Richard Tangye.

Reminiscences of travel in Australia, America, and Egypt online

. (page 10 of 18)
Online LibraryRichard TangyeReminiscences of travel in Australia, America, and Egypt → online text (page 10 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

downwards as near to the rails as possible. The
contrivance is successful in moving most living obstacles
from the track. For instance, when a cow gets between
the rails and sees the train approaching, it becomes
dazed, and the iron frame striking the lower portion of
the legs takes it up readily. But with a bull it is quite
different : when his lordship sees his enemy approaching
he puts his chin down upon his fore -feet and waits the
onset with a confidence not by any means always



misplaced, for in this position Ins head and feet form a
wedge which, becoming inserted beneath the iron frame,
frequently throws the engine back upon the train,
causing serious accidents. When at Ogden I saw the
remains of a goods train which had been wrecked in
this way a week before, the engine drivers being killed,
also two stow-aways, or " dead-heads," as the Yankees
call them, who had secreted themselves under one of
the carriages.


Waking one morning we found ourselves in a most
awfully desolate country, with scarcely a sign of vege-
tation a veritable dry and thirsty land, through which
we travelled all day. Towards evening we came to the
alkali country, and the plains looked as though they were
covered with snow. This is a fearful place, where, before
the construction of the railway, many poor emigrants
have lain down to die. Soon after, we skirted the margin
of the Great Salt Lake and entered Brigham Young's
dominions, passing his first town, " Corinne." This town
was founded by the Gentiles after Brigham turned them
out of the Salt Lake City, but he soon drove them
farther off.


We left the train at Ogden in order to pay a short
visit to the Salt Lake City, which is situated thirty-six
miles off, and is approached by a railway belonging to
the Saints. For beauty of situation Salt Lake City is
almost unrivalled. It lies in a basin more than twenty
miles in diameter, and is surrounded by mountains,
some of which are 12,000 feet high, and most of them
covered with perpetual snow. At the time of our visit
the fruit-trees were in full bloom, and, as each house is
surrounded by its garden, the city occupies a large
extent of ground, presenting a beautiful appearance
from the United States camp, which stands on an
elevation commanding the whole city, about two miles
off. A portion of the old mud wall, about ten feet high,
built by the Mormons to resist the attack of the Indians,
still remains standing. Several of the houses are
exceedingly well built, and the gardens kept in excellent
order ; one in particular I was much struck with, and
remarked to our guide that it was the brightest and
best kept place I had seen since leaving England. He
told me it belonged to an Englishman who had left for
his native country on the previous day. Curiously
enough, when I returned home, I found this man was a
brother of my butcher, and was then on a visit home.
We observed two ladies sitting in the front of the house
engaged in needlework, and were told that they were
the two wives of the English Mormon. It was very
noticeable that these ladies sat at a considerable distance
apart, cordiality (unless it be of hatred) not being a
characteristic of these Mormon wives in their relations
with each other. At the time of our visit the
''Prophet" was down south, looking out for a new


location for the Saints, in view of the threatened
difficulties with the Central Government. We visited
the Tabernacle, and saw the preparations for the new
temple, to which the deluded of all nations continue
to contribute, although it is exceedingly doubtful that
the building will be carried to completion. The man
who showed us over the Tabernacle used to work
in a London factory; but he told us with a curious
twinkle in his eye that the " new job " paid him much
the best. At a short distance from the city there is a
sulphur spring, of considerable volume, proceeding
from the side of the mountains ; the temperature of the
water is such that eggs can be boiled in it. We
slept at Ogden that night in order to be in good time
for securing places in the train going east in the
morning. When the hotel bill was presented I tendered
English gold in payment, having disposed of my U.S.
currency. The landlord refused to take it, saying, "He

would not have the British gold." I explained to

him that I had no other money, but to no purpose, so, as
the train was almost due, I told him I would pay him
when I came that way again, but was not sure when
that would be. He quietly said, "I guess I'll take your
gold," much to the amusement of the bystanders.
At the station here is a printed notice cautioning

For three days after leaving Ogden we travelled
through the snow, passing through a series of canons
or gorges, which narrow at the base until there is just
room for the brawling stream which runs along the
bottom. The railway in such cases is either excavated
on one side of the gorge or carried on trestles over the



stream. The rocks on the mountain sides, mostly of
red sandstone, are very bold and of strange shapes.
Amongst them is a very weird-looking group called
"The Witches/' Another group, known as "The
Buttes," bears a most striking resemblance to a line of
strong fortifications commanding the valley. We saw


these at sunset, and the effect of the evening light upon
the red sandstone was very fine. In the same neighbour-
hood is the celebrated Devil's Slide ; it is formed by
the earth being gradually washed away from between
two lines of vertical strata about 20ft. apart. It is



some hundreds of feet in length, and descends into the
river. This valley was the route taken by the Western
Pioneers, and is marked here and there by solitary
graves with crosses at their heads.


The whole 8,000 feet descent from the summit to
the eastern plains is made in about four hours. The
steam is turned off, the breaks turned on, and down we
go. As we were preparing to descend I remarked to
the negro attendant that I supposed we must trust the
engineer now? "No, sah," said Sambo, " I guess we
must trust de ole man up above," pointing to the skies.


[N reaching Chicago we left " the overland
train," with the object of paying a short visit
to Niagara. The last stage of our long ride
was from Omaha, during which we crossed the
Missouri and Mississippi. There being three com-
peting lines to Chicago the pace became greatly
accelerated, so much so that during a considerable
portion of the long ride it was almost impossible to
stand on one's feet, and the country being very dry, the
train was enveloped in a cloud of dust almost the whole
of the way. We had, however, one compensation, for
attached to the train was a well-appointed dining-car,
with first-rate cuisine. The viands were of the choicest
quality, and in great variety. Moreover, the speed of
the train was slackened during meals, an arrangement
affording a degree of comfort unknown on the Pacific
Line. The bill of fare is a curiosity in its way, being
garnished with appetising mottoes and sentiments, such


as, " As you journey through life live by the way,"
" Eat and be satisfied," and concluding with an expres-
sion of belief that passengers would appreciate this new
feature of "Life on the Koad."

In going through Chicago we were much surprised by
the fine and substantial-looking buildings in every part
of the city. There are fifty to one hundred streets, any
one of which is equal to the best in London ; indeed, it
struck me as being more of a city than any place I had
ever been in. We observed a whole block of buildings,
including a bank on the ground floor, and offices above ;
being removed bodily without any disturbance of the
business operations going on in it. The water for the
city supply is taken frdm Lake Michigan through a pipe
which extends two miles into the lake. The capacity
of the pumping engines is seventy-five millions of
gallons per day, the greatest demand being forty-five
millions. During the last few years there have been
many disastrous fires in Chicago, directly traceable to
the general employment of timber not only in buildings,
but for the side walks and roadways. The broad streets
referred to above are, however, constructed of a fine
warm-coloured sandstone, and all the new streets are
being made of the same material. Nevertheless, a
considerable number of timber houses remain, con-
stituting a standing danger to the city. While in
Chicago I found my passport useful. On going to the
bank to get some money on my Letter of Credit the
manager told me they had not received a copy of my
signature from the bank in England, and that in its
absence they could not honour my draft. It was in
vain that I showed him my watch and other articles


having my name engraved upon them. He looked at
them as though he thought there were various ways of
getting possession of such articles. I told him I
regretted I had not been born with my name on my
person, but I was not accountable for the omission. I
then thought of my passport, and although he appeared
to think that it was possible to obtain possession of that
improperly, he accepted it with the remark that " even
that is not conclusive," for it should have had a
description of my person. We stayed at the Grand
Pacific Hotel, which formed a great contrast to the
Palace Hotel at San Francisco, being uncomfortable
and badly administered.

At Detroit we cross the frontier into Canada,
travelling over the Great Western Eailway to Niagara.
This line was constructed by English contractors, and
the superiority of the work is manifested in the smooth,
steady motion of the carriages. Compared with the
lines we had previously traversed this was most com-
fortable. We pass through London, Paris, and other
places with equally celebrated names, greatly enjoying
the forest scenery, numerous clearings and bright
little homesteads dotted over the country ; and for the
first time since leaving England seeing lovely green
fields such as we have at home. At Niagara we stopped
at the famous Clifton House, where we were joined by
friends from England.

Our impressions of Niagara were those common to
most visitors first, a feeling of disappointment, soon
succeeded, however, by an ever-increasing sense of the
immensity and magnificence of the Falls, which grows
upon one the more one sees them.



A sentiment of disgust, however, is inspired by
the ruthless desecration of the most beautiful spots
by Yankee manufacturers, who have chosen such
picturesque positions for their smoky factories. Another
annoyance constantly experienced is from the peripatetic


photographer, who endeavours to persuade you that you
are greater than the "Falls." The Falls, indeed, are
made to seem a mere background to your photograph,


in which he is careful to show you nearest the camera,
and hence proportionately by far the most imposing

To get into Canada we have to cross the suspension
bridge. Going over one day we purchased about 1
worth of photographs of Canadian scenery. On re-
turning with them we were accosted by the American
customs officer, who mulcted us in nearly twenty
shillings duty. On entering his office to obtain a
receipt we observed a " six-shooter" at his right hand,
presumably for the purpose of persuasion. On leaving
the place I met an American policeman and told him
what a shabby transaction it was for the representatives
of so great a country. He replied that he guessed the
officer must raise his salary. I refrain from any
attempt to describe the mighty Falls of Niagara.

On our way to New York we travelled by railway to
Albany, the capital of the State of New York, passing
through Syracuse, Eome, and Utica, along the shores of
Lake Ontario, although from the lowering of the ground
and the abundance of trees we were unable to see the
lake ; thence alongside the Falls Kiver, through very
charmingly diversified country with numerous valleys
going up from the waterside, well- timbered, and here
and there a clearing with open green fields. The houses
are in most cases mean-looking plank erections, pre-
senting a very weather-beaten appearance, some painted
a very dark red colour. In the evening we reached
Albany, an old Dutch town of over two hundred years,
and very Dutch-looking it is with its queer red-brick
houses, wooden pavements, and trees along the streets,
and frequent peeps of the river here and there. Amongst


the finest public buildings are those devoted to the
national schools, a true gauge of the importance the
citizens attach to the education of the people. On our
way to New York we had an opportunity of taking a
day's sail on the Eiver Hudson in one of the celebrated
American river-boats. Going on board we found
ourselves on a veritable floating palace. The steamer
was a three-decker, two of the decks being covered with
splendid carpets, and fitted with arm-chairs of a most
comfortable pattern, and with velvet-covered ottomans
and couches in all directions. Taking up one of the
books from the well-stocked bookstall I saw it purported
to be one of a series of standard works by American
authors, and on looking down the list I observed the
names of Tennyson, Barry Cornwall, and others. Our
American cousins were always great at annexation, and
the only wonder is they do not call their mother tongue
the " American language."

The Americans seem anxious that everyone shall admit
that the Hudson is finer than any other river in the world.
I have been down the Elbe, through the Saxon Switzer-
land, also down the Danube and the Rhine. The Hudson
is far more beautiful than the Rhine. The banks are
thickly wooded, and the villages and country houses
prettily situated. It is true that the Hudson lacks
the romantic associations of the Rhine, but even in
this respect it is not altogether wanting, for does
it not possess the Catskill Mountains, with their
legend of Rip Van Winkle? But I like the Danube
best ; its banks are loftier and more rugged, and
are covered with pines, and from its comparative
narrowness one can see both sides at once. Then.



again, the ancient towns and monasteries jutting out
on the spits of land are infinitely more interesting than
the wooden houses along the Hudson. Again, the Elbe,
especially in the Saxon Switzerland, is decidedly more


beautiful than the Hudson ; but for all this the latter is
a river of which a nation may well be proud, and we
greatly enjoyed our sail upon it.


On a subsequent visit to the Hudson we landed at
West Point, the seat of the celebrated military academy
founded by Washington, where there are some hundreds
of students. Our hotel was situated about two miles
from the academy, and overlooked the river from an
eminence of about two hundred feet. The river can be
seen for some miles winding between steep banks on
both sides. The morning after our arrival was a
Sunday, and the church bells were ringing for service.
There are two opposition churches here, but I
have reason to believe they are very charitable to
one another ; at all events their respective bell-ringers
do not believe in the jarring of the sects, for I notice
that first one rings out one two three four ; then
a decent pause, and his neighbour likewise rings out
one two three four, and so the celestial harmonies
are not disturbed.

On the opposite bank of the river is a place historic
in the annals of the Revolution, for here it was that the
American General Arnold was stationed while he was
carrying on his treasonable correspondence with the
ill-fated Major Andre. Arnold was sitting at breakfast
with his officers and some guests when word was
brought him that Andre was captured as a spy by the
Americans. Knowing he would surely be incriminated,
Arnold pretended he was wanted below on urgent
business, and, going down to Beverley landing, he
ordered his men to row him to the British man-of-war
lying in the river. Poor Andre, it will be remembered,
was hanged by order of Washington. His bust was
placed in Westminster Abbey ; three times since then
has it been mutilated by miscreants. Walking through



the village we observed a mean-looking tumble -down
tenement, with an equally mean-looking signboard
stuck upon it, bearing this inscription : " John Scales,
Justice of the Peace, Notary Public." His " Honour"
was sitting inside, in his shirt-sleeves, with a white
apron on, while behind him on a shelf were a few old
dry-as-dust books, of the law I suppose. The whole
place looked totally at variance with our ideas of the
majesty of the law ; indeed it suggested that "justice"

(From a sketch by G. T.)

could be had for the buying, and that no one was
expected to pay much regard to the decision of such a
court. On returning to the hotel I spoke of this
functionary to the negro waiter, suggesting that he
dealt injustice, " Yes, sah ; I guess a dollar will go a
long way with him," replied he.

Ascending the mountain we came across an old
man at work on the roads. He was a German, having
come to America in 1841. He served in the Mexican
war, and one of his sons was killed in the war against


the Southern rebels. The old man said it was hard
work mending roads, and that the winters were very
severe, "but," said he, "it is a free country, and that
makes up for all. In Germany a man dares not open
his mouth, but here one can say what one likes."

Passing by a farmyard our curiosity was aroused by
seeing the stock of poultry secured by the leg to the
fence. As we had often heard in our travels in the
States that this was " a great country," we presume
this was an expedient adopted to prevent the fowls
straying and being lost. Of course, England being so
small, such precautions are not necessary.

We returned to New York in another of the
celebrated river-boats.

During my stay in the States there were two great
subjects which monopolised public attention. These
were the Centennial Exhibition which had just been
opened : and the wave of corruption among officials and
others which was sweeping over the land. More space
was occupied in the Press by charges of malversation
and fraud on the part of the officials, from the
President down to the lowest civil service clerks, and
from them through all grades of society, than with
the Exhibition itself or with any other subject, while
the talk in the streets seemed to be about nothing
else. In alluding to the unlawful gains made in
this way by many prominent citizens, a New York
paper made use of a sentiment of Mark Twain to
the effect that whereas in times past folks used to say
" poor but honest," now-a-days when you see a rich
man who has accumulated money in a proper way it is
said that he is " rich but honest."


I Lave travelled in many countries, but in almost
everything have found America twice as dear as any
other country. The charges are simply monstrous.
Having to go from an hotel to the steam wharf, we
were not permitted to take our very modest amount
of luggage in the omnibus with us, although we had
the vehicle all to ourselves ; but the hotel people
insisted upon sending it in a special wagon, charging
two dollars for what a cabman in Birmingham would
willingly have done for a shilling. On board the
steamer we were charged six shillings each for a plain
dinner, without wine, which in England would not have
cost more than Is. 6d. Bound books are equally dear.
Pocket volumes, containing not more than one-sixth
of the matter in a shilling volume of Chambers'
"Miscellany of Entertaining Tracts," were charged two
shillings each. Most of the newspapers, also, are very
inferior to, yet much dearer than, the English papers.
Another form of extortion is to be found in the impos-
sibility, in many hotels, of obtaining information as
to the sailing of river-boats, departure of trains, etc.,
the only apparent explanation being a desire to give
" touts " and " loungers," of whom there are many,
opportunities of extorting money. These fellows seem
to know nothing unless they can hear the dollars
chink, or see the dirty greenbacks (and some of
them are very dirty). A fellow once gave me in
change a dollar note which was so filthy that
scarcely a word was legible upon it. It looked as
though it might contain smallpox or typhoid, so I
asked him to wash it. He said he guessed he would
for a dollar.


Against all this, I am bound to say that the charges
made by the steamboat companies and most of the
railways are exceedingly moderate, and their arrange-
ments in connection with baggage most convenient.
On arriving at any of the large cities by river-boat, the
agent of the Luggage Express Company comes on board
and takes possession of your baggage, giving vouchers
for it. He also undertakes to collect any baggage you
may have sent to the City Railway Station from distant
parts of the country, and very soon after you arrive at
your hotel it is brought to you. At the landing stages
in such cities as New York there are numbers of cabs,
mostly driven by Irishmen, and when they find you
have disposed of your luggage and do not require their
services, they give vent to their disgust in no measured
terms, and if the traveller is a Britisher, he is soon
reminded of the fact.

The mode of dealing with baggage on the railway

is almost equally convenient. The following will give

some idea of it. You are travelling, say, from Aberdeen

to Penzance, intending ultimately to proceed by way of

London to Dover, and do not require the bulk of your

luggage till you arrive at the latter place. On leaving

Aberdeen, the Baggage Master takes your superfluous

luggage, putting brass labels upon it, thus



giving you corresponding labels, after which you have no
further occasion to trouble yourself in the matter until
you get to Dover.

We visited the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia
for the purpose of inspecting the various productions


corresponding to our own, hoping, indeed expecting, to
find something which would repay us for coming. We
were, indeed, repaid, but in a sense totally opposed to
what we expected, for we found that so far from
Americans being in advance of the English, they
were, in many cases, taking credit for so-called
" improvements " (claiming them as novelties), which
we had been familiar with, and had used in our own
works many years before. They appear to be strangely
unaware of what has been done in European countries,
and a single instance will illustrate this. The machinery
in the Exhibition was driven by a single large steam-
engine. The newspapers made a great deal of this
engine, declaring that it was the largest in the world,
and that it had been made in the smallest State
Ehode Island. An American engineer with evident
pride took us to see the big engine, which, after all, had
a cylinder of only 70in. diameter. We told him that
five-and-twenty years before a small engineering firm in
Cornwall, England, had made several engines with
cylinders 144in. in diameter, and which are yet at

We were permitted to inspect some of the most
important engineering establishments, and found the
tools of such an inferior character that our only wonder
was that they could produce either good or cheap work.
In most cases the floors of the workshops were inches
deep in ferruginous dust. Under such conditions every
time a heavy casting is dropped on the floor a cloud
of dust must rise, and entering the bearings of the
tools, cut them up badly. We found many of the tools
actually wedged up because of this.


An American manufacturer speaking to me of a
visit he had paid to the Exhibition in company with his
foreman, told me how astonished the latter was at the
excellence of the European exhibits. He said he had
no idea they could make the things half so well, " for,"
he said, " they are almost as good as oars," and, I
added, " only one half the cost."

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryRichard TangyeReminiscences of travel in Australia, America, and Egypt → online text (page 10 of 18)