It was four o'clock, next day, when we left Albany, going down Green Street and crossing the long bridge, taking the straight road over the ridges for Pittsfield.

Immediately on leaving the eastern end of the bridge the ascent of a long steep grade is begun. This is the first ridge, and from this on for fifteen miles is a succession of ridges, steep rocky hills, and precipitous declines. These continue until Brainerd is reached, where the valley of Lebanon begins.

These ridges can be partially avoided by turning down the Hudson to the right after crossing the bridge and making a detour to Brainerd; the road is about five miles longer, but is very commonly taken by farmers going to the city with heavy loads, and may well be taken by all who wish to avoid a series of stiff grades.

Many farmers were amazed to hear we had come over the hills instead of going around, and wondered how the machine managed to do it.

Popular notions concerning the capabilities of a machine are interesting; people estimate its strength and resources by those of a horse. In speaking of roads, farmers seem to assume the machine - like the horse - will not mind one or two hills, no matter how steep, but that it will mind a series of grades, even though none are very stiff.

Steam and electric automobiles do tire, - that is, long pulls through heavy roads or up grades tell on them, - the former has trouble in keeping up steam, the latter rapidly consumes its store of electricity. The gasoline machine does not tire. Within its limitations it can keep going indefinitely, and it is immaterial whether it is up or down grade - save in the time made; it will go all day through deep mud, or up steep hills, quite as smoothly, though by no means so fast, as on the level; but let it come to one hole, spot, or hill that is just beyond the limit of its power, and it is stuck; it has no reserve force to draw upon. The steam machine can stop a moment, accumulate two or three hundred pounds of steam, open the throttle and, for a few moments, exert twice its normal energy to get out of the difficulty.

It is not a series of hills that deters the gasoline operator, but the one hill, the one grade, the one bad place, which is just beyond the power he has available. The road the farmer calls good may have that one bad place or hill in it, and must therefore be avoided. The road that is pronounced bad may be, every foot of it, well within the power of the machine, and is therefore the road to take.

In actual road work the term "horse-power" is very misleading.

When steam-engines in early days began to take the place of horses, they were rated as so many horse-power according to the number of horses they displaced. It then became important to find out what was the power of the horse. Observing the strong dray horses used by the London breweries, Watt found that a horse could go two and one-half miles per hour and at the same time raise a weight of one hundred and fifty pounds suspended by a rope over a pulley; this is equivalent to thirty-three thousand pounds raised one foot in one minute, which is said to be one horse-power.

No horse, of course, could raise thirty-three thousand pounds a foot or any portion of a foot in a minute or an hour, but the horse can travel at the rate of two and one-half miles an hour raising a weight of one hundred and fifty pounds, and the horse can do more; while it cannot move so heavy a weight as thirty-three thousand pounds, it can in an emergency and by sudden strain move much more than one hundred and fifty pounds; with good foothold it can pull more than its own weight along a road, out of a hole, or up a hill. It could not lift or pull so great a weight very far; in fact, no farther than the equivalent of approximately thirty-three thousand pounds raised one foot in one minute; but for the few seconds necessary a very great amount of energy is at the command of the driver of the horse. Hence eight horses, or even four, or two can do things on the road that an eight horse-power gasoline machine cannot do; for the gasoline machine cannot concentrate all its power into the exertion of a few moments. If it is capable of lifting a given load up a given grade at a certain speed on its lowest gear, it cannot lift twice the load up the same grade, or the same load up a steeper grade in double the time, for its resources are exhausted when the limit of the power developed through the lowest gear is reached. The grade may be only a mud hole, out of which the rear wheels have to rise only two feet to be free, but it is as fatal to progress as a hill a mile long.

Of course it is always possible to race the engine, throw in the clutch, and gain some power from the momentum of the fly-wheel, and many a bad place may be surmounted step by step in this way; but this process has its limitations also, and the fact remains that with a gasoline machine it is possible to carry a given load only so fast, but if the machine moves it all, it will continue to move on until the load is increased, or the road changes for the worse.

When the farmer hears of an eight horse-power machine he thinks of the wonderful things eight good horses can do on the road, and is surprised when the machine fails to go up hills that teams travel every day; he does not understand it, and wonders where the power comes in. He is not enough of a mechanic to reflect that the eight horse-power is demonstrated in the carrying of a ton over average roads one hundred and fifty miles in ten hours, something eight horses could not possibly do.

Just as we were entering the valley of Lebanon, beyond the village of Brainerd, while going down a slight descent, my Companion exclaimed, -

"The wheel is coming off." I threw out the clutch, applied the brake, looked, and saw the left front wheel roll gracefully and quite deliberately out from under the big metal mud guard; the carriage settled down at that corner, and the end of the axle ploughed a furrow in the road for a few feet, when we came to a stop.

The steering-head had broken short off at the inside of the hub. We were not going very fast at the time, and the heavy metal mud guard which caught the wheel, acting as a huge brake, saved us from a bad smash.

On examination, the shank of the steering-head was found to contain two large flaws, which reduced its strength more than one-half, and the surprising thing was that it had not parted long before, when subjected to much severer strains.

This was a break that no man could repair on the road. Under pressure of circumstances the steering-head could have been taken to the nearest blacksmith shop and a weld made, but that would require time, and the results would be more than doubtful. By far the easier thing to do was to wire the factory for a new head and patiently wait its coming.

Happily, we landed in the hands of a retired farmer, whose generous hospitality embraced our tired selves as well as the machine.

Before supper a telegram was sent from Brainerd to the factory for a new steering-head.

While waiting inside for the operator to finish selling tickets for the one evening train about to arrive, a curious crowd gathered outside about my host, and the questions asked were plainly audible; the names are fictitious.

"What'r ye down t' the stashun fur this hur o' day, Joe?"

"Broke my new aut'mobile," carelessly replied my host, flicking a fly off the nigh side of his horse.


"What'r given us?"

"Git out - "

"You ain't got no aut'mobile," chorused the crowd.

"Mebbe I haven't; but if you fellows know an aut'mobile from a hay rake, you might take a look in my big barn an' let me know what you see."

"Say, Joe, you're jokin', - hev you really got one?"

"You can look for yourselves."

"I saw one go through here 'bout six o'clock," interrupted a new-comer. "Great Jehosephat, but 't went like a streak of greased lightnin'."

"War that your'n, Joe?"

"Well - "

"Naw," said the new-comer, scornfully. "Joe ain't got no aut'mobile; there's the feller in there now who runs it," and the crowd turned my way with such interest that I turned to the little table and wrote the despatch, quite losing the connection of the subdued murmurs outside; but it was quite evident from the broken exclamations that my host was filling the populace up with information interesting inversely to its accuracy.

"Mile a minute - faster'n a train - Holy Moses! what's that, Joe? broke axle - telegraphed - how many - four more - you don't say so? - what's his name? I'll bet it's Vanderbilt. Don't you believe it - it costs money to run one of those machines. I'll bet he's a dandy from 'way back - stopping at your house - bridal chamber - that's right - you want to kill the fatted calf for them fellers - say - "

But further comments were cut short as I came out, jumped in, and we drove back to a good supper by candle-light.

The stars were shining over head, the air was clear and crisp, down in the valley of Lebanon the mist was falling, and it was cool that night. Lulled by the monotonous song of the tree-toad and the deep bass croaking of frogs by the distant stream, we fell asleep.

There was nothing to do next day. The new steering-head could not possibly arrive until the morning following. As the farm was worked by a tenant, our host had little to do, and proposed that we drive to the Shaker village a few miles beyond.

The visit is well worth making, and we should have missed it entirely if the automobile had not broken down, for the new State road over the mountain does not go through the village, but back of it. From the new road one can look down upon the cluster of large buildings on the side of the mountain, but the old roads are so very steep, with such interesting names as "Devil's Elbow," and the like, that they would not tempt an automobile. Many with horses get out and walk at the worst places.

One wide street leads through the settlement; on each side are the huge community buildings, seven in all, each occupied by a "family," so called, or community, and each quite independent in its management and enterprises from the others; the common ties being the meeting-house near the centre and the school-house a little farther on.

We stopped at the North Family simply because it was the first at hand, and we were hungry. Ushered into a little reception-room in one of the outer buildings, we were obliged to wait for dinner until the party preceding us had finished, for the little dining-room devoted to strangers had only one table, seating but six or eight, and it seemed to be the commendable policy of the institution to serve each party separately.

A printed notice warned us that dinner served after one o'clock cost ten cents per cover extra, making the extravagant charge of sixty cents. We arrived just in time to be entitled to the regular rate, but the dilatory tactics of the party in possession kept us beyond the hour and involved us in the extra expense, with no compensation in the shape of extra dishes. Morally and - having tendered ourselves within the limit - legally we were entitled to dine at the regular rate, or the party ahead should have paid the additional tariff, but the good sister could not see the matter in that light, plead ignorance of law, and relied entirely upon custom.

The man who picks up a Shaker maiden for a fool will let her drop.

Having waited until nearly famished, the sister blandly told us, as if it were a matter of local interest, but otherwise of small consequence, that the North Family were strict vegetarians, serving no meat whatsoever; the only meat family was at the other end of the village.

We were ready for meat, for chickens, ducks, green goose, anything that walked on legs; we were not ready for pumpkin, squash, boiled potatoes, canned peas, and cabbage; but a theory as well as a condition confronted us; it was give in or move on. We gave in, but for fifteen cents more per plate bargained for preserves, maple syrup, and honey, - for something cloying to deceive the outraged palate.

But that dinner was a revelation of what a good cook can do with vegetables in season; it was the quintessence of delicacy, the refinement of finesse, the veritable apotheosis of the kitchen garden; meat would have been brutal, the intrusion of a chop inexcusable, the assertion of a steak barbarous, even a terrapin would have felt quite out of place amidst things so fragrant and impalpable as the marvellous preparations of vegetables from that wonderful Shaker kitchen.

Everything was good, but the various concoctions of sweet corn were better; and such sweet corn! it is still a savory recollection.

Then the variety of preserves, jellies, and syrups; fifteen cents extra were never bestowed to better advantage. We cast our coppers upon the water and they returned Spanish galleons laden with good things to eat.

After dining, we were walked through the various buildings, up stairs and down, through kitchens, pantries, and cellars, - a wise exercise after so bountiful a repast. In the cellar we drank something from a bottle labelled "Pure grape juice," one of those non-alcoholic beverages with which the teetotaler whips the devil around the stump; another glass would have made Shakers of us all, for the juice of the grape in this instance was about twenty-five per cent. proof. If the good sisters supply their worthy brothers in faith with this stimulating cordial, it is not unlikely that life in the village is less monotonous than is commonly supposed. It certainly was calculated to add emphasis to the eccentricities of even a "Shaking Quaker."

Although the oldest and the wealthiest of all the socialistic communities, there are only about six thousand Shakers in the United States, less than one-fourth of what there were in former times.

At Mt. Lebanon, the first founded of the several societies in this country, there are seven families, or separate communities, each with its own home and buildings. The present membership is about one hundred and twenty, nearly all women, - scarcely enough men to provide the requisite deacons for each family.

Large and well-managed schools are provided to attract children from the outside world, and so recruit the diminishing ranks of the faithful; but while many girls remain, the boys steal away to the heathen world, where marriage is an institution.

Celibacy is the cardinal principle and the curse of Shakerism; it is slowly but surely bringing the sect to an end. It takes a lot of fanaticism to remain single, and fanaticism is in the sere and yellow leaf. In Massachusetts, where so many women are compelled to remain single, there ought to be many Shakers; there are a few, and Mt. Lebanon is just over the line.

Celibacy does not appeal strongly to men. A man is quite willing to live alone if it is not compulsory, but celibates cannot stand restraint; the bachelor is bound to have his own way - until he is married. Tell a man he may not marry, and he will; that he must marry, and he won't.

The sect which tries to get along with either too little or too much marriage is bound to peter out. There were John Noyes and Brigham Young. John founded the Oneida Community upon the proposition that everything should be in common, including husbands, wives, and children; from the broadest possible communism his community has regenerated into the closet of stock companies "limited," with a capital stock of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, a surplus of one hundred and fifty thousand, and only two hundred and nineteen stockholders.

In the palmy days of Mormonism the men could have as many wives as they could afford, - a scheme not without its practical advantages in the monotonous life of pioneer settlements, since it gave the women something to quarrel about and the men something to think about, thereby keeping both out of mischief, - but with the advent of civilization with its diverse interests, the men of Salt Lake, urged also by the law, are getting tired of more than one wife at a time, and the community will soon be absorbed and lost in the commonplace. The ancient theory of wives in multiples is giving place to the modern practice of wives in series.

The story is told that a dear Shaker brother once fell from grace and disappeared in the maelstrom of the carnal world; in a few years he came back as penitent as he was penniless, with strange accounts of how men had fleeced him of all he possessed save the clothes - none too desirable - on his back. Men were so scarce that the credulous sisters and charitable deacons voted to accept his tales as true and receive him once more into the fold.

It was in 1770, while in prison in England, that Ann Lee claimed to have had a great revelation concerning original sin, wherein it was revealed that a celibate life is a condition precedent to spiritual regeneration. Her revelation may have been biased by the fact that she herself was married, but not comfortably.

In 1773, on her release from prison, another revelation told her to go to America. Her husband did not sympathize with the celibacy proposition, left "Mother Ann," as she was then known, and went off with another woman who was unhampered by revelations. This was the beginning of desertions which have continued ever since, until the men are reduced to a corporal's guard.

The principles of the Shakers, barring celibacy, are sound and practical, and, so far as known, they live up to them quite faithfully. Like the original Oneida community, they believe in free criticism of one another in open meetings. They admit no one to the society unless he or she promises to make a full confession before others of every evil that can be recalled, - women confess to women, men to men; these requirements make it difficult to recruit their ranks. They are opposed to war and violence, do not vote, and do not permit corporal punishment. They pay their full share of public taxes and assessments and give largely in charity. Their buildings are well built and well kept, their farms and lands worked to the best advantage; in short, they are industrious and thrifty.

Communism is one of those dreams that come so often to the best of mankind and, lingering on through the waking hours, influence conduct. The sharp distinctions and inequalities of life seem so harsh and unjust; the wide intervals which separate those who have from those who have not seem so unfair, that in all ages and in all countries men have tried to devise schemes for social equality, - equality of power, opportunity, and achievement. Communism of some sort is one solution urged, - communism in property, communism in effort, communism in results, everything in common.

In 1840 Emerson wrote to Carlyle, "We are all a little wild here with numberless projects of social reform. Not a reading man but has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket. I am gently mad myself, and am resolved to live cleanly. George Ripley is talking up a colony of agriculturists and scholars, with whom he threatens to take the field and book. One man renounces the use of animal food; another of coin; and another of domestic hired service; and another of the State; and on the whole we have a commendable share of reason and of hope."

Ripley did found his Brook Farm, and a lot of good people went and lived there - not Emerson; he was just a trifle too sane to be won over completely, but even he used to go into his own garden and dig in a socialistic way until his little boy warned him not to dig his foot.

That is the trouble with communism, those who dig are apt to dig their feet. It is easier to call a spade a spade than to use one. Men may be born free and equal, but if they are, they do not show it. From his first breath man is oppressed by the conditions of his existence, and life is a struggle with environment. Freedom and liberty are terms of relative not absolute value. The absolutism of the commune is oppression refined, each man must dig even if he digs his own foot. The plea of the anarchist for liberty is more consistent than the plea of the communist, - the one does demand a wild, lawless freedom for individual initiative; the other demands the very refinement of interference with liberty of mind and body.

The evolutionist looks on with philosophic indifference, knowing that what is to be will be, that the stream of tendency is not to be checked or swerved by vaporings, but moves irresistibly onward, though every thought, every utterance, every experiment, however wild, however visionary, has its effect.

We of the practical world sojourning in the Shaker village may commiserate the disciples of theory, but they are happy in their own way, - possibly happier in their seclusion and routine than we are in our hurly-burly and endless strife for social, commercial, and political advantages. Life is as settled and certain for them as it is unsettled and uncertain for us. No problems confront them; the everlasting query, "What shall we do to-morrow?" is never asked; plans for the coming summer do not disturb them; the seashore is far off; Paris and Monte Carlo are but places, vague and indistinct, the fairy tales of travellers; their city is the four walls of their home; their world the one long, silent, street of the village; their end the little graveyard beyond; it is all planned out, foreseen, and arranged.

Such a life is not without its charms, and it is small wonder that in all ages men of intellect have sought in some form of communistic association relief from the pressure of strenuous individualism. We may smile with condescension upon the busy sisters in their caps and gingham gowns, but, who knows, theirs may be the better lot.

Life with us is a good deal of an automobile race, - a lot of dust, dirt, and noise; explosions, accidents, and delays; something wrong most of the time; now a burst of headlong speed, then a jolt and sudden stop; or a creeping pace with disordered mechanism; no time to think of much except the machine; less time to see anything except the road immediately ahead; strife to pass others; reckless indifference to life and limb; one long, mad contest for success and notoriety, ending for the most part in some sort of disaster, - possibly a sea of flame.

If we possessed any sense of grim, sardonic humor, we would appreciate how ridiculous is the life we lead, how utterly absurd is our waste of time, our dissipation of the few days and hours vouchsafed us. We are just so many cicadas drumming out the hours and disappearing. We have abundance of wit, and a good deal of humor of a superficial kind, but the penetrating vision of a Socrates, a Voltaire, a Carlyle is denied the most of us, and we take ourselves and our accustomed pursuits most seriously.

On our way back from the village we stopped at the birthplace of Samuel Tilden, - an old-fashioned white frame house, situated in the very fork of the roads, and surrounded by tall trees. Not far away is the cemetery, where a stone sarcophagus contains the remains of a man who was very able if not very great.

Probably not fifty people in the United States, aside from those living in the neighborhood, know where Tilden was born. We did not until we came abruptly upon the house and were told; probably not a dozen could tell exactly where he is buried. Such is fame. And yet this man, in the belief of most of his countrymen, was chosen president, though never seated; he was governor of New York and a vital force in the politics and public life of his times, - now forgotten.

What a disappointment it must have been to come so near and yet miss the presidency. Before 1880 came around, his own party had so far forgotten him that he was scarcely mentioned for renomination, - though Tilden decrepit was incomparably stronger than Hancock "the superb." It was hard work enthusing over "Hancock and Hooray" after "Tilden and Reform;" the latter cry had substance, the former was just fustian.

The Democratic party is as iconoclastic as the Republican is reverential. The former loves to pick flaws in its idols and dash them to pieces; the latter, with stolid conservatism, clings loyally to its mediocrities. The latter could have elected Bryan, the former could not; the Democratic stomach is freaky and very squeamish; it swallows many things but digests few; the ostrich-like Republican organ has never been known to reject anything.

Republicans swear stanchly** by every president they have ever elected. Democrats abandoned Tilden and spurned Cleveland, the only two men they have come within a thousand miles of electing in ten campaigns. The lesson of well-nigh half a century makes no impression, the blind are leading the blind.

It is a far cry from former leaders such as Tilden, Hewitt, Bayard, and Cleveland to those of to-day; a party which seeks its candidate among the populists of Nebraska courts defeat. The two nominations of Bryan mark low level in the political tide; it is not conceivable that a great political party could sink lower; for less of a statesman and more of a demagogue does not exist. The one great opportunity the little man had to show some ability as a leader was when the treaty of Paris was being fiercely debated at Washington; the sentiment of his party and the best men of the country were against the purchase of the Philippines; but this cross-roads politician, who could not see beyond the tip of his nose, hastened to Washington, played into the hands of the jingoes by persuading the wiser men of his own party - men who should not have listened to him - to withdraw their opposition.

Bryan had two opportunities to exhibit qualities of statesmanship in the beginning of the war with Spain, and in the discussion of the treaty of Paris; he missed both. So far as the war was concerned, he never had an idea beyond a little cheap renown as a paper colonel of volunteers; so far as the treaty was concerned, he made the unpardonable blunder of playing into the hands of his opponents, and leaving the sound and conservative sentiment of the country without adequate leadership in Washington.

While we were curiously looking at the Tilden homestead, an old man came walking slowly down the road, a rake over his shoulder, one leg of his patched trousers stuck in a boot-top, a suspender missing, his old straw hat minus a goodly portion of its crown. He stopped, leaned upon his rake, and looked at us inquisitively, then remarked in drawling tone, -

"I know'd Sam Tilden."


"Yes, I know'd him; he was a great man."

"You are a Democrat?"

"I wuz, but ain't now," pensively.

"Why ar'n't you?"

"Well, you see, I wuz allus a rock-ribbed Jacksonian fr'm a boy; seed the ole gen'ral onc't, an' I voted for Douglas an' Seymore. I skipped Greeley, fur he warn't no Dem'crat; an' I voted fur Tilden an' Hancock an' Cleveland; but when it come to votin' fur a cyclone fr'm N'braska, - jest wind an' nothin' more, - I kicked over the traces."

"Then you don't believe in the divine ratio of sixteen to one?"

"Young man, silver an' gold come out'r the ground, jes' lik' corn an' wheat. When you kin make two bush'ls corn wu'th a bush'l wheat by law an' keep 'em there, you can fix the rasho 'twixt silver an' gold, an' not before," and the old man shouldered his rake and wandered on up the road.

Before leaving the birthplace of Tilden, it is worth noting that for forty years every candidate favored by Tammany has been ignominiously defeated; the two candidates bitterly opposed by the New York machine were successful. It is to the credit of the party that no Democrat can be elected president unless he is the avowed and unrelenting foe of corruption within and without the ranks.

The farmer with whom we were staying had earlier in the summer a flock of sixty young and promising turkeys; of the lot but twenty were left, and one of them was moping about as his forty brothers and sisters had moped before, ready to die.

"Ah, he'll go with the others," said the farmer. "Raising turkeys is a ticklish job; to-day they're scratching gravel for all they're worth; to-morrow they mope around an' die; no telling what's the matter."

"Suppose we give that turkey some whiskey and water; it may help him."

"Can't do him any harm, fur he'll die anyway; but it's a waste of good medicine."

Soaking some bread in good, strong Scotch, diluted with very little water, we gave the turkey what was equivalent to a teaspoonful. The bird did not take unkindly to the mixture. It had been standing about all day first on one leg, then on another, with eyes half closed and head turned feebly to one side. In a few moments the effect of the whiskey became apparent; the half-grown bird could no longer stand on one leg, but used both, placing them well apart for support. It began to show signs of animation, peering about with first one eye and then the other; with great gravity and deliberation it made its way to the centre of the road and looked about for gravel; fixing its eye upon an attractive little pebble it aimed for it, missed it by about two inches and rolled in the dust; by this time the other turkeys were staring in amazement; slowly pulling itself together he shook the dust from his feathers, cast a scornful eye upon the crowd about him and looked again for the pebble; there it was within easy shot; taking good aim with one eye closed he made another lunge, ploughed his head into the dust, making a complete somersault. By this time the two old turkeys were attracted by the unusual excitement; making their way through the throng of youngsters, they gazed for a moment upon the downfall of one of their progeny, and then giving vent to their indignation in loud cries pounced upon their tipsy offspring and pecked him until he struggled upright and staggered away. The last we saw of the young scapegrace he was smoothing his ruffled plumage before a shining milk-pail and apparently admonishing his unsteady double. It is worth recording that the turkey was better the next day, and lived, as we were afterwards told, to a ripe old Thanksgiving age.

The new steering-head came early the next morning; in thirty minutes it was in place. Our host and valley hostess were then given their first automobile ride; she, womanlike, took the speed, sudden turns, and strange sensations more coolly than he. As a rule, women and children are more fearless than men in an automobile; this is not because they have more courage, but men realize more vividly the things that might happen, whereas women and children simply feel the exhilaration of the speed without thinking of possible disasters.

We went down the road at a thirty-mile clip, made a quick turn at the four corners, and were back almost before the dust we raised had settled.

"That's something like," said our host; "but the old horse is a good enough automobile for me."

The hold-all was soon strapped in place, and at half-past nine we were off for Pittsfield.

Passing the Tilden homestead, we soon began the ascent of the mountain, following the superb new State road.

The old road was through the Shaker village and contained grades which rendered it impossible for teams to draw any but the lightest loads. It was only when market conditions were very abnormal that the farmers in the valley would draw their hay, grain, and produce to Pittsfield.

The new State road winds around and over the mountain at a grade nowhere exceeding five per cent. and averaging a little over four. It is a broad macadam, perfectly constructed.

In going up this easy and perfectly smooth ascent for some six or seven miles, the disadvantage of having no intermediate-speed gears was forcibly illustrated, for the grade was just too stiff for the high-speed gear, and yet so easy that the engine tended to race on the low, but we had to make the entire ascent on the hill-climbing gear at a rate of about four or five miles an hour; an intermediate-gear would have carried us up at twelve or fifteen miles per hour.