W. Fraser (William Fraser) Rae.

Westward by rail : a journey to San Francisco and back and a visit to the Mormons online

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thing ludicrous as well as sad in the interference ex-
ercised with regard to the concerns of the individual.
This was, however, nothing more than the necessary
product of their education, combined with the fruit
of their theories. To stigmatise the Puritans of
New England as petty despots is not to blame them
with exceptional severity ; but to make the charge
and overlook or disregard the explanation is to
become their accomplices. They could not shake
off the influence of old traditions or emancipate


themselves from the yoke of evil example in a day
or a year. They had lived in England, where the
ways of the Tudor and Stuart autocrats had become
examples which it was deemed right to copy, so
long as the end in view was reconcilable with Scrip-
ture. Their fathers had taught them to obey
decrees which prohibited certain persons from wear-
ing apparel of specified colours and patterns, and
eating food of a particular kind. They knew that
even the High Court of Parliament had not re-
spected the sanctity of the coffin, but had enjoined,
under a heavy penalty, that the dead should be laid
in their last home wrapped in a woollen shroud.
When these men had the power, they abused it after
the fashion of those whom they had been trained to
respect. Under the pretext that certain acts were
snares of the Devil and abominations to the Lord,
they put in force a hateful system of interference
with personal freedom. The Pilgrim Fathers were
undoubtedly sincere, but they had the misfortune to
be mistaken men. In due time their blunders were
perceived and atoned for. The claims of the indi-
vidual conscience were recognized as being subject
to no other appeal than to the individual him-
self. The affairs of what was really a straight-
laced theology, but was supposed to be religion,
were eventually severed from the affairs of State.


Yet with this separation the ardour for promul-
gating and enforcing what was considered the truth
did not wax cold or die out. The Puritan spirit
survived the intolerant Puritan creed. The cause
for which the enlightened progeny of the original
settlers combated was happily in complete accord
with the precepts of world-honoured sages and the
conclusions of the greatest among philosophers.
In vindication of the immortal principles which
prescribe how absolute justice should be executed
between man and man, the citizens of Boston
were the chief instigators and the heroes of two
decisive and embittered conflicts, the first of which
established the independence of their country, the
second justified that independence by annihilating

There is much in the early history of the settlers
in New England that seems to us utterly contemp-
tible. The incessant wrangling about religious
dogmas and human duties, which constituted their
daily occupation during many years, appears to the
men of the nineteenth century quite as frivolous and
foolish as the controversies of the schoolmen. Yet
the talk was not all empty, nor were the discussions
all aimless. They necessarily implied and compelled
an acquaintance with subjects which education
could alone impart, and the controversies engen-


dered by the pulpit led to the foundation and main-
tenance of the school. The man who could not
read was a useless member of society. It was felt
that, in order to promote the objects which were
generally admitted to be laudable, the education of
the young was indispensable. Hence an impetus
was given to teaching which outlasted the special
reason whereon it was based. It became as much a
matter of course that the youth of Massachusetts
should cultivate their intellects as that they should
learn how to handle a gun or guide the plough.
The result is now beheld in the position which
mental attainments have enabled the citizens of
Boston to acquire despite the disproportion of
numbers and wealth. Their weight in the councils
of the Union is due to their indisputable superiority
in culture and learning.

Coming as I did from San Francisco, where
culture is the exception, to a city where it is the
rule, the transition was impressive and noteworthy.
On the Pacific coast I found that the men of wealth
cared for nothing but to heap up money, and would
not even aid in helping those who were labouring
to stock a library with the treasures of the mind.
Within sight of the Atlantic the reverse was the
fact. Merely to name the libraries in Boston would
fill much space, while to describe all that the


wisdom of the civic authorities and the munificence
of individuals have done towards promoting the
acquirement and increase of knowledge would re-
quire a volume. If then I would give any illus-
tration of my statement, I must confine myself to a
single case. Nor is it difficult to do this satisfac-
torily. Recent events have made the name of
Harvard a familiar one to English ears. An account
of what Harvard has been and now is may then be
welcome to English readers, while serving as an
example of the manner in which the citizens of
Massachusetts have honoured and advanced the
higher departments of learning.

Earl Bellamont, Governor of Massachusetts, said
in his message to the General Court in 1699, ' It
is a very great advantage you have above other
provinces, that your youth are not put to travel for
learning, but have the Muses at their doors.' This
was intended as a high compliment to Harvard Col-
lege, then the chief seminary of sound learning on
the North American Continent. That college was
neither young nor undistinguished at the time the
Governor wrote. It was then sixty-three years old,
and had been presided over by some of the most
distinguished among the many able men who were
engaged in founding on land reclaimed from the
wilderness, and haunted by savages and wild beasts,


a new and a mighty England. Sixteen years after
the Pilgrim Fathers disembarked at Plymouth
Rock, the Legislature of the colony of Massachu-
setts Bay resolved to establish a college. A sum
of money was set apart for the purpose. This reso-
lution was as remarkable as it was wise and high-
spirited. In one of the great speeches of the late
Mr. Everett, the occasion was justly eulogised as
the first f on which a people ever taxed themselves
to found a place of education.' The same renowned
orator further said that Harvard College 'was an
institution established by the people's means for the
people's benefit,' and he was able to make the
proud boast that at no period had Harvard ever
been 'indebted to the Crown for a dollar or a
book.' Yet Harvard owes a debt to England and
Englishmen which she has never ceased to acknow-
ledge with undissembled gratitude. The Rev. John
Harvard, an English clergyman, who emigrated to
America, took up his abode in the colony of Massa-
chusetts, and died in 1638, bequeathed his library
and the half of his fortune to the infant institution.
The example was speedily followed, and money
flowed in on all hands. Not long afterwards the
name of the locality was changed from Newtown
to Cambridge, in honour of the many Cambridge
graduates, who, like Mr. Harvard, had thrown in


their lot with the settlers. It has been estimated
that in 1638 there was one Cambridge graduate to
every 200 or 250 inhabitants of the New England
villages. Hardly less memorable than this is the
fact that the American offshoot from the grand old
University which has done so much for the cause
of English liberty, sent forth the earliest protest
made in America against pusillanimous submission
to the tyranny of the civil magistrate. Among the
records in which the alumni of Harvard still take
delight is one chronicling how, in 1743, Samuel
Adams, when taking his degree, maintained the
thesis, ( that it was lawful to resist the Chief Magis-
trate if the State cannot otherwise be preserved.'

It is not my design to write an elaborate his-
torical sketch of the career of f the University at
Cambridge,' as Harvard College is designated in
the constitution of the State of Massachusetts.
Such an account would contain many statements
not wholly creditable to those who, in bygone days,
were in authority here. Like other seats of learn-
ing Harvard has had its share of jealousies fomented
by rivalry and of dissensions having their root in
theological differences. These, however, have neither
checked the growth nor lessened the popularity of
the University itself. Besides, they are events of
days which have passed away, and possess little in-


terest for any one but the historian or the antiquary.
Nevertheless, before proceeding to speak of Har-
vard as she now is, a few extracts from official
documents illustrative of what she was in olden
times may prove useful and interesting. As in the
statutes of our English universities, so in those of
Harvard many of the provisions are admirable,
while others appear harsh to modern readers, and
ridiculous to modern students. For example, it is
ordained in s The Laws, Liberties, and Orders of
Harvard College,' dated 1642-6, that the students
' shall be slow to speak, and eschew not only oaths,
lies, and uncertain rumours, but likewise all idle,
foolish, bitter, scoffing, frothy, wanton words, and
offensive gestures;' that 'none shall pragmatically
intrude or intermeddle in other men's affairs ; ' and
that ' no scholar shall buy, sell, or exchange any-
thing, to the value of sixpence, without the allow-
ance of his parents, guardians, or tutors.' The last
proviso seems to have been framed with a view to
stifle that love for bargaining and bartering with
which New Englanders have long been credited.
The following is in still more direct opposition to
the practical spirit which is universally regarded
as the leading characteristic of Americans : ' The
scholars shall never use their mother tongue, except
that in public exercises of oratory, or such like,


they be called to make them in English.' In the
orders issued by the overseers in 1650 there is the
following prohibition against the use of tobacco :
* No scholar shall take tobacco unless permitted by
the president, with the consent of their parents or
guardians, and on good reason first given by a phy-
sician, and then in a sober and private manner.'
Quite as curious as these obsolete regulations are
the successive changes which Harvard's motto has
undergone. On the College Seal, made in 1642,
the simple, yet significant word ' Veritas ' was alone
engraved. Subsequently, this was exchanged for
the motto ' In Christo Gloriam,' and finally the
present one was adopted, which is ( Christo et
Ecclesias.' On the outside of one of the halls a
facsimile in stone of the original seal is to be seen.
The first four letters are inscribed on the inside of
two open volumes ; the last three are on the outside
of a third volume. This has been ingeniously ex-
plained as indicating f that no one human book con-
tains the whole truth on any subject, and that in
order to get at the real end of the matter we must
be careful to look on both sides.' While nearly
everything has undergone some change or a com-
plete transformation throughout New England, the
University at Cambridge is substantially the same
now in spirit and fact as it was two centuries ago.


Old buildings remain to show to the present genera-
tion what manner of edifices their forefathers erected
and occupied. In the proximity of halls over which
centuries have passed are modern edifices in the
style of a period which thinks quite as highly of
ornament as of utility, or rather which strives to
combine them both. Most striking among the
latter is the library. This is a substantial stone
building in the plain Gothic style. It contains
nearly 200,000 volumes in every department of
literature, the collection of scientific works being
very large, and the collection of pamphlets being
exceedingly valuable. Just as one Englishman
gave a stimulus to the good work of founding Har-
vard College, so have other Englishmen contributed
to increase the treasures of its library. The atten-
tion of the visitor from England is pointedly called
to the munificent benefaction of Mr. Hollis, of Lin-
coln's Inn, an Englishman who, in the last century,
enriched the library with his own splendid collection
of books. His name, along with those of other dis-
tinguished donors and notable men, may be seen in
conspicuous parts of the principal room. No hin-
drances are put in the way of non-students profiting
by this fine library. With a liberality which can-
not be too strongly commended or too widely imi-
tated, the University authorities have treated their


library as the common property of thirsters after
knowledge, and have rendered access to it very easy
to all respectable persons. Speaking generally, it
may be said with truth that the system in operation
at Harvard is the same as that prevailing in our
Universities at home. One of the differences is the
method of teaching, which resembles that in vogue
at Edinburgh and other University cities of Scot-
land. The students are more youthful than English
undergraduates, and the professors teach more than
they lecture. Another essential difference is the
custom of regarding all the students who have
entered during the same year as belonging to one
class. The class does not cease to exist when the
University course is at an end. An honorary secre-
tary is elected, whose duty consists in compiling a
catalogue of the several members, with a short bio-
graphy of each. Once a year every one who thinks
fit to do so forwards such particulars as he may
deem interesting to his classmates. These records
are preserved, and when the class dies out the
whole of the documents are deposited among the
University archives. Being printed for private cir-
culation only, the class lists are more minute in
their details than they might be were the informa-
tion communicated to the public. Judging from
those which I have been permitted to inspect, I



may affirm with perfect confidence that the public
does not always lose much which is really valuable
by being kept in ignorance of what the members of
each class think of themselves and of each other.
If many of the facts communicated are worthy of
record, others are so trivial as to merit oblivion.
Amateur theatricals combine with boating to give
the students scope for the display of their powers in
other fields than those of science and the arts.
How far proficiency on the stage contributes to a
student's success in after life is a problem as diffi-
cult to solve as that which relates to the value of
rowing as an element in University education. As
the result of investigation, it may be asserted that
the average number of reading men at Harvard is
the same as that at the Universities of Europe. All
the world over, a large proportion of young men
has a decided taste for that kind of work which can
with difficulty be distinguished from play.

A notice of Harvard would be as incomplete
without a reference to the Porcellian Club as a
notice of Oxford or Cambridge would be in which
the Union Debating Society held no place. This
and the Hasty Pudding Club, an association for
performing amateur theatricals, are the two lions of
Harvard. The Porcellian Club is hardly a place of
resort for those who cultivate the intellect at the


expense of the body. It is a very mundane and by
no means unpleasant institution. The list of active
members is small, owing in part to the largeness of
the annual subscription. The great desire of every
student is to become a member of it, or, in default,
to learn what its members really do and enjoy. As
the doings of the club are shrouded in secrecy, many
curious stories are current on the subject. All
that can be said by a stranger who has been privi-
leged to step behind the scenes is that the mysteries
are rites which can be practised without much
labour, and yield a pleasure which is fraught with
no unpleasant consequences. On the whole, the
alumni of Harvard have good reason to glory
in their ancient University. She has proved the
fruitful mother of great men and of patriotic citi-
zens. The roll of her teachers is studded with
famous names. To the energy and enthusiasm of
Jier teachers and graduates much of the vigour dis-
played in the heroic struggle for American inde-
pendence, and much of the foresight and wisdom
manifested by the framers of the American Consti-
tution, are unquestionably due. Nor did the second
great contest, when the issue between justice and
tyranny was again fought out in the war which
slaveholders began and in which slavery was ex-
tinguished, find the University at Cambridge an

A A 2


unconcerned spectator. There is something irre-
sistibly touching in the stories, told without osten-
tation but with justifiable pride, of the students who
went forth to serve as eager volunteers in the ranks
of the great National army. Of these many fell on
the battlefield, others perished in the camp, while
few lived to return home unscarred and sound in

In one respect, the Harvard College of to-day is
far in advance of what it was two centuries since.
For those who profess different creeds there is now
a latitude and kindly toleration such as the early
Puritan settlers neither practised nor understood.
In other" respects the transformation has been com-
plete. The unbending and gloomy Calvinism of
the first settlers has been repudiated by their de-
scendants. While all religious sects are repre-
sented here, the religion of the majority is that
liberal, tolerant, and rational creed which is pro-
fessed by Unitarians.

If Harvard University owes much to the English-
man who bequeathed to her the larger portion of
his substance a gift she has amply acknowledged,
to use the late Mr. Everett's words, by giving to
* an unknown stranger a deathless name ' she has
also done much to conquer the admiration of all who
speak and honour the English tongue. While the


alumni of Harvard demonstrate their daring and
prowess in friendly rivalry with their English
brethren, it is meet that the latter should visit the
oldest and most famous among the Universities of
America, for by so doing they would find much to
admire, something to learn, and many things in
which to glory.




THE PACIFIC E AIL WAY was primarily designed
to link the Atlantic and Pacific shores of the United
States. That passengers and produce should be
carried with the greatest possible speed between the
principal cities of California and Oregon and those
of the Middle and Eastern States is what everyone
who had at heart the development of the internal
resources and the commerce of the country felt
naturally bound to further. The railway is a means
towards the accomplishment of the desired result.
But it has also been regarded as an instrument for
the promotion of a still grander object. It is sup-
posed to be destined to revolutionize the commerce
of the world by affording increased facilities for
the reciprocal transference of goods and passengers
between China, Japan, Australia, and Europe. The
nearest way from Paris or London to Yokohama,
Shanghae, or Sidney is said to lie across the
Atlantic, the Continent of America and the Pacific


Ocean. An important element in any calculation
relating to the subject is the certainty of the journey
being completed within a specified time. This
matter is one still open to speculation. There is
no question that, if existing arrangements were
carried out to the letter, the value of the new route
would be demonstrated. For my own part I cannot
maintain that the traveller who puts his trust in
time-tables, whether these relate to steam-boats or
railway trains, exhibits a well-founded confidence.

When I journeyed from New York to San
Francisco the time occupied was nearly a day longer
than the allotted period. The same thing occurred
on the return journey. The traveller whose destina-
tion is not New York but London must take note of
another consideration. He probably has a decided
preference for one out of the many lines of steamers
which make the passage across the Atlantic. If
forced by circumstances to be economical, his chief
desire will be to travel at the cheapest rate, yet he
may not wish to forego comfort. If he be one of
the favoured few who need take no thought about
money, he will probably yearn to secure his per-
sonal safety. The outlay necessary to secure a
first-class passage ranges from thirteen guineas to
twenty-six pounds, according to the Company which
is patronized. Although a steamer is said to sail


daily from New York, yet there is generally the
interval of a week, and sometimes of a fortnight,
between the days of sailing of the vessels belonging
to a particular Company. When these facts are
duly considered it becomes clear that to journey
from San Francisco to London with entire satisfac-
tion in the space of eighteen days is a feat much
more easily performed on paper than in reality.

When New York is the place whence the traveller
begins his Atlantic voyage, the opportunities for
examining the steam-ships of the several shipping
lines prior to engaging a berth are greater than
those which can be enjoyed elsewhere. The vessels
which sail from Bremen and Hamburg, Brest and
London, Liverpool and Glasgow, all take up their
moorings at one of the wharves on the North River.
To those who are unbiassed by national prejudices,
and uninfluenced by pecuniary considerations or
personal prepossessions the variety of choice is almost
too great. First comes the Cunard line with its
high fares and high reputation. Second on the list
is the Inman line which is struggling to rival the
Cunard by making more rapid voyages, and which
charges lower fares. The Guion and the National
lines are of more recent date and rely for patronage
rather upon lowness of charge than upon rapidity
of passage. The steamers of these lines sail to


Liverpool, touching at Queenstown. Those of the
Anchor line touch at Londonderry, on the way to
Glasgow. The steamers of the Hamburg and New
York line touch at Plymouth and Brest when
voyaging between the cities of which the names
form its designation, while those of the North
German Lloyd touch at Southampton on the way
between New York and Bremen. The London
and New York line has a fortnightly service between
the Thames and the Hudson, while the Compagnie
Transatlantique conveys passengers between Brest
and New York. In this list the name of an
American steamship company does not appear, for
the conclusive reason that no such company exists.
The carrying trade as well as the passenger traffic
across the Atlantic is in English, German, or
French hands ; even the mails of the United States
being transported in foreign vessels. That this
should be the case is due not to deficiency in enter-
prise, but to the ascendency of a system which is
supposed to give protection to the native industry
and to the shipping interests of the American people.
At present the shipbuilders of the Clyde can supply
iron steamships at lower prices than the ship-
builders of any other part of the world. Nearly all
the companies named above have had their vessels
built on the banks of the Clyde. Even the French


shipowner has found it profitable to purchase
British-built iron steamers. But the American
shipowner cannot do this if he would. Conse-
quently, he is at a disadvantage when compared
with his foreign rivals. They are free to make
contracts which redound to their profit, while he is
so carefully protected against using his own dis-
cretion as to be helpless to perform that which he
deems the best for himself. The political freedom
enjoyed by the citizens of the United States has
made their country the envy of less favoured nations
and one of the wonders of the world. When the
enlightened policy of free exchange shall be substi-
tuted for the mediaeval policy of protection, not only
will the condition of the American people be vastly

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Online LibraryW. Fraser (William Fraser) RaeWestward by rail : a journey to San Francisco and back and a visit to the Mormons → online text (page 21 of 27)