|European Letters, by T.W. Patton to
The Asheville Citizen:
Description of the Tour of the North Carolina Teachers, During the Summer of 1889
HOME AGAIN. [pages 65-68]
|*Note: Copy has been re-formatted. Original two column format has been abandoned and special fonts have been standardized.|
London, September 3, 1889.
Dear Citizen:—Once more in the metropolis, to find it as muddy and dingy and crowded and disagreeable as it was one month ago. Yet there is hope for it, because the horrid Strand is blockaded by workmen laying mains for electric lighting, which, it is to be hoped, will banish the multitude who "prefer darkness rather than light." No better step can be taken towards stopping the beastly immorality of this city than a free introduction of electricity.
On yesterday we jolted along at a rapid rate over the roughest road we ever traversed from Paris to Dieppe, and there took a very inferior steamboat for England. To give you an idea of the notions that these people have of accommodating travelers, one of our ladies being fatigued we asked for a stateroom, that she might lie down for the three hours we were on the Channel. "Oh, yes; you can have it. The charge will be thirty shillings." Great heavens! Seven dollars and a half for a stateroom for three hours!
Although provided with first-class tickets we scarcely found chairs or benches to sit comfortably, and were glad when the chalk bluffs appeared and we could part company with the seasick strangers with whom we had been pent up.
A most happy coincidence occurred as we were leaving Paris. The long train was almost filled, and as we were late we anxiously sought a compartment, when we heard our name called, and behold, five splendid North Carolinians were ready to grasp hands and take us into their carriage. This party consisted of three gentlemen and two ladies, the Messrs. Wood and sisters, of Edenton. We had last met as members of the happy company sailing across the sound from Edenton to Avoca, and you may be sure this meeting was appreciated by us. How earnestly each inquired for the latest news from the dear old State, which happily was all good, and compared notes of experiences in Europe. We concluded that they had not had as fine a time as we, but they will stay longer and be able to visit the Highlands of Scotland, which we so wish to do if we only had the time.
One of the great places of rendezvous for Americans in London is the office of Brown, Shipley & Co. Their letters of credit are universally used, and they have proven exceedingly polite and accommodating. This morning, among scores of States folk there, we met Mr. Frank S. Coxe, who is preparing to sail on the 7th, a day later than we, but by a faster steamer, so that he will be again at Battery Park [Hotel] by the date of our arrival in New York. .
No doubt you are glad to think that this will probably be the last of our European letters, and as we may not have a chance to bore you again for a fortnight, we will inflict a little moralizing, which the discomforts of London always have a tendency to develop.
We have endeavored to compare the United States with the European countries that we have been so fortunate as to visit, and the result is to make us more and more satisfied with our own, and thankful that our destiny is to live and die a citizen of America. In many respects we are even now ahead, not only in the comforts but the decencies of life. To have gained this pre-eminence in the short space of one century, to compete with these nations of boundless wealth and the experiences of many hundreds of years, can be accounted for in no other way than by the superiority of our form of government, and it surely behooves every man true to his nation to guard this safely from every threatened contamination. No unprejudiced man can deny ...
... the great advantages we enjoy over any monarchical government, while the two republics of Europe, Switzerland and France; the first is oppressed by the necessity of protecting itself from encroachment of its more powerful neighbors and the latter is so imbued with the spirit of royalty that we must think its existence will be limited.
Take time to read Dr. Strong's book, descriptive of our land, and you must be convinced, as we are, that it is destined to stand at the head of the list of nations and that, too, ere the lapse of many more years. What can prevent this? Only two things can do so: the excessive introduction of foreign peoples and the muzzling of the press.
The first of these dangers may be checked by an educational qualification to the right of suffrage. Let no man white or black, foreign or native, who hereafter becomes of age, or lands in America be permitted to vote until he can read easily and readily the English language. If this were done, the press might hope to educate the voters in the science of seH-government, provided, it can itself be kept free from restriction and dictation of demagogues and party bosses. This^is a consummation devoutly to be wished, but probably never to be perfectly attained. The necessity for two parties is manifest, and while an evil, is an unavoidable one; but if our newspapers will only speak out boldly, and keep the voters informed in sincerity and truth of the good or evil doing of either party, the people can be trusted to protect themselves by sooner or later "turning the rascals out."
Let the citizen set the example of independent fairness, and boldness in discussing every public matter, and every public man, and then if it dies, as its enemies predict, it will at least have the consolation of having lived an honest advocate of the people's interests.
The difference between English and American newspa pers, we saw exemplified this morning. Seeing a crowd collected at a window, we squeezed in to hear a hopeful with e^veglass screwed into one eye, exclaim, "ah! it's blaasted funny, you know," and anxious to see any fun, we gazed anxionsl^v at the last issue of Moonshine an illustrated comic (?) paper.
Well, we concluded, if one of these jokes or cartoons should appear in Puck or Judge they would go into mourning for the rest of their lives. Absolutely devoid of all point, flat, tasteless, stale, afraid to represent the misdoings of the grandees, or the miseries of the poor wretches who are their subjects, and this is their idea of fun, and of what a paper ought to be.
We believe that Puck and Judge are powerful influences for good. Each ably edited, each fearlessly bringing to view and to ridicule the shortcomings of the opposite party. Long may they both live and continue their good work ; and may their example be followed, and the destiny of America assured, and grander than ever the most confident of her children at this day can imagine.
great banks of newfoundland,
Dear Citizen: — Some one suggests that our depleted exchequer may be replenished at this financial institution, but we scorn the suggested necessity, and rather rejoice in being once more in American waters, looking forward with good hope of reaching our native shores on Tuesday next, and as we may be delayed by officious custom house officers will have this ready for speedy mailing, to give you an account of our voyage, which has been full of incident.
Our last told you of our visit to Belfast and to Lome, from which latter place we sailed on Saturday night, the 7th inst., and regretted that darkness should shut out the lovely coasts of Ireland and Scotland. We passed Inistrahull, the last point of land, about midnight, and on awaking early Sunday morning could see nothing but rolling waves on all sides.
A head wind made our good ship pitch severely, and most of her passengers groan sadly with seasickness. As usual we are exempt and can only pity the sufferings that we know nothing of from experience. Very few respond to meal bells, of which favored few we always make one.
The State of Nebraska is far more comfortable in all respects than the Nevada— more roomy, far cleaner, nice deck, and eating tolerable, which on the other was not endurable. Passengers who have ...
crossed by other lines say that this is as good as any, which surprises us much. Everything is better, with one possible exception—how much we miss our former fellow passengers. What would we not give for an hour's chat with pleasant Mrs. Yon Bulow and a lesson from kind Mrs. Brodnax; an opportunity to compare notes with our dear young ladies and to soothe their aching heads to the best of our poor ability. Above all, how on this Sunday we miss our own dear Dr. Marshall and the sweet service he would give us. Never have we so realized the want of a ritual as on this Sunday. Four persons undertake to have prayers. The first prays for the captain, each officer, the engineer and stokers and stewards (fortunately these are not the rude rascals of the Nevada), all the cabin passengers, and then turned us over to the second brother, who repeated all the first had said and luckily managed to get in "the steerage'' as a happy afterthought: otherwise the Almighty might have forgotten more than half of His children on this ship. The third brother then tried his hand, and complimented the other two with a prayer "for every one now on this floating palnce" (heaven save the mark), while the fourth had so little originality as to suggest that he only wanted what the other three had already told the Almighty that He ought to do. How we did wish for good Dr. Cameron Leeds and his earnest Presbyterian prayers out of a book and his few plain, common sense words to strengthen our minds and refresh our souls.
On Sunday night we were roused by the screams of a woman, and learned that her husband had suddenly died of heart disease, leaving her a widow with three little children. So it followed that on Monday afternoon we participated in that most impressive ceremony, a burial at sea. At 4 o'clock we assemble on deck, heads uncovered and eyes moist with sympathy ; the puffing engine is silent while the captain reads the committal service of the Church of England, and the body of "our brother" is covered with the mantle of waters, and quickly sinks to its long home, there to rest in hopes of the resurrection morn, when "the earth and the sea shall give up their dead."
Monday evening was to all appearance calm and peaceful, but an old tar warned us to look out for a squall. And true enough, at midnight our ship did roll most terribly, and not accustomed to sleep standing on our head we abandon the effort and listen to the howling gale and the scurrying footsteps along the deck, which should have been above us but was in fact at our side. As soon as possible we clambered forth and peeped out. What a sight greeted our eyes. The sails torn to rags and flapping frantically ; the sailors struggling bravely against difficulties that seem insurmountable; the wind fairly howling, the rain driving most furiously. But above all, the sea—oh, the marvelous, angry sea! How it had altered its countenance in a few short hours! From a peaceful blue it had become a furious green, dark .almost to blackness, while streaks of white belter! the mighty waves as far as the eye could reach. It seemed some savage, tigerish [sic] animal, seeking to devour its prey. How small we seemed a« we clung to the door and saw the gunwale sink under the water time and time again. Within, what tremendous crashes of crockery and lamps, and of trunks sliding and falling about. Our ladies were calm and collected, and if they felt scared certainly concealed it, and we tried to follow their example; but it was indeed a long day, although we tried to shorten it by pretended appetite for meals. The plates and dishes would crash to the floor as fast as placed on the table, and only by holding one in hand and being helped by the struggling stewards could we keep up the pretense. We have long wished to see a storm at sea ; now we are quite satisfied. Our captain bravely held his post on the bridge, and guided by the Captain of our salvation, managed his ship so as to weather the gale, but the cargo is so shifted that the deck has not resumed its level, but cants uncomfortably to one side. At night the moon and stars shone forth, and all was at peace once more.
Among the passengers we are glad to meet Mr. Fred N. Thayer, the father of our kind friend Mrs. C. A. Moore, who is returning after escorting his wife and daughters to Europe.
Our adventures are not yet over and a rapidly falling temperature warns the captain of the proximity of a dangerous ...
... neighbor, an iceberg, long before it is visible, but at length it comes into view, and a beautiful sight it was; a hill of pure white ice, with irregular jagged top, some two hundred feet high above the water, and some five hundred feet square in surface, at least so we judge it to be, as we sail past, at a distance oftwo miles, and very glad indeed we are to have gone beyond its chilling influence, and to bask as we are doing to-da)>- in the warm sun that reminds us of our dear balmy Southern home, which we hope soon to see once more.
near sandy hook,
Tuesday, September 17.
For the past few days our voyage has indeed been most charming, everybody well and happy, the sea as smooth as a ond, the sun beaming down upon us, as all lounge carelessly along the decks, which are kept so clean, that those who wish may stretch their lazy limbs and sprawl at length.
The listing of the cargo has been remedied, and the Nebraska dashes along on an even keel, and rejoices our homesick heart each noon, with a record of more than three hundred miles.
The awful bugbear of an American custom house officer now looms up to our anticipations. We cannot judge how long his meddlesomeness may detain us; but hope not long, and that noon will find us comfortably bathing away the grimes of sea life, and you made happy by a telegram of our safety. Our pilot has brought New York papers, informing us of the terrible storm along the coast, which we fear made you very uneasy.