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Title: Celebrated Women Travellers of the Nineteenth Century
Author: Adams, W. H. Davenport
Language: English
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CELEBRATED WOMEN TRAVELLERS.

[Illustration: YOKOHAMA.]



Celebrated Women Travellers

OF THE

_NINETEENTH CENTURY_

BY

W. H. DAVENPORT ADAMS

NEW YORK
E. P. DUTTON & CO.
1903



CONTENTS.


PAGE

COUNTESS DORA D'ISTRIA                17

THE PRINCESS OF BELGIOJOSO            48

MADAME HOMMAIRE DE HELL               66

MADAME LÉONIE D'AUNET                126

MISS FREDERIKA BREMER                134

MADEMOISELLE ALEXINA TINNÉ           184

MADAME IDA PFEIFFER                  215

MADAME DE BOURBOULON                 270

LADY HESTER STANHOPE                 302

LADY BRASSEY                         340

LADY MORGAN                          379

MRS. TROLLOPE                        385

MISS HARRIET MARTINEAU               404

MISS ISABELLA BIRD                   418

LADY FLORENCE DIXIE                  437

MISS GORDON CUMMING                  443

FLORENCE AND ROSAMOND HILL           452

LADY BARKER                          456

"MAGYARLAND"                         458



WOMAN AS A TRAVELLER



COUNTESS DORA D'ISTRIA.


The Princess Helena Koltzoff-Massalsky, better known by her pseudonym of
Dora d'Istria,[1] came of the family of the Ghikas, formerly princes of
Wallachia, and was born at Bucharest, on the 22nd of January, 1829.
Through the care and conscientiousness of her instructor, Mons.
Papadopoulos, and her own remarkable capacity, she acquired a very
complete and comprehensive education. When but eleven years old, she
composed a charming little story, and before she had reached womanhood,
undertook a translation of the Iliad. She showed no inclination for the
frivolous amusements of a frivolous society. Her view of life and its
responsibilities was a serious one, and she addressed all her energies
to the work of self-improvement and self-culture. She read and re-read
the literary masterpieces of England, France and Germany. As a linguist
she earned special distinction.

"Her intellectual faculties," says her master, M. Papadopoulos,
"expanded with so much rapidity, that the professors charged with her
instruction could not keep any other pupil abreast of her in the same
studies. Not only did she make a wholly unexpected and unhoped-for
progress, but it became necessary for her teachers to employ with her a
particular method: her genius could not submit to the restraint of
ordinary rules."

She was still in the springtime and flush of youth, when she went on a
tour to Germany, and visited several German courts, where she excited
the same sentiments of admiration as in her own country; it was
impossible to see her without being attracted by so much intellect,
grace and amiability. Travelling enlarged her horizon: she was able to
survey, as from a watch-tower, the course of great political events, and
she found herself mixing continually with the most celebrated savants
and statesmen of the age. Her friendly relations with persons of very
diverse opinions, while enabling her to compare and contrast a great
variety of theories, did but strengthen in her "the idea and sentiment
of liberty, which can alone conduct society to its true aim." Finally,
from the Italian revolution of 1848, which awoke her warmest
sympathies, she learned to understand the fatal consequences of despotic
government, as well as the inevitable mistakes of freedom, when first
unfettered and allowed to walk alone.

At the age of twenty she was married (February, 1849), and soon
afterwards she set out for St. Petersburg, where she was recognised as
the ornament of the higher society. In the midst of her numerous
engagements, in the midst of the homage rendered to her wit and grace,
she found time to collect a mass of valuable notes on the condition and
inner life of the great Russian Empire, several provinces of which she
knew from personal observation. From St. Petersburg to Moscow, from
Odessa to Revel, her untiring activity carried her. Most social
questions are at work under an apparent calm, and offer, therefore,
subjects well worthy of careful study, especially to so grave and clear
an intellect as that of Princess Dora d'Istria, who possessed, in the
highest degree, the faculty of steady meditation amidst the movement and
the world-stir that surrounded her. The world, charmed by her personal
attractions, had no suspicion of the restlessness and activity of her
inquiring mind.

Her departure to the South brought her inquiries and investigations to
an end. She had suffered so much from the terrible winters of the great
Northern capital, and her health was so seriously shaken, that her
doctors presented to her the grave alternative of departure or death
(1855).

The Princess Dora d'Istria, as we have hinted, was a fine linguist. She
made herself mistress of nine languages. Her historical erudition was
profound; her mind was continually in search of new knowledge. She
seemed to have inherited from one of her illustrious friends, M. von
Humboldt, that "fever of study," that insatiable ardour, which, if not
genius, is closely akin to it.

The great Berlin philosopher and the young Wallachian writer lived for
some time in an intellectual confraternity, which, no doubt, is to this
day one of the most valuable souvenirs of the brilliant author of "La
Vie Monastique dans l'Eglise Orientale." In reference to this subject,
we take leave to quote a passage from the graceful pen of M. Charles
Yriarte:--

       *       *       *       *       *

"The scene lies at Sans-Souci, in one of the celebrated saloons where
the great Frederick supped with Voltaire, d'Alembert and Maupertuis.
'Old Fritz' has been dead a hundred years; but the court of Prussia,
under the rule of Frederick William, is still the asylum of _beaux
esprits_. The time is the first and brilliant period of his reign, when
the king gathers around him artists and men of science, and writes to
Humboldt invitations to dinner in verse, which he seals with the great
Seal of State, in order that the philosopher may have no excuse for
absenting himself. A few years later, and, alas, artists and poets give
place to soldiers!

"The whole of the royal family are collected at a summer fête, and with
them the most famous names in art and science, and some strangers of
distinction.

"The prince has recently received a consignment of ancient sculptures
and works of art, and while the royal family saunter among the groves of
Charlottenhof, M. von Humboldt and the aged Rauch, the Prussian
sculptor, examine them, and investigate their secrets. Rauch is a grand
type of a man. This senior or _doyen_ of the German artists, who died
overwhelmed with glory and honours, had been a _valet de chambre_ in the
Princess Louisa's household. He had followed the princess to Rome,
where, among the masterpieces of antiquity and of the Renaissance, she
had divined the budding genius of him who was to carve in everlasting
marble the monumental figure of the great Frederick.

"These two illustrious men are bending over a basso-relievo with a Greek
inscription, when the king enters; he is accompanied by a gentleman, who
has on either arm a fair young girl in the spring of her youth and
beauty. The king invites M. von Humboldt to explain the inscription, and
the gallant old man goes straight to one of the young girls, excusing
himself for not attempting to translate it in the presence of one of the
greatest Hellenists of the time.

"'Come, your Highness,' he says, 'make the oracle speak.'

"And the young princess reads off the inscription fluently, setting down
M. von Humboldt's ignorance to the account of his politeness.

"The king compliments the handsome stranger, and Rauch, struck by her
great beauty, inquires of his friend who may be this fair, sweet Muse,
who gives to the marbles the tongue of eloquence, who, young and lovely
as an antique Venus, seems already as wise and prudent as Minerva.

"You see that it is a pretty _tableau de genre_, worthy of the brush of
Mentzel, the German painter, or of the French Meissonier. For background
the canvas will have the picturesque Louis Quatorze interiors of
Sans-Souci; in the foreground, the king and the great Humboldt, who
inclines towards the young girl; farther off, her sister leaning on
their father's arm, and the aged Rauch, who closes up the scene and
holds in his hand the bas-relief.

"That young girl, who has just given a proof of her erudition is Helena
Ghika, now famous under the literary pseudonym of Dora d'Istria. The old
man is the Prince Michael, her father, whose family, originally of
Epirus, has for the last two centuries been established in the Danubian
Principalities, and has supplied Wallachia with Hospodars. The other
young lady is Helena's sister."

       *       *       *       *       *

Dora d'Istria was one of those fine, quick intelligences which look upon
the world--that is, upon humanity--as, in the poet's words, "The proper
study of mankind."

"It has always seemed to me," she one day observed, "that women, in
travelling, might complete the task of the most scientific travellers;
for, as a fact, woman carries certain special aptitudes into literature.
She perceives more quickly than man everything connected with national
life and the manners of the people. A wide field, much too neglected,
lies open, therefore, to her observation. But, in order that she may
fitly explore it, she needs, what she too often fails to possess, a
knowledge of languages and of history, as well as the capability of
conforming herself to the different habitudes of nations, and the
faculty of enduring great fatigues.

"Happily for myself, I was not deficient in linguistic knowledge. In my
family the only language made use of was French. M. Papadopoulos at an
early age taught me Greek, which in the East is as important as French
in the West. The Germanic tongues terrified me at first, the peoples of
Pelasgic origin having no taste for those idioms. But I was industrious
enough and patient enough to triumph over all such difficulties, and
though the study of languages is far from being popular in the Latin
countries, I did not cease to pursue it until the epoch of my marriage.

"M. Papadopoulos has often referred to my passionate love of history
even in my early childhood. This passion has constantly developed. The
more I have travelled, the more clearly I have perceived that one cannot
know a people unless one knows thoroughly its antecedents; that is, if
one be not fully acquainted with its annals and its chief writers. In
studying a nation only in its contemporary manifestations, one is
exposed to the error into which one would assuredly fall if one
attempted to estimate the character of an individual after living only a
few hours in his company.

"Besides, to understand nations thoroughly, it is necessary to examine,
without any aristocratic prejudice, all the classes of which they are
composed. In Switzerland, I lived among the mountains, that I might gain
an exact idea of the Alpine life. In Greece, I traversed on horseback
the solitudes of the Peloponnesus. In Italy, I have established
relations with people of all faiths and conditions, and whenever the
opportunity has occurred, have questioned with equal curiosity the
merchant and the savant, the fisherman and the politician. When I appear
to be resting myself, I am really making those patient investigations,
indispensable to all who would conscientiously study a country."

       *       *       *       *       *

After residing for some years in Russia, she felt the need of living
thenceforward in a freer atmosphere, and betook herself to Switzerland.
Her sojourn in that country--a kind of Promised Land for all those who
in their own country have never enjoyed the realisation of their
aspirations--was very advantageous to her. She learned in Switzerland to
love and appreciate liberty, as in Italy the fine arts, and in England
industry.

The work of Dora d'Istria upon German Switzerland is less descriptive
than philosophical. The plan she has adopted is open perhaps to
criticism: such mixture of poetry and erudition may offend severer
tastes; we grow indulgent, however, when we perceive that the writer
preserves her individuality while passing from enthusiastic dithyrambs
to the most abstract historical dissertations.

It is not, however, the woman of letters so much as the patient untiring
female traveller whom we seek to introduce to our readers in these
pages. We attempt therefore, no analysis of her works,[2] but proceed to
speak of her mountaineering experiences: the most important is the
ascent of the Mönch, a summit of the Jungfrau system--one of the lofty
snow-clad peaks which enclose the ice-rivers of the Oberaar and the
Unteraar. We shall allow Madame Dora d'Istria to conduct us in person
through the difficulties of so arduous an enterprise.

       *       *       *       *       *

"When I announced my project of scaling the highest summits of the Alps,
the astonishment was general. Some imagined that it was a mere whim
which would be fully satisfied by the noise it caused. Others exclaimed
against a hardihood willing to encounter so many perils. None were
inclined to regard my words as dictated by an intimate conviction. None
could accustom themselves to the idea of so extraordinary a scheme. The
excitement was redoubled at the departure of the different telegraphic
despatches summoning from their village homes the guides spoken of as
the most resolute in the district. One hope, however, remained: that
these guides themselves would dissuade me from my enterprise. Pierre was
encouraged to dilate upon the dangers which I should incur among the
glaciers. Through the telescope I was shown the precipices of the
Jungfrau. All the manuals of travellers of Switzerland lay upon my
tables. Everybody insisted on reading to me the most frightful
passages--those most likely, as they thought, to unnerve me. But, on the
contrary, these stirring stories did but sharpen my curiosity, did but
quicken my impatience to set out. I ceased to think of anything but the
snowy wildernesses which crown the lofty mountain summits.

"I summoned Pierre to my private apartment, and spoke to him with
firmness, so as to strengthen his resolutions. My words reassured him.
'Whatever happens,' he said, 'do you take the responsibility?'
'Assuredly,' I answered; and I gave him my hand, engaging him at the
same time to remain unmoved by any remonstrance, to encourage the guides
on their arrival, before they could be exposed to any foreign influence.
He promised, and his face brightened at the sight of my tranquil smile.
He went away to superintend the preparations for the expedition, and
arrange my masculine costume, which consisted of woollen pantaloons
striped with black and white, of a closely buttoned coat descending to
my knees, of a round felt hat like that of a mountaineer, and a pair of
large strong boots. Oh, how slow the hours seemed to me! I dreaded so
keenly any occurrence which might thwart my wishes, that I could
scarcely listen to the questions put to me respecting the necessary
arrangements. Everything wearied me, except the sight of the Jungfrau
and of Pierre, who seemed to me a friend into whose hands I had
entrusted my dearest hope.

"The first to arrive were the guides of Grindelwald. I uttered a cry of
joy when Pierre Bohren appeared, a man of low stature but thickset
limbs, and Jean Almer, who was tall and robust. Both were chamois
hunters, renowned for their intrepidity. They looked at me with curious
attentiveness. They confessed, with the frank cordiality peculiar to
these brave mountaineers, that their experience would be of no service
in the expedition I was undertaking, as they had never attempted any one
like it. They knew, however, the perils of the glaciers, for every day
they risked their lives among them. But Bohren, who had ventured the
farthest, had not passed beyond the grotto of the Eiger.

"Before coming to a definite decision, we waited the arrival of Hans
Jaun of Meyringen, who had accompanied M. Agassiz in his ascent of the
Jungfrau (in 1841). He arrived towards morning, and called upon me in
company with Ulrich Lauerer, of Lauterbrunnen. The latter was as tall as
Almer, but did not seem so ready. I learned afterwards that he was still
suffering from a fall which he had but recently met with while hunting.
Hans Jaun was the oldest of all and the least robust. His hair was
growing grey, his eyelids were rimmed with a blood-coloured border.
However, he presided over the gathering. I had closed the door, so that
no one should disturb our solemn conference. The guides appeared
meditative, and sought to read in my eyes if my firmness were real or
assumed.

"It was decided that we should take with us four porters loaded with
provisions, ladders, ropes, and pick-axes; that towards evening I should
start for Interlachen with Pierre and Jaun, and that the other guides
should await me at Grindelwald. Then we separated with the friendly
greeting, 'Au revoir.'

"Scarcely had the sun dropped below the horizon, streaked with long bars
of fire, when I took my solitary seat in an open carriage. Peter
occupied the box. We traversed the walnut-tree avenues of Interlachen
and its smiling gardens. We followed the banks of the pale Lütschina,
which bounds through the midst of abrupt rocks. Clouds accumulated on
the sky. Soon we heard the distant roar of thunder. We passed into the
presence of colossal mountains, whose rugged peaks rose like
inaccessible fortresses. On turning round, I could see nothing in the
direction of Interlachen but gloomy vaporous depths, impenetrable to the
eye. Nearer and nearer drew the thunder, filling space with its sonorous
voice. The wind whistled, the Lütschina rolled its groaning waters. The
spectacle was sublime. Night gathered in all around, and the vicinity
of Grindelwald I could make out only by the lights in the châlets
scattered upon the hill.

"I had scarcely entered beneath the hospitable roof of the hotel of the
Eagle, before the rain fell in torrents, like a waterspout. I elevated
my soul to God. At this moment the thunder burst, the avalanches
resounded among the mountains, and the echoes a thousand times repeated
the noise of their fall.

"The stars were paling in the firmament when I opened my window. Mists
clothed the horizon. The rushing wind soon tore them aside, and drove
them into the gorges, whence descend, in the shape of a fan, the
unformed masses of the lower glacier, soiled with a blackish dust.

"The storm of the preceding evening, those dense clouds which gave to
the Alps a more formidable aspect than ever, the well-meant
remonstrances of the herdsmen of the valley, all awakened in the heart
of my guides a hesitation not difficult to understand on the part of men
who feared the burden of a great responsibility. They made another
effort to shake my resolution. They showed me a black tablet attached to
the wall of the church which crowns the heights:--

    AIMÉ MUNON, MIN. DU S. EV.
      TOMBA DANS UN GOUFFRE
        DE LA MER DE GLACE.
          ICI REPOSE SON CORPS,
            RETIRÉ DE L'ABÎME.

"I said to Pierre, after glancing at this pathetic inscription, 'The
soul of this young man rests in peace in the bosom of the Everlasting.
As for us, we shall soon return here to give thanks to God.'

"'Good!' replied Pierre; 'that is to say, nothing will make you draw
back.'

"He rejoined his companions, and I went to shut myself up in my chamber.

"The deep solitude around me had in it something of solemnity. Before my
eyes the Wetterhorn raised its scarped acclivities; to the right, the
masses of the Eiger, to the left, the huge Scheideck and the Faulhorn.
Those gloomy mountains which surrounded me, that tranquillity troubled
only by the rash of the torrent in the valley and by an occasional
avalanche, all this was truly majestic, and I felt as if transported
into a world where all things were unlike what I had seen before. My
mind had seldom enjoyed a calm so complete.

"I had not the patience to wait for morning. Before it appeared, I was
on foot. I breakfasted in haste, and assumed my masculine dress, to
which I found it difficult to grow accustomed. I was conscious of my
awkwardness, and it embarrassed all my movements. I summoned Pierre, and
asked him if I could by any means be conveyed as far as the valley. He
sent, to my great satisfaction, for a sedan-chair. Meanwhile, I
exercised myself by walking up and down my room, for I feared the guides
would despair of me if they saw me stumble at every step. I was
profoundly humiliated, and only weighty reasons prevented me from
resuming my woman's dress. At last I bethought myself of an expedient. I
made a parcel of my silk petticoat and my boots (_brodequins_), and gave
it to a porter, so that I might resort to them if I should be completely
paralyzed by those accursed garments which I found so inconvenient.

"We had to wait until eight o'clock before taking our departure. The sun
then made its appearance, and the mountains gradually threw off their
canopy of mist. Having wrapped myself in a great plaid, I took my seat
in the sedan-chair and started, accompanied by four guides, four
porters, and a crowd of peasants, among whom was a Tyrolean. All sang
merrily as they marched forth, but those who remained looked sadly after
us. It was the 10th of June, 1855.

"We marched without any attempt at order, and the people of Grindelwald
carried our baggage as a relief to our porters. The sun was burning. The
peasants took leave of us as soon as we struck the path which creeps up
the Mettenberg, skirting the 'sea of ice.' Only the Tyrolean,
accompanied by his young guide, remained with us. He said that curiosity
impelled him to follow us as long as he could, that he might form some
idea of the way in which we were going to get out of the affair. He sang
like the rest of the caravan, his strong voice rising above all.

"It was the first time I had seen the immense glacier popularly called
'La Mer de Glace.' Through the green curtains of the pinewoods, I gazed
upon the masses rising from the gulf, the depths of which are
azure-tinted, while the surface is covered with dirt and blocks of snow.
The spectacle, however, did not impress me greatly, whether because I
was absorbed in the thought of gaining the very summit of the Alps, or
because my imagination felt some disappointment in finding the reality
far beneath what it had figured.

"I descended from my sedan-chair when we arrived at an imprint in the
marble rock known as 'Martinsdruck.' The gigantic peaks of the
Schreckhorn, the Eiger, the Kischhorn, rose around us, almost
overwhelming us with their grandeur. To the right, the Mittelegi, a spur
of the Eiger, elevated its bare and polished sides. Suddenly the songs
ceased, and my travelling companions uttered those exclamations,
familiar to Alpine populations, which re-echoed from rock to rock. They
had caught sight of a hunter, gliding phantom-like along the steep
ascent of the Mittelegi, like a swallow lost in space. But in vain they
pursued him with cries and questions; he continued to move silently
along the black rock.

"At length we descended upon the glacier. They had abandoned me to my
own resources, probably to judge of my address. I was more at ease in my
clothes, and with a sure step I advanced upon the snow, striding across
the crevasses which separated the different strata of ice. By accident,
rather than by reflection, I looked out for the spots of snow and there
planted my feet. Later I learned that this is always the safest route,
and never leads one into danger. The Tyrolean took leave of us,
convinced at last that I should get out of the affair. As for the
guides, they gave vent to their feelings in shouts of joy. They said
that, in recognition of my self-reliance, they would entrust to me the
direction of the enterprise. After crossing the Mer de Glace, we began
to climb the steep slopes of the Ziegenberg.

[Illustration: GENEVA AND MONT BLANC.]

"For a long time the songs, a thousand times repeated, continued to
answer each other from side to side of the glacier. Then we could hear
no longer the voice of men, nor the bell of the church of Grindelwald,
whose melancholy notes the wind had hitherto wafted to us. We were in
the bosom of an immense wilderness, face to face with Heaven and the
wonders of Nature. We scaled precipitous blocks of stone, and left
behind us the snowy summits. The march became more and more painful. We
crawled on hands and feet, we glided like cats, leaped from one rock to
another like squirrels. Frequently, a handful of moss or a clump of
brushwood was our sole support, where we found no cracks or crevices.
Drops of blood often tinted, like purple flowers, the verdure we crushed
under foot. When this was wanting we contrived to balance ourselves on
the rock by the help of our alpenstocks, having recourse as seldom as
possible to one another's arms, for fear of dragging the whole company
into the abyss. Hundreds of feet below us glittered the deep crevasses
of the glacier, in which the rays of the sun disported. The cold winds,
blowing from the frozen heights, scarcely cooled our foreheads. We were
streaming with perspiration, but our gaiety increased, instead of
diminishing, with the dangers. When we came to a stretch of granite, our
speed was doubled, and whoever first set foot upon it would announce the
fact to the others. There we slipped but seldom, and by assisting one
another, we could walk erect and more quickly. Bohren the younger, who
was one of our porters and the youngest of the company, continued his
merry song. In moments of peril his voice acquired a decided quaver, but
he never paused in his march or in his cadences, and never fell back a
step.

"The prospect, which embraced the whole valley, was magnificent. We
could perceive the châlets of Grindelwald, like miniatures sprinkled
over the greensward. My guides exclaimed, 'Ah, it is from the height of
the heavens that we behold our wives!' And we continued our ascent,
leaving beneath us the clouds floating everywhere like grey scarves. At
eleven o'clock we halted on a promontory where we contrived to find room
by sitting one behind the other.

"The fatigue and heat had exhausted us, and no one stirred, except the
two Bohrens, who climbed a little higher in search of wood, so that we
might light a fire, and prepare some refreshment. A crystalline spring,
filtering through the marble and the brushwood, murmured close beside
us. But all vigorous vegetation had disappeared. Nothing was to be seen
but the grasses and mosses; the juniper, the wild thymes, which
perfumed the air, and fields of purple rhododendron, the metallic leaves
of which mingled with the black lichens. At intervals, a few stunted
larches were outlined against the everlasting snows. The Bohrens arrived
with some brushwood, and soon a fire crackled and sparkled cheerily, the
water boiled, and, to my great satisfaction, rhododendron flowers and
fragments of juniper were put into it--my companions assuring me that
this kind of tea was excellent and very wholesome.

"My thirst was keen, and I drank with avidity the odoriferous beverage,
which seemed to me excellent.

"The guides had brought me a large posy of beautiful Alpine roses, and I
made them into a wreath, which I twined around my hat.

"After an hour's halt, we resumed our march, and soon could see only the
cold white snow around us, without the least sign of vegetation or life.
The acclivity we were climbing was very steep, but having quitted the
bare rocks, we no longer ran any risk of sliding. We endeavoured to
quicken our steps, in order to reach, before nightfall, an immense
cavern known only to two of our chamois hunters, who made use of it as a
hiding-place when their unconquerable passion for heroic adventures
tempted them to disregard the cantonal regulations. Joyous shouts broke
forth when the yawning mouth of the grotto opened wide under thick
layers of snow. Our songs recommenced, and, as night was coming on, we
pressed forward rapidly. For some hours I had been unconscious of
fatigue, and I could have marched for a considerably longer period
without feeling any need of rest.

"But the guides were impatient to gain a shelter where we should not be
exposed to the avalanches which rumbled in every direction.

"A mysterious twilight partly illumined the extensive cavern, its
farthest recesses, however, remaining in deep shadow. We could hear
rivulets trickling and drops of water falling with monotonous slowness.
Never had I penetrated into a place of such savage beauty. In the middle
of the cavern, opposite the entrance, was a great pillar of ice,
resembling a cataract suddenly frozen. Beyond this marvellous block,
glittering like crystal, spread a stream of delicious freshness. When we
had kindled a large fire with branches of juniper, accumulated by the
hunter who most frequented the retreat, the ice shone with a myriad
diamond tints; everything seemed to assume an extraordinary form and
life. The fantastically carved walls of rock sparkled with capricious
gleams. From the sides of black granite hung pendent icicles, sometimes
slender and isolated, sometimes grouped in fanciful clusters. In the
hollows, where damp and darkness for ever reign, climbed a bluish-grey
moss, a melancholy and incomplete manifestation of life in the bosom of
this death-like solitude. Within, the whole scene impressed the
imagination strongly, while without, but close beside us, resounded,
like thunder, the avalanches which scattered their ruins over our heads,
or plunged headlong into fathomless gulfs.

"Some white heifer-skins were laid down under a block which formed a
kind of recess at the farther end of the grotto. I wrapped myself in my
coverings and shawls, for the cold increased in severity, but I was
protected from it by the assiduous care of my good guides, who heaped
upon me all their furs and cloaks. Then, seated around the fire, they
prepared the coffee which was to serve us the whole night. None of them
thought of sleeping, nor felt inclined to repress their natural but
modest gaiety. If one complained that his limbs were stiff, the others
immediately cried out that he was as delicate as a woman, and that we
had no cause of complaint while sojourning in a palace grander than
kings' palaces. They inscribed my name upon the roof near to the
entrance.

"Two of the guides had sallied forth to clear a pathway and cut steps in
the snow, for there would be some difficulty in getting out of the
grotto. On their return they informed us that we might rely on a fine
day--words which were welcomed with loud applause. After undergoing so
much fatigue, it was natural we should desire a complete success. I
rejoiced to see so near me the immense glaciers and lofty peaks of the
Alps, the image of which had often haunted my happiest dreams. Yet I
felt somewhat uneasy at the symptoms of indisposition which would not be
concealed. I experienced slight attacks of nausea, and a depression
which I sought to conquer by rising abruptly and giving the signal of
departure. I was forced to change my boots, for those I had worn the
day before were in shreds.

"About three o'clock in the morning we took leave of the hospitable
cavern, but it was not without difficulty we crossed the precipices
which frowned before us, and for the first time had to employ our long
ladder. We supported it against the side of a chasm, the opposite brink
of which lay several hundred feet below. We descended backwards the
close and narrow steps, strictly forbidden to cast a downward glance.
Day advanced rapidly. The masses of snow which rose around us resembled
so many mountains piled upon other mountains. We were in the heart of
the vast solitudes of the Eiger, which seemed astonished by the echoes
of our steps. We often made use of the ladder. By the third time I had
recovered my liberty of action, and no longer descended backward, but
contemplating with an undefinable charm the gaping gulfs which vanished
in the obscure recesses of the glacier, bluer than the skies of the
East.

"The troop soon divided into two sections. We wore blue glasses to
protect our eyes from the dazzling brilliancy of the snow, which every
moment became less compact. Almer had even covered his face with a green
veil, but mine I found inconvenient, and resolutely exposed my skin to
the burning rays of the sun, which were reflected from the glittering
frozen surfaces, though the sun itself was hidden by clouds. The
fissures in the glacier were few and very narrow, and we employed the
ladder but once or twice in the immense plain of powdery snow which,
towards eight o'clock, opened before us. It was then that our real
sufferings began. The heat was excessive; walking, slow and very
difficult, for at each step we sank almost to our knees. Sometimes the
foot could find no bottom, and when we withdrew it we found a yawning
azure-tinted crevasse. The guides called such places _mines_, and feared
them greatly. The air every instant grew more rarefied; my mouth was
dry; I suffered from thirst, and to quench it swallowed morsels of snow
and kirsch-wasser, the very odour of which became at last insupportable,
though I was sometimes compelled to drink it by the imperative orders of
the guides.

"It had taken us long to cross the region of springs and torrents; not
so long to traverse that in which the fissures of the glacier were
hidden under the snow; and now at last we trod the eternal and spotless
shroud of the frozen desert. I breathed with difficulty, my weakness
increased, so that it was with no small pleasure I arrived at the
halting-place marked out by our foremost party. I threw myself,
exhausted, but enchanted, on the bed of snow which had been prepared for
me. Avalanches were frequent. Sometimes they rolled in immense blocks
with a sullen roar; sometimes whirlwinds of snow fell upon us like
showers of heavy hail. To our great alarm the mist rose on all sides so
that we often lost sight of those of our party who were acting as
pioneers. After leaving the plain of snow we ascended a steep and
difficult incline. The guides had hardly strength enough to clear a
path, so rude was the acclivity and so dense the snow.

"At length, about ten o'clock, we halted on a platform which stretched
to the base of the Mönch, whose ridge or backbone rose before our eyes.
Here a small grotto had been excavated in the ice in which I was bidden
to rest myself, thoroughly well wrapped up. We were literally on the
brink of a complete collapse, respiration failed us, and for some
minutes I expectorated blood. However, I regretted neither my fatigues,
nor the resolution which had carried me to this point. All that I feared
was that I should not be able to go farther. The very air which I
endured so badly was an object of interest and study on account of its
extraordinary purity. One of the guides, having brought from the grotto
a few juniper branches, kindled a fire and melted some snow, which we
drank with eagerness. I then remarked that they had collected in a group
at some distance apart, and were conversing in a low tone and with
anxious faces. The Jungfrau had been indicated as the goal of our
enterprise, and their apprehensive glances were turned towards that
mountain, which rose on our left, shrouded in dense fogs. I felt a vague
fear that they wished to interpose some obstacle to the complete
realization of my projects; and, in fact, they soon came to tell me that
it would not be possible to climb the Jungfrau that day; that there was
still a long march to be made before we could reach its base, which, by
an optical illusion, seemed so near to us; and that from thence to the
summit would be at least another three hours' climb.

"It seemed scarcely practicable to pass the night on the snow at so
great an elevation, where the effort of breathing was a pain, and the
icy cold threatened to freeze our aching limbs, and, besides, the guides
were unanimous in predicting a violent storm in the evening. 'And then,'
said they, 'what shall we do without shelter, without coverings, without
fire, without any hot drink (for our supply of coffee was exhausted), in
the midst of this ice?' I knew in my heart they were right, but I was
keenly disappointed at failing to reach the goal when it seemed so near.
As I could not make up my mind to adopt their opinion, Almer rose, and
laying the ladder at my feet, said, with much energy, 'Adieu, I leave
you, for my conscience as an honest man forbids me to lend a hand to a
peril which I know to be inevitable.'

"I called him back, and rising in my turn, exclaimed: 'Will the
difficulties be as great in the way of an ascent of the Mönch? There it
is, only a few paces from us. It is free from mist, why should we not
reach its summit?' At these words the astonishment was general, and
everybody turned towards the peak I had named. The snow upon it seemed
quite solid, and I thought it would be impossible to find there anything
more dangerous than we had already experienced. Their hesitation
surprised me. 'Are you aware,' said they, 'that yonder mountain has
never been ascended?' 'So much the better,' said I, 'we will baptize
it!' And, forgetting in a moment my weariness, I started off with a firm
step. Pierre Jaun and Pierre Bohren, seeing me so resolved, seized our
flag, set out in advance, and never rested till they had planted it on
the loftiest summit of the Mönch, before the rest of us could get up.
The flag was of three colours, white, yellow, and blue, and bore the
beloved name of 'Wallachia,' embroidered in large letters. As if Heaven
favoured our wishes, while clouds rolled upon all the surrounding
mountains, they left free and clear the peak of the Mönch.

"Though the acclivity was much steeper than that of the Eiger, we did
not find the difficulties much greater. The snow was hard, and as we did
not sink far into it, our march was less fatiguing. We held to one
another so as to form a chain, and advanced zigzag, fired with
impatience to reach the summit. All around us I saw deep beds of snow,
but nowhere such blocks of ice as M. Deser found upon the crest of the
Jungfrau. It is probable that, owing to the season, the Mönch was still
buried under the accumulated snows of winter, and this circumstance
greatly contributed to our success.

"The image of the Infinite presented itself to my mind in all its
formidable grandeur. My heart, oppressed, felt its influence, as my gaze
rested upon the Swiss plain half hidden in the mists of the surrounding
mountains, which were bathed in golden vapours. I was filled with such a
sense of God that my heart--so it seemed to me--was not large enough to
contain it. I belonged wholly to Him. From that moment my soul was lost
in the thought of His incomprehensible power.

"But the time had come for our departure, and I must take leave of the
mountain where I was so far from men! I embraced the flag, and at three
o'clock we began our homeward march. With much toil and trouble we
descended the declivities of the Mönch. We were obliged to lend each
other more assistance than in ascending, and more than once we nearly
fell into the abysses. But as soon as we regained the Eiger, we swept
forward as rapidly as the avalanche which knows no obstacles, as the
torrent which carves out its own channel, as the bird which on mighty
pinions cleaves space. Seated on the snow, we allowed ourselves to slide
easily down those steeps which we had so painfully climbed, even to the
very brink of the precipices, which we had crossed on a ladder instead
of bridge. We observed that the gulfs yawned wide which in the morning
we had crossed upon the snow that covered them; for the aspect of these
mountains changes with a truly extraordinary rapidity. Song and laughter
soon broke forth again, provoked by our strange fashion of travelling.
Great was our joy when we found ourselves once more in an atmosphere
favourable to the life of vegetation, and all of us rushed headlong to
the first brook, whose murmur sounded as sweet to us as the voice of a
friend.

"But as soon as we reached the rocks free from snow, our troubles
recommenced; difficulties reappeared, and were even more serious than
those we had met with in our ascent. The peril was extreme; and but for
the courageous Pierre Bohren, who carried me rather than supported me, I
could never have descended the bare rocks that skirt the edge of the
glacier. When we struck the Mer de Glace, we fell in with so many gaping
fissures that we could cross them only by hazardous leaps and bounds. We
had not reached the other side before we were met by our porters with
the sedan-chair; and we arrived singing and cheering at Grindelwald,
where everybody eyed us with as much wonder as if we had risen from the
dead. I asked for some citrons, which I devoured while changing my
clothes. Though completely knocked up, I set out immediately for
Interlachen, to reassure those who were awaiting me there. At the foot
of the Grindelwald hill, I stopped at Pierre Bohren's châlet to pay a
visit to his wife, who held in her arms an infant only a few days old. I
embraced it and promised to be its godmother.

"About midway between Grindelwald and Interlachen, we were overtaken by
a storm as violent as that which had heralded our departure.

"The guides, therefore, had made no mistake. We should have experienced
this tempest among the loftiest summits of the Alps, if we had continued
our excursion.

"When I rose next morning, my face was one great wound, and for a long
time I endured the keenest sufferings. Not less fatigued than myself,
the guides at length arrived singing, and brought me a superb diploma
upon official paper."[3]

       *       *       *       *       *

The princess afterwards travelled in Greece, where she received an
enthusiastic welcome, and ovations were offered to her as to a
sovereign. Everybody did homage to the bright and generous author of "La
Nationalité Hellénique,"--the liberal and zealous advocate of the
rights, the manners, the character, and the future of Greece. But of
nationalities she was always the defender, and her wide sympathies
embraced not only the Greeks, but the Albanians and the Slavs.

After having studied the antiquities of Athens, undertaken sundry
scientific and archæological excursions into Attica, and enjoyed a
delightful intercourse at Athens with kindred spirits--such as Frederika
Bremer--she traversed the nomarchies, or provinces, of the kingdom of
Greece, with the view of obtaining an exact and comprehensive account of
the moral and material condition of the rural population.

As M. Pommier remarks, this long excursion in a country which offers no
facilities to travellers, and where one must always be on horseback,
could not be accomplished without displaying a courage unexampled, an
heroic perseverance, and a physical and moral strength equal to every
trial. She had to undergo the strain of daily fatigue and the heat of a
scorching sun; to fear neither barren rocks, nor precipices, nor
dangerous pathways, nor brigands. In spite of the counsels of prudence
and of a timorous affection, the intrepid traveller would not omit any
portion of her itinerary; she traversed successively into Boeotia,
Phocis, Ætolia, and the Peloponnesus. When the mountaineers of Laconia
saw her passing on horseback through the savage gorges, they cried out
in their enthusiasm, "Here is a Spartan woman!" And they invited her to
put herself at their head and lead them to Constantinople.

From Greece she went into Italy, in 1861, and took up her residence,
where she has ever since remained, at Florence. Garibaldi has saluted as
his sister this ardent champion of the rights of nationalities, who, to
this day, has continued her philanthropic exertions. In 1867, she
published "La Nazionalità Albanese secondo i Canti popolari;" in 1869,
"Discours sur Marco Polo;" in 1870, "Venise en 1867;" in 1871-1873, "Gli
Albanesi in Rumenia," a history of the princely family of the Ghikas
from the 17th century; in 1871, a couple of novels, "Eleanora de
Hallingen," and "Ghizlaine;" in 1877, "La Poésie des Ottomans;" and in
1878, "The Condition of Women among the Southern Slavs."

The princess, besides plunging into historical labours, sedulously
cultivates the Fine Arts, and is moreover a first-rate pistol-shot. A
true Albanian, she loves arms, and handles them skilfully.

It cannot be denied, that she deserves her splendid reputation. Any one
of her works, says a French critic, would make a man famous; and they
are unquestionably marked by all the characteristics of an independent
and observant mind. But it is her life that best justifies her
renown--her life with its purity, its enthusiasm, its zeal for the
oppressed, its intense love of knowledge, its vivid sympathies and broad
charities, and its constant striving after truth and freedom, and the
highest beauty.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] A pseudonym derived from the ancient name of the Danube--Ister.

[2] The chief of which are: "La Vie Monastique dans l'Eglise Orientale,"
1855; "La Suisse Allemande," 1856; "Les Héros de la Roumanie;" "Les
Roumains et la Papauté" (in Italian); "Excursions en Roumélie et en
Morée," 1863; "Les Femmes de l'Orient," 1858; "Les Femmes d'Occident;"
"Les Femmes, par une Femme," 1865.

[3] See the princess's "La Suisse Allemande et l'Ascension du Mönch." 4
vols., 1856.



THE PRINCESS OF BELGIOJOSO.


A French writer observes, that in an age like ours, when firm
convictions and settled beliefs are rare, it is no small satisfaction to
have to record a career like that of the Princess of Belgiojoso--a
career specially illustrious, because, above all things, honourable. But
truly great minds, to paraphrase some words of Georges Sand, are always
good minds.

The princess's chief titles to distinction are as a vigorous writer and
a liberal thinker; she did not qualify herself for a place among great
female travellers until unhappy events exiled her from her country.

Christina Trivulzia, Princess of Belgiojoso, was born on the 28th of
June, 1808. At the early age of sixteen she was married to the Prince
Emile de Barbian de Belgiojoso. She died in 1871.

Passionately devoted to the cause of a "free Italy," she was unable to
live under the heavy yoke of the Austrian supremacy, and hastened to
establish herself at Paris, where her rank, her fortune, her love of
letters and the arts, and the boldness of her political opinions, made
her the attraction of the highest society. She formed an intimate
acquaintance with numerous great writers and celebrated statesmen,
particularly of Mignet and Augustin Thierry, whose daily diminishing
liberalism she rapidly and boldly outstripped. In 1848 she plunged with
all the ardour of an enthusiastic nature--a child of the warm
South--into that wild revolutionary movement which swept over almost
every country in Europe, rolling from the Alps to the Carpathians, from
Paris to Berlin. She hastened to Milan, which had expelled its Austrian
garrison, and at her own expense equipped two hundred horse, whom she
led against the enemy. But Italy was not then united; she was not strong
enough to encounter her oppressor; the bayonets of Radetzky re-imposed
the Austrian domination; the princess was compelled to fly, and her
estates were confiscated.

During the insurrectionary fever at Rome, in 1849, she fearlessly made
her way into the very midst of the fighting-men, and in her own person
directed the ambulances. Her love of freedom and her humanity were
rewarded by banishment from the territories of the Church. As she could
nowhere in Italy hope for a secure resting-place, she resolved to reside
for the future in the East, and, repairing to Constantinople, she
founded there a benevolent institution for the daughters of emigrants.

But in a short time she withdrew from European Turkey, and at
Osmandjik, near Sinope, laid the foundations of a model farm. In 1850
she published in a French journal, the _National_, her memorials of
Veile; and as a relief to the stir and unrest of politics, she wrote, in
the following year, her "Notions d'Histoire à l'usage des Enfants"
(1851). The narrative of her journey in Asia Minor appeared at a later
date in the well-known pages of the _Revue des deux Mondes_.

Having recovered possession of her estates, thanks to the amnesty
proclaimed by the Emperor Francis Joseph, she sought in literary labour
a field for the activity of her restless intellect. Balzac points to
that great female artist and republican, the Duchess of San-Severins, in
Stendhal's "La Chartreuse de Parme," as a portrait of the princess.
Whether this be so or not, she was assuredly one of the most conspicuous
and original figures of the time.

Her chief title to literary reputation rests upon her "Études sur
l'Asie-Mineure et sur les Turcs." In reference to these luminous and
eloquent sketches, a critic says: "I have read many works descriptive of
Mussulman manners, but have never met with one which gave so exact and
full an idea of Oriental life." But in the princess's writings we must
not seek for those richly coloured pictures, those highly decorative
paintings in which style plays the principal part--pictures composed for
effect, and entirely indifferent to accuracy of detail or truth of
composition. She never seeks to dazzle or beguile the reader; her
language is direct and vigorous and full of vitality because it always
embodies the truth.

No one has shown a juster appreciation of that strange Eastern
institution, the harem, though it is no easy thing to form a clear and
impartial judgment upon a system so alien to Western ideas and revolting
to Christian morality. A vast amount of unprofitable rhetoric has been
expended upon this subject. Let us turn to the princess's discriminative
statement of facts.

After explaining the many points of contrast between the people of the
East and the people of the West, she continues:--

"Of all the virtues held in repute by Christian society, hospitality is
the only one which the Mussulmans think themselves bound to practise.
Where duties are few, it is natural they should be greatly respected.
The Orientals, therefore, have recognized in its highest form this sole
and unique virtue, this solitary constraint which they have agreed to
impose upon themselves.

"Unfortunately, every virtue which is content with appearances is
subject to sudden changes. This is what has happened--is happening
to-day--in respect of Oriental hospitality. A Mussulman will never be
consoled for having failed to observe the laws of hospitality. Take
possession of his house; turn him out of it; leave him to stand in the
rain or sun at his own door; plunder his store-rooms; use up his
supplies of coffee and brandy; upset and pile one upon another his
carpets, his mattresses, his cushions; break his crystal; ride his
horses, and even founder them if it seems good to you--he will not
utter a word of reproach, for you are a _monzapi_, a guest,--it is Allah
himself who has sent you, and whatever you do, you are and will ever be
welcome. All this is admirable; but if a Mussulman finds the means of
appearing as hospitable as laws and customs require, without sacrificing
an obolus, or even while gaining a large sum of money, fie upon virtue,
and long live hypocrisy! And such is the case ninety-nine times out of a
hundred. Your host overwhelms you while you sojourn beneath his roof;
but if at your departure you do not pay him twenty times the value of
what he has given you, he will wait until you have crossed his
threshold, and consequently doffed your sacred title of _monzapi_, to
throw stones at you.

"It goes without saying that I speak of the rude multitude, and not of
the simple honest hearts who love the good because they find it
pleasant, and practise it because in practising it they taste a secret
enjoyment. My old mufti of a Tcherkess is one of these. His house, like
all good houses in Eastern countries, consists of an inner division
reserved for women and children, and an outer pavilion, containing a
summer-saloon, and a winter-saloon, with one or two rooms for servants.
The winter-saloon is a pretty apartment heated by a good stove, covered
with thick carpets, and passably furnished with silken and woollen
divans arranged all round the apartment.

"As for the furniture of the summer-saloon, it consists of a leaping,
shining fountain in the centre, to which are added, when circumstances
require it, cushions and mattresses on which to sit or recline. There
are neither windows, nor doors, nor any kind of barrier, between the
exterior and the interior. My old mufti, who, at the age of ninety,
possesses numerous wives, the oldest of whom is only thirty, and
children of all ages, from the baby of six months, up to the
sexagenarian, professes the repugnance of good taste for the noise,
disorder, and uncleanness of the harem. He repairs there every day, as
he goes to his stable to see and admire his horses; but he dwells and he
sleeps, according to the season, in one or other of the saloons. The
good fellow understood that if long habit had not rendered the
inconveniences of the harem tolerable to himself, it would be still
worse for me, freshly disembarked from that land of enchantments and
refinements which men here call 'Franguistan.' So at the outset he
informed me that he would not relegate me to that region of obscurity
and confusion, smoke and infection, named the harem, but would give up
to me his own apartment. I accepted it with gratitude. As for himself,
he took up his abode in the summer-saloon. Though it was the end of
January, and snow was deep on the ground, both in town and country, he
preferred his frozen fountain, his damp pavement and draughts of air, to
the hot, but unwholesome, atmosphere of the harem.

"Perhaps I destroy a few illusions, in speaking of the harem with so
little respect. We have all read of it in 'The Thousand and One Nights,'
and other Oriental stories; we have been told that it is the
dwelling-place of Love and Beauty; we are authorized to believe that the
written descriptions, though exaggerated and embellished, are
nevertheless founded upon reality, and that in this mysterious retreat
are to be found all the marvels of luxury, art, magnificence and
pleasure. How far from the truth! Picture to yourself walls black and
full of chinks, wooden ceilings, split in many places and dark with dust
and spiders' webs, sofas torn and greasy, door-hangings in tatters,
traces of oil and candle-grease everywhere. When for the first time I
set foot in one of these supposed charming nooks, I was shocked; but the
mistresses of the house detected nothing. Their persons are in harmony
with the surroundings. Mirrors being very rare, the women bedizen
themselves with tinsel, the bizarre effect of which they have no means
of appreciating.

"They stick a number of diamond pins and other precious stones in the
handkerchiefs of printed cotton which they twist around their head. To
their hair they pay no attention, and none but the great ladies who have
resided in the capital have any combs. As for the many-coloured ointment
which they use so immoderately, they can regulate its application only
by consulting one another, and as the women occupying the same house are
all rivals, they willingly encourage one another in the most grotesque
daubs of colouring. They put vermilion on the lips, rouge on the cheeks,
nose, forehead and chin, white anywhere to fill up, blue round the eyes
and under the nose. But strangest of all is the manner in which they
tint the eyebrows. They have undoubtedly been told that, to be
beautiful, the eyebrow should form a well-defined arch, and hence they
have concluded that the greater the arch the greater will be the beauty,
without asking if the place of that arch were not irrevocably fixed by
nature. Such being the case, they give up to their eyebrows the whole
space between the temples, and paint the forehead with two wide arches,
which, starting from the origin of the nose, extend, one on each side,
as far as the temple. Some eccentric beauties prefer the straight line
to the curve, and describe a great streak of black all across the
forehead; but they are few in number.

"Most deplorable is the influence of this painting when combined with
the sloth and uncleanness natural to the women of the East. Each
feminine countenance is a work of high art that cannot be reconstructed
every morning. It is the same with the hands and feet, which, variegated
with orange, fear the action of water as injurious to their beauty. The
multitude of children and servants, especially of negresses, who people
the harems, and the footing of equality on which mistresses and
attendants live, are also aggravating causes of the general
uncleanliness. I shall not speak of the children--everybody knows their
manners and customs--but consider for a moment what would become of our
pretty European furniture if our cooks and maids-of-all-work rested from
their labours on our settees and fauteuils, with their feet on our
carpets, and their back against our hangings. Remember, too, that glass
windows in Asia are still but curiosities; that most of the windows are
filled up with oiled paper, and that where corn-paper is scarce the
windows are blocked up, and light enters only by the chimney--light more
than sufficient for the inmates to drink and smoke by and to apply the
whip to refractory children--the only occupations during the day of the
mortal houris of faithful Mussulmans. Let not the reader suppose,
however, that an Egyptian darkness prevails in these windowless
apartments. The houses being all of one story, the chimneys being very
wide and not rising above the level of the roof, it often happens that
by stooping a little in front of the chimney-place you see the sky
through the opening. What these apartments are really deficient in is
air; but the ladies are far from making any complaint. Naturally chilly,
and having no means of warming themselves by exercise, they remain for
hours at a time huddled on the ground before the fire, and cannot
understand that a visitor is almost choked by the atmosphere. If
anything recalls to my mind these artificial caverns, crowded with
tattered women and noisy children, I feel ready to faint."

       *       *       *       *       *

The princess does not, on the whole, speak unfavourably of the Turkish
character. Perhaps the reader would judge it more severely; but still
the consensus of the best authorities supports the view taken by the
princess, and it is the governing-class, rather than the masses, that
seems to justify the general dislike. Of Turkish officials it would be
difficult, perhaps, to say anything too severe; the ordinary Turk,
however, has many good qualities, which need only the stimulus of good
government for their happy development. As to the governing-class, their
vices are the natural result of the corruption of the harems, and until
these are reformed, it is useless to expect any elevation of the low
moral standard which now unfortunately prevails among the pashas.

The Turkish people, if less enlightened than other European nations, are
not without qualities that demand recognition. They are temperate,
hospitable, and orderly. They are faithful husbands and good wives.

The Turkish peasant is at once father, husband, and lover to his wife,
whom he never contradicts willingly and knowingly, and there is little
to which he will not submit in the depth of his affection for her.

In these climates, and under the influence of coarse and unwholesome
food, the woman ages early; whereas the man, better constituted to
endure fatigue and privation, preserves his vigour almost to the last
unimpaired. Nothing is more common here than to see an old man of eighty
and odd surrounded by little children who are his flesh and bone. In
spite of this disproportion between man and woman, the union, contracted
almost in childhood, is only dissolved by death. The Princess de
Belgiojoso tells us that she has seen hideous, decrepit, and infirm
women tenderly cared for and adored by handsome old men, straight as the
mountain pine, with beard silvered but long and thick, and eyes bright,
clear, and serene.

One day, our traveller met an old woman, blind and paralytic, whom her
husband brought to her in the hope that the princess would restore her
sight and power of movement.

The woman was seated astride an ass, which her husband led by the
bridle. On arriving, he took her in his arms, deposited her on a bench
near the door, and installed her on a heap of cushions with all the
solicitude of a mother for her child.

"You ought to be very fond of your husband," said the princess to the
blind woman.

"I should like to be able to see clearly," answered she. The princess
looked at the husband, he smiled sadly, but without any shadow of
ill-will.

"Poor woman," he remarked, passing the back of his hand over his eyes,
"her blindness renders her very unhappy. She cannot accustom herself to
it But you will give her back her sight, will you not, Bessadée?"

As the Princess Christina shook her head, and began to protest her
powerlessness, he plucked the skirt of her robe and made her a sign to
be silent.

"Have you any children?"

"Alas! I had one, but he died a long time ago."

"And how is it you have not taken another wife, as your law allows--a
strong and healthy woman who might have brought you children?"

"Ah, that is easily said; but this poor creature would have been sadly
vexed, and then I could not have been happy with another, not even if
she had brought me children. You see, Bessadée, we cannot have
everything in this world. I have a wife whom I have loved for nearly
forty years, and I shall make no second choice."

The man who spoke thus was a Turk. His wife was as much his property as
a piece of furniture; none of his neighbours would have blamed, no law
would have punished him, if he had got rid by any violent means of his
useless burden. Happily, the character of the Turkish people neutralizes
much of what is pernicious and odious in their customs and creed. They
possess at bottom a wonderful quality of goodness, of gentleness, of
simplicity, a remarkable instinct of reverence for that which is good
and beautiful, of respect for that which is weak. This instinct has
resisted, and will, let us hope, continue to resist, the influence of
injurious institutions founded exclusively upon individual selfishness
and the right of the strong hand. If you would understand the mildness
and the serenity which are natural to the Turk, you must observe the
peasant among his fields, or at the market, or on the threshold of a
café. Seedtime and harvest, the price of grain, the condition of his
family--these are the invariable topics of his simple childlike
conversation. He never raises his voice in anger, never lets drop a
pleasantry which might wound or even fatigue his companions, never
indulges in those profanities and indecencies unhappily too common in
the speech of the lower orders in European countries. This admirable
reticence, this nobility and simplicity of manner, do they owe it to
education? Not at all; it is the gift of nature. In some respects nature
has been very liberal to the Turkish people; but all the gifts she has
bestowed upon them, their institutions tend to debase and invalidate.
And in proportion as we carry our observations above the classes which
so happily preserve their primitive characteristics, to the
_bourgeoisie_, or into regions higher still, so shall we find the growth
and development of vice; it extends, predominates, and finally reigns
alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

The peculiar interest and permanent value of the writings of the
Princess de Belgiojoso are due to the fact that they owe nothing to
received ideas. Moreover, she indulges in no conjectures regarding the
subjects she takes up, she has investigated them carefully, and
understands them thoroughly. In each page of her work upon Turkey we
meet with calm statements of established facts which overthrow the
speculations and fancies too often found in works of great popularity
from the pen of distinguished writers. It is the truth she speaks; and
her influence is all the greater because she makes no effort to convince
or impose upon her readers; she writes gravely and deliberately, without
passion and without imagination.

A few facts from the princess's pages will not be without interest for
the reader, at a time when "the unspeakable Turk" is the object of so
much public discussion.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Passing through one of the streets of Pera (the European suburb), I was
arrested by a score of persons grouped round a _gavas_ (a kind of civic
guard) who was endeavouring to persuade a negress to be conducted to the
palace where she was expected, and where, he told her, she would meet
with all the pleasures imaginable. The negress answered only with sobs,
and the cry, 'Kill me rather!' The _gavas_ resumed his enthusiastic and
fanciful descriptions of the good bed, the good cheer, the fine clothes,
the pipe always alight, the floods of coffee, all the delights which
would convert this prison into a complete paradise. For half-an-hour I
listened to the discussion, and when I went on my way no decision had
been arrived at. I asked a kind of _valet de place_ who accompanied me,
why the _gavas_ lost his time in attempting to convince the negress,
instead of forcibly conveying her to her destination. 'A woman!' was his
answer, completely scandalized by my question, and I began to suspect
that the Turks were not such brutes as they are popularly supposed to be
in Europe."

       *       *       *       *       *

"The following anecdote also relates to my residence at Constantinople.
A woman, a Marseillaise by birth but married to a Mussulman, was
engaged in a law-suit on some matter which I have forgotten; but I know
that her adversaries grounded their hopes and pretensions on a document
which they had placed in the judge's hands. Informed of this
circumstance, the Marseillaise repaired to the Cadi, and begged him to
acquaint her with its contents. Nothing could be more reasonable. The
Cadi took the paper, and prepared to read it to her; but he had scarcely
perched his glasses on his nose when the lady leaped forward, sprang at
his throat, seized the paper, put it in her pocket, made her obeisance,
and calmly passed out through the vestibule, which was filled with
slaves and servants. The Marseillaise defied her opponents to produce
any written document in their favour, and she won her cause. When this
story was told to me, I remarked that the judge must have been bribed by
the Marseillaise, since nothing could have been easier for him than, if
he wished it, to have her arrested by his guards, and deprived of the
paper which she had carried off with so much audacity. Again I received
the answer: 'But she was a woman!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Among female travellers the Princess of Belgiojoso must hold an
honourable place, in virtue of the accuracy of her observation and the
clearness of her judgment. Moreover, she is always impartial: she has no
preconceived theories to support, and consequently she is at liberty
neither to extenuate nor set down aught in malice. In picturesqueness of
description she has been excelled by many, in soberness and correctness
of statement by none; and, after all, it is more important that our
travellers should tell us what they have really seen, than what they
would have wished to see; should trust to their intelligence as
observers rather than to their fancy as poets.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note on the Harem, or Harum._--It is curious to compare with the
princess's disillusionizing account of a harem, such a poetical and
romantic description as the following, in which it becomes a bower of
beauty, tenanted by an Oriental Venus:--

       *       *       *       *       *

"The lady of the harum--couched gracefully on a rich Persian carpet
strewn with soft billowy cushions--is as rich a picture as admiration
ever gazed on. Her eyes, if not as dangerous to the heart as those of
our country, where the sunshine of intellect gleams through a heaven of
blue, are, nevertheless, perfect in their kind, and at least as
dangerous to the senses. Languid, yet full, brimful of life; dark, yet
very lustrous; liquid, yet clear as stars; they are compared by their
poets to the shape of the almond and the bright timidness of the
gazelle. The face is delicately oval, and its shape is set off by the
gold-fringed turban, the most becoming head-dress in the world; the
long, black, silken tresses are braided from the forehead, and hang
wavily on each side of the face, falling behind in a glossy cataract,
that sparkles with such golden drops as might have glittered upon
Danaë, after the Olympian shower. A light tunic of pink or pale blue
crape is covered with a long silk robe, open at the bosom, and buttoned
thence downward to the delicately slippered little feet, that peep
daintily from beneath the full silken trousers. Round the loins, rather
than the waist, a cashmere shawl is loosely wrapt as a girdle, and an
embroidered jacket, or a large silk robe with loose open sleeves,
completes the costume. Nor is the fragrant water-pipe, with its long
variegated serpent, and its jewelled mouth-piece, any detraction from
the portrait.

"Picture to yourself one of Eve's brightest daughters, in Eve's own
loving land. The woman-dealer has found among the mountains that
perfection in a living form which Praxiteles scarcely realized, when
inspired fancy wrought out its ideal in marble. Silken scarfs, as richly
coloured and as airy as the rainbow, wreathe her round, from the snowy
breast to the finely rounded limbs half buried in billowy cushions; the
attitude is the very poetry of repose, languid it may be, but glowing
life thrills beneath that flower-soft exterior, from the varying cheek
and flashing eye, to the henna-dyed taper fingers, that capriciously
play with her rosary of beads. The blaze of sunshine is round her kiosk,
but _she_ sits in the softened shadow so dear to the painter's eye. And
so she dreams away the warm hours in such a calm of thought within, and
sight or sound without, that she starts when the gold-fish gleam in the
fountain, or the breeze-ruffled roses shed a leaf upon her
bosom."--Eliot Warburton, "The Crescent and the Cross," etc. etc.

As European gentlemen are never admitted to the harem, it is hardly
credible that Major Warburton could have had an opportunity of seeing
the beauty which he paints in such glowing colours.



MADAME HOMMAIRE DE HELL.

I.


Not only as a persevering and enlightened traveller, but as a poet,
Madame Hommaire de Hell has gained distinction. It is in the former
capacity that she claims a place in these pages.

She was born at Artois, in 1819. While she was still an infant, her
mother died; but it was her good fortune to find in the love of an only
sister no inadequate substitute for maternal affection. Her father seems
to have been one of those individuals whom Fortune tosses to and fro
with pertinacious ill-humour; moreover, he had something of the nomad in
his temperament, and without any real or sufficient motive, moved from
place to place, entailing upon his young family sudden and burdensome
journeys. Before Adela was seven years old, she had been carried from
Franche-Comté into the Bourbonnais, thence into Auvergne, and thence to
Paris. She was afterwards placed in a boarding-school at Saint-Maudé,
but her father's death restored her to her sister's guardianship at
Saint-Etienne.

A short time after her arrival in this town, she attracted the attention
of Xavier Hommaire de Hell, since so justly celebrated as a traveller
and a scientist. He fell passionately in love with her, and though she
was but fifteen years of age, and had no fortune, he rested not until
his family gave their consent to his marriage.

To provide for his child-wife he obtained an office in the railway
administration, but only temporarily, for already he had made up his
mind to seek fortune and reputation in some foreign country. He pushed
his solicitations with so much energy that, in the first year of his
wedded life, he secured an appointment under the Turkish Government. His
wife, to whom a child had just been given, was unable to accompany him.
The pain of separation was very great, but both knew that in France
there was no present opening for his talents, and both were agreed that
their separation should not be for long. And, indeed, before the end of
the year, Madame de Hell clasped her babe to her bosom, and set out to
join her husband.

Her poetical faculties were first stimulated by her voyage to the East.
Previously she had cherished a deep love for nature, for the music of
verse, for nobility of thought, but had made no attempt to define and
record her impressions. The isles and shores of the Mediterranean, with
their myriad charms and grand historic associations:--

    "That great mid-sea that moans with memories,"[4]

loosened her genius, so to speak, and stimulated her to clothe her
feelings and sentiments in a metrical form. It is not difficult to
understand the effect which, on a warm imagination and sensitive
temperament, that richly-coloured panorama of "the isles of Greece," and
that exquisite prospect of Constantinople and the Golden Horn, would
necessarily produce. For some time, as she herself tells us, she lived
in a kind of moral and intellectual intoxication; she was absorbed in an
ideal world, which bewildered while it delighted her.

The plague was then dealing heavily with the unfortunate Mussulman
populations, but it did not terrify our enthusiastic travellers; as if
they bore a charmed life, they went to and fro, seeing whatever was fine
or memorable, and yet all unable to satisfy that thirst for beauty which
the beautiful around them had excited. Madame de Hell was under the
influence of a subtle spell; her quick fancy was profoundly impressed by
the picturesque aspects of Oriental life, by its glow of colour and
grace of form, so different from the commonplace and monotonous
realities of the West. She seemed to be living in the old days of the
Khalifs--those days which the authors of the "Thousand and One Stories"
have immortalized--to be living, for example, in the "golden prime of
good Haroun Al-Raschid"--as she saw before her the motley procession of
veiled women, Persians with their pointed bonnets, Hindu jugglers with
lithe lissom figures, negro slaves, grey-bearded beggars looking like
princes in disguise, and Armenians wrapped in their long furred cloaks.
She delighted, accompanied by her husband, to explore the silent
recesses of the hilly and almost solitary streets in the less frequented
quarters of Stamboul, where a latticed window or a half-open door would
suggest a romance of love and mystery, or a vision of some gorgeous
palace interior, of

            "Carven cedarn doors,
    Flung inward over spangled floors,
    Broad basëd flights of marble stairs,
    Run up with golden balustrade."

When Madame de Hell visited the East, it was considered dangerous for
Franks to venture into the streets of Constantinople, and they occupied
only the suburbs of Pera and Galata, which were exclusively made over to
the Christian population, and separated from the Mussulman city by the
arm of the sea known as the Golden Horn. And as in those days, which
were long before the introduction of Mr. Cook's "personally conducted
tours," tourists were few, the presence of a "giaour" in the Mohammedan
quarter was an extraordinary event. Those who should have fallen in with
our two young adventurers, their eager gaze roving everywhere in quest
of new discoveries, strolling hither and thither like two children out
for a holiday, would never for one moment have supposed that a terrible
pestilence was raging through the city, and nowhere more fatally than in
the very districts they had chosen for their explorations. But perhaps
the danger from disease was not so imminent as the peril they incurred
in penetrating into the chosen territory of Islam. Fortune favoured
them, however, or their frank bearing disarmed fanaticism, and they
escaped without molestation or even insult.

As Monsieur and Madame de Hell resided for a year in Constantinople, it
is needless to say they remained long enough for the glamour to
disappear, in which at first their lively imaginations had invested
everything around them. The gorgeous visions vanished, and their eyes
were opened to the hard realities of Mohammedan ignorance, bigotry and
misgovernment. They learned, perhaps, that the order and freedom of
Western civilization are infinitely more valuable than the
picturesqueness of Oriental society. In 1838 they set out for Odessa,
where Monsieur de Hell hoped to obtain a position worthy of his talents.
The future of the young couple rested wholly on a letter of
recommendation to General Potier, by whom they were warmly welcomed. The
general, who owned a large estate in the neighbourhood, where he
cultivated a famous breed of Merino sheep, had formed a project for
erecting mills upon the Dnieper. To carry it out he needed an engineer,
and in M. Hommaire de Hell he found one. Straightway they proceeded to
his estate at Kherson, and M. de Hell set to work on the necessary
plans. While thus engaged, he conceived the idea of a scientific
expedition to the Caspian Sea--a basin of which little was then known to
our geographers--and this idea held him so firmly that, a few months
later, he gave up his employment in order to realize it. In one of his
excursions to the cataracts of the Dnieper, where the mills were to be
erected, his geological knowledge led him to the discovery of the rich
veins of an iron mine, which has since been profitably worked.

"This period of my life," wrote Madame de Hell, afterwards, "spent in
the midst of the steppes, remote from any town, appears to me now in so
calm, tender, and serene a light, that the slightest memorial of it
moves me profoundly. Only to see the shore where we passed whole days in
seeking for shells, only to hear the sound of the great waves rolling on
the sandbanks and among the seaweed, only to recall a single one of the
impressions of that happy epoch, I would willingly repeat the voyage."

       *       *       *       *       *

For his great scientific expedition, M. de Hell made vigorous
preparations during the winter of 1838, and having obtained from Count
Vorontzov, the governor of New Russia, strong letters of recommendation
to the governors and officials of the provinces he would have to
traverse, he and his wife started in the middle of May, 1839,
accompanied by a Cossack, and an excellent dragoman, who spoke all the
dialects current in Southern Russia.

Their journey through the country of the Don Cossacks we shall pass
over, as offering nothing of special novelty or interest, and take up
Madame de Hell's narrative at the point of her arrival on the banks of
the Volga.

"A dull white line," she says, "scarcely perceptible through the gloom,
announced the presence of the great river. We followed its course all
night, catching a glimpse of it from time to time by the faint glimmer
of the stars, and by the lights of the fishermen's lanterns flashing
here and there along its banks. There was an originality in the scene
that strongly affected the imagination. Those numerous lights, flitting
from point to point, were like the will-o'-the-wisps that beguile the
belated traveller; and then the Kalmuk encampments with their black
masses that seemed to glide over the surface of the steppe, the darkness
of the night, the speed with which our troika (set of three) carried us
over the boundless plain, the shrill tinkle of the horse-bells, and,
above all, the knowledge that we were in the land of the Kalmuks,
wrought us up to a state of nervous excitement that made us see
everything in the hues of fancy.

"At daybreak our eyes were turned eagerly towards the Volga, that
flashed in the glories of the morning sky. From the elevation we had
reached we could survey the whole country; and it may easily be
conceived with what admiration we gazed upon the calm majestic river,
and on its multitude of islands, fringed with aspen and alder. On the
other side, the steppes, where the Kirghiz and Kalmuks encamp, extended
as far as the eye could reach, till limited by a horizon as smooth and
uniform as that of the ocean. It would be difficult to imagine a grander
picture, or one more entirely in harmony with the ideas evoked by the
Volga, to which its course of upwards of six hundred leagues assigns the
foremost place among European rivers."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the outset of her journey, Madame de Hell had exclaimed: "What
happiness it is to escape from the prosaic details of every-day life,
from social obligations, from the dull routine of habit, to take one's
flight towards the almost unknown shores of the Caspian! It is strange,
but it proves that my vocation is that of tourist, that what would daunt
the majority of women is really what charms me most in the forecast of
this journey."

Assuredly, the details of every-day life were left behind when the
courageous lady embarked upon the Volga, and set out for the famous city
of Astrakhan. All around her was new and strange, and each day, each
hour, brought before her eager mind some fresh subject of speculation.
She paid a visit to a Kalmuk prince, Prince Tumene, and found herself in
the midst of a new world. The prince's palace was built, she says, in
the Chinese style, and pleasantly situated on the green side of a
gentle slope, about one hundred feet from the Volga. Its numerous
galleries afforded views over every part of the island on which the
palace was situated, and commanded a long reach of the shining river.
From one angle the eye looked down on a mass of foliage embosoming the
glittering cupola and the golden ball above. Beautiful meadows, studded
with clumps of trees, and highly cultivated fields, spread out their
verdure to the left of the palace, and formed a succession of
landscapes, like pictures in a panorama. The whole was enlivened by the
figures of Kalmuk horsemen galloping to and fro, of camels wandering
here and there through the rich pastures, and officers conveying the
orders of their chief from tent to tent. The spectacle was imposing;
various in its details, but harmonious as a whole.

Madame de Hell was invited to visit the prince's sister-in-law, who,
during the summer season, resided in her kibitka in preference to the
palace. The curtain at the threshold of the pavilion having been raised,
she was ushered into a spacious room, lighted from above, and draped
with red damask, the reflection from which shed a glowing tint on every
object; the floor was covered with a rich Turkey carpet, and the air was
heavy with perfumes. In this rosy light and balmy atmosphere was seated
the princess, on a low platform at the further end of the tent, dressed
in shining robes and motionless as an idol. Around her, crouching on
their heels, were arranged some twenty women in full dress. Having
allowed Madame de Hell a few minutes to admire her, the princess slowly
descended the steps of the platform, approached with a dignified
bearing, took her by the hand, embraced her affectionately, and led her
to the seat she had just vacated. Through the medium of an Armenian
interpreter a brief conversation followed, after which she made signs
that dancing should begin. One of the ladies of honour then rose and
performed a few steps, turning slowly upon herself; while another, who
remained seated, drew forth from a balalaika (an Oriental guitar)
certain doleful sounds, ill-adapted to the movements of a dancer. Nor
were the attitudes and movements of her companion so much those of the
dance as of the pantomime. There was evidently a meaning in them, though
Madame de Hell could not unravel it. The young _figurante_ frequently
extended her arms and threw herself on her knees, as if in invocation of
some unseen power.

The performance lasted for some considerable time, and Madame de Hell
had ample opportunity of scrutinizing the princess, and of coming to the
conclusion that her high reputation for beauty was not undeserved. Her
figure was imposing and well-proportioned. The lips, beautifully arched
and closing over pearly teeth; the countenance, expressive of great
sweetness; the skin, of a brownish tint, but exquisitely delicate, would
entitle her to be considered a very handsome woman, even in France, if
the outline of her face and the arrangement of her features--the
oblique eyes, the prominent cheek-bones--had been less pronouncedly
Kalmuk.

A word as to her costume. Over a costly robe of Persian stuff, laced all
over with silver, she wore a light silk tunic, open in front, and
descending only to the knee. The high corsage was quite flat, and
glittered with silver embroidery and fine pearls that covered every
seam. Round her neck she wore a white cambric habit-shirt, in shape not
unlike a man's collar (forty years ago), and fastened in front by a
diamond button. Her luxuriant deep black hair fell over her bosom in two
magnificent and remarkably long tresses. A yellow cap, edged with rich
fur, and fashioned like the square cap of a French judge, was set
jauntily on the crown of her head. But in her costume the two articles
that most surprised Madame de Hell were an embroidered cambric
handkerchief and a pair of black mittens, significant proofs that the
products of the French loom found their way even to the toilet of a
Kalmuk lady. Among the princess's ornaments must not be forgotten a
large gold chain, which, after being twisted round her glossy tresses,
was passed through her gold earrings and then allowed to fall upon her
bosom.

       *       *       *       *       *

Madame de Hell was afterwards entertained with a specimen of Kalmuk
horsemanship. The moment she came out into the open, five or six mounted
men, armed with long lassoes, rushed into the middle of the _taboon_, or
herd of horses, collected for the purpose, keeping their eyes
constantly on the princess's son, Madame de Hell's companion, who was to
point out the animal they should seize.

At the signal, they immediately galloped forward and noosed a young
horse with long dishevelled mane, whose dilated eyes and smoking
nostrils revealed his inexpressible terror. A lightly clad Kalmuk, who
followed them a-foot, sprang instantly upon the stallion, cut the thongs
that were throttling him, and engaged with him in a contest of
incredible agility and daring. It would scarcely be possible for any
spectacle more vividly to affect the mind than that now presented to
Madame de Hell's astonished gaze. Sometimes rider and horse rolled
together on the grass, sometimes they shot through the air with arrowy
speed, and then suddenly halted as if a wall had sprung up before them.
All at once the impetuous animal would crawl on its belly, or rear in a
manner that made the spectators shriek with terror, then, plunging
forward in a mad gallop, he would dash through the startled herd,
seeking by every possible means to rid himself of his unaccustomed
burden.

But this exercise, violent and perilous as it looked to Europeans,
seemed but sport to the Kalmuk, whose body followed every movement of
the animal with so much suppleness, that one might have supposed both
steed and rider to be animated by the same thought. The sweat poured in
profuse streams from the stallion's flanks, and he trembled in every
limb. As for the rider, his coolness would have put to shame the most
accomplished horseman in Europe. In the most critical moments he
contrived so far to retain his self-command as to wave his arms in token
of triumph; and, in spite of the passion and temper of his untrained
steed, held sufficient control over it to keep it always within the
circle of the spectators' vision. At a signal from the prince, two
horsemen, who had remained as close as possible to the daring centaur,
seized him with astonishing swiftness, and galloped away with him before
those who looked on could understand the new manoeuvre. The horse, for
a moment stupefied, soon darted away at full speed and was lost in the
midst of the herd. This exploit was several times repeated, and always
without the rider suffering himself to be thrown.

       *       *       *       *       *

Madame de Hell's account of the Kalmuks is, on the whole, very
favourable, while it shows how closely she studied their manners and
customs, and the habits of their daily life. As to physical details, she
says that the Kalmuks have eyes set obliquely, with eyelids little
opened, scanty black eyebrows, noses deeply depressed near the forehead,
prominent cheek bones, spare beards, thin moustaches, and a
brownish-yellow skin. The lips of the men are thick and fleshy, but the
women, particularly those of the higher classes--the "white bones," as
they are called--have heart-shaped mouths of more than ordinary beauty.
All have great ears, projecting strongly from the head, and their hair
is invariably black.

The Kalmuks are generally small, but with well-rounded figures and an
easy carriage. Very few deformed persons are seen among them; for, with
the wisdom of nature, they leave the development of their children's
frames unchecked, nor, indeed, do they put any garments upon them until
they reach the age of nine or ten. No sooner can they walk than they
mount on horseback, and address themselves vigorously to wrestling and
riding, the chief amusements of the tribes.

Like all who dwell upon vast plains, they enjoy an exceedingly keen
sight. An hour after sunset they can distinguish a camel at a distance
of upwards of three miles. Madame de Hell tells us that often when she
could see nothing but a point on the horizon, they would clearly make
out a horseman armed with lance and gun. They have also an extraordinary
faculty for tracing their way through the pathless wildernesses. Without
any apparent landmarks they would traverse hundreds of miles with their
flocks, and never deviate from the right course.

The costume of the common Kalmuks exhibits no decided peculiarity, apart
from the cap, which is invariably of yellow cloth trimmed with black
lambskin, and is worn by both sexes. Madame de Hell seems inclined to
think that some superstitious notions are connected with it, from the
difficulty she experienced in procuring a specimen. The trousers are
wide and open below. The well-to-do Kalmuks wear two long tunics, one of
which is fastened round the waist, but the usual dress consists only of
trousers and a jacket of skin with tight sleeves. The men shave a part
of their heads, and the rest of the hair is collected into a single
cluster, which hangs down on the shoulders. The women wear two tresses,
which is really the sole visible distinction of their sex. The princes
have adopted the Circassian costume, or the uniform of the Astrakhan
Cossacks, to which body some of them belong. The ordinary _chaussure_ is
red boots with very high heels and generally much too short. The Kalmuks
have almost as great a partiality for small feet as the Chinese, and, as
they are constantly on horseback, their short boots cause them no great
inconvenience. But for these reasons they are very bad pedestrians,
their "cribbed, cabined, and confined" foot-gear obliges them to walk on
their toes; and their distress is great when they have no horse to
mount.

Like all pastoral people, the Kalmuks live frugally, because their wants
are few, and their nomadic life is unfavourable to the growth of a
liking for luxuries. They live chiefly upon milk and butter, with tea
for their favourite beverage. Their bill of fare also includes meat, and
particularly horse-flesh, which they prefer to any other, but they do
not eat it raw, as some writers have pretended. As for cereals, which
Europeans value so highly, their use is scarcely known; it is at rare
intervals only that some of them buy bread or oatcake from the
neighbouring Russians. Their mode of preparing tea would not commend
itself to the denizens of Mayfair. It comes to them from China in the
shape of very hard bricks, composed of the leaves and coarsest portions
of the plant. After boiling it for a considerable time in water, they
add milk, butter, and salt. The infusion then acquires consistency, and
a dull red colour. "We tasted the beverage," says Madame de Hell, "at
Prince Tumene's, but must confess it was perfectly detestable.... They
say, however, that one easily gets accustomed to it, and eventually
learns to think it delicious. It has, however, one good quality. By
strongly stimulating perspiration it serves as an excellent preservative
against the effect of sudden chills. The Kalmuks drink it out of round
shallow little wooden vessels, to which they often attach a very high
value. I have seen several," adds our traveller, "which were priced at
two or three horses. They are generally made of roots brought from Asia.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the Kalmuks know nothing of
tea-kettles, and make their beverage in large iron pots. Next to tea,
they love spirituous liquors. From mare's milk or ass's milk they
manufacture a kind of brandy; but as it is a very feeble stimulant, they
eagerly seek after Russian liquors; and therefore, to prevent the fatal
consequences of their mania, the government has forbidden the
establishment of any dram-shops among their hordes. The women crave the
deadly liquor no less ardently than the men, but are so closely watched
by their lords and masters that they have few opportunities of indulging
the taste."

Among the Kalmuks, as among most Oriental peoples, the stronger sex
looks with contempt upon all household matters, abandoning them entirely
to the women; who work and take charge of the children, keep the tents
in order, make up the garments and furs of the family, and attend to the
cattle. The men hardly condescend to groom their horses; they hunt,
drink tea or brandy, doze about upon felts, and smoke or sleep. Add to
their daily occupations, if such they can be called, their joining in
occasional games, such as chess and knuckle-bones, and you have a
complete picture of the existence--we will not say life--of a Kalmuk
_paterfamilias_. At their laborious days, however, the women never
repine; they are accustomed to the burden, and bear it cheerfully; but
they age very early, and after a few years of wedlock, not only lose
their good looks, but acquire a coarseness of feature and a robustness
of figure which make it exceedingly difficult to distinguish them from
men. Nor is the difficulty lessened by the fact that the costume of both
sexes is closely alike.

At Astrakhan the most dangerous as well as the most arduous part of the
expedition of our two travellers began. They were compelled to carry
provisions with them, if they did not wish to perish of hunger on the
steppes. An escort was therefore necessary, and the Russian governor
selected for the post one of his best officers; a young man famed for
his skill as a hunter, and as the happy owner of a falcon from which he
would never separate. Satisfied with providing so competent a purveyor,
the governor, in presenting him to the travellers, said; "Now my
conscience is at rest! I give you a brave soldier to protect you, and a
travelling companion who will take care that you are not starved to
death in the desert."

From Astrakhan they pushed forward to Vladimirofka, a town on the Kuma,
which they entered with a good deal of pomp and circumstance. A
britchka, drawn by three camels, and carrying Monsieur and Madame de
Hell, led the van; then came a troop of four or five Cossacks, armed to
the teeth, and several Kalmuks guiding a train of camels loaded with
baggage. The Cossack officer, with falcon on wrist, and his long rifle
slung behind him, rode by the side of the carriage, ready, with
Muscovite precision, to transmit orders to the escort, and gallop off at
the slightest signal; whilst the dragoman lolled on the box-seat with a
fine air of contemptuous indifference to everything around him. After a
few days' rest and refreshment, they resumed their journey, advancing
rapidly towards the Caucasus, of which the highest summit, Mount Elburz,
from time to time afforded them a glimpse of its lofty head, which was
almost always shrouded in mist, as if to conceal it from the profane
gaze. Tradition avows that Noah's dove alighted on its peak, and plucked
thence the mystic branch which has ever since been hallowed as symbolic
of peace and hope.

"We were now," writes Madame de Hell, "in an enchanted region, though
but just beyond the verge of the steppes. The faint lines that chequered
the sky gradually assumed a greater distinctness of form and colour; at
first the mountains seemed so many light, transparent vapours, floating
upon the wind; but by degrees the airy vision developed into
forest-crowned mountains, deep shadowy gorges, and domes clothed with
mists. Our minds were almost overwhelmed with a multitude of emotions,
excited by the prodigal nature before us, the magnificent vegetation,
and the various hues of forest and mountain, peak, crag, ravine, and
snowy summits. It was beautiful, superbly beautiful, and then it was the
Caucasus! The Caucasus--a name associated with so many grand historic
memories, with the earliest traditions and most fabulous creeds--the
abode, in the world's grey morning, of the races whence have sprung so
many famous nations. Around it hangs all the vague poetry of the ages,
visible only to the imagination through the mysterious veil of
antiquity."

       *       *       *       *       *

At Georgief they rested on the threshold of the Caucasus. Thence they
proceeded to Piatigorsk, celebrated for its mineral waters. On the road
they fell in with a troop of Circassians. "I shall never forget," says
Madame de Hell, "the glances which they flung on our Cossacks as they
passed by, though it was only in looks they durst manifest the hatred
that seethed in their hearts against everything Russian. They were all
fully armed. Beneath their black bourkas glittered the sheen of their
pistols and their damasked poniards. I confess their appearance pleased
me most when they were just vanishing from sight on the summit of a
hill, where their martial figures were outlined against the sky. Seeing
them through the mist, I began to think of Ossian's heroes."

Piatigorsk is not so much a town as a pleasant cluster of
country-houses, inhabited for some months of the year by a rich
aristocracy. All about it is gay and pretty, and everywhere are those
signs of affluence which the Russian nobles love to see around them.
Nothing offends the eye; nothing touches the heart; there are no poor,
no squalid huts, no indication of the wretchedness of poverty. It is a
terrestrial Elysium, where great ladies and princes, courtiers and
generals, look out upon none but agreeable images, selected from all
that is charming in art and nature. Thermal springs are found on most of
the surrounding heights, and the works that afford access to them do
credit to the skill of the Russian engineers and the liberality of the
Russian government. On one of the loftiest peaks rises an octagonal
building, consisting of a cupola resting upon slender shapely columns,
which are encircled at their base by a graceful balustrade. The
interior, open on all sides, contains an Æolian harp, the melancholy
notes of which, blending with all the mountain echoes, descend softly to
the valley.

The route of our travellers, after quitting Piatigorsk, lay along the
broad deep valley of the Pod Kouwa, which, on the right, is bounded by
rocks piled one upon another, like billows suddenly petrified, and
bearing witness to some great upheaval in the past; on the left, tier
after tier of richly wooded mountains rise gradually to the majestic
chain of the Kazbek. Eventually the road leaves the valley, at a point
where it has become very narrow, and traverses a long sinuous ledge,
parallel with the course of the torrent, until it begins to enter the
mountains. Here the miry soil through which their horses had laboured
with much difficulty, and the grey sky, and the moist atmosphere that
had hitherto accompanied them, were at once exchanged for a dry air,
cold, dust, and sunshine. This sudden contrast is a phenomenon peculiar
to elevated regions.

Madame de Hell was strongly impressed by the wild picturesque character
of the scenery of this part of the Caucasus. At certain intervals,
conical mounds of earth, about sixty feet high, stood conspicuous--watch
towers, where sentinels are stationed day and night. Their outlines,
sharply marked against the sky, produce a curious and striking effect
amidst the profound solitude. The sight of these Cossacks, with muskets
shouldered, pacing up and down the small platform on the summit of each
eminence, conveyed to the spectator's mind a knowledge of the rapid
advance which Russian civilization had made into this remote region.

It was mid-October, but vegetation still retained its freshness. The
steep mountain sides were covered with rich greenswards, which afforded
abundant pasture for the scattered flocks of goats. Their keepers,
clothed in sheepskins, and carrying, instead of the traditional crook,
long guns slung across their shoulders, with two or three powder and
ball cases at their waists, seemed in strange contrast to the pastoral
sentiment of the landscape. Gigantic eagles, roused from their eyries,
swept with heavy wing from crag to crag, the monarchs of these
solitudes. Here our travellers really looked out upon those features of
the Caspian wilderness on which their imaginations had so often dwelt.

Of the Circassian inhabitants of this mountain region, before they were
completely subjugated by the despotism of the white Czar, Madame de Hell
furnishes a graphic account. Bred amid the sights and sounds of war they
went always well armed, carrying a rifle, a sabre, a long dagger, which
they wore in front, and a pistol in the belt. Their picturesque costume
consisted of tight pantaloons, and a short tunic, which was belted round
the waist, and had cartridge pockets worked on the breast; a round laced
cap, encircled with a black or white border of long-wooled sheepskin,
formed their head-gear. In cold or rainy weather, they wore a _bashlik_,
or hood, and a _bourka_, or cloak, of impervious felt. They were bold
and skilful riders, and their horses, though small, were remarkable for
spirit and endurance. It is well known that a Circassian horseman would
cover twenty-five or even thirty leagues of ground in a night. When
pursued by the Russians, they would leap the most rapid torrents. If
their steeds were young, and unaccustomed to such perilous exploits,
they would gallop them up to the brink of the ravine, cover the head
with their bourkas, and then dash, almost always without mishap, down
precipices from twenty to fifty feet in depth.

It is unnecessary to dwell on their address in the use of fire-arms and
of their two-edged daggers. Armed only with the latter weapon, they were
often known, during their long and heroic struggle for independence, to
leap their horses over the Muscovite bayonets, stab the soldiers, and
break up and put to flight their serried battalions. When surrounded in
their forts or villages, and shut out from all hope of escape, they
frequently sacrificed their wives and children--like the Jews in the
last agonies of their war with Rome--set fire to their dwellings, and
perished heroically in the flames. With true Oriental devotedness they
stand by their dead and wounded to the last extremity, and fight with
the most dogged courage to prevent them from falling into the hands of
the enemy.

Madame de Hell is not disposed to endorse the reputation for beauty
which so many writers have agreed in bestowing upon the Circassian
women. She considers them even inferior, physically, to the men. "It is
true," she says, "we were unable to visit any of the great centres of
population, or to travel amongst the independent tribes, but we saw
several _aouls_ on the banks of the Kouban, and were entertained in a
princely family, and nowhere did we meet with any of those surpassing
beauties whom more fortunate travellers have celebrated." What she _did_
observe in those daughters of the mountains was the elegance of their
shape and the natural grace of their movements. A Circassian woman is
never awkward. Dressed in rags or in brocade, she never fails to assume,
spontaneously and without thought of display, the most graceful and
picturesque attitudes. "In this respect," says Madame de Hell, "she is
unquestionably superior to the highest efforts of fascination which
Parisian art can achieve."

A visit to the family of a Circassian prince "at home" is thus narrated
by our travellers:

The dwelling was a wretched mud hut, in front of which, on a mat, lay
the prince in his shirt, and barefooted. He received his visitors very
hospitably, and after the usual courtesies proceeded to make his
toilette. He sent for his finest garments and costliest "leg gear,"
girded on his weapons, and then led the way into his "interior," which
was as bare and unfurnished as any Connemara peasant's cabin, the only
objects visible being a saddle, a few vessels, and a divan covered with
reed matting. His guests having rested for a few minutes, the prince
introduced them to his wife and daughter, who had been apprised of their
arrival, and were anxious to see them.

These ladies occupied a hut of their own, consisting, like the prince's,
of a single room. They rose at the entrance of their visitors, and
saluted them with much grace; then, motioning them to be seated, the
mother sat down in the Turkish fashion on her divan, while her daughter
reclined against the couch on which the strangers had taken their
places. They, when the reception was over, remarked with surprise that
the prince had not crossed the threshold, but had simply put his head in
at the door to answer their questions and converse with his wife. The
explanation afforded was, that a Circassian officer cannot, consistently
with honour, enter his wife's apartment during the day, and it seems
that in all families with the slightest pretension to distinction this
rule is rigorously observed.

A greater appearance of comfort was observable in the princess's
apartment than in her husband's, as might well be the case. It contained
two large divans, the silk cushions of which were gay with gold and
silver embroidery, carpets of painted felt, several trunks, and a very
pretty work-basket. A small Russian mirror and the prince's armorial
trophies formed the decoration of the walls. But the floor was not
boarded, the walls were rough plastered, and the only provision for
light and air were two little holes furnished with shutters. The
princess, a woman apparently between five-and-thirty and forty years of
age, was by no means fitted to sustain the Circassian reputation for
beauty. Her dress had a character of its own: under a brocaded pelisse,
with short sleeves and laced seams, she wore a silk chemise, which
displayed more of the bosom than European notions of decorum would
approve. A velvet cap, trimmed with silver, smooth plaits of hair, cut
heart-shape on the forehead, a white veil falling from the top of the
head and covering over the bosom, and finally, a red shawl thrown
carelessly over the lap--_voilà tout!_ As for the daughter, she was
charming. She wore a white robe fastened round the waist by a red
kazavek. Her features were delicate; she had a complexion of exquisite
fairness, revealing the play of "the pure and eloquent blood" which
"spoke in her cheek, and so distinctly wrought that one might almost say
her body thought;" and a profusion of glossy raven tresses escaped from
under her cap.

Beyond all praise was the geniality of the two ladies. About the country
of their visitors, their calling, and the objects of their journey, they
put a thousand questions. The European costume, and especially the straw
hats, interested them greatly. Yet there was a certain air of coldness
and impassiveness about them, and not once did the princess smile, until
a long curtain accidentally fell, and shut her out for a moment from her
guests. After a short but rapid conversation the visitors asked the
princess's permission to take her portrait and sketch the interior of
her abode. She offered no objection. When the drawings were finished, a
collation was served, consisting of fruits and cheese-cakes. In the
evening, the strangers took their leave, and, on coming out of the hut,
they found all the inhabitants of the _aoul_ assembled to witness their
departure and do them honour.

       *       *       *       *       *

We must resume our narrative of Madame de Hell's journey. On their way
to Stavropol, they experienced a mountain-storm, one of the grandest and
most terrible they had ever witnessed. The roar of the thunder,
repeated by every echo in cavern and ravine, mingled with the groaning
and jarring of the great trees, with the loud gusts of the furious wind,
with all those mysterious voices of the tempest which come we know not
whence, but deeply stir the heart, and have so potent a harmony and such
a sublimity and force of sound that the least superstitious mind
involuntarily awaits some supernatural manifestation, some message from
the other world. We have ourselves listened to a storm in a Highland
glen--the wind sweeping down the rugged declivities with terrible
impetuosity, and the thunder-peals reverberating from peak to peak,
while the clouds

    "From many a horrid rift abortive poured
    Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire,"

until the sense of an eerie and mysterious Presence has forced itself
upon our mind, and we have been able to understand the emotions in which
originated the visions of wraith and phantom of the bards of old. Our
travellers, however, passed through the gale unhurt. A tremendous
outburst of rain, the final effort of the tempest, cleared the sky,
which towards the west was gradually lighted up with gleams of purple
light, contrasting gloriously with the darkness of the rest of the
firmament. A gorgeous rainbow, one foot of which rested on the highest
peak of the Caucasus, while the other was enveloped in the mists of
evening, rose before them for a few moments, like an image of hope, and
then slowly faded into thin air. At length they reached the station,
but in an unpleasant condition--wet, weary, dazed, and not a little
surprised to find themselves safe and sound after the adventures of the
day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Descending the last spurs of the Caucasus, our travellers next day
entered upon the region of the plains. The road was thronged with
vehicles of all kinds, horsemen, and pedestrians, all hurrying to the
great fair of Stavropol, and every variety of type which characterizes
the peoples of the Caucasus: Circassians, Cossacks, Turcomans, Tartars,
Georgians--some in brilliant costumes, caracolling on their high-bred
Persian horses, others huddled up with their families in hide-covered
carts, others again driving before them immense herds of sheep and
swine, and others gravely leading a train of loaded camels. Madame de
Hell particularly noticed a handsome young Circassian, mounted on a
richly caparisoned horse, who rode constantly by the side of an
unusually elegant pavosk (a kind of litter), the curtains of which were
kept down. This carriage stimulated her curiosity, and, in such a
country, was well adapted to suggest to a lively fancy the outlines of a
romance. No doubt, she thought, the pavosk contained a young and
beautiful Circassian, whose charms would fascinate some Oriental prince,
and place a queen's diadem upon her brow. At an inn, in Stavropol,
Madame de Hell again fell in with the Circassian and his mysterious
charge, but the latter was veiled from head to foot "The young
mountaineer," she says, "prepared a divan with cushions and pillows very
like our own, and, a few moments afterwards, returned, carrying in his
arms a woman completely shrouded in her veil; he placed her very
delicately upon the divan, and seated himself by her side with every
mark of tenderness. Occasionally he lifted the young girl's veil to
question her in the most respectful manner. The whole scene was invested
with a poetic charm which I vainly endeavour to express. In the
attitudes, the costume, the physiognomy of this little group, there was
an Oriental grace which would have impressed a painter. Not only was the
picture pleasant to the eye, but it was suggestive to the imagination.
Unfortunately, the delightful vision disappeared like a dream. A few
minutes, and in came our host in search of the mysterious couple, to
conduct them to a private apartment. Infinite precautions were taken in
the removal of the unknown lady, who seemed to be on the brink of the
grave. Next morning we questioned our host in reference to the incident,
but he replied very vaguely, and all we could gather was, that the young
girl had come to Stavropol to consult a famous physician respecting her
condition, which offered but little hope. We could gain no information
from them as to the relations existing between her and the young chief,
the moral causes of her malady, or, in a word, the interesting part of
the story."

FOOTNOTES:

[4] George Eliot.



MADAME HOMMAIRE DE HELL.

II.


From Stavropol, a pleasant and lively town, the capital of the Caucasus,
our travellers journeyed toward the Don with singular rapidity,
accomplishing the distance of 316 versts,[5] in two-and-twenty hours.
They ate and slept in their carriage, and did not alight until they
reached the river-side, where every kind of tribulation lay in wait for
them. Madame de Hell would afterwards remark on the strange tenacity
with which ill-luck adheres to us when it has overtaken us. At ten
o'clock at night, when they were still at some distance from the Don,
they were informed that the bridge across it was in a dangerous
condition, and that probably they would be compelled to wait till the
next day before they could cross. For such a delay they were unprepared,
having calculated on a good supper and a good bed that night under a
friendly roof in Rostov. Another reason for haste was the change in the
weather, which had suddenly turned cold; so, disregarding the
information given them, they continued to push forward until they
reached the bridge. There the signs of its insecure condition were too
numerous to be denied. Several carts stood unyoked, and peasants lay
beside them, calmly waiting for daylight. Then was repeated the bad news
which had already discouraged our travellers, and it seemed clear that
they would have to spend some hours in the britchka, exposed to the
chill night air, while, once on the other side, they could reach Rostov
in a couple of hours.

So influential a consideration carried the day. They would not halt;
they would cross the bridge--though not without taking all due
precautions. Alighting from the carriage, they allowed it to go forward,
the coachman driving slowly, while the Cossack, with his lantern,
pointed out all the dangerous places. "I do not think," says Madame de
Hell, "that in the whole course of my travels we were ever in so
alarming a situation. The danger was urgent and real. The cracking of
the woodwork, the darkness, the noise of waters dashing through the
decayed floor that bent and trembled under their tread, and the cries of
alarm uttered every moment by the coachman and the Cossack might well
have filled us with apprehension; yet I do not think that the thought of
death ever occurred, or, rather, my mind was too confused to formulate
any thought at all. Frequently the wheels sank between the broken
planks, and these were moments of terrible anxiety; but at last, by dint
of patient effort, we reached the opposite bank in safety, after a
passage of more than an hour. I could not have held out much longer; the
water on the bridge was over our ankles. The reader will understand with
what satisfaction we again took our places in the carriage. We were then
better able to realize the nature of the perils we had incurred, and for
a moment almost doubted our actual safety. For awhile we seemed to hear
the dash of the waters breaking against the bridge; but this feeling was
soon dispelled by others--the night's adventures were by no means at an
end.

"At some versts from the Don," continues Madame de Hell, "our unlucky
star threw us into the hands of a drunken driver, who, after losing his
way, and jolting us over ditches and ploughed fields, actually brought
us back in sight of the dreadful bridge, the thought of which still made
us shudder. We would fain have persuaded ourselves that we were
mistaken, but the truth was beyond dispute; there before us rolled the
Don, and yonder stood Axai, the village through which we had passed
after reseating ourselves in the britchka. Conceive our indignation at
having floundered about for two hours only to find ourselves again at
our point of departure! The sole resource we could think of was to pass
the night in a peasant's cabin, but our abominable coachman, whom the
sight of the river had suddenly sobered, and, perhaps, the fear of a
sound thrashing, threw himself on his knees, and so earnestly implored
us to try the road again, that we consented. The difficulty was, how to
get back into the road, and many a false start was made before we
effected it. In crossing a ditch the carriage was so violently shaken,
that the coachman and our dragoman were thrown from their seats, the
latter falling upon the pole in such a way that he was not easily
extricated. His cries for help, and his grimaces when my husband and the
Cossack had set him on his feet, were so desperate, that one might have
supposed half his bones to be broken, though, in reality, he had
sustained only a few bruises. As for the yemshik, he picked himself up
very composedly, and climbed into his seat again as if nothing unusual
had befallen him. From the quiet way in which he resumed the reins, one
might have thought that he had just risen from a bed of roses; such is
the uniform apathy of the Russian peasant!"

They spent a week with their friends at Taganrog, and thence proceeded
to Odessa, the great commercial entrepôt of the Euxine. In one night the
grim blasts of the Ural had swept away all that October had spared. The
weather was still sunny when they arrived on the shores of the Sea of
Azov; but next day the sky wore that sombre chilly hue which always
precedes the _metels_, or snow-storms. All nature seemed to be prepared
for the reception of winter--that eternal ruler of the North. Its advent
was indicated by the thin ice-crust that covered the beach, the harsh
winds, the frost bound soil, and the increasing lurid gloom of the
atmosphere; symptoms which made our travellers apprehensive of possible
suffering on their road to Odessa, their intended winter-quarters,
whence they were distant about 900 versts.

It was indeed the worst season for travelling in Russia. Travellers have
good reason to fear the first snows, which, as they are not firm enough
to bear a sledge, are almost every year the cause of many accidents. The
winds, too, at this season are excessively violent, and raise the drifts
in terrific whirling snow-storms, which threaten the destruction of the
traveller. Madame de Hell and her husband, however, accomplished their
journey in safety, though not without enduring considerable pain and
anxiety. Nothing can be more awful than the snowy wastes they were
compelled to traverse, swept and ravaged as they were by furious blasts.
All trace of man's existence--all trace of human labour--is buried
beneath the great cold white billows, which lie heaped upon one another,
like breakers on a stormy coast.

       *       *       *       *       *

Madame de Hell and her husband spent the winter at Odessa; and in the
following May departed on a visit to the Crimea, on board a brig
belonging to the consul of the Netherlands. Their voyage was short, but
it was not unmarked by incident, by sea-sickness and sudden squalls, by
calm moonlit nights, by something of all the pain and pleasure of the
sea. At sunrise on the second morning, the voyagers first caught sight
of the coast of that gloomy peninsula which the ancients stigmatized as
inhospitable, in allusion to the cruel custom of its inhabitants to
massacre every stranger whose ill-fortune led him thither. The woes of
Orestes, as depicted by the Greek poet, have for ever made the Tauris
famous. Who does not remember the painful beauty of that grand sad
drama, in which the vengeful cries of the Furies seem to echo along this
wild and desert shore? As soon as Madame de Hell could distinguish the
line of rocks that traced the vague horizon, she began to look for Cape
Partheniké, the traditional site of the altar of the goddess, to whom
the young priestess Iphigenia was on the point of sacrificing her
brother. Assisted by the captain, she at length descried on a rocky
headland a solitary chapel, dedicated, she was told, to the Virgin
Mother. "What a contrast," she naturally remarks, "between the gentle
worship of Mary and that of the sanguinary Taura, who was not content
with the mariners' prayers and offerings, but demanded human victims!"

All this part of the coast is barren and bleak; a barrier of rock seems
to shut out the stranger from the celebrated peninsula which warlike
nations have ravaged and commercial nations coveted. Richly gifted by
Nature's liberal hand, it has always been an object of desire to the
people of Europe and Asia. Pastoral races have lusted after its green
mountain ranges; commercial nations have striven to gain possession of
its ports and straits; warrior tribes have pitched their tents in its
fertile valleys; and all have craved a foothold in that land to which
cling so many glorious memories of the Greek civilization. But in the
eighteenth century the contention came to an end, at least so far as
political observers can determine, for ages, and under the rule of the
Russian Czar, the Crimea has long enjoyed a profound tranquillity.[6]

"So that," as Mr. Kinglake puts it, "the peninsula which divides the
Euxine from the Sea of Azov was an almost forgotten land, lying out of
the chief paths of merchants and travellers, and far away from all the
capital cities of Christendom. Rarely went thither any one from Paris,
or Vienna, or Berlin; to reach it from London was a harder task than to
cross the Atlantic; and a man of office receiving in this distant
province his orders despatched from St. Petersburg, was the servant of
masters who governed him from a distance of a thousand miles.

"Along the course of the little rivers which seamed the ground, there
were villages and narrow belts of tilled land, with gardens and fruitful
vineyards; but for the most part this neglected Crim-Tartary was a
wilderness of steppe or of mountain-range, much clothed towards the west
with tall stiff grasses, and the stems of a fragrant herb like
southernwood. The bulk of the people were of Tartar descent, but no
longer what they had been in the days when nations trembled at the
coming of the Golden Horde; and although they yet hold to the Moslem
faith, their religion has lost its warlike fire. Blessed with a
dispensation from military service, and far away from the accustomed
battle-fields of Europe and Asia, they lived in quiet, knowing little
of war except what tradition could faintly carry down from old times in
low monotonous chants. In their husbandry they were more governed by the
habits of their ancestors than by the nature of the land which had once
fed the people of Athens, for they neglected tillage and clung to
pastoral life. Watching flocks and herds, they used to remain on the
knolls very still for long hours together, and when they moved, they
strode over the hills in their slow-flowing robes with something of the
forlorn majesty of peasants descended from warriors."[7]

       *       *       *       *       *

Into this secluded and remote peninsula Madame de Hell and her husband
carried their rare powers of observation and description. They landed at
Balaklava, since so famous in the annals of the British army, for it was
there that "the thin red line" resisted unmoved all the fury and force
of the Muscovite hosts. Its appearance from the sea is very attractive,
for its port is surrounded with mountains, the highest of which still
retains a memorial of the old Genoese dominion, while in part of its
blue expanse lies the pretty Greek town, with its balconied houses and
masses of foliage rising in terraces one above the other. Above it
towers a ruined castle, whence the Genoese, in their days of supremacy,
scanned with vulture-gaze the sweep of sea, prepared to pounce upon any
hapless vessel wind-driven into these waters. It was Sunday when our
travellers arrived, and the whole population were holiday making on the
green shore or greener heights. Groups of mariners, Arnaouts in their
quaint costume, and girls as graceful of shape as those who of old
joined in the choric dances of Cytherea, wound their way up the steep
path to the fortress, or tripped in mirthful measures to the shrill
music of a balalaika.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day after their arrival at Balaklava they undertook a boating
excursion to explore the geological formation of the coast, and landed
in a delightful little cove, embowered amid flowering trees and shrubs.
On their return the boatmen decked themselves and their boat with
wreaths of hawthorn and blossoming apple sprays, so that they entered
the harbour with much festal pomp. In her poetic enthusiasm, Madame de
Hell, as she gazed upon the cloudless sky and the calm blue sea and the
Greek mariners, who thus, on a foreign shore, and after the lapse of so
many centuries, retained the graceful customs of their ancestors, could
not but be reminded of the deputations that were wont every year to
enter the Piræus, the prows of their vessels bright with festoons of
flowers, to share in the gorgeous festivals of Athens.

From Balaklava the travellers proceeded to Sevastopol, of which Madame
de Hell supplies an excellent description, necessarily rendered
valueless, however, by the events of the Crimean war. She speaks of its
harbour as one of the most remarkable in Europe. It owes all its
excellence to Nature, which has here, without assistance from the
science of the engineer, provided a magnificent roadstead, the branches
of which form a number of basins admirably adapted for the requirements
of a great naval station. The whole expanse of this noble harbour is
commanded from the upper part of the town. The roadstead first catches
the eye; it stretches east and west, penetrates inland to a depth of
four miles and three-quarters, with a mean breadth of 1,000 yards; and
forms the channel of communication between Sevastopol and the interior
of the peninsula. The northern shore is girt by a line of cliffs; the
southern shore, broken up by numerous natural basins. To the east, at
the very foot of the hill on which the town stands, lies South Bay,
nearly two miles in length, and completely sheltered by high limestone
cliffs. Beyond lies the dockyard, and the dock, which is of great
extent; and to the west may be seen Artillery Bay.

In spite of the historical interest which now attaches to Sevastopol, as
the scene of the crowning struggle between Russia and the Western
Powers, the most remarkable place in the Chersonese is Bagtche Serai,
"that ancient city which, prior to the Muscovite conquest of the
peninsula, might compete in wealth and power with the great cities of
the East." Beautiful exceedingly is the approach to it, by a road
running parallel with a chain of heights, and clothed with luxuriant
orchards, studded with village and farm, and brightened by the sheen of
brooks. Owing to an ukase of Catherine II., which allowed the Tartars to
keep possession of their ancient capital, Bagtche Serai retains to this
day its individuality of aspect. It is neither modernized nor
Russianized. Sauntering through its narrow streets, and looking upon its
mosques, shops, and cemeteries, the traveller feels that the atmosphere
of the East is around him. And amid the courts and gardens of the old
palace he may well believe himself transported to an "interior" in
Bagdad or Aleppo.

This palace has been celebrated by the muse of Pushkin, the Russian
poet; in fine, it is not possible to do justice to its charms, which
seem to have powerfully impressed our traveller's susceptible
imagination. "It is no easy task," she exclaims, "to describe the magic
of this superb and mysterious abode, wherein the voluptuous Khans forgot
the trials and sorrows of life: I cannot do it, as in the case of one of
our Western palaces, by analyzing the style, the arrangement, and the
details of its splendid architecture, by deciphering the idea of the
artist in the regularity, grace, and simplicity of the noble edifice.
All this may easily be understood or described, but one needs something
of the poet's heart and brain to appreciate an Oriental palace, the
attraction of which lies not in what one sees, but in what one feels
(and imagines?). I have heard persons speak very contemptuously of
Bagtche Serai. 'How' they ask, 'can any one apply the name of palace to
that cluster of wooden houses, daubed with coarse paintings, and
furnished only with divans and carpets?' From this point of view they
are right. The positive cast of their minds prevents them from seeing
the beautiful in aught but costly material, well-defined forms, and
highly-polished workmanship: hence, to them Bagtche Serai must be a mere
group of shabby huts adorned with paltry ornaments, and fit only for the
habitation of miserable Tartars."

To this order of minds, however, Madame de Hell, as we have had abundant
opportunities of observing, did not belong, and Bagtche Serai has
justice done to it at her hands.

The Serai, or palace, is situated in the centre of the town; it is
enclosed within walls and a moat, and fills the heart of a valley, which
is surrounded by irregular heights. Entering the principal court you
find yourself in the shade of flowering lilacs and tall poplars, and on
your ear falls the murmur of a fountain, which sings its monotonous song
beneath the willows. The palace, properly so called, displays externally
the usual irregularity of Oriental architecture, but its want of
symmetry is forgotten by him who surveys its broad colonnades, its
bright decorations, its fantastic pavilions, and sheltering groves. As
for the interior, it is a page out of the "Arabian Nights." In the first
hall is the celebrated Fountain of Tears, to which Pushkin has dedicated
a beautiful lyric. It derives its pathetic name from the sweet sad
murmur of its pearly drops as they fall upon the marble basin. The
sombre and mysterious aspect of the hall stimulates the tendency in the
mind of the visitor to forget reality for the dreams of the imagination.
The foot falls noiselessly upon soft Egyptian mats: the walls are
blazoned with sentences from the Koran, written in gold on a black
ground in those fantastic Turkish characters which seem better adapted
to express the vagaries of a poetical fancy than to become the vehicles
of sober thought.

From the hall we pass into a large reception-salon, where a double row
of windows of richly stained glass represent a variety of rural scenes.
Ceiling and doors are richly gilded; the workmanship of the latter is
exquisite. Broad divans, resplendent with crimson velvet, run all round
the room. In the centre a fountain springs from a basin of porphyry. In
this room everything is magnificent, but its effect is neutralized by
the curious fashion in which the walls are painted, their surface being
covered with the inventions of a prolific fancy in the shape of castles
and harbours, bridges, rivers, islands--all crowded together with a
sublime disregard for perspective--while in niches above the doors are
collected all kinds of children's toys, such as wooden dolls' houses,
fruit-trees, models of ships, and little figures of men writhing in a
thousand contortions. These interesting objects were accumulated by one
of the last of the Khans, who would shut himself up every day in this
room in order to admire them. "Such childishness," as Madame de Hell
remarks, "so common among the Orientals, would induce us to form an
unfavourable opinion of their intelligence, were it not redeemed by
their innate love of beauty and their genuine poetic sentiment. We may
forgive the Khans the strange devices on their walls in consideration of
the silvery fall of the shining fountain and the adjoining garden with
its wealth of bloom."

The hall of the divan is of regal magnificence; the mouldings of the
ceiling, in particular, are of exquisite delicacy. But every room has in
it many evidences of the wealth and taste of its former occupants, and
all are adorned with fountains, and the glow and gleam of colour. Not
the least interesting is that which belonged to the beautiful Countess
Potocki. It was her ill fate to inspire with a violent passion one of
the last of the Crimean Khans, who carried her off and made her absolute
queen and mistress of his palace, in which she lived for ten years,
struggling between her love for an infidel, and the penitence that
brought her prematurely to the grave. "The thought of her unhappy
fortune," says Madame de Hell, "invested everything we beheld with a
magic charm. The Russian officer, who acted as our cicerone, pointed out
to us a cross carved above the mantel-piece of the bedroom. The mystic
symbol, placed above a crescent, eloquently interpreted the condition of
a life divided between love and grief. What tears, what conflicts of the
heart and mind had it not beheld!"

The travellers passed through a succession of gardens and walled
enclosures, in the course of their inspection of the various pavilions,
kiosks, and buildings comprised within the precincts of the palace. To
the one occupied by the harem has appropriately been given the name of
"The Little Valley of Roses." It is a beautiful rose-bower, which echoes
divinely with the sound of falling waters and the song of the
nightingales.

A tower of considerable altitude, with a terrace fronted with gratings
that can be raised or lowered at will, overlooks the principal court. It
was erected to enable the inmates of the harem to watch, unseen, the
martial exercises that were practised there. The prospect from the
terrace, embracing a bird's-eye view of the labyrinth of buildings,
gardens, and other enclosures, is very lovely. It includes a panorama of
the town as it rises, tier upon tier, against the background of the
sloping hills. The various voices of the town collected and reverberated
within the limited space, are heard distinctly, especially at hush of
eve, when the summons to prayer from every minaret mingles with the
bleating of the weary flocks, and the cries of the shepherds returning
from their pastures.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before Madame de Hell quitted the Chersonese, she paid a visit to
Karolez, a mountain village belonging to the Princess Adel Bey, who
received her visitors with admirable courtesy.

"The guest-house was prepared with the ostentation which the Orientals
are fond of displaying on all occasions. A double row of servants of all
ages was drawn up in the vestibule when my husband and I dismounted;
and one of the eldest and also the most sumptuously attired, introduced
us into a saloon arranged in Oriental fashion, with brightly painted
walls and red silk divans. The son of the princess, a charming boy of
twelve, who spoke Russian fluently, attached himself to us, politely
translated our orders to the servants, and was careful that we should
want for nothing. I gave him my letter of introduction, which he
immediately carried to his mother, and soon afterwards, returning, he
told me, to my great delight, that she would receive me when she had
completed her toilette. In my eager curiosity I now counted every
minute, until an officer followed by an aged female, veiled, came to
usher me into the mysterious palace of which, as yet, I had seen only
the lofty outer wall.

"My husband, as we had preconcerted, attempted to follow us, and, no
impediment being offered, unceremoniously passed through the little door
into the park, crossed the latter, boldly ascended a terrace adjoining
the palace, and at last found himself--much surprised at his
extraordinary good fortune--in a little room that seemed one of the
princess's private apartments. Hitherto no male stranger except Count
Worontzov, had entered the palace; the flattering and unlooked-for
exception which the princess had made in my husband's favour, induced us
to hope that she would carry her complaisance still further. We were
soon undeceived. The officer who had acted as our guide, after offering
us iced water, sweetmeats, and pipes, took my husband by the hand, and
conducted him from the room with significant celerity. As soon as he had
disappeared, a curtain was raised at the other end of the apartment, and
a strikingly beautiful woman, richly clad, made her entry. Advancing
with a singularly dignified air, she took both my hands, kissed me on
both cheeks, and with many friendly demonstrations sat down by my side.
She was highly rouged, her eyelids were painted black and met over the
nose, communicating to her countenance a certain sternness, that,
nevertheless, did not impair its agreeable character. To her still
elegant figure fitted closely a vest of furred velvet. Altogether she
was far more beautiful than I had imagined.

"We passed a quarter of an hour in close examination of each other,
interchanging as well as we could a few Russian words which very
inadequately expressed our thoughts. But in such cases, looks supply the
deficiencies of speech, and mine must have expressed the admiration I
felt. Hers, I own, in all humility, seemed to indicate much more
surprise at, than approval of, my travelling costume. What would I not
have given to know the result of her purely feminine analysis of my
appearance! In this _tête-à-tête_ I felt an inward twinge of conscience
at having presented myself before her in male attire, which must have
given her a strange idea of European fashions.

"I would fain have prolonged my visit in the hope of seeing her
daughters, but the fear of appearing intrusive prompted me to take my
leave. Checking me with a very graceful gesture, she said eagerly,
'_Pastoy! Pastoy!_' (Stay, stay!) and clapped her hands several times.
At the signal a young girl entered, who, by her mistress's orders, threw
open a folding door, and immediately I was silent with surprise and
admiration at the brilliant apparition before me. Let the reader imagine
the most beautiful sultanas, or 'lights of the harem,' of whom poet and
artist have endeavoured to give the presentment, and his conception will
still fall far short of the enchanting models on whom my gaze rested.
Each of these three was as lovely and as graceful as her companions. Two
wore tunics of crimson brocade, embellished in front with broad gold
lace. The tunics were open and disclosed beneath them cashmere robes,
with very tight sleeves terminating in gold fringes. The youngest was
attired in a tunic of azure brocade, with silver ornaments; this was the
sole difference between her dress and that of her sisters. All these had
superb black hair, which escaped in countless tresses from a fez of
silver filagree, set like a diadem over their ivory foreheads; they wore
gold embroidered slippers and wide trousers drawn close at the ankle.

"Skins of such dazzling purity, eyelashes of such length, a bloom of
youth so delicate, I had never before looked upon. The calm repose that
breathed from their lovely countenances had never been disturbed by any
profane glance. None but their mother had ever told them that they were
beautiful; and this reflection enhanced the charm of their beauty in my
eyes. In our Europe, where women, exposed to the gaze of crowds, so
quickly learn the art of coquetry, the imagination would not be able to
form such a type of loveliness. The features of our maidens are too soon
affected by the vivacity of their impressions, for the artist's eye to
have any chance of discovering in them that divine grace of beauty and
ignorance which so profoundly impressed me in the Tartar princesses.
After embracing me they withdrew to the end of the room, where they
remained standing in those graceful Oriental attitudes no woman of the
West can imitate. A dozen attendants, shrouded in white muslin, were
gathered round the door, and regarded the scene with respectful
curiosity. This delightful vision lasted an hour. When the princess saw
that I had determined on taking my leave, she made signs that I should
go and see her garden; but, though gratefully acknowledging the
courteous attention, I prepared to rejoin my husband immediately, being
impatient to relate to him all the particulars of the interview with
which I was completely dazzled."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Crimea is not without its memorable places. Madame de Hell refers to
Parthenit, where still flourishes the great hazel under which the Prince
de Ligne wrote to the modern Messalina, Catherine II.; Gaspra, the
residence for some years of Madame de Krudener, the beautiful mystic and
religious enthusiast who exercised so powerful an influence over the
Czar Alexander; Koreis, the retreat of the Princess Galitzin, the soul
of so many strange political intrigues, and afterwards one of the
associates of Madame de Krudener, and the small villa on the seashore,
near Delta, beneath the roof of which died, in 1823, the _soi-disant_
Countess Guacher, now known to have been none other than the notorious
Madame de Lamotte, who figured in the strange romantic history of "The
Diamond Necklace," and as an accomplice of Cagliostro was whipped in the
Place de Grève, and branded on both shoulders with a V for _Voleuse_,
Thief.[8]

At Soudagh, a valley near Oulou-Ouzon, Madame de Hell visited one of the
most remarkable women of her time, Mademoiselle Jacquemart, of whom a
long but not wholly accurate biographical sketch appears in the Duc de
Raguse's "Excursion en Crimée."

Few women have had a more eccentric career. In her early years her
beauty, her wit, and her talents gained her a degree of fame such as
rarely attaches to one in the humble position of a governess. From the
age of sixteen, when she removed from Paris to St. Petersburg, and
entered upon a professional life, she enjoyed an unparalleled social
distinction. Suddenly, for no reason apparent to the world at large, she
retreated to the Crimea, abandoning everything in which she had hitherto
delighted, and voluntarily sentencing herself to a seclusion which to
her, of all women, it might have been thought, would have proved most
distasteful. Seeing her in the semi-masculine costume, studying geology,
painting, music, and poetry, without the shadow of a pretension, one
could not help asking oneself in what mysterious drama her strange
existence had been involved. Having been apprised, the day before, of
Madame de Hell's intended visit, she hastened to meet her, and received
her with an unaffectedly cordial welcome. Her guest could not look at
her, however, without a feeling of astonishment. Attired in a long brown
petticoat, and a vest which concealed her figure, she wore a manly
virile aspect, according thoroughly with the character of the life she
had adopted.

Her cottage consisted of a single room on the ground floor, which served
as dining-room, drawing-room, and bedroom; it was adorned with a guitar,
a violin-case, a collection of animals, art-objects, and arms. The
exceeding solitariness of her dwelling exposed her to frequent attacks
by night, and hence a brace of pistols always hung at the head of her
bed. Her fruit, her poultry, and even her vines suffered from prowling
depredators; she was continually on the watch, and especially had to
guard against a repetition of the cruel attempt to which on one occasion
she nearly fell a victim.

Her account of this affair was as follows:--Two days before it occurred,
a Greek applied to her for work and food. The former she was unable to
give; the latter she would never deny. The next day but one, as she was
returning in the twilight from a geological excursion, carrying in her
hand a small hatchet which she used for breaking stones, she discovered
that this man was walking behind her stealthily. Turning to look in his
face, she found herself at the same moment grasped round the waist--the
hatchet was snatched from her hand--and blow after blow was rained on
her head until she fell to the ground in a swoon. When she recovered
consciousness, the assassin had disappeared. How she reached home with
her skull fractured she never could explain. For months her life was in
peril, and her reason trembled in the balance. At the time of Madame de
Hell's visit she still suffered acutely from some fragments of a comb
that remained in her head.

Remote from the ordinary track as was Mademoiselle Jacquemart's lonely
dwelling, many persons were drawn to it by the attraction of her
singular story. Not long before, a young and handsome lady, incognita,
but evidently of high birth, had spent a whole day there. Her curiosity
greatly excited, Mademoiselle Jacquemart said to her on her departure,
smilingly, "Queen or shepherdess, leave me your name, that it may always
recall to me one of the most delightful souvenirs of my hermit-life."

"Well," replied the unknown, in the same spirit, "pass me your album,
and you shall know me as a very sincere admirer of your merit."

She immediately wrote a few lines in the album and departed in haste,
while Mademoiselle Jacquemart was reading the following quatrain,
improvised in her honour by the Princess Radzivil:--

    "Reine ou bergère je voudrais
    Dans ce doux lieu passer ma vie,
    Partageant avec vous, amie,
    Ou ma cabane ou mon palais."

    [Queen or shepherdess, I fain
    In this sweet spot my life would spend,
    Sharing with thee, gentle friend,
    Or palace grand or cottage plain.]

Before quitting the Crimea, Madame de Hell visited another distinguished
woman, also a solitary, who, in a terribly tragic scene, had nearly lost
her life. The Baroness Axinia lived at Oulou-Ouzon, and this was her
story:

She was married at a very early age to a man much older than herself.
The ill-assorted union was as unhappy as such unions generally are. The
Baroness Axinia was beautiful, and drew around her a crowd of admirers,
whose flatteries she did not reject, though it does not appear that she
listened to professions of love which could have dishonoured her. In a
jealous frenzy, not unnatural in the circumstances, her husband struck
her with his dagger, and at the same time killed a young man whom for a
long time he had regarded as a friend. The result was an immediate
separation. The Baron settled upon her a considerable estate, and, in
addition, a handsome income. She had the consolation, moreover, of
being allowed to retain by her side the youngest of her daughters, and
thenceforth she resigned herself to a life of solitude, keeping hid
within her bosom the secret of her sorrow, her regret, and, perhaps, her
remorse.

Ten years passed, and the baroness never crossed the borders of her
estate. This self-imposed penance, so rigidly observed, may be accepted,
we think, as a sufficient acknowledgment of the errors of her
thoughtless youth.

"At our first interview," says Madame de Hell, "she seemed to me a
little timid, nay, even wild (_sauvage_)--a circumstance amply justified
by her exceptional position. But, in the course of a few days, this
constraint passed away, and a warm intimacy sprang up between us.

"From the first days of my visit, I remarked with lively surprise that
our hostess was incessantly assailed by a crowd of pretty tomtits, who
pecked at her hair and hands with truly extraordinary familiarity. The
baroness, after enjoying my astonishment, told me that two years before
she had brought up a couple of tomtits, and given them their liberty;
and that, in the following year, the couple returned with their brood,
who were easily taught to take their food from the hands of their
charming protectress. Other birds soon imitated their example, and thus
the beautiful solitary came to represent, undesignedly, one of the most
charming creations of Georges Sand, the bird-charmer, in her novel of
'Tévérino.'"

In one of her walks with Madame de Hell, the baroness conducted her new
friend to the scene of the tragic drama which had broken up her life.
The house, entirely abandoned by the Baron, was inhabited only by a
Tartar, its guardian--a man of wild and gloomy aspect, whom the sight of
his mistress seemed to stupefy. While he was opening the doors and
windows, which had been kept closed since the fatal catastrophe, a
wretched half-starved looking dog, shivering in spite of the sunshine,
crawled out of a corner, the wonderful instinct of these animals having
made him conscious of the presence of his mistress. The latter,
overwhelmed with emotion, burst into tears: "Poor Salghir! poor
Salghir!" she cried, and was unable to utter another word.

When she had recovered herself, she turned to Madame de Hell, and bade
her observe how the seal of sorrow and forgetfulness was set upon
everything. Formerly the very stones of the court had breathed of life,
and sunshine, and youth; formerly that poor dog had been bright and
well-favoured, and as happy as are all things that are loved. "But now,"
she exclaimed, "look at these ruins, these crawling mosses; yonder
shattered wall, the grass which has obliterated the traces of my
footsteps, and agree with me that a kind of curse weighs upon the spot.
One feels, one divines that life has been arrested here by one of those
fatal crises which involve everything in ruin. Alas, this house is a
striking proof of it! It had a youth, a freshness, a coquettishness of
its own, when I was young, and fair, and a coquette; now it is gloomy,
dank, degraded...."

"Because you are old and ugly?" said Madame de Hell, smiling, "is not
that the logical consequence of your reasoning! But, you see, the first
looking-glass would flatly contradict it. Come, in spite of the somewhat
greenish hue of our surroundings, look at that soft, gentle, and still
youthful countenance, those brilliant eyes, that flowing hair, and tell
me if it be all in harmony with the unattractive aspect of the scene
before you."

"Oh, undoubtedly I have not yet arrived physically," she answered with a
faint smile, "at this degree of old age, but if you could read to the
bottom of my heart, you would see it as gloomy and as desolate as these
chambers with their want of light and air."

The baroness led her guest into every apartment, explaining the
destination of each with feverish volubility. On entering her former
bedchamber, she turned pale, and pointed with a gesture to her husband's
portrait, separated from her own by an antique clock, the motionless
hands of which added to the melancholy of the scene. Madame de Hell
bestowed a long gaze on the haughty and sombre countenance of the baron.
His rough, strongly-marked features were the very emblem of brutal
strength, and she felt herself tremble all over in thinking of what his
wife must have suffered in the first years of their union. Her unhappy
past seemed almost justified by the hard ferocious countenance of such a
husband. As for the baroness, there was about her portrait a
significantly haggard air. "I carried her out," says Madame de Hell,
"upon the balcony, where, overcome by her emotions, the influences of
the place, and that yearning after sympathy which is so powerful in
solitude, she opened her heart to me, and told me a simple but pathetic
story of all that she had endured.

"The promise that I would hold sacred the confidences of that shattered
heart compels me to leave my narrative imperfect. Two days later I
embarked on board the steamer _St. Nicholas_, gazing with inexpressible
regret at the shores of the Tauric peninsula as they gradually blended
with the horizon, their broken outline melting finally into the mists of
evening."

That Madame de Hell to a habit of close and profound observation, added
very remarkable powers of description, will be apparent, we think, from
the preceding summary, brief as it necessarily is, of her record of
travel in the Caucasus and the Crimea.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] A verst is equal to 3,500 feet.

[6] Except when broken by the war of 1855.

[7] A. W. Kinglake: "Invasion of the Crimea," Vol. i., c. 1, 6th
edition.

[8] See Carlyle's "Biographical Essays, § Diamond Necklace;" also, H.
Vizetelly's "True Story of the Diamond Necklace."



MADAME HOMMAIRE DE HELL.

III.


Madame de Hell and her husband spent the winter of 1841 at Odessa.
Thence, in the following year, they repaired to Moldavia--a country
which was just beginning to revive from the barbarism and desolation in
which the Turkish rule had so long condemned it to linger. Under the
prudent and energetic management of the Aga Assaki, "The Moldavian Bee"
and "The Gleaner" announced the resurrection of liberal thought and the
patriotic sentiment in literary articles, nearly all signed by Moldavian
names and written in the national language.

In the young Princess Morosi, the daughter of the Aga Assaki, afterwards
married to Edgar Quinet, Madame de Hell learned to know and love a
charming wit and a rare beautiful nature. She studied the French poets
with assiduity, and her great ambition was to visit France, little
thinking that she would one day become French by her marriage with the
illustrious French writer.

In the Caucasian steppes our traveller's life had been singularly calm
and serene; in Moldavia it was agitated and disturbed by mundane
occupations, by official receptions, balls, concerts, dinners, the
theatre, and the thousand and one responsibilities of social life. Worn
and weary with the monotonous round of pretended pleasures, she
frequently looked back with regret to the solitudes of the Caspian. Yet
the event which delivered her from it was one that caused her a very
keen anxiety. Her husband was attacked by one of the malarious fevers of
the Danube, and in order to recover his health was compelled to throw up
his engagement and return to France, after some years of almost constant
travel and exploration.

On their arrival they were received with the welcome earned by their
patience of investigation and strenuous pursuit of knowledge. While the
young and already celebrated engineer was rewarded with the Cross of the
Legion of Honour, his wife, who had shared his labours and his perils,
and co-operated with him in the production of his fine work on the
Steppes, was honoured with the special attention of M. Villemain, then
Minister of State. Shortly after her return she gave to the world a
volume of poetry, entitled "Reveries of a Traveller," a work strongly
written, thoughtful, and emotional, which has never obtained the
reputation it fully deserves.

In 1846 the two travellers departed on a second expedition to the East,
which was cut short by the premature death of M. de Hell. His widow
returned to Paris towards the close of 1848, so crushed beneath the
calamity that had overthrown her household gods, that, as she has since
acknowledged, she never slept without the hope that her sleep might know
no waking in this world, but might prove the means of re-uniting her
with her beloved husband. However, she was of too clear an intellect and
too strong of heart not to recognize that the ties of duty bound her to
this world; she had to bring up and educate her children, and to
complete and publish the important works her husband had begun. While
thus engaged, she contributed several articles on the East to the
_Presse_ and numerous other journals. In 1859 she published her own
narrative of adventure and travel in the steppes of the Caucasus. Great
political changes have occurred since Madame de Hell's visit to that
region, which have profoundly affected the character of its people and
their social polity; so that her account of it, as well as her account
of the Crimea, must be read with the necessary allowances. These,
however, will not detract from Madame de Hell's unquestioned merit as a
close and exact observer, endowed with no ordinary faculty of polished
and incisive expression, and a fine capacity for appreciating and
describing the picturesque aspects of nature. She wields a skilful brush
with force and freedom; her pictures are always accurate in composition
and full of colour.

Her later years have shown no decay of her resolute and active spirit.
She has accomplished a tour in Belgium, another in Italy, a visit to
London, and several excursions into the South of France. In 1868 she
proceeded to Martinique, where her eldest son had for some years been
established. We believe she has published her West Indian experiences
and impressions. But we have given up to Madame de Hell as much of our
limited space as we can spare, and now take leave of her with the
acknowledgment that among modern female travellers she deserves a high
rank in virtue of her intelligence, her sympathies, and her keen
sensibility to all that is beautiful and good.



MADAME LÉONIE D'AUNET.


Among the crowd of lady travellers to whom this nineteenth century has
given birth, the able and accomplished Frenchwoman, so widely known by
her pseudonym of Madame Léonie d'Aunet, merits a passing allusion.
Remove from her the mask she is pleased to assume before the public, and
she stands revealed as Madame Biard, the wife of the great humoristic
painter, whose "Sequel of a Masquerade," "Family Concert," "Combat with
Polar Bears," and other pictures, are not less highly esteemed by
English than by French connoisseurs. Born about 1820, she is twenty
years younger than her husband, whom, in 1845, she accompanied in his
excursion to Spitzbergen; an excursion which opened with, by way of
prologue, a rapid tour through Belgium, Holland, Sweden, and Norway. Of
the tour and the excursion she has published a brilliant narrative,
which it is impossible to read without pleasure, so polished is the
style, and so sharply defined are the descriptions. Her literary skill
gives her an advantage over the great majority of female travellers,
whose diaries and journals, from want of it, are often bald, colourless,
and diffuse. On the other hand, she is deficient in sympathy; she judges
rather with the intellect than with the heart, which is at least as
necessary to the formation of a fair and intelligent opinion. Her mind,
however, is so keen and so incisive, so prompt to seize the most curious
facts, so apt in discovering characteristic details, that even when she
speaks of places and peoples with whom we are all familiar, she compels
us to listen, and irresistibly holds our attention. It has been said
that in some respects her manner is that of the elder Dumas, but while
she is more honest and less given to exaggeration she does not rise to
the same literary standard. The famous author of "Anthony" is still
first master in the art, more difficult than the world in general
believes it to be, of recording the experiences of travel; he is a
master in it, because he does not make the attempt, which must always be
unsuccessful, of minutely recording every particular that comes under a
traveller's notice, and because he is gifted beyond ordinary measure
with the art and _verve_ of the _raconteur_. Persons and situations he
knows how to group in the most effective manner; incidents assume their
most dramatic form; scenes are worked up so as to produce a definite
impression on the reader's mind.

Madame d'Aunet, as a popular novelist, knows when writing that she can
count upon her thousands of readers. But this is a fact which we wish
she could have forgotten or ignored. For, keeping it always before her,
she is led to weigh with critical timidity every word, every phrase, and
to elaborate each sentence until, in the old Greek phrase, we "smell the
oil." Those passages of glowing description which at first marched on so
freely and fully, come to an abrupt pause. The language, formerly so
vigorous and incisive, becomes vague, colourless, hesitating; or, very
frequently, gets upon stilts and assumes an air of pretentious
affectation. The writer has evidently forgotten, in her over-scrupulous
regard for the artistic and picturesque, that nothing is so attractive
as simplicity. And Madame d'Aunet is always most charming when she is
most natural--that is, when she is herself; when she writes
spontaneously, and fully possessed by her subject, without casting
anxious glances at the reader to see if he admires this polished period
or catches that apt allusion. Therefore, we are compelled to indicate as
a defect--which, if not very great, might as well have been avoided--a
certain affectation and coquetry of style, displaying the solicitude of
the artist rather than the frank simplicity of the story-teller.
Something of this fault the English reader notes in Mr. Kinglake's
"Eöthen."

In speaking of Belgium and Holland, Madame d'Aunet lets drop some
felicitous expressions, some pregnant and rememberable phrases, which
give the reader an exact idea of the manners of the inhabitants and of
the land they dwell in. The touch is delicate, but always firm and
true.

As to the Hollanders, she says:--

"These people have not the love of cleanliness, but its cultus."

Referring to the two Dutch towns which are the most rigorously watched
over, she says:--

"Saardam is a page, and Broek a vignette, from the history of Holland.

"The people of Broek have neither the taste for, nor the love of,
cleanliness; it is with them a fanaticism, a fetichism. A certain means
of ensuring from them a favourable reception is the avoidance, not of
vices, but dirt."

In Norway, Madame d'Aunet visited Christiania, Drontheim, and other
localities; but it is Man rather than Nature that interests her. Nor did
she penetrate far enough inland to gain a satisfactory conception of the
character of the Norwegian scenery. In the heart of the Dovrefeld
Mountains are grand and sublime landscapes of peak and ravine, cataract
and forest, not inferior to the most famous scenes in Switzerland.
Norway can boast of the finest waterfall in Europe: that of the
Maan-ily, or Riukan-foss, which is as majestically beautiful as the
cascade of Gavarni or the falls of Schaffhausen--which, indeed, has
sometimes been compared to Niagara itself.

Mons. Gainvard's expedition quitted Hammerfest, the northernmost town in
Scandinavia, and after a voyage of some weeks in duration, approached
the gloomy coast of ice-bound Spitzbergen. The ice-fields and the
icebergs inspired Madame d'Aunet with profound emotion, and, in
describing them, she breaks out into what may be called a lyrical cry.
"These Polar ices," she exclaims, "which no dust has ever stained, as
spotless now as on the first day of the creation, are tinted with the
vividest colours, so that they look like rocks composed of precious
stones: the glitter of the diamond, the dazzling hues of the sapphire
and the emerald, blend in an unknown and marvellous substance. Yonder
floating islands, incessantly undermined by the sea, change their
outline every moment; by an abrupt movement the base becomes the summit;
a spire transforms itself into a mushroom; a column broadens out into a
vast flat table, a tower is changed into a flight of steps; and all so
rapidly and unexpectedly that, in spite of oneself, one dreams that some
supernatural will presides over those sudden transformations. At the
first glance I could not help thinking that I saw before me a city of
the fays, destroyed at one fell blow by a superior power, and condemned
to disappear without leaving a trace of its existence. Around me hustled
fragments of the architecture of all periods and every style:
campaniles, columns, minarets, ogives, pyramids, turrets, cupolas,
crenelations, volutes, arcades, façades, colossal foundations,
sculptures as delicate as those which festoon the shapely pillars of our
cathedrals--all were massed together and confused in a common disaster.
An _ensemble_ so strange, so marvellous, the artist's brush is unable to
reproduce, and the writer's words fail adequately to describe!

"This region, where everything is cold and inert, has been represented,
has it not? as enveloped in a deep and sublime silence. But the reader
must please to receive a very different impression; nothing can give any
fit idea of the tremendous tumult of a day of thaw at Spitzbergen.

"The sea, bristling with jagged sheets of ice, clangs and clatters
noisily; the lofty littoral peaks glide down to the shore, fall away,
and plunge into the gulf of waters with an awful crash. The mountains
are rent and splintered; the waves dash furiously against the granite
capes; the icebergs, as they shiver into pieces, give vent to sharp
reports like the rattle of musketry; the wind with a hoarse roar,
scatters tornadoes of snow abroad.... It is terrible, it is magnificent;
one seems to hear the chorus of the abysses of the old world preluding a
new chaos.

"Never before has one seen or heard anything comparable to that which
one sees and hears there; one has conceived of nothing like it, even in
one's dreams! It belongs at once to the fantastic and to the real: it
disconcerts the memory, dazes the mind, and fills it with an
indescribable sense of awe and admiration.

"But if the spectacle of the bay had something magical in it, ominous
and gloomy was the scene on shore. In all directions the ground was
white with the bones of seals and walruses, left there by the Norwegian
or Russian fishermen, who formerly visited these high latitudes for the
purpose of collecting oil; for some years, however, they have abandoned
a pursuit which was much more dangerous than profitable. These great
bones, bleached by time and preserved intact by the frost, seemed so
many skeletons of giants--the past dwellers in a city which had finally
been swallowed up by the sea.

"The long fleshless fingers of the seals, so like to those of the human
hand, rendered the illusion singularly striking and filled one with a
kind of terror. I quitted the charnel-house, and directing my steps very
cautiously over the slippery soil, penetrated inland. I found myself
very speedily in the middle of a cemetery; but this time, the remains
lying on the frozen snow were human. Several coffins, half open and
empty, had formerly been occupied by human bodies, which the teeth of
the white bear had recently profaned. As, owing to the thickness of the
ice, it is impossible to dig graves, a number of enormous stones had, in
primitive fashion, been heaped over the coffin-lids, so as to form a
defence against the attacks of wild beasts; but the stout limbs of "the
great man in the pelisse" (as the Norwegian fishers picturesquely call
the polar bear) had removed the stones and devastated the tombs; a
throng of bones strewed the shore, half broken and gnawed ... the
pitiful remains of the bears' banquet. I carefully collected them, and
replaced them piously in their proper receptacles.

"In the middle of this work of burial, I was seized with an
indescribable horror; the thought came upon me that I was doomed,
perhaps, to lay my bones among these dismembered skeletons. I had been
forewarned of the perils of our expedition. I had accepted the warning
and fancied that I comprehended all the hazard; yet these tombs made me
for the moment shudder, and for the first time I dwelt with regret on
the memories of France, my family, my friends, the blue sky, the gentle
and serene life which I had quitted in order to incur the risks of so
dangerous a voyage."

Madame d'Aunet, however, returned to Paris in safety, and satisfied with
her experiences of the Polar world, attempted no second expedition.
According to M. Cortambert, to whom I owe this sketch, she afterwards
resided in Paris, and edited several journals intended for women's
reading. She also produced some works of no inconsiderable merit.



FREDERIKA BREMER.


It seems reasonable enough that a good novelist should make a good
traveller; for to both is essential the possession of a faculty of quick
and accurate observation. Among the novelists of the nineteenth century
Frederika Bremer holds a distinguished position; we hope to show that
she merits a similar place among its travellers.

She was born at Tuorla Manor House, near Abo in Finland, on the 17th of
August, 1801. When she was three years old her father removed his family
to the small estate of Arsta, about twenty miles from Stockholm, which
he had purchased. Here she received a careful education, early attaining
a good knowledge of French, so as to read and speak it with facility.
Her literary powers were almost prematurely developed, like those of
Charlotte Bronté, and she wrote verses to the Moon at eight years old.
At ten she meditated an elaborate poem on no less a subject than "The
Creation of the World." But her attention was soon turned to more
practical themes, and it is noticeable that even in this early
springtime she began to think much upon the dependent and subordinate
position to which woman has been so unjustly condemned by society.

She was about twelve when her father took up his abode at Nynäs. Nynäs
was an old-fashioned mansion situated amidst picturesque scenery, which
appears to have awakened in Frederika her first impressions of the
beauty of Nature. Her education still continued; she studied English and
German, and made considerable progress in history and geography.

In 1813 Nynäs was sold, and the family once more settled at Arsta. There
the young Frederika learned to take a deep interest in the great
political events which were then convulsing Europe--in the great
uprising of the nations against the selfish tyranny of Napoleon. The
patriotic fire burned brightly in her girl's heart. She wept because she
had not been born a man, so that she might have girded on her sword, and
joined her country-men to fight in the cause of right and freedom. A
strong desire possessed her to become a warrior; it was, in truth, the
bird beating against the bars: the restlessness and activity of a genius
which as yet had not found its proper channel of expression. She at one
time resolved to flee from home and proceed to the theatre of war, which
she imagined would be a matter of no difficulty, and, attired in male
costume, to become page to the Crown Prince (afterwards King Charles
XIV.), who then appeared to her little less than a demi-god. This
scheme amused her fancy for more than a year, and melted away slowly,
like snow in water. Gradually her enthusiasm as patriot and warrior
declined, and gave way to new and equally strong emotions. Religious
fervour, she says, and the most mundane coquetry struggled within her;
feelings for which she could not account seemed to beset her young
bosom, filling it sometimes with a heaven and sometimes with a hell.
"Like two all-consuming flames," she writes, "the desire to know and the
desire to enjoy were burning in my soul, without being satisfied for
many long years. The mere sight of certain words in a book--words such
as Truth, Liberty, Glory, Immortality--roused within me feelings which
vainly I would try to describe. I wanted in some way or other to give
vent to and express the same; and I wrote verses, dramatic pieces, and a
thousand different kinds of essays; composed music, drew and painted
pictures, some of them worse than others."

By degrees, society in Stockholm began to appreciate the fact that the
Bremer family boasted of a maiden of more than ordinary ability, who,
for the family fêtes, composed little dramas of more than usual merit.
They engaged the attention of the poet Frauzon, who was frequently
present at the juvenile performances, and by his advice helped to form
the young dramatist's taste, and correct her judgment. Her earlier
efforts were in verse; but after a time she essayed to clothe her
thoughts in prose, and in prose of a very vivid and forcible kind. The
"Correspondence between Axel and Anna" was her first serious work; so
great already was her facility of composition that she finished it in
two days and two nights. Her poems did not make their appearance until
twenty years later, when they had been revised and corrected by their
author, whom experience had taught that polish of style and gravity of
language which can be acquired only by the careful study of the best
writers.

In the comparatively limited circle to which for several years she was
confined, and under conditions of domestic life which were unfavourable
to the happy development of her genius, she would have found it very
difficult to indulge her literary tendencies, if the Countess
Sonnethjelm, a Norwegian lady, had not come to her assistance by
providing her with an asylum under her roof. There her powers began
rapidly to expand, and she herself to comprehend that literature offered
the sphere of action for which she had so ardently longed.

Afterwards, like the authoress of "Jane Eyre," she spent some time as a
governess in a ladies' school at Stockholm. We have already hinted that
her early life was not altogether happy; her parents do not appear to
have understood or sympathized with her, and the household concord was
frequently broken by the austere, not to say eccentric, temperament of
its head. She says of herself that "a dark cloud came over the splendour
of her youthful dreams; like early evening it came over the path of the
young pilgrim of life, and earnestly, but in vain, she endeavoured to
escape it. The air was dimmed as by a heavy fall of snow; darkness
increased and it became night. And in the depth of that endless winter's
night she heard lamenting voices from the east and from the west, from
plant and animal, from dying nature and despairing humanity; she saw
life with all its beauty, its love, its throbbing heart, buried alive
beneath a chill covering of ice."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the summer of 1831 she paid a visit, which extended over a
twelvemonth, to a recently married sister, then settled at
Christianstadt. We are told that the young novelist had determined not
to mix in society or accept any invitations, but to live in retirement,
and develop herself for what she now considered to be her mission and
her vocation, namely, to become an authoress; and, enriched by
experience of the world, to devote her talents in a double measure to
the comfort and assistance of the suffering and unhappy.

"Frederika," says her sister,[9] "found and felt that she required to
learn much, and that she stood in need of a firm religious faith, which
she had hitherto lacked. The contradictions which she fancied she saw in
the Bible and the world had long shaken her belief, and raised doubts in
her soul to such a degree that, at times, with her reflecting and
inquiring mind, they seemed to darken life."

The teacher, or guide, for whom she had instinctively yearned, she found
at Christianstadt in the head master of the High School, the Rev. Peter
Böklin, by whose teaching, example, and character she profited greatly.
His influence was as beneficial as it was powerful. Well versed in
history and philosophy, he gave a new impulse to Frederika's genius,
while his wise and judicious criticism corrected the errors into which
spontaneity and facility betrayed her. He showed her that it was not
enough to compose with ease, she must learn to think clearly and
soundly; and that grace of style and picturesqueness of description were
of little avail to the novelist without the creative idea.

Under these changed circumstances a change came over the tone in which
she spoke of life. Writing to her mother, in October, 1831, she says:--

"Life seems now to be of value to me. Formerly it was not so. My youth
has not been happy; on the contrary, it has been a time of suffering,
and its days to a great extent--this is indeed the truth--have passed
away in a continual wish to die. But now it is otherwise. As a
compensation for that long period of pain and compulsory inactivity,
another has succeeded, which gives me the means of usefulness, and
therefore also of new life and gladness. We hope--we desire--my sisters
and I--nothing else than to be able to do some little good while we are
wandering here on earth, and according to the power that is given to us
to work for the good of others, and live ourselves in peace and harmony;
and perhaps our saddened youth, if it have deprived us of some of the
enjoyments of life, may in a certain measure have led our minds to
higher aspirations, and to a stronger desire for real usefulness."

       *       *       *       *       *

Her literary career had begun three years before this epoch. In 1828 she
published at Stockholm her "Sketches of Every-day Life" (_Teckningar ur
Hvardags-lifort_), including, "Axel and Anna," "The Twins," and other
stories. They met at once with a favourable reception. But it was not
until she produced her striking picture of "The H---- Family" that the
public recognized the full extent and claims of her genius. Her
reputation spread with great rapidity, and was extended and confirmed by
the works which proceeded in swift succession from her fertile pen. "The
President's Daughter," "Nina," "The Neighbours," "The Home," and "Strife
and Peace;" all these books are marked by the same general
characteristics: entire purity of tone, warmth of feeling, clearness of
judgment, insight into human nature, genial humour, a sharp perception
of social aspects, a strong, clear style, and unusually vivid
descriptive powers. Her plots are simple, and her incidents natural. In
fact she seeks them in the ordinary scenes of domestic life, in its joys
and sorrows, in the duties and pleasures, the lights and shadows of
home--and is never induced to venture into the regions of melodramatic
or philosophical fiction.

In 1841 the works we have enumerated were translated into German, to
attain in Germany to as great and enduring a popularity as they had
acquired in their native country. In the following year they were made
known to the British public, through the labours of William and Mary
Howitt; and the reception accorded to them was as enthusiastic as could
be desired. Their merits, indeed, were precisely those which English
readers might be supposed to appreciate.

It may be interesting to note that in "The Neighbours," more than in any
of her other works, Frederika Bremer drew from real life. Aged Mrs.
Mansfeld is almost a literal portrait of one of her most familiar
acquaintances. As for Francisca Werner, she is the authoress herself.
Alternately despondent, dreamy, energetic, enthusiastic, housewifely,
such is the character of Francisca, and such was Frederika. She
represents her heroine as small of stature, with a plain face, which is
yet not without some charm of expression, as a woman of excessively
simple tastes, a student, and an artist. It is an exact portrait; and
"The Neighbours" is a record of her thoughts and a history of her heart
and its generous impulses.

       *       *       *       *       *

An author has gained a good deal when he succeeds in pleasing his
readers; but to ensure a claim to immortality he must bare to them his
personality, the secrets of his soul, the feelings of his heart. This
has been done by Frederika Bremer. It is true that she reveals no stormy
passions, no wild and wayward emotions; but she shows us _herself_, in
all her love of things good and beautiful, in all the breadth and purity
of her sympathies, in all the elevation of her thoughts. We see, too,
her knowledge of the _domesticities_, her intimate acquaintance with the
duties and responsibilities of home. Her judgments are always sound and
prudent; the advice she gives is advice which, founded upon experience
and reflection, we cannot reject without injury. Let us borrow a few
passages from the conversations in which Mrs. Mansfeld figures:--

"Many marriages, my friends, have begun like the dawn, and fallen like
the dark night. Why? Because after the marriage-feast is over, husband
and wife have forgotten to be as agreeable to one another as they were
before it. Seek, therefore, to please reciprocally; but in doing this
have God always present before your eyes. Do not lavish all your
tenderness to-day; remember that in marriage there is a to-morrow and a
day after to-morrow. Keep some wood for the winter fire, and remember
what is expected of a married woman. Her husband must be able to count
upon her in his home; it is she to whom he must entrust the key of his
heart; his honour, his household, his welfare are in the hands of his
wife.

"Be to thy husband, my dear daughter, like the rays of the sun which you
see among the trees; allow thyself to be guided by him, render him happy
and thou thyself wilt be happy, and thou wilt understand what there is
of good in life; thou wilt become of value in thine own eyes, before
God, and before men."

To housewives and housekeepers she gives some shrewd, sensible
counsel:--

"It is only at intervals that you should make a general survey of the
household; this keeps servants respectful, and things orderly. If you
set the clock going in proper time, it afterwards goes alone, and you
have no need to be always ticking like a pendulum. Remember this, my
dear daughter, some mistresses are too restless with their bunches of
keys; they run about the kitchen and the pantry, but it is time lost; a
woman will do well to take care of her household with her head rather
than with her feet.

"Some mistresses are always at their servants' heels, by which nothing
is gained.

"Servants also ought to have some liberty and calm. We must not muzzle
the mouth of the ox who treads the corn. Let thy people be responsible
for what they do; hold them strictly to every tie of heart and honour;
give them richly that which comes back to them. The labourer is worthy
of his hire. But three or four times a year, and always unexpectedly,
swoop down upon them like the Last Judgment; examine every corner and
recess; make a noise like thunder, and strike right and left at the
fitting moment--this clears the house for many weeks!"

There is nothing sensational or romantic, quaint or picturesque, in
these passages, we grant you. To those who have fed on the rhapsodies
of a certain school of fiction they will seem vulgarly commonplace. But
their practical good sense is indisputable, and they illustrate the
characteristics of Frederika Bremer as a writer. They point to her
combination of domesticity, household economy, and imagination; to the
alliance between poetry and prose which strengthened her vivid genius.

The great object which she set before herself, after she had arrived at
a full understanding of her powers, was the emancipation of her sex from
the thraldom imposed upon it by tradition and conventionalism, and more
definitely, the alteration of the Swedish law so far as it pressed
harshly and unjustly upon women. She desired, her sister tells us, that
women, like men, and together with them, should be allowed to study in
the elementary schools and at the academies, in order to gain
opportunities of securing employment and situations suitable for them in
the service of the State. In her opinion it was a grave injustice to
deny them, even such as were endowed with great talents and brilliant
intellectual powers, such opportunities. She was fully convinced that
they could acquire all kinds of knowledge with as much facility as men;
that they ought to stand on the same level, and to prepare themselves in
the public schools and universities, to become lecturers, professors,
judges, physicians, and official functionaries. She predicted that if
women were as free as men to gain knowledge and skill, they would, when
their capacity and indispensableness in the work of society had
obtained more general recognition, be found fitted for a variety of
occupations, which were either already in existence, or would be
required in future under a more energetic development of society; and,
finally, she maintained with warmth and eloquence that woman ought to
have the same right as man to benefit her native country by the exercise
of her talents.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the autumn of 1848 Frederika Bremer left home, paying first a visit
to her old friend and teacher, the Rev. Peter Böklin, and afterwards
proceeding to Copenhagen. In the following year she made several
excursions to the Danish islands, and then, by way of London, directed
her steps to New York, anxious to study the social condition of women in
the United States. She remained in the great Western Republic for two
years, traversing it from north to south, and collecting a mass of
information on social, moral, and religious topics. Her "Homes of the
New World" was, perhaps, the first discriminating and impartial work
upon America and the Americans.

On her return home she met with a severe blow in the death of her
beloved sister Agatha, which had taken place during her absence. Two
years later (March, 1855) she lost her mother; after which event she
removed from the old family house at Arsta to Stockholm. Here, in
December, 1856, she published her romance of "Hersha,"--a story with a
purpose--its aim being the reform of the Swedish laws affecting women.
Stories with a purpose are seldom acceptable to the general public, and
"Hersha" is the least popular of Frederika Bremer's works, though it is
the most carefully and artistically wrought. It is satisfactory to know,
however, that its purpose was attained.

In the summer of 1853, when the cholera devastated Stockholm, Frederika
became president of a society of noble women, whose aim it was to take
charge of, and provide a home for, those children who were orphaned by
the terrible epidemic, and to give assistance to families in which the
father or mother had been taken away. Two years afterwards, she placed
herself at the head of a small association of ladies whose object it was
to visit the prisons of Stockholm, and procure an amelioration of the
condition of the prisoners, as well as to assist, on their discharge,
those who seemed anxious to embark on an honest career. A considerable
portion of her time, her energies, and her income was devoted to
benevolent purposes, and the alleviation of human suffering she accepted
as one of her holiest and happiest duties.

Having read with deep interest the works of Vinet, she was seized with a
desire to study on the spot the religious movement in Protestant
Switzerland called forth by the "Free Church," of which that eloquent
divine was the founder. In the summer of 1856 she accordingly visited
Switzerland. Thence she proceeded to Belgium, France, and Italy, and
finally she extended her tour to Greece and Palestine, so that it was
not until the summer of 1861 that she returned home. Of this long and
interesting journey she issued a graphic record.

Three months of the summer of 1864 she spent at Arsta with the
patriarchal family who had become the owners of the paternal estate, and
enjoyed so much peace and pleasantness that she resolved to accept their
invitation to lodge with them permanently. She still continued her
philanthropic labours, and looked forward confidently to an old age of
usefulness, hallowed by the love of suffering humanity and brightened by
implicit confidence in the mercy and meek submission to the will of God.
But on Christmas Day, 1865, she caught cold at church, and inflammation
of the lungs supervened with a severity she had not strength enough to
resist. She herself did not believe there was any danger; and in spite
of increasing pain and difficulty in breathing, could not be persuaded
to lie down, but walked about even on the last day of her life, which
was also the last day of the year. Her mind preserved its clearness and
serenity. Shortly before her death, she went, leaning on her nurse's
arm, from window to window in her large sitting room, as if taking leave
of the surrounding landscape which she loved so deeply. Then in a low
weak voice she uttered some broken sentences, and frequently repeated
the words, "Light, eternal light!" Clasping her nurse's hands in her
own, she exclaimed, "Ah, my child, let us speak of Christ's love,--the
best, the highest love!" At three o'clock on the following morning, she
peacefully drew her last breath.[10]

       *       *       *       *       *

From this brief sketch of the life of the great Swedish novelist, we
turn to a consideration of her work as a traveller.

Her visit to the United States she turned to good account, examining
with a keen observant eye the manners and customs of the people. She
made the acquaintance of Channing and Emerson; she went from town to
town, and village to village; she investigated the character and
influence of American institutions; she gave a lively consideration to
the great moral and political questions which were then stirring the
American mind. The result was, a strong and affectionate interest in the
great Western Commonwealth--an interest so strong and deep that it made
her somewhat unjust to England, which she had formerly placed in the
front rank of the nations as the mother of progress and true freedom.

In the following passage she particularizes, from her point of view, the
difference between the English and American character:--

"Brother Jonathan and John Bull," she says, "have the same father, but
not the same mother. John Bull is corpulent, with high-coloured cheeks,
is self-assertive, and speaks in a loud voice; Brother Jonathan, who is
much younger, is lank, tall, weak about the knees, not boastful, but
vigorous and decided. John Bull is at least forty, while Jonathan is not
yet twenty-one.

"The movements of John Bull are pompous, and somewhat affected;
Jonathan's feet move as nimbly as his tongue. John Bull laughs loud and
long; Jonathan does not laugh, but smiles slightly. John Bull seats
himself calmly to make a good dinner, as if he were bent on some great
and weighty matter; Jonathan eats rapidly, and is in a hurry to quit the
table in order to found a town, dig a canal, or construct a railway.
John wishes to be a gentleman; Jonathan does not trouble himself about
appearances--he has so much to do, that it matters little to him if he
rushes about with a hole at the elbow or a tail of his coat torn off, so
long as he advances. John Bull marches, Jonathan runs. John Bull is
certainly very polite to the ladies, but when he is bent on enjoying
himself at the table, he puts them to the door--that is, he begs them to
be so obliging as to go into another room and make tea for him, 'he will
follow them immediately.' Jonathan does not act like this; he loves the
society of women, and will not be deprived of it; he is the most gallant
man upon earth, and if he sometimes forgets his gallantry, it is because
he has forgotten himself; but this does not often happen. When John Bull
has a fit of indigestion, or a stroke of ill-luck, he suffers from the
spleen, and thinks of hanging himself; when Jonathan has a fit of
indigestion, or a stroke of ill-luck, he goes on his travels. Now and
then he has a paroxysm of lunacy, but he recovers himself quickly, and
never dreams of putting an end to his existence. On the contrary, he
says to himself, 'Let us think no more of it; go ahead!'

"The two brothers have taken it into their heads that they will humanize
and civilize the world; but Jonathan marches with more zeal in this
direction, and wishes to go much farther than John Bull; he has no fear
of wounding his dignity by putting his two hands to the pie, like a true
workman. The two brothers desire to become rich men; but John Bull keeps
for himself and his friends the best and largest portion. Jonathan is
willing to share his with everybody, to enrich all the world;[11] he is
a cosmopolitan; a part of the earth serves him as larder, and he has all
the treasures of the globe with which to keep up his household. John
Bull is an aristocrat; Jonathan is a democrat--that is to say, he wishes
to be, and thinks he is one; but it occurs to him to forget it in his
relations with people of a different complexion from his own. John Bull
has a good heart, which at times he conceals in his fat and phlegm under
his well-wadded and buttoned-up coat. Jonathan has a good heart also,
but does not hide it. His blood is warmer; he has no corpulence; he
marches with coat unbuttoned or without one. Some persons maintain even
that Brother Jonathan is John Bull stripped of his coat, and it is with
this American saying that I take leave, for the present, of John Bull
and his brother Jonathan."

       *       *       *       *       *

The manners and customs most opposed to European ideas found favour in
the eyes of Frederika Bremer, when she thought she detected in American
usages the elements of progress and liberty. It is, indeed, with too
light a touch that she glides by the more regrettable defects of the
American character, so fascinated, so dazzled is she by the brilliant
mirage of independence--independence of thought and action, often
verging upon or passing into licence--which the United States presented
to her. She reminds one of that Western patriot who, from the banks of
the Mississippi, watching the explosion of a steamship, exclaimed,
"Heavens! the Americans are a great people!" This exclamation she does
not repeat in so many words, but the idea which it embodies is present
in every page of her book.

But, in truth, she travelled under conditions which made it almost
impossible for her to form an impartial judgment of men and things. She
was everywhere received with so much enthusiastic hospitality, even by
Quakers, Shakers, Plungers, and other of those strange sects described
with so much unction by the late Mr. Hepworth Dixon, that her usual
keen powers of observation were necessarily obscured. She saw everything
through rose-coloured glasses. On the question of slavery, for example,
she, the ardent champion of the emancipation of humanity, who started
with the firm resolution to launch her heaviest thunderbolts at the
slave-owners, was led to give forth an uncertain sound. For the astute
Southerners got hold of her, fêted her, complimented her, read her
works; how could she retain her impartiality when brought under such
powerful influences? Can any author inveigh against the men who read his
books? So it has not inaptly been said that she denounces the
slave-holders only when she is in Yankee territory, and criticises the
Yankees only when she is in the Southern States. Allowing herself to
believe that the condition of the negroes was not so deplorable as she
had supposed, she even began to extenuate the institution of slavery by
arguments too transparently feeble to call for detailed confutation. It
is true, she says, that slavery is an evil to-day, but to-morrow it will
be a boon to humanity, and a boon to the negro world. Why? Because the
American negro, enlightened by the teachings of Christianity through his
contact with the white man, will, at some future time, return to Africa,
the home of his ancestors, a missionary of civilization, charged with
the glorious task of redeeming and regenerating it.

This was a new reading of the old falsehood, doing evil that good may
come. What could the negro think of a Christianity that justified his
subjugation by oppression? Or how could a race, kept in the bonds and
fetters of an accursed degradation, be fitted to play the part of
apostles and missionaries? Happily it is unnecessary to discuss the
subject, since slavery no longer exists in America.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of those beautiful descriptions of nature which lend so great a charm to
Miss Bremer's fiction we find but few examples in her work on the United
States. Unfortunately she travelled as a philosopher, not as an observer
of nature; engaged in the study of social questions, she seems to have
had neither the leisure nor the inclination to survey the magnificent
scenery through which she passed. The area she traversed was very
considerable; from New York she crossed the continent to New Orleans;
she visited Canada, the lakes, the valley of the Mississippi, and made
an excursion to Cuba; but of all the landscapes, sublime, beautiful, and
picturesque that met her gaze, she says little or nothing. Even the
mighty Niagara has scarcely power to move her; the rolling prairies make
no impression on her imagination. From her book, therefore, we can offer
no quotations. In a country like America social questions change their
aspects with so much rapidity that Miss Bremer's opinions upon them are
already antiquated. It is Nature only that preserves her character. The
relations of the North to the South, of the slave-holder to the negro,
or of the Democratic party to the Republican, may undergo, in twenty or
thirty years a complete transformation; but Niagara still pours its
flood of waters into the St. Lawrence, and leagues upon leagues of
grassy savannahs are still untrodden by the foot of man.

       *       *       *       *       *

The defect which we have indicated in Miss Bremer's "Homes of the New
World" does not appear in the later work, "Two Years in Switzerland and
Italy." Here we find that warm sympathy with Nature, that vivid
appreciation of the beautiful, which we might reasonably expect from one
who had the poet's feeling and fancy, though not endowed with the poet's
faculty of expression.[12] In the opening chapter or "station," as she
prefers to call it, we come upon a picture full of power and colour, in
which the artist uses her pencil with equal grace and freedom. It is the
valley of Lauterbrunnen, or "Laughing Waters":--

"From Steinbock the valley becomes ever narrower, between ever higher
mountain walls; louder and louder roar the becks and the streams, which,
now swollen by the rains, are hurled from the glaciers down towards the
valley and the river. Here falls the Staubbach, thrown like silver rain,
driven hither and thither by the wind over the field which it keeps
green below; here rushes down the strong Trummelsbach, foaming from the
embrace of the cliffs; there the still stronger Rosenbach, which the
Jungfrau pours out of her silver horn. On all sides, near and afar off,
there is a rushing and roaring and foaming, on the right hand and on the
left, above me, below me, and before, out of a hundred hidden fountains,
and even wilder beside me rushes on the Lutschine, with still increasing
waters. It is too much, I cannot bear even my own thoughts. I am in the
bosom of a wild Undine, who drowns her admirers while she embraces
them--and the Titans are growing ever loftier and broader, and the
valley ever narrower, gloomier, and more desolate. I felt depressed, and
as it were, overwhelmed, but, nevertheless, I went forward. It is
melancholy scenery, but, at the same time, grand and powerful. And
scenery of this character exercises a strong attractive power, even when
it astonishes. The shades of evening fell darkly over the valley, where
I saw before me, in its gloomy depth, a broad, grey-white, immense wall
of water, like dust hurled thundering down from a lofty mountain. It
seemed to shut up the valley. That is enough. I salute the giantess, the
great Schmadribach, the mother of the Lutschine river, and return. No,
it is not good to be here, and the society of the Titans is more
agreeable for a simple mortal at a greater distance!...

"On my return to Interlachen the Titans presented me with a glorious
spectacle, and it was not without joyful admiration that I parted from
their immediate neighbourhood. The great spirits which terrify can also
enchant. In the light of the descending sun the white peaks and fields
of the Alps stood out in the most brilliant colouring; the lofty
Jungfrau clothed herself in rose-tint, the blue glaciers shone
transparently, and the lower the sun sank the higher and clearer gleamed
the Alpine pinnacles....

"Later still, new astonishment awaited me from the camp of the giants.
The head of the Jungfrau was surrounded with a soft glory of light,
which increased in beauty and brightness, till at length the moon,
shining in full splendour, slowly advancing above, crowned the Titaness
with beauty."[13]

Apart from its picturesque descriptions, however, Miss Bremer's book on
Switzerland and Italy is hardly a success. She had not the
qualifications of a Madame de Staël, and her observations, therefore,
are frequently superficial. Moreover, she seems to have suffered in
self-appreciation. In Sweden she shone as a great star in the literary
firmament; and she appears to have been under an impression that her
fame would have preceded her into other countries, and ensured her a
triumphal reception in any town she entered; but Germany showed her very
little attention, and hence she sees it in a very unfavourable light. So
in Switzerland: she was caught up in the stream of tourists; her name,
inscribed in the visitors' books of the hotels, received but a fugitive
notice; and she who had created in her fancy an ideal Switzerland,
prepared to welcome with open arms the champion of freedom generally,
and the freedom of women in particular--discovered only a nation of
good housekeepers, who were thinking of everything in the world but
emancipation.

Miss Bremer visited the valleys of the High Alps and the Forest Cantons;
spent a Sunday on the Righi; journeyed to Basle; passed into Belgium and
Flanders, surveying the antiquities of the old historic cities of Ghent,
Bruges, and Antwerp; proceeded to Paris; returning to Switzerland, spent
the winter at Lausanne; in the following year crossed the Alps into
Italy, and through Piedmont travelled to the Eternal City; thence to
Naples, where she saw an eruption of Vesuvius and the buried city of
Pompeii; and, finally, explored the fair landscapes of Sicily. This vast
variety of scenes she sketches always with a quick and dexterous pencil.

In the course of her two years' travel she met with several illustrious
men--with some who have made, or helped to make, the history of our
time--and her record of their conversations is full of interest. As
might be expected, she excels in portraiture. This is her portrait of
the late Cardinal Antonelli:--

"Antonelli has a strongly marked countenance of the true Italian
character; handsome dark eyes, with a penetrative glance, gloomy or
bright according to the sentiment which they express; dangerous eyes, it
seems to me, they would be to those on whom their glance was directed in
love. The countenance is pale; the features are regular--even
handsome--all except the mouth, which is large, with large teeth, and
devoid of agreeable sentiment when speaking. In short, the countenance
has a commanding expression. An abundance of dark brown hair waves from
under the red cap, and falls in waving curls upon the pale cheeks. The
whole figure is picturesque--artistic in effect; to which also the
costume--the red cardinal stockings, the large silver buckles, the short
silk cloak, and the red cap--contribute in no small degree. In his
demeanour he has all the self-possession and ease of a perfect man of
the world."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Roman Carnival has often been described, but never, we think, with
more lively appreciation of its humorous features than by Frederika
Bremer. In the following passage we recognize something of that
realistic power which makes the charm of her novels. The details are
touched as vividly and picturesquely as in her Swedish interiors:--

"At three o'clock in the afternoon the festival began. The Corso was
filled with people and gendarmes. Military, mounted and on foot, were
posted at the corners of all the streets, as well as in the square.
Crowds of ragged lads were loitering about the Corso, shouting as they
followed any laughably-attired mask. Windows and balconies were filling
with gentlemen and ladies in dominoes, some in costume. One saw many
lovely faces.... The whole Corso, from the Piazza di Venezia to the
Piazza del Popolo, looks like a festively-decorated arena. But, for the
first time during many weeks, the sky is grey, and the streets are wet
with rain which has fallen in the night; it even now looks threatening,
and already has rained a little, but the air is soft and calm. The north
wind has left Rome, and all windows are open. Some carriages, with masks
in costumes and dominoes, begin to drive up and down the Corso; the war
with comfits and bouquets has begun between pedestrians and those who
are in carriages--between the people in the streets and the people at
the windows and in the balconies. They seek either to powder one another
or to make a present. Extremely beautiful bouquets and fine bonbons come
amongst quantities of others which are less beautiful and not at all
splendid. One is obliged, in the meantime, to hold a fine wire gauze, in
the form of a little scoop, before the face, if one would escape
bruises. Our balcony is decorated with red and white, and along the
outside of the iron railing small boxes are hung for the bouquets and
comfits. Our agreeable hostess belongs to the ornaments of her balcony,
into which flowers are assiduously thrown by gentlemen in carriages and
on foot.

"At five o'clock a mounted troop of soldiers, in close rank, galloped at
full speed up the Corso, in order to clear the street, for now the
horse-race was to begin. The people gather themselves close together by
the walls of the houses; a pause succeeds, and then a loud exulting
shout, which runs like wildfire along the Corso; and from the Piazza
del Popolo speeds, in flying career, a little troop of small horses,
adorned with gold-paper wings or flags. Away they rush at full speed
along the Corso up to the Piazza di Venezia, where they are stopped, and
the judges of the race award the prizes which their owners shall
receive. Scarcely have the swift-footed steeds passed, when the throng
of people crowd after them like a swarming ant-hillock. This closes the
amusements of the day....

"On Monday the Corso was, nevertheless, more animated than on Saturday,
and the warfare of comfits and flowers was carried on very gaily. People
threw flowers at each other from balcony to balcony, from window to
window; and people amused themselves with grand comfits, strung upon
long threads fastened to long sticks, like fishing-lines, which they
enticed their acquaintance, from one story to another, to catch; or they
deceived the boys in the streets with these same tempting baits, which
the next moment were snatched up again. If any one wishes to be polite,
he fastens at the end of the string a beautiful flower, or some other
pretty little thing, and allows it to be caught by the lady for whom it
is intended. The street boys are in general, however, the greatest
winners by this polite warfare; for everything which misses its object
and falls into the street belongs to them, and that is not little....

"On Friday ... the Corso was crowded with all kinds of costumes and
masks in carriages and on foot; the windows and balconies and roofs
were thronged with dominoes and fantastic costumes; bouquets of flowers
and comfits showered down through the air.... Two rows of carriages
drive in close file along the Corso. They assaulted each other
incessantly; besides which, they threw their missiles up to the windows
and balconies, and received others in return. Sometimes a masquerading
gentleman designs to present you with an extremely beautiful bouquet;
but if you do not take great care it is quickly snatched away by some
lad, who jumps upon the step or wheel of the carriage.... Sometimes the
procession of carriages is stopped by the crush, and woe then to the
carriage or the ladies who happen to be stopped under a great balcony,
for they are then overwhelmed by such a shower of chalk and powder
comfits, which rain down upon them like hail, that the dominoes and
outer attire are spoiled! One is fortunate if one can keep one's eyes
uninjured; but a great many of the uneducated class amuse themselves by
throwing white powder into people's faces, and if this gets into the
eyes, it sometimes occasions long suffering; sometimes one receives a
great blow on the head from an immense bouquet; or a great piece of
confectionery, as hard as a stone; but any one who enters into the sport
must tolerate it--and, happen what may, people are only the more excited
and filled by the spirit of the time.... That which interested me most
was to see the handsome Roman women, in their holiday costume, standing
in open _loges_ in the lower story of the houses. They receive, with
stoical resignation, the showers of comfits and bouquets which are
incessantly aimed at their gold-adorned heads. Women of the peasant
class, dressed as if for a wedding festival, with bare heads, adorned
with red ribbon and grand ornaments, were also the principal figures in
many of the carriages....

"The streets swarmed with harlequins, punchinellos, and jesters, who
leaped about, talking to people in the carriages and on foot, inviting
to drink, pretending themselves to be intoxicated, and spilling the beer
or water on the right hand and left; crowds of castanet-players and
dancers, in every variety of laughable, grotesque, and most frequently
tatterdemalion costume, beating drums, and so on--making a horrible din.
Sometimes, in the midst of all this wild confusion, a kind of French
courtier would come mincing along, in old-fashioned costume, leading a
lady, also in antique attire, and, gazing on the right hand and the left
through an immense opera-glass, making, in the meantime, the most polite
bows. However much he might be pushed about, or powdered, it mattered
not; he only gazed through his opera-glass, and bowed all the more, and
never lost his self-possession. In the midst of all this whirl and
confusion comes a brilliant procession: it is the governor of the city
and the Roman senate, driving in a great number of grand carriages, with
splendid horses and servants; gold and silver shine out, and liveries
which appear to be covered with fire. The brilliant _cortège_ advances
with great dignity through the many-coloured mass of the Corso up to the
Capitol."

       *       *       *       *       *

Not the least interesting pages in her book are those descriptive of an
interview which she enjoyed with the great founder of Italian unity,
Count Cavour--the statesman who successfully realized the dreams of the
theorist, and raised Italy to a place among the European Powers. When
Miss Bremer saw him, he was still the Minister of the King of Sardinia;
but in secret was unweariedly labouring to carry out the policy which
placed on the brow of the King of Sardinia the Italian crown.

Miss Bremer had been told that nothing in his exterior revealed the
astute statesman; that, on the contrary, he looked very much as one
might imagine Dickens's Mr. Pickwick to look; and she confesses that at
the first glance he reminded her more of an English red-complexioned
country squire, who rides and hunts, eats good dinners, and takes life
lightly, than of a profound and sagacious politician, who, with sure
glance and firm hand, steers the vessel of the State towards its
destined haven over the stormy waves of statecraft. But quickly that
countenance lighted up, and the more Miss Bremer studied, during their
long conversation, the more significant and agreeable she found it. They
who had painted the great Minister's portrait had not understood this
countenance nor the character of the head. There was in it a certain
squareness, but at the same time refinement. The complexion was fresh
and delicate, the forehead magnificent, open, with ample space for both
broad and elevated ideas; clear, lively, and penetrating was the glance
of the light blue eye; the nose and mouth, as well as the shape of the
face, not unlike those of the first Napoleon, having the same delicacy
and yet firmness of outline. An arch expression was visible in the play
of the muscles about the nose, and the graciousness of the sunny South
was in the smile. As to stature, he was not tall, but he was well-built,
and his figure was solid and robust, like that of a man who can hold his
footing firmly. The manners were easy, calm, and very agreeable, and
indicated no ordinary power of self-control.

Cavour seemed well pleased to learn that even in remote Sweden the
affairs of Piedmont were a subject of general interest, and that his own
words and actions were attentively studied. From his expressions it was
evident to his visitor that he well understood the Swedish government
and constitution. Its mode of representation he pithily characterized as
"heavy machinery."

To Miss Bremer's numerous questions regarding Piedmont and his views as
to its future, he replied with kindly simplicity and absolute candour.
He concluded with a forecast abundantly justified by events, that he
would eventually conduct Piedmont, with complete security, into a path
whence it could not turn back, and she saw that he would not hesitate to
make pecuniary sacrifices for this cause.

"Piedmont," he said, "had long been like a vessel which, having run too
close to the rocks, was prevented by that means from having the wind in
her sails, and this impediment must be removed."

One of the means to this end mentioned by Cavour was the gigantic work
which has since been successfully accomplished, the tunnelling of Mont
Cenis; he was of opinion that this would facilitate communication
between the social culture and social life of the most developed of the
European cities.

When Miss Bremer expatiated on the brilliant hopes for the future of all
Italy which Piedmont's advance on the path of freedom had awakened, he
did not discourage them, but, with the prudence of the politician,
refrained from anything more than vague expressions.

To her observation that she had not seen any statesman who appeared to
bear so easily the burden of a statesman's life, he answered, with a
smile:--

"Ah! 'tis so only in appearance; for behind, in the depth, lie weary
cares, and it is not easy to keep alight the sacred fire."

In Miss Bremer's opinion the appearance was not deceptive. According to
what she heard from many of his friends, Cavour occupied his seat with
tolerable ease, and without undue strain discharged his duties as First
Minister of Piedmont, and the shaper of its destiny. The fact was, that
his nature was that of a statesman; he was born, not made, and performed
his work as Mozart executed his symphonies or Raphael painted his
pictures, without torturing his brains, without any special difficulty.
In his sphere of duty he was as much a genius and an artist as they
were.

At parting she earnestly urged him to give juster laws to the women of
Piedmont, who, in all that appertained to the right of inheritance, were
greatly inferior to men. M. de Cavour laughed, half cynically, as at an
expression called forth by a certain _esprit de corps_; but afterwards
he discoursed seriously on the difficulties which, particularly amongst
an agricultural population, stood in the way of an equal right of
inheritance. Miss Bremer listened with greater pleasure when he added,
with the accent of conviction, that in any case equal right of
inheritance would become law, sooner or later, amongst them. It existed
in the spirit and tendency of all their legislation, and, besides, it
was right.[14]

[Illustration: THE SIMPLON.]

It was in the spring of 1859 that Miss Bremer set out for the East. The
voyage, to one of so vivid an imagination and of such profound religious
impressions, was full of living interest. She spent long, solitary
hours on the deck of the vessel that conveyed her, and allowed her fancy
free course over that sea with a thousand historic memories--the
Mediterranean. With vigilant eye she watched the waves as they rolled
past with glittering crests of foam, and the lights and shadows which
chased one another in swift succession over the purple expanse, as
sunshine or cloud rested on the bosom of the sapphire sky.

"The heavens," she exclaims, "declare the glory of God, and the
firmament sheweth His handiwork. Words are powerless to describe the
beauty of the day, and the scene which developed before me. We were
sailing on the sea of Syria towards the East--the country of the
morning--and what a brightness shone around us! I think that never
before had I seen the sun so luminous, so instinct with flame, or the
sky and the sea so transparent. The latter is of a deep blue, lightly
rippled; here and there small wave-crests, white with foam, surge up,
like lilies, from the infinite depths. The air is soft and mild;
sometimes the clouds unite above our heads and slide downwards into the
west, while the eastern portion of the celestial vault is serene and
pure as a diamond of the finest water. Above and around us we see only
the sky and the sea, but they are calm and beautiful."

The Holy Land comes in sight, and a flood of emotions rushes upon our
poet's soul. "David," she says, "did not rise earlier than I to see the
day break over the shores of Palestine. A fire-red cloud was spread
like an arch above the verdurous hills, green with palms and other
trees. Upon a height near the shore was grouped a mass of houses of grey
stone, with low cupola roofs. Here and there the palm-trees towered
among them. It was Jaffa, the ancient Joppa, one of the oldest cities in
the world. In the distance rose a chain of deep blue mountains,
perpendicular as a wall; it was the Judæan chain. Further to the west,
another considerable chain descended seaward; that was Carmel. At a
still greater distance, in the same direction, and in the interior of
the country, is a lofty mountain, snow-crowned, and, beyond that wall of
rock, invisible to our eyes, lay Jerusalem!"

Landing at Joppa, Miss Bremer and her party hired horses to carry them
to the Holy City; but it was not without much mental perturbation that
the novelist, who was but an indifferent equestrian, saw herself at the
mercy of a young and fiery courser. On this occasion she gained two
victories--one over herself and one over her steed, whose ardent
impatience she contrived to master.

The small caravan with which Miss Bremer travelled included a Russian
princess, two boyars, and some Englishmen; among others there was a
professor with a cynical smile and a sarcastic wit, who possessed a
happy faculty of describing, in epigrammatic phrase and always at the
right moment, the more noticeable features of the manners of the
natives. While the first-named of these eminent personages rode in
advance, Mr. Levison, the professor, remained by the side of Miss Bremer
in the rear. Between the two cultured minds there was a certain bond of
sympathy, and the length of the journey was beguiled by their animated
conversations.

The professor amused himself by calling our novelist Sitti, an Arabic
title bestowed upon women of high rank, and almost equivalent to that of
"princess." Abhul, the guide, overhearing it, inquired if she were a
kinswoman of the Sultan of Prussia, Frederick! "Yes," answered Mr.
Levison, gravely, "she is a kinswoman, but a distant one." And then he
apprised his fellow-traveller of the new dignity he had conferred upon
her.

This was sufficient to convert Abhul into her devoted slave. He was
mightily proud of attending, and acting as guide to, a princess of royal
blood. He almost went down on his knees before her; his attentions were
unremitting. The title which had been flashed before him produced on his
commonplace mind a thousand times the effect that would have been
produced by the knowledge that, plain little middle-class dame as she
was, the humble Swedish lady was infinitely more celebrated than
three-fourths of the princesses of Europe. But there are hundreds of our
own compatriots who are quite as eager tuft-hunters as this poor Arab
guide! John Bull dearly loves "a lord," while before "a princess" his
soul creeps and grovels in infinite abasement.

"This ridiculous mania for titles which overwhelmed the guide Abhul" is,
nevertheless, in M. Cortambert's opinion, "one of the most pronounced
characteristics of the boastful and childish genius of the Orientals.
The Turks and Arabs cannot believe in the importance of personages
without titles of distinction; and hence the smallest _prolétaire_ who
can equip a caravan is saluted with the name of excellency. M. de
Lamartine was hailed as prince and lord; he was supposed, I believe, to
belong to the House of Orleans. One of our friends, an artist of high
merit, by no means desirous of being taken for that which he was not,
and valuing more highly his personal repute than all the titles in the
world, could not shake off the rank of prince, which welcomed him at
every village. Since the visit of M. de Lamartine every French traveller
seems to be regarded as a seigneur of illustrious lineage. One easily
understands that the purse of the tourist was the first to suffer from
this circumstance. Several times our friend endeavoured to set his guide
right, but in vain; the moukra was unwilling to pass, in the eyes of his
companions, for the conductor of a private individual. By elevating his
master he thought that he was raising himself."

       *       *       *       *       *

Frederika Bremer did not allow her supposititious title of Sitti to
blind her to the fact that she was before all a poet and a woman of
letters. On entering Jerusalem she gave the reins to her imagination,
and set herself to work on one of those delightful letters which
afterwards formed the basis of a complete narrative of her Eastern tour.
"I raise my hands," she says, "towards the mountain of the house of the
Lord, experiencing an indescribable thankfulness for my safe arrival
here. I am in Jerusalem; I dwell upon the hill of Zion--the hill of King
David. From my window the view embraces all Jerusalem, that ancient and
venerable cradle of the grandest memories of humanity--the origin of so
many sanguinary contests, so many pilgrimages, hymns of praise, and
chants of sorrow."

Everybody knows what constitutes a traveller's life in Palestine: a
succession of pilgrimages to the several places connected with Old
Testament history, or with the life of our Lord; a constant renewal of
those touching experiences which so deeply impress the heart and brain
of every Christian. Even the freethinker cannot gaze without emotion on
the shrines of a religion which has so largely affected the destinies of
humanity and the currents of the world's history. What, then, must be
the feeling with which they are regarded by those to whom that religion
is the sure promise of eternal life? Not Greece, with its memories of
poets, sages and patriots; its haunted valleys and mysterious
mountain-tops; nor Italy, with its glories of art and nature, and its
footprints of a warrior-people, once rulers of the known world, so
appeals to the thoughtful mind as does the Holy Land, in the fulness of
its sanctity as the home and dwelling-place of Jesus Christ.

But the attention of Miss Bremer was not wholly given to the hallowed
scenes by which she was surrounded. In the East, as in the West, she
reverted to the question of woman's independence, the restoration of her
sex to its natural and legitimate freedom. What she saw was not of a
nature to cheer and encourage her. Nowhere else is the condition of
woman so deplorable; not so much because she is deprived of her liberty
as because she is condemned to the most absolute ignorance. And in this
ignorance lies one of the principal causes of Oriental degeneracy; for
the young, being brought up in the polluted atmosphere of the harem,
undergo a fatal enervation of body and soul, and imbibe the germs of the
most fatal vices.

One day, in company with several young persons of her own sex, Frederika
Bremer paid a visit of courtesy to the wife of a sheikh, who, when
informed that the ladies she had admitted to her presence were
unmarried, manifested the liveliest surprise, and added that it was a
great shame. The girls laughingly pointed to Miss Bremer as being also a
spinster; whereupon their hostess threatened to withdraw, declaring
herself overwhelmed, and, indeed, almost scandalized by such a
revelation. However, on reaching the threshold she turned back, and
desired to know what had induced the European lady to remain unmarried.
The reasons given in reply must have been, we suppose, of a shocking
character, since she cut them short by a declaration that she did not
wish to hear such things spoken of.

To this example of the complete condition of moral dependence to which
even the wives of sheikhs are degraded, Miss Bremer adds another and not
less characteristic fact. She asked several young women, distinguished
by their eager and animated air, whether they had no desire to travel
and see Allah's beautiful earth.

"Oh no," they replied, "for women that would be a sin!"

Women bred in this state of mental and moral degradation can never play
an important part in the regeneration of the East.

A philosopher first, a poet after, and sometimes a painter, such is
Frederika Bremer. She does not often paint a picture, however; when she
does, it is brightly coloured, and its details are carefully elaborated;
but her skill is more favourably displayed in portraiture. Her palette
is not rich enough in glowing colours to reproduce fairly the warm
luxuriant landscapes of the East. For this reason she excels in a sketch
like the following, where she deals not with sky, and sea, and mountain,
but the humanity in those types of it which crowd the streets and lanes
of the Holy City:--

"The population of Jerusalem," she says, "I would divide into three
classes: the smokers, the criers, and the mutes or phantoms. The
first-named, forming in groups or bands, are seated outside the cafés
smoking, while youths in the pretty Greek costume hasten from one to
another with a wretched-looking coffee-pot and pour out the coffee--the
blacker it is the more highly it is esteemed--into very small cups.
With an air of keen satisfaction the smokers quaff it, drop by drop.
Frequently one of them delivers himself of a recital with very animated
gestures; the others listen attentively, but you seldom see them laugh.
In the café may often be heard the sound of a guitar, accompanied by a
dull monotonous strain, in celebration of warlike exploits or love
adventures; the Arabs give to it their pleased attention. In the
bazaars, in the shops, wherever a pacific life predominates, smokers are
met with. Those wearing a green turban spring from the stock of
Mohammed, or else have performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and learned the
Koran by heart, which raises them to the rank of holy men.

"The criers' class of Jerusalem consists of all who sell in the streets,
of the camel and donkey drivers, and of the country-women who daily
bring fuel, herbs, vegetables, and eggs, into the city. They generally
station themselves and their wares on the Place de Jaffa, and scream in
a frightful manner; one would think they were quarrelling, when, in
reality, they are only gossiping. These women allow their dirty mantles
or veils to fall from the head down upon the back, and do not cover the
face. They are always decked and sometimes _plated_ with silver
ornaments. Silver coins, strung together, are carried in bands across
the forehead, and hang down the cheeks. Their fingers are covered with
rings and their wrists with bracelets. Not unfrequently you will see
very young girls with the face framed in silver money, to correspond
with their head-gear--a small cap or hood embroidered with Turkish
piastres, set as close together as the scales of a fish.

"I have heard it said that this cap is a maiden's dower. The
country-women are often remarkable for a kind of savage beauty, but
generally they are ugly, with an expression of rudeness and ill-nature.
They are a collection of sorceresses, whom I feared more than the men of
the same class, though the latter assuredly did not inspire me with much
confidence.

"The Arab women of high rank, enveloped in long white mantles, and with
their faces hidden by a close veil of black, yellow, or blue gauze, form
my third division. They walk, or rather totter, through the streets in
numerous groups or bands, shod with yellow slippers or _bottines_, to
enjoy a promenade outside the Jaffa Gate. You never hear them utter a
word in the streets, nor do they pause for a moment. If that black or
yellow object approach you, covered with her white veil, and turn in
your direction, it is with an expressive, a piercing, questioning
glance; but you cannot discover nor even divine the face concealed by
that coloured gauze. These poor dumb phantoms, who are all the more to
be pitied because they have no idea that they need pity, generally
betake themselves to the cemeteries, where, seated under the olive
trees, they spend the day in doing nothing."

The ease, grace, and dramatic power of this description no reader will
question.

After visiting most shrines of interest in the Holy Land, Miss Bremer
extended her tour to the Turkish sea-coast, and investigated all that
was worth seeing at Beyrout, Tripoli, Latakia, Rhodes, Smyrna, and
Constantinople. In bidding farewell to the East, she expressed her joy
and delight at having seen it, but added that not all its gold, nor all
its treasure, would induce her to spend her days in its indolent and
luxurious atmosphere. She loved the West, with its intellectual activity
and deep moral life, its progress and its aspirations after the higher
liberty. The inertia of the East irritates a strong brain almost to
madness.

Her next pilgrimage was to classic Greece, the land of Solon and
Lycurgus, Pericles and Pisistratus, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and
Demosthenes--the land of Byron and Shelley--the land of poetry and
patriotism, of the myths of gods and the histories of heroes--the land
which Art and Nature have fondly combined to enrich with their choicest
treasures. The impression it made upon her was profound. Writing at
Athens, she says:--

"I confess that the effect produced upon me here by life and the
surrounding objects makes me almost dread to remain for any length of
time; dread, lest beneath this clear Olympian heaven, and amid all the
delightful entertainment offered to the senses, it might be possible,
not, indeed, to forget, but to feel much less forcibly the great aim and
purpose of that life for which the God-Man lived, died, and rose again
from the dead. 'They who cannot bear strong wines should not make use of
them.' For this reason, therefore, I shall soon leave Greece, and return
to my Northern home, the cloudy skies and long winters of which will not
delude me into finding an earthly existence too bewitchingly beautiful.
Yet am I glad that I shall be able to say to the men and women in the
far North, 'If there be any one among you who suffers both in body and
soul from the bleak cold of the North, or from the heavy burden of its
life, let him come hither. Not to Italy, where prevails too much
sirocco, and the rain, when it once begins, rains as if it would never
leave off; no, but hither, where the air is pure as the atmosphere of
freedom, the heavens as free from cloud as the dwellings of the gods;
where the temples on the heights lift the glance upwards, and the sea
and the mountains expand vast horizons to the eye, rich in colour, in
thought, and in feeling; where all things are full of hope-awakening
life--antiquity, the present, and the future. Let him, beneath the
sacred colonnades on the hills, or in the shade of the classic groves in
the valleys, listen anew to the divine Plato, enjoy the grapes of the
vales of Athéné, the figs from the native village of Socrates, honey
from the thyme-scented hills of Hymettus and Cithæron, feed the glance
and the mind, the soul and the body, daily with that old, ever-young
beauty--that which was, and that which now springs up to new life, and
he will be restored to his usual vigour of health; or, dying, will thank
God that the earth can become a vestibule to the Father's home
above.'"[15]

"I shall soon leave Greece," she writes; but the charm of Hellas proved
too powerful for her, and she spent nearly a year in visiting its
memorable places. It was in the early days of August, 1859, that she
landed at Athens; in the early days of June, 1860, she arrived at
Venice. In the interval she had visited Nauplia, Argos, and Corinth; had
sailed amongst the beautiful islands of the blue Ægean; had wandered in
the classic vale of Eurotas, and amongst the ruins of Sparta; had
traversed Thessaly, and surveyed the famous Pass where Leonidas and his
warriors stood at bay against the hosts of Persia; had mused in the
oracular shades of Delphi and gazed at the haunted peak of Parnassus,
and looked upon all that remains of hundred-gated Thebes. It is
impossible for us to follow in all this extended circuit, and over
ground so rich in tradition and association. Wherever she went she
carried the great gift of a refined taste and a cultivated mind, so that
she was always in full accord with the scene, could appreciate its
character, and recall whatever was memorable about it. It is only thus
that travel can be made profitable, or that a genuine enjoyment can be
derived from it; just as it is only an harmonious nature that feels the
full charm of music.

There are delightful pages in Miss Bremer's "Greece and the Greeks";
the keen pleasure she felt in the classic and lovely scenes around her
she knows how to communicate to her readers; her literary skill puts
them before us in all their freshness of colour and purity of
atmosphere. Let us take a picture from Naxos, the island consecrated by
the lovely legend of Ariadne; it shall be a landscape fit to inspire a
poet's song:--

"Villa Somariva is situated on the slope of a mountain, or on one of the
many terraces which are formed from the slopes. Behind the villa lies,
somewhat higher up the mountain, a little village of white-washed,
small, den-like houses, and a yet whiter church; and still higher up
than the village, a square tower--Pyrgos--in the style of the Middle
Ages. Below, and on both sides of our villa, spread out extensive
grounds, consisting of private gardens and groves, separated from each
other by two walls, almost concealed from the eye by the number of trees
and bushes which grow there in a state of nature and with all its
luxuriance. Vines clamber up into the lofty olive trees, and fall down
again in light green festoons, heavy with grapes, which wave in the
wind. Slender cypresses rise up from amidst brightly verdant groves of
orange, fig, pomegranate, plum, and peach trees. Tall mulberry trees,
umbrageous planes, and ash trees glance down upon thickets and hedges of
blossoming myrtles, oleanders, and the aguus cactus. From amidst this
garden-paradise, which occupies the whole higher portion of the entire
extent of the valley, rise here and there white villas, with ornaments
upon their roofs and balconies, with small towers, which show a mediæval
Venetian origin. Around the valley ascend mountains in a wide circuit,
their slopes covered with shadowy olive woods, and cultivated almost to
their summits, which are rounded and not very high. These larger
villages, with their churches, and half a dozen lesser homesteads, are
situated on the terraces of the hills, surrounded by cultivated fields
and olive groves. All these houses are of stone, and white-washed, and
all approach the square or dice-like form. From our windows and
balconies which face the west, we can overlook almost the whole of this
extensive valley, and beyond a depression in its ring of mountains, we
see the white-grey marble tympanum of Paros, with its two sister
cupolas, surrounded by that clear blue vapour which makes it apparent
that the sea lies between them and our island. On the side opposite to
the softly-rounded crown of Paros shines out the interior summit of
Naxos, high above the mountain of Melanès, a giant head upon giant
shoulders, which are called Bolibay, and have a fantastic appearance.

[Illustration: CORINTH.]

"But I have not yet mentioned the Fountain of Beauty, in the valley of
Melanès, the fountain of its fertility--the Fleurio, which flows in many
small streams through the gardens, and supplies us with the most
glorious water.... The river Fleurio bounds along the middle of the
valley, and makes its fields green; it murmurs meanderingly along over a
deep bed of marble blocks and stones, its banks garlanded with
fine-leaved, white-flowering savin and oleanders; besides being
overshadowed in many places by the most beautiful plane trees stretching
out their high branches to each other across the little stream, which in
its calm but fresh career, and its romantic meanderings, is a living
image of a beautiful quiet life."

       *       *       *       *       *

Not the least interesting of Miss Bremer's many pilgrimages was the one
she made to that plain of Marathon, where the genius of Miltiades beat
back the legions of Persia under Datis--the scene of the first great
victory of the West over the East. The lower portion of the plain, which
skirts the coast, was clothed with abundant harvests of wheat and rye,
which waved softly in the wind. What monument, asks Miss Bremer, could
have been more beautiful for those brave men whose dust has been mingled
with the earth?[16] After thousands of years their heroic contention for
liberty had prepared freedom and peace for Greece. The seed they sowed
was "flaming" seed, which continues to live even in the darkness of the
grave; seed from which the harvests of peace spring up in all their
glory.

The Swedish novelist and her companions rested and dined on the
greensward at a spot where a number of white marble slabs indicated that
the ancient monuments had stood there. Around them spread the shining
corn-fields, and myriads of beautiful flowers gleamed amid the grass.
In the afternoon they rambled to the village of Viana--old
Marathon--picturesquely situated at the foot of Pentelicus. Old and
young gathered round them in the village--a poor, ignorant, half-savage
people, but not one of them begged; on the contrary, they were generous
and hospitable according to their means. They fetched straw mats and
mattresses, and laid them on the ground round a large tree.... In a
cleft of the mountain, just above the village, stood a little monastery
church, wonderfully picturesque. The prospect over the extensive plain,
the gleaming straits, and the cliffs of the island of Euboea, is full
of inspiration. Visitors to Marathon, in search of mementoes, generally
look for the arrows that are sometimes found upon the shore; but Miss
Bremer, as a more appropriate souvenir, carried away a bouquet of wheat
ears and wild everlastings.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be pleasant to follow Miss Bremer from place to place
throughout her classic wanderings, for such a companion enhances the
delight and utility of travel; it is like studying a fine poem with the
help of a poet's interpretation of it. But our space is exhausted, and
the reader who would go further must be referred to her interesting
volumes. Every page bears the stamp of a sympathetic intelligence.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] F. Milon: "Life and Letters of Frederika Bremer" (Ed. 1868), p. 9.

[10] Besides the works named in the preceding pages, Frederika Bremer
wrote "The Diary," "Life in Dalecarlia," "Brothers and Sisters," and
"The Midnight Sun."

[11] Frederika Bremer's judgment is certainly at fault here; and in
other points she does not show a very exact discrimination. The sketch,
indeed, is witty rather than accurate; a clever caricature rather than a
correct drawing.

[12] There is much more poetry in Miss Bremer's prose works than in her
poems, which are little more than the efforts of an accomplished
versifier.

[13] F. Bremer, "Two Years in Switzerland and Italy" (transl. by Mary
Howitt), i. 15-17.

[14] One or two quotations, illustrative of Frederika Bremer's style, we
may give in a note. And, first, her impression of the mountains ("Two
Years in Switzerland and Italy," i. 239):--

"They stand in nature like the prophets of the Old Testament, or, more
correctly speaking, like the old wise men and teachers of the pagan
world, and point us to a greatness high above that in which we, the
children of the valleys and the plains, have our being. For these
pyramids are not the pleasantest things upon earth, they are not the
fragrance of the flowers, not the singing of the birds, not the changing
life of the seasons. Imperishable in their eternal place, they are moved
alone by the sun. The sun alone causes them to glow or become pale, and
to paint for us images of life or of death. But they alone receive its
earliest beams in the morning, and retain its light in the evening long
after it has departed from us. It is in their bosoms that spring feeds
the great rivers which fertilize the earth, foster the life of cities,
and extend themselves, beautifying, benefiting, even to the smallest
blades of grass."

And, secondly, the Simplon (ibid. i. 315, 316):--

"The scenery was wild, and of an imposing grandeur. The sun shone upon
the mass of cloud, and wind chased the misty shadows amongst the
mountains. All around, in an immense circle, glaciers and snow-clad
mountain-peaks gleamed forth from amongst the clouds. Before me rose a
lofty mountain, shaped like a cupola, the top of which was covered with
a black cloud, whilst the lower part was lighted up by bright sunshine.
It was the peak of the Simplon. Troops of misty shapes were chased round
it by the wind, as in a wild sweep, whilst they strove to reach the top,
which seemed in its turn to reject them. The black cloud lay
threateningly above, and the white, misty spectres careered around like
the unhappy and unsettled souls in the Hell of Dante. Still increasing
in number, they ascended from the depth below; still more and more
wildly were they chased round the ice-clad mountain--clad as in tatters
of ice--into the dazzling sunshine beneath the black forbidding cloud.
Masses of water were hurled down from the neighbouring glaciers with
thundering din. There is danger here from avalanches during spring and
autumn, and for that reason strong stone galleries are built in many
parts of the road to serve as a shelter for people and for carriages.
Avalanches and torrents are hurled down over the arched roofs and into
the abyss on the other side. Even now masses of ice hang threateningly
upon the heights to the left along the road; but these will dissolve in
foaming rivers, which will find their outlets in deep clefts of the
mountain, over which the road is carried, or they are conveyed away by
means of strongly constructed gutters over the roofs of the stone
galleries. One of these streams is hurled down with a force and a din
which is deafening. The whole of this scene was so wild and so
magnificent that it thrilled me at once with terror and joy. The sun
gleamed through all as with lightning-flashes, and as if in combat with
the demons of nature."

[15] "Greece and the Greeks," i. 40, 41.

[16] A monument has since been erected.



MADEMOISELLE ALEXINA TINNÉ.


For the female mind, ever touching at one extreme the most prosaic
matter-of-fact, and at the other the most exalted sentiment, with an
almost equal capacity for realism and idealism, the combined romance and
simplicity, picturesqueness and primitiveness of Oriental life, has a
peculiar charm. So, too, in the romance of Eastern travel, with its
surprises and adventures, its strong lights and profound shadows, it
finds an exciting contrast to that commonplace routine of existence,
that daily round of conventionalities, which is imposed upon them by the
social tyranny of the West. Fettered as women are in highly civilized
countries by restraints, obligations, and responsibilities, which are
too often arbitrary and artificial, their impatience of them is not
difficult to be understood; and it is natural enough that when the
opportunity offers, they should hail even a temporary emancipation. No
doubt it is this motive which, in different ways, has influenced the
courageous ladies, whose names in the present century have been so
brilliantly inscribed on the record of Eastern travel; such as Lady
Hester Stanhope, Lady Duff Gordon, Lady Baker, Miss Edwards, and Lady
Blunt. And this motive it was, strengthened by a naturally adventurous
disposition, which induced Mademoiselle Alexina Tinné--of whose career
we are now about to speak--to incur the perils of African exploration.

"Visitors to Algiers some years ago, will remember the air of mystery
hanging about a certain yacht lying off the harbour. Rumour spread all
kinds of glowing reports about the mistress of its motley crew,
Europeans, negroes, and stately Nubians. Some said it was an Oriental
princess; one invented a love affair to account for the lonely
wanderings of this female Odysseus; another hinted darkly at some
political mission from far-off Mussulman courts to the chiefs of the
Sahara. The bare truth, when at last it was made known, was almost as
marvellous as anything fiction could invent on behalf of its owner. The
yacht, indeed, belonged to a lady, young, beautiful, and possessed of
queenly fortune, whose existence, almost from childhood, had been spent
in the East; who had already accomplished several voyages of discovery
in Central Africa; and who, undaunted by the mishaps of former pioneers
in the same direction, now projected an undertaking, which, if carried
out successfully, would place her in the foremost rank of African
explorers."

Alexina, or Alexandrina Tinné, was born at the Hague in 1835 (or,
according to some authorities, 1839). Her father was a Dutch merchant,
who, after acquiring a large fortune in Demerara, was naturalized in
England, and finally took up his residence at Liverpool. Her mother, a
Dutch baroness, was the daughter of Admiral van Capellen, who commanded
the Dutch squadron of Lord Exmouth's fleet at the bombardment of Algiers
in 1816. The death of her father while she was still a child, made her
the heiress of vast wealth; but she was fortunate in having in her
mother a prudent and sagacious guardian, who was careful that her
education should in all respects be worthy of her position. She was
introduced at Court at an exceptionally early age, and became a great
favourite of the Queen of Holland. Fate, indeed, seemed to have placed
at her disposal everything which society most values, and to have
enabled her to realize in an unusual degree what Dr. Johnson so happily
described as "the potentialities of wealth." All the enjoyments of
literary and artistic culture, all the pleasures of a refined and
favoured life, all the influence for good or evil that accrues to a
leader of fashion, were commanded by this young lady; and yet, in the
very bloom of maidenhood, she voluntarily set them aside. Whether it was
that an impatient and a restless spirit rebelled against social
conventionalisms, or whether she was actuated by an earnest love of
knowledge, or whether some romance of crushed hope and rejected love was
involved, is not certainly known; but rich, and gifted, and fortunate as
she was, she suddenly disappeared from the Hague about 1859, and after
a brief visit to Norway and a rapid tour to Italy, Constantinople, and
Palestine proceeded to the banks of the Nile. In company with her mother
and her aunt she examined the monuments and antiquities of Egypt, and
then took up her winter residence at Cairo.

This experience of travel sharpened her appetite for adventure. It was a
time when the minds of men were much occupied with the subject of
African exploration, and we need not wonder, therefore, that it
attracted the attention of Alexina Tinné. She appears to have been by
nature of a romantic temperament, with an imagination as lively as her
spirit was undaunted. At Palmyra she had dreamed of a career which
should emulate that of Zenobia. In the Lebanon she had a vision of
installing herself as successor to Lady Hester Stanhope. And now she
conceived the idea of competing for the suffrages of posterity with
Burton and Livingstone, Speke and Baker. To some extent she was
influenced, perhaps, by the wide-spread reputation of Mrs. Petherick,
the wife of the English consul at Khartûm; but no doubt her main desire
was to solve the great enigma of the Nilitic sphinx, and show that a
woman could succeed where men had failed. What an immortality of fame
would be hers if she prevailed over every obstacle and difficulty, and
penetrated, as no European yet had done, to the remote source, the
parent fountain of the waters of Egypt's great historic river! It must
be owned that, if this were her ambition, there was nothing mean or
unworthy in it.

She set out on the 9th of January, 1862, still accompanied by her mother
and her aunt, over whom her resolute nature exercised an undisputed
ascendancy, voyaging in their boats, which carried a large stock of
provisions, an ample supply of money, chiefly in copper, and a numerous
train of guides, guards, and servants. In the largest and most
commodious dahabuyah went the three ladies, with a Syrian cook and four
European servants. Alexina's journal, it is said, preserves many curious
details in unconscious illustration of the mixed character of this
expedition, which might almost have been that of a new Cleopatra going
to meet a new Mark Antony; we see the beauty there as well as the
heroine; the handsome woman, mindful of her toilette appliances, as well
as the courageous explorer, athirst for knowledge.

       *       *       *       *       *

Passing in safety the first cataract, Miss Tinné's flotilla reached
Korosko, where she and her companions took temporary leave of the Nile,
of tourists, and civilization, and stuck across the sandy wastes of
Korosko to Abu-Hammed, in order to avoid the wide curve which the river
makes to the eastward. The caravan, besides Miss Tinné's domestics,
included six guides and twenty-five armed men; while a hundred and ten
camels and dromedaries were loaded with stores and provisions. The
desert did not prove so dreary as it had been painted; sand and rock
were frequently relieved by stretches of gracious verdure. The monotony
of the plains was often broken by ranges of undulating hills. Every
evening the camels found an ample supply of pasturage, and could quench
their thirst freely in the basins of water that sparkled in the hollows
of the rocks.

The passage of the Korosko Desert usually occupies eight or nine days;
but as Alexina advanced very leisurely, by daily stages not exceeding
seven or eight hours each, she consumed nearly three weeks in the
journey. Notwithstanding this easy mode of travel, her mother was so
fatigued that, on arriving at Abu-Hammed, on the banks of the Nile, she
solicited that they should again take to the river. A dahabuyah was
accordingly hired, along with six stalwart boatmen, all of whom swore on
the Kúran that they would keep pace with the swiftest dromedary. So
while the caravan dragged its laborious way through the burning,
shifting sand, Alexina and her kinswomen leisurely ascended the Nile.
But the boatmen soon threw to the winds their promises, relaxed their
efforts, and allowed the caravan to push ahead of them, replying to all
reproaches that their work was arduous, and the sun's heat excessive.

Meantime, the progress of the caravan was considerable, and at nightfall
tents were pitched on the river-bank, and fires lighted. When no
dahabuyah appeared much surprise was felt, and men were sent to look out
for it, but in vain. It was not until the following day that news was
obtained of it, and then it was found that the Egyptian boatmen had at
last laid down their oars in sullen indolence, and that Miss Tinné and
the other ladies had been compelled to pass the night in a Nubian
village. This misadventure taught them the lesson that in Eastern
countries it is safer to trust to brutes than to men; the boatmen were
summarily dismissed, and the ladies once more joined the caravan.

But the heat proving insupportable, they were driven once more to essay
the river transit. A boat was again hired; a second time they embarked
on the shining Nile; and again an evil fortune attended them. Instead of
reaching Berber, as they should have done, in four days, they spent a
week in the voyage; but it was some compensation for their fatigue when,
at two hours' march from the city, they were received by some thirty
chiefs, mounted upon camels, and attended by janissaries in splendid
attire, who, with much pomp and circumstance, escorted them to the gates
of Berber. There they were received by the governor with every detail of
Oriental etiquette; were comfortably lodged in pavilions in his garden,
and surrounded by an atmosphere of courteous hospitality. No longer in
need of a complete caravan, Miss Tinné dismissed her camel drivers; and
desirous of leaving on their minds a permanently favourable impression,
she rewarded them with such unbounded generosity that they broke out
into unaccustomed exclamations of joy and gratitude, and to this day
sing of the white queen's glory, as if she had revived the splendour of
Palmyra.

This profusion was, however, not wholly without calculation. Those who
benefited by it spread her praises in every direction, so that her
coming was eagerly looked for, and hospitality pressed upon her with an
eagerness which may have been inspired by selfish motives, but was not
the less agreeable to her companions or herself. The young girls danced
merrily at her approach; they took her for a princess, or, at all
events, as such they saluted her.

After resting for some weeks at Berber, Miss Tinné again hired their
boats, and ascended the Nile to Khartûm, the chief town of the Egyptian
Soudan. Situated at the confluence of the two Niles, the White and the
Blue, it is already the centre of a considerable commerce, and the
rendezvous of almost all the caravans of Nubia and the Upper Nile.
Unfortunately it is one of the world's _cloacinæ_, a kind of moral
cesspool, into which flows the uncleanness, the filth of many nations;
the rendezvous of Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, and Englishmen, whom
their own countries have repudiated; political gamblers, who had played
their last card and lost their last stake; fraudulent bankrupts,
unscrupulous speculators--men who have nothing to hope, nothing to lose,
and are too callous, or too desperate, or too miserable to fear. The
great scourge of the place--even now, after all the efforts, not wholly
unsuccessful, of Colonel Gordon, is the detestable slave-trade; and by
its abettors the projected journey of Miss Tinné was regarded with much
hostility. It was obvious that, traversing as she would do the districts
blighted by this terrible plague, she would see all its sad results, and
her fearless exposure of them would not long be delayed. Secretly,
therefore, they threw every possible obstacle in the way of her
advance; but her wealth, high position, and unfailing energy, prevailed
over all; and after a delay of some weeks she succeeded in completing
her preparations. A sufficient stock of provisions was got together, and
a supply of trinkets for the purpose of gifts or barter; an escort of
thirty-eight men, including ten soldiers, fully armed, and all bearing a
good character for trustworthiness, was engaged; and, finally, she
hired, for the large sum of ten thousand francs, a small steamboat,
belonging to Prince Halim, the late Khedive's brother.

Her high moral sense revolted at the low social tone of Khartûm, and she
left it with gladness to begin the ascent of the White Nile, and carry
out the objects she had proposed to herself. It was pleasant to gaze on
the fair landscapes which lined the banks of the great river. Its serene
loveliness charmed her, and she compared it, not inappropriately, to
Virginia Water, the picturesque miniature lake which shines amid the
foliaged depths of Windsor Forest. Pleasant to look upon were the dense
groups of shapely trees: palms, mimosas, acacias, the gum-tree--which
frequently rivals the oak in size--and the graceful tamarisk. Myriads of
shrubs furnish the blue ape with a shelter; the air sparkles with the
many-coloured wings of swarms of birds. On the broad bright bosom of the
stream spread the large leaves and white flowers of colossal lilies,
among which the crocodile and hippopotamus pursue their unwieldy
pastime.

How marvellous the effects of colour, when this romantic scene is
flooded in the glowing sunshine. Through the transparent air every
object is seen with a sharp, clear outline, and the sense of distance is
overcome. When a shadow falls it is defined as boldly as on canvas; no
generous mist softens or conceals it; everything is shown as frankly as
in a mirror. In the noontide heats all nature is as silent here as in
the virgin forests of the New World; but when the cool breath of evening
begins to be felt, and that luminous darkness which is the glory of a
summer night in Central Africa folds softly over the picture, the
multiform life of earth swiftly re-awakens; birds and butterflies hover
in the air, the monkeys chatter merrily, and leap from bough to bough.
The sounds which then arise--song and hum and murmur, the roll of the
river, the drone of insects, the cries of the wild beasts--all seem to
blend in one grand vesper harmony--one choral hymn of thanksgiving to
the Lord of life. These are generally hushed as the night advances; and
then swarms of fire-flies and glow-worms light their tiny torches and
illuminate the dark with a magical display; while the drowsy air hangs
heavy with the sweet and subtle odours exhaled from the corollas of the
plants which open only in night's cool and tranquil hours.

Such a landscape as this, with its gorgeous colour and its novel life,
harmonized admirably with Miss Tinné's poetical and dreamy temperament.
She had realized her visions; the romance of the East was around her,
and she the most conspicuous figure in it. Through the different Nile
villages the expedition touched at, she loved to ride, followed by an
armed escort, dazzling the natives by her fair young beauty and
splendour of appearance, amazing them by her lavish liberality, and
receiving from them the homage due to a supposed daughter of the Sultan.
To this high rank they naturally elevated so magnificent and commanding
a personage. Their hearts, moreover, were won by her evident sympathy
with their down-trodden and suffering race. On one occasion she
encountered an Egyptian pasha, returning with a booty of slaves from a
recent razzia. She besought him to release the unhappy creatures, and
when he refused, purchased eight of them, immediately setting them at
liberty, and supplying them also with provisions. This has been
ridiculed as a quixotic act; but to our thinking it was an act of
generous womanly enthusiasm, which may be accepted as redeeming many of
the faults and failings of Miss Tinné's character, and compensating for
the frivolities which overclouded the real motive of her enterprise. To
every benevolent impulse her heart responded, like an Æolian harp to the
touch of the lightest breeze; and in the midst of her enjoyment of the
picturesque features of her enterprise, she ceased not to suffer
severely at the sight of the wretched condition of the poor negroes who
fell victims to the necessities of a nefarious traffic.

This traffic had excited such passions of revenge and hatred in the
breasts of the riverine tribes of the Nile, that the passage of the
river had become very dangerous, and the land journey almost
impossible. The natives looked upon every white man as a Turk and a
slave-dealer; and when a boat appeared on the horizon, terror-stricken
mothers cried to their children, "The Tourké, the Tourké are coming!"
The scarlet fez, or _tarbouch_, was regarded with peculiar aversion. "It
is the colour of blood just spilled," said a negro to his family. "It
never fades," they said; "the Turk renews it constantly in the blood of
the poor black man."

They learned to distinguish, however, between the slave-dealer's boats
and Alexina Tinné's steamer. Twice or thrice they boarded the latter; at
first very timidly, but afterwards with courage. "Is the young lady in
command," they said, "the Sultan's sister? Comes she to assist or to
persecute us?" When acquainted with the pacific object of her
expedition, they rapidly grew familiar, and ventured to go upon deck.
"Since you mean no evil against _us_," they cried, "we will do _you_ no
harm; we will love you!" They took from her hands a cup of tea, and
courteously drank it without showing any repugnance; while they answered
all her questions respecting their manners and customs, and supplied her
with information relative to the surrounding country. So greatly to her
liking was her reception that she would have remained for a lengthened
period among this friendly people, had she not felt bound to prosecute
her journey to the southward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Resuming her voyage, she proceeded steadily in the direction of the
land of the Derikas. Two or three villages were seen on the river-banks,
but the landscape was bare and sterile, and Miss Tinné felt no
inclination to disembark until she reached Mount Hunaya. When her
followers understood that she had resolved to encamp there during the
rainy season, they protested vehemently, and talked of the dangers to be
incurred from elephants and lions. Alexina, however, was not to be moved
from her determination; but as the steamer was in need of repair, she
sent it back to Khartûm in charge of her aunt.

As soon as the necessary repairs were completed, Madame Tinné quitted
Khartûm. On her arrival at Jebel Hunaya, she was received with shouts of
joy, and, to the surprise of the natives, with a salute from some small
cannons. Nothing had occurred of special interest during her absence,
except that on one occasion, when Alexina was reading at a short
distance from the camp, she had a narrow escape from a young panther. On
discovering the animal, she had the presence of mind, however, to stand
perfectly still, while she summoned her soldiers and servants to her
assistance. On their arrival, a cordon was drawn round the panther, and
it was easily captured.

On the 7th of July, the steamer, heavily laden and towing two boats,
continued its course up the river. Between the Jebel Hunaya and the
point where the Bahr-el-Ghazal flows into the White Nile, the scenery is
of a very unattractive character, and the river-banks are parched and
unfruitful. Here and there the wind soughs through masses of tall reeds
and aquatic plants; at other points the waters overflow their bounds for
some two or three thousand yards, creating on each side an impassable
swamp.

The journey was continued eastward until they reached the settlement of
an Arab chief, named Mohammed Chu, who, by mingled craft and force, had
subjugated the neighbouring tribes, and asserted his rule over this part
of the Soudan. When, as not infrequently happened, he was in want of
money, he exercised the right of the strong hand, and, at the head of
his freebooters, sallied forth; destroying villages, massacring their
male inhabitants, seizing upon the women and children to sell as slaves,
and carrying off the cattle. He was partial to pomp and circumstance,
and paraded to and fro on a magnificent horse, the saddle of which was
embroidered with gold and silver, and sparkled with precious stones. But
on the arrival of Alexina Tinné, his courage seemed to desert him; and
he was terrified by the Turkish soldiers who mounted guard on the
steamer's deck. It was probably owing to this spasm of alarm that he
received the ladies with royal honours, sending them sheep, oxen, fruit,
vegetables, dancers, archæological curiosities--in short, he seemed
anxious to make offering of all he possessed. Afterwards, however, his
liberality was found to proceed from another motive; he supposed that he
was doing honour to the favourite daughter of the Grand Turk, and in his
zeal meditated proclaiming her the Queen of the Soudan. When his
visitors bade him farewell, he strenuously advised them not to proceed
any further south. "Take care," he said, "you do not come into collision
with the Shillooks, who are my sworn enemies, and the enemies of all who
cross their frontiers. Beware lest they set fire to your boats, as they
have already done to all vessels coming from Khartûm."

Alexina Tinné disregarded these warnings, continued her voyage, and, a
few days later, anchored off a Shillook village. The sailors, frightened
by Mohammed's speech, refused to approach it; but she landed with her
usual decision, attended only by an interpreter, an officer, and an
escort of ten soldiers. Her fame as the daughter of the Sultan had
already preceded her, and she was welcomed with every demonstration of
respect. The Shillooks, as is the case with other and more civilized
peoples, endeavour to beguile every stranger into a share in their
hostilities; and they made great efforts to induce Miss Tinné to assist
them against that terrible Mohammed Chu, who had but just shown such a
loyal anxiety to proclaim her Queen of the Soudan. When she refused to
join in the campaign, their disappointment was bitter. Dr. Barth and
other travellers speak in warm terms of this unfortunate tribe, who have
suffered scarcely less from Europeans than from Arabs. They live under
conditions the most unfavourable to their development; on every side
they are hemmed in by foes. Constantly falling victims to the cruelty of
the slave-hunters, it is no wonder that they regard with suspicion, and
too often treat with ferocity, the strangers who traverse their land;
not unnaturally they implicate them in the traffic which crushes them to
the ground.

Alexina Tinné reached at length the junction of the Sobat with the Nile.
She determined on ascending the tributary stream to its highest
navigable point, calculating that the voyage would not occupy more than
seven or eight days. The Sobat valley is much more attractive to the eye
than the course of the White Nile. Its ample pastures, teeming with
flocks of ostriches and herds of giraffes, stretch away to the remote
horizon. Elephants wander freely in the fertile uplands, coming down to
the river at evening-time to drink. For weeks the voyagers lingered
among the fair scenery of this happy valley; and then they resumed their
ascent of the Nile as far as Lake Nû, where it receives the majestic
volume of the Bahr-el-Ghazal before striking sharply towards the south.

The swamps of the White Nile exhale a malarious atmosphere, unfavourable
to human life, but not adverse to the growth of a picturesque
vegetation. Tamarisks, mimosas, climbing plants, papyrus, and
euphorbia--the latter yielding a poisonous milky juice in which the
natives dip their deadly arrow-points--thrive in unchecked luxuriance,
and present a rich variety of colour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beyond Lake Nû the White Nile breaks into an intricate series of curves
and meanders, through which its current rushes with great rapidity, and
with such strength that the steamer was compelled to throw off the
towing-rope of the two Nile boats, and leave them to themselves. The
sailors and servants accordingly landed, and set to work with sturdy
arms to haul them against the stream. But in the worst fury of the
current the rope broke, and the boats drifting downward, seemed doomed
to destruction. Osman Aga, a resolute and courageous soldier, who was on
the deck of the steamer at the time, seized another rope and sprang
instantly into the river. With vigorous strokes he made for the shore.
He had almost gained it, and had flung the rope to the crew of the
nearest boat, when the strength of the current overpowered him, and he
sank! After awhile his surviving comrades recovered the brave fellow's
body, and gave it honourable burial in the native fashion at the foot of
a patriarchal tree, on the trunk of which was cut a memorial
inscription.

Some days after this sad event, Miss Tinné ascended the river to
Heiligenkreuz, an Austrian missionary station. There she remained until
mid-September, making a short excursion into the interior; crossing
rivers, penetrating into swampy forests, and visiting villages inhabited
by a quite naked population, feeding upon bats, snakes, termites, and
raw roots.

As the voyagers drew near Gondokoro they observed that the scenery
assumed a grander character. The river-banks lay deep in the shadow of
luxuriant tropical forests, in the recesses of which the ruins of
ancient buildings were sometimes visible. Gondokoro, long regarded as
the _ne plus ultra_ of the Nile Valley, was reached on the 30th of
September. It proved to be the farthest limit of the African
explorations of our heroine. She ardently desired to advance; to share
some of the glory which crowns the names of Speke and Grant, Baker and
Petherick; to behold with her own eyes the vast expanse of the blue
Victorian Sea; to trace to its fountain-head the course of the Nile; but
the authorities threw obstacles in her way which proved to be
insurmountable. Apart from these, the progress of the expedition was
arrested by the malarious fever which attacked herself and most of her
followers. In her own case the attack was so severe as at one time to
threaten her life.

After her recovery she devoted herself to the study of the habits and
manners of the tribes dwelling in the neighbourhood of Gondokoro. They
are all Baris; very ignorant and superstitious, but not naturally cruel.
The most prosperous trade among them is that of the sorcerer, who acts
also as the medicine-man. When a Bari falls ill, he hastens to consult
the Punok, receives from him some infallible and grotesque recipe,
and--behold he is cured! His faith in the prescribed remedy is the
source of its efficacy. One of these magicians had the address to
persuade the negroes of his immortality, and extracted from them ample
presents of oxen, sheep, and the like. Unfortunately, he declaimed
vehemently against the proceedings of the Egyptians, who having no
sense of humour, put him to death. His dupes collected round his dead
body, and waited patiently for his resurrection; they began to doubt
only when the corpse began to putrefy.

Among the Bari sorcerers an influential position is held by the
"rain-maker," and the villagers lavish upon him, in days of drought,
gifts of oxen, fruits and trinkets, as an inducement to evoke from the
clouds their treasures of genial rain. Greatness, however, has always to
pay a penalty; and if after the rain-maker has performed his rites, the
drought continues, it is not unusual for the disappointed people to
surround the Kodjan's house, drag him forth, and summarily cut open his
stomach, on the plea that as the storms make no outward sign they must
be shut up therein. Few are the years in which one of these
"rain-makers" does not perish, unless he is crafty enough to effect his
escape before his deception is discovered.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Gondokoro Alexina Tinné returned to Khartûm, where the European
community received her with applause. Her restless and adventurous
spirit, however, could not long endure the burden of inaction. Baffled
in one design, she immediately struck out another; and with
characteristic energy and daring she resolved on ascending the great
western tributary of the Nile, the Bahr-el-Ghazal, exploring the waters
which feed it, and penetrating into the country of the Nyam-Nyam. She
shared her counsels with two distinguished Abyssinian travellers, Dr.
Steudner, a German botanist, and Dr. Heughlin, a German naturalist, and
the plans of the three adventurers were soon matured. They were joined
by the Baron d'Arkel d'Ablaing; and having collected large supplies of
provisions--the list reads like the catalogue of a co-operative
store--and of articles suitable for barter, with a riding-horse for each
traveller, and such a wardrobe for Miss Tinné and her mother as to
justify the supposition that they intended to establish a _Magasin des
Modes_ among the Nyam-Nyam, they quitted Khartûm in February, 1863. The
_personnel_ of the expedition numbered 200 souls, including the Dutch
women-servants, an Italian ship's steward, a Turkish officer, and ten
privates, besides twenty Berber soldiers and several Arab interpreters
and scribes. These were embarked on board a steamer, two dahabecyahs,
and two ordinary Nile boats, which also carried four camels, thirty
donkeys and mules, and the riding-horses aforesaid.

Doctor Heughlin, who had started in advance as a kind of pioneer,
passed, on the 31st of January, the Jebel Tefafan, a lofty mountain
which rises at no great distance from the river. His descriptions of the
scenery through which his boat conveyed him are very graphic. The river
broadened as he advanced, its entire breadth, however, not being
discernible from the boat. Vegetation became more luxuriant, and was on
a larger scale; the bushes resounded with the songs of birds, echoing
clearly across the transparent water. Splendid was the white plumage of
the osprey, shining in the midst of the dark-green foliage; nor less so
that of the little white heron, standing with melancholy aspect on the
prostrate tree-trunks. On an overhanging branch, defined against the
sky, was perched the timid, snake-necked cormorant, with fiery-red eyes
fixed on his slippery prey; then, plump as a stone, darted into the
water, above which, after a long interval, showed his head and neck. One
of his comrades seemed to feel a little too drenched after his late
immersion, for he sat in the sun, spreading out his beautiful plumage of
dark metallic-green to dry. The piping call of the cheerful jacamar was
changed at intervals for the deep, full note of the red-billed shrike,
as he sat hidden in the thicket; bright yellow weaver-birds twittered in
crowds on the boughs, whilst from the depth of the shade came the cooing
murmur of the turtle-dove. Stark and rigid, like the stem of an old
tree, the crocodile took his rest, sometimes with wide-open jaws: here
and there the hippopotamus lifted his giant head from the troubled
waters, now scattering them in showers of spray, now raising his fearful
voice, which every echo of the distant shores repeated.

At length Dr. Heughlin reached Lake Nû, on the Bahr-el-Ghazal. At that
time of the year the river in many places is as narrow as a canal, and
bordered on both sides by a swampy plain which stretches away to the dim
horizon, covered with a dense growth of gigantic reeds. At other places
it broadens into considerable lakes.

The natives navigate it in light canoes, which they manage with great
dexterity. They sit astride the stern, with their legs hanging down in
the water, and if they cannot find any branches capable of being used as
oars, they paddle with their hands. The Nouers, who inhabit this region
of marsh and morass, seem to offer an illustration of the Darwinian
theory of the "survival of the fittest." By a process of natural
selection, they have become thoroughly adapted to the conditions of the
soil and climate, the weaker of the race having been killed off. Their
physical strength is remarkable; they may, in fact, be described as a
race of Anaks, averaging from six to seven feet in height.

While Dr. Heughlin, in the true scientific spirit, industriously
explored the banks of the Bahr-el-Ghazal, Alexina Tinné was preparing to
join him, and was bringing all her energy to bear upon the difficulties
that impeded her. When only a few miles from Khartûm, her captain came
to tell her, with signs of the greatest alarm, that the steamer was
leaking and must shortly sink. It is easy to imagine her anxiety; but
recovering her presence of mind, she gave orders that the cargo should
be immediately unloaded, and the leak being repaired, she resumed her
voyage. A few hours later, and the vessel was again in danger, the water
pouring in with greater violence than before. A careful investigation
was now made, and then it was discovered that the pilot and captain had
each agreed to bore a hole in the ship's hull, in the hope of abruptly
terminating a voyage which they, not less than their crew, regarded
with dread. Miss Tinné, however, was not to be thwarted in a fixed
resolve; she at once dismissed the more unworthy portion of the crew, as
well as the captain and the pilot, and then, with men who swore to be
faithful to her, she once more proceeded towards the Bahr-el-Ghazal.

Her progress at first was slow, on account of the growth of tall thick
grasses and aquatic plants that choked up the stream. In many places a
water-way for the steamer had to be cut with axe and knife. Grisly
crocodiles lay in the sun-baked mud; from the depths of the intertangled
reeds rose the snort of the hippopotamus; while, with steady gaze, the
elephant watched the movements of the strange apparition. The swamps of
the Gazelle River are the happy pasture-grounds of hundreds of wild
beasts. But though game is so plentiful, the sportsman finds it no easy
matter to get at it. He cannot make his way through the dry and withered
vegetation without a crackling of leaves and a snapping of stems, which
give instant alarm to vigilant and suspicious ears. No sooner does he
set foot in the jungle, than, as if warned by some secret telegraphic
agency, all its inmates take to flight. On one occasion, while Miss
Tinné's men were vainly seeking to track the great river-horse, a huge
elephant, which had probably pushed forward too far into the river in
the keenness of its thirst, was caught up in the current and driven
against one of the boats. This was too good an opportunity to be
neglected: the boatmen immediately attacked the ill-fated animal,
killed it, and cut it in pieces.

On the 10th of March the ladies steamed into the port of Meschra-el-Rey,
in the Bahr-el-Ghazal, and joined Dr. Heughlin. They were received with
great enthusiasm--flags flying and guns firing. Here a delay of some
days occurred, while they awaited further supplies of provisions, and a
number of porters to carry their baggage, from Khartûm. At length the
gentlemen grew impatient, and it was arranged that they should go in
search of the promised bearers, leaving Miss Tinné and her companions at
Meschra. Accordingly, Drs. Heughlin and Steudner set out; but the
malarious climate was working its evil will upon them, and in a state of
great prostration from fever and dysentery, they traversed a desert
country, and crossing the river Djur on the 2nd of April, arrived the
same evening at Wan. Here Dr. Steudner succumbed to his disease, and
passed away, almost without pain, on the 10th. His friend contrived to
give him decent burial. The body was wrapped in Abyssinian cloth,
covered with leaves, and interred in the shade of melancholy boughs,
amidst "that magnificent nature whose true servant and worshipper he
was."

At Bongo, in the land of Dur, Dr. Heughlin succeeded in hiring an
adequate number of porters, though at a heavy price, and returned to
Meschra after an absence of six weeks. The ladies were suffering from
fever; but a supply of provisions having arrived from Khartûm, they set
out, undismayed, for Bongo. They travelled by short stages, and when
towards nightfall they reached a village which seemed to offer
convenient quarters, Miss Tinné would send for the sheikh, and the gift
of a few beads was always sufficient to secure them convenient quarters.

The African villages are frequently of considerable size. They are
usually surrounded by a belt of cultivated ground, where dourra,
sesamum, and culinary vegetables thrive abundantly. The flocks that
swarm over the pastures often include some thousands of sheep, though
they are never killed by the natives for purposes of food. At first Miss
Tinné easily purchased several, but as soon as the natives discovered
that she slaughtered them for provision, they refused to sell.
Apparently they make them the object of a rude _cultus_, as the Lapps do
the hare. Their scruples vanished, however, at the sight of the White
Princess's trinkets. What is very curious is, that each tribe has its
favourite colour--that while one swears by blue beads, another has eyes
only for green; so that a tribe which will violate its conscience for a
handful of blue or yellow beads, will preserve it untouched if tested by
beads of any other colour. The most potent bribe--potent enough to
prevail over even the stoutest conscience--is a piece of blue or red
cotton; but this, on account of its moral value, Miss Tinné was careful
to keep exclusively for the chiefs.

The journey to Bongo was rendered tedious and troublesome by the rains.
A large quantity of provisions was spoiled, and the ladies on their
mules were drenched to the skin without any possibility of drying their
clothes. The country through which they passed presented scene upon
scene of an interesting or attractive character. The groves expanded
into woods, and the woods into forests, the delighted eye gazing with
ever fresh gratification on the dense network of creepers and wild vines
that stretched from tree to tree, while the green gloom was everywhere
lighted up with starry blossoms. As the travellers penetrated farther
into the country, they came upon an entirely different picture; vast
plains widened away to that vague horizon where earth and heaven seemed
to blend in mist. Occasionally the monotonous level was pleasantly
relieved by clusters of gracious trees, forming so many isles of
greenery, where the bland calm air was fragrant with the sweet subtle
odours breathed from magnificent cactuses, orchids, and irises.
Thousands of birds, surprised among the tall grasses by the passing
caravan, sprang aloft, and filled the air with the whir and winnow of
swift wings.

       *       *       *       *       *

As for some years a marked diminution had taken place in the number of
elephants inhabiting the valley of the White Nile, the ivory traders had
gradually pushed forward into the lands watered by the Gazelle and the
Djur. This was a virgin region, a mine hitherto unworked, and
accordingly, in order to profit to the full by its resources, a chain
of stations was established, each in charge of a _vakeel_, or manager.
Every November these were visited by the traders, who carried off in
their boats the accumulated ivory, and sometimes added to their cargo of
elephants' tusks the unfortunate negroes who had served them as guides
and hunters. As time went on, they extended their operations, armed the
tribes one against the other, encouraged them in their destructive
feuds, and in this way consolidated their nefarious tyranny.

By one of these infamous traffickers in flesh and blood our travellers
were grossly plundered. At his urgent request, Miss Tinné and her
companions advanced to Bongo, where he exercised authority. A royal
welcome was accorded them. Their arrival was announced by volleys of
musketry, and Biselli (such was the name of the vakeel) met them at the
entrance to the village, and conducted them to a really spacious and
convenient residence, where they were immediately served with sherbet,
coffee, and other refreshing drinks. His lavish hospitality embraced
everybody; not only the travellers but their attendants. The _abrek_,
the drink of the country, was freely circulated among the people, and
distributed even to the porters.

Biselli, it was soon discovered, owned almost everything in the village,
and lorded it over the entire neighbourhood. Alexina requested him to
sell her some corn and oxen; he replied, in what seemed the spirit of a
true gentleman, that for twenty-four hours he was her host, that
consequently he had abdicated his position as a trader, and could think
of nothing but giving her an honourable reception. Far from diminishing,
his prodigality increased; and his European guests felt almost
humiliated at being the objects of so boundless a hospitality.

But on the following day he dropped his mask. Miss Tinné wished to hire,
for the accommodation of her people, a small _zeribah_, or camp,
containing two tents; and Biselli named thirty dollars as the rent, but
when Miss Tinné's servants began to store the baggage, he suddenly
raised his demand to two hundred. This attempt at extortion was promptly
and firmly refused; he then reduced the charge to forty dollars, which
was paid. Soon afterwards the caravan was in need of dourra, and
recourse was had to Biselli. The knave, presuming on their necessity,
charged forty times more than the price of dourra at Khartûm, and on
every other article he put in like manner a tax of forty or fifty per
cent. He was no longer the generous host, but had resumed his natural
character as an unprincipled trader.

The fever continued its attacks after their arrival at Bongo, and, to
the great sorrow of Alexina, carried off her mother. Dr. Heughlin and
several of the men fell ill of it, and a general feeling of depression
pervaded the encampment. Dr. Heughlin relates how, after the death of
Madame Tinné, he went daily from the zeribah to Alexina's own residence,
situated at a considerable distance, to inquire after her health, and
console her in her affliction. To drag himself to and fro was all he
could do; and frequently his strength failed him on the way, so that he
had to sit down and rest. Sometimes he did not reach home till midnight,
and at other times was seized on the road with an attack of fever. A
Dutch girl, Alexina's maid-servant, was often almost mad with
home-sickness, lamenting her unhappy fate to die so young, so lonely,
and so far from home.

Eventually Miss Tinné found herself compelled to abandon her scheme of
penetrating into the land of the Nyam-Nyam, and carrying with her the
bodies of Madame Tinné and her maid, who had also fallen a victim to the
pestilence, she returned to Khartûm, after an absence of a year and a
half. In the interval, her aunt, the Baroness van Capellan, had died
(May, 1864). Alexina, to recover from the shock of so many misfortunes,
retired to a village a short distance from Khartûm, and gave herself up
to solitude and silence. When she had recruited her physical and mental
energies, she returned to Cairo.

There she took up her residence on a splendid scale. She furnished her
villa in the Oriental style; would have none but Arabs and negroes to
wait upon her, and, finally, she adopted the Arab dress. For four years
she continued to be a foremost figure in the semi-European, semi-Asiatic
society of Cairo; but her roving and adventurous spirit was not
quenched, her love of new things and new places was not checked. The
arrival of some vast caravans from the Sahara while she was on a
yachting voyage at Tripoli, fired her imagination anew with visions of
African discovery. She resolved upon an expedition which in boldness of
enterprise and romantic interest should exceed all previous adventures;
proposing to travel from Tripoli to the capital of Fezzan, thence to
Kuka in Bornu, and, westward, by way of Wadai, Darfur, and Kordofan, to
the Nile. To carry out this plan she would have to cross the country of
the Towaregs, the treacherous "pirates of the Desert," the cruellest and
falsest, and at the same time the bravest and handsomest, of the African
tribes; and she provided herself, therefore, with a strong escort,
consisting of three Europeans and forty-seven Arabs, well armed. On the
29th of January, 1869, she set out from Tripoli, and on the 1st of March
arrived at Sokna, in Fezzan. There she engaged the services of a Towareg
chief, Ik-nu-ken, to whom she had been recommended, and agreed with him
to attend her as far as Ghat; but at the last moment he was unable to
fulfil his engagement, and Miss Tinné accepted the proffered assistance
of two other chiefs, who professed to have been sent by him for that
purpose; it is known, however, that this statement was wholly
fictitious, and intended to beguile, as it did beguile, Miss Tinné into
a false security.

A few days after her departure from Sokna, these men, who had arranged
to murder and rob their unsuspecting patroness, continued to excite a
quarrel among the camel drivers; and when Miss Tinné quitted her tent to
ascertain the cause, one of them shot her with a rifle bullet, wounding
her to death. Not one of her escort--her three European attendants being
also massacred--offered her any assistance, and she was left to linger
for four-and-twenty hours in mortal agony at the door of her tent
(August 1st). It is pleasant to know, however, that justice eventually
overtook her murderers, who were captured in the interior, brought to
Tripoli, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.[17]

Such was the unhappy termination of Miss Tinné's career--a career in
which much was promised and something performed, but in which, it must
be owned, the performance was not equal to the promise. But let us be
gentle in our criticism, for may not this be said, all too truly, of our
own lives? Who is it that realizes his own ideal?

FOOTNOTES:

[17] The story of Miss Tinné's death is differently told by different
authorities; but we believe the above to be a correct version. See Dr.
Heughlin's "Reise in das Gebiet des Weissen Nil," etc.; Dr. Augustus
Petermann, "Mittheilungen;" Miss Edwards's "Six Life-Studies of Famous
Women," etc.



MADAME IDA PFEIFFER.

I.


The motives by which travellers are actuated are as various as their
temperaments; some find the "propelling power" in the impulse of
curiosity, some in the thirst for novelty; others in a strong and
genuine love of knowledge; others, again, in a natural impatience of
inaction, or a rebellion against the commonplaces and conventionalities
of society, a yearning after the romantic and adventurous. But,
generally speaking, they constitute two great classes: those who
discover, and those who observe--that is, those who penetrate into
regions hitherto untrodden by civilized men, and add new lands to the
maps of the geographer; and those who simply follow in the track of
their bolder or more fortunate predecessors, gathering up fuller, and,
it may be, more accurate information. To the latter class, as this
volume shows, belong our female travellers, among whom we find no
companion or rival to such pioneers as a Livingstone, a Barth, a
Franklin, or a Sturt. Unless, indeed, we regard as an exception the
wonderful woman to whose adventures and experiences the following
chapter will be devoted. Of Madame Ida Pfeiffer we think it may justly
be said that she stands in the front ranks of the great travellers, and
that the scientific results of her enterprise were both valuable and
interesting. It has been remarked that if a spirit like hers, so daring,
so persevering, so tenacious, had been given to a man, history would
have counted a Magellan or a Captain Cook the more. But what strikes us
as most remarkable about her was the absolute simplicity of her
character and conduct; the unpretending way in which she accomplished
her really great achievements; her modesty of manner and freedom from
pretension. She went about the world as she went about the streets of
Vienna; with the same reserve and quietness of demeanour, apparently
unconscious that she was exposing herself to death, and hazards worse
than death; so calmly and unaffectedly courageous that she makes us
almost forget how truly grand was her heroism, how sublime was her
patience, and how colossal her daring. The same reticence and simplicity
are visible in every page of the published record of her personal
experiences. She does not pretend to literary skill; she attempts no
elaborate pictorial descriptions; she says of herself that she has
neither wit nor humour to render her writings entertaining; she narrates
what she has seen in the plainest, frankest manner. And she imposes upon
us the conviction that she entered upon her wondrous journeys from no
idle vanity, no love of fame, but from a natural love of travel, and a
boundless desire of acquiring knowledge. "In exactly the same way," she
says, "as the artist feels an unconquerable impulse to paint, and the
poet to give free expression to his thoughts, so was I hurried away with
an unconquerable desire to see the world." And she saw it as no other
woman has ever seen it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ida Reyer was born at Vienna on the 15th of October, 1797. Her parents
occupied a respectable position, and took care that she should receive a
decent education; but from her earliest childhood she manifested a
strong distaste for the accomplishments and amusements which were then
considered "proper" for her sex. They were too tame and spiritless for
her ardent nature, and she inclined towards the bolder and more robust
pastimes of her brothers. Up to the age of nine she was their constant
companion--wore clothes like theirs, and shared in all their games,
looked with utter scorn upon dolls and toys, and thirsted after guns and
swords, and the music of the drum. She says of herself that she was
livelier and hardier than even her elder brothers, who were lively and
hardy beyond most boys of their age. Evidently nature had gifted her
with a strong constitution: she was physically as well as mentally
strong. Endowed, moreover, with an heroic will, she loved the heroic in
history and poetry. William Tell was one of the gods of her idolatry,
and on one occasion she was found with an apple on her head, at which
her brothers, like the Swiss champion, were shooting arrows!--a
remarkable example of coolness of nerve and contempt of danger. For
Napoleon, as the conqueror of her country, she entertained an intense
feeling of hatred. In 1809 she was compelled by her mother to accompany
her to the Emperor's review of his Imperial Guards at Schönbrunn; but
when he approached the ground she indignantly turned her back. Her
mother struck her, and by sheer force held the head of her obstinate
daughter towards Napoleon. She resolutely shut her eyes, and thus was
able to say that she had never seen her country's oppressor.

It was a day of sorrow for Ida when she was forced to assume the dress
of her sex. She fell ill with grief and disappointment, and her parents
found it necessary to allow her to retain the boy's blouse and cap, to
which she was so partial. Then, as if by magic, she recovered, and
resumed her favourite games. She acknowledges that feminine work filled
her with contempt. Pianoforte-playing, amongst other things, seemed an
occupation so inappropriate and uncongenial, that to escape those odious
"exercises"--which thousands of girls, by the way, have found equally
distasteful--she would frequently cut and wound her fingers severely.

We have alluded to her fondness for history. She was not less addicted
to voyages and travels--to any reading, in fact, which satisfied her
love of adventure. She would envy at times the condition of a
postilion, and the sight of a travelling carriage would set her
dreaming for hours.

She was fourteen years old before she would consent to wear petticoats.
About the same time her parents placed her education in charge of a
young professor, who, recognizing the high qualities of her
ill-regulated character, set himself to work to develop and mature them.
He was so devoted to his pupil, that she on her part became anxious to
anticipate his wishes, and never felt so happy as when he was satisfied
with her efforts. In truth it was the old story of Hymen and Iphigenia
reversed. Her wayward and wilful nature was subdued by the influence of
love; and at the cost of not a few tears, she renounced her childish
caprices in order to please him, and occupied herself with the pursuits
she had previously regarded so contemptuously. She took up even the most
thoroughly feminine avocations, and learned to sew, and knit, and cook.
Meanwhile, she was wholly ignorant of the nature of the feeling which
had transformed the romp into a discreet and retiring maiden, until, at
the age of seventeen, an unexpected incident awakened her to it. A Greek
merchant sought her hand; her parents refused him on the score of her
youth. "Hitherto," she writes, "I had had no presentiment of the violent
passion which can make one either the happiest or unhappiest of women.
When my mother informed me of the proposal, and I learned that I was
destined to love one man and belong to him only, the impressions I had
until then all unconsciously experienced, assumed a definite form, and
I discovered that I could love no person except the guide of my youth."
As he was not less passionately attached to her, he hastened to make a
proposal, to which her parents objected on the ground of his want of
fortune. The young girl openly avowed that she would never marry any
other, and adhered tenaciously to her opposition. But after a while the
young man felt it to be his duty to respect the decision of her parents,
and his correspondence with his pupil ceased. The little romance,
according to Madame Ida Pfeiffer, ended as follows:--

"Three long years passed without our meeting, and without any change
taking place in my feelings. One day, when I was out walking with a
friend of my mother, I accidentally met my old master; both of us
involuntarily halted, but for a long time we could not speak. At length
he contrived to subdue his emotions. As for myself, I was too much
disturbed to be able to utter a word; I felt as if I should swoon, and
returned home hastily. Two days afterwards I was seized with a fever,
which at first the doctors thought would prove mortal."

Her strong constitution carried her through it. On her recovery, in her
burning impatience to escape from the parental roof, she declared she
would accept the first person who sought her hand, provided he was a man
of a certain age; by this proviso wishing her lover to understand that
her marriage was wholly due to constraint. An advocate of some repute, a
Herr Pfeiffer, proposed and was accepted. This was in 1820.

A marriage made under such conditions could hardly prove a happy one.
Her husband was unworthy of her. He treated her harshly, and he wasted
the fortune she brought him. But for the sake of her two sons, Oscar and
Alfred, she endured the miseries of her position as long as she was
able, and devoted herself with assiduous self-sacrifice to their
education. Meanwhile, the prosaic character of her daily life she knew
how to relieve by privately indulging in dreams of travel, of adventure
in far lands, and exploration in isles beyond the sunset. On the
occasion of an excursion to Trieste, the sight of the sea revived in her
all the old passionate longing, and the visions of her childhood became
the fixed resolves and convictions of her womanhood.



MADAME IDA PFEIFFER.

II.


At length she was free to indulge her long-cherished inclinations. Her
sons stood no longer in need of her support; her husband was separated
from her and was living in retirement at Lemberg; her means, though
moderate, were not inadequate to the fulfilment of the projects she had
in view. It was true she was forty-five years old, and that is not an
age at which one usually attempts a tour round the world; but, on the
other hand, it invested a woman with a certain degree of security, and
it rendered more feasible an enterprise which in any case was beset with
difficulties.

Having completed the necessary preparations, she set out on her first
great journey in March, 1842. It was natural enough that a woman of
religious temperament should be attracted to the Holy Land. She visited
its holiest places, and the effect they produced upon her imagination is
a proof that years and the cares of domestic life had in no wise
chilled its early warmth. Returning in December, she proceeded to
compile a narrative of her experiences, which was published in 1843,
under the title of "Travels of a Viennese Woman to the Holy Land," and
immediately obtained a worldwide popularity. Its merits, however, are
not of a literary character; its attractiveness is due entirely to its
simplicity and straightforwardness. The reader at once discovers that he
is dealing with a writer who makes no attempt to deceive, who neither
diminishes nor exaggerates, nor adapts her facts to preconceived
opinions. To this we may add that Madame Pfeiffer, though an accurate,
is not a profound observer.

From the sultry heat of the East she next betook herself to the sullen
cold of the North; and the result of her wanderings in 1846 was a lively
book upon Scandinavia and Iceland, describing perils which few men would
care to confront, with evidently unaffected enjoyment.

But these comparatively short excursions were but preliminary to the
great enterprise of her life, the prologue, as it were, to the five-act
drama, with all its surprises, hazards, amazing situations, and striking
scenes. The experience she had acquired as a traveller she resolved to
utilize in the accomplishment of a tour round the world, and on this
notable adventure she set out in June, 1846, being then in her fiftieth
year, on board the _Caroline_, a Danish brig, bound for Rio Janeiro. She
arrived at the Brazilian capital on the 16th of September, and remained
there for upwards of two months, exclusive of the time devoted to
excursions into the interior. On one of these excursions she narrowly
escaped the murderer's knife. She and her companion, in a lonely spot,
were overtaken by a negro, who, with a lasso in one hand and a long
knife in the other, suddenly sprang upon them, and gave them to
understand, more by gestures than words, that he intended to murder
them, and then drag their bodies into the forest. They had no arms,
having been told that the road was perfectly safe; their only defensive
weapons were their parasols, with the exception of a clasp knife, which
Ida Pfeiffer instantly drew from her pocket and opened, resolved to sell
her life as dearly as possible. They parried their adversary's blows as
long as they could with their parasols, but these did not long avail;
Madame Pfeiffer's broke in the struggle, leaving only a fragment of the
handle in her hand. The negro, however, dropped his knife; the
courageous woman made an effort to seize it; he thrust her away with his
hands and feet, recovered it, and brandishing it furiously over her
head, dealt her two wounds in the upper part of the left arm. She
thought she was lost, but despair nerved her to use her own knife; she
made a thrust at his breast, but succeeded only in wounding him severely
in the hand. At the same moment, her companion, Count Berchthold, sprang
forward, and while he seized the villain from behind, Madame Pfeiffer
regained her feet. All this took place in less than a minute. The negro
was now roused into a condition of maniacal fury; he gnashed his teeth
like a wild beast, and brandished his knife, while shouting fearful
threats. The issue of the contest would probably have been disastrous,
but for the opportune arrival of assistance. Hearing the tramp of
horses' hoofs upon the road, the negro desisted from his attack, and
sprang into the forest. A couple of horsemen turning the corner of the
road, our travellers hurried to meet them, and having heard their tale,
which, indeed, their wounds told eloquently enough, they leaped from
their horses, and entered the wood in pursuit. Two negroes afterwards
came up; the villain was captured, securely pinioned, and, as he would
not walk, severely beaten, until, as most of the blows fell upon his
head, Madame Pfeiffer feared the wretch's skull would be broken.
Nothing, however, would induce him to walk, and the negroes were
compelled to carry him bodily to the nearest house.

Our traveller was much impressed by the beauties of the tropical
scenery. In one of her rambles she crossed a small waterfall; she struck
right into the depths of the virgin forest, following a narrow path
along the bank of a little stream. Stately-crested palms waved high
above the other trees, which intertwining their inextricable boughs,
formed the loveliest fairy-bowers imaginable; every stem, every branch,
was garlanded with fantastic orchids; while ferns and creepers glided up
the tall, smooth trunks, mingling with the boughs, and spreading in
every direction waving curtains of flowers of the rarest fragrance and
vividest hues imaginable. With shrill twittering cry and rapid wing
flashed the humming-bird through the transparent air; the pepper-pecker,
with glowing plumage, rose timorously upwards; while parrots and
parroquets, and innumerable birds of beautiful appearance, enhanced, by
their voices and movements, the loveliness of the scene.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Rio Janeiro Madame Pfeiffer sailed in an English ship, the _John
Renwick_, on the 9th of September, for Valparaiso, the great sea-port of
Chili. In sailing southward, the ship touched at Santos, where the
voyagers celebrated New Year's Day, and they made the mouth of the Rio
Plata on the 11th of January. In these latitudes the Southern Cross is
the most conspicuous object in the heavens. It consists of five shining
stars, arranged in two diagonal rows. Towards the end of the month
Madame Pfeiffer gazed upon the sterile cliffs and barren mountains of
Patagonia, and next upon the volcanic rocks, wave-worn and wind-beaten,
of Fire-Land, or Tierra del Fuego. Through the Strait of Le Main, which
separates the latter from Staten Island, the voyagers passed onward to
the extreme southern point of the American Continent, the famous
promontory of Cape Horn. This is the last spur of the mighty
mountain-chain of the Andes, and consists of a mass of huge basaltic
rocks, piled together in huge disorder as by a Titan's hand.

Doubling Cape Horn they encountered a furious gale, which raged for
several days; and soon discovered, like other voyagers, how little the
great southern ocean deserves its name of the Pacific. "Such a storm as
this," says Ida Pfeiffer, "affords much food for reflection. You are
alone upon the boundless ocean, far from all human aid, and feel more
than ever that your life depends upon the Most High alone. The man who,
in such a dread and solemn moment can still believe there is no God,
must indeed be irretrievably struck with mental blindness. During such
convulsions of Nature a feeling of tranquil joy always comes over me. I
very often had myself bound near the binnacle, and allowed the
tremendous waves to break over me, in order to absorb, as it were, as
much of the spectacle before me as possible; on no occasion did I ever
feel alarmed, but always full of confidence and resignation."

Madame Pfeiffer reached Valparaiso on the 2nd of March. She was by no
means pleased with its appearance. It is laid out in two long streets,
at the foot of dreary hills, these hills consisting of a pile of rocks
covered with thin strata of earth and sand. Some of them are crowded
with houses; on one lies the church-yard; the others are sterile and
solitary. The two chief streets are broad and much frequented,
especially by horsemen, for every Chilian is born a horseman, and is
usually mounted on a steed worthy of a good rider.

Valparaiso houses are European in style, with flat Italian roofs. Broad
steps lead up into a lofty entrance-hall on the first floor, from which,
through large glass doors, the visitor passes into the drawing-room and
other apartments. The drawing-room is the pride, not only of every
European settler, but of every native Chilian. The foot sinks into heavy
and costly carpets; the walls are hung with rich tapestry; the furniture
and mirrors are from European makers, and gorgeous in the extreme.

A singular custom prevails among the Chilians on the death of a little
child. Such an incident is a cause of sorrow and tears in most European
families; in Chili it is the occasion of a great festival. The deceased
_angelito_, or little angel, is adorned in various ways. Its eyes,
instead of being closed, are opened as wide as possible; its cheeks are
painted red; then the cold rigid corpse is decked in the finest clothes,
crowned with flowers, and set up on a little chair in a flower-wreathed
niche. Relatives and neighbours crowd in to wish the parents joy in the
possession of such an angel; and, during the first night, they keep a
kind of Irish wake, indulging in the most extravagant dances, and
feasting before the _angelito_ in a mood of the wildest merriment.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 1st of March our adventurous traveller, having resolved on
putting a girdle round about the world, took her passage for China in
the Dutch barque _Lootpuit_, Captain Van Wyk Jurianse. On the 26th of
April, her eyes were gladdened with a view of the "island-Eden" of the
Southern seas, Tahiti, the largest and most beautiful of the Society
group. From the days of Bougainville, its discoverer, down to those of
"the Earl and the Doctor," who recently visited it, Tahiti has moved the
admiration of voyagers by the charms of its scenery. It lifts the summit
of its pyramidal mass out of a wealth of luxuriant vegetation, which
sweeps down to the very margin of a sea as blue as the sky above it.
Cool verdurous valleys slope gently into its mountain recesses, their
swelling declivities loaded with groves of bread-fruit and cocoa-nut
trees. The inhabitants, physically speaking, are not unworthy of their
island-home; a tall, robust, and well-knit race, they would be comely
but for their custom of flattening the nose as soon as the child is
born. They have thick jet-black hair and fine dark eyes. The colour of
their skin is a copper-brown. Both sexes, at the time of Ida Pfeiffer's
visit, preserved the custom of tattooing, the devices being often very
fanciful in design, and always artistically executed.

The Tahitian women have always been notorious for their immodesty; and
notwithstanding the past labours of English missionaries, the island
continues to be the Polynesian Paphos. The moral standard of the
population has not been raised since they came under the shadow of a
French protectorate.

Madame Pfeiffer undertook an excursion to the Lake Vaihiria, assuming
for the occasion a kind of masculine attire, very suitable if not
peculiarly becoming. She wore, she tells us, strong men's shoes,
trousers, and a blouse, which covered the hips. Thus equipped, she
started off with her guide, and in the first six miles waded through
about two-and-thirty brooks. Then, through a maze of ravines, she struck
off into the interior. As they advanced, she noticed that the fruit
trees disappeared, and that instead the slopes were covered with
plantains, tarros, and marantas, the last attaining a height of twelve
feet, and growing so luxuriantly that it was with some difficulty the
traveller made her way through the tangle. The tarro, or taro, which is
carefully cultivated, averages two or three feet in height, and has fine
large leaves and tubers like those of the potato, but not so good when
roasted. Very graceful is the appearance of the plantain, or banana,
which varies from twelve to fifteen feet in height, and has fine large
leaves like those of the palm, but a brittle reedy stem, not more than
eight inches in diameter. It attains its full growth in the first year,
bears fruit in the second, and then dies; thus its life is as brief as
it is useful.

Tahiti is an island of many waters; through one bright crystal
mountain-stream, which swept along the ravine over a stony bed, breaking
and dimpling into eddies and tiny whirlpools, and in some places
attaining a depth of three feet, Madame Pfeiffer and her guide waded, or
half swam, two-and-sixty times. We are filled with admiration at the
resolute spirit of this courageous woman, who, though the track at every
step became more difficult and dangerous, persisted in pressing forward.
She clambered over rocks and stones; she forced her way through
intertangled bushes; and, though severely wounded in hands and feet,
never faltered for a moment. At two points the ravine narrowed so
considerably that the entire area was filled by the brawling torrent.

In eight hours the bold traveller and her guide had walked, waded, and
clambered some eighteen miles, and attained an elevation of fully
eighteen hundred feet. The lake itself was not visible until they came
upon its very margin, for it lies deep down in a dark hollow among lofty
precipices, which, with startling abruptness, descend to the edge of the
darkling waters. To cross the lake the traveller must trust to his
swimming powers, or to a curiously frail kind of boat which the natives
construct on the spot with equal skill and rapidity. Ida Pfeiffer was
nothing if not adventurous, and whatever was to be dared, she
straightway confronted. At her request, the guide turned boat-builder.
He tore off some branches of plantain, bound them together with long
tough grass, laid a few leaves upon them, launched them in the water,
and then requested Madame Pfeiffer to embark. She acknowledges to have
felt a little hesitation, but, without saying a word, stepped "on
board." Her guide took to the water like a duck, and propelled the crazy
craft, which, however, made the transit of the lake, and back again,
without accident.

Having fully satisfied herself with admiring the lake and its
surrounding scenery, she withdrew to a little nook thatched over with
leaves, where her guide quickly kindled a good fire in the Indian
fashion. Cutting a small piece of wood to a fine point, and then
selecting a second piece, which he grooved with a narrow and not very
deep furrow, in this he rubbed the pointed stick until the fragments
detached during the process began to smoke. These he flung into a heap
of grass and dry leaves previously collected, and swung the whole
several times round in the air until it ignited. The entire operation
did not occupy more than two minutes. Some roasted plantains served for
supper; after which Madame Pfeiffer retired to her lonely couch of dry
leaves, to sleep as best she might. Who will refuse a tribute of
admiration to the courage, self-reliance, and intrepidity of this
remarkable woman? Who but must admire her wonderful physical
capabilities? How many of her sex could endure for a week the exposure
and fatigue to which she subjected herself year after year?

The night passed without any eventful incident, and on the following
morning she accomplished the return journey in safety.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 17th of May she left Tahiti, the Dutch vessel in which she had
embarked being bound _viâ_ the Philippines. This rich and radiant island
group they passed on the 1st of July, and the next day entered the
dangerous China Sea. Soon afterwards they reached Hong Kong, which had
been an English settlement since 1842. But as Madame Pfeiffer wanted to
see the Chinese at home, she made no stay in this hybrid town, but
ascended the Pearl River, marvelling much at the immense
rice-plantations on either bank, and the quaint little country houses,
with their fronts of coloured tiles, to Canton. As she approached this
great seat of commerce, she was much moved by the liveliness of the
scene. The river was thronged with ships and inhabited boats--with junks
almost as large as the old Spanish galleons, their poops impending far
over the water, and covered in with a roof, like a house; with
men-of-war, flat, broad, and long, mounted with twenty or thirty guns,
and ornamented in the usual Chinese mode, with two large painted eyes at
the prow, that they may be the better able to see their way. Mandarins'
boats she saw, with doors, and sides, and windows gaily painted, with
carved galleries, and tiny silken flags fluttering from every point. And
flower-boats she also saw; their upper galleries decked with flowers,
garlands, and arabesques, as if they were barks fitted out for the
enjoyment of Queen Titania and her fairy company. The interior is
divided into one large apartment and a few cabinets, which are lighted
by quaint-patterned windows. Mirrors and silken hangings embellish the
sides, while the enchanting scene is completed with a liberal store of
glass chandeliers and coloured paper lanterns, interspersed with lovely
little baskets of fresh flowers.

It was characteristic of Madame Pfeiffer that she found access to so
much which no European woman had ever seen before. She obtained entrance
even into a Buddhist temple--that of Honan, reputed to be one of the
finest in China. A high wall surrounds the sacred enclosure. The
visitor enters first a large outer court, and thence, through a huge
gateway, passes into the inner. Beneath the gateway stand the statues of
war-gods, each eighteen feet high, with faces terribly distorted, and in
the most threatening attitudes; these are supposed to prevent the
approach of evil genii. A second portal, similarly constructed, under
which the "four heavenly kings" sit enthroned, leads to a third court,
surrounding the principal sanctuary, which measures one hundred feet in
length, and is of equal breadth. On rows of wooden pillars rests a flat
roof, from which hang glass lamps, lustres, artificial flowers, and
brightly-coloured ribbons. All about the area are scattered altars,
statues, vases of flowers, censers, and candelabra.

But the eye is chiefly attracted by the three shrines in the foreground,
with the three coloured statues behind them, of Buddha, seated as
symbolical of Past, Present, and Future. On the occasion of Madame Ida
Pfeiffer's visit, a funeral ceremony was being performed in honour of a
mandarin's deceased wife. Before the right and left altars stood several
priests, in garments curiously resembling, as did the rites also
resemble, those of the Roman Church. The mandarin himself, attended by a
couple of fan-bearers, prayed before the middle altar. He kissed the
ground repeatedly, and each time he did so, thin, fragrant wax tapers
were put into his hands. These, after raising in the air, he handed to
the priests, who then stationed them, unlighted, before the Buddha
images. Meantime, the temple resounded with the mingling strains of
three musicians, one of whom struck a metal ball, while another scraped
a stringed instrument, and a third educed shrill notes from a kind of
flute.

This principal temple is surrounded by numerous smaller sanctuaries,
each decorated with images of deities, rudely wrought, but a-glow with
gold and vivid colours. Special reverence seems to be accorded to
Kwanfootse, a demi-god of war, and to the four-and-twenty gods of mercy.
These latter have four, six, and even eight arms. In the Temple of
Mercy, Madame Pfeiffer met with an unpleasant adventure. A Bonze had
offered her and her companions a couple of wax tapers to light in honour
of the god. They were on the point of compliance, as a mere act of
civility, when an American missionary, who was one of the visitors,
roughly snatched them from their hands, and gave them back to the
priests, protesting that such compliance was idolatrous. It was not
without difficulty they forced their way through the crowd, and escaped
from the temple.

The curiosity hunters were next led to the so-called House of the Sacred
Swine. These porcine treasures are as tenderly cared for as was Hamlet's
mother by Hamlet's father. They reside in a spacious hall of stone, but
the atmosphere, it must be owned, teems with odours that are not Sabæan.
Throughout their idle existence, the swine are reverentially cherished
and liberally fed; nor is the cruel knife permitted to cut short the
thread of their destiny. At the time of Ida Pfeiffer's visit, only one
pair were living in this otiose state, and the number seldom exceeds
three pairs.

       *       *       *       *       *

From China our adventurous lady sailed for the East Indies, "looking in"
on the way at Singapore, a British settlement, which forms the
meeting-place of the traders of South Asia. The scenery around it is of
a rich and agreeable character, and the island on which it is situated
excels in fertility of vegetation. Very pleasant the visitor finds it,
to saunter among the plantations of cloves and nutmegs, the air
breathing a peculiar balsamic fragrance, a concentration of sweet
odours. Pepper and gambie plantations are also among the sights of
Singapore. Further, it is an island of fruits. Here thrives the
delectable mangosteno, which almost melts in the mouth, and enchants the
palate with its exquisite flavour. Here, too, the pine-apple frequently
attains the weight of four pounds. Here grows the saucroys, as big as
the biggest pine-apple, green outside, and white or pale yellow inside,
with a taste and perfume like that of the strawberry. And to Singapore
belongs the custard-apple, which is as savoury as its compound name
implies.

From Singapore, Madame Pfeiffer crossed to Point de Galle, in Ceylon.
The charming appearance of this island from the sea moved her, as it
moves every traveller, to admiration. "It was one of the most
magnificent sights I ever beheld," she says, "that island soaring
gradually from the sea, with its mountain ranges growing more and more
distinctly defined, their summits lighted by the sun, while the dense
cocoa-groves, and the hills, and the plains lay shrouded in cool
shadows." Above the whole towers the purple mass of Adam's Peak, and
wherever the eye roams, it surveys the most prodigal foliage, and glades
rich in verdure, and turfy slopes deep in flowers.

Point de Galle presents a curious mixture of races. Cingalese,
Kanditores, Tamils from South India, and Moormans, with crimson caftans
and shaven crowns, form the bulk of the crowd that throng its streets;
but, besides these, there are Portuguese, Chinese, Jews, Arabs, Parsees,
Malays, Dutchmen, English, with half-caste burghers, and now and then a
veiled Arab woman, or a Veddah, one of the aboriginal inhabitants of the
island. Sir Charles Dilke speaks of "silent crowds of tall and graceful
girls, as we at first supposed, wearing white petticoats and bodices,
their hair carried off the face with a decorated hoop, and caught at the
back by a high tortoise-shell comb. As they drew near, moustaches began
to show, and I saw that they were men, whilst walking with them were
women naked to the waist, combless, and far more rough and 'manly' than
their husbands. Petticoats and chignons are male institutions in
Ceylon."

With indefatigable energy of mind and body, Madame Pfeiffer visited
Colombo and Kandy, the chief towns of the island. At the latter she
obtained admission to the temple of Dagoba, which contains a precious
relic of Buddha, namely, one of his teeth. The sanctuary enshrining it
is a small chamber or cell, less than twenty feet in breadth. It is
shrouded in darkness, for of windows there are none, and the door is
curtained inside, still more effectually to exclude the light. Rich
tapestry covers the walls and ceiling. But the principal object is the
altar, which glitters with plates of silver, and is encrusted about the
edges with precious stones. Upon it rests a bell-shaped case, about
three feet high, and at the base three feet in diameter. It is made of
silver, is elaborately gilt, and decorated with costly jewels. In the
middle blazes a peacock of precious stones. Six smaller cases, said to
be of gold, each diminishing in size, are enclosed within the large
case, and under the last is the tooth of Buddha. It is as large as that
of a great bull, so the great Indian philosopher must have had a
monstrous jaw!

Madame Pfeiffer arrived at Madras on the 30th of October. Thence she
proceeded to Calcutta, the city of palaces; but, of course, she adds
nothing to the information furnished by a swarm of travellers. She saw
the broad flood of the Ganges, and, filling a glass with its sacred
water, drank to the health of the Europeans and all whom she loved.

Throughout her Indian travel she felt much vexed at being conveyed in a
palanquin; it seemed a dishonouring of men to treat them as beasts of
burden. However, necessity prevailed over her humanitarian scruples.
Unlike the majority of Indian tourists, she went everywhere without an
expensive retinue of attendants; she had but one servant, yet she
contrived to go everywhere, and to see all that was to be seen. It is
worth noting that she reduced the cost of travel to a minimum, and
accomplished the circuit of the globe for a less sum than the rent of a
furnished house in Mayfair for only a twelvemonth. It is true that she
submitted to privations which the English tourist would deem
insupportable; she embarked in sailing ships because they were cheaper
than steamers; resorted to third-class railway carriages; avoided
expensive hotels; lived always with the "masses" and on plainest fare;
and dispensed with the services of dragoman or interpreter. But for all
that her enjoyment was not the less, and she saw much which, had she
travelled in the usual fashion, she would not have seen.

One is apt to think that a woman who accomplished such really remarkable
feats of endurance and energy must have been endowed with great physical
strength and robust proportions. But such was by no means the case. Her
stature did not exceed--nay, was below--the average, and there was
nothing masculine in her face or figure. "I smile," she says in one of
her letters, "when I think of those who, knowing me only through my
voyages, imagine that I must be more like a man than a woman! Those who
expect to see me about six feet high, of bold demeanour, and with pistol
in my belt, will find me a woman as peaceable and as reserved as most of
those who have never set foot outside their native village."

At Benares she saw the bazaars, and the temples, and the palaces; the
bathing in the Ganges, the burning of the dead on the bank of the sacred
river, and a nautchni or dance of nautches; but her attention was
chiefly drawn to the miserable fanaticism of the fakeers, who revelled
in self-imposed tortures. Thus they stuck an iron hook through the
flesh, and allowed themselves to be suspended by it at a height of
twenty or twenty-five feet; or for long hours they stood upon one foot
in the burning sunshine, with their arms rigidly extended in the air; or
they held heavy weights in various positions, swinging round and round
for hours together, and tearing the flesh from their bodies with red-hot
pincers. One man held a heavy axe over his head as if about to fell a
tree, and in this position stood immovable like a statue; another held
the point of his toe to his nose. Yet, from one point of view, these men
are right. What torture of the body can equal the torture of the soul?
If it were possible by any amount of physical pain to still and silence
the agony of conscience, who would not endure it? The greatest
condemnation of the self-cruelty of the fakeers is--its uselessness.

       *       *       *       *       *

In her tour through India Madame Pfeiffer visited Allahabad, at the
junction of the Jumna and the Ganges; Agra, where she surveyed with
admiring eyes the lovely Taj-Mahal, erected by the Sultan Jehan as a
memorial to his favourite wife, and the Pearl Mosque, renowned for the
beauty of its carving; Delhi, the ancient capital of the Moguls; the
cave-temples of Ellora and Ajunta, and the great commercial port of
Bombay.

Crossing the border of British India, she sailed to Bassora, and
ascended the historic Tigris--so named from the tiger-like swiftness of
its course--to Bagdad, that quaint Oriental city, which is associated
with so many wonderful legends and not less wonderful "travellers'
tales." This was of old the residence of the great Haroun-al-Raschid, a
ruler of no ordinary sagacity and the hero of many a picturesque
tradition, whose name the "Thousand and One Nights" have made familiar
to every English reader. It is still a populous and wealthy city, with,
we suspect, a future before it not less glorious than its past. Many of
its houses are surrounded by blooming gardens; its shops are bright with
the products of Eastern looms; and it descends in terraces to the river
banks, which are lined with orchards and groves of palm. Over all
extends the arch of a glowing sky.

From Bagdad Madame Pfeiffer made an excursion to the ruins of Babylon.
They consist of massive fragments of walls and columns, lying on either
side of the Euphrates.

On the 17th of June she joined a caravan which was bound for Mosul, a
journey of three hundred miles, occupying from twelve to fourteen days,
and lying across a desert country of the most inhospitable character.
Madame Pfeiffer's experiences on this journey were new and interesting.
One day she repaired to a small village in search of food. After
wandering from hut to hut, she obtained a small quantity of milk and
three eggs. These she laid in hot ashes, covering them completely;
filled her leathern flask from the Tigris, and thus provided regained
the encampment formed by the caravan. She ate her eggs and drank her
milk with an appetite, which, to an epicure, would have been a surprise.

The manufacture of butter at this village was conducted on primitive
principles. The cream was poured into a leathern bottle, and rolled
about on the ground until consolidated into butter, which was then
transferred to a bottle filled with water, and eventually turned out as
white as snow.

Next day, when they rested during the heat, the guide of the caravan
endeavoured to procure her a little shelter from the sun's pitiless
glare by laying a small cover over a couple of poles let into the
ground; but so small was the area thus protected, and so weak the
artificial tent, that she was compelled to sit immovably in one
position, as the slightest motion would have overthrown it. Shortly
afterwards, when she wished to dine, she could obtain nothing but
lukewarm water, bread so hard that she was obliged to soak it before it
was eatable, and a cucumber without salt or vinegar.

At a village near Kerku the caravan halted for ten days. On the first
day Madame Pfeiffer's patience was severely tested; for all the women of
the place hastened to examine "the strange woman." First they inspected
her clothes, and next wanted to take off her turban; in fact, they were
inquisitive beyond all toleration. At last, Madame Pfeiffer seized one
of them by the arm, and turned her out of her room with so much
promptitude that she had no time to think of resistance. By the
eloquence of gesture, our traveller made the others understand that,
unless they withdrew at once, a similarly abrupt dismissal awaited them.
She then drew a circle round her place, and forbade them to cross it; a
prohibition which was strictly respected.

She had next to settle with the wife of her guide, who had besieged her
the whole day, and incessantly petitioned for largesse. Fortunately her
husband came on the scene, and to him Madame Pfeiffer preferred her
complaint, threatening to leave his house and seek shelter elsewhere,
well knowing that the Arabs consider this a great disgrace. He
immediately ordered his wife to desist, and the traveller was at peace.
"I always succeeded," says Madame Pfeiffer, "in obtaining my own will. I
found that energy and boldness influence all people, whether Arabs,
Persians, Bedouins, or others." It was this strength of will which
crowned Madame Pfeiffer's enterprises with success.

Towards evening, she says, she saw, to her great delight, a caldron of
mutton seething on the fire. For eight days she had eaten nothing but
bread, cucumber, and a few dates; she had a great craving, therefore,
for a hot and more nutritious meal. But her appetite declined when the
style of cookery was forced on her notice. The old woman, her guide's
mother, threw several handfuls of small grain and a large quantity of
onions into a pan full of water to soften. In about half an hour she
thrust her dirty hands into the water, and mixed the whole together, now
and then taking a mouthful, and, after chewing it, spitting it back
again into the pan! She then took a dirty rag, strained off the juice,
and poured it over the flesh in the caldron. Madame Pfeiffer had firmly
resolved to refuse the dish, but when it was ready her appetite was so
keen, and the smell so savoury, that her resolution gave way, and she
comforted herself with the reflection that she must often have eaten of
food prepared in a similar manner. What we do not see, it is easy enough
to tolerate.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 28th of June the caravan reached Erbil, anciently Arbela, the
scene of one of Alexander the Great's most famous victories. Two days
later they crossed the great river Sab upon rafts of inflated skins,
fastened together with poles, and covered with reeds, canes, and planks.
Rapidly traversing the Mesopotamian wastes, they arrived at Mosul on the
1st of July, and thence Madame Pfeiffer proceeded to inspect the ruins
of Nineveh. Her description of them, however, presents no points of
interest to merit quotation.

A caravan being about to start for Tabrîz, Madame Ida Pfeiffer decided
that she would join it, though warned that it would traverse a country
containing not a single European. But, as we have seen, she was a woman
who knew not what fear was. Nothing could divert her from a fixed
purpose. She had made up her mind to go to Persia, and to Persia she
would go. The caravan set out on the 8th of July, and next day crossed
the hills that intervene between Mesopotamia and Kurdistan. The latter
country has never enjoyed a good reputation among travellers, and Madame
Pfeiffer's experience of it confirmed its evil fame. The travellers were
crossing a recently reaped corn-field, when half-a-dozen Kurds, armed
with stout cudgels, sprang out from their hiding-place among the
sheaves, and, seizing the bridles, poured out a volley of mingled oaths
and menaces. One of the travellers leaped from his steed, seized his
assailant by the throat, and, holding to his head a loaded pistol,
indicated his determination to blow out his brains. The effect of this
courageous conduct was immediate; the robbers desisted from their
attack, and were soon engaged in quite a friendly conversation with
those whom they had intended to plunder. At last they pointed out a good
site for an encampment, receiving in return a trifling backshish,
collected from the whole caravan.

A few days later, the travellers, having started at two in the morning,
passed into a sublime mountain valley, which the waters of a copious
stream had cleft through the solid rock. A narrow stony path followed
the upward course of the stream. The moon shone unclouded, or it would
have been difficult even for the well-trained horses of the caravan to
have kept their footing along the perilous way, encumbered as it was
with fallen masses of rock.

Like chamois, however, they scrambled up the steep mountain side, and
safely carried their riders round frightful promontories and past
dangerous and dizzy precipices. So wildly romantic was the scene, with
its shifting lights and shadows, its sudden bursts of silvery radiance
where the valley lay open to the moon, and its depths of darkness in
many a sinuous recess, that even Madame Pfeiffer's rude companions felt
the influence of its strange beauty; and, as they rode along, not a
sound was heard but the clatter of the horses' hoofs, and the fall of
rolling stones into the chasm below. But all at once thick clouds veiled
the moon, and so intense a darkness prevailed that the travellers could
scarcely discern each one his fellow. The leader continually struck fire
with a flint that the sparks might give his companions some indication
of the course. This, however, proved insufficient guidance; and at last,
as the horses began to miss their footing, their sole chance of safety
consisted in standing still. At daybreak, however, a grey light spread
over the scene, and the travellers found themselves surrounded by a ring
of lofty mountains, rising one above the other in grand gradation, and
superbly dominated by one mighty, snow-crowned, massive summit.

The journey was resumed. Soon the travellers became aware of the fact
that the path was sprinkled with spots of blood. At last they came to a
place where crimsoned a complete pool; and looking down into the ravine,
they could see two human bodies, one about a hundred feet below them,
the other, which had rolled farther, half hidden by a projecting crag.
They were glad to leave behind them this wild Aceldama.

       *       *       *       *       *

At a town called Ravandus, Madame Pfeiffer had numerous opportunities of
observing the manners and customs of the Kurds. What she saw by no means
prepossessed her in their favour; the women were idle, ignorant, and
squalid; the men worked as little and robbed as much as they could. The
Kurds practise polygamy; their religion is simply the practice of a few
formalities which repetition renders meaningless. The costume of the
wealthier is absolutely Oriental, but that of the common people differs
in some particulars. The men wear wide linen trousers, and over them a
shirt confined round the waist by a girdle, with a sleeveless woollen
jacket made of stuff of only a hand's-breadth, sewed together. Instead
of white trousers some affect brown, but these are by no means
picturesque; they look like sacks with two holes for the insertion of
the feet--the said feet being encased in red or yellow leather boots,
with huge iron heels; or in shoes of coarse white wool, adorned with
three tassels. The turban is the universal head-covering.

The women don loose trousers, and red or yellow iron-heeled boots, like
those of the men; but over all they throw a long blue garment, which, if
not tucked up under the girdle, would depend some inches below the
ankles. A large blue shawl descends below the knee. Round their heads
they twist black shawls, turban-wise, or they wear the red fez, with a
small silk handkerchief wound about it; and on the top of this, a kind
of wreath made of short black fringe, worn like a diadem, but leaving
the forehead free. The hair falls in narrow braids over the shoulders,
and from the turban droops a heavy silver chain. As a head-dress it is
remarkably effective; and it is only just to say that it frequently sets
off really handsome faces, with fine features and glowing eyes.

In the course of her wanderings through the wild highlands of Persia,
Madame Pfeiffer came to Urumiyéh, on the borders of the salt lake of
that name, which, in some of its physical features, closely resembles
the Dead Sea. Urumiyéh is a place of some celebrity, for it gave birth
to Zaravusthra (or Zoroaster), the preacher of a creed of considerable
moral purity, which still claims a large number of adherents in Asia.
Entering a more fertile country, she reached Tabrîz in safety, and
rejoiced to find herself again within the influence of law and order.
Tabrîz, the residence of a viceroy, is a handsomely built town, with
numerous silk and leather manufactories; it is reputed to be one of the
chief seats of Asiatic commerce. Its streets are clean and tolerably
broad; in each a little rivulet is carried underground, with openings at
regular intervals giving access to the water. Of the houses the
passer-by sees no more than is seen in any other Oriental town: lofty
windowless walls, with low entrances to the street, while the inner
front looks upon open courtyards, which bloom with trees and flowers,
and usually adjoin a pleasant garden.

On the 16th of August, Madame Pfeiffer quitted Tabrîz, and in a vehicle
drawn by post-horses she set out, with one attendant, for Natchivan. At
Arax she crossed the Russian frontier. Reaching Natchivan after an
uneventful journey, she joined a caravan bound for Tiflis, the drivers
of which were Tartars. Of the latter she remarks that they do not live
so frugally as the Arabs. Every evening a savoury pilau was made for
their enjoyment, frequently with dried grapes or plums.

The caravan route lay through the large fertile valleys which lie at the
base of Ararat. Of that famous and majestic mountain, which lifts its
wan and aged brow some 16,000 feet above the sea-level, our traveller
obtained a noble view. Its summit is cloven into two peaks; and in the
hollow between, an ancient tradition affirms that Noah's ark rested on
the subsidence of the Great Flood.

In the neighbourhood of a town called Sidin, Madame Pfeiffer met with a
curious adventure. She was returning from a short walk, when catching
the sound of approaching post-horses, she paused for a moment to see the
travellers, who consisted of a Russian seated in an open car, with a
Cossack carrying a musket by his side. As soon as the vehicle had passed
she resumed her walk; when, to her astonishment, it stopped suddenly,
and almost at the same moment she felt a strong grasp on her arms. It
was the Cossack, who endeavoured to drag her to the car. She struggled
with him, and pointing to the caravan, said she belonged to it; but the
fellow put his hand on her mouth, and flung her into the car, where she
was firmly seized by the Russian. Then the Cossack sprang in, and away
they went at a smart gallop. The whole affair was the work of a few
seconds; so that Madame Pfeiffer could scarcely tell what had happened;
and as the man still held her tightly, and kept her mouth covered up,
she was unable to give an alarm. The brave woman, however, preserved her
composure, and speedily arrived at the conclusion that her gallant
captors had mistaken her for some dangerous spy. Uncovering her mouth,
they began to question her closely; and Madame Pfeiffer understood
Russian sufficiently to be able, in reply, to tell them her name, native
country, and her object in travelling. This, however, did not satisfy
them, and they asked for her passport, which she could not show them, as
it was in her portmanteau.

At length they reached the post-house. Madame Pfeiffer was shown into a
room, at the door of which the Cossack stationed himself with his
musket. She was detained all night; but the next morning, having fetched
her portmanteau, they examined her passport, and were then good enough
to dismiss her, without offering any apology, however, for their
shameful treatment of her. To such discourtesies travellers in Russian
territories are too often exposed. It is surprising that a powerful
government should stoop to so much craven fear and petty suspicion.

From Tiflis our traveller proceeded across Georgia to Redutkalé, whence
she made her way to Kertch, on the shore of the Sea of Azov; and thence
to Sevastopol, destined a few years later to become the scene of a great
historic struggle. She afterwards reached Odessa, one of the great
European granaries, situated at the mouth of the Dniester on the Euxine.
From Odessa to Constantinople the sea-distance is four hundred and
twenty miles. She made but a brief sojourn in the Turkish capital.
Taking the steamer to Smyrna, she passed through the star-like clusters
of the isles of Greece--those isles "where burning Sappho loved and
sung;" and from Smyrna she hastened to Athens. There she trod, indeed,
upon "hallowed ground." Every shattered temple, every ruined monument,
every fragment of arch or column, recalled to her some brave deed of
old; or some illustrious name of philosopher, statesman, poet, patriot,
enshrined for ever in the world's fond remembrance. Madame Pfeiffer was
not a scholar, but she had read enough to feel her sympathies awakened
as she gazed from the lofty summit of the Acropolis on the plains of
Attica and the waters of the Ægean, on Salamis and Marathon. She was not
an artist, but she had a feeling for the beautiful; and she examined
with intense delight the Parthenon, the Temple of Theseus, the Olympian,
the Tower of the Winds, and the graceful choragic monument of
Lysicrates. These, however, have been more fitly described by writers
capable of doing them justice, and Madame Pfeiffer's brief and
commonplace allusions may well be overlooked.

From Athens to Corinth, and from Corinth to Corfu, and thence to
Trieste. Our traveller's bold enterprise was completed on the 30th of
October, and she could honourably boast of having been the first woman
to accomplish the circuit of the globe. She had been absent from Vienna
just two years and six months, and had travelled 2,800 miles by land,
and 35,000 miles by sea. Such an achievement necessarily crowned her
with glory; and when she published her plain and unaffected narrative of
"A Woman's Journey Round the World," it met at once with a most
favourable reception.

At first, on her return home, she spoke of her travelling days as over,
and represented herself, at the age of fifty-one, as desirous only of
peace and repose. But her love of action, her craving after new scenes,
her thirst for knowledge could not long be repressed; and as she felt
herself still strong and healthy, with energies as potent as ever, she
resolved on a second circuit of the globe. Her funds having been
augmented by a grant of 1,500 florins from the Austrian Government, she
quitted Vienna on the 18th of March, 1851, proceeded to London, and
thence to Cape Town, where she arrived on the 11th of August. Her
original intention was to penetrate the African interior as far as Lake
Ngami; but eventually she resolved on exploring the Eastern Archipelago.
At Sarâwak, the British settlement in Borneo, she received a warm
welcome from Rajah Sir James Brooke, a man of heroic temper and unusual
capacities for command and organization. As soon as she could complete
the necessary preparations, she boldly plunged into the very heart of
the island--a region almost unknown to Europeans. This was the most
daring enterprise of her life, and of itself stamps her as no ordinary
woman--as, in truth, a woman of scarcely less heroic temper than the
boldest adventurers of the other sex. To endure the pains and perils of
such a journey she must have had, not only a remarkable physical energy,
but a scarcely less remarkable energy of mind. Night after night she
passed in the depths of the vast Bornean forest, a little rice her only
food--journeying all day through thickets, which lacerated her feet;
swimming brooks and rivers too deep to be forded; recoiling before no
form of danger, however unexpected; and astonishing the very savages by
her daring and endurance. She equipped herself in a costume of her own
devising, well adapted for the work she had to do; and protected her
head with a large banana leaf from the burning rays of a tropical sun.
No conjuncture, however critical, found her without resources; and we
hesitate not to say that in the whole history of discovery and
geographical enterprise there is no more wonderful or exciting chapter
than that which records Madame Ida Pfeiffer's travels in the interior of
Borneo.

We owe to her enterprise an interesting account of the character and
usages of the Dyaks. Their ferocity of disposition is proverbial in the
East. It is said that when a Dyak has promised a head--a human head--to
the woman he loves, he will obtain it at any cost. Whether he strikes
down friend or foe he cares not, so long as he secures the ghastly
gift; and his eye being as sure as that of the tiger, his arrow never
misses its aim. When we remember that these savages are cannibals, that
they had never before seen among them an European woman, and that Ida
Pfeiffer went without guard or guide, we begin to realize the full
extent of her daring. But boldness is always the best policy: this
plain-featured, middle-aged woman commanded the respect and admiration
of her hosts, and went from encampment to encampment in entire security.

After visiting the island of Celebes she repaired to Sumatra, which is
inhabited by a race of men even more sanguinary than the Dyaks, namely,
the Battahs, who slake their thirst in human blood, and make of
anthropophagism a "fine art!" It is said that some of the tribes
purchase slaves on purpose to devour them, while, as a matter of course,
prisoners taken in battle and shipwrecked seamen fall victims to their
cannibal appetites. Many voyagers agree in asserting that they also deal
in the same hideous fashion with their old men, who, when they cease to
be of any service to the tribe, are deemed unworthy of longer life; the
sons themselves become the executioners of their fathers, coolly
fastening them to a tree and hacking them to pieces, without showing the
slightest emotion at the spectacle of their agony.

In the course of her explorations in Sumatra, she found herself, on one
occasion, surrounded by a tribe of savages, who would undoubtedly have
treated her as an enemy, if she had not behaved with remarkable
presence of mind. The natives who accompanied her took to flight, and
left her to face the danger alone. "These savages," she says, "were six
feet in stature, and the natural ugliness of their features was
increased by the rage that contorted them. Their large mouths, with
projecting teeth, resembled the jaw of a wild beast. They deafened me
with their yells.... I did not lose my head, but pretending to feel
perfectly assured, I seated myself on a stone close at hand.... The
gestures of the savages left no doubt of their intentions; with their
knives they simulated the action of cutting my throat, with their teeth
they seemed to rend my arms, and they moved up and down their jawbones
as if my flesh were already in their mouths.... Rising, I went straight
to the nearest man, and striking him familiarly on the shoulder, I said,
with a smile, half in Malay and half in Battah, 'Come, come, you will
never have the heart to kill and eat a woman, and an old woman like me,
whose skin is harder than leather!'" A roar of laughter greeted this
courageous speech, and the speaker was immediately received into the
friendship of her savage auditors, who overwhelmed her with marks of
goodwill and admiration.

Having "looked in" at Banda and Amboyna, Madame Pfeiffer quitted the
Moluccas, and having obtained a gratuitous passage across the Pacific,
sailed for California. On the 29th of September, 1853, she arrived at
San Francisco. At the end of the year she sailed for Callao, the port of
Lima, with the design of crossing the Andes, and pushing eastward,
through the interior of South America, to the Brazilian coast. A
revolution in Peru compelled her, however, to change her course, and she
made her way to Ecuador, which served as a starting-point for her ascent
of the Cordilleras. After witnessing an eruption of the volcano of
Cotopaxi, she retraced her steps to the West. In the neighbourhood of
Guayaquil she had two very narrow escapes--one by a fall from her mule,
and another by accidentally falling into the river Guaya, which swarms
with alligators. In no part of the world did she meet with so little
sympathy or so much discourtesy as in Spanish America, and she was
heartily glad to set sail for Panama.

Crossing the Isthmus towards the close of May, 1854, she sailed for New
Orleans. Thence she ascended the majestic but muddy Mississippi to
Napoleon, and the Arkansas to Fort Smith. A severe attack of fever
detained her for several days. On recovering her strength she travelled
to St. Louis, the Falls of St. Anthony, Chicago--which was then
beginning to justify its claim to the title of "Queen of the West"--and
the vast inland seas of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario.
After a rapid visit to Canada, she recrossed the frontier of the United
States; and from Boston proceeded to New York and other great cities,
and then undertook the voyage to England, where she arrived on the 21st
of November, 1854. The narrative of her adventures was published in
1856, under the title of "My Second Journey Round the World."

[Illustration: CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.]

It might have been supposed that, at the age of fifty-nine, this female
Odysseus would have rested content with her world-wanderings, and spent
the few remaining years of life in peace; but her restless spirit could
not endure inaction. There is something in the nature of travel to
stimulate rather than satisfy the appetite, and it does not seem that
any who have once entered on the vocation are able or willing to
withdraw themselves from it. The charm of perpetual motion is upon them,
as upon that unfortunate Jew, who, bending beneath the weight of
eighteen hundred years, is still supposed to be roaming over the face of
the earth.

On the 21st of May, 1856, she once more took up her pilgrim's staff. Her
first visits were made to the great cities of Western Europe--Berlin,
Amsterdam, Leyden, Rotterdam, Paris, and London. In each the scientific
world received her with open arms. At Paris she was specially honoured
by the _Société de Géographie_. At a public reception she was addressed
by the president, de Jomard, who, after briefly enumerating her titles
to distinction, said:--"Madame, in your favour we design to commit an
irregularity of which our Society is proud: we name you an honorary
member by the side of your country-men, Humboldt and Karl Ritter;" and
recalling a famous saying, he added, "Nothing is wanting to your glory,
madame, but you are wanting to ours."

She now undertook--what to her was merely a brief holiday-trip--the
voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. There she hesitated for a while in
what direction she should turn her adventurous steps before she pushed
forward to the goal on which she had fixed her aims--Madagascar. At
length she decided on a visit to the Mauritius.

In the scenery of this rich and beautiful island she saw much to admire.
Its volcanic mountains are characterized by the boldest and most
picturesque outlines. Its vegetation witnesses everywhere to Nature's
lavish use of her materials. Each deep gorge or mountain-valley blooms
with foliage; the slopes are hung with stately trees, graceful shrubs,
and masses of creeping and climbing plants; from crag to crag falls the
silver of miniature cascades. Madame Pfeiffer did not fail to visit the
sugar-cane plantations, which cover the broad and fertile plains of
Pamplimousse. She learned that the sugar-cane is not raised from seed,
but that pieces of cane are planted. The first cane requires eighteen
months to ripen; but as, meanwhile, the chief stem throws out shoots,
each of the succeeding harvests can be gathered in at intervals of
twelve months: hence four crops can be obtained in four years and a
half. After the fourth harvest, the field must be cleared completely of
the cane. If the land be virgin soil, on which no former crop has been
raised, fresh slips of cane may be planted immediately, and thus eight
crops secured in nine years. But if such be not the case, "umbregades"
must be planted; that is, a leafy plant, growing to the height of eight
or nine feet, the leaves of which continually falling, decay, and
fertilize the soil. After two years the plants are rooted out, and the
ground is once more occupied by a sugar plantation.

When the canes are ripe, and the harvest begins, as many canes are cut
down every day as can be pressed and boiled at once. The cane is
introduced between two rollers, set in motion by steam power, and
pressed until it is quite flat and dry; in this state it is used for
fuel. The juice is strained successively into six pans, of which the
first is exposed to the greatest heat, the force of the fire being
diminished gradually under each of the others. In the last pan the sugar
is found half crystallized. It is then deposited on great wooden tables
to cool, and granulate into complete crystals of about the size of a
pin's head. Lastly it is poured into wooden colanders, to filter it
thoroughly from the molasses still remaining. The whole process occupies
eight or ten days. Such, in brief, is Madame Pfeiffer's explanation.

Our adventurous lady--now in her sixtieth year--made an excursion, of
course, to Mont Orgueil, which commands a very fine view of the island
scenery. On one side the high ridge of the Mont Brabant, which is linked
to the mainland only by a narrow neck of earth, stretches far out into
the shining sea; near at hand rises the Pitou de la Rivière Noire, the
loftiest summit in the island--2,564 feet. In another direction are
visible the green heights of the Tamarin and the Rempart; in a fourth
may be seen the three-headed mountain called the Trois Mammelles.
Contiguous to these opens a deep caldron, two of the sides of which
have broken down in ruin, while the others remain erect and precipitous.
Besides these, the view includes the Caps de Garde du Port Louis de
Mocca, Le Pouce, with its narrow peak projecting over the plateau like a
thumb, and the precipitous Peter Botte.

Madame Pfeiffer also paid a visit to the Trou de Cerf, or "Stag's Hole,"
a crater of perfectly regular formation, brimful of bloom and foliage.
As its locality is indicated by no sign or landmark, the traveller is
seized with astonishment on suddenly finding it lying open beneath his
feet. The prospect from this point embraces three-fourths of the island;
majestic mountains clothed in virgin forests almost to their very
crests; wide-spreading plains, green with the sugar-cane plantations;
rich verdure-clad valleys where the shadows drowsily linger; and beyond,
and all around, the dark blue shining sea with a fringe of pearly foam
indicating the broken outline of the coast.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was on the 25th of April, 1857, that Madame Pfeiffer sailed for
Madagascar, and on the last day of the month she reached the port of
Tamatavé. Of late years Tamatavé has grown into a place of much
commercial importance, but in Madame Pfeiffer's time it was but a poor,
though a very large village, with between 4,000 and 5,000 inhabitants.
Obtaining permission to pass into the interior of the island, she
penetrated as far as Antananarivo, or "City of a Thousand Towers," the
capital. As she approached it, she could see it picturesquely planted
on a high hill that rose almost suddenly out of the broad and fertile
inland plain; and after a pleasant journey through rich and beautiful
scenery, she came upon the suburbs, which enclose it on all sides.

At first the suburbs were simply villages; but they have gradually
expanded until they have touched one another, and formed a united
aggregate. Most of the houses are built of earth or clay; but those
belonging to the city itself must, by royal decree, be constructed of
planks, or at least of bamboo. They are all of a larger size than the
dwellings of the villagers; are much cleaner, and kept in better
condition. The roofs are very high and steep, with long poles reared at
each end by way of ornament. Many of the houses, and sometimes groups of
three or four houses, are encircled by low ramparts of earth, which,
apparently, serve no other purpose than to separate the courtyards from
the neighbouring tenements. The streets and squares are all very
irregularly built; the houses are not placed in rows, but in
clusters--some at the foot of the hill, others on its slopes. The summit
is occupied by the royal palace.

When Madame Pfeiffer visited Madagascar, its sovereign was Queen
Ranavala, a woman notorious for her blood-thirstiness, her antipathy to
Europeans, and her persecution of the Christian converts. That from this
feminine tyrant she obtained so many concessions--such as permission to
travel about the island, and even admission to the royal presence, would
seem to argue the possession of some faculty of fascination. Her
reception by the Queen was not without interest.

Towards four o'clock in the afternoon Madame Pfeiffer was conveyed to
the palace, over the door of which a great gilded eagle expands its
wings. According to rule, in stepping across the threshold the visitor
put her right foot foremost; and this formula she also observed on
entering, through a second gateway, the spacious courtyard in front of
the palace. Here the Queen was visible, having her seat in a balcony on
the first story, and Madame Pfeiffer and her attendants stood in a row
in the courtyard opposite to her. Under the balcony some soldiers were
going through various evolutions, which terminated, comically enough, in
a sudden lifting up of the right foot as if it had been stung by a wasp.

The Queen was attired in a wide silk _simboo_, and wore on her head a
large golden crown. She sat in the shade, but, nevertheless, an ample
umbrella of crimson silk--throughout the East a sign of royal
dignity--was held over her head. She was of rather dark complexion,
strongly and even sturdily built, and, though seventy-five years of age,
remarkably hale and active. On her right stood her son, Prince Rakoto;
on her left, her adopted son, Prince Ramboasalama. Behind her were
gathered nephews, nieces, and other relatives, and the dignitaries and
grandees of the kingdom.

The minister who introduced Madame Pfeiffer and her companion--M.
Lambret, a French adventurer, who at one time played a prominent part
in the affairs of Madagascar--addressed a short speech to the Queen;
after which the visitors had to bow thrice, and to repeat the words
"Esaratsara tombokoe" (We salute you cordially), the Queen replying,
"Esaratsara" (We salute you). They then turned to the left to salute
King Radama's tomb, which was close at hand, with three similar bows,
afterwards taking up their former position in front of the balcony, and
making three additional obeisances. M. Lambret next held up a gold piece
of eighty francs value, and placed it in the hands of the minister who
had introduced them. This gift, which is presented by every stranger, is
called "Monosina." The Queen then asked M. Lambret if he wished to put
any question to her, or if he needed anything, and also addressed a few
words to Madame Pfeiffer. The obeisances and greetings were then
resumed, due reverence was paid to King Radama's monument, and the
visitors, as they retired, were again cautioned not to put the left foot
first over the threshold.

Soon afterwards, Queen Ranavala gave a banquet in honour of her visitor,
and invited--or, perhaps, we should say commanded--her to give a musical
performance before all her court.

"To-day," she writes in her journal, "I have had the great honour to
show my talent, or rather my ignorance, on the piano before the Queen.
In my youth I had been a tolerable musician, but, alas, that was long
ago. For thirty years I had forgotten the instrument. Who would ever
have thought that I should one day be summoned to perform before a queen
and her court, and at the age of sixty, when I fumbled more atrociously
than do children who have had a few months' lessons?... With great
difficulty I forced my old stiff fingers to run through some scales and
exercises. I learned a few waltzes, and some other dance airs, and thus
prepared, ventured to challenge the judgment of the severe Aristarchuses
of Madagascar.

"I sat down at the piano, and began to play; but what were my feelings
at finding it so out of order that not one note was in tune, and that
several of the keys responded to the strongest pressure with an
obstinate silence? And it was upon such an instrument I was to perform!
But the true artist-genius rises above all such difficulties, and
electrified by the thought of displaying my talent before a public of
such enlightened amateurs, I set to work to accomplish the most
unpolished roulades imaginable, to stamp my best on the rebellious keys,
and to play _sans suite et sans raison_.... As a reward, I had the
satisfaction of perceiving that my talent was generally appreciated, and
of obtaining her Majesty's thanks. The same day, as a signal mark of her
gracious favour, I received a number of fowls and a large basketful of
eggs."

       *       *       *       *       *

Unfortunately, during Madame Pfeiffer's sojourn at Antananarivo, a
conspiracy was formed for the purpose of dethroning the tyrant queen
Ranavala in favour of the next heir, Radama. It failed, however, and
those concerned in it were ruthlessly punished. The Christians, who were
supposed to have encouraged and abetted it, were now exposed to Queen
Ranavala's tempestuous wrath, and Madame Pfeiffer and her companions
found themselves in a position of exceeding peril. She was thrown into
prison, and it seemed impossible that she should escape with her life.
She writes:--"To-day was held in the Queen's palace a great kabar, which
lasted six hours and was very stormy. The kabar concerned us Europeans,
and met to decide our fate. According to the ordinary way of the world,
nearly all our friends, from the moment that they saw our cause lost,
abandoned us, and the majority, to avoid all suspicion of having had a
share in the conspiracy, insisted on our condemnation with even more
bitterness than our enemies themselves. That we deserved the penalty of
death was a point on which the agreement was soon very general; only the
mode in which we were to be dispatched furnished the matter for
prolonged discussion. Some voted for our public execution in the
market-place; others for an attack by night on our house; others, again,
that we should be invited to a banquet, at which we might either be
poisoned, or, on a given signal, massacred.

"The Queen hesitated between these different proposals; but she would
certainly have adopted and carried out one of them, if the Prince Rakoto
had not come forward as our tutelary genius. He protested strongly
against a sentence of death. He implored the Queen not to yield to her
impulse of anger, and laid special stress on the fact that the European
Powers would assuredly not allow the murder of persons so considerable
as we were to pass unpunished. Never, I am told, has the Prince
expressed his opinion before the Queen in so lively and firm a manner.
The news reached us through a few rare friends, who, contrary to our
expectation, had remained faithful to us.

"Our captivity had lasted nearly a fortnight: we had passed thirteen
long days in the most painful uncertainty as to our fate, expecting
every moment a fatal decision, and trembling day and night at the
slightest sound. It was a frightful, a terrible time.

"This morning I was seated at my desk. I had just laid aside my pen, and
was meditating whether, after the last kabar, the Queen would not have
come to a decision. All at once I heard an extraordinary noise in the
court. I was about to leave my room, the windows of which looked in an
opposite direction, to see what was the matter, when Mons. Laborde, one
of the conspirators, came to inform me that another great kabar was to
be held in the court, and that we were summoned to be present.

"We went, and found upwards of a hundred persons, judges and nobles and
officers, seated in a large semi-circle upon chairs and benches, and
some upon the ground. Behind them was drawn up a detachment of soldiers.
One of the officers received us, and assigned us places in front of the
judges. The latter were attired in long white _simboos_; their eyes were
fixed upon us with a sombre and ferocious glare, and for awhile the
silence of death prevailed. I confess that at first I felt somewhat
afraid, and I whispered to M. Laborde, 'I think our last hour has
arrived.' He replied, 'I am prepared for everything.'"

Happily, the balance went down in favour of mercy. Madame Pfeiffer, and
the other six Europeans then in Antananarivo, were ordered to quit the
capital immediately. They were only too thankful to obey the order, and
within an hour were on their way to Tamatavé, escorted by seventy
Malagasy soldiers. They had good reason to congratulate themselves on
their escape, for on the very morning of their departure, two Christians
had been put to death with the most horrible tortures.

The journey to Tamatavé was not unattended by dangers and difficulties;
and Madame Pfeiffer, who had been attacked with fever, underwent much
suffering. No doubt the recent mental strain had enfeebled her nervous
system, and rendered her more liable to disease. The escort purposely
delayed them on their journey; so that, instead of reaching the coast,
as they should have done, in eight days, the time actually occupied was
three-and-fifty. As the road traversed a low-lying and malarious
country, the consequences of such a delay were as serious as they were
probably meant to be. In the unhealthiest spots, moreover, the
travellers were forced to linger for a week or even a fortnight; and
frequently when Madame Pfeiffer was in agony from a violent access of
fever, the brutal soldiers would drag her from her wretched couch, and
compel her to continue the journey.

       *       *       *       *       *

At length, on the 12th of September, she arrived at Tamatavé; broken
down, and unutterably weary and worn, but still alive. Ill as she was,
she hastened to embark on board a ship that was on the point of sailing
for the Mauritius; and reaching that pleasant island on the 22nd, met
with a warm welcome from her friends--to whom, indeed, she was as one
who had been dead and was alive again.

The suspense, the long journey, the combined mental and physical
sufferings which she had undergone, and the ravages of fever, reduced
her to a condition of such weakness that, at one time, her recovery
seemed impossible. But careful watching and nursing warded off the
enemy; and on her sixtieth birthday, October 14th, the doctors
pronounced her out of danger. But a fatal blow had been given to her
constitution; the fever became less frequent and less violent in its
attacks, but never wholly left her. Her mind, however, recovered its
elasticity, and with its elasticity, its old restlessness; and she once
more began to project fresh schemes of travel. All her preparations were
complete for a voyage to Australia, when a return of her disease, in
February, 1858, compelled her to give up the idea and to direct her
steps homeward.

In the month of June she reached London. After a few weeks' stay she
proceeded to Berlin.

Her strength, formerly exceptional, was now rapidly declining; though at
first she seemed unconscious of the change, or regarded it as only
temporary, and displayed her characteristic impatience of repose. But
about September she evinced a keen anxiety to return home; and her
friends perceived that the conviction of approaching death was at the
bottom of this anxiety. Growing rapidly feeble, she was conveyed to
Vienna, to the house of her brother, Charles Reyer; and, for a few days,
it seemed as if the influence of her native air would act as a
restorative. The improvement, however, did not last, and her malady
(cancer of the liver) returned with increased violence. During the last
days of her life, opiates were administered to relieve her physical
pain; and in the night between the 27th and the 28th of October, she
passed away peacefully, almost as one who sleeps.



MADAME DE BOURBOULON.


We must not omit from our chronicle of female travellers the name of
Madame Catherine de Bourboulon. Of her biography we know no more than
that, a Scotchwoman by birth, she married a French diplomatist, who, in
1860, was serving the State as French ambassador to the Court of Pekin.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the month of August, 1860, she was temporarily residing at Shanghai.
It would be interesting to know what the Chinese people thought of this
handsome and self-possessed lady; unaccustomed as they were and are to
visits from European women, and unfamiliar as they were and are with the
idea that a person of the _grand monde_ in nowise compromises her
dignity by travelling about as freely and walking as readily as servants
and females of the lower classes. "To see ourselves as others see us" is
always instructive and interesting; and a sketch of Madame de Bourboulon
by the Chinese would not be less valuable than a sketch of the Chinese
by Madame de Bourboulon.

Fortune had not been kind to Madame de Bourboulon in throwing her into
Shanghai during the great Taïping conspiracy, and compelling her to be
an eye-witness of the crimes which sullied it. Beneath her windows were
carried every day the dead bodies of the poor creatures massacred by the
Taïpings, and she followed with reluctant gaze these sad "waifs and
strays" as the river conveyed them seawards.

Though her health was not good, she hastened, on the conclusion of
peace, to follow her husband to Pekin. From Shanghai to the Gulf of
Petchi-li, into which the Peiho empties its waters, the distance is two
hundred leagues. Our traveller embarked on board the steam despatch-boat
_Fi-lung_, which was escorted by a man-of-war brig. On crossing the
river-bar, she saw before her the celebrated Taku forts, and higher up
the river the town of Pehtang, with immense plains of sorghum, maize,
and millet spreading as far as the eye could see.

On the 12th of November she arrived at Tien-tsin. The French legation
was established in a rich _yamoun_, which, under the presiding genius of
Madame de Bourboulon, soon become the highly _recherché_ centre of
European society. There, Chinese art displayed all its marvels of design
and workmanship; the colours of the rainbow glittered everywhere; the
walls were emblazoned with pleasant landscapes, azure seas, transparent
lakes, shadowy forests, an imperial hunting party, with antelopes and
roebucks flying before the loud-mouthed hounds; in a word, with all the
delights of a Chinese earthly paradise. But Madame de Bourboulon did
not confine herself to social pleasures; her heart and hand were ever
ready for charitable labours, and the Chinese poor had ample occasion to
acknowledge her beneficence. Among other works of mercy, she adopted a
young orphan girl, of whom she says:--"My little companion eats well and
sleeps well. She is full of mirth, and seems neither to remember nor to
care for the terrible catastrophe which separated her from her parents,
massacred at the capture of Pehtang. Her feet are not yet completely
deformed; however, when we remove the bandages which compress them, she
does not forget to replace them at night. It is not only in China that
coquetry or fashion stimulates its victims to torture and disfigure
God's handiwork: the unnaturally small feet of the Chinese women are at
least not more injurious or unsightly than the unnaturally small waists
of the ladies of Europe!"

What the Chinese think of their women may be inferred from a
characteristic incident, of which Madame de Bourboulon is the narrator.

The cook of the embassy, Ky-tsin, was a man with more years than
gallantry. One day he went to see his wives and children, who resided at
some distance; on his return, Madame de Bourboulon put some questions to
him respecting his family. "The wives," he replied, in his bad French,
and with an air of sovereign contempt, "_pas bon, pas bon, bambou,
bambou!_" The stick seems to be the only, or at least the favourite,
argument of the Chinese in their dealings with the other sex; and in
this contempt for women we shall probably find the cause of the moral
rottenness of the Celestial Empire.

[Illustration: PEKIN.]

The winter of 1860-61 Madame de Bourboulon spent quietly at Tien-tsin,
her health not permitting her, in such rigorous weather, to make the
journey to Pekin; but on the 22nd of March the whole legation set out
for the Chinese capital, Madame de Bourboulon travelling in a litter,
attended by her physician. Fortunately, the change of air and scene, and
the easy movement gradually restored her physical energies. From
Tien-tsin to Pekin the distance is about thirty leagues. On the road
lies Tchang-kia-wang, the scene of the treacherous outrage in 1858 on
the French and English bearers of truce; and almost at the gates of
Pekin, the great town of Tung-tcheou and the famous bridge of Palikao,
where, on the 21st of September, 1860, the Anglo-French army defeated
25,000 Tartar horsemen. This bridge, a curious work of art, measures one
hundred and fifty yards in length and thirty in breadth; the marble
balustrades are skilfully carved, and surmounted by marble lions in the
Chinese taste.

On arriving at Pekin the French embassy was installed in the Tartar
quarter. Five months later the revolution broke out which placed Prince
Kung in power. The prince was well-disposed towards Europeans, and under
his rule Madame de Bourboulon was able to traverse Pekin without fear.
We subjoin some extracts from her journals:--

"I set out on horseback this morning," she says, "accompanied by Sir
Frederick Bruce and my husband, to make a tour of the Chinese town; our
escort consisted only of four European horsemen and two Ting-tchaï. We
arrived at a populous carrefour, which derived a peculiar character from
the large numbers of country people who flock there to dispose of all
kinds of provisions, but particularly, game and vegetables; heaps of
cabbages and onions rise almost to the height of the doors of the
houses.

"The peasants, seated on the ground, smoke their pipes in peace, while
the aged mules and bare-skinned asses, which have conveyed their wares,
wander about the market-place, gleaning here and there some vegetable
refuse. At every step the townsfolk, with indifferent bearing, and armed
with a fan to protect their wan and powdered complexion, jostle against
the robust copper-coloured country people, whose feet are thrust into
sandals, and their heads covered with large straw hats. Not knowing how
to guide our horses through the midst of this confused mob, we gained
the precincts of the police pavilion in the hope of enjoying a little
more tranquillity.

"We had been there a few moments only, when my horse showed a determined
unwillingness to remain. Evidently something had frightened him. I
raised my head mechanically, and thought I should have fainted before
the horrible spectacle which struck my eyes. Behind us, close at hand,
was a row of posts to which were fixed cross-beams of wood, and in each
cage were death's heads, which stared at me with fixed, wide-open eyes,
their jaws dislocated with frightful grimaces, their teeth set
convulsively by the agony of the last moment, and the blood rolling drop
by drop from their freshly severed necks!

"In a second we had spurred our horses to the gallop to get out of sight
of this hideous charnel-house, of which I long continued to think in my
sleepless nights.

"Turning to the left, we entered a street which I will call, in allusion
to the trade of its inhabitants, the Toymen's.... But what means this
noisy music, this charivari of flutes and trumpets, drums, and stringed
instruments? It is a funeral ceremony, and yonder is the door of the
defunct, and in front of it the Society of Funerals (there is such an
one at Pekin) has raised a triumphal arch, consisting of a wooden
framework, covered with old mats and pieces of stuffs. The family has
stationed a band at the door to proclaim its grief by rending the ears
of the passers-by.

"We quicken our steps in order to avoid being delayed in the middle of
the interminable procession. The gala-day in a Chinaman's life is the
day of his death. He economizes, he deprives himself of all the comforts
of life, he labours without rest or intermission, that he may have a
fine funeral!

"We do not get out of this accursed street! Here another large crowd
bars our passage; some proclamations and notices have just been
placarded on the door of the chief of the district police; people are
reading them aloud; some declaim them in a tone of bombast; while a
thousand commentaries, more satirical than the text, are uttered amidst
loud bursts of laughter.

"This liberty of mockery, pasquinade, and caricature at the expense of
the mandarins is one of the most original sides of Chinese manners.

"A band of blind beggars, in a costume more than light, pass along, hand
in hand; then an itinerant smith, a barber _al fresco_, and a cheap
restaurateur, simultaneously ply their different trades surrounded by
their customers.

"We dismounted from our horses, and by a covered passage or arcade
proceeded on foot to the legation. This passage, much favoured by
vendors of _bric-à-brac_, is simply a dark lane, 550 to 600 feet long,
where two people can hardly walk abreast. There are no proper shops
here, but collections of old planks, united anyhow, and supported by
piles of merchandise of all kinds, vases, porcelain, bronzes, arms, old
clothes, pipes; from the whole proceeds a foetid and insupportable
odour, tempered by the thick pungent smoke of lamps fed with rice-oil.

"The reader may judge with what pleasure we regained the pure air, the
blue sky, and all the comfortable appliances of our quarters at
Tsing-kong-fou."

       *       *       *       *       *

Having made the journey from China to Europe five times by sea, Madame
de Bourboulon and her husband resolved that their sixth should be by
land, being desirous of rendering some direct service to science by
penetrating into regions of which little was known. This overland route,
as they foresaw, would involve them in many difficulties, fatigues, and
hardships. It would impose on them a journey of six thousand miles, in
the midst of half-savage populations, and over steppes and deserts
virtually pathless; they would have to climb steep mountain-sides, to
ford broad rivers; and, finally, to sleep under no better roof than that
of a tent, and to live on milk, butter, and sea-biscuit for several
months. Madame de Baluseck, wife of the Russian minister at Pekin, had
already accomplished this journey. Madame de Bourboulon felt capable of
an equal amount of courage, and though accustomed to live amid all the
luxuries and comforts of European civilization, desired to encounter
these privations, and to brave these perils.

Prince Kung, regent of the Chinese Empire, promised the travellers full
security as far as the borders. He did more; for he attached to their
train some mandarins of high rank to ensure the execution of his orders.
A fortnight before the day fixed for departure, a caravan of camels was
despatched to Kiakhta, on the Russian frontier, with wine, rice, and all
kinds of provisions, intended to replace the supplies which would
necessarily be exhausted during the transit of Mongolia.

A captain of engineers, M. Bouvier, superintended the construction of
some vehicles of transport, light enough to be drawn by the nomad
horsemen, and yet solid enough to bear the accidents of travel in the
desert. Bread, rice, biscuit, coffee, tea, wine, liqueurs, all kinds of
clothing, preserved meats and vegetables, were carefully packed up and
stowed away in these carts, which were sent forward, three days in
advance, to Kalgan, a frontier town of Mongolia. And all these
preparations being completed, and every precaution taken, the 17th of
May was appointed as the day of departure.

Thenceforth, and throughout the journey, Madame de Bourboulon adopted a
masculine costume--that is, a vest of grey cloth, with velvet trimmings,
loose pantaloons of blue stuff, spurred boots, and at need a Mongolian
cloak with a double hood of furs. She mounted her favourite horse, which
she had taken with her to Pekin, and it had been her companion in all
her excursions in the city and the surrounding country.

At six o'clock in the morning everybody was assembled in the court of
the yamoun of the French legation. Sir Frederick Bruce, the English
minister; Mr. Wade, the secretary to the English legation; M. Trèves, a
French naval lieutenant, and some young French interpreters were
present.

Two Chinese mandarins--one with the red button; the other, his inferior
in rank, with the white--gravely awaited the moment of departure to
escort the travellers as far as Kalgan, and to take care that, upon
requisition being made, they were provided with everything necessary to
their comfort. Numerous Tching-taï, the official messengers of the
legations, and other indigenous domestics, crowded the court, gravely
mounted upon foundered broken-down hacks, their knees raised up to their
elbows, and their hands clutching at the mane of their Rosinante, like
apes astride of dogs in the arena of the circus. A couple of litters,
carried by mules, were also prepared; one was intended for Madame de
Bourboulon, in case of need, the other for the conveyance of five
charming little Chinese dogs which she hoped to transport to Europe. At
length the mandarin of the red button came to take the ambassador's
orders, and gave the signal of departure.

At this moment the air resounded with noisy detonations: fusees,
serpents, and petards exploded in all directions--at the gate, in the
gardens, even upon the walls of the legation. Great confusion followed,
as no one was prepared for this point-blank politeness, so mysteriously
organized by the Chinese servants. In China nothing takes place without
a display of fireworks. About an hour was spent in reorganizing the
caravan. Meanwhile, Madame de Bourboulon, whose frightened horse had
carried her through the town, waited in a great open space some distance
off. It was the first time, she says, that she had been alone in the
midst of that great town. She had succeeded in pulling up her horse near
a pagoda, which she did not know, because she had never visited that
quarter of Pekin; her masculine garb attracted curiosity, and she was
speedily surrounded by an immense crowd. Though its demeanour towards
her was peaceable and respectful, she found the time very long, and it
was with intense satisfaction she rejoined the cavalcade, the members of
which had begun to feel alarmed at her absence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The whole company being once more reunited, they passed the walled
enclosure of the great city, garrisoned by a body of the so-called
"Imperial Tigers," and entered the northern suburb.

The great road of Mongolia is lined on both sides with pagodas, houses,
and a host of small wayside public inns, painted with stripes of red,
green, and blue, and surmounted by the most attractive signs. There is a
constant succession of caravans of camels, directed by Mongols,
Turcomans, Tibetans; of troops of mules, with clinking bells, bringing
salt from Setchouan or tea from Hou-pai; and of immense herds of horned
cattle, horses, and sheep, in charge of the dexterous horsemen of the
Tchakar, who keep them together by the utterance of loud guttural cries,
and by dealing them smart cuts with their long whips.

About one hour after noon, the caravan arrived at Sha-ho, a village
situated between the two arms of a river of the same name (which means
"the river of sand"). Madame de Bourboulon thus describes the hospitable
reception given to the travellers:--

"We knocked at the door of a tolerably spacious house, situated near the
entrance to the village: it was an elementary school; we could hear the
nasal drone of the children repeating their lessons. The schoolmaster,
a crabbed Chinaman, scared by my presence, placed himself on the
threshold, and looked as if he would not allow me to enter. But at the
explanations made in good Chinese by Mr. Wade, the surly old fellow,
undergoing a sudden metamorphosis, bent his lean spine in two, and
ushered me, with many forced obeisances, into his wives' room. There,
before I had time to recollect myself, these ladies carried me off by
force of arms, and installed me upon a kang or couch, where I had
scarcely stretched my limbs before I was offered the inevitable tea. I
was gradually passing into a delightful dizziness, when a disquieting
thought suddenly restored all my energy: I was lying on a heap of rags
and tatters of all colours, and certainly the kang possessed other
inhabitants than myself. I immediately arose, in spite of the
protestations of my Chinese hostesses, and took a seat in the courtyard
under the galleries. When I was a little rested, I seated myself in my
litter, and about half-past six in the evening we arrived at the town of
Tchaing-ping-tchan."

On the following day our travellers turned aside to visit the famous
sepulchre of the Mings--a vast collection of monuments, which the
Chinese regard as one of the finest specimens of the art of the
seventeenth century--that is, the seventeenth century of _their_
chronology. And, first, there are gigantic monoliths crowned with twelve
stones placed perpendicularly, and surmounted by five roofs in varnished
and gilded tiles; next, a monumental triumphal arch in white marble,
with three immense gateways; through the central one may be seen a
double row of gigantic monsters in enamelled stone, painted in dazzling
colours; finally, you pass into an enclosure with a gigantic tortoise in
front of it, bearing on its back a marble obelisk covered with
inscriptions. At the time of Madame de Bourboulon's visit the entrance
was closed, and while the Ting-tchaï went in search of the guardians,
she and her companions dismounted, seated themselves on the greensward,
in the shadow of some colossal larches, and enjoyed a pleasant repast,
the sepulchral stones serving as tables.

"'Oh,' she exclaims, 'ye old emperors of the ancient dynasties, if any
of your seers could but have told you that one day the barbarians of the
remote West, whose despised name had scarcely reached your ears, would
come to disturb the peace of your manes with the clinking of their
glasses and the report of their champagne corks!'... But at length the
keys are turned in the rusty locks, the guardian of the first enclosure
offers us tea, and we distribute some money among the attendants.... In
China, perhaps more even than in Europe, this is an inevitable formula:
the famous principle of _nothing for nothing_ must have been invented in
the Celestial Empire. Out of respect, or for some other reason, the
guardians left us free to go and come at will, dispensing with the
labour of following us. At first we traversed a spacious square court,
paved with white marble, planted with yews and cypresses, cut into
shapes as at Versailles, and peopled with an infinite number of
statues; then we climbed a superb marble staircase of thirty steps,
which led to another square court, planted in the same style, and shut
in on the right and left by a thick forest of huge cedars, which
conceals eight temples with circular cupolas, crowned and ornamented by
the grimacing gods of the Chinese Trinity, with their six arms and six
heads. Now another staircase, leading to a circular platform in white
marble, in the middle of which rises the grand mausoleum. It is of
marble; a great bronze door admits to the interior. We pass under a
vault, the niches of which enclose the bones of the Ming emperors; a
spiral staircase, with sculptured balustrades, very handsome in style,
conducts to a second platform, elevated some seventy feet above the
ground. The view from it is magnificent, overlooking a world of
mausoleums, pagodas, temples, and kiosks, which the great trees had
concealed from us.

"The mausoleum is continued into an immense cupola, and terminates in a
pointed pyramid, covered with plates and mythological bas-reliefs.
Finally, the pyramid is crowned by a great gilded ball."

The travellers here quitted their English horses, and mounted the
frightful Chinese steeds which carry on the postal service. After a
couple of wearisome days, occupied in clearing narrow defiles, torrents,
and plains of blinding dust, they reached the Lazarist Mission.

On entering the town, they were surrounded by an immense multitude, all
silent and polite, but not the less fatiguing--_gênant_, as Madame de
Bourboulon puts it. "Their eager curiosity did not fail to become very
inconvenient, and we could well have dispensed with the 20,000 quidnuncs
who accompanied us everywhere. We halted at last before the great
gateway above which figures, though only for a few days, the cross, that
noble symbol of the Latin civilization. It is the standard of humanity,
of generous ideas and universal emancipation, placed throughout the
extreme East under the protection of France. The English occupy
themselves wholly with commerce: for them, faith and the sublime
teachings of religion take but the second place."

Very few French travellers seem able to avoid an occasional outbreak of
splenetic patriotism. The greatness and the generosity of France are the
hobby-horse on which they ride with such a fanfare of trumpets as to
provoke the ridicule of the passer-by. Madame de Bourboulon, as a woman,
may be excused her little bit of sarcasm, though she must have known and
ought to have remembered what has been done and endured by English
missionaries in the name and for the sake of the cross of Christ.

The Lazarist priests gave our travellers a hearty welcome; and after a
good night's rest, the caravan quitted Suan-hou-pu, a large town,
remarkable for the number of Chinese Mussulmans who inhabit it. They
reached Kalgan on the 23rd of May, and were greeted by Madame de
Baluseck, who was to return to Europe in company with Madame de
Bourboulon. Thus, as Sir Frederick Bruce was still with them, the
representatives of the three greatest Powers in the world met together
in this remote town, which, previously, was almost unknown to Europeans.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kalgan, the frontier town of Mongolia, is not so well built as the
imperial cities; it is a commercial centre, where bazaars abound, and
open stalls; the foot passengers touch the walls of the houses as they
file by, one after the other, and the roadway, narrow, squalid, and
muddy, is thronged with chariots, camels, mules, and horses. "I have
been much struck," writes Madame de Bourboulon, "with the extreme
variety of costumes and types resulting from the presence of numerous
foreign merchants. Here, as in all Chinese towns, the traders at every
door tout for custom. Here, porters trudge by loaded with bales of tea;
there, under an awning of felt, are encamped itinerant restaurateurs
with their cooking-stoves; yonder, the mendicant bonzes beat the
tam-tam, and second-hand dealers display their wares.

"Ragged Tartars, with their legs bare, drive onward herds of cattle,
without thought of passers-by; while Tibetans display their sumptuous
garb, their blue caps with red top-knots, and their loose-lowing hair.
Farther off, the camel-drivers of Turkistan, turbaned, with aquiline
nose and long black beard, lead along, with strange airs, their camels
loaded with salt; finally, the Mongolian Lamas, in red and yellow
garments, and shaven crowns, gallop past on their untrained steeds, in
striking contrast to the calm bearing of a Siberian merchant, who
stalks along in his thick fur-lined pelisse, great boots, and large felt
hat.

"Behold me now in the street of the clothes-merchants; there are more
second-hand dealers than tailors in China; one has no repugnance for
another's cast-off raiment, and frequently one does not deign even to
clean it. I enter a fashionable shop: the master is a natty little old
man, his nose armed with formidable spectacles which do but partly
conceal his dull, malignant eyes. Three young people in turn exhibit to
the passer-by his different wares, extolling their quality, and making
known their prices. This is the custom; and to me it seems more
ingenious and better adapted to attract purchasers, than the
artistically arranged shop-windows which one sees in Europe. I allowed
myself to be tempted, and purchased a blue silk pelisse, lined with
white wool; this wool, as soft and fine as silk, comes from the
celebrated race of the Ong-ti sheep. I paid for it double its value, but
the master of the establishment was so persuasive, so irresistible, that
I could not refuse, and I then left immediately, for he was quite
capable of making me buy up the whole of his shop. The Chinese are
certainly the cleverest traders in the world, and I predict that they
will prove formidable competitors to the dealers of London and Paris, if
it should ever occur to them to set up their establishments in Europe.

"After dinner, M. de Baluseck took leave of his wife, and set out on his
return to Pekin; Sir F. Bruce goes with us as far as Bourgaltaï, the
first station in Mongolia. From our halting-place I can perceive the
ramifications of the Great Wall, stretching northward of the town
towards the crest of the mountains. Kaigan, which has a population of
200,000 souls, is the northernmost town of China proper."

On the 24th of May, the travellers, accompanied by Madame de Baluseck,
departed from Kaigan and crossed the Great Wall. This colossal defensive
work consists of double crenelated ramparts, locked together, at
intervals of about 100 yards, by towers and other fortifications. The
ramparts are built of brickwork and ash-tar cemented with lime; measure
twenty feet in height, and twenty-five to thirty feet in thickness; but
do not at all points preserve this solidity. In the province of Kansou,
there is but one line of rampart. The total length of this great
barrier, called Wan-ti-chang (or "myriad-mile wall") by the Chinese, is
1,250 miles. It was built about 220 B.C., as a protection against the
Tartar marauders, and extends from 3° 30' E. to 15° W. of Pekin,
surmounting the highest hills, descending into the deepest valleys, and
bridging the most formidable rivers.

Our travelers entered Bourgaltaï in the evening, simultaneously with the
caravan of camels, which had started a fortnight before, and were lodged
in a squalid and filthy inn. Nothing, however, could disturb the
cheerful temperament of Madame de Bourboulon, who rose superior to every
inconvenience or vexation, and this _bonhommie_ is the chief charm of
her book. Thus, speaking of the first evening in this dirty Mongolian
inn, she says:--"There was nothing to be done but to be content with
some cold provisions, and our camping-out beds. It was the birthday of
Queen Victoria, and as our landlord was able to put his hand upon two
bottles of champagne, we drank, along with Sir Frederick Bruce and Mr.
Wade, her Majesty's health. Afterwards we played a rubber at whist (for
we had found some cards). Surely, never before was whist played in the
Mongolian deserts!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Before accompanying our travellers into these deserts, it may be
convenient that we should note the _personnel_ of their following, and
the organization of their expedition. In addition to Monsieur and Madame
de Bourboulon, the French caravan consisted of six persons:--Captain
Bouvier, of the Engineers; a sergeant and a private of the same branch
of the service; an artillerist; a steward (_intendant_); and a young
Christian, a native of Pekin, whom M. de Bourboulon was taking with him
to France. Madame de Baluseck's suite consisted of a Russian physician;
a French waiting maid; a Lama interpreter, named Gomboï; and a Cossack
(as escort). A small carriage, well hung on two wheels, was provided for
the two ladies. The other travellers journeyed on horseback or in
Chinese carts. These small carts, with hoods of blue cloth, carry only
one passenger; they are not hung upon springs, but are solidly
constructed.

[Illustration: HONG KONG.]

At Zayau-Tologoï, the Chinese drivers were replaced by Mongolian
postillions, and the Chinese mandarins gave up the responsibility of
escort to Mongolian officials.

The Mongolian mode of harnessing is very strange: a long wooden
transversal bar is fastened to the end of the shafts, and on each side a
horseman glides under his saddle; then they set off at full gallop. When
they halt the horsemen disappear, the shafts fall abruptly to the
ground; and the travellers, if they have not a good strong hold, are
projected from the vehicle.

The officers of the escort go in advance to prepare tents or wigwams
formed of hurdles, upon which is stretched a great awning of felt; the
whole has very much the appearance of an enormous umbrella, with a hole
at the top, to let out the heated air, and at need the smoke.

As the travellers carried with them a large stock of provisions, and
fresh meat could generally be obtained from the nomad shepherds, their
table was well served; but owing to the absolute dearth of any other
kind of fuel, they were compelled to kindle their fires with _argols_,
or dried cow-dung.

In due time they entered upon the great desert of Gobi, where the grassy
plain is covered by a countless multitude of mole-hills, which render
locomotion very difficult. This apparently boundless desert,
notwithstanding its lack of trees and shrubs and flowers, and its
monotonous uniformity, is not without a certain charm, as many
travellers have acknowledged. Madame de Bourboulon, writing of it,
says:--

"I grew accustomed to the desert; it is only for a few days that I have
had experience of tent-life, and yet it seems to me as if I had always
lived so. The desert is like the ocean: the human eye plunges into the
infinite, and everything speaks of God. The Mongolian nomad loves his
horse as the sailor loves his ship. It is useless to ask him to be bound
by the sedentary habits of the Chinese, to build fixed habitations, and
cultivate the soil. This free child of Nature will let you treat him as
a rude barbarian, but in himself he despises civilized man, who creeps
and crawls like a worm about the small corner of land which he calls his
property. The immense plain belongs to him, and his herds, which follow
his erratic courses, supply him with food and clothing. What wants he
more, so long as the earth does not fail him?"

There is another light in which this vast desert may be looked at.
Unquestionably, its influence on the destinies of the human race has
been injurious; it has checked the progress of the Semitic civilization.
The primitive peoples of India and Tibet were civilized at an early
period of the world's history; but the immense wilderness put an
impassable barrier between them and the barbarous tribes of Northern
Asia. More than the Himalaya, more than the snow-capped peaks of
Sirinagur and Gorkha, these boundless wastes, alternately withered by a
tropical summer, and blighted by a rigorous winter, have prevented for
ages all intercommunication, all fusion between the inhabitants of
Northern and those of Southern Asia; and it is thus that India and
Tibet have remained the only regions of this part of the world which
have enjoyed the benefits of civilization, of the refinement of manners,
and of the genius of the arts.

The barbarians who, in the last agonies of the Roman Empire, invaded and
devastated Europe, issued from the steppes and table-lands of Mongolia.
As Humboldt says--"If intellectual culture has directed its course from
the East to the West, like the vivifying light of the sun, barbarism at
a later period followed the same route, when it threatened to plunge
Europe again into darkness. A tawny race of shepherds of Thon-Klüu--that
is to say, of Turkish origin, the Hioungum--inhabited, living under
sheepskin tents, the elevated table-land of Gobi. Long formidable to the
Chinese power, a portion of the Hioungum were driven south into Central
Asia. The impulse thus given, uninterruptedly propagated itself to the
primitive country of the Fins, on the banks of the Ural, whence irrupted
a torrent of Huns, Avars, Chasars, and divers mixtures of Asiatic races.
The armies of the Huns first appeared on the banks of the Volga, then in
Pannonia, finally on the borders of the Marne and the Po, ravaging the
beautiful plains where, from the time of Antwor, the genius of man had
accumulated monuments upon monuments. Thus blew from the Mongolian
desert a pestilential wind which, even as far as the Cisalpine plains,
blighted the delicate flower of art, the object of cares so constant and
so tender."[18]

The temperature is extremely variable in these steppes, so that Madame
de Bourboulon records having experienced in the morning a frost of one
degree below zero, and some hours afterwards a heat of thirty degrees
above zero (Centigrade). These changes are most numerous and most
violent in the spring.

The difficulty of travel is increased by the peculiar rapid trot of the
Mongol horses and the formidable unevenness of the ground. The jolting
is almost intolerable. However carefully the traveller's wares may have
been packed, they are infallibly damaged; and Madame de Bourboulon says
that they strewed the desert with the wreck of their wardrobe and their
linen. Her husband laughingly averred that the very money in the
iron-bound chests was broken by the violent friction, and his veracity,
at first impugned, was confirmed by the exhibition of a handful of
silver filings; a pile of piastres was found pared and ground down as if
by a file, and had the journey been much prolonged, "all would have been
reduced to dust."

       *       *       *       *       *

As the travellers advanced, they observed the increasing scarcity of
vegetation; here and there might be seen a few tufts of saxifrage
lifting up amidst the stones their rose-tinted posies--a rank, thorny,
and creeping herbage--some attenuated heaths, and in the crevices and
hollows of the rocks, a little couch grass. They had taken leave of the
irises, white, purple, and yellow, and the scarlet anemones, which at
first had brightened the way, and filled the plains with their
delicious balmy odour.

Madame de Bourboulon affords us a glimpse, and an interesting one, of
the manners of the nomad tribes:--"Throughout the day a tropical heat
had prevailed, and in the evening, on arriving at Haliptchi, where they
were to pass the night, the postillions eagerly moved down upon the
vessels of water and camel's milk which the women and children had made
ready for them. A violent altercation ensued, because one of the Hagars
of the desert had allowed a stranger to drink before her husband had
been supplied. The latter emptied out the contents of the vessel and
threw some at the head of his immodest wife, amidst the shouts and
laughter of the shepherds." This scene reminded Madame de Bourboulon of
the Bible and the age of the patriarchs.

Quitting the desert of the Gobi, our travellers entered the country of
the Khalkhas, a region of great forests, pasturages, and crystal rivers;
but even this earthly paradise of bloom, verdure, and freshness was not
without its dangers. We take an extract, in illustration of them, from
Madame de Bourboulon's journal:--

"I rode on horseback this morning," she says, "enticed by the aspect of
the beautiful green prairies of Taïrene. My horse bounded over their
surface, and giving him the reins I allowed myself to traverse the plain
in a furious gallop, lulled by the dull sound of his hoofs, which a
thick carpet of grasses deadened, paying no heed to anything around me,
and lost in a profound reverie. Suddenly I heard inarticulate cries
behind me, and as I turned to ascertain their cause, I felt myself
pulled by the sleeve of my vest; it was a Mongolian of the escort, who
had been sent in pursuit of me. He lowered first one hand and then
another, imitating with his fingers the gallop of a runaway horse; at
length, perceiving that I did not understand, he pointed fixedly to the
soil. My presence of mind returned; I had an intuition of the danger
which I had escaped, and I discovered that the animation of our horses
was not due to the charm of green pasture, but to fear, the fear of
being swallowed up alive. The ground disappeared under their feet, and
if they remained still they would sink into the treacherous bogs which
do not restore their victims. I tremble still when I think of the peril
I have escaped; my horse, better served by its instinct than I by my
intelligence, had dashed onwards, while I perceived nothing: a few paces
more and I was lost!

"White vapours, rising from the earth, gave our postillions a fantastic
appearance; one might have mistaken them for black shadows of gigantic
proportions, mounted upon transparent and microscopic horses. Madame de
Baluseck and I were amusing ourselves with this grotesque mirage, when
our attention was attracted by a still more curious phenomenon: the sun,
as it rose, dissipating the morning mists, revealed to us Captain
Bouvier, who, hitherto hidden in the obscurity, was galloping about a
hundred yards in advance of us; he had become trebled--that is, on each
side of him a double had taken its place, imitating faithfully his
movements and gestures. I do not remember ever before to have seen such
a phenomenon, and I leave it to those who are more learned than I am to
decide what law of optics disclosed it to our astonished gaze."

       *       *       *       *       *

We must pass more rapidly than did our travellers through the land of
the Khalkhas, a race who nominally acknowledge the authority of the son
of Herica, the great Mandchoo, the descendant of Genghiz-khan, who
governs the empire of the Centre, but pay him neither tax nor tribute,
and are, in reality, governed and administered by the Guison-Tamba, one
of the divine incarnations of Buddha in the body of an eternal child who
comes from the holy court of Tibet.

At Guibanoff, on the frontiers of the two empires, Russia and China, our
travellers found provided for them, by the Governor-General of Eastern
Siberia, new means of transport. He had sent them also an escort, and
his own aide-de-camp, M. d'Ozeroff, who was to conduct them to Irkutsk.
The carriages supplied were tarantas, or large post-chaises, drawn by
six horses, and telagas, or four-wheeled waggons. They speedily made
their way to Kiakhta, where they met with a most hospitable reception,
and were splendidly fêted. Dinner, concert, ball were given in their
honour; "nothing was wanting, not even the polka." The large number of
political exiles always residing here has introduced into the midst of
the Siberian deserts the urbanity of the best society; nearly all the
ladies speak French.

According to Madame de Bourboulon, Siberia is more civilized than old
Russia; so true is it that it is easier to overlay a new country with
civilization than to rejuvenate an old one.

       *       *       *       *       *

On reaching the bank of Lake Baikal, our travellers were greatly
disappointed to find that the steamers which navigate the lake had
sustained severe injuries, and were undergoing repair. After some
hesitation, they decided upon embarking in the sailing-vessels, heavy,
lumbering, and broad-beamed boats, intended only for the conveyance of
merchandise, and terribly unclean. The tarantas were hauled up on their
decks, and after a night of peril, when a sudden hurricane put to the
test their solidity and staying qualities, they effected the transit of
the lake in safety. The "Holy Sea," as the natives call it, is the third
largest lake in Asia--about 400 miles in length, and varying in breadth
from nineteen miles to seventy. Though fed by numerous streams it has
only one outlet, the Angara, a tributary of the Yenisei. Lying deep
among the Baikal mountains, an offshoot of the Altai, it presents some
vividly coloured and very striking scenery. Its fisheries are valuable.
In the great chain of communication between Russia and China it holds an
important place, and of late years its navigation has been conducted by
steamboats. An interesting account of it will be found in Mr. T. W.
Atkinson's "Oriental and Western Siberia."

       *       *       *       *       *

Irkutsk was very pleasant to our travellers after their long experience
of the desert. Once more they found themselves within the generous
influences of civilization. Though possessing not more than 23,000
inhabitants, it is a busy and a lively town; and here, as at Kiakhta,
the number of exiles gives a certain tone and elevation to the social
circle. Here Madame de Baluseck parted company. M. and Madame de
Bourboulon, resuming their journey, pressed forward with such alacrity
that, in the space of ten hours, they sometimes accomplished 127 versts,
though this rate of speed must necessarily have told heavily on the
strength of Madame de Bourboulon. The fatigue she endured brought on the
sleep of exhaustion, which almost resembles catalepsy. "We arrived," she
writes, "at eight in the morning on the banks of the Tenisci;
immediately the horses were taken out and forced into the ferry-boat, in
spite of their desperate resistance--I did not stir. My carriage was
lifted up and hauled on board by dint of sheer physical strength, fifty
men being required for the work, and singing their loudest to inspirit
their efforts--I heard nothing. On the boat the ropes rattled through
the pulleys and the iron chains of the capstans, while the master
directed the movements of his crew by sharp blasts on his whistle--I
continued to sleep; in fine, by an ordinary effect of the profoundest
sleep, I awakened only when silence succeeded to this uproar."

Carlyle has a remark to the effect that from the way in which a man, of
some wide thing that he has witnessed, will construct a narrative, what
kind of picture and delineation he will give of it, is the best measure
we can get of the man's intellect.[19] Certainly from a record of travel
one can form a tolerably correct estimate of the character, disposition,
and faculties of the traveller. On every page of her book, for example,
Madame de Bourboulon reveals herself as a woman of some culture, of a
cheerful temper, a lively apprehension, and refined mind. Her keen
remarks indicate that she has been accustomed to good society. Speaking
of the daughter of the Governor of Krasuvïarsk, she observes:--"She
would be charming, if she did not wear a hat with feathers and white
aigrettes, so _empanaché_ as to have a very curious effect on her blonde
and roguish (_espiègle_) head." She adds, "Wherever I have travelled I
have observed that the so-called Parisian modes, the most eccentric
things and in the worst possible taste, were assumed by ladies of the
most remote countries, where they arrive completely made up, though it
is not possible for their makers to ascertain if they will be acceptable
to the public. Hence the heterogeneous toilets of strangers who land in
Paris, persuaded that they are dressed in the latest fashion."

At Atchinsk, which separates East from West Siberia, the travellers were
received with graceful hospitality, but made no lengthened stay. Onward
they sped, over the perpetual plains, intersected by forests of firs and
countless water-courses. At Tomsk their reception was not less cordial
than it had been at Irkutsk. Next they plunged into the immense marshes
of Baraba; into a dreary succession of lakes, and pools, and swamps,
blooming with a luxurious vegetation and a marvellous profusion of wild
flowers, each more beautiful than the other, but swarming, unhappily,
with a plague of insects eager to drink the blood of man or beast.
Madame de Bourboulon had a cruel proof of their activity, though she had
fortified her face with a mask of horsehair, and thrust her hands into
the thickest gloves. "I was seated in a corner," she says, "wrapped up
in my coverings; I lift the window-sash of one of the doors; the air is
close and warm, the night dark; black clouds, charged with electricity,
roll above me, and the wind brings to me the marsh-odours acrid and yet
flat.... Gradually I fall asleep; I have kept on my mask, but the
window-pane remains open.... A keen sensation of cold and of intolerable
itchings in the hands and face awakens me; day has dawned, and the
marshes lie before me in all their splendid colouring, but I have paid
dearly for my imprudence; every part of my face which my mask touched in
the position in which I fell asleep has been stung a thousand times
through the meshes of hair by thousands of probosces and suckers athirst
for my blood--forehead and chest and chin are grotesquely swollen. I do
not know myself. My wrist, exposed between the glove and the edge of the
sleeve, is ornamented with a regular swelling like a bracelet all round
the arm; in a word, wherever the enemy has been able to penetrate, he
has wrought indescribable ravage....

"At the next posting-house, I have the satisfaction of seeing that my
travelling-companions have not escaped better than myself, and, thanks
to the vinegar and water bandages we are forced to apply, we resemble,
as we sit at the breakfast table, an ambulatory hospital!"

The Baraba marshes measure 250 miles in breadth, and in length extend
over eight degrees of latitude (from the 52nd to the 60th); a road has
been carried across them, consisting of trunks of fir trees fastened
together and covered with clay, but it is not very substantial.

Abandoning the steppes and forests of Western Siberia, our travellers
crossed the great Ural range of mountains, made their way to Perm, and
thence to the Volga. Having disposed of all their vehicles, they
transformed themselves into European tourists, with no other
incumbrances than boxes and portmanteaus. They traversed Rayan, and in
due time arrived at Nijni-Novgorod, just at the season of its famous
fair, which in importance equals that of Leipzig, and in variety of
interest surpasses it. To the observer it offers a wonderful collection
of different types of humanity. There you may see assembled all the
strange races of the East, elbowing Russians, and Jews, and Cossacks,
and the traders of almost every European nation. Among the shows and
spectacles, Madame de Bourboulon was most struck by a performance of
Shakespeare's "Othello," in which the hero was played by a black actor
from the West Indies (Ira Aldridge?), who spoke in English, while all
the other characters delivered their speeches in Russian. The result was
a curious cacophony. She thought the Othello good, nay, very good, for,
she observes, "On returning from China one is not very hard to please."

From Nijni-Novgorod our travellers proceeded to Moscow by rail, and
thence to St. Petersburg, returning to Paris through Prussia and
Belgium.

In four months they had accomplished a journey of very great length,
having traversed from Shanghai to Paris, some 8,000 miles, without
accident. We regret to add that Madame de Bourboulon did not long
survive her return home; she died at the château of Claireau, in Loiret,
on the 11th of November, 1865, at the early age of 37.

FOOTNOTES:

[18] Humboldt: "Ansichten der Natur," i. 8.

[19] Thomas Carlyle: "Lectures on Heroes," Lect. iii.



LADY HESTER STANHOPE.


Lady Hester Stanhope was born in 1776. She came of a good stock: her
father was that democratic and practical nobleman who invented an
ingenious printing-press, and erased his armorial bearings from his
plate and furniture; her mother was the eldest daughter of William Pitt,
the "great Earl of Chatham." It was at Burton-Pynsent, her illustrious
grandfather's country seat, she spent her early years, displaying that
boldness of spirit and love of independence which marked her later
career, training and riding the most unmanageable horses, and shocking
society not a little by her disregard of its conventionalities. She
inherited from her parents great force of character, intellectual
faculties of no common order, and something, probably, of her
eccentricity of disposition. A large and liberal education developed
these natural powers, which were in themselves remarkable, and as she
grew up to womanhood her sagacious estimates of policy and her sound
judgment of men and things secured her respect in the highest political
circles. To her cousin, the younger Pitt--"the pilot who weathered the
storm," in the language of poetry; who died when it was at its height,
in the language of fact--her advice was always acceptable. It was always
freely given, for her admiration of her distinguished kinsman was
unbounded. In the last months of his life, when he was stricken by a
mortal disease, and sinking under the burden of political disaster, she
was assiduous in her attendance upon him; and it was to her, after the
memorable battle of Austerlitz, he addressed those historic words, so
pathetic in their expression of failure, "Roll up that map (the map of
Europe), it will not be wanted these two years."

After the death of Mr. Pitt, Lady Hester abandoned the gay and polished
society of which she had been an acknowledged ornament, and quitted
England. This defection society was by no means able to understand. That
a woman of high birth, and rank, and wealth, the niece of one great
minister and the kinswoman of another, should deliberately renounce the
advantages of her position, was a circumstance unintelligible to
ordinary minds, and thenceforth she shared with Lord Byron the curiosity
and speculation of the public. Her singular independence of thought and
character had already invested her with a fatal reputation for
"eccentricity," and to "eccentricity" her action was very generally
attributed. Some, indeed, were pleased to cast upon it a gleam of
romance, and protested that it was brought about by her sweet sorrow for
a young English officer of high rank who had perished on one of the
battle-fields of the Peninsula. Others, who were nearer the truth,
ascribed it to a love of adventure. But, in plain truth, the ruling
motive was pride, a colossal, an all-absorbing pride, which could be
satisfied only by power and influence, and a foremost place. Her great
kinsman's death had necessarily excluded her from the councils of
ministers, and closed upon her the doors of cabinets. The ordinary
pursuits of society afforded her no gratification, opened up no channel
in which her restless energies could expend themselves. She was of too
strong a mind, of too clear an intellect, to value the ephemeral
influence enjoyed by wealth or beauty; she wanted to reign, to rule, to
govern, and as that was no longer a possibility in the political world,
she resolved upon seeking some new sphere where she would always be
first. It was this illimitable pride, this uncontrolled ambition, which
weakened and obscured the elements of true greatness in her character, a
character which cannot fail to possess an extraordinary interest for the
psychological public.

       *       *       *       *       *

After traversing Europe with impetuous feet she visited Athens in
company with Mr. Bruce. Here she made the acquaintance of Lord Byron. In
the language of Mr. Moore, one of the first objects that met the eyes of
the distinguished travellers, on their approaching the coast of Attica,
was the noble poet, "disporting in his favourite element under the rocks
of Colonna." They were afterwards introduced to each other by Lord
Sligo, and it was in the course of their first interview at Lord Sligo's
table that Lady Hester, with that "lively eloquence" for which she was
remarkable, briskly assailed the author of "Childe Harold" for the
depreciating opinion he was supposed to entertain of all female
intellect. Being but little inclined, were he even able, to sustain such
a heresy against one who was in her own person such an irresistible
refutation of it, Lord Byron had no other refuge from the fair orator's
arguments than in assent and silence; and this well-bred deference
being, in a sensible woman's eyes, equivalent to concession, they
became, thenceforward, most cordial friends.

At Constantinople, which she next visited, Lady Hester remained for
several years. There was much in the gorgeous life of the East to charm
her fancy and gratify her besetting weakness. She delighted in the
implicit submission to her orders, in the almost servile obedience which
Orientals pay to their superiors, in the sharp contrast between the old
and the new civilization. After awhile, however, she wearied even of the
Golden City--it was not remote enough from Western ideas, nor did it
offer that solitary and independent throne which her ambitious and
restless spirit coveted. She resolved on seeking it amid the glowing
plains of Syria; and with this view embarked on board an English
merchant-vessel, which she had loaded with her property, with pearls of
considerable value, and with a large amount of costly presents designed
to purchase the homage or allegiance of the Syrian tribes.

Caught in a violent storm, the ship was wrecked on a reef near the
island of Rhodes. The waves swallowed up Lady Hester's treasures, and
she herself barely escaped with life. On a small desert island she
remained for four-and-twenty hours without food or shelter, until
happily discovered by some Levantine fishermen, who conveyed her to
Rhodes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to England, she hastened to collect the remains of her
scattered fortune, sold a portion of her estates, chartered another
vessel, and a second time sailed for the East. The voyage was not marked
by any contrary incident, and Lady Hester safely disembarked at Latakia,
a small port of Syria, between Tripoli and Alexandretta. In the
neighbourhood she hired a house, and began the study of Arabic, while
busily preparing for her Syrian travels.

Having acquired a tolerable knowledge of the language, customs, and
manners of the people, Lady Hester organized a numerous caravan, and
proceeded to visit every part of Syria. She halted in succession at
Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo, Baulbek, and Palmyra--everywhere
maintaining an almost regal state--and by the stateliness of her
demeanour and the splendour of her pretensions producing a powerful
impression on the wandering Arab tribes, who proclaimed her Queen of
Palmyra and paid her an enthusiastic homage.

After several years of migratory enterprise, during which her
pretensions gradually grew bolder and stronger as her own faith in them
increased, she at length fixed her abode in an almost inaccessible
solitude of the wild Lebanon, near Saïd--the ancient Sidon--a concession
of the ruined convent and village of Djoun, a settlement of the Druses,
having been granted by the Pastor of St. Jean d'Acre. There she erected
her tent. The convent was a broad, grey mass of irregular building,
which, from its position, as well as from the gloomy blankness of its
walls, gave the idea of a neglected fortress; it had, in fact, been a
convent of great size, and like most of the religious houses in this
part of the world, had been made strong enough for opposing an inert
resistance to any mere casual band of assailants who might be unprovided
with regular means of attack. This she filled with a large retinue of
dragomen, women, slaves, and Albanian guards. She lived like an
independent princess, with a court of her own, a territory of her own,
and it must be added, laws of her own; carrying on political relations
with the Porte, with Beschir the celebrated Emir of the Lebanon, and the
numerous sheikhs of the Syrian deserts. Over these sheikhs and these
tribes she exercised at one time a singular influence. Mr. Kinglake
reports that her connection with the Bedawun began by her making a large
present of money (£500, an immense sum in piastres) to the chief whose
authority was recognized between Damascus and Palmyra. "The prestige,"
he says, "created by the rumours of her high and undefined rank, as well
as of her wealth and corresponding magnificence, was well sustained by
her imperious character and dauntless bravery."

Lady Hester, in conversation with the European visitors, would
occasionally mention some of the circumstances that assisted her to
secure an influence amounting almost to sovereignty.

"The Bedawun, so often engaged in irregular warfare, strains his eyes to
the horizon in search of a coming enemy just as habitually as the sailor
keeps his 'bright look out' for a strange sail. In the absence of
telescopes a far-reaching sight is highly valued; and Lady Hester had
this power. She told me that on one occasion, when there was good reason
to expect hostilities, a far-seeing Arab created great excitement in the
camp by declaring that he could distinguish some moving objects upon the
very farthest point within the reach of his eyes. Lady Hester was
consulted, and she instantly assured her comrades in arms that there
were indeed a number of horses within sight, but that they were without
riders: the assertion proved to be correct, and from that time forth her
superiority over all others in respect of far sight remained
undisputed."

       *       *       *       *       *

We may quote another anecdote, because it has a double significance,
illustrating not only the character of Lady Hester, but the temperament
of the wandering race over whom she sought to rule.

She was marching one day along with the military array of the tribe.
Observing that they were making preparations for an engagement, she
inquired the reason, and, after some attempt at mystification on the
part of the sheikh, was informed that war had been declared against the
tribe on account of its alliance with the English princess, and they
were consequently exposed to attack by a highly superior force. The
sheikh contrived to let Lady Hester see that she was the _teterrima
causa belli_, and that the contention would readily be appeased but for
his recognition of the sacredness of the duty of protecting the
Englishwoman whom he had received as his guest; at the same time his
tribe would probably experience a crushing disaster. Lady Hester's
resolution was immediately taken: she would not for one moment suffer a
calamity to fall upon her friends which it was in her power to avert.
She could go forth alone, trusting in herself and her ability to
encounter and overcome danger. Of course the sheikh professed his
objection to her determination, and candidly told her that though, if
she left them, they would be instantly able to negotiate the conditions
of an arrangement, yet they could do nothing for her, and that the
enemy's horsemen would sweep the desert so closely as to render
impossible her escape into any other district.

No fear of danger, however, could move the calm, courageous soul of Lady
Hester. She bade farewell to the tribe, turned her horse's head, and
rode away into the wilderness alone. Hour after hour passed away, and
still, with the hot sun overhead, and round her the solitude of the
desert, she rode onward. Suddenly her keen eye sighted some horsemen in
the distance. They drew nearer and nearer; evidently they were making
direct towards her; and eventually some hundreds of fully-armed Bedawun
galloped up to her, with fierce, hoarse shouts, brandishing their spears
as if they thirsted for her blood. Her face, at the time, was covered,
as is the Eastern custom, with her yashmak; but just as the spears of
the foremost horsemen glittered close to her horse's head, she raised
her stately figure in her stirrups, drew aside the yashmak that veiled
her majestic countenance, waved her arm slowly and disdainfully, and
with a loud voice cried, "Avaunt!"

The horsemen, we are told,[20] recoiled from her glance, but not in
terror. "The threatening yells of the assailants were suddenly changed
for loud shouts of joy and admiration at the bravery of the stately
Englishwoman, and festive gunshots were fired on all sides around her
honoured head. The truth was that the party belonged to the tribe with
which she had allied herself, and that the threatened attack, as well as
the pretended apprehension of an engagement, had been contrived for the
mere purpose of testing her courage. The day ended in a great feast,
prepared to do honour to the heroine, and from that time her power over
the minds of the people grew rapidly."

       *       *       *       *       *

This was probably the happiest, or at least the most successful, period
of her career. Her ambition was satisfied--she felt herself a power; her
pride received no wounds, and her will no check. But by degrees clouds
gathered on the horizon: her subjects, if ever they were her subjects,
grew impatient of a rule which did not fulfil their longings after
military empire. Her immense expenditure told upon her fortune, and its
gradual diminution compelled her to withhold the presents she had
formerly bestowed with so lavish a hand. She awoke at last to a
perception of the hollowness of her authority. Meanwhile, many of the
attendants who had accompanied her from Europe died; others returned to
their native country. She was left almost alone in her Lebanon retreat,
with only the shadow of her former power. The sense of failure must have
been very bitter, but she bore herself with all her wonted pride, and
made neither complaint nor confession. Without bestowing a regret on the
past, she encountered misfortune and ingratitude with a composed
countenance, facing them as fearlessly as she had faced the Bedawun of
the desert. She yielded nothing, either to the old age which was
creeping upon her, or the desertion of the ungrateful wretches who had
profited so largely by her generosity. Alone she lived, with the great
mountain peaks closing in upon her remote abode--without books, without
friends; attended by a few young negresses, a few black slaves, and a
handful of Arab peasants, who took charge of her gardens and stables,
and watched over the safety of her person. The love of power, however,
was still strong within her, and as her worldly authority slipped away,
she endeavoured to replace it by a spiritual. The energy of her temper
and the extraordinary force of her character found expression in exalted
religious ideas, in which the "illuminationism" of Europe was strangely
blended with the subtleties of the Oriental faiths and the mysteries of
mediæval astrology. To what extreme they carried her it is difficult to
say. It has been hinted that she dreamed of being united in a nuptial
union with her Saviour, reviving the old illusion of St. Catherine of
Siéna. There is no doubt that at times she claimed to be the possessor
of divine power; there is no doubt that she was not always a believer in
her own claims. Her intellect was too strong for her imagination. As
Miss Martineau remarks, "She saw and knew things which others could not
see or know; she had curious glimpses of prescience; but she could not
depend upon her powers, nor always separate realities from mere dreams."

       *       *       *       *       *

Occasionally a visitor from the active world of the West broke in upon
her loneliness--but only by permission--and, if he were a man of quick
sympathies, would draw her out of herself. Her revelations, under such
circumstances, were always of deep interest.

Alphonse de Lamartine, the French poet, orator, and man of letters,
obtained admission to her presence, though not without difficulty, in
1832, when she was standing on the threshold of old age. He has left us
a graphic record of the interview.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon when he was informed that Lady
Hester was ready to receive him. After traversing a court, a garden, a
day-kiosk, with jasmine hangings, then two or three gloomy corridors, a
small negro boy introduced him into her cabinet. So profound an
obscurity prevailed there, that at first he could scarcely distinguish
the noble, grave, sweet, yet majestic features of the white figure
which, clothed in Oriental costume, rose from her couch, and extended to
him her hands.

To her visitor Lady Hester seemed about fifty years of age; she was
really fifty-six; she was still beautiful--beautiful with that beauty
which lies in the form itself, in the purity of the lines, in the
majesty, the thought which irradiate the countenance. On her head she
wore a white turban; from her forehead a veil, or yashmak, of purple
wool fell down to her shoulders. A long shawl of yellow cashmere, an
ample Turkish robe of white silk, with hanging sleeves, enveloped her
whole person in their simple and majestic folds; so that you could but
catch a glimpse, where this outer tunic opened on the bosom, of a second
robe of Persian stuff, which was fastened at the throat by a clasp of
pearls. Turkish boots of yellow morocco, embroidered in silk, completed
her costume.

"You have come a great distance," said Lady Hester to her visitor,[21]
"to see a hermit; you are welcome, I receive few strangers, but your
letter pleased me, and I felt anxious to know a person who, like myself,
loved God, and nature, and solitude. Something told me, moreover, that
our stars were friendly, and that our sympathies would prove a bond of
union. Be seated, and let us converse.

"You are one of those men," she said, "whom I await; whom Providence
sends to me; who have a great part to accomplish in the work that Fate
is getting ready. You will shortly return to Europe. Well, Europe is
worn out; France alone has a great mission before her; in this you will
participate, though I know not how, but I can tell you this evening if
you wish it, after I have consulted the stars."

       *       *       *       *       *

"As yet," she continued--evidently her keen perception had detected her
visitor's vanity, and she skilfully played upon it--"as yet, I do not
know the names of all. I see more than three, however; I can distinguish
four, perhaps five, and--who knows?--still more. One of them is
certainly Mercury, which bestows clearness and colour upon intelligence
and speech. You will become a poet--I see it in your eyes, and in the
upper part of your face; in the lower you are under the sway of widely
different stars, almost all of them of opposite characters. I discern,
too, the influence of the sun in the pose of your head, and in the
manner in which you throw it back on the left shoulder. What is your
name?"

Lamartine, who had already won distinction as a poet, told her.

"I had never heard it," she exclaimed, with a convincing accent of
sincerity; "but, poet or not, I like you, and have hope for you."

"Go," she added; "dinner is served. Dine quickly, and return soon. I go
to meditate upon you, and to see more clearly into the confusion of my
ideas respecting your person and your future."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lamartine had scarcely concluded his dinner when Lady Hester sent for
him. He found her smoking a long Oriental pipe, the fellow of which she
ordered to be brought for his own use. Accustomed to see the most
graceful women of the East with their tchibouques, he was neither
surprised nor shocked by the gracious, _nonchalant_ attitude, or the
light wreaths of perfumed smoke issuing from Lady Hester's finely curved
lips, interrupting the conversation without chilling it. They conversed
together for a long time upon the favourite subject--the unique,
mysterious theme of that extraordinary woman, or the modern Circe of the
Desert, who so completely recalled to mind the famous female magicians
of antiquity. The religious opinions of Lady Hester seemed to her guest
a skilful though confused mixture of the various creeds among which she
was condemned--or had condemned herself--to live.

"Mystical as the Druses, with whose mysterious secrets she alone,
perhaps, in the world, was acquainted, resigned like the Mussulman, and
as fatalistic; with the Jew, expectant of the Messiah's coming; with the
Christian, a worshipper of Christ, whose beneficent morality she
practised--she invested the whole in the fantastic colours and
supernatural dreams of an imagination steeped in the light of the East,
and, it would seem, the revelations of the Arabian astrologists. A
strange and yet sublime medley, which it is much easier to stigmatize as
lunatic than to analyze and comprehend. But Lady Hester Stanhope was no
lunatic. Madness, which reveals itself only too clearly in the victim's
eyes, was not to be detected in her frank, direct look--madness, which
invariably betrays itself in conversation, which it involuntarily
interrupts by sudden, irregular, and eccentric outbreaks, was nowhere
discernible in Lady Hester's exalted, mystical, and cloudy, but
sustained, connected and vigorous monologues.

"If," adds M. de Lamartine, "I were to offer an opinion, I should rather
say it was a voluntary and studied madness, which knew what it was
about, and had its own reasons for posing as madness. The patent
admiration which her genius has excited, and still excites, among the
Arab tribes, is a sufficient proof that this pretended insanity is only
a means to an end."

In the course of conversation, Lady Hester suddenly said to her guest:

"I hope that you are an aristocrat; but I cannot doubt it when I look at
you."

"You are mistaken, madam," replied the man of sentiment, "I am neither
aristocrat nor democrat; I have lived long enough to see both sides of
the medal of humanity, and to find them equally hollow. No, I am neither
aristocrat nor democrat; I am a man, and an ardent partisan of all which
can ameliorate and perfect the whole man, whether he be born at the
summit or at the foot of the social ladder. I am neither for the people
nor the great, but for all humanity; and I am unable to believe that
either aristocratic or democratic institutions possess the exclusive
virtue of raising humanity to the highest standard. This virtue lies
only in a divine morality, the fruit of a perfect religion! The
civilization of the peoples--it is their faith!"

We shall shortly see that Lady Hester, with her quick insight into
character, an insight sharpened by long and varied experience, took "the
measure" of her visitor very accurately, and lightly estimated the
vanity, self-consciousness, and inflated sentimentality which weakened
the genius of Lamartine and marred his career, both for his country and
himself.

She invited him to visit her garden--a sanctuary into which the
_profanum vulgus_ were never allowed to penetrate. Here is his
description of it, somewhat exaggerated in colouring:--

"Gloomy trellises, the verdurous roofs of which bore, like thousands of
lustres, the gleaming grapes of the Promised Land; kiosks, where carved
arabesques were entertwined with jasmines and climbing plants, the
lianas of Asia; basins, into which the waters--artificial they are
here--flowed from afar to leap and murmur in the marble jets of alleys
lined with all the fruit trees of England, of Europe, and of the sunny
Eastern climates; green leaves besprinkled with blossoming shrubs, and
marble beds enclosing sheaves of flowers."

She also exhibited to her famous guest, if, indeed, he may be implicitly
credited, the noted mare which realized ancient prophecy, in which
nature had accomplished all that is written on the animal destined to
the honour of carrying the Messiah--"She will be born ready saddled." He
says: "And in truth, I saw, on this beautiful animal, a freak of nature,
rare enough to encourage the illusion of a vulgar credulity among
half-barbarous peoples: instead of shoulders, she had a cavity so broad
and deep, and so exactly imitating the shape of a Turkish saddle, that
one might truthfully say she was born ready saddled, and, with stirrups
at hand, one might readily have mounted her without a saddle." This
magnificent bay mare was the object of profound respect and admiration
on the part of Lady Stanhope and her slaves; she had never been ridden,
and a couple of Arab grooms cared for her and watched her carefully,
never losing sight of her.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few years later, and the brilliant author "Eöthen," Mr. A. W.
Kinglake, while travelling in the East, made his way to Lady Hester's
Lebanon retreat. She had been the friend of his mother, and consequently
he had no difficulty in obtaining admission.

In the first court which he entered a number of fierce-looking and
ill-clad Albanian soldiers were hanging about the place, a couple of
them smoking their tchibouques, the remainder lying torpidly upon the
flat stones. He rode on to an inner part of the building, dismounted,
and passed through a doorway that led him at once from an open court
into an apartment on the ground floor. There he was received by Lady
Hester's doctor, with a command from the doctor's mistress that her
visitor would rest and refresh himself after the fatigues of the
journey. After dinner, which was of the usual Oriental kind, but
included the wine of the Lebanon, he was conducted into a small chamber
where sat the lady prophetess. She rose from her seat very formally,
uttered a few words of welcome, pointed to a chair placed exactly
opposite to her sofa, at two yards' distance, and remained standing up
to the full of her majestic height, perfectly still and motionless,
until he had taken his appointed position. She then resumed her
seat--not after the fashion of the Orientals--but allowing her feet to
rest on the floor or footstool, and covering her lap with a mass of
loose white drapery.[22]

The woman before him had exactly the person of a prophetess; not,
indeed, of the divine Sibyl, imagined by Dammichino, but of a good,
business-like, practical prophetess, long used to the exercise of her
sacred calling. Her large commanding features reminded him of the great
statesman, her grandfather, as he is seen in Copley's famous picture;
her face was of surprising whiteness; she wore a very large turban,
composed of pale cashmere shawls, and so arranged as to conceal the
hair; her dress, from the chin down to the point at which it was
concealed by the drapery on her lap, was a mass of white linen loosely
folding--an ecclesiastical sort of affair--more like a surplice than any
of those blessed creations which our souls love under the names of
"dress," and "frock," and "bodice," and "collar," and "habit-shirt," and
sweet "chemisette."

Such was the outward seeming of Lady Hester Stanhope, the grand-daughter
of Chatham, the adviser of Pitt, the Queen of Palmyra, the prophetess of
the Lebanon--she who, in her life, had played so many parts, but in all
had given full rein to her master-passion, pride. And assuredly the
moralist who, commenting on the disastrous effect of this passion,
should need an illustration to point his moral and adorn his tale, could
find none more striking than Lady Hester Stanhope's career affords.

       *       *       *       *       *

A couple of black slaves appeared at a signal, and supplied their
mistress and her visitor with lighted tchibouques and coffee.

"The custom of the East sanctions, and almost commands, some moments of
silence whilst you are inhaling the first few breaths of the fragrant
pipe. The pause was broken, I think, by my lady, who addressed to me
some inquiries respecting my mother, and particularly as to her
marriage; but before I had communicated any great amount of family
facts, the spirit of the prophetess kindled within her, and presently
(though with all the skill of a woman of the world) she shuffled away
the subject of poor, dear Somersetshire, and bounded onward into other
spheres of thought....

"For hours and hours this wondrous white woman poured forth her speech,
for the most part concerning sacred and profane mysteries; but every now
and then she would stay her lofty flight, and swoop down upon the world
again. Whenever this happened I was interested in her conversation."

       *       *       *       *       *

In reference to her mode of life, she informed her guest that for her
sin, or sins, she had subjected herself during many years to severe
penance, and that her self-denial had not been without reward. "Vain and
false," she declared, "was all the pretended knowledge of the Europeans.
Their doctors asserted that the drinking of milk gave yellowness to the
complexion; yet milk was her only food, and was not her face white?" Her
intellectual abstemiousness was not less severe than her physical
self-denial. Upon book or newspaper she never cast a glance, but trusted
wholly to the stars for her sublime knowledge. Her nights she usually
spent in absorbed communion with these silent but eloquent teachers, and
took her rest during the daytime. She spoke contemptuously of the
frivolity and benighted ignorance of the modern Europeans, and gave as a
proof their ignorance not only of astrology, but of the common and
every-day phenomena produced by the magic art. She evidently desired her
hearer to believe that she had at her command all the spells which
exercise control over the creatures of the unseen world, but refrained
from employing them because it would be derogatory to her exalted rank
in the heavenly kingdom. She said that the charm by which the face of an
absent person is thrown upon a mirror lay within the reach of the
humblest magicians, but that the practice of such arts was unholy as
well as vulgar.

Reference was made to the divining rod or twig (Virgil's "Aurea
virga"[23]), by means of which precious metals may be discovered.

"In relation to this," says Kinglake, "the prophetess told me a story
rather against herself, and inconsistent with the notion of her being
perfect in her science; but I think that she mentioned the facts as
having happened before she attained to the great spiritual authority
which she now arrogated. She told me that vast treasures were known to
exist in a situation which she mentioned, if I remember rightly, as
being near Suez; that Napoleon, profanely brave, thrust his arm into the
cave containing the coveted gold, and that instantly his flesh became
palsied. But the youthful hero (for she said he was great in
his generation) was not to be thus daunted; he fell back,
characteristically, upon his brazen resources, and ordered up his
artillery; yet man could not strive with demons, and Napoleon was
foiled. In latter years came Ibrahim Pasha, with heavy guns and wicked
spells to boot, but the infernal guardians of the treasure were too
strong for him. It was after this that Lady Hester passed by the spot;
and she described, with animated gesture, the force and energy with
which the divining twig had suddenly leaped in her hands. She ordered
excavations, and no demon opposed her enterprise. The vast chest in
which the treasure had been deposited was at length discovered; but, lo
and behold! it was full of pebbles! She said, however, that the times
were approaching in which the hidden treasure of the earth would become
available to those who had 'true knowledge.'"

Among the subjects on which Lady Hester discoursed, with equal fluency
and earnestness, were religion and race. On the first head she
announced that the Messiah was yet to come; on the second, she
expressed her low opinion of Norman, and her high opinion of ancient
French, blood. Occasionally she descended to inferior topics, and
displayed her conspicuous abilities as a mimic and satirist. She spoke
of Lord Byron, and ridiculed his petty affectations and sham
Orientalism. For Lamartine she had still less mercy. His morbid self
consciousness and exaggerated refinement of manner, had excited her
contempt. Indeed, she seems to have cherished an abundant scorn of
everything approaching to exquisiteness or "æstheticism."

       *       *       *       *       *

Next day, at her request, he paid her a second visit. "Really," said
she, when he had taken his seat and his pipe, "we were together for
hours last night, and still I have heard nothing at all of my old
friends; now do tell me something of your dear mother and her sister; I
never knew your father--it was after I left Burton-Pynsent that your
mother married." Kinglake began to furnish the desired particulars; but
his questioner could not long attend to them. She soared away to loftier
topics; so that the second interview, though it lasted two or three
hours, was all occupied by her mystical, theological, transcendental,
necromantical discourse, in which she displayed the expressiveness, if
not the glowing eloquence, of a Coleridge.

In the course of the afternoon, the captain of an English man-of-war
arrived at Djoun, and Lady Hester resolved on receiving him for the
same reason as that which had governed her reception of Mr. Kinglake,
namely, an early intimacy with his family. He proved to be a pleasant
and amusing guest, and all three sat smoking until midnight, conversing
chiefly upon magical science.

"Lady Hester's unholy claim to supremacy in the spiritual kingdom was,
no doubt, the suggestion of fierce and inordinate pride, most perilously
akin to madness; but I am quite sure," says Mr. Kinglake, "that the mind
of the woman was too strong to be thoroughly overcome by even this
potent feeling. I plainly saw that she was not an unhesitating follower
of her own system; and I even fancied that I could distinguish the brief
moments during which she contrived to believe in herself, from those
long and less happy intervals in which her own reason was too strong for
her.

"As for the lady's faith in astrology and magic science, you are not for
a moment to suppose that this implied any aberration of intellect. She
believed these things in common with those around her; and it could
scarcely be otherwise, for she seldom spoke to anybody, except crazy old
dervishes, who at once received her alms and fostered her extravagances;
and even when (as on the occasion of my visit) she was brought into
contact with a person entertaining different notions, she still remained
uncontradicted. This _entourage_, and the habit of fasting from books
and newspapers, was quite enough to make her a facile recipient of any
marvellous story."[24]

       *       *       *       *       *

After Lady Hester's death, a visit was paid to the place which had been
her residence for so many years, by Major Eliot Warburton, the
accomplished author of "The Crescent and the Cross." He speaks of the
buildings, that constituted the palace, as of a very scattered and
complicated description, covering a wide space, but only one story in
height; courts and gardens, stables and sleeping rooms, halls of
audience and ladies' bowers, all strangely intermingled. Heavy weeds
clambered about the open portals and a tangle of roses and jasmine
blocked the way to the inner court, where the flowers no longer bloomed
and the fountains had ceased to play in the marble basins. At nightfall
when Major Warburton's escort had lighted their watch-fires, the lurid
gleam fell strangely upon masses of honeysuckle and woodbine; on the
white, mouldering walls beneath, and the dark, waving trees above; while
the quaint picture seemed appropriately filled up by the group of wild
mountaineers, with their long beards and vivid dresses, who gathered
around the cheerful blaze.

Next morning, Major Warburton explored the spacious gardens. "Here many
a broken arbour and trellis bending under masses of jasmine and
honeysuckle, showed the care and taste that were once lavished on this
wild but beautiful hermitage: a garden-house, surrounded by an
enclosure of roses run wild, stood in the midst of a grove of myrtle and
bay trees. This was Lady Hester's favourite resort during her life-time,
and now, within its silent enclosure,

    "'After life's fitful fever she sleeps well.'"

It is painful to know that in her last illness she was shamefully
deserted. Mr. Moore, the English consul at Beyrout, on hearing that she
was stricken, rode across the mountains to visit her, accompanied by Mr.
Thompson, the American missionary. It was evening when they arrived, and
silence reigned in the palace. No attendants met them. They lighted
their own lamps in the outer court, and passed unquestioned through
court and gallery until they reached the room where she lay--dead. "A
corpse was the only inhabitant of the palace, and the isolation from her
kind which she had sought so long was indeed complete. That morning,
thirty-seven servants had watched every motion of her eye; its spell
once darkened by death, every one fled with such plunder as they could
secure. A little girl, adopted by her, and maintained for years, took
her watch and some papers on which she had set peculiar value. Neither
the child nor the property was ever seen again. Not a single thing was
left in the room where she lay dead, except the ornaments upon her
person: no one had ventured to take these; even in death she seemed able
to protect herself. At midnight, her countryman and the missionary
carried her out by torchlight to a spot in the garden that had been
formerly her favourite resort, and there they buried the self-exiled
lady."

Some curious particulars of Lady Hester Stanhope's mode of life in its
closing years are recorded by her physician. She seldom rose from her
bed until between two and five in the afternoon, and seldom retired
before the same hours in the morning. It was sunset before the day's
business really began. Not that the servants were permitted to remain
idle during daylight. On the contrary, their work was assigned to them
over-night, and their mistress employed the evening hours in arranging
their occupations for the following day. When this was done, she wrote
her letters and plunged into those endless conversations which seem to
have been her sole, or, at all events, her chief pleasure. She always
showed a reluctance, an air of unwillingness, to retire; not an unusual
characteristic in persons of her peculiar temperament. When the room was
ready, one of her two girls, Zezefôrn or Falôom, would precede her to
it, bearing wax tapers in their hands.

Her bedstead might have suited a veteran campaigner; it consisted simply
of a few planks nailed together on low tressels. On these planks, which
sloped slightly towards the foot, was spread a mattress, seven feet long
and about four and a half feet broad. Instead of sheets, she had Barbary
blankets, which are like the finest English, two over and one under her.
There was no counterpane, but, as occasion required, a woollen abak or
cloak would be used or a fur pelisse. Her pillow-case was of Turkish
silk, and under it was another covered with coloured cotton. Behind this
were two more of silk, ready at hand, if needed.

Her dress for the night was a chemise of silk and cotton, a white
quilted jacket, a short pelisse, a turban on her head, and a kefféyah
tied under her chin in the same manner as when she was up, with a shawl
over the back of her head and shoulders. It is rather a puzzle how she
could enjoy in this full panoply any sound or refreshing repose.

No man is said to be a hero to his valet; I suppose the proverb may be
applied in the case of his physician. Certainly, Lady Hester Stanhope's
medical attendant does not forget to expose her weaknesses. "As it had
become," he says, "a habit with her to find nothing well done, when she
entered her bedroom, it was rare that the bed was made to her liking;
and, generally, she ordered it to be made over again in her presence.
Whilst this was doing, she would smoke her pipe, then call for the sugar
basin to eat two or three lumps of sugar, then for a clove to take away
the mawkish taste of the sugar. The girls, in the meantime, would go on
making the bed, and be saluted every now and then, for some mark of
stupidity, with all sorts of appellations. The night-lamp was then
lighted, a couple of yellow wax lights were placed ready for use in the
recess of the window, and all things being apparently done for the
night, she would get into bed, and the maid whose turn it was to sleep
in the room (for latterly she always had one) having placed herself,
dressed as she was, on her mattress behind the curtain which ran across
the room, the other servant was dismissed. But hardly had she shut the
door and reached her own sleeping-room, flattering herself that her
day's work was over, when the bell would ring, and she was told to get
broth or lemonade or orgeat directly. This, when brought, was a new
trial for the maids. Lady Hester Stanhope took it on a tray placed on
her lap as she sat up in bed, and it was necessary for one of the two
servants to hold the candle in one hand and shade the light from her
mistress's eyes with the other. The contents of the basin were sipped
once or twice and sent away; or, if she ate a small bit of dried toast,
it was considered badly made, and a fresh piece was ordered, perhaps not
to be touched."

In what follows we are almost inclined to suspect a degree of
exaggeration. Dr. Meryon says that the dish being removed, the maid
would again depart, and throw herself on her bed; and, as she wanted no
rocking, in ten minutes would be asleep. But, meanwhile, her mistress
would feel a twitch in some part of her body, and the bell would again
be rung. As servants, when fatigued, sleep sometimes so soundly as not
to hear, and sometimes are purposely deaf, Lady Hester Stanhope had got
in the quadrangle of her own apartments a couple of active fellows, a
part of whose business it was to watch by turns during the night, and
see that the maids answered the bell; they were, therefore, sure to be
roughly shaken out of their sleep, and, in going, half stupid, into her
ladyship's room, would be told to prepare a fomentation of chamomile, or
elder flowers, or mallows, or the like. The gardener was to be called,
water was to be boiled, and the house again was all in motion. During
these preparations the mistress would recollect some order she had
previously given about some honey, flower, or letter--no matter however
trivial--and the person charged with its execution would be summoned
from his bed, whatever might be the time, and questioned respecting it.
Nobody in Lady Hester's establishment was suffered to enjoy an interval
of rest.

       *       *       *       *       *

A description of the bedchamber, which, for most purposes, was Lady
Hester's principal apartment, we shall now subjoin. It bore no
resemblance to an English or a French chamber, and, independent of its
furniture, was scarcely better than a common peasant's. The floor was of
cement. Across the room was hung a dirty red cotton curtain, to keep off
the wind when the door opened. There were three windows; one was nailed
up by its shutter on the outside, and one closed up by a bit of felt on
the inside; only the third, which looked on the garden, was reserved for
the admission of light and air. In two deep niches in the wall (which
was about three feet thick) were heaped on a shelf, equidistant from the
top and bottom, a few books, some bundles tied up in handkerchiefs,
writing paper, with sundry other articles of daily use--such as a white
plate, loaded with several pairs of scissors and two or three pairs of
spectacles, and another white plate with pins, sealing-wax, and wafers;
also, a common white inkstand, and the old parchment cover of some
merchant's daybook, with blotting paper inside, on which, spread on her
lap, as she sat up in bed, she generally wrote her letters.

She had neither watch, clock, nor timepiece; and when her physician
asked her why she had never purchased one, as a thing so essential to
good order in a household, she replied, "Because I cannot bear anything
that is unnatural; the sun is for the day, and the moon and stars for
the night, and by them I like to measure time."

A wooden stool by her bedside served for a table, and upon it stood a
variety of things to satisfy any sudden want or fancy; such as a little
strawberry preserve in a saucer, lemonade, chamomile tea, ipecacuanha
lozenges, a bottle of cold water. Of these she would take one or other
in succession, almost constantly. In a day or two fresh remedies or
concoctions would take their place. There would be a bottle of wine or
of violet syrup; anise seeds to masticate instead of cloves; quince
preserve; orgeat; a cup of cold tea; a pill-box.

Her bed was without curtains or mosquito net. An earthenware _ybrick_,
or jug, with a spout, stood in one of the windows, with a small copper
basin, and this constituted her washing appliances. There was no toilet
table; and when she washed herself, the copper basin was held before
her as she sat up in bed. Near the foot of the bed stood an upright,
ill-made walnut wood box, with a piece of green calico depending before
it. The windows were curtainless, and the felt with which one of them
was covered was held in its place by a faggot-stick, stuck tightly in,
from corner to corner diagonally. "Such was the chamber of Lord
Chatham's grand-daughter! Diogenes himself could not have found fault
with its appointments!" But the thoughtful observer will regret the
indulged self-will and the exaggerated egotism which placed in such a
position a woman whose powerful intellect might have been applied to the
benefit of the community. It is impossible not to see and feel that hers
was a wasted life.

It was this self-will, this colossal egotism that led her to spend so
much of her time in conversation--if those could be called conversations
in which one of the talkers insisted upon a monopoly of attention. It
would be more accurate to describe them as monologues, with occasional
interpolations of assent on the part of the listener. We have no wish to
underrate their charm, though, from the reports transmitted to
posterity, they would hardly seem to have deserved the very warm eulogy
pronounced by the physician, who says,[25] "Her conversations lasted
eight and ten hours at a time, without moving from her seat: so that,
although highly entertained, instructed, or astonished at her versatile
powers, as the listeners might be, it was impossible not to feel the
weariness of so long a sitting. Everybody," he adds, "who visited Lady
Hester Stanhope in her retirement will bear witness to her unexampled
colloquial powers; to her profound knowledge of character; to her
inexhaustible fund of anecdotes; to her talents for mimicry; to her
modes of narration, as various as the subjects she talked about; to the
lofty inspiration and sublimity of her language, when the subject
required it; and to her pathos and feeling, whenever she wished to
excite the emotions of her hearers. There was no secret of the human
heart, however studiously concealed, that she could not discover; no
workings in the listener's mind that she would not penetrate; no
intrigue, from the low cunning of vulgar intrigue to the vast
combinations of politics, that she would not unravel; no labyrinth,
however tortuous, that she would not thread. It was this comprehensive
and searching faculty, this intuitive penetration, which made her so
formidable; for under imaginary names, when she wished to show a person
that his character and course of life were unmasked to her view, she
would, in his very presence, paint him such a picture of himself, in
drawing the portrait of another, that you might see the individual
writhing on his chair, unable to conceal the effect the words had on his
conscience. Everybody who heard her for an hour or two retired humbled
from her presence, for her language was always directed to bring mankind
to their level, to pull down pride and conceit, to strip off the garb
of affectation, and to shame vice, immorality, irreligion, and
hypocrisy."

We have admitted Lady Hester Stanhope's great mental powers, but we can
find no trace in the records of her conversation of such extraordinary
genius as is here indicated. No doubt, she talked very well; but like
all great talkers, she sometimes talked very ill. The great attraction
of her conversation was its reflection of one strange personality: she
glassed herself in it as in a mirror; and as she had seen much, and
known many great men, and gone through a vast variety of experience, she
had always something to tell which was interesting. But how largely it
was informed by egotism, and how narrowly at times it escaped the
reproach of silliness, may be understood, I think, from the following
specimen:--

"Doctor," one day she said to her physician, "you have no religion: what
I mean by religion is, adoration of the Almighty. Religion, as people
profess it, is nothing but a dress. One man puts on one coat, and
another another. But the feeling that I have is quite a different thing,
and I thank God that He has opened my eyes. You will never learn of me,
because you cannot comprehend my ideas, and therefore it is of no use
teaching you. Nobody opens a book to an idiot, that would foam and
splutter over it; for you never could make him read. Ah! I see my way a
little before me, and God vouchsafes to enlighten me perhaps more than
other people....

"It was ever an object with me to search out why I came into the world,
what I ought to do in it, and where I shall go to. _God has given me the
extraordinary faculty of seeing into futurity_; for a clear judgment
becomes matter of fact. It has ever been my study to know myself. I may
thank God for my sufferings, as they have enabled me to dive deeper into
the subject than, I believe, any person living. The theory of the soul,
doctor, what an awful thing!

"My religion is to try to do as well as I can in God's eyes. That is the
only merit I have. I try to do the best I can. Some of the servants
sometimes talk about my religion--_dyn es Sytt_, as they call it--and I
let them talk; for they explain it to people by saying it is to do what
is right, and to avoid all uncleanliness.

"My views of the Creator are very different. I believe that all things
are calculated, and what is written is written; but I do not suppose
that the devil is independent of God: he receives his orders. Not that
God goes and gives them to him, any more than the big my lord goes and
gives orders to his shoe-black. There is some secondary being that does
that--some _intendant_.

"There are angels of different degrees, from the highest down to the
devil. It must be an awful sight to see an angel! There is something so
transcendent and beautiful in them, that a person must be half out of
his senses to brave the sight. For, when you are looking down, and
happen to raise your head, and there is the angel standing before you,
you can't say whether it came up through the earth, or down from the
sky, or how--there he is, and may go in the same way. But angels don't
appear to everybody. You know, doctor, you can't suppose that if you
were a dirty little apothecary, keeping a shop in a narrow street, a
prime minister would waste his time in going to call on you; or that, if
a man is sitting over his glass all the evening, or playing whist, or
lounging all the morning, an angel will come to him. But where there is
a mortal of high rectitude and integrity, then such a being may be
supposed to condescend to seek him out.

"God is my Friend--that is enough; and, if I am to see no happiness in
this world, my share of it, I trust, will be greater in the next, if I
am firm in the execution of those principles which He has inspired me
with."[26]

In reference to her inveterate love of smoking, her physician says,
"Much has been written in prose and verse on the advantages and mischief
of smoking tobacco.... All I can say is, that Lady Hester gave her
sanction to the practice by the habitual use of the long Oriental pipe,
which use dated from the year 1817, or thereabouts. In her bed, lying
with her pipe in her mouth, she would talk on politics, philosophy,
morality, religion, or on any other theme, with her accustomed
eloquence, and closing her periods with a whiff that would have made
the Duchess of Richmond stare with astonishment, could she have risen
from her tomb to have seen her quondam friend, the brilliant ornament of
a London drawing-room, clouded in fumes so that her features were
sometimes invisible. Now, this altered individual had not a covering to
her bed that was not burnt into twenty holes by the sparks and ashes
that had fallen from her pipe; and, had not these coverings been all
woollen, it is certain that, on some unlucky night, she must have been
consumed, bed and all.

"Her bedroom, at the end of every twenty-four hours, was strewed with
tobacco and ashes, to be swept away and again strewed as before; and it
was always strongly impregnated with the fumes.

"The finest tobacco the country could produce, and the cleanest pipes
(for she had a new one almost as often as a fop puts on new gloves),
could hardly satisfy her fastidiousness; and I have known her footman
get as many scoldings as there were days in the week on that score. From
curiosity, I once counted a bundle of pipes, thrown by after a day or
two's use, any one of which would have fetched five or ten shillings in
London, and there were 102. The woods she most preferred were jessamine,
rose, and cork. She never smoked cherry-wood pipes, from their weight,
and because she liked cheaper ones, which she could renew oftener. She
never arrived at that perfectibility, which is seen in many smokers, of
swallowing the fumes, or of making them pass out at her nostrils. The
pipe was to her what a fan was, or is, in a lady's hand--a means of
having something to do. She forgot it when she had a letter to write, or
any serious occupation. It is not so with the studious and literary man,
who fancies it helps reflection or promotes inspiration."[27]

FOOTNOTES:

[20] "Eöthen," pp. 87, 88.

[21] Alphonse de Lamartine: "Voyage en Orient." Lamartine's version of
Lady Hester's conversation is sometimes of dubious accuracy.

[22] "Eöthen," pp. 81, 82. In the following narrative we very frequently
adopt, with slight alteration and condensation, Mr. Kinglake's language.

[23] The branch which obtains Æneas admission to the shades (Æneid, Book
vi.)--

    "This branch at least"--and here she showed
    The branch within her raiment stowed--
    "You needs must own"...
    He answers not, but eyes the sheen
    Of the blest bough.

[24] "Eöthen," pp. 97, 98.

[25] "Memoirs of Lady Hester Stanhope," i. 135, 136.

[26] "Memoirs of Lady Hester Stanhope," i. 142-144.

[27] "Memoirs of Lady Hester Stanhope," iii. 189, 190.



LADY BRASSEY.


Most of our readers will be familiar with the exciting story of voyages
round the world; with that famous circumnavigation by Magellan, which
first found an ocean-way between the West and the East, and carried a
furrow across the broad waters of the Pacific; that scarcely less famous
circumnavigation of Drake's, which made the English flag known on the
southern seas; that great voyage of Cook's, which added so many lands,
hitherto unknown, to the map of the inhabited globe, down to later
circumnavigations, accomplished for scientific objects by ships equipped
with the most perfect appliances. Storm and wreck and calm; intercourse
with savages who look with wonder on the white sails that have come up
from the under-world; the wash of waters upon coral-reefs; the shadow of
green palms upon lonely isles; strange sea-weeds floating on the deep
green wave, and flying-fish hunted by voracious foes; long days and
nights spent under glowing skies, without a glimpse of land; the
breathless eagerness with which some new shore is sighted--with such
incidents as these we English are necessarily familiar, possessing as we
do a vast and various literature of the sea. And yet our appetite never
grows weary of the old, old tale; there is a romance about it which
never seems to fade--like the sea itself it seems ever to present some
fresh and novel aspect.

And such an aspect it certainly wears when it is told by a woman, as it
has been told by Lady Brassey, one of the most adventurous and agreeable
of lady-voyagers. Told, too, with a literary skill and a refined taste
which have greatly charmed the public, and given a permanent value to
her rapid record. There is no affectation of high-wrought adventure or
heroic enterprise about it. Lady Brassey describes only what she has
seen--and she saw a great deal. She invents nothing and she magnifies
nothing; her narrative is as plain and unvarnished as a ship's log-book.

The yacht _Sunbeam_ in which Lady (she was then simply Mrs.) Brassey
accomplished her voyage round the world was a screw three-masted
schooner, of 530 tons, with engines of thirty-five horse-power, and a
speed of 10 to 13 knots an hour. She was 157 feet in length, with an
extreme breadth of twenty-seven and a-half feet. Belonging to a wealthy
English gentleman, she was richly appointed, and fitted up with a
luxurious splendour which would have driven wild with envy and
admiration the earlier circumnavigators. Leaving Chatham on the 1st of
July, 1876, she ran off Beachy Head on the following evening, dropped
anchor off Cowes next morning, and early on the 6th passed through the
Needles.

"We were forty-three on board, all told," says Mrs. Brassey, the party
then including her husband and herself and their four children, some
friends, a sailing master, boatswain, carpenter, able-bodied seamen,
engineers, firemen, stewards, cooks, nurse, stewardess, and lady's maid.

On the 8th they were fairly away from Old England. Next day, in the
afternoon, they rounded Ushant, at the distance of a mile and a-half:
"the sea was tremendous, the waves breaking in columns of spray against
the sharp needle-like rocks that form the point of the island." Two days
later, Mrs. Brassey had her first rough experience of the sea. "We were
all sitting or standing," she says, "about the stern of the vessel,
admiring the magnificent dark blue billows following us, with their
curling white crests, mountains high. Each wave, as it approached,
appeared as if it must overwhelm us, instead of which it rushed grandly
by, rolling and shaking us from stem to stern, and sending fountains of
spray on board. Tom (Mr. Brassey) was looking at the stern compass,
Allnutt being close to him. Mr. Bingham and Mr. Freer were smoking,
half-way between the quarter-deck and the after-companion, where Captain
Brown, Dr. Potter, Muriel, and I were standing. Captain Lecky, seated on
a large coil of rope, placed on the box of the rudder, was spinning
Mabelle a yarn. A new hand was steering, and just at the moment when an
unusually big wave overtook us, he unfortunately allowed the vessel to
broach to a little. In a second the sea came pouring over the stern,
above Allnutt's head. The boy was nearly washed overboard, but he
managed to catch hold of the rail, and, with great presence of mind,
stuck his knees into the bulwarks. Kindred, our boatswain, seeing his
danger, rushed forward to save him, but was knocked down by the return
wave, from which he emerged gasping. The coll of rope, on which Captain
Lecky and Mabelle were seated, was completely floated by the sea.
Providentially, however, he had taken a double turn round his wrist with
a reefing point, and throwing his other arm round Mabelle, held on like
grim death; otherwise nothing could have saved them. She was perfectly
self-possessed, and only said quietly, "Hold on, Captain Lecky, hold
on!" to which he replied, "All right." I asked her afterwards if she
thought she was going overboard, and she answered, "I did not _think_ at
all, mamma, but felt sure we were gone." Captain Lecky, long accustomed
to very large ships, had not in the least realized how near we were to
the water in our little vessel, and was proportionately taken by
surprise. All the rest of the party were drenched, with the exception of
Muriel, whom Captain Brown held high above the water in his arms, and
who lost no time in remarking, in the midst of the general confusion,
"I'm not at all wet, I'm not." Happily, the children don't know what
fear is. The maids, however, were very frightened, as some of the sea
had got down into the nursery, and the skylights had to be screwed down.
Our studding sail boom, too, broke with a loud crack when the ship
broached to, and the jaws of the fore-boom gave way.

"Soon after this adventure we all went to bed, full of thankfulness that
it had ended as well as it did, but, alas! not, so far as I was
concerned, to rest in peace. In about two hours I was awakened by a
tremendous weight of water suddenly descending upon me and flooding the
bed. I immediately sprang out, only to find myself in another pool on
the floor. It was pitch dark, and I could not think what had happened;
so I rushed on deck, and found that, the weather having moderated a
little, some kind sailor, knowing my love of fresh air, had opened the
skylight rather too soon, and one of the angry waves had popped on
board, deluging the cabin.

"I got a light and proceeded to mop up as best I could, and then
endeavoured to find a dry place to sleep in. This, however, was no easy
task, for my own bed was drenched and every other berth occupied; the
deck, too, was ankle-deep in water, as I found when I tried to get
across to the deck-house sofa. At last I lay down on the floor, wrapped
up in my ulster, and wedged between the foot-stanchions of our swing bed
and the wardrobe athwart ship; so that, as the yacht rolled heavily, my
feet were often higher than my head. Consequently what sleep I snatched
turned into a nightmare, of which the fixed idea was a broken head,
from the three hundredweight of lead at the bottom of our bed swinging
wildly from side to side and up and down, as the vessel rolled and
pitched, suggesting all manner of accidents. When morning came at last
the weather cleared a good deal, though the breeze continued. All hands
were soon busily employed in repairing damages; and very picturesque the
deck and rigging of the _Sunbeam_ looked, with the various groups of men
occupied upon the ropes, spars, and sails. Towards evening the wind fell
light, and we had to get up steam. The night was the first really warm
one we had enjoyed, and the stars shone out brightly; the sea, which had
been of a lovely blue colour during the day, showed a slight
phosphorescence after dark."

The voyage, which opened in this stirring manner, proved not less
prosperous than pleasant, and was unmarked by any striking adventures,
though not devoid of interesting incidents. By way of the Cape de Verde
Islands and Madeira, the _Sunbeam_ kept southward to the Equator, and
gradually drew near the coast of South America, until it touched at the
Brazilian capital, Rio de Janeiro. Thence it ran southward to the River
Plate, skirted the Patagonian shores, and, threading its way through the
defiles of the Magellan Strait, emerged into the Southern Ocean. A
northerly course took it to the great sea-port of Chili--Valparaiso,
whence it reached across the Pacific to the beautiful group of the
Society Islands, visiting Tahiti, the Eden of the southern seas. The
Sandwich Islands are almost the same distance north as the Society are
south of the Equator. Here Lady Brassey was received with great
hospitality, and surveyed the new and rising civilization of Hawaii with
much interest. In the track of the trade winds the voyagers crossed the
Pacific, which, so far as they were concerned, justified its name, to
Japan; thence they proceeded to Hong-Kong, and through the Straits of
Malacca to Penang. Ceylon lies on the farther side of the Bay of Bengal.
From Ceylon they sailed to Aden, at the mouth of the Red Sea, one of
those strong strategical points by which England keeps open the
ocean-highways to her commercial fleets. Through the Suez Canal the
_Sunbeam_ passed into the Mediterranean, "whose shores are empires,"
touching at Malta and at "the Rock," which the enterprise of Sir George
Rorke gave, and the patient courage of General Eliott preserved, to
England. Entering the familiar waters of the Atlantic, it put into
Lisbon, and afterwards fell into the track for "home," sighting the
first English land, the Start, very early in the morning of the 26th of
May. At midnight the voyagers reached Beachy Head, and could see the
lights of Hastings in the distance. At half-past six on the 27th they
landed there, and were warmly greeted by a multitude of well-wishers.

In our limited space it would be impossible for us to follow up very
closely a voyage which covered so large a part of the world's surface;
nor is it necessary, since Lady Brassey's charmingly written narrative
is now well known to every reader; but we shall permit ourselves the
pleasure of seeing, as Lady Brassey saw, a picture here and there of
beautiful scenery or foreign manners, that we may judge of the
impression it produced on so accomplished an observer. Lady Brassey
evidently belongs not to the _nil admirari_ school, but enjoys keenly
and heartily everything that is fresh and new--a bright bit of colour or
a picturesque detail. It is this which makes her book so enjoyable.
There is no affectation in its pages--no airs of conscious superiority;
and we feel that we are in the company of a woman with a woman's
heart--of a woman with broad sympathies and a happy nature.

Our first visit, with Lady Brassey as our guide, shall be to the market
at Rio de Janeiro.[28]

The greatest bustle and animation prevailed, and there were people and
things to see and observe in endless variety. The fish market was full
of finny monsters of the deep, all new and strange to us, whose odd
Brazilian names would convey to a stranger but little idea of the fish
themselves. There was an enormous rock fish, weighing about three
hundred pounds, with hideous face and shiny back, and fins; large ray,
and skate, and cuttle fish--the octopus, or pieuvre, described with so
much exaggeration in Victor Hugo's "Travailleurs de la Mer," to say
nothing of the large prawns for which the coast is famous--prawns eight
or ten inches long, with antennæ of twelve or fourteen inches in length.
Such prawns suit those only who care for quantity rather than for
quality; they are of indifferent flavour; whereas the oysters, which are
particularly small, are remarkable for their delicious taste. Mackerel
are here in abundance, also a good many turtle and porpoises, and a few
hammer-headed sharks.

In the fruit market were many familiar bright-coloured fruits. Fat,
jet-black negresses, wearing turbans on their heads, strings of coloured
beads on their necks and arms, and single long white garments, which
appeared to be continually slipping off their shoulders, presided over
glittering piles of oranges, bananas, pine-apples, passion-fruit,
tomatoes, apples, pears, capsicum and peppers, sugar-canes,
cabbage-palms, cherimoyas, and bread-fruit.

In another part of the market all sorts of live birds were for sale,
with a few live beasts, such as deer, monkeys, pigs, guinea-pigs in
profusion, rats, cats, dogs, marmosets, and a dear little lion-monkey,
very small and rather red, with a beautiful head and mane, who roared
exactly like a real lion in miniature. There were cages full of small
flamingoes, snipe of various kinds, and a great many birds of smaller
size, with feathers of all shades of blue, red, and green, and metallic
hues of brilliant lustre, besides parrots, macaws, cockatoos
innumerable, and torchas on stands. The torcha is a bright-coloured
black and yellow bird, about as big as a starling, which puts its little
head on one side and takes flies from one's fingers in the prettiest and
most enticing manner.

While the _Sunbeam_ was lying in the River Plate, Lady Brassey and her
party made an excursion to the Pampas, those broad, league-long
undulating plains of verdure, on which civilization as yet has made but
a limited advance.

    "Miles and miles of gold and green
        Where the sunflowers blow
        In a solid glow,
    And to break now and then the screen--
        Black neck and eyeballs keen,
    Up a wild horse leaps between."--(_R. Browning._)

According to Lady Brassey, the first glimpse of the far-spreading
prairie was most striking in all its variations of colour. The true
shade of the Pampas grass, when long, is a light dusty green; when
short, it is a bright fresh green. But it frequently happens that, owing
to the numerous prairie fires, either accidental or intentional, nothing
is visible but a vast expanse of black charred ground, here and there
relieved by a few patches of vivid green, where the grass is once more
springing up under the influence of the rain.

"The road, or rather track, was in a bad condition, owing to the recent
wet weather, and on each side of the five _cañadas_, or small rivers,
which we had to ford, there were deep morasses, through which we had to
struggle as best we could, with the mud up to our axle-trees. Just
before arriving at the point where the stream had to be crossed, the
horses were well flogged and urged on at a gallop, which they gallantly
maintained until the other side was reached. Then we stopped to breathe
the horses and to repair damages, generally finding that a trace had
given way, or that some other part of the harness had shown signs of
weakness. On one occasion we were delayed for a considerable time by the
breaking of the splinter-bar, to repair which was a troublesome matter;
indeed, I don't know how we should have managed if we had not met a
native lad, who sold us his long lasso to bind the pieces together
again. It was a lucky _rencontre_ for us, as he was the only human being
we saw during the whole of our drive of thirty miles, except the peon
who brought us a change of horses half way.

"In the course of the journey we passed a large estancia, the road to
which was marked by the dead bodies and skeletons of the poor beasts who
had perished in the late droughts. Hundreds of them were lying about in
every stage of decay, those more recently dead being surrounded by
vultures and other carrion birds. The next _cañada_ that we crossed was
choked up with the carcasses of the unfortunate creatures who had
struggled thus far for a last drink, and had then not had sufficient
strength left to extricate themselves from the water. Herds of
miserable-looking, half-starved cattle were also to be seen; the cows
very little larger than their calves, and all apparently covered with
the same rough shaggy coats. The pasture is not fine enough in this part
of the country to carry sheep, but deer are frequently met with....

"The natives of these parts pass their lives in the saddle. Horses are
used for almost every conceivable employment, from hunting and fishing
to brick-making and butter-churning. Even the very beggars ride about on
horseback. I have seen a photograph of one, with a police certificate of
mendicancy hanging round his neck. Every domestic servant has his or her
own horse, as a matter of course; and the maids are all provided with
habits, in which they ride about on Sundays, from one estancia to
another, to pay visits. In fishing, the horse is ridden into the water
as far as he can go, and the net or rod is then made use of by his
rider. At Buenos Ayres I have seen the poor animals all but swimming to
the shore, with heavy carts and loads, from the ships anchored in the
inner roads; for the water is so shallow, that only very small boats can
go alongside the vessels, and the cargo is therefore transferred
directly to the carts to save the trouble and expense of transhipment In
out-of-the-way places, on the Pampas, where no churns exist, butter is
made by putting milk into a goat-skin bag, attached by a long lasso to
the saddle of a peon, who is then set to gallop a certain number of
miles, with the bag bumping and jumping along the ground after him."[29]

       *       *       *       *       *

When on her way to the Straits of Magellan, Lady Brassey saw something
of one of the most terrible of "disasters at sea"--a ship on fire. The
barque proved to be the _Monkshaven_, from Swansea, with a cargo of
smelting coal for Valparaiso. The _Sunbeam_, on discovering her,
hove-to, and sent a boat, which, as it was found impossible to save the
burning vessel, brought her captain and crew on board, and afterwards
saved most of their effects, with the ship's chronometers, charts, and
papers.

"The poor little dingy belonging to the _Monkshaven_ had been cast away
as soon as the crew had disembarked from her, and there was something
melancholy in seeing her slowly drift away to leeward, followed by her
oars and various small articles, as if to rejoin the noble ship she had
so lately quitted. The latter was now hove-to, under full sail, an
occasional puff of smoke alone betraying the presence of the demon of
destruction within. The sky was dark and lowering, the sunset red and
lurid in its grandeur, the clouds numerous and threatening, the sea high
and dark, with occasional streaks of white foam. Not a breath of wind
was stirring. Everything portended a gale. As we lay slowly rolling from
side to side, both ship and boat were sometimes plainly visible, and
then again both would disappear, for what seemed an age, in the deep
trough of the South Atlantic rollers."[30]

       *       *       *       *       *

Something Lady Brassey has to say about the Patagonians, of whom the
early voyagers brought home such mythical accounts. They owe their name
to the fanciful credulity of Magellan, who thus immortalized his
conviction that they were of gigantic proportions--Patagons, or
Pentagons, that is, five cubits high. Sir Thomas Cavendish speaks of
them as averaging seven to eight feet in stature. In truth, they are a
fine robust race; well-limbed, of great strength, and above six feet in
height; not giants, but men cast in a noble mould, and, physically, not
inferior to the household regiments of the British army. They live the
true nomadic life, being almost constantly on horseback, and dashing at
headlong speed across their wide and open plains. Both men and women
wear a long flowing mantle of skins, which reaches from the waist to the
ankle, with a large loose piece dependent on one side, ready to be
thrown over their heads whenever necessary; this is fastened by a large
flat pin, hammered out either from the rough silver or from a dollar.
They are no believers in cleanliness; but daub their bodies with paint
and grease, especially the women. Their only weapons are knives and
bolas, the latter of which they throw with a surprising accuracy of aim.
That they possess even the rudest form of religious belief, or perform
any religious ceremonies, has never yet been ascertained. Their food
consists chiefly of the flesh of mares, and troops of these animals
accompany them always on their excursions. They also eat ostrich flesh,
as an exceptional _bonne bouche_, and birds' eggs, and fish, which the
women catch.

Low as they are in the scale of humanity, from the standpoint of Western
civilization, the Fuegians, or Canoe Indians, as they are generally
called, because they live so much on the water, and have no fixed abodes
on shore, sink much lower. They are cannibals, and, according to an old
writer, "magpies in chatter, baboons in countenance, and imps in
treachery." Whenever it is seen that a ship is in distress, or that a
shipwrecked crew have been cast ashore, signal fires blaze on every
prominent point, to convey the good news to the whole island population,
and immediately the natives assemble, like the clans at Roderick Dhu's
bidding, in Scott's "Lady of the Lake." But if all goes well, a vessel
may pass through Magellan's Straits without discerning any sign of human
life, the savages and their canoes lying hidden beneath the leafy screen
of overhanging boughs. Those who frequent the Eastern part of "Fireland"
(Tierra del Fuego) are clothed, in so far as they cover their nakedness
at all, in a deerskin mantle descending to the waist; those at the
Western end wear cloaks made from the skin of the sea otter. But most of
them are quite naked. Their food is of the scantiest description,
consisting almost wholly of shell-fish, sea-eggs, and fish generally,
which they train their dogs to assist them in catching. These dogs are
sent into the water at the mouth of a narrow creek or a small bay, where
they bark and flounder about until the fish are frightened into the
shallows.

Lady Brassey had an opportunity of seeing some Fuegians closely. When
the _Sunbeam_ was in English Reach, a canoe suddenly appeared on her
port bow, and as she seemed making direct for the yacht, Sir Thomas
ordered the engines to be slowed. Thereupon her occupants plied their
paddles more furiously than before, shouting and gesticulating
violently, one man waving a skin round his head with an energy of action
that threatened to capsize his frail craft--frail, in truth, for it was
made only of rough planks rudely fastened together with the sinews of
animals. A rope was thrown to them, and they came alongside, shouting
"Tabáco, galléta" (biscuit), a supply of which they received, in
exchange for the skin they had been waving; "whereupon the two men
stripped themselves of the skin mantles they were wearing, made of eight
or ten sea-otter skins, sewed together with finer sinews than those used
for the boat, and handed them up, clamouring for more tobacco, which we
gave them, together with some beads and knives." Finally, the woman,
influenced by so fair an example, parted with her sole garment, in
return for a little more tobacco, some beads, and some looking-glasses,
which were thrown into the canoe.

"The party consisted of a man, a woman, and a lad; and, I think," says
Lady Brassey, "I never saw delight more strongly depicted than it was on
the faces of the two latter, when they handled, for the first time in
their lives probably, some strings of blue, red, and green glass beads.
They had two rough pots, made of bark, in the boat, which they also
sold, after which they reluctantly departed, quite naked but very happy,
shouting and jabbering away in the most inarticulate language
imaginable. It was with great difficulty we could make them let go the
rope, when we went ahead, and I was quite afraid they would be upset.
They were all fat and healthy-looking, and, though not handsome, their
appearance was by no means repulsive; the countenance of the woman,
especially, wore quite a pleasing expression, when lighted up with
smiles at the sight of the beads and looking-glasses. The bottom of
their canoe was covered with branches, amongst which the ashes of a
recent fire were distinguishable. Their paddles were of the very
roughest description, consisting simply of split branches of trees, with
wider pieces tied on at one end with the sinews of birds or beasts."[31]

       *       *       *       *       *

A fine contrast to these gloomy scenes is presented by Lady Brassey's
description of a coral island, one of those almost innumerable gems
which stud the broad bosom of the Pacific, like emeralds embossed on a
shield of azure and silver. It was the first land she touched in the
great South Sea. A reef of glowing coral enclosed a tranquil lagoon, to
which the green shores of the island gently sloped. The beauty of this
lagoon would need a Ruskin's pen to reproduce it in all its exquisite
and manifold colouring. Submarine coral forests, of every hue, enriched
with sea-flowers, anemones, and echinidæ, of unimaginable brilliancy;
shoals of the brightest fish flashing in and out like rainbow gleams;
shells of gorgeous lustre, moving slowly along with their living
inmates; fairy foliage of fantastic sea-weeds stirred into tremulous
motion by the gliding wave; upon these the enchanted gaze dwelt in the
depths of the lagoon, while the surface glowed with every possible and
exquisite tint, from the palest aqua marina to the brightest emerald;
from the pure light blue of the turquoise to the "deeply, darkly,
beautifully blue" of the sapphire; while here and there the glassy wave
was broken up by patches of red, brown, and green coral rising from the
mass below. A rich growth of tropical vegetation encumbered the shore,
stretching down to the very border of the ribbed sands; palms and
cocoa-nuts lifted high their slender, shapely trunks; while in and out
flitted the picturesque figures of native women in red, blue, and green
garments, and of men in motley costumes, loaded with fish, fowls, and
bunches of cocoa-nuts.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 2nd of December the _Sunbeam_ arrived at the "Queen of the
Pacific," the lovely island of Tahiti, or, as it was first called,
Otaheite. Here Lady Brassey found herself in the midst of a fairy-like
drama, to describe which is almost impossible, so bewildering was it in
the brightness and variety of its colouring. "The magnolias and yellow
and scarlet hibiscus, overshadowing the water, the velvety turf, on to
which one steps from the boat, the white road running between rows of
wooden houses, whose little gardens are a mass of flowers, the men and
women clad in the gayest robes and decked with flowers, the piles of
unfamiliar fruit lying on the grass, waiting to be transported to the
coasting vessels in the harbour, the wide-spreading background of hills
clad in verdure to their summits--these are but a few of the objects
which greet the new comer on his first contact with the shore."

The impression produced by the first view was deepened by all that Lady
Brassey saw afterwards. On sea and shore, or in the heart of the island
groves, all was new, beautiful, striking. There was a strange light in
the firmament above, a glow in the wave beneath, such as she had not
seen elsewhere; for it was with open hands that Nature poured out her
dower upon Tahiti.

She went for a ride; the path carried her through a thick growth of
palm, orange, guava, and other tropical trees, some of which were
thickly draped with luxuriant creepers. Conspicuous among the latter
shone a gorgeous passion flower, with orange-coloured fruit as big as
pumpkins, that overspread everything with its vigour. The path was
everywhere narrow and sometimes steep; and frequently the horseman had
almost to creep under the close thick crop of interlacing boughs.
Crossing several bright little streams, it climbed to the summit of an
eminence which commanded on the one side a prospect of a picturesque
waterfall, on the other side of a deep ravine. A river issuing from a
narrow cleft in the rock takes but one mad leap from the edge of the
precipice into the valley below, a leap of 600 feet. "First one sees the
rush of blue water, gradually changing in its descent to a cloud of
white spray, which in its turn is lost in a rainbow of mist. Imagine
that from beneath the shade of feathery palms and broad-leaved bananas
through a network of ferns and creepers you are looking upon the
Staubbach, in Switzerland, magnified in height, and with a background of
verdure-clad mountains, and you will have some idea of the fall of
Fuatawah."[32]

With no spot that she touched at in her long ocean wanderings does Lady
Brassey seem to have been so delighted as with Tahiti. "Sometimes," she
says, "I think that all I have seen must be only a long vision, and that
too soon I shall awaken to the cold reality; the flowers, the fruit, the
colours worn by every one, the whole scene and its surroundings, seem
almost too fairy-like to have an actual existence." Human nature is, of
course, the same everywhere: vice and sorrow prevail at Tahiti as in the
reeking slums and lanes of great cities. It is only of the outward
aspect of things that Lady Brassey speaks, for she saw none other, and
assuredly at Tahiti that is fair exceedingly, and well calculated to
charm a cultivated taste, to fill a refined mind with memories of
beauty.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Tahiti we pass on to Hawaii, the chief island of the Sandwich
group, and the centre of a civilization that may one day influence the
direction of the great currents of commerce in the Pacific. The
_Sunbeam_ arrived there on the 22nd of December.

"It was a clear afternoon. The mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa,
could be plainly seen from top to bottom, their giant crests rising
nearly 14,000 feet above our heads, their tree and fine clad slopes
seamed with deep gulches or ravines, down each of which a fertilizing
river ran into the sea. Inside the reef the white coral shore, on which
the waves seemed too lazy to break, is fringed with a belt of cocoa-nut
palms, amongst which, as well as on the hillside, the little white
houses are prettily dotted. All are surrounded by gardens, so full of
flowers that the bright patches of colour were plainly visible even from
the deck of the yacht.

"Having landed, we went for a stroll, among neat houses and pretty
gardens, to the suspension-bridge over the river, followed by a crowd of
girls, all decorated with wreaths and garlands, and wearing almost the
same dress that we had seen at Tahiti--a coloured, long-sleeved, loose
gown reaching to the feet. The natives here appear to affect duller
colours than those we have lately been accustomed to--lilac, drab,
brown, and other dark prints being the favourite tints. Whenever I
stopped to look at a view, one of the girls would come behind me and
throw a _lei_ of flowers over my head, fasten it round my neck, and then
run away laughing, to a distance, to judge of effect. The consequence
was that, before the end of our walk, I had about a dozen wreaths of
various colours and lengths, hanging round me, till I felt almost as if
I had a fur tippet on, they made me so hot; and yet I did not like to
take them off, for fear of hurting the poor girls' feelings."

[Illustration: A GIRL OF TAHITI.]

Wherever she went Lady Brassey seems to have commanded special
attention; partly no doubt due to her own personal qualities, and partly
to the fact that English ladies are rare visitors in the Polynesian
islands--and especially an English lady, the wife of a member of
parliament, who sails round the world in her husband's yacht!

Lady Brassey made, of course, an excursion to the great volcano of
Kilauea, of which Miss Bird has furnished a singularly fine description.
Lady Brassey's sketch is not so elaborate or powerful or fully coloured,
but it has a charm of its own in its unassuming simplicity. Let us go
with her on a visit to the two craters, the old and the new.

And, first of all, we descend the precipice, 300 feet in depth, which
forms the wall of the original crater, but now blooming with a prodigal
vegetation. In many places the incline is so steep that zigzag flights
of wooden steps have been inserted here and there in the face of the
cliff in order to facilitate the descent. At the bottom we step on to a
surface of cold boiled lava, and even here, in every chink where a
little soil has collected, Nature asserts her robust vitality, and
delicate little ferns put forth their green fronds to feel the light. An
extraordinary appearance did that vast lava field present, contorted as
it was into every imaginable shape and form, according to the
temperature it had attained and the rapidity with which it had cooled.
Here and there a patch looked not unlike the contents of a caldron,
which had been petrified in the very act of boiling; elsewhere the
iridescent lava had congealed into wave-like ridges, or huge coils of
rope, closely twisted together. Again it might be seen in the semblance
of a collection of organ-pipes, or accumulated into mounds and cones of
various dimensions. As our travellers moved forward, they felt that the
lava grew hotter and hotter, and from every fissure issued gaseous
fumes, which seriously affected their noses and throats; till, at last,
when passed to leeward of the lava-river rolling from the lake, they
were almost suffocated by the vapour, and it was with difficulty they
pursued their advance. The lava was more glassy and had a look of
greater transparency, as if it had been fused at an exceptionally high
temperature; and the crystals of alum, sulphur, and other minerals with
which it abounded, reflected the light in bright prismatic colours. In
some places the transparency was complete, and beneath it might easily
be seen the long streaks of that fibrous kind of lava, connected with a
superstition of the natives, which is known as "Pile's hair."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lady Brassey and her companions reached, at last, the foot of the
present active crater, whence the molten contents of the terrestrial
interior are continually pouring forth in a lurid flood. With some
difficulty they gained the summit--to stand, silent and spell-bound, in
contemplation of a spectacle which more than realizes the terrors of the
ancient Phlegethon. The precipice overhung a basin of molten fire,
measuring nearly a mile across. With a clang, a clash, and a roar, like
that of breakers on a rocky coast, waves of blood-red, fiery, liquid
lava dashed against the opposing cliffs, and flung their spume high up
in the air--waves which were never still, but rolled onwards incessantly
to the charge, and as incessantly retired--hustling one another angrily,
and hissing and boiling and bubbling, like a sea chafed by adverse wind
and current. A dull dark red, like that of the lees of wine, seems the
normal colour of the surging lava, which was covered, however, with a
thin grey scum--this scum, or froth, being every moment and everywhere
broken by eddies and jets and whirlpools of red and yellow fire, and
occasionally thrown back on either side by the force and rush of swift
golden-tinted rivers. On one side of the lake the principal object of
attack was an island, dark and craggy, against which the lava-waves
rolled with impetuous fury. On the other, they swept precipitately into
a great cavern, carrying away the gigantic stalactites which hung at its
entrance, and filling it with a thunderous roar like that of contending
armies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Scenes there are many in this wide world of ours which neither the craft
of the scribe nor the skill of the painter can hope to reproduce, and
this is one of them. It is awful in its grandeur, terrible in its
sublimity, like Milton's Satan. It fascinates, and yet repels; charms
the eye, while it chills the heart. One trembles with the sense of a
dire terrific power, which at any moment may leap into the clay, and
sweep the shattered island into destruction. But dreadful as it is by
day, a deeper dread attaches to it by night, when the glare of those
leaping fountains and rolling billows of molten lava is reflected
athwart the darkness of heaven. And as the night advances and the
darkness increases, a wonderful phantasmagoria of colour invests the
fiery lake--jet black merges suddenly into palest grey; the deepest
maroon changes, through cherry and scarlet, into the exquisitest hues of
pink and blue and violet; the richest brown pales, through orange and
yellow, into a delicate straw. Lady Brassey adds that there was yet
another shade, which can be described only by the term "molten lava
colour." The wreaths and wheeling clouds of smoke and vapour were by all
these borrowed lights and tints translated into beautiful gleaming
mist-like creations--belonging neither to earth nor air, but born of the
molten flame and seething fire--which seemed splendidly and
appropriately displayed against the amphitheatre of black peaks,
pinnacles, and crags rising in the background. Of these great pieces
would sometimes break off, and with a crash fall into the burning lake,
there to be remelted and in due time thrown up anew.[33]

The time spent at Honolulu by Lady Brassey was by no means wasted. She
kept both eyes and ears well open, and suffered nothing to escape her
which could throw any light on the manners and customs of the Hawaiian
population. Though not a deep, she was a close and an accurate
observer; and her book may advantageously be consulted by others than
the "general reader."

The Hawaiians, as a people with a good deal of leisure, upon whose
shoulders as yet civilization has laid none of its heavier burdens, are
naturally prone to amusement, and cultivate their numerous national
sports with a good deal of energy and skill. Foremost amongst these is
the well-known pastime of surf-swimming--a pastime the origin of which
it is not difficult to understand. It is one in which both men and women
join. Armed with a surf-board--a flat piece of wood, about four feet
long by two feet wide, pointed at each end--which they put edge-wise in
front of them, they swim out into the broad and beautiful bay, and dive
under the surf-crested billows of the Pacific. When at a certain
distance from the land, a distance regulated by the swimmer's measure of
strength and address, he chooses a large wave, and either astride, or
kneeling, or standing upon his board, allows himself to be swept in
shore upon its curling crest with headlong speed. The spectator might
almost fancy him to be mounted upon the sea-horse of ancient myths, and
holding its grey curling mane, as it snorts and champs and plunges
shoreward, wrapped in spray and foam. To this vigorous sport the
Hawaiians are exceedingly partial. They are almost to the manner born,
for from their earliest childhood they live an amphibious life, and
never seem happier than when they are diving, swimming, bathing, or
playing tricks in the bright emerald waters that wash the smiling shores
of their favoured isle, or in those of the pleasant river that flows by
the groves and gardens of Hilo.

On a sunny afternoon half the population of the latter town may be seen
"disporting themselves in, upon, and beneath the water." Climbing the
steep and rugged rocks that form the opposite bank, they take headers
and footers and siders from any elevation under five-and-twenty feet,
diving and swimming in every imaginable attitude, and with a kind of
easy and spontaneous grace that commands admiration. One of their great
feats is thus described: A couple of natives undertake to jump from a
precipice, one hundred feet high, into the river below, clearing in
their descent a rock, which at about a distance of twenty feet from the
summit, projects as far from the face of the cliff. The two men--lithe,
tall, and strong--are seen standing on the green height, their long hair
confined by a wreath of leaves and flowers, while a similar wreath is
twisted round the waist. With a keen, quick glance they measure the
distance, and fall back some yards, in order to run and acquire the
needful impetus. Suddenly one of them reappears, takes a flying leap
from the rock, executes a somersault in mid-air, and feet foremost
plunges into the pool beneath, to rise again almost immediately, and
climb the steep river-bank with an air of serene indifference. His
companion having performed the same exploit, the two clambered up to the
projection of which we have spoken, and again dropped into the river
waters; a less wonderful feat than their former, but still one requiring
both pluck and skill.

Among the games mentioned by Lady Brassey are spear-throwing,
transfixing an object with a dart, _kona_, an elaborate kind of
draughts, and _talu_, which consists in hiding a small stone under one
of five pieces of cloth placed in front of the players. One hides the
stone, and his companions have to guess where it is hidden; and it
generally happens that, however skilfully the hider may glide his arm
under the cloth and shift from one piece to another, a clever player
detects where he lets go the stone by the movement of the muscles of the
upper part of his arm. Another game, _tarua_, resembles the Canadian
sport of "tobogonning," only it is carried on upon the grass instead of
upon the frozen surface of the snow. The performers stand erect on a
narrow plank, turned up in front, which they guide with a kind of
paddle. Starting from the summit of a hill or a mountain, they sweep
down the grassy slopes at a furious pace, preserving their balance with
admirable dexterity. For the game of _pahé_, which is also very popular,
a specially prepared smooth floor is necessary, and along this the
javelins of the players glide like snakes. On the same kind of floor
they play _maita_, or _uru maita_. Two sticks are fixed in the ground,
only a few inches apart, and from a distance of thirty or forty yards
the player seeks to throw a stone--the _uru_--between them; the _uru_
being circular in shape, three or four inches in diameter, and an inch
in thickness, except at the middle, where it is thicker.[34]

We pass on to Japan, and accompany Lady Brassey to a Japanese dinner in
a Japanese tea-house. The dinner took place in an apartment which, as an
exact type of a room in any Japanese house, may fitly be described. The
roof and the screens, which form the sides, are all made of a handsome
dark-polished wood resembling walnut. The exterior walls under the
verandah, as well as the partitions between the other rooms, are simply
screens of wooden lattice-work, covered with white paper, and sliding in
grooves; so that a person walks in or out at any part of the wall he
thinks proper to select or finds convenient. This arrangement
necessarily dispenses with doors and windows. If you wish to look out,
you open a little bit of your wall, or a larger bit if you step out.
Instead of carpets, the floor is strewn with several thicknesses of very
fine mats, each about six feet long by three feet broad, "deliciously
soft to walk upon." All Japanese mats are of the same size, and they
constitute the standard by which everything connected with
house-building or house-furnishing is measured. Once you have prepared
your foundations and woodwork of the dimensions of so many mats, you may
go to a shop and buy a ready-made house, which you can then set up and
furnish in the light Japanese fashion in a couple of days; but then such
a house is fitted only for a Japanese climate.

In the room into which Lady Brassey was introduced was raised, on one
side, a slight daïs, about four inches from the floor, as a seat of
honour. A stool, a little bronze ornament, and a China vase, in which a
branch of cherry-blossom and a few flag-leaves were gracefully arranged,
occupied it. On the wall behind hung pictures, which are changed every
month, according to the season of the year. Four comely Japanese girls
brought thick cotton quilts for the visitors to sit upon, and braziers
full of burning charcoal that they might warm themselves. In the centre
they placed another brazier, protected by a square wooden grating, with
a large silk eider-down quilt laid over it, to keep in the heat. "This
is the way in which all the rooms, even bedrooms, are warmed in Japan,
and the result is that fires are of very frequent occurrence. The
brazier is kicked over by some restless or careless person, and in a
moment the whole place is in a blaze."

In due time brazier and quilt are removed, and dinner makes its
appearance. Before each guest is placed a small lacquer table, about six
inches high, with a pair of chopsticks, a basin of soup, a bowl of rice,
a saki cup, and a basin of hot water; while in the middle sat the four
Japanese Hebes, with fires to keep the saki hot, and light the long
pipes they carried, from which they wished their visitors to take a
whiff after each dish. Saki is a kind of spirit, distilled from rice,
always drunk hot out of small cups. It is not unpleasant in this state,
but when cold few European palates can relish it.

The Japanese cookery was very good, though some of the dishes were
compounded of ingredients not generally mixed together by the cooks of
the West. Here is the bill of fare:--

    Soup.
    Shrimps and Seaweeds.
    Prawns, Egg Omelette, and Preserved Grapes.
    Fried Fish, Spinach, Young Rushes, and Young Ginger.
    Raw Fish, Mustard and Cress, Horseradish, and Soy.
    Thick Soup--of Eggs, Fish, Mushrooms, and Spinach; Grilled
    Fish.
    Fried Chicken and Bamboo Shoots.
    Turnip Tops and Root Pickled.
    Rice _ad libitum_ in a large bowl.
    Hot Saki, Pipes, and Tea.

The last dish presented was an enormous lacquer box of rice, from which
all the bowls were filled--the rice being thence carried to the mouth of
each guest by means of chopsticks, in the use of which it is only
practice that makes perfect.

Between each course a long interval occurred, which was filled up with
songs, music, and dancing, performed by professional singing and dancing
girls. The music was somewhat harsh and monotonous; but a word of praise
may be given to the songs and to the dancing, or rather posturing, for
there was little of that agility of foot practised by European dancers.
"The girls, who were pretty, wore peculiar dresses to indicate their
calling, and seemed of an entirely different stamp from the quiet,
simply-dressed waitresses whom we found so attentive to our wants; still
they all looked cheery, light-hearted, simple creatures, and appeared to
enjoy immensely the little childish games they played amongst
themselves between whiles."[35]

This "Voyage Round the World," from which we must now turn aside, does
not sum up Lady Brassey's achievements as a traveller. She accompanied
her husband, in 1874, on a cruise to the Arctic Circle, but has
published no record of this enterprise. On their return, the
indefatigable couple started on a voyage to the East, visiting
Constantinople, the city of gilded palaces and mosques, of harems and
romance; and skimming the sunny waters of the Bosphorus and the Golden
Horn. In 1878 they made a second excursion to the Mediterranean,
revisiting Constantinople, and seeing it in storm and shadow as they had
previously seen it in sunshine; and exploring Cyprus, which then had
been but recently brought under British dominion. Lady Brassey's
narrative of her Mediterranean cruises and Oriental experiences has the
distinctive merits of her former work--the same unpretending simplicity
and clearness of style, the same quick appreciation of things that float
upon the surface; but it necessarily lacks its interest and special
value. It goes over familiar--nay, over hackneyed--ground, and thus
inevitably comes into comparison with the works of preceding travellers,
such as Miss Martineau and the author of "Eöthen," to whose high
standard Lady Brassey would be the first to acknowledge that she has no
pretensions to attain.

There is a certain amount of freshness in the following brief sketch of
Athens[36]:--

"We drove first to the Temple of Theseus, the most perfectly preserved
temple of the ancient world. The situation has sheltered it from shot
and shell; but, without doubt, it owes its escape from destruction in
part to the circumstance that in the Middle Ages it was consecrated as a
church. It is a beautiful building, with its double row of columns,
bas-reliefs, and roof all perfect, and now contains an interesting
collection of antiquities, gathered from its immediate neighbourhood.
Thence we drove up the hill to the Acropolis, passing on our way the
modern observatory on the Hill of the Nymphs. The Hill of Pnyx rose on
our right, and the Areopagus, where St. Paul preached, on our left. We
entered the gates, and, passing among ruins of all kinds--statues,
bas-reliefs, columns, capitals, and friezes--soon approached the
propylæa. Then we went to the little Temple of Victory, closed with iron
gates, and full of most exquisite bits of statues and bas-reliefs,
specially two dancing girls, graceful in attitude and full of life and
action. After these preliminary peeps at loveliness and art, we went up
the long flight of steps, past the Pinartheca, and soon stood on the top
of the Hill of the Acropolis, and in full view of all its glories.

"On one side was the splendid Parthenon, on the other the Erechtheum,
with the Porch of Caryatides, called Beautiful, and right well it
deserves its name. Six noble columns are still standing. We strolled
about for a long time, took some photographs, admired the lovely
panoramic view from the top--over the town of Athens to Eleusis,
Salamis, and Corinth on one side, and from Mount Pentelicus and Mount
Hymettus to the Elysian Fields, till our eyes wandered round by the
ancient harbours of Phalisum and Piræus; back again by the Street of
Tombs to Athens, looking more dusty and more grey than ever as we gazed
down on its grey-tiled roofs. Even the gardens and palm-trees hardly
relieved it. It was nearly three o'clock before we could tear ourselves
away."

This is very natural and simple, though it is hardly what we should
expect from a cultivated woman after visiting the memorials of Greek art
and history, and the great and beautiful city of the "violet moon." A
greater enthusiasm, a more living sympathy, might surely have been
provoked by the sight of the blue sea where Themistocles repulsed the
navies of Persia, and the glorious hill on whose crest St. Paul spake to
the wondering Athenians, and the monuments of the genius of Praxiteles
and Phidias. Lady Brassey, however, is not at her best when treating of
the places and things which antiquity has hallowed: it is the aspects of
the life of to-day and the picturesque scenes of savage lands that
arrest her attention most firmly, and are reproduced by her most
vividly. She is more at home in the Hawaiian market than among the
ruined temples of Athens.

The reader may not be displeased to take a glance at Nikosia, the chief
town of Cyprus--of that famous island which calls up such stirring
memories of the old chivalrous days when Richard I. and his Crusaders
landed here, and the lion-hearted king became enamoured of Berengaria,
the daughter of the Cypriot prince.

"The town is disappointing inside," she says, "although there are some
fine buildings still left. The old cathedral of St. Sophia, now used as
a mosque, is superb in the richness of its design and tracery, and the
purity of its Gothic architecture. Opposite the cathedral is the Church
of St. Nicholas, now used as a granary. The three Gothic portals are
among the finest I have ever seen. Every house in Nikosia possesses a
luxuriant garden, and the bazaars are festooned with vines; but the
whole place wears, notwithstanding, an air of desolation, ruin, and
dirt. Government House is one of the last of the old Turkish residences.

"From the Turkish prison we passed through a narrow dirty street, with
ruined houses and wasted gardens on either side, out into the open
country again, when a sharp canter over the plain and through a small
village brought us to the place where the new Government House is in
course of erection. This spot is called Snake Hill, from two snakes
having once been discovered and killed here, a fact which shows how idle
are the rumours of the prevalence of poisonous reptiles in the island.
It is a rare thing to meet with them, and I have seen one or two
collectors who had abandoned in despair the idea of doing so. The site
selected for Government House is a commanding one, looking over river,
plain, town, mountain, and what were once forests....

"Leaving the walls of the city behind, we crossed a sandy, stony plain.
For about two hours we saw no signs of fertility; but we then began to
pass through vineyards, cotton-fields, and pomegranates, olive and
orange tree plantations, till we reached the house of a rich Armenian,
whose brother is one of the interpreters at the camp. His wife and
daughters came out to receive us, and conducted us along a passage full
of girls picking cotton, and through two floors stored with sesame,
grain of various kinds, cotton, melons, gourds, &c., to a suite of
spacious rooms on the upper floor, opening into one another, with
windows looking over a valley. Oh! the delight of reposing on a Turkish
divan, in a cut stone-built house, after that long ride in the burning
heat! Truly, the sun of Cyprus is as a raging lion, even in this month
of November. What, then, must it be in the height of summer! The
officers all agree in saying that they have never felt anything like it,
even in the hottest parts of India or the tropics....

"After that we mounted fresh mules, and rode up the valley, by the
running water, to the point where it gushes from the hill, or rather
mountain, side--a clear stream of considerable power. It rises suddenly
from the limestone rock at the foot of Pentadactylon, nearly 3,000 feet
high, in the northern range of mountains. No one knows whence it
springs; but from the earliest times it has been celebrated, and some
writers have asserted that it comes all the way, under the sea, from the
mountains of Keramania, in Asia Minor. The effect produced is magical,
trees and crops of all kinds flourishing luxuriantly under its
fertilizing influence. The village of Kythræa itself nestles in
fruit-trees and flowering shrubs, and every wall is covered with
maiden-hair fern, the fronds of which are frequently four and five feet
long. The current of the stream is used to turn many mills, some of the
most primitive character, but all doing their work well, though the
strong water-power is capable of much fuller development....

"It was nearly dark when we started to return; and it was with many a
stumble, but never a tumble, that we galloped across the stony plain,
and reached the camp about seven p.m. Here we found a silk merchant from
Nikosia waiting to see us, with a collection of the soft silks of the
country, celebrated since the days of Boccaccio. They look rather like
poplin, but are really made entirely of silk, three-quarters of a yard
in width, and costing about three shillings a yard, the piece being
actually reckoned in piastres for price and pies for measurement. The
prettiest, I think, are those which are undyed and retain the natural
colour of the cocoon, from creamy-white to the darkest gold. Some prefer
a sort of slaty grey, of which a great quantity is made, but I think it
is very ugly."

In this easy, gossiping manner Lady Brassey ambles on, not telling one
anything that is particularly new, but recording what really met her eye
in the most unpretending fashion. As a writer she scarcely calls for
criticism: she writes with fluency and accuracy, but never warms up into
eloquence, and her reflections are not less commonplace than her style.
As a traveller she deserves the distinction and popularity she has
attained. It would seem that in her various cruises she has accomplished
some 12,000 miles--in itself no inconsiderable feat for an English lady;
but the feat becomes all the more noteworthy when we find that, instead
of being, as we would naturally suppose, "at home on the sea," and
wholly untouched by the suffering it inflicts on so many, she has always
been a victim. Entering the harbour of Valetta on her homeward voyage,
she writes:--"I think that at last the battle of eighteen years is
accomplished, and that the bad weather we have so continually
experienced since we left Constantinople, comprising five gales in
eleven days, has ended by making me a good sailor. For the last two days
I have really known what it is to feel absolutely well at sea, even when
it is very rough, and have been able to eat my meals in comfort, and
even to read and write, without feeling that my head belonged to
somebody else."[37]

FOOTNOTES:

[28] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 46, 47.

[29] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," p. 90.

[30] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 110, 122.

[31] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 129, 130.

[32] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 227, 228.

[33] Lady Brassey: "Voyage of the _Sunbeam_," pp. 256-262.

[34] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 268-272.

[35] Lady Brassey: "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," pp. 309-312. With this
Japanese bill of fare we may contrast a Chinese bill of fare which Lady
Brassey preserves:--

_Four courses of small bowls_, one to each guest, viz.--Bird's-nest
Soup, Pigeon's Eggs, Ice Fungus (said to grow on ice), Shark's Fins
(chopped).

_Eight large bowls_, viz.--Stewed Shark's Fins, Fine Shell Fish,
Mandarin Bird's Nest, Canton Fish Maw, Fish Brain, Meat Balls with Rock
Fungus, Pigeons stewed with Wai Shau (a strengthening herb), Stewed
Mushroom.

_Four dishes_, viz.--Sliced Ham, Roast Mutton, Fowls, Roast Sucking Pig.

_One large dish_, viz.--Boiled Rock Fish.

_Eight small bowls_, viz.--Stewed Pig's Palate, Minced Quails, Stewed
Fungus, Sinews of the Whale Fish, Rolled Roast Fowl, Sliced Seals,
Stewed Duck's Paws, Peas Stewed.

[36] Lady Brassey: "Sunshine and Storm in the East," pp. 41-44.

[37] Lady Brassey: "Sunshine and Storm in the East," p. 431.



LADY MORGAN AND OTHERS.


Among literary travellers a place must be assigned to Lady Morgan (born
1777), the novelist, who in her books of travel exhibits most of the
qualities which lend a characteristic zest to her fictions. She and her
husband, Sir Charles Morgan, visited France in 1815, and compounded a
book upon it, which, as France had been for so many years shut against
English tourists, produced a considerable sensation, and was eagerly
read. Its sketches are very bright and amusing, and its _naïve_ egotism
was pardonable, considering the flatteries which Parisian society had
heaped upon its author. Its liberal opinions, which the Conservatives of
to-day would pronounce milk-and-water, fluttered the dove-cotes of
Toryism under the _régime_ of Lord Liverpool, and provoked Wilson
Croker, the "Rigby" of Lord Beaconsfield's "Coningsby," to fall upon it
tooth and nail. Lady Morgan revenged herself by putting her scurrilous
_attaché_ into her next novel, "Florence Macarthy," where he figures as
_Crawley_. In 1819 the book-making couple repaired to Italy, and, of
course, a sojourn in Italy meant a book upon Italy, which Lord Byron
declared to be very faithful. It is said to have produced a greater
impression than even the book upon France; and as a tolerably accurate
representation of the moral and political condition of Italy at the
period of the Bourbon restoration, it has still some value.

In 1830 Lady Morgan's fecund pen compiled a second book upon France,
which, indeed, seemed to exist in order that Lady Morgan might write
upon it. This second book, like its predecessor, is cleverly and smartly
written; it contains many lively descriptions, and some just criticisms
upon men and things. Names appear upon each page, with a personal sketch
or a _mot_, which makes the reader at once of their society. There is a
visit to Béranger, the great French lyrist, in the prison of La Force;
and there are two memorable dinners, one at the Comte de Segur's, with a
record of the conversation, as graphic and amusing as if it were not on
topics half a century old; the other is a dinner at Baron Rothschild's,
dressed by the great Carême, who had erected a column of the most
ingenious confectionery architecture, and inscribed Lady Morgan's name
upon it in spun sugar. Very complimentary, but, unfortunately, sadly
prophetic! It is only upon "spun sugar" that her name was inscribed by
herself or others.

Mrs. Mary Somerville, the illustrious astronomer and physicist, would
not have claimed for herself the distinction of traveller, nor has she
written any complete book of travel; but there are sketches of scenery
in her "Personal Recollections" which make one wish that she had done
so. And, indeed, the fine colouring of the pictures which occur in her
"Physical Geography" show that she had the artist's eye and the artist's
descriptive faculty, both so essential to the full enjoyment of travel.
Much clear and forcible writing, with many vivacious observations, will
be found in the "Sketches and Characteristics of Hindustan," published
by Miss Emma Roberts in 1835. More minute and exact are the details
which Mrs. Postans has collected in reference to the mode of life, the
religion, and the old forms of society and government in one of the
north-western provinces of India, under the title of "Cutch." It
includes a very animated account of a Suttee, that cruel mode of
compulsory self-sacrifice which the British Government has since
prohibited. On this occasion the widow, a remarkably handsome woman,
apparently about thirty, seems really to have been a willing victim, and
behaved with the utmost composure.

"Accompanied by the officiating Brahmin, the widow walked seven times
round the pyre, repeating the usual mantras, or prayers, strewing rice
and cowries on the ground, and sprinkling water from her hand over the
bystanders, who believe this to be efficacious in preventing disease and
in expiating committed sins. She then removed her jewels and presented
them to her relations, saying a few words to each with a calm, soft
smile of encouragement and hope. The Brahmins then presented her with a
lighted torch, bearing which

    'Fresh as a flower just blown,
    And warm with life, her youthful pulses playing,'

she stepped through the fatal door, and sat within the pile. The body of
her husband, wrapped in rich kincob, was then carried seven times round
the pile, and finally laid across her knees. Thorns and grass were piled
over the door, and the European officers present insisted that free
space should be left, as it was hoped the poor victim might yet relent,
and rush from her fiery prison to the protection so freely offered. The
command was readily obeyed; the strength of a child would have sufficed
to burst the frail barrier which confined her, and a breathless pause
succeeded; but the woman's constancy was faithful to the last. Not a
sigh broke the death-like silence of the crowd, until a slight smoke
curling from the summit of the pyre, and then a tongue of flame darting
with bright and lightning-like rapidity into the clear blue sky, told us
that the sacrifice was complete. Fearlessly had this courageous woman
fired the pile, and not a groan had betrayed to us the moment when her
spirit fled. At sight of the flame a fiendish shout of exultation rent
the air, the tom-toms sounded, the people clapped their hands with
delight as the evidence of their murderous work burst on their view;
whilst the English spectators of this sad scene withdrew, bearing deep
compassion in their hearts, to philosophize as best they might on a
custom so fraught with horror, so incompatible with reason, and so
revolting to human sympathy. The pile continued to burn for three hours;
but from its form it is supposed that almost immediate suffocation must
have terminated the sufferings of the unhappy victim."

There is a very charming book, brightly written, and dealing with an
interesting people, which reaches very high in the literature of travel.
We refer to Lady Eastlake's "Residence on the Shores of the Baltic,
described in a series of Letters," in which, with a polished pen and a
quick observation, she sets before us the patriarchal simplicity of life
and honest character of the Esthonians. Travel-books by ladies were rare
at the time that Lady Eastlake (then Miss Rigby) wrote, and the success
of her work was influenced, no doubt, by this rarity; but its reputation
may well rest upon its genuine merit. Only, justice compels us to say
that writing of almost equal merit, sometimes of superior, is now poured
out every year, nay, every month, by adventurers of the "other sex." A
female traveller has ceased to be a _rara avis_; delicately-nurtured
women now climb Mont Blanc or penetrate into the Norwegian forests, or
cross the Pacific, or traverse sandy deserts, or visit remote isles, in
company with their husbands and brothers, or "unprotected." This great
and rapid increase in the number of female travellers is partly due, no
doubt, to the greater facilities of locomotion; but we believe it is
also due to the greater freedom which women of late years have
successfully claimed, and to the consequent development of powers and
faculties, their possession of which was long ignored or denied.



MRS. TROLLOPE.


Frances Milton, so well known in English literature under her married
name of Trollope, was born at Heathfield Parsonage in Hampshire, in
1787. She received, under her father's supervision, a very careful
education, and developed her proclivities for literary composition at an
early age. She was but eighteen when she accepted the hand of Mr. Thomas
A. Trollope, a barrister, and the cares and duties of married life for
some years diverted her energies into a different channel. The true bent
of her talents--a sharp, bold, and somewhat coarse satire--she did not
discover until after her visit to the United States (1829-1831). There
she conceived an antipathy to American manners and customs, which seems
to have awakened her powers of sarcasm, and resulted in her first
publication, "Domestic Life of the Americans." The peculiarities she had
found so obnoxious she sketched with a strong, rough hand; and the truth
of her drawing was proved by the wrathful feelings which it provoked in
the breasts of its victims. Reading it now, we are naturally inclined
to think it a caricature and an exaggeration; but it is only fair to
remember that, since its appearance half a century ago, a great change
has come over the temper of American society. The great fault of Mrs.
Trollope is, that she is always a critic and never a judge. She looks at
everything through the magnifying lens of a microscope. And, again, it
must be admitted that she is often vulgar; whatever the want of
refinement in American society, it is almost paralleled by the want of
refinement in her lively, but coarsely-coloured pages. For the rest, she
is a shrewd observer; has a considerable insight into human nature,
especially on its "seamy side"; and if a hard hitter, generally keeps
her good temper, and does not resent a fair stroke from an antagonist.
As a humorist she takes high rank: there are scenes in her novels, as
well as in her records of travel, which are marked by a real and
vigorous, if somewhat masculine, fun. Perhaps some of her defects are
due to the influences among which she lived--that ultra Toryism of the
Castlereagh school which resented each movement of reform, each impulse
of progress, as a direct revolutionary conspiracy against everything
approved and established by "the wisdom of our ancestors"--that
narrowness of thought and shallowness of feeling which resisted all
change, even when its necessity was most apparent.

That Mrs. Trollope's prejudices sometimes prevail over her sense of
justice is apparent in the ridicule she lavishes upon the rigid
observance of the Sabbath by the American people. She forgot that they
inherited it from the English Puritans. If her evidence may be accepted,
it amounted in her day to a bigotry as implacable as that of the
straitest sect of the Scotch Presbyterians a generation ago. She tells
an anecdote to the following effect:--A New York tailor sold, on a
Sunday, some clothes to a sailor whose ship was on the point of sailing.
The Guild of Tailors immediately made their erring brother the object of
the most determined persecution, and succeeded in ruining him. A lawyer
who had undertaken his defence lost all his clients. The nephew of this
lawyer sought admission to the bar. His certificates were perfectly
regular; but on his presenting himself he was rejected, with the curt
explanation that no man bearing the name of F---- (his uncle's name)
would be admitted. We need hardly add that such fanaticism as this would
not be possible now in the United States.

Mrs. Trollope's animadversions are obsolete on many other subjects. Much
of her indignation was necessarily, and very justly bestowed on the then
flourishing institution of domestic slavery; but that foul blot on her
scutcheon America wiped out in blood, the blood of thousands of her
bravest children. Her criticism upon manners and social customs has
also, to a great extent, lost its power of application. Of its
liveliness and pungency we may give, however, a specimen; her
description of the day's avocations of a Philadelphian lady of the first
class:--

"This lady," she says, "shall be the wife of a senator and a lawyer in
the highest repute and practice. She has a very handsome house, with
white marble steps and door-posts, and a delicate silver knocker and
door-handle; she has very handsome drawing-rooms, very handsomely
furnished (there is a side-board in one of them, but it is very
handsome, and has very handsome decanters and cut-glass water jugs upon
it); she has a very handsome carriage and a very handsome free black
coachman; she is always very handsomely dressed; and, moreover, she is
very handsome herself.

"She rises, and her first hour is spent in the scrupulously nice
arrangement of her dress; she descends to her parlour neat, stiff, and
silent; her breakfast is brought in by her free black footman; she eats
her fried bean and her salt fish, and drinks her coffee in silence,
while her husband reads one newspaper, and puts another under his elbow;
and then, perhaps, she washes the cups and saucers. Her carriage is
ordered at eleven; till that hour she is employed in the pastry-room,
her snow-white apron protecting her mouse-coloured silk. Twenty minutes
before her carriage should appear she retires to her chamber, as she
calls it, shakes, and folds up her still snow-white apron, smooths her
rich dress, and with nice care sets on her elegant bonnet, and all the
handsome _et cætera_; then walks downstairs, just at the moment that her
free black coachman announces to her free black footman that the
carriage waits. She steps into it, and gives the word, "Drive to the
Dorcas Society." Her footman stays at home to clean the knives, but her
coachman can trust his horses while he opens the carriage door, and his
lady not being accustomed to a hand or an arm, gets out very safely
without, though one of her own is occupied by a work basket, and the
other by a large roll of all those indescribable matters which ladies
take as offerings to Dorcas societies. She enters the parlour
appropriated for the meeting, and finds seven other ladies, very like
herself, and takes her place among them; she presents her contribution,
which is accepted with a gentle circular smile, and her parings of
broad-cloth, her ends of ribbon, her gilt paper, and her minikin pins,
are added to the parings of broad-cloth, the ends of ribbon, the gilt
paper, and the minikin pins with which the table is already covered; she
also produces from her basket three ready-made pin-cushions, four
ink-wipers, seven paper matches, and a paste-board watch-case; these are
welcomed with acclamations, and the youngest lady present deposits them
carefully on shelves, amid a prodigious quantity of similar articles.
She then produces her thimble, and asks for work; it is presented to
her, and the eight ladies all stitch together for some hours. Their talk
is of priests and of missions; of the profits of their last sale, of
their hopes from the next; of the doubt whether young Mr. This or young
Mr. That should receive the fruits of it to fit him out for Siberia; of
the very ugly bonnet seen at church on Sabbath morning; of the very
handsome preacher who performed on Sabbath afternoon; and of the very
large collection made on Sabbath evening. This lasts till three, when
the carriage again appears, and the lady and her basket return home; she
mounts to her chamber, carefully sets aside her bonnet and its
appurtenances, puts on her scalloped black silk apron, walks into the
kitchen to see that all is right, then into the parlour, where, having
cast a careful glance over the table prepared for dinner, she sits down,
work in hand, to await her spouse. He comes, shakes hands with her,
spits, and dines. The conversation is not much, and ten minutes suffices
for the dinner: fruit and toddy, the newspaper, and the work-bag
succeed. In the evening the gentleman, being a savant, goes to the
Wister Society, and afterwards plays a snug rubber at a neighbour's. The
lady receives at ten a young missionary and three members of the Dorcas
Society. And so ends her day."

A harmless day, after all! No doubt such days were spent by
Philadelphian ladies exactly as Mrs. Trollope describes them; no doubt
such days are possible in American society now, and, for that matter, in
English society also. But it is not less certain that then and now many
women in Philadelphia spent and spend their time with a wiser activity,
and more to the advantage of themselves and their fellow creatures. The
fault of the satirist is, that he reasons from particulars to generals,
whereas the sagacious observer will reason from generals to particulars.
The manners and customs, the idiosyncrasies of a class will probably be
the manners and customs and idiosyncrasies of most of its members; but
it by no means follows that from two or three individuals we can safely
predict the general characteristics of the class to which they belong.
In a regiment famous for its bravery we may unquestionably conclude that
the majority of the rank and file will be brave men; but a few may be
composed of less heroic stuff. Would it be just to take these as the
types of the regiment?

       *       *       *       *       *

After an unsuccessful attempt to make a home in America, Mrs. Trollope
returned to England, with the world to begin again, a husband
incapacitated for work by ill-health, and children who needed aid, and
were too young to give any. In such circumstances many would have
appealed to the sympathy of the public, but Mrs. Trollope was a
courageous woman, and preferred to rely upon her own resources. She
followed her first book, the success of which was immediate and very
great, by a novel entitled "The Refugee in America," in which the plot
is ill-constructed, and the characters are crudely drawn, but the
writer's caustic humour lends animation to the page. "The Abbess," a
novel, was her third effort; and then, in the following year, came
another record of travel, "Belgium and Western Germany in 1833." Her
Conservative instincts found less to offend them in Continental than in
American society, and her sketches, therefore, while not less vivid, are
much better humoured than in her American book. Some offences against
the "minor morals" incur her condemnation; but the evil which most
provokes her is the incessant tobacco smoking of the Germans, against
which she protests as vehemently as did James I. in his celebrated
"Counterblast."

Three years later she produced her "Paris and the Parisians," of which
M. Cortambret speaks as "crowning her reputation," and as receiving
almost as warm a welcome in France as in England. The character,
customs, and literature of the French furnish the theme of a series of
letters, in which the clever and vivacious writer never fails to charm
even those whom she does not convince. It is curious to read this book,
published in 1836, and to compare the state of society in those days
with that which now exists. What changes, in half a century, have been
wrought in the national character! There seems in the present a certain
dulness, greyness, and indifference,--or is it rather an acquired
reticence and self-control?--which contrast very strikingly with the
feverish, agitated, tumultuous past, so partial to fantastic crotchets,
but so sympathetic also with great doctrines and generous ideas.

Mrs. Trollope records as an historical and noteworthy phrase, much in
vogue in 1835, "Young France," and describes it as one of those
cabalistic formulæ which assume to give expression to a grand, terrible,
sublime, and volcanic idea. What shall we say now-a-days of these two
brief monosyllabic words, in which the strong generation of the
Revolution and the First Empire reposed so haughty a confidence? What
shall we say of them to a disillusionized youth, who no longer believe
in anything, and know neither faith nor culture, except in one thing,
money--for whom Sport and the Bourse have replaced the literature which
strengthened and developed the faculties, and the politics which made
men citizens?

Mrs. Trollope preserves two other words, which first rose into
popularity in 1835--the words _rococo_ and _décousu_. All things which
bore the stamp of the principles and sentiments of former generations
were branded as _rococo_. Whatever partook of the extravagance of the
Romantic school was termed _décousu_. Eventually this latter word was
abandoned as wanting in vigour, and at first that of _débraillé_ was
substituted; afterwards that of _Bohemian_, which, despite the injurious
insinuation it conveyed, has been accepted and adopted by a considerable
school. Mrs. Trollope avers that, when she visited France, it was
impossible for two persons to carry on a conversation for a quarter of
an hour without introducing the words _rococo_ and _décousu_ a score of
times. They turned up as frequently as "the head of Charles I." in Mr.
Dick's discourse. And, she adds, with her usual causticity, that if one
were to classify the population into two great divisions, it would be
impossible to define them more expressively than by these two words.

       *       *       *       *       *

That Mrs. Trollope had no sympathy with the Romantic school will not
excite surprise. Lamennais and Victor Hugo she stigmatizes as _décousus_
of the worst kind, and places them in the same rank as Robespierre. The
genius of Victor Hugo, so vast, so elevated, and so profound, she could
not understand; she could see only its irregularities, like a certain
"æsthete" who, when contemplating the water-floods of Niagara, directed
his attention to a supposed defect in their curve! Her methodical,
matter-of-fact mind was wholly unable to measure the proportions of the
gigantic genius of the author of "Nôtre Dame," and hence she discharges
at him a volley of denunciatory epithets, borrowed always from the
severest classic style--"the champion of vice," "the chronicler of sin,"
"the historian of shame and misery." She could not believe that in all
his writings it was possible to discover a single honourable, innocent,
and wholesome thought. Sin was the Muse which he invoked; horror
attended his footsteps; thousands of monsters served as his escort, and
furnished him with the originals of the "disgusting" portraits which he
passed his life in painting. This was plain speaking; but Mrs. Trollope
attacking Victor Hugo is one of those rebellions on the part of the
infinitely little against the infinitely great which move the laughter
of gods and men.

In truth, she is seldom happy in her literary criticisms. She speaks of
Béranger as "a meteor," yet of no French poet has the renown more
steadily increased. She is constrained to admit that the great people's
poet, whose fame will endure when that of most of his contemporaries has
passed into dull oblivion, is a man of a fine genius, but she will not
yield to him that foremost place which posterity, nevertheless, has
adjudged to belong to him. Of Thiers and Mignet she admits the merits
as historians, but characterizes their philosophy as narrow and shabby.

But from literature let us turn to society, in which she is easier to
please. Whether it belongs to the character of the people, or whether it
is but a transitory feature in the physiognomy of the age, she declares
herself unable to determine; but nothing strikes her so forcibly as the
air of gaiety and indifference with which the French discuss those great
subjects that involve the world's destinies. We are inclined to think,
however, that of late years a more serious spirit has prevailed. On the
other hand, we cannot recognize as in existence now that exquisite
courtesy of the French husband towards his wife which moved Mrs.
Trollope's admiration. Unless recent observers err greatly, and unless
the stage has ceased to reflect the tone and manners of society, a great
change for the worst has taken place in this respect, due, perhaps, to
the combined influence of speculation on the Bourse, smoking, and the
coarser code of morals introduced from the North. That elaborate and
delicate gallantry was a kind of _blague_ for the whole nation; it made
every Frenchman a knight of chivalry. No doubt it served as a cloak for
many vices, but we have the vices still, without the cloak! "I should be
surprised," says Mrs. Trollope, "if I heard it said that a Frenchman of
good education had ever spoken rudely to his wife!"

To one of the worst enemies of the old-fashioned courtesy she makes a
passing allusion, while hoping cordially that the ladies will easily
conquer it--we mean _Positivism_. If the women of France, she says,
remain true to their vocation, they will eventually combat with success
the ever-increasing partiality of their compatriots for the _positive_,
and will prevent each _salon_ from becoming, like the boulevard of the
Café Tortoni, a _petite Bourse_. Under the second Empire, however, women
were scarcely less guilty than the men, and the mania of speculation
raged in almost every boudoir. It is too early to decide dogmatically
whether in this all-important branch of morals the Republic has effected
an improvement; but assuredly the improvement, if it has begun, has not
extended very far or very deep.

In 1835 the Parisians sometimes fell to blows in support of a
philosophical principle, and would incur almost any hazard to hear a
favourite orator or to "assist" at the representation of a drama by one
of their own pet authors. Half a century later and they hurry to horse
races, and fight one another for a caprice. In 1835 they committed
suicide through love or sentiment; now they blow out their brains when
their speculations have suddenly collapsed, some bubble burst.

Of the numerous suicides which half a century ago were recorded in the
newspapers, Mrs. Trollope furnishes an example. Two young people,
scarcely out of their childhood, went into a restaurant and ordered a
dinner of extraordinary delicacy and not less extraordinary cost,
returning at the appointed time to partake of it. They finished it with
a good appetite, and with the enjoyment natural to their age. They
called for champagne, and emptied the bottle, holding each other's hand.
Not the slightest shadow of sadness obscured their gaiety, which was
prolonged, almost noisy, and apparently genuine. After dinner came
coffee, a mouthful of brandy, and the bill. One of them with his finger
pointed out the total to the other, and both at the same time broke out
into a fit of laughter. After they had drank the coffee they told the
waiter that they wished to speak to the proprietor, who came
immediately, supposing that they wished to complain of some article as
overcharged.

But instead, the elder of the two began by declaring that the dinner was
excellent, and went on to say that this was the more fortunate because
it would assuredly be the last they should eat in this world; that as
for the bill, he must be good enough to excuse payment, inasmuch as
neither of them possessed a farthing. He explained that they would never
have played him so sorry a joke had it not been that, finding themselves
overwhelmed by the troubles and anxieties of the world, they had
resolved to enjoy a good meal once more, and then to take leave of
existence. The first portion of their project they had satisfactorily
carried out, thanks to the excellence of Monsieur's _cuisine_ and
cellar, and the second would not be long delayed, since the coffee and
the brandy had been mixed with a drug which would help them to pay all
their debts.

The landlord was furious. He did not believe a word of the young man's
oration, and declared he would hand them over to the commissary of
police. Eventually he allowed them to leave on their furnishing him with
their address.

The following day, impelled half by a wish to get his money, and half by
a fear that they might have spoken in earnest, he repaired to the
address they had given him, and learned that the two unfortunate young
men had been found that morning lying on a bed which one of them had
hired some weeks before. They were dead, and their bodies already cold.

On a small table in the room lay several papers covered with writing;
all of them breathed the desire to attain renown without difficulty and
without work, and expressed the utmost contempt for those who consented
to gain their livelihood by the sweat of their brow. There were several
quotations from Victor Hugo, and a request that their names and the
manner of their death might be published in the newspapers.

It is a pity that their yearning for posthumous notoriety was gratified,
inasmuch as the sentimental articles written to order by dexterous pens,
and the verses composed in honour of the two lunatics by Béranger, in
which a romantic halo is thrown over their audacious crime,

    "Et vers le ciel se frayant un chemin,
    Ils sont partis en se donnant la main"...

encouraged, it is to be feared, a suicidal mania.

We have hinted that Mrs. Trollope's strength lay in her faculty of
observation, and her strong, pungent humour. Occasionally, however, she
ventures on a vein of reflection, and not without success. For instance,
her observations upon the elevation of Louis Philippe to the French
throne are marked by a clear, cool judgment.

When she diverts her thoughts, she says, from the dethroned and banished
king to him whom she saw before her, walking without guards and with an
assured step, she could not but recall the vicissitudes he had
experienced, and the conclusion forced itself upon her that this earth
and all its inhabitants were but the toys of children, which change
their name and destination according to the moment's whim. It seemed to
her that all men must be classed in the order which it was good for them
to hold; and that everything would be thrown into the greatest confusion
if they were cast down in order to be raised up again, and thus they
were perpetually hurled from side to side; with all this, so powerless
in themselves, and so completely governed by chance! She felt humbled by
the sight of human weakness, and turned her eyes from the monarch to
meditate on the insignificance of men.

How vain are all the efforts which man is able to make to direct the
course of his own existence! There is nothing, in truth, but confidence
in an exalted Wisdom and an immovable Power which can enable us, from
the greatest to the smallest, to traverse with courage and tranquillity
a world subject to such terrible convulsions.

In the opinion of one French critic, the book upon "Paris and the
Parisians" is one of the most interesting works which has dealt with the
subject of French society. It reflects with wonderful accuracy the
physiognomy of the reign of Louis Philippe; those outbreaks which so
frequently troubled the city; those political discussions which every
evening transformed the _salons_ into so many clubs; the romantic
aspirations of Young France; the turbulence of the people, and the
general want of respect for the monarchy.

Everywhere, moreover, as one of her translators has said, this literary
Amazon marches, armed with a bold and vivid criticism, which gathered
around her eager readers and bitter foes. Do not expect that she will
relate to you (as Lady Morgan does) the tittle-tattle of the boudoirs of
the countries she visits or in which she resides; for from the
particularity and range of her observations it is clear that she made no
flying visit, that her masculine mind penetrated below the surface. When
she arrived in a new land she planted there her flag, and with pen
upraised set forth to attack or energetically praise, according to her
sympathies or her hatreds, the social and political manners exposed to
her searching gaze.

       *       *       *       *       *

France was not the only field of study which she found in Europe. In
1838 she published her "Vienna and the Austrians," in which her old
antipathies and causticities reappeared; and in 1843, a "Visit to
Italy," which was far from being a success. The classic air of Italy
was not favourable to the development of her peculiar powers, and among
the antiquities of Rome the humour which sketched so forcibly the broad
features of American society was necessarily out of place.

Our business in these pages is with Mrs. Trollope the traveller, but of
the industry of Mrs. Trollope the novelist we may reasonably give the
reader an idea. In 1836 she published "The Adventures of Jonathan
Jefferson Whitlaw," in which she renewed her attacks on American
society, and drew a forcible sketch of the condition of the coloured
population of the Southern States. Some of the scenes may fairly be
credited with having suggested to Dickens the tone and sentiment of his
American pictures in "Martin Chuzzlewit." Her best novel, "The Vicar of
Wrexhill"--a highly-coloured portrait of an Anglican Tartuffe, bitter in
its prejudices, but full of talent--appeared in 1837; the "Romance of
Vienna," an attack on caste distinctions, in 1838. To the same year
belongs her "Michael Armstrong," in which her Ishmael hand fell heavily
on the narrow-mindedness of the manufacturing class--anticipating, in
some degree, Dickens's "Hard Times." "One Fault," a satire upon romantic
exaggeration; and the coarse, but clever "Widow Barnaby," a racy history
of the troubles of a vulgar-genteel _bourgeoise_ in search of a second
husband, were published in 1839; and in the following year appeared its
sequel, "The Widow Married," which is quite as coarse as its
predecessor, but not so amusing. With indefatigable pen she produced,
in 1843, three three-volume novels, "Hargreave," "Jessie Phillips," and
"The Laurringtons"--the first a not very successful sketch of a man of
fashion; the second, an unfair and exaggerated delineation of the action
of the new Poor Law; and the third, a forcible and lively satire upon
"superior people," in which some of the passages are in her best style.

In 1844 the industrious satirist, who would have been more generally
successful had she selected the objects of her attacks with greater
discretion, withdrew to Florence, from the host of enemies her "free
hitting" had provoked, burying herself in an almost absolute seclusion.
But her active mind could not long enjoy repose, and in 1851 she resumed
her pen, selecting the Roman Catholic Church for her target in "Father
Eustace." This was followed in 1852 by "Uncle Walter." It is
unnecessary, however, to enumerate the titles of her later works, as
they lacked most of the qualities which secured the popularity of her
earlier, and have already passed into oblivion. It is doubtful, indeed,
whether even her better work is much known to the reading public of the
present day.[38]

This clever and industrious woman died at Florence on the 6th of
October, 1863, in the eighty-fifth year of her age. Her name has been
highly honoured in her two surviving sons, Anthony and Thomas Adolphus
Trollope, both of whom have attained to a place of distinction in
English literature.

FOOTNOTES:

[38] We have omitted from our list "The Blue Belles of England" (1841);
"Tremordyn Cliff" (1838); "Charles Chesterfield" (1841); "The Ward of
Thorpe-Combe" (1842); "Young Love" (1844); "Petticoat Government"
(1852); and "The Life and Adventures of a Clever Woman" (1853). Between
the last-named and "The Vicar of Wrexhill" the gulf is very wide. One
cannot help admiring, however, the indefatigable perseverance and the
astonishing fertility of this accomplished novelist.



HARRIET MARTINEAU.


One of the best books on Eastern life in English literature we owe to
the pen of a remarkable woman, whose reputation, based as it is on many
other works of singular ability, we may take to be of a permanent
character--Miss Harriet Martineau. She was born in 1802. Her father was
a manufacturer in Norwich, where his family, originally of French
origin, had resided since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. To her
uncle, a surgeon in Norwich, she was mainly indebted for her education.
Her home-life was not a happy one, and unquestionably its austere
influences did much to develop in her that colossal egotism and
self-sufficiency which marred her character, and has left its injurious
impress on her writings. She tells us that only twice in her childhood
did she experience any manifestation of tenderness--once when she was
suffering from ear-ache, and her parents were stirred into unwonted
compassion, and once from a kind-hearted lady who witnessed her alarm at
a magic-lantern exhibition.

Much more care was shown in educing her intellectual faculties than in
cultivating her affections. She learned French and music thoroughly, and
attained to such proficiency in the classics that she could not only
write Latin but think in Latin. She took a great delight in reading,
and, of course, read omnivorously, with a special preference for
history, poetry, and politics. Her inquisitive and abnormally active
mind early began its inquiries into the mysteries of religious faith,
but as these were not conducted in a patient or reverent spirit, it is
no wonder, perhaps, that they proved unsatisfactory. She got hold of the
works of Dugald Stewart, Hartley, and Priestley; plunged boldly into the
maze of metaphysics, and grappled unhesitatingly with the mysterious
subjects of fore-knowledge and free-will. But in philosophy as in
religion, her immense egotism led her astray. She accepted nothing for
the existence of which she could not account by causes intelligible to
her own mind. Naturally she became a Necessarian, and adopted
strenuously the dogma of the invariable and inevitable action of fixed
laws. We may be allowed, perhaps, to think of this singular woman as
yearning and aspiring after a lofty ideal throughout a sensitive and
timorous childhood; and in wayward musings and visionary reflections
finding that consolation which should have been, but was not, provided
by maternal love. As she grew older, and grew stronger both in mind and
body, she grew bolder; aspiration gave way to self-satisfied conviction.
Morbid self-reproach was replaced by an extravagant self-consciousness,
and thenceforth she went on her solitary way, acting up always to a high
standard of moral rectitude, but putting aside the faiths and hopes and
judgments of the many as baubles beneath the notice of a mature and
well-balanced intellect.

Her tastes for literary pursuits she has herself ascribed to the extreme
delicacy of her health in childhood; to the infirmity of deafness,
which, while not so complete as to debar her from all social
intercourse, yet compelled her to seek occupations and pleasures not
dependent upon others; and to the affection which subsisted between her
and the brother nearest her own age, the Rev. James Martineau, so well
known for his fine intellectual powers. The death of the father having
involved the family in the discomfort of narrow circumstances, the pen
she had hitherto wielded for amusement she took up with the view of
gaining an independent livelihood; and she conceived the idea of
employing fiction as a vehicle for the exposition and popularization of
the principles of social and political economy. The idea was as new as
it was happy; nor could it have been realized at a more opportune time
than when the English public was beginning to awake from its long
political lethargy, and to assert the rights of the nation against the
dominant class interests. It was desirable that its new-born activity
should be guided by an intelligent apprehension of the cardinal truths
by which reform is differentiated from revolution; and to contribute to
this result became Harriet Martineau's purpose. Accordingly, in 1826,
she wrote, and after conquering the difficulty of finding a publisher,
gave to the world her tale of "The Rioters," the first of a long series
of illustrations of political economy, which had a very considerable
influence, if not quite so great an influence, as she herself supposed.
The series comprises eighteen tales, of which the best, perhaps, are
"Ella of Gareloch," "Life in the Wilds," and "The Hamlets." Their true
merit consists in their having quickened and strengthened the interest
of the reading classes in economic questions. In their day they did an
useful work, but they are already forgotten; and, as Sara Coleridge
predicted, their political economy has proved too heavy a ballast for
vessels that were expected to sail down the stream of time.

In 1834 Miss Martineau "qualified," so to speak, for a place among
female travellers, by visiting the United States. She spent nearly two
years in traversing the territories of the Great Western Republic, and
was everywhere received with an enthusiastic welcome. Returning to
England in 1836, she recorded her impressions of American society, and
her views of American institutions in her "Society in America" and her
"Retrospect of Western Travel." These are discriminative and thoughtful,
while sufficiently cordial in their praise to satisfy even the most
exacting American; and at the time of their appearance these books
unquestionably did much to soothe the irritation which Mrs. Trollope's
hard hitting had provoked. It is but just, however, to commend the
honesty with which she avowed her anti-slavery opinions, which could
not then be enunciated without exciting the anger even of the people of
the North. It brought upon her no small amount of abuse and contumely,
many of those who had previously received her with professed admiration
joining in the clamour raised against her by the slave-holders and their
partisans.

Her literary activity, meanwhile, knew no stint. In 1839 she published
"Deerbrook," her best novel, which the critic will always value as a
vigorous picture of some aspects of English life. The tone is high and
sustained. As for the characters, they are not very strongly
individualized; but, on the other hand, the descriptions are clear and
forcible, while the interest of the plot is deep and wholesome. John
Sterling's criticism of it says:--"It is really very striking, and parts
of it are very true and very beautiful. It is not so true or so
thoroughly clear and harmonious among delineations of English
middle-class gentility as Miss Austen's books, especially as 'Pride and
Prejudice,' which I think exquisite."

While travelling on the Continent, in the spring of 1838, Miss Martineau
was seized with a very serious illness. By slow stages she returned to
England, where she settled down near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to be under
the care of her brother-in-law. She resided there for a period of nearly
six years. Neither suffering of mind or body, however, was allowed to
interfere with her literary work. She gave to the world in 1840 her
second novel, "The Hour and the Man," founded on the romantic career of
Toussaint L'Ouverture; and composed the admirable series of children's
tales, known by the general title of "The Playfellow." These four
volumes, "Settlers at Home," "The Picnic," "Feats on the Fiord," and
"The Crofton Boys," show her at her very best. They are full of bold and
picturesque descriptions, and the story is told with unflagging energy.
Her peculiar position suggested a book that has won a well-deserved
popularity--"Life in the Sick-room" (1844). Its delicate and judicious
reflections, and its pleasing sketches, cannot be read without a touch
of sympathy.

Restored to health in 1845, she removed to Ambleside, among the lakes
and mountains, settling in the immediate neighbourhood of the poet
Wordsworth. In the autumn she published her "Forest and Game Laws"; and
in the following year she made a journey to the East, and ascended the
river Nile, recording her experiences in the book which has led us to
introduce her among our female travellers--"Eastern Life, Past and
Present," a remarkable book, giving a fresh interest to the beaten track
of Eastern travel and research, and breathing vitality into the dry
bones of Champollini, Wilkinson, and Lane. Putting aside its crude
notions of Egyptology, and its wild speculations on religious topics, we
must be prepared to admire its fresh and finely-coloured word pictures,
the glow and power of which are surprising. Miss Martineau went up the
Nile to Philæ; she afterwards crossed the desert to the Red Sea, landed
in Arabia, and ascended Mounts Sinai and Horeb; and, finally, explored
a portion of the shores and islands of the Mediterranean. We must pause
in our rapid narrative to give a specimen or two of the sketches she
made on the way; they will show how a strong and vivid genius can deal
with the incidents of travel, and what a record of it may become in the
hands of a skilful and accomplished artist.

Let us take her description of the Sphinx--the Sphinx that for some
thousands of years has held mute companionship with the Great
Pyramids:--

"The full serene gaze of its round face, rendered ugly by the loss of
the nose, which was a very handsome feature of the old Egyptian
face--this full gaze, and the stony calm of its attitude almost turn one
to stone. So life-like, so huge, so monstrous; it is really a fearful
spectacle. I saw a man sitting in a fold of the neck--as a fly might
settle on a horse's mane. In that crease he reposed, while far over his
head extended the vast pent-house of the jaw; and above that, the
dressed hair on either side the face--each bunch a mass of stone which
might crush a dwelling-house. In its present state its proportions
cannot be obtained; but Sir G. Wilkinson tells us, 'Pliny says it
measured from the belly to the highest part of the head sixty-three
feet; its length was one hundred and forty-three; and the circumference
of its head round the forehead one hundred and two feet; all cut out in
the natural rock, and worked smooth.' Fancy the long well-opened eyes,
in such proportion as this--eyes which have gazed unwinking into
vacancy, while mighty Pharaohs, and Hebrew law-givers, and Persian
princes, and Greek philosophers, and Antony with Cleopatra by his side,
and Christian anchorites, and Arab warriors, and European men of
science, have been brought hither in succession by the unpausing ages to
look up into those eyes--so full of meaning, though so fixed!"[39]

       *       *       *       *       *

At Damascus she visited a Turkish harem, and her account of the visit
the reader will find some interest in comparing with Madame Hommaire de
Hell's narrative of a similar experience.

She and her companions saw the seven wives of three gentlemen, besides a
crowd of attendants and visitors. Of the seven, two had been the wives
of the head of the household, who was dead; three were the wives of his
eldest son, aged twenty-two; and the remaining two were the wives of his
second son, aged fifteen. The youngest son, aged thirteen, was not yet
married; but he would be thinking about it soon. The pair of widows were
elderly women, as merry as girls, and quite at their ease. Of the other
five three were sisters--that is, we conclude, half-sisters; children of
different mothers in the same harem. It is evident, at a glance, what a
tragedy lies under this; what the horrors of jealousy must be among
sisters thus connected for life; three of them between two husbands in
the same house! And we were told that the jealousy had begun, young as
they were, and the third having been married only a week. This young
creature, aged twelve, was the bride of the husband of fifteen. She was
the most conspicuous person in the place, not only for the splendour of
her dress, but because she sat on the diwán, while the others sat or
lounged on cushions on the raised floor. The moment Miss Martineau took
her seat she was struck with compassion for this child, who looked so
grave, sad, and timid, while the others romped and giggled, and indulged
in laughter at their own silly jokes; she smiled not, but looked on
listlessly. Miss Martineau was resolved to make her laugh before she
went away, and at length she did somewhat relax--smiling, and in a
moment growing grave; but after a while she really and truly laughed,
and when the whole harem was shown to the visitors, she slipped her bare
and dyed feet into her pattens, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and joined
them in the courts, nestling to them, and apparently losing the sense of
her new position for a time; but there was less of the gaiety of a child
about her than in the elderly widows. Her dress was superb--a full skirt
and bodice of geranium-coloured brocade, embossed with gold flowers and
leaves; and her frill and ruffles were of geranium-coloured gauze. Her
eyebrows were frightful--joined together and extended by black paint. A
silk net, bedizened with jewels and natural flowers, covered her head,
which thus resembled a bouquet sprinkled with diamonds. Her nails were
dyed black, and her feet dyed black in chequers. Her complexion, called
white, was of an unhealthy yellow; indeed, not a healthy complexion was
to be seen among the whole company. How should it be otherwise among
women secluded from exercise, and pampered with all the luxuries of
Oriental life.

Besides the seven wives, a number of attendants came in to look at the
European visitors, and serve the pipes and sherbet; also a few ladies
from a neighbouring harem; and a party of Jewesses, with whom Miss
Martineau and her friends had some previous acquaintance. Mrs. G., we
are told, was compelled to withdraw her lace veil, and then to remove
her bonnet; the street, she was informed, was the place where the veil
should be worn, and not the interior of the house. Then her bonnet went
round, and was tried on many heads; one merry girl wearing it long
enough to surprise many new comers with the joke. Miss Martineau's
gloves were stretched and pulled in a variety of ways, in their attempts
to thrust their large, broad brown hands into them, one after another.
But it was the ear-trumpet, rendered necessary by her deafness, which
afforded the greatest entertainment. The eldest widow, who sat near her,
asked for it and put it to her ear; whereupon Miss Martineau exclaimed,
"Bo!" When she had done laughing, the lady of the harem placed it to her
next neighbour's ear, and shouted "Bo!" and in this way it returned to
its possessor. But in two minutes it was asked for again, and went round
a second time; everybody laughing as loud as ever at each "Bo!" so that
the joke was repeated a third time.

The next joke was connected with the Jewesses, four or five of whom sat
in a row in the diwán. Almost everybody else was puffing away at a
tchibouque or nargileh, and the place was one cloud of smoke. The poor
Jewesses were obliged to decline joining us, for it happened to be
Saturday, and they must not smoke on their Sabbath. They were naturally
much pitied, and some of the young wives did what was possible for them.
Drawing in a long breath of smoke, they puffed it forth in the faces of
the Jewesses, who opened mouth and nostrils eagerly to receive it. Thus
was the Sabbath observed, to shouts of laughter.

"A pretty little blue-eyed girl of seven was the only child," says Miss
Martineau, "we saw. She nestled against her mother, and the mother
clasped her closely, lest we should carry her off to London. She begged
we would not wish to take her child to London, and said, 'she would not
sell her for much money.' One of the wives was pointed out to us as
particularly happy in the prospect of becoming a mother; and we were
taken to see the room which she was to lie in, which was all in
readiness, though the event was not looked for for more than half a
year. She was in the gayest spirits, and sang and danced. While she was
lounging on her cushions, I thought her the handsomest and most
graceful, as well as the happiest, of the party; but when she rose to
dance, the charm was destroyed for ever. The dancing is utterly
disgusting. A pretty Jewess of twelve years old danced, much in the
same way; but with downcast eyes and an air of modesty. While the
dancing went on, and the smoking and drinking coffee and sherbet, and
the singing, to the accompaniment of a tambourine, some hideous old hags
came in successively, looked and laughed, and went away again. Some
negresses made a good background to this thoroughly Eastern picture. All
the while, romping, kissing, and screaming went on among the ladies, old
and young. At first, I thought them a perfect rabble; but when I
recovered myself a little, I saw that there was some sense in the faces
of the elderly women. In the midst of all this fun, the interpreters
assured us that 'there is much jealousy every day;' jealousy of the
favoured wife; that is, in this case, of the one who was pointed out to
us by her companions as so eminently happy, and with whom they were
romping and kissing, as with the rest. Poor thing! even the happiness of
these her best days is hollow, for she cannot have, at the same time,
peace in the harem and her husband's love."[40]

       *       *       *       *       *

With these specimens we must be content, though we are well aware, as
Hierocles has taught us, that we cannot judge of a house from a single
brick. They fairly illustrate, however, Miss Martineau's style and
manner in her record of Eastern travel--a record which the narratives
of later travellers may have rendered obsolete in some particulars, but
have certainly not superseded.

Her brief career as a traveller terminated with her visit to the East;
but a reference to the incidents of her later life may possibly be
convenient for the reader. In 1849-1850 she published her "History of
England during the Thirty Years' Peace," a thoroughly good bit of
historical work, not less admirable for the general fairness of its tone
than for the lucidity of its narrative. This was followed by her
"Introduction to the History of the Peace, from 1800 to 1815." A careful
English condensation of Comte's "Positive Philosophy" appeared in 1853.
Meanwhile she was a constant contributor to Mr. Charles Dickens's
"Household Words," and to the columns of the "Daily News." In the midst
of all this activity she was suddenly struck down by disease of the
heart, and her doctors announced that she might die at any moment. She
resigned herself to her fate with her usual calm courage, and proceeded
to draw up and print her autobiography. Strange to say, she lived for
twenty years longer; the Damocles' sword suspended over her head forbore
to fall, and as soon as her health was to some extent re-established she
resumed her literary labours. Among her latest works, which present
abundant evidence of the clearness and practical character of her
intellect, we may mention a treatise on "The Factory Controversy," 1853;
a "History of the American Compromise," 1856; a picturesquely-written
historical sketch of "British Rule in India;" also, "England and her
Soldiers;" "Health, Handicraft, and Husbandry;" and "Household
Education."

As years passed by her infirmities increased, but she retained her force
and freshness of intellect almost to the last. It was not until the
beginning of 1876 that her mental condition underwent any serious
change. Even then her strong will seemed to stay and strengthen her
failing mind. She kept her household books and superintended the
household economy to the very end, though suffering under a burden of
pain which weaker natures would have found intolerable. Writing to a
friend six weeks before her death, she exclaims:--"I am _very ill_....
the difficulty and distress to me are the state of the head. I will only
add that the condition grows daily worse, so that I am scarcely able to
converse or read, and the cramp in the hands makes writing difficult or
impossible; so I must try to be content with the few lines I can send,
till the few days become none. We believe that time to be near, and we
shall not attempt to deceive you about it. My brain feels under the
constant sense of being _not myself_, and the introduction of this new
fear into my daily life makes each day sufficiently trying to justify
the longing for death, which grows upon me more and more."

This longing was fulfilled on the 27th of June, 1876, when Harriet
Martineau closed in peace her long and active life.

FOOTNOTES:

[39] Harriet Martineau: "Eastern Life," ii., 81, 82.

[40] Harriet Martineau; "Eastern Life," ii. 162-165.



MISS BIRD AND OTHERS.


"The climate of Colorado is the finest in North America; and
consumptives, asthmatics, dyspeptics, and sufferers from nervous
diseases are here in hundreds and thousands, either trying the 'camp
cure' for three or four months, or settling here permanently. People can
safely sleep out of doors for six months of the year. The plains are
from 4,000 to 6,000 feet high, and some of the settled 'parks,' or
mountain valleys, are from 8,000 to 10,000. The air, besides being much
rarefied, is very dry; the rainfall is far below the average, dews are
rare, and fogs nearly unknown. The sunshine is bright and almost
constant, and three-fourths of the days are cloudless."

This is not Eden, but Colorado; yet, seeing it reproduces as nearly as
possible what we may suppose to have been the primary characteristics of
that first Garden, to us dwellers in a land where mists and fogs are
frequent and sunbeams are rare, Miss Bird's description of it reads like
an effort of the imagination. Miss Bird traversed a portion of Colorado
in 1878, on her way to explore the recesses of the Rocky Mountains.
Starting from San Francisco, she travelled by railway to Truckee. Here
she hired a horse, and for greater convenience assumed what she styled
her "Hawaiian riding dress"--that is, a half-fitting jacket, a skirt
reaching to the ankles, and full Turkish trousers gathered into frills,
which fell over the boots--"a thoroughly serviceable and feminine
costume for mountaineering and other rough travelling in any part of the
world." Throwing over these habiliments a dust-cloak, she rode through
Truckee, and then followed up the windings of the Truckee river--a
loud-tongued, rollicking mountain-stream, flowing between ranges of
great castellated and embattled sierras. Through the blue gloom of a
pine-forest she gallantly made her way, charmed by the magic of the
scenery that opened out before her. "Crested blue-jays darted through
the dark pines, squirrels in hundreds scampered through the forest, red
dragon-flies flashed like 'living light,' exquisite chipmonks ran across
the track, but only a dusty blue legion here and there reminded one of
earth's fairer children. Then the river became broad and still, and
mirrored in its transparent depths regal pines, straight as an arrow,
with rich yellow and green lichen clinging to their stems, and firs and
balsam pines filling up the spaces between them. The gorge opened, and
this mountain-girdled lake lay before me, with its margin broken up into
bays and promontories, most picturesquely clothed by huge sugar-pines."

From Lake Tabor Miss Bird returned to Truckee, and started on another
excursion which brought her within view of the Great Salt Lake and the
Mormon town of Ogden, and thence to Cheyenne, in the State of Wyoming.
Having thus crossed the mountain-range of the Sierras and descended into
the plains, she entered upon the region of the "boundless
prairies--great stretches of verdure, generally level, but elsewhere
rolling in long undulations, like the waves of a sea which had fallen
asleep." Their monotony is broken by large villages of the so-called
prairie dogs, the Wishton-Wish, a kind of marmot, which owes its
misleading name to its short, sharp bark. The villages are composed of
raised circular orifices, about eighteen inches in diameter, from which
a number of inclined passages slope downwards for five or six feet.
"Hundreds of these burrows are placed together. On nearly every rim a
small furry, reddish-buff beast sat on his hind legs, looking, so far as
head went, much like a young seal. These creatures were acting as
sentinels, and sunning themselves. As we passed each gave a warning
yelp, shook its tail, and, with a ludicrous flourish of his hind legs,
dived into its hole. The appearance of hundreds of these creatures, each
eighteen inches long, sitting like dogs begging, with their paws down
and all turned sunwards, is most grotesque."

At Greeley Miss Bird entered Colorado, which she describes, as we have
seen, in such a manner as to suggest that it rivals Dr. Richardson's
imaginary "Hygeia" in all essential particulars. From Greeley she
hastened to Fort Collins, with the grand masses of the Rocky Mountains
facing her as she advanced. Still across the boundless sea-like prairie
struck the indefatigable traveller, until she came to a sort of
tripartite valley, with a majestic crooked cañon, 2,000 feet deep, and
watered by a roaring stream, where in a rude log-cabin she abode for
several days. Having obtained a horse she rode across the highlands, and
striking up the St. Vrain Canyon ascended to Esteo Park, 7,500 feet
above the sea-level. To understand the majesty of the Rocky Mountains,
the reader must think of them as a mass of summits, frequently 200 and
250 miles wide, stretching, with scarcely any interruption of
continuity, almost from the Arctic Circle to the Straits of Magellan. At
the point ascended by Miss Bird their scenery was of the grandest
description--wonderful ascents, wild fantastic views, cool and bowery
shades, romantic glens echoing melodiously with the fall of waters. But
it is only fair that Miss Bird should be heard on her own account:--

"A tremendous ascent among rocks and pines to a height of 9,000 feet
brought us to a passage seven feet wide through a wall of rock, with an
abrupt descent of 2,000 feet, and a yet higher ascent beyond. I never
saw anything so strange as looking back. It was a single gigantic ridge
which we had passed through, standing up knife-like, built up entirely
of great brick-shaped masses of bright-red rock, piled one on another by
Titans. Pitch-pines grew out of these crevices, but there was not a
vestige of soil. Beyond, wall beyond wall of similar construction, and
range above range, rose into the blue sky. Fifteen miles more over great
ridges, along passes dark with shadow, and so narrow that we had to ride
in the beds of the streams which had excavated them, round the bases of
colossal pyramids of rock crested with pines, up into fair upland
'parks' scarlet in patches with the poison oak, parks so beautifully
arranged by nature that I momentarily expected to come upon some stately
mansion; but that afternoon, crested blue jays and chipmonks had them
all to themselves. Here, in the early morning, deer, bighorn, and the
stately elk come down to feed; and there, in the night, prowl and growl
the Rocky Mountain lion, the grizzly bear, and the cowardly wolf. There
were chasms of immense depth, dark with the indigo gloom of pines, and
mountains with snow gleaming on their splintered crests, loveliness to
bewilder and grandeur to awe, and still streams and shady pools, and
cool depths of shadow; mountains again, dense with pines, among which
patches of aspen gleamed like gold; valleys where the yellow cottonwood
mingled with the crimson oak, and so, on and on through the lengthening
shadows till the track, which in places had been hardly legible, became
well defined, and we entered a long gulch with broad swellings of grass
belted with pines."[41]

Long's Peak, the "American Matterhorn," 14,700 feet high, has seldom
been ascended, and Miss Bird is the first woman who has had the courage
and resolution to reach its summit. Her party consisted of herself, two
youths, the sons of a certain Dr. H., and "Mountain Jim," one of the
famous scouts of the plain, an expert in Indian border warfare, who
acted as guide. The ride at first was one long series of glories and
surprises, of peak and glade, of lake and stream, and of mountain upon
mountain, culminating in the shivered pinnacles of Long's Peak. And as
the sun slowly sank, the pines stood out darkling against the golden
sky, the grey peaks took upon their crests a glory of crimson and
purple, a luminous mist of changing colours filled every glen, gorge,
and canyon, while the echoes softly repeated that peculiar sough or
murmur which accompanies the departing day. Our adventurer, with heart
touched by the magical beauty and magnificence of the scene, crossed a
steep wooded incline into a deep hollow, where, embosomed in the
mountain-solitude, slept a lily-covered lake, cradling white, pure
blossoms and broad green leaves, and aptly named "The Lake of the
Lilies." Calm on its amethyst-coloured waters lay the tremulous shadow
of the great dark pine woods.

Thence she and her companions passed again into the leafy wilderness
which clothes the mountain side up to a height of about 11,000 feet,
cheered, as they climbed slowly upwards on their laborious path, by
delightful vistas of "golden atmospheres and rose-lit summits," such as
broke upon the dreams of him who created in his fancy the Garden of
Armida; upward and onward through the dusky shade, which in itself may
well impress a quick imagination. It is the _silence_ of the forest that
makes its mystery. The only sounds are those of the branches swaying in
the breeze, or of a bough crashing to the ground through decay, or the
occasional voices of the wandering birds; and these seem but to increase
the silence by their inadequateness of contrast. Alone in this
profundity of gloom it is difficult for the traveller to resist the
sense and feeling of a supernatural Presence, and he comes to understand
in what way such eerie legends and grim traditions have grown up about
the forest, and why to the early races its still depths seemed haunted
by the creatures of another world.

    Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
    Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades
    Like vaporous shapes half seen;--

and the forest is peopled with the phantoms that are born of Silence and
Twilight.

As they ascended they found that the pines grew smaller and more sparse,
and the last stragglers wore "a tortured, waning look." The forest
threshold was crossed; but yet a little higher a slope of mountain
meadow dipped to the south-west, towards a bright stream trickling under
ice and icicles; and there, in a grove of the beautiful silver spruce,
our travellers resolved to encamp for the night. The trees were small of
size, but so exquisitely arranged that one might well ask what artist's
hand had planted them--scattering them here, grouping them there, and
training their shapely spires towards heaven. "Hereafter," says Miss
Bird, "when I call up memories of the glorious, the view from this
camping-ground will come up. Looking east, gorges opened to the distant
plains, there fading into purple-grey. Mountains with pine-clothed
skirts rose in ranges, or, solitary, uplifted their grey summits; while
close behind, but nearly 3,000 feet above us, towered the bald white
crest of Long's Peak, its huge precipices red with the light of a sun
long lost to our eyes. Close to us, in the caverned side of the peak,
was snow that, owing to its position, is eternal. Soon the after-glow
came on, and before it faded a big half-moon hung out of the heavens,
shining through the silver-blue foliage of the pines on the frigid
background of snow, and turning the whole into fairyland."

This passage shows--what, indeed, is sufficiently evident in every page
of Miss Bird's travel-books--that she possesses, as every traveller
ought to possess, the artist's temperament, and that if she cannot
transfer the scenes she loves to the canvas, she knows how to reproduce
them in words that have the glow of light and life. A sense of the
beautiful, and a power of expressing that sense so as to make it felt by
others, is the primary and indispensable qualification of the traveller.
He must have eyes to see and ears to hear; and that his fellow may be
the wiser, better, and happier for his enterprise, he must have the
faculty of describing what he has seen and heard in language of
adequate force and clearness.

With a great fire of pine-logs to protect them against the rigour
of the night--for the thermometer marked twelve degrees below
freezing-point--our travellers passed the hours of darkness. When the
sun rose, they too arose; and it was well to do so, as sunrise from a
mountain top is such a spectacle of glory as few eyes have the happiness
to look upon. From the chill grey peak above them, with its eternal
snows and pathless forests, down to the plains which spread below like a
cold and waveless sea, everything underwent a strange and marvellously
beautiful transformation; for, as the sun rose above the horizon in all
the fulness of its orbed splendour, the grey of the plains flushed into
purple, the wan peaks gleamed like rubies, the pines shone like so many
columns of gold, and the sky reddened with rose-hues like the blush on a
fair face. After breakfast the party resumed their ascent of the
mountain, and in due time arrived at the "Notch"--a literal gate of
rock--when they found themselves on the knife-like ridge or backbone of
Long's Peak, only a few feet wide, covered with huge boulders, and on
the other side shelving in a snow-patched precipice of 3,000 feet to a
picturesque hollow, brightened by an emerald lake.

"Passing through the 'Notch,'" says Miss Bird, "we looked along the
nearly inaccessible side of the peak, composed of boulders and _débris_
of all shapes and sizes, through which appeared broad, smooth ribs of
reddish-coloured granite, looking as if they upheld the towering
rock-mass above. I usually dislike bird's-eye and panoramic views, but,
though from a mountain, this was not one. Serrated ridges, not much
lower than that on which we stood, rose, one beyond another, far as that
pure atmosphere could carry the vision, broken into awful chasms deep
with ice and snow, rising into pinnacles piercing the heavenly blue with
their cold, barren grey, on, on for ever, till the most distant range
upbore unsullied snow alone. There were fair lakes mirroring the dark
pine woods, canyons dark and blue, black with unbroken expanses of
pines, snow-slashed pinnacles, wintry heights frowning upon lovely
parks, watered and wooded, lying in the lap of summer; North Park
floating off into the blue distance, Middle Park closed till another
season, the sunny slopes of Esteo Park, and winding down among the
mountains the snowy ridge of the Divide (the backbone, or water-shed of
the Rocky Mountains), whose bright waters seek both the Atlantic and the
Pacific Oceans. There, far below, links of diamonds showed where the
grand river takes its rise to seek the mysterious Colorado, with its
still unsolved enigma, and lose itself in the waters of the Pacific; and
nearer, the snow-born Thompson bursts forth from the ice to begin its
journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Nature, rioting in her grandest mood,
exclaimed with voices of grandeur, solitude, sublimity, beauty, and
infinity, 'Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son
of man, that Thou visitest him?'"[42]

At the "Notch" the true character of the enterprise she had undertaken
was forcibly brought home to Miss Bird's consciousness. The Peak towered
above her, two thousand feet of solid rock, with smooth granite sides,
affording scarcely a foothold, and patches of re-frozen snow, presenting
no ordinary obstacle to the advance. She was by no means an expert
mountaineer, having "neither head nor ankles," and, in reality, she was
dragged or hauled up the ascent by the patience, skill, and strength of
"Mountain Jim." Up a deep ravine they attained to the passage of the
"Dog's Lift," through which they emerged on a narrow, rugged shelf,
broken and uneven, forming a kind of terrace or platform, where they
drew breath before attempting the last 500 feet--the terminal peak
itself, a smooth cone of pure granite with almost perpendicular sides.
The only foothold here was in narrow cracks or on minute projections of
the granite. To get a toe in these cracks or on one or other of these
scarcely visible projections, while crawling on hands and knees, weary,
thirst-tortured, and gasping for breath, this was to climb; but at last
the peak was won, and Miss Bird rejoiced in the consciousness of being
the first woman who had ever placed her feet on its lofty summit.

The descent, as far as the "Notch," was not less laborious or painful
than the upward effort had been; and when Miss Bird reached their former
camping-ground she was thoroughly exhausted with fatigue and thirst. But
a night's rest recruited her remarkable energies, and when the morning
dawned she was fresh and vigorous as ever, and happy in the memory of
her successful enterprise--an enterprise such as few women have ever
equalled--and in recollections of the beauty and sublimity of Long's
Peak, which cannot fail to be "joys for ever."

The "parks" of which we have spoken are broad, grassy valleys, lying at
heights which vary from 6,000 to 11,000 feet. They are the favourite
retreats of innumerable animals--wapiti, bighorn, oxen, mountain lions,
the great grizzly, the wary beaver, the evil-smelling skunk, the craven
wolf, cayote and lynx, to say nothing of lesser breeds, such as marten,
wild cat, fox, mink, hare, chipmonk, and squirrel. Their features have
been fully described by Lord Dunraven in his picturesque book, "The
Great Divide."

Miss Bird's animated pages present so many delightful pictures of
mountain scenery that we know not which to choose in illustration of her
remarkable descriptive powers. We have already alluded to her faculty of
pictorial presentment; it is one in which few of her sex surpass her;
she puts a scene before us with as much life and distinctness as a
Constable or a Peter Graham, and the reader, who would form a clear and
well-defined conception of the Rocky Mountains in their picturesque
aspects, cannot do better than study her little but delightful book.
While reading it one seems to feel the pure, keen, mountain air around
one; to see the great peaks rising one above the other like the towers
and spires of some vast cathedral of nature; to watch the ever-shifting
phantasmagoria of gorgeous colour that rolls over the landscape from
sunrise to sunset, and in the hush of the moonlit night disappears
before the silver radiance of the nascent orb; to hear the fall of the
mountain streams, and to catch the breath of the fragrant wind that
comes from the pine-forest loaded with fragrance and freshness and
subtle odours.

Traversing Colorado, in the neighbourhood of the Plate River, she tells
us that she "rode up one great ascent, where hills were tumbled about
confusedly; and suddenly, across the broad ravine, above the sunny grass
and the deep-green pines, rose in glowing and shaded red against the
glittering blue heaven, a magnificent and unearthly range of mountains,
as shapely as could be seen, rising into colossal points, cleft by deep
blue ravines, broken up into shark's teeth, with gigantic knobs and
pinnacles rising from their inaccessible sides, very fair to look
upon--a glowing, heavenly, unforgettable sight, and only four miles off.
Mountains they looked not of this earth, but such as one sees in dreams
alone, the blessed ranges of 'the land which is very far off.' They were
more brilliant than those incredible colours in which painters array
the fiery hills of Moab and the Desert, and one could not believe them
for ever uninhabited, for on them rose, as in the East, the similitude
of stately fortresses, not the grey castellated towers of feudal Europe,
but gay, massive, Saracenic architecture, the outgrowth of the solid
rock. They were vast ranges, apparently of enormous height, their colour
indescribable, deepest and reddest near the pine-draped bases, then
gradually softening into wonderful tenderness, till the highest summits
rose all flushed, and with an illusion of transparency, so that one
might believe that they were taking on the hue of sunset. Below these
lay broken ravines of fantastic rocks, cleft and canyoned by the river,
with a tender unearthly light over all, the apparent warmth of a glowing
clime, while I on the north side was in the shadow among the pure
unsullied snow.

    "'With us the damp, the chill, the gloom;
    With them the sunset's rosy bloom.'

"The dimness of earth with me, the light of heaven with them. Here,
again, worship seemed the only attitude for a human spirit, and the
question was ever present, 'Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?' I rode up and down
hills laboriously in snow-drifts, getting off often to ease my faithful
Birdie by walking down ice-clad slopes, stopping constantly to feast my
eyes upon that changeless glory, always seeing some new ravine, with its
depths of colour or miraculous brilliancy of red or phantasy of form.
Then below, where the trail was locked into a deep canyon, where there
was scarcely room for it and the river, there was a beauty of another
kind in solemn gloom. There the stream curved and twisted marvellously,
widening into shallows, narrowing into deep boiling eddies, with
pyramidal firs and the beautiful silver spruce fringing its banks, and
often falling across it in artistic grace, the gloom chill and deep,
with only now and then a light trickling through the pines upon the cold
snow, when, suddenly turning round, I saw behind, as if in the glory of
an eternal sunset, those flaming and fantastic peaks. The effect of the
combination of winter and summer was singular. The trail rose on the
north side the whole time, and the snow lay deep and pure white, while
not a wreath of it lay on the south side, where abundant lawns basked in
the warm sun."[43]

There is something in the majesty of mountain scenery, in the lofty
peaks, the shadowy ravines, and the tremendous precipices; in the glow
and light and glory which the sun pours out upon the heights, and the
strange gloom and haunted darkness which sleep in the mysterious depths,
that deeply impresses the imagination and the thoughts of men, and
appeals to that higher, purer nature which too often lies dormant in us.
However unmoved we may be by the ordinary sights and sounds which fill
up the landscapes, we are most of us hushed and breathless among the
mountains, mutely acknowledging the manifestations of a Presence and a
Power which are not of the earth--earthy. As the rose of dawn blushes on
each waving crest in the birth-hour of the day, or the purple splendour
invests them in regal robes when the sun goes down, they seem to reveal
to us a vision of the other world; those changing lights that fall upon
them are surely the passing gleams of wings of angels; those mystic
voices that linger among their echoes, what can they be but the divine
chords of that glorious harmony which for ever goes up around the "great
white throne"?

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us now glance at one or two of the personal experiences of Miss
Bird, who, we need hardly say, carried in her bosom a man's heart, and
was never wanting in courage or resolution. Among the Rocky Mountains
one sometimes meets with strange companions; and on her ride from Hall's
Gulch to Deer Valley Miss Bird was joined by a horseman, who would have
made a fine hero of melodrama. A picturesque figure he looked on his
good horse, with his long fair curls drooping from under a big slouch
hat almost to his waist; a fine beard, good blue eyes, a ruddy
complexion, a frank expression of countenance, and a courteous,
respectful bearing. He wore a hunter's buckskin suit, ornamented with
beads, and a pair of very big brass spurs. His saddle was elaborately
ornamented. What chiefly drew attention in his equipment was the number
of weapons hung about him; he was a small arsenal in himself! Two
revolvers and a knife were thrust into his belt, and across his back was
slung a carbine; in addition, he had a rifle resting on his saddle, and
a pair of pistols in the holsters.

This martial rider was Comanche Bill, whom gossip described as one of
the most notorious desperadoes of the Rocky Mountains, and the greatest
Indian "exterminator" on the frontier. His father and family had been
massacred at Spirit Lake by the hands of Indians, who carried away his
sister, a child of eleven. Since then he had mainly devoted himself to
the double task of revenging the victims and searching for this missing
sister.

Riding from Golden City, a place which every day and every hour gave the
lie to its gorgeous name, Miss Bird lost her way on the prairie. A
teamster bade her go forward to a place where three tracks would be
seen, and then to take the best-travelled one, steering all the time by
the north star. Following his directions she came to tracks, but it was
then so dark she could see nothing, and soon the darkness so increased
that she could not see even her horse's ears, and was lost and
benighted. Hour after hour our heroine--for a lady who crosses the Rocky
Mountains alone may surely claim the title!--rode onward in the darkness
and solitude, the prairie sweeping all around her, and a firmament of
frosty stars glittering overhead. At intervals might be heard the howl
of the prairie wolf, and the occasional lowing of cattle gave her hope
of the neighbourhood of man. But there was nothing but the wild and
lonely plain, and she felt a keen desire to see a light or hear a voice,
the solitude was so oppressive. It was very cold, and a hard frost lay
on the ground. At last, however, she heard the bark of a dog, and then
the too common sound of a man swearing; she saw a light, and in another
minute found herself at a large house eleven miles from Denver, where a
hospitable reception cheered the belated traveller.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is another and more startling episode, which occurred during her
journey from Esteo "Park" to Longmount, a ride of 100 miles on a bitter
cold December morning:--

"We all got up before daybreak on Tuesday, and breakfasted at seven....
I took only two pounds of luggage, some raisins, the mail bag, and an
additional blanket under my saddle.... The purple sun rose in front. Had
I known what made it purple I should certainly have gone no farther.
These clouds, the morning mist as I supposed, lifted themselves up
rose-lighted, showing the sun's disc as purple as one of the jars in a
chemist's window, and having permitted this glimpse of their king, came
down again as a dense mist; the wind chopped round, and the mist began
to freeze hard. Soon Birdie and myself were a mass of acicular
crystals; it was a true easterly fog. I galloped on, hoping to get
through it, unable to see a yard before me; but it thickened, and I was
obliged to subside into a jog-trot. As I rode on, about four miles from
the cabin, a human figure, looking gigantic like the spectre of the
Brocken, with long hair white as snow, appeared close to me, and at the
same moment there was the flash of a pistol close to my ear, and I
recognized 'Mountain Jim,' frozen from head to foot, looking a century
old with his snowy hair. It was 'ugly' altogether, certainly a
'desperado's' grim jest, and it was best to accept it as such, though I
had just cause for displeasure. He stormed and scolded, dragged me off
the pony--for my hands and feet were numb with cold--took the bridle,
and went off at a rapid stride, so that I had to run to keep them in
sight in the darkness, for we were off the road in a thicket of scrub,
looking like white branch-coral, I knew not where. Then we came suddenly
on his cabin ... and the 'ruffian' insisted on my going in, and he made
a good fire, and heated some coffee, raging all the time.... He took me
back to the track; and the interview, which began with a pistol-shot,
ended quite pleasantly. It was an eerie ride, one not to be forgotten,
though there was no danger."

It would be difficult to point out any deficiency on Miss Bird's part in
those qualifications which constitute a great traveller. Physically as
well as mentally she seems to have proved herself the equal of men.
Endurance, courage, promptitude, decision, the capacity for quiet and
accurate observation, the ready adaptability to circumstances--she
possessed all these high virtues. Her "Ride in the Rocky Mountains"
shows what may be accomplished by a brave, strong woman under very
difficult conditions. In one respect, perhaps, her sex was an advantage;
it appears to have ensured her an uniform courtesy of treatment and
cordiality of reception in the most remote places and among the wildest
and most reckless men; but it is obvious that in other respects it must
frequently have been found an inconvenience and even a danger, had it
not been for her true patience, her unfailing good humour, and her
indomitable "pluck."

Miss Bird is also the author of a charming book on Hawaii, and a not
less charming record of her wanderings in "Unbeaten Tracks in Japan."

       *       *       *       *       *

Time was, and not so very long ago, when a visit to the wilds of
Patagonia on the part of an English lady would have been regarded as a
wonderful achievement. Now-a-days it excites but little comment The
interest excited by Lady Florence Dixie's book, "Across Patagonia," was
the legitimate interest inspired by her fresh and lively description of
"unexplored and untrodden ground," and not the idle curiosity which a
sensational achievement sometimes excites. If one lady can make a voyage
round the world, why should not another ride across Patagonia? To our
grandmothers a French or Italian tour was an event of novelty and
importance; but _nous avons changé tout cela_. It is quite understood
that no "terra incognita" exists into which our female travellers would
fear to penetrate.

Lady Florence Dixie frankly tells us her reason for venturing into
Patagonia, and no doubt it is the reason which has actuated many of her
sisters in their world-wanderings. She went to "an outlandish place so
many miles away"--as her friends called it--"precisely because it _was_
an outlandish place and so far away." She adds: "Palled for the moment
with civilization and its surroundings, I wanted to escape somewhere
where I might be as far removed from them as possible. Many of my
readers have doubtless felt the dissatisfaction with oneself and
everybody else that comes over one at times in the midst of the
pleasures of life; when one wearies of the shallow artificiality of
modern existence; when what was once excitement has become so no longer,
and a longing grows up within one to taste a more vigorous unction than
that afforded by the monotonous round of society's so-called pleasures."

In this state of mind she looked round for some country that would
satisfy her requirements, and decided upon Patagonia, because nowhere
else could she find an area of 100,000 square miles for "equestrian
exercise," where one would be free from the presence of savage tribes
and obnoxious animals, as well as from the persecution of morning calls,
invitations, garden parties, telegrams, letters, and all the other
"resources of civilization." To these attractions was added the
thought, always alluring to an active mind, that there she would be able
to penetrate into vast wilds, untrod as yet by the foot of man. "Scenes
of infinite beauty and grandeur might be lying hidden in the silent
solitude of the mountains which bound the barren plains of the Pampas,
into whose mysterious recesses no one as yet had ever ventured. And I
was to be the first to behold them!--an egotistical pleasure, it is
true; but the idea had a great charm for me, as it has had for many
others."

Accompanied by her husband, brothers, and three friends, Lady Florence
left Liverpool on the 11th December, 1878. Early in January they reached
Rio de Janeiro, of which she furnishes a pleasantly graphic sketch, that
gives a true idea of her descriptive powers. "Nowhere," she says, "have
the rugged and the tender, the wild and the soft, been blended into such
exquisite union as at Rio; and it is this quality of unrivalled
contrasts that, to my mind, gives to that scenery its charm of
unsurpassed loveliness. Nowhere else is there such audacity, such
fierceness even of outline, coupled with such multiform splendour of
colour, such fairy-like delicacy of detail. As a precious jewel is
encrusted by the coarse rock, the smiling bay lies encircled by frowning
mountains of colossal proportions and the most capricious shapes. In the
production of this work the most opposite powers of nature have been
laid under contribution. The awful work of the volcano--the immense
boulders of rock which lie piled up to the clouds in irregular
masses--have been clothed in a brilliant web of tropical vegetation,
purple and green, sunshine and mist. Here nature revels in manifold
creation. Life multiplies itself a millionfold, the soil bursts with
exuberance of fertility, and the profusion of vegetable and animal life
beggars description. Every tree is clothed with a thousand luxuriant
creepers, purple and scarlet-blossomed; they in their turn support
myriads of lichens and other verdant parasites. The plants shoot up with
marvellous rapidity, and glitter with flowers of the rarest hues and
shapes, or bear quantities of luscious fruit, pleasant to the eye and
sweet to the taste. The air resounds with the hum of insect-life;
through the bright green leaves of the banana skim the sparkling
humming-birds, and gorgeous butterflies of enormous size float, glowing
with every colour of the rainbow, on the flower-scented breezes. But
over all this beauty--over the luxuriance of vegetation, over the
softness of the tropical air, over the splendour of the sunshine, over
the perfume of the flowers--Pestilence has cast her fatal miasmas, and,
like the sword of Damocles, the yellow fever hangs threateningly over
the heads of those who dwell among these lovely scenes."[44]

After touching at Monte Video, Lady Florence Dixie's party proceeded
southwards to the Straits of Magellan, and landed at Sandy Point, a
settlement belonging to the Chilians, who call it "La Colonia de
Magellanes." Here they procured horses and mules and four guides, and,
having completed all the necessary arrangements, rode along the shore of
the famous Strait to Cape Negro. On the opposite side they could
distinctly see the Tierra del Fuego, and at different points tall
columns of smoke rising up into the still air denoted the presence of
native encampments, just as Magellan had seen them four centuries ago,
when he gave to the island, on that account, the name it still bears. At
last they started into the interior, and began their exploration of the
wide region of the Pampas. Game was plentiful, and the fowling-pieces of
the party brought down numerous victims. As they advanced they came into
occasional contact with the Patagonians, and her observations of their
physical character are important and valuable in relation to the
marvellous accounts which we find in the old voyagers. "I was not so
much struck by their height," she says, "as by their extraordinary
development of chest and muscle. As regards their stature, I do not
think the average height of the men exceeded six feet, and, as my
husband stands six feet two inches, I had a favourable opportunity for
forming an accurate estimate. One or two there were, certainly, who
towered far above him, but these were exceptions. The women were mostly
of the ordinary height, though I noticed one who must have been quite
six feet, if not more."

Lady Florence speaks of the features of the pure-bred Tchuelche, or
Patagonian aboriginal as extremely regular, and by no means unpleasant
to look at. "The nose is generally aquiline, the mouth well-shaped and
beautified by the whitest of teeth, the expression of the eye
intelligent, while the form of the whole head indicates the possession
of considerable mental capabilities. But such is not the case with the
Tchuelches in whose veins is a mixture of Fuegian or Araucanian blood.
Of these latter the flat noses, oblique eyes, and badly proportioned
figures excite disgust, and they are as different from a pure-bred
Tchuelche as a racer is from an ordinary cart-horse. Their long coarse
hair is worn parted in the middle, and is prevented from falling over
their faces by means of a handkerchief, or fillet of some kind, bound
round the forehead. They suffer no hair to grow on the face, and some
extract even their eyebrows. Their dress is simple, consisting of a
'chiripa' or piece of cloth round the loins, and the indispensable
guanaco cape, which is hung loosely over the shoulders and held round
the body by the hand, though it would obviously seem more convenient to
have it secured round the waist with a belt of some kind. Their
horse-hide boots are only worn, for reasons of economy, when hunting.
The women dress like the men except as regards the chiripa, instead of
which they wear a loose kind of gown beneath the cape, which they fasten
at the neck with a silver brooch or pin. The children are allowed to run
about naked till they are five or six years old, and are then dressed
like their elders. Partly for ornament, partly also as a means of
protection against the wind, a great many Indians paint their faces,
their favourite colour, as far as I could see, being red, though one or
two I observed had given the preference to a mixture of that colour with
black, a very diabolical appearance being the result of this
combination."

We cannot follow Lady Florence Dixie through all her Patagonian
experiences, which in their infinite variety must have fully satisfied
her craving for new things. She hunted pumas, ostriches, guanacos;
witnessed the wild and wayward movements of the wild horses on the
plains, which for ages have belonged unto them; suffered from the burden
of the heat, and the attacks of the gnats; explored the recesses of the
Cordilleras, and came upon a broad and beautiful lake, on which, in all
probability, no human eye before had ever looked; until at last she grew
weary of adventure, and she and her companions turned their faces once
more towards the commonplace comforts of civilization. All this, and
more, she tells with much animation, quite unaffectedly, and in a style
which, if marked by no special literary merit, is always clear and
vigorous. One can do much worse than while away an hour by the fireside
with Lady Florence Dixie's book in one's hand. One will close it with
the conviction that the writer is a courageous, lively, and intelligent
woman, who can ride across country with a firm hand, and hold her own in
any dangerous or novel position.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not inferior to her in courage and endurance, and her superior in
literary qualifications, is Miss Gordon Cumming, who, I think, among
female travellers has no rival except Ida Pfeiffer. The worthy
representative of a name famous in the annals of adventure and
enterprise, she has put a girdle round about the world with unfailing
ardour, and plunged into the remote and almost inaccessible regions of
the great Asiatic table-land. Her first book, "From the Hebrides to the
Himalayas," attracted a great deal of attention by the freshness of its
sketches, the grace of its style, the unconventionality of its
treatment, and by the space which its author devoted to popular
superstitions and antiquities. Her pictures of life in Tibet, of the
scenery of the Himalayas, of the manners and customs of the Indian
people, of Benares and Hurdwar and Agra, were all so bright and clear as
to indicate the pencil of no ordinary artist. Miss Gordon Cumming next
betook herself to the Pacific, and spent two years "at Home in Fiji;"
two years which she utilized in the collection of much interesting
material. She was preparing in 1880 to return to England, when an
opportunity was offered to her of effecting that return in a manner
which could not but be delightful to a lady of adventurous disposition,
with a proper scorn for social "Mrs. Grundyism." A French man-of-war,
the _Seignelay_, which was carrying a Roman Catholic bishop on a cruise
round his oceanic diocese, arrived at Levaka, and its officers making
the acquaintance of Miss Cumming, courteously invited her to accompany
them on the remainder of their cruise. There was a delightful
originality in the invitation, and a no less delightful originality in
the acceptance of it. The French officers fitted up a pretty little
cabin for her accommodation, and without more ado she took up her
quarters on board the _Seignelay_, with no other escort or chaperonage
than that of the good bishop.

From Fiji the _Seignelay_ proceeded to Tonga, in the Friendly Islands,
where, in the usages of the population and in the insular antiquities,
Miss Cumming found much to interest her and her readers. As might be
expected, the old picturesqueness of the native life is fast
disappearing under the pressure of Western civilization, and we have
reason to be thankful to those travellers who do their best to catch its
waning features, and transfer them as faithfully as may be to the
printed page. The chief archæological curiosities here are the tombs of
the old Tongan kings, cyclopean monuments built up of huge volcanic
blocks, which seem to have been brought from the Wallis group of islands
in open canoes, and erected on their present site with an immense
expenditure of human labour. Scarcely less remarkable is the great
solitary dolmen, which still exists intact, though of its origin nothing
is known, even in tradition. But that it marks the last resting-place of
some great chief or hero may be inferred from the fact that until within
the last few years an immense _Kana_ tent stood upon the transverse
capstone of the dolmen, and that feasts were celebrated on the spot. As
Miss Cumming reminds, similar celebrations take place in many parts of
Britain and Brittany "at the stones" to the present day.

From Tonga Miss Cumming was conveyed to Samoa, where she was very
hospitably received by the Samoan notables, and might have enjoyed
herself greatly, but for the civil war in which the group is always
plunged. It is to the credit of the inhabitants, however, that they
agree to abstain from fighting on at least one day of the week. In their
manners and customs they retain more of the primitive simplicity than is
found now-a-days in most of the Polynesian islands.

Her descriptions of Tahiti, the Eden of the Pacific, are not less
glowing than those of her predecessors, from Wallis and Bougainville
down to "the Earl and the Doctor." They are full of warm, rich colour,
as might have been expected from one who is an artist as well as an
author, and set before us such a succession of vivid and enchanting
landscapes as hardly any other portion of this wide, wide world can
parallel; for with the bold majesty of Alpine peaks is combined the
luxuriant grace of tropical forests, and valleys as beautiful as that of
Tempe open out upon a boundless ocean as blue as the sky it glasses. Add
to this that the vegetation has a charm of its own--the feathery palm
and the bread-fruit tree lending to it a quite distinctive character.
Here is a vignette, which will give the reader some notion of this
enchanting Tahitian scenery:--"We rode along the green glades, through
the usual successions of glorious foliage; groves of magnificent
bread-fruit trees, indigenous to those isles; next a clump of noble
mango-trees, recently imported, but now quite at home; then a group of
tall palms, or a long avenue of gigantic bananas, their leaves sometimes
twelve feet long, meeting over our heads. Then came patches of sugar or
Indian corn, and next a plantation of vanilla, trained to climb over
closely-planted tall coffee, or else over vermilion bushes. Sometimes it
is planted without more ado at the root of pruned guava bushes. These
grow wild over the whole country, loaded with large, excellent fruit,
and, moreover, supply the whole fuel of the isles, and good food for
cattle.... Amidst all this wealth of food-producing vegetation, I
sometimes looked in vain for any trees that were merely ornamental; and
literally there were only the yellow hibiscus, which yields a useful
fibre, and the candle-nut, covered with clusters of white blossoms,
somewhat resembling white lilac, and bearing nuts with oily kernels,
whence the tree derives its name."[45]

Here is a larger picture, taken on one of the smaller islands of the
Society archipelago:--

"I fear no description can possibly convey to your mind a true picture
of the lovely woods through which we wander just where fancy leads us,
knowing that no hurtful creature of any sort lurks among the mossy rocks
or in the rich undergrowth of ferns. Here and there we come on patches
of soft green turf, delightfully suggestive of rest, beneath the broad
shadow of some great tree with buttressed roots; but more often the
broken rays of sunlight gleam in ten thousand reflected lights, dancing
and glancing as they shimmer on glossy leaves of every form and
shade--from the huge silky leaves of the wild plantain or the giant arum
to the waving palm-fronds, which are so rarely at rest, but flash and
gleam like polished swords as they bend and twist with every breath of
air.

"It has just occurred to me that probably you have no very distinct idea
of the shape of a cocoa-palm leaf, which does not bear the slightest
resemblance to the palmettes in the greenhouses. It consists of a strong
mid-rib about eight feet long, which, at the end next to the tree,
spreads out very much as your two clenched fists, placed side by side,
do from your wrists. The other end tapers to a point. For a space of
about two feet the stalk is bare; then along the remaining six feet a
regiment of short swords, graduated from two feet to eighteen inches in
length, are set close together on each side of the mid-rib. Of course,
the faintest stir of the leaf causes these multitudinous swordlets to
flash in the sunlight. Hence the continual effect of glittering light.

"A little lower than these tall queens of the coral-isles rise
fairy-like canopies of graceful tree-ferns, often festooned with most
delicate lianas; and there are places where not these only, but the
larger trees, are literally matted together by the dense growth of the
beautiful large-leaved white convolvulus, or the smaller lilac ipomaæ,
which twines round the tall stems of the palms, and overspreads the
light fronds like some green waterfall. Many of the larger trees are
clothed with parasitic ferns; huge bird's-nest ferns grow in the forks
of the branches, as do various orchids, the dainty children of the mist,
so that the stems are well-nigh as green as everything else in that
wilderness of lovely forms. It is a very inanimate paradise, however. I
rarely see any birds or butterflies, only a few lizards and an
occasional dragon-fly; and the voice of singing-birds, such as gladden
our hearts in humble English woods, is here mute; so we have at least
this compensation for the lack of all the wild luxuriance which here is
so fascinating."

From Miss Cumming's animated pages we might continue to borrow with
advantage to our readers. But we must rest satisfied with one more
picture, and this shall be a view of the Tahitian market-place at
Papeete:--

"Passing by roads which are called streets, but are rather shady bowers
of yellow hibiscus and bread-fruit trees, I entered the covered
market-place, where was assembled as gay a throng as you could wish to
see, many of them dressed in flowing robes of the very brightest
colours; for the people here assembled are chiefly _le peuple_, whose
days of ceremonial mourning for their good old queen are drawing to a
close; so the long tresses of glossy black hair, hitherto so carefully
hidden within their jaunty little sailor-hats, are now again suffered
to hang at full length in two silky plaits, and hair and hats are
wreathed with bright fragrant flowers of double Cape jessamine, orange
blossom, scarlet hibiscus, or oleander. Many wear a delicate white
jessamine star in the ear in place of an ear-ring. The people here are
not so winsome as those in remoter districts. Too much contact with
shipping and grog-shops has, of course, gone far to deteriorate them,
and take off the freshness of life; but a South Sea crowd is always made
up of groups pleasant to the eye; and a party of girls dressed in long
graceful sacques of pale sea-green, or delicate pink, pure white, or
bright crimson, chatting and laughing as they roll up minute fragments
of tobacco in strips of pandameo or banana to supply the inevitable
cigarette, is always attractive.

"The men all wear _pavus_ of Manchester cotton stuff, prepared expressly
for these isles, and of the most wonderful patterns. Those most in
favour are bright crimson, with a large white pattern, perhaps groups of
red crowns on circles of white, arranged on a scarlet ground, or else
rows of white crowns alternating with groups of stars. A dark blue
ground with circles and crosses in bright yellow, or scarlet with yellow
anchors and circles, also find great favour; and though they certainly
sound 'loud' when thus described, they are singularly effective. It is
wonderful what a variety of patterns can be produced, not one of which
has ever been seen in England. With these, the men wear white shirts
and sailors' hats, with bright-coloured silk handkerchiefs tied over
them and knotted on the ear; or else a gay garland....

"Every one brings to the morning market whatever he happens to have for
sale. Some days he has a large stock-in-trade, sometimes next to
nothing. But, be it little or be it much, he divides it into two lots,
and slings his parcels or baskets from a light bamboo pole which rests
across his shoulder, and, light as it is, often weighs more than the
trifles suspended from it; perhaps a few shrimps in a green leaf are
slung from one end, and a lobster from the other, or, it may be, a tiny
basket of new-laid eggs balanced by half a dozen silvery fishes.

"But often the burden is so heavy that the pole bends with the
weight--of perhaps two huge bunches of mountain bananas, and you think
how that poor fellow's shoulder must have ached as he carried his spoil
down the steep mountain path from the cleft in the rugged rock where the
_faces_ had contrived to take root. These resemble bunches of gigantic
golden plums. As a bit of colour they are glorious, but as a vegetable I
cannot learn to like them, which is perhaps as well, as the native
proverb says that the foreigner who does appreciate _faces_ can never
stay away from Tahiti.

"As you enter the cool, shady market, you see hundreds of those golden
clusters hanging from ropes stretched across the building, and great
bunches of mangoes and oranges. These last lie heaped in baskets among
cool green leaves. Sometimes a whole laden bough has been recklessly cut
off. Pine-apples, bread-fruit, cocoa-nut, all are there, and baskets of
scarlet tomatoes, suggestive of cool salads."[46]

       *       *       *       *       *

We must pass over with a word of allusion Mrs. Macquoid's entertaining
records of her tours in Normandy and Brittany, and the Ardennes, where
she found the scenery which gives so much picturesqueness of character
to some of her best fictions. Nor can we undertake to dwell on Mrs.
Mulhall's "Between the Amazon and the Andes," though it deals with a
region not by any means familiarly known even to geographers, and is
undoubtedly a valuable addition to the literature of South American
travel. Mrs. Minto Elliot has written two pleasant volumes descriptive
of the experiences of "An Idle Woman in Sicily," but they contain
nothing very new or striking. Of higher value is Lady Duffus Hardy's
"Tour in America," and still higher value Lady Anne Blunt's "Pilgrimage
to Nijd." Mrs. T. F. Hughes embodies much curious and suggestive
information in her account of a "Residence in China." Miss Gertrude
Forde's "Lady's Tour in Corsica" is an interesting supplement to
previous works on that romantic island.

"What We Saw in Australia" is the journal of two sisters, Florence and
Rosamond Hill, who, without servants or escort, accomplished the voyage
to the great island-continent; visited Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney,
with all the remarkable places in the vicinity of each; made a trip to
Tasmania, and returned home by way of Bombay, Egypt, and Italy. "We
encountered," they say, "no gales of any severity, have to record no
alarming adventures, and returned to England after sixteen months'
absence, convinced by experience that to persons of average health and
strength the difficulties of such a journey exist only in the
imagination. It may, we feel sure, be accomplished with ease and comfort
by ladies unprovided with servants or escort." The sisters were
insatiable in the pursuit of information, and their book affords a
tolerably comprehensive view of the economic and social conditions of
the Australian colonies. Thus, we are told that "the number of
post-offices throughout South Australia is 348, employing 336 officials,
besides fifty-six others, who are also engaged in telegraph work. Mails
are despatched by every steamer to Melbourne, and three times weekly
overland, the latter journey occupying ninety-six hours. Mail-omnibuses
convey the country letters where the roads are good, which is the case
for many miles out of town in numerous directions. For more distant
places coaches are used, much resembling a box hung high upon four
wheels; all the parts are very strong, and leathern curtains over the
windows largely take the place of glass, the presence of which is
undesirable in a break-down or roll over. The interior is provided with
straps to be clung to by the unhappy passengers as the vehicle pursues
its bumping way." Orphan schools, institutes, reformatories, cabs,
museums, hospitals, prisons--all attracted the attention of the two
travellers, who are much to be commended for their scrupulous attention
to accuracy. But they did not neglect the various aspects of Australian
scenery, so far as they came within their purview. They did not
penetrate into the interior, and their range was not very wide or novel,
but what they saw they describe with characteristic and pains-taking
fidelity. Here is their description of Govat's Leap, a remarkable
valley, one of the lions of New South Wales, about five miles from Mount
Victoria:--

"We followed for a considerable distance the high road to Bathurst cut
through the bush. The mass of gum-trees on either side looked beautiful
in their fresh summer foliage. The young shoots are crimson, and when
seen against the blue sky, the sunshine gleaming through them, the tree
seems covered with gorgeous blossom. Leaving the road, we turned into
the scrub, and drove over a sandy soil among small gum-trees and smaller
scrub. When at length we quitted the carriage and had followed our guide
for a short distance, we suddenly came upon what appeared to be an
enormous rift in the ground, which yawned beneath our feet. Far below
was an undulating mass of foliage--the tops of a forest of gum-trees,
which covered the whole bed of the valley. Vast was the height from
which we looked down, so that the trees had the appearance of perfect
stillness, forming in the glorious sunshine a lovely crimson-tinted
carpet, the shadows cast upon them by the clouds giving continual
variety to the colouring. At the upper end of the valley, towards the
west, the cliffs on either side were somewhat depressed. Here a
streamlet fell over the rocks, a sheer descent of 1,200 feet, but so
gentle its fall appeared, as we watched it obliquely across the valley,
that the water looked like marabout feathers softly floating downwards.
Towards the bottom it vanished from our sight among large stones, and if
in that dry season the stream made further progress, its course was
hidden by the forest at its feet. Turning towards the south, the brown,
grey, and yellow rocks rose perpendicularly, the sunshine softening them
into a delicious harmony of colour; and so great was the width of the
valley, that a waterfall on the opposite cliff looked, from where we
stood, like a silver thread against its side. Beyond, the valley bore
away in a southerly direction until it was closed in by ranges of
overlapping hills of lovely blue--indigo or cobalt--as the blaze of the
sun or the shadow of the clouds fell upon them. But for the faint murmur
caused either by the falling of the water or the wind among the trees,
the place was silent, and it was almost devoid of animal life. A bird or
two overhead, and the noiseless lizards who ran over our dresses as we
attempted to sketch the scene, represented the whole animal life within
sight or hearing."[47]

Lady Barker is a practised writer, and a good deal of literary skill is
shown in her books of travel, "Station Life in New Zealand" and "A
Year's Housekeeping in South Africa." Pleasanter reading one could
hardly wish for; the sketches are vivid, and the observations judicious;
the style is fluent, and flavoured by a genial and unobtrusive humour.
Lady Barker looks at things, of course, with a woman's eye, and this
womanliness is one of the charms of her books. She sees so much that no
man would ever have seen, and sees it all in a light so different from
that in which men would have seen it. To our knowledge of South Africa,
Lady Barker has unquestionably made a very real and interesting
contribution. She and her husband, who had been appointed to an official
position of importance in Natal, arrived at Cape Town in October, 1875,
and, after a brief rest, steamed along the coast to the little port of
East London. Thence they proceeded to Port Durban, where they
disembarked, and, in waggons drawn by mules, jolted over the fifty-two
miles that lie between Port Durban and their place of destination,
Maritzburg. During her residence there she made good use of her time and
opportunities, studying the native ways and usages, sketching Zulus and
Kaffirs, interviewing witches and witch-finders, exploring the scenery
of the interior, and accomplishing an expedition into the Bush, the
result being a book of some 320 pages, in which not one is dull or
unreadable. Of her lightness and firmness of touch we can give but one
specimen, a sketch of a Kaffir bride:--

"She was exceedingly smart, and had one of the prettiest faces
imaginable. The regular features, oval face, dazzling teeth, and
charming expression, were not a bit disfigured by her jet-black skin.
Her hair was drawn straight up from her head like a tiara, stained red,
and ornamented with a profusion of bone skewers, a tuft of feathers
being stuck coquettishly over one ear, and a band of bead embroidery,
studded with brass-headed nails, worn like a fillet where the hair grew
low on the forehead. She had a kilt, or series of aprons rather, of lynx
skins, a sort of bodice of calf-skin, and over her shoulders, arranged
with ineffable grace, a gay table-cover. Then there were strings of
beads on her pretty, shapely throat and arms, and a bright scarlet
ribbon tied tightly round each ankle. All the rest of the party seemed
immensely proud of this young person, and were very anxious to put her
forward in every way. Indeed, all the other women, mostly hard-working,
hard-featured matrons, prematurely aged, took no more part in the visit
than the chorus of a Greek play, always excepting the old luduna, or
headman of the village, who came as escort, and in charge of the whole
party. This was a most garrulous and amusing individual, full of
reminiscences and anecdotes of his fighting days. He was rather more
frank than most warriors, who 'shoulder their crutch, and show how
fields are won;' for the usual end of his battle stories was the naïve
confession, 'and then I thought I should be killed, and so I ran away.'
He and I used up a great many interpreters in the course of the visit;
for he wearied every one out, and nothing made him so angry as any
attempt to condense his conversation in translating it to me. But he was
great fun; polite as became an old soldier, full of compliments and
assurances that 'now the happiest day of his life having come, he
desired to live no longer, but was ready for death.' The visit took
place on the shady side of the verandah, and thither I brought a large
musical box and set it down on the ground to play. Never was there such
a success. In a moment they were all down on their knees before it
listening with rapt delight, the old man telling them the music was
caused by very little people inside the box, who were obliged to do
exactly as I bade them. They were in a perfect ecstasy of delight for
ever so long, retreating rapidly, however, to a distance whenever I
wound it up. The old luduna took snuff copiously all the time, and made
me affectionate speeches, which resulted in the gift of an old great
coat, which he assured me he never would live to wear out, because he
was quite in a hurry to die and go to the white man's land now that he
had seen me."[48]

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all the European countries, Hungary, we think, is the one least
represented in our English literature of travel, though to Englishmen it
might seem to have peculiar attractions, in virtue of its romantic
scenery, its historical associations, and the brave, independent, and
vigorous character of its inhabitants. "Its history is that of Greece,"
says a German writer; "the same heroism lives within its borders, the
names of its heroes alone have changed." We turn, therefore, with
interest, while writing these last pages, to "Magyarland," a lady's
"Narrative of Travels through the Highlands and Lowlands of Hungary."
She entered Hungary on the side of its majestic Aljöla, or plains, which
extend over an area of 5,400 square miles, and in some places are
inhospitable sandy wastes; in some, highly cultivated; in others, green
and flowery pastures, where large herds of horses and cattle roam
unfettered. These plains are inhabited by various races--the Magyars,
who are the dominant people; the Wallachs, who dwell in the easternmost
districts; the Germans, Saxons, and Shecklers. South-west of the
Carpathians live the Slovaks; in Croatia and Servia the Croat Serbs; and
in the provinces south-east of the Carpathians are the Rusniaks or
Ruthenians. About these races, and their manners and customs--about
Buda-Pesth and Semlin, and the ice-caves of the snowy Tabree, and the
wines of Tokay, and the scenery of Romania, our authoress has much to
say with equal liveliness and grace.

FOOTNOTES:

[41] Bird: "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains," pp. 89, 90.

[42] Isabella Bird: "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains," pp. 108,
109.

[43] I. L. Bird: "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains," pp. 194-196.

[44] Lady Florence Dixie: "Across Patagonia," pp. 26-28.

[45] C. F. Gordon Cumming: "A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-war," ii.
38, 39.

[46] C. F. Gordon Cumming: "A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War," ii.
177-181.

[47] F. and R. Hill: "What We Saw in Australia," pp. 321, 322.

[48] Lady Barker: "A Year's Housekeeping in South Africa," pp. 312-314.





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