« AnteriorContinuar »
have a press. In more prosperous days there were three dailies published there; but times were bad, and the dailies had collapsed into weeklies. These were the Advocate, the Press, the Democrat; and a German paper, the Volksblatt. As a sample of a Western country newspaper, let me take a copy I picked up of the Racine Advocate. It is of the regular unwieldy English four page size, and costs six shillings annually, or five halfpence a single number, and is headed with a poetical declaration of faith, that
“Pledged but to truth, to liberty and law,
No favours win us, and no fears shall awe.”.
The advertisements, which occupy two of the four pages, are chiefly of patent medicines, business-cards, and foreclosure sales. The local news, as in all American country papers, is extremely meagre, and there are no law reports or accounts of county meetings. The politics of the papers are staunch Republican and anti-slavery, and the leading articles are well written, and all on questions of public not local politics, such as the Confiscation Bill, General Hunter's Proclamation, and Federal Taxation. There was a short article. headed “L.L.D. Russell,” which bore traces of Irish origin. “It was with no little satisfaction," so the Advocate stated," that the loyal people of the North “ saw the announcement that Our Own Correspon& dent' had engaged passage back to England. We “ pity the readers of the Times who have got to unlearn “all that they have been taught to believe of us for a “ year past. We'll venture a prediction, that in less than “ six months the Times will discharge the L.L.D., and “make him the scapegoat of its malice and traitor“ bought attacks on the Federal Government.” With the exception of this outburst on the subject of Mr. Russell, the language of the Advocate was sensible and moderate enough. There were letters from the war, copied out of New York papers, and lists of the killed and wounded in the Wisconsin regiments; but fully one page of the paper was occupied by short tales and poems. When I say that their headings were, “ How the Bachelor was Won,” “A Girl's Wardrobe,” “Gone Before,” and “ Katie Lee,” the reader will have no difficulty in realizing to himself what the description of intellectual varieties afforded by the Advocate consisted of. If he cannot do so by the light of his own experience, let him read any number of the Family Herald, and he will do so at once without crossing the Atlantic. Before I leave the subject of journalism at Racine, let me mention one incident I learnt about it, which is characteristic of the old as well as of the new country. The Racine Advocate built a handsome block of buildings, which quite eclipsed the office of the Press. Unfortunately, the proprietor of the Press discovered that the windows
of the Advocate's new printing-room could be shut out from the light if a taller store was erected alongside ; and so he built an office next door to the Advocate, in order to block up its windows! Country editors, it seems, remain the same race of men in the New World as in the Old.
Society in Racine is still in a primitive stage. Dinnerparties are unknown, and balls are events of great rarity; but tea-parties, to which you are invited on the morning of the day, are of constant occurrence. Probably there is as much scandal and gossip here as in an Old World country-town; but there are not, as yet, the social divisions which exist with us. If you inquire the names of the owners of the handsomest houses in Racine, you will find that one, perhaps, began life as a stable-boy, another was a waiter a few years ago in an hotel of the town, and a third was a bricklayer in early life. On the other hand, some of the poorest people in the place are persons who were of good family and good education in the Old World. A short time ago, the two least reputable members of the community were an ex-member of a fashionable London club and a quondam English nobleman. This very mixture of all classes which you find throughout the West gives a freedom, and also an originality, to the society in small towns, which you would not find under similar circumstances in England. If I were asked whether I would like to live in Racine, my answer would be an emphatic negative; but if the choice were put to me, whether I would sooner live there, or in an out-of-the-way English county-town, I am afraid that nothing but patriotism would induce me to decline Racine.
THE PRAIRIE AND THE MISSISSIPPI.
In company with the friend at whose house I was stopping in Racine, I went out into the prairie to visit the town of Lanark, situated on the extreme north-western frontier of Illinois. It is no good referring to any map of the United States to ascertain the locality of this city. It had not then completed the first year of its existence, and was inscribed on no chart or map as yet designed. Probably, beyond the circle of twenty miles round Lanark, there were not a score of people who knew that there was such a place in the world, still less that it was a rising locality. In the far West, cities start into existence like Aladdin's Palace. You read of this mushroom growth in books of travel, but it is hard to realize it without seeing it on the spot. You pass through the vast city of Chicago, along its splendid streets and quays and avenues, and are told that thirty years ago no buildings stood there except an old mud fort, raised to keep off the Indians, and that the first child ever born in the city was only married the other day. You are told so, but you hardly believe it,