NEW YORK, Saturday, October 12, 1878.
Bang! click! the desk closes, the key turns, and good-bye for a year to my wards—that goodly cluster over which I have watched with parental solicitude for many a day; their several cribs full of records and labelled Union Iron Mills, Lucy Furnaces, Keystone Bridge Works, Union Forge, Cokevale Works, and last, but not least, that infant Hercules, the Edgar Thomson Steel Rail Works—good lusty bairns all, and well calculated to survive in The struggle for existence—great things are expected of them in The future, but for the present I bid them farewell; I'm off for a holiday, and the rise and fall of iron and steel "affecteth me not."
Years ago, Vandy, Harry, and I, standing in the very bottom of the crater of Mount Vesuvius, where we had roasted eggs and drank to the success of our next trip, resolved that some day, instead of turning back as we had then to do, we would make a tour round the Ball. My first return to Scotland and journey through Europe was an epoch in my life, I had so early in my days determined to do it; to-day another epoch comes—our tour fulfils another youthful aspiration. There is a sense of supreme satisfaction in carrying out these early dreams which I think nothing else can give, it is such a triumph to realize one's castles in the air. Other dreams remain, which in good time also must come to pass; for nothing can defeat these early inborn hopes, if one lives, and if death comes there is, until the latest day, the exaltation which comes from victory if one but continues true to his guiding star and manfully struggles on.
And now what to take for the long weary hours! for travellers know that sight-seeing is hard work, and that the ocean wave may become monotonous. I cannot carry a whole library with me. Yes, even this can be done; mother's thoughtfulness solves the problem, for she gives me Shakespeare, in thirteen small handy volumes. Come, then, my Shakespeare, you alone of all the mighty past shall be my sole companion. I seek none else; there is no want when you are near, no mood when you are not welcome—a library indeed, and I look forward with great pleasure to many hours' communion with you on lonely seas—a lover might as well sigh for more than his affianced as I for any but you. A twitch of conscience here. You ploughman bard, who are so much to me, are you then forgotten? No, no, Robin, no need of taking you in my trunk; I have you in my heart, from "A man's a man for a that" to "My Nannie's awa'."
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PITTSBURGH, Thursday, October 17.
What is this? A telegram! "Belgic sails from San Francisco 24th instead of 28th." Can we make it? Yes, travelling direct and via Omaha, and not seeing Denver as intended. All right! through we go, and here we are at St. Louis Friday morning, and off for Omaha to catch the Saturday morning train for San Francisco. If we miss but one connection we shall reach San Francisco too late. But we sha'n't. Having courted the fickle goddess assiduously, and secured her smiles, we are not going to lose faith in her now, come what may....