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Summer Suns in the Far West
Chapter II. Baltimore to Chicago

OUR next visit was to Baltimore. It is a fine city, with more of the air of Old England about it than most cities in the States. It derives its name from an English nobleman, and traditions of the olden time seem to hover over it, as if loath to depart. We had a particularly warm reception from the friends who entertained us in Baltimore. They represented a family of some mark that had been long settled in the city. We had made their acquaintance in Switzerland some years before. We could not but recall the family of Philip the evangelist, but instead of four daughters who were virgins our host had seven, and instead of prophesying they were all busily engaged in Christian labours of love.

The city has a wonderfully tine park—Druid Hill. It was in great beauty, greatly improved since our first visit. I believe it was formerly the property of some scrubby old man that would let nobody into it; now it belongs to the citizens, and they do enjoy it, from the least even to the greatest. A well-frequented park has a great social effect, drawing a community together, and forming a bond between rich and poor. And the gold of the evening sun, stealing through leafy thickets, and transfiguring all with heavenly glory, has a thrilling effect, one would hope a good effect, sluggish though human beings are to respond to the silent influences of nature.

The sensation of Baltimore was over the approaching opening of the Johns-Hopkins Hospital. It must be explained that Mr. Johns-Hopkins was a very rich merchant, far from open-handed in his lifetime, who, when he could keep his seven millions of dollars no longer, left them to found two institutions—a university and a hospital. Through the kindness of President Gillman we were shown over the university buildings; and another officer showed us the hospital, which was opened publicly the day after we left. Both are on a very high scale, especially the hospital. Every contrivance for the benefit of the sick and for the efficient carrying on of the work of the hospital that modern skill has discovered is brought into full play in the arrangements. I believe the architect was sent over the world to inspect all the chief hospitals in existence, and get from them every arrangement that experience had devised for their efficient management. The university has been chiefly distinguished for physical research. Its many publications have already procured for it a distinguished place, and it seems likely that it will accomplish much more. I found considerable anxiety prevailing in Christian families on account of the appointment of some professors whose views inclined to scepticism. Christian parents did not like to place their sons under the shadow of unbelievers, whatever might be the branch of study, and some young men had gone to Princeton who would naturally have studied at the Johns-Hopkins. It is believed, however, that the trustees will be more careful in future appointments. The college is undenominational, and, like other American colleges, is governed by a body of trustees, the first having been named by the testator. The hospital is a fine and imposing building; but the university is scattered over a considerable number of separate erections, and none of them is sufficiently imposing to correspond to the importance of the institution.

Some of the marble houses of Baltimore are very beautiful. But there is a green-stone in the neighbourhood with which architects are but too prone to play fantastic tricks. A church which presents sundry stripes of this green-stone has gained from an irreverent public the name of “The Church of the Holy Zebra.’’ It brought to mind a church in another city, with a tall and very narrow spire, which has suggested the name of “The Church of the Sacred Toothpick.” We cannot linger over the institutions of Baltimore, but the Peabody Institute, with its large library and art collection, deserves special notice—a link of connection between the old country and the new, and a token of that cordial feeling which made Mr. Peabody the benefactor of both.

Our friends at Baltimore had arranged for us a day’s pleasant excursion to Washington. We were greatly struck with the improvement of the capital during the last nineteen years. Thackeray’s designation “the city of magnificent distances” is applicable no longer. Its vacant stances are now occupied by handsome public buildings and private residences. The trees lining the residential streets, that were mere saplings in our recollection; are now of tolerable size. The carriage-ways, that used to be so rugged, are paved with asphalt. For once in an American city you see not a few symbols of royalty, but it is over the doors of the foreign embassies. Great Britain of course mounts the lion and the unicorn over her embassy—a respectable residence with very little style. The most remarkable change in Washington is the completion of the National .Monument, It is a plain obelisk, towering to the height of above five hundred feet, traversed in the interior by an elevator, which, if you can secure a place in it, will carry you to the top in less than ton minutes. There you will find a magnificent view of the meandering Potomac at your feet, and of the other objects of interest about Washington, round and round. If you descend by the stair, you will find an opportunity of reading the names of the states, cities, companies, Sabbath schools, societies, and individuals that contributed to the building of the monument. I could not but think of the great Christian temple of the apostle, that glorious edifice to the erection of which all tribes and peoples and tongues are to contribute their share.

We had hoped to have a private interview with the President, but by some unexpected contretemps we did not succeed. So we went with all the world to the White House at one o’clock, merely to shake hands. As soon as the clock struck, the worthy gentleman came into the room by a door in the farther end, as quietly as possible, and stood rather helplessly near it, as the citizens crowded past. He looked substantial, but by no means brilliant. There was no little business power evinced in his face, such as you might expect in a successful Indianapolis lawyer, who had the reputation of having seldom or never lost a case. He is an elder of the Presbyterian Church, and at Indianapolis was actively interested in church work. His father-in-law, the Rev. Dr. Scott, a very aged man, resides with the family. Mr. Harrison has laid down a rule for himself that he will do no business on Sunday. lie claims it as the day of rest, and maintains that the President needs rest as much as the poorest mechanic. Another step in the direction of Sabbath rest has been taken by Mr. Wanamaker, the postmaster-general. The doors of the Washington office are closed every Sunday. I am happy to say that there seems to be a general movement in the country at present in favour of a better observance of the Lord’s day. In any of the railway companies are reducing the number of freight trains and excursion trains. The want of a Sabbath in many parts of the country is recognized by them as hurtful to the physical welfare of the people, as it is by others to their moral and spiritual good.

The civil service of the United States has got into such a bad groove that it must be extremely difficult for any President to move it into a better. Innumerable situations throughout the whole country are thrown vacant at every presidential election, and it has been too much the practice of the new President to reward his friends by the gift of these. As far as I could learn, the new President is honestly trying to continue efficient men of whatever party in office, and remove those only whose qualifications are deficient, or who wv.-re placed in office for mere political ends. But the matter is often complicated, and probably he will not fully please either party.

Dr. Hamlin, minister of a very handsome Presbyterian church, called the Church of the Covenant, had asked me to take part in his service next day, but previous engagements prevented. The President holds a pew there, Mr. Secretary Blaine another, Secretary of Treasury Windom a third, and Postmaster WaiMmaker a fourth. It might almost be called the Church of the Cabinet. It is a recent erection, and cost upwards of 200,000 dollars. One day the spire subsided; it did not even fall over 011 the road, but simply sat down, having been badly built. A good many thousand dollars were needed to build it up. It is one proof of the greater wealth of America that sums arc often expended on church building that would simply overwhelm us in Scotland. It must be remembered that a complete church establishment embraces not only the church proper, but, a chapel for lesser gatherings, Sabbathschool buildings to any amount, parlours for committee and other meetings, a pastors study and a pastor’s house, all fitted up with handsome carpets and other furniture, the cost of the whole probably double that of a church alone. Christian liberality is a marvel to the world, even though it has far from reached the limit of its capacity.

From Baltimore our destination was Cincinnati, distant six hundred miles. We had to find our way through the Alleghany Mountains, and far from an easy way it was for the railway. But the route from Harrisburg to Pittsburg, which occupies the greater part of the day, is extremely beautiful. Along sweet river-sides and through wooded mountains, by banks and braes that are well deserving of a poet’s song, you are whirled along in a constant succession of beauty. At the famous “horse-shoe” the line has to double upon itself—an operation of which we afterwards came on some much more extensive specimens. Among the towns we passed was ill-fated Johnstown, reposing softly in the mellow sunshine, with its busy population of 30,000. had we only known what was to happen, we should not have been satisfied with the cursory, careless look that hardly impressed its features on our memory. It was but a week or two after that a dam burst a few miles higher up the valley, creating a tragedy of destruction hardly paralleled in history, the loss of life being variously stated between fifteen thousand and three thousand. At the time of the accident we were near Los Angeles, and from one of its ministers, the Rev. J. L. Russell, who had quite recently been transferred from Altona, in the immediate neighbourhood of Johnstown, and who was intimately acquainted with many of the sufferers, we learned some sad particulars that had not appeared in the newspapers. Among these was the case of a young lady who had been borne away on a piece of wreck, and remained in the water sixteen hours, terribly bulleted. Her clothes were torn oil her, and she was utterly exhausted when she was found by her brother. He had to clothe her with some of his own garments, and carry her on his back six miles before he could get anything done for her. Some people were reported dead, or at least mad, who were really safe. Among these was a Mr. Fulton, a gentleman in good business, and president of the Amendment Committee—that is, the committee that was then trying to get prohibition carried in Pennsylvania. A friend meeting him congratulated him on being alive, and alluded to the rumour that he was dead. “Did you not know,” said he, “that. I could not die before the 18th of June 1.” That was to be the great voting day. The newspapers were full of tales, all tales of tragedy, but many of heroism and noble effort. Conspicuous among these was the ease of an unknown horseman, who, when he saw the water beginning to rush out at the bottom of the embankment, galloped down the valley, exhorting all to escape to the mountains, but was himself swept away and swallowed up in the roaring Hood.

We reached Cincinnati after a night in the sleeping cars. Under the kind charge of Dr. Morris of Lane Theological Seminary, we had a most agreeable visit here—“a good time,” though hurried—were introduced to many of the citizens, and feasted by a brother Scot who rejoices in the title of the “oil-king.” Cincinnati is a prosperous and remarkable city, was once the rival of Chicago, but has been outstripped in the race by its old competitor. I cannot but note a little fact that gave me no ordinary satisfaction. A poor boy, who had been a scholar in the Sunday school at Pilrig when I was minister there, had found his way to Cincinnati, and having procured for himself a training as a lawyer, was now one of the foremost lawyers, and one of the most exemplary and liberal Christians, of the city. Well do I remember the dingy house in which his family lived, in that same dingy street, then called Moray Street (Spey Street now), where Thomas Carlyle spent some years of his Edinburgh life; and well do i remember the feelings with which I used to call on that boy's mother, and another worthy mother in the same stair, both struggling hard to bring up large families aright, amid great difficulty and much sorrow. They did need comfort, for they were fighting a hard but noble battle; and both of them had great cause to thank God for his blessing, which in the evening of their life came in more forms than one. Bread cast on the water is found after many days. Apart from the personal aspect of the case, I looked on it as a remarkable illustration of the openness of the path to success and distinction in the United States. The poorest boy (James Garfield, for instance) may find his way to the very top of the ladder. Cincinnati brought me another joy. An esteemed minister told me he knew of two, if not three, young men who had been led to devote themselves to foreign missions through reading the “Personal Life of Livingstone."

From Cincinnati a day’s travelling brought us to Chicago. Chicago is everywhere a household word, the symbol of marvellous progress and extraordinary enterprise. But every one knows about Chicago. Two pleasant visits were paid to the Presbyterian and Congregational theological seminaries, in the latter of which I found an old student of New College, Edinburgh—Professor Scott—enjoying a high reputation both as a professor and a preacher. The Presbyterian seminary owes not a little to the late Mr. M‘Cormick, after whom it is named, well known among our farmers in connection with the M'Cormick reaping-machine; and it is a pleasure to add that his son is following in his steps. Part of our little time at Chicago was spent under the roof of the widow of one of the earliest traders in the place—the late Mr. Hubbard, who settled at Fort Dearborn when there were but two houses in the neighbourhood. lie became a very prosperous citizen, and owned a fine house and garden in the city. When the great fire broke out on the other side of the river, there was no idea that it would cross over to his neighbourhood. After it had burned for many hours, his wife at night was looking sadly out at the blazing city, and seeing an unusual brightness, begged Mr. Hubbard (who was in bed) to come and look at it. Seeing the direction the fire was taking, he became alarmed, roused his household, filled his carriages with books, pictures, and whatever else of value was portable, and sent the whole to the houses of friends at a distance. Ere long the house was burned to the ground. Some of his furniture was stolen, but was afterwards discovered in a house in the suburbs, and recovered by its rightful owner. Mr. Hubbard never rebuilt his house, and the site on which it stood, with a cavity in the centre, stands to this day, a touching memorial of one of the greatest calamities that have happened in modern times. How many stories of the like kind might Chicago tell!

The chief interest of my visit to Chicago was in connection with Mr. Moody. He was just at the end of a month’s labour in his own church, which is situated in the north end of the town, in the immediate neighbourhood of Mrs. Hubbard’s house, not far from the site of Dearborn Fort, The spot where he commenced his home mission work when an employee in. a shoe-store is not far oil! It was a great pleasure to meet again the prince of evangelists, and find him directing all his energies to make his work more aggressive, and to train agents to go to the haunts of sinners and urge the careless to come in. It seemed to me that unconsciously, perhaps, he was taking a lesson from Dr. Chalmers, He was very particular in urging that, when the careless did come in, they should get a ♦(Mast suited to their wants, and not be chilled by that cold formality which seemed to him the bane of all the churches. I was twice in his church, on a week-day and on the Sabbath. Doth times he constrained me to give a word. I heard him give a lecture on the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians, and afterwards at Northfield I heard him preach on subjects equally practical.

I asked him whether he was not preaching more than he used to do on the application of Christianity to daily life. “Yes, I am,” he replied. The readiness of human nature to abuse free grace had impressed itself on him, and the need of “line upon line, precept upon precept,” had become a burning conviction. But Moody knew well what many do not know—how to connect the inculcation of a thorough obedience in every-day life with living faith in Christ, and not doom poor weak human nature to struggles and burdens for which its strength is quite unequal.

I was more than ever impressed with the fact that Moody is a man sui generis. There will never be a school of Moodys. His methods will not be carried out in full by other men. But besides the success of his evangelistic work, he will always be remarkable for the impulse which he imparts to Christian workers towards plainness of speech, earnestness, and consecration. There will likewise be a constant increase of reverence for the Bible under his instructions and example. Moody is a man of one book, and it is a singular testimony to the everlasting freshness and fulness of the Bible that everything which he ever has taught, or ever will teach, is derived from it alone. I rather think that now that he is entering on the work of permanent organization he will find that what to him has been a strong point hitherto is really a weak point—I mean his being unconnected officially with any branch of the Church, and his acting solely on his own responsibility.

We had no time to see much more of Chicago on this occasion than a saunter through the streets and a drive through its fine Lincoln Park and other suburbs allowed.

One institution, however, did command our special attention —the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. If is always known as the W.C.T.U., letters of which the saloon-keepers have their own interpretation—“Women constantly torment us.” Its office is in one of the largest blocks in one of the chief commercial streets. The building—it all belongs to the W.C.T.U.—cost 800,000 dollars, but a great part of it is let out for offices and. warerooms, the rent going to pay interest on mortgages. But the temperance women have very large accommodation for themselves. They have business offices, and editorial sanctums, and an entire printing and publishing establishment. The lady secretaries and the lady editor seem quite at home in their places of business and in the whole round of their work. The weekly temperance journal, the Union Signal, with a circulation of above fifty thousand copies, is edited and published by them. The president of the Union is Miss Willard, usually regarded as the most eloquent woman in America. Miss Willard is one of those who have strongly urged the formation of “a third party,”— that is, a party whose one object shall be to secure prohibition, and which will support any prohibitionist candidate, be he republican or democratic. This action, however, does not meet with the approval of all the temperance party (and I agree with them), both because they dislike mixing up their cause with party politics, and because they do not consider the policy in itself to be the best for the temperance cause. But the women’s establishment looks like business, and shrewd vigorous women they seemed who were at work within its walls.

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