August 7 was bank holiday in London. I improved it by going to Kew Gardensa most interesting place to me, because there one sees so many trees from all parts of the world. Although I had been twice before to Kew, I saw on this occasion a new sight, for the place is so large that one does not find it all at one time. With con-summate art, they have made a long, winding la-goon or bayou, and along its shores planted among other things, some American cypress trees (Tax-odium distichum.) These have grown beautifully and the hot summer favored them. They were aspiring towers of green. I did not suppose that this, the finest of American trees, would thrive in so northern a latitude.
In my London hotel two men sat down at a table with me and we exchanged pleasant greetings. “Is this what you call London weather?” asked one.
“Well, no; we do not usually have it so hot as this,” I replied. Then I asked; “Are you gentlemen newly come to London?”
“Yes, we are just landed from Canada; this is our first day in London.”
“I am much interested,” I exclaimed. “Tell me about Canada. It must be a wonderful country.”
They told me of the glories of Canada, and I asked them also about the United States and reciprocity, which was then under consideration. They were strenuously opposed to reciprocity because they thought it would result in Canadians doing most of their buying in the United States. “We are loyal to the Mother Country,” they declared. “We wish to see a closer relation between our country and yours.” As they assumed me to be an English-man I merely nodded. “We wish to thwart reciprocity and foster trade relations between England and Canada. In fact, our mission here is to see what we can do to help bring about the preferential tariff duties. It seems to me you ought here in England to impose duties on Yankee grain and meats, while continuing to let in free ours and those from your other colonies. Then we would lower our duties on your manufactured goods and shut out the Yankee goods, and we would draw together. The trouble with our people is that the Yankees make things that look so good and sell them so cheap that our people will buy them, in spite of all that we can do; whereas the Yankee manufactures are not nearly so good as yours.” “Of course they are not,” I assented.
What a fine argument that was for the reciprocity treaty of President Taft. Nothing could have done more to unite the two American nations; nothing would have more benefited each country. However, from a British viewpoint, I marvel that they do not at once go in for the preferential tariff, giving the favors to their own colonies.
England was all in a fever of unrest. Men cried “hard times,” and perhaps there were hard times. Assuredly there were the usual slums filled with the unemployables, but the country as a whole looked to an American, very prosperous. There was an outcry by one party for a protective tariff. “Why should we buy cheap things of Germany?” was asked. But the effort to inaugurate even in small degree a policy of protective duties is met with fierce and unrelenting opposition. It seems hardly possible that tariff duties on foodstuffs will ever again be tolerated in England, because the labor vote and even the vote of the middle classes, farmers excepted, would probably be against that policy. They admit free of duty Argentine, Australian and New Zealand meats, but they discriminate against them in buying as much as they can, giving the preference to their home-grown mutton and beef and paying much higher prices for English beef and mutton.
I had a letter of introduction to a farmer in the lowlands of Scotland, William Henderson of Perth-shire. My duties done in Kent and London, I asked my hotel porter to see to having reserved for me a sleeping car ticket to Coupar Angus in Perth-shire, and went about various errands in the city with a light heart, sure of a fine night’s rest, as the train sped northward. As I paid my bill and tipped the hotel servants preparatory to taking my departure for the station, my porter surprised me by saying, “Pardon me, sir, but I did not reserve for you that sleeping car berth.”
“No; and why did you not?”
“Because, sir, it would cost so much that I thought you would not wish it,” was his reply. Then he told me that in order to ride in a sleeping car I must have first a first-class ticket and then the berth, making an extra charge for the night of about $9.50. I hurried to the station and sought there to buy the berth; but I was too late. Travel north was heavy and all berths were sold. “I do not think you will mind, sir,” said the attentive railway porter. “I will try to get you in a compartment that is not crowded.” I had my rug and hired a pillow. We were pretty closely crowded in until we had passed Rugby.