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WESTWARD BY RAIL
FROM THE MERSEY TO THE HUDSON.
BEFORE ARRIVING at the station, it is sometimes necessary to pass through an ordeal as trying as any encountered during the course of an expedition by rail. The distance to be traversed, the character of the conveyance, the space of time within which to catch the train, are considerations which have all to be taken into account, and of which each may contribute something towards rendering the traveller anxious and uncomfortable. My preliminary journey was neither short nor easy. Prior to travelling Westward by Rail,' I had to traverse three thousand miles of a stormy ocean, and undergo the chances and changes incident to a voyage extending over ten weary days. By many persons a trip across the Atlantic is regarded as a commonplace and uninteresting excursion. According to them, it is as much a thing of everyday
occurrence as the passage of the Channel or a sail up the Rhine. It is true that, with a memorable and immortal exception, a narrative of a voyage to America has ceased to inspire universal and abiding interest. The unknown sea has been transformed into the ocean highway. Yet to those who make the voyage for the first time, the sensation is as novel and impressive as it was to the daring mariners who unveiled the mysteries of an unexplored deep, and dazzled mankind with the spectacle of a new world. In the hope of noting a few particulars not wholly devoid of general interest, I venture to repeat what is in the main an old and a hackneyed tale.
About nine o'clock one Saturday morning, towards the end of August 1869, I formed one of a group on the deck of the tender Satellite, which was to convey the passengers for New York from the Prince's Landing-stage to the Cunard steamer China, lying at anchor in the Mersey. On another tender the luggage was being piled up without delay. Porters, staggering under the weight of huge trunks, portmanteaus, and leathern bags, followed each other in rapid succession. This was
no new sight, but it differed in one respect from everything of the sort which I had witnessed elsewhere. Nearly every passenger seemed to be the
possessor of one of those cane-bottomed arm-chairs which are arranged so as to fold together till they are nearly flat. These chairs I had seen exposed for sale in several of the Liverpool shops, but I did not even imagine that they formed a necessary part of the outfit of those who sailed across the sea. Greatly to my surprise, I learned that those who failed to bring their own chairs could not expect to be comfortably seated on the deck of a well-found Cunarder. This piece of information diminished my respect for the company which boasts of never having lost a letter or a passenger, and which makes its reputation an apology for charging more than any other for a passage across the Atlantic.
Soon after stepping on board the China, I gained another item of knowledge, which would have been very useful, had it not been acquired too late. A rush was made to the saloon by those passengers who knew the importance of being the first to perform the simple ceremony of affixing their cards to the places at table which they wished to occupy during the voyage. Those who omitted to do this, or who were ignorant of the advantage of being ranked among the first comers, were doomed to the discomfort of sitting where the unpleasant effects caused by the rotation of the screw-propeller were even more to be dreaded than the motion of the