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1931: A GLANCE AT THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

by

HENRY HARTSHORNE.

"Coming Events Cast Their Shadows Before."







Philadelphia:
E. Claxton & Co.,
930 Market Street.
1881.

Copyright secured.
1881.

Collins, Printer.




The contents of the following pages are taken from a diary, supposed to
be written in 1931, by a gentleman of leisure and good opportunities for
observation.

Should any reader be inclined to hold the editor or author responsible
for what is thus recorded, be it remembered that very little is expressed
concerning what _ought_ to be; the chief purpose being to show rather what
will _probably occur_.




1931:

A GLANCE AT THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.




_January 1, 1931._


I begin to-day to jot down occasional notes of whatever interests me
most, in private or public affairs.

* * * * *

Much sympathy is just now felt everywhere for the ex-queen of England in
her enforced retirement. She would have been perfectly safe in returning
to England; and she will, probably, before long, again take up her
residence at Osborne or Balmoral; but the extreme unpopularity of the
ex-king makes his return at least undesirable.

During our present, 71st Congress, meeting at St. Louis, a motion will
be made by a member from Texas for the admission of Mexico as a State.
When this is effected, Mexico will be the fifty-second State of our
Union. Some Senators are understood to doubt the advantage to the
country, at the present time, of this admission, on account of the
constitutionally unsettled character of the population. Since
Protestantism has so generally prevailed there, however, Mexico is said
to have greatly improved. The acceptance of the whole of Central
America, in the form of three Territories, must soon follow. For this
also, but little can be urged, except the now very old argument of
"manifest destiny." Commercial men say that it is time for this
extension to be made, on account of the growing importance of
interoceanic navigation, by the three routes, of Panama, Nicaragua, and
Tehuantepec. Our large trade with Japan and China requires, besides the
steamers running between San Francisco, Yokohama, and Hong Kong every
two weeks, more frequent and quick water transit from Philadelphia, New
York, Boston, and Baltimore, through one or other of these Isthmian
routes.

It has been abundantly shown that the anticipation of some speculative
persons, that the course of the Gulf Stream, and consequently the
climate of Western Europe, might be altered by cutting through the
isthmus, and thus connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, was
altogether erroneous. No change whatever in the direction, rate of
motion, or temperature of the great current has been observed. It is too
majestic a movement to be so affected.

It is remarkable how entirely mistaken, also, those croaking prophets
were, who formerly supposed that much addition to the old United States
would make a cumbrous and impracticable political aggregate. Since the
principle that only honest men shall be placed in public offices has
been adopted throughout the nation, local administration of local
affairs harmonizes so well with a central national government
controlling general interests, that all works smoothly yet; even with
the addition of the three great States which once formed the Dominion of
Canada, and the outlying territories of Greenland, Labrador, Hawaii,
Cuba, and St. Domingo.

A motion made in the House last year, but then postponed rather than
defeated, will probably come up again in Congress at this session:
namely, to hold the meeting of Congress every third year in San
Francisco. Alternation between Washington and St. Louis has now worked
well for eleven years; and Western men are getting clamorous about their
right to the same privilege in turn. Capitalists of San Francisco offer
to contribute five millions of dollars towards the erection of the
western Capitol, besides building and fitting out a Presidential mansion
in their city. This is handsome; and, since the central Capitol at St.
Louis, now nearly finished, has involved the expenditure of about twelve
millions, such liberality may be needful for the success of the project.
One of the California Senators has written an article on this topic in
the last number of the _North American Review_. He proposes, among other
things, that a statue of Abraham Lincoln shall be erected in front of
the Capitol at St. Louis, and one of William Penn at that of San
Francisco. At the three seats of government we shall then have
perpetuated the memory of the three noblest and most era-making of
American statesmen: Penn, representing the grandeur and security of
Christian justice and peace; Washington, loyalty to national
independence and republican institutions; Lincoln, the triumph, by
sacrifice, of liberty throughout our continent.

* * * * *

This mention of Abraham Lincoln suggests some retrospection. I remember
that when, sixteen years ago, in 1915, our national debt was all finally
paid off, great exultation was felt. In a Fourth-of-July oration at
Omaha, the speaker, a young colored lawyer, referring to the civil war
of 1861-65, as so largely adding to the national debt, said that his
grandfather was one of the first men of color who ever sat in the Senate
of the United States. Now, there are eight colored Senators, and fifteen
members of the House. Of direct African descent also, are the Governor
of Louisiana, and the Mayor of the city of Richmond, Virginia; the
immediate predecessor of the latter having been a member of one of the
oldest historical cavalier families of that State. The general officer
in command at West Point, too, is a colored gentleman, of excellent
reputation and qualifications. All prejudice of race, in fact, has now
very much disappeared, and is looked back upon as a preposterous error
of the past. Indian members of Congress number this session at least
seven--two Senators, Cherokees, and five members of the House from the
two new States formed from what was once the Indian Territory. The white
population of those States is also well represented in the Senate and in
the House.

We learn that the United States of South America are at present holding
their eighth biennial Congress at Lima, Peru. Brazil continues friendly;
but the people of that nation still treasure the traditions and usages
of their Empire. The constitutional limitations of Brazil, nevertheless,
make it imperial only in name and form; it is as liberal as was the
government of Great Britain in the latter days of its monarchy.

* * * * *

We thought it a great deal for the English people, twenty-five years
ago, to abolish the place of the House of Lords in their government; or
even, before that, so completely to disestablish the once powerful
Church of England. But the monarchy! What seemed so permanent as that?
Who would have thought, fifty years ago, in good Queen Victoria's
reign, that some persons then living might come to know of her throne
being as vacant, nay, as utterly overturned, as the Palace of the
Cęsars!

It is one evidence of the old conservatism of the British nation, so
terribly shattered now, that the rank, titles, and estates of the
nobility are still left to them; with the qualification, that the eldest
son is entitled by law to only twice the share of each of the other
heirs of the estate; and the whole of any property may be sequestered,
by legal process, for debt.

Probably, now, the exodus of British nobles to this country, as well as
to the continent of Europe, so active already during the last decade or
two, will increase considerably. Marriage of American ladies with
lordlings, earls, and even dukes, is scarcely very rare at present; it
may be expected soon to become almost as common, at least, as such
titles are. It is whispered that it is not entirely impossible that the
ex-king and queen, with the royal family, may come hereafter to reside
at New Belgravia, in California, where several thousands of acres have
been latterly bought and occupied as estates, by English noblemen; or,
perhaps more probably, in Loudon County, Virginia; where the Dukes of
Cambridge and of Devonshire both own splendid properties.

* * * * *

No wonder that the Republic of Great Britain and Ireland should differ
chiefly from ours, in the greater share of power allotted to the Upper
House. If men of rank will (as some of them have already done) wisely
accept the inevitable change, and, with full loyalty to the Republic,
seek, or allow themselves, to be elected to places in the new
Parliament, they may, as Senators, exercise a power and skill in
legislation, which will be beneficial not only to their own order, but
to their country. They have the advantage of us, in England, in the
presidential term being ten years; ours, with difficulty, having been
prolonged only to eight. I believe that the preservation of the rank and
property of the aristocracy during the critical times just past, and,
indeed, the bloodless character of the revolution altogether,--have been
mainly due to the sagacious policy of a number of noblemen of large
influence;--especially the Argylls in Scotland and the Derbys and Dukes
of Northumberland and Bedford, in England, in timely bending to the
storm; yielding, step by step, what _must_ be yielded, and so keeping
more than if they had resisted all changes to the bitter end.

Especially do they now reap a reward for the good work of the
Anglo-Irish Landlords' League; who, with their fitting motto, "_Noblesse
oblige_," so liberally purchased from the old landlords, some years
since, most of the properties in the distressed and disturbed parts both
of England and Ireland, and sold them out in small farms to the
peasantry.



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