Our American Cousins (5)

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CHAPTER XXI.

AMERICAN INVENTIVENESS—TELEPHONES—THE ELECTRIC LIGHT—NEW YORK SQUARES—CLEVELAND, OHIO—FIRE ALARMS-EFFICIENCY OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENTS—ELEVATORS—HOUSE-MOVING -THE ELEVATED RAILWAYS OF NEW YORK—BROOKLYN SUSPENSION BRIDGE.


IT is commonly understood that the high rate of wages prevailing in the United States as has led to a greater adaptation of mechanical appliances to all the purposes for which machinery can be used than would otherwise have been the case.  Whether this theory of cause and effect be correct or not, certain it is that American inventors are wonderfully ingenious, that American inventions are exceedingly numerous, and that American "notions" find a ready market all over the world.  It is to America that we are largely indebted for many of the laboursaving machines now in common use.  The sewing machine, the steam plough, the reaping machine—these and a variety of other inventions of the same kind have been originated, or at least vastly improved, by our American cousins.  Nothing that can be possibly done by machinery is done by hand in that marvellous country beyond the Atlantic.  I have already described one ingenious contrivance which is there employed—the grip car.  Something, however, that may interest English readers yet remains to be said about other contrivances which are either unknown or only partially adopted in the old country.

    Mr. Herbert Spencer has expressed his astonishment that small and comparatively insignificant towns in America had generally availed themselves of one of the most recent inventions of the age, the telephone.  According to statistics lately published by the International Telephone Company, more than double the number of persons subscribe for the use of the apparatus in New York than in London, though the former city has scarcely a quarter of the population of the latter.  Even Chicago, which has only about the eighth part of the population of our metropolis, has upwards of a thousand more subscribers.  There are towns in America which are little more than mere villages that yet contain from thirty to fifty citizens who participate in the advantages of telephonic communication.  While the number of telephones in use in London is about one to every three thousand of the inhabitants, there are towns in America, some of them of less than a thousand population, that can boast of a telephone for every twenty inhabitants!  This single illustration goes far to establish the fact that our cousins are very much in advance of ourselves in the matter of adapting to the various concerns of life the mechanical discoveries of our time.

    Electricity is, of course, extensively employed for other purposes in America.  Indeed, the telegraph wires, stretched between enormous poles, are so numerous in the main streets of most American cities that they impart to the houses the appearance of being covered with gigantic cobwebs.  Looking along Broadway, New York, one sees the bright, white, moonlight effect of electric lamps every here and there—here in front of a store, there in front of a theatre, beyond in front of an hotel.  Electricity has superseded gas in the interior arrangements of not a few hotels and shops.  Within a few weeks Mr. Edison placed about 16,000 lamps in the stores and offices of New York alone.  It is, however, in the streets and squares that the new light is most conspicuous.  Miles of thoroughfares are illuminated in this manner.  The effect of the light in the squares of the Empire City can scarcely be described, so weird and so beautiful is it.  Enormous standards, rising far above the trees, are erected in the centre of each square.  From these standards the light is thrown down upon the trees in such a way as to give them a fairy-like aspect.  Except for the temperature, it would be easy to imagine, even on summer nights, that they were covered with hoar frost.  Immediately beneath the standards the shadow of every leaf and branch of the interposing trees is imprinted on the asphalt.  As the leaves themselves flutter in the passing breeze, the shadows they cast, on the pavement below appear very like living objects.  Such is the delicate tracery figured on the footways that the pedestrian who makes his first acquaintance with the phenomenon feels almost afraid to walk lest his footsteps should obliterate the lovely handiwork of the electric light.  But it is in the city of Cleveland that electricity has been most thoroughly utilised for street lighting purposes.  Three lofty standards, constructed of iron tubes, and towering high above all the buildings in the neighbourhood, are placed in different parts of the centre of the city.  Long stretches of the broad and straight thoroughfares of Cleveland are thus lighted without any other artificial aid whatever.  Boston, however, is not going to be beaten by the Forest City; for a company has been formed there to utilise the patent of M. Faure, so as to supply electricity from the cells at such a rate as to make it cheaper than gas.  Electricity is turned to further use at Niagara, where the wonderful falls are illuminated on summer nights from both the American and Canadian sides of the Niagara river.  Powerful lines of light, thrown upon the thundering waters from numerous points, present one of the great wonders of the world in a new aspect.  As coloured glasses are now and then placed in front of some of the lights, effects are produced which cannot be witnessed with- exciting admiration.

    The greatest discovery of the age is applied to more useful purposes still in connection with the famous fire departments of American cities.  Little boxes, sometimes attached to telegraph poles, at others placed against houses, may be seen in most populous towns.  These boxes contain an apparatus for giving alarm in case of accident.  When a fire breaks out, the citizen who makes the discovery obtains a key from the person who keeps it (usually a store-keeper), opens the lid of a box, and touches a spring or handle, which instantly conveys the information to the central office.  The officer on duty at the central office telegraphs to the engine houses nearest to the scene of the disaster.  So far, we have no more than an ordinary application of electrical science.  But perhaps the most singular and ingenious feature of the affair is, that the same electric current which carries the alarm of the fire sets in motion the means of extinguishing it.  Men are always on duty at the various fire stations, horses are always kept waiting for action, and the fires of the engines are always ready lighted.  The horses are trained in such a manner that they know as well what to do as the men who have charge of them.  The message, then, that summons the firemen at the same time unchains the horses and throws open the doors of their stalls.  The intelligent animals, immediately they are released, walk straight to the shafts of the engine.  Meantime, the firemen, whose quarters are in the rooms above, without waiting to make use of the stairs, slide down brass rods through an aperture in the floor.  I was informed at a station I visited in Chicago that a fire engine can be got out into the streets, with horses and attendants equipped, in twenty seconds after receiving the alarm!  An instance of the wonderful expedition of the fire department came under my notice in New Haven.  There had been a procession of veterans, firemen, and municipal officers on Decoration Day.  Some time after the processionists had been dismissed on College Green, the clanging of the fire bell startled the crowds of holiday people who still thronged the streets.  Within five minutes, probably within two minutes, from the first tolling of the bell, three or four fire engines, all with steam up, and all with hose and ladders ready for operations, were stationed in front of the burning building.  It was fortunate in this case, however, that the fire was of a slight character; but although the services of the engines were not required, the circumstance showed how thoroughly efficient is the whole system.  It may be added that experiments have lately been tried in New York with iron towers fifty feet high for the more effectual discharge of water into lofty buildings.

    Another invention of which more use is made in America than in England is the elevator.  Every hotel of any importance, every dry goods store of fair size, and almost every block of buildings of upwards of two storeys, is supplied with one or more of these "vertical railways."  A traveller arriving at an American hotel, after entering his name at the office, is directed to the elevator, which carries him up to the floor on which his bed-room is situated.  Customers visiting an extensive dry goods store, such as that of A. T. Stewart in New York, or that of Marshall and Field in Chicago, can reach any part of these enormous establishments without ascending a single step of the stairs.  So it is with premises devoted to the offices of lawyers, merchants, etc.  The elevator takes the visitor from the ground floor to any part of the building where the lawyer or merchant whom he wishes to consult may happen to have his quarters.  The same conveniences are provided at the Capitol in Washington, at the City Hall in New York, at the State House in Boston, and in fact at all the public buildings of any pretension in America.  A friend in New York took me to see a new block of buildings which had just been finished in that city.  This block, eleven storeys high, was constructed almost entirely of uninflammable materials-iron, stone, cement, etc.  The windows of the rooms of the upper floor commanded a view not only of New York and its splendid harbour, but of Brooklyn, Hoboken, Jersey City, and the country round about.  Three elevators, placed alongside each other, are kept constantly travelling up and down this stupendous structure.  Anyone, therefore, wishing to see an occupant of rooms on any floor of the building, had never to wait many seconds before obtaining the means of access without the trouble of climbing the stairs.  The invention of the elevator has increased enormously the value of land in the large cities of America, since the higher floors of business premises can be as easily reached as those near the ground.  A writer in Harper's Magazine has pointed out that it has also had another singular result.  "The vertical railway," he says, "has made a great change in the appearance of New York.  Twenty years ago, the city, when seen from the water or from adjoining places, presented an outline that was comparatively flat and uninteresting.  To-day it is very different.  The towering masses of its great buildings and the variety of their architectural forms give to its contour a much greater interest, and impart to it a picturesqueness that no other American city enjoys.  Passengers crossing from the Jersey side early enough to see the sun rise behind the city cannot be insensible to the beauties of the scene.  Exalted in the haze of the morning, towering in impressive outlines dimmed and softened by the vapours of the awakening city, New York puts on an aspect far more poetical and beautiful than one half of her inhabitants could imagine."

    Stories of the manner in which our cousins are in the habit of raising and removing their houses are so common that everybody must have heard of them.  One such story, as I remember, relates how a man was boasting of the feat he had accomplished in changing the location of his house, how another thought to compel his companion to take a "back seat" by describing a still more wonderful achievement, and how the first, not to be outdone, declared that he afterwards went back and fetched the cellar!  House moving, however, is really a common occurrence in America—so common that I noticed a signboard in Chicago announcing that Julius F. Tompkins followed the occupation of "house-mover."  It was in the same city that I saw three houses on one of the main roads being taken from one part of the city to another.  And one of the houses which were thus wandering about was still occupied, the family who inhabited it carrying on all the domestic work they were accustomed to perform when the place was stationary.  Of course the structures which are treated in this way are mainly built of wood.  But stone and brick buildings, even some of enormous size, are now and then raised from their original level.  If an hotel becomes so popular as to need an additional storey, cases have been known where that addition has been made without the guests either leaving the premises or being in any manner inconvenienced by the operation.

    The elevated railways of New York constitute one of the most striking features of that remarkable city.  Metal pillars, erected at the edge of the pavement or in the centre of broad avenues, and standing some twenty feet high, support the lines along which passenger trains are driven at intervals of five or six minutes.  The long, straight streets of the city are, of course, peculiarly suited for this strange mode of locomotion.  Passengers who use it can look down on to the heads of the pedestrians below or into the sitting-rooms and bed-rooms of the houses they are passing.  Access to the numerous stations is obtained by flights of iron steps at the corners of the streets.  A uniform rate is charged for a single ride, whatever the distance travelled; but that rate is doubled after a certain hour at night.  Delay in the collection of tickets is avoided by a simple contrivance.  When the passenger has purchased his ticket, he is directed to deposit it in a box provided for the purpose near the entrance-gate of the platform.  There is a conductor to each car, who, immediately the train starts, calls out the name of the next stopping place.  Hence no time is lost in discharging or receiving passengers.  As the elevated railway extends the whole length of the city, some seven or eight miles on each side of it, the accommodation afforded is necessarily immense, but the appearance of the thoroughfares through which the lines pass has been sadly marred.  Some streets where junctions are formed look more like tunnels than streets.  Worse than all, the company has been allowed to cross the Battery Park, ruining, as the New York Herald has remarked, "the most beautiful waterside park in the world."  Strange things are done in New York.  One of the strangest was that of granting permission to the proprietors of the elevated railway to erect a nuisance in front of the houses and shops of the citizens without granting them one farthing of compensation for the injury done to their property.

    Space does not permit to refer in detail to other evidences of the inventive daring of our American cousins.  It must suffice to state, then, that the stupendous suspension bridge [13] between New York and Brooklyn (which crosses the East River with a span of 1,595 feet) is, according to M. de Lesseps, the greatest engineering triumph of the age; that a tram-car has been projected in Philadelphia which is to be propelled by springs wound up like a watch; and that a fabulous amount of capital is being spent on a new system of warming houses and offices in New York by means of steam supplied from some central depot!


 
CHAPTER XXII.

AMERICAN HOTELS—THE NEWHALL HOUSE, MILWAUKEE—WAITERS —HOTEL NAMES—FIRE ESCAPES—VAST SIZE OF HOTELS—THE NATIONAL IN WASHINGTON—THE GRAND PACIFIC IN SAN FRANCISCO—THE FIFTH AVENUE IN NEW YORK—THE BOARDING SYSTEM—"A SQUARE MEAL"—THE ART OF DINING—ICED DRINKS—TEMPERANCE AT TABLE—PLACES OF RENDEZVOUS.


EARLY on the morning of the 9th of January, 1883, there occurred at Milwaukee one of the most frightful calamities on record.  The Newhall House in that city was then burnt to the ground, nearly one hundred of the inmates perishing in the flames or dying from the injuries they received in precipitating themselves from the windows.  A wonderful proof of the promptitude of our cousins in dealing with sudden disasters was furnished on the occasion.  Three fire engines, placed on a special train, were transferred from Chicago to Milwaukee, a distance of ninety miles, in little more than an hour!

    I was myself a guest at the Newhall House during the short stay I made in Milwaukee in the previous June.  Many of the "neat-handed Phillises" who then waited at table, and who naturally created a favourable impression by reason of their pleasant appearance, their ready attention to the guests, and their orderly mode of discharging the duties of the dining hall, were among the victims of the catastrophe I have just mentioned.  The waiters in Washington are all negroes; in New York they are mostly Irishmen; but in Milwaukee they are nearly all girls.  Clad in clean light dresses just short enough to show the feet encased in low shoes, these girls gave the dining-room of the Newhall House a much prettier aspect than either negroes or Irishmen imparted to the dining-rooms of Washington or New York.

    The Newhall House was one of two great hotels in Milwaukee, the Plankington House being the other.  Hotels in America frequently bear the names of the persons who establish or own them, such as the Astor House in New York, the Parker House in Boston, the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Riggs House in Washington.  The Plankington House in Milwaukee is owned by a gentleman of that name; while the Newhall House was built by Mr. Daniel Newhall, who has made and lost several fortunes "in wheat" during the last quarter of a century.  The latest proprietor of the Newhall was Mr. John F. Antisdel, who was for the time being driven frantic by the disaster which had befallen his property and his patrons.  The latter building, which was six storeys high, though the lower storey consisted mainly of shops, occupied a corner site on two broad streets in the centre of the city.  It was described in the telegrams relating to the fire as a "death trap."  I doubt, however, whether the Newhall House could be properly so described any more than many other of the large hotels in America.  Neglect of precautions against fire is not a fault that can be fairly charged against our cousins.  Facilities for the escape of the inmates are provided in the case of some establishments on the exterior of the building, iron ladders being fixed from the top floor to the bottom alongside the landing windows.  There was no such arrangement in connection with the Newhall House; but appliances of a somewhat similar character were placed ready for use on the different floors.  The advertisement of a summer hotel in Virginia announces—"Fire escapes only fifty feet apart on every floor."  A like provision was made at the Newhall House.  As frequently happens, however, when sudden calamities occur, nobody seems to have thought of the contrivances which lay close at hand.  Such, indeed, was the panic of the unfortunate people who were sleeping on the upper storeys that they flung themselves headlong on to the pavement beneath.  The same thing would probably have occurred had the iron ladders I saw elsewhere been attached to the ill-fated building in Milwaukee.

    Though the Newhall House was capable of accommodating eight hundred guests, it was not by any means one of the largest class of American hotels.  The Grand Pacific in Chicago is so vast in breadth and height that the Newhall may be said to have been small in comparison.  The entrance hall of the Grand Pacific is quite as extensive as many a town hall in England, besides being, of course, infinitely more handsome.  Again, the National Hotel at Washington, though less costly in tariff and less elegant in arrangement than either the Riggs House or the Willard House in the same city, is so immense an affair that when I was shown to my bed-room I met with all manner of adventures in trying to find my way back again.  The route from the dining-room to the chamber I occupied was really an intricate maze of corners and staircases.  To have ensured perfect accuracy in threading the way from the one to the other, one would have had to make a map of the course.  As it was, though I tried to take particular notice of the corners I had to turn, I more than once got as completely lost on the passage as any belated traveller in a forest.  I almost tremble to think of the consequences, should a fire happen at the National when the house is full of guests.  Yet even the National is not particularly famous for its size.  One of the largest and finest of the American hotels is the Grand Pacific in San Francisco, which can boast of 755 apartments, each apartment consisting of six rooms to the suite—that is to say, this enormous building contains at the very least 4,530 rooms.  Another stupendous building is the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, which can accommodate no fewer than eleven hundred guests!  We in England can really have no conception of the vast extent and palatial appearance of American hotels.  Those that are situated in the cities are large, handsome, and substantial; but those which have been erected at the summer resorts—perched on the heights above the Hudson, nestled among the mountains of New England or the Central States, stationed alongside the celebrated mineral springs at Saratoga or Las Vegas, or facing the broad Atlantic on Manhattan Beach or the shores of old Virginia—resemble in size and sometimes in outline the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

    Our cousins make much more use of hotels than we do in England.  They room or board in them.  I met with citizens of the country who told me that they had never lived anywhere else.  American hotels, in fact, are gigantic boarding-houses.  It is not only young men without incumbrances who constantly patronise these public establishments.  Professional men—doctors, for instance—have sometimes no other abode.  Even persons with families find it convenient to reside regularly in one hotel or another.  It is possible, and indeed probable, that the trouble connected with servants in the household arrangements of America conduces to this custom.  Domestic comforts, according to English ideas, are not to be obtained in this way.  Nevertheless, as families can hire suites of rooms for their exclusive use, they can, although at great expense, live almost as much retired as if they had homes of their own.

    There are some hotels in America which are conducted on what is called the "European system"—that is to say, the traveller is charged so much for his bed, so much for his meals, so much for attendance, etc.  But the American plan, as its name would imply, is almost universal.  The guest in this case is charged so much per day, ranging generally, according to the quality of the establishment, from three dollars to five or six dollars per day—that is, from 12s. to £1 or £l, 4s., without deductions in the event of absence from meals, and without fees or tips to servants or waiters of any description.  The meals consist of breakfast, dinner, and supper.  The old English "tea" is almost unknown in American hotels, and even in American households; but the beverage of that name can be had at any meal the guest likes to ask for it.  Meals last so long as a rule, from early morning to late at night, that there are not many hours when one or other is not on the table.  Breakfast, for instance, generally lasts from 6 to 11, dinner from 1'30 to 3'30 and from 5 to 6, and supper from 6'30 to 11.  Of course the guest at any moment between the hours specified can he supplied with what our cousins call a "square meal."  It may afford the reader some idea of what a "square meal" means if I give here a sample bill of fare for breakfast.


    The art of dining is quite as well understood in America as it is in this country, though it is pursued in a different manner.  The dining halls attached to the great hotels, the fashionable restaurants, or the places of entertainment at popular resorts, are usually large, lofty, and handsome apartments.  Tables for the use of the diners, ample enough to accommodate four, six, or eight persons, are disposed in regular order over the floor.  When the guest makes his appearance, the head waiter, standing near the door, takes him in charge, conducts him to a table, and sees him safely seated.  If the head waiter happens to be a negro, the ceremony is performed with as many flourishes as the drum-major of a military band puts into his movements on parade.  Immediately the guest is seated, the attendant at the table brings a napkin, a bill of fare, and a glass of iced water.  Iced water is drunk at every meal, not being omitted, I believe, even in the depths of winter.  It is a peculiarity of American hotel life that the waiter expects you to order almost everything you require at once.  He may bring you fish and soup together: but he will rarely stir from your side till he learns what else you may want to complete your repast.  All the substantials of the feast are thus placed before you at the same moment.  It happens, of course, by reason of this arrangement, that the guest finds himself surrounded by perhaps a dozen little dishes—roast beef, boiled mutton, curried chicken, potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, asparagus, and a variety of other "fixings."  Anybody who has been face to face with a "square meal" can well understand the appropriateness of the phrase an American applies to the struggle, that he has "got through it".  Waiters have such excellent memories that they rarely make a mistake, however numerous the articles they may be ordered to bring.  If, for reasons of your own, you should request to be furnished with one or two dishes only, the waiter will frequently bring two or three others, remarking as he does so that he thought you had overlooked them.  It is not easy to divine why everything a diner may think he will want should be placed on the table before him at once; except it be that the waiter desires to save himself several journeys when one will answer the purpose.  Anyway, the system must result in great waste: for guests, not knowing the limitations of their own appetites, very often order more than they can consume.

     Iced water at meals is a universal drink in America.  The consumption of that article is in consequence so enormous that the ice harvest is considered almost as important as the fruit crop.  All along the banks of the Hudson, beyond the reach of the tide, huge edifices are erected for storing it.  During the oppressive days of summer, an agreeable beverage is prepared by pouring hot tea upon a lump of ice.  This drink, mixed with sugar in a glass, is frequently preferred to coffee for breakfast or supper.  When the thermometer stands between 80 and 90 degrees, cooling liquors are always in request.  Americans may drink heavily of intoxicating fluids at other times; but no people could possibly be more temperate at meals.  It is a rare and exceptional thing to see a bottle of wine in an American dining hall, though hundreds of people, coming and going, may be noticed at the tables.  As for beer, I never once saw a glass of that beverage on the dinner table of an hotel in the States.

    The hotels in the great cities are of essential service to the general public.  They are places of rendezvous for everybody, whether guests or not.  If you want to know anything, to see anybody, or to go anywhere, you can get all the information you require at the hotel.  The numerous clerks attached to the office are always civil and obliging.  If they can't, as they say, fix the thing for you, they can usually put you on the track of it.  Should you have an appointment with a friend, he names some hotel in a convenient neighbourhood where you can meet him.  The commodious entrance halls are thus nearly always full of guests, loungers, and men of business.  People go in and out of them, look around, take a seat, buy a newspaper, or smoke a cigar, with as much ease and freedom as our own people go in and out of a public market.  The scenes presented, especially of an evening, are as busy as those one may witness on a Saturday at a great railway centre.  I had an appointment one evening with a friend at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York.  While waiting for him, I had an opportunity of observing the incessant flux and influx of visitors at that famous establishment. There were four swing doors of plate-glass to the main entrance. Such was the constant traffic through these doors that it was seldom any one of them was allowed to settle in its normal position before it was again thrust open.  The American hotel, in fact, is as much a public institution as the post-office or the railway station.


 
CHAPTER XXIII.

AMUSEMENTS—"SURPRISE PARTIES"—BASE BALL—HARVARD AND YALE—BILLIARDS—BEER GARDENS—THE BAYERN VEREIN—GERMAN CUSTOMS—SUMMER RESORTS—LONG BRANCH—GLEN ISLAND—CONEY ISLAND—MANHATTAN BEACH—BARNUM'S CIRCUS—THE SHOWMAN AND THE DEACON—"FREE PASSES."


THE amusements of the people may prove, perhaps, not the least interesting feature of a common-place account of American society.  It is not possible, however, within the compass of a work of this character, to deal with more than a very few of the pastimes prevalent among our cousins.

    The spelling bee, which had a short rapid run in this country a few years ago, which fell out of public favour as suddenly as it had risen in popularity, and which, in fact, to borrow the simile Thomas Paine applied to General Howe, "went up like a rocket and came down like its stick," was imported from America.  But we have not yet imported "surprise parties," which, indeed, would perhaps hardly be suitable to a country where classes are more divided, where people are more solemn, and where practical jokes are less appreciated than they are in America.  The "surprise party" is a genuine institution of the States.  It is in the rural districts mainly that this peculiar mode of enjoyment is most highly enjoyed.  How is the affair managed?  When a family has just settled down for a quiet evening, when the younger children are all in bed, when the lady of the house has just begun to darn a hole in baby's stockings, when the elder girls have commenced to practise a duet on the piano, when Tom has gone to the stables to have a chat with the groom, when Harry is busy polishing his gun or mending his fishing tackle, and when Paterfamilias has comfortably seated himself in the parlour with the last work of a favourite author before him, the house is suddenly invaded by a troop of jovial friends.  This is the "surprise party."  Anybody can readily understand how appropriate is the name that is given to the amusement.  But though the household is surprised, the expedition has of course been secretly organized for days beforehand.  It is a rule, I believe, for the invaders to take with them such provisions as they may need, lest the larder of the involuntary host should be incapable of supplying the wants of the company.  As a matter of course, the quietude of the house which has thus been suddenly invaded is changed into uproarious mirth.  The fun is kept up till an advanced period of the evening, when the proceedings are brought to a close in the usual manner, the leading guests delivering complimentary speeches in honour of the host and hostess, the host replying in quite as complimentary terms about his visitors, and the whole company drinking toasts all round.  The party returns home by the light of the moon or the fire-fly, delighted with the success of the surprise they had given the friends they had left.  Need it be added that the expedition furnishes a subject not only for the gossip of the neighbourhood, but for paragraphs in the local newspapers?

    Out-door games are not quite so common among Americans as they are among ourselves.  This at least is the case in the summer season.  The days are so much hotter, and the evenings are so much shorter, than they are with us, that some of the most popular games in England are almost or altogether unknown on the other side of the Atlantic.  For instance, the old English game of bowls is not, as far as I could learn, played at all in America.  As a sort of substitute, however, bowling alleys, fitted up for playing an improved form of skittles, are provided at most places of public resort.  Cricket, again, can boast of few votaries; but the place of that pastime is supplied by base ball, which is just our boyish game of rounders transformed into a game of skill and science.  A match at base ball between the Universities of Yale and Harvard was played at New Haven while I was in that city.  The picturesque dresses of the students, the dexterity with which they handled the long and ponderous clubs, the cleverness with which the opposing sides tried to circumvent each other, and, above all, the enthusiasm exhibited by the partisans of the competitors, imparted an immense amount of spirit and animation to the scene.  When one side or the other scored a good point, an organized party of friends among the spectators rose to their feet under the direction of a fugleman, and gave a sort of musical cheer of approbation and encouragement.  It was noticeable, too, that the ladies who witnessed the contest wore the colours of the contending players, just as at Oxford and Cambridge boat races our own ladies wear the dark and light blue favours of the two Universities.

    The game of billiards is perhaps more popular in America than it is even in this country; for I noticed in some hotels long rooms containing from ten to fifteen tables, everyone of them engaged in the busier parts of the evening.  But the balls are larger and the tables smaller than those in use in England, while the method of counting was quite different also, discs of wood hung on a string near the gas lamps enabling the players to keep their own scores.  Our cousins, in short, have adopted the French game, at which they are so expert that the American representative not long since defeated the champion of France in a trial of skill in Paris.

    Although out-door games in summer are less common in America than in England, there are plenty of out-door amusements in the former country.  Where the German element predominates in the population, pleasure gardens similar in character to those which may be seen in and around Berlin or Dresden are established for the accommodation of the quiet and orderly Teutons.  Milwaukee, which is famous for its layer beer breweries, can boast in Schlitz's Park of just such an institution as many of the smaller German towns enjoy.  There the citizens assemble on holidays and Sundays to participate in a dance or listen to an open-air concert, precisely as their friends and relatives assemble in the lust gardens of Hamburg or Wiesbaden.  A pic-nic of the Bayern Verein at Schutzen Park, in the outskirts of New Haven, afforded me an opportunity of seeing how the German emigrants comport themselves in their new country.  Dancing for the young folks, swings for the children, shady seats for the aged, beer and sandwiches for everybody—these were almost the only comforts and amusements provided for the sons and daughters of the Fatherland.  Such were the order and decorum which prevailed that it seemed to me that Froissart's description of the English was much more applicable to the Germans—"they take their pleasures sadly."  It is a commendable characteristic of the German workman that he shares his pastimes with his wife and children.  If a day's enjoyment is to be taken, the entire family participate in it.  The emigrant from Saxony or Hanover has carried this pleasant custom with him to America.  No disturbance, I was assured, ever occurs at a German picnic, unless an interloper should cause it.  The only approach to disorder that I observed at Schutzen Park arose from the intrusion of a native rowdy.  Another peculiarity of German picnics, as I was told by a resident in the neighbourhood of the New Haven pleasure garden, is this—that the holidaymakers always go home early.  They begin to depart soon after five o'clock; by seven the garden is deserted; before eight the men, women, and children who have enjoyed together an afternoon's pleasure are comfortably stationed at home.

    The summer resorts around New York have a wider than American fame.  Long Branch, situated on the coast of New Jersey, is a colony of detached cottages, which are deserted in winter, but filled with fashionable occupants in the hot season.  It was to Elberon, a cottage at this celebrated watering-place, that President Garfield was carried after he had received his fatal wound.  Hotels and houses, all built of wood, all provided with verandahs, and all painted and constructed in a most picturesque fashion, stretch along the sea-beach for several miles.  During the height of the season, when the heat of the sun is tempered by cool breezes from the Atlantic, many thousands of the wealthier people of the States may be seen reposing in the shade of the verandahs, surrounded by a profusion of flowers and creepers.  But one must go elsewhere if one wants to see how the populace take their pleasure—to Rockaway, Glen Island, or Manhattan Beach.  Glen Island, celebrated for its clam bakes, is situated in Long Island Sound, some two hours' sail from New York.  Purchased by a gentleman by the name of Starin, who owns a great fleet of river boats, the island has been converted into a pleasure resort, where all hinds of amusements—music, dancing, skittles, boating, and so forth—are furnished for the entertainment of the visitors.  Popular, however, as Glen Island is becoming, it cannot even be compared in that respect, or indeed in any other, with Coney Island.  This famous resort, facing the Atlantic Occan, is practically divided into three great divisions, which may be said to be patronised by three different classes.  While one end of the island is too costly for the humble, the other is too common for the rich, the centre occupying a place midway between the costly and the common.  The portion reserved by custom and circumstances for wealthier visitors is adorned with hotels of such immense size that they almost resemble at a distance the pictures one sees of the Kremlin at Moscow or the Escurial in Spain.  Every afternoon and evening during the summer season, Sundays included, the well-known band of Mr. P. J. Gilmore delights the loungers on Manhattan Beach.  Another band, less renowned than Gilmore's, but still excellent, performs the same duty for the frequenters of the central portion of the island.  The seats which surround the band stands are in each case free to all who care to occupy them.  It was on a Sunday afternoon in July that I visited Manhattan Beach.  The entire place was crowded. with many thousands of well-dressed folks.  Not a sign of drunkenness or disorder was to be seen.  How the people behaved at the more popular part of the island I was prevented from ascertaining for myself by a singular circumstance.  The gentleman who accompanied me, having resided in New York for twenty years, had a patriotic regard for the reputation of America.  I noticed that he always interposed some objection when I suggested that we should bend our steps in the direction of the swings and other implements of boisterous pleasure which could be seen in full operation at the further end of the island.  My friend explained afterwards his reason for not complying with my repeated request.  "I don't want you," he said, "to go away with a bad impression of the country."  It may give the reader some idea of the popularity of Coney Island if I mention that the vessels of the Iron Steamboat Company, each capable of accommodating 2,500 excursionists, have carried to the island in a single day as many as 45,000 passengers.  But Manhattan Beach can be reached from Brooklyn by railway.  Adding the numbers which travel by rail to the numbers which travel by water, it is computed that as many as 100,000 people have visited Coney Island on a single summer's day.

    The most attractive of all summer amusements, wherever and whenever it can be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the great show and circus to which the foremost showman of his age still gives his name.  I allude, of course, to the wonderful exhibition which Phineas T. Barnum has organized for the public benefit and his own.  It was while riding on the railway between Philadelphia and Baltimore that I first learned the American estimate of Barnum's genius.  A fellow-traveller, noticing that I was an Englishman, asked me if I had seen Jumbo since I had landed in the States.  I answered that I had not.  "Well," said he, "that was a smart trick of Barnum's.  Jumbo has been as good as a silver mine.  Everybody wants to see the animal which the British nation couldn't keep.  If you are going to make any stay in the country, you will be sure to strike him somewhere."  My casual acquaintance was quite right.  I struck the great circus, sure enough, a fortnight later.  Enormous posters, big enough to hide the front of a railway station, and graphic enough to excite the wonder and amazement of every lad and lass who beheld them, announced the approach of the mammoth exhibition.  For days before the show made its appearance, it was the one subject of conversation in the city.  When the eventful day arrived, the whole population—young and old, rich and poor, male and female—seemed to turn out to witness the astonishing display in the streets.  Later in the day, when the performances in the circus were advertised to commence, many thousands of people flocked to the centre of attraction from the surrounding districts.  I was told that working men save up their funds for Barnum's visit, which is regarded as one of the principal occurrences of the year.  The roads leading to the grounds on which the showman had pitched his tent were as crowded as Cheapside on Lord Mayor's Day.  An awning vast enough to cover six acres of ground protected from the weather a side show of "living Curiosities," an exhibition of wild beasts, and a circus containing three rings.  The "living curiosities," for seeing which extra charges were made, were some of them frauds, some of them abortions, all of them repulsive.  Eighteen elephants figured among the wild beasts, the gaunt frame of our old friend Jumbo towering high above the heads of his massive companions.  Within the circus, performances were proceeding in each of the three rings at one and the same time—here a bare-backed rider turning somersaults on his steed, there three or four elephants executing evolutions at command, beyond an acrobat terrifying the spectators with daring feats on the trapeze.  Although the price of admission was 50 cents, and although the afternoon was wet and gloomy, there could not, I calculated, have been fewer than ten thousand persons within the enclosure.  The evening exhibition, I was given to understand, would be still better attended.  It is the policy of Mr. Barnum and his partners never to give the public too many opportunities of seeing his show.  A single day is assigned, as a rule, to each city he visits.  During the night, he "folds up his tent like the Arabs, and silently steals away."  Such is the number of animals that have to be fed—such, too, the number of attendants required to discharge the multifarious duties connected with the gigantic concern—that almost as much foresight and capacity for organization are needed in the management of the enterprise as in the provisioning of an army on the eve of a campaign.  It is only during the summer months that the peculiar operations of a travelling circus in America can be pursued.  When cold weather returns, the wild animals, trained horses, and living curiosities are laid up in winter quarters at Bridgeport, in the State of Connecticut.

    America is so extensive a country that the great travelling shows are compelled to restrict their circuits within a comparatively narrow compass.  Barnum confines his peregrinations chiefly to the Atlantic and New England States.  Further West, Forepaugh takes up the parable.  Elsewhere other enterprising showmen follow out the same plan.  But Barnum, old as he is, distances them all.  It is clear that he has a real genius for his work.  When a church deacon asked him for a pass to see his winter quarters, Barnum, after explaining that "free passes are played out," and that none but editors and orphan asylums are admitted without payment, handed to the deacon a printed card containing scriptural authority for refusing his request.  A copy of the card will prove that the venerable showman had followed his own injunction—"Search the Scriptures."

 


 
CHAPTER XXIV.

HOLIDAYS IN AMERICA—INDEPENDENCE DAY—COLONEL DONAN—THE "PISTOL FIEND"—FOURTH OF JULY DANGERS—THEATRES—J. H. HAVERLY—BLOODHOUNDS ON THE STAGE—"SI SLOCUM"—MADIS0N SQUARE THEATRE—"ESMERALDA"—JOHN E. OWENS—BRUTAL AMUSEMENTS—"TERRIFIC DOG FIGHT ON LONG ISLAND"—PUGILISM—A GLOVE FIGHT IN NEW YORK—A MURDERER'S FUNERAL.


THERE are four great national holidays in America—Independence Day, Decoration Day, Thanksgiving Day, and New Year's Day.  The first is observed to celebrate the Declaration of Independence; the second is devoted to the decoration of the graves of the soldiers who fell in the late war; the third is held to return thanks for the blessings bestowed upon the country; and the last is spent generally in visiting relatives and friends.  Christmas Day is also dedicated to festivities; but Easter and Whitsuntide are treated as seasons of "no account."  The great holiday of the year, however; is that on which the entire people of the States, from Canada to Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, give themselves up to enjoyment in commemoration of the birth of the Republic.

    Early one morning in July, while staying at St. Nicholas' Hotel in Broadway, New York, I was awakened out of a sound sleep by a tremendous explosion in a side street.  Thinking it was a new kind of dream that had disturbed my repose, I soon returned, as they say in the classics, to the "arms of Morpheus."  Again I was aroused by another thundering noise similar to the first.  Still the dream theory held its ground.  But while I was dressing a third explosion occurred.  Then it dawned upon my now awakened senses that the day was the Fourth of July, the day of all days in America, the day of the Declaration of Independence.  From that time till long after midnight not a moment elapsed without a discharge of fireworks or firearms.  The old custom was to celebrate Independence Day with patriotic addresses, some prominent statesman or orator being selected in each city to deliver a special oration.  That custom is still followed in the smaller cities of the country.  Colonel Donan, for example, delivered last year an astonishing Fourth-of-July speech at the little city of Fargo—a speech in which he declared of his countrymen that "no sharper, nobler, wide-awaker, straighter-tobacco-spitting, more enterprising, whole-souled, true-hearted, and public-spirited men ever left their stoga bootprints on the golden sands of time."  Nothing of the kind, however, occurred in Now York, except a meeting of second-hand politicians in Tammany Hall.  The day, indeed, was surrendered to torpedoes and excursions.  Every boy in the city seemed to consider it the great object of his life to make as much noise as possible.  Crackers, squibs, pistols, and bombs were all called into requisition.  It was our own Guy Fawkes' Day over again, with this difference, however, that the display of pyrotechnics in the streets far exceeded anything I have ever noticed in this country on the 5th of November.  Such, in fact, was the reckless demonstration of the juvenile patriots that it was almost perilous to be abroad, especially after nightfall.  The newspapers for some days beforehand had directed the attention of the authorities to the dangerous pranks of what they called the "pistol fiend."  "Already," said the New York Herald a day or two before the 4th, "the pistol fiend makes day and night hideous, popping away at one side of the street, while the policeman takes his ease at the other."  The laws of New York provide penalties for all persons who either explode or sell fireworks in the city.  But so little heed was given to the ordinance that the forbidden articles, as I myself saw, were openly exposed for sale within a few yards of the seat of the city government.  Nay, the City Hall itself was set on fire with crackers by the son of the custodian of that edifice!  Some small attempt, indeed, was made to stop the dangerous nuisance; for next day the collection of confiscated goods captured by the police included "twenty-five revolvers and pistols, a huge jack-knife, two deadly cannons, and a plebian-looking powder-horn."  Many cases of personal injury, chiefly from revolver shots, were reported in the newspapers of the 5th of July.  I counted twelve cases of this kind in the columns of the New York Herald.  One was that of a woman who, while leaning out of a window, had been shot by "an unknown man on the side walk"; another was that of a labourer who had had his leg broken by the bursting of a cannon; and a third was that of a policeman who had been struck by a pistol bullet, which, entering his face close to the left eye, had lodged in his head near the right ear.  Nor were these all the calamities which occurred on the 4th of July.  No fewer than nine fires, most of them of a slight character happily, were reported to have happened in the city of New York alone.  The most considerable disaster occurred at a candle factory, situated in a crowded neighbourhood not far from Broadway.  While the firemen were endeavouring to save the burning building, I noticed that crackers and fireworks were exploding all around them!  Notwithstanding these casualities, the Herald described the celebration as "a quiet and decorous observance of the country's natal day."

    The reception accorded in America to musical and theatrical stars, such as Madame Patti and Madame Nillsen, Mrs. Langtry and Sara Bernhardt, testify to the estimation in which the stage is there held.  When taste expands into a rage, our cousins do strange things, as when the admirers of Mrs. Langtry chartered a special train from Philadelphia to New York, the conductors wearing white gloves, and the minor officials adorning themselves with flowers in their button-holes.  It is only in America that odd freaks of this description can take place without exciting suspicion that the perpetrators are eccentric, or worse.  But surprising occurrences are natural in the land of surprise parties.  Theatres abound in all the great cities of the States.  The position which P. T. Barnum occupies among showmen is assumed by J. H. Haverly in the theatrical world.  That gentleman, besides being the proprietor, lessee, or manager of leading houses in New York, Chicago, and other centres of population, has travelling companies of actors and minstrels touring in various parts of the earth.  People who have seen the performances of Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson will not need to be reminded that America has produced some of the most powerful actors of the age.  American plays, however, so far as my experience goes, run too much into realism or sensation.  Real bloodhounds, as English people have had an opportunity of seeing lately, are employed in the representation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."  While this play was being performed at Staten Island, a bulldog belonging to a sceneshifter pursued a bloodhound on to the stage, where, as the newspapers facetiously reported, "the ferocious animals were quickly surrounded by a ring of local politicians, more anxious to see 'fair play' than to hurt the beasts."  A more terrible event happened in Cincinnati during the representation of a drama called "Si Slocum."  The sensational part of the piece consisted in this—that an actor of the name of Frank Frayne shoots an apple from the head of an actress, firing over his shoulder, and sighting his rifle from a reflection in a mirror.  Frayne performed the feat once too often: he shot the actress, to whom he was engaged to be married, instead of the apple, the poor woman dying on the stage.  The frantic and grief-stricken man was put on his trial; but a considerate jury acquitted him of all blame, and an admiring populace greeted him with applause on his release.  But some American plays are equal to any production of our modern dramatists.  I had the pleasure of witnessing one such play at the Madison Square Theatre in New York.  That theatre is a marvel of elegance.  While the auditorium is as comfortable as a drawing-room, the stage fittings are simply superb.  There are, in fact, two stages, so that the curtain is only drawn down to allow one magnificent scene to be replaced by another.  It results from these ingenious arrangements that the intervals between the acts are only four minutes in one case and five seconds less than a minute in each of the others.  "Esmeralda," the play I saw performed at Madison Square, is the work of Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of "That Lass o' Lowrie's," a Lancashire lady by birth, but now the wife of a Washington doctor.  The representation of Elbert Rogers, an old North Carolina farmer, by John E. Owens, was as finished a piece of acting as can anywhere be seen.  It is a law of the State of New York that plans of the exits of places of amusement must be printed on the programmes, so that the audience may know in case of alarm how most readily to escape into the streets.  I have mentioned the double stage at Madison Square.  Another ingenious contrivance has been adopted at the Alcazar.  The roof of the building is so made that in hot weather it can be removed altogether, thus converting the concerts there given into open-air entertainments.

    Brutal amusements are unfortunately as common among a certain class in America as the same kind of amusements are common among the same class in this country.  What is perhaps more to be lamented, however, is the fact that the newspapers record without reprobating them.  For instance, I read in the Cleveland Herald one day in June that the students of Yale College had abandoned their lessons on the previous day to witness the repulsive spectacle of a dog killing twenty-seven rats in the short space of six minutes; that Maxwell Evarts, son of the late Secretary of State, was the ring-master on the occasion; that "the students danced about in wild glee" during the exhibition; and that the dog's feat was the only topic of conversation for the rest of the day.

    If educated Americans indulge in revolting pastimes, Americans who are not cultivated cannot be expected to exhibit more refinement.  It was undoubtedly people of the latter class who assisted at a "purring match" in Camden, New Jersey, when two ruffians named Tavish and McWilliams, in bare legs and armed boots, kicked each other till one of them succumbed, for a stake of 250 dollars a-side.  Men of the same class attended what is described as a "terrific dog-fight on Long Island between Cockney Charlie's brindled bull terrier Pilot, who killed Crib at Louisville, and Sheffield George's white bull terrier Ned, belonging to Brooklyn."  Sporting men from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and even Cincinnati were said to have been attracted to the scene of the great encounter.  The account of the fight, as telegraphed to every prominent newspaper in the country, included such statements as these—that "Pilot tackled the white, threw him, and chewed him savagely for thirty minutes," that Ned threw the old dog, and "for an even hour held him down for most of the time and mangled him," that both dogs were terribly torn and mutilated, and that "25,000 dollars at least changed hands on the fight."  But men fight as well as dogs in the States, and that, too, with almost as much licence and encouragement as were anciently accorded to bear-baiters in England.

    The American pugilist professes to give a simple exhibition of "sparring with gloves."  John L, Sullivan, who claims to be the champion of the States, paid a visit to Washington, apparently in the course of a professional tour, in the autumn of 1882.  The manager of the Theatre Comique offered 500 dollars to any man who would "stand up before Mr. Sullivan for twelve minutes."  A blacksmith belonging to the city accepted the challenge; two thousand people paid for the privilege of witnessing the combat; but the poor blacksmith was reduced to such a condition before the first round was over that the police stopped the performance.  The same Sullivan appeared at a similar exhibition before 5,000 people assembled in Washington Park, New York, on Independence Day.[14]  The sum of 500 dollars had been offered to one Jim Elliott, and further sums of 250 dollars to any other man "who would face Sullivan in the ring for four three-minute rounds, and last out the contest."  The entertainment was under police supervision, Captain Gunner, with a force of a hundred constables, being present to preserve order.  Elliott was the only man who ventured to "face the music" of Sullivan's fists, though these fists were encased in "soft gloves."  The incidents of the encounter were recorded in the New York Herald with all the gusto which Bell's Life in London used to import into its descriptions of similar combats in England.  One disgusting circumstance is thus reported:—"Johnny Roche, who acted as second for Elliott, finding the blood in Elliott's nose interfered with his principal's breathing, placed his mouth to that organ, sucked it clear, and spit the blood so obtained upon the floor of the platform ring."  But Elliott was so terribly punished in the third round that his "limp and lifeless condition" excited the alarm of his friends.  [15]  No such horrible exhibition, however, will now be allowed to take place under the patronage of the authorities; for the Mayor of New York has since caused it to be notified that glove fights are in no respect distinguishable from the prize fights which are forbidden by the laws of the Empire State.  Although the New York Herald approved the action of the police in preventing a glove fight between "Mr. John L. Sullivan and Mr. Tug Wilson," it nevertheless published among its correspondence a challenge from one Tom Allen "to fight John L. Sullivan or any man in the world, according to the rules of the London prize ring, at catch weight, for a thousand or five thousand dollars a-side, and the championship of the world."

    It is probably the countenance which pugilists receive from the press that enables them to continue their brutal profession.  Public sentiment, however, must be somewhat at fault when the public press records such exhibitions as that of Sullivan and Elliott, and publishes such challenges as that of Tom Allen.  It is only fair to add that the persons principally concerned in dog-fights and prize-fights, as the names and nicknames they bear would indicate, are for the most part importations from our own islands.


 
CHAPTER XXV.

CRIMES AND CRIMINALS—"CONFIDENCE MEN"—REVOLVERS AND SCURRILITY—TRAGEDY AT HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS—SCHOOL-BOYS AND PISTOLS—A KENTUCKY FEUD—THREE PROMINENT CITIZENS SLAY EACH OTHER IN THE STREETS OF KNOXVILLE—A MUNICIPAL WAR IN ALABAMA—RIVAL POLICE FORCES AT TROY—LYNCH LAW—CONFLICT AT ASHLAND, KENTUCKY.


THE crimes committed in a new country are generally more desperate than those which are committed in old and settled States.  Since law has not had time to get itself established and respected, lawless characters have it pretty much their own way in regions that have only recently been opened up.  The daring outrages perpetrated by bushrangers in Australia and by cow-boys in the Western States of America are examples of the troubles which afflict the newer countries of the earth.  It must always be remembered in respect to America that the native-born citizens of the Republic get the credit of all the crimes that are perpetrated in the land, though these crimes in innumerable instances are notoriously the handiwork of men who have been born and bred elsewhere.  No one acquainted with the state of California at the time of the gold fever will need to be informed that the ruffianism which there reigned was the result of the importation of blackguards from all parts of the world—chiefly, however, from the gold-diggings of Australia.  It was only when the citizens of the State formed themselves into Vigilance Committees, tried and hung the chief culprits, and warned the rest of the "Sydney coves," as they were called, of the peril they would incur if they remained longer in the district, that something like law and order was restored.  Let it be understood, then, that not a few of the criminals I am now about to mention are not Americans at all, but persons who, having landed in a country where the utmost freedom is allowed, have brought with them the vices and habits they inherited in their own homes.

    My own experience, as I have already testified, gave me a most favourable opinion of the law-abiding character of the American people.  Nothing occurred throughout my journey that occasioned me the least annoyance.  I felt as safe in person and pocket as if I had been travelling in England.  Indeed, so far as the railways were concerned, it seemed to me that my person and my belongings were even more secure than they would have been had.  I traversed the same distances in any part of Europe.  Twice, however, I met with slight adventures, which caused more amusement than alarm.  "Confidence men"—that is, loafers who hang about the streets in the hope of picking up unsophisticated strangers, with the view of first obtaining their confidence and then swindling or robbing them—abound in the large cities of America, as they do in the large cities at home.  It was two of these ingenious gentlemen—"hoodlums," as they are sometimes designated—that accosted me in two different parts of New York.  The manner in which they addressed me, and the sort of old-acquaintance style in which they offered their hands, were certainly calculated to impose upon an unwary traveller.  Had I given them any encouragement, had I even noticed their salutations, they would have tried to convince me that they knew me when I was a boy, that they were intimate friends of the "old folks," and that I was particularly lucky in meeting them at that particular moment.  As, however, I simply passed on my way, they took good care to get out of sight as soon as possible.  But "confidence men" are not always so fortunate in their encounters with intended victims as the two I met with; for it sometimes happens, as I saw from the newspapers, that the intended victims aforesaid first knock them down, then wipe their boots on their shirt fronts, and finally hand them over to the police to be dealt with according to law.

    Scenes of violence are certainly common in America, if we may take the evidence of the newspapers on the subject.  Two great causes may be assigned for the frequent homicides reported in the press.  One is the pernicious practice of carrying revolvers; the other the scurrilous style adopted by certain journalists.  The tragedy at St. Louis described in a former chapter was due to both these causes.  A somewhat similar tragedy occurred at Hot Springs, Arkansas; but in this case it was the journalist who was killed.  The encounter occurred about mid-day in Central Avenue.  Charles Matthews, the editor of the Daily Hornet, had incurred the resentment of the proprietors of the Arlington Hotel, not only by bitter and unrelenting attacks on that house, but by describing the departure of the wives and children of the proprietors as the "going out of the Arlington gang to hatch up a new scheme."  These gentlemen—Colonel D. C. Rugg and Colonel W. S. Fordyce—met Matthews at the time and place stated.  The editor was the first to fire; but the colonels returned the attack with such vigour and success that Matthews fell dead in the street, "literally perforated with bullets."  The telegram which announced the tragedy related also that Matthews was a native of England, that he had had many narrow escapes in Texas, that Rugg had once before fired at him, and that he had been nearly killed by the Mayor of Hot Springs, who had shot him twice on the public highway!

    Fire-arms are so commonly used in certain parts of the country that a schoolmaster at Paris, Kentucky, was wounded with a pistol by one of his pupils, whom he had corrected for failure in his studies!  Perhaps, however, the most terrible incident in which revolvers played a part was that which occurred at Knoxville, Tennessee, in October, 1882.  The persons concerned in this affair were prominent citizens of Knoxville, one of them being a banker, another holding the rank of general in the United States service, and the third occupying the position of justice of the peace.  Differences had arisen between Major O'Connor, the banker just mentioned, and the family of General Joseph A. Mabry.  O'Connor had advanced money to Mabry on the security of some property, had foreclosed the mortgage, and had thus become possessed of the Mabry estate.  The first life lost in the quarrel which ensued from these transactions was that of William Mabry, a son of the general's, who was killed by Don Lusby in an affray on the Christmas Eve of 1881.  Out of this homicide there arose a feud which has since resulted in the death of no fewer than five of the parties concerned.  Don Lusby and his father, Moses Lusby, were killed by General Mabry and his son Joseph on the 26th of August, 1882, the offenders being afterwards acquitted on the ground of self-defence.  A still more terrible encounter occurred a few weeks later.  The elderly Mabry, meeting O'Connor on the fair ground at Knoxville on the 19th of October, accused him of procuring the murder of his son William.  The intervention of mutual friends, however, prevented serious consequences for the time being.  It was arranged that the quarrelsome officers should keep out of each other's way.  But Mabry soon afterwards was seen to pass O'Connor's bank.  The gallant major accepted this as a challenge, rushed into the street with a shot-gun, and wounded the general in such a way that he shortly afterwards died.  Another son of Mabry's—Joseph Mabry, junior—who had recently been elected a justice of the peace, and who was actually engaged at the time in trying a case about a hundred yards from the scene of the murder, now appeared to take up the quarrel.  The younger Mabry and the fiery O'Connor seem to have both fired together, the one with a pocket revolver, the other with a fresh gun which had been handed to him from his office.  The banker fell dead on the sidewalk, the justice of the peace on the tramway track.  Three of the most prominent citizens of Knoxville had slaughtered each other in the public thoroughfare.  So ended for the day this terrible vendetta.

    It is a remarkable feature of these desperate combats that the persons engaged in them are frequently men of wealth and standing.  A young lawyer named Donley, who lived at Henrietta, in the State of Texas, made some observations about Mr. Burgess, a candidate for the office of county judge, which the latter gentleman did not think in good taste: whereupon the candidate shot the lawyer dead!  A more disastrous affair has happened at Opelika, in the State of Alabama.  For a long time past the inhabitants of that city have been divided into two factions, owing to a dispute as to which faction should run the local government.  The dispute culminated in December, 1882, in a sort of civil war.  The mayor and the aldermen took a hand in the fray; deadly weapons of all kinds were freely used; and the list of killed and wounded comprised ten men shot down, one of whom died on the spot, while eight others were not expected to recover.  Such was the terror inspired
by the "promiscuous firing" of the parties to "a shot-gun policy" that the passengers on board a train which was passing through the city on the following morning "lay down on the floor, fearing that stray shots would enter the coaches."  The disturbances at Opelika were caused by the rival pretensions of new and old city councils.  Other disturbances, though of a much less serious character, have occurred at Troy, in the State of New York, between the new and old police forces of the city.  One morning in the same month of December a member of the new force arrested a swindler.  When the prisoner was brought before Justice Hassett in the afternoon, a fierce struggle for the custody of the unfortunate man took place in the court room.  The judge, who sympathised with the older party, handed documents connected with the case, not to Captain Cary of the new force, but to Captain O'Loughlin of the old force.  The two officers immediately summoned their men, who "went for each other" in the justice's room like rival roysterers in a saloon.  The poor swindler was dragged from the office by one set of police, and then dragged back again by another.  Clubs and revolvers were just about to be used, when the new force carried off the prisoner to their headquarters.  But the victory was not complete; for when, two hours later, the new force attempted to convey the captive to a neighbouring village, the old policemen resumed the conflict in the streets.  Staves were flourished, pistols were drawn, and one of the combatants received a frightful wound on the head.  The representatives of the old force captured two captains, a sergeant, and a detective belonging to the enemy, throwing them into the prison cells till they were released by order of a county judge.  As for the "alleged swindler," he was taken back to the headquarters of the new force, "so thoroughly frightened that he was speechless."  Thus have two cities, one of them of considerable importance, been thrown into anarchy by the reckless proceedings of mayors, aldermen, and guardians of the peace.

    The frequency of cases of lynch law in America is a matter of some astonishment to people accustomed to the sober and sleepy ways of the old countries.  If it were possible to institute an inquiry into the circumstances, it would often be found, I think, that Judge Lynch was not a bad magistrate after all.  It is one of the defects of the administration of the law in America that persons convicted of crime have chances of escape accorded to criminals nowhere else.  Not only is every man presumed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty, but every man who has been proved to be guilty, and who has influence or wealth sufficient to procure the law's delay, is presumed to be innocent until he has been convicted two or three times over.  The "glorious uncertainty of the law," which here applies to civil suits only, applies in America to criminal business also.  Even after a criminal has been convicted on the clearest evidence, it sometimes happens that he not only evades the gallows, but returns to society after a longer or shorter period of detention.  Edward S. Stokes, who murdered James Fisk on the staircase of a New York hotel, is now the manager of a magnificent bar-room attached to one of the most fashionable hostelries in the Empire City.  It is the frequency of instances of miscarriage of justice that induces the populace to take the law into their own hand.  Innocent persons may now and then fall victims to mere suspicion; but the probability is that scoundrels who would otherwise escape punishment get their just deserts.

    Attempts to enforce the decrees of Judge Lynch lead sometimes, however, to tragical conflicts.  Such a conflict occurred at Ashland, in the State of Kentucky, in November, 1882.  Three ferocious ruffians named William Neil, Ellis Craft, and George Ellis were convicted at Catlettsburg, some months previously, of the atrocious murder of two young girls and of the brother of one of their victims.  For this horrible crime, George Ellis, who confessed his guilt, was sentenced to imprisonment for life, while a new trial was granted by the Supreme Court in the case of the other two.  As might have been expected, the people of the district in which the triple murder was committed were desperately indignant.  Ellis was taken from the prison and hanged by the mob at Ashland last summer.  Neil and Craft had been confined for safe keeping in the prison at Lexington; but a change of venue was obtained, so that a new trial might give them a greater chance of escape.  Popular feeling was once more excited.  When it became known that the prisoners were about to be removed, the mob at Ashland stopped a train on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, boarded it, and searched for the prisoners.  The authorities thereupon resolved to convey the prisoners to their intended destination, not by rail, but by river.  Neil and Craft were embarked on board a steamer, which was guarded by 250 State troops, with a section of artillery.  While steaming past Ashland, a ferry boat, which had been seized by the mob, stood out to intercept the passage.  Between the people on the ferry boat and the troops on the steamboat a conflict ensued which led to the loss of six lives and the infliction of serious injuries on twenty or thirty other persons.  Sad to say, the sufferers in this case do not seem to have been concerned in the effort to defeat the authorities; for the shots of the soldiers, flying over the heads of their assailants, struck the unhappy spectators on the shore.

    Justice to the Northern States obliges me to point out, lest it should escape the observation of the reader, that all the disorders described above, with the exception of the somewhat comical affair at Troy, occurred in States which were formerly exposed to the contamination of slavery.


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FOOTNOTES.


13.     The Brooklyn Bridge, which is now one of the wonders of America, has cost more than 15,000,000 dollars.  It is suspended on four wire cables, capable of bearing a strain of 24,621,780 pounds, thrown over the tops of two towers 274 feet high.  The entire length of the structure, from terminus to terminus, is 5,589 feet, or considerably over a mile.  Five parallel avenues are provided for different kinds of traffic.  The day of opening was fixed by the trustees for the 25th of May, 1883.  As that day happened to be the birthday of Queen Victoria; threats were publicly uttered in New York to blow up the bridge with dynamite if the date was not altered.  The opening ceremony, however, took place as arranged, in the presence of President Arthur.  Five days later, on Decoration Day, when nearly twenty thousand people had crowded on to the bridge, a frightful panic occurred.  Twelve persons were trodden to death, while hundreds of others were more or less injured.

14.     Sullivan, who hails from Boston, visited that city in March of this year, when eighteen thousand people paid a dollar and a half each to attend a "benefit performance," while thousands more were unable to obtain admission to the "fistic entertainment."


15.    Jim Elliott, the man who figured in this sickening contest, was afterwards shot dead by a fellow-ruffian in Chicago. And the funeral of the pugilist, which happened to take place on the same day at the same cemetery in New York as that of a notorious murderer, one Michael McGloin, who had been executed three days before, was the occasion of as shameful a display of blackguardism as any civilized city ever beheld. Five thousand persons followed the murderer to the grave ; but the crowds of thieves and roughs which honoured the prize-fighter blocked entire streets in the neighbourhood of the Bowery. Both men were Roman Catholics, and the coffins of both were decorated with handsome wreaths, crosses, and other floral mementoes. The scene at the cemetery was one round of mingled lamentation and profanity, the curses of the roughs drowning the prayers of the priests. There was even a free fight for admission into the chapel where the service over "Murderer MeGloin" was being performed. But the ruffians who had burst into the building had no sooner obtained an entrance than they fell on their knees in attitudes of devotion!

 


 

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