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CAIRO IN 1841 



Darius B. Holbrook, Charles Dickens and Alfred 
Tennyson Dickens. 

By John M. Lansden, op Cairo, Ill.| 

I would like to introduce this article with a short account 
of the Cairo of 1818, but space will not permit. It is 
of the Cairo of 1836, and of the three persons above named 
I desire to speak. The attempt made in 1818, to start a 
city at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers 
failed so soon and so badly that it could scarcely have been 
said to have been begun. The place or site and what had 
been done in 1818, drew increased attention to it; and 
although it had found a place on H. S. Tanner's map of 
Illinois, published in Philadelphia in 1822, it was not until 
1835, that it was thought expedient to make a second 
attempt to start a city on the same site. 

At Vandalia, in 1835, Sidney Breese made the ac- 
quaintance of Darius B. Holbrook, then of Massachusetts 
and subsequently of New York. Breese and others had 
already in the same year, acquired the Cairo lands, which 
had been forfeited to the government, some fifteen years 
before, for failure to pay the balance due on the entry 
prices. The township had been surveyed by the govern- 
ment in 1807, and the Birds and the men undertaking the 
first City of Cairo entered the lands on what was called the 
credit system; and the Cairo enterprise of 1818, having 
fallen through, the lands, not having been paid for in full, 
were forfeited; and in 1835, they were again entered for the 
purpose for which they were entered in 1817. 

Holbrook was at Vandalia to procure certain corporate 
rights for manufacturing purposes, but seems to have been 
drawn by Breese into the latter's scheme for building a city 
on the Cairo site and at the same time, and as a part of one 



26 

undertaking, to arrange for the building of a central rail- 
road from the so-called City of Cairo to Peru on the Illi- 
nois River. The railroad company was incorporated 
January 16, 1836, and the Cairo City and Canal Company 
March 4, 1837. 

Just how the city and the railroad company started out 
is best told by Judge Breese in his letter to Senator Douglas, 
of January 25, 1851, a week or two before the present Illi- 
nois Central Railroad Company was incorporated: 

"At the called session of the legislature * * * in 
'35-36, I found Mr. Holbrook at Vandalia, then a 
stranger to me, endeavoring to procure charters for 
manufacturing purposes, as I understood. Believing 
him to be a man of great intelligence and expanded 
views, I unfolded my plans to him, and seizing upon 
the project which had been started in 1818, to build a 
city at the mouth of the Ohio, which the projectors, 
Gov. Bond and others, had then denominated ' Cairo/ 
he fell into my views, and being a man of great energy, 
he proposed the formation of a company to construct 
the road and build the city." 

This railroad scheme of January 16, 1836, was pushed 
aside by the State, when by its act of February 27, 1837, 
it entered upon its general scheme of building railroads, one 
of which was to be an Illinois Central Railroad and for the 
construction of which it appropriated three and a half 
million dollars. Up to this time Breese seems to have been 
the leading spirit of the undertaking to build the city and 
construct the railroad; but their attempt at the latter hav- 
ing been thwarted, Holbrook seems to have become the 
leader in almost everything that related to the city. They 
no doubt felt greatly crippled, for their railroad was to aid 
their city and their city the railroad; but such men as they 
were could not easily be turned aside from any object or 
purpose they greatly desired to accomplish. They could 
not contend against the power of the State and build their 
railroad in spite of it, but they owned the Cairo lands and 




Darius B. Holbrook 



27 

were able to have their city or proposed city, made the 
southern terminus of the State's railway. 

Holbrook was fully as strong in the business world as 
was Judge Breese in the political world. He was a sort of 
a steam engine of a man — a locomotive engine. He was 
said to have been not merely the chief representative of the 
Cairo companies but the companies themselves. If such 
was the case, it must have been due to the very general 
belief that what he wanted was needed and what he did 
not want must be laid aside or left alone. He made two 
or three trips to London and the great banking house of 
John Wright & Company, of Henrietta Street, Covent 
Garden, became his company's financial representative in 
that city. Those bankers were at the same time the 
agents of our State for the sale of its Canal Bonds. Besides 
Holbrook, there were in London, Richard M. Young, one 
of our United States senators, and Ex-Governor John 
Reynolds, agents for the State in arranging with Wright 
& Company to take charge of the State's bond sales. 
Daniel Webster was also there, and while there, gave his 
written opinion to Holbrook regarding the company's 
title to the lands it had mortgaged to the New York Life 
Insurance & Trust Company to secure the payment of its 
bonds. Holbrook did everything, went everywhere, saw 
everybody, legislators and capitalists and other men of 
prominence and influence, whom he supposed might aid 
him. He secured in London large sums of money and 
must have expended in Cairo much more than a million 
of dollars, which for that day was a very large sum of 
money. He paid large prices for the lands he bought from 
the Kaskaskia people, their heirs or grantees. He and his 
company had great faith in their enterprise, and they 
determined to obtain titles to lands almost regardless of 
the prices demanded. 

We cannot go very fully into this matter here, only saying 
that Holbrook worked on faithfully even after the failure 
of Wright & Company, November 23, 1840. He must have 
known, however, long before the end came, that his attempt 



28 

must meet a fate not unlike that which came to the 
Kaskaskia people in 1818. The great bankers of London 
had turned against Wright & Company and brought them 
to bankruptcy; and Holbrook knew that if he could not 
raise money on his Cairo bonds at the outstart in this 
country, he certainly could not do it now that the whole 
financial world was in a state of suspense as to the outcome 
of the monetary depression the world over. Seeing he 
could go no further, he set about finding what entirely new 
arrangements might be made by which he and those asso- 
ciated with him might save something out of the failed 
enterprise. 

A number of writers about Cairo have criticized him and 
some of them very severely. We do not know enough of 
the facts and circumstances, running through a number of 
years, to enable us to express a very satisfactory opinion 
as to those matters about which he was criticized. The 
work which he had undertaken was difficult in the extreme; 
but as we have before stated, he seems to have firmly 
believed that he could accomplish it. After the first two 
or three years he must have seen more clearly the difficul- 
ties of the situation. These called forth only greater 
efforts on his part; but when it became evident that the 
situation was growing more and more doubtful, he may 
have resorted to measures which seemed more or less in- 
consistent with that straightforward kind of conduct about 
which all men speak well but which many of them find it 
exceedingly difficult to follow when overtaken by unex- 
pected embarrassments. Observation shows that most 
men in times of severe financial trial and when failure 
seems impending, will turn aside here and there and do 
this or that which they would have before severely criticized. 
Holbrook was determined that his enterprise should not 
fail, and it was a long time before he could see anything 
but success ahead of him. What he did at Washington, 
at Springfield and New York, even as late as 1849, shows 
that his hope was not entirely gone, although his Cairo 
City and Canal Company had already sold out to the 



29 

Cairo City Property Trust. His last act of surrender 
to the State is seen in the act of February 17, 1851, repeal- 
ing his act of January 16, 1836, incorporating the first Illi- 
nois Central Railroad Company. 

Holbrook did quite as much as either Breese or Douglas 
in the work of securing an Illinois Central Railway. Breese 
and he began the work in 1835, and he worked on at it con- 
tinuously until September 20, 1850. For this great 
railway, Illinois is indebted to Breese, Holbrook, Went- 
worth, Webster, and George Ashmun of Massachusetts, 
quite as much as to Senator Douglas. Holbrook, Went- 
worth, Webster, and Ashmun furnished such aid to the 
land grant scheme for the road that the long pending bill 
therefor finally, and after fifteen years of work, became the 
act of September 20, 1850, without which there is no telling 
when such a road would have been built. (Wentworth's 
Reminiscences.) After 1846, the Trustees of the Cairo 
City Property bore most of the expense of the work of se- 
curing the land grant act. 

(If there is no such book, one should be written upon the 
unreliability of history, ancient and modern. Were a 
great corps of scholars to catalogue and print the false- 
hoods of history, to contain the volumes, not five feet but 
five hundred feet of shelving would be required; and were 
they to separate matters of fact from matters of fiction, the 
former would bulk small in comparison with the latter.) 

Holbrook's new arrangement substituted American for 
English capitalists, and out of what he did in the general 
reorganization came the Trustees of the Cairo City Prop- 
erty and its ten or eleven thousand acres of land between 
the two rivers and at their junction, and, also, the City of 
Cairo. 

Much money, English money, had been lost in this second 
attempt to build a city on the Cairo site of 1818; and this 
brings us to the Cairo of Charles Dickens. 



30 

The picture of Cairo in 1841, on another page, is a very- 
correct representation of the place at that time. Until the 
last one or two years there were persons in Cairo who could 
name every one of the buildings seen in the picture — the 
hotel near the point, the post office, the stores and houses 
for workmen and laborers, the machine shops, the saw 
mills with their slanting log- ways to the river, the f ound- 
eries, the marine ways, just above which a steamboat is 
seen in course of building, the dry docks, and on further up 
the Ohio levee, other stores, brickyards, etc. In a word, the 
cut is known to have been as correct as anything of the 
kind could have been made at that time. Moreover, it 
shows with great exactness, the small strip of land and 
country lying along the Ohio which had been cleared of 
woods. In 1850, the Trustees of the Cairo City Property, 
successors of the Holbrook people, caused a very full and 
complete topographical map of Cairo and vicinity to be 
made, and the same shows the location of every building 
as seen in that picture of Cairo as it was in 1841. It shows 
the lines and lengths of the levees, the strip of land first 
cleared away, the line of the Illinois Central Railroad of 
1838, the grading of which extended from Cairo to Jones- 
boro, thirty-six miles distant. The picture is taken from 
the December number, 1841, of "The Valley of the Missis- 
sippi, Illustrated/ ' drawings and lithographing by J. C. 
Wild, published at the Republican Printing office St. 
Louis, Missouri, 1841. 

I have thus spoken at considerable length of this picture 
to show what Cairo was and how it looked when Dickens 
was here an hour or two Saturday, April 9th, 1842, and to 
show that his description of it as found in The American 
Notes, like almost everything else in America described 
by him, was distorted in the extreme. The place no doubt 
looked bad enough, owing to its low site. It never was an 
attractive looking town, and it is only in recent years that 
it has become a much better looking place or city than it 
was for a long time in the history of the country. But as 
unfavorable as it may have appeared when Dickens saw it 



31 

from the top of the Ohio Levee, no one who desired to keep 
within sight of the truth would have written as he did 
about it. 

It seems that there are differences of opinion as to why 
Dickens visited the United States in 1842, and why he gave 
such an account of his visit as that found in his American 
Notes. Dr. John F. Snyder says that Dickens had in- 
vested in Cairo bonds and that fearing things were not 
going on at Cairo as they should, he made his trip to satisfy 
himself as to the condition and safety of his investment. 
The following is what Dr. Snyder says in the October 
number, 1910, of this Journal: 

"To see Cairo was really the main object of his 
journey to America. In 1837, one Darius B. Hoi- 
brook, a shrewd Boston Yankee, organized the Cairo 
City and Canal Company, a scheme as audaciously 
illusive as the John Laws' Bubble in 1718; and going to 
Europe he plastered the walls everywhere with flam- 
ing lithographs of a grand city at the junction of the 
Mississippi and Ohio rivers — in fact, as mythical as the 
fabled Quivira of Coronado's search. In London was 
the banking house of John Wright & Company, the 
same that in 1839 confidenced the Illinois Fund Com- 
missioners, Gov. Reynolds, Senator Young, General 
Rawlings and Colonel Oakley, into depositing with 
them $1,000,000 of Illinois Bonds, resulting in a loss 
to the State of half their value. Through John Wright 
& Company, Holbrook actually sold bonds of his 
Cairo Company to the amount of $2,000,000. Among 
his numerous victims was Mr. Dickens, who, it is 
asserted, invested [in them a large part of his 
slender means." 

The above from Dr. Snyder is quoted and approved by 
Mr. W. Glyde Wilkins, of Pittsburg, in his "Charles 
Dickens In America," published last year by Charles 



32 

Scribner's Sons; and it is followed by this comment of 
Wilkins: — 

"It will be noted that this occurred while Dickens 
was writing The Pickwick Papers, and Dickens may 
at that time have had in mind the trip to America and 
his American Notes; for, in chapter xliv, Tony Weller 
says to Sam, 'Have a passage taken ready for 'Merrika 
. . . and then let him come back and write a book 
about the 'Merrikans as'll pay all his expenses and 
more, if he blows 'em up enough/ " 

We cannot agree with this view for the following reasons: 
A number of Englishmen and two or three or more English 
women had preceded Dickens to this country and on their 
return home wrote books about the United States. All of 
them told very much the same story — a story Englishmen 
liked to hear. Dickens was twenty-four years of age when 
he wrote The Pickwick Papers, and yet it appears that at 
that early age and in the year 1836, he purposed not only 
to visit 'Merrika but that he would write a book about his 
visit and that he would "blow 'em up enough to pay all his 
expenses and more." But when he wrote Pickwick in 
1836, there was no Cairo except upon paper. There was 
no Cairo City and Canal Company, no Cairo bonds — none 
until late in 1839, almost three years later. His contem- 
plated visit is again seen in a letter to Chapman & Hall, his 
publishers, in July 1839, before any Cairo bonds were ready 
for sale. His time was so occupied and the sales of his 
books were making him so much money that his trip to 
America was deferred from time to time, and it was not 
until he had finished Master Humphrey's Clock that he 
announced the time of his sailing. 

Charles H. Jones, in his short biography of Dickens, and 
introductory to what he says of his first visit to America, 
writes as follows: — 

"It has already been shown that when the idea of 
'Master Humphrey's Clock' was first shaping itself in 
Dickens' mind, a visit on his part to America formed 



33 

part of his plan, and that by the time the periodical 
reached its close in November, 1841, he was able to 
announce the date of the proposed visit. Some letters 
which he interchanged with Washington Irving con- 
firmed his resolution, if he had thought of wavering, 
and in little more than a month after the 'wind-up* 
of the Clock all his arrangements had been made, 
including an agreement for the publication of a book 
which should record his impressions of America. 9 ' 

It must, therefore, be conceded that Dickens' chief 
purpose in coming to the United States was to gather ma- 
terials for another book. He contracted to write it some 
months before he sailed. The second object he had in view 
was protection for the sale of his book by some kind of 
copyright law, international or otherwise. He landed at 
Boston, January 21, 1842, and before he had left that city 
he began his campaign of education. His subject was 
international copyright, a subject in which he had more 
interest than any other living man, perhaps. Judging by 
the fever of his advocacy and the bitterness of his denun- 
ciation, one would suppose the subject was about the only 
one before the English speaking world. Here is a part of 
his letter to Mr. Henry Austin, of May 1, 1842, two weeks 
after he saw Cairo and Belleville: — 

"Is it not a horrible thing that scoundrel book- 
sellers should grow rich here from publishing books, 
the authors of which do not reap one farthing from 
their issue by scores of thousands; and that every 
vile blackguard and detestable newspaper, so filthy 
and bestial that no honest man would admit one into 
his house for a scullery doormat, should be able to 
publish those same writings side by side, cheek by 
jowl, with the coarsest and most obscene companions 
with which they must become connected, in course of 
time, in people's minds? Is it tolerable that besides 
being robbed and rifled an author should be forced 
to appear in any form, in any vulgar dress, in any 



34 

atrocious company; that he should have no choice of 
his audience, no control over his distorted text, and 
that he should be compelled to jostle out of the course 
the best men in this country who only ask to live by 
writing? I vow before high heaven that my blood 
so boils at these enormities that, when I speak about 
them, I seem to grow twenty feet high, and to swell 
out in proportion. 'Robbers that ye are/ I think to 
myself when I get upon my legs, 'here goes.'" 

Here is a part of his letter to Mr.- Forster, written just 
after the great dinner given him in NewYork, with Wash- 
ington Irving in the chair: — 

"I spoke, as you know, of international copyright 
at Boston; and I spoke of it again at Hartford. My 
friends were paralyzed with wonder at such audacious 
daring. The notion that I, a man alone by himself, 
in America, should venture to suggest to the Americans 
that there was one point on which they were neither 
just to their own countrymen nor to us, actually struck 
the boldest dumb. Washington Irving, Prescott, 
Hoffman, Bryant, Halleck, Dana, Washington Alls- 
ston — every man who writes in this country is devoted 
to the question, and not one of them dares to raise 
his voice and complain of the atrocious state of the 
law. It is nothing that of all men living I am the 
greatest loser by it. It is nothing that I have a claim 
to speak and be heard. The wonder is that a breathing 
man can be found with temerity enough to suggest to 
the Americans the possibility of their having done 
wrong. I wish you could have seen the faces that I 
saw, down both sides of the table at Hartford, when 
I began to talk about Scott. I wish you could have 
heard how I gave it out. My blood so boiled as I 
thought of the monstrous injustice that I felt as if I 
were twelve feet high when I thrust it down their 
throats. 

"I had no sooner made the second speech than such 



35 

an outcry began ... as an Englishman can form 

no notion of The dinner committee 

here, . . . were so dismayed that they besought 

me not to pursue the subject I answered 

that I would; that nothing should deter me, that the 
shame was theirs, not mine; and that, as I would not 
spare them when I got home, I would not be silenced 
here. Accordingly, when the night came, I asserted 
my right, with all the means I could command to give 
it dignity, in face, manner, or words." 

His early letters home seemed friendly enough; but by 
the time he left Baltimore for his western trip he had found 
it difficult and probably impossible to arouse in the public 
mind the interest he felt in copyright matters, and the tone 
of his letters changed to accord with his feeling of disap- 
pointment. His unfavorable impressions of the country 
deepened as he dwelt on the obstinacy of the American 
people; and to this is due, largely, the spirit the Notes every- 
where manifest. It was to be expected, of course, that he 
would on his return home write a book — an account of 
his experiences and impressions while in the United States; 
but it was not supposed that the volume would be filled 
with sneers and caricatures. 

His perfervid letters quoted above and many others like 
them to his friends at home show that while he came to 
gather materials to write a book about America, he desired 
quite as much to do what he could while here to secure in 
this country a fair remuneration for his literary labors, 
commensurate somewhat with what the people here were 
profiting by them. These two objects were well nigh one 
and the same. He was under contract to write a book 
about 'Merrika and 'Merrikans, and he very justly desired 
that it and his other books sold here should bring a proper 
return for their production. 

From 1842 to 1891, we have the long period of forty- 
nine years, and yet it was not until March 3, 1891, that the 
United States extended to foreign authors the same privi- 



36 

leges extended by their governments to authors here. 
Dickens' American Notes and his denunciatory letters and 
addresses, as might have been expected, put off thus long 
anything like international copyright. 

But how shall we describe the book and tell why he made 
it what it is and not some other kind of a volume. It 
needs no description. It speaks for itself. In all the 
annals of literature or history it has no equal. If in man 
there are two natures, the one good and the other evil, it is 
out of the latter in Dickens that the American Notes issued. 
Its pages fairly vie with each other and alternate with a 
sneer and a caricature, affording the strongest evidences 
that he was paying a debt to a supposed enemy or getting 
even with him. — Revenge is a very hard word, but in 
attempting to account for the tone or temper of the author 
in his production of the Notes, that word seems the most 
appropriate. It is useless to quote from the volume. One 
cannot select. The whole book would have to be copied. 
He wrote Forster, as just quoted, that he would not spare 
the country when he got home. He did not spare it; on the 
contrary, he speared it, speared it through and through, 
its government, its men, its women, its civilization. When 
he wrote Pickwick he spoke of 'Merrika and 'Merrikans, 
and of blowing 'em up. A trip here and the kind of a blow- 
ing up he would give the 'Merrikans, were even at that 
early day in his mind. He wrote that he came to America 
a friend of Republican government, but that his five months 
nearer view of it and its people had made him a monarchist. 
While at Cincinnati, April 4th and Sth, 1842, Judge Timo- 
thy Walker entertained him and Mrs. Dickens with as fine 
a company as could be brought together almost anywhere 
and showed them every possible courtesy; and yet in his 
diary he wrote of the guests of his host as follows: — "In 
the evening we went to a party at Walker's and were introduced 
to at least one hundred and fifty first-rate bores, separately 
and singly." A little further down the river and at Louis- 
ville, he stopped at the widely-known Gait House, whose 
proprietor was Mr. Throckmorton, a high-strung southerner 



37 

of much character and influence and an intimate friend of 
Clay, Crittenden, and a great many other distinguished 
men. Mr. Dickens had not been there long when Mr. 
Throckmorton called upon him and offered his services in 
introducing him to the prominent families of the city, 
and of other parts of the State, attracted there by the pre- 
sence of the great writer. To Mr. Throckmorton's inquiries 
and tender of courtesies Mr. Dickens replied : — "Sir, are you 
the publican who keeps this inn?" "Yes, Sir" replied 
Throckmorton. "Then" said Mr. Dickens, "when I have 
need for your services, I will ring for you." 

Mr. Wilkins, in his Charles Dickens in America, does not 
vouch for this last story, but says that he found it in a 
number of the Courier Journal of 1870. Wilkins might have 
safely vouched for it; for if Dickens could write of Judge 
Walker's guests and say that at his residence he and Mrs. 
Dickens were introduced to one hundred and fifty first rate 
bores, separately and singly, it would be entirely safe to 
affirm that he addressed Mr. Throckmorton at the Gait 
House as above stated. 

I do not say that by these two or three instances we must 
judge all; but just go through the book and cull out of it 
all the like natured references to us, our government and 
our people, and you will see how little is left of the volume. 

Dickens had his revenge. He paid his debt of enmity 
and with good measure, pressed down, shaken together and 
running over. Many of his letters home were written in 
the heat of passion, such as is exhibited in the two letters 
above quoted; but the book was written after an age for 
cooling had elapsed. Moreover, his wrath was carefully 
nursed. It slumbered for a little time and then broke out 
again in Chuzzlewit. Not until twenty-five years had 
passed did it seem to have exhausted itself. In 1867 he 
again visited the country he had so maliciously insulted and 
traduced. One wonders at his coming a second time, and 
also, that coming, he should have been received in most 
places as if his American Notes had been as friendly as was 
DeTocqueville's Democracy in America. 



38 

If Dickens was such a saint in literature and is to be 
beatified in America, how is it that he came to us a republi- 
can and looking us over from head to foot for five months 
went home a monarchist? If the French Bourbon forgets 
nothing, the 'Merrikan Republican seems to forget every- 
thing. Dickens did not apologize for his villifications of 
'42; he couldn't. There was too much of it. The whole 
tour would have been consumed in apologetic work. He 
put on a brave front, if such an expression is allowable, and 
said, "I am the Englishman who was here in '42; what 
have you to say?" Well, what did they say? Why, only 
this, "We welcome you." He did not fall on their necks, 
however, but they fell on his, forgetting entirely what a 
shocking sort of people he said they were — in '42. 

By way of extenuation, let me say that in Dickens' day 
Englishmen hated the United States with a hearty good 
will, equaled only by the hearty good will with which the 
Americans hated them. He knew better than any one 
else that Englishmen did not want to read anything good 
of or about the United States. He wrote chiefly for them; 
but he knew that his books would soon reach the States 
where foreign books were freely published and that as 
Americans were to have his books free of charge almost he 
would make it somewhat like the little book in the Apoca- 
lypse; it was to be as honey in the mouths of Englishmen, 
but in the stomachs of Americans it was to be very bitter. 

If this article is not of an extremely friendly nature so 
far as relates to the elder Dickens, it may be explained if not 
extenuated, by saying that it is a historical fact that the 
little junction city long had a struggling existence not be- 
cause it was between the devil and the deep sea, but be- 
cause it was between two deep rivers on the one hand, and 
Dickens on the other. Dickens has now remained with it 
as long as the rivers, and many persons say he will remain 
with it as long as the rivers run or as long as the maligned 
city exists as a monument to the great novelist. Like 
Joseph's brethren, he seems to have thought to do it evil, 
but it is to be hoped that Heaven will turn it into good. 



39 

It seems slow about it, however. The reproaches he had 
for the whole country he seemed to pile upon the village at 
the confluence, where his slimy Mississippi, which he had 
hoped never to see again, surges into the Ohio. The 
detestable morass in the one book became the ironical Eden 
of the other; and one is almost constrained to say that por- 
tions of the income from Pickwick and Oliver Twist must 
have found their way into the dismal swamp, his descrip- 
tion of which none could equal, but which was as untruth- 
ful as it was strikingly forceful. 

(I may here state that the younger Dickens, while in 
Cairo recently, said his father had at no time invested in 
Cairo bonds or had any kind of financial interests in the 
place ; but the son was not born until 1844, four or five years 
after the investment, if one was made; and it is altogether 
likely that the incident of the investment was never men- 
tioned in the Dickens family, at Gads' Hill or elsewhere.) 

But the little city has borne its reproaches with becom- 
ing patience, seeming to believe that all things come to him 
who waits. It has forgotten its former floods and well nigh 
its blowing up or down by the versatile Englishman in '42. 



I have neither time nor space to speak of the good in 
Dickens as a man nor of his books as literary productions. 
Of the latter men everywhere seem to speak extravagantly, 
but speaking with such unanimity shows that they cannot, 
perhaps, speak too extravagantly. The American Notes 
was perhaps his poorest book. Macaulay said as much. 
In England the American Notes will do little to preserve 
the author's memory. In the United States, it, more 
than any other book from his pen, will carry his name along 
until these States shall cease to be the United States or 
until they shall become some other nation than that of 
which he wrote. 

("The satire of the book is malicious satire, and Dickens' 
letters make it too evident that he himself regarded it as an 
essential part of the controversy that had been aroused, 
as does the introductory chapter which was suppressed at 



40 

the time by the advice of friends, but which was printed in 
the second volume of Mr. Forster's biography.") Charles 
H. Jones. 

Of such a man one cannot say much in a mere article. 
Of Dickens, almost apart from his books, a writer might 
fill not a few pages but a whole number of such a journal 
as this. 

(Dickens' heart was in David Copperfield. He liked 
it best of all his writings; a sad picture it was; too much 
of biography and autobiography in it, many have said.) 



And now let me say of his son, Alfred Tennyson Dickens, 
in addition to what Mr. Perrin, in the January Journal has 
so well said of him, that he spent November 30th and 
December 1st and 2d, 1911, in Cairo. He was entertained at 
the residence of Mayor George Parsons all that time. He 
was given a public reception at the fine building of the 
Alexander Club, Thursday afternoon, November 30th. 
No affair of the kind ever occurred in Cairo which was so 
generally attended and so well enjoyed by its citizens, and 
we believe it was equally as well enjoyed and appreciated 
by Mr. Dickens. In the evening of that day he delivered 
his lecture at the Cairo Opera House to a fine audience. 
On that occasion he introduced his lecture by a most beau- 
tiful reference to what his father had written of the place 
and of the great, not to say amazing, contrast between 
what his father must have seen when here and what he, 
his son, now saw. His lecture was a review somewhat of 
his father's life as a writer and of a number of his most 
noted books. He seemed to place above all others A 
Tale of Two Cities. At the close of his lecture he was pre- 
sented by the Mayor of the City with a number of very 
appropriate mementoes, which highly pleased him. On 
Friday evening a reception was given him at the residence 
of the mayor, on which occasion, after one or two short 
addresses, the principal one by the Hon. Walter Warder, 
Mr. Dickens addressed the company in a most interest- 
ing and admirable manner. All present were delighted 




Alfred Tennyson Dickens 



41 

with his most beautiful words, expressive of the great 
pleasure given him in his entertainment by Mayor Parsons 
and his daughter, Mrs. Peabody. Parts of Friday and 
Saturday were spent in driving through Alexander and 
Pulaski counties, parts of the latter of which, with its hills 
and fine improvements, reminded him, he said, of some parts 
of Scotland. He desired to see some parts of the city 
which might still look as did Cairo to his father in 1842. 
The dense woods were all gone, and there only remained in 
one or two more distant places the low uneven grounds, 
very much as they were when the waters of the two rivers 
annually commingled over them. He left the city saying 
to his host and hostess and many others that the three days 
spent here had been of the most pleasant of his life. 

He was then in his sixty-seventh year. He had left 
England in his twentieth year for Australia, where he re- 
mained the long period of forty-five years, not having 
returned to England at any time uiitil very near the cen- 
tennial year of his father's birth. His sudden death in 
New York City, January 2d, 1912, was deeply regretted here 
where he had made many new friends, to whom he ex- 
pressed the hope that he might soon come again. But to 
many of us he did not seem strong enough for the trip or 
tour he was making; and so it proved; and now his last 
resting place is in the church-yard of Trinity Church, 
New York, so worthy to receive into its bosom a son of one 
of the very greatest literary writers of our language. 

(Note. — How vain is our boasting! In the foregoing article I speak of 
the city having forgotten its former floods; and yet, before the proof reaches 
me from the printer's hands, we are found contesting against a flood much 
greater than any which have occurred since its attempted foundation in 1818. 
Until this year, April, 1912, our highest known floods occurred in the con- 
secutive years of 1882, 1883 and 1884 — the water reaching February 25th, 
1882, 51.8 feet; February 26th, 1883, 52.2 feet; February 24th, 1884, 51.8 
feet; and this year and now, April 8th, 1912, and for the last few days, 
54 feeU We have had no overflow or broken levee since June 12th 1858, 54 
years ago, and do not expect to have one now, but it looks more than pos- 
sible. Almost always the highest water in the Ohio occurs about three 
months before the highest in the Mississippi. This year it came a month 
later in the Ohio and two months earlier in the Mississippi — a conjunction 
that has not occurred before for one hundred years. — J. M. L.)