The Gentleman from Everywhere
James Henry Foss
Part 3 out of 4
camel driver into a Mohammed, a peasant girl tending goats, into a
Joan of Arc.
This love-flash from the invisible blent these two hitherto widely
separated souls into one, even as the positive electricity leaps
through the spaces to find the negative, and when met, dissolves the
separateness into a harmonious oneness which can never be sundered.
The unsophisticated Indian maiden went her way, thrilling with the
thought that her heart is in his bosom, and his in hers, useless one
without the other.
The white youth was suddenly changed from an idle, wandering,
purposeless dreamer, into a fearless lover, ready to face death itself
to secure the object of his worship, and he sauntered back to his hut
with no flinching from the many dangers which surrounded him.
There a black slave met him, bearing an abundant feast. "Eat," said
the negro, "and then go to the lodge of Tiger-tail, the largest in the
village, with the skin of a tiger stretched on the door."
As soon as Henry had assuaged his hunger, he hastened to obey the
summons. As before, no human being noticed him, and he walked to
the wigwam, knocked on the door-post, and answering the "come" from
within, entered. To his astonishment, the giant leader was evidently
trying to read a newspaper, but took no notice of his entrance for
some minutes, when he suddenly said:
"What is this?" pointing to a line of what Henry saw was the message
to Congress of the President of the United States. The chief watched
closely as his captive slowly read:
"The Seminole Indians have been driven by our troops to their
fastnesses in the swamps of the Everglades, and it is for Congress to
decide whether they shall be further punished for their outbreak."
The chief slowly rose to his frill height, and walked in silence for a
long time, when he turned to our hero, and fastened upon him his eagle
eyes. "Humph," at length he muttered, "the pale-face rob Seminole of
everything else, now he follow us here:--no, the great father must
know the truth, you teach me to write him, no white man ever come here
and go away to tell, you stay here always; you no speak to any one
here but me, you set down, teach me."
For a long time Henry labored hard to show this remarkable savage how
to read and write. No teacher ever had a more attentive pupil; but it
was very difficult for his untutored mind to master these, to him,
puzzling hieroglyphics. At length, Tiger-tail arose, and saying in an
"Humph! Damn! Me kill something, me mad! You come here every day when
I send for you," and seizing his rifle, and pointing the youth to go,
he strode savagely away into the woods.
The youth returned to his hut, and wearied with his unusual labors,
was soon asleep, dreaming all night of the loved Sunbeam, whom he
hoped would soon irradiate the darkness of his life. The hours of the
next day dragged away on leaden wings, and the trysting hour drew
near; but to his utter disgust, just as he was on the point of going
to his beloved, the negro appeared summoning him once more to the
chief, and his heart sank with fear that their secret was discovered.
Tiger-tail betrayed no emotion, and for a long time teacher and pupil
struggled with their tasks as before, until the Indian, unable to
restrain his pent-up restlessness longer, strode away to seek relief
in the chase, leaving Henry to wend his way with many watchful glances
to the shrine of his worship.
While walking slowly and circuitously to avoid suspicion, and closely
scrutinizing the trunks and tops of trees for any spy who might be
watching, he noticed a slight movement of the tall grass around a
fallen cypress, and rushing to reconnoitre, a warrior leaped to his
feet and dashed into the underbrush. Then the youth realized that
suspicious eyes were following him, and that he was risking his life
to meet the daughter of the chief.
He dared not enter the mouth of the cave; but walked through the thick
bushes above it much depressed in spirit, when suddenly he heard his
name softly called, and looking downward, saw an opening into the
earth large enough to admit his body. "Drop down this way," was
whispered, and after assuring himself that no spy was in sight, he
obeyed, falling into the arms of the waiting girl.
"Henry," said she, "I was followed; but no one knows of this entrance
but myself; close it with this shrub. We are watched, and must never
meet here again."
"But, dearest," sobbed the youth, "life is not worth living without
you; we must escape together this very night."
"I will go with you to the ends of the earth," was the reply. "I loved
you long before you came here; I have the gift of second sight. Months
ago I saw you coming to me. I have explored the way to the great
river. At midnight, meet me under the great cypress, throw this
perfume to the dogs and they will not bark;" she handed him a small
vial. "I must go; you follow when you hear the King-dove coo; go to
your hut." She embraced him, and was gone.
Soon, he heard the signal, and he cautiously raised himself to the
upper air, returned to his wigwam, and was soon enjoying rapturous
dreams with his head resting where he knew the rays of the moon would
shine into his face to awaken him at the appointed time for flight.
When he peered anxiously through the entrance of his wigwam at a
little before midnight, he was appalled at the sight. A multitude of
dogs surrounded the hut, ready, evidently by their yelpings, to bring
down upon him the whole tribe of Indians, should he try to escape.
"Alas," thought he, "there are battles with fate which can never be
won," and for a moment he seemed paralyzed at his doom. Then came
to mind a recollection of the perfume given him by his thoughtful
Sunbeam, and he resolved to do or die.
Noiselessly as a shadow, he stepped out, hoping to escape the
attention of his canine guards; but in a moment, every cur was on his
feet and were about to make the welkin ring, when he threw at the
leader the contents of his vial. Instantly, all fawned at his feet,
and he hastened to his rendezvous.
Not a sound was heard save an occasional snore from some sleeper, and
soon he found his faithful sweetheart in the shadow of the century-old
cypress. She quickly slung his rifle across his back, fastened about
him the revolver and bowie-knife, bound over her own shoulder a bag of
provisions; "follow me," she whispered, and away they sped into the
vast primeval forest.
For hours they hastened in silence, then the maiden halted at the edge
of a dark morass, and whispered: "Here we leave the earth; I know
the way," and they launched themselves into the limbs of the trees,
clambered hand over hand for a long, long time; when well-nigh
exhausted, they dropped down into a little brook, carefully avoiding
any contact with the tell-tale earth.
"Quick," said Sunbeam; "we must hasten up this stream which will
conceal our footsteps, to the great river, where we can hide and rest
in a great hollow tree which I found there," and on they went with
their feeble remnant of strength.
At last, just as the rising sun was dispersing the vapors of night,
our elopers swung themselves from the brook into the branches of an
overarching hollow tree, helped each other to the bottom of this house
not made with hands, and soon slept the slumber of utter exhaustion.
It was many hours before tired nature's sweet restorer released these
two loving children from its embraces, and then it seemed as if all
the fiends from heaven that fell had pealed the banner-cry of hell.
The howls of dogs, and the savage war-whoops announced that their
enemies were upon them; but undismayed by the terrible dangers, they
resolved to die together rather than endure separation.
"My father never loved me," whispered Sunbeam, "because I am a girl,
while he hoped for a warrior child; if they find us, kill me; I cannot
live without you."
"We will go to the Great Spirit together, beloved," was the calm
Soon they heard the voice of Tiger-tail close to them, talking to his
braves. "They no cross river," he said; "all canoes here, dogs no get
scent, all back to swamp, we find um there, you, War-Eagle, watch
canoes." Again the air resounds with the yells of dogs and warriors,
then all was silent.
"War-Eagle hate me," whispered the maiden, "cos I no be his squaw; but
we must go before they return." Slowly the lovers pulled themselves
upward by the ingrown stumps of limbs, and, concealed in the thick
branches, looked around; no one was in sight except the Indian left
to guard the canoes, and he was reclining on the bank of the river,
Noiselessly they lowered themselves to the ground and approached the
recumbent brave, when a loud snore showed that their enemy was in the
land of nod. "Take my revolver," said Henry, "and shoot--if we must,"
then, making a slip-noose of the stout thongs which had bound the
provision bag, he deftly slipped it around the arms of the Indian, and
with a quick jerk he was firmly bound.
The savage tried to grasp his gun, but, unable, was about to give the
whoop of alarm, when the youth clapped his hand over the vast mouth;
the red man subsided, was quickly gagged and tied to a tree.
"Now, darling, to our boat," and into it they jumped, and Henry bent
to his oars with all his might. On they sped in their light canoe,
these two hearts beating as one, towards liberty and the loved ones
waiting to welcome them in the white man's home. "Dearest Sunbeam,"
said Henry, resting for a moment on his oars, "soon you will be the
fairest flower in my garden of home."
"Oh, Henry," was the faint reply, "I am but a simple Indian girl, and
I know so little."
"But it will be our delight to live and learn together," said Henry,
"'Thou art all to me, love, for which my heart did pine,
A green isle in the sea, love, a fountain and a shrine.'"
On they glided, out of that paradise of nature, where every prospect
pleases, and naught but man is vile. Sunbeam left the place of her
nativity without a lingering glance behind, for there she had been
nothing but an unwelcome girl.
In a pretty cottage in Lawtey, you may now see Sunbeam, the Seminole,
wife of a successful planter, Henry Lee, beloved by all who know her,
surrounded by orange groves and fragrant flowers in that land of
A FOUNDER OF TOWNS AND CLUBS.
My ship of life was laden to the water's edge with labors of
varying utility. We founded the Apollo Club, a musical and literary
organization including in its membership the most prominent men and
women of the city; we gave entertainments with our orchestra, singing
society, and costumed dramatic stars, which gave us ample funds to
pay for numerous delightful steamboat excursions, sleigh-rides and
picnics, while developing our latent talents, and greatly enhancing
the social life of our community.
I refer to this with much pleasure, as it led to the formation of
similar societies in many surrounding towns, much to the benefit of
all concerned. I made an elaborate report of my Florida observations
which was printed entire by the United States Department of
Agriculture, widely distributed, and stimulated many to benefit their
condition by securing comfortable homes in that land of fruits,
flowers and delightful climate.
That year the angel world sent us our bright-eyed, smiling little
Elizabeth, thus making our trio of sweet singers a quartette to share
our joys and lessen our sorrows, coming like the dews from that heaven
to which we all return when our mission to refresh and inspire the
earth life is ended. It is interesting to note the varying definitions
of the word, baby, which have floated down to us in the literature of
all nations. Here are some of them which I have culled from various
"A tiny feather from the wing of love, dropped into the sacred lap
"The bachelor's horror, the mother's treasure, and the despotic
tyrant of the most republican household."
"A human flower untouched by the finger of care."
"The morning caller, noonday crawler, midnight brawler."
"The magic spell by which the gods transform a house into a home."
"A bursting bud on the tree of life."
"A bold asserter of the rights of free speech."
"A tiny, useless mortal, but without which the world would soon be
at a standstill."
"A native of all countries who speaks the language of none."
"A mite of a thing that requires a mighty lot of attention."
"A daylight charmer and a midnight alarmer."
"A wee little specimen of humanity, whose winsome smile makes a
good man think of the angels."
"A curious bud of uncertain blossom."
"The most extensive employer of female labor."
"That which increases the mother's toil, decreases the father's
cash, and serves as an alarm clock to the neighbors."
"It's a sweet and tiny treasure."
"A torment and a tease,"
"It's an autocrat and anarchist,"
"Two awful things to please."
"It's a rest and peace disturber,"
"With little laughing ways,"
"It's a wailing human night alarm,"
"A terror of your days."
And this final definition which exactly describes each of our
"The sweetest thing God ever made
And forgot to give wings to."
To crown the honors which this year were thrust upon me, my political
party tendered me the nomination for mayor of the city; but when I
ascertained the fact that I would be obliged to bribe the 300 roosters
on the fence who held the balance of power, and who must be paid two
dollars each to persuade them to come off their perch and vote, I
preferred the $600 to the empty honor, and declined.
It is said that dame fortune knocks once at every man's door, but
the old woman sent to mine later, her ugly-faced unmarried daughter,
mis-fortune. At the request of some of the Boston newspapers, I wrote
an account for the press of my Florida journey and observations, which
attracted much attention and many callers, among whom were the F----
brothers, of Boston, who painted the attractions of a town of Orange
County in such glowing colors, that I was induced to visit said place
in summer accompanied by my friend, lawyer S---- of Newburyport.
We found even the summer climate very agreeable the location very
attractive, and the general prospects for a northern colony there
quite promising. We wandered through the woods far and wide, shooting
quail, an occasional wild turkey, caught fish from the numerous
beautiful lakes, sleeping sometimes under the pines, then in houses,
whose owners were away visiting with no thought of locking their doors
in this land where thieving was unknown. We led a real Bohemian life
in Arcady, quietly bonding hundreds of acres of land, and having
located a hotel and townsite between two charming lakes, leaving a
Mr. G---- W---- a friend of the F---- brothers, as superintendent, to
secure more lands and to cut avenues, we went home, where we formed a
syndicate stock company of which I was elected general manager, with
full powers to sell $50,000 of stock with which to pay for the bonded
lands and the building of a hotel.
I sold the stock at $100 per share, giving one acre of land with each
share of said stock. This would have been a very successful
enterprise had it not been for the cunning duplicity and greed of our
superintendent, who proceeded diligently to "feather his own nest"
at our expense. I accomplished my task of raising funds very
successfully, and the next winter moved with my family to A----,
taking with us a competent engineer, a Mr. H----, to survey and stake
Here I unearthed the rascality of the superintendent, who, beside
taking our salary and commission for buying lands, had extorted large
commissions and bonuses from the sellers, which came out of our funds
in increasing the prices for which the lands were charged to our
company. In addition to this he had hired a large force of negroes
at high wages, on which he drew a secret commission, opened a store,
selling so called canned peaches,--which really contained much whiskey
and few peaches--to his workmen, and thus getting all their wages.
I at once discharged all the superfluous negroes, built a fine hotel
which was soon filled with a superior class of people from the north,
set out orange groves for non-resident stockholders, and all would
have been well, had it not been for the extraordinary action at the
annual meeting of the stockholders.
While I was engrossed with my many duties, the superintendent
cunningly went north and secured proxies in his name, and returning,
beat me by two votes, secured for himself my position as general
manager, and then proceeded to wreck the whole enterprise, much to
his own pecuniary benefit, while my friends who had invested on my
representations, blamed me for their losses though I was entirely
innocent of any wrong whatever.
To cap the climax, this superintendent refused to make an accounting
for several thousand dollars with which I had entrusted him to make
purchases of lands on my personal account. I secured a warrant for his
arrest, chased him half over the county with a sheriff, and brought
him to the city for trial. On our way to the hotel, I was set upon by
a crowd of roughs who had been dined and wined by said W----, and who
threatened to lynch me. I backed up into a corner of the hotel piazza,
laid my hand on an imaginary revolver, threatening to shoot, and was
defending myself with a whirling chair, when the sheriff's posse
rushed to my deliverance in the nick of time, and W---- was forced to
hand over my money.
He then made life unbearable by sending negroes at night in my absence
to annoy my family, who escaped injury only by the vigorous use of a
revolver by my wife who defended the little ones by numerous shots
which sent the tormentors flying to the woods. This unscrupulous
superintendent secured by his cunning a large amount of our funds; but
it was a curse to him for he squandered it in riotous living.
When he married he chartered a large steamer and brass band, took on
board a crowd of guests, champagne flowed like water, every luxury was
furnished liberally, and the excursion was a prolonged debauch.
To-day this fellow is a fugitive from justice, forsaken by wife and
fair weather friends, and thus really, if not literally, is fulfilled
the prophecy of the poet,
"Her dark wing shall the raven flap
O'er the false-hearted,
His warm blood the wolf shall lap
E'er life be parted,
Shame and dishonor sit
O'er his grave ever,
Blessing shall hallow it
Never, no never."
A MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS WITH A ONE DOLLAR CAPITAL.
Soon after my encounter at S---- with the unspeakable W----, I met
Major St. A----, who gave a cordial invitation to myself and family to
become his guests in his new town of T----, with a view to securing
our cooperation in the development of his multitudinous schemes. This
invitation we accepted, and very early one beautiful morning in March,
my wife, four children and myself, with driver and guide, embarked on
a "prairie schooner," drawn by three horses, for the promised land.
It was an ideal drive through many miles of fragrant, towering pine
trees, fording beautiful lakes, catching fish, shooting game, camping
for refreshment on the banks of crystal clear brooks. The oldest girls
would ride on the horses' backs, chase quails, pluck the wayside
flowers, occasionally watching the flight of paroquettes flashing like
diamonds through the air, listening to the mockingbirds filling the
woods with their exquisite songs, and inhaling as it were the ether of
the immortal Gods, the matchless, perfumed, life-giving Florida air.
All at once, with little warning, as is usual in semi-tropical lands,
the night fell, and our learned guide suddenly found that he had lost
the trail. The owls hooted, the wild-cats screamed, likewise the
"kids," with overpowering fear. We plunged ahead at random, when we
suddenly found the water pouring through the bottom of our "schooner."
The horses reared and plunged, snorting in terror probably at the near
approach of some water snake or alligator.
We might have been all drowned, had we not discovered a lantern hung
in a tree by our expectant friends, towards which we steered our
course to dry land. By the aid of the light we found the trail, and at
length reached the Major's hotel, hungry and tired. Here we found our
embarrassed host haggling and swearing with a bearer of provisions who
refused to leave the goods until he received his payment therefor.
Our landlord appeared to be "dead broke," but finally persuaded the
reluctant provision-dealer to go away with his pockets filled with
"I.O.U.'s" instead of cash, and about midnight on the verge of
starvation we fully appreciated an abundant feast. We soon found that
our, enthusiastic friend was trying to do a million dollar business
on a one dollar capital. He was building two railroads, running a
steamboat line, a hotel, a sawmill, building a town and a fifty
thousand dollar opera house for a one hundred population town, with
not a dollar in his pocket.
[Illustration: Flight of the Governor and Staff.]
The next day we sailed on his steamer to meet the governor of the
state, and his staff who were invited to attend a ball in his honor.
The crew was mutinous on account of receiving no pay, the antiquated
machinery broke down every few minutes, and the Major had a fierce
quarrel with a negro minister who had paid first-class fare and
refused to take second-class quarters, to which all colored folks were
forced at the muzzle of the revolver, and a bloody race battle was
only avoided by the fact that the negroes were entirely unarmed.
At length, loading the deck with wild ducks, and fish that fairly
jumped into the little boat to avoid their enemies, the ferocious
gar-fish, we took the governor and staff on board, and floundered back
at a snail's pace to T----. At the landing, we boarded a dilapidated
street car drawn by mules, for the hotel.
Soon--crash! bang, a rail gave way, sending the dignified
governor,--stove-pipe hat flying in the air, coat-tails covering his
head,--into a ditch, his long legs kicking frantically to extricate
his head from the mud. We rescued him and staff with difficulty from
the filth, looking like a bedraggled pack of half-drowned rats.
Finally we reached the hotel, when the colored orchestra from
Jacksonville rushed upon our host demanding their pay in advance,
with furious oaths and unclassical imprecations. In some way, the
embarrassed diplomat silenced their clamors; then the colored waiters
struck for their pay, and "razors were flying in the air." The furious
landlord at last quieted their clamor with a shotgun, and at about
midnight the grand march was sounded, and a nearly famished crowd made
desperate efforts to look cheerful and "trip the light fantastic toe."
All earthly horrors have an end, and in the wee small hours a starving
multitude was treated to a barbacue by our half-crazed host.
Almost every white man in this town sold chain-lightning whiskey, and
in our short walk from dance hall to hotel we were obliged to jump
over the prostrate forms of drunken darkies.
As in the lowlands, bordering upon large bodies of water, in all
tropical and semi-tropical countries, we found, to our horror and
dismay, the mosquitoes in ferocious, bloodthirsty swarms which
rendered life not worth the living; so, as soon as we could, without
seriously offending our host, we took our flight, at least what little
there was left of us, to the delightful highlands of Marion County.
Here, free from the horrors of mosquitoes, we recruited our attenuated
bodies at the elegant Ocala House, thence by rail to Jacksonville
where we took the steamer for home. Off Hatteras we encountered a wild
storm which sent our great boat well-nigh to the stars, then with an
almost perpendicular plunge, almost to Davy Jones' locker, until, with
the nauseating sea-sickness, we were afraid, first that we should die
and later we only feared lest we should not die.
At last the young cyclone subsided, and we sailed over a tranquil
sea into Boston harbor, thence by rail to our Bay state home. At
Jacksonville, by the way, we had an experience quite characteristic of
those ante-free-delivery days of old. I went to the post-office for
our mail, having but a few minutes to spare before the departure of
the north-bound train. To my disgust, I found a line of negroes nearly
half a mile in length waiting their turns for calling for letters. One
would step to the window and in an exasperatingly in-no-hurry way,
say: "Anything for Andrew Jackson, sah?" After a long delay--"no!"
"Do yer 'spect dere may be soon, sah?"
"Did you expect any?" came the reply.
"No sah, but sumbudy might write, sah."
"Gwan, next!" Then some white man in a hurry would step up to
next--"here's a quarter for your place, git aout!" The darky would
pocket his money with a broad grin, and but for his ears, the top of
his head would be an island.
I could not wait, and would not bribe, so went to the door of the
office, and kicked and banged furiously. "G'way fum de doo'! What de
hell you do on de doo'?" came from the inside.
"I'm a government officer from Washington," I shouted. "Open the door
or I'll knock it down." Out popped the "cullud pusson" profuse in
apologies. I grabbed my mail and rushed for the train in the very nick
PENDULUM 'TWIXT SMILES AND TEARS.
In many particulars this year of our Lord, 1883, was a sad one for us
all. The pecuniary loss, resultant upon the town-building disaster,
was severe; but the revelation which came to me of the innate meanness
of human nature in matters of money, was the more depressing by far.
It was amazing to hear wealthy people, who had bought of me a few
hundred dollars' worth of stock, and who really felt the loss of it
much less than they would suffer from a fly bite, whine as if this had
reduced them to the direst poverty, and insinuate that I, who had lost
manifold more than they, should refund, though the loss was entirely
the result of their own stupidity in failing to send me the proxies I
had asked for by mail.
We consoled ourselves, as usual, with the knowledge that we had acted
honestly and conscientiously towards all, and that the miseries of
this short life are "not worthy to be compared with the glory which
shall be revealed in us in the near future of the life eternal."
The blue arch above us, ever changing like the sea, has always
possessed a peculiar fascination for me, and I never let slip a
convenient opportunity to feast my eyes upon it. I was pursuing this
favorite occupation one day this year, when an unusually beautiful
cloud attracted my attention, and as I watched its rapidly changing
forms, there was slowly evolved from it the kindly loving face of my
mother. It was no fancy, no distorted figment of a dream. The dear
face smiled upon me with angelic sweetness, glanced upward, and was
gone; then I knew that I had another guardian angel in heaven.
In a short time, news came from R---- that she who had gladly devoted
her life to self-sacrifice for her children, had been relieved from
the always weak and suffering body.
Dear, good mother! Her highest and only ambition was to do good; not
a selfish thought ever even flitted across her horizon. Frank as the
day, constant as the sun, pure as the dew; like our Lord himself, she
sacrificed herself for the good of others. Her sons, Richard and Mark,
welcomed her at the gates ajar, and she was at rest.
What is death but a journey home?
A perfect rest when the work is done,
A gentle sleep for earth-weary eyes,
And the soul ascends to the azure skies.
We in the earth life went on as best we could. My only brother Joshua
sold the old homestead with its burdens, too heavy for him to bear
alone, bought our former home for one-half it had cost us, which was
much more than any other would pay for it; while we sold our castle
and farm which had become a mountain on our shoulders, and went to
live with my wife's parents in Boston, where I continued my work of
introducing the school text-books which had been sold, and myself with
them, to a New York publishing firm.
When the winter winds and snows began to blow, I longed for the balmy
zephyrs of fair Florida, and like the summer birds, I once more
journeyed southward; there, after a long search for the best
throughout the land of flowers, journeying in steam yachts, row-boats,
on horseback, and sometimes hand over hand on the branches of trees,
over tracks inaccessible in any other manner, I formed another stock
company consisting of several financiers who had spent all their lives
in Florida, and secured many thousands of acres of excellent lands
in the highlands of Marion County, hoping to do good and get good by
inducing the surplus population of our cities to go back to the bosom
of Mother Earth, where a moderate amount of labor will give them an
independent livelihood free from the snow and cold which infest the
wintry north, free from the heart-breaking demoralization of
begging for work in our overcrowded cities where scores of the
poverty-stricken are tumbling over each other in the frantic grabbing
for every job of work and every crumb of charity.
Were a mere modicum of the vast sums now worse than wasted in
pauperizing the unemployed; a tithe of the money squandered on
building palaces for our numberless, ever-begging colleges, devoted to
settling the poor upon the unimproved lands in Florida, the dangerous
flood of ever-increasing crime, and physical and mental suffering
which now threatens the very existence of our republic, would soon
vanish from our cities, and thousands of the dangerous classes would
become self-supporting, self-respecting, independent men and women.
Were a tithe of the vast sums lavished by our millionaires upon the
pictured walls, gorgeously embellished ceilings, overcrowded book
shelves of our numerous libraries, and upon the unchristlike towers
of unfrequented cathedrals, be even loaned to those who would gladly
cultivate the thousands of acres of untilled soil in fair Florida,
all the suffering hangers-on for jobs would become successful
agriculturists, owning their own farms, buying their own books, and
sufficiently educating their own children.
If the money spent every winter in pauperizing the unemployed by
giving them free soup, could be devoted to settling colonies upon our
uncultivated lands, the vexing problems and contests between labor and
capital would be easily solved and obliterated; the unskilled poor
would be at once enabled to respond to the call of the poet--
"Come back to your mother, ye children, for shame,
Who have wandered like truants for riches or fame!
With a smile on her face, and a sprig in her cap,
She calls you to feast from her beautiful lap.
Come out from your alleys, your courts and your lanes,
And breathe like your eagles, the air of our plains!
Take a whiff from our fields, and your excellent wives
Will declare it all nonsense insuring your lives."
MONARCH OF ALL HE SURVEYED: THEN DEPOSED.
Here on elevated lands around a pretty clearwater lake, directly on
the Florida Central and Peninsula Railroad, and near a famous grotto
extending deep into the earth, at the bottom of which, like a well,
was an abundance of water containing peculiar fish, near the noted
Eichelburger cave, and vast forests of gigantic trees with sloping
hills around, we founded the town of B----.
I was elected general manager, and went north to sell the $100,000 of
capital stock, convertible at the option of the holder into our lands
at schedule price, leaving a Mr. B---- as superintendent to cut
avenues, build a hotel, and conduct the general affairs in my absence.
For several years I devoted all my energies very successfully to
selling the stock and organizing colonies of settlers. I paid ten per
cent. dividend on the stock while I was manager, besides furnishing
thousands of dollars to defray expenses of building a handsome railway
station, a fine commodious schoolhouse and town hall, a good hotel,
and providing good roads.
I went to Tallahassee, and log rolled through the state legislature a
bill enabling us to form a city government, and statutory prohibition
of all liquor selling in our new town by incorporating said
prohibition into all our deeds. After securing these funds and many
settlers, also Ex-Governor Chamberlain of Maine as president of our
board of directors, I moved to the new town with my family, there to
Here our duties were in many respects agreeable, because useful, for
quite a long time. My wife was mother of the town, going from house to
house ministering to the wants of the newcomers who had become sick
by their carelessness in exposing themselves by night and day while
intoxicated with the delights of this incomparable climate. She formed
a union church, sang in the choir, and sometimes played the organ. I
was the father of the town in many senses of the word, being the only
person having any legal authority, and was expected to settle all
disputes whether between man and man or between man and wife.
Our town was overrun by hungry clergymen of many denominations and
from nearly every state, all clamoring for the lucre to be obtained by
preaching in our union church. I might have obtained the friendship of
one by appointing him as pastor; but I made malicious enemies of all
by insisting upon each one officiating in turn and taking therefor the
contents of the contribution box on his day.
The air resounded with the prayer-meeting shouts of these
ecclesiastics who all secretly worked against me, because I would not
allow them to found as many churches as there were inhabitants.
Many of the impecunious newcomers schemed against me because I could
not furnish them all with light work and heavy pay. Some would persist
in drinking surface water, ignoring all sanitary laws, became unwell
and then cursed the climate and my so-called misrepresentations;
others would ignore all instructions as to the agricultural methods
essential to success in this climate, and then denounce me on the sly
because their crops were not satisfactory.
Many wished to act as real estate agents on commission, and when
one succeeded, the rest, fired with jealousy, would accuse me of
favoritism because their own incompetency did not secure for them
these prizes. Our house was besieged by day and night, so that we
had to cut a hole in the outside door to talk with them when we were
seeking a little sleep.
We formed a temperance, literary and musical club which every one in
the town attended, and at this, at least, we spent many pleasant and
useful hours. I was president of this club, and performed all the
drudgery necessary to its success. I established a general store at
which goods were sold at about cost, but many complained because they
could not have unlimited credit.
One oasis in this fault-finding desert, was the outside colony of
freedmen. I employed many of them to do the heavy work of clearing
avenues, and the air resounded with their cheerful songs, and I had
the pleasure, with much labor, to save from the rapacious white
robbers, the farms which these colored men had received from generous
Uncle Sam. One case will illustrate the many instances in which I
appeared as umpire.
Uncle and Aunty Peter Gooden owned a fertile farm, and made a good
living and more by diligent labor thereon. A white "cracker" coveted
this property, and told the ignorant aunty that he would let her have
$300 on mortgage at two per cent. per week, so that she could buy
a new yellow wagon, silver-mounted harness and prancing mules, a
gorgeous red silk dress with much finery, with which she could
outshine all her neighbors. These unsophisticated, honest "coons,"
thinking it meant that they would have to pay only two cents per week,
accepted the offer, affixed their X marks to his unknown papers, and
not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like this simple couple.
In a short time they came to me broken-hearted, sobbing, and wailing,
telling me that the "cracker shylock" had foreclosed, ordering them
out of their house and home. I at once notified the avaricious shark
that he was guilty of violating the laws of the state by defrauding
and by false pretenses, tendered him the principal with legal
interest, and threatened punishment by law if he did not accept. He
said, like the fabled raccoon in the tree, "Don't shoot, I'll come
down." I paid the money for which, in due time, Uncle Peter reimbursed
I secured the hatred of the "crackers," but the undying gratitude
of the negroes, who vied with each other in bringing us game in
profusion, the first fruits of their crops, and shedding tears if
we offered payment therefor, begging to be allowed to show their
thankfulness by these free gifts. If one of them heard a threat
against us he would guard our house all night with a shotgun, and
would shadow me as I went about in the night, ready to spring upon any
of my assailants.
[Illustration: Ups and Downs in the Wild Woods.]
I provided a school and church for these loving, dusky children,
and it was pathetic and cheering to see them all, from the tiny
pickaninnies to the tottering gray heads, going regularly with their
primers and Bibles, trying to learn to read and write.
Many pleasant evenings in midwinter we sat on our vine-clad piazza,
enjoying the balmy breezes, perfumed with the delicious orange
blossoms, looking at the stately pines glorified by moonlight and
starlight; listening to the songs of these dark-faced but white-souled
serenaders, the whites of whose eyes and perfect teeth could be seen
beaming upon us through the dusky shades of the forest.
On the evening of the day when news arrived of the first election of
Grover Cleveland to the Presidency, we were sitting as usual on our
piazza, when, suddenly, I saw a flash of fire in the woods, followed
by the report of a rifle, then others in quick succession. Rushing to
the scene I found a few Southern whites armed with repeating rifles,
facing a large band of negroes carrying a motley array of pitchforks,
scythes, razors, clubs, and a few ancient shotguns. Yelling: "Hold
up!" I sprang between the embattled hosts, and demanded to know what
was the row.
"Get out of the way, you damned Yankee," shrieked the crackers, "or
we'll riddle you with bullets." Then they gave the far-reaching,
fiendish, rebel yell.
"Shoot," I replied, "if you want to be hung."
--"Boys," I said, turning to the darkies, "what's the matter?"
"Oh, boss, massa Linkum's dead, de Dimikrat am Presidunt, und we poo'
niggers be slabes agin. We fight, we die, but we won't be slabes agin,
Again came the roar of rifles behind me and the minnie balls went
shrieking over our heads. "Boys," I shouted, "you are mistaken. A
million Northern soldiers will march down here if necessary to prevent
that; go at once to your homes; I will take care of you." Slowly the
colored men, who trusted me implicitly, melted away in the darkness.
Again the rebel yell, again the rifle shots high in the air.
"Gentlemen," said I, to the menacing whites, "come with me to the
Hall, I want to talk with you."
"To hell with you!" they yelled, but followed me into the building.
When they had sullenly taken seats, with guns threateningly at the
ready, they glared at me like tigers ready to spring. Soon a man, I
had, on my way, sent to the store, arrived with a box of good Florida
cigars, and I quietly passed them around to my "lions couchant,"
took a seat on the platform facing them, lit up, and commenced the
enjoyment of a silent smoke, they following suit.
The tender of a cigar in the South is a recognition of comradeship
which is a most potent mollifier. At last they brought their guns
to the ground arms, parade rest, and the leader, an ex-Confederate
officer, drawled out, "Wall, Yank, what do you want of we uns?"
"Just as you please, gentlemen, peace or war?"
"We are smoking the pipe, or cigar, of peace, Yank."
"So mote it be, brothers," said I, knowing that they were all members
of the mystic tie. "We meet on the level, let us part on the square."
"So mote it be," was the response in a regular lodge room chorus.
A few quick signs were exchanged between chair and settees, the ice
was broken, the "lodge was opened in due form;" there was no longer
any restraint, for we were all members of the most ancient fraternal
order on earth, of which the wisest man who ever lived was founder.
They had not known this before. The white dove descended, and they
promised on the sacred oath which makes all men brothers, to molest
the negroes no more. We had a jolly good time, gave each other the
Grand Masonic grip and departed to our homes.
As I walked, I saw several dark figures dodging from tree to tree,
and all that night my dusky-hued friends kept vigilant watch and ward
about our cottage. The next morning many valiant war-men in time of
peace, but peace-men in time of war, told me what brave fighting they
would have done for my protection had I but called upon them to do so.
I stocked the lake with excellent food fish obtained from the National
Fish Commissioner, built good sidewalks, arched by beautiful shade
trees; and many prominent men bought lands in our town. We passed an
ordinance forbidding the use of our public thoroughfares to cattle
and hogs, and for a while the air quivered with the squealings of
infuriated razor backs.
Our valiant city marshal would pounce upon each one of these
long-snouted swine; then came the tug-of-war, amid clouds of dust;
down went marshal and razor-back, the nose as long and sharp as a
ploughshare cleaving the earth near the sidewalks lined with laughing
people. Our great Floridian always triumphed, and his pig-ship was
incarcerated in the town "pound" until owner paid charges and penned
his property outside city limits.
Once I saw a terrific contest between one of these long-legged,
long-nosed porkers and the lone, pet alligator of our lake. His
pig-ship was enjoying a drink when Mr. 'Gator seized him by the snout,
the porcine braced and yelled; the 'gator let go in amazement; the pig
turned to run; 'gator seized him by the leg, then Greek met Greek,
teeth met teeth, till' the saurian struck him with his mighty tail,
and all was over; the alligator and the porker lay down in peace
together with the pig inside the 'gator.
One day, one of our fishermen brought in a string of trout which far
overshadowed the miraculous draught of fishes in the Sea of Galilee.
On being questioned as to how he did it, he said he got one bite and
pulled for three hours. The fish kept catching hold of each others'
tails in their eagerness to be caught, until he had landed four
barrels of the toothsome fat trout.
Our champion brought from a few hours' hunt, enough quail for the
entire town; and when asked how he did it, he replied: "Oh, I saw
three thousand quail roosting on the limb of a tree. I had only my
rifle with one ball; I shot at the limb, cracked it, their legs fell
through the crack which closed when the bullet went through, and
chained them all hard and fast. All I had to do was to cut off the
limb with my jack-knife and bag the whole lot."
One day this mighty Nimrod brought home three bears and four deer.
"How did you do it?" asked the envious multitude. "I was asleep in my
wigwam, was waked up by a rumpus outside, rushed out with my gun, and
chased the crowd around the hut till I was dead beat, then I bent my
rifle across my knee into the exact circumference shape of my house,
and fired. The bullet whistled by me for half an hour, chasing the
varmints who were chasing each other; bum by, the bullet caught up,
went through the whole crowd, and by gum; that 'ere bullet is chasing
round that wigwam naouw."
On another occasion, this same man brought in a lot of wild turkeys
all ready for the table. As usual we expressed our wonderment. "Wall,
by gum," said he, "'twas the beatemest thing you ever heered on. I
was waked up by these critters squawkin' over my haouse; I fired up
chimbly, and daown tumbled the whole gang; the fire burnt off the
feathers and roasted um up braown afore I could get at um."
"But how about the stuffing?"
"Oh, that's nothin'; they'd stuffed themselves afore I shot um."
We had often congratulated ourselves upon our immunity from snakes,
never having seen even one in our Bailiwick; but our sweet dreams of
peace were rudely disturbed by this Baron Munchausen who horrified our
ladies one day, by saying that he went into our church to make some
repairs, and there met a rattle-snake which swallowed him whole at one
full swoop; at once he recalled the Sunday-school lesson of Jonah in
the whale's belly, took courage, struck a match, made a bonfire of his
hat, and by its light cut his way out with his hatchet, ran to his
house, got his gun and shot the snake, which was so large that he had
not noticed the man's cutting, nor his escape, but was vastly enjoying
his after dinner nap. This man long bore the honors of being the
champion liar and champion hunter of the universe.
Thus, rapidly, sped away our days replete with alternating smiles and
tears until arrived the time for our annual stockholders' election. On
our way to Ocala to attend this important event, I conversed at length
with the Rev. W----, upon whom I had conferred many and profitable
favors. This ostentatiously pious individual expressed much gratitude
for my kindness to him, assured me that my administration of affairs
had been a grand success, that I had gained the merited respect and
confidence of all the people in the town and that he would urge my
reelection as general manager, with all his strength.
The conference progressed very harmoniously for awhile, when I was
called out to see a man on some important business, and on reentering
the room, I noticed some excitement among the members, when General
Chamberlain, the president, called me to his chair and frankly told
me, in the hearing of all, that the Rev. W---- had, as soon as I left,
denounced me fiercely as a fraud and a liar, stating that I had the
respect of no one in B----; that the town would be ruined were I
reelected; that he himself would take my position without any salary,
relying solely upon commission from land sales, as compensation, and
that he made this statement at the unanimous request of the citizens
of the town.
All eyes were turned to me for an explanation. I looked for awhile
at the hypocritical clergyman very steadily, until he cringed like a
viper, and turned pale as a ghost. I then narrated the statements made
to me scarcely an hour before, called upon him for some proof of his
accusations, and closed by saying that I would not accept a reelection
unless it came to me unanimously. The craven reverend left the room
without a word; I was reelected without a dissenting vote, and thus
closed one of the most revolting revelations of depravity that I ever
This "wolf in sheep's clothing," after an extraordinary career in
endeavoring to "fleece" others, finally lost every dollar of his
property, fled from the town with his family, and I have never been
able to hear from him since. I wish for the sake of faith in human
nature that this had been the only case of "fall from grace," but
alas, there were others!
But let the curtain fall. Moral--have no confidence in the man who
wears his religion on his coat sleeve or necktie; but try the spirits
whether they are of Christ.
At this time, a party of prominent people arrived at B----, from
the North, to consider the feasibility of investing quite largely
somewhere in Florida. As they wished to visit the southern part of the
state before deciding, I procured free passes for all, and escorted
them via steamer, down the entire Gulf coast, touching at all
attractive points, exploring coral islands where myriads of sea birds
nested, encircling us with wild screams till the clouds of them
well-nigh shut out the sun; then we collected rare shells and flotsam
and jetsam from far away lands; one hour, floating over the calm Gulf
of Mexico, as smooth as a mirror, then tossed by a sudden tempest
far towards the stars, and tumbling down to Davy Jones' locker; now
enjoying the lotos-eaters' paradise, then, as we reached the lowlands,
well-nigh devoured by millions of mosquitoes and sand flies.
Then we crossed the peninsular, traveling under hammock-woods and
century-old wild-orange trees, whose "twilight dim hallowed the
noonday," regaled with unlimited fish and game to the far-famed Indian
River,--delightful recreation-spots for a few weeks in winter, but too
hot, damp, and mosquitoey for colonies. Then we were guests of the
millionaires' club at Cape Canaveral, where were acres of wild ducks,
droves of screaming catamounts, and huge-billed, fish-devouring
pelicans. We drove over many miles of hard, firm sea-beaches--delightful
brief winter homes for the rich, then back to our fertile piny woods
highlands, convinced that the "backbone" of the peninsular was the only
desirable locality for permanent settlers who must get a living from the
bosom of mother earth.
Soon after, leaving Mr. B----, the superintendent, in charge of the
company's interests in our new town, which now contained over one
hundred houses, and had elected a Mayor and Alderman, I returned with
my family to Boston, devoting my time to lecturing on Florida in
general, and B---- in particular, in nearly all the cities of New
England, distributing illustrated books which I had prepared, and
which were approved as true, by many prominent people who had lived
for many years among the scenes which were therein described.
My labors were very successful, and a great success for our enterprise
seemed assured, when I received a letter from our directors, stating
that a Dr. K---- had offered to accept my position as general manager,
without salary; pay his own expenses, relying on his commissions on
land sales, and that as I had declined to serve on this basis they
had felt compelled to accept his services. As I was obliged to have
a regular income for the support of my family, I acquiesced in the
directors' decision, and soon, under the new incompetent management,
the company failed; so another of my business enterprises, on the very
verge of a grand success, became a defeat, and again the innocent were
blamed for the acts of the guilty. I converted my stock in the M.L.&I.
Co., into lands of the company at a great loss to me, as I took the
lands at company's schedule values instead of at the cost prices,
while the stock cost me--the full price of $100 per share. Blessed is
he who expecteth nothing, for he alone shall not be disappointed.
Our varying days pass on and on,
Our hopes fade unfulfilled away,
And things which seem the life of life
Are taken from us day by day.
Our little dramas all may fail,
And naught may issue as we planned,
Our costliest ships refuse to sail,
Our firmest castles fall to sand.
But God lives on, and with our woe
Weaves golden threads of joy and peace,
And somewhere we will surely know
From sorrow and pain the glad release.
FOREGLEAMS OF IMMORTALITY.
This year of our Lord, 1886, brought an infinitely greater sorrow
than the mere financial losses which pressed so hardly upon us in
connection with our Florida endeavors. On Christmas morning, while
alone in my room, I distinctly heard my father's voice whisper:
"James, James, good-bye," and an hour later the telegraph flashed the
news that he passed away at the exact time when I heard him bidding me
My father was an honest man, the noblest work of God; he had gained
none of what the world calls the great prizes of life, but he had what
was better far, a conscience void of offense towards God and man. In
the words of Thoreau--"If a man does not keep pace with his fellows,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drum beat; he should step
to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." This my
father always did, though the music of his life-march came not from
earth, but from the sky, and without a shadow of fear, sustained by a
deathless faith, he passed within the gateway of eternal life.
The winter at last retreated sullenly and reluctantly to his arctic
home, and when the first harbingers of spring appeared, singing the
memorial songs of the Resurrection, the old country fever, inherited
from many generations of farmer ancestors, seized me, and we bought a
small plantation for $4,200, in N----, Mass., to which we moved April
28, 1887. Here, as usual, much money was expended on improvements and
for horse, carriages, cow, pigs, hens, also for scanty harvests of
vegetables, and our only returns therefor consisted of large crops
of backaches, nasal hemorrhages, and rheumatism incurred in frantic
attempts to coax from the reluctant soil, some slight compensation for
Here, as usual, I was busied with many cares, lecturing in various
places on the subject of Florida and selling our private lands in that
state. Like Mr. Pickwick, I was founder of many societies, notably the
N---- club, which, with a fine orchestra and much dramatic talent
soon became the social and literary attraction of the town; also the
Republican club, which conducted a vigorous campaign for protective
tariff and sound money, attracting large audiences by political
debates. I was president of both these flourishing organizations, was
chairman of the parish committee of the Unitarian Church, leading
to its enlargement and extended usefulness, was a member of the
congressional committee of the district which wrested a congressman
from the Democrats, electing, after a desperate struggle, John W.
Candler, to the National Legislature in place of Russell, "the
On the 16th of June of this year, Rebecca, the wife of my only
surviving brother, left her body, and was welcomed to the evergreen
shores of the summer-land, by her father, mother, our father, mother,
my spirit-bride and her father, mother, and my two brothers who had
long gone before. She was a good, honest woman, a veritable help-meet
to my brother, and we all gratefully cherish the memory, which is the
best attained by any life, that she left the world better than she
One by one, we miss the voices which we loved so well to hear,
One by one their kindly faces in the darkness disappear.
On the evening of the 16th of August in this year, an experience
came into our lives which changed the whole current of our religious
thought, and forever banished from our minds all fear of the so-called
death, and all doubt as to the eternal continuity of existence.
My brother, my wife, four children and myself were recreating for a
week in the woods and waters of Onset Bay, and while walking in the
gloaming through the grove, listening to the music of the band, we saw
a notice posted on a tree stating that the B---- sisters would give
a materializing seance in their cottage at this hour. We were all
skeptics of the most pronounced type, having seen much of the
contemptible trickery and fraud of so-called mediums; but we yielded
to the temptation to enter the seance room through mere curiosity.
Here we found in the "dim religious light," about a score of
intelligent looking ladies and gentlemen intently watching white-robed
figures which occasionally glided from a cabinet on a slightly
elevated stage and embraced people from the audience who were called
to meet them.
This ghostly procession interested us but slightly, until a form
whose features seemed strangely familiar, advanced to the edge of the
platform and beckoned my wife to come to her. On responding to the
invitation, she was at once encircled by the arms of the visitor,
kisses were exchanged, she was called distinctly "my dear sister,"
informed that the lady in white was Mary, my spirit-wife, who in
loving tones expressed her thanks for the kindly care that Lillian had
exercised over her three children, saying that she was always with her
to help. Suddenly, the form called for me, and I went to her as one
"James," she said, "I am Mary, your wife." She embraced me with many
kisses as in the long ago, and continued: "I am so glad to see you
and Lillian, who has so lovingly taken my place; bless her for her
goodness to our children; my time here is so short." Then turning;
"Jot," she whispered to my brother, "come here;" she kissed him, said:
"Rebecca, father and mother are here in the cabinet, but too weak
to come out. We give you all our love and blessing; good-bye," and
disappeared through the floor at our feet.
There was no possible shadow of doubt about this visitation from the
unseen world. We had "felt the touch of the vanished hand, we had
heard the sound of the voice that is still," and henceforth we knew
that we walked hand in hand with angels. We realized unmistakably the
truth of the words of the poet Longfellow:
"The forms of the departed enter at the open door,
The beloved, the true hearted come to visit us once more,
And with them the being beauteous, who unto my youth was given
More than all things else to love me, and is now a saint in Heaven.
Oh, though oft depressed and lonely, all my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only such as these have lived and died."
The pages of the Bible, the testimony of all the sweet singers of all
the ages, confirm indisputably our certain knowledge of spirit return,
and _we know_ the truth of what the saints and sages of all time have
dreamed, and by faith have believed, all religions have taught, it is
now demonstrated beyond all doubt and we can say most joyfully--
"Oh land, oh land
For all the broken-hearted,
The mildest herald by our fate allotted
Beckons, and with inverted torch doth stand
To lead us with a gentle hand
Into the land of the great departed,
Into the silent land."
We turned to our duties, inspired by the knowledge that we were guided
and assisted by the loved ones gone before. After living on the
flat-as-pan-cake plain of N---- for three years, again was I
disenchanted; all the poetic illusions of farm life vanished, all the
oxygen seemed to be exhausted from the air, the romance of raising
potatoes at a cost of five dollars a peck disappeared, the old farm
hung like a millstone round my neck, we sold it and hired a pretty
cottage in the lucre-worshipping town of B----, on the 29th of March,
1890, where we led uneventful lives for one year, until my fickle
fancy was captivated by a fine new house on the hilltop overlooking
the sea, in the town of W----, Mass. This we bought and entered on the
14th of May, 1891.
Here at last we thought we had found the Mecca towards which, all our
lives we had been drifting. Once more came the passion for beautifying
our own, and we made our lawns to bud and blossom like the roses;
worshipping at the shrine of the majestic ocean,
"Its waves were kneeling on the strand,
As kneels the human knee,
Their white locks bowing to the sand
The priesthood of the sea."
Here we passed four very pleasant and useful years; consciously near
to us, though unseen, were all our loved ones of the spirit world.
Almost every night our angel friends communicated with us unmistakably
through the ouija, and planchette; they would draw caricature pictures
of us all, and give us conundrums and jokes that we had never known
before. One evening in particular, Mary wrote us to give her children
the best possible musical instruction, stating that May would become a
great singer and flute player, and that Ada would be a fine organist
and pianist, as well as singer; that Ida would do well with violin and
We were incredulous, as they had inherited no musical talent, neither
had they manifested any inclination in these directions; but Mary was
so persistent and strenuous in her appeals, that we heeded the advice,
gave the girls good teachers along these lines, and soon, their
spirit-mother's predictions were fulfilled to the very letter, and the
so-called "Foss triplets" became a veritable inspiration to thousands
of delighted listeners to their rendition of instrumental and vocal
strains of music.
The dews of heaven descend upon all the flowers of the field, some
open their petals, welcome the refreshment and are blessed thereby;
while others close their buds, refusing the blessing, and as a result,
wither and die. Even so come to all souls the spirits of the departed,
and they inspire or fail in their mission of love according to whether
we open or close to them the doors of our inner sanctuaries.
The departed, the departed,
They visit us in dreams,
They glide above our memories
Like sunlight over streams.
The melody of summer waves,
The thrilling notes of birds
Can never be so dear to me
As their softly-whispered words.
A PRACTICAL SOCIALIST AND COLONIZER.
We found in this town of W----, a moribund Unitarian Church, with
scarcely a handful of attendants, listening once a week to a lifeless
minister and an asthmatic harmonium accompanied by a few feeble,
Our sympathies were aroused for this expiring infant, and we resolved
to rescue it if possible from its open grave. My wife and I,
accompanied by the "Triplets," on the front seat of our carriage
as drivers, canvassed the entire town, asking all we met to lay up
treasures in heaven by "rescuing the perishing," and we soon secured
money to buy a fine toned organ and to hire a wideawake pastor. Ada
played the new organ; May formed a quartette with herself as soprano,
Ida often accompanying with her violin; my wife teaching in the
Sunday-school, myself serving as chairman of the Parish Committee, and
soon our church was filled with attentive and much edified listeners
and helpers. I organized the Channing Club, which soon included in its
membership all the leading musical and dramatic talent of the town. We
met weekly in the church vestry which was soon decorated by handsome
pictures, scenery and bric-a-brac, the gifts of our members, making a
very spacious and attractive resort.
This club over which I presided, developed to a remarkable degree the
latent talents of many who had never before thought themselves capable
of entertaining and instructing the public. We had an orchestra of
stringed and brass instruments, in which May played the flute, Ada
the piano and organ, Ida second violin, while all our four girls sang
solos, duets, trios, and quartettes. Many elderly people paid generous
fees for honorary membership, while the large, active membership,
responded regularly when called upon with musical, literary, or
dramatic renditions individually or in combination as they might
prefer. It was a delightful and instructive symposium which ought to
be found in every town.
The Channing Club soon became famous, and gave first-class
entertainments to very large audiences at high admission fees in our
own and surrounding towns as well as in Boston, thus replenishing the
church treasury and greatly promoting sociability and friendship by
regular dances and suppers which made hundreds seem like one large
family, bound together by many friendly ties, each one readily
responding to the call of the president to render his or her full
share of entertainment and good cheer for the good of all.
It was an ideal socialistic order, and we truly "sat together in
heavenly places." All gladly contributed to the needs of the poor
or the sick; we chartered steamers and went on picnic excursions to
attractive island resorts in our beautiful harbor; class distinctions
were banished, envy and jealousy disappeared like snow before the sun,
and good fellowship reigned supreme. Our rich and poor met together as
brothers and sisters.
Such an organization in churches would soon banish class hatreds, and
do much to make this world a paradise like to that above.
The winter of 1892 was a red-letter season in the history of us all.
We rented our house in W----, to a friend, and lived in Florida,
our four girls attending Rollins College at Winter Park, where they
enjoyed life immensely in the incomparable climate which, with their
studies in this excellent school, was of great benefit to them,
physically and mentally. I was favored with free passes all over the
state, and devoted my time to a careful examination of large tracts
of land in various counties, but found none to my liking until on
our return trip, we spent several weeks at Lawtey, in the county of
Florida, within its vast area, contains a great variety of land and
climates, and the person who has traversed only the beaten track
of the tourist knows nothing of the fertile tracts and delightful
temperatures of these green-grassed and Piny-woods Highlands. Here, as
nowhere else in the world, nature has provided all the essentials to
agricultural success; there was but one mortgaged homestead in the
entire township; it is the greatest strawberry mart in the world; the
abundance of nutritious wild grasses render cattle and sheep raising
throughout the year a source of great revenue, and the maximum of crop
returns is secured with a minimum of labor.
At last, after years of search throughout the state, we found our
ideal location for a colony, and I bonded over 6,000 acres of fertile,
well-wooded lands, returned home, formed a syndicate, and paid for our
tract, to which we gave the appropriate suggestive name of "Woodlawn."
I successfully pursued my avocation of advertising and selling our
lands, having an office in Boston and cooperating agents in several
On June 11th, 1894, my brother Joshua, the last of my father's family
except myself, was suddenly called to join our many loved ones in the
spirit world. All our lives we had been as David and Jonathan, and not
a cloud had swept across the azure of our sky of mutual affection,
until the advent of his second wife. He was one of the best men that
ever lived, and nearly everyone in his town had been benefited by his
well-known generosity and self-sacrifice, and he found awaiting him,
many treasures in the grand bank of heaven.
"I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead--he is just away,
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there;
We think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of there as the love of here,
Think of him still as the same, I say,
He is not dead--he is just away."
Soon after the departure of my brother to the better land, our
spirit-band informed us very plainly through "Ouija," that it was our
duty to remove to Boston in order that our children might have better
educational facilities, and be admitted to the "musical swim" of the
"Hub of the Universe." We obeyed their mandate, and the predictions of
our angel friends were fully verified. In our new home the older girls
met those to whom they were married in Heaven, and to whom they
gave their hands and hearts. I now look back over a half century of
existence on this earth, and my muse inspires me to record that:
I have ships that went to sea
More than fifty years ago.
None have yet come back to me,
But keep sailing to and fro,
Plunging through the shoreless deep,
With tattered sails and battered hulls
While around them scream the gulls.
I have wondered why they stayed
From me, sailing round the world
And I've said, "I'm half afraid
That their sails will ne'er be furled."
Great the treasures that they hold,
Silks, and plumes, and bars of gold,
While the spices which they bear
Fill with fragrance all the air.
I have waited on the piers
Gazing for them down the bay,
Days and nights, for many years,
Till I turned heart-sick away.
But the pilots, when they land,
Kindly take me by the hand,
Saying, "Surely they will come to thee,
Thy proud vessels from the sea."
So I never quite despair,
Nor let hope or courage fail,
And some day, when skies are fair,
Up the bay my ships will sail.
HAND IN HAND WITH ANGELS.
In our Boston home, there came to us one of the most wonderful and
inspiring experiences ever vouchsafed to mortals beneath the stars;
an experience which solved forever for us the problem of immortality,
which all the religious teachings of all the ages had been powerless
to accomplish. It confirmed beyond a shadow of doubt, our knowledge
of the future life obtained previously at Onset Bay, as the following
named events transpired in our own house in the presence of witnesses
under test circumstances which precluded all possibility of deception.
Mrs. B----, of Boston, came to our house alone, gratuitously, on her
own volition, sat within a few feet of our entire family and two of
our neighbors, having no cabinet or any paraphernalia which are always
required by those charlatans who have associated the fair name of
spiritualism with fraud and chicanery. In about one hour there
appeared in our parlor, in full view of us all, more than thirty
forms; some tall as were ever seen on earth, others little children,
the forms of our offspring who were "still born"; my brother Joshua,
who had been in spirit life a little over one year came fully
materialized and was clearly recognized by my entire family.
He gave me, while I was standing within two feet of the medium, the
firm grip of a Master Mason; his hand was like that of a living human
being; he whispered a few intelligible words, saying that we should
have no fear if trouble came, that all would turn out for our ultimate
good, and disappeared at my feet; then a tall, finely-formed young man
with dark moustache came, beating his breast with his hand. "You see,
I am all here," he said; "I am John Mansfield, formerly of New Jersey.
I was attracted to your house by the music. I am guardian of your
girls; I am going to try to help in your father and mother." He
vanished; then returned, trying to bring the half-materialized but
recognizable forms as he had promised; but they were weak, and seen
Then came the clearly defined form of the children's aunt, and the
girls, who were somewhat timid, recognized her at once. She kissed
each one several times in rapid succession just as she used to do when
she met them in the long ago; called them and my wife by name, and
disappeared, apparently through the floor. Then appeared Mary, my
spirit-wife, and many others whom we could not recognize.
Little Blue Bell, one of the medium's cabinet spirits, them came,
pointing to the door, saying: "See that little fat snoozer?" we looked
around and saw the wondering eyes of our Bessie, who we supposed was
"snoozing" in bed; she had come down in her night-dress. Finally,
Nellie, our hired girl, who, being a Catholic, had been warned by the
priest never to countenance spiritualism, and had locked herself in
her room, came into the parlor, wild-eyed and with her hair streaming
over her shoulders, saying she was compelled to come in. At once the
form of a young Irish girl clad in peasant costume, with hair to her
waist, appeared, and clasped Nellie in her arms; they talked a few
minutes, and the form vanished in air. Nellie told us that it was a
schoolmate of hers who died in Ireland fifteen years before, that they
had been great friends, and vied with each other in growing the longer
These facts may seem incredible to those who have never received
visitations from the other world; but we know that we saw and felt the
forms of our spirit friends on that occasion, as surely as we know
that we ever saw them when they were with us daily in the body on
When alone that night, I "dropped into poetry," and here is what my
spirit-guided hand wrote, February 4th, 1895.
Out of the darkness cometh a light,
Out of the silence cometh a voice,
The pathway of life grows suddenly bright,
And as never before we all rejoice.
The dearly beloved who have gone before
Come back to bless from the beautiful shore;
They speak to us words of lofty cheer,
That banish the clouds of darksome fear.
How sweet to _know_ that there is no death,
That the soul outlives the fleeting breath;
That guardian angels surround us ever
With a deathless love no power can sever.
We mourn no more the vanished youth,
We are nearing the heaven of eternal truth;
We lament no more the earthly ills,
For their power will cease on the heavenly hills.
We grieve no more for the wrinkled brow,
Nor for withering locks as white as snow,
For soon will we greet what is unseen now,
Soon to the sunlit heights will we go.
For many years doubt's saddening shade
On our hearts its pall has laid:
But a gleam comes from the bright forever,
And gloom and fear shall haunt us never.
We have felt the touch of the vanished hand,
We have heard the sound of the voice that is still;
They have come to us from the better land,
Their cheering words our spirits thrill.
"We will know the loved who have gone before,
And joyfully sweet will the meeting be
When over the river, the beautiful river,
The angel of death shall carry me."
AMONG THE LAW-SHARKS.
It seems to be an unwritten law of human life that every great joy
shall be quickly followed by a great sorrow. The materialized forms
of our spirit loved-ones had scarcely vanished from sight, when the
trouble of which my brother had forewarned us fell like a thunderbolt
from a cloudless sky.
We had, without a thought of deception, and at prices which then
prevailed, sold to many persons, lands in Florida, some for
settlement, some as investments. Phosphate had been discovered in
the immediate vicinity of some of our tracts, and this fact had led
speculators to buy our lands, hoping that these deposits might greatly
enhance values; but the usual competition to sell this valuable
fertilizer had for the time reduced prices to a non-paying basis;
then, too, an unprecedented freeze, which once in about a hundred
years visits all semi-tropical countries, had destroyed many orange
groves in the State, and so frightened short-sighted, timid people,
that Florida lands were at a great discount, and, as when a panic
sweeps over Wall Street, many frantically hastened to sell, and there
were but few buyers.
This led several of my customers to conspire to frighten me into
paying them large sums as hush money, pretending that I had secured
their purchases under false pretenses; but the Yankee spirit of
our fathers, "millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute,"
prompted me to defy their infamous demands.
Under the lead of a fiendishly "smart" lawyer, they declared that I
told them their lands were full of phosphate, and within city limits,
although my published circulars and maps stated nothing of the kind.
They denounced me as a fraud in the newspapers, brought lawsuits
against me, attached property, and proceeded in a most brutal manner
to compel payment of their unjust claims.
My word for half a century had everywhere been as good as my bond,
and my bond as good as gold. I had never before had a lawsuit or any
trouble with any one, and so in my inexperience I employed a lawyer
friend, who was no match for my enemies' human tiger. They testified
unfairly in court, and after many crushing annoyances from the law's
delays, my lawyer, putting in no defense, in order, as he said,
to save his ammunition for use in the Superior Court, to which he
appealed, they secured judgment.
All these slanders broke my never firm health; I was soon on the verge
of nervous prostration, and was ordered by my physician to at once
secure a change of climate to save my life. My innocent lawyer
supposed that a court of justice would postpone my trial until my
return; but we have now some "courts of injustice."
Some lawyers are worse than highway robbers; they make the laws as
legislators to suit their own iniquitous, selfish purposes, so worded
that they are susceptible of almost any interpretation, thus
leading to endless litigations by which these cannibal devourers of
reputations are robbing the public of their possessions. They employ
spies to stir up strife, and some lawyers and judges seem to be banded
together to fleece the confiding lambs of the public. The judge not
only refused to postpone the trial until I was able to attend, but
refused to have the jury informed that I was absent on account of
We are bound hand and foot, the slaves of these law-sharks, and it
seems as if nothing but revolution and the banishing of these tyrants,
will ever deliver the public from the worse than African slavery to
which some lawyers subject us. We have seen innocent, modest lady
witnesses subjected to bull-dozing and abuse by barbarous lawyers,
until they suffered tortures to which those of the Spanish Inquisition
As I was obliged to go or die, I accepted the offer of my wife's
brother, a member of the publishing firm of Webster's Dictionaries,
and went to California to fight their battles against the new Standard
Dictionary which was rapidly driving the Webster books out of the
markets of the entire Pacific slope.
The trial took place during my enforced absence; my enemies' crafty
attorney told the jury that my failure to appear was a sure evidence
of guilt; my doctor's affidavit that he sent me away to save my life
was not allowed to be presented in court; each plaintiff claimed to
have heard the statements imputed to have been made by me to the
others, one of them making love to, and afterwards marrying one of my
most important witnesses, and so the verdict was against me.
But curses often "come home to roost," and my enemies were ultimately
not benefited at all, as the lawyer-sharks devoured all they received
In the meanwhile, during their worrying and falsifying, I was speeding
away in a palace-car, confident that my spirit brother's declaration
would prove true that truth is mighty and will prevail, if not in the
brief here, yet surely in the eternal hereafter. It is very saddening
to see how many, who claim to be your friends while you are
prosperous, are the first to assail with poisoned arrows when you are
attacked in the courts or in the public prints; but my conscience is
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, or tide or sea.
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For soon my own shall come to me.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave into the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
CAMPAIGNING IN WONDERLAND.
This delightful journey was a wonderful revelation of the greatness,
power, and grandeur of this glorious republic in which we live. I
gazed with amazement for many hours as we flew over the marvelously
fertile and beautiful prairies of Kansas; here miles upon miles of
wheat, corn, and alfalfa waving like vast seas, irrigated by means of
numberless windmills; there, herds of cattle, numerous as the leaves
of autumn; here, long lines of steam plows breaking thousands of acres
of virgin soil; there mammoth steam reapers devouring vast areas of
gold mines of grain; the food of the nations pouring into bags at one
end, while the stalks were bound midway ready for the fattening of
cattle. The chaff flew in clouds, and quickly, from these machines,
millions of bushels of wheat were soon on their way to the markets of
the world. What wonder that our country now has in Washington over
five hundred millions of gold dollars; the richest treasury ever known
Now we catch glimpses of vast mines of coal and salt; then of great
cities which have sprung up as by magic; and soon my eyes were greeted
with a vision of heavenly splendor in Colorado. Three hundred miles
of the Rocky Mountains, Pike's Peak towering 14,000 feet towards the
stars; great clouds of snow blowing from the summit into the valleys;
there cascades of mighty rivers flowing to irrigate lovely valleys;
here the great city of Denver, having 125,000 population, and one mile
higher up in the air than Boston.
In this city I met my former college professor, now the
multi-millionaire United States senator, burdened with many crushing
cares, knowing about as much peace and quietness as a toad under a
Then on went the mighty train; here a glimpse at Manitou of the
"Garden of the Gods," with cathedral spires of old red sandstone
towering hundreds of feet towards the clouds which capped their
summits with halos; on through the grand canyon of the Arkansas River,
in places two miles nearer heaven than Boston; here we see gigantic
natural castles with battlements, bastions and fortresses whose
leveled cannon you almost instinctively dodge to escape their
imaginary bomb-shells. Now we climb almost perpendicular heights,
thousands of feet; now we slide down into chasms barely escaping the
rushing waters; then we shoot through a tunnel two miles long under
1,500 feet of solid rock; now we rush over vast plateaus 10,000 feet
above the sea; then we catch glimpses of herds of cattle, now of great
caves, lone trees with not a bit of earth visible about their roots;
now we rush into Leadville, a mining camp of 10,000 people. At
midnight a huge stone rolled down the mountainside onto the track,
delaying us for two hours. Had it fallen a minute later we would have
been crushed into nothingness.
In the morning I awoke in Utah, rode all the forenoon over arid
plains; gaunt, hungry wolves scud away, cayotes ran yelping, and jack
rabbits hopped out of sight for dear life; then we arrive at Salt Lake
City, which the Mormons have transformed from a howling wilderness
into a fine city, with a surrounding country budding and blossoming
with bounteous harvests. The peak towers aloft where the United States
Regulars halted after their terrible march over the mountains, near
where the famous Nauvoo Legion of the Mormons surrendered, after their
rebellion to make Brigham Young their king, though he said that by a
wave of his hand he could hurl back the balls of the national cannon
to annihilate the soldiers of the republic.
I drank in with delight the music of the grand organ and the four
hundred trained singers of the Mormon choir in the vast tabernacle.
Then on thundered the train by the great Salt Lake, one hundred miles
long and forty miles wide, so salt that it buoys you up on its surface
like a feather; then on over the sage-brush desert to Reno, Nevada,
where is the world-renowned Comstock mine, from which over one hundred
millions of dollars' worth of silver has already been taken.
Then we climbed the Sierra Nevada Mountains, around and around in a
circle, shot through a snow shed forty miles long; then lumber chutes
appear many miles in length, through which enormous logs are shot down
by water power from the mountain lake. Four billion feet of lumber are
cut here in a year.
Then on we go past Lake Tahoe, twenty-two miles long, surrounded by
mountains two miles in height; then past Cape Horn, along precipices
down which I threw a stone which fell 2,500 feet into the American
We slide down the mountains to Auburn, California, and find fruit
trees in blossom, grass green, and crops several inches high. A sudden
change in a few minutes from deep snow and severe cold to blossoms and
roses. On we go to Sacramento, surrounded by great ranches with vast
herds of cattle and sheep feeding on the wild grasses; then on to San
Francisco, the Golden Gate, and the unpacified Pacific.
The principal occupation of the street cars in 'Frisco, is climbing
almost perpendicular heights, and then sliding down hill. All very
pleasant except when the cogs in the cable slip, and you become part
and parcel of a promiscuous mix-up, all passengers tumbling over and
on to each other into the front end of the car, and if you are at the
bottom of the struggling heap, with your nose banged against the door,
and suffocating fat parties wedged on top of you, this rapid transit
slide is not quite so delightful as when you ride on the top of the
Here you can get a good meal with a bottle of wine thrown in for
"two bits" (twenty-five cents), you can buy three different kinds of
newspapers for the same price as one, as they have no coins smaller
than a nickel. For a nickel you can ride for miles to the Cliff House
which is at the Golden Gate, where are acres of giant flowers of every
conceivable variety, all beautiful, but odorless; you watch the sea
lions nearly the size of oxen, and who roar and fight on the boulders.
Then we enter a bath-house, acres in extent, covered with glass, where
you can swim in sea water warmed by steam-pipes, listen to the band,
examine the multitude of wild animals and curiosities collected from
all parts of the world.
[Illustration: The Golden Gate of the Unpacified Pacific.]
Then we visit the city park of twelve hundred acres, once nothing but
flying sand. At first they planted on these dunes, grass roots from
South America; these fastened themselves to the sand and formed a
little soil; then were planted shrubs to stop the sand storms, then
trees, and now the real estate is not all in the air.
This little nickel will take you to a mountaintop overlooking city and
ocean, where you can sit under the Eucalyptus trees which shed
their bark instead of their leaves, and enjoy the music and the not
overmodest dramas, without extra charge.
The saloons, stores and theatres are open seven days and nights in
the week, and multitudes of all nationalities, clad in their peculiar
costumes, hobnob with each other in the most free and easy manner
imaginable, without waiting for introductions, in this the most
cosmopolitan city on earth.
Sometimes you will see the harbor literally covered with the most
delicious fruits and vegetables, dumped into the water, because the
transportation charges to market would more than eat up the proceeds
of their sale. I visited at San Jose, the large flourishing fruit
orchard of a college classmate who had spent years of hard labor and
the earnings of a lifetime, to bring his trees into bearing; but I
found he had deserted his ranch because he could not make a living
thereon, and had gone to preach for a little church far away, at five
hundred dollars per annum.
I saw at Riverside large crops of oranges frozen upon the trees;
but the real estate sharks never allow these facts to be published,
because they fatten on the profits made by selling lands to the
gullible "tender feet" from the east, who, when they have bought these
farms at enormous prices, find to their utter discouragement, that
they must also buy water for irrigation from monopolists, at ruinous
rates, else the soil is worthless. Here as nowhere else is illustrated
the truth of the Scriptural adage: "To him that hath shall be given,
but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he
When you go to a place scarcely thirty miles distant, which, in New
England, you would reach in an hour, you are obliged to travel all
night, as you must climb cloud-touching mountains, going many miles to
cover what would be only one mile in a straight line; now you glide
along close to the long, lazy waves of the great Pacific Ocean, where
the grass kisses the salt lips of the sea; now from the tops of the
Santa Cruz mountains, you survey the world at your feet; now you rush
through the red-wood primeval forests, giants touching the clouds with
their tops, while in the hollow trunk of one of these trees a family
of twelve can live quite comfortably; then on to Los Angeles,--"City
of the angels," they call it--a beautiful city for those possessed of
means or who are dispossessed of bodies which must be clothed and fed.
[Illustration: The Dome of Mount Shasta Gleams like "the Great White
Some have "struck oil" here, and the stench and grime from the
spouting wells have ruined the houses of hundreds who have reaped no
profit from the petroleum, because they did not own the adjoining lots
where it was found; then on we go to lovely Passadena on a table-land
surrounded by snow-capped mountains; but the winds from the cold
summits come suddenly when you are melting with the heat, bringing
plenty of catarrh for all; then on to San Diego on the hill by the
sea, where the fog is sometimes so thick you can cut it into blocks
with an axe; then on to the far-famed Coronado Hotel, close by the
In the boom-time, this was claimed to be the veritable "Garden of
Eden," and soil was considered worth its weight in gold, but now my
guide offered me six house lots which cost him three thousand dollars,
for two hundred dollars; the bubble had burst, a few had become rich,
while hundreds of speculators had lost their all.
I swam in the spacious warmed-water sea-baths, communed with the wild
ducks, cormorants and pelicans, looked with amazement at the giant
ostriches, and sympathized with their seeming wonderment as to why we
were all sent into this sad, bewildering maze of life.
At National City the refluent wave of the boom had left many of the
houses and business blocks dilapidated and unoccupied save by bats,
spiders and flies. You could occupy free of rent many buildings with
none to molest or make you afraid.
Thence on dashes the train to the celebrated Hotel Delmonte, at
Monterey, the show place of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which, by
its extortionate transportation charges, has ruined many struggling
fruit raisers in this state where monopoly holds such mighty sway.
There are many hotels in Florida which far surpass this as far as
the buildings are concerned; but the grounds are extensive and very
beautiful, and the wide piazzas are embowered in a profusion of
all kinds of climbing vines covered with the loveliest blossoms.
Stretching away until earth and sky meet, is an imperial domain,
covered with noble trees which were giants when Adam was a baby, many
festooned with English ivy and flowering trumpet creepers almost to
the stars. Then we walked under long Gothic arches, cool and fragrant.
Here is every arrangement conceivable for entertainment; on one side
the Pacific ocean; on the other the Coast Range Mountains, a very
pleasant resort for the very rich; but we found there at this time
more servants than guests.
The town of Monterey is interesting only for its ruins of ancient
monasteries and convents, where a few lazy half-breeds alone remain
to tell the tale of multitudes over whom the Catholic priests reigned
supreme, reducing their dupes to beggary by their extortions. Once
these mountains were covered with vast flocks of sheep, but the
foolish reduction of the tariff on wool by the Wilson bill, destroyed
all profits, and the flocks disappeared into the hungry mouths of the
Thence the iron horse took us back to 'Frisco, and we sailed all day
and all night to Sacramento. The scenery was grand, but the cold
weather chilled us to the very bones. Islands of old red sandstone
loom like sentinels along the coast, covered with lighthouses to warn
the mariners. The twin peaks of Montepueblo covered with perpetual
snow, seemed to support the heavens as do the pillars the dome of the
Swarms of screaming sea gulls fill the air, some of which, benumbed by
cold alighted on the steamer's deck. Lonely ranches are seen, hemmed
in by the everlasting hills.
Our great, lazy boat, propelled by a stern wheel as big as a barn,
paddled slowly over the muddy waters of the great Sacramento River,
made yellow by the turbid waters sent to it from scores of hydraulic
mines on the mountains. On one island is an immense smelting furnace,
the tall chimneys of which send forth volumes of poisonous smoke,
dangerous to breathe, and covering everything with a coating black as
soot. Inhaling this, some of the operators die of lead poisoning. Many
islands are here scarcely above the water's edge, having little houses
built on stilts occupied by the salmon fishers who are seen pulling
their nets, and around whose heads whirl and scream flocks of fish
hawks, ravenous for their prey.
After a successful book fight at the capital city, I went to Red Bluff
where I was broiled and roasted in a day and night temperature of a
hundred and twelve degrees in the shade. I survived only by keeping
my head wrapped in ice water; I could neither eat nor sleep, and like
Dickens, I longed to "take off my flesh, and sit in my bones." It was
a veritable hell on earth.
The county superintendent of schools here, told me he sold his prune
crop that year for five thousand dollars, and went away leaving the
purchaser to pick the fruit. On his return, he found that the red
spiders had anticipated the pickers, and destroyed the entire crop, so
that his work of years came to naught, as the buyers of course refused
to pay to feed the spiders.
Thence I went to San Luis Obispo, and on the way we struck the Coast
Range Mountains. The tortuous upclimbing and downsliding of the train
disclosed scenery imposing and grand. You looked down the precipitous
rock-ribbed sides thousands of feet to the narrow, beautiful valleys,
made productive by the irrigation from many foaming waterfalls. We
circle the mountains many times before reaching the valleys, traveling
many hours to gain a straight-line mile.
These valleys are lovely to look down upon; but the fogs much of the
time hang over them like a pall, and catarrh and rheumatism render
life one of misery to many of the people.
[Illustration: Above the Clouds.]
AMONG THE CLOUDS.
In the following May, 1896, I took a sky-scraping journey to the great
states of Washington and Oregon. The climbing of Mt. Shasta and the
Siskyo range by train presented sublime views that no language can
even feebly describe. At the summits we were at least two miles in
the air higher than the dome of the Massachusetts State House. As
we climbed, I could see from the window of the palace car, the two
engines of our train puffing for all they were worth around the
curves, far ahead.
We looked down from the narrow rim of the railroad, thousands of feet
perpendicular upon foaming rivers dashing themselves into rainbows
and cataracts against the everlasting boulders in their courses.
Here cascades, miles in length, came rushing down the mountainsides,
shooting hundreds of feet into the air as they struck the giant rocks,
and at one place we stopped for half an hour to drink from the soda
springs pure, delicious soda water, huge geysers of it effervescing,
scintillating, silvery in the sunbeams, caught in a rocky basin from
which it is sent all over the world.
Above, the mighty Sacramento River has its source in a little spring,
almost touching the stars--so emblematical of our human life, which
begins in the infinite on high; is enveloped in a dust of earth;
expands in its evolution into the angel back into the eternity from
whence it came; for science reveals that the springs come from the
clouds as dew and rain, run their courses, and by evaporation are
taken back into their first home in the vapors of the heavens.
There are enormous log-shoots seeming like Jacob's ladder to reach
from earth to heaven, and in which, the giants of the vast mountain
forests are carried by water with almost lightning speed to the mills
on the river; there the splendid snow-covered dome of Shasta gleams
above the clouds like the great white throne described by St. John in
Now come glimpses of little green valleys; here and there, a few small
houses and flocks of sheep show that these cases are peopled "far from
the maddening crowd's ignoble strife."
These vast solitudes of forests are very impressive and solemn as
the day of judgment; giant fir-trees, pines and spruces, beautifully
clothed in perpetual green even to the lower dead limbs which nature
has covered with a verdure of moss--like our dead hopes, blasted
by the fires of adversity but made radiant by the fore-gleams of
immortality. There the bright mistletoe is suspended from dead
tree-tops, like beauteous crowns adorning the heads of those who have
died rather than surrender to the low and base; there deep canyons,
brilliant with the diamonds made by the sun from the scintillating
drops from dashing torrents--so from the unseen heights come the dews
of heaven to refresh those who walk by faith and not by sight "looking
not at the things seen which are temporal, but at the things not seen
which are eternal."
Here comes a dense white cloud of snow through the air, covering our
train with a pearly shroud, through the rifts of which, far below, we
have glimpses of lovely vales and white ranch-houses, smiling up at
us, above the clouds.
Dearly beloved--all seems to say it becometh us, not to sorrow for the
dead hopes, broken promises, and bitter disappointments of this mortal
life, remembering that this is not our home, that we tarry here for
a few fleeting days, that our true home is with the good beyond the
infinite azure of the heavens, where dear ones are Waiting to welcome
us to the endless rest and peace awaiting all who fight the good
fight, and who keep themselves unspotted from the world.
At times, while the train was dashing along over the seemingly
interminable plains, green and productive during the rainy season, but
now parched and arid by the terrible heat, we were almost suffocated
by the dense dust clouds, and well-nigh withered by the winds which
seem to come from the very jaws of Dante's Inferno; then the shifting
young cyclone would suddenly envelop us with chilling snows from
Shasta, and so we oscillated like pendulums 'twixt torrid heats and
At last, almost dazed by the unspeakable, lightning-like, climatic
transformations, the great iron steeds brought us to Portland, the
metropolis of the great state of Oregon. Here, as in many places on
the Pacific coast, people should be web-footed during the rainy season
to escape the drowning, and iron clad during the dry season to escape
the merciless peltings of the clouds of shot-like dust. The dampness
in this valley, hemmed in by the now dripping, then brook covered
mountains, is far from pleasant, and covers many of the buildings
with unsightly mosses. In Washington and Oregon those who survive the
climatic trials are a strong, energetic race, rapidly building up
powerful empires in the great aggregation of states of our grandest
nation the world has ever known.
The broad-minded, generous-hearted people of this great far west, make
no distinctions as to sex in apportioning their salaries for
school work, and this, coupled with their numerous co-educational
universities and normal schools, has given them an army of lady
teachers and superintendents unequaled elsewhere in the world.
The county superintendents of schools are elected by the popular vote,
and the women take to the stump-speaking and the usual kissing of
voters' babies as naturally as ducks take to the water. Result,--the
ladies secure the political plums, and the men are rapidly being
driven to manual labor, their natural sphere of action, though
not without vigorous kicking against the inevitable. These
ex-men-superintendents buttonhole you at every turn, reciting the
outrages perpetrated upon them by their successful women competitors.
At an election in a California town, one of these men sufferers,
mistaking me for a voter, took me by a button of my coat, and poured
forth a tale of woe so long that, unable to endure it longer, I cut
off the button and fled. He did not notice my departure, and two hours
later, there he was holding on to the button, all alone, gesticulating
frantically, and beseeching me to vote for him to save his wife and
ten children from starvation. For aught I know, he has not missed me
to this day; but is still sounding forth his wild appeals.
Should I describe fully all the wonderful scenes beheld by me in this
wonderland, I should exhaust time and trench upon eternity. Suffice it
to state that I returned to 'Frisco, fought a successful dictionary
battle there, formed the acquaintance of many distinguished men, among
them the great Irving Scott, who built the famous battleship Oregon.
He was president of the city school-board, head of the vast Union Iron
Works, and besides performing many herculean labors, was stumping the
state nightly in favor of the election of William McKinley to the
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