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FROM NIAGARA TO THE MISSISSIPPI. FROM Niagara we went by the Canada Great Western Railway to Detroit, the big city of Michigan. It is an American institution that the States should have a commercial capital, or what I call their big city, as well as a political capital, which may as a rule be called the State's central city. The object in choosing the political capital is average nearness of approach from the various confines of the State; but commerce submits to no such Procrustean laws in selecting her capitals, and consequently she has placed Detroit on the borders of Michigan, on the shore of the neck of water which joins Lake Huron to Lake Erie, through which all the trade must flow which comes down from Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron, on its way to the Eastern States and to Europe. We had thought of going from Buffalo across Lake Erie to Detroit; but we found that the better class of steamers had been taken off the waters for the winter. And we also found that navigation among these lakes is a mistake whenever the necessary journey can be taken by railway. Their waters are by no means smooth; and then there is nothing to be seen. I do not know whether others may have a feeling, almost instinctive, that lake navigation must be pleasant,—that lakes must of necessity be beautiful. I have such a feeling; but not now so strong as formerly. Such an idea should be kept for use in Europe, and never brought over to America with other travelling gear. The lakes in America are cold, cumbrous, uncouth, and uninteresting; intended by nature for the conveyance of cereal produce, but not for the comfort of travelling men and women. So we gave up our plan of traversing the lake, and passing back into Canada by the suspension bridge at Niagara, we reached the Detroit river at Windsor by the Great Western line, and passed thence by the ferry into the city of Detroit.
In making this journey at night we introduced ourselves to the thoroughly American institution of sleeping-cars;—that is, of cars in which beds are made up for travellers. The traveller may have a whole bed, or half a bed, or no bed at all as he pleases, paying a dollar or half a dollar extra should he choose the partial or full fruition of a couch. I confess I have always taken a delight in seeing these beds made up, and consider that the operations of the change are generally as well executed
as the manœuvres of any pantomime at Drury Lane. The work is usually done by negroes or coloured men; and the domestic negroes of America are always light-handed and adroit. The nature of an American car is no doubt known to all men. looks as far removed from all bedroom accommodation, as the baker's barrow does from the steam-engine into which it is to be converted by harlequin's wand. But the negro goes to
. work much more quietly than the harlequin, and for every four seats in the railway car he builds up four beds, almost as quickly as the hero of the pantomime goes through his performance. The great glory of the Americans is in their wondrous contrivances,-in their patent remedies for the usually troublous operations of life. In their huge hotels all the beliropes of each house ring on one bell only, but a patent indicator discloses a number, and the whereabouts of the ringer is shown. One fire heats every room, passage, hall, and cupboard,-and does it so effectually that the inhabitants are all but stifled. Soda-water bottles open themselves without any trouble of wire or strings. Men and women go up and down stairs without motive power of their own. Hot and cold water are laid on to all the chambers;—though it sometimes happens that the water from both taps is boiling, and that when once turned on it cannot be turned off again by any human energy. Everything is done by a new and wonderful patent contrivauce; and of all their wonderful contrivances that of their railroad beds is by no means the least. For every four seats the negro builds up four beds,—that is, four half-beds or accommodation for four persons. Two are supposed to be below on the level of the ordinary four seats, and two up above on shelves which are let down from the roof. Mattresses slip out from one nook and pillows from another. Blankets are added, and the bed is ready. Any over particular individual
an islander, for instance, who hugs his chains—will generally prefer to pay the dollar for the double accommodation. Looking at the bed in the light of a bed, -taking as it were an abstract view of it,ếor comparing it with some other bed or beds with which the occupant may have acquaintance, I cannot say that it is in all respects perfect. But distances are long in America; and he who declines to travel by night will lose very much time. He who does so travel will find the railway bed a great relief. I must confess that the feeling of dirt on the following morning is rather oppressive.
From Windsor on the Canada side we passed over to Detroit in the State of Michigan by a steam ferry. But ferries in En
gland and ferries in America are very different. Here on this Detroit ferry, some hundred of passengers who were going forward from the other side without delay, at once sat down to breakfast. I may as well explain the way in which disposition is made of one's luggage as one takes these long journeys. The traveller when he starts has his baggage checked. He abandons his trunk-generally a box studded with nails, as long as a coffin and as high as a linen chest,--and in return for this he receives an iron ticket with a number on it. As he approaches the end of his first instalment of travel, and while the engine is still working its hardest, a man comes up to him, bearing with him suspended on a circular bar an infinite variety of other checks. The traveller confides to this man his wishes; and if he be going further without delay, surrenders his check and receives a counter-check in return. Then while the train is still in motion, the new destiny of the trunk is imparted to it. But another man, with another set of checks, also comes the way, walking leisurely through the train as he performs his work. This is the minister of the hotel-omnibus institution. His business is with those who do not travel beyond the next terminus. To him, if such be your intention, you make your confidence, giving up your tallies and taking other tallies, by way of receipt; and your luggage is afterwards found by you in the hall of your hotel. There is undoubtedly very much of comfort in this; and the mind of the traveller is lost in amazement as he thinks of the futile efforts with which he would struggle to regain his luggage were there no such arrangement. Enormous piles of boxes are disclosed on the platform at all the larger stations, the numbers of which are roared forth with quick voice by some two or three railway denizens at once. A modest English voyager with six or seven small packages, would stand no chance of getting anything if he were left to his own devices. As it is I am bound to say that the thing is well done. I have had my desk with all my money in it lost for a day, and black leather bag was on one occasion sent back over the line. They, however, were recovered; and on the whole I feel grateful to the check system of the American railways. And then, too, one never hears of extra luggage. Of weight they are quite regardless. On two or three occasions an overwrought official has muttered between his teeth that ten packages were a great many, and that some of those “light fixings” might have been made
into one. And when I came to understand that the number of every check was entered in a book, and re-entered at every change, I did whisper to my wife that she ought
to do without a bonnet-box. The ten, however, went on, and were always duly protected. I must add, however, that articles requiring tender treatment will sometimes reappear a little the worse from the hardships of their journey:
I have not much to say of Detroit; not much, that is, beyond what I have to say of all the North. It is a large well-built half-finished city, lying on a convenient water way, and spreading itself out with promises of a wide and still wider prosperity. It has about it perhaps as little of intrinsic interest as any of those large western towns which I visited. It is not so pleasant as Milwaukee, nor so picturesque as St. Paul, nor so grand as Chicago, nor so civilized as Cleveland, nor so busy as Buffalo. Indeed Detroit is neither pleasant nor picturesque at all. I will not say that it is uncivilized, but it has a harsh, crude, unprepossessing appearance. It has some 70,000 inhabitants, and good accommodation for shipping. It was doing an enormous business before the war began, and when these troublous times are over will no doubt again go ahead. I do not, however, think it well to recommend any Englishman to make a special visit to Detroit, who may be wholly uncommercial in his views and travel in search of that which is either beautiful or interesting.
From Detroit we continued our course westward across the State of Michigan through a country that was absolutely wild till the railway pierced it. Very much of it is still absolutely wild. For miles upon miles the road passes the untouched forest, showing that even in Michigan the great work of civilization has hardly more than been commenced. As one thinks of the all but countless population which is before long to be fed from these regions, of the cities which will grow here, and of the amount of government which in due time will be required, one can hardly fail to feel that the division of the United States into separate nationalities is merely a part of the ordained work of creation, as arranged for the well-being of mankind. The States already boast of thirty millions of inhabitants,—not of unnoticed and unnoticeable beings, requiring little, knowing little, and doing little, such as are the Eastern hordes which may be counted by tens of millions; but of men and women who talk loudly and are ambitious, who eat beef, who read and write, and understand the dignity of manhood. But these thirty millions are as nothing to the crowds which will grow sleek and talk loudly, and become aggressive on these wheat and meat producing levels. The country is as yet but touched by the pioneering hand of population. In the old countries agriculture, following on the heels of pastoral patriarchal life, preceded the birth of cities. But in this young world the cities have come first. The new Jasons, blessed with the experience of the old world adventurers, have gone forth in search of their golden fleeces armed with all that the science and skill of the East had as yet produced, and in setting up their new Colcbis have begun by the erection of first-class hotels and the fabrication of railroads. Let the old world bid them God speed in their work. Only it would be well if they could be brought to acknowledge from whence they have learned all that they know.
Our route lay right across the State to a place called Grand Haven on Lake Michigan, from whence we were to take boat for Milwaukee, a town in Wisconsin on the opposite or western shore of the lake. Michigan is sometimes called the Peninsular State from the fact that the main part of its territory is surrounded by Lakes Michigan and Huron, by the little Lake St. Clair, and by Lake Erie. It juts out to the northward from the main land of Indiana and Ohio, and is circumnavigable on the east, north, and west. These particulars refer, however, to part of the State only, for a portion of it lies on the other side of Lake Michigan, between that and Lake Superior. I doubt whether any large inland territory in the world is blessed with such facilities of water carriage.
On arriving at Grand Haven we found that there had been a storm on the lake, and that the passengers from the trains of the preceding day were still remaining there, waiting to be carried over to Milwaukee. The water, however,—or the sea as they all call it, --was still very high, and the captain declared his intention of remaining there that night. Whereupon all our fellow-travellers huddled themselves into the great lake steamboat, and proceeded to carry on life there as though they were quite at home. The men took themselves to the bar-room and smoked cigars and talked about the war with their feet upon the counter, and the women got themselves into rocking-chairs in the saloon and sat there listless and silent, but not more listless and silent than they usually are in the big drawing-rooms of the big hotels. There was supper there, precisely at six o'clock, beefsteaks, and tea, and apple jam, and hot cakes, and light fixings, to all which luxuries an American deems himself entitled, let him have to seek his meal where he may. And I was soon informed with considerable energy, that let the boat be kept there as long as it might by stress of weather, the beefsteaks and apple jam, light fixings and heavy fixings, must be