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From the Clyde to California
Chapter X.—Home Journey—Parting Words to Pleasure-Seekers and Farmers— Conclusion


IT is difficult to form an estimate of the population of American cities at first sight, owing to the great extent of ground belonging to each house. Rochester, of all the cities I have seen, is in that respect the most deceptive. The whole district has the appearance of an immense forest, where the trees have been cut down to form streets and sites for the houses and gardens. Any one desirous of obtaining ground on which to erect either a public work or a dwelling-house has only to apply to the Government land-agent, from whom he can get an out-and-out purchase of, say, twenty acres of land, the whole cost of which including the expense of the title, will be less than the that of the mere title alone to twenty poles of ground in Scotland, which would be afterwards burdened with an annual feu-duty of from £10 to £12.

On the Genesee River, which passes through the city, there are three waterfalls, giving an immense power. The upper one in the centre of the city is over ninety feet high. There are two of less height a little further down the river. On each of these falls are situated engineering works and mills of various kinds. The power obtainable is so great and so much taken advantage of that sites cannot be got close to them on which to erect works.

But American ingenuity has devised a method of conveying the power to sites at a distance, whereby it can be fully utilised. I had the good fortune to be shown over a large engineering work to which the power has been conveyed. It is situated nearly a hundred yards distant from the fall, another large work and an open court occupying a site between it and the fall. The power is transmitted over the top of this latter work and court by means of a half-inch wire cable, worked over a pulley at the fall and another on top of the building, at a height of fifty feet above the ground. The same half-inch cable was said to have been over seven years in use, and had not required any repair during that time.

It having fallen to my lot to spend a Sabbath here, and not having specially visited any of the American burying- grounds, I resolved to spend a few hours amongst the tombs, and with that view took the car to Mount Hope Cemetery, which is very extensive and well-chosen for such a purpose. It consists of hills, valleys and lakes, the great objection to it being rather much natural wooding intercepting the view of the city. On the highest mount there had been a high wooden erection, which had become dangerous and was removed, and a stone one is in course of being built, from which an extensive view will be had all round. The monuments here appeared somewhat strange—the stag, dog and lamb, in bronze, being much in use. The ground was very artistically laid out with footpaths and avenues, all of which had name-boards put up at the corners of the avenues. As a specimen, there was Prospect Avenue, Highland Avenue, Lake View Avenue, &c. There were several funerals taking place during our visit, thus giving an opportunity of contrasting the American mode of burial with ours at home. One was that of an old lady, widow of an English barrister. The inside of the grave and the ground, nearly seven feet all round, with the earth dug out of it, were tastefully covered with twigs of green cedar and spruce, giving the grave and ground much the appearance of being lined with a carpet. There was a great concourse of mourners of both sexes. It is the custom there for the carriages containing the chief mourners to precede the hearse, and the acquaintances to follow it.

After the coffin had been lowered into a pine safe in the bottom of the grave, the relatives placed their immortelles over it. Then the funeral service was read, and the mourners retired, leaving the grave uncovered. In the case of another funeral the coffin was placed in a mausoleum, where it would be allowed to remain from four to eight weeks, when the relatives would again meet and have it removed and interred in the ground. The mausoleum, which is fire and burglar proof, is octagon in form, with a dome roof. One of the sides forms the entrance. Each of the other seven sides has three stone shelves in the height, fitted up for the reception of coffins. This mode of sepulture did not appear to be approved of by the inhabitants generally.

Tramway cars ply along every second street from the centre of the city for a long distance into what we would call the suburbs, but what to the American is really part of the city. The horse-paths in the suburbs were in a most objectionable state of repair. Otherwise the car service seemed very efficient and economically conducted. In this city no guards are employed, the driver discharging the duty by keeping a sharp look-out for customers. There is a uniform fare of five cents, irrespective of distance. A passenger, on entering the car, walks forward towards the driver and drops his fare into a little receiver, like a letter-box, with glass sides. The driver casts a glance into the box, and, if the correct fare has been deposited, he touches a spring which cants the bottom, and the fare drops into a little chamber beneath, and the bottom adjusts itself to receive the next fare. The cash chamber is accessible only to the manager and cashier, who may take out the cash either at every course or in the evening, when they get the whole day's earnings all at once. In no case is the driver allowed, to handle any of the fares, but he is allowed to give change to accommodate the passengers. For this purpose he is furnished at the office with a number of small envelopes, on each of which there are printed, in large figures, 10, 20, 25, or 50 cents, according to the value of the money in the envelope. In every case the change is so arranged that there is a five cent piece in the envelope. If the passenger has not got a five cent coin, but supposing he has a twenty-five cent piece, he hands it to the driver, who gives him in return a twenty-five cent envelope, on which are printed these words, "Open this and put the fare in the box." This done, the passenger takes his seat in the car. Any passenger desirous to leave, gives notice to the driver by pulling the bell, and the car is stopped. Much pleased with the visit, we left by rail in the evening, and joined our friend in New York next morning.

The day of departure for the Clyde having arrived, we went on board the steamer and started on our home journey, having been much gratified with our excursion. The next day we began to recount some of the incidents of our experience of the past two months, and of many things that cropped up in our mind's eye. The most prominent of these were the kindly feeling and hospitality that were extended to us wherever we went, leaving an impression that is certain to be of life-long duration.

On many occasions we observed what appeared to us to be a very peculiar domestic habit with some of the inhabitants. In several instances, we met with well-to-do people, amongst whom were retired merchants, who, instead of enjoying their quiet family residence, were living in boarding-houses, somewhat after the fashion of hydropathic life in Scotland. These houses, in external appearance, could not be detected from a private family residence, and generally contained from ten to twenty boarders. Our first impression regarding the boarders was that they were either transient visitors or people in reduced circumstances. We soon learned that such was not the case, but this mode of living was resorted to as a matter of economy.

Some of the wealthiest inhabitants, who turn out the finest equipages, will not take the trouble and annoyance of having horses of their own, but they have their own carriages and servants, all with the exception of the driver. There are parties who make a trade of hiring out first-class horses. With one of these an arrangement is made to take charge of the carriages, and supply horse and driver on the shortest notice; and by the aid of the telephone, they are as speedily called forth when required as though they were kept on the premises.

We had long been under the impression that Americans were much given to boast of the great things they possessed and of the great works they performed, and put themselves forward as being the greatest in everything; but such was not our experience when we came in close contact with them. However, it must be admitted that we heard a deal of boasting, but it was by natives of our country who had been a few years resident there, and were no doubt anxious to entertain us by showing us the land of their adoption to the best advantage. As an instance, two old acquaintances were showing us over an aristocratic part of a city. They seemed to know all the outs and ins of the occupants of each mansion. As we passed along one was pointed out as the greatest exporter of grain in the world, another as being the most extensive railway shareholder in the world, and another as the richest man in the world This brought us to a stand, and the question was put to our informant if there was just one such "richest man" in the world in America, as we had on two former occasions had the residence of such a man pointed out to us! This, to our great relief, had the effect of checking the bounce for a time.

The Americans don't need to boast of their works— they speak for themselves. When we look at the great extent of their country, the fine, fertile districts, interspersed with rivers, lakes, and harbours, and natural water-falls giving power to immense numbers of factories, with coal and iron to an unlimited extent—in addition to which, there is the fostering care taken of inventive minds, assisting men of indefatigable energy and perseverance, who overcome almost insurmountable obstacles, and who are already making themselves felt in our own country, it requires no great foresight to predict that, in a few years hence, several of the industries of this ,country will be very seriously affected, and some may have to succumb altogether. As for agriculture, it is already a doomed industry in our country.

Many must have felt sorry that the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, at the dinner given to his tenant-farmers on the Hawarden estate, on the i 2th December last, had not been more accurate in pointing out to them what was the real cause of the severe trial through which he said they were passing. The following are the Prime Minister's own words:-

"It is now about forty years since I first began to attend these dinners, and certainly I have seen many changes in that time. The first of these years were years of very considerable trial and pressure, and they followed or accompanied the introduction of the legislation known as Free Trade. But those years, which were marked by some scarcity in the season, and by some other trying circumstances, were followed by a quarter of a century which, as far as I know, was a period of great and more general prosperity to agriculture than had been known in this country for a long time before; and the test of this prosperity was to be found in this, that almost every article of agricultural produce went up greatly in price. Of that there is no doubt whatever. Wheat, of course, being of great importance here, constitutes an exception, but still there has been no very great fall in the price of wheat. Other products—barley, oats, meat, wool, butter, cheese, almost everything else that the farmer is interested in—went up in price, and went up in a manner which showed it would not go down again to its former level. And even in this period of distress, if we take, for example, the article of meat, in which a great deal of pressure has been felt, you know perfectly well that, at the worst, the price at which the stock has been sold, or the price which the butcher has obtained for meat, has been very much higher than it used to be fifty or sixty years ago."

From this point he led his tenants on with a semi- political harangue, cautioning them to beware of his political opponents, against whom he said he did not wish to use hard words, but termed them political quacks. After getting the farmers to the point of applauding and hear, hen-ng, he ventured to set before them the serious evils from which he said they were suffering. The special evils from which you suffer are due to bad seasons and bad trade. (Hear, hear.) The bad seasons which it has pleased God to give us have given you much less in quantity and quality, much less of agricultural produce to dispose of; and while you have had less to dispose of, the bad trade of the country has taken away to some considerable extent the means of those who ought to have purchased your produce. Therefore you have at once had a diminished supply to send to market, and you have had to look for a diminished price. That is a fact which we have one and all before us, and which we so much lament." In the whole speech foreign competition and high rents, the chief causes of farmers' grievances, are kept in the background, the only reference being that he "was not aware that there had been any considerable increase in rents in this part of the country," and as to foreign competition, it was not even referred to.

Now, just contrast the speech of the Premier with that of Mr Campbell, MP., delivered on the i8th December last. (Mr Campbell is member for the Ayr Burghs, and is of the same shade of politics as Mr Gladstone). In his address to the farmers, he pointed out to them the real cause of their grievances so plainly as to put the question beyond all doubt. "Our farmers have had hard times the past few years, and I wish I could say I saw signs of improvement. The most important factors in bringing about their difficulties have undoubtedly been the bad seasons and the American competition, but it is difficult to say which of these has been the more powerful. Mr Gladstone calculated that the loss to agriculture through bad seasons has been about £120,000,000, and Mr Caird, putting it another way, says that the loss of tenants' capital has been in some districts one-third and in others a. half. Looking at the question in this light, you see that it becomes not merely a class question, but one affecting the interests of the whole community. And even supposing that we are to be favoured with a series of good seasons, it is to be doubted whether they would counteract the effects of the foreign competition. For my part, I do not think they would. So far as we can see, this competition is likely to increase, for as the railway system is extended in America, fresh fields will be opened and larger fleets of steamers be made available for transport. Russia, Australia, and New Zealand are all coming into play, and are certain still further to add to our imports."

With regard to the extension of railways in America, the following cutting from the Deseret News, of the 14th December, shows that railway making is being proceeded with at a truly railway pace:-"The past year, notwithstanding its many calamities, has been in many respects one of unexampled enterprise and prosperity. In nothing is this more apparent than the rapid and extensive construction of competing Trans-Continental and other railways. It is estimated from reliable data predicated upon official returns that more railway iron has been laid in the United States within the past year than during any similar period in the history of the country; the various new roads and extensions footing up the grand aggregate of over six thousand miles. Some years ago we thought the construction of the Union and Central Pacifies' a great undertaking, but now there are not less than four similar main lines reaching out for the waters of the Pacific, besides one running down into Mexico, with auxiliary and competing lines all over the country, and the almost daily announcement is, still they come."

It will thus be seen that the entire continent of North America will at no distant date be covered with a network of railways, and the food supplies from an enormous and almost unlimited extent of country will be poured into Britain in ever-increasing quantities, rendering it more and more difficult for our farmers to compete against it, handicapped as they are at present with high rents and manifestly unjust land laws.

To those who have some time and money at their disposal, a few months' travel through the States and Canada will be found at once enjoyable and profitable. Such has been our pleasurable experience; indeed, so much so, that we have a strong desire to see more of that great country.

The voyage across the Atlantic is re-invigorating to the human constitution, physically and mentally. The transit from one place to another in America is performed in comfort and safety. Everywhere our common language is spoken (a great convenience in travelling);. everywhere is the intercourse civil and courteous, and everywhere we found ourselves among a God-fearing and law-abiding people. To the farmers of this country we emphatically say—Your hope of a brighter future, your redemption from a life of profitless toil, lies in the fair and fertile fields of the West, in the vast tracts of virgin soil in Canada and the States, as yet untouched by the industry of man.


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