For Richard these first years in New York were filled to overflowing with many varied interests, quite enough to satisfy most young men of twenty-seven. He had come and seen and to a degree, so far as the limitation of his work would permit, had conquered New York, but Richard thoroughly realized that New York was not only a very small part of the world but of his own country, and that to write about his own people and his own country and other people and other lands he must start his travels at an early age, and go on travelling until the end. And for the twenty-five years that followed that was what Richard did. Even when he was not on his travels but working on a novel or a play at Marion or later on at Mount Kisco, so far as it was possible he kept in touch with events that were happening and the friends that he had made all over the globe. He subscribed to most of the English and French illustrated periodicals and to one London daily newspaper which every day he read with the same interest that he read half a dozen New York newspapers and the interest was always that of the trained editor at work. Richard was not only physically restless but his mind practically never relaxed. When others, tired after a hard day's work or play, would devote the evening to cards or billiards or chatter, Richard would write letters or pore over some strange foreign magazine, consult maps, make notes, or read the stories of his contemporaries. He practically read every American magazine from cover to cover--advertisements were a delight to him, and the finding of a new writer gave him as much pleasure as if he had been the fiction editor who had accepted the first story by the embryo genius. The official organs of our army and navy he found of particular interest. Not only did he thus follow the movements of his friends in these branches of the service but if he read of a case wherein he thought a sailor or a soldier had been done an injustice he would promptly take the matter up with the authorities at Washington, and the results he obtained were often not only extremely gratifying to the wronged party but caused Richard no end of pleasure.
According to my brother's arrangement with the Harpers, he was to devote a certain number of months of every year to the editing of The Weekly, and the remainder to travel and the writing of his experiences for Harper's Monthly. He started on the first of these trips in January, 1892, and the result was a series of articles which afterward appeared under the title of "The West from a Car Window."
January, 1892. (Some place in Texas)
I left St. Louis last night, Wednesday, and went to bed and slept for twelve hours. To-day has been most trying and I shall be very glad to get on dry land again. The snow has ceased although the papers say this is the coldest snap they have had in San Antonio in ten years. It might have waited a month for me I think. It has been a most dreary trip from a car window point of view. Now that the snow has gone, there is mud and ice and pine trees and colored people, but no cowboys as yet. They talk nothing but Chili and war and they make such funny mistakes. We have a G. A. R. excursion on the train, consisting of one fat and prosperous G. A. R., the rest of the excursion having backed out on account of Garza who the salient warriors imagine as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. One old chap with white hair came on board at a desolate station and asked for "the boys in blue" and was very much disgusted when he found that "that grasshopper Garza" had scared them away-- He had tramped five miles through the mud to greet a possible comrade and was much chagrined. The excursion shook hands with him and they took a drink together. The excursion tells me he is a glass manufacturer, an owner of a slate quarry and the best embalmer of bodies in the country. He says he can keep them four years and does so "for specimens" those that are left on his hands and others he purchases from the morgue. He has a son who is an actor and he fills me full of the most harrowing tales of Indian warfare and the details of the undertaking business. He is SO funny about the latter that I weep with laughter and he cannot see why-- Joe Jefferson and I went to a matinee on Wednesday and saw Robson in "She stoops to Conquer." The house was absolutely packed and when Joe came in the box they yelled and applauded and he nodded to them in the most fatherly, friendly way as though to say "How are you, I don't just remember your name but I'm glad to see you--" It was so much sweeter than if he had got up and bowed as I would have done.
I knew more about Texas than the Texans and when they told me I would find summer here I smiled knowingly-- That is all the smiling I have done---Did you ever see a stage set for a garden or wood scene by daylight or Coney Island in March--that is what the glorious, beautiful baking city of San Antonio is like. There is mud and mud and mud--in cans, in the gardens of the Mexicans and snow around the palms and palmettos-- Does the sun shine anywhere? Are people ever warm-- It is raw, ugly and muddy, the Mexicans are merely dirty and not picturesque. I am greatly disappointed. But I have set my teeth hard and I will go on and see it through to the bitter end-- But I will not write anything for publication until I can take a more cheerful view of it. I already have reached the stage where I admit the laugh is on me-- But there is still London to look forward to and this may get better when the sun comes out---I went to the fort to-day and was most courteously received. But they told me I should go on to Laredo, if I expected to see any campaigning-- There is no fighting nor is any expected but they say they will give me a horse and I can ride around the chaparral as long as I want. I will write you from Laredo, where I go to-morrow, Saturday--
At Laredo Richard left the beaten track of the traveller, and with Trooper Tyler, who acted as his guide, joined Captain Hardie in his search for Garza. The famous revolutionist was supposed to be in hiding this side of the border, and the Mexican Government had asked the United States to find him and return him to the officials of his own country.
In Camp, February 2nd.
We have stopped by the side of a trail for a while and I will take the chance it gives me to tell you what I have been doing. After Tyler and I returned to camp, we had a day of rest before Captain Hardie arrived. He is a young, red-moustached, pointed-bearded chap with light blue eyes, rough with living in the West but most kind hearted and enthusiastic. He treats me as though I were his son which is rather absurd as he is only up to my shoulder. It is so hot I cannot make the words go straight and you must not mind if I wander. We are hugging a fence for all the shade there is and the horses and men have all crawled to the dark side of it and are sleeping or swearing at the sun. It is about two o'clock and we have been riding since half-past seven. I have had a first rate time but I do not see that there has been much in it to interest any one but myself and where Harper Brothers or the "gentle reader" comes in, I am afraid I cannot see, and if I cannot see it I fear he will be in a bad way. It has pleased and interested me to see how I could get along under difficult circumstances and with so much discomfort but as I say I was not sent out here to improve my temper or my health or to make me more content with my good things in the East. If we could have a fight or something that would excuse and make a climax for all this marching and reconnoitering and discomfort the story would have a suitable finale and a raison d'etre. However, I may get something out of it if only to abuse the Government for their stupidity in chasing a jack rabbit with a brass band or by praising the men for doing their duty when they know there is no duty to be done. This country is more like the ocean than anything else and drives one crazy with its monotony and desolation. And to think we went to war with Mexico for it-- To-day is my tenth day with the troops in the camp and in the field and I will leave them as soon as this scout is over which will be in three days at the most. Then I will go to Corpus Christi and from there to the ranches but I will wait until I get baths, hair cuts and a dinner and cool things to drink-- One thing has pleased me very much and that is that I, with Tyler and the Mexican Scout made the second best riding record of the troop since they have been in the field this winter. The others rode 115 miles in 32 hours, four of them under the first Sergeant, after revolutionists, and we made 110 miles in 33 hours. The rest of the detachment made 90 miles and our having the extra thirty to our credit was an accident. On the 31st Hardie sent out the scout and two troopers, of which Tyler was one, to get a trail and as I had been resting and loafing for three days, I went out with them. We left at eight after breakfast and returned at seven, having made thirty miles. When we got in we found that a detachment was going out on information sent in while we were out. Tyler was in it and so we got fresh horses and put out at nine o'clock by moonlight. That was to keep the people in the ranch from knowing we were going out. We rode until half-past three in the morning and then camped at the side of the road until half--past six, when we rode on until five in the afternoon. The men who were watching to see me give up grew more and more interested as the miles rolled out and the First Sergeant was very fearful for his record for which he has been recommended for the certificate of merit. The Captain was very much pleased and all the men came and spoke to me. It must have been a good ride for Tyler who is a fifth year man was so tired that he paid a man to do his sentry duty. We slept at Captain Hunter's camp that last night and we both came on this morning, riding thirty miles up to two o'clock to-day. From here we go on into the brush again. I am very proud of that riding record and of my beard which is fine. I will finish this when we get near a post-office.
February 4th-- We rode forty miles through the brush but saw nothing of Garza, who was supposed to be in it. But we captured 3 revolutionists, one of whom ran away but the scout got him. Hardie, Tyler, who is his orderly, and the scout and I took them in because the rest of the column was lagging in the rear and the Lieutenant got bally hooly for it. Tyler disarmed one and I took away the other chaps things. Then we took a fourth in and let them all go for want of evidence and after some of the ranch men had identified them.
CORPUS CHRISTI, February 6.
We ended our scout yesterday, and camped at Captain Hunter's last night-- Mother can now rest her soul in peace as I have done with scoutings and have replaced the free and easy belt and revolver for the black silk suspenders and the fire badge of civilization. I am still covered with 11 days dirt but will get lots of good things to eat and drink and smoke at Corpus Christi to night, where I will stay for two days. I am writing this on the car and a ranger is shooting splinters out of the telegraph poles from the window in front and has a New York drummer in a state of absolute nervous prostration. I met the Rangers last night as we came into camp and find them quite the most interesting things yet. They are just what I expected to find here and have not disappointed me. Everything else is either what we know it to be and know all about or else is disappointingly commonplace. I mean we know certain things are picturesque and I find them so but they have been "done" to death and new material seems so scarce. I am sometimes very fearful of the success of the letters-- However, the Rangers I simply loved. They were gentle voiced and did not swear as the soldiers do and some of them were as handsome men as I ever saw and SO BIG. And such children. They showed me all their tricks at the request of the Adjutant General, who looks upon them as his special property. They shot four shots into a tree with a revolver, going at full gallop, hit a mark with both hands at once, shot with the pistol upside down and the Captain put eight shots into a board with a Winchester, while I was putting two into the field around it. We got along very well indeed and they were quite keen for me to go back and chase Garza. They are sure they have him now. I gave the Captain permission to put four shots into my white helmet. He only put two and the rest of the company thinking their reputations were at stake whipped out their guns and snatched up their rifles and blazed away until they danced the hat all over the ranch. Then remorse overcame them and they proposed taking up a collection to get me a sombrero, which I stopped. So Nora's hat is gone but I am going to get another and save myself from sunstroke again. The last part of the ride was enlivened by the presence of three Mexican murderers handcuffed and chained with iron bands around the neck, that is Texas civilization isn't it--
I have had my dinner and a fine dinner it was with fresh fish and duck and oysters and segars which I have not had for a week. I am finishing this at Constantine's and will be here for two days to write things and will then go on to King's ranch and from there to San Antonio, where I will also rest a week. I will just about get through my schedule in the ten weeks at this rate. I had a good time in the bush and am enjoying it very much though it is lonely now and then-- Still, it is very interesting and if the stories amount to anything I will be pleased but I am constantly wondering how on earth Chas stood it as he did. He is a hero to me for I have some hope of getting back and he had not-- He is a sport-- How I will sleep to night--a real bed and sheets and pajamas, after the ground and the same clothes for eleven days.
While Richard was travelling in the West, his second volume of short stories, "Van Bibber and Others," was published. The volume was dedicated to my father, who wrote Richard the following letter:
PHILADELPHIA, February 15, 1892.
MY DEAR OWN DICK:
I have not been the complete letter writer I should have been, as I told you on Saturday, but I know you will understand. Your two good letters came this evening, one to Mamma and one to Nora. They were a good deal to us all, most, of course, to your dear mother and sister, who have a fond, foolish fancy or love for you--strange--isn't it? Yes, dear boy, I liked the new story very, very much. It was in your best book and in fine spirit, and I liked, too, the dedication of the book--its meaning and its manner. I am glad to be associated with my dear boy and with his work even in that brief way. You may not yet thought about it after this fashion, but I have thought a good deal about it. Reports come to me of you from many sources, and they are all good, and they all reflect honor upon me-- Upon me as I'm getting ready to salute the world, as our French friends say. It is very pleasant to me as I think it over to feel and to know that my boy has honored my name, that he has done something good and useful in the world and for the world. I have something more than pride in you. I am grateful to you. If this is a little prosie, dear old fellow, forgive it. It is late at night and I am a little tired, and being tired stupid. You saw The Atlantic notice of your work. I wish you could have heard Nora on the author of it, who would not have been happy in his mind if he had unhappily heard her. She went for that Heathen Chinee like a wild cat. No disrespect to her, but, all the same, like a wild cat. To me it was interesting. I did not agree with it, but here and there I saw the flash of truth even in the adverse praise. I should have had more respect for the author's opinion if he had liked that vital speck, Raegen. If he could not see the divine, human spark in that--a flash from Calvary, what is the use of considering him? My greatest pride in you, that which has added some sweetness and joy to my life, has been the recognition that something of the divine element was given you, and that your voice rang out sweet and pure at a time when other voices were sounding the fascinations of impurity. That, like Christ, you taught humanity. Don't be afraid of being thought "fresh," fear to be thought "knowing." Life isn't much worth at best,--it is worth nothing at all unless some good be done in it---the more, the better. Don't make it too serious either. Enjoy it as you go, but after a fashion that will bring no reproach to your manhood. Don't be afraid to preach the truth and above all the religion of humanity. Good night, dear boy. I'm a little tired to night. With great love,
ANADARKO--February 26th, 1892.
I could not write you before as I have been traveling from pillars to posts, (a joke), in a stage, night and day. I went to Fort Reno from Oklahoma City where they drove me crazy almost with town lots and lot sites and homestead holdings. It was all raw and mean, and greedy for money and a man is much better off in every way in a tenement on Second Avenue than the "owner of his own home" in one of these mushroom cities-- So I think. I went to Fort Reno by stage and it seemed to me that I was really in the West for the first time-- The rest has been as much like the oil towns around Pittsburgh as anything else. But here there are rolling prairie lands with millions of prairie dogs and deep canons and bluffs of red clay that stand out as clear as a razor hollowed and carved away by the water long ago. And the grass is as high as a stirrup and the trees very plentiful after the plains of Texas. The men at Fort Reno were the best I have met, indeed I am just a little tired of trying to talk of things of interest to the Second Lieutenant's intellect. But I had to leave there because I had missed the beef issue and had to see it and as it was due here I pushed on. This post is very beautiful but the men are very young and civil appointments mainly, which means that they have not been to West Point but had fathers and have friends with influence and they are fresh. But the scenery around the post is delightfully wild and big and there is an Indian camp at the foot of the hill on which the fort is stuck. Mother, instead of going to Europe, should come here and see her Indians. Only if she did she would bring a dozen or more of the children back with her. They are the brightest spot in my trip and I spend the mornings and afternoons trying to get them to play with me. They are very shy and pretty and beautifully barbaric and wear the most gorgeous trappings. The women, the older ones, are the ugliest women I ever saw. But the men are fine. I never saw such color as they give to the landscape and one always thinks they have dressed up just to please you. I have spent most of my time and money in buying things from them but they are very dear because the Indians take long to make them and do not like to part with them. I have had rough times lately but I think I would be content to remain in the west six months if I could. It is the necessity of leaving places I like and pushing on to places I don't, I dislike. Reno was fine with a band and lots of fine fellows. This post is not so queer but they are so young-- It makes a great bit of color though with the yellow capes of the cavalry and the soldiers wig--waging red and white flags at other soldiers eight miles away on other mountains and the Indians in yellow buckskin and blankets and their faces painted too. I went to the beef issue to-day--it was not a pretty sight and most barbarous and cruel. I also went to a council at which the chiefs were protesting against the cutting down of their rations which is Commissioner Morgan's doing and which it is expected will lead to war-- We went in out of curiosity and without knowing it was a Council and were very much ashamed when one of the Chiefs rose and said he was glad to see the officers present as they were the best friends the Indians had and the only men they could respect in times of peace as a friend, or in times of war as an enemy. At which we took off our hats and sat it through. Mother's blood would rise if she could hear the stories they tell, and they are so dignified and polite. They have an Indian troop here, like the one described in The Weekly, which you should read and the Captain told them I was a great Chief from the East, whereat all the soldiers who were of noble lineage claimed their privilege of shaking hands with me, which had a demoralizing effect upon the formation and the white privates were either convulsed with mirth or red with indignation. But you cannot treat them like white men who do not know their ancestors-- Dad's letter was the best I have ever got from him and he had always better write when he is tired. I will always keep it.
DENVER--March 7, 1892.
I arrived in Denver Friday night and realized that I was in a city again where the more you order people about the more they do for you, being civilized and so understanding that you mean to tip them. I found my first letter on the newsstand and was very much pleased with it, and with the way they put it out. The proof was perfect and if there had been more pictures I would have been entirely satisfied, as it was I was very much pleased. My baggage had not come, so covered with mud and dust and straw from the stages and generally disreputable I went to see a burlesque, and said "Front row, end seat," just as naturally as though I was in evening dress and high hat--and then I sank into a beautiful deep velvet chair and saw Amazon marches and ladies in tights and heard the old old jokes and the old old songs we know so well and sing so badly. The next morning I went for my mail and the entire post office came out to see me get it. It took me until seven in the evening to finish it, and I do not know that it will ever be answered. The best of it was that you were all pleased with my letters. That put my mind at rest. Then there was news of deaths and marriages and engagements and the same people doing the same things they did when I went away. I did not intend to present any letters as I was going away that night to Creede, but I found I could not get any money unless some one identified me so I presented one to a Mr. Jerome who all the bankers said they would be only too happy to oblige. After one has been variously taken for a drummer, photographer and has been offered so much a line to "write up" booming towns, it is a relief to get back to a place where people know you.--I told Mr. Jerome I had a letter of introduction and that I was Mr. Davis and he shook hands and then looked at the letter and said "Good Heavens are you that Mr. Davis" and then rushed off and brought back the entire establishment brokers, bankers and mine owners and they all sat around and told me funny stories and planned more things for me to do and eat than I could dispose of in a month.
I am now en route to Creede. Creede when you first see it in print looks like creede but after you have been in Denver or Colorado even for one day it reads like C R E E D E. All the men on this car think they are going to make their fortunes, and toward that end they have on new boots and flannel shirts, and some of them seeing my beautiful clothing and careful array came over and confided to me that they were really not so tough as they looked and had never worn a flannel shirt before. This car is typical of what they told me I would find at Creede. There are rich mine owners who are pointed out by the conductor as the fifth part owner of the "Pot Luck" mine, and dudes in astrakan fur coats over top boots and new flannel shirts, and hardened old timers with their bedding and tin pans, who have prospected all over the state and women who are smoking and drinking.
I feel awfully selfish whenever I look out of the car window. Switzerland which I have never seen is a spot on the map compared to this. The mountains go up with snow on one side and black rows of trees and rocks on the other, and the clouds seem packed down between them. The sun on the snow and the peaks peering above the clouds is all new to me and so very beautiful that I would like to buy a mountain and call it after my best girl. I will finish this when I get to Creede. I expect to make my fortune there.
CREEDE, March 7.
A young man in a sweater and top boots met me at the depot and said that I was Mr. Davis and that he was a young man whose life I had written in "There was 90 and 9." He was from Buffalo and was editing a paper in Creede. He said I was to stop with him-- Creede is built of new pine boards and lies between two immense mountains covered with pines and snow. The town is built in the gulley and when the spring freshets come will be a second Johnstown. Faber, the young man, took me to the Grub State Cabin where I found two most amusing dudes and thoroughbred sports from Boston, Harvard men living in a cabin ten by eight with four bunks and a stove, two banjos and H O P E. They own numerous silver mines, lots, and shares, but I do not believe they have five dollars in cash amongst them. They have a large picture of myself for one of the ORNAMENTS and are great good fellows. We sat up in our bunks until two this morning talking and are planning to go to Africa and Mexico and Asia Minor together.--Lots of love.
Very happy indeed to be back in his beloved town, Richard returned to New York late in March, 1892, and resumed his editorial duties. But on this occasion his stay was of particularly short duration, and in May, he started for his long-wished-for visit to London. The season there was not yet in full swing, and after spending a few days in town, journeyed to Oxford, where he settled down to amuse himself and collect material for his first articles on English life as he found it. In writing of this visit to Oxford, H. J. Whigham, one of Richard's oldest friends, and who afterward served with him in several campaigns, said:
"When we first met Richard Harding Davis he was living, to all practical purposes, the life of an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford. Anyone at all conversant with the customs of universities, especially with the idiosyncrasies of Oxford, knows that for a person who is not an undergraduate to share the life of undergraduates on equal terms, to take part in their adventures, to be admitted to their confidence is more difficult than it is for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle or for the rich man to enter heaven. It was characteristic of Davis that although he was a few years older than the average university "man" and came from a strange country and, moreover, had no official reason for being at Oxford at all, he was accepted as one of themselves by the Balliol undergraduates, in fact, lived in Balliol for at least a college term, and happening to fall in with a somewhat enterprising generation of Balliol men he took the lead in several escapades which have been written into Oxford history. There is in the makeup of the best type of college undergraduate a wonderful spirit of adventure, an unprejudiced view of life, an almost Quixotic feeling for romance, a disdain of sordid or materialistic motives, which together make the years spent at a great university the most golden of the average man's career. These characteristics Davis was fortunate enough to retain through all the years of his life. The same spirit that took him out with a band of Oxford youths to break down an iron barrier set by an insolent landowner across the navigable waters of Shakespeare's Avon carried him, in after years, to the battlefields where Greece fought against the yoke of Turkey, to the insurrecto camps of Cuba, to the dark horrors of the Congo, to Manchuria, where gallant Japan beat back the overwhelming power of Russia, to Belgium, where he saw the legions of Germany trampling over the prostrate bodies of a small people. Romance was never dead while Davis was alive."
That Richard lost no time in making friends at Oxford as, indeed, he never failed to do wherever he went, the following letters to his mother would seem to show:
I came down here on Saturday morning with the Peels, who gave an enormous boating party and luncheon on a tiny little island. The day was beautiful with a warm brilliant sun, and the river was just as narrow and pretty as the head of the Squan river, and with old walls and college buildings added. We had the prettiest Mrs. Peel in our boat and Mrs. Joseph Chamberlain, who was Miss Endicott and who is very sweet and pretty. We raced the other punts and rowboats and soon, after much splashing and exertion, reached the head of the river. Then we went to, tea in New College and to see the sights of the different colleges now on the Thames. The barges of the colleges, painted different colors and gilded like circus band-wagons and decorated with coats of arms and flying great flags, lined the one shore for a quarter of a mile and were covered by girls in pretty frocks and under-grads in blazers. Then the boats came into sight one after another with the men running alongside on the towpath. This was one of the most remarkable sights of the country so far. There were over six hundred men coming six abreast, falling and stumbling and pushing, shouting and firing pistols. It sounded like a cavalry charge and the line seemed endless. The whole thing was most theatrical and effective. Then we went to the annual dinner of the Palmerston Club, where I made a speech which was, as there is no one else to tell you, well received, "being frequently interrupted with applause," from both the diners and the ladies in the gallery. It was about Free Trade and the way America was misrepresented in the English papers, and composed of funny stories which had nothing to do with the speech. I did not know I was going to speak until I got there, and considering the fact, as Wilson says, that your uncle was playing on a strange table with a crooked cue he did very well. The next morning we breakfasted with the Bursar of Trinity and had luncheon with the Viscount St. Cyres to meet Lord and Lady Coleridge. St. Cyres is very shy and well-bred, and we would have had a good time had not the M. P.'s present been filled with awe of the Lord Chief Justice and failed to draw him out. As it was he told some very funny stories; then we went to tea with Hubert Howard, in whose rooms I live and am now writing, and met some stupid English women and shy girls. Then we dined with the dons at New College, so--called because it is eight hundred years old. We sat at a high table in a big hall hung with pictures and lit by candles. The under-grads sat beneath in gowns and rattled pewter mugs. We all wore evening dress and those that had them red and white fur collars. After dinner we left the room according to some process of selection, carrying our napkins with us. We entered a room called the Commons, where we drank wines and ate nuts and raisins. It was all very solemn and dull and very dignified. Outside it was quite light although nine o'clock. Then we marched to another room where there were cigars and brandy and soda, but Arthur Pollen and I had to go and take coffee with the Master of Balliol, the only individual of whom Pollen stands in the least awe. He was a dear old man who said, "O yes, you're from India," and on my saying "No, from America"; he said, "O yes, it's the other one." I found the other one was an Indian princess in a cashmere cloak and diamonds, who looked so proud and lovely and beautiful that I wanted to take her out to one of the seats in the quadrangle and let her weep on my shoulder. How she lives among these cold people I cannot understand. We were all to go to a concert in the chapel, and half of the party started off, but the Master's wife said, "Oh, I am sure the Master expects them to wait for him in the hall. It is always done." At which all the women made fluttering remarks of sympathy and the men raced off to bring the others back. Only the Indian girl and I remained undisturbed and puzzled. The party came back, but the Master saw them and said, "Well, it does not matter, but it is generally done." At which we all felt guilty. When we got to the chapel everybody stood up until the Master's party sat down, but as it was broken in the middle of the procession, they sat down, and then, seeing we had not all passed, got up again, so that I felt like saying, "As you were, men," as they do out West in the barracks. Then Lord Coleridge in taking off his overcoat took off his undercoat, too, and stood unconscious of the fact before the whole of Oxford. The faces of the audience which packed the place were something wonderful to see; their desire to laugh at a tall, red-faced man who looks like a bucolic Bill Nye struggling into his coat, and then horror at seeing the Chief Justice in his shirt-sleeves, was a terrible effort--and no one would help him, on the principle, I suppose, that the Queen of Spain has no legs. He would have been struggling yet if I had not, after watching him and Lady Coleridge struggling with him, for a full minute, taken his coat and firmly pulled the old gentleman into it, at which he turned his head and winked.
I will go back to town by the first to see the Derby and will get into lodgings there. I AM HAVING A VERY GOOD TIME AND AM VERY WELL. The place is as beautiful as one expects and yet all the time startling one with its beauty.
When the season at Oxford was over Richard returned to London and took a big sunny suite of rooms in the Albany. Here he settled down to learn all he could of London, its ways and its people. In New York he had already met a number of English men and women distinguished in various walks of life, and with these as a nucleus he soon extended his circle of friends until it became as large as it was varied. In his youth, and indeed throughout his life, Richard had the greatest affection for England and the English. No truer American ever lived, but he thought the United States and Great Britain were bound by ties that must endure always. He admired British habits, their cosmopolitanism and the very simplicity of their mode of living. He loved their country life, and the swirl of London never failed to thrill him. During the last half of his life Richard had perhaps as many intimate friends in London as in New York. His fresh point of view, his very eagerness to understand theirs, made them welcome him more as one of their own people than as a stranger.
LONDON, June 3, 1892.
I went out to the Derby on Wednesday and think it is the most interesting thing I ever saw over here. It is SO like these people never to have seen it. It seems to be chiefly composed of costermongers and Americans. I got a box-seat on a public coach and went out at ten. We rode for three hours in a procession of donkey shays, omnibuses, coaches, carriages, vans, advertising wagons; every sort of conveyance stretching for sixteen miles, and with people lining the sides to look on. I spent my time when I got there wandering around over the grounds, which were like Barnum's circus multiplied by thousands. It was a beautiful day and quite the most remarkable sight of my life. Much more wonderful than Johnstown, so you see it must have impressed me. We were five hours getting back, the people singing all the way and pelting one another and saying funny impudent things.
My rooms are something gorgeous. They are on the first floor, looking into Piccadilly from a court, and they are filled with Hogarth's prints, old silver, blue and white china, Zulu weapons and fur rugs, and easy chairs of India silk. You never saw such rooms! And a very good servant, who cooks and valets me and runs errands and takes such good care of me that last night Cust and Balfour called at one to get some supper and he would not let them in. Think of having the Leader of the House of Commons come to ask you for food and having him sent away. Burdett-Coutts heard of my being here in the papers and wrote me to dine with him tonight. I lunched with the Tennants today; no relation to Mrs. Stanley, and it was informal and funny rather. The Earl of Spender was there and Lord Pembroke and a lot of women. They got up and walked about and changed places and seemed to know one another better than we do at home. I think I will go down to Oxford for Whitsuntide, which is a heathen institution here which sends everyone away just as I want to meet them.
I haven't written anything yet. I find it hard to do so. I think I would rather wait until I get home for the most of it. Chas. will be here in less than a week now and we will have a good time. I have planned it out for days. He must go to Oxford and meet those boys, and then, if he wishes, on to Eastnor, which I learn since my return is one of the show places of England. I am enjoying myself, it is needless to say, very much, and am well and happy.
During these first days in England Richard spent much of his time at Eastnor, Lady Brownlow's place in Lincolnshire, and one of the most beautiful estates in England. Harry Cust, to whom my brother frequently refers in his letters, was the nephew of Lady Brownlow, and a great friend of Richard's. At that time Cust was the Conservative nominee for Parliament from Lincolnshire, and Richard took a most active part in the campaign. Happily, we were both at Lady Brownlow's during its last few tense days, as well as on the day the votes were counted, and Cust was elected by a narrow margin. Of our thrilling adventures Richard afterward wrote at great length in "Our English Cousins."
LONDON, July 6, 1892.
On the Fourth of July, Lady Brownlow sent into town and had a big American flag brought out and placed over the house, which was a great compliment, as it was seen and commented on for miles around. Cushing of Boston, a very nice chap and awfully handsome, is there, too. The same morning I went out to photograph the soldiers, and Lord William Frederick, who is their colonel, charged them after me whenever I appeared. It seems he has a sense of humor and liked the idea of making an American run on the Fourth of July from Red-coats. I doubt if the five hundred men who were not on horseback thought it as funny. They chased me till I thought I would die. The Conservative member for the county got in last night and we rejoiced greatly, as the moral effect will help Harry Cust greatly. His election takes place next Monday. The men went in to hear the vote declared after dinner, and so did two of the girls, who got Lady Brownlow's consent at dinner, and then dashed off to change their gowns before she could change her mind. As we were intent on seeing the fun and didn't want them, we took them just where we would have gone anyway, which was where the fighting was. And they showed real sporting blood and saw the other real sort. There were three of us to each girl, and it was most exciting, with stones flying and windows crashing and cheers and groans. A political meeting or election at home is an afternoon tea to the English ones. When we came back the soldiers were leaving the Park to stop the row, and as we flew past, the tenants ran to the gate and cheered for the Tory victory in "good old lopes." When we got to the house the servants ran cheering all over the shop and rang the alarm bell and built fires, and we had a supper at one-fifteen. What they will do on the night of Cust's election, I cannot imagine-- burn the house down probably. Cushing and I enjoy it immensely. We know them well enough now to be as funny as we like without having them stare. They are nice when you know them, but you've GOT to know them first. I had a great dinner at Farrar's. All the ecclesiastical lights of England in knee-breeches were there, and the American Minister and Phillips Brooks. It was quite novel and fun. Lots of love. I have all the money I want.
With Cust properly elected, Richard and I returned to the Albany and settled down to enjoy London from many angles. Although my brother had been there but a few weeks, his acquaintances among the statesmen, artists, social celebrities, and the prominent actors of the day was quite as extraordinary as his geographical and historical knowledge of the city. We gave many jolly parties, and on account of Richard's quickly acquired popularity were constantly being invited to dinners, dances, and less formal but most amusing Bohemian supper-parties. During these days there was little opportunity for my brother to do much writing, but he was very busy making mental notes not only for his coming book on the English people, but for a number of short stories which he wrote afterward in less strenuous times. We returned to New York in August, and Richard went to Marion to rest from his social activities, and to work on his English articles.
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