Fannie De C. Miller.

Snap notes of an eastern trip, from diary of Fannie de C. Miller online

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reflection on my o\vii nothingness, and from
this sublime scene my thoughts go back to
history, to the humble Jesuit missionary of the
Indians, Fr. Hennepin, whose features were
the first belonging to white man reflected in
these turbulent waters, as far back as 1678.

Entering another bazaar to inspect curios,
of which there is an infinity, we select a few,
and, taking our carriage again, return to the
Cataract Hotel, two miles distant, for our lunch.
The property in the vicinity of the whirlpool,
on the American side, belongs to the De Veaux
Military Academy, which solemn-looking stone
structure, covered with ivy, we pass on our way
from the bazaar. Niagara City boasts a popu
lation of seven thousand, but I have remarked
very few fine-looking homes, and the houses
are mostly scattering and poor. The only im
pressions, of course, are effected by the river
and falls. The city, from my humble idea of
progress, is far behind the age, considering
that trains enter it every half hour, bearing
excursionists by the hundred, who fill the
streets, marching along with lunch baskets,
but are lost amid the great wonders, to reap
pear when their trains return. The beauti
fully located city grows slowly.

Finding that it is only eleven o clock, we con
clude to cross the new suspension bridge (one


thousand two hundred and sixty-eight feet long),
"designed for foot passengers and carriages," and
enter Canada, to view magnificent Niagara from
the heights above Victoria Park. Reaching the
Canadian shore, we pass the "Clifton House," a
beautiful hotel, with broad porches garnished
with vines, palms, and potted plants, and drive
through Queen Victoria s Park, a fine lawn-
covered sunny slope, whence we view in silence
the great world wonder of American scenery.
The day is lovely indeed, and everything con
ducive to the fullest enjoyment of the mar
velous grandeur of the scene. We spin along
the ridge to "Clark s Burning Springs," a mys
tery in themselves.

Entering the observatory building, we are
conducted to a semi-dark room. From the
center of the floor projects a pipe about two
and a half feet high, connected with the Burn
ing Spring below, and to the top of this pipe
the attendant touched a lighting match, when
the gas instantly burst into a soft blaze, and
to it he applied a piece of newspaper, which
ignited, yet the heat was not so intense that
the hand could not be passed rapidly through
it without burning. The keeper gave us each
a drink of the water from the mineral spring
connected with it. Upon asking for a result
of the analysis, we were informed that it con-


tains principally sulphur, iron, and magnesia,
and my own imagination supplied stale eggs.
The burning springs were discovered over a
century ago, by Indians building a camp fire,
and it is said that they were quickly dispersed
by fright when the gas ignited and remained
burning, they deeming the place haunted by
evil spirits. For a great number of years the
story was known only by tradition, and the
spot lost sight of, until located by the present
managers. Ascending to the observatory sur
mounting the building, I looked long and
interestedly at the Niagara lake or river as it
appears sullenly in the distance above the falls,
the water flowing smooth and glossy in the
shining sunlight, but becoming rough and
foamy as it approaches the vast chasm, pre
cipitating itself one hundred and sixty-four
feet, making its fall resound to a great distance.
The Iroquois language is indeed concise, for
its simple word "Niagara" expresses "mighty,
wonderful, thundering water." My attention,
riveted in devout admiration and amazement,
cannot be directed elsewhere. Turn as I may,
the eye of interest reverts to the fleecy, misty,
soft, eternal flow of the magnificent waters.
Up on the Ontario commons stands an impos
ing gray stone convent, but I could not learn
what order of nuns conducts it.



Ere descending from the observatory I kiss
my hand to Canada, because it held the early
married lives of my dear parents, and, next to
California, had sweetest memories and most
interest for them. As \ve recross the bridge,
the little steamer Maid of the Mist is making
her pleasure trips between the American and
Canadian landings, and, under the spray and
rainbow tinting, looks phantom-like and lovely.
Prospect Park, on American side, is smaller than
Victoria, but wooded and beautiful. On our
way back to the hotel is shown the vessel in
which the Amazon made the swim of the whirl
pool. It is a long barrel, smaller at one end,
with opening in the side. Reaching the "Cata
ract" we lunch at noon, after which Mrs.
Murphy retires to her room, and we, the rest
of the sight-seers, walk up to the "Cave of the
Winds." I am troubled with a cold, and can
not descend, but the others do, and present a
most comical appearance "rigged out" in the
oil clothing furnished by the keepers. Those
desirous of making the descent, upon payment
of twenty-five cents each are conducted to a
dressing room, where every article of clothing
is exchanged for those of oil. A tin box is
also furnished, into which are placed the coin,
jewelry, and other valuables, and its num
bered key is hung around the neck of the


owner, while the box is stored in the safe of
the office. Equipped for the dangerous ex
periment, the comical brigade present them
selves at the head of the slippery steps, and are
immediately taken in charge by guides, who
convey them to the cave under the Great Fall.
The sensation was certainly novel. The super
intendent awarded them certificates for having
succeeded in making the thrilling plunge to
the cave.

During their stay below I wandered around
alone, visiting Luna Island and other pretty
points of richly wooded grounds, strolled along
the path in the woods, where numberless tour
ists were enjoying the day, back to the foot
bridge across the cataracts to the town, through
which I leisurely sauntered, making a few pur
chases, thence to the hotel, and, gaining our
boudoir, enjoyed a rest until nearly train-time.
Summoning a servant, Mrs. Murphy ordered a
carriage for our conveyance to the depot, which
we reached at 5:30 o clock p. M., where we took
the New York Central train for Buffalo, but,
unfortunately, boarded a local, and came near
missing it, bag and baggage. Our through
tickets are not recognized on the local, and we
are obliged to purchase tickets to Buffalo. The
car is very much crowded, and the accommo
dations inferior. From Niagara to Lockport


is a sea of orchards as we run across the State
of New York.

I take particular notice of the country on ac
count of its distance from California, until we
swing into Buffalo. Upon reaching the city of
Mr. Cleveland s early political triumphs our
party is thrown into dire confusion by the con
ductor s order that " all passengers must leave
the train; it goes no further." Picture our dis
may, and you will pardon our sympathy with
Mark Twain s party lost in the snow, whose
deathbed resolutions went for nought, for here
we are, among strangers, not destined for Buf
falo, but Boston. We look at each other re
proachfully. Who is to blame? Martin is treated
to a hasty "round up" by his mother for not
having obtained the required information re
specting the trains. Evie is diligently plying
the question, "Where am I going? " to which
repeated query the conductor impatiently re
plies, " How do I know? " Mrs. M. is collecting
valises, hand bags, etc., and trying to convey
them all at once from the car. In the crowd
Maud has disappeared, and I am looking on,
waiting for the reunion, for verily I say unto
you, the California party has stampeded. Fi
nally, with the dispersing of the throng of pas
sengers, Maud is recovered, Mrs. Murphy has
been relieved of the "grip sacks-," Evie has dis-


covered her latitude, for Martin has adjusted mat
ters by having our tickets examined, resulting in
the knowledge gained that the through train
will arrive in a few minutes, so our spirits are
again serene. I marvel at the fine city, having
often heard my father speak of Buffalo as little
more than a trading post in the days of the
Murphy exodus from Canada. It now stretches
along the Niagara River and is a great, popu
lous city, of much importance and wealth. I
remark the cathedral, I suppose, with three
domes or towers topped with crosses, on our
left. We take the sleeper of the Wagner vesti
bule, and are now, at 7 o clock, slowly leaving
Buffalo in the background, and again the sim
ple charms of country life and well-tilled lands
greet the vision.

After leaving Buffalo I eagerly caught a
hurried glimpse of the placid waters of Lake
Erie, to the southeast of us, and its little steam
ers plying their calling over its shining tide.
I revive my earliest recollections of history,
and recall Perry s victory with a feeling of
rapture. How much more would we all enjoy
this trip were any one of us posted on the names
and histories of the places we see. Perhaps the
scenes of cruel battles during our lamentable
rebellion are skipped by as unnoticed as a
stray house or a watering tank, whereas devout


interest in our land would attract attention to
the spot were it known, and a pious thought
and prayer might he entertained for the mem
ory of those who wore so bravely the " blue and
the gray." The country is so freshly green.
When do they have summer, dry and parched,
in the East? In the gloaming we enter Bata-
via, 011 a river running southward. It is pret
tily located, and a neat parterre, artistically de
signed, marks the station, the word " Batavi a "
being imbedded in the lawn in white stone,
which is unique and pretty. Batavia is a pre
tentious-looking town, with a well-filled ceme
tery, bordering on the railroad line. About
half past eight o clock we "pull in " to Rochester
for supper, where my companions alight, but
I feel too fatigued and prefer resting to eating.
Glancing out I regret that darkness intervenes
and prevents observation of a city 1 would like
to see. Retired at eleven o clock very travel
tired. We occupied berths on the train in the
general passenger car for the first time, and
found it very inconvenient, not being accus
tomed to it. The upper berth is particularly
low on these Boston and Albany cars, hence
unpleasant for those in the lower couches. It
would have been comfortable enough, however,
had we not known "better days" in the draw
ing rooms of the Pullman and other wheeled


n/, Avcpuxt 27.

I awoke early, and, peeping out, as we stopped
I read " Pittsfield," and knew I was in Massa
chusetts. Passing onward readied Westfield,
thence Springfield, where we had our breakfast,
warm and palatably served. Springfield is a
beautiful city on the Connecticut River, which
runs directly through it. After ten minutes
delay for the meal we are again swiftly spinning
by small stations, hamlets, and important cities
on our course to Boston. Massachusetts looks
much like verduous Iowa and Michigan, but
.s o rocky f The gray stone croppings recall
places in California through northern Sonoma.
The grass is emerald in hue, but the soil is not
at all rich looking; the tree foliage and shrub
bery are unfamiliar to me, yet pretty. I ex
pected to see every house east of the Rockies
built of stone or brick, and only found them to
great extent in Denver as yet, also Chicago,
which city is never a laggard in the march of
improvement and progress.

We have just gained, with a short stop,
Palmer, a conspicuous and not unimportant city.
A mile or two further east, as I glance to our
right, or south of the train, I mentally photo
graph a valley that is decidedly Californian in
character, particularly Marin County, and, as
1 am so distant from the golden slope, I may


be pardoned for loving the State which repro
duces some of the well-known features of my
own. AVest Warden is beautifully set between
laughing streams that break and ripple over
rocks, chattering in innocent noise like a bevy
of merry children as they run. It has been
raining since we left Springfield. No wonder
that the grass is green and soft, under so much
moisture. We glide by Brookfield with only
time to glance at it and admire its velvety
covering of beauteous lawns and shining rills
and lakelets, many of them surfaced with
blooming white water lilies. There are many
people on the train bound for Boston who
seem to have been somew r here West. Small
stations, such as South Spencer, are seen and
gone, barely giving time to snatch the name
on memory s tablet. I can understand how
easily the waters of these many streams were
utilized for millwork before steam came into
common use. Many mill dams suggest it.
They are very picturesque. The only near
hills I have seen are the Berkshire, in tins
State, and they resemble our own. Rochdale,
on a pretty creek or, maybe, river, is a small
town with few houses. The stone fences are
like those in Sonoma, on the road to Napa.

About nine o clock we reach Worcester, a
city of considerable importance, with large fac-


tory interests and business buildings. The
depot is an extensive affair, and the large two-
steepled Catholic Church of the Jesuits, on the
hill, is a prominent ornament to the town, and
handsome monument to the energy and zeal
of the order. Worcester is the birthplace of
our noble old American historian, Bancroft, I
turn my attention back to a knoll surrounded
by greenswards and scattering ornamental trees,
upon which stands a long gray stone building,
resembling our Napa Insane Asylum. It is
handsomely located, and an imposing struc

*I have since been told that it T the Worcester In
sane Asvlum.


are nearing Boston, the baggage check-
man having arrived on the scene to re
lieve us of the responsibility of our baggage. I
learn that it is an hour s ride from Worcester
to Boston. As we approach the "Athens of
America," we pass near Lake Cohitchuate,
which supplies the metropolis with Avater, a
placid sheet \vith many small craft floating on
its glassy surface. About ten o clock we find
ourselves in the "city of culture," when a cab
manager at once calls a carriage for our use,
adjusts the price, and gives the order to the
"Hotel \ r endome," thus preventing confusion
to strangers or anxiety about luggage. The
"Vendome," on Commonwealth Avenue, fac
ing part of The Commons, is a very elegant
white marble building, about six stories high,
and covering the major part of a square The
views are delightful from every side, the Charles
River being one of them. It is raining here,
and anything but warm, "as we knoAV it." Re-


freshing ourselves, we take lunch (the hotel is
not on the European plan), and then order a
carriage for a drive to Bunker Hill Monument,
which we enjoy to the fullest. Mrs. Murphy
remained in the office, selecting souvenir
spoons, specimens of which she presented to
each of us, and the rest of the party climbed
to the summit of the tower, two hundred and
ninety-four steps, and were well wearied with
the unusual exercise. We walked around,
read the inscriptions on the slabs that mark
the walls of the old redoubt and Prescott s
statue, all of which were exceedingly interest
ing and historical.

Reentering our carriage, we drive around
the strangely-planned city, which is more in
tricate than we could have imagined. We call
at a dry goods store, and are conveyed to its
upper stories by an elevator. The sellers of
goods are all women and young girls, the lat
ter being the noisiest and most "slangy" lot
I ever listened to. A longer jaunt around
town, and finally home, where I found a
friend s note and card awaiting me. AVe dined
at 6:30 p. M. in a spacious, well-filled dining
hall, and the meal was elegantly served and
most inviting. The waiters throughout the
hotel are of the dark race, and they know their
business perfectly. My companions all at-


tended the Globe Theater, and, with a friend,
I walked to the Charles River Bridge, made
famous by Longfellow s song, "The Bridge,"
and we stood there for a few minutes watching
the tide and the "tall church towers." It was
very beautiful, the waters sparkling under a
thousand lights, the mist overhanging the
quiet city rendering the sky-piercing spires
phantom-like and stately. The theater party
returned at half past ten.

Friday, August ,-?<9.

I arose, donned my attire early, and wrote
several letters. My friend Dr. F., of Worcester,
kindly sent a message to the effect that he
would come around between eight and nine to
take us to Cambridge. He was on time, but,
as my cousins had not yet appeared, I accepted
his invitation to visit the Notre Dame Convent,
of which my California Alma Mater is a branch,
to meet his sister, also to see the Cathedral of
Holy Cross, Immaculate Conception Church of
the Jesuits, who also own and conduct Boston
College, adjoining the edifice. It rained in
cessantly. I have learned how to use an um
brella since leaving California. The rain be
coming stormy, we called a cab, and comfortably
drove about to the places of interest, the State
House, with its gilded dome, Boston Commons,


the city gardens, new public library, built of
white stone, patterned in the Greek style, after
the Library of Athens, the Harvard Prepara
tory Medical School, Academy of Arts and
Sciences, Old South Church, moved and changed.
I enjoyed this sight-seeing thoroughly. The
Notre Dame Sisters were very familiar. Sr.
Bernardine, the reverend mother of the convent,
is a lovely lady, of superior character and ex
cellent address. She made many inquiries re
specting our San Jose college, and evinced a
gratifying interest in California. "To a way
farer in a strange land nothing is so sweet as
to hear his name on the tongue of a friend,"
remarks the sage Egyptian in " Ben Hur," and
I may add that it is equally as cheering to hear
the dear names of our loved ones mentioned
by strangers, as I experienced when Sister Ber
nardine asked if I knew Sister Anna Raphael,
my beloved cousin and former teacher, and her
sister, Miss Marcella Fitzgerald, than whom I
have not a more valued friend in California,
and so I felt the sweet thrill in my heart as
happily as though the names were my own.
Returning to the hotel about eleven o clock,
finding the other members prepared, Dr. F.
offered to conduct our party of five across the
Charles River, over the bridge immortalized
by America s poet laureate, to "Cambridge, the


classic," and I do not recall having ever en
joyed a day more replete with pleasure.

Our guide, a graduate of Harvard, and later
of a Vienna medical college, left no effort un
tried to render the occasion enjoyable, and his
exertions were indeed appreciated by my friends
and self with truly California!! enthusiasm.
He presented his fellow student and friend, Dr.
Barnes, a worthy practitioner of Cambridge,
who at once joined us, and accompanied us to
the home of Longfellow, which we inspected
with almost reverence. The mansion is now
in possession of the poet s daughter, who at
present is away from home, and the hospitable
housekeeper extended the honors. The doctor
led the way to the study of the author of "Hia
watha," and showed all the articles of interest

Taking advantage of the privilege I sat in
the prettily-carved heavy chestnutwood easy
chair, made from the tree under which stood
the " Village Blacksmith s " shop, and presented
to the poet by the children of Cambridge, men
tioned in the poem, together with a small water-
color picture of tree and shop. I was given his
pen to handle, and, with indescribable emotion,
and wishing for a single thought worthy of the
master mind that had swayed this weapon
"mightier than the sword," I tremblingly


wrote a line suggestive of the occasion in my
autograph book. The writing desk and table
remain as Mr. Longfellow left it, and are likely
to be guarded from the curious as long as the
vigilant housekeeper continues in charge. A
painting of the poet, by his son Ernest, stands
on an easel near the table. The work is infe
rior, and the portrait poor. Books lie around
in artistic disorder, and the room is as pretty
as it is interesting. Across the hall we were
shown into the Washington room, where our
first president made his headquarter s comfort
able, as general of the American Army.

In the absence of the family we deemed further
inspection intrusive, and took our departure,
filled with a happy memory. As we passed out,
we noticed the Charles River gleaming beyond,
and remembered that it was a favorite theme of
the poet s, and his verses welled up into expres
sion, which we quoted, closing the gate, and
threw back a kiss to the dear old home of our
favorite. Following up the avenue we came to
Elmwood, the Lowell homestead, where most
of the poet s papers were written. Strange, I
had a letter of introduction to James Russell
Lowell, but he sickened and died the week be
fore I arrived.

Retracing our path, Drs F. and B. took us
to Harvard University, all through which we




were shown, the different buildings, and the
museum, a most complete and beautifully ap
pointed institution. California is here promi
nently represented by an enormous octopus,
extending across the ceiling of an extensive
exhibition room. The gymnasium, refectory,
and theater, memorial hall, and other excellent
departments, were most interesting. Next we
were conveyed to the old elm, under whose shade
Washington received command of the army,
July 3, 1775, and which still throws its cloak
of green over those standing anear, who read
the lines upon the granite that prove how
much respect to it is due. A T andalism is ob
viated by plates of tin fastened over the scars
made by iconoclastic hands. A shower of
leaves fell around me as I paused beside the
iron railing encircling the venerated tree, and
I caught some of them as souvenirs of the hon
ored place. As it has continually showered
throughout our peregrinations in Cambridge, I
find the "rainy day" of Longfellow most life
like, for

With each gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and cold and dreary."

The vines are clinging everywhere, and how
smooth and regular is their clustering wilder
ness of beauty We contemplate a stroll or
drive through Mt. Auburn Cemetery, the AVest-


minster of America, but the rain, the incessant
rain, drives us back, so we reluctantly return
to Boston, leaving for another day Auburn s
storied dead. Now our program calls for a
thorough inspection of Boston, and how I will
enjoy this sight-seeing in the old historic city !
I like it best of anything I have seen outside
of California, the dear old State, which, "taken
all in all, we ne er shall see" her "like again."
Entering the stately Vendome in a most for
lorn and bedraggled condition, we hasten to
our apartments to make preparations for din
ner, which we expect to enjoy, the "inner man"
having been neglected during our loiter in
Cambridge. After dinner my friend returned
to Worcester.

Saturday, August 29.

This morning s sunny hours were spent down
town shopping, among the queerly crooked
streets. The day has been charmingly bright,
and everything conducive to enjoyment of the
outing. We bought souvenirs and other nick-
nacks perhaps I ought to designate them as
" Yankee notions."

Noontide found us lunching, and later, ac
companied by Dr. F., we inspected the Mu
seum of Arts and Sciences, where two hours
were instructively spent. How T wish I could


remember all I saw in this treasure-filled mu
seum of art !

Thence our escort guided us to the North or
Christ Church, from whose tall " belfry arch "
gleamed the lanterns of Paul Revere in 1775,
a beacon warning to the people of Charlestown
of the march of the British soldiery from town,
" down to their boats on the shore." If memory
were lax in retaining the impressions of his
tory, the immortal measure of Longfellow,
familiar to every schoolchild, would supply
the mental vision with a poetic picture of this

"Through all our history, to the last,

1 3 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryFannie De C. MillerSnap notes of an eastern trip, from diary of Fannie de C. Miller → online text (page 3 of 8)