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Title: My Life in Many States and in Foreign Lands, Dictated in My Seventy-Fourth Year

Author: George Francis Train

Release date: December 10, 2011 [eBook #38265]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Julia Miller, Pat McCoy, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (



E-text prepared by Julia Miller, Pat McCoy,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See




[Pg i]

George Francis Train

George Francis Train. From a recent photograph.

[Pg ii]

My Life in Many States
and in Foreign Lands






[Pg iii]

Copyright, 1902


Published November, 1902

[Pg iv]


[Pg vi]


[Pg vii]


I have been silent for thirty years. During that long period I have taken little part in the public life of the world, have written nothing beyond occasional letters and newspaper articles, and have conversed with few persons, except children in parks and streets. I have found children always sympathetic and appreciative. For this reason I have readily entered into their play and their more serious moods; and for this reason, also, have dedicated this book to them and to their children.

For many years I have been a silent recluse, remote from the world in my little corner in the Mills Hotel, thinking and waiting patiently. That I break this silence now, after so many years, is due to the suggestion of a friend who has told me that the world of to-day, as well as the world of to-morrow, will be interested in reading my story. I am assured that many of the things I have accomplished will endure as a memorial of me, and that I ought to give some account of them and of myself.[Pg viii]

And so I have tried to compress a story of my life into this book. With modesty, I may say that the whole story could not be told in a single volume. I have tried not to be prolix, keeping in mind while preparing this record of events, "all of which I saw, and part of which I was," that there is a limit to the patience of readers.

I beg my readers to remember that this book was spoken, not written, by me. It is my own life-story that I have related. It may not, in every part, agree with the recollections of others; but I am sure that it is as accurate in statement as it is blameless in purpose. If I should fail at any point, this will be due to some wavering of memory, and not to intention. Thanks to my early Methodist training, I have never knowingly told a lie; and I shall not begin at this time of life.

While I may undertake other volumes that will present another side of me—my views and opinions of men and things—that which stands here recorded is the story of my life. It has been dictated in the mornings of July and August of the past summer, one or two hours being given to it during two or three days of each week. Altogether, the time consumed in the dictation makes a total of thirty-five hours. Before I began the dictation, I wrote out hastily a brief sketch, or mere epitome, of my history, so that I might have before my mind a guide that would prevent me from wandering too[Pg ix] far afield or that might save me from tediousness. I give it here, as a foretaste of the book. I have called it "My Autobiography boiled down—400 Pages in 200 Words."

"Born 3-24-'29. Orphaned New Orleans, '33. (Father, mother, and three sisters—yellow fever.) Came North alone, four years old, to grandmother, Waltham, Mass. Supported self since babyhood. Farmer till 14. Grocer-boy, Cambridgeport, two years. Shipping-clerk, 16. Manager, 18. Partner, Train & Co., 20 (income, $10,000). Boston, 22 ($15,000).

"Established G. F. T. & Co., Melbourne, Australia, '53. Agent, Barings, Duncan & Sherman, White Star Line (income, $95,000). Started 40 clippers to California, '49. Flying Cloud, Sovereign of the Seas, Staffordshire. Built A. & G. W. R. R., connecting Erie with Ohio and Mississippi, 400 miles.

"Pioneered first street-railway, Europe, America, Australia. (England: Birkenhead, Darlington, Staffordshire, London, '60.) Built first Pacific Railway (U. P.), '62-'69, through first Trust, Crédit Mobilier. Owned five thousand lots, Omaha, worth $30,000,000. (Been in fifteen jails without a crime.)

"Train Villa, built at Newport, '68. Daughter's house, 156 Madison Avenue, '60. Organized French Commune, Marseilles, Ligue du Midi, October, '70, while on return trip around the world in[Pg x] eighty days. Jules Verne, two years later, wrote fiction of my fact.

"Made independent race for Presidency against Grant and Greeley, '71-72. Cornered lawyers, doctors, clericals, by quoting three columns of Bible to release Woodhull-Claflin from jail, '72. Now lunatic by law, through six courts.

"Now living in Mills Palace, $3 against $2,000 a week, at Train Villa. (Daughter always has room for me in country.) Played Carnegie forty years ahead. Three generations living off Crédit Mobilier. Author dozen books out of print (vide Who's Who, Allibone, Appletons' Cyclopædia).

"Four times around the world. First, two years. Second, eighty days, '70. Third, sixty-seven and a half days, '90. Fourth, sixty days, shortest record, '92. Through psychic telepathy, am doubling age. Seventy-four years young."

It may be a matter of surprise to some readers that I should have accomplished so much at the early age when so many of my most important enterprises were accomplished. It should be remembered, however, that I began young. I was a mature man at an age when most boys are still tied to their mothers' apron strings. I had to begin to take care of myself in very tender years. I suppose my experiences in New Orleans, on the old farm in Massachusetts, in the grocery store in Boston, and in the shipping house of Enoch Train and Company, matured and hardened[Pg xi] me before my time. I was never much of a boy. I seem to have missed that portion of my youth. I was obliged to look out for myself very early, and was soon fighting hard in the fierce battle of competition, where the weak are so often lost.

It may be worth while to present here some important evidence of the confidence that was reposed in me by experienced men, when, as a mere youth, I was undertaking vast enterprises that might have made older men hesitate. When I was about to leave Boston in '53 for business in Australia, and organized the house of Caldwell, Train and Company, I was authorized by the following well-established houses of this and other countries to use them as references, and did so on our firm circulars: John M. Forbes, John E. Thayer and Brother, George B. Upton, Enoch Train and Company, Sampson and Tappan, and Josiah Bradlee and Company, of Boston; Cary and Company, Goodhue and Company, Josiah Macy and Sons, Grinnell, Minturn and Company, and Charles H. Marshall and Company, of New York; H. and A. Cope and Company, of Philadelphia; Birckhead and Pearce, of Baltimore; J. P. Whitney and Company, of New Orleans; Flint, Peabody and Company, and Macondray and Company, of San Francisco; George A. Hopley and Company, of Charleston; Archibald Gracie, of Mobile; and the following foreign houses: Bowman, Grinnell and Company, and Charles Hum[Pg xii]berston, of Liverpool; Russell and Company and Augustine Heard and Company, of Canton.

These were among the best known commercial houses in the world at that time. Any business man, familiar with the commercial history of the modern world, should consider this list fair enough evidence of the confidence I enjoyed among men of affairs. Let me reproduce here—partly as evidence along the same line, and partly because of the value I attach to it on personal and friendly grounds—the following letter from Mr. D. O. Mills:

"New York, September 30, 1901.

"Hon. George Francis Train,

"Mills Hotel, Bleecker St., New York.

"My Dear Citizen:

"The many appreciative notices that have come to my attention of your distinguished talents of early years lead me also to send you a line of appreciation, particularly as touching the part played by you in some of the great commercial enterprises that have so signally marked the nineteenth century, notably in the Merchant Marine, and in the building of the Union Pacific Railroad, in the conception and construction of which you bore so distinguished a part.

"The present generation, with its conveniences of travel and communication, can not realize what were the difficulties and experiences of the merchant and traveler of those early days when you[Pg xiii] were engaged in the China trade, and your Clipper Ships were often seen in the port of San Francisco.

"The long voyage around the Horn, the danger experienced from sudden attack by Indians while traversing the wild and uninhabited country lying between Omaha and the Pacific Coast, are experiences which even an old voyager like myself questions as he speeds across the continent, privileged to enjoy the comforts of a Pullman car, and a railroad service that has shortened the journey from New York to San Francisco from months to a few days. In recalling the many years of our pleasant acquaintance by sea and land, not the least is the remembrance of your kind and genial spirit, and I am glad to see that you have lost none of your sincere wish to do good.

"With kind regards.
"Very truly yours,
"D. O. Mills."

Mr. Mills has known me in many walks of life. We have at times walked side by side. At others, oceans have roared between us. He is my friend, and I was glad to receive this kindly word from him, after many long years of acquaintance.

Although I am a hermit now, I was not always so. All who read this book must see that. I spent many happy years in society—and never an unhappy year anywhere, whether in jail or under[Pg xiv] social persecution; and I have lived many years with my family in my own country and in foreign lands. My wife, of whom I have spoken of in the following pages, passed into shadow-land in '77. I have children who are scattered widely now. My first child, Lily, was born in Boston, in '52, and died when five months old, in Boston. My second daughter, Susan Minerva, was born in '55, and married Philip Dunbar Guelager, who for thirty-six years was the head of the gold and silver department of the Subtreasury in this city. She now lives at "Minerva Lodge," Stamford, Connecticut, with my seven-year-old grandson. My first son, George Francis Train, Jr., was born in '56, and is now in business in San Francisco. Elsey McHenry Train, my last child, now lives in Chicago. He was born in '57. I was able to see these children well educated, at home and abroad, and to give them some chance to see the great world I had known.

A last word as to myself. Readers of this book may think I have sometimes taken myself too seriously. I can scarcely agree with them. I try not to be too serious about anything—not even about myself. When I was making a hopeless fight for the Presidency in '72, I made the following statement in one of my speeches:

"Many persons attribute to me simply an impulsiveness, and an impressibility, as if I were some erratic comet, rushing madly through space,[Pg xv] emitting coruscations of fancifully colored sparks, without system, rule, or definite object. This is a popular error. I claim to be a close analytical observer of passing events, applying the crucible of Truth to every new matter or subject presented to my mind or my senses."

I think that estimate may be used to-day in this place. It does not so much matter, however, what I may have thought of myself or what I now think of myself. What does matter is what I may have done. I stand on my achievement.

And with this, I commit my life-story to the kind consideration of readers.

Citizen George Francis Train.

The Mills Palace,
September 22, '02.
[Pg xvi]

[Pg xvii]


[Pg xxi]


[Pg 1]





My grandfather was the Reverend George Pickering, of Baltimore—a slave-owner. Having fallen in with the early Methodists, long before Garrison, Phillips, and Beecher had taken up the abolition idea, he liberated his slaves and went to preaching the Gospel. He became an itinerant Methodist preacher, with the pitiable salary of $300 a year. The sale of one of his "prime" negro slaves would have brought him in more money than four years of preaching. He would have been stranded very soon if he had not had the good sense to marry my beautiful grandmother, who had a thousand-acre farm at Waltham, ten miles out of Boston. My grandfather thus could preach around about the neighborhood, and then come back to the family at home. My father married the eldest daughter of this Methodist preaching grandfather of mine, Maria Pickering.[Pg 2]

I was born at No. 21 High Street, Boston, during a snow-storm, on the 24th of March, '29. When I was a baby, my father went to New Orleans and opened a store. Soon after arriving in that city I was old enough to observe things, and to remember. I can recollect almost everything in my life from my fourth year. From the time I was three years old up to this present moment—a long stretch of seventy years, the Prophet's limit of human life—I can remember almost every event in my life with the greatest distinctness. This book of mine will be a pretty fair test of my memory.

I can remember the beautiful flowers of the South. How deeply they impressed themselves upon my mind! I can recall the garden with its wonderful floral wealth, the gift of the Southern sun. I can recollect exactly how the old clothesline used to look, with its load of linen—the resting-place of the long-bodied insects we called "devil's darning needles," or mosquito hawks—and how we children used to strike the line with poles, to frighten the insects and see them fly away on their filmy wings. And I can remember going down to my father's store, filling the pockets of my little frock with dried currants, which I thought were lovely, and watching him there at his work.

Rev. George Pickering

Rev. George Pickering, George Francis Train's grandfather.

Then came the terrible yellow-fever year. It is still known there as the year of the fever, or of the plague. This fearful epidemic swept over the [Pg 3]city, and left it a city of the dead. It was a catastrophe recalled to me by that of Martinique. My family suffered with the rest of the city. I remember well the horror of the time. There were no hearses to be had. Physicians and undertakers had gone to the grave with their patients and patrons. The city could not afford to bury decently so many of its dead inhabitants. And the fear of the plague had so shaken the human soul that men stood afar off, aghast, and did only what they had to do in a coarse, brutal, swift burial of the dead.

There were no coffins to be had, and no one could have got them if there had been enough of them. Corpses were buried, all alike, in coarse pine boxes, hastily put together in the homes—and often by the very hands—of the relatives of the dead. One day they brought into our home a coarse pine box. I did not know what it was or for what it was meant. Then I saw them take the dead body of my little sister Josephine and put it hastily into the rough pine box. I was too young to understand it all, but I can never forget that scene; it starts tears even now. After nailing up the box and marking it to go "To the Train Vaults," the family sat and waited for the coming of the "dead wagon." The city sent round carters to pick up the numerous dead, just as it had formerly sent out scavenger carts to take away the refuse.[Pg 4]

We could hear the "dead wagon" as it approached. We knew it by the dolorous cry of the driver. It drew nearer and nearer to our home. It all seemed so terrible, and yet I could not understand it. I heard the wagon stop under our window. Now the scene all comes back to me, and it recalls the rumble and rattle of those tumbrels of the French Reign of Terror: only it was the fever, instead of the guillotine, that demanded its victims. The driver would not enter the pest-stricken houses. He remained in his cart, and shouted out, in a heart-tearing cry, to the inmates to bring their dead to him. As he drove up to our window he placed his hands around his mouth, as a hunter does in making a halloo, and cried: "Bring out—bring out your dead!"

The long-wailed dolorous cry filled the streets, empty of their frequenters: "Bring out—bring out your dead!" Again at our home the cry was heard; and I saw my father and others lift up the coarse pine box, with the body of my little sister shut inside, carry it to the window, and toss it into the "dead wagon." And then the wagon rattled away down the street, and again, as it stopped under the window of the next house, over the doomed city rang the weird cry: "Bring out—bring out your dead!"

A few days later another rough pine box was brought to our home. Again I did not understand it; but I knew more of the mystery of[Pg 5] death than I had known before. Into this box they placed the body of my little sister Louise. Then we waited for the approach of the "dead wagon." I knew that it would again come to our home, to get its freight of death. I went to the window, and looked up and down the street, and waited. Far in the distance, I heard the cry: "Bring out—bring out your dead!"

The wagon finally arrived. The window was thrown open, the rude box was lifted up, taken to the window, and thrown into the wagon, which was already loaded with similar boxes. They were in great haste, it seemed to me, to be rid of the poor little box. And the carter drove on down the street to other stricken homes, crying: "Bring out—bring out your dead!"

I now began to feel the loss of my sisters. Two had gone. Only one was left with me, my little sister Ellen, as frail and as lovely a flower as ever bloomed. When the next box came, and she, dead of the plague, was put into it, I thought it time for me to interfere. I went to the window and stood guard. Again came the terrible cry: "Bring out—bring out your dead!" And my last little sister was taken away in the "dead wagon."

I was too young to understand it all, but I remember going with my father and mother in the carriage every time they carried one of my sisters to the graveyard.[Pg 6]

The next strange thing to happen was the arrival in the house of a box much larger than the others. I did not know what it could be for. The box was very rough looking. It was made of unplaned boards. My nurse told me it was for my mother. Again I took my stand by the window. "Bring out—bring out your dead!" resounded mournfully in the street just below the window where I stood. I looked out, and there was the "dead wagon." It had come for my mother.

I was astonished to find that they did not throw the box containing my mother into the wagon. It was too large and heavy. Four or five men had to come into the house and take out the box. It was marked "To the Train Vaults," and was put into the wagon with the other boxes containing dead bodies. Only my father and I sat in the carriage that went to the cemetery and to the vaults that day. There were my mother and my three little sisters; all had been swept from me in this St. Pierre style—in this volcano of yellow fever.

Finally there came one day a letter from my grandmother, the wife of the old Methodist itinerant preacher of Waltham: "Send on some one of the family, before they are all dead. Send George." And so my father made preparations to send me back to Massachusetts. I can remember now the exact wording of the card he wrote[Pg 7] and pinned on my coat, just like the label or tag on a bag of coffee. It read:

"This is my little son George Francis Train. Four years old. Consigned on board the ship Henry to John Clarke, Jr., Dock Square, Boston; to be sent to his Grandmother Pickering, at Waltham, ten miles from Boston. Take good care of the Little Fellow, as he is the only one left of eleven of us in the house, including the servants [slaves]. I will come on as soon as I can arrange my Business."

I remember how we went down to the ship in the river. She lay out in the broad, muddy Mississippi, and seven other vessels lay between her and the shore. Planks were laid on the bank, or "levee," as they called the shore in New Orleans, and up to the side of the nearest ship. We climbed over these planks and passed over the seven vessels, and came to the Henry. My father kissed me good-by, and left me on board the ship.

There I was, aboard this great vessel—for so she seemed to me then—a little boy, without nurse or guardian to look after me. I was just so much freight. I was part of the cargo. We floated down the Mississippi slowly, and floated on and on toward the Gulf. We were floating out into the great waters, into the great world, floating through the waters of Gulf and ocean, floating along in the Gulf Stream, and floating on toward my Northern home.

Thus I was floating, when I began my life anew; and I have been floating for seventy years![Pg 8]

When my father said good-by to me, kissing me as we passed over the last of the seven ships between the Henry and the shore, I saw him put a handkerchief to his face, as if to hide from me the tears that were in his eyes. He feared that my little heart would break down under the strain. But I didn't cry. Everything was so new to me. I was too small to realize all that the parting meant and all that had led up to it. I could not feel that I was leaving behind me all the members of my family—in the vaults of the graveyard. The ship seemed a new world to me. I had no eyes for tears—only for wonderment.

For many years afterward I heard nothing of my father. He had dropped below the horizon when I floated down the Mississippi, and I saw and heard nothing more of him. As my mother and three sisters had been buried together in New Orleans, we had taken it for granted that father had followed them to the grave, a victim of the same pestilence. But nothing was known as to this for many years.

We were anxious to have all the bodies brought together in one graveyard in the North and buried side by side. The family burying-ground was at Waltham, where eight generations were then sleeping—that is, eight generations of Pickerings and Bemises. There were the bodies of my great-grandmother, and of ancestors belonging to the first Colonial days. My cousin, George Pickering[Pg 9] Bemis, Mayor of Omaha, afterward had a monument erected over the spot where so many Bemises and Pickerings lay in their long rest, to preserve their memory. But my father's body was never to rest there; nor was it ever seen by any of his relatives.

My uncle, John Clarke, Jr., who had brought me out of New Orleans and rescued me from the plague, tried to find some trace of my father; but no record or vestige of him could be found in that city. Every trace of him had been swept away. His very existence there had been forgotten, erased. No one could be found who had ever heard of him, or knew anything about his store. So completely had the pestilence done its terrible work of destruction and obliteration. As this period was prior to the invention of the daguerreotype, we had no photographs of him. The only likenesses that were made then were expensive miniatures on ivory. I have no picture of him, except the one I carry forever in my memory.

Sixty years passed away. One day I received a letter from one of my cousins, Louisa Train, who was living in Michigan. She told me that her father and mother had died, and that the furniture of the old house, in which they and her grandparents had lived, had fallen to her. "In moving an old bureau," she wrote, "it fell to pieces, and, to my surprise, two documents rolled upon the[Pg 10] floor. These papers relate to you. One of them was a letter from your father to his mother, written from New Orleans shortly before you left that city. In it he says:

"'You can imagine my loneliness in being in this great house, always so lively, with eleven persons in it, including my own family—now all alone. George is with his tutor. He is a very extraordinary boy, though only four years old. The other day he repeated some verses, of which I can remember these lines:

"'I am monarch of all I survey; My right there is none to dispute; From the center all round to the sea, I am lord of the fowl and the brute.'"

I was to receive one other message from my father. Since I began writing this autobiography, my aged aunt, Abigail Pickering Frost, now in her ninetieth year, discovered a letter that my father had written to her and to her sister, my aunt Alice, who afterward married Henry A. Winslow, upon the day that he placed me on the ship Henry, and sent me to my grandmother at Waltham, Mass. Aunt Abigail, after the death of aunt Alice, who was one of the victims in the wreck of the Lexington, in January, '40, hid the letter in the garret of the old Waltham farmhouse, where she later discovered it. She now sends it to me from her home in Omaha, Neb., where it had again been lost, and found after a long[Pg 11] search, as she knew that I would appreciate it as a part of my life-story.

The letter came to me as a wail from the dead. I was very young, and childish, and thoughtless when I parted from him forever; but his letter brought back to me in a flood the bitterness of our life in New Orleans, the loneliness of my father in his great grief, and made me suffer, nearly seventy years afterward, for the pain that I was then too young to understand or feel. I give this letter, which is inexpressibly dear to me, just as it was written.

"New Orleans, June 10th, 1833.

"Dear Sisters Abigail and Alice:

"'Tis just two years since I left this place for New York, and arrived in Boston the evening of the 3d of July. I hope my dear boy will arrive safe and pass the 4th of July with you. He is now on board the ship (and the steamboat alongside the ship) to the Balize. I have written several letters by the ship, and found I had a few moments to spare which I will improve by addressing you. I refer you to the letters to Mother Pickering for particulars—as I have not time to say much. I can only say, my dear girls, that I am very unhappy here for reasons you well know. I part with George as though I was parting with my right eye—but 'tis for his good and the happiness of all that he should go; take him to your own home, care, and[Pg 12] protection; he is no ordinary boy, but is destined for a great scholar.

"I am left here without a friend except my God! in a city where the cholera is raging to a great extent—100 are dying daily! and among them some of the most valuable citizens. A sweet little girl about the age of Ellen, and an intimate acquaintance of George's, who used to walk arm in arm with him, died this morning with the cholera, and a great number of others among our most intimate acquaintances have passed on. Mrs. Simons died in six hours! What is life worth to me? Oh, my dear sisters! could I leave this dreadful place I would, and die among my friends! The thoughts of my dear Maria and Ellen fill me with sorrow! I have mourned over their tombs in silence. I have been with them in my dreams, and frequently I meet them in my room and talk with them as though alive. All here is melancholy. When shall I see you, God only knows! I have relieved my heavy heart of a burden—a weight that was almost unsupportable.

"In parting with my lovely boy I have bequeathed him to Mother Pickering as a legacy—it being all that I possess! You will take a share of the care, and I know will be all that mothers could be for your dear sister Maria's sake!

"Give my love to Grandpa Bemis, Father Pickering, and all the rest of the family. Say to them that my mind is constantly with them, and will ever[Pg 13] be so. I have written in great haste and very badly, as I am on board the ship and all is confusion, with the steamboat alongside. Farewell, my dear sisters! Do write me a line. If you knew how much I prize a letter from you, you would write often. Adieu, and believe me your affectionate brother,

"Oliver Train.

"To Misses Abigail and Alice Pickering,
Waltham, Mass."

The other document mentioned by my cousin Louisa, was the deed of a farm by my paternal grandfather, making a certain physician trustee of the property. I never came into that property! This was my first bequest. I had begun, even in my infancy, to give away my property, and I have thrown it away ever since. This first "bequest," however, was none of my making, although I accepted it, without trying to question the matter.

Another involuntary "bequest" of my childhood was brought about in this way. My mother, when a girl, was engaged to marry Stebbins Fiske. It was by a mere chance that they were not married—and therefore my name is "Train" by a mere accident which changed the fate of my mother and her fiancé. My father was a warm friend of Stebbins Fiske, and when Fiske was called suddenly to New Orleans, just before the day set for the marriage, he left his betrothed, Maria Pickering,[Pg 14] in charge of my father. The result might have been foreseen. It is the common theme of romance the world over. My mother and my father fell in love with each other, and were married. There was no thought of unfaithfulness; it was merely inevitable. Fiske understood the situation, and forgave both of them, and continued the stanch friend of both.

In his will Fiske left a small sum—$5,000—to my mother's mother. It was the most delicate way in which he could leave some of his money so that his old sweetheart might get it. The terms of the will were that this money should be divided at my grandmother's death. It was so divided, and a certain portion of it should have come to me; but I never received a penny. This was my second bequest, for I allowed others to take freely what belonged to me.

My third bequest was made with my eyes open. When I was about starting for Australia in '53, another uncle-in-law, George W. Frost, whom I afterward appointed purchasing agent of the Union Pacific Railway, a splendid gentleman and a clergyman, came to me and said: "Your Aunt Abbie" (his wife) "and myself are going to take care of your old grandmother on the farm. Have you any objections to signing away your interest in the old place?"

I said that, of course, I would sign it away. I was all right. I was going out into the great world[Pg 15] to make fortunes. And I signed it away, as if it were a mere nothing.

These incidents I mention here as illustrations of my whole life. Since my fourth year I have given away—thrown away—money. I have made others rich. But I have never yet got what was due me from others.[Pg 16]




I found myself a part of the cargo—shipped as freight, 2,000 miles, from the tropics to the arctic region, without a friend to take care of me. I was alone. This feeling, however, did not oppress me overmuch. Every one on board tried to make a pet of me, and, besides, there was so much to do, so much to see, so much to feel. From cabin to fo'cas'le I was made welcome.

There was only one cabin passenger besides myself. I sat at table opposite this passenger, and I remember that at the first meal they brought on some "flapjacks" (our present-day wheat-cakes). I was very fond of them, and ate them with sirup or molasses. I noticed that my companion in the cabin did not use molasses with his. I could not understand why any one should eat his flapjacks without molasses.

I thought this stranger too ignorant to know that molasses was the proper thing with flapjacks, and tried to help him to a fuller knowledge of the[Pg 17] resources of the table. I reached over, and tried to pour some molasses on his plate. Just then a heavy sea struck the ship, and I was thrown forward with a lurch. The entire contents of the molasses jug went in a flood over the man's trousers! Of course he was furious, and did not appreciate my efforts to teach him. I expected him to strike me, but he did not. It did not occur to me to beg his pardon, as I was doing what I thought to be a pure act of kindness. We afterward became good friends.

We were twenty-three days on the voyage. Before we had been aboard long I became friendly with everybody on the ship, and they with me. I was very active, and had the run of the boat. I was like a parrot, a goat, or a monkey—or all three. There was no stewardess on the boat, and as I had no one to look after me, I led a wild sort of life. I lived in the fo'cas'le, or with the sailors on deck or in the riggings. I liked the fo'cas'le best. I soon got to feel at home there. Sometimes I was in the cabin with my molasses-hating friend, but the fo'cas'le was my delight, and there I was to be found at all hours. During the twenty-three days of the voyage I was not washed once! I wore the same clothes days and nights, and became a little dirty savage!

It may be easily imagined that communication with these rough, coarse, honest, but vulgar sailors had a terrible effect on me. Everything bad[Pg 18] that is known to sailors these sailors knew, and very soon I knew. I observed everything, learned everything. I soon cursed and swore as roundly as any of them, using the words as innocently as if they were quotations from the Bible.

One of the games the sailors used to play with me was to go up into the rigging and call down to me that there was a great plantation up there that I could not see. Then they would throw lumps of sugar to me and tell me they came from the plantation in the rigging, and monkeys were throwing them to me. Of course I believed it all. How was I to know they were lying to me? I was only four years old. They stamped upon my mind the whole fo'cas'le—its rough life, its jollity, its oaths, and its lies.

As soon as our ship came to anchor out came a boat with my uncle. I remember that there was a little dog in the boat also. My uncle took me to the wharf, and then to his tobacco store in Dock Square. There I found awaiting us an old-fashioned chaise, and my uncle said he would take me right out to my grandmother's, at Waltham. The drive took us through two or three villages, and through several strips of forest. Finally we drove up to a little gate that stood about half a mile from the old farmhouse, and divided the next place from the farm of my grandmother. There were my aunts, all waiting for me.

Imagine the astonishment of my grandmother[Pg 19] and of my aunts on seeing the dirty little street Arab that came to see them! I was as intolerably filthy as any brat that ever came out of a sewer. I fairly reeked with the smells and the dirt of the fo'cas'le! To the dust and grime of New Orleans I had added the dust and grime of the ship, for I had not been near soap and water since I left New Orleans. Fancy going to these clean and prim old ladies in such a plight! But I was at least in good health, and magnificently alive.

The first thing they did was to summon a sort of town-meeting, to have me narrate the events of my voyage. But before I was to go before my audience I must be washed and have a change of clothes. This part of the program was postponed by an accident. The ladies heard me swear! It shocked their gentle minds immeasurably. But I didn't know what swearing meant.

What can not a boy learn in three weeks that is bad? I suppose I must have picked up all the wickedness of the fo'cas'le without knowing what it was. It seemed all right to me; but not to my good grandmother and to my aunts.

They wanted to cleanse me outwardly and inwardly, and prepared to start outwardly. They insisted that I must change my clothes and have a good scrubbing. But before they began I told them some of my experiences aboard ship. I told them about the sailors getting sugar from the plantation up in the riggings and the monkeys[Pg 20] throwing it down to me. They told me there were no fields up there, no monkeys and no sugar, except what the sailors had carried up with them.

I was indignant. "If you don't believe my story," said I, "about the plantation in the rigging and about the monkeys and the sugar, you can not wash me or change my clothes."

The line of battle was now drawn. If they did not want to believe my story, I was not going to let them do anything for me. That monkey-and-sugar story was my ultimatum. They refused to accept it. For three days they laid siege to me, but I refused to be washed or clothed in a fresh clean suit until they believed my story. I felt I was telling the truth, and could not bear to have my word doubted. Finally they said that they believed my story.

There is an old tale of a boy who was told by his parents, who did not want him to cling any longer to the old myth about Santa Claus, that it was not Santa Claus that brought him all the good things on Christmas, but that they, his parents, had been giving him the presents year after year. The boy turned to his mother and said: "Have you been fooling me about the God question too?"[Pg 21]




The old house where I spent these years of my childhood and boyhood is now more than two hundred years old. It was the home of the old Methodists in that section, and had been the headquarters of the sect for a hundred years before it began to have regular "conferences." Here lived the slave-owner Pickering, who married my grandmother, the farmer's daughter. If it had not been for this home, which was a refuge and asylum for the itinerant preacher, grandfather Pickering would have starved. The farm was his anchorage. Otherwise he would have gone adrift.

A religious atmosphere pervaded the place. It left the deepest impress upon my mind. The only paper we took was Zion's Herald, a religious weekly published by Stevens, of Boston. The difference between this calm, religious life of the Methodists and the turbulent, rough, and swearing life of the fo'cas'le was very marked. But it took me a long time to get away from the atmos[Pg 22]phere of the fo'cas'le and into that of the Methodists. Even the bath and the clean clothes did not seem to change me very much. I discovered that cleanliness is not so very near to godliness, after all.

Of course the old Methodists had prayers in the morning and at night, and they had grace at every meal. Every one knelt at prayers. But they could not make me kneel. I would not bow the knee. I had not got over the sailors' ways, and the monkeys, and the throwing down sugar from the plantation in the sails—the Santa Claus part of it. I always remembered it.

Of course I was taken to the little church, a mile off up in the woods, where my grandfather preached. It was in his "circuit." As we were coming home one day, and I was driving, the chaise struck a stone, and the old gentleman was jostled considerably. He impatiently seized the reins from me and gave the horse a severe flip with them, and drove the rest of the way himself. The little incident made a deep impression on my mind. I said to myself: "If this is the way Christians act, I do not want to have anything to do with them."

The Pickerings were an ancient Southern—and before that, an English—family. Some of the members lived in South Carolina, some in Virginia, others in Maryland. One of them sat in Washington's first cabinet. Like my grandfather, they[Pg 23] were all slave-owners. Judge Gilbert Pickering was chairman of Cromwell's committee that cut off King Charles's head. Grandfather Pickering was a liberal man in many ways. I have spoken already of his freeing his own slaves. He chose the calling of an itinerant Methodist preacher, when to do so meant tremendous financial sacrifice and the loss of social rank. He almost starved at it, but he stuck to it with great nobleness of mind. It gave him a sort of religious freedom.

Once he could have been a bishop in the New England branch of Methodism; but he refused the ambitious title. He did not believe in bishops for their church. And so, setting aside every offer of preferment, every opportunity of rising or getting on in the world, he chose to labor at his simple calling, like a martyr. And he would shortly have found martyrdom in starvation, had it not been for my lovely grandmother, with her thrift and care.

The branch of Methodists to which my grandfather belonged was very liberal. It was so liberal, indeed, that my mother and her five sisters had all been educated at the Ursuline convent at Charlestown, Mass., which was destroyed by the mob in '42. I remember that after the mob burned this convent to the ground the Methodists wanted to buy the site, and applied to the Roman Catholic archbishop in Boston, who replied: "We sometimes purchase, but we never sell."[Pg 24]

Another incident of my boyhood may be recalled here, as it illustrates the stubborn pride that had begun to show itself even then. One day an elegant carriage drove up to the old house, and a young lady, beautifully dressed, got out and asked to see George Train. I went up to her, and she told me who she was.

"You must remember, when you grow up," she said, "that I am Miss Sallie Rhoades. We are one of the few families of Maryland," she added, with a pride that was evident even to my boyish eyes, "that have been able to support their carriages for one hundred and fifty years." She spoke with the air of a grande dame, which stung my own pride keenly.

"While I am very glad to meet my Southern relative," I said, with equal pride, even if I could not equal her manner, "we have kept our ox-cart on the old farm for two hundred years." I expected the additional half a century to stagger her. But it did not seem to reach home; and she drove away. This was the last I ever saw of "Miss Sallie Rhoades, of Maryland."

In those days in New England we had to depend very much on ourselves on the farm, and we made as much of supplies as possible. I became an adept at making currant wine, cider, maple sugar, molasses candy, and sausages. I used also to make the candles we burned on the place, molding them half a dozen at a time in the old candle[Pg 25] mold, which was never absent from a country house of that day. So, in my lifetime, I have passed from the period of the tallow dip to the electric light.

From four to ten years of age I earned my own living on the old farm. I believe it is the only instance in the world where a child of four supported himself in this way. What I mean by earning my own living is, that while the expense of keeping a little youngster like me was very small, I earned more than enough to pay my way. I dressed myself. No one took care of me. I was left pretty much alone, except in the way of receiving religious admonition. I was always running errands for the men and women of the place. There was constantly something for me to do.

Moreover, I was very ambitious. I wanted to know everything that was going on about me. This has ever been my characteristic. I was born inquisitive. I have never been afraid to ask questions. If I ever saw anything I did not understand, I asked about it; and the information stuck in my mind, like a burr. I never forgot. I soon learned everything there was to be learned on the farm.

The room I slept in was a great wide one, and I slept alone. I was not afraid; but I remember the great size and depth of that cold New England room.

Life on the farm was busy enough. I often set[Pg 26] the table and did other things that the hired girl did, and could soon do almost everything just as well as she—from setting the table to preparing a meal. All this I learned before I was ten years old. I mention these little details merely to show the difference between the life I had to lead in old New England and the life my children and grandchildren have since led.

One blessing and glory was that I had the universal atmosphere. The woods and fields were mine. I could roam in the forest and over the fields at will. The great farm was a delight to me. I was never afraid anywhere. In those days there were no "hoboes" or "hoodlums" roaming over the country. We kept no locks on our doors, or clasps on the windows. Everything was open.

On the farm, as about the house, I soon learned everything that I could. I learned to sow and reap, to plant various crops, to plow, hoe, mow, harvest. And I had a special garden of my own, where I raised a little of everything—onions, lettuce, cucumbers, parsnips, and other vegetables. I knew their seasons, the time to plant them, and when to gather them. I was an observer from the cradle. Little escaped my eyes. And I have made it a practise all through my life to master everything as I came to it.

Of books I saw little in those days. The only ones we had on the farm place, in what was termed[Pg 27] by courtesy the "library," were the Waverley Novels, Jane Porter's Scottish Chiefs, Watts's Hymns, and the Bible. There was, of course, Zion's Herald, the religious weekly paper from Boston I have already mentioned. These were our literature. I read everything I could get hold of, and soon exhausted the small resources of the farm library.

We were so far from the village and the more frequented roads that the only persons who came to our house were peddlers, who sold us kitchen utensils, such as tin pans and buckets, and the lone fisherman, who would always sound his horn a mile away to warn us of his approach.

The old house had the usual New England parlor or drawing-room, the room of ceremony, never aired until some guest came to occupy it, or there was a funeral or baptism in it. I have never found farmers, anywhere in the world, who had any idea of ventilation. They slept in closed rooms, without any regard to health or cleanliness—for nothing is so cleansing as fresh, pure air. There was the old fireplace, with the great andirons that could sustain the weight of a forest tree, and often did. Everything was a century old, and just that much behind the day; but that was then the case everywhere in New England rural sections.

And what fires we used to have in that cavernous chimney! We would place a tremendous log on the andirons, and build a fire about it. Soon it[Pg 28] would give out a terrific heat, but it was not sufficient to warm up the great room, into which the cold air swept through a thousand cracks and chinks. Our faces, bending over the blazing log, would be fairly blistered, while our backs would be chilled with cold. The farther end of the room would be icy cold, for drafts had free play. The house was poorly built, so far as comfort was concerned, although it was stout enough to last a couple of centuries. Not only the winds but the snow found easy entrance. If it snowed during the night, I would find a streak of snow lying athwart the room the next morning, often putting my bare feet in it as I got up in the darkness.

The ignorance of the Puritan farmers of New England was the densest ignorance that I have ever seen, even among farmers. They knew nothing, and seemed to care nothing, about the laws of health or economy. They were content to live exactly in the way their ancestors had lived for generations. They learned nothing, and forgot nothing—like the Bourbons.

This suggests to me the fact that the climate of New England has changed tremendously since I was a boy. Most old people say something like this. When I was a boy there was snow every winter and all winter. Now there is comparatively little snow. Then it used to begin in November, and we were practically shut in on our farms, often even in our houses, for the winter. For six[Pg 29] months the snow covered the earth. When we wanted to get out, we had to break our way out with an ox-sled. The old climate of New England has gone.

When I was ten years old I began taking "truck" to the old Quincy market in Boston. It was ten miles away, but I soon got accustomed to going there alone and selling out the farm produce and vegetables. I had to get up at four o'clock in the mornings, in order to look after the horse and to harness him. He was called "Old Tom," and was a faithful, trustworthy animal.

I would arrive at the market before dawn, and would back the wagon up against the market-house and wait for the light. I fed the horse, and now and then, if the weather was particularly bad, I would put him in a stable for a few hours, at a cost of fifty cents, and feed him on oats.

After closing out the "truck," I would drive to Cambridgeport, where I bought the groceries and other supplies for the farm. My grandmother trusted all this to me. After this I got a luncheon, which cost me a "shilling cut," as it was called then—twelve and a half cents. Then I would drive home, and could give to grandmother a full and itemized account of everything, without having set down a word or a figure on paper. This went on for two or three years.

For amusement, as I have said, I had the universal atmosphere, and I had the great old farm,[Pg 30] and the forest and the fields. I had them all to myself. I roamed over them, and through them, at will. I used to set box-traps for rabbits and snares for partridges. I had a little gun, also, and a little dog, with which I would hunt rabbits or squirrels. The dog I have always regarded with wonder. He could see a gray squirrel at the top of a tree half a mile away. Some persons think he smelled the squirrel, but I am certain he saw it. And he was only a mongrel, at that. He would lead me to a tree, and I would shoot the squirrel. The little dog—a sort of fox terrier—was the only real friend I ever had. He was my constant companion, whenever I could get to him or he to me. In the winter I used him as a warming-pan. The old farmhouse was cold—very cold. We had no means of heating it. At night I would find the sheets of my bed as cold as an ice-floe. Then I would send my little dog down under the covering, and he would stay there until he had warmed up the bed.

Then there was pigeon-netting. This is an old sport that has, I suppose, died out in New England. In my boyhood, however, great flocks of wild pigeons used to come to the New England woods and forests. The device for catching large numbers of them by netting was quite primitive, but effective.

My uncle Francis (for whom I was named), whom I used to help net pigeons, was quite a[Pg 31] sportsman. He was fond of fishing, and he was a great hand at the nets. We had two places for spreading the nets, one in the "vineyard" and the other in a "burnt-hill" in the forest. All the foliage was stripped from several trees that were close together. Then we would arrange the net so it could be drawn together at the right time, spread it over the ground, and bait it. Then we would plant our stool-pigeons. As soon as we saw a flock of pigeons approaching we would stir the stool-pigeons by pulling on a string to which they were attached. They would move about, as if they were really alive. The pigeons would circle about the spot, attracted by the fluttering stool-pigeons, and then they would catch sight of the grain and come down. When the net was filled with them, we would draw the strings, and sometimes we caught as many as a hundred at a time. They were then killed and sold.

By such work as this I was earning my own support. This is a sample of my life on the farm from four to ten years. I wore one suit of clothes a year, and the suit cost originally not more than $10, and was made at home. I had some little pocket-money occasionally. I was permitted to sell the rabbits and partridges, the spoil of my traps and gun. These small resources usually enabled me to keep a few cents—sometimes a few dollars—in my pockets.[Pg 32]

There is nothing more extravagant and truly wasteful than a boy with a few dollars in his pockets. He can throw away his slender fortune with magnificent bravado. One summer I had accumulated $17, and, naturally, I was itching to spend it. The hired man was going up to Concord to help celebrate "Cornwallis Day" (October 19), and I got consent to accompany him. There was to be a fair, and I took my money with me—very stupidly. The memory of it was soon all that remained.

My first step in extravagance was the purchase of a bunch of firecrackers. It cost me, apparently, ten cents; but actually it was my financial undoing, and cost me $17. I began to pop the crackers, and soon had a crowd of boys around me. They were envious of me. They didn't have money to buy crackers. I popped away with great nonchalance, but husbanding my ammunition and popping only a single cracker at a time. This was strategy of a high order; but I could not keep it up. I didn't know the resourcefulness of boy-nature. Presently, I heard a boy whisper just behind me, to one of his companions: "Just wait a minute, and you will see him touch off the whole pack!"

This was irresistible. My blood was fired with ambition. I fired the whole bunch at once! The hurrahs and yells were tremendous, and set me wild. I went and bought another bunch, and[Pg 33] set it all off at one time, as if firecrackers were no new thing to me. But my recklessness was not to stop there. I had been carried off my feet by the hurrah, as many an older person has been before.

Our hired man came to me and said that a very pretty thing was going on near by. I went with him, and saw a man playing a game with three thimbles, a pea, and a green cushion. The game was to guess under which of the thimbles the pea was concealed. The hired man thought he knew and insisted that he knew, and the gamester wanted to bet him that he didn't. After a while another man came up and tried his hand at guessing. He also missed. The loss of his money made him indignant, and he took up another of the thimbles. The pea was not there.

The thing then seemed so easy to our hired man that he asked to try a dollar on the game. Then the irate man who had lost his money took up the other thimble and brushed the pea off the cushion. Our hired man, who let nothing that was going on about the green cushion escape his sight, saw the pea swept away, and eagerly bet the dealer that there was no pea there at all. The dealer took him up, and lifted the thimble, and lo! there was the pea. This did not satisfy the hired man, who kept on betting, and losing until he had no money left. Thus our savings went up in powder smoke and in guesses at the whereabouts[Pg 34] of a fleeting pea. I did not gamble then, nor have I gambled since.

But the firecracker day had its lessons for me. It taught me some things about money and its power, and it got me interested in Cornwallis. I began to read American history.[Pg 35]




I went to school, of course, for this was a part of the serious business of New England life. Our schoolhouse was two and a half miles distant, and the path to it lay across half a dozen farms and ran through the forest for a mile. There I was taught the "three R's," and nothing else. There was no thought of Latin or Greek, and, except the little 'rithmetic, no mathematics. I learned to cipher, read, and write; but I learned these rudimentary branches very rapidly. At night, in the old farmhouse, my aunts would go over the tasks of the day with me.

Our principal diversions were in the winter, when we had delightful sleighing parties. The school-children always had one great picnic. There would be a six-horse sleigh, and the teacher would be in charge of the party. We visited the surrounding towns, and it was a great affair to us. We looked forward to it from the very commencement of the school year. On examination[Pg 36] day, at the close of the term, we children had to clean the schoolhouse. There was no janitor, as now. But we enjoyed the work, and took a certain childish pride in it.

I remember that one of my earliest ambitions was gratified at that period when I was chosen leader of the school. I stood at the head of everything. And it was no idle compliment. Boys are not, like their elders, influenced by envy or jealousy. They invariably try to select the best "man" among them for their leader. Jealousies, envy, and heart-burnings come afterward.

Reading the account of the collision between the Priscilla and the Powhatan in the Sound off Newport, this year, and the peril that threatened five hundred passengers, there came to my mind the recollection of a catastrophe that happened sixty-two years ago, and how the tidings were brought to me. I can live over again the horror of that day. I recall that it was in January, '40.

It was a stormy, bitter day, and I was in the little schoolhouse at Pond End, two and a half miles from the farm. The snow had been falling a long while, and everything was covered with it. As the day advanced, and the snow piled deeper and ever deeper about the little house, and covered the forests and fields with a thicker blanket of white, we began to grow anxious. Now and then a sleigh would drive up through the drifting, fly[Pg 37]ing snow, and the father and mother of some child in the school would come in and take away the little boy or girl and disappear in the storm. I began to think, with dread, of how I, a little fellow, would be able to find my way home through the blinding snow, when suddenly there came a tap on the door. The teacher went to the door, and called to me: "George, your uncle Emery Bemis has just arrived from Boston in his sleigh, and wants to take you home with him."

When I got into the sleigh he seemed to be very sad. He sat quiet for some little time, and then turned to me and said: "George, I have some terrible news for your grandmother. She is at the farmhouse now, waiting to see her youngest daughter, your aunt Alice. Your grandmother expects me to bring her. She was coming from New York on the steamer Lexington, with the dead body of her husband [and his brother and father], which she wanted to bury in the family graveyard. There were three hundred passengers on the ship. The Lexington was wrecked and burned in the Sound, and three hundred persons were lost—burned or drowned. Your aunt was lost. Only five passengers were saved."

Such were the horrible tidings my uncle was bearing to my grandmother and my aunts, instead of the living presence they were expecting. This incident left an ineradicable impression upon my mind. There was one peculiar thing about the ac[Pg 38]cident of the Lexington that struck me at the time as being weird and unforgettable. When the ship went to pieces the pilot-house was shattered, and a portion of it floated away and lodged against the rocks near the shore. The bell itself was uninjured, and still swung from its hangings, and there it remained, clanging dolorously in every wind. It seemed to my boyish fancy to be tolling perpetually for the dead of the Lexington.

Years afterward, while making a speech in a political campaign, I made use of this incident. I said the Democratic party of the day was adrift from its ancient moorings, and was always calling up something of the remote past. It was like the bell of the Lexington, caught upon the rocks that had wrecked the ship and tolling forever for the dead.

George Ripley, who was the leader at Brook Farm and, long afterward, was associated with Charles A. Dana in the preparation of the American Cyclopedia, was at one time my school-teacher on Waltham Plains. General Nathaniel P. Banks, who was a few years older than I, was chairman of our library committee. We used to have lectures in Rumford Hall. (By the way, this hall was named for Count Rumford, whom most persons take to have been a German or other foreigner, on account of his foreign title; but he was an American.) The lecture night was always a great event in Waltham. One day a man came to[Pg 39] me and said, "Here is a remarkable letter." He read it to me, and it was as follows:

"To the Library Committee, Waltham:

"I will come to lecture for $5 for myself, but ask you for four quarts of oats for my horse.

"Ralph Waldo Emerson."

The lecture that Mr. Emerson delivered for us boys of the library committee in Waltham was entitled "Nature." We paid him $5 and four quarts of oats for it. He delivered it many times afterward, when his name was on every lip in the civilized world, and he received $150 to $500 for each delivery. He was just as great then, in that hour in the little old town of Waltham; it was the same lecture, with the same exquisite thought and marvelous wisdom; but it took years for the world to recognize the greatness and the beauty and the wisdom of him, and to value them at their higher worth. The world paid for the name, not for the lecture or the truth and beauty.

During this period I attended school for three months every summer. My grandparents wanted to make a clergyman of me. But that sort of thing was not in me. I was sent up to Mr. Leonard Frost, at Framingham, ten miles distant, and lived with him. Certainly my board could not have been more than $2 a week, and the tuition amounted to scarcely anything. I was with Mr.[Pg 40] Frost just three months, at a total expenditure for educational purposes of about $25! This constituted my college education. I was then fourteen years old; and this is all the school education I have ever had.

The chief game we played when I was a boy was what we called "round ball," which has now developed into the national game of baseball. I was quite an adept at the game, as I took great interest always in all sports and easily excelled in them. I had also a fancy for chemistry, and my first experiment was the result of sitting down upon a bottle of chemicals. It cost me certain portions of my clothing, and made a lasting impression upon me. It effectually put an end to my desire to study chemistry further.

About this time a sweeping change came in my life. One day I happened to overhear my aunts talking about my future. The good ladies had come to the conclusion that a clergyman's life was not the life for me; so they were debating the question of sending me out to learn a trade. They said it was evident that I would not be a clergyman, a doctor, or a lawyer; so I must be a blacksmith, or a carpenter, or a mason. Now I did not want to be any of these things.

As soon as I got an opportunity I told my aunts that I did not intend to be a carpenter, or a mason, or a blacksmith. I said I was going down to Boston—not to the market, but to get a position some[Pg 41]where. They were astounded. They could not believe their ears. But I went.

The city seemed bigger than ever, now that I had to face it and conquer it, or have it conquer me. But I was not beaten before the fight. I began walking through the streets with as bold a heart as I could summon, and kept searching the windows and doors for any sign of "Boy wanted." I had seen such notices pasted up in windows when I came into the town on marketing trips.

Finally I saw such a sign on a drug-store in Washington Street, and walked in. I told the druggist I should like to go to work. He offered me my board and lodging for looking after the place. I asked him what sort of clothes he wanted me to wear, and he replied that the suit I had on—my Sunday clothes—would do for every day. I was quite happy and started to work.

The first night I slept in the same building with the store, but above it. About one o'clock in the morning the bell rang. Some one wanted the doctor at once. I said I wasn't a doctor, and that the doctor was not there. The messenger ran off. This was bad enough, to be routed up in the middle of the night that way. The next day the druggist went away from the store on some business. I sampled everything edible in the place. I tried the different kinds of candy, and sirups, and then went out and bought some lemonade and a dozen raw oysters. The result may be imagined. After[Pg 42] a few minutes of Mont Pelée, I decided that I had had enough of the drug business. I told the druggist my decision, shut the door, and left the store, a disappointed and lonely little fellow.

I hesitated as to my next step. But there was the old farmhouse—and it invited me very tenderly just then to return. I was not conquered yet, but would fight on. I turned, as if by instinct, toward Cambridgeport, the scene of my traffickings with the grocer. My uncle Clarke lived there, the uncle that had brought me on from New Orleans; but I could not make up my mind to go to him, either. The family would laugh at me. No! I would get another place—but it would not be in a drug-store!

Then I had an inspiration. There was the grocer named Holmes! Why not try him? I would. So I went to the store of Joseph A. Holmes, at the corner of Main Street and Brighton Road. To my eager inquiry, Mr. Holmes said: "You have come just in time. We want a boy." Then he asked me what wages I wanted. "Just enough to live on," I said. "You can live with us," he said; "and I will give you one dollar a week." That meant $50 a year. It was a great sum to me. I began to work at once.

This was the winter of '43-'44, and I was fourteen. My work was to drive the grocery wagon up to Old Cambridgeport, take orders, and fill them. I had to get up at four o'clock in the[Pg 43] morning to look after the horse, just as I had done on the farm, and to get everything ready for the trip. I had the orders of the day before to fill and to deliver at the college. Besides, I had to work in the store after I came back from Old Cambridgeport. In the evening I had to look after the lamps, sweep out, put up the shutters, and do numberless other little things about the store. The store was closed at ten o'clock at night. Then I would put out the lights, which were old-fashioned oil lamps.

It was a long day for a boy—or for a man. I worked eighteen hours every day. And the laborers in the Pennsylvania coal-mines are now striking for an eight-hour day! I had six hours of night in which to go to bed and to find what sleep I could. This life continued for about two years. In that time I had learned to do almost everything that was to be done about a grocery store. I had really learned this in the first six months.

One of my many little duties was to make paper bags. I had to cut the paper and paste it together. Another task was to take a hogshead of hams, put each ham in bagging, and sew it up. Then I had to whitewash each particular ham. That was a nice business! It went against my nature more than any other part of my manifold labors in the store.

Mr. Holmes was a Baptist deacon, but the only thing about him to which my youthful taste objected was that he chewed tobacco all the time.[Pg 44] Yes, there was another objection. He insisted upon my joining the Bible class in his Sunday-school. This I would not do. I could not explain it all to him; but the Santa Claus matter had not yet worn out of my mind.

One day at the grocery store, Mr. Holmes brought in an elderly gentleman and said to me: "George, I want you to take this gentleman" (naming him) "up to the college, and walk about with him." The gentleman seemed to me to be about sixty years old. Mr. Holmes cautioned me about keeping him out of any danger, as he was not very well. "Don't talk to him," he said to me, "unless he wants to talk to you."

The thing was like a holiday to me. I walked with him up to the college, and all around, as much as he wanted to; and it never occurred to me, in all the days I was with him in this way, to find out who he was, or to think about it at all.

He was John Jacob Astor, Jr., eldest son of the founder of the great house of the Astors. He was practically an invalid. He was then in charge of a Mr. Dowse, who generally left him to the care of Mr. Holmes, and who, in turn, left him to me. After this, he came to New York, where he was taken in charge by his brother, William B. Astor.[Pg 45]



Before I get away from my boyhood days, I want to say something about the manner of my rearing in the bosom of old New England Methodism. I was reared in the strictest ways of morality, in accordance with the old system. Grandmother told me that I must not swear, must not drink intoxicating liquors, must not lie, must not use tobacco in any form. It seemed to me she was stretching out the moral law a little, and that there were fifteen, instead of ten, commandments, in the religious scheme of Methodism. And each commandment was held up to me as an unfailing precept that would make a man of me. I used to say to myself that I would be fifteen times a man, as I intended to keep them all.

But while this training was proceeding, and I was being warned against drinking and using tobacco, there were some strange inconsistencies going on side by side with the precepts. My old grandmother smoked what was known as "nigger-head" tobacco, in a little clay pipe. The pipes[Pg 46] cost about a cent apiece. I used to cut up this tobacco for her. But as she smoked, she lost no opportunity of impressing upon me the dreadfulness of the tobacco habit.

I made bold one day to ask her why it was that she smoked, and yet told me not to smoke. She touched herself in the right side, and said, "The doctor tells me to smoke for some trouble here." But she was a very lovely old lady, and I would never write or speak a word that could harm the dear memory of the mother of my mother.

At this time, also, her father was living. I remember the old gentleman now, in his red cap, then a wonder to me, but which afterward became very familiar in Constantinople and the East as the Turkish fez. He was very aged, being then well along in the eighties. Every night I used to go up to his room and make him a toddy. He always wanted me to mix this drink for him, as I had learned to make it exactly to his taste. He had the rare consistency never to say anything to me about the immorality of drinking, nor did I ever speak to him about the matter. But one day I asked my grandmother about this "toddy." She touched her left side, and said, "It is for something here."

I could not understand it, but here were mysterious "somethings" in my grandmother's right side, and in her father's left side, that nullified the Methodist religious system and set at naught[Pg 47] the additional commandments, "Thou shalt not drink," and "Thou shalt not smoke."

But the scheme of morality proved a good thing for me, and served to guide me aright in all my wanderings about the world and up and down in it. I think it very good testimony to the soundness and virtue of my moral training that I have wandered around the world four times, have lived in every manner known to man, have been thrown with the most dissolute and the most reckless of mankind, and have passed through almost every vicissitude of fortune, and have never tasted a drop of intoxicating liquor, and have never smoked. I have kept all of the commandments—those of Sinai and those of the Methodists.

In my period of wealth and prosperity, I have entertained thousands of men, have seen thousands drinking and drunken at my table—and under it; but I never touched a drop of my own wine or of the wine of others. I have paid a great deal of money for the purchase of all sorts of tobacco, and for all sorts of pipes—narghiles, hookas, chibouks—as presents for others; but never touched tobacco myself in any way. I have been in every rat-hole of the world—but I never touched the rats. It is for these reasons that I am seventy-three years young, and am hale and strong to-day, and living my life over again like a youth once more.

Years afterward, when I was lecturing, my[Pg 48] cousin, George Pickering Bemis, ex-Mayor of Omaha, and my aunt Abbie and my cousin Abbie attended the one I delivered in Omaha, and all of them felt a little hurt by my allusions to the old Methodists, and to my grandmother and her father. Bemis wrote to me that they were horrified. But they forgot that what I said of the Methodists and of my ancestors was in their praise. I was not ridiculing them, but extolling them. I told of these incidents of my childhood, because I was speaking of my childhood, and these were facts. One of the strictest commandments of old Methodism was to tell the truth. They were not satisfied with the mild negative of the Sinaitic commandment, "Thou shalt not lie." They added a positive decree, "Thou shalt speak the truth." That was all I was doing. I was telling the truth about my childhood and boyhood. I have never spoken anything but the truth in all my life. This, too, I owe to the early training in Methodist virtues and precepts, and to the example and counsel of my dear old grandmother.

I could not join the Bible class, at the urgent request of the grocer, Mr. Holmes, because I could not see the necessity of God, and no one could ever explain to me the reason why there should be, or is, a God. I could never recognize the necessity. Morality and ethics I could see the necessity of, and the high and authoritative reason for; but religion never appealed to my intelligence or to[Pg 49] my emotions. The story of the Prodigal Son only taught me that to be a Christian one must do something to be forgiven for, to repent of; and I could not see the strength of such an argument. The plain and sound "ethics" of Methodism, outside of "faith" and "belief," always seemed to me to be higher and better than this.

I feel that in an autobiography I should say this much about my moral creed and principles. Later in life the Bible got me into much trouble, involved me in persecutions, and finally landed me in jail—all of which I shall refer to in due season.

Children are born savages and cheats. It is only training that makes true and honest men and women of them. When a child of five and six, I slept with my aunt Alice, the one who was afterward lost on the Lexington. One night I saw a fourpence in her pocket-book. When I saw that she was asleep, I got up quietly, went to her pocket-book where it lay on the table and took the fourpence out of it. But I could not retain it. It seared into my conscience. Before she woke up, I went as quietly back to the purse and placed the fourpence exactly where I had found it. My Methodist training saved me.

On another occasion, my grandmother took me to Watertown to buy me a suit of clothes. In the store I noticed, while my grandmother was talking with the clerk, a lovely knife in the show-case. I wanted it. All my boyish instincts went out to[Pg 50] that knife. I had never had a knife, and was hungry for one. I looked around, with all the inherited cunning of savage and barbarian and predatory ancestors in a thousand forests and for a hundred centuries. No one was observing me. Quietly, stealthily, I went to the case. I lifted the top, took the beautiful knife, and put it in my pocket. It was done. I had the knife, and no one would ever be any wiser. I was safe with my spoil. But again my Methodist-drilled conscience awoke. It made me go back to the show-case and replace the stolen knife. I actually felt better—for a time.

Then the appeal of nature came back stronger than before. I longed for the knife. There was no resisting the predatory impulse. Again I stole behind the counter, opened the case, took out the knife, and placed it securely in my pocket. Again it had been done without chance of detection. But again my Methodist-made conscience came to the fore. Again it saved me from being a thief. I went back to the case, and put the knife in its place, but with great reluctance. Still a third time I took the knife from the case and secreted it in my pocket, and again the Methodist conscience proved stronger than human nature, and I restored the treasure to its proper place. I was finally able to leave the store without the knife, and with a clean conscience.

These are the only instances when I started to do an evil thing, and in both of them I did not[Pg 51] go the full length, but restored the property I coveted. Since that time, and with these exceptions, for the entire period of my life I have never cheated, stolen, or lied. And yet I have been in fifteen jails. For what?

When I was clerk in Mr. Holmes's grocery store I was in charge of the money-drawer. I received no salary from Mr. Holmes, but took out the $1 a week that I was allowed, and kept an account of it. I was trusted, and did not betray in the slightest degree this trust and confidence of my employer. Every cent that I took out of, or put into the cash-drawer was entered upon my account-book, and I was ready at any and all times to show exactly how my account stood with the store.[Pg 52]




The next change in my life, and the real beginning of my career as a business man, was soon to come. I had got as much out of the grocery store as it could give me, and was yearning for a change and a wider field of labor.

One day a gentleman drove up to the store in a carriage drawn by an elegant team of horses, and asked if there was a boy there named Train. Mr. Holmes thereupon called to me, and said to the strange gentleman, "This is George Francis Train." He then told me that the stranger was Colonel Enoch Train, and that he wanted to speak to me.

The first thing Colonel Train said was, "I am surprised to see you, George. I thought all your family were dead in New Orleans. Your father was a very dear friend of mine—and your mother, too." He said, as if repeating it to himself, like a sort of formula, "Oliver Train, merchant in Merchants' Row." Then he continued: "He was[Pg 53] my cousin. But we had heard that you were all dead. Where have you been?" I told him where I had been living for the past ten years, with my grandmother at Waltham, and how my uncle Clarke had brought me back from New Orleans.

After he had made a number of inquiries of me, and I had given him all the stock of information I had, Colonel Train drove back to Boston. I watched the retreating carriage, and brave and disturbing thoughts came to me.

The following day I went to Boston. I had no very definite plan of action, but I knew that when the time and opportunity came I should find my way, as usual. And so I went directly to the great shipping house of Train & Co., at 37 Lewis Wharf. The big granite building seemed titanic to my eyes then, as if it contained the whole world of business and enterprise. When I went back to Boston years and years afterward, it seemed only a plain, ordinary affair. At first sight of it the place was simply ahead of and greater than anything I had seen. When I had outgrown it, it seemed small.

When I came up to the building, my purpose was at once clear. I walked in and asked to see Colonel Train. The colonel shook hands cordially, and said he was very glad to see me. "Where do I come in?" I asked.

"Come in?" he almost gasped at this effrontery. "Why, people don't come into a big ship[Pg 54]ping house like this in that way. You are too young."

"I am growing older every day," I replied. "That is the reason I am here. I want to make my way in the world." "Well," said the colonel, smiling at me, "you come in to see me when you are seventeen years old."

"That will be next year," I replied. "I am sixteen now. I might just as well begin this year—right away." He tried to put me off one way after another; but I was not to be got rid of. I was there, and I meant to stay.

"I will come in to-morrow," I said. Then I left, quite content with myself and the turn my venture had taken. Of the issue I had no doubt.

Early on the following day, I went to the shipping office, and took my seat at one of the desks. I sat there and waited. After a little while, Colonel Train came in. He was astonished to see me sitting there, ready for work.

"You here?" he stammered. "Have you left the grocery store?" "Yes, sir," I said; "I have learned everything there is to learn there and in fact had done so before I had been there six months. I want a bigger field to work in."

"You don't mean to say you have come here without being invited?" "As I was not invited, that was about the only way for me to come," I said. "As I am here, I might as well stay." And I settled myself in the seat at the desk.[Pg 55]

Colonel Train looked at the bookkeeper sorely perplexed. But I saw that he rather admired my persistence and bravado. I had won the first trial of arms.

"Well," said he, after a while, turning again to the bookkeeper, "we shall see if we can find something for you to do." "I will find something to do," I said. He smiled cordially at this, and said: "I will make a man of you." "I will make a man of myself," I replied.

Then the colonel asked Mr. Nazro, who had been the firm's bookkeeper for many years, to try to find something for me to do.

It so happened that the ship Anglo-Saxon had just arrived from Liverpool, Captain Joseph R. Gordon, with goods for 150 consignees. Mr. Nazro handed me the portage bill showing the amount to be collected from each of the 150 consignees. The amounts were set down in English money, and Mr. Nazro asked me to put them into American, or Federal, money. I fancied he was setting me what would prove to be an impossible task, just to dispose of me for all time. But he blundered, if this was his purpose. I had had some experience of English money at the grocery store, having often to change it into American money.

I coolly asked Mr. Nazro what was the prevailing rate of exchange, and he replied that it was $4.80 to the pound. "That is just 24 cents to the[Pg 56] shilling, two cents to the penny," I said, and went to work. It was then noon. It would have taken some clerks a week to do the task; but I had completed it by six o'clock that afternoon.

When I handed the list back to him, he asked, with an astonished air, if I had finished it. "You can see for yourself," I replied. "There it is, all made out properly and correctly." "How do you know it is right?" said he. "Because I have proved it," I replied.

This little task decided my fate. Mr. Nazro told me the office hours were from eight until six, with the rest of the time, the evenings, all my own.

The next morning I arrived at the office promptly, and asked Mr. Nazro what I was to do. He handed me a package of bills. I saw they were the bills upon which I had worked the day before, changing English to American currency. There were 150 of them. Each was to contain the amount that must be collected from each of the consignees. I at once set to work on this new task, and completed it in less time than it had taken me to change the money. I went with the bills to Mr. Nazro, and asked what I was to do next. He gave me a collector's wallet into which to put the bills, and told me to go out and collect the amounts due. This was a staggerer, but I set about the difficult undertaking without any feeling of discouragement.

At that time Boston was a strange city to me.[Pg 57] It is true that I had lived on the edge of it for years; but my ceaseless work at the grocery store had kept me from roaming over the town and learning anything about it. The only section I was at all familiar with was the neighborhood of the old Quincy Market, to which I had driven so many wagon-loads of garden and farm "truck" in my boyhood days. I was as green as a genuine countryman who had come to town for the first time in his life. I knew not a soul in the city. But off I started, nothing abashed, with the great wallet of bills under my arm. I intended to succeed at this task.

I soon picked out my course through the city. I worked through street after street, and collected as I went. I did not stop, but kept steadily on, and in the afternoon found myself at the end of the list. I had collected nearly every bill.

I returned to the office and handed the wallet and money to Mr. Nazro. Again he was astonished. He asked if I had collected all the bills, and when I told him nearly all, he asked me for the list. I said I had made out none, as it was not necessary. There was all the money; he could count it, and compare with the list on his books. He was very much surprised, but counted the money, and found it correct to a cent. I did not need a list, I told him, because I could carry the whole thing in my head.

From that day to this I have done everything[Pg 58] I have undertaken in my own way, and have found that it was the best way—at least, for me.

My next duty was to see that every one of the 150 consignees received the goods that were billed to him. This gave me opportunity for meeting a large number of important persons. Among the rest, I met Nathaniel P. Banks, who was a Custom-House official at the time, and the great writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom I saw in the Custom-House on a visit from Salem. He had been appointed by President Polk. Of course I knew nothing about him at the time, although he was then writing his greatest work, and perhaps was casting in his mind The Scarlet Letter. He had only just begun to be famous—an interesting fact enough, but one I did not learn till long afterward. He seemed very unassuming, and not in very affluent circumstances. I suppose his salary from the Government at the time was not more than $1,000 a year.

My life in the old shipping house of Train & Co., in Boston, lasted some four years. The first vessel that came in, after I began working with the company, was the Joshua Bates, named after the American partner of the famous house of the Barings. It was of 400 tons, quite a big ship for the time. The next was the Washington Irving, 500 tons; and the third was the Anglo-Saxon, the bills of which, on a previous voyage, I had made out in my trial under Mr. Nazro. The[Pg 59] Anglo-Saxon was lost the following year—this was in '46—off Cape Sable, with several passengers, the captain and crew escaping. After this the Anglo-American came in, then the Parliament, the Ocean Monarch, and the Staffordshire. All of these were famous ships in their day.

In '48, I was at the pier one day on the lookout for the Ocean Monarch. Although the telegraph had been established in '44, it had not been brought from Nova Scotia to Boston, and we had only the semaphore to use for signaling. When a ship entered the harbor, the captain would take a speaking-trumpet and, standing on the bridge, shout out the most interesting or important tidings so that the news would get into the city before the ship was docked. The Persia was also due, with Captain Judkins, and it came in ahead of the Ocean Monarch. Some three or four thousand persons were on the pier waiting eagerly for the captain's news. I was at the end of the pier, and saw Captain Judkins place the trumpet to his lips, and heard him shout the tidings. And this is what I heard:

"The Ocean Monarch was burned off Orm's Head. Four hundred passengers burned or drowned. Captain Murdoch taken off of a spar by Tom Littledale's yacht. A steamer going to Ireland passed by, and refused to offer assistance. Complete wreck, and complete loss."

The captain shouted hoarsely, like a sentence[Pg 60] of doom from the "last trump." Every one was stunned. The scene was indescribable, both the dead silence with which the dreadful tidings were received, and the wild excitement that soon burst forth.

I took advantage of the awed hush of the people, and rushed toward the street end of the pier. There I leaped on my horse that was waiting for me, and galloped off. Crossing the ferry, I went madly through Commercial Street, up State Street, and to the Merchants' Exchange. There I mounted a chair, and amid a great hush, shouted out the tidings, word for word, and in almost the exact intonation the captain had used.

One day a gentleman, looking like a farmer, came into the office and asked to see Mr. Train. I remember that it was the 5th of October, '47. I replied to his question that my name was Train. "I mean the old gentleman," he said.

I told him that Colonel Train was out of the office at the time, but that as I had charge of the ships, I might be able to attend to his business. But I added that I was in a hurry, as the Washington Irving was to sail in an hour. "That is just what I am here for," said he. "I want to sail on that ship; I want passage for England."

I told him there was one state-room left, and that he could have both berths for the price of one—$75, but that he must get aboard in great haste, as everything was ready and the ship waiting for[Pg 61] final orders. He said he was ready, and I started to fill up a passenger slip. "What is your name?" I asked. "Ralph Waldo Emerson," he replied.

Then he took out of his pocket an old wallet, with twine wrapped around it four or five times, opened it carefully, and counted out $75. I could not wait to see whether it was correct, but threw it in the drawer, and took him on board.

Mr. Emerson was then starting on his famous visit to England, during which he was to visit Carlyle. He afterward mentioned the occurrence in his English Traits, where he said: "I took my berth in the packet-ship Washington Irving." From the moment when I thus met Emerson for the second time, I began to take great interest in him, read him carefully, and have continued to read him throughout my life. He has had more influence upon me than any other man in the world.

We once chartered the ship Franklin to take a cargo of tar, pitch, and turpentine from Wilmington, N. C., consigned to the Baring Brothers, London, and return with a cargo of freight. She was about due from England, thirty-five days having elapsed since she had started to return. By this time I had been placed in charge of all the shipping, and I was on the lookout for the Franklin. One day the news came by semaphore that a large ship had been wrecked just off the light[Pg 62]house, while coming into Boston harbor. It was not known what ship it was. The sender of the message asked if Train & Co. had a ship due. I thought at once it might be the Franklin, making a somewhat faster passage than we had expected.

The next day some of the wreckage came into the harbor, and, strangely enough, a piece of the floating timbers bore the name Franklin on it. I was at the pier when this discovery was made, and rushed at once to the insurance office to see whether the policy covering the freight had been arranged. It was all right. On the following day, to the astonishment of all Boston, the valise of one of the officers of the Franklin was washed ashore at Nantasket. In it were many letters, and among them were instructions telling how "to sink the vessel off the lighthouse, as she was fully insured." When the ship went down the captain was drowned with the rest of the crew and the passengers.

I saw at once that here was a case of barratry of the master, and that the letter would jeopardize the whole affair of the insurance. It was a matter that needed prompt and able legal work. I hastened to the office of Rufus Choate, the most famous lawyer in New England of that time. I hurriedly explained to Mr. Choate that we had lost a ship, and needed a lawyer. "Will you accept a retainer of $500?" I added. He accepted it at once, and turned to his desk to write out a re[Pg 63]ceipt. I said there was no necessity for a receipt, as the check would be receipt enough, and hurried away.

I then went directly across the street to the office of Daniel Webster, who was then practising law in Boston. I was particularly anxious to have Mr. Webster retained. I remember now the roar of his great, deep voice as he responded to my knock with a "Come in" that was like a battle peal. And I recall well the picture of the great man, as I saw him for the first time. He sat at his flat desk, a magnificent example of manhood, his massive head set squarely and solidly upon his shoulders. He did not have very much business in those days, and the clients that found a way to his office were few.

"Mr. Webster," I said, "we want your services in a very important case. Will you accept this as a retainer?" I handed him a check for $1,000. He accepted it very promptly, and it seemed to me at the time that the check loomed large to him. Such sums came seldom.

One incident in the trial of the case impressed me deeply. It was the masterly manner in which Mr. Choate examined the witnesses. He had the reputation of being the most effective cross-examiner in New England. Before him, in the witness-box, stood one of the owners. Mr. Choate wanted to confuse him in his testimony as to the way in which he had done a certain thing. He began by[Pg 64] asking the longest and most complex question that I ever heard. It wound all around the case, and straggled through every street in Boston. "You say," Mr. Choate began, "you say that you did so and so, that you went to such and such a place, that after this you did so and so, and thus and so," and he kept on asking him if after doing this and that if such and such was not the case, until there was no answering the question, or understanding it.

But Mr. Choate had tackled the wrong man for once. The man was an Irishman, and the most nonchalant person I ever saw. Nothing seemed to confuse him. While Mr. Choate was firing his complicated questions at him, he sat perfectly unmoved, unshaken. He seemed to be taking it all in. Then when the astute lawyer had finished, the witness looked at him quietly, and said: "Mr. Choate, will yez be after rapatin' that again?"

Bar and bench and spectators broke into roars of laughter. For once Mr. Choate was confused. But we won the case, as was to be expected, thanks to our matchless array of legal ability.

We had two ships engaged in making what was known as "the triangular run"—from Boston to New Orleans, New Orleans to Liverpool, and Liverpool back to Boston. They were the St. Petersburg, built in '40 for the cotton trade, and having for a figurehead the head and shoulders of the Emperor Nicholas; and the Governor Davis, named[Pg 65] for the governor of the Bay State, whose son is now living at Newport. Once we were expecting the Governor Davis to arrive at New Orleans, where the freight rates were higher than they had been in many years—three farthings the pound. The vessel was to be loaded with cotton for Liverpool. We were elated at the prospect of big profits, when a telegram came from our agent, Levi H. Gale, at New Orleans. It read: "The Governor Davis is burned up."

Our hearts sank. A fortune had been lost, or at least the opportunity to make one. I went immediately to the insurance office to see that the policies were all right, and found them in good shape. Then it occurred to me that there might be a possibility of error in the message. Eager with my thought, I rushed to the telegraph office and asked to have the message repeated carefully, no matter what it might cost. After awhile there came back what had been a terrifying message in this new form: "The Governor Davis is bound up." The vessel was safe, and so were our profits.

My connection with the packet lines brought me into contact with many prominent business men of Boston. Very often I was able to do some little thing for them, and once a very amusing incident occurred in connection with the attempt of Mr. Milton, of the firm of Milton, Cushman & Co., to get some English pigs for breeding purposes. I had charge of the catering for our vessels, and[Pg 66] made the purchases. Mr. Milton asked me to get him some English pigs, and I promised that we would bring some over by the very next ship. As the vessels were out for quite a time, we frequently carried live animals aboard for food, and usually hogs and pigs. It so happened that on this particular trip, when going east, one of the sows gave birth to a litter of pigs. They were taken to Liverpool. By some mistake they were brought back and delivered to Mr. Milton. He prized them very highly, until later on he discovered that they were American pigs, born under the American flag on the high seas. The mistake subjected him to much good-natured chaffing. No one forgot the incident during the old gentleman's life.

Of course, there was always present the temptation to do a little business on my own account, during my connection with the Train Packet Lines. Indeed, the desire to do this, and the experience I got in it, were the foundations of my subsequent business success. It was inevitable that I should have undertakings of my own.

My first speculation was the shipment of a cargo of Danvers onions to Liverpool in consignment of Baring Brothers. I was eager to have my first venture turn out a success. The onions were packed carefully in barrels, and I saw myself that they were in the best condition before they were shipped. I felt as if I had taken every precaution,[Pg 67] and that I was assured of a pretty good thing. Then came the news from England: "Onions arrived; not in good order. Debit, £3 17s. 6d."

That was the disappointing result of my first venture. I was a loser. Years afterward, when I was launching shipping lines between Australia and America, I cited this little experience of mine as an example of what might be expected by many who sent cargoes to the other end of the world.

My second venture proved more successful. This was the shipping of fish on ice to New Orleans. It paid me well. But my real career as a shipper started in quite another and different way. I am ashamed to confess how I began this career, which made me a shipper of cargoes to the other end of the earth. But as I was too ignorant at the time to know much better, or, indeed, to give any thought at all to the matter, I shall, in the interest of truth, make a full confession. I became a smuggler of opium into China!

It happened in this way. One of our captains, who was about to start with a cargo for the Orient, asked me if I did not want to send over something for sale, as he thought a good profit might be made on a shipment of something in demand there. "What would be a good thing to send?" I asked. "Opium," said he laconically.

Opium meant nothing to me then. I had never thought of it in any way other than as a marketable product and an object in cargoes. So I went[Pg 68] to Henshaw's, in Boston, and got three tins of opium, the best he had. This I placed in charge of the captain, and he smuggled it into China, and got a good price for it, to the profit of himself and me.

But the smuggling did not end there. I had instructed him to lay in a supply of curios, silks, and other oriental things, and bring them to Boston. This part of the venture was as successful as the first, and I made quite a snug little sum. It was my first considerable profit. That was in '46-'47.

I do not think any one in good standing in business has an idea now of cheating the Government out of tariff duties. I had not, at that time, the slightest idea that I was doing wrong. I felt entirely innocent of defrauding two governments, and did not realize that I was a smuggler. The wrong of the transaction I fully understood afterward.

But I fear that the moral sense as to smuggling, to use an ugly term, was not so delicate in those days. Even patriotic and good men thought that it was not very bad to bring in articles from Europe and the Orient without stopping to pay the duty levied by the United States. There was no systematic attempt to defraud the Government. There was just no thought at all, except to get in a few luxuries upon which it did not seem worth while to pay the customs dues. I can recall a few[Pg 69] examples of this lax way of treating the tariff regulations. They were the acts of men of great social and business prominence. If done to-day, they would shock the whole country—even the Democratic and low tariff, or no tariff, part of it.

One day a banker, who was a famous figure in Boston, a leader in the world of business, asked me if I could not bring over for him some silver he had ordered sent to the Train offices in Liverpool. I consented. Shortly after this, the steward of the Ocean Monarch told me he had a very heavy package addressed to "George Francis Train." I directed him to bring it into the office. Then I saw that the heavy package was addressed, in the corner, from the shippers to this famous Boston banker. And so, without any intent to defraud the Government on my part, and, I suppose, without any intent on the part of the great banker to do a distinctly wrong act, we had actually conspired to smuggle in some exquisite silver plate for the richest banker in New England, to save a few dollars' tariff duty!

Once while I was in Paris, in '50, I wanted to buy some presents for the young lady to whom I was engaged to be married—Miss Davis—who was then living in Louisville, Ky. I called at the Paris office of a famous American firm of jewelers, and the resident agent took me to a magnificent establishment, where I saw the wealth of a world in gems.[Pg 70]

An amusing thing happened, which I shall relate before I complete the story of this smuggling incident. I asked at once to see the most beautiful things the shop contained, the latest, and most charming. Imagine my surprise and horror when the young girl who was showing me around the shop exhibited to me a package of pictures that would have subjected me to immediate arrest and incarceration had they been found on my person in this city. She explained to me that this was the part of the business in her charge, and that she thought, as I was an American and new to Paris, I wanted to get hold of some startling pictures to carry back to the United States.

Passing through this temptation unscathed, I finally got to the jewels and gems of all sorts, and selected some for my betrothed. I bought about $1,000 worth. Suddenly the agent of an American house turned on me and said he was thinking of sending a present to his firm in New York, and asked if I would not take charge of it and deliver it, or have it delivered direct. Of course I did not know what this meant—that he wanted me to get a package of jewels to his firm without paying the tariff duty. I consented, however, before I went into the ethical question, and brought over, perhaps, a package of splendid and costly diamonds for one of the richest houses in the world.

While in charge of the ships of the house in Boston I had a little yacht, called The Sea Witch,[Pg 71] that I used in boarding vessels in the harbor. One day there arrived a very great man, in my opinion a tower of strength in finance—Thomas Baring, afterward Lord Revelstoke, who succeeded Lord Ashburton as the representative of England in this country. I had prepared to take him on a trip around the harbor, and everything was ready for the sail the following day, when he was suddenly called to Washington, and sent me a note which read as follows:

"Dear Mr. Train:

"As I leave for Washington in the morning, I regret that it will not be possible for me to go with you on The Sea Witch to see Boston harbor. I remember with pleasure the canvasback ducks that you sent to me at London, and which gave me and my friends so much pleasure. I hope to see you on my return.

"Thomas Baring."

The great development of the clippers, the boats that soon made the reputation of the United States on the seas, was due chiefly to the discovery of gold in California. This made it necessary to send a great number of ships to the Pacific coast, and I saw that it was essential to the success of the trade to send large boats that could make profits on this long voyage.

Gold was discovered in '48. At that time our[Pg 72] packets had attained to the size of only 800 tons. They were considered large boats at the time, but now would be called mere tubs. I saw that if we wanted to enter the trade with the Pacific we should have to get larger ships. Our first packets had been built at East Boston by Donald Mackay: the Joshua Bates, 400 tons; the Washington Irving, 500 tons; the Anglo-Saxon, 600 tons; the Anglo-American, 700 tons; the Ocean Monarch, 800 tons. In a few years we had enlarged the packet clipper from a vessel of 400 tons to one of 800 tons, or twice the size. The Ocean Monarch was regarded as a veritable monster of the seas.

When the gold-fever was setting the country frantic, and every one, apparently, wanted to go to California, I said to Mackay: "I want a big ship, one that will be larger than the Ocean Monarch." Mackay replied, "Two hundred tons bigger?" "No," said I, "I want a ship of 2,000 tons." Mackay was one of those men who merely ask what is needed. He said he would build the sort of ship I wanted. "I shall call her the Flying Cloud," I said. This is the history of that famous ship, destined to make a new era in ship-building all over the world.

Longfellow sent me a copy of his poem, The Building of the Ship, which he had written to commemorate the construction of a much smaller vessel. Not only ship-builders, but the whole world, was talking of the Flying Cloud. Her appearance[Pg 73] in the world of commerce was a great historic event.

No sooner was the Flying Cloud built than many ship-owners wanted to buy her. Among others, the house of Grinnell, Minturn & Co., of the Swallow-Tail Line, of Liverpool, asked what we would take for her. I replied that I wanted $90,000, which meant a handsome profit. The answer came back immediately, "We will take her." We sent the vessel to New York under Captain Cressey, while I went on by railway. There I closed the sale, and the proudest moment of my life, up to that time, was when I received a check from Moses H. Grinnell, the New York head of the house, for $90,000.

The Flying Cloud was sent from New York to San Francisco, and made the passage in eighty-six days, with a full cargo of freight and passengers, paying for herself in that single voyage out and back. Her record has not been beaten by any sailing ship in the fifty-three years that have since elapsed.

The building of this vessel was a tremendous leap forward in ship-building; but I was not satisfied. I told Mackay that I wanted a still larger ship. He said he could build it. And so we began another vessel that was to outstrip in size and capacity the great Flying Cloud.

I was desirous to name this ship the Enoch Train, in honor of the head of the Boston house,[Pg 74] and had said as much to Duncan MacLane, who was the marine reporter for the Boston Post. MacLane had usually written a column for his paper on the launching of our ships. He wanted to have something to write about the new vessel. I told him the story of Colonel Train's life, and that we were going to christen the new vessel with his name. I did not consult Colonel Train, thinking that, of course, it was all right.

The Post published a long account of the ship, and gave the name as the Enoch Train. When I went down to the office that morning Colonel Train had not yet arrived, but he soon came in, walking straight as a gun-barrel, and seeming to be a little stiff. "Did you see the Post this morning?" I asked. "Premature," he replied. That was all he said. He would not discuss the matter. I was nettled that he did not appreciate the honor I thought I was conferring on him. It was not for nothing that a man's name should be borne by the greatest vessel on the seas. I said to myself that the name should be changed at once. The ship was to be of 2,200 tons burden, larger than the Flying Cloud and the Staffordshire, both of 2,000 tons, and I decided to call her the Sovereign of the Seas.

The news that we were building a still bigger ship was rapidly circulated throughout the world. Many shipping lines wanted to buy her before she was off the ways. Despatches from New York[Pg 75] shipping lines making inquiry as to price came almost daily. I invariably replied that we would take $130,000. But this was a little too stiff a price at that time, although the Flying Cloud had paid for herself in a single trip. I finally sold her to Berren Roosen, Jr., of Hamburg, Germany, through the brokers Funch & Menkier, of New York, for $110,000. She was entered in my name, although I was at the time only nineteen years of age. I was quite proud to have the greatest vessel then afloat on any water associated with my name. She was sent to Liverpool.

The California business had grown steadily, and the house of Train had taken a leading part in it. One of the biggest of our ships was built expressly for it, and employed on the long run from Boston to San Francisco. This was the Staffordshire, which we had named for the great potteries in England from which we got so much of our import freight. She was of the same size and tonnage as the Flying Cloud—2,000 tons. We sent her to California on her first trip under Captain Richardson, full of freight and passengers. There were three hundred passengers, each paying $300 for the trip around the Horn. This brought us in $90,000, completely paying for the cost of building and equipping, with cash in hand, before she sailed.

The Flying Cloud and the Staffordshire were followed by about forty fast clippers during the[Pg 76] great gold-fever of '49. I was still in my teens, and consider it not an insignificant thing to have accomplished the initiation of this magnificent clipper service which revolutionized sailing vessels all over the world, and gave to America the reputation for building the fastest ships on the seas.

When the California business first opened up, I was bent upon going to the Golden Horn myself. I felt that there was to be a great development in trade and permanent business there, and wanted to "get in on the ground floor." But this was not to be, and my destiny detained me at Boston to take my share in the building of fast clippers and in developing the trade from the Atlantic side of the continent. I saw that MacKondray & Co., and Flint, Peabody & Co., who went to California about this time, were making fortunes out of commissions. I also saw men go there later to become millionaires in a few years—men like John W. Mackay, the pioneer, who died recently in London, worth somewhere approximating $100,000,000, most of it taken out of the Comstock Lode, the last of the "Big Four"—Mackay, Flood, Fair, and O'Brien—all of whom are dead. But my fortunes led in another direction. I was to go East, and not West.

In connection with the clipper service to California, I should mention here the beginning of the Irish immigration to this country, which started at[Pg 77] the time of the gold-fever. I saw that this country was very sparsely populated, that there were vast areas entirely unoccupied, and that there was not only room, but need, for more people. I also had an eye to increasing our own business, as our ships were returning from Liverpool with very few passengers. In casting about in my mind to create business, it occurred to me that the Irish, who were particularly restive and desirous of coming to America, might be turned into passengers for our boats and into settlers of our waste places.

My first step was to engage the services of as many Irish 'longshoremen and stevedores as possible. These were always talking of their friends in Ireland, and their friends in the old country were asking them for information about the United States. I got the 'longshoremen and stevedores to scatter throughout Ireland information about this country and about the way to get here. I then set to work to arrange for giving to the poor Irish immigrants a cheap and convenient means of passage.

I invented the prepaid passenger certificate, and also the small one-pound (English money) bill of exchange. To disseminate information about the plan, I had inserted in the Boston Pilot, the Catholic organ of the day, the following advertisement, it being a letter from the Catholic archbishop:[Pg 78]

"The Boston and Liverpool Packet Line of Enoch Train & Co. have arranged to issue prepaid passenger certificates and small bills of exchange for one pound and upward. This firm is highly respectable, and has established agencies throughout Ireland for the benefit of Irish immigrants.—☨Fitzpatrick, Archbishop of Boston."

This advertisement, and this indorsement from a high Catholic authority, gave a marked impetus to the flow of Irish immigrants into America.[Pg 79]




In '50 it was decided that I should go to Liverpool to take charge of the house there. I asked Colonel Train if I could not first have a holiday, so that I might see a little of my own country. He told me to take two months, and to see as much as I could in that time. My ship was scheduled to sail July 25, '50. This was the only holiday I had had in four years.

I started for New York. After a brief stay there, I went to Cape May. My recollections of that place, which was then the great resort of the Atlantic coast, include a famous score I made in rolling ten-pins. This game was my forte, and I remember that I defeated a party of Philadelphians, scoring strike after strike, and left my score, 290, marked up on the wall. It stood unrivaled for years.

I hurried on to Washington from Cape May. The trip was then made by boat, rail, and stage. As soon as I reached Washington, I called on Dan[Pg 80]iel Webster, then Secretary of State. I was shown into his office, gave him news of New England, and said that every one was discussing his great speech of the 7th of March of that year. He looked at me inquiringly. "Some are hostile toward your sentiments," I said; "but most of the people are with you." "They are talking about it, are they?" This was the only comment he made.

Afterward he introduced me to his wife, Mrs. Leroy Webster, and asked if I would like to meet the President. I was delighted, and said so. "Just wait a moment," he said, and sat down at his desk, took a quill pen and wrote on a sheet of blue paper, nearly a foot square, "To the President of the United States, introducing a young friend of mine from Boston, George Francis Train, shipping merchant, who merely wishes to pay his respects to the president.—Daniel Webster." The large writing covered almost the whole page. I thanked him, and started at once for the White House.

On arriving there, I was at once ushered into the presence of General Taylor, who sat at his desk. The presidential feet rested on another chair. I begged him not to rise, but to let me feel at home, and handed him the letter from Mr. Webster.

At his request, I seated myself opposite him, and from this point of vantage made a hurried study of his appearance. He wore a shirt that was[Pg 81] formerly white, but which then looked like the map of Mexico after the battle of Buena Vista. It was spotted and spattered with tobacco juice.

Directly behind me, as I was soon made aware, was a cuspidor, toward which the President turned the flow of tobacco juice. I was in mortal terror, but I soon saw there was no danger. With as unerring an aim as the famous spitter on the boat in Dickens's American Notes, he never missed the cuspidor once, or put my person in jeopardy.

My conversation—because, I suppose, it was new to him—interested him, and he would not let me go for half an hour. I told him the news of New England, and about my journey to Liverpool and its object. This particularly interested him, and he asked me a hundred questions about the shipping business and the prospects of developing trade with England.

As I was about to leave, I said to him that I prized very highly the letter from Mr. Webster, and should be very glad to be able to keep it; "and I should prize it still more highly, Mr. President, if you would add your autograph to it." "Certainly," he replied, and then took up a quill pen, and wrote "Z. Taylor." He courteously asked me to call to see him again before I left for England.

From the White House, I went direct to the National Hotel, where I asked to see Mr. Clay. I was shown up to his room, and soon stood in the presence of the great Southern orator. I observed[Pg 82] that his shirt also bore the same marks as that of the President—stained and smeared with tobacco juice.

I told him that I was about to start for England, and that, as I had a letter signed by Mr. Webster and the President, I should like to add his signature also. "I believe that two signatures are usually necessary on Mr. Webster's paper," said Mr. Clay with a smile. He then added his autograph to the paper.

Before leaving for Liverpool, I visited Mount Vernon, of course, while in Washington, saw the Georgetown Convent, and, indeed, everything of interest in the capital at that time. Then I went back to New York and up the Hudson to West Point.

My visit to West Point was especially pleasant. I comraded with the cadets, who invited me to sleep in their tent on the campus. Among the young fellows there at the time, who was very pleasant and friendly, was Alfred H. Terry, afterward one of the most distinguished of our officers. I attended the cadets' ball at Cozzens's Hotel, messed with them, and entered into all of their sports and daily routine. I was astonished to notice that in the morning the roar of the gun did not disturb their slumbers, although it shook me from sleep. But the lightest tap of the drum aroused them instantly. It was force of habit, which, I was to learn later, enables men to sleep amid the[Pg 83] roar of artillery on the battlefield, or amid the howling of storms on the ocean. In sleep, as in our waking hours, the trained and disciplined mind hears what it wants to hear.

From West Point I went on to Saratoga Springs. It was my first visit to these famous springs, and I enjoyed it immensely. On the boat up the Hudson I met a beautiful lady, Mrs. Carleton, who was with her sister. Mrs. Carleton was the wife of a wealthy New York merchant, who had a villa on Staten Island. I stopped at Marvin's United States Hotel. This was fifty-two years ago, and the hotel is still there, while Marvin, who entertained me more than half a century ago, died last year, his age somewhere in the nineties. I enjoyed every moment of my stay at Saratoga, for I had never seen anything of social life, and it was all new and delightful. The enormous caravansary, with its throngs of guests, its never-ceasing round of gaiety, and its own liberal life, entranced me. Manners seemed less formal then at the famous spa, and the ladies were pleased to meet any one in the most unconventional and charming way.

As I say, I was very unsophisticated. I knew little or nothing of the "great world," and I was completely horrified one evening when one of the ladies said to me in a whisper: "Can you not get me a glass of brandy?" I had never touched a drop of brandy, whisky, or even wine, and to have[Pg 84] this beautifully dressed and refined lady ask me for a glass of brandy was a decided shock to me. I understand that now, however, it is not very uncommon for ladies to drink wine, whisky, and brandy.

I have seen it stated in the papers recently that the waters at Saratoga have the effect of lessening thirst for more ardent waters of a spirituous nature. I did not happen to observe any such effect of the waters when I was there a half century ago. Drinking was quite general, and certainly little restraint seemed to be practised.

I found in society, as elsewhere in the greater affairs of life, that leadership was wanting. People stood by and waited for some one to take the initiative. One evening one of the ladies said to me that the ball had not been arranged for. I asked what ball, and she said the regular season ball. For some reason, it had not been arranged by the hotel people, and no one seemed disposed to take hold of it. I said, "It should be arranged immediately." I saw a few of the leaders, talked it over with them, and got them together. We brought off the ball—my first experience in these deep waters of social life—with great success. I had then been in Saratoga just two days. While I was there I had the honor of meeting the social leader of Boston, Mrs. Harrison Grey Otis, and the social leader of Philadelphia, Mrs. Rush. There were also present at the Springs many rep[Pg 85]resentatives of the most prominent families in the social life of New York.

I saw in Saratoga the first "gambling hell" that I had ever seen, and I was so green about such things—another tribute to my dear old Pickering grandmother and New England Methodism—that I did not know what a "gambling hell" was when asked if I should like to see one. While I possess an inquisitive nature, I have found it a good rule not to ask too many questions, until you have tried to find out things without betraying your ignorance. I went to the "hell," and was properly shocked. The scene suggested to me the gaming at Monte Carlo. I saw a number of men sitting around a table playing as intently as if their lives depended upon the fall of a card.

My attention was attracted toward a young man, apparently of about twenty-five, who was in a desperate plight. Agony was visibly graved in every feature and in every line of his face. I asked who he was, and heard the name of a distinguished family of northern New York. "What is the matter with him!" I asked. My cicerone seemed astonished at my stupendous ignorance. "Why, can you not see they are 'going through' him?" he said in turn. The expressive term was sufficient even for my unsophisticated mind. It told the whole story, like a "scare-head" in a "yellow" newspaper.

Then I turned from the victim to the predatory[Pg 86] players about him. Who were they? To my surprise, the names were those of men famous the world over as bankers, merchants, and financiers. There was one man that especially interested me. It was the American representative of an English house whose commercial paper our house frequently used. I said to myself, "I will cut his name from our list," and I did—for a time. I learned afterward that banking was only one form of gambling. Great financiers are often clever gamesters—players for desperate stakes, but infinitely better players than their victims. This world of finance is a great Monte Carlo. It was vain to entertain a prejudice against only one of the players.

It was now necessary for me to hurry back to Boston in order to catch the Parliament, on which I had already engaged passage. But before leaving America, I wanted to see something of Canada, and resolved upon a rapid trip to Montreal, especially as I found that I could return to New York that way almost as quickly as to go across the State. I went on to Niagara, and then sailed for Montreal, and had the novel experience of shooting La Chine Rapids, an Indian piloting the boat. This was a great thing in those days, and I was amazed to see how skilfully the Indian guided the boat in and out among the rocks, never doubtful of his course, never touching the edges of the reefs and boulders, never imperiling human life.[Pg 87] I understood that for years these pilots had guided the boats down the rapids without a single accident.

On the boat on which I went down the St. Lawrence I met Captain Stoddard, of the Crescent City Steam Packet, New York and Havana, and Mr. Dinsmore, of the Adams Express Company, with the ladies of their families. We all saw Montreal together, and some members of the party made excursions to places elsewhere. One of these was to the famous Grey Nunnery, the doors of which were closed to the outside world. But these Americans, with true American spirit, expected all doors to open to them, and would not accept the situation.

When they told me of their failure to get into the nunnery, I said I was astonished that the representative of a big steamboat company and of a big express company could not get into any building they wished to enter. "I will show you what I can do," I said. I had already taken thought of the talismanic letter from Daniel Webster, countersigned by the President and Mr. Clay, the three biggest men, in popular estimation, in the United States at that time. As I shall afterward relate, this letter did me a good turn later in Scotland, opening doors to me that were closed to nearly all the world. It was now to serve me well; but this was the first time I had found occasion for its service since leaving Washington.[Pg 88]

I went immediately to the nunnery, where I asked to see the Lady Superior. I told her I had visited the Convent of the Sacred Heart at New York and Georgetown, and that I wanted to see how they compared with this most famous convent in Canada. This did not impress her very much, it seemed to me, and I instantly had recourse to my letter. "As you do not know me," I said, "this letter may serve as a sort of introduction." Then I brought out with a flourish my Webster-Taylor-Clay letter. The doors at once flew open before me! After viewing the interior of the nunnery, I told the Lady Superior that I had a party of friends at the hotel who would like very much to see the building, and that if she would permit me, I should like to bring them around in the morning. She consented, and the next day I took the entire party to the nunnery and we were shown through by the Lady Superior.

My time was now running short, and I had to hasten back to New York, if I wanted to catch the Parliament. I went by way of Lake Champlain, Ticonderoga, and Lake George, and again saw something of Saratoga and the Hudson. At Ticonderoga I had the good fortune to meet Bishop Spencer of Jamaica, and his son-in-law Archdeacon Smith, and we traveled together to Saratoga. Here we met Commodore Trescot, of the Bermuda Yacht Club. I invited them all to dine with me at the George Hotel, at Lake Sara[Pg 89]toga. I was struck by the bishop's dress, for it was the first time I had seen the black knickerbockers and the three-cornered chapeau. I do not mention the dinner—which was not a great affair—merely for the sake of referring to the knickerbockers or the chapeau, but because the bishop pressed upon me a special invitation to call upon him when I came to London.[Pg 90]




From Saratoga, I went down the Hudson to New York, and thence to Boston, where I arrived in time to take the Parliament, Captain Brown, on the 25th of July. I had lived fast in the eight weeks of my holiday. It was the only vacation I had had since I had begun my business life as a grocer boy in Holmes's store, and I had worked hard during that long period. The result was that I sprang back too far, like the released bow, and was soon to see the effects. As my time was so limited, I had tried to make the most of it, and had rushed from place to place, had lived in all sorts of hotels and eaten all sorts of food. Besides, the travel, all of which had been in a whirl of excitement, aided in upsetting my physical system.

A few days on the boat were enough to complete the wreck. I was as badly shaken up as Mont Pelée, and was ill for most of the voyage. When I reached Liverpool, I had lost thirty pounds, and[Pg 91] had to be taken off the steamer, and was carried to the house of Mr. Thayer, the Liverpool partner of Colonel Train. It was two or three months before I completely recovered.

I had hardly reached England before I began to realize that the people there use a somewhat different version of the English language than we are accustomed to in America. My physician was Dr. Archer. He came to see me one morning just after I had had my breakfast, and took his stand immediately before the fire, with his back to it. "I am half starved," he said. I immediately rang the bell, and when the servant came turned to the physician and asked what he would have for breakfast. He said he had eaten breakfast and did not want anything more. "But," said I, "you said you were half starved; surely you must be hungry." He burst into a roar of laughter. "I meant that I was half starved with cold."

With this as a beginning, I began to pick up the vocabulary peculiar to the modern English. My next acquisition was "nasty." I was informed that a rather disagreeable day was a very "nasty" day, and that the weather was simply "beastly." After mastering these three words, which were entirely new to me, and adding such words as I could pick up from the daily speech of the men I met, I was soon able to get along in some fashion with the English of England.[Pg 92]

My first British holiday was spent in Scotland, where I stayed for a week. When I was at Balmoral the Queen happened to be there. Leaving Balmoral, I went to Braemar, on the way to Aberdeen. A number of young students were there at the time, and I spent some moments talking with them. Suddenly, there was a tremendous uproar and excitement, and I saw a four-in-hand drive up. The students informed me that it was the Premier, Lord John Russell, who had just returned from an audience with the Queen at Balmoral. I saw there was a chance for some sport. Turning to the students, with a smile, I said: "I wonder how his lordship knew I had come to Braemar! I hope to have the pleasure of speaking with him."

The students laughed satirically. One of them said: "Look heah, Mr. Train, that sort of thing won't do heah, you know. We don't do things as you do in America." Another suggested that I should not be treated very civilly if I attempted to approach Lord John Russell.

For reply, I took out a card and wrote on it: "An American, in the Highlands of Scotland, is delighted to know that he is under the same roof with England's Premier, Lord John Russell, and, before he goes, would ask the pleasure of speaking with his lordship for a moment." I carefully folded the card in the letter that had been given to me by Mr. Webster, and afterward signed by the[Pg 93] President of the United States and Henry Clay. I sent the two in to his lordship.

In a few minutes the door opened, and the secretary of Lord John Russell came in and asked for "Mr. Train." I said I was Mr. Train. "Lord John Russell," replied the secretary, "waits the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Train of Boston." I followed him out of the room, to the amazement of the young students, who didn't do things that way in England.

His lordship received me with that easy grace and courtesy which I have always observed in Englishmen of high rank. I told him I would not take up any of his time, and that I merely wanted to meet him. He made me talk about the United States, and insisted upon introducing me to his wife. She, also, received me graciously, saying she was "always glad to see Americans." She asked me many questions about this country and especially about Niagara Falls. A half hour passed by before I was aware of the time. I begged pardon for staying so long, and left.

In my book, Young America Abroad, I have referred to this incident and to the courteous reception I met at Braemar. When I had gone around the world, and returned to America, and was at Newport with Colonel Hiram Fuller, in '56, there came to me in the mail one morning a coroneted note. It was from London, and written by Lady Russell.[Pg 94]

"It was so kind of you," it said, "to remember us at Braemar, and to send us your Young America Abroad, which his lordship and I have read with a great deal of pleasure. When you come to London, come to see us.—Fannie Russell."

Our Liverpool office was at No. 5 Water Street, George Holt's building. As soon as I was able to look after the company's interests, I went down to the office and took charge. Mr. Thayer returned to Boston, and later to New York. This left me in complete control. At twenty years of age, I was the manager of the great house of Train & Co., in Liverpool.

I at once began to reorganize things in Liverpool, and to develop our business. I put on two ships a month between Liverpool and Boston, and arranged the James McHenry line to Philadelphia, and sent transient ships to New York. We also had what was known as the "triangular line," handling cotton and naval stores.

Liverpool I found to be a great port, but very much belated. It was too conservative, and the old fogies there were quite content to keep up customs that their ancestors had followed without trying to improve upon them, or to introduce new and better ones. I set to work to improve everything in our business that was susceptible of improvement.

I was astonished, the very first day after I reached the office, to learn that nothing was done[Pg 95] at night. The entire twelve hours from six in the afternoon to six the following morning were absolutely lost, and this in a business that requires every minute of time in the twenty-four hours. Ships can not be delayed, held at ports for day-light, or laid up while men sleep. The work of loading and unloading must proceed with all despatch, if there is to be any profit in handling the business, and ships must be sent on their voyages without loss of valuable time. I had supposed that the English shippers thoroughly understood these simple principles of the business in which they have led the world.

Our vessels were very expensive, and we could not afford to lose the twelve hours of the night. That much time meant a profit to us, and I determined to utilize it. What was my surprise, when I went to the proper authorities, to find that we should not be allowed to light up the Liverpool docks at night, or to have fires on them. It was feared that we should burn the structures and destroy the shipping and docks. These dignified gentlemen even laughed at me for suggesting such a foolhardy undertaking.

I said to myself, there is always one way to reach men, and I will find the way to reach these dignitaries. It occurred to me that I could reach them most surely through a plea for the prosperity of the port. I went at once to the representatives of all the American lines having offices in Liverpool,[Pg 96] to organize them into a combined attack on the Liverpool port authorities. I saw Captain Delano of the Albert Gallatin, Captain French of the Henry Clay, Captain West of the Cope Philadelphia line, Captain Cropper of Charles H. Marshall's Black Ball line, Zerega of the Blue Packet line, and others, and we decided upon asking the dock board to give us a hearing. This the board very readily consented to do.

Prior to this meeting, I went to all the American representatives and outlined my plan of campaign. This was to say very plainly to the dock board that unless we could have fires and lights on the docks we would take the shipping to other ports. The captains and others were astonished, but they agreed to let me approach the board with this plain threat.

I then went to the board, with all the representatives of the American lines, and quietly told the members that we wanted fires and lights on the docks at night, that we needed this in order to carry on our business in our way, and that unless we could have them, we should at once go to other ports. Abandoning a mood of amused laughter, these gentlemen suddenly became very serious. Their hoary customs did not seem so sacred then, and they ended by throwing a complete somersault, and granting us full permission to light up the Liverpool docks at night.

Of course this made a tremendous difference[Pg 97] to all of us. We could now load our ships at night, thus saving one half of the twenty-four hours, which we had been losing. I understand that the Morgan combination, fifty-two years after this, has again forced concessions from the Liverpool dock board by threatening to take the ships to Southampton.

Our principal freight from Liverpool at that time consisted of crockery from the Staffordshire potteries, Manchester dry-goods, and iron and steel, and what were known as "chow-chow," or miscellaneous articles. We often had as many as 150 consignees in a single cargo. Our principal business connections were the firms of John H. Green & Co. and Forward & Co., who shipped pottery; Bailey Brothers & Co., Jevons & Co., A. & S. Henry & Co., Crafts & Stell, Charles Humberston, and John Ireland. Our passenger agent was Daniel P. Mitchell, 18 Waterloo Road.

The first blunder that I made in Liverpool—and the only serious one, I believe—was in connection with shipping emigrants to the United States. One day a man came into the office and said he was from the estate of the Marquis of Lansdowne, and wanted to contract for the shipment of 300 passengers for New York. We soon came to terms, and I chartered the ship President. We charged the Marquis from £3 15s. to £4 a head. I learned afterward that these passengers were poor tenants of his estates. The Marquis of that[Pg 98] time was the grandfather of the present Marquis of Lansdowne, Minister of War in the Salisbury cabinet.

At that time we had to pay $2 a head for all immigrants entering the country. I had tried to get this changed, through Mr. Webster, but had failed. We had also to give bond that the immigrants would not become a public charge. It proved a very expensive contract for us, as we had to bring back many of these paupers for the old Marquis to take care of.

When I left Boston, I had taken a partnership, one sixth interest, in the house of Train & Co. In Liverpool I had twenty-five clerks under me, and at one time had four ships in Victoria Docks. It may be inferred that I conducted the business with some degree of success, as my interest—one sixth—for the first year was $10,000. Next year, when in London, I was invited to a grand reception given by Abbott Lawrence, 138 Piccadilly, who was then United States minister at the court of St. James's. That day I dined with Lord Bishop Spencer of Jamaica, whom I had met in Saratoga, and took Lady Harvey in. This was my acceptance of the invitation he had extended to me in Saratoga. The bishop asked if I was going to the reception of the American minister that night, and, on my saying that I was, asked me to accept a place in his carriage. This I very gladly did, as I had, by this time learned a great deal[Pg 99] about the value of state and ceremony in English life. The sequence will show how this worldly wisdom served me.

At the dinner, however, I had had a very narrow escape. It was the "closest call," as we say in the West, that my temperance Methodist principles ever had. I was asked, as a great mark of distinction, to taste the pet wine of the bishop. The bishop himself acted as chief tempter of my old New England principles. He handed me a glass, saying: "Mr. Train, this is the wine we call the 'cockroach flavor.' I want you to drink some of it with us," and he glanced around his table, at which were seated many titled Englishmen and women.

What was I to do? Should I, caught in so dire an emergency, drown my principles in the cup that cheers and inebriates? Was all my Methodism and New England temperance to go down in shipwreck? The exigency nerved me for the task, and I found a courage sufficient to carry me through. I had never tasted a drop of wine, and I was not going to begin now. I glanced about the room, and slowly raised the glass to my lips. I did not taste the wine, but the other guests thought that I did. "We all know," I said, "that the wine at your lordship's table is the best." This passed without challenge, and, in the ripple of applause, my omission to drink the wine was not observed.

Later in the evening I went with the bishop[Pg 100] to the American minister's reception, and soon saw how well it was that I was in his lordship's carriage. Had I been in a hired cab, I should have fared badly. I should have had to wait in the long line of these vehicles, while flunkeys called out, in stentorian tones as if to advertise all London of the fact that you were in a hired concern, "Mr. Train's cab!" and other flunkeys, down the line, would take up the cry, "Mr. Train's cab!" until one would sink in a fever of chagrin. But as I came in the bishop's carriage, I heard respectful voices announce, "Lord Spencer and Mr. Train."

I observed several ladies bending over an elderly gentleman, and soon another lady asked me if I had seen the duke. As there were two or three dukes present, I asked which one. She looked very much surprised, as if there could be more than one duke in the world. "Why, the Duke of Wellington!" she exclaimed.

I now took occasion to get a good look at the venerable old man. It was the first time, and proved to be the only time, I ever saw him. He would not have impressed me, I think, had it not been for the light of history which seemed, after I once knew it was he, to illuminate his face and frame. It was the last year of his enjoyment of great renown. He died shortly afterward.

While in England, I availed myself of every opportunity to see the country, and study it from every possible point of view. I may add that this[Pg 101] has been my invariable custom in all countries. I have gone through the world as an inquirer and an observer of men and things. As I had visited Scotland, I was desirous of seeing another of the islands, Wales, so I ran down into that curious country on a vacation, in 1850. I went to Bangor, on the Menai Straits, and hardly had got into the hotel when a tremendous commotion in the corridors told me that some guest of unusual importance had arrived. I asked who it was, and was informed that it was the Duke of Devonshire.

"That is exceedingly fortunate for me," I said. "There is no man that I would rather see at this moment than the Duke of Devonshire." At this, my companions—among whom were young Grinnell, of Grinnell, Bowman & Co., whose father sent the Resolute to find Sir John Franklin, young Russell, and young Jevons, an iron merchant—began laughing immoderately. I wrote on a card that an American, who happened to be at the George Hotel when he arrived, would like to see him, if it would not be too great an intrusion upon his time. I added that it had been one of the desires of my life to visit his famous estate at Chatsworth.

This note I sent to the duke by a messenger. Immediately came back a reply that the duke would be very glad to see me, and I was ushered into his presence. He was then an elderly man, his voice tremulous and uncertain. To make it[Pg 102] still more difficult to converse with him, he was deaf, but used an ear-trumpet. I succeeded in telling him that his palace at Chatsworth was well known throughout America by reputation, and that I should like very much to see it, while I was in that part of Great Britain. He replied that I must certainly see it before leaving. He then called to his secretary to bring him a blue card, and wrote upon it a pass to enter the grounds and buildings. This was all very kind, and I thanked him for the courtesy.

He then completely stunned me by saying: "You must see the emperor!" I knew that the Czar of Russia had been his guest, but it was not likely that he was at Chatsworth at that time; so I endeavored to divine what the duke meant. My mind ran over horses, conservatories, and dogs.

I could not, for a moment or two, imagine what "the emperor" could be, and was about to commit myself irrevocably to a conservatory, a favorite horse, or hound; but before making any remark gave him an appreciative smile which seemed to please his grace. He called for the blue card again, and wrote on it: "Let the emperor play for Mr. Train." I learned afterward that it cost the duke $500 to have "the emperor" play, and so much the more appreciated his courtesy. I remarked that I had heard "the emperor" referred to as the highest fountain in all Europe.

As soon as I got back to Liverpool, I made up[Pg 103] a little party to visit Chatsworth. When we reached the station I was astonished to see almost a regiment of uniformed servants waiting to meet us. I was even more astounded when the head of this body-guard of retainers approached and asked, in the most deferential manner: "When will your royal highness have luncheon?" I saw, of course, that they were taking me for some one else, and remarked that they were perhaps waiting for the arrival of the Prince of Hesse-Cassel, whom I had just seen at the hotel. The prince came up almost immediately afterward, and had the pleasure of seeing "the emperor" play, by special authority, on my card from the duke.

The palace is a magnificent residence, so far exceeding anything of the kind in England at that time, that George IV. is said to have felt offended when invited there, because his own residence was shabby in comparison. I made the acquaintance at Chatsworth of Sir Joseph Paxton, who the following year modeled the entire glass system of the first Crystal Palace at London. I was to see something of the Crystal Palace the next year.

Six years after this, when I published my book, Young America Abroad, I sent a marked copy to the Duke of Devonshire, and he wrote me a letter in which he said: "I am an old man now, sixty-two, but I have not forgotten the delightful day when I met you on the Menai Straits."

One day, in my office in Liverpool, I received[Pg 104] a card from the Secretary, inviting me to the exhibition in London, and Mr. Riddle of Boston, who was then on his way to London, asked me to be present on the day when the Queen was to come, which was the day before the opening. I went to London, and that was the first and the only time I ever saw Queen Victoria. She was with Prince Albert, and they were accompanied, I remember, by a brilliant staff.

I recall an incident during my visit to London on this occasion which aptly illustrates the want of suggestiveness on the part of Englishmen. They are content to go along in old ruts, provided only they be old enough. Frank Fuller was the contractor for the Crystal Palace, and a problem arose, in the construction, as to what to do with a certain beautiful and aged elm that had been an object of reverence and stood in the way of the proposed building. It had finally been decided to cut it down, in order to get it out of the way.

"What!" said I, "cut it down—this exquisite tree?" Some one remarked that the authorities did not wish to cut it down, but it stood directly in the way of the great palace, and would have to be sacrificed. "The palace is here for time," I said, "and this tree may be here for eternity. Spare the tree." "But how?" they asked. They were bewildered—did not have a thought of what to do, except to hew down the venerable tree. "Build your palace around it," I said. This simple[Pg 105] device had not occurred to them, but it saved the elm.

Mr. Fuller was so pleased by the suggestion, that he began asking me about hotels in America, and proposed that I undertake the building of an American hotel in London. I said that some time I should, perhaps, try the experiment, but that for the present my shipping business would keep me fully occupied.

I might as well mention here, although it is not in its chronological order, my later experience in trying to establish an American hotel in London. It was seven years after the exhibition when the question of an American hotel came up again. I had worked up the plan very thoroughly, and had some of the most prominent and influential men in England as directors of the proposed company. We had, also, obtained options on several acres of desirable land in the Strand as a site. In the board of directors was Lord Bury, private secretary of the Queen, son of the Earl of Albemarle; Mark Lemon, of Punch; and others. The only obstacle to our success was the passage of a bill through Parliament authorizing us to occupy the land. The hotel caused a great sensation in London, and there was much talk of it as a daring and not altogether agreeable invasion of England by Americans. On the other hand, there was much commendation, and George Augustus Sala, the leading editorial writer of the Telegraph, wrote a[Pg 106] letter in which he mentioned my name as a guaranty that the hotel would be built and would succeed, as, he said, I had succeeded in everything.

Matters were well advanced, and it looked as if we should have the hotel. I wanted it constructed along distinctly American lines, and sent to Paran Stevens to get from him the plans of his three hotels, the Revere House in Boston, the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, and the Continental in Philadelphia. We had everything in readiness, when the news came that the bill had failed in the House of Lords by sixteen votes, although the House of Commons had passed it. I came as near as that to building the first American hotel in London. Fifty years later, the Hotel Cecil was built, a half century after I had suggested the idea and perfected the plan.

My experience in Saratoga had revealed to me the want of suggestiveness and resource in men in general. They will continue doing the same thing in the same old way generation after generation, without taking thought for improving methods in the interest of economy, of time, and of money. I have, from time to time, suggested a large number of little improvements, mechanical or other devices, for which I have never taken out patents or received a cent of profit in any way. I shall bring together here a few of these suggestions, made at different times and in different countries.

I used to go to the old cider-mill at Piper's,[Pg 107] about a half mile from our farm. We went in an ox-cart, filled with apples. When we got to the cider-mill, all we had to do was to pull out a peg, and the apples would roll out into the hopper of the mill.

When I came to New York years afterward I was astonished to notice that there were a half-dozen men around every coal-cart, unloading the coal. I thought of the ox-cart, the peg, and the hopper, which I had used thirty years before. I suggested the use of a device for letting the coal run from the cart into the cellar, but could not get any one to listen to the proposition. Now, years after my suggestion, all of these carts in New York and other large cities of America have small scoops running from the cart to the coal-hole, and a single man unloads the cart by winding a windlass and lifting the front end of the wagon. In London they still keep up the old, clumsy, and expensive method of unloading with sacks. The English are in some things where we were a century ago.

Once in London I was astonished to see a man, after writing something with a lead-pencil, search through his pockets for a piece of india-rubber with which to erase an error. He had lost it, and could only smudge the paper by marking out what he had written. I said to him: "Why don't you attach the rubber to the pencil? Then you couldn't lose it." He jumped at my suggestion, took out a[Pg 108] patent for the rubber attachment to pencils, and made money.

When Rowland Hill, the great English postal reformer, introduced penny-postage into England, he found it necessary to employ many girls to clip off the stamps from great sheets. I took a sheet of paper to him, and showed him how easy it would be by perforation to tear off the stamps as needed. He adopted my idea; and now a single machine does the whole work.

I noticed one day in England a lot of "flunkeys" rushing up to the carriages of titled ladies and busying themselves adjusting steps, which were separate from the carriage, and had been taken along with great inconvenience. I said to myself, why not have the steps attached? and I spoke about the idea to others. It was taken up, and carried out. Now every carriage has steps attached as a part of the structure.

In '50, I was with James McHenry in Liverpool, and in trying to pour some ink from a bottle into the ink-well, the bottle was upset, and the ink spilled all over the desk. This was because too much ink came from the mouth. "Give the bottle a nose, like a milk pitcher," I said; "then you can pour the ink into the well easily." Holden, of Liverpool, took up the idea, and patented it, and made a fortune out of it.[Pg 109]




After the first short stay in Saratoga during my vacation trip in America, I had started for a journey West; and was soon to meet with an experience that turned the current of my life. At Syracuse I saw a half dozen students talking to a lovely girl, bidding her good-by. Her appearance struck me in a peculiar way. I turned to Alfredo Ward, who, with his wife, was traveling with me, they having just come from Valparaiso, Chili. "Look at that girl with the curls," said I. "Do you know her?" he asked. "I never saw her before," I answered, "but she shall be my wife."

I was quite ready to abandon the remainder of my Western trip, to get an opportunity to meet this girl. Taking my grip up hurriedly, I rushed over to the train she was on, supposing she was going to New York. I soon discovered that she was going the other way, and ran through in my mind the chances I could take, the risks I could[Pg 110] run, and so took an opportunity by the throat. I knew that I was not compelled to leave Boston until July 25, and so I had ample time to get to my ship.

I entered the car where the girl was, and found a vacant seat opposite her. An elderly gentleman was with her, whom I took to be her father. I selected the seat opposite with the deliberate purpose of making the acquaintance of the pair at the first opportunity that occurred or that I could create.

My chance came sooner than I expected. The elderly gentleman tried to raise the sash of the window, and could not move it; it had, as usual, stuck fast. I sprang lightly and very quickly across the aisle and said, "Permit me to assist you," and adding my youthful strength to his, raised the window. Both he and the young lady thanked me. The old gentleman went further and asked me to take the seat directly opposite him and the young lady, on the same side of the car. I did so, and we entered into conversation immediately. I continued my speculations as to the relationship that existed between them. The gentleman seemed rather elderly for her husband, and she too young to be married at all. He did not look exactly as if he were her father.

Mrs. George Francis Train

Mrs. George Francis Train.

Before I could determine this question for myself, he came to my assistance, and told me the young lady was the daughter of Colonel George [Pg 111]T. M. Davis, who was captain and aide-de-camp, under General Scott, in the Mexican War, and afterward chief clerk in the War Department at Washington. He introduced himself as Dr. Wallace, and said that he was taking Miss Davis to her home in the West. I also learned that they were going to Oswego, where they would take a boat. I immediately exclaimed that I, also, was going in that direction, and was delighted to know we should be fellow passengers. In such matters—for love is like war—quickness of decision is everything. I would have gone in any direction, if only I could remain her fellow passenger.

And so we arrived at Niagara Falls together. Dr. Wallace was kind enough to permit me to escort his charge about the Falls, and I was foolish enough to do several risky things, in a sort of half-conscious desire to appear brave—the last infirmity of the mind of a lover. I went under the Falls and clambered about in all sorts of dangerous places, in an intoxication of love. It was the same old story, only with the difference that our love was mutually discovered and confessed amid the roaring accompaniment of the great cataract. We were at the Falls forty-eight hours, and before we left we were betrothed.

Soon afterward I sailed for London, as already set forth. It was not till '51 that I came back to America, principally for the purpose of marry[Pg 112]ing Miss Davis and taking her back to England with me.

I arrived in Boston shortly before the celebration of Bunker Hill Day, which was always a great occasion in that city. General John S. Tyler was grand-marshal of the day, and he appointed me one of his aides. It was a time when young people were usually left out of all public business arrangements. Only the middle-aged or old took part in anything of the spectacular nature in this great parade. Probably I attracted a great deal of attention, therefore, because of my youth, being then only twenty-one.

In truth, I felt a little flattered by the appointment, and determined to make as good a show as possible. Having been born and reared on a farm, I knew how to ride, so I got the stableman to give me the finest stepper he could furnish. He found a beautiful animal, with a frolicsome spirit, and I felt that I should prove at least a good part of the exhibition. I was decked in a flowing red, white, and blue sash that swept below the saddle-girths, and my horse was a proud-looking and dainty-paced beast. With a little rehearsing of my part, I was fully prepared.

On the occasion of the parade, I am quite sure, I was the observed of many observers. The spectators were let into the mystery of the beautiful caracoling and dancing of my horse, whom I touched occasionally with the spur in a particular[Pg 113] way, and who acquitted himself with great credit. The populace thought he was trying to unseat me, or to run away, and that it was only by excellent horsemanship that I was able to hold my seat and look like a centaur. I am ashamed to say, at this far distance in retrospect, that it was a proud moment for me, and that I took so much pleasure in so idle and empty a show. But youth must be served.

I had charge of the Colonial Governors, who were the guests of the city, and of the President, and I escorted them from Boston to Charlestown. There were Sir John A. MacDonald, of Canada; Governor Tilly, of New Brunswick; the Honorable Joseph Howe, ex-Governor of Nova Scotia; and Millard Fillmore, President of the United States. President Fillmore and Sir John MacDonald rode on the back seat of the first carriage, and Howe and Tilly on the front seat. Somehow, Boston seemed to regard the colonial officials as equal to, if not a little better than the President. I suppose this was because of the sentiment of Bunker Hill, and because the presence of British representatives was a matter of pride and gratification.

But the day was to end in gloom. As I was in the midst of the gaiety and at the height of my exultation, a messenger handed me a despatch. I tore it open, and found that it was from a friend in Louisville, Ky., and contained a warning. Miss[Pg 114] Davis, to whom I was betrothed, lived in Louisville, and I was soon to marry her there. The telegram urged me to hasten my journey, as the report of the coming marriage had created a great deal of bad feeling. My friend advised me to lay aside everything and go to Louisville with all possible despatch.

I could not imagine, at first, what this meant. It seemed to convey only some presage of disaster. I left the gay scenes of the parade and hurried to my room at the hotel. There I made instant preparation for a trip to Louisville.

Before leaving Boston, however, I learned what it was that had caused my friend in Louisville so much concern. Some time before, there had been a marriage of a Kentucky girl with a Northerner—the much-talked of wedding of Bigelow Lawrence and Miss Sallie Ward. It had aroused a great deal of bitter feeling, because of the increasing tension and friction between the North and the South. This was none of my affair; nor did I share the feeling on either side. Indeed, at that time, I knew little and cared less about the sectional differences between the North and South. The only interest I had in the South at that time was a commercial one in our shipping business, and the more personal interest attaching to that portion of the South that held my future wife.

My own approaching marriage to Miss Davis[Pg 115] had, it seems, been regarded as of sufficient importance to arouse the same feeling that had been created by the Lawrence-Ward marriage. My friends were manifesting much solicitude. What most alarmed them was the fact that a number of gallant Kentuckians were trying to marry Miss Davis themselves, and thus patriotically save her for the South. Among these patriots were Senator James Shields, Mexican hero of Belleville, Ill., Lieutenant Merriman of the navy, and an officer of the army. There was, also, a suitor from my side of the line—"Ned" Baker, of Springfield, Ill., who was afterward United States consul-general at Montevideo. In her letters to me she had mentioned all of these gentlemen, but I was not particularly anxious about the matter, feeling that there was safety in numbers. But now that my friends were interesting themselves, I thought it full time that I should be looking after affairs myself.

I was doomed to suffer from the inconsistency of woman. When I reached Louisville I wrote to her, mentioning the reports sent me by friends. This angered her. She became indignant because I had taken any notice of these rumors, and refused to see me on that day. But on the following day she was in a milder mood, ready to see me. This meeting put to rest forever all doubts, suspicions, and jealousies, and my fears melted into thin air.[Pg 116]

But for all this, I was determined to take no further chances with three or four rivals, and decided that I should not again leave my affianced bride behind me. I insisted upon an immediate ceremony, and we were married by the rector of the Episcopal church in Louisville, October 5, '51. Her father, Colonel George T. M. Davis, was then editor of Haldeman's Louisville Courier. Belle Key, the famous Kentucky beauty, whose sister, Annie Key, married Matthew Ward, who killed a Kentuckian in a duel, was my wife's bridesmaid, and Sylvanus J. Macey, son of William H. Macey, was groomsman. My wife was only seventeen years old. She was very beautiful. Her picture appeared in the Book of Beauty the following year.

We came east from Louisville on our wedding journey, stopping at Cincinnati, where I had a curious experience. The Burnett House was the most popular hotel in the city at that time, and we stayed there. It had just fitted up the first "bridal chamber" in this country, if not in the world. Every little hotel has one now; but then such a thing was unheard of, so far as I have been able to ascertain. At any rate, Mr. Drake, the clerk, asked me if I did not wish to take the "bridal chamber." He told me it was the only one in the world. As I was ever keen and ready for a novelty, I replied that of course I would.

I had already been in a great many hotels in[Pg 117] this country. The prevailing rate of charge was about $2 a day, at that time. I supposed that this splendid room would cost a little more, being a special apartment—perhaps about $5 a day. It cost $15! But I was willing to pay for the honor of occupying the first "bridal chamber" in the world.

From Cincinnati, we came directly on to Boston, and stayed at the Winthrop House, where I had been before. I soon had a conference with the Boston house which I represented, and it was determined that I should return to Liverpool and resume charge of the branch there, but in somewhat different and better circumstances. I returned in '52. The ship we sailed on was the Daniel Webster, built by Donald Mackay in East Boston, and which I had named in special honor of my friend, the great Daniel. Captain Howard was in command.

The trip was destined to be eventful. Five days after leaving Boston we ran into a heavy gale from the west. Our boat was very sturdy, and we had no fears, but I knew that many smaller and less seaworthy ships would suffer in such a driving storm. We were, therefore, on the lookout for vessels in distress.

For the greater part of the time, during the height of the gale, I stood on the bridge closely scanning the horizon line in front. Suddenly something seemed to rise and assume form out[Pg 118] of the storm-wrack, and this gradually grew into the shape of a vessel. I saw that it was a wreck, shouted to the captain, but he, looking in the direction, could make out nothing. My eyes seemed to be better than his, although his had been trained by long practise at sea. He could not see much better when he got his glasses turned in the direction I indicated, but finally he discovered the vessel, though he did not seem desirous of leaving his present course to offer assistance.

I insisted that we should go to the rescue of the ship and her crew, and he turned and said: "Mr. Train, we sea captains are prevented from going to the rescue of vessels, or from leaving our course, by the insurance companies. We should forfeit our policy in the event of being lost or damaged."

"Let me decide that," said I. "We can not do otherwise than go to the assistance of these persons." And we went. The Webster bore swiftly down upon the wreck, which proved to be in worse plight than I had imagined. She was buffeted about by the waves, and seemed in peril of going down at any moment. Men and women were clinging to her rigging, hanging over her sides, and trying to get spars and timbers on which to entrust themselves to the sea. The doomed vessel was the Unicorn, from an Irish port, bound for St. John's, N. B., with passengers and railway iron. This iron had been the cause of the wreck,[Pg 119] for in the rough weather it had broken away from its fastenings, or "shipped," as the sailors express it, and had broken holes in the sides of the boat and overweighted it on one side.

A brig that had sighted the Unicorn before we came up had taken off a few of the passengers—as many as it could accommodate. The Unicorn was a small vessel, and there seemed little chance for the rest of the passengers unless we could reach them. The sea was running very swift and high, and it was not possible to bring the Webster close to the side of the Unicorn. To make matters worse, the sailors had found that there was whisky in the cargo, and in their desperation, drank it without restraint. They were, consequently, unmanageable. They could not help us to assist the miserable passengers on their own boat.

There was nothing else to be done except to get into our small boats and try to save as many passengers as possible. The captain got into one boat and I into another, and we were rowed to the side of the Unicorn. There we discovered that many had already perished. Dead bodies were floating in the sea about the ship. We tried to get up close enough to reach the passengers, but found it impossible.

"Throw the passengers into the sea," I shouted to the captain of the Unicorn, "and we will pick them up. We can't get up to you." In this way, the crew of the Unicorn throwing men and women[Pg 120] into the sea, and our boats picking them up, we succeeded in saving two hundred. All the rest—I do not know how many—were drowned. We finally got these two hundred persons safely on board the Daniel Webster.

Here we discovered other difficulties, and it seemed, for a time, as if starvation might do the work that had been denied to the waves. There was, also, the question of accommodations; but we solved this problem by taking some of our extra sails and tarpaulin and rigging up a protection for them on the deck and in the hold, so that we made them all fairly comfortable. The problem of food was far more difficult. We simply had no food, the captain said. There was hardly more than enough for the crew and passengers of our own vessel, as the delay caused by the rescue and the departure from our course had made an extra demand upon supplies.

Here a happy thought occurred to me. We happened to be carrying a cargo of corn-meal. I had heard that the Irish, in one of their famines, had been fed with corn-meal, learning to eat and even to like it.

"Open the hatches!" I cried, with the enthusiasm of the philosopher who cried "Eureka." The problem of food was soon solved. Two of the barrels were cut in half, making four tubs. From the staves of other barrels we made spoons, and from the meal we made mush which the half-[Pg 121]starved men, women, and children ate with great relish. They lived on it until we got them safely landed on English soil, the entire two hundred persons reaching port without the loss of a single soul.

This was my first service at a rescue, and, of course, I was proud of it. Captain Howard received a handsome medal from the Life Saving Society of England, and the incident greatly increased the reputation of our packets.

On arriving at Liverpool, we went to No. 153 Duke Street, a house then kept by Mrs. Blodgett, whose husband saw service as consul in Spain. This house was at that time the favorite resort of American sea captains and shipping men, and was a sort of central point for all Americans in Liverpool. John Alfred Marsh, who had been with us in Boston, was with me in Liverpool at this time, in the branch of our house there; and I think he is the only man living among all of my friends of that year. He is now connected with the Guion Line steamships.

During the first year in Liverpool after my marriage, I had a peculiar and interesting experience with the science of phrenology. At that time every one was talking about its "revelations," and I became somewhat interested in it. My interest came chiefly, however, through James McHenry, whose line of ships to Philadelphia I had charge of. He suggested one day that I go[Pg 122] to a phrenologist, saying that I had a most curious head. Up to this time, I had not taken any stock in the science, which I set down as charlatanry and mountebankism. But he insisted, and finally I consented to go with him to Bridges, then the most famous phrenologist in Liverpool or in the west of England.

Bridges astonished me so greatly by telling me things about myself that I had supposed no one knew but I, that my interest was awakened. Still I thought there must be something queer about the thing, and I accused McHenry of having told Bridges something about me beforehand so that I might be taken by surprise. McHenry so vehemently denied this that I knew he was telling me the truth. There was nothing to do but to accept the "chart" of Bridges as being at least sincere.

As I like to investigate everything for myself, I determined to see what there was in phrenology, and to have my head examined in circumstances where there could be no question that the phrenologist had had any information about me. So I went to London, and there consulted a still more famous phrenologist, the octogenarian Donovan. I said to him: "Mr. Donovan, I want you to tell me the plain truth about my head." "Phrenology does not lie," he said. "Put down your guinea."

I put down the guinea, and submitted to an [Pg 123]examination. He told me almost the same things that Bridges had said, and thus confirmed the first chart of my head. After finishing his examination, Donovan looked at me and said: "You will be either a great reformer, or a great pirate. It merely depends upon the direction you take in Ethics!"

Even this examination did not entirely satisfy me. There were still higher authorities in phrenology, and I felt that I should not be satisfied until I had the verdict of the highest court of appeals. I consulted every phrenologist I could reach—a great professor in Paris, another from Germany, and finally, I reached the highest authority then living, the highest that has ever lived, possibly, the great Dr. Fowler, who was then lecturing in England.

He came to Liverpool to lecture, and I went to hear him. Fowler asked for some one from the audience to allow him to examine his head. As he had never seen me, I felt that I could in this way get an absolutely impartial and unprejudiced reading. I went on the stage, and my appearance caused a ripple of surprise, for I was known in Liverpool. The phrenologist placed his hands on my head and exclaimed: "Jehu, what a head!" The audience applauded, as if they thought I had a head, and had used it to good purpose in their city.

Beverley Tucker was American consul in Liv[Pg 124]erpool at that time, having been appointed by President Pierce. When the famous actor and dramatist, John Brougham, visited Liverpool, I suggested that we Americans, in whose country Brougham had lived and done his best work, should entertain him at a dinner at the Waterloo House. We had a large and lively company present, and Brougham was in his best vein. I asked Brougham for his autograph, and, at the same time, something about the poet Willis, who was then our favorite American poet. He gave me instantly, without apparent thought, the following verse:

"Hyperion curls his forehead on, Behold the poet Willis! For love of such a Corydon, Who would not be a Phyllis?"

Thus have I narrated, in this and the previous chapters, the most interesting events and experiences of my life in Liverpool. The life there was particularly varied and altogether delightful. It was, of course, a very busy time, but I managed to get a great deal of pleasure out of it. There was a constant round of entertainments, and the social life of the city was generally gay and interesting. At this period I had two portraits of my wife and myself made. They are now in the possession of my daughter, who keeps them in the room which she always has ready for me in the country.[Pg 125]

As for my standing in the city, I may give here the opinion of Charles Mackay, the poet, author of Cheer, Boys, Cheer, and other well-known poems, who wrote, in reviewing my book, Young America in Wall Street, that I "walked up the Liverpool Exchange like a Baring or a Rothschild." I remained in Liverpool one year with my wife, and then returned to the United States. This was in '52. The best men of Liverpool had made me welcome everywhere, in all circles of business or of society.[Pg 126]




My wife and I in returning to Boston came on a visit that we expected to be brief. I confidently supposed I should go back to Liverpool and continue the business of the branch house. But this was not to be. Instead, I was soon to make a far wider departure in business fields and methods, and to try my fortune at another end of the earth.

When I arrived in Boston, I had a conference with Colonel Train about conditions in England, and suggested to him that I should have a partnership interest in the Boston house, as well as in the house in Liverpool. To my surprise, Colonel Train was not only astonished, but indignant. He could not understand how I had pushed ahead so rapidly, and this swift advance was by no means pleasant to him. He felt that, in some way, I was pushing him out of his place.

"Would you ride over me roughshod?" he asked, almost fiercely, when I ventured to suggest a larger partnership interest. I replied that I[Pg 127] thought I had given full value for everything that the house had done for me, and that I should be able to do so in the future. After some further discussion, in which the old gentleman was mollified, the matter was arranged. I received a partnership interest that was equal to $15,000 a year—and I was only twenty-two years old at the time.

As soon as the contract was signed, and it was in my hand, I said—because I was still nettled by the manner in which he had received my suggestion of a partnership—"Colonel, as you do not seem to care to take me into the firm, here is your contract"; and I tore it in two and handed him the pieces. "I am going to Australia."

This cool announcement astonished him. He did not know what to do. Finally, we came to terms. It was decided that I should go to Melbourne to start my own house with Captain Caldwell, one of our oldest ship-captains, the house to be known as "Caldwell, Train & Co." It was Colonel Train's view that this elderly man would act as a check upon my youthful rashness, he having no interest in the firm but good-will toward me and one of his captains.

The arrangements once completed, I was eager to be about my work in the antipodes, and prepared to sail at the first opportunity. Everything was taken from Boston—clerks, sets of books, business forms, etc. Nothing was left to the chance of finding or getting in Australia the ma[Pg 128]terial that we might need. And so the new house of "Caldwell, Train & Co." sailed away from Boston on the Plymouth Rock for Melbourne, Australia, on a singularly audacious venture.

Captain Caldwell went out in charge of the clerks, while I was to go by a different route a little later. I went to New York and took passage from there in the old Whitlock Havre packet, Bavaria, Captain Bailey. I had two clerks with me, and carried, also, a large amount of office supplies in duplicate. Duncan, Sherman & Co. had appointed me their agent for the purchase of gold in Melbourne, which was to be shipped to London or New York as circumstances permitted, and I had also been appointed by the Boston underwriters their agent to represent them in the South Seas. The outlook for business seemed especially bright.

I have traveled a great deal since that time, but this was the longest period I have ever been on a ship in a single voyage. We were ninety-two days from New York to Melbourne. I have twice since gone entirely around the world in less time. It was very dreary at times, and I had to resort to all manner of things in order to pass the hours. These attempted diversions were often very amusing.

I have always wanted to do things a little differently from others, partly because it has been more interesting to do them in a novel manner, but chiefly because I have found that a better way than[Pg 129] the accepted one could be found. My desire for novelty led me to do some curious things during this long and tedious voyage to Melbourne. One day I was looking at the porpoises playing about the ship's bows, and it occurred to me that I could harpoon one of them. I asked the captain if he had a harpoon, and he brought me one. I then had a rope tied fast about me, so that I could be lowered over the bow. I had a good chance and let fly the harpoon, and, as luck would have it, succeeded in getting a fine porpoise. My successful throw astonished every one—myself more than any. The porpoise was brought aboard, and we found portions of it very good eating.

On another day I hooked a shark, a "man-eater," ten feet long, and this, also, was brought aboard, but no one proposed to eat it. A little later we passed into the zone of the albatrosses, and myriads of these exquisite birds flew over or hovered above the ship. I was desirous to have one of them, and resorted to stratagems learned years ago in the days when I used to snare rabbits and net pigeons on the old farm in New England. I baited a hook with pork, and threw it out upon the water. Instantly a great albatross swooped down upon it and swallowed the bait. I drew the bird on board, and found it a magnificent specimen, measuring twelve feet from tip to tip of its wings. Of course, I released the bird very soon. In such pastimes, we beguiled the time, un[Pg 130]til we finally swept through the great South Seas and into Hobson's Bay, passed Point Nepean, and anchored off Sandridge.

I had fancied that Melbourne was not a frequented port, off the tracks of commerce, although springing into life and prominence. Imagine my surprise when, on rounding the point where one could sweep the expanse of the bay, I saw before me some six hundred vessels that had reached the port before we arrived, and all, like ourselves, attracted there by the rumors of gold, gold, gold! For a second time within a few years, the whole world had gone wild over a gold discovery, and was now sending thousands of persons to Australia. Thousands more were deterred from going only by the fear of starvation, for very few believed at that time that Australia could feed the hungry searchers after gold, much less give them a fortune in gold nuggets.

Before I left Boston I had heard much about the perils of starvation in Australia. I was told that the country produced little, and that its scant resources would soon be overtaxed by the horde of gold-seekers. "Starve!" I said; "why there are twenty million sheep in the island." I was then told that man could not live by mutton alone. But I knew that, with these millions of sheep, there was little danger of famine.

From the anchorage at Sandridge to Melbourne the distance is about ten miles, the Yarra-Yarra[Pg 131] winding and twisting through the tortuous channel. As this river is too shallow to admit ships of a greater burden than sixty tons, all large vessels anchor at Sandridge, or Williamstown. While the distance up the Yarra-Yarra is ten miles, across the spit of sand it is only two. I went into Melbourne at once, secured buildings for our cargo, and arranged for lighters to take it up the Yarra-Yarra.

The very first thing that impressed me in Australia was the miserable and unnecessary inconvenience of having to send everything up the twisted channel of the Yarra-Yarra by lighters. I determined to look into this and see what could be done. The method was too expensive and too slow to suit me. I immediately called on the most influential men of the city, like De Graves, Octavius Brown, Dalgetty, Cruikshank & Co., and James Henty, and said to them: "This thing of coming by way of the Yarra-Yarra, ten miles, when it is only two miles by land, is out of the question. Let us build a railway to Sandridge."

Apparently, this had not occurred to them. They had brought from England their habits of thought, and accepted things as they found them. But I kept at the railway suggestion, until the line was built. This was my first experience in organizing railways. It was not my last.

I also found that it was not possible to get suitable accommodations in Melbourne for business.[Pg 132] There was no building there that was large enough. In order to get one sufficiently commodious, I had to build it. Accordingly, we put up at the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth Streets, opposite the railway station, the biggest structure in the city. It cost a pretty penny. The building was 140 feet deep, 40 feet wide and three stories high. The date, "1854," was cut in stone at the top. The edifice cost $60,000. I imported iron shutters from England to make it fireproof.

It was also necessary to have a building at Sandridge, a warehouse in which to store our goods until they were needed in Melbourne, or until they were shipped for America or Europe. In putting up this building, I resolved to make an experiment. This was to have the building made in Boston, and shipped out to me to be erected at Sandridge, thousands of miles away. If successful, the warehouse would cost much less and would be of better material and in better style than anything I could get in Australia. It reached Sandridge all right and was put up at the end of the little line of railway, at a cost of $25,000. It was 60 feet deep by 40 feet wide, and six stories high.

With a warehouse at each end of the line, with all the business credit that I could wish, and with the best connections in the world, we were prepared to do a big business in Melbourne. How far we succeeded may be inferred from the fact[Pg 133] that my commissions the first year amounted to $95,000.

Melbourne was a small but promising city. It had some 20,000 population at the time of the gold-fever, and had grown tremendously in the last two or three years, so that, in '54, it must have had something like 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants. It was, of course, a frontier town, crude and raw, with few of the advantages of civilization. The people were too busy with their search for gold and profits to think much of the conveniences or luxuries of life. The only good hotel, for instance, was the Squatters' Hotel, at Port Philip. There was not even a merchants' exchange, although one was greatly needed. The merchants had simply never heard of such a thing. I arranged with Salmi Morse, who afterward tried to introduce the Passion Play in this country, to assist him in putting up a building that could be used for a hotel, theater, and mercantile exchange. The hotel was the Criterion, and we had a hall in the building for the exchange. The latter was the means of bringing together ship captains, merchants, agents, and business men generally, and a great stimulus was given to business.

I was able to introduce into Australia a great many articles and ideas from America. I brought over from Boston a lot of "Concord" wagons, of the same type as the one that "Ben" Holliday drove across the continent, and I told Freeman[Pg 134] Cobb, who was then with Adams & Co., that I wanted him to start a line of coaches between Melbourne and the gold-mines, a distance of about sixty miles. I advanced the money for the enterprise, and a line was established, the first in Australia, to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, and Castle Maine. These were the first coaches seen in that continent. The coaches cost in Australia $3,000 apiece.

I had a chaise brought from Boston for my own use. It was so light in comparison with the great, heavy, lumbering vehicles that were in use in all English countries, that the people there said it would break down immediately. They had not heard of Holmes's "Wonderful One-horse Shay that ran a hundred years to a day," and did not, of course, know the toughness of all "Yankee" things. It didn't break down, and its lightness and general serviceableness made it a big advertisement of American goods. People urged me to import a great many vehicles from America. Every ship brought out wagons of the Concord make, chaises, and vehicles of all sorts. Our carriages and buggies attracted much attention. They were the first vehicles of the sort that had ever been seen in the country. I sold these at a great profit.

A great disappointment and loss occurred, however, through the carelessness of the American shippers, on one occasion. They had sent a[Pg 135] cargo of carriages, and I was certain of a large profit on the shipment. What was my surprise and horror, on the arrival of the cargo, to discover that the stupid shippers had sent only the tops of the carriages! The bodies of the vehicles had actually been shipped to San Francisco!

A thing that greatly surprised me, in a land of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, was that there were no sports in Australia. It seems more strange now, after Kipling's fierce denunciation of the "padded fools at the wickets and the muddied oafs at the goal." As I had always been fond of outdoor sport, I at once introduced bowling and ten-pins, opened an alley and organized a club which was composed of Australian bankers—Manager Blackwood of the Union Bank, MacArthur of the Bank of Australia, Badcock of the Bank of New South Wales, Bramhall of the London Chartered Bank, O'Shaughnessy of the Bank of Australasia, and Mathieson of the Bank of Victoria. I mention these names here merely for convenience, and to bring together some of the men with whom I was associated in social and in business life in Melbourne. They represented some $200,000,000 of capital. MacArthur had a beautiful bungalow four miles out of Melbourne, where he invited me to shoot.

I found living at a hotel very dreary and very inconvenient, and decided to have a home of my own. So I got a two-story house at Collingwood,[Pg 136] near the residence of Governor Latrobe, just out of the city. Here I accommodated my clerks, also. I took the stewardess, Undine, and the steward from one of our ships, and was able to set up quite an establishment. The United States consul, J. M. Tarleton, and his wife, lived with us for a time.

After I had been in Melbourne nearly a year I was guilty of a small piece of patriotism that has ever since seemed very amusing to me. I had been reared in the belief that every American-born boy has a chance to become President of the United States. I had also the idea that a child born out of the United States was not, in this sense, American-born. My wife expected to give birth to a child in a few months, and, like most parents, we fully expected it would be a son. So what should I do, in order not to rob my son of the chance of becoming President of his country, but send the mother across the seas to Boston, that he might be born on the soil of the United States! It was not until some little time after this that I learned that nationality follows the parents, and that Presidents may be born anywhere, if they are careful in the matter of their parents. The expected boy was a girl—if I may be pardoned an Irish bull. This was my daughter Sue, who could never be President, unless the Woman's Suffrage movement moves along very much faster than it has up to this time.

I have not mentioned my partner in the Aus[Pg 137]tralian venture, since I said that he and our clerks sailed away from Boston for Melbourne on the Plymouth Rock—a curious reversal of history, for the West was going to exploit the East, and it was singular that a vessel with the historic name of Plymouth Rock should have been chosen to bear this new Argonautic expedition into the South Seas. Captain Caldwell, as I have said, was an elderly man, sober and conservative. He had been a sea-captain for many years, and was a man of considerable experience. It was the expectation of the Boston shippers that his conservatism would serve as a check upon my rashness and venturesomeness.

Captain Caldwell, however, did not like Australia, but his presence did not prevent my plunging into whatever speculation or enterprise seemed inviting. The country was full of chances, and I should have been stupid, indeed, not to have availed myself of them as far as possible. But the rough life did not suit Captain Caldwell, although he was accustomed to roughing it at sea; and he wanted to return to America. So I consented to his return. He went in the same ship with my wife, the Red Jacket, which, by the way, was then to make one of the record-breaking voyages of the world. Although he had been in Melbourne only a few months, I gave him $7,500, which was the share belonging to him of the estimated profit in our business.[Pg 138]

There was still another incident connected with this voyage of the Red Jacket which made it memorable in my experiences. I have mentioned that the phrenologist Bridges said, in England, some years before this, that I should become either a great reformer or a great pirate. In Melbourne, one day, I found myself face to face with a charge of piracy! I was accused of trying to make away with some $2,000,000 of gold, which I had put on the Red Jacket for shipment to London.

It happened in this way. It was of course customary to have all bills of lading signed by the ship's captain. But Captain Reid, of the Red Jacket, had been arrested, at the instance of one of the passengers, and the ship was libeled on account of a claim. For this reason, Captain Reid had not been present to sign the bills of lading. In Boston, I had often signed bills of lading in the absence of the captain, so I had had no hesitancy as to my course in this emergency. I considered that I had a perfect right to sign the bills, and so I did sign them for the $2,000,000 in gold, putting it "George Francis Train, for the captain."

Now, the English are a conservative people. When they see anything new it "frights" them. They can not understand why there should ever be occasion for any new thing under the sun. When the Melbourne banks saw that I had signed the papers, they were scared nearly out of their[Pg 139] boots. They had never heard of such a procedure, and thought their insurance was gone.

But this was not all. The Red Jacket was the fastest clipper that had then visited Melbourne, and it occurred to these bankers that I was going to run off with this gold, and become a Captain Kidd or a buccaneering Morgan. They grounded their fears upon the facts that my wife was aboard, that Captain Caldwell, my partner and friend, was also a passenger, and they believed that Captain Reid was on board, although under arrest. To suspicious bankers, here was a really strong case against me.

In the meanwhile, the Red Jacket, with her trim sails bellied with the wind, and sweeping along in a way of her own that nothing in the South Seas could imitate or approach, was passing down Hobson's Bay. The Government and the Melbourne authorities despatched two men-of-war after her. There was no possibility of her being overhauled by these craft, and I gave orders to make for Point Nepean. The sheriffs from Melbourne, who thought Captain Reid was aboard, stayed on the ship, but I ordered them put off at the Point. They were furious, but could do nothing, since they could not act for Melbourne at sea under the Stars and Stripes. Accordingly, they were put on a tug and taken back to Melbourne. Immediately after the sheriffs left the boat, a little yacht, the Flying Eagle, with Captain Reid[Pg 140] aboard, came alongside, and the captain was put on the Red Jacket, just outside the jurisdiction of Australia.

The Red Jacket caught the wind again, and showed her clean heels to the slow-sailing men-of-war giving chase. She made the run to Liverpool in sixty-four days.

The authorities and the bankers of Melbourne did not like the proceedings at all, but saw that they could do nothing. There was great anxiety in Australia for two months and more. When it was learned that the $2,000,000 of gold had been landed in Liverpool without the loss of a farthing, I was heartily congratulated, although the British spirit never forgave the taking of matters into my own hands and making the best of a bad situation. Their conservatism had received a shock.[Pg 141]




During my stay in Melbourne the gold-fever was at its height. I was particularly interested in the mines, and went to Ballarat to see how the British managed these things. It was while I was there, as it happened, that the great "bonanza nugget" was discovered. I shall never forget the impression that this discovery and its tragic ending made upon my mind. It is a story that the world has heard many times, perhaps, and as many times forgotten; but for one who felt its terrible lesson stamped hot upon his heart, it is unforgettable.

There were lucky and unlucky miners in Australia, as there have been everywhere else in the world's gold-fields. Many found great nuggets that contained fortunes—"infinite riches in a little room"—while many more found nothing but infinite hardship and heart-breaking misery. Among the army of broken men, there was a[Pg 142] "hobo" named Hooligan who had not found any gold, could no longer find even work, and was starving. One day he went to the owners of a mine or shaft that had been worked out, and asked permission to go down to try his luck. They consented. The desperate fellow took his pick and descended to the bottom of the shaft. In a few minutes he was worth a fortune. He had found the biggest nugget ever taken out of the earth's treasure-house. Two hundred feet below the surface of the ground, he had driven his pick, by merest chance, against a lump of gold that would have transmuted Midas's wand into better metal.

He came up out of the shaft, knowing that he had found a pretty big sum, but did not realize how much it was. The nugget was brought up and weighed. It had exactly the weight of a barrel of flour, 196 pounds. He was rich. That morning he had been a beggar, and now he was the richest miner in the fields. They weighed the gold carefully, and told him that he was a rich man.

"Is—all—that—mine?" he asked, as if the words were as heavy as the big nugget and as valuable. They told him it was. "It doesn't belong to the Government?" "No." "All mine," he said in a whisper, and dropped to the floor, dead.

No one knew him. His name even was not known. He was a mere restless wanderer upon the face of the earth, and had broken his heart over the biggest nugget, the richest piece of gold,[Pg 143] on the globe. And so the nugget became the property of the Government, after all.

Capt. David D. Porter, who was afterward admiral of the United States navy, visited Melbourne while I was there, and I gave him a reception, at which he met the prominent people of the colony. He was a relative of mine. I was very proud of him then, though more so later. He was in command of the Golden Age, which was afterward famous for the Black Warrior incident. He invited my wife and myself to go with him in his ship to Sydney, New South Wales. We had a delightful trip around the island. The ship made as great a sensation in Sydney as it had made in Melbourne. The American flag had rarely been seen above a man-of-war in those waters. At Sydney we met Sir Charles Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, as well as prominent people in civil and official life. Sir Charles Fitzroy was a survival of the old "beau" days of the court of the last of the Georges, and had the heavy courtesy of that time, when everything said or done was accompanied by a low bow and a gracious smile. He entertained us handsomely at Government House. We were also entertained by Sir Charles Nicholson, at his beautiful country seat. I had the peculiar pleasure, while in Australia, of fulfilling one of the prophecies of Sidney Smith, made when he had been editor of the Quarterly Review some forty years before. He said, I remembered, that in half[Pg 144] a century cargoes of tea—the luxury that England of his day and ours regards as an infallible evidence of civilization—would be landed at the docks of Sydney. He referred to Port Jackson, which is now dominated by the thriving city of Sydney, and was then one of the most promising ports of the South Seas. I was, at that time, receiving tea on consignment from Nye, of Canton, China, called the "Napoleon of tea trade," and it occurred to me that Australia should be a good market for it. Three cargoes came from Canton, with instructions that if the market at Melbourne proved unfavorable, one of the cargoes should be shipped to Sydney. It was accordingly sent there, fulfilling the prophecy of Sydney Smith, and opening the tea trade of that portion of Australia.

Sir Charles Nicholson, before we were there, entertained Commodore Wilkes, who was visiting Australia, and who afterward stirred up Great Britain by removing forcibly from the British mail-steamer Trent the Confederate States' agents, Mason and Slidell. I was surprised to find in the harbor two of our old packets, the Anglo-American and the Washington Irving, Captain Caldwell's packet, under changed names. They had been sold to English ship-owners.

Sydney was not a large place at this time, although it was growing fast. It may be well to recall here that it had been founded as a penal[Pg 145] colony, the effects of which had not entirely passed away at the time of my visit, although no convicts had arrived since '41, I believe. The influence of Botany Bay had also been felt by Sydney. I was struck by the beautiful, narrow, rock-bound entrance to the harbor. It gives to the port many miles of seashore, and is so winding that when Captain Cook, who discovered it, sailed in and anchored in Botany Bay, some of his sailors reported that they saw from the masthead a large inland lake in the interior. The "lake" proved to be only an apparent one, produced by one of the many windings of the beautiful, sinuous arm of the sea, eventually to hold in its embrace the fine city of Sydney.

We returned from Sydney to Melbourne after a short but delightful visit. Shortly after leaving port we ran into one of the most terrific storms I have ever experienced. It was the right time of the year for gales to appear, and this one, as is characteristic of the wild nature of the South Seas, seemed to spring from a clear sky and unruffled waters. If our boat had been one of the usual type of merchantmen, it must certainly have gone down. But the Golden Age was stanch and strong. She battled with the seas as with a human foe. In spite of her seaworthiness, however, almost every one aboard thought she could not withstand the repeated shock of waves that tumbled in mountains against her bows.[Pg 146]

In the midst of the storm, I saw one of the most prominent and richest merchants of Sydney coming across the deck, thrown hither and thither by the tossings of the ship, and carrying in his hands a very heavy package. "For the love of goodness, what have you there?" I asked in amazement. He made no direct reply, and I thought him too much terrified to speak, but he finally came close up to me and said: "Mr. Train, I know you have some influence here on the ship. I have brought with me one thousand sovereigns. They are here"—and he tapped the bag he carried in his hands. "I want you to go with me to the captain and give him this amount for putting me off in a small boat." "A small boat would not live a minute in this sea," I said. "I am prepared," he replied, "to take my chances, as it would be better there than here, for the ship may go down any moment." I refused to go to the captain with so foolish a request, and urged him to be calm, as the ship was stout and would weather the storm. He could not calm himself, but fretted and fumed in terror. As fortune favored us, the gale suddenly stopped, sweeping on away from us as swiftly as it had come. The rich merchant soon took his thousand sovereigns back to his room.

I have stated already that I was the agent for Boston insurance people. This, of course, made me somewhat solicitous about the safety of all vessels in those waters. One morning the entire city[Pg 147] of Melbourne was startled by the news that a great clipper had gone down or ashore on Flinder's Island, off Point Nepean. Later we learned that she was ashore, and that signals of distress were flying from her masthead and rigging. Of course, I was much alarmed, and began at once to see what could be done to save the ship and crew. I got a tug, and was soon taking a rescue party down Hobson's Bay. We steamed as fast as the tug's engines would carry her through the driving seas. As we neared the wreck, we saw that the ship was the Whistler from Boston. She seemed to be a complete wreck, and with our glasses we could not discover any sign of life aboard her.

I did not give up the venture there, however, but directed the captain of the tugboat to make directly for the island. I had a vague hope that the crew had somehow managed to get ashore in the boats or on floating timbers. The captain did not relish this part of his work, and his fears were soon justified, for we very narrowly escaped shipwreck ourselves in the wild seas. We had, finally, to wait until the waves went down a little, before attempting to land on Flinder's Island. We got up as near as we could, however, and then we saw signals flying from shore. We signaled in reply, and the wrecked crew understood that we were waiting for the sea to run less wildly before attempting to reach land.

The wind died down slowly, and it was hours[Pg 148] before we could approach the coast. As soon as possible, I got out with a crew in a small boat and went to the island. We had a most difficult time in getting through the surf and avoiding the breakers, but we finally reached shore. There we found Captain Brown with his wife, the ship's officers and the crew, all alive and well. They had managed to live on shell-fish and wallaby—the small bush kangaroos. They had not been able to take anything from the ship, and could not, of course, reach her after she had been abandoned. We got them all aboard the tug, and carried them safely to Melbourne. The American consul afterward sent them all home by way of Liverpool. This was the second rescue of shipwrecked crew and passengers that I had made, and I felt a little too proud of it, I suppose.

About this time the British and Colonial Governments decided to settle Tasmania with free emigrants. The idea was to pay the expenses of all who wanted to go to that island, and the Governments made a contract with the White Star Line to transport the settlers. The British Government was to pay one half the expense, and the Colonial Government the remainder. The contract was signed by Henry T. Wilson, manager of the White Star Line, the sailing-ship pioneers of Morgan's mammoth steamship combination, who sent all the papers to me at Melbourne, as representing the company, to see that the terms of the agree[Pg 149]ment were carried out. He also requested me to go to Hobart Town (now called Hobart) to be there when the first ship-load of emigrants arrived to collect the money for the passage. I immediately took steamer for Hobart Town, and I shall never forget the pleasure of that voyage. It was a revelation. The trip up the estuary to Hobart Town was delightful, and the scenery, I think, was altogether the most charming I had seen in the Southern world. At Hobart Town I was received by Mr. Chapman, a shipping merchant, to whom I had written in advance, and he made me stay with him at his beautiful bungalow, on the crest of a high hill, commanding a fine view of the city.

The emigrants arrived in excellent condition. They were the first free settlers of Tasmania. There had not been a death aboard ship, and the moment the newcomers arrived they were employed, for the city of Hobart Town was very thriving, and there was an abundance of work to be done. I again had the pleasure of feeling that in this, as in other enterprises, I was an argonaut and a pioneer.

I was astonished to find so many persons of prominence, especially in the world of letters, settled in this far-away colony of England. At Hobart Town I found the Powers, the Howitts (whose books were then tremendously popular), and Thorne, the author of Orion. Then, as now,[Pg 150] this colony was regarded as the most pleasant portion of the vast possessions of Great Britain in the South Seas. The climate and the aspects of the country were far more pleasant than those of Australia, some fifty miles distant across Bass Straits.

At the time of my visit the whole world was talking about the various efforts being made to discover the remains of the ill-fated expedition to the North Pole that had been led by the former governor of Tasmania, the much-beloved Sir John Franklin. He had gone to the north in 1845, and nothing had been heard of him since. His wife was supposed to be mourning for him in solitude.

Curiosity led me to the house where this famous governor and adventurous explorer had lived, and the janitor, a trusted old servant, showed me over the building. It was one of those enormous structures which the English build for the edification and amazement of the natives in their colonies. I had heard and read a great deal about Sir John and the lovely woman that was mourning his long absence, and I entered the silent house with a feeling that I was trespassing upon a great and unutterable grief. Imagine my astonishment—I may say, horror—to learn that Lady Franklin, or Lady Jane, as she was generally called, had for years lived at one end of the long house, while Sir John had lived at the other, and that, as the story went, they had not spoken to each other for years. She seemed certainly to[Pg 151] have had the grace to assume a virtue she did not possess, and apparently mourned her lost lord for years, and spent much of her time in liberal charities. This is the first time I have referred in any way to this unknown unhappiness of Sir John Franklin. It was not known to many people in Tasmania at the time, and I suppose that it is known now only to members of the two families, the Franklins and the Griffins.

As I had come half around the island of Tasmania, approaching Hobart Town from the sea, I had seen nothing of the interior of the country, so I determined—after finishing my business in Hobart Town—to cross the island to Launceston. There is now a railway running directly across, but at that time there was only a stage route. Stages ran every other day. I engaged passage in the mail-coach, the same style of coach that had been used for hundreds of years in England and Scotland, still as rough and cumbersome as when first devised. There, too, was the old Tudor driver and the Restoration guard. Nothing was wanting. The coach looked to me as if it had been taken from behind the scenes of some old comedy—a piece of stage property.

But if the stage was antiquated and out of touch with the modern stir of the world, the driver was not. I asked him what he thought would be the proper thing in the way of a "tip," as I did not know the ways of Tasmania. "That depends,[Pg 152] sir," he said, "upon whom we are riding with." That settled the business for me, for my tip then had to be a sort of measure of my self-esteem. I was literally cornered, and had to give him a big tip, in sheer self-defense.

The road to Launceston was an excellent one, a macadam built by convicts, and the scenery was the most beautiful I had seen in Australasia. When I arrived at Launceston I had to get a pass to leave the country, as it had been necessary to have a passport to enter it. The British were very particular whom they permitted to leave Tasmania, and whom they allowed to go there.

Near Launceston I saw the room in which Francis, who was afterward a member of the cabinet of the colony of Victoria and one of the ablest and most energetic men of Australasia, had his famous and terrible fight with a burglar. This fight has become a tradition all over the colonies and is still recalled as one of the thrilling experiences of early days. One night Francis heard a noise in his dining-room. He was up late, studying in his library, and as the country was infested by desperate convicts who had escaped from the camps, he at once went to the room to see whether a burglar had broken in.

Peering through the keyhole, he saw a man with a dark lantern putting the family plate into a bag. Francis came to a decision at once as to what to do. He would enter the room, and fight[Pg 153] it out with the robber. Silently opening the door, he entered, and then quickly locked the door and threw away the key. Immediately there was a desperate fight. The burglar finding himself entrapped, turned upon Francis and tried to kill him with a huge knife. Francis caught his arm, and a struggle to the death began. Several times the burglar wrenched his hand free and slashed at Francis, but the plucky fellow did not flinch. He fought until he had conquered the robber, threw him to the floor, and bound his hands behind him. Francis was himself so badly cut that he was in sight of death for weeks.

The exploits of the convict Tracy out in Oregon remind me of a far more terrible case in Australia that occurred while I was there. The country was a sort of frontier, in the Western sense, from one end to the other. It was quite possible that a desperate convict lurked in every patch of bush, who would as soon kill you as ask for bread. But news came to Melbourne one day that a convict had escaped in a peculiarly terrifying manner. He was no ordinary man. He had coolly killed two jailers, or guards, having taken from them their own weapons. Then, going to the water, he ordered a boatman to row him out to a vessel so that he might escape from the country. The boatman, not knowing the character of the man he was dealing with, refused, and was shot dead instantly. The fugitive then rowed out to[Pg 154] the vessel in the dead man's boat, and demanded of the captain that he take him aboard and carry him to Melbourne. The captain refused, and he also was shot dead, and with loaded pistol the convict then compelled the mate to take him to Melbourne. After he landed he began a forlorn attempt to save himself from his pursuers.

This beginning in his career of murder was sufficiently terrible to give the entire region a shock, when it became known that he was at large and headed for Melbourne. He was next heard of when he reached Hobson's Bay at Sandridge. Here he found a farmer plowing in the field. The convict needed his horse, and shooting the farmer, rode away. Another farmer followed him, and in turn was killed.

By this time, of course, the whole country was aroused—even the police—and parties were hurriedly formed to capture the murderers, for no one at the time could believe that it was only one man who was committing all these crimes. When he was last seen, he was heading, apparently, for Ballarat, where, perhaps, he hoped to be joined by other men as desperate as himself. Ballarat was about one hundred miles distant, and a posse started in pursuit. Nothing was heard or seen of the convict for fifty miles, when one of the party saw a man near a squatter's hut carrying another man in his arms. This seemed to be a somewhat curious proceeding, and the posse immediately closed[Pg 155] in about the man. Just as did Tracy, this man shot the leader of the party. The others then pushed ahead and captured him before he could kill any one else. In the hut they found nine men, tied with ropes. It was not understood what use the convict expected to make of them. All were uninjured. At the time of his capture, the convict had killed fourteen men.[Pg 156]



Once I tried to be President of the United States. Before that I had been offered the presidency of the Australian Republic. It is true that there was no Australian Republic at that exact moment, but it looked to thousands that there might be one very soon. There was a revolution, or, as it should be called, a rebellion, for it was unsuccessful, in which I had taken no part or shown any sympathy, but the revolutionists, or rebels, offered me the chieftaincy of their government, as soon as they could establish it.

It came about in this way. In '54 the miners in the fields of Ballarat and Bendigo were in a state of intense ferment. They were discontented with existing conditions—their luck in the mines, the way they were treated by the Government and the mine proprietors, and especially by the utter failure of the Government to protect them in their rights against the capitalists. The particular cause of quarrel, however, was the licenses.[Pg 157]

When I went to Australia, the reader may easily believe, there was very little feeling for, or knowledge of, the United States. I at once undertook to spread the gospel of Americanism, and introduced the celebration of the Fourth of July. The colonists of England have always been quite friendly to the people of the United States, having a kindred feeling, and all of them have been looking forward to a day when they, too, might have a free country to claim for their own, and not merely a red spot on the map of Great Britain. For this reason, the Australians took kindly to the idea of celebrating the independence of the United States, as formerly a colony of Great Britain.

When the miners, who had heard of my "spread-eagleism," as it has since been called, started their little revolt against the government of the British, they thought of me and offered me the presidency of the republic they wanted to create. In the meantime, they elected me their representative in the colonial legislature of the miners about Maryborough, where they held a great meeting. I could not have taken my seat if I had desired it, and as I did not desire it, of course I declined. The imaginary presidency I declined, also, as I neither wanted it, nor could I have obtained it. The "Five-Star Republic," as it was called, was not to be anything but a dream, and the "revolution" of Ballarat was only a nightmare.[Pg 158]

Soon after I declined these honors, there was a terrible riot at Ballarat. The whole mining district had risen against the Government, as Latrobe, the governor, had made himself most unpopular by his policy of procrastination. Everything connected with the mining fields, he seemed to think, could as well be looked after next year as this. The resentment of the miners had at last become uncontrollable. But, slow as they were about redressing the grievances of the miners, the British were fast enough in the business of protecting themselves and in putting down disturbances with a firm and heavy hand. Latrobe waited until the thing had almost got beyond him. He felt that he was all right with the old "squatters," whom he understood and who understood him; but he did not realize that the new element, the thousands of miners that had floated in from every nation of the globe, did not understand him or his ways. They were accustomed to having matters attended to with despatch, and could not tolerate the slow conservatism and unchangeableness of the English civil office. Personally he was a good man; but otherwise, he was as I have described.

The first fruits of the dilatory policy was the sacrifice of forty men. Captain Wise and forty of his troops were cut to pieces by the enraged miners, who had suddenly risen to fight for their rights. Governor Latrobe immediately called for[Pg 159] troops from New Zealand, Tasmania, and New South Wales, to quell the rioters. The want of preparation of the revolters at once became apparent, and it was known that they had sent emissaries into Melbourne itself to buy arms and ammunition. The head of the insurrection was James McGill, who was an American citizen. He had disappeared from the neighborhood of Ballarat, and a reward of one thousand pounds sterling had been offered for his capture, dead or alive. In Melbourne there was almost a panic. Rumors were that the forests were filled with armed men marching to the destruction of the place. There were, it was authentically reported, 800 armed men at Warren Heap, about eighty miles distant, who were supposed to be meditating a raid. People hastened to secrete their jewelry, gold was placed in vaults, the banks were guarded, and a special police force was sworn in.

Just as the excitement was at its height, it was reported that James McGill was in the neighborhood of the city. I was sitting in my office one morning, during these days of fear, when a man walked in, as cool as if he were merely going to discuss the weather or some trifle of business. "I hear," he said, "that you have some $80,000 worth of Colt's revolvers in stock, and I have been sent down here to get them." I glanced up at the man, and took him in a little more closely. It came to me in a flash who he was. "Do you know," said[Pg 160] I, "that there is a reward offered for your head of one thousand pounds?" "That does not mean anything," he said, and smiled as if it were a joke. "They can not do anything," he added, as if to allay any fears that I might have.

I again took him in, and thought of my $60,000 warehouse that we were then standing in, of the $25,000 warehouse at the other end of the railway, and of all my interests in Melbourne, under which we were placing a powder mine, and playing over it with lighted torches. "This will not do," I said. "You have no right to compromise me in this way." "We have elected you president of our republic," he added. "Damn the republic!" said I. "Do you mean to tell me that you refuse to be our chief?" said he. "I do," I said. "I am not here to lead or encourage revolutions, but to carry on my business. I have nothing whatever to do with governments or politics; and you must get out of here, if you do not want to be hanged yourself, and ruin me." I told him there was not the slightest possibility of success, as Great Britain would crush the revolt by sheer weight of men, if she could not beat its leaders in any other way.

Just then there came a rap at the door, which I had taken the precaution to close and lock. I hurried to the door and asked who was there, and the reply was that it was Captain McMahon, chief of police. He said to me: "Do you know that rascal McGill is in the city? His men are at War[Pg 161]ren Heap, but he himself has actually come into Melbourne! I want a dozen of those Concord wagons of yours immediately." I made a motion of my hand to make McGill understand that he must keep quiet. Then I began to talk rapidly with the chief of police, and took him to the farther end of the warehouse, shutting the door of my office behind us. No more wagons were there, for the Government had already got all I had, but I wanted time to think. When we had looked around, and had seen that there were no wagons, Captain McMahon left, and I hurried back to McGill.

"Now, McGill," I said, "I am not going to betray you, but am going to save your life. You must do as I tell you." He looked at me for a moment, and said, "But I am not going back on my comrades." "You will have no comrades soon, but will be in the hands of the officers yourself, if you do not do exactly as I tell you." He finally consented to do as I advised.

As soon as I saw that the way was clear, I took him out into the street to the nearest barber, where I had his hair cut and his mustache shaved off, and then made him put on a workman's suit of clothes. We then got into my chaise, and I drove him down to the bay and took him aboard one of our ships that was about to sail, and told the men that I had brought a new stevedore. McGill pitched in and worked along with the men, and there was nothing[Pg 162] to show that he was in any way connected with the revolution of Ballarat, much less its leader.

Three days later the ship sailed, and McGill went on through England to America. This ended the whole affair of the revolution, the chase of the leader, and my chance of being President of the Five-Star Republic!

One day a man, wearing a jaunty silk hat, came into my office. "I see you bring in rum from New England," said he. "How much have you on hand?" I went over the invoices, and told him. He then asked if I gave the same terms as other dealers in Melbourne. "Yes," said I; "cash." "Oh, no," said he. "I get three months' time." He showed me a contract he had just signed with Denniston Brothers & Co., of New York, represented in Melbourne by McCullagh & Sellars, for £3,000 payable in three months. I was astonished. The house had branches in all of the great cities of the world. I told the gentlemanly-looking fellow who wanted the rum that if Denniston could afford to trust him for $15,000, I thought we could trust him for $3,000. I took pains to see, however, that our paper bore an earlier date than that of Denniston. But this precaution amounted to nothing against this shrewd manipulator. He gave his name as John Boyd.

By the end of the week, I began to grow a little suspicious, and sent my clerk to the office of Mr. Boyd early on Monday morning. The office was[Pg 163] closed, and there was no Mr. Boyd there. He had gone to Sydney, and that was the last seen of Boyd in Australia. He had "buncoed" us and Denniston & Co. in the easiest sort of way. I really felt cheated, it was done so smoothly. I had not got the worth of my money, as I should have done had I been harder to deceive. There had been no sport in that.

I next heard of Boyd at Singapore; but I was to run up against him later. In '61, when I was giving a junketing trip to some people on the Union Pacific road, and a party of us were on the steamboat St. Joseph going to Omaha, a man came up to me and claimed an acquaintance. Although more than twelve years had passed, I recognized him at once as the John Boyd who had got the better of me in that little trade in Melbourne. I pretended not to know him. I suppose he assumed that the matter had passed out of my mind and that his face was no longer familiar to me. He coolly gave me his address on a card, and when I looked at it I saw "Noble & Co., Bankers, Des Moines, Iowa." I knew him by his broken nose, that would have betrayed him at the ends of the earth.

Perhaps the thing I enjoyed most in Australia was the introduction of American articles—"Yankee notions," the people there called them—into Australia, even against the prejudice of the colonists. They would fight hard against everything[Pg 164] that was new or American, but I took a delight in overcoming their bias, and forcing them to accept our ideas. I made a calculation once of the things that I had introduced into Australia, and they amounted to something like fifty. Among these were such common things as the light wagon, the buggy, shovels, and hoes, and—wonderful to think of when one hears and reads so much in these days of the "tins" that the British army consumes—tinned, or canned, goods. These had not been heard of, and I saw at once that there was a fine chance for some profitable business. English packers could not begin to compete with us. On one cargo that I brought in from New London, Conn., we made a profit of 200 per cent. And now "Tommy Atkins" lives on the "tins" that we introduced as a method of carrying provisions from one end of the world to the other.

I suppose that it was from a part of the returns from this profitable shipment that the owners of the goods founded the Soldiers' Home at Noroton, Conn., during the civil war. I must record here a curious incident. It was in this home that a soldier carved a most elaborate design upon a cane which he gave to me, showing in brief outline the whole of my history. It was a wonderful piece of work, and I have kept it as a souvenir of the regard of this soldier in the home that was probably founded in part with the proceeds of the first great shipment of canned goods into Austra[Pg 165]lia, and of my part in introducing this new trade into the South Seas.

I had the opportunity of meeting some famous and curious people in Australia. On one of the celebrations of the 17th of March, I met a great many Irish patriots, among them Smith O'Brien, John Martin, and Donohue. I was an invited guest, and sat down with more than two hundred of the most prominent Irishmen of the Australasian colonies. When Smith O'Brien was in an Irish jail in '48, I asked him for his autograph. I have made it a point to collect the autographs of all the famous men and women I have met, and now have, perhaps, the finest collection of autographs to be seen in this country. O'Brien immediately wrote on a card the following verse:

"Whether on a gallows high, Or in the battle's van, The fittest place for man to die, Is where he dies for man."

This sentiment of the Irish poet was peculiarly appropriate for men, who, like the patriots and "rebels" about me, were facing prison or death at every hour.

I shall bring together here some incidents of my life in Australia that are not closely connected with other events there. We made some tremendous profits in Melbourne, the sort that makes one's blood tingle, and transforms cool men into wild speculators. I have already mentioned the[Pg 166] profit of 200 per cent on the cargo of canned goods. On a cargo of flour from Boston, 7,000 barrels, we made a profit of 200 per cent, the flour selling for £4 sterling the barrel. This flour had been shipped to us through John M. Forbes, of Boston, for Philo Shelton and Moses Taylor, the millionaire of New York.

When I returned to New York in '57, during the panic, I met Taylor in Wall Street. He must have been in terrible need of money to keep his head above water, and he at once said to me: "Why did you charge me 7 ½ per cent commission for handling that cargo of flour in Melbourne?" I looked at him in astonishment. He had forgotten the enormous profit he had made on the shipment, and remembered now only the small matter of the commission he had been compelled to pay.

I replied that the commission was our usual charge. He told me he was buying up his own paper in the street, and was not in temporary distress. "I do not think you should have charged me more than 5 per cent commission," he said. I was disgusted at this view of a transaction that had brought him in a profit that would have been considered marvelous even by a usurer. "All right," I said, "I will give you the difference now." And I gave him a check for $2,500.

I met a large number of actors and actresses in Melbourne, for it was quite the custom as early as that for stars of the stage, whether tragedians[Pg 167] like Edwin Booth, or dancers like Lola Montez, to make a tour of the world and take in Australia on the circuit. I was astonished to meet Booth and Laura Keene, "stranded," one day, although they had made a successful tour in England. They did not appeal to the rough audiences of Australia, and so did not have enough money to take them back to the States. It so happened that I had just bought the City of Norfolk to send to San Francisco as the pioneer of a new line, which is now thoroughly established, and making rapid passages between the two ports. I gave them free passage to San Francisco. Laura Keene frequently mentioned the fact in "asides" on the stage, but I never received a word of thanks or appreciation from Booth. Kate Hayes and Bushnell also visited Australia while I was there, and I gave them a concert and started them off on their tour.

But the greatest sensation that was created in the theatrical world of Australia during my stay was made by Lola Montez, the dancer from Madrid. She danced and pirouetted on the necks and hearts of men. The rough mining element went wild over her, and she had the wealth and rank of Melbourne at her feet. One morning she burst into my office, and called out in her quaint accent, "Is Mr. George Francis Train here? Tell him that I am his old friend from Boston, and that I have just arrived from San Francisco." She had called to make a complaint against the captain[Pg 168] of our ship, whom she wanted us to discharge for some supposed discourtesy to her. We patched up this quarrel, and I did everything I could to insure her a successful season in Melbourne. She had a tremendous vogue, and danced before crowded houses.

One night I called at the green-room of the theater to see her, sending in my card. I had seated myself on the sofa to wait until she finished her dancing. Suddenly the door flew open, and in rushed something that looked like a great ball of feathers. This ball flew toward me and I was enveloped in a cloud of lace! The bold little dancer had thrown her foot over my head!

My life in Australia, now drawing to a close, as I had made arrangements for leaving there to continue my business operations in Japan, had been very charming and profitable. Everything was novel and strange to me, and it all made a deep and lasting impression upon my mind, which was then eagerly receptive.

I find, in recalling these impressions, that my first idea of Australia still remains the most prominent one left in my memory. Australia was truly the antipodes. Everything seemed to be reversed, a topsy-turvy land. At Botany Bay I was astonished to find the swans were black, thereby demolishing our beautiful ideas about "milk-white" swans. The birds talked, screamed, or brayed, instead of singing, and the trees shed their bark in[Pg 169]stead of their leaves. The big end of the pears was at the stem, and cherry-stones grew on the outside of the fruit. I was sitting one day in the garden of the governor-general when I thought I felt some one tap me on the shoulder. Then my coat was wrenched off my back, and I turned just in time to see it disappear down the throat of a tame Australian ostrich, called an emu. The bird had taken me for a vegetable.

Sidney Smith describes the kangaroo as an animal with the head of a rabbit, the body of a deer, a tail like a bed-post, and which, when in danger, puts its young into a pocket in its stomach. But the most marvelous of all the queer things of Australia, to my mind, was the animal that laid eggs like a hen, suckled its young like a goat, and was web-footed, like a duck. This was the duckbill, or water-mole, which the Australians called the Patybus.

I also saw in Tasmania, and on Flinder's Island, the race of men that was then considered the most remarkable on the globe, the original Tasmanian savages; and I saw, also, the most curious weapon that man has ever invented, the boomerang. Holmes has described this weapon in one of his humorous verses:

"The boomerang, which the Australian throws, Cuts its own circle, and hits you on the nose."

I got one of the Bushmen to throw his boomerang for me. He threw it around a tree and the missile came back toward us. I fully expected to be sent[Pg 170] sprawling. It dropped almost at the feet of the savage that threw it. Even gold in that land is found where it all ends in our country—in pockets!

Before closing the account of my Australian experiences, I want to record that when I arrived in Melbourne that flourishing port was in a horrible condition for a city of its size and importance. Its streets were such as would not have been tolerated in an American city of half its size or one tenth its wealth. There were practically no public works. After I had been there for some little time, a plan was put on foot to improve the city. It moved along very slowly, as no one seemed to know exactly what to do, or how to do it. Finally, an elaborate program was drawn up, and all that was needed to carry it out was the money, which would have to be borrowed.

The chairman of the improvement committee, or whatever it was called, came to see me to get me to undertake the floating of the necessary loan. I suggested a number of improvements, such as fire-engines, better office buildings, better paved streets, and new gas-works. All of these suggestions were accepted, and I forecast the floating of the loan. They got the money in London, and Melbourne was remodeled, so far as its appearance was concerned, and was finally made one of the most attractive cities in the British colonies. It now has a population of half a million.[Pg 171]




I have already referred to my purpose of going to Japan to establish a branch business there. This idea came to me in Australia, after Commodore Perry had opened the country to foreigners. It has always been my desire to be first on the ground, and I saw that Japan offered the greatest possible opportunities for trade of all sorts. I had fixed upon Yokohama as the place in which to open our branch house. The rapid development of that city since then, under new conditions, and the tremendous increase of its trade with Europe and America, as well as with India, China, and Australasia, have well justified my early judgment. I knew we could acquire great influence in the world of commerce, and become, perhaps, the greatest shipping house of the globe, with branch houses at Boston, Liverpool, Melbourne, and Yokohama.

This is as good a place as any to give the reasons for the failure of these ambitious plans. I[Pg 172] had gradually worked out the whole program, giving to it hours and days of careful and painstaking examination. I felt that the scheme was absolutely safe from every point of view. It was big and almost grandiose; but I felt it was sure to result in vast fortunes, in the building up of a trade that the world had never before conceived or dreamed of, and in the development of American commerce.

In fact, I see now that I was more than half a century ahead of J. Pierpont Morgan. I should have formed a great shipping and navigation business that would have dwarfed anything else of the kind in the world. My plan was not limited to a few lines of ships between Europe and New York. It was not confined to an Atlantic ferry. I foresaw, as I fancied, American ships dominating the trade of all oceans. I saw the American merchant flag in every port of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans, and doing the carrying trade of the world. I had some such vague idea when I introduced the fast clipper service between Boston, New York, and San Francisco, and, again, when I organized the fast sailing-ship service between Boston and Australia. But I did not see it all clear before me, as I saw it in Australia. The Orient had cleared my eyes.

Of course, my first thought was for the up-building of our house. I wanted it to take the leading part in the stupendous task, and to become[Pg 173] the first house of the world. All this could have been accomplished, except that I had to contend against the conservatism of New England, and the very easily understood desire of Colonel Train that his house should directly own all its ships. This was, of course, impossible. He could not own them, but he might control them. I urged upon him the policy of retaining a controlling interest only, and letting others come in, bringing the capital we should need for the greater enterprise. This was my idea of "combination," of a great "shipping combine," more than half a century before it was undertaken, in another way, by Mr. Morgan and his associates.

Colonel Train's persistent demand that he should own all the ships, put an end to the plan. It not only put an end to a grand project, but put an end to his business. He was soon confronted with difficulties. The business had outgrown him and his limited means, had become unwieldy and unmanageable. As I had foreseen, it needed more men, more minds, more money; and these were not forthcoming. And so, in '57, Colonel Train was forced down, literally crushed beneath the weight of his own undertakings, as Tarpeia was crushed beneath the Sabine shields. He was the victim of his desire to own and dominate everything.

Two years before this collapse of a great idea, I left Australia for Japan, by way of Java, Sin[Pg 174]gapore, and China, with high hopes. I had visions, which were to accompany me for a year or two more, and then I had to abandon them and turn my attention to other fields. From Melbourne, I sailed on the Dashing Wave. Has it ever occurred to any one who writes or thinks of the old days of sailing vessels, those winged ships, that the very names of boats have changed, indicating the transformation from romance to reality, from poetry to mere prose and work-a-day business? In those days we had beautiful and suggestive names for ships, just as we ought to try to find beautiful and suggestive names for all truly beautiful and lovable things. Now we send out our City of Paris, or St. Louis, or St. Paul, or the Minneapolis, or the Astoria, or Kentucky, or Blaamanden, or Rotterdam, or Ryndam, or Noordam. Then we had such names as Flying Cloud, the clipper that shortened the distance between the ends of the world; the Sovereign of the Seas, the Monarch of the Ocean, the Flying Arrow, the Sea Eagle. The Dashing Wave, Captain Fiske, carried me to Batavia in twenty-six days. We were accompanied, for a portion of the trip, by the Flying Arrow.

At Anjer, in the Straits of Sunda, the Malays came off to the ship in their little boats with provisions of all sorts to sell. Every one of them had letters of recommendation, as they thought, from the English captains and officers who had previously traded with them; but these letters, if[Pg 175] they could have been translated for their possessors, would have been instantly cast into the sea and a general riot perhaps would have followed. One of the letters read something like this: "If this black thief brings any eggs to sell to you, don't buy them, as they are always rotten. He may also try to sell you a rooster, but don't buy it, as it is the same cock that crew when Peter denied Jesus." Of course everybody on the ship roared with laughter as each letter was handed up to us and read aloud for the edification of all. The simple Malays guffawed loudly in their boats, thinking that we were heartily pleased with them and their wares. When next I passed through the Sunda Straits, Krakatoa had been at work in eruption and had completely changed the face of the coast, and Anjer itself and the little island it stood on were gone.

This Dutch colony was a revelation to me in every way. I had never seen anything at all like it in any other part of the world, and was never again to see anything quite so quaint or so delightful. The ride from Batavia to the hotel was full of surprises. I was accompanied by a troop of little children, all of them pressing close up to us and crying for "doits"—small copper coins. I scattered these little coins among them again and again, but they could never get enough, but kept on crying, "doit, doit!" Then the color of the trees, the rich shades of the flowers that flourished[Pg 176] everywhere, the beauty of the scenery—all was a delightful surprise. I have never seen elsewhere so many or such rare flowers. The whole island of Java, as I was soon to learn, is a vast botanical garden, far more beautiful and rare than any that science can create. Nature, the great horticulturist, has here done her best and final work. The air, too, was delicious. It was perfumed by flowers, aromatic herbs, and spices. I had never realized before what was meant by the legends of the "Spice Islands," and I fancied that here was the place for man to live and die.

I drove to the residence of the governor-general at Buitenzorg, thirty-five miles south of Batavia, which was situated in a tremendous garden of flowers and trees. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and I am quite sure that I have never seen anything more beautiful since. I was so delighted with Java, indeed, that I had a model of a Javanese village made for me, and shipped it home to my wife with the greatest care. What was my surprise, when I finally reached home, and asked eagerly if the model had been received, to be told that nothing had been seen of it. "Didn't something come from me from Java?" Oh, yes, something had come, but it looked so big and uninteresting that it had been put down in the cellar. And there my beautiful model of the Javanese village had lain, in ignominy, for years! I restored it to its proper posi[Pg 177]tion in the world, by sending it to the Boston Museum. It was lost in the fire that soon afterward destroyed that building.

It was in Java that I first learned to love flowers, and I have loved them more and more every year of my life since. The natives of that wonderful island love to strew flowers over everything, and to garland everything with beautiful blossoms. I soon became infatuated with the custom of carrying flowers, and adopted the boutonnière, which I afterward introduced in Paris in '56, in London in '57, and in New York in '58. I have endeavored to wear a spray of flowers in the lapel of my coat every day since my visit to Java.

There was one particularly pleasing custom, which I think should have been long ago introduced in this country. This was the fashion of bringing in fruit to the table covered with flowers. It is a custom that delights three senses at once—the smell, the sight, the taste. The first time I saw it was at the table of Mr. Whitelaw Reid, when he gave a dinner to me and my friends. After we had finished eating, I was asked if I did not wish for some of the fruit. I looked around and could not see fruit anywhere. In front of me were great masses of flowers in baskets, and I could readily detect the odor of fruits of various kinds, but they were invisible. I had almost decided that they were outside in the garden, and that possibly[Pg 178] we were expected to pluck them from the trees, which, heavily laden with their burdens, hung temptingly against the windows. But no, the fruit was immediately before me, hidden beneath masses of cut flowers, in trays and baskets. I thought it a beautiful custom, and one that distinctly appeals to esthetic taste. It could well be introduced at Newport or Saratoga, or in Fifth Avenue mansions.

I regretted that Great Britain had lost, through a piece of carelessness, these magnificent islands now controlled by Holland; although the Dutch have done about as well as any other people could have done, I suppose. I believe it was because Lord Canning did not open his eastern mail one morning, that these islands became a possession of Holland instead of Great Britain.

I did not, on the occasion of my first visit, see anything of the Achinese. But I passed, in '92, on my last trip around the world, the northwestern end of Sumatra, and Captain Hogg, of the Moyune, pointed to the little town of Achin, built on piles. He said that in the interior the Dutch were still fighting the Achinese. They had then been fighting these desperate Mohammedans—converted Malays—for thirty years. I have since thought, having in view this prolonged struggle for freedom of the Mohammedan Malays of Sumatra, how desperate is our undertaking in the Philippines, where we are trying to subjugate a far larger[Pg 179] population of Mohammedans, the Moros of the southern islands of the archipelago. Holland, I believe, has spent already something like 500,000,000 florins to exterminate the Achinese. It may cost us far more to exterminate the Moros.

I left Batavia for Singapore on a Dutch man-of-war, Captain Fabius. We stopped first at the island of Banka, belonging to Holland, and I saw there the famous tin-mines, which are greater than those of Cornwall, England. They were the property of the brother of the King of Holland. We did not stop at Sarawak, because of the little war that "Rajah" Brooke, afterward known as Sarawak Brooke, was carrying on there. We arrived at Singapore just too late to meet Townsend Harris, the first American diplomatic representative to Japan, as he had gone up to Siam. Harris's visit to Japan was the real beginning of a new era in the trade of the far East, and no other diplomatic mission in the history of this country has been fraught with greater results.

Singapore was then a port of much dirtiness and much business. All the vessels of the world came there, and the greatest variety of cargoes that I have ever seen. The most interesting thing I saw there was the magnificent home of a great Chinese millionaire, who managed the largest business in Singapore, or, indeed, in that part of[Pg 180] the world. He had a splendid palace, surrounded by beautiful and extensive gardens, the whole being worthy of a king or emperor. Here he lived in the style of some barbaric prince. This Chinaman had established in Singapore the kind of store which we in America think we invented—the department store. But I learned afterward when I went to China, that the department store is common there, and had been known for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. This development of the store is as old as the civilization of the Caucasian race, and, perhaps, was known to China ages before America was discovered. I had the pleasure of receiving an invitation to visit the Chinaman in his palace, and was astounded by the extensive grandeur of everything. He had a passion for animals, and owned two tigers in cages that were the largest animals of their kind I have ever seen.

From Singapore, I sailed for China on a P. & O. steamer. On board I met Dr. Parker, the new American minister to China, and my roommate was Alexander Collie, of Manchester, England, who, during our civil war, became the chief English blockade runner. I may as well dispose of my experiences with Collie while I have him before me. Collie operated his blockade-running business through the London and Westminster (Limited) Bank. When I was in England I discovered the nature of his work, and exposed him[Pg 181] through correspondence in the New York Herald. This led to the breaking down of his enterprise, and to the bank's loss of £500,000 sterling. Collie escaped arrest by fleeing to Spain. I have never heard of him since.[Pg 182]




At Hongkong I went to our correspondents, Williams, Anthon & Co., and took passage in Endicott's little steamer, the Spark, for Macao, the Portuguese port of China. Before leaving Hongkong, however, as I had some little time on my hands, I determined to see everything that was to be seen there. I had the remarkable experience of meeting the man who was afterward the husband of Hetty Green. This was E. H. Green, who was married twelve years later. He was then connected with the house of Russell & Sturgis, our correspondents in Manila, and he joined me for the trip to Macao and Canton. After a short stay in Hongkong, we went on to Macao and Canton.

We had, on this voyage, the common experiences of Chinese waters—pirates and typhoons. At the Boca Tigris, the mouth of the Canton, or Pearl, river, we were overtaken by the typhoon, and we had to anchor near an island in the midst[Pg 183] of a number of junks. These soon proved to be pirate ships, and we were, apparently, in great danger. The pirates immediately began to draw up about us, as if meditating an attack. The little Spark would, of course, stand no chance in such a contest. I did not think she could last ten minutes in a fight with those ugly junks.

The Chinese anchored their boats up close to the Spark, and I noticed that a dozen of the ugliest ruffians our own sailors had ever encountered were staring in through the cabin windows. I could not imagine what they were looking at, and went forward to see what was wrong. There was Mr. Green, sitting facing the window, his feet on the table, and making faces at the crew. He was the coolest man, I think, that I ever saw. Nothing moved him out of his imperturbable calm. The Chinamen were scowling at him, but this did not at all disconcert him. If he was going to be killed by these devils, he seemed to be thinking, he might as well die in a cheerful humor. How could he know they were not pirates in disguise?

The pirates expected that we should fall an easy prey into their hands, as our coal had given out, and there was no assistance within reach. We were in a dilemma, but we attacked the woodwork of the deck, and got enough to fire up the engines and get a head of steam, when suddenly, to the amazement of the pirates, we steamed out and away. The storm having subsided, the junks[Pg 184] were soon left far behind and we reached Macao safely.

Macao was at that time the headquarters of the new slave trade. I went to the top of a high hill for the purpose of looking at the barracoons, where slaves were kept. The barracoon is, in meaning, a little barrack, but it is, in reality, a pest-hole. Here were gathered the Chinese who were to be sent as victims and slaves to the Peruvian islands. The practise was to bring Chinamen from the interior by telling them of the great riches their countrymen had found in America, which was then a name that tempted all Chinamen of the coast regions. Many Chinamen, it was known, had gone to America and done well, and the wretches that the slave-dealers wanted to ship to Peru were told that they would be sent to America. They thought they were going to California; but they were shipped to the Chincha islands, near Callao, the port of Lima, Peru.

As Boston was then deeply interested in the subject of slavery in the Southern States, I wrote a description of this new slavery in the Chincha islands, giving the names of the boats that had recently sailed from Macao with full cargoes of slaves. I had heard of this horrible traffic in human flesh at Singapore, but could not believe it, until I actually saw it at Macao. Whenever the wretches mutinied, or grew restive, they were put down in the hold and the hatches closed. The hor[Pg 185]rors of such a position were as great as those of the infamous "Middle Passage," made so conspicuous by the abolitionists in the campaign against African slavery. Chinamen perished by hundreds, and many of the survivors were maimed or invalided for life. In a single case, some two hundred victims were smothered and died in the hold of one of these slavers. My letters to the New York Herald were copied far and near. It was discovered that some of the Boston people themselves were interested in enslaving the Chinese. But the practise could not stand the light of exposure, and so was broken up.

We hurried on from Macao to Canton, arriving there during the Chinese New Year. This city astonished me in a number of ways. It was dirty and miserable beyond imagination, with narrow streets and indescribable filth. But that it carried on a tremendous volume of trade was apparent from a glance. The river was covered with junks and larger vessels at Whampoa, the lower port, floating the flags of every nation. Warehouses, the "godowns" of the foreign traders, revealed the existence of an enormous, and profitable commerce. The word "godown," which many take to be a "pidgin-English" word composed of "go" and "down," and signifying putting things down in a warehouse, is a Malay word, and comes from "gadang," meaning a place for storing articles away. The warehouses were surrounded by[Pg 186] high walls, in the manner of private villas and town residences of the Chinese, and were adorned by beautiful gardens.

There was a pretty custom, among foreign residents, to invite all visitors to dine with them. These invitations were sent informally upon little cards called "chits." As I was already known in the business world there, I received a great many of these invitations. I was walking with Mr. Green one day, when he said it was getting time to think about dinner. "Where will you dine?" he asked. I replied that I did not know which invitation to accept. I thought that I would take some of his conceit out of him, by showing him that I had received a great number of "chits," and I drew a package of them from my pocket. I remarked coolly that I could not make up my mind what to do, as I had an embarras de richesses. I counted the "chits," and there were eleven. Green, with great nonchalance, drew out his package of "chits"; he had thirteen!

He had a great way of taking care of himself in such circumstances. He suggested that there was only one thing to do—to find out who, among our intending hosts, would have the best dinner. He then took me around to the rear of the residences, where a high wall separated the gardens from the native city, and where I discovered that the Chinese cooks always hung up the game, poultry, and other things they were preparing for[Pg 187] meals. From this array we could tell what everybody was going to have for dinner. After a stroll through the alley, we selected the house that had displayed behind it some lovely pheasants and salmon. "The owner of that house shall have the honor of being our host," said Green. I approved his choice both then and after the dinner, which was an excellent one, at which the golden pheasants were the pièce de résistance. I soon discovered for myself, what I had long heard, that the Chinese are the best cooks in the world.

Another thing I learned about the Chinaman was that he is the most honest tradesman in the world, and the most careful about debts. The Chinese New Year is the season when the Chinaman wipes off the slate and begins life over again, with a clean record. He pays up all debts, and starts even with the world. I learned that on this anniversary the Chinaman will sell everything he possesses, even his liberty, his person, his life itself, to settle his debts, so that he may face the new year with a clean conscience and a pure heart, as well as with no bills hanging over him.

As this was practically the first Chinese city I had seen, I was very curious about it. It was all new ground to me, and I was eager to explore it. I knew that this was not permitted, for six Englishmen had been killed shortly before my arrival, for daring to venture inside the walls of the Chinese city, which was then as much forbidden[Pg 188] ground as the "Pink City" of Pekin. The fate of the Englishmen only made me more keen to get inside the walls. I thought I could take care of myself sufficiently well. I was warned by friends not to risk the thing, but I took all the responsibility, and went inside, while the gates were open. I had not gone more than a few rods when I heard behind me and all around me the wildest cries. Men ran toward me with shouts of "Fankwai"—foreign devil; and I saw at once that I had stirred up a hornet's nest. I looked about me, and discovered that the gate I had come through was still open. There was a pretty fair chance, by running fast, for getting through it before the Chinamen could head me off. This calculation took about one-millionth of a second, and I plunged for the gate, "like a pawing horse let go." If the stop-watch could have been held on me, I am sure I should have established a record for a short-distance sprint.

The next time I visited Canton was in '70. The gates were open, and the walls were of no avail to keep the foreign devils out. The American merchant Nye, who was familiarly known as the Napoleon of China, because of his gigantic enterprises, took me over the city. I had read and heard about Chinamen eating rats, but this was the only time I ever saw the thing done, and I could hardly believe my eyes. A Chinaman came up to Mr. Nye and me in the street, and offered[Pg 189] to sell us a rat, a big fellow still alive. I asked if it was to be eaten, and the Chinaman said it was. "But it is not cooked," I objected. "I am not going to begin on live rats." The Chinaman said he would prepare it—the rat cooked and served to cost me two cents. I told him to go ahead. To my surprise he took a little stove from under his arm, lighted a fire, and in a few minutes had the rodent roasted to a crisp. I was astonished—and ashamed—to see how nice it looked. It did appear toothsome. I said to the Chinaman, "Now, you can eat it." He did, and with great gusto and smacking of the lips. So he got his rat and my two cents, also.

But I ascertained that there is about as much truth in the common stories in our silly juvenile literature about Chinamen generally eating rats as there is in stories of other marvelous things in far-off lands. I also found that there is no deadly upas-tree in Java, which was a distinct shock to me. I had been reared, so to speak, in the fatal shade of that upas. I had watched birds drop dead as they tried to fly across its swath of malignant shadow; I had seen animals stricken by its fatal exudations and writhing in agony. I saw all these things in the old New England farmhouse, which was the headquarters of the Methodists; but in Java, they had all disappeared. There was no upas-tree, and the mortality among birds and animals was no greater than necessary to sat[Pg 190]isfy the predatory natures of other animals, birds, and men. And now to find in China that the New England stories about general rat-eating were false, was another shock.

But the Chinese are not as cleanly as they might be. I learned this interesting fact in connection with my taste for Canton ginger. I had always, from earliest childhood, been outrageously fond of this delicate comfit. I had eaten it in great quantities whenever I got the chance; and when I arrived in Canton, the home of this conserve, I at once thought of it, and wanted to know more about its manufacture. I learned, after some inquiry, that it was put up at a factory on the island of Ho-nan, near Canton. Ho-nan is also the name of a famous Buddhist temple on the same island. The factory, as well as most of the so-called island, is built on piles. I had not altogether overlooked this fact when I asked the factory people where they got the water for the sirup of the preserves. They looked at me as if I were demented. "Water! why we are right over the river!" Yes, they were right over the river, the dirtiest and most villainous river in the world. The sewage of the dirtiest city in China—which is saying about all that can be said on the subject—is emptied into this river. I need not say that I did not eat any of the Canton ginger then, and I have not eaten any of it since.

I have set down my views as to the topsy-tur[Pg 191]viness of things in Australia. I found China topsy-turvy in a different way. The Chinese begin their books and letters where we end ours, at what we should call the back. They read from right to left, instead of from left to right, and, strangest of all, the men wear gowns, and the women—don't! When I was introduced to How-kwa, a warm friend of the Russells, I advanced to shake hands with him, but he stepped back and solemnly shook hands with himself for me. Then he waved his hands toward the door, as if to say, so it seemed to me, "get out of here," and I was amazed, but Sturgis informed me that the great Chinaman was merely beckoning to me to come nearer to him. I went up to him, by that time so impressed with the Chinese way of doing things backward that if he had kicked at me, I should have thought he was asking me to embrace him. We were in How-kwa's residence, which was surrounded by the most exquisite gardens, and were invited to partake of a cup of tea. For the first time in my life I drank tea that cost $30 a pound. We used no sugar nor milk, of course, as these things are considered in China to spoil good tea. The next best tea I have drunk, I think, was the tea I got at the fair of Nijnii Novgorod, Russia, in '57, which had been brought overland thousands of miles across mountains and deserts, packed in little bricks.

Again, I found that the Chinese look backward, and not forward, and ennoble their ancestors,[Pg 192] instead of their offspring, and pay little attention to the coming generation. They say that they know what their ancestors—the dead—were, but can not foretell what the living may become. They scull their boats in the rivers from the bow, instead of from the stern. Their boatmen are usually women. While we fear the water, and seek to make our dwelling places upon the rock or upon very dry land, the Chinaman will get as near as possible to the water. In the Canton, or Pearl, river there were, when I was there, some 100,000 persons living on the river, in boats, or on floats, or rafts. A Westerner would suppose children were in danger of falling into the water. They do fall in, but their mothers have devised a method of rescuing them without mischance. Cords are fastened to their bodies, and when a child falls overboard, the cord, which is made fast to the boat, prevents it from sinking too far before the mother or father catches hold and pulls it back into the boat.

They call all servants, male and female, "boy," which reminds me that in the Europeanized parts of some of the Japanese cities they do the same, and when they want to specify definitely that the "boy" is a girl, they say "onna no boy," which means "girl-boy," or girl servant. This is, of course, pidgin-English, the business English of the Chinese littoral. I had an amusing experience with this pidgin-English. I had invited some[Pg 193] friends to dine with me, a merchant and his two sons and three daughters, and when I asked the servant who had come, he said that the merchant had arrived and "two bull chilo, and three cow chilo."

Pidgin-English amused me very much, as it amuses every one who visits China. Augustine Heard, the merchant, who was a master of this lingo, used to interest me by reciting phrases from it, and once gave me the following poem, which is a translation of Longfellow's Excelsior. The translation was made by Mr. Heard. It has been published throughout the world as an "anonymous" production:

That nightee teem he come chop-chop One young man walkee, no can stop; Maskee snow, maskee ice; He cally flag with chop so nice— Top-side Galah!
He muchee solly; one piecee eye Lookee sharp—so fashion—my; He talkee large, he talkee stlong, Too muchee cullo; alle same gong. Top-side Galah!
Insidee house he can see light, And evly loom got fire all light, He lookee plenty ice more high, Insidee mout'h he plenty cly— Top-side Galah!
Ole man talkee, "No can walk, "Bimeby lain come, velly dark;

[Pg 194]

"Have got water, velly wide!" Maskee, my must go top-side— Top-side Galah!
"Man-man," one girlee talkee he, "What for you go top-side look—see?" And one teem more he plenty cly, But alle teem walk plenty high— Top-side Galah!
"Take care t'hat spilum tlee, young man, "Take care t'hat ice, must go man-man." One coolie chin-chin he good night, He talkee, "My can go all light"— Top-side Galah!
T'hat young man die; one large dog, see, Too muchee bobbly findee he. He hand b'long coldee, all same like ice, He holdee flag wit'h chop so nice— Top-side Galah!

When I was ready to start for Japan, I had made up my mind to visit Shanghai on the way, and was about to start, when Canton merchants, native and foreign, tried to dissuade me. They told me it would be terribly disappointing, and that I would regret wasting any time there. They did not know my nature, and that this sort of thing merely stimulated my curiosity and hardened my determination.

I took passage in the P. & O. boat, the Erin, Captain Jameson, and supposed, of course, that I should have a state-room. But I was to meet with another Chinese surprise. A great Chinese mandarin, going from Hongkong to Shanghai, had en[Pg 195]gaged the whole cabin. I was very desirous to see this great personage, and soon had the opportunity. It is my practise, when at sea, to take exercise by walking rapidly up and down the deck, thus covering many miles a day. I was taking my daily exercise the day when the mandarin came on board ship, and every time I passed the cabin I noticed that he followed me with his eyes. And so we kept it up for some time, I walking as unconcernedly as I could, and the great mandarin watching my movements as curiously as if I were some strange animal.

After a while he called the first officer, and asked what I was doing. "Walking up and down the deck," he was told. "But why does he do it? Is he paid for it?" The officer told him it was for exercise. "What is that?" asked the Chinese great man. This was explained to him, but he could not understand why any one wanted to walk up and down, and do so much unnecessary work. The Chinese are not averse to work; indeed, they are one of the most industrious people on the face of the earth, but they do not do unnecessary work, having, I infer, to do as much necessary work as is good for them. And this great dignitary pointed to me with scorn and said: "Number one foolo." I hardly need explain that "number one," throughout the far East, means the superlative degree.

This mandarin was the great Li Hung Chang, who had been summoned by his emperor to save[Pg 196] the country from the terrible Tai-ping rebellion. He was on his way from Canton to Shanghai. He there called in the splendid services of three great foreigners—the Frenchman, Bougevine, the American, Ward, and the Englishman, "Chinese" Gordon; but it was largely and chiefly due to the stubbornness and genius of Li that the empire was saved to the Manchus, at a cost, it is estimated, of twenty millions of lives.

When we reached Woosung there were six armed opium ships for cargoes of opium from Calcutta and Bombay, which the English were forcing upon the Chinese, much as we should force rum on the Mexicans, and make them pay for it. The English and Americans were reaping fortunes in the most unholy traffic the world has seen—and it will never be forgotten in China, or anywhere else, that England went to war with China to force China to permit the shipment of opium into that country to ruin millions of lives and impoverish millions of families. I feel heartily ashamed of myself for having once smuggled a little of this horrible drug into China. But I found that many Americans and Englishmen were devoting themselves to the trade as a regular business.

In Shanghai I was the guest of Russell & Co., who were then represented by Cunningham and G. Griswold Gray. The fighting in the great rebellion was still raging—it was not put down until after Gordon recaptured Nanking—and when I[Pg 197] was in Shanghai the Chinese authorities kept the gory heads of rebels hanging from the walls as an example to all who contemplated opposing the Manchu rule. These hideous trophies of the war were the most impressive things that I saw in Shanghai.

Dr. Lockhart, the missionary, acted voluntarily as my dragoman and guide in Shanghai, and showed me things in the city that I could never have discovered for myself. In one of the squares I noticed a monument 150 feet high, which, I was told by Lockhart, had been built by the poor people of China in commemoration of an old lady, who had been the Helen Gould of her day. Each of the subscribers had contributed cash equal to one tenth of a cent.

Some really splendid virtues of the Chinese impressed me deeply. I liked and admired them the more I saw them. I have already said that they are the most honest people on the globe. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that this race, the world's highest type of honesty, should be the only race to which we are inhospitable. The Chinese were far ahead of Europeans in many ways for centuries. If they have fallen behind now, it may be only because Europeans are rushing hastily through their brief civilizations, while China, having enjoyed hers for ages, is content to watch us rise, flourish, and decay, as we watch the passing generations of the forest and the field.[Pg 198]

They invented and used the things that we regard as almost the highest products of our civilization. They had used the mariner's compass for centuries before we had it; they invented printing perhaps a thousand years before Gutenberg; they invented gunpowder, which they had used in war and every-day life; they had the best paper ever seen long before the rest of the world had any, and the outside nations have not yet been able to duplicate theirs; they invented the newspaper, and have the oldest journal in the world, the Pekin Gazette; they discovered the Golden Rule, unless that honor belongs to the Greek, Thales; they developed philosophy—the highest system of the world, in Confucianism—before the Greeks, and, of course, long before the Germans; and they were the first people of the world to appreciate education.

Moreover, as Mr. Wu, the great Chinese minister at Washington, has so often pointed out, they were democratic long before Thomas Jefferson, and long before the Greeks had invented the word "democracy," or had discovered the idea of a democratic state or city. I had been taught that the hard-headed and practical Scotch had invented the macadam road, naming it from a canny Scot of that name; but I found a macadamized road in China three or four thousand years old, and long enough to wrap around the British Isles. The Chinese have long preceded us, and they may long[Pg 199] survive us, nullifying all the "imperialism" and "expansionism" of Europe and America, which would cut her into fragments as the spoil of the world.

While I was in China, on this first visit, and on the several occasions of my later visits, I gave much thought to the vast population of that country. I have come to the conclusion that the population is less than half, probably less than one-third, of what it is generally estimated to be. I notice that the Chinese viceroys have recently made an estimate of their respective provinces, at the command of the emperor, and that the total reaches the enormous figure of 425,000,000. I do not believe that there are 200,000,000 people in the entire empire, and I should prefer estimating the population at something between 150,000,000 and 175,000,000.

I found that China is not a densely populated country, as is generally supposed. The seashore is fairly crowded, and the impression one gets from seeing the surface of the water covered at Canton with rafts and floats on which more than 100,000 persons live, is that the inhabitants must swarm in the same degree over the face of the land. This is not the case. Even the coast is merely fringed with people. Back in the interior there are no such dense masses of population. All accounts that I can read of the interior, from Father Huc down to Mr. Parsons of New York,[Pg 200] bear me out in this. I can not see where there are more than 175,000,000, or 150,000,000, people in that empire. The reports of the slaughter in the Tai-ping rebellion, of some 20,000,000 people, would seem to indicate a population of at least 200,000,000 or 250,000,000; but these figures were greatly exaggerated, as all such things are in China. All statistics are nothing but guesswork, and the bigger they are the better people like them.

I engaged passage in the Greta, which was to go to Shimoda and Hakodate, Japan. My objective point was Yokohama, where it was my purpose to establish a branch of the house of Train & Co., Melbourne. My Australian house was not connected with Colonel Train's Boston and Liverpool packet firm. At this time, however, the English and Russians, who were not as good friends then as they are now, were fighting, and the little war completely upset all of my plans. I could not get to Yokohama at all, and did not visit Japan until several years later. I had, therefore, to give up my passage in the Greta, and turn my face from Japan. Just at this point, Augustine Heard invited G. Griswold Gray, of Russell & Co., and me to go to Fu-chow, on one of his sailing ships, the John Wade.

dictating his autobiography

George Francis Train dictating his autobiography in his room in the Mills Hotel.

This trip I very willingly made, as I wanted to see everything of China that was possible; but it was more adventurous than I had expected. As we were sailing down the China coast, a typhoon [Pg 201]struck us, and over went sails and masts. Our pilot from Shanghai was immediately in difficulties, as the pilot from Fu-chow, whom we had just picked up, did not understand the pilot we had brought from Shanghai. I had the utmost difficulty, owing to my inadequate mastery of pidgin-English, in establishing communication between these essential elements of our little crew. We had, finally, to get into a boat and make our way up the River Min for forty miles in the dark. It was a very trying experience, as the river was absolutely unknown to me; the darkness was "unpierceable by power of any star," and the river was treacherous in itself for small boats. To make matters worse, it was infested by junk pirates. This latter danger I had got somewhat accustomed to, as almost every inch of Chinese water was, in those days, the field of operations for these pirates. The other nations of the world had not yet adopted effective means for getting rid of them as the United States got rid of the Algerian and Tripolitan plunderers.

We arrived at Fu-chow, after a harassing night on the river. Almost the first thing to greet my curious eyes, as they were sweeping the horizon for wonders in that land of wonders, was the old suspension bridge, which the Chinese assert was built in the fourteenth century. It proved to be as much of a curiosity as the Chinese wall in the north. At Fu-chow I was a guest in the house of[Pg 202] the Russells. Immediately upon landing, Gray, Heard, and myself took sedan chairs for a tour through the city.

On this occasion I had my first opportunity to appeal to the American flag for protection. As we were passing through a very narrow, but important street, our coolies were suddenly set upon and overturned. We scrambled out of the chairs, and asked what was the matter. We learned that the viceroy was also passing through the thoroughfare, and that everything and everybody had to give way for his retinue. My companions at once stepped out of the way, but my blood was up. I resented being upset in the street, like so much refuse, in order to have the filthy thoroughfare cleared for the passage of a mere Chinese viceroy.

I had a small American flag in my pocket, carefully wrapped about its little staff, and I took it out with a great deal of display and waved the tiny emblem around my head. I dared the Chinese servants of the viceroy to touch me or to interfere with my right to pass through the streets of Fu-chow. This had its effect. I noticed at once that the Chinese in the street, who recognized the colors of the United States, fell back from me, our coolies got up out of the dirt, and once more took hold of the poles of the chairs. The viceroy passed on, pretending not to have noticed the incident, and in a few minutes the way was clear again.[Pg 203]

Fu-chow was the black-tea port of China at that time, and it had been opened just two years before. It was astonishing at what a rapid pace business of a certain kind swung along in the coast cities of the Far East. In two years several of the Canton houses, representatives of the great shipping and other business concerns of the world, had opened branch offices in Fu-chow. Commercial life there was intensely active and very prosperous.

From Fu-chow I went on down the coast to Hongkong, this being my second visit there. I noticed at Swatow several ships loaded with Chinese slaves destined for the Chincha guano islands of Peru. My destination was Calcutta, so we did not have much time to explore the Chinese coast, much as I should have liked to do so.[Pg 204]




I sailed from Hongkong on Jardine's opium steamer, Fiery Cross. As the course we took had been gone over by me in the voyage to Hongkong from Singapore, I was not especially interested in it until we had passed the Straits and got into Indian waters. The Andaman Islands, where dwells one of the lowest races of mankind, interested me greatly. We saw only a little of these curious people, the Veddahs, but I learned of a very interesting custom followed by the widows of the islands to commemorate their deceased husbands. This consists in wearing the skull of the dead man on the shoulder as a sort of ornament and memento. It is considered a delicate way of perpetuating the memory of the husband.

I had a letter of introduction from Robert Sturgis to George Ashburner, at Calcutta, and the moment I arrived Mr. Ashburner insisted upon my becoming his guest. I spent three days with him, and have never partaken of such luxurious[Pg 205] hospitality elsewhere. It is only man in the Orient who knows how to live fast and furious and get every enjoyment out of his little span of life. I was surrounded by a retinue of servants, who stood ready to answer every beck and call. Service in India being highly specialized, there was a servant for everything. I had a little army of fourteen serving men, four of whom carried my chair, or palanquin, with a relay, a man to serve me specially at table, a punka man, and a man for every other detail of living.

There was something to do and to see every moment of the time. I was taken to all the show-places of the city. The first sight shown to me was the famous Black Hole, where John Z. Holwell and one hundred and forty-six men were incarcerated in a dungeon twelve feet square. One can not escape being told the horrible story, if he visits Calcutta, and I suppose that every one hears the narrative with added adornment, after the true Hindu style. The special point of the story that was thrust at me was the orgy and heavy sleep of the rajah, while his servitors were trying to arouse him to answer the screams of the dying men in the Hole. In the morning, after the rajah had had his beauty sleep, he was told of the little difficulty the English had in breathing in the foul and heavy air of the dungeon, and he ordered them released; but death, lingering, and as heavy-handed and heavy-hearted as[Pg 206] the brutal prince, had already released most of them.

One is glad to be told for the ten thousandth time, after hearing this ghastly tale, of the clerk Clive leaving his ledgers and pens and leading an army to crush the wretches at Plassy. But, like most things of the kind, the horrors of the Black Hole have been exaggerated, until sympathy, palled, refuses longer to be torn and bled over imaginary as well as real terrors. There have been many worse catastrophes, and of a nature that should appeal more strongly to the heart. Men, women, and children have gone down in flood and pestilence, free from any stain of wrong, which can not be said of the victims of the Black Hole. We can not forget altogether that they were in India not of right, but as conquerors, and that they were originally, at least, in the wrong. But the sufferers in the Johnstown flood, the thousands who died in the Lisbon, Krakatoa, and Martinique disasters, and other thousands that go down in ships at sea—these innocent victims demand sympathy much more.

It seemed that most of my sight-seeing in Calcutta was to be limited to horrible things. Indeed, the visitor is often hurried from horror to horror, as if he were in some "chamber of horrors" in a museum. I was taken to the burning ghaut, where dead bodies are cremated. I saw some five hundred little fires, which were so many[Pg 207] pyres for the dead. I had heard much of the burning of live women in order that they should accompany their dead masters, and out of sheer curiosity asked the guard if there were men only in the fires. For answer, he took a long hook, thrust it into one of the fires, pulled it back and on its prongs brought the charred leg of a man. Immediately birds of prey (adjutants) pounced down upon the smoking flesh and bore it away. These birds are the scavengers of Calcutta, and the special guardians of the ghaut. Cremation is a great economy in India. It costs only half a cent to burn a body.

Another horror shall complete this gruesome part of my story. Being very fond of shrimps, one day I inquired, in a moment of forgetfulness—for it is a safe rule not to ask the source of anything in the East—where and how they got these shrimps. I was taken to the fishing grounds in the mouth of the river, and there saw millions of these prawns flocking, like petty scavengers, about the dead bodies that continually float down the Ganges. Human flesh was their favorite food. This was enough for me. I stopped eating shrimps in India, as I had stopped eating Canton ginger preserves in China.

On the second day of my stay in Calcutta I received cards to the reception given by Lord Dalhousie to Lord Canning, the new Governor-General. Lord Dalhousie, the retiring Governor-[Pg 208]General, was dying. In fact he had been dying for months. I shall not go into any description of the exceedingly brilliant reception. It made an ineffaceable impression upon me because of the grouping on that occasion of some of the most splendid of the British administrators and of some of the most daring of their enemies, who were even then plotting revolution and bloodshed. I was introduced to both the passing and the coming Governor-General and to General Havelock, afterwards the gallant fighter at Lucknow. I had the rare privilege of seeing these three men talking amicably with the great Nana Sahib, the leader of the Hindus at Cawnpore.

The voyage from Calcutta to Suez was almost devoid of incident. We put into Madras, a barren, flat, and dismal place, to take on passengers, and then sailed for Point de Galle, Ceylon. At this place I saw, for the first time, elephants employed in carrying and piling heavy timbers. They go about their task with an intelligence that is nearly human, lifting heavy teak timbers and placing them in regular order in great piles. I had not before supposed that any animals possessed so much sense.

Coming down to Aden, two thousand miles from Galle, sleeping with the bulkhead open opposite my berth, one night I felt something slap me in the face. As I was all alone, I did not know what to make of it. There was no light, and I could[Pg 209] not see. As soon as I fell asleep another slap came. I had heard about the insects of the tropics, but had no idea they were of such size as to cause these slaps. In the morning, I found out what had been the matter. Nine flying-fish lay dead in my berth.

At Aden, the most barren and gloomy place I have ever seen, we went out to the cantonments, which must have been built thousands of years ago. We hurried up the Red Sea to Suez, and then crossed over by land from Suez, eighty-four miles, to Cairo, with six hundred camels in the caravan. We had coaches carrying six passengers. I have a good idea of what the Sahara Desert is from having seen this desert between Suez and Cairo. Just before we reached Cairo, there was a cry from one of the coaches for us to look up at the sky. There were masts, minarets, and the whole city, in fact, painted on the sky. It was my first sight of the mirage I had heard so much about. We were then half-way from Suez to Cairo.

I put up at Shepheard's Hotel, and immediately arranged to go out to the pyramids, ten miles from Cairo. Fifty donkey boys rivaled one another to get my custom. My donkey started off, and the first thing I knew he was rolling over me in the sand. He had stepped in a gopher-hole, and down he went. Travelers now go out in trolley-cars, eat ice-cream and drink champagne under the[Pg 210] shade of the pyramids, and a splendid hotel stands alongside the Sphinx.

In going up the pyramids it took three Arabs, two to push and one to pull, to get me to the top. When we got half-way up, an Arab wanted more bakshish. I talked to him pretty loud in something he didn't understand, and he consented to take me farther. The top of the pyramid of Ghizeh has been taken away, and the pyramid is now about fifteen feet square at the summit. I made up my mind, the moment I saw the pyramids, that these gigantic blocks were not stone, but had been produced by one of the lost arts in preparing concrete. It occurred to me, as the pyramids were hollow to the base, that they had been storehouses for grain, and were not built as tombs for the Rameses and Ptolemies. Humane kings had built them, I thought, in order to employ labor in time of dearth.

As all travelers are told, it was said that a man would go down one pyramid and come up on another in so many minutes. I had seen such a number of "fakes" in my travels that, as I could not tell one Chinaman from another, how should I be able to tell one Arab from another? When this trick was done for me I thought it did not follow that the man on the other pyramid was the man who had been with me.

I was surprised when I left Cairo to find a modern railway, that had been built by Said[Pg 211] Pasha. We took the train for Alexandria. At Alexandria we took passage for the Holy Land. The Rev. J. R. MacFarlane, chaplain of Madras, wanted to see Jerusalem and landed at Joppa, or Jaffa, which has become famous for Napoleon's massacre.

In going through the Valley of Sharon, we saw orange and lemon groves, and fruits of all kinds. It was a lovely valley, but all of a sudden we struck into the most desolate country I had ever seen—a mountain, a desert, a wilderness of rocks, ravines and cañons. There were rocks to the right, rocks to the left, and rocks everywhere. My dragoman had a mule and I a donkey. One of these mules had irreverently been named Christ and the other Jesus. To the perfect horror of the clergyman—until he understood that the men could say nothing else in English—the names of the donkeys were spoken with every crack of the whip all the way to Jerusalem. The lashing of those donkeys became a medley of seeming profanity.

A few weeks before, several people had been killed by the Bedouins on the desert. Every one was talking about the dangers of the journey. After we got over this wild district, through the Valley of Jehoshaphat, we came upon a plateau and saw Jerusalem in the distance. Beautiful is that city for situation. Said my companions, at the same instant, "There are the Bedouins!" A half dozen horsemen were coming from the direction of[Pg 212] Jerusalem. We feared danger, but Abram the dragoman showed no fear. These men were really not dangerous, being only "barkers" for the hotels of Jerusalem. Neither my companion nor myself had any idea that they were employes of that kind.

One asked if we would go to "Smith's" near Mount Calvary, to "Jones's" near the Via della Rosa, or to another house on the site of Solomon's Temple. MacFarlane said, "Don't notice these people. Leave it to the dragoman." He decided that we should go to Smith's. From that time, until we left, for three days, I saw nothing but humbug and tinsel, lying and cheating, ugly women, sand-fleas and dogs, from Joppa through Ramlah. The one lovely place was an oasis where we stopped for luncheon. Of course this was a long time before Mark Twain went there and wept over the tomb of Adam.

In going through the Valley of Jehoshaphat, up the Mount of Olives, of course I was impressed with what survived of my Biblical education. New England training was still strong in me. The women of Bethlehem, carrying baskets on their heads, with flowing robes of calico, were very beautiful and healthy-looking; but when I got to Bethlehem, and with my farm and cattle experience looked for stalls and mangers, I was, of course, disgusted at being taken down two flights and shown an old wet cave as the place where the[Pg 213] Saviour was said to have been born. I have kept the morals of the old Methodists, I hope, but my superstitious notions were disappearing every minute I spent in Jerusalem.

Being in the Holy Land, all the stories I had heard in boyhood came back to me. I thought of Moses's life. I had been taught to obey his commandments, but as a child I saw that he had broken in his own life those which say, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery—had told Aaron, his brother-in-law, to make a golden image, and had got up a trust by means of which he might get all the gold. "Thou shalt do no murder," says the law—but he killed an Egyptian and hid him in the sand. "Thou shalt not commit adultery "—but he committed that sin.

And so on to the end. These commandments were taught by the man who had broken every one of them himself. Aaron, who wished to be included in the gold-corner into which Moses had refused him admittance, sought to make money in some other way, and said, "If we are going for forty years into the wilderness, we shall want salt provisions," and so bought up all the hogs he could find, without letting Moses into the corner. Then Moses spoiled the whole game by the law that no Jews should eat pork! In the Holy Land these things all came into my mind. You can imagine how I felt sixteen years after, when arrested and detained for six months in the Tombs for quoting[Pg 214] three columns of the Bible (about which I shall speak later).

At night I wanted my clergyman companion to gain an idea of night scenes in the East. To make sure that we should not be disturbed, I went to the chief of police for a guide to show us Jerusalem by candle-light. We went into a dark alley, back of Mount Calvary and the Via della Rosa, when the man's movements became suspicious. I could not see why a policeman should be so careful where he went. My object had been to see the demi-monde of Syria.

When we got to the door, the policeman tried to shut the door, but I put my foot in the way. I asked MacFarlane if he was armed. He said he had a Madras dagger. MacFarlane was already in the room and I drew him out. "Those are Bedouins," said I; "I could see their pistols and swords." Intuition told me they were murderers. Sixteen persons had been killed in Nablus in '55-'56. The chief of police was the head of the gang. I immediately saw our consul, and there was a meeting of representatives of the foreign powers, and the whole traffic was exposed. In our case they found the men, and after we left they were executed.[Pg 215]




The voyage from Joppa to Constantinople was a succession of surprises, from Latokea to Lanarca, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Smyrna. At Beyrout we were the guests of a pasha, the leading man of the place. Henry Kennard, banker, of Heywood, Kennard & Co., of London, who had joined us in Jerusalem, went with us through Syria and was going as far as the Crimea. MacFarlane was still with our party. We had a day off in Beyrout, and went up to Lebanon, inland, where the cedars seem to antedate the olive-trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

When we got to Smyrna we entered a beautiful bay, somewhat like that of Rio Janeiro, and I went out on the fortified hill that overlooks the city. I saw from the hill that troops were marching on parade, and went off alone to see them. I was told to let my donkey go his own way. He brought me to a place where were about one hundred stone steps, almost perpendicular. I had a[Pg 216] little hesitation about going down these steps, but he seemed to know what he was about, and I could do nothing with him but hang on his back. I expected him to tumble, and that would have been the last of me. He didn't miss a step, however, but took me safely to the bottom. I thought of General Putnam's stone-step ride. If he had only had a Turkish donkey he would have missed being a hero.

My donkey seemed to know more than I about the streets of Smyrna, and I gave him the rein. He took me past the sentinels to the parade ground, as he appeared to know the password, and across the parade, which was against regulations. When we arrived at the center of the ground, he began very peculiar operations, as if he had been with Barnum. Here was a donkey that would have made a fortune for a circus. The soldiers were coming up in platoons, when the donkey began to stand on his hind feet, and then on his fore feet. The roar of the advancing regiment convinced me that I was in a tight place. I got off his back and walked alone on the opposite side, and then escaped through a gate. I have never heard of the obstinate animal since.

From Smyrna to Constantinople we passed among famous Greek islands—Rhodes, and Chios, where twenty-two thousand Greeks were killed by the Turks—but we had not time to stop at any of them. At Constantinople I preferred to take pas[Pg 217]sage in a transient steamer, instead of waiting for the Government boat. I stopped here only to see our minister, Carroll Spence, of Baltimore, and then hurried on through the Marmoro Strait and the Bosporus, and into the Black Sea, and there found an immense fleet of transports, from the port of Sebastopol. I was delighted to see alongside of one another three of our Boston clippers, built by Donald Mackay in East Boston, that had brought French troops from France: the Great Republic, Captain Limeburner, the Monarch of the Seas, Captain Gardner, and the Ocean Queen of clippers, Captain Zerega. Ships filled the little bay, bows and sterns touching the shore on one side and the other. Not one could have got out in case of fire.

We immediately got horses to go out to Balaklava, and there I was glad to meet my old friend, Captain Furber, of the Black Ball Line and the Ocean Clipper, who gave me a state-room and all the courtesies of his ship. He had come for the French. Kennard went with the British. Horses and attendants were furnished me by the French generals free of cost.

My object in going to the Crimea was to speculate in munitions of war, which I supposed would be sold for a mere bagatelle. But the armies took their material away with them—English, Russian, Turkish, French, Sardinian—so there was no chance for business there. The British troops[Pg 218] were in rags and tatters. Their new uniforms had not arrived, and their shoes were worn out. I went on board one of the clippers and spoke about the shoes not having arrived. "What!" exclaimed the captain; "I am loaded with shoes! I have been here six months." "Have you notified the commissary?" "Yes." What could I do? All this was afterward described by "Bull Run" Russell. He was then the correspondent of the London Times, and so exposed the mismanagement of the war that ships were sent with provisions, uniforms, and everything, after the war was over.

Through the courtesy of French officers, I visited the city of Sebastopol, a ten-mile journey from Balaklava, and saw the twenty-one-gun battery, the Redan, and the Malakoff, and, of course, the ruin of the famous city. I could see the masts of the ships at the entrance of the bay, the fleet that had been sunk by the Russians to block the channel. Here they had crossed in the night to the Star Fort on the opposite side, which was strongly fortified. It would have been almost impossible for the allied armies to interfere with the Russians. They had made up their minds to fight it out to the end.

The French zouave commander got up a banquet for me with twenty of the officers of all the armies—Turkish, French, English, Sardinian, and Russian. I did something to stir up the battle[Pg 219] spirit again, and several times almost got them fighting over the table, especially when I asked some question that brought a reply from the zouave general of the Ninety-sixth regiment of Algiers. He rose and said to the Englishmen who had disputed his word: "You were asleep at the Alma, you were late at Inkerman, late at Balaklava, ran from the Redan and at Chernaya." This of course roused the English officers, and we had to pour oil on troubled waters.

There were two princes among the Russians, and of course they were delighted to see the allies fighting among themselves. They helped me in stirring up the quarrel. I made them admit that Todleben's earthworks were a new feature in war—baskets of earth used for forts on the inside of Sebastopol, put up impromptu, and holding these armies so long at bay. In the Redan it was complete slaughter, two thousand persons being killed. MacMahon in the Malakoff saw at once that it was not a close fort, and said, "J'y suis, j'y reste." Speaking of MacMahon, a very singular thing has been suggested. Put together a half dozen faces of French notables—MacMahon, de Lesseps, Alexandre Dumas (père et fils), Victor Hugo, President Faure, and add my portrait, and you could hardly tell which was which.

Tennyson has given to the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava the power of his name and[Pg 220] genius, but that fight has been a terribly exaggerated affair, so far as massacre was concerned. Only one third was killed, with nearly one half the horses. In our civil war, where a million men were killed, at the cost of a billion dollars, from the firing into Sumter to Appomattox, on both sides, there were many charges where the slaughter was proportionately greater than that. Take Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, where a whole division was mowed down—or Custer's command (with Sitting Bull, in the Black Hills), all massacred, with the exception of one man.[Pg 221]




From the Crimea I returned to England and thence to America. Wilson, of the White Star Line, wished to construct the largest clipper ever built in England. It was to be called the George Francis Train, as I had had in my consignment or in my charge the fastest four clippers in the world—Flying Cloud, eighty-six days from New York to San Francisco; Sovereign of the Seas, which stood in my name at the custom-house (2,200 tons), which made three hundred and seventy-four miles under sail in one day, a thing never known before by a sailing ship; the Red Jacket, built at Rockland, Maine; and the Lightning, built by Donald Mackay at East Boston, which sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne in sixty-three days; but I declined the White Star honors.

The day after my arrival in New York, in July, '56—I had been away since February, '53—the Herald had sixteen columns, about three pages,[Pg 222] from me in one issue, an amount of space I think that no correspondent before or since has had—either from India, China, or Japan. I had arrived ahead of my own mail. The members of the present staff of the Herald have no idea that the man whom they have looked upon as a lunatic was sufficiently sane to make a big sensation in their paper in July, '56. The present James Gordon Bennett was then only fifteen years old. Frederick Hudson had entire charge of the paper under the elder Bennett. Mr. Bennett, wishing to put his son ahead, pensioned Mr. Hudson, who went into the country to live, and, in crossing a railway track, was killed. Mr. Bennett gave me a very kind reception. He asked if I desired to go to Congress. "No," I said. "Don't you want to publish books?" "Yes, but I am going abroad now, as I am not through with my business in Australia."

Here, at twenty-seven years of age, I had traveled over the world, and had had these great business experiences. I had been called, as a sneering term, "Young America." I kept the name, and used it afterward in all my newspaper work. But Freeman Hunt, of the Merchants' Magazine, who edited my books, changed it to An American Merchant in Europe, Asia, and Australia, thinking the title Young America not dignified enough. This book was a series of letters from Java, Singapore, China, Bengal, Egypt, the Holy[Pg 223] Land, the Crimea, England, Melbourne, Sydney, etc. It was published in '57 in New York and London.

From New York I went to Boston, and escaped my first opportunity of going to jail by giving bail bond for $80,000. George B. Upton represented my house in Boston and was in Europe. He was traveling at the time, and his people instructed him to have me arrested for any interest the Barings might have, through open credits, in our firm. Colonel Enoch Train and Donald Mackay signed the bond. The claim was that I had made a lot of money, and had not given to others what was their due. I had never used the Barings' credit out in Australia, and returned to them $50,000. So far as Upton was concerned, I had paid my partner, Captain Caldwell, $8,000 in cash, when he went home in the Red Jacket only a few months after his arrival in Melbourne. This was my first false arrest and legal prosecution. From this time for many years I kept getting into jail, for no crime whatever.

After looking over the accounts in the books for '57, Upton came the next year to me in New York, just as I was going abroad, and said, "We are in a tight place in Boston." Imagine my astonishment when he asked if I was willing that any little account coming to me should be placed to my credit, and used to help him out. Considering that I had been arrested for $80,000, I thought[Pg 224] this peculiar. He gave me a credit for £500 on the Barings, however; it seems that $6,000 had been sent to me by the house in Melbourne while I was away. Inasmuch as I have never since inquired how my account stood with Upton, I should like to have his son look at the books, and see what may be due me.

In '56 I took my wife and baby Sue to Paris. I had observed in Europe that the Germans were more far-sighted than we in learning many languages. The bright German boy in a country town is taught French and English, and then sent to Bremen or Hamburg to get the practical education of merchants in great shipping houses. Afterward, he is sent to England to find out other modes of doing business. Then perhaps he establishes a house in New York. I found that German merchants, all over the world, were far ahead of ours, because of their practical training and mastery of languages. Seeing, in my travels around the world, that the German was everywhere, I determined to learn languages, and went to Paris for that purpose.

We took rooms at the Grand Hôtel de Louvre, in the Rue de Rivoli, and I at once went to Galignani, of "The Messenger," to find teachers. Under a Catholic priest, I studied Italian and French at the same time, which may account for my having a little of the Italian accent in my French. I have never known an Italian who was able to[Pg 225] master the French accent. I also learned Portuguese and Spanish. This gave me the four Latin languages. I had, in '48, studied German under Gasper Bütts, who came to America during the Revolution of '48 with Carl Schurz. German texts and pronunciation I had to practise every day, but as I have never had a fancy for that language, I have not kept it up. I sent my sons to Frankfort-on-the-Main to learn German, and afterward to Seelig's College in Vevey, Switzerland, in '71, to learn Italian and French. My daughter Sue was sent to Stuttgart, and she is thoroughly acquainted with both German and French.[Pg 226]




My life in Paris seems now like a romance to my memory. I was twenty-seven, and thought I had seen all the world, but discovered how little I knew, compared with others whom I met. I found, as in all these foreign cities, that notables in society and in public life often did not know one another. At Count Arthur De La More's, of the Orleanist staff, I found the greatest hostility toward the Emperor. One day we were sitting in the entresol, at his rooms on the Rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tuileries, and he asked me whether I could see that man walking on the veranda of the Tuileries. I said I could, to which he replied: "Could one of your sharpshooters pick him off from here?" I looked up with surprise, and thought I saw the future assassin of the Emperor, but said nothing. I told him some of our men like Daniel Boone and David Crockett could have picked off a squirrel as far as they could see it. It was a little while after this that the Orsini[Pg 227] bomb was fired at the Emperor. This was because Napoleon, though a member of the Carbonari, had "gone back on" the order; but his life was spared.

Prince Galitzen of Russia gave me a dinner at the Café Philippe, where I met some of the Russian nobility. These men were the cleverest I have ever seen. All were good linguists, artists, statesmen, soldiers, men of the world. At Prince Czartoryski's I met leading Poles, who were still revolutionists, plotting against Russia. One of these, a man of about eighty, said to me: "In my teens I went to St. Petersburg, saw Alexander and told him the condition of Poland. I asked him what he was going to do. He asked me what I should recommend. 'There are two ways of governing Poland,' I said; 'through interest or through fear.' Fear was the policy adopted. When I was forty, I again went to St. Petersburg. Nicholas was Czar, and he repeated the same question. I again answered, 'through interest or through fear.' When I was sixty I met another Emperor, and the same question was put to me, and I made the same reply. Poland is partitioned," he added; "and we are now only a memory."

At Leon Lillo's I met many Spaniards of the nobility and the ruling family. I still think that Lillo was the son of Queen Cristina, by her husband the Duke of Rianzares, a common soldier, of[Pg 228] physical beauty, whom she had taken from the ranks and made a Duke. I used to meet him at Lillo's. Cristina, who was then probably the richest woman in the world, had bought Malmaison, the palace of Josephine. It was through this connection that I met Salamanca, the Spanish Rothschild, her banker. I shall speak later of how I got the funds to build the Atlantic and Great Western Railway, connecting the Erie Railway with the Ohio and Mississippi Railway.

At the Marquis del Grillo's I met his wife, the great Italian tragedienne, Ristori, whom I had seen on the stage in "Elizabeth." I met leading men of the Second Empire at the house of the Count de Rouville, including Persigny, the Foreign Minister, Count de Morny, the Minister of War, Walewski, Prince "Plon-Plon," and Mocquard, private secretary to the Emperor. At Triat's Gymnase I met the men who afterward organized the, Commune. At the house of Mrs. Winfield Scott, who was then living in Paris, I met many Americans, and at Castle's I saw "Bohemia."

Meeting all these different persons, distinguished in the great world of Paris, I was gaining the knowledge that would make me a walking library of political affairs in Europe. This made up for the loss of a college career. Practical experience and observation were my university.

That year, '56-'57, was a very important time in my life in many ways. I received an invitation[Pg 229] to a ball at the Tuileries, engraved in the usual style, on a card a foot square, and bearing the enormous seal of the Second Empire. For the first time in my life I appeared in borrowed plumes. I hired what I call a "flunkey" suit, and paid forty-five francs for it. In this I was presented. It was not a civil nor a military suit, but a sort of mongrel affair, that served me as a court costume. Of course, my wife appeared in proper evening dress. There were four thousand persons present, the highest in the society of Paris, military and civil—ambassadors in their regalia, regimental officers in their different uniforms, and the aristocracy in their robes. There were also Algerian officers. Although the Tuileries was very large, the four thousand guests found themselves in much crowded rooms.

During this reception and ball I suddenly felt some cold substance going down my back. Putting my hand to my neck, I found there a cupful of ice-cream that an Algerian officer had dropped, with the usual "Pardon, monsieur." I assured him it was all right, but the ice-cream gave me a decidedly boreal feeling.

The ball was in the usual court style, and I shall not undertake to describe it. After some time had passed, all at once there was silence, instead of the terrible hum. It was the presage of something important, I felt sure. The wax candles in the chandeliers burned brilliantly, and we were[Pg 230] all on the qui vive to know what was coming. Looking toward the great folding doors at the end of the hall, a lady appeared. It was the age of crinoline, and she must have had a circumference of eight feet. She was the Emperor's favorite, the Countess Castiglione. The sensation she made was tremendous.

I should mention that before this happened I had been presented to the Empress. We were all ranged in diplomatic order for presentation, and when it came my turn she seemed particularly courteous, saying in English to me: "You speak French very fluently." To this I replied: "When I am able to speak French, your Majesty, as well as you speak English, I shall be willing to trust myself in that language. In the meanwhile let me ask you to talk as you prefer." All those presented seemed surprised to see me talking with the Empress, as it was, I believe, unusual for a foreigner and a newcomer to be thus honored. She was very gracious, and made me feel as much at home as if I had been in my own family. The introduction of the crinoline had been made by the Empress before the birth of the Prince Imperial. Anti-Imperialists had been busy gossiping about the coming event, and intimated that it was impossible the Emperor could become the father of a child.

After the Countess Castiglione appeared in such dare-devil fashion, in the presence of the[Pg 231] whole court, the Empress appeared in much different mood. The next day she went to England, and became the guest of the Queen for three weeks.

The Italian war was then going on, and I was desirous of mastering the Italian language, in order to carry out certain contracts I had made with the Emperor. McHenry was my partner, and I had written to him that the Emperor wanted a half dozen steamers immediately. The French needed the boats for the transport of provisions. McHenry was in London, and in my letter I told him there was no doubt that the war would eventually be won by France and Italy. This was just after the great battles of Magenta and Solferino. He sent me back this despatch: "La paix est signé." You can imagine my surprise. It shows that the most careful of men sometimes make mistakes.

Mr. Seward, afterward Secretary of State, was in Paris in '56-'57, and I showed him as much of Paris as I dared. There were certain places to which I did not feel authorized to take him, but I managed to make him see a great deal of Paris that would have been sealed to him had he undertaken to go about this microcosmic city without a guide.

Mr. Seward astonished me very much one day by a remark showing his detachment from the great world of European thought and power. I[Pg 232] said to him: "Mr. Seward, how would you like to see M. Lamartine?" "Which Lamartine?" he coolly asked, as if there could be more than one. "Why, Alphonse de Lamartine," said I. "There is only one Lamartine in France or in the world." He asked if I knew him. I replied that Lamartine gave receptions twice a week, and that I had attended them during the winter. As there was a reception that day, I asked Mr. Seward if he cared to go. He very gladly accepted the invitation, and we went together.

Lamartine, it will be remembered, married an English lady, a most charming, lovely woman; but he had never learned to speak English. He was like Hugo in this respect, and thought it was not worth while to struggle through the intricacies and difficulties of the spelling and pronunciation. But Madame Lamartine spoke French very fluently and accurately.

I have observed as an invariable rule, from one end of the world to the other, that if one person addresses another in a language the second person does not understand, the talker thinks he can make himself understood by simply bawling out his sentences like a town-crier. Mr. Seward was no exception to this common frailty among mankind. When he saw that Lamartine did not understand his English, he placed his hand over his mouth, and shouted into M. Lamartine's ear. The great Frenchman smiled at each discharge,[Pg 233] but could not reply. At last I said, "Mr. Seward, M. Lamartine is not deaf, but he does not understand English. If you will permit either Madame Lamartine or myself to interpret for you, there will be no difficulty." Mr. Seward continued to shout for some time, but finally broke down. Madame Lamartine and I then translated his remarks to Lamartine. After this we got along finely, and a most delightful conversation followed between the two men.

It had been my intention, when I came to Paris, to go on to Australia; but as I passed through the various countries of Europe I saw that the shadow of panic and failure rested upon all. I had, indeed, completed many arrangements for going back to Melbourne, and I had got a letter of credit from the representative in London of the Bank of New South Wales for £20,000; but the project fell through, because of the panics and disasters of the year '57.

In '58—I may mention at this place—I had a few months' leisure on my hands, and decided to give my wife and her stepmother, Mrs. George T. M. Davis, a trip about Europe. We traveled through France, Italy, Austria, and Germany. At Leghorn we went to witness a spectacular exhibition of the storming of Sebastopol. It was a magnificent spectacle, realistic in the extreme. No one was astonished, when, at the very point where the city was taken and the fort blown up, a terrific[Pg 234] burst of light appeared. Instantly thereafter we discovered that the explosion had been too real. The theater was ablaze. Of course there was a wild rush for the doors. Panic followed, and while we were crushed and trampled in the press, we got off finally with only severe bruises. The official report next morning gave the casualties as forty killed and one hundred injured; but the Government suppressed the facts. The dead and injured far outnumbered these figures.

We had an experience in Naples which illustrated the every-day use of words by the English that to us are offensive. We were aboard one of the dirty little steamboats that were found in that part of the Mediterranean, and, as the weather was somewhat rough, the bilge water had been shaken about in the night, and a terrible odor pervaded every nook of the vessel. An English nobleman was aboard, and in the morning, wishing to say something agreeable to my wife's stepmother, he said: "Madam, didn't you observe a dreadful stink in your state-room last night?" The blood of all the Pomeroys was fired by this supposed indelicacy. "Sir!" Mrs. Davis retorted, stepping back with great hauteur. I immediately advanced and said, "My dear madam, the gentleman meant no harm. The English prefer that 'nasty' word to something more refined and less shocking. He meant no insult." The Englishman explained; but the lady was not appeased.[Pg 235]

At Rome I was astonished to find a delegation awaiting me. I could not make out what it meant, when I was hailed as a "liberator." There were many "liberators" in the Italy of those days; and I supposed they mistook me for Mazzini, or Garibaldi, or Orsini, or some other leader of the people. "Whom do you think I am?" I asked. "Citizen George Francis Train," they said. This was too much for my credulity. What was worse still, they asked me to go with them. I did not know just where they expected me to go, or what they would expect me to do when I got there. Things were pretty black in Italy just then, and I did not desire to be mixed up in "revolutions," or liberty movements, or conspiracies. However, they assured me that it would be all right, and I consented to go. I went through a dark alley, to their meeting place, and was told more things about the revolution than I cared to know or to remember. It was not a healthful kind of knowledge to carry about Italy with one.

But the curious thing about the affair was that here, as everywhere, these people regarded me as a leader of revolts—Carbonari, La Commune, Chartists, Fenians, Internationals—as if I were ready for every species of deviltry. For fifteen years five or six governments kept their spies shadowing me in Europe and America.

From Italy we passed into Austria. At Vienna we had the opportunity, through the cour[Pg 236]tesy of some friends near the court, of witnessing a splendid celebration by the Order of Maria Teresa, which was the most gorgeous and most beautiful spectacle I think I have ever seen. We soon returned to London, and then came to America, where I was to resume work on projects and enterprises here.[Pg 237]




The great project of a connecting railway between the Eastern and the Middle Western States had been in my mind for some years. Queen Maria Cristina's fortune, which was then the greatest possessed by any woman in the world, seemed to me to offer a solution of the problem. I had no idea, of course, of attempting to use her fortune in any schemes of my own and for my own interest, but I saw at once that I could utilize her idle wealth to the tremendous advantage of the United States and, at the same time, render a service to her.

The Queen had had a large quantity of funds in the old United States Bank that President Jackson smashed, and James McHenry, who was connected with me in many enterprises, learned that she had taken as securities some coal lands in Pennsylvania. I saw the Duke of Rianzares, the guardsman Fernando Muñoz, whom Maria Cris[Pg 238]tina had fallen in love with and made a grandee of her kingdom, and finally married in '44. He had his headquarters at Lillo's in the Square Clary, and he introduced me to the Queen's secretary, Salerno. I suggested to the Spaniards the advisability of hunting up these coal lands of the Queen. McHenry had already made arrangements for me to go to America with her assistant secretary, Don Rodrigo de Questa, who did not know a word of English. The preliminaries were arranged, and we set out for Liverpool and America.

One of the first of many difficulties into which poor de Questa fell because of his ignorance of English occurred the first day out from Liverpool. The Spaniard, with a fatuous assumption common to Europeans, thought that whenever he failed to find the exact word he wanted in another tongue than his own, all that was necessary was to use French. The Spaniard asked the steward to get him some fish for breakfast. He knew the Spanish word would not answer, and could not think of the English word, though he had tried to master it for some time. He then fell back upon the French, and asked for "poisson." Of course, the steward thought he wanted poison, and reported the matter to headquarters, thinking suicide was contemplated.

De Questa would have had serious trouble but for the thoughtfulness of the steward, who remem[Pg 239]bered that I was traveling with him and came to me for advice. "When did he ask for poison?" I inquired. "At breakfast-time," said the steward. "Oh, then, he merely wants fish," and I explained as well as I could to an English steward the meaning of the French word.

The English of the ignorant classes look upon French very much as a clergyman does upon profanity, or as a missionary regards the muttered charms and incantations of a "voodoo" priestess. De Questa finally got his fish, but he had long before lost his appetite. This adventure discouraged him so much that he refused thenceforth to try to convey in English, Castilian, or French, any of his desires concerning food, but resorted to the primitive sign language. When he wanted eggs, he would flap his arms together and cackle like a hen that has just laid an egg. The steward who, perhaps, had never seen two square inches of countryside in his life, thought he was imitating a rooster and laughed until he almost had a fit. De Questa nearly starved. He had, at last, to eat whatever he could find, without trying to seek what he wanted. I explained to him that roosters did not lay eggs!

Our destination was Philadelphia. It was there that the Spaniards who were living upon Queen Maria Cristina's property had their headquarters. I found two of them, Christopher and John Fallon, living in fine houses, with something[Pg 240] of a court about them. They had control of about forty thousand acres of coal lands belonging to the Queen. This large tract was situated at a place to which the Fallons had given their name, Fallonville. I at once consulted several of the best lawyers of Philadelphia, among them William B. Reed, later Minister to China, and was advised to go immediately to the lands and see what had been done with them. I made an appointment with John Fallon, and we went out to the mines. I can not now recall exactly where they were, but I remember that we passed through a wilderness, after leaving the train that took us from Philadelphia, and that we had a very long drive in carriages. A railway track had been built through the forest to the mines, and it seemed to me about fifteen miles long. I appeared to John Fallon as a foreigner who was interested in mines and in coal lands in particular, but not, of course, as representing the Queen.

As soon as I returned to Philadelphia and reported what I had learned, my lawyers advised me to go back to Paris and report to the Queen. De Questa and I, therefore, returned as soon as possible. McHenry met me in London, and we went on to Paris together. We had a conference with Lillo and with Don José de Salamanca, the Queen's banker, and it was decided that the Queen should take active possession of her immense property at once. I saw that there was a great deal of[Pg 241] money in the land, and that there was a fine opportunity for the Atlantic and Great Western Railway, if I could in some way get the use of a portion of this vast coal domain.

I saw also that my connection with the affair had already given me a lever with which I could work to some purpose upon Don José de Salamanca, and that this was the best card to play.

As soon as possible I went to his banking office and asked for a conference. I had learned enough, in my dealings with bankers and financiers, to know that you must approach them on the right side, from the side of money, and not from that of a mere wish. Accordingly I wrote on my card that I wished to propose a loan of $1,000,000. I really came as a borrower, but circumstances permitted me to play the rôle of the lender. I was admitted at once, but if I had asked outright for a loan I should have been shown the door. As soon as I was in his presence I said, without preface: "I have no cash in my pockets, nor would you wish it if I had; but I want to show you something."

"I understood that you wanted to lend me a million," said the Spaniard. "I do not see the million."

"You will, when I explain," I said. "I want to use your credit." (I knew that he had none in London and that he could do nothing there.)[Pg 242] "I propose to deposit with you $2,000,000 of the bonds of the Atlantic and Great Western Railway for $1,000,000 of your notes."

I knew that the bait of a credit in London would affect him, as the Spanish bankers had long tried in vain to establish their credit in the financial metropolis of the world.

"Where is this property?" he asked.

I drew a diagram of the property for him, explaining its location and its relation to other properties and enterprises. I told him of the Erie Railway, ending at Olean, and the Ohio and Mississippi Railway from Cincinnati to St. Louis. "There is no connection between these two great highways," I said, "and a highway that will connect them will prove a fortune-maker to every one associated with the project." I explained that there were only four hundred miles between the two, and how I purposed filling in this gap. Between the two ends of the completed railways lay three wealthy States. This road has since been reorganized under the name of the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, or as it is colloquially called, the "Nyp. and O." Near Olean now exists a town that has the name of my Spanish friend, Salamanca.

My arguments touched Salamanca, but did not capture him. They paved the way, however, for his complete capitulation a little later. My next step was to go to London and confer with the Ken[Pg 243]nards, famous bankers of that city. We arranged that a nephew of the Kennards, a son of Robert William Kennard, then a member of Parliament, and an engineer of note, should accompany me to America and go over the entire ground of the proposed route.

We came to New York in October, '57, and shortly after we arrived had a conference at the St. Nicholas Hotel, in Broadway, with the men who were most interested in the proposed road. Maps were exhibited, and the plans fully explained. We then left for Olean, where we were met by the contractor in charge of the road, whose name was Doolittle, by Morton the local engineer, and by General C. L. Ward, the president of the road. The whole party took wagons for Jamestown, forty miles away. At this point we were met by a committee appointed to take care of us and to show us what had been done, and what could be done. This was the program throughout, as we passed on from point to point. Among the men who met us at Jamestown was Reuben E. Fenton, who had just been elected Representative in Congress from that district, and was afterward Governor and United States Senator. The line of the road was followed as far as Dayton, Ohio, where it was proposed to connect with the Cleveland and Cincinnati Railway.

At Mansfield there was a great gathering in honor of the occasion. The committees of the[Pg 244] three States—New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, were present, and there was speech-making. I made a speech, which is printed in full in "Spread-Eagleism," published in '58. Judge Bartley, afterward famous on the Federal bench, was chairman of the meeting. I asked if there were not some one present from Ohio who could give us a clear statement as to what we could expect. Judge Bartley called on "Mr. Sherman." A tall, spare man arose. It was John Sherman. He made a speech that was clear, direct, and forcible. Among the other speakers were Robert E. Schenck, of "Emma Mine" fame, who had been elected to Congress recently, and Senator Benjamin F. Wade.

Just before the close of the meeting I introduced Thomas Kennard, the civil engineer, and told the crowd that the road was to be built, and that it would be aided by the money of Queen Maria Cristina of Spain and the great Spanish banker, Salamanca.

I made a report in London of the work accomplished in America, and at once began to purchase material for the road. I sought out Mr. Crawshay Bailey, then a member of Parliament, and a great Welsh iron-master, and he invited me to dine with him and his wife. He had just married a charming young lady. At dinner, I found that Mrs. Bailey spoke French very fluently and that Mr. Bailey did not understand a word of it. So I[Pg 245] asked permission of the iron-worker to carry on a conversation in French with Mrs. Bailey. This delighted him very much, for he liked to see that his wife was mistress of a language of which he did not know a single word. This subtle flattery of his judgment and taste so pleased him that I was able to close a bargain with him for 25,000 tons of iron at $40 the ton—$1,000,000—pledging for the debt bonds of the Atlantic and Great Western Railway, at two to one. This was the first great purchase made after the panic of '57.

My second purchase was made from the Ebwvale Company, of Wales. Through Manager Robinson I negotiated for 30,000 tons of iron at $40 the ton—$1,200,000—pledging bonds of the road at two to one, as with Bailey.

I have already spoken of Salamanca, the Spanish Rothschild, and how I had tried to obtain his notes for $1,000,000. I finally succeeded in getting this loan, pledging $2,000,000 bonds of the road as security. At this time, no Spanish securities had been negotiated in Lombard Street for years. It was highly necessary for me that these notes of Salamanca should be negotiated. I went to Mathew Marshall, Jr., of the Bank of London. He was the son of the old Mathew Marshall who had signed the notes of the Bank of England for fifty years. I asked him what $50,000 of the notes of Salamanca would be accepted at by the bank.[Pg 246] He replied that they would not be accepted at all. "No Spanish paper can be used in London," he said.

I then had recourse to a scheme that I had previously worked out with some degree of elaboration. I asked Marshall if he would not oblige me by telling me, as a friend, what sixty-day bills of the kind I held would be worth if they could be used. He said they should be handled at six per centum. I telegraphed immediately to McHenry, in Liverpool, as follows: "Marshall will not touch this paper under six per cent. Will Moseley" (the big financier there) "do it for five?" McHenry answered that Moseley would not handle it for less than Marshall's rate, but would take $50,000 at six per centum.

Upon the strength of this, four hundred miles of railway were built, through three great States, opening up a vast territory, and bringing in fortunes to a large number of men. My arrangement with McHenry was that I was to receive £100,000 as commission. No papers were signed, but I asked McHenry to give me a paper settling $100,000 on my wife, Willie Davis Train, which was done. After the road was built, Sir Morton Peto came over from England with some London bankers, on McHenry's invitation. McHenry believed in playing the part of a prince when it came to giving an entertainment, and he invited the visitors to a banquet at Delmonico's, then at Four[Pg 247]teenth Street and Fifth Avenue. It cost him $15,000.

As I had not yet secured my commission, I thought this was a good time to collect it, and instructed my lawyer, Clark Bell, now of No. 39 Broadway, to present and press my claim. McHenry was so afraid he would be arrested while these moneyed men were with him that he settled at once, giving me his notes at four months for the balance due. Gold was very high at this time, being $1.90, and as the notes were on London, I found they could be negotiated through McHenry's agents, McAudrey & Wann. It happened that these agents had lost some $7,000 on information that I had given to them about the result of the battle of Gettysburg; so I agreed to reimburse them for the loss, if they would cash the notes at once, which they did.

This was in '66, and a singular thing happened. When the notes fell due in London on the 6th May, that comparatively small amount of gold precipitated something of a panic in the unsteady market of the day. Everything went with a crash. Moseley, the banker of Liverpool, failed for a large sum; Lemuel Goddard, of London, followed with a loss of as much more; Lunnon & Company failed for a greater amount; McHenry for some millions; Sir Morton Peto for other millions; and Overend, Gurney & Company for another large amount. This showed to me the real shallow[Pg 248]ness and insubstantiality of the great world of finance. It is built upon straw and paper. The secret of its great masters and "Napoleons" is nothing but what is known among other gamblers as "bluff."[Pg 249]




The year '57 was a memorable period in my life in many ways. The great panic of the time swept away my ambitious projects as if they had been so many dreams and visions. My contracts in Italy were destroyed by the peace of Villa Franca, and my Australian plans were defeated by the panic. I was therefore ready to take up anything that looked promising; but, as I had nothing immediately on hand, I took advantage of the enforced leisure to see more of England and the continent of Europe.

I was in Liverpool at the time the Niagara arrived there for the purpose of laying the Atlantic cable, and suggested giving a banquet to Captain Hudson and Commander Pennock, who was my cousin, and to the other officers, at Lynn's Waterloo Hotel. This old landmark, the resort of American ship-captains for many years, was torn down long ago. At this time a letter came to Captain Hudson from the Grand Duke Constantine, of[Pg 250] Russia, who had arrived at Dover in his yacht, the Livadia, thanking him for granting permission for three Russian officers to witness the laying of the cable.

In this little incident I saw an opportunity for visiting Russia in a semi-official capacity, enabling me to see that country to much better advantage. I said to Captain Hudson that I should like to carry his answer to the Grand Duke. He replied that no answer was required, and that, besides, the Grand Duke had returned to St. Petersburg. I assured him that strict courtesy demanded an acknowledgment of the letter, and that it would make no difference to me about the Grand Duke being in St. Petersburg, as I expected to visit that city. So I persuaded him to let me take an answer to the Russian Prince. I suggested the phrasing of the letter. The Grand Duke was informed that I was visiting Russia for the purpose of seeing the Nijnii Novgorod fair, and that the United States was always glad to do anything that helped to repay Russia for her long friendship.

I immediately started for London, where I called on the American Minister, George M. Dallas. Mr. Dallas was very courteous, but he evidently wanted to have the opportunity of handing the letter to the Grand Duke himself. He offered to see that the communication was expeditiously and properly transmitted. "But," I said, "I desire to take it in person." I next called on John[Pg 251] Delane, who was long the editor of the London Times, and he asked me to write him some letters from Russia. Then I left London for The Hague.

I met at The Hague Admiral Ariens, to whom I had been introduced by Captain Fabius of the Dutch man-of-war, some years before, at Singapore. From Holland I went through Germany, visiting Stettin, where I saw the beginnings of those great ship-yards that are now sending out the greatest and fastest vessels on the seas. I took a steamer from Stettin for St. Petersburg.

At the Russian capital I called at once on our minister, Governor Seymour, of Connecticut. Mr. Seymour made the same suggestion that Mr. Dallas had made. He wished to transmit the letter to the Grand Duke. But I was not to be deprived of the final triumph of my schemes. I told the Minister that I had come all the way from Liverpool, and that it was my purpose to hand the letter to the Grand Duke, if I had to travel all over the Russian empire to do it. I was informed that it was not the season for seeing this high official, as he had left the city and was at his country residence, at Strelna.

My answer to this was, in true Yankee fashion, "Where is Strelna?" I was told that it was just below Peterhof. Then I was advised not to try to see the Grand Duke on that day, as it was Saturday. I resolved to go at once to Strelna, without regard to official days, as I had long since[Pg 252] discovered that the only way to do a thing of this sort was to do it straightway. I got a fast team, and was taken out to the Grand Duke's palace.

I found the residence situated in the midst of an immense forest park, and sentinels guarded every avenue of approach. These stopped me at every turn, but at every challenge I showed the letter to the Grand Duke and told my errand. I was passed on and on, until I was inside the palace itself. Here I was met by a gentleman in the long frock coat the Russians affect, with his breast covered with military orders. He offered, as soon as I told him my errand, to take the letter to the Grand Duke; but I merely said that it was my purpose to hand it to him in person. I now began to fear that it would require some little time to get into the presence of this high dignitary. I expected to be put off for several days, and then to end up against a secretary or an aide-de-camp, who would finally have me meet some one very near the Grand Duke, but not the Grand Duke himself.

I was at last shown by this military-looking gentleman into a reception room of the most spacious proportions. I sat down and prepared to wait for a secretary or aide-de-camp, when, suddenly, the door flew open, and, with a rapid step, a handsome, delicate-looking gentleman advanced toward me. I rose, and again went through the tiresome explanation that I had a letter for the[Pg 253] Grand Duke, which I should like to hand to him in person, and so on, and so on. I expected to receive the reply that this gentleman would be greatly pleased to relieve me of the trouble, and was prepared to answer rather severely that I wished to hand the letter to his Grace myself. He said, with a gracious smile, which played like a dim light over his pale features, that he would see that the Grand Duke received the letter. "But," I said, "I must hand it to him myself." "Is it necessary?" he asked, with his faint smile. "It is," I replied as firmly as I could.

He stepped back a little, and said, with a bow, "I am the Grand Duke." I almost sank into the chair with surprise. As soon as I recovered my composure, I handed him the letter, which I now felt to be a very small affair for so much ceremony and trouble.

While I was waiting for the Grand Duke to read the letter, two great dogs came into the room, from different directions, and immediately began fighting. The Grand Duke said something in Russian, which showed that he at least knew how to speak commandingly. The great beasts, with drooping tails, slunk from his presence like whipped children.

The Grand Duke Constantine was a younger brother of the Czar, and was a man of many accomplishments. He spoke with ease and grace seven languages, and his English was quite[Pg 254] as grammatical and exact as my own. The Grand Duke, as soon as he had read the letter, called in his aide-de-camp, Colonel Greig, and said that the colonel would see to it that all my needs were attended to immediately, and expressed the wish that he might see me on my return from Nijnii. "I should like to know what you, as an American, think of Russia."

Colonel Greig took me to the residence of his mother, the widow of Admiral Greig of the Russian navy, who lived just opposite Kronstadt. We were driven over in a troika, or droshky, with one horse trotting in the middle and one on each side, in full gallop. It was the most delightfully exhilarating drive I had ever taken, and I still think that the troika is the most attractive of all vehicles. At the Greigs' I was treated with the utmost consideration, and was a guest at a banquet the first night I was there. When I came to prepare for this function, I remembered that I had no change of clothes with me, as I had come out from St. Petersburg in a great hurry.

In this dilemma, I turned to Colonel Greig and explained that it was not possible for me to attend the banquet as I had no dress clothes with me. He looked me over, and replied: "I think we are about the same size. Suppose you try one of my suits?" I accepted the offer at once, and found that his suit fitted me as well as my own. The banquet was a great affair, with a vast concourse[Pg 255] of "skis," "offs," "neffs," and so on—little tag-ends of words by which one may tell a Russian name, even if it were possible not to tell it from its general appearance and sound without them.

After a few days at the Greigs', I left for Moscow, where I was received by Prince Dombriski, brother-in-law of the Emperor. The old city of Moscow impressed me more than any other city of Europe. It seemed to belong to quite another world and to a different civilization. There is something primitive and prehistoric about it—elemental in its somberness and in its grandeur. I was astonished to find in the Kremlin a portrait of Napoleon at the battle of Borodino.

In going from the capital to Moscow over the straight line of railway, I heard much of the way that the Czar Nicholas had built the road. It is said that he summoned to him his chief contractor and engineer, Carmichael, and asked him to make specifications for the line as arranged for between the two cities. The Czar confidently expected that he was being deceived about all matters of this kind, and was prepared for fraud in this enterprise. Carmichael drew up elaborate specifications, which Nicholas saw at once were entirely too elaborate, and gave abundant room for "pickings." He turned to Carmichael and asked if the specifications were all right. Carmichael assured him they were. "All right, then," said Nicholas, "I shall turn them over, just as they are, to Major[Pg 256] Whistler." The Major was the uncle of the famous artist of to-day. Whistler built the road on Carmichael's specifications, and made a fortune, which has been the foundation of a half dozen family estates—the Winans, Harrison, Whistler estates, et al.

I observed a peculiar effect of the direct method of the Czar in building a straight road to Moscow. All the big cities and even the prosperous and important towns had, without exception, been left at varying distances from the line of railway. At the little stations on the route the Russians would get off and get hot water in samovars and make tea, each of them carrying a supply of tea in bricks, with square loaf sugar in their pockets.

Nijnii Novgorod I found a wonderful city. There, on the "Mother" Volga, as the Russians call it, I saw the origin of all the world's fairs and expositions, in this great fair, at which the nations of a world unknown to Europe and America assemble for traffic and barter. More than 100,000,000 rubles, or, roughly, $50,000,000, change hands in six weeks. There the traveler, who is too indolent or too poor to see the remote tribes of the earth, may have all these strange and outlandish races come to him, on the banks of the Volga. It was a marvelous experience to me, and I considered it as well worth a trip around the world to see Nijnii Novgorod alone.[Pg 257]

Some time afterward, when I was in England, I received a letter from Baron Bruno, the Russian Ambassador, enclosing a letter from Colonel Greig, the aide-de-camp of the Grand Duke Constantine. He said that the Grand Duke had read my book, Young America Abroad, with interest. The Grand Duke, he said, was greatly pleased with my descriptions of Russia, with my exposure of the Crimean fiasco, and with my predictions as to the future development and greatness of the country. He added that the Russian Government would like to have me visit the region of the Amur, Petropauloffski and Vladivostok, and to make a report of the prospects of far-eastern Siberia.

The Government proposed to make all the arrangements for me, so that I could travel in luxury and leisure; but I could not then undertake so extended an enterprise, besides I have ever preferred to follow my own ideas rather than those of others. I desired to pursue original lines of investigation, to go over new routes of travel and of trade, to explore corners of the world that had not been worn into paths by the myriad feet of travelers. I have always felt hampered in trying to carry out the suggestions of others. I have found that there is but one course for me, if I am to succeed, and that is to follow my own counsel. I must be myself, untrammeled, unfettered, or I fail. If I had gone to Eastern Siberia for the[Pg 258] Russian Government, I might have succeeded in the way the Government expected; but the chances, I consider, would have been against me. If I had gone there at my own motion, I might have created a sensation by exploiting that vast and magnificent region, which must soon play a tremendously important part in the history of the world.[Pg 259]




In '58, when I visited Philadelphia on business of Queen Maria Cristina, of Spain, I observed the network of street-railways in that city, which then, perhaps, had the most perfect system of surface transportation in the world. I was struck with the idea of the great convenience these railways must be to business men and to all workers, and wondered why London, with so many more persons, had never had recourse to the street-railway. At that time there was not an inch of "tramway," or street-railway, in Great Britain, or anywhere outside of New York and Philadelphia. I stored the idea up in my mind, intending to utilize it some day, when I returned to England.

Before undertaking the work of constructing street-railways in England, I was called upon to do a little financiering for my father-in-law, Colonel George T. M. Davis. Colonel Davis came to me in London and wished me to assist in organizing[Pg 260] the Adirondack Railway in upper New York. He had been introduced to Hamilton and Waddell, who had a grant from the New York legislature of 600,000 acres in the Adirondacks; but nothing could be done at that time. Later, in '64, I organized the Adirondack road, and met General Rosecrans and Cheney, of Little Falls, at the Astor House, for the purpose of building the railway. I subscribed $20,000 for myself and $20,000 for my wife, and got a large sum from my friends. A large party of us went in carriages from the United States Hotel, Saratoga, through the country along the proposed route to Lucerne. George Augustus Sala, who was visiting this country at the time, was with us, also Dr. T. C. Durant, president of the Crédit Mobilier, and J. S. T. Stranahan, of Brooklyn. This was the beginning of the Adirondack road, of which Colonel Davis was the president when he died in '88. My plan was to build the road through the entire forest to Ogdensburg, but it was never carried out. This was four decades before the millionaire colonists began flocking in there, the Huntingtons, Astors, Webbs, Rockefellers, Woodruffs, Durants, et al.

My first efforts in introducing street-railways in England were made in Liverpool. I chose this city because I had been long associated with it and because, as it was the leading seaport of the world, I had a false idea that it was progressive. But I was soon set right as to this estimate of Liverpool.[Pg 261] I recalled, in the hour of discouragement, the great difficulty I had had years before, in '50, in getting the municipal government to permit us to have lights and fire on the docks at night, in order to facilitate the handling of the very traffic that was the basis of the city's prosperity. Now, when I proposed the laying of a street-railway, I found the leading men of the city just as narrow and just as hopelessly behind the times as they had been in the matter of improving shipping facilities. They would not consider the proposition at all.

But this did not stop my efforts nor dampen my ardor. I felt that the plan would succeed somewhere in England, and I began to look about to see where the best chances of success might be found. All through the year '58 and into '59 I was at work upon my original plan. I had made every possible arrangement for the immediate construction of a railway, if I could only get some municipality to grant the necessary permission.

Finally, it occurred to me that the man I wanted was John Laird, the progressive and energetic ship-builder, the man who afterward built the Alabama and other Confederate craft, and who was at the time chairman of the Commissioners of Birkenhead, just across the Mersey opposite Liverpool. Surely, thought I, here is a man with enterprise enough to appreciate this thing, which means so much for the working peo[Pg 262]ple and all business men. So I went to Mr. Laird, and after a long conference with him, I made a formal request to the Commissioners for permission to construct a surface railway, or "tramway," as it is called in England. My proposition was to lay a track four miles long, running out to the Birkenhead Park. I offered to lay the road at my own expense, to pave a certain proportion of the streets through which the line passed, and to charge fares lower than those then charged by the omnibuses. If the line did not then satisfy the city authorities, I was to remove it at my own expense and to place all the streets affected in as good order as when the road was begun.

I found Mr. Laird as liberal-minded as I had expected, and with his influence, the Board of Commissioners consented to let me make the experiment. I went to work at once, and the road was pushed through with great despatch. I felt that it ought to get into operation before the 'buses and other transportation companies stirred up too much opposition. As soon as the working people found how comfortable and cheap the new mode of conveyance was, I felt sure they would stand up for it so strongly as to defeat the efforts of the omnibus men to tear up the line.

The "tramway" proved a success from the start, and became as popular as I had expected. It was crowded with passengers at all hours of the day. The road is there to-day; and I learned[Pg 263] a curious thing in connection with the line only recently. Twelve years ago the cashier of the restaurant in the Mills Hotel No. 1, Mr. Bryan, was the manager of the street-railway I had built in Birkenhead forty-two years ago.

Another incident of this period I should record here. I invited to Birkenhead most of the leading journalists and writers of London, having in view, of course, an intended invasion of the great metropolis. While these men were together I suggested the organization of a literary club, and this suggestion was the germ from which grew the Savage Club of London. My speech at the opening of the first street-railway in the Old World will appear in my forthcoming book of speeches.

As soon as I had completed my work in Birkenhead, I went to London, and opened a campaign for "tramways" in that metropolis of 4,000,000 people. It was a complex business from the first, and I had to make a study of the government and the conditions, and, above all, of the prejudices of citizens. The first step was to apply to every parish, for the parish there is our ward, and something more, for it has a far greater measure of home rule. Each parish had to grant permission for any tramway that was to invade its ancient and sacred precincts.

The greatest difficulty was the one I had most dreaded from the start—the opposition of the 'bus[Pg 264] men. There are, or were at that time, 6,000 omnibuses in the streets of London, and in every one of the drivers, and in every one who was interested in the profits of the business, my tramway project had an unrelenting foe. I found that the influence of these men was tremendous, because they reached the masses of the people in a way that I could never hope to do. Their efforts were unremitting. They worked upon the different parish governments, upon the people at large, upon the municipal government, and upon Parliament itself. I believe they had sufficient influence to have carried the war even into the cabinet and to the throne.

However, as I shall soon relate, the opposition of the 'buses did not prove to be as terrible in the end as I had feared. The heaviest blows came from a higher source. The "people," in England, as elsewhere, seem very powerful at first, in the beginnings of all enterprises. To oppose them would seem to be inviting destruction. But in the end it is found that the real power is lodged elsewhere, and whenever this real power wants a thing done, the "people" do not exist. The fiction that they do exist disappears at once in the clear atmosphere of "exigency."

The first of these real powers that I had to attack was the Metropolitan Board of Aldermen. I appeared before the board with a carefully prepared model of the tramways I proposed. It was[Pg 265] a sort of public hearing, and I was very closely questioned about the plans of operating the road, the effect its presence in the narrow streets would have in interfering with traffic, the danger of accidents, and so on. There was present a noble lord who, I saw, was fighting desperately against the project. He eyed me closely and made sharp interrogations. When he wished to be particularly effective, as is the manner of Englishmen of his class, he would drop his monocle, then readjust it carefully, with many writhings and twistings of his eyebrows, and, when the single glass was properly adjusted, half close the other eye and concentrate the full blaze of the monocle upon his victim. If the victim survives this, so much the worse for him, for he will then be subjected to a long drawl and to "hems" and "haws" that would shatter the composure of a Philadelphia lawyer.

We soon took up the problem of laying the tramway up Ludgate Hill, where the street is exceedingly narrow. His lordship fixed me with his glittering monocle. I saw from which direction the firing would come. After readjusting his monocle, so as to get the range better, he said:

"May I—ah—ask a question, Mr.—ah—Train?" When an Englishman wants to be sarcastic, and ironical, and cutting, he finds the means readiest to his mind in a pretended forgetting of your name.[Pg 266]

"That is what I am here for, my lord," I replied, as graciously as possible.

"You know, of course, how very narrow is Ludgate Hill. Suppose that when I go down to the Mansion House in my carriage, one of my horses should slip on your d—d rail, and break his leg—would you pay for the horse?"

This produced a sensation, for the English love a lord even more than we plain Americans do. As soon as the stir had ceased, I replied, in a voice that carried to the ends of the hall:

"My lord, if you could convince me that your d—d old horse would not have fallen if the rail had not been there, I certainly should pay for it." This retort caught the audience so happily that the tide swept around my way, to the discomfiture of the noble lord. The hearing resulted in my obtaining permission to lay a tramway from the Marble Arch at Oxford Street and from Hyde Park to Bayswater, a distance of one or two miles.

I soon built other lines, also: one from Victoria Station to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and another from Westminster Bridge to Kennington Gate on the way to Clapham. These were constructed on my patent of a half-inch flange.

The omnibuses, defeated in this part of the fighting, resorted to peculiar but effective tactics. As soon as I laid a portion of my tracks—which was done upon the same terms under which[Pg 267] I had put down the line in Birkenhead—the 'bus drivers tried in every possible way to wreck their vehicles on the rails. They would drive across again and again and take the rails in the most reckless way, in order to catch and twist their wheels. They were very often successful, and there were many accidents of this sort. The excitement increased greatly with every foot of track laid down. But the people, as in Birkenhead, were tremendously in favor of the tramway. It was such a convenience to them that they sided with me in the fight. The 'bus drivers and companies and the aristocracy were against me—the one because my trams interfered with their business, the other because they owned their private conveyances, and did not like to drive across the rails. I dressed conductors and drivers in the uniform of volunteers, to which many soldiers objected. In the meanwhile the cars were crowded with passengers at all hours, there being throughout the day a rush such as is seen in New York only in what we call the "rush hours."

In all this excitement and press of travel, accidents were, of course, unavoidable. I dreaded one, as I felt it would be the crucial point. It might turn against me the popular feeling, now so strongly setting in my direction, for the "mob" (so called) of London is fully as excitable and as ungovernable as the "mob" of Paris, and its prejudices are more deeply intrenched. Finally,[Pg 268] the dreaded accident came. A boy was killed, and I was arrested for manslaughter.

In order to appease public feeling, I paid the expenses of the boy's funeral, and did everything that could possibly be done to pay, in a material way, for his death. The accident was entirely unavoidable, and the tramway was not responsible for it, but there was a great deal of feeling, chiefly due to the agitation of the 'bus drivers. Sir John Villiers Shelley, member of Parliament, a relative of the poet, who was chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works and the representative of the omnibus people, led the fight against me. We had a terrific struggle. The bill to authorize the tramways had gone to Parliament, and this was now defeated by a few votes. I had six of the ablest lawyers of England to represent me (through Baxter, Rose & Norton, solicitors), but the influence of the 'bus men, aided by the sentiment in certain quarters against me on account of my speeches in favor of the American Union, was too strong for me, and I had to abandon the fight in London.

I then went to the Potteries in Staffordshire, and there, after renewing the same kind of fighting that I had had in London, in every new town I undertook to lay railways in, I succeeded in building seven miles of track through the crockery-making country. Those tracks are there to-day.

My failure in London, which was to have been[Pg 269] expected, must be set off by these successes in Birkenhead and in Staffordshire. I am entitled to the credit of laying the first street-railways in England, having to overcome the most formidable of all the enemies of progress—British prejudice. I afterward went to Darlington, where Stephenson had built his first railway, from Stockton to Darlington, in '29, the year of my birth, and I constructed a tramway there to connect the two steam railways through that town.

My life, therefore, spans the entire railway building of the world. The first railway was built the year I was born, and since that time, in a space of seventy-three years, more than 200,000 miles of railway have been constructed in the United States alone. In much of this great work I have had some share. I suggested the railway that connects Melbourne with its port, and mapped out the present railway system in Australia thirty-nine years ago; I organized the line that connects the Eastern States with the great Middle West—the Atlantic and Great Western Railway; and I organized and built the first railway that pierced the great American desert, and brought the Atlantic and Pacific coasts into close touch and led to the development of the far West.

I may mention here, also, that I built a street-railway in Geneva, Switzerland, which is still in use; and one in Copenhagen, which proved that there was at least something sound in "the state[Pg 270] of Denmark." Other railways, as in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, suggested by me, have been changed from horse to trolley lines. I also suggested the road in Bombay, India, which was the first railway in all Asia, now extended.

It may be of interest to record that when I began building street-railways, I sent to the United States and got the plans of the Philadelphia roads and of the New York Third Avenue line. It was therefore upon the models of American roads that these foreign railways were constructed.

It is sometimes said that it is remarkable that little is known of my connection with these great enterprises—for they were great, and epoch-making. But my achievements in England, in the pioneer work of building street-railways, is a matter of recorded history. An account of my work there will be found in a book by Dr. Albert Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews, Municipal Government in Great Britain, as well as in other books that deal with the industrial life of the period.[Pg 271]



I have referred already to the antagonism felt toward me in certain English quarters because of my speeches in favor of the Federal American Union in the hour of its danger. Love of country was always stronger in me than love of money, and I let slip no opportunity to defend the cause of the Union and to prove to the English of the upper classes that they were mistaken in supposing that the Confederacy could succeed. Those who were not in England at this period, when the South was in the first flush of its success, and when it seemed likely that England and France would go to the assistance of the South, merely to strengthen themselves by weakening the power of the United States, can not appreciate the extent or the power of British sympathy for the Confederacy. The element in England that took sides with the South was tremendously influential. I had already felt its power in a personal way through the defeat of my street-railway projects.[Pg 272]

As soon as I observed the trend of British opinion, I went into public halls and spoke in favor of the Union, and tried to show that right and might were both on the side of the North, and that, no matter how many successes the South might win in the beginning of the war, it would inevitably be crushed beneath the weight of the rest of the country. I did not confine myself to speeches of this sort. I attacked the men who were trading on the war by sending blockade runners into Southern ports in violation of the rules of war. And so I was in some relation with Lord John Russell on the one hand and Emperor Louis Napoleon on the other, in the critical days of the Mason-Slidell affair and the discussion of "belligerent rights" of the South.

Before taking part in this desperate effort to stem the tide of British opinion, and to defeat the efforts of British traders to make money by selling merchandise to the South contraband of war, I placed my wife and children on board a steamer for New York, in order to remove them from troubled scenes. This fight was to cost me the opportunity of making a fortune of perhaps $5,000,000, by upsetting my street-railway projects.

I may mention here that in '58, during the Italian war, I bought the London Morning Chronicle for the French Emperor, paying $10,000 for it, and putting Thornton Hunt, son of Leigh Hunt, in editorial charge, at a salary of $2,000 a year.[Pg 273] It was a daily paper; and as the Emperor wanted a weekly also, I arranged for him the purchase of the London Spectator at the same price, and put in Townsend (I think that was the name) as editor, at a salary of $2,000 a year. When the war was over, these papers of course passed out of our hands, and the Chronicle made a most savage attack on me in the tramway discussion, taking the part of the omnibus drivers. It again attacked me for my exposure of blockade running from British ports. I had given the names of the men interested, the marks of the cargoes, and the destination of the shipments, in a letter that I wrote to the New York Herald. These men thought they had assassinated the United States Republic.

The feeling against me was so intense at one time that I anticipated an attempt to kill me. Strong influences were brought to bear upon me to stop a paper that I had established in London, with my private secretary, George Pickering Bemis, as manager, for the purpose of disseminating correct news and views about the civil war. Secretary Seward, by the way, sent $100, through his private secretary, Mr. J. C. Derby (who was afterward connected with the house of D. Appleton and Company, and wrote his recollections under the title, Fifty Years Among Authors, Books, and Publishers), to assist in keeping up this journal. The intense strain wore upon me to such an[Pg 274] extent that I had an attack of insomnia, and almost lost my senses at times. I would not go armed, but relied for defense upon a small cane that I carried under my arm, so grasped by the end in front as to enable me to whirl it about instantly in case I should be attacked from the rear.

In August, '62, I observed that a vessel called the Mavrockadatis was acting suspiciously, and came to the conclusion that she was a blockade runner. I believed that she was loaded with supplies for the Confederates, and that as soon as she was clear at sea she would make for a Southern port or for some rendezvous with a Confederate ship. I determined to frustrate this design, and took passage on her for St. John's, Newfoundland, which I supposed was only her ostensible destination. Of course, I registered under an assumed name, taking the name "Oliver" for the occasion.

As it turned out, I was wrong. The vessel kept on her course as represented, and we arrived at St. John's, Newfoundland, instead of at a Southern port. This broke up my program, as I had intended, immediately upon reaching a Southern port, to go direct to Richmond and see if anything could be done to end the war. As I may not have occasion again to refer to this plan, which I had had in mind for some time, I shall speak of it here. I had arranged with the President and with Mr. Seward to go to Richmond to see what could be done.[Pg 275]

My idea was that the Southern leaders were in complete ignorance of the power and resources of the North; they had fancied, because of the great military reputation of Southern soldiers, that it would be comparatively easy to beat Northern troops in the field; and that, in the last event, England and France would come to their assistance. I felt confident of convincing Jefferson Davis and other Southern leaders that all these views were erroneous. I thought it would be a simple thing to prove that they could not count on the assistance of either England or France, as these two nations would not unite, and neither would undertake the task alone. I also thought I could give them such evidence of the great resources of the North, both in men and means, that they would recognize the uselessness of the struggle. Another view I had in mind was that I could impress the Southerners with the suggestion that, in the event of their abandoning the contest at that stage, they could obtain far better terms than the victorious North would be content to offer after a long and harrowing war. But this was not to be. Stanton heard of our plans, and sent Montgomery Blair to negotiate with the Southern leaders, with what result is too well known.

I landed in Newfoundland, instead of in the South, as I have said, with all my immediate plans thwarted. But I took up the course of my life exactly at the point where I stood. I was in New[Pg 276]foundland just one day, and I wrote a history of that Crown Colony from the information I gleaned in this brief visit. I shall republish it some day. I observed in St. John's, as I have observed elsewhere, that people are fashioned by their occupations. These people were physically the creation of fisheries. I noted the tomcod married to the hake, and the shark wedded to the swordfish. The fish of the sea, which they ate and upon which they lived and had their being, were all represented in their features, from the sardine to the sperm whale.

From St. John's, Newfoundland, I went to Boston, by way of St. Johns, New Brunswick, stopping at Portland, Maine, for a brief visit. At Portland I was met by B. F. Guild on behalf of Curtis Guild, owner of the Boston Commercial Bulletin, which had just been established. Guild published my Union speeches, and must have spent $1,000 a week—the Bulletin was a weekly paper—in advertising them and my other writings. I published my History of Newfoundland in his paper, receiving for it $10 a column, the only pay I have ever received from a newspaper or other periodical for my work. I saw recently a notice of the death of B. F. Guild, at the age of eighty-nine. I had no idea he was so old.

I found that I had returned to my country the most popular American in public life. I was[Pg 277] greeted everywhere by vast concourses of people, who cheered me and demanded speeches about the situation in England and my experiences there. At Boston I was met by a tremendous gathering, and it looked like a procession as we went up State Street to the Revere House. I was placed in the rooms that had been occupied by the Prince of Wales, now King Edward, on his visit to Boston two years before.

I was not long in Boston before I got into trouble by trying to enlighten the people with regard to the war. There was a great assemblage in Faneuil Hall, where Sumner was to speak, and I went there to see what was going on. Sumner was not a very effective speaker before mixed audiences, and could not have stood up for twenty minutes in the halls of London, where the greatest freedom of debate is indulged in, and where every speaker must be prepared to answer quickly and to the point any question that may be hurled at him, or to reply with sharpness and point to any retort that may come from the crowd that faces him.

I was very much astonished, therefore, to hear Sumner challenge any one in the audience to confute his arguments. I knew, of course, that the gantlet thus lightly thrown down was a mere oratorical figure, but in England it would have been taken up at once, and Sumner would have been routed. The temptation was too much for me. I[Pg 278] rose, to the apparent astonishment and embarrassment of the orator and of the committee on the platform, and said: "Mr. Sumner, when you have finished, I should like to speak a word." The cheering that greeted my acceptance of the gaily-flung challenge was cordial.

As soon as Sumner had finished I climbed to the platform. There I had the greatest difficulty with the committee, which seemed determined to suppress any attempt to reply to the hero and god of the upper classes in Boston. The moment I began to talk the committee signaled to the band, and the music drowned my voice. When the band stopped I started again, but the committee endeavored to stop me. I acted as my own policeman and cleared the platform, when another rush was made upon me, and all went tumbling from the stage. I was then arrested and taken to the City Hall. The crowd seemed decidedly with me, although the utmost it knew as to my sentiments was that I was opposed to making instant abolition of slavery a condition precedent to putting an end to the war (that is, on Lincoln's platform, Union, with or without slavery).

In a few minutes there was a crowd of some thousands of people about the City Hall demanding loudly that I be set at liberty. I quieted the people by sending word to them that I was preparing a proclamation to the American people. This proclamation, entitled "God Save the Peo[Pg 279]ple," was published by Guild in the Bulletin—and I should like to get a copy of it, as I have lost my own. This arrest did not interfere with me very much.

I made a contract with Guild to lecture in the North and West, and my first lecture was given in the Academy of Music, New York. The general subject was the abolition question, as it related to the war between the States. At this meeting Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, was made chairman, but the audience did not like that, and a big cabbage was thrown to the stage from the gallery. I then took charge of the meeting myself, and walking to the edge of the stage, said: "I see that you do not like Mr. Clay; but he should have a fair chance. If Mr. Guild will arrange for a meeting at Cooper Institute to-morrow night, I will debate with Mr. Clay, and you can then fire at me cabbages or gold dollars, as you like. I propose the following subject for the discussion: American Slavery as a Stepping-stone from African Barbarism to Christian Civilization; hence, it is a Divine Institution." Mr. Clay accepted.

The next evening, at Cooper Institute, there was a large audience that packed the hall from door to stage; $1,300 were taken at the box-office. The papers on the following morning gave from two to four columns of the discussion, and the London Times considered it sufficiently important, even to Englishmen, to give a long account and[Pg 280] editorial comments. It said that the honors of the debate had been with me, and gave a specimen of my repartee, which, it said, had swept Mr. Clay off his feet.

Mr. Clay had referred in his speech to an interview he had had with President Lincoln, who was then hesitating as to issuing the Proclamation of Emancipation. Mr. Clay said, "I told the President that I would not flesh my sword in the defense of Washington unless he issued a proclamation freeing the slaves." My reply was: "It is fair to assume that, in order to make Major-General Cassius M. Clay flesh his sword, the President will issue the proclamation." There was loud laughter at this. The President did issue his proclamation three months after this.

I received a postal card the other day from Clay, who is now a nonagenarian, in his armed castle in Kentucky.

I was in Washington after this debate, which occurred in September, '62, and was warmly received by the President and members of his cabinet. I had heard very much, of course, about the freedom of speech of Mr. Lincoln, and was not, therefore, astonished to hear him relate several characteristic anecdotes. In fact, three of the most prominent men in the United States at that time were striving to outdo one another in jests—the President, Senator Nesmyth of Oregon, and Senator Nye.[Pg 281]

Mr. Seward invited me to a dinner at his residence, the historic house where later the assassin tried to kill him, where General Sickles killed Philip Barton Key, and which in more recent years was occupied by James G. Blaine. Most of the members of the cabinet were present. I was asked to describe some of the scenes of my recent travels, and told about Chinese dinners, to their great amusement. Afterward I told them a story then current about Wendell Phillips, the abolitionist. Phillips was once in Charleston, South Carolina, and returned late to dinner at his hotel. As he approached the door, it was held open by a negro slave. Phillips said haughtily that he had never permitted a slave to wait on him, and that he would not do so now. "How long have you been a slave?" asked Mr. Phillips. The negro replied: "I ain't got no time to talk erbout dat now, wid only five minits fur dinner." Mr. Phillips told the slave to leave the room, that he would not let him serve him at the table; he would wait on himself. "I cain't do dat, suh; I is 'sponsible for de silber on de table, suh!"

Loud laughter greeted this story. In the very midst of the uproar the door was burst open, and Secretary Stanton appeared, his face white with emotion. In a choking voice, that was scarcely audible and would not have been heard had not every nerve in our bodies been strained to catch the momentous words we expected, he said: "A[Pg 282] battle is raging at Antietam! Ten thousand men have been killed, and the rebels are now probably marching on Washington!"

There was a hush, and we told no more stories that night. It is remarkable that almost all the great battles hung long in the scales of victory. Neither side knew whether it had won until some time after the fighting had ceased. It was so at Antietam, and had been so in the case of Bull Run or Manassas. The true tidings came in slowly.

I took no part in the war on the battlefield, because as soon as I looked into the causes of the war and its continuance, I saw that it was a contract war. I came back to this country fully expecting to serve. I had been assured of a high commission; but could not conscientiously take part in a struggle in which thousands of lives were being sacrificed to greed. Such was my honest belief, and such was my course.[Pg 283]




When the Englishmen tore up my street-railways in England, I made a speech in which I told them I would build a railway across the Rocky Mountains and the Great American Desert which would ruin the old trade routes across Egypt to China and Japan. I pointed out then that this route would be far shorter in time than the old route, and that Europe would soon be traversing America to reach the Orient. This was no new idea, sprung at the moment in a feeling of resentment. I had suggested this route across America ten years earlier, at Melbourne, Australia.

New York, then as now, we Americans regarded as the starting point of all great enterprises, and to New York I came. I called at once upon leaders in the world of finance—Commodore Vanderbilt, Commodore Garrison, William B. Astor, Moses H. Grinnell, Marshall O. Roberts, and others, and frankly told them of my plans. One of them said to me:

"Train, you have reputation enough now.[Pg 284] Why do something that will mar it? You are known all over the world as the Clipper-Ship King. This is enough glory for one man. If you attempt to build a railway across the desert and over the Rocky Mountains, the world will call you a lunatic."

And this was all that I received from these gentlemen! Not a word of encouragement, not a cent of contributed funds—only the warning that the world, like themselves, would call me a madman.

Unaffected by this cold reception, I kept steadily on with my task, and proceeded to organize the great railway. Congress granted the necessary charter in '62. It authorized the building of a road from the Missouri River to California, with an issue of $100,000,000 of stock and $50,000,000 of bonds—to be issued in sections, the first section to be at the rate of $16,000 a mile; and the last at $48,000 a mile, with 20,000,000 acres of land in alternate sections; and $2,000,000 to be subscribed, ten per centum to be paid into the State treasury at Albany.

My friends in Boston took the stock, but I failed to get the cash to go ahead with the road in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York. At this point, when matters looked a little dark, an idea occurred to me that cleared the sky. It made the construction of the great line a certainty. In Paris, a few years before, I had been much interested in new methods of finance as devised by the brothers[Pg 285] Émile and Isaac Perrère. These shrewd and ingenious men, finding that old methods could not be used to meet many demands of modern times, invented entirely new ones which they organized into two systems known as the Crédit Mobilier and the Crédit Foncier—or systems of credit based on personal property and land. The French Government had supported these systems of the Perrères, and Baron Haussmann had resorted to them in his great undertaking in rebuilding and remodeling the French capital, making it the most beautiful city of the world. I determined upon introducing this new style of finance into this country.

I found that a bill had been passed in Pennsylvania in '59, for Duff Green, granting authority for the organization of the "Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency," which, on examination, I saw could be used for my purpose. I bought this charter for $25,000. The bill had been "engineered" through the Pennsylvania legislature by a man named Hall, and others of the Philadelphia Custom-House. In order to make it suitable for our uses, I wanted its title changed, and asked to have the legislature change the title to "Crédit Mobilier of America." The matter went through without trouble, and I paid $500 for having this done. When I happened to mention to William H. Harding, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, that it had cost me $500 to have the title of the charter altered, he told me he could[Pg 286] have had it done for $50. I did not know as much of the ways of legislation in Pennsylvania then as I did later. The sum I paid for the charter was made up from $5,000 cash and $20,000 of the bonds of the Crédit Mobilier. I was to have $50,000 for organizing the company. I think it worth while to call attention here to the fact that this was the first so-called "Trust" organized in this country.

Having failed to raise the money elsewhere, I went to Boston, and there succeeded in launching the enterprise. My own subscription of $150,000 was the pint of water that started the great wheel of the machinery. I give here—for it is a matter of historic interest, since the building of this road marked the opening of a new era in the United States—the list of the subscribers who were my copartners in the undertaking:

Lombard and friends $100,000
Oakes and Oliver Ames 200,000
Sidney Dillon$100,000
Cyrus H. McCormick 100,000
Ben Holliday 100,000
John Duff 100,000 400,000
Glidden & Williams 50,000
Joseph Nickerson 100,000
Fred Nickerson 50,000
Baker & Morrill 50,000
Samuel Hooper and Dexter 50,000
Price Crowell 25,000
Bardwell and Otis Norcross 75,000 400,000
Williams & Guion 50,000
William H. Macy 25,000
H. S. McComb, Wilmington, Del. 75,000
George Francis Train, through Colonel George
T. M. Davis, trustee for my wife and children 150,000 300,000
———  —————


Home of George Francis Train from 1863 to 1869,
No. 156 Madison Avenue, New York.

[Pg 287]

I had offered an interest in the road to old and well-established merchants of New York and other cities—the Grays, the Goodhues, the Aspinwalls, the Howlands, the Grinnells, the Marshalls, and Davis, Brooks & Company; and even to some of the new men, like Henry Clews—agreeing to put them in "on the ground floor," if I may use an expression from the lesser world of finance. But they were afraid. It was too big. Only two of them, William H. Macy and William H. Guion, would take any stock.

There was a meeting of the stockholders in Gibson's office in Wall Street, for the purpose of electing a board of directors. By this time the importance of the road had become recognized, and there was an active desire on the part of the chiefs of the trunk lines leading to the West to obtain control of the charter. They had their representatives there, and I saw from the first that an attempt would be made to capture the Union Pacific Railway as a trophy of one of these powerful Eastern lines. Fortunately, as I perfectly well knew, they were not quite powerful enough, in the circumstance, even with a united front, to accomplish their purposes.

William B. Ogden was in the chair, and a hasty calculation convinced me that probably $200,000,000 were represented by the men gathered in the little office. Of the great trunk lines represented I can recall now the Baltimore and Ohio, the Pennsyl[Pg 288]vania, and the New York Central. It was from the forces of the last that the lightning came.

As soon as the meeting had been called to order, and the purpose of it stated by the chair, a gentleman arose and began speaking in a wheezy, squeaky voice. But he had a way of saying what he wanted, and of saying it shrewdly, adroitly, and very effectively. I could see that he was accustomed to win in the Shakespearian way—"by indirections find directions out." He said that as everything was ready for the election of a board, he would suggest that the chair should appoint a committee of five which should then name a board of thirty members. I saw that this was an adroit move to put one of these big roads in control of the committee and, of course, in control of the Union Pacific. The chair immediately named five men, three of whom were representatives of the New York Central.

I turned to a gentleman sitting next me and asked who was the wheezy-voiced man who had just taken his seat. "That is Samuel J. Tilden," said he.

Matters now went as I had foreseen. Of course, the three New York Central men on the committee named a New York Central board of directors. They thought they had quietly and effectively bagged the game. But I held in my pocket the power that could overturn all their schemes. In fact I had offered the presidency of[Pg 289] the road to Moses Taylor, founder of the City National Bank, now controlled by Mr. Stillman, and to A. A. Low, father of the present Mayor of New York. But both had laughed at me, thinking it absurd that I should presume to have so much power. I then made up my own list of officers, and named John A. Dix as president, and John J. Cisco as treasurer. Afterward I made a short speech, in which I said that I held the control of the road in my hands.

The vote was called for by the chair, and out of the $2,000,000 of stock represented, the New York Central influence cast $300,000 and I the vote of $1,700,000. This completely surprised those present, and they left the office as rats fly from a sinking ship. I was indignant, and shouted: "You stand on the corners of Wall Street again and call me a 'damned Copperhead'; but don't forget that I kicked $200,000,000 worth of you into the street!" And that is the reason why they called me "crazy"!

I went out West in the autumn of '63 to break ground for the first mile of railway track west of the Missouri river. None of the directors was with me; I was entirely alone. I made a speech at Omaha in which I predicted that the road would be completed by '70, and in which I forecast the great development of Omaha and the Northwest. This speech was printed all over the world, and I was denounced as a madman and a visionary. I[Pg 290] had, every one said, prophesied the impossible. And yet every word of that speech was true, both as to its facts and as to its prophecies. I give here a few extracts from it, as it was published in the Omaha Republican, December 3, '63, and as it has been republished in that paper and others many times since:

America is the stage, the world is the audience of to-day. While one act of the drama represents the booming of the cannon on the Rapidan, the Cumberland, and the Rio Grande, sounding the death-knell of rebellious war, the next scene records the booming of cannon on both sides of the Missouri to celebrate the grandest work of peace that ever attracted the energies of man. The great Pacific Railway is commenced, and if you knew the man who has hold of the affair as well as I do, no doubt would ever arise as to its speedy completion. The President shows his good judgment in locating the road where the Almighty placed the signal station, at the entrance of a garden seven hundred miles in length and twenty broad.

Before the first century of the nation's birth, we may see in the New York depot some strange Pacific railway notice.

"European passengers for Japan will please take the night train.

"Passengers for China this way.

"African and Asiatic freight must be distinctly marked: For Peking via San Francisco."

Immigration will soon pour into these valleys. Ten millions of emigrants will settle in this golden land in twenty years.

I had predicted that the railway would be completed in '70. On May 10, '69, the "golden spike" was driven at Ogden, Utah. Among the papers throughout the world that had ridiculed me as being mad or visionary because of my speech at Omaha in '63, was the Hongkong Press, which said[Pg 291] that it was generally thought in China during my visit there in '55-'56 that I was a little "off," and that this speech, which predicted a railway across the Rocky Mountains, clearly proved that I was both visionary and mad. On my journey around the world in '70, after the completion of the Union Pacific Railway, I stepped into the office of the Hongkong paper and asked for the editor. When he came out, I asked him to show me the file of his paper containing my Omaha speech. He brought it out, and we turned to the column. "Do you know Train?" he asked me. "Why, I am Train," I said, "and it seems that you did not know me in Hongkong in '55-'56. I have just come through the Rocky Mountains over that road."

The tremendous importance of the Union Pacific Railway is now too well known to need any further comment here from me. It is enough to say that it was through my suggestion and through my plans and energy that this mighty highway across the continent, breaking up the old trade routes of the world, and turning the tide of commerce from its ancient eastern tracks across the wide expanse of the American continent, was created.

Note.—Albert D. Richardson in his once famous book Beyond the Mississippi, writing of the development of Omaha and the Northwest, due to the building of the Union Pacific Railway, says: "Here was George Francis Train, at the head of a great company called the Crédit Foncier, organized for dealing in lands and stocks for building cities along the railway from the Missouri to Salt Lake. This corporation had been clothed by the Nebraska legislature with[Pg 292] nearly every power imaginable, save that of reconstructing the late rebel States. It was erecting neat cottages in Omaha and at other points west.

"Mr. Train owned personally about five hundred acres in Omaha, which cost him only one hundred and seventy-five dollars per acre—a most promising investment. He is a noticeable, original American, who has crowded wonderful and varied experiences into his short life. An orphan boy, employed to sweep the counting-room, he rose to the head of a great Boston shipping house; then established a branch in Liverpool; next organized and conducted a heavy commission business in Australia, and astonished his neighbors in that era of fabulous prices, with Brussels carpets, and marble counters, and a free champagne luncheon daily in his business office. Afterward he made the circuit of the world, wrote books of travel, fought British prejudices against street-railways, occupying his leisure time by fiery and audacious American war speeches to our island cousins, until he spent a fortune, and enjoyed the delights of a month in a British prison.

"Thence he returned to America; lectured everywhere; and now he is trying to build a belt of cities across the continent. At least a magnificent project. Curiously combining keen sagacity with wild enthusiasm, a man who might have built the pyramids, or been confined in a strait-jacket for eccentricities, according to the age he lived in, he observes dryly that since he began to make money, people no longer pronounce him crazy! He drinks no spirits, uses no tobacco, talks on the stump like an embodied Niagara, composes songs to order by the hour as fast as he can sing them, like an Italian improvisatore, remembers every droll story from Joe Miller to Artemus Ward, is a born actor, is intensely in earnest, and has the most absolute and outspoken faith in himself and his future."

[At the time Richardson saw me at Omaha, in '64, another noted journalist, William Hepworth Dixon, editor of the London Athenæum, called on me, traveling with Sir Charles Dilke, who was writing Greater Britain. I introduced him to Richardson.—G. F. T.]

[Pg 293]




Very much of my work that has aided most in the development of this country was done in the great region of the Northwest, then a wild country, trackless and uninhabited except by savages. Of course, the chief achievement in the West was the building of the Union Pacific Railway, which led up to the inception and construction of other railways and to the present prosperity of the entire section.

But this enterprise was merely a beginning. I looked upon it only as the launching of a hundred other projects, which, if I had been able to carry them to completion, would have transformed the West in a few years, and anticipated its present state of wealth and power by more than a full generation. One of my plans was the creation of a chain of great towns across the continent, connecting Boston with San Francisco by a magnificent highway of cities. That this was not an idle dream is shown by the rapid growth of Chicago,[Pg 294] which owes its greatness to its situation upon this natural highway of trade; and to the development of Omaha, which owes its prosperity directly to the Union Pacific Railway and to the other enterprises that I organized in the West. Most of these plans were defeated by a financial panic, by the lack of cooperation on the part of the very people who were most interested in their success, and by events which I shall describe in the following chapters of this book. Some of them succeeded, however, and I was able to accomplish a great deal of work that has gone into the winning and making of the West.

When I went out to Omaha to break ground for the Union Pacific Railway, on December 3, '63, there was only one hotel in that town. This was the Herndon House, a respectable affair, now U. P. headquarters. I was astonished that men of energy, enterprise, and means had not seized the opportunity to erect a large hotel at this point, which had already given every promise of rapid and immediate growth. But what directly suggested to me the building of such a hotel on my own account was a little incident that occurred at a breakfast that I happened to be giving in the Herndon House.

I had invited a number of prominent men—Representatives in Congress, and others—to take breakfast with me in this house, as I desired to present to them some of my plans. The break[Pg 295]fast was a characteristic Western meal, with prairie chickens and Nebraska trout. While we were seated, one of those sudden and always unexpected cyclones on the plains came up, and the hotel shook like a leaf in the terrible storm. Our table was very near a window in which were large panes of glass, which I feared could not withstand the tremendous force of the wind. They were quivering under the stress of weather, and I called to a strapping negro waiter at our table to stand with his broad back against the window. This proved a security against the storm without; but it precipitated a storm within.

Allen, the manager of the Herndon, and a man with a political turn of mind, saw in the incident an assault on the rights of the negroes. He hurried over to the table and protested against this act as an outrage. I could not afford to enter into a quarrel with him at the time, so I merely said: "I am about the size of the negro; I will take his place." I then ordered the fellow away from the window, took his post, and stayed there until the fury of the storm abated. Then I was ready for Allen.

I walked out in front of the house and, pointing to a large vacant square facing it, asked who owned it. I was told the owner's name and immediately sent a messenger for him post-haste. He arrived in a short time, and I asked his price. It was $5,000. I wrote out and handed him a check[Pg 296] for the amount, and took from him, on the spot, a deed for the property.

Then I asked for a contractor who could build a hotel. A man named Richmond was brought to me. "Can you build a three-story hotel in sixty days on this plot?" asked I. After some hesitation he said it would be merely a question of money. "How much?" I asked. "One thousand dollars a day." "Show me that you are responsible for $60,000." He did so, and I took out an envelope and sketched on the back of it a rough plan of the hotel. "I am going to the mountains," I said, "and I shall want this hotel, with 120 rooms, complete, when I return in sixty days."

When I got back, the hotel was finished. I immediately rented it to Cozzens, of West Point, New York, for $10,000 a year. This is the famous Cozzens's Hotel of Omaha, which has been more written about, I suppose, than almost any other hostelry ever built in the United States. It is the show-place of Omaha to this day.

The completion of the Union Pacific Railway in '69 was the occasion of my visit to California and Oregon. In San Francisco I gave a banquet to men prominent in finance and politics, and took occasion to refer to the efforts that had been made there, as it seemed to me, to aid the seceding States. I was making a response to the toast of "The Union," and had said that if I had been the Federal general in command in California at the[Pg 297] time, I should have hanged certain men, some of whom were present. This was pretty hot shot, and I did not wonder at the resentment of the men to whom I referred. I was astonished, however, by the terrific scoring I received from the city press the following morning. I read the reports of, and the comments on, my speech as I was making preparations to have my special car taken back East that afternoon. I was very indignant, but did not know exactly what to do.

Just at this moment a man approached me and said that he would like to have me deliver a lecture that evening in the theater. He was the manager, Mr. Poole. I saw my opportunity, and accepted, refusing, however, his proffer of $500 in gold, and agreeing to take one-half the gross receipts for a series of lectures. I delivered twenty-eight lectures to crowded houses, and took in, for my share, $10,000 in gold. I did not spare my critics, but flayed them alive.

My lectures made me the most conspicuous man on the Pacific coast, and I received despatches of congratulations, or invitations to deliver lectures and speeches, almost every hour of the day. I accepted a five-hundred-dollar check to go to Portland, Oregon, to make the Fourth-of-July oration, and the Gussie Tellefair was sent to meet me and take me up the Columbia in state. The oration was delivered to a big audience of Oregonians, trappers and mountaineers, some[Pg 298] of them wearing the quaintest garb I had ever seen.

I mention this visit to Portland because it afforded me opportunity for doing several things of importance. I visited the famous Dalles of the Columbia river, and while there saw the Indians spearing salmon. I asked what they were doing, and was told that they were laying in their supply for the winter. I went to the place where the braves were spearing the fish and asked one of them to let me try my hand at the fish-spear. Having accustomed myself a little to throwing the harpoon, I found that I could manage the Indian's weapon quite skilfully, and succeeded in landing 200 salmon in two hours. Of course the fish were running in swarms, but this two hours' work would have brought me $1,000 if I could have taken the catch to New York.

I was the first white man, I believe, that had taken salmon out of the Columbia, and it then occurred to me, if the Indians could lay up a supply of fish for the winter, why could not white men do the same thing? I thereupon suggested the canning of salmon, which has since been developed into so large an industry and has made the Quinnat salmon the king-fish of the world, putting Columbia salmon into almost every household of civilization.

Another fact may be recorded here. My Fourth-of-July oration had been such a success[Pg 299] that I was asked to make another speech at Seattle, on Puget Sound, which was then a struggling village. I was accompanying a delegation or committee from the East that was looking for a good place for the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway, which had been projected after the great success of the Union Pacific. When we passed the point where Tacoma now stands, I was attracted by its appearance and said: "There is your terminus." The committee selected the spot, and Tacoma was founded there.

An amusing incident closed this part of my journey. I went from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, and was astonished to find the town in the wildest commotion. Troops were at the docks, and the moment I landed I observed that the greatest interest was taken in me. At last, as they saw me walking about alone, one of the officials came up and said: "Why, are you alone?" "Of course," I replied. "Did you expect me to bring an army with me?" I said this in jest, not knowing how closely it touched his question. He then took me aside and said, "Read this despatch." I opened the despatch and read: "Train is on the Hunt."

I saw what it meant, and how the good people had been deceived. The Hunt was the vessel I came on, and the telegraph operator at Seattle, knowing that I had been with the Fenians and had been stirring up a good deal of trouble in Cali[Pg 300]fornia, thought he would have some fun with the Canadians. The people of Victoria were on the lookout for me to arrive with a gang of Fenians!

I did not smile, but determined to carry the joke a little further. Walking into the telegraph office, I filed the following cablegram for Dublin, Ireland. "Down England, up Ireland." The jest cost me $40 in tolls, but I enjoyed it that much.[Pg 301]




My participation in the Commune in France, in the year '70, was the result of chance. I arrived at Marseilles at a very critical time in the history of that city. It was the hour when the Commune, or, as it was styled there by many, the "Red Republic," was born. I was on a tour of the world, the voyage in which I eclipsed all former feats of travel, and circled the globe in eighty days. This served Jules Verne, two years later, as the groundwork for his famous romance Around the World in Eighty Days. The whole journey had been eventful, but I shall write of that in a later chapter.

The French Empire had fallen and the Republic had risen within the period of my swift flight; and now one of the darkest and most desperate enterprises known in history was afoot—the attempt to transform France and the world into a system of "communes," erected upon the ruins of all national governments.[Pg 302]

I arrived at Marseilles on the Donai, of the Imperial Messagerie line, October 20, '70, and went at once to the Grand Hotel de Louvre. Imagine my astonishment when I was received there by a delegation, and, for the third time, hailed as "liberator." The empty title of liberator—so easily conferred by the excitable Latin races—had become rather a joke with me. The Australian revolutionists who wanted to make me President of their paper republic, were in earnest, and would have done something notable, had they ever got the opportunity, with sufficient men behind them; but the Italians I had not felt much confidence in, nor had I any desire to work for their cause.

The acclaim with which the people in the streets of Marseilles received me, at first jarred upon my sensibilities and seemed an echo merely of the little affair in Rome. However, I was soon to be convinced of the deep sincerity of these revolutionists, and was destined to take an active and honest part in their cause. It is remarkable how a slight incident may turn the whole current of one's life. It had been my intention to proceed as rapidly as possible to Berlin, and take a look at the victorious Prussian army; but here I was at the very moment of my arrival on French soil, involved in the problems and struggles of the French people, as precipitated by the Prussian army, having for their[Pg 303] object the undoing of much of the work of the German conquest.

When the revolutionary committee hailed me as "liberator," I thought they had mistaken me for some one else, and asked the leaders if they had not done so. "No," they said; "we have heard of you and want you to join the revolution." It seemed that they had kept track of my rapid progress around the world, and told me they knew when I was at Port Said, and had prepared to receive me as soon as I landed in Marseilles.

"Six thousand people are waiting for you now in the opera-house," they said.

"Waiting for me?" I asked, incredulous. "How long have they been waiting, and what are they waiting for?"

"They have been assembled for an hour; and they want you to address them in behalf of the revolution."

"Well," said I, making a decision immediately, "I can not keep these good people waiting. I will go with you." I had decided to trust to the inspiration of the moment, when I should stand face to face with that volatile French audience.

From the moment I entered the opera-house, packed with excited people from the stage to the topmost boxes, I was possessed by the French revolutionary spirit. The fire and enthusiasm[Pg 304] of the people swept me from my feet. I was thenceforth a "Communist," a member of their "Red Republic." I felt this, as soon as I joined that cheering and ecstatic mob—for it really was a mob then, and mobs have been the germs of all great national movements in France.

A committee of some sort, prepared for the occasion, immediately seized hold of me, and we marched, or rushed, through the crowd, down the aisle, and up on the stage. About 250 persons, the more important movers in the agitation, I suppose, were standing, all cheering at the top of their voices. As I was placed upon the stage, in front of the audience, there came a burst of cheers of "Vive la République!" "Vive la Commune!" and many were shouting out my name with a French accent and a nasal "n." It was irresistible. I stepped to the front of the stage and tried to speak, but for several minutes could not utter a word that could be heard a foot away, the din of the shouting and cheering was so overwhelming.

When the shouting ceased, I told the people that I was in Marseilles on a trip around the world, but as they had called upon me to take part in their movement, I should be glad to repay, in my own behalf, a small portion of the enormous debt of gratitude that my country owed to France for Lafayette, Rochambeau, and de Grasse. I repeated a part of the "Marseillaise," which always[Pg 305] stirs Frenchmen to the depths, and a few verses from Holmes's poem on France—

"Pluck Condé's baton from the trench, Wake up stout Charles Martel; Or give some woman's hand to clench The sword of La Pucelle!"

I also urged that France should not yield an inch of her territory to the rapacious Prussians.

The excitement of the hour carried everything before it, and the crowd outside, numbering at least 20,000, finally was joined by the 6,000 inside, and the whole mass, making a grand and noisy procession, escorted me to my hotel where I had taken the entire front suite of apartments. The next morning I was waited upon by a committee of the revolutionists. They said they wanted a military leader, and that Cluseret was the man for the place. He would be able to lead the forces of the Ligue du Midi.

Cluseret was then in Switzerland, where he had taken refuge after the troops drove him out of Lyons at the orders of Gambetta. He was the Gustave Paul Cluseret who had taken part in our Civil War, serving on the staffs of McClellan and Frémont, and who later was Military Chief of the Paris Commune. We sent to Switzerland and invited General Cluseret to join us in Marseilles. To our surprise he sent word that he would need a force of 2,000 armed men! This settled Cluseret, as far as I was concerned.[Pg 306]

A few days later a card was brought to me in the hotel bearing the name "Tirez," and the statement that M. Tirez occupied room 113 in the same hotel. I went up to this room, and there found a splendid-looking fellow with a great military mustache. "Are you M. Tirez?" I asked. "I am General Cluseret," he said. "I thought you wanted 2,000 armed men?" I said. "You can probably give me more than that number," he said, with a smile. "You seem to be in command of everything and everybody here." "We shall see," I said. I asked him to go to the Cirque with me that evening.

There were at least 10,000 men in this gigantic amphitheater. I made a short speech and said I wanted to give them a surprise. "You want a military leader. I have brought you one. Here is your leader—General Gustave Paul Cluseret." He was greeted with tremendous cheers.

We at once organized military headquarters and prepared to take possession of the city. In this effort we were aided by the liberal views of the préfet, M. Esquiros, a republican, and later by the incapacity of the new préfet appointed by Gambetta, M. Gent. The next day we marched to the military fortifications with a great mass of men. General Cluseret and I were arm in arm as we entered the gates. I observed the officer in charge of the guns at the entrance about to give an order, which I knew meant a volley that would[Pg 307] sweep us into the next world. I sprang forward and seized the officer by the arm. "Come to see me at the hotel," I whispered in his ear. The order to fire was not given, and we filed into the fortifications and took possession in the name of the Commune—the "Red Republic."

The following day 150 of the Guarde Mobile came to the hotel and demanded General Cluseret. I told the officers he was not present, but they insisted upon invading my rooms. I then told them that they would not be permitted to cross the threshold alive. I was armed with a revolver, and three of my own secretaries were armed in the same way. I said to the chief officer at the door that there were four men inside and we would shoot any one who tried to enter; we thought we could kill at least two dozen of them. The Guarde held a short council outside, and I soon heard their military step resounding down the hall. They had given up the search for Cluseret.

The next morning I saw from my window an army marching down the street. I thought it was our army, and went out on the balcony and began shouting "Vive la République!" and "Vive la Commune!" with the people in the street; but there was an ominous silence in the ranks of the troops. They did not respond to these revolutionary sentiments. Then I saw the new préfet, M. Gent, Gambetta's man, in a carriage, with the army. Suddenly I heard a shot, and Gent[Pg 308] dropped to the bottom of the vehicle. Some one had tried to kill him, but missed, and the préfet did not care to be conspicuous again.

The troops came to a halt directly in front of the hotel, and I saw that the officers were regarding with anger the flag of the Commune that floated from the balcony. Orders were given, and five men, a firing squad, stepped from the ranks and knelt, with their rifles in hand, ready to fire. I knew that it was their purpose to shoot me. I do not know why, but I felt that if the thing had to be, I should die in the most dramatic manner possible. There were two other flags on the balcony, the colors of France and America. I seized both of these, and wrapped them quickly about my body. Then I stepped forward, and knelt at the front of the balcony, in the same military posture as the soldiers below me. I then shouted to the officers in French:

"Fire, fire, you miserable cowards! Fire upon the flags of France and America wrapped around the body of an American citizen—if you have the courage!"

An order was spoken, too low for me to catch, but the kneeling soldiers dropped their rifles, and then rose, and rejoined the ranks. Another order was shouted along the line, and the troops marched on down the street and out of sight.

The attempted assassination of the préfet had an unexpected effect upon public opinion in[Pg 309] Marseilles. It turned the mercurial Frenchman against the Commune. I advised General Cluseret to go at once to Paris. I even purchased a gold-laced uniform for him. His subsequent history, as military leader of the Commune in Paris, his capture, trial, release, and retirement to Switzerland, are well known.

At this time I believe the tide of war might have been turned in favor of France by some swift movement like those of which the mobile Boers made good use in South Africa, perhaps by an attack on the rear of the German armies. France was filled with German soldiers, but Germany was unguarded; and I believed then that a body of light horsemen, say, like the Algerians, might have created such a diversion by a rapid raid to the rear that it would have forced the Germans back to the Rhine, or even to Berlin. I was astonished by the tremendous amount of munitions of war, and by the masses of troops that were still available in the south of France. Leadership, and not troops, was what France lacked.

I left Marseilles for Lyons, after the troops tried to shoot me in the balcony of the hotel, and was accompanied by Cremieux, one of the leaders of the Ligue du Midi. As we left Marseilles, a man, wearing conspicuously the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, entered our compartment. I at once set him down as a spy, and began talking with Cremieux in a loud voice. My estimate of[Pg 310] his character was justified in an unpleasant way at Lyons. No sooner had we entered the suburbs of that city than our friend left the compartment and got off the train.

When the train came to a stop in the station, I sprang out of the compartment with Cremieux, and was confronted by six bayonets. Both of us were placed under arrest. Immediately I remembered the little slip of paper in my pocket which might betray Cluseret, if found, and I seized it hastily and put it into my mouth. The officer of the squad of soldiers rushed forward to stop me, but it was too late. The slip had gone. I had swallowed it.

"That was the address of General Cluseret!" shouted the officer.

"Of course," said I. "And it has gone to a rendezvous with my breakfast!"

The soldiers took Cremieux and myself to the Bastile, in Lyons, and I was detained there for thirteen days. When I went into the cell I was very tired and sat up against the wall and leaned my head against it. In a moment I detected the breathing of a man very near me, and perceived a crack in the wall, against which a spy in the adjacent cell was inclining his ear to catch any incriminating words that might pass between Cremieux and myself. It was the old trick of the Inquisition; but it did not serve the purposes of these late players of it.[Pg 311]

My secretary, Mr. Bemis, who came on from Marseilles by a later train, could not find me in Lyons. He spent a week in looking for me. At the end of that time my wife, who was in New York, telegraphed to the American legation at Paris asking if the report were true that I had been killed. It had been currently reported in America that the soldiers had shot me in Marseilles. Mr. Bemis went immediately to the Guarde Mobile, which was in sympathy with the Commune, the organization from which General Cluseret had been driven by Gambetta. The Guarde sent a deputation of 150 officers to the préfet of the city, who ordered my immediate release. Gambetta was appealed to, and he directed that I be sent to him at Tours by special train.

To Tours I went in style. I had been poisoned in the Lyons Bastile, and was ill, in consequence, having lost thirty pounds of flesh in thirteen days. I was met at Tours by Gambetta's secretary, M. Ranc, afterward a deputy, who told me I could see the Dictator at four o'clock. "Why not now?" I asked. "Because it is not possible for M. Gambetta to work until he has had his dinner." I found that these French officials were as fond of their dinner as English officials. At the appointed hour M. Ranc took me to the palace of the prefecture, and I was admitted at once to Gambetta's presence.

I found everything in confusion. The prefec[Pg 312]ture was filled with men who had been waiting for the Dictator's pleasure. In the first ante-rooms I saw men who had been waiting for three weeks; in the next rooms were those who had waited for two weeks; and in the third rooms I found officers of the army and navy, who had waited one week. As I passed in among these throngs with an air of self-possession, they took me for some grand personage, and I heard whispers that I must be the ambassador from Spain or the Papal Nuncio.

Gambetta was seated at his desk in a large and handsomely furnished room. He made not the slightest sign of being aware that I was present. He did not even turn his face toward me. I did not learn until afterward that the distinguished Italian-Frenchman had one glass eye, and could see me just as well at an angle as he could full-face. But I grew tired of standing there silent, and was already weary from my long incarceration. I decided, after taking in this strange character, then at the top of the seething pot of French politics, that the best course for me was to put on a bold front.

"When a distinguished stranger calls to see you, M. Gambetta, I think you might offer him a chair."

The great man smiled, and motioned me to a seat with considerable graciousness. I took a chair, and said:

"M. Gambetta, you are the head of France,[Pg 313] and I intend to be President of the United States. You can assist me, and I can assist you."

He looked at me with a curious regard, but did not smile.

"Send me to America, and I can help you get munitions of war, and win over the sympathy and assistance of the Americans."

I knew, of course, that he was going to send me out of France in any event, and I wanted to discount his plan.

The Dictator smiled again, and said: "You sent Cluseret to Paris, and bought him a uniform for 300 francs."

"You are only fairly well informed, M. Gambetta. I paid 350 francs for the uniform."

"Cluseret is a scoundrel," he said.

"The Communards call you that," I replied.

He ended our interview by saying a few pleasant words, bowing me out of the room, and sending me out of France forthwith.

I went straight to London, then to Liverpool, and sailed for New York in the Abyssinia, which, curiously enough, was afterward the pioneer ship on the line of boats between Vancouver and Yokohama, it having been bought by the Canadian Pacific.[Pg 314]




I have passed a great many days in jail. A jail is a good place to meditate and to plan in, if only one can be patient in such a place. Much of my work was thought out and wrought out while living in the fifteen jails of which I have been a tenant. It was in a jail in Dublin, called the Four Courts' Marshalsea, that a feeling of confidence that I might one day be President of the United States first came into definite form. It was in this prison, also, that I planned Train Villa, which was to be built in Newport. As my life in that Villa, which in its day was one of the most famous and luxurious in America, was a sort of prelude to my campaign for the Presidency, I may fitly say here what I have to say about it in this book.

Train Villa

Train Villa, George Francis Train's summer home in Newport from 1868 to 1872.

I had long wanted a handsome residence by the sea, and so, when I had nearly completed the work done in connection with the Union Pacific Railway, and there seemed to be ahead of me a period of comparative leisure, I projected this house. My [Pg 315]plans were made before I was in the Dublin jail. My wife built the Villa, or began work on it, while I was still in the Marshalsea. The lot on which it stands embraced some two and a half acres in the most delightful region of Newport. In order that my boys might have an opportunity for sport at home, I had a building put up for billiards and bowling. This was, I believe, the first residence in Newport that had a special place of this kind, although of course, many had billiard tables. A fine cottage was also built for my father-in-law, Colonel George T. M. Davis. This cottage was sold recently for $50,000, to the Dolans of Philadelphia.

The Villa itself must have cost $100,000, but the truth is, I have never known how much money was lavished upon its building and adornment. I was called rich and had never, at any time, given a thought to the mere details of money. What I wanted I got. In those days that was the substance of my economic system in personal matters. We lived there in manorial style, entertaining so lavishly and freely that the Villa became a free guest-house for all Newport. I also recollect that my living cost me more than $2,000 a week. Now I manage to live on $3 a week in the Mills Hotel, or Palace, as I call it. Here I am more contented than I was at Newport. I seem to be saving $1,997 a week. We turned out, in Newport, six carriages when we went driving; but this was a display that[Pg 316] I always set my heart against. It seemed to be mere wastefulness.

Since my occupancy, Train Villa, as it is called to this day, has been rented by some of the most prominent persons in the fashionable world. Among those who have lived in it are the Kernochans, the Kips, Governor Lippitt of Rhode Island, some of the Vanderbilts and the Mortimers. At the present time, it is occupied by George B. de Forest. It was formerly rented for $5,000 for three months or the season. It never paid us two per centum on its cost, and finally was sold by the trustee, Colonel Davis.

The Villa was once turned into a jail, although I was not the captive in that instance. In the famous Crédit Mobilier case, in '72-'73, a man, who was my guest at the time, was arrested, and, as the Crédit Mobilier men then in Newport could not give bail in the sum of $1,000,000, as demanded, an arrangement was made with the sheriff by which the Villa temporarily became a jail, where my guest was confined.

So full of confidence was I that I could be elected President in '72, that I telegraphed from San Francisco that I would reach Newport on a certain day, and wished arrangements made for a "Presidential" banquet. Although this banquet was not the end of the campaign, it was the last flourish of trumpets in my Presidential aspirations.

My political career in fact was brief. My in[Pg 317]tention was to have it extend through at least a Presidential term; but the people would not have it so. Prior to '69, '70, '71, and '72, I had taken no active part in politics, although I had been interested in various campaigns and in many great public questions of the day. I have already referred to the offer made to me by the revolutionists in Australia to make me their President. That was, perhaps, the first time that anything political ever entered my life. The offer was by no means a temptation to me and I refused to consider it, without a single poignant regret.

In '65, the Fenians, after I had espoused the general cause of the Irish, as of the oppressed of every country, asked me to attend their first convention, which was to be held in Philadelphia. They wished me to address them. This I did, but I took no active part in the work of the convention or of the faction. I had already attended the Democratic Convention in Louisville in '64, when I held a proxy from Nebraska, and had hoped to have General Dix nominated for President and Admiral Farragut for Vice-President, but I was not permitted to take my seat.

While I was in the Four Courts' Marshalsea, in Dublin, in '68, James Brooks, of the New York Express, sent word to me that the Democrats in convention were willing to nominate Salmon P. Chase if I would consent to take the second place on the ticket. This did not suit me at all, and I[Pg 318] sent a despatch to Brooks that I would take the first place only, and that as Chase was my friend, he could take the second place. This put an end to the negotiations.

But the seed of ambition had been sown, even before this, and it germinated in the old Irish prison. As soon as I got out of that jail, I began my campaign for President of the United States, and in '69 started on a program that involved 1,000 addresses to 1,000 conventions. It seemed to me that, with the effect I had always had upon people in my speeches and in personal contact, and with the record of great achievements in behalf of the progress of the world, especially with regard to the development of this country, I should succeed. I supposed that a man with my record, and without a stain on my reputation or blemish in my character, would be received as a popular candidate.

I had not the slightest doubt that I should be elected; and, with this sublime self-confidence, threw myself into the campaign with an energy and fire that never before, perhaps, characterized a Presidential candidate. I went into the campaign as into a battle. I forced fighting at every point along the line, fiercely assailing Grant and his "nepotism," on the one hand, and Greeley, and the spirit of compromise and barter that I felt his nomination represented, on the other.

In the year '69 I had made twenty-eight speeches[Pg 319] in California, and eighty on the Pacific coast. I also made a trip over the Union Pacific Railway, on the first train over that line, and made addresses at many places throughout the country. The following year, '70, I seriously set myself to the task of appealing to the people directly for support, and began a series of public addresses on the issues of the day. But this year's work was interrupted by my trip around the world in eighty days, which consumed the end of the year, from the 1st of August to Christmas.

In '71 I fought hard from January to December, making the total of my speeches to the people 800, and having spoken directly, up to that time, to something like 2,000,000 persons. Of course, my campaign was made on independent lines entirely. I was not the nominee nor the complaisant tool of any party or faction. I made my race as one who came from the bosom of the people, and who represented the highest interests of the people. It was just here that failure came. I thought I knew something of the people, and felt confident that they would prefer a man of independence, who had accomplished something for them, to a man who was a mere tool of his party, a distributor of patronage to his friends and relatives, or to one who was a mere stalking-horse. But I was mistaken. The people, as Barnum has said, love to be humbugged, and are quite ready to pay tribute to the political boss and spoilsman.[Pg 320]

A remarkable feature of my campaign was that, instead of scattering money broadcast, to draw crowds or to win votes, I made a charge for admission to hear my addresses. I spoke to audiences that paid to hear me talk to them in my own behalf and in theirs. In three years of active work—with the interruption of my trip around the world in '70—I took in $90,000 in admission charges. In spite of these charges, I spoke to more people and had greater audiences to listen to me than any other speaker during that heated campaign.

There was another remarkable thing about my campaign. I possessed tremendous power over audiences. So long as I could reach them with my voice, or talk with them or shake hands with them, I could hold them; but the moment they got out of my reach they got away from me, and slipped back again to the sway of the political bosses.

I saw that my chance of getting the nomination was lost long before the assembling of the Liberal Republican Convention of '72 in Cincinnati. I was not astonished by the result of that convention, except that I did not expect the nomination of Greeley, which I considered as a piece of political treachery, a deliberately calculated movement in the interest of Grant. But I still felt, vainly, indeed, some hope that the people would see the futility of supporting Greeley, and of placing me at the head of the ticket.

I can recall now the scenes in the Convention[Pg 321] Hall when Carl Schurz nominated Horace Greeley. Outside of some cheering on the part of those who were party to the trickery, the nomination was received with ominous stillness. Suddenly, from out of the gallery, near where I was seated, there came a thin, quavering, piercing voice, like the cry of a seer of the wilderness or a wandering Jeremiah: "Sold, by God, but the goods not delivered!"

The words sounded then like a pronouncement of doom; but it proved not to be so. The "deal" was carried out, and the "goods" were delivered. Grant was elected, and Greeley, betrayed, retired, a heart-broken man.

Before I close this chapter on the Presidency, I wish to record here one distinct service which I believe I rendered this city and the country during my campaign. It was I, and not the New York newspapers, that first exposed the so-called "Tweed Ring." I began the fight against this ring of corrupt politicians, single-handed, and kept it up for more than a year before any New York paper or any other journal took up the issue. The New York papers, in fact, refused to publish my speech exposing this gang of public plunderers, and it was published in the Lyons, N. Y., Republican on April 22, '71. The speech itself was made long before Tweed had been accused of misuse of public funds.

While I was on the platform, a voice asked me "Who is the ring?" I had been attacking the[Pg 322] "ring" in every public utterance in New York. I replied: "Hoffman, Tweed, Sweeney, Fisk, and Gould." Later, in the same speech, I said: "Tweed and Sweeney are taxing you from head to foot, while their horses are living in palaces," and then, using, for effect, some of the methods of the French Commune, I cried: "To the lamp-post! All those in favor of hanging Tweed to a lamp-post, say aye!" There was a tremendous outburst of "ayes."

In other speeches I went into details and gave the sums of which the people of New York had been plundered, and the amounts that had been paid in bribes to obtain influence in stilling public suspicion, and to buy immunity from exposure and opportunity for further theft.

So my campaign for the Presidency was not entirely in vain. It was something that seemed unavoidable, toward which I seemed pressed by circumstance and fate; and I can rest in the consciousness that it accomplished some permanent good.[Pg 323]




I had hardly got out of the Presidential race before I got into jail again. I passed easily from one kind of life to the other. In fact, the last thing I did in connection with my political campaign had been the indirect cause of getting me into the Tombs. The Tombs has the honor of being the fourteenth jail that has given me shelter for purposes of meditation.

In November, '72, I was making a speech from Henry Clews's steps in Wall Street, partly to quiet a mob, when a paper was thrust into my hand. I glanced at it, thinking it had to do with myself, and saw that Victoria C. Woodhull and Tennie C. Claflin had been arrested for publishing in their paper in Brooklyn an account of a scandal about a famous clergyman in that city. The charge was "obscenity," and they had been arrested at the instance of Anthony Comstock. I immediately said: "This may be libel, but it is not obscenity."

That assertion, with what I soon did to estab[Pg 324]lish its truth, got me into jail, with the result that six courts in succession—afraid to bring me to trial for "obscenity"—declared me a "lunatic," and prevented my enjoyment of property in Omaha, Nebraska, which is now worth millions of dollars.

From Wall Street I hurried to Ludlow Street Jail, where I found Victoria C. Woodhull and Tennie C. Claflin in a cell about eight by four feet. I was indignant that two women, who had merely published a current rumor, should be treated in this way, and took a piece of charcoal and wrote, on the newly whitewashed walls of the cell a couplet suggesting the baseness of this attack upon their reputations. It is sufficient to say here that public feeling was so aroused that these women were soon set free; but I got myself deeper and deeper into the toils of the courts.

with the children

George Francis Train with the children in Madison Square.

In order to prove that the publication was not obscene, if judged by Christian standards of purity, I published in my paper, called The Train Ligue, three columns of quotations from the Bible. Every verse I used was worse than anything published by these women. I was immediately arrested on a charge of "obscenity," and taken to the Tombs. I was never tried on this charge, but was kept in jail as a lunatic, and then dismissed, under the ban of declared lunacy, and have so remained for thirty years. Although the public pretended to be against me, it was [Pg 325]very eager to buy the edition of my paper that gave these extracts from the Bible. The price of the paper rose from five cents a copy to twenty, forty, sixty cents, and even to one dollar. In a few days it was selling surreptitiously for two dollars a copy.

I was put in Tweed's cell, number 56, in "Murderers' Row," in the Tombs, where at that time were twenty-two men imprisoned under the charge of murder. I made the twenty-third inhabitant of that ghastly "Row." It is remarkable that not one of these men was hanged. All were either acquitted, or tried and sentenced and got off with varying terms of service.

It was not a select, but it was at least a famous, group of men in "Murderers' Row." Across the narrow hallway, just opposite my cell, was Edward S. Stokes, who had killed James Fisk, Jr. Next to me were John J. Scannell and Richard Croker, both of whom have been prominent in the city administration in later years. There was, also, the famous Sharkey, who might have got into worse trouble than any of us, but who escaped through the pluck and ingenuity of Maggie Jordan. Maggie happened to be about the same size as her lover, and changed clothes with him in the cell. The warden, one morning, found he had a woman in his cage instead of Sharkey. This was the last ever heard of Sharkey, so far as I know.

My chief purpose in jail was not to get out, but[Pg 326] to be tried on the charge of obscenity. I had been arrested for that offense, and determined that I would be either acquitted or convicted. But I have never had a trial to this day. I do not believe that any court in the land would face the danger of trying to convict a man of publishing obscenity for quoting from the standard book on morality read throughout Christendom.

However this may be, I was offered a hundred avenues of escape from jail, every conceivable one, except the honest and straightforward one of a fair trial by jury. Men offered to bail me out; twice I was taken out on proceedings instituted by women; but I would not avail myself of this way to freedom. Several times I was left alone in the court-house or in hallways, or other places, where access to the street was easy, entirely without guards, in the vain hope that I would walk off with my liberty. I was discharged by the courts; and I was offered freedom if I would sign certain papers that were brought to me, but I invariably refused to look at them. In all cases I merely turned back and took my place in the cell, and waited for justice.

In '73 I was finally taken before Judge Davis in the Court of Oyer and Terminer. William F. Howe, who died this year, was one of my counsel, and Clark Bell was another. Howe took the ground, first, that obviously there could be nothing obscene in the publication of extracts[Pg 327] from the Bible, and, second, if there were, that I was insane at the time of the publication. The judge hastily said that he would instruct the jury to acquit me if the defense took this position. Mr. Bell then asked that a simple verdict of "not guilty" be rendered; but the judge insisted upon its form being "Not guilty, on the ground of insanity." This verdict was taken.

I rose immediately, and said: "I protest against this whole proceeding. I have been four months in jail; and I have had no trial for the offense with which I am charged." I felt that I was in the same plight as Paul. The Bible and the Church, surely, could not condemn me for quoting Scripture; and I had appealed unto Cæsar; but Cæsar refused, out of sheer cowardice, to hear me and try me. I was not even listened to when I made this protest, and I shouted, so that all must hear me: "Your honor, I move your impeachment in the name of the people!"

The sensation was tremendous. "Sit down!" roared the judge. He evidently thought that I would attack him. An order committing me to the State Lunatic Asylum was issued, and I was taken back to the Tombs. But I did not go to the asylum. Another writ of habeas corpus took me out of jail, and I at last turned my back on the Tombs—a lunatic by judicial decree. I hope that the courts, inasmuch as I am their ward, and have been for[Pg 328] thirty years, have protected me in my rights, and have safeguarded those interests in Omaha where some millions of dollars depend upon the question of my sanity.

The moment I was taken out of the Tombs, I went down town, had a bath, got a good meal, put on better clothes, and bought passage for England. I went to join my family at Homburg, as my sons were then in Germany, studying at Frankfort.

This Woodhull-Claflin affair had far-reaching effects. Besides leaving me for thirty years in the grip of the court, it affected many other persons. I shall refer here only to one of these, the publisher of a newspaper in Toledo, who printed some of the matter that I had printed in New York. He was prosecuted, and his paper and press were seized. The poor fellow asked me to lecture in his interest. I could not do this, but helped him to raise some money to buy a new printing-press. This was in August, '83, when I was at Vevay, Switzerland.

A worthless piece of paper eventually fell into the hands of another man, who proceeded to prosecute me, and, with the assistance of the courts, kept me in the Charles Street Jail, Boston, for some time. I was arrested for this old debt of another man, and was refused the constitutional relief of habeas corpus by Judge Devins and five other judges of Massachusetts. The amount of[Pg 329] the debt had steadily increased, and was $800 in '89. Finally, I went before Judge McKim, and he at once dismissed the case as groundless.

This brought my jail experiences to a close. Was it fitting that Boston, where I had lived and worked; where I had devised the building of the greatest ships the world had known up to that time; where I had projected and organized the clipper-ship service to California, and opened a new era in the carrying trade of the world, and where I had organized the Union Pacific Railway to develop the entire West and draw continents nearer together, should put me in jail for a petty debt that I did not owe, as in some sort an evidence of its gratitude?

My prison experience has been more varied than that of the most confirmed and hardened criminal; and yet I have never committed a crime, cheated a human being, or told a lie. I have been imprisoned in almost every sort of jail that man has devised. I have been in police stations, in Marshalseas in England and in Ireland, in common jails in Boston, in the Bastile of Lyons, in the Prefecture at Tours as the prisoner of Gambetta, Dictator of France, and in the famous old Tombs of New York. I have used prisons well. They have been as schools to me, where I have reflected, and learned more about myself—and a man's own self is the best object of any one's study. I have, also, made jails the source of fruitful ideas, and[Pg 330] from them have launched many of my most startling and useful projects and innovations. And so they have not been jails to me, any more than they were to Lovelace:

"Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage; Minds innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage."

[Pg 331]



1870, 1890, 1892

I went around the world in eighty days in the year '70, two years before Jules Verne wrote his famous romance, Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-vingts Jours, which was founded upon my voyage. Since then I have made two tours of the world, one in sixty-seven and a half days, and the other in sixty. The last voyage still stands as the record trip in circling the globe.

I have always been something of a traveler, restless in my earlier years, and never averse to visiting new scenes and experiencing new sensations. In Australasia I had improved every opportunity to see the new world of the South Seas, and later had visited every part of the Orient that I could by any possibility reach during my various journeys in that portion of the globe. Europe I had traversed quite thoroughly, from the Crimea to Nijnii Novgorod, from the Volga to the Thames, from Spain to Finland. When I left Australia it[Pg 332] was my intention to establish a great business in Yokohama, and, when that had been done, I intended to pass on across the Pacific, thus girdling the globe; but my first effort to go around the world was prevented by the war in the Crimea, and so I turned back and came home, as already described, by way of China, India, Egypt, and Europe.

The desire for travel possessed me mightily in '69, just after the golden spike was driven at the completion of the Union Pacific Railway, by which California and New York were made nearer one another by many days of travel. The circumference of the globe had been shrunken. I wanted, naturally, to be the first man to utilize the great advantage thus given to travel by making the quickest trip around the world.

After closing my lecture tour on the Pacific coast in the spring and summer of '70, I prepared for such a trip, carefully calculating that it could be made within eighty days, even with the inevitable losses due to bad connections at different ports. I wanted to take my sons, George and Elsey, with me, but, at the last moment, they were prevented from going. I found out only a few days ago, when accusing my daughter Sue of keeping them in Newport, that their mother had given them ten golden eagles each not to go. I sailed from San Francisco August 1, '70. On the same ship was Susan B. King, whom I found in San[Pg 333] Francisco waiting to sail, as she was tired of the way her affairs were going in New York and wanted a long trip for rest and recreation. She had $30,000 with her, which she said she would try to invest profitably on the voyage. She was then quite an old woman, as the world generally estimates age.

I made Yokohama in very good time, and went immediately to the Japanese capital, the new seat of the Emperor, Tokyo. I may record here a very curious thing. I believe I was the last man—the last foreigner, at least—who had taken part in an old national custom of Japan, by which persons of opposite sex bathe together, without bathing suits. It was then considered, in that land of good morals and fine esthetic sense, that no impropriety was involved in this custom. Manners and customs there were open and free as in Greece, when Athens was "the eye of Greece" and the center of the world's civilization. I went to one of the public baths to experience a decidedly new sensation. I was allowed to bathe with old men and women, young men and maidens—and no one, except, perhaps, myself, felt any degree of embarrassment or false modesty.

But the fact that a foreigner was bathing in this way with Japanese women and girls made something of a stir in Tokyo that had been unexpected by me. It seems that, a short time before, some Englishmen had gone into one of the public[Pg 334] baths and made themselves very offensive. This had taught the Japanese that they could not trust the foreigner, and they had already nearly decided to exclude foreigners from their baths, or to separate the sexes. My experience was, therefore, the last, as I believe. After this the sexes were not permitted to bathe together.

I observed that the Japanese used small paper packages for tea, thus making it convenient to handle tea. I then recalled the custom of the Chinese in compressing tea for transportation by caravan to the great Fair of Nijnii Novgorod. Here was an opportunity, I thought, and I suggested to Susan B. King that she might invest her $30,000 to good purpose in sending to New York a cargo of tea put up in little paper packages, and that, if she wanted to try it, I would give her letters to men in Canton who could arrange the matter for her. She undertook the scheme, and I wrote a description of it for Anglin's Gazette, in Yokohama. The tea was shipped to New York, and was handled at the Demorest headquarters. The tea was in half-pound and pound packages. This was long before Sir Thomas Lipton employed this method of putting up teas.

At Saigon, in French Cochin-China, I met the United States ship Alaska; and from that port sailed on a ship of the Messagerie Imperiale line for Marseilles. The remainder of the voyage was uneventful, except for the diversion just before we[Pg 335] left Singapore of hearing the news of the fall of the Second Empire, the defeat of Louis Napoleon at Sedan, and the establishment of the republic.

I have already recorded, in the chapter on the Commune in France, my arrival at Marseilles and my experiences in the brief period of my visit. After I had been arrested and liberated, and had had my interview with Gambetta at Tours, I passed on rapidly to New York, and finished my tour of the world inside of eighty days.

My second trip was made in the year '90. I planned it while I was in jail in Boston for a debt that I did not contract. There had been some note-worthy efforts on the part of newspaper writers to make a record-breaking trip, and Miss Bisland had gone around in seventy-eight days, while Nellie Bly had succeeded in making the voyage in seventy-three days. I proposed to Col. John A. Cockerill, of the New York World, who had sent Nellie Bly on her trip, to make the circuit in less time; but he did not care to upset the World's own record. I then telegraphed to Radebaugh, proprietor of the Tacoma Ledger, that if he would raise $1,000 for a lecture in Tacoma, I would make a trip around the world in less than seventy days. He told me to come on.

As I started West, to sail on the Abyssinia, I received message after message from Radebaugh. Instead of the $1,000 I had asked for, $1,500 had been subscribed by the time I reached Chicago, and[Pg 336] at St. Paul it had gone up to $3,500. I soon reached Tacoma, and lectured there to an immense audience, taking in $4,200, the largest amount ever paid for a single lecture—and sailed out into the Pacific March 18th. I was accompanied by S. W. Wall, editor of the Ledger. Lafcadio Hearn, the distinguished writer, was on the same ship, on his way to Japan. He was so ill that he did not leave his state-room during the voyage.

We made Yokohama in sixteen days, and the moment I landed I telegraphed to the American legation at Tokyo to get me a passport. It had always taken three days to get a passport, but I said that I must have this at once, and I got it. In seven hours I was on the way to Kobe, overland, three hundred miles across Japan. I caught the German ship for Nagasaki, from which point, after a short delay, I sailed for Hongkong. In a trip of this kind, of course, one sees little of interest. It is a mere question of rushing from vessel to vessel the moment you get into port, or of catching trains, or of chartering boats to bridge gaps, or of haggling with ship-captains or railway managers about getting extra accommodations at very extra prices.

My longest delay was at Singapore, where I lost forty hours. The next longest loss of time was in New York—wonderful to relate—where I was delayed thirty-six hours, although four railways were competing for the honor of taking me[Pg 337] across the continent on a record-breaking journey. I arrived on Saturday, and had to charter a special car—which cost $1,500—and could not get away until Monday morning. I was near being delayed a day at Calais, France, but succeeded in chartering a boat to take me over the Channel. As this boat carried the British mails, I was relieved of the expense by the British Government.

At Portland I met with a most annoying delay of five hours, due entirely to mismanagement. This most unexpectedly lengthened out my tour at the very end, and so angered me that I refused to attend a banquet the people had prepared for me. I pushed on to Tacoma as soon as I could get anything to carry me, and arrived there exactly sixty-seven days, thirteen hours, two minutes, and fifty-five seconds from the time I had started. The actual time of traveling was fifty-nine days and seven hours. Seven days and five hours had been lost. This was then the fastest trip around the world. It has been beaten since by myself.

As I had started on my second trip from a Pacific coast point, there was a good deal of rivalry among the growing towns in that section with regard to the honor of being the starting-point of my third trip in '92, in which I eclipsed all previous records. I had already announced that this could readily be done, as the Pacific steamships were very much faster than they had been at the time of my former voyage, and as the connections at vari[Pg 338]ous ports were much better. Sir William Van Horne had also written that he wanted me to make another tour of the world, using one of the fast ships of the Canadian Pacific road, the famous Empresses, that soon would be put on the line to Yokohama. The new town of Whatcom, on Puget Sound, in the extreme northwest of Washington, raised the amount necessary for the trip, and I made my start from that point, catching the Empress of India from Vancouver.

An account of this voyage would necessarily be only a panoramic glance at a narrow line around the world. I made Yokohama in eleven days, was at Kobe, Japan, in thirteen, and at Shanghai in fifteen. Here I had some difficulty in finding a fast steamer for Singapore, but succeeded in getting aboard a swift German boat, the Friga, which put me in Singapore in time to catch the Moyune, the last of the fast tea ships, and on her I sailed as far as Port Said, through the Suez Canal. At Port Said I boarded the Ismaila for Brindisi, Italy. Then I again rushed across Europe, and caught the Majestic at Liverpool for New York. I found a distinguished company on board, including Ambassador John Hay, D. O. Mills, Lady Stewart, Mrs. Paran Stevens, and Senator Spooner.

Dinner in the Mills Hotel

Dinner in the Mills Hotel given by George Francis Train.

I arrived in New York in good time, had a very slight delay in comparison with that of my second voyage, and went flying across the continent to [Pg 339]Whatcom. The entire trip, giving a complete circuit of the globe, was made in sixty days.

To these three trips I attach no more importance, I hope, than is fairly their due. In each of them, in succession, I had beaten all previous records of travel; and this was something in the interests of all persons who travel, as showing what could be done under stress, and as a stimulus to greater efforts to reduce the long months and days consumed on voyages from country to country. But they were, as I consider them, merely incidents in a life that has better things to show. One of these voyages, the one in which I "put a girdle round the earth" in eighty days, has the honor of having given the suggestion for one of the most interesting romances in literature. This, at least, is something.

But I give this brief account of my voyages, at the end of my autobiography, chiefly because I regard them as somewhat typical of my life. I have lived fast. I have ever been an advocate of speed. I was born into a slow world, and I wished to oil the wheels and gear, so that the machine would spin faster and, withal, to better purposes. I suggested larger and fleeter ships, to shorten travel on the ocean. I built street-railways, so that the workers of the world might save a few minutes from their days of pitiless toil, and so might have a little leisure for enjoyment and self-improvement. I built great railway lines—the Atlantic and Great[Pg 340] Western, and the Union Pacific—that the continent might be traversed by men and commerce more rapidly, and its waste places made to blossom like the rose. I wished to add a stimulus, a spur, a goad—if necessary—that the slow, old world might go on more swiftly, "and fetch the age of gold," with more leisure, more culture, more happiness. And so I put faster ships on the oceans, and faster means of travel on land.

My own rapid tours of the world are, therefore, typical of my life. Thus an account of them seems to round it off fitly with a "Bon voyage" to every one.[Pg 341]




Transcriber's Note:

Punctuation has been corrected without note.

page 280: "nonogenarian" changed to "nonagenarian" (who is now a nonagenarian, in his armed castle in Kentucky).