12 JULY 1873, Page 21


THE Author of Guy Livinygtone has come out in.s new character ; instead of a novel, he favours us with a book of travel ; at least, we presume that is the term he would wish to be applied to Silver/and. The volume, composed of some 240 and odd pages of large print and ample margins, broken into 15 chapters, records a journey which cannot in thee days be considered remarkable, namely, from New York across the Rocky Mountains to Utah, and up into the mining country, thence to California and Nevada, and back to "the Empire City." It required the genius of "the Author of Guy Livingstone" to make so much, and at the same time so little of this achievement, which took place, we must observe, in mid- winter. A palace car well provisioned, together with " wealth of all manner of drinks, simple and compounded," with well trained "sable servitors" always at hand, does not suggest either much privation or scope for narratives of adventure. But the writer, faith- ful to his antecedents, is not at a loss for heroics. In the first place, he provides himself with a companion yclept for the nonce Tressilian, the perfect counterpart of those muscular, all-conquering modern Paladins we know so well, of whom the author says that, "Since the worthies who went out with Pendragon to war, I think there has not breathed stauncher backer, in field, feast, or fray, than he who stood looking on me then, with wistful eyes," waiting to know whether his friend would or would not start with him to cross the Atlantic. The introductory chapter of Silverland describes in a grandiloquent manner, and with those turns of ex- pression so familiar to us, first a ground-swell off the Cornish coast, and then the voyage to America, with a little interlude in Cork harbour, where, during a few hours of enforced delay, the travellers contemplate "the dull, squalid landing-place," to which eight years had brought no changes. "Every eye forms its own beauty," is a trite and homely proverb, and it is well that the Author of Guy Livingstone is able to contemplate Yankeeland more indulgently than he does poor Ireland, although probably the beggar and his nialisons, the harridan with her sickly shatnrocks, and the colleen with elf-locks and blue eyes àfleur de tete, cackling treasonable ditties in a subdued treble, are only fancy sketches, introduced to give piquancy to the recital,—and on the whole, we prefer them, hackneyed as they are, to another cheap form of witticism in which this writer indulges, and which we consider as wanting in taste as it is pointless an d irreverent,—namely, the using phrases taken from a book which in another place he characterises as "true to a letter," in order to add smartness to his rather affected diction. It may be clever to say that a railway is " shapen in wickedness," but we fail to see it ; nor do we appreciate the allusion to "rebuke and blasphemy" when the train is snowed up ; and if it be witty to speak of people who "move, live, and have their being," and of hotel-keepers waxing "fat as Jeshurun," which we deny, the anecdote about the weather at p. 20 contains an allusion which borders very closely upon profanity. After remaining some little time at New York, enjoying dinners at Delmonias, the cost of which amounts to about eight pounds sterling per head, paying visits to ladies whose economy consists in getting over their morning dresses from Worth's, and making the discovery that a dollar about represents an English shilling, our travellers form a party, consisting of eleven in all, one of whom, from his distinguished talent as purveyor, is dubbed the "Commodore," and " embarked " on the Union Pacific Rail- way, in the "Arlington" palace car, having no more need to con- cern themselves with the matter of food and transport than "if they had been a couple of errant sparrows!" A glimpse of Chicago shows it to them in process of speedy restoration, although still looking like a ruinous heap ; and we are told that for one day people sat down sullenly face to face with ruin, but bestirred themselves to build their new homes while the old ones were still blazing. Of the rather monotonous and gradual ascent of the Rocky Mountains, where "you mount nine thousand feet above the sea level without encountering as much broken ground as lies round Aldershot," there is naturally but little to say. At Laramie, however, an incident occurs,—six trains lie already in port, and all set off together—a huge caravan—until forty miles further on their progress is effectually barred for seven days, until picks, spades, and steam plough are able to open a passage through the snow. So weary do the travellers become of their forced inaction and the sameness of white wastes, even with

Silverland. By the Author of" Guy Livingstone," ire. London: Chapman & Hall. " poker " and good living to console them, that the writer patheti- cally declares at a later portion of his wanderings that, "If in search of rest or recreation, rather than to Chamounix or Zermatt, I would betake myself to the Essex Marshes, yea, or to Mewstone- by-the-Sea." To this state of mind we must charitably refer his extended reference to a wearisome, drunken Virginian, of the same type as his brother drunkards all over the world, and in no way de- serving of being made to figure even in the most twaddling pages. Atlast the party reaches Salt Lake City, but warned by the experi- ence of other travellers, they do not betake themselves to any of its hotels, but continue to find bed and board in the "Arling- ton." Naturally, there is nothing new to be said about Utah—we already know it too well—and we might with advantage have been spared the reflections, not wanting in coarseness, upon the dis- tinguishing point of Mormon faith and practice, and the jokes about 'the fraction of a spouse" which the unprepossessing female saints are not merely willing, but glad to appropriate. Of the mining prospectsof the neighbourhood the writer seems to entertain a favourable opinion, although much of his knowledge is gained at second-hand, for the ran fled atmosphere of Alta City, which was at the time buried in snow which reached half- way up the chimney-stacks, small shafts being pierced to admit light and air, brought on violent inflammation of the lungs, and compelled him to seek a lower temperature, while Tressilian pur- sued his researches. Arriving in due course at San Francisco, the author dilates much upon the kindliness of his reception, especially at the Bank of California, but we have yet to learn what institu- tion of the kind fails to open its arms to the stranger who is able to present such "credentials "as the Author of Guy Livingstone leaves us to infer that he was provided with. At all events, he seems much to have enjoyed "the large, lusty, liberal life" into which he was introduced, and remembers with tenderness a certain salini de grenouilks a l'Espagnole for which the chef of the " California" is renowned ; and need we say that the teams of fast trotters that go up to "3.20," and the beautiful cattle, to produce which neither money nor pains are spared, also make a lasting impres- sion upon this discriminating lover of horseflesh ? Of course he visits the Chinamen in their own quarter, and describes the visit, including part of a theatrical exhibition. The Author of Guy Livingstone does not flatter "John ;" he is too puny for such a lover of athletes, who is bound, however, to acknowledge that a gang of these poor creatures, "burrowing in mole-like fashion," will do more work in a given time than an equal number of Americans or Irishmen. After giving, apparently inalgri Li, a pathetic account of the poor aliens, "toiling all their lives in a country so strange that none will leave his bones therein if at any cost, or by stealth, they can be carried back to the Flowery Land," he concludes that they are an emasculate race, apt at washing, cooking, and other household drudgery that usually falls to women's lot, and winds up by this compliment to the fair sex, which we hope will be appreciated at its worth :—" I should be loth to make a friend of a Chinaman,—still more loth to lie at his mercy as an enemy ; but then the same remark might apply to divers classes of females, all the world over."

Not sparing us the old joke, " We've never had our earthquake," yet favouring us with one which is characterised as a "pretty mean" specimen, our traveller leaves banquets and "poker," and betaking himself once more to the "Arlington," makes his way to Nevada. At this stage of his proceedings, he waxes erudite and instructive. At a first glance, his descriptions of mining and farm- ing operations, his statistics, &c., sound to us strangely familiar ; the culture of the vine, the olive, and the silkworm are detailed in wonderfully well-remembered tones,—surely, we say, that Chiiian and Australian wheat has all been spoken of very lately, those Mission Fathers who introduced the sweet grapes and olive trees are old friends ; and the mystery is cleared up when we find the writer innocently remarking that he has been much assisted in in working out his personal recollections by a very sensible little volume, Six Months in California, by J. G. Player Frowd. The assistance thence derived has apparently been consider- able, if we may judge by the similarity of some of the descriptions, and another work from which copious extracts are given in the appendix, Nordhoff's California, has also been exten- sively used. It is clear that notwithstanding various drawbacks, and a difficulty of obtaining good title, and the immense rise of late years in the value of land, emigration to California, if judi- ciously carried out by persons having the right qualifications, those who possess capital and are skilful enough not to be carried away by "the dangerous facilities of agriculture," is certain to result in success, and the comparison drawn by the author of Guy Livingstone between the struggling tenant in England and a man of the same calibre in the Valley of San Joaquin is not aa unfair one. In the last chapter of Silverland we find a brief mention of Washington and Baltimore. It is somewhat droll to' find the writer taken by surprise at the want of ceremonial in a reception at the White House, and apparently seized with an attack of bashfulness when face to face with the President, who is- described as "a small, undersized man, with wan face and weary eyes, pekin from head to heel, and palpably not quite at his ease." Perhaps he found it hard to be "interviewed " by the Britisher- without any special reason at a time when he had long been ailing, but the author at least gives him credit for two precious qualifica- tions,—tact and delicacy. Succulent canvas-backs, toothsome terrepins, and Sercial older than the century, soothed the pain of departure from Maryland, and with a few speculations as to the future of the States, in which the writer gives it as his opinion. that "if that huge faggot of parti-coloured staves is held perman- ently together, it will be in the grasp of an autocracy," he takee,, leave of the reader with a brief epilogue. It is seldom that we. can take a man at his own estimate, but on this occasion, albeit- the doing so may seem a little impolite, while we congratulate the- Author of Guy Livingstone on having, as he says, brought back from his wanderings much worth the remembering, we cannot. but agree with him that his book contains very little which is. worth the recording.