[From H Stowell Brown, Notes of my Life, 1888]



IN 1873 I realized one of the great desires of my life, and paid a visit to America. I was just twelve weeks from home. Three of these weeks were spent in going and returning; nine in travelling about the United States and the Dominion of Canada, the journeys on the continent amounting in all to about nine thousand miles, and extending from Montreal in the North to Richmond in the South; and from Boston in the East to the Salt Lake City in the West. I made a great mistake in not contriving to have about twice as much time at my disposal, and then perhaps I should have gone right across to San Francisco and down to New Orleans.

To those who are not troubled with sea-sickness, a voyage across the Atlantic is very refreshing and enjoyable; and indeed some of those whom sea-sickness makes very miserable for two or three days pick up wonderfully; and although they begin with fasting, before they are half-way to New York they freely and fully partake of every meat that is set upon the saloon table. But he who knows nothing of sea-sickness can enjoy the voyage from the beginning to the end. It is too short to prove monotonous and wearisome, and the interest is enhanced if there be for a day or two somewhere about half a gale of wind. The behaviour of a great steam-ship under such conditions is well worthy of observation, and of admiration too. We had weather of that sort, especially on the Sunday, our fourth day out; and I must admit that, although I looked with wonder and pleasure at the great rolling waves, upon which the ship, though of four thousand tons burden, was tossed like a cork; still, when on that Sunday forenoon I had to conduct a service in the cabin, it was not pleasant to be rolling to and fro, and staggering like a drunken man; to be tumbling in one direction myself, and see the Bible slide away in another, until with the tablecloth it fell on the floor. We had storm and we had calm and we had thick fog, weather of various sorts, but on the whole not bad, until on the next Sunday morning, the hottest day I had ever seen—it was on the 25th August—we anchored in the harbour of New York as the bells were ringing for worship.

My American friends, supposing, but by no means certain, that the vessel would arrive that day, had announced me to preach in one place in the afternoon, and in another, four miles off, in the evening, and I had to do it. It was warm work to enter upon within an hour of landing. The churches were insufferably hot; all present, men as well as women, used fans all through the service. The contest for the Presidency was then running very strongly, and among other ways of popularizing Horace Greeley, one of the candidates, a fan had been brought out, which presented in life-size and in full colours the portrait of that gentleman. A thousand portraits of Horace Greeley were waving up and down, for my hearers all seemed to be enthusiastic in his support. A gentleman came up to the pulpit and presented me with a Horace Greeley fan, which I was glad to use in the intervals of singing, that I might get a little air to breathe. As I am now speaking of churches, I may as well say here what I have to say about them.

Well, in their churches the people of the United States certainly do give a magnificent testimony to the power of voluntaryism. The buildings are massive, costly, and beautiful. I do not say they have anything to be compared with the old cathedrals, and the fine old parish churches of England; but taking period for period, say the last hundred years or so, and I don’t think that England has built any ecclesiastical structures superior to those which, since the century begun, have been erected in the United States. £20,000 is not at all an unusual price to pay for the building of a church, and many have cost double and treble that amount. The best of them, indeed most of them, are finished in a style that quite took me aback. The floors are richly carpeted; the pews are not only comfortable, but have their backs polished and stylishly painted, like the most elegant sofa I ever saw; and this arrangement, together with the angle at which the back is set to the seat, enables one to recline in a position much more probable to send one to sleep, than to make one an attentive worshipper and hearer. So they sat, or rather lolled, fanning themselves with their fans as long as they could resist the combination of drowsing influences provided by the hot weather and my sermon. For the luxuries of beautiful churches and elegant sittings they hare to pay. Pew-rents in England are a trifle compared with those charged in American cities. I asked a friend, "And pray now, how much is given for that pew ?" " Well," he said, "it is intended for six, but only five can sit in it, and Mr. So and So pays two hundred dollars a year for it; that is, about £40, or £8 a sitting." I noticed in many churches, indeed in most, a practice that I did not like. The singing was done by a paid choir, of five or six persons, standing in the organ gallery ; and the congregation listened ; hut not a voice joined in psalm, or hymn, or spiritual song. The singers are paid handsomely, the choir sometimes receiving far more than the minister. But the minister is not paid badly I should think that the average stipend is considerably higher than in our country. And it had need be so, considering the expense of many things in America. A friend of mine, having lost his greatcoat, had to pay £14 for another, which in England would not have cost £5. An old acquaintance of mine, a minister in New York, lives, or lived then, in a house which cost him £700 a year, and certainly one no better either in itself or in its position than you could get in London for £150. The ministers are paid well, and I don’t think they are overworked. They generally read their sermons, their congregations considering it only respectful towards them that the minister should show that he has made some sort of preparation before venturing to address them. I did not observe that pastoral visitation was much cared for. I know that an absence of six months, with the means to travel in Europe, and go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, is very common; and I say that American ministers generally have a very easy time of it compared with ministers in the old country. In America almost every minister bears the title of Dr.; almost all the people I met with took it for granted that I was a Doctor, until I told them I could lay no claim to such a distinction. I once met a large number of Baptist ministers—I think it was in Boston ; there were some thirty or forty of them, and I believe that they were all Doctors. They would have me speak, and I told them that in England our denomination was by no means so famous; that we had in our country only about twenty Doctors ; that where they obtained their titles I did not know, and on what ground no one knew. This remark was received with some demonstration of anger, and from that day forward I have had no hope of ever receiving an American degree. It is very evident to me that one of the weak points of voluntaryism in our own country is the fact—for fact it really is—that the voluntary system makes very little provision for the poorer districts of our large towns. It builds handsome and expensive chapels for the upper and middle classes, but leaves the poor and ignorant to go to the dogs and to the devil. Well, this defect is rife in the large American towns—I beg their pardons, cities—for in America every place is a city. I saw one among the Rocky Mountains; it consisted of a railway-station, a small shop, a post-office, and a public-house, and as the train drew up to the platform the porter sang out, "Echo City." Well, in the large American cities there is, as far as I could judge, a sad neglect of the poorer people in respect to religious ordinances. For with such pew-rents it is impossible for working people to attend, and a working man sins less in keeping away than in going, if he spends in pew-rents what he needs for the support of his family. I am myself a voluntary, but I feel bound to say that in America, where there is no State Church, where all is left to voluntaryism, the tone of religious life and the character of religious ordinances are no higher than in our own country.

New York is a vast city. I believe its population was about two millions—three times as great as that of Glasgow. It stands upon an island, Manhattan Island, which is separated from the mainland by such a narrow armlet of the Hudson, that it may be regarded as a peninsula, stretching from north to south, with the Hudson river to the West, and Long Island Sound to the East; the waters east and west meeting at the southern extremity, and separating New York from its great and flourishing neighbour Brooklyn. The city is for the most part laid out in squares like a chess-board; the thoroughfares running north and south are called avenues; those crossing them from east to west are called streets, and streets and avenues alike are perfectly straight. This arrangement, though formal and far from picturesque, is very convenient, for the streets and avenues being numbered, any child able to read the name and number at the corners can find his way to any place. Tell a boy to take a message to No. 55, 66th Street, 5th Avenue, and he is at no loss; he can find the place as easily as he can find seven times nine on the multiplication-table. And the numbers of streets and avenues being painted on the lamps at the corners, a perfect stranger can make his way at midnight as easily as at noon, without asking a policeman, who will confound him with "fourth turning to the right, seventh to the left, and then fifth to the right." This arrangement is common to American cities. Some streets and avenues are named, but most of them are numbered, and you always know where you are, and can always find the place you want. I need not say that New York is a busy place. Its great thoroughfare, Broadway, extending for several miles, is the most wonderful scene of street traffic I have ever beheld ; but when I was there it was the most abominably ill-paved street I had ever been jostled upon. To give you an idea of what cabs cost, I may say that I had to pay five dollars, i.e. one pound sterling, for a cab that conveyed me about four miles. However, there are trams, omnibuses, and other conveyances in which town locomotion is as cheap as in this country.

From New York I went to Albany, the capital of the State of New York. The sail up the Hudson is very interesting; the scenery in parts is worthy of comparison with some of the best parts of the Rhine; but of course you have neither the vineyards on the banks, nor the ruined castles or the crags. The river and lake steamers are wonderful structures; lofty, large, and powerful, and well provided with everything needful for a traveller’s comfort. We have nothing like them here, but we have no such rivers or lakes to call for such vessels. From Albany, where I found little worth looking at, I went to Saratoga, the praised watering-place, but a more disappointing place I never saw. Wretched roads, covered with six inches of dust, two or three huge hotels, the only things about them at all notable being their size and their ugliness; no country round about in the least interesting. Saratoga is nowhere compared with our Leamington, or Cheltenham, or Harrogate, but it is the resort of thousands upon thousands, who spend incredible sums of money in trying to get some enjoyment out of the wretched place. I left it with contempt, and went on to Montreal, crossing the wide St. Lawrence by the great tubular bridge.

Montreal is built at the foot and on the slope of a hill of moderate height, from which the city takes its name. Unlike most of the American cities which I visited, Montreal has the advantage of being situated on rising ground, and backed by the well-wooded crest of a hill. It is a very noble place. The view from the top of the hill is magnificent, as you looked down upon streets and avenues, towers and spires, and huge ware houses, and splendid hotels, beyond which are the shipping and the grand river and the bridge, with the long line of the opposite shore, and ranges of mountains far away to the north. Montreal was originally a French settlement, when the French held a line of forts and factories from New Orleans up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and thence westward to the great lakes, and eastward up the St. Lawrence to Quebec. It was a French city, it is still so to a great extent. French is so largely spoken, that, as a friend informed me, a young man can scarcely obtain employment in a store or a counting-house unless he can speak and write in that language. As a result of the French origin of the place, the Roman Catholic religion largely prevails, and there are some magnificent churches and convents. When I was there, devotion to their faith had led the Roman Catholics of Montreal to commence the building of a church after the model of St. Peter’s at Rome, though on a much smaller scale. And I may here state, that when I was in New York, the Roman Catholics were building a church which, as I could plainly see, would throw every other edifice in the city completely into the shade. And so though neither the political or the educational institutions of America seem to have much effect in making the cause of Protestantism triumphant, I will say this, in American cities where Protestantism or Catholicism was the leading religion, the Sunday appeared to me to be very well observed ; better, I thought, than in most English towns; excepting, by the way, at St. Louis, where the masons and other craftsmen were working on the Sunday morning, and whither I had in the evening to make my way to church through crowds of people who were waiting for the opening of the theatres.

From Montreal I went to Ottowa, proceeding most of the journey by steamer on the Ottowa River. We had on board some forty or fifty backwoodsmen who had been spending their summer at Montreal, and were going back to spend the winter in the forest, felling timber and preparing for the next season’s trade. It was not a teetotal steamer; there was a bar at which any sort of drink could be had. These men, however, all came on board perfectly sober, and drank nothing stronger than tea all day and far into the night; and they knew perfectly well that when they went on shore, for six months in the forest, they would not have the chance of obtaining, for love or money, one drop of intoxicating drink. I felt sure that under such circumstances, and with such a prospect before them, Englishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen would have had a great ‘booze,’ until some of them would have been very drunk. I thought it greatly to the credit of these Canadian backwoodsmen that they could without intoxicating stimulants face the long, cold, bitter winter in the forest, and even resist the temptation to indulge in a good farewell of the bottle before going to their privations and toils. Perhaps you will ask, was this an exceptional case? My answer is that it was not. In many parts of Canada and the United States I saw a good deal of working men, and from first to last I did not see one in a state of intoxication. In two instances I found myself travelling in the company of drunken men, one on each occasion; but of these men one was a public-house keeper, and one was a farmer. From landing in America until leaving I never saw any other drunken people than these two, until I was going on board the steamer to return, when I heard the mate roaring out from the bridge, "Put that man in irons;" and I looked and saw one of the stokers, an Irishman, drunk, and making a row. I think that America beats us in the matter of sobriety. Most of the respectable people one meets with appear to be abstainers. I spent many hours one very sultry evening in the large billiard-room of the Southern Hotel in St. Louis. There were, I think, six tables, and men were playing all the evening. There was a bar in the room ; the men drank iced tea and other non-intoxicating drinks, but seemed to take nothing else, and at any rate were all perfectly sober until the bar was shut and the room cleared. As I found it at St. Louis, I found it everywhere else. In any large hotel you might see two or three hundred people at dinner; but look along the table, and probably you would not find that any one was drinking wine, beer, or spirits. It was rarely that anything of that sort was seen by me at any hotel dinner-table. I have seen more drinking in five minutes in Carlisle Station than in five days at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York. This, however, should he said—that men dining at the table d’hote, and wishing for any intoxicant, can go, and do go, to the bar down-stairs; but then, so far as I could observe, a man ordered his drink—a cocktail, a gin-sling, an eye-opener, or a glass of lager beer—drank it in a moment, and was off about his business. Neither in dining-room, in bar-room, or anywhere else, did I see a man sitting down and drinking as men sit and drink in this country. And further, whatever may be said of the connection between smoking and drinking, there, almost everybody smoked, and hardly anybody drank. In the houses of friends I very seldom saw any kind of alcoholic beverage. Whether it was dinner or supper, whether it was a party of three or a party of twenty, there was nothing but coffee, soda-and-seltzer, always with a plentiful supply of ice. I am sorry to say, however, that I observed very remarkable cases of hypocrisy in regard to this matter. I met with Americans whom I had met in this country, and who when here partook without scruple of beer, wine, brandy, keeping well within bounds, but still not objecting for conscience’ sake, or any other sake, to anything that English non-teetotal hospitality offered them. In their own country, these men were not only rigid in the practice, but warm in the advocacy of total abstinence. Nor will it do to say that between their being here and my being there they were converted; because I have seen some of them in England since that time, and seen them relishing their sherry or their toddy with evident delight. They say that in this climate they require it; and when you go to their country they tell you that nobody there requires it, and so they don’t offer it to you.

A gentleman, a minister, with whom I stayed several days, and in whose house the very mention of intoxicating drinks would have been regarded as something almost profane, accepted the invitation of another friend of mine to join us at luncheon with him. This was in New York. Well, he went along with me, and I found that he made not the slightest objection to the intoxicants that were placed on the table. A rigid abstainer at home, and among his own congregation, but among strangers at perfect liberty to do as he pleased. I knew another minister, a great abstinence man in America. Some teetotal friends of mine met him somewhere in France or in Germany, and were surprised to see that at the table d’hote he enjoyed the champagne immensely, and felt that for his stomach’s sake it was well to take a glass of cognac after the fish. He was taken to task by my friends, who knew him well; and as usual his excuse was the climate. At St. Louis, a gentleman drove me out to a fine vineyard in the neighbourhood, where the Germans make excellent Catawba and other wines. He joined in partaking of the vinous hospitality of the vineyard men, pronounced a glass of one wine, good; of another, better; of a third, best. I dined with him the next day. There was nothing to drink but the water of the Mississippi River, which in a glass has the appearance of diluted mud, but which he praised as the most wholesome water in the world. I don’t understand such things. Middle and upper class public opinion in America seems to have condemned all drinking customs, and men dare not drink for fear of offending their neighbours ; and the consequence is a large amount of twofacedness, that I must say provoked my contempt in no small degree.

But to resume my narrative. I went to Ottowa, which had recently been made the capital of the dominions. I found nothing worth seeing there excepting the fine waterfall, and the large saw mills, which prepare the timber for being floated down the river. The rafts you meet on the river are very large; I saw some that were perhaps 400 feet long and fifty or sixty broad. Comfortable huts are built upon them for the accommodation of the people who have them in charge, and cooking and washing and other operations are carried on just as on shore, while the raft slowly floats down the stream. Leaving Ottowa, I went by rail to a point on the St. Lawrence, where I embarked on board a steamer for Toronto. We passed through the charming scenery of the Lake of One Thousand Islands, into which the river expands itself shortly after leaving the Lake of Ontario. It was evening when we entered the Ontario; and we steamed on until noon the next day, when we arrived at Toronto, which is situated at the western end of the lake. I could spare no time for Toronto, though it is a fine and flourishing place. I hurried on, and in the evening reached Niagara. So many pictures have been painted, so many descriptions have been written of the famous rapids and cataracts, the Falls of Niagara, that I need not say much about them. Many people, I am told, are disappointed when they see them. I will say that I was not; the whole scene more than fulfilled my expectations. I think it is worth a man’s while to cross the Atlantic, if for no other purpose than that of seeing and hearing Niagara. And if you go thither, mind you go as far as you can behind the Great Horseshoe Fall, and standing there with the huge masses of water roaring over your head and falling before you into the abyss, you will receive such impressions as you are not likely ever to forget. At Niagara you unfortunately meet a class of people who happily are rare in America. I mean the people who loaf about the great places and want to show you this, or to sell you that, and bother you in a most pertinacious manner. It was only at Niagara Falls that I saw such objectionable folk, and I must admit that they were neither so numerous or so troublesome as I have found them in many places at home. At Niagara Falls, too, I met with the only beggar who crossed my path in all my American travels, and he was an old Indian. I saw no beggars elsewhere, not one. How it must astonish an American who, coming to Europe, begins with Ireland and lands at Queenstown! Before he gets to Dublin, before he gets to Cork, before he gets to Queenstown Railway Station, he is probably accosted by more beggars than in his own country he might see in fifty years, and in travelling fifty thousand miles. No; America is not a country of beggars. The blown-up collier, the starved-out farm-labourer, the maimed and mutilated soldier, the blind man sitting at the street side reading the Bible by the help of his fingers, the tramp who has walked thirty miles without tasting a morsel of food, the man or woman singing from street to street accompanied by three or four starving and half-clothed children—no such sights are anywhere to be seen ; at any rate I never saw them.

From Niagara I went on to Chicago. That fine western city had not long before sustained the great calamity which reduced the greater and finer part of it to ashes. However, it has been rapidly rebuilt. It has since suffered from another great fire, but has a second time recovered. When I was there, carpenters and builders were getting 16s. a day; but mind you, it was at Chicago that my friend had to pay £14 for a greatcoat, and a man would want 16s. a day if clothing be at that price. But on the whole it did not seem to me that the United States offer great advantages to the working man. Everywhere, everybody seemed well to do. As to dress, it is astonishing; and jewellery, they blaze with it. I saw negro coopers making up barrels of pork on the quay at St. Louis, and most of them wore on their black fingers several massive rings that appeared to be gold, and I dare say were gold. Usually the conductor of an American railway-train is got up regardless of expense. Rings set with diamonds and rubies, sleeve-links as large as crown-pieces, shirt-studs glittering with pearls, and a watch-chain that might be seen at a distance of three hundred yards. It is a rare thing to see any one without some such jewellery. A river passes through Chicago and falls into Lake Michigan. The citizens have not covered it with bridges, for bridges would impede the traffic; so they have made subways, so many little Thames Tunnels, by which you pass from one side of the river to the other. One great industry of Chicago is pig-killing. It is done on an immense scale. I am told that the pig goes alive into the machine, and in a few minutes comes out in joints of pork and strings of sausages, and this goes on at one place day and night. I did not see the process. It was not exactly to my taste.

From Chicago I proceeded by the Union Pacific Railroad on a journey of more than one thousand miles to Utah, the country of the Mormons. On this journey you proceed through what appears to be a flat country; but you gradually and imperceptibly rise until you are over 8000 feet above the sea-level, where at Sherman you are at the highest railway-station in the world. So far the country, though for the most part untilled, is fertile, and affords ample pasturage for vast herds of cattle. Beyond Sherman you enter a sterile region, almost desert for some hundred miles. You are amidst the Rocky Mountains, though at a considerable distance from the higher peaks, splendid views of which are seen to the right and to the left. The scenery improves as you enter the Utah territory, and at Salt Lake City you find yourself in a broad and most productive valley, with the Great Salt Lake in the centre, and huge mountain ranges on either side. Salt Lake City is the capital of Mormondom. It is a square of three miles on each side, containing therefore nine square miles. Large as it is, the population, when I was there, was only about 20,000 ; but the streets are wide, the houses generally low, and every house stood in its own plot of garden and orchard. Streams of water ran down every street, and can be turned into the gardens and orchards to irrigate them, and from the neighbouring hills the whole place seems to be embosomed in trees. I think that almost every street is planted with a row of trees on each side. I spent a Sunday in Salt Lake City, and of course went to the Tabernacle. It is a huge structure, built chiefly of wood, and roofed with shingles ; its length is two hundred and fifty feet, its breadth one hundred and fifty, and it can accommodate 10,000 people. It was, however, poorly attended on that Sunday; I don’t think more than a thousand were present. The service was about the dullest I ever attended; there was some spiciness about the sermon, which was, how ever, neither law nor Gospel, but a virulent attack upon the United States Government for desiring to annex the land which the Lord had given to the saints. But nothing seemed capable of winning the attention of the congregation. They all seemed very much bored, and looked round listlessly, and yawned and spat, and were glad when all was over.

In the afternoon they had a sacrament in which water took the place of wine. Brigham Young was present with several of his wives, sitting on the large platform on which stood the rostrum; but the great prophet took no part in the service. Under the protection of the United States Government, other denominations are enabled to worship in Utah. There was a small congregation there of my own persuasion, and I preached to them on the Sunday evening. At the close of the service a man, whom I should say did not belong to the congregation, came up to me and shook me by the hand, and asked me whether I remembered him. He said his name was Richards, that he had often heard me preach in Liverpool, and he hoped to good purpose. Then he introduced me to a lady, "The first Mrs. Richards, sir ; " then another, "This, sir, is the second Mrs. Richards;" then another, "1 have the pleasure of introducing the third Mrs Richards." The fellow had often heard me, he hoped, with good effect! What most humiliated me in that capital of polygamy was the fact that almost all the Mormons I met with were English people, with nothing of the Yankee about them. Instead of the twang of Boston or New York, I heard and could pick out the provincial tongues of Hereford, Somerset, and Northampton. The man who gave out the hymns in the Tabernacle might have landed the previous week straight from Berkshire or Oxfordshire. I found a great many Welsh people too; my disciple, Mr. Richards, was a Welshman. Of Scotch and Irish I met with none. Neither men nor women seemed very happy; indeed I never saw a more dejected set of people. I was glad to get away from the disgusting place; and as I left I met a train of immigrants, four hundred girls, most of them English; who, in their simplicity and ignorance, had been made proselytes, and taken out to become second and third Mrs. Richards. One thing I must not omit to say for the Mormons - they are, I believe, nearly all of them staunch teetotalers; and the Mormon hotels appeared to be temperance houses.

I returned eastward to Denver, the chief city of Colorado, finely situated within some thirty miles of one f the great ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Denver was a small place then ; it is greatly improved since. My hotel was one of the poorest I had been in. Well, he newspaper people publish the flames of all the visitors to the Hotels. The house I stayed in was kept by a Mr. Smith, and I saw it announced in the paper in true high falutin style, that the Rev. H. S. Brown of Liverpool was "luxuriating at Smith’s." At Denver I saw many miners coming from and going to the mines in the neighbouring mountains, and many cattle-dealers and drovers from Texas and other places going north and east; rough fellows, the most awfully profane swearers I ever heard; every one, or almost every one, armed with a revolver and a bowie-knife, and some of them evidently much inclined to pick a quarrel with any one, so that I found discreet silence to be the better part of valour.

From Denver I went to St. Louis, a great city on the Mississippi, which is there, though one thousand miles from its mouth, a deep river broader than the Thames at London Bridge, and crowded with huge steamers, by means of which the great traffic of the river is carried on. I have nothing in particular to say about St. Louis. The inhabitants are very proud of it, and believe it is destined to become the greatest city in all the world.

Let me pass on. You have heard of the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Well, I went thither. It certainly is a marvellous place; candle in hand, I walked under ground for more than five hours, and that was only what they call a short route ; there is another, the full investigation of which would occupy as many days. You go from narrow passages into vast caverns, hundreds of feet in length and breadth, and very lofty. Here you have to descend a ladder, and go down into a dismal abyss; there you have to crawl upon your hands and knees; at one point, which is very narrow, and which is called "fat man’s agony," I feared I should not get through at all. There are wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, and where, as in our case, the party is numerous, and the lights proportionally so, the effects produced by certain arrangements of lamps and candles Are very striking and extraordinary.

As I have said, Richmond, the capital of Virginia, was the southernmost point of my journey. I need not detain you with any remarks upon Richmond. My visit to it occurred a few years after the war in which Virginia took a leading part as one of the Southern States, and Richmond had been besieged, battered, impoverished. When I was there every one seemed depressed and crushed ; they had lost nearly everything in that terrible contest. There is a granite pyramid in the cemetery at Richmond, bearing this short but awful inscription "To the memory of 25,000 Confederate dead." At Richmond I went to one of the coloured churches; all negroes, and such as had some African blood in their veins, however little. It was a scene of great excitement. The singing was peculiar; but I dare say you heard the Jubilee Singers who came over from America some time ago. Well, the singing in the coloured churches is something like that; one man sings or intones a verse, and the whole congregation join in the chorus. They were very jubilant over their recently-obtained freedom, and sang with extreme delight a ditty which celebrated the drowning of "Ole Pharoah in de Red Sea." I talked with a great many negroes who had been slaves, and I never met with one who had been treated cruelly. They all spoke very gratefully of their former masters and owners. The gentleman with whom I stayed had owned many slaves, and when the emancipation came, they all entreated to be kept on the estates. I saw no ill-treatment of the negroes in the South, where they had been slaves. I saw a good deal of it in the North, which professed such zeal for the abolition of slavery. A poor negro, I was informed, had little chance of obtaining work in New York, where the Irish labourers would be ready to murder him. More than once I saw the conductor of a tramcar in New York refuse with horrid oaths and execrations to allow a negro to ride in his conveyance, although it was not half-full, and a New York minister told me that no negro was suffered to sit in his church, excepting in a dark and stuffy corner of an upper gallery.

Washington was my next place. It is a city well laid out, with long lines of road which may some time become streets, but the place gets on rather slowly. Still the Capitol is a very noble structure, and from the top of the dome a really splendid prospect is to be seen. The Mint, the Patent Office, the Smithson Institute and Museum, are all worthy of a visit. The official mansion of the President is called ‘The White House;’ it is a plain but capacious building, always open to visitors. There you see no sentinels pacing up and down; there is no need to guard the President of the United States. Without pomp or ceremony of any kind, the chief of more than fifty millions goes in and out, like any other citizen, and a visitor calling and sending in his card can obtain an audience and have a chat with greater ease and freedom than if he wished to see an English country squire. At the hotel in Washington I received what seemed to me a very singular caution ; it was to the effect that I should give great offence if on visiting any of the show-places I offered money to the attendants; they would consider themselves insulted if treated in that manner. And that I found to be true everywhere in America; for with few instances, as at the Mammoth Cave, there was a fixed charge, but in not a single instance was I expected to give a farthing to any one for showing me about. You can see nothing in England, nothing on the Continent, without having to encounter some expectant wretch, who, whatever you give him, is not satisfied. There is a certain ducal mansion in England in which I had to tip, first the woman who kept the lodge and opened the gate; then the flunkey who opened the door; then the fellow in gorgeous array who showed me the Dining-Hall; then a haughty old dame who led me through the Drawing-Room; then as I wished to see the gardens the gardener expected his honorarium; I asked to see the Conservatory, and that gardener handed me over to another, who must also be paid—and it cost me the greater part of a sovereign before I got away. All honour to the Americans for repudiating such mean and sordid ways. The fact that what they have to show you gratifies you, is all the reward they seem to care for.

My visit extended to Philadelphia, which I took in on my way from Washington to New York. Then I went eastward to Boston, spending a day at Plymouth, and seeing the rock on which the Pilgrim Fathers landed, and the hill on which they planted their six guns, "that their prayers against the savages might be the more effectual withal." Boston thinks no small beer of itself. It believes itself to be the hub of the Universe, and the intellectual capital of the world. I did not consider it a great mark of intellectual eminence when I saw that a whole column of newspaper advertisements announced meetings of spiritualists, and told the terms upon which mediums would put you into communication with your great-great-grandfather. There seems to be more of this imposture in Boston than anywhere else. However, Boston is a very noble city, containing much of interest to the traveller, though if he be an Englishman he must put his pride into his pocket as he sees the monument which commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill. For my part I climbed to the top of it, nearly three hundred steps, and was rewarded with a most magnificent view of the city, the country, and the harbour, with the ‘wide Atlantic afar off. Taking a short journey to see a friend in the State of Connecticut, I saw what was very striking-the country for many miles returning to its old condition of a wilderness, the brushwood growing up thick and high upon what some years before had been well cultivated farms. The houses have either gone to decay, or have fallen down; nothing was left but the roads, which were very bad. The fact is, that the Eastern States, which were first settled, are far inferior to the middle and western parts of the country, where the soil is so fertile, and consequently there has been a large emigration from the east to the west, where in many instances the fields are miles in length, and a man cannot plough more than one furrow in a day’s work.

Well, I could say much more upon what I saw and heard and learned and thought upon my journey, but lest I should weary you I must draw to a close. I think that every man who can pay a visit to America ought to do so by all means; he will find it a source of much interest and instruction. The Britisher visiting America needs to speak only his native tongue, and meets with none of the difficulties and embarrassments, so ludicrous, but sometimes so serious, that he who knows nothing of French, German, or Italian, has to encounter on the Continent of Europe. I think, too, that I can promise him who contemplates a journey to the United States, that everywhere he will find a cleanliness that is not excelled anywhere in England—and that is a comfort with which you must generally dispense in European travel, and in visiting some parts of the British Islands too. Whether a man is a prince, or a manufacturer, or a minister of religion; whether he takes an interest in politics, or in education, or in commerce, he will find much in America to occupy and reward his attention. It is a country full of life, intelligence, enterprise—a country in which there is ample scope for every man who is able and willing to work. And it is a country of which we have reason to be proud; for in the main it is, with all its greatness, wealth, and power, what our own people going and settling there have made it. Undoubtedly a great and glorious future awaits it ; its soil, its climate, its mineral treasures, its capacious harbours, its great lakes which are inland seas, its rivers, navigable for thousands of miles, its civil and religious liberty, its freedom from the hundred complications of European politics, its ability to live in peace and safety without the costly burden of armaments such as those of France, Germany and Russia ; all things seemn to point a future of greatness that never has been equalled in the history of the world.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999