THE FEDERAL STATES.
AUTHOR OF "CAVOUR, A MEMOIR;" "ROME IN 1860;"
IN TWO VOLUMES.
London and Cambridge:
MACMILLAN AND CO.
[The Right of Translation is reserved.]
Notes of the War.
IF I had ever professed to be an amateur military critic, my experience in America would have disgusted me with the task. I used to hear and read so much of profound military speculations from men who knew even less about the science of war than I did myself, that I got almost to disbelieve in the existence of such an art at all. I plead guilty to an heretical belief that even the recognised professors of the science talk about a basis of operations, a concentrated movement, a system of strategy, in order to invest themselves with an uncalled-for appearance of profundity. I remember Mr. Hawthorne once remarking to me about a certain metaphysical philosopher, that he never knew a man who had such a talent for confusing a simple
2question, and I confess that this talent seems to me to be largely developed amongst military critics. At Washington, during the war, every militia officer, and everybody who might have been a militia officer, and everybody whose friend had, might, would or could have been an officer, considered himself justified in talking about Jomini and Vauban and the science of strategics. My own impression is, that in the American war there was very little possibility for scientific operations of any kind; and that if there was such a possibility, it certainly was not improved. However, right or wrong, I have no intention of filling my pages with descriptions of the military campaign. When I was in Italy two years ago, during the Garibaldian war, of all the facts and incidents connected with it, the one which brought the war nearest home to my mind, was a scene I once witnessed in the back streets of Naples. It was at the time when the siege of Capua was going on, and a decisive battle was hourly expected. I had been hunting up and down the low purlieus of Naples, to look after a refugee who was keeping out of sight, and to whom I was anxious to deliver a letter. I was passing up the narrow squalid staircase of one of the deserted palaces, where hundreds of poor families appear to burrow in one common wretchedness. I had not succeeded in finding the object of my search, and was making my way out as rapidly as I could, when an old woman rushed out, and,
3in the rapid Neapolitan patois, besought me to tell her, for the love of God and of the Holy Virgin, whether it was true that there had been a battle. I tried to make her understand, in the best Neapolitan that I could muster up, that for twenty-four hours at least there was no prospect of a fight. "Graz' a Dio!" was her ejaculation, repeated many times; and then, turning to me, she said, in explanation, "C'e il figlio unico nell' armata, Lei mi scusi;
So, what little I have recorded of this American campaign, are some few incidents in its course which came under my own notice. These, with the reflections that at the time they forced upon me, are the sole contributions that I shall give to the military history of the war.
In a book, too clever to have been so soon forgotten, I remember meeting, years ago, with a passage which, at the time, struck me strangely. I speak of the "Travels of a Roving Englishman." The recollection of the exact words has passed from me, but the sense of the passage was after this fashion. The writer told you how he stood one day at the latticed window of a high gable-roofed house, looking out upon the lime-shadowed
4market-place of a great city in the fair German land, when the loud, glorious music of an Austrian band came crashing by; and how, as the music died away, and was followed by the dull, heavy tramp of the soldiers' feet, the thought passed across him, that this grand music might have much to answer for in the nation's history; that the strains of glory and pomp and war, which the band seemed to send thrilling through you, were such as no people could listen to daily without danger.
While at Washington I recalled this passage often. From the windows of my lodgings, I looked out upon the mile-long Pennsylvania Avenue, leading from the broad Potomac river, by the marble palace of the President's, up to the snow-white Capitol, and every hour of the day almost I was disturbed while writing by the sound of some military band, as regiment after regiment passed, marching southwards. The Germans have brought with them into their new fatherland the instinct of instrumental music, and the bands are fine ones, above the average of those of a French or English line regiment. The tunes were mostly those well known to us across the water — "Cheer boys, cheer," the "Red, White, and Blue," and "Dixie's Land," being the favourites. For the war had brought out hitherto no war-inspired melody, and the quaint, half-grotesque, half passion-stirring air of
5was still under McClellan's interdict. But yet, be the tunes what they may, the drums and fifes and trumpets rouse the same heart-beatings as in the Old World, and teach the same lessons of glory and ambition and martial pride. Can this teaching fail to work? is the question that I asked myself daily, as yet without an answer.
Surely no nation in the world has gone through such a baptism of war as the people of the United States underwent in one short year's time. With the men of the Revolution the memories of the revolutionary wars had died out. Two generations had passed away to whom war was little more than a name. The Mexican campaign was rather a military demonstration than an actual war, and the sixteen years which had elapsed since its termination form a long period in the life of a nation whose whole existence has not completed its first century. Twenty months ago there were not more than 12,000 soldiers in a country of 31,000,000. A soldier was as rare an object throughout America as in one of our country hamlets. I recollect a Northern lady telling me that, till within a year before, she could not recall the name of a single person whom she had ever known in the army, and that now she had sixty friends and relatives who were serving in the war; and her case was by no means an uncommon one. Once in four years, on the fourth of March, two or three thousand troops were collected in Washington to add to the
6pomp of the Presidential inauguration; and this was the one military pageant the country had to boast of. Almost in a day this state of things passed away. Our English critics were so fond of repeating what the North could not do — how it could not fight, nor raise money, nor conquer the South — that they omitted to mention what the North had done. There was no need to go farther than my windows at Washington to see the immensity of the war. It was curious to me to watch the troops as they came marching past. Whether they were regulars or volunteers, it was hard for the unprofessional critic to discern; for all were clad alike, in the same dull, grey-blue overcoats, and most of the few regular regiments were filled with such raw recruits that the difference between volunteer and regular was not a marked one. Of course it was easy enough to pick faults in the aspect of such troops. As each regiment marched, or rather waded through the dense slush and mud which covered the roads, you could observe many inaccuracies of military attire. One man would have his trousers rolled up almost to his knees; another would wear them tucked inside his boots; and a third would appear with one leg of his trousers hanging down, and the other gathered tightly up. It was not unfrequent, too, to see an officer with his epaulettes sewed on to a common plain frock-coat. Then there was a slouching gait about the men, not soldier-like to English eyes. They used to turn their heads
7round when on parade, with an indifference to rule which would drive an old drill-sergeant out of his senses. There was an absence, also, of precision in the march. The men kept in step; but I always was at a loss to discover how they ever managed to do so. The system of march, it is true, was copied rather from the French than the English or Austrian fashion; but still it was something very different from the orderly disorder of a Zouave march. That all these, and a score of similar irregularities, are faults, no one — an American least of all — would deny. But there are two sides to the picture.
One thing is certain, that there is no physical degeneracy about a race which could produce such regiments as those which formed the army of the Potomac. Men of high stature and burly frames were rare, except in the Kentucky troops; but, on the other hand, small, stunted men were almost unknown. I have seen the armies of most European countries; and I have no hesitation in saying that, as far as the average raw material of the rank and file is concerned, the American army is the finest. The officers are, undoubtedly, the weak point of the system. They have not the military air, the self-possession which long habit of command alone can give; while the footing of equality on which they inevitably stand with the volunteer privates, deprives them of the esprit du corps belonging to a ruling class. Still they are active, energetic, and
8constantly with their troops. Wonderfully well equipped too, at this period of the war, were both officers and men. Their clothing was substantial and fitted easily, their arms were good, and the military arrangements were as perfect as money alone could make them. It was remarkable to me how rapidly the new recruits fell into the habits of military service. I have seen a Pennsylvanian regiment, raised chiefly from the mechanics of Philadelphia, which, six weeks after its formation, was, in my eyes, equal to the average of our best-trained volunteer corps, as far as marching and drill-exercise went. Indeed, I often asked myself what it was that made the Northern volunteer troops look, as a rule, so much more soldier-like than our own. I suppose the reason is, that across the Atlantic there was actual war, and that at home there was at most only a parade. I have no doubt that, in the event of civil war or invasion, England would raise a million volunteers as rapidly as America has done — more rapidly she could not; and that, when fighting had once begun, there would only be too much of grim earnestness about our soldiering; but it is no want of patriotism to say that the American volunteers looked to me more business-like than our own. At the scene of war itself there was no playing at soldiering. No gaudy uniforms or crack companies, no distinction of classes. From every part of the North; from the ports of New York and Boston; from the homesteads of New England; from the mines
9of Pennsylvania and the factories of Pittsburgh; from the shores of the great lakes; from the Mississippi valley; and from the far-away Texan prairies, these men had come to fight for the Union. It is idle to talk of their being attracted by the pay alone. Large as it is, the pay of thirteen dollars a month is only two dollars more than the ordinary pay of privates in the Federal army during peace times. Thirteen shillings a week is poor pay for a labouring man in America, even with board, especially during this war, when the wages of unskilled labour amounted to from twenty to thirty shillings a week. It is false, moreover, to assert, as the opponents of the North are fond of doing, that the Federal armies were composed exclusively, or even principally, of foreigners. In the North, the proportion of foreign immigrants to native-born Americans is about thirty per cent., and the same proportions were observed in the Federal volunteer army. Judging from my own observation, I should say that the per-centage of foreigners amongst the privates of the army of the Potomac was barely ten per cent. But, in the West, which is almost peopled with Germans, foreigners are, probably, in the majority. The bulk of the native volunteers consisted of men who had given up good situations in order to enlist, and who had families to support at home; and for such men the additional pay was not an adequate inducement to incur the dangers and hardships of war. Of course, wherever there is an army, the scum of the population will
10always be gathered together; but the average morale and character of the couple of hundred thousand troops collected round Washington was extremely good. There was very little outward drunkenness, and less brawling about the streets than if half a dozen English militia regiments had been quartered there. The number of papers purchased daily by the common soldiers, and the amount of letters which they sent through the military post, was astonishing to a foreigner, though less strange when you considered that every man in that army, with the exception of a few recent immigrants, could both read and write. The ministers, also, of the different sects, who went out on the Sundays to preach to the troops, found no difficulty in obtaining large and attentive audiences.
The general impression left upon me by my observations of the army of the Potomac was a very favourable one. All day, and every day while I resided at Washington, the scene before my eyes was one of war. An endless military panorama seemed to be unrolling itself ceaselessly. Sometimes it was a line of artillery struggling and floundering onwards through the mud — sometimes it was a company of wild Texan cavalry, rattling past, with the jingle of their belts and spurs. Sometimes it was a long train of sutlers' waggons, ambulance vans, or forage-carts, drawn by the shaggy Pennsylvanian mules. Orderlies innumerable galloped up and down, patrols without end passed along the pavements, and at
11every window and doorstep and street corner you saw soldiers standing. You had to go far away from Washington to leave the war behind you. If you went up to any high point in the city whence you could look over the surrounding country, every hill-side seemed covered with camps. The white tents caught your eye on all sides; and across the river, where the dense brushwood obscured the prospect, the great army of the Potomac stretched miles away, right up to the advanced posts of the Confederates, south of the far-famed Manassas. The numbers were so vast that it was hard to realize them. During one week fifty thousand men were embarked from Washington, and yet the town and neighbourhood still swarmed with troops and camps, as it seemed, undiminished in number. And here, remember, I saw only one portion of the gigantic army. Along a line of two thousand miles or so, from the Potomac down to New Mexico, there were at that time Federal armies fighting their way southwards. At Fortress Monroe too, Ship Island, Mobile, and at every accessible point along the Atlantic seaboard, expeditions numbered by tens of thousands were stationed, waiting for the signal to advance. At this time the muster-roll of the Federal army numbered 672,000 men, or, at least, that number were drawing pay daily from the Treasury, though a large allowance must be made for absentees and non-effectives.
Try to realize all this, and then picture to yourself
12what its effect, seen in fact, and not portrayed by feeble description, must be upon a nation unused to war. The wonder to me is, that the American people were not more intoxicated with the consciousness of their new-born strength. Still the military passion — the lust of war — is a plant of rapid growth, and that, when the war is over, the nation will lay down their arms at once, and return to the arts of peace, is a thing more to be hoped for than expected. I recollect at the time reading an article in an English periodical of high repute, wherein the writer characterized as an acknowledged fact, the essentially blackguardly nature of the whole American war; and amidst some very clever discussion about the essence of a gentleman, paused to point a pungent paragraph by a sneer at the Federal army. Children play with lucifer-matches amongst powder-barrels, and, probably, the class of writers of whom this gentleman is a type, have not the faintest notion that, by words like these, they are sowing the seeds of war. Still, for the credit of their own country, I wish they would remember that power and strength and will, however misapplied, are never essentially blackguardly, and that there is something in an army of half a million men raised in six months' time, worth thinking about as well as sneering at.
How bitterly Americans feel this sort of ill-natured comment from English critics, it is hard for anybody who has not lived in the country to appreciate. I
13recollect arguing once with a Northern gentleman, whose name as an author is known and honoured in this country, about what seemed to me his unreasonable animosity towards England. After a concession on his part, that possibly his feelings were morbidly exaggerated, he turned round and pointed to the portrait of a very near and dear relative of his — a brave, handsome lad — who had been killed a few months before when leading his men into action at the fatal defeat of Ball's Bluff. "How," he said to me, "would you like, yourself, to read constantly that that lad died in a miserable cause, and, as an American officer, should be called a coward?" And I own to that argument I could make no adequate reply. Let me quote, too, a paragraph from a letter I received the other day from another friend of mine, whose works have been read eagerly wherever the English tongue is spoken. "I have," he wrote, "a stake in this contest, which makes me nervous and tremulous and impatient of contradiction. I have a noble boy, a captain in one of our regiments, which has been fearfully decimated by battle and disease, and himself twice wounded within a hair's-breadth of his life." If you consider that in almost every Northern family there is thus some personal interest at stake in the war, it is not to be wondered at if the nation itself is also unduly impatient of contradiction.
But I have been wandering away from the subject
14of the army. At the period when I reached Washington (the beginning of March) the advance of the Potomac army was daily expected. I took an early opportunity of visiting the camp. By the kindness of General McClellan — kindness which, I would add, was extended freely to every English visitor — I had a pass furnished me on any occasion when I wished to cross the lines. I have taken few prettier or pleasanter rides in my life than those which I made at different times through the broken uplands of Virginia. One morning I can recall in particular, when I started in company with Mr. Russell and two other English gentlemen, to visit Blencker's division. It was a lovely spring morning, and the trees, which are but little more forward than those of England, were just beginning to show their first buds. The whole way from Washington to Georgetown — a distance of some three miles — was an unbroken line of sutlers' waggons, carrying out provisions to the army. Anything more like the long, low English suburb of a northern manufacturing town, than Georgetown, it is not possible to conceive; and if it had not been for the hosts of negroes which swarm about this — the black — quarter of Washington, I should have fancied myself home in England. At the river-side we were stopped by the sentries, had our passes carefully inspected, and then allowed to pass.
Close to this bridge the tide on the Potomac stops. The difference in the look of the river above and below
15Yorktown is very curious. Below, it is a great tidal river, as broad, though not as deep, as the Mersey at Liverpool. Above, it is a clear rapid stream, about the breadth of the Thames at Hammersmith. It was always a surprise to me that the planners of the City of Washington, who had a very definite conception in their heads of what they meant the capital to be like, seem to have contemplated making so little use of the river. Even if the original design of Washington had ever been carried out, the Potomac could hardly have been a feature in the town. Yet in any country but America it would rank among the grandest of rivers. As it is, Washington is just too far off to enjoy the view of the river, and too near to escape its odours. The White House, which stands nearer the Potomac than any other part of the City, is rendered very unhealthy by the accumulation of refuse and garbage, which the tide washes to and fro between the piles of the long chain-bridge.
With that quickness of invention which characterizes the Americans in all mechanical matters, the Federals had made a bridge across the Potomac by the device of letting the water out of a canal, which was carried over the river at Georgetown, and using the trough of the canal for a roadway. We rode at a foot's pace, in obedience to the sentry's orders, through the long narrow trench, which, with its planked sides, looked like an elongated coffin; and the moment we had emerged from it, we found ourselves not only in a new State, but in
16a new country. There is a marked and curious difference between the natural aspect of Virginia and Maryland. The latter is a bare open country, not unlike Sussex. The former is a wild, broken district, covered with brushwood. Our road lay through Arlington Park, the residence of the Confederate General Lee. It certainly must have required a good deal of patriotism to induce any man to leave such a pleasant residence for the hardships of a camp. But then it must be remembered that when the General with his family left his mansion at the outbreak of Secession, he was confident of returning in triumph within a few weeks. When the Federals took possession of the house, and turned it into the head-quarters of General Macdowell's division, they found the whole place just in the state that it would have been left if the owners had only intended to go away for a week's holiday. The ground belonging to the house must stretch over a space of some five or six square miles. Very little of the park is cultivated according to our English notion, and indeed it resembles much more nearly the hill-side of the vale of Albury, than Richmond Park or Blenheim. The timber, however — a circumstance which is rare in America — is remarkably fine, and the aspect of Washington owes the chief part of what little beauty it possesses to the wooded slopes of Arlington Heights, which face the city across the Potomac. Regard for this consideration, and for the
17historical associations with which the house is connected, and, above all, the social influence which General Lee possessed, had induced the Federal officers to use every precaution in order to protect the house and grounds from injury. The greatest difficulty was experienced in hindering the soldiers from cutting down the trees; and when at last Western regiments were stationed at Arlington Heights, it was found impossible to protect the timber. To soldiers from the backwoods' settlements it seemed simply absurd to suppose that any man could object to having his ground cleared for him; and no amount of argument or expostulation could persuade them that it was not one of the rights of man to cut down any tree he came across. Hence, by this time the park had been sadly devastated. It had, too, that dreary, deserted look which a park always has when there is nobody to look after it. The ground was so covered with stumps of trees and broken fences, that it was with difficulty we could pilot our horses through the brushwood. The regiments which were formerly encamped here had now moved onwards towards Manassas, and the only trace of the army was to be found in the number of blackened circles, which showed where camp-fires had been. Every now and then we could hear the booming of cannon towards the front, and constantly we heard, too, the less pleasant sound of the whirr of a rifle bullet, which showed us that, according to the fashion
18of the American army, some private or other was occupying his leisure in firing at any object he saw. Great attempts had been made to put a stop to this practice in the grounds of the park, where, from the dense character of the brushwood, it was extremely dangerous. But practically, with the extreme reluctance entertained to the infliction of any punishment on the volunteer soldiers, it was found impossible to enforce the prevention of this promiscuous shooting. After riding some miles across the park, we came out upon the main road, which led across the chain-bridge from Washington to the camp. At this period, the Government papers and the military authorities were all impressing on the public that, in the state of the Virginia roads, any immediate advance was out of the question. Now, on this and other occasions I saw the roads myself in their worst state, and in the very places where they had been most cut up by the passage of artillery. I confess frankly that the roads were shockingly bad. Like most of the American highways, they were hardly roads in our sense of the word, but mere tracks without any foundation. The soil of Virginia is a sort of sandy loam; and what with the rain and the passage of so many thousands of wheels, the surface of the high road had become a soft quick-sand, or slush, into which you sunk from one to two feet. It was not pleasant riding when every hundred yards or so your horse would stumble into a hollow
19and half bury himself and you in this "Slough of Despond." The only comfort was that, even if your horse fell down, the ground was so soft it was impossible for him to receive any injury. I saw artillery being dragged along these roads, and can bear witness to the fact that the task was one of great trouble and labour. Still, I doubt very much whether the condition of the roads was such as to render an advance impossible. They were not worse than many of the roads in the south of Italy, over which the Sardinian army marched in 1860. It was only for bits that these quagmires extended; and I suspect that, if any trouble had been taken to secure an efficient corps of road-makers, the roads might have been made passable without difficulty. It is possible that in this opinion I may do injustice to McClellan, but I fancy that the impassability of the Virginia roads was as much exaggerated as the impregnability of the earthworks at Manassas.
The rear of the army of the Potomac was then stationed three or four miles to the south of the river, while the front extended nearly as far as Centreville. It had been our purpose on this occasion to ride out as far as the outposts, but with that extraordinary variability which distinguishes the American climate, the sky had clouded over almost at once, and the temperature from that of summer had become as cold as it is us in the depth of winter. The snow began
20to fall in heavy flakes, and the wind blew as icy cold as if it came direct from the Arctic Ocean. In consequence, we changed our plans, and resolved to confine our visit to Blencker's division.
Of all camps I have seen, this of Blencker's seemed to me the most comfortable. Lying on a high table-land, the soil was dry; and the temperature in Virginia is rarely such for any length of time as to make living in the open air a severe trial. Every precaution, too, was taken to make the tents as warm as possible. Indeed, tents they could hardly be called. Each hut was floored with planks and fenced in with logs some three feet above the ground. The canvas tents were drawn tightly down over these log walls, so that very little air could penetrate, and each hut was provided with a stove; and except for the discomfort of having to sleep with two or three comrades in a space about eight feet square and seven high, I could not see that there was anything to complain of. The camp was arranged in a square intersected with broad passages parallel to each other. About the tents I looked there was an air of rough comfort, and in many cases of luxury; and both drainage and ventilation appeared excellent. The result of such care was shown in excellent health of the troops. Out of a body of some thousand men there were only thirty or so in the hospital; and most of these invalids were sufferers from drink or other maladies for which camp life is not
21directly responsible. Whether the result was equally favourable in training the men to undergo the hardships of a campaign I doubted at the time, and have seen cause since to doubt still more.
Blencker's division were the enfans perdus of the Federal army. Their commander even then enjoyed a most doubtful reputation, and the men justly or unjustly shared in the repute of the General. They had been moved as far away from Washington as possible, and not without cause. In the Potomac army commanded by McClellan the number of foreign regiments was at that period extremely small, and almost all of them were attached to Blencker's division. The camp I visited was filled with the black sheep of every nation under the sun. The word of command had to be given in four different languages, and the officers were foreigners almost without an exception. In a party with whom we spent the afternoon, there were officers who had served in the Papal brigade, the army of Francis II., the Garibaldian expedition, the British and Spanish legions, the wars of Baden, the Morocco campaign, and I know not where else beside. Both men and officers were a fine dare-devil looking set of fellows, and might doubtless have been made excellent soldiers with strict training. The difficulty here, as to a less excellent throughout the whole Federal army, was, that with a volunteer organization it was impossible to use the stern discipline necessary to break the troops into order.
At the time of my visit to Blencker's camp, the army was hourly awaiting orders to march on Manassas. Within a week or so afterwards, the news came, that the Confederates had evacuated the mud forts and quaker guns which had kept McClellan so long at bay, and were retiring upon Richmond. Ten days had not passed before Yankee energy had reconstructed the railroad which led from Alexandria to Manassas Gap; and the offer having been made me to accompany the first trial-trip after the completion of the line, I gladly availed myself of it. It was the loveliest of spring mornings when I left Washington early to join the expedition. A steamboat carried us from the foot of the chain-bridge to Alexandria. The wide river was covered with fleets of transports, dropping down with the tide to convey provisions to the army which had just begun to sail for the peninsula. The wharves of Alexandria were covered with troops waiting for embarkment. The great river-steamers, which lay alongside, were crowded with troops singing and cheering lustily. The whole nation was overjoyed at the thought that at last the day of the "masterly inaction" was over, and that the long-expected hour of victory had struck. The army shared in the general enthusiasm; and there were few, I think, who contemplated even the possibility of a temporary reverse. I own, laying claim as I do to no pretensions as a military authority, that I shared in that impression. It seems to me even now incredible at times, that that
23grand army, which I watched for days and weeks defiling through Washington, should not have swept all before it; and I confess, that I still believe its failure was due to want of generalship. The nation, at any rate, at that time was confident, proud of its General, proud of its army, proud of its coming victory; and when the "Young Napoleon," — with that affectation of the Napoleonic style he was so partial to — declared in the address he issued, almost on the day of which I write, that hereafter his troops "would ask no higher honour than the proud consciousness that they belonged to the army of the Potomac," he uttered a boast which found an echo in every Northern breast.
My companions on the excursion, among whom were Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. N. P. Willis, were all Northerners; and all of them, the ladies especially, showed a natural feeling of pride at the appearance of the troops about to start on that ill-fated expedition. It struck me, however, curiously at the time, how all the party talked about our excursion as if we were going to visit a strange country. The sacred soil of Virginia seemed as imperfectly known to them as Ireland is to myself; and they looked upon their excursion with much the same sort of interest as I should do on a trip across St. George's Channel.
Half an hour's sail brought us to Alexandria. Like most of the old Virginia and Maryland towns, it has a very English air about it: the red brick houses, the
24broad sleepy streets, the long straggling wharves might have been imported direct from Norfolk or Lincolnshire. The town itself was crammed with troops; but neither then nor on the other occasions when I visited it was there anything to be seen of the inhabitants. They had left the place for the most part, or lived in retirement. Closely connected as the little town is with Washington, it was bitterly "secesh;" and the citizens of Alexandria showed their dislike of the Federal army of occupation by every means in their power. The women, as may be supposed, displayed their animosity most outspokenly. Unless they were foully belied, they used to take pleasure in insulting the private soldiers with epithets which will not bear repetition. The common Yankee soldiers seemed to feel these insults from women with a susceptibility I felt it hard to account for. English soldiers, under like circumstances, would have retorted with language still more unmentionable, or would have adopted the spirit of General Butler's famous order without compunction. But the Americans appeared to writhe under these insults. The bad language of the Alexandria women was constantly complained of in the papers as a bitter personal injury. I remember one stalwart Massachusetts soldier in the hospital, who complained seriously, that when he was recovered, and went back to duty, he should be subjected again to the abuse of these Southern ladies; and said — "It was so hard to bear." It was here, by
25the way, that the first blood shed in the war was spilt by the murder of Lieutenant Ellsworth, when hoisting up the Union flag at the first outbreak of secession. A flag-staff, bearing the stars and stripes, had been erected on the house where he was killed; and, on that morning, it floated bravely in the sunlight, as though in honour of the approaching Union triumphs.
At the wharf, a train was waiting to convey our party. It was the first which had started, and the resumption of the traffic was the sign of returning peace and order. But the event excited no comment in that sullen, gloomy town, and only a few boys and negroes were collected together to witness our departure. Slowly we moved on through the dead streets till we reached the camps outside the town, and then passing onwards at an increased speed, we were soon in the hilly Virginia country, which a few days before had been occupied by the Confederate forces.
The country through which our road lay impressed me strangely with a sense of desolation. If the reader knows the Surrey downs, near Albury, and can fancy what they would be, if the mansions and cottages were all removed, if the woods were replaced by pine forests, if the place of roads was supplied by mud tracks, and if the whole district was intersected by steep gullies filled with clear sparkling torrent streams, he will have a pretty good notion of what Northern Virginia is like. For miles and miles together you passed through long
26tracts of pine-wood, broken by patches of deserted fields, where the brushwood was growing up again amidst the stumps of the forest trees, which had been cleared years ago. Every now and then you came to an open space, where you caught a glimpse of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains, and then you passed again into the gloomy pine-wood shade. Along the journey of twenty miles or so, you never saw a village; and the number of houses that you passed might be counted on your fingers. In the fields there was no one working; the snake fences were broken down; at the roadside stations there were no passengers; and the few people loitering about gazed sullenly at us as we passed. Actual traces of the war there were not many. We passed a few deserted camps, and a house or two which had been burnt down by one of the two armies which had occupied the soil in turn; but that was all. Indeed, the look of desolation could have proceeded but partially from the presence of the war. I never saw the same aspect elsewhere, even in States which had suffered as much from invasion. The state of the fields and fences, and roads and farmhouses, betokened a decay of much longer standing than that of a year's time. The exhaustion of the soil, even more than the havoc of men, was the cause of the deserted air which hung over everything. With the wasteful system of tobacco-growing and slave labour, Virginia is rapidly sinking back into its primitive desolation.
At last we emerged from the pine-woods, and began to ascend by a steep incline — an open table-land — at whose foot run the now famous stream of Bull Run. Here we had to move slowly, and stop every few hundred yards to remove huge logs, which had been rolled across the rails to obstruct the passage. Then, reaching the top of the incline, we found ourselves in the centre of Manassas camp. It had hardly yet been visited since the departure of the Confederates; everything which could be destroyed had been burnt before their retreat; and the whole ground for miles was covered with the débris of an army's stores. Smashed carriages, broken arms, empty coffins, charred planks, decaying skeletons of horses, pots, pans, and cartridges, lay heaped together in a weird disorder. A detachment of Federal soldiers were on duty there, collecting any remnants of the stores which were worth preserving; but, otherwise, there was not a soul visible. The few soldiers' huts which were left standing were knocked hastily together with the rudest planks, and swarmed inside with vermin of every description. A foul smell of charred animal matter hung about the place, and flights of crows were feeding upon the garbage strewn on every side. The whole ground was covered with stray leaves of tracts and bibles, which some southern religious society had obviously been distributing amongst the troops. Letters, too, were to be picked up by dozens; and, indeed, the collectors of
28curiosities amongst our party had their researches richly rewarded.
As to the value of the fortifications, I could form no opinion. To me they appeared of the rudest and poorest description of earthworks; and I fancy were intended rather to protect the retreat of the army in case of a sudden attack, than to keep off the enemy. On the other hand, the position of Manassas in itself was obviously a strong one. The wide plateau on which it stood sloped down rapidly towards the North; so that an army advancing from Washington would have had to mount this slope, exposed to the full fire of the enemy's batteries. At this time, by the way, there was an embittered discussion going on in the American press, as to whether the Confederates had manned their works with wooden cannon, in order to give a false impression of strength. The anti-slavery party asserted positively that such was the case, and that McClellan had been frightened from attacking Manassas by a scarecrow. The democratic party asserted as stoutly that the whole story was an invention. Curious to say, the fact of the existence of the "quaker guns" was never either demonstrated or disproved. I can only say, that soldiers I saw at Manassas assured me that they had seen the wooden cannon on their first arrival. On the other hand, persons who took more trouble to investigate the truth came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of the fact; but to me the
29definite result seemed to be that, from some cause or other, the Federal commanders failed invariably to obtain reliable information as to the position and movements of the Southern army.
Our visit was but a short one, for the train had to return early, in order to avoid the risk of travelling through that half-hostile country after dark. On our return to the cars, we came upon a strange living evidence of the results of this strange war. Huddled together upon a truck were a group of some dozen runaway slaves. There were three men, four women, and half a dozen children. Anything more helpless or wretched than their aspect I never saw. Miserably clothed, footsore, and weary, they crouched in the hot sunlight more like animals than men. They seemed to have no idea, no plan, and no distinct purpose. They were field-hands, on a farm some score of miles off, and had walked all night; so at least they told us. Now they were going North as far as Washington, which appeared to them the end of the world. They had no fear of being recaptured, partly, I think, because they had reached Northern troops, still more because their home seemed to them so far away. With the exception of one woman, who was going to look for her husband, who was hired out somewhere in the District of Columbia, they talked as if they had no friends or acquaintances in the new land they were travelling to. For the present they were content that they
30could sit in the sun without being forced to work. Some of our party gave them money, and broken victuals which they valued more. I overheard one of the men saying to a woman, as he munched some white bread he had picked up, "Massa never gave us food like that." Poor things, if their idea of freedom was white bread and rest, they must have been disappointed bitterly! As strangers and guests of official personages, it was impossible for us to do anything for them. We got them a lift upon the truck to Alexandria. But whenever I think of that incident, I wish that we could have done, that we had done, more. Before we reached the town they got down, and our roads parted. What became of them heaven knows.
Instead of returning by the river from Alexandria, the train carried us to the foot of the long chain-bridge which crosses the Potomac in front of Washington. For hours we found it impossible to cross, as a division of 16,000 men were marching over on their way to Alexandria, to embark for the peninsula. With colours flying, and bands playing, regiment after regiment defiled past us. In the grey evening light the long endless files bore a phantom aspect. The men were singing, shouting, cheering; under cover of the darkness, they chanted "John Brown's Hymn," in defiance of McClellan's orders, and the heavy tramp of a thousand feet beat time to that strange
31weird melody. As the New England regiments passed our train, they shouted to us to tell the people at home that we had seen them in Dixie's Land, and on the way to Richmond. Ah, me! how many, I wonder, of those who flitted before us in the twilight, came home themselves to tell their own story?
TOWARDS the middle of last April Washington was growing empty. Willard's Hotel was rapidly losing its customers, and the managers were fast becoming oppressively civil, even to a single one-trunk-and-carpet-bag traveller like myself. Pennsylvania Avenue was no longer crowded with artillery and baggage-waggons. Officers had become few in number, passes had ceased to be required for crossing the now-deserted lines, and the weekly receptions of senators and representatives were being dropped one by one. All these symptoms were hints to a traveller to move elsewhere. Indeed, I should have gone some weeks before, but for three causes. The first was, that after some two or three weeks of spring as warm as most English summers, we had heavy falls of snow, covering the ground for days together; the second was, that my introductions had made society in Washington so pleasant to me, that it was with reluctance I parted from it; and thirdly, and lastly, I experienced a difficulty which
33almost all travellers must have felt of making up your mind where to go to, when there is no particular reason why you should go to one place more than to another. Naturally, my first inclination would have been to go "on to Richmond" with the grand army of the Potomac, but unfortunately there were many objections to such a proceeding. In the first place, I had such confidence in the "masterly inactivity," as the New York Herald used to style it, of General McClellan's tactics, that I doubted, as it proved with reason, whether I might not be kept waiting at Fortress Monroe for weeks to come. In the second, I strongly suspected that if I did follow the army, I should see very little but the smoke of the cannon in the event of a battle; and, lastly — but why should I go on, unmindful of Queen Elizabeth's answer to the magistrates of Falmouth in the matter of their not ringing the town bells, and enumerate the reasons why I did not go with the Potomac army, when there was one simple and decisive argument, and that was that I could not. I was supposed, rightly or wrongly, to be connected with the English press, and on this ground was denied access to the Richmond expedition, by orders of the Secretary of War. It is useless trying to conceal anything in America. Before I had been a couple of weeks in the country, my name, antecedents, and history, and good deal of personal intelligence that was perfectly novel to myself, was published in
34the American papers. Under these circumstances, it was little use seeking to obtain permission to visit the peninsula, and I had received such uniform courtesy from all American officials I had hitherto come across, that I did not like to disturb the pleasing tenor of my recollections, by exposing my self to the probability of a discourteous refusal from Mr. Stanton.
So, in fact, my choice of directions in which to travel was limited. The orders of the War Department precluded my journeying East, the insurrection would not allow me to go South, and the cold forbade me from travelling North. The only path open to me lay westward in the track of the war, and it was this path I resolved to follow. My road lay through Western Virginia, whence the Confederates had just retreated, through Ohio, the great Border Free State, through Kentucky, the chief of the Union Slave States, whose loyalty, to say the most, had been a half-hearted neutrality, down to Tennessee, the stronghold and battlefield of the Confederates in the West.
I left Washington in the early morning, on the day when the President signed the measure for the emancipation of the slaves in the district of Columbia, a bright promise, as it proved, of a brighter future. By the way, the night before I left, a Washington friend of mine, the most lukewarm of Abolitionists, told me an incident worth relating: He had been driving that day in
35hired carriage, whose coachman, an old negro, he had known for years. To his astonishment the driver mistook his way repeatedly. At last my friend grew angry, and asked the man what ailed him. "Ah, massa," the negro answered; "all this matter about the emancipation has got into my head somehow, and I feel stunned like." Well, in the words of a dear friend of mine,
36camp squatted down in every village. As a gentleman, who is known as one of the acutest of observers, once said to me, "negroes are just like a man you meet, who is an uncommonly pleasant companion for half an hour, but whom you find a monstrous bore when you are shut up all alone with him for a long rainy day." While I remained in America I was still in the early stage of investigation, and could hardly appreciate the evident distaste which even the stanchest Free soilers have for the black race. A very strong Republican confessed to me on one occasion that he could never shake hands with a negro without instinctive repugnance, and this feeling is, I suspect, a very universal one throughout the Free States. In Maryland, as in all slave countries, there prevails a more kindly feeling towards the individual negro. In the car in which I travelled from Washington, black men came in and out freely, and the white passengers seemed to have no objection to their contact. Indeed, in one or two cases, I saw men get up to make room for negro women, who, in justice I must add, were neither young nor pretty. By one of the barbarous laws of the black code of Maryland, the Washington railroad is forbidden to take free coloured people as passengers unless they can obtain a bond from some responsible householder, for a thousand dollars, to indemnify the company in case of their being claimed afterwards as fugitive slaves. Of course, this rule was always evaded, whenever
37the negro was personally known to the railroad officials, and during the war everything was in such confusion that, I fancy, it was rarely enforced. Barring this provision, coloured people may pass freely in the cars of the Baltimore and Ohio line. There is not, indeed, the absolute equality in American railway travelling that we fancy in Europe. I dare say the reader may have observed how on our penny river steamboats, where there is no difference of fares, and no division of classes, yet, somehow or other, the working poor generally congregate in the bows of the vessel, rarely in the more aristocratic stern. The same thing happens across the Atlantic. On all American lines there is always one car, generally the one nearest the engine, where, without notice or order, the common soldiers, the working men, and the negroes take their places naturally. There is nothing to hinder a roughshod, mud-covered soldier from sitting in the hinder cars, but he rarely does so. How far a man of colour might be liable to insult if he placed himself amidst the genteel society, I cannot say. It is certain he would feel uncomfortable, and avoids the experiment. The western line of the Baltimore and Ohio turns off at the famous Relay Bridge, the junction of the Washington and the Wheeling railroads, which the Confederates tried in vain to blow up at the first outburst of hostilities. The country was in look much the same as when I passed through it some six weeks before. The leaves
38were but little more forward, and the fields and villages still bore the same dreary deserted aspect. But in one respect there was a marked difference. The camps along the line were removed, there were few roadside pickets, and the army had passed away. In Appleton's Handbook, which is the Bradshaw of America, the only notice taken of the civil war is that the time-tables of some half the railroads are left blank without notices of trains. Along the Border States the progress of the war might have been traced month by month, by watching the increase of new blanks, or the disappearance of old ones. When I first came to Washington, the Baltimore and Ohio route still presented a blank in the pages of the Guide Book. At that period the line was in the hands of the Confederates, and Western Virginia was in a great measure subject to the rule of the Government at Richmond. Now, within a few days' time, the line had been reopened, and the Confederate forces had been forced to retire from every point along the route. Still the railroad was not much in favour with the public. The whole of the railway officials, like all inhabitants of slave-holding States, were very lukewarm Unionists, and just before the reopening of the line a proposal that all the servants of the Company should be required to take the oath of allegiance was rejected by a Board of Directors at Baltimore, by a majority of six teen to seven. There were stories, too, of Southern
39"bush-whackers" wandering about in the wild mountain countries through which the line runs, and trying to tear up the rails and upset the trains. A long Italian experience had utterly destroyed my faith in brigands of any kind, and I certainly had no intention of going some hundred of miles out of my way in order to avoid an imaginary bush-whacker. Distances are so enormous in America that an Englishman finds it hard to realize them. My first day's journey, which was to take me from the eastern to the western frontier of the single State of Virginia, was four hundred miles in length — as far as from London to Edinburgh.
At the Relay Bridge we first began our real journey into the quondam dominions of Secession. Our train was a short one of two or three cars in all, filled chiefly with soldiers returning to their regiments stationed along the line, a good number of way passengers, going to visit their property or friends in the recovered districts, and a few travellers, like myself, journeying towards the West. There was not much of political conversation in the carriages. Every now and then, as we passed a detachment of Union soldiers, some Northern ladies in the car waved their handkerchiefs; but the bulk of the passengers made no demonstration. A Baltimore lady, who sat next me, and who assumed as I saw all Southern people did — that, being an Englishman, I was in heart favourable to the Confederate cause, communicated to me her indignation at
40the treatment of the South; and, informed me, amongst other things, that if the women of Baltimore could only catch Wendell Phillips, they would not leave a bone unbroken in his body. She was so perfectly frank in her statements, that I do not doubt her assertion, that she had never been in favour of secession, and that she had never been rich enough to keep slaves herself; but the whole social creed in which she had been reared and bred was in favour of slavery; and, woman-like, she never thought of doubting the foundations of the creed she had been taught. Of all the foolish assumptions I have seen constantly made in discussions on the slavery question, the most erroneous seems to me to be that, because there are only, say, 400,000 slaveholders in the whole Slave States, this small number measures the whole amount of persons who have any interest in, or care for, the existence of slavery. You might just as well argue that there are not one thousand persons in Great Britain who can really feel any interest in the existence of the peerage.
Our route lay across the Alleghany Mountains, along the troughs of winding valleys, by the sides of rivers whose very names — the Patapsco and the Potomac, the Shenandoah and the Monongahela — bear the rhythm of music with them. Jefferson said, that it was worth a voyage across the Atlantic to witness such scenery as that of the Upper Potomac; and doubtless it is a scene
41of great beauty. Still, like all the American scenery I have seen, it is wearily monotonous. Some years ago a Yankee brought to London a panorama of the Mississippi, of I don't know how many thousand yards length. The first hundred yards or so were extremely interesting; but when you had seen the same scene unrolled slowly, yard after yard, and hour after hour, the sight became so wearisome, that I doubt if any one ever saw the panorama to its close. So it is with American scenery, in reality as well as pictorially. One gets tired of the endless low hills of unvarying height; of the ceaseless forests in which the timber is all of the same small growth; of the scattered houses which never vary in size or aspect. After a long journey, you have much the same feeling as a pedestrian must have had who walked a thousand times over one mile of road in a thousand hours. Still, if you could have compressed the journey into one-tenth of its distance, it would have been a very lovely one. From Baltimore the road winds up a narrow gorge, with wood-clad granite cliffs on either side, and a deep mountain stream rolling down the midst. Every three or four miles you pass a cotton factory, and the high smoke-begrimed chimneys, the river-side mills, and the stone-built, slate-roofed houses, give it a strange resemblance to a valley in the mountain district of Lancashire. Then you come upon the table-land, at the summit of the Alleghany ridge, wild, desolate, and dreary, and then down rapid inclines,
42under frequent tunnels, and over countless bridges, into the rich valley of the Ohio river. Such is the outline of the journey. Fill it up with long stretches of brush wood forest, with stray fields surrounded with tumble down snake-fences, with high cliffs of rock hanging over mountain torrents, with scattered wooden houses standing few and far apart, and with here and there glimpse of a wide, rich champaign country stretching away in the far distance, and you will know as much as I can recall of the scenery of the Alleghany Pass.
The traces of the war were few. The country is too poor a one, too little peopled, and too scantily cultivated to leave much opening for destruction. Of banditti, or bush-whackers, I need hardly say we saw no sign. There were a few deserted camps along the wood, and a few pickets of Union soldiers, looking very desolate in that lone country. The two points, when you come across the track of the war, are at Harper's Ferry and Cumberland. The grand stone bridge across the Potomac, at the former spot, was blown up by the Confederates, when they evacuated the place in March. With true Yankee energy, a sort of make-shift wooden bridge of most unsubstantial look had been run up on the old stone buttresses, but on the day before I crossed, this temporary bridge had broken down, and our journey was brought to an apparent stand-still when we arrived at the river-side. However, in a short time a rope
43was stretched across the stream, and passengers and luggage were ferried over the rapid swollen torrent to proceed on their journey by the return train from Wheeling. This stoppage caused a delay of some hours, and so I had time to wander about the ruins of what once was the town of Harper's Ferry. Here, a year before, stood the armoury of the United States, where 1,500 workmen were employed constantly. Now everything was destroyed. The walls alone were left standing, and the town was half in ruins. There is nothing grand about the débris of small red-brick buildings. Just after the fall of Fort Sumter, when the Confederates were expected daily to enter Washington, a friend of mine was passing the treasury buildings, with General Stone, who was afterwards confined at Fort Lafayette on a charge of treason. My friend said something to the General about the beauty of the marble portico, and the answer he received in reply was, "Yes; the treasury will make a fine Palmyra." So it would have done, but there is nothing Palmyresque about the ruins of Harper's Ferry. There is nothing but a look of squalid misery of wanton destruction. The ground around the arsenal is strewed with fragments of the workmen's cottages that stood around it, and amidst the broken masses of brickwork the sign-post of some roadside inn, left by mere chance still standing, rose gibbet-like, with its sign-board riddled through with rifle-shot
44creaking harshly on its rusty hinges. The town itself, which bore traces of once having been busy and prosperous, was almost deserted; soldiers swarmed in every hole and corner, and sentries were placed at every turning, but otherwise the place seemed empty. There were few men visible, and even the women and children stood sullenly apart. Most of the shops were closed, and a few that remained open had little in them. There is no resurrection, I fear, possible for Harper's Ferry. Standing at the confluence of two rivers, the Shenandoah and the Potomac, between precipitous cliffs resembling the Avon at Clifton, only on a grander scale, it is one of the loveliest spots in America; but ever since the war, a fatality seems to have hung over it. Since I saw it, it has changed hands four times over from Confederates to Federals, and the battle of Antietam was fought almost within sight of it. Ever since John Brown's insurrection it has never prospered. I was shown the little outhouse where the stern old Puritan was confined, after the failure of his mad attempt. It was here that, lying wounded, mangled, and at death's-door, he was tortured by the questionings of Mr. Mason. And now two years have scarcely passed and Mr. Mason is in England, owing his liberty, if not his life, to the strength of a free country; begging in vain for help to an insurrection as fatal as that of his quondam prisoner — his slaves escaped in a body — his house occupied by Massachusetts regiments, and his
45property ruined — while the Northern regiments, as they marched across the Potomac into Virginia, shrouded by the dusk of the evening, used to sing in triumph that — "John Brown's soul was marching on" before them.
After all, Harper's Ferry was the property of the Federal Government; and, therefore, the Confederates had perhaps a right to destroy it. But, if I had been the staunchest of Secessionists, and also for my misfortunes a shareholder in the Baltimore and Ohio line, I should have found it hard to excuse the wanton injury inflicted on private property in Cumberland. This was the chief railway depôt on the line, and before the Confederates evacuated it they destroyed every piece of rolling stock along the road. For miles on either side I passed burnt-up cars, shattered engines, and coal trucks, which, being of iron, could neither be burnt nor broken, and had therefore been rolled down the embankments. Fancy Wolverton burnt down, with everything breakable in its sheds smashed and battered, and you will know the look of Cumberland junction.
As long as we remained in the manufacturing districts near Baltimore, the aspect of the houses and people was comfortable and prosperous enough; and, indeed, this region has been but little directly affected by the war. But, as soon as we left Maryland for Western Virginia, the scene changed. Here, for the
46first time in the States, I saw the symptoms of squalid, Old World poverty. Miserable wooden shanty hovels, broken windows stuffed with rags, and dirty children playing together with the pigs on the dung-heaps before the doors, gave an Irish air of decay to the few scattered villages through which the railroad passed. Our train, owing to the necessity of proceeding with extreme caution during the night, through fear of the obstructions which Secessionist sympathizers might have across the line, moved on at a foot's pace, and our journey occupied some thirty-six hours, instead of the twenty-four which it was advertised to take. The snow, too, still lay on the high bleak uplands, and what with the cold, the weariness of sitting for hours on low-backed seats, and the constant stoppages at the shuntings in order to allow trains moving eastward loaded with soldiers and supplies to pass by us, our progress towards the end was a dismal and a dreary one.
There is one fact for which I shall always remember Wheeling gratefully — namely, that it was the first place where I was really hot since I left Italy, some eight months before. Otherwise, it is a quiet sleepy little town, without much to be said about it. Like all the Southern towns, too, I had yet seen, it was wonderfully English in appearance. The broad herring-bone flagged High Street; the small narrow-windowed red-brick houses, with their black chimney-pots; the shabby looking shops, with the flies buzzing about the dirty
47window-panes; the long walls and tall factory-chimneys, all made the place resemble an English country-town, where the old county people had died out, and the new manufacturing element had not prospered. Still, Wheeling is a go-ahead place, in its way, for a Southern city, and has proved loyal to the Union. It will be the capital of the new State of Western Virginia, if it ever succeeds in establishing its independence; and it is the head-quarters of the emancipation party in the State, probably because its German population is considerable. General Fremont had his head-quarters here, when in command of the mountain district, and the town was, therefore, filled with foreign officers. A crowd of new arrivals had just come in, as I was making my way to bed; and there, sitting on the one hat-box which formed the whole of his luggage, composed, clean-shaven, and serene, was my old acquaintance, Major, Colonel, General, or whatever his rank now may be, Von Traubenfass. My friend is a mystery to me, as to every one else. What man about the press does not remember Traubenfass years ago, in the great military scandal case of —. Well, it is a long time ago, and there is no good raking-up old sores. Where and in what strange medley has Traubenfass not been involved? He has served, of course, in the Spanish legion — in the wars of the Rio Grande — in the Schleswig-Holstein campaign. He has been in the service of half a dozen Indian princes, and has a perfect galaxy of
48orders from deposed potentates. When I met him last, twelvemonths before, he was a general unattached in the Garibaldian army, and received (and, what is more, was paid punctually) a very handsome salary for his unknown services. Then I heard of him as projector, manager, and secretary of an Italian railroad, which was to connect Sicily with the mainland. Now, he was instructor of cavalry, or inspector of horses, or military commissioner in the army of the United States. He informed me, with perfect equanimity, that he supposed the war would not last much longer, and then he should be on his legs again. But, meanwhile, he was certain that something else would turn up. What nation he belongs to, who he has been, where he comes from, or what his age is, are all questions I have often asked in vain, and doubt if he knows himself. He is perfectly quiet, temperate, and frugal, and the one weakness to which I have ever known him plead guilty, is a belief in an infallible system for winning at rouge-et-noir. After parting with Traubenfass, and indulging in a whisky cocktail, in augury of our next meeting in some unknown part of the globe, I retired to bed. What, I wonder, is the connexion between slavery and dirt — that in all Slave States the hotels and the beds are always dirty?
ACROSS the mud-stained Ohio river, down which great rafts of wood, covered with huts, as in the old Rhineland, were floating lazily, and then a long, hot day's journey through the length and breadth of the Ohio State. The early morning air was loaded with that dull, still closeness which foretels a day of sweltering heat, and the presage was fully realized. The cars were crowded with travellers; and though, for a wonder, the stoves were not lit, yet the closed windows served to maintain that stifling warmth of temperature which seems essential to an American's idea of comfort. The car in which I happened to take my seat was filled with soldiers, most of them rejoicing their regiments, and a few escorting a batch of Southern prisoners. These men were bush-whackers, captured in the mountains of Western Virginia by one of Fremont's flying columns, and were being sent to Columbus for imprisonment. The party consisted of some dozen or so, all well-dressed quiet-looking men, apparently of the rank of small
50farmers. The younger men said nothing, and declined all conversation with their guardians; but the oldest of the band — a man, I should think, long past sixty — talked very freely, and assured anybody who would listen to him, that his share in the insurrection had been entirely passive, and that the only reason he had not fought for the Union was because civil war seemed such an awful thing to him. "It's the same old story, sir, they always tell," was the remark of a private soldier, who had been one of the capturing party; and, I suspect, myself, the objection to civil war was one of late adoption. The Federal soldiers, let me add, were as quiet and well-behaved as I always found them. Many of them were reading newspapers, and none talked loudly or offensively. In fact, I should never wish for pleasanter fellow-passengers; but, pleasant as they were, they still made the car uncomfortably hot; and before long, I, in company with some confirmed smokers, betook myself, in defiance of all rules, to the broad steps fixed behind the carriages. I don't know that there is any more danger in sitting on the steps than in any other part of the cars. If there were a collision or a break-down, you, sitting there, would be tossed into the middle of the adjoining meadow, instead of into the face of your next-hand neighbour. But as a fact, the great respect for law, which prevails throughout America, hinders travellers from availing themselves freely of the seats upon the steps. At any rate, sitting,
51as I sat there, with my legs dangling over the single line of rails, the ride was a very pleasant one.
Mile after mile, and hour after hour, the train carried us headlong through the same pleasant, rich, flat country. You seem to pass, so to speak, through the successive strata of the emigration era. Sometimes there were long tracts of forest-land, where the axe was yet unknown. Then you came to the half-reclaimed lands, where, amidst an undergrowth of bush-wood, the great trees stood, dead and leafless, ready for felling, killed by the fatal rim notched round their trunks. Then followed the newly-reclaimed fields, with black, charred stumps still standing in their midst, and marked out by the snake-fences, with their unfastened rails, piled crosswise one upon the other; and then, from time to time, you came upon a tract of field-land, hemmed in by tight post and cross-bar fences, with every stump and trunk rooted out, and with a surface as smooth, and rich, and green as that of a Leicestershire meadow. You could mark every stage of the uncut settler's life, from the rough shanty run up in the midst of the uncut brushwood, to the trim, neat farm-house, with its lawn and flower-beds, and the children playing before the door. The New World lay before you in the process of its creation. New roads were making everywhere; new villages were springing up; teams of rough, sturdy horses were ploughing up the old fallow-lands; the swamps were being cleared of their dank, reedy
52marsh-plants, and the broad, shallow streams were being banked and dammed into deep quiet water-courses. It was then that I first understood the poetry of the emigrant world — not romantic or spasmodic, but idyllic in its nature, of the Herman and Dorothea type. There was nothing grand about the monotony of the scene — not a house in a distance of a hundred miles of more than one storey high; not a church-spire or a hill of any kind; nothing that was old, except the forest, and that was vanishing. Still, throughout the whole district there was the same unbroken air of rough comfort, and ease, and plenty; and of want or poverty there was no trace forthcoming. Years ago I had heard the crew of an emigrant vessel singing, "Cheer, boys, cheer!" as the ship unmoored from its anchorage, and dropped down the Mersey westwards, and I had fancied that the burden of the song was as vain as most poets' promises; but now, it seemed to me, that the promise had come true, and that this rich western country was, in very truth, the "new and happy land." A long summer-day's journey carried us through that pleasant State; and, as we came near Cincinnati, we passed again into a settled country. For miles before we reached the city we rattled through its suburb-villages with their broad, clean streets, and their neat wooden houses, before whose doors the women, with their long stuff hoods, sat knitting in the evening twilight. Railroads branched out on every side — no longer rough, single tracks, but
53smooth, broad, double lines of rail. Elegant brick-built stations succeeded the wooden sheds which did duty for stopping-places in the newly-settled districts, and the slopes of the low hill on either side were covered with green-shuttered stone villas, which looked as though they had been transplanted bodily from Kingston or Hampstead.
Of Cincinnati, the "Queen city of the West," there is not much that I need say. One American city is very like another. It is strange, after travelling for hundreds of miles through the half-settled country, to come in the Far West upon a great city, filled with every luxury and comfort of old-world civilization. The stalls, so it seemed to me, with their grand fronts and marble facings, were handsomer even than those of New York; and the music-shops, and print-depôts, and book-stands, which you saw on every side, all told of wealth, and education, and refinement. The hilly slopes, too, on which the city stands, the countless gardens, and the rows of almond trees which lined the streets, and which were then in full bloom, give the city a brighter look than you often see in the northern capitals. There was an air about the place, and I suppose not a fallacious one, as though trade were not thriving. The Mississippi and Ohio are the great arteries of the whole western country, and with the great rivers barred up, the trade of Cincinnati was paralyzed for the time. Many of the stores and shops were closed: in most of
54those open there being notices that, for the present, business could only be done for cash. The prices of the theatres and entertainments were advertised as "reduced to suit the times." There was little shipping about the wharves, and what goods there were being shipped were mostly military stores. Work was scarce, and there was much poverty, I was told, amongst the working classes, though the country is too rich for actual distress to be felt. The young men were gone to the war, and the hospitals were crowded with wounded soldiers — Confederates as well as Federal — who had just been brought up from the battle-field of Pittsburgh Landing.
But what struck me most was the German air of the place and people. It was hard, strolling through the streets, to realize that you were not in some city of the old German Vaterland. The great thoroughfares and the fashionable streets were American in every feature, and the only trace of Germany to be found there was in the number of German names — Hartmans, Meyers, Schmidt, and so on — written over the shop-doors. When, however, you passed into the suburbs, and the poorer parts of the city, everything, except the names of the streets, was German. A sluggish canal runs through the town, and, with one of those ponderous jokes so dear to the German mind, the quarter above the canal, where the Germans mostly dwell, is called "Ueber dem Rhein." Here, "across the Rhine," the Germans have brought their fatherland with them. Almost everybody that
55you meet is speaking in the harsh, guttural, German accents. The women, with their squat, stout figures, their dull blue eyes, and fair flaxen hair, sit knitting at their doors, dressed in the stuffed woollen petticoats of German fashion. The men have still the woollen jackets, the blue worsted pantaloons, and the low-crowned hats one knows so well in Bavaria and the Tyrol. There are "Bier Gartens," "Restaurations," and "Tanz Saale," on every side. The goods in the shop windows are advertised in German, and the official notices of sheriffs' sales and ward-elections are posted up on the walls, in English it is true, but with a German translation underneath. There are German operas, German concerts, and half a dozen German theatres, the very play-bills of which are printed in the old, plain, small German style, undebased by the asterisks and repetitions and sensation headings which form the pride of an American theatrical placard. Here, in the free West, the Germans have asserted their right to spend Sunday as they like; and so "across the Rhine," the dancing gardens are open, and the Turner feasts take place, and the first representations of the opera are given on the Sunday as in their native land. It was curious to me to note the audience at one of the small German theatres I dropped into one evening. The women had brought their babies and knitting with them; the men had their long pipes, and both men and women sat drinking the lager beer,
56and eating the inevitable sausages, and the "butterbrod und schinken" sandwiches. The play was full of true German common-place moralities, and the actors, inferior as they were, acted with that conscientious laborious carefulness which supplies the place of talent on the German stage. But more curious than the resemblance to the old country was the gradual development you could notice in the audience, by which the German element was being merged in the American. The older comers had already dropped the old-fashioned German dress, and when they talked to each other it was as often in English as in German. With many, too, of the younger generation, who had probably been born in the New World, the placid expression of the German face was already changed for the sharp anxious look so universal to the native-born American. The notion is, that the heavy taxation which must follow this war for years will stop the German emigration. If so, and fresh German blood is not poured into the old settlement, the German breed will soon be swallowed into the American; and fifty years hence, the existence of the old German quarter "across the Rhine" will be a matter of tradition.
From Cincinnati I went down the Ohio river, which forms the frontier between the States of Indiana and Kentucky as far as Louisville. "La Belle RiviÄre," as the early French settlers called the Ohio, must have been a term applied rather to the river itself, than to
57the scenery through which it runs. If you took away the villa "chateaux" on its banks, and the picturesque old Norman towns with their Gothic churches, I don't know that the Seine would be an interesting river; and the Ohio is not unlike the Seine, without chateaux, or towns, or churches. The broad rapid stream, the low sloping hills on either side, the straggling brick-built towns scattered along the banks, form pretty well the only features that strike a traveller passing down the river. The first hour's sail is very pleasant, the second is monotonous, the third is wearily dull; and, after the third, you devote your attention much more to what is going on inside the vessel than to the external scenery. Happily, inside the steamer there is plenty of interest for a stranger. The boat itself, with its broad deck, on which the freight is stowed, its long cabin, raised on pillars above the deck, running from the bows to the stern, and its engines rising above the cabin, is a strange sight in itself to an European. The ladies, of whom we had few on board, sat at one end of the cabin, and the men gathered round the other, where they smoked, expectorated, read newspapers, liquored at the bar, and played the mysterious game of "euchre." It was your own fault if you wanted companionship. I made a chance acquaintance with a gentleman sitting beside me at dinner, and before half an hour was over, I had been introduced to, and shaken hands with, half of our fellow passengers, all of whom were strangers to both of
58us. The sole objection to this promiscuous introduction is, that every one you are introduced to asks you to drink as a matter of politeness. Happily, American whisky is very weak, and as you are allowed to help yourself from the bottle, you can take as little as you please. I was struck then, by the way, as I had often been before, at the great liberality in standing treat, to use a common word, of the ordinary Americans. Men to whom, from their dress and air, money must really be a matter of consequence, will spend many shillings in paying for drinks for perfect strangers; and if any friend's friend is standing by, will press him to join him as a matter of course. There is no ostentation, as far as I can see, about this custom, but a simple feeling of rough hospitality, not over refined, perhaps, but still creditable in itself. I was struck, too, as I was frequently, with the extraordinary freedom with which, in the midst of this civil war, men of all opinions expressed their sentiments in public. We had many Union soldiers on board, several Government officials, and a good sorting of Secessionists. We had various political discussions, but all in perfect good humour and frankness; and the only opinion I did not hear expressed was Abolitionist, either because there were no Abolitionists in the party, or because Abolitionist doctrines are too unpopular in these border Slave States to be freely expressed. There was one old Kentucky farmer I was introduced to, who was just going home,
59after having been kept in prison at Columbus as a Secessionist. He confessed openly that he was in favour of secession, but declared, whether truly or not, that he had taken no part for or against it, and that his imprisonment had been due to a malicious information given against him by the Union doctor of the village, whose conduct he had had to censure for immorality. "The only thing, sir," he said, "I thought was hard, was, that I was arrested on the very spot of ground where our regiment was encamped in 1812, when we were drawn out to fight the Britishers, begging your pardon, sir." Yet this old man was conversing in the most friendly way with another old Kentucky backwoodsman, who had sent three sons to fight in the Federal army, and was asking everybody if they could tell him whether his boys' regiment had been in the battle of Pittsburgh Landing, and who, when he was assured that the regiment had not been under fire, made the comment — "Well, I should have liked my boys to have been in at the battle." A gentlemen, by the way, who had just returned from the field of battle, assured me, that amongst all the dead bodies lying scattered over that hard-fought field, he saw but one, rebel or loyal, who had been shot in the back.
IT was in Kentucky that Secession received its first important check. Had Kentucky passed a vote in favour of seceding, the whole of the border Slave States would have gone with the South, and the suppression of the insurrection would have been indefinitely, if not permanently, postponed. The sentiments of Kentucky, being, as she is, an offshoot of Virginia, were all with the South, but her interests were all with the North. In this conflict of opposing forces she stood neutral. In all insurrections it is an invariable rule that whosoever is not with you is against you. So it proved here. The famous declaration of neutrality, issued by the State Government of Kentucky, proved of no service to the South, and was disregarded by both parties alike. In utter defiance of their favourite doctrine of State rights, the Confederates resolved to force Kentucky into active co-operation, and it was for this purpose, according to his own confession, that General Sidney Johnston, the ablest, perhaps, of the
61Confederate Generals, whose death at Pittsburgh Landing proved a heavy blow to the South, invaded Kentucky. His motive in so doing, as he stated in his report to Jefferson Davis, was political rather than military. Happily for the North, the Union feeling of Kentucky was roused at this attempt at coercion. Troops enough were raised in the State itself to check the Confederate advance until the Federal Government had time to form its armies. The result was that the Confederates were never able to establish themselves in any force farther than Bowling Green, which lies only a few miles north of the Tennessee frontier.
By a sort of moral retribution, the only State in the Union which proposed to remain neutral, has in reality suffered most from the effects of the war. I recollect, at the time of the annexation of Savoy, reading a statement in one of the imperialist Savoyard papers, to the effect that where their rivers run, there their hearts turned also. The saying might be far more truly applied to the Western States. Their very life flows with the course of their rivers. The stoppage of the Mississippi, and the streams which flow into it, is absolute death to the trade of the West. Free access to the Gulf of Mexico is essential to its development. Thus Kentucky, though up to this time it had been saved from much actual war, experienced more loss than all the other States. In the country districts, the actual suffering was not perhaps so great. Wheat and corn
62and maize had fetched unusually good prices, while the demand for Government supplies created an artificial market for cattle. In the towns, however, there was nothing to neutralize the paralysing effects of the war and the complete stoppage of the Southern trade. Louisville, the virtual though not the nominal capital of the State (for in Kentucky, as in most other States of the Union, the actual seat of government is placed purposely in some town of small importance), has suffered terribly. Out of seventy jobbing houses which carried on business here before the war broke out, only two are left standing. The others have failed or have moved elsewhere. The pork trade with the South, which was one of the staples of Louisville commerce, has completely fallen off. The carrying trade on the Ohio river came altogether to an end, except for Government stores. The iron and metal factories had all suspended work. There has not been any absolute distress amongst the working classes. The country is so fertile that absolute want was a thing still unknown, but there was a total stoppage of the growth of Louisville, or rather an actual retrogression in its career. Within forty years Louisville had grown from a city of four thousand souls to one numbering upwards of seventy thousand inhabitants; but during the first year since the outbreak of the war, the population had diminished by some ten thousand persons.
The aspect of the city bore out these statements,
63which were made to me by merchants resident in Louisville. In former times it must have been a place of great commercial activity, though of no great interest to the "uncommercial traveller." There is one striking peculiarity of a negative rather than a positive order, common to almost all American towns, and that is, that they have no sights. When you have taken your first half-hour's stroll about any town you happen to pass the night in, you know as much about it externally as if you had lived there for a month. Every town is built on the same system, has the same series of more or less lengthy rectangular streets, the same large spacious stores, the same snug, unpicturesque rows of villas, detached or semi-detached as the case may be, the same sombre churches, built in the architectural style of St. Clement Danes or St. Mary's, Bryanstone Square, and the same nomenclature of streets — the invariable Walnut, Chestnut, Front, and Main streets — crossed by the same perpendicular streets, numbered First, Second, and so on to any number you like, according to the size of the town. I have often wondered how, supposing you could be put down unexpectedly in an ordinary American town, you could ascertain by observation that you were not in England. Of course the quantity of mules used for the carts is not English. The climate, at least between April and November, is not English. The street railroads are, or rather were, un-English, and the negroes you see loitering about the streets with the
64coloured silk handkerchiefs, which, in all Slave States, they wear bound about their heads, are happily not English also. Still, the main difference is, that everything about you would look so new and so unfinished; and this is a difference which it is easier to understand than to describe. I should think that even the compiler of a local handbook would find it difficult to say much about Louisville. When I was there, there was a sleepy, drowsy look about the place which could not have been usual to it. On every side you saw long rows of shut-up stores, and large factories whose gates were closed, and from whose chimneys no smoke issued. The river-side was crowded with numbers of steamers, laid up for want of freights. There were no trucks about the streets, and no appearance of goods being carried between the different stations. The common people to whom I spoke all told me the same story, that prices of living were uncommonly high, that work was unusually slack, and that instead of making money, as in former years, the most they could hope for was to be able to pay their way.
Still, with all this, the country round Louisville is so rich that it seems impossible to a stranger to associate the idea of distress with it. During my stay there, which I prolonged for some days, partly because there is one of the best hotels in all the Union at Louisville, I went out a good deal into the surrounding country. The institution of slavery has not been able to mar the
65appearance of physical prosperity, and that is saying a good deal. I doubt whether even a Bourbon régime could destroy it under a century. Even more than the State of Ohio, Kentucky is the garden country of the States. When you get out into the little country towns, you seem to have got into an England where the sun shines, and where there is no poverty. The German clement has no great strength there, and the old English element of Virginia is still in the ascendant. In Frankfort, or in Lexington, or in any of the country towns of what is called the Blue Grass region of Kentucky, you require the sight of the railroad running along the streets to show you that you are not in an English county town. The main street, with its quiet little shops, its depôts of agricultural implements, its small town houses standing a little way back from the road, and fronted by the plots of lawn, and its whole sleepy, lazy air, is the exact counterpart of an English High Street. The inns, too, are not called "houses," or even hotels, but inns, with old-fashioned English signs of the Phoenix and the Lion swinging over their doors; and the stages which meet the trains at the different stations are like resuscitated four-horse coaches, only that the drivers are negroes. All round the towns there are small country houses standing in their own grounds, which might have been transported bodily from the old country. In the May time, when I was
66there, the weather was like that of an English summer, and the pasture lands were as green, and the crops as rich, and the fields as carefully tilled and hedged in, as they would have been in Warwickshire. There was hardly a trace of that shiftless slovenliness I observed in every other Slave State, and the slaves themselves were better dressed, and brighter looking. In the houses, too, whose doors and windows were thrown open to let in the cool air, you saw the negro children playing about carelessly in a way that seemed to bespeak a considerable degree of kindness on the part of their masters. From all inquiries I could make, I gathered that the feelings of Kentucky with regard to secession were of a very mixed character. Up to the beginning of the spring, the southern portion of the State was more or less subject to the Confederate government. The first of the Union victories was that of Mill Springs, in Kentucky, where General Zollikoffer was killed. But, with this exception, there had been then little actual fighting in the State, and, with the evacuation of Bowling Green, the authority of the Union was restored without resistance. In the Federal armies there were thirty-two Kentucky regiments, which would represent a force of some twenty-five thousand men, and there were supposed to be about six thousand Kentuckians in the Confederate service. At the battle of Shiloh, two Federal Kentucky regiments charged a Confederate one from their own State, and the belief
67is, judging from their own heavy loss, that they destroyed full half of it. In Kentucky, perhaps, more than anywhere else, the civil war produced that division of families and friends which forms the most fearful incident in the struggle. I suppose there is scarcely a Kentuckian who has not friends or relations fighting on each side. As far as I could collect, whenever there was a direct political issue laid before the State, the Unionists carried all before them. During the palmiest days of the insurrection, the largest secession vote ever given in Louisville was nine hundred out of nine thousand votes. At the last election, Mr. Crittenden, the Union candidate, was carried by a large majority against an opponent who was supposed to be friendly to secession; but last spring, when this gentleman, who is one of the most popular and respected men in the State, wished to resign his seat in the House of Representatives, in order to be elected Senator, the Union Electoral Committee requested him not to do so, as, with a candidate less personally popular than himself, they could not be sure of carrying the election.
There was, however, a very large, and what is more, a very noisy secession element in Kentucky. Residents in Louisville, Unionists as well as Secessionists, assured me that the number of sympathizers with the South was very great, and that any reverse of the Federal forces would be the signal for an Anti-union demonstration.
68The Confederate prisoners whom I visited seemed in good condition and in high spirits; and the gaolers complained to me that there was much more charity shown by private families in Louisville towards the rebels than towards the wounded Federal soldiers. If the charitable donations of the friends of secession included soap, I can only say that their protegés made a thankless return for the kindness displayed. It was a startling fact, also, that the Government had to prohibit the public burial of Confederate soldiers in Kentucky, on account of the secession demonstrations to which they gave place. Shortly before I was there, at the funeral of a Confederate officer, at Louisville, over three thousand persons assembled to escort the corpse. It is true that the officer in question was well known and respected in the town, and that his wife was the daughter of the most popular of the Episcopalian clergymen in the city; but still these facts would not account for a tenth part of the crowd. Again, soon after the battle of Shiloh, a wounded Confederate soldier of Louisiana, a private, who died of his wounds on the voyage up the Ohio, was left at the little town of Owensburgh for burial. He was not personally known at the place, but this was the account of his funeral, as given by a local paper: — "A meeting was called by the Southern citizens of the town, and preparations made for a suitable burial. Long before the appointed time, our streets were crowded with people, from all sections of the
69county, who had come to witness the solemn ceremony. At two o'clock the remains were conveyed to the Methodist church, where an impressive and eloquent funeral oration was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Nicolson. The number of spectators at the church was variously estimated at from one thousand to fifteen hundred. After the exercises at the church were concluded, the procession repaired to the cemetery, where they deposited the remains of the brave but unfortunate soldier, who died while nobly battling in defence of his country and his country's cause. It may be some consolation to the friends of the deceased to know that, though buried amongst strangers, in a strange land, he was interred in a manner becoming his cause, and that thousands of sympathizing tears were shed over his grave for the loved ones at home, and many a fervent prayer offered up to God for his safe deliverance to that haven of rest where strife, dissensions, and abolitionism never enter, and where peace and harmony reign for ever."
I have quoted this article, not only as a proof of secession feeling, but as evidence of the extreme liberty of speech allowed by the Federal Government in Kentucky. Even in Ireland, the Nation could hardly be more outspoken without danger of suppression. At the public bar-rooms in Louisville, I myself was present at conversations in which open sympathy for the South and bitter animosity towards the Lincoln Government
70was expressed as freely as it could have been in Mr. Mason's drawing-room in London. In the towns it was found necessary to exclude all women suspected of Secession proclivities from the military hospitals, because they insulted the wounded Federal soldiers. In fact, the feeling of Kentucky towards secession is entirely different from what it is in the North. Events have proved that the majority — the great majority — of Kentuckians were opposed to secession, and were ready to suppress it at the cost of war. They looked upon it as unwise, destructive to their own interests, and unjustified by law, but they did not, as Northern men did, look upon it as unprovoked. They sympathized keenly with the sentiment of secession, though they disapproved its active manifestation. In plainer words, Kentucky is a slave-holding State, and therefore against her judgment, and in spite of her interest, could not help sympathizing with slaveholders. The bitterness against the Abolitionists and the Administration was extreme. The constant cry in all the border State newspapers was, that Northern Secessionism must be put down, as well as Southern, and that Wendell Phillips and Sumner deserved the same punishment as Davis and Floyd. Here is a specimen of the sort of article which appeared daily in the Kentucky and Tennessee papers, and which I picked out of the Nashville Union, the official organ of the military governor, Mr. Andrew Johnson, who had just been selected for the post by the Cabinet at
71Washington: — "The Louisville Journal contains a scathing notice of Wendell Phillips. It is a well-merited castigation of that flashy, blasphemous incendiary, and half crazed Jacobin. Phillips is as vile a dis-Unionist as Jeff. Davis or William L. Yancey. May the devil seize the tribe!" As early as last spring, in Kentucky, the Washington Administration was regarded as completely in the hands of the Abolitionist party. The emancipation of the slaves in the district of Columbia had given great offence, and was stated openly by Union men to be a certain step towards prolonging the war. In talking to an old Kentucky statesman — the staunchest of Union men, and a member, some years ago, of the Federal Government — about a rumoured intention of the border States members to withdraw from Congress, I learnt, to my surprise, that he completely approved of the idea, if, by rendering either House unable to form a quorum, it could bring the anti-slavery legislation to a dead lock. This gentleman, I should add, was not a slaveholder, and had never, as a matter of personal feeling, held slaves; but as a Kentuckian, his sympathies were all with the Slave States.
Indeed, the old Democratic politicians, of whom my friend had been a leading member, reckoned confidently that as soon as the insurrection was suppressed, the insurgent states would resume their seats in Congress; that throughout the North, there would be a great reaction against the Republican party after the war, and
72that in consequence there would be a return of something like the old pro-slavery Democratic rule. I believe myself this calculation would probably have turned out correct, and might still prove correct, at least for a certain period, if the insurgent States possessed wisdom enough to see their own interests, and accept frankly the restoration of the Union. On the other hand, the course of events in Kentucky and Tennessee, after the Union authority was restored, held out no probability that such would be the case. At this time I heard a leading Republican senator say to Mr. Sumner, "What will save us will be not our own merits, but the mistakes of our enemies;" and I take this to be the truth. Already, in the Free State papers you could see indications of impatience at the want of loyalty shown towards the Union in the border Slave States; and even in other than Abolition organs an opinion began to be timidly suggested that the power of the slaveholding interest was the one obstacle in the way of re-union. It was symbolical of this altered tone of feeling, that Mr. Maynard, a representative of Tennessee, and himself a slaveholder, declared, on his return to the House from a journey through his own State, that his visit had convinced him of the necessity of some measure of confiscation. So, in the Cincinnati papers, there were letters daily published, urging on Union, not on Abolition grounds, that the slaveholders must always be, hostile to the Union, and
73that the power of hostility should be removed from their hands. All these things were indications which way the wind was beginning to blow. In truth, Kentucky, like all the so-called loyal Slave States, was about equally afraid of the triumph of its friends and of its opponents. The result was, that the State was still halting between the North and South. Its sentiments drew it towards the latter, and its interest towards the former.
Let me add, in passing, that Kentucky is the first State in the Union where I saw lottery offices in every street, and where the old notices in the shop-windows, that I remember so well in Italy, caught my eyes, requesting passers-by to tempt fortune, and to win five thousand dollars at the risk of one.
THE road from Louisville to Nashville lay right on the track of the war, through Kentucky and Western Tennessee. The railroad had only been re-opened ten days or so before I passed over it. The Confederate forces had been till quite recently in possession of Nashville, and the first great battle of the Western campaign had been expected to take place along the railroad, at Bowling Green station, and would doubtless have taken place there, had not the Confederates evacuated the position on the advance of the Union troops. Still, the traces of the recent war, and of the march and retreat of great armies, were not so numerous as I expected. Where houses are so few and far between as they are in these new States, and where so much of the country is still uncultivated, it is difficult, even for wanton destruction, to produce much outward appearance of desolation; and, besides, from the nature of this civil war, both armies in these border States have proceeded on the assumption, that they were in a friendly country, and have, therefore, as a
75rule, spared private property. Yet there were evidences enough of the war, after all. Along a line of some hundred and eighty odd miles, there was not a bridge that had not been burnt or broken down. Rickety wooden structures, which made a stranger tremble at the idea of passing over them, had been run up in their stead, and small detachments of Union soldiers were posted by these make-shift bridges to preserve them from destruction. The rails had often been torn up, for many hundred yards together, and the cars run over a newly-laid down trackway, side by side with the old line of rails. There were broken engines, too, and burnt cars lying alongside the line; and, wherever there were the traces of a Confederate encampment, there the blackened ruins of the roadside houses told you of the reckless destruction worked by the retreating army in the despair of defeat. The great Confederate fort of Bowling Green struck me, on a rapid view, as of no great military strength. But, long after the war is over, the earth-works of the camp on the Green River, and the shattered buttresses of the grand stone arches, will remain as tokens of the great insurrection.
But, in truth, this Tennessee country is so bright and pleasant a one, that it would take years of war to make it look other than prosperous, especially above all other seasons, in the early and short-lived bloom of a Southern spring. My impression of Tennessee, like most of one's impressions about the localities of the
76Southern States, was taken from the old nigger melody of the darkie who fell in love with the "lovely Rosa Lee, courting down in Tennessee." For once the impression was a correct one; and, of all pleasant places to go courting in, it would be "down in Tennessee," in that sweet April time. As far as country goes, I should be hard put to choose, if I had to fix my dwelling-place in Ohio or in Tennessee. In the latter State the climate is softer, and more Southern; but there is less life, less energy, perhaps, about the Slave State — less sign of rapid progress. The fields are worked by gangs of negroes. Every now and then, too, you see the wretched wood hovels, telling of actual poverty — things which you do not see in Ohio; and, also, I grieve to say, when you look closely into the Tennessee paradise the garden of Eden is somewhat of a dirty one.
Of all American cities, which I have seen, Nashville or "Naseville," as they call it, in the soft Southern lisp, is the most picturesque. Perched upon a high steep ridge hanging over the Cumberland river, the "Rocky City" is perforce divorced from that dismal rectangular system so fatal to the beauty of American towns. The streets run up and down all sorts of slopes, and at all kinds of angles. The rows of houses stand terrace like one above the other; and, highest of all, the State Capitol towers grandly above the city. The main thoroughfares are broad and bright, shaded over pleasantly by the rows of lime and chestnut trees, which grow on
77either side. All round the city, on every inequality of the broken ground, there are placed well-built stone villas, and the whole place had a sort of New World Bath air about it, which struck me curiously.
In happier days, Nashville must have been a very pleasant dwelling-place; but when I saw it, the whole aspect of the city was, even for a stranger, a dreary and dismal one. An American — a staunch Union man himself — described its state as being like that of Italian cities he had seen, shortly after the Austrians re-occupied them in '49. But, I own, to me this description seemed, externally, rather overdrawn. I should say myself that Nashville looked more like a city still stunned by the blow of some great public calamity. Outwardly, it had not suffered much from its various military occupations. The Louisville trains stopped on the northern side of the river, at Edgefield, for the great railway-bridge which spanned the Cumberland was blown up by the Confederates on leaving. With a reckless wantonness, the beautiful suspension bridge was cut to pieces at the same period, so that all communication between Nashville and the North had to be carried on by boats and ferries. Otherwise, the city had received little material injury; but I think this absence of external ruin rather increased the effect of the general depression visible throughout the town. When Mr. Seward went over to Winchester, on its first occupation by General Banks' division, Mr. Sumner, who had often disputed with him as to the existence of a
78strong Union sentiment in the South, asked him what he thought of the look of things at the Virginian town? "Well," he answered, "all the men were gone to the war, and all the women were she-devils." The same description would not, I suspect, have applied badly to Nashville. The town had a deserted air. If you took away the Union soldiers, there would have been very few people about the streets at all. There were numbers of negroes, apparently idling about the town, but the white population seemed scanty for the size of the place. Young men you met very seldom about — and, indeed, the proportion of women to men was unusually large. What is stranger still, the children seemed to have been sent away. At any rate, contrary to the custom of other American towns, they were not visible in the streets. The Union regiments quartered here were from the neighbouring States, and, one would suppose, would have had many acquaintances in the town, but there was, avowedly, little intercourse between the military and the inhabitants, while the soldiers complained bitterly of the manner in which the Nashville women expressed their dislike on every possible occasion. Half the shops were closed, and in the few of any size still open the owners sat moodily among empty shelves. Trade however, was gradually reviving. In every shop there were notices put up of "no Southern money taken:" and the shopkeepers seemed willing enough to sell what goods they had at exorbitant prices to the Federal
79soldiers. On the walls there still hung the tattered half-torn-down official notices of the Confederate government, and on a building right in front of the hotel where I lodged you could still read an inscription over the door, "Head Quarters of the Confederate States' Army," while displayed openly in the windows of the stationers, I saw copies of patriotic Confederate dance music, headed "the Confederate Prize Banner Quadrille," "the Lady Polk Polka," and the "Morgan Schottische." Of any pro-Union exhibition of feeling on the part of private individuals I could see little trace. Over the public buildings the stars and stripes floated gaily; but on no single dwelling-house could I see an Union flag. In the shop windows there were no prints of Federal victories, no display of the patriotic books and pamphlets so universal throughout the North. In the way of business, indeed, nothing seemed stirring, unless it was the undertaking trade, which, from the number of coffins I saw about, ought to have been thriving. Of the women I met, a majority were in deep mourning, not so much, I fear, as an exhibition of political sentiment, as in memory of husbands, and sons, and brothers who had fallen on the slaughter field of Pittsburgh Landing. Martial law was not enforced, but after dark the streets were almost deserted; sentries were posted at frequent intervals, and ever and anon the death-like stillness of the town was broken by the jangle of swords and spurs, as the
80mounted patrols rode slowly past. The theatre had been re-opened, more, I should fancy, from political motives than from any prospect of pecuniary profit. The house was almost exclusively filled with Federal soldiers, and on the two occasions when I went there I only saw one lady amongst the audience, and she was a Frenchwoman. The wealthier inhabitants were daily leaving the town, on account of the general depression which prevailed there. Politics seemed to be a tabooed subject in private conversation. In several houses that I went into, I found that the heads of the family were under arrest, and there were constant rumours, though I believe mostly exaggerated ones, of collisions between the inhabitants and the soldiery. All bar-rooms were closed by military orders, a circumstance which must in itself have been a bitter grievance to a liquor-loving, bar-frequenting people, and neither for love nor money could a stranger obtain a drink more intoxicating than lager beer within the bounds of Nashville.
The press of Nashville represented, curiously enough, the disorganized condition of society. The editors of the old local papers, who were all bitter Secessionists, had left the town at the approach of the Federal forces, and their papers were either suspended or suppressed. The existing press of Nashville consisted of two small single sheet papers, the Nashville Union and the Nashville Dispatch. The former, of course, was the official organ of the Government.
81Commercially, I should question its having been a paying property, as every day there appeared piteous appeals to the loyal men of Tennessee to support "the uncompromising organ of Union," by sending in subscriptions and advertisements, and thus "to keep the flag of the Union, of law and order, streaming defiantly in the very face of the enemy, as he retires sullenly to the Gulf." One great object of the paper professed to be "to bring to light hundreds of crimes and outrages committed by the rebels during their ascendancy, and which the guilty authors believed would never be brought to light." This part of its programme was amply redeemed, for the greater part of its meagre reading matter consisted of revelations of Confederate misrule, during the last few months. The stories quoted and the comments on them reminded me constantly of the revelations of Austrian and Papal cruelties, which used to be published in the Italian papers after the revolution of 1859, except that, to do the Confederates justice, in none of the documents quoted was there much proof of great personal cruelties. It is, I admit, extremely illegal and tyrannical to exile and imprison men on mere suspicion, to force recruits against their will into the ranks, and to confiscate property devoted to charitable purposes. But necessity knows no law, and if it was justifiable for the State of Tennessee to secede at all, I hardly think the steps by which the insurrectionary government sought
82to carry out the revolution, were in themselves crimes of any very deep dye. This, however, naturally enough, was not the opinion of the Union. The Confederate Government of Nashville appropriated two million dollars, belonging to the public school fund, for the purposes of the war, and on this outrage the Union harped perpetually in a series of short paragraphs, of which the following are average specimens: —
"Why should a child treat a rebel teacher with respect? That teacher is the servile follower of rebel leaders, who, to the disgrace of humanity, plundered the noble fund of two million dollars, which this State had created as an inviolable legacy for the education of her children. Shame on such villany!"
"The rebel government and rebel legislature of Tennessee plunged their hands into the charity fund of the State's poor children, and took from it two million of dollars to purchase for themselves an eternal infamy."
"Every time a rebel teacher sets foot in a school room, the robbed and plundered children should rise from their seats and cry, ‘Give us back the two million dollars, which the State provided for our education, and which your political idols stole from us. Give it back! Give it back!’"
And so on indefinitely. The regular leaders were alternate attacks on the Secession movement and on
83the Abolitionists, though, as the paper is a Government organ, and subsidized by the Government, no attacks were allowed on the President or on his Administration. To the credit, too, of the Union, I should state that even in a period of such excitement, and in a paper conducted with such vehemence, there were no personal assaults on private individuals, no denunciations by name of suspected Secessionists. The advertisements were very few in number, and what there were were chiefly official ones. In fact the majority were notices of runaway slaves detained in the county gaol. It seemed strange to an Englishman to read a long string of advertisements like the following: —
"On the 8th day of May, 1862, I will expose to public sale to the highest bidder, for cash, at the Court House, Yard Gate, in Nashville, one negro boy named William, levied on as the property of Sharp and Hamilton, to satisfy sundry executions in my hands."
Again, amongst the committals to the gaol I came across the following: —
"April 21, 1862. A negro woman, who says her name is Lucinda, and belongs to William Donald son, of Davidson County. The said woman is about 28 or 30 years old; dark copper colour."
"April 18, 1862. A negro man, who says his name is Andrew. Says he belongs to R. L. Brown, of Davidson county. Dark copper colour. Scar on the
left side of his cheek. About 28 years old. Weighs about 158 pounds, and is 5 ft. 7 in. high. And at the end of each advertisement the owner is requested to come forward, prove property, and pay charges, as the law directs." Then there were the advertisements of free negroes, confined to gaol on the suspicion of being runaways. Thus: —
"March 16, 1862. A negro man, says his name is George Mosely. Says he is a free man of colour. Says he lives in Indianopolis, in Indiana. About 37 years old. Weighs about 187 pounds. Has whiskers and a moustache, a small scar on corner of left eye. Dark copper colour, 5 ft. 10 in. high."
In fact, if it were not for the "peculiar institution," the advertisement department of the Union would be but shabbily provided.
The principles of the Nashville Dispatch were, according to the statement of its rival, as nearly secessionist as it can be to keep out of Johnson's clutches, and the accusation was probably well founded. It was obviously written to suit a public to whom the successes of the Union were, to say the least, uninteresting. It professed no political principles, but it contained no prognostication of Federal victories, and, in fact, seemed disposed to ignore secession generally. I always believed that the Giornale di Roma had unrivalled talent for conveying the minimum of news in a given number of columns, but I think the Nashville
85Dispatch was no unworthy rival in the same laudable endeavour. What little news it gave, was composed of items of southern intelligence, reprinted from the northern papers, and, except in the official telegrams, the name "rebel" was never used, but always supplied by that of "Confederate." The leaders were generally on miscellaneous subjects, utterly disconnected with the war, and often consisted of short moral discourses on the benefits of forbearance and strict integrity. The trade advertisements were rather more numerous than those of the Union, but it had not the official ones of negro sales or committals to gaol. The space lost in this way was filled with a romantic story of love and seduction. Of the two, there was more "grit," to use a Yankee phrase, about the Union.
The whole policy, or rather want of policy, of the Federal government, with regard to the reconquered States, was exhibited at Nashville in its practical working. To suppress the rebellion was the one idea that either government or people had been able to grasp as yet; and, with regard to the future, the only vestige of a policy adopted was a general intention to restore, as much as might be, the status quo before the war. As soon as Nashville was retaken, Mr. Andrew Johnson was sent there as military governor. A Tennessee man himself, and a slaveholder, he was selected for the post, not only on account of his unswerving adherence to the Union, but because it was considered that his
86appointment would be a guarantee to the people of Tennessee that no violent interference with their property was designed. For the immediate purpose of pacification, the appointment was a wise one. Every step, consistent with a vigorous suppression of active secession, was taken to win back the allegiance of the people, and, as far as the language of the governor went, nothing could be more satisfactory to a slave-owning State. At the period of my visit, when reviewing a Minnesota regiment, quartered at Nashville (Minnesota, be it remembered, is a free State), Governor Johnson used these words: —
"It had been charged by the apostles of treason that the North had come here to set negroes free. He knew the North, had travelled among her people, and he repelled the charge with scorn. There were abolition fanatics there, it was true — sectionalists, traitors, brothers of Southern secessionists — but these creatures constituted but a fraction of the great body of the North. The voice of the overwhelming mass of the North, as well as of nine men out of ten who stood before him was, ‘We care nothing for your negroes. Manage them as best suits yourselves, but the Union shall be preserved, and you must obey the laws;’" and, according to the official report, this enunciation of principles was loudly cheered by the soldiers. How far this patchwork policy will prove ultimately successful in re-establishing a pro-Union feeling, time
87alone can show. It had had little time to act, when I was at Nashville, and it was hard to judge what progress it had made. There was, indeed, no disguising the fact that the Federal Government had not received the sympathy it counted upon in Tennessee. The belief in the North had been that the Union armies would have been hailed as deliverers by a large portion of the population, but, hitherto, they had met, at the best, with a sullen acquiescence. It should be added, that the Union party made no attempt to represent things as more favourable than they were, and confessed the absence of Union sympathy as frankly as they admitted all their other failures and shortcomings. Indeed, the best sign, nationally, I saw about the Americans was the resolute fearlessness with which they looked facts in the face, even when telling against themselves. Thus, in Nashville, the Government party admitted openly, that since the occupation there had been no public expression of any love for the Union exhibited in this part of Tennessee. As evidences of returning loyalty, the Nashville Union quoted, I remember, with great pride, how one old lady had sent a Federal flag to the Governor, with the request that it might be hung up in some public spot; and how the city council had at last, after nearly a month's deliberation, passed a resolution, that "they cordially thanked the officers and soldiers of the United States for the unexampled kindness and courtesy hitherto extended
88to their fellow-citizens, and that as men striving in the common work of re-establishing the Government of their fathers, they pledged their most sincere and hearty co-operation."
It was impossible to help feeling, that if the Unionists were gratified by demonstrations of such doubtful loyalty, they were easily contented. Of any practical manifestation of Union feeling there was little indication. With East Tennessee and Memphis still in the possession of the enemy, there could be no question as yet about how the Senators and Representatives of Tennessee were to be elected, and therefore, for the moment, this difficult question was postponed; but extreme difficulty had been already experienced in filling up the civil offices with loyal men. The corporation, by rather an arbitrary stretch of power, was required to take the oath of allegiance to the United States; and the greatest reluctance was exhibited by them in acceding to the requisition. For three weeks after Governor Johnson arrived, it was found impossible to induce any one to undertake the office of postmaster; and a yet longer period elapsed before an editor could be found bold enough to conduct a Government newspaper.
However, this absence of Union feeling was not so strange nor so disheartening as it might appear at first sight. There can be no doubt that the common people of Tennessee, like the inhabitants of all the Southern States, believed sincerely that the "Lincoln hordes" were coming
89down to destroy their property, burn their houses, and murder their wives and children. Extraordinary as such an illusion was, it could be accounted for partly by the comparative isolation of the South, partly by the extent to which the lower classes received all their intelligence and all their opinions from their leaders, and, still more, by the morbid nervousness which the existence of a slave population is sure to beget amongst the dominant race. By degrees the people of Tennessee were becoming convinced that the Northerners had no intention of interfering with their property, or of treating them as subjects of a conquered country; and that, in fact, life and property were far safer under a Federal Government than they had been under the Confederate rule. Again, the war was too near at hand, and the danger too imminent for Tennessee to appreciate fully that the battle had been fought and lost. It was easy enough for an indifferent spectator in the North to see that the Confederates were fighting a losing fight in the border States, and that even a return of fortune to their arms would only prolong a hopeless struggle; but, to men living in Tennessee, it was not so easy to take a wide view of the case. If Beauregard had won the battle of Pittsburgh Landing, or had defeated the Federals at Corinth, it was quite possible, though not probable, that Nashville might have been re-occupied for the time by the Confederates; and their return would have been the sure
90signal for a reign of terror of which all, who had given in their adhesion to the new Government, might reasonably have feared to be the victims. Moreover — and I believe this to have been the chief explanation — as long as the war lasts there can be no cordial restoration of Union feeling in any Southern State. Men may grow convinced of the folly of secession, may even wish for the triumph of the Union; but their hearts must be, after all, with the side for which their kinsmen and friends are fighting. I suppose there is hardly a family in Tennessee which has not some member in the ranks of the Confederate army. It is this conflict of affections which makes all civil war so hateful. How hateful it is, in truth, never came home to me till I saw it actually. I have known myself of a wife whose husband was fighting for the South, while her father and brother were in the Federal army. I knew, too, of a mother who had only two sons, one in the North, and the other in the South, both fighting in the armies that were ranged opposite to each other in front of York town. So I, or any one, could name a hundred instances of father fighting against son — brother against brother — of families divided — of homes where there was mourning whenever the news of battle came, no matter which side had won the victory. I have dwelt thus some what at length on the reasons why I think the sullen attitude of Tennessee might be accounted for, because I am anxious not to convey the impression that I believe in
91the Southern or rather the Confederate doctrine of an innate and unconquerable aversion between the North and South. If once the insurrection were suppressed, and order restored, I have little doubt the Southern States would acquiesce in what was inevitable. There is no difference in race, or language, or religion, or geographical position to keep the two divisions of the Union apart. Whether the difference in domestic institutions would prove an insuperable cause of disunion, I cannot say. If it should so prove, the North will suppress or remove this cause, before it consents to the disruption of the Union. This is the only fact of which I feel positive.
In old English books about travel in Switzerland, it used to be a stock remark that you could tell whether a canton was Protestant or Catholic by the relative cleanliness or dirtiness of the towns. How far the fact was true, or how far, if true, it established the truth of the Protestant religion, I could never determine; but a similar conclusion may certainly be drawn with regard to the Free and the Slave States. You may lay it down as a rule throughout America, that wherever you find slavery, there you have dirt also. Nashville, as I said before, is one of the cleanest and brightest of towns at a distance; but when you come close the illusion vanishes. There is no excuse there for want of cleanliness. The position of the town makes drainage easy; the stone used so plentifully is clean
92of itself; and water is abundant. The only thing wanting seemed to be energy to keep the place clean. The hotel where I was stopping was in itself an institution (in American phrase) of the country. It was the best in the city; and Nashville was always celebrated as one of the most thriving and prosperous cities in the South. Hotel-keeping was not suffering, like other trading concerns, from the depression of the moment. This hotel was crammed with guests, and had been crammed throughout the previous winter. Outside it was handsome enough, but internally, I say without hesitation, it was the dirtiest and worst managed hotel it had been ever my fortune to stop at. The dirt was dirt of old standing, and the mismanagement must have been the growth of years long preceding the days when secession was first heard of. The bar, as I mentioned, was closed by order; but the habitués still hung about the scene of their former pleasures. In the hall there were a number of broken shattered chairs, and here, with their legs stretched in every conceivable position, a number of well-dressed respectable-looking persons used to loaf all day long, smoking and chewing. They did not seem to have anything to do, or much to say to each other; but they sat there to kill time by looking at one another. The floor was as dirty as successive strata of tobacco-juice could make it; and, at the slightest symptom of chill in the air, the stove was kindled to a red-hot heat, and the atmosphere
93was made as stifling as the cracks in the doors would permit it to become. The passages were as filthy as want of sweeping could make them; and dirty cloths, sloppails, and brooms were left lying about them, all day and every day; the narrow wooden staircases were such as you would hardly see in England leading to the poorest of attics; and the household arrangements were as primitive as was consistent with the dirtiness peculiar to civilized life. As to the meals, their profusion was only equalled by their greasiness, and by the utter nondescriptness of their component victuals. The chicken-pie tasted uncommonly like the stewed mutton, and both were equally unlike any compound I ever ate before. I could understand why it was thought unnecessary for the negroes to waste soap and water on washing; but the same reason could not apply to their jackets and shirts, which I presume once were white. The servants were all negroes, and all, naturally enough, devoted their minds to doing as little work and taking as long about it as possible. What seemed more odd than all, none of the habitual residents — some of them persons of property — appeared to be aware that the establishment was dirty and uncomfortable. The heat of the house must have been fearful in summer and the smells pestilential; for, with a southern climate, the style of building maintained was that of small rooms and narrow passages of England. Nor was this a single instance. The other
94hotels in the city were worse; and some of my friends who have travelled through the Southern States have assured me that, except in the very large towns, the hotels are invariably of the same description. The truth is, that where the whites think it beneath them to work, and where the negroes will not work unless they are forced, you cannot expect domestic comfort.
"IF the visitor at St. Louis," writes the local handbook, "should chance to be benevolent, or literary, or educational, he will perhaps like to look at" — a number of institutions, which I grieve to say I did not go to see. It is an unpleasing reflection that I did not fall under any one of the above three categories, and must rank among the vulgar herd, for whom the guide-book adds, by way of consolation, that, "let them seek pleasure as they will, here are the opportunities to find it."
I confess that I sought and found my pleasure wandering about the streets of St. Louis. The place itself was a constant marvel to me. I found myself there, between eleven and twelve hundred miles from New York. Travelling night and day by express trains, you reach St. Louis from the Atlantic in forty-five hours — more than twice the time, and at about the same rate of travelling that you take in going express from Boulogne to Marseilles; and yet there are not two points in Europe separated by a couple of hundred miles, which
96are not far more unlike each other than New York and St. Louis. It is the capital city of the great West, the frontier town between the prairie and the settled country. Westwards, the railways only reach as yet a distance of a hundred and odd miles. The great overland caravans for the Pacific Ocean start from here during their short summer season, which was to begin in the middle of May, about a week after my arrival, and to end in the middle of August. The Indians still come to the city at times to barter; and furs and peltries are stock articles of St. Louis commerce. Yet even in the far West, on the edge of the prairie land, I found myself in a vast city, as civilized and as luxurious as any city of the New World. The story of its growth reads fabulous. Thirty years ago it had about 6,000 inhabitants. Twenty years afterwards, it had upwards of 100,000; and to-day its numbers are supposed to be some 30,000 more. The city is worthy, indeed, of the river on which it stands. The praise is not a low one, for to my mind the rivers of America are the one grand feature about its scenery. Here, twelve hundred miles from the sea, the Mississippi is as noble a river as one could wish to see; and yet, for two thousand miles above St. Louis you can sail up the Missouri, the true parent stream of the Mississippi river.
When once you have seen the Mississippi, you understand the feeling of the Western States about the possession of the river. Union men and Secessionists,
97Abolitionists and slaveowners, are all agreed on this one point, that come what may, or rule who may, the West must go with the Mississippi. You might as well ask Liverpool to allow the mouth of the Mersey to be held by a foreign power, as propose any arrangement or compromise to the West, by which the command of the Mississippi should pass from its hands. If the Father of Waters had poured into the Atlantic where the Potomac does, the Confederacy might have been a possibility; but the possession of the Mississippi has proved fatal to the existence of the South, as an isolated power.
The waters of the Western rivers were, at the time of my visit to St. Louis, higher than they had been for years, and for miles before you reached the Mississippi the railroad passed through flooded fields, and swamps expanded, for the time, into vast shallow lagoons. The river was full of great trunks of trees, torn up by the roots, and broken-down fences and dismembered rafts. The steamer ferry that carried you across landed you at the long quays, lined with stores and warehouses. There was not a sailing vessel on the wharves, as the current is too rapid for sailing craft to ascend the river; but, for a mile in length, the wharf was lined with the huge river-steamboats. Trade was slack when I was there, as it was everywhere along the Mississippi, but still there were boats enough coming and going constantly to make the scene a lively one. Up
98the steep slope of the hillside, on the western bank, the city rises in long, broad streets, parallel to the quay and, when it has reached the hill's brow, stretches away far on the other side across the prairie of the "Champ des Noyers," which still bears the name given it by the early French settlers. There is no look left about St. Louis of a newly-settled city. The hotels are as handsome and as luxurious as in any of the elder States. The shop-windows are filled with all the evidences of an old civilization. In the book-stalls you see, not single copies, but whole piles of the last Blackwood's, and Edinburgh, and Westminster Reviews; rows upon rows, too, of handsomely bound library books, such as Humboldt's Cosmos, and Macaulay's and Prescott's Histories. There are numbers of foreign book stores, where, if you liked, you could have bought Varnhagen von Ense's "Correspondence," or "Les Miserables" of Victor Hugo. Eight or nine daily newspapers (three of them, by the way, German, and one French) are hawked about the streets. The street railroads stretch over the town in every direction, but yet there are crowds of handsome carriages standing about for hire. You may ride for miles and miles in the suburbs, through rows of handsome private dwelling houses, the occupiers of which in England (where, on the whole, living is cheaper than in America) could not possess less than 500l. to 1000l. a year. All the private houses are detached, two stories high, and built
99of Dutch-looking brick. The door stands in the middle of the house, not on one side, and the windows are high, narrow, and numerous, as in our own houses of the ante-Pitt era. In all Western cities, the streets are so broad, and the houses so frequently detached, standing in their own plots of ground, that a Western city of one hundred thousand inhabitants covers perhaps three times the space it would in Europe. There may be poverty at St. Louis, but there is no poor, densely-populated quarter. In Missouri, the smokeless anthracite coal is not to be had, and therefore the great factories by the river-side cover the lower part of St. Louis with an English-looking haze of smoke; but the sun is so powerful, and the sky so blue, that not even factory smoke can make the place look dismal.
Of all the slave-cities I had seen, St. Louis was the only one where I could not observe the outward effects of the "peculiar institution." It is true that the number of slaves in the city is small, that it is almost surrounded by Free States, and that the German population is immensely large; still, to admit the truth, St. Louis is, in spite of slavery, one of the most prosperous cities I have travelled through in the States. The Attorney General, Mr. Bates, a citizen of Missouri, told me, and I have no doubt with truth, that the result of the existence of slavery had been to check the rapidity of the growth of St. Louis, as new emigrants always settled in a Free in preference to a Slave State, but
100though an Abolitionist himself, he said he was glad of the result, for otherwise the State would have been altogether overrun by foreign emigrants. Certainly there is already a foreign look about St. Louis. The climate, in the first place, is too hot — even at an early period of the year — for men to bustle about as they do in Northern cities. The shops thrown open to the air, the people sitting about the door-steps beneath the shade, and the closed lattice shutters of the houses are signs of the South. But, more than this, the actual proportion of foreigners is very large. In the names of the suburbs, such as the Carondelet, there are traces of French settlers; but the German emigration has swallowed up every other. In the streets one hears more German spoken than English. In talking to the class of persons, waiters, servants, shopmen, and porters, whom a traveller chiefly comes across, it is quite as well to speak in German as in English. Bock bier, lager bier, and mai-wein, are advertised for sale at every turning. Americans drink freely, and Germans drink copiously; and when the joint thirstiness of Americans and Germans is developed by a southern sun, it is astonishing the quantity of liquor that can be consumed. I should think, without exaggeration, that one-tenth of all the shops in St. Louis must be establishments where, in some form or other, liquor is drunk on the premises. I know, in the main street, I counted that, out of a line of fifty houses I took at hazard,
101twenty were bar-rooms, or wine stores, or lager saloons. German habits, too, have been imported into the city. Even in the lower American theatres, the audience smoke and drink beer, handed them by German waitresses. There are public "lust gartens" about the town, where German bands play at night, and where whole families, fathers, mothers, and children, come and sit for hours, to drink beer and listen to the music. Let me add, that having been in several of these places of entertainment, the audience was, for all I could see, as well behaved, though not so quiet, as it would have been in Germany. At one of these summer theatres, by the way, there was a troop of nigger minstrels, who sung a patriotic song, of which the chorus was, "The Union for ever, and freedom for all." Considering that Missouri is a Slave State, and the singers were, or were believed to be, negroes, there was a sort of bathos about the performance which it required an American education not to appreciate. I recollect, when Father Prout was in Rome, acting as correspondent of an English newspaper, he was invited to an American dinner, in honour of Washington's birthday. He was said to have been annoyed at finding he was expected to give an account of the festivities; at any rate, he closed his report with the following incident, which the other guests did not happen to remember: — "The chairman then proposed the toast of the evening — ‘Hail, Columbia, the land of freedom!’ —
102and called upon the Vice to acknowledge the toast by singing a nigger melody." The story was ben trovato, but here it was more than verified. It is a curious illustration of popular feeling, that the great comic song of the evening was one sung by a negro, and called, "What shall a poor nigger do?" One verse I recollect was loudly cheered, and ran as follows: —
And dere's de dam' 'Bolitionists,
But neiders on 'em right;
For dey spoil de Union, bof on em,
And set de country in a fight,
Den what shall a poor nigger do?"
It is possible the negro minstrels, in spite of their colour, were artificially black. One curious circumstance I noted also, that the leader of the theatrical orchestra, most of whom were Germans, was an undoubted and indubitable negro — a thing which would not be tolerated in the Northern States.
The town, moreover, is crowded, like a Bavarian or Papal one, with the offices of the State lottery. It shows the practical working of the American Constitution, when you consider that the United States Government has no more power to hinder every State in the Union from establishing lotteries than we have to require Belgium to suppress the gaming tables at Spa; and it shows too, the wise action of the State Governments, that in only three out of the thirty-six States, and these all
103Border Slave States — Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri — are lotteries permitted by the local laws. The system is even more iniquitous for the players than the Papal one, a thing which beforehand I thought impossible. There are 78 numbers, of which 13 are drawn. It is easy enough to see that the chances of your guessing one, two, or three of the numbers drawn are within a fraction, 6, 30, and 273 to 1; yet, if you do happen to win, you only get once, twice and a half, and twenty-five times your stake respectively, and from these winnings 15 per cent. is deducted for commission. The lottery is drawn twice a day, instead of once a week, as it is in Rome; and you can stake any amount you please, from a shilling upwards. From the number of offices about, the business must be a thriving one; and this fact may possibly account for the State taxes being very light in Missouri, and for there also being a great deal of poverty.
As yet the manufacturing element of St. Louis is little developed. There are great beds of iron ore in the State, and coal-mines are within easy access by river. Had it not been for the political troubles, large iron factories would have been set up in the city before now, but for the moment all the progress has been suspended. Still, in few years' time, St. Louis will probably be the great iron manufacturing city of the West and South, if not of the whole Union. For the present, its great trade is as a depôt of agricultural produce. In 1860,
104the last year during which the river was open, the shipments from St. Louis by the New Orleans boats alone, not to mention the shipments by railroad, were —
|Indian Corn||1,209,678 sacks.|
I have only taken the six principal articles of export out of a list of some four-and-twenty. St. Louis, too, is the starting-point and depôt of the Prairie carrying trade, in which over three millions sterling are said to be invested annually. In 1860, there were employed on this trade, during its short season, 11,691 men, 844 horses, 7,374 mules, 67,930 oxen, and 6,922 waggons, to transport about 18,000 tons of freight. The greater portion of the freight is conveyed to, and the means of transport supplied at, St. Louis.
Political feeling, as far as I could learn, has run extremely high in Missouri. Ever since the war broke out, the State has been a battle-field between North and South, and has suffered fearfully. Up to the present day, the Southern part of the State is more or less in the hands of the Confederates, and has been successively devastated by rival bands of guerillas. Amongst the native settlers, the Secession party is very strong, as in all Slave States. The chief St. Louis paper — the
105Missouri Republican — was in favour of neutrality and compromise till after the fall of Fort Sumter. In May last, though a staunch advocate of the Union, it obviously disliked the Abolitionists far more than it did the Secessionists, and kept hinting constantly its desire for such a compromise as would bring the South back with its institutions unimpaired. It deprecated strongly bitter language being used towards the Southerners, and threw doubts (and I believe with truth) on the Northern stories of the atrocities committed by the Confederate soldiery. On the other hand, the party represented by the Republican was not the most powerful numerically, though the most influential one. The Germans, who command the elections in St. Louis, are Black Republicans, followers of Fremont and Carl Schurz and Sigel. Their Abolitionism is not dictated by moral feelings, like that of the New England States, but is founded rather on a practical conviction that slavery is a vicious system of labour, than on any absolute regard for the negro. To do them justice, however, they have much less antipathy to the coloured race than the native Americans, and are to a man opposed to the legislation which seeks to exclude free negroes from the State. Moreover, though their Union feeling is very strong, their reverence for the Constitution is small, and their respect for State rights still less. I remarked that even the native Republican papers were shocked at the irreverence which their German colleagues spoke
106of the Constitution, and implored them not to broach the heresy, that if the Constitution did not work it must be changed forthwith. It was easy to see how this different "stand-point" — to use a German word — was beginning to work practically in electoral matters. In August, the election for members of Congress was to come on in Missouri, and, in May, the electoral campaign was beginning. Mr. Blair, the brother of the Postmaster-General, who was supposed to represent President Lincoln's views in Congress, was offering himself for re-election, and the native Republican party were supporting him strongly. He is, and has been for years, an Abolitionist, and, still more, the staunchest of constitutional Union men. The Germans, however, were dissatisfied with him. They stated, and not without reason, that his Abolitionism was of no practical service, as he was not willing to interfere with the States or with their rights of deciding the question of slavery; and that the scheme of deportation, of which he was supposed to be the chief advocate with the President, was not only impracticable, but unjust, both to the taxpayer and the negro. Mr. Blair had written a letter to the Germans of St. Louis to try and justify his opinions, but, up to that time, without effect.
Till early in last year, St. Louis had been under military, not martial law, and Secession partisans were supposed to be very active, if not numerous. In all the bar-rooms you could still see notices, that the license had been granted
107by the Provost Marshal, subject to the holder taking an oath that he was, and would be, faithful to the Union for ever, and that any breach of the oath might be punished by death. At the same time, the evidences of a strong Union feeling were numerous, and St. Louis was the only Slave State city I visited where the Federal flag was frequently hung out of private dwellings.
ALL railroad systems are perplexing to a stranger, and the American is about the most. What with State divisions, and impassable rivers, and competing lines, and the enormous distances you have to travel over, it would be hard to steer one's course aright through the railroad labyrinth, even if you had available local timetables to steer by. But what makes the matter worse is, that nowhere except at the railway stations, and not always there, can you find any time-table at all. There is no revealed evidence as to American railroads, and so you have to base your faith on natural laws, and support it by undesigned coincidences from the reports of hotel-keepers and fellow-travellers. Still, as in matters of more importance, knowledge so derived is not conclusive, and you may possibly argue falsely.
I myself was a case in point. On the walls of the Galt House at Louisville, there hung an advertisement, brilliant with all the colours of the rainbow, stating in every variety of type that the shortest route to Cairo,
109St. Louis, Kansas, and the Pacific Ocean was by the Ohio and Mississippi and Illinois Central, and that the express train started nightly at eight o'clock. The report was confirmed by collateral testimony on the part of the landlord, and trusting to it I set forth on my journey, under the belief that, barring accidents, I should be carried to my destination without unnecessary stoppage. The train was in truth an express one, and throughout the night I slept luxuriously in the sleeping cars, rocked to sleep, not unpleasantly, by the swaying motion of the train as we dashed onwards through the level lands of Indiana.
But joy in this instance did not come with the morning. It is not pleasant at any time to be woke up at five A. M.; still less to be tumbled out, chilled, half-awake, and out of humour, on the platform of a lonely road-side junction; and least of all to be then and there informed that the branch train does not leave for fourteen hours. The fact was, that, according to the appropriate American phrase, "I had not made good connexions," and the result of my error was, that I had to spend a livelong broiling summer day at Odin Junction. In the "Dame aux Perles" of the younger Dumas there is a long account of how the artist-hero, in his hunt after the pearl-clad duchess, was detained (if I remember rightly, by want of funds) for some awful period at a railway junction in the plains of Galicia. The story had well-nigh faded out of my
110memory, but as I stood there, shivering on the platform of Odin City Junction, the whole narrative rose to my mind, and I recalled with dismal distinctness how the luckless Oscar or Adolphe loitered about that dreary lonely station, where there was nothing to read, nobody to speak to, nothing to do, nowhere to walk, nothing even to watch for except the arrival and departure of the trains. There may seem no great hardship in being kept a day in a strange place, when you can spend some hours at least in strolling about and making yourself acquainted with it; but the fatal peculiarity of my case was, that when you had once walked up and down the platform you literally knew the whole country as well as if you had been settled there for years. It is impossible to conceive a country more hopelessly and irredeemably flat and bare and unbroken. As far as the eye could reach, the rich green pasture-lands of Illinois stretched away unchequered by a single tree, like the surface of a vast billiard-board. I have read somewhere that when you stand on the sea-shore you can see fifteen miles of water ahead. If so, from the platform of the station, which was raised a foot or so above the ground, you must have seen fifteen miles of plain in every direction. In the far distance, on either side of the line, there rose a grey belt of trees where the prairie ended and the swamps began; but this belt, and the telegraph poles, and a score or two of scattered houses, were the
111objects which rose above the dead level. The narrow single track of the railroad seemed to be drawn out like a line of wire till it dwindled out of sight, the two furthest points visible at either extremity being in one straight line with the spot on which I stood, and for miles and miles away you could watch the railway trains after they had left the station.
In half a dozen years there will probably be a large town at Odin Junction, and already, as the inhabitants told me, the city had made a surprising start; but as yet it required an American's faith in the doctrine of development to foresee the coming greatness of Odin. You could number its houses on the one hand. There was the station, the hotel, one settler's house alongside, and two shells of houses — all wooden by the way — in the process of building. Within a walk you could see about as many more scattered over the fields. And this was all. The odd fact, however, about this, as about all new American settlements, was, that it had not to develop from a village into a town; but that it has started into existence as the fragment of a city. So, here in Odin (why the Junction should be named after the Northern god I could not discover), there was an hotel large enough for a town of a thousand inhabitants. The one completed settler's house was as pretty and comfortable a cottage ornée, with its snow-white hall and green Venetian blinds and neat outhouses, as would see in Boston; and the two houses in the
112course of building will be, when finished, of a like size and look. The ground was already marked out for the church and the schoolhouse; and you could see that the buildings were carefully arranged so as to form the main street, with the railroad passing through it. When that is finished, there will run out Walnut and Chestnut Streets parallel to it, intersected at right angles by the numbered thoroughfares, and the houses now built or building will take their places naturally in Odin city.
It must not be presumed, however, that the whole of these reflections were made upon the platform. Odin Junction, like many other things in America, turned out better on near acquaintance than at first sight. The hotel, like all hotels in the Free States, was clean and comfortable, and as the owners were Germans the cooking was wholesome. Somehow or other the day passed lazily. We breakfasted at six, dined at twelve, had tea at six, and supped at eight. All these were strong substantial meals, each the counterpart of the other, and consisting of steaks, eggs, ham, cakes, and coffee. Our company at table was composed of one or two travellers detained like myself, of the railway officials, guards, clerks, and porters, of the workmen who were putting up the houses hard by, and of the landlord's family. Eating took up a good deal of time, and the process of digestion occupied a good deal more, and watching the new houses building was a quiet and not laborious amusement. The builder was an Englishman,
113who had emigrated young, had been an overseer in Alabama, then turned cattle driver in Kansas, had made money there, set up a store in St. Louis and failed, and now, when an old man, was beginning life again as a carpenter. He had not touched a tool for years, as he told me, and had never learnt the trade of carpentering, but he had a knack that way, and when he came to Illinois and found there was no carpenter round about Odin, he turned his hand to the trade, and seemed sanguine of building the whole of the city. He had orders on hand already, he told me, for twelve houses. Most of the inhabitants in Odin were Germans, and preferred talking German to me when they found I understood it, but the children spoke English, and hardly understood their mother-tongue.
There was one beauty, and one beauty only about the scenery. On that flat pasture prairie-land, and beneath that burning sun, the shadows cast by the passing clouds swept to and fro in deep dark masses. In our own hilly, wooded, hedge-divided country you never witness the sight of a cloud-shadow projected in its full glory. It is only in the Roman Campagna and in the western prairies that this spectacle is possible. Watching the clouds pass lazily, I speculated on an idea that often crossed my mind in America. What must be the effect on a nation's character of being born and reared and bred in a country where there is nothing old to reverence, and nothing grand about the
114scenery, where even such beauty as there is, is so protracted and extended that it becomes monotonous by repetition. One obvious effect has been produced already, and I think inevitably. The single grand feature about American scenery is its vastness; and so for the American mind, sheer size and simple greatness possess an attraction which we in the Old World can hardly realize. There is much that is absurd about the manifestation of this sentiment, and English critics have taken hold freely of its ludicrous side. But I am not sure that there is not also something grand about it. When a settler at Odin boasted to me of the future greatness of the city, the boast struck me at first as ridiculous, but I reflected afterwards that it was this pride and this belief in future greatness which had settled and civilized the New World whereon I trod. And so the day passed by and night came on almost at once, as it does in these southern countries after the sun's setting.
A long night again on the rail, and then another early waking, this time not on a platform, but in the middle of a swamp. Some eight miles above Cairo the whole country was under water, and the line was flooded. However, alongside the embankment, in the midst of a forest standing knee-deep in water, there was a flat, platform-shaped barge, with a steam-engine in the middle, which, in some mysterious way I am not engineer enough to explain, propelled the raft, for it was nothing else. We were a long time getting off, as
115the train was loaded with medical stores, on their road to Corinth, in expectation of a second battle. It was hard work, shoving the unwieldy cases down the steep embankment; and harder still dragging on board the coffins, of which there were numbers, sent by friends far away, to receive the remains of soldiers who had died at Pittsburgh Landing. Whatever may be the faults of Americans, they work hard when they are about it; and, in the course of a short time, the raft was loaded, till it sank flush with the water's edge. Fortunately the water was not deep; and, moreover, I had firmly impressed upon myself the advice which a Northern friend gave me when I set out on my journey, that the one thing needful in American travelling is unquestioning faith. I presume that, in ordinary times, a road runs through the forest over whose track we sailed. At any rate, we followed an opening through the trees. Our raft, which was about as unwieldy in steering as the Monitor (judging from what I saw of that much over-vaunted miracle), had a way of jamming herself in between trunks of trees, and then had to be strained round by ropes back into the current. At other times she got aground, and had to be punted off with poles; and when she was clear afloat, she would run foul of floating "snags" and swing round the way she was wanted not to go. Happily the current was so rapid that it carried us over every difficulty, and, somehow or other, dodging our heads constantly, as we passed under the
116overhanging branches, we made way slowly. It was a pretty scene enough, in the bright fresh morning, when the leaves wore the first green tint of spring, and the shadows of the great trees were reflected in the water beneath the rays of the rising sun. So, winding our way through the forest swamp, we came out on the Ohio river, and there transhipped ourselves and our freight on board a steamer, which bore us down the rapid stream to the point where its waters joined the Mississippi, at the city of Cairo.
There are some places in the world which, when you get to, your first thought is — how shall I get away again; and of these Cairo is one. A Yankee legend states, that when the universe was allotted out between heaven, earth, and hell, there was one allotment intended for the third department, and crowded by mistake into the second; and that to this topographical error Cairo owes its terrestrial existence. The inhabitants boast, with a sort of reckless pride, that Cairo is also the original of the "valley of Eden," in which the firm of Chuzzlewit and Co. pitched their location; and a low hut is pointed out, which is said to be the identical one that Dickens had in his mind, when he described the dwelling where Mark Tapley immortalized himself. The description of the Chuzzlewit journey down the Mississippi is utterly inconsistent with this hypothesis; but I felt it would be cruelty to deprive my informant of the one pleasant reminiscence which his city could afford. The
117Mississippi and the Ohio meet at an acute angle, and on the low narrow neck of land which divides the two, stands Cairo. The whole town is below the level of the river, and would be habitually under water, were it not for the high dykes which bar out the floods. As it is, Cairo is more or less flooded every year, and when I was there the whole town was under water, with the exception of the high jetty which fronts the Ohio. On this jetty, the one great street of the town, the railroad runs, and opposite the railroad are the hotels and stores, and steam-boat offices. On the land side of the jetty there stretches a town of low wooden houses standing, when I saw them, in a lake of sluggish water. Anything more dismal than the prospect from the windows of the St. Charles Hotel, out of which I looked over the whole city, can hardly be conceived. The heat was as great as that of the hottest of the dog-days with us; and the air was laden with a sort of sultry vapour we scarcely know of in England. A low mist hung over the vast waters of the Mississippi and the Ohio, and stole away across the long unbroken line of forest which covered their muddy banks. The sun burnt down fiercely on the shadeless wooden city; and whenever there came a puff of air, it raised clouds of dust from the dry mounds of porous earth of which the jetty is formed. The waters were sinking in the lagoon, and the inhabitants paddled languidly in flat-bottomed boats from house to house, looking to see what damage
118had been done. A close fetid smell rose from the sluggish pools of water, and fever seemed written every where. Along the jetty alone there were signs of life, and even that life was death-like. Long trains of empty luggage vans were drawn upon the rails on which the poorer settlers had taken refuge, when they were driven out of their dwellings by the flood, and in these wretched resting-places whole families of women and children, mostly Irish, were huddled together miserably. The great river steamboats were coming-up constantly from the camp before Corinth, bringing cargo loads of wounded and sick and disabled soldiers, who lay for hours upon the jetty, waiting for means of transport northwards. There were piles, too, of coffins — not empty ones this time — but with the dead men's names inscribed upon them, left standing in front of the railway offices. The smoke of the great steamboat chimneys hung like a pall over the town, and all day and all night long you heard the ringing of their bells and the whistling of their steam as they moved to and fro. The inhabitants were obviously too dispirited to do what little they could have done to remedy the unhealthiness of their town. Masses of putrid offal, decaying bones, and dead dogs, lay within eye-sight (not to allude to their proximity to the nasal organ) of the best dwellings in the city. The people in the street seemed to loaf about listlessly, the very shopmen, most of whom were German Jews, had barely
119energy enough to sell their goods; and in all Cairo there was not a newspaper printed, a fact which, in an American city, speaks volumes for the moral as well as the physical prostration of the inhabitants. The truth is, that the town is a mere depôt for transhipping goods and passengers at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the great Illinois Central railroad. There is money to be made there, and therefore people are always found to come and settle at Cairo for a time. But the time, either by choice or stern necessity, is always a very short one. At first, the wounded soldiers from the army at Shiloh were sent up to Cairo, but the mortality amongst them was found to be so great, that the hospitals were closed, and the sick shipped up the river to Louisville and St. Louis, far away as they lay from the scene of action.
It had been my purpose to go on from Cairo to the camp of the western army, and the battle-field of Pittsburgh Landing. Shortly, however, before my arrival, I found that very stringent orders had been issued by General Halleck, then in command, against allowing civilians to visit the army on any pretence, and an attempt to obtain a pass would have necessitated a reference to head-quarters at Washington, and consequently a delay of many days at Cairo. There were ague and fever in the bare idea, and so unwillingly I turned mysteps northwards to the States of the free West.
OF my journey through Illinois it is not necessary that I should speak. One journey in the West is the exact counterpart of the other, and I have said already all that I have to say on the subject. The point of my destination was the city of Racine, where I happened to have friends settled. It lies just beyond the extreme northern frontier of Illinois, while Cairo is at the extreme south. I travelled straight, almost as the crow could fly, along the line of which General McClellan was chairman not long ago, with even less profit to the unfortunate shareholders than he has afforded to American people. Yet such are the enormous distances in the West, that travelling almost without stopping, at the rate of some five-and-twenty miles an hour, my journey occupied a day and a half.
Very few of my readers will probably be aware that there is such a city in the world as Racine, still less where it is placed. It must be a map of pretty recent date to have the name inscribed on it. It will be sufficient, however, to say, that it is on the western
121shore of Lake Michigan, sixty miles north of Chicago city, and if the reader does not know where the lake and the city are, he can find them by referring to his atlas. There is nothing remarkable or worthy of description about Racine, and it is for that very reason — pardon the paradox — that I wish to describe it. Years ago, there was a man who invented a machine which turned out hexameters, — real Latin ones, not nondescript ones of the Clough or Longfellow type. There was no meaning in them, but the words placed in the machine were so selected that, in whatever order they happened to turn out, they arranged themselves in hexameters. If you had wanted to give a specimen of a machine-made hexameter, you would not have picked out a line in which, by some strange chance, there was a faint glimmering of sense or poetry, but one with the true standard meaningless monotony. Now all western cities seem to have been turned out by a city-making machine, warranted to produce a city of any size, at the shortest notice, and therefore, in describing the cities of the West, any average one will stand for all — the more average a one the better. Private circumstances, moreover, caused me to see a good deal of Racine; and, indeed, made my stay so pleasant there, that I shall always think gratefully of the dull little town on the shores of the great inland sea.
Racine stands upon the Root river. Whether the town is named by translation from the river, or the
122river from the town, is a moot point on which the historians of the place are divided. Some persons suggest that the connexion between the names of the town and river is purely accidental, and that the city was named after the great French tragedian. It may well be so. There is no limit to the eccentricities of American nomenclature, and there are probably a dozen towns in the United States named after Racine, Rousseau, and Corneille. Whatever doubt there may be about the reasons to which Racine owes its name, there is as yet no legendary uncertainty about its birth and origin. There are men of middle age, now living in the place, who have lived through the whole life of the city, and who yet came here as full-grown men. A quarter of a century ago, when General Jackson, as Democratic President, suppressed the State Bank of the Union, which owed its origin to the Whigs, hundreds of new private banks sprang into existence, and deluged the country with an extemporized currency. There followed a period of wild speculation, chiefly in the lands of the North-Western territories. Steamboats were then first coming into full use, and, through the chain of the great lakes, hundreds of thousands of emigrants from Europe and the Eastern States were carried by steamboats to the western shores of Lake Michigan. After a time the banks failed; there was a commercial crisis, the speculators were ruined, but the emigrants remained. The
123prairie land was fertile, the Indians were few and peaceable, and communication with the civilized world was cheap and expeditious. In a few years, the country was colonized far and wide, and towns sprang up in every direction. It was then that Milwaukee, and Chicago, and Racine were founded. Veni, vidi, edificavi, should be the motto of Western settlerdom, so rapid is the growth of cities in the West. From some cause or other, of the three sister cities Racine has been the least prosperous. Chicago and Milwaukee have gone ahead so fast that Racine has been altogether distanced in the race, and bears the reputation in the West of a sleepy, humdrum place. To an Englishman, however, its quarter of a century's growth appears wonderful enough.
Along the shores of the lake there stretches a low, steep, sandy cliff, and upon its summit stands the city of Racine. Looking out on the great lake, there is little at first to tell you that you are not standing on the shore of the ocean. There is no trace of tide, and the breeze brings with it no savour of the salt sea; but the horizon on every side is bounded by water alone. Great ships, with snow-white sails, may be seen passing the lake the far distance, and when the wind blows from roar and splash, as though they had been driven across the ocean. The Root river, too, with its docks and warehouses, and schooners and swing-bridges, has a
124sea-port air about it, which, if not the real marine article, is a wonderful imitation. Along the brow of the cliff runs the Main-street of Racine, and, as usual, a series of streets parallel with, and at right angles to, Main-street, completes the town. The whole place looks very new — newer even than it ought to look after some six and twenty years of existence. Houses in this part of the world are short lived. All Western cities hold to the earth by an easily-snapped cable. As fast as a settler makes money, he pulls down his house, and builds up a new one. If a householder gets tired of his position, he puts his house on wheels and decamps to another quarter. The lake has of late made inroads on the cliffs of Racine, and, when I was there, many of the residents on the sea-shore were moving their houses bodily to a safer locality. What with frequent fires, and a passion for house-building, there are probably few dwellings in Racine which remain such as they were when they were first built; and the settlers are now far older than their houses. Thus the Main-street of Racine is one of the most straggling and irregular of thoroughfares. Every now and then there is a block of stone office buildings, which would not be out of place in Broadway or in Cannon-street. Next door, perhaps, there is a photographic establishment, consisting of a moveable wooden hut; and, in the aristocratic extension of Main-street, a sort of suburban avenue, there is every style and grade of building. The favourite order
125of architecture is a sort of miniature model of the Madeleine at Paris, in wood. Even the office where the local dentist tortures his patients, is entered beneath a Corinthian portico, supported by fluted wooden pillars, of six feet in height. But amidst these wooden dwellings, each standing in its own garden, there are to be found stone mansions such as you might see in Palace Gardens, or in the more aristocratic terraces of Upper Westbournia. Then there is a public square, a park, a court-house, a dozen churches and chapels, and meeting-houses of every denomination. The town is rather at a stand-still at present, in the matter of internal improvements, as, by different jobs and speculations, the corporation has contrived to run itself about eighty thousand pounds into debt. The street-lamps, therefore, as in many of the Western cities, are not lit, though there is a gas-factory in the town; and the roads are left pretty much as nature made them. However, better times are expected for Racine. A line was to be opened within a few weeks of my visit, connecting it directly with the Mississippi, and then it is hoped that it will compete successfully, in the grain trade, with its rival Milwaukee, and that the harbour, on which twelve thousand pounds have been expended by the town, may become the great port for the Eastern traffic.
It is curious, as you stroll about the streets of Racine, or for that matter, of any other small Western city, to
126notice the points of dissimilarity between it and an English county town. The differences are not very marked ones. You never see in England a High-street like the Main-street of Racine, but each single house might stand in an English street without attracting especial notice. There are some slight features, however, about the place, which would tell you at once you were out of England. The footpath is made of planks; the farmers' carts, with which the street is filled, are very skeletons of carts, consisting of an iron framework supported by high narrow wheels, on which a small box is swung, barely large enough for the driver to sit upon. Big names are in fashion for designating everything. The inns are houses or halls, the butcher's is the meat market, the dentist calls himself a dental operator, the shops are stores, marts, or emporiums, and the public-houses are homes, arcades, exchanges, or saloons. There is nothing indeed corresponding to the old-fashioned English public-house. The bar-rooms, of which there is a plentiful supply, are, externally, like common shops, except that the door is covered by a wooden screen, so that the drinker is not exposed to the gaze of the passers in the streets. Here, by the way, as everywhere in the States, you never see a woman even in the poorest of bar-rooms. The shops themselves are about as good or as poor as you would find in a town of the like size (Racine has 12,000 inhabitants) at home. What is un-English about them is the number
127of German labels and German advertisements exhibited in their windows.
The amusements of Racine are about as limited as if it stood in our midland counties. Judging from the posters of ancient date which hung upon the walls, a passing circus, an itinerant exhibition of Ethiopian minstrels, and an occasional concert, were all the entertainments afforded to the inhabitants. Some of the street advertisements would have been novelties to English townsfolk. A Mrs. Francis Lord Bond was to lecture on Sunday evenings on spiritualism: a fancy fair was to be held for the Catholic convent of St. Ignatius, and a German choralverein was to meet weekly for the performance of sacred music. Then, even in this remote and far away corner of the States, there were the war advertisements. The Mayor announced that a great battle was expected daily before Corinth, and requested his townspeople to provide stores beforehand for the relief of the wounded. The Ladies' Aid Committee informed the female public of Racine that there would be a sewing meeting every Friday in the Town Hall, where all ladies were requested to come, and sew bandages for the Union soldiers; every lady to bring her own sewing-machine. Then, too, there was the requisition of the Governor, calling for recruits to fill up the gaps in the ranks of the Wisconsin regiments, who were cut to pieces on the field of Shiloh.
Of course, a town of the importance of Racine must
128have a press. In more prosperous days there were three dailies published there; but times were bad, and the dailies had collapsed into weeklies. These were the Advocate, the Press, the Democrat; and a German paper, the Volksblatt. As a sample of a Western country newspaper, let me take a copy I picked up of the Racine Advocate. It is of the regular unwieldy English four page size, and costs six shillings annually, or fire halfpence a single number, and is headed with a poetical declaration of faith, that
No favours win us, and no fears shall awe."
The advertisements, which occupy two of the four pages, are chiefly of patent medicines, business-cards, and foreclosure sales. The local news, as in all American country papers, is extremely meagre, and there are no law reports or accounts of county meetings. The politics of the papers are staunch Republican and anti-slavery, and the leading articles are well written, and all on questions of public not local politics, such as the Confiscation Bill, General Hunter's Proclamation, and Federal Taxation. There was a short article headed "L. L. D. Russell," which bore traces of Irish origin. "It was with no little satisfaction," so the Advocate stated, "that the loyal people of the North saw the announcement that ‘Our Own Correspondent’ had engaged passage back to England. We
129pity the readers of the Times who have got to unlearn all that they have been taught to believe of us for a year past. We'll venture a prediction, that in less than six months the Times will discharge the L. L. D., and make him the scapegoat of its malice and traitor bought attacks on the Federal Government." With the exception of this outburst on the subject of Mr. Russell, the language of the Advocate was sensible and moderate enough. There were letters from the war, copied out of New York papers, and lists of the killed and wounded in the Wisconsin regiments; but fully one page of the paper was occupied by short tales and poems. When I say that their headings were, "How the Bachelor was Won," "A Girl's Wardrobe," "Gone Before," and "Katie Lee," the reader will have no difficulty in realizing to himself what the description of intellectual varieties afforded by the Advocate consisted of. If he cannot do so by the light of his own experience, let him read any number of the Family Herald, and he will do so at once without crossing the Atlantic. Before I leave the subject of journalism at Racine, let me mention one incident I learnt about it, which is characteristic of the old as well as of the new country. The Racine Advocate built a handsome block of buildings, which quite eclipsed the office of the Press. Unfortunately, the proprietor of the Press discovered that the windows
130of the Advocate's new printing-room could be shut out from the light if a taller store was erected alongside; and so he built an office next door to the Advocate, in order to block up its windows! Country editors, it seems, remain the same race of men in the New World as in the Old.
Society in Racine is still in a primitive stage. Dinner parties are unknown, and balls are events of great rarity; but tea-parties, to which you are invited on the morning of the day, are of constant occurrence. Probably there is as much scandal and gossip here as in an Old World country-town; but there are not, as yet, the social divisions which exist with us. If you inquire the names of the owners of the handsomest houses in Racine, you will find that one, perhaps, began life as a stable-boy, another was a waiter a few years ago in an hotel of the town, and a third was a bricklayer in early life. On the other hand, some of the poorest people in the place are persons who were of good family and good education in the Old World. A short time ago, the two least reputable members of the community were an ex-member of a fashionable London club and a quondam English nobleman. This very mixture of all classes which you find throughout the West gives a freedom, and also an originality, to the society in small towns, which you would not find under similar circumstances in England. If I were asked whether I
131would like to live in Racine, my answer would be an emphatic negative; but if the choice were put to me, whether I would sooner live there, or in an out-of-the-way English county-town, I am afraid that nothing but patriotism would induce me to decline Racine.
The Prairie and the Mississippi.
IN company with the friend at whose house I was stopping in Racine, I went out into the prairie to visit the town of Lanark, situated on the extreme north-western frontier of Illinois. It is no good referring to any map of the United States to ascertain the locality of this city. It had not then completed the first year of its existence, and was inscribed on no chart or map as yet designed. Probably, beyond the circle of twenty miles round Lanark, there were not a score of people who knew that there was such a place in the world, still less that it was a rising locality. In the far West, cities start into existence like Aladdin's Palace. You read of this mushroom growth in books of travel, but it is hard to realize it without seeing it on the spot. You pass through the vast city of Chicago, along its splendid streets and quays and avenues, and are told that thirty years ago no buildings stood there except an old mud fort, raised to keep off the Indians, and that the first child ever born in the city was only married the other day. You are told so, but you hardly believe it,
133or, at any rate, you form no idea of how the solitary fort grew into the mighty city. To understand the process of development, you must take a baby-town just beginning to stand alone, and not the full-grown giant of a metropolis. It is for this reason, and because, in French phrase, I have "assisted" at the birth of Lanark City, that I have taken it as the specimen of a Western settlement. I was not, indeed, the first representative of the English Press who had been at Lanark. Six months before I was there, Mr. Russell had visited the place with the same friend who brought me thither; but at that time the town was an idea only, and Mr. Russell passed the day shooting over the ground on which the town now stands. I may fairly claim therefore, in a literary point of view, to have discovered Lanark, and, discoverer-like, wish to lay before the world the result of my discoveries.
Between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River lies the prairie-land of Illinois. From the river to the lakes there run a host of railroads, and amongst them there is one, now in process of construction, called the Racine and Mississippi Railroad. If you take any map of the West, and draw a straight, or what the Americans call an "air-line," from Racine to the nearest point of the Mississippi, you will have before you the exact course of the railroad in question; and twenty miles are so from the river lay the then terminus of the line, Lanark City. It was in company with Mr. George
134Thomson, the English projector of the railroad and the founder of the city, that Lanark and I made acquaintance with each other. The course of emigration, naturally enough, caused the borders of the great river and lake highways to be first occupied by settlers; and it is only slowly, as population increases, that the inland districts of the Western States become settled. Thus the interior of Northern Illinois is still a great prairie country, dotted here and there with new cities. Railroads are not constructed there to connect existing towns, as much as to open out new ranges of country; and if the Racine and Mississippi had to depend upon the custom of the inhabitants settled along its route before the line was made, its chance of profit would be a small one. For miles and miles our road lay along the silent, almost deserted, prairie — every now and then a low cutting through a hillock, sometimes a short embankment over a hollow, and then a flat bridge carried on piles across a marshy stream; but as a rule, a long level track, scarcely raised above the ground, and stretching without curve or bend for miles before and miles behind you. Right in the middle of the prairie, the rail came to an end at Lanark.
Alongside the depôt there stood a sort of railway caravan, which had been the first house of Lanark. When the rail was finished, there was not a hut or covered dwelling of any kind on the spot, and so this caravan was sent down there as a shelter for the railroad
135servants. By this time it had served its purpose, and I heard the order given for its transmission back to Racine, in order to be used elsewhere for a like object. Close to the station there was an hotel built already, not a pot-house or a roadside tavern, but a genuine, well-ordered inn. Of course, being in America, it had a bar-room, a public room with long tables, and public meals at fixed hours. It was clean too, and neatly furnished, as hotels in the Free States mostly are. The only national institution in which it was deficient was a gong. The first landlord — there had been three already — had levanted, taking that inevitable deafening instrument of torture with him on his departure, and happily it had not yet been replaced. There was a piano in the house, belonging to the wife of a gentleman employed on the line, and in his room I found copies of Macaulay's History, and of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall." The hotel was the property of the Company, and had been built by them to induce settlers to come to the place, and it seemed to be doing a good business. Meanwhile, the town was fast growing up around it.
Lanark, like all Western cities, is built on the simplest of plans. The owners or projectors of the settlement buy a certain number of acres, draw out a plan of the town, dividing it into the streets and lots, and allow any purchaser to build any sort of dwelling on his lot he likes. The houses may be as irregular and unlike as possible; but, as the spaces alloted for the streets are not
136allowed to be encroached upon, the general plan of the town must correspond with the chart. The map of the city had been drawn out by a Scotch clerk in the service of the railroad, who had undertaken the task of naming the streets. To display his nationality, he had given Scotch names — Bute, Argyle, Forth, Moray, and Macs innumerable — and had only condescended to American prejudices so far as to permit of there being a Main and a Chesnut Street. Most of these streets, however, were still streets of the future, and the influx of population had as yet only called Main and Bute Streets into existence. The first of these is the commercial thoroughfare of Lanark, and in it there were some twenty shops already established. I noticed two competing ironmongers and tinmen, whose stores seemed plentifully stocked, two or three rival groceries, two saddle and harness makers, and a couple of beer and oyster saloons — a tailor's, a shoemaker's, and a lawyer's office. Besides these, there were two large stores building, one of which was to be a furniture warehouse, and the other, I think, a dry-goods shop. Bute-street consisted of private cottages. A number of shanties, too, were scattered round the place, but not close enough yet to one another to form streets. Every house in the place was of wood, many of them two, or even three, storeys high. The majority of the houses had curtains and green veranda shutters, and even the poorest I looked into were far superior in
137comfort to an ordinary English labourer's cottage, not to mention their being clean and airy. The streets were mere tracks of prairie-land, hardened by the wheels of teams, of which the town was full; but there were planked footpaths raised along Main-street.
The object, indeed, for which Lanark has been founded is to form a depôt for agricultural produce. The fertile plains of the vast prairie will produce boundless supplies of wheat and corn. There is no clearing to be done before these plains can be cultivated. For some cause or other, which nobody appears to me to have explained as yet satisfactorily, trees do not grow spontaneously upon the prairie, fertile as it is; and for miles on every side of Lanark there was scarcely a tree to be seen. A New England farmer, who had lately removed there, told me he should never feel at home until he had brought some rocks from the Pilgrim State, and planted trees between their crevices, so as to form a miniature Massachusetts of his own. The richness of the soil is something marvellous. You have but to turn it up some three inches deep, and the land will yield crops year after year without rest or manure. An acre will bear from thirty to forty bushels, and wheat fetches from half-a-crown to three shillings a bushel. Indian corn or "corn" as it is called there, is so plentiful that in many winters it is burnt for fuel. With such prices the only thing which stops the cultivation of wheat is the difficulty and expense of bringing
138it to market; and as fast as the railroad removes this difficulty, the cultivation extends rapidly. On one day, within a few weeks of the railroad being opened, three hundred team-loads of wheat were brought to the single station of Lanark. The population therefore of the city consists of farmers, and of dealers who have come to provide for their wants. There is, of course, a great deal of luck about Western towns, as about all other speculations in a new country; and it is impossible as yet to say whether Lanark will succeed in becoming the depôt of its district; but its prospects are flourishing. Its population, as far I could gather, numbered already about 300 persons. There was no church yet built, but every week there came some minister or other, who preached in a room at the hotel. The people were already making arrangements for establishing schools. One of the chief settlers, with whom I had some conversation, talked of raising 1,000 dollars in the town for this purpose, and said that he hoped to get as much more from the Education Fund of Springfield, the county town of Lanark district. The first public meeting in the town was to be held the week following my visit, to consider the school question, as the railway company had offered to give land for the school buildings at unusually low prices. The site of a church was, I understood, fixed upon, and I had pointed out to me a long square of prairie-land, which is to be hereafter the park of Lanark. If, a dozen years hence, the park were
139to be surrounded by stone mansions, the growth of Lanark would not be more surprising than that of other Western cities.
The railroad was pushing on fast toward the Mississippi. It was strange to any one who, like myself, had seen a good deal of European railroad-making, to watch the rough-and-ready way in which this line was carried forward. The low mound of earth, on which the single line of rails was placed, was heaped up hastily from a trench cut on either side. You would have fancied that the weight of the engine would crush down the embankment, and break through the flat bridges supported on the slender wooden piles. But, somehow or other, American railroads work well and serve their purpose. The cost of construction was low enough to make the mouth of an English shareholder water, being under two thousand pounds a mile. This, however, is unusually cheap even for America; and I believe the cost of the Illinois Central, over as easy a country, was about eight thousand pounds per mile. What makes this cheapness of construction the more remarkable is, that wages were high. The rate of pay for common unskilled labourers varied from four to six shillings a day; and the teams, gangs of which were brought in to the work by farmers settled in the neighbourhood, were paid for at the rate of ten shillings daily. It is probable, moreover, that the farmers worked at a low rate, as the funds for the line were chiefly provided by
140promissory notes given by them, and secured by the mortgage of their farms. A very large proportion of the workmen were Irish; and the meadows along the line were covered with shanties and gipsy-tents, where Irish women and children huddled together, in as close a proximity to their state of native dirt as the fresh air of the prairie would permit of. The sale of whiskey or intoxicating liquors was prohibited, by a sort of extempore lynch-law; and I was struck by hearing the American overseer go round to the different shanties and tell their inmates, that if he heard of their having liquor on the premises he would pull down the huts over their heads. From what I saw of my friend Mr. Smith, I have not the slightest doubt that, though the most good natured man in the world, he would have kept his word to the letter.
In this out-of-the-way spot, as everywhere in the West, the war was the one subject of talk. It was too far North for Secessionism, and the people to a man were staunch Unionists. A report came while I was at Lanark, that Richmond was taken. There was a flag staff in the main street, and at once the stars and stripes were hoisted in honour of the supposed victory. It was striking, too, to observe how thoroughly all these farmers and settlers were "posted," in American parlance, on the events and politics of the war. To most of them, as Illinois men, Lincoln and McClellan (from his connexion with the Illinois Central) were known
141personally, and their merits, as well as those of other American statesmen, were discussed freely and often ably. Mr. Stanton seemed the most popular of the public men of the day, chiefly on account of his anti-slavery views. Indeed, in these Northern States of the West, popular feeling appeared to me to be more genuinely Abolitionist than in any part of the Union. There was little sentiment expressed about the negro's wrongs; but there was a strong feeling that slavery is a bad system, and a disgrace to the country; and, still more, there was a bitter hostility — almost a personal antipathy — to the slaveholding aristocracy of the South. Half-measures, or patched-up compromises, found little favour with those plain matter-of-fact Western men: "The slaveowners have made the rebellion, and they ought to pay for it. The North has been half-ruined by the South, and the South is rightly punished if she is ruined altogether. Compensation to rebels is absurd, and loyal men ought not to be called upon to pay for the property of rebels. If the South chooses to burn its cotton, and produce a famine in its own territory, so much the better. The more slaveowners are ruined, the better for the Union." Such was the purport of the sentiments I heard expressed; the form of expression was, in general, a great deal too emphatic to be repeated literally. McClellan, with his supposed pro-slavery views, was looked on with open distrust, and spoken of, even at that period, with undisguised
142contempt. Lincoln, with his compensation scheme, was thought not to be up to the mark; and the policy which seemed to please this village public best was that of General Hunter, which gave a knock-down blow, for once and for all, to slavery and slaveowners.
Still, in this western world of the North, it was only the rumour of war, not the war itself, that the traveller came across. The great tide of the civil war had not spread so far northwards. Illinois and Wisconsin regiments there were in the fight, and plenty, but the States themselves had been but little affected directly. According to the popular English view, the whole country is in a state of revolution, trade is bankrupt, and the entire progress of the nation stopped for years to come; yet here, in the West, in the very heat of the war, there was a great country growing into existence by rapid strides. The great march of civilization was still, as ever, tending westwards, building railroads, clearing forests, reclaiming wild lands, raising cities, and making the wilderness into a fertile country. This progress westwards across the prairie is the great fact of American history; and those who want to understand the real character of the present civil war, must remember that this progress is still going on without ceasing. The growth of Lanark is one little incident in the history of the West, and it is as such I have dwelt upon it.
It was near Lanark that I first caught a real glimpse
143of the Prairie. We have all laughed, or by this time ceased laughing, at the story of the Irishman who brought a brick from the Pyramids, to show his friends what the Pyramids were like. Yet I know not that the Prairie could be described better, to those who have never seen it, than by bringing home a spadeful of prairie-sod, and telling the spectators to multiply that sod in their minds by any multiple of millions they choose to fix upon. In truth, there is nothing to describe about the prairie except its vastness, and that is indescribable. I suppose most of us in our lifetime have dreamt a dream that we were wandering on a vast boundless moor, seeking for something aimlessly, and that in this dreary search after we knew not what, we wandered from slope to slope, and still the moor stretched before us, endless and unbounded. Such a dream I, for my part, remember dreaming years ago; and as I drove for a mile-long drive across the prairies of Northern Illinois, it seemed to me that the dream had come true at last.
East, west, north, and south — on the right hand and on the left — in front and behind, stretched the broken woodless upland. Underneath the foot a springy turf, covered with scentless violets and wild prairie roses; overhead a bright cloudless sky, whence the sun shot down beams that would have scorched up the soil long ago but for the fresh soft prairie-breeze blowing from across the Rocky Mountains; low grassy slopes on every side, looking
144like waves of turf rising and falling gently. Not a tree to be seen in the far distance; not a house in sight far or near; not a drove of sheep or a herd of cattle; no sign of life except the dun-coloured prairie chickens whirring through the heather as we drove along — nothing but the broken woodless upland. So we passed on, coming from time to time upon some break in the monotony of the vast dreamlike solitude. Sometimes it was a prairie stream, running clear as crystal between its low sedgy banks, through which our horses forded knee-deep, and then again the broken woodless upland; sometimes it was a lone Irish shanty, knocked up roughly with planks and logs, and wearing a look as though it had been built by shipwrecked settlers, stranded on the shore of the prairie sea. Farther on we came upon a herd of half-wild horses, who, as we approached, dashed away in a wild stampede; then upon a knot of trees, whose seeds had been wafted from the distant forests, and taken root kindly on the rich prairie soil; now upon an emigrant's team, with the women and children under the canvas awning, and the red-shirted and brigand-looking miners at its side, travelling across the prairie in search of the land of gold; and then again the silent solitude and the broken woodless upland.
These scanty breaks, however, in the monontony of the scene, were signs of the approach of civilization — warnings, as it were, that the days of the Lanark
145Prairie are well-nigh numbered. The railroad in which my companions were interested went right through the heart of the district. To my English ideas, the line looked like the realization of the famous railroad which went from nowhere in general to nowhere in particular. But American experience has amply proved that a railroad in the Far West creates its own constituency. In three or four years time the prairie over which I travelled will be enclosed; the rich soil will be turned up, and bring forth endless crops of wheat till, as a settler told me, the wide expanse looks at harvest-time like a golden carpet; and large towns may very likely be raised on the spot where the Irish shanties stood when I passed. Every year the traveller in search of the prairie has to go further and further west; but its extent is still so vast, that generations, perhaps centuries, must pass away before it becomes a matter of tradition. Settlers in the country tell one that it is necessary to live for some time upon the prairie-land in order to feel its charm, and that, when its charm is once felt, all other scenery grows tame. It may be so. I believe, without understanding it, that there are people who grow to love the sea, and feel a delight in seeing nothing but the wide expanse of the ocean round them for days, and weeks, and months together: so, for some minds, the endless sameness of the prairie may possess a strange attraction. For my own part, the sense of boundless vastness hanging over the scene was rather
146overpowering than impressive, and I plead guilty to a feeling of relief when we got out of the open land into the tilled fields and green woods, and cheerful villages which spread along the banks of the Mississippi river.
Of many pleasant river sails it has been my lot to make in different parts of the world, my two days' sail up the great Western river is, I think, the pleasantest. I came upon it some sixteen hundred miles from its mouth, source, and nearly the same distance from its mouth, far away in the north-west, where it forms the frontier line between the States of Wisconsin and Iowa. The spring freshets had been unusually high, and the floods were only beginning to subside, so that the expanse of water was grander even than it is in ordinary times; the flat shifting mud-banks, which the river forms year by year from the deposits of its rich alluvial soil, were covered with the flood, and in many places the water spread from bank to bank for a distance of three miles and upwards. How the steamer found its way amidst the countless channels and between the thousand islands, all covered with the rich rank forests, and all the counter-parts of each other, is a mystery to me still. If ever there was a river worthy of the name of the "silent highway," it is the Mississippi. The great saloon steamers, with the single wheel placed at their stern, glide along so noiselessly, that to me, used to the straining and creaking of an English steamboat, it seemed difficult to believe that the vessel was in
147motion. The vast shallow flood rolls along without a swell, almost without a ripple. The silence of the great forests along the banks is unbroken by the sound of birds or of any living thing. For miles and miles together not a village or house is to be seen, and the river flows on as silent and as solitary as it must have flowed when De Soto first struck upon its course two centuries ago, and hailed it proudly as the "Father of many waters."
On either side the river rise high cliffs or "bluffs" as they are called there, of reddish sandstone. At a distance the great masses of rock, twisted into all sorts of fantastic shapes by the action of the water, ages and ages ago, look like the ruins of some old Norman castle. Sometimes the Mississippi rolls at the very foot of the overhanging cliffs; at others, a low swamp land, covered with close-set forest trees, lies between the river and the cliff. But to me the great beauty of the scene lay in the richness of the colouring. The wood-lands of England are tame and colourless compared with the green forests of the Mississippi in the first burst of summer, and the towering masses of rock, the patches of bare sandstone, and the hill-sides of the steep gullies that run down to the river, shone out with a depth and gorgeousness of colour that I had fancied was not to be found under a northern sun. As for sunsets, you should see them on the Mississippi, when the river, in one of its hundred twists
148and turnings, bends for a space westwards. Then you seem to be floating down the current towards a vast canopy of fire and flame and golden glory. There, indeed, you behold a sunset such as the fancy of Turner alone might have pictured, and sought in vain to realize.
Trade was dull on the Mississippi. At this early summer season the boats would have been crowded only two years ago by hundreds of Southern families flying from the deadly heats of New Orleans, but now we had scarce a score of passengers on board. There was but little life upon the river; two or three times a-day we passed steamers bound to St. Louis; and sometimes we came upon a string of huge lumber-rafts punted cautiously along by gangs of wild-looking red-shirted boatmen. But this was all. Every couple of hours or so, we touched at some small town on the river-side, to take up passengers, of whom there were few forthcoming. These towns are all alike, differing only in size. A long street of low houses, stores, and wharves fronting the river, a large stone building, generally an hotel which has failed, a few back streets running towards the bluff, perhaps a row of villas on the hill-side, and very often a railway depôt these are the common characteristics of a Mississippi town. The one beautiful thing about them is their position, nestling as they do at the foot of the cliffs, and this is a beauty which even the ugliness of the towns themselves cannot destroy.
There are still many traces in this part of the Mississippi of the early French settlements. Prairie du Port, Prairie du Chien, and Dubuque are names which bespeak their own origin. Along the river there are several French villages, or rather parts of villages. The inhabitants are a queer race, "jumbos," as the American settlers call them — half French, half negro, and half Indian. In this admixture of half-breeds the French element has kept the mastery, and they still speak a broken French and are all devout Catholics. They also retain the passion of the French peasant for his land. No price will induce a half-breed to part willingly with his land, but he is content to possess it without seeking to improve it. Indeed, the development, physically as well as morally, of this mixed breed has not been such as to strengthen the cause of the advocates of amalgamation between the white and the coloured population. They are a wild, handsome, gipsy-looking race, though not of sturdy growth. As a rule, they are an inoffensive people, but are dirty, ignorant, and indolent. They live chiefly by fishing and hunting, and die away gradually in the villages where they are born. As far as I could learn, there is no particular prejudice against them amongst the Anglo-Saxon settlers any more than there is against the Indians. Both races, half-breeds as well as Indians, are so obviously dying out that the feeling of the Americans towards them is one rather of pity than of jealousy. At Prairie
150du Chien, or "Prare doo Shane," according to the popular Western pronunciation, stand the ruins of large barracks. It seems strange in this land of railroads and steamboats and great cities to learn that these barracks were erected only thirty years ago, in order to protect the soldiers of the United States against the Indians in the famous Black Hawk war. The barracks are useless already, for the Indian has retreated hundreds of miles away. By these ruins I came upon the first party of genuine Indians I had seen. There were four of them, two men, father and son, with their squaws. They were very dirty, very ragged, and painted with all kinds of colours. They had bows and arrows with them, of the rudest kind, but their chief livelihood, I suspect, was derived from begging. They told us, in broken English, that they were very miserable, which I have no doubt was true; and the only trace of dignity I could see about them was that they took the small alms our party gave, with absolute apparent unconcern. The one piece of luggage belonging to the tribe was carried by the younger squaw, and that — alas! for Mohican romance! — was a teapot of Britannia metal.
Chicago and the West.
OF all American commercial cities, Chicago is, to my mind, the handsomest. Thirty years ago, not a house was standing there. Now, with its miles of wharves and warehouses, its endless canals and docks, its seventy churches, and its rows of palace-like mansions, Chicago is probably, both in size and importance, the third or fourth city in the States. There is an unusual uniformity about the buildings, from the fact that they have all been built almost at the same time, and the monotony of the straight rectangular streets is somewhat relieved by the Dutch-looking canals which intersect them in every direction. When, however, you have made the stock remark that, within a quarter of a century, a Trans-Atlantic Liverpool has been raised upon the swampy shores of Lake Michigan, you have said pretty well all that is to be said about the metropolis of the West. If a poor neighbour becomes a millionaire, you think it a remarkable occurrence, and possibly you regard him with envy; but I don't think,
152judging from my own ideas, that you are struck with a reverential awe. So, in like manner, when you have once realized the idea of how Chicago has grown out of nothing in no time, you have about exhausted the subject. Barges, and drays, and steamboats, and factories, are much the same all the world over. Goethe is constantly reported to have said (though I own I never came across the saying in any of his writings), that there was more poetry in a spinning-jenny than in the whole Iliad of Homer. It may be so, but Goethe never tried to write a poem about a factory, and so I defy any one, except a land agent, to expatiate on the beauties and glories of Chicago. To me it is remarkable and noteworthy, chiefly as the centre of the New World, which is growing up with a giant's growth in those Free States of the North West. A commercial panic, a change in the route of traffic, might destroy Chicago, but no human power could destroy the great corn-growing region of which, for the time, it is the capital.
At the period of my visit, Illinois was undergoing one of those periodical revolutions which seem so strange to English politicians. The whole State was about to throw off its Constitution as a snake casts its slough, and Chicago naturally enough was the head-quarters of the agitation, such as there was. Politics run high in Illinois. It is the State, by birth or by adoption, not only of President Lincoln, but of Stephen
153Douglas, his great Democratic rival in the late Presidential contest. The struggle in Illinois was a bitter and a close one. Lincoln polled 172,161 votes against 160,215 for Douglas, and of the 7,000 and odd voters who wasted their strength in behalf of the Whig candidate, Bell, and the pro-Slavery candidate, Breckinridge, probably nine-tenths would have voted as between the two for Douglas against Lincoln. There was no free Western State where the Republican majority was so small, or where the Democratic party had so great an influence. It is very hard for an English student of American politics to understand the meaning in which party names are used in the North, and probably most Englishmen who were asked to define the difference between American Republicans and Democrats would state, that the former were anti-Slavery men, and the latter pro-Slavery. At best, this is a half truth. In our English sense of the words, Republicans and Democrats approach much more nearly in politics to Liberals and Conservatives. When an Englishman reads, as he does in all American political discussions, that the Slaveocracy of the South supported itself by an alliance with the Democracy of the North, his impression is, that the Democratic party advocated all that class of measures which would be in favour with an Old-World Democracy. The impression is erroneous, because the demos of the New World (I am speaking especially of the Western States) exists under essentially
154different conditions from the demos of the Old World. Where everybody is a voter, and where every voter is a man of some property, and generally of some landed property, the ruling demos will be a demos of small landholders, and both the prejudices and principles of such a class are essentially Conservative in many ways. A love for local institutions, a dislike to government interference, a jealousy of any privileged class, an ignorant aversion to taxation, a strong regard for the rights of property, and bitter national prejudices and vanities, are pretty sure to be amongst their distinguishing characteristics. Political parties must be judged by their relative, not by their actual, principles. An American Conservative, if he supported the same measures in England that he does in America, would be far ahead of Mr. Bright in Radicalism, just as under like circumstances an English Tory would be an ultra-Democrat in Austria. Still, for all that, there is in each country a distinct Liberal and Conservative party. Thus, in reality, the Republicans are the Liberals, and the Democrats the Conservatives of America. It is hardly fair to the Northern Democracy to allege that it tolerated slavery simply for the sake of Southern politics support. Any national interference with slavery was an interference with State rights, and the essence of Democratic Conservatism is to support vested rights and local independence against the action of the Central Government. Stare super antiquas vias, "the
155Constitution as it is, and the Union as it was," is thus the rallying cry of the American Democracy. If the reader can picture to himself what the politics of England would be if there was no unrepresented class, and if the vast majority of the voters were small householders or landholders, he will have little difficulty in seeing what would be the politics of the party which bid highest for the support of the majority. Free trade would be attacked as vehemently as the game laws. Toleration would be as unpopular as tithes, and a demand for tenant-right would be accompanied by a cry of "England for the English." Under very different conditions, a somewhat similar state of things exists in America.
Thus, even if the Slavery issue were removed tomorrow, the struggle between Republicans and Democrats would continue, possibly under different names, and new party organizations, but still the same in principle. The struggle then going on between the two parties in the State of Illinois had little directly to do with Slavery, and illustrated the tendency of American politics, as well as the working of State Government. The present constitution of the State has been in force since 1847. It is one of the most democratic, in our English sense of the word, of any of the State constitutions. There is manhood suffrage, and one year's residence is sufficient to qualify a stranger for citizenship. The Governor, the Senate, the House of
156Representatives, and the Judges, are all elected directly by the people, and no property qualifications are required. In 1860, when the last State elections took place, the Republicans were in the majority, and, as usual, filled the Assembly and the public offices exclusively with members of their own party. The Republican majority was a narrow one, and since that time the Democrats had regained strength, and had carried a number of casual elections; so that they believed that they could command a majority in the State, as they already did in the Assembly. In the natural order of things they must have waited till 1864 before they could elect a Democratic governor, or replace their party in office. The Governor's term of power is for four years, and, during that time, in the State, just as in the national Government, there exists no possible method, short of impeachment, for removing the head of the State, or turning out the Ministry. Two years, however, was a long time for hungry office-seekers to remain out of power; and, moreover, it was by no means certain that the course of public events might not shortly restore the prestige and fortunes of the Republicans in the State of Illinois. Under these circumstances, the Democrats hit upon an ingenious idea. There had long been a talk of passing some slight amendments to the Constitution. The Democrats improved upon the idea, and passed a vote in the Assembly, that a Convention should be held to submit a new Constitution to
157the electors. If the new Constitution was ratified by the people, all existing offices would be vacated, ipso facto; and the Democratic party would be able to secure their nominees a four years' lease of power, as, even in Illinois, a new Constitution would not be passed again much under ten years' time. A new Constitution therefore was drawn up by a Convention, in which the Democrats were in the majority, and was on the eve of being submitted to the people at the time of my visit. In form and spirit of government there was little difference between the old and the new Constitutions. The real object of the reform was to secure a change of office; and the alterations introduced were chiefly designed to attract the favour of the voters. The nature of these new provisions, or bids for popular support, threw some light on Illinois politics. In the first place, economy was promised in the public administration. Under the old Constitution, the Assembly had the power of voting supplementary grants to Government officials for extraordinary expenditure. This power had given rise to abuse, and the Governor's salary had been raised "by indirection," according to a new-coined phraseology of the West, from three hundred pounds to six hundred pounds annually. So, also, the annual compensation allowed by law to members of the Assembly amounted to eighteen hundred pounds in all. But, by various grants, for postage, newspapers, and sundries, the amount expended amongst them reached
158nearly six thousand per annum. By a self-denying ordinance, it was proposed to do away with all "indirection" in future, so that every servant of the public should receive his salary and not a cent extra. In obedience to the same economical principles, various offices were to be consolidated. The expense of printing private bills was to be borne by their promoters, the number of judges was to be decreased, and grand juries (which cost the State twelve thousand pounds in 1861) were to be suppressed, except in cases where the punishment was death or penal servitude, and even then the number of their members was to be reduced from twenty-three to fifteen. What would have been the amount of these various savings was not stated by the Convention, but was left so hopelessly indistinct, that the Republican papers asserted, with much plausibility, that it would have been more than swallowed up by the power proposed to be given to the Assembly, of fixing themselves the salary of all public officials, including their own, after the first election had taken place. Several of the principal alterations in the Constitution were proposed with the view of catching the support of the working-classes. It is a very common thing for Western railroads to get hopelessly embarrassed. On many of the lines the labourers and officials have had their pay kept back for months, and sometimes have been finally defrauded of it. To remedy this evil, the rolling-stock of railroads
159was henceforth to be regarded as personalty, not as real estate; and was to be liable to seizure for contract debts, "so as not to be beyond the reach of judgments in favour of the honest working-man, whose toil has built the road, or whose supplies were furnished to it." Provisions also were to be made "to secure and "enforce a lien in favour of the mechanic and producer, upon the result of their labour and material combined." As most of the Western railroads have been built with Eastern or foreign capital, these clauses would read ominously to me, if I were unfortunate enough to be a shareholder in an Illinois railway. By another proviso, the Homestead Law was to be introduced, by which a married man's dwelling is secured to him and his family against any claim for debt "in order to protect and guard the families of the poor against the rapacity of creditors."
In the great panic year of 1857, from which the West has never thoroughly recovered, every corporation and public body of any kind was involved directly or indirectly in speculations. In railroad companies alone the indebtedness of counties and cities in the State exceeded three millions sterling, and many a town is still crushed by the failures of that year of panic. The collapse of the speculative mania had caused the popular instinct to fly into the opposite extreme; and by the new Constitution, every municipal corporation was forbidden either to take shares in, or to guarantee
160in any way whatever, any chartered company. The effect of this act, if enforced, would have been to stop all the internal improvements so much needed in the State; but, for the moment, the proposal was popular as a precaution against over-trading. From similar causes banks of issue were out of favour in Illinois. By the laws of the State, every bank was required to guarantee its issue by depositing a certain fixed amount of the stocks of some State of the Union with the local Government. The banks naturally bought the stocks of the Southern States, which always stood lowest in the market; and as after secession these stocks became absolutely unsaleable, the Illinois banks stopped payment while the securities held by the State could not be realized. To obviate a recurrence of this calamity, the new Constitution proposed that no new banks at all were to be created, and no old charters extended; and that no notes or promises to pay of any description whatever were to be issued by the existing banks after 1866. How the currency was to be supplied was a difficulty which never seemed to have struck the convention. "An influx of gold and silver will supply the deficiency." This was an assertion made confidently; but what was to be given by the State in exchange change was a question not considered worth entering on.
The most striking clause, however, proposed by the new Convention was that about negroes. It ran thus: —
161"No negro or mulatto shall migrate to or settle in this State after the adoption of this Constitution;" and further, "No negro or mulatto shall have the right of suffrage, or hold any office in this State." Every other clause was expounded, and defended at length, in the Report of the Convention. This one, I hope because its authors were ashamed of it, was passed over without a word. Its insertion formed a strange indication of the power of popular prejudices. The Democratic party have not a stronger feeling of personal dislike to the free negroes than the Republicans, but the class is unpopular with the people of Illinois, partly on account of race, partly because there was an ignorant idea that a large negro immigration would follow emancipation, and thus lower the wages of labour. So, in order to secure votes for their party, the Democrats raised the cry of "Illinois for the white man!"
A similar clause was appended to the existing Constitution, but was rejected at its adoption in 1847. The Republican papers were extremely confident that the new Constitution would not be adopted, and still more for positive that the negro clause, which was to be voted for separately, would be rejected by a large majority. On the other hand, the Democrats were equally positive that both would be carried. The result proved that either party had over-calculated their strength. If the Democrats could have succeeded in their attempt to tack the vote against the negroes on to the vote for
162the Constitution, they would probably have succeeded in their main object. Baffled in this, they failed to secure popular support. The clause excluding free negroes from the State was passed by a large majority, but the proposal for a new Constitution was rejected by a majority nearly as decisive. It is, by the way, a curious fact that the Illinois soldiers in the army of the West, who were stationed in Slave States, voted almost unanimously against the negro clause.
Another incident in Illinois State politics, which occurred at this period, is a strange instance of the strength of the old State-right's feeling. By the laws of Illinois all State taxes must be paid in gold and silver. After the act of Congress was passed making Treasury-notes a legal tender, the tax-payers sought to pay their taxes in Treasury-notes. The State Treasurer refused to receive them, not on account of there being any loss to the State by taking them, as Treasury-notes were then at par, but because he was forbidden to take anything but bullion by the State laws. A friendly suit was instituted by the authorities of the State, in order to investigate the rights of the case. On being tried before the Illinois Circuit Judge of the Supreme Court, this suit was decided in favour of the State. It is true that the Supreme Court was nominated during the reign of the old Democratic party, and has always favoured extreme State-right doctrines; but still, this decision, just or unjust, gave a severe
163blow both to the value of the Treasury-notes and the authority of the central Government. If a State law, passed to regulate its own local affairs, over-rides a law of Congress passed for the whole nation, it is difficult to see how the same principle may not be extended to many other and far more important questions.
So much for the politics of Illinois, on which I have dwelt as illustrating in their most settled form the tendencies of Western administration. The West, however, is so vast a region, and comprises States of such different physical and geographical conditions, that ultimately the different portions of the district will doubtless exhibit distinctive features of their own. At present, the fact that each Western State has been colonized much at the same time and much in the same manner, has given a temporary character of uniformity to their systems of politics. As years go on, new forms of society will doubtless develop themselves there. The West is pre-eminently the country of the future. When Prince Napoleon travelled, at the out break of the war, through the Western States, he remarked to an acquaintance of mine, that, in not many years to come, the valley of the Mississippi would be the centre of civilization. The remark was probably dictated in part by the natural desire of a Frenchman to say something gratifying to his entertainer, but in part also by the far-sightedness of a Napoleon. It must be an unobservant traveller who
164goes through this region without having the conviction forced upon him that the West is destined to play a part, and that no insignificant one, in the world's history. Everywhere railroads are building, towns are growing up, and, above all, the wild soil of the prairie is being turned, almost without an effort, into the richest corn-growing country. Rapid as the progress of railroads is, the growth of the soil is more rapid still. In many parts of the West there are said to be three years' crops of wheat stored up, waiting only for delivery till the means of transport are provided. Indian corn is so plentiful that it is burnt for fuel, and on the prairie there is pasture-land for all the herds of cattle which the world can boast of. Centuries well-nigh must pass, even with the astonishing increase of population, before absolute want is known in the West by any class, or before it ceases to be the granary of the New World, if not of the Old also. These are the economical conditions under which the West is rising into national existence: the political conditions are not less remarkable. All the North-western States have been founded by individual enterprise: they owe nothing to Government aid, or support, or patronage. Every farm and town and State has been created by the free action of settlers — doing as seemed best in their own sight. The West, too, more than any part of the Union, has been colonized by one uniform class. There have been no aristocratic families amongst the first colonists, as in
165Virginia or Maryland, and even, in some measure, in Kentucky and Tennessee; no original Dutch settlement, as in New York; no dominant religious leadership, as in the New England States. In the West all men are equal as a matter of fact, not at all as a matter of abstract theory. The only difference between man and man is, that one man is richer than another. But fortunes are made and lost so easily in this part of the world that the mere possession of wealth does not convey the same power or importance as it would in an older and more defined civilization. I quite admit that this dead level of society has its disadvantages. For a man of refined tastes, and imbued with the teachings of Old World culture, the West must be a wearisome residence. It would be so, I think, for myself. As the undergraduate said, when he was asked to describe the structure of the walls of Babylon, "I am not a brick-layer." Not being a bricklayer of any kind, social or political, I have no taste for living in brick-fields; and the West is nothing more as yet than a vast political and social brick-field, upon which, and out of which, some unknown edifice is to be raised hereafter, or, rather, is raising now. Still, there are some lessons which may be learnt already from the young history of the West, and chief amongst them is the force of self-government. There is little power to compel obedience to law, still less is there any superintending authority to tell men what they ought and ought not to do; but, somehow or
166other, there is a general security, a respect for law, and a peaceable order, which seemed to grow up without any forcing process. Wherever you have slavery, you have rowdyism also; but, in the Free States of the West, the rowdy proper is as unknown as the slave.
But the more pressing question with regard to the West is, what its influence will be on the war. We in Europe look upon the struggle as solely one between North and South, and can scarcely realize the fact that the West will, in a few years, be more powerful than the North and South put together, and is virtually the arbiter of the struggle between the two. As Mr. Hawthorne once remarked to me, "We of the Old States are nothing more than the fringe on the garment of the West." Now, about one fact there is no doubt whatever, and that is, that the West has thrown its whole power into the cause, not of the North, but of the Union. Two essential conditions are required for its development — one, that it should have free access through the great lakes to the Atlantic; the other, that it should hold the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico: and the only way by which both these conditions can be satisfied is, by the whole country between the lakes and the river being held by one Government; while the only Government which can so hold it, as a matter of fact, is one which more or less resembles the old Union. So much for the present. The future of the West, which is not a dream, but an unfulfilled reality,
167requires an extension of the same conditions. During the present generation the great Pacific railroad will become an accomplished fact. Then the whole influence of the growing States of the Pacific sea-board will be thrown into the scale of the West, and will enable it to demand even more imperatively than at present that free access to the Atlantic which can only be secured by the whole country between the two oceans being subject to one Government. It requires no great amount of thought or education to understand these conclusions, and the Western men are sufficiently educated by the free-school system and the more important teaching of political self-government to appreciate them fully. The West means to preserve the Union, and is as determined as the North — perhaps more so, though on different grounds. It was curious to note the difference of tone about the war in the West and in the North, as expressed both in the press and in conversation. There was much less of regard for the Constitution as an abstraction, much less of sentimental talk about the "fathers of the country," or the wickedness of secession. On the other hand, there was a greater regard for individual freedom of action, and a greater impatience of any Government interference. The truth is, the enormous German element in the Western population has produced a marked effect upon the state of public feeling. To the German settler the fame of Washington inspires no particular reverence.
168The names of Franz Sigel and Carl Schurtz and John Fremont carry more weight than those of Jefferson and Hamilton and Madison; and the traditions of the War of Independence are not so vivid as those of '48 and the campaign of Sleswig-Holstein. They are attached to the Union because it secures the prosperity and development of their new country, and because it has proved a good Government to them, or rather, has allowed them the unwonted privilege of governing themselves. The German element, it is true, is modified with wonderful rapidity into the dominant American one; but still, in the process of absorption, it modifies the absorbent.
In like manner it is easy, as I have remarked before, to trace an essential difference of feeling with regard to the question of Abolition in the Free West and in the North. With the New England States, Abolition is a question of principle and of moral enthusiasm. In New York and the great Central States, the abolitionist feeling is checked and hampered by the national reverence for the Constitution. Even amongst the most ardent Abolitionists in the North there are few logical or sincere enough to admit that the maintenance of the Constitution may prove incompatible with the abolition of slavery; and Wendell Phillips is the only Abolitionist who faces this dilemma boldly, and asserts that, if it should arise, then the sooner the Constitution perishes the better. Now, in the West, abolitionism is
169practical, not sentimental. Two propositions with regard to slavery have established themselves firmly in the Western mind. The first is, that slavery in the West is fatal to the progress of the country; the second, which has been adopted chiefly since the outbreak of Secession, is, that the existence of slavery at all is fatal to the peace and durability of the Union. Given these propositions, the West draws the conclusion that slavery must be abolished; and, if emancipation should prove inconsistent with the Constitution, then the masterwork of Washington must be modified. To do the Germans justice, too, they are, with the exception of the poorer Catholics, anti-slavery on principle. In the school in which they learnt democracy, the doctrine of the rights of man was not qualified by a clause against colour.
These remarks of mine must be taken as expressing rather the general tendency of what I saw and heard in the West, than as a description of the exact state of public feeling either then or at the present day. Like all America, the West, though in a less degree perhaps, is in a state of political upheaving. Politics and parties and principles vary from day to day, with the events of the war. The one point on which all Western men seemed agreed was, that the insurrection must and should be suppressed; and the war, in every railway car and tavern and house you entered, was the sole topic of talk and interest. You could not forget the
170war, even if you had wished. Every carriage on the railway trains was laden with sick or wounded soldiers, travelling homewards to be nursed, and, if I could judge their faces rightly, to die. So far, the West had done the hardest part of the fighting, and still appeared ready to fight on to the end. With this mention I must pass on from the West. I trust it may never be my fortune to settle in a new country; but, if it should be, my prayer is, that it may be in the Free West, on the country watered by the Mississippi river.
"THE oldest house in all Boston, built MDCLVI." This was the notice over a mercer's shop in Washington Street, which caught my eye in entering Boston. The shop was one of those little wooden pill-box houses you see about seaport towns at home, which might as well have been built yesterday or a thousand years ago. In itself it contained nothing noticeable; but what rendered it remarkable was that, in this new world, age should be considered any recommendation. It is, I think, Swift who suggests that in an ideal State, all citizens who attained to the age of sixty should be removed as public nuisances. Throughout the West there is a like feeling with reference to inanimate objects. If an hotel is old, travellers cease to frequent it; if a house is old, the owner begins to rebuild it; if a tree is old, it is cut down at once. It is not that the Americans have no reverence for antiquity; but that, settlers in a new hemisphere, they bear with them, unconsciously perhaps, the traditions of the old. Methuselah would not
172have attached much value to an heirloom bequeathed by his great grandson to his great-great grandson; and, in like manner, the Americans, whose language and whose race is that of Hengist and Horsa, can hardly consider it a point of great interest, whether a building is two, or twenty, or two hundred years old. In fact, the feeling of Americans towards England is a mixed and often a contradictory one. An American is almost always offended if you tell him that America is very like England. He has a conviction — not altogether I think an absurd one — that his country ought to have a separate individuality, which makes the idea of his nation being the copy of another almost repugnant. At the same time he has an opposite conviction, which I would not gainsay, that, equally with the native-born Englishman, he is the descendant of the England of Shakespeare, and Hampden and Bacon. It is this conflicting state of sentiment which causes half the difficulties between England and America. America is at once proud of England and jealous of her; and I see little prospect of a state of stable equilibrium in the matter of friendship between the two countries, till America has got what she is fast getting, a literature and a history and a past of her own.
This, however, is rather a roundabout manner of coming to the conclusion I wish to draw from my observation of the mercer's shop in Washington Street, Boston, which proclaimed its antiquity as a recommendation
173to the public. Here, in New England, alone perhaps in all America, is such an inscription possible. Coming, as I did, to Massachusetts from the Far West, my prevailing feeling was, all along, that I had got back to an Old World civilization. Having reversed the ordinary route of European travellers — having made Boston my terminus, and not my starting-point — I was perhaps more struck with the oldness of New England than with the characteristics which belonged to it as a portion of the New World. Montalembert said once, that when he was weary of despotism, he came across the Channel to take a bath of freedom. So, if I were settled in the Western World, I should come to New England from time to time, to take a bath of antiquity. Old and new are relative terms, and the change is as great in coming from Chicago to Boston as it is in passing from England to Massachusetts. Be the cause what it may, I felt, and felt pleasantly, that I was getting home. One must have wandered, as I did for months, through new cities and new States and new locations, to know the pleasure of coming back to a country where there is something older than oneself. The olive-leaf which the dove brought back to the ark was welcome as a token of the older world rising above the dull level of the flood; and so this one inscription of a building that dates from two centuries ago was welcome as a memory of the past to one who was well-nigh weary of the promises of the future.
But, indeed, it needed no Western training to find Boston pleasant in the month of June. After six weeks' residence there, I was unable to discover on what plan the city was built, if, which I doubt, it was ever built on any plan at all. The very names of the streets are good English names, which tell you something about their several histories — nothing about their relative location. There is no such address in Boston as "No. 1000A Street, between 100 and 101Z Street." The street cars do not take you, as elsewhere in America, to Pekin, Peru, Paris, Constantinople, and Jerusalem; but to old-fashioned English suburbs — Cambridge and Charlestown, and Roxbury and Watertown. So State Street — it used to be King Street — Fremont, Beacon, Leveret, Mount Vernon, and a hundred other streets, run in and out of each other at all kinds of angles, up and down all kinds of slopes, in a perfect chaos of disorder. Somehow or other you always keep coming upon the sea in all sorts of unexpected places; and, whichever way you strike out, you always get back to Washington Street. This is all that I could learn as to the topography of Boston. But even though you do lose your way, it is pleasanter to an ill-regulated European mind to go wrong in Boston than to go right in St. Louis or Chicago.
There is even a pleasure (I make the confession with a sense of humiliation) in being received at an hotel where the waiters wear white neckties and are pompous
175as well as civil. There are no mammoth hotels, no rows of commercial palaces, no stores of gigantic height, resplendent with marble facings; but, on the other hand, there are streets upon streets of solemn, cosy Dutch-brick houses, looking as though a dozen generations had been born within their walls and carried out from behind their doors. Before each house there are little patches of grass-plot gardens hemmed in by iron railings of substantial respectability. At the corners of the streets, perched in the most inconvenient localities, there are old stone-built churches which must have heard our King Georges prayed for on many a Sunday. There is a State-house with a yellow gilt dome of the Brighton Pavilion order of architecture, which it could have entered into the head of none but an English architect to conceive. In quaint nooks, right in the city's heart, stand old-fashioned English graveyards, looking as if they had been brought over from the city in the days while city trees still were green; and, in the very centre of Boston, there is a fine old park full of ups and downs, and turf and knots of trees, which must have been the especial charge of the King's forester, whose house you can still have pointed out to you not far from the city.
Putting aside the dreary six months' winter of ice and snow, I would choose Boston for my dwelling-place in the States. The town itself is so bright and clean, so full of life without bustle; and then the
176suburbs are such pleasant places. Bunker's Hill, I own candidly, I did not go to. Talking of Bunker's Hill monument, there is a story told in Boston which is worth repeating. An English nobleman, who visited America not long ago, was taken to see the stock sight of Boston. "It was here, my lord," said his American guide, "that Warren fell." "Dear me!" replied the peer, staring at the monument in blissful ignorance of who Warren was, "I hope he did not hurt himself." Let me add, that during my stay at Boston, I learnt two facts about the battle of Bunker's Hill, of which, to judge from myself, I think the English public are completely ignorant. The first is, that the battle was fought on the same day as the battle of Quatre-Bras. The second is, that it ended in a British victory, though a victory of the Cannae kind. On learning this, I felt absolved from the necessity of visiting the monument.
The truth is, there are so many pretty places about Boston, that it is hard to choose among them. On every line by which you enter the city, you pass for miles by hundreds and thousands of pleasant country-houses, sometimes grouped together in villages, sometimes in knots of two or three, sometimes standing alone in their own gardens. There is no superstition in New England about the neighbourhood of trees being unwholesome, and in the early summer the houses are almost buried beneath the green shade of the over-hanging
177foliage. Out of the city itself the houses, with few exceptions, are built of wood. Stone is more plentiful there than timber; in fact, the whole State of Massachusetts is little more than a great granite boulder covered over with a thin layer of scanty soil. Wood, however, is preferred for house-building, partly because a wooden house requires less labour in construction, and labour is expensive and far from plentiful, partly because wooden dwellings dry more quickly, and are more habitable than stone ones. To show how scanty skilled labour is still in New England, I may mention that some friends of mine, who live a few miles from Boston, wanting in last May to have a store-closet fitted up with shelves, sent for the only carpenter within reach. The man was quite willing to undertake the job, but could not find time to fix it up till the following August; and so it being Hobson's choice, my friends had to wait till he was disengaged.
It can only be the high price of labour which hinders Massachusetts from being a very poor country. I have never seen fields elsewhere at once so picturesque and so barren. They are very small for the most part, sometimes surrounded with stone fences built up laboriously, at others divided off by hedge-rows reminding me of Leicestershire, rich in stones beyond description, and bearing the meagrest of crops. Great masses of rock rise up in their midst, and the ploughs seem to have turned up three handfuls of stones to
178one of earth. The system of agriculture, I should say, was very primitive, but painstaking. Indeed, the life of New England farmers is no easy one. They rise early, work hard, and toil year after year with bare returns for their labours. Why a man is a farmer in Massachusetts, or, for that matter, anywhere, is a mystery. I can only account for it by the, to me, unintelligible passion for the possession of land. The farms in the country districts have many of them remained in the same family from the earliest days of the colony. Property, as in almost all parts of America, is divided equally by custom not by law. Any man is at perfect liberty to make whatever disposition of his estate he thinks fit. As a rule, the eldest son of a New England farmer takes the farm, mortgages it deeply, to pay off his brothers' and sisters' shares in the estate, and then toils on, throughout his life perhaps, to clear off the incumbrances which eat up his scanty profits. Whenever the struggle becomes too hard, the great West is always open to give the settler a new start in life under kindlier auspices, and therefore real poverty is almost unknown in New England. As long, however, as the Massachusetts yeoman can make both ends meet in any way, he prefers to drag on his life at home.
Yet with all this, I saw nowhere the trace of poverty. I drove for miles along the pleasant country-roads, with their broad roadside strips of turf and their English hedge-rows; I passed through villages without end;
179and yet I never saw a cottage about which there was the unmistakeable stamp of want. It is true that white paint conceals a good deal of dirt, but still I saw no single cottage in which I should think it a hardship to have to live. Most of them had gardens, where wild vines and honeysuckles and roses were trained carefully. Through the windows you could see sofas, and rocking-chairs, and books, and lamps — all signs evidencing some degree of wealth, or at least of comfort. The poorest cottages were always those of the raw Irish emigrants, but still there was hardly one of them which was not a palace compared with the cottage of an ordinary English labourer, to say nothing of Ireland. It is curious, by the way, that there is a great deal of the old English prejudice against the Irish in New England. Intermarriages between the poor Irish and the poor New Englanders are almost unheard of, and it is a most unusual occurrence for an Irishman to be elected to any office in the State. However, the Irish make and, what is more, save money; and for the most part lose both race and language and religion in the third generation. The German element seems to be very small. A German name over a shop-door is a rare sight in the New England villages, and the names that catch a traveller's eye are good old English ones, such as Hurst, Bassett, College, Thompson, and Packard.
Of all country houses I have been in, some I know of near Boston seem to me about the pleasantest. There
180is no style, and very little pretension of any kind about them. There are none but women-servants, and but few of them. There are no luxurious carriages, and if you want riding-horses you must hire them. There is no display of plate or liveries; and you dine at two o'clock, and do not dress for dinner. Possibly for this cause you are all the more comfortable. At any rate, you have everything that, to my mind, a country house ought to have. There are pleasant gardens and shady walks, warm rooms and large old grates, easy chairs without number, portraits of English ancestors who lived and died before America was ever heard of, good libraries, and excellent cookery. Added to all this, you are in an English atmosphere — very welcome to an Englishman. You find English books about you, read English newspapers, and are talked to with English talk. The latest English criticisms, the gossip of the English book-world, the passing incidents of English life, "Essays and Reviews," and the Kennedy law case, are topics about which your hosts know as much, and perhaps care more, than you do yourself. Indeed, it often struck me that my Boston friends knew more about England than they did about America. I say this in no depreciation of their patriotism. It may seem strange to English critics — who are wont to assume, as a self-evident axiom, that America is a hateful country, and that the system of American Government is repulsive to every educated and refined mind — to discover, as they
181would do by a short residence at Boston, that men of genius and men of letters — men whose names are known and honoured wherever the English language is read — feel as proud of their own country and as proud of their own institutions as if they had been Englishmen. I do not say, that the feeling towards England is more friendly in Boston than elsewhere in the States; perhaps it is even less so. The community of feeling, and sentiment, and literature, between New and Old England has caused the New Englanders to feel more bitterly than other Americans what they consider, justly or unjustly, the sins of England towards the Union; but, in spite of themselves, the old love for England still crops out, in the almost touching cordiality with which an Englishman is welcomed here. Just as the artist world of Europe, willingly or unwillingly, turns to Italy as the home of Art, so the mind, and culture, and genius of America turns, and will turn for many long years yet, to the mother-country as the home of her language, and history, and literature. That this should be so is an honour to England, and, like all honours, it entails a responsibility.
The New England Abolitionists.
DURING the early part of June, when I first came to Boston, the Army of the Potomac had advanced beyond York Town, and the North was expecting daily to hear of the capture of Richmond. Towards the middle of June, in the weeks that just preceded the Chickahominy battles, there grew up, for the first time, a feeling of popular anxiety about the issue of the campaign. The national hopes, though they had not yet begun to waver, were not very vivid. Even the New York papers were at their wits' ends to produce sensation paragraphs, and contented themselves with oracular statements, that "a gentleman of intelligence, recently returned from Richmond, was convinced that McClellan's plans must be crowned with ultimate success." The long-suffering patience, I may remark, with which the American people awaited McClellan's action was a remarkable trait of the national character. With the exception of the New York Tribune, and its namesake of Chicago, there was not a paper of any eminence in the North
183which was openly hostile to him. With ten times the provocation, there was not one tithe of the invective poured by the American press on General McClellan for his unaccountable inaction that was heaped by our own newspapers upon Lord Raglan, for the tardiness of his movements in the Crimea. When I first came to America I believed it was impossible that, under a Democratic Government, popular impatience would leave General McClellan a long lease of power, unless he justified his claims by some brilliant action. Further experience showed me that I undervalued the good sense of the people. After the first few months, there never was any great popular enthusiasm about McClellan. It was not likely, indeed, that there should have been any. Throughout the spring, there was a growing conviction that the General commanding-in-chief was not strong enough for his post. An old Democrat, and a political partisan of McClellan's, in speaking to me, at the period of which I write, about his military capacity, remarked, "If McClellan was a great general, we should not be discussing, a year after his appointment, whether he really was so or not." This impression seemed to me, though expressed less openly, to be the prevailing one; and yet there was no public outcry for his recall. The broad sense of the matter was, that to have removed McClellan at this moment, in the midst of the campaign, and in front of the enemy, would have been so great an evil that it could only have
184been wise to incur it if it became clear that the General was not merely relatively but absolutely incapable. There was no evidence as yet that this was the case, and therefore the people were content to wait. Possibly it may seem a paradox to the English reader to talk of the patience of popular government. I can only say, without entering on a theoretical discussion, that taken as a whole, the self-restraint, the moderation, and the patience of the American people in the conduct of this people's war, were in themselves facts worth noting.
The one circumstance, however, which in my belief contributed mainly to keep McClellan in power, was the vehemence with which the Abolitionist party assailed him. It is not that the Commander-in-Chief was popular with the vast majority of the North because he was a pro-slavery General, but there was a general and not ill-founded conviction that the attacks made upon him were due more to his politics than to his strategy; and therefore these attacks did him rather good than harm. Indeed, the position of McClellan threw considerable light on the active want of strength of the Abolitionists. The truth is, that the anti-slavery party had, as it were, two creeds, the exoteric and the esoteric. According to the former, the popular faith, slavery is a great evil, a calamity to any country addicted to it; and, like every other national evil, should, as far as possible, be checked by legislation, and still more by the force of public opinion; but,
185above all, should in no way be promoted by any act of the Government. This is substantially the Republican creed; and owing chiefly to the exertions of the Abolitionists, this Republican creed became practically the creed of the North. But amongst themselves the Abolitionists, purs et simples, have an esoteric creed, more logical perhaps, but less accommodating. With them slavery is an absolute sin — not an evil, but a crime. Slavery being thus in itself a crime, the nation is bound to suppress it at all costs and all dangers; and if that should be found impossible, the nation has no choice but to put away the accursed thing, and to renounce all partnership in the profits of iniquity. This esoteric faith was held by a very small and, I suspect, at the moment, a decreasing party. New England was the head-quarters of the Abolitionists, and yet the outward evidences of their power — I might almost say of their existence — were few indeed. In all Boston, with its shoals of papers, there was not one Abolition daily newspaper. The Courier, the most largely circulated of any Boston paper, reprinted every morning at the head of its articles the resolution passed by the House of Representatives in February, 1861, with a view of averting the danger of Secession: "That neither the Federal Government, nor the people or Governments of the non-slaveholding States, have a purpose or a constitutional right to legislate upon, or interfere with slavery, in any of the States of
186the Union." From this text the Courier preached regularly against the Abolitionists, and especially against Wendell Phillips, whom it pursued with a bitter personal animosity. The Boston Herald, a halfpenny paper, which has a large popular circulation, was still more fiercely anti-Abolitionist. Writing of the gradual emancipation project of President Lincoln, it stated that the scheme "meets with no favour, and is not acceptable to even the Border Slave States. Emancipation, as advocated by Mr. Sumner and others, is condemned by all the States South, and by one half of the public in the Free States." The Post, which was a moderate Republican paper, and is perhaps the best-written and most respectable of American newspapers, used to declaim against bringing forward the question of emancipation at all, till secession was suppressed. Its text was, "that the people everywhere ought to insist that partisanship shall stop, and that congress shall cooperate with the President in the one simple object to restore the national authority." The other daily newspapers in Boston, the Journal, the Traveller, and the Transcript, approach very nearly to Mr. Bright's ideal newspapers, seldom trouble their readers with leading articles, and, when they do, avoid carefully such subjects as Abolition, on which there is likely to be much difference of opinion. The Advetiser, whose circulation and influence are but small, was the most friendly of the Boston journals to the
187Abolition cause, though its friendliness was of a passive rather than of an active kind, and consisted chiefly in abstaining from attack. In all Boston there was not a paper as outspoken on the subject of slavery as the New York Tribune; and though Governor Andrew and Messrs. Sumner and Wilson, the senators of Massachusetts, are pronounced anti-slavery men, there is not a leading newspaper in the Pilgrim State which supports the Abolitionists as a party. The official organ of the anti-slavery public in New England is the Liberator, a weekly newspaper of which Lloyd Garrison is the Editor. I should gather its circulation to be entirely a class one, as I never by any chance saw it offered for sale in the shops or streets. Besides this, there is a paper published in Boston called the Pine and Palm, which is supposed to be addressed to the free negroes. It has the regular tract-newspaper air of the quondam True Briton and the modern Friend of the British Workman; and like every paper in search of a public, has a debilitated tone about it. There has lately been a monthly review published in Boston, the Continental, which is well written, and avowedly Abolitionist in politics; but as yet I should judge its circulation to be extremely small. The Atlantic Monthly, the great New England Review, is very catholic in its politics, staunchly Unionist, and more or less anti-slavery; but still it is decidedly not Abolitionist.
On the whole, I should say that the tone of Boston society is very like that of the press. To advocate pro-slavery doctrines would be decidedly unfashionable; to advocate immediate abolition would be hardly less so. Moderate anti-slaveryism is obviously the correct thing. Till within the last few years, to avow the Abolition creed in Boston was to exclude yourself from society. A person who openly advocated the voluntary system in a cathedral town, or who spoke against the game laws in a fox-hunting county, would have about as much chance of being well received in the local society as an Abolitionist would have had in Boston. With the "John Brown year," as the report of the Anti-Slavery Society termed the year 1860, a change came. For the first time almost, American Abolitionism emerged from the sentimentalism of the Uncle Tom phase, and became a living fact and a stern reality; and its professors won that respect which society always accords to power. At the present moment, a prominent Abolitionist would be somewhat of a lion in Boston, like a foreign patriot or a renowned spiritualist medium; and it would hardly now as formerly be made an objection to meeting any one at dinner, that he or she was an Abolitionist. Still, even yet the fact of being known to hold anti-slavery opinions is not a pass to society, but, if anything, the contrary. The different religious communions in New England still ignore to a great extent the question of slavery. The Episcopalians
189and the Methodists, the two sects which have the greatest following in the South, have always decried any discussion of slavery as tending to produce schism in the Church. No denomination that I am aware of ever succeeded in passing a resolution to exclude slaveholders from its communion; and the Unitarians are, I believe, the only religious sect who offer up prayers in their chapels for the overthrow of slavery. The question how far the Churches in America were at liberty to enter on the topic of slavery is a very difficult one. Every allowance should be made, if their final decision was, as I think, wrong. It certainly has proved unfortunate. All parties agree that the clergy, who, twenty or thirty years ago, possessed immense power in New England, have now no political influence whatever. It is clear, too, that the date of their decline in authority coincides with the period when the question of slavery became the dominant question of the day, and the Church decided to abstain from its discussion. The great influence probably both of Emerson and Theodore Parker is due to the fact that their teaching grappled with subjects the Church was, and is, afraid to speak out upon openly. It was thus, on the very eve of secession, that the official organ of the Abolitionists described their position with regard to the Church: —
"The relation of the ecclesiastical bodies in this country to the slave system is mainly the same as heretofore. Whatever exceptional facts may be scattered
here and there, the year just gone has recorded no such change of attitude or policy on the part of the Churches generally as can relieve them from the long recorded charge of efficient partnership in the nation's sin. If a few small Churches, or some branches of the larger, have spoken of it, and signified a purpose to act toward it as befits their Christian name and profession, the vast majority still hold their false position; and even of the few which have seemed to take a better, some, if not most, have in great measure neutralized their right words by neglecting to follow them up with corresponding action."
The rural districts are, I suspect, the stronghold of New England Abolitionism. In the country, much more of the old Puritan feeling is to be found than in the towns. During the access of the temperance mania, which had power to pass the Maine liquor law, but not power enough to carry it into effect, the Massachusetts farmers in many places cut down their apple-trees with their own hands, in order to hinder the possibility of cider being manufactured again. The same uncompromising spirit undoubtedly prevails still; and whereever Abolition sentiments have made their way in the country villages, the descendants of the Puritans are for cutting down slavery, root and branch, without stint and without mercy. In the towns the feeling about or against slavery is much less strongly developed. Their trade interests were opposed to any collision
191with the South, and trade interests in America are even more powerful than they are with us. Besides all this, a very large majority of the New Englanders were hostile to the Abolition movement, not from love of standing well with the fashionable "upper ten thousand," or even from pecuniary interest, but in a great measure from honest conviction. I don't think that we in England have at all done justice to the distinction between the Anti-slavery and the Abolition party. Every Englishman almost, I suppose, would say, if he were asked, that he disapproved of slavery. Yet, I suppose, also, that there is not one Englishman in a hundred, or in a thousand, who would admit that England was countenancing slavery by buying slave-grown cotton. The answer would be, and perhaps with reason — "England has nothing whatever to do with the internal institutions of her customers. We disapprove of slavery, and do not hesitate to say so, but we are not bound by this disapproval to break off all commercials or social relations with slaveholders. It is enough for us that we have done our own duty." Now this, with little alteration, is exactly the language of the New England Republicans. "We disapprove," they say, "of slavery; we have abolished it everywhere within our own jurisdiction; we have opposed any extension of the system for which we could be considered responsible; but we are not bound to exclude ourselves from all fellowship and connexion with
192other States in which slavery is established." Now, Abolition means, if it means anything, that any union or partnership with slaveholding communities is a sin. If the North is in duty bound to suppress slavery in the Slave States, at the risk of breaking up the Union, I am not clear that, by the same rule, England is not bound to decline the purchase of slave-grown cotton. The whole question is a most difficult and a most painful one; and I should be sorry to condemn either the Abolitionist or the Anti-slavery party. It is, however, to my mind, most unjust to accuse the latter of want of sincerity because they do not and cannot endorse the creed of Abolitionism. That the result of this war may be the overthrow of slavery is my most earnest hope and prayer; but I cannot blame those who, hating slavery, and resolved to check its extension, are not prepared to extinguish it in other States, unless the necessity is forced upon them by the instinct of self-preservation.
With the public, the press, the Church, and society hostile to them, it is not surprising that the progress of the Abolitionists proper should have been small. The society which represents them significantly enough does not bear the name of the "Abolition Society," but has adopted the more moderate, though less appropriate, one of the "Anti-Slavery." The direct influence of this body I take to have been small. During the "John Brown year," when the popular excitement
193about slavery was at the highest, the whole receipts of the society were under three thousand pounds — a scanty allowance in this most charitable of States. In the list of the vice-presidents and committee you will not find one single name of public note, except that of Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips. The men whose names we know best in Europe, in connexion with the anti-slavery cause — Charles Sumner, Ward Beecher, Lovejoy, Wade, and Fremont — are not members of the Committee. The explanation of this is obvious. The fundamental tenet of the Abolitionists is that slavery is a crime with which an honest man can hold no communion. Now the whole of the United States' constitution rests upon the assumption that slavery, even if an evil, is not a crime which the Government is called upon to deal with. It is very difficult, therefore, for any man to be an Abolitionist, in our English sense of the word, and yet to take part in American public life. The Ultra-abolitionists say, that the Republicans have solved the problem of serving both God and mammon. Certainly, the creed of the Republicans consists in being as hostile to slavery as is consistent with loyalty to the Union and the Constitution; while the Abolitionists hold the converse doctrine and are as loyal to the Union as is consistent with hostility to slavery. Between the holders of these conflicting doctrines there may be sympathy, but there cannot be co-operation.
In May, 1860, just before the presidential canvass which resulted in the return of Mr. Lincoln, the Anti-Slavery Society put forth the following resolutions as their programme for the year: —
"Resolved — that in the language of Henry Clay, Those who would repress all tendencies towards liberty and emancipation must go back to the year of our liberty and independence, and muzzle the cannon which proclaims the annual joyous return. They must revive the slave trade, with all its train of atrocities. They must blow out the moral lights around us, and extinguish that greatest torch of all, which America presents to a benighted world, pointing the way to their rights, their liberties, and their happiness; and when they have achieved all their purposes, their work will be yet incomplete. They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate the light of reason and the love of liberty. Then, and not till then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can you perpetuate slavery, and repress all sympathies and all humane and benevolent efforts among free men, in behalf of the unhappy portion of our race doomed to bondage.
That they who are for suppressing the anti-slavery agitation, are really labouring for the complete suppremacy and enduring sway of the slave power, that they who are deploring the excitement of the times arising from this question, are really lamenting that
there is any manhood or moral sentiment left in the land, and arraigning the Almighty for inspiring the human mind with a detestation of robbery, injustice, and oppression. That to compromise with the dealers in human flesh, to accede to any of their demands, to enter into an alliance with them from which they shall derive strength and security, to acknowledge in any manner the rectitude or necessity of their cause, is to participate in their guilt, to ensure general demoralisation, to lose the power of a virtuous example, and to betray the cause of freedom universally.
That the party which talks of the ‘glorious Union’ existing between the North and South, and of the duty of maintaining it as an object of paramount importance, is smitten with judicial blindness, talks of what has never been, and, in the nature of things, can never be possible, is either the dupe or the ally of a stupendous imposture, which an insane and criminal experiment of threescore years has demonstrated is working the overthrow of all the safeguards of freedom, and consequently is a party neither to be trusted nor followed.
That in the words of the lamented Judge Jay, the Union is ‘a most grievous moral curse to the American people: — to the people of the South, by fostering, strengthening, and extending an iniquitous and
baneful institution — to the millions among us of African descent by rivetting the chains of the bondman, and deepening the degradation of the freeman — to the people of the Free States, by tempting them to trample under foot the obligations of truth, justice, and humanity, for those wages of iniquity with which the Federal Government rewards apostates to liberty and righteousness.’
That the ‘glorious Union,’ ever since its formation, has signified nothing but the supremacy of a Southern slave oligarchy, who have always dictated the policy of the nation, and who claim a Divine right to rule, according to their pleasure, alike the slaves and their plantations and the people of the Free States, with out remonstrance or interrogation, and as the condition of the perpetuation of the ‘glorious Union,’ aforesaid.
Resolved, therefore, that the motto of the American Anti-Slavery Society, ‘No Union with Slaveholders,’ commends itself to the reason, conscience, and hearty adoption of every man claiming to be loyal to the Declaration of Independence; and it becomes the solemn duty of the North to carry it into immediate practice, as demanded by every instinct of self-preservation, and by all that is obligatory in the claims of justice and humanity."
This, in American phrase, was the "platform" of the
Abolitionists. It is worth while to compare with it the profession of faith of the Republican party, as put forth in President Lincoln's inaugural address: —
"Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that, by the accession of a Republican administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the public speeches of him who now addresses you, — I do but quote from one of these speeches when I declare that ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.’ I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with the full knowledge that I had made this, and had made many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed on the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read: — ‘Resolved, that the maintenance, inviolate, of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power
on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion, by armed force, of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.’"
It was impossible, as the reader will observe, for any one who adopted in their integrity the tenets of the Anti-Slavery Society to take part in a Government which its authorised exponents — even those who were personally most antagonistic to the system of slavery-expounded after this fashion. The consequence was, that the Abolitionists were debarred, by their own choice as much as by their personal unpopularity, from taking any share in public life. For the sake of principle, they not only suffered social martyrdom, but they allowed themselves to be excluded from office, from political distinction, and from participation in that great sphere of public activity which is open to all Americans of energy and talent. I do not believe myself that persecution is good for any man; and I have little doubt that the Abolitionists, to a certain extent, have had their minds warped by the persecution they have undergone. Every man's hand was against them, and therefore they had an irresistible sympathy with all isolated and unappreciated sects and doctrines. The Churches, one and all, were against them; and so the Abolitionists have fallen away from the Churches, and have thus lost, in great measure, the support of the
199religious world. Religion, I suspect, has suffered more than the Abolitionists by the separation; but still the Abolitionists have suffered also. The great cause of Abolition has been mixed up with, and discredited by, the minor and distinct causes of Spiritualism, and Non-resistance, and Woman's Rights. Take Lloyd Garrison, for instance, as earnest and single-hearted a Reformer, I believe, as the world has seen; yet, the influence of his gallant lifelong struggle against slavery has been disparaged by the fact that he has constituted himself the avowed advocate of every one of the many "isms" which New England has given birth to; and in so doing he has been only too truly the type of his party.
Amongst the Abolitionists themselves there are different sections. The party, of which the Stowes and Beechers may be considered the representatives, approximates most closely to the outer world. The marvellous and almost unparalleled success of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," raised this section to a temporary predominance. For my own part I was not impressed favourably by what I heard and saw of the Beecher-Stowe Abolitionists. They seemed to me to represent the sickly sentimentalism which is sure to attach itself to any cause however good. I believe that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did as much harm, by removing the question of emancipation from the domain of fact into that of fiction, as it did good, by calling public attention to the evils of slavery. It is possible that
200Mr. Ward Beecher's oratorical theology may really influence a large class of semi-educated persons. To me it bore an appearance of affectation and want of earnestness, mixed up with a kind of undignified jocosity, which I found hard to reconcile with a belief in the preacher's real depth of feeling. It may be that I judge them hardly; but it always seemed to me that the Anti-slavery cause would have fared better without the services of the Beecher connexion. They laboured under the fatal objection that, wishing the end, they were afraid to assert their approval of the means. They professed certain doctrines which entailed inevitable consequences, and yet they shrunk perpetually from admitting the logical deduction of their own professions. Teaching a creed which was subversive of the Union, they had not courage to pronounce distinctly against the maintenance of the established order of things, and thus both friends and enemies looked upon them as half-hearted, and not altogether without reason. Then there was another section, which might be called the "Mountain" of Abolitionism, which went even further than the recognised leaders of the party. This section, of which Mr. Conway, the author of "The Rejected Stone," was the most prominent member, repudiated all connexion whatever with persons who did not hold their extreme views, and regarded men like Phillips and Lowell as traitors to the cause, because they conceived that they might lawfully accept the
201assistance of others who, not holding their own opinions, were still willing, up to a certain point, to assist in carrying them into effect.
But both these sections of the Abolitionists were insignificant and uninfluential, as compared with that led by Wendell Phillips and Lloyd Garrison. Of the whole phalanx, the former was the tower of strength. Gifted with great talents, with untiring energy, and, above all, with an eloquence which I have never heard equalled, he might have risen to any height in public life. But, for conscience sake, he refused to enter on a career which necessitated, to say the least, an outward acquiescence in the sin of slavery. He has laboured for years past, amidst ridicule and abuse and obloquy, to awaken the nation to a sense of their duty. It is difficult for an Englishman to conceive the amount of moral courage required by an American who preaches the doctrine that the venerated Constitution of Washington and Hamilton is in itself a compact with sin, an evil to be abolished. His friends say, that he is the Aaron of the party, while Garrison has been the Moses. It may be so, but the words and voice which have stirred up the hearts of the New Englanders for long years past have been those of Phillips. Whatever your opinions may be, I defy you to listen to that scathing burning eloquence of his, and not be carried away, for the time at least. More of us have a heart somewhere about us, and the great Abolitionist orator has an unrivalled talent for
202finding that heart out, and working upon its chords. When you once have heard him, agreeing or disagreeing, you cannot doubt the fact of his courage; pro-slavery, or anti-slavery, you cannot question the power of his eloquence. And his labour has not been in vain. It was my good fortune, while in New England, to see a great deal of the Abolitionist party, and I have never come across a set of people whom I have admired and respected more. I should be sorry, therefore, if these remarks should convey an impression that in my opinion the influence of the Abolitionists has been small. It is to them in great measure, to their unceasing testimony as to the truth of the "higher law," that the existence of the Republican party is due. Directly, I should doubt the Abolitionists having increased of late, either in numbers or in influence. It is impossible to say how long it may be before the American people come to the conclusion that slavery is a crime which, like robbery, must be suppressed, and which no Christian government can permit. It is doubtful to my mind whether the people ever will come, as a nation, to this conclusion. But every day the conviction is spreading throughout the North that slavery is an evil to be tolerated at the utmost. This may not be the whole truth, but still it is a very large half of it, and from that conviction to the extinction of slavery the step is not a long one. When once slavery is abolished, abolition principles will, of course,
203become fashionable, but I question whether the early Abolitionists will even then be personally popular. There are prophets whose prophecies are scouted at the time, and not appreciated when fulfilled, and I think that men like Wendell Phillips belong to this class. Happily their reward will be in the success of their labours, not in popular applause. The last two years, however, have already raised the social and political position of the Abolitionists. They are now advocates, instead of enemies, of the Union. As the nation became more and more convinced that the Abolitionist maxim is true and that the Union is incompatible with slavery, the men known hitherto as the bitterest opponents of slavery, came in popular idea to be regarded as the stanchest friends of the Union. Indeed, the recent policy of the Abolitionists is explained better by a saying of Wendell Phillips, than by any elaborate explanation. Some one asked him how he, who had been proclaiming for years, "that the Union was the fruit of slavery and of the devil," could be now an ardent advocate of this very Union. His answer was, "Yes; but I never expected then that slavery and the devil would secede from the Union." So it is; secession has brought the Abolitionists and the Republicans into the same camp, but the Abolitionists are still a distant outpost, a sort of enfants perdus of the army of the Union.
The Church in America.
THE first thing almost which strikes a newly arrived traveller in the United States, is the immense number of churches. Every village has its half-dozen churches and chapels, Episcopalian, Unitarian, Presbyterian, Universalists, Calvinists, Independent, or any other sect you like to name. The country is dotted over with the wooden steeples, whose white painted sides, I must own, sparkle in the bright sunlight uncommonly like marble. Sunday is kept with a Scotch propriety; not a shop or tavern is open; the railroads are closed for the day; and the omnibusses cease running. Happily with an inexplicable inconsistency, the horse-railroads are allowed to run, though omnibusses and steam-engines may not; and therefore, there are some means of locomotion still left on the Sabbath. The churches are apparently crowded, and the number of church-goers you see about the streets is larger in proportion to the population than it would be in London. In fact, if you used your eyes only, the first attribute you would ascribe to the Americans would be that of a church-going people.
Yet, if you used your ears as well as your eyes, you would soon become aware of a second fact, equally remarkable, and apparently inconsistent with the first, and that is, that you never hear anything about religious opinions or discussions. Throughout the whole period of my residence in America I never met, in any newspaper, with any allusion to the religious opinion of any public man, nor have I ever seen any question connected with religion discussed in the press. I don't suppose one American in a hundred ever asked, or thought of asking, what Church Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward, Mr. Stanton, or General McClellan, belonged to. I believe the first to be a Baptist, the second an Episcopalian, and the last two Unitarians, but I am by no means sure that I am correct in my impressions; and as nobody I met was likely to know anything about the matter, I had no means of discovering with certainty, even if I had wished it, what denomination these gentlemen, or other public men, were members of. As far as I could gather, in public life, it is better for a politician to belong to some Church or other. The mere fact of doing so, like being married, or having a house of your own, is a sort of public testimony to your respectability and morality; but which Church you select is a matter of absolute indifference to anybody but yourself. The only sect against whom there seems to exist any popular prejudice is the Catholic Church; and this prejudice I take to be derived partly from the traditions of the Old
206Country, partly from an impression, not altogether unsupported by evidence, that the power of the Papacy is hostile to the institutions of a free country. When Fremont was standing for the Presidency, an unfounded charge of being a Catholic was brought against him, and the fact of its being so brought, and deliberately disavowed, shows that some importance was attached to it. In private society religion — by which I mean controversial religion — does not seem to be a topic of general interest. It would be almost impossible for an American to mix much in English society without becoming aware whether his acquaintances were Episcopalians or Unitarians, High Church or Low Church, or without learning something of the ruling religious topic of the hour — the Gorham case, or Spurgeon, or Essays and Reviews, or Revivals, or whatever it might be. Now, of the hundreds of people I knew, to a certain extent, intimately in the States, I am not aware to what denomination more than a couple of them belonged, and in their case I only happened to become acquainted with their religious creed, because I learnt accidentally what Church they were in the habit of attending. I had chosen, I might, no doubt, have discovered — just as any man curious in such matters might discover the family history of his acquaintances in this country. But, unless you take a special trouble to acquire the information, it is not of the sort which comes to you unconsciously. Toleration, apparently, is absolute, not
207only in principle, but in practice. What Church you belong to, whether you change from one Church to another, or whether you belong to no Church at all, are questions which your own conscience alone has to settle. Anybody who is intimately acquainted with country life in England must be aware, that a well-to-do family would cease to be respectable, and would probably be looked upon unfavourably by the neighbourhood, if none of its members ever went to any place of worship. In America, dissent from the ordinary modes of faith entails no social disabilities. This state of things is not caused by public indifference as to religious matters; on the contrary, a direct profession of religion is much more common amongst men than it is with us.
I remember, when I first came to America, being astonished at hearing a young man say that, under certain eventualities, he should "join the Church." I questioned him as to which Church he intended to join, and found that he had no idea as yet. He was perfectly serious, however, and contemplated joining the Church in order to relieve himself from a liaison in which he was entangled, exactly as I might propose to join the bar in order to relieve myself from the necessity of serving on juries. Gradually, the meaning of the expression "joining the Church" became intelligible to me. In all the American Churches, with the exception of the Catholic and the Episcopalian, the fact of being
208born of parents belonging to any sect does not constitute you ipso facto a member of it. The child of Methodist parents, for instance, can be christened, if they desire it; but he does not become a Methodist, nor is he admitted to their communion until he has formally announced his intention, after arriving at years of discretion, of joining the Church. So it is with the other denominations. Every sect has a number of half-members, who attend its services, but have never formally joined the Church, and do not share its communion. These half-members have a vote, and pay rates equally with the full-members. What spiritual privileges they possess, or are supposed to possess, is an open question. Of late years, the American Churches have looked unfavourably on their non-professing members, whose number has much decreased in consequence. The calculation is, that of the whole American adult population about one-fifth are professing members of some church or other. Probably the fact that the Episcopalian Church alone, amongst Protestant sects, does not require a distinct profession of faith is one of the chief causes of its comparative increase. In many of the sects, the act of joining the Church is not supposed to be necessarily preceded by spiritual conversion, but is simply taken as a declaration that the member is a professedly religious man. The result of this system is, that the relative proportion of avowedly religious persons is larger than in England,
209while the proportion of persons who belong to a Church without any distinct profession of religion is infinitely smaller. How far this system works favourably, in a religious point of view, is a question on which I have no wish to enter. There is one social aspect, however, of the system which is remarkable. I mean the impulse it has given in America to spiritualism, and similar forms of delusion.
At home, ninety-nine men out of a hundred, who have no particular opinions on religious matters, belong naturally to the faith their fathers belonged to; and such religious wants or aspirations as they may have are satisfied by the National Church. In America, the contrary is the case. Any man who has no pronounced religious opinions belongs to no Church; and therefore whatever wants he may have of a spiritual nature remain unsatisfied. Thus any new faith, false or true, has an unappropriated public to work upon in America which it has not in a Catholic country, and to a very limited extent in England. It is true that Mr. Foster, the Spiritual Medium, whom I became acquainted with in Boston, informed me that, on spiritual questions, he had found a far more appreciative and sympathetic public in England than in America. Rare, however, as praise of England is at present in an American mouth, I fear that I cannot conscientiously consider the encomium well merited. It is possible that educated persons in England have made greater
210fools of themselves in the hands of mediums of the Foster genus than the corresponding class in America. But, on the other hand, it is clear that spiritualism has obtained a hold on the popular American mind which it has not on our side the Atlantic. What English paper, London or provincial, would contain advertisements of astrologers, clairvoyants, and mediums? Now, with the exception of some few of the New York and Boston journals, there is not a newspaper in America which does not contain astrological and spiritual advertisements. In every paper almost you can pick out advertisements similar to the following, which I quote from the Boston Herald: —
"Mrs. Leonora Smith, clairvoyant Medium, No. 15. La Grange Place, gives sittings daily for communications from the spirit-world, seeing and describing spirits." Again, "Madame Lagon, natural Astrologist and Medium, will give to the public a fore-knowledge of all the general affairs through life, seeing and describing spirits."
All this information is offered at the moderate price of one shilling for ladies and two for gentlemen. There is no town I have been into where a medium or astrologist, chiefly of the female gender, did not advertise herself in the local papers. In the West especially astrology is a flourishing trade. During my travels in the Western States I visited several of these mediums out of curiosity, in the hope of witnessing some exhibition
211of skill which might explain their success. I found most of them to be German Jewesses, sharp, shrewd women enough, but in no single instance did I see any exhibition of clairvoyance or spirit-rapping remarkable enough to bear description. If any of my readers ever consulted the hermit at Beulah Spa, or at any suburban tea-gardens, they will know exactly what was told me by these spiritual mediums. It was the old, old story of a dark lady or a fair woman, or a long journey, or letter arriving with money, or any other piece of rigmarole nonsense. The curious fact was that the waiting-rooms of these impostors were often crowded by well-dressed persons, chiefly women.
I do not suppose that the higher class of Americans wouId visit fortune-tellers of this description. A charge varying from one to five shillings is not sufficient to attract wealthy inquirers after spiritual mysteries. As fashionable amusements, spirit-rapping and table-turning have a good deal died out. Still spiritualism, as a creed, numbers many believers in America. Commodore Foote, in his address to the people of Memphis, after the capture of that city by the Federals, based his arguments against Secession on Swedenborgian doctrines, and told them "that the Civil War had been produced out of the inner life." People smiled at the announcement, but nobody seemed to think it odd that a distinguished public man, holding an important position, should be a Swedenborgian, or adhere
212to any other faith, however eccentric. As far as I could discover, the popular American judgment about spiritualism is much the same as our English one. A certain number of clever, if not sensible men, believe in it heartily. The great majority of Americans consider the whole outward manifestations of the creed to be delusions or impostures, and its internal doctrines to be detrimental to elevated morality. Still with regard to spiritualism, as to every other "ism," there is absolute toleration, and if President Lincoln chose to consult the spirits, (as for all I know he may do,) on every occasion of his life, no one would consider it a ground for objecting to his fitness as President.
I have dwelt somewhat at length upon this tolerance of spiritualism, because I consider it an important feature in American life. Even the most liberal of ordinary English critics seem to me to have adopted a parrot-cry about the tyranny of the majority in America over the minority, without ever considering whether the cry was true or not. Now all history shows that there is no subject on which people are more apt to tyrannize over a minority than on religious matters; and any one who knows America must see that religious sentiment is extremely strong there. The doctrines of spiritualism are naturally offensive to all established creeds, as they tend to destroy the whole theory of modern religion with regard to a future state. Yet there has been no attempt whatever to
213tyrannize over the spiritualist minority. With the exception of the Mormons, whose case was, in many respects, a peculiar one, there has been no instance in America of religious persecution. And what is still more remarkable, under the rule of a democracy, deep national religious convictions have been proved to be consistent with complete freedom of opinion on religious matters. There is no such thing in the North as social persecution, or loss of political standing, on account of your religion, or want of religion. How far this is consistent with the theory of the tyranny of majorities, I much question personally.
Cambridge, U. S.
SOME four miles or so from Boston lies the university-town of New England — the Cambridge of the New World. There are few places in the States of which I have carried away with me brighter memories. The kindness of new-made friends caused Cambridge to be a sort of home to me during my stay at Boston. But even without personal recollections, my impressions of the university town, and above all of its class-day, as the annual commemoration is called, would be very pleasant ones. Let me speak of it as I found it.
It is by the street-railroads that you go to Cambridge U. S. The idea may not be academical, but the reality is wonderfully pleasant. If I had no other reason for not liking George Francis Train, I should find cause enough for my dislike in the fact that he has discredited the street-railway system in England. I know, indeed, of no pleasanter mode of travelling for a short distance; and of all American street-railroads, the Cambridge ones
215are the best. It is true that the cars are over-crowded at times. Nothing is perfect in this bad world of ours. It is true, too, that gentlemen are expected to leave their seats when ladies have no place to sit down in; but then so many of the Boston ladies are young and pretty, and always smile so pleasantly when you make room for them, that I wonder how Mr. Trollope found it in his heart to grumble at the custom. It is undeniable also, that if, as I trust my readers do, you drive your own mail-phaeton, you find the street-rails hinder the high-road from being as smooth as it would be otherwise. Still, even from the summit of a mail-phaeton you cannot help perceiving that the number of people who do not possess carriages of their own considerably exceeds the number of those who do; and, therefore, on the whole, street-railroads are a gain to the community at large. Putting aside these slight objections, your ride to Cambridge, especially on a summer evening, is all that you can desire. Your fare is only threepence: low as the fare is, a dirtily-dressed passenger is almost unknown; and even if you are sometimes crowded, it is pleasant to see coloured women and children sitting or standing among the other passengers on terms of perfect equality. You travel as smoothly as you would in the softest of spring carriages. You go as quick as you would in an Eastern-Counties express, and you pay as little as you would in a London omnibus.
The road itself is a very pretty one. Up and down the old-fashioned hilly streets of Boston, with their quaint red-brick houses, then over a long wide bridge across the Charles River, or rather, across the sea creek into which the Charles River runs — a creek famed in the annals of Boston for the fact that the tea was thrown into its waters in the days of the Revolution; then through the long straggling suburb of Cambridge Port, then through rows after rows of wooden villas, standing each in its own gardens, and so on into the little quiet town of Cambridge. Of town or streets there is but little; what there is, is grouped round Harvard College. Three low blocks of building, built two hundred years ago, looking for all the world as though the Pilgrim Fathers had transported them ready made from Trinity Hall or Emmanuel College, and called Hollis, Stoughton, and Massachusetts, form two sides of a college quad. On the third stands the college library, a cross in architectural fashion between King's Chapel and the brick church in Barnwell, with the same dumpy pinnacles on the roof, like the legs of a dinner-table turned upside down. The square is completed by a block of lecture-rooms, of the plainest structure. Hard by the college, there are a row or two of shops, university book-stalls, groceries, and the like; and round about, in every direction, there are pleasant shady streets, lined with trees and quickset hedges and old-fashioned country houses. Indeed, the whole place had, to my
217eyes, an academic air, for which I was not prepared. One of the professors told me, that after Arthur Clough had resided here a short time, he said that "he felt himself back in Oxford." Indeed, strolling through the grounds of that sleepy, quiet university, it seems hard to realize that you are in the country of New York and Chicago and the West.
The students are quieter, apparently, than our English ones; or, at any rate, you see less of them about the streets. Once or twice in the evenings I heard snatches of noisy songs, as I passed the college buildings, which, coupled with the jingling of glasses, called back recollections of college supper-parties. Otherwise I saw or heard but little of the students, and those, I did meet with, had none of that air of being the owners, possessors, and masters of the university precincts, so peculiar to the undergraduates of Oxford and Cambridge. The age of the students is about the same as in our own universities. Twenty-one is, as with us, the average age at which students take their degree, or rather, close their college course, for taking one's degree is, at Harvard College, by no means the usual termination of the university career. There is no particular reason why students should take a degree; and, as a rule, when they have studied as many years as their finances or their inclinations will allow them, they leave the university without undergoing the formality of graduating. The fact that there are no fellowships
218to be obtained makes an academical degree of little comparative value. There is no distinctive dress worn now either by students or professors. The college discipline is very like our own, except that the students are treated more like men than schoolboys, and, I should gather, with success. The undergraduates may or may not live in the college rooms, according to their own choice. There are many more students than rooms; and, at the commencement of each year, the vacant rooms are distributed by lottery amongst the freshmen. If the lucky winners like to sell their privilege, they are at liberty to do so; and, practically, the poorer students generally make something by the sale of their right to rooms. Why men should wish to live in the smallest of old-fashioned college rooms instead of in comfortable lodgings in the town is a mystery that no man can comprehend after the age of one-and-twenty; but the wish prevails in Cambridge, U. S. as well as in Cambridge, England. Of late years, the system of "commons" has been given up, and the students take their meals in clubs, or at boarding-houses. The under-graduates are obliged to attend lectures and chapel in the morning. The prayers, which are very short, are worded so as to contain nothing offensive to the tenets of any Christian sect, and must, I fancy, in consequence be curious specimens of moral common-places. On Sundays, there is service held at college, according to the orthodox form, as the Calvinist faith is called in
219New England, and students who do not go to church elsewhere are expected to attend it. Parents, however, may fix what form of worship their sons shall frequent: and the majority of the undergraduates who come from near Boston pass their Sundays at home. In glancing over a list of the students, I saw that they belonged to some dozen different religious denominations, and that some three per cent. of the whole number avowed no preference for any particular form of religion. Of those who belonged nominally to the several sects, about a fifth or sixth were Church members. The average expense of the university course varied, as I was told, from Å150 to Å250 per annum; but, in many instances, I suspect, this latter estimate must be much exceeded. At the class-day I was present at, four students kept open house for all their friends, and I was told they had ordered refreshments to be provided for a thousand persons. Considering the style of the entertainment, it must have cost a dollar a head, at the very least; and a thousand dollars (Å200) is rather a large sum, even for our own university swells, to spend on an entertainment. Though the outlay was talked of by the professors as absurd, it did not seem to me to be regarded as anything very unusual.
But, at this rate, I shall never get to Cambridge class-day. It was a glorious hot summer day, hotter than we often have in England; and the chimes of Cambridge rang out merrily, and the little town was
220full of ladies with the brightest of bonnets and the prettiest of faces. Class-day is the last day of the Academic course, at least for the fourth-year students, or senior sophomores, as I think they are called; and on this day these students give a sort of farewell festival to the rest of the college, and to their friends. By the kindness of one of my friends — Professor Lowell — I was invited to be present at the ceremony. Under a broiling sun, on the twentieth of June last, we strolled, in the forenoon, across the college grounds, past Washington's elm, to the house of the President, or rather the acting President — for at that time the office was vacant, owing to the death of Professor Felton. Washington's elm, I should add, is so called, because the Father of his Country signed the Declaration of Independence beneath its branches. I am not sure, by the way, that I am not confusing Washington with the Barons and Magna Charta. However, I know that Washington did something or other remarkable beneath this elm, and Whitfield, so tradition goes, preached under it, when the university authorities of Harvard refused him permission to use the pulpit of the college chapel.
At the house of the acting President, the professors and the students were collected. It so happened that on that morning the news had reached America of the death of Mr. Clough; and it was pleasant to me, it would have been to any Englishman, who appreciated
221the high talents of that scholar-poet, to see how kindly and how highly his memory was cherished by his brother professors who had known and loved him. The fourth-year sophomores, who were the heroes of the day, were all assembled, arrayed in the glossiest of new black dress clothes and with the whitest of kid gloves. Evening dress somehow takes more kindly to American youths than to our own, and the students seemed to me a set of as good-looking gentlemanlike young men as it has been often my fortune to see. We formed a line, and marched two-and-two together through the grounds, with a band of music leading the way, and a sympathetic crowd of bystanders gazing at us, and following in our wake. I am afraid, as I think of it, that my friend and I must have rather marred the appearance of the procession, by being in coloured clothes. However, black is not a cool colour to wear in the dog-days, and so I hope we were pardoned. Our walk ended in the Unitarian church of Cambridge, which the University has a right to use for public ceremonies. Thanks to my being with the dons' party, I got a seat upon the raised platform at the end of the chapel, and sat there in glory and comparative coolness. The moment we were seated there was a rush of students through the doors, and a perfectly unnecessary fight was got up with the constables who guarded the entrance, which reminded me of wrestlings I had witnessed upon the staircase of the theatre at the Oxford
222Commemorations. In fact, the whole scene had an Oxford air about it. There were the ladies with bonnets of every colour, blue, white, and pink, fanning themselves in the crowded seats. There was a host of bright young faces, and the orations were strings of appropriate platitudes and decorous facetia of the mildest character, such as most of us have heard often times in college halls, and under no other circumstances. Of the speakers, I would only say, that they were two young men of six feet high and upwards — one the stroke of the Harvard boat — and as fine specimens of manhood as you would desire to see. We had a band, which played the overture to Martha, and other operatic music, with remarkable precision; a prayer full of the most apposite commonplaces; and an ode of a patriotic character. There were allusions to the war in plenty throughout the proceedings, but everything was too decorous for the exhibition of any ardent patriotism. Amongst the crowd, however, there was one poor lad, pale, worn, and limping upon crutches, who had lost his leg in the battle of Balls Bluff, and who had come to witness the gala day of the class which he had left to join the war. He was the hero of the day, and at every patriotic sentiment all eyes were turned towards him, as though he were the living embodiment of the country's struggle and defeats and victories. I have no doubt, according to the Yankee phrase, he had "a good time of it" that class-day at
223Cambridge, amongst his old friends and fellow-students; but I could not help feeling that there was a long hereafter before him, when the war is over, and the excitement has passed away; and when I, for my part, would sooner have both legs than have been a hero and be a cripple.
Then, when the orations were over, we strolled through the old college rooms, where the students had prepared luncheons for their friends, and where every stranger, who came, was welcomed with that frank cordiality which seems to me so universal a characteristic of American hospitality. Then, having eaten as much ice-cream and raised pies and lobster salads as our digestions would permit of, we wandered off through the pleasant college grounds; and, in defiance of academical decorum, in full view of the public road, smoked cigars upon the lawn of a college Professor, who invited us to the act by his own example. Let me say, that of all academical dignitaries whom I have known — and I have known a good number — I should say that the Professors of Harvard College were, as a body, the pleasantest. They are all men of scholarly education, some of them of European repute, and yet, in one sense, they are also men of the world. There is nothing amongst them of that pedantry and that exaggerated notion of their own importance which is almost an invariable characteristic of our own University dons. Living near a great city, almost
224all of them married men, with moderate incomes, they form a sort of family of scholars, such as I never met elsewhere.
Later in the afternoon there was dancing for the students and their friends in the College Hall, on whose walls there hung quaint pictures of old-fashioned Puritan benefactors, and in whose midst was suspended the famous six-oar outrigger boat of Harvard College, which beat the Hale boat a year ago, doing the distance in the shortest time ever known across the Atlantic. At any rate I was told so, and believe it accordingly. The dancing seemed to me very good, but the hall was overpoweringly hot, and for my part I preferred the open green, where there was music also, and where all the world was allowed to dance. The scene was in itself a curious instance of American freedom, and also of American good behaviour. The green is open to the high-road, and the whole of the Cambridge world, or of the Boston world for that matter, might have come and danced there. Probably everybody who cared to dance did come, but the dancers were as well-behaved, as quiet, and as orderly as they would have been in a London ball-room. I could not help asking myself, without a satisfactory reply, whether such a scene would be possible at the backs of the Cambridge Colleges, or in the Christchurch meadows; and whether, if it were possible, our young university students would dance as freely in the midst
225of any of the Oxford or Cambridge townspeople, who chose to come there accompanied by their sweethearts and sisters. The dancing was followed by a sort of farewell romp of the departing students round an old oak-tree, wherein the chief amusement seemed to consist in the destruction of each others' hats. Then in the evening there was a reception of the students and their friends at the President's house, and an exhibition of Chinese lanterns and rockets on the college green; where, judging from the look of the groups I met strolling about in the dim evening light, I should say that many flirtations of the day must have been ratified by declarations and vows of eternal fidelity. Chi lo sa? And after the guests, and relations, and ladies had gone home, I rather suspect the students made a might of it, over the débris of the cold collations. This, however, is mere suspicion. They may have gone to bed when I did, or have quenched their thirst with the lemonade they provided for the ladies, but I own I doubt it.
I HAPPENED, while in Boston, to see a good deal of the literary society of the place. Let me say something of the men whose writings I, in common with most Englishmen, had learnt to know long ago; and whose faces then, for the first time, became as familiar to me as their names.
I am afraid that to most English readers the name of Concord will recall no national reverses. We have a remarkable talent as a nation for forgetting what is unpleasant to remember, but still the fact remains that at Concord a British regiment did run away before a rabble of American volunteers. Our loss consisted of two men killed, whose names have been long forgotten. This was the first armed resistance raised by the Colonists against the imperial troops, and a little obelisk has been erected beside the nameless graves of these two British privates to record the first blow struck in behalf of American independence. A low stunted avenue leads from the Boston high-road
227to the bank of the Concord River. Along this avenue the British troops advanced and retreated, and on the bank of the river stands a squat dumpy obelisk of the Georgian era. Close to the avenue is the Old Manse, from which Hawthorne culled the mosses. Sitting one summer day by the side of that lazy stream, the author of "The Scarlet Letter" told me a story of the battle which was new to me. When the galling fire of the enemy from the opposite bank caused our troops to retire, the two British soldiers who fell at Concord were not both killed. One of them was only wounded, but in the hurry of the retreat was left for dead on the field. As the British troops withdrew, a farming lad, employed at the Old Manse, came out to look at the scene of the battle. He had an axe with him, and, holding it in his hand, he stole alongside the wounded soldiers, whom he believed to be dead. Just as he got near, the one who was still alive raised himself upon his hands and knees, and began to look about him. The boy in an agony of fear fancied that the man was going to fire, and, striking at him with the axe, cut open his skull, and then fled in terror. Shortly afterwards, some British soldiers, returning to carry off the wounded, found their comrade with his head split in two, and raised the cry that the Americans scalped dead. The cry spread through the regiment and created a panic, under whose influence the soldiers took to their heels and fled. The boy grew to be a very old
228man, and died not many years ago, and, as he grew infirm and old, the thought that he had killed a wounded man in cold blood haunted him to his grave. If the village tradition be true, it is a curious instance of what great events are produced by the smallest causes. The American revolution sprang into being from the defeat of the British troops at Concord; the British were defeated because our soldiers were struck with panic; and the panic was caused because a timid lad happened to have an axe in his hand.
But Concord has nearer and dearer claims to the thoughts of all English-speaking people than the memory of an obscure battle. It is the home of Emerson and Hawthorne. An old-fashioned, sleepy, New England village; one broad, long, rambling street of wooden houses, standing, for the most apart, and overshadowed by leafy trees; a quiet village-green or two; shady, dreamy-looking graveyards, filled with old moss-covered tombstones of colonists who lived and died subjects of the Crown of England; a rich, marshy valley, hemmed in by low-wooded hills; and a dull, lazy stream, oozing on so slowly through many turnings, that you fancy it is afraid of being carried out to the ocean that awaits it a few miles away; — these are the outward memorabilia of Concord. Passing through the village, you come to a roomy country-house, buried almost beneath trees, and looking the model of a quiet English parsonage; and then, entering it, it
229must be some fault of your own, if you are not welcome at the kindly home of Emerson.
His is not a face or figure to which photographs can do justice. The tall spare form, the strongly-marked features, and the thin scanty hair, are all, to the English mind, typical, as it were, of that distinct American nationality, of which Mr. Emerson has been the ablest, if not the first exponent. In repose, I fancy, his prevailing expression would be somewhat grave, with a shade of sadness; but the true charm of his face can be learnt only if you hear him speaking. Then, when the "slow wise smile," as some one well called it, plays about that grim-set mouth, and the flow of those lucid sentences, so simple and yet so perfect, pours forth in calm, measured sequence, the large liquid eyes seem to kindle with a magnetic light, and you feel yourself in the presence of a living power. You may sit at his feet or not — that is a matter for your own judgment, but a Gamaliel is there. Hearing him thus speak, I understood, better than I had learnt from his writings, the influence which Mr. Emerson has wielded over the mind of America, and how Concord has become a kind of Mecca, of which the representative man of American thought is the Mahomet.
Some quarter of a mile further on, hidden almost by the overhanging hill at whose foot it stands, out of sight and hearing of the village-world, you come to the home of Mr. Hawthorne — a quaint, rambling, pleasant house,
230which appears to have grown no one knows how, as some houses do, and to have culminated mysteriously in an Italian campanile tower; so that it is rather a tower with a house attached, than a house surmounted by a tower. It is a fitting place for a romancer to have fixed his dwelling in. Right above the house there stretches a pine wood, so quiet and so lonely, so full of fading lights and shadows, and through whose trees the wind sighs so fitfully, that it seems natural for all quaint fancies and strange memories to rise there unbidden. As to the tenant of the turret and the pine-wood, I could not, if I wished, describe him better than by saying that he is just what, not knowing him, you fancy the author of "The Scarlet Letter" ought to look like. I suppose that most persons form an idea to themselves of the outward look and aspect of any author they have learnt to care for; and I know that, as far as my own experience goes, the idea is but seldom realized. The author, when at last you meet with him in the flesh, may be better than your idea, but he is not the person you had pictured to yourself and dwelt on fondly. Now, if you were to place Mr. Hawthorne amongst a thousand persons, I think any one that had read his writings would guess at once, amongst all that crowd, which the author was. The grand, broad forehead; the soft wavy hair, tangling itself so carelessly; the bright dreamy hazel eyes, flashing from beneath the deep massive eyebrows; and the sweet smile, so full at once
231of sad pathos and kindly humour, all formed for me the features one would have dreamed of for the author, who, more than any living writer, has understood the poetry of prose. It is a fancy of mine — a fancy inspired, perhaps, by the atmosphere in which I formed it — that Nature, when she began to make Mr. Hawthorne, designed him for a man of action, and then, ere the work was done, she changed her mind, and sought to transform him into a poet, and that thus the combination of the two characters — of the worker and the dreamer — came out at last in the form of the writer of romance. Well, if Concord had been the scene of an English Waterloo, I am afraid I should still think of it with the kindliest of memories — should, indeed, remember it only as the dwelling-place of men who have won fresh triumphs for English words, triumphs to me far dearer than those of English arms.
It was my fortune, too, to see — though but for a short period, the great poet of America. Of all pleasant summer-houses, the houses round Boston seemed to me the pleasantest; and of such houses I know of none pleasanter than the one standing on the Mount Auburn Road, where General Washington used to dwell, and where Longfellow dwells now. The pleasant lawn, the graceful rooms, filled with books and pictures and works of art, formed the fit abode for the poet who has known so well how to use the sweet stately rhythm of the English hexameter; and of that abode the host,
232with his graceful manners, his refined and noble countenance, and his conversation, so full of learning and poetic diction, seems the rightful owner. But of this I would say nothing further, for I felt that, if I was in the presence of a great poet, I was in the presence also of a greater sorrow.
I have said thus much of the three great American writers, whose names are best known in England. Like all men of genius, they are in some sense public property; and the public has, I think, a right to know something of how they look and live. Genius has penalties as well as privileges. Of the many other men of talent and writers of note, whom it was my pleasure to meet with in America, and especially in New England, I say nothing, because I doubt whether I should be justified in so doing. A private has a right, perhaps, to criticise the Commander-in-Chief, but I doubt if he is entitled to sit in judgment on the Colonels. Like any other Englishman who has visited America with any sort of credentials, I was received into the intimacy, and I trust I may add, the friendship of many literary men in that country. I feel, that if, as there seems too much likelihood, it should become the custom for an English visitor to give a sort of moral auctioneer's catalogue of the houses, establishments, habits and customs of his hosts, then this friendly welcome must be dispensed with ere long. I have therefore made it my endeavour, in these pages, to
233quote nothing which I learnt in the character of a visitor, not of a spectator. There are two American writers, however, of whom I would say one word in passing, and they are Mr. Lowell, the author of the "Biglow Papers," and Mr. Holmes, the creator of "Elsie Venner." When America has completed her great mission of settling the New World, I cannot doubt that the wonderful energy and power of her people will produce a characteristic national literature worthy of herself, and, I say it without boasting, of the mother country also. In the works of these two gentlemen, I think you can discover the first commencement of a distinct era of American literature. The first has created a new school of poetry — the poetry of common Yankee life; the second has opened out a new vein of romance in the relations of physiology to the development of character. Both these writers have — at least so I fancy — a greater career before them than they have yet accomplished.
Let me say also, in concluding these scattered remarks on the literary men of Boston, that what struck me most about them collectively was the degree of intimacy and cordiality on which they lived with one another. To any one who knows anything of the literary world in England, it will seem a remarkable fact that all men of intellectual note in Boston should meet regularly once a month, of their own free will and pleasure, to dine with each other; and still more so, that
234they should meet as friends, not as rivals. No doubt, this absence of jealousy is due, in great measure, to the literary field of America being so little occupied, that there is nothing like the same competition between authors as there is with us; but it is due, I think, chiefly to that general kindliness and good-nature which appear to me characteristic, socially, of the American people.
New England and the War.
MY sojourn in New England enabled me to appreciate the truth of an observation I have heard made by many intelligent Americans, that the effect of this civil war will be to consolidate the country. If it were not for the common interest in the war, it would have been hard to realize that Boston formed part of the same country as Chicago, and St. Louis, and Nashville. There, as elsewhere, the war seemed to me the chief bond of union and identity between the different States of the North. Nowhere indeed, in my own observation, was the ardour for the war greater than in Massachusetts. It had come home, perhaps, to those New England States more closely than to any other which were not actually the scene of the war. Wherever I went, I stumbled on traces of the great war, in which the nation was pouring out the life-blood of its children without stint or measure. Day after day, whilst sitting on the lawn of a friend's house on the Mount Auburn Road, I used to see the funerals of soldiers, who had
236died in the campaign, passing by on their way to the cemetery. Nobody, I noticed, paid any heed to the occurrence. A servant-girl or so went to the gate to look at the procession, but no excitement was created by the sight. How, indeed, could it be otherwise? The spectacle, melancholy to me, had grown such every-day work in Boston — it was only one death the more out of so very many. In one house, I recollect, I found the family in distress, because a report had just been received that the regiment in which the eldest son of the house was serving had been under fire, and had suffered heavily. In another, the parents were uneasy, because their only son, a mere boy, wanted to be off to the war. In a third, a photograph lay upon the table of a gallant manly lad, proud of his new uniform. I asked who he was, and was told, as if it were an every-day matter, that it was the likeness of a near and dear relative who had fallen in the war — and so on. I could mention scores of such incidents. I have only picked out these, because they occurred to me at the houses of men whose names are well known in England. I went by hazard into a village church, and there I heard thanks offered up for an exchanged prisoner, who had that day been restored to his home after months of captivity. I suppose there is scarce a household in Massachusetts, which the war has not associated with some hope, or fear, or sorrow of its own.
There is much, too, left in Massachusetts of the Puritan, or rather of the race to which the Puritan gave birth. Life itself is a hard and laborious matter in that stony, barren country. There is about the New Englander a strong marked individuality, a religious zeal bordering on intolerance, a steady attachment to his own State, a passion for land, and a love of labour — qualities which have been handed down, with little change, from the Pilgrim Fathers. Amongst a people, with such characteristics, it is not strange that there should be an earnestness, possibly a ferocity, about the war one hardly comes across in the more modern States. In the West, it is probable that if you could suade the inhabitants that Secession was advantageous to their interest, the Union feeling would die away in great measure. In New England, the sense of personal interest has little, if anything, to do with the passion for the war. These causes operate to create a very different kind of public sentiment in the East from that which prevails in the West. The name of compromise is hateful to the New Englander; and, to the Puritan mind, there is but one issue to this conflict, possible or permissible, and that is, the victory of the Union. I have spoken already of the status of the Abolitionist party in New England. As I have there shown, the popular mind was not prepared for a raid on the property and the institutions of other States. The reverence for the Constitution, the respect for law, and
238the strong attachment to local independence, which are marked features in the New England character, all tended to paralyze the active power of the anti-slavery sentiment. Notwithstanding this, the moral power of the Abolitionists must have been very great indeed. In the hymn-books you found at this period anti-slavery psalms; in the free schools, the teaching was anti-slavery in tone; and the public feeling towards the free negro had avowedly grown a kindlier one than it had been hitherto.
That even in New England the war for the Union was in any sense a national crusade for the suppression of slavery I do not believe, but I do believe that, next to the desire for the preservation of the Union, the national antipathy to slavery is the strongest feeling of the New England heart. In a certain measure, the love for the Union and the hatred of slavery were conflicting forces, which counteracted each other; but, as the belief gained ground that the way to preserve the Union was to destroy slavery, the power of these forces, when combined, became over-whelming.
At the period of my sojourn in New England, the conviction that the Union could not be preserved consistently with slavery, was beginning to make way rapidly; a great impulse had been given to it by the incident of General Banks' defeat in the Shenandoah valley, which formed the first warning of the approaching
239disasters in the Peninsula. The North had become so accustomed, at this time, to the idea of victory, so wedded to the conviction that the downfal of the rebellion was close at hand, that the intelligence of a Federal army having been disastrously defeated fell like a thunderbolt on the Northern States. I would add, however, that the manner in which this intelligence was received gave me a stronger impression of the resolution and power of the North than anything I had yet witnessed. From no party, or paper, or person I came across, did I hear anything but the one expression of opinion, that the war must be pushed on with redoubled energy. Within a week, a hundred thousand volunteers had enlisted, and the services of probably as many more had been declined. To judge of the importance of this fact, you must remember who these new volunteers were. The scum and riffraff of the towns had been long ago worked off into the army; every man who had no particular work to do, or no special ties to keep him at home, had been already drafted off. The hundred thousand who volunteered on this occasion were all men, who, as a class, had counted the cost of war, and found that, on the whole, their cares or duties or ties had been too important hitherto to allow them to join the campaign. Yet the moment the cry was raised that the cause of the Union was in peril every other consideration was thrown aside. So it had been all along, and so, I believe, it would have been
240to the end, if miserable mismanagement, worse generalship, and a half-hearted policy, had not paralysed for a time the force of popular enthusiasm. The brag and bluster and rhodomontade of a portion, and that the noisest portion of the American press and public, were, in Italian phrase, as "anti-pathetic" to me, while I lived within sound of it, as they could be to any Englishman. But still, I could not have avoided seeing the deep, passionate, resolution which underlay it all. If Englishmen would once make up their minds that the Anglo-Saxon race is much the same on both sides of the Atlantic, and that the resolution of the North to suppress the insurrection at all cost and all hazards, and, must I add, at the price of all severities, was much the counterpart of our own feeling with regard to the Indian Mutiny, the conviction would be a valuable one for both England and America.
The words which I have just written, "At the price of all severities," represent my impression of a change of feeling which I had observed, with more regret than wonder, to be coming over the Northern mind. When I reached America at the commencement of last year, my prevailing impression was one of astonishment at the extraordinary absence of personal animosity towards the South, displayed by the North. Since that period, I noted a marked, though gradual, change. The belief that there existed an influential, or at any rate a numerous Union party in the South, was dispelled by the
241stern evidence of fact. The old fond delusion, that, when once the Confederate army was defeated the Union as it was would be restored, was fast vanishing, and had given place to a conviction that, even if the war was over, the Union would still have to deal with a bitter and an inveterate enemy. Then, too, the stories of the barbarities and cruelties inflicted by the Confederates on Federal prisoners, had inevitably soured the Northern mind. For a long time I believed that these stories of brutality were as unfounded as the similar accusations, which in all wars, and especially in civil wars, are bandied about between the contending parties. I had heard, during the Garibaldian campaign, scores of such anecdotes related both of the Revolutionary and of the Royal troops. I had had occasion, however, to investigate a good number of these narratives, and had found them invariably to be grossly exaggerated. Very reluctantly, however, I came to the conclusion that there was, at any rate, a considerable amount of truth in these stories of Southern horrors. I suspect, indeed, that there is something in the whole system of slavery, in the practice of treating men as brute beasts, which deadens the feelings of a slave-holding population and renders them singularly callous to the sight of human suffering. Be this explanation right or wrong, I cannot now doubt the fact. I may mention two small incidents which came to my own knowledge on reliable evidence. One is, that on the scarf of a Confederate
242prisoner captured at Williamsburg, there was found a ring formed from a human bone; another, that in a letter, picked up at Roanoake Island, and written by a Southern gentleman well known in New England, to his brother in New Orleans, the writer stated that he had got the skull of a — Yankee, and wished to know if their mother would like it as an ornament for her side-board. In these stories there is little in themselves, but they tend to render more credible, to my mind, the thousand tales of horror which were circulated at this period in the Northern papers. At any rate, the belief in the truth of these narratives was universal in the North, and produced painful and personal bitterness towards the South.
The least creditable incident of the war to the Federal cause was the proclamation of General Butler about the women of New Orleans, which appeared at this period. When the news of it first reached the North, it was scouted as a Confederate invention. When it became certain the story was true, even those who had condemned it most bitterly began to find excuses for it. There was, I admit, much force in the explanation which my Northern friends sought to give of it. It is possible, and I believe true, that General Butler may have only meant that the women of New Orleans, who insulted the Federal soldiers, should be imprisoned for the night in the lock-up house alloted to the disorderly women of the town. Whatever the
243intention may have been, there is no question that the strictest care was taken lest the order should be abused; and it is certain that the Southern ladies were grossly insulting in their behaviour to the Union soldiers, using as they did language and gestures which, in a city occupied by troops of any other nation, would have subjected them, without orders, to the coarsest retaliation. What is more to the point also — as I can state from my own observation — the rank and file of the American army is the most orderly I have ever seen, a circumstance which is due, probably, to the fact of the privates being mostly married, and all men of some kind of education. There is less brutality about the Federal troops, and more respect for women, than amongst any soldiery we are acquainted with in the Old World. It once happened to me, I may mention here, to have to escort a party of ladies, after dark, across the long chain-bridge of Washington. For about two-thirds of that weary mile's walk, the whole bridge was crowded with a confused mass of Federal soldiers, who were halting there on their march southwards. The men were excited at the prospect of the approaching campaign, and it was obvious many of them had drunk freely on breaking up their camp at Washington. It was so dark, that no discipline could be maintained, and the men were sitting, sleeping, or singing, as they liked best. We had almost to grope our way through the groups of soldiers scattered along the bridge. The number of gentlemen in our
244party was so small, we could have afforded but little protection to the ladies under our charge, in case any insult had been offered to them. Having some knowledge of what common soldiers are in other countries under similar circumstances, I own that I felt considerable trepidation as to how far we should be able to extricate ourselves from the melée without annoyance. I can only say that, during the whole, of that long passage, no remark whatever was addressed to us. The moment it was seen that there were ladies in our party, the soldiers got up from the planks, on which they were lying, to make way for us; and the songs (many of them loose enough), which the men were singing, were hushed immediately at our approach. Whether a like journey could have been performed through an European army with like results I leave it to any one acquainted with the subject to say. In truth, the almost morbid sentiment of Americans with regard to women, while it renders them ridiculously susceptible to female influence, protects women in that country from the natural consequences of their own misconduct. Still, allowing all this fully, I can only say, God help the women of New Orleans, if this notorious order had been allowed to be carried out in its literal meaning, as I cannot help believing that Butler originally intended it should be. The order itself was bad enough, but what was more painful to me to witness was, that, even in New England, the most refined portion of the States, it
245called forth no indignant protest from the manhood — or for that matter from the womanhood — of the North. Six months before, it would have been scouted throughout the country. Now, the blood of the North was getting up, and the war was doing, as ever, its devil's work.
While I am speaking of General Butler, let me say one word with regard to him. The popularity which this officer has enjoyed throughout the North is constantly brought as an accusation against the supporters of the Union. I have no wish to say anything in defence of this Yankee Danton, who I believe to have been in New Orleans just what he had been known to be in New England — a low-minded, unscrupulous bully, notorious for his pro-Slavery sympathies, not so much from any personal interest in the Slave-system as from an innate brutality of mind. Still he had the merit of understanding that the one thing wanted in a revolutionary war was Danton's cry of "L'audace! l'audace! toujours l'audace!" and knowing this, he rallied to himself the popular enthusiasm, wearied to death of the McClellans and Sewards, of half-hearted measures and "masterly inaction." Moreover, whether by chance, or by his own merits, he was certainly the most successful commander whom the North had produced. He was associated with the grandest triumph of the Federal arms, and by some means or other he preserved New Orleans to the Union with but little cost of either men or money. It was a
246fact also, that he gained immensely by the attacks made upon him abroad. The utterly exaggerated abuse with which his conduct was assailed in Europe (as if in our own wars there had never been such a thing heard of as brutality before!) endeared him to the American mind. The national pride of the country felt itself identified with the maintenance of a general whom foreigners had attacked with unmerited obloquy. A feeling grew up that the dismissal or censure of Butler would be an unworthy concession to foreign dictation. I do not say that these considerations entirely justify the popularity of this vulgar satrap, but they render it much less discreditable than it might seem at first.
At this period a certain Parson Brownlow was delivering a series of lectures throughout the Northern States, which in themselves formed a strange indication of the coming change. This gentleman combined the characters of minister of the Gospel, newspaper editor, and bar-room politician, in the little town of Knoxville, East Tennessee. He was a strange illustration of American muscular Christianity. Stories were told of how he used to speak with a loaded revolver in his hand, and how, on one occasion, he had converted a blaspheming boatman by holding his head under water till he consented to repeat the Lord's Prayer. An ultra-Calvinist in theological principles, he was also a slave-holder, and had been throughout his life an ardent
247defender of the peculiar institution. To give a specimen of what the preacher and his paper were like, let me quote an article which this gentleman wrote, or allowed to be written in his own newspaper, a few years ago on the occasion of a negro being dragged by a mob, from the gaol of Knoxville, where he lay awaiting trial, and burnt alive. "We have to say, in defence of the act, that it was not perpetrated by an excited multitude, but by one thousand citizens — good citizens at that — who were cool, calm, and deliberate; we unhesitatingly affirm that the punishment was unequal to the crime. Had we been there, we should have taken a part, and even suggested the pinching of pieces out of him with red-hot pincers, or cutting off of a limb at a time, and then burning them all in a heap. The possibility of his escaping from gaol forbids the idea of awaiting the tardy movements of the law." I must say that I believe, from the aspect of the writer, that he would have been as good, or as bad, as his word. In the days before Secession, the slaveholding parson was held up to obloquy by anti-slavery partisans. Misfortune, however, makes strange bed-fellows. When Secession broke out, Parson Brownlow espoused warmly the cause of the Union in East Tennessee, and travelled throughout the State as a stump-orator denouncing Secession. He was imprisoned by the Confederate authorities, and after his release he made a tour through the
248Northern States, describing the sufferings and wrongs of the Union party in Tennessee.
The avowed object of his lectures was to raise money to aid the Federal cause, and to re-establish his own paper, whose press and offices had been burnt down by a Secession mob. At the time I heard him, he was starring it through the New England States, and vast audiences crowded to listen to his screaming denunciations of the Confederacy. As a Southern Unionist from a Slave State, his support was acceptable to the Federal party; and, I regret to say, many persons of position and character in New England volunteered to endorse his raving addresses. To me I own he was simply and inexpressibly disgusting. His narrative of the cruelties he underwent and witnessed in the prisons of the South may have been true — though for my own part, I cannot believe that, even if I were describing the horrors of Cawnpore, I could always cry at my own description of a child's brains being dashed out, when I had delivered the same lecture a score of times. In outward appearance, he is a cross between our national caricature of the typical Yankee and the stage portraits of Aminidab Sleek. In plain words, he looked the most unmitigated blackguard that I have ever come across. That such a fellow should have been a man of note and a popular preacher in the South, gave one a low impression of slaveholding civilization. In language he varied from the cant of a Methodist ranter, to the
249ribald profanity of Jonathan Wild. On the occasion when I heard him, the mildest form of adjuration that he employed was, "May the curse of God rest upon me!" A minister of the Gospel, he boasted to his hearers that, sooner than sign a declaration of allegiance to the Confederacy, he would have seen the whole Confederate Cabinet in hell, and himself on the top of them. A professed follower of Christ, he wound up by declaring it to be the one object of his life to join the Federal army, when it marched on East Tennessee, to point out the traitors that should be hung, and then, if no one else could be found to do it, to tie the cord himself round their necks, and act as hangman!
To do the audience justice, his blasphemies — for I can call them nothing else — were coldly received. All the passages, in which he called for stern justice and unsparing action, were cheered loudly. He was followed by a General Carey, a brother exile from Tennessee, who was free from the profanity of Brownlow, but who raised even more sternly, and with more apparent sincerity, the cry for vengeance. When he asked the audience how it was that fifteen months had passed since Fort Sumter was attacked, and yet no single traitor had been hung, or shot by law, he was answered by a storm of applause; and, again, when he passed an enthusiastic eulogy on General Butler, as the first Federal commander who had understood the position,
250he was interrupted by shouts and cheers. I heard but one faint hiss from the back benches.
All this, according to my judgment, was bad enough, and will prove the parent of worse things yet. It was a strange indication of the change that was passing over men's minds when a Boston audience cheered the sentiment — "That there never would be peace in the Union till the North awoke to a sense of its duty, and made South Carolina what Sodom and Gomorrah were of old." Heaven knows I do not believe that this feeling of vengeance was then, or is now, in any sense the true sentiment of the North, or even that the men and women, who cheered Brownlow on, really pictured to themselves what his teaching meant. Still the desire for revenge was, undoubtedly, developing itself in the New England States. Out of evil there comes good; and one good of all this was, that the anti-slavery sentiment was daily growing stronger. Governor Andrew, about this time, expressed, though perhaps prematurely, the popular instinct of Massachusetts when he stated, in reply to the Government demand for fresh troops, that the East would fight more readily if men knew that they were fighting against slavery. It is the pressure of this growing earnestness, of this resolution to sacrifice everything to one end, which at last forced the Government at Washington to make the war for the restoration of the Union a war also for the abolition of slavery.
Independence-Day in New York.
"You should go to New York for the Fourth — before then we must have grand news from Richmond — and you will see a sight that you ought to witness — a regular noisy, rowdy, glorious, Fourth of July." So an American friend of mine said to me in the latter days of June, and I followed his advice; but, according to the French proverb, "Man proposes, God disposes," and though I saw the Fourth, instead of being glorious, it was the gloomiest Independence-day that the Empire city had known during the present century. It was only on the preceding day that the full truth concerning McClellan's retreat had become known. The bitter suspense, indeed, was over, and people were beginning to look the worst fairly in the face. But the half-stunned feeling of dismay had not yet passed away; and even the public mind of America, with all its extraordinary elasticity, was still unable to brace itself to rejoicing and self-glorification. It was under such auspices that the last Independence-day was celebrated.
To show the tone with which the press of America represented popular feeling, let me quote two articles from leading New York papers on the morning of the festival. Even the New York Herald, for once, was dignified, and wrote of the day in the following words: — "‘Through the thick gloom of the present we see the brightness of the future as the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious and immortal day. When we are in our graves our children will honour it; they will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivities, with bonfires, with illuminations; on its annual return they will shed tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy.’ Thus exclaimed the patriot seer John Adams on the adoption of the Declaration of Independence eighty-six years ago. We could have no better motto for the day. He saluted it by the ‘All hail hereafter!’ as the birthday of the Republic; We celebrate it now in the new birth and regeneration of that Republic. Now as then, indeed, ‘thick gloom’ hangs over our country; but the eye of faith can descry the ‘brightness of the future as the sun in heaven.’ To-day we celebrate it, not merely by the festivities, bonfires, and illuminations whereof he speaks, but by the awful baptism of fire and blood. We have, indeed, our wonted festivities; but the real celebration of to-day is along the line of battle, and where the Union hosts surround the beleagured
253armies of the cursed rebellion. There are our hearts and hopes. The rest is all but show, and we have that within that passeth show. God defend and prosper the armies of the Republic!"
The Tribune drew a more practical lesson from the day in these words: —
"Eighty-six years ago this day, the representatives of our fathers, in Congress assembled at Philadelphia, united in that immortal Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, which they delibe rately placed on this immutable basis: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,’ . . . . So broad and solid a basis was never before laid by the founders of a new political fabric; hence no predecessor ever exerted so wide and beneficent a sway over the destinies of mankind. The American Revolution derives its chief significance and glory from its clear and hearty recognition of the equal and inalienable Rights of Man as Man. Had our country been uniformly faithful to the principles thus boldly enunciated, her career would have been the grandest, her people the happiest on the globe. Unfortunately, she soon faltered, and ultimately fell.
Her revolutionary patriot-statesmen, with scarcely an honourable exception, perceived and maintained that she was bound by her fundamental principle to achieve and secure the liberty of every one, even of the humblest and most despised of her people. Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, all held that slavery was condemned by our struggle for Liberty and Independence, and that we must abolish it at the earliest practicable moment. Fatal qualification! Soon peace, security, sloth, ease, luxury, the greed of power and of gold, weaned us from the grand truth asserted by the fathers: ‘Another king arose, who knew not Joseph.’ Vainly did the philanthropist remonstrate, the patriot plead, and the slave hold up appealingly his galling shackles. Our Scribes and Pharisees have too long wrested Law and Gospel to the cruel ends of oppression; and this nation, which was born amid the expectant shouts of the scourged and down-trodden, has for two generations been the accomplice of man-thieves, the stay of the tyrant and oppressor. The long forborne punishment of our national sin is at length upon us. A nation distracted and convulsed by treason — a country devastated, a people decimated by furious civil war — the vultures of aristocracy and despotism gathering and circling impatiently for the expected feast on the remains of what was once their chief terror; such are the aspects that greet the eighty-second anniversary of
our Independence. The clouds are heavy and dark, but the heavens are clear and bright above them. Let us struggle and trust. God save the Republic!"
These quotations will serve to show what the tone of the press was on this occasion. As to the day itself, it was a glorious one, with a sky bright and clear as that of Italy. The city was again gay with flags, and its shops were closed, and the streets were filled with holiday people, and the bells rang, and the cannon fired, and what was better than all, the news from the Peninsula was more encouraging; but still there was no spirit in the day, the life of the festival was gone. The one stock amusement of Independence-day consists in making as much noise as possible. From twelve o'clock on the previous night to midnight on the Fourth, the whole energies of the children and boys of New York are devoted to letting off as many crackers, firing as many pocket-pistols, and pelting passers-by with as many detonating balls as their own or their friends' purses can afford. All day long, in every street from Fifth Avenue down to Bowery, there is a never-ending disharge of this mimic artillery. You are lucky if you pass through the day without getting your hair singed, or your face scorched, or holes burnt in your clothes; and in fact prudent people keep much at home during the Fourth. Anybody who ever passed a Christmas at Naples, and has run the gauntlet of its squibs, and rockets, and pistols, will sympathize with me when I
256say, that it was some consolation for the national calamity to find that it checked the discharge of fireworks. It was bad enough as it was, but if McClellan had won a victory instead of being defeated, half the city would have been maimed and deafened. Some thirty people were taken to the hospitals in the course of the day from injuries inflicted by the fireworks. Like Oyster Day too in London, this annual Saturnalia, though professedly coming only once a year, lingers on in practice for days afterwards.
This discharge of fireworks was the one genuine exhibition of popular rejoicing throughout the day. Things must be very bad indeed before boys leave off throwing crackers in consequence of a national disaster; but with the grown-up population it was little of a holiday time. In the cool of the morning what few troops there were left in the city marched down Broadway; but most of them were boys, or old men, or raw recruits, and the show, in a military point of view, was a very poor one, and excited little interest. At ten o'clock there was a meeting in celebration of the anniversary held by the Common Council in the Cooper Institute. The meeting was announced for ten, but the proceedings did not begin till near eleven. The great hall, which I should say could hold between two and three thousand people, was never a quarter full, and a third of what crowd there was stood on the speakers' platform. The Mayor, Mr. Opdyke, was in the chair, and delivered a short
257address, in which he stated, amongst other things, that "with the loyal people of America, come what may, be the nations banded in arms against us, nothing shall be successful in overthrowing our cherished institutions." A long prayer was offered up by the select preacher to the Corporation, containing a statement novel to a New York audience as coming from such lips: "That this rebellion had been inflicted by Heaven on the people of America on account of their sins, because they had fallen away from the faith of their fathers, and had extended, protected, and perpetuated by their legislation, the abominable sin of slavery." An oration was next spoken by a Mr. Hiram Walbridge, more calm and dignified in its language than American declamations are wont to be. After dwelling on the popular resolution to do all and suffer all, rather than succumb, he gave vent to the grievances of the people in words such as these: — "Our lives, our money, our hopes, our destiny, our all, are at the service of the Government in upholding the Constitution and the Union. We, however, feel that we have the right to know every incident which marks the varying for tunes of the struggle, for it is our own chosen sons who are falling in defence of liberty. We also ear nestly desire, if any foreign mediation is meditated, it may be met with firmness and without complaint." Then followed a patriotic poem of interminable length and fatal fluency, some verses of which, perhaps, are
258worth reciting as specimens of American popular poetry: —
Louder rolled the Union drums,
When th' inspiring shout went upward,
‘Old Manhattan's army comes!’
Washington once more invoiced us,
And we rose in columns grand;
Marching round the flag of Sumter,
Grasped within his sculptured hand.
Shook the earth with martial tramp,
And she kissed her noblest children,
Hurrying down to Freedom's camp.
And the sundered coils of treason
Writhed upon her loyal shore,
When she flung her gallant ‘Seventh’
In the scales of righteous war.
Bloom for us with crimson flowers;
And o'er all the roar of battle
Gallia's eagle screams with ours.
Roman ‘vivas,’ German ‘forwarts,’
Mingle with our own ‘huzzas;’
And the Hungarian answers ‘Eljen,’
‘Eljen’ for the flag of stars.
Here the poor man feels no shame,
For he knows the lowliest fortune
Upward treads to loftiest fame.
For he dwells where limbs are chainless,
Where the grandest heights of earth
May be scaled, with brave aspirings,
By the child of humblest birth.
Gloom around like shades of night,
There the young backwoodsman opens
With his axe the gates of light;
And the intellect of labour,
Clasping Honour's guiding hand,
Climbs aloft with Abraham Lincoln —
Rules with him our glorious land.
And the genius of her soil,
Stands to-day this brave backwoodsman,
Representative of toil.
And the lesson of his greatness,
Writ in faith and hope sublime,
Tells the humblest of the people
How to triumph he may climb.
O'er Atlantic's stormy deep,
May behold this chosen people
In the Lord Jehovah's keep.
May behold how loyal manhood
Up to royal grandeur springs,
Where the realms are fields of labour,
And the toilers are the kings.
Freedom proves her purest ore,
And the bands of peace are welded
Underneath the blows of war.
From the iron and gold of armies,
From the broken links of wrong,
God will weld the works together,
God will make the Union strong."
Besides this, there were some national glees sung without much spirit; a few patriotic airs played by a
260brass band; and a recital of the "Declaration of Independence," in which the narrative of poor old George the Third's offences and shortcomings sounded strangely out of place in the midst of the dread struggle of the passing hour. But the whole affair was tame and spiritless to a strange degree. All hearts and thoughts were far away on the banks of the James River.
Later on there was a mass-meeting of the Democratic party, in honour of the day, at Old Tammany Hall. Here the great attraction consisted in hooting at Secretary Stanton, Mr. Beecher, and the Abolitionists. The chairman, Mr. Waterbury, stated in his speech, "that Mr. Edwin M. Stanton had shown that the worst foe was a renegade pretending to be a Democrat. He had been honoured with a position by President Lincoln, in which he had betrayed his party, its young and gallant General, and all who trusted him." A Mr. Morford, too, delivered a poem of his own composition, called, "Tammany and the Union," from which I have picked out the following poetic gem: —
That the struggle must not be
To put down the white in slavery,
While it sets the negro free.
Honour, then, to Abraham Lincoln,
That thus far his course is true;
Doing for the nation's welfare
All an honest man can do.
Honour to his name for ever,
That no Abolition force
Far from safety's middle course.
Long ago he learnt the lesson
That they all must learn at length,
That the black Chicago platform
Had no element of strength;
That Republican support at
Last must prove a rope of sand;
That Democracy must aid him,
If he wish to save the land."
And so on. There was an attempt made during the day to reduce these doctrines to their practical application. Early in the morning placards were stuck over the town, headed, "To the People," and signed "By many Union Men," calling for vengeance on the Abolitionists, on Greeley and Beecher, and others, who had brought on this reverse of McClellan's army by their diabolical machinations; and summoning a public open-air meeting for the afternoon, in the City Park, to denounce Abolition. The Tribune office faces the park, and if a mob could have been collected, the intention of the ringleaders was to storm the office. The placards, however, were all torn down in an hour's time; no crowd whatever assembled, except a score or so of rowdies and a dozen policemen, and no one was found bold enough to ascend the hustings, which had been erected expressly for the meeting.
There was no general illumination at night; the fire-works exhibited by the municipality were very poor, and the day closed tamely and quietly.
The Defeat of the Chickahominy.
I HAVE made it my rule, in these pages, to allude as little as possible to the passing incidents of the military campaign. With regard, however, to the great battles of the Chickahominy, I am obliged in some measure to depart from my rule, because these battles mark a most important crisis in the period of my visit to America. From the time when McClellan sailed for the peninsula, down to the period of Banks' defeat in the Shenandoah Valley, the universal expectation of the North was that the capture of Richmond was a mere question of days. Anybody who expressed doubt of this conclusion would have been set down as a Secessionist, and I think that there were very few persons who even entertained any doubt upon the matter. Since the event, the adherents of General McClellan have attributed his failure to the interference of the Government with his plans. For my own part, from what I heard at the time, I believe this defence not to have been valid. As far as McClellan's strategy has ever been understood, his original idea seems to have been to march the army of the Potomac in three
263converging lines on Richmond. If you connect Washington, Yorktown, and Richmond on a map by three straight lines, you will find that you have formed a very nearly right-angled triangle — the right angle being at Yorktown, and the side between Richmond and Yorktown being about a third of the length of the side between that place and Washington. McDowell's division, according to this plan, would have been the centre of the attack, McClellan's own division the left, and Banks' division the right. The army of the Potomac, therefore, under the Commander-in-Chief, formed the main attack, and from its proximity to the enemy occupied the post of danger. By the time the Federal army was established on the peninsula of Yorktown on the high road to Richmond, McClellan believed, with or without reason, that the enemy had resolved to contract his line of defence, and instead of resisting the advance of the three armies separately, was determined to concentrate the whole of his forces in defence of Richmond against the advance of the main army. In consequence, McClellan changed his plan of operations, and issued orders for McDowell's division, which was then marching towards Richmond by Manassas, to come and reinforce him on the peninsula. These orders were objected to by the War-office, on the following grounds: — If the enemy was to be crushed by sheer weight and force of numbers, the army at McClellan's disposal was amply sufficient, as he had already more
264soldiers, and some fifty more pieces of artillery, than Napoleon had under his command at the battle of Solferino. In the second place, in the event of a defeat on the peninsula, the army would have no available means of retreat, and any extension of its already unwieldy size would only increase the possibility of a disastrous rout. In the third place, Washington would be left defenceless against an advance of the enemy, in case the Confederates should be able to detach a force of any size from the army before Richmond. Of these considerations, which were laid before the President, the last was the one which weighed most with him, and on his own authority he countermanded the execution of McClellan's orders. A compromise, as usual, was arranged between the Secretary of War and the General commanding in chief. General Franklin's division, forming part of McDowell's army, was sent to the peninsula; McDowell himself was retained in front of Washington, and was reinforced by troops drawn from Bankes' army. Like most compromises in war, this arrangement proved a blunder, and each of its authors considers the other was to blame for its subsequent failure. Bankes' force, left isolated and weakened in the far-away Valley of the Shenandoah, was defeated without difficulty by Stonewall Jackson. This, however, was a minor evil. The chief damage occasioned by this compromise occurred on the peninsula itself. The President is reported to have said to Wendell
265Phillips, "General McClellan's main fault is that he thinks to-morrow is always better than to-day." This interference with the plan of the campaign furnished McClellan with an excuse for resuming the policy of "masterly inaction" to which, either by temperament or conviction, he was always inclined. The design of taking Richmond by a sudden dash was abandoned, and the army was allowed to waste its time and strength before the fortifications of Yorktown. What was the real force of the army despatched to the peninsula, is a much-disputed question. Two hundred and thirty thousand men were officially stated, at the time, to be the strength of McClellan's army at Yorktown, but his own friends declare that he had never more than a hundred thousand effective troops under his command. A large percentage of his force was on paper, and on paper only; but whether it was one hundred or two hundred thousand, it proved ineffective for the Anaconda strategy he now resolved to pursue. Instead of pushing forward with the whole force of his army against Richmond, he determined to surround and crush the Confederate army. To do this he had to extend his lines round Richmond to the extent of fifteen to twenty miles, and, in consequence, his line of attack was straggling, feeble, and ineffective. The pursuance of this plan necessitated long delay and inaction, and meanwhile his army dwindled away by desertion, and still more by sickness. The unhealthy climate of the
266swampy peninsula during the first summer-heats told fearfully upon the Northern troops. I have heard it estimated by persons, who had some means of knowing, that during the tardy advance from Yorktown, the Federal army lost men at the rate of nine hundred a day. No doubt this estimate was exaggerated, but still the mortality amongst the troops was fearful, and every day many hundreds of the Federal soldiers were placed upon the sick-list. Eye-witnesses at the time told me that the scenes of suffering amongst the troops encamped in the low levels were terrible to witness. The sick, when once struck down with fever, seemed to lose all power of rallying. By the time the sun had arisen for an hour, it was found impossible to induce the men to exert themselves in any way. Their vital energy was paralysed, and, strange to say, the strong Western men were much more affected by the fever than the puny-looking town lads of the Eastern cities. Under these circumstances, it was deemed necessary to change the position of the army. McClellan was unable or unwilling to advance on Richmond, and therefore the only thing to be done was to contract the lines of attack. The right wing, under General Porter, owing to some strange blunder, was encamped in a swamp, and was almost decimated by fever. Yet the advanced posts of this wing occupied the high ground to the left of the Chickahominy, from which Richmond was most open to attack. Unfortunately, General McClellan was
267unable to move the bulk of the army towards the high ground, because by so doing he would have broken off his communications with the James River, on which he relied for his supplies, and he considered that he had not troops enough to keep the communication open if the main force of his army had been moved inland. He, therefore, resolved to withdraw his right wing altogether, and move his whole force upon the James River, to the position occupied there by his extreme left. This resolution, wise or unwise, involved the surrender of all the advantages gained hitherto in the campaign before Richmond, and the withdrawal of the invading army from within five miles of the besieged city to nearly five times that distance. In other words, it was the relinquishment of the attack. As a military operation, it was not even successful. Somehow or other the enemy got scent of the plan, and while McClellan was withdrawing his right wing, they succeeded, with great ability, in getting to the rear of his retreating columns, and attacked them with murderous effect. For four days, during which the fighting continued almost without pause, it remained doubtful whether the Federal army would succeed in reaching the shelter of the gun-boats on the James River before it was cut to pieces; but at last, when the battle seemed well-nigh lost, either the courage or the ammunition of the Confederate army became exhausted, and the Federals made good their retreat.
Without professing that this account is strictly correct in a military point of view, I believe it to be a fair statement of the real history of the disastrous peninsular campaign. It was only very slowly that the truth oozed out; and the retreat of the Potomac army fell like an unexpected blow upon the North. From the time of Bankes' defeat there was, indeed, a general feeling of anxiety about the progress of the war, though it did not assume any definite character. Nobody doubted as yet whether McClellan could take Richmond, but doubts were expressed as to how long he would be in taking it. The defenders of the General's strategy used, at this period, to assert that its merit consisted in being incomprehensible. No doubt, if Richmond had been taken, everybody would have discovered the wonderful ability of the General; but already people were beginning to doubt whether McClellan, like a military Ali Baba, might not have forgotten the "open sesame" himself. Meanwhile, why the Federal army should be encamped in a swamp, why the best equipped and the most numerous army of modern times should always happen to be outnumbered, why the longest of all the many routes to Richmond should have been chosen purposely, were all questions that the public was growing uneasy at not having answered. Moreover, general uneasiness was increased by a conviction which then, for the first time, began to force itself on the public mind, that there was a want of resolution in the
269direction of the war at Washington as well as before Yorktown. The exaggerated confidence which the whole of the North had been disposed to place in Mr. Lincoln gave place to an undefined distrust. Instances of vacillation of purpose on the part of the Government occurred constantly. Who was to blame it was hard to say, but it was felt that somebody was to blame somewhere. There was, amongst many others, the case of General Benham. This officer was placed under arrest some six months before on a charge, widely circulated among his own subordinate officers, that he had deliberately allowed General Floyd to make his escape with his army. Time passed on, the General was never brought to trial; he was allowed to live at New York on parole; and, finally, without being either acquitted or condemned, and without even having the charges against him investigated, he was appointed to a command in the Federal army, which was then attacking Charleston. Naturally enough, being anxious to restore his blemished reputation by some signal exploit, he resolved to make a dashing attack, exceeded, if not disobeyed his orders, and failed lamentably. No other result could have been expected from a General resting under the stigma of an uninvestigated accusation. The Pope and Fremont affair, again, was eminently unsatisfactory to the thinking public. General Fremont had been removed from his command in Missouri by order of the Government, accused of offences for which, if
270they could have been proved, he deserved to have been cashiered at once; and then, without inquiry as to his guilt or innocence, was reappointed to an important command in Western Virginia. One of two conclusions was obvious: either he was infamously ill-treated by his recall from Missouri, or else he was utterly unfit to hold a command in the mountain district of Virginia. During his second command he gave no cause for complaint. On the contrary, he showed his wonted ability as a commander, and, with very scanty means at his disposal, rendered great services to the Federal cause. Yet, on a sudden, because General McClellan and the War Department had made a blunder between them, Fremont was virtually deposed, and Pope, an old personal enemy, placed over him. Whether Fremont would not have done more wisely to remain in a subordinate position than to throw up his commission in disgust is a question on which opinions differ; but the whole management of the affair was eminently discreditable to the Government. A series of incidents, of which the above are specimens, began to open the mind of the public to the conclusion that the Government, if not deficient in personal ability, had no distinct notions of its own policy, and no head to guide it.
Still, this sort of indefinite anxiety had not prepared the nation for the disasters of the Chickahominy. The reports allowed to proceed from the army were unaccountably meagre, barren indeed of anything except
271vague statements, that the fall of Richmond was close at hand, and that everybody reposed implicit confidence in McClellan's strategy. Little therefore was known of the actual state of affairs. There were unpleasant rumours, though nothing more than rumours, of great mortality in the army before Richmond; still, I do not believe that the public was aware of there being any cause for serious apprehension. There was a feeling of impatience about the continued delays, but there was no doubt felt, and certainly none expressed, as to Richmond falling whenever the army did advance. The idea that the Federal forces would be repulsed was barely admitted as a contingency. It was on the last day of June the first tidings were received that the battle had been fought. It was vaguely described at first as the greatest contest ever witnessed in either hemisphere. It came out, however, at the same time, that for four days the nation had been kept in ignorance of the fact that the Federal armies were fighting for life or death. People grew uneasy at the news having been kept back so long; but the general idea was that a decisive, though dear-bought, victory had been won. On the following day, intelligence came to the cities of the North that the fighting was still going on; and the telegrams, though ominously indistinct, admitted that the general result of the movement consisted in the retreat of the Federal army. With the next morning there was no news of a decisive kind,
272but the President's call for three hundred thousand more troops was in itself a confession of reverse, and for the first time the words, "Defeat and repulse of the Federal army," began to be mentioned in the papers. And then, on the morrow, there came intelligence that the battle was still raging, and that McClellan had had to retreat before the overwhelming forces of the enemy, and had spiked his guns. I happened to be in New York when these tidings arrived. Throughout the day the depression was terrible. The city, deserted as it is during the sultry summer weather, looked as though some calamity had befallen it. The flags were taken down. There were crowds all day loitering about the newspaper offices. Lots of people hurried feverishly about the streets, and stocks went up and down with fluctuations almost unknown even in that most changeable of markets. The Secessionists were triumphant, and openly expressed their confidence that the whole of McClellan's army would be swept off the peninsula. Amongst Union men, a fear was very prevalent lest this might prove to be true; and I observed no greater evidence of how deep the dejection had been than how, — when the news came at last that the fighting had ceased, and that McClellan had made good his retreat to the James River, and had reached the protection of the gun-boats — the city seemed to breathe again.
To me the most striking symptom connected with the
273whole matter was the manner in which the news of this disaster was received throughout the North. No attempt whatever was made to conceal it. The Government made a feeble trial to retard the publication of the news, but in this, as in other respects, they seemed to me to underrate the resolution of the people. The Northern press admitted the facts of the case and the anxieties of the public mind, as fully and as freely as English papers would have done under like circumstances. "Repulse of the Federal Troops" was stuck up on the posters of the newspapers, and shouted about the streets by the news-boys, as boldly and as openly as if intelligence had been received of a great Union victory. The North felt strong enough to know the truth — and there is no better evidence of real strength. The defeat of the army was not apparently so great a mortification to the people as the manner in which the Secretary of War had attempted to hoodwink the nation. Even at the darkest moment, I heard no cry of despair or disheartenedness as to the ultimate result. Other generals might have to be found, more troops supplied, more precious lives sacrificed, and more sufferings endured, but of the final victory there was as yet neither doubt nor question.
It was strange, too, to witness how the result of this defeat was to stimulate the anti-slavery feeling of the public. True or false, the conviction that the Union and Slavery could not any longer exist together seemed
274to impress itself more and more deeply on the public mind with every successive delay and disaster. There was a young lad, of whose family I knew something, who was killed fighting in the Federal ranks at the battle of Ball's-Bluff. He had been wounded before, and had returned home on sick leave. On his departure to rejoin his regiment, he told his mother that he knew he should not return. "It needs the lives," he said, "of ten thousand such as me to awaken our people to the knowledge of the truth." The knowledge has been learnt, not, I trust, too late.
Mass Meetings and the Levy.
As soon as the depression which followed the Peninsula defeat had passed away, an attempt was made throughout all the Northern States to rekindle popular enthusiasm. The President's call for 300,000 additional troops was greeted enthusiastically, as far as the press was concerned. The Tribune was not more ardent than its contemporaries in advocating the duty of volunteering. The following language in which this paper wrote of the call for troops may be taken as a fair specimen of the utterances of the press: —
"Patriots, Unionists, lovers of freedom, resolve now that the needed force shall be raised promptly and fully. You that are of proper age and full vigour must volunteer, while the infirm and superannuated must contribute freely of their substance to sustain the families of those who peril their lives for the country. Hours are precious; some great disaster may befal while we are getting ready to divert it. You who can possibly be spared and are able to fight,
let not a day be lost in offering your services to your distracted, imperilled country. There have been discussions concerning the proper policy to be pursued by the Government in prosecuting the contest with the rebels, and as to who among the soldiers of the Republic are best qualified to lead her armies. We have participated in these discussions freely, earnestly, faithfully, honestly striving to serve and save our country, and to that end alone. Now, discussion must give place to action, and all must join hands in one resolute effort to right the ship of State, and warp her off the breakers that roar beneath her lee. All hands to the rescue!
To Republicans, above all, we appeal for the most devoted efforts in this crisis. They may wish, as we have done, that this or that were different; they may hope, as we do, that it soon may be so; but whether the Government take the course we think best or another, let it be seen and felt that, in this hour of trial and of darkness, we were true to our duty and our loved and honoured country. Let us show that she was never so dear to us as when aristocrats and traitors were conspiring to work her ruin, and had even raised the shout of exultation implying that their end was achieved and the Union no more."
So, too, during this month of July, the papers were filled with items of intelligence as to the progress of
277the levy, of which I have picked out one or two by hazard, from the columns of a Boston paper: —
"War Meetings and Recruits. — The town-hall of Newton was again filled with an enthusiastic audience last evening. J. W. Edwards presided over the assembly. Four recruits were obtained. Rev. Mr. Briggs offered $25 for the first recruit, another gentleman offered $25 for the second, and the president of the meeting $25 for the two next. Messrs. Pelton and Stevenson likewise offered $25 each for a recruit, when the Hon. Wm. Claflin offered $25 each for every recruit enlisting within ten days."
"An enthusiastic meeting of citizens was held in Sandwich on Tuesday evening. Dr. Jonathan Leonard presided, and speeches were made by Hon. George Marston, Judge Day, and Major Phinney, of the Barnstable Patriot. It was voted to advise the town to offer a bounty of $100 to each recruit. Judge Marston made a strong anti-slavery speech."
"Up to Wednesday afternoon, twenty recruits had enlisted in Fall River."
"Among the arrivals at the camp of the 34th Regiment at Worcester yesterday, were seventy-three from Westfield. Besides these, there were many other accessions from other localities, and more are expected to-day. There are now about 350 men at this camp."
"Recruiting is progressing quite rapidly at Cambridge-port. Nearly 100 men have been enlisted.
The first detachment of over thirty men, who have passed a rigid examination by the medical inspector, will leave for Camp Cameron to-day; and some twenty others will follow as soon as they can be examined."
"Rev. George Bowler, of Westfield, has enlisted 200 men, in co-operation with the towns in that vicinity, since last Friday morning (just one week), and yesterday placed one full company in the 34th Regiment. Another will be filled in a day or two. After entering the full company yesterday, he was made the recipient of a beautiful five-inch revolver, from Mr. L. W. Pond, of Worcester. Mr. Bowler was formerly the pastor of the High Street Methodist Church of Charlestown."
"The second war-meeting at Wilbraham, Hampden County, was held Wednesday evening, at the Methodist vestry in the South parish. So great was the attendance, that out-of-doors accommodations were sought in front of the church. Eighteen patriotic young men enlisted in the course of the evening."
"Washington held an enthusiastic meeting Tuesday evening, voted $75 bounty for each volunteer, and nine young men agreed to enlist — two more than the town's quota. Cheshire, a stronghold of democracy, is said to have already raised her quota of troops."
Moreover, the walls of every city and hamlet in the North were placarded with appeals, setting forth the inducements to enlist. Of these appeals I preserved one addressed to the men of Boston by Brigadier
279General William Bullock, recruiting officer in chief for the State of Massachusetts. It is impossible to give the full effect of this placard without the varieties and eccentricities of sensation typography with which it was lavishly adorned. The reader must imagine that the following spasmodic sentences were contorted into every shape that compositors could imagine in their wildest dreams: —
"Men of Boston, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! The pay will commence at once; you will be sent into camp instantly — food, clothing, and lodging at once given you —
Leave the ploughshare, grasp the musket.’
The wild hunt is up — rally for the honour of the flag — rally to save the Union.
. . . Then enlist as you will, in cavalry, infantry, artillery, or sharpshooters. Infantry! The 23d Regiment, Lieut.-Colonel John Kurtz, is at Linfield, raised by General Henry Wilson; 24th, Colonel Stevenson, at Readville, has many of the old New England Guards in its ranks; the 26th is at Lowell, and is commanded by Colonel Jones, who led the old 6th through Baltimore. Cavalry! Encamped at Redville is a splendid equestrian regiment, including the National Lancers and Boston Light Dragoons. ••• Germans of Massachusetts, as you battled for
the Fatherland, battle now for your adopted country. Remember Franz Sigel.
‘Acushla Machree, our hearts beat for thee;
Erin mavourneen, our hearts beat for thee.’
‘Pat is fond of fun,
And was never known to run,
From cannon, sword, or gun,
Says the Shan-Van-Vagh.’
You know that in the land of your adoption, the wanderer is welcomed with Cushla machree. Fight for the honour of Ireland. Alanna —
To the front of battle go;
Every breast, the shamrock wearing,
Burns to meet his country foe.
Erin, when the swords are glancing
In the dark fight, loves to see
Foremost still her plumage dancing
To the trumpet's jubilee.’
Fight for the green island Astore; for Hibernia, Aroun. You have two regiments to choose from — The 28th, raised in concert by Patrick Donahoe, Esq. editor of the Boston Pilot, and Dr. Walter M. Walsh, who gave his time and means so freely to the formation of the two Irish regiments raised heretofore in this State. Its colonel is Thomas S. Murphy,
the gallant commander of the New York Montgomery Guards. The lieut.-colonel is the heroic Colonel Monteith, of New York.
The 29th is to be attached to the New York Irish Brigade, with which Nugent and Thomas Francis Meagher are connected. Its colonel is Matthew Murphy, of the New York famed 69th. Massachusetts provides for the wives and families of those who enlist in either of these regiments.
A Roman Catholic priest goes with each regiment, and in the hottest of the fight you shall be
‘Side by side with him still,
The chief method, however, resorted to in order to stir up the enthusiasm of the people was holding mass meetings throughout the Northern cities. I was present, amongst others, at one in New York, held a few days after the Chickahominy battles, which was intended to be the counterpart of the monster gathering that followed the news of the attack on Fort Sumter. The day was sultry beyond description: a heavy thunderstorm was gathering in the air, and burst before the close of the meeting. The thermometer stood at ninety-three degrees in the shade, and from time to time dense clouds of dust were whirled through the streets by the hot gusts of wind. Altogether, the day was a gloomy one, and the meeting was affected by the atmosphere. There was a dense
282crowd collected, but whether 20,000, or 50,000, or 100,000, neither I nor any one else could tell: it was so broken up into knots. The fact which impressed me most with the size of the crowd, was the unbroken stream of men which, for hours before the meeting, poured along the Broadway in the direction of the place of gathering in Union Square. The square itself is not well selected for a mass meeting. It is nearly as large, I should fancy, as Lincoln's Inn Fields, and at least two-thirds of its area are occupied by an oblong garden, fenced round with high iron railings, and overshadowed by closely-planted trees. No public speaker, not even Garibaldi, could make his voice heard halfway down the square; so there were some half-dozen hustings raised in different parts of the open space, round each of which crowds were collected, moving from stand to stand as impulse seized them. There was a goodly display of flags and bands of music, and processions of school children. The crowd was composed almost entirely of men. The windows of the houses, which overlooked the square, were filled with gaily-dressed ladies, and across Dr. Cheever's, which faces the garden, there was hung a linen scroll, with the text written on it, "Preach deliverance to the earth and to all the inhabitants thereof."
These were all the outward paraphernalia; of the speeches themselves you could hear but little. The buzz of the thousand voices, the cheers of the audience
283around the stands, and the constant cracking of squibs and guns, rendered any speaker inaudible more than a few yards off. And as for pushing through the crowd right up to the platforms in that stifling atmosphere, is a thing not to be thought of, even now, without horror. The densest and the most enthusiastic throng was collected round the stand of the New York Christian Young Men's Association, where General Fremont was in the chair. A spare, slight-built man, of some forty-five years of age, with bushy eyebrows, a short stubbly beard, and a slight stoop in the somewhat narrow shoulders; he looked more like a man of study than the Pathfinder. His manner was very quiet, his words, as far as I could hear them, few, and spoken with a slow half-foreign accent. The one outward symptom of the Condottiere General was to be found, if anywhere, in the keen, bright, restless eyes. Still, there was a sort of magic in his name, if not in his presence. Here, at any rate, was a man who, right or wrong, would have fought the war far otherwise than it had been fought as yet — who knew what he wanted to do, if not how to do it. It must have been some feeling of this kind which collected the largest gathering around the stand on which Fremont was seated, and raised the loudest cheers for his scanty words. Otherwise, there was as little here as elsewhere to rouse enthusiasm. The whole meeting had been arranged on what was described as "a common Union platform," on which all parties could
284agree. The consequence was, that any decided expression of conviction was impossible, either for or against Abolition, and the speeches were models of tame commonplace. The men of decided views and strong opinions were amongst the crowd, not amongst the speakers. Ward-Beecher, Greeley, Gay, Tilton, and all the Abolitionists of note, were there, but took no part in the proceedings. Their time was not yet come. The multitude was there, anxious, restless, and weary, but the prophet to lead, or else the faith to follow, was still wanting. There was a van drawn through the square, with placards pasted over it of "Hurrah for McClellan!" The crowd, however, made no response, and, with the exception of the dense multitude collected, and the cheers for Fremont, the grand Union mass meeting proved a failure.
At Boston, at the same period, there were meetings held daily on the Common, in order to stimulate volunteering. I was present at several of them, but at none which I came across was there any outburst of popular enthusiasm. A platform was raised in one corner of the Park, from which citizens of note daily addressed any hearers whom they could collect together. A brass band performed during the intervals between the speeches, and recruiting officers were in attendance to enlist any recruit whose courage was stirred up to the enlistment point. A summary I extracted from the Boston Transcript will give a fair impression of what
285all these meetings were like: —
"In accordance with the call of the Executive Committee of the City Council, and the Citizens' Committee of one hundred and fifty, five or six thousand persons assembled on the Common yesterday afternoon, at four o'clock, for the purpose of encouraging enlistments in the army. A marquee had been erected on Flagstaff Hill, as the head-quarters of the Committee; whilst from the speakers' platform, near the Charles Street Mall, the Brigade band entertained the company with their best music.
Alderman E. T. Wilson, chair of the Executive Committee of the City Council, called the meeting to order, and spoke of the needs of the country and the necessity for every citizen to make sacrifices, either in person or in wealth. He displayed a Secession flag, and asked his hearers if they were willing to neglect the best Government on earth and become the minions of that flag. (Hisses, and cries of ‘Tear it up!’) ‘Then bring your strong arms and wipe it off the face of the country.’
Mr. Greene, on taking the chair, congratulated the audience at length on the unanimity which prevailed, and which had obliterated parties from mind, and brought us to look to the honour of our country and our own safety. It was an emergency which would tax all our energies. The enemy were everywhere on the alert, making desperate efforts, and were even
recovering Arkansas, which we had thought lost to them. Mr. Greene read General Hindman's proclamation to the people of that State, and concluded with an appeal for greater patriotism, sacrifice, and unity of action.
Mayor Whiteman spoke of his being invested with a new power, that of recruiting-officer for Boston, and he appealed to all present to make his new position a successful one, and rally in support of the Constitution, the President, and the cause of Liberty. He spoke of the pecuniary inducements, and stated that the total the volunteer would receive under the new order was equal to ten dollars and a half a week during the first year.
Honourable George V. Upton made an eloquent address in reference to the objects and purposes of the meeting, and the necessity for putting down the rebellion. The call for men came from those who were in the field, and from their wives and children left weeping at home — from the honoured dead at Massachusetts, who had fallen in the fight — all of whom called upon us to see that their sacrifices were not in vain. Let us heed their voices and rally promptly, and we should save untold misery in all the future, and avert the threatened triumph of slavery and crime.
Captain John C. Wyman, who was recruiting a company for the 33d Regiment, asked earnestly for more soldiers, without which home and country would soon be lost to us. These were days besides which the interests of the early Revolution sank into shade.
Samuel H. Randell, Esq. President of the Mercantile Library Association, Rev. Father Taylor, and Patrick Donahoe, of the Boston Pilot, also addressed the meeting. Father Taylor (of whom, by the way, a long account is given in Mr. Dickens's American Notes) said that, though too old to march to the battle-field, he was yet willing to do all in his power to put down this rebellion. Born a Virginian, yet a residence here for the past fifty years had made him a Yankee. This war concluded, he (Father Taylor) was in favour of taking John Bull by the horns, and teaching him his duty. He had one son in the army, and if he had a thousand they should go too."
The meeting closed with reading an address from the Citizens' Committee to the people at Boston, which is too long for quotation. A few paragraphs, however, will give the reader a fair impression of its contents: —
"It is time that the armed rebels of the South should be enabled to read their inevitable doom by the light of the fires of patriotism that are kindling in the North. It is time that the suppression of the rebel lion should be felt to be the private business of every loyal citizen.
The purposes of the war are the enforcement of the laws, which have been enacted by the authority of the people, the integrity of the nation within all its limits, and the vindication of the constitution of the country.
We know no divided allegiance — we will allow of no divided country.
Traitors in arms are setting in defiance the authority of your Government. Teach them that this is setting at defiance the power of the people.
The Freemen of the North will now put into the field an army large enough to command a peace.
Let the men of Boston do their full share in this needed work.
You have the power — wield it! You possess the resources — use them!
Come with your arms strong and with your hearts full, with the steady tread of men who know that the cause which leads them is a holy one.
With justice, and truth, and honour, and a pure patriotism, and God the unfailing fountain of them all, on your side, you cannot fail unless you fold your hands in a listless apathy, and look with a vacant gaze upon this diabolical attempt to overthrow this fabric of self-government.
It cannot be that the flag, whose stars and stripes have been sufficient to protect us throughout the civilized world, is to be trodden on and desecrated by traitors.
It is not the question, whether the number of men needed for the complete defence of the Government, and the utter annihilation of this wicked and unprovoked
rebellion, shall go in the battle-field with arms in their hands, and with a complete determination to uphold the Government in their hearts.
For if the stalwart young men of this community do not come forward in their strength, their fathers will in their weakness.
Fathers and mothers! Do not withhold your sons from the conflict in such a cause, though their blood may be dearer to you than your own, and though you would willingly offer to them your own hearts as shields against danger.
Their interests and their honour are alike involved. Let it never be said that the young men of the North preferred ease at home, when the Ark of their liberties was in danger, to the glory of a manly resistance against traitors for its preservation.
Send them forth, for the cause is worth any sacrifice.
If you have a dozen sons, bring them now to the service of their country.
If they return from a won battle-field, the laurels on their brows will keep their old age green, and scars will be their ornaments. And if they fall in this righteous cause, they will be buried in the hearts of their countrymen."
In the whole of this proclamation, no allusion whatever was made to the question of Slavery, and this omission was common in all the proceedings of this period.
290An immediate accession of recruits ought to have been the answer made to these appeals; but, somehow or other, the levy did not correspond to the expectations of the nation. There were many causes which were hostile to its progress. Taking in the three months' volunteers, probably near a million of men had been, at one time or other, in the service of the Federal armies since the war began. Now, as the population of the Northern States is about twenty-four millions, and the average life of a generation in America is certainly not over thirty years, there would only be about four millions of men above twenty. One in four of the military population of a country constitutes an enormous proportion. All, and more than all, the men who would have gone naturally to the war had gone already, and the vast majority of the July levy had to be drawn from classes to whom volunteering was a heavy personal sacrifice.
There was no general distress, too, to force the poorer classes into the army for subsistence. The price of living had risen since the war, but wages, owing to the scarcity of labour, had risen in a higher ratio. The call for troops was made under the most dispiriting circumstances. It came on the day after a disaster, at a time when there was little prospect of immediate action, and when the war seemed likely to be prolonged indefinitely.
The harvest was close at hand, and the sons of the
291Northern farmers and yeomen, who formed so large a part of the Federal army, could hardly enlist till the crops were got in. The Irish, too, were hanging back. Amongst them, the prejudice against the negro is stronger than amongst any other class, and they believed that the effect of emancipation would be to flood the Northern States with free negroes, and thus lower their own wages. The power of the Irish element, both in the Government and in the army of the North, has been immensely exaggerated abroad; but still it is an element of considerable importance, and, such as it is, it was undoubtedly alienated by the Abolitionist character towards which the war was obviously drifting. There was a prevalent idea, too, that conscription would be resorted to, and that, in this event, the price for substitutes would be much higher than any other bounty yet offered. All these causes were more or less local and temporary in their character; but there was one cause which retarded enlistment more widely and more seriously than all of them put together, and that was, the want of public confidence in the generalship of the Federal commanders, and still more in the administration of the war. There was a general and growing conviction, that the temporising policy of the Government had failed. Slavery, the nation was beginning to see, was a fact that must be looked boldly in the face. The time had come for the Government to declare openly what it meant to
292do, and what it meant not to do, with reference to the negro. The absence of any outspoken profession of faith on this subject paralysed the enthusiasm of the people. Could Mr. Lincoln have been induced to issue his Emancipation edict at this period, the result, I believe, might have been far different; but, while the President vacillated between conflicting counsels, the golden opportunity was allowed to pass.
Before I leave the subject of the Levy, let me mention one or two incidents out of many connected with it which came under my own notice. In the City Hall Park there were two sheds, hastily run up. One was the enlistment office, the other the temporary hospital for wounded soldiers just landed from the peninsula. Alongside of the recruiting sergeant one saw the convalescent soldiers — wounded, haggard, and maimed — tottering about beneath the trees. The arrangement, perhaps, was not a politic one. Flags and drinking — booths and bands of music might attract recruits more readily; yet, to my mind, there was an air of resolution and stern purpose, given by the contrast of the wounded veteran and the raw recruit, which was not without promise. So, again, I spoke in a former chapter, of a house I knew of, where there hung the pictures of three bright, gallant-looking lads, who had gone to the war, one of them never to return. I was there a few days after the battle of the Chickahominy; and the second of these portraits was now a remembrance of one who
293had died in battle. And yet the only change I could see in the conversation of those to whom the likenesses belonged was an increased ardour for the war, a more intense sympathy for the cause in which the dead had fallen. One more anecdote, and I have finished. In travelling up one night at this period from Baltimore, the cars were crowded with sick and wounded soldiers on their way home from the peninsula. On the bench behind me there was a woman in deep black, carrying a sick child in her arms, and beside her there was a discharged soldier, whose health had broken down in the swamps. The woman was a widow, just returned from the death-bed of her brother, who, like her husband, had been killed in the campaign. The man looked dreadfully worn and ill; he complained, and, I fear, truly, that he should never be fit for a day's work again; he had a grievance, too, of his own against the Government, who he considered had behaved shabbily about the amount of bounty paid him on his discharge. Being seated near them, I could hear the soldier and the soldier's widow telling each other of their hardships and their sorrows; and at last the man consoled the woman by saying to her, "Well, after all, it's for our country, and we're bound to do it." The woman answered him, "Yes, that's so;" and though the words might be commonplace, it seemed to me that there was about them something of true heroism.
The Case of the North.
"WHAT on earth is the North fighting for?" is a question which I have often heard asked in England. If you were to put it to an American, he would doubt your asking it seriously; the answer seems to him so very simple and obvious. The Americans are not a reflective people; they look at facts much more than at theories, and, like ourselves, act rather from general convictions than on any logical system of reasoning. Their answer, therefore, to such a question is often indistinct and illogical enough. But having talked with scores of Northern men of all States and all classes on the subject, I should say that the general chain of argument, which forms the basis of the different answers you receive, is easy to explain and understand. In considering it, it should be borne in mind that the merits or demerits of the Northern cause are entirely independent of the issue of the war. Before the war commenced, the North had no doubt, whether right or wrong, that it possessed the power to suppress the insurrection by armed force. The present question, therefore, is not whether the North was wise in going to war,
295but whether her motives were sufficient to justify her in so doing? I am not going to enter upon the questions, whether war is ever justifiable except in self-defence, or whether any nation is ever at liberty morally to coerce another against its will. The arguments against aggression and coercion are very strong ones, but they are not ones which an Englishman can use; and I wish to speak of this question from an English point of view.
The answer, then, would be much after this fashion —
"We will put the slavery question aside. On that point we are divided among ourselves. We do not claim to be carrying on a war of emancipation; we are not fighting for the blacks, but for the whites. Universal emancipation may come, probably will come, as one result of our war; but the object of the war is to preserve the Union. We allowed perfect freedom to the Southern States — freedom as full and as untrammelled as we enjoyed ourselves. Not only did we not interfere with their peculiar institution, but we granted them every facility they claimed for its maintenance. We permitted the South to have more than its full share of power and to fill up the Government with Southern men. There was one thing only we objected to, and that was to having slavery forced upon the Free Territories of the North. We objected to this legally and constitutionally; and by legal and constitutional measures we expressed the will of the nation. Our whole Government, like all free governments,
rests upon the principle that the will of the majority must decide. The South revolted at once, because it was defeated by the vote of the majority. If we had acquiesced in that revolt, the vital principle of our Government was overthrown. Any minority whatever, either in the Union or in the separate States, which happened to be dissatisfied with the decision of the majority, might have followed the example of the South, and our Government would have fallen to pieces, like an arch without a keystone. The one principle of power in a Democracy is the submission of the minority to the will of the people; and, in fighting against the South, we are fighting for the vital principle of our Government. You call a man a coward who will let himself be robbed of all that makes life valuable without making an effort to resist; and what would you have called a nation that submitted placidly to its own dismemberment?
"We are fighting too," so the Northerners would urge, "not only for abstract constitutional principles, but for clear matter-of-fact interests. Our Government was at any rate a very good one in our own eyes. As a people we had prospered under it. We had enjoyed more of freedom, order, and happiness beneath the Union than, we believe, any people had ever enjoyed before. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, we were one people, dwelling under one Government, speaking
one language, without custom-houses, or passports, or frontier lines to separate us; without the fear of invasion and war; without the need for standing armies, and camps, and fortified cities — free to carry on unmolested our great mission of reclaiming the vast wilderness. We are asked to abandon all this, and you wonder that we refuse to do so without striking a blow in defence of our rights.
It is not only our present, but our future, that is at stake. Supposing we had acceded to the proposals of tame submission, what would have been the inevitable result? We should have had upon our frontier a hostile power, to whom our free institutions were a standing menace, and to whom extension of territory was a necessity of political existence. War must have come sooner or later, and in the interests of our future peace it was better to fight at once. Even if a peaceable and durable separation had been possible, and if terms of compromise could have been devised, where was the process of disunion to end? If once the South goes, the Union is dissolved; the Western States would inevitably part company before long with the seaboard States; California would assert its independence, the Border States would fall away from the Central States; and the Union, the great work of our forefathers, would give place to a system of rival republics, with mutual enmities, antagonistic policies, foreign alliances, and intestine wars.
We have seen the whole of Europe applauding Italy for endeavouring to become one people, under one Government, and are we to be blamed because we decline being reduced into the same political condition as Italy was in before the revolution?"
Such in substance would be the answer of any average Northerner. In speaking to a foreigner, he would not dwell much on the national dream of the golden future, to whose realization Secession is absolutely fatal; but I believe that in the heart of most Americans this feeling is uppermost. That dream of the possible future was not so unreasonable or so chimerical a one, as we are apt to fancy. It was the one great beauty of the Federal Constitution that it was adapted to an almost indefinite expansion of territory. Such complete and absolute liberty was granted to the individual States by the Federal compact; the Central Government conferred so many advantages, and demanded so few sacrifices, that it was really possible for State after State to have joined the Union, as civilization pushed further westwards, without the necessity of change or revolution. It was within the bounds of possibility, almost of probability, that the dream might have been realized, and that the whole of that vast continent might have been occupied by a hundred states, each ruling itself as it thought best, and all living under one common free Government. The idea that Washington should one day be the seat of Government
299of the whole of North America was not a more absurd one than that the little island of England should rule over India and Australia and Canada. Be the idea reasonable or not, it was at least a very grand one, and one consonant, too, to that admiration for sheer magnitude which is peculiar to the American mind. It was an idea palpable to all understandings, and shared by all classes.
It would be very difficult for the writer, or probably for the reader, or for ninety-nine Englishmen out of every hundred, to show in what single respect, financial, commercial, or political, they were one atom better off from the fact that the British flag waves over a thousand colonies; and yet every Englishman must feel that our colonial empire adds somehow or other to his personal dignity and happiness. So, in like manner, if an American feels that his pride and sense of dignity are involved in that possible empire of the future, it is not for an Englishman to ridicule the idea. It happened that early in this war I had the pleasure of being introduced to General Scott. With that frank cordiality of manner which gives a charm to the conversation of well-bred Americans at home, he began talking to me about England, expressing his keen desire to see our country again after an absence of forty years; and he wound up by saying, "England, sir, is a noble country — a country worth fighting for." What the old hero said of England, I think, any candid Englishman, who knew the country,
300would say of America. The North has a cause worth fighting for; and, successful or unsuccessful, it will be better for the North, better also for the world at large, that a great cause has been fought for gallantly.
I admit freely, on the other hand, that the South also has fought gallantly. I can understand the sympathy that bystanders inevitably feel for the weaker party fighting against great odds, and holding out manfully against defeat and discouragement. Any one who knows the facts must be aware that the odds in favour of the North were not nearly so strong as they looked at first sight. I suppose, too, the most ardent of revolutionists must admit that every revolution should be justified by some act of oppression; and the most eager of Secessionists would be puzzled to find any one act of oppression which the South had endured at the hands of the North before secession, with that one single exception, which Southern partisans always keep in the background, namely that the North objected to the extension of slavery. "I do not like you, Dr. Fell," may be a very good argument for a school-boy; but when a nation can give no better "reason why" for revolution, I confess that my sympathies are with the established Government. It is curious, indeed, to hear Englishmen, who stand aghast at the notion of the Repeal of the Union, and who look on the Indian Mutiny as an act of unparalleled ingratitude, advocating the sacred right of revolution with regard to the South. Still, to my mind, the
301right of every nation, wisely or unwisely, to choose its own Government is so important a principle, that I should admit its application to the case of the South, if it were not for the question of slavery.
"Qui veut la fin veut les moyens," according to the French proverb; and a large party in England are so anxious for the disruption of the Union, that they are disposed to look very tenderly on the peculiar institution whose maintenance is essential to the success of their hopes. Still, happily, we have as yet had no party cynical enough to advocate openly the merits of slavery. Everybody still professes to disapprove of slavery.
"Of course," so the cant of the day runs, "slavery is a very dreadful thing, and everybody — the South above all — would be glad to see it abolished; but slavery has nothing to do with the present war. The North dislikes the negro even more than the South does; and whichever side conquers, the negro has nothing to expect from the war. He is out of court, and any attempt to get up sympathy on his behalf is irrelevant to the present question."
Now, in answer to this sort of talk, I grant that the North has not gone to war for the idea of Emancipation, and is not fighting for it now. Nations very seldom do fight for an idea. There has been one war for an idea in the last half-century, and we have never left off deriding it, and sneering at it, till the present hour. Very few great causes in this world are fought for on abstract
302principles; and if one out of many motives for which the North is fighting is a dislike to slavery, it is as much as you can reasonably expect. In any great question, you must look much more to the principles at stake than to the motives of the actors. The racehorse who runs for the stake does not know or care a straw about your betting-book, but you feel as much interest in his success as if he was running for your sake alone. I would impress on my readers that the issue of slavery is really involved in the present struggle. Soon after the return of the Comte de Paris, he said to an informant of mine: "The thing that surprises me most in England is to be told, that slavery has nothing to do with the American war. Why, from the day I set foot in America to the day I left it, I never heard of anything except the question of slavery." Every English traveller must confirm this opinion. During my whole stay in the United States, I never took up a newspaper — and Heaven only knows how many I did take up daily — without seeing the slave question discussed in some form or other. If the war had done no other good, it would have effected this much, that the case of the slave has been forced upon the conscience of the North, and that the criminal apathy, which acquiesced tamely in the existence of an admitted evil, has received its death-blow. More than this, however, the one casus belli has been, throughout, the question of the extension of slavery. Stories about tariff grievances,
303about aristocratic incompatibility to put up with democratic institutions, about difference of race, and political government, are mere inventions to suit an European public, which their authors must have laughed inwardly to see swallowed so willingly. It would be as well, by the way, if the persons who talk so much of the aristocratic character of Southern institutions would take the trouble to study the constitutions of the Slaveholding States. They would find that, with the single exception of South Carolina, the institutions of the South are founded on the most advanced democratic principles. It was my fortune to see a good deal of Southern men and newspapers in the States, and the one cause of complaint against the North was always and alone the slave question. If slavery were not the cause of secession, it is impossible to explain the limits of the secession movement. Massachusetts is not more different from Georgia in geographical position, commercial interests, and social character, than Tennessee is from Louisiana, or Virginia from Alabama. Every Free State, without one exception, is loyal to the Union. Every Slave State, with the single exception of Delaware where slavery is nominal, has been disloyal openly or covertly. The inference is obvious, and to my mind, undeniable. Now, the Southern leaders have shown too much acuteness to make it probable that they risked everything to avoid an imaginary danger. They seceded from the Union, solely and avowedly,
304because slavery was in danger from the North; and it is more probable that they knew the real state of affairs than their enthusiastic partisans on this side the water, who assert that slavery had nothing to do with secession. I believe myself, from their own point of view, they were right in seceding. They understood the position better than the North did. They knew perfectly that the Republican party had no intention of interfering with slavery as it existed; they knew that the peculiar institution was as safe under Lincoln as it had been under Buchanan; but they knew also, that to the permanent existence of slavery in the Union, two things were essential — the supremacy of the slave power in the Central Government, and the faculty of indefinite expansion. Another election might restore them to the seats of office in Washington; but, if once the extension of slavery were prohibited, as it was by the adoption of the Chicago programme, slavery was doomed. The system of cotton production under slave-labour exhausts the soil so rapidly, that slavery would be starved out without a constant supply of fresh ground to occupy. I hear constantly that the South only wants to establish its independence. If the European Powers could offer to-morrow to guarantee the independence of the Gulf States, the offer would be rejected without hesitation, unless the Confederacy could be secured also the possession of the vast regions that lie west of the Mississippi, whereon to ground new Slave States and Territories.
305The North is fighting against, the South is fighting for, the power of extending slavery across the American continent; and, if this was all that could be said, it is clear on which side must be the sympathies of any one, who really and honestly believes that slavery is an evil and a sin.
But this is not all that can be said. The present war is working directly for the overthrow of Slavery where it exists already. If you look at facts, not at words, you will see that, since the outbreak of the war, the progress of the Anti-slavery movement has been marvellously rapid. Slavery is abolished once for all in the district of Columbia, and no senator can come henceforth to Washington, bringing his slaves with him. With a free territory lying in their midst, Slavery becomes ultimately impossible in Maryland, as well as in Virginia. For the first time in American history, distinct national proposals have been made to emancipate the slaves. The proposals are impracticable and unsatisfactory enough, but still they form a solemn avowal of the fact, that Slavery is to be abolished. The Slave-trade has been finally suppressed, as far as the United States are concerned, and, after half a century of delay, Hayti has been recognised. These measures are no unimportant ones in the world's history; but what renders them more important is, that they are due, not to popular enthusiasm, but to the inexorable logic of facts. Stern experience is teaching the North that
306Slavery is fatal to their own freedom, and it is beneath the growth of this conviction that these blows have been dealt against the system.
At last, this growing conviction has terminated in its inevitable result, the Emancipation edict of President Lincoln. It is useless to speculate on what the effect of this measure may be upon the fortunes of the war. Before these pages appear in print, one single battle may reverse the whole position of affairs. It is possible that this great act, which was the inevitable result of secession, may have been performed too late. But this does not effect the question of abstract justice. I, myself, plead guilty to a faith in the higher law, and hold, that the Federal Government would have done more wisely and more justly if it had abolished slavery throughout the whole of the Union on grounds, not of temporary expediency, but of eternal justice. Still, I cannot condemn Mr. Lincoln, or his advisers, for their almost servile adherence to the letter of the law, as they construed it. In virtue of the war power the Government has, or believes it has, authority to emancipate the slaves in the insurgent States, as it has power to perform any other act, necessary for the preservation of the Union. But, by the constitution, it has no more power to interfere with slavery in any loyal state, than England has to interfere with serfdom in Russia. By the proclamation, the Federal Government has done everything that it could do legally with reference to
307slavery. That it has not done more is a complaint that cannot be brought justly.
It is no answer to statements such as these to vapour about the inhumanity of the North towards the free negro. Anybody, who knows England and Englishmen, must be aware that if we had an immense foreign population among ourselves, belonging to an ignorant, half-savage, and inferior race, too numerous to be objects of sentimental curiosity, too marked in form and feature to be absorbed gradually, our feeling towards them would be very much that of the Northerner towards the negro. The sentiment which dictates the advertisement, so common in our newspapers, of "No Irish need apply," is in principle very much the same as that which in the North objects to the contact of the negro. Moreover, in all the Northern States, after all is said and done, the negro is treated like a man, not like a beast of burden. In half the New England States, the black man has exactly the same legal rights and privileges as the white, and throughout the whole of the older Free States the growth of public opinion is in favour of a more kindly treatment of the negro. Somehow or other, the men of colour in the Free States prefer their treatment, however inconsiderate, to the considerate care of slave-owners. There is nothing easier than for an emancipated or runaway slave, who has experienced the vanity of freedom, to recover the joys of slavery. He has only got to appear as a vagrant in a Slave State, and the
308State will take the trouble of providing him with a master free of expense; yet, strange to say, slaves are not found to avail themselves of the privilege. But, admitting the very worst that could be said of the condition of free negroes in the North, a humane man must, I fear, conclude that, on the whole, it is better for the world the American negroes should die out like the Indians, than that they should go on increasing and multiplying under Slavery, and thus perpetuating an accursed system to generations yet unborn.
Southern friends, whom I knew in the North, used to try hard to persuade me, that the best chance for Abolition lay in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy. I do not doubt they were sincere in their convictions, but, like most Secession advocates, they proved too much. When you are told that the slaves are the happiest people in the world, and that Slavery is the best institution ever devised for the benefit of the poor, you are surprised to learn, in one and the same breath, that the main object and chief desire of the Secessionists is to abolish Slavery. Whatever may be asserted abroad, I have never seen any address or proclamation of the Southern leaders, in which the possibility of emancipation was even hinted at — in which, on the contrary, the indefinite extension of Slavery was not rather held forward as the reward of success. That a social system, based on Slavery, must fall to pieces ultimately, I have little doubt myself; but, "ultimately"
309is a long word. The immediate result of the establishment of the Southern Confederacy is obvious enough. A new lease of existence will be given to Slavery; vast additional territories will be added to the dominions of Slavery, and the cancer of Slavery will spread its roots over the width and length of the New World. Those who wish the South to succeed, wish Slavery to be extended and strengthened. There is no avoiding this conclusion; and, therefore, as I hold that the right of every man to be free is a principle even more important than the right of every nation to choose its own government, I am deaf to the appeal that the South deserves our sympathy because it is fighting to establish its independence. If the North had but dared to take for its battle-cry the grand preamble of the Declaration of Independence: — "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" then it might have appealed to the world for sympathy in a manner it cannot now. That this cannot be, I regret bitterly. The North still ignores the principles contained in its great charter of freedom, but it does not repudiate them like the South. And, in the words of a homely proverb, "Half a loaf is better than no bread."
Facts, however, not words or sentiments, will decide the contest between North and South. The causa
310victa may be better than the causa victrix, but after all the real question is which side will conquer, not which side ought to conquer. It would be absurd to enter in these pages on prognostications, as to the military issue of the war, but there are certain broad features in the struggle which are too much lost sight of over here. Ever since the attack on Fort Sumter, the Northern frontier has advanced, and the Southern receded. The progress of the Federal armies has been slow enough, but all they have gained they have kept. No single town of any importance has been permanently recaptured by the Confederates; no single victory has ever been followed up, and no Southern army has ever succeeded in occupying any portion of free-state soil. Still Southern partisans would reply, with some show of reason, that these considerations, important as they are, do not affect the vital question of the possibility of the North ever subjugating the South. This is true; and, if the South was really fighting only to secure its independence, and to establish a Confederacy of the Gulf States, the answer would be conclusive. But, in reality, as I pointed out before, the struggle between North and South is, which party shall obtain possession of the Border States and the territories west of the lower Mississippi; which party, in fact, shall be the ruling power on the North American Continent? So far the successes of the North are fatal to the hopes of Southern Empire. The South would not value, the
311North would not fear, a confederacy confined within the Gulf States; and yet the result of the campaign has been to render it most improbable that the Confederacy, even if successful, will extend beyond its present narrow limits. So far the North has gained and the South lost.
The war will be decided, not by any single defeat or victory, but by the relative power of the two combatants. Now, as far as wealth, numbers, and resources are concerned, it is not worth the trouble of proving that the North is superior to the South. As far as mere personal courage is concerned, one may fairly assume that both sides are equal. Any one who has, like myself, been through the hospitals of the North, where Federal and Confederate wounded are nursed together, can entertain no doubt that the battles of the war have been fought on both sides only too gallantly. The one doubt is, whether the South may not be superior to the North in resolution, in readiness to make sacrifices, and in unity of action. If it is so, the chances are in favour of the South; but there is no proof as yet that it is the case. Much, and as I think undue, stress has been laid on the slow progress of enlistment in the North. It is very easy to talk glibly about what England would do in case she was at war, but if England did as much relatively as the United States have done, it would be a grand and a terrible effort. There is no evidence that the South has done
312as much, but the contrary. More than a year ago the volunteering energies of the South were exhausted, and though the enemy was actually invading the sacred soil, it was necessary to resort to conscription, in order to raise soldiers for the war. By this time the Confederacy must have as many men under arms as she can raise in any event. Her armies have suffered fearfully in battle, and still more fearfully from disease. Moreover, all the defects, inherent to irregular troops, which tell so much on the North, tell doubly and trebly upon the South. Southern papers, which I saw while in America, were full of complaints of the misconduct of their troops, the want of patriotism of their citizens, and the incompetence of their generals. Of course these stories were exaggerations, or only partial truths, otherwise the South could not have held out so long, but they serve to show that there is disorder, and jobbery, and mal-administration, and discontent, South as well as North. At any rate, before we offer up a Te Deum for the success of the Confederacy, it would be well to wait a little while longer.
"But granting all this," I hear my intelligent objector — my moral ninepin, whom, disputant-like, I put up for the sole purpose of bowling down — conclude by saying, "if the North should win, how is it possible permanently to hold and govern the South?" Now this is a question that I bored all my American acquaintances, ministers and senators amongst the number,
313with asking, and I own that very few of them seemed to be able to answer it satisfactorily. The nation is too much wrapt up in the immediate issue of the war to trouble itself much with speculations on the future. Moreover, the plain fact is, that the vast majority of Americans cannot realize the idea that the Southerners really do not like the Union. To themselves the Union appears so natural, so liberal, and so good a government, that it is impossible anybody who has lived beneath its rule should leave it willingly. Secession in Northern eyes is still an unaccountable and inexplicable act of madness. If the Southern States were, some fine morning, to lay down their arms, say they had been mistaken, and reunite themselves of their own accord to the Union, I believe that half, or more than half, the Americans of the Federal States would declare, with truth, that they had expected it all along. The belief in the existence of a strong Union-party in the South has survived every refutation. The influence of this belief has diverted the popular mind from contemplating seriously the difficulties of reconstitution. Once conquer the South, suppress the armed insurrection, and all, according to the popular Northern faith, will be well. The leaders and promoters of Secession will be exiled, ruined, or reduced to insignificance; the great mass of the army will acknowledge that resistance is hopeless, and will make the best of their position: and then, somehow or other, it
314is incredible that the people of the South should not return to the belief that they are better off under the Union than under any other possible government. There is a good deal to be said for this view. All American politicians I have spoken to have assured me that in the South, even more than in the North, public opinion changes with a degree of rapidity we cannot realize in Europe. There is no doubt, also, that, as a rule, nations do not resist without a chance of success. Between North and South there is no barrier of race, or religion, or language; and, if once the supremacy of either side was indisputably established, I think the weaker of the two would acquiesce in the rule of the stronger, without great reluctance or coercion.
The reason why the great majority of the Northern people are unwilling to interfere unflinchingly with the system of Slavery is, because any interference destroys the possibility of reconstituting "the Constitution as it is, and the Union as it was." But there is a powerful party in the North, who are opposed to this Micawberlike policy. According to their views, Slavery is an inevitable source of hostility between North and South. To them, any peaceable restoration of the status quo ante bellum, unaccompanied by a settlement of the Slavery question, would appear a national calamity. Slavery, they argue, has caused the war. There can be no peace till the cause of war is removed. The South must be reorganized and reconstituted. The slave-owners
315— some three hundred thousand in all — must be virtually removed, whether by ruin, exile, or confiscation, matters little. Their place must be supplied by capitalists from the free North. Slavery once abolished, labour will cease to be dishonourable in the South. Emigration will pour in. A social revolution must be accomplished, and a new system of society constituted in the South, in which Slavery has no part or share. To my mind, this view is really more rational than the popular one.
Very rapidly this view is gaining strength in the North. The people of the North, as a body, have no love for Slavery, care very little about the slave, but have an intense attachment to the Union. The Abolitionists were unpopular at the commencement of the war, because it was believed their policy retarded the restoration of the Union by embittering the South. As it has grown apparent that there is no chance of conciliating the South, the policy of Abolition has become popular, as the one best adapted for preserving the Union.
If the war continues, it must continue as a war for emancipation. This is a fact it is useless ignoring. As long as emancipation does come, it can matter little to any true enemy of Slavery by whom, or through whom, it does come; and, of all countries in the world, England is not the one to retard such a consummation. Whenever the partisans of the South are unable to deny
316the probability of emancipation being brought about by the war, they begin at once to lament the horrors of this wicked contest, to moan about the brutality of the North, and to hold up the bugbear of a servile war.
Now, that all war is an awful thing, and that a war amongst kinsmen, speaking the same language, is the most awful of wars, I admit most fully. But supposing war is justifiable when your cause is good, and supposing the cause of the North, as I have endeavoured to show, is good, it is mere cant to maunder about the inevitable miseries and horrors of this particular war, as if every war had hitherto been exempt from them. As to the brutality of the North, that is a question of fact, not of sentiment; and if anybody can show me another instance in the world's history of a civil war having raged in a country for a year, without one traitor being executed, it will be matter of surprise to me. That individual acts of barbarity have been committed I cannot doubt, because such occur in every war; but there has been no national demand for vengeance, such as was raised in England at the Indian Mutiny. Ex-President Buchanan lives at Wheatlands, unmolested and unnoticed. Avowed Secessionists reside in New York and Boston with as much security as though they were in Paris or London, and the policy of confiscation has been forced upon the Government by Congress without the support, if not against the wishes, of the
317people. Surely these facts are worth setting against General Butler's "bunkum" proclamation. As to the servile war, the horrors of which are constantly held in terrorem over the friends of emancipation, I see no cause to anticipate it. If the slaves are so contented with their position, so attached to their masters as we are told they are, there can be no danger of their butchering their masters' families at the first opportunity which offers. There is, indeed, little prospect of their rising. I should think more highly of the negro race than I do, if I believed there was any probability that, unarmed and unassisted by white men, they would rise against their owners. The slaves on the plantations will not rise till they are supplied with arms, and the Federal Government has steadily refused to supply them with arms. Even if they should be armed, they will fight, if at all, in company with white men. Now, the feeling of race is so strong amongst the whites, so much stronger than any other feeling whatever, that, however grievous the provocation given to the black man might be, no American would look on and see a negro butchering a fellow-white man without interfering on the side of the white. Even in Canada, the volunteers refused, the other day, to be drilled in company with a coloured regiment; and from a kindred feeling, only bitterly intensified, no slave would be permitted to wreak his vengeance on the white man as long as he was fighting under the orders of American soldiers. If ever there should be a
318servile war, it must be carried on by black men alone against the whites, not by blacks aided by whites.
If, then, the North succeeds in subjugating the South, the one clear result is, that Slavery must be abolished. What else will follow it is idle to speculate on now, but this conclusion is sufficient to make me desire that the North should succeed.
It is, so I am told, unpatriotic to desire the success of the North, because the continuance of the war causes such bitter misery in Lancashire, and because the restoration of the Union would lead inevitably to a war between the United States and England. With regard to the first of these objections, I feel its force strongly. Every Englishman must care more about his own countrymen than he does about either Yankees or negroes. I could not, indeed, wish the distress in Lancashire to be removed at the price of a great national sin; and such, in my judgment, would be the interference of England to establish a Slave Power in order to procure cotton. But if the war could be terminated without any action on our part, I own I should regret, what I consider a misfortune to humanity, less acutely if I thought it would bring permanent relief to our manufacturing poor. But I do not think so. If the Confederacy were established now, there would be no chance of cotton being procured elsewhere; the supremacy of Southern slave-grown cotton would be re-inaugurated all the more firmly for the sufferings we have undergone;
319and England would be virtually dependent on the South, entangled in her alliances, involved in her wars, and liable for her embarrassments. Moreover, it is a delusion to suppose that the South would prove a good customer to English manufacturers. The South can never be a maritime power. For years to come she must be afraid of Northern invasion. For the sake therefore, of her own safety, she cannot rely upon England to supply her with manufactures, and must encourage manufactures of her own. The only way to do this in a poor half-civilized country like the South, is by a high prohibitive tariff; and such a tariff will certainly be adopted by the South whenever her independence is established. By the establishment, therefore, of the Southern Confederacy, our manufacturing districts would purchase exemption from present distress at the price of much heavier and more permanent loss in future.
As to the danger of war between England and America, it is idle to deny its existence. There is a state of feeling on both sides the Atlantic which is only too likely to lead to war. Both nations believe that they are entirely in the right, that they have given no cause of offence. Which is most right or the most wrong there is no good in discussing now. It is enough that a feeling of hostility exists. But the danger of war is far greater in the event of the failure of the North than in the event of its success.
320If the North should subjugate the South, a generation must pass away before the South is really re-united to the North; and, until the South is re-united, the Union cannot make war upon any foreign power. The necessity of keeping down insurrection in the South would render impossible aggression in the North. But take the other alternative. The North will be for a time a homogeneous, powerful, and prosperous nation of twenty millions of white freemen. As a nation, it will be burning under a sense of disgrace and defeat. The necessity of cementing together what remains of the Union will render a foreign war politically desirable. No war will be so gratifying to the national pride as a war with England. The neutrality of the Southern Confederacy will be purchased easily by acquiescence in its designs on Cuba and Mexico; and a war with England for the Canadas will be the inevitable result of a divided Union. Those who wish for peace, then, must desire the success of the North.
This, then, is the upshot of the conclusions I formed during my journeyings through the Federal States, that in the interest of humanity, in the interest of America, and in the interest of England, the success of the North is the thing we ought to hope and wish for.
OF my voyage home I have to say but little. The moment I had stepped upon the deck of the good ship Europa, which was to bear me back, my connexion with the New World was severed. In truth, the first walk up and down the quarter-deck of a homeward-bound Cunard steamer, lying alongside an American quay, affords a curious and, to an Englishman, not an unpleasing sensation. A couple of steps across the narrow gangway and you have passed from the New World into the Old. America is still in full view, almost within arm's reach. The great steam ferries are ploughing through the waters round you; the street-railroads are bringing down their heavy loads close to the wharves; the old-fashioned hackney-coaches are lumbering along, loaded with trunks of Transatlantic volume; the air is filled with the shouts of Yankee news-boys; the quays are crowded with sallow American faces, and, perhaps, if you are lucky, amongst the crowd you may see the countenances of kind friends,
322who have made the New World feel like home to you. The day is hot, as only American days are hot, with a dull dead heat; and the sky is blue, as English skies never are blue. And yet, in spite of all this, you are in England; you are lying, it is true, in American waters, you are subject still to the laws of the United States, and three thousand long, dreary, watery miles stretch between you and home; but you are as much in England as if your vessel was a floating island, just detached from the Land's End or the North Foreland. The stewards treat you with that admixture of obsequious politeness and chilling indifference peculiar to English waiters. The officers of the ship, down to the boatswain, regard the natives with a supreme and undisguised conviction of superiority, not given to any one not born within the four seas to attain to. And the captain — well, any country might be proud of him — but by no human possibility could he have been produced anywhere except in England! So by the time you have got out to sea, you begin, almost before the low coast of the eastern sea-board is out of sight, to doubt whether you have ever been away from home, and whether the receding vision of the New World is not a dream. Especially when the vessel begins to roll, an impression grows upon you, that America itself is a sort of "Fata morgana," and that it is an open question whether Columbus really did discover anything beyond that waste of waters.
That impression has often come over me again in writing these pages. I experience a good deal of that kind of feeling which most of us, I dare say, have felt when we jump off a bathing-machine, and happen to turn the wrong way, so that when the salt water has got out of our eyes, we cannot see the machine we imagined to be close to us. It has struck me frequently since my return, that what I recollect, or fancy I recollect, seeing, must be a delusion of the mind. I saw a country rich, prosperous, and powerful, and am told that I have returned from a ruined, bankrupt, and wretched land. I saw a people eager for war, full of resolution, and confident of success, and learn that this selfsame people has no heart in the straggle, and longs for foreign interference to secure a humiliating peace at any price. I saw great principles at stake, great questions at issue, and learn that in this contest there is no principle involved. These are matters of opinion, in which I may be mistaken; but so much I do know for a fact, that I saw vast armies, composed of as fine troops as the Old World could show — not Irish, nor Germans, but native born Americans; — that I came across the track of great battles, and learnt, by only too palpable an evidence, how bloody and how hard-fought had been the contest; that I knew myself of hundreds and thousands of men of wealth, and station, and education, who had left home, and family, and business, to risk their lives for the cause which, right or wrong, they believed to be
324that of their country. And yet I am still informed that I must be mistaken, because it is notorious that the Americans do not fight at all, that their soldiers are hired mercenaries, and that such qualities as courage and love of country do not exist north of Mason and Dixie's line. I am constrained, therefore, to think, that, as my objectors are wrong in matters of fact, they may be wrong also in matters of opinion. If the impression left upon my mind as to the outlook of the war should differ from the one popularly received in England, I trust I may be excused, on the ground that things look very differently near at hand from what they do at a distance; which view is more likely to be the correct one, I do not presume to say. I never heard so much dogmatic discussion on the comparative beauties of different kinds of scenery as I once did at the baths of Grafrath, where all the company were purblind.
Of this I am convinced, that the one thing required to keep America and England on friendly terms is, that each country should know the other better. It is rare to find an Englishman, who has lived long in America, or an American who has passed much time in England, who has not a feeling of affection for the country which was for a space his home. I lived long enough in the States to understand this feeling. I was prepared, when I went there, to find a great country and a powerful people; but I was not prepared to find a people so kindly and easy-natured, or a country so like our own.
325I should, indeed, be ungrateful, if my recollections of the North were anything but pleasant ones, or my wishes for her welfare not very heartfelt. I know that on the pleasant banks of Staten Island, in the dusty streets of Washington, in the wooded suburbs of Boston, in quiet New England villages, on the banks of the Mississippi, and on the shores of the Western lakes, there are households where these pages will be read, and where the readers, I trust, look upon the writer as a friend. To the inmates of those dwellings, and to all the multitude of persons from whom I received kindnesses in the States, I would take this opportunity of expressing my kindly recollections. Owing in great measure to the assistance I thus received, I was enabled to see the North under more favourable circumstances than falls to the lot of ordinary travellers. It was thus my fortune to behold a great country in a great crisis of its history. The longer I lived there, the more clearly I learnt to see that the cause of the North was the cause of right, and order, and law. Very fast, too, rather by the workings of God's laws than by man's wisdom, it is becoming the cause of freedom and of human rights. There is much, I grant, to offend one in the language of the North — not a little to dishearten one in what has not been done, something to condemn also in what has been done. Still, in this world, you must take the greater good with the lesser evil; and those who believe in freedom and in human progress, must, I think, wish the North God-speed.
This conviction of mine is independent of the fortunes or misfortunes of war. Success is not the ultimate test of the righteousness of a cause. And thus, since my return, the course of events has strengthened, not impaired, the force of my conviction. I had hoped, indeed, that before these pages were published, I should have had to record some glad augury of success for that free North I have learnt to know and esteem so well. Unfortunately, the fates hitherto have been adverse. If, however, I have been successful in writing anything that may tend, in however small a measure, to allay the unnatural feeling of alienation that exists between two kindred people, who were meant to be the support and protection of each other, I shall be content. With that wish — farewell!