[Rev. William Andrew Wilson, Minister of New Row Presbyterian Church, Coleraine.] Corrected Typescripts of two drafts of an account of 'my Month Among the Americans' (New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, Washington, Boston, Niagara) and Canada.

Author: 
Rev. William Andrew Wilson (1869-1918), Minister of New Row Presbyterian Church, Coleraine, father of the poet R. N. D. Wilson [Robert Noble Denison Wilson] (1899-1953)
Publication details: 
Beginning on the last day of Wilson's Atlantic crossing, Liverpool to New York, 9 to 17 August 1905; ending at the start of the return journey on the Majestic, one month later.
£780.00
SKU: 21894

Three carbon typescripts, each with extensive autograph emendations. All three in good condition, lightly aged. Comprising two substantially-different drafts of an article titled 'America', the second draft with a supplemental five-page section titled 'Niagara'. Well-written, entertaining, lightly-humorous accounts of a trip to America and Canada in 1905. ONE and TWO ('America'). The first (earlier?) draft of 'America' is 21pp, 4to, paginated in manuscript with manuscript title; the second (later?) draft is 19pp, 4to, paginated in type, with the title at the head of every page. The second draft has an opening address (1p, 4to) to 'Ladies and Gentlemen', also headed 'America', and lettered 'A.' The quotations that follow are from both drafts. The humorous address states of Wilson: 'when a minister goes on holiday there is a general appreciation that he will deliver a report of himself and his whereabouts on his return. If he has stood at gaze before the Falls of Niagara there are there are whispers of large stipends in that spacious neighbourhood'. He proposes to try and tell what he 'saw and heard […] I shall draw no philosophic reflections; I have had no guidebooks; I do not intend to tell the height of a single Insurance Building in all America; if ever I inadvertently stumble into figures or generalisations you may take it they are quite probably in error. But I shall do my best to set before you as vividly as I can what met my eye, and to convey the impressions which the great land of the West left upon my own mind.' The account begins on the last day of Wilson's Atlantic crossing, Liverpool to New York, 9 to 17 August 1905, on the White Star liner RMS Baltic, Edward J. Smith (later captain of the Baltic's sister-ship, Titanic). RMS Baltic was one of the 'Big Four' ocean liners the largest and most luxurious ships afloat – built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff for White Star Line. From her launch in 1903 until 1905 the Baltic was the world's largest ship. In 1912 she sent a warning message about ice to her sister-ship RMS Titanic. Wilson writes that on the last day of the passage, 'although there were green faces here and there in the serried rows of deck chairs, still bands of walkers marched briskly up and down the long promenade, ladies knitted [deleted here: 'and crazied and chewed gum'] and chatted, [deleted here 'there were the usual parties round the shuffleboard and quoit players'] and the flirts had resumed their innocent pastime for another day, I was sitting between two men, one an Irish Presbyterian New England Congregationalist, and the other an English Congregationalist American Methodist Episcopalian, both parsons'. Half the men on board seem to Wilson to be 'parsons in disguise' (in the first version he states that they were 'ministers of the Baptist denomination returning from the great world's conference which had been held that summer in London'). His messmates on the journey are 'brother Rufus Washington Weaver [1870-1947], Th.D., and brother John James Fuller [of Elgin, Illinois]' He describes the passage through customs. 'Nearly every passenger on board had a conscience or something to hide from the New York customs men, but my innocent portmanteau had not enough to give me any uneasiness. […] When I had satisfied him that I was neither a polygamist nor an anarchist, and that I had fifty dollars in my pockets, I was released.' He describes his first impressions, as the Baltic approaches New York, and the city itself. 'As New Yorkers would tell you: “Yes, sir, New York knocks you all of a heap first time round.” The size of those mountains of stone, dwarfing the taper spires of down-town churches, the unique and ragged outlines of the city front, the noise now only too audible, and the seemingly chaotic movement on and and water, are appalling. I am not easily daunted by a strange city, but I own to some uneasiness as I strapped up my portmanteau, and prepared to plunge into this whirl: yet, as a matter of fact, as I discovered subsequently, there is no city in the world easier for a stranger to traverse.' At one point he notes that 'Front Street, the street that runs along the docks, is perhaps the worst paved street in the whole world, and there is no perhaps about its street cars. They are the worst on earth, without any doubt, they say, and New York prides itself on that fact.' He has to 'reach St. Louis just 1000 miles away in time to preach on Sunday', and first travels with Weaver to Baltimore, where he spends a night. On the train 'my capable Baptist friend arranges with the darkie attendant what we shall have for dinner', which is laid out 'on spotless Irish damask […] and I have fallen as if to the manner born on my first plate of Boston baked beans […] 49 hours later, at 6 precisely on Saturday evening, I was crossing the muddy waters of the Mississippi; and entering the city of St. Louis. Leaving Baltimore at ten on Friday morning, I was into Washington at eleven.' Most of his time in Washington is 'spent in the Congressional Library, a truly gorgeous building, to my mind too gorgeous for books'. Back on a train, ;thundering along the banks of the Potomac', and awoken 'far out across the prairies of Ohio' he considers the countryside 'exhaustless in its agricultural possibilities'. In St Louis he sees 'American life from within', and is well pleased. He describes the church in which he preaches in St Louis, the two Sundays he is there, 'the West Presbyterian Church, the minister of which, the Rev. Dr. Russell is a popular and influential man'. He describes the service, and his reception by the congregation. 'That afternoon the leading St. Louis paper sent a reporter to ask for my photograph, but as the thing is not yet in existence, the inevitable column had to appear without it. In addition to preaching the two Sundays at West Church, conducting the mid-week services, I also addressed the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., two institutions which are doing good work in all the American cities'. He gives a description of one of his 'American days', from breakfast. 'My hostess was a southerner, and the delicacies familiar in name at least through “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” were spread daily before me. I was amazed at the strength and bitterness of the Southern feeling which every now and then came to the suface at the talk at table. The result of the Civil War has been accepted, but the memory of the gallantry of that unequal struggle, and what they consider the injustice of the spoliation, will not be forgotten for many a year to come.' In the night he experiences the tremor of an earthquake, which he ascribes to 'the heavy footed German maid going to bed'. Leaving St Louis he travels to Chicago, where he spends a day 'on [sic] a motor car with the Rev. W. J. M'Caughan [William John McCaughan (1859-1910), then of 3rd Church, Chicago], an old Coleraine man, today the minister of a church of 2000 communicants, and without gainsaying the first ecclesiastical force in that brilliant and busy city.' He then crosses the Canadian border, and stops for two days 'at the village of Blenheim in Southern Ontario, with the Rev. George Gilmore, son of Aghadoway, and a man of untiring energy and inspiring devotion. I preached that Sunday in Blenheim, and once in the country, with crowded congregations morning and evening in Mr. Gilmore's beautifl church. Round him in Blenheim Mr. Gilmore has quite a colony of young Coleraine men'. He discusses his brother Harry, who went to work in Toronto for 'John Scott, owner of Maple Leaf Farm and his aged sister', before starting his own farm with 'Bert Buckley […] nephew of my friend, the minister of 2nd Dunhoe, and the son of a Coleraine lady whom many here, I'm sure, will remember'. He spends a day at Niagara with the Scotts, and Wilson describes his 'best hours […] passed in the fields and farmyards with their amiable owner'. He reproduces 'a couple of verses in Harry's handwriting', which one of Scott's 'hired men had discovered on the back of an old almanac in the stable', after which is the instruction in autograph '5 full pagerds on NIAGARA', i.e. Item Three below. He sails from Toronto to Montreal. He describes the territory, and his meeting at Montreal Station with 'Mr. Charles M'Kenney, who promises to be as alert and capable a business man even as his father'. The last three pages concern 'New England life and scenery', and his stay with 'Mr. Park […] the congregationalist minister of the South Parish of Andover […] the Eton of the Eastern states'. 'In the course of a brief morning drive we visited the house where Miss Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom's Cabin”: it is now used as a hostelry for students, but her study has not been altered in one iota. Mrs. Stowe lives in a little rustic graveyard hard by, […] Not a stone's throw away is the house of Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, whose books are known on both sides of the sea.' He spends a day 'rambling idly through the old bookshops and churches and colleges of Boston […] it is ruled despotically by the Irish, who numerically are the strongest part of the population'. Another day is 'spent on the historic battlefields of the Revolution', at the end of which 'We had only time for an irreverently hasty glance at the graves in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where the three famous Concord men sleep side by side, Emerson, Hawthorn and Thoreau, then back home by the last car of the night to Andover.' The second draft ends: 'I came down from Boston to New York by the Fall Line boat Priscilla, surely the most luxurious craft afloat, spend my last day wit the Boyd brothers, so well known in this neighbourhood, saw a number of old friends, in the city, slept at Ridgewood, the princely home of the head of the firm, and on Wednesday morning at ten o'clock caught the Majestic for home. And, at least for tonight, my Month Among the Americans, is over.' THREE ('Niagara'): 5pp, 4to. With numerous minor manuscript emendations. Written in much the same style as the rest, and beginning: 'While I was in Toronto I had of course to spend the inevitable day at Niagara. Everyone who goes to America is supposed to pay a visit to the famous Falls, and I complied with the custom, more especially as it was holiday time in Toronto and a single dollar covered all expenses. A bigger dollar's worth it would be hard to get in this world.' Her discusses 'the careless lawless life of the big American cities on the south side of the Lakes', in contrast with Toronto, which is 'as safe after nightfall as the strreets of Dungannon'. He travels by 'electric cars which are to carry us by what is called the Gorge Route up the riverside some ten miles further to the Falls'. While accepting that 'the correct thing would be a soliloquy on the grandeur and mystery of the Falls', he states that he will keep to his promise to 'stick to my experiences', despite the fact that they were 'as prosaic as usual'. Despite this claim his account is vivid and original.