by ANTHONY TROLLOPE
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont
The Connection of the Canadas with Great Britain
North and West
From Niagara to the Mississippi
The Upper Mississippi
Buffalo to New York
An Apology for the War
The Constitution of the State of New York
Cambridge and Lowell
The Rights of Women
From Boston to Washington
It has been the ambition of my literary life to write a book about the United States, and I had made up my mind to visit the country with this object before the intestine troubles of the United States government had commenced. I have not allowed the division among the States and the breaking out of civil war to interfere with my intention; but I should not purposely have chosen this period either for my book or for my visit. I say so much, in order that it may not be supposed that it is my special purpose to write an account of the struggle as far as it has yet been carried. My wish is to describe, as well as I can, the present social and political state of the country. This I should have attempted, with more personal satisfaction in the work, had there been no disruption between the North and South; but I have not allowed that disruption to deter me from an object which, if it were delayed, might probably never be carried out. I am therefore forced to take the subject in its present condition, and being so forced I must write of the war, of the causes which have led to it, and of its probable termination. But I wish it to be understood that it was not my selected task to do so, and is not now my primary object.
Thirty years ago my mother wrote a book about the Americans, to which I believe I may allude as a well-known and successful work without being guilty of any undue family conceit. That was essentially a woman's book. She saw with a woman's keen eye, and described with a woman's light but graphic pen, the social defects and absurdities which our near relatives had adopted into their domestic life. All that she told was worth the telling, and the telling, if done successfully, was sure to produce a good result. I am satisfied that it did so. But she did not regard it as a part of her work to dilate on the nature and operation of those political arrangements which had produced the social absurdities which she saw, or to explain that though such absurdities were the natural result of those arrangements in their newness, the defects would certainly pass away, while the political arrangements, if good, would remain. Such a work is fitter for a man than for a woman, I am very far from thinking that it is a task which I can perform with satisfaction either to myself or to others. It is a work which some man will do who has earned a right by education, study, and success to rank himself among the political sages of his age. But I may perhaps be able to add something to the familiarity of Englishmen with Americans. The writings which have been most popular in England on the subject of the United States have hitherto dealt chiefly with social details; and though in most cases true and useful, have created laughter on one side of the Atlantic, and soreness on the other. If I could do anything to mitigate the soreness, if I could in any small degree add to the good feeling which should exist between two nations which ought to love each other so well, and which do hang upon each other so constantly, I should think that I had cause to be proud of my work.
But it is very hard to write about any country a book that does not represent the country described in a more or less ridiculous point of view. It is hard at least to do so in such a book as I must write. A de Tocqueville may do it. It may be done by any philosophico-political or politico-statistical, or statistico- scientific writer; but it can hardly be done by a man who professes to use a light pen, and to manufacture his article for the use of general readers. Such a writer may tell all that he sees of the beautiful; but he must also tell, if not all that he sees of the ludicrous, at any rate the most piquant part of it. How to do this without being offensive is the problem which a man with such a task before him has to solve. His first duty is owed to his readers, and consists mainly in this: that he shall tell the truth, and shall so tell that truth that what he has written may be readable. But a second duty is due to those of whom he writes; and he does not perform that duty well if he gives offense to those as to whom, on the summing up of the whole evidence for and against them in his own mind, he intends to give a favorable verdict. There are of course those against whom a writer does not intend to give a favorable verdict; people and places whom he desires to describe, on the peril of his own judgment, as bad, ill educated, ugly, and odious. In such cases his course is straightforward enough. His judgment may be in great peril, but his volume or chapter will be easily written. Ridicule and censure run glibly from the pen, and form themselves into sharp paragraphs which are pleasant to the reader. Whereas eulogy is commonly dull, and too frequently sounds as though it were false. There is much difficulty in expressing a verdict which is intended to be favorable; but which, though favorable, shall not be falsely eulogistic; and though true, not offensive.
Who has ever traveled in foreign countries without meeting excellent stories against the citizens of such countries? And how few can travel without hearing such stories against themselves! It is impossible for me to avoid telling of a very excellent gentleman whom I met before I had been in the United States a week, and who asked me whether lords in England ever spoke to men who were not lords. Nor can I omit the opening address of another gentleman to my wife. "You like our institutions, ma'am?" "Yes, indeed," said my wife, not with all that eagerness of assent which the occasion perhaps required. "Ah," said he, "I never yet met the down-trodden subject of a despot who did not hug his chains." The first gentleman was certainly somewhat ignorant of our customs, and the second was rather abrupt in his condemnation of the political principles of a person whom he only first saw at that moment. It comes to me in the way of my trade to repeat such incidents; but I can tell stories which are quite as good against Englishmen. As, for instance, when I was tapped on the back in one of the galleries of Florence by a countryman of mine, and asked to show him where stood the medical Venus. Nor is anything that one can say of the inconveniences attendant upon travel in the United States to be beaten by what foreigners might truly say of us. I shall never forget the look of a Frenchman whom I found on a wet afternoon in the best inn of a provincial town in the west of England. He was seated on a horsehair-covered chair in the middle of a small, dingy, ill-furnished private sitting-room. No eloquence of mine could make intelligible to a Frenchman or an American the utter desolation of such an apartment. The world as then seen by that Frenchman offered him solace of no description. The air without was heavy, dull, and thick. The street beyond the window was dark and narrow. The room contained mahogany chairs covered with horse- hair, a mahogany table, rickety in its legs, and a mahogany sideboard ornamented with inverted glasses and old cruet-stands. The Frenchman had come to the house for shelter and food, and had been asked whether he was commercial. Whereupon he shook his head. "Did he want a sitting-room?" Yes, he did. "He was a leetle tired and vanted to seet." Whereupon he was presumed to have ordered a private room, and was shown up to the Eden I have described. I found him there at death's door. Nothing that I can say with reference to the social habits of the Americans can tell more against them than the story of that Frenchman's fate tells against those of our country.
From which remarks I would wish to be understood as deprecating offense from my American friends, if in the course of my book should be found aught which may seem to argue against the excellence of their institutions and the grace of their social life. Of this at any rate I can assure them, in sober earnestness, that I admire what they have done in the world and for the world with a true and hearty admiration; and that whether or no all their institutions be at present excellent, and their social life all graceful, my wishes are that they should be so, and my convictions are that that improvement will come for which there may perhaps even yet be some little room.
And now touching this war which had broken out between the North and South before I left England. I would wish to explain what my feelings were; or rather what I believe the general feelings of England to have been before I found myself among the people by whom it was being waged. It is very difficult for the people of any one nation to realize the political relations of another, and to chew the cud and digest the bearings of those external politics. But it is unjust in the one to decide upon the political aspirations and doings of that other without such understanding. Constantly as the name of France is in our mouths, comparatively few Englishmen understand the way in which France is governed; that is, how far absolute despotism prevails, and how far the power of the one ruler is tempered, or, as it may be, hampered by the voices and influence of others. And as regards England, how seldom is it that in common society a foreigner is met who comprehends the nature of her political arrangements! To a Frenchman—I do not of course include great men who have made the subject a study,—but to the ordinary intelligent Frenchman the thing is altogether incomprehensible. Language, it may be said, has much to do with that. But an American speaks English; and how often is an American met who has combined in his mind the idea of a monarch, so called, with that of a republic, properly so named—a combination of ideas which I take to be necessary to the understanding of English politics! The gentleman who scorned my wife for hugging her chains had certainly not done so, and yet he conceived that he had studied the subject. The matter is one most difficult of comprehension. How many Englishmen have failed to understand accurately their own constitution, or the true bearing of their own politics! But when this knowledge has been attained, it has generally been filtered into the mind slowly, and has come from the unconscious study of many years. An Englishman handles a newspaper for a quarter of an hour daily, and daily exchanges some few words in politics with those around him, till drop by drop the pleasant springs of his liberty creep into his mind and water his heart; and thus, earlier or later in life, according to the nature of his intelligence, he understands why it is that he is at all points a free man. But if this be so of our own politics; if it be so rare a thing to find a foreigner who understands them in all their niceties, why is it that we are so confident in our remarks on all the niceties of those of other nations?
I hope that I may not be misunderstood as saying that we should not discuss foreign politics in our press, our parliament, our public meetings, or our private houses. No man could be mad enough to preach such a doctrine. As regards our parliament, that is probably the best British school of foreign politics, seeing that the subject is not there often taken up by men who are absolutely ignorant, and that mistakes when made are subject to a correction which is both rough and ready. The press, though very liable to error, labors hard at its vocation in teaching foreign politics, and spares no expense in letting in daylight. If the light let in be sometimes moonshine, excuse may easily be made. Where so much is attempted, there must necessarily be some failure. But even the moonshine does good if it be not offensive moonshine. What I would deprecate is, that aptness at reproach which we assume; the readiness with scorn, the quiet words of insult, the instant judgment and condemnation with which we are so inclined to visit, not the great outward acts, but the smaller inward politics of our neighbors.
And do others spare us? will be the instant reply of all who may read this. In my counter reply I make bold to place myself and my country on very high ground, and to say that we, the older and therefore more experienced people as regards the United States, and the better governed as regards France, and the stronger as regards all the world beyond, should not throw mud again even though mud be thrown at us. I yield the path to a small chimney-sweeper as readily as to a lady; and forbear from an interchange of courtesies with a Billingsgate heroine, even though at heart I may have a proud consciousness that I should not altogether go to the wall in such an encounter.
I left England in August last—August, 1861. At that time, and for some months previous, I think that the general English feeling on the American question was as follows: "This wide-spread nationality of the United States, with its enormous territorial possessions and increasing population, has fallen asunder, torn to pieces by the weight of its own discordant parts—as a congregation when its size has become unwieldy will separate, and reform itself into two wholesome wholes. It is well that this should be so, for the people are not homogeneous, as a people should be who are called to live together as one nation. They have attempted to combine free- soil sentiments with the practice of slavery, and to make these two antagonists live together in peace and unity under the same roof; but, as we have long expected, they have failed. Now has come the period for separation; and if the people would only see this, and act in accordance with the circumstances which Providence and the inevitable hand of the world's Ruler has prepared for them, all would be well. But they will not do this. They will go to war with each other. The South will make her demands for secession with an arrogance and instant pressure which exasperates the North; and the North, forgetting that an equable temper in such matters is the most powerful of all weapons, will not recognize the strength of its own position. It allows itself to be exasperated, and goes to war for that which if regained would only be injurious to it. Thus millions on millions sterling will be spent. A heavy debt will be incurred; and the North, which divided from the South might take its place among the greatest of nations, will throw itself back for half a century, and perhaps injure the splendor of its ultimate prospects. If only they would be wise, throw down their arms, and agree to part! But they will not."
This was I think the general opinion when I left England. It would not, however, be necessary to go back many months to reach the time when Englishmen were saying how impossible it was that so great a national power should ignore its own greatness and destroy its own power by an internecine separation. But in August last all that had gone by, and we in England had realized the probability of actual secession.
To these feelings on the subject maybe added another, which was natural enough though perhaps not noble. "These western cocks have crowed loudly," we said; "too loudly for the comfort of those who live after all at no such great distance from them. It is well that their combs should be clipped. Cocks who crow so very loudly are a nuisance. It might have gone so far that the clipping would become a work necessarily to be done from without. But it is ten times better for all parties that it should be done from within; and as the cocks are now clipping their own combs, in God's name let them do it, and the whole world will be the quieter." That, I say, was not a very noble idea; but it was natural enough, and certainly has done somewhat in mitigating that grief which the horrors of civil war and the want of cotton have caused to us in England.
Such certainly had been my belief as to the country. I speak here of my opinion as to the ultimate success of secession and the folly of the war, repudiating any concurrence of my own in the ignoble but natural sentiment alluded to in the last paragraph. I certainly did think that the Northern States, if wise, would have let the Southern States go. I had blamed Buchanan as a traitor for allowing the germ of secession to make any growth; and as I thought him a traitor then, so do I think him a traitor now. But I had also blamed Lincoln, or rather the government of which Mr. Lincoln in this matter is no more than the exponent, for his efforts to avoid that which is inevitable. In this I think that I—or as I believe I may say we, we Englishmen—were wrong. I do not see how the North, treated as it was and had been, could have submitted to secession without resistance. We all remember what Shakspeare says of the great armies which were led out to fight for a piece of ground not large enough to cover the bodies of those who would be slain in the battle; but I do not remember that Shakspeare says that the battle was on this account necessarily unreasonable. It is the old point of honor which, till it had been made absurd by certain changes of circumstances, was always grand and usually beneficent. These changes of circumstances have altered the manner in which appeal may be made, but have not altered the point of honor. Had the Southern States sought to obtain secession by constitutional means, they might or might not have been successful; but if successful, there would have been no war. I do not mean to brand all the Southern States with treason, nor do I intend to say that, having secession at heart, they could have obtained it by constitutional means. But I do intend to say that, acting as they did, demanding secession not constitutionally, but in opposition to the constitution, taking upon themselves the right of breaking up a nationality of which they formed only a part, and doing that without consent of the other part, opposition from the North and war was an inevitable consequence.
It is, I think, only necessary to look back to the Revolution by which the United States separated themselves from England to see this. There is hardly to be met, here and there, an Englishman who now regrets the loss of the revolted American colonies; who now thinks that civilization was retarded and the world injured by that revolt; who now conceives that England should have expended more treasure and more lives in the hope of retaining those colonies. It is agreed that the revolt was a good thing; that those who were then rebels became patriots by success, and that they deserved well of all coming ages of mankind. But not the less absolutely necessary was it that England should endeavor to hold her own. She was as the mother bird when the young bird will fly alone. She suffered those pangs which Nature calls upon mothers to endure.
As was the necessity of British opposition to American independence, so was the necessity of Northern opposition to Southern secession. I do not say that in other respects the two cases were parallel. The States separated from us because they would not endure taxation without representation—in other words, because they were old enough and big enough to go alone. The South is seceding from the North because the two are not homogeneous. They have different instincts, different appetites, different morals, and a different culture. It is well for one man to say that slavery has caused the separation, and for another to say that slavery has not caused it. Each in so saying speaks the truth. Slavery has caused it, seeing that slavery is the great point on which the two have agreed to differ. But slavery has not caused it, seeing that other points of difference are to be found in every circumstance and feature of the two people. The North and the South must ever be dissimilar. In the North labor will always be honorable, and because honorable, successful. In the South labor has ever been servile—at least in some sense—and therefore dishonorable; and because dishonorable, has not, to itself, been successful. In the South, I say, labor ever has been dishonorable; and I am driven to confess that I have not hitherto seen a sign of any change in the Creator's fiat on this matter. That labor will be honorable all the world over as years advance and the millennium draws nigh, I for one never doubt.
So much for English opinion about America in August last. And now I will venture to say a word or two as to American feeling respecting this English opinion at that period. It will of course be remembered by all my readers that, at the beginning of the war, Lord Russell, who was then in the lower house, declared, as Foreign Secretary of State, that England would regard the North and South as belligerents, and would remain neutral as to both of them. This declaration gave violent offense to the North, and has been taken as indicating British sympathy with the cause of the seceders. I am not going to explain—indeed, it would be necessary that I should first understand—the laws of nations with regard to blockaded ports, privateering, ships and men and goods contraband of war, and all those semi-nautical, semi-military rules and axioms which it is necessary that all attorneys-general and such like should, at the present moment, have at their fingers' end. But it must be evident to the most ignorant in those matters, among which large crowd I certainly include myself, that it was essentially necessary that Lord John Russell should at that time declare openly what England intended to do. It was essential that our seamen should know where they would be protected and where not, and that the course to be taken by England should be defined. Reticence in the matter was not within the power of the British government. It behooved the Foreign Secretary of State to declare openly that England intended to side either with one party or with the other, or else to remain neutral between them.
I had heard this matter discussed by Americans before I left England, and I have of course heard it discussed very frequently in America. There can be no doubt that the front of the offense given by England to the Northern States was this declaration of Lord John Russell's. But it has been always made evident to me that the sin did not consist in the fact of England's neutrality—in the fact of her regarding the two parties as belligerents—but in the open declaration made to the world by a Secretary of State that she did intend so to regard them. If another proof were wanting, this would afford another proof of the immense weight attached in America to all the proceedings and to all the feelings of England on this matter. The very anger of the North is a compliment paid by the North to England. But not the less is that anger unreasonable. To those in America who understand our constitution, it must be evident that our government cannot take official measures without a public avowal of such measures. France can do so. Russia can do so. The government of the United States can do so, and could do so even before this rupture. But the government of England cannot do so. All men connected with the government in England have felt themselves from time to time more or less hampered by the necessity of publicity. Our statesmen have been forced to fight their battles with the plan of their tactics open before their adversaries. But we in England are inclined to believe that the general result is good, and that battles so fought and so won will be fought with the honestest blows and won with the surest results. Reticence in this matter was not possible; and Lord John Russell, in making the open avowal which gave such offense to the Northern States, only did that which, as a servant of England, England required him to do.
"What would you in England have thought," a gentleman of much weight in Boston said to me, "if, when you were in trouble in India, we had openly declared that we regarded your opponents there are as belligerents on equal terms with yourselves?" I was forced to say that, as far as I could see, there was no analogy between the two cases. In India an army had mutinied, and that an army composed of a subdued, if not a servile race. The analogy would have been fairer had it referred to any sympathy shown by us to insurgent negroes. But, nevertheless, had the army which mutinied in India been in possession of ports and sea-board; had they held in their hands vast commercial cities and great agricultural districts; had they owned ships and been masters of a wide-spread trade, America could have done nothing better toward us than have remained neutral in such a conflict and have regarded the parties as belligerents. The only question is whether she would have done so well by us. "But," said my friend, in answer to all this, "we should not have proclaimed to the world that we regarded you and them as standing on an equal footing." There again appeared the true gist of the offense. A word from England such as that spoken by Lord John Russell was of such weight to the South that the North could not endure to have it spoken. I did not say to that gentleman, but here I may say that, had such circumstances arisen as those conjectured, and had America spoken such a word, England would not have felt herself called upon to resent it.
But the fairer analogy lies between Ireland and the Southern States. The monster meetings and O'Connell's triumphs are not so long gone by but that many of us can remember the first demand for secession made by Ireland, and the line which was then taken by American sympathies. It is not too much to say that America then believed that Ireland would secure secession, and that the great trust of the Irish repealers was in the moral aid which she did and would receive from America. "But our government proclaimed no sympathy with Ireland," said my friend. No. The American government is not called on to make such proclamations, nor had Ireland ever taken upon herself the nature and labors of a belligerent.
That this anger on the part of the North is unreasonable, I cannot doubt. That it is unfortunate, grievous, and very bitter, I am quite sure. But I do not think that it is in any degree surprising. I am inclined to think that, did I belong to Boston as I do belong to London, I should share in the feeling, and rave as loudly as all men there have raved against the coldness of England. When men have on hand such a job of work as the North has now undertaken, they are always guided by their feelings rather than their reason. What two men ever had a quarrel in which each did not think that all the world, if just, would espouse his own side of the dispute? The North feels that it has been more than loyal to the South, and that the South has taken advantage of that over- loyalty to betray the North. "We have worked for them, and fought for them, and paid for them," says the North. "By our labor we have raised their indolence to a par with our energy. While we have worked like men, we have allowed them to talk and bluster. We have warmed them in our bosom, and now they turn against us and sting us. The world sees that this is so. England, above all, must see it, and, seeing it, should speak out her true opinion." The North is hot with such thoughts as these; and one cannot wonder that she should be angry with her friend when her friend, with an expression of certain easy good wishes, bids her fight out her own battles. The North has been unreasonable with England; but I believe that every reader of this page would have been as unreasonable had that reader been born in Massachusetts.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones are the dearly-beloved friends of my family. My wife and I have lived with Mrs. Jones on terms of intimacy which have been quite endearing. Jones has had the run of my house with perfect freedom; and in Mrs. Jones's drawing-room I have always had my own arm-chair, and have been regaled with large breakfast-cups of tea, quite as though I were at home. But of a sudden Jones and his wife have fallen out, and there is for awhile in Jones Hall a cat-and-dog life that may end—in one hardly dare to surmise what calamity. Mrs. Jones begs that I will interfere with her husband, and Jones entreats the good offices of my wife in moderating the hot temper of his own. But we know better than that. If we interfere, the chances are that my dear friends will make it up and turn upon us. I grieve beyond measure in a general way at the temporary break up of the Jones-Hall happiness. I express general wishes that it may be temporary. But as for saying which is right or which is wrong—as to expressing special sympathy on either side in such a quarrel—it is out of the question. "My dear Jones, you must excuse me. Any news in the city to-day? Sugars have fallen; how are teas?" Of course Jones thinks that I'm a brute; but what can I do?
I have been somewhat surprised to find the trouble that has been taken by American orators, statesmen, and logicians to prove that this secession on the part of the South has been revolutionary— that is to say, that it has been undertaken and carried on not in compliance with the Constitution of the United States, but in defiance of it. This has been done over and over again by some of the greatest men of the North, and has been done most successfully. But what then? Of course the movement has been revolutionary and anti-constitutional. Nobody, no single Southerner, can really believe that the Constitution of the United States as framed in 1787, or altered since, intended to give to the separate States the power of seceding as they pleased. It is surely useless going through long arguments to prove this, seeing that it is absolutely proved by the absence of any clause giving such license to the separate States. Such license would have been destructive to the very idea of a great nationality. Where would New England have been, as a part of the United States, if New York, which stretches from the Atlantic to the borders of Canada, had been endowed with the power of cutting off the six Northern States from the rest of the Union? No one will for a moment doubt that the movement was revolutionary, and yet infinite pains are taken to prove a fact that is patent to every one.
It is revolutionary; but what then? Have the Northern States of the American Union taken upon themselves, in 1861, to proclaim their opinion that revolution is a sin? Are they going back to the divine right of any sovereignty? Are they going to tell the world that a nation or a people is bound to remain in any political status because that status is the recognized form of government under which such a people have lived? Is this to be the doctrine of United States citizens—of all people? And is this the doctrine preached now, of all times, when the King of Naples and the Italian dukes have just been dismissed from their thrones with such enchanting nonchalance because their people have not chosen to keep them? Of course the movement is revolutionary; and why not? It is agreed now among all men and all nations that any people may change its form of government to any other, if it wills to do so—and if it can do so.
There are two other points on which these Northern statesmen and logicians also insist, and these two other points are at any rate better worth an argument than that which touches the question of revolution. It being settled that secession on the part of the Southerners is revolution, it is argued, firstly, that no occasion for revolution had been given by the North to the South; and, secondly, that the South has been dishonest in its revolutionary tactics. Men certainly should not raise a revolution for nothing; and it may certainly be declared that whatever men do they should do honestly.
But in that matter of the cause and ground for revolution, it is so very easy for either party to put in a plea that shall be satisfactory to itself! Mr. and Mrs. Jones each had a separate story. Mr. Jones was sure that the right lay with him; but Mrs. Jones was no less sure. No doubt the North had done much for the South; had earned money for it; had fed it; and had, moreover, in a great measure fostered all its bad habits. It had not only been generous to the South, but over-indulgent. But also it had continually irritated the South by meddling with that which the Southerners believed to be a question absolutely private to themselves. The matter was illustrated to me by a New Hampshire man who was conversant with black bears. At the hotels in the New Hampshire mountains it is customary to find black bears chained to poles. These bears are caught among the hills, and are thus imprisoned for the amusement of the hotel guests. "Them Southerners," said my friend, "are jist as one as that 'ere bear. We feeds him and gives him a house, and his belly is ollers full. But then, jist becase he's a black bear, we're ollers a poking him with sticks, and a' course the beast is a kinder riled. He wants to be back to the mountains. He wouldn't have his belly filled, but he'd have his own way. It's jist so with them Southerners."
It is of no use proving to any man or to any nation that they have got all they should want, if they have not got all that they do want. If a servant desires to go, it is of no avail to show him that he has all he can desire in his present place. The Northerners say that they have given no offense to the Southerners, and that therefore the South is wrong to raise a revolution. The very fact that the North is the North, is an offence to the South. As long as Mr. and Mrs. Jones were one in heart and one in feeling, having the same hopes and the same joys, it was well that they should remain together. But when it is proved that they cannot so live without tearing out each other's eyes, Sir Cresswell Cresswell, the revolutionary institution of domestic life, interferes and separates them. This is the age of such separations. I do not wonder that the North should use its logic to show that it has received cause of offense but given none; but I do think that such logic is thrown away. The matter is not one for argument. The South has thought that it can do better without the North than with it; and if it has the power to separate itself, it must be conceded that it has the right.
And then as to that question of honesty. Whatever men do they certainly should do honestly. Speaking broadly, one may say that the rule applies to nations as strongly as to individuals, and should be observed in politics as accurately as in other matters. We must, however, confess that men who are scrupulous in their private dealings do too constantly drop those scruples when they handle public affairs, and especially when they handle them at stirring moments of great national changes. The name of Napoleon III. stands fair now before Europe, and yet he filched the French empire with a falsehood. The union of England and Ireland is a successful fact, but nevertheless it can hardly be said that it was honestly achieved. I heartily believe that the whole of Texas is improved in every sense by having been taken from Mexico and added to the Southern States, but I much doubt whether that annexation was accomplished with absolute honesty. We all reverence the name of Cavour, but Cavour did not consent to abandon Nice to France with clean hands. When men have political ends to gain they regard their opponents as adversaries, and then that old rule of war is brought to bear, deceit or valor—either may be used against a foe. Would it were not so! The rascally rule—rascally in reference to all political contests—is becoming less universal than it was. But it still exists with sufficient force to be urged as an excuse; and while it does exist it seems almost needless to show that a certain amount of fraud has been used by a certain party in a revolution. If the South be ultimately successful, the fraud of which it may have been guilty will be condoned by the world.
The Southern or Democratic party of the United States had, as all men know, been in power for many years. Either Southern Presidents had been elected, or Northern Presidents with Southern politics. The South for many years had had the disposition of military matters, and the power of distributing military appliances of all descriptions. It is now alleged by the North that a conspiracy had long been hatching in the South with the view of giving to the Southern States the power of secession whenever they might think fit to secede; and it is further alleged that President after President, for years back, has unduly sent the military treasure of the nation away from the North down to the South, in order that the South might be prepared when the day should come. That a President with Southern instincts should unduly favor the South, that he should strengthen the South, and feel that arms and ammunition were stored there with better effect than they could be stored in the North, is very probable. We all understand what is the bias of a man's mind, and how strong that bias may become when the man is not especially scrupulous. But I do not believe that any President previous to Buchanan sent military materials to the South with the self-acknowledged purpose of using them against the Union. That Buchanan did so, or knowingly allowed this to be done, I do believe, and I think that Buchanan was a traitor to the country whose servant he was and whose pay he received.
And now, having said so much in the way of introduction, I will begin my journey.
We—the we consisting of my wife and myself—left Liverpool for Boston on the 24th August, 1861, in the Arabia, one of Cunard's North American mail packets. We had determined that my wife should return alone at the beginning of winter, when I intended to go to a part of the country in which, under the existing circumstances of the war, a lady might not feel herself altogether comfortable. I proposed staying in America over the winter, and returning in the spring; and this programme I have carried out with sufficient exactness.
The Arabia touched at Halifax; and as the touch extended from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. we had an opportunity of seeing a good deal of that colony; not quite sufficient to justify me at this critical age in writing a chapter of travels in Nova Scotia, but enough perhaps to warrant a paragraph. It chanced that a cousin of mine was then in command of the troops there, so that we saw the fort with all the honors. A dinner on shore was, I think, a greater treat to us even than this. We also inspected sundry specimens of the gold which is now being found for the first time in Nova Scotia, as to the glory and probable profits of which the Nova Scotians seemed to be fully alive. But still, I think the dinner on shore took rank with us as the most memorable and meritorious of all that we did and saw at Halifax. At seven o'clock on the morning but one after that we were landed at Boston.
At Boston I found friends ready to receive us with open arms, though they were friends we had never known before. I own that I felt myself burdened with much nervous anxiety at my first introduction to men and women in Boston. I knew what the feeling there was with reference to England, and I knew also how impossible it is for an Englishman to hold his tongue and submit to dispraise of England. As for going among a people whose whole minds were filled with affairs of the war, and saying nothing about the war, I knew that no resolution to such an effect could be carried out. If one could not trust one's self to speak, one should have stayed at home in England. I will here state that I always did speak out openly what I thought and felt, and that though I encountered very strong—sometimes almost fierce—opposition, I never was subjected to anything that was personally disagreeable to me.
In September we did not stay above a week in Boston, having been fairly driven out of it by the musquitoes. I had been told that I should find nobody in Boston whom I cared to see, as everybody was habitually out of town during the heat of the latter summer and early autumn; but this was not so. The war and attendant turmoils of war had made the season of vacation shorter than usual, and most of those for whom I asked were back at their posts. I know no place at which an Englishman may drop down suddenly among a pleasanter circle of acquaintance, or find himself with a more clever set of men, than he can do at Boston. I confess that in this respect I think that but few towns are at present more fortunately circumstanced than the capital of the Bay State, as Massachusetts is called, and that very few towns make a better use of their advantages. Boston has a right to be proud of what it has done for the world of letters. It is proud; but I have not found that its pride was carried too far.
Boston is not in itself a fine city, but it is a very pleasant city. They say that the harbor is very grand and very beautiful. It certainly is not so fine as that of Portland, in a nautical point of view, and as certainly it is not as beautiful. It is the entrance from the sea into Boston of which people say so much; but I did not think it quite worthy of all I had heard. In such matters, however, much depends on the peculiar light in which scenery is seen. An evening light is generally the best for all landscapes; and I did not see the entrance to Boston harbor by an evening light. It was not the beauty of the harbor of which I thought the most, but of the tea which had been sunk there, and of all that came of that successful speculation. Few towns now standing have a right to be more proud of their antecedents than Boston.
But as I have said, it is not specially interesting to the eye; what new town, or even what simply adult town, can be so? There is an Atheneum, and a State Hall, and a fashionable street,—Beacon Street, very like Piccadilly as it runs along the Green Park,—and there is the Green Park opposite to this Piccadilly, called Boston Common. Beacon Street and Boston Common are very pleasant. Excellent houses there are, and large churches, and enormous hotels; but of such things as these a man can write nothing that is worth the reading. The traveler who desires to tell his experience of North America must write of people rather than of things.
As I have said, I found myself instantly involved in discussions on American politics and the bearing of England upon those politics. "What do you think, you in England—what do you believe will be the upshot of this war?" That was the question always asked in those or other words. "Secession, certainly," I always said, but not speaking quite with that abruptness. "And you believe, then, that the South will beat the North?" I explained that I personally had never so thought, and that I did not believe that to be the general idea. Men's opinions in England, however, were too divided to enable me to say that there was any prevailing conviction on the matter. My own impression was, and is, that the North will, in a military point of view, have the best of the contest—will beat the South; but that the Northerners will not prevent secession, let their success be what it may. Should the North prevail after a two years' conflict, the North will not admit the South to an equal participation of good things with themselves, even though each separate rebellious State should return suppliant, like a prodigal son, kneeling on the floor of Congress, each with a separate rope of humiliation round its neck. Such was my idea as expressed then, and I do not know that I have since had much cause to change it.
"We will never give it up," one gentleman said to me—and, indeed, many have said the same—"till the whole territory is again united from the Bay to the Gulf. It is impossible that we should allow of two nationalities within those limits." "And do you think it possible," I asked, "that you should receive back into your bosom this people which you now hate with so deep a hatred, and receive them again into your arms as brothers on equal terms? Is it in accordance with experience that a conquered people should be so treated, and that, too, a people whose every habit of life is at variance with the habits of their presumed conquerors? When you have flogged them into a return of fraternal affection, are they to keep their slaves or are they to abolish them?" "No," said my friend, "it may not be practicable to put those rebellious States at once on an equality with ourselves. For a time they will probably be treated as the Territories are now treated." (The Territories are vast outlying districts belonging to the Union, but not as yet endowed with State governments or a participation in the United States Congress.) "For a time they must, perhaps, lose their full privileges; but the Union will be anxious to readmit them at the earliest possible period." "And as to the slaves?" I asked again. "Let them emigrate to Liberia—back to their own country." I could not say that I thought much of the solution of the difficulty. It would, I suggested, overtask even the energy of America to send out an emigration of four million souls, to provide for their wants in a new and uncultivated country, and to provide, after that, for the terrible gap made in the labor market of the Southern States. "The Israelites went back from bondage," said my friend. But a way was opened for them by a miracle across the sea, and food was sent to them from heaven, and they had among them a Moses for a leader, and a Joshua to fight their battles. I could not but express my fear that the days of such immigrations were over. This plan of sending back the negroes to Africa did not reach me only from one or from two mouths, and it was suggested by men whose opinions respecting their country have weight at home and are entitled to weight abroad. I mention this merely to show how insurmountable would be the difficulty of preventing secession, let which side win that may.
"We will never abandon the right to the mouth of the Mississippi." That, in all such arguments, is a strong point with men of the Northern States—perhaps the point to which they all return with the greatest firmness. It is that on which Mr. Everett insists in the last paragraph of the oration which he made in New York on the 4th of July, 1861. "The Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers," he says, "with their hundred tributaries, give to the great central basin of our continent its character and destiny. The outlet of this system lies between the States of Tennessee and Missouri, of Mississippi and Arkansas, and through the State of Louisiana. The ancient province so called, the proudest monument of the mighty monarch whose name it bears, passed from the jurisdiction of France to that of Spain in 1763. Spain coveted it—not that she might fill it with prosperous colonies and rising States, but that it might stretch as a broad waste barrier, infested with warlike tribes, between the Anglo-American power and the silver mines of Mexico. With the independence of the United States the fear of a still more dangerous neighbor grew upon Spain; and, in the insane expectation of checking the progress of the Union westward, she threatened, and at times attempted, to close the mouth of the Mississippi on the rapidly-increasing trade of the West. The bare suggestion of such a policy roused the population upon the banks of the Ohio, then inconsiderable, as one man. Their confidence in Washington scarcely restrained them from rushing to the seizure of New Orleans, when the treaty of San Lorenzo El Real, in 1795, stipulated for them a precarious right of navigating the noble river to the sea, with a right of deposit at New Orleans. This subject was for years the turning-point of the politics of the West; and it was perfectly well understood that, sooner or later, she would be content with nothing less than the sovereign control of the mighty stream from its head-spring to its outlet in the Gulf. AND THAT IS AS TRUE NOW AS IT WAS THEN."
This is well put. It describes with force the desires, ambition, and necessities of a great nation, and it tells with historical truth the story of the success of that nation. It was a great thing done when the purchase of the whole of Louisiana was completed by the United States—that cession by France, however, having been made at the instance of Napoleon, and not in consequence of any demand made by the States. The district then called Louisiana included the present State of that name and the States of Missouri and Arkansas—included also the right to possess, if not the absolute possession of all that enormous expanse of country running from thence back to the Pacific: a huge amount of territory, of which the most fertile portion is watered by the Mississippi and its vast tributaries. That river and those tributaries are navigable through the whole center of the American continent up to Wisconsin and Minnesota. To the United States the navigation of the Mississippi was, we may say, indispensable; and to the States, when no longer united, the navigation will be equally indispensable. But the days are gone when any country such as Spain was can interfere to stop the highways of the world with the all but avowed intention of arresting the progress of civilization. It may be that the North and the South can never again be friends as the component parts of one nation. Such, I take it, is the belief of all politicians in Europe, and of many of those who live across the water. But as separate nations they may yet live together in amity, and share between them the great water- ways which God has given them for their enrichment. The Rhine is free to Prussia and to Holland. The Danube is not closed against Austria. It will be said that the Danube has in fact been closed against Austria, in spite of treaties to the contrary. But the faults of bad and weak governments are made known as cautions to the world, and not as facts to copy. The free use of the waters of a common river between two nations is an affair for treaty; and it has not yet come to that that treaties must necessarily be null and void through the falseness of politicians.
"And what will England do for cotton? Is it not the fact that Lord John Russell, with his professed neutrality, intends to express sympathy with the South—intends to pave the way for the advent of Southern cotton?" "You ought to love us," so say men in Boston, "because we have been with you in heart and spirit for long, long years. But your trade has eaten into your souls, and you love American cotton better than American loyalty and American fellowship." This I found to be unfair, and in what politest language I could use I said so. I had not any special knowledge of the minds of English statesmen on this matter; but I knew as well as Americans could do what our statesmen had said and done respecting it. That cotton, if it came from the South, would be made very welcome in Liverpool, of course I knew. If private enterprise could bring it, it might be brought. But the very declaration made by Lord John Russell was the surest pledge that England, as a nation, would not interfere even to supply her own wants. It may easily be imagined what eager words all this would bring about; but I never found that eager words led to feelings which were personally hostile.
All the world has heard of Newport, in Rhode Island, as being the Brighton, and Tenby, and Scarborough of New England. And the glory of Newport is by no means confined to New England, but is shared by New York and Washington, and in ordinary years by the extreme South. It is the habit of Americans to go to some watering-place every summer—that is, to some place either of sea water or of inland waters. This is done much in England, more in Ireland than in England, but I think more in the States than even in Ireland. But of all such summer haunts, Newport is supposed to be in many ways the most captivating. In the first place, it is certainly the most fashionable, and, in the next place, it is said to be the most beautiful. We decided on going to Newport—led thither by the latter reputation rather than the former. As we were still in the early part of September, we expected to find the place full, but in this we were disappointed—disappointed, I say, rather than gratified, although a crowded house at such a place is certainly a nuisance. But a house which is prepared to make up six hundred beds, and which is called on to make up only twenty-five, becomes, after awhile, somewhat melancholy. The natural depression of the landlord communicates itself to his servants, and from the servants it descends to the twenty-five guests, who wander about the long passages and deserted balconies like the ghosts of those of the summer visitors, who cannot rest quietly in their graves at home.
In England we know nothing of hotels prepared for six hundred visitors, all of whom are expected to live in common. Domestic architects would be frightened at the dimensions which are needed, and at the number of apartments which are required to be clustered under one roof. We went to the Ocean Hotel at Newport, and fancied, as we first entered the hall under a veranda as high as the house, and made our way into the passage, that we had been taken to a well-arranged barrack. "Have you rooms?" I asked, as a man always does ask on first reaching his inn. "Rooms enough," the clerk said; "we have only fifty here." But that fifty dwindled down to twenty-five during the next day or two.
We were a melancholy set, the ladies appearing to be afflicted in this way worse than the gentlemen, on account of their enforced abstinence from tobacco. What can twelve ladies do scattered about a drawing-room, so called, intended for the accommodation of two hundred? The drawing-room at the Ocean Hotel, Newport, is not as big as Westminster Hall, but would, I should think, make a very good House of Commons for the British nation. Fancy the feelings of a lady when she walks into such a room, intending to spend her evening there, and finds six or seven other ladies located on various sofas at terrible distances, all strangers to her. She has come to Newport probably to enjoy herself; and as, in accordance with the customs of the place, she has dined at two, she has nothing before her for the evening but the society of that huge, furnished cavern. Her husband, if she have one, or her father, or her lover, has probably entered the room with her. But a man has never the courage to endure such a position long. He sidles out with some muttered excuse, and seeks solace with a cigar. The lady, after half an hour of contemplation, creeps silently near some companion in the desert, and suggests in a whisper that Newport does not seem to be very full at present.
We stayed there for a week, and were very melancholy; but in our melancholy we still talked of the war. Americans are said to be given to bragging, and it is a sin of which I cannot altogether acquit them. But I have constantly been surprised at hearing the Northern men speak of their own military achievements with anything but self-praise. "We've been whipped, sir; and we shall be whipped again before we've done; uncommon well whipped we shall be." "We began cowardly, and were afraid to send our own regiments through one of our own cities." This alluded to a demand that had been made on the Government that troops going to Washington should not be sent through Baltimore, because of the strong feeling for rebellion which was known to exist in that city. President Lincoln complied with this request, thinking it well to avoid a collision between the mob and the soldiers. "We began cowardly, and now we're going on cowardly, and darn't attack them. Well; when we've been whipped often enough, then we shall learn the trade." Now all this—and I heard much of such a nature—could not be called boasting. But yet with it all there was a substratum of confidence. I have heard Northern gentlemen complaining of the President, complaining of all his ministers, one after another, complaining of the contractors who were robbing the army, of the commanders who did not know how to command the army, and of the army itself, which did not know how to obey; but I do not remember that I have discussed the matter with any Northerner who would admit a doubt as to ultimate success.
We were certainly rather melancholy at Newport, and the empty house may perhaps have given its tone to the discussions on the war. I confess that I could not stand the drawing-room—the ladies' drawing-room, as such like rooms are always called at the hotels— and that I basely deserted my wife. I could not stand it either here or elsewhere, and it seemed to me that other husbands—ay, and even lovers—were as hard pressed as myself. I protest that there is no spot on the earth's surface so dear to me as my own drawing- room, or rather my wife's drawing-room, at home; that I am not a man given hugely to clubs, but one rather rejoicing in the rustle of petticoats. I like to have women in the same room with me. But at these hotels I found myself driven away—propelled as it were by some unknown force—to absent myself from the feminine haunts. Anything was more palatable than them, even "liquoring up" at a nasty bar, or smoking in a comfortless reading-room among a deluge of American newspapers. And I protest also—hoping as I do so that I may say much in this book to prove the truth of such protestation—that this comes from no fault of the American women. They are as lovely as our own women. Taken generally, they are better instructed, though perhaps not better educated. They are seldom troubled with mauvaise honte; I do not say it in irony, but begging that the words may be taken at their proper meaning. They can always talk, and very often can talk well. But when assembled together in these vast, cavernous, would-be luxurious, but in truth horribly comfortless hotel drawing-rooms, they are unapproachable. I have seen lovers, whom I have known to be lovers, unable to remain five minutes in the same cavern with their beloved ones.
And then the music! There is always a piano in a hotel drawing- room, on which, of course, some one of the forlorn ladies is generally employed. I do not suppose that these pianos are in fact, as a rule, louder and harsher, more violent and less musical, than other instruments of the kind. They seem to be so, but that, I take it, arises from the exceptional mental depression of those who have to listen to them. Then the ladies, or probably some one lady, will sing, and as she hears her own voice ring and echo through the lofty corners and round the empty walls, she is surprised at her own force, and with increased efforts sings louder and still louder. She is tempted to fancy that she is suddenly gifted with some power of vocal melody unknown to her before, and, filled with the glory of her own performance, shouts till the whole house rings. At such moments she at least is happy, if no one else is so. Looking at the general sadness of her position, who can grudge her such happiness?
And then the children—babies, I should say if I were speaking of English bairns of their age; but seeing that they are Americans, I hardly dare to call them children. The actual age of these perfectly-civilized and highly-educated beings may be from three to four. One will often see five or six such seated at the long dinner-table of the hotel, breakfasting and dining with their elders, and going through the ceremony with all the gravity, and more than all the decorum, of their grandfathers. When I was three years old I had not yet, as I imagine, been promoted beyond a silver spoon of my own wherewith to eat my bread and milk in the nursery; and I feel assured that I was under the immediate care of a nursemaid, as I gobbled up my minced mutton mixed with potatoes and gravy. But at hotel life in the States the adult infant lisps to the waiter for everything at table, handles his fish with epicurean delicacy, is choice in his selection of pickles, very particular that his beef-steak at breakfast shall be hot, and is instant in his demand for fresh ice in his water. But perhaps his, or in this case her, retreat from the room when the meal is over, is the chef-d'oeuvre of the whole performance. The little, precocious, full-blown beauty of four signifies that she has completed her meal—or is "through" her dinner, as she would express it—by carefully extricating herself from the napkin which has been tucked around her. Then the waiter, ever attentive to her movements, draws back the chair on which she is seated, and the young lady glides to the floor. A little girl in Old England would scramble down, but little girls in New England never scramble. Her father and mother, who are no more than her chief ministers, walk before her out of the saloon, and then she—swims after them. But swimming is not the proper word. Fishes, in making their way through the water, assist, or rather impede, their motion with no dorsal wriggle. No animal taught to move directly by its Creator adopts a gait so useless, and at the same time so graceless. Many women, having received their lessons in walking from a less eligible instructor, do move in this way, and such women this unfortunate little lady has been instructed to copy. The peculiar step to which I allude is to be seen often on the boulevards in Paris. It is to be seen more often in second-rate French towns, and among fourth-rate French women. Of all signs in women betokening vulgarity, bad taste, and aptitude to bad morals, it is the surest. And this is the gait of going which American mothers— some American mothers I should say—love to teach their daughters! As a comedy at a hotel it is very delightful, but in private life I should object to it.
To me Newport could never be a place charming by reason of its own charms. That it is a very pleasant place when it is full of people and the people are in spirits and happy, I do not doubt. But then the visitors would bring, as far as I am concerned, the pleasantness with them. The coast is not fine. To those who know the best portions of the coast of Wales or Cornwall—or better still, the western coast of Ireland, of Clare and Kerry for instance—it would not be in any way remarkable. It is by no means equal to Dieppe or Biarritz, and not to be talked of in the same breath with Spezzia. The hotels, too, are all built away from the sea; so that one cannot sit and watch the play of the waves from one's windows. Nor are there pleasant rambling paths down among the rocks, and from one short strand to another. There is excellent bathing for those who like bathing on shelving sand. I don't. The spot is about half a mile from the hotels, and to this the bathers are carried in omnibuses. Till one o'clock ladies bathe, which operation, however, does not at all militate against the bathing of men, but rather necessitates it as regards those men who have ladies with them. For here ladies and gentlemen bathe in decorous dresses, and are very polite to each other. I must say that I think the ladies have the best of it. My idea of sea bathing, for my own gratification, is not compatible with a full suit of clothing. I own that my tastes are vulgar, and perhaps indecent; but I love to jump into the deep, clear sea from off a rock, and I love to be hampered by no outward impediments as I do so. For ordinary bathers, for all ladies, and for men less savage in their instincts than I am, the bathing at Newport is very good.
The private houses—villa residences as they would be termed by an auctioneer in England—are excellent. Many of them are, in fact, large mansions, and are surrounded with grounds which, as the shrubs grow up, will be very beautiful. Some have large, well-kept lawns, stretching down to the rocks, and these, to my taste, give the charm to Newport. They extend about two miles along the coast. Should my lot have made me a citizen of the United States, I should have had no objection to become the possessor of one of these "villa residences;" but I do not think that I should have "gone in" for hotel life at Newport.
We hired saddle-horses, and rode out nearly the length of the island. It was all very well, but there was little in it remarkable either as regards cultivation or scenery. We found nothing that it would be possible either to describe or remember. The Americans of the United States have had time to build and populate vast cities, but they have not yet had time to surround themselves with pretty scenery. Outlying grand scenery is given by nature; but the prettiness of home scenery is a work of art. It comes from the thorough draining of land, from the planting and subsequent thinning of trees, from the controlling of waters, and constant use of minute patches of broken land. In another hundred years or so, Rhode Island may be, perhaps, as pretty as the Isle of Wight. The horses which we got were not good. They were unhandy and badly mouthed, and that which my wife rode was altogether ignorant of the art of walking. We hired them from an Englishman who had established himself at New York as a riding-master for ladies, and who had come to Newport for the season on the same business. He complained to me with much bitterness of the saddle- horses which came in his way—of course thinking that it was the special business of a country to produce saddle-horses, as I think it the special business of a country to produce pens, ink, and paper of good quality. According to him, riding has not yet become an American art, and hence the awkwardness of American horses. "Lord bless you, sir! they don't give an animal a chance of a mouth." In this he alluded only, I presume, to saddle-horses. I know nothing of the trotting horses, but I should imagine that a fine mouth must be an essential requisite for a trotting match in harness. As regards riding at Newport, we were not tempted to repeat the experiment. The number of carriages which we saw there— remembering as I did that the place was comparatively empty—and their general smartness, surprised me very much. It seemed that every lady, with a house of her own, had also her own carriage. These carriages were always open, and the law of the land imperatively demands that the occupants shall cover their knees with a worked worsted apron of brilliant colors. These aprons at first I confess seemed tawdry; but the eye soon becomes used to bright colors, in carriage aprons as well as in architecture, and I soon learned to like them.
Rhode Island, as the State is usually called, is the smallest State in the Union. I may perhaps best show its disparity to other States by saying that New York extends about two hundred and fifty miles from north to south, and the same distance from east to west; whereas the State called Rhode Island is about forty miles long by twenty broad, independently of certain small islands. It would, in fact, not form a considerable addition if added on to many of the other States. Nevertheless, it has all the same powers of self- government as are possessed by such nationalities as the States of New York and Pennsylvania, and sends two Senators to the Senate at Washington, as do those enormous States. Small as the State is, Rhode Island itself forms but a small portion of it. The authorized and proper name of the State is Providence Plantation and Rhode Island. Roger Williams was the first founder of the colony, and he established himself on the mainland at a spot which he called Providence. Here now stands the City of Providence, the chief town of the State; and a thriving, comfortable town it seems to be, full of banks, fed by railways and steamers, and going ahead quite as quickly as Roger Williams could in his fondest hopes have desired.
Rhode Island, as I have said, has all the attributes of government in common with her stouter and more famous sisters. She has a governor, and an upper house and a lower house of legislature; and she is somewhat fantastic in the use of these constitutional powers, for she calls on them to sit now in one town and now in another. Providence is the capital of the State; but the Rhode Island parliament sits sometimes at Providence and sometimes at Newport. At stated times also it has to collect itself at Bristol, and at other stated times at Kingston, and at others at East Greenwich. Of all legislative assemblies it is the most peripatetic. Universal suffrage does not absolutely prevail in this State, a certain property qualification being necessary to confer a right to vote even for the State representatives. I should think it would be well for all parties if the whole State could be swallowed up by Massachusetts or by Connecticut, either of which lie conveniently for the feat; but I presume that any suggestion of such a nature would be regarded as treason by the men of Providence Plantation.
We returned back to Boston by Attleborough, a town at which, in ordinary times, the whole population is supported by the jewelers' trade. It is a place with a specialty, upon which specialty it has thriven well and become a town. But the specialty is one ill adapted for times of war and we were assured that the trade was for the present at an end. What man could now-a-days buy jewels, or even what woman, seeing that everything would be required for the war? I do not say that such abstinence from luxury has been begotten altogether by a feeling of patriotism. The direct taxes which all Americans will now be called on to pay, have had and will have much to do with such abstinence. In the mean time the poor jewelers of Attleborough have gone altogether to the wall.
MAINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND VERMONT.
Perhaps I ought to assume that all the world in England knows that that portion of the United States called New England consists of the six States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This is especially the land of Yankees, and none can properly be called Yankees but those who belong to New England. I have named the States as nearly as may be in order from the north downward. Of Rhode Island, the smallest State in the Union, I have already said what little I have to say. Of these six States Boston may be called the capital. Not that it is so in any civil or political sense; it is simply the capital of Massachusetts. But as it is the Athens of the Western world; as it was the cradle of American freedom; as everybody of course knows that into Boston harbor was thrown the tea which George III. would tax, and that at Boston, on account of that and similar taxes, sprang up the new revolution; and as it has grown in wealth, and fame, and size beyond other towns in New England, it may be allowed to us to regard it as the capital of these six Northern States, without guilt of lese majeste toward the other five. To me, I confess this Northern division of our once-unruly colonies is, and always has been, the dearest. I am no Puritan myself, and fancy that, had I lived in the days of the Puritans, I should have been anti-Puritan to the full extent of my capabilities. But I should have been so through ignorance and prejudice, and actuated by that love of existing rights and wrongs which men call loyalty. If the Canadas were to rebel now, I should be for putting down the Canadians with a strong hand; but not the less have I an idea that it will become the Canadas to rebel and assert their independence at some future period, unless it be conceded to them without such rebellion. Who, on looking back, can now refuse to admire the political aspirations of the English Puritans, or decline to acknowledge the beauty and fitness of what they did? It was by them that these States of New England were colonized. They came hither, stating themselves to be pilgrims, and as such they first placed their feet on that hallowed rock at Plymouth, on the shore of Massachusetts. They came here driven by no thirst of conquest, by no greed for gold, dreaming of no Western empire such as Cortez had achieved and Raleigh had meditated. They desired to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, worshiping God according to their own lights, living in harmony under their own laws, and feeling that no master could claim a right to put a heel upon their necks. And be it remembered that here in England, in those days, earthly masters were still apt to put their heels on the necks of men. The Star Chamber was gone, but Jeffreys had not yet reigned. What earthly aspirations were ever higher than these, or more manly? And what earthly efforts ever led to grander results?
We determined to go to Portland, in Maine, from thence to the White Mountains in New Hampshire—the American Alps, as they love to call them—and then on to Quebec, and up through the two Canadas to Niagara; and this route we followed. From Boston to Portland we traveled by railroad—the carriages on which are in America always called cars. And here I beg, once for all, to enter my protest loudly against the manner in which these conveyances are conducted. The one grand fault—there are other smaller faults—but the one grand fault is that they admit but one class. Two reasons for this are given. The first is that the finances of the companies will not admit of a divided accommodation; and the second is that the republican nature of the people will not brook a superior or aristocratic classification of traveling. As regards the first, I do not in the least believe in it. If a more expensive manner of railway traveling will pay in England, it would surely do so here. Were a better class of carriages organized, as large a portion of the population would use them in the United States as in any country in Europe. And it seems to be evident that in arranging that there shall be only one rate of traveling, the price is enhanced on poor travelers exactly in proportion as it is made cheap to those who are not poor. For the poorer classes, traveling in America is by no means cheap, the average rate being, as far as I can judge, fully three halfpence a mile. It is manifest that dearer rates for one class would allow of cheaper rates for the other; and that in this manner general traveling would be encouraged and increased.
But I do not believe that the question of expenditure has had anything to do with it. I conceive it to be true that the railways are afraid to put themselves at variance with the general feeling of the people. If so, the railways may be right. But then, on the other band, the general feeling of the people must in such case be wrong. Such a feeling argues a total mistake as to the nature of that liberty and equality for the security of which the people are so anxious, and that mistake the very one which has made shipwreck so many attempts at freedom in other countries. It argues that confusion between social and political equality which has led astray multitudes who have longed for liberty fervently, but who have not thought of it carefully. If a first-class railway carriage should be held as offensive, so should a first-class house, or a first-class horse, or a first-class dinner. But first- class houses, first-class horses, and first-class dinners are very rife in America. Of course it may be said that the expenditure shown in these last-named objects is private expenditure, and cannot be controlled; and that railway traveling is of a public nature, and can be made subject to public opinion. But the fault is in that public opinion which desires to control matters of this nature. Such an arrangement partakes of all the vice of a sumptuary law, and sumptuary laws are in their very essence mistakes. It is well that a man should always have all for which he is willing to pay. If he desires and obtains more than is good for him, the punishment, and thus also the preventive, will come from other sources.
It will be said that the American cars are good enough for all purposes. The seats are not very hard, and the room for sitting is sufficient. Nevertheless I deny that they are good enough for all purposes. They are very long, and to enter them and find a place often requires a struggle and almost a fight. There is rarely any person to tell a stranger which car he should enter. One never meets an uncivil or unruly man, but the women of the lower ranks are not courteous. American ladies love to lie at ease in their carriages, as thoroughly as do our women in Hyde Park; and to those who are used to such luxury, traveling by railroad in their own country must be grievous. I would not wish to be thought a Sybarite myself, or to be held as complaining because I have been compelled to give up my seat to women with babies and bandboxes who have accepted the courtesy with very scanty grace. I have borne worse things than these, and have roughed it much in my days, from want of means and other reasons. Nor am I yet so old but what I can rough it still. Nevertheless I like to see things as well done as is practicable, and railway traveling in the States is not well done. I feel bound to say as much as this, and now I have said it, once for all.
Few cities, or localities for cities, have fairer natural advantages than Portland and I am bound to say that the people of Portland have done much in turning them to account. This town is not the capital of the State in a political point of view. Augusta, which is farther to the north, on the Kennebec River, is the seat of the State government for Maine. It is very generally the case that the States do not hold their legislatures and carry on their government at their chief towns. Augusta and not Portland is the capital of Maine. Of the State of New York, Albany is the capital, and not the city which bears the State's name. And of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg and not Philadelphia is the capital. I think the idea has been that old-fashioned notions were bad in that they were old fashioned; and that a new people, bound by no prejudices, might certainly make improvement by choosing for themselves new ways. If so, the American politicians have not been the first in the world who have thought that any change must be a change for the better. The assigned reason is the centrical position of the selected political capitals; but I have generally found the real commercial capital to be easier of access than the smaller town in which the two legislative houses are obliged to collect themselves.
What must be the natural excellence of the harbor of Portland, will be understood when it is borne in mind that the Great Eastern can enter it at all times, and that it can lay along the wharves at any hour of the tide. The wharves which have been prepared for her— and of which I will say a word further by-and-by—are joined to, and in fact, are a portion of, the station of the Grand Trunk Railway, which runs from Portland up to Canada. So that passengers landing at Portland out of a vessel so large even as the Great Eastern can walk at once on shore, and goods can be passed on to the railway without any of the cost of removal. I will not say that there is no other harbor in the world that would allow of this, but I do not know any other that would do so.
From Portland a line of railway, called as a whole by the name of the Canada Grand Trunk Line, runs across the State of Maine, through the northern parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, to Montreal, a branch striking from Richmond, a little within the limits of Canada, to Quebec, and down the St. Lawrence to Riviere du Loup. The main line is continued from Montreal, through Upper Canada to Toronto, and from thence to Detroit in the State of Michigan. The total distance thus traversed is, in a direct line, about 900 miles. From Detroit there is railway communications through the immense Northwestern States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, than which perhaps the surface of the globe affords no finer districts for purposes of agriculture. The produce of the two Canadas must be poured forth to the Eastern world, and the men of the Eastern world must throng into these lands by means of this railroad, and, as at present arranged, through the harbor of Portland. At present the line has been opened, and they who have opened are sorely suffering in pocket for what they have done. The question of the railway is rather one applying to Canada than to the State of Maine, and I will therefore leave it for the present.
But the Great Eastern has never been to Portland, and as far as I know has no intention of going there. She was, I believe, built with that object. At any rate, it was proclaimed during her building that such was her destiny, and the Portlanders believed it with a perfect faith. They went to work and built wharves expressly for her; two wharves prepared to fit her two gangways, or ways of exit and entrance. They built a huge hotel to receive her passengers. They prepared for her advent with a full conviction that a millennium of trade was about to be wafted to their happy port. "Sir, the town has expended two hundred thousand dollars in expectation of that ship, and that ship has deceived us." So was the matter spoken of to me by an intelligent Portlander. I explained to that intelligent gentleman that two hundred thousand dollars would go a very little way toward making up the loss which the ill-fortuned vessel had occasioned on the other side of the water. He did not in words express gratification at this information, but he looked it. The matter was as it were a partnership without deed of contract between the Portlanders and the shareholders of the vessel, and the Portlanders, though they also have suffered their losses, have not had the worst of it.
But there are still good days in store for the town. Though the Great Eastern has not gone there, other ships from Europe, more profitable if less in size, must eventually find their way thither. At present the Canada line of packets runs to Portland only during those months in which it is shut out from the St. Lawrence and Quebec by ice. But the St. Lawrence and Quebec cannot offer the advantages which Portland enjoys, and that big hotel and those new wharves will not have been built in vain.
I have said that a good time is coming, but I would by no means wish to signify that the present times in Portland are bad. So far from it that I doubt whether I ever saw a town with more evident signs of prosperity. It has about it every mark of ample means, and no mark of poverty. It contains about 27,000 people, and for that population covers a very large space of ground. The streets are broad and well built, the main streets not running in those absolutely straight parallels which are so common in American towns, and are so distressing to English eyes and English feelings. All these, except the streets devoted exclusively to business, are shaded on both sides by trees, generally, if I remember rightly, by the beautiful American elm, whose drooping boughs have all the grace of the willow without its fantastic melancholy. What the poorer streets of Portland may be like, I cannot say. I saw no poor street. But in no town of 30,000 inhabitants did I ever see so many houses which must require an expenditure of from six to eight hundred a year to maintain them.
The place, too, is beautifully situated. It is on a long promontory, which takes the shape of a peninsula, for the neck which joins it to the main-land is not above half a mile across. But though the town thus stands out into the sea, it is not exposed and bleak. The harbor, again, is surrounded by land, or so guarded and locked by islands as to form a series of salt-water lakes running round the town. Of those islands there are, of course, three hundred and sixty-five. Travelers who write their travels are constantly called upon to record that number, so that it may now be considered as a superlative in local phraseology, signifying a very great many indeed. The town stands between two hills, the suburbs or outskirts running up on to each of them. The one looking out toward the sea is called Mountjoy, though the obstinate Americans will write it Munjoy on their maps. From thence the view out to the harbor and beyond the harbor to the islands is, I may not say unequaled, or I shall be guilty of running into superlatives myself, but it is in its way equal to anything I have seen. Perhaps it is more like Cork harbor, as seen from certain heights over Passage, than anything else I can remember; but Portland harbor, though equally landlocked, is larger; and then from Portland harbor there is, as it were, a river outlet running through delicious islands, most unalluring to the navigator, but delicious to the eyes of an uncommercial traveler. There are in all four outlets to the sea, one of which appears to have been made expressly for the Great Eastern. Then there is the hill looking inward. If it has a name, I forget it. The view from this hill is also over the water on each side, and, though not so extensive, is perhaps as pleasing as the other.
The ways of the people seemed to be quiet, smooth, orderly, and republican. There is nothing to drink in Portland, of course; for, thanks to Mr. Neal Dow, the Father Matthew of the State of Maine, the Maine liquor law is still in force in that State. There is nothing to drink, I should say, in such orderly houses as that I selected. "People do drink some in the town, they say," said my hostess to me, "and liquor is to be got. But I never venture to sell any. An ill-natured person might turn on me; and where should I be then?" I did not press her, and she was good enough to put a bottle of porter at my right hand at dinner, for which I observed she made no charge. "But they advertise beer in the shop windows," I said to a man who was driving me—"Scotch ale and bitter beer. A man can get drunk on them." "Waal, yes. If he goes to work hard, and drinks a bucketful," said the driver, "perhaps he may." From which and other things I gathered that the men of Maine drank pottle deep before Mr. Neal Dow brought his exertions to a successful termination.
The Maine liquor law still stands in Maine, and is the law of the land throughout New England; but it is not actually put in force in the other States. By this law no man may retail wine, spirits, or, in truth, beer, except with a special license, which is given only to those who are presumed to sell them as medicines. A man may have what he likes in his own cellar for his own use—such, at least, is the actual working of the law—but may not obtain it at hotels and public houses. This law, like all sumptuary laws, must fail. And it is fast failing even in Maine. But it did appear to me, from such information as I could collect, that the passing of it had done much to hinder and repress a habit of hard drinking which was becoming terribly common, not only in the towns of Maine, but among the farmers and hired laborers in the country.
But, if the men and women of Portland may not drink, they may eat; and it is a place, I should say, in which good living on that side of the question is very rife. It has an air of supreme plenty, as though the agonies of an empty stomach were never known there. The faces of the people tell of three regular meals of meat a day, and of digestive powers in proportion. O happy Portlanders, if they only knew their own good fortune! They get up early, and go to bed early. The women are comely and sturdy, able to take care of themselves, without any fal-lal of chivalry, and the men are sedate, obliging, and industrious. I saw the young girls in the streets coming home from their tea parties at nine o'clock, many of them alone, and all with some basket in their hands, which betokened an evening not passed absolutely in idleness. No fear there of unruly questions on the way, or of insolence from the ill- conducted of the other sex. All was, or seemed to be, orderly, sleek, and unobtrusive. Probably, of all modes of life that are allotted to man by his Creator, life such as this is the most happy. One hint, however, for improvement, I must give even to Portland: It would be well if they could make their streets of some material harder than sand.
I must not leave the town without desiring those who may visit it to mount the observatory. They will from thence get the best view of the harbor and of the surrounding land; and, if they chance to do so under the reign of the present keeper of the signals, they will find a man there able and willing to tell them everything needful about the State of Maine in general and the harbor in particular. He will come out in his shirt sleeves, and, like a true American, will not at first be very smooth in his courtesy; but he will wax brighter in conversation, and, if not stroked the wrong way, will turn out to be an uncommonly pleasant fellow. Such I believe to be the case with most of them.
From Portland we made our way up to the White Mountains, which lay on our route to Canada. Now, I would ask any of my readers who are candid enough to expose their own ignorance whether they ever heard, or at any rate whether they know anything, of the White Mountains? As regards myself, I confess that the name had reached my ears; that I had an indefinite idea that they formed an intermediate stage between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghanies; and that they were inhabited either by Mormons, Indians, or simply by black bears. That there was a district in New England containing mountain scenery superior to much that is yearly crowded by tourists in Europe, that this is to be reached with ease by railways and stagecoaches, and that it is dotted with huge hotels almost as thickly as they lie in Switzerland, I had no idea. Much of this scenery, I say, is superior to the famed and classic lands of Europe. I know nothing, for instance, on the Rhine equal to the view from Mount Willard down the mountain pass called the Notch.