Our American Cousins (6)

Home Up Memoirs Miscellanea Main Index Site Search
 


 

[Previous Page]


CHAPTER XXVI.

A MURDERER, SIX TIMES TRIED, AND THREE TIMES SENTENCED TO DEATH, RELEASED FROM CUSTODY—THE ASSASSIN OF GARFIELD—HIS TREATMENT IN PRISON—SERGEANT MASON—THE JAMES BOYS—THE MOLLY MAGUIRES—POPULARITY OF A MURDERER—ASSASSINS ON THE STAGE—COW-BOYS—A TERRIBLE RECORD.


THE delays and uncertainties of the criminal I law in America, to which reference has already been made, have been strangely illustrated in the case of a man named Charles F. Kring, who murdered Dora Braemser, the wife of his partner in the drug business, as far back as 1874.  This man has had six trials, and has been thrice sentenced to death!  Yet, while a constitutional question relating to his case had still to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, the criminal was admitted to bail on the 26th of April, 1883, nine years after the commission of the crime.  During his detention in the city gaol of St. Louis, he had been allowed to write a book in which he besmeared the character of all who had aided in his prosecution!

    The trial of Guiteau for the murder of President Garfield was another illustration of the same defect in the system of judicature.  Parenthetically, I may state that I saw with some surprise (not to mention a stronger feeling) a portrait of that notorious criminal exhibited on a bookstall in the Capitol at Washington.  The taste of exhibiting such a portrait in such a place seemed to me extremely questionable.  But there it was, alongside the photographs of poets, philosophers, and statesmen, with nothing whatever to distinguish it from those surrounding it.  A total stranger to the events of the day might have taken Charles Guiteau for an orator like Wendell Phillips, a statesman like Charles Sumner, a poet like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a thinker like Ralph Waldo Emerson, or a leader of political parties like his own victim, James Abram Garfield.  I could not help contrasting the treatment accorded to the portrait of Guiteau in the legislative palace of the United States with the treatment I had seen bestowed on it in England, where the photograph displayed in our shop windows bore the inscription—"The Assassin of Garfield: let his name be forgotten!"  The prolonged trial of the murderer, the latitude which was allowed him, the grotesque antics in which he indulged, and the extraordinary indulgences which he was permitted to enjoy in the intervals of the judicial inquiry, struck people accustomed to the solemnity of our own courts with amazement.  It was not so much a trial as a travesty and a farce.  Down to the very day of the assassin's execution, there was no certainty that the quirks and quibbles of the law would not interpose to save his wretched life.  While the infamous creature was performing the part of Caliban before the whole world, an indignant soldier, maddened by his insolence, tried to terminate the repulsive comedy by dispatching Guiteau in prison.  Had the law been swifter and surer in its operations, Sergeant Mason would not have been impelled to execute justice before it had been decreed. [16]  The public sense of the deed was perhaps expressed in the humorous statement of an American newspaper, that Sergeant Mason was a disgrace to the army, because he had shot at the prisoner and missed him!  During the trial, Guiteau was permitted to hold receptions in the goal, to present autographs to his visitors, and to write letters to the press.  Even after he had been condemned, access to his quarters in prison was so easily obtained that people went to see Guiteau as they would have gone to see any other monstrosity.  I was asked myself whether I would like to see the assassin, but I declined the disgusting treat.  Within a few days of the final scene I read in the newspapers that fifteen hundred persons had, on a particular day, inspected the coffin of the murderer in the undertaker's shop.  More astonishing than all, a Washington journal reported that "several bridal couples appeared at the gaol yesterday, and seemed to enjoy the visit."  It was, however, with a sense of relief that the whole country appeared to receive the news of the last act of this hideous drama.

    The privileges that were permitted to Guiteau do not appear to be altogether exceptional.  Privileges similar in kind, at all events, have been extended, as I gather from the newspapers, to one of the surviving members of what was probably the most atrocious gang of ruffians that ever infested a new country.  The story of the James Boys [17] was told in the English press at the time of the murder of Jesse James, the leader of the band.  Frank and Jesse James, who were quaintly described as "two most audacious villains, and the sons of a Baptist minister," gave their name to a company of cut-throats, train wreckers, and bank robbers, whose depredations extended over several States in the West and South-West, and whose career of crime, lasting seventeen years, was not arrested till hundred of persons had fallen victims to their knives and revolvers.  Jesse James, the principal of these miscreants, had so successfully graduated in crime while serving as a guerrilla in the Confederate service, that he had at the age of thirty-seven been personally concerned in no fewer than one hundred and twenty-five murders.  Thirty-six defenceless citizens fell by his hands alone during a horrible massacre at Lawrence, in the State of Kansas.  More horrible still was an affair at Sedalia, in the adjoining State of Missouri, where he and two associates, the year following the Lawrence exploit, slaughtered thirty-two invalid soldiers who were on the road to the hospital at St. Louis.  A company of the Iowa volunteers, coming to the rescue of the unfortunate invalids, were ambushed and slaughtered also.  When James and his followers had completed the bloody work of the day, which had occupied them no more than two hours, eighty ghastly corpses were strewed about the village!  Banks were robbed and cashiers were shot in Kentucky, in Missouri, in Iowa, in Kansas, and in Minnesota, at various times between 1865 and 1881.  During the same period, the same banded scoundrels were engaged in wrecking trains, robbing passengers, and shooting conductors and engine-drivers on numerous railways—among others, the Kansas Pacific, the Missouri Pacific, the Chicago and Alton, and the Chicago and Pock Island.  Thousands of dollars were of course the reward of these bloodthirsty adventures.  It appears to have been the custom of the gang, when hotly pursued, to retreat into Texas, where they remained till the want of funds or the desire for more bloodshed impelled them to undertake new robberies and murders.  Large reward was offered for the capture of the ruffians in 1874, when a party of detectives were despatched in pursuit of them by Major Allan Pinkerton, whose agents unearthed the terrible conspiracy of the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania. [18]  The James Boys, however, were more fortunate than the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, for the pursuit of the former ended in the death or wounding of nearly every officer sent on the perilous mission.  But the robbers were not always successful in avoiding the dangers of their plundering expeditions.  One of the bandits was killed and another captured in 1875, after they had sacked the bank of Huntingdon.  Again, in the following year, three others were killed and three more severely wounded during an attempt to sack the bank at Northfield, Minnesota.  But the James brothers in both cases managed to effect their escape into Texas.  The authorities of Missouri, unable to circumvent the assassins by exertions of their own, conceived the idea of inviting the assistance of traitors among the gang.  A reward of 50,000 dollars, offered for the body of Jesse James, appears to have stimulated a couple of confederates named Bob and Charlie Ford to undertake the business.  Jesse was assassinated in his own house within the hearing of his wife at a moment when he had put aside his weapons.  Bob Ford was afterwards arrested at the instance of Mrs. James, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged on the 19th of May, 1882.  The Governor of Missouri, however, granted him an unconditional pardon.

    Soon after the murder of Jesse James, his brother Frank surrendered himself to the authorities of the Missouri.  The surrender, which had been planned for a particular time, was conducted in a most dramatic fashion.  Mr. Crittenden, the Governor of Missouri, assembled a number of friends at his official residence in Jefferson City, the capital of the State.  Accompanied by Major John Edwards, James had spent the forenoon in calling at various hotels.  Then, at the appointed hour, they presented themselves before the Governor and his friends.  The proceedings that followed were as formal and dignified as a ceremony at court.  "Governor Crittenden," said Major Edwards, "I want to introduce to you my friend Frank James."  Mr. Crittenden immediately rose from his seat, advanced to the strangers, and shook hands with them.  The other members of the company followed the Governor's example, treating the outlaw rather as an old friend than as a criminal for whose capture, dead or alive, a handsome reward had been offered by the State.  The subsequent courtesies bestowed on the prisoner were quite in keeping with the tender and almost affectionate character of his reception.  The news of the event soon became public, so that when he was taken to Independence for detention crowds of people assembled all along the line to obtain a glimpse of the great cut-throat.  James was at first lodged in an hotel, where he wrote in the register, "Frank James, wife and child," remarking, as he did so, that it was the first time he had signed his real name for sixteen years.  Next day a number of "old friends" were admitted to the gaol to renew acquaintance with the outlaw.  The surrender occurred early in October, 1882.  On the 27th of November James was taken to Kansas City, where, of course, the usual scenes of popular curiosity were witnessed.  While sitting in the waiting-room of the court-house, says a newspaper despatch, a number of citizens were introduced to him.  Even in the court-house itself, though the man was about to be tried for a series of infamous crimes, the same consideration was shown to him.  He was accommodated with "a seat within the bar, between his two attorneys."  That evening, we are told, the "usual number of interviews" occurred.  It was during his stay at an hotel in Jefferson City that Mrs. Crittenden, the wife of the Governor, visited the criminal.  The Governor himself paid him a visit shortly afterwards on "official business."  As bearing on the question of the law's delay, it may be mentioned that the trial of the prisoner did not take place till the end of January, 1883.  And even then the capital charge was withdrawn, the prisoner being held to bail for the minor offence of robbery.  It seems to be generally believed that the accomplished villain will in the and escape punishment altogether.  Such, indeed, is James's confidence as to the future, that he is said to be making arrangements to join the theatrical profession!

    The miscreant who is thus likely not only to escape the gallows, but to return to society, absolved by the law or pardoned by the officers of the State, has no doubt had his attention turned to the stage, as a means of future eminence, by the success which has accompanied the public appearances of the murderers of his brother Jesse.  "Since the Governor of Missouri," said the Cincinnati Enquirer of September 10th, 1882, "pardoned the Ford Boys, they have had any number of tempting offers from sensational showmen, until at last they concluded to exhibit themselves.  The rush to see them has been remarkable, and the little Opera House at Canal and Vine Streets was packed with enthusiastic audiences every night last week.  It was their third week on the stage—a fact which those witnessing their performances easily recognised."  The so-called play in which the Fords appeared was simply a representation of the tragedy that had made them famous, "winding up with the murder of Jesse, just as it occurred in real life."  As a set-off against the popularity of criminals who have been concerned in innumerable outrages, and every one of whom is stained with the blood of innocent people, I am pleased to add some honourable and indignant expressions of opinion on the part of the press.  The editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, writing of the reception of Frank James, "our later Fra Diavolo," remarks:—"Here is a man whose only claim to consideration is that he is understood to be clothed with guilt as with a garment, and Missouri takes him to her throbbing bosom as a mother receives a cherished son that was lost and is found.  The fact that he has followed a career of brigandage for twenty years, defying capture and laughing at pursuit, bringing reproach upon the State and linking his name to a thousand crimes without even the one conjectural virtue, is treated as heroism, and his very infamy paraded as an argument in favour of pity and forgiveness."  Equally earnest is the New York Herald's denunciation of the projected appearance of the miscreant in public:—"The class that will go to see him on the stage is exactly that which would go to see him on the scaffold, and they would as lief see him in the one place as the other.  Mr. James's friends, if he has any, should warn him that, although some managers may allow an unusually bad criminal to pose as a hero, the public will not."

    The acts of violence recorded in the American papers relate chiefly to the Border States, the old Slave States, and the still unsettled territories in the South-West.  It is to be feared that the spirit of the ruffians who crossed the borders of Missouri to do deadly work in Kansas and Nebraska, when John Brown was devoting his life and fortune to the preservation of those districts from the blight of slavery, has not even yet been exorcised.  At any rate it is from the regions named that one gets accounts of desperate and bloody encounters.  "Editors, cow-boys, and a few other renegades," according to Mr. John P. Clum, of Tombstone, Arizona, himself formerly the editor of the Tombstone Epitaph—a lively name for a newspaper—are the classes who principally amuse themselves with revolvers, bowie-knives, and shotguns in that quarter of the States.  Editors we know; but who and what are cow-boys?  Well, cow-boys are persons who are employed in driving vast herds of cattle from the grazing grounds of the South to the great markets of Kansas, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.  The fact that they are employed only half the year in the regular occupation of cattle driving may help to account for this other fact, that they are given on occasion to train-wrecking and similar desperate diversions.  Such, indeed, is the reputation they have acquired, that cow-boy, as used in America, is synonymous with desperado.  A curious account of the doings of a gang of cow-boys in Arizona was published in the Philadelphia Times one day last October.  The gang went by the name of a notorious outlaw known as Curley Bill.  Curley and his comrades were the terror of the districts in which they operated.  But it happily happened that they were as dangerous to each other as they were to peaceable citizens.  A special pet of Curley's was killed by a man named Barter, who fled to New Mexico.  Thither Curley followed the murderer.  News came a few days afterwards that Curley had killed not only Barter, but two other men in the town of Shakspeare.  One Wallace, a friend of Barter's, resolved to avenge his friend's death, and so it came to pass that the murderer of the murderer was himself murdered!  "Thus ended," says a despatch from Tucson, Arizona, "the career of a man who, it is claimed, killed twenty men in hand-to-hand conflicts with knife and pistol during his short career of eighteen months in the Territory."  One other example of cow-boy manners must suffice.  According to a despatch from Colorado, two herds of cattle—one of three thousand belonging to George Howard, and another of four thousand belonging to John Keeley—were being driven in company over the plains from Arizona.  When the drovers reached the point at which they were to separate, one party going to Denver and the other to Kansas City, a quarrel arose about the separation of the herds.  Keeley and Howard thereupon arranged that it should be settled in a novel and tragic style.  Six of Howard's cow-boys were to engage in mortal combat with an equal number in Keeley's service.  Twelve men, all armed to the teeth, faced each other on horseback, fifty feet apart; the signal to fire was given by their employers; and immediately afterwards four of the combatants lay dead on the plains.  "An equitable exchange of cattle was then made; the dead were buried by the other men from both parties; and the drovers with their herds in charge separated for their respective routes!"  So grim an episode of cow-boy life may well be placed among the rarest romances of crime in America.  And yet these same cow-boys are probably neither better nor worse than the "pioneers of civilization" in other parts of the world.

    The record of capital crimes committed in the United States during 1882 is a startling testimony, not only to the prevalence of desperate characters, but to the inefficiency of the means at hand to keep them in check.  The published murders averaged two a-day, or 736 for the whole year.  Of these no fewer than eleven occurred on Christmas Eve.  New York State furnished 131 of the total, considerably more than one half of that fearful number being committed in the Empire City alone.  Capital punishment is abolished in some of the States of the Union, which may help to account for the fact there were only 101 executions in the year.  But while 90 murders were committed in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, the extreme penalty of the law was put in force in four cases only.  The impunity enjoyed by the criminal classes goes a long way to justify the vigorous action of Judge Lynch, by whose orders 57 reputed murderers were put to death in the course of 1882.


 
CHAPTER XXVII.

THE SYSTEM OF ELECTING JUDGES—THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES—JUDGE MALLORY OF MILWAUKEE—COMMON LAW COURTS IN CHICAGO—SELECTING A JURY—FREE AND EASY PROCEEDINGS IN A CHICAGO COURT—"ENGLISH LAW, INDEED!"—EVILS OF THE ELECTIVE SYSTEM—"FISK'S JUDGE"—"JUDGE WHITEWASH"—THE AMERICAN SIDE OF THE QUESTION—"NEW YORK EVENING TELEGRAM."


THE system of choosing the administrators of the law in many of the States of America is open to grave objection.  Judges who are beholding to popular favour for the positions they hold can hardly be expected, as a rule, to deliver judgments which are calculated to imperil their chances of success in the event of seeking re-election.  Justice in the popular rather than the higher sense is thus most likely to be obtained.  Moreover, the persons who are appointed in some of the least orderly districts of the country are not always, perhaps, the most suitable men for the posts.  Since they are political partisans at the beginning, elected because they are political partisans, and dependent for reappointment on the party which nominated them, it is not in human nature that they can fail at times to be influenced by partisan spirit in the discharge of their magisterial functions.  Again, political influence rather than judicial qualifications necessarily enter into the selection of judges who are appointed in the manner adopted in certain parts of the United States.  Many of the evils associated with the lax administration of the law are no doubt attributable to the abuse of the democratic principle in this regard.  The same thing would happen in any country in the world where the same system should be pursued.

    But all judges, contrary to the common impression in England, are not elected by popular vote.  It is only inferior magistrates, such as our justices of the peace, who are thus chosen.  The judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, for example, are appointed for life, and are in nearly every instance men of the very highest character and ability.  Even when elected, as we elect our town councillors and our guardians of the poor, such a choice is sometimes made as could not possibly be improved upon by the most perfect arrangement known to mankind.  The gentleman who presides over the police court at Milwaukee is a case in point.  Judge Mallory has occupied his present position for the last nineteen years.  When I asked Mr. Williams, the District Attorney, whether the judge, like other officers of
the city, had not to be elected by the people, that gentleman informed me that it was no use anybody standing in opposition to Mr. Mallory—that Mr. Mallory had, in fact, discharged his duties in so able and satisfactory a manner, that he was likely to dispense justice in the Municipal Court of Milwaukee as long as he cared to retain the office.  During the short time I spent in Mr. Mallory's court, I had an opportunity of noticing the careful way in which he tried to get at the truth of the matter before him.  Milwaukee contains a population of many thousand Germans—30 per cent. of the whole, I believe.  Other foreign elements also prevail in the city.  It thus happened that many of the witnesses who gave evidence testified in a foreign language, not being able to speak any but their own.  The judge's difficulty in eliciting the real facts of the cases he had to decide was in consequence considerably increased.  What I saw and heard, however, left no doubt in my own mind that justice as exact as can be obtained before a human tribunal was administered in the police court of the Cream City.  I may add that Wisconsin is one of the States in which lady lawyers are allowed to plead.  One of these fair professors of the law was engaged to defend a prisoner who was awaiting his trial before Judge Mallory; but my engagements unfortunately prevented me from forming an opinion of the skill with which she conducted the defence.

    The only other experience I had of the administration of justice in America was in Chicago, where I visited two of the Common Law Courts.  It was in one of these courts that I noticed the great pains that are taken to ensure the impartiality of the jurors.  Every juryman was asked such a variety of questions that he seemed to be undergoing a kind of preliminary examination himself.  Did he know the parties to the suit?  Had he formed an opinion on the case?  Did he know anything at all about it?  Was he in any way interested, directly or indirectly, in the issue?  These and a number of other questions were put to him by the lawyers engaged on either side.  If his answers were satisfactory, he was allowed to be sworn; if not, he was requested to stand aside.  Considerable time was consumed in impanelling the jury.  When "twelve good men and true" had been selected, they were sworn altogether, an officer of the court reading the oath, and the twelve occupants of the jury box holding up their right hands.  A case was being tried in another civil court when I entered it.  The cause which was proceeding appeared to be an action for damages on account of injuries which the plaintiff had sustained by reason of the negligence of the defendant.  The judge, without wig or gown, sat in a rocking-chair on an elevated platform which constituted the bench.  An advocate, also dressed in plain clothes, was addressing the jury, standing all the time with his back to the gentleman who presided over the court.  As far as I could see, the judge appeared to have little or nothing to do with this part of the business.  There was a free and easy air about the whole proceedings which struck me as being remarkable.  One has heard stories of judges in remote quarters of the States amusing themselves in court by whittling sticks with their jack knives.  The judge whom I saw in Chicago had neither stick nor jack knife; but he seemed to pay scarcely any attention to the arguments which the counsel was addressing to the jury.  When he had got tired of rocking himself in his chair, he rose from his seat, walked about the platform with his hands in his pockets, strolled out of the court, and then strolled leisurely back again, just as if the affair did not concern him at all.  It is probable that the case was one which the jury, and not the judge, would have to decide.  As every State can make its own laws, providing they do not contravene the laws and constitution of the general government, the practice in Illinois may differ from the practice in other parts of the Union.  Be this as it may, the proceedings I witnessed in Chicago could not fail to impress one as singularly free from the severe and solemn formalities associated with a higher court of justice in England.

    An accomplished Boston lawyer, Mr. Henry M. Rogers, told me an amusing story that is said to have occurred in an American court.  The law of the States is based on the same principles, as the law of England.  It is, indeed, the same law, varied only by Acts of Congress or of Parliament.  Our great jurists are in consequence received authorities in the courts of the Republic, just as the eminent lawyers of America, such as Kent and Storey, are sometimes quoted before our own tribunals.  Well, it happened on one occasion that an argument was being used against a suitor which, according to English law, was damaging to his claims, whereupon the suitor in question is reported to have uttered a protest in some such language as the following:—"English law!  What have we to do with English law?  Didn't our forefathers drive out the English a century ago, shedding their best blood in the struggle?  What's all this talk about English law, then?  Is the law of that effete old monarchy to decide cases in this free Republic?  No, sir!  There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States to warrant this humbug.  Our people won't stand it, sir; they will go to war with the old country again first.  Do you hear?  No, sir, we will have no English law in this great country."  How the irate suitor was appeased, or whether he was ever appeased at all, the story did not relate.

    Civil Service Reform, long demanded by the more thoughtful portion of the population, will one day be an accomplished fact in America.  Not less necessary is a similar reform in local government, especially that part of local government which relates to the administration of justice.  If all magistrates appointed to civil courts were as able, as honest, and as much respected as Judge Mallory of Milwaukee, there would be no need of change.  There are, however, certain districts which are said or supposed to be notorious for judges who are the reverse of Judge Mallory.  During the time of what was known as the Erie War—that is, the time when James Fisk and the shareholders of the Erie Railway were engaged in a prolonged legal struggle for the control and possession of that line—it was imputed that one of the judges before whom the matter was every now and then brought was so much under the influence of one of the parties to the suit that he was called "Fisk's judge."  Last year, again, a certain Judge Westbrook, on account of his decisions regarding the Elevated Railway in New York, was designated in some of the newspapers "Judge Whitewash."  It is possible that both these functionaries may have been shamefully maligned.  Indeed, it is always prudent to accept with great caution and reserve whatever is said about public officials when personal questions are involved.  At the same time one would not like to place reliance on the integrity and uprightness of a magistrate who should happen to be chosen under the auspices of Tammany Hall.  The time will come perhaps when Americans will see the impolicy of the popular election of persons who are to arbitrate between man and man.  Already a movement is in progress towards that end in certain States of the Union.  If it be desirable that officials connected with the different branches of the civil service—post-masters, collectors of customs, and so forth—should be allowed to hold office during good behaviour, it is unquestionably still more desirable that the same principle should be applied to all legal functionaries whatsoever.  No country, least of all a free country like America, can afford to permit the slightest suspicion to attach to the fount and source of justice.

    The opinions advanced in the foregoing pages attracted some little attention at the time they were originally published.  Thus a gentleman whom I know to be perfectly competent to speak on the subject wrote to the editor of the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle:—


Viator very fairly contends that persons holding the position of administrators of the law should be permitted to retain office during good behaviour.  Practically this is the system that is carried out in America with elective judges.  Judge Mallory, who is mentioned by Viator, is himself a case in point.  Milwaukee was formerly a Democratic city.  Mr. Mallory was elected municipal judge—equivalent to a stipendiary magistrate—by Democratic votes.  Latterly, however, the Republicans have controlled the city; but the bar, in common with all citizens of position, always unite to re-elect competent judges, regardless of their party principles.  They have acted upon that idea in the re-elections of Judge Mallory, a fair and fearless administrator of justice.  I am one of those who place more reliance upon the purity of motive which animates the people than upon that which moves a member of Parliament, who, as we know, practically appoints magistrates in England, and that for political reasons too.  I could multiply cases of State judges who have been elected over and over again by the votes of political opponents.  The condition of society in a new country—and not the elective system—is the cause of occasional shortcomings in the administration of the law in the United States.


    The same side of the case, too, was presented in a leading article which appeared in the New York Telegram, the evening edition of the New York Herald, on March 21, 1883.  As the article presents a really fair statement of the reasons why Americans prefer their own system, I reprint it entire:—


The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle contains a letter from an English gentleman of prominence who is travelling in America, that presents some striking suggestions concerning the working in this country of the elective judiciary system.  This observer discovers in Milwaukee a magistrate, Judge James G. Mallory, who, while noted for the rigour of his dealings with the criminal classes, is, nevertheless, so strong with all other classes that no candidate can ever be found to stand against him, so that he virtually holds a life tenure of his office.  This instance, however, is adduced as an exception to the general workings of the elective system, and this commentator predicts that the time will come when Americans will see the impolicy of the popular election of persons who are to arbitrate between man and man.  He notes that there is already a movement toward that end in certain States of the Union.  He argues that, if it be desirable that officials connected with the different branches of the civil service—postmasters, collectors of customs, and so forth—should be allowed to hold office during good behaviour, it is unquestionably still more desirable that the same principle should be applied to all legal functionaries.  He says:—


"During the time of what was known as the Erie war—that is, the time when James Fisk and the shareholders of the Erie Railway were engaged in a prolonged legal struggle for the control and possession of that line—it was imputed that one of the judges before whom the matter was every now and then brought was so much under the influence of one of the parties to the suit that he was called 'Fisk's judge.'  Last year, again, a certain Judge Westbrook, on account of his decisions regarding the Elevated Railway in New York, was designated in some of the newspapers 'Judge Whitewash.'  It is possible that both these functionaries may have been shamefully maligned.  Indeed, it is always prudent to accept with great caution and reserve whatever is said about public officials when personal questions are involved.  At the same time one would not like to place reliance on the integrity and uprightness of a magistrate who should happen to be chosen under the auspices of Tammany Hall."


    Conceding the force which the objections to an elective judiciary unquestionably have, we believe that it has yet to be shown that any other mode of creating judges would not be open to still greater objections.  The only conditions to a worthy elective judiciary are an adequate display of intelligence, vigilance, and morality on the part of the people.  If the people will not take the trouble to nominate and to elect honest and capable officers to dispense justice among them, they deserve to suffer the consequences of their neglect to do so.  If the people are not competent to select men to preside over their most sacred rights, what authority is competent?  The State courts and the elective system have thus far produced quite as pure and eminent jurists, and have contributed fully as much to the repute of American jurisprudence, as the Federal courts, whose judges are appointed by a political President.  The United States Supreme Court, packed with reference to legal tender decisions and in the interest of corporations, and voting two ways at the same moment respecting the electoral controversy, does not present au altogether convincing argument against the election of judges by the people.

    As to the argument in favour of a life tenure, it occurs to us that the instance above cited is a good deal more to the point.  When the people discover a treasure of competency and incorruptibility upon the bench, they now have it readily within their power to keep him there for life.  On the other hand, it is now as easy for them to get rid of an unworthy judge.  The ease and promptitude with which an aroused public sentiment purified the bench in this community of the Tweed and Fisk judges is an argument in favour of leaving the judiciary system as it is.

    Finally, the tendency to tamper with the present constitution of the judiciary, like the experimenting in biennial sessions, is undemocratic and un-American, is devised in the interest of corporations and of aggregated capital, and is based upon the assumption that the people are incapable of self-government.  If the people are too ignorant, too busy, or too selfish to elect proper officers, whether judicial or administrative, let them be taught by a costly experience the consequences of their neglect.  The present system of popular government is good enough, if only it be properly and conscientiously applied.

 


 
CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE COMMON SCHOOLS OF AMERICA—EDUCATION FREE TO ALL-SCHOOL COMMITTEES—SCHOOL LANDS—HIGH SCHOOLS-BAPTIST COLLEGE AT ROCHESTER—UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI—A PRIMARY SCHOOL AT ROXBURY—SCHOOL ATTENDANCE IN BOSTON—HIGH SCHOOL EXERCISES AT LAKE VIEW, CHICAGO—CATHOLIC CLAIMS—GENERAL GRANT'S PROTEST—STATISTICS OF ILLITERACY—EDUCATION AMONG THE NEGROES—HAPPY EFFECTS OF THE AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM.


EDUCATION in free countries is not so much a matter of pride as a matter of necessity.  The citizens of America long ago recognised that the first condition of success in the great experiment they commenced in 1776 was the culture of the people.  From this early conception of the requirements of the Republic there has sprung that magnificent system of common schools which is one of the chief glories of the United States.  Throughout the whole of the older and more northern portion of the commonwealth there are abundant facilities for the free and thorough education of rich and poor alike.  The largest buildings in most districts—at least in the Northern States—are often schools or colleges.  Built rather for accommodation than for architectural effect, the school buildings are generally square, lofty, and substantial edifices.  But of course the schools in the different parts of the country vary as much in outward appearance as in internal economy.  Variation, moreover, prevails also in the state of education, as I shall have shortly to explain.  The fact remains, however, that native-born Americans in most of the States which originally constituted the Republic are as well educated as the people of any part of the world.

    When a new community is formed in America, one of the earliest matters to which the settlers attend is the selection of a school committee.  The scholastic interests of the people, indeed, are looked after even before towns and cities are established.  The territories of the United States are divided into townships, each township exactly six miles square.  (It is this mode of arrangement, as has already been remarked, that gives to maps of the country the appearance of chequer board.)  "For school purposes," says Albert G. Shaw, "a township is made a separate and distinct corporation, with the legal style, 'Trustees of Schools of Township--, Range--,' according to the number by which the township is designated in the Congressional Survey."  The school trustees—three in number, who are usually elected with the other officers of the township at a primary meeting of the citizens—have authority to divide the township into school districts.  "It is the custom," Colonel Shaw continues, "to divide it into nine districts two miles square, and to erect a school near the centre of each.  As the country roads are in many instances constructed on the section lines, and therefore run north and south, east and west, at intervals of a mile, the traveller expects to find a school-house at every alternate crossing."  The control of the schools thus provided is vested in the hands of school directors chosen by the inhabitants, who are obliged by law to maintain a free school for not less than five nor more than nine months in every year.  The school directors are empowered to levy taxes or all the taxable property in the district, though they are forbidden to exceed a rate of 2 per cent. for educational or 3 per cent. for building purposes.  Township funds for the support of schools are derived from three sources—first, from the proceeds of the school lands given by the United States Government, the interest from which alone may be expended; second, from the State school fund, which is raised by annual levies on all property of a tax of one-fifth of 1 per cent.; and, third, from the rates collected in the district itself.  The public school, therefore, is an established part of the system of local government in America.  And the schools, which are placed, as we have seen, within easy access of every inhabitant of a settled district, are free to all, every person between the ages of six and twenty-one being entitled, without cost of any kind, to school privileges.

    Not only are the scholars in the primary schools taught free, but school books and other appliances of education are supplied to them free also.  High schools, equivalent to our grammar schools, are likewise in many States established for the free education of the people; but the scholars who attend these advanced seminaries are required to purchase their own books.  Besides the institutions just mentioned, which offer to every child in the community a sound and gratuitous education, colleges and universities, maintained by public benevolence or supported by State aid, are to be found all over the continent.  Many of the religious denominations, perhaps all of them, have colleges of their own, admission to which, however, is not necessarily confined to members of those bodies.  The Baptists, for instance, have established a college at Rochester, which is one of the most important educational agencies in the State of New York.  It is in this college that Dr. T. Harwood Pattison, as mentioned in a previous chapter, is Professor of Theology.  The advantage of the Rochester institution, I understand from Dr. Pattison, so far from being confined to people of the Baptist persuasion, is open on conditions perscribed to everybody who thinks proper to avail himself of them.  Certain States have their own universities.  The State of Missouri, for example, is equipped in this manner.  The first Constitution of Missouri, adopted at St. Louis in 1820, declared "Schools and the means of education shall be for ever encouraged in this State.  One school or more shall be established in each township."  For the support of the Missouri University the general Government made a grant of 46,000 acres of land to the State when it was first organized and admitted into the Union.  The older and more famous universities of America—that of Yale at New Haven in Connecticut, and that of Harvard at Cambridge in Massachusetts—are almost as celebrated in the academic annals of the world as those of Oxford and Cambridge in our own country.  Private generosity very frequently comes to the assistance of the public in the provision of scholastic facilities.  The late Colonel Ralph Plumb, who last year erected a high school for the city of Streator, in the Illinois coalfield, at a cost of 40,000 dollars, was by no means a solitary example of munificent regard for the intellectual welfare of the American people.

    I had opportunities of seeing some little of the work done both in the primary school and in the high school—the former at Roxbury, a pleasant suburb of Boston; the latter at Lake View, a township just outside the city limits of Chicago.

    A friend who was with me at Roxbury had a horror of public speaking, though he was at one time a well-known orator in England.  Being aware that it was the custom in the public schools of America for the teachers to ask visitors to address a few words to the children, he was rather doubtful about venturing inside the large and lofty building which we knew from its appearance to be a public school.  The superintendent in this case, however, was an exception to the rule; for he showed us the various class-rooms, explained the system of education pursued, and introduced us to his numerous assistants, most of whom were young ladies as comely as they were efficient, without requesting the customary few words.  It would be difficult to see anywhere a cleaner or more healthy lot of children than the different class-rooms contained.  With a superintendent so able, teachers so accomplished, and scholars so apt as those of Roxbury, there was not much danger, it seemed to me, of the educational interests of that part of the States being neglected. The school-house was a model of excellence for the purpose designed.  Three storeys in height, it contained on each floor a series of large rooms, which were so constructed as to be kept cool and comfortable in summer and warm and comfortable in winter.  I may add that education is so highly appreciated in Boston that there is no need there for truant officers.  Mr. G. W. Hastings, M.P., stated at the Social Science Congress of 1882 that he had asked the Secretary of the Board of Education in Boston how many children were absent from school on a particular day without cause.  The number of absentees for the whole city, he was informed, was just two children!

    The occasion on which I visited the high school at Lake View—a handsome building overlooking Lake Michigan—was the eighth anniversary of that establishment.  It is a peculiar and interesting custom at these high schools to hold at the close of the scholastic season what are called graduating exercises.  The graduates of the year compose themes on any subject they please; friends and relations of the pupils then assemble at the school; and the graduating pupils recite the themes they have composed.  Among the subjects which were discussed in the recitations of the scholars at Lake View were these:—"The Dignity of Labour," "Civil Service Reform," "Practical Education," and "The Pleasures of Hope and Memory."  One young lady, replying to the question, "What Art's for a Woman?" protested against the political enfranchisement of her sex; while the young man who chose civil service reform for a text complained that millions of dollars were spent in buying votes.  "From the President to the lowest office-holder," he declared, "all are exposed to the political cancer."  The occasion on which these addresses were delivered was evidently considered an event of some importance; for the building was crowded with scholars and their friends.  The district in which the institution is situated is purely rural; hence all who attended the anniversary had to come from long distances.  Large numbers travelled in their own buggies, while special trains of steam tram-cars carried many others back towards Chicago.  The "sweet girl graduates" were all dressed in white, as were also many others of the scholars.  Each graduate, as soon as the theme was delivered, was presented with bouquets or baskets of flowers: so that by the time the exercises were concluded almost the whole front of the platform resembled a luxurious flower garden.  The composition of the essays and the manner in which they were recited by the young people who had prepared them, testified to the admirable qualities of the education which Professor Nightingale, the principal of the high school, had imparted to the youths and maidens who had been under his guidance.  The proceedings were brought to a close by addresses from trustees of the school and members of the Board of Education.  The scholars, however, and not those who attended to listen to them, performed the principal part in the evening's entertainment.

    There was at one time considerable apprehension that the school system of the United States was in some danger from the claims of the Catholic portion of the community.  General Grant, it may be remembered, made a strong and energetic declaration on the subject during the time he was President.  It would certainly be outrageous were a foreign element to be allowed to undo the work established by the founders of the Republic.  American citizens even yet bitterly complain that they should, after having provided for the education of their own sons and daughters, be exposed to the invasion of hordes of illiterate people from Europe, who threaten to disturb the established order of things.  Much mischief has already arisen from this cause.  One hears in New York of the exceptional privileges which have been granted to the Catholic denomination.  Even in Boston the adherents of the Church of Rome have so largely increased that the managers of the common schools have made concessions to their prejudices.  If the admirable policy hitherto pursued in the matter of education in the States should be overturned in order to conciliate or gratify a persistent portion of the community, it is greatly to be feared that evil days will be in store for America.  Americans have every right and justice on their side when they insist, as some of them are energetically insisting, that the persons who are offered the hospitality of a free country should leave behind them the ideas they have imbibed in the despotic nations from which they have escaped.  No contention can be more sound than that America, if the prosperity of the country is to continue, must be governed according to American ideas.

    Notwithstanding the excellent provision made in most of the States of the Union for the education of the people, there is a much larger percentage of illiterate persons in the country than is commonly supposed.  The last census showed that the aggregate population of the United States, of ten years and upwards, amounted to 36,761,607.  Of these, 4,923,451, or 13.4 per cent., were returned as unable to read, and 6,239,958, or 17 per cent., as unable to write.  A vast majority of the illiterate part of the population consists, as may readily be supposed, of the recently emancipated negroes.  Out of 4,601,207 coloured people above ten years of age, no fewer than 3,220,878 were found to be unable to write.  Even in the Northern States, owing, no doubt, to the enormous arrivals from Europe, a great deal of illiteracy prevails.  But the contrast between North and South in this matter is astonishing.  The percentage of persons unable to read is 5.3 in Massachusetts, 4.0 in Wisconsin, and 2.4 in Iowa; while the same percentage is 43.5 in Alabama and 48.2 in South Carolina.  Some alarm was naturally created when the statement was made before the National Educational Convention in August, 1882, that 32 per cent. of the voters of the country were unable to read the ballots which they cast.  That there are two million voters who cannot spell the names of the candidates to whom they give their suffrages must necessarily be a subject of grave anxiety to the citizens of the Republic.  Three-fourths of the two millions of illiterate electors live in the old Slave States, large numbers of whom, of course, were born and reared in slavery.  But the trouble is that most of the children of the emancipated slaves are growing up in as dense ignorance as their parents.  The extension of the suffrage in England was immediately followed by the establishment of a national system of education; but the enfranchisement of the negro has not so far been followed by the same happy result in the Southern States.  Even Southerners, however, may be expected before long to appreciate the sentiment of a New York journal, that "an ignorant mass of voters is, under our political system, a constant source of danger to the State."

    No system could have been better devised for uniting the community into one homogeneous nation than the common-school system of the United States.  Since all children are taught by the same masters, sit on the same benches, and learn from the same books, it necessarily follows that the divisions which prevail elsewhere are to a large extent obliterated in that country.  It is probably due to this cause that there is a greater degree of equality, not so much in wealth as in social intercourse, among the citizens of the Republic than among any other people in the world.  Poor and rich mix together there in a manner that would astonish people in England if so pleasant a phenomenon were witnessed in these islands.  The common schools on the one hand, and the arrangements for railway travelling on the other, level all mere artificial distinctions in the United States.


 
CHAPTER XXIX.

CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE—VIEWS OF W. J. LINTON—"NO COUNTRY FOR THE POOR MAN"—INTERVIEW WITH WENDELL PHILLIPS—THE IRISH QUESTION—THE RIGHT TO SECEDE—"A ROUGH AVERAGE HAPPINESS FOR THE MILLIONS"—AN ILLINOIS COALMINER—PREFERENCE FOR AMERICA—LONGER HOURS OF LABOUR—WAGES OF WORKING PEOPLE—THE SLUMS OF NEW YORK—"GO WEST, YOUNG MAN"—STRIKE OF IRONWORKERS—SALOONS AND SQUALOR IN CLEVELAND—"HIRED GIRLS."


BEFORE giving the result of my own observations concerning the social condition of the American people, it may not be without interest if I state the opinions of three different persons whom I met in three different parts of the country—the first a sojourner from England, the second a native of Massachusetts, the third a settler from Scotland.

    The name of W. J. Linton—an artist, a poet, and a politician—is well known in literary and artistic circles.  The "History of Engraving in America," which Mr. Linton has lately published, has been the subject of animated discussion in American reviews and magazines.  Mr. Linton, with whom I was connected in certain political experiments more than a quarter of a century ago, has of late years taken up his abode in the outskirts of New Haven.  It was there I visited him.  Though he was then in his seventieth year, he was engaged in occupations which would seem to require the energy and strength of a person twenty years younger.  He not only illustrated his own books, but he actually printed and in some cases even bound them.  The whole of the work was his, from the engraving of the blocks, the writing of the letter-press, and the setting up of the types, to the working off of the sheets.  Mr. Linton was even more completely the author and producer of his own books than William Blake was the author and producer of his famous poems and etchings; for Blake, it may be remembered, had the assistance of his wife, while Linton had no assistant whatever.  Well, I found my old friend not only vigorous in person, but youthful in spirit.  The man whom I saw at New Haven was in almost all respects the same man whom I knew in 1854, when on the banks of Coniston Water we dreamed together of the establishment of an English Republic.  Mr. Linton had relinquished none of his ideas, forgotten none of his projects, lost none of his enthusiasm.  As abundant as ever was his faith in the future of humanity.  I mention these facts for the purpose of emphasising his opinions on the condition of American society.  Like others of his ancient associates who were residing in America, Mr. Linton regarded with equal disfavour the political and the social state of the country.  Politics, he contended, had become a mere scramble for office.  A recent scandal in New Haven—a scandal in which two young men of position were suspected of conspiring with an abandoned woman to first ruin and then murder a respectable girl belonging to that city—gave point to some of his strictures on the morals of the community.  "America," he said, "is no country for the poor man."  Even in the State of Connecticut, he added, laws have been passed forbidding vagrancy.  The Republic of the United States is clearly not the ideal Republic which Mr. Linton still believes it is possible to establish on earth. [19]

    One of the greatest movements of our century, which was also happily one of the most successful in the history of the world, was that for the abolition of slavery in the Southern States of America.  It was a movement that involved more than the emancipation of four million negroes; for it involved, too, the dignity of labour and the credit of the labourer in every part of the globe.  Of all the noble men and women who threw themselves into that great agitation, none was more fervent in spirit, more resolute in counsel, or more eloquent in speech, than Wendell Phillips, the coadjutor of Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner, Theodore Parker, and a host of other earnest and uncompromising enemies of the slave system.   It was to Mr. Phillips that I went one day in Boston with a letter of introduction from my friend Mr. Linton.  I found Mr. Phillips, as I found every other American of eminence to whom I was introduced, accessible and cordial.  Although I was a perfect stranger even by name, although I had no other object than the satisfaction of making the acquaintance of a man whom I highly esteemed, he received me so kindly that I did not feel that my visit was in any way an intrusion.  During the short time I ventured to inflict myself upon Mr. Phillips's attention, two or three subjects of interest to folks at home were mentioned.  Mr. Phillips had taken a determined stand on the Irish question—favourable to Ireland, but somewhat hostile to England.  When I told him that I thought the point on which all Englishmen were united was that of the integrity of the kingdom, Mr. Phillips remarked that he had told some of his Irish friends that Ireland was not big enough to make a strong self-reliant nation, that she might become a sort of Switzerland, and that it was perhaps better for her to remain united to Britain, and so continue part and parcel of a great country.  The argument that the position of England was precisely the same as that of America when South Carolina wanted to secede, reminded Mr. Phillips of a conversation he had at the time of the war with the late Lord Amberley.  The noble lord had contended, like his father, Earl Russell, that the North had no right to coerce the South.  "But," asked Mr. Phillips, "what if Ireland should want her independence?"  Lord Amberley could only respond that that was a different matter!  We talked also, however, about the condition of America.  Mr. Phillips is probably no more satisfied with that condition than any other man who has entertained great and exalted hopes for the future of mankind; but he made one remark which seemed to indicate that he did not regard with the same misgivings as Mr. Linton the position and prospects of the Republic.  "We manage in this country," he said, "to work out a rough average happiness for the millions."  Well, any country of which it can be fairly said that "a rough average happiness for the millions" is worked out by the millions themselves cannot be in a very bad way after all.

    The visit I paid to the Illinois coal-field brought me into communication with several miners from the old country.  Some of them were located on the land, cultivating their own farms, and sitting under their own vines and fig-trees.  Two had gone into partnership, and were about to open a coal-bank on an estate they had purchased on the muddy margin of the Vermilion River.  I had occasion to call at the house of Mr. Thomas White, who had emigrated from Scotland.  Though it was late in the afternoon, and though he had been engaged in the mines from early morning, Mr. White had not returned from his work.  The house he occupied and owned was situated in a neighbourhood which had only been partially cleared of the primeval forest.  It was scrupulously clean and thoroughly comfortable.  Moreover, it seemed to be surrounded with sufficient land to enable its owner to grow many products for the wants of his family.  I asked Mrs. White which she preferred, the old country or the new.  The answer she returned was precisely the same as that I received from every other person who had resided a few years in America and to whom I put the same question.  She would, she said, never think of going back again.  If she had newly arrived in the country, and had not become accustomed to the climate and other conditions of American life, she would probably have given a different answer.  The class of grumblers, commonly called "soreheads," in the States and in Canada, are in fact usually recruited from the ranks of fresh settlers.  When Mr. White returned home in the evening, I asked him how it was that he preferred America to his native land, since he had to work so much longer in the one country than the other.  "Well," said he, "I would rather work twelve hours for myself than eight hours for somebody else."  What he meant was probably this, that eight hours at home only produced enough wages for a working man to live, while twelve hours in America produced enough, not only to enable him to live, but to enable him also to invest some of his earnings in the purchase of a homestead.  There was certainly no disposition on the part of any of the working men I met in the coal-field of Illinois to complain of their material condition in their new country.  Comfortable and prosperous, they had at least some prospect of acquiring a competency in old age.

    Speaking generally, it appears to be the rule that men work longer and harder in America than they do in England; but long hours and hard work, owing to climatic considerations, are probably less exhausting in America than the same hours and the same labour would be in England.  The climate of America, indeed, as I have already indicated, acts as a stimulant to the physical and mental energies of the people who dwell in it.  Mr. Herbert Spencer, noticing the incessant work and worry which he saw to be the characteristics of almost all classes of Americans, suggested that it was time to preach the doctrine of relaxation.  But though the climate does urge men to exertion, operating in this respect like a constant tonic, it is not without numerous drawbacks.  It impels some men forward in such a way that they soon wear themselves out.  Nor is this all.  The intense heat of summer, not to mention the frequent accompaniments of mosquitoes and similar plagues, is a serious discomfort, especially to certain sections of working men, who, following their occupations in the fierce glare of the sun, sometimes succumb to the solar influences.  But the lot of the poor, endurable in summer, must be terrible in winter, when the least exposure without the warmest of warm clothing causes intolerable pain, if not lasting injury.  Such is the severity of the cold experienced during what are called "cold snaps," that life would be almost impossible in the more northern regions of the States except for the wonderful dryness of the atmosphere.  When the thermometer descends, as it sometimes does, to twenty or thirty degrees below zero, everybody can understand that rags and wretchedness must often prove fatal.  The wages which working men earn, as a rule, though handsome according to our standard, can hardly suffice to furnish protection against the inclemencies of winter.  Agricultural labourers last summer were receiving in some parts of the Northern States from one dollar and a half to two dollars and a half per day, equal to 6s. or 10s. of our money, in addition to board and lodging.  While being shown through the establishment of Messrs. Rand and McNally, a famous firm of map and railway printers in Chicago, I inquired the rate of wages paid to the workpeople.  Working printers, I was informed, make about eighteen dollars per week—equivalent to £3. 12s.  These wages would no doubt be considered handsome in England; but as the cost of clothing and house-rent is higher in America than it is in England, though the cost of many of the necessaries of life is certainly lower, the advantage of better wages may, at least to the extent named, be considered more apparent than real.  Taking all things into account, especially the fact that the artizan in America lives upon a more expensive scale than his brother in England, it is possible that the social and economical condition of the industrial classes is not greatly superior to the condition of the same classes in our own country when trade is brisk and employment plentiful.

    It would seem that the poorer classes in America have fewer domestic comforts than they have in England.  This is mainly owing, I believe, to the greater cost of houses and house-rent. There are in the lower portions of New York as much squalor and wretchedness as in most large cities in Europe.  The fault, however, probably arises in this case from the dissipated and improvident habits of the persons who endure the misery.  At any rate, it is pretty certain that every man of sound body and mind who cares to take the advice of Horace Greeley, "Go West, young man," can lift himself clear out of social degradation.  Millions of acres of fertile land in the Far Western States can be had almost for the asking.  Such being the case, it is surely the fault of those who remain in the great cities if they do not profit by the chances that are offered them.  A recent visitor to Dakota has given numerous and attractive stories of the success of working men in that region.  A shoemaker has acquired 500 acres of land; a railway workman is the proprietor of a homestead of nearly the same extent; and a labourer who, four years ago, possessed little more than the clothes he wore, has now 320 acres—house and barns, teams and dairy cattle.  Surely it were better to accept Mr. Greeley's advice than to remain wallowing in the slums of New York.  But poverty, or at all events the appearance of poverty, is not confined to the populous cities on the Atlantic coast.  A great strike of ironworkers, extending over a large portion of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other States, was proceeding at the time I was in Cleveland.  I therefore made an excursion to that portion of the Forest City—this nickname, by-the-way, is now a misnomer, for the forest has almost entirely disappeared—where the iron furnaces are situated, some four or five miles from the centre of Cleveland.  I saw no indications of a strike beyond groups of men standing here and there idly together, and a rather numerous body of policemen walking about in couples; but I saw something of the habitations of the working classes.  Many of the shops along the route I took bore foreign names on the sign-boards, and almost every other shop seemed to be a saloon, otherwise a drinking-house.  The names of the proprietors were for the most part unmistakably either Irish or German.  As for the condition of the people, so far as I was able to observe it, it appeared to me no better than that of the working population in any similar district in England.  The prevailing features of the locality, apart from the saloons, were dirt and bare-footed children.  It may be that the dirt and the bare feet of the children had some connection with the multitude and popularity of the saloons.

    Charles Dickens has recorded his annoyance when a shoemaker in the United States, who came to measure him for a pair of boots, ventured to speak to him in the free and familiar manner customary in that country.  The servile deference observed in old communities is almost entirely absent in America.  People are courteous without being subservient—dignified without being insolent.  It is known that they so much resent the idea of inferiority in all the occupations of life, that no one will accept the designation of servant.  The young women who discharge household duties in families are called "hired girls."  Few of them, however, are natives of the country.  For some reason or other—probably because the American mind revolts against servitude of any kind—domestic work has fallen into the hands of immigrants.  And these immigrants, as the phrase goes, have "a high old time" of it.  I believe it is not customary for them to wash the linen, to wait at table, or even to clean the boots.  At any rate, this was the case in one family of which I was a guest.  I could not black my own boots, which I would otherwise willingly have done, for the simple reason that I did not know where to find the necessary materials.  The consequence was, that I was exposed to considerable embarrassment from the knowledge I had that the polishing process was performed by a younger branch of the family.  That embarrassment was still further increased when, wishing in some way to recognise the service I had received, the young gentleman in question "went off on his ear"—that is to say, exhibited as much indignation as if I had offered him a deliberate affront.


[Next Page]

_________________________


FOOTNOTES.


16.    Mason was tried by court-martial and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.  Efforts have been made since to obtain his release; but the Secretary of War (Mr. Robert T. Lincoln, son of president Lincoln) has declined to interfere in the matter, because "the man's pardon would justify the essence of mob-law."

17.    Boys is a term more commonly used in America than in England.  When two or more men of the same name are concerned in the same venture, the word comes into play, as the James Boys, the Ford Boys, the Malley Boys, etc.  Boys, too, is very convenient for use on other occasions; for a person about to visit his friends explains that he is "going down to see the boys."

18.    Molly Maguires was the name assumed by a secret society of Irishmen which for many years created terror and dismay in the coal districts of Pennsylvania.  Murders and outrages were of constant occurrence while the conspiracy was in full operation.  The ordinary authorities were utterly unable to cope with the mischief.  It was only when a detective of the name of McParlan became an active and leading member of the organization that the murderers were brought to justice.  McParlan (who had worked in England at Gateshead and Wallsend) was connected with a famous detective agency which Major Pinkerton, formerly a Glasgow Chartist, has established in Chicago.

19.    Mr. Linton, who had seen what I had written about him as it was passing through the press, wrote to me afterwards to disclaim any comparison of morals between England and America, as he thought my remarks seemed to suggest. The point he desired to make, he added, was "not in the occurrence of crime, but in the escape from punishment through laxity of law." Again, I had used the word hopelessness" in referring to his views. But however dissatisfied might feel about the state of things in both countries, he wished it to be understood that he was not hopeless of any Anglo-Saxon people.

 


 

[Home] [Up] [Memoirs] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk