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numerous Protestant community in the United States,
numbering about five times as many as the "Protestant



Episcopal." Bishop Simpson is, I believe, its senior
at least its chief pastor. He was to be present at
this Jubilee : and as President Grant is also a member
of this Church, and was then a visitor in the city, his
presence was also secured at the Jubilee, which thus
became of special importance and interest. I took my
place in the theatre, one among 4,000 or 5,000 who
filled every corner and gallery of the building. A portion
of the Sunday- School scholars from a number of chapels
were seated on the stage. They comprised 1,100 girls,
many of them grown young women, in white dresses,
and the crowd of them reached as far back as the
space behind the footlights could be cleared out to ac-
commodate them. They entirely covered the floor of the
stage, and as they mostly fanned themselves as they sat
ready for the proceedings to begin, the sight, from the
middle of the lower gallery, where I sat, was very strik-
ing. One of the stage boxes was reserved for the Presi-
dent, and the hum of conversation broke into clapping
of hands and cheers when he appeared and took his seat,
accompanied by Mrs. Grant and a party of friends.

Bishop Simpson then stood facing the audience in
front of the conductor's seat and offered a short sen-
sible prayer, and the proceedings, which consisted of
songs and recitations by the scholars, some religious,
some comic, commenced. The singing was not good ;
it lacked the fulness and the light and shade of similar
school choruses in England. Part of it, moreover,


was simply painful, at least to myself. On more than
one occasion two scholars were brought forward to sing
a duet. They were horribly frightened, poor girls,
and made no more noise than two mice in a barn. Of
course, their untrained voices could not fill the build-
ing. They were heard and seen, that was all ; and
some of the audience cheered good-humouredly. But
the sense of failure was somewhat effaced by about
thirty infant scholars, who sang a song called the
" Jolly little Clacker." These little trots had no sense
of shyness, and did their very best, standing in a row
behind the footlights, and clapping their hands in
accompaniment to the refrain which was

Click, click, click, clack, clack, clack,

Jolly little clacker, with your clack, clack, clack.

Then they all bobbed a curtsey, and were trooped out
by a teacher. The clacker is, I believe, an American
bird. But the President was there, and the chance of
dragging him into the performance was too great to be
lost. He is very shy and reserved, but he is the Pre-
sident, and a member of the " Methodist Episcopal
Church," so he had to gratify his friends.

One of the songs, far on in the programme, was
" See the conquering hero," &c. This they took out of
its turn, and compelled the President to assist in ren-
dering effective. They led him out of his box and set
him behind one of the scenes about one-third of the
way down the stage. There he stood looking very un-


Comfortable till the verse began "See the god-like
youth advancing." Then he marched out to a chair in
the middle, directly in front of the footlights, and sat
down with a big nosegay in his hand, looking still more
out of his element. After the song, the people insisted
on a speech from him. He is a very wise man, and
seldom speaks in public ; but they were too much for
him on this occasion. He therefore got up and made a
few remarks, in a tone so low that some of the audience
were rude enough to shout " Speak louder ! " But he
did not, choosing rather to shut his mouth and sit
down. Then he was asked to walk towards the back
of the stage, and either see or show himself to the
scholars, the young ladies in white. This he did ; but
the temptation was too strong for the damsels, who
presently made a rush upon him and devoured him,
falling upon him in such force that presently I could see
only the top of his head he is very short in a whirl-
pool of white muslin. The scene was so ludicrous
that a general cackle of laughter rose from the whole
audience, and the poor President swam out as fast as
he could, leaving the theatre immediately afterwards.
The spectators were much pleased, a lady next me
passing into a state of great excitement at the oscula-
tion, and lending me her opera-glass that I might see
it better. The whole thing was a success, and an In-
stitution for the Aged and Infirm reaped a good harvest
from the receipts. I paid half-a-dollar for admission.





I WAS enabled to pay a short visit to Washington and
Richmond. I went by night straight to the latter
place from New York, and stopped in "Washington on
my way back. The convenience of these sleeping-
cars, &c., cannot be mentioned too often, as, say what
we will, England must learn a lesson from America
in the matter of material provision for the comfort of
travellers ; while I wish she may learn from us to
provide a more careful set of officials to drive and
conduct trains. The carriages, &c., are excellent, but
the staff is often frightfully careless of injury to public
limbs and life. And then the papers do not report
accidents as they ought. Shortly after I had crossed
the continent by the Atlantic and Pacific rail a terrible
collision occurred upon it, for accounts of which I
looked in vain into the columns of the New York
Times? Herald, and Tribune. The accident was
caused by gross neglect. A passenger train had run
off the rails in consequence of a defective switch,
which had been reported so I heard as out of
order. It was got on again after some hours, rnes-


sengers with signals being sent back. But the driver
of an emigrant train wholly disregarded them, and
running full smash into the stationary passenger
train, killed six or seven persons, and wounded many
others. The voice of public opinion at least ought to
have been heard loudly on such an occasion ; but, as
I said, I looked for it in vain. I may have missed
comments which were made ; I did not find them.
A gentleman who was present at the disaster told us
that on asking the conductor what mischief was done,
he received the reply, " One passenger and six Mor*
mons killed, and twenty wounded." The accident
happened in a most dreary part of the route, where-
the poor people had to wait for hours before a surgeon
could be got, and he was found only among the
passengers of another train.

To return, I took my berth in a sleeping-car in the-
train which left New York at 9 P.M., and after travel-
ling 226 miles while asleep, woke in Washington.
Then I went at once on board a steamer, which runs
about sixty miles down the Potomac to Acquia Creek,
the water base of the long military operations against
the lines of Kichmond.

The Potomac has slightly elevated wooded banks,
and is a broad, beautiful river, looking, I fancied,
even wider than it is. Here were no mud shores
bristling with dead timber as on the Mississippi and
the Missouri, but headlands rich with autumn- tinted


trees. "We steamed rapidly down, and soon reached
our landing-place, now a mere railway station on a
wooden pier. A large number of charred piles hold-
ing their black heads above the water showed where
the Government stores had stood. People in the boat
said they had been burnt by Federals in office after
the war, in order to secure a price for their contents
to some contractors.

I had looked forward with much interest to the
seeing of some relics of the war, and now we had to
cross a country which had long been the scene of re-
peated battle. It is undulating, and very desolate.
Farmers before the war had worked their land till it
lost heart, and now it waits for Northern capital. The
scattered patches of corn were most miserable in com-
parison with what I had seen along the Missouri
bottom. I should correct an impression which may
perhaps have been made by my statement that some
of the corn-stalks there were fifteen feet high. I
referred to maize, which is always called " corn " in
America; other grain being known only as wheat,
barley, and the like.

" On board " the train from Acquia Creek to Eich-
mond I found myself for the first time during my tour
among those with Southern opinions. On happening
to ask a gentleman as we landed whether he had been
in the war, he replied, " Yes, sir ; I was a rebel, and
you will soon see the graveyards I helped to fill."


Then he chuckled, and added, "But we can't do
without the North now. They have the capital, we
have land and labour."

Signs of war soon showed themselves in breast-
works, &c., looking almost as fresh as when they were
made. We stopped some little time at Fredericks-
burg, on the opposite bank of the Rappahannock, a
comparatively narrow river for America. The town
is now well mended, though there are many patches ;
and I saw one or two skeletons of houses still un-
touched. I was struck by the very great increase in
the number of negroes visible everywhere. My bitter
Southern companion said they lived by stealing. "\Ve
saw the cemetery, filled mainly after the battle of
Fredericksburg. It is kept in most scrupulous order,
each grave being marked by a white headstone with
the names, where they could be ascertained, of the
soldiers buried in them. As these white memorials
were placed in rows at equal distances and covered
several acres, the effect was unpleasantly prim, the
place looking like a large nursery ground stuck full
of labels. It sorely wanted the air of consecration
which is associated with the resting-places of the dead.
All was clean, neat, and uniform, but staring and un-
mournful. It seemed at the first glance to have no
indication of individual sorrow, but it was certainly
marked by the sign of national care. Here I may say
that whilst descending the Potomac the bell of the


steamer tolled as we passed Mount Vernon, the home
and tomb of Washington. The rail between Acquia
Creek and Richmond has been repaired throughout
since the war, but, as usual, has no fence. Hence we
were checked in several places by cattle on the line,
and once we ran foul of a poor beast of a bull, which
we cut down, the " cow-catcher " on the bows of the
engine flinging it off the track. Occasionally the
cattle are avenged by keeping their own carcases on
the line and throwing the train off.

The part of Virginia we passed through had much
the same appearance all along the route. The lines
of Richmond, of yellow earth, are mostly as marked as
ever ; and when I looked back from the top of the
Capitol at the country we had crossed, I saw them
stretching away right and left out of sight. The
situation of Richmond is very picturesque, the James
River above the town being thickly studded with
islands. The burnt district is mainly rebuilt, and the
whole city was alive with a fair or exhibition, in which
agricultural implements and produce held a very pro-
minent place. Plasterers and whitewashes, too, were,
as a negro there said, "fixing up " the Capitol "a bit."
It is of Grecian architecture, and the most conspicuous
object in the city, being set on a hill, whence it
commands a fine view of the town and its surroundings.
Jfc has, however, both inside and out, an air of deso-
lation and decay.


"We visited the Libby Prison, on the river-bank, a
square dismal edifice, with three large floors. In one
sense it keeps up the sentiment of its business when
it was crowded with half- famished Federal prisoners,
for it is converted into a bone-crushing manufactory.
There was a propriety, too, in the use now made of
the old slave-market. There it stood, the same as
ever; only, instead of offering "hands" for sale, it
was bright with a great advertisement of "Excelsior
reaping mowing-machines," and the floor was cum-
bered with good store of agricultural implements. I
noticed also divers shops devoted to the provision of
farm seeds, &c. Altogether Richmond seems to have
made a great rise out of its fall, and the buildings
erected on the site of the burnt district, though the
walls are patchy with the blackened bricks used in
their construction, indicate a prosperous commercial
future. The suburbs and outer streets of the city,
with their sober-looking, weather-worn red brick de-
tached houses, reminded me more of an old English
town than anything I had seen in America. The inn,
too, had some air of the old country, the landlord
making a point of thanking us when we left his house-
a piece of politeness which you are not likely to
hear from the attendants or managers of a large roar-
ing hotel, however civil they may be.

I returned to Washington in a train filled with
people who had visited the fair, but as I happened to


travel in a car fitted, as some are, with cane easy
chairs, instead of the usual seats, there was no-
crowding, each passenger haying a place to himself.
These chairs are very luxurious, as you can let down
the back to your own angle, and have plenty of room
to stretch your legs.

Washington, called the "city of magnificent dis-
tances," is a very striking sketch of a metropolis.
The streets are wider than any I ever saw, and, being
both very long and straight, fill you with a sense of
perspective. Everything is on the largest scale, but
it is a skeleton, the number of houses bearing a small
proportion to the site of the city. The public buildings
are very fine, but almost painfully white. The streets-
are so arranged that many vistas are closed by one of
these edifices, the Capitol being everywhere most con-
spicuous. It is an immense structure, but very grand
in its proportions. It looks as if it had been finished
the day before, and washed that morning. The
appearance of its dome is familiar to our readers, but
its whiteness is even more staring than I had expected.
Of course I climbed to the top, whence, from the
gallery above the dome, the idea of what the city is,
or was intended to be, reveals itself. The Washing-
ton Monument, designed to be 600 feet high, is
perhaps the most striking sign of incompleteness seen
from the Capitol, for it has stopped short at 170 feet,
and looks like what it is, the stump of a column. I


went into the House of Representatives and the
Senate, which flank the Capitol, and are approached
by doors and passages from the rotunda under the
dome. They are oblong chambers, the House of
Representatives being 139 feet by 93, and a little
larger than the other ; but they both look very low,
since they are only 30 feet high. I believe, however,
that they suit the voice. The seats are spread out
like a fan from the Speaker's chair. Reporters are
excellently placed, and galleries afford seats to some
1,200 persons. This may sometimes be a question-
able convenience, as the directness of debate is likely
to be affected by the presence of a crowd, none of whom
need " members' orders" for admission to the House.
The ceilings are panelled and decorated, and desks
are provided for members.

The Patent Office is an immense building. Ameri-
cans are inventive, and here a model is shown of
every patent taken out and rejected. These last are
placed together. Somehow I had omitted noticing
this fact in the guide book I consulted, and where I
saw it stated after I had left the place. The models
are made to scale, but as they are all small, the col-
lection has rather a toyish appearance. Any visitor
can have a model he wishes to examine brought out
for him. Intending patentees, therefore, may look
through the class of models to which their projected
invention belongs, and calculate the chances of its


novelty. Great facilities are afforded to inventors,
and an American patent is, I believe, altogether the
cheapest and most secure in the world. The clerks
and attendants are ready in giving all information
needed. No fees are asked or expected from visitors
to this or any other public building in Washington.
No soldiers mount guard anywhere. All Departments
are open to the public from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., a permit
from the Secretary of the Treasury being needed only
for the inspection of the printing of " greenbacks."

The Treasury is another huge, roomy place, about
500 feet long and a little under 300 broad. I was
too late when I visited this, but saw the White House.
I did not, indeed, intend to seek admission into it,
for the President was at home, and I thought it might
be closed. However, I walked up to look at the out-
side. It deserves the name of the White House, even
in a city of white edifices, for everything about it
the glaring road, the blinds, the door itself helped
to claim the title. I saw no one about, no sentries,
no servants of any kind. A soldier's horse was tied
up at the entrance, but everything stood quiet and
still in the bright sunshine. Presently four persons,
Americans, whom I had seen doing the sights of
Washington, and whom, indeed, I had not long before
directed to the spiral staircase which leads up the
dome of the Capitol, came sauntering out. They
walked away, and the door was shut behind them.


Another orderly rode up, tied his horse to a ring in
the portico, and walked in. I turned aside, and was
strolling off, supposing the "White House was closed
to visitors for the day, when an old n egress came
smiling out by some side door.

"Mornin', sar," said she. "Mornin', marm," said
I. I supposed her to he a sort of Aunt Sally among
the servants, and asked her if the house was still open.
"Bless, you, sar," she replied, "I've been there three
hours; but I didn't see the President after all." " Did
you want to see him ? " " Yes, sar ; wages very low,
work scarce." " Did you expect him to find you
any?" " Well, sar, I thought I'd go and see, but he
is busy." Then she volunteered her opinion on his
fitness for his post, and praised Lincoln. "Ah ! I do
believe he was a Christian."

Negroes are monstrously communicative. Unlike
Americans, they frequently begin the conversation,
and are generally very ambitious in their choice of
subjects. The negro's talk is as large as his lips.
He is always contemplating a long journey, or deliver-
ing himself about the greatest matters and the biggest
people. The black barber talks of setting up business
in London. The boots at the hotel discusses the re-
lation between Canada and the United States. A
man who sold pears to us in the train to Richmond
mixed up his opinion of Henry Clay, a propos to
nothing, with his offers of fruit. This negress laid


down the law about the qualification of the Chief
Magistrate with most entertaining decision, and was
quite sincere in intending to place her special neces-
sities before none less than the President himself.
There was a grotesque pathos in the faith she felt in
her appeal to the head of the Government.

But he was busy. Busy ! I should think so, if he
has to listen to every personal tale. However, Aunt
Sally provoked me at least to look into the house, so I
retraced my steps and rang the front bell. A servant
out of lively opened the door at once, and began
showing me over the place. I said I was an English-
man passing through Washington, and hoped I was
not too late to see the White House. " Oh no, sir,'*
he replied, " but you mtrt not expect to see such a
palace as you havo in England." While we were
looking about I said, " I suppose the President is
much pressed upon by visitors." "Well," herejoined >
" there are pretty many, but I am sure he would see
you if you walked upstairs." "I won't trouble him,'*
said I ; "besides, I have not come prepared to seek a
presentation." I referred to my dress wideawake
and overcoat, which I wore because the wind was
keen, though the sun was bright. He saw what I
meant and laughed, adding, " We don't think about
that here, sir,*' So I strolled up the stairs, which
were public, and found myself, without introduction,
in a large room, where General was hearing an


application from some contractor at a table, a secretary
sitting at another, and an old gentleman standing
before the fire with an unlit cigar in his mouth. A
negro porter sat by a door on the other side of the

The General, too, asked me most courteously if I
wanted to see the President. I replied that had I
known he received that day I would have sought,
with others, the honour of making my bow to him,
but that I did not like to go in as I was. He smiled,
and said that made no difference, and added, " Send
your card in. Sit down." So I gave him my card
and sat down, while he went on with his business.
In a minute or two I was called into an inner room,
and found the President standing before the fire
smoking a cigar. He was exceedingly courteous, and
honoured me with some conversation about Utah and
the great line, the former of which he knew much
.about personally, having been there. Then I made
my bow, he shook hands, and I went out certainly
much impressed with the extreme facility of access
granted by the head of the Government to visitors.
The whole thing was so unexpectedly informal that I
felt it difficult to realise that I had had an interview
with so great a personage as the President of the
United States. He is a very gentlemanly man, with
a quiet, deliberate voice, and an eye that looks straight
at you when he speaks. He wore an ordinary morn-


ing dress, almost scrupulously well- fitting ; and I
noticed that, like the majority of Americans, he had
a, small white hand and very neat hoots.

There can be no greater mistake than to represent
the conventional American in a tail coat and bulgy
boots. I did not notice a tail coat worn in the morn-
ing while in America, nor did I ever see a more clean
heeled race in my life. Even in the rough West,
where trousers are worn stuffed into "Wellingtons "
though they are not known by that name there
the boots were almost invariably neatly built. Our
guide in the Sierra wore a high-heeled pair, which
might have come out of the most fashionable shop in
Eegent Street.

The President is exposed to much detail of work,
which must be very wearisome. He receives, I forget
whether it is twice or three times a week, and is, of
course, constantly pestered with personal applications
for office. It was exceeding good-natured in him to
see me, a wandering Englishman, as he did after the
reception hours had passed. No one, moreover, could

be more pleasantly courteous than General ,

with whom, before I left, I had some very agreeable
conversation. And this courtesy descends to lower
officials. Again and again I ventured to introduce
myself to such as the officers of Public Charity and
Correction, and Emigration, and nowhere did I find a
" Jack in office." All everywhere offered me all the



facilities in their power, often putting themselves to*
trouble in showing me what I wanted to see. The
ordinary attendants, moreover, never seemed to expect
a fee. Only once did I have a hint of the kind, and
that was from a convict hoat crew, in party-coloured
dresses, when their officer offered to row me across
the East Eiver from the Penitentiary. They suggested
that they had no "baccy."

The absence of formality in American institutions
is very striking. Perhaps it is most so in the law
courts. We find it difficult to realise a judge on the
bench in a frock coat and pointed moustache. And
as the prisoner stands on the floor of the court, which
is covered with chairs, in which the counsel sit in all
manner of beards and easy morning dress, it is some-
what difficult at first to realise who is who and what
is going on. The friends of the prisoner sit below,
close by the counsel, in a place reserved for them.

But I must close this rambling chapter. I left
Washington impressed with a mingled sense of mag-
nificence, incompleteness, and simplicity. No place
has a finer Capitol, no nation has a more accessible
chief magistrate, and I should think no city is as yet
so imperfectly realised as the metropolis of the United

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Online LibraryHarry JonesTo San Francisco and back → online text (page 10 of 12)