Obrázky stránek

made with one Augustus Sacchi for a thousand Canadian horses. It turned out that Sacchi was “nobody: a man of straw living in a garret in New York whom nobody knew, a man who was brought out there”—to St. Louis" as a good person through whom to work." "It will hardly be believed," says the report, " that the name of this same man Sacchi appears in the newspapers as being on the staff of General Fremont, at Springfield, with the rank of captain.”

I do not know that any good would result from my pursuing further the details of this wonderful report. The remaining portion of it refers solely to the command held by General Fremont in Missouri, and adds proof upon proof of the gross robberies inflicted upon the government of the States by the very persons set in high authority to protect the government. We learn how all utensils for the camp, kettles, blankets, shoes, mess-pans, &c., were supplied by one firm, without a contract, at an enormous price, and of a quality so bad as to be almost useless, because the Quartermaster was under obligations to the partners. We learn that one partner in that firm gave 40l. towards a service of plate for the Quartermaster, and 60l. towards a carriage for Mrs. Fremont. We learn how futile were the efforts of any honest tradesman to supply good shoes to soldiers who were shoeless, and the history of one special pair of shoes which was thrust under the nose of the Quartermaster is very amusing. We learn that a certain paymaster properly refused to settle an account for matters with which he had no concern, and that General Fremont at once sent down soldiers to arrest him unless he made the illegal payment. In October 10001. was expended in ice, all which ice was wasted. Regiments were sent hither and thither with no military purpose, merely because certain officers, calling themselves generals, desired to make up brigades for themselves. Indeed every description of fraud was perpetrated, and this was done not through the negligence of those in high command, but by their connivance and often with their express authority.

It will be said that the conduct of General Fremont during the days of his command in Missouri is not a matter of much moment to us in England; that it has been properly handled by the Committee of Representatives appointed by the American Congress to inquire into the matter; and that after the publication of such a report by them, it is ungenerous in a writer from another nation to speak upon the subject. This would be so if the inquiries made by that Committee and their report had resulted in any general condemnation of the men


whose misdeeds and peculations have been exposed. This, however, is by no means the case. Those who were heretofore opposed to General Fremont on political. principles are opposed to him still; but those who heretofore supported him are ready to support him again.* He has not been placed beyond the pale of public favour by the record which has been made of his public misdeeds. He is decried by the democrats because he is a republican, and by the anti-abolitionists because he is an abolitionist; but he is not decried because he has shown himself to be dishonest in the service of his government. He was dismissed from his command in the West, but men on his side of the question declare that he was so dismissed because his political opponents had prevailed. Now, at the moment that I am writing this, men are saying that the President must give him another command. He is still a major-general in the army of the State, and is as probable a candidate as any other that I could name for the next Presidency.

The same argument must be used with reference to the other gentlemen named. Mr. Welles is still a Cabinet Minister and Secretary for the Navy. It has been found impossible to keep Mr. Cameron in the Cabinet, but he was named as the Minister of the States' government to Russia after the publication of the Van Wyck report, when the result of his old political friendship with Mr. Alexander Cummings was well known to the President who appointed him and to the Senate who sanctioned his appointment. The individual corruption of any one manof any ten men-is not much. It should not be insisted on loudly by any foreigner in making up a balance-sheet of the virtues and vices of the good and bad qualities of any nation. But the light in which such corruption is viewed by the people whom it most nearly concerns is very much. I am far from saying that democracy has failed in America. Democracy there has done great things for a numerous people, and will yet, as I think, be successful. But that doctrine as to the necessity of smartness must be eschewed before a verdict in favour of American democracy can be pronounced. “It behoves a man to be smart, sir.” In those words are contained the

* Since this was written General Fremont has been restored to high military command, and now holds equal rank and equal authority with Maclellan and Halleck. In fact, the charges made against him by the Committee of the House of Representatives have not been allowed to stand in his way. He is politically popular with a large section of the nation, and therefore it has been thought well to promote him to high place. Whether he be fit for such place, either as regards capability or integrity, seems to be considered of no


curse under which the States' government has been suffering for the last thirty years. Let us hope that the people will find a mode of ridding themselves of that curse. I, for one,

believe that they will do so.



FROM Louisville we returned to Cincinnati, in making which journey we were taken to a place called Seymour in Indiana, at which spot we were to “make connection” with the train running on the Mississippi and Ohio line from St. Louis to Cincinnati. We did make the connection, but were called upon to remain four hours at Seymour in consequence of some accident on the line. In the same way, when going eastwards from Cincinnati to Baltimore a few days later, I was detained another four hours at a place called Crossline, in Ohio. On both occasions I spent my time in realizing, as far as that might be possible, the sort of life which men lead who settle themselves at such localities. Both these towns,—for they call themselves towns,-had been created by the railways. Indeed this has been the case with almost every place at which a few hundred inhabitants have been drawn together in the Western States. With the exception of such cities as Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, settlers can hardly be said to have chosen their own localities. These have been chosen for them by the originators of the different lines of railway. And there is nothing in Europe in any way like to these western railway settlements. In the first place the line of the rails runs through the main street of the town, and forms not unfrequently the only road. At Seymour I could find no way of getting away from the rails unless I went into the fields. At Crossline, which is a larger place, I did find a street in which there was no railroad, but it was deserted, and manifestly out of favour with the inhabitants. As there were railway junctions at both these posts, there were of course cross-streets, and the houses extended themselves from the centre thus made along the lines, houses being added to houses at short intervals as new comers settled themselves down. The panting and groaning, and whistling of engines is continual; for at such places freight trains are always kept waiting for passenger trains, and the slower freight trains for those which are called fast. This is the life of the town; and indeed as the whole place is dependent on the railway, so is the railway held in favour and beloved. The noise of the engines is not disliked, nor are its puffings and groanings held to be unmusical. With us a locomotive steam-engine is still, as it were, a beast of prey, against which one has to be on one's guard, --in respect to which one specially warns the children. But there, in the Western States, it has been taken to the bosoms of them all as a domestic animal; no one fears it, and the little children run about almost among its wheels. It is petted and made much of on all sides, and, as far as I know, it seldom bites or tears. I have not heard of children being destroyed wholesale in the streets, or of drunken men becoming frequent sacrifices. But had I been consulted beforehand as to the natural effects of such an arrangement, I should have said that no child could have been reared in such a town, and that any continuance of population under such circumstances must have been impracticable.

Such places, however, do thrive and prosper with a prosperity especially their own, and the boys and girls increase and multiply in spite of all dangers. With us in England, it is difficult to realize the importance which is attached to a railway in the States, and the results which a railway creates. We have roads everywhere, and our country had been cultivated throughout, with more or less care, before our system of railways had been commenced; but in America, especially in the North, the railways have been the precursors of cultivation. They have been carried hither and thither, through primeval forests and over prairies, with small hope of other traffic than that which they themselves would make .by their own influences. The people settling on their edges have had the very best of all roads at their service; but they have had no other roads. The face of the country between one settlement and another is still in many cases utterly unknown; but there is the connecting road by which produce is carried away, and new comers are brought in. The town that is distant a hundred miles by the rail is so near that its inhabitants are neighbours; but a settlement twenty miles distant across the uncleared country is unknown, unvisited, and probably unheard of by the women and children. Under such circumstances the railway is everything. It is the first necessity of life, and gives the only hope of wealth. It is the backbone of existence from whence spring, and by which are protected, all the vital organs and functions

of the community: It is the right arm of civilization for the people, and the discoverer of the fertility of the land. It is all in all to those people, and to those regions. It



has supplied the wants of frontier life with all the substantial comfort of the cities, and carried education, progress, and social habits into the wilderness. To the eye of the stranger such places as Seymour and Crossline are desolate and dreary. There is nothing of beauty in them, given either by nature or by art. The railway itself is ugly, and its numerous sidings and branches form a mass of iron road which is bewildering, and, according to my ideas, in itself disagreeable. The wooden houses


upon the line, and have no gardens to relieve them. ` A foreigner, when first surveying such a spot, will certainly record within himself a verdict against it; but in do

a ing so he probably commits the error of judging it by a wrong standard. He should compare it with the new settlements which men have opened up in spots where no railway has assisted them, and not with old towns in which wealth has long been congregated. The traveller may see what is the place with the railway; then let him consider how it might have thriven without the railway.

I confess that I became tired of my sojourn at both the places I have named. At each I think that I saw every house in the place, although my visit to Seymour was made in the night; and at both I was lamentably at a loss for something to do. At Crossline I was all alone, and began to feel that the hours which I knew must pass before the missing train could come, would never make away with themselves. There were many others stationed there as I was, but to them had been given a capability for loafing which niggardly Nature has denied to me. An American has the power of seating himself in the close vicinity of a hot stove and feeding in silence on his own thoughts by the hour together. It may be that he will smoke; but after a while his cigar will come to an end. He sits on, however, certainly patient, and apparently contented. It

may be that he chews, but if so, he does it with motionless jaws, and so slow a mastication of the pabulum on which he feeds, that his employment in this respect only disturbs the absolute quiet of the circle when, at certain long, distant intervals, he deposits the secretion of his tobacco in an ornamental utensil which may probably be placed in the furthest corner of the hall. But during all this time he is happy. It does not fret him to sit there and think and do nothing. He is by no means an idle man,-probably one much given to commercial enterprise. Idle men out there in the West we may say there

How should any idle man live in such a country? All who were sitting hour after hour in that circle round the

are none.

« PředchozíPokračovat »