America Again — Fourth Trip Abroad
( Originally Published 1903 )
IT was about eight months after the evening when I first determined to go around the world, that a crowd of my friends were gathered in Jack Irwin's house. They were there to welcome me home from my trip, and to congratulate me upon my success in accomplishing my ambition. It was a memorably pleasant occasion, for after many months of absence it was delightful to be back once more among these friends who had followed me around the world with their good wishes: " You've got to tell us all about it," said Jack, and he sat back in his chair, as if he really expected that I could tell about a 27,000 mile journey in a couple of hours.
I was glad to narrate the principal incidents of the trip, and they were interested in hearing how I managed to work my way for such a distance. They knew that I had worked my way, because I had more money on my return than when I had started, and none of it had been received from the United States. So I described my experiences as Jimmy Legs, and how I had earned some money in the Philippines and had then traveled through Japan and China. No doubt it seemed a remarkable story. I had taken one of the most interesting trips imaginable, had visited parts of four continents, had traveled more than 27,000 miles in all, and had returned with money in my pocket.
It was delightful to be again in the neighborhood of New York, for I had learned to appreciate the beauties of that city more than ever before. In all the world there are but three truly aggressive nations—England, America and Russia —and together they are to give civilization to seven hundred millions of the human race. I returned home feeling proud that I belonged to America, whose influence in the Far East has been so beneficent and far-reaching. I lost many prejudices during my trip, and I gained some new views. It is evident to any traveler that America does not possess all the virtues in the world. We have something yet to learn. If we have larger liberty than any other people, we must confess, on the other hand, that there are no cities anywhere so badly governed as some that we have in the United States. It will be possible for us to revise our liberty without detriment to ourselves. America has become the great teacher of the nations, and we should realize the importance of our position. The people of Europe are keeping step to the march of the great Republic. Our country is moving on as no other nation ever advanced, and the world is following in our path.
It was my expectation that my journey around the world would complete my traveling experiences for many months to come, but when I read of the coronation of King Edward which was to take place in London in 1903, I couldn't resist the desire to be present for that celebration. So I crossed the ocean once again, and when the festivities were over, I went to Holland to interview Paul Kruger, the heroic ex-President of the South African Republic. That experience alone was enough to repay me for the trip.
I have crowded a great many adventures and a great deal of traveling into five years, and they have been years that I will always remember. It is an education to travel and see the world, a better education in some respects than can be obtained in any other way. I have learned a great deal about life and human nature, and most that I have learned has been encouraging. I have found that men and women all over the world, as well as in America, are always glad and willing to help those who help themselves, and that a rolling stone, if it gathers no moss, certainly gets a deal of polish.