Round The World

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In 1878, Andrew Carnegie (the person who Carnegie Hall and Carnegie Mellon University are named after) decided to go on a world tour.

During that journey, he kept a diary, which he then published as a book. I re-created an interactive version of selected entries from October 1878 to January 1879 for my first project at Contentful.

The book is in the public domain, you can download it for free:

The project compass


It seems almost unnecessary to say that "Round the World," like "An American Four-in-Hand in Britain," was originally printed for private circulation. My publishers having asked permission to give it to the public, I have been induced to undertake the slight revision, and to make some additions necessary to fit the original for general circulation, not so much by the favorable reception accorded to the "Four-in-Hand" in England as well as in America, nor even by the flattering words of the critics who have dealt so kindly with it, but chiefly because of many valued letters which entire strangers have been so extremely good as to take the trouble to write to me, and which indeed are still coming almost daily.


While coaching I was more joyously happy; during the journey round the World I was gaining more knowledge; but if my readers like me half as well in the latter as in the former mood, I shall have only too much cause to subscribe myself with sincere thanks,

Most gratefully,

The Author

Think on thy friends when thou haply see'st
Some rare, noteworthy object in thy travels,
Wish them partakers of thy happiness.

Saturday, October 12, 1878

New York

Bang! click! the desk closes, the key turns, and good-bye for a year to my wards—that goodly cluster over which I have watched with parental solicitude for many a day; their several cribs full of records and labelled Union Iron Mills, Lucy Furnaces, Keystone Bridge Works, Union Forge, Cokevale Works, and last, but not least, that infant Hercules, the Edgar Thomson Steel Rail Works—good lusty bairns all, and well calculated to survive in The struggle for existence—great things are expected of them in The future, but for the present I bid them farewell; I'm off for a holiday, and the rise and fall of iron and steel "affecteth me not."


And now what to take for the long weary hours! for travellers know that sight-seeing is hard work, and that the ocean wave may become monotonous. I cannot carry a whole library with me. Yes, even this can be done; mother's thoughtfulness solves the problem, for she gives me Shakespeare, in 13 small handy volumes. Come, then, my Shakespeare, you alone of all the mighty past shall be my sole companion. I seek none else; there is no want when you are near, no mood when you are not welcome—a library indeed, and I look forward with great pleasure to many hours' communion with you on lonely seas—a lover might as well sigh for more than his affianced as I for any but you. A twitch of conscience here. You ploughman bard, who are so much to me, are you then forgotten? No, no, Robin, no need of taking you in my trunk; I have you in my heart, from "A man's a man for a that" to "My Nannie's awa'."

Thursday, October 17, 1878


What is this? A telegram! "Belgic sails from San Francisco 24th instead of 28th." Can we make it? Yes, travelling direct and via Omaha, and not seeing Denver as intended. All right! through we go, and here we are at St. Louis Friday morning, and off for Omaha to catch the Saturday morning train for San Francisco. If we miss but one connection we shall reach San Francisco too late. But we sha'n't. Having courted the fickle goddess assiduously, and secured her smiles, we are not going to lose faith in her now, come what may. See if our good fortune doesn't carry us through!

Saturday, October 19, 1878


All aboard for "Frisco!"


We traverse all day a vast prairie watered by the Platte. Nothing could be finer: such fields of corn standing ungathered, such herds of cattle grazing at will! It is a superb day, and the russet-brown mantle in which Nature arrays herself in the autumn never showed to better advantage; but in all directions we see the prairies on fire. Farmers burn them over as the easiest mode of getting rid of the rank weeds and undergrowth; but it seems a dangerous practice. They plough a strip 20 to 30 feet in width around their houses, barns, hay-stacks, etc., and depend upon the flames not overleaping this barrier.

Third night out, and we are less fatigued than at the beginning. The first night upon a sleeping-car is the most fatiguing. Each successive one is less wearisome, and ere the fifth or sixth comes you really rest well. So much for custom!

Wednesday, October 23, 1878


A palace truly! Where shall we find its equal? Windsor Hotel, good-bye! you must yield the palm to your great Western rival, as far as structure goes, though in all other respects you may keep the foremost place. There is no other hotel building in the world equal to this. The court of the Grand at Paris is poor compared to that of the Palace. Its general effect at night, when brilliantly lighted, is superb; its furniture, rooms and appointments are all fine, but then it tells you all over it was built to "whip all creation," and the millions of its lucky owner enabled him to triumph. It is as much in place in San Francisco as the Taj would be in Sligo; but then your California operator, when he has made a "pile," goes in for a hotel, just as in New York one takes to a marble palace or a grand railway depot, or in Cincinnati to a music hall, or in Pittsburgh to building a church or another rolling mill.


To every blink the livelong night there came this refrain, which seemed to close each scene of Oriental magnificence that haunted the imagination:

And our gude ship sails ye morn,

And our gude ship sails ye morn.

Do what I would, the words of the old Scotch ballad would not down. Sleep! who could sleep in such an hour? Dead must be the man whose pulse beats not quicker, and whose enthusiasm is not enkindled when for the first time he is privileged to whisper to himself, The East! the East!

Friday, November 1, 1878

We saw flying-fishes to-day for the first time. The captain had been telling us as we approached the 30th degree of latitude that we should see these curiosities, and, sure enough, while standing on the bridge this morning, looking toward the bow, I saw three objects rise out of the water and fly from us. One seemed as large as a herring, the others were like humming-birds. They have much larger wings than I had supposed, and shine brightly in the sun as they fly.

Friday, November 15, 1878

Land ahoy! The islands of Japan are in sight, and the entrance to the bay is reached at 4 P.M. The sail up this bay is never to be forgotten. The sun set as we entered, and then came such a sky as Italy cannot rival. I have seen it pictured as deluging Egypt with its glory, but this we have yet to see. Fusiyama itself shone forth under its rays, its very summit clear, more than 14,000 feet above us. The clouds in large masses lay east and west of the peak, but cowering far below, as if not one speck dared to rise to its crown. It stood alone in solitary grandeur, by far the most impressive mountain I have yet seen; for mountains, as a rule, are disappointing, the height being generally attained by gradations. It is only to Fusiyama, and such as it, that rise alone in one unbroken pyramid, that one can apply Schiller's grand line,

Ye are the things which tower

Fusiyama towers beyond any crag or peak I know of; and I do not wonder that in early days the Japanese made the home of their gods upon its crest.


We land finally, pass the Custom House without examination, and with sea-legs which are far from steady reach our hotel. A bite of supper—but what fearful creatures again to bow and wait on us! More demons. We laugh every minute at some funny performance, and wonder where we can be; but how surprisingly good every thing is which we eat or drink on land after 22 days at sea!

Monday, December 2, 1878


It is here just as elsewhere, terrace upon terrace, every foot of ground under cultivation; water carried by men in pails, or on the backs of oxen, to the highest peaks, which it is impossible to irrigate, and every single plant, be it rice, millet, turnip, cabbage, or carrot, watered daily. What good Mother Earth can be induced to yield under such attention is a marvel. The bountiful earth has another meaning when you see what she can be made to bring forth. Although we are in December, the sun shines bright, and it is quite warm. I sat down several times under the hedge-rows, and heard the constant hum of insect life around me. Butterflies flitted about, the bees gathered honey, and all looked and felt like a day in June. The houses of the people which we saw were poor, and the total absence of glass causes them to look like deserted hovels; but closer inspection showed fine mats on the floors, and everything scrupulously clean. I counted upon one hillside 47 terraces from the bottom to the top. These are divided vertically, so that I think 25 feet square would be about the average size of each patch; and as the division of terraces is made to suit the ground, and hence very irregularly, the appearance of a hillside in Japan is something like that of a bed-quilt of irregular pieces. The terrace-walls are overgrown with vines, ferns, etc., so that they appear like low green hedges: and this adds much to the beauty of the landscape. No wonder the cultivators of these lovely spots never dream of leaving them. Animal food is not half as important to the Japanese as the supply of fish—indeed the former is said to be comparatively little used, while fish of some kind or in some form is ever present at meals. The favorite fish is the tai, which is red when taken from streams with sandy bottoms, but black when caught at the mouths of the same streams, where the dark soil of the sea begins. A curious parallel case is seen in the black and red pines of this country: in sandy soils they grow red, while in the softer black soil they are dark. Transplant the two varieties and they change color. The same law, you see, with fish and plant.

We are all creatures of our environment. Therefore let us choose our companions and surroundings well.

To know the best that has been said and done in the world is no doubt much; to be planted and to grow among those who have done the greatest work and who live up to the best standard in our day and generation is surely equally important.


Saturday, December 14, 1878


We leave for Hong Kong, 800 miles south, by the mail steamer which sails at daylight. Our usual good fortune attends us. The monsoon blew us to port one night sooner than we expected. A night saved was quite an object, as the Geelong is a small craft, and her rocking means something. Vandy was very ill, but I managed to report regularly at table as usual. We slept on shore Tuesday night, and the morning revealed one of the prettiest places we have ever seen in the East. Hong Kong is an island about 26 miles in circumference, situated one mile from the mainland of China, and just at the mouth of the river leading to Canton. There is scarcely an acre of level ground upon it except one little spot which does duty as a race-course, and is not level either by any means. A narrow strip fronting the water is occupied by the city of Victoria, which extends about three miles, but back of this the ground rises rapidly, and houses cluster upon the steep sides of the mountain. Nevertheless, public gardens have been laid out with exquisite taste and skill upon the hillside, and excellent walks reach to the very top of the peak, more than eighteen hundred feet high. So closely does this crag overhang the town below that a stone could be dropped into the settlement from its crest.


Saturday, January 4, 1879


I have had many experiences in beds, from the generous feather cover of the Germans to the canopy of state couch of England, but to-night my couch was minus covering of any kind. Calling to Vandy, I found he was in the same predicament. Each had instead a long, stiff bolster lying lengthwise in the middle of the mattress, the use of which neither of us could make out. We soon discovered that there was no need of covering at the Equator; but this bolster must have some use, if we could only find it. Upon inquiring next day we ascertained that it is composed of a kind of pith which has the property of keeping cool in the hottest weather, and that it is the greatest relief at night to cultivate the closest possible acquaintance with this strange bed-fellow; in fact, in Singapore, "no family should be without it."


One is not only in a new earth here, but he has a new sky as well. As the tropics have nothing to compare with our more brilliant colors in the vegetable world, so the southern sky has no stars to equal ours. Indeed, with the exception of the four in the Southern Cross, two in the Centaur, and two or three others, there is no star of the first magnitude to be seen, and the constellations are poor compared with those of our splendid northern skies. Shakespeare's

. . . inlaid with patines of bright gold

must seem hyperbole to the Australian. I saw the Southern Cross many nights while at sea, and it is certainly very fine, as far as four stars can make a cross; for, as usual, much is left to the imagination. It is really not a cross at all. These long ocean trips furnish the best opportunity for observing the stars, and I have rubbed up my early knowledge on the subject so far as to be able to point out all the constellations and many of the principal stars; but away down here the North Star even is not to be seen, and we have to steer by Orion's belt if the compass varies.

Wednesday, January 22, 1879


We reached here last night upon our return, stopping one night at Colombo. Future travellers will soon miss one of the rarest treats in Ceylon. The railway will soon be completed from Colombo to Galle, and the days of coaching cease forever. We congratulate ourselves that our visit was before this passed away, as we know of no drive equal to that we have now enjoyed twice, and the last time even more than the first.

During our trip down yesterday I counted within 40 miles 11 schools filled with young Cingalese. English is generally taught in them, and although attendance is not compulsory, great inducements are held out to parents to send their children. The advantages of knowing the English language are so decided that I am told parents generally are most anxious to have their children taught. The school-houses are simple affairs, consisting only of white plastered walls about five feet high, with spaces for entrance. On this wall rest the slight wooden standards which support thereof of palm-leaves, so that all is open to our view as we drive past. The attention paid to this vital subject, evidences of which are seen everywhere, is what most delights us. In 1874 there were 1,468 public schools on the island, attended by 66,385 scholars.