One may find a counterpart to this habit in the Wa'al of the Yankee, except that the latter never is, nor could it well be, so depressing to hear as the Ja of Appenzell.
In the evening a dozen persons gathered around one of the long tables, and drank a pale, weak cider, made of apples and pears, and called "Most." I gave to one, with whom I found I could converse most easily, a glass of red wine, whereupon he said, "It is very impudent in me to take it."
Upon asking the same person how it was that I could understand him so much more readily than the others, he answered, "O, I can talk the written language when I try, but these others can't."
"Here," said I, pointing to the philosopher, "is one who is quite incomprehensible."
"So he is to me."
They were all anxious to know whether our American troubles were nearly over; whether the President had the power to do further harm (he had too much power, they all thought); and whether our Congress could carry out its plan of reconstruction. Lincoln, they said, was the best man we ever had; when the play of "Lincoln's Death" was performed in the theatre at St. Gall, a great many Appenzellers hired omnibuses and went down from the mountains to see it.
I was aroused at daybreak by the chiming of bells, and soon afterwards muskets began to crack, near and far. Then there were noises all over the house, and presently what seemed to be a procession of horses or elephants began to thunder up and down the wooden stairs. In vain I tried to snatch the last and best morning nap; there was no end to the racket. So I arose, dressed, and went forth to observe. The inn was already transformed, from top to bottom, into a vast booth for meat and drink. Bedding and all other furniture had disappeared; every room, and even the open hall on each story, was filled with tables, benches, and chairs. My friend of the previous evening, who was going about with a white apron on and sleeves rolled up, said to me: "I am to be one of the waiters to-day. We have already made places for six hundred."
There were at least a dozen other amateur waiters on hand and busy. The landlord wore a leathern apron, and went from room to room, blowing into the hole of a wooden top which he carried in his hand, as if thereby to collect his ideas. A barrel of red and a barrel of white wine stood on trestles in the guests' room, and they were already filling the schoppins by hundreds and ranging them on shelves,—honestly filling, not as lager-bier is filled in New York, one third foam, but waiting until the froth subsided, and then pouring to the very brim. In the kitchen there were three fires blazing, stacks of Bratwurst on the tables, great kettles for the sour-krout and potatoes, and eggs, lettuce, and other finer viands, for the dignitaries, on the shelves. "Good morning," said the landlady, as I looked into this sanctuary, "you see we are ready for them."
While I was taking my coffee, the landlord called the waiters together, gave each a bag of small money for change, and then delivered a short, practical address concerning their duties for the day,—who were to be trusted and who not, how to keep order and prevent impatience, and, above all, how to preserve a proper circulation, in order that the greatest possible number of persons might be entertained. He closed with: "Once again, take notice and don't forget, every one of you,—Most 10 rappen (2 cents), bread 10, Wurst 15, tongue 10, wine 25 and 40," etc.
In the village there were signs of preparation, but not a dozen strangers had arrived. Wooden booths had been built against some of the houses, and the owners thereof were arranging their stores of gingerbread and coarse confectionery; on the open, grassy square, in front of the parsonage, stood a large platform, with a handsome railing around it, but the green slope of the hill in front was as deserted as an Alpine pasture. Looking westward over the valley, however, I could already see dark figures moving along the distant paths. The morning was overcast, but the Hundwyl Alp, streaked with snow, stood clear, and there was a prospect of good weather for the important day. As I loitered about the village, talking with the people, who, busy as they were, always found time for a friendly word, the movement in the landscape increased. Out of fir-woods, and over the ridges and out of the foldings of the hills, came the Appenzellers, growing into groups, and then into lines, until steady processions began to enter Hundwyl by every road. Every man was dressed in black, with a rusty stove-pipe hat on his head, and a sword and umbrella in his hand or under his arm.
From time to time the church bells chimed; a brass band played the old melodies of the Canton; on each side of the governing Landamman's place on the platform stood a huge two-handed sword, centuries old, and the temper of the gathering crowd became earnest and solemn. Six old men, armed with pikes, walked about with an air of importance: their duty was to preserve order, but they had nothing to do. Policeman other than these, or soldier, was not to be seen; each man was a part of the government, and felt his responsibility. Carriages, light carts, and hay wagons, the latter filled with patriotic singers, now began to arrive, and I took my way to the Crown, in order to witness the arrival of the members of the Council.
In order to make the proceedings of the day more intelligible, I must first briefly sketch certain features of this little democracy, which it possesses in common with three other mountain Cantons,—the primitive forms which the republican principle assumed in Switzerland. In the first place the government is only representative so far as is required for its permanent, practical operation. The highest power in the land is the Landsgemeinde, or General Assembly of the People, by whom the members of the Executive Council are elected, and who alone can change, adopt, or abolish any law. All citizens above the age of eighteen, and all other Swiss citizens after a year's residence in the Canton, are not only allowed, but required, to attend the Landsgemeinde. There is a penalty for non-attendance. Outer-Rhoden contains forty-eight thousand inhabitants, of whom eleven thousand are under obligations to be present and vote, from beginning to end of the deliberations.
In Glarus and Unterwalden, where the population is smaller, the right of discussion is still retained by these assemblies, but in Appenzell it has been found expedient to abolish it. Any change in the law, however, is first discussed in public meetings in the several communities, then put into form by the Council, published, read from all the pulpits for a month previous to the coming together of the Landsgemeinde, and then voted upon. But if the Council refuses to act upon the suggestion of any citizen whomsoever, and he honestly considers the matter one of importance, he is allowed to propose it directly to the people, provided he do so briefly and in an orderly manner. The Council, which may be called the executive power, consists of the governing Landamman and six associates, one of whom has the functions of treasurer, another of military commander,—in fact, a ministry on a small scale. The service of the persons elected to the Council is obligatory, and they receive no salaries. There is, it is true, a secondary Council, composed of the first, and representatives of the communities, one for every thousand inhabitants, in order to administer more intelligently the various departments of education, religion, justice, roads, the militia system, the poor, etc.; but the Assembly of the People can at any time reject or reverse its action. All citizens are not only equal before the law, but are assured liberty of conscience, of speech, and of labor. The right of support only belongs to those who are born citizens of the Canton. The old restriction of the Heimathsrecht,—the claim to be supported at the expense of the community in case of need,—narrow and illiberal as it seems to us, prevails all over Switzerland. In Appenzell a stranger can only acquire the right, which is really the right of citizenship, by paying twelve hundred francs into the cantonal treasury.
The governing Landamman is elected for two years, but the other members of the Council may be re-elected from year to year, as often as the people see fit. The obligation to serve, therefore, may sometimes seriously incommode the person chosen; he cannot resign, and his only chance of escape lies in leaving the Canton temporarily, and publishing his intention of quitting it altogether in case the people refuse to release him from office! This year, it happened that two members of the Council had already taken this step, while three others had appealed to the people not to re-elect them. The Landsgemeinde at Hundwyl was to decide upon all these applications, and therefore promised to be of more than usual interest. The people had had time to consider the matter, and, it was supposed, had generally made up their minds; yet I found no one willing to give me a hint of their action in advance.
The two remaining members presently made their appearance, accompanied by the Chancellor, to whom I was recommended. The latter kindly offered to accompany me to the parsonage, the windows of which, directly in the rear of the platform, would enable me to hear, as well as see, the proceedings. The clergyman, who was preparing for the service which precedes the opening of the Landsgemeinde, showed me the nail upon which hung the key of the study, and gave me liberty to take possession at any time. The clock now struck nine, and a solemn peal of bells announced the time of service. A little procession formed in front of the inn; first the music, then the clergyman and the few members of the government, bareheaded, and followed by the two Weibels (apparitors), who wore long mantles, the right half white and the left half black. The old pikemen walked on either side. The people uncovered as they took their way around the church to the chancel door; then as many as could be accommodated entered at the front.
I entered with them, taking my place on the men's side,—the sexes being divided, as is usual in Germany. After the hymn, in which boys' voices were charmingly heard, and the prayer, the clergyman took a text from Corinthians, and proceeded to preach a good, sound political sermon, which, nevertheless, did not in the least shock the honest piety of his hearers. I noticed with surprise that most of the men put on their hats at the close of the prayer. Only once did they remove them afterwards,—when the clergyman, after describing the duties before them, and the evils and difficulties which beset every good work, suddenly said, "Let us pray to God to help and direct us!" and interpolated a short prayer in the midst of his sermon. The effect was all the more impressive, because, though so unexpected, it was entirely simple and natural. These democrats of Appenzell have not yet made the American discovery that pulpits are profaned by any utterance of national sentiment, or any application of Christian doctrine to politics. They even hold their municipal elections in the churches, and consider that the act of voting is thereby solemnized, not that the holy building is desecrated! But then, you will say, this is the democracy of the Middle Ages.
When the service was over, I could scarcely make my way through the throng which had meanwhile collected. The sun had come out hot above the Hundwyl Alp, and turned the sides of the valley into slopes of dazzling sheen. Already every table in the inns was filled, every window crowded with heads, the square a dark mass of voters of all ages and classes, lawyers and clergymen being packed together with grooms and brown Alpine herdsmen; and, after the government had been solemnly escorted to its private chamber, four musicians in antique costume announced, with drum and fife, the speedy opening of the Assembly. But first came the singing societies of Herisau, and forced their way into the centre of the throng, where they sang, simply yet grandly, the songs of Appenzell. The people listened with silent satisfaction; not a man seemed to think of applauding.
I took my place in the pastor's study, and inspected the crowd. On the steep slope of the village square and the rising field beyond, more than ten thousand men were gathered, packed as closely as they could stand. The law requires them to appear armed and "respectably dressed." The short swords, very much like our marine cutlasses, which they carried, were intended for show rather than service. Very few wore them: sometimes they were tied up with umbrellas, but generally carried loose in the hand or under the arm. The rich manufacturers of Trogen and Herisau and Teufen had belts and silver-mounted dress-swords. With scarce an exception, every man was habited in black, and wore a stove-pipe hat, but the latter was in most cases brown and battered. Both circumstances were thus explained to me: as the people vote with the uplifted hand, the hat must be of a dark color, as a background, to bring out the hands more distinctly; then, since rain would spoil a good hat (and it rains much at this season), they generally take an old one. I could now understand the advertisements of "secondhand cylinder hats for sale," which I had noticed, the day before, in the newspapers of the Canton. The slope of the hill was such that the hats of the lower ranks concealed the faces of those immediately behind, and the assembly was the darkest and densest I ever beheld. Here and there the top of a scarlet waistcoat flashed out of the cloud with astonishing brilliancy.
With solemn music, and attended by the apparitors, in their two-colored mantles, and the ancient pikemen, the few officials ascended the platform. The chief of the two Landammaenner present took his station in front, between the two-handed swords, and began to address the assembly. Suddenly a dark cloud seemed to roll away from the faces of the people; commencing in front of the platform, and spreading rapidly to the edges of the compact throng, the hats disappeared, and the ten thousand faces, in the full light of the sun, blended into a ruddy mass. But no; each head retained its separate character, and the most surprising circumstance of the scene was the distinctness with which each human being held fast to his individuality in the multitude. Nature has drawn no object with so firm a hand, nor painted it with such tenacious clearness of color, as the face of man. The inverted crescent of sharp light had a different curve on each individual brow before me; the little illuminated dot on the end of the nose under it hinted at the form of the nostrils in shadow. As the hats had before concealed the faces, so now each face was relieved against the breast of the man beyond, and in front of me were thousands of heads to be seen, touching each other like so many ovals drawn on a dark plane.
The address was neither so brief nor so practical as it might have been. Earnest, well meant, and apparently well received, there was nevertheless much in it which the plain, semi-educated weavers and Alpadores in the assembly could not possibly have comprehended; as, for instance, "May a garland of confidence be twined around your deliberations!" At the close, the speaker said, "Let us pray!" and for a few moments there were bowed heads and utter silence. The first business was the financial report for the year, which had been printed and distributed among the people weeks before. They were now asked whether they would appoint a commission to test its accuracy, but they unanimously declined to do so. The question was put by one of the apparitors, who first removed his cocked hat, and cried, in a tremendous voice, "Faithful and beloved fellow-citizens, and brethren of the Union!"
Now came the question of releasing the tired Landammaenner of the previous year from office. The first application in order was that of the governing Landamman, Dr. Zuercher. The people voted directly thereupon; there was a strong division of sentiment, but the majority allowed him to resign. His place was therefore to be filled at once. The names of candidates were called out by the crowd. There were six in all; and as both the members of the Council were among them, the latter summoned six well-known citizens upon the platform, to decide the election. The first vote reduced the number of candidates to two, and the voting was then repeated until one of these received an undoubted majority. Dr. Roth, of Teufen, was the fortunate man. As soon as the decision was announced, several swords were held up in the crowd to indicate where the new governor was to be found. The musicians and pikemen made a lane to him through the multitude, and he was conducted to the platform with the sound of fife and drum. He at once took his place between the swords, and made a brief address, which the people heard with uncovered heads. He did not yet, however, assume the black silk mantle which belongs to his office. He was a man of good presence, prompt, and self-possessed in manner, and conducted the business of the day very successfully.
The election of the remaining members occupied much more time. All the five applicants were released from service, and with scarcely a dissenting hand: wherein, I thought, the people showed very good sense. The case of one of these officials, Herr Euler, was rather hard. He was the Landessaeckelmeister (Treasurer), and the law makes him personally responsible for every farthing which passes through his hands. Having, with the consent of the Council, invested thirty thousand francs in a banking-house at Rheineck, the failure of the house obliged him to pay this sum out of his own pocket. He did so, and then made preparations to leave the Canton in case his resignation was not accepted.
For most of the places from ten to fourteen candidates were named, and when these were reduced to two, nearly equally balanced in popular favor, the voting became very spirited. The apparitor, who was chosen on account of his strength of voice (the candidates for that office must be tested in this respect), had hard work that day. The same formula must be repeated before every vote, in this wise: "Herr Landamman, gentlemen, faithful and beloved fellow-citizens and brethren of the Union, if it seems good to you to choose so-and-so as your treasurer for the coming year, so lift up your hands!" Then, all over the dark mass, thousands of hands flew into the sunshine, rested a moment, and gradually sank with a fluttering motion, which made me think of leaves flying from a hillside forest in the autumn winds. As each election was decided, and the choice was announced, swords were lifted to show the location of the new official in the crowd, and he was then brought upon the platform with fife and drum. Nearly two hours elapsed before the gaps were filled, and the government was again complete.
Then followed the election of judges for the judicial districts, which, in most cases, were almost unanimous re-elections. These are repeated from year to year, so long as the people are satisfied. Nearly all the citizens of Outer-Rhoden were before me; I could distinctly see three fourths of their faces, and I detected no expression except that of a grave, conscientious interest in the proceedings. Their patience was remarkable. Closely packed, man against man, in the hot, still sunshine, they stood quietly for nearly three hours, and voted upwards of two hundred and seven times before the business of the day was completed. A few old men on the edges of the crowd slipped away for a quarter of an hour, in order, as one of them told me, "to keep their stomachs from giving way entirely," and some of the younger fellows took a schoppin of Most for the same purpose; but they generally returned and resumed their places as soon as refreshed.
The close of the Landsgemeinde was one of the most impressive spectacles I ever witnessed. When the elections were over, and no further duty remained, the Parson Etter of Hundwyl ascended the platform. The governing Landamman assumed his black mantle of office, and, after a brief prayer, took the oath of inauguration from the clergyman. He swore to further the prosperity and honor of the land, to ward off misfortune from it, to uphold the Constitution and laws, to protect the widows and orphans, and to secure the equal rights of all, nor through favor, hostility, gifts, or promises to be turned aside from doing the same. The clergyman repeated the oath sentence by sentence, both holding up the oath-fingers of the right hand, the people looking on silent and uncovered.
The governing Landamman now turned to the assembly, and read them their oath, that they likewise should further the honor and prosperity of the land, preserve its freedom and its equal rights, obey the laws, protect the Council and the judges, take no gift or favor from any prince or potentate, and that each one should accept and perform, to the best of his ability, any service to which he might be chosen. After this had been read, the Landamman lifted his right hand, with the oath-fingers extended; his colleagues on the platform, and every man of the ten or eleven thousand present, did the same. The silence was so profound that the chirp of a bird on the hillside took entire possession of the air. Then the Landamman slowly and solemnly spoke these words: "I have well understood that—which has been read to me;—I will always and exactly observe it,—faithfully and without reservation,—so truly as I wish and pray—that God help me!" At each pause, the same words were repeated by every man, in a low, subdued tone. The hush was else so complete, the words were spoken with such measured firmness, that I caught each as it came, not as from the lips of men, but from a vast, supernatural murmur in the air. The effect was indescribable. Far off on the horizon was the white vision of an Alp, but all the hidden majesty of those supreme mountains was nothing to the scene before me. When the last words had been spoken, the hands sank slowly, and the crowd stood a moment locked together, with grave faces and gleaming eyes, until the spirit that had descended upon them passed. Then they dissolved; the Landsgemeinde was over.
In my inn, I should think more than the expected six hundred had found place. From garret to cellar, every corner was occupied; bread, wine, and steamy dishes passed in a steady whirl from kitchen and tap-room into all the roaring chambers. In the other inns it was the same, and many took their drink and provender in the open air. I met my philosopher of the previous evening, who said, "Now, what do you think of our Landsgemeinde?" and followed my answer with his three Ja's, the last a more desponding sigh than ever. Since the business was over, I judged that the people would be less reserved,—which, indeed, was the case. Nearly all with whom I spoke expressed their satisfaction with the day's work. I walked through the crowds in all directions, vainly seeking for personal beauty. There were few women present, but a handsome man is only less beautiful than a beautiful woman, and I like to look at the former when the latter is absent. I was surprised at the great proportion of under-sized men; only weaving, in close rooms, for several generations, could have produced so many squat bodies and short legs. The Appenzellers are neither a handsome nor a picturesque race, and their language harmonizes with their features; but I learned, during that day at Hundwyl, to like and to respect them.
Pastor Etter insisted on my dining with him; two younger clergymen were also guests, and my friend the Chancellor Engwiller came to make further kind offers of service. The people of each parish, I learned, elect their own pastor, and pay him his salary. In municipal matters the same democratic system prevails as in the cantonal government. Education is well provided for, and the morals of the community are watched and guarded by a committee consisting of the pastor and two officials elected by the people. Outer-Rhoden is almost exclusively Protestant, while Inner-Rhoden—the mountain region around the Sentis—is Catholic. Although thus geographically and politically connected, there was formerly little intercourse between the inhabitants of the two parts of the Canton, owing to their religious differences; but now they come together in a friendly way, and are beginning to intermarry.
After dinner, the officials departed in carriages, to the sound of trumpets, and thousands of the people followed. Again the roads and paths leading away over the green hills were dark with lines of pedestrians; but a number of those whose homes lay nearest to Hundwyl lingered to drink and gossip out the day. A group of herdsmen, over whose brown faces the high stove-pipe hat looked doubly absurd, gathered in a ring, and while one of them yodelled the Ranz des Vaches of Appenzell, the others made an accompaniment with their voices, imitating the sound of cow-bells. They were lusty, jolly fellows, and their songs hardly came to an end. I saw one man who might be considered as positively drunk, but no other who was more than affectionately and socially excited. Towards sunset they all dropped off, and when the twilight settled down heavy, and threatening rain, there was no stranger but myself in the little village. "I have done tolerably well," said the landlord, "but I can't count my gains until day after to-morrow, when the scores run up to-day must be paid off." Considering that in my own bill lodging was set down at six, and breakfast at twelve cents, even the fifteen hundred guests whom he entertained during the day could not have given him a very splendid profit.
Taking a weaver of the place as guide, I set off early the next morning for the village of Appenzell, the capital of Inner-Rhoden. The way led me back into the valley of the Sitter, thence up towards the Sentis Alp, winding around and over a multitude of hills. The same smooth, even, velvety carpet of grass was spread upon the landscape, covering every undulation of the surface, except where the rocks had frayed themselves through. There is no greener land upon the earth. The grass, from centuries of cultivation, has become so rich and nutritious, that the inhabitants can no longer spare even a little patch of ground for a vegetable garden, for the reason that the same space produces more profit in hay. The green comes up to their very doors, and they grudge even the foot-paths which connect them with their neighbors. Their vegetables are brought up from the lower valleys of Thurgau. The first mowing had commenced at the time of my visit, and the farmers were employing irrigation and manure to bring on the second crop. By this means they are enabled to mow the same fields every five or six weeks. The process gives the whole region a smoothness, a mellow splendor of color, such as I never saw elsewhere, not even in England.
A walk of two hours through such scenery brought me out of the Sitter Tobel, and in sight of the little Alpine basin in which lies Appenzell. It was raining slowly and dismally, and the broken, snow-crowned peaks of the Kamor and the Hohe Kasten stood like livid spectres of mountains against the stormy sky. I made haste to reach the compact, picturesque little town, and shelter myself in an inn, where a landlady with rippled golden hair and features like one of Dante Rossetti's women, offered me trout for dinner. Out of the back window I looked for the shattered summits of the Sentis, which rise five thousand feet above the valley, but they were invisible. The vertical walls of the Ebenalp, in which are the grotto and chapel of Wildkirchli, towered over the nearer hills, and I saw with regret that they were still above the snow line. It was impossible to penetrate much farther without better weather; but I decided, while enjoying my trout, to make another trial,—to take the road to Urnaesch, and thence pass westward into the renowned valley of the Toggenburg.
The people of Inner-Rhoden are the most picturesque of the Appenzellers. The men wear a round skull-cap of leather, sometimes brilliantly embroidered, a jacket of coarse drilling, drawn on over the head, and occasionally knee-breeches. Early in May the herdsmen leave their winter homes in the valleys and go with their cattle to the Matten, or lofty mountain pastures. The most intelligent cows, selected as leaders for the herd, march in advance, with enormous bells, sometimes a foot in diameter, suspended to their necks by bands of embroidered leather; then follow the others, and the bull, who, singularly enough, carries the milking-pail, garlanded with flowers, between his horns, brings up the rear. The Alpadores are in their finest Sunday costume, and the sound of yodel-songs—the very voice of Alpine landscapes—echoes from every hill. Such a picture as this, under the cloudless blue of a fortunate May day, makes the heart of the Appenzeller light. He goes joyously up to his summer labor, and makes his herb-cheese on the heights, while his wife weaves and embroiders muslin in the valley until his return.
In the afternoon I set out for Urnaesch, with a bright boy as guide. Hot gleams of sunshine now and then struck like fire across the green mountains, and the Sentis partly unveiled his stubborn forehead of rock. Behind him, however, lowered inky thunder-clouds, and long before the afternoon's journey was made it was raining below and snowing aloft. The scenery grew more broken and abrupt the farther I penetrated into the country, but it was everywhere as thickly peopled and as wonderfully cultivated. At Gonten, there is a large building for the whey-cure of overfed people of the world. A great many such, I was told, come to Appenzell for the summer. Many of the persons we met not only said, "God greet you!" but immediately added, "Adieu!"—like the Salve et vale! of classical times.
Beyond Gonten the road dropped into a wild ravine, the continual windings of which rendered it very attractive. I found enough to admire in every farm-house by the wayside, with its warm wood-color, its quaint projecting balconies, and coat of shingle mail. When the ravine opened, and the deep valley of Urnaesch, before me, appeared between cloven heights of snow, disclosing six or eight square miles of perfect emerald, over which the village is scattered, I was fully repaid for having pressed farther into the heart of the land. There were still two hours until night, and I might have gone on to the Rossfall,—a cascade three or four miles higher up the valley,—but the clouds were threatening, and the distant mountain-sides already dim under the rain.
At the village inn I found several herdsmen and mechanics, each with a bottle of Rheinthaler wine before him. They were ready and willing to give me all the information I needed. In order to reach the Toggenburg, they said, I must go over the Kraetzernwald. It was sometimes a dangerous journey; the snow was many cubits deep, and at this time of the year it was frequently so soft that a man would sink to his hips. To-day, however, there had been thunder, and after thunder the snow is always hard-packed, so that you can walk on it; but to cross the Kraetzernwald without a guide,—never! For two hours you were in a wild forest, not a house, nor even a 'Sennhuett' (herdsman's cabin) to be seen, and no proper path, but a clambering hither and thither, in snow and mud; with this weather,—yes, one could get into Toggenburg that way, they said, but not alone, and only because there had been thunder on the mountains.
But all night the rain beat against my chamber window, and in the morning the lower slopes of the mountains were gray with new snow, which no thunder had packed. Indigo-colored clouds lay heavily on all the Alpine peaks; the air was raw and chilly, and the roads slippery. In such weather the scenery is not only shrouded, but the people are shut up in their homes,—wherefore further travel would not have been repaid. I had already seen the greater part of the little land, and so gave up my thwarted plans the more cheerfully. When the post-omnibus for Herisau came to the inn door, I took my seat therein, saying, like Schiller's Sennbub', "Ihr Matten, lebtwohl, Ihr sonnigen Weiden!"
The country became softer and lovelier as the road gradually fell towards Herisau, which is the richest and stateliest town of the Canton. I saw little of it except the hospitable home of my friend the Chancellor, for we had brought the Alpine weather with us. The architecture of the place, nevertheless, is charming, the town being composed of country-houses, balconied and shingled, and set down together in the most irregular way, every street shooting off at a different angle. A mile beyond, I reached the edge of the mountain region, and again looked down upon the prosperous valley of St. Gall. Below me was the railway, and as I sped towards Zurich that afternoon, the top of the Sentis, piercing through a mass of dark rain-clouds, was my last glimpse of the Little Land of Appenzell.
THE LOST GENIUS.
A giant came to me, when I was young, My instant will to ask,— My earthly Servant, from the earth he sprung Eager for any task!
"What wilt thou, O my Master?" he began; "Whatever can be," I. "Say but thy wish,—whate'er thou wilt I can," The strong Slave made reply.
"Enter the earth and bring its riches forth, For pearls explore the sea.' He brought from East and West, and South and North, All treasures back to me!
"Build me a palace wherein I may dwell." "Awake, and see it done," Spake his great voice at dawn. O miracle, That glittered in the sun!
"Find me the princess fit for my embrace, The vision of my breast,— For her search every clime and every race." My yearning arms were blessed!
"Get me all knowledge." Sages with their lore, And poets with their songs, Crowded my palace halls at every door, In mute obedient throngs!
"Now bring me wisdom." Long ago he went; (The cold task harder seems;) He did not hasten with the last content,— The rest, meanwhile, were dreams!
Houseless and poor, on many a trackless road, Without a guide, I found A white-haired phantom with the world his load Bending him to the ground!
"I bring thee wisdom, Master." Is it he, I marvelled then, in sooth? "Thy palace-builder, beauty-seeker see!" I saw the Ghost of Youth!
The French possessors of the Western country used to call the Ohio the Beautiful River; and they might well think it beautiful who came into it from the flat-shored, mountainous Mississippi, and found themselves winding about among lofty, steep, and picturesque hills, covered with foliage, and fringed at the bottom with a strip of brilliant grass. But travellers from the Atlantic States, accustomed as they are to the clear, sparkling waters and to the brimming fulness of such rivers as the James, the Delaware, and the Hudson, do not at once perceive the fitness of the old French name, La Belle Riviere. The water of the Ohio is yellow, and there is usually a wide slope of yellow earth on each side of the stream, from which the water has receded, and over which it will flow again at the next "rise." It is always rising or falling. As at the South the item of most interest in the newspapers is the price of cotton, and in New York the price of gold, so in the West the special duty of the news-gatherer is to keep the public advised of the depth of the rivers. The Ohio, during the rainy seasons, is forty feet deeper than it is during the dry. Between the notch which marks the lowest point to which the river has ever fallen at Cincinnati and that which records the point of its highest rise, the distance is sixty-four feet. If our Eastern rivers were capable of such vacillation as this, our large cities would go under once or twice a year.
In truth, those great and famous Western rivers are ditches dug by Nature as part of the drainage system of the continent,—mere means of carrying off the surplus water when it rains. At the East, the water plays a part in the life, in the pleasures, in the imagination and memories of the people. We go down to Coney Island of a hot afternoon; we take a trip to Cape May; we sail in Boston Harbor; we go upon moonlight excursions, attended by a cotillon band; we spend a day at the fishing banks; we go up the Erie Railroad for a week's trout-fishing; we own a share in a small schooner; we have yacht clubs and boat races; we build villas which command a water view. There is little of this in the Western country; for the rivers are not very inviting, and the great lakes are dangerous. They tried yachting at Chicago a few years ago, but on the experimental trip a squall capsized the vessel, and the crew had the ignominy of spending several hours upon the keel, from which a passing craft rescued them. Then, as to excursions, there is upon the lakes the deadly peril of sea-sickness; upon the rivers there is no great relief from the heat; and upon neither are there convenient places to visit. All you can do is, to go a certain distance, turn round, and come back; which is a flat, uncheering, pointless sort of thing. Upon the whole, therefore, the Western waters contribute little to the relief and enjoyment of the people who live near them. We noticed at the large town of Erie, some years ago, that not one house had been placed so as to afford its inmates a view of the lake, though the shores offered most convenient sites; nor did the people ever come down to see the lake, apparently, as there was no path worn upon the grassy bluff overlooking it.
The Ohio River has another inconvenience. The bottom-land, as it is called, between the water's edge and the hills, is generally low and narrow. Nowhere is there room for a large city; nor can the hills be dug away except by paring down a great part of Ohio and Kentucky. When the traveller has climbed to the top of those winding mountains, he has only reached the average summit of the country; for it is not the banks of the river that are high, but the river itself which is low. It is an error to say that the Ohio is a river with lofty banks. Those continuous hills, around which this river winds and curls and bends and loops, are simply the hills of the country through which the river had to find its way. We were astonished, in getting to the top of Cincinnati, after a panting walk up a zigzag road, to discover that we had only mounted to the summit of one billow in an ocean of hills.
There is always a reason why a city is just where it is. Nothing is more controlled by law than the planting, the growth, and the decline of cities. Even the particular site is not a thing of chance, as we can see in the sites of Paris, London, Constantinople, and every other great city of the world. A town exists by supplying to the country about it the commodities which the country cannot procure for itself. In the infancy of the Ohio settlements, when it was still to be determined which of them would take the lead, the commodity most in request and hardest to be obtained was safety; and it was Cincinnati that was soonest able to supply this most universal object of desire. In December, 1788, fifteen or twenty men floated down the Ohio among the masses of moving ice, and, landing upon the site of Cincinnati, built cabins, and marked out a town. Matthias Denman of New Jersey had bought eight hundred acres of land there, at fifteen-pence an acre, and this party of adventurers planted themselves upon it with his assistance and in his interest. Jerseymen and Pennsylvanians were finding their way down the Ohio, and founding settlements here and there, whenever a sufficient number of pioneers could be gathered to defend themselves against the Indians. President Washington sent a few companies of troops for their protection, and the great question was where those troops should be posted. The major in command was at first disposed to establish them at North Bend; but while he was selecting a place there for his fort, he fell in with a pair of brilliant black eyes,—the property of one of the settler's wives. He paid such assiduous court to the lady, that her husband deemed it best to remove his family to another settlement, and pitched upon Cincinnati. The major then began to doubt whether, after all, North Bend was the proper place for a military work, and deemed it best to examine Cincinnati first. He was delighted with Cincinnati. He removed the troops thither, built a fort, and thus rendered the neighborhood the safest spot below Pittsburg. This event was decisive: Cincinnati took the lead of the Ohio towns, and kept it.
In all the history of Cincinnati, this is the only incident we have found that savors of the romantic.
Those black eyes lured Major Doughty to the only site on the Ohio upon which one hundred thousand people could conveniently live without climbing a very steep and high hill. It is also about midway between the source of the river and its mouth; the Ohio being nine hundred and fifty-nine miles long, and Cincinnati five hundred and one miles from the Mississippi. The city is nearly the centre of the great valley of the Ohio; it is, indeed, exactly where it should be, and exactly where the metropolis of the valley might have been even if Major Doughty had not been susceptible to the charms of lovely woman. It is superfluous to say that Cincinnati is situated on a "bend" of the Ohio, since the Ohio is nothing but bends, and anything that is situated upon it must be upon a bend. This river employs itself continually in writing the letter S upon the surface of the earth. At Cincinnati, the hills recede from the shore on each side of the river about a mile and a half, leaving space enough for a large town, but not for the great city of two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants to which it has grown.
Cincinnati is an odd name for a town, whether we regard it as a genitive singular, or as a nominative plural. The story goes, that the first settlers appointed a committee of one to name the place. The gentleman selected for this duty had been a schoolmaster, and he brought to bear upon the task all the learning appertaining to his former vocation. He desired to express in the name of the future city the fact that it was situated opposite the mouth of the Licking River. He was aware that ville was French for "city," that os was Latin for "mouth"; that anti in composition could mean "opposite to"; and that the first letter of Licking was L. By combining these various fragments of knowledge, he produced at length the word LOSANTIVILLE, which his comrades accepted as the name of their little cluster of log huts, and by this name it appears on some of the earliest maps of the Ohio. But the glory of the schoolmaster was short-lived. When the village had attained the respectable age of fifteen months, General St. Clair visited it on a tour of inspection, and laughed the name to scorn. Having laid out a county of which this village was the only inhabited spot, he named the county Hamilton, and insisted upon calling the village Cincinnati, after the society of which both himself and Colonel Hamilton were members. In that summer of 1790 Cincinnati consisted of forty log cabins, two small frame houses, and a fort garrisoned by a company or two of troops.
We sometimes speak of "the Western cities," as though the word "Western" was sufficiently descriptive, and as though the cities west of the Alleghany Mountains were all alike. This is far from being the case. Every city in the Western country, as well as every State, county, and neighborhood, has a character of its own, derived chiefly from the people who settled it. Berlin is not more different from Vienna, Lyons is not more different from Marseilles, Birmingham is not more different from Liverpool, than Cincinnati is from Chicago or St. Louis; and all these differences date back to the origin of those cities. The Ohio, formed by the junction of two Pennsylvania rivers, is the natural western outlet for the redundant population of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and consequently the first twenty thousand inhabitants of Cincinnati were chiefly from those States,—honest, plodding, saving Protestants, with less knowledge and less public spirit than the people of New England. The Swedes, the Danes, the Germans, the Protestant Irish, who poured into Pennsylvania and New Jersey in Franklin's time, attracted by the perfect toleration established by William Penn, were excellent people; but they had not the activity of mind nor the spiritual life of the English Puritans. Shrewd calculators and of indomitable industry, they were more able to accumulate property than disposed to risk it in bold, far-reaching enterprises, and took more pride in possessing than in displaying wealth,—in having a large barn than an attractive residence. They were more certain to build a church than a school-house, and few of them wanted anything of the book-pedler except an almanac. The descendants of such men founded Cincinnati, and made it a thriving, bustling, dull, unintellectual place. Then came in a spice of Yankees to enliven the mass, to introduce some quickening heresies, to promote schools, to found libraries, to establish new manufactures and stimulate public improvements. That wondrous tide of Germans followed that has made in each of the cities of the West a populous German quarter,—a town within a town. Meanwhile, young men from the Southern States, in considerable numbers, settled in Cincinnati, between whom and the daughters of the rich "Hunkers" of the town marriages were frequent, and the families thus created were, from 1830 to 1861, the reigning power in the city.
Perhaps there was no town of its size and wealth in Christendom which had less of the higher intellectual life and less of an enlightened public spirit than Cincinnati before the war. It had become exceedingly rich. Early in its career the great difficulty and expense of transporting goods across the mountains and down the winding Ohio had forced the people into manufacturing, and Cincinnati became the great workshop, as well as the exchange, of the vast and populous valley of the Ohio. Its wealth was legitimately earned. It was Cincinnati which originated and perfected the system which packs fifteen bushels of corn into a pig, and packs that pig into a barrel, and sends him over the mountains and over the ocean to feed mankind. Cincinnati imported or made nearly all that the people of three or four States could afford to buy, and received from them nearly all that they could spare in return, and made a profit on both transactions. This business, upon the whole, was done honestly and well. Immense fortunes were made. Nicholas Longworth died worth twelve millions, and there are now in that young city sixty-four persons whose estate is rated at a million dollars or more. But, with all this wealth and this talent for business, the people of Cincinnati displayed little of that spirit of improvement which has converted Chicago, in thirty years, from a quagmire into a beautiful city, and made it accessible to all the people of the prairies. There was too much ballast, as it were, for so little sail. People were intent on their own affairs, and were satisfied if their own business prospered. Such a thing even as a popular lecture was rare, and a well-sustained course of lectures was felt to be out of the question. Books of the higher kind were in little demand (that is, little, considering the size and great wealth of the place); there was little taste for art; few concerts were given, and there was no drama fit to entertain intellectual persons. Cincinnati was the Old Hunkers' paradise. Separated from a Slave State only by a river one third of a mile wide, with her leading families connected by marriage with those of Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland, and her business men having important relations with the South, there was no city—not even Baltimore—that was more saturated with the spirit of Hunkerism,—that horrid blending of vanity and avarice which made the Northern people equal sharers in the guilt of slavery, while taking the lion's share of the profit. It was at Cincinnati, in 1836, that a mob of most respectable citizens, having first "resolved" in public meeting that "Abolition papers" should neither be "published nor distributed" in the town, broke into the office of James G. Birney's "Philanthropist," and scattered the types, and threw the press into the river. It was at Cincinnati, in 1841, that the authorities were compelled to fill the prisons with negroes to protect them from massacre. Similar scenes have occurred in other cities, but violence of this kind meant more at Cincinnati than in most places, for the people here have always been noted for their orderly habits and their regard for law.
The war regenerated Cincinnati. We do not say began to regenerate it, because the word "regeneration" means but the beginning of a new life. There were few of the leading families which did not furnish to the Rebellion one adherent, and all men, of whatever class, were compelled to choose between their country and its foes. The great mass of the people knew not a moment of hesitation, and a tide of patriotic feeling set in which silenced, expelled, or converted the adherents of the Rebellion. The old business relations with the South, so profitable and so corrupting, were broken up, and Cincinnati found better occupation in supplying the government with gunboats and military stores. The prestige of the old "aristocracy" was lost; its power was broken; it no longer controlled elections, nor monopolized offices, nor lowered the tone of public feeling. Cincinnati was born again,—began a new life. There is now prevalent among the rulers of the city that noblest trait of freemen, that supreme virtue of the citizen,—PUBLIC SPIRIT; the blessed fruits of which are already apparent, and which is about to render the city a true metropolis to the valley of the Ohio, the fostering mother of all that aids and adorns civilization.
Cincinnati, like New York, is a cluster of towns and cities, bearing various names, and situated in different States. Persons ambitious of municipal offices would do well to remove to this place; since, within the limits of what is really Cincinnati, there are seven mayors, seven boards of aldermen, seven distinct and completely organized cities. A citizen of New York might well stand aghast at the announcement of such a fact as this, and only recover his consciousness to try mentally an impossible sum in the double rule of three: If one mayor and corporation, in a city of a million and a half of inhabitants, steal ten millions of dollars per annum, how much will seven mayors and seven corporations "appropriate" in a city of three hundred thousand inhabitants? The reader is excused from "doing" this hard sum, and we hasten to assure him that Cincinnati is governed by and for her own citizens, who take the same care of the public money as of their own private store. We looked into the Council Chamber of Cincinnati one morning, and we can testify that the entire furniture of that apartment, though it is substantial and sufficient, cost about as much as some single articles in the councilmen's room of the New York City Hall,—say the clock, the chandelier, or the chairman's throne. The people of Cincinnati are so primitive in their ideas, that they would regard the man who should steal the public money as a baser thief than he who should merely pick a private pocket. They have actually carried "this sort of thing" so far as to elect and re-elect as Mayor of the city proper that honest, able, generous Republican, CHARLES F. WILSTACH, a member of the great publishing house of Moore, Wilstach, and Baldwin,—a gentleman who, though justly proud of the confidence of his fellow-citizens, and enjoying the honor they have conferred upon him, uses the entire power, influence, and income of his office in promoting the higher welfare of the city. He is the great patron of the Mechanics' Institute, which gave instruction last winter to two hundred and fifty evening pupils in drawing, mathematics, and engineering, at three dollars each for four months, besides affording them access to a library and pleasant rooms. Charles Wilstach, in short, is what Mr. Joseph Hoxie would call "a Peter Cooper sort of man." Imagine New York electing Peter Cooper mayor! It was like going back to the primitive ages,—to that remote period when Benjamin Franklin was printer and public servant, and when Samuel Adams served the State,—to see the Mayor of Cincinnati performing his full share of the labor of conducting a business that employs a hundred and fifty persons, and yet punctual at his office in the City Hall, and strictly attentive to its duties during five of the best hours of the day.
There are seven mayors about Cincinnati for the reasons following. On the southern bank of the Ohio, opposite the city, many large manufactories have found convenient sites, and thus the city of Covington has grown up, divided into two towns by the river Licking. Then there are five clusters of villas in the suburbs of Cincinnati, over the hill, each of which has deemed it best to organize itself into a city, in order to keep itself select and exclusive, and to make its own little laws and regulations. The mayors and aldermen of these minute rural villages are business men of Cincinnati, who drive in to their stores every morning, and home again in the evening. Thus you may meet aldermen at every corner, and buy something in a store from a mayor, and get his autograph at the end of a bill, without being aware of the honor done you. No autographs are more valued in Cincinnati than the signatures of these municipal magnates.
But let us look at the city. The river presents a novel and animated scene. On the Kentucky shore lies Covington, dark and low, a mass of brick factories and tall chimneys, from which the blackest smoke is always ascending, and spreading over the valley, and filling it with smoke. Over Cincinnati, too, a dense cloud of smoke usually hangs, every chimney contributing its quota to the mass. The universal use of the cheap bituminous coal (seventeen cents a bushel,—twenty-five bushels to a ton) is making these Western cities almost as dingy as London. Smoke pervades every house in Cincinnati, begrimes the carpets, blackens the curtains, soils the paint, and worries the ladies. Housekeepers assured us that the all-pervading smoke nearly doubles the labor of keeping a house tolerably clean, and absolutely prevents the spotless cleanliness of a Boston or Philadelphia house. A lady who wears light-colored garments, ribbons, or gloves in Cincinnati must be either very young, very rich, or very extravagant: ladies of good sense or experience never think of wearing them. Clean hearts abound in Cincinnati, but not clean hands. The smoke deposits upon all surfaces a fine soot, especially upon men's woollen clothes, so that a man cannot touch his own coat without blackening his fingers. The stranger, for a day or two, keeps up a continual washing of his hands, but he soon sees the folly of it, and abandons them to their fate. A letter written at Cincinnati on a damp day, when the Stygian pall lies low upon the town, carries with it the odor of bituminous smoke to cheer the homesick son of Ohio at Calcutta or Canton. This universal smoke is a tax upon every inhabitant, which can be estimated in money, and the sum total of which is millions per annum. Is there no remedy? Did not Dr. Franklin invent a smoke-consuming stove? Are there no Yankees in the West?
Before the traveller loitering along the levee has done wondering at the smoke, his eye is caught by the new wire suspension bridge, which springs out from the summit of the broad, steep levee to a lofty tower (two hundred feet high) near the water's edge, and then, at one leap, clears the whole river, and lands upon another tower upon the Covington side. From tower to tower the distance is one thousand and fifty-seven feet; the entire length of the bridge is two thousand two hundred and fifty-two feet; and it is hung one hundred feet above low-water mark by two cables of wire. Seen from below and at a little distance, it looks like gossamer work, and as though the wind could blow it away, and waft its filmy fragments out of sight. But the tread of a drove of elephants would not bend nor jar it. The Rock of Gibraltar does not feel firmer under foot than this spider's web of a bridge, over which trains of cars pass one another, as well as ceaseless tides of vehicles and pedestrians. It is estimated that, besides its own weight of six hundred tons, it will sustain a burden of sixteen thousand tons. In other words, the whole population of Cincinnati might get upon it without danger of being let down into the river. This remarkable work, constructed at a cost of one million and three quarters, was begun nine years ago, and has tasked the patience and the faith of the two cities severely; but now that it is finished, Cincinnati looks forward with confidence to the time when it will be a connecting link between Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico, and when Cincinnati will be only thirty hours from Mobile.
The levee, which now extends five or six miles around the large "bend" upon which the city stands, exhibits all the varieties of Western steamboats. It exhilarated the childish mind of the stranger to discover that the makers of school-books were practising no imposition upon the infant mind when they put down in the geography such names as the "Big Sandy." It was cheering, also, to know that one could actually go to Maysville, and see how General Jackson's veto had affected it. A traveller must indeed be difficult to please who cannot find upon the Cincinnati levee a steamboat bound to a place he would like to visit. From far back in the coal mines of the Youghiogheny (pronounced Yok-a-gau-ny) to high up the Red River,—from St. Paul to New Orleans, and all intermediate ports,—we have but to pay our money and take our choice of the towns upon sixteen thousand miles of navigable water. Among the rest we observed a steamboat about as large as an omnibus, fitted up like a pedler's wagon, and full of the miscellaneous wares which pedlers sell. Such little boats, it appears, steam from village to village along the shores of those interminable rivers, and, by renewing their supplies at the large towns, make their way for thousands of miles, returning home only at the end of the season. They can ascend higher up the streams than the large boats, and scarcely any "stage" of water is too low for them. Often as we had admired the four-horse pedlers' wagons of New England, with their plated harness and gorgeous paint, we resolved that, when we turned pedler, it should be in such a snug little steamboat upon the rivers of the West. Other steamboats, as probably the reader is aware, are fitted up as theatres, museums, circuses, and moral menageries, and go from town to town, announcing their arrival by that terrific combination of steam-whistles which is called in the West a Cally-ope. What an advance upon the old system of strolling players and the barn! "Then came each actor on his ass." On the Ohio he comes in a comfortable stateroom, to which when the performance is over he retires, waking the next morning at the scene of new triumphs.
Along the summit of the steep levee, close to the line of stores, there is a row of massive posts—three feet thick and twenty high—which puzzle the stranger. The swelling of the river brings the steamboats up to the very doors of the houses facing the river, and to these huge posts they are fastened to keep them from being swept away by the rushing flood. From the summit of the levee we advance into the town, always going up hill, unless we turn to the right or left.
Here is Philadelphia again, with its numbered streets parallel to the river, and the cross-streets named after the trees which William Penn found growing upon the banks of the Delaware,—"Walnut," "Locust," "Sycamore." Here are long blocks of wholesale stores in the streets near the river, of Philadelphian plainness and solidity; and as we ascend, we reach the showier retail streets, all in the modern style of subdued Philadelphian elegance. It is a solid, handsome town,—the newer buildings of light-colored stone, very lofty, and well built; the streets paved with the small pebbles ground smooth by the rushing Ohio, and as clean as Boston. In Fourth Street there is a dry-goods store nearly as large, and five times as handsome, as Stewart's in New York, and several other establishments on the greatest scale, equal in every respect to those of the Atlantic cities. The only difference is, that in New York we have more of them. By the time we have passed Fifth Street, which is about half a mile from the river, we have reached the end of the elegant and splendid part of the city; all beyond and around is shabby Philadelphia, begrimed with soot, and "blended in a common element" of smoke. The extensive and swarming German quarter is precisely like the German quarter of Philadelphia, (though the Cincinnati lager-bier is better,) and the wide, square, spacious old mansions are exactly such as the older houses of Philadelphia would be if Philadelphia burned bituminous coal.
Every New-Yorker supposes, of course, that there must be in a large and wealthy city one pre-eminent and illustrious street like his own Fifth Avenue, where he is wont either to survey mankind from a club window, or, as mankind, be surveyed. There is no such street in Cincinnati, and for a reason which becomes apparent during the first long walk. When the stranger has panted up the slope on which the city is built, to a point one mile from the river, he sees looming up before him an almost precipitous hill, four hundred and sixty-two feet high, which has been dug into, and pared down, until it has about as much beauty as an immense heap of gravel. Around the base of this unsightly mountain are slaughter-houses and breweries, incensing it with black smoke, and extensive pens filled with the living material of barrelled pork. The traveller, who has already, as he thinks, done a fair share of climbing for one day, naturally regards this hill as the end of all things in Cincinnati; but upon coming up to it he discovers the zigzag road to which allusion has before been made, and which leads by an easy ascent to the summit.
Behold the Fifth Avenue of Cincinnati! It is not merely the pleasant street of villas and gardens along the brow of the hill, though that is part of it. Mount to the cupola of the Mount Auburn Young Ladies' School, which stands near the highest point, and look out over a sea of beautifully formed, umbrageous hills, steep enough to be picturesque, but not too steep to be convenient, and observe that upon each summit, as far as the eye can reach, is an elegant cottage or mansion, or cluster of tasteful villas, surrounded by groves, gardens, and lawns. This is Cincinnati's Fifth Avenue. Here reside the families enriched by the industry of the low, smoky town. Here, upon these enchanting hills, and in these inviting valleys, will finally gather the greater part of the population, leaving the city to its smoke and heat when the labors of the day are done. As far as we have seen or read, no inland city in the world surpasses Cincinnati in the beauty of its environs. They present as perfect a combination of the picturesque and the accessible as can anywhere be found; and there are still the primeval forests, and the virgin soil, to favor the plans of the artist in "capabilities." The Duke of Newcastle's party, one of whom was the Prince of Wales, were not flattering their entertainers when they pronounced the suburbs of Cincinnati the finest they had anywhere seen.
The groups of villas, each upon its little hill, are the cities before mentioned, five of which are within sight of the young ladies who attend the liberally conducted seminary of Mount Auburn. The stranger is continually astonished at the magnitude and costliness of these residences. Our impression was, that they are not inferior, either in number or in elegance, to those of Staten Island or Jamaica Plain; while a few of them, we presume, are unequalled in America. The residence of Mr. Probasco is the most famous of these. Externally, it is a rather plain-looking stone house, something between a cottage and a mansion; but the interior is highly interesting, as showing how much money to the square inch can be spent in the decoration of a house, provided the proprietor has unlimited resources and gives himself up to the work. For seven long years, we were informed, the owner of this house toiled at his experiment. Every room was a separate study. All the walls are wainscoted with oak, most exquisitely carved and polished, and the ceilings were painted by artists brought from Italy. It is impossible to conceive an interior more inviting, elegant, and harmonious than this. Thirty years ago the proprietor of this beautiful abode was an errand-boy in the establishment of which he was afterwards the head; and when we had the impudence to look into his house, he was absent in Europe in quest of health! The moral is obvious even here at the end of this poor paragraph, but it was staggering upon the spot. How absurd to be sick, owning such a house! How ridiculous the idea of dying in it!
In this enchanting region is Lane Theological Seminary, of which Dr. Lyman Beecher was once President, and in which Henry Ward Beecher spent three years in acquiring the knowledge it cost him so much trouble to forget. Coming to this seat of theology from the beautiful city of Clifton, of which Mr. Probasco's house is an ornament, and which consists of a few other mansions of similar elegance, the Seminary buildings looked rather dismal, though they are better than the old barracks in which the students of Yale and Harvard reside. Thirty cheerful and athletic young gentlemen, and half a dozen polite and learned professors, constitute at present the theological family. The room in which Mr. Beecher lived is still about fifteen feet by ten, but it does not present the bare and forlorn appearance it did when he inhabited it. It is carpeted now, and has more furniture than the pine table and arm-chair which, tradition informs us, contented him, and which were the only articles he could contribute towards the furnishing of his first establishment.
Cincinnati justly boasts of its Spring Grove Cemetery, which now encloses five hundred acres of this beautiful, undulating land. The present superintendent has introduced a very simple improvement, which enhances the beauty of the ground tenfold, and might well be universally imitated. He has caused the fences around the lots to be removed, and the boundaries to be marked by sunken stone posts, one at each corner, which just suffice for the purpose, but do not disfigure the scene. This change has given to the ground the harmony and pleasantness of a park. The monuments, too, are remarkable for their variety, moderation, and good taste. There is very little, if any, of that hideous ostentation, that mere expenditure of money, which renders Greenwood so melancholy a place, exciting far more compassion for the folly of the living, than sorrow for the dead who have escaped their society. We would earnestly recommend the managers of other cemeteries not to pass within a hundred miles of Cincinnati without stepping aside to see for themselves how much the beauty of a burial-ground is increased by the mere removal of the fences round the lots. It took the superintendent of Spring Grove several years to induce the proprietors to consent to the removal of costly fences; but one after another they yielded, and each removal exhibited more clearly the propriety of the change, and made converts to the new system. In the same taste he recommends the levelling of the mounds over the graves, and his advice has been generally followed.
It is very pleasant for the rich people of Cincinnati to live in the lovely country over the hill, away from the heat and smoke of the town; but it has its inconveniences also. It is partly because the rich people are so far away that the public entertainments of the city are so low in quality and so unfrequent. We made the tour of the theatres and shows one evening,—glad to escape the gloom and dinginess of the hotel, once the pride of the city, but now its reproach. Surely there is no other city of two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants that is so miserably provided with the means of public amusement as Cincinnati. At the first theatre we stumbled into, where Mr. Owens was performing in the Bourcicault version of "The Cricket on the Hearth," there was a large audience, composed chiefly of men. It was the very dirtiest theatre we ever saw. The hands of the ticket-taker were not grimy,—they were black. The matting on the floor, the paint, and all the interior, were thoroughly unclean; and not a person in the audience seemed to have thought it necessary to show respect to the place, or to the presence of a thousand of his fellow-citizens, by making any change in his dress. The ventilation was bad, of course. No fresh air could be admitted without exposing some of the audience to draughts. The band consisted of seven musicians. The play, which is very pleasing and simple, was disfigured in every scene by the interpolation of what the actors call "gags,"—that is, vulgar and stupid additions to the text by the actors themselves,—in which we were sorry to hear the "star" of the occasion setting a bad example. Actors ought to know that when Charles Dickens and Dion Bourcicault unite their admirable talents in the production of a play, no one else can add a line without marring the work. They might at least be aware that Western colloquialisms, amusing as they are, do not harmonize with the conversation of an English cottage. Yet this Cincinnati audience was delighted with the play, in spite of all these drawbacks, so exquisitely adapted is the drama to move and entertain human beings.
At the West, along with much reckless and defiant unbelief in everything high and good, there is also a great deal of that terror-stricken pietism which refuses to attend the theatre unless it is very bad indeed, and is called "Museum." This limits the business of the theatre; and, as a good theatre is necessarily a very expensive institution, it improves very slowly, although the Western people are in precisely that stage of development and culture to which the drama is best adapted and is most beneficial. We should naturally expect to find the human mind, in the broad, magnificent West, rising superior to the prejudices originating in the little sects of little lands. So it will rise in due time. So it has risen, in some degree. But mere grandeur of nature has no educating effect upon the soul of man; else, Switzerland would not have supplied Paris with footmen, and the hackmen of Niagara would spare the tourist. It is only a human mind that can instruct a human mind. There is a man in Cincinnati, of small stature, and living in a small house of a street not easy to find, who is doing more to raise, inform, and ennoble Cincinnati than all her lovely hills and dales. It is the truly Reverend A. D. MAYO, minister of the Unitarian Church of the Redeemer. His walls are not wainscoted, and there is about his house no umbrageous park nor verdant lawn. It has only pleased Heaven, so far, to endow him with a fine understanding, a noble heart, and an eloquent tongue. It is he, and half a dozen such as he, who constitute in great degree the civilizing force of Cincinnati.
Upon leaving the theatre, we were attracted by a loud beating of drums to a building calling itself the "Sacred Museum." Such establishments are usually content with the word "moral"; but this one was "sacred." From a balcony in front, two bass-drums and one bugle were filling all that part of the town with horrid noise, and in the entrance, behind the ticket-office, a huge negro was grinding out discord from an organ as big as an upright piano. We defy creation to produce another exhibition so entirely and profoundly atrocious as this. It consisted chiefly of wax figures of most appalling ugliness. There were Webster, Clay, General Scott, and another, sitting bolt upright at a card-table, staring hideously; the birth of Christ; the trial of Christ; Abraham Lincoln, dead and ghastly, upon a bier; and other groups, all revolting beyond description. The only decently executed thing in this Sacred Museum was highly indecent; it was a young lady in wax, who, before lying down, had forgotten to put on her night-gown. There was a most miserable Happy Family; one or two monkeys, still and dejected; a dismal, tired rooster, who wanted to go to roost, but could not in that glare of gas, and stood motionless on the bottom of the cage; three or four common white rabbits; and a mangy cat. Such was the Sacred Museum. Such are the exhibitions to which well-intentioned parents will take their children, while shrinking in affright from the theatre! It is strange that this lucrative business of providing amusement for children and country visitors should have been so long abandoned to the most ignorant of the community. Every large town needs a place of amusement to which children can be occasionally taken, and it would not be difficult to arrange an establishment that would afford them great delight and do them no harm. How monstrous to lure boys to such a place as this "Sacred Museum,"—or to the "Museum" in New York, where a great creature, in the form of a woman, performs, in flesh-colored tights, the part of Mazeppa!
In all the large Western cities there is a place of evening entertainment called the "Varieties Theatre," which ladies never attend, and in which three pleasures may be enjoyed at once,—smoking, drinking lager-bier, and witnessing a performance upon the stage. The chief patrons of these establishments are gentlemen connected with navigation, and very young men who, for the price of a ticket, a cigar, and a glass of beer, purchase the flattering delusion that they are "seeing life," and "going it with a perfect looseness." The performances consist of Ethiopian minstrelsy, comic songs, farces, and the dancing of "beauteous Terpsichorean nymphs"; and these succeed one another with not a minute's intermission for three or four hours. At St. Louis, where gentlemen connected with navigation are numerous, the Varieties Theatre is large, highly decorated, conducted at great expense, and yields a very large revenue. To witness the performance, and to observe the rapture expressed upon the shaggy and good-humored countenances of the boatmen, was interesting, as showing what kind of banquet will delight a human soul starved from its birth. It likes a comic song very much, if the song refers to fashionable articles of ladies' costume, or holds up to ridicule members of Congress, policemen, or dandies. It is not averse to a sentimental song, in which "Mother, dear," is frequently apostrophized. It delights in a farce from which most of the dialogue has been cut away, while all the action is retained,—in which people are continually knocked down, or run against one another with great violence. It takes much pleasure in seeing Horace Greeley play a part in a negro farce, and become the victim of designing colored brethren. But what joy, when the beauteous Terpsichorean nymph bounds upon the scene, rosy with paint, glistening with spangles, robust with cotton and cork, and bewildering with a cloud of gauzy skirts! What a vision of beauty to a man who has seen nothing for days and nights but the hold of a steamboat and the dull shores of the Mississippi!
The Varieties Theatre of St. Louis, therefore, is a highly flourishing establishment, and the proprietor knows his business well enough to be aware that indecency never pays expenses in the United States,—as all will finally discover who try it. At Cincinnati there is also a Varieties Theatre, but such a theatre! A vast and dirty barn, with whitewashed walls and no ceiling, in which a minstrel band of five men and two beauteous nymphs exerted themselves slightly to entertain an audience of thirty men and boys. As the performers entered the building in view of the spectators, we are able to state that beauteous Terpsichorean nymphs go about the world disguised in dingy calico, and only appear in their true colors upon the stage.
Cincinnati, then, affords very slight and inferior facilities for holiday-keeping. We chanced to be in the city on the last Thanksgiving day, and were surprised to see seven tenths of all the stores open as usual. In the German quarter there were no signs whatever of a public holiday: every place of business was open, and no parties of pleasure were going out. The wholesale stores and most of the American part of the city exhibited the Sunday appearance which an Eastern city presents on this day; but even there the cessation of industry was not universal. And, after all, how should it be otherwise? Where were the people to go? What could they do? There is no Park. There are no suburbs accessible without a severe struggle with the attraction of gravitation. There are no theatres fit to attend. There is no "Museum," no menagerie, no gallery of art, no public gardens, no Fifth Avenue to stroll in, no steamboat excursion, no Hoboken. There ought to be in Cincinnati a most exceptionally good and high social life to atone for this singular absence of the usual means of public enjoyment; but of that a stranger can have little knowledge.
When we turn to survey the industry of Cincinnati, we find a much more advanced and promising state of things. Almost everything is made in Cincinnati that is made by man. There are prodigious manufactories of furniture, machinery, clothing, iron ware, and whatever else is required by the six or eight millions of people who live within easy reach of the city. The book-trade—especially the manufacturing of school-books and other books of utility—has attained remarkable development. Sargent, Wilson, and Hinkle employ about two hundred men, chiefly in the making of school-books; of one series of "Readers," they produce a million dollars' worth per annum,—the most profitable literary property, perhaps, in the world. The house of Moore, Wilstach, and Baldwin employ all their great resources in the manufacture of their own publications, many of which are works of high character and great cost. Recently they have invested one hundred thousand dollars in the production of one work,—the history of Ohio's part in the late war. Robert Clarke & Co. publish law books on a scale only equalled by two or three of the largest law publishers of the Eastern cities. Cincinnati ranks third among the manufacturing cities of the Union, and fourth in the manufacture of books. Here, as everywhere in the United States, the daily press supplies the people with the greater part of their daily mental food, and nowhere else, except in New York, are the newspapers conducted with so much expense. The "Cincinnati Commercial" telegraphed from Washington fourteen columns of General Grant's Report, at an expense of eleven hundred dollars, and thus gave it to its readers one day before the New York papers had a word of it. A number of this paper now before us contains original letters from Washington, New York, Venice, London, and Frankfort, Ky., five columns of telegrams, and the usual despatch by the Atlantic cable. The "Gazette" is not less spirited and enterprising, and both are sound, patriotic, Republican journals. The "Enquirer," of Democratic politics, very liberally conducted, is as unreasonable as heart could wish, and supplies the Republican papers with many a text. The "Times" is an evening paper, Republican, and otherwise commendable. Gentlemen who have long resided in Cincinnati assure us that the improvement in the tone and spirit of its daily press since the late regenerating war is most striking. It is looked to now by the men of public spirit to take the lead in the career of improvement upon which the city is entering. The conductors of the press here are astonishingly rich. Think of an editor having the impudence to return the value of his estate at five millions of dollars!
Visitors to Cincinnati feel it, of course, to be a patriotic duty to make inquiries respecting the native wine; and to facilitate the performance of this duty, the landlord of the Burnet House publishes in his daily bill of fare twelve varieties of American wine, from three States, Ohio, Missouri, and California. The cheapest is the Ohio Catawba, one dollar a bottle; the dearest is Missouri champagne, at three dollars and a half. The wine culture, it appears, is somewhat out of favor at present among the farmers of Ohio. A German family, many-handed, patient, and economical, occupying a small vineyard and paying no wages, finds the business profitable; but an American, who lives freely, and depends upon hired assistance, is likely to fail. A vineyard requires incessant and skilful labor. The costly preparation of the soil, the endless prunings and hoeings, the great and watchful care required in picking, sorting, and pressing the grapes, in making and preserving the wine, the many perils to which the crop is exposed at every moment of its growth and ripening, and the three years of waiting before the vines begin to bear, all conspire to discourage and defeat the ordinary cultivator. The "rot" is a very severe trial to human patience. The vines look thrifty, the grapes are large and abundant, and all goes well, until the time when the grapes, being fully grown, are about to change color. Then a sudden blight occurs, and two thirds of the whole crop of grapes, the result of the year's labor, wither and spoil. The cause, probably, is the exhaustion of some elements in the soil needful to the supreme effort of Nature to perfect her work. Nevertheless, the patient Germans succeed in the business, and sell their wine to good advantage to the large dealers and bottlers.
The Longworth wine-cellar, one of the established lions of the city, cheers the thirsty soul of man. There we had the pleasure of seeing, by a candle's flickering light, two hundred thousand bottles of wine, and of walking along subterranean streets lined with huge tuns, each of them large enough to house a married Diogenes, or to drown a dozen Dukes of Clarence, and some of them containing five thousand gallons of the still unvexed Catawba. It was there that we made acquaintance with the "Golden Wedding" champagne, the boast of the late proprietor,—an acquaintance which we trust will ripen into an enduring friendship. If there is any better wine than this attainable in the present state of existence, it ought, in consideration of human weakness, to be all poured into the briny deep. It is a very honest cellar, this. Except a little rock candy to aid fermentation, no foreign ingredient is employed, and the whole process of making and bottling the wine is conducted with the utmost care. Nicholas Longworth was neither an enlightened nor a public-spirited man; but, like most of his race, he was scrupulously honest. Indeed, we may truly say, that there is in Cincinnati a general spirit of fidelity. Work is generally done well there, promises are kept, and representations accord with the facts.
Every one thinks of pork in connection with Cincinnati. We had the curiosity to visit one of the celebrated pork-making establishments, "The Banner Slaughter and Pork-packing House," which, being the newest, contains all the improved apparatus. In this establishment, hogs weighing five or six hundred pounds are killed, scraped, dressed, cut up, salted, and packed in a barrel, in twenty seconds, on an average; and at this rate, the work is done, ten hours a day, during the season of four months. The great secret of such rapidity is, that one man does one thing only, and thus learns to do that one thing with perfect dexterity. We saw a man there who, all day and every day, knocks pigs down with a hammer; another who does nothing but "stick" them; another who, with one clean, easy stroke of a broad, long-handled cleaver, decapitates the hugest hog of Ohio. But let us begin at the beginning, for, really, this Banner Pork-house is one of the most curious things in the world, and claims the attention of the polite reader.
It is a large, clean, new brick building, with extensive yards adjoining it, filled with hogs from the forests and farms of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. From these yards to the third story of the house there is an inclined plane, up which a procession of the animals march slowly to their doom from morning until evening. Here is the first economy. The thing to be done is, to transfer the pigs from those yards to the basement of the building, and, on the way, convert them into salt pork. They walk to the scene of massacre at the top of the building, and the descent to the cellar accomplishes itself by the natural law which causes everything to seek the centre of the earth. Arrived at the summit, the fifteen foremost find themselves in "a tight place,"—squeezed into a pen, in which they must remain standing from lack of room to lie down. There are two of these pens, and two "pen men"; so that the moment one pen is empty, there is another ready filled, and the work thus goes on without interruption. The fifteen animals which stand compressed, with their heads thrust upward, awaiting the stroke of fate, express their emotions in the language natural to them, and the noise is great. The executioner, armed with a long-handled, slender hammer, and sitting astride of the fence, gives to each of these yelling creatures his quietus by a blow upon the head. The pig does not fall when he is struck; he cannot; he only stares and becomes silent. The stranger who is unable to witness the execution has an awful sense of the progress of the fell work by the gradual cessation of the noise. We mention here, for the benefit of political economists, that this knocker-down, who does the most disagreeable and laborious part of the work, has the lowest wages paid to any man in the house. He does not rank as an artist at all, but only as a laborer. Readers of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill know why. When silence within the pen announces the surrender of its occupants, a door is opened, and the senseless hogs are laid in a row up an inclined plane, at the bottom of which is a long trough of hot water. One of the artists, called "the Sticker," now appears, provided with a long, thin, pointed knife, and approaches the pig nearest the steaming trough, gently lifts its fore leg, and gives it one easy, delicate, and graceful thrust in the throat. Along the trough, on each side of it, is a row of men, each with an instrument in his hand, waiting to begin; and apart from them stands the Head-Scalder, who ranks second in the corps, having a task of all but the greatest difficulty to perform. Scald a pig ten seconds too long, or in water twenty degrees too hot, and he comes out as red as a lobster; let the water be too cool, or keep the animal in it too short a time, and the labor of scraping is trebled. Into the hot water the hogs are soused at intervals of twenty seconds, and the Scalder stands, watching the clock, and occasionally trying the temperature of the water with his finger, or the adherence of the hair on the creature first to be handled. "Number One," he says, at length. By a machine for the purpose, Number One is turned over upon a long, declining table, where he lies smoking. At the same instant two men pull out his valuable bristles and put them in a barrel, and two other men scrape one side of him with scrapers. In a few seconds, these turn him over and pass him on to two other scrapers, who scrape the other side, and then slide him along to four other men, who trim and finish him, leaving not a hair upon his soft and quivering body. Then he falls into the hands of two "gamble-men," who insert a stick to keep the hind legs apart, and, by the aid of a machine, hang him up with his head downward. Next, the animal is consigned to the great artist of all, who performs upon him the operation so much in favor among the nobility of Japan. This artist, we regret to say, but will not conceal from a too fastidious public, is called "the Gutter." One long, swift cut down the whole length of the body,—two or three rapid, in-and-out cuts in the inside,—and the entire respiratory and digestive apparatus lies smoking upon a table, under the hands of men who are removing from it the material for lard. This operation, here performed in twenty seconds, and which is frequently done by the same man fifteen hundred times a day, takes an ordinary butcher ten minutes. This man earns six dollars and a half a day, while no one else receives more than four; and if he is absent from his post, his substitute, who has seen the thing done for years, can only perform it one fifth as fast, and the day's work of the house is reduced to one fifth of its ordinary production.
The long room in which the creatures are put to death, scalded, and japanned presents, as may be imagined, a most horrid scene of massacre and blood,—of steaming water and flabby, naked, quivering hogs,—of men in oil-skin suits all shining with wet and grease. The rest of the establishment is perfectly clean and agreeable. The moment the body of the animal is emptied, a boy inundates it from a hose, and then another boy pushes it along the wire from which it hangs on a wheel, and takes it to its place in the cooling-room, where it hangs all night. This cooling-room is a curious spectacle. It contains two regiments of suspended hogs, arranged in long, regular rows: one regiment, the result of to-day's operations; the other, of yesterday's. The cutting up of these huge carcasses is accomplished with the same easy and wonderful rapidity. The first that we chanced to see cut to pieces was an enormous fellow of six hundred pounds, and it was done in just one third of a minute. Two men tumbled him over upon a wagon, wheeled him to the scales, where his weight was instantly ascertained and recorded. Near by was the cutting-table, upon which he was immediately flopped. Two simultaneous blows with a cleaver severed his head and his hind quarters from the trunk, and the subdivision of these was accomplished by three or four masterly cuts with the same instrument. Near the table are the open mouths of as many large wooden pipes as there are kinds of pieces in a hog, and these lead to the various apartments below, where the several pieces are to be further dealt with. Gently down their well-greased pipe slip the hams to the smoking-department; away glide the salting-pieces to the cellar; the lard-leaves slide softly down to the trying-room; the trimmings of the hams vanish silently down their pipe to the sausage-room; the tongue, the feet, and every atom of the flesh, start on their journey to the places where they are wanted; and thus, in the twenty seconds, the six-hundred-pounder has been cut to pieces and distributed all over an extensive building.