'
river. Theere they'rn showin a whale ut a mon said had bin
catcht a mile or two furr up; but I hardly believed him. Sammy
o' Moses's said it wur "very like a whale," tho' he hadno' seen it.
Fro' Troy we went on a car to Cohoes, wheere we seed th' biggest
factory i'th' wo'ld, an' driven by wayter, too. What surprised
me wur seein at one o'th' durs a sign similar to what we seen i'
parks, wi' th' words painted on, "Please to keep off the grass."
Is there owt o'th' sort to be fund about Butler Street, i'
Harmony Mill No. 3, Cohoes, New York. Probably the mill
referred to by Ab.
Source: New York Public Library.
We put on th' cheek for t' ax if we mit go through this
factory. One o'th' bosses never made no bawks ut lettin us;
an' he sent upstairs for another boss for t' show us round. As
soon as this mon clapt his een on me he fell back again th' wall,
wheere he stood a minit pantin, as if he're out o' wynt. Then
he rubbed his een, an' raked some cotton out of his yure; an' when
he'd getten round a bit he set up sich a shout—
"By goss, if it isno' owd Ab!"
His name's Bradburn Cocker, an' he comes fro' Stalybridge.
He said he'd seen me flourishing my red breeches once at their
wakes. That wur how he coome to know me.
Well, it wur a spree, gooin through thoose miles o' rooms;
but as thou'll no' care for readin owt about the inside of a
factory, I'll nobbut tell thee how we finished up. When we'd
done th' last bit o' "Platt Brothers," Cocker piked up his clooas
an' on wi' his jacket. In an hour after that we're singin like
larks at th' Cataract Hotel, wheere th' Little Mohawk wur joinin us
wi' th' music of its falls, an' th' poppins o' corks put in a note
or two at welcome times. We'd a jolly time on't, obbut it
would bother me to tell how we geet to Troy, an' fro' Troy to
Albany; an' when we tumbled into a railroad carriage for to goo on
to th' City o' Rochester, whoa it wur ut had howd o' my hont, sayin
he'd never leeave me, "owd dog!" I dunno know. Th' last car
whoam, he said had gone; an' he mit as weel go to Niagara, too; but
he didno'. I seed two on 'em, one wur a londlort, tryin to
widen a durhole wi' their shoothers. Whoa th' tother wur I'm
hardly sartin; but I fancy they'd be a boss short at Cohoes th'
AB'S FOURTH LETTER TO HIS WIFE CONTINUED.
AT THE GREAT FALLS
MY fust ride on
what here they co'en a "railroad car" wur about as lively as bein at
a buryin wheere there's eight in a coach. These cars are nowt
like what our carriages are i' England. Th' seats dunno' raich
across, but are divided down th' middle, like th' pews i' our
chapel, ut thou says I seldom see. One seeat's made to howd
two passengers. Folk con oather ride face to face, or back to
back, or spoon fashion, becose th' seats 'll turn o'er. But th'
spoon road's mooest general. Havin so mony windows, some on 'em's
sure to be oppen; an' th' cowd when it is cowd, an' th' dust when
there is dust, an' that's aulus, maks things as pleasant as stondin
in a ginnel ov a wyndy neet waitin o'th' sweetheart comin out.
Ridin i' one o' these cars is sometimes made moore comfortable by th'
yeat ov a red wot stove, ut gives out a smell like that caused by a
saucepan wautin o'er on th' fire. But that neet th' stove wur
cowd, an' so wur th' wynt, tho' we'd bin roasted i'th' daytime; an'
if they'd laid a dust track for us we couldno' ha' bin wur peppered
o'er than we fund ourselves when we geet to Rochester. We
looked just like as if we'd bin turned out of a fustic mill, or had
spent a neet i'th' hesshole.
"The discomforts of 19th Century U.S. rail travel;
weary passengers settling for the night."
Source: Frank Leslie's Illustrated
We rowled out o' Albany "Depot" about eight o'clock, wi' as
cheerful a prospect before us as a gang o' thieves bein sent away at
Government expense, wi' this difference—our prisonment wouldno' last
so long. We knew wi' should ha' to pearch o neet upo' seeats
for two; so ut there'd be no chance o' stretchin out, even if a mon
had boath seeats to hissel; an' that he couldno' have, as we'rn very
throngly packed. We knew, too, ut peckin or weetin one's
whistle would be out o' question. However, that we shouldno'
ha' minded if we could ha' snoozed th' time o'er. But a wooden
rail for a pillow; an' that th' back of another mon's seeat, isno'
like buryin one's nose among fithers; speshly if thoose i'th' front
are given to writhin about; an' now an' then takkin a fancy to
stretchin yo'r yure wi' their coat collar. Will o' Jimmy's
made a deeal o' labbor o' mine; an' I dar'say I gan someb'dy at back
o' me a tidy rakin or two when I stretched up; for I could yer
growls, an' mutterins o' summat ut sounded like—
"I guess I git to go for yew, old woman, if yew don't keep
outter my haair."
If I sit up, an' tried to keep wakken, ther nowt to look at
nobbut summat like an owd lumber yard, wheere ther a lot o'
loomstays reared up, some wi' boots at th' end, an' others wi' a
bare stockin. Thoose ut had notions o' comfort different to
mine had their legs up as straight as if they'rn gooin to balance a
pow, an' wur waitin for th' music.
An' now that just reminds me ut I'd some music at back o' me
ut wurno' calkilated for soothin a savage breast. I dar'say it
would be summat after midneet; an' I'd nodded, an' winked, an'
blinked, an' yawned, an' writhen about, till I felt moore in a
feightin humour than any other, when summat interfered for t' put a
bit o' life into me. After feelin "around," as a Yankee would
say, for a yezzy shop, I felt mysel gooin into some strange lond,
wheere there nowt nobbut deead timber groon, an' at wur used for
hens pearchin on. I could yer the sound of a steeam saw
crashin through knots an' nails, an it so edged my teeth that I
wakkent, an' fund at th' noise wur caused by two chaps at back o'
me. They couldno' sleep theirsels; so I reckon they'd take
care ut nob'dy elze slept. They talked to one another loud
enoogh for t' ha' kept folk wakken i'th' next car, an' anybody ut
has yerd a gradely Yankee spout his words down his trunk needs no
description fro' me. That wur th' sawin I'd yerd i' my dream.
"I wish yo'd poo thoose pennytrumpets out o yo'r noses, an'
talk gradely," I shouted out, for they'd robbed me of at least forty
winks. "Yo'r wurr than a childer's band."
They quietened down for a bit; but I could see they didno'
like givin in to a Britisher. In a while they'rn at it again,
"guessin," an' "is that so" in, as loud as ever. I turned my
yead again, for my temper wur as rowsty as an owd scythe, an' I
"I guess if yo' dunno' tak that owd lumber saw into some
other yard, there'll be some tarnation opposition, for I'll sing,
an' see how yo'n like that."
Three yeads i'th' front on me rose up as sudden as
pigeons out of a trap; an' three fists were shaked; an' I yerd a
solemn warnin fro' someb'dy—
"Howd thy noise, Ab, or thou'll have us shot. He's
pointin his revolver this road now." Then th' yeads went out
o'th' seet, mine with 'em, as nee th' floor as I could get.
By gadlins, Sarah, how I swat!—though I'd bin hauve starved
to deeath before. Wi' mixin as I had done among folk, an'
findin 'em very much like one's sel, obbut a bit moore politer than
some on us are, I'd forgetter their ways o' feightin. I're
down wi' my nose to th' floor till my knees wur given way; an' when
I're fairly done up I yerd some titterin, an' then a gradely yawp
out o' laafin. Th' tother chaps wur havin a bit o' fun at my
expense. Thoose two Yankees had shifted to another car, as
they con do at any time without th' train stoppin. I dar'say
they'rn feart o' my singin, an' had gone out o'th' road on't.
I geet a vote o' thanks after for what I'd done; but it wur gan on
condition ut I didno' try it on again, as it met leead to some
bizness bein done i'th' drillin line. I promised I'd keep out
o' danger as mich as I could for their sakes; but I considered I
carried th' owd British flag o'th' top o' my shoulders; an' if
anybody made a hole through it they met look out. But I should
never "strike" it to anybody. Theer's pluck for thee, Sarah.
I felt a bit o' relief when dayleet broke, an' I could look
out o'th' window, tho' there wurno' mich to look at. Railroad
travellin here is nowt like what it is i'th' owd country. We
may run fifty mile, an' fancy we'n turned back a dozen times or so,
an' wur gooin through th' same country o'er again. No green
hedges to be seen like thoose ut are gettin scarcer i' owd England;
but i' their places what they co'en "snake," or "worm fences;" th'
ugliest things ut could be planned by th' owd Lad hissel, if he'd
full scope, an' wur tryin to mak this wo'ld a place fit for nobbut
blynt folk to live in. These fences are made o' trees ut are
fit for nowt elze, nobbut brunnin, an' hardly that. These are
split up th' middle; an' laid one piece on th' top of another, in a
zig-zag way; here an' theere bund t'gether by a yeap o' tree roots,
th' legs up'art. Some fences are made o' nowt nobbut tree
roots; an' these are th' ugliest of any. We'd now an' then
come on a solitary farmhouse, wheere there'd be an orchat i' full
blossom, an' these to us wur as refreshen as just havin a cupful
fro' under th' berm. About hauve past five we rowled into th'
City o' Rochester, a very fine town on the Genesee river, an' about
seven mile fro wheere it joins Lake Ontario. Th' country, I'd
noticed, looked a deeal better than th' mooest we'd seen; an' when
thou comes to consider ut ther about four thousant acres o' fruit
gardens scattered round th' district, thou'll think ut Ameriky isno'
o alike. Thou may be sure ut Rochester is a thriven place when
thou'rt towd ut i' 1820 ther nobbut 1,502 folk in it; an' forty year
after th' number raiched 48,243.
State Street, Rochester (ca. 1900).
Source: New York Public Library.
For th' width o' th' streets, an' th' fineness o' their
buildins, we'd seen nowt like it nowhere, not even i' New York.
These we could see at their best, becose ther nob'dy stirrin.
We'n nowt like it i' England. Th' buildins are built o' blue
limestone, an' look everywheere as if they'd everyone bin put up
yesterday; ready stocked wi' goods; windows ready furnished; signs
new painted; an' wur waitin for tenants. That wur th'
appearance o'th' town about six o'clock ov a cowd sunshoiny mornin,
when four shiverin, dusty, an' sleepy owls wur blinkin through th'
streets, huntin up warm coffee an' shoeblacks. We'd had a run
o' two hundert an' thirty mile without tastin owt.
Just afore we'rn ready for droppin i'th' street we yerd th'
dur o' summat like a barber's shop bein unbarred; an' we'rn round it
like flees at a lump o' sugar in a minit.
Just what we wanted. Coffee wur ready; but ther nowt to
be had thicker, as it wur nobbut a bit of a stond-up box, made
pleasantly sweet wi' th' smell o' paraffin. But it wur a grand
hotel to us then.
"Con we have owt stronger than coffee?"
"I guess yew can."
"Brandy, or whiskey, or rum."
"We'n dropt on our feet, Sammy. I'm for rum."
"Th' tother chaps would ha' th' same; an' we had it, but a
thousant to one that rum had never seen Jimmyaco. I've
wondered sin' if th' mon had made a mistake an' gan us paraffin.
It wur summat like th' flavour. As it wur owt wur welcome if
it wur weet an' warm, like Owdham breawis! By th' time we'd
swilled our throats out, an' paid five cents apiece for our shoon
havin their faces breetent, ther a place oppent ut we could feed at.
Things wur lookin up then. We breakfasted like lords,
an' when we'd had a swill in a tin mug, an' our clooas rid o' clouds
o' dust ut streeamed out o' th' dur like reech, an' set passers-by
agate o' sneezin', th' City o' Rochester, fine as it looked two
hours afore, had improved ten fowd. Th' buildins wur then like
marble. We'rn so ta'en up wi' th' place ut we missed our on
train, an' had to wait another hour an' a hauve. That we didno'
care for mich, as we'd had quite enoogh o' rails for a week.
But at last we geet off, swingin past moore miles o' snake fences,
so like thoose ut we'd past ut I'd a misgivin ut we'd gotten on th'
wrong train, an' wur gooin back again. But we'rn reet.
Sometime i'th' afternoon, an' after we'd had another change, we fund
oursels rumblin slowly o'er a bridge, an' Sammy o' Moses's said:
"Here we are. Look out, chaps."
I looked out, an' seed summat i'th' distance ut reminded me
o' that weir at th' Wayter Side, obbut it mit be a bit broader an'
"What is there to be seen here?" I axt.
"Wheay, th' Falls—what elze?" Sammy said. "Cont' no'
see 'em? Be sharp, or elze thou'll miss 'em."
"Wheay, th' Falls o' Niagara, thou hurnyead!"
Steel suspension bridge at Niagara
Falls (at left on next image).
Source: New York Public Library.
"Yond bit o' wayter th' Falls o' Niagara?" An' my heart
fairly crept down to my shoon. I thowt it wur a gradely Yankee
sell. "Han we travelled four hundert an' fifty mile for t' see
summat ut looks like a big day-leet reflector i' some back street i'
Manchester. I've a good mind to stop wheere I am, or goo on to
Toronto, if that's o there is to be seen." I would ha' done,
too, if I hadno' bin hungry.
I felt a bit consoled, after we'd crossed th' bruck, when
Sammy pointed to a house on our left hond wheer ther a jolly-lookin
owd chap stondin at th' dur, as if he mit be lookin out for us.
"That's th' shop," Sammy said, pointin to th' house.
"Roslie's Hotel. If we con get fixed theere we're o reet.
Th' best an' chepest place at th' Falls. I hope there's a good
dinner ready now. Ab ud give o'er skrikin as soon as he're sit
down. Now, chaps, get ready for yo'r baggage being examined;
we're under th' British flag now."
"Is that so?" I said. An' I looked out. Ay,
theere th' Union Jack wur wavin an' flutterin as briskly as if it
had bin upo' our chimdy for thy birthday. I felt then as if I
wurno' above two mile fro' whoam, an' could goo in a cart. I'd
seen so mony stars and stripes that I began to think ther nowt elze
i'th' wo'ld. Everythin wur starred an' striped—dresses,
bonnets, stockins, an' at one place we'd bin at we seed a young
woman wi' a wooden leg painted th' same pattern as her odd stockin.
That's patriotic feelin for thee. How would thou look wi' a
pair o' Union Jacks at thy boot tops, an' th' lion an' unicorn
dabbed on thy back? Seein a bit o' English colour wur hauve
mayte to me; an' I gan in for t' have my baggage examined as quietly
as a mon ut's havin his pockets overhauled by two thieves.
These things getten through we trotted down to owd Roslie's, for t'
see it he could find us a bunk apiece; an' when he said he could,
an' we'd looked inside, I felt quite reconciled to Niagara Falls,
even if it wur a Yankee sell.
We'd getten now in a wo'ld o' quiet, wheere folk wurno'
breakin their necks for t' keep on their feet. Th' very pictur o'
owd Roslie hissel wur enoogh for me. He'd no loce skin about his
gills; nor they couldno' co' him a wittled down stalk o' humanity! He're as fine a Jack Bull as ever I seed; an' if ther wurno' sich
things about, I could yer th' clankin o' buckets, scrapin o' hoses'
feet, th' squeakin of a pump, an' th' gee-wo's o' jolly wagginers. I're fairly gloppent when he towd me he're a Swiss. I didno' think
ther any country under th' owd sun ut could ha' bred sich like
nobbut owd England. But it seems Switzerlond con. Th' house wur like
th' londlort. Every nook an' stair carried with it th' same look o'
hospitable welcome (big words, Sarah), an' I flung my hat upo' the
table as if I'd bin awhoam. Whoa cared owt about th' Falls o'
After we'd dusted an' damped our husks we planked oursels down at th'
table; an' I mun say ut a better dinner never made my mouth watter. Then everythin about wur so nice an' cool, wi' garden trees
flattenin their noses again th' window, as if they wanted to watch
my bit o'th' performance; an' our jolly host lookin like a big posey
at th' yead of o! Niagara behanged! I felt as if I're noane gooin t'
stir fro' theere to look at an owd silver gridiron. However, th'
tother chaps prevailed on me to go wi' 'em. So we romped into a
two-hoss carriage; an' we rowled through about four inches thick o'
dust till I yerd a hummin sound ut geet louder as we went on. Then
ther a roar ut made my flesh creep—we'rn at th' Falls.
After londin fro' th' carriage I fixed mysel like one o' thoose
wooden Indians they han at 'bacco shop durs i' New York, an' stood
starin at—What? Not wayter, surely, but millions o' loads o' hay,
rowlin an' jumpin up fro' miles away, for t' be tumbled o'er a rock
above a hauve a mile wide, an' down a depth of above sixty yard
deep, never to be seen again. What a waste o' fodder, I thowt. Then
it took another form,—mountains stricken wi' th' rod o' Moses an'
melted down, an' tryin to find another restin place they're hurried
into Eternity. Like th' shifting slides of a magic lantern it grew
into another an' moore awful seet. This made my yure rise,—not wi'
fear, but wi' wonder; for I felt same as Charles Dickens when he're
on th' same spot, that I're face to face wi' th' Great God of o. I'd
lost my companions, tho' they stood by me. I'd no recollection of
ever havin any. I'd forgetten everythin,—ay, even thee. Th' wo'ld
I'd lived in had vanished; an' in that awful sound that rang, an'
kept ringin', an' wur to me a summons to Judgment, I could yer
angels' trumpets; an ' th' singin o' thoose blessed souls ut I hoped
to see ere long, tho' I felt mysel an' unworthy visitor. An' this
long kept grooin an' grooin,—bigger an' bigger, till I felt as if I're
bein lifted off my feet, an' wur soon to join that great choir that wur fillin heaven wi' this everlastin music. Then I're startled wi'
a voice that had at one time bin familiar to me—
Niagara: American and Horseshoe Falls from Canada.
"What dost think about th' Falls now, Ab?"
"Sammy," I said, "where has thou sprung fro'? Has thou changed thy
state o' bein, too?"
"Rayther moore than an owd silver gridiron, Abram? How dost feel?"
"As I'd like to feel for ever, Sammy. Time wur once when I liked a
good joke, or a good skit. But now there's summat tinglin through me
of a grander feelin, an' I dunno' wish it to be disturbed. How long han we been here?"
"Above an hour."
"An' han yo' never gone away?"
"Not a yard. When I axt thee how thou felt, I meant what wur th'
state o' thy throttle."
"What, Sammy—are we i'th' owd wo'ld yet?"
"Noane o' thy dreeamin, Ab, here. Come an' have a lager. It's a dry
job watchin wayter."
"Poo me away, then, for I feel as if I couldno' goo o' mysel." But
o' somehow it didno' want mich to draw me when I fund we'rn still on
th' yearth. Oh, mighty Niagara; upon thy wondrous face could my
vision dwell for ever!
We're just gooin out for a droive, so sha' no' ha' time to write to
thee again, an' finish this Niagara job, till we getten to Montreal;
un' that's three hundert an' ten miles away. Good neet, owd brid! Th'
next time thou yers fro' me we shall ha' shot th' "Lachine Rapids,"
if we dunno' get dashed on th' rocks, an' shall ha' crossed Lake
Ontario. Pray for th' safety o'—Thy wanderin pilgrim, AB.
AB'S FIFTH LETTER TO HIS WIFE.—WHITEWESHIN A NIGGER.
Ottawa Hotel, Montreal, May 19, 1880.
BLESSIN!—It's ringin i'
my ears yet; an' shut my een as I will a great shadow keeps stondin
before me, an' howdin our little Betty in its arms. It's a
good while sin I're boggart-feart afore; but I am now. I'm so
that I hardly know th' difference o' bein asleep an' bein wakken.
I may be dreamin now for owt I know. It's nobbut when a
Miss-Kitty gets a mouthful fro' just at the back o' my ear that I
con feel sure ut I'm among th' realities. Then I do
feel sure; an' say things ut I shouldno' like t' see i' print.
But that music, Sarah, never leeaves me; an' it's aulus playin th'
same tune,—one continual rowl o' thunner without leetenin.
As mich as I seed o'th' Great Falls th' fust day I'd seen
nowt to what filled my een,—ay, even till I believed I could see wi'
my ears—th' day after. Thee dunno' believe folk when they
tellen thee they con yer th' sound o'th' Falls five miles afore they
getten to 'em. They conno' yer 'em a hauve a mile off till
they'n seen 'em. Then they may yer 'em three thousant five
hundert miles away, as I shall yer 'em when I get whoam. Thou
may think it's becose I've getten a cowd i' my yead; or had it
inside a keg o' lager; but it isno'.
Thou knows ut I'm a tickle sleeper—ut I'd give owt sometimes
for a firm wink or two, speshly when I conno' ackeaunt for mysel,
an' know what I may expect when thou's flung thy neetcap on th'
drawers, as savagely as if thou'd bin cloddin at a cat. But my
fust neet at owd Roslie's I lay on a softer bed than could be made
o' fithers; for I felt as if I're lyin upo' nowt—swimmin, as one may
say; or flyin bout wings. Th' music o'th' Falls, an' bein
without th' fear o' thy tongue i'th' mornin, geet me asleep as
nicely as a babby wi' its thumb in its mouth; or as a lad when his
tooth's gan o'er wartchin. I' my dreeams I're out of o
reckonin. I couldno' remember leeavin this wo'ld; but still I
must ha' left it. I're bothered to think how I'd slipped thee;
or whether thou'd drawn my full buryin brass or not; becose th' last
club neet I didno' pay up. I hoped thou hadno' spent what bit
thou had to draw upo' coaches; an' ut thou'd get wed again.
I're a little bit gloppent i'th' mornin when I wakkent; an' yerd
what I took to be a whul hive o' hummabees buzzin i'th' window.
That wur th' sound o'th' Falls. I lay wakken mony a minit
afore I du'st oppen my een; as I didno' want to find it out ut I're
wick. But when I yerd a voice ut I'd yerd afore mony a time;
an' that voice said "Physic time, Abram," I gan mysel up to another
round o' mortal ills.
"What, ninety-five cents' wo'th again, Sammy?" I said; for
thou may calkilate whoa it wur ut stood at my bedside, howdin a
glass in his hont wi' a piece o' ice in it. They usen a deeal
o' ice i' these parts.
"Nawe, it's noane sich a price here as it is i' New York,"
Sammy said. An' he took his own share o' iced "physic," ut
seemed to do him good o at once. I think it's th' climate ut's
th' cause on't, th' air's so very leet an' fine.
"Sammy," I said, after I'd oiled th' wheels o'th' mornin, so
ut they'd go round sweeter, "I thowt afore I wakkent ut I'd
flattened my nose again an iceberg for th' last time. I dreamt
I'd slipped my cable, an' sailed o'er to th' majority."
"If I could dreeam like thee I'd ne'er be wakken," Sammy
said, oppenin th' shutter blinds, like oppenin a pair o' cubbort
durs, an' lettin in a streeam o' sunshoiny leet ut made me
reconciled to another leease o' this sort o' life, an' th' bother
there is with it. "Anybody ut con lie i' bed a mornin like
this is fit for nowt nobbut dreeamin. Get up; we're gooin down
th' Falls after breakfast."
"Down th' Falls, Sammy! Yo'n ha' to goo without me,
then. Thou knows I conno' swim; an' if I could they wouldno'
catch me divin that depth. Nawe, Sammy, go yo'rsels; I'm noane
so tired o' livin yet."
"But we shall go down in a carriage," Sammy said. "Thou'll
never know ut thou art gooin till thou gets to th' bottom, if
thou'll shut thy een."
"Dun other folk do it?" I axt.
"Ay, everybody ut comes here."
"Well, I dar do owt ut other folk dun, obbut bein wicked, an'
gooin up in a balloon." An' I sprang out o' bed, an' girded up
my loins for what I dar'say thou'll think wur a foolhardy marlock.
Whether it wur or not, thou'll soon see.
After we'd etten enoogh for a day we mounted our carriage
again, like four lords, an' rowled down Clifton i' grand style.
Afore we went down th' Falls we drove to a place they co'en
Chippewa, wheere ther a battle fowght once between th' English an'
Americans. O that line o' frontier is noted for oather
feightin or smugglin; speshly smugglin. Owd Roslie knows
summat about that. He's yerd a bullet whizz past him afore
now. We'rn shown into a house wheere ther a well, an' inside
this well ther a pipe wi' a blaze at th' end. This they co'en
the "Burning Spring." I didno' like th' smell o' that shop, I
con tell thee; an' when Sammy o' Moses's said nob'dy knew wheere th'
gas coome fro', but wur thowt to coome through a crack i'th' roof
o'th' Owd Lad's Palace, it didno' mak me think a bit better on
it. I'd rayther ha' gas ut had been made somewheere elze, if I
paid moore for it. A Yankee towd me ut owd Mesther Nick had
once bin seen, as he said, "prowlin around," for t' see if he could
find th' leakage out. But he're feart that if he tried to stop
it Niagara mit break through, an' damage his bizness. So he
didno' meddle wi' it. What a pity!
We drove back to what there is left o'th' "Table Rock," an'
theere I're lost i' my dreeams again. Lookin down into th'
trough wheere th' wayter tumbles we could see as mony as five
rainbows at once. An' as th' sun shifted they shifted;
sometimes breakin into pieces, an' at others formin very nee a whul
circle. They'rn not as big as th' rainbows we seen i' England,
but they moore on 'em to mak up for size. An' these con be
seen o th' day o'er when th' sun shoines, oather o' one side th'
river or th' tother.
When we'd getten as nee drunken as wur safe wi' lookin down
th' Falls, we crossed o'er a bridge ut I thowt we must never see th'
end on, it wur sich a length an' made o' wire, too; what dolt think
about that? When we did get across we'rn stopped at a tow-bar;
an' a mon coome round a-seein' if we'd any baggage with us.
We'rn on th' American side again.
"Dollar and a half," th' tow-bar chap said! an' he held his
hont out to me.
"What for?" I wanted to know.
"Toll," wur th' onswer.
"Carriage an' body duty," Sammy o' Moses's said, as I thowt
not i'th' pleasantest way. He seemed to ha' made his mind up that we
shouldno' be allowed to stir i'th' load of freedom an' "clam
chowder" without havin to fork out, an' smartly too. "Everythin has
to pay duty. Hosses an' carriage a hauve a dollar, an' a quarter
apiece for us. Get yo'r green shin plaisters out, we sha' not ha'
Niagara two-tier suspension bridge (1855-95).
Well, I thowt that wur a corker; but ther no help for it; we
had to part. It's lucky for folks' feelins ut they'n so mich
papper money in Yankeeland. Fling a five dollar rag down an'
it seems nowt. Get three dollars an' a hauve i' silver for
change, an' we favvorn havin th' best side o'th' swap. I felt
a deeal better satisfied after that, calkilatin ut I're a richer mon.
If we'd that sort o' papper money i' England we should never save
nowt, becose it looks wo'th nowt. A Yankee 'll tak a hontful
out of his pockets, as if he're gooin t' leet his pipe wi' 'em an'
anybody ut'll ax may have as mony as he wants.
Havin sattled our "just dues an' demands," as our ley felly
used to say, an' wheeled on a bit furr, we coome to th' entrance o'
what I took to be a tunnel. Well, it wur a tunnel i' one
sense, but it wur like lookin down a long pair o' stairs, wi' rails
fro' top to bottom. Moore forkin out. Then we geet into
a carriage, an' I shut my een. I yerd a rumblin sound, an'
felt a shakin under me; an' my inside wur a bit i'th' way one feels
when we're pearched at th' end of a ship ut's hee up on a wave, then
comes soss down i'th' sea wi' a plunge ut shakes every plank.
Or it wur a bit like gooin down a coalpit, obbut noane so dark.
When I felt we'd let at th' bottom I oppent my een, an', eh, dear
me, Sal, I fund we'rn at th' bottom o'th' Falls.
Believe me, bein at th' top wur nowt to bein here. I'd
lost my companions again, an' I're i' meditation wi' summat I didno'
know, an' could never get to th' sacret on till I'd thrown off these
fleshy trammels. This great sheet that's bein unrowled fro' th'
top must be th' drapery ut covers that "Great White Throne" we
reader about; an' out o' that white cloud th' sun's collectin an'
distributin segments o' coloured arches for t' build one glorious
canopy that should cover a comin Greatness; an' that comin Greatness
should rise eaut o' that white cleaud, an' th' unrowlin o' that
mighty screen should stop for ever, The Kingdom of the Most High
shall ha' bin begun. These wur my feelins, mind thee; an'
thou'd ha' had bin th' same if thou'd bin theere. Do what I
would; feel about, an' try to think different; grope among solid
rocks for an argyment, I couldno' bring mysel to believe ut these
things wur o' this wo'ld.
Let me shut my wings, an' come to mysel again, for I feel
just now drunken wi' glory and beauty. We'rn wund up th'
railroad, an' we drove off to another place wheer ther moore tow to
pay on th' road. We must ha' gone a couple of miles, or so,
when we stopped again. Moore tow. We'rn lookin down into
th' "Whirlpool Rapids," a fearful seet. I could ha' looked at
th' Falls for days, an' never felt a bit terrified. But here
my knees shaked; an' my yead wur havin a good deeal of its own road.
Well, I may say ut my whul carcase wur in a state o' general wacker.
How I du'st ventur down four hundert steps, an' into that—I're very
nee usin a feaw word, I dunno' know. But I fund mysel at th'
bottom, watchin a hundert thousant Macbeth witches, doancin round
an' round; an' throwin their arms an' heels up i' wild, an' never
slackenin fury. An' what wur th' cause o' this, I wondered.
I're towd; an' when I yerd it explained I felt moore terrified than
ever. When one comes to consider that twenty-eight theausant
tons o' wayter are dashed o'er th' Falls every second, we may think
ut that wayter would find its way to somewheere elze, an' no be very
partikilar as to what wur i'th road on't. But th' surface o'th'
river for a mile or two below th' Falls is as quiet as that owd ink
gutter i' Manchester; an' that looks strange. Wayter, when it
tumbled sixty yard, an' sich a quantity on't, must be a great weight
when it leets. So it dives, like a diver under th' breast o'th'
river, an' coomes up above three miles away at th' "Whirlpool
Rapids." What a depth Niagara must be! I've read that a
Canadian sodier, wishing to desert to th' States, tried to cross th'
river on a raft; but gettin too nee th' Rapids, he're swept into th'
whirlpool, wheere for days after his mangled body was seen like a
ghost gooin round an' round, wheere no human hond could raich him,
an' wheere th' witches claimed him as their own.
I left that hole wi' a shudder, an' if I 're in a wackerin
state when I went down, how must I ha' bin after climbin that stair
o' four hundret steps? I felt lagerish, thou may be sure, an'
my knees wanted spelkin. We drove back again to th' Falls.
Moore tow. Here we crossed I dunno' know how mony bridges ut
linked a lot o' islands t'gether, wheere th' wayter wur takkin its
clooas off as if strippin for its great dive. Nob'dy con have
th' leeast idea o' what's gooin down till they'n bin on thoose
islands, an' watched it come rushin an' jumpin for miles—millions o'
meaunted Assyrians, comin down "like wolves on the fold," to find
another Libnah for their destruction. We sit lookin on this
seet till th' sun gan us warnin ut ther no twileet theere as there
is i' England, an' ut we'd better be stirrin afore it chopped dark.
Then th' air felt keen, an' my bonds wur same as if I'd bin trampin
throogh snow. We gethert up our booans, ut wur then a bit
jaded, an' after another tow we londed safe at owd Roslie's dur, one
on us feelin like a little lad ut's seen "owd Mango" for th' fust
time, for thoose "Whirlpool Rapids" wur as a neetmare to me.
Th' day after we did a lozzick, oitch gooin his own road an'
spendin his time as he'd a mind. I looked round Clifton, for
t' see what th' place wur like, an' th' tother chaps went somewheere
elze. I'th' afternoon I're in at a do ut wur as comical as it
wur unexpected. It wur a nigger-whiteweshin. I're dooin
a "scoot" round about th' station, lookin out for a bit o' summat
that I could bring thee for a present when I coome whoam, when, as
I're passin th' dur of a "Saloon," I thowt I could yer voices ut
sounded like bein i' our fowt so I'd turn in, as thou'll think.
"Gosh!" wur th' fust word I yerd as I went in, an' it coome
fro' between th' clog-heel lips of as jolly a lookin darkie as ever
put a cloud between me an' th' sun. Three or four o'th' tother
company mit ha' bin fresh fro' Lancashire; an' when I said, "How are
yo', lads?" ther a lot o' honds held out.
"Fro' th' owd country?" one on 'em said, as his hond gripped
mine wi' no kid-glove squeeze.
"Th' same shop, an' no' long fro' it," I said.
"I'm no' long fro' it, noather," he said, an' he squoze
again. "We're just havin a bit of a skit wi' this darkie.
We're gooin to whitewesh him, an' mak a Christian on him for th'
neet. The bargain's made within ten cents. We'n offered
him forty, but he wants fifty."
"I'll stond th' balance," I said. "So yo' con get to
wark. But yo'r not gooin to use lime, are yo'?"
"Nawe; it's a sort o' distemper paint we usen at th' station.
It's i' that can, theere. It'll do him no hurt if it doesno'
get into his een. He knows what it is hissel. Now Sambo,"
he shouts to th' nigger, "get that mug o' thine ready. Th'
hauve dollar's made up. We'n decorate thee till yo'r Deb'll
think thou's swapt yeads wi' someb'dy."
"Oh, golly, aint it jist dat?" Sambo cried out, grinnin so
that grease wheezed out of every wrinkle that divided his face wi'
stripes. "Haf dollah?"
"Money down." An' two quarters were flung on th'
counter. "Thou mun shut that gap, too, or thou'll tak ten
cents' wo'th off thy face."
"Am it shut much enuff now?" Sambo wanted to know. An'
he levelled down his face till his lips stood out furr than his
"By geaw!—talk about whiteweshin a fryin pon. It ud be
a foo to this job. Poo that collar off; I meean havin thee as
perfect as I con."
Sambo off wi' his collar, an' sprad his shirt-neck oppen, as
if he're gooin t' have his throat cut; then his operator took up th'
paint can, an' began a-stirrin th' paint up wi' his brush.
"Thou owt ha' had thoose cracks puttied up, Jim," one o'th'
company said. "Thou'll no' be able t' get down in 'em."
"I'll manage, thou'll see," Jim said; an' he held his brush
as if he're gooin t' gie th' nigger a dab i'th' mouth. "Put
thy scrubber back, Sam, an' shut thy een. That'll do."
Sambo put his yead back, an' shut his een. Then Jim
just drew th' brush across wheere th' "cracks" wur. Thoose wur
wrinkles,—an' ther a shout.
"Thou mun leeave his eebrees black, Jim; or elze he'll look
like a whiteweshed pig," one o'th' watchers said.
"I'll work round thoose, thou'll see," Jim said; an' he did,
leeavin as nice a black arch as thou'd wish to see on a pratty
woman's face. Then he gan th' nose a daub; an' his cheek
booans; an' of o'th' comical faces ut ever I seed in a toy shop
window, that wur th' comicalist.
I fund mysel makkin as big a noise as ever Billy Buttonhole
did; an' at every stroke ut th' painter made I roared louder.
I shouldno' ha' begrudged twenty cents for to ha' seen that
performance. Just as Jim wur gettin under Sambo's nose his
black-an'-white-ship began a-splutterin, an' shakin his "scrubber,"
an' battin his een, as if he'd gettin a mouse in his throat.
Then he yelled out—
"It am in my mout. Oh, golly, no. Jeerusalum, dat
aint de ticket."
"I'm nobbut makkin a border line," Jim said, gooin on wi' his
They'n know thou'rt nobbut a painted nigger if an inch or two
o' that gash isno' filled up. Let him have a swill o' lager,
chaps; it'll mix weel wi' this paint."
Darkie had his swig, an' then let Jim finish his "border"
without any moore splutterin. Th' job wur done straight-forrard,
th' white endin at that lump i' Sambo's throat. I'd like to
know how he went on when he geet whoam. Their "Deb" would
overhaul him, I think. But hoo couldno' do mich at his
"scrubber," because he hadno' a yure on ut thou could ha' getten
howd on wi' th' pincers; an' thou'rt a middlin good operator
i' that line.
We'd a rare jollification after. We mit ha' bin at th'
owd Bell, ther sich singin. Ift' wants to be satisfied, I may
tell thee I didno' sing mysel, so thou may sleep upo' that. Th'
tother chaps wur so mad when I towd 'em what fun I'd had, they
threatened to chuck me into th' Whirlpool Rapids for no' lettin 'em
know. I think it's that ut gan me th' neetmare, for I dreamt I
seed thee i' th' Rapids, ginnin round an' round, an' shoutin to me
for t' help thee out. I couldno' help thee, for th' Indians
had teed me fast to a tree. But I welly pood th' tree up by th'
roots wi' strugglin to get to thee. What art sayin?—"Gammon,