[From an 1869--1st Edition]
This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition, it would have about it that gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive. Yet notwithstanding it is only a record of a pic-nic, it has a purpose, which is to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. I make small pretense of showing anyone how he ought to look at objects of interest beyond the sea--other books do that, and therefore, even if I were competent to do it, there is no need.
I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel-writing that may be charged against me--for I think I have seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least honestly, whether wisely or not.
In this volume I have used portions of letters which I wrote
for the Daily Alta California, of
For months the great pleasure excursion to Europe and the
Holy Land was chatted about in the newspapers everywhere in
EXCURSION TO THE HOLY
The undersigned will make an excursion as above during the coming
season, and begs to submit to you the following programme:
A first-class steamer, to be under his own command, and capable of
accommodating at least one hundred and fifty cabin passengers, will
be selected, in which will be taken a select company, numbering not
more than three-fourths of the ship's capacity. There is good
reason to believe that this company can be easily made up in this
immediate vicinity, of mutual friends and acquaintances.
The steamer will be provided with every necessary comfort,
including library and musical instruments.
An experienced physician will be on board.
be taken across
will be spent here, enjoying the fruit and wild scenery of these
islands, and the
voyage continued, and
A day or two will be spent here in looking over the wonderful
subterraneous fortifications, permission to visit these galleries
being readily obtained.
running along the coasts of
given not only to look over the city, which was founded six hundred
years before the Christian era, and its artificial port, the finest
of the kind in
the Mediterranean, but to visit
and the beautiful city of
from the heights of which, on a clear day,
extend the time
will have an opportunity to look over this, the "magnificent city of
and visit the birthplace of
over a beautiful road built by Napoleon I. From this point,
excursions may be
three weeks amid
the cities most famous for art in
night, and time appropriated to this point in which to visit
may prefer to go
in about thirty-six hours; the route will lay along the coast of
made to take on
practicable, a call will be made there to visit the home of
The next point
of interest will be
day will be spent here, and leaving in the evening, the course will
be taken towards
the north coast of
group of Aeolian
Isles, in sight of
active volcanoes, through the Straits of Messina, with "Scylla" on
the one hand and "Charybdis" on the other, along the east coast of
the west and
south coast of
a half or three days. After tarrying here awhile, the Bay of
voyage will be
Grecian Archipelago, the
Marmora, and the
mouth of the
forty-eight hours from
Bosphorus, across the Black Sea to
remain two days, visiting the harbors, fortifications, and
down through the
along the coasts
will be reached
in two or two and a half days from
A sufficient stay will be made here to give opportunity of visiting
Grecian Archipelago, close by the Isle of Patmos, along the coast
reached in three
make the journey
Leaving Joppa, the next point of interest to visit will be
of Caesar's Palace, Pompey's Pillar, Cleopatra's Needle, the
ruins of ancient
visit. The journey to
can be made in a few hours, and from which can be visited the site
magnificent harbors, with charming scenery, and abounding in fruits.
A day or two
will be spent at each place, and leaving
days will be
spent in this, the finest city of
along the coast
will be passed
but a mile or two distant, and
about twenty-four hours.
A stay of one day will be made here, and the voyage continued to
Marryatt writes: "I do not know a spot on the globe which so much
delights upon first arrival as
one or two days will be made here, which, if time permits, may be
extended, and passing on through the islands, and probably in sight
where mild and pleasant weather, and a smooth sea, can always be
A call will be
will be reached in about ten days from
after spending a short time with our friends the Bermudians, the
final departure will be made for home, which will be reached in
about three days.
applications have been received from parties in
wishing to join the Excursion there.
The ship will at all times be a home, where the excursionists, if
sick, will be surrounded by kind friends, and have all possible
comfort and sympathy.
Should contagious sickness exist in any of the ports named in the
program, such ports will be passed, and others of interest
The price of passage is fixed at $1,250, currency, for each adult
passenger. Choice of rooms and of seats at the tables apportioned
in the order in which passages are engaged; and no passage
considered engaged until ten percent of the passage money is
deposited with the treasurer.
Passengers can remain on board of the steamer, at all ports, if
they desire, without additional expense, and all boating at the
expense of the ship.
All passages must be paid for when taken, in order that the most
perfect arrangements be made for starting at the appointed time.
Applications for passage must be approved by the committee before
tickets are issued, and can be made to the undersigned.
Articles of interest or curiosity, procured by the passengers
during the voyage, may be brought home in the steamer free of
Five dollars per day, in gold, it is believed, will be a fair
calculation to make for all traveling expenses onshore and at the
various points where passengers may wish to leave the steamer for
days at a time.
The trip can be extended, and the route changed, by unanimous vote
of the passengers.
Committee on Applications J. T. H*****, ESQ. R. R. G*****,
Committee on Selecting Steamer CAPT. W. W. S* * * *, Surveyor
for Board of Underwriters
C******, Consulting Engineer for
P.S.--The very beautiful and substantial side-wheel steamship
commending the party to courtesies abroad.
What was there lacking about that program to make it
perfectly irresistible? Nothing that any
finite mind could discover.
Shortly a supplementary program was issued which set forth that the Plymouth Collection of Hymns would be used on board the ship. I then paid the balance of my passage money.
I was provided with a receipt and duly and officially accepted as an excursionist. There was happiness in that but it was tame compared to the novelty of being "select."
This supplementary program also instructed the excursionists
to provide themselves with light musical instruments for amusement in the ship,
with saddles for Syrian travel, green spectacles and umbrellas, veils for
Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was to have accompanied the
expedition, but urgent duties obliged him to give up the idea. There were other passengers who could have
been spared better and would have been spared more willingly. Lieutenant General Sherman was to have been
of the party also, but the Indian war compelled his presence on the
plains. A popular actress had entered
her name on the ship's books, but something interfered and she couldn't
go. The "Drummer Boy of the
However, we were to have a "battery of guns" from
the Navy Department (as per advertisement) to be used in answering royal
salutes; and the document furnished by the Secretary of the Navy, which was to
make "General Sherman and party" welcome guests in the courts and
camps of the old world, was still left to us, though both document and battery,
I think, were shorn of somewhat of their original august proportions. However,
had not we the seductive program still, with its
Occasionally, during the following month, I dropped in at 117 Wall Street to inquire how the repairing and refurnishing of the vessel was coming on, how additions to the passenger list were averaging, how many people the committee were decreeing not "select" every day and banishing in sorrow and tribulation. I was glad to know that we were to have a little printing press on board and issue a daily newspaper of our own. I was glad to learn that our piano, our parlor organ, and our melodeon were to be the best instruments of the kind that could be had in the market. I was proud to observe that among our excursionists were three ministers of the gospel, eight doctors, sixteen or eighteen ladies, several military and naval chieftains with sounding titles, an ample crop of "Professors" of various kinds, and a gentleman who had "COMMISSIONER OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO EUROPE, ASIA, AND AFRICA" thundering after his name in one awful blast! I had carefully prepared myself to take rather a back seat in that ship because of the uncommonly select material that would alone be permitted to pass through the camel's eye of that committee on credentials; I had schooled myself to expect an imposing array of military and naval heroes and to have to set that back seat still further back in consequence of it maybe; but I state frankly that I was all unprepared for this crusher.
I fell under that titular avalanche a torn and blighted thing. I said that if that potentate must go over in our ship, why, I supposed he must --but that to my thinking, when the United States considered it necessary to send a dignitary of that tonnage across the ocean, it would be in better taste, and safer, to take him apart and cart him over in sections in several ships.
Ah, if I had only known then that he was only a common mortal, and that his mission had nothing more overpowering about it than the collecting of seeds and uncommon yams and extraordinary cabbages and peculiar bullfrogs for that poor, useless, innocent, mildewed old fossil the Smithsonian Institute, I would have felt so much relieved.
During that memorable month I basked in the happiness of
being for once in my life drifting with the tide of a great popular
movement. Everybody was going to
Europe--I, too, was going to
"Never mind, I'll hand it to you in
"But I am not going to
"How is--what did I understand you to say?"
"I said I am not going to
"Not going to
"Nowhere at all."
"Not anywhere whatsoever?--not any place on earth but this?"
"Not any place at all but just this--stay here all summer."
My comrade took his purchase and walked out of the store without a word --walked out with an injured look upon his countenance. Up the street apiece he broke silence and said impressively: "It was a lie--that is my opinion of it!"
In the fullness of time the ship was ready to receive her
passengers. I was introduced to the young gentleman who was to be my roommate,
and found him to be intelligent, cheerful of spirit, unselfish, full of
generous impulses, patient, considerate, and wonderfully good-natured. Not any
passenger that sailed in the
The vessel was appointed to sail on a certain Saturday early in June.
A little after noon on that distinguished Saturday I reached the ship and went on board. All was bustle and confusion. [I have seen that remark before somewhere.] The pier was crowded with carriages and men; passengers were arriving and hurrying on board; the vessel's decks were encumbered with trunks and valises; groups of excursionists, arrayed in unattractive traveling costumes, were moping about in a drizzling rain and looking as droopy and woebegone as so many molting chickens. The gallant flag was up, but it was under the spell, too, and hung limp and disheartened by the mast. Altogether, it was the bluest, bluest spectacle! It was a pleasure excursion--there was no gainsaying that, because the program said so--it was so nominated in the bond--but it surely hadn't the general aspect of one.
Finally, above the banging, and rumbling, and shouting, and hissing of steam rang the order to "cast off!"--a sudden rush to the gangways--a scampering ashore of visitors-a revolution of the wheels, and we were off--the pic-nic was begun! Two very mild cheers went up from the dripping crowd on the pier; we answered them gently from the slippery decks; the flag made an effort to wave, and failed; the "battery of guns" spake not--the ammunition was out.
We steamed down to the foot of the harbor and came to anchor. It was still raining. And not only raining, but storming. "Outside" we could see, ourselves, that there was a tremendous sea on. We must lie still, in the calm harbor, till the storm should abate. Our passengers hailed from fifteen states; only a few of them had ever been to sea before; manifestly it would not do to pit them against a full-blown tempest until they had got their sea-legs on. Toward evening the two steam tugs that had accompanied us with a rollicking champagne-party of young New Yorkers on board who wished to bid farewell to one of our number in due and ancient form departed, and we were alone on the deep. On deep five fathoms, and anchored fast to the bottom. And out in the solemn rain, at that. This was pleasuring with a vengeance.
It was an appropriate relief when the gong sounded for prayer meeting. The first Saturday night of any other pleasure excursion might have been devoted to whist and dancing; but I submit it to the unprejudiced mind if it would have been in good taste for us to engage in such frivolities, considering what we had gone through and the frame of mind we were in. We would have shone at a wake, but not at anything more festive.
However, there is always a cheering influence about the sea; and in my berth that night, rocked by the measured swell of the waves and lulled by the murmur of the distant surf, I soon passed tranquilly out of all consciousness of the dreary experiences of the day and damaging premonitions of the future.
All day Sunday at anchor. The storm had gone down a great deal, but the sea had not. It was still piling its frothy hills high in air "outside," as we could plainly see with the glasses. We could not properly begin a pleasure excursion on Sunday; we could not offer untried stomachs to so pitiless a sea as that. We must lie still till Monday. And we did. But we had repetitions of church and prayer-meetings; and so, of course, we were just as eligibly situated as we could have been any where.
I was up early that Sabbath morning and was early to breakfast. I felt a perfectly natural desire to have a good, long, unprejudiced look at the passengers at a time when they should be free from self-consciousness --which is at breakfast, when such a moment occurs in the lives of human beings at all.
I was greatly surprised to see so many elderly people--I might almost say, so many venerable people. A glance at the long lines of heads was apt to make one think it was all gray. But it was not. There was a tolerably fair sprinkling of young folks, and another fair sprinkling of gentlemen and ladies who were non-committal as to age, being neither actually old or absolutely young.
The next morning we weighed anchor and went to sea. It was a great happiness to get away after this
dragging, dispiriting delay. I thought
there never was such gladness in the air before, such brightness in the sun,
such beauty in the sea. I was satisfied
with the picnic then and with all its belongings. All my malicious instincts were dead within
me; and as
It was breezy and pleasant, but the sea was still very rough. One could not promenade without risking his neck; at one moment the bowsprit was taking a deadly aim at the sun in midheaven, and at the next it was trying to harpoon a shark in the bottom of the ocean. What a weird sensation it is to feel the stem of a ship sinking swiftly from under you and see the bow climbing high away among the clouds! One's safest course that day was to clasp a railing and hang on; walking was too precarious a pastime.
By some happy fortune I was not seasick.--That was a thing to be proud of. I had not always escaped before. If there is one thing in the world that will make a man peculiarly and insufferably self-conceited, it is to have his stomach behave itself, the first day it sea, when nearly all his comrades are seasick. Soon a venerable fossil, shawled to the chin and bandaged like a mummy, appeared at the door of the after deck-house, and the next lurch of the ship shot him into my arms. I said:
"Good-morning, Sir. It is a fine day."
He put his hand on his stomach and said, "Oh, my!" and then staggered away and fell over the coop of a skylight.
Presently another old gentleman was projected from the same door with great violence. I said:
"Calm yourself, Sir--There is no hurry. It is a fine day, Sir."
He, also, put his hand on his stomach and said "Oh, my!" and reeled away.
In a little while another veteran was discharged abruptly from the same door, clawing at the air for a saving support. I said:
"Good morning, Sir. It is a fine day for pleasuring. You were about to say--"
I thought so. I anticipated him, anyhow. I stayed there and was bombarded with old gentlemen for an hour, perhaps; and all I got out of any of them was "Oh, my!"
I went away then in a thoughtful mood. I said, this is a good pleasure excursion. I like it. The passengers are not garrulous, but still they are sociable. I like those old people, but somehow they all seem to have the "Oh, my" rather bad.
I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves. Playing whist by the cabin lamps when it is storming outside is pleasant; walking the quarterdeck in the moonlight is pleasant; smoking in the breezy foretop is pleasant when one is not afraid to go up there; but these are all feeble and commonplace compared with the joy of seeing people suffering the miseries of seasickness.
I picked up a good deal of information during the afternoon. At one time I was climbing up the quarterdeck when the vessel's stem was in the sky; I was smoking a cigar and feeling passably comfortable. Somebody ejaculated:
"Come, now, that won't answer. Read the sign up there--NO SMOKING ABAFT THE WHEEL!"
It was Captain Duncan, chief of the expedition. I went forward, of course. I saw a long spyglass lying on a desk in one of the upper-deck state-rooms back of the pilot-house and reached after it--there was a ship in the distance.
"Ah, ah--hands off! Come out of that!"
I came out of that. I said to a deck-sweep--but in a low voice:
"Who is that overgrown pirate with the whiskers and the discordant voice?"
"It's Captain Bursley--executive officer--sailing master."
I loitered about awhile, and then, for want of something better to do, fell to carving a railing with my knife. Somebody said, in an insinuating, admonitory voice:
"Now, say--my friend--don't you know any better than to be whittling the ship all to pieces that way? You ought to know better than that."
I went back and found the deck sweep.
"Who is that smooth-faced, animated outrage yonder in the fine clothes?"
"That's Captain L****, the owner of the ship--he's one of the main bosses."
In the course of time I brought up on the starboard side of the pilot-house and found a sextant lying on a bench. Now, I said, they "take the sun" through this thing; I should think I might see that vessel through it. I had hardly got it to my eye when someone touched me on the shoulder and said deprecatingly:
"I'll have to get you to give that to me, Sir. If there's anything you'd like to know about taking the sun, I'd as soon tell you as not--but I don't like to trust anybody with that instrument. If you want any figuring done--Aye, aye, sir!"
He was gone to answer a call from the other side. I sought the deck-sweep.
"Who is that spider-legged gorilla yonder with the sanctimonious countenance?"
"It's Captain Jones, sir--the chief mate."
"Well. This goes clear away ahead of anything I ever heard of before. Do you--now I ask you as a man and a brother--do you think I could venture to throw a rock here in any given direction without hitting a captain of this ship?"
"Well, sir, I don't know--I think likely you'd fetch the captain of the watch may be, because he's a-standing right yonder in the way."
I went below--meditating and a little downhearted. I thought, if five cooks can spoil a broth, what may not five captains do with a pleasure excursion.
We plowed along bravely for a week or more, and without any conflict of jurisdiction among the captains worth mentioning. The passengers soon learned to accommodate themselves to their new circumstances, and life in the ship became nearly as systematically monotonous as the routine of a barrack. I do not mean that it was dull, for it was not entirely so by any means--but there was a good deal of sameness about it. As is always the fashion at sea, the passengers shortly began to pick up sailor terms --a sign that they were beginning to feel at home. Half-past six was no longer half-past six to these pilgrims from New England, the South, and the Mississippi Valley, it was "seven bells"; eight, twelve, and four o'clock were "eight bells"; the captain did not take the longitude at nine o'clock, but at "two bells." They spoke glibly of the "after cabin," the "for'rard cabin," "port and starboard" and the "fo'castle."
At seven bells the first gong rang; at eight there was breakfast, for such as were not too seasick to eat it. After that all the well people walked arm-in-arm up and down the long promenade deck, enjoying the fine summer mornings, and the seasick ones crawled out and propped themselves up in the lee of the paddle-boxes and ate their dismal tea and toast, and looked wretched. From eleven o'clock until luncheon, and from luncheon until dinner at six in the evening, the employments and amusements were various. Some reading was done, and much smoking and sewing, though not by the same parties; there were the monsters of the deep to be looked after and wondered at; strange ships had to be scrutinized through opera-glasses, and sage decisions arrived at concerning them; and more than that, everybody took a personal interest in seeing that the flag was run up and politely dipped three times in response to the salutes of those strangers; in the smoking room there were always parties of gentlemen playing euchre, draughts and dominoes, especially dominoes, that delightfully harmless game; and down on the main deck, "for'rard" --for'rard of the chicken-coops and the cattle--we had what was called "horse billiards." Horse billiards is a fine game. It affords good, active exercise, hilarity, and consuming excitement. It is a mixture of "hop-scotch" and shuffleboard played with a crutch. A large hop-scotch diagram is marked out on the deck with chalk, and each compartment numbered. You stand off three or four steps, with some broad wooden disks before you on the deck, and these you send forward with a vigorous thrust of a long crutch. If a disk stops on a chalk line, it does not count anything. If it stops in division No. 7, it counts 7; in 5, it counts 5, and so on. The game is 100, and four can play at a time. That game would be very simple played on a stationary floor, but with us, to play it well required science. We had to allow for the reeling of the ship to the right or the left. Very often one made calculations for a heel to the right and the ship did not go that way. The consequence was that that disk missed the whole hopscotch plan a yard or two, and then there was humiliation on one side and laughter on the other.
When it rained the passengers had to stay in the house, of course--or at least the cabins--and amuse themselves with games, reading, looking out of the windows at the very familiar billows, and talking gossip.
By 7 o'clock in the evening, dinner was about over; an hour's promenade on the upper deck followed; then the gong sounded and a large majority of the party repaired to the after cabin (upper), a handsome saloon fifty or sixty feet long, for prayers. The unregenerated called this saloon the "Synagogue." The devotions consisted only of two hymns from the Plymouth Collection and a short prayer, and seldom occupied more than fifteen minutes. The hymns were accompanied by parlor-organ music when the sea was smooth enough to allow a performer to sit at the instrument without being lashed to his chair.
After prayers the Synagogue shortly took the semblance of a writing school. The like of that picture was never seen in a ship before. Behind the long dining tables on either side of the saloon, and scattered from one end to the other of the latter, some twenty or thirty gentlemen and ladies sat them down under the swaying lamps and for two or three hours wrote diligently in their journals. Alas! that journals so voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as most of them did! I doubt if there is a single pilgrim of all that host but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty days' voyaging in the Quaker City, and I am morally certain that not ten of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty thousand miles of voyaging! At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.
One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in the way of length and straightness and slimness, used to report progress every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:
"Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang in his happier moods.) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night--and you know I wrote nine the night before and twelve the night before that. Why, it's only fun!"
"What do you find to put in it, Jack?"
"Oh, everything. Latitude and longitude, noon every day; and how many miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino games I beat and horse billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the sermon Sundays (because that'll tell at home, you know); and the ships we saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind always--wonder what is the reason of that?--and how many lies Moult has told--Oh, every thing! I've got everything down. My father told me to keep that journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it done."
"No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollars--when you get it done."
"Do you?--no, but do you think it will, though?
"Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollars--when you get it done. May be more."
"Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."
But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a
journal." One night in
"Now I'll go and stroll around the cafes awhile, Jack, and give you a chance to write up your journal, old fellow."
His countenance lost its fire. He said:
"Well, no, you needn't mind. I think I won't run that journal anymore. It
is awful tedious. Do you know--I reckon
I'm as much as four thousand pages behind hand.
I haven't got any
"Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn't of much use, but a journal properly kept is worth a thousand dollars--when you've got it done."
"A thousand!--well, I should think so. I wouldn't finish it for a million."
His experience was only the experience of the majority of that industrious night school in the cabin. If you wish to inflict a heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to keep a journal a year.
A good many expedients were resorted to to keep the excursionists amused and satisfied. A club was formed, of all the passengers, which met in the writing school after prayers and read aloud about the countries we were approaching and discussed the information so obtained.
Several times the photographer of the expedition brought out his transparent pictures and gave us a handsome magic-lantern exhibition. His views were nearly all of foreign scenes, but there were one or two home pictures among them. He advertised that he would "open his performance in the after cabin at 'two bells' (nine P.M.) and show the passengers where they shall eventually arrive"--which was all very well, but by a funny accident the first picture that flamed out upon the canvas was a view of Greenwood Cemetery!
On several starlight nights we danced on the upper deck,
under the awnings, and made something of a ball-room display of brilliancy by
hanging a number of ship's lanterns to the stanchions. Our music consisted of the well-mixed strains
of a melodeon which was a little asthmatic and apt to catch its breath where it
ought to come out strong, a clarinet which was a little unreliable on the high
keys and rather melancholy on the low ones, and a disreputable accordion that
had a leak somewhere and breathed louder than it squawked--a more elegant term
does not occur to me just now. However,
the dancing was infinitely worse than the music. When the ship rolled to starboard the whole
platoon of dancers came charging down to starboard with it, and brought up in
mass at the rail; and when it rolled to port they went floundering down to port
with the same unanimity of sentiment.
Waltzers spun around precariously for a matter of fifteen seconds and
then went scurrying down to the rail as if they meant to go overboard. The Virginia reel, as performed on board the
We celebrated a lady's birthday anniversary with toasts, speeches, a poem, and so forth. We also had a mock trial. No ship ever went to sea that hadn't a mock trial on board. The purser was accused of stealing an overcoat from stateroom No. 10. A judge was appointed; also clerks, a crier of the court, constables, sheriffs; counsel for the State and for the defendant; witnesses were subpoenaed, and a jury empaneled after much challenging. The witnesses were stupid and unreliable and contradictory, as witnesses always are. The counsel were eloquent, argumentative, and vindictively abusive of each other, as was characteristic and proper. The case was at last submitted and duly finished by the judge with an absurd decision and a ridiculous sentence.
The acting of charades was tried on several evenings by the young gentlemen and ladies, in the cabins, and proved the most distinguished success of all the amusement experiments.
An attempt was made to organize a debating club, but it was a failure. There was no oratorical talent in the ship.
We all enjoyed ourselves--I think I can safely say that, but it was in a rather quiet way. We very, very seldom played the piano; we played the flute and the clarinet together, and made good music, too, what there was of it, but we always played the same old tune; it was a very pretty tune --how well I remember it--I wonder when I shall ever get rid of it. We never played either the melodeon or the organ except at devotions--but I am too fast: young Albert did know part of a tune something about "O Something-Or-Other How Sweet It Is to Know That He's His What's-his-Name" (I do not remember the exact title of it, but it was very plaintive and full of sentiment); Albert played that pretty much all the time until we contracted with him to restrain himself. But nobody ever sang by moonlight on the upper deck, and the congregational singing at church and prayers was not of a superior order of architecture. I put up with it as long as I could and then joined in and tried to improve it, but this encouraged young George to join in too, and that made a failure of it; because George's voice was just "turning," and when he was singing a dismal sort of bass it was apt to fly off the handle and startle everybody with a most discordant cackle on the upper notes. George didn't know the tunes, either, which was also a drawback to his performances. I said:
"Come, now, George, don't improvise. It looks too egotistical. It will provoke remark. Just stick to 'Coronation,' like the others. It is a good tune--you can't improve it any, just off-hand, in this way."
"Why, I'm not trying to improve it--and I am singing like the others --just as it is in the notes."
And he honestly thought he was, too; and so he had no one to blame but himself when his voice caught on the center occasionally and gave him the lockjaw.
There were those among the unregenerated who attributed the
unceasing head-winds to our distressing choir-music. There were those who said openly that it was
taking chances enough to have such ghastly music going on, even when it was at
its best; and that to exaggerate the crime by letting George help was simply
flying in the face of
There were even grumblers at the prayers. The executive officer said the pilgrims had no charity:
"There they are, down there every night at eight bells, praying for fair winds--when they know as well as I do that this is the only ship going east this time of the year, but there's a thousand coming west--what's a fair wind for us is a head wind to them--the Almighty's blowing a fair wind for a thousand vessels, and this tribe wants him to turn it clear around so as to accommodate one--and she a steamship at that! It ain't good sense, it ain't good reason, it ain't good Christianity, it ain't common human charity. Avast with such nonsense!"
Taking it "by and large," as the sailors say, we had a pleasant ten days' run from New York to the Azores islands--not a fast run, for the distance is only twenty-four hundred miles, but a right pleasant one in the main. True, we had head winds all the time, and several stormy experiences which sent fifty percent of the passengers to bed sick and made the ship look dismal and deserted--stormy experiences that all will remember who weathered them on the tumbling deck and caught the vast sheets of spray that every now and then sprang high in air from the weather bow and swept the ship like a thunder-shower; but for the most part we had balmy summer weather and nights that were even finer than the days. We had the phenomenon of a full moon located just in the same spot in the heavens at the same hour every night. The reason of this singular conduct on the part of the moon did not occur to us at first, but it did afterward when we reflected that we were gaining about twenty minutes every day because we were going east so fast--we gained just about enough every day to keep along with the moon. It was becoming an old moon to the friends we had left behind us, but to us Joshuas it stood still in the same place and remained always the same.
Young Mr. Blucher, who is from the
"This thing's a swindle!"
"What's a swindle?"
"Why, this watch.
I bought her out in
The ship was gaining a full hour every three days, and this fellow was trying to make his watch go fast enough to keep up to her. But, as he had said, he had pushed the regulator up as far as it would go, and the watch was "on its best gait," and so nothing was left him but to fold his hands and see the ship beat the race. We sent him to the captain, and he explained to him the mystery of "ship time" and set his troubled mind at rest. This young man asked a great many questions about seasickness before we left, and wanted to know what its characteristics were and how he was to tell when he had it. He found out.
We saw the usual sharks, blackfish, porpoises, &c., of course, and by and by large schools of Portuguese men-of-war were added to the regular list of sea wonders. Some of them were white and some of a brilliant carmine color. The nautilus is nothing but a transparent web of jelly that spreads itself to catch the wind, and has fleshy-looking strings a foot or two long dangling from it to keep it steady in the water. It is an accomplished sailor and has good sailor judgment. It reefs its sail when a storm threatens or the wind blows pretty hard, and furls it entirely and goes down when a gale blows. Ordinarily it keeps its sail wet and in good sailing order by turning over and dipping it in the water for a moment. Seamen say the nautilus is only found in these waters between the 35th and 45th parallels of latitude.
At three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first of June,
we were awakened and notified that the
The island in sight was
We skirted around two-thirds of the island, four miles from
shore, and all the opera glasses in the ship were called into requisition to
settle disputes as to whether mossy spots on the uplands were groves of trees
or groves of weeds, or whether the white villages down by the sea were really
villages or only the clustering tombstones of cemeteries. Finally we stood to sea and bore away for San
But we had to change our purpose about San Miguel, for a
storm came up about noon that so tossed and pitched the vessel that common
sense dictated a run for shelter.
Therefore we steered for the nearest island of the group--
The islands belong to
The Portuguese pennies, or reis (pronounced rays), are prodigious. It takes one thousand reis to make a dollar, and all financial estimates are made in reis. We did not know this until after we had found it out through Blucher. Blucher said he was so happy and so grateful to be on solid land once more that he wanted to give a feast--said he had heard it was a cheap land, and he was bound to have a grand banquet. He invited nine of us, and we ate an excellent dinner at the principal hotel. In the midst of the jollity produced by good cigars, good wine, and passable anecdotes, the landlord presented his bill. Blucher glanced at it and his countenance fell. He took another look to assure himself that his senses had not deceived him and then read the items aloud, in a faltering voice, while the roses in his cheeks turned to ashes:
"'Ten dinners, at 600 reis, 6,000 reis!' Ruin and desolation!
"'Twenty-five cigars, at 100 reis, 2,500 reis!' Oh, my sainted mother!
"'Eleven bottles of wine, at 1,200 reis, 13,200 reis!' Be with us all!
"'TOTAL, TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED REIS!' The suffering Moses! There ain't money enough in the ship to pay that bill! Go--leave me to my misery, boys, I am a ruined community."
I think it was the blankest-looking party I ever saw. Nobody could say a word. It was as if every soul had been stricken dumb. Wine glasses descended slowly to the table, their contents untasted. Cigars dropped unnoticed from nerveless fingers. Each man sought his neighbor's eye, but found in it no ray of hope, no encouragement. At last the fearful silence was broken. The shadow of a desperate resolve settled upon Blucher's countenance like a cloud, and he rose up and said:
"Landlord, this is a low, mean swindle, and I'll never, never stand it. Here's a hundred and fifty dollars, Sir, and it's all you'll get--I'll swim in blood before I'll pay a cent more."
Our spirits rose and the landlord's fell--at least we thought so; he was confused, at any rate, notwithstanding he had not understood a word that had been said. He glanced from the little pile of gold pieces to Blucher several times and then went out. He must have visited an American, for when he returned, he brought back his bill translated into a language that a Christian could understand--thus:
10 dinners, 6,000 reis, or . . .$6.00
25 cigars, 2,500 reis, or . . . 2.50
11 bottles wine, 13,200 reis, or 13.20
Total 21,700 reis, or . . . . $21.70
Happiness reigned once more in Blucher's dinner party. More refreshments were ordered.
I think the Azores must be very little known in
The community is eminently Portuguese--that is to say, it is
slow, poor, shiftless, sleepy, and lazy.
There is a civil governor, appointed by the King of Portugal, and also a
military governor, who can assume supreme control and suspend the civil
government at his pleasure. The islands
contain a population of about 200,000, almost entirely Portuguese. Everything
is staid and settled, for the country was one hundred years old when
It is in communities like this that Jesuit humbuggery
flourishes. We visited a Jesuit
cathedral nearly two hundred years old and found in it a piece of the veritable
cross upon which our Saviour was crucified.
It was polished and hard, and in as excellent a state of preservation as
if the dread tragedy on
In a chapel of the cathedral is an altar with facings of solid silver--at least they call it so, and I think myself it would go a couple of hundred to the ton (to speak after the fashion of the silver miners)--and before it is kept forever burning a small lamp. A devout lady who died, left money and contracted for unlimited masses for the repose of her soul, and also stipulated that this lamp should be kept lighted always, day and night. She did all this before she died, you understand. It is a very small lamp and a very dim one, and it could not work her much damage, I think, if it went out altogether.
The great altar of the cathedral and also three or four minor ones are a perfect mass of gilt gimcracks and gingerbread. And they have a swarm of rusty, dusty, battered apostles standing around the filagree work, some on one leg and some with one eye out but a gamey look in the other, and some with two or three fingers gone, and some with not enough nose left to blow--all of them crippled and discouraged, and fitter subjects for the hospital than the cathedral.
The walls of the chancel are of porcelain, all pictured over with figures of almost life size, very elegantly wrought and dressed in the fanciful costumes of two centuries ago. The design was a history of something or somebody, but none of us were learned enough to read the story. The old father, reposing under a stone close by, dated 1686, might have told us if he could have risen. But he didn't.
As we came down through the town we encountered a squad of little donkeys ready saddled for use. The saddles were peculiar, to say the least. They consisted of a sort of saw-buck with a small mattress on it, and this furniture covered about half the donkey. There were no stirrups, but really such supports were not needed--to use such a saddle was the next thing to riding a dinner table--there was ample support clear out to one's knee joints. A pack of ragged Portuguese muleteers crowded around us, offering their beasts at half a dollar an hour--more rascality to the stranger, for the market price is sixteen cents. Half a dozen of us mounted the ungainly affairs and submitted to the indignity of making a ridiculous spectacle of ourselves through the principal streets of a town of 10,000 inhabitants.
We started. It was not a trot, a gallop, or a canter, but a stampede, and made up of all possible or conceivable gaits. No spurs were necessary. There was a muleteer to every donkey and a dozen volunteers beside, and they banged the donkeys with their goad sticks, and pricked them with their spikes, and shouted something that sounded like "Sekki-yah!" and kept up a din and a racket that was worse than Bedlam itself. These rascals were all on foot, but no matter, they were always up to time--they can outrun and outlast a donkey. Altogether, ours was a lively and a picturesque procession, and drew crowded audiences to the balconies wherever we went.
Blucher could do nothing at all with his donkey. The beast scampered zigzag across the road and the others ran into him; he scraped Blucher against carts and the corners of houses; the road was fenced in with high stone walls, and the donkey gave him a polishing first on one side and then on the other, but never once took the middle; he finally came to the house he was born in and darted into the parlor, scraping Blucher off at the doorway. After remounting, Blucher said to the muleteer, "Now, that's enough, you know; you go slow hereafter."
But the fellow knew no English and did not understand, so he simply said, "Sekki-yah!" and the donkey was off again like a shot. He turned a comer suddenly, and Blucher went over his head. And, to speak truly, every mule stumbled over the two, and the whole cavalcade was piled up in a heap. No harm done. A fall from one of those donkeys is of little more consequence than rolling off a sofa. The donkeys all stood still after the catastrophe and waited for their dismembered saddles to be patched up and put on by the noisy muleteers. Blucher was pretty angry and wanted to swear, but every time he opened his mouth his animal did so also and let off a series of brays that drowned all other sounds.
It was fun, scurrying around the breezy hills and through the beautiful canyons. There was that rare thing, novelty, about it; it was a fresh, new, exhilarating sensation, this donkey riding, and worth a hundred worn and threadbare home pleasures.
The roads were a wonder, and well they might be. Here was an island with only a handful of
people in it--25,000--and yet such fine roads do not exist in the
The bridges are of a single span--a single arch--of cut
stone, without a support, and paved on top with flags of lava and ornamental
pebblework. Everywhere are walls, walls, walls, and all of them tasteful and
handsome--and eternally substantial; and everywhere are those marvelous
pavements, so neat, so smooth, and so indestructible. And if ever roads and streets and the
outsides of houses were perfectly free from any sign or semblance of dirt, or
dust, or mud, or uncleanliness of any kind, it is Horta, it is
We arrived home again finally, after a ten-mile excursion, and the irrepressible muleteers scampered at our heels through the main street, goading the donkeys, shouting the everlasting "Sekki-yah," and singing "John Brown's Body" in ruinous English.
When we were dismounted and it came to settling, the shouting and jawing and swearing and quarreling among the muleteers and with us was nearly deafening. One fellow would demand a dollar an hour for the use of his donkey; another claimed half a dollar for pricking him up, another a quarter for helping in that service, and about fourteen guides presented bills for showing us the way through the town and its environs; and every vagrant of them was more vociferous, and more vehement and more frantic in gesture than his neighbor. We paid one guide and paid for one muleteer to each donkey.
The mountains on some of the islands are very high. We sailed along the shore of the
We got plenty of fresh oranges, lemons, figs, apricots,
etc., in these
We are on our way to Gibraltar, and shall reach there five
or six days out from the
A week of buffeting a tempestuous and relentless sea; a week of seasickness and deserted cabins; of lonely quarterdecks drenched with spray--spray so ambitious that it even coated the smokestacks thick with a white crust of salt to their very tops; a week of shivering in the shelter of the lifeboats and deckhouses by day and blowing suffocating "clouds" and boisterously performing at dominoes in the smoking room at night.
And the last night of the seven was the stormiest of all. There was no thunder, no noise but the pounding bows of the ship, the keen whistling of the gale through the cordage, and the rush of the seething waters. But the vessel climbed aloft as if she would climb to heaven--then paused an instant that seemed a century and plunged headlong down again, as from a precipice. The sheeted sprays drenched the decks like rain. The blackness of darkness was everywhere. At long intervals a flash of lightning clove it with a quivering line of fire that revealed a heaving world of water where was nothing before, kindled the dusky cordage to glittering silver, and lit up the faces of the men with a ghastly luster!
Fear drove many on deck that were used to avoiding the night winds and the spray. Some thought the vessel could not live through the night, and it seemed less dreadful to stand out in the midst of the wild tempest and see the peril that threatened than to be shut up in the sepulchral cabins, under the dim lamps, and imagine the horrors that were abroad on the ocean. And once out--once where they could see the ship struggling in the strong grasp of the storm--once where they could hear the shriek of the winds and face the driving spray and look out upon the majestic picture the lightnings disclosed, they were prisoners to a fierce fascination they could not resist, and so remained. It was a wild night --and a very, very long one.
Everybody was sent scampering to the deck at seven o'clock this lovely morning of the thirtieth of June with the glad news that land was in sight! It was a rare thing and a joyful, to see all the ship's family abroad once more, albeit the happiness that sat upon every countenance could only partly conceal the ravages which that long siege of storms had wrought there. But dull eyes soon sparkled with pleasure, pallid cheeks flushed again, and frames weakened by sickness gathered new life from the quickening influences of the bright, fresh morning. Yea, and from a still more potent influence: the worn castaways were to see the blessed land again!--and to see it was to bring back that motherland that was in all their thoughts.
Within the hour we were fairly within the Straits of
Gibraltar, the tall yellow-splotched hills of
At short intervals along the Spanish shore were
quaint-looking old stone towers--Moorish, we thought--but learned better
afterwards. In former times the
The picture on the other hand was very beautiful to eyes
weary of the changeless sea, and by and by the ship's company grew wonderfully
cheerful. But while we stood admiring
the cloud-capped peaks and the lowlands robed in misty gloom a finer picture
burst upon us and chained every eye like a magnet--a stately ship, with canvas
piled on canvas till she was one towering mass of bellying sail! She came speeding over the sea like a great
bird. Africa and
We were approaching the famed
In a few moments a lonely and enormous mass of rock, standing seemingly in the center of the wide strait and apparently washed on all sides by the sea, swung magnificently into view, and we needed no tedious traveled parrot to tell us it was Gibraltar. There could not be two rocks like that in one kingdom.
The Rock of Gibraltar is about a mile and a half long, I
should say, by 1,400 to
"Are you going through
But behold how annoyances repeat themselves. We had no sooner gotten rid of the Spain distress than the Gibraltar guides started another--a tiresome repetition of a legend that had nothing very astonishing about it, even in the first place: "That high hill yonder is called the Queen's Chair; it is because one of the queens of Spain placed her chair there when the French and Spanish troops were besieging Gibraltar, and said she would never move from the spot till the English flag was lowered from the fortresses. If the English hadn't been gallant enough to lower the flag for a few hours one day, she'd have had to break her oath or die up there."
We rode on asses and mules up the steep, narrow streets and entered the subterranean galleries the English have blasted out in the rock. These galleries are like spacious railway tunnels, and at short intervals in them great guns frown out upon sea and town through portholes five or six hundred feet above the ocean. There is a mile or so of this subterranean work, and it must have cost a vast deal of money and labor. The gallery guns command the peninsula and the harbors of both oceans, but they might as well not be there, I should think, for an army could hardly climb the perpendicular wall of the rock anyhow. Those lofty portholes afford superb views of the sea, though. At one place, where a jutting crag was hollowed out into a great chamber whose furniture was huge cannon and whose windows were portholes, a glimpse was caught of a hill not far away, and a soldier said:
"That high hill yonder is called the Queen's Chair; it
is because a queen of
On the topmost pinnacle of
While I was resting ever so comfortably on a rampart, and cooling my baking head in the delicious breeze, an officious guide belonging to another party came up and said:
"Senor, that high hill yonder is called the Queen's Chair--"
"Sir, I am a helpless orphan in a foreign land. Have pity on me. Don't --now don't inflict that most in-FERNAL old legend on me anymore today!"
There--I had used strong language after promising I would
never do so again; but the provocation was more than human nature could
bear. If you had been bored so, when you
had the noble panorama of
The Moors held the place twelve hundred years ago, and a
staunch old castle of theirs of that date still frowns from the middle of the
town, with moss-grown battlements and sides well scarred by shots fired in
battles and sieges that are forgotten now.
A secret chamber in the rock behind it was discovered some time ago,
which contained a sword of exquisite workmanship, and some quaint old armor of
a fashion that antiquaries are not acquainted with, though it is supposed to be
Roman. Roman armor and Roman relics of various kinds have been found in a cave
in the sea extremity of Gibraltar; history says
In that cave also are found human bones, crusted with a very
thick, stony coating, and wise men have ventured to say that those men not only
lived before the flood, but as much as ten thousand years before it. It may be true--it looks reasonable
enough--but as long as those parties can't vote anymore, the matter can be of
no great public interest. In this cave
likewise are found skeletons and fossils of animals that exist in every part of
Africa, yet within memory and tradition have never existed in any portion of
Spain save this lone peak of Gibraltar!
So the theory is that the channel between Gibraltar and Africa was once
dry land, and that the low, neutral neck between Gibraltar and the Spanish
hills behind it was once ocean, and of course that these African animals, being
There is an English garrison at Gibraltar of 6,000 or 7,000 men, and so uniforms of flaming red are plenty; and red and blue, and undress costumes of snowy white, and also the queer uniform of the bare-kneed Highlander; and one sees soft-eyed Spanish girls from San Roque, and veiled Moorish beauties (I suppose they are beauties) from Tarifa, and turbaned, sashed, and trousered Moorish merchants from Fez, and long-robed, bare-legged, ragged Muhammadan vagabonds from Tetuan and Tangier, some brown, some yellow and some as black as virgin ink--and Jews from all around, in gabardine, skullcap, and slippers, just as they are in pictures and theaters, and just as they were three thousand years ago, no doubt. You can easily understand that a tribe (somehow our pilgrims suggest that expression, because they march in a straggling procession through these foreign places with such an Indian-like air of complacency and independence about them) like ours, made up from fifteen or sixteen states of the Union, found enough to stare at in this shifting panorama of fashion today.
Speaking of our pilgrims reminds me that we have one or two people among us who are sometimes an annoyance. However, I do not count the Oracle in that list. I will explain that the Oracle is an innocent old ass who eats for four and looks wiser than the whole Academy of France would have any right to look, and never uses a one-syllable word when he can think of a longer one, and never by any possible chance knows the meaning of any long word he uses or ever gets it in the right place; yet he will serenely venture an opinion on the most abstruse subject and back it up complacently with quotations from authors who never existed, and finally when cornered will slide to the other side of the question, say he has been there all the time, and come back at you with your own spoken arguments, only with the big words all tangled, and play them in your very teeth as original with himself. He reads a chapter in the guidebooks, mixes the facts all up, with his bad memory, and then goes off to inflict the whole mess on somebody as wisdom which has been festering in his brain for years and which he gathered in college from erudite authors who are dead now and out of print. This morning at breakfast he pointed out of the window and said:
"Do you see that there hill out there on that African coast? It's one of them Pillows of Herkewls, I should say--and there's the ultimate one alongside of it."
"The ultimate one--that is a good word--but the pillars are not both on the same side of the strait." (I saw he had been deceived by a carelessly written sentence in the guidebook.)
"Well, it ain't for you to say, nor for me. Some authors states it that way, and some states it different. Old Gibbons don't say nothing about it--just shirks it complete--Gibbons always done that when he got stuck --but there is Rolampton, what does he say? Why, be says that they was both on the same side, and Trinculian, and Sobaster, and Syraccus, and Langomarganbl----"
"Oh, that will do--that's enough. If you have got your hand in for inventing authors and testimony, I have nothing more to say--let them be on the same side."
We don't mind the Oracle. We rather like him. We can tolerate the Oracle very easily, but we have a poet and a good-natured enterprising idiot on board, and they do distress the company. The one gives copies of his verses to consuls, commanders, hotel keepers, Arabs, Dutch--to anybody, in fact, who will submit to a grievous infliction most kindly meant. His poetry is all very well on shipboard, notwithstanding when he wrote an "Ode to the Ocean in a Storm" in one half hour, and an "Apostrophe to the Rooster in the Waist of the Ship" in the next, the transition was considered to be rather abrupt; but when he sends an invoice of rhymes to the Governor of Fayal and another to the commander in chief and other dignitaries in Gibraltar with the compliments of the Laureate of the Ship, it is not popular with the passengers.
The other personage I have mentioned is young and green, and
not bright, not learned, and not wise.
He will be, though, someday if he recollects the answers to all his
questions. He is known about the ship as
the "Interrogation Point," and this by constant use has become
shortened to "Interrogation."
He has distinguished himself twice already. In
"Well, yes, it is a little remarkable--singular tunnel altogether--stands up out of the top of the hill about two hundred feet, and one end of it sticks out of the hill about nine hundred!"
Here in Gibraltar he corners these educated British officers
and badgers them with braggadocio about
At this present moment half a dozen of us are taking a
private pleasure excursion of our own devising.
We form rather more than half the list of white passengers on board a
small steamer bound for the venerable Moorish town of
We even steamed recklessly by the frowning fortress of Malabat (a stronghold of the Emperor of Morocco) without a twinge of fear. The whole garrison turned out under arms and assumed a threatening attitude--yet still we did not fear. The entire garrison marched and counter-marched within the rampart, in full view--yet notwithstanding even this, we never flinched.
I suppose we really do not know what fear is. I inquired the name of the garrison of the fortress of Malabat, and they said it was Mehemet Ali Ben Sancom. I said it would be a good idea to get some more garrisons to help him; but they said no, he had nothing to do but hold the place, and he was competent to do that, had done it two years already. That was evidence which one could not well refute. There is nothing like reputation.
Every now and then my glove purchase in
"Oh, it is just right!" Yet I knew it was no such thing.
I tugged at it diligently, but it was discouraging work. She said:
"Ah! I see you are accustomed to wearing kid gloves--but some gentlemen are so awkward about putting them on."
It was the last compliment I had expected. I only understand putting on the buckskin article perfectly. I made another effort and tore the glove from the base of the thumb into the palm of the hand--and tried to hide the rent. She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die:
"Ah, you have had experience! [A rip down the back of the hand.] They are just right for you--your hand is very small--if they tear you need not pay for them. [A rent across the middle.] I can always tell when a gentleman understands putting on kid gloves. There is a grace about it that only comes with long practice." The whole after-guard of the glove "fetched away," as the sailors say, the fabric parted across the knuckles, and nothing was left but a melancholy ruin.
I was too much flattered to make an exposure and throw the
merchandise on the angel's hands. I was
hot, vexed, confused, but still happy; but I hated the other boys for taking
such an absorbing interest in the proceedings.
I wished they were in
"This one does very well; it fits elegantly. I like a glove that fits. No, never mind, ma'am, never mind; I'll put the other on in the street. It is warm here."
It was warm. It was the warmest place I ever was in. I paid the bill, and as I passed out with a fascinating bow I thought I detected a light in the woman's eye that was gently ironical; and when I looked back from the street, and she was laughing all to herself about something or other, I said to myself with withering sarcasm, "Oh, certainly; you know how to put on kid gloves, don't you? A self-complacent ass, ready to be flattered out of your senses by every petticoat that chooses to take the trouble to do it!"
The silence of the boys annoyed me. Finally Dan said musingly:
"Some gentlemen don't know how to put on kid gloves at all, but some do."
And the doctor said (to the moon, I thought):
"But it is always easy to tell when a gentleman is used to putting on kid gloves."
Dan soliloquized after a pause:
"Ah, yes; there is a grace about it that only comes with long, very long practice."
"Yes, indeed, I've noticed that when a man hauls on a kid glove like he was dragging a cat out of an ash hole by the tail, he understands putting on kid gloves; he's had ex--"
"Boys, enough of a thing's enough! You think you are very smart, I suppose, but I don't. And if you go and tell any of those old gossips in the ship about this thing, I'll never forgive you for it; that's all."
They let me alone then for the time being. We always let each other alone in time to prevent ill feeling from spoiling a joke. But they had bought gloves, too, as I did. We threw all the purchases away together this morning. They were coarse, unsubstantial, freckled all over with broad yellow splotches, and could neither stand wear nor public exhibition. We had entertained an angel unawares, but we did not take her in. She did that for us.
Tangier! A tribe of stalwart Moors are wading into the sea to carry us ashore on their backs from the small boats.
This is royal! Let
those who went up through
There are stalwart Bedouins of the desert here, and stately Moors proud of a history that goes back to the night of time; and Jews whose fathers fled hither centuries upon centuries ago; and swarthy Riffians from the mountains--born cut-throats--and original, genuine Negroes as black as Moses; and howling dervishes and a hundred breeds of Arabs--all sorts and descriptions of people that are foreign and curious to look upon.
And their dresses are strange beyond all description. Here is a bronzed Moor in a prodigious white turban, curiously embroidered jacket, gold and crimson sash, of many folds, wrapped round and round his waist, trousers that only come a little below his knee and yet have twenty yards of stuff in them, ornamented scimitar, bare shins, stockingless feet, yellow slippers, and gun of preposterous length--a mere soldier!--I thought he was the Emperor at least. And here are aged Moors with flowing white beards and long white robes with vast cowls; and Bedouins with long, cowled, striped cloaks; and Negroes and Riffians with heads clean-shaven except a kinky scalp lock back of the ear or, rather, upon the after corner of the skull; and all sorts of barbarians in all sorts of weird costumes, and all more or less ragged. And here are Moorish women who are enveloped from head to foot in coarse white robes, and whose sex can only be determined by the fact that they only leave one eye visible and never look at men of their own race, or are looked at by them in public. Here are five thousand Jews in blue gabardines, sashes about their waists, slippers upon their feet, little skullcaps upon the backs of their heads, hair combed down on the forehead, and cut straight across the middle of it from side to side--the selfsame fashion their Tangier ancestors have worn for I don't know how many bewildering centuries. Their feet and ankles are bare. Their noses are all hooked, and hooked alike. They all resemble each other so much that one could almost believe they were of one family. Their women are plump and pretty, and do smile upon a Christian in a way which is in the last degree comforting.
What a funny old town it is! It seems like profanation to laugh and jest and bandy the frivolous chat of our day amid its hoary relics. Only the stately phraseology and the measured speech of the sons of the Prophet are suited to a venerable antiquity like this. Here is a crumbling wall that was old when Columbus discovered America; was old when Peter the Hermit roused the knightly men of the Middle Ages to arm for the first Crusade; was old when Charlemagne and his paladins beleaguered enchanted castles and battled with giants and genii in the fabled days of the olden time; was old when Christ and his disciples walked the earth; stood where it stands today when the lips of Memnon were vocal and men bought and sold in the streets of ancient Thebes!
The Phoenicians, the Carthagenians, the English, Moors,
Romans, all have battled for Tangier--all have won it and lost it. Here is a ragged, oriental-looking Negro from
some desert place in interior
Near it are the ruins of a dockyard where Caesar repaired
his ships and loaded them with grain when he invaded
Here, under the quiet stars, these old streets seem thronged with the phantoms of forgotten ages. My eyes are resting upon a spot where stood a monument which was seen and described by Roman historians less than two thousand years ago, whereon was inscribed:
"WE ARE THE CANAANITES. WE ARE THEY THAT
BEEN DRIVEN OUT OF THE
BY THE JEWISH ROBBER, JOSHUA."
Joshua drove them out, and they came here. Not many leagues from here is a tribe of Jews whose ancestors fled thither after an unsuccessful revolt against King David, and these their descendants are still under a ban and keep to themselves.
Tangier has been mentioned in history for three thousand
years. And it was a town, though a queer
one, when Hercules, clad in his lion skin, landed here, four thousand years
ago. In these streets he met Anitus, the
king of the country, and brained him with his club, which was the fashion among
gentlemen in those days. The people of
Tangier (called Tingis then) lived in the rudest possible huts and dressed in
skins and carried clubs, and were as savage as the wild beasts they were
constantly obliged to war with. But they
were a gentlemanly race and did no work. They lived on the natural products of
the land. Their king's country residence
was at the famous
Down here at
Five days' journey from here--say two hundred miles--are the ruins of an ancient city, of whose history there is neither record nor tradition. And yet its arches, its columns, and its statues proclaim it to have been built by an enlightened race.
The general size of a store in Tangier is about that of an
ordinary shower bath in a civilized land.
The Muhammadan merchant, tinman, shoemaker, or vendor of trifles sits
cross-legged on the floor and reaches after any article you may want to buy. You can rent a whole block of these
pigeonholes for fifty dollars a month.
The market people crowd the marketplace with their baskets of figs,
dates, melons, apricots, etc., and among them file trains of laden asses, not
much larger, if any, than a
The Moors have some small silver coins and also some silver slugs worth a dollar each. The latter are exceedingly scarce--so much so that when poor ragged Arabs see one they beg to be allowed to kiss it.
They have also a small gold coin worth two dollars. And that reminds me of something. When
The Emperor of Morocco is a soulless despot, and the great
officers under him are despots on a smaller scale. There is no regular system of taxation, but
when the Emperor or the Bashaw want money, they levy on some rich man, and he
has to furnish the cash or go to prison. Therefore, few men in
Moors and Jews sometimes place themselves under the protection of the foreign consuls, and then they can flout their riches in the Emperor's face with impunity.
About the first adventure we had yesterday afternoon, after landing here, came near finishing that heedless Blucher. We had just mounted some mules and asses and started out under the guardianship of the stately, the princely, the magnificent Hadji Muhammad Lamarty (may his tribe increase!) when we came upon a fine Moorish mosque, with tall tower, rich with checker-work of many-colored porcelain, and every part and portion of the edifice adorned with the quaint architecture of the Alhambra, and Blucher started to ride into the open doorway. A startling "Hi-hi!" from our camp followers and a loud "Halt!" from an English gentleman in the party checked the adventurer, and then we were informed that so dire a profanation is it for a Christian dog to set foot upon the sacred threshold of a Moorish mosque that no amount of purification can ever make it fit for the faithful to pray in again. Had Blucher succeeded in entering the place, he would no doubt have been chased through the town and stoned; and the time has been, and not many years ago, either, when a Christian would have been most ruthlessly slaughtered if captured in a mosque. We caught a glimpse of the handsome tessellated pavements within and of the devotees performing their ablutions at the fountains, but even that we took that glimpse was a thing not relished by the Moorish bystanders.
Some years ago the clock in the tower of the mosque got out of order. The Moors of Tangier have so degenerated that it has been long since there was an artificer among them capable of curing so delicate a patient as a debilitated clock. The great men of the city met in solemn conclave to consider how the difficulty was to be met. They discussed the matter thoroughly but arrived at no solution. Finally, a patriarch arose and said:
"Oh, children of the Prophet, it is known unto you that
a Portuguee dog of a Christian clock mender pollutes the city of
And in that way it was done. Therefore, if Blucher ever sees the inside of a mosque, he will have to cast aside his humanity and go in his natural character. We visited the jail and found Moorish prisoners making mats and baskets. (This thing of utilizing crime savors of civilization.) Murder is punished with death. A short time ago three murderers were taken beyond the city walls and shot. Moorish guns are not good, and neither are Moorish marksmen. In this instance they set up the poor criminals at long range, like so many targets, and practiced on them--kept them hopping about and dodging bullets for half an hour before they managed to drive the center.
When a man steals cattle, they cut off his right hand and left leg and nail them up in the marketplace as a warning to everybody. Their surgery is not artistic. They slice around the bone a little, then break off the limb. Sometimes the patient gets well; but, as a general thing, he don't. However, the Moorish heart is stout. The Moors were always brave. These criminals undergo the fearful operation without a wince, without a tremor of any kind, without a groan! No amount of suffering can bring down the pride of a Moor or make him shame his dignity with a cry.
Here, marriage is contracted by the parents of the parties to it. There are no valentines, no stolen interviews, no riding out, no courting in dim parlors, no lovers' quarrels and reconciliations--no nothing that is proper to approaching matrimony. The young man takes the girl his father selects for him, marries her, and after that she is unveiled, and he sees her for the first time. If after due acquaintance she suits him, he retains her; but if he suspects her purity, he bundles her back to her father; if he finds her diseased, the same; or if, after just and reasonable time is allowed her, she neglects to bear children, back she goes to the home of her childhood.
Muhammadans here who can afford it keep a good many wives on hand. They are called wives, though I believe the Koran only allows four genuine wives--the rest are concubines. The Emperor of Morocco don't know how many wives he has, but thinks he has five hundred. However, that is near enough--a dozen or so, one way or the other, don't matter.
Even the Jews in the interior have a plurality of wives.
I have caught a glimpse of the faces of several Moorish women (for they are only human, and will expose their faces for the admiration of a Christian dog when no male Moor is by), and I am full of veneration for the wisdom that leads them to cover up such atrocious ugliness.
They carry their children at their backs, in a sack, like other savages the world over.
Many of the Negroes are held in slavery by the Moors. But the moment a female slave becomes her master's concubine her bonds are broken, and as soon as a male slave can read the first chapter of the Koran (which contains the creed) he can no longer be held in bondage.
They have three Sundays a week in Tangier. The Muhammadans' comes on Friday, the Jews' on Saturday, and that of the Christian Consuls on Sunday. The Jews are the most radical. The Moor goes to his mosque about noon on his Sabbath, as on any other day, removes his shoes at the door, performs his ablutions, makes his salaams, pressing his forehead to the pavement time and again, says his prayers, and goes back to his work.
But the Jew shuts up shop; will not touch copper or bronze money at all; soils his fingers with nothing meaner than silver and gold; attends the synagogue devoutly; will not cook or have anything to do with fire; and religiously refrains from embarking in any enterprise.
The Moor who has made a pilgrimage to
Many of them have to rake and scrape a long time to gather together the ten dollars their steamer passage costs, and when one of them gets back he is a bankrupt forever after. Few Moors can ever build up their fortunes again in one short lifetime after so reckless an outlay. In order to confine the dignity of Hadji to gentlemen of patrician blood and possessions, the Emperor decreed that no man should make the pilgrimage save bloated aristocrats who were worth a hundred dollars in specie. But behold how iniquity can circumvent the law! For a consideration, the Jewish money-changer lends the pilgrim one hundred dollars long enough for him to swear himself through, and then receives it back before the ship sails out of the harbor!
When we went to call on our American Consul General today I
noticed that all possible games for parlor amusement seemed to be represented
on his center tables. I thought that
hinted at lonesomeness. The idea was
correct. His is the only American family
in Tangier. There are many foreign
consuls in this place, but much visiting is not indulged in. Tangier is clear
out of the world, and what is the use of visiting when people have nothing on
earth to talk about? There is none. So each consul's family stays at home chiefly
and amuses itself as best it can. Tangier is full of interest for one day, but
after that it is a weary prison. The
Consul General has been here five years, and has got enough of it to do him for
a century, and is going home shortly.
His family seize upon their letters and papers when the mail arrives,
read them over and over again for two days or three, talk them over and over
again for two or three more till they wear them out, and after that for days
together they eat and drink and sleep, and ride out over the same old road, and
see the same old tiresome things that even decades of centuries have scarcely
changed, and say never a single word!
They have literally nothing whatever to talk about. The arrival of an American man-of-war is a
godsend to them. "O Solitude, where
are the charms which sages have seen in thy face?" It is the completest exile that I can
conceive of. I would seriously recommend to the government of the
I am glad to have seen Tangier--the second-oldest town in the world. But I am ready to bid it good-bye, I believe.
We shall go hence to Gibraltar this evening or in the
morning, and doubtless the
We passed the Fourth of July on board the
They even have fine sunsets on the
He said: "Well, that's gorgis, ain't it! They don't have none of them things in our parts, do they? I consider that them effects is on account of the superior refragability, as you may say, of the sun's diramic combination with the lymphatic forces of the perihelion of Jubiter. What should you think?"
"Oh, go to bed!" Dan said that, and went away.
"Oh, yes, it's all very well to say go to bed when a man makes an argument which another man can't answer. Dan don't never stand any chance in an argument with me. And he knows it, too. What should you say, Jack?"
"Now, Doctor, don't you come bothering around me with that dictionary bosh. I don't do you any harm, do I? Then you let me alone."
"He's gone, too. Well, them fellows have all tackled the old Oracle, as they say, but the old man's most too many for 'em. Maybe the Poet Lariat ain't satisfied with them deductions?"
The poet replied with a barbarous rhyme and went below.
"'Pears that he can't qualify, neither. Well, I didn't expect nothing out of him. I never see one of them poets yet that knowed anything. He'll go down now and grind out about four reams of the awfullest slush about that old rock and give it to a consul, or a pilot, or a nigger, or anybody he comes across first which he can impose on. Pity but somebody'd take that poor old lunatic and dig all that poetry rubbage out of him. Why can't a man put his intellect onto things that's some value? Gibbons, and Hippocratus, and Sarcophagus, and all them old ancient philosophers was down on poets--"
"Doctor," I said, "you are going to invent authorities now and I'll leave you, too. I always enjoy your conversation, notwithstanding the luxuriance of your syllables, when the philosophy you offer rests on your own responsibility; but when you begin to soar--when you begin to support it with the evidence of authorities who are the creations of your own fancy--I lose confidence."
That was the way to flatter the doctor. He considered it a sort of acknowledgment on my part of a fear to argue with him. He was always persecuting the passengers with abstruse propositions framed in language that no man could understand, and they endured the exquisite torture a minute or two and then abandoned the field. A triumph like this, over half a dozen antagonists was sufficient for one day; from that time forward he would patrol the decks beaming blandly upon all comers, and so tranquilly, blissfully happy!
But I digress. The thunder of our two brave cannon announced the Fourth of July, at daylight, to all who were awake. But many of us got our information at a later hour, from the almanac. All the flags were sent aloft except half a dozen that were needed to decorate portions of the ship below, and in a short time the vessel assumed a holiday appearance. During the morning, meetings were held and all manner of committees set to work on the celebration ceremonies. In the afternoon the ship's company assembled aft, on deck, under the awnings; the flute, the asthmatic melodeon, and the consumptive clarinet crippled "The Star-Spangled Banner," the choir chased it to cover, and George came in with a peculiarly lacerating screech on the final note and slaughtered it. Nobody mourned.
We carried out the corpse on three cheers (that joke was not
intentional and I do not endorse it), and then the President, throned behind a
cable locker with a national flag spread over it, announced the
"Reader," who rose up and read that same old Declaration of
Independence which we have all listened to so often without paying any
attention to what it said; and after that the President piped the Orator of the
Day to quarters and he made that same old speech about our national greatness
which we so religiously believe and so fervently applaud. Now came the choir into court again, with the
complaining instruments, and assaulted "Hail Columbia"; and when
victory hung wavering in the scale, George returned with his dreadful
wild-goose stop turned on and the choir won, of course. A minister pronounced the
benediction, and the patriotic little gathering disbanded. The Fourth of July was safe, as far as the
At dinner in the evening, a well-written original poem was recited with spirit by one of the ship's captains, and thirteen regular toasts were washed down with several baskets of champagne. The speeches were bad --execrable almost without exception. In fact, without any exception but one. Captain Duncan made a good speech; he made the only good speech of the evening. He said:
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--May we all live to a green old age and be prosperous and happy. Steward, bring up another basket of champagne."
It was regarded as a very able effort.
The festivities, so to speak, closed with another of those miraculous balls on the promenade deck. We were not used to dancing on an even keel, though, and it was only a questionable success. But take it all together, it was a bright, cheerful, pleasant Fourth.
Toward nightfall the next evening, we steamed into the great artificial harbor of this noble city of Marseilles, and saw the dying sunlight gild its clustering spires and ramparts, and flood its leagues of environing verdure with a mellow radiance that touched with an added charm the white villas that flecked the landscape far and near. [Copyright secured according to law.]
There were no stages out, and we could not get on the pier
from the ship. It was annoying. We were
full of enthusiasm--we wanted to see
"Oh, go to the pier, you old fool--that's where we want to go!"
We reasoned calmly with Dan that it was useless to speak to this foreigner in English--that he had better let us conduct this business in the French language and not let the stranger see how uncultivated he was.
"Well, go on, go on," he said, "don't mind me. I don't wish to interfere. Only, if you go on telling him in your kind of French, he never will find out where we want to go to. That is what I think about it."
We rebuked him severely for this remark and said we never knew an ignorant person yet but was prejudiced. The Frenchman spoke again, and the doctor said:
"There now, Dan, he says he is going to allez to the douain. Means he is going to the hotel. Oh, certainly--we don't know the French language."
This was a crusher, as Jack would say. It silenced further criticism from the disaffected member. We coasted past the sharp bows of a navy of great steamships and stopped at last at a government building on a stone pier. It was easy to remember then that the douain was the customhouse and not the hotel. We did not mention it, however. With winning French politeness the officers merely opened and closed our satchels, declined to examine our passports, and sent us on our way. We stopped at the first cafe we came to and entered. An old woman seated us at a table and waited for orders. The doctor said:
"Avez-vous du vin?"
The dame looked perplexed. The doctor said again, with elaborate distinctness of articulation:
The dame looked more perplexed than before. I said:
"Doctor, there is a flaw in your pronunciation somewhere. Let me try her. Madame, avez-vous du vin?--It isn't any use, Doctor--take the witness."
"Madame, avez-vous du vin--du fromage--pain--pickled pigs' feet--beurre --des oeufs--du boeuf--horseradish, sauerkraut, hog and hominy--anything, anything in the world that can stay a Christian stomach!"
"Bless you, why didn't you speak English before? I don't know anything about your plagued French!"
The humiliating taunts of the disaffected member spoiled the supper, and we dispatched it in angry silence and got away as soon as we could. Here we were in beautiful France--in a vast stone house of quaint architecture--surrounded by all manner of curiously worded French signs --stared at by strangely habited, bearded French people--everything gradually and surely forcing upon us the coveted consciousness that at last, and beyond all question, we were in beautiful France and absorbing its nature to the forgetfulness of everything else, and coming to feel the happy romance of the thing in all its enchanting delightfulness--and to think of this skinny veteran intruding with her vile English, at such a moment, to blow the fair vision to the winds! It was exasperating.
We set out to find the centre of the city, inquiring the direction every now and then. We never did succeed in making anybody understand just exactly what we wanted, and neither did we ever succeed in comprehending just exactly what they said in reply, but then they always pointed--they always did that--and we bowed politely and said, "Merci, monsieur," and so it was a blighting triumph over the disaffected member anyway. He was restive under these victories and often asked:
"What did that pirate say?"
"Why, he told us which way to go to find the Grand Casino."
"Yes, but what did he say?"
"Oh, it don't matter what he said--we understood him. These are educated people--not like that absurd boatman."
"Well, I wish they were educated enough to tell a man a direction that goes some where--for we've been going around in a circle for an hour. I've passed this same old drugstore seven times."
We said it was a low, disreputable falsehood (but we knew it was not). It was plain that it would not do to pass that drugstore again, though --we might go on asking directions, but we must cease from following finger-pointings if we hoped to check the suspicions of the disaffected member.
A long walk through smooth, asphaltum-paved streets bordered by blocks of vast new mercantile houses of cream-colored stone every house and every block precisely like all the other houses and all the other blocks for a mile, and all brilliantly lighted--brought us at last to the principal thoroughfare. On every hand were bright colors, flashing constellations of gas burners, gaily dressed men and women thronging the sidewalks --hurry, life, activity, cheerfulness, conversation, and laughter everywhere! We found the Grand Hotel du Louvre et de la Paix, and wrote down who we were, where we were born, what our occupations were, the place we came from last, whether we were married or single, how we liked it, how old we were, where we were bound for and when we expected to get there, and a great deal of information of similar importance--all for the benefit of the landlord and the secret police. We hired a guide and began the business of sightseeing immediately. That first night on French soil was a stirring one. I cannot think of half the places we went to or what we particularly saw; we had no disposition to examine carefully into anything at all--we only wanted to glance and go--to move, keep moving! The spirit of the country was upon us. We sat down, finally, at a late hour, in the great Casino, and called for unstinted champagne. It is so easy to be bloated aristocrats where it costs nothing of consequence! There were about five hundred people in that dazzling place, I suppose, though the walls being papered entirely with mirrors, so to speak, one could not really tell but that there were a hundred thousand. Young, daintily dressed exquisites and young, stylishly dressed women, and also old gentlemen and old ladies, sat in couples and groups about innumerable marble-topped tables and ate fancy suppers, drank wine, and kept up a chattering din of conversation that was dazing to the senses. There was a stage at the far end and a large orchestra; and every now and then actors and actresses in preposterous comic dresses came out and sang the most extravagantly funny songs, to judge by their absurd actions; but that audience merely suspended its chatter, stared cynically, and never once smiled, never once applauded! I had always thought that Frenchmen were ready to laugh at any thing.
We are getting foreignized rapidly and with facility. We are getting reconciled to halls and
bedchambers with unhomelike stone floors and no carpets--floors that ring to
the tread of one's heels with a sharpness that is death to sentimental
musing. We are getting used to tidy,
noiseless waiters, who glide hither and thither, and hover about your back and
your elbows like butterflies, quick to comprehend orders, quick to fill them;
thankful for a gratuity without regard to the amount; and always polite--never
otherwise than polite. That is the
strangest curiosity yet--a really polite hotel waiter who isn't an idiot. We are getting used to driving right into the
central court of the hotel, in the midst of a fragrant circle of vines and
flowers, and in the midst also of parties of gentlemen sitting quietly reading
the paper and smoking. We are getting
used to ice frozen by artificial process in ordinary bottles --the only kind of
ice they have here. We are getting used
to all these things, but we are not getting used to carrying our own soap. We are sufficiently civilized to carry our
own combs and toothbrushes, but this thing of having to ring for soap every
time we wash is new to us and not pleasant at all. We think of it just after we get our heads
and faces thoroughly wet or just when we think we have been in the bathtub long
enough, and then, of course, an annoying delay follows. These Marseillaises make Marseillaise hymns
We have learned to go through the lingering routine of the
table d'hote with patience, with serenity, with satisfaction. We take soup, then wait a few minutes for the
fish; a few minutes more and the plates are changed, and the roast beef comes;
another change and we take peas; change again and take lentils; change and take
snail patties (I prefer grasshoppers); change and take roast chicken and salad;
then strawberry pie and ice cream; then green figs, pears, oranges, green
almonds, etc.; finally coffee. Wine with
every course, of course, being in
We were troubled a little at dinner today by the conduct of an American, who talked very loudly and coarsely and laughed boisterously where all others were so quiet and well behaved. He ordered wine with a royal flourish and said:
"I never dine without wine, sir" (which was a pitiful falsehood), and looked around upon the company to bask in the admiration he expected to find in their faces. All these airs in a land where they would as soon expect to leave the soup out of the bill of fare as the wine!--in a land where wine is nearly as common among all ranks as water! This fellow said: "I am a free-born sovereign, sir, an American, sir, and I want everybody to know it!" He did not mention that he was a lineal descendant of Balaam's ass, but everybody knew that without his telling it.
We have driven in the Prado--that superb avenue bordered
with patrician mansions and noble shade trees--and have visited the chateau
Boarely and its curious museum. They
showed us a miniature cemetery there--a copy of the first graveyard that was
In the great Zoological Gardens we found specimens of all
the animals the world produces, I think, including a dromedary, a monkey
ornamented with tufts of brilliant blue and carmine hair--a very gorgeous
monkey he was --a hippopotamus from the Nile, and a sort of tall, long-legged
bird with a beak like a powder horn and close-fitting wings like the tails of a
dress coat. This fellow stood up with his
eyes shut and his shoulders stooped forward a little, and looked as if he had
his hands under his coat tails. Such tranquil stupidity, such supernatural
gravity, such self-righteousness, and such ineffable self-complacency as were
in the countenance and attitude of that gray-bodied, dark-winged, bald-headed,
and preposterously uncomely bird! He was
so ungainly, so pimply about the head, so scaly about the legs, yet so serene,
so unspeakably satisfied! He was the
most comical-looking creature that can be imagined. It was good to hear Dan and the doctor
laugh--such natural and such enjoyable laughter had not been heard among our
excursionists since our ship sailed away from
"All he wants now is a Plymouth Collection."
The boon companion of the colossal elephant was a common cat! This cat had a fashion of climbing up the elephant's hind legs and roosting on his back. She would sit up there, with her paws curved under her breast, and sleep in the sun half the afternoon. It used to annoy the elephant at first, and he would reach up and take her down, but she would go aft and climb up again. She persisted until she finally conquered the elephant's prejudices, and now they are inseparable friends. The cat plays about her comrade's forefeet or his trunk often, until dogs approach, and then she goes aloft out of danger. The elephant has annihilated several dogs lately that pressed his companion too closely.
We hired a sailboat and a guide and made an excursion to one of the small islands in the harbor to visit the Castle d'If. This ancient fortress has a melancholy history. It has been used as a prison for political offenders for two or three hundred years, and its dungeon walls are scarred with the rudely carved names of many and many a captive who fretted his life away here and left no record of himself but these sad epitaphs wrought with his own hands. How thick the names were! And their long-departed owners seemed to throng the gloomy cells and corridors with their phantom shapes. We loitered through dungeon after dungeon, away down into the living rock below the level of the sea, it seemed. Names everywhere!--some plebeian, some noble, some even princely. Plebeian, prince, and noble had one solicitude in common--they would not be forgotten! They could suffer solitude, inactivity, and the horrors of a silence that no sound ever disturbed, but they could not bear the thought of being utterly forgotten by the world. Hence the carved names. In one cell, where a little light penetrated, a man had lived twenty-seven years without seeing the face of a human being--lived in filth and wretchedness, with no companionship but his own thoughts, and they were sorrowful enough and hopeless enough, no doubt. Whatever his jailers considered that he needed was conveyed to his cell by night through a wicket.
This man carved the walls of his prison house from floor to roof with all manner of figures of men and animals grouped in intricate designs. He had toiled there year after year, at his self-appointed task, while infants grew to boyhood--to vigorous youth--idled through school and college--acquired a profession--claimed man's mature estate--married and looked back to infancy as to a thing of some vague, ancient time, almost. But who shall tell how many ages it seemed to this prisoner? With the one, time flew sometimes; with the other, never--it crawled always. To the one, nights spent in dancing had seemed made of minutes instead of hours; to the other, those selfsame nights had been like all other nights of dungeon life and seemed made of slow, dragging weeks instead of hours and minutes.
One prisoner of fifteen years had scratched verses upon his walls, and brief prose sentences--brief, but full of pathos. These spoke not of himself and his hard estate, but only of the shrine where his spirit fled the prison to worship--of home and the idols that were templed there. He never lived to see them.
The walls of these dungeons are as thick as some bed-chambers at home are wide--fifteen feet. We saw the damp, dismal cells in which two of Dumas' heroes passed their confinement--heroes of "Monte Cristo." It was here that the brave Abbe wrote a book with his own blood, with a pen made of a piece of iron hoop, and by the light of a lamp made out of shreds of cloth soaked in grease obtained from his food; and then dug through the thick wall with some trifling instrument which he wrought himself out of a stray piece of iron or table cutlery and freed Dantes from his chains. It was a pity that so many weeks of dreary labor should have come to naught at last.
They showed us the noisome cell where the celebrated
"Iron Mask"--that ill-starred brother of a hardhearted king of
We have come five hundred miles by rail through the heart of
We had such glimpses of the Rhone gliding along between its grassy banks; of cosy cottages buried in flowers and shrubbery; of quaint old red-tiled villages with mossy medieval cathedrals looming out of their midst; of wooded hills with ivy-grown towers and turrets of feudal castles projecting above the foliage; such glimpses of Paradise, it seemed to us, such visions of fabled fairyland!
We knew then what the poet meant when he sang of: "--thy cornfields green, and sunny
vines, O pleasant
And it is a pleasant land.
No word describes it so felicitously as that one. They say there is no word for
"home" in the French language.
Well, considering that they have the article itself in such an
attractive aspect, they ought to manage to get along without the word. Let us not waste too much pity on "homeless"
We are not infatuated with these French railway cars,
though. We took first-class passage, not
because we wished to attract attention by doing a thing which is uncommon in
The cars are built in compartments that hold eight persons each. Each compartment is partially subdivided, and so there are two tolerably distinct parties of four in it. Four face the other four. The seats and backs are thickly padded and cushioned and are very comfortable; you can smoke if you wish; there are no bothersome peddlers; you are saved the infliction of a multitude of disagreeable fellow passengers. So far, so well. But then the conductor locks you in when the train starts; there is no water to drink in the car; there is no heating apparatus for night travel; if a drunken rowdy should get in, you could not remove a matter of twenty seats from him or enter another car; but above all, if you are worn out and must sleep, you must sit up and do it in naps, with cramped legs and in a torturing misery that leaves you withered and lifeless the next day--for behold they have not that culmination of all charity and human kindness, a sleeping car, in all France. I prefer the American system. It has not so many grievous "discrepancies."
But the happiest regulation in French railway government is--thirty minutes to dinner! No five-minute boltings of flabby rolls, muddy coffee, questionable eggs, gutta-percha beef, and pies whose conception and execution are a dark and bloody mystery to all save the cook that created them! No, we sat calmly down--it was in old Dijon, which is so easy to spell and so impossible to pronounce except when you civilize it and call it Demijohn--and poured out rich Burgundian wines and munched calmly through a long table d'hote bill of fare, snail patties, delicious fruits and all, then paid the trifle it cost and stepped happily aboard the train again, without once cursing the railroad company. A rare experience and one to be treasured forever.
They say they do not have accidents on these French roads, and I think it must be true. If I remember rightly, we passed high above wagon roads or through tunnels under them, but never crossed them on their own level. About every quarter of a mile, it seemed to me, a man came out and held up a club till the train went by, to signify that everything was safe ahead. Switches were changed a mile in advance by pulling a wire rope that passed along the ground by the rail, from station to station. Signals for the day and signals for the night gave constant and timely notice of the position of switches.
No, they have no railroad accidents to speak of in
The Old Travelers--those delightful parrots who have "been here before" and know more about the country than Louis Napoleon knows now or ever will know--tell us these things, and we believe them because they are pleasant things to believe and because they are plausible and savor of the rigid subjection to law and order which we behold about us everywhere.
But we love the Old Travelers. We love to hear them prate and drivel and lie. We can tell them the moment we see them. They always throw out a few feelers; they never cast themselves adrift till they have sounded every individual and know that he has not traveled. Then they open their throttle valves, and how they do brag, and sneer, and swell, and soar, and blaspheme the sacred name of Truth! Their central idea, their grand aim, is to subjugate you, keep you down, make you feel insignificant and humble in the blaze of their cosmopolitan glory! They will not let you know anything. They sneer at your most inoffensive suggestions; they laugh unfeelingly at your treasured dreams of foreign lands; they brand the statements of your traveled aunts and uncles as the stupidest absurdities; they deride your most trusted authors and demolish the fair images they have set up for your willing worship with the pitiless ferocity of the fanatic iconoclast! But still I love the Old Travelers. I love them for their witless platitudes, for their supernatural ability to bore, for their delightful asinine vanity, for their luxuriant fertility of imagination, for their startling, their brilliant, their overwhelming mendacity!
By Lyons and the Saone (where we saw the lady of Lyons and thought little of her comeliness), by Villa Franca, Tonnere, venerable Sens, Melun, Fontainebleau, and scores of other beautiful cities, we swept, always noting the absence of hog-wallows, broken fences, cow lots, unpainted houses, and mud, and always noting, as well, the presence of cleanliness, grace, taste in adorning and beautifying, even to the disposition of a tree or the turning of a hedge, the marvel of roads in perfect repair, void of ruts and guiltless of even an inequality of surface--we bowled along, hour after hour, that brilliant summer day, and as nightfall approached we entered a wilderness of odorous flowers and shrubbery, sped through it, and then, excited, delighted, and half persuaded that we were only the sport of a beautiful dream, lo, we stood in magnificent Paris!
What excellent order they kept about that vast depot! There was no frantic crowding and jostling,
no shouting and swearing, and no swaggering intrusion of services by rowdy
hackmen. These latter gentry stood
outside--stood quietly by their long line of vehicles and said never a word. A kind of hackman general seemed to have the
whole matter of transportation in his hands.
He politely received the passengers and ushered them to the kind of
conveyance they wanted, and told the driver where to deliver them. There was no "talking back," no
dissatisfaction about overcharging, no grumbling about anything. In a little while we were speeding through
the streets of
We secured rooms at the hotel, or rather, we had three beds put into one room, so that we might be together, and then we went out to a restaurant, just after lamplighting, and ate a comfortable, satisfactory, lingering dinner. It was a pleasure to eat where everything was so tidy, the food so well cooked, the waiters so polite, and the coming and departing company so moustached, so frisky, so affable, so fearfully and wonderfully Frenchy! All the surroundings were gay and enlivening. Two hundred people sat at little tables on the sidewalk, sipping wine and coffee; the streets were thronged with light vehicles and with joyous pleasure-seekers; there was music in the air, life and action all about us, and a conflagration of gaslight everywhere!
After dinner we felt like seeing such Parisian specialties as we might see without distressing exertion, and so we sauntered through the brilliant streets and looked at the dainty trifles in variety stores and jewelry shops. Occasionally, merely for the pleasure of being cruel, we put unoffending Frenchmen on the rack with questions framed in the incomprehensible jargon of their native language, and while they writhed we impaled them, we peppered them, we scarified them, with their own vile verbs and participles.
We noticed that in the jewelry stores they had some of the
articles marked "gold" and some labeled "imitation." We wondered at this extravagance of honesty
and inquired into the matter. We were
informed that inasmuch as most people are not able to tell false gold from the
genuine article, the government compels jewelers to have their gold work
assayed and stamped officially according to its fineness and their imitation
work duly labeled with the sign of its falsity.
They told us the jewelers would not dare to violate this law, and that
whatever a stranger bought in one of their stores might be depended upon as
being strictly what it was represented to be.
Verily, a wonderful land is
Then we hunted for a barber-shop. From earliest infancy it had been a cherished
ambition of mine to be shaved some day in a palatial barber-shop in
So we searched high and low, for a matter of two hours, but never a barber-shop could we see. We saw only wig-making establishments, with shocks of dead and repulsive hair bound upon the heads of painted waxen brigands who stared out from glass boxes upon the passer-by with their stony eyes and scared him with the ghostly white of their countenances. We shunned these signs for a time, but finally we concluded that the wig-makers must of necessity be the barbers as well, since we could find no single legitimate representative of the fraternity. We entered and asked, and found that it was even so.
I said I wanted to be shaved. The barber inquired where my room was. I said never mind where my room was, I wanted to be shaved--there, on the spot. The doctor said he would be shaved also. Then there was an excitement among those two barbers! There was a wild consultation, and afterwards a hurrying to and fro and a feverish gathering up of razors from obscure places and a ransacking for soap. Next they took us into a little mean, shabby back room; they got two ordinary sitting-room chairs and placed us in them with our coats on. My old, old dream of bliss vanished into thin air!
I sat bolt upright, silent, sad, and solemn. One of the wig-making villains lathered my face for ten terrible minutes and finished by plastering a mass of suds into my mouth. I expelled the nasty stuff with a strong English expletive and said, "Foreigner, beware!" Then this outlaw strapped his razor on his boot, hovered over me ominously for six fearful seconds, and then swooped down upon me like the genius of destruction. The first rake of his razor loosened the very hide from my face and lifted me out of the chair. I stormed and raved, and the other boys enjoyed it. Their beards are not strong and thick. Let us draw the curtain over this harrowing scene.
Suffice it that I submitted and went through with the cruel infliction of a shave by a French barber; tears of exquisite agony coursed down my cheeks now and then, but I survived. Then the incipient assassin held a basin of water under my chin and slopped its contents over my face, and into my bosom, and down the back of my neck, with a mean pretense of washing away the soap and blood. He dried my features with a towel and was going to comb my hair, but I asked to be excused. I said, with withering irony, that it was sufficient to be skinned--I declined to be scalped.
I went away from there with my handkerchief about my face,
and never, never, never desired to dream of palatial Parisian barber-shops
anymore. The truth is, as I believe I have since found out, that they have no
barber shops worthy of the name in
At eleven o'clock we alighted upon a sign which manifestly
referred to billiards. Joy! We had played billiards in the Azores with
balls that were not round and on an ancient table that was very little smoother
than a brick pavement--one of those wretched old things with dead cushions, and
with patches in the faded cloth and invisible obstructions that made the balls
describe the most astonishing and unsuspected angles and perform feats in the
way of unlooked-for and almost impossible "scratches" that were
perfectly bewildering. We had played at
We adjourned to one of those pretty cafes and took supper and tested the wines of the country, as we had been instructed to do, and found them harmless and unexciting. They might have been exciting, however, if we had chosen to drink a sufficiency of them.
To close our first day in
It was pitiful,
In a whole city-full,
Gas we had none.
No gas to read by--nothing but dismal candles. It was a shame. We tried to map out excursions for the morrow; we puzzled over French "guides to Paris"; we talked disjointedly in a vain endeavor to make head or tail of the wild chaos of the day's sights and experiences; we subsided to indolent smoking; we gaped and yawned and stretched--then feebly wondered if we were really and truly in renowned Paris, and drifted drowsily away into that vast mysterious void which men call sleep.
The next morning we were up and dressed at ten o'clock. We went to the 'commissionaire' of the
hotel--I don't know what a 'commissionaire' is, but that is the man we went
to--and told him we wanted a guide. He
said the national Exposition had drawn such multitudes of Englishmen and
"If ze zhentlemans will to me make ze grande honneur to me rattain in hees serveece, I shall show to him every sing zat is magnifique to look upon in ze beautiful Parree. I speaky ze Angleesh pairfaitemaw."
He would have done well to have stopped there, because he had that much by heart and said it right off without making a mistake. But his self-complacency seduced him into attempting a flight into regions of unexplored English, and the reckless experiment was his ruin. Within ten seconds he was so tangled up in a maze of mutilated verbs and torn and bleeding forms of speech that no human ingenuity could ever have gotten him out of it with credit. It was plain enough that he could not "speaky" the English quite as "pairfaitemaw" as he had pretended he could.
The third man captured us. He was plainly dressed, but he had a noticeable air of neatness about him. He wore a high silk hat which was a little old, but had been carefully brushed. He wore second-hand kid gloves, in good repair, and carried a small rattan cane with a curved handle--a female leg--of ivory. He stepped as gently and as daintily as a cat crossing a muddy street; and oh, he was urbanity; he was quiet, unobtrusive self-possession; he was deference itself! He spoke softly and guardedly; and when he was about to make a statement on his sole responsibility or offer a suggestion, he weighed it by drachms and scruples first, with the crook of his little stick placed meditatively to his teeth. His opening speech was perfect. It was perfect in construction, in phraseology, in grammar, in emphasis, in pronunciation --everything. He spoke little and guardedly after that. We were charmed. We were more than charmed--we were overjoyed. We hired him at once. We never even asked him his price. This man--our lackey, our servant, our unquestioning slave though he was--was still a gentleman--we could see that--while of the other two one was coarse and awkward and the other was a born pirate. We asked our man Friday's name. He drew from his pocketbook a snowy little card and passed it to us with a profound bow:
Grande Hotel du Louvre.
"Billfinger! Oh, carry me home to die!"
That was an "aside" from Dan. The atrocious name grated harshly on my ear, too. The most of us can learn to forgive, and even to like, a countenance that strikes us unpleasantly at first, but few of us, I fancy, become reconciled to a jarring name so easily. I was almost sorry we had hired this man, his name was so unbearable. However, no matter. We were impatient to start. Billfinger stepped to the door to call a carriage, and then the doctor said:
"Well, the guide goes with the barbershop, with the
billiard-table, with the gasless room, and may be with many another pretty
"Alphonse Henri Gustave de Hauteville," I suggested.
That was practical, unromantic good sense. Without debate, we expunged Billfinger as
Billfinger, and called him
The carriage--an open barouche--was ready.
Here endeth the first lesson. It was a mistake.
As long as we had that fellow after that, he was always hungry; he was always thirsty. He came early; he stayed late; he could not pass a restaurant; he looked with a lecherous eye upon every wine shop. Suggestions to stop, excuses to eat and to drink, were forever on his lips. We tried all we could to fill him so full that he would have no room to spare for a fortnight, but it was a failure. He did not hold enough to smother the cravings of his superhuman appetite.
He had another "discrepancy" about him. He was always wanting us to buy things. On the shallowest pretenses he would inveigle
us into shirt stores, boot stores, tailor shops, glove shops--anywhere under
the broad sweep of the heavens that there seemed a chance of our buying
anything. Anyone could have guessed that the shopkeepers paid him a percentage
on the sales, but in our blessed innocence we didn't until this feature of his conduct
grew unbearably prominent. One day Dan
happened to mention that he thought of buying three or four silk dress patterns
"Zis is ze finest silk magazin in
"What did you come here for? We told you to take us to the palace of the Louvre."
"I suppose ze gentleman say he wish to buy some silk."
"You are not required to 'suppose' things for the
Within fifteen minutes the carriage halted again, and before another silk store. The doctor said:
"Ah, the palace of the Louvre--beautiful, beautiful
edifice! Does the Emperor Napoleon live
"Ah, Doctor! You do jest; zis is not ze palace; we come there directly. But since we pass right by zis store, where is such beautiful silk--"
"Ah! I see, I
see. I meant to have told you that we
did not wish to purchase any silks to-day, but in my absent-mindedness I forgot
it. I also meant to tell you we wished
to go directly to the Louvre, but I forgot that also. However, we will go there now. Pardon my seeming carelessness,
Within the half hour we stopped again--in front of another silk store. We were angry; but the doctor was always serene, always smooth-voiced. He said:
"At last! How imposing the Louvre is, and yet how small! How exquisitely fashioned! How charmingly situated!--Venerable, venerable pile--"
"Pairdon, Doctor, zis is not ze Louvre--it is--"
"What is it?"
"I have ze idea--it come to me in a moment--zat ze silk in zis magazin--"
"But, doctor," (excitedly,) "it will take not a minute--not but one small minute! Ze gentleman need not to buy if he not wish to--but only look at ze silk--look at ze beautiful fabric. [Then pleadingly.] Sair--just only one leetle moment!"
Dan said, "Confound the idiot! I don't want to see any silks today, and I won't look at them. Drive on."
And the doctor: "We need no silks now,
"But doctor! It is only one moment--one leetle moment. And ze time will be save--entirely save! Because zere is nothing to see now--it is too late. It want ten minute to four and ze Louvre close at four--only one leetle moment, Doctor!"
The treacherous miscreant!
After four breakfasts and a gallon of champagne, to serve us such a
scurvy trick. We got no sight of the
countless treasures of art in the Louvre galleries that day, and our only poor
little satisfaction was in the reflection that
I am writing this chapter partly for the satisfaction of
abusing that accomplished knave Billfinger, and partly to show whosoever shall
read this how Americans fare at the hands of the
I think we have lost but little time in
Presently I found a revolving pistol several hundred years old which looked strangely like a modern Colt, but just then I heard that the Empress of the French was in another part of the building, and hastened away to see what she might look like. We heard martial music--we saw an unusual number of soldiers walking hurriedly about--there was a general movement among the people. We inquired what it was all about and learned that the Emperor of the French and the Sultan of Turkey were about to review twenty-five thousand troops at the Arc de l'Etoile. We immediately departed. I had a greater anxiety to see these men than I could have had to see twenty expositions.
We drove away and took up a position in an open space opposite the American minister's house. A speculator bridged a couple of barrels with a board and we hired standing places on it. Presently there was a sound of distant music; in another minute a pillar of dust came moving slowly toward us; a moment more and then, with colors flying and a grand crash of military music, a gallant array of cavalrymen emerged from the dust and came down the street on a gentle trot. After them came a long line of artillery; then more cavalry, in splendid uniforms; and then their imperial majesties Napoleon III and Abdul Aziz. The vast concourse of people swung their hats and shouted--the windows and housetops in the wide vicinity burst into a snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs, and the wavers of the same mingled their cheers with those of the masses below. It was a stirring spectacle.
But the two central figures claimed all my attention. Was ever such a contrast set up before a multitude till then? Napoleon in military uniform--a long-bodied, short-legged man, fiercely moustached, old, wrinkled, with eyes half closed, and such a deep, crafty, scheming expression about them!--Napoleon, bowing ever so gently to the loud plaudits, and watching everything and everybody with his cat eyes from under his depressed hat brim, as if to discover any sign that those cheers were not heartfelt and cordial.
Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman empire--clad in dark green European clothes, almost without ornament or insignia of rank; a red Turkish fez on his head; a short, stout, dark man, black-bearded, black-eyed, stupid, unprepossessing--a man whose whole appearance somehow suggested that if he only had a cleaver in his hand and a white apron on, one would not be at all surprised to hear him say: "A mutton roast today, or will you have a nice porterhouse steak?"
Napoleon III, the representative of the highest modern
civilization, progress, and refinement; Abdul-Aziz, the representative of a
people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive,
superstitious--and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity,
Blood. Here in brilliant
NAPOLEON III., Emperor of
ABDUL-AZIZ, Sultan of
Napoleon has augmented the commercial prosperity of
As for the Sultan, one could set a trap any where and catch a dozen abler men in a night.
The bands struck up, and the brilliant adventurer, Napoleon III., the genius of Energy, Persistence, Enterprise; and the feeble Abdul-Aziz, the genius of Ignorance, Bigotry, and Indolence, prepared for the Forward --March!
We saw the splendid review, we saw the white-moustached old Crimean soldier, Canrobert, Marshal of France, we saw--well, we saw every thing, and then we went home satisfied.
We went to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame. We had heard of it before. It surprises me
sometimes to think how much we do know and how intelligent we are. We recognized the brown old Gothic pile in a
moment; it was like the pictures. We
stood at a little distance and changed from one point of observation to another
and gazed long at its lofty square towers and its rich front, clustered thick
with stony, mutilated saints who had been looking calmly down from their
perches for ages. The Patriarch of
Jerusalem stood under them in the old days of chivalry and romance, and
preached the third Crusade, more than six hundred years ago; and since that day
they have stood there and looked quietly down upon the most thrilling scenes,
the grandest pageants, the most extraordinary spectacles that have grieved or
They say that a pagan temple stood where Notre Dame now stands, in the old Roman days, eighteen or twenty centuries ago--remains of it are still preserved in Paris; and that a Christian church took its place about A.D. 300; another took the place of that in A.D. 500; and that the foundations of the present cathedral were laid about A.D. 1100. The ground ought to be measurably sacred by this time, one would think. One portion of this noble old edifice is suggestive of the quaint fashions of ancient times. It was built by Jean Sans-Peur, Duke of Burgundy, to set his conscience at rest--he had assassinated the Duke of Orleans. Alas! Those good old times are gone when a murderer could wipe the stain from his name and soothe his troubles to sleep simply by getting out his bricks and mortar and building an addition to a church.
The portals of the great western front are bisected by square pillars. They took the central one away in 1852, on the occasion of thanksgivings for the reinstitution of the presidential power--but precious soon they had occasion to reconsider that motion and put it back again! And they did.
We loitered through the grand aisles for an hour or two,
staring up at the rich stained-glass windows embellished with blue and yellow
and crimson saints and martyrs, and trying to admire the numberless great
pictures in the chapels, and then we were admitted to the sacristy and shown
the magnificent robes which the Pope wore when he crowned Napoleon I; a
wagon-load of solid gold and silver utensils used in the great public
processions and ceremonies of the church; some nails of the true cross, a
fragment of the cross itself, a part of the crown of thorns. We had already
seen a large piece of the true cross in a church in the
Next we went to visit the Morgue, that horrible receptacle for the dead who die mysteriously and leave the manner of their taking off a dismal secret. We stood before a grating and looked through into a room which was hung all about with the clothing of dead men; coarse blouses, water-soaked; the delicate garments of women and children; patrician vestments, hacked and stabbed and stained with red; a hat that was crushed and bloody. On a slanting stone lay a drowned man, naked, swollen, purple; clasping the fragment of a broken bush with a grip which death had so petrified that human strength could not unloose it --mute witness of the last despairing effort to save the life that was doomed beyond all help. A stream of water trickled ceaselessly over the hideous face. We knew that the body and the clothing were there for identification by friends, but still we wondered if anybody could love that repulsive object or grieve for its loss. We grew meditative and wondered if, some forty years ago, when the mother of that ghastly thing was dandling it upon her knee, and kissing it and petting it and displaying it with satisfied pride to the passers-by, a prophetic vision of this dread ending ever flitted through her brain. I half feared that the mother, or the wife or a brother of the dead man might come while we stood there, but nothing of the kind occurred. Men and women came, and some looked eagerly in and pressed their faces against the bars; others glanced carelessly at the body and turned away with a disappointed look --people, I thought, who live upon strong excitements and who attend the exhibitions of the Morgue regularly, just as other people go to see theatrical spectacles every night. When one of these looked in and passed on, I could not help thinking--
"Now this don't afford you any satisfaction--a party with his head shot off is what you need."
One night we went to the celebrated Jardin Mabille, but only
staid a little while. We wanted to see
some of this kind of
The girls and women in our carriage behaved themselves
modestly and becomingly all the way out, except that they smoked. When we arrived at the garden in Asnieres, we
paid a franc or two admission and entered a place which had flower beds in it,
and grass plots, and long, curving rows of ornamental shrubbery, with here and
there a secluded bower convenient for eating ice cream in. We moved along the sinuous gravel walks, with
the great concourse of girls and young men, and suddenly a domed and filigreed
white temple, starred over and over and over again with brilliant gas jets,
burst upon us like a fallen sun. Nearby
was a large, handsome house with its ample front illuminated in the same way,
and above its roof floated the Star-Spangled Banner of
"Well!" I said. "How is this?" It nearly took my breath away.
Crowds composed of both sexes and nearly all ages were
frisking about the garden or sitting in the open air in front of the flagstaff
and the temple, drinking wine and coffee or smoking. The dancing had not begun yet.
"Dan, just look at this girl, how beautiful she is!"
"I thank you more for the evident sincerity of the compliment, sir, than for the extraordinary publicity you have given to it!" This in good, pure English.
We took a walk, but my spirits were very, very sadly dampened. I did not feel right comfortable for some time afterward. Why will people be so stupid as to suppose themselves the only foreigners among a crowd of ten thousand persons?
But Blondin came out shortly. He appeared on a stretched cable, far away above the sea of tossing hats and handkerchiefs, and in the glare of the hundreds of rockets that whizzed heavenward by him he looked like a wee insect. He balanced his pole and walked the length of his rope--two or three hundred feet; he came back and got a man and carried him across; he returned to the center and danced a jig; next he performed some gymnastic and balancing feats too perilous to afford a pleasant spectacle; and he finished by fastening to his person a thousand Roman candles, Catherine wheels, serpents and rockets of all manner of brilliant colors, setting them on fire all at once and walking and waltzing across his rope again in a blinding blaze of glory that lit up the garden and the people's faces like a great conflagration at midnight.
The dance had begun, and we adjourned to the temple. Within it was a drinking saloon, and all around it was a broad circular platform for the dancers. I backed up against the wall of the temple, and waited. Twenty sets formed, the music struck up, and then--I placed my hands before my face for very shame. But I looked through my fingers. They were dancing the renowned "Can-can." A handsome girl in the set before me tripped forward lightly to meet the opposite gentleman, tripped back again, grasped her dresses vigorously on both sides with her hands, raised them pretty high, danced an extraordinary jig that had more activity and exposure about it than any jig I ever saw before, and then, drawing her clothes still higher, she advanced gaily to the center and launched a vicious kick full at her vis-a-vis that must infallibly have removed his nose if he had been seven feet high. It was a mercy he was only six.
That is the can-can. The idea of it is to dance as wildly, as noisily, as furiously as you can; expose yourself as much as possible if you are a woman; and kick as high as you can, no matter which sex you belong to. There is no word of exaggeration in this. Any of the staid, respectable, aged people who were there that night can testify to the truth of that statement. There were a good many such people present. I suppose French morality is not of that straight-laced description which is shocked at trifles.
I moved aside and took a general view of the can-can. Shouts, laughter, furious music, a bewildering chaos of darting and intermingling forms, stormy jerking and snatching of gay dresses, bobbing beads, flying arms, lightning flashes of white-stockinged calves and dainty slippers in the air, and then a grand final rush, riot, a terrific hubbub, and a wild stampede! Heavens! Nothing like it has been seen on earth since trembling Tam O'Shanter saw the devil and the witches at their orgies that stormy night in "Alloway's auld haunted kirk."
We visited the Louvre, at a time when we had no silk purchases in view, and looked at its miles of paintings by the old masters. Some of them were beautiful, but at the same time they carried such evidences about them of the cringing spirit of those great men that we found small pleasure in examining them. Their nauseous adulation of princely patrons was more prominent to me and chained my attention more surely than the charms of color and expression which are claimed to be in the pictures. Gratitude for kindnesses is well, but it seems to me that some of those artists carried it so far that it ceased to be gratitude and became worship. If there is a plausible excuse for the worship of men, then by all means let us forgive Rubens and his brethren.
But I will drop the subject, lest I say something about the old masters that might as well be left unsaid.
Of course we drove in the
But presently the Emperor came along and he outshone them all. He was preceded by a bodyguard of gentlemen on horseback in showy uniforms, his carriage-horses (there appeared to be somewhere in the remote neighborhood of a thousand of them,) were bestridden by gallant-looking fellows, also in stylish uniforms, and after the carriage followed another detachment of bodyguards. Everybody got out of the way; everybody bowed to the Emperor and his friend the Sultan; and they went by on a swinging trot and disappeared.
I will not describe the
One of our pleasantest visits was to Pere la Chaise, the
national burying-ground of
We had stood in the ancient church of St. Denis, where the
marble effigies of thirty generations of kings and queens lay stretched at
length upon the tombs, and the sensations invoked were startling and novel; the
curious armor, the obsolete costumes, the placid faces, the hands placed palm
to palm in eloquent supplication--it was a vision of gray antiquity. It seemed curious enough to be standing face
to face, as it were, with old
The great names of Pere la Chaise impress one, too, but differently. There the suggestion brought constantly to his mind is, that this place is sacred to a nobler royalty--the royalty of heart and brain. Every faculty of mind, every noble trait of human nature, every high occupation which men engage in, seems represented by a famous name. The effect is a curious medley. Davoust and Massena, who wrought in many a battle tragedy, are here, and so also is Rachel, of equal renown in mimic tragedy on the stage. The Abbe Sicard sleeps here--the first great teacher of the deaf and dumb--a man whose heart went out to every unfortunate, and whose life was given to kindly offices in their service; and not far off, in repose and peace at last, lies Marshal Ney, whose stormy spirit knew no music like the bugle call to arms. The man who originated public gas-lighting, and that other benefactor who introduced the cultivation of the potato and thus blessed millions of his starving countrymen, lie with the Prince of Masserano, and with exiled queens and princes of Further India. Gay-Lussac the chemist, Laplace the astronomer, Larrey the surgeon, de Suze the advocate, are here, and with them are Talma, Bellini, Rubini; de Balzac, Beaumarchais, Beranger; Moliere and Lafontaine, and scores of other men whose names and whose worthy labors are as familiar in the remote by-places of civilization as are the historic deeds of the kings and princes that sleep in the marble vaults of St. Denis.
But among the thousands and thousands of tombs in Pere la Chaise, there is one that no man, no woman, no youth of either sex, ever passes by without stopping to examine. Every visitor has a sort of indistinct idea of the history of its dead and comprehends that homage is due there, but not one in twenty thousand clearly remembers the story of that tomb and its romantic occupants. This is the grave of Abelard and Heloise--a grave which has been more revered, more widely known, more written and sung about and wept over, for seven hundred years, than any other in Christendom save only that of the Saviour. All visitors linger pensively about it; all young people capture and carry away keepsakes and mementoes of it; all Parisian youths and maidens who are disappointed in love come there to bail out when they are full of tears; yea, many stricken lovers make pilgrimages to this shrine from distant provinces to weep and wail and "grit" their teeth over their heavy sorrows, and to purchase the sympathies of the chastened spirits of that tomb with offerings of immortelles and budding flowers.
Go when you will, you find somebody snuffling over that
tomb. Go when you will, you find it
furnished with those bouquets and immortelles.
Go when you will, you find a gravel-train from
Yet who really knows the story of Abelard and Heloise? Precious few people. The names are perfectly familiar to every body, and that is about all. With infinite pains I have acquired a knowledge of that history, and I propose to narrate it here, partly for the honest information of the public and partly to show that public that they have been wasting a good deal of marketable sentiment very unnecessarily.
STORY OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Heloise was born seven hundred and sixty-six years ago. She may have had parents. There is no telling. She lived with her uncle Fulbert, a canon of
the cathedral of
Just at this time, Pierre Abelard, who had already made
himself widely famous as a rhetorician, came to found a school of rhetoric in
His school was near Fulbert's house. He asked Fulbert to allow him to call. The good old swivel saw here a rare opportunity: his niece, whom he so much loved, would absorb knowledge from this man, and it would not cost him a cent. Such was Fulbert--penurious.
Fulbert's first name is not mentioned by any author, which is unfortunate. However, George W. Fulbert will answer for him as well as any other. We will let him go at that. He asked Abelard to teach her.
Abelard was glad enough of the opportunity. He came often and staid long. A letter of his shows in its very first sentence that he came under that friendly roof like a cold-hearted villain as he was, with the deliberate intention of debauching a confiding, innocent girl. This is the letter:
"I cannot cease to be astonished at the simplicity of Fulbert;
I was as much surprised as if he had placed a lamb in the power
of a hungry wolf. Heloise and I, under pretext of study, gave
ourselves up wholly to love, and the solitude that love seeks
our studies procured for us. Books were open before us, but we
spoke oftener of love than philosophy, and kisses came more
readily from our lips than words."
And so, exulting over an honorable confidence which to his
degraded instinct was a ludicrous "simplicity," this unmanly Abelard
seduced the niece of the man whose guest he was.
He drove Abelard from his house. Abelard returned secretly and carried Heloise
away to Palais, in
But she was overruled, and the private marriage took place. Now for Fulbert! The heart so wounded should be healed at last; the proud spirit so tortured should find rest again; the humbled head should be lifted up once more. He proclaimed the marriage in the high places of the city and rejoiced that dishonor had departed from his house. But lo! Abelard denied the marriage! Heloise denied it! The people, knowing the former circumstances, might have believed Fulbert had only Abelard denied it, but when the person chiefly interested--the girl herself--denied it, they laughed, despairing Fulbert to scorn.
The poor canon of the cathedral of
"Ruffians, hired by Fulbert, fell upon Abelard by night, and
inflicted upon him a terrible and nameless mutilation."
I am seeking the last resting place of those "ruffians." When I find it I shall shed some tears on it, and stack up some bouquets and immortelles, and cart away from it some gravel whereby to remember that howsoever blotted by crime their lives may have been, these ruffians did one just deed, at any rate, albeit it was not warranted by the strict letter of the law.
Heloise entered a convent and gave good-bye to the world and
its pleasures for all time. For twelve
years she never heard of Abelard --never even heard his name mentioned. She had become prioress of
On account of her too easy government of her nuns, some disreputable irregularities were discovered among them, and the Abbot of St. Denis broke up her establishment. Abelard was the official head of the monastery of St. Gildas de Ruys, at that time, and when he heard of her homeless condition a sentiment of pity was aroused in his breast (it is a wonder the unfamiliar emotion did not blow his head off,) and he placed her and her troop in the little oratory of the Paraclete, a religious establishment which he had founded. She had many privations and sufferings to undergo at first, but her worth and her gentle disposition won influential friends for her, and she built up a wealthy and flourishing nunnery. She became a great favorite with the heads of the church, and also the people, though she seldom appeared in public. She rapidly advanced in esteem, in good report, and in usefulness, and Abelard as rapidly lost ground. The Pope so honored her that he made her the head of her order. Abelard, a man of splendid talents, and ranking as the first debater of his time, became timid, irresolute, and distrustful of his powers. He only needed a great misfortune to topple him from the high position he held in the world of intellectual excellence, and it came. Urged by kings and princes to meet the subtle St. Bernard in debate and crush him, he stood up in the presence of a royal and illustrious assemblage, and when his antagonist had finished he looked about him and stammered a commencement; but his courage failed him, the cunning of his tongue was gone: with his speech unspoken, he trembled and sat down, a disgraced and vanquished champion.
He died a nobody, and was buried at
History is silent concerning the last acts of the mountain howitzer. Let the world say what it will about him, I, at least, shall always respect the memory and sorrow for the abused trust and the broken heart and the troubled spirit of the old smooth-bore. Rest and repose be his!
Such is the story of Abelard and Heloise. Such is the history that Lamartine has shed such cataracts of tears over. But that man never could come within the influence of a subject in the least pathetic without overflowing his banks. He ought to be dammed--or leveed, I should more properly say. Such is the history--not as it is usually told, but as it is when stripped of the nauseous sentimentality that would enshrine for our loving worship a dastardly seducer like Pierre Abelard. I have not a word to say against the misused, faithful girl, and would not withhold from her grave a single one of those simple tributes which blighted youths and maidens offer to her memory, but I am sorry enough that I have not time and opportunity to write four or five volumes of my opinion of her friend the founder of the Parachute, or the Paraclete, or whatever it was.
The tons of sentiment I have wasted on that unprincipled humbug in my ignorance! I shall throttle down my emotions hereafter, about this sort of people, until I have read them up and know whether they are entitled to any tearful attentions or not. I wish I had my immortelles back, now, and that bunch of radishes.
We ferreted out another French imposition--a frequent sign to this effect: "ALL MANNER OF AMERICAN DRINKS ARTISTICALLY PREPARED HERE." We procured the services of a gentleman experienced in the nomenclature of the American bar, and moved upon the works of one of these impostors. A bowing, aproned Frenchman skipped forward and said:
"Que voulez les messieurs?" I do not know what "Que voulez les messieurs?" means, but such was his remark.
Our general said, "We will take a whiskey straight."
[A stare from the Frenchman.]
"Well, if you don't know what that is, give us a champagne cock-tail."
[A stare and a shrug.]
"Well, then, give us a sherry cobbler."
The Frenchman was checkmated. This was all Greek to him.
"Give us a brandy smash!"
The Frenchman began to back away, suspicious of the ominous vigor of the last order--began to back away, shrugging his shoulders and spreading his hands apologetically.
The General followed him up and gained a complete victory. The uneducated foreigner could not even furnish a Santa Cruz Punch, an Eye-Opener, a Stone-Fence, or an Earthquake. It was plain that he was a wicked impostor.
An acquaintance of mine said the other day that he was
doubtless the only American visitor to the Exposition who had had the high
honor of being escorted by the Emperor's bodyguard. I said with unobtrusive frankness that I was
astonished that such a long-legged, lantern-jawed, unprepossessing-looking
specter as he should be singled out for a distinction like that, and asked how
it came about. He said he had attended a
great military review in the Champ de Mars some time ago, and while the multitude
about him was growing thicker and thicker every moment he observed an open
space inside the railing. He left his
carriage and went into it. He was the
only person there, and so he had plenty of room, and the situation being
central, he could see all the preparations going on about the field. By and by there was a sound of music, and
soon the Emperor of the French and the Emperor of Austria, escorted by the
famous Cent Gardes, entered the enclosure.
They seemed not to observe him, but directly, in response to a sign from
the commander of the guard, a young lieutenant came toward him with a file of
his men following, halted, raised his hand, and gave the military salute, and
then said in a low voice that he was sorry to have to disturb a stranger and a
gentleman, but the place was sacred to royalty.
Imagine a poor Frenchman ignorantly intruding upon a public
rostrum sacred to some six-penny dignitary in
Ah, the grisettes! I had almost forgotten. They are another romantic fraud. They were (if you let the books of travel tell it) always so beautiful--so neat and trim, so graceful--so naive and trusting--so gentle, so winning--so faithful to their shop duties, so irresistible to buyers in their prattling importunity--so devoted to their poverty-stricken students of the Latin Quarter--so lighthearted and happy on their Sunday picnics in the suburbs--and oh, so charmingly, so delightfully immoral!
Stuff! For three or four days I was constantly saying:
And he always said, "No."
He comprehended at last that I wanted to see a grisette. Then he showed me dozens of them. They were like nearly all the Frenchwomen I ever saw --homely. They had large hands, large feet, large mouths; they had pug noses as a general thing, and moustaches that not even good breeding could overlook; they combed their hair straight back without parting; they were ill-shaped, they were not winning, they were not graceful; I knew by their looks that they ate garlic and onions; and lastly and finally, to my thinking it would be base flattery to call them immoral.
Aroint thee, wench! I
sorrow for the vagabond student of the
We have seen every thing, and tomorrow we go to
Some of our party have gone to
I will conclude this chapter with a remark that I am sincerely proud to be able to make--and glad, as well, that my comrades cordially endorse it, to wit: by far the handsomest women we have seen in France were born and reared in America.
I feel now like a man who has redeemed a failing reputation and shed luster upon a dimmed escutcheon, by a single just deed done at the eleventh hour.
Let the curtain fall, to slow music.
It was worth a pilgrimage to see. Everything is on so gigantic a scale. Nothing
is small--nothing is cheap. The statues
are all large; the palace is grand; the park covers a fair-sized county; the
avenues are interminable. All the
distances and all the dimensions about
I always thought ill of people at home who trimmed their shrubbery into pyramids and squares and spires and all manner of unnatural shapes, and when I saw the same thing being practiced in this great park I began to feel dissatisfied. But I soon saw the idea of the thing and the wisdom of it. They seek the general effect. We distort a dozen sickly trees into unaccustomed shapes in a little yard no bigger than a dining room, and then surely they look absurd enough. But here they take two hundred thousand tall forest trees and set them in a double row; allow no sign of leaf or branch to grow on the trunk lower down than six feet above the ground; from that point the boughs begin to project, and very gradually they extend outward further and further till they meet overhead, and a faultless tunnel of foliage is formed. The arch is mathematically precise. The effect is then very fine. They make trees take fifty different shapes, and so these quaint effects are infinitely varied and picturesque. The trees in no two avenues are shaped alike, and consequently the eye is not fatigued with anything in the nature of monotonous uniformity. I will drop this subject now, leaving it to others to determine how these people manage to make endless ranks of lofty forest trees grow to just a certain thickness of trunk (say a foot and two-thirds); how they make them spring to precisely the same height for miles; how they make them grow so close together; how they compel one huge limb to spring from the same identical spot on each tree and form the main sweep of the arch; and how all these things are kept exactly in the same condition and in the same exquisite shapeliness and symmetry month after month and year after year--for I have tried to reason out the problem and have failed.
We walked through the great hall of sculpture and the one
hundred and fifty galleries of paintings in the
All through this Faubourg St. Antoine, misery, poverty,
vice, and crime go hand in hand, and the evidences of it stare one in the face
from every side. Here the people live
who begin the revolutions. Whenever
there is anything of that kind to be done, they are always ready. They take as much genuine pleasure in building
a barricade as they do in cutting a throat or shoving a friend into the
But they will build no more barricades, they will break no more soldiers' heads with paving-stones. Louis Napoleon has taken care of all that. He is annihilating the crooked streets and building in their stead noble boulevards as straight as an arrow--avenues which a cannon ball could traverse from end to end without meeting an obstruction more irresistible than the flesh and bones of men--boulevards whose stately edifices will never afford refuges and plotting places for starving, discontented revolution breeders. Five of these great thoroughfares radiate from one ample centre--a centre which is exceedingly well adapted to the accommodation of heavy artillery. The mobs used to riot there, but they must seek another rallying-place in future. And this ingenious Napoleon paves the streets of his great cities with a smooth, compact composition of asphaltum and sand. No more barricades of flagstones--no more assaulting his Majesty's troops with cobbles. I cannot feel friendly toward my quondam fellow-American, Napoleon III., especially at this time,--[July, 1867.]--when in fancy I see his credulous victim, Maximilian, lying stark and stiff in Mexico, and his maniac widow watching eagerly from her French asylum for the form that will never come--but I do admire his nerve, his calm self-reliance, his shrewd good sense.
We had a pleasant journey of it seaward again. We found that for the three past nights our
ship had been in a state of war. The
first night the sailors of a British ship, being happy with grog, came down on
the pier and challenged our sailors to a free fight. They accepted with alacrity, repaired to the
pier, and gained--their share of a drawn battle. Several bruised and bloody members of both
parties were carried off by the police and imprisoned until the following
morning. The next night the British boys
came again to renew the fight, but our men had had strict orders to remain on
board and out of sight. They did so, and
the besieging party grew noisy and more and more abusive as the fact became
apparent (to them) that our men were afraid to come out. They went away finally with a closing burst
of ridicule and offensive epithets. The
third night they came again and were more obstreperous than ever. They swaggered up and down the almost
deserted pier, and hurled curses, obscenity, and stinging sarcasms at our
crew. It was more than human nature
could bear. The executive officer
ordered our men ashore--with instructions not to fight. They charged the British and gained a brilliant
victory. I probably would not have
mentioned this war had it ended differently.
But I travel to learn, and I still remember that they picture no French
defeats in the battle-galleries of
It was like home to us to step on board the comfortable ship
again and smoke and lounge about her breezy decks. And yet it was not altogether like home,
either, because so many members of the family were away. We missed some pleasant faces which we would
rather have found at dinner, and at night there were gaps in the euchre-parties
which could not be satisfactorily filled.
"Moult" was in
In due time the shores of Italy were sighted, and as we stood gazing from the decks, early in the bright summer morning, the stately city of Genoa rose up out of the sea and flung back the sunlight from her hundred palaces.
Here we rest for the present--or rather, here we have been trying to rest, for some little time, but we run about too much to accomplish a great deal in that line.
I would like to remain here.
I had rather not go any further.
There may be prettier women in
The ladies and gentlemen of Genoa have a pleasant fashion of
promenading in a large park on the top of a hill in the center of the city,
from six till nine in the evening, and then eating ices in a neighboring garden
an hour or two longer. We went to the
park on Sunday evening. Two thousand
persons were present, chiefly young ladies and gentlemen. The gentlemen were dressed in the very latest
Never smoke any Italian tobacco. Never do it on any account. It makes me shudder to think what it must be
made of. You cannot throw an old cigar
"stub" down anywhere, but some vagabond will pounce upon it on the
instant. I like to smoke a good deal,
but it wounds my sensibilities to see one of these stub-hunters watching me out
of the corners of his hungry eyes and calculating how long my cigar will be
likely to last. It reminded me too painfully of that
Now, they surely must chew up those old stubs, and dry and sell them for smoking-tobacco. Therefore, give your custom to other than Italian brands of the article.
"The Superb" and the "City of
We have visited several of the palaces--immense thick-walled piles, with great stone staircases, tesselated marble pavements on the floors, (sometimes they make a mosaic work, of intricate designs, wrought in pebbles or little fragments of marble laid in cement,) and grand salons hung with pictures by Rubens, Guido, Titian, Paul Veronese, and so on, and portraits of heads of the family, in plumed helmets and gallant coats of mail, and patrician ladies in stunning costumes of centuries ago. But, of course, the folks were all out in the country for the summer, and might not have known enough to ask us to dinner if they had been at home, and so all the grand empty salons, with their resounding pavements, their grim pictures of dead ancestors, and tattered banners with the dust of bygone centuries upon them, seemed to brood solemnly of death and the grave, and our spirits ebbed away, and our cheerfulness passed from us. We never went up to the eleventh story. We always began to suspect ghosts. There was always an undertaker-looking servant along, too, who handed us a program, pointed to the picture that began the list of the salon he was in, and then stood stiff and stark and unsmiling in his petrified livery till we were ready to move on to the next chamber, whereupon he marched sadly ahead and took up another malignantly respectful position as before. I wasted so much time praying that the roof would fall in on these dispiriting flunkies that I had but little left to bestow upon palace and pictures.
And besides, as in
I have not been to church so often in a long time as I have
in the last few weeks. The people in
these old lands seem to make churches their specialty. Especially does this seem to be the case with
the citizens of
The old Cathedral of San Lorenzo is about as notable a
building as we have found in
The main point of interest about the cathedral is the little
Chapel of St. John the Baptist. They
only allow women to enter it on one day in the year, on account of the
animosity they still cherish against the sex because of the murder of the Saint
to gratify a caprice of Herodias. In
this Chapel is a marble chest, in which, they told us, were the ashes of
They also showed us a portrait of the Madonna which was painted by St. Luke, and it did not look half as old and smoky as some of the pictures by Rubens. We could not help admiring the Apostle's modesty in never once mentioning in his writings that he could paint.
But isn't this relic matter a little overdone? We find a piece of the true cross in every
old church we go into, and some of the nails that held it together. I would not like to be positive, but I think
we have seen as much as a keg of these nails.
Then there is the crown of thorns; they have part of one in Sainte
I only meant to write about the churches, but I keep wandering from the subject. I could say that the Church of the Annunciation is a wilderness of beautiful columns, of statues, gilded moldings, and pictures almost countless, but that would give no one an entirely perfect idea of the thing, and so where is the use? One family built the whole edifice, and have got money left. There is where the mystery lies. We had an idea at first that only a mint could have survived the expense.
These people here live in the heaviest, highest, broadest, darkest, solidest houses one can imagine. Each one might "laugh a siege to scorn." A hundred feet front and a hundred high is about the style, and you go up three flights of stairs before you begin to come upon signs of occupancy. Everything is stone, and stone of the heaviest--floors, stairways, mantels, benches--everything. The walls are four to five feet thick. The streets generally are four or five to eight feet wide and as crooked as a corkscrew. You go along one of these gloomy cracks, and look up and behold the sky like a mere ribbon of light, far above your head, where the tops of the tall houses on either side of the street bend almost together. You feel as if you were at the bottom of some tremendous abyss, with all the world far above you. You wind in and out and here and there, in the most mysterious way, and have no more idea of the points of the compass than if you were a blind man. You can never persuade yourself that these are actually streets, and the frowning, dingy, monstrous houses dwellings, till you see one of these beautiful, prettily dressed women emerge from them--see her emerge from a dark, dreary-looking den that looks dungeon all over, from the ground away halfway up to heaven. And then you wonder that such a charming moth could come from such a forbidding shell as that. The streets are wisely made narrow and the houses heavy and thick and stony, in order that the people may be cool in this roasting climate. And they are cool, and stay so. And while I think of it--the men wear hats and have very dark complexions, but the women wear no headgear but a flimsy veil like a gossamer's web, and yet are exceedingly fair as a general thing. Singular, isn't it?
The huge palaces of
I can not conceive of such a thing as
The republics of
The hotel we live in belonged to one of those great orders of knights of the Cross in the times of the Crusades, and its mailed sentinels once kept watch and ward in its massive turrets and woke the echoes of these halls and corridors with their iron heels.
We are ready to move again, though we are not really tired
yet of the narrow passages of this old marble cave. Cave is a good word--when speaking of
We are not tired of the endless processions of cheerful, chattering gossipers that throng these courts and streets all day long, either; nor of the coarse-robed monks; nor of the "Asti" wines, which that old doctor (whom we call the Oracle,) with customary felicity in the matter of getting everything wrong, misterms "nasty." But we must go, nevertheless.
Our last sight was the cemetery (a burial place intended to accommodate 60,000 bodies,) and we shall continue to remember it after we shall have forgotten the palaces. It is a vast marble collonaded corridor extending around a great unoccupied square of ground; its broad floor is marble, and on every slab is an inscription--for every slab covers a corpse. On either side, as one walks down the middle of the passage, are monuments, tombs, and sculptured figures that are exquisitely wrought and are full of grace and beauty. They are new and snowy; every outline is perfect, every feature guiltless of mutilation, flaw, or blemish; and therefore, to us these far-reaching ranks of bewitching forms are a hundred fold more lovely than the damaged and dingy statuary they have saved from the wreck of ancient art and set up in the galleries of Paris for the worship of the world.
Well provided with cigars and other necessaries of life, we
are now ready to take the cars for
All day long we sped through a mountainous country whose peaks were bright with sunshine, whose hillsides were dotted with pretty villas sitting in the midst of gardens and shrubbery, and whose deep ravines were cool and shady and looked ever so inviting from where we and the birds were winging our flight through the sultry upper air.
We had plenty of chilly tunnels wherein to check our perspiration, though. We timed one of them. We were twenty minutes passing through it, going at the rate of thirty to thirty-five miles an hour.
Toward dusk we drew near
At last, a forest of graceful needles, shimmering in the amber sunlight, rose slowly above the pygmy housetops, as one sometimes sees, in the far horizon, a gilded and pinnacled mass of cloud lift itself above the waste of waves, at sea,--the Cathedral! We knew it in a moment.
Half of that night, and all of the next day, this architectural autocrat was our sole object of interest.
What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems in the soft moonlight only a fairy delusion of frost-work that might vanish with a breath! How sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires were cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its snowy roof! It was a vision!--a miracle!--an anthem sung in stone, a poem wrought in marble!
Howsoever you look at the great cathedral, it is noble, it
is beautiful! Wherever you stand in
At nine o'clock in the morning we went and stood before this marble colossus. The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures--and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest. On the great steeple--surmounting the myriad of spires--inside of the spires--over the doors, the windows--in nooks and corners--every where that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself! Raphael, Angelo, Canova--giants like these gave birth to the designs, and their own pupils carved them. Every face is eloquent with expression, and every attitude is full of grace. Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. In their midst the central steeple towers proudly up like the mainmast of some great Indiaman among a fleet of coasters.
We wished to go aloft. The sacristan showed us a marble stairway (of course it was marble, and of the purest and whitest--there is no other stone, no brick, no wood, among its building materials) and told us to go up one hundred and eighty-two steps and stop till he came. It was not necessary to say stop--we should have done that any how. We were tired by the time we got there. This was the roof. Here, springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance like the pipes of an organ. We could see now that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street. We could see, also, that from the inside of each and every one of these hollow spires, from sixteen to thirty-one beautiful marble statues looked out upon the world below.
From the eaves to the comb of the roof stretched in endless succession great curved marble beams, like the fore-and-aft braces of a steamboat, and along each beam from end to end stood up a row of richly carved flowers and fruits--each separate and distinct in kind, and over 15,000 species represented. At a little distance these rows seem to close together like the ties of a railroad track, and then the mingling together of the buds and blossoms of this marble garden forms a picture that is very charming to the eye.
We descended and entered. Within the church, long rows of fluted columns, like huge monuments, divided the building into broad aisles, and on the figured pavement fell many a soft blush from the painted windows above. I knew the church was very large, but I could not fully appreciate its great size until I noticed that the men standing far down by the altar looked like boys, and seemed to glide, rather than walk. We loitered about gazing aloft at the monster windows all aglow with brilliantly colored scenes in the lives of the Saviour and his followers. Some of these pictures are mosaics, and so artistically are their thousand particles of tinted glass or stone put together that the work has all the smoothness and finish of a painting. We counted sixty panes of glass in one window, and each pane was adorned with one of these master achievements of genius and patience.
The guide showed us a coffee-colored piece of sculpture which he said was considered to have come from the hand of Phidias, since it was not possible that any other artist, of any epoch, could have copied nature with such faultless accuracy. The figure was that of a man without a skin; with every vein, artery, muscle, every fiber and tendon and tissue of the human frame represented in minute detail. It looked natural, because somehow it looked as if it were in pain. A skinned man would be likely to look that way unless his attention were occupied with some other matter. It was a hideous thing, and yet there was a fascination about it some where. I am very sorry I saw it, because I shall always see it now. I shall dream of it sometimes. I shall dream that it is resting its corded arms on the bed's head and looking down on me with its dead eyes; I shall dream that it is stretched between the sheets with me and touching me with its exposed muscles and its stringy cold legs.
It is hard to forget repulsive things. I remember yet how I ran off from school once, when I was a boy, and then, pretty late at night, concluded to climb into the window of my father's office and sleep on a lounge, because I had a delicacy about going home and getting thrashed. As I lay on the lounge and my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I fancied I could see a long, dusky, shapeless thing stretched upon the floor. A cold shiver went through me. I turned my face to the wall. That did not answer. I was afraid that that thing would creep over and seize me in the dark. I turned back and stared at it for minutes and minutes--they seemed hours. It appeared to me that the lagging moonlight never, never would get to it. I turned to the wall and counted twenty, to pass the feverish time away. I looked--the pale square was nearer. I turned again and counted fifty--it was almost touching it. With desperate will I turned again and counted one hundred, and faced about, all in a tremble. A white human hand lay in the moonlight! Such an awful sinking at the heart--such a sudden gasp for breath! I felt--I cannot tell what I felt. When I recovered strength enough, I faced the wall again. But no boy could have remained so with that mysterious hand behind him. I counted again and looked--the most of a naked arm was exposed. I put my hands over my eyes and counted till I could stand it no longer, and then --the pallid face of a man was there, with the corners of the mouth drawn down, and the eyes fixed and glassy in death! I raised to a sitting posture and glowered on that corpse till the light crept down the bare breastline by line--inch by inch--past the nipple--and then it disclosed a ghastly stab!
I went away from there. I do not say that I went away in any sort of a hurry, but I simply went--that is sufficient. I went out at the window, and I carried the sash along with me. I did not need the sash, but it was handier to take it than it was to leave it, and so I took it.--I was not scared, but I was considerably agitated.
When I reached home, they whipped me, but I enjoyed it. It seemed perfectly delightful. That man had been stabbed near the office that afternoon, and they carried him in there to doctor him, but he only lived an hour. I have slept in the same room with him often since then--in my dreams.
Now we will descend into the crypt, under the grand altar of Milan Cathedral, and receive an impressive sermon from lips that have been silent and hands that have been gestureless for three hundred years.
The priest stopped in a small dungeon and held up his candle. This was the last resting-place of a good man, a warm-hearted, unselfish man; a man whose whole life was given to succoring the poor, encouraging the faint-hearted, visiting the sick; in relieving distress, whenever and wherever he found it. His heart, his hand, and his purse were always open. With his story in one's mind he can almost see his benignant countenance moving calmly among the haggard faces of Milan in the days when the plague swept the city, brave where all others were cowards, full of compassion where pity had been crushed out of all other breasts by the instinct of self-preservation gone mad with terror, cheering all, praying with all, helping all, with hand and brain and purse, at a time when parents forsook their children, the friend deserted the friend, and the brother turned away from the sister while her pleadings were still wailing in his ears.
This was good St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop of Milan. The people idolized him; princes lavished uncounted treasures upon him. We stood in his tomb. Near by was the sarcophagus, lighted by the dripping candles. The walls were faced with bas-reliefs representing scenes in his life done in massive silver. The priest put on a short white lace garment over his black robe, crossed himself, bowed reverently, and began to turn a windlass slowly. The sarcophagus separated in two parts, lengthwise, and the lower part sank down and disclosed a coffin of rock crystal as clear as the atmosphere. Within lay the body, robed in costly habiliments covered with gold embroidery and starred with scintillating gems. The decaying head was black with age, the dry skin was drawn tight to the bones, the eyes were gone, there was a hole in the temple and another in the cheek, and the skinny lips were parted as in a ghastly smile! Over this dreadful face, its dust and decay and its mocking grin, hung a crown sown thick with flashing brilliants; and upon the breast lay crosses and croziers of solid gold that were splendid with emeralds and diamonds.
How poor, and cheap, and trivial these gew-gaws seemed in
presence of the solemnity, the grandeur, the awful majesty of Death! Think of Milton,
Dead Bartolomeo preached his pregnant sermon, and its burden was: You that worship the vanities of earth--you that long for worldly honor, worldly wealth, worldly fame--behold their worth!
To us it seemed that so good a man, so kind a heart, so simple a nature, deserved rest and peace in a grave sacred from the intrusion of prying eyes, and believed that he himself would have preferred to have it so, but peradventure our wisdom was at fault in this regard.
As we came out upon the floor of the church again, another priest volunteered to show us the treasures of the church.
What, more? The
furniture of the narrow chamber of death we had just visited weighed six
millions of francs in ounces and carats alone, without a penny thrown into the
account for the costly workmanship bestowed upon them! But we followed into a large room filled with
tall wooden presses like wardrobes. He
threw them open, and behold, the cargoes of "crude bullion" of the
assay offices of
The priests showed us two of St. Paul's fingers, and one of
St. Peter's; a bone of Judas Iscariot, (it was black,) and also bones of all
the other disciples; a handkerchief in which the Saviour had left the
impression of his face. Among the most
precious of the relics were a stone from the Holy Sepulchre, part of the crown
of thorns, (they have a whole one at Notre Dame,) a fragment of the purple robe
worn by the Saviour, a nail from the Cross, and a picture of the Virgin and
Child painted by the veritable hand of St. Luke. This is the second of St. Luke's Virgins we
have seen. Once a year all these holy
relics are carried in procession through the streets of
I like to revel in the dryest details of the great cathedral. The building is five hundred feet long by one hundred and eighty wide, and the principal steeple is in the neighborhood of four hundred feet high. It has 7,148 marble statues, and will have upwards of three thousand more when it is finished. In addition it has one thousand five hundred bas-reliefs. It has one hundred and thirty-six spires--twenty-one more are to be added. Each spire is surmounted by a statue six and a half feet high. Every thing about the church is marble, and all from the same quarry; it was bequeathed to the Archbishopric for this purpose centuries ago. So nothing but the mere workmanship costs; still that is expensive --the bill foots up six hundred and eighty-four millions of francs thus far (considerably over a hundred millions of dollars,) and it is estimated that it will take a hundred and twenty years yet to finish the cathedral. It looks complete, but is far from being so. We saw a new statue put in its niche yesterday, alongside of one which had been standing these four hundred years, they said. There are four staircases leading up to the main steeple, each of which cost a hundred thousand dollars, with the four hundred and eight statues which adorn them. Marco Compioni was the architect who designed the wonderful structure more than five hundred years ago, and it took him forty-six years to work out the plan and get it ready to hand over to the builders. He is dead now. The building was begun a little less than five hundred years ago, and the third generation hence will not see it completed.
The building looks best by moonlight, because the older portions of it, being stained with age, contrast unpleasantly with the newer and whiter portions. It seems somewhat too broad for its height, but may be familiarity with it might dissipate this impression.
They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St.
We bid it good-bye, now--possibly for all time. How surely, in some future day, when the memory of it shall have lost its vividness, shall we half believe we have seen it in a wonderful dream, but never with waking eyes!
That was what the guide asked when we were looking up at the bronze horses on the Arch of Peace. It meant, do you wish to go up there? I give it as a specimen of guide-English. These are the people that make life a burthen to the tourist. Their tongues are never still. They talk forever and forever, and that is the kind of billingsgate they use. Inspiration itself could hardly comprehend them. If they would only show you a masterpiece of art, or a venerable tomb, or a prison-house, or a battle-field, hallowed by touching memories or historical reminiscences, or grand traditions, and then step aside and hold still for ten minutes and let you think, it would not be so bad. But they interrupt every dream, every pleasant train of thought, with their tiresome cackling. Sometimes when I have been standing before some cherished old idol of mine that I remembered years and years ago in pictures in the geography at school, I have thought I would give a whole world if the human parrot at my side would suddenly perish where he stood and leave me to gaze, and ponder, and worship.
No, we did not "
We wished to go to the Ambrosian Library, and we did that
also. We saw a manuscript of Virgil,
with annotations in the handwriting of Petrarch, the gentleman who loved
another man's Laura, and lavished upon her all through life a love which was a
clear waste of the raw material. It was
sound sentiment, but bad judgment. It
brought both parties fame, and created a fountain of commiseration for them in
sentimental breasts that is running yet.
But who says a word in behalf of poor Mr. Laura? (I do not know his other name.) Who glorifies him? Who bedews him with tears? Who writes poetry
about him? Nobody. How do you suppose he liked the state of
things that has given the world so much pleasure? How did he enjoy having another man following
his wife every where and making her name a familiar word in every
garlic-exterminating mouth in
Let the world go on fretting about Laura and Petrarch if it will; but as for me, my tears and my lamentations shall be lavished upon the unsung defendant.
We saw also an autograph letter of Lucrezia Borgia, a lady for whom I have always entertained the highest respect, on account of her rare histrionic capabilities, her opulence in solid gold goblets made of gilded wood, her high distinction as an operatic screamer, and the facility with which she could order a sextuple funeral and get the corpses ready for it. We saw one single coarse yellow hair from Lucrezia's head, likewise. It awoke emotions, but we still live. In this same library we saw some drawings by Michael Angelo (these Italians call him Mickel Angelo,) and Leonardo da Vinci. (They spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.) We reserve our opinion of these sketches.
In another building they showed us a fresco representing some lions and other beasts drawing chariots; and they seemed to project so far from the wall that we took them to be sculptures. The artist had shrewdly heightened the delusion by painting dust on the creatures' backs, as if it had fallen there naturally and properly. Smart fellow--if it be smart to deceive strangers.
Elsewhere we saw a huge Roman amphitheatre, with its stone seats still in good preservation. Modernized, it is now the scene of more peaceful recreations than the exhibition of a party of wild beasts with Christians for dinner. Part of the time, the Milanese use it for a race track, and at other seasons they flood it with water and have spirited yachting regattas there. The guide told us these things, and he would hardly try so hazardous an experiment as the telling of a falsehood, when it is all he can do to speak the truth in English without getting the lock-jaw.
In another place we were shown a sort of summer arbor, with a fence before it. We said that was nothing. We looked again, and saw, through the arbor, an endless stretch of garden, and shrubbery, and grassy lawn. We were perfectly willing to go in there and rest, but it could not be done. It was only another delusion--a painting by some ingenious artist with little charity in his heart for tired folk. The deception was perfect. No one could have imagined the park was not real. We even thought we smelled the flowers at first.
We got a carriage at twilight and drove in the shaded avenues with the other nobility, and after dinner we took wine and ices in a fine garden with the great public. The music was excellent, the flowers and shrubbery were pleasant to the eye, the scene was vivacious, everybody was genteel and well-behaved, and the ladies were slightly moustached, and handsomely dressed, but very homely.
We adjourned to a cafe and played billiards an hour, and I
made six or seven points by the doctor pocketing his ball, and he made as many
by my pocketing my ball. We came near
making a carom sometimes, but not the one we were trying to make. The table was of the usual European style
--cushions dead and twice as high as the balls; the cues in bad repair. The
natives play only a sort of pool on them.
We have never seen any body playing the French three-ball game yet, and
I doubt if there is any such game known in
Afterward we walked up and down one of the most popular
streets for some time, enjoying other people's comfort and wishing we could
export some of it to our restless, driving, vitality-consuming marts at
home. Just in this one matter lies the
main charm of life in
I do envy these Europeans the comfort they take. When the work of the day is done, they forget it. Some of them go, with wife and children, to a beer hall and sit quietly and genteelly drinking a mug or two of ale and listening to music; others walk the streets, others drive in the avenues; others assemble in the great ornamental squares in the early evening to enjoy the sight and the fragrance of flowers and to hear the military bands play--no European city being without its fine military music at eventide; and yet others of the populace sit in the open air in front of the refreshment houses and eat ices and drink mild beverages that could not harm a child. They go to bed moderately early, and sleep well. They are always quiet, always orderly, always cheerful, comfortable, and appreciative of life and its manifold blessings. One never sees a drunken man among them. The change that has come over our little party is surprising. Day by day we lose some of our restlessness and absorb some of the spirit of quietude and ease that is in the tranquil atmosphere about us and in the demeanor of the people. We grow wise apace. We begin to comprehend what life is for.
We have had a bath in
"Beware, woman! Go away from here--go away, now, or it will be the worse for you. I am an unprotected male, but I will preserve my honor at the peril of my life!"
These words must have frightened her, for she skurried away very fast.
Dan's voice rose on the air:
"Oh, bring some soap, why don't you!"
The reply was Italian. Dan resumed:
"Soap, you know--soap. That is what I want--soap. S-o-a-p, soap; s-o-p-e, soap; s-o-u-p, soap. Hurry up! I don't know how you Irish spell it, but I want it. Spell it to suit yourself, but fetch it. I'm freezing."
I heard the doctor say impressively:
"Dan, how often have we told you that these foreigners
cannot understand English? Why will you
not depend upon us? Why will you not
tell us what you want, and let us ask for it in the language of the country? It would save us a great deal of the
humiliation your reprehensible ignorance causes us. I will address this person in his mother
tongue: 'Here, cospetto! corpo di Bacco!
Even this fluent discharge of Italian did not bring the soap at once, but there was a good reason for it. There was not such an article about the establishment. It is my belief that there never had been. They had to send far up town, and to several different places before they finally got it, so they said. We had to wait twenty or thirty minutes. The same thing had occurred the evening before, at the hotel. I think I have divined the reason for this state of things at last. The English know how to travel comfortably, and they carry soap with them; other foreigners do not use the article.
At every hotel we stop at we always have to send out for
soap, at the last moment, when we are grooming ourselves for dinner, and they
put it in the bill along with the candles and other nonsense. In Marseilles they make half the fancy toilet
soap we consume in America, but the Marseillaise only have a vague theoretical
idea of its use, which they have obtained from books of travel, just as they
have acquired an uncertain notion of clean shirts, and the peculiarities of the
gorilla, and other curious matters. This
reminds me of poor Blucher's note to the landlord in
mettez some savon in your bed-chambers? Est-ce que vous pensez I
will steal it? La nuit passee you charged me pour deux chandelles
when I only had one; hier vous avez charged me avec glace when I had
none at all; tout les jours you are coming some fresh game or other
on me, mais vous ne pouvez pas play this savon dodge on me twice.
Savon is a necessary de la vie to any body but a Frenchman, et je
l'aurai hors de cet hotel or make trouble. You hear me. Allons.
I remonstrated against the sending of this note, because it was so mixed up that the landlord would never be able to make head or tail of it; but Blucher said he guessed the old man could read the French of it and average the rest.
Blucher's French is bad enough, but it is not much worse
than the English one finds in advertisements all over
which the best it is in
handsome locate on the best situation of the lake, with the most
splendid view near the Villas Melzy, to the King of Belgian, and
Serbelloni. This hotel have recently enlarge, do offer all
commodities on moderate price, at the strangers gentlemen who whish
spend the seasons
How is that, for a specimen?
In the hotel is a handsome little chapel where an English clergyman is
employed to preach to such of the guests of the house as hail from
Good, isn't it? And then Peter is described as "argumenting in a threatening and angrily condition at Judas Iscariot."
This paragraph recalls the picture. "The Last Supper" is painted on the dilapidated wall of what was a little chapel attached to the main church in ancient times, I suppose. It is battered and scarred in every direction, and stained and discolored by time, and Napoleon's horses kicked the legs off most the disciples when they (the horses, not the disciples,) were stabled there more than half a century ago.
I recognized the old picture in a moment--the Saviour with bowed head seated at the centre of a long, rough table with scattering fruits and dishes upon it, and six disciples on either side in their long robes, talking to each other--the picture from which all engravings and all copies have been made for three centuries. Perhaps no living man has ever known an attempt to paint the Lord's Supper differently. The world seems to have become settled in the belief, long ago, that it is not possible for human genius to outdo this creation of da Vinci's. I suppose painters will go on copying it as long as any of the original is left visible to the eye. There were a dozen easels in the room, and as many artists transferring the great picture to their canvases. Fifty proofs of steel engravings and lithographs were scattered around, too. And as usual, I could not help noticing how superior the copies were to the original, that is, to my inexperienced eye. Wherever you find a Raphael, a Rubens, a Michelangelo, a Carracci, or a da Vinci (and we see them every day,) you find artists copying them, and the copies are always the handsomest. Maybe the originals were handsome when they were new, but they are not now.
This picture is about thirty feet long, and ten or twelve
high, I should think, and the figures are at least life size. It is one of the largest paintings in
The colors are dimmed with age; the countenances are scaled and marred, and nearly all expression is gone from them; the hair is a dead blur upon the wall, and there is no life in the eyes. Only the attitudes are certain.
People come here from all parts of the world, and glorify this masterpiece. They stand entranced before it with bated breath and parted lips, and when they speak, it is only in the catchy ejaculations of rapture:
"Such grace of attitude!"
"Such faultless drawing!"
"Such matchless coloring!"
"What delicacy of touch!"
"What sublimity of conception!"
"A vision! A vision!"
I only envy these people; I envy them their honest admiration, if it be honest--their delight, if they feel delight. I harbor no animosity toward any of them. But at the same time the thought will intrude itself upon me, How can they see what is not visible? What would you think of a man who looked at some decayed, blind, toothless, pock-marked Cleopatra, and said: "What matchless beauty! What soul! What expression!" What would you think of a man who gazed upon a dingy, foggy sunset, and said: "What sublimity! What feeling! What richness of coloring!" What would you think of a man who stared in ecstasy upon a desert of stumps and said: "Oh, my soul, my beating heart, what a noble forest is here!"
You would think that those men had an astonishing talent for seeing things that had already passed away. It was what I thought when I stood before "The Last Supper" and heard men apostrophizing wonders, and beauties and perfections which had faded out of the picture and gone, a hundred years before they were born. We can imagine the beauty that was once in an aged face; we can imagine the forest if we see the stumps; but we can not absolutely see these things when they are not there. I am willing to believe that the eye of the practiced artist can rest upon the Last Supper and renew a lustre where only a hint of it is left, supply a tint that has faded away, restore an expression that is gone; patch, and color, and add, to the dull canvas until at last its figures shall stand before him aglow with the life, the feeling, the freshness, yea, with all the noble beauty that was theirs when first they came from the hand of the master. But I can not work this miracle. Can those other uninspired visitors do it, or do they only happily imagine they do?
After reading so much about it, I am satisfied that the Last Supper was a very miracle of art once. But it was three hundred years ago.
It vexes me to hear people talk so glibly of "feeling," "expression," "tone," and those other easily acquired and inexpensive technicalities of art that make such a fine show in conversations concerning pictures. There is not one man in seventy-five hundred that can tell what a pictured face is intended to express. There is not one man in five hundred that can go into a court-room and be sure that he will not mistake some harmless innocent of a juryman for the black-hearted assassin on trial. Yet such people talk of "character" and presume to interpret "expression" in pictures. There is an old story that Matthews, the actor, was once lauding the ability of the human face to express the passions and emotions hidden in the breast. He said the countenance could disclose what was passing in the heart plainer than the tongue could.
"Now," he said, "observe my face--what does it express?"
"Bah, it expresses peaceful resignation! What does this express?"
"Stuff! It means terror! This!"
"Fool! It is smothered ferocity! Now this!"
"Oh, perdition! Any ass can see it means insanity!"
coolly pretend to read it who would think themselves presumptuous if they
pretended to interpret the hieroglyphics on the obelisks of
"Oh, the Virgin's face is full of the ecstasy of a joy that is complete --that leaves nothing more to be desired on earth!"
The other said:
"Ah, that wonderful face is so humble, so pleading--it says as plainly as words could say it: 'I fear; I tremble; I am unworthy. But Thy will be done; sustain Thou Thy servant!'"
The reader can see the picture in any drawing-room; it can be easily recognized: the Virgin (the only young and really beautiful Virgin that was ever painted by one of the old masters, some of us think,) stands in the crescent of the new moon, with a multitude of cherubs hovering about her, and more coming; her hands are crossed upon her breast, and upon her uplifted countenance falls a glory out of the heavens. The reader may amuse himself, if he chooses, in trying to determine which of these gentlemen read the Virgin's "expression" aright, or if either of them did it.
Any one who is acquainted with the old masters will
comprehend how much "The Last Supper" is damaged when I say that the
spectator can not really tell, now, whether the disciples are Hebrews or
Italians. These ancient painters never
succeeded in denationalizing themselves.
The Italian artists painted Italian Virgins, the Dutch painted Dutch
Virgins, the Virgins of the French painters were Frenchwomen--none of them ever
put into the face of the Madonna that indescribable something which proclaims
the Jewess, whether you find her in New York, in Constantinople, in Paris,
Jerusalem, or in the empire of Morocco.
I saw in the
We took an open barouche and drove two miles out of
We enjoyed our jaunt. It was an exhilarating relief from tiresome sight-seeing.
We distressed ourselves very little about the astonishing echo the guide talked so much about. We were growing accustomed to encomiums on wonders that too often proved no wonders at all. And so we were most happily disappointed to find in the sequel that the guide had even failed to rise to the magnitude of his subject.
We arrived at a tumble-down old rookery called the Palazzo Simonetti--a massive hewn-stone affair occupied by a family of ragged Italians. A good-looking young girl conducted us to a window on the second floor which looked out on a court walled on three sides by tall buildings. She put her head out at the window and shouted. The echo answered more times than we could count. She took a speaking trumpet and through it she shouted, sharp and quick, a single "Ha!" The echo answered:
"Ha!--ha!----ha!--ha!--ha!-ha! ha! h-a-a-a-a-a!" and finally went off into a rollicking convulsion of the jolliest laughter that could be imagined. It was so joyful--so long continued--so perfectly cordial and hearty, that every body was forced to join in. There was no resisting it.
Then the girl took a gun and fired it. We stood ready to count the astonishing clatter of reverberations. We could not say one, two, three, fast enough, but we could dot our notebooks with our pencil points almost rapidly enough to take down a sort of short-hand report of the result. My page revealed the following account. I could not keep up, but I did as well as I could.
I set down fifty-two distinct repetitions, and then the echo got the advantage of me. The doctor set down sixty-four, and thenceforth the echo moved too fast for him, also. After the separate concussions could no longer be noted, the reverberations dwindled to a wild, long-sustained clatter of sounds such as a watchman's rattle produces. It is likely that this is the most remarkable echo in the world.
The doctor, in jest, offered to kiss the young girl, and was taken a little aback when she said he might for a franc! The commonest gallantry compelled him to stand by his offer, and so he paid the franc and took the kiss. She was a philosopher. She said a franc was a good thing to have, and she did not care any thing for one paltry kiss, because she had a million left. Then our comrade, always a shrewd businessman, offered to take the whole cargo at thirty days, but that little financial scheme was a failure.
We passed through a range of wild, picturesque hills, steep,
wooded, cone-shaped, with rugged crags projecting here and there, and with
dwellings and ruinous castles perched away up toward the drifting clouds. We
lunched at the curious old town of
When we walked ashore, a party of policemen (people whose
cocked hats and showy uniforms would shame the finest uniform in the military
service of the
We were there five minutes, and when we got out it was hard to tell which of us carried the vilest fragrance.
These miserable outcasts called that "fumigating" us, and the term was a tame one indeed. They fumigated us to guard themselves against the cholera, though we hailed from no infected port. We had left the cholera far behind us all the time. However, they must keep epidemics away somehow or other, and fumigation is cheaper than soap. They must either wash themselves or fumigate other people. Some of the lower classes had rather die than wash, but the fumigation of strangers causes them no pangs. They need no fumigation themselves. Their habits make it unnecessary. They carry their preventive with them; they sweat and fumigate all the day long. I trust I am a humble and a consistent Christian. I try to do what is right. I know it is my duty to "pray for them that despitefully use me;" and therefore, hard as it is, I shall still try to pray for these fumigating, maccaroni-stuffing organ-grinders.
Our hotel sits at the water's edge--at least its front
garden does--and we walk among the shrubbery and smoke at twilight; we look
afar off at Switzerland and the Alps, and feel an indolent willingness to look
no closer; we go down the steps and swim in the lake; we take a shapely little
boat and sail abroad among the reflections of the stars; lie on the thwarts and
listen to the distant laughter, the singing, the soft melody of flutes and
guitars that comes floating across the water from pleasuring gondolas; we close
the evening with exasperating billiards on one of those same old execrable
tables. A midnight luncheon in our ample
bed-chamber; a final smoke in its contracted veranda facing the water, the
gardens, and the mountains; a summing up of the day's events. Then to bed, with drowsy brains harassed with
a mad panorama that mixes up pictures of
After which, the nightmare.
Breakfast in the morning, and then the lake.
I did not like it yesterday.
Again, for miles along the shores, handsome country seats, surrounded by gardens and groves, sit fairly in the water, sometimes in nooks carved by Nature out of the vine-hung precipices, and with no ingress or egress save by boats. Some have great broad stone staircases leading down to the water, with heavy stone balustrades ornamented with statuary and fancifully adorned with creeping vines and bright-colored flowers--for all the world like a drop curtain in a theatre, and lacking nothing but long-waisted, high-heeled women and plumed gallants in silken tights coming down to go serenading in the splendid gondola in waiting.
A great feature of
From my window here in Bellaggio, I have a view of the other side of the lake now, which is as beautiful as a picture. A scarred and wrinkled precipice rises to a height of eighteen hundred feet; on a tiny bench half way up its vast wall, sits a little snowflake of a church, no bigger than a martin-box, apparently; skirting the base of the cliff are a hundred orange groves and gardens, flecked with glimpses of the white dwellings that are buried in them; in front, three or four gondolas lie idle upon the water--and in the burnished mirror of the lake, mountain, chapel, houses, groves and boats are counterfeited so brightly and so clearly that one scarce knows where the reality leaves off and the reflection begins!
The surroundings of this picture are fine. A mile away, a grove-plumed promontory juts far into the lake and glasses its palace in the blue depths; in midstream a boat is cutting the shining surface and leaving a long track behind, like a ray of light; the mountains beyond are veiled in a dreamy purple haze; far in the opposite direction a tumbled mass of domes and verdant slopes and valleys bars the lake, and here indeed does distance lend enchantment to the view--for on this broad canvas, sun and clouds and the richest of atmospheres have blended a thousand tints together, and over its surface the filmy lights and shadows drift, hour after hour, and glorify it with a beauty that seems reflected out of Heaven itself. Beyond all question, this is the most voluptuous scene we have yet looked upon.
Last night the scenery was striking and picturesque. On the other side crags and trees and snowy houses were reflected in the lake with a wonderful distinctness, and streams of light from many a distant window shot far abroad over the still waters. On this side, near at hand, great mansions, white with moonlight, glared out from the midst of masses of foliage that lay black and shapeless in the shadows that fell from the cliff above--and down in the margin of the lake every feature of the weird vision was faithfully repeated.
Today we have idled through a wonder of a garden attached to a ducal estate--but enough of description is enough, I judge.
I suspect that this was the same place the gardener's son deceived the Lady of Lyons with, but I do not know. You may have heard of the passage somewhere:
"A deep vale,
Shut out by Alpine hills from the rude world,
Near a clear lake margined by fruits of gold
And whispering myrtles:
Glassing softest skies, cloudless,
Save with rare and roseate shadows;
A palace, lifting to eternal heaven its marbled walls,
From out a glossy bower of coolest foliage musical with birds."
That is all very well, except the "clear" part of
the lake. It certainly is clearer than a
great many lakes, but how dull its waters are compared with the wonderful
As I go back in spirit and recall that noble sea, reposing among the snow-peaks six thousand feet above the ocean, the conviction comes strong upon me again that Como would only seem a bedizened little courtier in that august presence.
Sorrow and misfortune overtake the legislature that still from year to year permits Tahoe to retain its unmusical cognomen! Tahoe! It suggests no crystal waters, no picturesque shores, no sublimity. Tahoe for a sea in the clouds: a sea that has character and asserts it in solemn calms at times, at times in savage storms; a sea whose royal seclusion is guarded by a cordon of sentinel peaks that lift their frosty fronts nine thousand feet above the level world; a sea whose every aspect is impressive, whose belongings are all beautiful, whose lonely majesty types the Deity!
Tahoe means grasshoppers.
It means grasshopper soup. It is
Indian, and suggestive of Indians. They
say it is Pi-ute--possibly it is Digger. I am satisfied it was named by the
Diggers--those degraded savages who roast their dead relatives, then mix the
human grease and ashes of bones with tar, and "gaum" it thick all
over their heads and foreheads and ears, and go caterwauling about the hills
and call it mourning. These are the
gentry that named the
People say that Tahoe means "
But I am growing unreliable.
I will return to my comparison of the lakes.
It is cheerful to meet a shipmate in these out-of-the-way
places and compare notes with him. We
have found one of ours here--an old soldier of the war, who is seeking
bloodless adventures and rest from his campaigns in these sunny
lands.--[Colonel J. HERON FOSTER, editor
We voyaged by steamer down the Lago di Lecco, through wild
mountain scenery, and by hamlets and villas, and disembarked at the town of
We saw interior
Here and there, on the fronts of roadside inns, we found huge, coarse frescoes of suffering martyrs like those in the shrines. It could not have diminished their sufferings any to be so uncouthly represented. We were in the heart and home of priest craft--of a happy, cheerful, contented ignorance, superstition, degradation, poverty, indolence, and everlasting unaspiring worthlessness. And we said fervently: it suits these people precisely; let them enjoy it, along with the other animals, and Heaven forbid that they be molested. We feel no malice toward these fumigators.
We passed through the strangest, funniest, undreampt-of old towns, wedded to the customs and steeped in the dreams of the elder ages, and perfectly unaware that the world turns round! And perfectly indifferent, too, as to whether it turns around or stands still. They have nothing to do but eat and sleep and sleep and eat, and toil a little when they can get a friend to stand by and keep them awake. They are not paid for thinking --they are not paid to fret about the world's concerns. They were not respectable people--they were not worthy people--they were not learned and wise and brilliant people--but in their breasts, all their stupid lives long, resteth a peace that passeth understanding! How can men, calling themselves men, consent to be so degraded and happy.
We whisked by many a gray old medieval castle, clad thick with ivy that swung its green banners down from towers and turrets where once some old Crusader's flag had floated. The driver pointed to one of these ancient fortresses, and said, (I translate):
"Do you see that great iron hook that projects from the wall just under the highest window in the ruined tower?"
We said we could not see it at such a distance, but had no doubt it was there.
"Well," he said; "there is a legend connected with that iron hook. Nearly seven hundred years ago, that castle was the property of the noble Count Luigi Gennaro Guido Alphonso di Genova----"
"What was his other name?" said Dan.
"He had no other name. The name I have spoken was all the name he had. He was the son of----"
"Poor but honest parents--that is all right--never mind the particulars --go on with the legend."
Well, then, all the world, at that time, was in a wild
excitement about the Holy Sepulchre. All
the great feudal lords in
He made a raid on a neighboring baron and completed his outfit with the booty secured. He then razed the castle to the ground, massacred the family and moved on. They were hardy fellows in the grand old days of chivalry. Alas! Those days will never come again.
Count Luigi grew high in fame in
* * * * * * *
Forty-two years waxed and waned; the good fight was won;
Godfrey reigned in
Twilight was approaching. Fifty harlequins, in flowing robes, approached this castle wearily, for they were on foot, and the dust upon their garments betokened that they had traveled far. They overtook a peasant, and asked him if it were likely they could get food and a hospitable bed there, for love of Christian charity, and if perchance, a moral parlor entertainment might meet with generous countenance--"for," said they, "this exhibition hath no feature that could offend the most fastidious taste."
"Marry," quoth the peasant, "an' it please your worships, ye had better journey many a good rood hence with your juggling circus than trust your bones in yonder castle."
"How now, sirrah!" exclaimed the chief monk, "explain thy ribald speech, or by'r Lady it shall go hard with thee."
"Peace, good mountebank, I did but utter the truth that was in my heart. San Paolo be my witness that did ye but find the stout Count Leonardo in his cups, sheer from the castle's topmost battlements would he hurl ye all! Alack-a-day, the good Lord Luigi reigns not here in these sad times."
"The good Lord Luigi?"
"Aye, none other, please your worship. In his day, the poor rejoiced in plenty and
the rich he did oppress; taxes were not known, the fathers of the church waxed
fat upon his bounty; travelers went and came, with none to interfere; and
whosoever would, might tarry in his halls in cordial welcome, and eat his bread
and drink his wine, withal. But woe is
me! some two and forty years agone the good count rode hence to fight for Holy
Cross, and many a year hath flown since word or token have we had of him. Men say his bones lie bleaching in the fields
"Now! God 'a mercy, the cruel Leonardo lords it in the castle. He wrings taxes from the poor; he robs all travelers that journey by his gates; he spends his days in feuds and murders, and his nights in revel and debauch; he roasts the fathers of the church upon his kitchen spits, and enjoyeth the same, calling it pastime. These thirty years Luigi's countess hath not been seen by any [he] in all this land, and many whisper that she pines in the dungeons of the castle for that she will not wed with Leonardo, saying her dear lord still liveth and that she will die ere she prove false to him. They whisper likewise that her daughter is a prisoner as well. Nay, good jugglers, seek ye refreshment other wheres. 'Twere better that ye perished in a Christian way than that ye plunged from off yon dizzy tower. Give ye good-day."
"God keep ye, gentle knave--farewell."
But heedless of the peasant's warning, the players moved straightway toward the castle.
Word was brought to Count Leonardo that a company of mountebanks besought his hospitality.
"'Tis well. Dispose of them in the customary manner. Yet stay! I have need of them. Let them come hither. Later, cast them from the battlements--or--how many priests have ye on hand?"
"The day's results are meagre, good my lord. An abbot and a dozen beggarly friars is all we have."
"Hell and furies! Is the estate going to seed? Send hither the mountebanks. Afterward, broil them with the priests."
The robed and close-cowled harlequins entered. The grim Leonardo sate in state at the head of his council board. Ranged up and down the hall on either hand stood near a hundred men-at-arms.
"Ha, villains!" quoth the count, "What can ye do to earn the hospitality ye crave."
"Dread lord and mighty, crowded audiences have greeted our humble efforts with rapturous applause. Among our body count we the versatile and talented Ugolino; the justly celebrated Rodolpho; the gifted and accomplished Roderigo; the management have spared neither pains nor expense--"
"S'death! What can ye do? Curb thy prating tongue."
"Good my lord, in acrobatic feats, in practice with the dumb-bells, in balancing and ground and lofty tumbling are we versed--and sith your highness asketh me, I venture here to publish that in the truly marvelous and entertaining Zampillaerostation--"
"Gag him! throttle him! Body of Bacchus! am I a dog that I am to be assailed with polysyllabled blasphemy like to this? But hold! Lucretia, Isabel, stand forth! Sirrah, behold this dame, this weeping wench. The first I marry, within the hour; the other shall dry her tears or feed the vultures. Thou and thy vagabonds shall crown the wedding with thy merry-makings. Fetch hither the priest!"
The dame sprang toward the chief player.
"O, save me!"
she cried; "save me from a fate far worse than death! Behold these
sad eyes, these sunken cheeks, this withered frame! See thou the wreck this fiend hath made, and
let thy heart be moved with pity! Look
upon this damosel; note her wasted form, her halting step, her bloomless cheeks
where youth should blush and happiness exult in smiles! Hear us and have compassion. This monster was my husband's brother. He who should have been our shield against
all harm, hath kept us shut within the noisome caverns of his donjon-keep for
lo these thirty years. And for what
crime? None other than that I would not
belie my troth, root out my strong love for him who marches with the legions of
the cross in
She flung herself at his feet and clasped his knees.
"Ha!-ha!-ha!" shouted the brutal Leonardo. "Priest, to thy work!" and he dragged the weeping dame from her refuge. "Say, once for all, will you be mine?--for by my halidome, that breath that uttereth thy refusal shall be thy last on earth!"
"Then die!" and the sword leaped from its scabbard.
Quicker than thought, quicker than the lightning's flash, fifty monkish habits disappeared, and fifty knights in splendid armor stood revealed! fifty falchions gleamed in air above the men-at-arms, and brighter, fiercer than them all, flamed Excalibur aloft, and cleaving downward struck the brutal Leonardo's weapon from his grasp!
"A Luigi to the rescue! Whoop!"
"A Leonardo! 'tare an ouns!'"
"Oh, God, Oh, God, my husband!"
"Oh, God, Oh, God, my wife!"
"My precious!" [Tableau.]
Count Luigi bound his usurping brother hand and foot. The practiced knights from
"But what did they do with the wicked brother?"
"Oh nothing--only hanged him on that iron hook I was speaking of. By the chin."
"Passed it up through his gills into his mouth."
"Leave him there?"
"Couple of years."
"Ah--is--is he dead?"
"Six hundred and fifty years ago, or such a matter."
"Splendid legend--splendid lie--drive on."
We reached the quaint old fortified city of
Rested and refreshed, we took the rail happy and
contented. I shall not tarry to speak of
the handsome Lago di Gardi; its stately castle that holds in its stony bosom
the secrets of an age so remote that even tradition goeth not back to it; the imposing
mountain scenery that ennobles the landscape thereabouts; nor yet of ancient
Padua or haughty Verona; nor of their Montagues and Capulets, their famous
balconies and tombs of Juliet and Romeo et al., but hurry straight to the
ancient city of the sea, the widowed bride of the Adriatic. It was a long, long ride. But toward evening,
as we sat silent and hardly conscious of where we were--subdued into that
meditative calm that comes so surely after a conversational storm--some one
And sure enough, afloat on the placid sea a league away, lay a great city, with its towers and domes and steeples drowsing in a golden mist of sunset.
This Venice, which was a haughty, invincible, magnificent
Republic for nearly fourteen hundred years; whose armies compelled the world's
applause whenever and wherever they battled; whose navies well nigh held
dominion of the seas, and whose merchant fleets whitened the remotest oceans
with their sails and loaded these piers with the products of every clime, is
fallen a prey to poverty, neglect and melancholy decay. Six hundred years ago,
The venerable Mother of the Republics is scarce a fit subject for flippant speech or the idle gossipping of tourists. It seems a sort of sacrilege to disturb the glamour of old romance that pictures her to us softly from afar off as through a tinted mist, and curtains her ruin and her desolation from our view. One ought, indeed, to turn away from her rags, her poverty and her humiliation, and think of her only as she was when she sunk the fleets of Charlemagne; when she humbled Frederick Barbarossa or waved her victorious banners above the battlements of Constantinople.
"Now, here, Roderigo Gonzales Michael Angelo, I'm a
pilgrim, and I'm a stranger, but I am not going to have my feelings lacerated
by any such caterwauling as that. If
that goes on, one of us has got to take water. It is enough that my cherished
I began to feel that the old
It was a beautiful picture--very soft and dreamy and
beautiful. But what was this
There was music every where--choruses, string bands, brass bands, flutes, every thing. I was so surrounded, walled in, with music, magnificence and loveliness, that I became inspired with the spirit of the scene, and sang one tune myself. However, when I observed that the other gondolas had sailed away, and my gondolier was preparing to go overboard, I stopped.
The fete was magnificent. They kept it up the whole night long, and I never enjoyed myself better than I did while it lasted.
What a funny old city this Queen of the
For a day or two the place looked so like an overflowed Arkansas town, because of its currentless waters laving the very doorsteps of all the houses, and the cluster of boats made fast under the windows, or skimming in and out of the alleys and by-ways, that I could not get rid of the impression that there was nothing the matter here but a spring freshet, and that the river would fall in a few weeks and leave a dirty high-water mark on the houses, and the streets full of mud and rubbish.
In the glare of day, there is little poetry about
"There is a glorious city in the sea;
The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing; and the salt-sea weed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates! The path lies o'er the sea,
Invisible: and from the land we went,
As to a floating city--steering in,
And gliding up her streets, as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently--by many a dome,
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
The statues ranged along an azure sky;
By many a pile, in more than Eastern pride,
Of old the residence of merchant kings;
The fronts of some, tho' time had shatter'd them,
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As tho' the wealth within them had run o'er."
What would one naturally wish to see first in
We intended to go to the
At the head of the Giant's Staircase, where Marino Faliero
was beheaded, and where the Doges were crowned in ancient times, two small
slits in the stone wall were pointed out--two harmless, insignificant orifices
that would never attract a stranger's attention--yet these were the terrible
Lions' Mouths! The heads were gone
(knocked off by the French during their occupation of Venice,) but these were
the throats, down which went the anonymous accusation, thrust in secretly at
dead of night by an enemy, that doomed many an innocent man to walk the Bridge
of Sighs and descend into the dungeon which none entered and hoped to see the
sun again. This was in the old days when
the Patricians alone governed
We walked through the hall of the Council of Ten, and presently entered the infernal den of the Council of Three.
The table around which they had sat was there still, and likewise the stations where the masked inquisitors and executioners formerly stood, frozen, upright and silent, till they received a bloody order, and then, without a word, moved off like the inexorable machines they were, to carry it out. The frescoes on the walls were startlingly suited to the place. In all the other saloons, the halls, the great state chambers of the palace, the walls and ceilings were bright with gilding, rich with elaborate carving, and resplendent with gallant pictures of Venetian victories in war, and Venetian display in foreign courts, and hallowed with portraits of the Virgin, the Saviour of men, and the holy saints that preached the Gospel of Peace upon earth--but here, in dismal contrast, were none but pictures of death and dreadful suffering!--not a living figure but was writhing in torture, not a dead one but was smeared with blood, gashed with wounds, and distorted with the agonies that had taken away its life!
From the palace to the gloomy prison is but a step--one
might almost jump across the narrow canal that intervenes. The ponderous stone
In a little narrow corridor, near by, they showed us where many a prisoner, after lying in the dungeons until he was forgotten by all save his persecutors, was brought by masked executioners and garroted, or sewed up in a sack, passed through a little window to a boat, at dead of night, and taken to some remote spot and drowned.
They used to show to visitors the implements of torture wherewith the Three were wont to worm secrets out of the accused--villainous machines for crushing thumbs; the stocks where a prisoner sat immovable while water fell drop by drop upon his head till the torture was more than humanity could bear; and a devilish contrivance of steel, which inclosed a prisoner's head like a shell, and crushed it slowly by means of a screw. It bore the stains of blood that had trickled through its joints long ago, and on one side it had a projection whereon the torturer rested his elbow comfortably and bent down his ear to catch the moanings of the sufferer perishing within.
Of course we went to see the venerable relic of the ancient
Under the altar repose the ashes of St. Mark--and Matthew,
Luke and John, too, for all I know.
St. Mark died at
The Venetian gondola is as free and graceful, in its gliding movement, as a serpent. It is twenty or thirty feet long, and is narrow and deep, like a canoe; its sharp bow and stern sweep upward from the water like the horns of a crescent with the abruptness of the curve slightly modified.
The bow is ornamented with a steel comb with a battle-ax
attachment which threatens to cut passing boats in two occasionally, but never
does. The gondola is painted black
because in the zenith of Venetian magnificence the gondolas became too gorgeous
altogether, and the Senate decreed that all such display must cease, and a solemn,
unembellished black be substituted. If
the truth were known, it would doubtless appear that rich plebeians grew too
prominent in their affectation of patrician show on the
Sometimes we go flying down the great canals at such a gait that we can get only the merest glimpses into front doors, and again, in obscure alleys in the suburbs, we put on a solemnity suited to the silence, the mildew, the stagnant waters, the clinging weeds, the deserted houses and the general lifelessness of the place, and move to the spirit of grave meditation.
The gondolier is a picturesque rascal for all he wears no satin harness, no plumed bonnet, no silken tights. His attitude is stately; he is lithe and supple; all his movements are full of grace. When his long canoe, and his fine figure, towering from its high perch on the stern, are cut against the evening sky, they make a picture that is very novel and striking to a foreign eye.
We sit in the cushioned carriage-body of a cabin, with the curtains drawn, and smoke, or read, or look out upon the passing boats, the houses, the bridges, the people, and enjoy ourselves much more than we could in a buggy jolting over our cobble-stone pavements at home. This is the gentlest, pleasantest locomotion we have ever known.
But it seems queer--ever so queer--to see a boat doing duty as a private carriage. We see business men come to the front door, step into a gondola, instead of a street car, and go off down town to the counting-room.
We see visiting young ladies stand on the stoop, and laugh, and kiss good-bye, and flirt their fans and say "Come soon--now do--you've been just as mean as ever you can be--mother's dying to see you--and we've moved into the new house, O such a love of a place!--so convenient to the post office and the church, and the Young Men's Christian Association; and we do have such fishing, and such carrying on, and such swimming-matches in the back yard--Oh, you must come--no distance at all, and if you go down through by St. Mark's and the Bridge of Sighs, and cut through the alley and come up by the church of Santa Maria dei Frari, and into the Grand Canal, there isn't a bit of current--now do come, Sally Maria--by-bye!" and then the little humbug trips down the steps, jumps into the gondola, says, under her breath, "Disagreeable old thing, I hope she won't!" goes skimming away, round the corner; and the other girl slams the street door and says, "Well, that infliction's over, any way, --but I suppose I've got to go and see her--tiresome stuck-up thing!" Human nature appears to be just the same, all over the world. We see the diffident young man, mild of moustache, affluent of hair, indigent of brain, elegant of costume, drive up to her father's mansion, tell his hackman to bail out and wait, start fearfully up the steps and meet "the old gentleman" right on the threshold!--hear him ask what street the new British Bank is in--as if that were what he came for--and then bounce into his boat and skurry away with his coward heart in his boots!--see him come sneaking around the corner again, directly, with a crack of the curtain open toward the old gentleman's disappearing gondola, and out scampers his Susan with a flock of little Italian endearments fluttering from her lips, and goes to drive with him in the watery avenues down toward the Rialto.
We see the ladies go out shopping, in the most natural way, and flit from street to street and from store to store, just in the good old fashion, except that they leave the gondola, instead of a private carriage, waiting at the curbstone a couple of hours for them,--waiting while they make the nice young clerks pull down tons and tons of silks and velvets and moire antiques and those things; and then they buy a paper of pins and go paddling away to confer the rest of their disastrous patronage on some other firm. And they always have their purchases sent home just in the good old way. Human nature is very much the same all over the world; and it is so like my dear native home to see a Venetian lady go into a store and buy ten cents' worth of blue ribbon and have it sent home in a scow. Ah, it is these little touches of nature that move one to tears in these far-off foreign lands.
We see little girls and boys go out in gondolas with their
nurses, for an airing. We see staid
families, with prayer-book and beads, enter the gondola dressed in their Sunday
best, and float away to church. And at
midnight we see the theatre break up and discharge its swarm of hilarious youth
and beauty; we hear the cries of the hackman-gondoliers, and behold the
struggling crowd jump aboard, and the black multitude of boats go skimming down
the moonlit avenues; we see them separate here and there, and disappear up
divergent streets; we hear the faint sounds of laughter and of shouted
farewells floating up out of the distance; and then, the strange pageant being
gone, we have lonely stretches of glittering water --of stately buildings--of
blotting shadows--of weird stone faces creeping into the moonlight--of deserted
bridges--of motionless boats at anchor.
And over all broods that mysterious stillness, that stealthy quiet, that
befits so well this old dreaming
We have been pretty much every where in our gondola. We have bought beads and photographs in the stores, and wax matches in the Great Square of St. Mark. The last remark suggests a digression. Every body goes to this vast square in the evening. The military bands play in the centre of it and countless couples of ladies and gentlemen promenade up and down on either side, and platoons of them are constantly drifting away toward the old Cathedral, and by the venerable column with the Winged Lion of St. Mark on its top, and out to where the boats lie moored; and other platoons are as constantly arriving from the gondolas and joining the great throng. Between the promenaders and the side-walks are seated hundreds and hundreds of people at small tables, smoking and taking granita, (a first cousin to ice-cream;) on the side-walks are more employing themselves in the same way. The shops in the first floor of the tall rows of buildings that wall in three sides of the square are brilliantly lighted, the air is filled with music and merry voices, and altogether the scene is as bright and spirited and full of cheerfulness as any man could desire. We enjoy it thoroughly. Very many of the young women are exceedingly pretty and dress with rare good taste. We are gradually and laboriously learning the ill-manners of staring them unflinchingly in the face--not because such conduct is agreeable to us, but because it is the custom of the country and they say the girls like it. We wish to learn all the curious, outlandish ways of all the different countries, so that we can "show off" and astonish people when we get home. We wish to excite the envy of our untraveled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can't shake off. All our passengers are paying strict attention to this thing, with the end in view which I have mentioned. The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother. I shall always delight to meet an ass after my own heart when I shall have finished my travels.
On this subject let me remark that there are Americans
"John P. Whitcomb, Etats Unis. "Wm. L. Ainsworth, travailleur (he
meant traveler, I suppose,) Etats Unis. "George P. Morton et fils,
d'Amerique. "Lloyd B. Williams, et trois amis, ville de
Amerique. "J. Ellsworth Baker, tout de suite de France, place de
naissance Amerique, destination la Grand Bretagne."
I love this sort of people.
A lady passenger of ours tells of a fellow-citizen of hers who spent
eight weeks in
Think of our Whitcombs, and our Ainsworths and our Williamses writing themselves down in dilapidated French in foreign hotel registers! We laugh at Englishmen, when we are at home, for sticking so sturdily to their national ways and customs, but we look back upon it from abroad very forgivingly. It is not pleasant to see an American thrusting his nationality forward obtrusively in a foreign land, but Oh, it is pitiable to see him making of himself a thing that is neither male nor female, neither fish, flesh, nor fowl--a poor, miserable, hermaphrodite Frenchman!
Among a long list of churches, art galleries, and such
things, visited by us in
In this church, also, is a monument to the doge Foscari,
whose name a once resident of
The monument to the doge Giovanni Pesaro, in this church, is a curiosity in the way of mortuary adornment. It is eighty feet high and is fronted like some fantastic pagan temple. Against it stand four colossal Nubians, as black as night, dressed in white marble garments. The black legs are bare, and through rents in sleeves and breeches, the skin, of shiny black marble, shows. The artist was as ingenious as his funeral designs were absurd. There are two bronze skeletons bearing scrolls, and two great dragons uphold the sarcophagus. On high, amid all this grotesqueness, sits the departed doge.
In the conventual buildings attached to this church are the
state archives of
Yes, I think we have seen all of
We have seen famous pictures until our eyes are weary with
looking at them and refuse to find interest in them any longer. And what wonder, when there are twelve
hundred pictures by
But humble as we are, and unpretending, in the matter of
art, our researches among the painted monks and martyrs have not been wholly in
vain. We have striven hard to
learn. We have had some success. We have mastered some things, possibly of
trifling import in the eyes of the learned, but to us they give pleasure, and
we take as much pride in our little acquirements as do others who have learned
far more, and we love to display them full as well. When we see a monk going about with a lion
and looking tranquilly up to heaven, we know that that is St. Mark. When we see a monk with a book and a pen,
looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know that that
is St. Matthew. When we see a monk
sitting on a rock, looking tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside
him, and without other baggage, we know that that is
Now it does give me real pain to speak in this almost
unappreciative way of the old masters and their martyrs, because good friends
of mine in the ship--friends who do thoroughly and conscientiously appreciate
them and are in every way competent to discriminate between good pictures and
inferior ones--have urged me for my own sake not to make public the fact that I
lack this appreciation and this critical discrimination myself. I believe that what I have written and may
still write about pictures will give them pain, and I am honestly sorry for
it. I even promised that I would hide my
uncouth sentiments in my own breast. But
alas! I never could keep a promise. I do not blame myself for this weakness,
because the fault must lie in my physical organization. It is likely that such a very liberal amount
of space was given to the organ which enables me to make promises, that the
organ which should enable me to keep them was crowded out. But I grieve not. I like no half-way things. I had rather have one faculty nobly developed
than two faculties of mere ordinary capacity.
I certainly meant to keep that promise, but I find I can not do it. It is impossible to travel through
If I did not so delight in the grand pictures that are spread before me every day of my life by that monarch of all the old masters, Nature, I should come to believe, sometimes, that I had in me no appreciation of the beautiful, whatsoever.
It seems to me that whenever I glory to think that for once
I have discovered an ancient painting that is beautiful and worthy of all
praise, the pleasure it gives me is an infallible proof that it is not a
beautiful picture and not in any wise worthy of commendation. This very thing has occurred more times than
I can mention, in
"It is nothing--it is of the Renaissance."
I did not know what in the mischief the Renaissance was, and so always I had to simply say,
"Ah! so it is--I had not observed it before."
I could not bear to be ignorant before a cultivated negro,
the offspring of a
"Who is this Renaissance? Where did he come from? Who gave him permission to cram the Republic with his execrable daubs?"
We learned, then, that Renaissance was not a man; that renaissance was a term used to signify what was at best but an imperfect rejuvenation of art. The guide said that after Titian's time and the time of the other great names we had grown so familiar with, high art declined; then it partially rose again--an inferior sort of painters sprang up, and these shabby pictures were the work of their hands. Then I said, in my heat, that I "wished to goodness high art had declined five hundred years sooner." The Renaissance pictures suit me very well, though sooth to say its school were too much given to painting real men and did not indulge enough in martyrs.
The guide I have spoken of is the only one we have had yet
who knew any thing. He was born in
I have had another shave.
I was writing in our front room this afternoon and trying hard to keep
my attention on my work and refrain from looking out upon the canal. I was resisting the soft influences of the
climate as well as I could, and endeavoring to overcome the desire to be
indolent and happy. The boys sent for a
barber. They asked me if I would be
shaved. I reminded them of my tortures
I wrote on. The barber began on the doctor. I heard him say:
"Dan, this is the easiest shave I have had since we left the ship."
He said again, presently:
"Why Dan, a man could go to sleep with this man shaving him."
Dan took the chair. Then he said:
"Why this is Titian. This is one of the old masters."
I wrote on. Directly Dan said:
"Doctor, it is perfect luxury. The ship's barber isn't any thing to him."
My rough beard wee distressing me beyond measure. The barber was rolling up his apparatus. The temptation was too strong. I said:
"Hold on, please. Shave me also."
I sat down in the chair and closed my eyes. The barber soaped my face, and then took his razor and gave me a rake that well nigh threw me into convulsions. I jumped out of the chair: Dan and the doctor were both wiping blood off their faces and laughing.
I said it was a mean, disgraceful fraud.
They said that the misery of this shave had gone so far beyond any thing they had ever experienced before, that they could not bear the idea of losing such a chance of hearing a cordial opinion from me on the subject.
It was shameful. But there was no help for it. The skinning was begun and had to be finished. The tears flowed with every rake, and so did the fervent execrations. The barber grew confused, and brought blood every time. I think the boys enjoyed it better than any thing they have seen or heard since they left home.
We have seen the Campanile, and Byron's house and Balbi's
the geographer, and the palaces of all the ancient dukes and doges of Venice,
and we have seen their effeminate descendants airing their nobility in
fashionable French attire in the Grand Square of St. Mark, and eating ices and
drinking cheap wines, instead of wearing gallant coats of mail and destroying
fleets and armies as their great ancestors did in the days of Venetian
glory. We have seen no bravoes with
poisoned stilettos, no masks, no wild carnival; but we have seen the ancient
And so, having satisfied ourselves, we depart to-morrow, and leave the venerable Queen of the Republics to summon her vanished ships, and marshal her shadowy armies, and know again in dreams the pride of her old renown.
Some of the
We were a little fatigued with sight seeing, and so we
rattled through a good deal of country by rail without caring to stop. I took few notes. I find no mention of
These artists will take particles of stone or glass no larger than a mustard seed, and piece them together on a sleeve button or a shirt stud, so smoothly and with such nice adjustment of the delicate shades of color the pieces bear, as to form a pigmy rose with stem, thorn, leaves, petals complete, and all as softly and as truthfully tinted as though Nature had builded it herself. They will counterfeit a fly, or a high-toned bug, or the ruined Coliseum, within the cramped circle of a breastpin, and do it so deftly and so neatly that any man might think a master painted it.
I saw a little table in the great mosaic school in Florence--a little trifle of a centre table--whose top was made of some sort of precious polished stone, and in the stone was inlaid the figure of a flute, with bell-mouth and a mazy complication of keys. No painting in the world could have been softer or richer; no shading out of one tint into another could have been more perfect; no work of art of any kind could have been more faultless than this flute, and yet to count the multitude of little fragments of stone of which they swore it was formed would bankrupt any man's arithmetic! I do not think one could have seen where two particles joined each other with eyes of ordinary shrewdness. Certainly we could detect no such blemish. This table-top cost the labor of one man for ten long years, so they said, and it was for sale for thirty-five thousand dollars.
We went to the Church of Santa Croce, from time to time, in
Florence, to weep over the tombs of Michael Angelo, Raphael and Machiavelli, (I
suppose they are buried there, but it may be that they reside elsewhere and
rent their tombs to other parties--such being the fashion in Italy,) and between
times we used to go and stand on the bridges and admire the Arno. It is popular to admire the
How the fatigues and annoyances of travel fill one with
bitter prejudices sometimes! I might
It was all the Italian I knew, and I was not certain whether that was Italian or French. The soldiers looked stupidly at each other and at me, and shook their heads and took me into custody. I said I wanted to go home. They did not understand me. They took me into the guard-house and searched me, but they found no sedition on me. They found a small piece of soap (we carry soap with us, now,) and I made them a present of it, seeing that they regarded it as a curiosity. I continued to say Hotel d'Europe, and they continued to shake their heads, until at last a young soldier nodding in the corner roused up and said something. He said he knew where the hotel was, I suppose, for the officer of the guard sent him away with me. We walked a hundred or a hundred and fifty miles, it appeared to me, and then he got lost. He turned this way and that, and finally gave it up and signified that he was going to spend the remainder of the morning trying to find the city gate again. At that moment it struck me that there was something familiar about the house over the way. It was the hotel!
It was a happy thing for me that there happened to be a
soldier there that knew even as much as he did; for they say that the policy of
the government is to change the soldiery from one place to another constantly
and from country to city, so that they can not become acquainted with the
people and grow lax in their duties and enter into plots and conspiracies with
friends. My experiences of
The Duomo, close at hand, is one of the finest cathedrals in
The Baptistery, which is a few years older than the
This Baptistery is endowed with the most pleasing echo of all the echoes we have read of. The guide sounded two sonorous notes, about half an octave apart; the echo answered with the most enchanting, the most melodious, the richest blending of sweet sounds that one can imagine. It was like a long-drawn chord of a church organ, infinitely softened by distance. I may be extravagant in this matter, but if this be the case my ear is to blame--not my pen. I am describing a memory--and one that will remain long with me.
The peculiar devotional spirit of the olden time, which placed
a higher confidence in outward forms of worship than in the watchful guarding
of the heart against sinful thoughts and the hands against sinful deeds, and
which believed in the protecting virtues of inanimate objects made holy by
contact with holy things, is illustrated in a striking manner in one of the
cemeteries of Pisa. The tombs are set in
soil brought in ships from the
We felt as though we had been away from home an age. We never entirely appreciated, before, what a
very pleasant den our state-room is; nor how jolly it is to sit at dinner in
one's own seat in one's own cabin, and hold familiar conversation with friends
in one's own language. Oh, the rare
happiness of comprehending every single word that is said, and knowing that
every word one says in return will be understood as well! We would talk ourselves
to death, now, only there are only about ten passengers out of the sixty-five
to talk to. The others are wandering, we
hardly know where. We shall not go
The stupid magnates of this
It is said that we shall probably be quarantined at
There are a good many things about this
As for the railways--we have none like them. The cars slide as smoothly along as if they were on runners. The depots are vast palaces of cut marble, with stately colonnades of the same royal stone traversing them from end to end, and with ample walls and ceilings richly decorated with frescoes. The lofty gateways are graced with statues, and the broad floors are all laid in polished flags of marble.
These things win me more than
But it is an ill-wind that blows nobody good. A year ago, when Italy saw utter ruin staring
her in the face and her greenbacks hardly worth the paper they were printed on,
her Parliament ventured upon a 'coup de main' that would have appalled the
stoutest of her statesmen under less desperate circumstances. They, in a manner, confiscated the domains of
the Church! This in priest-ridden
They do not call it confiscating the church property. That would sound too harshly yet. But it amounts to that. There are thousands of churches in
Well, the Government has seized all this in effect, and will
yet seize it in rigid and unpoetical reality, no doubt. Something must be done to feed a starving
treasury, and there is no other resource in all
Pray glance at some of these churches and their
embellishments, and see whether the Government is doing a righteous thing or
Now, where is the use of allowing all those riches to lie
idle, while half of that community hardly know, from day to day, how they are
going to keep body and soul together?
And, where is the wisdom in permitting hundreds upon hundreds of
millions of francs to be locked up in the useless trumpery of churches all over
As far as I can see, Italy, for fifteen hundred years, has
turned all her energies, all her finances, and all her industry to the building
up of a vast array of wonderful church edifices, and starving half her citizens
to accomplish it. She is to-day one vast
museum of magnificence and misery. All
the churches in an ordinary American city put together could hardly buy the
jeweled frippery in one of her hundred cathedrals. And for every beggar in
Look at the grand Duomo of Florence--a vast pile that has
been sapping the purses of her citizens for five hundred years, and is not
nearly finished yet. Like all other men,
I fell down and worshipped it, but when the filthy beggars swarmed around me
the contrast was too striking, too suggestive, and I said, "O, sons of
Three hundred happy, comfortable priests are employed in that Cathedral.
And now that my temper is up, I may as well go on and abuse
every body I can think of. They have a
grand mausoleum in
Andrea del Sarto glorified his princes in pictures that must save them for ever from the oblivion they merited, and they let him starve. Served him right. Raphael pictured such infernal villains as Catherine and Marie de Medicis seated in heaven and conversing familiarly with the Virgin Mary and the angels, (to say nothing of higher personages,) and yet my friends abuse me because I am a little prejudiced against the old masters--because I fail sometimes to see the beauty that is in their productions. I can not help but see it, now and then, but I keep on protesting against the groveling spirit that could persuade those masters to prostitute their noble talents to the adulation of such monsters as the French, Venetian and Florentine Princes of two and three hundred years ago, all the same.
I am told that the old masters had to do these shameful
things for bread, the princes and potentates being the only patrons of
art. If a grandly gifted man may drag
his pride and his manhood in the dirt for bread rather than starve with the
nobility that is in him untainted, the excuse is a valid one. It would excuse theft in
But somehow, I can not keep that Medici mausoleum out of my memory. It is as large as a church; its pavement is rich enough for the pavement of a King's palace; its great dome is gorgeous with frescoes; its walls are made of--what? Marble?--plaster?--wood?--paper? No. Red porphyry
--verde antique--jasper--oriental agate--alabaster--mother-of-pearl
--chalcedony--red coral--lapis lazuli! All the vast walls are made wholly
of these precious stones, worked in, and in and in together
in elaborate pattern s and figures, and polished till they glow like great
mirrors with the pictured splendors reflected from the dome overhead. And before a statue of one of those dead
Medicis reposes a crown that blazes with diamonds and emeralds enough to buy a
ship-of-the-line, almost. These are the
things the Government has its evil eye upon, and a happy thing it will be for
And now----. However, another beggar approaches. I will go out and destroy him, and then come back and write another chapter of vituperation.
Having eaten the friendless orphan--having driven away his comrades --having grown calm and reflective at length--I now feel in a kindlier mood. I feel that after talking so freely about the priests and the churches, justice demands that if I know any thing good about either I ought to say it. I have heard of many things that redound to the credit of the priesthood, but the most notable matter that occurs to me now is the devotion one of the mendicant orders showed during the prevalence of the cholera last year. I speak of the Dominican friars--men who wear a coarse, heavy brown robe and a cowl, in this hot climate, and go barefoot. They live on alms altogether, I believe. They must unquestionably love their religion, to suffer so much for it. When the cholera was raging in Naples; when the people were dying by hundreds and hundreds every day; when every concern for the public welfare was swallowed up in selfish private interest, and every citizen made the taking care of himself his sole object, these men banded themselves together and went about nursing the sick and burying the dead. Their noble efforts cost many of them their lives. They laid them down cheerfully, and well they might. Creeds mathematically precise, and hair-splitting niceties of doctrine, are absolutely necessary for the salvation of some kinds of souls, but surely the charity, the purity, the unselfishness that are in the hearts of men like these would save their souls though they were bankrupt in the true religion--which is ours.
One of these fat bare-footed rascals came here to Civita Vecchia with us in the little French steamer. There were only half a dozen of us in the cabin. He belonged in the steerage. He was the life of the ship, the bloody-minded son of the Inquisition! He and the leader of the marine band of a French man-of-war played on the piano and sang opera turn about; they sang duets together; they rigged impromptu theatrical costumes and gave us extravagant farces and pantomimes. We got along first-rate with the friar, and were excessively conversational, albeit he could not understand what we said, and certainly he never uttered a word that we could guess the meaning of.
This Civita Vecchia is the finest nest of dirt, vermin and ignorance we have found yet, except that African perdition they call Tangier, which is just like it. The people here live in alleys two yards wide, which have a smell about them which is peculiar but not entertaining. It is well the alleys are not wider, because they hold as much smell now as a person can stand, and of course, if they were wider they would hold more, and then the people would die. These alleys are paved with stone, and carpeted with deceased cats, and decayed rags, and decomposed vegetable-tops, and remnants of old boots, all soaked with dish-water, and the people sit around on stools and enjoy it. They are indolent, as a general thing, and yet have few pastimes. They work two or three hours at a time, but not hard, and then they knock off and catch flies. This does not require any talent, because they only have to grab--if they do not get the one they are after, they get another. It is all the same to them. They have no partialities. Whichever one they get is the one they want.
They have other kinds of insects, but it does not make them arrogant. They are very quiet, unpretending people. They have more of these kind of things than other communities, but they do not boast.
They are very uncleanly--these people--in face, in person and dress. When they see any body with a clean shirt on, it arouses their scorn. The women wash clothes, half the day, at the public tanks in the streets, but they are probably somebody else's. Or may be they keep one set to wear and another to wash; because they never put on any that have ever been washed. When they get done washing, they sit in the alleys and nurse their cubs. They nurse one ash-cat at a time, and the others scratch their backs against the door-post and are happy.
All this country belongs to the
They keep up the passport system here, but so they do in
It was no common joke.
At length a veteran officer spelled it over deliberately and shook his
head three or four times and said that in his opinion it was seditious. That was the first time I felt alarmed. I immediately said I would explain the
document, and they crowded around. And so I explained and explained and
explained, and they took notes of all I said, but the more I explained the more
they could not understand it, and when they desisted at last, I could not even
understand it myself. They said they
believed it was an incendiary document, leveled at the government. I declared solemnly that it was not, but they
only shook their heads and would not be satisfied. Then they consulted a good while; and finally
they confiscated it. I was very sorry
for this, because I had worked a long time on that joke, and took a good deal
of pride in it, and now I suppose I shall never see it any more. I suppose it will be sent up and filed away
among the criminal archives of
It is fearfully hot in Civita Vecchia. The streets are made very narrow and the houses built very solid and heavy and high, as a protection against the heat. This is the first Italian town I have seen which does not appear to have a patron saint. I suppose no saint but the one that went up in the chariot of fire could stand the climate.
There is nothing here to see. They have not even a cathedral, with eleven
tons of solid silver archbishops in the back room; and they do not show you any
moldy buildings that are seven thousand years old; nor any smoke-dried old
fire-screens which are chef d'oeuvres of Reubens or Simpson, or Titian or
Ferguson, or any of those parties; and they haven't any bottled fragments of
saints, and not even a nail from the true cross. We are going to
What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man's breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea--to discover a great thought--an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain--plow had gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new hinge, to find the way to make the lightnings carry your messages. To be the first--that is the idea. To do something, say something, see something, before any body else--these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial. Morse, with his first message, brought by his servant, the lightning; Fulton, in that long-drawn century of suspense, when he placed his hand upon the throttle-valve and lo, the steamboat moved; Jenner, when his patient with the cow's virus in his blood, walked through the smallpox hospitals unscathed; Howe, when the idea shot through his brain that for a hundred and twenty generations the eye had been bored through the wrong end of the needle; the nameless lord of art who laid down his chisel in some old age that is forgotten, now, and gloated upon the finished Laocoon; Daguerre, when he commanded the sun, riding in the zenith, to print the landscape upon his insignificant silvered plate, and he obeyed; Columbus, in the Pinta's shrouds, when he swung his hat above a fabled sea and gazed abroad upon an unknown world! These are the men who have really lived--who have actually comprehended what pleasure is--who have crowded long lifetimes of ecstasy into a single moment.
What is there in
I would go to
"I saw there a country which has no overshadowing
"In the cities I saw people drinking a delicious beverage made of chalk and water, but never once saw goats driven through their Broadway or their Pennsylvania Avenue or their Montgomery street and milked at the doors of the houses. I saw real glass windows in the houses of even the commonest people. Some of the houses are not of stone, nor yet of bricks; I solemnly swear they are made of wood. Houses there will take fire and burn, sometimes--actually burn entirely down, and not leave a single vestige behind. I could state that for a truth, upon my death-bed. And as a proof that the circumstance is not rare, I aver that they have a thing which they call a fire-engine, which vomits forth great streams of water, and is kept always in readiness, by night and by day, to rush to houses that are burning. You would think one engine would be sufficient, but some great cities have a hundred; they keep men hired, and pay them by the month to do nothing but put out fires. For a certain sum of money other men will insure that your house shall not burn down; and if it burns they will pay you for it. There are hundreds and thousands of schools, and any body may go and learn to be wise, like a priest. In that singular country if a rich man dies a sinner, he is damned; he can not buy salvation with money for masses. There is really not much use in being rich, there. Not much use as far as the other world is concerned, but much, very much use, as concerns this; because there, if a man be rich, he is very greatly honored, and can become a legislator, a governor, a general, a senator, no matter how ignorant an ass he is--just as in our beloved Italy the nobles hold all the great places, even though sometimes they are born noble idiots. There, if a man be rich, they give him costly presents, they ask him to feasts, they invite him to drink complicated beverages; but if he be poor and in debt, they require him to do that which they term to "settle." The women put on a different dress almost every day; the dress is usually fine, but absurd in shape; the very shape and fashion of it changes twice in a hundred years; and did I but covet to be called an extravagant falsifier, I would say it changed even oftener. Hair does not grow upon the American women's heads; it is made for them by cunning workmen in the shops, and is curled and frizzled into scandalous and ungodly forms. Some persons wear eyes of glass which they see through with facility perhaps, else they would not use them; and in the mouths of some are teeth made by the sacrilegious hand of man. The dress of the men is laughably grotesque. They carry no musket in ordinary life, nor no long-pointed pole; they wear no wide green-lined cloak; they wear no peaked black felt hat, no leathern gaiters reaching to the knee, no goat-skin breeches with the hair side out, no hob-nailed shoes, no prodigious spurs. They wear a conical hat termed a "nail-kag;" a coat of saddest black; a shirt which shows dirt so easily that it has to be changed every month, and is very troublesome; things called pantaloons, which are held up by shoulder straps, and on their feet they wear boots which are ridiculous in pattern and can stand no wear. Yet dressed in this fantastic garb, these people laughed at my costume. In that country, books are so common that it is really no curiosity to see one. Newspapers also. They have a great machine which prints such things by thousands every hour.
"I saw common men, there--men who were neither priests
nor princes--who yet absolutely owned the land they tilled. It was not rented from the church, nor from
the nobles. I am ready to take my oath
of this. In that country you might fall
from a third story window three several times, and not mash either a soldier or
a priest.--The scarcity of such people is astonishing. In the cities you will see a dozen civilians
for every soldier, and as many for every priest or preacher. Jews, there, are treated just like human
beings, instead of dogs. They can work
at any business they please; they can sell brand new goods if they want to;
they can keep drug-stores; they can practice medicine among Christians; they
can even shake hands with Christians if they choose; they can associate with
them, just the same as one human being does with another human being; they
don't have to stay shut up in one corner of the towns; they can live in any
part of a town they like best; it is said they even have the privilege of
buying land and houses, and owning them themselves, though I doubt that,
myself; they never have had to run races naked through the public streets,
against jackasses, to please the people in carnival time; there they never have
been driven by the soldiers into a church every Sunday for hundreds of years to
hear themselves and their religion especially and particularly cursed; at this
very day, in that curious country, a Jew is allowed to vote, hold office, yea,
get up on a rostrum in the public street and express his opinion of the
government if the government don't suit him!
Ah, it is wonderful. The common
people there know a great deal; they even have the effrontery to complain if
they are not properly governed, and to take hold and help conduct the
government themselves; if they had laws like ours, which give one dollar of
every three a crop produces to the government for taxes, they would have that
law altered: instead of paying thirty-three dollars in taxes, out of every one
hundred they receive, they complain if they have to pay seven. They are curious people. They do not know when they are well off. Mendicant priests do not prowl among them
with baskets begging for the church and eating up their substance. One hardly ever sees a minister of the gospel
going around there in his bare feet, with a basket, begging for
subsistence. In that country the
preachers are not like our mendicant orders of friars--they have two or three
suits of clothing, and they wash sometimes.
In that land are mountains far higher than the Alban mountains; the vast
Roman Campagna, a hundred miles long and full forty broad, is really small
compared to the United States of America; the Tiber, that celebrated river of
ours, which stretches its mighty course almost two hundred miles, and which a
lad can scarcely throw a stone across at Rome, is not so long, nor yet so wide,
as the American Mississippi--nor yet the Ohio, nor even the Hudson. In
Of course we have been to the
When we reached the door, and stood fairly within the
church, it was impossible to comprehend that it was a very large building. I had to cipher a comprehension of it. I had to ransack my memory for some more
similes. St. Peter's is bulky. Its height and size would represent two of
But the people attracted my attention after a while. To stand in the door of St. Peter's and look
at men down toward its further extremity, two blocks away, has a diminishing
effect on them; surrounded by the prodigious pictures and statues, and lost in
the vast spaces, they look very much smaller than they would if they stood two
blocks away in the open air. I
"averaged" a man as he passed me and watched him as he drifted far
down by the baldacchino and beyond--watched him dwindle to an insignificant
school-boy, and then, in the midst of the silent throng of human pigmies
gliding about him, I lost him. The
church had lately been decorated, on the occasion of a great ceremony in honor
of St. Peter, and men were engaged, now, in removing the flowers and gilt paper
from the walls and pillars. As no
ladders could reach the great heights, the men swung themselves down from
balustrades and the capitals of pilasters by ropes, to do this work. The upper gallery which encircles the inner
sweep of the dome is two hundred and forty feet above the floor of the
church--very few steeples in
They have twelve small pillars, in St. Peter's, which came
Of course we ascended to the summit of the dome, and of
course we also went up into the gilt copper ball which is above it.--There was
room there for a dozen persons, with a little crowding, and it was as close and
hot as an oven. Some of those people who
are so fond of writing their names in prominent places had been there before
us--a million or two, I should think.
From the dome of St. Peter's one can see every notable object in
I prefer not to describe St. Peter's. It has been done before. The ashes of Peter, the disciple of the
Saviour, repose in a crypt under the baldacchino. We stood reverently in that place; so did we
also in the Mamertine Prison, where he was confined, where he converted the
soldiers, and where tradition says he caused a spring of water to flow in order
that he might baptize them. But when
they showed us the print of Peter's face in the hard stone of the prison wall
and said he made that by falling up against it, we doubted. And when, also, the monk at the
We necessarily visited the Forum, where Caesar was
assassinated, and also the Tarpeian Rock.
We saw the Dying Gladiator at the Capitol, and I think that even we
appreciated that wonder of art; as much, perhaps, as we did that fearful story wrought
in marble, in the
Every body knows the picture of the Coliseum; every body
recognizes at once that "looped and windowed" band-box with a side
bitten out. Being rather isolated, it
shows to better advantage than any other of the monuments of ancient
Seventeen or eighteen centuries ago this Coliseum was the
theatre of Rome, and
"He a star! handles his sword like an apprentice brigand! he'll do for the country, may be, but he don't answer for the metropolis!"
Glad was the contraband that had a seat in the pit at the Saturday matinee, and happy the Roman street-boy who ate his peanuts and guyed the gladiators from the dizzy gallery.
For me was reserved the high honor of discovering among the rubbish of the ruined Coliseum the only playbill of that establishment now extant. There was a suggestive smell of mint-drops about it still, a corner of it had evidently been chewed, and on the margin, in choice Latin, these words were written in a delicate female hand:
"Meet me on the Tarpeian Rock tomorrow evening, dear, at sharp
seven. Mother will be absent on a visit to her friends in the
Sabine Hills. CLAUDIA."
Ah, where is that lucky youth to-day, and where the little hand that wrote those dainty lines? Dust and ashes these seventeen hundred years!
Thus reads the bill:
NEW PROPERTIES! NEW LIONS! NEW GLADIATORS!
Engagement of the renowned
MARCUS MARCELLUS VALERIAN!
FOR SIX NIGHTS ONLY!
The management beg leave to offer to the public an entertainment surpassing in magnificence any thing that has heretofore been attempted on any stage. No expense has been spared to make the opening season one which shall be worthy the generous patronage which the management feel sure will crown their efforts. The management beg leave to state that they have succeeded in securing the services of a
GALAXY OF TALENT!
such as has not been beheld in
The performance will commence this evening with a
GRAND BROADSWORD COMBAT!
between two young and promising amateurs and a celebrated Parthian gladiator who has just arrived a prisoner from the Camp of Verus.
This will be followed by a grand moral
between the renowned Valerian (with one hand tied behind
him,) and two gigantic savages from
After which the renowned Valerian (if he survive,) will fight with the broad-sword,
against six Sophomores and a Freshman from the
A long series of brilliant engagements will follow, in which the finest talent of the Empire will take part
After which the celebrated Infant Prodigy known as
"THE YOUNG ACHILLES,"
will engage four tiger whelps in combat, armed with no other weapon than his little spear!
The whole to conclude with a chaste and elegant
In which thirteen African Lions and twenty-two Barbarian Prisoners will war with each other until all are exterminated.
BOX OFFICE NOW OPEN.
Dress Circle One Dollar; Children and Servants half price.
An efficient police force will be on hand to preserve order and keep the wild beasts from leaping the railings and discommoding the audience.
Doors open at 7; performance begins at 8.
POSITIVELY NO FREE LIST.
Diodorus Job Press.
It was as singular as it was gratifying that I was also so fortunate as to find among the rubbish of the arena, a stained and mutilated copy of the Roman Daily Battle-Ax, containing a critique upon this very performance. It comes to hand too late by many centuries to rank as news, and therefore I translate and publish it simply to show how very little the general style and phraseology of dramatic criticism has altered in the ages that have dragged their slow length along since the carriers laid this one damp and fresh before their Roman patrons:
"THE OPENING SEASON.--COLISEUM.--Notwithstanding the inclemency of
the weather, quite a respectable number of the rank and fashion of
the city assembled last night to witness the debut upon metropolitan
boards of the young tragedian who has of late been winning such
golden opinions in the amphitheatres of the provinces. Some sixty
thousand persons were present, and but for the fact that the streets
were almost impassable, it is fair to presume that the house would
have been full. His august Majesty, the Emperor Aurelius, occupied
the imperial box, and was the cynosure of all eyes. Many
illustrious nobles and generals of the Empire graced the occasion
with their presence, and not the least among them was the young
patrician lieutenant whose laurels, won in the ranks of the
"Thundering Legion," are still so green upon his brow. The cheer
which greeted his
entrance was heard beyond the
"The late repairs and decorations add both to the comeliness and the
comfort of the Coliseum. The new cushions are a great improvement
upon the hard marble seats we have been so long accustomed to. The
present management deserve well of the public. They have restored
to the Coliseum the gilding, the rich upholstery and the uniform
which old Coliseum frequenters tell us
proud of fifty years ago.
"The opening scene last night--the broadsword combat between two
young amateurs and a famous Parthian gladiator who was sent here a
prisoner--was very fine. The elder of the two young gentlemen
handled his weapon with a grace that marked the possession of
extraordinary talent. His feint of thrusting, followed instantly by
a happily delivered blow which unhelmeted the Parthian, was received
with hearty applause. He was not thoroughly up in the backhanded
stroke, but it was very gratifying to his numerous friends to know
that, in time, practice would have overcome this defect. However,
he was killed. His sisters, who were present, expressed
considerable regret. His mother left the Coliseum. The other youth
maintained the contest with such spirit as to call forth
enthusiastic bursts of applause. When at last he fell a corpse, his
aged mother ran screaming, with hair disheveled and tears streaming
from her eyes, and swooned away just as her hands were clutching at
the railings of the arena. She was promptly removed by the police.
Under the circumstances the woman's conduct was pardonable, perhaps,
but we suggest that such exhibitions interfere with the decorum
which should be preserved during the performances, and are highly
improper in the presence of the Emperor. The Parthian prisoner
fought bravely and well; and well he might, for he was fighting for
both life and liberty. His wife and children were there to nerve
his arm with their love, and to remind him of the old home he should
see again if he conquered. When his second assailant fell, the
woman clasped her children to her breast and wept for joy. But it
was only a transient happiness. The captive staggered toward her
and she saw that the liberty he had earned was earned too late. He
was wounded unto death. Thus the first act closed in a manner which
was entirely satisfactory. The manager was called before the
curtain and returned his thanks for the honor done him, in a speech
which was replete with wit and humor, and closed by hoping that his
humble efforts to afford cheerful and instructive entertainment
would continue to meet with the approbation of the Roman public
"The star now appeared, and was received with vociferous applause
and the simultaneous waving of sixty thousand handkerchiefs. Marcus
Marcellus Valerian (stage name--his real name is Smith,) is a
splendid specimen of physical development, and an artist of rare
merit. His management of the battle-ax is wonderful. His gayety
and his playfulness are irresistible, in his comic parts, and yet
they are inferior to his sublime conceptions in the grave realm of
tragedy. When his ax was describing fiery circles about the heads
of the bewildered barbarians, in exact time with his springing body
and his prancing legs, the audience gave way to uncontrollable
bursts of laughter; but when the back of his weapon broke the skull
of one and almost in the same instant its edge clove the other's
body in twain, the howl of enthusiastic applause that shook the
building, was the acknowledgment of a critical assemblage that he
was a master of the noblest department of his profession. If he has
a fault, (and we are sorry to even intimate that he has,) it is that
of glancing at the audience, in the midst of the most exciting
moments of the performance, as if seeking admiration. The pausing
in a fight to bow when bouquets are thrown to him is also in bad
taste. In the great left-handed combat he appeared to be looking at
the audience half the time, instead of carving his adversaries; and
when he had slain all the sophomores and was dallying with the
freshman, he stooped and snatched a bouquet as it fell, and offered
it to his adversary at a time when a blow was descending which
promised favorably to be his death-warrant. Such levity is proper
enough in the provinces, we make no doubt, but it ill suits the
dignity of the metropolis. We trust our young friend will take
these remarks in good part, for we mean them solely for his benefit.
All who know us are aware that although we are at times justly
severe upon tigers and martyrs, we never intentionally offend
"The Infant Prodigy performed wonders. He overcame his four tiger
whelps with ease, and with no other hurt than the loss of a portion
of his scalp. The General Slaughter was rendered with a
faithfulness to details which reflects the highest credit upon the
late participants in it.
"Upon the whole, last night's performances shed honor not only upon
the management but upon the city that encourages and sustains such
wholesome and instructive entertainments. We would simply suggest
that the practice of vulgar young boys in the gallery of shying
peanuts and paper pellets at the tigers, and saying "Hi-yi!" and
manifesting approbation or dissatisfaction by such observations as
"Bully for the lion!" "Go it, Gladdy!" "Boots!" "Speech!" "Take
a walk round the block!" and so on, are extremely reprehensible,
when the Emperor is present, and ought to be stopped by the police.
Several times last night, when the supernumeraries entered the arena
to drag out the bodies, the young ruffians in the gallery shouted,
"Supe! supe!" and also, "Oh, what a coat!" and "Why don't you pad
them shanks?" and made use of various other remarks expressive of
derision. These things are very annoying to the audience.
"A matinee for the little folks is promised for this afternoon, on
which occasion several martyrs will be eaten by the tigers. The
regular performance will continue every night till further notice.
Material change of programme every evening. Benefit of Valerian,
Tuesday, 29th, if he lives."
I have been a dramatic critic myself, in my time, and I was often surprised to notice how much more I knew about Hamlet than Forrest did; and it gratifies me to observe, now, how much better my brethren of ancient times knew how a broad sword battle ought to be fought than the gladiators.
So far, good. If any man has a right to feel proud of himself, and satisfied, surely it is I. For I have written about the Coliseum, and the gladiators, the martyrs, and the lions, and yet have never once used the phrase "butchered to make a Roman holiday." I am the only free white man of mature age, who has accomplished this since Byron originated the expression.
Butchered to make a Roman holiday sounds well for the first
seventeen or eighteen hundred thousand times one sees it in print, but after
that it begins to grow tiresome. I find
it in all the books concerning
Awakened two or three nights afterward at midnight, in a narrow canon, by the snow falling on our faces, and appalled at the imminent danger of being "snowed in," we harnessed up and pushed on till eight in the morning, passed the "Divide" and knew we were saved. No complaints. Fifteen days of hardship and fatigue brought us to the end of the two hundred miles, and the Judge had not complained. We wondered if any thing could exasperate him. We built a Humboldt house. It is done in this way. You dig a square in the steep base of the mountain, and set up two uprights and top them with two joists. Then you stretch a great sheet of "cotton domestic" from the point where the joists join the hill-side down over the joists to the ground; this makes the roof and the front of the mansion; the sides and back are the dirt walls your digging has left. A chimney is easily made by turning up one corner of the roof. Oliver was sitting alone in this dismal den, one night, by a sage-brush fire, writing poetry; he was very fond of digging poetry out of himself --or blasting it out when it came hard. He heard an animal's footsteps close to the roof; a stone or two and some dirt came through and fell by him. He grew uneasy and said "Hi!--clear out from there, can't you!" --from time to time. But by and by he fell asleep where he sat, and pretty soon a mule fell down the chimney! The fire flew in every direction, and Oliver went over backwards. About ten nights after that, he recovered confidence enough to go to writing poetry again. Again he dozed off to sleep, and again a mule fell down the chimney. This time, about half of that side of the house came in with the mule. Struggling to get up, the mule kicked the candle out and smashed most of the kitchen furniture, and raised considerable dust. These violent awakenings must have been annoying to Oliver, but he never complained. He moved to a mansion on the opposite side of the canon, because he had noticed the mules did not go there. One night about eight o'clock he was endeavoring to finish his poem, when a stone rolled in--then a hoof appeared below the canvas--then part of a cow--the after part. He leaned back in dread, and shouted "Hooy! hooy! get out of this!" and the cow struggled manfully--lost ground steadily--dirt and dust streamed down, and before Oliver could get well away, the entire cow crashed through on to the table and made a shapeless wreck of every thing!
Then, for the first time in his life, I think, Oliver complained. He said,
"This thing is growing monotonous!"
Then he resigned his judgeship and left Humboldt county. "Butchered to make a Roman holyday" has grown monotonous to me.
In this connection I wish to say one word about Michael
Angelo Buonarotti. I used to worship the
mighty genius of Michael Angelo--that man who was great in poetry, painting,
sculpture, architecture--great in every thing he undertook. But I do not want Michael Angelo for
breakfast--for luncheon--for dinner--for tea--for supper--for between
meals. I like a change,
I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled with a blessed peace, as I did yesterday when I learned that Michael Angelo was dead.
But we have taken it out of this guide. He has marched us through miles of pictures
and sculpture in the vast corridors of the
He shows us a figure and says: "Statoo brunzo." (Bronze statue.)
We look at it indifferently and the doctor asks: "By Michael Angelo?"
"No--not know who."
Then he shows us the ancient Roman Forum. The doctor asks: "Michael Angelo?"
A stare from the guide. "No--thousan' year before he is born."
Then an Egyptian obelisk. Again: "Michael Angelo?"
"Oh, mon dieu, genteelmen! Zis is two thousan' year before he is born!"
He grows so tired of that unceasing question sometimes, that he dreads to show us any thing at all. The wretch has tried all the ways he can think of to make us comprehend that Michael Angelo is only responsible for the creation of a part of the world, but somehow he has not succeeded yet. Relief for overtasked eyes and brain from study and sightseeing is necessary, or we shall become idiotic sure enough. Therefore this guide must continue to suffer. If he does not enjoy it, so much the worse for him. We do.
In this place I may as well jot down a chapter concerning those necessary nuisances, European guides. Many a man has wished in his heart he could do without his guide; but knowing he could not, has wished he could get some amusement out of him as a remuneration for the affliction of his society. We accomplished this latter matter, and if our experience can be made useful to others they are welcome to it.
Guides know about enough English to tangle every thing up so that a man can make neither head or tail of it. They know their story by heart--the history of every statue, painting, cathedral or other wonder they show you. They know it and tell it as a parrot would--and if you interrupt, and throw them off the track, they have to go back and begin over again. All their lives long, they are employed in showing strange things to foreigners and listening to their bursts of admiration. It is human nature to take delight in exciting admiration. It is what prompts children to say "smart" things, and do absurd ones, and in other ways "show off" when company is present. It is what makes gossips turn out in rain and storm to go and be the first to tell a startling bit of news. Think, then, what a passion it becomes with a guide, whose privilege it is, every day, to show to strangers wonders that throw them into perfect ecstasies of admiration! He gets so that he could not by any possibility live in a soberer atmosphere. After we discovered this, we never went into ecstasies any more--we never admired any thing--we never showed any but impassible faces and stupid indifference in the presence of the sublimest wonders a guide had to display. We had found their weak point. We have made good use of it ever since. We have made some of those people savage, at times, but we have never lost our own serenity.
The doctor asks the questions, generally, because he can keep his countenance, and look more like an inspired idiot, and throw more imbecility into the tone of his voice than any man that lives. It comes natural to him.
The guides in
He took us to the municipal palace. After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and aged document was spread before us. The guide's eyes sparkled. He danced about us and tapped the parchment with his finger:
"What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! handwriting Christopher Colombo!--write it himself!"
We looked indifferent--unconcerned. The doctor examined the document very deliberately, during a painful pause.--Then he said, without any show of interest:
"Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher
Another deliberate examination.
"Ah--did he write it himself; or--or how?"
"He write it himself!--Christopher Colombo! He's own hand-writing, write by himself!"
Then the doctor laid the document down and said:
"Why, I have seen boys in
"But zis is ze great Christo--"
"I don't care who it is! It's the worst writing I ever saw. Now you musn't think you can impose on us because we are strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out!--and if you haven't, drive on!"
We drove on. The guide was considerably shaken up, but he made one more venture. He had something which he thought would overcome us. He said:
"Ah, genteelmen, you come
He brought us before the beautiful bust--for it was beautiful--and sprang back and struck an attitude:
"Ah, look, genteelmen!--beautiful, grand,--bust Christopher Colombo! --beautiful bust, beautiful pedestal!"
The doctor put up his eye-glass--procured for such occasions:
"Ah--what did you say this gentleman's name was?"
"Christopher Colombo!--ze great Christopher
"Christopher Colombo--the great Christopher Colombo. Well, what did he do?"
"Oh, corpo di Baccho!--three hundred year!"
"What did he die of?"
"I do not know!--I can not tell."
"I do not know, genteelmen!--I do not know what he die of!"
"May be--may be--I do not know--I think he die of somethings."
"Ah--which is the bust and which is the pedestal?"
"Ah, I see, I see--happy combination--very happy combination, indeed. Is--is this the first time this gentleman was ever on a bust?"
That joke was lost on the foreigner--guides can not master the subtleties of the American joke.
We have made it interesting for this Roman guide. Yesterday we spent three or four hours in the
"See, genteelmen!--Mummy! Mummy!"
The eye-glass came up as calmly, as deliberately as ever.
"Name?--he got no name!--Mummy!--'Gyptian mummy!"
"Yes, yes. Born here?"
"No! 'Gyptian mummy!"
"Ah, just so. Frenchman, I presume?"
"No!--not Frenchman, not Roman!--born in Egypta!"
"Born in Egypta. Never heard of Egypta before. Foreign locality, likely. Mummy--mummy. How calm he is--how self-possessed. Is, ah--is he dead?"
"Oh, sacre bleu, been dead three thousan' year!"
The doctor turned on him savagely:
"Here, now, what do you mean by such conduct as this! Playing us for Chinamen because we are strangers and trying to learn! Trying to impose your vile second-hand carcasses on us!--thunder and lightning, I've a notion to--to--if you've got a nice fresh corpse, fetch him out!--or by George we'll brain you!"
We make it exceedingly interesting for this Frenchman. However, he has paid us back, partly, without knowing it. He came to the hotel this morning to ask if we were up, and he endeavored as well as he could to describe us, so that the landlord would know which persons he meant. He finished with the casual remark that we were lunatics. The observation was so innocent and so honest that it amounted to a very good thing for a guide to say.
There is one remark (already mentioned,) which never yet has failed to disgust these guides. We use it always, when we can think of nothing else to say. After they have exhausted their enthusiasm pointing out to us and praising the beauties of some ancient bronze image or broken-legged statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five, ten, fifteen minutes--as long as we can hold out, in fact--and then ask:
"Is--is he dead?"
That conquers the serenest of them. It is not what they are looking for --especially a new guide. Our Roman Ferguson is the most patient, unsuspecting, long-suffering subject we have had yet. We shall be sorry to part with him. We have enjoyed his society very much. We trust he has enjoyed ours, but we are harassed with doubts.
We have been in the catacombs. It was like going down into a very deep
cellar, only it was a cellar which had no end to it. The narrow passages are roughly hewn in the
rock, and on each hand as you pass along, the hollowed shelves are carved out,
from three to fourteen deep; each held a corpse once. There are names, and Christian symbols, and
prayers, or sentences expressive of Christian hopes, carved upon nearly every
sarcophagus. The dates belong away back
in the dawn of the Christian era, of course.
Here, in these holes in the ground, the first Christians sometimes
burrowed to escape persecution. They
crawled out at night to get food, but remained under cover in the day
time. The priest told us that St.
Sebastian lived under ground for some time while he was being hunted; he went
out one day, and the soldiery discovered and shot him to death with arrows. Five or six of the early Popes--those who
reigned about sixteen hundred years ago--held their papal courts and advised
with their clergy in the bowels of the earth.
During seventeen years--from A.D. 235 to A.D. 252--the Popes did not
appear above ground. Four were raised to
the great office during that period.
Four years apiece, or thereabouts.
It is very suggestive of the unhealthiness of underground graveyards as
places of residence. One Pope afterward
spent his entire pontificate in the catacombs--eight years. Another was discovered in them and murdered
in the episcopal chair. There was no
satisfaction in being a Pope in those days.
There were too many annoyances. There
are one hundred and sixty catacombs under
In the catacombs were buried St. Cecilia, St. Agnes, and several other of the most celebrated of the saints. In the catacomb of St. Callixtus, St. Bridget used to remain long hours in holy contemplation, and St. Charles Borromeo was wont to spend whole nights in prayer there. It was also the scene of a very marvelous thing.
"Here the heart of St. Philip Neri was so inflamed with divine love
as to burst his ribs."
I find that grave statement in a book published in New York in 1808, and written by "Rev. William H. Neligan, LL.D., M. A., Trinity College, Dublin; Member of the Archaeological Society of Great Britain." Therefore, I believe it. Otherwise, I could not. Under other circumstances I should have felt a curiosity to know what Philip had for dinner.
This author puts my credulity on its mettle every now and
then. He tells of one St. Joseph
Calasanctius whose house in
"His tongue and his heart, which were found after nearly a century
to be whole, when the body was disinterred before his canonization,
are still preserved in a glass case, and after two centuries the
heart is still
whole. When the French troops came to
Pius VII. was carried away prisoner, blood dropped from it."
To read that in a book written by a monk far back in the Middle Ages, would surprise no one; it would sound natural and proper; but when it is seriously stated in the middle of the nineteenth century, by a man of finished education, an LL.D., M. A., and an Archaeological magnate, it sounds strangely enough. Still, I would gladly change my unbelief for Neligan's faith, and let him make the conditions as hard as he pleased.
The old gentleman's undoubting, unquestioning simplicity has
a rare freshness about it in these matter-of-fact railroading and telegraphing
days. Hear him, concerning the
"In the roof of the church, directly above the high altar, is
engraved, 'Regina Coeli laetare Alleluia." In the sixth century
the people to do penance, and a general procession was formed. It
was to proceed from Ara Coeli to St. Peter's. As it passed before
the mole of
was heard singing (it was Easter morn,)
Coeli, laetare! alleluia! quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia!
resurrexit sicut dixit; alleluia!" The Pontiff, carrying in his
hands the portrait of the Virgin, (which is over the high altar and
is said to have been painted by St. Luke,) answered, with the
astonished people, 'Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!' At the same time
an angel was seen to put up a sword in a scabbard, and the
pestilence ceased on the same day. There are four circumstances
which 'CONFIRM'--[The italics are mine--M. T.]--this miracle: the
annual procession which takes place in the western church on the
feast of St Mark; the statue of St. Michael, placed on the mole of
Angelo; the antiphon Regina Coeli which the Catholic church sings
during paschal time; and the inscription in the church."
From the sanguinary sports of the Holy Inquisition; the slaughter of the Coliseum; and the dismal tombs of the Catacombs, I naturally pass to the picturesque horrors of the Capuchin Convent. We stopped a moment in a small chapel in the church to admire a picture of St. Michael vanquishing Satan--a picture which is so beautiful that I can not but think it belongs to the reviled "Renaissance," notwithstanding I believe they told us one of the ancient old masters painted it--and then we descended into the vast vault underneath.
Here was a spectacle for sensitive nerves! Evidently the old masters had been at work in this place. There were six divisions in the apartment, and each division was ornamented with a style of decoration peculiar to itself--and these decorations were in every instance formed of human bones! There were shapely arches, built wholly of thigh bones; there were startling pyramids, built wholly of grinning skulls; there were quaint architectural structures of various kinds, built of shin bones and the bones of the arm; on the wall were elaborate frescoes, whose curving vines were made of knotted human vertebrae; whose delicate tendrils were made of sinews and tendons; whose flowers were formed of knee-caps and toe-nails. Every lasting portion of the human frame was represented in these intricate designs (they were by Michael Angelo, I think,) and there was a careful finish about the work, and an attention to details that betrayed the artist's love of his labors as well as his schooled ability. I asked the good-natured monk who accompanied us, who did this? And he said, "We did it"--meaning himself and his brethren up stairs. I could see that the old friar took a high pride in his curious show. We made him talkative by exhibiting an interest we never betrayed to guides.
"Who were these people?"
"We--up stairs--Monks of the Capuchin order--my brethren."
"How many departed monks were required to upholster these six parlors?"
"These are the bones of four thousand."
"It took a long time to get enough?"
"Many, many centuries."
"Their different parts are well separated--skulls in one room, legs in another, ribs in another--there would be stirring times here for a while if the last trump should blow. Some of the brethren might get hold of the wrong leg, in the confusion, and the wrong skull, and find themselves limping, and looking through eyes that were wider apart or closer together than they were used to. You can not tell any of these parties apart, I suppose?"
"Oh, yes, I know many of them."
He put his finger on a skull. "This was Brother Anselmo--dead three hundred years--a good man."
He touched another. "This was Brother Alexander--dead two hundred and eighty years. This was Brother Carlo--dead about as long."
Then he took a skull and held it in his hand, and looked reflectively upon it, after the manner of the grave-digger when he discourses of Yorick.
"This," he said, "was Brother Thomas. He was a young prince, the scion of a proud
house that traced its lineage back to the grand old days of
This business-like way of illustrating a touching story of the heart by laying the several fragments of the lover before us and naming them, was as grotesque a performance, and as ghastly, as any I ever witnessed. I hardly knew whether to smile or shudder. There are nerves and muscles in our frames whose functions and whose methods of working it seems a sort of sacrilege to describe by cold physiological names and surgical technicalities, and the monk's talk suggested to me something of this kind. Fancy a surgeon, with his nippers lifting tendons, muscles and such things into view, out of the complex machinery of a corpse, and observing, "Now this little nerve quivers--the vibration is imparted to this muscle--from here it is passed to this fibrous substance; here its ingredients are separated by the chemical action of the blood--one part goes to the heart and thrills it with what is popularly termed emotion, another part follows this nerve to the brain and communicates intelligence of a startling character--the third part glides along this passage and touches the spring connected with the fluid receptacles that lie in the rear of the eye. Thus, by this simple and beautiful process, the party is informed that his mother is dead, and he weeps." Horrible!
I asked the monk if all the brethren up stairs expected to be put in this place when they died. He answered quietly:
"We must all lie here at last."
See what one can accustom himself to.--The reflection that he must some day be taken apart like an engine or a clock, or like a house whose owner is gone, and worked up into arches and pyramids and hideous frescoes, did not distress this monk in the least. I thought he even looked as if he were thinking, with complacent vanity, that his own skull would look well on top of the heap and his own ribs add a charm to the frescoes which possibly they lacked at present.
Here and there, in ornamental alcoves, stretched upon beds of bones, lay dead and dried-up monks, with lank frames dressed in the black robes one sees ordinarily upon priests. We examined one closely. The skinny hands were clasped upon the breast; two lustreless tufts of hair stuck to the skull; the skin was brown and sunken; it stretched tightly over the cheek bones and made them stand out sharply; the crisp dead eyes were deep in the sockets; the nostrils were painfully prominent, the end of the nose being gone; the lips had shriveled away from the yellow teeth: and brought down to us through the circling years, and petrified there, was a weird laugh a full century old!
It was the jolliest laugh, but yet the most dreadful, that one can imagine. Surely, I thought, it must have been a most extraordinary joke this veteran produced with his latest breath, that he has not got done laughing at it yet. At this moment I saw that the old instinct was strong upon the boys, and I said we had better hurry to St. Peter's. They were trying to keep from asking, "Is--is he dead?"
It makes me dizzy, to think of the
There is one thing I am certain of, though. With all the Michael Angelos, the Raphaels,
the Guidos and the other old masters, the sublime history of
They did paint, and they did carve in marble, one historical scene, and one only, (of any great historical consequence.) And what was it and why did they choose it, particularly? It was the Rape of the Sabines, and they chose it for the legs and busts.
I like to look at statues, however, and I like to look at pictures, also --even of monks looking up in sacred ecstacy, and monks looking down in meditation, and monks skirmishing for something to eat--and therefore I drop ill nature to thank the papal government for so jealously guarding and so industriously gathering up these things; and for permitting me, a stranger and not an entirely friendly one, to roam at will and unmolested among them, charging me nothing, and only requiring that I shall behave myself simply as well as I ought to behave in any other man's house. I thank the Holy Father right heartily, and I wish him long life and plenty of happiness.
The Popes have long been the patrons and preservers of art,
just as our new, practical Republic is the encourager and upholder of
mechanics. In their
The guide showed us a colossal statue of Jupiter, in the
Vatican, which he said looked so damaged and rusty--so like the God of the
Vagabonds --because it had but recently been dug up in the Campagna. He asked how much we supposed this Jupiter
was worth? I replied, with intelligent
promptness, that he was probably worth about four dollars--may be four and a
half. "A hundred thousand
I wish here to mention an inscription I have seen, before I forget it:
"Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth TO MEN OF GOOD WILL!" It is not good scripture, but it is sound Catholic and human nature.
This is in letters of gold around the apsis of a mosaic
group at the side of the 'scala santa', church of
In all seriousness--without meaning to be frivolous--without meaning to be irreverent, and more than all, without meaning to be blasphemous,--I state as my simple deduction from the things I have seen and the things I have heard, that the Holy Personages rank thus in Rome:
First--"The Mother of God"--otherwise the Virgin Mary.
Fourth--Some twelve or fifteen canonized Popes and martyrs.
Fifth--Jesus Christ the Saviour--(but always as an infant in arms.)
I may be wrong in this--my judgment errs often, just as is the case with other men's--but it is my judgment, be it good or bad.
Just here I will mention something that seems curious to
me. There are no "Christ's
Day after day and night after night we have wandered among the crumbling wonders of Rome; day after day and night after night we have fed upon the dust and decay of five-and-twenty centuries--have brooded over them by day and dreampt of them by night till sometimes we seemed moldering away ourselves, and growing defaced and cornerless, and liable at any moment to fall a prey to some antiquary and be patched in the legs, and "restored" with an unseemly nose, and labeled wrong and dated wrong, and set up in the Vatican for poets to drivel about and vandals to scribble their names on forever and forevermore.
But the surest way to stop writing about
The ship is lying here in the
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS.
I shall remember our trip to Vesuvius for many a day--partly
because of its sight-seeing experiences, but chiefly on account of the fatigue
of the journey. Two or three of us had
been resting ourselves among the tranquil and beautiful scenery of the island
of Ischia, eighteen miles out in the harbor, for two days; we called it
"resting," but I do not remember now what the resting consisted of,
for when we got back to Naples we had not slept for forty-eight hours. We were just about to go to bed early in the
evening, and catch up on some of the sleep we had lost, when we heard of this
Vesuvius expedition. There was to be
eight of us in the party, and we were to leave
I said I knew nothing against the upper classes by personal
observation. I must recall it! I had
forgotten. What I saw their bravest and
their fairest do last night, the lowest multitude that could be scraped up out
of the purlieus of Christendom would blush to do, I think. They assembled by hundreds, and even
thousands, in the great Theatre of San Carlo, to do--what? Why, simply, to make fun of an old woman--to
deride, to hiss, to jeer at an actress they once worshipped, but whose beauty
is faded now and whose voice has lost its former richness. Every body spoke of the rare sport there was
to be. They said the theatre would be
crammed, because Frezzolini was going to sing.
It was said she could not sing well, now, but then the people liked to
see her, anyhow. And so we went. And every time the woman sang they hissed and
laughed--the whole magnificent house--and as soon as she left the stage they
called her on again with applause. Once
or twice she was encored five and six times in succession, and received with hisses
when she appeared, and discharged with hisses and laughter when she had
finished--then instantly encored and insulted again! And how the high-born knaves enjoyed it!
White-kidded gentlemen and ladies laughed till the tears came, and clapped
their hands in very ecstacy when that unhappy old woman would come meekly out
for the sixth time, with uncomplaining patience, to meet a storm of
hisses! It was the cruelest
exhibition--the most wanton, the most unfeeling. The singer would have conquered an audience
of American rowdies by her brave, unflinching tranquillity (for she answered
encore after encore, and smiled and bowed pleasantly, and sang the best she
possibly could, and went bowing off, through all the jeers and hisses, without
ever losing countenance or temper:) and surely in any other land than Italy her
sex and her helplessness must have been an ample protection to her--she could
have needed no other. Think what a
multitude of small souls were crowded into that theatre last night. If the manager could have filled his theatre
with Neapolitan souls alone, without the bodies, he could not have cleared less
than ninety millions of dollars. What
traits of character must a man have to enable him to help three thousand
miscreants to hiss, and jeer, and laugh at one friendless old woman, and
shamefully humiliate her? He must have
all the vile, mean traits there are. My
observation persuades me (I do not like to venture beyond my own personal
observation,) that the upper classes of
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
In this city of
And here, also, they used to have a grand procession, of priests, citizens, soldiers, sailors, and the high dignitaries of the City Government, once a year, to shave the head of a made-up Madonna--a stuffed and painted image, like a milliner's dummy--whose hair miraculously grew and restored itself every twelve months. They still kept up this shaving procession as late as four or five years ago. It was a source of great profit to the church that possessed the remarkable effigy, and the ceremony of the public barbering of her was always carried out with the greatest possible eclat and display--the more the better, because the more excitement there was about it the larger the crowds it drew and the heavier the revenues it produced--but at last a day came when the Pope and his servants were unpopular in Naples, and the City Government stopped the Madonna's annual show.
There we have two specimens of these Neapolitans--two of the silliest possible frauds, which half the population religiously and faithfully believed, and the other half either believed also or else said nothing about, and thus lent themselves to the support of the imposture. I am very well satisfied to think the whole population believed in those poor, cheap miracles--a people who want two cents every time they bow to you, and who abuse a woman, are capable of it, I think.
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
These Neapolitans always ask four times as much money as they intend to take, but if you give them what they first demand, they feel ashamed of themselves for aiming so low, and immediately ask more. When money is to be paid and received, there is always some vehement jawing and gesticulating about it. One can not buy and pay for two cents' worth of clams without trouble and a quarrel. One "course," in a two-horse carriage, costs a franc--that is law--but the hackman always demands more, on some pretence or other, and if he gets it he makes a new demand. It is said that a stranger took a one-horse carriage for a course --tariff, half a franc. He gave the man five francs, by way of experiment. He demanded more, and received another franc. Again he demanded more, and got a franc--demanded more, and it was refused. He grew vehement --was again refused, and became noisy. The stranger said, "Well, give me the seven francs again, and I will see what I can do"--and when he got them, he handed the hackman half a franc, and he immediately asked for two cents to buy a drink with. It may be thought that I am prejudiced.
Perhaps I am. I would be ashamed of myself if I were not.
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
Well, as I was saying, we got our mules and horses, after an hour and a half of bargaining with the population of Annunciation, and started sleepily up the mountain, with a vagrant at each mule's tail who pretended to be driving the brute along, but was really holding on and getting himself dragged up instead. I made slow headway at first, but I began to get dissatisfied at the idea of paying my minion five francs to hold my mule back by the tail and keep him from going up the hill, and so I discharged him. I got along faster then.
We had one magnificent picture of
This subject will be excellent matter for a chapter, and tomorrow or next day I will write it.
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
But do not go within the walls and look at it in detail. That takes away some of the romance of the thing. The people are filthy in their habits, and this makes filthy streets and breeds disagreeable sights and smells. There never was a community so prejudiced against the cholera as these Neapolitans are. But they have good reason to be. The cholera generally vanquishes a Neapolitan when it seizes him, because, you understand, before the doctor can dig through the dirt and get at the disease the man dies. The upper classes take a sea-bath every day, and are pretty decent.
The streets are generally about wide enough for one wagon,
and how they do swarm with people! It is
Broadway repeated in every street, in every court, in every alley! Such masses, such throngs, such multitudes of
hurrying, bustling, struggling humanity!
We never saw the like of it, hardly even in
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
Naples, with its immediate suburbs, contains six hundred and
twenty-five thousand inhabitants, but I am satisfied it covers no more ground
than an American city of one hundred and fifty thousand. It reaches up into the air infinitely higher
than three American cities, though, and there is where the secret of it lies. I will observe here, in passing, that the
contrasts between opulence and poverty, and magnificence and misery, are more
frequent and more striking in
I was looking at a magnificent marble staircase in the
King's palace, the other day, which, it was said, cost five million francs, and
I suppose it did cost half a million, may be.
I felt as if it must be a fine thing to live in a country where there
was such comfort and such luxury as this. And then I stepped out musing, and
almost walked over a vagabond who was eating his dinner on the curbstone--a
piece of bread and a bunch of grapes.
When I found that this mustang was clerking in a fruit establishment (he
had the establishment along with him in a basket,) at two cents a day, and that
he had no palace at home where he lived, I lost some of my enthusiasm
concerning the happiness of living in
This naturally suggests to me a thought about wages here. Lieutenants in the army get about a dollar a day, and common soldiers a couple of cents. I only know one clerk--he gets four dollars a month. Printers get six dollars and a half a month, but I have heard of a foreman who gets thirteen.
To be growing suddenly and violently rich, as this man is, naturally makes him a bloated aristocrat. The airs he puts on are insufferable.
And, speaking of wages, reminds me of prices of
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
And thus the wonderful Blue Grotto is suggested to me. It is situated on the
Then we went to
Nero's Baths, the ruins of Baiae, the Temple of Serapis; Cumae, where the Cumaen Sybil interpreted the oracles, the Lake Agnano, with its ancient submerged city still visible far down in its depths--these and a hundred other points of interest we examined with critical imbecility, but the Grotto of the Dog claimed our chief attention, because we had heard and read so much about it. Every body has written about the Grotto del Cane and its poisonous vapors, from Pliny down to Smith, and every tourist has held a dog over its floor by the legs to test the capabilities of the place. The dog dies in a minute and a half--a chicken instantly. As a general thing, strangers who crawl in there to sleep do not get up until they are called. And then they don't either. The stranger that ventures to sleep there takes a permanent contract. I longed to see this grotto. I resolved to take a dog and hold him myself; suffocate him a little, and time him; suffocate him some more and then finish him. We reached the grotto at about three in the afternoon, and proceeded at once to make the experiments. But now, an important difficulty presented itself. We had no dog.
ASCENT OF VESUVIUS--CONTINUED.
At the Hermitage we were about fifteen or eighteen hundred feet above the sea, and thus far a portion of the ascent had been pretty abrupt. For the next two miles the road was a mixture--sometimes the ascent was abrupt and sometimes it was not: but one characteristic it possessed all the time, without failure--without modification--it was all uncompromisingly and unspeakably infamous. It was a rough, narrow trail, and led over an old lava flow--a black ocean which was tumbled into a thousand fantastic shapes--a wild chaos of ruin, desolation, and barrenness--a wilderness of billowy upheavals, of furious whirlpools, of miniature mountains rent asunder--of gnarled and knotted, wrinkled and twisted masses of blackness that mimicked branching roots, great vines, trunks of trees, all interlaced and mingled together: and all these weird shapes, all this turbulent panorama, all this stormy, far-stretching waste of blackness, with its thrilling suggestiveness of life, of action, of boiling, surging, furious motion, was petrified!--all stricken dead and cold in the instant of its maddest rioting!--fettered, paralyzed, and left to glower at heaven in impotent rage for evermore!
Finally we stood in a level, narrow valley (a valley that had been created by the terrific march of some old time irruption) and on either hand towered the two steep peaks of Vesuvius. The one we had to climb --the one that contains the active volcano--seemed about eight hundred or one thousand feet high, and looked almost too straight-up-and-down for any man to climb, and certainly no mule could climb it with a man on his back. Four of these native pirates will carry you to the top in a sedan chair, if you wish it, but suppose they were to slip and let you fall, --is it likely that you would ever stop rolling? Not this side of eternity, perhaps. We left the mules, sharpened our finger-nails, and began the ascent I have been writing about so long, at twenty minutes to six in the morning. The path led straight up a rugged sweep of loose chunks of pumice-stone, and for about every two steps forward we took, we slid back one. It was so excessively steep that we had to stop, every fifty or sixty steps, and rest a moment. To see our comrades, we had to look very nearly straight up at those above us, and very nearly straight down at those below. We stood on the summit at last--it had taken an hour and fifteen minutes to make the trip.
What we saw there was simply a circular crater--a circular ditch, if you please--about two hundred feet deep, and four or five hundred feet wide, whose inner wall was about half a mile in circumference. In the centre of the great circus ring thus formed, was a torn and ragged upheaval a hundred feet high, all snowed over with a sulphur crust of many and many a brilliant and beautiful color, and the ditch inclosed this like the moat of a castle, or surrounded it as a little river does a little island, if the simile is better. The sulphur coating of that island was gaudy in the extreme--all mingled together in the richest confusion were red, blue, brown, black, yellow, white--I do not know that there was a color, or shade of a color, or combination of colors, unrepresented--and when the sun burst through the morning mists and fired this tinted magnificence, it topped imperial Vesuvius like a jeweled crown!
The crater itself--the ditch--was not so variegated in coloring, but yet, in its softness, richness, and unpretentious elegance, it was more charming, more fascinating to the eye. There was nothing "loud" about its well-bred and well-creased look. Beautiful? One could stand and look down upon it for a week without getting tired of it. It had the semblance of a pleasant meadow, whose slender grasses and whose velvety mosses were frosted with a shining dust, and tinted with palest green that deepened gradually to the darkest hue of the orange leaf, and deepened yet again into gravest brown, then faded into orange, then into brightest gold, and culminated in the delicate pink of a new-blown rose. Where portions of the meadow had sunk, and where other portions had been broken up like an ice-floe, the cavernous openings of the one, and the ragged upturned edges exposed by the other, were hung with a lace-work of soft-tinted crystals of sulphur that changed their deformities into quaint shapes and figures that were full of grace and beauty.
The walls of the ditch were brilliant with yellow banks of sulphur and with lava and pumice-stone of many colors. No fire was visible any where, but gusts of sulphurous steam issued silently and invisibly from a thousand little cracks and fissures in the crater, and were wafted to our noses with every breeze. But so long as we kept our nostrils buried in our handkerchiefs, there was small danger of suffocation.
Some of the boys thrust long slips of paper down into holes and set them on fire, and so achieved the glory of lighting their cigars by the flames of Vesuvius, and others cooked eggs over fissures in the rocks and were happy.
The view from the summit would have been superb but for the fact that the sun could only pierce the mists at long intervals. Thus the glimpses we had of the grand panorama below were only fitful and unsatisfactory.
The descent of the mountain was a labor of only four minutes. Instead of stalking down the rugged path we ascended, we chose one which was bedded knee-deep in loose ashes, and ploughed our way with prodigious strides that would almost have shamed the performance of him of the seven-league boots.
The Vesuvius of today is a very poor affair compared to the mighty
volcano of Kilauea, in the
It is said that during one of the grand eruptions of Vesuvius it discharged massy rocks weighing many tons a thousand feet into the air, its vast jets of smoke and steam ascended thirty miles toward the firmament, and clouds of its ashes were wafted abroad and fell upon the decks of ships seven hundred and fifty miles at sea! I will take the ashes at a moderate discount, if any one will take the thirty miles of smoke, but I do not feel able to take a commanding interest in the whole story by myself.
THE BURIED CITY OF
They pronounce it Pom-pay-e.
I always had an idea that you went down into Pompeii with torches, by
the way of damp, dark stairways, just as you do in silver mines, and traversed
gloomy tunnels with lava overhead and something on either hand like dilapidated
prisons gouged out of the solid earth, that faintly resembled houses. But you do nothing the kind. Fully one-half
of the buried city, perhaps, is completely exhumed and thrown open freely to
the light of day; and there stand the long rows of solidly-built brick houses
(roofless) just as they stood eighteen hundred years ago, hot with the flaming
sun; and there lie their floors, clean-swept, and not a bright fragment
tarnished or waiting of the labored mosaics that pictured them with the beasts,
and birds, and flowers which we copy in perishable carpets to-day; and here are
the Venuses, and Bacchuses, and Adonises, making love and getting drunk in
many-hued frescoes on the walls of saloon and bed-chamber; and there are the
narrow streets and narrower sidewalks, paved with flags of good hard lava, the
one deeply rutted with the chariot-wheels, and the other with the passing feet
of the Pompeiians of by-gone centuries; and there are the bake-shops, the
temples, the halls of justice, the baths, the theatres--all clean-scraped and
neat, and suggesting nothing of the nature of a silver mine away down in the
bowels of the earth. The broken pillars
lying about, the doorless doorways and the crumbled tops of the wilderness of
walls, were wonderfully suggestive of the "burnt district" in one of
our cities, and if there had been any charred timbers, shattered windows, heaps
of debris, and general blackness and smokiness about the place, the resemblance
would have been perfect. But no--the sun
shines as brightly down on old
We passed through the gate which faces the Mediterranean, (called the "Marine Gate,") and by the rusty, broken image of Minerva, still keeping tireless watch and ward over the possessions it was powerless to save, and went up a long street and stood in the broad court of the Forum of Justice. The floor was level and clean, and up and down either side was a noble colonnade of broken pillars, with their beautiful Ionic and Corinthian columns scattered about them. At the upper end were the vacant seats of the Judges, and behind them we descended into a dungeon where the ashes and cinders had found two prisoners chained on that memorable November night, and tortured them to death. How they must have tugged at the pitiless fetters as the fierce fires surged around them!
Then we lounged through many and many a sumptuous private
mansion which we could not have entered without a formal invitation in incomprehensible
Latin, in the olden time, when the owners lived there--and we probably wouldn't
have got it. These people built their
houses a good deal alike. The floors were laid in fanciful figures wrought in
mosaics of many-colored marbles. At the
threshold your eyes fall upon a Latin sentence of welcome, sometimes, or a
picture of a dog, with the legend "Beware of the Dog," and sometimes
a picture of a bear or a faun with no inscription at all. Then you enter a sort of vestibule, where
they used to keep the hat-rack, I suppose; next a room with a large marble
basin in the midst and the pipes of a fountain; on either side are bedrooms;
beyond the fountain is a reception-room, then a little garden, dining-room, and
so forth and so on. The floors were all
mosaic, the walls were stuccoed, or frescoed, or ornamented with bas-reliefs,
and here and there were statues, large and small, and little fish-pools, and
cascades of sparkling water that sprang from secret places in the colonnade of
handsome pillars that surrounded the court, and kept the flower-beds fresh and
the air cool. Those Pompeiians were very
luxurious in their tastes and habits.
The most exquisite bronzes we have seen in Europe, came from the exhumed
cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and also the finest cameos and the most
delicate engravings on precious stones; their pictures, eighteen or nineteen
centuries old, are often much more pleasing than the celebrated rubbish of the
old masters of three centuries ago. They
were well up in art. From the creation
of these works of the first, clear up to the eleventh century, art seems hardly
to have existed at all--at least no remnants of it are left--and it was curious
to see how far (in some things, at any rate,) these old time pagans excelled
the remote generations of masters that came after them. The pride of the world
in sculptures seem to be the Laocoon and the Dying Gladiator, in
It was a quaint and curious pastime, wandering through this old silent city of the dead--lounging through utterly deserted streets where thousands and thousands of human beings once bought and sold, and walked and rode, and made the place resound with the noise and confusion of traffic and pleasure. They were not lazy. They hurried in those days. We had evidence of that. There was a temple on one corner, and it was a shorter cut to go between the columns of that temple from one street to the other than to go around--and behold that pathway had been worn deep into the heavy flagstone floor of the building by generations of time-saving feet! They would not go around when it was quicker to go through. We do that way in our cities.
Every where, you see things that make you wonder how old
these old houses were before the night of destruction came--things, too, which
bring back those long dead inhabitants and place the living before your
eyes. For instance: The steps (two feet
thick--lava blocks) that lead up out of the school, and the same kind of steps
that lead up into the dress circle of the principal theatre, are almost worn
through! For ages the boys hurried out
of that school, and for ages their parents hurried into that theatre, and the
nervous feet that have been dust and ashes for eighteen centuries have left their
record for us to read to-day. I imagined
I could see crowds of gentlemen and ladies thronging into the theatre, with
tickets for secured seats in their hands, and on the wall, I read the imaginary
placard, in infamous grammar, "POSITIVELY NO FREE LIST, EXCEPT MEMBERS OF
THE PRESS!" Hanging about the
doorway (I fancied,) were slouchy
And so I turned away and went through shop after shop and store after store, far down the long street of the merchants, and called for the wares of Rome and the East, but the tradesmen were gone, the marts were silent, and nothing was left but the broken jars all set in cement of cinders and ashes: the wine and the oil that once had filled them were gone with their owners.
In a bake-shop was a mill for grinding the grain, and the furnaces for baking the bread: and they say that here, in the same furnaces, the exhumers of Pompeii found nice, well baked loaves which the baker had not found time to remove from the ovens the last time he left his shop, because circumstances compelled him to leave in such a hurry.
In one house (the only building in Pompeii which no woman is now allowed to enter,) were the small rooms and short beds of solid masonry, just as they were in the old times, and on the walls were pictures which looked almost as fresh as if they were painted yesterday, but which no pen could have the hardihood to describe; and here and there were Latin inscriptions--obscene scintillations of wit, scratched by hands that possibly were uplifted to Heaven for succor in the midst of a driving storm of fire before the night was done.
In one of the principal streets was a ponderous stone tank, and a water-spout that supplied it, and where the tired, heated toilers from the Campagna used to rest their right hands when they bent over to put their lips to the spout, the thick stone was worn down to a broad groove an inch or two deep. Think of the countless thousands of hands that had pressed that spot in the ages that are gone, to so reduce a stone that is as hard as iron!
They had a great public bulletin board in
In one of these long Pompeiian halls the skeleton of a man was found, with ten pieces of gold in one hand and a large key in the other. He had seized his money and started toward the door, but the fiery tempest caught him at the very threshold, and he sank down and died. One more minute of precious time would have saved him. I saw the skeletons of a man, a woman, and two young girls. The woman had her hands spread wide apart, as if in mortal terror, and I imagined I could still trace upon her shapeless face something of the expression of wild despair that distorted it when the heavens rained fire in these streets, so many ages ago. The girls and the man lay with their faces upon their arms, as if they had tried to shield them from the enveloping cinders. In one apartment eighteen skeletons were found, all in sitting postures, and blackened places on the walls still mark their shapes and show their attitudes, like shadows. One of them, a woman, still wore upon her skeleton throat a necklace, with her name engraved upon it--JULIE DI DIOMEDE.
But perhaps the most poetical thing Pompeii has yielded to modern research, was that grand figure of a Roman soldier, clad in complete armor; who, true to his duty, true to his proud name of a soldier of Rome, and full of the stern courage which had given to that name its glory, stood to his post by the city gate, erect and unflinching, till the hell that raged around him burned out the dauntless spirit it could not conquer.
We never read of
There are not half a dozen flights of stairs in
We came out from under the solemn mysteries of this city of the Venerable Past--this city which perished, with all its old ways and its quaint old fashions about it, remote centuries ago, when the Disciples were preaching the new religion, which is as old as the hills to us now--and went dreaming among the trees that grow over acres and acres of its still buried streets and squares, till a shrill whistle and the cry of "All aboard--last train for Naples!" woke me up and reminded me that I belonged in the nineteenth century, and was not a dusty mummy, caked with ashes and cinders, eighteen hundred years old. The transition was startling. The idea of a railroad train actually running to old dead Pompeii, and whistling irreverently, and calling for passengers in the most bustling and business-like way, was as strange a thing as one could imagine, and as unpoetical and disagreeable as it was strange.
Compare the cheerful life and the sunshine of this day with the horrors the younger Pliny saw here, the 9th of November, A.D. 79, when he was so bravely striving to remove his mother out of reach of harm, while she begged him, with all a mother's unselfishness, to leave her to perish and save himself.
'By this time the murky darkness had so increased that one might
have believed himself abroad in a black and moonless night, or in a
chamber where all the lights had been extinguished. On every hand
was heard the complaints of women, the wailing of children, and the
cries of men. One called his father, another his son, and another
his wife, and only by their voices could they know each other. Many
in their despair begged that death would come and end their
"Some implored the gods to succor them, and some believed that this
night was the last, the eternal night which should engulf the
"Even so it seemed to me--and I consoled myself for the coming death
with the reflection: BEHOLD, THE WORLD IS PASSING AWAY!"
* * * * * * * *
After browsing among the stately ruins of
"URIAH S. (or Z.) GRAUNT--popular poet of ancient times in the Aztec
provinces of the United States of British America. Some authors say
flourished about A. D. 742; but the learned Ah-ah Foo-foo states
that he was a cotemporary of Scharkspyre, the English poet, and
flourished about A. D. 1328, some three centuries after the Trojan
war instead of before it. He wrote 'Rock me to Sleep, Mother.'"
These thoughts sadden me. I will to bed.
Home, again! For the
first time, in many weeks, the ship's entire family met and shook hands on the
quarter-deck. They had gathered from
many points of the compass and from many lands, but not one was missing; there
was no tale of sickness or death among the flock to dampen the pleasure of the
reunion. Once more there was a full
audience on deck to listen to the sailors' chorus as they got the anchor up,
and to wave an adieu to the land as we sped away from
At seven in the evening, with the western horizon all golden from the sunken sun, and specked with distant ships, the full moon sailing high over head, the dark blue of the sea under foot, and a strange sort of twilight affected by all these different lights and colors around us and about us, we sighted superb Stromboli. With what majesty the monarch held his lonely state above the level sea! Distance clothed him in a purple gloom, and added a veil of shimmering mist that so softened his rugged features that we seemed to see him through a web of silver gauze. His torch was out; his fires were smoldering; a tall column of smoke that rose up and lost itself in the growing moonlight was all the sign he gave that he was a living Autocrat of the Sea and not the spectre of a dead one.
At two in the morning we swept through the Straits of
Messina, and so bright was the moonlight that
"Hello, doctor, what are you doing up here at this time of night?--What do you want to see this place for?"
"What do I want to see this place for? Young man, little do you know me, or you wouldn't ask such a question. I wish to see all the places that's mentioned in the Bible."
"Stuff--this place isn't mentioned in the Bible."
"It ain't mentioned in the Bible!--this place ain't--well now, what place is this, since you know so much about it?"
"Why it's Scylla and Charybdis."
"Scylla and Cha--confound it, I thought it was
And he closed up his glass and went below. The above is the ship story. Its plausibility
is marred a little by the fact that the Oracle was not a biblical student, and
did not spend much of his time instructing himself about Scriptural
localities.--They say the Oracle complains, in this hot weather, lately, that
the only beverage in the ship that is passable, is the butter. He did not mean butter, of course, but
inasmuch as that article remains in a melted state now since we are out of ice,
it is fair to give him the credit of getting one long word in the right place,
anyhow, for once in his life. He said,
We spent one pleasant day skirting along the Isles of Greece. They are very mountainous. Their prevailing tints are gray and brown, approaching to red. Little white villages surrounded by trees, nestle in the valleys or roost upon the lofty perpendicular sea-walls.
We had one fine sunset--a rich carmine flush that suffused the western sky and cast a ruddy glow far over the sea.--Fine sunsets seem to be rare in this part of the world--or at least, striking ones. They are soft, sensuous, lovely--they are exquisite refined, effeminate, but we have seen no sunsets here yet like the gorgeous conflagrations that flame in the track of the sinking sun in our high northern latitudes.
But what were sunsets to us, with the wild excitement upon us of approaching the most renowned of cities! What cared we for outward visions, when Agamemnon, Achilles, and a thousand other heroes of the great Past were marching in ghostly procession through our fancies? What were sunsets to us, who were about to live and breathe and walk in actual Athens; yea, and go far down into the dead centuries and bid in person for the slaves, Diogenes and Plato, in the public market-place, or gossip with the neighbors about the siege of Troy or the splendid deeds of Marathon? We scorned to consider sunsets.
We arrived, and entered the ancient harbor of the
But bad news came.
The commandant of the
All hands were on deck, all the afternoon, with books and
maps and glasses, trying to determine which "narrow rocky ridge" was
the Areopagus, which sloping hill the Pnyx, which elevation the Museum Hill,
and so on. And we got things
confused. Discussion became heated, and
party spirit ran high. Church members
were gazing with emotion upon a hill which they said was the one
We inquired of every body who came near the ship, whether
there were guards in the Piraeus, whether they were strict, what the chances
were of capture should any of us slip ashore, and in case any of us made the
venture and were caught, what would be probably done to us? The answers were discouraging: There was a
strong guard or police force; the
At eleven o'clock at night, when most of the ship's company were abed, four of us stole softly ashore in a small boat, a clouded moon favoring the enterprise, and started two and two, and far apart, over a low hill, intending to go clear around the Piraeus, out of the range of its police. Picking our way so stealthily over that rocky, nettle-grown eminence, made me feel a good deal as if I were on my way somewhere to steal something. My immediate comrade and I talked in an undertone about quarantine laws and their penalties, but we found nothing cheering in the subject. I was posted. Only a few days before, I was talking with our captain, and he mentioned the case of a man who swam ashore from a quarantined ship somewhere, and got imprisoned six months for it; and when he was in Genoa a few years ago, a captain of a quarantined ship went in his boat to a departing ship, which was already outside of the harbor, and put a letter on board to be taken to his family, and the authorities imprisoned him three months for it, and then conducted him and his ship fairly to sea, and warned him never to show himself in that port again while he lived. This kind of conversation did no good, further than to give a sort of dismal interest to our quarantine-breaking expedition, and so we dropped it. We made the entire circuit of the town without seeing any body but one man, who stared at us curiously, but said nothing, and a dozen persons asleep on the ground before their doors, whom we walked among and never woke--but we woke up dogs enough, in all conscience--we always had one or two barking at our heels, and several times we had as many as ten and twelve at once. They made such a preposterous din that persons aboard our ship said they could tell how we were progressing for a long time, and where we were, by the barking of the dogs. The clouded moon still favored us. When we had made the whole circuit, and were passing among the houses on the further side of the town, the moon came out splendidly, but we no longer feared the light. As we approached a well, near a house, to get a drink, the owner merely glanced at us and went within. He left the quiet, slumbering town at our mercy. I record it here proudly, that we didn't do any thing to it.
Seeing no road, we took a tall hill to the left of the distant
Acropolis for a mark, and steered straight for it over all obstructions, and
over a little rougher piece of country than exists any where else outside of
the State of
In the neighborhood of one o'clock in the morning, when we were heated with fast walking and parched with thirst, Denny exclaimed, "Why, these weeds are grape-vines!" and in five minutes we had a score of bunches of large, white, delicious grapes, and were reaching down for more when a dark shape rose mysteriously up out of the shadows beside us and said "Ho!" And so we left.
In ten minutes more we struck into a beautiful road, and
unlike some others we had stumbled upon at intervals, it led in the right
direction. We followed it. It was broad,
and smooth, and white--handsome and in perfect repair, and shaded on both sides
for a mile or so with single ranks of trees, and also with luxuriant
vineyards. Twice we entered and stole
grapes, and the second time somebody shouted at us from some invisible place. Whereupon we left again. We speculated in grapes no more on that side
Shortly we came upon an ancient stone aqueduct, built upon
arches, and from that time forth we had ruins all about us--we were approaching
our journey's end. We could not see the
Acropolis now or the high hill, either, and I wanted to follow the road till we
were abreast of them, but the others overruled me, and we toiled laboriously up
the stony hill immediately in our front--and from its summit saw
another--climbed it and saw another! It
was an hour of exhausting work. Soon we
came upon a row of open graves, cut in the solid rock--(for a while one of them
served Socrates for a prison)--we passed around the shoulder of the hill, and
the citadel, in all its ruined magnificence, burst upon us! We hurried across the ravine and up a winding
road, and stood on the old Acropolis, with the prodigious walls of the citadel
towering above our heads. We did not
stop to inspect their massive blocks of marble, or measure their height, or
guess at their extraordinary thickness, but passed at once through a great
arched passage like a railway tunnel, and went straight to the gate that leads
to the ancient temples. It was
locked! So, after all, it seemed that we
were not to see the great Parthenon face to face. We sat down and held a council
of war. Result: the gate was only a
flimsy structure of wood--we would break it down. It seemed like desecration, but then we had
traveled far, and our necessities were urgent.
We could not hunt up guides and keepers--we must be on the ship before daylight. So we argued.
This was all very fine, but when we came to break the gate, we could not
do it. We moved around an angle of the
wall and found a low bastion--eight feet high without--ten or twelve
within. Denny prepared to scale it, and
we got ready to follow. By dint of hard
scrambling he finally straddled the top, but some loose stones crumbled away
and fell with a crash into the court within.
There was instantly a banging of doors and a shout. Denny dropped from the wall in a twinkling,
and we retreated in disorder to the gate.
Xerxes took that mighty citadel four hundred and eighty years before
Christ, when his five millions of soldiers and camp-followers followed him to
The garrison had turned out--four Greeks. We clamored at the gate, and they admitted us. [Bribery and corruption.]
We crossed a large court, entered a great door, and stood
upon a pavement of purest white marble, deeply worn by footprints. Before us, in the flooding moonlight, rose
the noblest ruins we had ever looked upon--the Propylae; a small
Most of the Parthenon's imposing columns are still standing, but the roof is gone. It was a perfect building two hundred and fifty years ago, when a shell dropped into the Venetian magazine stored here, and the explosion which followed wrecked and unroofed it. I remember but little about the Parthenon, and I have put in one or two facts and figures for the use of other people with short memories. Got them from the guide-book.
As we wandered thoughtfully down the marble-paved length of this stately temple, the scene about us was strangely impressive. Here and there, in lavish profusion, were gleaming white statues of men and women, propped against blocks of marble, some of them armless, some without legs, others headless--but all looking mournful in the moonlight, and startlingly human! They rose up and confronted the midnight intruder on every side --they stared at him with stony eyes from unlooked-for nooks and recesses; they peered at him over fragmentary heaps far down the desolate corridors; they barred his way in the midst of the broad forum, and solemnly pointed with handless arms the way from the sacred fane; and through the roofless temple the moon looked down, and banded the floor and darkened the scattered fragments and broken statues with the slanting shadows of the columns.
What a world of ruined sculpture was about us! Set up in rows--stacked up in piles--scattered broadcast over the wide area of the Acropolis --were hundreds of crippled statues of all sizes and of the most exquisite workmanship; and vast fragments of marble that once belonged to the entablatures, covered with bas-reliefs representing battles and sieges, ships of war with three and four tiers of oars, pageants and processions --every thing one could think of. History says that the temples of the Acropolis were filled with the noblest works of Praxiteles and Phidias, and of many a great master in sculpture besides--and surely these elegant fragments attest it.
We walked out into the grass-grown, fragment-strewn court beyond the Parthenon. It startled us, every now and then, to see a stony white face stare suddenly up at us out of the grass with its dead eyes. The place seemed alive with ghosts. I half expected to see the Athenian heroes of twenty centuries ago glide out of the shadows and steal into the old temple they knew so well and regarded with such boundless pride.
The full moon was riding high in the cloudless heavens,
now. We sauntered carelessly and
unthinkingly to the edge of the lofty battlements of the citadel, and looked
down--a vision! And such a vision!
As we turned and moved again through the temple, I wished that the illustrious men who had sat in it in the remote ages could visit it again and reveal themselves to our curious eyes--Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Socrates, Phocion, Pythagoras, Euclid, Pindar, Xenophon, Herodotus, Praxiteles and Phidias, Zeuxis the painter. What a constellation of celebrated names! But more than all, I wished that old Diogenes, groping so patiently with his lantern, searching so zealously for one solitary honest man in all the world, might meander along and stumble on our party. I ought not to say it, may be, but still I suppose he would have put out his light.
We left the Parthenon to keep its watch over old
Paul waited for them at
him, when he saw the city wholly given up to idolatry. "Therefore
disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout
persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
* * * * * * * * *
"And they took him and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we
know what this new doctrine whereof thou speakest is?
* * * * * * * * *
"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of
as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this
inscription: To THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly
worship, him declare I unto you."--Acts, ch. xvii."
It occurred to us, after a while, that if we wanted to get home before daylight betrayed us, we had better be moving. So we hurried away. When far on our road, we had a parting view of the Parthenon, with the moonlight streaming through its open colonnades and touching its capitals with silver. As it looked then, solemn, grand, and beautiful it will always remain in our memories.
As we marched along, we began to get over our fears, and ceased to care much about quarantine scouts or any body else. We grew bold and reckless; and once, in a sudden burst of courage, I even threw a stone at a dog. It was a pleasant reflection, though, that I did not hit him, because his master might just possibly have been a policeman. Inspired by this happy failure, my valor became utterly uncontrollable, and at intervals I absolutely whistled, though on a moderate key. But boldness breeds boldness, and shortly I plunged into a Vineyard, in the full light of the moon, and captured a gallon of superb grapes, not even minding the presence of a peasant who rode by on a mule. Denny and Birch followed my example.
Now I had grapes enough for a dozen, but then
We turned, and, sure enough, there they were--three fantastic pirates armed with guns. We slackened our pace to let them come up, and in the meantime I got out my cargo of grapes and dropped them firmly but reluctantly into the shadows by the wayside. But I was not afraid. I only felt that it was not right to steal grapes. And all the more so when the owner was around--and not only around, but with his friends around also. The villains came up and searched a bundle Dr. Birch had in his hand, and scowled upon him when they found it had nothing in it but some holy rocks from Mars Hill, and these were not contraband. They evidently suspected him of playing some wretched fraud upon them, and seemed half inclined to scalp the party. But finally they dismissed us with a warning, couched in excellent Greek, I suppose, and dropped tranquilly in our wake. When they had gone three hundred yards they stopped, and we went on rejoiced. But behold, another armed rascal came out of the shadows and took their place, and followed us two hundred yards. Then he delivered us over to another miscreant, who emerged from some mysterious place, and he in turn to another! For a mile and a half our rear was guarded all the while by armed men. I never traveled in so much state before in all my life.
It was a good while after that before we ventured to steal
any more grapes, and when we did we stirred up another troublesome brigand, and
then we ceased all further speculation in that line. I suppose that fellow that rode by on the
mule posted all the sentinels, from
Every field on that long route was watched by an armed
sentinel, some of whom had fallen asleep, no doubt, but were on hand,
nevertheless. This shows what sort of a country
Just as the earliest tinges of the dawn flushed the eastern sky and turned the pillared Parthenon to a broken harp hung in the pearly horizon, we closed our thirteenth mile of weary, round-about marching, and emerged upon the sea-shore abreast the ships, with our usual escort of fifteen hundred Piraean dogs howling at our heels. We hailed a boat that was two or three hundred yards from shore, and discovered in a moment that it was a police-boat on the lookout for any quarantine-breakers that might chance to be abroad. So we dodged--we were used to that by this time--and when the scouts reached the spot we had so lately occupied, we were absent. They cruised along the shore, but in the wrong direction, and shortly our own boat issued from the gloom and took us aboard. They had heard our signal on the ship. We rowed noiselessly away, and before the police-boat came in sight again, we were safe at home once more.
Four more of our passengers were anxious to visit
We set sail for
Two other passengers ran the blockade successfully last
night. So we learned this morning. They slipped away so quietly that they were
not missed from the ship for several hours.
They had the hardihood to march into the
I suppose that ancient
The Greek throne, with its unpromising adjuncts of a ragged
population of ingenious rascals who were out of employment eight months in the
year because there was little for them to borrow and less to confiscate, and a
waste of barren hills and weed-grown deserts, went begging for a good
while. It was offered to one of
Victoria's sons, and afterwards to various other younger sons of royalty who
had no thrones and were out of business, but they all had the charity to
decline the dreary honor, and veneration enough for Greece's ancient greatness
to refuse to mock her sorrowful rags and dirt with a tinsel throne in this day
of her humiliation--till they came to this young Danish George, and he took it.
He has finished the splendid palace I saw in the radiant moonlight the other
night, and is doing many other things for the salvation of
We sailed through the barren Archipelago, and into the
narrow channel they sometimes call the Dardanelles and sometimes the
We had water batteries and forts on both sides of the Hellespont, flying the crimson flag of Turkey, with its white crescent, and occasionally a village, and sometimes a train of camels; we had all these to look at till we entered the broad sea of Marmora, and then the land soon fading from view, we resumed euchre and whist once more.
We dropped anchor in the mouth of the
The Golden Horn is a narrow arm of the sea, which branches
from the Bosporus (a sort of broad river which connects the Marmora and
But its attractiveness begins and ends with its picturesqueness. From the time one starts ashore till he gets back again, he execrates it. The boat he goes in is admirably miscalculated for the service it is built for. It is handsomely and neatly fitted up, but no man could handle it well in the turbulent currents that sweep down the Bosporus from the Black Sea, and few men could row it satisfactorily even in still water. It is a long, light canoe (caique,) large at one end and tapering to a knife blade at the other. They make that long sharp end the bow, and you can imagine how these boiling currents spin it about. It has two oars, and sometimes four, and no rudder. You start to go to a given point and you run in fifty different directions before you get there. First one oar is backing water, and then the other; it is seldom that both are going ahead at once. This kind of boating is calculated to drive an impatient man mad in a week. The boatmen are the awkwardest, the stupidest, and the most unscientific on earth, without question.
Ashore, it was--well, it was an eternal circus. People were thicker than bees, in those narrow streets, and the men were dressed in all the outrageous, outlandish, idolatrous, extravagant, thunder-and-lightning costumes that ever a tailor with the delirium tremens and seven devils could conceive of. There was no freak in dress too crazy to be indulged in; no absurdity too absurd to be tolerated; no frenzy in ragged diabolism too fantastic to be attempted. No two men were dressed alike. It was a wild masquerade of all imaginable costumes--every struggling throng in every street was a dissolving view of stunning contrasts. Some patriarchs wore awful turbans, but the grand mass of the infidel horde wore the fiery red skull-cap they call a fez. All the remainder of the raiment they indulged in was utterly indescribable.
The shops here are mere coops, mere boxes, bath-rooms,
closets--any thing you please to call them--on the first floor. The Turks sit cross-legged in them, and work
and trade and smoke long pipes, and smell like--like Turks. That covers the ground. Crowding the narrow streets in front of them
are beggars, who beg forever, yet never collect any thing; and wonderful
cripples, distorted out of all semblance of humanity, almost; vagabonds driving
laden asses; porters carrying dry-goods boxes as large as cottages on their
backs; peddlers of grapes, hot corn, pumpkin seeds, and a hundred other things,
yelling like fiends; and sleeping happily, comfortably, serenely, among the
hurrying feet, are the famed dogs of Constantinople; drifting noiselessly about
are squads of Turkish women, draped from chin to feet in flowing robes, and
with snowy veils bound about their heads, that disclose only the eyes and a
vague, shadowy notion of their features.
Seen moving about, far away in the dim, arched aisles of the Great
Bazaar, they look as the shrouded dead must have looked when they walked forth
from their graves amid the storms and thunders and earthquakes that burst upon
And then there was the goose-rancher--a fellow who drove a hundred geese before him about the city, and tried to sell them. He had a pole ten feet long, with a crook in the end of it, and occasionally a goose would branch out from the flock and make a lively break around the corner, with wings half lifted and neck stretched to its utmost. Did the goose-merchant get excited? No. He took his pole and reached after that goose with unspeakable sang froid--took a hitch round his neck, and "yanked" him back to his place in the flock without an effort. He steered his geese with that stick as easily as another man would steer a yawl. A few hours afterward we saw him sitting on a stone at a corner, in the midst of the turmoil, sound asleep in the sun, with his geese squatting around him, or dodging out of the way of asses and men. We came by again, within the hour, and he was taking account of stock, to see whether any of his flock had strayed or been stolen. The way he did it was unique. He put the end of his stick within six or eight inches of a stone wall, and made the geese march in single file between it and the wall. He counted them as they went by. There was no dodging that arrangement.
If you want dwarfs--I mean just a few dwarfs for a
That three-legged woman lay on the bridge, with her stock in
trade so disposed as to command the most striking effect--one natural leg, and
two long, slender, twisted ones with feet on them like somebody else's
fore-arm. Then there was a man further
along who had no eyes, and whose face was the color of a fly-blown beefsteak,
and wrinkled and twisted like a lava-flow--and verily so tumbled and distorted
were his features that no man could tell the wart that served him for a nose
from his cheek-bones. In Stamboul was a man with a prodigious head, an
uncommonly long body, legs eight inches long and feet like snow-shoes. He traveled on those feet and his hands, and
was as sway-backed as if the
The Mosque of St. Sophia is the chief lion of
I do not think much of the Mosque of St. Sophia. I suppose I lack appreciation. We will let it go at that. It is the rustiest old barn in heathendom. I believe all the interest that attaches to it comes from the fact that it was built for a Christian church and then turned into a mosque, without much alteration, by the Mohammedan conquerors of the land. They made me take off my boots and walk into the place in my stocking-feet. I caught cold, and got myself so stuck up with a complication of gums, slime and general corruption, that I wore out more than two thousand pair of boot-jacks getting my boots off that night, and even then some Christian hide peeled off with them. I abate not a single boot-jack.
St. Sophia is a colossal church, thirteen or fourteen
hundred years old, and unsightly enough to be very, very much older. Its immense dome is said to be more wonderful
than St. Peter's, but its dirt is much more wonderful than its dome, though
they never mention it. The church has a
hundred and seventy pillars in it, each a single piece, and all of costly
marbles of various kinds, but they came from ancient temples at Baalbec,
Every where was dirt, and dust, and dinginess, and gloom; every where were signs of a hoary antiquity, but with nothing touching or beautiful about it; every where were those groups of fantastic pagans; overhead the gaudy mosaics and the web of lamp-ropes--nowhere was there any thing to win one's love or challenge his admiration.
The people who go into ecstasies over St. Sophia must surely
get them out of the guide-book (where every church is spoken of as being
"considered by good judges to be the most marvelous structure, in many
respects, that the world has ever seen.")
Or else they are those old connoisseurs from the wilds of
We visited the Dancing Dervishes. There were twenty-one of them. They wore a long, light-colored loose robe that hung to their heels. Each in his turn went up to the priest (they were all within a large circular railing) and bowed profoundly and then went spinning away deliriously and took his appointed place in the circle, and continued to spin. When all had spun themselves to their places, they were about five or six feet apart--and so situated, the entire circle of spinning pagans spun itself three separate times around the room. It took twenty-five minutes to do it. They spun on the left foot, and kept themselves going by passing the right rapidly before it and digging it against the waxed floor. Some of them made incredible "time." Most of them spun around forty times in a minute, and one artist averaged about sixty-one times a minute, and kept it up during the whole twenty-five. His robe filled with air and stood out all around him like a balloon.
They made no noise of any kind, and most of them tilted their heads back and closed their eyes, entranced with a sort of devotional ecstacy. There was a rude kind of music, part of the time, but the musicians were not visible. None but spinners were allowed within the circle. A man had to either spin or stay outside. It was about as barbarous an exhibition as we have witnessed yet. Then sick persons came and lay down, and beside them women laid their sick children (one a babe at the breast,) and the patriarch of the Dervishes walked upon their bodies. He was supposed to cure their diseases by trampling upon their breasts or backs or standing on the back of their necks. This is well enough for a people who think all their affairs are made or marred by viewless spirits of the air--by giants, gnomes, and genii--and who still believe, to this day, all the wild tales in the Arabian Nights. Even so an intelligent missionary tells me.
We visited the Thousand and One Columns. I do not know what it was originally intended
for, but they said it was built for a reservoir. It is situated in the centre of
We took off our shoes and went into the marble mausoleum of the Sultan Mahmoud, the neatest piece of architecture, inside, that I have seen lately. Mahmoud's tomb was covered with a black velvet pall, which was elaborately embroidered with silver; it stood within a fancy silver railing; at the sides and corners were silver candlesticks that would weigh more than a hundred pounds, and they supported candles as large as a man's leg; on the top of the sarcophagus was a fez, with a handsome diamond ornament upon it, which an attendant said cost a hundred thousand pounds, and lied like a Turk when he said it. Mahmoud's whole family were comfortably planted around him.
We went to the great Bazaar in Stamboul, of course, and I shall not describe it further than to say it is a monstrous hive of little shops --thousands, I should say--all under one roof, and cut up into innumerable little blocks by narrow streets which are arched overhead. One street is devoted to a particular kind of merchandise, another to another, and so on.
When you wish to buy a pair of shoes you have the swing of the whole street--you do not have to walk yourself down hunting stores in different localities. It is the same with silks, antiquities, shawls, etc. The place is crowded with people all the time, and as the gay-colored Eastern fabrics are lavishly displayed before every shop, the great Bazaar of Stamboul is one of the sights that are worth seeing. It is full of life, and stir, and business, dirt, beggars, asses, yelling peddlers, porters, dervishes, high-born Turkish female shoppers, Greeks, and weird-looking and weirdly dressed Mohammedans from the mountains and the far provinces --and the only solitary thing one does not smell when he is in the Great Bazaar, is something which smells good.
Mosques are plenty, churches are plenty, graveyards are
plenty, but morals and whiskey are scarce.
The Koran does not permit Mohammedans to drink. Their natural instincts do not permit them to
be moral. They say the Sultan has eight
hundred wives. This almost amounts to
bigamy. It makes our cheeks burn with
shame to see such a thing permitted here in
Circassian and Georgian girls are still sold in
SLAVE GIRL MARKET REPORT.
"Best brands Circassians, crop of 1850, L200; 1852, L250; 1854,
L300. Best brands Georgian, none in market; second quality, 1851,
L180. Nineteen fair to middling Wallachian girls offered at L130 @
150, but no takers; sixteen prime A 1 sold in small lots to close
"Sales of one lot Circassians, prime to good, 1852 to 1854, at L240
@ 242, buyer 30; one forty-niner--damaged--at L23, seller ten, no
deposit. Several Georgians, fancy brands, 1852, changed hands to
fill orders. The Georgians now on hand are mostly last year's crop,
which was unusually poor. The new crop is a little backward, but
will be coming in shortly. As regards its quantity and quality, the
accounts are most encouraging. In this connection we can safely
say, also, that the new crop of Circassians is looking extremely
well. His Majesty the Sultan has already sent in large orders for
his new harem, which will be finished within a fortnight, and this
has naturally strengthened the market and given Circassian stock a
strong upward tendency. Taking advantage of the inflated market,
many of our shrewdest operators are selling short. There are hints
of a "corner" on Wallachians.
"There is nothing new in Nubians. Slow sale.
"Eunuchs--None offering; however, large cargoes are expected from
I think the above would be about the style of the commercial report. Prices are pretty high now, and holders firm; but, two or three years ago, parents in a starving condition brought their young daughters down here and sold them for even twenty and thirty dollars, when they could do no better, simply to save themselves and the girls from dying of want. It is sad to think of so distressing a thing as this, and I for one am sincerely glad the prices are up again.
Commercial morals, especially, are bad. There is no gainsaying that. Greek, Turkish and Armenian morals consist only in attending church regularly on the appointed Sabbaths, and in breaking the ten commandments all the balance of the week. It comes natural to them to lie and cheat in the first place, and then they go on and improve on nature until they arrive at perfection. In recommending his son to a merchant as a valuable salesman, a father does not say he is a nice, moral, upright boy, and goes to Sunday School and is honest, but he says, "This boy is worth his weight in broad pieces of a hundred--for behold, he will cheat whomsoever hath dealings with him, and from the Euxine to the waters of Marmora there abideth not so gifted a liar!" How is that for a recommendation? The Missionaries tell me that they hear encomiums like that passed upon people every day. They say of a person they admire, "Ah, he is a charming swindler, and a most exquisite liar!"
Every body lies and cheats--every body who is in business,
at any rate. Even foreigners soon have to come down to the custom of the
country, and they do not buy and sell long in
I am half willing to believe that the celebrated dogs of
I find them every where, but not in strong force. The most I have found together has been about
ten or twenty. And night or day a fair
proportion of them were sound asleep.
Those that were not asleep always looked as if they wanted to be. I never saw such utterly wretched, starving,
sad-visaged, broken-hearted looking curs in my life. It seemed a grim satire to accuse such brutes
as these of taking things by force of arms.
They hardly seemed to have strength enough or ambition enough to walk
across the street--I do not know that I have seen one walk that far yet. They are mangy and bruised and mutilated, and
often you see one with the hair singed off him in such wide and well defined
tracts that he looks like a map of the new Territories. They are the sorriest beasts that
breathe--the most abject--the most pitiful.
In their faces is a settled expression of melancholy, an air of hopeless
despondency. The hairless patches on a
scalded dog are preferred by the fleas of
The dogs sleep in the streets, all over the city. From one end of the street to the other, I suppose they will average about eight or ten to a block. Sometimes, of course, there are fifteen or twenty to a block. They do not belong to any body, and they seem to have no close personal friendships among each other. But they district the city themselves, and the dogs of each district, whether it be half a block in extent, or ten blocks, have to remain within its bounds. Woe to a dog if he crosses the line! His neighbors would snatch the balance of his hair off in a second. So it is said. But they don't look it.
They sleep in the streets these days. They are my compass--my guide. When I see the dogs sleep placidly on, while men, sheep, geese, and all moving things turn out and go around them, I know I am not in the great street where the hotel is, and must go further. In the Grand Rue the dogs have a sort of air of being on the lookout--an air born of being obliged to get out of the way of many carriages every day--and that expression one recognizes in a moment. It does not exist upon the face of any dog without the confines of that street. All others sleep placidly and keep no watch. They would not move, though the Sultan himself passed by.
In one narrow street (but none of them are wide) I saw three
dogs lying coiled up, about a foot or two apart. End to end they lay, and so they just bridged
the street neatly, from gutter to gutter.
A drove of a hundred sheep came along.
They stepped right over the dogs, the rear crowding the front, impatient
to get on. The dogs looked lazily up,
flinched a little when the impatient feet of the sheep touched their raw
backs--sighed, and lay peacefully down again.
No talk could be plainer than that.
So some of the sheep jumped over them and others scrambled between,
occasionally chipping a leg with their sharp hoofs, and when the whole flock
had made the trip, the dogs sneezed a little, in the cloud of dust, but never
budged their bodies an inch. I thought I
was lazy, but I am a steam-engine compared to a
These dogs are the scavengers of the city. That is their official position, and a hard one it is. However, it is their protection. But for their usefulness in partially cleansing these terrible streets, they would not be tolerated long. They eat any thing and every thing that comes in their way, from melon rinds and spoiled grapes up through all the grades and species of dirt and refuse to their own dead friends and relatives--and yet they are always lean, always hungry, always despondent. The people are loath to kill them--do not kill them, in fact. The Turks have an innate antipathy to taking the life of any dumb animal, it is said. But they do worse. They hang and kick and stone and scald these wretched creatures to the very verge of death, and then leave them to live and suffer.
Once a Sultan proposed to kill off all the dogs here, and
did begin the work--but the populace raised such a howl of horror about it that
the massacre was stayed. After a while,
he proposed to remove them all to an island in the
So the dogs remain in peaceable possession of the streets. I do not say that they do not howl at night, nor that they do not attack people who have not a red fez on their heads. I only say that it would be mean for me to accuse them of these unseemly things who have not seen them do them with my own eyes or heard them with my own ears.
I was a little surprised to see Turks and Greeks playing newsboy right here in the mysterious land where the giants and genii of the Arabian Nights once dwelt--where winged horses and hydra-headed dragons guarded enchanted castles--where Princes and Princesses flew through the air on carpets that obeyed a mystic talisman--where cities whose houses were made of precious stones sprang up in a night under the hand of the magician, and where busy marts were suddenly stricken with a spell and each citizen lay or sat, or stood with weapon raised or foot advanced, just as he was, speechless and motionless, till time had told a hundred years!
It was curious to see newsboys selling papers in so dreamy a
land as that. And, to say truly, it is
comparatively a new thing here. The
selling of newspapers had its birth in
There is one paper published here in the English language--The Levant Herald--and there are generally a number of Greek and a few French papers rising and falling, struggling up and falling again. Newspapers are not popular with the Sultan's Government. They do not understand journalism. The proverb says, "The unknown is always great." To the court, the newspaper is a mysterious and rascally institution. They know what a pestilence is, because they have one occasionally that thins the people out at the rate of two thousand a day, and they regard a newspaper as a mild form of pestilence. When it goes astray, they suppress it--pounce upon it without warning, and throttle it. When it don't go astray for a long time, they get suspicious and throttle it anyhow, because they think it is hatching deviltry. Imagine the Grand Vizier in solemn council with the magnates of the realm, spelling his way through the hated newspaper, and finally delivering his profound decision: "This thing means mischief --it is too darkly, too suspiciously inoffensive--suppress it! Warn the publisher that we can not have this sort of thing: put the editor in prison!"
The newspaper business has its inconveniences in
To suppress a paper here involves the ruin of the publisher,
almost. But in
There is only one English newspaper in
I never shall want another Turkish lunch. The cooking apparatus was in the little lunch room, near the bazaar, and it was all open to the street. The cook was slovenly, and so was the table, and it had no cloth on it. The fellow took a mass of sausage meat and coated it round a wire and laid it on a charcoal fire to cook. When it was done, he laid it aside and a dog walked sadly in and nipped it. He smelt it first, and probably recognized the remains of a friend. The cook took it away from him and laid it before us. Jack said, "I pass"--he plays euchre sometimes--and we all passed in turn. Then the cook baked a broad, flat, wheaten cake, greased it well with the sausage, and started towards us with it. It dropped in the dirt, and he picked it up and polished it on his breeches, and laid it before us. Jack said, "I pass." We all passed. He put some eggs in a frying pan, and stood pensively prying slabs of meat from between his teeth with a fork. Then he used the fork to turn the eggs with--and brought them along. Jack said "Pass again." All followed suit. We did not know what to do, and so we ordered a new ration of sausage. The cook got out his wire, apportioned a proper amount of sausage-meat, spat it on his hands and fell to work! This time, with one accord, we all passed out. We paid and left. That is all I learned about Turkish lunches. A Turkish lunch is good, no doubt, but it has its little drawbacks.
When I think how I have been swindled by books of Oriental travel, I want a tourist for breakfast. For years and years I have dreamed of the wonders of the Turkish bath; for years and years I have promised myself that I would yet enjoy one. Many and many a time, in fancy, I have lain in the marble bath, and breathed the slumbrous fragrance of Eastern spices that filled the air; then passed through a weird and complicated system of pulling and hauling, and drenching and scrubbing, by a gang of naked savages who loomed vast and vaguely through the steaming mists, like demons; then rested for a while on a divan fit for a king; then passed through another complex ordeal, and one more fearful than the first; and, finally, swathed in soft fabrics, been conveyed to a princely saloon and laid on a bed of eider down, where eunuchs, gorgeous of costume, fanned me while I drowsed and dreamed, or contentedly gazed at the rich hangings of the apartment, the soft carpets, the sumptuous furniture, the pictures, and drank delicious coffee, smoked the soothing narghili, and dropped, at the last, into tranquil repose, lulled by sensuous odors from unseen censers, by the gentle influence of the narghili's Persian tobacco, and by the music of fountains that counterfeited the pattering of summer rain.
That was the picture, just as I got it from incendiary books
of travel. It was a poor, miserable imposture.
The reality is no more like it than the Five Points are like the Garden
of Eden. They received me in a great
court, paved with marble slabs; around it were broad galleries, one above
another, carpeted with seedy matting, railed with unpainted balustrades, and
furnished with huge rickety chairs, cushioned with rusty old mattresses,
indented with impressions left by the forms of nine successive generations of
men who had reposed upon them. The place
was vast, naked, dreary; its court a barn, its galleries stalls for human
horses. The cadaverous, half nude
varlets that served in the establishment had nothing of poetry in their
appearance, nothing of romance, nothing of Oriental splendor. They shed no entrancing odors --just the
contrary. Their hungry eyes and their
lank forms continually suggested one glaring, unsentimental fact--they wanted
what they term in
I went into one of the racks and undressed. An unclean starveling wrapped a gaudy table-cloth about his loins, and hung a white rag over my shoulders. If I had had a tub then, it would have come natural to me to take in washing. I was then conducted down stairs into the wet, slippery court, and the first things that attracted my attention were my heels. My fall excited no comment. They expected it, no doubt. It belonged in the list of softening, sensuous influences peculiar to this home of Eastern luxury. It was softening enough, certainly, but its application was not happy. They now gave me a pair of wooden clogs--benches in miniature, with leather straps over them to confine my feet (which they would have done, only I do not wear No. 13s.) These things dangled uncomfortably by the straps when I lifted up my feet, and came down in awkward and unexpected places when I put them on the floor again, and sometimes turned sideways and wrenched my ankles out of joint. However, it was all Oriental luxury, and I did what I could to enjoy it.
They put me in another part of the barn and laid me on a
stuffy sort of pallet, which was not made of cloth of gold, or Persian shawls,
but was merely the unpretending sort of thing I have seen in the negro quarters
It was the famous "narghili" of the East--the
This prison was filled with hot air. When I had got warmed up sufficiently to prepare me for a still warmer temperature, they took me where it was--into a marble room, wet, slippery and steamy, and laid me out on a raised platform in the centre. It was very warm. Presently my man sat me down by a tank of hot water, drenched me well, gloved his hand with a coarse mitten, and began to polish me all over with it. I began to smell disagreeably. The more he polished the worse I smelt. It was alarming. I said to him:
"I perceive that I am pretty far gone. It is plain that I ought to be buried without any unnecessary delay. Perhaps you had better go after my friends at once, because the weather is warm, and I can not 'keep' long."
He went on scrubbing, and paid no attention. I soon saw that he was reducing my size. He bore hard on his mitten, and from under it rolled little cylinders, like maccaroni. It could not be dirt, for it was too white. He pared me down in this way for a long time. Finally I said:
"It is a tedious process. It will take hours to trim me to the size you want me; I will wait; go and borrow a jack-plane."
He paid no attention at all.
After a while he brought a basin, some soap, and something
that seemed to be the tail of a horse.
He made up a prodigious quantity of soap-suds, deluged me with them from
head to foot, without warning me to shut my eyes, and then swabbed me viciously
with the horse-tail. Then he left me
there, a snowy statue of lather, and went away.
When I got tired of waiting I went and hunted him up. He was propped against the wall, in another
room, asleep. I woke him. He was not disconcerted. He took me back and flooded me with hot water,
then turbaned my head, swathed me with dry table-cloths, and conducted me to a
latticed chicken-coop in one of the galleries, and pointed to one of those
The blank, unornamented coop had nothing about it of that oriental voluptuousness one reads of so much. It was more suggestive of the county hospital than any thing else. The skinny servitor brought a narghili, and I got him to take it out again without wasting any time about it. Then he brought the world-renowned Turkish coffee that poets have sung so rapturously for many generations, and I seized upon it as the last hope that was left of my old dreams of Eastern luxury. It was another fraud. Of all the unchristian beverages that ever passed my lips, Turkish coffee is the worst. The cup is small, it is smeared with grounds; the coffee is black, thick, unsavory of smell, and execrable in taste. The bottom of the cup has a muddy sediment in it half an inch deep. This goes down your throat, and portions of it lodge by the way, and produce a tickling aggravation that keeps you barking and coughing for an hour.
Here endeth my experience of the celebrated Turkish bath, and here also endeth my dream of the bliss the mortal revels in who passes through it. It is a malignant swindle. The man who enjoys it is qualified to enjoy any thing that is repulsive to sight or sense, and he that can invest it with a charm of poetry is able to do the same with any thing else in the world that is tedious, and wretched, and dismal, and nasty.
We left a dozen passengers in Constantinople, and sailed
through the beautiful Bosporus and far up into the
Sebastopol is probably the worst battered town in
We have had a great many Russian and English gentlemen and ladies on board to-day, and the time has passed cheerfully away. They were all happy-spirited people, and I never heard our mother tongue sound so pleasantly as it did when it fell from those English lips in this far-off land. I talked to the Russians a good deal, just to be friendly, and they talked to me from the same motive; I am sure that both enjoyed the conversation, but never a word of it either of us understood. I did most of my talking to those English people though, and I am sorry we can not carry some of them along with us.
We have gone whithersoever we chose, to-day, and have met with nothing but the kindest attentions. Nobody inquired whether we had any passports or not.
Several of the officers of the Government have suggested that we take the ship to a little watering-place thirty miles from here, and pay the Emperor of Russia a visit. He is rusticating there. These officers said they would take it upon themselves to insure us a cordial reception. They said if we would go, they would not only telegraph the Emperor, but send a special courier overland to announce our coming. Our time is so short, though, and more especially our coal is so nearly out, that we judged it best to forego the rare pleasure of holding social intercourse with an Emperor.
The battle-fields were pretty close together. The Malakoff tower is on a hill which is
right in the edge of the town. The Redan
was within rifle-shot of the Malakoff; Inkerman was a mile away; and
These fearful fields, where such tempests of death used to rage, are peaceful enough now; no sound is heard, hardly a living thing moves about them, they are lonely and silent--their desolation is complete.
There was nothing else to do, and so every body went to
hunting relics. They have stocked the ship with them. They brought them from the Malakoff, from the
"Fragment of a Russian General! This is absurd. Are you never going to learn any sense?"
He only said: "Go slow--the old woman won't know any different." [His aunt.]
This person gathers mementoes with a perfect recklessness, now-a-days; mixes them all up together, and then serenely labels them without any regard to truth, propriety, or even plausibility. I have found him breaking a stone in two, and labeling half of it "Chunk busted from the pulpit of Demosthenes," and the other half "Darnick from the Tomb of Abelard and Heloise." I have known him to gather up a handful of pebbles by the roadside, and bring them on board ship and label them as coming from twenty celebrated localities five hundred miles apart. I remonstrate against these outrages upon reason and truth, of course, but it does no good. I get the same tranquil, unanswerable reply every time:
"It don't signify--the old woman won't know any different."
Ever since we three or four fortunate ones made the midnight
We have got so far east, now--a hundred and fifty-five
degrees of longitude from
I have not felt so much at home for a long time as I did
when I "raised the hill" and stood in
We were only to stay here a day and a night and take in
coal; we consulted the guide-books and were rejoiced to know that there were no
We only found two pieces of statuary, and this was another blessing. One was a bronze image of the Duc de Richelieu, grand-nephew of the splendid Cardinal. It stood in a spacious, handsome promenade, overlooking the sea, and from its base a vast flight of stone steps led down to the harbor--two hundred of them, fifty feet long, and a wide landing at the bottom of every twenty. It is a noble staircase, and from a distance the people toiling up it looked like insects. I mention this statue and this stairway because they have their story. Richelieu founded Odessa --watched over it with paternal care--labored with a fertile brain and a wise understanding for its best interests--spent his fortune freely to the same end--endowed it with a sound prosperity, and one which will yet make it one of the great cities of the Old World--built this noble stairway with money from his own private purse--and--. Well, the people for whom he had done so much, let him walk down these same steps, one day, unattended, old, poor, without a second coat to his back; and when, years afterwards, he died in Sebastopol in poverty and neglect, they called a meeting, subscribed liberally, and immediately erected this tasteful monument to his memory, and named a great street after him. It reminds me of what Robert Burns' mother said when they erected a stately monument to his memory: "Ah, Robbie, ye asked them for bread and they hae gi'en ye a stane."
The people of
We anchored here at
We had the United States Consul on board--the Odessa Consul. We assembled in the cabin and commanded him to tell us what we must do to be saved, and tell us quickly. He made a speech. The first thing he said fell like a blight on every hopeful spirit: he had never seen a court reception. (Three groans for the Consul.) But he said he had seen receptions at the Governor General's in Odessa, and had often listened to people's experiences of receptions at the Russian and other courts, and believed he knew very well what sort of ordeal we were about to essay. (Hope budded again.) He said we were many; the summer palace was small --a mere mansion; doubtless we should be received in summer fashion--in the garden; we would stand in a row, all the gentlemen in swallow-tail coats, white kids, and white neck-ties, and the ladies in light-colored silks, or something of that kind; at the proper moment--12 meridian--the Emperor, attended by his suite arrayed in splendid uniforms, would appear and walk slowly along the line, bowing to some, and saying two or three words to others. At the moment his Majesty appeared, a universal, delighted, enthusiastic smile ought to break out like a rash among the passengers--a smile of love, of gratification, of admiration--and with one accord, the party must begin to bow--not obsequiously, but respectfully, and with dignity; at the end of fifteen minutes the Emperor would go in the house, and we could run along home again. We felt immensely relieved. It seemed, in a manner, easy. There was not a man in the party but believed that with a little practice he could stand in a row, especially if there were others along; there was not a man but believed he could bow without tripping on his coat tail and breaking his neck; in a word, we came to believe we were equal to any item in the performance except that complicated smile. The Consul also said we ought to draft a little address to the Emperor, and present it to one of his aides-de-camp, who would forward it to him at the proper time. Therefore, five gentlemen were appointed to prepare the document, and the fifty others went sadly smiling about the ship--practicing. During the next twelve hours we had the general appearance, somehow, of being at a funeral, where every body was sorry the death had occurred, but glad it was over--where every body was smiling, and yet broken-hearted.
A committee went ashore to wait on his Excellency the
Governor-General, and learn our fate. At
the end of three hours of boding suspense, they came back and said the Emperor
would receive us at noon the next day --would send carriages for us--would hear
the address in person. The Grand Duke
Michael had sent to invite us to his palace also. Any man could see that there was an intention
here to show that
At the appointed hour we drove out three miles, and assembled in the handsome garden in front of the Emperor's palace.
We formed a circle under the trees before the door, for there was no one room in the house able to accommodate our three-score persons comfortably, and in a few minutes the imperial family came out bowing and smiling, and stood in our midst. A number of great dignitaries of the Empire, in undress unit forms, came with them. With every bow, his Majesty said a word of welcome. I copy these speeches. There is character in them--Russian character--which is politeness itself, and the genuine article. The French are polite, but it is often mere ceremonious politeness. A Russian imbues his polite things with a heartiness, both of phrase and expression, that compels belief in their sincerity. As I was saying, the Czar punctuated his speeches with bows:
"Good morning--I am glad to see you--I am gratified--I am delighted--I am happy to receive you!"
All took off their hats, and the Consul inflicted the
address on him. He bore it with
unflinching fortitude; then took the rusty-looking document and handed it to
some great officer or other, to be filed away among the archives of