Puslapio vaizdai

and the Labbadies were the principal merchants; French and English schools flourished; peltry, lead and whisky were used for currency, and negroes were to be purchased for them; the semi-Indian garb of the trapper was seen at every street corner; and thousands of furs, stripped from the buffalo and the beaver, were exported to New Orleans. The mineral wealth lying within a hundred miles of St. Louis had hardly been dreamed of; the colonists were too busy in killing Indians and keeping order in the town, to think of iron, lead, coal and zinc.

The compromise which gave the domain of Missouri to slavery checked the growth of the state until after it had passed through the ordeal of the war. How then it sprang up, like a young giant, confident in the plenitude of its strength, all the world knows! St. Louis, under free institutions, has won more prosperity in ten years than under the old régime it would have attained in fifty. It is now a cosmopolitan capital, rich in social life and energy, active in commerce, and acute in the struggle for the supremacy of trade in the South-west. The ante-bellum spirit is rarely manifested now-a-days; progress is the motto even of those men of the old school who prayed that they might die when they first saw that "bleeding Kansas" had indeed bled to some purpose, and that a new era of trade and labor had arrived. The term "conservative" is one of reproach in St. Louis to-day; and the unjust slur of the Chicagoan, to the effect that the Missou

[ocr errors][merged small]

rian metropolis is "slow," puts new fire into the blood of her every inhabitant. After the ravages of the war, both state and city found themselves free from the major evils attendant upon reconstruction, and entered unimpeded upon a prosperous career. The one hundred thousand freedmen have never constituted a troublesome element in the state; no political exigencies have impeded immigration or checked the investment of capital; and the commonwealth, with an area of more than 67,000 square miles of fertile lands, with two millions of inhabitants, and eleven hundred millions of dollars worth of taxable property; with a thousand miles of navigable rivers within and upon her boundaries, and with vast numbers of frugal Germans constantly coming to turn her untilled acres into rich farms, can safely carry and in due time throw off the various heavy obligations incurred in the building of the railway lines now traversing it in every direction. The present actual indebtedness of the state is nearly nineteen millions, for more than half of which sum bonds have been issued.

The approaches to St. Louis from the Illinois side of the Mississippi are not especially fascinating, and give but a poor idea of the extent of the city. Alighting from some one of the many trains which enter East St. Louis from almost every direction, one sees before him a steep bank, paved with "murderous stones," and the broad, deep, resistless current of the great river, flowing swiftly, and bearing on its bosom tree trunks and branches from far away forests. East St. Louis stands upon famous ground; its alluvial acres, which the capricious stream in past days covered every year with its waters, have been the scene of many fierce contests under the requirements of the so called code of honor, and its sobriquet was once 'Bloody Island." It is now a prosperous town; hotels, warehouses and depots stand on the ancient duelling spot; immense grain elevators and wharves have been erected on the ground which the river once claimed as its own. Huge ferryboats ply constantly across the river; but the railway omnibuses and the ferry-boats are soon to be but memories of the past, for the graceful arches of the new bridge are completed, and trains can cross the Mississippi to a grand union depot in the center of St. Louis. The crowd awaiting transportation across the stream has always



been of the most cosmopolitan and motley character. There may be seen the German emigrant, flat-capped and dressed in coarse black, with his quaintly-attired wife and rosy children clinging to him; the tall and angular Texan drover, with his defiant glance at the primly-dressed cockneys around him; the "poor white" from some far southern state, with his rifle grasped in his lean hand, and his astonished stare at the extent of brick and stone walls beyond the river; the excursion party from the east, with its maps and guide books, and its mountains of baggage; the little groups of English tourists, with their mysterious hampers and packets, bound toward Denver or Omaha; the tired and ill-uniformed company of troops "on transfer" to some remote frontier fortress; the smart merchant in his carriage, with his elegantly dressed negro driver standing by the restive horses; the hordes of over-clothed young commercial men from the Northern and Western cities, with their mouths distended by Havana cigars, and filled with the slang of half a dozen capitals; and the hundreds of negroes, who throng the levees in summer, but in winter depart like the swallows, feeling even the slightest hint of snow, or of the fog which from time to time heightens the resemblance of the Missourian city to London. The levee on each side of the river, in days before the bridge was built, was a kind of pandemonium. An unending procession of wagons loaded with coal, was always forcing its way from

the ferry boats up the bank to the streets of St. Louis, the tatterdemalion drivers urging on the plunging and kicking mules with frantic shouts of "Look at ye!" You dar!" These wagons, in busy days, were constantly surrounded by the in-coming droves of stock, wild Texan cattle, who with great leaps and flourish of horns objected to entering the gangways of the ferry, and now and then tossed their tormentors high in the air; and troops of swine, bespattered with mud, and dabbled with blood drawn from them by the thrusts of the enraged horsemen pursuing them. Added to this indescribable tumult were the lumbering wagon trains laden with iron or copper, wearily making their way to the boats; the loungers about the curbstones, singing rude plantation songs, or scuffling boisterously; the nameless ebb-tide of immigration scattered through a host of low and villainous barrooms and saloons, whose very entrances seemed suspicious; and the gangs of roustabouts rolling boxes, barrels, hogsheads and bales, from morning to night, from wagon to wharf, and from wharf to wagon. Below the bridge, the river, gradually broadening out, was covered with coal barges and steam tugs, and above it, along the banks, one saw, as now one still sees, dark masses of homely buildings, elevators, iron foundries, and hosts of manufactories; while along the shore thousands of logs, fastened together in rafts, are moored.


The old French quarter of the town is now entirely given up to business, and but little of the Gallic element is left in St. Louis. Some of the oldest and wealthiest families are of French descent, and retain the language and manners of their ancestors; but in the exterior there are few traces of the domination of the French. Some souvenirs yet remain; streets, both English and American in aspect, bear the names of the vanished Gauls. Laclede has a monument in the form of a mammoth hotel; and the principal outlying ward of the city, crowded with vast rolling mills, and iron and zinc furnaces, is called Carondelet. On the Illinois side of the river the village of Cahokia still lingers, a mossgrown relic of a decayed civilization, and

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

its venerable church, Notre Dame des Kahokias, is the most ancient building in the West. But from the young metropolis all visible memorials have vanished. Not one of the great circular stone towers, erected in early times as defences against the Indians, remain; block houses and bastions have been replaced by massive residences, in which live the merchant princes of the day. "The Hill" is traversed in every direction by horse railroads; and a few minutes' ride will take one from the roar of business into a quiet and elegant section, where there are miles of beautiful and costly dwelling-houses. As the ridges rise from the river, so rise the grades of the social status. Mingled with the wholesale establishments, and the offices of mining and railway companies in Main and Second Streets, parallel with the river, are hundreds of dirty and unhealthy tenement houses; on Fourth, and Fifth, and Sixth Streets, and those running at right angles with them, are the principal hotels, the more elegant of the shops and stores, the fashionable restaurants, and the few places of amusement which the city boasts; beyond, on the upper ridges, stretching back to Grand Avenue, which extends along the summit of the hill, are the homes of the wealthy. The passion for suburban residences is fast taking possession of the citizens of St. Louis, and

several beautiful towns have sprung up within a few miles of the city, all of which are crowded with charming country houses. Lucas Place is the Fifth Avenue of St. Louis, and is very rich in costly homes, surrounded by noble gardens. The houses there have not been touched by the almost omnipresent smoke which seems to hover over the lower portion of the town. In Lucas Place lived the noted Benton, and there he foamed, fretted, planned his duels, nourished his feuds, and matured his magnificent. ideas. The avenues which bear the names of Washington, Franklin, Lindell, McPherson, Baker, Laclede and Chouteau all give promise of future magnificence. St. Louis is not rich in public buildings, although many of the recent structures devoted to business are grand and imposing. The hotels partake of the grandeur which distinguishes their counterparts of other cities; on Fourth and Fifth Streets there are many elegant blocks. The street life is varied. and attractive, as in most southern towns; and the auction store is one of the salient features which surprise a stranger. doors of these establishments are wide open from sunrise until midnight, and the jargon of the auctioneer can be heard ringing loudly above the rattle of wheels. The genius who presides behind the counter is

usually some graduate of the commerce of the far South. Accustomed to dealing with the ignorant and unsuspecting, his eloquence is a curious compound of insolence and pleading. He has a quaint stock of phrases, made up of the slang of the river, and the slums of cities, and he begins by placing an extravagant price upon the article which he wishes to sell, and then decreasing its value until he brings it down to the range of his customers. On Saturday evenings the street life is as animated as that of an European city. In the populous quarters the Irish and Germans throng the sidewalks, marketing and amusing themselves until midnight; and in the fashionable sections the ladies, seated in the porches and on the front doorsteps of their mansions, receive the visits of their friends. A drive through dozens of streets in the upper portion of the city discloses hundreds of groups of ladies and gentlemen thus seated in the open air, whither they have transferred the etiquette of the parlor. A far more delightful and agreeable social freedom prevails in the city than in any eastern community. The stranger is heartily welcome, and the fact that most of the ladies have been educated both in the East and the West, acquiring the cultture of the former, and the frankness and cordiality of the latter, adds a charm both to their conversation and their beauty. At the more aristocratic and elegant of the German beer gardens, such as "Uhrig's" and "Schneider's," the representatives of many prominent American families may be seen on the concert evenings, drinking the amber fluid, and listening to the music of Strauss, of Gungl, or Meyerbeer. Groups of elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen resort to the gardens in the same manner as do the denizens of Dresden and Berlin, and no longer regard the custom as a dangerous German innovation. The German element in St. Louis is powerful, and has for the last thirty years been merging in the American, giving to it many of the hearty features and graces of European life, which have been emphatically rejected by the native population of the more austere Eastern States. In like manner the German has borrowed many traits from his American fellow-citizens, and in another generation the fusion of races will be pretty thoroughly accomplished. Sa

now in St. Louis, and the whole Teutonic population, including the children born in the city of German parents, probably exceeds one hundred and fifty thousand. The original emigration from Germany to Missouri was from the thinking classes-professional men, politicians condemned to exile, writers, musicians and philosophers, and these have aided immensely in the development of the State. The emigration began in 1830, but after a few hundreds had come out it fell off again, and was not revived until 1848, when the revolution sent us a new crop of patriots and statesmen whose mother country was afraid of them. Always a loyal and industrious element, believing in the whole country, and in the principles of freedom, they kept Missouri, in the troublous times preceding and during the war, from many excesses. The working people are a treasure to the State. Arriving, as a rule, with little or nothing, they hoard every penny until they have enough with which to purchase an acre or two of land, and in a few years become well-todo citizens, orderly and contented. The whole country for miles around St. Louis is dotted with German settlements; the market gardens are mainly controlled by them; and their farms are models of thorough cultivation. In commerce they have mingled liberally with the Americans; names of both nationalities are allied in


There are more than fifty thousand native Germans, from beyond the Atlantic,


banking and in all the great wholesale businesses; and the older German residents speak their adopted as well as their native tongue. At the time of my visit, a German was president of the city council, and bank presidents, directors of companies, and men highly distinguished in business and society, who boast German descent, are counted by hundreds.

German journalism in St. Louis is noteworthy. Carl Schurz and his life-long friend and present partner, Mr. Pretorius, are known throughout the country as distinguished journalists, and have even, as we have seen in these later days, played no small role upon the stage of national politics. The failure of the Liberal movement rather astonished the masses of the Germans in Missouri, who had the most unwavering confidence in the ability of Schurz to accomplish whatever he chose; and has left them somewhat undecided as to what future course to pursue. There are four daily German newspapers in St. Louis, one of which has been recently planted there by the Catholics, who have also started a clever weekly, in the hope of aiding in the fight against the new principles put in force by the Prussian Government-principles, of course, largely reflected among the Germans in America. The sturdy intellectual life of the Teuton is well set forth in these papers, which are of excellent ability. The uselessness of the attempt to maintain a separate national feeling was shown in the case of the famous "Germania" Club, which, in starting, had for its cardinal principle the non-admission




of Americans; but at the present time there are two hundred American names upon its list of membership. The assimilation goes on even more rapidly than the Germans themselves suppose; it is apparent in the manners of the children, and in the speech of the elders.

. German social and home-life has, of course, kept much of its original flavor. There are whole sections of the city where the Teuton predominates, and takes his ease at evening in the beer garden and

the arbor in his own yard. At the summer-opera one sees him in his glory. Entering a modest doorway on Fourth street, one is ushered through a long room, in which ladies, with their children, and groups of elegantly dressed men are chatting and drinking beer, into the opera-house, a cheery little hall, where very fashionable audiences assemble to hear the new and old operas throughout a long season. The singing is usually exceedingly good, and the mise en scène quite satisfactory. Between the acts the audience refreshes itself with beer and soda-water, and the hum of conversation lasts until the

« AnkstesnisTęsti »