Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol 17 No 100 by Various

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  • 04/1876
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April, 1876.

Vol. XVII, No. 100.
























APRIL, 1876.
Vol. XVII, No. 100.




None of the European exhibitions we have sketched partook of the nature of an anniversary or was designed to commemorate an historical event. Some idea of celebrating the close of the calendar half-century may have helped to determine the choice of 1851 as the year for holding the first London fair; but if so, it was only with reference to the general progress during this period, and not to any notable fact at its commencement. Still less did the later exhibitions owe any portion of their significance and interest to their connection with a date. They afforded occasion for comparison and rivalry, but no shape loomed up out of the past claiming to preside over the festival, to have its toils and achievements remembered, and to be credited with a share in the production of the harvests garnered by its successors.

In our case it is very different. Here was the birth-year of the Union coming apace. It forced itself upon our contemplation. It appealed not merely to the average passion of grown-up boys for hurrahs, gun-firing, bell-ringing, and rockets sulphureous and oratorical. It addressed us in a much more sober tone and assumed a far more didactic aspect. Looking from its throne of clouds o’er half the (New) World–and indeed, as we have shown, constructively over the Old as well–it summoned us to the wholesome moral exercise of pausing a moment in our rapid career to revert to first principles, moral, social and political, and to explore the germs of our marvelous material progress. Nor could we assume this office as exclusively for our own benefit. The rest of Christendom silently assigned it to the youngest born for the common good. Circumstances had placed in our hands the measuring-rod of Humanity’s growth, and all stood willing to gather upon our soil for its application, so far as that could be made by the method devised and perfected within the past quarter of a century. It was here, a thousand leagues away from the scene of the first enterprise of the kind, that the culminating experiment was to be tried.


To what point on a continent as broad as the Atlantic were they to come? The European fairs were hampered with no question of locality. That Austria should hold hers at Vienna, France at Paris, and Britain at London, were foregone conclusions. But the United States have a plurality of capitals, political, commercial, historical and State. Washington, measured by house-room and not by magnificent distances, was too small. New York, acting with characteristic haste, had already indulged in an exposition, and it lacked, moreover, the rich cluster of associations that might have hallowed its claims as the “commercial metropolis.” Among the State capitals Boston alone had the needed historical eminence, but, besides the obvious drawback of its situation, its capacity and its commissariat resources, except for a host of disembodied intellects, must prove insufficient. There remained the central city of the past, the seat of the Continental Congress, of the Convention and of the first administrations under the Constitution which it framed–the halfway-house between North and South of the early warriors and statesmen, and the workshop in which the political machinery that has since been industriously filed at home and more or less closely copied abroad was originally forged. Where else could the two ends of the century be so fitly brought together? Here was the Hall of 1776; the other hall that nearly two years earlier received the first assemblage of “that hallowed name that freed the Atlantic;” the modest building in a bed-chamber of which the Declaration of Independence was penned; and other localities rich with memories of the men of our heroic age.

The space of a few blocks covered the council-ground of the Union. Those few acres afforded room enough for the beating of its political heart for twenty-five years, from the embryonic period to that of maturity–from the meeting of a consulting committee of subject colonists to the establishment of unchallenged and symmetrical autonomy.

The growth of Philadelphia from this contracted germ was only less remarkable than that of the government. The capital of the provincial rebels had expanded into one fit for an empire, comparable to Vienna as a site for a World’s Exposition and a caravanserai for those who should attend it. Such advantages would have caused its selection had the question been submitted in the first instance to the unbiased vote of various quarters of the Union, all expected and all prepared to contribute an equal quota, according to population and means, of the cost. But the enterprise of the community itself anticipated such decision. Its own citizens hastened to appropriate the idea and shoulder the responsibility. They felt that the standpoint wherefrom they were able to address their countrymen was a commanding one, and they lost no time in lifting up their voice. Aware that those who take the initiative have always to carry more than their share of the burden, they were very moderate in their calls for aid; and the demand for that they rested chiefly upon the same ground which naturally sustained part of their own calculations of reimbursement in some shape, direct or indirect–local self-interest. The dislike to the entire loss of a large outlay on an uncertain event is not peculiar to this commercial age. Appeals on the side of patriotism and of public enthusiasm over the jubilee of a century would be at least as effective with the American people as with any other in the world; but they could not be expected to be all-powerful, and to need no assistance from the argument of immediate and palpable advantage. In default of subscriptions to the main fund from distant towns and States, these were invited to provide for the cost of collecting, transporting and arranging their individual shares of the display. This they have generally, and in many cases most liberally, done, in addition to direct subscriptions greater in amount than the provinces of either Austria, France or England made to their respective expositions. Withal, it could surprise no one that Pennsylvania and her chief city would have to be the main capitalists of an undertaking located on their own soil.

These came forward with a promptness that at once raised the movement above the status of a project. The city with a million and a half, and the State with a million, replenished the exchequer of the association after a fashion that ensured in every quarter confidence in its success, and at the same time extinguished what little disposition may have been manifested elsewhere to cavil at the choice of location. These large subventions very properly contemplated something more than the encouragement of a transient display, and were for the most part devoted to the erection of structures of a permanent character, such as the Art-Gallery or Memorial Hall and the Horticultural Building. To endowments of this description, called forth by the occasion, we might add the Girard Avenue Bridge, the finest in the country, erected by the city at the cost of a million and a half, and leading direct to the exhibition grounds. The concession of two hundred and sixty acres of the front of Fairmount Park, with the obliteration of costly embellishments that occupied the ground taken for the new exposition buildings, may be viewed in the light of another contribution.

[Illustration: MAIN BUILDING.]

A treasury meant to accommodate seven millions of dollars–three millions less than the Vienna outlay–still showed an aching void, which was but partially satisfied by the individual subscriptions of Philadelphians. It became necessary to sound the financial tocsin in the ears of all the Union. Congress, States, cities, counties, schools, churches, citizens and children were appealed to for subscriptions. The shares were fixed at the convenient size of ten dollars each, hardly the market-value of the stock-certificate, “twenty-four by twenty inches on the best bank-note paper,” which became the property of each fortunate shareholder on the instant of payment. But these seductive pictures belonged to a class of art with which the moneyed public had become since ’73 unhappily too familiar. They had to jostle, in the gallery of the stock-market, a vast and various collection exhaustive of the whole field of allegory, mythological and technical, and framed in the most bewitching aureoles of blue, red and green printer’s ink. It seemed in ’72 much more probable that the Coon Swamp and Byzantium Trans-Continental Railway would be able, the year after completion, to pay eight per cent. on fifty thousand dollars of bonds to the mile, sold at seventy in the hundred, than it did in ’75 that ten millions of fifty-cent tickets could be disposed of in six months at any point on the Continent. Thus it happened that the exchange of Mr. Spinner’s twenty square inches of allegory for the three square feet of Messrs. Ferris & Darley’s went on slowly, and it became painfully obvious that the walls of but an imperceptible minority of American homes would have the patriotic faith and fervor of their occupants attested a century hence by these capacious engravings, as that of a hundred years ago is by rusty muskets and Cincinnati diplomas.

Still, the stock did not altogether go a-begging. The adjacent State of New Jersey signed for the sum of $100,000, more remote New Hampshire and Connecticut for $10,000 each, and little Delaware for the same. Kansas gave $25,000. Five thousand were voted by the city of Wilmington, and a thin fusillade of ten-dollar notes played slowly from all points of the compass. This was kept up to the last, and with some increase of activity, but it was a mere affair of pickets, that could not be decisive.

Undismayed, the managers fought their way through fiscal brake and brier, the open becoming more discernible with each effort, till in February, 1876, Congress rounded off their strong box with the neat capping of a million and a half. The entire cost of administration and construction was thus covered, and the association distinguished from all its predecessors by the assurance of being able on the opening day to invite its thousands of guests to floors laden with the wealth of the world, but with not an ounce of debt.

The assistance extended in another and indirect form by the States collectively and individually was valuable. Congress appropriated $505,000 for the erection of a building and the collection therein of whatever the different Federal departments could command of the curious and instructive. Massachusetts gave for a building of her own, and for aiding the contribution of objects by her citizens, $50,000; New York for a like purpose, $25,000; New Hampshire, Nevada and West Virginia, $20,000 each; Ohio, $13,000; Illinois, $10,000; and other States less sums. The States in all, and in both forms of contribution, have given over four hundred thousand dollars–not a fourth, strange to say, of the sums appropriated by foreign governments in securing an adequate display of the resources, energy and ingenuity of their peoples. It does not approach the donation of Japan, and little more than doubles that of Spain. In explanation, it may be alleged that our exhibitors, being less remote, will encounter less expense, and a larger proportion of them will be able to face their own expenses.

Great as is the value to a country of a free and facile interchange of commodities and ideas between its different parts, of not less–under many circumstances far greater–importance is its wide and complete intercourse with foreign lands. Provincial differences are never so marked as national. The latter are those of distinct idiosyncrasies–the former, but modifications of one and the same. To study members of our own family is only somewhat to vary the study of ourselves. Really to learn we must go outside of that circle. Hence the tremendous effect of the world-searching commerce of modern times in the enlightenment and enrichment of the race.

For the best fruits of the exposition its projectors and all concerned in its success looked abroad. In this estimate of highest results they had the example of Europe. It was remembered that British exports rose from one hundred and thirty-one millions sterling in 1850 to two hundred and fourteen in 1853–an increase equal to our average annual export at present, and double what it was at that time. The declared satisfaction of Austria with her apparent net loss of seven millions of dollars by the exhibition of 1873, in view of the offset she claimed in the stimulus it gave to her domestic industry and the extended market it earned for her foreign trade, was also eloquent. We must therefore address the world in the way most likely to ensure its attention and attendance. The chief essential to that end was that it should be official. Government must address government.

[Illustration: MACHINERY HALL.]

Naturally, this necessity was apparent from the beginning. Congress was addressed betimes, and the consequence was a sufficiently sonorous act of date March 3, 1871, assuming in the title to “provide for celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of American independence.” It made, however, no provision at all for that purpose financially. On the contrary, it provided very stringently that the Federal treasury should not be a cent the worse for anything contained in the bill. It furnished, however, the stamp wanted. It “created” the United States Centennial Commission, and it directed the President, as soon as the private corporators should have perfected their work, to address foreign nations, through their diplomatic representatives and our own, in its behalf. A commissioner and alternate were appointed by the President, on the nomination of the respective governors, from each State and Territory, who should have “exclusive control” of the exhibition.

Subsequently, an act of June 1, 1872, established a Centennial Board of Finance, as a body corporate, to manage the fisc of the exhibition, provide ways and means for the construction of the buildings according to the plans adopted by the commission, and after the close of the exhibition to convert its property into cash and divide the same, after paying debts, _pro rata_ among the stockholders. This was to be done under the supervision of the commission, which was to wind up the board, audit its accounts, and make report to the President of the financial outcome of the affair. An inroad on the terms of this act is made by the law of last winter, which makes preferred stock of the million and a half then subscribed by the Federal government–a provision, however, the literal enforcement of which, by the covering back of so much money into the treasury of the United States, is, in our opinion, not probable. It will doubtless be made a permanent appropriation, in some form, for the promotion of the arts of industry and taste.

Ten millions of dollars was the authorized capital of the new board. Events have proved the amplitude of this estimate.

As early as the third day of July, 1873, the President was enabled, by the notification of the governor of Pennsylvania, to make formal proclamation that provision had been made for the completion of the exposition structures by the time contemplated. Nearly three years was thus allotted for preparation to home and foreign exhibitors. A year later (June 5, 1874) an act of a single sentence requested the President “to extend, in the name of the United States, a respectful and cordial invitation to the governments of other nations to be represented and take part in” the exposition; “_Provided, however_, that the United States shall not be liable, directly or indirectly, for any expenses attending such exposition, or by reason of the same.” The abundant caution of this _italically_ emphatic reservation will scarcely preclude the extension to the representatives of foreign governments of such measure of hospitality, on occasion, as they may have in the like case offered our own.

Acts permitting the Centennial medals to be struck at the mint, and admitting free of duty articles designed for exhibition, were passed in June, 1874. The Secretary of the Treasury gave effect to the latter by a clear and satisfactory schedule of regulations. Under its operation foreign exhibitors have all their troubles at home; their goods, once on board ship, reaching the interior of the building with more facility and less of red tape than they generally meet with in attaining the point of embarkation.

The answers of the nations were all that could be desired, and largely beyond any anticipation. Their government appropriations will exceed an aggregate of two millions in our currency. Great Britain, with Australia and Canada, gives for the expenses of her share of the display $250,000 in gold; France, $120,000; Germany, _$171,000_; Austria, $75,000; Italy, $38,000 from the government direct, and the same sum from the Chamber of Commerce, which is better, as indicating enlightenment and energy among her business-men; Spain, amid all her distractions, $150,000; Japan, an unknown quantity in the calculations of 1851, no less than $600,000; Sweden, $125,000; Norway, $44,000; Ecuador, $10,000; the Argentine Confederation, $60,000; and many others make ample provision not yet brought to figures, among them Egypt, China, Brazil, Chili, Venezuela, and that strange political cousin of ours at the antipodes, begotten and sturdily nurtured by the Knickerbockers, the Orange Free State. In all, we may reckon at forty the governments which have made the affair a matter of public concern, and have ranked with the ordinary and regular cares of administration the interest of their people in being adequately represented at Philadelphia. Many other states will be represented by considerable displays sent at private expense. It results that we shall have twenty-one acres under roof of the best products of the outer world–more than the entire area of the London exposition of 1851. A Muscovite journal, the _Golos_, expresses a wide popular sentiment in declaring that our exposition “will have immense political importance in the way of international relations.” The people suspect they have found what they have long needed–a great commercial, industrial and political ‘change to aid in regulating and equalizing the market of ideas and making a common fund of that article of trade, circulating freely and interchangeable everywhere at sight. Practically, the territory of the United States is an island like Great Britain. Everything that comes to Philadelphia, save a little from Canada, will traverse the sea. We are assuming the metropolitan character, whereto isolation is a step. All the imperial centres, old and new, have been seated on islands or promontories. Look at England, Holland, Venice, Carthage, Syracuse, Tyre, Rome and Athens. Shall we add New York and San Francisco–little wards as they are of a continental metropolis?

A unanimous, graceful and cordial bow of acceptance having thus swept round the globe in response to the invitation of the youngest member of the family, let us glance at the preparations made for the comfortable entertainment of so august an assemblage. An impression that its host was not yet fully out of the woods, that the chestnut-burs were still sticking in his hair, and that the wolf, the buffalo and the Indian were among his intimate daily chums, may have tended to modify its anticipations of a stylish reception. The rough but hearty ways of a country cousin who wished to retaliate for city hospitalities probably limited the calculations of the expectant world. This afforded the cousin aforesaid opportunity for a new surprise, of which he fully determined to avail himself. It is not his habit to aim too low, and that was not his failing in the present instance.


The edifices, according to the original plan, were to excel their European exemplars not less in elegance and elaboration than in completeness for their practical purposes, in adaptation and in capacity. The uncertainty, however, of success in raising the necessary funds in time enforced the abandonment of much that was merely ornate–a circumstance which was proved fortunate by the excess in the demands of exhibitors over all calculations, since the means it was at first proposed to bestow upon the artistic finish of the buildings were needed to provide additional space. As it is, the architectural results actually attained are above the average of such structures in general effect. The Main Building strikes the eye, at an angle of vision proper to its extent, more pleasingly than either of the English or French structures; while for the massiveness and dignity unattainable by glass and iron Memorial Hall has no rival among them, and its facade is inferior chiefly in richness of detail to the main entrance at Vienna. Were it otherwise, some shortcoming in point of external beauty might be pardoned in erections which are meant to stand but for a few months, and which can have no pretensions to the monumental character belonging to true architecture. Suitability to their transient purpose is the great thing to be considered; and their merit in that regard is amply established. Mr. P. Cunliffe Owen, familiar with all the minutiae of previous expositions, declares them supreme “in thoroughness of plan and energy of construction”–a judgment designed to coyer the whole conception and administration of the exhibition, and one which, coming from a disinterested and competent foreign observer, may be cited as an amply expressive tribute to the zeal and fidelity of those in control. Ex-Governor Hawley of Connecticut, president of the commission, is a native of North Carolina, and brings to the cause a combination of Southern ardor with Northern tenacity. The secretary of the commission, Mr. John L. Campbell of Indiana, was a good second in that bureaucratic branch of the management. The trying charge of supervising the work generally, conducting negotiations and correspondence, and leading as one harmonious body to the objective point of success an army of artists, contractors, superintendents, clerks, exhibitors, railroad companies and State and national commissioners, fell to General A.T. Goshorn of Ohio, director-general. We do not know that anything more eloquent can be said of him than simply thus to name what he had to do and point to what he has done. The duties of procuring the ways and means and controlling their expenditure devolved upon the Centennial Board of Finance. Of this body Mr. John Welsh is Chairman; Mr. Frederick Fraley, Treasurer; and Mr. Thomas Cochran, Chief of the Building Committee. Their office was fixed upon the grounds at an early stage of the proceedings. Mr. Welsh, more fortunate than Wren, has been able while yet in the flesh to point to his monument, and see it rising around him from day to day.

The exposition is peculiarly fortunate in its site. Had historical associations determined the choice of the ground, the array of them in Fairmount Park would have sufficed to justify that which has been made. Its eminences are dotted with the country-houses of the Revolutionary statesmen and with trees under which they held converse. On one of them Robert Morris, our American Beaumarchais, enjoyed his financial zenith and fell to its nadir. To another the wit and geniality of Peters were wont to summon for relaxation the staid Washington, the meditative Jefferson, Rittenhouse the man of mathematics, the gay La Fayette with enthusiasm as yet undamped by Olmuetz, and his fellow-_emigres_ of two other stamps, Talleyrand and the citizen-king that was to be. The house of one of the Penns looked down into a secluded dell which he aptly dubbed Solitude, but which is now the populous abode of monkeys, bears and a variety of other animals, more handsomely housed than any similar collection in America.


Knolls not appropriated by the villas of the old time, or from which they have disappeared, offered admirable locations for some of the buildings of the exposition, and a broad and smooth plateau, situated precisely where it was wanted, at the point nearest the city, offered itself for the largest two, the Main Building and Machinery Hall, with room additional for the Art Building. The amphitheatrical depression flanked on the east by this long wall of granite and glass, and spreading northward to the heights occupied by Horticultural Hall and the Agricultural Building, was assigned to the mushroom city to be formed of the various State and foreign head-quarters, restaurants, the Women’s Pavilion, the United States Government Building, that of the press, a monster dairy, a ditto brewery, and a medley of other outcroppings of public and private spirit. To this motley and incoherent assemblage a quiet lakelet nearly in the centre would supply a sorely-wanted feature of repose, were it not to be vexed by a fountain, giving us over bound and helpless to the hurly-burly. But that is what every one will come for. When each member of the congregated world “tries its own expressive power,” madness not inappropriately rules the hour. Once in a hundred years a six months’ carnival is allowable to so ponderous a body. Civilization here aims to see itself not simply as in a glass, but in a multitude of glasses. To steer its optics through the architectural muddle in the basin before us it will need the retina that lies behind the facets of a fly.


Eighteen hundred and eighty feet long, four hundred and sixty-four wide, forty-eight to the cornice and seventy to the roof-tree, are figures as familiar by this time to every living being in the United States as pictures of the Main Building. At each corner a square tower runs up to a level with the roof, and four more are clustered in the centre of the edifice and rise to the height of a hundred and twenty feet from a base of forty-eight feet square. These flank a central dome one hundred and twenty feet square at base and springing on iron trusses of delicate and graceful design to an apex ninety-six feet above the pavement–the exact elevation of the interior of the old Capitol rotunda. The transept, the intersection of which with the nave forms this pavilion, is four hundred and sixteen feet long. On each side of it is another of the same length and one hundred feet in width, with aisles of forty-eight feet each. Longitudinally, the divisions of the interior correspond with these transverse lines. A nave one hundred and twenty feet wide and eighteen hundred and thirty-two feet long–said to be unique for combined length and width–is accompanied by two side avenues a hundred feet wide, and as many aisles forty-eight feet wide. An exterior aisle twenty-four feet wide, and as many high to a half-roof or clerestory, passes round the whole building except where interrupted by the main entrances in the centres of the sides and ends and a number of minor ones between.

The iron columns which support the central nave and transept are forty-five feet high, the roof between rising to seventy. Those of the side avenues and transepts are of the same height, with a roof-elevation of sixty-five feet. The columns of the centre space are seventy-two feet high. In all, the columns number six hundred and seventy-two. They stand twenty-two feet apart upon foundations of solid masonry. Being of rolled iron, bolted together in segments, they can, like the other constituents of the building, be taken apart and erected elsewhere when the gentlemen of the commission, their good work done and the century duly honored, shall fold their tents like the Arabs, though not so silently.

A breadth of thirty feet will be left to the main promenades along and athwart, of fifteen feet to the principal ones on either side, and of ten feet to all the others. Narrow highways these for traversing the kingdoms of the world, but, combined, they nearly equal the bottom depth of the Suez Canal, very far exceed the five feet of the Panama Railway, and still farther the camel-track that sufficed a few centuries ago to link our ancestors to the Indies. The berths of the nations run athwartship, or north and south as the great ark is anchored. The classes of objects are separated by lines running in the opposite direction. Noah may be supposed to have followed some such arrangement in his storage of zoological zones and families. He had the additional aid of decks; which our assemblers of the universe decline, small balconies of observation being the only galleries of the Main Building. Those at the different stages of the central towers will be highly attractive to students who prefer the general to the particular, or who, exhausted for the time, retire to clear their brains from the dust of detail and muster their faculties for another charge on the vast army of art. From this perch one may survey mankind from China to Peru through “long-drawn aisles” flooded with mellow light, the subdued tones of the small surface that glass leaves open to the paint-brush relieved with a few touches of positive color to destroy monotony. These are assisted by the colored glass louvres, which have no other artistic merit, but serve, where they are placed over the side-entrances, to indicate the nation to whose department belongs that particular vomitorium.

Four miles of water- and drainage-pipe underlie the twenty-one and a half acres of plank floor in this building. The pillars and trusses contain thirty-six hundred tons of iron. The contract for it was awarded in July, 1874, and it was completed in eighteen months, being ready for the reception of goods early in January last. The cost was $1,420,000, and in mechanical execution the iron-, glass- and wood-work is pronounced fully equal to either of the British structures and superior to those of the Continent. In economy of material for producing a given result it is probable that the iron trusses and supports of the English buildings are as much excelled as the iron bridges of this country surpass those of Great Britain in the combination of lightness with strength. Our metal is better, and its greater cost has united with the scarcity of labor which so stimulated ingenuity in other departments of industry to enforce tenuity of form. Foreign engineers wonder that our viaducts stand, but somehow they do stand.

The turrets and eagles of galvanized sheet iron, not being intended to support anything but jokes, need not be criticized as part of the construction. The tiled pavements of the vestibules, designed to sustain, besides criticism of the he-who-walks-may-read order, the impact of the feet of all nations, are more important. Their pattern is very fair–their solidity will doubtless stand the test. The turf and shrubbery meant to brighten the _entourage_, especially at the carriage concourse on the east front, we can hardly hope will fare so well. The defence of their native soil, to prevent its being rent from them by the heedless tread of millions and scattered abroad in the shape of dust, will demand the most untiring struggles of the guardian patriots in the Centennial police service.

Shall we step northward from the middle of this building to Memorial Hall, or thread the great nave to the western portal and enter the twin tabernacle sacred to Vulcan? The answer readily suggests itself: substantials before dessert–Mulciber before the Muses. Let us get the film of coal-smoke, the dissonance of clanking iron and the unloveliness of cog-wheels from off our senses before offering them to the beautiful, pure and simple. We come from the domain of finished products, complete to the last polish, silently self-asserting and wooing the almighty dollar with all their simpers. We pass to their noisy hatching- and training-ground, where all the processes of their creation from embryo to maturity are to be rehearsed for our edification. We shall here become learned in the biography of everything a machine can create, from an iron-clad to a penknife or a pocket-handkerchief. In the centre of the immense hall, fourteen hundred and two by three hundred and sixty feet and covering fourteen acres, the demiurges of this nest of Titans, an engine–which if really of fourteen hundred horse-power must be the largest hitherto known–is getting together its bones of cast and thews of wrought iron, and seems already like the first lion “pawing to be free.” Its first throb one would fancy inevitably fatal to the shell of timber and glass that surrounds it.


Before it is brought to the test let us explore that shell. To our eye, its external appearance is more pleasing than that of the building we just left. The one central and four terminal towers, with their open, kiosk-like tops, are really graceful, and the slender spires which surmount them are preferable to the sham of sheet-iron turrets. Thanks, too, to the necessity of projecting an annex for hydraulic engines from one side of the middle, the building is distinguished by the possession of a front. The main cornice is forty feet in height upon the outside; the interior height being seventy feet in the two main longitudinal avenues and forty feet in the one central and two side aisles. The avenues are each ninety feet in width, and the aisles sixty, with a space of fifteen feet for free passage in the former and ten in the latter. A transept ninety feet broad crosses the main building into that for hydraulics, bringing up against a tank sixty by one hundred and sixty feet, whereinto the water-works are to precipitate, Versailles fashion, a cataract thirty-five feet high by-forty wide.

The substitution of timber for iron demands a closer placing of the pillars. They are consequently but sixteen feet apart “in the row,” the spans being correspondingly more contracted. This has the compensating advantage, aesthetically speaking, of offering more surface for decorative effect, and the opportunity has been fairly availed of. The coloring of the roof, tie-rods and piers expands over the turmoil below the cooling calm of blue and silver. To this the eye, distracted with the dance of bobbins and the whirl of shafts, can turn for relief, even as Tubal Cain, pausing to wipe his brow, lifted his wearied gaze to the welkin.

Machinery Hall has illustrated, from its earliest days, the process of development by gemmation. Southward, toward the sun, it has shot forth several lusty sprouts. The hydraulic avenue which we have mentioned covers an acre, being two hundred and eight by two hundred and ten feet. Cheek by jowl with water is its neighbor fire, safe behind bars in the boiler-house of the big engine; and next branches out, over another acre and more, or forty-eight thousand square feet, the domain of shoes and leather under a roof of its own.

Including galleries and the leather, fire and water suburbs, this structure affords more than fifteen acres of space. Over that area it rose like an exhalation in the spring and early summer of 1875. At the close of winter it existed only in the drawings of Messrs. Pettit & Wilson. Under the hands of Mr. Philip Quigley it was ready to shelter a great Fourth of July demonstration. This matches the rapidity of growth of its neighbor before described. The Main Building, designed by the same firm, had its foundations laid by Mr. R.J. Dobbins, contractor, in the fall of 1874, but nothing further could be done till the following spring. The first column was erected, an iron Maypole, on the first day of the month of flowers, and the last on the 27th of October. Three weeks later the last girder was in place. All had been done with the precision of machinery, no pillar varying half an inch from its line. Machinery, indeed, rolled the quadrant-shaped sections of each column and riveted their flanges together with hydraulic hammers; great steam-derricks dropped each on its appointed seat; and the main tasks of manual labor in either building were painting, glazing, floor-laying and erecting the ground-wall of masonry, from five to seven feet high, that fills in the outer columns all round to a level with the heads of theorists who, holding that _la propriete c’est le vol_, assert the propriety of theft.

Following Belmont Avenue, the Appian Way of the Centennial, to the north-west, we penetrate a mob of edifices, fountains, restaurants, government offices, etc., and reach the Agricultural Building–the palace of the farmer. The hard fate of which he habitually complains–that of being thrust into a corner save when he is wanted for tax-paying purposes–does not forsake him here. The commission does not tax him, however, and the boreal region whereto he and his belongings are consigned is in no other way objectionable than as not being nearer the front. The building is worthy of a Centennial agricultural fair. Five hundred and forty by eight hundred and twenty feet, with ten acres and a quarter under roof, it equals the halls of a dozen State cattle-shows, The style is Gothic, the three transepts looking like those of as many cathedrals stripped of the roof, the extrados taking its place. The nave that spits them is a hundred and twenty-five feet wide, with an elevation of seventy-five feet. An ecclesiastical aspect is imparted by the great oriel over the main entrance, and the resemblance is aided by a central tower that suggests the “cymbals glorious swinging uproarious” in honor of the apotheosis of the plough. The materials of this bucolic temple are wood and glass. The contract price was $250,000. Its contents will be more cosmopolitan than could have been anticipated when it was planned. Germany claims five thousand feet and Spain six thousand. Among other countries, tropical America is fully represented.

Besides this indoor portion of the world’s farm-steading, a barnyard of correspondent magnitude is close at hand, where all domestic animals will be accommodated, and the Weirs, Landseers and Bonheurs will find many novelties for the portfolio. A race-track, too, is an addendum of course. What would our Pan-Athenaic games be without it?

From this exhibition of man’s power over the fruits of the earth and the beasts of the field we cross a ravine where the forest is allowed to disport itself in ignorance of his yoke, and ascend another eminence where floral beauty, gathered from all quarters of the globe, is fed in imprisonment on its native soil and breathes its native climate. We predict that woman will seek her home among the flowers on the hill rather than in the atelier specially prepared for her in the valley we have passed. Her tremendous struggles through the mud, while yet the grounds were all chaos, to get sight of the first plants that appeared in the Horticultural Building, left no doubt of this in our mind.


No site could have been more happily chosen for this beautiful congress-hall of flowers. It occupies a bluff that overlooks the Schuylkill a hundred feet below to the eastward, and is bounded by the deep channels of a pair of brooks equidistant on the north and south sides. Up the banks of these clamber the sturdy arboreal natives as though to shelter in warm embrace their delicate kindred from abroad. Broad walks and terraces prevent their too close approach and the consequent exclusion of sunlight.

For the expression of its purpose, with all the solidity and grace consistent with that, the Moresque structure before us is not excelled by any within the grounds. The curved roofs of the forcing-houses would have the effect upon the eye of weakening the base, but that, being of glass and showing the greenery within, their object explains itself at once, and we realize the strong wall rising behind them and supporting the lofty range of iron arches and fretwork that springs seventy-two feet to the central lantern. The design of the side portals and corner towers may be thought somewhat feeble. They and the base in its whole circuit might with advantage have been a little more emphasized by masonry. The porticoes or narrow verandahs above them on the second story are in fine taste. The eruption of flag-poles is, of course, a transient disease, peculiar to the season. They have no abiding-place on a permanent structure like this, and will disappear with the exposition.

Entering from the side by a neat flight of steps in dark marble, we find ourselves in a gayly-tiled vestibule thirty feet square, between forcing-houses each a hundred by thirty feet. Advancing, we enter the great conservatory, two hundred and thirty by eighty feet, and fifty-five high, much the largest in this country, and but a trifle inferior in height to the palm-houses of Chatsworth and Kew. A gallery twenty feet from the floor will carry us up among the dates and cocoanuts that are to be. The decorations of this hall are in keeping with the external design. The woodwork looks out of place amid so much of harder material; but there is not much of it.

Outside promenades, four in number and each a hundred feet long, lead along the roofs of the forcing-houses, and contribute to the portfolio of lovely views that enriches the Park. Other prospects are offered by the upper floors of the east and west fronts; the aerial terrace embracing in all seventeen thousand square feet. The extreme dimensions of the building are three hundred and eighty by one hundred and ninety-three feet. Restaurants, reception-rooms and offices occupy the two ends. The contractor who has performed his work so satisfactorily is Mr. John Rice.

A few years hence this winter-garden will, with one exception to which we next proceed, be the main attraction at the Park. It will by that time be effectively supplemented by thirty-five surrounding acres of out-door horticulture, to which the soil of decomposed gneiss is well suited.

Passing from the bloom of Nature, we complete our circuit with that which springs from the pencil, the chisel and the burin. Here we alight upon another instance of inadequate calculation. That the art-section of the exposition would fill a building three hundred and sixty-five by two hundred and ten feet, affording eighty-nine thousand square feet of wall-surface for pictures, must, when first proposed, have struck the most imaginative of the projectors as a dream. The actual result is that it proved indispensably necessary to provide an additional building of very nearly equal dimensions, or three hundred and forty-nine by a hundred and eighty-six feet, to receive the contributions offered; and this after the promulgation of a strict requirement that “all works of art must be of a high order of merit.” Half the space in the extension had been claimed by Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Italy before ground was broken for its foundation; and recent demands at home have rendered necessary a further projection of the wings, with the effect of giving to the building the form of a Greek cross.

This building is on the rear, or north side, of Memorial Hall, and is the first portion of the fine-art department that meets the eye of one coming from Horticultural Hall. It is of comparatively temporary character, being built of brick instead of the solid granite that composes the pile in front of it. Its architectural pretensions are of course inferior. It is the youngest of all the exposition buildings, the present spring witnessing its commencement and completion. The drying of such green walls in such manner as to render them safe for valuable pictures has been compassed by the use of “asbestos” brick, which is said to be fire- as well as water-proof. Failure in this regard would be of the less moment, inasmuch as a great proportion of the contents will be drawings and engravings. In interior plan the extension will closely imitate the main building.

Memorial Hall, as its name implies, contemplates indefinite durability. What Virginia and Massachusetts granite, in alliance with Pennsylvania iron, on a basis of a million and a half of dollars, can effect in that direction, seems to have been done. The facade, designed by Mr. Schwarzmann, is in ultra-Renaissance; the arch and balustrade and open arcade quite overpowering pillar and pediment. The square central tower, or what under a circular dome would be the drum, is quite in harmony with the main front so tar as proportion and outline are concerned; but there is too much blank surface on the sides to match the more “noisy” details below it. This apart, the unity of the building is very striking. That its object, of supplying the best light for pictures and statuary, is not lost sight of, is evidenced by the fact that three-fourths of the interior space is lighted from above, and the residue has an ample supply from lofty windows. The figures of America, Art, Science, etc. which stud the dome and parapet were built on the spot, and will do very well for the present. The eagles are too large in proportion, and could easily fly away with the allegorical damsels at their side.

The eight arched windows of the corner towers, twelve and a half by thirty-four feet, are utilized for art-display. Munich fills two with stained glass: England also claims a place in them. The iron doors of the front are inlaid with bronze panels bearing the insignia of the States; the artist prudently limiting himself to that modest range of subjects in recognition of the impossibility of eclipsing Ghiberti at six months’ notice. Thirty years is not too much time to devote to completing the ornamentation of this building. Five, seven or ten millions of people will pass through it in the course of its first year, and among them will be some capable of making sound suggestions for its finish. The wisdom that comes from a multitude of counsels will remain to be sifted. Then will remain the creation of the artists who are to carry the counsels into execution. We shall be fortunate if the next three decades bring us men thoroughly equal to the task.


It would be an unpardonable neglect of the maxim which enjoins gratitude to the bridge that carries us safely over were we to complete our tour of the exposition structures without a glance at the graceful erections, diverse in magnitude and design, which overleap the depressions so attractive to the student of the picturesque and so trying to the pedestrian. The aesthetic capabilities of bridge architecture are very great, and a fine field is here offered for their display. The flat expanses of Hyde Park, the Champs de Mars and the Prater could afford no such exhibition. The ground and the buildings became, perforce, two sharply distinct things; and the blending into unity of landscape and architecture could be but imperfectly attained. Here the case is very different. With the aid of an art that embraces in its province alike the fairy trellis and the monumental arch and pilaster, the lines of Memorial Hall and other permanent edifices may be led over the three hundred acres appropriated to the exposition. From the foundation of a bridge-pier to the crowning statue of America, the artist finds an uninterrupted range.

The work of his foster-brother, the artisan, has certainly been well done. The structures we have been traversing are, in their way, works of art–very worthy, if not the choicest conceivable, blossoms of our century-plant. For fitness, the quality that underlies beauty throughout Nature from the plume to the tendril and the petal, they have not been surpassed in their kind. Every flange, bolt, sheet and abutment has been well thought out. Whatever the purpose, to bind or to brace, to lift or to support, everything tells.



The Koutab Minar, which I had first viewed nine miles off from one of the little kiosquelets crowning the minarets of the Jammah Masjid, improved upon closer acquaintance. One recognizes in the word “minaret” the diminutive of “minar,” the latter being to the former as a tower to a turret. This minar of Koutab’s–it was erected by the Mussulman general Koutab-Oudeen-Eibeg in the year 1200 to commemorate his success over the Rajput emperor Pirthi-Raj–is two hundred and twenty feet high, and the cunning architect who designed it managed to greatly intensify its suggestion of loftiness by its peculiar shape. Instead of erecting a shaft with unbroken lines, he placed five truncated cones one upon another in such a way that the impression of their successively lessening diameters should be lengthened by the four balconies which result from the projection of each lower cone beyond the narrower base of the cone placed on it–thus borrowing, as it were, the perspective effects of five shafts and concentrating them upon one. The lower portion, too, shows the near color of red–it is built of the universal red sandstone with which the traveler becomes so familiar–while the upper part reveals the farther color of white from its marble casing. Each cone, finally, is carved into reeds, like a bundle of buttresses supporting a weight enormous not by reason of massiveness, but of pure height.

The group of ruins about the Koutab Minar was also very fascinating to me. The Gate of Aladdin, a veritable fairy portal, with its bewildering wealth of arabesques and flowing traceries in white marble inlaid upon red stone; the Tomb of Altamsh; the Mosque of Koutab,–all these, lying in a singular oasis of trees and greenery that forms a unique spot in the arid and stony ruin-plain of Delhi, drew me with great power. I declared to Bhima Gandharva that it was not often in a lifetime that we could get so many centuries together to talk with at once, and wrought upon him to spend several days with me, unattended by servants, in this tranquil society of the dead ages, which still live by sheer force of the beautiful that was in them.

“Very pretty,” said my companion, “but not by force of the beautiful alone. Do you see that iron pillar?” We were walking in the court of the Mosque of Koutab, and Bhima pointed, as he spoke, to a plain iron shaft about a foot in diameter rising in the centre of the enclosed space to a height of something over twenty feet. “Its base is sunken deeper in the ground than the upper part is high. It is in truth a gigantic nail, which, according to popular tradition, was constructed by an ancient king who desired to play Jael to a certain Sisera that was in his way. It is related that King Anang Pal was not satisfied with having conquered the whole of Northern India, and that a certain Brahman, artfully seizing upon the moment when his mind was foolish with the fumes of conquest, informed him there was but one obstacle to his acquisition of eternal power. ‘What is that?’ said King Anang Pal.–‘It is,’ said the Brahman, ‘the serpent Sechnaga, who lies under the earth and stops it, and who at the same time has charge of Change and Revolution.–‘Well, and what then?’ said King Anang Pal.–‘If the serpent were dead there would be no change,’ said the Brahman.–‘Well, and what then?’ said King Anang Pal.–‘If you should cause to be constructed a great nail of iron, I will show you a spot where it shall be driven so as to pierce the head of the serpent.’ It was done; and the nail–being this column which you now contemplate–was duly driven. Then the Brahman departed from the court. Soon the king’s mind began to work, to question, to doubt, to harass itself with a thousand speculations, until his curiosity was inflamed to such a degree that he ordered the nail to be drawn out. With great trouble and outlay this was done: slowly the heavy mass rose, while the anxious king regarded it. At last the lower end came to his view. Rama! it was covered with blood. ‘Down with it again!’ cries the joyful king: ‘perhaps the serpent is not yet dead, and is escaping even now.’ But, alas! it would not remain stable in any position, pack and shove howsoever they might. Then the wise Brahman returned. ‘O king,’ said he, in reply to the monarch’s interrogatories, ‘your curiosity has cost you your kingdom: the serpent has escaped. Nothing in the world can again give stability to the pillar or to your reign.’ And it was true. Change still lived, and King Anang Pal, being up, quickly went down. It is from this pillar that yon same city gets its name. In the tongue of these people _dilha_ is, being interpreted, ‘tottering;’ and hence Dilhi or Delhi. It must be confessed, however, that this is not the account which the iron pillar gives of itself, for the inscription there declares it to have been erected as a monument of victory by King Dhara in the year 317, and it is known as the Lath (or pillar) of Dhara.”


Next day we took train for Agra, which might be called Shah Jehan’s “other city,” for it was only after building the lovely monument to his queen–the Taj Mahal–which has made Agra famous all over the world, that he removed to Delhi, or that part of it known as Shahjehanabad. Agra, in fact, first attained its grandeur under Akbar, and is still known among the natives as Akbarabad.

“But I am all for Shah Jehan,” I said as, after wandering about the great citadel and palace at the south of the city, we came out on the bank of the Jumna and started along the road which runs by the river to the Taj Mahal. “A prince in whose reign and under whose direct superintendence was fostered the style of architecture which produced that little Mouti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) which we saw a moment ago–not to speak of the Jammah Masjid of Delhi which we saw there, or of the Taj which we are now going to see–must have been a spacious-souled man, with frank and pure elevations of temper within him, like that exquisite white marble superstructure of the Mouti Masjid which rises from a terrace of rose, as if the glow of crude passion had thus lifted itself into the pure white of tried virtue.”

A walk of a mile–during which my companion reviewed the uglinesses as well as the beauties of the great Mogol reign with a wise and impartial calmness that amounted to an affectionate rebuke of my inconsiderate effusiveness–brought us to the main gate of the long red stone enclosure about the Taj. This is itself a work of art–in red stone banded with white marble, surmounted by kiosques, and ornamented with mosaics in onyx and agate. But I stayed not to look at these, nor at the long sweep of the enclosure, crenellated and pavilioned. Hastening through the gate, and moving down a noble alley paved with freestone, surrounded on both sides with trees, rare plants and flowers, and having a basin running down its length studded with water-jets, I quickly found myself in front of that bewilderment of incrustations upon white marble which constitutes the visitor’s first impression of this loveliest of Love’s memorials.

I will not describe the Taj. This is not self-denial: the Taj cannot _be_ described. One can, it is true, inform one’s friends that the red stone platform upon which the white marble mausoleum stands runs some nine hundred and sixty feet east and west by three hundred and twenty north and south; that the dome is two hundred and seventy feet high; that the incrustations with which the whole superstructure is covered without and within are of rock-crystal, chalcedony, turquoise, lapis-lazuli, agate, carnaline, garnet, oynx, sapphire, coral, Pannah diamonds, jasper, and conglomerates, brought respectively from Malwa, Asia Minor, Thibet, Ceylon, Temen, Broach, Bundelcund, Persia, Colombo, Arabia, Pannah, the Panjab, and Jessalmir; that there are, besides the mausoleum, two exquisite mosques occupying angles of the enclosure, the one built because it is the Moslem custom to have a house of prayer near the tomb, the other because the architect’s passion for symmetry demanded another to answer to the first, whence it is called _Jawab_ (“the answer”); that out of a great convention of all the architects of the East one Isa (Jesus) Mohammed was chosen to build this monument, and that its erection employed twenty thousand men from 1630 to 1647, at a total cost of twelve millions of dollars; and, finally, that the remains of the beautiful queen variously known as Mumtazi Mahal, Mumtazi Zemani and Taj Bibi, as well as those of her royal husband, Shah Jehan, who built this tomb to her memory, repose here.


But this is not description. The only way to get an idea of the Taj Mahal is–to go and see it.

“But it is ten thousand miles!” you say.

“But it is the Taj Mahal,” I reply with calmness. And no one who has seen the Taj will regard this answer as aught but conclusive.

But we had to leave it finally–it and Agra–and after a railway journey of some twelve hours, as we were nearing Allahabad my companion began, in accordance with his custom, to give me a little preliminary view of the peculiarities of the town.

“We are now approaching,” he said, “a city which distinguishes itself from those which you have seen by the fact that besides a very rich past it has also a very bright future. It is situated at the southern point of the Lower Doab, whose fertile and richly-cultivated plains you have been looking at to-day. These plains, with their wealth, converge to a point at Allahabad, narrowing with the approach of the two rivers,–the Ganges and the Jumna–that enclose them. The Doab, in fact, derives its name from _do_, “two,” and _ab_, “rivers.” But Allahabad, besides being situated at the junction of the two great water-ways of India–for here the Jumna unites with the Ganges–is also equally distant from the great extremes of Bombay, Calcutta, and Lahore, and here centres the railway system which unites these widely-separated points. Add to this singular union of commercial advantages the circumstance–so important in an India controlled by Englishmen–that the climate, though warm, is perfectly wholesome, and you will see that Allahabad must soon be a great emporium of trade.”

“Provided,” I suggested, “Benares yonder–Benares is too close by to feel uninterested–will let it be so.”

“Oh! Benares is the holy city. Benares is the blind Teiresias of India: it has beheld the Divine Form, and in this eternal grace its eyes have even lost the power of seeing those practical advancements which usually allure the endeavors of large cities. Allahabad, although antique and holy also, has never become so wrapped up in religious absorption.”

On the day after our arrival my companion and I were driven by an English friend engaged in the cultivation of indigo to an indigo-factory near the town, in compliance with a desire I had expressed to witness the process of preparing the dye for market.

“Not long ago,” I said to our friend as we were rolling out of the city, “I was wandering along the banks of that great lagoon of Florida which is called the Indian River, and my attention was often attracted to the evidences of extensive cultivation which everywhere abounded. Great ditches, growths of young forests upon what had evidently been well-ploughed fields within a century past, and various remains of settlements constantly revealed themselves. On inquiry I learned that these were the remains of those great proprietary indigo-plantations which were cultivated here by English grantees soon after Florida first came under English protection, and which were afterward mournfully abandoned to ruin upon the sudden recession of Florida by the English government.”

“They are ruins of interest to me,” said our English friend, “for one of them–perhaps some one that you beheld–represents the wreck of my great-great-grandfather’s fortune. He could not bear to stay among the dreadful Spaniards and Indians; and so, there being nobody to sell to, he simply abandoned homestead, plantations and all, and returned to England, and, finding soon afterward that the East India Company was earnestly bent upon fostering the indigo-culture of India, he came here and recommenced planting. Since then we’ve all been indigo-planters–genuine ‘blue blood,’ we call ourselves.”

Indigo itself had a very arduous series of toils to encounter before it could manage to assert itself in the world. The ardent advocates of its azure rival, woad, struggled long before they would allow its adoption. In 1577 the German government officially prohibited the use of indigo, denouncing it as that pernicious, deceitful and corrosive substance, the Devil’s dye. It had, indeed, a worse fate in England, where hard names were supplemented by harsh acts, for in 1581 it was not only pronounced _anathema maranatha_ by act of Parliament, but the people were authorized to institute search for it in their neighbors’ dye-houses, and were empowered to destroy it wherever found. Not more than two hundred years have passed since this law was still in force. It was only after a determined effort, which involved steady losses for many years, that the East India Company succeeded in re-establishing the culture of indigo in Bengal. The Spanish and French in Central America and the West Indies had come to be large growers, and the production of St. Domingo was very large. But the revolt in the latter island, the Florida disasters and the continual unsettlement of Mexico, all worked favorably for the planters of India, who may now be called the indigo-producers of the world.

[Illustration: MALERS AND SONTALS.]

The seed is usually sown in the latter part of October in Bengal, as soon as the annual deposit of the streams has been reduced by drainage to a practicable consistency, though the sowing-season lasts quite on to the end of November. On dry ground the plough is used, the _ryots_, or native farm-laborers, usually planting under directions proceeding from the factory. There are two processes of extracting the dye, known as the method “from fresh leaves” and that “from dry leaves.” I found them here manufacturing by the former process. The vats or cisterns of stone were in pairs, the bottom of the upper one of each couple being about on a level with the top of the lower, so as to allow the liquid contents of the former to run freely into the latter. The upper is the fermenting vat, or “steeper,” and is about twenty feet square by three deep. The lower is the “beater,” and is of much the same dimensions with the upper, except that its length is five or six feet greater. As the twigs and leaves of the plants are brought in from the fields the cuttings are placed in layers in the steeper, logs of wood secured by bamboo withes are placed upon the surface to prevent overswelling, and water is then pumped on or poured from buckets to within a few inches of the top. Fermentation now commences, and continues for fourteen or fifteen hours, varying with the temperature of the air, the wind, the nature of the water used and the ripeness of the plants. When the agitation of the mass has begun to subside the liquor is racked off into the lower vat, the “beater,” and ten men set to work lustily beating it with paddles (_busquets_), though this is sometimes done by wheels armed with paddle-like appendages. Meanwhile, the upper vat is cleaned out, and the refuse mass of cuttings stored up to be used as fuel or as fertilizing material. After an hour and a half’s vigorous beating the liquor becomes flocculent. The precipitation is sometimes hastened by lime-water. The liquor is then drained off the dye by the use of filtering-cloths, heat being also employed to drain off the yellow matter and to deepen the color. Then the residuum is pressed in bags, cut into three-inch cubes, dried in the drying-house and sent to market.

The dry-leaf process depends also upon maceration, the leaves being cropped from the ripe plant, and dried in the hot sunshine during two days, from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon.

On the next day, at an early hour in the morning, my companion and I betook us to the Plain of Alms. I have before mentioned that Allahabad, the ancient city of Prayaga, is doubly sanctified because it is at the junction of the Jumna and the Gauges, and these two streams are affluents of its sanctity as well as of its trade. The great plain of white sand which is enclosed between the blue lake-like expanses of the two meeting rivers is the Plain of Alms. In truth, there are three rivers which unite here–the Ganges, the Jumna and the Saravasti–and this thrice-hallowed spot is known in the Hindu mythologic system as the Triveni.

“But where is the third?” I asked as we stood gazing across the unearthly-looking reaches of white sand far down the blue sweep of the mysterious waters.

“Thereby hangs a tale,” replied my companion. “It is invisible here, but I will show you what remains of it presently when we get into the fort. Here is a crowd of pilgrims coming to bathe in the purifying waters of the confluence: let us follow them.”

As they reached the shore a Brahman left his position under a great parasol and placed himself in front of the troop of believers, who, without regard to sex, immediately divested themselves of all clothing except a narrow cloth about the loins, and followed him into the water. Here they proceeded to imitate his motions, just as pupils in a calisthenic class follow the movements of their teacher, until the ceremonies of purification were all accomplished.


“A most villainous-faced penitent!” I exclaimed as one of their number came out, and, as if wearied by his exertions, lay down near us on the sand.

Bhima Gandharva showed his teeth: “He is what your American soldiers called in the late war a substitute. Some rich Hindu, off somewhere in India, has found the burden of his sins pressing heavily upon him, while at the same time the cares of this world, or maybe bodily infirmities, prevent him from visiting the Triveni. Hence, by the most natural arrangement in the world, he has hired this man to come in his place and accomplish his absolution for him.”

Striking off to the westward from the Plain of Alms, we soon entered the citadel of Akbar, which he built so as to command the junction of the two streams. Passing the Lath (pillar) of Asoka, my companion led me down into the old subterranean Buddhistic temple of Patal Pouri and showed me the ancient Achaya Bat, or sacred tree-trunk, which its custodians declare to be still living, although more than two thousand years old. Presently we came to a spot under one of the citadel towers where a feeble ooze of water appeared.

“Behold,” said my friend, “the third of the Triveni rivers! This is the river Saravasti. You must know that once upon a time, Saravasti, goddess of learning, was tripping along fresh from the hills to the west of Yamuna (the Jumna), bearing in her hand a book. Presently she entered the sandy country, when on a sudden a great press of frightful demons uprose, and so terrified her that in the absence of other refuge she sank into the earth. Here she reappears. So the Hindus fable.”

On our return to our quarters we passed a verandah where an old pedagogue was teaching a lot of young Mussulmans the accidence of Oordoo, a process which he accomplished much as the “singing geography” man used to impart instruction in the olden days when I was a boy–to wit, by causing the pupils to sing in unison the A, B, C. Occasionally, too, the little, queer-looking chaps squatted tailor-wise on the floor would take a turn at writing the Arabic character on their slates. A friendly hookah in the midst of the group betrayed the manner in which the wise man solaced the labors of education.

On the next day, as our indigo-planter came to drive us to the Gardens of Chusru, he said, “An English friend of mine who is living in the Moffussil–the Moffussil is anywhere _not_ in Calcutta, Bombay or Madras–not far from Patna has just written me that word has been brought from one of the Sontal villages concerning the depredations of a tiger from which the inhabitants have recently suffered, and that a grand hunt, elephant-back, has been organized through the combined contributions of the English and native elephant-owners. He presses me to come, and as an affair of this sort is by no means common–for it is no easy matter to get together and support a dozen elephants and the army of retainers considered necessary in a great hunt–I thought perhaps you would be glad to accompany me.”

Of course I was; and Bhima Gandharva, though he would not take any active part in the hunt, insisted upon going along in order to see that no harm came to me.

On the next day, therefore, we all took train and fared south-eastward toward Calcutta, as far as to Bhagalpur, where we left the railway, sending our baggage on to Calcutta, and took private conveyance to a certain spot among the Rajmahal Mountains, where the camp had been fixed by retainers on the day before. It was near a village of the Sontals, which we passed before reaching it, and which was a singular-enough spectacle with its round roofed huts and a platform at its entrance, upon which, and under which, were ghastly heaps of the skulls of animals slain by the villagers. These Sontals reminded me of the Gonds whom I had seen, though they seemed to be far manlier representatives of the autochthonal races of India than the former. They are said to number about a million, and inhabit a belt of country some four hundred miles long by one hundred broad, including the Rajmahal Mountains, and extending from near the Bay of Bengal to the edge of Behar. So little have they been known that when in the year 1855 word was brought to Calcutta that the Sontals had risen and were murdering the Europeans, many of the English are said to have asked not only _Who_ are the Sontals? but _What_ are the Sontals?

The more inaccessible tops of the same mountains, the Rajmahal, are occupied by a much ruder set of people, the Malers, who appear to have been pushed up here by the Sontals, as the Sontals were themselves pressed by the incoming Aryans.


As we arrived at the camp I realized the words of our English friend concerning the magnitude of the preparations for a tiger-hunt undertaken on the present scale. The tents of the sportsmen, among whom were several English army officers and civil officials, besides a native rajah, were pitched in a beautiful glade canopied by large trees, and near these were the cooking-tents and the lodging-places of the servants, of whom there was the liberal allowance which is customary in India. Through the great tree-trunks I could see elephants, camels and horses tethered about the outskirts of the camp, while the carts, elephant-pads and other _impedimenta_ lying about gave the whole the appearance of an army at bivouac. Indeed, it was not an inconsiderable force that we could have mustered. There were fifteen or twenty elephants in the party. Every elephant had two men, the _mahaut_ and his assistant; every two camels, one man; every cart, two men; besides whom were the _kholassies_ (tent-pitchers), the _chikarries_ (native huntsmen to mark down and flush the tiger), letter-carriers for the official personages, and finally the personal servants of the party, amounting in all to something like a hundred and fifty souls. The commissary arrangements of such a body of men and beasts were no light matter, and had on this occasion been placed by contract in the hands of a flour-and-grain merchant from Patna. As night drew on the scene became striking in the extreme, and I do not think I felt the fact of India more keenly at any time than while Bhima Gandharva and I, slipping away from a party who were making merry over vast allowances of pale ale and cheroots, went wandering about under the stars and green leaves, picking our way among the huge forms of the mild-countenanced elephants and the bizarre figures of the camels.


On the next day, after a leisurely breakfast at eight–the hunt was to begin at midday–my kind host assigned me an elephant, and his servants proceeded to equip me for the hunt, placing in my howdah brandy, cold tea, cheroots, a rifle, a smooth-bore, ammunition, an umbrella, and finally a blanket.

“And what is the blanket for?” I asked.

“For the wild-bees; and if your elephant happens to stir up a nest of them, the very best thing in the world you can do is to throw it incontinently over your head,” added my host, laughing.

The tiger had been marked down in a spot some three miles from camp, and when our battle-array, which had at first taken up the line of march in a very cozy and gentleman-militia sort of independence, had arrived within a mile of our destination the leader who had been selected to direct our movements caused us all to assume more systematic dispositions, issued orders forbidding a shot to be fired at any sort of game, no matter how tempting, less than the royal object of our chase, and then led the way down the glade, which now began to spread out into lower and wetter ground covered by tall grasses and thickets. The hunt now began in earnest. Hot, flushed, scratched as to the face by the tall reeds, rolling on my ungainly animal’s back as if I were hunting in an open boat on a chopping sea, I had the additional nervous distraction of seeing many sorts of game–deer, wild-hogs, peafowl, partridges–careering about in the most exasperating manner immediately under my gun-muzzle. To add to my dissatisfaction, presently I saw a wild-hog dash out of a thicket with her young litter immediately across our path, and as my elephant stepped excitedly along one of his big fore feet crunched directly down on a beautiful little pig, bringing a quickly-smothered squeak which made me quite cower before the eye of Bhima Gandharva as he stood looking calmly forward beside me. So we tramped on through the thickets and grasses. An hour passed; the deployed huntsmen had again drawn in together, somewhat bored; we were all red-faced and twig-tattooed; no tiger was to be found; we gathered into a sort of circle and were looking at each other with that half-foolish, half-mad disconsolateness which men’s faces show when they are unsuccessfully engaged in a matter which does not amount to much even after it _is_ successfully achieved,–when suddenly my elephant flourished his trunk, uttered a shrill trumpeting sound, and dashed violently to one side, just as I saw a grand tiger, whose coat seemed to be all alive with throbbing spots, flying through the air past me to the haunches of the less wary elephant beside which mine had been walking. Instantly the whole party was in commotion. “_Bagh! bagh!_” yelled the mahauts and attendants: the elephants trumpeted and charged hither and thither. The tiger seemed to become fairly insane under the fusillade which greeted him; he leapt so desperately from one side to the other as to appear for a few moments almost ubiquitous, while at every discharge the frantic natives screamed “_Lugga! lugga!_” without in the least knowing whether he _was_ hit (_lugga_) or not, till presently, when I supposed he must have received at least forty shots in his body, he fell back from a desperate attempt to scale the back of the rajah’s elephant, and lay quite still.

[Illustration: BRAHMANS OF BENGAL.]

“I thought that last shot of mine would finish him,” said one of the English civil officials as we all crowded around the magnificent beast.

“Whether it did or not, I distinctly saw him cringe at _my_ shot,” hotly said another. “There’s always a peculiar look a tiger has when he gets his death-wound: it’s unmistakable when you once know it.”

“And I’ll engage to eat him,” interjected a third, “if I didn’t blow off the whole side of his face with my smooth-bore when he stuck his muzzle up into my howdah.”

“Gentlemen,” said our leader, a cool and model old hunter, “the shortest way to settle who is the owner of this tiger-skin is to examine the perforations in it.”

Which we all accordingly fell to doing.

“B—-, I’m afraid you’ve a heavy meal ahead of you: his muzzle is as guiltless of harm as a baby’s,” said one of the claimants.

“Well,” retorted B—-, “but I don’t see any sign of that big bore of yours, either.”

“By Jove!” said the leader in some astonishment as our search proceeded unsuccessfully, “has _anybody_ hit him? Maybe he died of fright.”

At this moment Bhima Gandharva calmly advanced, lifted up the great fore leg of the tiger and showed us a small blue hole just underneath it: at the same time he felt along the tiger’s skin on the opposite side to the hole, rolled the bullet about under the cuticle where it had lodged after passing through the animal, and deftly making an incision with his knife drew it forth betwixt his thumb and finger. He handed it to the gentleman whose guests we were, and to whom the rifle belonged which had been placed in our howdah, and then modestly withdrew from the circle.

“There isn’t another rifle in camp that carries so small a bullet,” said our host, holding up the ball, “and there can’t be the least doubt that the Hindu is the man who killed him.”

Not another bullet-hole was to be found.

“When _did_ you do it?” I asked of Bhima. “I knew not that you had fired at all.”

“When he made his first leap from the thicket,” he said quietly. “I feared he was going to land directly on you. The shot turned him.”

At this the three discomfited claimants of the tiger-skin (which belongs to him who kills) with the heartiest English good-nature burst into roars of laughter, each at himself as well as the others, and warmly shook Bhima’s hand amid a general outbreak of applause from the whole company.

Then amid a thousand jokes the tiffin-baskets were brought out, and we had a royal lunch while the tiger was “padded”–i.e., placed on one of the unoccupied elephants; and finally we got us back to camp, where the rest of the day was devoted to dinner and cheroots.

From the tiger to the town, from the cries of jackals to those of street-venders,–this is an easy transition in India; and it was only the late afternoon of the second day after the tiger-hunt when my companion and I were strolling along the magnificent Esplanade of Calcutta, having cut across the mountains, elephant-back, early in the morning to a station where we caught the down-train.


Solidity, wealth, trade, ponderous ledgers, capacious ships’ bottoms, merchandise transformed to magnificence, an ample-stomached _bourgeoisie_,–this is what comes to one’s mind as one faces the broad walk in front of Fort William and looks across the open space to the palaces, the domes, the columns of modern and English Calcutta; or again as one wanders along the strand in the evening when the aristocrats of commerce do congregate, and, as it were, gazette the lengths of their bank-balances in the glitter of their equipages and appointments; or again as one strolls about the great public gardens or the amplitudes of Tank Square, whose great tank of water suggests the luxury of the dwellers hereabout; or the numerous other paths of comfort which are kept so by constant lustrations from the skins of the water-bearers. The whole situation seems that of ease and indulgence. The very circular verandahs of the rich men’s dwellings expand like the ample vests of trustees and directors after dinner. The city extends some four and a half miles along the left bank of the Hooghly, and its breadth between the “Circular Road” and the river is about a mile and a half. If one cuts off from this space that part which lies south of a line drawn eastward from the Beebee Ross Ghat to the Upper Circular Road–the northern portion thus segregated being the native town–one has a veritable city of palaces; and when to these one adds the magnificent suburbs lying beyond the old circumvallation of the “Mahratta Ditch”–Chitpore, Nundenbagh, Bobar, Simla, Sealdah, Entally, Ballygunge, Bhovaneepore, Allypore, Kidderpore–together with the riverward-sloping lawns and stately mansions of “Garden Reach” on the sea-side of town, and the great dockyards and warehouses of the right bank of the river opposite the city, one has enclosed a space which may probably vie with any similar one in the world for the appearances and the realities of wealth within it.

But if one should allow this first impression of Calcutta–an impression in which good eating and the general pampering of the flesh seem to be the most prominent features–to lead one into the belief that here is nothing but money-making and grossness, one would commit a serious mistake. It is among the rich babous, or commercial natives, of Calcutta that the remarkable reformatory movement known as “Young India” has had its origin, and it would really seem that the very same qualities of patience, of prudence, of foresight and of good sense which have helped these babous to accumulate their wealth are now about being applied to the nobler and far more difficult work of lifting their countrymen out of the degradations of old outworn customs and faiths upon some higher plane of reasonable behavior.

“In truth,” said Bhima Gandharva to me one day as were taking our customary stroll along the Esplanade, “you have now been from the west of this country to the east of it. You have seen the Past of India: I wish that you may have at least a glimpse of its Future. Here comes a young babou of my acquaintance, to whom I will make you known. He is an enthusiastic member of ‘Young India:’ he has received a liberal education at one of the numerous schools which his order has so liberally founded in modern years, and you will, I am convinced, be pleased with the wisdom and moderation of his sentiments.”

Just as I was reaching out my hand to take that of the babou, in compliance with Bhima’s introduction, an enormous adjutant–one of the great pouched cranes (_arghilahs_) that stalk about Calcutta under protection of the law, and do much of the scavenger-work of the city–walked directly between us, eyeing each of us with his red round eyes in a manner so ludicrous that we all broke forth in a fit of laughter that lasted for several minutes, while the ungainly bird stalked away with much the stolid air of one who has seen something whereof he thinks but little.

The babou addressed me in excellent English, and after some preliminary inquiries as to my stay in Calcutta, accompanied by hospitable invitations, he gradually began, in response to my evident desire, to talk of the hopes and fears of the new party.

“It is our great misfortune,” said he, “that we have here to do with that portion of my countrymen which is perhaps most deeply sunk in the mire of ancient custom. We have begun by unhesitatingly leading in the front ourselves whenever any disagreeable consequences are to be borne by reason of our infringement of the old customs. Take, for example, the problem of the peculiar position of women among the Hindus. Perhaps”–and here the babou’s voice grew very grave and earnest–“the human imagination is incapable of conceiving a lot more wretched than that of the Hindu widow. By immemorial tradition she could escape it only through the flames of the _satti_, the funeral-pile upon which she could burn herself with the dead body of her husband. But the _satti_ is now prohibited by the English law, and the poor woman who loses her husband is, according to custom, stripped of her clothing, arrayed in coarse garments and doomed thenceforth to perform the most menial offices of the family for the remainder of her life, as one accursed beyond redemption. To marry again is impossible: the man who marries a widow suffers punishments which no one who has not lived under the traditions of caste can possibly comprehend. The wretched widow has not even the consolations which come from books: the decent Hindu woman does not know how to read or write. There was still one avenue of escape from this life. She might have become a _nautchni_. What wonder that there are so many of these? How, then, to deal with this fatal superstition, or rather conglomerate of superstitions, which seems to suffer no more from attack than a shadow? We have begun the revolution by marrying widows just as girls are married, and by showing that the loss of caste–which indeed we have quite abolished among ourselves–entails necessarily none of those miserable consequences which the priests have denounced; and we strike still more deeply at the root of the trouble by instituting schools where our own daughters, and all others whom we can prevail upon to send, are educated with the utmost care. In our religion we retain Brahma–by whom we mean the one supreme God of all–and abolish all notions of the saving efficacy of merely ceremonial observances, holding that God has given to man the choice of right and wrong, and the dignity of exercising his powers in such accordance with his convictions as shall secure his eternal happiness. To these cardinal principles we subjoin the most unlimited toleration for other religions, recognizing in its fullest extent the law of the adaptation of the forms of relief to the varying moulds of character resulting from race, climate and all those great conditions of existence which differentiate men one from another.”


“How,” I asked, “do the efforts of the Christian missionaries comport with your own sect’s?”

“Substantially, we work together. With the sincerest good wishes for their success–for every sensible man must hail any influence which instills a single new idea into the wretched Bengalee of low condition–I am yet free to acknowledge that I do not expect the missionaries to make many converts satisfactory to themselves, for I am inclined to think them not fully aware of the fact that in importing Christianity among the Hindus they have not only brought the doctrine, but they have brought the _Western form_ of it, and I fear that they do not recognize how much of the nature of substance this matter of form becomes when one is attempting to put new wine into old bottles. Nevertheless, God speed them! I say. We are all full of hope. Signs of the day meet us everywhere. It is true that still, if you put yourself on the route to Orissa, you will meet thousands of pilgrims who are going to the temple at Jaghernath (what your Sunday-school books call Juggernaut) for the purpose of worshiping the hideous idols which it contains; and although the English policemen accompany the procession of the Rattjattra–when the idol is drawn on the monstrous car by the frenzied crowd of fanatics–and enforce the law which now forbids the poor insane devotees from casting themselves beneath the fatal wheels, still, it cannot be denied that the devotees are _there_, nor that Jaghernath is still the Mecca of millions of debased worshipers. It is also true that the pretended exhibitions of the tooth of Buddha can still inspire an ignorant multitude of people to place themselves in adoring procession and to debase themselves with the absurd rites of frenzy and unreason. Nor do I forget the fact that my countrymen are broken up into hundreds of sects, and their language frittered into hundreds of dialects. Yet, as I said, we are full of hope, and there can be no man so bold as to limit the capabilities of that blood which flows in English veins as well as in Hindu. Somehow or other, India is now not so gloomy a topic to read of or to talk of as it used to be. The recent investigations of Indian religion and philosophy have set many European minds upon trains of thought which are full of novelty and of promise. India is not the only land–you who are from America know it full well–where the current orthodoxy has become wholly unsatisfactory to many of the soberest and most practically earnest men; and I please myself with believing that it is now not wholly extravagant to speak of a time when these two hundred millions of industrious, patient, mild-hearted, yet mistaken Hindus may be found leaping joyfully forward out of their old shackles toward the larger purposes which reveal themselves in the light of progress.”

At the close of our conversation, which was long and to me intensely interesting, the babou informed us that he had recently become interested with a company of Englishmen in reclaiming one of the numerous and hitherto wholly unused islands in the Sunderbunds for the purpose of devoting it to the culture of rice and sugar-cane, and that if we cared to penetrate some of the wildest and most picturesque portions of that strange region he would be glad to place at our disposal one of the boats of the company, which we would find lying at Port Canning. I eagerly accepted the proposition; and on the next day, taking the short railway which connects Calcutta and Port Canning, we quickly arrived at the latter point, and proceeded to bestow ourselves comfortably in the boat for a lazy voyage along the winding streams and canals which intersect the great marshes. It was not long after leaving Port Canning ere we were in the midst of the aquatic plants, the adjutants, the herons, the thousand sorts of water-birds, the crocodiles, which here abound.

[Illustration: THE PORT OF CALCUTTA.]

The Sunderbunds–as the natives term that alluvial region which terminates the delta of the Ganges–can scarcely be considered either land or sea, but rather a multitudinous reticulation of streams, the meshes of which are represented by islands in all the various stages of consistency between water and dry land. Sometimes we floated along the lovely curves of canals which flowed underneath ravishing arches formed by the meeting overhead of great trees which leaned to each other from either bank; while again our course led us between shores which were mere plaits and interweavings of the long stems and broad leaves of gigantic water-plants. The islands were but little inhabited, and the few denizens we saw were engaged either in fishing or in the manufacture of salt from the brackish water. Once we landed at a collection of huts where were quartered the laborers of another company which had been successfully engaged in prosecuting the same experiment of rice-culture which our friend had just undertaken. It was just at the time when the laborers were coming in from the fields. The wife of the one to whose hut my curiosity led me had prepared his evening meal of rice and curry, and he was just sitting down to it as I approached. With incredible deftness he mingled the curry and the rice together–he had no knife, fork or spoon–by using the end-joints of his thumb and fingers: then, when he had sufficiently amalgamated the mass, he rolled up a little ball of it, placed the ball upon his crooked thumb as a boy does a marble, and shot it into his mouth without losing a grain. Thus he despatched his meal, and I could not but marvel at the neatness and dexterity which he displayed, with scarcely more need of a finger-bowl at the end than the most delicate feeder you shall see at Delmonico’s.

The crops raised upon the rich alluvium of these islands were enormous, and if the other difficulties attending cultivation in such a region could be surmounted, there seemed to be no doubt of our friend the babou’s success in his venture. But it was a wild and lonesome region, and as we floated along, after leaving the island, up a canal which flamed in the sunset like a great illuminated baldric slanting across the enormous shoulder of the world, a little air came breathing over me as if it had just blown from the mysterious regions where space and time are not, or are in different forms from those we know. A sense of the crudity of these great expanses of sea-becoming-land took possession of me; the horizon stretched away like a mere endless continuation of marshes and streams; the face of my companion was turned off sea-ward with an expression of ineffably mellow tranquillity; a glamour came about as if the world were again formless and void, and as if the marshes were chaos. I shivered with a certain eager expectation of beholding the shadowy outline of a great and beautiful spirit moving over the face of the waters to create a new world. I drew my gaze with difficulty from the heavens and turned toward my companion.

He was gone. The sailors also had disappeared.

And there, as I sat in that open boat, midst of the Sunderbunds, at my domestic antipodes, happened to me the most wondrous transformation which the tricksy stage-carpenters and scene-shifters of the brain have ever devised. For this same far-stretching horizon, which had just been alluring my soul into the depths of the creative period, suddenly contracted itself four-square into the somewhat yellowed walls of a certain apartment which I need not now further designate, and the sun and his flaming clouds became no more nor less than a certain half dozen of commonplace pictures upon these same yellowish walls; and the boat wherefrom I was about to view the birth of continents degraded itself into a certain–or, I had more accurately said, a very uncertain–cane chair, wherein I sit writing these lines and mourning for my lost Bhima Gandharva.


The most marked trait in American college life is its spirit of caste. This same spirit, it is true, manifests itself in other lands–in England, France and Germany. In fact, it reached its extreme development in the last-named country: the very term _Philistia_ is of German coinage. The causes that originated and kept alive this spirit in Europe are obvious. During the Middle Ages students enjoyed privileges such as made them, in the strictest legal sense, a distinct class. Thus, they had the right to wear side-arms, and had their own courts of justice. Some of these privileges have survived, in England and Germany at least, to the present day. Yet even in Germany the old student spirit is evidently on the wane, and is doomed to extinction at a day not far distant. In America, on the contrary, where like causes have never operated, the spirit exists in force. It is due to peculiar causes–to college life, to locality and to the mode of teaching.

The tendency to monkish seclusion lingers in England and America, the lands that have led the van in political and social progress. The motives that urged the monks of the olden time to turn their backs upon the world and bury themselves in cloisters were praiseworthy: but for such havens of peace, letters might have perished. When the Reformation was carried out in England, and the sequestration of Church property left immense convents idle, it was only natural that the newly-established colleges and halls should convert the buildings to their own uses. The dormitory system of Oxford and Cambridge, accordingly, has an historic right of being; and, growing by natural laws, it has become so rooted in the national life that nothing short of a political revolution, greater even than that of the seventeenth century, could eradicate it. The founders of our earliest colleges were governed by the desire to make them conform as closely as might be to the English model. There is scarcely the trace of a disposition to look to the institutions of continental Europe for guidance. This was a matter of course. The founders of our colleges and the men whom they selected to be teachers were Englishmen by descent or by education, trained after the English fashion–seeking freedom in America, yet at heart sympathizing with English thought, English habits and English prejudices. Hence the establishment of our dormitory system–not at once nor in all the fullness of a system. The colleges were at first little more than schools. The scholars boarded with the professors: there were no funds for the erection of separate buildings. But soon we see the evidences of a persistent effort to make each college an embryonic Oxford or Cambridge. Harvard, Yale and Princeton before completing the first half century of existence were committed to the dormitory system. Other colleges have followed the example thus set. The exceptions are too few to need enumeration.

The mildest judgment that can be passed upon the system is that it has cost us dear. Were all the figures accurately ascertained and summed up, were we able to see at a glance all the money that has been expended for land and brick and mortar by the hundreds of colleges between Maine and California, even such an aggregate, startling enough in itself, would fail to reveal the whole truth. We should have to go behind the figures–to consider what might have been effected by a more judicious investment of those millions–how many professorships might have been permanently established, how many small colleges, now dragging out a sickly existence, too poor to live, too good to die, might have become vigorous branches in the tree of knowledge. What have we in return for the outlay? A series of structures concerning which the most ardent friend of the system cannot but admit that they are inelegant, uninspiring and unpractical. Some of the newer dormitories at Harvard and Yale, it is true, are decided improvements. They are well built and supplied with many conveniences that will serve to make student life less heathenish. But they can scarcely be called beautiful, and they certainly are not inspiring. The heart of the student or the visitor at Oxford swells within him at the sight of the grand architecture, the brilliant windows, the velvet turf. It is pardonable in us to wish for ourselves a like refining beauty. But is it not becoming in us to confess, without repining, that we cannot realize the wish? Oxford is not merely the growth of ages: it is the product of certain peculiar ages which have gone. Men build now for practical purposes, not for the glorification of architecture. The spirit of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance will probably never return, or, if it should, it will come as a folk-spirit, neither springing from nor governed by the colleges, but carrying them along with it. Hence, our colleges may content themselves with playing a less ostentatious part, and the most zealous alumnus need not think less of his alma mater for observing her limitations.

We are not concerned with the dormitory system in all its bearings, but only in so far as it directly affects the student. The fact is significant that a large majority of our collegians pass their term of four years, vacations excepted, in practical seclusion. They are gathered in large numbers in dingy and untidy caravanseries, where the youthful spirit is unchecked by the usual obligations to respect private property and individual quiet. President Porter, in his work on _The American Colleges_, endeavors to prove that the dormitory system is, upon the whole, favorable to discipline. The facts are against his argument. The evils of student life are two–vice and disorder. So far as the former is concerned, no system has succeeded, or will ever succeed, in extirpating it. Vice may be punished, but it is too deeply rooted in human nature to be wholly cured. Its predominating forms are drinking and gambling, neither of which is checked by the dormitory system. At Oxford, for instance, both these vices prevail despite the most elaborate system of gates and night-patrols. Our college faculties must perforce content themselves with detecting vice, and punishing it when detected. The most satisfactory and appropriate means of detection is to watch closely the way in which the student performs his college duties. No man can waste his time over cards or the bottle without betraying his dissipation in the recitation-room. Here, and not in the dormitory, is the professor’s hold upon the student. The dormitory system, so far from restraining, rather tends to diffuse vice and render its practice easy.

Disorder is different from vice. The latter, the doing of things wrong in themselves or made wrong by force of opinion, shuns observation: the former courts it. The disorderly act is in many instances harmless enough in itself, and the evil lies in doing it in an improper place and at an improper time. Hence it is that good students, who would scorn to stoop to vice, so often suffer themselves to be led to the commission of an act of disorder. We may even go to the extent of admitting that occasionally college disorder is not without a certain color of reason. It is the youthful way of resenting a real or an imaginary grievance. When a class discovers that it or some of its members have been treated too severely, according to its standard, by a certain professor, what more natural than to create a disturbance in the recitation-room or in public? In itself considered, the act is a youthful ebullition, and we might be tempted at first to look upon it as something venial and pass it by in silence. Reflection, however, should lead us to the opposite conclusion. There is nothing that a college faculty cannot afford to pardon sooner than disorder. The reason is almost self-evident. There is nothing that ruins so effectually the general tone of the college and demoralizes all the students, good and bad. Vice moves in rather narrow circles–much more narrow than those in authority are apt to perceive. It does not affect the great body of students, who are filled with robust life, and whose very faults are conceits and extravagances rather than misdeeds. But disorder spreads from one to another: originating with the morally perverse, it gathers sufficient volume and momentum to overpower at times even the very best. To protect the better class of students, then, were there no other reason, the faculty is bound to interfere energetically and in season. Its position is not unlike that of the commander of a regiment. The colonel will not unfrequently wink at a certain amount of dissipation among the officers, and even among the privates. He may say to himself that the offence is one hard to prove, that perhaps it will wear itself out in time, that perhaps it is best not to draw the reigns too tightly. But no commanding officer can afford to tolerate for an instant the slightest movement of insubordination. He must put it down on the spot, without regard to consequences, and without stopping to inquire into abstract questions of right and wrong. No one, of course, will assert that the head of a college is to act according to the military code. The differences between soldier life and college life are fundamental. Yet there are certain resemblances which prompt and justify the wish that a touch at least of the military spirit might be infused into our colleges. The spirit, be it carefully observed, and not the forms, for the incompatibility between the military and the literary-scientific methods has been demonstrated repeatedly, the most recent evidence being furnished by those colleges that have attempted to combine, under the terms of the Congressional land-grant, agriculture, the mechanic arts, classical studies and military tactics. But a touch of the military spirit would be possible and beneficial in many ways. It would make the relationship between professor and student more tolerable for both parties. The mental drill and substantial information acquired through the college course are undoubtedly great. Still greater is the formative influence exercised by the body of students upon the individual member. But the greatest lesson of the course–and the one which seems to have escaped the otherwise close observation of President Porter–should be the lesson of deference to position and authority. This deference to one’s superiors in age and position, this respect due to the professor simply because he is a professor, and aside from any consideration of his personal character or attainments, should be the first thing to impress itself upon the student’s mind, the last to forsake it. For it is a high moral gain, a controlling principle that will stand the graduate in good stead through all the vicissitudes of after-life. Unless it be acquired we may say with propriety that the college course has fallen short of its highest aim. For the acquisition of this spirit of respect, military training is superior to civil. One officer salutes another, the private salutes his officer, simply because the person saluted is an officer. It may be that he is disagreeable or boorish in manners, or even notoriously incompetent. This matters not: so long as he wears the epaulettes he is entitled to an officer’s salute. Honor is shown, not to the transient owner of the title, but to the title itself.

The inculcation of a kindred spirit in all our colleges is devoutly to be wished. It exists already in some of the older ones, especially in the New England States, and in not a few of the very recently-established ones. But even where it does exist it has not full sway: it does not set, as it should set, the keynote to college life in all its variations. And in very many colleges it is unable to establish itself because of gross disorder. Should this opinion seem harsh and sweeping, the reader, if a student or a graduate, has only to recall to mind the instances that he himself must have observed of discontent and disorder growing out of trifling causes and culminating perhaps in a “class-strike.” Let him consider the waste of time, the ill-temper, the censorious, invidious spirit engendered by this fermentation, the loss of faith in the conduct, and even the honesty, of the faculty. Can he conceive of anything more likely to frustrate all the aims of college study? Yet in nine-tenths of the cases of public disorder it will be safe to assume that the dormitory system lies at the base of the evil. Where it does not occasion the grievance, it furnishes at least the machinery for carrying matters to a direct issue. Community of life suggests of itself community of action. The inmates of a dormitory acquire insensibly the habit of standing by one another. This is so evident that it needs no proof. But an illustration of the workings of the dormitory system and its opposite in one and the same place will not come amiss. When the Cornell University was founded, some of the trustees opposed the erection of dormitories. Others, assuming that the people of Ithaca, to whom a college was a novelty, could not or would not furnish sufficient accommodation, argued that dormitories were an absolute necessity. They carried the point: the Cascadilla was converted into a large boarding-house for both professors and students, and the greater part of South University was laid out in student-rooms. Both buildings were full. This state of affairs lasted during the first year and part of the second. Disturbances of various kinds were not infrequent; and although no one of them was very serious, yet in the aggregate they were a severe tax upon the faculty’s time and patience. But before the end of the second year many of the students discovered that life in town was more comfortable, and accordingly they gave up their university rooms. At the opening of the academic year 1870-1871 perhaps three-fourths, certainly two-thirds, were lodged in town. The change was significant. During the entire year, although individual students were disciplined for individual offences, the faculty was not once forced to punish public disorder. This phenomenon will appear still more remarkable when we consider that meanwhile the so-called “class-feeling” had sprung up, and that students admitted from other colleges had endeavored to introduce certain traditional practices. The year 1870-1871 was perhaps too good to be repeated. The next year witnessed at least one discouraging exhibition of student-manners, and since then there have been explosions from time to time. For all that, the general tone at Cornell is excellent. The transitory disturbances seem to leave behind them no abiding ill-will, and there is certainly less friction between faculty and students than at any like institution. Nowhere in this country is college life more free from petty annoyance, dislike and mistrust, and hereditary prejudices. It should be added, that those students who now reside in the university buildings belong almost exclusively to what is known as the working corps. They are type-setters in the printing-office, or are engaged upon the university farm, or in the workshops connected with the department of the mechanic arts. Their time is too valuable to them to be wasted. The experience of the Sheffield Scientific School resembles that of Cornell. In one respect it is even better. This school has never had a dormitory system. Its managers, imbued thoroughly with the German and French spirit of study, have resisted successfully from the outset every inducement to follow the usual college system. Although growing up in the shadow of one of the oldest colleges in the country, and exposed to formidable competition, and still more formidable criticism, the Sheffield Scientific has adhered strictly to its self-appointed mission. It has regarded instruction in science as its sole object. Whatever tended to this object has been adopted: everything else has been rejected as irrelevant. We are not concerned in this place with the general reputation of the Sheffield Scientific at home and abroad. Singling out only one of its many merits, we can point to it with pride as the first institution to solve effectually the knotty problem of discipline. The means of its success are anything but occult. It has made its pupils feel from the moment of entrance that they were young men, and must act as such. It has refused to encumber itself with expensive and useless dormitories, and the faculty has in the main left the students to themselves. But whenever interference became necessary, it has acted promptly, without undue haste or severity, and also without vacillation. Here, at least, we do not find the ruinous practice of suspending a student one week, only to take him back the next. The mere existence, then, of the Sheffield Scientific–to say nothing of its success–by the side of the powerful corporation of Yale College is fatal to every argument in favor of the dormitory system.

Most of our colleges are situated in small towns. To this circumstance, more than to any other, perhaps, is due the exclusiveness which, in its exaggerated manifestations, is so puzzling to the city visitor. Petty items of life and character, intrigues, quarrels and social jealousies have an importance which the world outside cannot understand. They affect the college more or less directly. The professor finds it doubly hard to exercise his vocation in a place where the details of his home life are known and exposed to comment. The student’s power for mischief is increased. He has only too much reason for believing that he is indispensable from the business point of view. Besides, as every one knows, close contact in narrow circles has a tendency to cramp the mind. Trifling annoyances, real or imaginary, are apt to rankle in the spirit unless they be brushed away by the quick, firm touch of the great world. _Kleinstaedtisches Leben_, despite its many advantages, fails to develop the burgher in every direction. It leaves him one-sided, if not exactly narrow-minded. Professor C.K. Adams, in his admirable essay upon “State Universities,”[1] has touched upon this point with reference to studies. His words should be carefully weighed: “If the best education consisted simply of making perfect recitations and keeping out of mischief, the smallest college would be incomparably the best college. But the best education is far more than that. Perhaps it is correct to say that it is an inspiration rather than an acquisition. It comes not simply from industry and steady habits, but far more largely from that kindling and glowing zeal which is best begotten by familiar contact with large libraries and museums and enthusiastic specialists…. It is the stir, the enthusiasm, the