Our next step brought us to monster London, where we attended the interesting meeting of the British Iron and Steel Institute, and being called upon as the only representative of American iron and steel manufacturers present, I had to venture a few remarks. Whatever England may be justly chargeable with in the past for her neglect of scientific methods and the improvements of the day, it is evident she now occupies the van in this respect.
No one could be present at these meetings without being impressed with the amount and thoroughness of the scientific knowledge now engaged in the iron and steel manufacture of Great Britain. Not less remarkable seemed to me the willingness upon the part of all to report and explain every advance made in the various processes to their fellows. The old idea of trade secrets seems thoroughly exploded, and a free interchange of practice and theory is now seen to be the best for all. I cannot but believe that had the manufacturers of America adopted this policy years ago, many millions squandered in the erection of works at unsuitable locations would have been saved. It struck me as strange that no less a personage than Earl Granville, who has had charge of her Majesty's foreign affairs and been leader in the House of Lords, should have been in attendance and participated in these meetings. The company also had the attendance of two dukes; but these were Lord Granville's compeers only in title. All of the three, however, rightfully claim to rank with us as iron-masters. The Bessemer medal was presented this year to Peter Cooper, of New York, much to the honor of the donors, I think.
For one shilling, any one curious to know something of the sights of this London, can do so by purchasing a good-sized volume - Dickens's London. A look at it will soon satisfy one how true it is that compared to London all other cities are but villages. It will very soon count four millions of people under its sway. Every year one hundred thousand are added to the mass, and not even depressed times seem to limit this increase. The reason for this is patent; there is everything here that there is elsewhere, and much that can be found nowhere else; in every department of life, for earnest work in any special line, or for amusement - for sight-seeing, study, or fashion - it is here that the very best of everything is concentrated; the very cream of all the world is here, because no other place is large enough or rich enough to support it. To know the best that has been said and done in the world of the past is no doubt much, as Matthew Arnold says, but there is also much in seeing and living where the best of to-day is said and done, and if possible in the company of those who have said or done any of the best things in any line. Life with godlike men on earth must be the best preparative for companionship hereafter. This is possible in Britain only in London, for the celebrities and their works are centred here. An unusually large proportion of the population is of the wealthy classes, for the height of the average Briton's ambition is, in addition to the essential estate in the country, to be in possession of a mansion in London. After these are acquired, and his wife and daughters have been presented at court, any after- successes may be regarded as details which ornament the solid edifice of position attained; and truly, as far as I have seen human life in any part of the world, I know of no state which in itself seems capable of affording so much pleasure - were happiness dependent upon external circumstances - as that which rewards successful Britons when with their usual good sense they retire from business.
If the owner of a large estate in Britain with its hundreds of people, who are as it were, under his care, its pretty quaint villages and honeysuckled cottages, its running brooks, its hedge- rows and green fields, all giving him scope for change and improvement - if such a man is not happy and does not enjoy life, let him seek for some more favorable conditions in some other planet than this, say I. I must not attempt to follow our steps through England and Scotland, nor to tell you of the cordial welcomes and thousand kind attentions bestowed upon us. We spent a very, very happy month among dear kind friends, and never enjoyed Merrie England more. My mother and Miss F. joined us in London, and took care of us until we sailed for New York, which we did by the new Cunard steamer Gallia, June 14th, reaching New York on the 24th, exactly eight months from the day we sailed out of the Golden Gate. And now, June 25th, I write these lines at Cresson, on the crest of the Alleghanies, having reached our starting point and earned our right to fellowship with the favored fraternity of globe-trotters.