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and was obliged to rent it for what he could get. Thence
we made our way to London and New York.



A REIVING at New York in the autumn of 1889, I was
Jt\. soon settled at my accustomed work in the univer-
sity, devoting myself to new chapters of my book and
to sundry courses of lectures. Early in the following
year I began a course before the University of Pennsyl-
vania; and my stay in Philadelphia was rendered very
agreeable by various new acquaintances. Interesting to
me was the Roman Catholic archbishop, Dr. Ryan. Din-
ing in his company, I referred admiringly to his cathe-
dral, which I had recently visited, but spoke of what
seemed to me the defective mode of placing the dome
upon the building; whereupon he made one of the most
tolerable Latin puns I have ever heard, saying that dur-
ing the construction of both the nave and the dome his
predecessors were hampered by lack of money, that, in
fact, they were greatly troubled by the res angustce domi.
Interesting also was attendance upon the conference at
Lake Mohonk, which brought together a large body of
leading men from all parts of the country to discuss the
best methods of dealing with questions relating to the
freedmen and Indians. The president of the conference,
Mr. Hayes, formerly President of the United States, I
had known well in former days, when I served under
him as minister to Germany, and the high opinion I had
then formed of him was increased as I heard him dis-
cuss the main questions before the conference. It was
the fashion at one time among blackguards and cynics of



both parties to sneer at him, and this, doubtless, produced
some effect on the popular mind; but nothing could be
more unjust: rarely have I met a man in our own or
any other country who has impressed me more by the
qualities which a true American should most desire in
a President of the United States ; he had what our coun-
try needs most in our public men sobriety of judgment
united to the power of calm, strong statement.

The two following years, 1890-1891, were passed mainly
at Cornell, though with excursions to various other in-
stitutions where I had been asked to give addresses or
lectures; but in February of 1892, having been invited
to lecture at Stanford University in California, I accepted
an invitation from Mr. Andrew Carnegie to become one
of the guests going in his car to the Pacific coast by way
of Mexico. Our party of eight, provided with cook, ser-
vants, and every comfort, traveled altogether more than
twelve thousand miles first through the Central and
Southern States of the Union, thence to the city of Mexico
and beyond, then by a series of zigzag excursions from
lower California to the northern limits of Oregon and
Washington, and finally through the Kocky Mountains
and the canons of Colorado to Salt Lake City and Denver.
Thence my companions went East and I returned alone
to Stanford to give my lectures. During this long ex-
cursion I met many men who greatly interested me, and
especially old students of mine whom I found everywhere
doing manfully the work for which Cornell had aided
to fit them. Never have I felt more fully repaid for any
labor and care I have ever given to the founding and
development of the university. Arriving in the city of
Mexico, I said to myself, l ' Here certainly I shall not meet
any more of my old Cornellians " ; but hardly was I set-
tled in my room when a card came up from one of them,
and I soon learned that he was doing honor to the Sib-
ley College of the university by superintending the erec-
tion of the largest printing-press which had ever been
brought into Mexico. The Mexican capital interested me


greatly. The cathedral, which, up to that time, I had sup-
posed to be in a debased rococo style, I found to be of a
simple, noble Renaissance character, and of real dignity.
Being presented to the President, Porfirio Diaz, I was
greatly impressed by his quiet strength and self-posses-
sion, and then understood for the first time what had
wrought so beneficent a change in his country. His min-
isters also impressed me favorably, though they were evi-
dently overshadowed by so great a personality. One de-
tail struck me as curious : the room in which the President
received us at the palace was hung round with satin
draperies stamped with the crown and cipher of his pre-
decessorthe ill-fated Emperor Maximilian.

California was a great revelation to me. We arrived
just at the full outburst of spring, and seemed to have
alighted upon a new planet. Strong and good men I
found there, building up every sort of worthy enterprise,
and especially their two noble universities, one of which
was almost entirely officered by Cornell graduates. To
this institution I was attached by a special tie. At vari-
ous times the founders, Governor and Mrs. Stanford,
had consulted me on problems arising in its development ;
they had twice visited me at Cornell for the purpose of
more full discussion, and at the latter of the two visits
had urged me to accept its presidency. This I had felt
obliged to decline. I said to them that the best years of
my life had been devoted to building up two universities,
Michigan and Cornell, and that not all the treasures of
the Pacific coast would tempt me to begin with another ;
that this feeling was not due to a wish to evade any duty,
but to a conviction that my work of that sort was done,
and that there were others who could continue it far
better than I. It was after this conversation that, on
their asking whether there was any one suitable within
my acquaintance, I answered, "Go to the University of
Indiana; there you will find the president, an old stu-
dent of mine, David Starr Jordan, one of the leading
scientific men of the country, possessed of a most charm-


ing power of literary expression, with a remarkable abil-
ity in organization, and blessed with good, sound sense.
Call him. ' ' They took my advice, called Dr. Jordan, and
I found him at the university. My three weeks' stay in-
terested me more and more. Evening after evening I
walked through the cloisters of the great quadrangle, ad-
miring the solidity, beauty, and admirable arrangement
of the buildings, and enjoying their lovely surroundings
and the whole charm of that California atmosphere.

The buildings, in simplicity, beauty, and fitness, far
surpassed any others which had at that time been erected
for university purposes in the United States ; and I feel
sure that when the entire plan is carried out, not even
Oxford or Cambridge will have anything more beautiful.
President Jordan had more than fulfilled my prophecies,
and it was an inspiration to see at their daily work the
faculty he had called together. The students also greatly
interested me. When it was first noised abroad that
Senator Stanford was to found a new university in Cali-
fornia, sundry Eastern men took a sneering tone and
said, "What will it find to do? The young men on the
Pacific coast who are as yet fit to receive the advan-
tages of a university are very few; the State Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley is already languishing for
want of students." The weakness of these views is seen
in the fact that, at this hour, each of these universities has
nearly three thousand undergraduates. The erection of
Stanford has given an impetus to the State University,
and both are doing noble work, not only for the Pacific
coast, but for the whole country. One of the most note-
worthy things in the history of American university edu-
cation thus far is the fact that the university buildings
erected by boards of trustees in all parts of the country
have, almost without exception, proved to be mere jumbles
of mean materials in incongruous styles ; but to this rule
there have been, mainly, two noble exceptions : one in the
buildings of the University of Virginia, planned and exe-
cuted under the eye of Thomas Jefferson, and the other


in these buildings at Palo Alto, planned and executed un-
der the direction of Governor and Mrs. Stanford. These
two groups, one in Virginia and one in California, with,
perhaps, the new university buildings at Philadelphia and
Chicago, are almost the only homes of learning in the
United States which are really satisfactory from an archi-
tectural point of view.

The "City of the Saints," which I saw on my way,
had much interest for me. I collected while there every-
thing possible in the way of publications bearing on Mor-
monism, beginning with a copy of the original edition of
the "Book of Mormon"; but nothing that I could find in
any of these publications indicated any considerable intel-
lectual development, as yet.

More encouraging was a rapid visit, on my way home,
to the Chicago Exposition buildings, which, though not yet
fully completed, were very beautiful ; and still more plea-
sure came from a visit to the new University of Chicago,
which was evidently beginning a most important work for
American civilization. Its whole plan is remarkably well
conceived, and with the means that it is rapidly accumulat-
ing, due to the public spirit of its main benefactor and a
multitude of others hardly second to him in the importance
of their gifts, it cannot fail to exercise a great influence,
especially throughout the Northwestern States. First of
all, it will do much to lift the city in which it stands out of
its crude materialism into something higher and better.
It is a pleasure to note that its buildings are worthy of it :
they seem likely to form a fourth in the series of fit homes
for great centers of advanced education in the United
States, Virginia, Stanford, and the University of Penn-
sylvania being the others.

Having returned to Cornell, I went on quietly with my
work until autumn, when, to my surprise, I received no-
tice that the President had appointed me minister to St.
Petersburg ; and on the 4th of November I arrived at my
post in that capital. Of my experience as minister I have
spoken elsewhere, but have given no account of two

II. 29


journeys which interested me at that period. The first
of these was in the Scandinavian countries. The voyage
of a day and night across the Baltic through the Aland
Islands was like a dream, the northern twilight making
night more beautiful than day, and the approach to the
Swedish capital being, next to the approaches to Con-
stantinople and to New York, the most beautiful I know.

Very instructive to me was a visit to Upsala espe-
cially to the university and cathedral. As to the former,
the " Codex of Ulfilas," in the library, which I had long
desired to see, especially interested me ; and visits to the
houses of the various "nations" showed me that out
of the social needs of Swedish students in the middle
ages had been developed something closely akin to the
fraternity houses which similar needs have developed
in our time at American universities. The cathedral,
containing the remains of Gustavus Vasa and Linnaeus,
was fruitful in suggestions. By a curious coincidence
I was at that time finishing my chapter entitled "From
Creation to Evolution, ' ' and had been paying special at-
tention to the ancient and mediaeval conceptions of the
creation of the world as a work done by an individual
in human form, laboring with his hands during six days,
and taking needed rest on the seventh ; and here I found,
at the side entrance of the cathedral, a delightfully naive
mediaeval representation of the whole process, a series
of medallions representing the Almighty toiling like an
artisan on each of the six days and reposing, evidently
very weary, on the seventh.

The journey across Sweden, through the canals and
lakes, was very restful. At Christiania Mr. Gade, the
American consul, who had served our country so long
and so honorably in that city, took me under his guid-
ance during various interesting excursions about the
fiords. At Gothenburg I took pains to obtain informa-
tion regarding their system of dealing with the sale of
intoxicating liquors, and became satisfied that it is, on
the whole, the best solution of the problem ever obtained.


The whole old system of saloons, gin-shops, and the like,
with their allurements to the drinking of adulterated al-
cohol, had been swept away, and in its place the govern-
ment had given to a corporation the privilege of selling
pure liquors in a restricted number of decent shops, un-
der carefully devised limitations. First, the liquors must
be fully tested for purity; secondly, none could be sold
to persons already under the influence of drink; thirdly,
no intoxicant could be sold without something to eat with
it, the effects of alcohol upon the system being thus miti-
gated. These and other restrictions had reduced the
drink evil, as I was assured, to a minimum. But the
most far-reaching provision in the whole system was that
the company which enjoyed the monopoly of this trade was
not allowed to declare a dividend greater than, I believe,
six per cent.; everything realized above this going into
the public treasury, mainly for charitable purposes. The
result of this restriction of profits was that no person
employed in selling ardent spirits was under the slight-
est temptation to attract customers. Each of these sell-
ers was a salaried official and knew that his place de-
pended on his adhering to the law which forbade him
to sell to any person already under the influence of liquor,
or to do anything to increase his sales; and the whole
motive for making men drunkards was thus taken away.

I was assured by both the American and British con-
suls, as well as by most reputable citizens, that this sys-
tem had greatly diminished intemperance. Unfortunately,
since that time, fanatics have obtained control, and have
passed an entirely "prohibitory" law, with the result, as
I understand, that the community is now discovering
that prohibition does not prohibit, and that the worst
kinds of liquors are again sold by men whose main mo-
tive is to sell as much as possible.

The most attractive feature in my visit to Norway was
Throndheim. With my passion for Gothic architecture,
the beautiful little cathedral, which the authorities were
restoring judiciously, was a delight, and it was all the


more interesting as containing one of those curiosities
of human civilization which have now become rare. In
one corner of the edifice is a ' ' holy well, ' ' the pilgrimages
to which in the middle ages were, no doubt, a main source
of the wealth of the establishment. The attendant shows,
in the stonework close to the well, the end of a tube coming
from the upper part of the cathedral; and through this
tube pious monks in the middle ages no doubt spoke oracu-
lar words calculated to enhance the authority of the saint
presiding over the place. It was the same sort of thing
which one sees in the Temple of Isis at Pompeii, and
the zeal which created it was no doubt the same that
to-day originates the sacred fire which always comes
down from heaven on Easter day into the Greek church
at Jerusalem, the liquefaction of the blood of St. Jan-
uarius in the cathedral at Naples, and sundry camp-
meeting utterances and actions in the United States.

Sweden and Norway struck me as possessing, in some
respects, the most satisfactory civilization of modern
times. With a monarchical figurehead, they are really a
republic. Here is no overbearing plutocracy, no squalid
poverty, an excellent system of education, liberal and
practical, from the local school to the university, a popu-
lation, to all appearance, healthy, thrifty, and comfort-

And yet here, as in other parts of the world, the re-
sources of human folly are illimitable. A large party
in Norway urges secession from Sweden, and both re-
main divided from Denmark, though the three are, to
all intents and purposes, of the same race, religion, lan-
guage, and early historical traditions. And close beside
them looms up, more and more portentous, the Russian
colossus, which, having trampled Swedish Finland under
its feet, is looking across the Scandinavian peninsula
toward the good harbors of Norway, just opposite Great
Britain. Russia has declared the right of her one hun-
dred and twenty millions of people to an ice-free port on
the Pacific ; why shall she not assert, with equal cogency,


the right of these millions to an ice-free port on the At-
lantic? Why should not these millions own a railway
across Scandinavia, and a suitable territory along the
line; and then, logically, all the territory north, and as
much as she needs of the territory south of the line? The
northern and, to some extent, the middle regions of Nor-
way and Sweden would thus come under the sway of a czar
in St. Petersburg, represented by some governor-general
like those who have been trying to show to the Scandi-
navians of Finland that newspapers are useless, petitions
inadmissible, constitutions a fetish, banishment a bless-
ing, and the use of their native language a superfluity.
The only sad thing in this fair prospect is that it is not
the objurgatory Bjornson, the philosophic Ibsen, and the
impulsive Nansen, with their compatriots, now groaning
under what they are pleased to call ' ' Swedish tyranny, ' '
who would enjoy this Russian liberty, but their children,
and their children's children.

At Copenhagen I was especially attracted by the Eth-
nographic Museum, which, by its display of the gradual
uplifting of Scandinavian humanity from prehistoric
times, has so strongly aided in enforcing on the world
the scientific doctrine of the ' ' rise of man, ' ' and in bring-
ing to naught the theological doctrine of the "fall of
man. ' '

A short stay at Moscow added to my Russian points of
view, it being my second visit after an interval of nearly
forty years. Although the city had spread largely, there
was very little evidence of real progress: everywhere
were filth, fetishism, beggary, and reaction. The monu-
ment to Alexander II, the great emancipator, stood in the
Kremlin, half finished; it has since, I am glad to learn,
been completed; but this has only been after long and
slothful delays, and the statue in St. Petersburg has not
even been begun. It is well understood that one cause
of this delay has been the reluctance of the reactionary
leaders in the empire to glorify so radical a movement
as the emancipation of the serfs.


I had one curious experience of Muscovite ideas of
trade. Moscow is one of the main centers for the manu-
facture of the church bells in which the Russian peasant
takes such delight; and, being much interested in campa-
nology, I visited several of the principal foundries, and
was delighted with the size and workmanship of many
specimens. Walking one morning to the Kremlin, I saw
at the agency of one of these establishments a bell weigh-
ing about two hundred and fifty pounds, most exquisitely
wrought, and such a beautiful example of the best that
Russians can do in this respect that I went in and asked
the price of it. The price being named, I said that I
would take it. Thereupon consternation was evident in
the establishment, and presently the head of the con-
cern said to me that they were not sure that they wished
to sell it. But I said, "You have sold it; I asked you
what your price was, you told me, and I have bought it. ' '
To this he demurred, and finally refused altogether to
sell it. On going out, my guide informed me that I
had made a mistake; that I was myself the cause of
the whole trouble; that if I had offered half the price
named for the bell I should have secured it for two thirds ;
but that, as I had offered the entire price, the people in
the shop had jumped to the conclusion that it must be
worth more than they had supposed, that I had detected
values in it which they had not realized, and that it was
their duty to make me pay more for it than the price they
had asked. The result was that, a few weeks afterward,
a compromise having been made, I bought it and sent it
to the library of Cornell University, where it is now both
useful and ornamental.

The most interesting feature of this stay in Moscow
was my intercourse with Tolstoi, and to this I have de-
voted a separate chapter. 1

One more experience may be noted. In coming and
going on the Moscow railway I found, as in other parts
of Europe, that governmental control of railways does

i See Chapter XXXVII.


not at all mean better accommodations or lower fares than
when such works are under individual control. The
prices for travel, as well as for sleeping-berths, were
much higher on these lines, owned by the government,
than on any of our main trunk-lines in America, which
are controlled by private corporations, and the accom-
modations were never of a high order, and sometimes

During this stay in Russia my sympathies were en-
listed for Finland ; but on this subject I have spoken fully
elsewhere. 1

Having resigned my position at St. Petersburg in Oc-
tober of 1894, the first use I made of my liberty was to
go with my family to Italy for the winter; and several
months were passed at Florence, where I revised and
finished the book which had been preparing during twenty
years. Then came a rapid run to Rome and through
southern Italy, my old haunts at Castellammare, Sorren-
to, and Amalfi being revisited, and sundry new excursions
made. Among these last was one to Palermo, where I
visited the Church of St. Josaphat. This edifice greatly
interested me as a Christian church erected in honor of
a Christian saint who was none other than Buddha. The
manner in which the founder of that great world-religion
which preceded our own was converted into a Christian
saint and solemnly proclaimed as such by a long series
of popes, from Sixtus V to Pius IX, inclusive, by virtue
of their infallibility in all matters relating to faith and
morals, is one of the most curious and instructive things
in all history. 2

At first I had some difficulty in finding this church ; but,
finally, having made the acquaintance of an eminent
scholar, the Commendatore Marzo, canon of the Cappella
Palatina and director of the National Library at Palermo,
he kindly took me to the place. Over the entrance were

1 See Chapter XXXIV.

2 A full account of this conversion of Buddha (Bodisat) into St. Josaphat
is given, with authorities, etc., in my " History of the Warfare of Science
with Theology," Vol. II, pp. 381 et seq.


the words, "Divo Josaphat"; within, occupying one of
the places of highest honor, was an altar to the saint,
and above it a statue representing him as a young prince
wearing a crown and holding a crucifix. By permission
of the authorities I was allowed to send a photographer,
who took a negative for me. A remark of the Commen-
datore Marzo upon the subject pleased me much. When,
one day, after showing me the treasures of his great
library, he was dining with me, and I pressed him for
particulars regarding St. Josaphat, he answered, "He
cannot be the Jehoshaphat of the Old Testament, for he
is represented as a very young man, and contemplating
a crucifix: e molto misterioso." It was, after all, not so
very mysterious; for in these later days, now that the
"Life of Barlaam and Josaphat," which dates from
monks of the sixth or seventh century, has been compared
with the "Life of Buddha," certainly written before the
Christian era, the constant coincidence in details, and
even in phrases, puts it beyond the slightest doubt that
St. Josaphat and Buddha are one and the same person.

Very suggestive to thought was a visit to the wonder-
ful cathedral of Monreale, above Palermo; for here, at
this southern extreme of Europe, I found a conception
of the Almighty as an enlarged human being, subject to
human weakness, identical with that shown in the sculp-
tures upon the cathedral of Upsala, at the extreme north
of Europe. The whole interior of Monreale Cathedral
is covered with a vast sheet of mosaics dating from about
the twelfth century, and in one series of these, repre-
senting the creation, the Almighty is shown as working,
day after day, like an artisan, and finally, on the seventh

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 39 of 54)