Since posting Chapter 22, taking Louis to America, I have been indulging in the addictive online pursuit of scrutinising the passenger lists of 19th-century ocean liners. Among them I came across the list for the SS Devonia, aboard which Louis arrived in New York in August 1879. The list, signed by Captain Hugh Young, includes 'Robert Stephenson' in a second-class cabin. Apart from spelling Louis's surname incorrectly, the list also gives his age as 29 when he was nearly three months short of his 29th birthday, and describes his occupation as 'clerk'.
Among the 256 passengers, all of whose names Captain Young was legally obliged to declare, would have been the stowaways Louis describes in the Amateur Emigrant. One of them, 'Alick', was perhaps the only Alexander on the list - an 18-year-old miner from Scotland called Alex Allan, listed as a steerage passenger. Likewise the three-year-old boy Louis describes was in all likelihood Robert Sellars, emigrating with his Scottish miner father and his mother, both aged 40, plus his seven brothers and sisters aged from 17 down to 18 months. Robert was the only three-year-old on board, and he impressed Louis: 'To meet him, crowing with laughter and beating an accompaniment to his own mirth with a tin spoon upon a tin cup, was to meet a little triumph of the human species. Even when his mother and the rest of his family lay sick and prostrate around him, he sat upright in their midst and sang aloud in the pleasant heartlessness of infancy.'
Another passenger named by Louis as a kindred spirit was 'my excellent friend Mr Jones. It would be difficult to say whether I was his right-hand man, or he mine, during the voyage. Thus at table I carved, while he only scooped gravy; but at our concerts, of which more anon, he was the president who called up performers to sing, and I but his messenger who ran his errands and pleaded privately with the over-modest. I knew I liked Mr. Jones from the moment I saw him.' But it seems this convivial character was not on first-name times with anyone - the list describes him simply as 'Mr Jones', a 30-year-old 'clerk', although he told Louis he had once been a blacksmith. He was travelling saloon class, but was not, presumably, like those who so disgusted Louis with their patronising attitude to the masses languishing in steerage. To guess who those might have been, and to see the full list, visit http://www.immigrantships.net/v8/1800v8/devonia18790818.html