Before leaving the subject of railway carriages, I may as well give you a description of the travelling cars in ordinary use.
They are forty-two feet long, nine and a half wide, from six to six and a half feet high, and carry from fifty to sixty passengers. Each seat is three feet four inches long, placed at right angles to the window, and has a reversible back. There is a passage through the centre of the car, between the rows of seats. In winter, a stove is always burning in each carriage; and in one of them there is generally a small room partitioned off, containing a water-closet, &c. A door is placed at each extremity, outside which there is a platform whereon the break is fixed. These carriages are supported at each end by four wheels, of thirty-three inches diameter, fitted together in a frame-work, and moving on a pivot, whereby to enable them to take more easily any sharp bend in the road. Their weight is from ten to twelve tons, and their cost from 400l. to 450l. sterling. The system of coupling adopted is alike rude and uncomfortable; instead of screwing the carriages tightly up against the buffers, as is the practice in England, they are simply hooked together, thus subjecting the passengers to a succession of jerks when starting, and consequently producing an equal number of concussions when the train stops.
From the foregoing sketch, it will be seen that the narrowness of the seats is such as to prevent its two occupants—if of ordinary dimensions—from sitting together without rubbing shoulders. It will also be observed, that the passage through the centre of the carriages enables any one to pass with ease throughout the whole length of the train. This is a privilege of which the mercurial blood and inquisitive mind of the American take unlimited advantage, rendering the journey one continued slamming of doors, which, if the homoeopathic principle be correct, would prove an infallible cure for headache, could the sound only be triturated, and passed through the finest sieve, so as to reach the tympanum in infinitesimal doses. But, alas! it is administered wholesale, and with such power, that almost before the ear catches the sound, it is vibrating in the tendon Achilles. It is said by some, that salmon get accustomed to crimping; and I suppose that, in like manner, the American tympanum gets accustomed to this abominable clatter and noise.
The luggage-van is generally placed between the carriages and the engine. And here it is essential I should make some observations with reference to the ticket system which is universally adopted in America. Every passenger is furnished with brass tickets, numbered, and a duplicate is attached to each article of luggage. No luggage is delivered without the passenger producing the ticket corresponding to that on the article claimed, the Company being responsible for any loss. This system is peculiarly suited to the habits of the American people, inasmuch as nine-tenths of them, if not more, upon arriving at the end of their journey, invariably go to some hotel; and as each establishment, besides providing an omnibus for the convenience of its customers, has an agent ready to look after luggage, the traveller has merely to give his ticket to that functionary, thus saving himself all further trouble.
The last, but not the least important, object connected with railways, remains yet to be mentioned—viz., the locomotive. Its driving-wheels are generally six feet and a half in diameter, the cylinder is sixteen inches in diameter, and has a stroke of twenty-two inches. But the point to which I wish to call especial attention, is the very sensible provision made for the comfort of the engineer and stokers, who are thoroughly protected by a weather-proof compartment, the sides whereof, being made of glass, enable them to exercise more effective vigilance than they possibly could do if they were exposed in the heartless manner prevalent in this country.
From my subsequent experience in the railway travelling of the United States, I am induced to offer the following suggestions for the consideration of our legislature. First, for the protection of the old, the helpless, or the desirous, an act should be passed, compelling every railway company to supply tickets for luggage to each passenger applying for them, provided that the said application be made within a given period previous to the departure of the train; this ticket to insure the delivery of the luggage at the proper station, and to the proper owner.
Secondly, an act compelling railway companies to afford efficient protection from the weather to the engineer and stokers of every train, holding the chairman and board of directors responsible in the heaviest penalties for every accident that may occur where this simple and humane provision is neglected.
Thirdly, an act requiring some system of communication between guard, passengers, and engineer. The following rude method strikes me as so obvious, that I wonder it has not been tried, until some better substitute be found. Let the guard's seat project in all trains—as it now does in some—beyond the carriages, thus enabling him to see the whole length of one side of the train; carry the foot-board and the hand-rail half way across the space between the carriages, by which simple means the guard could walk outside from one end of the train to the other, thus supervising everything, and gathering in the tickets en route, instead of inconveniencing the public, as at present, by detaining the train many minutes for that purpose.[D]
Next, fit every carriage with two strong metal pipes, running just over the doors, and projecting a foot or so beyond the length of the carriage, the end of the pipe to have a raised collar, by which means an elastic gutta percha tube could connect the pipes while the carriages were being attached; a branch tube of gutta percha should then be led from the pipe on one side into each compartment, so that any passenger, by blowing through it, would sound a whistle in the place appropriated to the guard. On the opposite side, the pipes would be solely for communication between the guard and engine-driver. Should the length of any train be found too great for such communication, surely it were better to sacrifice an extra guard's salary, than trifle with human life in the way we have hitherto done. Each engine should have a second whistle, with a trumpet tone, similar to that employed in America, to be used in case of danger, the ordinary one being employed, as at present, only to give warning of approach.
With these sagacious hints for the consideration of my countrymen, I postpone for the present the subject of railways, and, in excuse for the length of my remarks, have only to plead a desire to make railway travelling in England more safe, and my future wanderings more intelligible. I have much more to say with regard to New York and its neighbourhood; but not wishing to overdose the reader at once, I shall return to the subject in the pages, as I did to the place in my subsequent travels.
[Footnote D: This power of supervision, on the part of the guard, might also act as an effective check upon the operations of those swindling gamblers who infest many of our railroads—especially the express trains of the Edinburgh and Glasgow—in which, owing to no stoppage taking place, they exercise their villanous calling with comparative impunity.]
A Day on the North River.
Early one fine morning in October, a four-seated fly might have been seen at the door of Putnam's hotel, on the roof of which was being piled a Babel of luggage, the inside being already full. Into another vehicle, our party—i.e., three of us—entered, and ere long both the carriages were on the banks of the river, where the steamer was puffing away, impatient for a start. The hawsers were soon cast off, and we launched forth on the bosom of the glorious Hudson, whose unruffled surface blazed like liquid fire beneath the rays of the rising sun. I purposely abstain from saying anything of the vessel, as she was an old one, and a very bad specimen. The newer and better class of vessel, I shall have to describe hereafter.
On leaving New York, the northern banks of the river are dotted in every direction with neat little villas, the great want being turf, to which the American climate is an inveterate foe. Abreast of one of these villas, all around me is now smiling with peace and gladness; alas! how different was the scene but a few months previous; then, struggling bodies strewed the noble stream, and the hills and groves resounded with the bitterest cries of human agony, as one of the leviathan steamers, wrapped in a fierce and fiery mantle, hurried her living cargo to a burning or a watery grave.
We had a motley collection of passengers, but were not overcrowded. Of course, there was a Paddy on board. Where can one go without meeting one of that migratory portion of our race! There he was, with his "shocking bad hat," his freckled face, his bright eye, and his shrewd expression, smoking his old "dudeen," and gazing at the new world around him. But who shall say his thoughts were not in some wretched hovel in the land of his birth, and his heart beating with the noble determination, that when his industry met its reward, those who had shared his sorrows in the crowded land of his fathers, should partake of his success in the thinly-tenanted home of his adoption. Good luck to you, Paddy, with all my heart!
I was rather amused by a story I heard, of a newly-arrived Paddy emigrant, who, having got a little money, of course wanted a little whisky. On going to the bar to ask the price, he was told three-halfpence. "For how much?" quoth Paddy. The bottle was handed to him, and he was told to take as much as he liked. Paddy's joy knew no bounds at this liberality, and, unable to contain his ecstasy, he rushed to the door to communicate the good news to his companions, which he did in the following racy sentence: "Mike! Mike, my sowl! com' an' haf a dhrink—only thruppence for both of us, an' the botthel in yer own fisht!"
One unfortunate fellow on board had lost a letter of recommendation, and was in great distress in consequence. I hope he succeeded in replacing it better than a servant-girl is said to have done, under similar circumstances, who—as the old story goes—having applied to the captain of the vessel, received the following doubtful recommendation at the hand of that functionary: "This is to certify that Kate Flannagan had a good character when she embarked at New York, but she lost it on board the steamer coming up. Jeremiah Peascod, Captain."
The scenery of the Hudson has been so well described, and so justly eulogized, that I need say little on that score. In short, no words can convey an adequate impression of the gorgeousness of the forest tints in North America during the autumn. The foliage is inconceivably beautiful and varied, from the broad and brightly dark purple leaf of the maple, to the delicate and pale sere leaf of the poplar, all blending harmoniously with the deep green of their brethren in whom the vital sap still flows in full vigour. I have heard people compare the Hudson and the Rhine. I cannot conceive two streams more totally dissimilar—the distinctive features of one being wild forest scenery, glowing with ever-changing hues, and suggestive of a new world; and those of the other, the wild and craggy cliff capped with beetling fortresses, and banks fringed with picturesque villages and towns, all telling of feudal times and an old world. I should as soon think of comparing the castle of Heidelberg, on its lofty hill with Buckingham Palace, in its metropolitan hole.—But to return to the Hudson.
In various places you will see tramways from the top of the banks down to the water; these are for the purpose of shooting down the ice, from the lakes and ponds above, to supply the New York market. The ice-houses are made on a slope, and fronting as much north as possible. They are built of wood, and doubled, the space between which—about a foot and a half—is filled with bark, tanned. In a bend of the river, I saw the indications of something like the forming of a dock, or basin; and, on inquiry, was told it was the work of a Company who imagined they had discovered where the famous pirate Kidd had buried his treasure. The Company found to their cost, that it was they who were burying their treasure, instead of Captain Kidd who had buried his; so, having realized their mare's-nest, they gave it up. One of the most beautiful "bits" on the Hudson is West Point; but, as I purpose visiting it at my leisure hereafter, I pass it by at present without further comment.
There are every now and then, especially on the southern bank, large plots, which, at a distance, look exactly like Turkish cemeteries. On nearing them, you find that the old destroyer, Time, has expended all the soil sufficiently to allow the bare rock to peep through, and the disconsolate forest has retired in consequence, leaving only the funeral cypress to give silent expression to its affliction. Hark! what sound is that? Dinner! A look at the company was not as appetissant as a glass of bitters, but a peep at the tout-ensemble was fatal; so, patience to the journey's end. Accordingly, I consoled myself with a cigar and the surrounding scenery; no hard task either, with two good friends to help you. On we went, passing little villages busy as bees, and some looking as fresh as if they had been built over-night. At last, a little before dusk, Albany hove in sight. As we neared the wharf, it became alive with Paddy cabmen and porters of every age: the former, brandishing their whips, made such a rush on board when we got within jumping distance, that one would have thought they had come to storm the vessel. We took it coolly, allowing the rush of passengers to land first; and then, having engaged two "broths of boys" with hackney coaches, we drove up to the Congress Hall Hotel, where, thanks to our young American cicerone, we were very soon comfortably lodged, with a jolly good dinner before us. I may as well explain why it was thanks to our friend that we were comfortably lodged.
'Throughout the whole length and breadth of the Republic, the people are gregarious, and go everywhere in flocks; consequently, on the arrival of railway train or steamer, 'buses from the various hotels are always in waiting, and speedily filled. No sooner does the 'bus pull up, than a rush is made by each one to the book lying on the counter, that he may inscribe his name as soon as possible, and secure a bedroom. The duty of allotting the apartments generally devolves upon the head clerk, or chief assistant; but as, from the locomotive propensities of the population, he has a very extensive acquaintance, and knows not how soon some of them may be arriving, he billets the unknown in the most out-of-the-way rooms; for the run upon all the decent hotels is so great, that courtesy is scarce needed to insure custom. Not that they are uncivil; but the confusion caused by an arrival is so great, and the mass of travellers are so indifferent to the comfort or the attention which one meets with in a decent hotel in this country, that, acting from habit, they begin by roosting their guests, like crows, at the top of the tree.
To obviate this inconvenience, I would suggest, for the benefit of future travellers, the plan I found on many occasions so successful myself, in my subsequent journeys; which is, whenever you are comfortably lodged in any hotel, to take a letter from the proprietor to the next you wish to stop at. They give it you most readily, and on many occasions I found the advantage of it. They all know one another; and in this way you might travel all through the Union.
Dinner is over—the events of the day have been discussed 'mid fragrant clouds, and we are asleep in the capital of the State of New York.
We were obliged to be astir early in the morning, so as to be in time for the railway; consequently, our lionizing of the city consisted chiefly in smoking a cigar at the front-door. The town is prettily situated on the banks of the Hudson, and at its confluence with the Erie canal. It is one of the few towns in the Republic which enjoys a Royalist name, having been called after the Duke of York and Albany, and is a very thriving place, with a steadily increasing population, already amounting to sixty thousand; and some idea of its prosperity may be formed from the fact of its receiving, by the Erie canal, annually, goods to the value of near six millions sterling. Some years ago it was scourged by an awful fire; but it has risen, like a phoenix, from its ashes, and profited materially by the chastisement. The chief objection I had to the town was the paving of the streets, which was abominable, and full of holes, any of them large enough to bury a hippopotamus, and threatening dislocation of some joint at every step; thus clearly proving that the contract for the paving was in the hands of the surgeons. On similar grounds, it has often occurred to me that the proprietors of the London cabs must be chiefly hatters.
Our descent from the hotel to the railway station was as lively as that of a parched pea on a red-hot frying-pan, but it was effected without any injury requiring the assistance of the paving-surgeons, and by the time our luggage was ticketed the train had arrived: some tumbled out, others tumbled in; the kettle hissed, and off we went, the first few hundred yards of our journey being along the street. Not being accustomed to see a train going in full cry through the streets, I expected every minute to hear a dying squeak, as some of the little urchins came out, jumping and playing close to the cars; but they seem to be protected by a kind of instinct; and I believe it would be as easy to drive a train over a cock-sparrow as over a Yankee boy. At last we emerged from the town, and went steaming away merrily over the country. Our companions inside were a motley group of all classes. By good fortune, we found a spare seat on which to put our cloaks, &c., which was a luxury rarely enjoyed in my future travels, being generally obliged to carry them on my knee, as the American cars are usually so full that there is seldom a vacant place on which to lay them.
Our route lay partly along the line of the Mohawk, on the banks of which is situated the lovely village of Rockton, or Little Falls, where the gushing stream is compressed between two beautifully wooded cliffs, affording a water-power which has been turned to good account by the establishment of mills. At this point the Erie canal is cut for two miles through the solid rock, and its unruffled waters, contrasting with the boiling river struggling through the narrow gorge, look like streams of Peace and Passion flowing and struggling side by side. As the "iron horse" hurries us onward, the ears are assailed, amid the wild majesty of Nature, with the puny cockneyisms of "Rome," "Syracuse," &c. Such absurdities are ridiculous enough in our suburban villas; but to find them substituted for the glorious old Indian names, is positively painful.
Among other passengers in the train, was a man conspicuous among his fellows for clean hide and clean dimity; on inquiry, I was told he was a Professor. He looked rather young for a professorial chair, and further investigation confused me still more, for I found he was a Professor of Soap. At last, I ascertained that he had earned his title by going about the country lecturing upon, and exhibiting in his person, the valuable qualities of his detergent treasures, through which peripatetic advertisement he had succeeded in realizing dollars and honours. The oratory of some of these Professors is, I am told, of an order before which the eloquence of a Demosthenes would shrink abashed, if success is admitted as the test; for, only put them at the corner of a street in any town, and I have no fears of binding myself to eat every cake they do not sell before they quit their oratorical platform. The soapy orator quitted the train at Auburn, and soon after, the vandalism of "Rome" and "Syracuse" was atoned for by the more appropriate and euphonical old Indian names of "Cayuga" and "Canandaigua."
On reaching the station of the latter, an old and kind friend to my brother, when he first visited America, was waiting to welcome us to his house, which was about a quarter of a mile distant, and a most comfortable establishment it proved, in every way. Our worthy host was a Scotchman by birth, and though he had passed nearly half a century in the United States, he was as thoroughly Scotch in all his ways as if he had just arrived from his native land; and while enjoying his hospitalities, you might have fancied yourself in a Highland laird's old family mansion. In all his kind attentions, he was most ably assisted by his amiable lady. Everything I had seen hitherto was invested with an air of newness, looking as if of yesterday: here, the old furniture and the fashion thereof, even its very arrangement, all told of days long bygone, and seemed to say, "We are heir-looms." When you went upstairs, the old Bible on your bedroom table, with its worn cover, well-thumbed leaves, and its large paper-mark, browned by the hand of Time, again proclaimed, "I am an heir-loom," and challenged your respect; and worthy companions they all were to mine host and his lady, who, while they warmed your heart with their cheerful and unostentatious hospitality, also commanded your respect by the way they dispensed it.
The following day our route lay across country, out of the line of stage or rail; so a vehicle had to be got, which my young American cicerone, under the guidance of mine host, very soon arranged; and in due time, a long, slight, open cart, with the seats slung to the sides, drove to the door, with four neat greys, that might have made "Tommy Onslow's" mouth water.
While they are putting in the luggage, I may as well give you a sketch of how the young idea is sometimes taught to shoot in this country. Time—early morning. Paterfamilias at the door, smoking a cigar—a lad of ten years of age appears.
"I say, father, can I have Two-forty?[E] I want to go down to the farm, to see my cattle fed!"
Scarce had leave been obtained, before a cry was heard in another quarter. "Hallo, Jemmy! what's the matter now? Wont Shelty go?"
The youth so addressed was about six, and sitting in a little low four-wheeled carriage, whacking away at a Shetland-looking pony, with a coat, every hair of which was long enough for a horse's tail. The difficulty was soon discovered, for it was an old trick of Shelty to lift one leg outside the shaft, and strike for wages, if he wasn't pleased.
"Get out, Jemmy, I'll set him right;" and accordingly, Shelty's leg was lifted inside, and Paterfamilias commenced lunging him round and round before the door. After a few circles he said, "Now then, Jemmy, get in again; he's all right now."
The infant Jehu mounts, and of course commences pitching into Shelty, alike vigorously and harmlessly; off they go at score."
"Where are you going, Jemmy?"
"What—say—father?" No words are lost.
"Where are you going, Jemmy?"
"Going to get some turnips for my pigs;" and Jemmy disappeared in a bend of the road.
On inquiry, I found Jemmy used often to go miles from home in this way, and was as well known in the neighbourhood as his father.
On another occasion, I remember seeing three lads, the oldest about twelve, starting off in a four-wheeled cart, armed with an old gun.
"Where are you going, there?"
"To shoot pigeons."
"What's that sticking out of your pocket?"
"A loaded pistol;" and off they went at full swing.
Thinks I to myself, if those lads don't break their necks, or blow their brains out, they will learn to take care of themselves; and I began to reflect whether this was the way they were taught to love independence.
Now for a sketch of the other sex. Two horses come to the door side-saddled. Out rush, and on jump, two girls under twelve. Young Ten, upon his Two-forty, is the chaperon. "Take care!" says an anxious parent. "Oh, I'm not afraid, mother;" and away they go, galloping about the park as if they were Persians. My mind turned involuntarily homewards, and I drew a picture from life. A faithful nurse stands at the door; a young lady about twelve is mounting; a groom is on another horse, with a leading-rein strong enough to hold a line-of-battle ship in a gale of wind. The old nurse takes as long packing the young lady as if she were about to make a tour of the globe; sundry whispers are going on all the time, the purport of which is easily guessed. At last all excuses are exhausted, and off they go. The lady's nag jog-trots a little; the nurse's voice is heard—"Walk, walk, that's a dear! walk till you're comfortable in the saddle. William, mind you don't let go the rein; is it strong enough?" William smothers a laugh; the procession moves funereally, the faithful nurse watching it with an expression betokening intense anxiety. "Take care, that's a dear!" and then, as the object of her solicitude disappears among the trees, she draws a long sigh; a mutter is heard—"some accident" are the only words distinguishable; a bang of the door follows, and the affectionate nurse is—what?—probably wiping her eyes in the passage.
Here are two systems which may be said to vary a little, and might require my consideration, were it not that I have no daughters, partly owing, doubtless, to the primary deficiency of a wife. At all events, I have at present no time for further reflections; for the waggon is waiting at the door, the traps are all in, and there stand mine host and his lady, as ready to speed the parting as they were to welcome the coming guest. A hearty shake of the hand, and farewell to Hospitality Hall. May no cloud ever shade the happiness of its worthy inmates!
As we drive on, I may as well tell you that Canandaigua is a beautiful little village, situated on a slope descending towards a lake of the same name, and therefore commanding a lovely view—for when is a sheet of water not lovely? There are some very pretty little villas in the upper part of the village, which is a long broad street, with trees on either side, and is peopled by a cozy little community of about four thousand. Here we are in the open country. What is the first novelty that strikes the eye?—the snake fences; and a tickler they would prove to any hot-headed Melton gentleman who might try to sky over them. They are from six to seven feet high—sometimes higher—and are formed by laying long split logs one over another diagonally, by which simple process the necessity of nails or uprights is avoided; and as wood is dirt-cheap, the additional length caused by their diagonal construction is of no importance;—but, being all loose, they are as awkward to leap as a swing-bar, which those who have once got a cropper at, are not anxious to try again.
It is at all times a cheery thing to go bowling along behind a spicy team, but especially so when traversing a wild and half-cultivated country, where everything around you is strange to the eye, and where the vastness of space conveys a feeling of grandeur; nor is it the less enjoyable when the scenery is decked in the rich attire of autumn, and seen through the medium of a clear and cloudless sky. Then, again, there is something peculiarly pleasing while gazing at the great extent of rich timbered land, in reflecting that it is crying aloud for the stalwart arm of man, and pointing to the girdle of waving fields which surround it, to assure that stalwart arm that industry will meet a sure reward. Poverty may well hide her head in shame amid such scenes as these, for it can only be the fruit of wilful indolence.
The farm cottages are all built of wood, painted white, and look as clean and fresh as so many new-built model dairies. The neat little churches, too, appeared as bright as though the painters had left them the evening before. And here I must remark a convenience attached to them, which it might be well to imitate in those of our own churches which are situated in out-of-the-way districts, such as the Highlands of Scotland, where many of the congregation have to come from a considerable distance. The convenience I allude to is simply a long, broad shed, open all one side of its length, and fitted with rings, &c., for tethering the horses of those who, from fancy, distance, age, or sickness, are unwilling or unable to come on foot. The expense would be but small, and the advantage great. Onward speed our dapper greys, fresh as four-year-olds; and the further we go, the better they seem to like it. The only bait they get is five minutes' breathing time, and a great bucket of water, which they seem to relish as much as if it were a magnum of iced champagne. The avenue before us leads into Geneseo, the place of our destination, where my kind friend, Mr. Wadsworth, was waiting to welcome us to his charming little country-place, situated just outside the village. 'And what a beautiful place is this same Geneseo! But, for the present, we must discharge our faithful greys—see our new friends, old and young—enjoy a better bait than our nags did at the half-way house, indulge in the fragrant Havana, and retire to roost. To-morrow we will talk of the scenery.
[Footnote E: As a similar expression occurs frequently in this work, the reader is requested to remember that it is a common custom in America to name a horse according to the time in which he can trot a mile. The boy evidently had a visionary idea in his mind that the little hack he was asking permission to ride, had accomplished the feat of trotting a mile in two minutes and forty seconds.]
It is a lovely bright autumn morning, with a pure blue sky, and a pearly atmosphere through which scarce a zephyr is stealing; the boughs of the trees hang motionless; my window is open; but, how strange the perfect stillness! No warbling note comes from the feathered tribe to greet the rising sun, and sing, with untaught voice, their Maker's praise; even the ubiquitous house-sparrow is neither seen nor heard. How strange this comparative absence of animal life in a country which, having been so recently intruded upon by the destroyer—man—one would expect to find superabundantly populated with those animals, against which he does not make war either for his use or amusement. Nevertheless, so it is; and I have often strolled about for hours in the woods, in perfect solitude, with no sound to meet the ear—no life to catch the eye. But I am wandering from the house too soon;—a jolly scream in the nursery reminds me that, at all events, there is animal life within, and that the possessor thereof has no disease of the lungs.
Let us now speed to breakfast; for folk are early in the New World, and do not lie a-bed all the forenoon, thinking how to waste the afternoon, and then, when the afternoon comes, try and relieve the tedium thereof by cooking up some project to get over the ennui of the evening. Whatever else you may deny the American, this one virtue you must allow him. He is, emphatically, an early riser; as much so as our own most gracious Sovereign, whose example, if followed by her subjects—especially some in the metropolis—would do more to destroy London hells, and improve London health, than the Legislature, or Sir B. Hall, and all the College of Surgeons, can ever hope to effect among the post-meridian drones.
Breakfast was speedily despatched, and Senor Cabanos y Carvajal followed as a matter of course. While reducing him to ashes, and luxuriating in the clouds which proclaim his certain though lingering death, we went out upon the terrace before the house to wish good speed to my two companions who were just starting, and to enjoy a view of the far-famed vale of Genesee. Far as the eye could see, with no bounds save the power of its vision, was one wide expanse of varied beauty. The dark forest hues were relieved by the rich tints of the waving corn; neat little cottages peeped out in every direction. Here and there, a village, with its taper steeples, recalled the bounteous Hand "that giveth us all things richly to enjoy." Below my feet was beautifully undulating park ground, magnificently timbered, through which peeped the river, bright as silver beneath the rays of an unclouded sun, whose beams, streaming at the same time on a field of the rich-coloured pumpkin, burnished each like a ball of molten gold. All around was richness, beauty, and abundance.
The descendant of a Wellington or a Washington, while contemplating the glorious deeds of an illustrious ancestor, and recalling the adoration of a grateful country, may justly feel his breast swelling with pride and emulation; but while I was enjoying this scene, there stood one at my side within whom also such emotions might be as fully and justly stirred—for there are great men to be found in less conspicuous, though not less useful spheres of life. A son who knew its history enjoyed with me this goodly scene. His father was the first bold pioneer. The rut made by the wheel of his rude cart, drawn by two oxen, was the first impress made by civilization in the whole of this rich and far-famed valley. A brother shared with him his early toils and privations; their own hands raised the log-hut—their new home in the wilderness. Ere they broke ground, the boundless forest howled around a stray party of Indians, come to hunt, or to pasture their flocks on the few open plots skirting the river: all else was waste and solitude. One brother died comparatively early; but the father of mine host lived long to enjoy the fruit of his labours. He lived to see industry and self-denial metamorphose that forest and its straggling Indian band into a land bursting with the rich fruits of the soil, and buzzing with a busy hive of human energy and intelligence. Yes; and he lived to see temple after temple, raised for the pure worship of the True God, supplant the ignorance and idolatry which reigned undisturbed at his first coming. Say, then, reader, has not the son of such a father just cause for pride—a solemn call to emulation? The patriarchal founder of his family and their fortunes has left an imperishable monument of his greatness in the prosperity of this rich vale; and Providence has blessed his individual energies and forethought with an unusual amount of this world's good things. "Honour and fame—industry and wealth," are inscribed on the banner of his life, and the son is worthily fighting under the paternal standard. The park grounds below the house bear evidence of his appreciation of the beauties of scenery, in the taste with which he has performed that difficult task of selecting the groups of trees requisite for landscape, while cutting down a forest; and the most cursory view of his library can leave no doubt that his was a highly-cultivated mind. I will add no more, lest I be led insensibly to trench upon the privacy of domestic life.
I now propose to give a slight sketch of his farm, so as to convey, to those interested, an idea of the general system of agriculture adopted in the Northern States; and if the reader think the subject dull, a turn of the leaf will prove a simple remedy.
The extent farmed is 2000 acres, of which 400 are in wood, 400 in meadow, 400 under plough, and 800 in pasture. On the wheat lands, summer fallow, wheat, and clover pasture, form the three years' rotation. In summer fallow, the clover is sometimes ploughed in, and sometimes fed off, according to the wants of the soil and the farm. Alluvial lands are cultivated in Indian corn from five to ten years successively, and then laid down in grass indeterminately from three to forty years. Wheat—sometimes broadcast, sometimes drilled—is put in as near as possible the 1st of September, and cut from the 10th to the 20th of July. Clover-seed is sown during March in wheat, and left till the following year. Wheat stubble is pastured slightly; the clover, if mowed, is cut in the middle of June; if pastured, the cattle are turned in about the 1st of May.
Pumpkins are raised with the Indian corn, and hogs fattened on them; during the summer they are turned into clover pasture. Indian corn and pumpkins are planted in May, and harvested in October; the leaf and stalk of the Indian corn are cut up for fodder, and very much liked. Oats and barley are not extensively cultivated.
The average crop of Indian corn is from fifty to sixty bushels, and of wheat, from twenty-five to thirty per acre. The pasture land supports one head to one and one-third acre. Grass-fattened cattle go to market from September to November, fetching 2-1/4d. per lb. live weight, or 4-1/2d. per lb. for beef alone. Cattle are kept upon hay and straw from the middle of November to 1st of May, if intended for fattening upon grass; but, if intended for spring market, they are fed on Indian corn-meal in addition. Sheep are kept on hay exclusively, from the middle of November to the 1st of April. A good specimen of Durham ox, three and a half years old, weighs 1500 lbs. live weight. The farm is provided with large scales for weighing hay, cattle, &c., and so arranged, that one hundred head can easily be weighed in two hours.
No manure is used, except farm-pen and gypsum; the former is generally applied to Indian corn and meadow land. The gypsum is thrown, a bushel to the acre, on each crop of wheat and clover—cost of gypsum, ten shillings for twenty bushels. A mowing machine, with two or three horses and one man, can cut, in one day, twelve acres of heavy meadow land, if it stand up; but if laid at all, from six to ten. The number of men employed on the farm is, six for six months, twelve for three months, and twenty-five for three months. Ten horses and five yoke of oxen are kept for farm purposes. The common waggon used weighs eight hundredweight, and holds fifty bushels. Sometimes they are ten hundredweight, and hold one hundred and five bushels.
The wages of the farm servants are:—For those engaged by the year, 2l. 10s. a month; for six months, 2l. 18s. 6d. a month; for three months, 3l. 11s. a month—besides board and lodging, on the former of which they are not likely to find their bones peeping through their skin. They have meat three times a day—pork five days, and mutton two days in the week—a capital pie at dinner; tea and sugar twice a day; milk ad libitum; vegetables twice a day; butter usually three times a day; no spirits nor beer are allowed. The meals are all cooked at the farm, and the overseer eats with the men, and receives from 75l. to 125l. a year, besides board and lodging for his family, who keep the farm-house. When every expense is paid, mine host netts a clear six per cent. on his farm, and I think you will allow that he may go to bed at night with little fear of the nightmare of a starving labourer disturbing his slumbers. Not that he troubles sleep much, for he is the nearest thing to perpetual motion I ever saw, not excepting even the armadillo at the Zoological Gardens, and he has more "irons in the fire" than there were bayonet-points before Sevastopol.
The village contains a population of two thousand inhabitants, and consists of a few streets, the principal of which runs along a terrace, which, being a continuation of the one on which we were lately standing, commands the same lovely view. But, small as is the village, it has four churches, an academy, two banks, two newspaper offices, and a telegraph office. What a slow coach you are, John Bull!
One day I was taking a drive with an amiable couple, who, having been married sixteen or seventeen years, had got well over the mysterious influences of honeymoonism. The husband was acting Jarvey, and I was inside with madame. The roads being in some places very bad, and neither the lady nor myself being feather-weight, the springs were frequently brought down upon one another with a very disagreeable jerk. The lady remonstrated:
"John, I declare these springs are worn out, and the carriage itself is little better."
"Now, Susan, what's the good of your talking that way; you know they are perfectly good, my dear."
"Oh, John! you know what I say is true, and that the carriage has never been touched since we married."
"My dear, if I prove to you one of your assertions is wrong, I suppose you will be ready to grant the others may be equally incorrect."
"Well, what then?" said the unsuspecting wife.
"Why, my dear, I'll prove to you the springs are in perfectly good order," said the malicious husband, who descried a most abominable bit of road ready for his purpose; and, suiting the action to the word, he put his spicy nags into a hand-canter. Bang went the springs together; and, despite of all the laws of gravitation, madame and I kept bobbing up and down, and into one another's laps.
"Oh, John, stop! stop!"
"No, no, my dear, I shall go on till you're perfectly satisfied with the goodness of the springs and the soundness of the carriage."
Resistance was useless; John was determined, and the horses would not have tired in a week; so the victim had nothing for it but to cry peccavi, upon which John moderated his pace gradually, and our elastic bounds ceased correspondingly, until we settled once more firmly on our respective cushions; then John turned round, and, with a mixed expression of malice and generosity, said, "Well, my dear, I do think the carriage wants a new lining, but you must admit they are really good springs." And the curtain fell on this little scene in the drama of "Sixteen Years after Marriage." May the happy couple live to re-enact the same sixty years after marriage!
Our drive brought us to the shore of Lake Canesus, and a lovely scene it was; the banks were in many places timbered to the water's edge by the virgin forest, now radiant with the rich autumnal tints; the afternoon sun shone forth in all its glory from a cloudless sky, on a ripp'less lake, which, like a burnished mirror, reflected with all the truthfulness of nature the gorgeous scene above; and as you gazed on the azure abyss below, it kept receding and receding till the wearied sight of the creature was lost in the fathomless depths of the work of his Almighty Creator. Who has not for the moment imagined that he could realise the infinity of space, as, when gazing at some bright star, he strives to measure the distance of the blue curtain spread behind, which, ever receding, so mocks the efforts of the ambitious eye, that its powers become bewildered in the unfathomable depths of immensity; but I am not sure whether such feelings do not come home to one more powerfully when the eye gazes on the same object through the medium of reflection;—for, as with the bounties of the Creator, so with the wonders of His creation—man is too prone to undervalue them in proportion to the frequency with which they are spread before him; and thus the deep azure vault, so often seen in the firmament above, is less likely to attract his attention and engage his meditations, than when the same glorious scene lies mirrored beneath his feet.
This charming lake has comparatively little cultivation on its borders; two or three cottages, and a few cattle grazing, are the only signs that man is asserting his dominion over the wilderness. One of these cottages belongs to a member of the Wadsworth family, who owns some extent of land in the neighbourhood, and who has built a nice little boat for sailing about in the summer season. I may as well mention in this place, that the roofing generally used for cottages is a wooden tile called "shingle," which is very cheap—twelve-and-sixpence purchasing enough to cover a thousand feet.
While driving about in this neighbourhood, I saw, for the first time, what is termed a "plank-road,"—a system which has been introduced into the United States from Canada. The method of construction is very simple, consisting of two stringers of oak two inches square, across which are laid three-inch planks eight feet long, and generally of hemlock or pine. No spiking of the planks into the stringers is required, and a thin layer of sand or soil being placed over all, the road is made; and, as the material for construction is carried along as the work progresses, the rapidity of execution is astonishing. When completed, it is as smooth as a bowling-green. The only objection I ever heard to these roads is, that the jarring sensation produced by them is very injurious to the horses' legs; but it can hardly be thought that, if the cart were up to the axle and the horse up to the belly-band in a good clay soil, any advantage would be derived from such a primitive state of things. Taking an average, the roads may be said to last from eight to ten years, and cost about L330 a mile. Those in Canada are often made much broader, so as to enable two vehicles to pass abreast, and their cost is a little above L400 a mile. The toll here is about three-farthings a mile per horse. They have had the good sense to avoid the ridiculous wheel-tollage to which we adhere at home with a tenacity only equalled by its folly, as if a two-wheeled cart, with a ton weight of cargo, drawn by a Barclay and Perkinser, did not cut up a road much more than the little four-wheel carriage of the clergyman's wife, drawn by a cob pony, and laden with a tin of soup or a piece of flannel for some suffering parishioner. But as our ancestors adopted this system "in the year dot, before one was invented," I suppose we shall bequeath the precious legacy to our latest posterity, unless some "Rebecca League," similar to Taffy's a few years since, be got up on a grand national scale, in which case tolls may, perhaps, be included in the tariff of free-trade. Until that auspicious event take place,—for I confess to an ever-increasing antipathy to paying any gate,—we might profit in some of our bleak and dreary districts by copying the simple arrangement adopted at many American tolls, which consists of throwing a covered archway over the road; so that if you have to unbutton half-a-dozen coats in a snow-storm to find a sixpence, you are not necessitated to button-in a bucketful of snow, which, though it may cool the body, has a very opposite effect on the temper.
It is bad enough in England; but any one who wishes to enjoy it to perfection had better take a drive from Stirling, crossing the Forth, when, if he select his road happily, he may have the satisfaction of paying half-a-dozen tolls in nearly as many minutes, on the plea that this piece of ground, the size of a cocked-hat-box,—and that piece, the size of a cabbage-garden,—and so on, belong to different counties; and his amusement may derive additional zest if he be fortunate enough to find the same tollman there whom I met some years ago. When passing his toll in a driving snow-storm that penetrated even to the very marrow, I pulled up a few yards beyond the gate, upon which he came out very sulkily, took the half-crown I tendered him, and, walking deliberately back, placed the change on the post of the gate, and said,—"If ye want 'ut, ye may take 'ut; it's no my place to walk half a mile o' the road to gie folk their change;" after which courteous address he disappeared, banging his door to with a sound that fell on the ear very like "Put that in your pipe and smoke it." Precious work I had, with a heavy dog-cart, no servant, and a hack whose mouth was case-hardened. I would willingly have given it up; but I knew the brute (the man, not the horse) would very soon have got drunk upon it; so I persevered until I succeeded, and then went on my road full of thoughts which are, I fear, totally unfit to be committed to paper.
Reader, I must ask you to forgive my wanderings on the banks of the Forth. I hasten back to Geneseo, and pack up ready for to-morrow's start, for the days I had spent with my kind host and his merry family had slipped by so pleasantly I had quite lost count of them. There was but one cloud to our enjoyment—one sad blank in the family group: my sister-in-law, in whose charming society I had fondly hoped to make my first visit to the scenes of her early youth, had been recently summoned to a better world; and the void her absence made in that family circle, of which she was both the radiating and the centring point of affection, was too deeply felt for aught but time ever to eradicate.
Stirring Scenes and Strange Sights.
My host having kindly lent me his carriage and a pair of wiry nags, I started for Batavia to meet the railway. The distance was about thirty miles, and the road in many places execrable—in one part so bad that we had to go through a quarter of a mile of wood, as it was absolutely impassable;—yet, despite all these hindrances, and without pressing the horses in the least, we completed the distance in the three hours, including from five to ten minutes at a half-way house, where we gave them the usual American bait of a bucket of cold water; and when we arrived they were as fresh as four-year-olds, and quite ready to return if need had been. I saw nothing worth remarking during the drive. There was plenty of cultivated land; and plenty of waste, waiting to reward the labourer. All the little villages had their daguerreotype shops except one, and there the deficiency was supplied by a perambulating artist in a tented cart.
When a railway crosses the road, you are expected to see it,—the only warning being a large painted board, inscribed "Look out for the Train." If it be dark, I suppose you are expected to guess it; but it must be remembered that this is the country of all countries where every person is required to look after himself. The train coming up soon after my arrival, I went on to Buffalo, amid a railway mixture of tag-rag-and-bobtail, squalling infancy and expectorating manhood. On arriving at the terminus, I engaged a cab, and, after waiting half an hour, I found that Jarvey was trying to pick up some other "fare," not thinking myself and my servant a sufficient cargo to pay well. I tried to find a railway official; but I might almost as well have looked for a flea in a flower-garden—no badges, no distinctive marks, the station full of all the riff-raff of the town;—it was hopeless. At last, by a lucky accident, I saw a man step into a small office, so I bolted after him, like a terrier after a badger, but I could not draw him; he knew nothing about the cabs—he was busy—nay, in short, he would not be bothered. Having experienced this beautiful specimen of Buffalo railway management, I returned to the open air and lit my cigar. After some time, Cabby, having found that no other "fare" was to be had, condescended to tell me he was ready; so in I got, and drove to the hotel, on entering which I nearly broke my neck over a pyramid of boxes, all looking of one family. They turned out to be the property of Mr. G.V. Brooke, the actor, who had just arrived "to star it" at Buffalo. Supper being ready, as it always is on the arrival of the evening train, I repaired thither, and found the usual wondrous medley which the American tables d'hote exhibit, the usual deafening clatter, the usual profusion of eatables, the usual rapidity of action, and the usual disagreeable odour which is consequent upon such a mass of humanity and food combined. Being tolerably tired, I very soon retired to roost.
What a wondrous place is this Buffalo!—what a type of American activity and enterprise! I had visited it in the year 1826, and then it had only three thousand inhabitants. The theatre, I remember, amused me immensely, the stage and accommodation for spectators barely occupying an area of twenty-five feet square. Mr. G.V. Brooke's boxes, at that time, would have filled the whole house; and here they are in 1852, drawing our metropolitan stars to their boards. Their population has increased twenty-fold, and now exceeds sixty thousand; a splendid harbour, a lighthouse, piers, breakwater, &c., have been constructed, and the place is daily increasing. Churches rear their spiry steeples in every direction. Banks and insurance offices are scattered broadcast. Educational, literary, and benevolent establishments abound, and upwards of a dozen newspapers are published. Land which, during my visit in 1826, you might almost have had for the asking, is now selling at two hundred guineas the foot of frontage for building. Even during the last ten years, the duties collected at the port have increased from L1000 to nearly L14,000. In the year 1852 upwards of four thousand vessels, representing a million and a half of tonnage, cleared at the harbour, and goods to the value of nearly seven millions sterling arrived from the lakes, the greater portion of the cargoes being grain. The value of goods annually delivered by Erie Canal is eight millions. Never was a more energetic hive of humanity than these "Buffalo lads;" and they are going ahead every day, racing pace.
Now, John Bull, come with me to the cliff outside the town, and overhanging the Niagara river. Look across the stream, to the Canada shore, and you will see a few houses and a few people. There they have been, for aught I know, since the creation. The town(!) is called Waterloo, and the couple of dozen inhabitants, despite the rich fruits of industry on which they may gaze daily, seem to regard industry as a frightful scourge to be studiously avoided. Their soil is as rich as, if not richer than, that on the opposite shore: the same lake is spread before them, and the same river runs by their doors. It does, indeed, look hopeless, where such an example, constantly under their eyes, fails to stir them up to action. But, perhaps, you will say, you think you see a movement among the "dry bones." True, my dear Bull, there is now a movement; but, if you inquire, you will find it is a Buffalo movement. It is their energy, activity, and enterprise which, is making a railway to run across Canada to Goderich, by which means they will save, for traffic, the whole length of Lake Erie, and half that of Lake Huron, for all produce coming from the North of Michigan, Wisconsin, &c. So thoroughly is it American enterprise, that, although the terminus of the railway is at Waterloo, the name is ignored; and Buffalo enterprise having carried forward the work, it is styled the "Buffalo, Brentford, and Goderich Line." Truly, John Bull, your colony shows very badly by the side of this same Buffalo. Let us hope increasing intercourse may infuse a little vitality into them.
The train is starting for Niagara, and I am in it, endeavouring to recal the impressions of 1826, which, being but very dim, my anticipations partake of the charm of novelty. While in the middle of a seventh heaven of picturative fancy, the screeching of the break announces the journey's end. As I emerge from the motley group of fellow-passengers, a sound, as of very distant thunder heard through ears stuffed with cotton, is all that announces the neighbourhood of the giant cataract. A fly is speedily obtained, and off I start for the hotel on the Canadian side. Our drive took us along the eastern bank till we reached the suspension-bridge which spans the cliffs of the river. Across this gossamer causeway, vehicles are required to walk, under a heavy penalty for any breach of this rule. The vibration when walking is not very great; but, going at a quick pace, it would undoubtedly be considerable, and might eventually loosen those fastenings on which the aerial pathway depends. Arrived at the other side, I was quite taken aback on being stopped by an official. I found he was merely a pro forma custom-house officer. Not having been schooled in the Old World, he showed none of the ferret, and in a few seconds I was again trotting southwards along the western bank to the Clifton House Hotel. The dull work of life is done, the cab is paid, my room is engaged, and there I am, on the balcony, alone, with the roaring of the cataract in my ears and the mighty cataract itself before my eyes.
What were my first impressions?—That is a difficult question. Certainly, I did not share that feeling of disappointment which some people take pains to express. Such people, if they had dreamt that an unknown friend had left them 100,000l., would feel disappointed if he awoke and found a legacy of 90,000l. lying on their table; or, perhaps, they give expression to their feelings, by way of inducing the public to suppose that their fertile imaginations conceived something far grander than this most glorious work of Nature. If a man propose to go to Niagara for mere beauty, he had better stay at home and look at a lily through a microscope; if to hear a mighty noise, he had better go where the anchors are forged in Portsmouth dockyard; if to see a mighty struggle of waters, he had better take a cruise, on board a pilot-boat, in the Bay of Biscay, during an equinoctial gale; but, if he be content to see the most glorious cataract his Maker has placed upon our globe; if, in a stupendous work of Nature, he have a soul to recognise the Almighty Workman; and if, while gazing thereon, he can travel from Nature up to Nature's God; then, let him go to Niagara, in full assurance of enjoying one of the grandest and most solemnizing scenes that this earth affords. It wants but one qualification to be perfect and complete; that, it had originally when fresh from the hands of its Divine Maker; and of that man has rifled it—I mean solitude.—Palace hotels are very convenient things; energy and enterprise are very valuable qualities, and natural features of American character which I admire; but, seeing how universally everything is sacrificed to the useful and dollar-making, I dread to contemplate the future: for visions rise before me of the woodman's axe levelling the forest timber on Goat Island, which at present shrouds the town; and fancy pictures a line of villas, shops, and mills, ending in a huge hotel, at the edge of the cataract. I trust my vision may never be realized. But my hopes are small; for I invariably observed that, in clearing ground, scarce any attention had been paid to aught else but the best method of getting the best return for the labour bestowed.
Now, reader, I have not told you as yet what my impressions were, as I stood on the balcony gazing at Niagara; and, I pray you take not offence, when I add that I have not the slightest intention of trying to record them. Writing frankly, as I feel, I have said enough for you to glean something of the turn they took, and to see that they were impressions which a pen is too feeble an agent adequately to express. I shall not tax your patience with Table Rock and Goat Island points of view, American and Canadian falls, the respective beauties of the Straight Line and the Horse-shoe; I do not purpose clothing you in Mackintosh, and dragging you with trembling steps along the slimy pathway between the Falls and the rock, to gaze on the sun through the roaring and rolling flood; nor will I draw upon your nerves by a detail of the hair-breadth escapes of Mr. Bumptious and Mrs. Positive, who, when they got half-way along the said path, were seized with panic, and only escaped a header into the boiling caldron by lying flat on their stomachs until the rest of the party had lionized the whole distance, when the guide returned and hauled them out by the heels, like drowned rats out of a sink-hole; nor will I ask you to walk five miles with me, to see the wooden hut, built over a sulphur spring within ten feet of the river, and which is lit by the sulphuretted hydrogen gas thereof, led through a simple tube.
All these, and the rapids above, and the whirlpool below, and the four-and-a-half million horse-power of the Falls, have been so often described by abler pens and more fertile imaginations, that the effort would be a failure and the result a bore.
I have in my possession a collection from the various albums at Niagara; it opens with the following lines by Lord Morpeth, now Earl of Carlisle—
"There's nothing great or bright, thou glorious Fall! Thou may'st not to the fancy's sense recal; The thunder-riven cloud, the lightning's leap, The stirring of the chambers of the deep, Earth's emerald green, and many-tinted dyes, The fleecy whiteness of the upper skies, The tread of armies thickening as they come, The boom of cannon and the beat of drum, The brow of beauty and the form of grace, The passion and the prowess of our race, The song of Homer in its loftiest hour, The unresisted sweep of human power, Britannia's trident on the azure sea, America's young shout of liberty! Oh! may the waves that madden in thy deep, There spend their rage, nor climb the encircling steep,— And till the conflict of thy surges cease, The nations on thy banks repose in peace!"
There are other effusions equally creditable to their authors; but there is also a mass of rubbish, from which I will only inflict two specimens. One, evidently from the pen of a Cockney; and the other, the poetical inspiration of a free and enlightened.
"Next to the bliss of seeing Sarah, Is that of seeing Niagara."
Free and enlightened—
"Of all the roaring, pouring, Spraying streams that dash, Niagara is Number One, All to immortal smash!"
Not desiring to appear to as great disadvantage as either of the two last-quoted writers, I decline the attempt; and, while saving myself, spare the public.
I think, reader, that I have a claim upon your gratitude for not expatiating at greater length upon a theme from which it were easy to fill chapter upon chapter; for, if you are generous, you will throw a veil over the selfish reasons that have produced so happy a result. I will only add one piece of advice, which is, if the pleasure of visiting Niagara would be enhanced by a full larder and a ruck of people, go there "during the season;" but if your pleasure would be greater in visiting it when the hotel is empty, even though the larder be nearly in the same state, follow my example, and go later in the year, by which means you will partially obtain that quiet, without which, I freely confess, I never care to look upon "The Falls" again.
A formidable rival to this magnificent fall of water has-been discovered by that indefatigable traveller, Dr. Livingston. It is called the Mosiotunya Falls, which are thus described:—"They occur," we read ("Outlines of Dr. Livingston's Missionary Journeys," p. 19), "in the most southerly part of the Zambese. Although previously unvisited by any European, Dr. Livingston had often heard of these smoke-resounding falls, which, with points of striking difference from Niagara, are, if possible, more remarkable and not less sublime than that noble cataract. He was therefore anxious to inspect them, and on the 20th of November, 1855, he reached Kalai, a place eight miles west of the Falls. On arriving at the latter, he found that this natural phenomenon was caused by the sudden contraction, or rather compression, of the river, here about 1000 yards broad, which urges its ponderous mass through a narrow rent in the basaltic rock of not more than twenty-five yards, and down a deep cleft, but a little wider, into a basin or trough about thirty yards in diameter, lying at a depth of thirty-five yards. Into this narrow receptacle the vast river precipitated itself. When Dr. Livingston visited the spot, the Zambese flowed through its narrowest channel, and its waters were at their lowest. The effect, however, of its sudden contraction and fall was in the highest degree sublime, and, from the point at which he surveyed it, appalling. For, not satisfied with a distant view of the opening through its rocky barrier, and of the columns of vapour rushing up for 300 to 400 feet, forming a spreading cloud, and then falling in perpetual rain, he engaged a native, with nerves as strong as his own and expert in the management of the canoe, to paddle him down the river, here heaving, eddying, and fretting, as if reluctant to approach the gorge and hurl itself down the precipice to an islet immediately above the fall, and from one point of which he could look over its edge into the foaming caldron below, mark the mad whirl of its waters, and stand in the very focus of its vapoury columns and its deafening roar. But unique and magnificent as was the cataract when Dr. Livingston beheld it, the reports of others, and the inference drawn by himself, satisfied him that the spectacle was tame compared with what occurs during the rainy season, when the river flows between banks many miles apart, and still forces its augmented waters through the same fissure into the same trough. At these times the columns of spray may be seen, and the sound heard ten or twelve miles distant."
My traps are all in the ferry-boat: I have crossed the river, been wound up the opposite bank, paid my fare, and am hissing away for Rochester. What thoughts does Rochester give rise to? If you are a commercial man, you will conjure up visions of activity and enterprise; if you are an inquirer into mysteries and manners, your dreams will be of "spirit-rapping and Bloomers." Coming fresh from Buffalo, I confess I was rather interested in the latter. But here I am at the place itself, and lodged in an hotel wonderfully handy to the station; and before the front door thereof railways are interlaced like the meshes of a fisherman's net. Having no conversable companion, I take to my ever faithful and silent friend, the fragrant cigar, and start for a stroll. There is a bookseller's shop at the corner; I almost invariably feel tempted to stop when passing a depot for literature, especially in a strange place; but on the present occasion a Brobdignagian notice caught my eye, and gave me a queer sensation inside my waistcoat—"Awful smash among the Banks!" Below, in more Lilliputian characters, followed a list of names. I had just obtained notes of different banks for my travelling expenses, and I knew not how many thereof might belong to the bankrupt list before me; a short examination sufficed, and with a quieted mind, I continued my stroll and my cigar.
The progress of Rochester has not been so rapid as that of Buffalo; in 1826 they made a pretty fair start, and at present Rochester has only a little above forty thousand, while, as we said a few pages back, Buffalo has sixty thousand. Rochester has the disadvantage of not being built quite on the lake, as Buffalo may be said to be; moreover, the carrying on Lake Ontario is not so great as on Lake Erie. Both towns enjoy the rich advantages of the Erie canal, and Rochester is benefited by water-power in a way Buffalo is not. Genesee river, in a distance of three miles, falls nearly two hundred and thirty feet, and has three cascades, the greatest of which is upwards of one hundred feet; this power has not been overlooked by the Rochesterians, who have established enormous flour-mills in consequence, using up annually three million bushels of wheat. As one of the Genesee falls was close to the town, I bent my steps thither; the roads were more than ankle deep in mud, and I had some difficulty in getting to the spot; when there, the dreary nakedness of the banks and the matter-of-factism of a huge mill, chased even the very thought of beauty from my mind: whether man stripped the banks, or Nature, I cannot say, but I should rather "guess" it was man.
I was puddling back full of disappointment, and had just got upon the wooden pavement, which is a trottoir upon the plank-road system, when I saw a strange sail ahead, with rather a novel rig; could it be?—no! yes!—no! yes!—yes, by George! a real, living Rochester Bloomer was steering straight for me. She was walking arm-in-arm with a man who looked at a distance awfully dirty; upon closer examination, I found the effect was produced by his wearing all his face-hair close clipped, like a hunter's coat in the season: but I had but little time to spare upon him—the Bloomer was the star of attraction: on she came with a pretty face, dark hair, eyes to match, and a good figure; she wore a black beaver hat, low crown, and broad brim; round the hat was tied, in a large bow, a bright red ribbon: under a black silk polka, which fitted to perfection, she had a pair of chocolate-coloured pantaloons, hanging loosely and gathered in above the ankles, and a neat pair of little feet were cased in a sensible pair of boots, light, but at the same time substantial. A gap occurring in the trottoir, and the roads being shockingly muddy, I was curious to see how Bloomer faced the difficulty; it never seemed to give her a moment's thought: she went straight at it, and reached the opposite side with just as much ease as her companion.
Now, reader, let us change the scene and bring before you one with which you are probably not unfamiliar. Place—A muddy crossing near a parish school. Time—Play hours. Dramatis personae—An old lady and twenty school-boys. Scene—The old lady comes sailing along the footways, doing for nothing that for which sweepers are paid; arrived at the crossing, a cold shudder comes over her as she gazes in despair at the sea of mud she must traverse; behold now the frantic efforts she is making to gather up the endless mass of gown, petticoats, and auxiliaries with which custom and fashion have smothered her; her hands can scarcely grasp the puckers and the folds; at last she makes a start, exhibiting a beautifully filled pair of snow-white stockings; on she goes, the journey is half over; suddenly a score of urchin voices are heard in chorus, "Twig her legs, twig her legs." The irate dame turns round to reprove them by words, or wither them with a glance; but alas! in her indignation she raises a threatening hand, forgetful of the important duties it was fulfilling, and down go gown, petticoats, and auxiliaries in the filthy mire; the boys of course roar with delight—it's the jolliest fun they have had for many a day; the old lady gathers up her bundle in haste, and reaches the opposite side with a filthy dress and a furious temper. Let any mind, unwarped by prejudice and untrammelled by custom, decide whether the costume of the Rochester Bloomer or of the old lady be the more sensible.
I grant that I have placed before you the two extremes, and I should be as sorry to see my fair friends in "cut o' knee" kilts, as I now am to see them in "sweep-the-ground gowns," &c. "But," cries one, "you will aim a blow at female delicacy!" A blow, indeed! when all that female delicacy has to depend upon is the issue of a struggle between pants and petticoats, it will need no further blow: it is pure matter of fashion and custom. Do not girls wear a Bloomer constantly till they are fourteen or fifteen, then generally commence the longer dress? And what reason can be given but custom, which, in so many articles of dress, is ever changing? How long is it since the dressing of ladies' hair for Court was a work of such absurd labour and nicety, that but few artists were equal to the task, and, consequently, having to attend so many customers, ladies were often obliged to have their hair dressed the day before, and sit up all night that the coiffure might remain perfect? Or how long is it since ladies at Court used to move about like human balloons, with gowns hooped out to such an extent that it was a work of labour and dexterity to get in and out of a carriage; trains, &c., to match? Hundreds of people, now living, can not only remember these things, but can remember also the outcry with which the proposal of change was received. Delicacy, indeed! I should be glad to know what our worthy grandmammas would think of the delicacy of the present generation of ladies, could they but see them going about with nothing but an oyster-shell bonnet stuck at the back of their heads! Take another remnant of barbarism, handed down to us in the shape of powder. Masters have taken care of themselves, and got rid of the abomination; so have upper servants; but so wedded are some people to the habit, that they still continue to pay a poll-tax of 1l. 3s. 6d. for the pleasure of powdering and plastering their footmen's heads, as if they had just escaped from a flour-mill and passed a greasy hand over their hair: will any one deny, that the money spent in the tax would promote "John's" comfort and cleanliness much more, if expended in good baths, brown Windsor, and small-tooth combs.
Pardon me, reader, I feel that there is no analogy between a Bloomer and a small-tooth comb; it is from following out the principle of recording the reflections which what I saw gave rise to, that I have thus wandered back to the old country; with your permission, we are again at Rochester, and the Bloomer has gone out of sight round the corner.
The shades of evening having closed in upon me, I retired to roost. My head was snugly bedded in my pillow; I was in that charmingly doubtful state in which thoughts and dreams have become imperceptibly blended. Suddenly there was a trumpet-blast, loud as a thunder-clap, followed by bells ringing as rapidly as those of the churches in Malta; as these died away, the hum of human voices and the tread of human feet along the passages followed, and then all was once more hushed in silence. I turned over, gave the clothes an extra jerk, and again sought the land of dreams. Vain and delusive hope!—trains seemed starting or arriving every half-hour, and the whole night was spent 'mid the soothing varieties of mineral trumpets and bells, and animal hoofs and tongues, till from sheer exhaustion, about five A.M., I dropped off into a snooze, which an early start rendered it necessary to cut short soon after seven.
Mem.—What a nice thing it is to put up at an hotel quite handy to a railway station.
Reader, you are doubtless aware that Rochester is on Lake Ontario, and a considerable distance from New York; but I must nevertheless beg you to transport yourself to the latter place, without going through the humdrum travelling routine of—stopped here, stopped there, ate here, ate there, which constituted the main features of my hasty journey thither, undertaken for the purpose of seeing my brother off, on his return to Europe, which duty bringing me within the yachting waters of New York, I think this a legitimate place for a chapter on the "Black Maria."
Construction and Destruction.
The "Black Maria" is a vessel so unique in every respect, that the most detailed description of her cannot but be most interesting to all yachting men; and, so far from apologizing for the length of my observations, I would rather crave indulgence for the scanty information which this chapter will afford; but as it must prove pre-eminently dull to those who are ignorant of such matters, I would entreat them to pass it over, lest, getting through the first page, their ideas become bewildered, and, voting me a bore, they throw down the book, subjoining a malediction upon my poor innocent head.
The following notes were furnished me by Commodore Stevens and his brother, who were the designers and builders of this extraordinary yacht, and I therefore can vouch for their accuracy.
In case the term "centre-board" should be unknown to my reader, it may be as well to explain that it means a board passing longitudinally through the keel, above which a strong water-tight case is fixed for its reception; it is raised and lowered by hand or by machinery, according to its weight. The advantages proposed by the centre-board are—the stability it gives to the vessel on a wind when let down; the resistance it removes if, when running before the wind, it be raised; the small draught of water which the vessel requires, thereby enabling her to keep close in-shore out of the influence of strong tides, &c.; and, lastly, the facility for getting afloat again, by merely raising the centre-board, should she take the ground. To proceed with the notes:—
THE CUTTER YACHT "BLACK MARIA."
Displacement, 145 tons.
Draught of water on straight keel, 5 feet 2 inches.
Length of straight keel, 60 feet, then running away in a curving line upwards, till at the bow it draws 10 inches.
Length of centre-board, 24 feet.
Total depth of ditto, 15 feet; weight, 7 tons.
Foremost end of ditto, about 8 feet abaft the foremost end of straight keel.
When let down, it descends 10 feet at the further end, and 8 feet at the foremost. It is made of oak, with sufficient lead let in to make it sink. By an ingenious mechanical contrivance one man is enabled to raise and lower it with perfect facility.
There is another centre-board abaft, about 10 feet from the stern, which is 8 feet long, with a total depth of 9 feet, and, when down, extending 5 feet below the keel.
Length over all, 113 feet.
The extreme beam is 26-1/2 feet at 40 feet from the rudder-post running aft to about 19 feet at taffrail; forward, it decreases about 20 inches when abreast of mast, thence runs away sharp to about four feet at the bow.
The mainmast is placed about 5 feet abaft the end of straight keel; it is 92 feet long, housing 8 feet: the diameter in the partners is 32 inches, tapering off to 23 inches at the hounds. The mast is made of white pine, the centre of it is bored out, for the lowest twenty feet about 12 inches diameter—the next 20 feet, 10 inches diameter—the next 20 feet, 8 inches, and the remainder 7 inches. This was done to make the mast lighter, and, by the circulation of air, enable it to season itself.
The main boom is 95 feet long[F] and made like a cask. The staves are 31 in number, of white pine, 2-1/4 inches thick; the staves are of different lengths, so as to vary the points at which they respectively abut. The extreme length of boom is obtained by two lengths of the staves; small cogs of wood are let in at intervals, half in one stave and half in its neighbour, so as to keep them from drawing, the whole bound together with strong hoops fitted with screws. The extreme diameter of the boom is 26 inches where the sheets are fixed, tapering off at the jaws, and 13 inches at the boom end. To give additional support to the boom, an iron outrigger, extending about 3 feet on each side thereof, is fixed where the boom-sheets are placed, and a strong iron brace extends from the jaws through the outrigger to the boom end. The gaff is of spruce, 61 feet long and 9 inches diameter.
The bowsprit is of white pine, 38 feet long, 18 of which is outboard; the remainder comes under the deck, is let in to each beam, and abuts against the bitts: it is 24 inches diameter, and bored out like the mast, from 10 inches diameter at the heel to 7 at the end. The jibboom is made of two pieces of yellow pine, grooved out and hooped together; it is about 70 feet long and about 8 inches in diameter; the foot of the jib is laced to this spar on hooks (when required).
The mainsail is made with the seams horizontal, to avoid the resistance perpendicular seams in so large a sail would offer to the wind. It has been calculated that the resistance of perpendicular seams, in a sail of this size, is equal to that of a plank 10 inches broad and 60 feet long, placed on end broadside to the wind; the luff of the sail is 66 feet; the foot, 93; the head, 50; the head and foot of the sail are laced to battens under gaff and on boom; the luff is brought to the mast by a contrivance as original as it is perfect; two battens are fixed on afterpart of the mast, about an inch and a half apart, the inner parts shod with iron, and rather broader than the exterior opening. To each eyelet-hole of the sail a strong brass-plate is fixed, having 4 rollers traversing fore and aft, and 2 transversely; these plates, as the sail goes up, are slipped into the grooves of the battens, the rollers preventing friction, and the battens keeping the luff fixed to the after centre line of the mast—without this ingenious arrangement the huge mast would, if on a wind, becalm at least three feet of the sail—three lazy-jacks are fitted to support the huge mass of canvas when lowering the sail.
The jib is 69 feet in the hoist, and 70 in the foot.
The bobstays are of solid iron, running 8 feet on each side of the keel, and going through a strong iron cap over the bowsprit end, where, a strong iron washer being put on, they are securely fixed with a nut.
It will be seen that there is a slight discrepancy between some of the measurements which I have given, and those which are marked on the print; I place confidence in those I have received direct from the fountain-head; the difference is, however, so trifling, as scarce to need any notice. I regret omitting to obtain the length of the after-leech of the mainsail, and of the head of the jib; but I think the print, which I believe to be very accurate, would justify me in concluding that the former is about 110 feet and the latter about 120 feet.
Assuming those calculations to be correct—and they cannot be very far wrong—the mainsail would contain about 5790 square feet, and the jib about 2100 square feet. When it is remembered that the largest sail in the British Navy only contains 5480 square feet, some conception may be formed of their gigantic proportions.
The gallant commodore was kind enough to trip his anchor and give me a short cruise. Unfortunately, there was scarcely a breath of wind; but even under the influence of such scanty propelling power, the way she shot through the water, like a dolphin in full cry, was perfectly marvellous; and the ease with which she came round, and the incredible distance she shot ahead in stays, was, if possible, more astonishing still; she steered as easy as a jolly-boat; or if, when running, a puff made her refractory, by dropping the after centre-board she became as docile as a lamb. My only regret was that I could not see her under the high pressure of a good snorter. Of course, any salt-water fish will have long since discovered that this wonderful yacht is a leviathan plaything, and totally unfit to withstand the most moderate gale, especially if any sea were running. What she might do if she were sparred, as other vessels of her tonnage usually are, I cannot pretend to say; but my yachting friends need never expect to see her, with her present rig, re-enacting the "America," hurling friendly defiance at the R.Y.C., and carrying off the crown of victory in their own waters.
But if any of my Cowes friends are anxious to test the powers of the "Maria," the gallant commodore will be happy to accommodate them, and—as he expressed it to me—will further rejoice at having an opportunity of returning some of the many hospitalities which made his short stay in England so agreeable to him. The only complaint I heard him make of the rules of the yachting at Cowes, was the want of some restriction as to vessels entering shallow water, by which omission a yacht with a light draught of water is enabled sometimes to draw ahead of her competitors by simply hugging the land out of the full swing of the tide, while others are forced, from their deeper draught of water, to struggle against its full force. As, in my humble opinion, the observation is a perfectly just one, I insert it here for the consideration of those whom it may concern.
The accommodation on board is not nearly so good as in an English yacht, partly owing to the little height between decks, consequent upon her very small draught of water, and partly owing to the great space taken up by the case for the centre-board; besides which, it should be remembered that a yacht is not used as a home in America in the same way as in England. The great, and, I might almost say, the only quality, transatlantic yachtsmen care about is speed; and I think my yachting friends at Cowes must admit that they have proved that they know how to attain their end, and that Mr. Steers, the builder of the "America," is second to none in his craft; unless the "Black Maria" some future day assume a practicable rig, and, crossing the Atlantic, earn the victor's laurels, in which case Steers will have to yield the palm to the worthy fraternity, who are at one and the same time the owners, builders, and sailers of the subject of this chapter.
I believe it is very generally considered that the wind-up of a day's sport is by no means the least enjoyable portion of the twenty-four hours, when it comes in the shape of good fellowship and good cheer; and upon the present occasion we had both alike undeniable of their kind. The commodore's cellar is as rich a rarity in its way as the Bernal collection, and, from the movement of the corks, I should imagine it was upon an equally large scale. I do not purpose inflicting a bill of fare upon you; but, having, in the foregoing pages, made a promise to furnish the proper recipe for Toddy and Chowder, I consider this the proper place to redeem that promise, under the guidance of my hospitable host, who initiated me fully into the mysteries of mixture, proportion, &c., by making both before me.
Whether it is of great importance to adhere exactly to the recipes, I cannot pretend to say; the soup was pronounced on all hands to be most excellent, and some of the knowing ones declared it was unusually good. We afterwards found out a good reason for its superior excellence. It appears that the commodore had given some instructions to the steward, which he evidently had not understood, for, upon asking that functionary towards the end of dinner for a bottle of fine old Madeira which had been kept back as a bonnebouche, he gave a wild stare-of astonishment, and said he had put it all into the chowder. This little addition, I can testify, most certainly did not spoil it. The toddy was not subject to any such unwarrantable addition; and, if I may judge from the quantity taken by my neighbours, they all found it as delicious a drink as I did myself.
TODDY.—4 tumblers of water: 1 ditto, sugar: peel of 5 lemons, and dessert spoon of the juice: add a few pieces of peach and pine-apple, and some strawberries. Quarter of an hour before use, throw in 2 tumblers of old rum and a lump or two of block ice.
CHOWDER.—Saucepan ready, frizzle pork and onions till quite brown; put a layer at bottom of the saucepan—saucerful;—on that, a layer of mashed potatoes—soup-plateful;—on that, raw sea-bass,[G] cut in lumps 4 lbs.;—on that, pork and onions as before;—add half a nutmeg, spoonful of mace, spoonful of cloves, and double that quantity of thyme and summer savory; another layer of mashed potatoes, 3 or 4 Crackers,[H] half a bottle of ketchup, half a bottle of claret, a liberal pinch of black, and a small pinch of red pepper. Just cover this with boiling water, and put it on the fire till the fish is cooked.
The gallant commodore and his brother are now employed in building an iron bomb-proof floating battery, four hundred feet long, intended as a harbour defence. What guns she is destined to mount is a question which has not been definitively settled.
In so large a community as that of New York, the supply of water forms a subject of the highest importance, especially when the rapid increase of the population is taken into account. Some conception of this extraordinary increase may be formed from the statistical fact that the city, which in the year of Independence contained only 35,000 inhabitants, has now 850,000, if the suburbs are included; nearly 4000 vessels enter the port annually, bearing merchandise valued at 25,500,000l., and bringing 300,000 emigrants, of whom one-third are Irish and one-third German. The tonnage of New York is upwards of a million, or equal to one-fourth of that of the whole Union: the business of the city gives employment to upwards of fifty banks. Religion is represented by 250 churches, of which 46 are Presbyterian, and 45 are Episcopalian. The Press sends forth 155 papers, of which 14 are published daily and 58 weekly.
This short sketch will suffice to show that the city required a supply of water upon a gigantic scale. The difficulties were increased by the situation of the town, which is built upon the eastern extremity of an island—Manhattan—fourteen miles long and two broad, the highest point of which is but two hundred and thirty-eight feet above the level of the sea. Various plans for supplying water had been attempted without success, and the health of the population was suffering so much in consequence, that at last American energy, which here had been long dormant, rose like a giant refreshed and commenced that imperishable monument, the Croton aqueduct.[I]
It is impossible to convey any idea of this stupendous work without figures; but I will endeavour to draw upon your patience as little as possible. My authority is a work published by Mr. Schramke in English, French, and German, and full of explanatory details and plans, &c. Mr. Schramke being one of the corps of engineers employed upon the work, I conclude his statements are peculiarly accurate. Long discussions, patient investigations, and careful surveys, combined to fix the position for commencing operations upon the Croton river, forty and a half miles from New York, and five miles below a small lake of the same name. All the preliminaries had been hitherto carried on under the superintendence of Major Douglas, professor of engineering at the Military Academy at West Point; but, owing to some disagreements, Mr. J.B. Jervis was the engineer eventually selected to carry out the undertaking. It is but just to mention his name, as the skill exhibited entitles him to lasting fame. By the construction of a substantial dam, the water was raised 40 feet, and a collecting reservoir formed, of 500,000,000 gallons, above the level that would allow the aqueduct to discharge 35,000,000 gallons a day. This stupendous work consists of a covered way seven feet broad and eight feet and a half high; in its course it has to pass through sixteen tunnellings, forming an aggregate of nearly 7000 feet; to cross the river Harlem by a bridge 1450 feet long and 114 feet above tide water, and to span various valleys. The receiving reservoir outside the town gives a water surface of 31 acres, and contains 150,000,000 gallons; it is divided into two separate compartments, so that either may be emptied for cleansing or repair. From this point the water is carried on, by three 36-inch pipes, to the distributing reservoir, which is 386 feet square and 42 feet deep, but filled generally to the depth of 38 feet, and then holding 21,000,000 gallons. From this point it radiates throughout the city by means of 134 miles of pipes, varying in size from 4 to 36 inches. There is an average fall of 14 inches in the mile; and the supply, if required, can be increased to 60,000,000 gallons daily. The total cost was 2,500,000l.; the revenue derived from it is 100,000l. a year, moderate-sized houses paying 2l., and others in proportion.
In conclusion, I would observe that this grand work is entitled to notice from the skill displayed by the engineers, the quantity of the supply, and the quality of the article, which latter is nearly as good as sherry cobbler—not quite. If my reader has been inveigled into reading the foregoing details, and has got bored thereby, a gallon of Croton water is an admirable antidote; but, as that may not be available, I would suggest a cobbler, and another page or two; the latter upon the principle adopted by indiscreet drinkers, of "taking a hair of the dog that bit them."
The concluding passage of the last paragraph reminds me of a practice which, I have no doubt, the intense heat of a New York summer renders very advisable, if not absolutely necessary—viz., the canine auto-da-fe, which takes place in July. The heart sickens at the thought of the wholesale murder of "man's most faithful companion," and the feeling increases when you read that sometimes more than a thousand dogs fall victims to the law in one season; but that very fact is the strongest point which can be urged in its justifications for the dry hot atmosphere of the summer affords a ready stepping-stone to hydrophobia, and the larger the canine family, the greater the danger of that fearful and incurable disease.
Upon a certain day, the mayor of New York offers the usual reward of 2s. for every dog, which, having been found unmuzzled in the streets, is brought to the canine pound. However judicious this municipal regulation may be, it cannot fail to strike the reader as offering one most objectionable feature, in the golden harvest which it enables those astute rogues, the dog-stealers, to reap. Any one conversant with the irresistible nostrums possessed by those rascals, can readily understand what an extensive field is hereby opened up to them; and, if one can form a just opinion by comparing the number of dogs one habitually meets in the streets with the multitude that are reputed to fall victims under the official mandate, they certainly make the most of their opportunity.
To any admirer of the race, the inside of the pound must be a most painful and revolting spectacle: there may be seen, lying side by side, "dignity and impudence," the fearless bull and the timid spaniel, the bloated pug and the friendly Newfoundland, the woolly lap-dog and the whining cur; some growling in defiance, some whimpering in misery, some looking imploringly—their intelligent eyes challenging present sympathy on the ground of past fidelity—all, all in vain: the hour that summons the Mussulman to prayer, equally silently tolls their death-knell; yon glorious sun, setting in a flood of fire, lights them to their untimely grave; one ruthless hand holds the unconscious head, another with deadly aim smashes the skull and scatters the brain—man's faithful friend is a corpse.
Owners are allowed to reclaim their property before sunset, on payment of the 2s. reward; the best-looking dogs are sometimes kept for two or three days, as purchasers are frequently found. The price, after the first day, is, the killer's fee and the food given, in addition to the original reward; altogether, it rarely exceeds 8s. The owner has to purchase like any other person. The bodies are all taken away to be boiled down for their fat, and the skins go to the tanners. Let us now turn from this disgusting subject to something more agreeable.
I have already alluded to the great fancy Americans have for trotters. The best place to see "turns out" is the Bloomingdale road, which runs out of New York, nearly parallel with the Hudson, and separated from it only by the country villas, &c., built on the banks of that noble stream. This drive may be called a purely democratic "Rotten-row," as regards its being the favourite resort; but there the similarity ceases. To the one, people go to lounge, meet friends, and breathe fresh air on horseback; to the other, people go with a fixed determination to pass everybody, and on wheels. To the one, people go before dinner; to the other, after.
A friend of mine having offered me a feed, and a seat behind a pair of three-minuters, the offer was too good to be refused. The operation of getting into one of these four-wheel waggons, looks perplexing enough, as the only rest for the feet, which appears, is the cap of the axle; but, upon pulling the horses' heads into the middle of the street, and thus locking the fore-wheels, a stop is discovered, which renders the process easy. It is difficult to say which is the more remarkable, the lightness of the waggon, or the lightness of the harness; either is sufficient to give a nervous feeling of insufficiency to a stranger who trusts himself to them for the first time; but experience proves both their sufficiency and their advantage. In due time, we reached the outer limits of the town; struggling competitors soon appeared, and, in spite of dust as plentiful as a plague of locusts, every challenge was accepted; a fair pass once made, the victor was satisfied, and resumed a more moderate pace. We had already given one or two the go-by, when we heard a clattering of hoofs close behind us, and the well-known cry, "G'lang." My friend let out his three-minuters, but ere they reached their speed, the foe was well on our bow, and there he kept, bidding us defiance. It is, doubtless, very exciting to drive at the rate of twenty miles an hour, and though the horses' hoofs throw more gravel down your throat in five minutes than would suffice a poultry-yard for a week, one does not think of it at the time.
On we flew; our foe on two wheels and single harness every now and then letting us get abreast of him, and then shooting ahead like an arrow from a bow. A few trials showed us the struggle was useless: we had to deal with a regular "pacer," and—as I have elsewhere remarked—their speed is greater than that of any fair trotter, although so fatiguing that they are unable to keep it up for any great distance; but as we had already turned the bottom of the car into a gravel-pit, we did not think it worth while to continue the amusement. The reason may be asked why these waggons have such low splashboards as to admit all the gravel? The reason is simple. Go-ahead is the great desideratum, and they are kept low to enable you to watch the horses' hind legs; by doing which, a knowing Jehu can discover when they are about to break into a gallop, and can handle "the ribands" accordingly.