Across America and Asia

Notes of a Five Years’ journey around the World, and of Residence in Arizona, Japan, and China. By RAPHAEL PUMPELLY. New York : Leypoldt and Holt.
IN the autumn of 1860 Mr. Pumpelly left civilized lands for Arizona, as he tells us, on the front seat of a laboring and heavy-laden stage-coach, his next companion a Missouri ruffian, armed with bowieknife and revolver. The journey begun under these rather depressing auspices was not destined to be enlivened by cheering or reassuring circumstances. In passing through Northeastern Texas, the passengers were awakened one morning by a party of “regulators,” in quest of a man who had just committed a murder at a town a few miles in the rear. “ He is a tall fellow, with blue eyes and a red beard,” said the spokesman of this band. “ So, if you have got him in there, stranger, you need n’t tote him any farther, for the branch of a mesquittree is strong enough for his neck.” Mr. Pumpelly, possessing all the attributes enumerated, naturally did not regard the situation as amusing or consoling. After sixteen days and nights of continuous bumping and jolting, Mr. Pumpelly became delirious front want of sleep, and finally lapsed into unconsciousness. Being awakened by a pistol-shot, he found himself on the floor of a crowded room, where two or three dozen ruffians were quarrelling over their cards.
These little incidents were a foretaste of what was to come, and illustrate, as by the merest hint, the state of social anarchy by which our Southwestern frontier was disgraced ten years ago. Mr. Pumpelly visited Arizona at a time when the restraint exercised by the community over the individual was even more than Ordinarily relaxed, on account of the breaking out of the Rebellion, the withdrawal of troops, and the consequent unchecked incursions of the Indians. The state of things which he describes is a state of absolute and ferocious anarchy. Every man’s revolver was against every other man. The Apaches, turning out in large numbers, butchered the whites wherever they could find them, even skulking in the bushes near the mines, and shooting the workmen by the light of the furnace-fires. The Mexican peons, or workmen, frequently arose and massacred their American superintendents, carrying away such ore as they found means of transporting. But the lowest depths of crime seem to have been reserved for the Americans themselves to sound. One desperado, met by Mr. Pumpelly, kept a string of eighteen pairs of ears taken from his victims, which he appears to have gloried in as an Apache would glory in a bundle of scalps. He boasted that he would increase the number to twenty-five; but before he had attained this goal of his ambition the hand of Nemesis overtook him ; he was seized by his enraged neighbors and hung over a slow fire.
It is pleasant to turn from this dismal picture of frontier lawlessness to the ancient civilizations of Eastern Asia. From San Francisco Mr. Pumpelly proceeded to Japan, as mining engineer in the service of the Japanese government. At that time the Taikoon was carrying out, with apparent success, the recently adopted policy of admitting foreigners into the empire, and of appropriating European ideas and inventions. All that Mr. Pumpelly tells us of this remarkable country is no less interesting than provoking to our curiosity. The coexistence of the primeval patriarchal feudalism in politics and a wide-spread fetichism in religion, with a notable progress in civilization, both moral and material, offers a new problem to the scientific student of history; and the causes which have preserved into modern times the prehistoric structure of society, both in this empire and its neighbor China, will, when thoroughly understood, go far toward helping us to an adequate theory of social progress. After a pleasant year in Japan, the breaking out of the revolution which has since overturned the authority of the Taikoon obliged Mr. Pumpelly to leave the country. The three succeeding years were spent in investigating the condition of China, and in the homeward journey across Tartary and Siberia to European Russia.
Mr. Pumpelly was enabled during his stay in China to acquire unusually good data for forming an opinion on the perplexing problem of Chinese emigration. After centuries of isolation, that vast population is beginning to relieve itself by flowing over into the islands of the Pacific, into Australia, and into California. Should this emigration continue with as much rapidity as that which has filled our Eastern cities with Germans and Irishmen, we may expect to see ten millions of Chinese settled in our country within twenty years. According to Mr. Pumpelly, there is much to be gained from this immense and sudden immigration, and but little to be feared, provided our legislation is guided by sound knowledge of the character and habits of the Chinese people. Mr. Pumpelly’s opinion of the Chinese is removed alike from the ignorant laudation and the indiscriminate censure which have been so freely indulged in by theorizers on history and adventurers in politics, that the whole question has been made a very puzzling one to most persons.
Mr. Pumpelly’s narrative is interesting and instructive throughout, though many persons unfamiliar with scientific details will perhaps now and then skip a few pages relating to mining operations and to geological matters. He makes no attempt at eloquence or fine writing, but his book is often eloquent, and is characterized by that best kind of fine writing, which consists in presenting concrete details picturesquely and forcibly, with entire simplicity of statement.