ness. You ll see.
Presently the conductor came on his rounds again, and
when he reached the Major he leaned over and said :
That s all right. You needn t report him. He s
responsible to me, and if he does it again I ll give him a
The Major s response was cordial :
4 Now that is what I like ! You mustn t think that I
was moved by any vengeful spirit, for that wasn t the case.
It was duty just a sense of duty, that was all. My brother-
in-law is one of the directors of the road, and when he learns
that you are going to reason with your brakeman the very
next time he brutally insults an unoffending old man it will
please him, you may be sure of that.
The conductor did not look as joyous as one might
have thought he would, but on the contrary looked
sickly and uncomfortable. He stood around a little ; then
* 7 think something ought to be done to him now. I ll
Discharge him ! What good would that do ? Don t
you think it would be better wisdom to teach him better
ways and keep him ?
Well, there s something in that. What would you
He insulted the old gentleman in presence of all these
people. How would it do to have him come and apologise
in their presence ?
I ll have him here right off. And I want to say this :
If people would do as you ve done, and report such things
to me instead of keeping mum and going off and black
guarding the road, you d see a different state of things pretty
soon. I m much obliged to you.
The brakeman came and apologised. After he was gone
the Major said :
Now, you see how simple and easy that was. The
ordinary citizen would have accomplished nothing the
brother-in-law of a director can accomplish anything he
* But are you really the brother-in-law of a director ?
4 Always. Always when the public interests require it.
I have a brother-in-law on all the boards everywhere. It
saves me a world of trouble.
It is a good wide relationship.
Yes. I have over three hundred of them.
* Is the relationship never doubted by a conductor ?
* I have never met with a case. It is the honest truth
I never have.
* Why didn t you let him go ahead and discharge the
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 261
brakeman, in spite of your favourite policy ? You know
he deserved it.
The Major answered with something which really had
a sort of distant resemblance to impatience :
If you would stop and think a moment you wouldn t
ask such a question as that. Is a brakeman a dog, that
nothing- but dogs methods will do for him ? He is a man
and has a man s fight for life. And he always has a sister,
or a mother, or wife and children to support. Always
there are no exceptions. When you take his living away
fiTsn him you take theirs away too and what have they
done to you ? Nothing. And where is the profit in
discharging an uncourteous brakeman and hiring another
just like him ? It s unwisdom. Don t you see that the
rational thing to do is to reform the brakeman and keep him ?
Of course it is.
Then he quoted with admiration the conduct of a
certain division superintendent of the Consolidated road, in
a case where a switchman of two years experience was
negligent once and threw a train off the track and killed
several people. Citizens came in a passion to urge the
man s dismissal, but the superintendent said :
No, you are wrong. He has learned his lesson, he will
throw no more trains off the track. He is twice as valuable
as he was before. I shall keep him.
We had only one more adventure on the trip. Between
Hartford and Springfield the train-boy came shouting in
with an armful of literature, and dropped a sample into a
slumbering gentleman s lap, and the man woke up with a
start. He was very angry, and he and a couple of friends
discussed the outrage with much heat. They sent for the
parlour-car conductor and described the matter, and were
determined to have the boy expelled from his situation.
262 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
The three complainants were wealthy Holyoke merchants,
and it was evident that the conductor stood in some awe of
them. He tried to pacify them, and explained that the boy
was not under his authority, but under that of one of the
news companies ; but he accomplished nothing.
Then the Major volunteered some testimony for the
defence. He said :
I saw it all. You gentlemen have not meant to
exaggerate the circumstances, but still that is what you
have done. The boy has done nothing more than all
train-boys do. If you want to get his ways softened down
and his manners reformed, I am with you and ready to
help, but it isn t fair to get him discharged without giving
him a chance.
But they were angry, and would hear of no compromise.
They were well acquainted with the President of the Boston
and Albany, they said, and would put everything aside next
day and go up to Boston and fix that boy.
The Major said he would be on hand too, and would
do what he could to save the boy. One of the gentlemen
looked him over and said :
Apparently it is going to be a matter of who can
wield the most influence with the President. Do you know
Mr. Bliss personally ?
The Major said, with composure :
1 Yes ; he is my uncle.
The effect was satisfactory. There was an awkward
silence for a minute or more ; then the hedging and the
half-confessions of over-haste and exaggerated resentment
began, and soon everything was smooth and friendly and
sociable, and it was resolved to drop the matter and leave
the boy s read and butter unmolested.
It turned out as I had expected : the President of the
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 263
road was not the Major s uncle at all except by adoption,
and for this day and train only.
We got into no episodes on the return journey.
Probably it was because we took a night train and slept all
We left New York Saturday night by the Pennsylvania
road. After breakfast the next morning we went into the
parlour-car, but found it a dull place and dreary. There
were but few people in it and nothing going on. Then
we went into the little smoking compartment of the same
car and found three gentlemen in there. Two of them
were grumbling over one of the rules of the road a rule
which forbade card-playing on the trains on Sunday. They
had started an innocent game of high-low-jack and been
stopped. The Major was interested. He said to the third
Did you object to the game ?
Not at all. I am a Yale professor and a religious man,
but my prejudices are not extensive.
Then the Major said to the others :
You are at perfect liberty to resume your game, gentle
men ; no one here objects.
One of them declined the risk, but the other one said
he would like to begin again if the Major would join him.
So they spread an overcoat over their knees and the game
proceeded. Pretty soon the parlour-car conductor arrived,
and said, brusquely :
There, there, gentlemen, that won t do. Put up the
cards it s not allowed.
The Major was shuffling. He continued to shuffle, and
1 By whose order is it forbidden ?
It s my order. I forbid it.
264 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
The dealing began. The Major asked :
* Did you invent the idea ?
* What idea ?
* The idea of forbidding card-playing on Sunday.
* No of course not.
1 Who did ?
* The company.
* Then it isn t your order, after all, but the company s.
Is that it ?
t Yes. But you don t stop playing ! I have to require
you to stop playing immediately.
* Nothing is gained by hurry, and often much is lost.
Who authorised the company to issue such an order ?
My dear sir, that is a matter of no consequence to me,
* But you forget that you are not the only person con
cerned. It may be a matter of consequence to me. It is,
indeed, a matter of very great importance to me. I cannot
violate a legal requirement of my country without dis
honouring myself ; I cannot allow any man or corporation
to hamper my liberties with illegal rules a thing which
railway companies are always trying to do without dis
honouring my citizenship. So I come back to that question :
By whose authority has the company issued this order ?
* I don t know. That s their affair.
4 Mine, too. I doubt if the company has any right to
issue such a rule. This road runs through several States.
Do you know what State we are in now, and what its
laws are in matters of this kind ?
* Its laws do not concern me, but the company s orders
do. It is my duty to stop this game, gentlemen, and it
must be stopped.
* Possibly ; but still there is no hurry. In hotels they
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 265
post certain rules in the rooms, but they always quote
passages from the State law as authority for these require
ments. I see nothing posted here of this sort. Please
produce your authority and let us arrive at a decision, for
you see yourself that you are marring the game.
* I have nothing of the kind, but I have my orders, and
that is sufficient. They must be obeyed.
* Let us not jump to conclusions. It will be better all
around to examine into the matter without heat or haste,
and see just where we stand before either of us makes a
mistake for the curtailing of the liberties of a citizen of
the United States is a much more serious matter than you
and the railroads seem to think, and it cannot be done in my
person until the curtailer proves his right to do so. Now
My dear sir, will you put down those cards ?
All in good time, perhaps. It depends. You say this
order must be obeyed. Must. It is a strong word. You
see yourself how strong it is. A wise company would not
arm you with so drastic an order as this, of course^ without
appointing a penalty for its infringement. Otherwise it runs
the risk of being a dead letter and a thing to laugh at. What
is the appointed penalty for an infringement of this law ?
Penalty ? I never heard of any.
1 Unquestionably you must be mistaken. Your com
pany orders you to come here and rudely break up an
innocent amusement, and furnishes you no way to enforce
the order ! Don t you see that that is nonsense ? What
do you do when people refuse to obey this order ? Do you
take the cards away from them ?
Do you put the offender off at the next station ?
* Well, no of course we couldn t if he had a ticket.
* Do you have him up before a court ?
266 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
The conductor was silent and apparently troubled.
The Major started a new deal, and said :
* You see that you are helpless, and that the company
has placed you in a foolish position. You are furnished
with an arrogant order, and you deliver it in a blustering
way, and when you come to look into the matter you find
you haven t any way of enforcing obedience.
The conductor said, with chill dignity :
Gentlemen, you have heard the order, and my duty is
ended. As to obeying it or not, you will do as you think
fit. And he turned to leave.
* But wait. The matter is not yet finished. I think
you are mistaken about your duty being ended ; but if it
really is, I myself have a duty to perform yet.
* How do you mean ?
* Are you going to report my disobedience at head
quarters in Pittsburg ?
* No. What good would that do ?
* You must report me, or I will report you.
Report me for what ?
4 For disobeying the company s orders in not stopping
this game. As a citizen it is my duty to help the railway
companies keep their servants to their work.
* Are you in earnest ?
Yes, I am in earnest. I have nothing against you as
a man, but I have this against you as an officer that you
have not carried out that order, and if you do not report
me I must report you. And I will.
The conductor looked puzzled, and was thoughtful a
moment ; then he burst out with :
I seem to be getting myself into a scrape ! It s all a
muddle ; I can t make head or tail of it ; it never happened
before ; they always knocked under and never said a word,
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 267
and so I never saw how ridiculous that stupid order with no
penalty is. / don t want to report anybody, and I don t
want to be reported why, it might do me no end of harm !
Now do go on with the game play the whole day if you
want to and don t let s have any more trouble about it !
No, I only sat down here to establish this gentleman s
rights he can have his place now. But before you go
won t you tell me what you think the company made this
rule for ? Can you imagine an excuse for it ? I mean a
rational one an excuse that is not on its face silly, and the
invention of an idiot ?
Why, surely I can. The reason it was made is plain
enough. It is to save the feelings of the other passengers
the religious ones among them, I mean. They would
not like it to have the Sabbath desecrated by card-playing
on the train.
I just thought as much. They are willing to
desecrate it themselves by travelling on Sunday, but they
are not willing that other people
By gracious, you ve hit it ! I never thought of that
before. The fact is, it is a silly rule when you come to
look into it.
At this point the train conductor arrived, and was going
to shut down the game in a very high-handed fashion, but
the parlour-car conductor stopped him, and took him aside
to explain. Nothing more was heard of the matter.
I was ill in bed eleven days in Chicago and got no
glimpse of the Fair, for I was obliged to return East as
soon as I was able to travel. The Major secured and paid
for a state-room in a sleeper the day before we left, so that
I could have plenty of room and be comfortable ; but when
we arrived at the station a mistake had been made and our
car had not been put on. The conductor had reserved a
268 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
section for us it was the best he could do, he said. But
the Major said we were not in a hurry, and would wait for
the car to be put on. The conductor responded, with
pleasant irony :
* It may be that you are not in a hurry, just as you say,
but we are. Come, get aboard, gentlemen, get aboard
don t keep us waiting.
But the Major would not get aboard himself nor allow
me to do it. He wanted his car, and said he must have it.
This made the hurried and perspiring conductor impatient,
and he said :
It s the best we can do we can t do impossibilities.
You will take the section or go without. A mistake has
been made and can t be rectified at this late hour. It s a
thing that happens now and then, and there is nothing for
it but to put up with it and make the best of it. Other
Ah, that is just it, you see. If they had stuck to their
rights and enforced them you wouldn t be trying to trample
mine underfoot in this bland way now. I haven t any dis
position to give you unnecessary trouble, but it is my duty
to protect the next man from this kind of imposition. So I
must have my car. Otherwise I will wait in Chicago and
sue the company for violating its contract.
* Sue the company ? for a thing like that !
Do you really mean that ? *
Indeed, I do.
The conductor looked the Major over wonderingly, and
then said :
* It beats me it s bran-new I ve never struck the mate
to it before. But I swear I think you d do it. Look here,
I ll send for the station-master.
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 269
When the station-master came he was a good deal
annoyed at the Major, not at the person who had made the
mistake. He was rather brusque, and took the same position
which the conductor had taken in the beginning ; but he
failed to move the soft-spoken artilleryman, who still insisted
that he must have his car. However, it was plain that there
was only one strong side in this case, and that that side was
the Major s. The station-master banished his annoyed
manner, and became pleasant and even half-apologetic. This
made a good opening for a compromise, and the Major made
a concession. He said he would give up the engaged state
room, but he must have a state-room. After a deal of ran
sacking, one was found whose owner was persuadable ; he
exchanged it for our section, and we got away at last. The
conductor called on us in the evening, and was kind and
courteous and obliging, and we had a Ions; talk and sot to
O O f O O
be good friends. He said he wished the public would make
trouble oftener it would have a good effect. He said that
the railroads could not be expected to do their whole duty
by the traveller unless the traveller would take some interest
in the matter himself.
I hoped that we were done reforming for the trip now,
but it was not so. In the hotel car, in the morning, the
Major called for broiled chicken. The waiter said :
* It s not in the bill of fare, sir ; we do not serve anything
but what is in the bill.
That gentleman yonder is eating a broiled chicken.
* Yes, but that is different. Pie is one of the super
intendents of the road.
Then all the more must I have broiled chicken. I do
not like these discriminations. Please hurry bring me a
The waiter brought the steward, who explained in a
270 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
low and polite voice that the thing was impossible it was
against the rule, and the rule was rigid.
* Very well, then, you must either apply it impartially
or break it impartially. You must take that gentleman s
chicken away from him or bring me one.
The steward was puzzled, and did not quite know what
to do. He began an incoherent argument, but the con
ductor came along just then, and asked what the difficulty
was. The steward explained that here was a gentleman
who was insisting on having a chicken when it was dead
against the rule and not in the bill. The conductor said :
* Stick by your rules you haven t any option. Wait a
moment is this the gentleman ? Then he laughed and
said : Never mind your rules it s my advice, and sound :
give him anything he wants don t get him started on his
rights. Give him whatever he asks for ; and if you haven t
got it, stop the train and get it.
The Major ate the chicken, but said he did it from a
sense of duty and to establish a principle, for he did not
I missed the Fair it is true, but I picked up some diplo
matic tricks which I and the reader may find handy and
useful as we go along.
DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES 271
DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES
VIENNA, January 5. I find in this morning s papers the
statement that the Government of the United States has
paid to the two members of the Peace Commission entitled
to receive money for their services 100,000 dollars each for
their six weeks work in Paris.
I hope that this is true. I will allow myself the satis
faction of considering that it is true, and of treating it as a
thins; finished and settled.
It is a precedent ; and ought to be a welcome one to
our country. A precedent always has a chance to be
valuable (as well as the other way) ; and its best chance
to be valuable (or the other way) is when it takes such a
striking form as to fix a whole nation s attention upon it.
If it come justified out of the discussion which will follow,
it will find a career ready and waiting for it.
We realise that the edifice of public justice is built or
precedents, from the ground upward ; but we do not
always realise that all the other details of our civilisation are
likewise built of precedents. The changes also which they
undergo are due to the intrusion of new precedents, which
hold their ground against opposition, and keep their place.
A precedent may die at birth, or it may live it is mainly
a matter of luck. If it be imitated once, it has a chance ;
if twice a better chance ; if three times it is reaching a
272 DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES
point where account must be taken of it ; if four, five,
or six times, it has probably come to stay for a whole
century, possibly. If a town start a new bow, or a new
dance, or a new temperance project, or a new kind of hat,
and can get the precedent adopted in the next town, the
career of that precedent is begun ; and it will be unsafe to
bet as to where the end of its journey is going to be. It
may not get this start at all, and may have no career ; but, if
a crown prince introduce the precedent, it will attract vast
attention, and its chances for a career are so great as to
amount almost to a certainty.
For a long time we have been reaping damage from a
couple of disastrous precedents. One is the precedent of
shabby pay to public servants standing for the power and
dignity of the Republic in foreign lands ; the other is a
precedent condemning them to exhibit themselves officially
in clothes which are not only without grace or dignity, but
are a pretty loud and pious rebuke to the vain and frivolous
costumes worn by the other officials. To our day an
American ambassador s official costume remains under the
reproach of these defects. At a public function in a Euro
pean court all foreign representatives except ours wear
clothes which in some way distinguish them from the
unofficial throng, and mark them as standing for their
countries. But our representative appears in a plain black
swallow-tail, which stands for neither country, nor people.
It has no nationality. It is found in all countries ; it is as
international as a night-shirt. It has no particular mean
ing ; but our Government tries to give it one ; it tries to
make it stand for Republican Simplicity, modesty and
unpretentiousness. Tries, and without doubt fails, for it is
not conceivable that this loud ostentation of simplicity
deceives any one. The statue that advertises its modesty
DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES 273
with a fig-leaf really brings its modesty under suspicion.
Worn officially, our nonconforming swallow-tail is a
declaration of ungracious independence in the matter of
manners, and is uncourteous. It says to all around : * In
Rome we do not choose to do as Rome does ; we refuse to
respect your tastes and your traditions ; we make no
sacrifices to anyone s customs and prejudices ; we yield no
jot to the courtesies of life ; we prefer our manners, and in
trude them here.
That is not the true American spirit, and those clothes
misrepresent us. When a foreigner comes among us and
trespasses against our customs and our code of manners,
we are offended, and justly so ; but our Government
commands our ambassadors to wear abroad an official dress
which is an offence against foreign manners and customs ;
and the discredit of it falls upon the nation.
We did not dress our public functionaries in undistin
guished raiment before Franklin s time ; and the change
would not have come if he had been an obscurity. But he
was such a colossal figure in the world that whatever he did
of an unusual nature attracted the world s attention, and
became a precedent. In the case of clothes, the next
representative after him, and the next, had to imitate it.
After that, the thing was custom ; and custom is a petrifac
tion : nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century.
We imagine that our queer official costumery was delibe
rately devised to symbolise our Republican Simplicity a
quality which we have never possessed, and are too old to
acquire now, if we had any use for it or any leaning toward
it. But it is not so ; there was nothing deliberate about it ;
it grew naturally and heedlessly out of the precedent set by
If it had been an intentional thing, and based upon a
274 DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES
principle, it would not have stopped where it did : we
should have applied it further. Instead of clothing our
admirals and generals, for courts-martial and other public
functions, in superb dress uniforms blazing with colour and
gold, the Government would put them in swallow-tails and
white cravats, and make them look like ambassadors and
lackeys. If I am wrong in making Franklin the father of
our curious official clothes, it is no matter he will be able
to stand it.
It is my opinion and I make no charge for the sug
gestion that, whenever we appoint an ambassador or a
minister, we ought to confer upon him the temporary rank
of admiral or general, and allow him to wear the corre
sponding uniform at public functions in foreign countries.
I would recommend this for the reason that it is not conso
nant with the dignity of the United States of America that
her representative should appear upon occasions of state in
a dress which makes him glaringly conspicuous ; and that is
what his present undertaker-outfit does when it appears,
with its dismal smudge, in the midst of the butterfly
splendours of a Continental court. It is a most trying
position for a shy man, a modest man, a man accustomed to