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please on itself, and to devote the proceeds to National or Federal
purposes. Rhode Island may do so, and so may Massachusetts, New
York, Connecticut, and the other rich Atlantic States. They may tax
themselves according to their riches, while Iowa, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and such like States are taxing themselves according to
their poverty. I cannot myself think that it would be well to trust
to the generosity of the separate States for the finances needed by
the national government. We should not willingly trust to Yorkshire
or Sussex to give us their contributions to the national income,
especially if Yorkshire and Sussex had small Houses of Commons of
their own in which that question of giving might be debated. It may
be very well for Rhode Island or New York to be patriotic! But what
shall be done with any State that declines to evince such
patriotism? The legislatures of the different States may be invited
to impose a tax of five per cent. on all incomes in each State; but
what will be done if Pennsylvania, for instance, should decline, or
Illinois should hesitate? What if the legislature of Massachusetts
should offer six per cent., or that of New Jersey decide that four
per cent. was sufficient? For awhile the arrangement might possibly
be made to answer the desired purpose. During the first ebullition
of high feeling the different States concerned might possibly vote
the amount of taxes required for Federal purposes. I fear it would
not be so, but we may allow that the chance is on the card. But it
is not conceivable that such an arrangement should be continued
when, after a year or two, men came to talk over the war with calmer
feelings and a more critical judgment. The State legislatures would
become inquisitive, opinionative, and probably factious. They would
be unwilling to act, in so great a matter, under the dictation of
the Federal Congress; and, by degrees, one and then another would
decline to give its aid to the central government. However broadly
the acknowledgment may have been made that the levying of direct
taxes was necessary for the nation, each State would be tempted to
argue that a wrong mode and a wrong rate of levying had been
adopted, and words would be forthcoming instead of money. A resort
to such a mode of taxation would be a bad security for government

All matters of taxation, moreover, should be free from any taint of
generosity. A man who should attempt to lessen the burdens of his
country by gifts of money to its exchequer would be laying his
country under an obligation for which his country would not thank
him. The gifts here would be from States, and not from individuals
but the principle would be the same. I cannot imagine that the
United States government would be willing to owe its revenue to the
good-will of different States, or its want of revenue to their
caprice. If under such an arrangement the Western States were to
decline to vote the quota of income tax or property tax to which the
Eastern States had agreed--and in all probability they would
decline--they would in fact be seceding. They would thus secede
from the burdens of their general country; but in such event no one
could accuse such States of unconstitutional secession.

It is not easy to ascertain with precision what is the present
amount of debt due by the United States; nor probably has any
tolerably accurate guess been yet given of the amount to which it
may be extended during the present war. A statement made in the
House of Representatives by Mr. Spaulding, a member of the Committee
of Ways and Means, on the 29th of January last, may perhaps be taken
as giving as trustworthy information as any that can be obtained. I
have changed Mr. Spaulding's figures from dollars into pounds, that
they may be more readily understood by English readers:--

There was due up to July 1, 1861 18,173,566 pounds.
" added in July and August 5,379,357 "
" borrowed in August 10,000,000 "
" borrowed in October 10,000,000 "
" borrowed in November 10,000,000 "
" amount of Treasury Demand Notes issued 7,800,000 "
61,352,923 "

This was the amount of the debt due up to January 15th, 1862. Mr.
Spaulding then calculates that the sum required to carry on the
government up to July 1st, 1862, will be 68,647,077l. And that a
further sum of 110,000,000l. will be wanted on or before the 1st of
July, 1863. Thus the debt at that latter date would stand as

Amount of debt up to January, 1862 61,352,923 pounds.
Added by July 1st, 1862 68,647,077 "
Again added by July 1st, 1803 110,000,000 "
240,000,000 "

The first of these items may no doubt be taken as accurate. The
second has probably been founded on facts which leave little doubt
as to its substantial truth. The third, which professes to give the
proposed expense of the war for the forthcoming year, viz., from
July 1st, 1862, to June 30th, 1863, must necessarily have been
obtained by a very loose estimate. No one can say what may be the
condition of the country during the next year--whether the war may
then be raging throughout the Southern States, or whether the war
may not have ceased altogether. The North knows little or nothing
of the capacity of the South. How little it knows may be surmised
from the fact that the whole Southern army of Virginia retreated
from their position at Manassas before the Northern generals knew
that they were moving; and that when they were gone no word whatever
was left of their numbers. I do not believe that the Northern
government is even yet able to make any probable conjecture as to
the number of troops which the Southern Confederacy is maintaining;
and if this be so, they can certainly make no trustworthy estimates
as to their own expenses for the ensuing year.

Two hundred and forty millions is, however, the sum named by a
gentleman presumed to be conversant with the matter, as the amount
of debt which may be expected by midsummer, 1863; and if the war be
continued till then, it will probably be found that he has not
exceeded the mark. It is right, however, to state that Mr. Chase in
his estimate does not rate the figures so high. He has given it as
his opinion that the debt will be about one hundred and four
millions in July, 1862, and one hundred and eighty millions in July,
1863. As to the first amount, with reference to which a tolerably
accurate calculation may probably be made, I am inclined to prefer
the estimate as given by the member of the committee; and as to the
other, which hardly, as I think, admits of any calculation, his
calculation is at any rate as good as that made in the Treasury.

But it is the immediate want of funds, and not the prospective debt
of the country, which is now doing the damage. In this opinion Mr.
Chase will probably agree with me; but readers on this side of the
water will receive what I say with a smile. Such a state of affairs
is certainly one that has not uncommonly been reached by financiers;
it has also often been experienced by gentlemen in the management of
their private affairs. It has been common in Ireland, and in London
has created the wealth of the pawnbrokers. In the States at the
present time the government is very much in this condition. The
prospective wealth of the country is almost unbounded, but there is
great difficulty in persuading any pawnbroker to advance money on
the pledge. In February last Mr. Chase was driven to obtain the
sanction of the legislature for paying the national creditors by
bills drawn at twelve months' date, and bearing 6 per cent.
interest. It is the old story of the tailor who calls with his
little account, and draws on his insolvent debtor at ninety days.
If the insolvent debtor be not utterly gone as regards solvency he
will take up the bill when due, even though he may not be able to
pay a simple debt. But, then, if he be utterly insolvent, he can do
neither the one nor the other! The Secretary of the Treasury, when
he asked for permission to accept these bills--or to issue these
certificates, as he calls them--acknowledged to pressing debts of
over five millions sterling which he could not pay; and to further
debts of eight millions which he could not pay, but which he termed
floating; debts, if I understand him, which were not as yet quite
pressing. Now I imagine that to be a lamentable condition for any
Chancellor of an Exchequer--especially as a confession is at the
same time made that no advantageous borrowing is to be done under
the existing circumstances. When a Chancellor of the Exchequer
confesses that he cannot borrow on advantageous terms, the terms
within his reach must be very bad indeed. This position is indeed a
sad one, and at any rate justifies me in stating that the immediate
want of funds is severely felt.

But the very arguments which have been used to prove that the
country will be ultimately crushed by the debt, are those which I
should use to prove that it will not be crushed. A comparison has
more than once been made between the manner in which our debt was
made and that in which the debt of the United States is now being
created; and the great point raised in our favor is, that while we
were borrowing money we were also taxing ourselves, and that we
raised as much by taxes as we did by loans. But it is too early in
the day to deny to the Americans the credit which we thus take to
ourselves. We were a tax-paying nation when we commenced those wars
which made our great loans necessary, and only went on in that
practice which was habitual to us. I do not think that the
Americans could have taxed themselves with greater alacrity than
they have shown. Let us wait, at any rate, till they shall have had
time for the operation, before we blame them for not making it. It
is then argued that we in England did not borrow nearly so fast as
they have borrowed in the States. That is true. But it must be
remembered that the dimensions and proportions of wars now are
infinitely greater than they were when we began to borrow. Does any
one imagine that we would not have borrowed faster, if by faster
borrowing we could have closed the war more speedily? Things go
faster now than they did then. Borrowing for the sake of a war may
be a bad thing to do, as also it may be a good thing; but if it be
done at all, it should be so done as to bring the war to the end
with what greatest dispatch may be possible.

The only fair comparison, as it seems to me, which can be drawn
between the two countries with reference to their debts, and the
condition of each under its debt, should be made to depend on the
amount of the debt and probable ability of the country to bear that
burden. The amount of the debt must be calculated by the interest
payable on it rather than by the figures representing the actual sum
due. If we debit the United States government with seven per cent.
on all the money borrowed by them, and presume that amount to have
reached in July, 1863, the sum named by Mr. Spaulding, they will
then have loaded themselves with an annual charge of 16,800,000
pounds sterling. It will have been an immense achievement to have
accomplished in so short a time, but it will by no means equal the
annual sum with which we are charged. And, moreover, the comparison
will have been made in a manner that is hardly fair to the
Americans. We pay our creditors three per cent. now that we have
arranged our affairs, and have settled down into the respectable
position of an old gentleman whose estates, though deeply mortgaged,
are not over mortgaged. But we did not get our money at three per
cent. while our wars were on hand and there yet existed some doubt
as to the manner in which they might be terminated.

This attempt, however, at guessing what may be the probable amount
of the debt at the close of the war is absolutely futile. No one
can as yet conjecture when the war may be over, or what collateral
expenses may attend its close. It may be the case that the
government, in fixing some boundary between the future United States
and the future Southern Confederacy, will be called on to advance a
very large sum of money as compensation for slaves who shall have
been liberated in the border States, or have been swept down South
into the cotton regions with the retreating hordes of the Southern
army. The total of the bill cannot be reckoned up while the work is
still unfinished. But, after all, that question as to the amount of
the bill is not to us the question of the greatest interest.
Whether the debt shall amount to two, or three, or even to four
hundred millions sterling; whether it remain fixed at its present
modest dimensions, or swell itself out to the magnificent
proportions of our British debt; will the resources of the country
enable it to bear such a burden? Will it be found that the
Americans share with us that elastic power of endurance which has
enabled us to bear a weight that would have ruined any other people
of the same number? Have they the thews and muscles, the energy and
endurance, the power of carrying which we possess? They have got
our blood in their veins, and have these qualities gone with the
blood? It is of little avail either to us or to the truth that we
can show some difference between our position and their position
which may seem to be in our favor. They doubtless could show other
points of difference on the other side. With us, in the early years
of this century, it was a contest for life and death, in which we
could not stop to count the cost--in which we believed that we were
fighting for all that we cared to call our own, and in which we were
resolved that we would not be beaten as long as we had a man to
fight and a guinea to spend. Fighting in this mind we won. Had we
fought in any other mind I think I may say that we should not have
won. To the Americans of the Northern States this also is a contest
for life and death. I will not here stay to argue whether this need
have been so. I think they are right; but this at least must be
accorded to them--that, having gone into this matter of civil war,
it behoves them to finish it with credit to themselves. There are
many Englishmen who think that we were wrong to undertake the French
war; but there is, I take it, no Englishman who thinks that we ought
to have allowed ourselves to be beaten when we had undertaken it.
To the Americans it is now a contest of life and death. They also
cannot stop to count the cost, They also will go on as long as they
have a dollar to spend or a man to fight.

It appears that we were paying fourteen millions a year interest on
our national debt in the year 1796. I take this statement from an
article in The Times, in which the question of the finances of the
United States is handled. But our population in 1796 was only
sixteen millions. I estimate the population of the Northern section
of the United States, as the States will be after the war, at
twenty-two millions. In the article alluded to, these Northern
Americans are now stated to be twenty millions. If then we, in
1796, could pay fourteen millions a year with a population of
sixteen millions, the United States, with a population of twenty or
twenty-two millions, will be able to pay the sixteen or seventeen
millions sterling of interest which will become due from them, if
their circumstances of payment are as good as were ours. They can
do that, and more than that, if they have the same means per man as
we had. And as the means per man resolves itself at last into the
labor per man, it may be said that they can pay what we could pay,
if they can and will work as hard as we could and did work. That
which did not crush us will not crush them, if their future energy
be equal to our past energy.

And on this question of energy I think that there is no need for
doubt. Taking man for man and million for million, the Americans
are equal to the English in intellect and industry. They create
wealth, at any rate, as fast as we have done. They develop their
resources, and open out the currents of trade, with an energy equal
to our own. They are always at work--improving, utilizing, and
creating. Austria, as I take it, is succumbing to monetary
difficulties, not because she has been extravagant, but because she
has been slow at progress; because it has been the work of her
rulers to repress rather than encourage the energies of her people;
because she does not improve, utilize, and create. England has
mastered her monetary difficulties because the genius of her
government and her people has been exactly opposite to the genius of
Austria. And the States of America will master their money
difficulties, because they are born of England, and are not born of
Austria. What! Shall our eldest child become bankrupt in its first
trade difficulty; be utterly ruined by its first little commercial
embarrassment! The child bears much too strong a resemblance to its
parent for me to think so.



Any Englishman or Frenchman residing in the American States cannot
fail to be struck with the inferiority of the post-office
arrangements in that country to those by which they are accommodated
in their own country. I have not been a resident in the country,
and as a traveler might probably have passed the subject without
special remark, were it not that the service of the post-office has
been my own profession for many years. I could therefore hardly
fail to observe things which to another man would have been of no
material moment. At first I was inclined to lean heavily in my
judgment upon the deficiencies of a department which must be of
primary importance to a commercial nation. It seemed that among a
people so intelligent, and so quick in all enterprises of trade, a
well-arranged post-office would have been held to be absolutely
necessary, and that all difficulties would have been made to succumb
in their efforts to put that establishment, if no other, upon a
proper footing. But as I looked into the matter, and in becoming
acquainted with the circumstances of the post-office learned the
extent of the difficulties absolutely existing, I began to think
that a very great deal had been done, and that the fault, as to that
which had been left undone, rested not with the post-office
officials, but was attributable partly to political causes
altogether outside the post-office, and partly--perhaps chiefly--to
the nature of the country itself.

It is I think undoubtedly true that the amount of accommodation
given by the post-office of the States is small, as compared with
that afforded in some other countries, and that that accommodation
is lessened by delays and uncertainty. The point which first struck
me was the inconvenient hours at which mails were brought in and
dispatched. Here in England it is the object of our post-office to
carry the bulk of our letters at night; to deliver them as early as
possible in the morning, and to collect them and take them away for
dispatch as late as may be in the day; so that the merchant may
receive his letters before the beginning of his day business, and
dispatch them after its close. The bulk of our letters is handled
in this manner, and the advantage of such an arrangement is
manifest. But it seemed that in the States no such practice
prevailed. Letters arrived at any hour in the day miscellaneously,
and were dispatched at any hour, and I found that the postmaster at
one town could never tell me with certainty when letters would
arrive at another. If the towns were distant, I would be told that
the conveyance might take about two or three days; if they were
near, that my letter would get to hand "some time to-morrow." I
ascertained, moreover, by painful experience that the whole of a
mail would not always go forward by the first dispatch. As regarded
myself this had reference chiefly to English letters and newspapers.
"Only a part of the mail has come," the clerk would tell me. With
us the owners of that part which did not "come," would consider
themselves greatly aggrieved and make loud complaint. But in the
States complaints made against official departments are held to be
of little moment.

Letters also in the States are subject to great delays by
irregularities on railways. One train does not hit the town of its
destination before another train, to which it is nominally fitted,
has been started on its journey. The mail trains are not bound to
wait; and thus, in the large cities, far distant from New York,
great irregularity prevails. It is I think owing to this--at any
rate partly to this--that the system of telegraphing has become so
prevalent. It is natural that this should be so between towns which
are in the due course of post perhaps forty-eight hours asunder; but
the uncertainty of the post increases the habit, to the profit of
course of the companies which own the wires, but to the manifest
loss of the post-office.

But the deficiency which struck me most forcibly in the American
post-office, was the absence of any recognized official delivery of
letters. The United States post-office does not assume to itself
the duty of taking letters to the houses of those for whom they are
intended, but holds itself as having completed the work for which
the original postage has been paid, when it has brought them to the
window of the post-office of the town to which they are addressed.
It is true that in most large towns--though by no means in all--a
separate arrangement is made by which a delivery is afforded to
those who are willing to pay a further sum for that further service;
but the recognized official mode of delivery is from the office
window. The merchants and persons in trade have boxes at the
windows, for which they pay. Other old-established inhabitants in
town, and persons in receipt of a considerable correspondence,
receive their letters by the subsidiary carriers and pay for them
separately. But the poorer classes of the community, those persons
among which it is of such paramount importance to increase the
blessing of letter writing, obtain their letters from the post-
office windows.

In each of these cases the practice acts to the prejudice of the
department. In order to escape the tax on delivery, which varies
from two cents to one cent a letter, all men in trade, and many who
are not in trade, hold office boxes; consequently immense space is
required. The space given at Chicago, both to the public without
and to the official within, for such delivery, is more than four
times that required at Liverpool for the same purpose. But
Liverpool is three times the size of Chicago. The corps of clerks
required for the window delivery is very great, and the whole affair
is cumbrous in the extreme. The letters at most offices are given
out through little windows, to which the inquirer is obliged to
stoop. There he finds himself opposite to a pane of glass with a
little hole, and when the clerk within shakes his head at him, he
rarely believes but what his letters are there if he could only
reach them. But in the second case, the tax on the delivery, which
is intended simply to pay the wages of the men who take them out, is
paid with a bad grace; it robs the letter of its charm, and forces
it to present itself in the guise of a burden: it makes that
disagreeable which for its own sake the post-office should strive in
every way to make agreeable. This practice, moreover, operates as a
direct prevention to a class of correspondence which furnishes in
England a large proportion of the revenue of the post-office.
Mercantile houses in our large cities send out thousands of trade
circulars, paying postage on them; but such circulars would not be
received, either in England or elsewhere, if a demand for postage
were made on their delivery. Who does not receive these circulars
in our country by the dozen, consigning them generally to the waste-
paper basket, after a most cursory inspection? As regards the
sender, the transaction seems to us often to be very vain; but the
post-office gets its penny. So also would the American post-office
get its three cents.

But the main objection in my eyes to the American post-office system
is this, that it is not brought nearer to the poorer classes.
Everybody writes or can write in America, and therefore the
correspondence of their millions should be, million for million, at
any rate equal to ours. But it is not so; and this I think comes
from the fact that communication by post-office is not made easy to
the people generally. Such communication is not found to be easy by
a man who has to attend at a post-office window on the chance of
receiving a letter. When no arrangement more comfortable than that
is provided, the post-office will be used for the necessities of
letter writing, but will not be esteemed as a luxury. And thus not
only do the people lose a comfort which they might enjoy, but the
post-office also loses that revenue which it might make.

I have said that the correspondence circulating in the United States
is less than that of the United Kingdom. In making any comparison
between them, I am obliged to arrive at facts, or rather at the
probabilities of facts, in a somewhat circuitous mode, as the
Americans have kept no account of the number of letters which pass
through their post-offices in a year; we can, however, make an
estimate, which, if incorrect, shall not at any rate be incorrect
against them. The gross postal revenue of the United States for the
year ended June 30th, 1861, was in round figures 1,700,000l. This
was the amount actually cashed, exclusive of a sum of 140,000l. paid
to the post-office by the government for the carriage of what is
called in that country free mail matter; otherwise, books, letters,
and parcels franked by members of Congress. The gross postal
revenue of the United Kingdom was in the last year, in round
figures, 3,358,000l., exclusive of a sum of 179,000l. claimed as
earned for carrying official postage, and also exclusive of
127,866l., that being the amount of money order commissions, which
in this country is considered a part of the post-office revenue. In
the United States there is at present no money order office. In the
United Kingdom the sum of 3,358,000l. was earned by the conveyance
and delivery of 593,000,000 of letters, 73,000,000 of newspapers,
12,000,000 of books. What number of each was conveyed through the
post in the United States we have no means of knowing; but presuming
the average rate of postage on each letter in the States to be the
same as it is in England, and presuming also that letters,
newspapers, and books circulated in the same proportion there as
they do with us, the sum above named of 1,700,000l. will have been
earned by carrying about 300,000,000 of letters. But the average
rate of postage in the States is in fact higher than it is in
England. The ordinary single rate of postage there is three cents,
or three half-pence, whereas with us it is a penny; and if three
half-pence might be taken as the average rate in the United States,
the number of letters would be reduced from 300,000,000 to
200,000,000 a year. There is, however, a class of letters which in
the States are passed through the post-office at the rate of one
half-penny a letter, whereas there is no rate of postage with us
less than a penny. Taking these half-penny letters into
consideration, I am disposed to regard the average rate of American
postage at about five farthings, which would give the number of
letters at 250,000,000. We shall at any rate be safe in saying that
the number is considerably less than 300,000,000, and that it does
not amount to half the number circulated with us. But the
difference between our population and their population is not great.
The population of the States during the year in question was about
27,000,000, exclusive of slaves, and that of the British Isles was
about 29,000,000. No doubt in the year named the correspondence of
the States had been somewhat disturbed by the rebellion; but that
disturbance, up to the end of June, 1861, had been very trifling.
The division of the Southern from the Northern States, as far as the
post-office was concerned, did not take place till the end of May,
l861; and therefore but one month in the year was affected by the
actual secession of the South. The gross postal revenue of the
States which have seceded was, for the year prior to secession,
1,200,500 dollars, and for that one month of June it would therefore
have been a little over 100,000 dollars, or 20,000l. That sum may
therefore be presumed to have been abstracted by secession from the
gross annual revenue of the post-office. Trade, also, was no doubt
injured by the disturbance in the country, and the circulation of
letters was, as a matter of course, to some degree affected by this
injury; but it seems that the gross revenue of 1861 was less than
that of 1860 by only one thirty-sixth. I think, therefore, that we
may say, making all allowance that can be fairly made, that the
number of letters circulating in the United Kingdom is more than
double that which circulates, or ever has circulated, in the United

That this is so, I attribute not to any difference in the people of
the two countries, not to an aptitude for letter writing among us
which is wanting with the Americans, but to the greater convenience
and wider accommodation of our own post-office. As I have before
stated, and will presently endeavor to show, this wider
accommodation is not altogether the result of better management on
our part. Our circumstances as regards the post-office have had in
them less of difficulties than theirs. But it has arisen in great
part from better management; and in nothing is their deficiency so
conspicuous as in the absence of a free delivery for their letters.

In order that the advantages of the post-office should reach all
persons, the delivery of letters should extend not only to towns,
but to the country also. In France all letters are delivered free.
However remote may be the position of a house or cottage, it is not
too remote for the postman. With us all letters are not delivered,
but the exceptions refer to distant solitary houses and to
localities which are almost without correspondence. But in the
United States there is no free delivery, and there is no delivery at
all except in the large cities. In small towns, in villages, even
in the suburbs of the largest cities, no such accommodation is
given. Whatever may be the distance, people expecting letters must
send for them to the post-office; and they who do not expect them,
leave their letters uncalled for. Brother Jonathan goes out to fish
in these especial waters with a very large net. The little fish
which are profitable slip through; but the big fish, which are by no
means profitable, are caught--often at an expense greater than their

There are other smaller sins upon which I could put my finger--and
would do so were I writing an official report upon the subject of
the American post-office. In lieu of doing so, I will endeavor to
explain how much the States office has done in this matter of
affording post-office accommodation, and how great have been the
difficulties in the way of post-office reformers in that country.

In the first place, when we compare ourselves to them we must
remember that we live in a tea-cup, and they in a washing-tub. As
compared with them we inhabit towns which are close to each other.
Our distances, as compared with theirs, are nothing. From London to
Liverpool the line of railway I believe traverses about two hundred
miles, but the mail train which conveys the bags for Liverpool
carries the correspondence of probably four or five millions of
persons. The mail train from New York to Buffalo passes over about
four hundred miles, and on its route leaves not one million. A
comparison of this kind might be made with the same effect between
any of our great internal mail routes and any of theirs.
Consequently the expense of conveyance to them is, per letter, very
much greater than with us, and the American post-office is, as a
matter of necessity, driven to an economy in the use of railways for
the post-office service which we are not called on to practice.
From New York to Chicago is nearly 1000 miles. From New York to St.
Louis is over 1400. From New York to New Orleans is 1600 miles. I
need not say that in England we know nothing of such distances, and
that therefore our task has been comparatively easy. Nevertheless
the States have followed in our track, and have taken advantage of
Sir Rowland's Hill's wise audacity in the reduction of postage with
greater quickness than any other nation but our own. Through all
the States letters pass for three cents over a distance less than
3000 miles. For distances above 3000 miles the rate is ten cents,
or five pence. This increased rate has special reference to the
mails for California, which are carried daily across the whole
continent at a cost to the States government of two hundred thousand
pounds a year.

With us the chief mail trains are legally under the management of
the Postmaster-General. He fixes the hours at which they shall
start and arrive, being of course bound by certain stipulations as
to pace. He can demand trains to run over any line at any hour, and
can in this way secure the punctuality of mail transportation. Of
course such interference on the part of a government official in the
working of a railway is attended with a very heavy expense to the
government. Though the British post-office can demand the use of
trains at any hour, and as regards those trains can make the
dispatch of mails paramount to all other matters, the British post-
office cannot fix the price to be paid for such work. This is
generally done by arbitration, and of course for such services the
payment is very high. No such practice prevails in the States. The
government has no power of using the mail lines as they are used by
our post-office, nor could the expense of such a practice be borne
or nearly borne by the proceeds of letters in the States.
Consequently the post-office is put on a par with ordinary
customers, and such trains are used for mail matter as the directors
of each line may see fit to use for other matter. Hence it occurs
that no offense against the post-office is committed when the
connection between different mail trains is broken. The post-office
takes the best it can get, paying as other customers pay, and
grumbling as other customers grumble when the service rendered falls
short of that which has been promised.

It may, I think, easily be seen that any system, such as ours,
carried across so large a country, would go on increasing in cost at
an enormous ratio. The greater is the distance, the greater is the
difficulty in securing the proper fitting of fast-running trains.
And moreover, it must be remembered that the American lines have
been got up on a very different footing from ours, at an expense per
mile of probably less than a fifth of that laid out on our railways.
Single lines of rail are common, even between great towns with large
traffic. At the present moment, February, 1862, the only railway
running into Washington, that namely from Baltimore, is a single
line over the greater distance. The whole thing is necessarily
worked at a cheaper rate than with us; not because the people are
poorer, but because the distances are greater. As this is the case
throughout the whole railway system of the country, it cannot be
expected that such dispatch and punctuality should be achieved in
America as are achieved here in England, or in France. As
population and wealth increase it will come. In the mean time that
which has been already done over the extent of the vast North
American continent is very wonderful. I think, therefore, that
complaint should not be made against the Washington post-office,
either on account of the inconvenience of the hours or on the head
of occasional irregularity. So much has been done in reducing the
rate to three cents, and in giving a daily mail throughout the
States, that the department should be praised for energy, and not
blamed for apathy.

In the year ended June 30, 1861, the gross revenue of the post-
office of the States was, as I have stated, 1,700,000l. In the same
year its expenditure was in round figures 2,720,000l.; consequently
there was an actual loss, to be made up out of general taxation,
amounting to 1,020,000l. In the accounts of the American officers
this is lessened by 140,000l. That sum having been arbitrarily
fixed by the government as the amount earned by the post-office in
carrying free mail matter. We have a similar system in computing
the value of the service rendered by our post-office to the
government in carrying government dispatches; but with us the amount
named as the compensation depends on the actual weight carried. If
the matter so carried be carried solely on the government service,
as is, I believe, the case with us, any such claim on behalf of the
post-office is apparently unnecessary. The Crown works for the
Crown, as the right hand works for the left. The post-office pays
no rates or taxes, contributes nothing to the poor, runs its mails
on turnpike roads free of toll, and gives receipts on unstamped
paper. With us no payment is in truth made, though the post-office
in its accounts presumes itself to have received the money; but in
the States the sum named is handed over by the State Treasury to the
Post-office Treasury. Any such statement of credit does not in
effect alter the real fact that over a million sterling is required
as a subsidy by the American post-office, in order that it may be
enabled to pay its way. In estimating the expenditure of the office
the department at Washington debits itself with the sums paid for
the ocean transit of its mails, amounting to something over one
hundred and fifty thousand pounds. We also now do the same, with
the much greater sum paid by us for such service, which now amounts
to 949,228l., or nearly a million sterling. Till lately this was
not paid out of the post-office moneys, and the post-office revenue
was not debited with the amount.

Our gross post-office revenue is, as I have said, 3,358,250l. As
before explained, this is exclusive of the amount earned by the
money order department, which, though managed by the authorities of
the post-office, cannot be called a part of the post-office; and
exclusive also of the official postage, which is, in fact, never
received. The expenditure of our British post-office, inclusive of
the sum paid for the ocean mail service, is 3,064,527l.; we
therefore make a net profit of 293,723l. out of the post-office, as
compared with a loss of 1,020,000l. on the part of the United

But perhaps the greatest difficulty with which the American post-
office is burdened is that "free mail matter" to which I have
alluded, for carrying which the post-office claims to earn
140,000l., and for the carriage of which it might as fairly claim to
earn 1,350,000l., or half the amount of its total expenditure, for I
was informed by a gentleman whose knowledge on the subject could not
be doubted, that the free mail matter so carried equaled in bulk and
weight all that other matter which was not carried free. To such an
extent has the privilege of franking been carried in the States!
All members of both Houses frank what they please--for in effect the
privilege is stretched to that extent. All Presidents of the Union,
past and present, can frank, as also, all Vice-Presidents, past and
present; and there is a special act, enabling the widow of President
Polk to frank. Why it is that widows of other Presidents do not
agitate on the matter, I cannot understand. And all the Secretaries
of State can frank; and ever so many other public officers. There
is no limit in number to the letters so franked, and the nuisance
has extended itself to so huge a size that members of Congress, in
giving franks, cannot write the franks themselves. It is illegal
for them to depute to others the privilege of signing their names
for this purpose, but it is known at the post-office that it is
done. But even this is not the worst of it. Members of the House
of Representatives have the power of sending through the post all
those huge books which, with them as with us, grow out of
parliamentary debates and workings of committees. This, under
certain stipulations, is the case also in England; but in England,
luckily, no one values them. In America, however, it is not so. A
voter considers himself to be noticed if he gets a book; he likes to
have the book bound, and the bigger the book may be, the more the
compliment is relished. Hence it comes to pass that an enormous
quantity of useless matter is printed and bound, only that it may be
sent down to constituents and make a show on the parlor shelves of
constituents' wives. The post-office groans and becomes insolvent
and the country pays for the paper, the printing, and the binding.
While the public expenses of this nation were very small, there was,
perhaps, no reason why voters should not thus be indulged; but now
the matter is different, and it would be well that the conveyance by
post of these congressional libraries should be brought to an end.
I was also assured that members very frequently obtain permission
for the printing of a speech which has never been delivered--and
which never will be delivered--in order that copies may be
circulated among their constituents. There is in such an
arrangement an ingenuity which is peculiarly American in its nature.
Everybody concerned is no doubt cheated by the system. The
constituents are cheated; the public, which pays, is cheated; and
the post-office is cheated. But the House is spared the hearing of
the speech, and the result on the whole is perhaps beneficial.

We also, within the memory of many of us, had a franking privilege,
which was peculiarly objectionable, inasmuch as it operated toward
giving a free transmission of their letters by post to the rich,
while no such privilege was within reach of the poor. But with us
it never stretched itself to such an extent as it has now achieved
in the States. The number of letters for members was limited. The
whole address was written by the franking member himself, and not
much was sent in this way that was bulky. I am disposed to think
that all government and congressional jobs in the States bear the
same proportion to government and parliamentary jobs which have been
in vogue among us. There has been an unblushing audacity in the
public dishonesty--what I may perhaps call the State dishonesty--at
Washington, which I think was hardly ever equaled in London.
Bribery, I know, was disgracefully current in the days of Walpole,
of Newcastle, and even of Castlereagh; so current, that no
Englishman has a right to hold up his own past government as a model
of purity; but the corruption with us did blush and endeavor to hide
itself. It was disgraceful to be bribed, if not so to offer bribes.
But at Washington corruption has been so common that I can hardly
understand how any honest man can have held up his head in the
vicinity of the Capitol or of the State office.

But the country has, I think, become tired of this. Hitherto it has
been too busy about its more important concerns, in extending
commerce, in making railways, in providing education for its youth,
to think very much of what was being done at Washington. While the
taxes were light, and property was secure, while increasing
population gave daily increasing strength to the nation, the people
as a body were content with that theory of being governed by their
little men. They gave a bad name to politicians, and allowed
politics, as they say, to "slide." But all this will be altered
now. The tremendous expenditure of the last twelve months has
allowed dishonesty of so vast a grasp to make its ravages in the
public pockets that the evil will work its own cure. Taxes will be
very high, and the people will recognize the necessity of having
honest men to look after them. The nation can no longer afford to
be indifferent about its government, and will require to know where
its money goes, and why it goes. This franking privilege is already
doomed, if not already dead. When I was in Washington, a bill was
passed through the Lower House by which it would be abolished
altogether. When I left America, its fate in the Senate was still
doubtful, and I was told by many that that bill would not be allowed
to become law without sundry alterations. But, nevertheless, I
regard the franking privilege as doomed, and offer to the Washington
post-office officials my best congratulations on their coming

The post-office in the States is also burdened by another terrible
political evil, which in itself is so heavy that one would at first
sight declare it to be enough to prevent anything like efficiency.
The whole of its staff is removable every fourth year--that is to
say, on the election of every new President; and a very large
proportion of its staff is thus removed periodically to make way for
those for whom a new President is bound to provide, by reason of
their services in sending him to the White House. They have served
him, and he thus repays them by this use of his patronage in their
favor. At four hundred and thirty-four post-offices in the States--
those being the offices to which the highest salaries are attached--
the President has this power, and exercises it as a matter of
course. He has the same power with reference, I believe, to all the
appointments held in the post-office at Washington. This practice
applies by no means to the post-office only. All the government
clerks--clerks employed by the central government at Washington--are
subject to the same rule. And the rule has also been adopted in the
various States with reference to State offices.

To a stranger this practice seems so manifestly absurd that he can
hardly conceive it possible that a government service should be
conducted on such terms. He cannot, in the first place, believe
that men of sufficient standing before the world could be found to
accept office under such circumstances; and is led to surmise that
men of insufficient standing must be employed, and that there are
other allurements to the office beyond the very moderate salaries
which are allowed. He cannot, moreover, understand how the duties
can be conducted, seeing that men must be called on to resign their
places as soon as they have learned to make themselves useful. And,
finally, he is lost in amazement as he contemplates this barefaced
prostitution of the public employ to the vilest purposes of
political manoeuvring. With us also patronage has been used for
political purposes, and to some small extent is still so used. We
have not yet sufficiently recognized the fact that in selecting a
public servant nothing should be regarded but the advantage of the
service for which he is to be employed. But we never, in the lowest
times of our political corruption, ventured to throw over the
question of service altogether, and to declare publicly that the one
and only result to be obtained by government employment was
political support. In the States, political corruption has become
so much a matter of course that no American seems to be struck with
the fact that the whole system is a system of robbery.

From sheer necessity some of the old hands are kept on when these
changes are made. Were this not done, the work would come
absolutely to a dead lock. But as it is, it may be imagined how
difficult it must be for men to carry through any improvements in a
great department, when they have entered an office under such a
system, and are liable to be expelled under the same. It is greatly
to the praise of those who have been allowed to grow old in the
service that so much has been done. No men, however, are more apt
at such work than Americans, or more able to exert themselves at
their posts. They are not idle. Independently of any question of
remuneration, they are not indifferent to the well-being of the work
they have in hand. They are good public servants, unless corruption
come in their way.

While speaking on the subject of patronage, I cannot but allude to
two appointments which had been made by political interest, and with
the circumstances of which I became acquainted. In both instances a
good place had been given to a gentleman by the incoming President--
not in return for political support, but from motives of private
friendship--either his own friendship or that of some mutual friend.
In both instances I heard the selection spoken of with the warmest
praise, as though a noble act had been done in the selection of a
private friend instead of a political partisan. And yet in each
case a man was appointed who knew nothing of his work; who, from age
and circumstances, was not likely to become acquainted with his
work; who, by his appointment, kept out of the place those who did
understand the work, and had earned a right to promotion by so
understanding it. Two worthy gentlemen--for they were both worthy--
were pensioned on the government for a term of years under a false
pretense. That this should have been done is not perhaps
remarkable; but it did seem remarkable to me that everybody regarded
such appointments as a good deed--as a deed so exceptionably good as
to be worthy of great praise. I do not allude to these selections
on account of the political view shown by the Presidents in making
them, but on account of the political virtue; in order that the
nature of political virtue in the States may be understood. It had
never occurred to any one to whom I spoke on the subject, that a
President in the bestowing of such places was bound to look for
efficient work in return for the public money which was to be paid.

Before I end this chapter I must insert a few details respecting the
post-office of the States, which, though they may not be specially
interesting to the general reader, will give some idea of the extent
of the department. The total number of post-offices in the States
on June 30th, 1861, was 28,586. With us the number in England,
Scotland, and Ireland, at the same period, was about 11,400. The
population served may be regarded as nearly the same. Our lowest
salary is 3l. per annum. In the States the remuneration is often
much lower. It consist in a commission on the letters, and is
sometimes less than ten shillings. The difficulty of obtaining
persons to hold these offices, and the amount of work which must
thereby be thrown on what is called the "appointment branch," may be
judged by the fact that 9235 of these offices were filled up by new
nominations during the last year. When the patronage is of such a
nature it is difficult to say which give most trouble, the places
which nobody wishes to have, or those which everybody wishes to

The total amount of postage on European letters, i.e. letters
passing between the States and Europe, in the last year, as to which
accounts were kept between Washington and the European post-offices,
was 275,000l. Of this over 150,000l. was on letters for the United
Kingdom; and 130,000l. was on letters carried by the Cunard packets.

According to the accounts kept by the Washington office, the letters
passing from the States to Europe and from Europe to the States are
very nearly equal in number, about 101 going to Europe for every 100
received from Europe. But the number of newspapers sent from the
States is more than double the number received in the States from

On June 30th, 1861, mails were carried through the then loyal States
of the Union over 140,400 miles daily. Up to 31st May preceding, at
which time the government mails were running all through the united
States, 96,000 miles were covered in those States which had then
virtually seceded, and which in the following month were taken out
from the post-office accounts--making a total of 236,400 miles
daily. Of this mileage something less than one-third is effected by
railways, at an average cost of about six pence a mile. Our total
mileage per day is 151,000 miles, of which 43,823 are done by
railway, at a cost of about seven pence half-penny per mile.

As far as I could learn, the servants of the post-office are less
liberally paid in the States than with us, excepting as regards two
classes. The first of these is that class which is paid by weekly
wages, such as letter-carriers and porters. Their remuneration is
of course ruled by the rate of ordinary wages in the country; and as
ordinary wages are higher in the States than with us, such men are
paid accordingly. The other class is that of postmasters at second-
rate towns. They receive the same compensation as those at the
largest towns--unless indeed there be other compensations than those
written in the books at Washington. A postmaster is paid a certain
commission on letters, till it amounts to 400l. per annum: all above
that going back to the government. So also out of the fees paid for
boxes at the window he receives any amount forthcoming not exceeding
400l. a year; making in all a maximum of 800l. The postmaster of
New York can get no more; but any moderately large town will give as
much, and in this way an amount of patronage is provided which in a
political view is really valuable.

But with all this the people have made their way, because they have
been intelligent, industrious, and in earnest. And as the people
have made their way, so has the post-office. The number of its
offices, the mileage it covers, its extraordinary cheapness, the
rapidity with which it has been developed, are all proofs of great
things done; and it is by no means standing still even in these evil
days of war. Improvements are even now on foot, copied in a great
measure from ourselves. Hitherto the American office has not taken
upon itself the task of returning to their writers undelivered and
undeliverable letters. This it is now going to do. It is, as I
have said, shaking off from itself that terrible incubus, the
franking privilege. And the expediency of introducing a money-order
office into the States, connected with the post-office as it is with
us, is even now under consideration. Such an accommodation is much
needed in the country; but I doubt whether the present moment,
looking at the fiscal state of the country, is well adapted for
establishing it.

I was much struck by the great extravagance in small things
manifested by the post-office through the States, and have reason to
believe that the same remark would be equally true with regard to
other public establishments. They use needless forms without end--
making millions of entries which no one is ever expected to regard.
Their expenditure in stationery might I think be reduced by one-
half, and the labor might be saved which is now wasted in the abuse
of that useless stationery. Their mail bags are made in a costly
manner, and are often large beyond all proportion or necessity. I
could greatly lengthen this list if I were addressing myself solely
to post-office people; but as I am not doing so, I will close these
semi-official remarks with an assurance to my colleagues in post-
office work on the other side of the water that I greatly respect
what they have done, and trust that before long they may have
renewed opportunities for the prosecution of their good work.



I find it impossible to resist the subject of inns. As I have gone
on with my journey, I have gone on with my book, and have spoken
here and there of American hotels as I have encountered them. But
in the States the hotels are so large an institution, having so much
closer and wider a bearing on social life than they do in any other
country, that I feel myself bound to treat them in a separate
chapter as a great national arrangement in themselves. They are
quite as much thought of in the nation as the legislature, or
judicature, or literature of the country; and any falling off in
them, or any improvement in the accommodation given, would strike
the community as forcibly as any change in the Constitution or
alteration in the franchise.

Moreover, I consider myself as qualified to write a chapter on
hotels--not only on the hotels of America, but on hotels generally.
I have myself been much too frequently a sojourner at hotels. I
think I know what a hotel should be, and what it should not be; and
am almost inclined to believe, in my pride, that I could myself fill
the position of a landlord with some chance of social success,
though probably with none of satisfactory pecuniary results.

Of all hotels known to me, I am inclined to think that the Swiss are
the best. The things wanted at a hotel are, I fancy, mainly as
follows: a clean bed-room, with a good and clean bed, and with it
also plenty of water. Good food, well dressed and served at
convenient hours, which hours should on occasions be allowed to
stretch themselves. Wines that shall be drinkable. Quick
attendance. Bills that shall not be absolutely extortionate,
smiling faces, and an absence of foul smells. There are many who
desire more than this--who expect exquisite cookery, choice wines,
subservient domestics, distinguished consideration, and the
strictest economy; but they are uneducated travelers, who are going
through the apprenticeship of their hotel lives; who may probably
never become free of the travelers' guild, or learn to distinguish
that which they may fairly hope to attain from that which they can
never accomplish.

Taking them as a whole, I think that the Swiss hotels are the best.
They are perhaps a little close in the matter of cold water, but
even as to this they generally give way to pressure. The pressure,
however, must not be violent, but gentle rather, and well continued.
Their bed-rooms are excellent. Their cookery is good, and to the
outward senses is cleanly. The people are civil. The whole work of
the house is carried on upon fixed rules which tend to the comfort
of the establishment. They are not cheap, and not always quite
honest. But the exorbitance or dishonesty of their charges rarely
exceeds a certain reasonable scale, and hardly ever demands the
bitter misery of a remonstrance.

The inns of the Tyrol are, I think, the cheapest I have known--
affording the traveler what he requires for half the price, or less
than half demanded in Switzerland. But the other half is taken out
in stench and nastiness. As tourists scatter themselves more
profusely, the prices of the Tyrol will no doubt rise. Let us hope
that increased prices will bring with them besoms, scrubbing-
brushes, and other much-needed articles of cleanliness.

The inns of the north of Italy are very good; and, indeed, the
Italian inns throughout, as far as I know them, are much better than
the name they bear. The Italians are a civil, kindly people, and do
for you, at any rate, the best they can. Perhaps the unwary
traveler may be cheated. Ignorant of the language, he may be called
on to pay more than the man who speaks it and who can bargain in the
Italian fashion as to price. It has often been my lot, I doubt not,
to be so cheated; but then I have been cheated with a grace that has
been worth all the money. The ordinary prices of Italian inns are
by no means high.

I have seldom thoroughly liked the inns of Germany which I have
known. They are not clean, and water is very scarce. Smiles, too,
are generally wanting, and I have usually fancied myself to be
regarded as a piece of goods out of which so much profit was to be

The dearest hotels I know are the French--and certainly not the
best. In the provinces they are by no means so cleanly as those of
Italy. Their wines are generally abominable, and their cookery
often disgusting. In Paris grand dinners may no doubt be had, and
luxuries of every description--except the luxury of comfort.
Cotton-velvet sofas and ormolu clocks stand in the place of
convenient furniture; and logs of wood, at a franc a log, fail to
impart to you the heat which the freezing cold of a Paris winter
demands. They used to make good coffee in Paris, but even that is a
thing of the past. I fancy that they import their brandy from
England and manufacture their own cigars. French wines you may get
good at a Paris hotel; but you would drink them as good and much
cheaper if you bought them in London and took them with you.

The worst hotels I know are in the Havana. Of course I do not speak
here of chance mountain huts, or small, far-off roadside hostels, in
which the traveler may find himself from time to time. All such are
to be counted apart, and must be judged on their merits by the
circumstances which surround them. But with reference to places of
wide resort, nothing can beat the hotels of the Havana in filth,
discomfort, habits of abomination, and absence of everything which
the traveler desires. All the world does not go to the Havana, and
the subject is not therefore one of general interest. But in
speaking of hotels at large, so much I find myself bound to say.

In all the countries to which I have alluded the guests of the house
are expected to sit down together at one table. Conversation is at
any rate possible; and there is the show, if not the reality, of

And now one word as to English inns. I do not think that we
Englishmen have any great right to be proud of them. The worst
about them is that they deteriorate from year to year, instead of
becoming better. We used to hear much of the comfort of the old
English wayside inn, but the old English wayside inn has gone. The
railway hotel has taken its place; and the railway hotel is too
frequently gloomy, desolate, comfortless, and almost suicidal. In
England, too, since the old days are gone, there are wanting the
landlord's bow and the kindly smile of his stout wife. Who now
knows the landlord of an inn, or cares to inquire whether or no
there be a landlady? The old welcome is wanting; and the cheery,
warm air, which used to atone for the bad port and tough beef, has
passed away--while the port is still bad and the beef too often

In England, and only in England as I believe, is maintained in hotel
life the theory of solitary existence. The sojourner at an English
inn--unless he be a commercial traveler, and as such a member of a
universal, peripatetic tradesman's club--lives alone. He has his
breakfast alone, his dinner alone, his pint of wine alone, and his
cup of tea alone. It is not considered practicable that two
strangers should sit at the same table or cut from the same dish.
Consequently his dinner is cooked for him separately, and the hotel
keeper can hardly afford to give him a good dinner. He has two
modes of life from which to choose. He either lives in a public
room--called a coffee-room--and there occupies, during his
comfortless meal, a separate small table, too frequently removed
from fire and light, though generally exposed to draughts, or else
he indulges in the luxury of a private sitting-room, and endeavors
to find solace on an old horse-hair sofa, at the cost of seven
shillings a day. His bed-room is not so arranged that he can use it
as a sitting-room. Under either phase of life he can rarely find
himself comfortable, and therefore he lives as little at a hotel as
the circumstances of his business or of his pleasure will allow. I
do not think that any of the requisites of a good inn are habitually
to be found in perfection at our Kings' Heads and White Horses,
though the falling off is not so lamentably distressing as it
sometimes is in other countries. The bed-rooms are dingy rather
than dirty. Extra payment to servants will generally produce a tub
of cold water. The food is never good, but it is usually eatable,
and you may have it when you please. The wines are almost always
bad, but the traveler can fall back upon beer. The attendance is
good, provided always that the payment for it is liberal. The cost
is generally too high, and unfortunately grows larger and larger
from year to year. Smiling faces are out of the question unless
specially paid for; and as to that matter of foul smells, there is
often room for improvement. An English inn to a solitary traveler
without employment is an embodiment of dreary desolation. The
excuse to be made for this is that English men and women do not live
much at inns in their own country.

The American inn differs from all those of which I have made
mention, and is altogether an institution apart, and a thing of
itself. Hotels in America are very much larger and more numerous
than in other countries. They are to be found in all towns, and I
may almost say in all villages. In England and on the Continent we
find them on the recognized routes of travel and in towns of
commercial or social importance. On unfrequented roads and in
villages there is usually some small house of public entertainment
in which the unexpected traveler may obtain food and shelter, and in
which the expected boon companions of the neighborhood smoke their
nightly pipes and drink their nightly tipple. But in the States of
America the first sign of an incipient settlement is a hotel five
stories high, with an office, a bar, a cloak room, three gentlemen's
parlors, two ladies' parlors, and a ladies' entrance, and two
hundred bedrooms.

These of course are all built with a view to profit, and it may be
presumed that in each case the originators of the speculation enter
into some calculation as to their expected guests. Whence are to
come the sleepers in those two hundred bed-rooms, and who is to pay
for the gaudy sofas and numerous lounging chairs of the ladies'
parlors? In all other countries the expectation would extend itself
simply to travelers--to travelers or to strangers sojourning in the
land. But this is by no means the case as to these speculations in
America. When the new hotel rises up in the wilderness, it is
presumed that people will come there with the express object of
inhabiting it. The hotel itself will create a population, as the
railways do. With us railways run to the towns; but in the States
the towns run to the railways. It is the same thing with the

Housekeeping is not popular with young married people in America,
and there are various reasons why this should be so. Men there are
not fixed in their employment as they are with us. If a young
Benedict cannot get along as a lawyer at Salem, perhaps he may
thrive as a shoemaker at Thermopylae. Jefferson B. Johnson fails in
the lumber line at Eleutheria, but hearing of an opening for a
Baptist preacher at Big Mud Creek moves himself off with his wife
and three children at a week's notice. Aminadab Wiggs takes an
engagement as a clerk at a steamboat office on the Pongowonga River,
but he goes to his employment with an inward conviction that six
months will see him earning his bread elsewhere. Under such
circumstances even a large wardrobe is a nuisance, and a collection
of furniture would be as appropriate as a drove of elephants. Then
again young men and women marry without any means already collected
on which to commence their life. They are content to look forward
and to hope that such means will come. In so doing they are guilty
of no imprudence. It is the way of the country, and, if the man be
useful for anything, employment will certainly come to him. But he
must live on the fruits of that employment, and can only pay his way
from week to week and from day to day. And as a third reason, I
think I may allege that the mode of life found in these hotels is
liked by the people who frequent them. It is to their taste. They
are happy, or at any rate contented, at these hotels, and do not
wish for household cares. As to the two first reasons which I have
given, I can agree as to the necessity of the case, and quite concur
as to the expediency of marriage under such circumstances. But as
to that matter of taste, I cannot concur at all. Anything more
forlorn than a young married woman at an American hotel, it is
impossible to conceive.

Such are the guests expected for those two hundred bedrooms. The
chance travelers are but chance additions to these, and are not
generally the mainstay of the house. As a matter of course the
accommodation for travelers which these hotels afford increases and
creates traveling. Men come because they know they will be fed and
bedded at a moderate cost, and in an easy way, suited to their
tastes. With us, and throughout Europe, inquiry is made before an
unaccustomed journey is commenced, on that serious question of
wayside food and shelter. But in the States no such question is
needed. A big hotel is a matter of course, and therefore men
travel. Everybody travels in the States. The railways and the
hotels between them have so churned up the people that an untraveled
man or woman is a rare animal. We are apt to suppose that travelers
make roads, and that guests create hotels; but the cause and effect
run exactly in the other way. I am almost disposed to think that we
should become cannibals if gentlemen's legs and ladies arms were
hung up for sale in purveyors' shops.

After this fashion and with these intentions hotels are built. Size
and an imposing exterior are the first requisitions. Everything
about them must be on a large scale. A commanding exterior, and a
certain interior dignity of demeanor, is more essential than comfort
or civility. Whatever a hotel may be it must not be "mean." In the
American vernacular the word mean is very significant. A mean white
in the South is a man who owns no slaves. Men are often mean, but
actions are seldom so called. A man feels mean when the bluster is
taken out of him. A mean hotel, conducted in a quiet unostentatious
manner, in which the only endeavor made had reference to the comfort
of a few guests, would find no favor in the States. These hotels
are not called by the name of any sign, as with us in our provinces.
There are no "Presidents' Heads" or "General Scotts." Nor by the
name of the landlord, or of some former landlord, as with us in
London, and in many cities of the Continent. Nor are they called
from some country or city which may have been presumed at some time
to have had special patronage for the establishment. In the
nomenclature of American hotels the specialty of American hero
worship is shown, as in the nomenclature of their children. Every
inn is a house, and these houses are generally named after some
hero, little known probably in the world at large, but highly
estimated in that locality at the moment of the christening.

They are always built on a plan which to a European seems to be most
unnecessarily extravagant in space. It is not unfrequently the case
that the greater portion of the ground floor is occupied by rooms
and halls which make no return to the house whatever. The visitor
enters a great hall by the front door, and almost invariably finds
it full of men who are idling about, sitting round on stationary
seats, talking in a listless manner, and getting through their time
as though the place were a public lounging-room. And so it is. The
chances are that not half the crowd are guests at the hotel. I will
now follow the visitor as he makes his way up to the office. Every
hotel has an office. To call this place the bar, as I have done too
frequently, is a lamentable error. The bar is held in a separate
room appropriated solely to drinking. To the office, which is in
fact a long open bar, the guest walks up, and there inscribes his
name in a book. This inscription was to me a moment of misery which
I could never go through with equanimity. As the name is written,
and as the request for accommodation is made, half a dozen loungers
look over your name and listen to what you say. They listen
attentively, and spell your name carefully, but the great man behind
the bar does not seem to listen or to heed you; your destiny is
never imparted to you on the instant. If your wife or any other
woman be with you--the word "lady" is made so absolutely distasteful
in American hotels that I cannot bring myself to use it in writing
of them--she has been carried off to a lady's waiting room, and
there remains in august wretchedness till the great man at the bar
shall have decided on her fate. I have never been quite able to
fathom the mystery of these delays. I think they must have
originated in the necessity of waiting to see what might be the
influx of travelers at the moment, and then have become exaggerated
and brought to their present normal state by the gratified feeling
of almost divine power with which for the time it invests that
despotic arbiter. I have found it always the same, though arriving
with no crowd, by a conveyance of my own, when no other expectant
guests were following me. The great man has listened to my request
in silence, with an imperturbable face, and has usually continued
his conversation with some loafing friend, who at the time is
probably scrutinizing my name in the book. I have often suffered in
patience, but patience is not specially the badge of my tribe, and I
have sometimes spoken out rather freely. If I may presume to give
advice to my traveling countrymen how to act under such
circumstances, I should recommend to them freedom of speech rather
than patience. The great man, when freely addressed, generally
opens his eyes, and selects the key of your room without further
delay. I am inclined to think that the selection will not be made
in any way to your detriment by reason of that freedom of speech.
The lady in the ballad who spoke out her own mind to Lord Bateman,
was sent to her home honorably in a coach and three. Had she held
her tongue, we are justified in presuming that she would have been
returned on a pillion behind a servant.

I have been greatly annoyed by that want of speech. I have
repeatedly asked for room, and received no syllable in return. I
have persisted in my request, and the clerk has nodded his head at
me. Until a traveler is known, these gentlemen are singularly
sparing of speech, especially in the West. The same economy of
words runs down from the great man at the office all through the
servants of the establishment. It arises, I believe, entirely from
that want of courtesy which democratic institutions create. The man
whom you address has to make a battle against the state of
subservience presumed to be indicated by his position, and he does
so by declaring his indifference to the person on whose wants he is
paid to attend. I have been honored on one or two occasions by the
subsequent intimacy of these great men at the hotel offices, and
have then found them ready enough at conversation.

That necessity of making your request for room before a public
audience is not in itself agreeable, and sometimes entails a
conversation which might be more comfortably made in private. "What
do you mean by a dressing-room, and why do you want one?" Now that
is a question which an Englishman feels awkward at answering before
five and twenty Americans, with open mouths and eager eyes; but it
has to be answered. When I left England, I was assured that I
should not find any need for a separate sitting-room, seeing that
drawing-rooms more or less sumptuous were prepared for the
accommodation of "ladies." At first we attempted to follow the
advice given to us, but we broke down. A man and his wife traveling
from town to town, and making no sojourn on his way, may eat and
sleep at a hotel without a private parlor. But an English woman
cannot live in comfort for a week, or even in comfort for a day, at
any of these houses, without a sitting-room for herself. The
ladies' drawing-room is a desolate wilderness. The American women
themselves do not use it. It is generally empty, or occupied by
some forlorn spinster, eliciting harsh sounds from the wretched
piano which it contains.

The price at these hotels throughout the union is nearly always the
same, viz., two and a half dollars a day, for which a bed-room is
given and as many meals as the guest can contrive to eat. This is
the price for chance guests. The cost to monthly boarders is, I
believe, not more than the half of this. Ten shillings a day,
therefore, covers everything that is absolutely necessary, servants
included; and this must be said in praise of these inns--that the
traveler can compute his expenses accurately, and can absolutely
bring them within that daily sum of ten shillings. This includes a
great deal of eating, a great deal of attendance, the use of
reading-room and smoking-room--which, however, always seem to be
open to the public as well as to the guests--and a bed-room, with
accommodation which is at any rate as good as the average
accommodation of hotels in Europe. In the large Eastern towns baths
are attached to many of the rooms. I always carry my own, and have
never failed in getting water. It must be acknowledged that the
price is very cheap. It is so cheap that I believe it affords, as a
rule, no profit whatsoever. The profit is made upon extra charges,
and they are higher than in any other country that I have visited.
They are so high that I consider traveling in America, for an
Englishman with his wife or family, to be more expensive than
traveling in any part of Europe. First in the list of extras comes
that matter of the sitting-room, and by that for a man and his wife
the whole first expense is at once doubled. The ordinary charge is
five dollars, or one pound a day! A guest intending to stay for two
or three weeks at a hotel, or perhaps for one week, may, by
agreement, have this charge reduced. At one inn I stayed a
fortnight, and having made no such agreement, was charged the full
sum. I felt myself stirred up to complain, and did in that case
remonstrate. I was asked how much I wished to have returned--for
the bill had been paid--and the sum I suggested was at once handed
to me. But even with such reduction, the price is very high, and at
once makes the American hotel expensive. Wine also at these houses
is very costly, and very bad. The usual price is two dollars (or
eight shillings) a bottle. The people of the country rarely drink
wine at dinner in the hotels. When they do so, they drink
champagne; but their normal drinking is done separately, at the bar,
chiefly before dinner, and at a cheap rate. "A drink," let it be
what it may, invariably costs a dime, or five pence. But if you
must have a glass of sherry with your dinner, it costs two dollars;
for sherry does not grow into pint bottles in the States. But the
guest who remains for two days can have his wine kept for him.
Washing also is an expensive luxury. The price of this is
invariable, being always four pence for everything washed. A
cambric handkerchief or muslin dress all come out at the same price.
For those who are cunning in the matter this may do very well; but
for men and women whose cuffs and collars are numerous it becomes
expensive. The craft of those who are cunning is shown, I think, in
little internal washings, by which the cambric handkerchiefs are
kept out of the list, while the muslin dresses are placed upon it.
I am led to this surmise by the energetic measures taken by the
hotelkeepers to prevent such domestic washings, and by the
denunciations which in every hotel are pasted up in every room
against the practice. I could not at first understand why I was
always warned against washing my own clothes in my own bed-room, and
told that no foreign laundress could on any account be admitted into
the house. The injunctions given on this head are almost frantic in
their energy, and therefore I conceive that hotel-keepers find
themselves exposed to much suffering in the matter. At these hotels
they wash with great rapidity, sending you back your clothes in four
or five hours if you desire it.

Another very stringent order is placed before the face of all
visitors at American hotels, desiring them on no account to have
valuable property in their rooms. I presume that there must have
been some difficulty in this matter in bygone years; for in every
State a law has been passed declaring that hotel-keepers shall not
be held responsible for money or jewels stolen out of rooms in their
houses, provided that they are furnished with safes for keeping such
money and give due caution to their guests on the subject. The due
caution is always given, but I have seldom myself taken any notice
of it. I have always left my portmanteau open, and have kept my
money usually in a traveling-desk in my room; but I never to my
knowledge lost anything. The world, I think, gives itself credit
for more thieves than it possesses. As to the female servants at
American inns, they are generally all that is disagreeable. They
are uncivil, impudent, dirty, slow--provoking to a degree. But I
believe that they keep their hands from picking and stealing.

I never yet made a single comfortable meal at an American hotel, or
rose from my breakfast or dinner with that feeling of satisfaction
which should, I think, be felt at such moments in a civilized land
in which cookery prevails as an art. I have had enough, and have
been healthy, and am thankful. But that thankfulness is altogether
a matter apart, and does not bear upon the question. If need be, I
can eat food that is disagreeable to my palate and make no
complaint. But I hold it to be compatible with the principles of an
advanced Christianity to prefer food that is palatable. I never
could get any of that kind at an American hotel. All meal-times at
such houses were to me periods of disagreeable duty; and at this
moment, as I write these lines at the hotel in which I am still
staying, I pine for an English leg of mutton. But I do not wish it
to be supposed that the fault of which I complain--for it is a
grievous fault--is incidental to America as a nation. I have stayed
in private houses, and have daily sat down to dinners quite as good
as any my own kitchen could afford me. Their dinner parties are
generally well done, and as a people they are by no means
indifferent to the nature of their comestibles. It is of the hotels
that I speak; and of them I again say that eating in them is a
disagreeable task--a painful labor. It is as a schoolboy's lesson,
or the six hours' confinement of a clerk at his desk.

The mode of eating is as follows: Certain feeding hours are named,
which generally include nearly all the day. Breakfast from six till
ten. Dinner from one till five. Tea from six till nine. Supper
from nine till twelve. When the guest presents himself at any of
these hours, he is marshaled to a seat, and a bill is put into his
hand containing the names of all the eatables then offered for his
choice. The list is incredibly and most unnecessarily long. Then
it is that you will see care written on the face of the American
hotel liver, as he studies the programme of the coming performance.
With men this passes off unnoticed, but with young girls the
appearance of the thing is not attractive. The anxious study, the
elaborate reading of the daily book, and then the choice proclaimed
with clear articulation: "Boiled mutton and caper sauce, roast duck,
hashed venison, mashed potatoes, poached eggs and spinach, stewed
tomatoes. Yes--and, waiter, some squash!" There is no false
delicacy in the voice by which this order is given, no desire for a
gentle whisper. The dinner is ordered with the firm determination
of an American heroine; and in some five minutes' time all the
little dishes appear at once, and the lady is surrounded by her

How I did learn to hate those little dishes and their greasy
contents! At a London eating-house things are often not very nice,
but your meat is put on a plate and comes before you in an edible
shape. At these hotels it is brought to you in horrid little oval
dishes, and swims in grease; gravy is not an institution in American
hotels, but grease has taken its place. It is palpable, undisguised
grease, floating in rivers--not grease caused by accidental bad
cookery, but grease on purpose. A beef-steak is not a beef-steak
unless a quarter of a pound of butter be added to it. Those horrid
little dishes! If one thinks of it, how could they have been made
to contain Christian food? Every article in that long list is
liable to the call of any number of guests for four hours. Under
such circumstances how can food be made eatable? Your roast mutton
is brought to you raw; if you object to that, you are supplied with
meat that has been four times brought before the public. At hotels
on the Continent of Europe different dinners are cooked at different
hours; but here the same dinner is kept always going. The house
breakfast is maintained on a similar footing. Huge boilers of tea
and coffee are stewed down and kept hot. To me those meals were
odious. It is of course open to any one to have separate dinners
and separate breakfasts in his own rooms; but by this little is
gained and much is lost. He or she who is so exclusive pays twice
over for such meals--as they are charged as extras on the bill--and,
after all, receives the advantage of no exclusive cooking.
Particles from the public dinners are brought to the private room,
and the same odious little dishes make their appearance.

But the most striking peculiarity of the American hotels is in their
public rooms. Of the ladies' drawing-room I have spoken. There are
two, and sometimes three, in one hotel, and they are generally
furnished at any rate expensively. It seems to me that the space
and the furniture are almost thrown away. At watering-places and
sea-side summer hotels they are, I presume, used; but at ordinary
hotels they are empty deserts. The intention is good, for they are
established with the view of giving to ladies at hotels the comforts
of ordinary domestic life; but they fail in their effect. Ladies
will not make themselves happy in any room, or with ever so much
gilded furniture, unless some means of happiness are provided for
them. Into these rooms no book is ever brought, no needle-work is
introduced; from them no clatter of many tongues is ever heard. On
a marble table in the middle of the room always stands a large
pitcher of iced water; and from this a cold, damp, uninviting air is
spread through the atmosphere of the ladies' drawing-room.

Below, on the ground floor, there is, in the first place, the huge
entrance hall, at the back of which, behind a bar, the great man of
the place keeps the keys and holds his court. There are generally
seats around it, in which smokers sit--or men not smoking but
ruminating. Opening off from this are reading-rooms, smoking-rooms,
shaving-rooms, drinking-rooms, parlors for gentlemen in which
smoking is prohibited and which are generally as desolate as ladies'
sitting-rooms above. In those other more congenial chambers is
always gathered together a crowd apparently belonging in no way to
the hotel. It would seem that a great portion of an American Inn is
as open to the public as an Exchange or as the wayside of the
street. In the West, during the early months of this war, the
traveler would always see many soldiers among the crowd--not only
officers, but privates. They sit in public seats, silent but
apparently contented, sometimes for an hour together. All Americans
are given to gatherings such as these. It is the much-loved
institution to which the name of "loafing" has been given.

I do not like the mode of life which prevails in the American
hotels. I have come across exceptions, and know one or two that are
very comfortable--always excepting that matter of eating and
drinking. Taking them as a whole, I do not like their mode of life;
but I feel bound to add that the hotels of Canada, which are kept I
think always after the same fashion, are infinitely worse than those
of the United States. I do not like the American hotels; but I must
say in their favor that they afford an immense amount of
accommodation. The traveler is rarely told that a hotel is full, so
that traveling in America is without one of those great perils to
which it is subject in Europe.



In speaking of the literature of any country we are, I think, too
much inclined to regard the question as one appertaining exclusively
to the writers of books--not acknowledging as we should do that the
literary character of a people will depend much more upon what it
reads than upon what it writes. If we can suppose any people to
have an intimate acquaintance with the best literary efforts of
other countries, we should hardly be correct in saying that such a
people had no literary history of their own because it had itself
produced nothing in literature. And, with reference to those
countries which have been most fertile in the production of good
books, I doubt whether their literary histories should not have more
to tell of those ages in which much has been read than of those in
which much has been written.

The United States have been by no means barren in the production of
literature. The truth is so far from this that their literary
triumphs are perhaps those which of all their triumphs are the most
honorable to them, and which, considering their position as a young
nation, are the most permanently satisfactory. But though they have
done much in writing, they have done much more in reading. As
producers they are more than respectable, but as consumers they are
the most conspicuous people on the earth. It is impossible to speak
of the subject of literature in America without thinking of the
readers rather than of the writers. In this matter their position
is different from that of any other great people, seeing that they
share the advantages of our language. An American will perhaps
consider himself to be as little like an Englishman as he is like a
Frenchman. But he reads Shakspeare through the medium of his own
vernacular, and has to undergo the penance of a foreign tongue
before he can understand Moliere. He separates himself from England
in politics and perhaps in affection; but he cannot separate himself
from England in mental culture. It may be suggested that an
Englishman has the same advantages as regards America; and it is
true that he is obtaining much of such advantage. Irving, Prescott,
and Longfellow are the same to England as though she herself had
produced them. But the balance of advantage must be greatly in
favor of America. We gave her the work of four hundred years, and
received back in return the work of fifty.

And of this advantage the Americans have not been slow to avail
themselves. As consumers of literature they are certainly the most
conspicuous people on the earth. Where an English publisher
contents himself with thousands of copies, an American publisher
deals with ten thousand. The sale of a new book, which in numbers
would amount to a considerable success with us, would with them be a
lamentable failure. This of course is accounted for, as regards the
author and the publisher, by the difference of price at which the
book is produced. One thousand in England will give perhaps as good
a return as the ten thousand in America. But as regards the readers
there can be no such equalization: the thousand copies cannot spread
themselves as do the ten thousand. The one book at a guinea cannot
multiply itself, let Mr. Mudie do what he will, as do the ten books
at a dollar. Ultimately there remain the ten books against the one;
and if there be not the ten readers against the one, there are five,
or four, or three. Everybody in the States has books about his
house. "And so has everybody in England," will say my English
reader, mindful of the libraries, or book-rooms, or book-crowded
drawing-rooms of his friends and acquaintances. But has my English
reader who so replies examined the libraries of many English cabmen,
of ticket porters, of warehousemen, and of agricultural laborers? I
cannot take upon myself to say that I have done so with any close
search in the States; but when it has been in my power I have done
so, and I have always found books in such houses as I have entered.
The amount or printed matter which is poured forth in streams from
the printing presses of the great American publishers is, however, a
better proof of the truth of what I say than anything that I can
have seen myself.

But of what class are the books that are so read? There are many
who think that reading in itself is not good unless the matter read
is excellent. I do not myself quite agree with this, thinking that
almost any reading is better than none; but I will of course admit
that good matter is better than bad matter. The bulk of the
literature consumed in the States is no doubt composed of novels--as
it is also, now-a-days, in this country. Whether or no an unlimited
supply of novels for young people is or is not advantageous, I will
not here pretend to say. The general opinion with ourselves, I take
it, is that novels are bad reading if they be bad of their kind.
Novels that are not bad are now-a-days accepted generally as
indispensable to our households. Whatever may be the weakness of
the American literary taste in this respect, it is I think a
weakness which we share. There are more novel readers among them
than with us, but only I think in the proportion that there are more

I have no hesitation in saying that works by English authors are
more popular in the States than those written by Americans; and,
among English authors of the present day, readers by no means
confine themselves to the novelists. The English names of whom I
heard most during my sojourn in the States were perhaps those of
Dickens, Tennyson, Buckle, Tom Hughes, Martin Tupper, and Thackeray.
As the owners of all these names are still living, I am not going to
take upon myself the delicate task of criticising the American
taste. I may not perhaps coincide with them in every respect. But
if I be right as to the names which I have given, such a selection
shows that they do get beyond novels. I have little doubt but that
many more copies of Dickens's novels have been sold, during the last
three years, than of the works either of Tennyson or Buckle; but
such also has been the case in England. It will probably be
admitted that one copy of the "Civilization" should be held as being
equal to five and twenty of "Nicholas Nickleby," and that a single
"In Memoriam" may fairly weigh down half a dozen "Pickwicks." Men
and women after their day's work are not always up to the
"Civilization." As a rule, they are generally up to "Proverbial
Philosophy," and this, perhaps, may have had something to do with
the great popularity of that very popular work.

I would not have it supposed that American readers despise their own
authors. The Americans are very proud of having a literature of
their own, and among the literary names which they honor, there are
none more honorable than those of Cooper and Irving. They like to
know that their modern historians are acknowledged as great authors,
and as regards their own poets, will sometimes demand your
admiration for strains with which you hardly find yourself to be
familiar. But English books are, I think, the better loved: even
the English books of the present day. And even beyond this--with
those who choose to indulge in the luxuries of literature--books
printed in England are more popular than those which are printed in
their own country; and yet the manner in which the American
publishers put out their work is very good. The book sold there at
a dollar, or a dollar and a quarter, quite equals our ordinary five
shilling volume. Nevertheless, English books are preferred, almost
as strongly as are French bonnets. Of books absolutely printed and
produced in England, the supply in the States is of course small.
They must necessarily be costly, and as regards new books, are
always subjected to the rivalry of a cheaper American copy. But of
the reprinted works of English authors the supply is unlimited, and
the sale very great. Almost everything is reprinted: certainly
everything which can be said to attain any home popularity. I do
not know how far English authors may be aware of the fact; but it is
undoubtedly a fact that their influence as authors is greater on the
other side of the Atlantic than on this one. It is there that they
have their most numerous school of pupils. It is there that they
are recognized as teachers by hundreds of thousands. It is of these
thirty millions that they should think, at any rate in part, when
they discuss within their own hearts that question which all authors
do discuss, whether that which they write shall in itself be good or
bad, be true or false. A writer in England may not, perhaps, think
very much of this with reference to some trifle of which his English
publisher proposes to sell some seven or eight hundred copies. But
he begins to feel that he should have thought of it when he learns
that twenty or thirty thousand copies of the same have been
scattered through the length and breadth of the United States. The
English author should feel that he writes for the widest circle of
readers ever yet obtained by the literature of any country. He
provides not only for his own country and for the States, but for
the readers who are rising by millions in the British colonies.
Canada is supplied chiefly from the presses of Boston, New York, and
Philadelphia, but she is supplied with the works of the mother
country. India, as I take it, gets all her books direct from
London, as do the West Indies. Whether or no the Australian
colonies have as yet learned to reprint our books I have never
learned, but I presume that they cannot do so as cheaply as they can
import them. London with us, and the three cities which I have
named on the other side of the Atlantic, are the places at which
this literature is manufactured; but the demand in the Western
hemisphere is becoming more brisk than that which the Old World
creates. There are, I have no doubt, more books printed in London
than in all America put together. A greater extent of letter-press
is put up in London than in the three publishing cities of the
States; but the number of copies issued by the American publishers
is so much greater than those which ours put forth that the greater
bulk of literature is with them. If this be so, the demand with
them is of course greater than it is with us.

I have spoken here of the privilege which an English author enjoys
by reason of the ever-widening circle of readers to whom he writes.
I should have said the writers of English literature, seeing that
the privilege is of course shared by the American writer. I profess
my belief that in the States an English author has an advantage over
one of that country merely in the fact of his being English, as a
French milliner has undoubtedly an advantage in her nationality, let
her merits or demerits as a milliner be what they may. I think that
English books are better liked because they are English. But I do
not know that there is any feeling with us either for or against an
author because he is American. I believe that Longfellow stands in
our judgment exactly where he would have stood had he been a tutor
at a college in Oxford instead of a Professor at Cambridge in
Massachusetts. Prescott is read among us as a historian without any
reference as to his nationality, and by many, as I take it, in
absolute ignorance of his nationality. Hawthorne, the novelist, is
quite as well known in England as he is in his own country. But I
do not know that to either of these three is awarded any favor or is
denied any justice because he is an American. Washington Irving
published many of his works in this country, receiving very large
sums for them from Mr. Murray, and I fancy that in dealing with his
publisher he found neither advantage nor disadvantage in his
nationality; that is, of course, advantage or disadvantage as
respected the light in which his works would be regarded. It must
be admitted that there is no jealousy in the States against English
authors. I think that there is a feeling in their favor, but no one
can at any rate allege that there is a feeling against them: I think
I may also assert on the part of my own country that there is no
jealousy here against American authors. As regards the tastes of
the people, the works of each country flow freely through the other.
That is as it should be. But when we come to the mode of supply,
things are not exactly as they should be; and I do not believe that
any one will contradict me when I say that the fault is with the

I presume that all my readers know the meaning of the word
copyright. A man's copyright is right in his copy; is that amount
of legal possession in the production of his brains which has been
secured to him by the law of his own country and of others. Unless
an author were secured by such law, his writings would be of but
little pecuniary value to him, as the right of printing and selling
them would be open to all the world. In England and in America, and
as I conceive in all countries possessing a literature, there is
such a law, securing to authors and to their heirs, for a term of
years, the exclusive right over their own productions. That this
should be so in England, as regards English authors, appears to be
so much a matter of course that the copyright of an author seems to
be as naturally his own as a gentleman's deposit at his bank, or his
little investment in the three per cents. The right of an author to
the value of his own productions in other countries than his own is
not so much a matter of course; but nevertheless, if such
productions have any value in other countries, that value should
belong to him. This has been felt to be the case between England
and France, and an international copyright now exists. The fact
that the languages of England and France are different, makes the
matter one of comparatively small moment. But it has been found to
be for the honor and profit of the two countries that there should
be such a law, and an international copyright does exist. But if
such an arrangement be needed between two such countries as France
and England--between two countries which do not speak the same
language, or share the same literature--how much more necessary must
it be between England and the United States! The literature of the
one country is the literature of the other. The poem that is
popular in London will certainly be popular in New York. The novel
that is effective among American ladies will be equally so with
those of England. There can be no doubt as to the importance of
having or of not having a law of copyright between the two
countries. The only question can be as to the expediency and the
justice. At present there is no international copyright between
England and the United States, and there is none because the States
have declined to sanction any such law. It is known by all who are
concerned in the matter on either side of the water that as far as
Great Britain is concerned such a law would meet with no impediment.

Therefore it is to be presumed that the legislators of the States
think it expedient and just to dispense with any such law. I have
said that there can be no doubt as to the importance of the
question, seeing that the price of English literature in the States
must be most materially affected by it. Without such law the
Americans are enabled to import English literature without paying
for it. It is open to any American publisher to reprint any work
from an English copy, and to sell his reprints without any
permission obtained from the English author or from the English
publisher. The absolute material which the American publisher
sells, he takes, or can take, for nothing. The paper, ink, and
composition he supplies in the ordinary way of business; but the
very matter which he professes to sell--of the book which is the
object of his trade--he is enabled to possess himself of for
nothing. If you, my reader, be a popular author, an American
publisher will take the choicest work of your brain, and make
dollars out of it, selling thousands of copies of it in his country,
whereas you can perhaps only sell hundreds of it in your own; and
will either give you nothing for that he takes, or else will explain
to you that he need give you nothing, and that in paying you he
subjects himself to the danger of seeing the property which he has
bought taken again from him by other persons. If this be so, that
question whether or no there shall be a law of international
copyright between the two countries cannot be unimportant.

But it may be inexpedient that there shall be such a law. It may be
considered well that, as the influx of English books into America is
much greater than the influx of American books back to England, the
right of obtaining such books for nothing should be reserved,
although the country in doing so robs its own authors of the
advantage which should accrue to them from the English market. It
might perhaps be thought anything but smart to surrender such an
advantage by the passing of an international copyright bill. There
are not many trades in which the tradesman can get the chief of his
goods for nothing; and it may be thought that the advantage arising
to the States from such an arrangement of circumstances should not
be abandoned. But how then about the justice? It would seem that
the less said upon that subject the better. I have heard no one say
that an author's property in his own works should not, in accordance
with justice, be insured to him in the one country as well as in the
other. I have seen no defense of the present position of affairs,
on the score of justice. The price of books would be enhanced by an
international copyright law, and it is well that books should be
cheap. That is the only argument used. So would mutton be cheap if
it could be taken out of a butcher's shop for nothing.

But I absolutely deny the expediency of the present position of the
subject, looking simply to the material advantage of the American
people in the matter, and throwing aside altogether that question of
justice. I must here, however, explain that I bring no charge
whatsoever against the American publishers. The English author is a
victim in their hands, but it is by no means their fault that he is
so. As a rule, they are willing to pay something for the works of
popular English writers; but in arranging as to what payments they
can make, they must of course bear in mind the fact that they have
no exclusive right whatsoever in the things which they purchase. It
is natural also that they should bear in mind, when making their
purchases and arranging their prices, that they can have the very
thing they are buying without any payment at all, if the price asked
do not suit them. It is not of the publishers that I complain, or
of any advantage which they take, but of the legislators of the
country, and of the advantage which accrues, or is thought by them
to accrue, to the American people from the absence of an
international copyright law. It is mean on their part to take such
advantage if it existed; and it is foolish in them to suppose that
any such advantage can accrue. The absence of any law of copyright
no doubt gives to the American publisher the power of reprinting the
works of English authors without paying for them, seeing that the
English author is undefended. But the American publisher who brings
out such a reprint is equally undefended in his property; when he
shall have produced his book, his rival in the next street may
immediately reprint it from him, and destroy the value of his
property by underselling him. It is probable that the first
American publisher will have made some payment to the English author
for the privilege of publishing the book honestly, of publishing it
without recurrence to piracy; and in arranging his price with his
customers he will be of course obliged to debit the book with the
amount so paid. If the author receive ten cents a copy on every
copy sold, the publisher must add that ten cents to the price he
charges. But he cannot do this with security, because the book can
be immediately reprinted and sold without any such addition to the
price. The only security which the American publisher has against
the injury which may be so done to him is the power of doing other
injury in return. The men who stand high in the trade, and who are
powerful because of the largeness of their dealings, can, in a
certain measure, secure themselves in this way. Such a firm would
have the power of crushing a small tradesman who should interfere
with him. But if the large firm commits any such act of injustice,
the little men in the trade have no power of setting themselves
right by counter-injustice. I need hardly point out what must be
the effect of such a state of things upon the whole publishing
trade; nor need I say more to prove that some law which shall
regulate property in foreign copyrights would be as expedient with
reference to America as it would be just toward England. But the
wrong done by America to herself does not rest here. It is true
that more English books are read in the States than American books
in England, but it is equally true that the literature of America is
daily gaining readers among us. That injury to which English
authors are subjected from the want of protection in the States,
American authors suffer from the want of protection here. One can
hardly believe that the legislators of the States would willingly
place the brightest of their own fellow-countrymen in this position,
because, in the event of a copyright bill being passed, the balance
of advantage would seem to accrue to England.

Of the literature of the United States, speaking of literature in
its ordinary sense, I do not know that I need say much more. I
regard the literature of a country as its highest produce, believing
it to be more powerful in its general effect, and more beneficial in
its results, than either statesmanship, professional ability,
religious teaching, or commerce. And in no part of its national
career have the United States been so successful as in this. I need
hardly explain that I should commit a monstrous injustice were I to
make a comparison in this matter between England and America.
Literature is the child of leisure and wealth. It is the produce of
minds which by a happy combination of circumstances have been
enabled to dispense with the ordinary cares of the world. It can
hardly be expected to come from a young country, or from a new and
still struggling people. Looking around at our own magnificent
colonies, I hardly remember a considerable name which they have
produced, except that of my excellent old friend Sam Slick.
Nothing, therefore, I think, shows the settled greatness of the
people of the States more significantly than their firm
establishment of a national literature. This literature runs over
all subjects: American authors have excelled in poetry, in science,
in history, in metaphysics, in law, in theology, and in fiction.
They have attempted all, and failed in none. What Englishman has
devoted a room to books, and devoted no portion of that room to the
productions of America?

But I must say a word of literature in which I shall not speak of it
in its ordinary sense, and shall yet speak of it in that sense which
of all, perhaps, in the present day should be considered the most
ordinary; I mean the every-day periodical literature of the press.
Most of those who can read, it is to be hoped, read books; but all
who can read do read newspapers. Newspapers in this country are so
general that men cannot well live without them; but to men and to
women also in the United States they may be said to be the one chief
necessary of life; and yet in the whole length and breadth of the
United States there is not published a single newspaper which seems
to me to be worthy of praise.

A really good newspaper--one excellent at all points--would indeed
be a triumph of honesty and of art. Not only is such a publication
much to be desired in America, but it is still to be desired in
Great Britain also. I used, in my younger days, to think of such a
newspaper as a possible publication, and in a certain degree to look
for it; now I expect it only in my dreams. It should be powerful
without tyranny, popular without triumph, political without party
passion, critical without personal feeling, right in its statements
and just in its judgments, but right and just without pride; it
should be all but omniscient, but not conscious of its omnipotence;
it should be moral, but never strait-laced; it should be well
assured but yet modest; though never humble, it should be free from
boastings. Above all these things it should be readable, and above
that again it should be true. I used to think that such a newspaper
might be produced, but I now sadly acknowledge to myself the fact
that humanity is not capable of any work so divine.

The newspapers of the States generally may not only be said to have
reached none of the virtues here named, but to have fallen into all
the opposite vices. In the first place, they are never true. In
requiring truth from a newspaper the public should not be anxious to
strain at gnats. A statement setting forth that a certain
gooseberry was five inches in circumference, whereas in truth its
girth was only two and a half, would give me no offense. Nor would
I be offended at being told that Lord Derby was appointed to the
premiership, while in truth the Queen had only sent to his lordship,
having as yet come to no definite arrangement. The demand for truth
which may reasonably be made upon a newspaper amounts to this, that
nothing should be stated not believed to be true, and that nothing
should be stated as to which the truth is important without adequate
ground for such belief. If a newspaper accuse me of swindling, it
is not sufficient that the writer believe me to be a swindler. He
should have ample and sufficient ground for such belief, or else in
making such a statement he will write falsely. In our private life
we all recognize the fact that this is so. It is understood that a
man is not a whit the less a slanderer because he believes the
slander which he promulgates. But it seems to me that this is not
sufficiently recognized by many who write for the public press.
Evil things are said, and are probably believed by the writers; they
are said with that special skill for which newspaper writers have in
our days become so conspicuous, defying alike redress by law or
redress by argument; but they are said too often falsely. The words
are not measured when they are written, and they are allowed to go
forth without any sufficient inquiry into their truth. But if there
is any ground for such complaint here in England, that ground is
multiplied ten times--twenty times--in the States. This is not only
shown in the abuse of individuals, in abuse which is as violent as
it is perpetual, but in the treatment of every subject which is
handled. All idea of truth has been thrown overboard. It seems to
be admitted that the only object is to produce a sensation, and that
it is admitted by both writer and reader that sensation and veracity
are incompatible. Falsehood has become so much a matter of course
with American newspapers that it has almost ceased to be falsehood.
Nobody thinks me a liar because I deny that I am at home when I am
in my study. The nature of the arrangement is generally understood.
So also is it with the American newspapers.

But American newspapers are also unreadable. It is very bad that
they should be false, but it is very surprising that they should be
dull. Looking at the general intelligence of the people, one would
have thought that a readable newspaper, put out with all pleasant
appurtenances of clear type, good paper, and good internal
arrangement, would have been a thing specially within their reach.
But they have failed in every detail. Though their papers are
always loaded with sensation headings, there are seldom sensation
paragraphs to follow. The paragraphs do not fit the headings.
Either they cannot be found, or if found, they seem to have escaped
from their proper column to some distant and remote portion of the
sheet. One is led to presume that no American editor has any plan
in the composition of his newspaper. I never know whether I have as
yet got to the very heart's core of the daily journal, or whether I
am still to go on searching for that heart's core. Alas! it too
often happens that there is no heart's core. The whole thing seems
to have been put out at hap-hazard. And then the very writing is in
itself below mediocrity; as though a power of expression in properly
arranged language was not required by a newspaper editor, either as
regards himself or as regards his subordinates. One is driven to
suppose that the writers for the daily press are not chosen with any
view to such capability. A man ambitious of being on the staff of
an American newspaper should be capable of much work, should be
satisfied with small pay, should be indifferent to the world's good
usage, should be rough, ready, and of long sufferance; but, above
all, he should be smart. The type of almost all American newspapers
is wretched--I think I may say of all--so wretched that that alone
forbids one to hope for pleasure in reading them. They are ill
written, ill printed, and ill arranged, and in fact are not
readable. They are bought, glanced at, and thrown away.

They are full of boastings, not boastings simply as to their
country, their town, or their party, but of boastings as to
themselves. And yet they possess no self-assurance. It is always
evident that they neither trust themselves, nor expect to be
trusted. They have made no approach to that omniscience which
constitutes the great marvel of our own daily press; but finding it
necessary to write as though they possessed it, they fall into
blunders which are almost as marvelous. Justice and right judgment
are out of the question with them. A political party end is always
in view, and political party warfare in America admits of any
weapons. No newspaper in America is really powerful or popular; and
yet they are tyrannical and overbearing. The New York Herald has, I
believe, the largest sale of any daily newspaper; but it is
absolutely without political power, and in these times of war has
truckled to the government more basely than any other paper. It has
an enormous sale, but so far is it from having achieved popularity
that no man on any side ever speaks a good word for it. All
American newspapers deal in politics as a matter of course; but
their politics have ever regard to men and not to measures.
Vituperation is their natural political weapon; but since the
President's ministers have assumed the power of stopping newspapers
which are offensive to them, they have shown that they can descend
below vituperation to eulogy.

I shall be accused of using very strong language against the
newspaper press of America. I can only say that I do not know how
to make that language too strong. Of course there are newspapers as
to which the editors and writers may justly feel that my remarks, if
applied to them, are unmerited. In writing on such a subject, I can
only deal with the whole as a whole. During my stay in the country,
I did my best to make myself acquainted with the nature of its
newspapers, knowing in how great a degree its population depends on
them for its daily store of information; for newspapers in the
States of America have a much wider, or rather closer circulation,
than they do with us. Every man and almost every woman sees a
newspaper daily. They are very cheap, and are brought to every
man's hand, without trouble to himself, at every turn that he takes
in his day's work. It would be much for the advantage of the
country that they should be good of their kind; but, if I am able to
form any judgment on the matter, they are not good.



In one of the earlier chapters of this volume--now some seven or
eight chapters past--I brought myself on my travels back to Boston.
It was not that my way homeward lay by that route, seeing that my
fate required me to sail from New York; but I could not leave the
country without revisiting my friends in Massachusetts. I have told
how I was there in the sleighing time, and how pleasant were the
mingled slush and frost of the snowy winter. In the morning the
streets would be hard and crisp and the stranger would surely fall
if he were not prepared to walk on glaciers. In the afternoon he

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