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for a Pullman car. On going on the platform I saw
no Pullman, but one of another sort. " How's this?"
I asked of the conductor ; " I've got a ticket for a
Pullman." " Well, sir," said he, " if you have got
the ticket you should have the car." He didn't tell
me that their one Pullman had just been left standing
on its head at the bottom of an embankment. How-
ever, we started, and had not gone far before our train
ran off the line too. One poor fellow had both his
thighs broken, and we were detained about three hours,
and had to leave our engine. I believe it was in a
ditch, but being fast asleep all through the accident,
I did not learn about it till some hours afterwards.
It is curious how one can sleep through such a jar as
we had. Soon after I woke we just missed an ugly
collision. I was on the platform at the end of the
car, and seeing the train coming, jumped off, naturally;
but the danger was averted. As many as could, though,
jumped out of the train, there being no risk in so doing,
as our part was hardly moving.

The route by the Missouri is very dismal in places.
The river is probably one of the ugliest in the world


a muddy, shallow, wide stream, with great expanse of
mud banks bristling with the trunks and arms of dead
trees. Ague reigns supreme here. Again and again
we passed by the site of the Eden in "Martin
Chuzzlewit." There were great breadths of flat, wet
shore, indented by lagoons of deadly-looking water,
in which stood a tangled growth of trees surrounded
by rotting fallen branches and slimy weeds, the site
of which desolation had never been touched since the
continent of America rose out of the primeval seas.

But where the waters had subsided and left arable
soil the crops were monstrous. I do not know
whether my readers will believe me, but yet it is a
fact that some of the stalks of the Indian corn were
15 feet high. As I sat in the train while it passed
along an embankment, the tops of the stems growing
in the field below rose in several instances above my
head. A friend, an accurate and trustworthy man,
told me he had measured stalks of corn which were
17 feet long. Indeed, the energy and resource of
some of these virgin soils are almost incredible.

Our progress was slow through the Missouri Bot-
tom, as the line runs in part through coarse pastures,
and there being no fence, the cattle were constantly
getting on the line. These had to be " tooted " at em-
phatically by our trumpet-whistle, and sometimes the
train was pulled up, since the cows simply set off
waddling down the line before us, as if, naturally


enough, they thought they could go at least as fast as
anything on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway.

At last, late in the second day, we reached St.
Charles, about 20 miles from St. Louis, where the-
Missouri had to be crossed by the train. There was
no bridge, but a huge dirty ferry-boat, with all its
machinery above deck. This, churning up the yellow
water, took over three cars at a time, each about 50 feet
long. The Missouri flows into the Mississippi about
four or five miles below this. It was quite dark before
we got off on the other side of the river, and all we
saw of St. Louis on entering was a twinkle of lights.

This is a busy city, with main avenues running
parallel to the Mississippi, and intersected by streets
at right angles to it. It is smokier than any part of
London, and therefore dirty. It is a steady rival to
Chicago, and there is much interchange of jealous
comparisons between the two cities, but Chicago is by
far the most thriving place. St. Louis is, in fact,
quite ancient, being some 100 years old. The day
after my arrival I went down at once to look at the
famous river. A heavy cloud of smoke and fog hung
over it, and on the St. Louis side lay a fringe of great
white high-pressure steamboats, with tiers of decks
and two tall funnels each. I had intended to descend
the river from this place to Cairo, but desisted, not
fancying the steamboats. And thus I was possibly
saved from being one of the passengers on board ono



which I looked at as it lay ready to sail. It was
burned on that very trip, and some 150 passengers
lost their lives.

I spent the Sunday in St. Louis. It is called by
some the City of Churches. The Episcopal Church
here, though, is weak. I asked the clerk in the office
of the Planters' House, where I stopped, who were the
great preachers in the town. He replied that they
were all burning and shining lights ; so I went to one
large Episcopal church, where it struck me, however,
that there was not much warmth. After visiting the
Sunday-school, I took my place in a very fashionable
congregation ; the church, like almost all I have seen
in America, being made as comfortable as stoves,
carpets, and cushions could make it. The choir, as
usual, sat in the organ-loft, and consisted of ladies
and gentlemen, who were but little accompanied by
the congregation. The sermon was quiet and prac-
tical, but the whole tone of the service was coldly re-
spectable. The street in which the church stood
seemed to be almost dedicated to religion, and they
told me its title was to be changed from " Locust," a
favourite street name in the States, to " Church "
Street. The large number of places of worship in all
American cities is very striking. The newness of
them is as remarkable as their abundance. Many
look as if they had been finished last week. Though
young, they are built to last, being in most cases in


the cities constructed of brick or stone. Country
churches are generally built of wood, and as ugly as
they can be built. In this respect they are like al-
most all the houses in the country, which are wooden
and painted white, seeming, as one remarks, to have
no root in the ground.

I have said that the service in the Episcopal Church
I worshipped in at St. Louis was coldly respectable.
By this, however, I do not mean that it seemed worse
than that in those of other denominations. In one
Western city I looked into I think it waseight
churches and chapels on the Sunday. Every-
where appeared the same extreme comfort in the
matter of seats and carpets, but with the exception
of one, a Baptist chapel, where the singing was fairly
congregational, all had the same chilly religious at-
mosphere. Indeed, there is a silence and sadness
about most American assemblages, so far as I have
seen them. And this includes the gatherings for
meals in hotels. A hundred Americans dining in
public do so generally with an air more suited to an
examination in mathematics than to a meal which
ought to be cheery. I have repeatedly been struck, by
contrast, with the character which we have as natives
of "merry" England. Almost all Americans take iced
water or weak tea at dinner, and no wine or beer.
But at odd times they drink oceans of "bitters" and.
" syrups." No wonder they are melancholy !




AFTER a day or two in St. Louis, I took my ticket for
Philadelphia, a singularly rectangular city, by Cincin-
nati and Pittsburg, along what is called the Pan
Handle route so named because it crosses a narrow
neck of Virginia, like, on the map, the handle of a
frying-pan. The road is good. We came at an ex-
cellent pace, and were only about two hours after our

The country is flat, or slightly undulating most of
the way, till you begin to draw towards the Alleghanies,
some kindred ranges of which run through the east-
ern, central, and southern parts of Pennsylvania.
But I have a word more about St. Louis before I get
to Cincinnati on my way into this State. I occupied
myself before I started from St. Louis with inquiries
about the price of provisions, going into the bakers'
shops, stopping the milkman on his rounds, &c.
The milk was eight cents a quart : a cent is about a
halfpenny. I was surprised at the price of bread
ten cents for a loaf a little less than 21b. weight.
I wandered into the poorest part of the town, and felt
that any emigrating from the slums of our cities



might easily find themselves at home in the close
alleys and rooms of this place. The smells, more-
over, of the poor parts of every American city I have
been in are much the same as in London ; in divers
cases worse. Indeed, I think that the sanitary con-
dition of some of the poor parts of London, as far as
my observations have guided me, is ahead of those in
the New World. I am speaking of such as exhibit
signs of science and care. The much-praised and
beautifully placed Salt Lake City is miserably ar-
ranged, as far as health goes. The streams which
flow through the streets are simply sewers. They
run fast and twinkle in the sun, but for all that they
carry the seeds of disease about the place. But the
City of the Saints is no fair test of American progress.
It has not, e.g., even a lamp in the streets. I am
speaking of such towns as St. Louis, Cincinnati, and
Philadelphia. I have prowled about these, and come
on smells which brought the Seven Dials forcibly to
mind. With all this, I am bound to say that I have
not found anywhere the sodden, tattered element of
population which disgraces London. Nor, with the
exception of two beggars in Philadelphia who stopped
me in the street, have I as yet been asked by any one
for alms. I ought to mention, though, that blind
men sometimes board the trains, and little children
come into the reading-rooms of the hotels for what
they can get. But they do not pester you. They


simply come in with a suppliant face and walk round,
holding out their hands. The philanthropy of Phil-
adelphia and New York is, however, producing its
harvest of paupers, and they say that during the
winter the begging in these places, specially the latter,
has already grown to he very considerable. Once
hereabouts, on being introduced to an active philan-
thropist, he said to me, "We have not the destitution
of London here, sir : " as if, like the manager of a
performance, he were apologising for some imper-
fection. I ventured to console him by saying that I
thought he and his friends were manufacturing it fast.
He didn't seem to see it, and looked surprised at my
rejoinder. But though, with the enthusiasm of
nascent impulsive philanthropy, he could not deny
that beggary was growing, he looked as if he would
have liked to question my comment and I have had
considerable experience in begging and the careless
"charity" which promotes it but he made no reply.
I hope he thought the more. The beggars, though,
have not shown themselves, as in London, wherever
I have been in America, nor are there any crossing-
sweepers. The slow, splashed, dilapidated men who
sweep the streets early in the morning are, I suppose,
cosmopolitan. I have, in America, come on gangs
of them precisely similar to our own in London ; and
they get much about the same wages as with us. I
think I have already mentioned that I did not see or


hear an itinerant organ grinder. There were a few
street organs, but they were ground mostly by maimed
soldiers, who were fixed to one corner of a street and
sat, with their instruments, on the ground. I once
saw two on the opposite corners of the same thorough-
fare. They had placards saying in what battle they
were wounded, and each played different tunes all
day, at the same time, at either end of the same

To return. Knowing that the country was quite
level between St. Louis and Cincinnati, I crossed it
by night in a sleeping-car, and woke to find myself
on a dead flat, set with patches of small timber, the
everlasting Indian corn, and pumpkins. The road
ran as straight as an arrow, and the same white
wooden houses and villages as ever were scattered
about the country. There was not a hill, mound, or
eminence of any sort in sight ; and all the farming,
as usual, was coarse and untidy.

There were, however, many signs that we had left
the rough West for a State which had long been
settled. The character of the crowd of wayfarers and
men about the stations was changed. There were no
unkempt "boys" with wide hat, flannel shirt, trousers
stuck into boots, and strong leather belt, suggestive
of the six-shooter and knife which hung behind.
People, however, are emigrating from Ohio into the
wondrous West. The New England farmers, on the


contrary, are in many cases selling all that they have
and buying land in the South, where it might be had,
of the best, while I was there, for eight or ten dollars
an acre, and negro labour could be obtained for some
ten dollars a month and coarse board meal and
bacon : whereas in the West the labourer, in the
summer, often gets thirty dollars a month, and better
board than is given to the negro. Moreover the New
Englander, by going south, has not to put up with
the loss of civilization like the man who leaves an old
settled district to make a fresh home in the new
districts of Nebraska, Kansas, and the like.



I GOT to Cincinnati at a little after nine in the
morning, and, thanks to the convenient usage in the
matter of railway tickets, " lay over " there for a day.
The American plan, by which you can buy a ticket at
your hotel if you like, or at least in some office hard
by, is much better than ours. For instance, at San
Francisco I bought my ticket for New York, paying
no more for coming round by St. Louis. I used it
first to Stockton. Then I had it in my pocket-book
during a ten days' excursion into the Sierra Nevada
on horseback. On striking the line again, I was not
obliged to have it stamped or re-dated, but at every
station it came out as good as new; and I might
have stopped for three months, and still travelled on
without troubling myself more than to show it, when
called upon, to the conductor of the train. At the
risk of more repetition, too, I must record the
perpetually repeated favourable impression caused by
the luggage system. I had a trunk, bought in San
Francisco, which I choked with a lot of things from
Chinese shops, the Yo Semite Valley cones, bark,
&c., a heavy parcel, containing buffalo robes, &c., and
a bag. My trunk, &c., I sent on 2,000 miles. My


bag I kept with me. Whenever I wanted to stop a
day or two at a place, I had only to speak to an
authorised " express man " on board the train. I
handed him the brass check which had a corresponding
one on the bag, and when I had secured my room at
the hotel, my bag walked in at once without more
ado. Moreover, while travelling, I several times
wanted something out of my big bag. I had only to
walk along inside the train to the baggage-van, knock
at the door, and, showing my check, ask leave to open
my luggage and take out what I needed. Every
facility is thus given to travellers in the matter of
tickets and baggage, and the people who look after
your interests are always civil. When I got near New
York I had only to give my checks to the polite
" express man," and I then simply handed him my
railway-rug and hand-bag in the train, some half-hour
before my arrival. I then only took a street car, six
cents, to my hotel, and my things were laid out in
my room for me as soon as possible. Any one,
however, who tried, as some do at first, to look after
his luggage in the English fashion, would be sorely
perplexed. Generally the stations seem to be without
porters, and you don't know whom to ask any question
of. You must settle all your luggage business before
you get out of the train. If you think to keep guard
over your own things and see them put into the van
without checks, intending to see them taken out, you


will be disappointed. The luggage-master in the
train will simply put them out at the next station on
the platform, and leave them there. This is a land of
minute regulations. Any assertion of British inde-
pendence in the matter of self-protection is quietly
ignored. I saw all the luggage of one man turned
out by the wayside at a station in the West, because he
had neglected to observe the usual routine. A depar-
ture from this will surely get the traveller into trouble.

Cincinnati is a religious city, though the reading of
the Bible was some time ago, by an unholy combina-
tion of Jews, Freethinkers, and Eoman Catholics,
excluded from the common schools.* I had two sets
of tracts and cards put into my hands before I got
outside the railway station.

I turned my steps at once to the Ohio, which is
here crossed by a suspension bridge of 1,200 feet
span, at a great height above the river. The water
was rather low, and the business of smoothing and
paving the wide sloping banks was going busily on.
There was, as usual in these river-side American
cities, a border of white, large, high-backed steamers,
with double funnel, and the machinery naked above
deck; the pilot's steering-box, like a smart little
summer-house in a tea-garden, being raised up on.
high, and " dominating " the whole concern in the

* This act of exclusion has, I understand, since then been


midst. I was going to say that Cincinnati was the
smokiest town I ever saw, but Pittsburg beats it in
floating dirt. It calls itself the " Queen City of the
West," but is often named " Porcopolis," being a
great centre of hog slaughtering. Of course, here I
expected to find pork cheap, but was astonished to find
that it sells at eighteen cents per pound. I am at a
loss to account for the very high retail price of pro-
visions wherever I go. At Chicago mutton was de-
cidedly cheap by the carcase, but small quantities of
meat are everywhere dear. At New York they pay
from thirty-five to forty cents per pound for beef-steaks,
not so good as English. At Cincinnati I found prime
cuts of beef and mutton were fifteen cents a pound,
potatoes sixty cents a bushel, brown sugar seventeen
or eighteen cents a pound, bread five cents, coffee
thirty to thirty-five, tea a dollar and a half, and "table"
butter forty-five cents. I got these prices by going
into shops, like a customer, and asking the prices.
Wages are higher than with us. A bricklayer gets
six dollars a day, but is generally out of work half the
year. Carpenters have four dollars a day ; ordinary
labourers about two dollars. Kents are very high.
I asked a man who served me in a shop what he paid.
He said three rooms on the second floor cost him
fifteen dollars a month, and that a cottage with three
rooms and a kitchen was twenty dollars a month. A
working man paid twelve dollars a month for two rooms,


or about ten shillings a week, allowing for the deprecia-
tion of the currency. All the prices I have given are in
currency, but they seem to show that in cities it is
doubtful if artisans gain by emigration from England
to America. I should add that clothing is about three
times as dear there as with us. Here, though, I found
no squalid class. All seem to have work, and the city
was full of business. A barber, however, who brushed
my hair, talked of improving his condition by going to
England. I have been very much struck again and
again by the respectful way in which people speak of
the old country.

I have talked in the train, in steamboats, in shops,
hotels, and at street corners, with men of all sorts
with, indeed, every one who would enter into conversa-
tion with me : in America you generally have to break
the ice yourself, since very few people speak to their
travelling neighbours, whether native or not ; and
almost invariably free complaint is made of the heavy,
provoking taxes which are laid upon the people, the
jobbery of officials, and the corruption of justice.
These are the three leading phases of grumbling.
Almost every one says that Judges and members
of Congress can be bribed. They may be right or
wrong in their persuasion, but all I can say is that
I have hardly talked with an American on these
matters who did not thus abuse the working of the
institutions of his country. He will dwell upon its


resources, its bigness, its power, its incalculable future,
but he will have his fling at the Legislature.

While at Sacramento I strolled into a place of
entertainment where comic dialogues were held
between coloured men, and almost all the jokes, those
which drew most applause, were levelled at the rulers
of the land. A " curiosity " long discussed turned
out to be "a Massachusetts General who did not steal
spoons." Another man injured his brains by an
accident and left them to be mended at a shop, but
forgot to call for them because he happened to be
elected as a national legislator and did not observe
their absence, &c. Thus joke after joke was turned
against the Legislature, or the Army, or the absurdity
of asking for Alabama " clams," or a " Finnicom "
invasion of Canada when the English soldiers
"arrested" everything down to what was very like
the vermin which accompanied the invaders.

On the subject of Fenians I was much interested.
I pulled out the Fenian stop on every possible occasion,
and I never met with an American who did not speak
of Fenians with the strongest contempt. They dislike
them much, but find their vote convenient on the eve
of elections. Of course, divers Irishmen had a dif-
ferent opinion of Fenianism.

When practicable, I also drew the conversation to
the subject of repudiation, and altogether I met with
only two who desired it. I need hardly say that an


American has generally an opinion, and is never slow
to admit it when asked ; but over and over again I
have heard some such sentiments as this " Kepu-
diate, sir ! Nonsense ; where would the credit of the
country be ? " There is, we know, a party which ad-
vocates repudiation, but I must say what I have heard.

I mention this now because on the journey from St.
Louis I happened to have an extra amount of con-
versation with my fellow travellers on political affairs.

Another thing that struck me on this journey was
the number of rivers which water the country in
these parts. Besides the Susquehanna, the Juniata,
the Schuylkill, the Delaware, the Ohio, &c., we saw
or crossed many of which my fellow passengers could
not tell me the names.

The Alleghanies form a very picturesque range of
mountains, but are tame. They are mostly wooded,
and the autumn tints of the leaves were exceedingly
beautiful, yet they present no striking forms on the
sky-line, and are very much like themselves. Many
portions of our route, though, especially where the
railroad followed the course of rivers, were more than
pretty. I was much amused by a fellow-traveller who,
as we came on a remarkably fine and distant valley
view, with cliffs of rock, &c., said to me, " There, sir ;
there is nothing to beat that in Switzerland." I said
I missed the mountains and the snow and the ice and
the lakes, and asked him to which part of Switzerland


he referred. " Well, sir," lie replied ; " I have been
there." " So have I," I rejoined, and ran through
the names of some dozen or so of Swiss districts with
which I am familiar. He got up and walked off to
the other end of the car in disgust, which, if not un-
speakable, was, at least on this occasion, unspoken.

I did not come across much bragging, but when I
did find some, it was full-grown.

Philadelphia, where I stayed, is a distressingly cor-
rect and beautiful city. The houses are mostly of red
brick, and brilliant with advertisements. The vistas
down the main streets are fine, the shops are excel-
lent, and the people all seem respectable. Numerous
street-cars run in every thoroughfare, and the foot
pavements are in places of red brick, like the houses.
There are many trees in the city, their green contrast-
ing beautifully with the prevailing red of the houses.

I will not pause to tell you of divers stock sights
which I went to see, comprising among other things
the table on which the Declaration of Independence
was signed, &c., for these are the standing dishes of
Philadelphia ; but I must make mention of my visit to
the Sunday- School Jubilee of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, which was held during my stay here in the
Academy of music in other words a large theatre.

The " Methodist Episcopal Church " is the most

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Online LibraryHarry JonesTo San Francisco and back → online text (page 9 of 12)