Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/180

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Washington and New York. I think I am fairly entitled to be considered the pioneer in this business, though the present generation of journalists is not aware of the fact.

I made my advent accordingly in Washington in high spirits. The Herald was to pay me twenty-five dollars a week, the Commercial and Tribune each fifteen dollars, thus bringing my weekly earnings up to fifty-five dollars, or not far from three thousand a year really a large income for those days, when even Cabinet officers had only six thousand dollars. I hired a finely furnished suite of rooms for only twelve dollars a month, and engaged board at Willard's, the leading hotel, for thirty dollars a month — prices that will seem almost incredibly low when compared with those of the present day. Altogether, I felt quite rich and very independent. What with Congress in session, the hordes of place-seekers from every part of the Union, and the many public men from the North and South who visited the capital from purely patriotic motives in those critical days, Washington presented a very animated appearance. It had then about sixty thousand inhabitants, a number which the transient sojourners swelled by ten thousand. Leaving out the public buildings, the place seemed like a large village, with its preponderance of plain, low brick or wooden structures, wide, mostly unpaved streets, small shops, general lack of Business activity, and a distinctly Southern air of indolence and sloth. Of its numerous hotels, some were very spacious, but all were poorly kept. It could not boast a single decent restaurant, but had no end of bar-rooms. There were neither omnibuses nor street-cars, and the shabby public carriages with their ragged black drivers were simply disgusting.

Still, unattractive as Washington was in all these respects, it was the most important place in the Union, and daily growing in importance; to it the eyes of the whole civilized world turned in curious and anxious expectation. Political life centred at the Capitol and at the three principal hotels, Willard's, Brown's, and the National, and