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´╗┐Title: Here, There and Everywhere
Author: Hamilton, Frederic, Lord
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

BY

LORD FREDERIC HAMILTON

TO MY GALLANT CANADIAN FRIEND GERALD RUTHERFORD, M.C. OF WINNIPEG




FOREWORD

So kindly a reception have the public accorded to "The Days Before
Yesterday" that I have ventured into print yet again.

This is less a book of reminiscences than a recapitulation of various
personal experiences in many lands, some of which may be viewed from
unaccustomed angles.

The descriptions in Chapter VIII of cattle-working and of
horse-breaking on an Argentine estancia have already appeared in
slightly different form in an earlier book of mine, now out of print.

F. H.

_London, 1921._




CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

An ideal form of travel for the elderly--A claim to roam at will in
print--An invitation to a big-game shoot--Details of journey to Cooch
Behar--The commercial magnate and the station-master--An outbreak of
cholera--Arrival at Cooch Behar Palace-Our Australian Jehu--The
shooting camp--Its gigantic scale--The daily routine--"Chota Begum,"
my confidential elephant--Her well-meant attentions--My first
tiger--Another lucky shot--The leopard and the orchestra--The
Maharanee of Cooch Behar--An evening in the jungle--The buns and the
bear--Jungle pictures--A charging rhinoceros--Another rhinoceros
incident--The amateur Mahouts--Circumstances preventing a second visit
to Cooch Behar

CHAPTER II

Mighty Kinchinjanga--The inconceivable splendours of a Himalayan
sunrise--The last Indian telegraph office--The irrepressible British
Tommy--An improvised garden--An improvised Durbar hall--A splendid
ceremony--A native dinner--The disguised Europeans--Our shocking
table-manners--Incidents--Two impersonations; one successful, the
other the reverse--I come off badly--Indian jugglers--The
rope-trick--The juggler, the rope, and the boy--An inexplicable
incident--A performing cobra scores a success--Ceylon "Devil
Dancers"--Their performance--The Temple of the Tooth--The uncovering
of the Tooth--Details concerning--An abominable libel--Tea and
coffee--Peradeniya Gardens--The upas tree of Java--Colombo an Eastern
Clapham Junction--The French lady and the savages--The small Bermudian
and the inhabitants of England

CHAPTER III

Frenchmen pleasant travelling companions--Their limitations--Vicomte
de Vogue--The innkeeper and the ikon--An early oil-burning steamer--A
modern Bluebeard--His "Blue Chamber"--Dupleix--His ambitious scheme
--A disastrous period for France--A personal appreciation of the
Emperor Nicholas II--A learned but versatile Orientalist--Pidgin
English--Hong-Kong--An ancient Portuguese city in China--Duck junks--A
comical Marathon race--Canton--Its fascination and its appalling
smells--The malevolent Chinese devils--Precautions adopted
against--"Foreign devils"--The fortunate limitations of Chinese
devils--The City of the Dead--A business interview

CHAPTER IV

The glamour of the West Indies--Captain Marryat and Michael
Scott--Deadly climate of the islands in the eighteenth century--The
West Indian planters--Difference between East and West Indies--"Let us
eat and drink, for to-morrow we die"--Training-school for British
Navy--A fruitless voyage--Quarantine--Distant view of Barbados--Father
Labat--The last of the Emperors of Byzantium--Delightful little Lady
Nugent and her diary of 1802--Her impressions of Jamaica--Wealthy
planters--Their hideous gormandising--A simple morning meal--An
aldermanic dinner--How the little Nugents were gorged--Haiti--Attempts
of General Le Clerc to secure British intervention in Haiti--Presents
to Lady Nugent--Her Paris dresses described--Our arrival in
Jamaica--Its marvellous beauty--The bewildered Guardsman--Little trace
of Spain left in Jamaica--The Spaniards as builders--British and
Spanish Colonial methods contrasted

CHAPTER V

An election meeting in Jamaica--Two family experiences at contested
elections--Novel South African methods--Unattractive Kingston--A
driving tour through the island--The Guardsman as
orchid-hunter--Derelict country houses--An attempt to reconstruct the
past--The Fourth-Form room at Harrow--Elizabethan Harrovians--I meet
many friends of my youth--The "Sunday" books of the 'sixties--"Black
and White"--Arrival of the French fleet--Its inner
meaning--International courtesies--A delicate attention--Absent
alligators--The mangrove swamp--A preposterous suggestion--The swamps
do their work--Fever--A very gallant apprentice--What he did

CHAPTER VI

The Spanish Main--Its real meaning--A detestable region--Tarpon and
sharks--The isthmus--The story of the great pearl "La elegrina"--The
Irishman and the Peruvian--The vagaries of the Southern Cross--The
great Kingston earthquake--Point of view of small boys--Some
earthquake incidents--"Flesh-coloured" stockings--Negro hysteria--A
family incident, and the unfortunate Archbishop--Port Royal--A sugar
estate--A scene from a boy's book in real life--Cocoa-nuts--
Reef-fishing--Two young men of great promise

CHAPTER VII

Appalling ignorance of geography amongst English people--Novel
pedagogic methods--"Happy Families"--An instructive game--Bermuda--A
waterless island--A most inviting archipelago--Bermuda the most
northern coral-atoll--The reefs and their polychrome fish--A
"water-glass"--Sea-gardens--An ideal sailing-place--How the Guardsman
won his race--A miniature Parliament--Unfounded aspersions on the
Bermudians--Red and blue birds--Two pardonable mistakes--Soldier
gardeners--Officers' wives--The little roaming home-makers--A pleasant
island--The inquisitive German naval officers--"The Song of the
Bermudians"

CHAPTER VIII

The demerits of the West Indies classified--The utter ruin of
St. Pierre--The Empress Josephine--A transplanted
brogue--Vampires--Lost in a virgin forest--Dictator-Presidents, Castro
and Rosas--The mentality of a South American--"The Liberator"--The
Basques and their national game--Love of English people for foreign
words--Yellow fever--Life on an Argentina _estancia_--How cattle
are worked--The lasso and the "bolas"--Ostriches--Venomous toads--The
youthful rough-rider--His methods--Fuel difficulties--The vast
plains--The wonderful bird-life

CHAPTER IX

Difficulties of an Argentine railway engineer--Why Argentina has the
Irish gauge--A sudden contrast--A more violent contrast--Names and
their obligations--Cape Town--The thoroughness of the Dutch
pioneers--A dry and thirsty land--The beautiful Dutch Colonial houses
--The Huguenot refugees--The Rhodes fruit-farms--Surf-riding--Groote
Schuur--General Botha--The Rhodes Memorial--The episode of the sick
boy--A visit from Father Neptune--What pluck will do

CHAPTER X

In France at the outbreak of the war--The _tocsin_--The "voice of
the bell" at Harrow--Canon Simpson's theory about bells--His
"five-tone" principle--Myself as a London policeman--Experiences with
a celebrated Church choir--The "Grill-room Club"--Famous members
--Arthur Cecil--Some neat answers--Sir Leslie Ward--Beerbohm Tree and
the vain old member--Amateur supers--Juvenile disillusionment--The
Knight--The Baron--Age of romance passed

CHAPTER XI

Dislike of the elderly to change--Some legitimate grounds of
complaint--Modern pronunciation of Latin--How a European crisis was
averted by the old-fashioned method--Lord Dufferin's Latin
speech--Schoolboy costume of a hundred years ago--Discomforts of
travel in my youth--A crack liner of the 'eighties--Old travelling
carriages--An election incident--Headlong rush of extraordinary
turn-out--The politically-minded signalman and the doubtful
voter--"Decent bodies"--Confidence in the future--Conclusion

INDEX




HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

CHAPTER I

An ideal form of travel for the elderly--A claim to roam at will in
print--An invitation to a big-game shoot--Details of journey to Cooch
Behar--The commercial magnate and the station-master--An outbreak of
cholera--Arrival at Cooch Behar Palace--Our Australian Jehu--The
Shooting Camp--Its gigantic scale--The daily routine--"Chota Begum,"
my confidential elephant--Her well-meant attentions--My first
tiger--Another lucky shot--The leopard and the orchestra--The
Maharanee of Cooch Behar--An evening in the jungle--The buns and the
bear--Jungle pictures--A charging rhinoceros--Another rhinoceros
incident--The amateur mahouts--Circumstances preventing a second visit
to Cooch Behar.


The drawbacks of advancing years are so painfully obvious to those who
have to shoulder the burden of a long tale of summers, that there is
no need to enlarge upon them.

The elderly have one compensation, however; they have well-filled
store-houses of reminiscences, chests of memories which are the
resting-place of so many recollections that their owner can at will
re-travel in one second as much of the surface of this globe as it has
been his good fortune to visit, and this, too, under the most
comfortable conditions imaginable.

Not for him the rattle of the wheels of the train as they grind the
interminable miles away; not for him the insistent thump of the
engines as they relentlessly drive the great liner through angry
Atlantic surges to her far-off destination in smiling Southern seas.
The muffled echoes of London traffic, filtering through the drawn
curtains, are undisturbed by such grossly material reminders of modern
engineering triumphs, for the elderly traveller journeys in a
comfortable easy-chair before a glowing fire, a cigar in his mouth,
and a long tumbler conveniently accessible to his hand.

The street outside is shrouded in November fog; under the steady
drizzle, the dripping pavements reflect with clammy insistence the
flickering gas-lamps, and everything, as Mr. Mantalini would have put
it, "is demnition moist and unpleasant," whilst a few feet away, a
grey-haired traveller is basking in the hot sunshine of a white coral
strand, with the cocoa-nut palms overhead whispering their endless
secrets to each other as they toss their emerald-green fronds in the
strong Trade winds, the little blue wavelets of the Caribbean Sea
lap-lapping as they pretend to break on the gleaming milk-white beach.

It is really an ideal form of travel! No discomforts, no hurryings to
catch connections, no passports required, no passage money, and no
hotel bills! What more could any one ask? The journeys can be varied
indefinitely, provided that the owner of the storehouse has been
careful to keep its shelves tidily arranged. India? The second shelf
on the left. South Africa? The one immediately below it. Canada?
South America? The West Indies? There they all are, each one in its
proper place!

This private Thomas Cook & Son's office has the further advantage of
being eminently portable. Wherever its owner goes, it goes, too. For
the elderly this seems the most practical form of Travel Bureau, and
it is incontestably the most economical one in these days when prices
soar sky-high.

There is so much to see in this world of ours, and just one short
lifetime in which to see it! I am fully conscious of the difficulty of
conveying to others impressions which remain intensely vivid to
myself, and am also acutely alive to the fact that matters which
appear most interesting to one person, drive others to martyrdoms of
boredom.

In attempting to reproduce various personal experiences on paper, I
shall claim the roaming freedom of the fireside muser, for he can in
one second skip from Continent to Continent and vault over gaps of
thirty years and more, just as the spirit moves him; indeed, to change
the metaphor, before one record has played itself out, he can turn on
a totally different one without rising from his chair, adjusting a new
needle, or troubling to re-wind the machine, for this convenient
mental apparatus reproduces automatically from its repertory whatever
air is required.

Having claimed the privilege of roaming at will far from my subject, I
may say that ever since my boyhood I had longed to take part in a
big-game shoot, so when the late Maharajah of Cooch Behar invited me
in 1891 to one of his famous shooting-parties, I accepted with
alacrity, for the Cooch Behar shoots were justly famed throughout
India. The rhinoceros was found there, tigers, as Mrs. O'Dowd of
_Vanity Fair_ would have remarked, "were as plentiful as cabbages";
there were bears, too, leopards and water buffaloes, everything, in
short, that the heart of man could desire. It was no invitation to
travel five hundred miles for two days' shooting only, there were to be
five solid weeks of it in camp, and few people entertained on so
princely a scale as the Maharajah. It was distinctly an invitation to
be treasured--and gratefully accepted.

The five-hundred-mile journey between Calcutta and Cooch Behar was
unquestionably a varied one. There were four hours' train on the
broad-gauge railway, an hour's steamer to cross the Ganges, ten hours'
train on a narrow-gauge railway, three hours' propelling by poles in a
native house-boat down a branch of the Brahmaputra, six miles of swamp
to traverse on elephants, thirty miles to travel on the Maharajah's
private two-and-a-half-feet-gauge toy railway, and, to conclude with,
a twenty-five-mile drive.

Cooch Behar is now, I believe, directly linked up with Calcutta by
rail.

We left Calcutta a party of four. My nephew, General Sir Henry
Streatfeild, and his wife, another of the Viceroy's aides-de-camp,
myself, and a certain genial Calcutta business magnate, most popular
of Anglo-Indians. As we had a connection to catch at a junction on the
narrow-gauge railway, an interminable wait at a big station in the
early morning was disconcerting, for the connection would probably be
missed. The jovial, burly Englishman occupied the second
sleeping-berth in my compartment. As the delay lengthened, he, having
some official connection with the East Bengal State Railway, jumped
out of bed and went on to the platform in Anglo-Indian fashion, clad
merely in pyjamas and slippers. Approaching the immensely pompous
native station-master he upbraided him in no measured terms for the
long halt. Through the window I could hear every word of their
dialogue. "This delay is perfectly scandalous, station-master. I shall
certainly report it in Calcutta." "Would you care, sir, to enter
offeecial complaint in book kept for that purpose?" "By George! I
will!" answered the man of jute and indigo, hot with indignation. He
was conducted through long passages to the station-master's office at
the back of the building, where a strongly worded complaint was
entered in the book. "And now, may I ask," questioned the irate
business man, "when you mean to start this infernal train?" "Oh, the
terain, sir, has already deeparted these five minutes," answered the
bland native. Fortunately there was a goods train immediately
following the mail, and some four hours afterwards our big friend
alighted from a goods brake-van in a furious temper. He had had
nothing whatever to eat, and was still in pyjamas, bare feet and
slippers at ten in the morning. We had delayed the branch train as no
one seemed in any particular hurry, so all was well.

During a subsequent journey over the same line, we had an awful
experience. Through the Alipore suburb of Calcutta there runs a little
affluent of the Hooghly known as Tolly Gunge. For some reason this
insignificant stream is regarded as peculiarly sacred by Hindoos, and
every five years vast numbers of pilgrims come to bathe in and drink
Tolly Gunge. The stream is nothing now but an open sewer, but no
warnings of the doctors, and no Government edicts can prevent natives
from regarding this as a place of pilgrimage, rank poison though the
waters of Tolly Gunge must be.

A party of us left Calcutta on a shooting expedition during one of
these quinquennial pilgrimages. We found the huge Sealdah station
packed with dense crowds of home-going pilgrims. The station-master
was at his wits' end to provide accommodation, for every third-class
carriage was already full to overflowing, and still endless hordes of
devotees kept arriving. He finally had a number of covered trucks
coupled on to the train, into which the pilgrims were wedged as
tightly as possible, a second engine was attached, and we started.
Next morning I was awakened by a nephew of mine, who cried with an
awestruck face, "My God! It is perfectly awful! Look out of the
window!" It was a fearful sight. The waters of Tolly Gunge had done
their work, and cholera had broken out during the night amongst the
densely packed pilgrims. Men were carrying out dead bodies from the
train; there were already at least fifty corpses laid on the platform,
and the tale of dead increased every minute. Others, stricken with the
fell disease, were lying on the platform, still alive, but in a state
of collapse, or in the agonising cramps of this swift-slaying scourge.
There happened to be two white doctors in the train, who did all that
was possible for the sufferers, but, beyond the administration of
opium, medical science is powerless in cholera cases. The horrors of
that railway platform fixed themselves indelibly on my memory. I can
never forget it.

The late Maharajah of Cooch Behar had had a long minority, the soil of
his principality was very fertile and well-cultivated, and so
efficiently was the little State administered by the British Resident
that the Maharajah found himself at his majority the fortunate
possessor of vast sums of ready money. The Government of India had
erected him out of his surplus revenues a gigantic palace of
red-brick, a singularly infelicitous building material for that
burning climate. Nor can it be said that the English architect had
been very successful in his elevation. He had apparently anticipated
the design of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and had managed to
produce a building even less satisfactory to the eye than the vast
pile at the corner of Cromwell Road. He had also crowned his edifice
with a great dome. The one practical feature of the building was that
it was only one room thick, and that every room was protected by a
broad double verandah on both sides. The direct rays of the sun were,
therefore, powerless to penetrate to the interior, and with the double
verandahs the faintest breath of air sent a draught through every room
in the house.

We reached Cooch Behar after dark, and it was somewhat of a surprise
to find the Maharajah and his entire family roller-skating in the
great central domed hall of the palace, to the strains of a really
excellent string band. The Maharajah having a great liking for
European music, had a private orchestra of thirty-five natives who,
under the skilled tuition of a Viennese conductor, had learnt to play
with all the fire and vim of one of those unapproachable Austrian
bands, which were formerly (I emphasise the _were_) the delight
of every foreigner in Vienna. These native players had acquired in
playing dance music the real Austrian "broken time," and could make
their violins wail out the characteristic "thirds" and "sixths" in the
harmonies of little airy, light "Wiener Couplets" nearly as
effectively as Johann Strauss' famous orchestra in the "Volks-Garten"
in Vienna.

The whole scene was rather unexpected in the home of a native prince
in the wilds of East Bengal.

The Maharajah had fixed on a great tract of jungle in Assam, over the
frontier of India proper, as the field of operations for his big-game
shoot of 1891, on account of the rhinoceros and buffaloes that
frequented the swamps there. As he did not do things by halves, he had
had a rough road made connecting Cooch Behar with his great camp, and
had caused temporary bridges to be built over all the streams on the
way. Owing to the convenient bamboo, this is fairly easy of
achievement, for the bamboo is at the same time tough and pliable, and
bamboo bridges, in spite of their flimsy appearance, can carry great
weights, and can be run up in no time, and kindly Nature furnishes in
Bengal an endless supply of this adaptable building material.

Our Calcutta party were driven out to the camp by the Maharajah's
Australian trainer in a brake-and-four. I had heard before of the
recklessness and skill of Australian stage-coach drivers, but had had
no previous personal experience of it. Frankly, it is not an
experience I should care to repeat indefinitely. I have my own
suspicions that that big Australian was trying, if I may be pardoned a
vulgarism, "to put the wind up us." Bang! against a tree-trunk on the
off-side. Crash! against another on the near-side; down a steep hill
at full gallop, and over a creaking, swaying, loudly protesting bamboo
bridge that seemed bound to collapse under the impact; up the
corresponding ascent as hard as the four Walers could lay leg to the
ground; off the track, tearing through the scrub on two wheels,
righting again to shave a big tree by a mere hair's-breadth; it
certainly was a fine exhibition of nerve and of recklessness redeemed
by skill, but I do not think that elderly ladies would have preferred
it to their customary jog-trot behind two fat and confidential old
slugs. One wondered how the harness held together under our Australian
Jehu's vagaries.

The Maharajah had chosen the site of his camp well. On a bare
_maidan_ overhanging a turbulent river a veritable city of white
tents gleamed in the sunshine, all neatly ranged in streets and lanes.
The river was not, as most Indian rivers in the dry season, a mere
trickle of muddy water meandering through a broad expanse of stones
and sand-spits, but a clear, rushing stream, tumbling and laughing on
its way as gaily as any Scotch salmon river, and forming deep pools
where great mahseer lurked under the waving fringes of water-weeds,
fat fish who could be entrapped with a spoon in the early morning.

Each guest had a great Indian double tent, bigger than most London
drawing-rooms. The one tent was pitched inside the other after the
fashion of the country, with an air-space of about one foot between to
keep out the fierce sun. Indeed, triple-tent would be a more fitting
expression, for the inner tent had a lining dependent from it of that
Indian cotton fabric printed in reds and blues which we use for bed
quilts. Every tent was carpeted with cotton dhurees, and completely
furnished with dressing-tables and chests of drawers, as well as
writing-table, sofa and arm-chairs; whilst there was a little covered
canvas porch outside, fitted with chairs in which to take the air, and
a small attendant satellite of a tent served as a bath-room, with big
tin tub and a little trench dug to carry the water away. Nothing could
be more complete, but I found my watchful old "bearer" already at work
raising all my trunks, gun-cases, and other possessions on little
stilts of bamboo, for his quick eye had detected signs of white ants.
By the end of our stay in camp I had reason to congratulate myself on
my faithful "bearer's" foresight, for none of my own things were
touched, whilst every one else was bemoaning the havoc the white ants
had played with their belongings. The guest-tents formed three sides
of a square facing the river, and in the centre of the open space
stood a large _shamyanah_, or flat-roofed tent with open sides,
which served as dining-room and general living-room. There are
certainly distinct advantages in a climate so settled that periods of
daily sunshine or of daily rain really form part of the calendar, and
can be predicted with mathematical certainty.

It so happened that the Census of 1891 was taken whilst we were in
camp, so I can give the exact number of retainers whom the Maharajah
brought with him. It totalled 473, including mahouts and
elephant-tenders, grooms, armourers, taxidermists, tailors,
shoemakers, a native doctor and a dispenser, and boatmen, not to
mention the Viennese conductor and the thirty-five members of the
orchestra, cooks, bakers, and table-waiters. The Maharajah certainly
did things on a grand scale. One of the English guests gave, with
perfect truth, his place of birth as required in the Indian Census
Return as "a first-class carriage on the London and North-Western
Railway, somewhere between Bletchley and Euston; the precise spot
being unnoticed either by myself or the other person principally
concerned."

The daily routine of life in the camp was something like this: We men
all rose at daybreak, some going for a ride, others endeavouring with
a spoon to lure the cunning mahseer in the swift-running river, or
going for a three-mile walk through the jungle tracks. Then a bath,
and breakfast followed at nine, when the various _shikaries_ came
in with their reports. Should a tiger have made a "kill," he would be
found, with any luck, during the heat of the day close to the body of
his victim. The "howdah" elephants would all be sent on to the
appointed rendezvous, the entire party going out to meet them on "pad"
elephants. I do not believe that more uncomfortable means of
progression could possibly be devised. A pad elephant has a large
mattress strapped on to its back, over which runs a network of stout
cords. Four or five people half-sit, half-recline on this mattress,
hanging on for dear life to the cord network. The European, being
unused to this attitude, will soon feel violent cramps shooting
through his limbs, added to which there is a disconcerting feeling of
instability in spite of the tightly grasped cords. Nothing, on the
other hand, can be more comfortable than a well-appointed howdah,
where one is quite alone except for the mahout perched on the
elephant's neck. The Maharajah's howdahs were all of cane-work, with a
softly padded seat and a leather-strap back, which yielded to the
motion of the great beast. In front was a gun-rack holding five guns
and rifles, and large pockets at the side thoughtfully contained
bottles of lemonade (the openers of which were _never_ forgotten)
and emergency packets of biscuits.

The Maharajah owned about sixty elephants, in which he took the
greatest pride, and he was most careful in providing his guests with
proved "tiger-staunch" animals. These were oddly enough invariably
lady-elephants, the males being apt to lose their heads in the
excitement of meeting their hereditary enemies, and consequently apt
to run amok.

My particular elephant, which I rode daily for five weeks, was an
elderly and highly respectable female named "Chota Begum." Had she
only happened to have been born without a tail, and with two legs
instead of four, she would have worn silver-rimmed spectacles and a
large cap with cherries in it; would have knitted stockings all day
long and have taken a deep interest in the Church Missionary Society.

I soon got on very friendly terms with "Chota Begum." She was
inordinately fond of oranges, which, of course, were difficult to
procure in the jungle, so I daily brought her a present of
half-a-dozen of these delicacies, supplementing the gift at
luncheon-time with a few bananas. Chota Begum was deeply touched by
these attentions, and one morning my mahout informed me that she
wished, out of gratitude, to lift me into the howdah with her trunk. I
cannot conceive how he found this out, but I naturally was averse to
wounding the elephant's feelings by refusing the proffered courtesy,
though I should infinitely have preferred getting into the howdah in
the ordinary manner. The mahout, after the mysterious manner of his
kind, was giving his charge minute directions to be very careful with
me, when I suddenly felt myself seized by Chota Begum's trunk, lifted
into the air, and held upside down at the extreme length of that
member, for, it seemed to me, at least five minutes. Rupees and small
change rained from my pockets to the ground, cigar case, cigarette
case, matches and cartridge extractor streamed down to earth in
clattering showers from their abiding places; the blood rushed to my
head till I was on the very verge of apoplexy, and still Chota Begum,
remembering her instructions to be careful, held me up aloft, until
slowly, very slowly indeed, she lowered me into the howdah, dizzy and
stupid with blood to the head. The attention was well-meant, but it
was distinctly not one to be repeated indefinitely. In my youth there
was a popular song recounting the misfortunes of one Mr. Brown:
  "Old man Brown, upside down,
  With his legs sticking up in the air";
but I never imagined that I should share his unpleasant experiences.

I never enquired too minutely as to how the "kubber" of the
whereabouts of a tiger was obtained, but I have a strong suspicion
that unhappy goats played a part in it, and that they were tethered in
different parts of the jungle, for, as we all know, "the bleating of
the kid excites the tiger."

A tiger being thus located by his "kill," the long line of beating
elephants, riderless except for their mahouts, goes crashing through
the burnt-up jungle-growth, until a trumpeting from one of the
elephants announces the neighbourhood of "stripes," for an elephant
has an abnormally keen sense of smell. The various guns are posted on
their elephants in any open spot where a good view of the beast can be
obtained when he breaks cover. I have explained elsewhere how I
personally always preferred an ordinary shot-gun loaded with a lead
ball, to a rifle for either tigers or bears. The reason being that
both these animals are usually shot at very close quarters whilst they
are moving rapidly. Time is lost in getting the sights of a rifle on
to a swift-moving objective, and there is so little time to lose, for
it is most inadvisable to wound a tiger without killing him; whereas
with a shot-gun one simply raises it, looks down the barrels and fires
as one would do at a rabbit, and a solid lead bullet has enormous
stopping power. I took with me daily in the howdah one shot-gun loaded
with ball, another with No. 5 shot for birds, an Express rifle, and
one of the Maharajah's terrific 4-bore elephant-rifles; this latter's
charge was 14-1/2 drachms of black powder; the kick seemed to break
every bone in one's shoulder, and I was frightened to death every time
that I fired it off.

On that Assam shoot I was quite extraordinarily lucky, for on the very
first day the beating elephants announced the presence of a tiger by
trumpeting almost at once, and suddenly, with a roar, a great streak
of orange and black leaped into the sunlight from the jungle straight
in front of me. The tiger came straight for my elephant, who stood
firm as a rock, and I waited with the smooth-bore till he got within
twenty feet of me and I knew that I could not possibly miss him, and
then fired at his shoulder. The tiger fell dead. This was a very easy
shot, but it did me great service with my mahout. These men, perched
as they are on the elephant's neck, carry their lives in their hand,
for should the tiger be wounded only, he will certainly make a spring
for the elephant's head, and then the mahout is a dead man.
Incidentally the "gun" in the howdah will not fare much better in that
case. The mahout, should he have but small confidence in his
passenger's marksmanship, will make the elephant fidget so that it
becomes impossible to fire.

Two days later we were beating a patch of jungle, when, through the
thick undergrowth, I could just see four legs, moving very, very
slowly amongst the reeds, the body above them being invisible. "Bagh"
(tiger), whispered the mahout, turning round. I was so excited that I
snatched up the heavy elephant-rifle instead of the Express, and fired
just above those slow-slouching legs. The big rifle went off with a
noise like an air-raid, and knocked me with mangled shoulder-blades
into the seat of the howdah. I was sure that I had missed altogether,
and thought no more about it, but when the beat came up half an hour
later, a huge tiger was lying there stone dead. That, of course, was
an absolute piece of luck, a mere fluke, as I had never even seen the
brute. As soon as the Maharajah and his men had examined the big
tiger's teeth they at once pronounced him a man-eater, and there was
great rejoicing, for a man-eating tiger had been taking toll of the
villagers in one of the jungle clearings. I believe that tigers only
take to eating men when they are growing old and their teeth begin to
fail them, a man being easier to catch than a bullock or goat. The
skins of these two tigers have lain on my drawing-room carpet for
thirty years now.

On our second day the Maharajah shot a leopard. He was only wounded,
and I have never seen an animal fight so fiercely or with such
indomitable courage. Of course, the whole cat-tribe are very tenacious
of life, but that leopard had five bullets in him, and still he roared
and hissed and spat, though his life was ebbing from him fast. We must
have worked round in a circle nearer to the camp, for whilst we were
watching the leopard's furious fight the strains of the Maharajah's
orchestra practising "The Gondoliers," floated down-wind to us quite
clearly. I remember it well, for as we dismounted to look at the dead
beast the cornet solo, "Take a pair of sparkling eyes," began. There
was such a startling incongruity between an almost untrodden virgin
jungle in Assam, with a dead leopard lying in the foreground, and that
familiar strain of Sullivan's, so beloved of amateur tenors, that it
gave a curious sense of unreality to the whole scene.

This admirable orchestra made the evenings very pleasant. We put on
white ties and tail-coats every night for dinner in the open
_shamyanah_, where the Maharajah provided us with an excellent
European repast served on solid silver plates. As the endless
resources of this wonderful camp included an ice-making machine, he
also gave us iced champagne every evening. As an example of how
thorough the Maharajah was in his arrangements, he had brought three
of his _mallees_, or native gardeners, with him, their sole
function being to gather wild jungle-flowers daily, and to decorate
the tables and tents with them.

Neither the Maharajah nor his family ever touched any of the European
food, though, as they were not Hindoos, but belonged to the
Bramo-Somaj religion, there were no caste-laws to prevent their doing
so. Half-way through dinner the servants brought in large square
silver boxes, some of rice, others of various curries: hot curries,
dry curries, Ceylon curries, and green vegetable curries; these
constituted their dinner, and most excellent they were.

I really must pay a tribute to the graceful and delightful Maharanee,
who presided with such dignity and charm at these gatherings. I had
first met the Maharanee in London, in 1887, at the festivities in
connection with Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The Maharanee, the daughter
of a very ancient Bengal family, was then quite young. She had only
emerged "from behind the curtain," as natives of India say, for six
months. In other words, she had just emancipated herself from the
seclusion of the Zenana, where she had lived since her marriage. She
had then very delicate features, and most lovely eyes, with
exquisitely moulded hands and arms. Very wisely she had not adopted
European fashions in their entirety, but had retained the becoming
_saree_ of gold or silver tissue or brocade, throwing the end of
it over her head as a veil, and looking perfectly charming in it.
Everything in England must have seemed strange to her, the climate,
the habits, and the mode of living, and yet this little Princess
behaved as though she had been used to it all her life, and still
managed to retain the innate dignity of the high-caste native lady.

As one travels through life certain pictures remain vividly clear-cut
in the memory. The evenings in that shooting-camp are amongst these. I
can still imagine myself strolling with an extremely comely lady along
the stretches of natural lawn that crowned the bluff above the river,
the gurgle and splashing of the stream loud in our ears as we looked
over the unending expanse of jungle below us, vast and full of mystery
under the brilliant moonlight of India. In India the moonlight is
golden, not silvery as with us. The great grey sea of scrub, with an
occasional prominent tree catching this golden light on its clear-cut
outline, had something awe-inspiring about it, for here one was face
to face with real Nature. A faint and distant roar was also a reminder
that the jungle had its inhabitants, and through it all came the
quaintly incongruous strains of the orchestra playing a selection from
"The Mikado":

  "My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time,
   To make the punishment fit the crime,
   The punishment fit the crime."

The moonlit jungle night-scene, and the familiar air with its London
associations were such endless thousands of miles apart.

On the floor of my drawing-room, in Westminster, the skin of a bear
reposes close to those of two tigers. This is how he came there: We
were at breakfast when _kubber_ of a bear only two miles away was
brought in. The Maharajah at once ordered the howdah-elephants round.
Opposite me on the breakfast-table stood a large plate of buns, which
the camp baker made most admirably. Ever since my earliest childhood I
had gone on every possible occasion to the Zoological Gardens in
Regent's Park, and was therefore in a position to know what was the
favourite food of the ursine race. That they did not exist on buns in
the jungle was due to a lack of opportunity rather than to a lack of
inclination, so I argued that the dainty would prove just as
irresistible to a bear in the jungle as it did to his brethren in the
big pit near the entrance to the Zoo, and ignoring the rather cheap
gibes of the rest of the party, I provided myself with half-a-dozen
buns, three of which I attached by long strings to the front of my
howdah, where they swung about like an edible pawnbroker's sign. The
bear was lying in a very small patch of bamboo, and broke cover at
once. As I had anticipated, the three swinging buns proved absolutely
irresistible to him. He came straight up to me, I shot him with a
smooth-bore, and he is most decorative in his present position, but it
was all due to the buns. The Maharajah told me, much to my surprise,
that far more natives were killed by bears than by tigers in that part
of India.

The jungle was very diversified: in places it consisted of flat
tablelands of scrub, varied with broad open spaces broken by thick
clumps ("topes" they are called by Anglo-Indians) of bamboo. In other
parts there were rocky ravines covered with forest growth, and on the
low ground far-stretching and evil-smelling swamps spread themselves,
the home of the rhinoceros and water buffalo.

I had no idea of an elephant's climbing powers. These huge beasts make
their way quite easily up rocky ascents no horse could negotiate. In
coming down steep declivities, the wise creatures extend their
hind-legs, using them as brakes. Cautious old Chota Begum would never
ford any river without sounding the depth with her trunk at every
step. On one occasion two of the Maharajah's fishermen were paddling
native dug-outs down-stream as we approached a river. Chota Begum, who
had never before seen a dug-out, took them for crocodiles, trumpeted
loudly with alarm, and refused to enter the water until they were
quite out of sight. The curious intelligence of the animal is seen
when they are ordered to remove a tree which blocks the road. Chota
Begum would place her right foot against the trunk and give a little
tentative shove. Not satisfied with the leverage, she would shift her
foot again and again until she had found the right spot, then,
throwing her whole weight on to her foot, the tree would snap off like
a wooden match.

There was a great amount of bird-life in the jungle. It abounded in
peacocks, and these birds are a glorious sight sailing down-wind
through the sunlight with their tails streaming behind them, at a pace
which would leave any pheasant standing. As peacocks are regarded as
sacred by Hindoos, the Maharajah had particularly begged us not to
shoot any. There were plenty of other birds, snipe, partridges,
florican and jungle-cocks, the two latter greatly esteemed for their
flesh. I shot a jungle-cock, and was quite disappointed at finding him
a facsimile of our barndoor game-cock, for I had imagined that he
would have the velvety black wing starred with cream-coloured eyes,
which we associate with the "jungle-cock wing" of salmon flies. The
so-called "jungle-cock" in a "Jock Scott" fly is furnished by a bird
found, I believe, only round Madras. An animal peculiar to this part
of Assam is the pigmy hob, the smallest of the swine family. These
little beasts, no larger than guinea-pigs, go about in droves of about
fifty, and move through the grass with such incredible rapidity that
the eye is unable to follow them. The elephants, oddly enough, are
scared to death by the pigmy hogs, for the little creatures have
tushes as sharp as razors, and gash the elephants' feet with them as
they run past them.

I think that we all regretted the Maharajah's keenness about
water-buffalo and rhinos, for this entailed long days of plodding on
elephants through steamy, fetid swamps, where the grass was twenty
feet high and met over one's head, where the heat was intolerable,
without one breath of air, and the mosquitoes maddening. A day in the
swamps entailed, too, a big dose of quinine at bedtime. Between
ourselves, I was terrified at the prospect of having to fire off the
heavy four-bore elephant-rifle. The "kick" of fourteen-and-a-half
drachms of black-powder is tremendous, and one's shoulder ached for
two hours afterwards, though I do not regret the "kick" in surveying
the water-buffalo which has hung now in my hall for thirty years. I
have only seen two wild rhinoceroses in my life, and of the first one
I had only a very brief glimpse. We were outside the swamp, when down
a jungle-track came a charging rhinoceros, his head down and an evil
look in his eye. One look was enough for Chota Begum. That most
respectable of old ladies had quite evidently no love for rhinos. She
lost her nerve completely, and ran away for two miles as hard as her
ungainly limbs could lay leg to the ground. It is no joke to be on a
runaway elephant maddened with fright, and it is extremely difficult
to keep one's seat. The mahout and I hung on with both hands for dear
life, the guns and rifles crashing together with a deafening clamour
of ironmongery, and I was most thankful that there were no trees
anywhere near, for the terrified animal's first impulse would have
been to knock off both howdah and mahout under the overhanging branch
of a tree. When Chota Begum at length pulled up, she had to listen to
some terrible home-truths about her ancestry from the mahout, who was
bitterly disappointed in his beloved charge. As to questions of
lineage, and the morals of Chota Begum's immediate progenitors, I can
only hope that the mahout exaggerated, for he certainly opened up
appalling perspectives. Any old lady would have got scared at seeing
so hideous a monster preparing to rip her open, and under the
circumstances you and I would have run away just as fast as Chota
Begum did.

The only other wild rhinoceros I ever saw was on the very last day of
our stay in Assam. We were returning home on elephants, when they
began to trumpet loudly, as we approached a little dip. My nephew,
General Sir Henry Streatfeild, called out to me to be ready, as there
was probably a bear in the hollow. Next moment a rhinoceros charged
out and made straight for his elephant. Sir Henry fired with a heavy
four-bore rifle, and by an extraordinary piece of good luck hit the
rhino in the one little spot where he is vulnerable, otherwise he must
have been killed. The huge beast rolled over like a shot hare,
stone-dead.

One evening on our way back to camp, we thought that we would ride our
elephants ourselves, and told the mahouts to get down. They had no
fancy for walking two miles back to camp, and accordingly, in some
mysterious manner of which they have the secret, gave their charges
private but definite orders. I seated myself on Chota Begum's neck,
put my feet in the string stirrups, and took the big _ankus_ in
my hand. The others did the same. I then ordered Chota Begum to go on,
using the exact words the mahout did. Chota Begum commenced walking
round and round in a small circle, and the eight other elephants all
did the same. I tried cajoling her as the mahout did, and assured her
that she was a "Pearl" and my "Heart's Delight." Chota Begum continued
walking round and round in a small circle, as did all the other
elephants. I changed my tactics, and made the most unmerited
insinuations as to her mother's personal character, at the same time
giving her a slight hint with the blunt end of the _ankus_. Chota Begum
continued stolidly walking round and round. Meanwhile language most
unsuited to a Sunday School arose from other members of the party, who
were also careering round and round in small circles. Finally an Irish
A.D.C. summed up the situation by crying, "These mahouts have us beat,"
whereupon we capitulated, and a simultaneous shout went up, "Ohe,
Mahout-log!" It is but seldom that one sees a native of India laughing,
but those mahouts, when they emerged from the cover of some bamboos,
were simply bent double with laughter. How they had conveyed their
wishes to the elephants beats me still.

The best of things must come to an end, and so did the Cooch Behar
shoot. It is an experience that I would not have missed for anything,
especially as I am now too old to hope to be able to repeat it.

The Maharajah was good enough to invite me again the next year, 1892,
but by that time I was seated in an editorial chair, and could not
leave London. In the place of the brilliant sunshine of Assam, the
grimy, murky London atmosphere; instead of the distant roars from the
jungle, the low thunder of the big "machines" in the basement, as they
began to revolve, grinding out fresh reading-matter for the insatiable
British public.

The memories, however, remain. Blazing sunlight; splendid sport;
endless tracts of khaki-coloured jungle; princely hospitality;
pleasant fellowship; cheery company.

What more can any one ask?




CHAPTER II

Mighty Kinchinjanga--The inconceivable splendours of a Himalayan
sunrise--The last Indian telegraph-office--The irrepressible British
Tommy--An improvised garden--An improvised Durbar Hall--A splendid
ceremony--A native dinner--The disguised Europeans--Our shocking
table-manners--Incidents--Two impersonations; one successful, the
other reverse--I come off badly--Indian jugglers--The rope-trick--The
juggler, the rope, and the boy--An inexplicable incident--A performing
cobra scores a success--Ceylon "Devil Dancers"--Their performance--The
Temple of the Tooth--The uncovering of the Tooth--Details
concerning--An abominable libel--Tea and coffee--Peradeniya
Gardens--The upas tree of Java--Colombo an Eastern Clapham
Junction--The French lady and the savages--The small Bermudian and the
inhabitants of England.


During our early morning walks through the jungle-tracts of Assam, on
clear days we occasionally caught a brief glimpse of a glittering
white cone on the horizon. This was mighty Kinchinjanga, the second
highest mountain in the world, distant then from us I should be afraid
to say how many miles.

To see Kinchinjanga to perfection, one must go to Darjeeling. What a
godsend this cool hill-station is to Calcutta, for in twenty hours the
par-boiled Europeans by the Hooghly can find themselves in a
temperature like that of an English April. At Silliguri, where the
East Bengal Railway ends, some humorist has erected, close to the
station, a sign-post inscribed "To Lhassa 359 miles." The sign-post
has omitted to state that this entails an ascent of 16,500 feet. The
Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, an intrepid little mountain-climber,
looks as though it had come out of a toy-shop, for the gauge is only
two feet, and the diminutive engines and carriages could almost be
pulled about with a string. As the little train pants its leisurely
way up 6000 feet, it is worth while noticing how the type of the
country people changes. The brown-skinned Aryan type of the plains is
soon replaced by the yellow, flat-faced Mongolian type of the hills,
and the women actually have a tinge of red in their cheeks.

The first time that I was at Darjeeling it was veiled in perpetual
mists; on the last occasion, to compensate for this, there were ten
days of continual clear weather. Then it is that it is worth while
getting up at 5.30 a.m. and going down into a frost-nipped garden,
there to wait patiently in the dark. In the eastern sky there is that
faintest of jade-green glimmers, known as the "false dawn"; below it
the deep valleys are still wrapped in dark purple shadows, when quite
suddenly Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn," _rododachtulos Aeos_, (was
ever more beautiful epithet coined?) lays one shy, tentative
finger-tip of blazing, flaming crimson on a vast unseen bulk, towering
up 28,000 feet into the air. Then quickly comes a second flaming
finger-tip, and a third, until you are fronting a colossal pyramid of
the most intensely vivid rose-colour imaginable. It is a glorious
sight! Suddenly, in one minute, the crimson splendour is replaced by
the most dazzling, intense white, and as much as the eye can grasp of
the two-thousand-mile-long mountain-rampart springs into light, peak
after peak, blazing with white radiance, whilst the world below is
still slumbering in the half-shadows, and the valleys are filled with
purple darkness. I do not believe that there is any more splendidly
sublime sight to be seen in the whole world. For a while the eternal
snows, unchanging in their calm majesty, dominate the puny world
below, and then, because perhaps it would not be good to gaze for long
on so magnificent a spectacle, the mists fall and the whole scene is
blotted out, leaving in the memory a revelation of unspeakable
grandeur. I saw this sunrise daily for a week, and its glories seemed
greater every day. For some reason that I cannot explain it always
recalled to me a passage in Job xxxviii, "When the morning stars sang
together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."

No one has ever yet succeeded in scaling Kinchinjanga, and I do not
suppose that any one ever will.

Darjeeling itself, in spite of its magnificent surroundings, looks
like a portion of a transplanted London suburb, but there is a certain
piquancy in reflecting that it is only fifteen miles from the borders
of Tibet. The trim, smug villas of Dalhousie and Auckland Roads may
have electric light, and neat gardens full of primroses; fifteen miles
away civilisation, as we understand the term, ends. There are neither
roads, post-offices, telegraphs nor policemen; these tidy commonplace
"Belle Vues," "Claremonts" and "Montpeliers" are on the very threshold
of the mysterious Forbidden Land. An Army doctor told me that he had
been up at the last frontier telegraph-office of India. It is well
above the line of snows, and one would imagine it a terrible place of
captivity for the Sergeant and four Privates (all white men) in charge
of it, but the spirits of the British Tommy are unquenchable. The men
had amused themselves by painting notices, and the perpetual snow
round the telegraph-office was dotted with boards: "this way to the
swings and boats"; "the public are requested not to walk on the newly
sown grass"; "try our famous shilling teas"; "all season-tickets must
be shown at the barrier," and many more like them. It takes a great
deal to depress the average British soldier.

Natives of India are extraordinarily good at "camouflaging" improvised
surroundings, for they have been used to doing it for centuries. I was
once talking to Lord Kitchener at his official house in Fort William,
Calcutta, when he asked me to come and have a look at the garden. He
informed me that he was giving a garden-party to fifteen hundred
guests in three days' time, and wondered whether the space were
sufficient for it. I told him that I was certain that it was not, and
that I doubted whether half that number could get in. "Very well,"
said Lord Kitchener, "I shall have the whole of the Fort ditch turned
into a garden to-morrow." Next day he had eight hundred coolies at
work. They levelled the rough sand, marked out with pegs walks of
pounded bricks, which they flattened, sowed the sand with mustard and
cress and watered it abundantly to counterfeit lawns, and finally
brought cartloads of growing flowers, shrubs and palms, which they
"plunged" in the mustard-and-cress lawns, and in thirty-six hours
there was a garden apparently established for years. It is true that
the mustard-and-cress lawns did not bear close inspection, but, on the
other hand, you could eat them, which you cannot do with ours. Lord
Kitchener was fond of saying that he had never been intended for a
soldier, but for an architect and house-decorator. Certainly the
additions made to his official house, which were all carried out from
his own designs, were very effective and in excellent taste.

In a country like India, where so much takes place out of doors,
wonderful effects can be produced, as Lord Kitchener said, with some
rupees, some native boys, and a good many yards of insulated wire. The
boys are sent climbing up the trees; they drop long pieces of twine to
which the electric wires are tied; they haul them up, and proceed to
wire the trees and to fix coloured bulbs up to their very tops. Night
comes; a switch is pressed, and every tree in the garden is a blaze of
ruby, sapphire, or emerald, with the most admirable result.

Lord Minto was holding a large Investiture of the "Star of India" the
last time that I was in Calcutta. He wished to have at least two
thousand people present, and large as are the rooms at Government
House, not one of them would contain anything like that number, so
Lord Minto had an immense canvas Durbar Hall constructed. Here again
the useful factor comes in of knowing to a day when the earliest
possible shower of rain is due. The tent, a huge flat-topped
"Shamyana," was, when finished, roughly paved with bricks, over which
were spread priceless Persian and Indian carpets from the "Tosho
Khana" or Treasury. The sides and roof were stretched at one end with
sulphur-coloured Indian silk, at the other with pale blue silk, the
yellow silk with a two-foot border of silver tinsel, the blue edged
with gold tinsel. Cunning craftsmen from Agra fashioned "camouflage"
doorways and columns of plaster, coloured and gilt in the style of the
arabesques in the Alhambra, and the thing was done; almost literally,

  "Out of the earth a fabric huge
  Rose like an exhalation,"

and it would be impossible to imagine a more splendid setting for a
great pageant. Some one on the Viceroy's staff must have had a great
gift for stage-management, for every detail had been carefully thought
out. The scarlet and gold of the Troopers of the Body-guard, standing
motionless as brown statues, the mace-men with their gilt standards,
the entry of the Rajahs, all in full gala costume, with half the
amount of our pre-war National Debt hanging round their necks in the
shape of diamonds and of uncut rubies and emeralds, the Knights of the
Star of India in their pale-blue mantles, the Viceroy seated on his
silver-gilt throne at the top of a flight of steps, on which all the
Durbar carpets of woven gold were displayed, made, under the blaze of
electric light, an amazingly gorgeous spectacle only possible in the
East, and it would be difficult for any European to have equalled the
immense dignity of the Native Princes.

Custom forbids the Viceroy's wife to dine out, but it had been long
agreed between Lady Lansdowne and the Maharanee of Cooch Behar, that
should she ever return to India as a private person she should come to
a dinner served native fashion, "on the floor." My sister having
returned to Calcutta for her son's marriage in 1909, the Maharanee
reminded her of this promise. Upon arriving at the house, Lady
Lansdowne and two other European ladies were conducted up-stairs to be
arrayed in native garb, whilst the Maharajah's sons with great glee
took charge of myself, of yet another nephew of mine, and of the
Viceroy's head aide-de-camp. Although it can hardly be taken as a
compliment, truth compels me to confess that the young Cooch Behars
considered my figure reminiscent of that of a Bengalee gentleman. With
some slight shock to my modesty, I was persuaded to discard my
trousers, being draped in their place with over thirty yards of white
muslin, wound round and round, and in and out of my lower limbs. A
dark blue silk tunic, and a flat turban completed my transformation
into a Bengalee country squire, or his equivalent. My nephew, being
very slight and tall, was at once turned into a Sikh, with skin-tight
trousers, a very high turban, and the tightest of cloth-of-gold
tunics, whilst the other young man, a good-looking dark young fellow,
became a Rajput prince, and shimmered with silver brocades. I must own
that European ladies do not show up to advantage in the native
_saree_. Their colouring looks all wrong, and they have not the
knack of balancing their unaccustomed draperies. Our ladies all looked
as though they were terrified that their voluminous folds would
suddenly slip off (which, indeed, they owned was the case), leaving
them most indelicately lightly clad. One could not help observing the
contrast between the nervousness of the three European ladies, draped
respectively in white and gold, pink and silver, and blue and gold,
and the grace with which the Maharanee, with the ease of long
practice, wore her becoming _saree_ of brown and cloth of gold. As
it had been agreed that strict native fashion was to be observed, we
were all shoeless. The Maharanee, laughing like a child, sprinkled us
with rose-water, and threw garlands of flowers and wreaths of tinsel
round our necks. I felt like a walking Christmas-tree as we went down
to dinner.

Round a large, empty, marble-paved room, twelve little red-silk beds
were disposed, one for each guest. In front of each bed stood an
assemblage of some thirty silver bowls, big and little, all grouped
round a large silver platter, piled a foot high with a pyramid of
rice. This was the entire dinner, and there were, of course, neither
knives nor forks. No one who has not tried it can have any idea of the
difficulty of plunging the right hand into a pile of rice, of
attempting to form a ball of it, and then dipping it at haphazard into
one of the silver bowls of mysterious preparations. Very little of my
rice ever reached my mouth, for it insisted on spreading itself
greasily over the marble floor, and I was gratified at noting that the
European ladies managed no better than I did. Added to which,
half-lying, half-reclining on the little silk beds, the unaccustomed
European gets attacked by violent cramps; one is also conscious of the
presence of bones in the most unexpected portions of one's anatomy,
and these bones begin aching furiously in the novel position. Some
native dishes are excellent; others must certainly be acquired tastes.
For instance, after a long course of apprenticeship one might be in a
position to appreciate snipe stewed in rose-water, and I am convinced
that asafoetida as a dressing to chicken must be delicious to those
trained to it from their infancy. A quaint sweet, compounded of
cocoa-nut cream and rose-water, and gilded all over with gold-leaf,
lingers in my memory. As hands naturally get greasy, eating in this
novel fashion, two servants were constantly ready with a silver basin
and a long-necked silver ewer, with which to pour water over soiled
hands. This basin and ewer delighted me, for in shape they were
exactly like the ones that "the little captive maid" was offering to
Naaman's wife in a picture which hung in my nursery as a child, I
liked watching the graceful play of the wrists and arms of the
Maharanee and her daughters as they conveyed food to their mouths; it
was a contrast to the clumsy, ineffectual efforts of the Europeans.

The aide-de-camp looked so wonderfully natural as a Rajput prince (and
that, too, without any brown make-up) that we wished him to dress-up
in the same clothes next day and to go and write his name on the
Viceroy, to see if he could avoid detection.

These sorts of impersonations have to be done very thoroughly if they
are to succeed. I have recounted elsewhere how my father won the
rowing championship of the Mediterranean with his four-oar, in 1866.
The course being such a severe one, his crew had to train very
rigorously. It occurred to my father, who was extremely fond of boxing
himself, that a little daily practice with the gloves might with
advantage form part of the training. He accordingly had four pairs of
boxing-gloves sent out from England, and he and the crew had daily
bouts in our coach-house. The Duc de Vallombrosa was a great friend of
my family's, and used to watch this boxing with immense interest. The
Duc was a huge man, very powerfully built, but had had no experience
with the gloves. The present Sir David Erskine was the youngest member
of the crew, and was very slender and light built, and it struck my
father one day that it would be interesting to see this comparative
stripling put on the gloves with the great burly Frenchman. Sir David
realised that his only chance with his huge brawny opponent was to
tire him out, for should this formidable Colossus once get home on
him, he would be done. He made great play with his foot-work, skipping
round his big opponent and pommelling every inch of his anatomy that
he could reach, and successfully dodging the smashing blows that his
slow-moving antagonist tried to deal him. Suddenly, and quite
unexpectedly, the big Frenchman collapsed. The Duc de Vallombrosa took
his defeat in the most sportsmanlike fashion, but he remembered who
had originally proposed the match.

A week later my father was riding home from a picnic with some
ladies. As their horses were tired, he proposed that they should save
a long round by riding along the railway line and over a railway
bridge. The Due de Vallombrosa heard of this. Some few nights later
two gendarmes in full uniform appeared at our villa after dark, and
the bigger of the two demanded in the most peremptory fashion to be
taken in to my father at once, leaving the younger one to watch the
front door, where we could all see him marching up and down. When
ushered in to my father, the gendarme, a huge, fiercely bearded man,
adopted the most truculent manner. It had come to the knowledge of the
police, he said, that my father had ridden on horse-back over a
railway bridge, and along the line. Did he admit it? My father at once
owned that he had done so, but pleaded ignorance, should he have
broken any rule. Ignorance was no excuse, retorted the gendarme, even
foreigners were supposed to know the law. The big bearded gendarme,
whose tone became more hectoring and bullying every moment, went on to
say that my father had broken Article 382 of the French Penal Code, a
very serious offence indeed, punishable with from three to six months'
imprisonment. My father smiled, and drawing out his pocket-book, said
that he imagined that the offence could be compounded. The stern
officer of the law grew absolutely furious; did my father suppose that
a French gendarme could be bribed into forgetting his duty? He would
now take my father to the lock-up to pass the night there until the
_proces verbal_ should be drawn up, and though he regretted it,
his orders in similar cases were always to handcuff his prisoners. The
family, who had gathered together on hearing the loud altercation,
were struck with consternation. The idea of our parent being led in
fetters through a French town, and then flung into a French dungeon,
was so unspeakably painful to us that we were nearly throwing
ourselves at the big policeman's feet to implore him to spare our
progenitor, when the burly gendarme suddenly pulled off his false
beard, revealing the extensive but familiar features of the Duc de
Vallombrosa. The second slight-built gendarme at the door, proved to
be General Sir George Higginson, most admirably made up. My father
insisted on the two gendarmes dining with us. As our servants were not
in the secret, the presence of two French policemen in uniform at the
family dinner-table must have rather surprised them.

I must plead guilty myself to another attempt at impersonation. During
my father's second term of office as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, my
mother had a severe nervous breakdown, due to the unexpected death of
a very favourite sister of mine. One of the principal duties of a Lord
Lieutenant is (or rather was) to entertain ceaselessly, and private
mourning was not supposed to interfere with this all-important task.
So, after a respite of four months, the endless round of dinners,
dances, and balls recommenced, but my mother could not forget her
loss, and had no heart for any festivities, nor did she wish to meet
strangers. My father took a house for her on the sea-coast near
Dublin, to which she retired, and my only remaining unmarried sister
took, with Queen Victoria's permission, my mother's place as Lady
Lieutenant for two years.

A brother cannot be an impartial judge of his sister's personal
appearance, but I have always understood that my seven sisters were
regarded by most people as ranking only second to the peerless
Moncrieffe sisters as regards beauty. Certainly I thought this
particular sister, the late Lady Winterton, surpassed the others in
outward appearance, for she had beautiful and very refined features,
and the most exquisite skin and complexion. I thought her a most
lovely apparition when covered with my mother's jewels.

In those days (how far off they seem!) one of the great events of the
Dublin Season was the Gala-night at the theatre, or "Command Night" as
it was called, when all the men wore uniform or Court dress, and the
ladies their very best clothes. When the Lord and Lady Lieutenant
entered the State box, attended by the various members of their
Household, the audience stood up, the band playing "God Save the
Queen!" (yes, that was in Dublin in 1875!), and the Viceregal pair
then bowed their acknowledgments to the house from their box.

On the "Command Night" in 1875 my sister took my mother's place, and,
as I have already said, diamonds were exceedingly becoming to her.
According to custom, she went to the front of the box, and made a low
sweeping curtsey to the audience. Ten days later she received a letter
from an unknown correspondent, together with a photograph of a portly
elderly man with large grey whiskers. He had been taken in an unusual
position, for he was making a low bow and holding his high hat at
arm's length from him. The writer explained that on the Command Night
my sister had bowed to him in the most marked way. So taken aback was
he, that he had not acknowledged it. He, therefore, to make amends,
had had himself photographed in an attitude of perpetual salutation.
Other letters rained in on my sister from the eccentric individual,
and he sent her almost weekly fresh presentments of his
unprepossessing exterior, but always in a bowing attitude. We made,
naturally, inquiries about this person, and found that he was an
elderly widower, a hatter by trade, who had retired from business
after making a considerable fortune, and was living in Rathmines, a
South Dublin suburb. The hatter was undoubtedly mad, a mental
infirmity for which there is, of course, ample precedent in the case
of gentlemen of his profession.

On one occasion, when my sister was leaving for England, the hatter,
having purchased a number of fireworks, chartered a rowing-boat, and
as the mail-steamer cleared the Kingstown pier-heads, a _bouquet_
of rockets and Roman candles coruscated before the eyes of the
astonished passengers. I was then eighteen, and as none of us had set
eyes on the hatter, it occurred to me that it would be rather fun to
impersonate him, so, taking a photograph with me as guide, I got his
bald grey head and long grey whiskers accurately copied by a Dublin
theatrical wig-maker. It would have been difficult to carry out my
idea at the Viceregal Lodge, for in the hall there, in addition to the
regular hall-porter, there was always a constable in uniform and a
plain-clothes man on duty, to prevent the entry of unauthorised
persons, so I waited until we had moved to Baron's Court. Here I made
careful preparations, and arranged to dress and makeup at the house of
the Head-Keeper, a great ally of mine. I was met here by a hack-car
ordered from the neighbouring town, and drove up to the front door
armed with a nosegay the size of a cart-wheel, composed of dahlias,
hollyhocks and sunflowers. I gave the hatter's name at the door, and
was ushered by the unsuspecting footman into a library, where I waited
an interminable time--with my gigantic bouquet in my hand. At length
the door opened, but instead of my sister, as I had anticipated, it
admitted my father, and my father had a hunting-crop in his hand, and
to the crop was attached a heavy thong. His first words left me in no
doubt as to his attitude. "So, sir," he thundered, "you are the
individual who has had the impertinence to pester my daughter with
your attentions. I am going to give you, sir, a lesson that you will
remember to the end of your life," and the crop was lifted.
Fortunately the room was crowded with furniture, so, crouching between
tables, and dodging behind sofas, I was able to elude the thong until
I had tugged my wig off. The spirit-gum manufactured in those days must
have been vastly superior to that made now, for nothing would induce
my whiskers to part company with my face. Yelling out my identity, in
spite of the hatter's tactlessly adhesive whiskers, I made one bolt
for the open window, having successfully evaded the whirling crop
every time, but it was a lamentably tame ending to a carefully planned
drama.

Remembering these family incidents, we decided that it would be as
well to abandon the idea of a visit to Government House by a
distinguished Rajput nobleman.

I may possibly have been unfortunate in my personal experiences of
Indian jugglers, but I have never seen them perform any trick that was
difficult of explanation. For instance, the greatly over-rated Mango
trick, as I have seen it, was an almost childish performance. Having
made his heap of sand, inserted the mango-stone, and watered it, the
juggler covered it with a large basket, and _put his hands under the
basket_. He did this between each stage of the growth of the tree.
The plants in their various stages of growth were, of course, twisted
round the inside of the basket, and he merely substituted one for
another.

Colonel Barnard, at one time Chief of Police in Calcutta, told me a
most curious story. We have all heard of the Indian "rope-trick," but
none of us have met a person who actually saw it with his own eyes:
the story never reaches us at first-hand, but always at second- or
third-hand, exactly like the accounts one heard from credulous people
in 1914 of the passage of the 75,000 Russian soldiers through England.
No one had actually seen them, but every one knew somebody else whose
wife's cousin had actually conversed with these mysterious Muscovites,
or had seen trains with closely veiled windows rushing at dead of
night towards London, crammed to overflowing with Russian warriors.

In the same way Colonel Barnard had never met an eye-witness of the
rope-trick, but his policemen had received orders to report to him the
arrival in Calcutta of any juggler professing to do it. At length one
of the police informed him that a man able to perform the trick had
reached Calcutta. He would show it on one condition: that Colonel
Barnard should be accompanied by one friend only. The Colonel took
with him one of his English subordinates; he also took with him his
Kodak, into which he had inserted a new roll of films. They arrived at
a poor house in the native quarter, where they were ushered into a
small courtyard thick with the dense smoke arising from two braziers
burning mysterious compounds. The juggler, naked except for his
loin-cloth, appeared and commenced salaaming profoundly, continuing
his exaggerated salaams for some little while. Eventually he produced
a long coil of rope. To Colonel Barnard's inexpressible surprise, the
rope began paying away, as sailors would say, out of the juggler's
hand of its own accord, and went straight up into the air. Colonel
Barnard kodaked it. It went up and up, till their eyes could no longer
follow it. Colonel Barnard kodaked it again. Then a small boy,
standing by the juggler, commenced climbing up this rope, suspended to
nothing, supported by nothing. He was kodaked. The boy went up and up,
till he disappeared from view. The smoke from the herbs smouldering in
the braziers seemed almost to blot out the courtyard from view. The
juggler, professing himself angry with the boy for his dilatoriness,
started in pursuit of him up this rope, hanging on nothing. He was
kodaked, too. Finally the man descended the rope, and wiped a
blood-stained knife, explaining that he had killed the boy for
disobeying his orders. He then pulled the rope down and coiled it up,
and suddenly the boy reappeared, and together with his master, began
salaaming profoundly. The trick was over.

The two Europeans returned home absolutely mystified. With their own
eyes they had seen the impossible, the incredible. Then Colonel
Barnard went into his dark room and developed his negatives, with an
astounding result. _Neither the juggler, nor the boy, nor the rope
had moved at all_. The photographs of the ascending rope, of the
boy climbing it, and of the man following him, were simply blanks,
showing the details of the courtyard and nothing else. Nothing
whatever had happened, but how, in the name of all that is wonderful
had the impression been conveyed to two hard-headed, matter-of-fact
Englishmen? Possibly the braziers contained cunning preparations of
hemp or opium, unknown to European science, or may have been burning
some more subtle brain-stealer; possibly the deep salaams of the
juggler masked hypnotic passes, but somehow he had forced two
Europeans to see what he wished them to see.

On one occasion in Colombo, in Ceylon, there was an unrehearsed
episode in a juggler's performance. I was seated on the verandah of
the Grand Oriental Hotel which was crowded with French passengers from
an outward-bound Messageries boat which had arrived that morning. A
snake-charmer was showing off his tricks and reaping a rich harvest.
The juggler went round with his collecting bowl, leaving his
performing cobras in their basket. One cobra, probably devoid of the
artistic temperament, or finding stage-life uncongenial to him,
hungered for freedom, and, leaving his basket, glided swiftly on to
the crowded verandah. He certainly occupied the middle of the stage at
that moment and had the "spot-light" full on him, for every eye was
riveted on the snake, and never was such a scene of consternation
witnessed. Every one jumped on to the tables, women fainted and
screamed, and the Frenchmen, for some unknown reason, all drew their
revolvers. It turned out afterwards that the performing cobras had all
had their poison-fangs drawn, and were consequently harmless.

Its inhabitants declare that Ceylon is the most beautiful island in
the world. Those who have seen Jamaica will, I think, dispute this
claim, though Kandy, nestling round its pretty little lake, and
surrounded by low hills, is one of the loveliest spots imaginable. It
is also the most snake-infested spot I ever set foot in.

The Colonial Secretary, Sir Hugh Clifford, whom I had previously met
in Trinidad, had succeeded with some difficulty in persuading a band
of "Devil Dancers" to leave their jungle fastnesses, and to give an
exhibition of their uncanny dances in his garden; for, as a rule,
these people dislike any Europeans seeing them engaged in their
mysterious rites. The Colonial Secretary's dining-room was as
picturesque in its setting as any stage scene. The room was surrounded
with open arches, through which peeped the blue-velvet night sky and
dim silhouettes of unfamiliar tropical growths; in the place of
electric or mechanical punkahs, a tall red-and-gold clad Cingalee
stood behind every guest waving continuously a long-handled, painted
palm-leaf fan. The simultaneous rhythmic motion of the fans recalled
the temple scene at the end of the first Act of _Aida_. We found
the "Devil Dancers" grouped in the garden, some thirty in number. The
men were all short and very dark-skinned; they wore a species of kilt
made of narrow strips of some white metal, which clashed furiously
when they moved. Their legs and chests were naked except for festoons
of white shells worn necklace-wise. On their heads they had curious
helmets of white metal, branching into antlers, and these headdresses
were covered with loose, jangling, metallic strips. The men had their
faces, limbs, and bodies painted in white arabesques, which, against
the dark skins, effectually destroyed any likeness to human beings. It
would be difficult to conceive of anything more uncanny and less human
than the appearance of these Devil Dancers as they stood against a
background of palms in the black night, their painted faces lit up by
the flickering glare of smoky torches. As soon as the raucous horns
blared out and the tom-toms began throbbing in their maddening,
syncopated rhythm, the pandemonium that ensued, when thirty men,
whirling themselves in circles with a prodigious clatter of metals,
began shrieking like devils possessed, as they leaped into the air,
was quite sufficient to account for the terror of the Cingalee
servants, who ran and hid themselves, convinced that they were face to
face with real demons escaped from the Pit.

Like all Oriental performances it was far too long. The dancers
shrieked and whirled themselves into a state of hysteria, and would
have continued dancing all night, had they not been summarily
dismissed. As far as I could make out, this was less of an attempt to
propitiate local devils than an endeavour to frighten them away by
sheer terror. It was unquestionably a horribly uncanny performance,
what with the white streaked faces and limbs, and the clang of the
metal dresses; the surroundings, too, added to the weird, unearthly
effect, the dark moonless night, the dim masses of forest closing in
on the garden, and the uncertain flare of the resinous torches.

Amongst others invited to see the Devil Dancers was a French
traveller, a M. Des Etangs, a singularly cultivated man, who had just
made a tour of all the French possessions in India. M. Des Etangs was
full of curiosity about the so-called "Sacred Tooth" of Buddha, which
is enshrined in the "Temple of the Tooth," and makes Kandy a
peculiarly sacred place to the Buddhist world.

The temple, a small but very picturesque building, overhangs the lake,
and is surrounded by a moat, full of the fattest carp and tortoises I
ever saw. Every pilgrim to the shrine throws rice to these carp, and
the unfortunate fish have grown to such aldermanic amplitude of
outline that they can only just waddle, rather than swim, through the
water.

The Buddhist community must be of a most accommodating temperament.
The original tooth of Buddha was brought to Ceylon in A.D. 411. It was
captured about 1315 and taken to India, but was eventually restored to
Kandy. The Portuguese captured it again in 1560, burnt it, and ground
it to powder, but the resourceful Vikrama Bahu at once manufactured a
new tooth out of a piece of ivory, and the Buddhists readily accepted
this false tooth as a worthy successor to the real one, extended the
same veneration to it as they did to its predecessor, and, more
important than all, increased rather than diminished their offerings
to the "Temple of the Tooth."

M. Des Etangs had the whole history of the tooth at his fingers' end,
and Sir Hugh Clifford, who as Colonial Secretary was the official
protector of the tooth, very kindly offered to have it uncovered for
us in two days' time. He added that the priests were by no means
averse to receiving such an official order, for they would telegraph
the news all over the island, and thousands of pilgrims would arrive
to view the exposed tooth, each one, of course, leaving an offering,
to the great benefit of the temple.

Sir Hugh invited M. Des Etangs, the late General Oliphant and myself
to be present at the uncovering, which had to take place at seven in
the morning, in order to afford a sufficiently long day for the
exposition. He implored us all, in view of the immense veneration with
which the Buddhists regarded the ceremony of the uncovering, to keep
perfectly serious, and to adopt a becoming attitude of respect, and he
begged us all to give a slight bow when the Buddhists made their
prostrations.

Accordingly, two days later at 7 a.m., M. Des Etangs, General Oliphant
and I found ourselves in a lower room of the temple, the actual
sanctuary of the tooth itself, into which Christians are not generally
admitted. We were, of course, the only Europeans present.

Never have I felt anything like the heat of that sanctuary. We dripped
and poured with perspiration. The room was entirely lined with copper,
walls and roof alike, and the closed shutters were also
copper-sheathed. Every scrap of light and air was excluded; there must
have been at least two hundred candles alight, the place was thick
with incense and heavy with the overpowering scent of the frangipani,
or "temple-flower" as it is called in Ceylon, which lay in piled white
heaps on silver dishes all round the room. The place was crowded with
priests and leading Buddhists, and we Europeans panted and gasped for
air in that stifling, over-scented atmosphere. Presently the
Hereditary Keeper of the Tooth, who was not a priest but the lineal
descendant of the old Kings of Kandy, knelt down and recited a long
prayer. At its conclusion eight men staggered across the room, bearing
a vast bell-shaped shrine of copper about seven feet high. This was
the outer case of the tooth. The Hereditary Keeper produced an archaic
key, and the outer case was unlocked. The eight men shuffled off with
their heavy burden, and the next covering, a much smaller, bell-shaped
case of gold, stood revealed. All the natives present prostrated
themselves, and we, in accordance with our orders, bowed our heads.
This was repeated six times, the cases growing richer and more heavily
jewelled as we approached the final one. The seventh case was composed
entirely of cut rubies and diamonds, a shimmering and beautiful piece
of work, presented by the Buddhists of Burmah, but made, oddly enough,
in Bond Street, W.1.

When opened, this disclosed the largest emerald known, carved into the
shape of a Buddha, and this emerald Buddha held the tooth in his
hand. After prolonged prostrations, the Hereditary Keeper took a
lotus-flower, beautifully fashioned out of pure gold without alloy,
and placed the tooth in it, on a little altar heaped with frangipani
flowers. The uncovering was over; we three Europeans left the room in
a half-fainting condition, gasping for air, suffocated with the
terrific heat, and stifled with the heavy perfumes.

The octagonal tower over the lake, familiar to all visitors to Kandy,
contains the finest Buddhist theological library in the world. The
books are all in manuscript, each one encased in a lacquer box, though
the bookcases themselves containing these treasures were supplied by a
well-known firm in the Tottenham Court Road.

A singularly intelligent young priest, speaking English perfectly,
showed me the most exquisitely illuminated old Chinese manuscripts, as
well as treatises in ten other Oriental languages, which only made me
deplore my ignorance, since I was unable to read a word of any of
them. The illuminations, though, struck me as fully equal to the
finest fourteenth-century European work in their extreme minuteness
and wonderful delicacy of detail. The young priest, whom I should
suspect of being what is termed in ecclesiastical circles "a spike,"
was evidently very familiar with the Liturgy of the Church of England,
but it came with somewhat of a shock to hear him apply to Buddha terms
which we are accustomed to use in a different connection.

The material prosperity of Ceylon is due to tea and rubber, and the
admirable Public Works of the colony, roads, bridges and railways,
seem to indicate that these two commodities produce a satisfactory
budget. During the Kandy cricket week young planters trooped into the
place by hundreds. Planters are divided locally into three categories:
the managers, "Peria Dorai," or "big masters," spoken of as "P. D.'s,"
the assistants, "Sinna Dorai," or "little masters," labelled
"S. D.'s," and the premium-pupils, known as "creepers."

Personally I am inclined to discredit the local legend that all male
children born of white parents in Ceylon come into the world with
abnormal strength of the right wrist, and a slight inherited callosity
of the left elbow. This is supposed to be due to their parents having
rested their left elbows on bar-counters for so many hours of their
lives; the development of the right wrist being attributed in the same
way to the number of glasses their fathers have lifted with it. This,
if authenticated by scientific evidence, would be an interesting
example of heredity, but I suspect it to be an exaggeration. The
bar-room in the hotel at Kandy was certainly of vast dimensions, and
was continuously packed to overflowing during the cricket week, and an
unusual notice conspicuously displayed, asking "gentlemen to refrain
from singing in the passages and bedrooms at night," seemed to hint
that undue conviviality was not unknown in the hotel; but it must be
remembered that these young fellows work very hard, and lead most
solitary existences. An assistant-manager on a tea estate may see no
white man for weeks except his own boss, or "P. D.," so it is
perfectly natural that when they foregather with other young
Englishmen of their own age during Colombo race week, or Kandy cricket
week, they should grow a little uproarious, or even at times exceed
the strict bounds of moderation, and small blame to them!

Ceylon was formerly a great coffee-producing island, and the
introduction of tea culture only dates from about 1882. In 1870 a
fungus began attacking the coffee plantations, and in ten years this
fungus killed practically all the coffee bushes, and reduced the
planters to ruin. Instead of whining helplessly over their
misfortunes, the planters had the energy and enterprise to replace
their ruined coffee bushes with tea shrubs, and Ceylon is now one of
the most important sources of the world's tea-supply. Tea-making--by
which I do not imply the throwing of three spoonfuls of dried leaves
into a teapot, but the transformation of the green leaf of a camellia
into the familiar black spirals of our breakfast-tables--is quite an
art in itself. The "tea-maker" has to judge when the freshly gathered
leaves are sufficiently withered for him to begin the process, into
the complications of which I will not attempt to enter. I was much
gratified, both in Ceylon and Assam, at noting how much of the
tea-making machinery is manufactured in Belfast, for though Ulster
enterprise is proverbial, I should never have anticipated it as taking
this particular line. There is one peculiarly fascinating machine in
which a mechanical pestle, moving in an eccentric orbit, twists the
flat leaf into the familiar narrow crescents that we infuse daily. The
tea-plant is a pretty little shrub, with its pale-primrose,
cistus-like flowers, but in appearance it cannot compete with the
coffee tree, with its beautiful dark glossy foliage, its waxy white
flowers, and brilliant scarlet berries.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens rank as the second finest in the world,
being only surpassed by those at Buitenzorg in Java. I had the
advantage of being shown their beauties by the curator himself, a most
learned man, and what is by no means a synonymous term, a very
interesting one, too. Holding the position he did, it is hardly
necessary to insist on his nationality; his accent was still as marked
as though he had only left his native Aberdeen a week before. He
showed me a tall, graceful tree growing close to the entrance, with
smooth, whitish bark, and a family resemblance to a beech. This was
the ill-famed upas tree of Java, the subject of so many ridiculous
legends. The curator told me that the upas (_Antiaris toxicaria_)
was unquestionably intensely poisonous, juice and bark alike. A
scratch made on the finger by the bark might have very serious
results, and the emanations from a newly lopped-off branch would be
strong enough to bring out a rash; equally, any one foolish enough to
drink the sap would most certainly die. The stories of the tree giving
out deadly fumes had no foundation, for the curator had himself sat
for three hours under the tree without experiencing any bad effects
whatever. All the legends of the upas tree are based on an account of
it by a Dr. Foersch in 1783. This mendacious medico declared that no
living thing could exist within fifteen miles of the tree. The
Peradeniya curator pointed out that Java was a volcanic island, and
one valley where the upas flourishes is certainly fatal to all animal
life owing to the emanations of carbonic acid gas escaping from
fissures in the soil. It was impossible to look at this handsome tree
without some respect for its powers of evil, though I doubt if it be
more poisonous than the West Indian manchineel. This latter
insignificant tree is so virulently toxic that rain-drops from its
leaves will raise a blister on the skin.

Amongst the wonders of Peradeniya is a magnificent avenue of talipat
palms, surely the most majestic of their family, though they require
intense heat to develop their splendid crowns of leaves.

Colombo has been called the Clapham Junction of the East, for there
steamship lines from Australia, China, Burmah, and the Dutch East
Indies all meet, and the most unexpected friends turn up.

I recall one arrival at Colombo in a Messageries Maritimes boat. On
board was a most agreeable French lady going out with her children to
join her husband, a French officer in Cochin China. I was leaving the
ship at Colombo, but induced the French lady to accompany me on shore,
the children being bribed with the promise of a ride in a "hackery" or
trotting-bull carriage. None of the party had ever left France before.
As we approached the landing-stage, which was, as usual, black with
baggage-coolies waiting for a job, the French children began howling
at the top of their voices. "The savages! the savages! We're
frightened at the savages," they sobbed in French; "we want to go back
to France." Their mother asked me quite gravely whether "the savages"
here were well-disposed, as she had heard that they sometimes met
strangers with a shower of arrows. And this in up-to-date,
electric-lighted Colombo! We might have been Captain Cook landing in
Tahiti, instead of peaceful travellers making their quiet way to an
hotel amidst a harmless crowd of tip-seeking coolies.

The unfamiliar is often unnecessarily alarming.

I remember a small ten-year-old white Bermudian boy who accompanied
his father to England for King George's coronation. The boy had never
before left his cedar-clad, sunlit native archipelago, and after the
ship had passed the Needles, and was making her way up the Solent, he
looked with immense interest at this strange land which had suddenly
appeared after three thousand miles of water. All houses in Bermuda
are whitewashed, and their owners are obliged by law to whitewash
their coral roofs as well. Bermuda, too, is covered with low
cedar-scrub of very sombre hue, and there are no tall trees. The boy,
a very sharp little fellow, was astonished at the red-brick of the
houses on the Isle of Wight, and at their red-tile or dark slate
roofs, and was also much impressed by the big oaks and lofty elms.
Finally he turned to his father as the ship was passing Cowes: "Do you
mean to tell me, Daddy, that the people living in these queer houses
in this odd country are really human beings like us, and that they
actually have human feelings like you and me?"




CHAPTER III

Frenchmen pleasant travelling companions--The limitations--Vicomte de
Vogue, the innkeeper and the Ikon--An early oil-burning steamer--A
modern Bluebeard--His "Blue Chamber"--Dupleix--His ambitious scheme--A
disastrous period for France--A personal appreciation of the Emperor
Nicholas II--A learned but versatile Orientalist--Pidgin
English--Hong-Kong--An ancient Portuguese city in China--Duck junks--A
comical Marathon race--Canton--Its fascination and its appalling
smells--The malevolent Chinese devils--Precautions adopted
against--"Foreign Devils"--The fortunate limitations of Chinese
devils--The City of the Dead--A business interview.


M. Des Etangs, the French traveller to whom I have already alluded,
agreed to accompany me to the Far East, an arrangement which I
welcomed, for he was a very cultivated and interesting man.
Unexpectedly he was detained in Ceylon by a business matter, so I went
on alone.

I regretted this, for on two previous occasions I had found what a
pleasant travelling companion an educated Frenchman can be. I do not
think that the French, as a rule, are either acute or accurate
observers. They are too apt to start with preconceived theories of
their own; anything which clashes with the ideas that they have
already formed is rejected as evidence, whilst the smallest scrap of
corroborative testimony is enlarged and distorted so that they may be
enabled to justify triumphantly their original proposition, added to
which, Frenchmen are, as a rule, very poor linguists. This, of course,
is speaking broadly, but I fancy that the French mind is very definite
and clear-cut, yet rather lacking in receptivity. The French suffer
from the excessive development of the logical faculty in them. This
same definite quality in the French language, whilst delighting both
my ear and my intelligence, rightly or wrongly prevents French poetry
from making any appeal to me; it is too bright and sparkling, there is
no mystery possible in so clear-cut a medium, added to which, every
syllable in French having an equal value, no rhythm is possible, and
French poetry has to rely on rhyme alone.

It is not on the cloudless summer day that familiar objects take on
vague and fantastic shapes; to effect that, mists and a rain-veiled
sky are wanted. Then distances are blotted out, and the values of
nearer objects are transformed under the swirling drifts of vapour,
and a new dream-world is created under one's very eyes. This is,
perhaps, merely the point of view of a Northerner.

As far back as 1881, I had made a trip down the Volga to Southern
Russia with that most delightful of men, the late Vicomte Eugene
Melchior de Vogue, the French Academician and man-of-letters. I
absolve Vogue from the accusation of being unable to observe like the
majority of his compatriots, nor, like them, was he a poor linguist.
He had married a Russian, the sister of General Anenkoff of Central
Asian fame; spoke Russian fluently, and very few things escaped his
notice. Though he was much older than me, no more charming companion
could be imagined. A little incident at Kazan, on the Volga, amused me
enormously. We were staying at a most indifferent hotel kept by a
Frenchman. The French proprietor explained to us that July was the
month during which the miraculous Ikon of the Kazan Madonna was
carried from house to house by the priests. The fees for this varied
from 25 roubles (then 2 pounds 10s.) for a short visit from the Ikon of
five minutes, to 200 roubles (20 pounds) for the privilege of sheltering
the miracle-working picture for an entire night. I must add that the
original Ikon was supposed to have been dug up in Kazan in 1597. In
1612 it was removed to Moscow, and was transferred again in 1710 to
Petrograd, where a large and pretentious cathedral was built for its
reception. In 1812, when Napoleon captured Moscow, the Kazan Madonna
was hastily summoned from Petrograd, and many Russians implicitly
believe that the rout of the French was solely due to this
wonder-working Ikon. In the meanwhile the inhabitants of Kazan
realised that a considerable financial asset had left their midst, so
with commendable enterprise they had a replica made of the Ikon, which
every one accepted as a perfectly satisfactory substitute, much as the
Cingalees regarded their "Ersatz" Buddha's tooth at Kandy as fully
equal to the original. The French landlord told us that in view of the
strong local feeling, he was obliged, in the interests of his
business, to pay for a visit from the Ikon, "afin de faire marcher mon
commerce," and he invited Vogue and myself to be present at the
ceremony.

Next day we stood at the foot of a small back-staircase which had been
prepared in Russian fashion for the reception of the Madonna. Both the
steps and banisters of the stairs were entirely draped in clean white
sheets, to which little sprigs of fir branches had been attached. On a
landing, also draped with sheets, a little white-covered table with
two lighted candles was to serve as a _reposoir_ for the Ikon.
The whole of the hotel staff--all Russians--were present, as well as
the frock-coated landlord. The Madonna arrived in a gilt
coach-and-four, a good deal the worse for wear, with a coachman and
two shaggy-headed footmen, all bareheaded. The priests carried the
Madonna up to the temporary altar, and the landlord advanced to pay
his devotions.

Now as a Roman Catholic he had little respect for an Ikon of the
Eastern Church, nor as a Frenchman could he be expected to entertain
lively feelings of gratitude to a miracle-working picture which was
supposed by Russians to have brought about the terrible disasters to
his countrymen in 1812. Confident in his knowledge that no one
present, with the exception of Vogue and myself, understood one word
of French, the landlord fairly let himself go.

Crossing himself many times after the Orthodox fashion, and making the
low prostrations of the Eastern Church, he began: "Ah! vieille planche
peinte, tu n'as pas d'idee comme je me fiche de toi." More low
prostrations, and then, "Et c'est toi vieille croute qui imagines que
tu as chasse les Francais de ce pays en 1812?" More strenuous
crossings, "Ah! Zut alors! et re-zut, et re-re zut! sale planche!"
which may be Englished very freely as "Ah! you old painted board, you
can have no conception of what I think of you! Are you really
swollen-headed enough to imagine that it was you who drove the French
out of Russia in 1812? Yah! then, you ugly old daub, and yah! again!"
The Russian staff, not understanding one word of this, were much
impressed by their master's devotional behaviour, but Vogue and I had
to go into the street and laugh for ten minutes.

The wife of a prominent official boarded the steamer at some
stopping-place, with her two daughters. They were pretentious folk,
talking French, and giving themselves tremendous airs. When they heard
Vogue and me talking the same language, she looked at us, gave a
sniff, and observed in a loud voice, "Evidently two French commercial
travellers!" Next morning she ignored our salutations. During the
great heat of the day she read French aloud to her daughters, and to
my great joy the book was one of Vogue's. She enlarged on the beauty
of the style and language, so I could not help saying, "The author
will much appreciate your compliment, madame, for he is sitting
opposite you. This is M. de Vogue himself." I need hardly say that the
under-bred woman overwhelmed us with civilities after that.

The Volga steamers were then built after the type of Mississippi
boats, with immense superstructures; they were the first oil-burning
steamers I had ever seen, so I got the Captain's permission to go down
to the engine-room. Instead of a grimy stokehole full of perspiring
firemen and piles of coal, I found a clean, white-painted place with
one solitary but clean man regulating polished taps. The Chief
Engineer, a burly, red-headed, red-bearded man, came up and began
explaining things to me. I could then talk Russian quite fluently, but
the technicalities of marine engineering were rather beyond me, and I
had not the faintest idea of the Russian equivalents for, say,
intermediate cylinder, or slide-valve. I stumbled lamely along somehow
until a small red-haired boy came in and cried in the strongest of
Glasgow accents, "Your tea is waiting on ye, feyther."

It appeared that the Glasgow man had been Head Engineer of the river
steamboat company for ten years, but we had neither of us detected the
other's nationality.

On another occasion, whilst proceeding to India in a Messageries
Maritimes boat, I made the acquaintance of an M. Bayol, a native of
Marseilles, who had been for twenty-five years in business at
Pondicherry, the French colony some 150 miles south of Madras.
M. Bayol was a typical "Marius," or Marseillais: short, bald, bearded
and rotund of stomach. It is unnecessary to add that he talked twenty
to the dozen, with an immense amount of gesticulation, and that he
could work himself into a frantic state of excitement over anything in
two minutes. I heard on board that he had the reputation of being the
shrewdest business man in Southern India. He was most capital company,
rolling out perpetual jokes and _calembour_, and bubbling over with
exuberant _joie de vivre_. I think M. Bayol took a fancy to me on
account of my understanding his Provencale patois, for, as a boy, I
had learnt French in a Provencale-speaking district.

All Englishmen are supposed in France to suffer from a mysterious
disease known as "le spleen." I have not the faintest idea of what
this means. The spleen is, I believe, an internal organ whose
functions are very imperfectly understood, still it is an accepted
article of faith in France that every Briton is "devore de spleen,"
and that this lamentable state of things embitters his whole outlook
on life, and casts a black shadow over his existence. When I got to
know M. Bayol better during our evening tramps up and down the deck,
he asked me confidentially what remedies I adopted when "ronge de
spleen," and how I combated the attacks of this deplorable but
peculiarly insular disease, and was clearly incredulous when I failed
to understand him. This amazing man also told me that he had been
married five times. Not one of his first four wives had been able to
withstand the unhealthy climate of Pondicherry for more than eighteen
months, so, after the demise of his fourth French wife, he had married
a native, "ne pouvant vivre seul, j'ai tout bonnement epouse une
indigene."

M. Bayol insisted on showing me the glories of Pondicherry himself, an
offer which I, anxious to see a Franco-Indian town, readily accepted.
There is no harbour there, and owing to the heavy surf, the landing
must be made in a surf-boat, a curious keel-less craft built of thin
pliant planks _sewn_ together with copper wire, which bobs about on the
surface of the water like a cork. At Pondicherry, as in all French
Colonial possessions, an attempt has been made to reproduce a little
piece of France. There was the dusty "Grande Place," surrounded with
even dustier trees and numerous cafes; the "Cafe du Progres"; the
"Cafe de l'Union," and other stereotyped names familiar from a hundred
French towns, and pale-faced civilians, with a few officers in
uniform, were seated at the usual little tables in front of them.
Everything was as different as possible from an average Anglo-Indian
cantonment: even the natives spoke French, or what was intended to be
French, amongst themselves. The whole place had a rather dejected,
out-at-elbows appearance, but it atoned for its diminishing trade by
its amazing number of officials. That little town seemed to contain
more bureaucrats than Calcutta, and almost eclipsed our own post-war
gigantic official establishments. On arriving at my French friend's
house, the fifth Madame Bayol, a lady of dark chocolate complexion,
and numerous little pale coffee-coloured Bayols greeted their spouse
and father with rapturous shouts of delight. Later in the day,
M. Bayol, drawing me on one side, said, "We have become friends on the
voyage; I will now show you the room which enshrines my most sacred
memories," and drawing a key from his pocket, he unlocked a door,
admitting me to a very large room perfectly bare and empty except for
four stripped bedsteads standing in the centre. "These, mon ami, are
the beds on which my four French wives breathed their last, and this
room is very dear to me in consequence," and the fat little
Marseillais burst into tears. I have no wish to be unfeeling, but I
really felt as though I had stumbled undesignedly upon some of the
more intimate details connected with Bluebeard's matrimonial
difficulties, and when M. Bayol began, the tears streaming down his
cheeks, to give me a brief account of his first wife's last moments,
the influence of this Bluebeard chamber began asserting itself, and it
was all I could do to refrain from singing (of course very
sympathetically) the lines from Offenbach's _Barbe-Bleue_ beginning:

  "Ma premiere femme est morte
  Que le diable l'emporte!"

but on second thoughts I refrained.

M. Bayol's garden reminded me of that of the immortal Tartarin of
Tarascon, for the only green things in it grew in pots, and nothing
was over four inches high. The rest of the garden consisted of bare,
sun-baked tracts of clay, intersected by gravel walks. I felt certain
that amongst these seedlings there must have been a two-inch high
specimen of the Baobab "l'arbre geant," the pride of Tartarin's heart,
the tree which, as he explained, might under favourable conditions
grow 200 feet high. After all, Marseilles and Tarascon are not far
apart, and their inhabitants are very similar in temperament.

I was pleased to see a fine statue of Dupleix at Pondicherry, for he
was a man to whom scant justice has been done by his compatriots. Few
people seem to realise how very nearly Dupleix succeeded in his design
of building up a great French empire in India. He arrived in India in
1715, at the age of eighteen, and amassed a large fortune in
legitimate trade; he became Administrator of Chandernagore, in Bengal,
in 1730, and displayed such remarkable ability in this post that in
1741 he was appointed Governor-General of the French Indies. In 1742
war broke out between France and Britain, and at the outset the French
arms were triumphant. Madras surrendered in 1746 to a powerful French
fleet under La Bourdonnais, the Governor of the Island of Reunion, and
a counterattack on Pondicherry by Admiral Boscawen's fleet in 1748
failed utterly, though the defence was conducted by Dupleix, a
civilian. These easy French successes inspired Dupleix with the idea
of establishing a vast French empire in India on the ruins of the
Mogul monarchy, but here he was frustrated by the military genius of
Clive, who, it must be remembered, started life as a civilian "writer"
in the East India Company's service. Dupleix encountered his first
check by Clive's dashing capture of Arcot in 1751. From that time the
fortunes of war inclined with ever-increasing bias to the British
side, and the decisive battle of Plassey in 1757 (three years after
Dupleix's return to France) was a death-blow to the French aspirations
to become the preponderant power in India.

Dupleix was shabbily treated by France. He received but little support
from the mother country; the vast sums he had expended from his
private resources in prosecuting the war were never refunded to him;
he was consistently maligned by the jealous and treacherous La
Bourdonnais, and after his recall to France in 1754 his services to
his country were never recognised, and he died in poverty.

G. B. Malleson's _Dupleix_ is a most impartial and interesting account
of this remarkable man's life: it has been translated into French and
is accepted by the French as an accurate text-book.

The whole reign of Louis XV. was a supremely disastrous period for
French Colonial aspirations. Not only did the dream of a great French
empire in the East crumble away just as it seemed on the very point of
realisation, but after Wolfe's victory on the Heights of Abraham at
Quebec, Canada was formally ceded by France to Britain in 1763, by the
Treaty of Paris.

This ill fortune pursued France into the succeeding reign of Louis
XVI., for in April, 1782, Rodney's great victory over Count de Grasse
off Dominica transferred the Lesser Antilles from French to British
suzerainty.

The same sort of blight seemed to hang over France during Louis XV.'s
reign, as overshadowed the Russia of the ill-starred Nicholas II.
Nothing could possibly go right with either of them, and it may be
that the prime causes were the same: the assumption of absolute power
by an irresolute monarch, lacking the intellectual equipment which
alone would enable him to justify his claims to supreme power--though
I hasten to disclaim any comparison between these two rulers.

Between Louis XV., vicious, selfish and incapable, always tied to the
petticoat and caprices of some new mistress, and the unfortunate
Nicholas II., well-intentioned, and almost fanatically religious, the
affectionate father and the devoted husband, no comparison is
possible, except as regards their limitations for the supreme
positions they occupied.

I have recounted elsewhere how, when Nicholas II. visited India as
Heir Apparent in 1890, I saw a great deal of him, for he stayed ten
days with my brother-in-law, Lord Lansdowne, at Calcutta and
Barrackpore, and I was brought into daily contact with him. The
Czarevitch, as he then was, had a very high standard of duty, though
his intellectual equipment was but moderate. He had a perfect craze
about railway development, and it must not be forgotten that that
stupendous undertaking, the Trans-Siberian Railway, was entirely due
to his initiative. At the time of his visit to India, Nicholas II. was
obsessed with the idea that the relations between Great Britain and
Russia would never really improve until the Russian railways were
linked up with the British-Indian system, a proposition which
responsible Indian Officials viewed with a marked lack of enthusiasm.
The Czarevitch was courteous, gentle and sincere, but though full of
good intentions, he was fatally inconstant of purpose, and his mental
endowments were insufficient for the tremendous responsibilities to
which he was to succeed, and in that one fact lies the pathos of the
story of this most unfortunate of monarchs.

To return from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and from the
disastrous collapse of the French Colonial Empire to my own infinitely
trivial personal experiences, I regretted the business which had
detained M. Des Etangs in Ceylon, and deprived me of the company of so
agreeable and cultivated a man-of-the-world.

There was a Dr. Munro on board the liner. Dr. Munro, at that time
Principal of a Calcutta College is, I believe, one of the greatest
Oriental scholars living. On going into the smoking-room of the
steamer one morning, I found the genial rotund little Professor at
work with an exquisitely illuminated Chinese manuscript before him. He
explained to me that it was a very interesting Chinese document of the
twelfth century, and that he was translating it into Arabic for the
benefit of his pupils. The amazing erudition of a man who could
translate off-hand an ancient Chinese manuscript into Arabic, without
the aid of dictionaries or of any works of reference, amidst all the
hubbub of the smoking-room of an ocean liner, left me fairly gasping.
Dr. Munro had acquired his Oriental languages at the University of
St. Petersburg, so, in addition to his other attainments, he spoke
Russian as fluently as English.

There was another side to this merry little Professor. We had on board
the vivacious and tuneful Miss Grace Palotta, who was making a
concert-tour round the world. Miss Palotta, whose charming personality
will be remembered by the frequenters of the old Gaiety Theatre, was a
Viennese by birth, and she sang those tuneful, airy little Viennese
songs, known as "Wiener Couplets," to perfection. She readily
consented to give a concert on board, but said she must be sustained
by a chorus. Dr. Munro himself selected, trained and led the chorus;
whilst I had to replace Miss Palotta's accompanist who was prostrate
with sea-sickness.

And so the big liner crept on slowly into steaming, oily, pale-green
seas, gliding between vividly green islands in the orchid-house
temperature of the Malay Peninsula, a part of the world worth
visiting, if only to eat the supremely delicious mangosteen, though
even an unlimited diet of this luscious fruit would hardly reconcile
the average person to a perpetual steam bath, and to an intensely
enervating atmosphere. Nature must have been in a sportive mood when
she evolved the durian. This singular Malay fruit smells like all the
concentrated drains of a town seasoned with onions. One single durian
can poison out a ship with its hideous odour, yet those able to
overcome its revolting smell declare the flavour of the fruit to be
absolutely delicious.

It is a little humiliating for a middle-aged gentleman to find that on
arriving in China he is expected to revert to the language of the
nursery, and that he must request his Chinese servant to "go catchee
me one piecee cuppee tea." On board the Admiral's yacht, it required a
little reflection before the intimation that "bleakfast belong leady
top-side" could be translated into the information that breakfast was
ready on deck. Why adding "ee" to every word should render it more
intelligible to the Celestial understanding, beats me. There are
people who think that by tacking "O" on to every English word they
render themselves perfectly clear to Italians and Spaniards, though
this theory seems hardly justified by results. "Pidgin English," of
course, merely means "business English," and has been evolved as an
easy means of communication for business purposes between Europeans
and Chinamen. The Governor of Hong-Kong's Chinese secretary prided
himself on his accurate and correct English. I heard the Governor ask
this secretary one day where a certain report was. "I placed it in the
second _business_-hole on your Excellency's desk," answered Mr. Wung
Ho, who evidently considered it very vulgar to use the term
"pigeon-hole."

Considering that eighty years ago, when it was first ceded to Britain,
Hong-Kong was a barren, treeless, granite island, it really is an
astonishing place. It is easily the handsomest modern city in Asia,
has a population of 400,000, and is by a long way the busiest port in
the world. It is an exceedingly pretty place, too, with its rows of
fine European houses rising in terraces out of a sea of greenery, and
it absolutely hums with prosperity. If Colombo is the Clapham
Junction, Hong-Kong is certainly the Crewe of the East, for steamship
lines to every part of the world are concentrated here. With the
exception of racing ponies, there is not one horse on the island.

Macao, the old Portuguese colony, is only forty miles from Hong-Kong.
The arrangements on the river steamers are rather peculiar, for only
European passengers are allowed on the spar deck. All Chinese
passengers, of whatever degree, have to descend to the lower decks,
which are enclosed with strong steel bars. Before the ship starts the
iron gates of communication are shut and padlocked, so that all
Chinese passengers are literally enclosed in a steel cage, shut off
alike from the upper deck and the engine-room. These precautions were
absolutely necessary, for time and time again gangs of river-pirates
have come on board these steamers in the guise of harmless passengers;
at a pre-arranged signal they have overpowered and murdered the white
officers, thrown the Chinese passengers overboard and then made off
with the ship and her cargo. An arms-rack of rifles on the European
deck told its own story.

Macao has belonged to Portugal since 1555. Its harbour has silted up,
and its once flourishing trade has dwindled to nothing. Gambling
houses are the only industry of the place. There are row and rows of
these opposite the steamer landing, all kept by Chinamen, garish with
coloured electric lights, each one clamorously proclaiming that it is
the "only first-class gambling house in Macao." A crowded special
steamer leaves Hong-Kong every Sunday morning for Macao, for the
special purpose of affording the European community an opportunity to
leave most of their excess profits in the pockets of the Chinese
proprietors of these places. The Captain and Chief Engineer of the
boat, who, it is almost superfluous to add, were of course both Clyde
men, like good Scots deplored this Sabbath-breaking; but like equally
good Scots they admitted how very lucrative the Sunday traffic was to
the steamboat company, and I gathered that they both got a commission
on this.

The old town of Macao is a piece of sixteenth and seventeenth century
Portugal transplanted into China. It is wonderful to find a southern
European town complete with cathedral, "pracas," fountains, and
statues, dumped down in the Far East. The place, too, is as
picturesque as a scene from an opera, and China is the last spot where
one would expect to find lingering traces of Gothic influence in
carved doorways and other architectural details. As far as externals
went Camoens, the great Portuguese poet, can scarcely have realised
his exile during the two years, 1556-1558, of his banishment to Macao.
He most creditably utilised this period of enforced rest by writing
_The Lusiads_, a poem which his countrymen are inclined to over
rate. All the familiar characteristics of an old Portuguese town are
met with here, the blue and pink colour-washed houses, an ample
sufficiency of ornate churches, public fountains everywhere, and every
shop-sign and notice is written in Portuguese, including the
interminable Portuguese street names. The only thing lacking seemed the
inhabitants. I presume the town must have some inhabitants, but I did
not see a single one. Possibly they were taking their siestas, or were
shut up in their houses, meditating on the bygone glories of Portugal,
tempered with regrets that they had neglected to dredge their harbour.

Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux, the Naval Commander-in-Chief in the
Pacific, who happens to be my sister's son, told me that he was
sending a destroyer for three or four days up the Canton River, on
special service, and asked if I would care to go, and I naturally
accepted the offer. The Admiral did not go up himself, but sent his
Flag-Captain and Flag-Lieutenant. The marshy banks of the Canton River
are lined with interminable paddy-fields, for, as every one knows,
rice is a crop that must be grown under water. After the rice harvest,
these swampy fields are naturally full of fallen grain, and thrifty
John Chinaman feeds immense flocks of ducks on the stubbles of the
paddy-fields. The ducks are brought down by thousands in junks, and
quack and gobble to their hearts' content in the fields all day,
waddling back over a plank to their junks at night. At sunset, one of
the most comical sights in the world can be witnessed. A Chinese boy
comes ashore from each junk with a horn, which he blows as a signal to
the ducks that bedtime has arrived. In his other hand the boy has a
rattan cane, with which he administers a tremendous thrashing to the
last ten ducks to arrive on board. The ducks know this, and in that
singular country their progenitors have probably been thrashed in the
same way for a thousand years, so they all have an inherited sense of
the dangers of the corporal punishment threatening them. As soon as
the horn sounds, thousands of ducks start the maddest of Marathon
races back to their respective junks, which they never mistake, with
such a quacking and gobbling and pushing of each other aside, as the
ungainly fowls waddle along at the top of their speed, as must be
witnessed to be credited. The duck has many advantages: in his wild
state, his extreme wariness and his powerful flight make him a
splendid sporting bird, and when dead he has most estimable qualities
after a brief sojourn in the kitchen. Domesticated, though he can
scarcely be classed as a dainty feeder, he makes a strong appeal to
some people, especially after he has contracted an intimate alliance
with sage and onions, but he was never intended by Nature for a
sprinter, nor are his webbed feet adapted for rapid locomotion.
Sufferers from chronic melancholia would, I am sure, benefit by
witnessing the nightly football scrums and speed-contests of these
Chinese ducks, for I defy any one to see them without becoming
helpless with laughter.

The river in the neighbourhood of Canton is so covered with junks,
sampans, and other craft, that, in comparison to it, the Thames at
Henley during regatta week would look like a deserted waste of water.
One misses at Canton the decorative war-junks of the Shanghai River.
These war-junks, though perfectly useless either for defence or
attack, are gorgeous objects to the eye, with their carving, their
scarlet lacquer and profuse gilding. A Chinese stern-wheeler is a
quaint craft, for her wheel is nothing but a treadmill, manned by some
thirty half-naked coolies, who go through a regular treadmill drill,
urging the boat along at perhaps three miles an hour. In addition to
their deck passengers, these boats have rows of little covered niches
for superior personages, and in every niche sits a grave, motionless
Chinaman, looking for all the world like those carved Chinese cabinets
we sometimes see, with a little porcelain figure squatting in each
carved compartment.

We had a naval interpreter on board, a jovial, hearty, immensely fat
old Chinaman. Our destroyer had four funnels, but as we were going up
the river under easy steam, only the forward boilers were going, so
that whilst our two forward funnels, "Matthew" and "Mark," were
smoking bravely, the two after ones, "Luke" and "John," were unsullied
by the faintest wisp of a smoke pennant trailing from their black
orifices. Our old interpreter was much distressed at this, for, as far
as I could judge, his countrymen gauged a vessel's fighting power
solely by the amount of smoke that she emitted, and he feared that we
should be regarded with but scanty respect.

The British and French Consulate-Generals at Canton are situated on a
large artificial island, known as Sha-mien. Here, too, the European
business men live in the most comfortable Europe-like houses,
surrounded with gardens and lawn-tennis courts. Here is the
cricket-ground and the club. Being in the Far East, the latter is, of
course, equipped with one of the most gigantic bar-rooms ever seen.
The British Consul-General had ordered chairs for us in which to be
carried through the city, as it would be derogatory to the dignity of
a European to be seen walking on foot in a Chinese town. Our business
with the Consul-General finished, we started on our tour of
inspection, the party consisting of the Flag-Captain, the
Flag-Lieutenant, the interpreter and myself, together with a small
midshipman, who, being anxious to see Canton, had somehow managed to
get three days' leave and to smuggle himself on board the destroyer.
The Consul-General warned us that the smells in the native city would
be unspeakably appalling, and advised us to smoke continuously, very
kindly presenting each of us with a handful of mild Borneo cheroots.

The canal separating Sha-mien from the city is 100 feet broad, but I
doubt if anywhere else in the world 100 feet separates the centuries
as that canal does. On the one side, green lawns, gardens, trees, and
a very fair imitation of Europe. A few steps over a fortified bridge,
guarded by Indian soldiers and Indian policemen, and you are in the
China of a thousand years ago, absolutely unchanged, except for the
introduction of electric light and telephones. The English manager of
the Canton Electric Co. told me that the natives were wonderfully
adroit at stealing current. One would not imagine John Chinaman an
expert electrician, yet these people managed somehow to tap the
electric mains, and the manager estimated the weekly loss on stolen
power as about 500 pounds.

No street in Canton is wider than eight feet, and many of them are
only five feet broad. They are densely packed with yellow humanity,
though there is no wheeled traffic whatever. There are countless miles
of these narrow, stifling alleys, paved with rough granite slabs,
under which festers the sewage of centuries. The smells are
unbelievably hideous. Except for an occasional canal, a reeking open
sewer, there are no open spaces whatever. And yet these narrow alleys
of two-storied houses are marvellously picturesque, with coloured
streamers and coloured lanterns drooping from every house and shop,
and the shops themselves are a joy to the eye. They are entirely open
to the street in front, but in the far dim recesses of every one there
is a species of carved reredos, over which dragons, lacquered black,
or lacquered red, gilded or silvered, sprawl artistically. In front of
this screen there is always a red-covered joss table, where red lights
burn, and incense-sticks smoulder, all of which, as shall be explained
later, are precautions to thwart the machinations of the peculiarly
malevolent local devils. In food shops, hideous and obscene entrails
of unknown animals gape repellently on the stranger, together with
strings and strings of dried rats, and other horrible comestibles; in
every street the yellow population seems denser and denser, the colour
more brilliant and the smells more sickening. We could not have stood
it but for the thoughtful Consul-General's Borneo cigars, though the
small midshipman, being still of tender years, was brought to public
and ignominious disaster by his second cheroot. After two hours of
slow progress in carrying-chairs, through this congeries of narrow,
unsavoury alleys, now jostled by coolies carrying bales of merchandise
suspended from long bamboos resting on their shoulders (exactly as
they did in the pictures of a book, called _Far Off_, which I had
as a child), now pushed on one side by the palanquin of a mandarin, we
hungered for fresh air and open spaces, less crowded by yellow
oblique-eyed Mongolians; still, though we all felt as though we were
in a nightmare, we had none of us ever seen anything like it, and in
spite of our declarations that we never wished to see this
evil-smelling warren of humanity again, somehow its uncanny
fascination laid hold of us, and we started again over the same route
next morning. The small midshipman had to be restrained from indulging
in his yearning to dine off puppy-dog in a Chinese restaurant, in
spite of the gastric disturbances occasioned by his precocious
experiments with cheroots.

I imagine that every Chinaman liable to zymotic diseases died
thousands of years ago, and that by the law of the survival of the
fittest all Chinamen born now are immune from filth diseases; that
they can drink sewage-water with impunity, and thrive under conditions
which would kill any Europeans in a week.

The inhabitants of Canton are, I believe, mostly Taoists by religion,
but their lives are embittered by their constant struggles with the
local devils. Most fortunately Chinese devils have their marked
limitations; for instance, they cannot go round a corner, and most
mercifully they suffer from constitutional timidity, and can be easily
frightened away by fire-crackers. Human beings inhabiting countries
subject to pests, have usually managed to cope with them by adopting
counter-measures. In mosquito-ridden countries people sleep under
mosquito-nets, thus baffling those nocturnal blood-suckers; in parts
of Ceylon infested with snakes, sharpened zig-zag snake-boards are
fastened to the window-sills, which prove extremely painful to
intruding reptiles. The Chinese, as a safeguard against their devils,
have adopted the peculiar "cocked hat" corner to their roofs, which we
see reproduced in so much of Chippendale's work. It is obvious that,
with an ordinary roof, any ill-disposed devil would summon some of his
fellows, and they would fly up, get their shoulders under the corner
of the eaves, and prise the roof off in no time. With the peculiar
Chinese upward curve of the corners, the devils are unable to get
sufficient leverage, and so retire discomfited. Most luckily, too,
they detest the smell of incense-sticks, and cannot abide the colour
red, which is as distasteful to them as it is to a bull, but though it
moves the latter to fury, it only inspires the devils with an abject
terror. Accordingly, any prudent man can, by an abundant display of
red silk streamers, and a plentiful burning of joss-sticks, keep his
house practically free from these pests. A rich Chinaman who has built
himself a new house, will at once erect a high wall immediately in
front of it. It obstructs the light and keeps out the air, but owing
to the inability of Chinese devils to go round corners it renders the
house as good as devil-proof.

We returned after dark from our second visit to the city. However much
the narrow streets may have offended the nose, they unquestionably
gratified the eye with the endless vista of paper lanterns, all softly
aglow with crimson, green, and blue, as the place reverberated with
the incessant banging of firecrackers. The families of the shopkeepers
were all seated at their supper-tables (for the Chinese are the only
Orientals who use chairs and tables as we do) in the front portions of
the shop. As women are segregated in China, only the fathers and sons
were present at this simple evening meal of sewage-fed fish, stewed
rat and broiled dog, but never for one instant did they relax their
vigilance against possible attacks by their invisible foes. It is
clear that an intelligent devil would select this very moment, when
every one was absorbed in the pleasures of the table, to penetrate
into the shop, where he could play havoc with the stock before being
discovered and ejected. Accordingly, little Ping Pong, the youngest
son, had to wait for his supper, and was sent into the street with a
large packet of fire-crackers to scare devils from the vicinity, and
if little Ping Pong was like other small boys, he must have hugely
enjoyed making such an appalling din. Every single shop had a stone
pedestal before it, on which a lamp was burning, for experience has
shown how useful a deterrent this is to any but the most abandoned
devils; they will at once pass on to a shop unprotected by a guardian
light.

We had been on the outskirts of the city that day, and I was much
struck with an example of Chinese ingenuity. The suburban inhabitants
all seem to keep poultry, and all these fowls were of the same
breed--small white bantams. So, to identify his own property, Ching
Wan dyed all his chickens' tails orange, whilst Hung To's fowls
scratched about with mauve tails, and Kyang Foo's hens gave themselves
great airs on the strength of their crimson tail feathers.

It is curious that, in spite of its wealth and huge population, Canton
should contain no fine temples. The much-talked-of Five-Storied Pagoda
is really hardly worth visiting, except for the splendid panorama over
the city obtained from its top floor. Canton here appears like one
endless sea of brown roofs extending almost to the horizon. The brown
sea of roof appears to be quite unbroken, for, from that height, the
narrow alleys of street disappear entirely. We were taken to a large
temple on the outskirts of the city. It was certainly very big, also
very dirty and ill-kept. Compared with the splendid temples of Nikko
in Japan, glowing with scarlet and black lacquer, and gleaming with
gold, temples on which cunning craftsmanship of wood-carving, enamels
and bronze-work has been lavished in almost superfluous profusion, or
even with the severer but dignified temples of unpainted cryptomeria
wood at Kyoto, this Chinese pagoda was scarcely worth looking at. It
had the usual three courts, an outer, middle, and inner one, and in
the middle court a number of students were seated on benches. I am
afraid that I rather puzzled our fat Chinese interpreter by inquiring
of him whether these were the local Benchers of the Middle Temple.

The Chinese dislike to foreigners is well known, so is the term
"foreign devils," which is applied to them. Our small party met with a
most hostile reception that day in one part of the city, and the crowd
were very menacing until addressed by our fat old interpreter. The
reason of this is very simple. Chinamen have invariably
chocolate-coloured eyes, so the great distorted wooden figures of
devils so commonly seen outside temple gates are always painted with
light eyes, in order to give them an inhuman and unearthly appearance
to Chinese minds. It so happened that the Flag-Captain, the
Flag-Lieutenant, the midshipman and myself, had all four of us
light-coloured eyes, either grey or blue, the colour associated with
devils, in the Chinese intelligence. We were unquestionably
foreigners, so the _prima facie_ evidence of satanic origin
against us was certainly strong. We ourselves would be prejudiced
against an individual with bright magenta eyes, and we might be
tempted to associate every kind of evil tendency with his abnormal
colouring; to the Chinese, grey eyes must appear just as unnatural as
magenta eyes would to us. We were inclined to attribute the hostile
demonstration to the small snottie, who, in spite of warnings, had
again experimented with cheroots. His unbecoming pallor would have
naturally predisposed a Chinese crowd against us.

The feeling of utter helplessness in a country where one is unable to
speak one word of the language is most exasperating. My youngest
brother, who is chairman of a steamship company, had occasion to go to
the Near East nine years ago on business connected with his company.
The steamer called at the Piraus for eight hours, and my brother, who
had never been in Athens, took a taxi and saw as much of "the city of
the violet crown" as was possible in the time. He could speak no
modern Greek, but when the taxi-man, on their return to the Piraus,
demanded by signs 7 pounds as his fare, my brother, hot with indignation
at such an imposition, summoned up all his memories of the Greek
Testament, and addressed the chauffeur as follows: "_o taxianthrope,
mae geyito!_" Stupefied at hearing the classic language of his
country, the taxi-man at once became more reasonable in his demands.
After this, who will dare to assert that there are no advantages in a
classical education?

All the hillsides round Chinese cities are dotted with curious stone
erections in the shape of horseshoes. These are the tombs of wealthy
Chinamen; the points of the compass they face, and the period which
must elapse before the deceased can be permanently buried, are all
determined by the family astrologers, for Chinese devils can be as
malignant to the dead as to the living, though they seem to reserve
their animosities for the more opulent of the population.

It is to meet the delay of years which sometimes elapses between the
death of a person and his permanent burial, that the "City of the
Dead" exists in Canton. This is not a cemetery, but a collection of
nearly a thousand mortuary chapels. The "City of the Dead" is the
pleasantest spot in that nightmare city. A place of great open sunlit
spaces, and streets of clean white-washed mortuaries, sweet with
masses of growing flowers. After the fetid stench of the narrow,
airless streets, the fresh air and sunlight of this "City of the Dead"
were most refreshing, and its absolute silence was welcome after the
deafening turmoil of the town. We were there in spring-time, and
hundreds of blue-and-white porcelain vases, of the sort we use as
garden ornaments, were gorgeous with flowering azaleas of all hues, or
fragrant with freesias. All the mortuaries, though of different sizes,
were built on the same plan, in two compartments, separated by pillars
with a carved wooden screen between them. Behind this screen the
cylindrical lacquered coffin is placed, a most necessary precaution,
for Chinese devils being fortunately unable to go round a corner, the
occupant of the coffin is thus safe from molestation. Other elementary
safeguards are also adopted; a red-covered altar invariably stands in
front of the screen, adorned with candles and artificial flowers, and
incense-sticks are perpetually burning on it. What with the
incense-sticks and abundant red silk streamers, an atmosphere is
created which must be thoroughly uncongenial, even to the most
irreclaimable devil. The outer chapel always contains two or four
large chairs for the family to meditate in.

It must be remembered that the favourite recreation of the Chinese is
to sit and meditate on the tombs of their ancestors, and though in
these mortuaries this pastime cannot be carried out in its entirety,
this modified form is universally regarded as a very satisfactory
substitute. In one chapel containing the remains of the wife of the
Chinese Ambassador in Rome, there was a curious blend of East and
West. Amongst the red streamers and joss-sticks there were metal
wreaths and dried palm wreaths inscribed, "A notre chere collegue
Madame Tsin-Kyow"; an unexpected echo of European diplomatic life to
find in Canton.

The rent paid for these places is very high, and as the length of time
which the body must rest there depends entirely upon the advice of the
astrologers, it is not uncharitable to suppose that there must be some
understanding between them and the proprietor of the "City of the
Dead."

We can even suppose some such conversation as the following between
the managing-partner of a firm of long-established family astrologers
and that same proprietor:

"Good-morning, Mr. Chow Chung; I have come to you with the melancholy
news of the death of our esteemed fellow-citizen, Hang Wang Kai. A
fine man, and a great loss! What I liked about him was that he was
such a thorough Chinaman of the good old stamp. A wealthy man, sir, a
_very_ wealthy man. The family are clients of mine, and they have just
rung me up, asking me to cast a horoscope to ascertain the wishes of
the stars with regard to the date of burial of our poor friend. How
inscrutable are the decrees of the heavenly bodies! They may recommend
the immediate interment of our friend: on the other hand, they may
wish it deferred for two, five, ten, or even twenty years, in which
case our friend would be one of the fortunate tenants of your
delightful Garden of Repose. Quite so. Casting a horoscope is _very_
laborious work, and I can but obey blindly the stars' behests.
Exactly. Should the stars recommend our poor friend's temporary
occupation of one of your attractive little Maisonettes, I should
expect, to compensate me for my labours, a royalty of 20 per cent. on
the gross (I emphasize the gross) rental paid by the family for the
first two years. They, of course, would inform me of any little sum
you did them the honour to accept from them. From two to five years, I
should expect a royalty of 30 per cent.; from five to ten years, 40
per cent.; on any period over ten years 50 per cent. Yes, I said
fifty. Surely I do not understand you to dissent? The stars may save
us all trouble by advising Hang Wang Kai's immediate interment. Thank
you. I thought that you would agree. These terms, of course, are only
for the Chinese and Colonial rights; I must expressly reserve the
American rights, for, as I need hardly remind you, the Philippine
Islands are now United States territory, and the constellations _may_
recommend the temporary transfer of our poor friend to American
soil. Thank you; I thought that we should agree. It only remains for
me to instruct my agents, Messrs. Ap Wang & Son, to draw up an
agreement in the ordinary form on the royalty basis I have indicated,
for our joint signature. The returns will, I presume, be made up as
usual, to March 31 and September 30. As I am far too upset by the loss
of our friend to be able to talk business, I will now, with your
permission, withdraw."

Had I been born a citizen of Canton, I should unquestionably have
articled my son to an astrologer, convinced that I was securing for
him an assured and lucrative future.




CHAPTER IV

The glamour of the West Indies--Captain Marryat and Michael
Scott--Deadly climate of the islands in the eighteenth century--The
West Indian planters--Difference between East and West Indies--"Let us
eat and drink, for to-morrow we die"--Training-school for British
Navy--A fruitless voyage--Quarantine--Distant view of Barbados--Father
Labat--The last of the Emperors of Byzantium--Delightful little Lady
Nugent and her diary of 1802--Her impressions of Jamaica--Wealthy
planters--Their hideous gormandising--A simple morning meal--An
aldermanic dinner--How the little Nugents were gorged--Haiti--Attempts
of General Le Clerc to secure British intervention in Haiti--Presents
to Lady Nugent--Her Paris dresses described--Our arrival in
Jamaica--Its marvellous beauty--The bewildered Guardsman--Little trace
of Spain left in Jamaica--The Spaniards as builders--British and
Spanish Colonial methods contrasted.


Since the earliest days of my boyhood, the West Indies have exercised
a quite irresistible fascination over me. This was probably due to my
having read and re-read _Peter Simple_ and _Tom Cringle's Log_ over and
over again, until I knew them almost by heart; indeed I will confess
that even at the present day the glamour of these books is almost as
strong as it used to be, and that hardly a year passes without my
thumbing once again their familiar pages. Both Captain Marryat and
Michael Scott knew their West Indies well, for Marryat had served on
the station in either 1813 or 1814, and Michael Scott lived for sixteen
years in Jamaica, from 1806 to 1822, at first as manager of a sugar
estate, and then as a merchant in Kingston. Marryat and Scott were
practically contemporaries, though the former was the younger by three
years, being born in 1792. I am told that now-a-days boys care for
neither of these books; if so, the loss is theirs. What attracted me in
these authors' West Indian pictures was the fact that here was a
community of British-born people living a reckless, rollicking, Charles
Lever-like sort of life in a most deadly climate, thousands of miles
from home, apparently equally indifferent to earthquakes, hurricanes,
or yellow fever, for at the beginning of the twentieth century no one
who has not read the Colonial records, or visited West Indian churches,
can form the faintest idea of the awful ravages of yellow fever, nor of
the vast amount of victims this appalling scourge claimed. Now,
improved sanitation and the knowledge that the yellow death is carried
by the Stegomyia mosquito, with the precautionary methods suggested by
that knowledge, have almost entirely eliminated yellow fever from the
West India islands; but in Marryat and Scott's time to be ordered to
the West Indies was looked upon as equivalent to a death sentence. Yet
every writer enlarges upon the exquisite beauty of these green, sun-
kissed islands, and regrets bitterly that so enchanting an earthly
paradise should be the very ante-room of death.

In spite of the unhealthy climate, in the days when King Sugar reigned
undisputed, the owners of sugar estates, attracted by the enormous
fortunes then to be made, and fully alive to the fact that in the case
of absentee proprietors profits tended to go everywhere except into
the owners' pockets, deliberately braved the climate, settled down for
life (usually a brief one) in either Jamaica or Barbados, built
themselves sumptuous houses, stocked with silver plate and rare wines,
and held high and continual revel until such time as Yellow Jack
should claim them. In the East Indies the soldiers and Civil Servants
of "John Company," and the merchant community, "shook the pagoda tree"
until they had accumulated sufficient fortunes on which to retire,
when they returned to England with yellow faces and torpid livers,
grumbling like Jos Sedley to the ends of their lives about the cold,
and the carelessness of English cooks in preparing curries, and
harbouring unending regrets for the flesh-pots and comforts of life in
Boggley Wollah, which in retrospect no doubt appeared more attractive
than they had done in reality. The West Indian, on the other hand,
settled down permanently with his wife and family in the island of his
choice. Barbados and Jamaica are the only two tropical countries under
the British flag where there was a resident white gentry born and bred
in the country, with country places handed down from father to son. In
these two islands not one word of any language but English was ever to
be heard from either black or white. The English parochial system had
been transplanted bodily, and successfully, with guardians and
overseers complete; in a word, they were colonies in the strictest
sense of the word; transplanted portions of the motherland, with most
of its institutions, dumped down into the Caribbean Sea, but blighted
until 1834 by the curse of negro slavery. It was this overseas
England, set amidst the most enchanting tropical scenery and
vegetation, that I was so anxious to see. Michael Scott, both in _Tom
Cringle_ and _The Cruise of the Midge_, gave the most alluring pictures
of Creole society (a Creole does _not_ mean a coloured person; any one
born in the West Indies of pure white parents is a Creole); they
certainly seemed to get drunk more than was necessary, yet the
impression left on one's mind was not unlike that produced by the
purely fictitious Ireland of Charles Lever's novels: one continual
round of junketing, feasting, and practical jokes; and what gave the
pictures additional piquancy was the knowledge that death was all the
while peeping round the corner, and that Yellow Jack might at any
moment touch one of these light-hearted revellers with his burning
finger-tips.

Lady Nugent, wife of Sir George Nugent, Governor of Jamaica from 1801
to 1806, kept a voluminous diary during her stay in the island, and
most excellent reading it makes. She was thus rather anterior in date
to Michael Scott, but their descriptions tally very closely. I shall
have a good deal to say about Lady Nugent.

The West Indies make an appeal of a different nature to all Britons.
They were the training-ground and school of all the great British
Admirals from Drake to Nelson. Benbow died of his wounds at Port Royal
in Jamaica, and was buried in Kingston Parish Church in 1702, whilst
Rodney's memory is still so cherished by West Indians, white and
coloured alike, that serious riots broke out when his statue was
removed from Spanish Town to Kingston, and his effigy had eventually
to be placed in the memorial temple which grateful Spanish Town
erected to commemorate his great victory over de Grasse off Dominica
on April 12, 1782, as the result of which the Lesser Antilles remained
British instead of French. For all these reasons I had experienced,
since the age of thirteen, an intense longing to see these lovely
islands with all their historic associations.

In 1884 I travelled from Buenos Ayres to Canada in a tramp steamer
simply and solely because she was advertised to call at Barbados and
Jamaica. Never shall I forget my first night in that tramp. I soon
became conscious of uninvited guests in my bunk, so, striking a light
(strictly against rules in the ships of those days), I discovered
regiments and army corps of noisome, crawling vermin marching in
serried ranks into my bunk under the impression that it was their
parade ground. For the remainder of the voyage I slept on the saloon
table, a hard but cleanly couch. We lay for a week at Rio de Janeiro
loading coffee, and we touched at Bahia and at Pernambuco. At this
latter place as at Rio an epidemic of yellow fever was raging, so we
had not got a clean bill-of-health. As the blunt-nosed tramp pushed
her leisurely way northward through the oily ultra-marine expanse of
tropical seas, I thought longingly of the green island for which we
were heading. We reached Carlisle Bay, Barbados, at daybreak on a
glorious June morning, and waited impatiently in the roadstead (there
is no harbour in Barbados) for the liberating visit of the medical
officer from the shore. He arrived, gave one glance at our
bill-of-health, and sternly refused _pratique_, so the hateful
yellow flag remained fluttering at the fore in the Trade wind,
announcing to all and sundry that we were cut off from all
communication with the shore. Never was there a more aggravating
situation! Barbados, all emerald green after the rainy season, looked
deliciously enticing from the ship. The "flamboyant" trees,
_Ponciana Regia_, were in full bloom, making great patches of
vivid scarlet round the Savannah. The houses and villas peeping out of
luxuriant tangles of tropical vegetation had a delightfully home-like
look to eyes accustomed for two years to South American surroundings.
Seen through a glass from the ship's deck, the Public Buildings in
Trafalgar Square, solid and substantial, had all the unimaginative
neatness of any prosaic provincial townhall at home. We were clearly
no longer in a Latin-American country. It was really a piece of
England translated to the Caribbean Sea, and we few passengers, some
of whom had not seen England for many weary years, were forbidden to
set foot on this outpost of home. It was most exasperating; for never
did any island look more inviting, and surely such dazzling white
houses, such glowing red roofs, such vivid greenery, and so absurdly
blue a sea, had never been seen in conjunction before. Barbados is
almost exactly the size of the Isle of Wight, but in spite of its
restricted area, all the Barbadians, both white and coloured, have the
most exalted opinion of their island, which in those days they
lovingly termed "Bimshire," white Barbadians being then known as
"Bims." Students of Marryat will remember how Mr. Apollo Johnson, at
Miss Betty Austin's coloured "Dignity ball," declared that "All de
world fight against England, but England nebber fear; King George
nebber fear while Barbados 'tand 'tiff," and something of that
sentiment persists still to-day. As a youngster I used to laugh till I
cried at the rebuff administered to Peter Simple by Miss Minerva at
the same "Dignity ball." Peter was carving a turkey, and asked his
swarthy partner whether he might send her a slice of the breast.
Shocked at such coarseness, the dusky but delicate damsel simpered
demurely, "Sar, I take a lily piece turkey bosom, if you please."
Dignity balls are still held in Barbados; they are rather trying to
one of the senses. In the "eighties" it was a point of honour amongst
"Bims" to wear on all and every occasion a high black silk hat. During
our enforced quarantine we saw a number of white Bims sailing little
yachts about the roadstead, every single man of them crowned with a
high silk hat, about the most uncomfortable head-gear imaginable for
sailing in. Another agreeable home-touch was to hear the negro boatmen
all talking to each other in English. Their speech may not have been
melodious, but it fell pleasantly enough on ears accustomed for so
long to hear nothing but Spanish. From my intimate acquaintance with
Marryat, even the jargon of the negro boatmen struck me with a
delightful sense of familiarity, as did the very place-names, Needham
Point and Carlisle Bay. I was fated not to see Barbados again for
twenty-two years.

In the early part of the eighteenth century a French missionary, one
Father Labat, visited Barbados and gave the most glowing account of it
to his countrymen. According to him the island was brimful of wealth,
and the jewellers' and silversmiths' shops in Bridgetown rivalled
those of Paris. I should be inclined to question Father Labat's strict
veracity. This worthy priest declared that the planters lived in
sumptuous houses, superbly furnished, that their dinners lasted four
hours, and their tables were crowded with gold and silver plate. The
statement as to the length of the planters' dinners is probably an
accurate one, for I myself have been the recipient of Barbadian
hospitality, and had never before even imagined such an endless
procession of fish, flesh, and fowl, not to mention turtle,
land-crabs, and pepper-pot. West Indian negresses seem to have a
natural gift for cooking, though their _cuisine_ is a very highly
spiced and full-flavoured one.

Father Labat's motive in drawing so glorified a picture of Barbados
peeps out at the end of his account, for he drily remarks that the
fortifications of the island were most inadequate, and that it could
easily be captured by the French; he was clearly making an appeal to
his countrymen's cupidity.

Upon making the acquaintance of Bridgetown some twenty years after my
first quarantine visit, I can hardly endorse Father Labat's opinion
that the streets are strikingly handsome, for Bridgetown, like most
British West Indian towns, looks as though all the houses were built
of cards or paper. It is, however, a bright, cheery little spot, seems
prosperous enough, and has its own Trafalgar Square, decorated with
its own very fine statue of Nelson. Every house both in Jamaica and
Barbados is fitted with sash-windows in the English style. This
fidelity to the customs of the motherland is very touching but hardly
practical, for in the burning climate of the West Indies every
available breath of fresh air is welcome. With French windows, the
entire window-space can be opened; with sashes, one-half of the window
remains necessarily blocked.

Let strangers beware of "Barbados Green Bitters." It is a most
comforting local cocktail, apparently quite innocuous. It is not;
under its silkiness it is abominably potent. One "green bitter" is
food, two are dangerous.

In St. John's churchyard, some fourteen miles from Bridgetown, is to
be seen one of the most striking examples of the vanity of human
greatness. A stone reproduction of the porch of a Greek temple bears
this inscription,

     HERE LYETH YE BODY OF
     FERDINANDO PALEOLOGOS
  DESCENDED FROM YE IMPERIAL LYNE
     OF YE LAST CHRISTIAN
     EMPERORS OF GREECE
  CHURCHWARDEN OF THIS PARISH
        1655-1656
   VESTRYMAN TWENTY YEARS
    DIED OCTOBER 3, 1678.

Just think of it! The last descendant of Constantine, the last scion
of the proud Emperors of Byzantium, commemorated as vestryman and
churchwarden of a country parish in a little, unknown island in the
Caribbean, only then settled for seventy-three years! Could any
preacher quote a more striking instance of "_sic transit gloria
mundi_"?

Codrington College, not far from St. John's church, is rather a
surprise. Few people would expect to come across a little piece of
Oxford in a tropical island, or to find a college building over two
hundred years old in Barbados, complete with hall and chapel. The
facade of Codrington is modelled on either Queen's or the New
Buildings at Magdalen, Oxford, and the college is affiliated to Durham
University. Originally intended as a place of education for the sons
of white planters it is now wholly given over to coloured students.
It can certainly claim the note of the unexpected, and the quiet
eighteenth-century dignity of its architecture is enhanced by the
broad lake which fronts it, and by the exceedingly pretty tropical
park in which it stands. Codrington boasts some splendid specimens of
the "Royal" palm, the _Palmiste_ of the French, which is one of
the glories of West Indian scenery.

Though Father Labat may have drawn the longbow intentionally, some of
the country houses erected by the sugar planters in the heyday of the
colony's riotous prosperity are really very fine indeed, although at
present they have mostly changed hands, or been left derelict. Long
Bay Castle, now unoccupied, is a most ambitious building, with marble
stairs, beautiful plaster ceilings, and some of its original
Chippendale furniture still remaining. A curious feature of all these
Barbadian houses is the hurricane-wing, built of extra strength and
fitted with iron shutters, into which all the family locked themselves
when the fall of the barometer announced the approach of a hurricane.
I was shown one hurricane-wing which had successfully withstood two
centuries of these visitations.

Barbados is the only ugly island of the West Indian group, for every
available foot is planted with sugar-cane, and the unbroken,
undulating sea of green is monotonous. In the hilly portions, however,
there are some very attractive bits of scenery.

On my first visit, as I have already said, I saw nothing of all this,
except through glasses from the deck of a tramp. I was also to be
denied a sight of Jamaica, for the Captain knew that he would be
refused _pratique_ there, and settled to steam direct to the Danish
island of St. Thomas, where quarantine regulations were less strict, so
all my voyage was for nothing.

Not for over twenty years after was I to make the acquaintance of
Kingston and Port Royal and the Palisadoes, all very familiar names to
me from my constant reading of Marryat and Michael Scott.

I suppose that every one draws mental pictures of places that they
have constantly heard about, and that most people have noticed how
invariably the real place is not only totally different from the fancy
picture, but almost aggressively so.

I have already mentioned Lady Nugent's journal or "Jamaica in 1801." I
am persuaded that she must have been a most delightful little
creature. She was very tiny, as she tells us herself, and had brown
curly hair. She was a little coy about her age, which she confided to
no one; by her own directions, it was omitted even from her tombstone,
but from internal evidence we know that when her husband, Sir George
Nugent, was appointed Governor of Jamaica on April 1, 1801 (how
sceptical he must have been at first as to the genuineness of this
appointment! One can almost hear him ejaculating "Quite so. You don't
make an April fool of me!"), she was either thirty or thirty-one years
old. Lady Nugent was as great an adept as Mrs. Fairchild, of revered
memory, at composing long prayers, every one of which she enters _in
extenso_ in her diary, but not only was there a delightful note of
feminine coquetry about her, but she also possessed a keen sense of
humour, two engaging attributes in which, I fear, that poor
Mrs. Fairchild was lamentably lacking.

Lady Nugent and her husband sailed out to Jamaica in a man-of-war,
H.M.S. _Ambuscade_, in June, 1801. As Sir George Nugent had been
from 1799 to 1801 Adjutant-General in Ireland, this name must have had
quite a home-like sound to him. We read in Lady Nugent's diary of June
25, 1801, after a lengthy supplication for protection against the
perils of the deep, the following charmingly feminine note: "My
nightcaps are so smart that I wear them all day, for to tell the truth
I really think I look better in my nightcap than in my bonnet, and as
I am surrounded by men who do not know a nightcap from a daycap, it is
no matter what I do." Dear little thing! I am sure she looked too
sweet in them. They sailed from Cork on June 5, and reached Barbados
on July 17, which seems a quick voyage. They stayed one night at an
inn in Bridgetown, and gave a dinner-party for which the bill was over
sixty pounds. This strikes quite a modern note, and might really have
been in post-war days instead of in 1801.

Lady Nugent found the society in Jamaica, both that of officials and
of planters and their wives, intensely uncongenial to her. "Nothing is
ever talked of in this horrid island but the price of sugar. The only
other topics of conversation are debt, disease and death." She was
much shocked at the low standard of morality prevailing amongst the
white men in the colony, and disgusted at the perpetual gormandising
and drunkenness. The frequent deaths from yellow fever amongst her
acquaintance, and the terrible rapidity with which Yellow Jack slew,
depressed her dreadfully, and she was startled at the callous fashion
in which people, hardened by many years' experience of the scourge,
received the news of the death of their most intimate friends. She was
perpetually complaining of the unbearable heat, to which she never got
acclimatised; she suffered "sadly" from the mosquitoes, and never
could get used to earthquakes, hurricanes, or scorpions.

With these exceptions, she seems to have liked Jamaica very well. It
must have been an extraordinary community, and to understand it we
must remember the conditions prevailing. Bryan Edwards, in his
_History of the British West Indies_, published in 1793, called
them "the principal source of the national opulence and maritime power
of England"; and without the stream of wealth pouring into Great
Britain from Barbados and Jamaica, the long struggle with France would
have been impossible.

The term "as rich as a West Indian" was proverbial, and in 1803 the
West Indies were accountable for one-third of the imports and exports
of Great Britain.

The price of sugar in 1803 was fifty-two shillings a hundredweight.
Wealth was pouring into the island and into the pockets of the
planters. Lady Nugent constantly alludes to sugar estates worth
20,000 or 30,000 pounds a year. These planters were six weeks distant
from England, and, except during the two years' respite which followed
the Treaty of Amiens, Great Britain had been intermittently at war with
either France or Spain during the whole of the eighteenth century. The
preliminary articles of peace between France and Britain were signed
on October 1, 1801, the Peace of Amiens itself on March 27, 1802, but
in July, 1803, hostilities between the two countries were again
renewed. All this meant that communications between the colony and the
motherland were very precarious. Nominally a mail-packet sailed from
Jamaica once a month, but the seas were swarming with swift-sailing
French and Spanish privateers, hanging about the trade-routes on the
chance of capturing West Indiamen with their rich cargoes, so the
mail-packets had to wait till a convoy assembled, and were then
escorted home by men-of-war. This entailed the increasing isolation of
the white community in Jamaica, who, in their outlook on life,
retained the eighteenth-century standpoint. Now the eighteenth century
was a thoroughly gross and material epoch. People had a pretty taste
in clothes, and a nice feeling for good architecture, graceful
furniture, and artistic house decoration, but this was a veneer only,
and under the veneer lay an ingrained grossness of mind, just as the
gorgeous satins and dainty brocades covered dirty, unwashed
bodies. Even the complexions of the women were artificial to mask the
defects of a sparing use of soap and water, and they drenched
themselves with perfumes to hide the unpleasant effects of this lack
of bodily cleanliness. On the surface hyper-refinement, glitter and
show; beneath it a crude materialism and an ingrained grossness of
temperament. What else could be expected when all the men got drunk as
a matter of course almost every night of their lives? Over the
coarsest description of wood lay a very highly polished veneer of
satin-wood, which might possibly deceive the eye, but once scratch the
paper-thin veneer and the ugly under-surface was at once
apparent. Money rolled into the pockets of these Jamaican planters;
there is but little sport possible in the island, and they had no
intellectual pursuits, so they just built fine houses, filled them
with rare china, Chippendale furniture, and silver plate, and found
their amusements in eating, drinking and gambling.

Even to-day the climate of Jamaica is very enervating. Wise people
know now that to keep in health in hot countries alcohol, and wine
especially, must be avoided. Meat must be eaten very sparingly, and an
abstemious regime will bring its own reward. In the eighteenth
century, however, people apparently thought that vast quantities of
food and drink would combat the debilitating effects of the climate,
and that, too, at a time when yellow fever was endemic. There are
still old-fashioned people who are obsessed with the idea that the
more you eat the stronger you grow. The Creoles in Jamaica certainly
put this theory into effect. Michael Scott, in _Tom Cringle_, describes
many Gargantuan repasts amongst the Kingston merchants, and as he
himself was one of them, we can presume he knew what he was writing
about. The men, too, habitually drank, of all beverages in the
world to select in the scorching heat of Jamaica, hot brandy and
water, and then they wondered that they died of yellow fever! Every
white man and woman in the island seems to have been gorged with
food. It was really a case of "let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we
die"; but if they hadn't eaten and drunk so enormously, presumably
they would not have died so rapidly.

Lady Nugent was much disgusted with this gormandising. On page 78 of
her journal she says, "I don't wonder now at the fever the people
suffer from here--such eating and drinking I never saw! Such loads of
rich and highly-seasoned things, and really the gallons of wine and
mixed liquors that they drink! I observed some of our party to-day eat
at breakfast as if they had never eaten before. A dish of tea, another
of coffee, a bumper of claret, another large one of hock-negus; then
Madeira, sangaree, hot and cold meats, stews and pies, hot and cold
fish pickled and plain, peppers, ginger-sweetmeats, acid fruit, sweet
jellies--in short, it was all as astonishing as it was disgusting."

It really does seem a fair allowance for a simple morning meal.

The life of a Governor of Jamaica is now principally taken up with
quiet administrative work, but in 1802 he was supposed to hold a
succession of reviews, to give personal audiences, endless balls and
dinners, to make tours of inspection round the island; and, in
addition, as _ex officio_ Chancellor of Jamaica, it was his duty
to preside at all the sittings of the Court of Chancery. During their
many tours of inspection poor little Lady Nugent complains that, with
the best wishes in the world, she really could not eat five large
meals a day. She continues (page 95), "At the Moro to-day, our dinner
at 6 was really so profuse that it is worth describing. The first
course was of fish, with an entire jerked hog in the centre, and a
black crab pepper-pot. The second course was of turtle, mutton, beef,
turkey, goose, ducks, chicken, capons, ham, tongue, and crab patties.
The third course was of sweets and fruits of all kinds. I felt quite
sick, what with the heat and such a profusion of eatables."

One wonders what those planters' weekly bills would have amounted to
at the present-day scale of prices, and can no longer feel surprised
at their all running into debt, in spite of their huge incomes. The
drinking, too, was on the same scale. Lady Nugent remarks (page 108),
"I am not astonished at the general ill-health of the men in this
country, for they really eat like cormorants and drink like porpoises.
All the men of our party got drunk to-night, even to a boy of fifteen,
who was obliged to be carried home." Tom Cringle, in his account of a
dinner-party in Cuba, remarks airily, "We, the males of the party, had
drunk little or nothing, a bottle of claret or so apiece, a dram of
brandy, and a good deal of vin-de-grave (_sic_)," and he really
thinks that nothing: moderation itself in that sweltering climate!

In spite of her disgust at the immense amount of food devoured round
her, Lady Nugent seems to have adopted a Jamaican scale of diet for
her children, for when she returned to England with them in the
_Augustus Caesar_ in 1805, she gives the following account of the
day's routine on board the ship. It must be observed that George, the
elder child, was not yet three, and that Louisa was under two. "When I
awake, the old steward brings me a dish of ginger tea. I then dress,
and breakfast with the children. At eleven the children have biscuits,
and some port wine and water. George eats some chicken or mutton at
twelve, and at two they each have a bowl of strong soup. At four we
all dine; I go to my cabin at half-past seven, and soon after eight I
am always in bed and the babies fast asleep. The old steward then
comes to my bedside with a large tumbler of porter with a toast in it.
I eat the toast, drink the porter, and usually rest well."

Those two unfortunate children must have landed in England two
miniature Daniel Lamberts. It is pleasant to learn that little George
lived to the age of ninety. Had he not been so stuffed with food in
his youth, he would probably have been a centenarian.

During Nugent's term of office events in Haiti, or San Domingo, as it
was still called then, occasioned him great anxiety. Before the
outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Haiti had been the most
prosperous and the most highly civilised of the West Indian islands.
But after the French National Assembly had, in 1791, decreed equal
rights between whites and mulattoes, troubles began. The blacks
rebelled; the French rescinded the decree of 1791 and, changing their
minds again, re-affirmed it. The blacks began murdering and plundering
the whites, and many planters emigrated to Jamaica and the United
States. That most extraordinary man, Toussaint l'Ouverture, a pure
negro, who had been born a slave, re-established some form of order in
Haiti until Napoleon, when the preliminary articles of the Peace of
Amiens had been signed between Britain and France, hit upon the idea
of employing his soldiers in Haiti, and sent out his brother-in-law,
General Le Clerc, with 25,000 French soldiers to re-conquer the
island. It was a most ill-fated expedition; the soldiers could not
withstand the climate, and died like flies; France losing, from first
to last, no less than 40,000 men from yellow fever. In 1802, Le Clerc,
who seems to have been a great scoundrel, died, and in 1804 Haiti
declared her independence.

After the Peace of Amiens the French Government were exceedingly
anxious to secure the cooperation of British troops from Jamaica,
seasoned to the climate, in restoring order in Haiti, and even offered
to cede them such portions of Haiti as were willing to come under the
British flag. During the ten months of General Le Clerc's
administration of Haiti he was perpetually sending envoys to General
Nugent in Jamaica, and continually offering him presents. It is not
uncharitable to suppose that these presents were proffered with a view
of winning Nugent's support to the idea of a British expedition to
Haiti. Nugent, however, sternly refused all these gifts. Madame Le
Clerc, Napoleon's sister, who is better known as the beautiful
Princess Pauline Borghese, a lady with an infinity of admirers, was
far more subtle in her methods. Her presents to Lady Nugent took the
irresistible form of dresses of the latest Parisian fashion, and were
eagerly accepted by that volatile little lady. Indeed, for ten months
she seems to have been entirely dressed by Madame Le Clerc, who even
provided little George Nugent's christening robe of white muslin,
heavily embroidered in gold. Ladies may be interested in Lady Nugent's
account of her various dresses. "Last night at the ball I wore a new
dress of purple crape, embroidered and heavily spangled in gold, given
me by Madame Le Clerc. The skirt rather short; the waist very high.
On my head I wore a wreath of gilded bay-leaves, and must have looked
like a Roman Empress. I think that purple suits me, for every one
declared that they never saw me looking better." Dear little lady! I
am sure that she never did, and that the piquant little face on the
frontispiece, with its roguish eyes, looked charming under her gold
wreath. Again, "I wore a lovely dress of pink crape spangled in
silver, sent me by Madame Le Clerc." She gives a fuller account of her
dress at the great ball given her to celebrate her recovery after the
birth of her son (Dec. 30, 1802).

"For the benefit of posterity I will describe my dress on this grand
occasion. A crape dress, embroidered in silver spangles, also sent me
by Madame Le Clerc, but much richer than that which I wore at the last
ball. Scarcely any sleeves to my dress, but a broad silver spangled
border to the shoulder-straps. The body made very like a child's
frock, tying behind, and the skirt round, with not much train. On my
head a turban of spangled crape like the dress, looped-up with pearls.
This dress, the admiration of all the world over, will, perhaps, fifty
years hence, be laughed at, and considered as ridiculous as our
grandmothers' hoops and brocades appear to us now."

In fairness it must be stated that General Nugent punctiliously
returned all Madame Le Clerc's presents to his wife with gifts of
English cut-glass, then apparently much appreciated by the French. He
seems to have sent absolute cart-loads of cut-glass to Haiti, but in
days when men habitually drank two bottles of wine apiece after
dinner, there was presumably a fair amount of breakage of decanters
and tumblers.

I notice that although Lady Nugent complains on almost every page of
"the appalling heat," the "unbearable heat," the "terrific heat, which
gives me these sad headaches," she seems always ready to dance for
hours at any time. Some idea of the ceremonious manners of the day is
obtained from the perpetual entry "went to bed with my knees aching
from the hundreds of curtsies I have had to make to the company."

In 1811 Sir George Nugent was appointed Commander-in-Chief in Bengal,
and their voyage from Portsmouth to Calcutta occupied exactly six
months, yet there are people who grumble at the mails now taking
eighteen days to traverse the distance between London and Calcutta.

Lady Nugent was much shocked at the universal habit of smoking amongst
Europeans in the East Indies. She sternly refused to allow their two
aides-de-camp to smoke, "for as they are both only twenty-five, they
are too young to begin so odious a custom," an idea which will amuse
the fifteen-year-olds of today.

Not till 1906 did I find myself sailing into Kingston Harbour and
actually set eyes on Port Royal, the Palisadoes, and Fort Augusta, all
very familiar by name to me since my boyhood.

I had taken the trip to shake off a prolonged bronchial attack; a
young Guardsman, a friend of mine, though my junior by many years, was
convalescent after an illness, and was also recommended a sunbath, so
we travelled together. The hotels being all full, we took up our
quarters in a small boarding-house, standing in dense groves of orange
trees, where each shiver of the night breeze sent the branches of the
orange trees swish-swishing, and wafted great breaths of the delicious
fragrance of orange blossom into our rooms. I was in bed, when the
Guardsman, who had never been in the tropics before, rushed
terror-stricken into my room. "I have drunk nothing whatever," he
faltered, "but I must be either very drunk or else mad, for I keep
fancying that my room is full of moving electric lights." I went into
his room, where I found some half-dozen of the peculiarly brilliant
Jamaican fireflies cruising about. The Guardsman refused at first to
believe that any insect could produce so bright a light, and bemoaned
the loss of his mental faculties, until I caught a firefly and showed
him its two lamps gleaming like miniature motor head-lights.

Some pictures stand out startlingly clear-cut in the memory. Such a
one is the recollection of our first morning in Jamaica. The
Guardsman, full of curiosity to see something of the mysterious
tropical island into which we had been deposited after nightfall,
awoke me at daybreak. After landing from the mail-steamer in the dark,
we had had merely impressions of oven-like heat, and of a long,
dim-lit drive in endless suburbs of flimsily built, wooden houses,
through the spice-scented, hot, black-velvet night, enlivened with
almost indecently intimate glimpses into humble interiors, where
swarthy dark forms jabbered and gesticulated, clustered round smoky
oil-lamps; and as the suburbs gave place to the open country, the vast
leaves of unfamiliar growths stood out, momentarily silhouetted
against the blackness by the gleam of our carriage lamps.

It being so early, the Guardsman and I went out as we were, in pyjamas
and slippers, with, of course, sufficient head protection against the
fierce sun. Just a fortnight before we had left England under snow, in
the grip of a black frost; London had been veiled in incessant thick
fogs for ten days, and we had fallen straight into the most
exquisitely beautiful island on the face of the globe, bathed in
perpetual summer.

When we had traversed the grove of orange trees, we came upon a lovely
little sunk-garden, where beds of cannas, orange, sulphur, and
scarlet, blazed round a marble fountain, with a silvery jet splashing
and leaping into the sunshine. The sunk-garden was surrounded on three
sides by a pergola, heavily draped with yellow alamandas, drifts of
wine-coloured bougainvillaa, and pale-blue solanums, the size of
saucers. In the clear morning light it really looked entrancingly
lovely. On the fourth side the garden ended in a terrace dominating
the entire Liguanea plain, with the city of Kingston, Kingston
Harbour, Port Royal, and the hills on the far side spread out below us
like a map. Those hills are now marked on the Ordnance Survey as the
"Healthshire Hills." This is a modern euphemism, for the name
originally given to those hills and the district round them by the
soldiers stationed in the "Apostles' Battery," was "Hellshire," and
any one who has had personal experience of the heat there, can hardly
say that the title is inappropriate. From our heights, even Kingston
itself looked inviting, an impression not confirmed by subsequent
visits to that unlovely town. The long, sickle-shape sandspit of the
Palisadoes separated Kingston Harbour on one side from the blue waters
of the Caribbean Sea; on the other side the mangrove swamps of the Rio
Cobre made unnaturally vivid patches of emerald green against the
background of hills. On railways a green flag denotes that caution
must be observed; the vivid green of the mangroves is Nature's
caution-flag to the white man, for where the mangrove flourishes,
there fever lurks.

The whole scene was so wonderfully beautiful under the blazing
sunlight, and in the crystal-clear atmosphere, that the Guardsman
refused to accept it as genuine. "It can't be real!" he cried, "this
is January. We have got somehow into a pantomime transformation scene.
In a minute it will go, and I shall wake up in Wellington Barracks to
find it freezing like mad, with my owl of a servant telling me that I
have to be on parade in five minutes." This lengthy warrior showed,
too, a childish incredulity when I pointed out to him cocoa-nuts
hanging on the palms; a field of growing pineapples below us, or great
clusters of fruit on the banana trees. Pineapples, cocoanuts, and
bananas were bought in shops; they did not grow on trees. He would
insist that the great orange flowers, the size of cabbages, on the
Brownea trees were artificial, as were the big blue trumpets of the
Morning Glories. He was in reality quite intoxicated with the novelty
and the glamour of his first peep into the tropics. By came
fluttering a great, gorgeous butterfly, the size of a saucer, and
after it rushed the Guardsman, shedding slippers around him as his
long legs bent to their task. He might just as well have attempted to
catch the Scotch Express; but, as he returned to me dripping, he began
to realise what the heat of Jamaica can do. All the remainder of that
day the Guardsman remained under the spell of the entrancing beauty of
his new surroundings, and I was dragged on foot for miles and miles;
along country lanes, through the Hope Botanical Gardens, down into the
deep ravine of the Hope River, then back again, both of us dripping
wet in the fierce heat, in spite of our white drill suits, larding the
ground as we walked, oozing from every pore, but always urged on and
on by my enthusiastic young friend, who, suffering from a paucity of
epithets, kept up monotonous ejaculations of "How absolutely d----d
lovely it all is!" every two minutes.

I had to remain a full hour in the swimming-bath after my exertions;
and the Guardsman had quite determined by night-time to "send in his
papers," and settle down as a coffee-planter in this enchanting
island.

It is curious that although the Spaniards held Jamaica for one hundred
and sixty-one years, no trace of the Spaniard in language, customs, or
architecture is left in the island, for Spain has generally left her
permanent impress on all countries occupied by her, and has planted
her language and her customs definitely in them. The one exception as
regards Jamaica is found in certain place-names such as Ocho Rios, Rio
Grande, and Rio Cobre, but as these are all pronounced in the English
fashion, the music of the Spanish names is lost. Not one word of any
language but English (of a sort) is now heard in the colony. When
Columbus discovered the island in 1494, he called it Santiago,
St. James being the patron saint of Spain, but the native name of
Xaymaca (which being interpreted means "the land of springs")
persisted somehow, and really there are enough Santiagos already
dotted about in Spanish-speaking countries, without further additions
to them. When Admiral Penn and General Venables were sent out by
Cromwell to break the Spanish power in the West Indies, they succeeded
in capturing Jamaica in 1655, and British the island has remained ever
since. To this day the arms of Jamaica are Cromwell's arms slightly
modified, and George V is not King, but "Supreme Lord of Jamaica," the
original title assumed by Cromwell. The fine statue of Queen Victoria
in Kingston is inscribed "Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress
of India, and Supreme Lady of Jamaica."

Venables found that the Spaniards, craving for yet another Santiago,
had called the capital of the island Santiago de la Vega, "St. James
of the Plain," and to this day the official name of Spanish Town, the
old capital, is St. Jago de Vega, and as such is inscribed on all the
milestones, only as it is pronounced in the English fashion, it is now
one of the ugliest names imaginable. The wonderfully beautiful gorge
of the Rio Cobre, above Spanish Town, was called by the conquistadores
"Spouting Waters," or Bocas de Agua. This has been Anglicised into the
hideous name of Bog Walk, just as the "High Waters," Agua Alta, on the
north side of the island, has become the Wagwater River. The Spanish
forms seem preferable to me.

Some one has truly said that the old Spaniards shared all the coral
insect's mania for building. As soon as they had conquered a place,
they set to work to build a great cathedral, and simultaneously, the
church then being distinctly militant, a large and solid fort. They
then proceeded to erect massive walls and ramparts round their new
settlement, and most of these ramparts are surviving to-day. We, in
true British haphazard style, did not build for posterity, but allowed
ramshackle towns to spring up anyhow without any attempt at design or
plan. There are many things we could learn from the Spanish. Their
solid, dignified cities of massive stone houses with deep, heavy
arcades into which the sun never penetrates; their broad plazas where
cool fountains spout under great shade-trees; their imposing
over-ornate churches, their general look of solid permanence, put to
shame our flimsy, ephemeral, planless British West Indian towns of
match-boarding and white paint. We seldom look ahead: they always did.
Added to which it would be, of course, too much trouble to lay out
towns after definite designs; it is much easier to let them grow up
anyhow. On the other hand, the British colonial towns have all good
water supplies, and efficient systems of sewerage, which atones in
some degree for their architectural shortcomings; whilst the Spaniard
would never dream of bothering his head about sanitation, and would be
content with a very inadequate water supply. Provided that he had
sufficient water for the public fountains, the Spaniard would not
trouble about a domestic supply. The Briton contrives an ugly town in
which you can live in reasonable health and comfort; the Spaniard
fashions a most picturesque city in which you are extremely like to
die. Racial ideals differ.




CHAPTER V

An election meeting in Jamaica--Two family experiences at contested
elections--Novel South African methods--Unattractive Kingston--A
driving tour through the island--The Guardsman as orchid
hunter--Derelict country houses--An attempt to reconstruct the
past--The Fourth-Form Room at Harrow--Elizabethan Harrovians--I meet
many friends of my youth--The "Sunday" books of the 'sixties--"Black
and White"--Arrival of the French Fleet--Its inner
meaning--International courtesies--A delicate attention--Absent
alligators--The mangrove swamp--A preposterous suggestion--The swamps
do their work--Fever--A very gallant apprentice--What he did.


The Guardsman's enthusiasm about Jamaica remaining unabated, I
determined to hire a buggy and pair and to make a fortnight's
leisurely tour of the North Coast and centre of the island. Though not
peculiarly expeditious, this is a very satisfactory mode of travel; no
engine troubles, no burst tyres, and no worries about petrol supplies.
A new country can be seen and absorbed far more easily from a
horse-drawn vehicle than from a hurrying motor-car, and the little
country inns in Jamaica, though very plainly equipped, are, as a rule,
excellent, with surprisingly good if somewhat novel food.

As the member for St. Andrews in the local Legislative Council had
just died, an election was being held in Kingston. Curious as to what
an election-meeting in Jamaica might be like, we attended one. The
hall was very small, and densely packed with people, and the
suffocating heat drove us away after a quarter of an hour; but never
have I, in so short a space of time, heard such violent personalities
hurled from a public platform, although I have had a certain amount of
experience of contested elections. In 1868, when I was eleven years
old, I was in Londonderry City when my brother Claud, the sitting
member, was opposed by Mr. Serjeant Dowse, afterwards Baron Dowse, the
last of the Irish "Barons of the Exchequer." Party feeling ran very
high indeed; whenever a body of Dowse's supporters met my brother in
the street, they commenced singing in chorus, to a popular tune of the
day:

  "Dowse for iver! Claud in the river!
  With a skiver through his liver."

Whilst my brother's adherents greeted Dowse in public with a sort of
monotonous chant to these elegant words:

  "Dowse! Dowse! you're a dirty louse,
  And ye'll niver sit in the Commons' House."

It will be noticed that this is in the same rhythm that Mark Twain
made so popular some twenty years later in his conductor's song.

  "Punch, brothers, punch with care,
  Punch in the presence of the passen-jare."

In spite of the confident predictions of my brother's followers, Dowse
won the seat by a small majority, nor did my brother succeed in
unseating him afterwards on Petition.

Another occasion on which feeling ran very high was in Middlesex
during the 1874 election. Here my brother George was the Conservative
candidate, and owing to his having played cricket for Harrow at
Lord's, he was supported enthusiastically by the whole school, the
Harrow masters being at that time Liberals almost to a man. My tutor,
a prominent local Liberal, must have been enormously gratified at
finding the exterior of his house literally plastered from top to
bottom with crimson placards (crimson is the Conservative colour in
Middlesex) all urging the electors to "vote for Hamilton the proved
Friend of the People." Possibly fraternal affection may have had
something to do with this crimson outburst. My youngest brother took,
as far as his limited opportunities allowed him, an energetic part in
this election. He got indeed into some little trouble, for being only
fifteen years old and not yet versed in the niceties of political
controversy, he endeavoured to give weight and point to one of his
arguments with the aid of the sharp end of a football goal-post. My
brother George was returned by an enormous majority.

The most original electioneering poster I ever saw was in Capetown in
March, 1914. It was an admirably got-up enlargement of a funeral card,
with a deep black border, adorned with a realistic picture of a
hearse, and was worded "Unionist Opposition dead. Government dying.
Electors of the Liesbeck Division drive your big nails into the coffin
by voting for Tom Maginess on Saturday." Whether it was due to this
novel form of electioneering or not, I cannot say, but Maginess won
the seat by two thousand votes. I still have a copy of that poster.

Neither Londonderry nor Capetown are in Jamaica, but oddly enough,
Middlesex is, for the island is divided into three counties, Cornwall,
Middlesex, and Surrey. The local geography is a little confusing, for
it is a surprise to find (in Jamaica at all events) that Westmoreland
is in Cornwall, and Manchester in Middlesex.

Kingston owes its position as capital to the misfortunes of its two
neighbours, Port Royal and Spanish Town. When Port Royal was totally
destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, the few survivors crossed the bay
and founded a new town on the sandy Liguanea plain. Owing to its
splendid harbour, Kingston soon became a place of great importance,
though the seat of Government remained in sleepy Spanish Town, but the
latter lying inland, and close to the swamps of the Rio Cobre, was so
persistently unhealthy that in 1870 the Government was transferred to
Kingston. Though very prosperous, its most fervent admirer could not
call it beautiful, and, owing to its sandy soil, it is an intensely
hot place, but in compensation it receives the full sea breeze. Every
morning about nine, the sea breeze (locally known as "the Doctor")
sets in. Gentle at first, by noon it is rushing and roaring through
the town in a perfect gale, to drop and die away entirely by 4 p.m. By
a most convenient arrangement, the land breeze, disagreeably known as
"the Undertaker," drops down from the Liguanea Mountains on to the
sweltering town about 11 p.m., and continues all through the night. It
is this double breeze, from sea by day, from land by night, that
renders life in Kingston tolerable. Owing to the sea breeze invariably
blowing from the same direction, Jamaicans have the puzzling habit of
using "Windward" and "Leeward" as synonyms for East and West. To be
told that such-and-such a place is "two miles to Windward of you"
seems lacking in definiteness to a new arrival.

As we rolled slowly along in our buggy, the Guardsman was in a state
of perpetual bewilderment at having growing sugar, coffee, cocoa, and
rice pointed out to him by the driver. "I thought that it was an
island," he murmured; "it turns out to be nothing but a blessed
growing grocer's shop." Half-way between Kingston and Spanish Town is
the Old Ferry Inn, the oldest inn in the New World. It stands in a
mass of luxuriant greenery on the very edge of the Rio Cobre swamps,
and is a place to be avoided at nightfall on that account. This fever
trap of an inn, being just half-way between Kingston and Spanish Town,
was, of all places in the island to select, the chosen meeting-place
of the young bloods of both towns in the eighteenth century. Here they
drove out to dine and carouse, and as they probably all got drunk,
many of them must have slept here, on the very edge of the swamp, to
die of yellow fever shortly afterwards.

Sleepy Spanish Town, the old capital, has a decayed dignity of its
own. The public square, with its stately eighteenth-century buildings,
is the only architectural feature I ever saw in the British West
Indies. Our national lack of imagination is typically exemplified in
the King's House, now deserted, which occupies one side of the square.
When it was finished in 1760, it was considered a sumptuous building.
The architect, Craskell, in that scorching climate, designed exactly
the sort of red-brick and white stone Georgian house that he would
have erected at, say, Richmond. With limitless space at his disposal,
he surrounded his house with streets on all four sides of it, without
one yard of garden, or one scrap of shade. No wonder that poor little
Lady Nugent detested this oven of an official residence. The interior,
though, contains some spacious, stately Georgian rooms; the
temperature being that of a Turkish bath.

Rodney's monument is a graceful, admirably designed little temple, and
the cathedral of a vague Gothic, is spacious and dignified. Spanish
Town cathedral claims to have been built in 1541, in spite of an
inscription over the door recording that "this church was thrown downe
by ye dreadfull hurricane of August ye 28, 1712, and was rebuilt in
1714." It contains a great collection of elaborate and splendid
monuments, all sent out from England, and erected to various island
worthies. The amazing arrogance of an inscription on a tombstone of
1690, in the south transept, struck me as original. It commemorates
some Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica, and after the usual eulogistic
category of his unparalleled good qualities, ends "so in the
fifty-fifth year of his age he appeared with great applause before his
God."

There is a peculiarly beautiful tree, the _Petraea_, which seems
to flourish particularly well in Spanish Town. When in flower in
February, neither trunk, leaves, nor branches can be seen for its
dense clusters of bright blue blossoms, which are unfortunately very
short-lived.

Four miles above Spanish Town the hideously named Bog Walk, the famous
gorge of the Rio Cobre, commences. I do not believe that there is a
more exquisitely beautiful glen in the whole world. The clear stream
rushes down the centre, whilst the rocky walls tower up almost
perpendicularly for five or six hundred feet on either side, and these
rocks, precipitous as they are, are clothed with a dense growth of
tropical forest. The bread-fruit tree with its broad, scalloped
leaves, the showy star-apple, glossy green above deep gold below,
mahoganies, oranges, and bananas, all seem to grow wild. The
bread-fruit was introduced into Jamaica from the South Sea Islands,
and the first attempt to transplant it was made by the ill-fated
_Bounty_, and led to the historical mutiny on board, as a result
of which the mutineers established themselves on Pitcairn Island,
where their descendants remain to this day. Whatever adventures marked
its original advent, the bread-fruit has made itself thoroughly at
home in the West Indies, and forms the staple food of the negroes.
When carefully prepared it really might pass for under-done bread,
prepared from very indifferent flour by an inexperienced and unskilled
baker. It is the immense variety of the foliage and the constantly
changing panorama that gives Bog Walk its charm, together with the
red, pink, and fawn-coloured trumpets of the hibiscus, dotting the
precipitous ramparts of rock over the rushing blue river. Bog Walk is
distinctly one of those places which no one with opportunities for
seeing it should miss. It opens out into an equally beautiful basin,
St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, of which Michael Scott gives an admirable
description in _Tom Cringle_. I should hardly select that steamy
cup in the hills as a place of residence, but as a natural
forcing-house and a sample of riotous vegetation, it is worth seeing.

The native orchids of Jamaica are mostly oncidiums, with insignificant
little brown and yellow flowers, and have no commercial value
whatever. The Guardsman, however, was obsessed with the idea that he
would discover some peerless bloom for which he would be paid hundreds
of pounds by a London dealer. Every silk-cotton tree is covered with
what Jamaicans term "wild pines," air-plants, orchids, and other
epiphytes, and every silk-cotton was to him a potential Golconda, so
whenever we came across one he wanted the buggy stopped, and up the
tree he went like a lamp lighter. I am bound to admit that he was an
admirable tree climber, but I objected on the score of delicacy to the
large rents that these aerial rambles occasioned in his white ducks.
On regaining the ground he loaded the buggy with his spoils, despite
the driver's assertion that "dat all trash." Unfortunately with his
epiphytes he brought down whole colonies of ants, and the Jamaican ant
is a most pugnacious insect with abnormal biting powers. After I had
been forced to disrobe behind some convenient greenery in order to rid
myself of these aggressive little creatures, I was compelled to put a
stern veto on further tree exploration.

The ascent from Ewarton, over the Monte Diavolo, is so splendid that I
have made it five times for sheer delight in the view. Below lies
St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, a splendid riot of palms, orange, and forest
trees, and above it towers hill after hill, dominated by the lofty
peaks of the Blue Mountains. It is a gorgeously vivid panorama, all in
greens, gold, and vivid blues. Monte Diavolo is the only part of
Jamaica where there are wild parrots; it is also the home of the
allspice tree, or pimento, as it is called in the island. This curious
tree cannot be raised from seed or cutting, neither can it be layered;
it can only propagate itself in Nature's own fashion, and the seed
must pass through the body of a bird before it will germinate. So it
is fortunate, being the important article of commerce it is, that the
supply of trees is not failing. Bay rum is made from the leaves of the
allspice tree.

Once over the Monte Diavolo, quite a different Jamaica unrolls itself.
Broad pasture-lands replace the tropical house at Kew; rolling,
well-kept fields of guinea-grass, surrounded with neat, dry-stone
walls and with trim gates, give an impression of a long-settled land.
We were amongst the "pen-keepers," or stock-raisers here. This part of
the colony certainly has a home-like look; a little spoilt as regards
resemblance by the luxuriance with which creepers and plants, which at
home we cultivate with immense care in stove-houses, here riot wild in
lavish masses over the stone walls. If the cherished rarities of one
country are unnoticed weeds in another land, plenty of analogies in
other respects spring to the mind. I could wish though, for aesthetic
reasons, that our English lanes grew tropical Begonias, Coraline, and
a peculiarly attractive Polypody fern, similar to ours, except for the
young growths being rose-pink. Between Dry Harbour and Brown's Town
there is one succession of fine country-places, derelict for the most
part now, but remnants of the great days before King Sugar was
dethroned. Here the opulent sugar planters built themselves lordly
pleasure houses on the high limestone formation. Sugar grows best on
swampy ground, but swamps breed fever, so these magnates wisely made
their homes on the limestone, and so increased their days.

The high-road runs past one stately entrance-gate after another;
entrances with high Georgian, carved stone gateposts surmounted with
vases, probably sent out ready-made from England; Adam entrances, with
sphinxes and the stereotyped Adam semi-circular railings, all very
imposing, and all alike derelict. Beyond the florid wrought-iron gates
the gravel drives disappear under a uniform sea of grass; the once
neatly shaved lawns are covered with dense "bush." All gone! Planters
and their fine houses alike! King Sugar has been for long dethroned.
The names of these places, "Amity," "Concord," "Orange Grove,"
"Harmony Hall," "Friendship," and "Fellowship Hall," all rather
suggest the names of Masonic Lodges, and seem to point to a certain
amount of conviviality. The houses themselves are hardly up to the
standard of their ambitious entrance-gates, for they are mostly of the
stereotyped Jamaican "Great House" type; plain, gabled buildings
surrounded by verandahs, looking rather like gigantic meat safes; but,
as they say in Ireland, any beggar can see the gatehouse, but few
people see the house itself, and I imagine that skilled craftsmen were
rare in Jamaica in the eighteenth century.

The attempt to reconstruct the life of one, two, or three hundred
years ago has always appealed to me, especially amidst very familiar
scenes. The stage-setting, so to speak, is much as it must have
appeared to our predecessors, but the actual drama played on the stage
must have been so very different. I should have liked to have seen
these planters' houses a hundred years ago, swarming with guests,
whilst the cookhouses smoked bravely as armies of black slaves busied
themselves in preparing one of the gigantic repasts described by Lady
Nugent. Unfortunately to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the
thing, one would have been forced, in her words, "to eat like a
cormorant, and to drink like a porpoise," with the certainty of a
liver attack to follow.

Talking of bygone days, the Fourth-Form Room at Harrow has been
unchanged since Queen Elizabeth's time, and still retains all its
Elizabethan fittings: heavy, clumsy, solid oak armchairs for the
masters, each one equipped with a stout, iron-bound, oak table, and
strong oak benches for the boys. As a youngster, I liked to think that
I was sitting on the identical benches occupied, more than three
hundred years earlier, by Elizabethan youths in trunk hose and
doublets. In my youth I was much impressed in Canterbury Cathedral by
the sight of the deep grooves worn by the knees of countless thousands
of pilgrims to Thomas a Beckett's shrine in the solid stone of the
steps leading from the Choir to the retro-Choir, steps only to be
ascended by pilgrims on their knees. At Harrow the inch-thick oak
planks of the Elizabethan benches have been completely worn through in
places by the perpetual fidgeting of hundreds of generations of
schoolboys, which is as remarkable in its way as the knee grooves at
Canterbury, though the attrition is due to a different portion of the
human anatomy. As a boy I used to wonder how the trunk-hosed
Elizabethan Harrovians addressed each other, and whether they found it
very difficult to avoid palpable anachronisms in every sentence.
Their conversations would probably have been something like this:
"Come hither, young Smith; I would fain speak with thee. Only one
semester hast thou been here, and thy place in the school is but
lowly, yet are thy hose cross-gartered, and thy doublet is of silk.
Thou swankest, and that is not seemly, therefore shall I trounce thee
right lustily to teach thee what a sorry young knave thou art." "Nay,
good Master Brown, hearken to me. This morn too late I kept my bed,
and finding not my buff jerkin, did don in haste my Sunday doublet of
changeable taffeta, for thou wottest the ills that do befall those
late for school. Neither by my halidom knew I, that being yet of
tender years, it was not meet for me to go cross-gartered, so prithee,
gentle youth, cease belabouring me with thy feet."

Incidentally, I suppose that Christopher Columbus and his adventurers
all landed in the West Indies in 1492, clad in full armour, after the
fashion of the age, and I cannot imagine how they escaped being baked
alive in the scorching heat. Every suit of armour must have been a
portable Dutch-oven, inflicting tortures on its unfortunate wearer.
The little bay near Brown's Town where Columbus landed in Jamaica, on
his third voyage, is still called "Don Christopher's Cove," though the
Spanish form of his name is, of course, Cristobal Colon.

Brown's Town is the most beautiful little spot imaginable, glowing
with colour from its wealth of flowers. It had, though, another
attraction for me. The hotel was kept by a white lady of most
"serious" views, and in the hotel dining-room I found a bookshelf
containing all the books given me as a child for Sunday reading. There
they all were! _Little Henry and his Bearer_, _Anna Ross the Orphan of
Waterloo_, _Agathos_, and many, many more, including a well-remembered
American book, _Melbourne House_. The heroine of the last-named work,
an odiously priggish child called Daisy Randolph, refused to sing on a
Sunday when desired to do so by her mother. For this, most properly,
she was whipped. A devoted black maid who shared Daisy's religious
views, comforted her little mistress by bringing her a supper of fried
oysters, ice-cream and waffles. As a child I used to think how gladly I
would undergo a whipping every Sunday were it only to be followed by a
supper of fried oysters, ice-cream and waffles, the latter a comestible
unknown to me, but suggesting infinitely delicious possibilities.
Unfortunately I can never remember having been asked to sing on Sunday,
or indeed on any other day.

Speaking seriously, I do not believe that these emotionally pietistic
little books produced any good effect on the children into whose hands
they were put. I remember as a child feeling exasperated against the
ultra-righteous little heroines of all these works. I say heroine,
because no boy was ever given a chance as a household-reformer, unless
he had happened to have been born a hopeless cripple, or were
suffering from an incurable spinal complaint. In the latter case,
experience induced the certainty that the author would be unable to
resist the temptation of introducing a pathetic death-bed scene.
Accordingly, when the little hero's spine grew increasingly painful
and he began to waste away, the two next chapters were carefully
skipped in order to be spared the harrowing details of the young
martyr's demise. Girls, not being so invariably doomed to an early
death, were alone qualified to act as family evangelists, and one knew
that the sweet child's influence was bound, slowly but surely, to
permeate the entire household. Her mother would cease to care only for
"the world and its fine things," and would even endeavour to curb her
inordinate love of dress. Her father would practically abandon
betting, and, should he have been fortunate enough to have backed a
winner, would at once rush on conscience-stricken feet to pour the
whole of his gains into the nearest missionary collecting-box. Even
the cynical old bachelor uncle, who habitually scoffed at his niece's
precocious piety, became gradually influenced by her shining example,
and would awake one morning to find himself the amazed, yet gratified,
possessor of "a new heart."

In order to renew my acquaintance with the whole of these friends of
my youth, I remained two days longer in Brown's Town, with the assent
of the good-natured Guardsman.

Joss, the Guardsman, had a fine baritone voice, and the English rector
of Brown's Town, after hearing him sing in the hotel, at once
commandeered him for his church on Sunday, though warning him that he
would be the only white member of the choir. My services were also
requisitioned for the organ. That church at Brown's Town is, by the
way, the most astonishingly spacious and handsome building to find in
an inland country parish in Jamaica. On the Sunday, seeing the
Guardsman in conversation with the local tenor, a gentleman of
absolutely ebony-black complexion, at the vestry door, both of them in
their cassocks and surplices, I went to fetch my camera, for here at
last was a chance of satisfying the Guardsman's mania for turning his
trip to the West Indies to profitable account. Every one is familiar
with the ingenious advertisements of the proprietors of a certain
well-known brand of whisky. My photograph would, unquestionably, be a
picture in "Black and White," both as regards complexion and costume,
but on second thoughts, the likenesses of two choir-men in cassocks
and surplices seemed to me inappropriate as an advertisement for a
whisky, however excellent it might be, though they had both
unquestionably been engaged in singing spiritual songs.

It was Archbishop Magee who, when Bishop of Peterborough, encountered
a drunken navvy one day as he was walking through the poorer quarters
of that town. The navvy staggered out of a public-house, diffusing a
powerful aroma of gin all round him; when he saw his Chief Pastor he
raised his hand in a gesture of mock benediction and called jeeringly
to the Bishop, "The Lord be with you!" "And with thy _spirits_,"
answered Magee like a flash.

The drive from Brown's Town across the centre of the island to
Mandeville is one of the most beautiful things that can be imagined.
It can only be undertaken with mules, and then requires twelve hours,
the road running through the heart of the ginger-growing district, of
which Boroughbridge is the headquarters. The Guardsman was more than
ever confirmed in his opinion that Jamaica was only a growing grocer's
shop, especially as we had passed through dense groves of nutmeg-trees
in the morning. I have a confused recollection of deep valleys
traversed by rushing, clear streams, of towering pinnacles of rock,
and of lovely forest glades, the whole of them clothed with the most
gorgeous vegetation that can be conceived, of strange and unfamiliar
shapes glowing with unknown blossoms, with blue mountains in the
distance. It was one ever-changing panorama of loveliness, with
beauty of outline, beauty of detail, and unimaginable beauty of
colour.

We were forced to return to Kingston, for a French Cruiser Squadron
was paying a prolonged visit to Jamaica, and the Governor required my
services as interpreter.

That visit of the French Fleet was quite an historical event, for it
was the first outward manifestation of the Anglo-French Entente. The
Anglo-French Convention had been signed two years previously, on April
8, 1904. I cannot say with whom the idea of terminating the
five-hundred-year-old feud between Britain and France originated, but
I know who were the instruments who translated the idea into practical
effect: they were M. Paul Cambon, French Ambassador in London, and my
brother-in-law, Lord Lansdowne, then Foreign Secretary; between them
they smoothed down asperities, removed ancient grievances, and
lubricated points of contact where friction might arise. No one,
probably, anticipated at the time the tremendous consequences of the
Anglo-French Convention, nor dreamed that it was destined, after the
most terrible conflict of all time, to change the entire history of
the world.

In the early part of 1905 the Emperor William had made his theatrical
triumphal progress through the Turkish dominions, and on March 31 of
the same year he landed at Tangier in great state. What exact
agreement the Emperor concluded with the Sultan of Morocco we do not
know, but from that moment the French met with nothing but
difficulties in Morocco, their own particular "sphere of influence"
under the Anglo-French Convention. All the reforms proposed by France
were flouted by the Sultan, and Germans claimed equal commercial and
economic rights with the French. A conference met at Algeciras on
January 10, 1906, to settle these and other disputed questions, but
the French authorities viewed the situation with the utmost anxiety.
They were convinced that the "mailed fist" would be brandished in
their faces on the smallest provocation, and that the French Navy
might have to intervene.

Now came the first visible result of the _entente_. The British
Government offered the hospitality of Kingston Harbour, with coaling
facilities, for an unlimited period to the French Cruiser Squadron,
then in the West Indies. Kingston is not only the finest harbour in
the Antilles, but the coaling arrangements are far superior to any in
the French ports, and, most important point of all, Kingston would be
some twenty-four hours steaming nearer to Gibraltar and the
Mediterranean, in case of emergency, than the French islands of
Guadeloupe or Martinique.

The arrival, then, of the French Fleet was a great event, and, acting
possibly on a hint from home, every attention was shown to the French
officers by the Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham. He entertained
forty French officers to luncheon at King's House, and his French
having grown rather rusty, asked me to welcome them in his name. I
took great care in preparing my speech, and began by ascertaining
whether any of the reporters who would be present understood French. I
was much relieved to find that not one of them knew a single word of
the language, for that gave me a free hand. The table, on the occasion
of the luncheon, was decorated in a fashion only possible in the West
Indies. One end of the table glowed, a scarlet carpet of the splendid
flowers of the _Amherstia nobilis_, looking like red satin tassels,
then came a carpet of the great white trumpets of the _Beaumontia_, on
a ground of white stephanotis. Lastly a blue carpet of giant solanums,
interspersed with the dainty blue blossoms of the _Petraea_, the whole
forming the most magnificent tricolour flag imaginable. The French
officers much appreciated this attention.

I spoke for twenty minutes, and fairly let myself go. With a feeling
of security due to the inability of the reporters to follow French, I
said the most abominably indiscreet things, considering that it was an
official entertainment in an official residence, but I think that I
must have been quite eloquent, for, when I sat down, the French
Admiral crossed the room and shook hands warmly with me, saying,
"Monsieur, au nom de la France je vous remercie."

Joss, the Guardsman, struck up an intimate alliance with a young
French naval lieutenant of his own age. As the Guardsman knew just two
words of French, and the Frenchman was totally ignorant of English, I
cannot conceive how they understood one another, but they seemed to
take great delight in each other's society, exploring together every
corner of Kingston, both by day and by night, addressing each other as
"Henri, old man," or "Joss vieux copain," and jabbering away
incessantly, each in his own tongue.

Lady Swettenham, the Governor's wife, paid a formal visit to the
Admiral on board his flag-ship, the _Desaix_, and I accompanied
her. The Admiral told Lady Swettenham that she and Lady Lathom, who
was with her, must consent to be tied up with ribbons bearing the
ship's name, the French naval fashion of doing honour to ladies of
distinction. The Flag-Lieutenant came in and took a good look at the
ladies' dresses; Lady Swettenham being in white, Lady Lathom in pale
mauve. Presently "Flags" reappeared bearing white and mauve ribbons
(of the exact shade of her dress) for Lady Lathom, and pale pink and
blue ones for Lady Swettenham, each about four yards long.
Proverbially gallant as are British naval officers, the idea of first
studying the ladies' dresses would not have occurred to them; that
little touch requires a Frenchman. We wished to take our leave, but
the Admiral begged us to remain; there was evidently something coming.
It was an intensely hot afternoon, and the heavy, red-plush furniture
and curtains of the Admiral's cabin seemed to add to the heat. His
face wore the expression some people assume when they are preparing a
treat for a child. "Flags" looked in and nodded. "Faites entrer
alors," ordered the Admiral, still smiling, and a steward came in
bearing six bottles of Guinness' stout. "You see that I know what you
like," added the Admiral, beaming. On a broiling hot afternoon in
Jamaica, tepid stout is the very last thing in the world that one
would choose to drink, but the Admiral was convinced that it was the
habitual beverage of all English people, and had actually sent his
steward ashore to procure the precious liquid. It was a delicate
attention, but it so happened that both ladies had a positive aversion
to stout; they drank it bravely notwithstanding, and we all assumed
expressions of intense delight, to the Admiral's immense
gratification.

It was the Admiral's first visit to the West Indies, and he did not
like them. "Non, madame. Des nuits sans fraicheur, des fleurs sans
odeur, des fruits sans saveur, des femmes sans pudeur; voila les
Antilles!"

The Guardsman and I, anxious to see more of this lovely island, went
off by train to the western extremity of Jamaica. The engineer who
surveyed the Jamaican Government Railway must have been an extremely
eccentric individual. There is a comparatively level and very fertile
belt near the sea-coast, extending right round the island. Here nearly
all the produce is grown. Instead of building his railway through this
flat, thickly populated zone, the engineer chose to construct his line
across the mountain range of the interior, a district very sparsely
inhabited, and hardly cultivated at all. The Jamaica Government
Railway is admirably designed if regarded as a scenic railway, but is
hardly successful if considered as a commercial undertaking. The train
winds slowly through the "Cockpit" country; now panting laboriously up
steep inclines, now sliding down a long gradient, with a prodigious
grinding of brakes and squeaking of wheels. The scenery is gorgeous,
but there is no produce to handle at the various stations, and but few
passengers to pick up. As we found every hotel full at our
destination, we had to take refuge in a boarding-house, though warned
that it was only for coloured people. We found four subfuse young men,
with complexions shaded from pale coffee-colour to deep sepia, at
supper in the dining-room.

"May I inquire, sir," said the Guardsman, with ready tact, to the
lightest-complexioned of the young men, "how long you have been out
from England?"

"I was born in Jamaica, sir," answered the immensely gratified youth,
"and have never left it."

"And do you, sir," continued the Guardsman to the swarthiest of them
all, "feel the heat of the climate much? It is rather a change from
England, isn't it?"

"I, too, sir, have never left Jamaica," replied the delighted young
man.

So enchanted were these dusky youths at having been mistaken for white
men, that they simply overwhelmed us with attentions during the rest
of our stay there.

The Guardsman was bent on shooting an alligator, and having heard that
these pleasant saurians swarmed in a swamp beyond the town, went there
at dusk with his rifle, and I, very foolishly, was induced to
accompany him. There is something most uncanny in these tracts of
swamp at nightfall. The twisted, distorted trees, the gleaming,
evil-smelling pools of water, and the immense, snake-like lianes
hanging from the branches all give one a curious sense of unreality,
especially on a moonlight night. It is like a Gustave Dore drawing of a
bewitched forest. The Guardsman splashed about in the shallow water,
but never a sign of an alligator did we see. Giant tortoises crawled
lazily about, just visible in the half-light under the trees;
innumerable land-crabs scurried to and fro, and unclean reptiles
pattered over the fetid ooze, but we saw no more alligators than we
should have seen in St. James's Park.

There was a little group of coral islands, decked with plumes of
cocoa-nut palms, on the other side of the bay, close to a great
mangrove swamp, and the Guardsman insisted on our hiring a boat and
rowing out there, blazing though the sun was. These mangrove swamps
are evil-looking places. The mangrove, the only tree, I believe, that
actually grows in salt water, has unnaturally green leaves. The trees
grow on things like stilts, digging their roots deep into the foul
slime. When the tide is out, these stilts stand grey and naked below
the canopy of vivid greenery, and amongst them obscene, crab-like
things crawl over the festering black ooze. The water in the labyrinth
of channels between the mangroves was thick and discoloured; there was
not a breath of air, the heat was unbearable, and the whole place
steamed with decay and disease.

Yet somehow the scene seemed very familiar, for one had read of it,
again and again, in a hundred boys' books. The same mental process was
at work both in myself and in Joss, but it took different forms. I
composed in my mind a chapter of a thrilling romance. "Suddenly down
one of the glassy channels between the mangroves we saw the pirate
felucca approaching us rapidly. She had got out her sweeps and looked
like some gigantic water-insect as she made her way towards us,
churning the sleeping waters into foam. At her tiller stood a tall
form, which I recognised with a shudder as that of the villainous
mulatto Pedro, and her black flag drooped limply in the stagnant air.
Our gallant captain at once ordered our carronades to be loaded with
canister, and then addressed the crew. 'Yonder gang of dastardly
miscreants think to capture us, my lads,' cried Captain Trueman, 'but
little they know the material they have to deal with. Even the boys,
Bob and Jim, young as they are, will show them the sort of stuff a
British tar is made of, if I am not mistaken.' On hearing our gallant
captain's noble words, Jim and I exchanged a silent hand-grip, and
Jim, snatching up a matchlock, levelled it at the head of the mulatto
Pedro, but at that very moment," etc., etc., etc., though I much fear
that the remainder of _Bob, the Boy Buccaneer of the Bahamas_ will
remain unwritten.

Our surroundings suggested the same idea to Joss, but were prompting
the Guardsman to more direct action. From one or two of his remarks I
had foreseen the possibility of his making an incredible suggestion to
me, and gradually suspicion ripened into horrified certainty.

"Would you very much mind--" he began, "at least if you are not too
old--I should so like--we shall never get another opportunity like
this--would you very much mind--" and out it came, "playing at pirates
for a little while?"

It was unthinkable! The Guardsman was actually proposing to a staid,
middle-aged gentleman of forty-eight, an ex-Member of Parliament, a
church-warden, and an ex-editor, to play at pirates with him, as
though he were ten years old. I pointed out how unusual it was for an
officer in the Coldstream, aged twenty-six, to think even of so
puerile an amusement, but to include a dignified, earnest-minded,
elderly man in the invitation was really an unprecedented outrage. My
justifiable indignation increased when I found that the Guardsman
actually expected me at my age to enact the role of "Carlos, the
Cut-throat of the Caribbean."

Our discussion was interrupted by a violent shivering fit which seized
me, accompanied by a sudden, racking headache. The swamps had done
their work on the previous evening. By night-time I was in a high
fever, and when we returned to Kingston next day by train, I, with a
temperature up to anywhere, was hardly conscious of where I was or
what I was doing.

I was put to bed at King's House, and the fever rapidly turned to
malarial gastritis. The distressing feature connected with this
complaint is that it is impossible to retain any nourishment whatever.
An attack of fever is so common in hot countries that this would not
be worth mentioning, except as an example of the curious way in which
Nature sometimes prompts her own remedy. The doctor tried half the
drugs in the pharmacopoeia on me, the fever simply laughed at them
all. Nothing could have exceeded the kindness of Sir Alexander and
Lady Swettenham during my illness, but as I could take no nourishment
of any kind, I naturally grew very weak. The doctor urged me to cancel
my passage and await the next steamer to England, but something told
me that as soon as I felt the motion of a ship under me, the
persistent sickness would stop. I also felt sure that were I to remain
in Jamaica another fortnight, I should remain there permanently, and
gruesome memories haunted me of an undertaker's shop in Kingston,
which displayed a prominent sign, "Handsome black and gold funeral
goods" (note the euphemism!) "delivered in any part of the city within
two hours of telephone call." As I had no desire to make a more
intimate acquaintance with the "funeral goods," however handsome, I
insisted on being carried down to the mail-steamer, and was put to bed
in the liner. It was blowing very fresh, and we heard that there was a
heavy sea outside. As long as we lay alongside the jetty in the smooth
waters of the harbour, the distressing symptoms persisted at their
regular intervals, but no sooner had the ship cleared Port Royal and
begun to lift to the very heavy sea outside, than the sickness stopped
as though by magic. The _Port Kingston_, of the now defunct Imperial
Direct West India Mail Line, was really a champion pitcher, for she had
an immense beam for her length, and a great amount of top-hamper in the
way of deck-houses. As the violent motion continued, I was able to take
as much food as I wanted with impunity, and next day, the heavy seas
still tossing the _Port Kingston_ about like a cork, I was up and
about, perfectly well, free from fever and able, as Lady Nugent would
have said, "to eat like a cormorant." I noted, however, that the motion
of the ship seemed to produce on most of the passengers an exactly
opposite effect to what it did on myself.

The voyage from Jamaica, by that line, was rather a trying one, for in
the interest of the cargo of bananas, the Captain steered straight for
the Newfoundland Banks, so in five days the temperature dropped from
90 degrees to 40 degrees, and the unfortunate West Indian passengers
would cower and shiver in their thickest clothes over the radiators,
where the steam hissed and sizzled.

Before we had been at sea two days, we heard of a most gallant act
that had been done by one in our midst. The mail-boats of the Imperial
Direct Line each carried from six to eight apprentices, young lads in
process of training as officers in the Merchant Service. The
apprentices on board the _Port Kingston_ had had a great deal of
hard work whilst the ship was loading her cargo of fruit at Port
Henderson previous to our voyage home, so the Captain granted them all
a holiday, lent them one of the ship's boats, provided them with
luncheon and fishing lines, and sent them out for a day's sailing and
fishing in Kingston Harbour.

They sailed and caught fish, and, as the afternoon wore on, began to
"rag," as boys will do. They ragged so effectually that they managed
to capsize the boat, and were, all of them, thrown into the water.

Curiously enough, three of the eight apprentices were unable to swim.
The senior apprentice, a boy named Robert Clinch, seventeen years old,
swam out, and brought back two of his young companions in safety to
the keel of the upturned boat. Clinch was just starting to bring in
the third lad, the youngest of them all, when there was a great swirl
in the water, the grey outline of a shark rose to the surface, turned
on his back, and dragged the little fellow down. Clinch, without one
instant's hesitation, dived under the shark and attacked him with his
bare fists. It was an immensely courageous thing to do, for where
there is one shark there will probably be many, and the boy knew that
he ran the risk of being torn to pieces at any minute. So rigorous was
his onslaught on the shark that the fish released his victim, though
not before he had bitten off both the little fellow's legs at the
thigh. Clinch swam back with the mangled body of his young friend to
the upturned boat, and managed to get him on to the keel, but the poor
lad bled to death in a few minutes.

Young Clinch was a most modest boy. Nothing could get him to talk of
his exploit, and should the subject be mentioned, he would grow very
red, shuffle his feet, and turn the conversation into some other
channel. The passengers drew up an address, with which they presented
him, as a mark of their appreciation of his act of heroism, but it was
with great difficulty that Clinch could be induced to accept it.

The episode made such an impression on me that I wrote out an account
of it, got it attested and signed by the Captain, and forwarded it to
Lord Knollys, an old friend of mine, who was then Private Secretary to
King Edward, asking him to bring the matter to his Majesty's notice.

I am pleased to add that, in due course, Midshipman Robert Clinch was
duly summoned to Buckingham Palace, where he received the well-earned
Albert Medal for saving life, and also the Medal of the Royal Humane
Society.

I should very much like to know what Robert Clinch's subsequent career
has been.




CHAPTER VI

The Spanish Main--Its real meaning--A detestable region--Tarpon and
sharks--The isthmus--The story of the great pearl "La Pelegrina"--The
Irishman and the Peruvian--The vagaries of the Southern Cross--The
great Kingston earthquake--Point of view of small boys--Some
earthquake incidents--"Flesh-coloured" stockings--Negro hysteria--A
family incident, and the unfortunate Archbishop--Port Royal--A sugar
estate--A scene from a boy's book in real life--Cocoa-nuts--
Reef-fishing--Two young men of great promise.


With so firm a hold had Jamaica captured me that January 3, 1907,
found me again starting for that delightful island, this time
accompanied by a very favourite nephew, who, poor lad, was destined to
fall in Belgium in the very early days of the war.

We purposely chose the longer route by Barbados, Trinidad, and the
Spanish Main, in order to be able to visit the Panama Canal Works,
then only in their semi-final stage.

A curious misapprehension seems to exist about that term "Spanish
Main," which somehow suggests to me infinite romance; conquistadores,
treasure-ships, gentlemen-adventurers, and bold buccaneers. It is
merely a shortened way of writing Spanish Main_land_, and refers
not to the sea, but to the land; the _terra firma_, as opposed to
the Antilles; the continent, in distinction to the islands. By a
natural process the term came to be applied to the sea washing the
Spanish Mainland, but "main" does _not_ mean sea, and never did.
It is only in the last hundred years that poets have begun to use
"main" as synonymous with sea, probably because there are so many more
rhymes to the former than to the latter, and it sounds a fine dashing
sort of term, but I can find no trace of a warrant for the use of the
word in this sense before 1810. "Main" refers to the land, not to the
water.

I can imagine no more detestable spot anywhere than this Spanish Main,
in spite of the distant view of the mighty Cordilleras, around whose
summits perpetual thunderstorms seem to play, and from which fierce
gales swoop down on the sea. Clammy, suffocating heat, fever-dealing
swamps, decaying towns, with an effete population and a huge rainfall,
do not constitute an attractive whole. Owing to the intense humidity,
even the gales bring no refreshing coolness in their train.

It is easy to understand the importance the old Spanish conquistadores
attached to the Isthmus of Panama, for all the gold brought from Peru
had to be carried across it on mule-back to the Atlantic coast, before
it could be shipped to Spain. Even Columbus, who did not know of the
existence of the Pacific, founded a short-lived settlement at Porto
Bello, or Nombre de Dios, in 1502, and Martin de Enciso established
another at Darien in 1502, but the combined effects of the deadly
climate and of hostile Indians exterminated the settlers. After Vasco
Nunez de Balboa had discovered the Pacific on September 26, 1513, the
strategic importance of the Isthmus became obvious, so Cartagena on
the Caribbean, and Panama on the Pacific were founded. The ill-advised
and ill-fated enterprise of the Scotsman William Patterson came much
later, in 1698. The Scottish settlement of Darien, from which such
marvellous results were expected, lasted barely two years. In 1700 the
few survivors of the adventurers from Scotland were expelled by the
Spaniards, ruined alike in health and pocket. The fever-stricken
coasts of the Spanish Main needed but little defence of forts and
guns, to protect them against the aggressive efforts of other European
nations.

At our first calling-place after leaving England, we heard of the
total destruction of Kingston, our destination, by the great
earthquake of January 14, but it was too late to turn back, so on we
went, past breezy Barbados, and sweltering Trinidad, to the Spanish
Main. The curious little nautilus, or Portuguese man-of-war, is very
common in these waters, and can be seen in quantities sailing along
the surface with their crude-magenta membranes extended to the breeze.
Cartagena de Indias, a city of narrow streets, high houses and massive
ramparts, is a curious piece of seventeenth-century Spain to find
transplanted to the Tropics. I imagine that all its inhabitants, by
the law of the survival of the fittest, must be immune from fever,
which is certainly not the case in that most unattractive spot Colon.

It may interest any prospective visitors to Colon to learn that there
is excellent tarpon fishing in Colon Harbour itself. My nephew, having
provided himself with a tarpon rod, hooked a splendid fish from the
deck of the mail-steamer, the bait being a "cavalle," a local white
fish of some 3 lbs. My nephew played the tarpon for nearly two hours;
the fish fought splendidly, shooting continuously into the air, a
curved glittering bar of silver, 180 lbs. of giant gleaming herring,
when the line (a stout piano wire) suddenly snapped as he was being
reeled in. A tarpon fisherman has a leathern "bucket" strapped in
front of him, in which to rest the butt of his rod, otherwise the
strain would be too great. Whilst my nephew was playing his tarpon, I
was fortunate enough to hook a large shark, and there was little fear
of my line parting, for it was a light chain of solid steel. I was
surprised that the brute showed so little fight, he let me tow him
about where I liked. We fixed a running noose to the wire rope of a
derrick, and after a few attempts succeeded in dropping it over the
shark's head, and in tautening it behind his fins; the steam-derrick
did the rest. I could see distinctly six or seven pilot-fish playing
round the shark. They were of about a pound weight, and were marked
exactly like our fresh-water perch, except that their stripes were
bright blue on a golden ground. As the shark is rather stupid, and has
but poor eyesight, the function of the pilot-fish is to ascertain
where food is to be found, and then to show their master the way to
it, after which, like the sycophants they are, they live on the crumbs
that fall from his mouth. The pilot-fish only deserted their master
when the derrick hauled him out of the water, and at the same time
some dozen remoras, or sucking-fish, looking like disgusted bloated
leeches, let go their hold on the shark and dropped back into the sea.

No human being would voluntarily pay a second visit to Colon, a dirty,
mean collection of shanties, with inhabitants worthy of it. The
principal article of commerce seemed to be black-calico "funeral
suits," a sartorial novelty to me.

Since the Americans took command of the Canal Zone they have achieved
wonders in the way of sanitation, and have practically extirpated
yellow fever. The credit for this is principally due to Colonel
Goethals, but no amount of sanitation can transform a belt of swamps
with an annual rainfall of 150 inches into a health-resort. The
yellow-lined faces of the American engineers told their own tale,
although they had no longer to contend with the fearful mortality from
yellow fever which, together with venality and corruption, effectually
wrecked Ferdinand de Lesseps' attempt to pierce the Isthmus in 1889.

The railway between Colon and Panama was opened as far back as 1855,
and is supposed to have cost a life for every sleeper laid. Neglected
little cemeteries stretch beside the track almost from ocean to ocean.
Before the American Government took over the railway there was one
class and one fare between Colon and Panama, for which the modest sum
of $25 gold was demanded, or 5 pounds for forty-seven miles, which
makes even our existing railway fares seem moderate. People had perforce
to use the railway, for there were no other means of communication.

For forty-seven miles the track runs through rank, steamy swamps,
devoid of beauty, the monotony only broken by the endless cemeteries
and an occasional alligator dozing on a bank of black slime.

Panama is the oldest city on the American Continent, and has just four
hundred and one years of history behind it. It has unquestionably a
strong element of the picturesque about it. It is curious to see in
America so venerable a church as that of Santa Ana, built in 1560.

From the immensely solid ramparts, built in the actual Pacific, the
Pearl Islands are dimly visible. These islands had a personal interest
for me. Balboa was the first European to set eyes on the Pacific on
September 29, 1513. He had with him one hundred and ninety Spaniards,
amongst whom was the famous Pizarro. A few days after, he crossed over
to the Pearl Islands, which he found in a state of great commotion,
for a slave had just found the largest pear-shaped pearl ever seen.
Balboa, with great presence of mind, at once annexed the great pearl,
and gave the slave his freedom.

Having fallen out of favour with Ferdinand V. of Spain (Isabella had
died in 1504), Balboa endeavoured to propitiate the king by sending
home an envoy with gifts for him, and amongst these presents was the
great pearl. The beauty of the jewel was at once recognised; it was
named "La Pelegrina," and took its place amongst the treasures of the
Spanish Crown. After Ferdinand V.'s death, the great pearl with the
other Crown jewels came into the possession of his grandson, the
Hapsburg Emperor Charles V., and from Charles "La Pelegrina" descended
to his son, Philip II. of Spain. When Philip married Queen Mary Tudor
of England, he gave her "La Pelegrina" as a wedding present. The
portrait of Queen Mary in the Prado at Madrid, shows her wearing this
pearl, so does another one at Hampton Court, and a small portrait in
Winchester Cathedral, where her marriage with Philip took place. After
Mary's death "La Pelegrina" returned to Spain, and was handed down
from sovereign to sovereign until Napoleon in 1808 placed his brother
Joseph on the throne of Spain. It was a somewhat unsteady throne, and
after many vicissitudes, Joseph fled from Spain in the Spring of 1813.
Anticipating some such enforced retirement, Joseph, like a prudent
man, had had some of the smaller and more valuable pictures from the
Spanish palaces packed in wagons and despatched towards the frontier.
These pictures fell into the hands of Wellington's troops at the
Battle of Vittoria, and are hanging at this moment in Apsley House,
Piccadilly, for Ferdinand VII., on his restoration to the throne,
presented them to the Duke of Wellington; or rather, to be quite
accurate, "lent" them to the Duke of Wellington and to his successors.
Joseph Bonaparte also thoughtfully placed some of the Spanish Crown
jewels, including "La Pelegrina," in his pockets, and got away safely
with them. Joseph died, and left the great pearl to his nephew, Prince
Louis Napoleon, afterwards Napoleon III. When Prince Louis came to
London in exile, he brought "La Pelegrina" with him. Prince Louis
Napoleon was a close friend of my father's and had been his "Esquire"
at the famous Eglinton tournament. The Prince came to see my father
one day and confided to him that he was in great pecuniary
difficulties. He asked my father to recommend him an honest jeweller
who would pay him the price he wanted for "La Pelegrina." He named the
price, and drew the great pearl out of his pocket. My father, after
examining the jewel and noticing its flawless shape and lustre,
silently opened a drawer, drew a cheque, and handed it to Prince Louis
without a word. That afternoon my father presented my mother with "La
Pelegrina." To my mother it was an unceasing source of anxiety. The
pearl had never been bored, and was so heavy that it was constantly
falling from its setting. Three times she lost it; three times she
found it again. Once at a ball at Buckingham Palace, on putting her
hand to her neck, she found that the great pearl had gone. She was
much distressed, knowing how upset my father would be. On going into
supper, she saw "La Pelegrina" gleaming at her from the folds of the
velvet train of the lady immediately in front of her. Again she lost
it at Windsor Castle, and it was found in the upholstery of a sofa. As
a child, on the rare occasions when "La Pelegrina" came out of its
safe, I loved to stroke and smooth its sleek, satin-like sheen. The
great pearl somehow fascinated me. When it came into my brother's
possession after my father's death, he had "La Pelegrina" bored,
though it impaired its value, so my sister-in-law was able to wear the
great jewel as often as she wished without running the constant danger
of losing it. I liked that distant glimpse of the Pearl Islands, for
they were the birthplace of the jewel which had attracted me so
curiously as a child.

We returned from Panama by a train after dark. As the night-air from
the swamps has the reputation of being deadly, every window in the car
was shut. I noticed a dark-skinned citizen of either Peru or Ecuador
in some difficulties with the conductor, owing to his lack of
knowledge of English. The Peruvian pulled up a window (_up_ on
the American Continent, not _down_ as with us) and sat in the
full draught of the night-air. A pleasant young Irishman named Martin,
a near relative of the Miss Martin who collaborated with Miss
Somerville in the inimitable _Experiences of an Irish R.M._ noticed
this. "By Gad! that fellow will get fever if he sits in the draught
from the swamps. I'll go and warn him." I told Martin that the South
American spoke no English. "That's all right," cried Martin. "I speak a
little Spanish myself." Taking a seat by the Peruvian, Martin tapped
him on the shoulder to secure his attention, pointed a warning finger
at the open window, and said slowly but impressively, in a strong Co.
Galway accent, "Swamp--o, mustn't-sit-in-draught--o; sit-in-draught--o,
get-chill--o; get-chill--o, catch-fever--o; catch-fever--o, damned-ill
--o; damned-ill--o, die--o." He repeated this twice, and upon the
Peruvian turning a blank look of incomprehension at him, returned to
his place saying, "I don't believe that fellow understands one single
word of Spanish," so I went myself and warned the Peruvian in Spanish
of the risk he was running, and he closed the window. I do not know
whether he suffered for his imprudence, but Martin was down next day
with a sharp bout of fever.

Martin next announced that the Southern Cross had gone stark, staring
mad, and had moved round by mistake to the North. We were travelling
from the Pacific to the Atlantic, therefore presumably going from West
to East, and there, through the window, sure enough was that
much-overrated constellation, the Southern Cross, shining away gaily
in the North. Upon reflexion, it seemed unreasonable to suppose that
the Southern Cross could have so far forgotten its appointed place in
the heavens, the points of the compass, and the very obligations its
name imposed upon it, as to establish itself deliberately in the
North: there must be some mistake somewhere. So we got a map, and
discovered, to our amazement, that, though Colon is on the Atlantic
and Panama on the Pacific, yet Colon is _West_ of Panama, owing
to the kink in the Isthmus at this point. The railway from the Pacific
runs _North-west_ to the Atlantic, though at this particular part
of the line we were travelling due West, so the Southern Cross was
right after all, and we were wrong.

The track from ocean to ocean seemed to be lined with one continuous
street of wooden stores, eating-houses, and dance-halls, all erected
for the benefit of the workers on the canal, and all alike blazing
with paraffin lamps. It was like one continuous fair, but the kindly
night masked the endless cemeteries.

We bought in Colon a little book of verse entitled _Panama Patchwork_.
It was the work of an American, James Stanley Gilbert, who had lived
for six years on the Isthmus, and had seen most of his friends die
there. Gilbert's lines have, therefore, a certain excusable tinge of
morbidity, as, for example:

  "Beyond the Chagres River
  Are paths that lead to death:
  To fever's deadly breezes,
  To malaria's poisonous breath."

I refrain from quoting others which are really too gruesome to
reproduce, but I like his welcome to the Trade wind, the boisterous
advent of which announces the end of the very unhealthy wet season,
and a brief spell of dry weather. It must be remembered that the
author was unused to the pen:

  "Blow thou brave old Trade wind, blow!
    Send the mighty billows flashing
    In the radiant sunlight, dashing
    O'er the reef, like thunder crashing,
  Blow thou brave old Trade wind, blow!"

One can almost hear the great seas thundering on the coral reefs in
reading these lines, and can see in imagination the nodding cocoanut
palms bending their pliant green heads to the life-giving Trades.

It is curious the different terms used for these continuous winds: we
call them "Trade winds"; the French, "Vents alizes"; the Germans,
"Passatwinde"; the Spanish "Vientos generates." All quite different.

As my nephew and I drove out of the dock enclosure at Kingston, we
were appalled at the scene of desolation that met our eyes. Kingston
was one heap of ruins; there was not a house intact. Neither of us had
imagined the possibility of a town being so completely destroyed, for
this was in 1907, not 1915, and twenty brief seconds had sufficed to
wreck a prosperous city of 40,000 inhabitants. The streets had been
partially cleared, but the telephone and the electric-light wires were
all down, as were the overhead wires for the trolly-cars. We traversed
three miles of shapeless heaps of bricks and stones. Some trim
well-kept villas in the suburbs which I remembered well, were either
shaken down, or gaped on the road through broad fissures in their
frontages, great piles of debris announcing that the building was
only, so to speak, standing on sufferance, and would have to be
entirely reconstructed. On arriving at King's House, we found the main
building still standing, but so damaged that it might collapse at any
moment, and therefore uninhabitable. The handsome ballroom, which
formed a separate wing, was nothing but a pile of rubbish, a formless
mass of bricks and plaster. The dining-room, making the corresponding
wing, was built entirely of wood, and had consequently escaped injury.
This dining-room was a very lofty hall, paved with marble and entirely
surrounded by arches open to the air. It had previously reminded me of
the interiors seen in Italian pictures of sacred subjects, with its
bareness, spacious whiteness, its columns and arches. Here the
Governor, Lady Swettenham and her sister were living, in little
encampments formed by screens. Two splendid chandeliers of Spanish
bronze, originally looted from Havannah in the eighteenth century, had
been dismantled by the Governor's orders, in view of the possibility
of further shocks. The verandah outside formed the living-room for
every one. My nephew and I were very comfortably lodged in a little
wooden shed, formerly the laundry. I had noticed as we drove through
the town that the great Edinburgh reservoirs were apparently quite
uninjured, and here at King's House the fountain was splashing in its
basin as gaily as ever, the building containing the big swimming-bath
was undamaged, and the spring which fed the bath still gurgled
cheerfully into it. Wherever there was water, the shock seemed to have
been neutralised, for I imagine that the water acted as a cushion to
deaden the earth-wave. Neither the electric lighting nor the
telephones were working.

A tropical night is seldom quiet, what with the croaking of frogs, the
chirping of the cicadas, and some bird, insect, or reptile that
imitates the winding in of a fishing-reel for hours together, but
really the noise of the Jamaican nights after the earthquake was quite
unbearable. Negroes are very hysterical, and some black preachers had
utilised the earthquake to start a series of revival meetings, and
these were held just outside the grounds of King's House. Right
through the night they lasted, with continual hymn-singing, varied
with loud cries and groans. "Abide with me" is a beautiful hymn, but
really its beauties began to pall when it had been sung through from
beginning to end nine times running. Neither my nephew nor I could get
any sleep that first night owing to the blatant devotional exercises
of the overwrought negroes.

Both Sir Alexander and Lady Swettenham were really wonderful. He,
though an old man, only allowed himself five hours' sleep, and spent
his days at Headquarters House trying to bring the affairs of the
ruined city into some kind of order, and to start the every-day
machinery of ordinary civilised life again, for there were no shops,
no butchers or bakers, no clothing, no groceries--everything had been
destroyed, and had to be reconstructed. We had noticed the previous
afternoon a very rough newly erected shanty. It was barely finished,
but already jets of steam were puffing from its roof, and a large sign
proclaimed it a steam-bakery. That was the only source of bread-supply
in Kingston. Is it necessary to specify the nationality of a firm so
prompt to rise to an emergency, or to add that the names over the door
were two Scottish ones? Lady Swettenham was equally indefatigable, and
sat on endless committees: for sheltering the destitute, for helping
the homeless with food, money and clothing, for providing for the
widows and orphans.

It was estimated that twelve hundred people lost their lives on that
fatal afternoon of January 14, 1907, though even this pales before the
terrific catastrophe of St. Pierre in Martinique, on May 8, 1902, when
forty thousand people and one of the finest towns in the West Indies
were blotted out of existence in one minute by a fiery blast from the
volcano Mont Pele.

Lady Swettenham was driving into Kingston with Lady Dudley at 2.30
p.m. on the day of the earthquake. Some ten minutes later they felt
the carriage suddenly rise, and then fall again. The horses stopped,
and the coachman looked back in vain for the tree he thought he must
have run over, until, on turning the next corner, they came upon a
house in ruins. Then Lady Swettenham knew. Both ladies worked all
night in the hospital, attending to the hundreds of injured. The
hospital dispensary had been wrecked, and, sad to say, the supply of
chloroform became exhausted, so amputations had to be performed
without anaesthetics. Most fortunately there was to have been a great
ball at King's House that very evening, so Lady Swettenham was able to
provide the hospital with unlimited soup, jellies, and cold chickens;
otherwise it would have been impossible to provide the sufferers with
any food at all.

As we all know, points of view differ. After the trolley-car service
had been re-established, my nephew and I had occasion to go into
Kingston daily towards noon. On the front bench of the car there was
always seated a little white boy, about nine years old, with a pile of
school-books. He was a well-mannered, friendly little fellow and soon
entered into conversation. Waxing confidential, he observed to us,
"Isn't this earthquake awfully jolly? Our school is all 'mashed up' so
we get out at half-past eleven instead of at one."

"And how about your own house, Charlie? Is that all right?"

"Oh no, it's all 'mashed up' too, so is Daddy's store. We're living on
the lawn in tents, like Robinson Crusoe. It's most awfully jolly!"

Incidentally I may remark that Charlie's father had been completely
ruined by the earthquake, his store not being insured, but the small
boy only saw things from his own point of view.

A certain London West-End church, with which I am connected, has a
Resident Choir School attached to it. As the choir-boys' dormitory is
at the top of the building, every time that there was an air-raid
during the war, they were routed out of bed and sent down to the
coal-cellar. The boys were told to write an account of one peculiarly
severe raid as part of their school-work. One small urchin described
it as follows: "The Vicar woke us up and told us there was an
air-raid, and that we were to go down into the coal-cellar in our
pyjamas with our blankets. It was awfully jolly down in the cellar. In
our blankets we looked like robbers in a cave, or like a lot of Red
Indians. The Vicar told us stories, and we had buns and cocoa and sang
songs. It was all so awfully jolly that all the chaps hope that there
will be plenty more air-raids."

Here again the small boy's point of view differs materially from that
of the adult.

To go back to Jamaica, an acquaintance had returned early from his
office, and was having a cup of coffee on his verandah at 2.30.
Suddenly he saw the trees at the end of his garden rise up some eight
feet. A quick brain-wave suggested an earthquake to him at once, and
half-unconsciously he jumped from the verandah for all he was worth.
As he alighted on the lawn, his house crashed down behind him.

There were some further milder shocks. I was engaged in shaving early
one morning in our little wooden house, when I felt myself pushed
violently against the dressing-table, almost removing my chin with the
razor at the same time. I suspected my nephew of a practical joke, and
called out angrily to him. In an aggrieved voice he protested that he
had not touched me, but had himself been hurled by an unseen agency
against the wardrobe. Then came a perfect cannonade of nuts from an
overhanging tree on to the wooden roof of our modest temporary abode,
and still we did not understand. I had at that time an English valet,
the most stolid man I have ever come across. He entered the hut with a
pair of brown shoes in one hand, a pair of white ones in the other.
In the most matter-of-fact way he observed, "There's been an
earthquake, so perhaps you would like to wear your brown shoes to-day,
instead of the white ones." By what process of reasoning he judged
brown shoes more fitted to earthquake conditions than white ones,
rather escaped me.

Appalling tragedy though the earthquake was, like most tragedies it
had its occasional lighter side. A certain leading lady of the island
had been in the habit of wearing short skirts, long before the
dictates of fashion imposed the present unbecoming skimpy garments.
She did this on account of the numerous insect pests with which
Jamaica unfortunately abounds. For the same reason she adopted
light-coloured stockings, so that any creeping intruder could be
easily seen and brushed off. Her wardrobe being destroyed in the
earthquake, she took the train into Spanish Town in an endeavour to
replenish it. In a large drapery store the black forewoman at once
recognised the lady, and came forward, all bows and smiles, to greet
so important a customer.

"Please, what can I hab de pleasure of showing Madam?"

"I want some silk stockings, either pink or flesh-colour, if you have
any!"

"Very sorry, Madam, we hab no pink silk stockings, but we hab plenty
of flesh-coloured ones," taking down as she spoke a great bundle of
_black_ silk stockings. Of course, if one thinks over it for a moment,
it would be so.

The religious hysteria amongst the negroes showed no signs of abating.
A black "prophet," a full-blooded negro named Bedward, made his
appearance, and gained a great following. Bedward, dressed in a
discarded British naval uniform, and attended by a neurotic bodyguard
of screaming, hysterical negresses, made continual triumphal parades
through the streets of Kingston. As far as I could ascertain the most
important item in his religious crusade was the baptism of his
converts in the Hope River, at a uniform charge of half-a-crown per
head.

With regard to baptism, a curious incident occurred long before I was
born. A sister of mine, the late Duchess of Buccleuch, was so frail
and delicate at her birth that it was thought that she could not
possibly survive. She was accordingly baptised privately two days
after her birth. She rallied, and grew into a big sturdy girl. When
she was four years old, my father had her received into the Church by
the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.
During the service the Archbishop became inarticulate, and many of
those present feared that he had sustained a stroke, or had been
suddenly afflicted with aphasia. What had happened was this: As my
sister was inclined to be fidgetty and troublesome, my mother had,
perhaps unwisely, given her a packet of sugar-almonds to keep her
quiet. The child was actually sucking one of these when she arrived at
the Chapel Royal, but was, of course, made to remove it. Unseen by any
one, she managed to place another in her mouth. When the Archbishop
took her in his arms, the child, seeing his mouth so close to hers,
with the kindest intentions in the world, took the sugar-almond from
her own mouth and popped it into the Archbishop's. Never had a Primate
been in a more embarrassing situation! Having both his arms occupied
in holding the child, he could not remove the offending almond with
his fingers. It would be quite superfluous on my part to point out how
highly indecorous it would be for an Archbishop to--shall we say to
expel anything from his mouth--in church; and even after the sugar had
been dissolved, an almond must be crunched before it can be disposed
of, another wholly inadmissible contingency. So the poor Archbishop
had perforce to remain inarticulate; let us only hope that you and I
may never find ourselves in so difficult a situation.

Many people in Jamaica were in 1907 in quite as difficult a situation.
I found the wife of the Chief Justice, an old acquaintance of mine in
the Far East, living in the emptied swimming-bath of what had been her
home. The officers of the West India Regiment at Up Park Camp were all
under canvas on the cricket-ground. The officers' quarters at Up Park
Barracks were exceedingly well designed for the climate, being raised
on arcades. They were shattered, but the wooden shingle roofs had
fallen intact and unbroken, and lay on the ground in pieces about 100
feet long, a most curious spectacle. Students of _Tom Cringle_ will
remember the gruesome description of his dinner at the Mess at Up
Park Camp, during an epidemic of yellow fever, when one officer after
another got up and left the room, pinching the regimental doctor on
the shoulder as he did so, as an intimation that he, too, had been
claimed by the yellow death. The military authorities acted unwisely
in selecting Up Park as a site for barracks. It certainly stands high,
but is shut off from the sea breeze by the hill known as Long
Mountain, and has, in addition, a dangerous swamp to windward of it,
two drawbacks which might have been foreseen.

I noticed that brick houses suffered more than stone ones. This was
attributed to the inferior mortar used by Jamaican masons, for which
there can be no excuse, for the island abounds in lime. Wooden houses
escaped scatheless. Every statue in the Public Gardens was thrown
down, except that of Queen Victoria. The superstitious negroes were
much impressed by this fact, though the earthquake had, curiously
enough, twisted the statue entirely round. Instead of facing the sea,
as she formerly did, the Queen now turned her back on it, otherwise
the statue was uninjured. The clock on the shattered Parish Church
recorded the fatal hour when it had stopped in the general ruin: 2.42
p.m. As far as I could learn, the earthquake had not taken the form of
a trembling motion, but the solid ground had twice risen and fallen
eight feet, a sort of land-wave, which apparently was confined to the
light sandy Liguanea plain, for where the mountains began no shock had
been felt. The fine old church of St. Andrew had been originally built
in 1635, but had been demolished by the earthquake of 1692 and rebuilt
in 1700, as the inscription at the west end testified. Here the words
"Anna Regina," surrounded by a mass of florid carving, showed that
Jamaica is no land of yesterday. The earthquake of 1907 shook down the
tower, but did not injure the collection of very fine seventeenth- and
eighteenth-century monuments the church contains. The inscription on
one of these, opposite the Governor's pew, pleased me by its
originality. After a detailed list of the many admirable qualities of
the lady it commemorates, it goes on to say that "in the yeare 1685
she passed through the spotted veil of the smallpox to her God."

We accompanied the Governor to Port Royal to take stock of the damage
there. Previous to 1692, Port Royal was reputed the richest and the
wickedest spot on earth, for it was the headquarters of the
Buccaneers; here they divided their ill-gotten gains, and here they
strutted about bedizened in their tawdry finery, drinking and
gambling. I should be inclined to distrust the local legend that in
the many taverns the wine was all served in jewelled golden cups, for,
given the character of the customers, one would imagine that the gold
cups would be apt to leave the taverns with the customers. Then came
the earthquake of 1692, and half of Port Royal was swallowed by the
sea. A pillar has been erected at Green Bay, opposite to a Huguenot
refugee, one Lewis Galdy, who had a wonderful escape. According to the
inscription on it, "Mr. Lewis Galdy was swallowed by the earthquake,
and, by the providence of God, thrown by another shock into the sea,
and lived many years afterwards in great reputation."

Port Royal cannot be called a fortunate spot, for in 1703 it was again
entirely destroyed by fire, and in 1722 it was swept away by a
hurricane.

It is, in spite of its historic past, a mean, squalid, decaying little
place. Being built almost entirely of wood, the town had sustained but
little injury, but the massive concrete fort at the end of the
peninsula had slid bodily into the sea, six-inch guns and all. Some
twenty cocoa-nut palms it had taken with it were standing in the
water, their brown withered tops just peering above the surface,
giving a curious effect of desolation. A tramway used for conveying
ammunition bore witness to the violence of the earth-waves, for it
stood in places some ten feet up in the air, resting on nothing at
all; looking for all the world like a switchback railway at Earl's
Court. So many charges are levelled at the Royal Engineers that it is
pleasant to be able to testify that every building erected by this
much-abused corps at Port Royal had resisted the earthquake and was
standing intact. Port Royal, notwithstanding its situation at the end
of a peninsula, had in old days a terrible reputation for
unhealthiness, only surpassed by that of Fort Augusta across the bay,
the latter a veritable charnel-house. The neighbourhood of the
poisonous swamps of the Rio Cobre was in both cases responsible for
the loss of tens of thousands of British soldiers' lives in these two
ill-fated spots. They were both hot-beds of yellow fever.

My nephew and I, being able to do no good there, were anxious to
escape from ruined Kingston, and made arrangements to stay as paying
guests with one or two planters, in order to see something of their
daily life. After a second drive through the exquisitely beautiful Bog
Walk and over Monte Diavolo, we found ourselves on the sugar estate of
a widow, a lady of pure white blood. There were abundant indications
of the former prosperity of the place, and even more apparent signs
that at present the wolf was very close to the door. The verandah was
paved with marble, there was some fine mahogany carving in the central
hall, the dessert-service was of George II. silver-gilt, and the china
beautiful old Spode. Everything else about the place told its own
story of desperate financial conditions. Our hostess declared that it
was impossible for a woman to manage a sugar estate, as she could not
always be about amongst the canes and in the boiler-house, and her
sons were not yet old enough to help her. No one who has not
experienced it can picture the heat of a Jamaican sugar-factory; I
should imagine the temperature to be about 120 degrees. Most people, I
think, take a rather childish pleasure in watching the first stages of
the manufacture of familiar products. I confess to feeling interested
on
being told that the stream of muddy liquid issuing from the crushed
canes and trickling gaily down its wooden gutters, would ultimately
figure as the lump-sugar of our breakfast-tables. There is also a
peculiarly fascinating apparatus known as a vacuum-pan, peeping into
which, through a little tale window, a species of brown porridge
transforms itself into crystallised sugar of the sort known to
housekeepers as "Demerara" under your very eyes; and another equally
attractive, rapidly revolving machine in which the molasses, by
centrifugal force, detaches itself from the sugar, and runs of its own
accord down its appointed channels to the rum distillery, where
Alice's Dormouse would have had the gratification of seeing a real
treacle-well. In this latter place, where the smell of the fermenting
molasses is awful, only East Indian coolies can be employed, a West
Indian negro being unable to withstand its alcoholic temptations.

After seeing all the lions of the island, we drifted as paying guests
to a school for little white boys on the north coast.

The surroundings of this school were ideally beautiful. It stood on a
promontory jutting into the sea, with a coral reef in front of it, but
shut in as it was by the hills, the heat of the place was unbearable,
and the little white boys all looked pathetically pale and "peaky."

My nephew pointed out to me that a little cove near the school must be
the identical place we had both read of hundreds of times, and he
justly remarked what an ideal spot it would be in which to be
shipwrecked. All the traditional accessories were there. The coral
reef with the breakers thundering on it; the placid lagoon inshore; a
little cove whose dazzling white coral beach was fringed with
cocoa-nut palms down to the very water's edge; a crystal-clear spring
trickling down the cliff and tumbling into a rocky basin; the hill
behind clothed with a dense jungle of bread-fruit trees and wild
plantains, whose sea of greenery was starred with the golden balls of
innumerable orange trees; the whole place must really have been lifted
bodily out of some boy's book, and put here to prove that writers of
fiction occasionally tell the truth, for it seemed perfectly familiar
to both of us. Certainly, the oranges were of the bitter Seville
variety and were uneatable, and wild plantains are but an indifferent
article of diet; still, they satisfied the eye, and fulfilled their
purpose as indispensable accessories to the castaway's new home. It
would be impossible to conceive of more orthodox surroundings in which
to be shipwrecked, for our vessel would be, of course, piled up on the
reef within convenient distance, and we would presuppose a current
setting into the cove. We should also have to assume that the ship was
loaded with a general cargo, including such unlikely items as
tool-chests and cases of vegetable seeds, all of which would be washed
ashore undamaged precisely when wanted. It is quite obvious that a
cargo of, say, type-writers, or railway metals, would prove of
doubtful utility to any castaways, nor would there be much probability
of either of these articles floating ashore. My nephew, a slave to
tradition, wished at once to construct a hut of palm branches close to
the clear spring, as is always done in the books; he was also
positively yearning to light a fire in the manner customary amongst
orthodox castaways, by using my spectacles as a burning-glass. With
regard to the necessary commissariat arrangements, he pointed out that
there were abundant Avocado pear trees in the vicinity, which would
furnish "Midshipman's butter," whilst the bread-fruit tree would
satisfactorily replace the baker, and the Aki fruit form an excellent
substitute for eggs. He enlarged on the innumerable other vegetable
conveniences of the island, and declared that it was almost flying in
the face of Providence for a sea-captain to neglect to lose his ship
in so ideal a spot.

Whilst watching the little boys playing football in a temperature of
90 degrees, we noticed an unusual adjunct to a football field. A great
pile of unripe, green cocoa-nuts (called "water-cocoa-nuts" in Jamaica)
lay in one corner, with a negro boy standing guard over them. Up would
trot a dripping little white urchin, and pant out, "Please open me a
nut, Arthur," and with one stroke of his machete the young negro would
decapitate a nut, which the little fellow would drain thirstily and
then rush back to his game. The schoolmaster told me that he always
gave his boys cocoa-nut water at their dinner, as it never causes a
chill, and as there were thousands of trees growing round the school,
it was an inexpensive luxury. One of the duties of Arthur, the negro
boy, was to supply the school with nuts, and I saw him going up the
trees like a monkey, with the aid of a sling of rope round his leg.

I and my nephew went out fishing on the reef at dawn, before the
breeze sprang up. The water was like glass, and we could see the
bottom quite clearly at nine fathoms. It was like fishing in an
aquarium. The most impossible marine monsters! Turquoise-blue fish;
grey and pink fish; some green and scarlet, others as yellow as
canaries. We could follow our lines right down to the bottom, and see
the fish hook themselves amongst the jagged coral, till the
bottom-boards of the boat looked like a rainbow with our victims. As
the breeze sprang up, the surf started at once, and fishing became
impossible. We had been warned that many of the reef fish were
uneatable, and that the yellow ones were actively poisonous. We were
quite proud of our Joseph's-coat-like catch, but our henchman, the
negro lad Arthur, assured us that every fish we had caught was
poisonous. We had reason later to doubt this assertion, as we saw him
walking home with a splendid parti-coloured string of fish, probably
chuckling over the white man's credulity.

The natural surroundings of that school were lovely, but the little
white boys, who had lived all their lives in Jamaica, most likely took
it all for granted, and thought it quite natural to have their
bathing-place surrounded by cocoa-nut palms, their playground fringed
with hibiscus and scarlet poinsettias, and the garden a riot of
mangoes, bread-fruits, nutmeg and cinnamon trees.

No doubt they thought their school and its grounds dull and
hideous. On a subsequent voyage home from Jamaica, there was on board
a very small boy from this identical school, on his way to a school in
Scotland. He seemed about eight; a little, sturdy figure in white
cotton shorts. He was really much older, and it was curious to hear a
deep bass voice (with a strong Scottish accent) issuing from so small
a frame. He was a very independent little Scot, wanting no help, and
quite able to take care of himself. We arrived at Bristol in bitterly
cold weather, and the boy, who had been five years in Jamaica, had
only his tropical clothing. We left him on the platform of Bristol
station, a forlorn little figure, shivering in his inadequate white
cotton shorts, and blue with the unaccustomed cold, to commence his
battle with the world alone, but still declining any assistance in
reaching his destination. That boy had a brief, but most distinguished
career. He passed second out of Sandhurst, sweeping the board of
prizes, including the King's Prize, Lord Roberts' Prize, the Sword of
Honour, and the riding and shooting prizes. He chose the Indian Army,
and the 9th Goorkhas as his regiment, a choice he had made, as he told
me afterwards, since his earliest boyhood, when Rudyard Kipling's
books had first opened his eyes to a new world. That lad proved to
have the most extraordinary natural gift for Oriental languages.
Within two years of his first arrival in India he had passed in higher
Urdu, in higher Hindi, in Punjabi, and in Pushtoo. Norman Kemp had; in
addition, some curious intuitive faculty for understanding the
Oriental mind, and was a born leader of men. He was a wonderful
all-round sportsman, and promised to be one of the finest
soldier-jockeys India has ever turned out, for here his light weight
and very diminutive size were assets. He came to France with the first
Indian contingent, went through eighteen months' heavy fighting there,
and then took part in the relief of Kut, where he won the M.C. for
conspicuous valour on the field, and afterwards gained the D.S.O. I
have heard him conversing in five different languages with the wounded
Indian soldiers in the Pavilion Hospital at Brighton (with the
Scottish accent underlying them all), and noted the thorough
understanding there was between him and the men. Young as he was, he
had managed to get inside the Oriental mind. He was killed in a paltry
frontier affray, six months after the Armistice. I am convinced that
Norman Kemp would have made a great name for himself had he lived. He
had the peculiar faculty of gaining the confidence of the Oriental,
and I think that he would have eventually drifted from the Military to
the Political or Administrative side in India. He was a splendid
little fellow.

Nearly twenty-five years earlier, I had known another very similar
type of young man. He was a subaltern in the Norfolk Regiment, and a
great school-friend of a nephew of mine. Chafing at the monotony of
regimental life, he got seconded, and went out to the Nigerian
Frontier Field Force. Here that young fellow of twenty-two, who had
hitherto confined his energies to playing football and boxing, proved
himself not only a natural leader of men, but a born administrator as
well. He quickly gained the confidence of his Haussa troops, and then
set to work to improve the sanitary conditions of Jebba, where he was
stationed. He equipped the town with a good water-supply, as well as
with a system of drainage, and planted large vegetable gardens, so
that the European residents need no longer be entirely dependent on
tinned foods. It was Ronald Buxton, too, who first had the idea of
building houses on tripods of railway metals, to raise them above the
deadly ground-mists. Thanks to him, the place became reasonably
healthy, and his powers of organisation being quickly recognised, he
was transferred from the Military to the Administrative side. His
whole heart was in his work. Like young Kemp, Buxton always stayed in
my house when on leave. Though the most tempting invitations to shoot
and to hunt rained in on him whilst in England, he was always fretting
and chafing to be back at work in his pestilential West African swamp,
where he lived on a perpetual diet of bully beef and yams in a leaky
native grass-built hut. Like young Kemp, he was absolutely indifferent
to the ordinary comforts of life, and appeared really to enjoy
hardships, and they were both quite insensible to the attractions of
money. He was killed in the South African War, or would, I am sure,
have had a most distinguished Colonial career. These two young men
seemed created to be pioneers in rough lands. As far as my own
experience goes, it is only these Islands that produce young men of
the precise stamp of Norman Kemp and Ronald Buxton.




CHAPTER VII

Appalling ignorance of geography amongst English people--Novel
pedagogic methods--"Happy Families"--An instructive game--Bermuda--A
waterless island--A most inviting archipelago--Bermuda the most
northern coral-atoll--The reefs and their polychrome fish--A
"water-glass"--Sea-gardens--An ideal sailing place-How the Guardsman
won his race--A miniature Parliament--Unfounded aspersions on the
Bermudians--Red and blue birds--Two pardonable mistakes--Soldier
gardeners--Officers' wives--The little roaming home-makers--A pleasant
island--The inquisitive German Naval Officers--"The Song of the
Bermudians."


The crass ignorance of the average Englishman about geography is
really appalling. He neither knows, nor wants to know, anything about
it, and oddly enough seems to think that there is something rather
clever about his dense ignorance. This ignorance extends to our
statesmen, as we know by the painful experience of some of our
treaties, which can only have been drawn up by men grossly ignorant of
the parts of the world about which they were supposed to be
negotiating. I quite admit that geography is almost ignored in our
schools, and yet no branch of knowledge can be made so attractive to
the young, and, taught in conjunction with history, as it should be,
none is of higher educational value. At the request of two clerical
friends, I gave some geography lessons last year to the little boys in
their schools. My methods were admittedly illegitimate. In the course
of the last fifteen years I have sent hundreds of coloured
picture-postcards of places all over the world, in Asia, Africa,
Europe and America, to a small great-nephew of mine, now of an age
when such things no longer appeal to him. Armed with my big bundle of
postcards, and with another parcel as well, I tackled my small pupils.
I never spoke of them of a place without showing them a set of views
of it, for I have a theory that the young remember more by the eye
than by the ear. In this way a place-name conveyed to them a definite
idea, for they had seen half-a-dozen somewhat garishly coloured
presentments of it. The young love colour. Then my second method came
into play. "Evans, what did I tell you last time grew in Jamaica?"
"Sugar and coffee, sir," "Next boy, what else?" "Pepper, salt and
mustard, sir." "Young idiot! Next boy." "Cocoa, sir, and ginger."
"Very good, Oxley. Bring me that long parcel there. There is enough
preserved ginger for two pieces for each boy; Ellis, who gave a silly
answer, gets none." "Baker, what fruit did I tell you grew in the West
Indies?" "Pineapples, sir." "Very good, Baker. Bring me those two tins
of pineapple and the tin-opener. Plenty for you all." My lessons were
quite enormously popular with my pupils, though the matron complained
that the boys seemed liable to bilious attacks after them.

In the days of my childhood, some ingenious person had devised a game
known as "Educational Quartettes." These "quartettes" were merely
another form of the game of "Happy Families," which seems to make so
persistent an appeal to the young. Every one must be familiar with it.
The underlying principle is that any possessor of one card of any
family may ask another player for any missing card of the suit; in
this way the whereabouts of the cards can be gradually ascertained,
and "Mr. Bones the Butcher" finds himself eventually reunited,
doubtless to his great joy, to his worthy, if unprepossessing spouse,
Mrs. Bones, and to his curiously hideous offspring, Miss Bones and
Master Bones. The same holds good with regard to the other families,
those of Mr. Bun the Baker, Mr. Pots the Painter, and their friends,
and we can only hope that these families make up in moral worth for
their painful lack of physical attractions. "Educational Quartettes"
were played in exactly the same way. At the age of six, I played them
every night with my sisters and brother, and the set we habitually
used was "English Ecclesiastical Architecture." In lieu of Mr. Bung
the Brewer, we had "Norman Style, 1066-1145." Mrs. Bung was replaced
by "Massive Columns," Miss Bung by "Round Arches," Master Bung by
"Dog-tooth Mouldings," each one with its picture. The next Quartette
was "Early English, 1189-1307." No. 2 being "Clustered Columns," No. 3
"Pointed Arches," No. 4 "Lancet Windows," each one again with its
picture, and so on through the later styles. We had none of us the
least idea that we were being educated; we thought that we were merely
playing a game, but the information got insensibly absorbed through
ear and eye, and remained there.

Never shall I forget the astonishment of a clergyman who was showing
his church to my youngest brother and myself, he then being aged nine,
and I eleven. The Vicar observed that, had we been older, we would
have found his church very interesting architecturally, when my
nine-year-old brother remarked quite casually, "Where we are, it is
decorated 1307-1377, but by the organ it's Early English, 1189-1307."
The clergyman, no doubt, thought him a precocious little prig, but
from perpetually playing Architectural Quartettes, this little piece
of information came instinctively from him, for he had absorbed it
unconsciously.

Another set we habitually played was entitled "Famous Travellers," and
even after the lapse of fifty-six years, many of the names still stick
in my memory. For instance under "North Africa" came 2, Jules Gerard;
3, Earth; 4, Denham and Clapperton. Jules Gerard's name was familiar
to me, for was he not, like the illustrious Tartarin de Tarascon, a
_tueur de lions_? It was, indeed, Jules Gerard's example which
first fired the imagination of the immortal Tarasconnais, though
personally I confess to a slight feeling of disappointment at learning
from Gerard's biographer that, in spite of his grandiloquent title,
his total bag of lions in eleven years was only twenty-five. As to the
German, Heinrich Earth, my knowledge of him is of the slightest, and I
plead guilty to complete ignorance about Denham and Clapperton's
exploits, though their names seem more suggestive of a firm of
respectable family solicitors or of a small railway station on a
branch line, than of two distinguished travellers. The main point is
that after an interval of more than half a century, these names should
have stuck in my memory, thus testifying to the educational value of
the game. I wish that some educationalist, taking advantage of the
proved liking of children for this form of game, would revive these
Quartettes, for there is an immense advantage in a child learning
unconsciously. I think that geography could be easily taught in this
way; for instance: 1. France (capital Paris). 2. Lyons and Marseilles.
3. Bordeaux and Rouen. 4. Lille and Strasbourg. Coloured maps or views
of the various cities would be indispensable, for I still maintain
that a child remembers through its eyes. In my youth I was given a
most excellent little manual of geography entitled _Near Home_,
embellished with many crude woodcuts. The book had admittedly an
extremely string religious bias, but it was written in a way
calculated to interest the young, and thanks to the woodcuts most of
its information got permanently absorbed. Perhaps some one with
greater experience in such matters than I can pretend to, may devise a
more effectual scheme for combating the crass ignorance of most
English people about geography.

Should one ask the average Englishman where Bermuda is, he would be
certain to reply, "Somewhere in the West Indies," which is exactly
where it is not.

This fascinating archipelago of coral islands forms an isolated little
group in the North Atlantic, six hundred miles from the United States,
three thousand miles from Europe, and twelve hundred miles north of
the West Indies. Bermuda is the second oldest British Colonial
possession, ranking only after Newfoundland, which was discovered by
John Cabot in 1497, and occupied in the name of Queen Elizabeth in
1583. Sir George Somers being wrecked on Bermuda in 1609, at once
retaliated by annexing the group, though, as there is not one drop of
water on any of the islands, there were naturally no aboriginal
inhabitants to dispute his claim.

Bermuda is to me a perpetual economic puzzle, for it seems to defy
triumphantly all the rules which govern other places. Here is a group
of islands whose total superficies is only 12,500 acres, of which
little more than one-tenth is capable of cultivation. There is no
fresh water whatever, the inhabitants being entirely dependent on the
rainfall for their supply; and yet some 22,000 people, white and
coloured, live there in great prosperity, and there is no poverty
whatever. I almost hesitate before adding that there are no taxes in
Bermuda beyond a 10 per cent. _ad valorem_ duty on everything imported
into the islands except foodstuffs; for the housing accommodation is
already rather overstrained, and should this fact become generally
known, I apprehend that there would be such an influx into Bermuda from
the United Kingdom of persons desirous of escaping from our present
crushing burden of taxation, that the many caves of the archipelago
would all have to be fitted up as lodging-houses. The real explanation
of the prosperity of the islands is probably to be found in the
wonderful fertility of the soil, which produces three crops a year, and
in the immense tourist traffic during the winter months.

The islands were originally settled in rather a curious way. Certain
families, my own amongst them, took shares in the "Bermuda Company,"
and each undertook to plant a little "tribe" there. These "tribes"
seem to have come principally from Norfolk and Lincolnshire, as is
shown by the names of the principal island families. The Triminghams,
the Tuckers, the Inghams, the Pennistones, and the Outerbridges have
all been there since the early sixteen hundreds. Probably nowhere in
the world is the colour-line drawn more rigidly than in Bermuda; white
and coloured never meet socially, and there are separate schools for
white and black children. This is, of course, due to the instinct of
self-preservation; in so small a community it would have been
impossible otherwise for the white settlers to keep their blood pure
for three hundred years. The names of the different parishes show the
families who originally took shares in the Bermuda Company; Pembroke,
Devonshire, Hamilton, Warwick, Paget, and Somerset amongst others.

They are the most delightful islands imaginable. The vegetation is
sub-tropical rather than tropical, and all the islands are clothed
with a dense growth of Bermudian cedar (really a juniper), and of
oleander. I have never seen a sea of deeper sapphire-blue, and this is
reflected not from above, but from below, and is due to the bed of
white coral sand beneath the water. On the dullest day the water keeps
its deep-blue tint. When the oleanders are in bloom, the milk-white
houses, peeping out from this sheet of rose-pink, with the deep indigo
of the sea, and the sombre green of the cedars, make one of the most
enchanting pictures that it is possible to imagine.

Bermuda has distinctly an island climate, which is perhaps fortunate,
as the inhabitants are entirely dependent on rain-water. With a north
wind there is brilliant sunshine tempered by occasional terrific
downpours. With a south wind there is a perpetual warm drizzle varied
with heavy showers. With a west wind the weather is apt to be
uncertain, but I was assured that an east wind brought settled, fine
weather. I never recollect an east wind in Bermuda, but my climatic
reminiscences only extend to the winter months.

Bermuda is the most northern coral-atoll existing, and is the only
place where I have actually seen the coral insect at work on the
reefs. He is not an insect at all, but a sort of black slug. These
curious creatures have all an inherited tendency to suicide, for when
the coral-worm gets above the tide-level he dies. Still they work
bravely away, obsessed with the idea of raising their own particular
reef well out of the water at the cost of their own lives. The coral
of a reef is an ugly brown substance which has been inelegantly
compared to a decayed tooth. Not until the coral is pulverised does it
take on its milk-white colour. I am told by learned people that
Bermuda, like most coral islands, is of Aolian formation; that is,
that the powdered coral has been gradually deposited by the winds of
countless centuries until it has risen high out of the water. Farther
south in the tropics, we know what happens. Nature has given the
cocoa-nut the power of preserving its vitality almost indefinitely.
The fallen nuts float on the sea and drift hither and thither. Once
washed up on a beach and dried by the sun, the nut thrusts out little
green suckers from those "eyes" which every one must have noticed on
cocoa-nuts, anchors itself firmly into the soil, and in seven years
will be bearing fruit. The fallen fronds decay and make soil, and so
another island becomes gradually clothed with vegetation. In Bermuda
the cedar replaces the cocoa-nut palm.

Fishing on the reefs in Bermuda is the best fun imaginable for persons
not liable to sea-sickness. The fisherman has in his left hand a
"water-glass," which is merely a stout box with the bottom filled in
with plate-glass. The water-glass must be held below the ripple of the
surface, which, by the way, requires a fair amount of muscular effort,
when through the pane of glass, the sea-floor ten fathoms below is
clearly visible. The coloured fish of Jamaica were neutral-tinted
pigmies compared to the polychrome monsters on a Bermudian reef, and
one could actually see them swallowing one's bait. One of the
loveliest fishes that swims is the Bermudian angel-fish, who has the
further merit of almost equalling a sole when fried. Shaped like a
John Dory, he has a lemon-coloured body with a back of brilliant
turquoise-blue, which gleams in the water like vivid blue enamel. He
is further decorated with two long orange streamers. The angel-fish,
having a very small mouth, must be fished for with a special hook.
Then there is the queen-turbot, shaded from dark blue to palest
turquoise, reminding one of Lord's Cricket Ground at an Eton and
Harrow match; besides pink fish, scarlet fish, and orange fish, which
when captured make the bottom-boards of the boat look like a Futurist
landscape, not to speak of horrible, spotted, eel-like creatures whose
bite is venomous. Reef-fishing is full of exciting incidents, but its
chief attraction is the amazing beauty of the sea-gardens as seen
through the water-glass, with sponges and sea-fans of every hue,
gently waving in the current far below, as fish of all the colours of
the rainbow play in and out of them in the clear blue water.

At Bermuda I found my old friend, the Guardsman, established at
Government House as A.D.C. The island is one of the most ideal places
in the world for boat-sailing, and the Guardsman had taken up yacht
racing with his usual enthusiasm; atoning for his lack of experience
by a persistent readiness to take the most hideous risks. The C.O. of
the British battalion then stationed in Bermuda was rather hard put to
it to find sufficient employment for his men, owing to the restricted
area of the island. He encouraged, therefore, their engagements in
civilian capacities, as it not only put money into the men's pockets,
but kept them interested. At Government House we had
soldier-gardeners, soldier-grooms, a soldier cowman, and a
soldier-footman. The footman was a Southampton lad, and having been
employed as a boy in a racing-yacht on the Solent, was a most useful
man in a boat, and the Guardsman had accordingly annexed him as one of
his racing crew, regardless of the fact that his labours afloat rather
interfered with the specific domestic duties ashore for which he had
been engaged by the Governor. A hundred-year-old yacht had for many
years been handed over from Governor to Governor. The _Lady of the
Isles_ was Bermudian-rigged and Bermudian-built of cedar-wood. She
had great beam, and was very lightly sparred, having a correspondingly
small sail-area, but in spite of her great age she was still
absolutely sound and was a splendid sea-boat. The Bermudian rig had
been evolved to meet local conditions. Imagine a cutter with one
single long spar in the place of a mast and topmast; this spar is
stepped rather farther aft than it would be in an ordinary cutter, and
there is one huge mainsail, "leg-of-mutton" shaped, with a boom but no
gaff, and a very large jib. Owing to their big head-sails, and to
their heavy keels, these Bermudian craft fore-reach like a steamer,
and hardly ever miss stays. For the same reason they are very wet, as
they bury themselves in the water. A handsome silver cup had been
presented by a visitor for a yacht race right round the Bermudas, and
the Guardsman managed to persuade the Governor to enter his
centenarian yacht for this race, and to confide the sailing of her to
himself. The ancient _Lady of the Isles_ got a very liberal time
allowance on account of her age and her small spread of canvas, but to
every one but the Guardsman it seemed like entering a Clydesdale for
the Derby. He had already formulated his plan, but kept it strictly to
himself; for its success half a gale of wind was necessary. I agreed
to sail with him, and as the start was to be at 6 a.m. I got up three
mornings running at 4 a.m., and found myself with Joss, the Guardsman,
and the soldier-footman on the water-front at half-past five in the
morning, only to discover that there was not the faintest breath of
air, and that Hamilton Harbour lay one unruffled sheet of lapis-lazuli
in a flat calm; a state of things I should imagine unparallelled in "the
still vexed Bermoothes." (How on earth did Shakespeare ever come to
hear of Bermuda?) Three days running the race was declared "off," so
when the Guardsman awoke me on the fourth morning with the news that
it was blowing a full gale, I flatly declined to move, and turned over
and went to sleep again, thereby saving my nerves a considerable
trial.

Government House has a signal-station of its own, and at ten o'clock a
message arrived announcing that the _Lady of the Isles_ was
leading by four miles. The Governor, who had never taken his old
yacht's entry seriously, grew tremendously excited, ordered a light
trap and two fast ponies round, and he and I, equipped with telescopes
and sandwiches, spent the rest of the day tearing from one end of the
island to the other, now on the south shore, now on the north shore,
lying on our stomachs with telescopes to our eyes. It was quite true
that the old centenarian had a tremendous lead, which was gradually
decreased as the day went on. Still, the Guardsman, with face and
hands the colour of a copper kettle, appeared triumphantly at dinner
with a large silver cup which he presented with a bow to Lady
Wodehouse, the Governor's wife, whilst the soldier-footman, burnt
redder than the Reddest of Indians above his white shirt and tie,
grinned sympathetically as he busied himself over his duties with the
cauliflowers and potatoes. What had happened was this: the race was
right round the islands, without any mark-boats to round. There was a
very heavy sea running, and great breakers were washing over the
reefs. The other yachts all headed for the "gate," or opening in the
reefs, but the Guardsman, a keen hunting man, knowing that alone of
the competitors the old _Lady of the Isles_ had no "fin-keel,"
had determined to try and _jump the reef_. In spite of the
frantic protests of the black pilot, he headed straight for the reef,
and, watching his opportunity, put her fairly at it as a big sea swept
along, and got over without a scrape, thus gaining six miles. It was a
horribly risky proceeding, for had they bumped, the old yacht would
have gone to pieces, and the big sharks lie hungrily off the reefs.
The one chance for the broad-beamed old boat, with her small
sail-area, was a gale of wind, for here her wonderful qualities as a
sea-boat came in. I often sailed in races with the Guardsman in a
smaller modern boat, much to the detriment of my nervous system, for
he was incorrigible about taking risks, in which he was abetted by the
soldier-footman, a sporting youth who, being always given a pecuniary
interest in the races, was quite willing to take chances. The
Guardsman, as a hunting man, never seemed to realise that a yacht had
not the same jumping powers as a horse, and that a reef was a somewhat
formidable barrier to tackle.

Owing to Bermudian boats being so "wet," one always landed soaked to
the skin, and in any town but Hamilton, people would have stared at
seeing three drowned rats in white garments, clinging like tights,
making their dripping way home through the streets; but there it is
such an everyday occurrence that no one even turned their heads; and,
as the soldier-footman was fond of observing, "It's comfortable
feeling as 'ow you're so wet that you can't get no wetter no'ow."

Bermuda has its own little Parliament of thirty-six members, the
oldest Parliament in the New World. It really is an ideal Chamber, for
every one of the thirty-six members sit on the Government side; there
is no Opposition. The electors do not seem to favour youthful
representatives, for the heads of the legislators were all white or
grey, and there seemed in the atmosphere a wholesome mistrust of
innovations. There was great popular excitement over a Bill for
permitting the use of motor-cars in the islands, a Bill to which
public opinion was dead opposed. There was some reason in this
opposition. The roads in Bermuda are excellent, but they are all made
of coral, which becomes very slippery when wet. The roads twist a
great deal, and the island is hilly, and the farmers complained that
they could never get their great wagons of vegetables (locally called
"garden-truck") down to the harbour in safety should motor-cars be
permitted. I well remember one white-headed old gentleman thundering
out: "Our fathers got on without all these new-fangled notions, and
what was good enough for my father is good enough for me, Mr.
Speaker," a sentiment which provoked loud outbursts of applause.
Another patriarch observed: "As it was in the beginning, is now, and
ever shall be, is our motto in Bermuda, Mr. Speaker," a confession of
faith which was received by the House with rapturous enthusiasm; so,
by thirty-three votes to three, all motors were declared illegal in
the islands.

I do not apprehend that there will ever be a shortage of building
materials in Bermuda, for this is how a house is built. The whole
formation being of coral, the stones are quarried on the actual site
of the house, the hole thus created being cemented and used as a
cistern for the rain-water from the roof. The accommodating coral is
as soft as cheese when first cut, but hardens after some months'
exposure to the air. The soft stones are shaped as wanted, together
with thin slabs of coral for the roof, and are then all left to
harden. When finished, the entire house, including the roof, is
whitewashed, the convenient coral also furnishing the whitening
material.

These white roofs give quite an individual character to a Bermudian
landscape, their object, of course, being to keep the rain-water
supply pure. The men and women who live in these houses are really
delightful people, and are all perfectly natural and unaffected. They
are all, as one might suppose in so small a place, inter-related. The
men seem to have a natural aptitude for cricket, whilst Bermudian
girls can all dance, swim, play lawn-tennis, and sail boats to
perfection. On my second visit to the islands, I was much struck with
one small incident. Two pretty sisters were always the first arrivals
at the bi-weekly hotel dances. I found that they lived on the far side
of Hamilton Harbour, some six miles by road. As they could not afford
ten dollars twice a week for carriage hire, they put on sea-boots and
oilskins over their ball-gowns, and then paddled themselves across a
mile and a half of rough water, shook out their creases and touched up
their hair on arrival, danced all the evening, and then paddled
themselves home, whatever the weather. Most Bermudian girls, indeed,
seem quite amphibious.

I went out the second time with a great friend of mine, who was
anxious to see her son, then quartered in the island. We had attended
the Parade Service on Sunday at the Garrison Church, and my friend was
resting on the hotel verandah, when she heard two American ladies
talking. "My dear," said one of them, "you ought to have come up to
that Garrison Church. I tell you, it was a right smart, snappy, dandy
little Service, with a Colonel in full uniform reading selections from
the Bible from a gilt eagle."

Amongst other interesting people I saw a good deal of at that time in
Bermuda was "Mark Twain," who had, however, begun to fail, and that
most cultivated and delightful of men, the late William Dean Howells.
I twice met at luncheon a gentleman who, I was told, might possibly be
adopted as Democratic Candidate for the Presidency of the United
States. His name was Dr. Woodrow Wilson.

Many country houses in Bermuda have pieces of old Chippendale and
French furniture in them, as well as fine specimens of old French and
Spanish silver. I entirely discredit the malicious rumours I have
heard about the origin of these treasures. All male Bermudians were
seafaring folk in the eighteenth century, and ill-natured people hint
that these intrepid mariners, not content with their legitimate
trading profits, were occasionally not averse to--a little maritime
enterprise. These scandalmongers insinuate that in addition to the
British Ensign under which they sailed, another flag of a duskier hue
was kept in a convenient locker, and was occasionally hoisted when the
owner felt inclined to indulge his tastes as a collector of works of
art, or to act as a Marine Agent. I do not believe one word of it, and
emphatically decline to associate such kindly people with such dubious
proceedings, even if a hundred and fifty years have elapsed since
then.

These merchant-traders conducted their affairs on the most patriarchal
principles. They built their own schooners of their own cedar-wood,
and sailed them themselves with a crew of their own black slaves. The
invariable round-voyage was rather a complicated one. The first stage
was from Bermuda in ballast to Turks' Island, in the British Caicos
group. At Turks' Island for two hundred years salt has been prepared
by evaporating sea-water. The Bermudian owner filled up with salt, and
sailed for the Banks of Newfoundland, where he disposed of his cargo
of salt to the fishermen for curing their cod, and loaded up with
salt-fish, with which he sailed to the West Indies. Salt-fish has
always been, and still is, the staple article of diet of the West
Indian negro; so, his load of salt-fish being advantageously disposed
of, he filled up with sugar, coffee, rum, and other tropical produce,
and left for New York, where he found a ready sale for his cargo. At
New York he loaded up with manufactured goods and "Yankee notions,"
and returned to Bermuda to dispose of them, thus completing the round
trip; but I still refuse to credit the story of other and less
legitimate developments of mercantile enterprise. Of course, should
Britain be at war with either France or Spain, and should a richly
loaded French or Spanish merchantman happen to be overtaken, things
might obviously be a little different. The Bermudian owner might then
feel it his duty to relieve the vessel of any objects of value to
avoid tempting the cupidity of others less scrupulous than himself;
but I cannot believe that this was an habitual practice, and should
the dusky flag ever have been hoisted, I feel certain that it was only
through sheer inadvertence.

I know of one country house in Bermuda where the origin of all the
beautiful things it contains is above all suspicion. The house stands
on a knoll overlooking the ultramarine waters of Hamilton Harbour, and
is surrounded by a dense growth of palms, fiddle trees, and spice
trees. The rooms are panelled in carved cedar-wood, and there is
charming "grillage" iron-work in the fanlights and outside gates.
There is an old circular-walled garden with brick paths, a perfect
blaze of colour; and at the back of the house, which is clothed in
stephanotis and "Gloire de Dijon" roses, an avenue of flaming scarlet
poinsettias leads to the orchard: it is a delightful, restful,
old-world place, which, together with its inhabitants, somehow still
retains its eighteenth-century atmosphere.

The red and blue birds form one of the attractions of Bermuda. The
male red bird, the Cardinal Grosbeak, a remarkably sweet songster,
wears an entire suit of vivid carmine, and has a fine tufted crest of
the same colour, whilst his wife is dressed more soberly in dull grey
bordered with red, just like a Netley nursing sister. The blue birds
have dull red breasts like our robins, with turquoise-blue backs and
wings, glinting with the same metallic sheen on the blue that the
angel-fish display in the water. As with our kingfishers, one has the
sense of a brilliant flash of blue light shooting past one. The red
and blue birds are very accommodating, for they often sit on the same
tree, making startling splashes of colour against the sombre green of
the cedars. That the light blue may not have it all its own way, there
is the indigo bird as well, serving as a reminder of Oxford and
Harrow, and pretty little ground-doves, the smallest of the pigeon
family, as well as the "Chick-of-the-Village," a most engaging little
creature. Unfortunately some one was injudicious enough to import the
English house-sparrow: these detestable little birds, whose instincts
are purely mischievous and destructive, like all useless things, have
increased at an enormous rate, and are gradually driving the beautiful
native birds away. All these birds were wonderfully tame till the
hateful sparrows began molesting them. I am glad to say that a fine of
5 pounds is levied on any one killing or capturing a red or blue bird,
and I only wish that a reward were given for every sparrow killed. That
pleasant writer "Bartimaeus," has in his book _Unreality_ drawn a
very sympathetic picture of Bermuda under the transparent _alias_
of "Somer's Island." He, too, has obviously fallen a victim to its
charms, and duly comments on the blue birds, which Maeterlinck could
find here in any number without a lengthy and painstaking quest.

As a boy, whilst exploring rock-pools at low water on the west coast
of Scotland, I used to think longingly of the rock-pools in warm seas,
which I pictured to myself as perfect treasure-houses of marine
curiosities. They are most disappointing. Neither in Bermuda, nor in
the West Indies, nor even on the Cape Peninsula, where the Indian and
Atlantic Oceans meet, could I find anything whatever in the
rock-pools. To adopt the Sunday School child's word, there seem to be
no "tindamies" on the beaches of warm seas. Every one must have heard
of the little girl who got her first glimpse of the sea on a Sunday
School excursion. The child seemed terribly disappointed at something,
and in answer to her teacher's question, said that she liked the sea,
"but please where were the 'tindamies?' I was looking forward so to
the tindamies!" Pressed for an explanation the little girl repeated
from the Fourth Commandment, "In six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, the sea and all the tindamies." Tindamies is quite a convenient
word for star-fish, crabs, cuttle-fish and other flotsam and jetsam of
the beach.

The Sunday School child's mistake is rather akin to that of the old
Sussex shepherd who had never had a day's illness in his life. When at
last he did take to his bed, it was quite obvious that he would never
leave it again. The vicar of the parish visited him almost daily to
read to him. The old man always begged the clergyman to read him the
hymn, "The roseate hues of early dawn." At the tenth request for the
reading of this hymn the clergyman asked him what it was in the lines
that made such an appeal to him. "Ah, sir," answered the old shepherd,
"here I lie, and I know full well that I shall never get up again; but
when you reads me that beautiful 'ymn, I fancies myself on the downs
again at daybreak, and can just see 'Them rows of ewes at early
dawn'!"

Had the old shepherd lived in Bermuda instead of in Sussex, that is a
sight which he would never have seen, for the local grass, though it
appears green enough to the eye, is a coarse growth which crackles
under the feet and contains no nutriment whatever as pasture; so all
cows have to be fed on imported hay, rendering milk very costly. For
the same reason all meat and butter have to be imported, and their
price even in pre-war days was sufficiently staggering. The high cost
of living and the myriads of mosquitoes are the only draw-backs to
life in these Delectable Islands. That no systematic effort to
exterminate mosquitoes has ever been made in Bermuda is to me
incomprehensible, for these mosquitoes are all of the Stegomyia, or
yellow-fever-carrying variety. The Americans have shown, both in the
Canal Zone and in Havana, that with sufficient organisation it is
quite possible to extirpate these dangerous pests, and the Bermudians
could not do better than to follow their example.

Our soldier-gardeners at Government House had their own methods, and
were inclined to attach importance to points considered trivial by
civilians. The men were laying out a new vegetable garden for the
Governor, and I went with the corporal one evening to inspect
progress. The corporal, after glancing at the new-planted rows of
vegetables, shook his head in deep sadness. "'Arris, 'Arris, I'm
surprised at you! Look at the dressing of that there rear rank of
lettuces. Up with them all!" and I had to point out that the lettuces
would grow quite as well, and prove just as succulent, even should
they not happen to be in strict alignment, and that the dressing was
only important at a subsequent stage. I laid out a new border to the
approach for the Governor, with the help of four soldiers, and it was
really rather a successful piece of work. I began with a large group
of Kentia and Chamaeropes palms, after which came a patch of bright
yellow crotons, giving place to a thicket of a white-foliaged Mexican
shrub, followed by a mass of crimson and orange crotons and
copper-coloured coleus, which arrangement I repeated. What with
scarlet poinsettias, many-hued hibiscus, and the pretty native orange
pigeon-berry, I got quite an amount of colour into my border.

Pretty as are the gardens of Government House, they have to yield the
palm to those of Admiralty House, which have been carefully tended by
generations of admirals. Bartimaeus in _Unreality_ grows quite
enthusiastic over these gardens, though he does not mention their
three peculiarities. One is a fountain, the only one in the islands.
As there is not one drop of fresh water, this fountain has its own
catchment area, and its own special rain-water tank. My own idea is
that the Admiral reserves its playing for the visits of foreign naval
men, to delude them into the idea that Bermuda has an abundant water
supply. The second unusual feature is a series of large chambers hewn
out of the solid rock, with openings towards the sea. These caves were
cut out by convict labour as a refuge from the fierce heat of the
summer months. The third is a flat tombstone by the lawn-tennis
ground, inscribed "Here lies a British Midshipman 1810," nothing more;
no name, no age, no particulars. I have often wondered how that
forlorn, nameless, ageless midshipman came to be lying in the
Admiral's garden. He was probably drowned and washed ashore without
anything to identify him, so they buried him where they found him.

The particular white battalion quartered in Bermuda during my first
visit there was very fortunate in its ladies, for it had an unusual
proportion of married officers. I have the greatest admiration for
these plucky little women who accompany their husbands all over the
globe, and who always seem to manage, however narrow their means, to
create a cheerful and attractive little home for their menkind. They
all appeared able to dress themselves well, though, if the truth were
known, they were probably mostly their own dressmakers, and, owing to
the servant difficulty in Bermuda, their own cooks as well; they had
transformed their little white-washed houses into the most inviting
little dwellings, and in spite of having to do a great part of their
own housework, they always managed to look pretty and charming. The
average wife of the average officer of a Line regiment is a wonderful
little woman.

The supper-parties in the married officers' quarters at Prospect Camp
were the cheeriest entertainments I have ever been at. Every one had
to contribute something. My own culinary attainments being confined to
the preparation of three dishes, I was compelled to repeat them
monotonously. The subalterns were made to carry the dishes from the
kitchen, and to "wash-up" afterwards, yet I am sure that the average
London hostess would have envied the jollity, the fun and high spirits
that made those informal supper-parties so delightful, and would have
given anything to introduce some of this cheery atmosphere into her
own decorous and extremely dull entertainments, where the guests did
not have to cook their own dinners.

I gave a dinner-party at an hotel to eleven people, all officers or
officers' wives. The conversation turned on birthplaces, and the
answers given were so curious, that I wrote them all down. Not only
were all my guests soldiers and soldiers' wives, but they were nearly
all the sons and daughters of soldiers as well. One major had been
born at Cape Town; his very comely wife in Barbados. The other major
had been born at Meerut in India, his wife at Quebec, and her
unmarried sister in Mauritius; and so it was with all of them. Of
those twelve people of pure British blood, I was the only one who had
been born in England or in Europe; even the subaltern had been born in
Hong-Kong. I do not thing that stay-at-homes quite realise the
existence of this little world of people journeying from end to end of
the earth in the course of their duty, and taking it all as a matter
of course.

I regret that the Imperial West India Direct Line should now be
defunct, for this gave a monthly direct service between Bristol and
Bermuda, and I can conceive of no pleasanter winter quarters for those
desirous of escaping the rigours of an English January and February.
Ten days after leaving Bristol, ten days it must be confessed of
extremely angry seas, the ship dropped her anchor in Grassy Bay, and
the astonished arrival from England found ripe strawberries, new peas,
and new potatoes awaiting his good pleasure. No visitor could fail to
be delighted with the pretty, prosperous little island, and with its
genial and hospitable inhabitants. For Americans, too, the place was a
godsend, for in forty-eight hours they could escape from the extreme
and fickle climate of New York, and find themselves in warm sunshine,
tempered, it is true, by occasional downpours, for Nature, realising
that the inhabitants were dependent on the rainfall for their water
supply, did her best to avoid any shortage of this necessity of life.
Canadians had also a great liking for the islands, for not only were
they on their own soil there, but in sixty hours they could transport
themselves from the ice and snow of Montreal and Toronto to a climate
where roses and geraniums bloomed at Christmas, and where orange and
lemon trees and great wine-coloured drifts of Bougainvillaa mocked at
the futile efforts of winter to touch them. The Bishop of Bermuda, who
also included Newfoundland in his See, declared that climatically his
diocese was absolutely ideal, for he passed the six winter months in
Bermuda and the remainder of the year in Newfoundland, thus escaping
alike the rigorous winters of the northern island and the fierce
summer heat of the southern one. The Bishop himself was a
Newfoundlander, as were many of the Church of England clergy in
Bermuda. A humorous friend of mine, a sapper in charge of the
"wireless," shared to the full my liking for the islands and their
pleasant inhabitants, but positively detested Prospect Camp where he
was stationed. Prospect, though healthy enough, is wind-swept, very
dusty, and quite devoid of shade. He declared that the well-known hymn
should be altered, and ought to run:

  "What though the Ocean breezes
    Blow o'er Bermuda's isle;
  Where every man is pleasing
    And only Prospect vile."

Few people seem to realise that Bermuda is a first-class fortress, a
dockyard, and an important naval coaling-station. A glance at the map
will show its strategic importance. Nature has made it almost
inaccessible with barrier-reefs, and there is but one narrow and
difficult entrance off St. George's. This entrance is jealously
guarded by a heavy battery of 12 in. and 6 in. guns, and the ten-mile
long ship-channel inside the reefs from St. George's to the Dockyard
is very difficult and complicated, though I imagine that, with modern
guns, a ship could lie outside the reefs and shell the islands to
pieces.

The first time that I was in Bermuda, a German Training Squadron
arrived, with a number of naval cadets on board, and announced their
intention of remaining ten days. The German officers at once exhibited
a most un-Teutonic keenness about sea-fishing. The Governor, fully
alive to the advantage a possibly hostile power might reap from an
independent survey and charting of the tortuous and difficult
ship-channel between St. George's and the Dockyard, at once held a
consultation with the Senior Naval Officer, in the Admiral's absence,
and, as a result of this consultation, three naval petty officers were
detailed to show the Germans the best fishing-grounds. At the same
time naval patrol boats displayed a quite unusual activity inside the
reefs. Both patrol boats and petty officers had their private orders,
and I fancy that these steps resulted in very few soundings being
taken, and in the ship-channel remaining uncharted by our German
visitors. I was returning myself, after dark, in the ferry-boat plying
between the Dockyard and Hamilton, when there were four German
officers on the bridge. Imagining themselves secure in the general
ignorance of their language, they were openly noting the position of
the leading lights, as the little steamer threaded her way through the
smaller islands and "One rock" and "Two rock passage," and all these
observations were, I imagine, duly entered in their pocket-books after
landing. In conversation with the German officers I was much struck
with the essentially false ideas that they had with regard to the
position of the motherland and her dependencies. They seemed convinced
that every Dominion and dependency was merely waiting for the first
favourable opportunity to declare its complete independence, and they
hardly troubled to conceal their opinion that Britain was hopelessly
decadent, and would never be able to wage a campaign again. Bermuda,
in view of its wonderful strategic position, had, I am convinced, been
marked down as a future German possession, when they would have
endeavoured to make a second Heligoland of it.

Nowhere could a little population be found more loyal to the
motherland than in Bermuda, or prouder of its common heritage.

A friend of mine, a lady who had never left the islands, wrote some
lines which I thought so fine that I set them to music. Her words,
though, are so much better than my setting, that I will quote them in
full.

  THE SONG OF THE BERMUDIANS
  THE KEEPERS OF THE WESTERN GATE

  Queen of the Seas! Thou hast given us the Keys,
  Proudly do we hold them, we thy Children and akin,
    Though we be nor rich nor great,
    We will guard the Western Gate,
  And our lives shall pay the forfeit ere we let the foeman in.

  Empty are our hands, for we have nor wealth nor lands,
  No grain or gold to give thee, and so few a folk are we;
    Yet in very will and deed,
    We will serve thee at thy need,
  And keep thine ancient fortalice beyond the Western Sea.

  The sea is at our doors, and we front its fretted floors,
  Swept by every wind that listeth, ringed with reefs from rim to rim,
    Though we may not break its bars,
    Yet by light of sun or stars
  Our hearts are fain for England, and for her our eyes are dim.

  Sweet Mother, ponder this, lest thy favour we should miss;
  We, the loneliest and least of all thy peoples of the sea.
    With bared heads and proud
    We bless thy name aloud,
  For gift of lowly service, as we guard the gate for thee.

Those lines, to me, have a fine ring about them. The words, "In very
will and deed, We will serve thee at thy need," were not a mere empty
boast, as the splendid record of little Bermuda in the years of
trouble from 1914 to 1918 shows, when almost every man of military
age, whether white or coloured, voluntarily crossed the Atlantic to
help the motherland in her need; so let us wish all success to the
sun-kissed, cedar-clad little islands, and to their genial
inhabitants.




CHAPTER VIII

The demerits of the West Indies classified--The utter ruin of
St. Pierre--The Empress Josephine--A transplanted
brogue--Vampires--Lost in a virgin forest--Dictator-Presidents
--Castro and Rosas--The mentality of a South American--"The
Liberator"--The Basques and their national game--Love of English
people for foreign words--Yellow fever--Life on an Argentine
_estancia_--How cattle are worked--The lasso and the
"bolas"--Ostriches--Venomous toads--The youthful rough-rider--His
methods--Fuel difficulties--The vast plains--The wonderful bird-life.


Any one desirous of seeing an exceedingly beautiful, and comparatively
unknown, corner of the world, should take the fortnightly
Inter-colonial steamer from Trinidad, and make the voyage "up the
islands." The Lesser Antilles are very lovely, but there is something
rather melancholy about them, for they are obviously decaying in
prosperity; the white planters are abandoning them, and as the
coloured people take their place, externals all begin to assume a
shabby, unkempt appearance. I am speaking of the conditions anterior
to 1914; the great rise in the price of sugar since then may have
resulted in a back-wash of prosperity affecting both the Windward and
the Leeward Islands.

I should always myself classify the West India islands according to
their liability to, or immunity from, the various local drawbacks.
Thus Barbados, though within the hurricane zone, is outside the
earthquake zone, and is free from poisonous snakes. Trinidad, only 200
miles away, is outside the hurricane area, but is most distinctly
inside the earthquake zone, is prolific in venomous snakes and enjoys
the further advantage of being the home of the blood-sucking vampire
bat. Jamaica is liable to both hurricanes and earthquakes, but has no
poisonous snakes. St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Martinique are really
over-full of possibilities, for, in addition to a liability to
earthquakes and hurricanes, they each possess an active volcano, and
Martinique and St. Lucia are the habitat of the dreaded and deadly
Fer-de-Lance snake.

The Administrator of St. Vincent had been good enough to ask me to
dinner by telegram. The steamer reached St. Vincent after dark, and it
was a curious experience landing on an unknown island in a tailcoat
and white tie, driving for two miles, and then tumbling into a
dinner-party of sixteen white people, not one of whom one had ever
seen before, or was ever likely to meet again. It was as though one
had been dropped by an aeroplane into an unknown land, and when the
steamer sailed again before midnight, it was all as though it had
never been. The orchids on that dinner-table were very remarkable, for
orchid-growing was the Administrator's hobby. He grafted his orchids
on to orange trees, and so obtained enormous growths. We measured some
of the flower-sprays, the biggest being nine feet long. As they were
brown and yellow Oncidiums, they were more curious than beautiful.

The appalling desolation of St. Pierre, in the French island of
Martinique, cannot be imagined without having been seen. Of a very
handsome city of 40,000 inhabitants there is absolutely nothing left
except one gable of the cathedral. There is no trace of a town having
ever existed here, for the poisonous manchineel tree has spread itself
over the ruins, and it is difficult to realise that twenty years ago
the pride of the French West Indies stood here. The rich merchants and
planters of St. Pierre had all made their homes in the valley of the
little river Roxelana. After the sides of Mont Pele had gaped apart
and hurled their white-hot whirlwind of fire over the doomed town on
that fatal May 8, 1902--a fiery whirlwind which calcined every human
being and every building in the town in less than one minute--molten
lava poured into the valley of the Roxelana until it filled it up
entirely, burying houses, gardens and plantations alike. There is no
trace even of a valley now, and the stream makes its way underground
to the sea. Napoleon the Great's first wife, Josephine de la Pagerie,
was a native of Martinique and retained all her life the curious
indolence of the Creole. Her gross extravagance and her love of luxury
may also have been due to her Creole blood. Her first husband, of
course, had been the Vicomte de Beauharnais, and her daughter,
Hortense de Beauharnais, married Napoleon's brother, Louis, King of
Holland. This complicated relationships, for Queen Hortense's son,
Louis Napoleon, afterwards Napoleon III., was thus at the same time
nephew and step-grandson of Napoleon I. M. Filon, in his most
interesting study of the Empress Eugenie, points out that Napoleon
III. showed his Creole blood in his constant chilliness. He chose as
his private apartments at the Tuileries a set of small rooms on the
ground floor, as these could be more easily heated up to the
temperature he liked. According to M. Filon, Napoleon III. shortened
his life by persisting in remaining so much in what he describes as
"those over-gilt, over-heated, air-tight little boxes."

The well-known greenhouse climbing plant lapageria, with its waxy
white or crimson trumpets of flowers, owes its name to Josephine de la
Pagerie, for on its first introduction into France it was called La
Pageria in her honour, though with the English pronunciation of the
name the connection is not at first obvious.

It is not so generally known that Madame de Maintenon, as Francoise
d'Aubigne, spent all her girlhood in Martinique.

The coloured women of Martinique have apparently absorbed, thanks to
their two hundred years' association with the French, something of
that innate good taste which seems the birthright of most French
people, and they show this in their very individual and becoming
costumes. The Martinique negress is, as a rule, a handsome
bronze-coloured creature, and she wears a full-skirted, flowing dress
of flowered chintz or cretonne, with a _fichu_ of some
contrasting colour over her breast. She hides her woolly locks under
an ample turban of two shades, one of which will exactly match her
_fichu_, whilst the other will either correspond to or contrast
with the colour of her chintz dress, thus producing what the French
term "une gamme de couleur," most pleasing to the eye, and with never
a false note in it. Beside these comely, amply breasted bronze
statues, the British West Indian negress, with her absurd travesty of
European fashions, and her grotesque hats, cuts, I am bound to say, a
very poor figure indeed.

The flourishing little island of Montserrat has one peculiarity. The
negroes all speak with the strongest of Irish brogues. Cromwell
deported to Montserrat many of the "Malignants" from the West of
Ireland, who acquired negro slaves to cultivate their sugar and
cotton. These negroes naturally learnt English in the fashion in which
their masters spoke it. The white men have gone; the brogue remains. I
was much amused on going ashore in the Administrator's whaleboat, he
being an old acquaintance from the Co. Tyrone, to hear his jet-black
coxswain remark, "'Tis the lee side I will be going, sorr, the way
your Honour will not be getting wet, for them back-seas are mighty
throublesome." This in Montserrat was unexpected.

There is a curious uninhabited rock lying amongst the Virgin Islands.
It is quite square and box-like in shape, and is known as "The Dead
Man's Chest." Before seeing it I had always thought that the eternal
chant of the old pirate at the "Admiral Benbow," in _Treasure Island_:

  "Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest,
  Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

referred literally to a seaman's chest, though reflection might have
shown that one chest would afford rather scanty seating-ground for
fifteen men.

At Nevis, the curious can see in Fig Tree Church the register
attesting the marriage of "Horatio Nelson, Captain of H.M.S.
_Boreas_, to Frances Nisbet, widow," on March 11, 1789. William
IV., at that time Duke of Clarence, was Nelson's best man on that
occasion.

Nevis possesses powerful hot mineral springs, and a hundred years ago
and more was the great health resort of white people in the West
Indies. Here the planters endeavoured to get their torpid livers into
working order again, and the local boast was that for every pearl
necklace and pair of diamond shoe-buckles to be seen at the English
Bath, there were three to be seen in Nevis. To add to its attractions
it was asserted that the drinking, gambling, and duelling in Nevis
left Bath completely in the shade.

Though one was constantly hearing of diminishing trade in the Lesser
Antilles, certain questions kept suggesting themselves to me. For
instance, in islands abounding in water power, why ship copra in bulk
to England or the United States, instead of crushing it locally and
exporting the oil, which would occupy one-tenth of the cargo-space?
Why, in an island producing both oranges and sugar, ship them
separately to Europe to be made into marmalade, instead of
manufacturing it on the spot? The invariable answer to these queries
was "lack of capital"; no one seemed to guess that lack of enterprise
might be a contributory cause as well.

I have alluded to the vampire bat of Trinidad. Six weeks before my
arrival there, the Governor's aide-de-camp had most imprudently slept
without lowering his mosquito curtains. He awoke to find himself
drenched in blood, for a vampire bat had opened a vein, drunk his
fill, and then flown off leaving the wound open. The doctor had to
apply the actual cautery to stop the bleeding, and six weeks
afterwards the unfortunate aide-de-camp was still as white as a sheet
of paper from loss of blood. At Government House, Port-of-Spain, there
is a very lofty entrance-hall, bright with electric light. The
vampires constantly flew in here, to become helpless at once in the
glare of light, when they could be easily killed with a stick. The
vampire is a small, sooty-black bat with a perfectly diabolical little
face. An ordinary mosquito net is quite sufficient protection against
them, or, to persons who do not mind a light in their room, a lamp
burning all night is an absolute safeguard against their attacks.
Every stable in Trinidad has a lighted lamp burning all night in it,
and those who can afford them, drop wire-gauze curtains over their
horses' stalls as a protection against vampires.

The Trinidad negro being naturally an indolent creature, all the
boatmen and cab-drivers in Port-of-Spain are Barbadians. As we know,
the Badians have an inordinate opinion of themselves and of their
island. Whilst I was in Trinidad, General Baden-Powell came there in
the course of his world-tour inspection of Boy Scouts. On the day of
General Baden-Powell's arrival, all the Badian boatmen and cab-drivers
struck work, and the vampire-bitten aide-de-camp, who was in the town,
met serried phalanxes of dark faces hurrying to the landing-stage. On
asking a Badian what the excitement was about, the negro answered with
infinite hauteur.

"You ask me dat, sir? You not know dat our great countryman General
_Badian_-Powell arrive to-day, so we all go welcome him."

Charles Kingsley in _At Last_ goes into rhapsodies over the "High
Woods" of Trinidad. I confess that I was terribly disappointed in
them. They are too trim and well-kept; the Forestry department has
done its work too well. There are broad green rides cut through them,
reminiscent of covers in an English park, but certainly not suggestive
of a virgin forest. One almost expects to hear the beaters' sticks
rattling in them, and I did not think that they could compare with the
splendid virgin forests of Brazil.

I was in Brazil just thirty years ago with Patrick Lyon, brother of
the present Lord Strathmore. We were staying at Petropolis, and Lyon,
fired by my accounts of these virgin forests, declared that he must
see one for himself. He had heard that the forests extended to within
three miles of Petropolis, and at once went to hire two horses for us
to ride out there. There were no horses to be had in the place, but so
determined was Lyon to see these untrodden wilds, that he insisted on
our doing the three miles on foot, then and there. It was the height
of the Brazilian summer, and the heat was something appalling. We
struggled over three miles of a glaring white shadeless road, grilled
alive by the sun, but always comforting ourselves by dwelling on the
cool shades awaiting us at the end of our journey. At length we
reached the forest, and wandered into a green twilight under the dense
canopy of leaves, which formed an unbroken roof a hundred feet over
our heads. With "green twilight" the obvious epithet should be "cool";
that is exactly what it was not, for if the green canopy shut out the
sun, it also shut out the air, and the heat in that natural leafy
cathedral was absolutely overpowering. We wandered on and on, till I
began to grow giddy and faint with the heat. I asked Lyon how he was
feeling, and he owned that the heat had affected him too, so we sat
down on a rock to recuperate.

"It is a solemn thought," observed Lyon, after a long silence, "that
we are perhaps the first human beings to have set foot in this forest.
We simply must pull ourselves together, for it might be months before
any one passed here, and you know what that means." I assented
gloomily, as I formed melancholy mental pictures of ourselves as two
mature Babes-in-the-Wood, speculating whether, in the event of our
demise in these untrodden wilds, any Brazilian birds, brilliant of
plumage but kindly of heart, would cover us up with leaves. These
great forest tracts were producing an awe-inspiring effect on us as we
realised our precarious position, when we suddenly heard Toot! toot!
toot! and to our inexpressible amazement we saw a tramcar approaching
us through the trees. The car came within twenty feet of us, for the
track had been quite hidden by some rising ground; we hailed it, and
returned to Petropolis prosaically seated on the front bench of a
tramcar. We afterwards found that the untrodden wilds of our virgin
forest were traversed by a regular hourly service of tramcars; alas
for vanished illusions!

There is a street in Port-of-Spain which used to be known as the
"Calle de los Presidentes," or Presidents' Street, for it was here
that fugitive Presidents of Venezuela were wont to take refuge when
the political atmosphere of that republic grew uncomfortable for them.
Most of these gentlemen thoughtfully brought with them as much of the
national till as they were able to lay their hands on, to comfort them
in their exile. Spanish-American republics seem to produce
Dictator-Presidents very freely. When I was in Venezuela in 1907
Cipriano Castro had grasped supreme power, and governed the country as
an autocrat. Castro, who was an uneducated half-caste, ruled by
corruption and terror; he repudiated all the national obligations,
quarrelled with the United States and with every European Power, and
disposed of his political opponents by the simple expedient of placing
them against a wall with a file of soldiers with loaded rifles in
front of them. For eight years this ignorant, bloodthirsty savage
enjoyed absolute power, until he was forced in 1908 to flee to Europe.
I do not know whether he followed the national custom by taking most
of the exchequer with him. A typical sample of Castro's administrative
powers was to be seen at La Guayra, the wretched, poverty-stricken
seaport of Caracas. Dominating the squalid little place was a huge and
imposing fort with heavy guns, over which the gaudy Venezuelan
tricolour of yellow, blue, and red fluttered bravely. This fort was an
elaborate sham, built of coloured plaster, and the guns were of
painted wood only; but Castro thought that it was calculated to
frighten the foreigner, and it possibly flattered the national vanity
as well.

A most remarkable example of a Dictator-Tyrant was Juan Rosas, who,
for seventeen years, from 1835 to 1852, ruled the Argentine Republic
as an unchallenged despot. Rosas was born in 1793, and began life as a
gaucho. He seized supreme power in 1835, and is credited with having
put twenty-five thousand people to death. The "Nero of South America"
was ably backed-up by his seconds-in-command, Oribe and Urquiza, two
most consummate scoundrels. Whether Rosas "saw red," as others since
his day have done, or whether it was the play on his own name which
pleased him, I cannot say, but he had a perfect mania for the colour
red. He dressed all his troops in scarlet ponchos, and ordered every
male inhabitant of Buenos Ayres who wore a coat at all, to wear a
scarlet waistcoat, whilst all ladies were bidden to wear a knot of
scarlet ribbon and to carry a red fan. In the Dictator's own house at
Palermo all the carpets and stuffs were scarlet. An elderly lady in
Buenos Ayres, who remembered Rosas' dictatorship perfectly, showed me
some of the scarlet fans, specially made in Spain for the Argentine
market after Rosas had promulgated his edict. My friend described to
me how Rosas placed several of his rough police at the doors of every
church, and any lady who did not exhibit the obligatory red bow on her
black dress (in Spanish-speaking countries the women always go to Mass
in black), received a dab of pitch on her cheek, on to which the
policeman clapped a rosette of red paper. She told it all so
graphically that I could almost see the stream of frightened,
black-clad women issuing from the church, whilst their husbands and
lovers stood expectantly below (South American men rarely enter a
church), every man-jack of them with a scarlet waistcoat, like a flock
of swarthy robin redbreasts. I have seen some of these waistcoats; the
young bloods wore scarlet silk, the older men red cloth. Rosas, like a
mediaeval monarch, had his court fool or jester, a dwarf known as Don
Eusebio. Rosas dressed him in scarlet and gave him the rank of a
general, with a scarlet-clad bodyguard, and woe betide any one who
treated the Dictator's fool with scant respect. Rosas was undoubtedly
as mad as Bedlam, but he was an abominably bloodthirsty madman who
successfully exterminated all his opponents. The Dictator was
accessible to every one at his house at Palermo, and the marvel is
that he managed to escape assassination. His enormities became so
intolerable that in 1852 the Brazilians and Uruguayans invaded the
Argentine, and at the critical moment General Urquiza, Rosas' trusted
second-in-command, betrayed him and went over to the enemy, so the
Dictator's power was broken.

Rosas took refuge in the British Legation, and for some reason which I
have never fathomed, he was shipped to England on H.M.S. _Locust_.
He settled down at Swaythling near Southampton, where he died in 1877
after twenty-five years peaceful residence. He was a peculiarly
bloodthirsty scoundrel.

Some of these Spanish-American dictators have been beneficent despots,
such as Jose Francia, who, upon Paraguay proclaiming her independence
in 1811, got elected President, and soon afterwards managed to secure
his nomination as Dictator for life. He ruled Paraguay autocratically
but well until his death in 1840, and the country prospered under him.
Under the iron rule of Porfirio Diaz, from 1877 to 1911, Mexico
enjoyed the only period of comparative calm that turbulent country has
known in recent years, and made continued economic progress.

I think that a Latin-American's only abstract idea of government is a
despotic one. They do not trouble much about the _substance_ as
long as they have the _shadow_, and provided that the national
arms display prominently a "Cap of Liberty," and mottoes of "Libertad
y Progreso" are sufficiently flaunted about, he does not bother much
about the absence of such trifles as trial by jury, or worry his head
over the venality and tyranny of officials, the "faking" of elections,
or the disregard of the President of the day for the constitutional
limitations imposed upon his office. Do not the national arms and
motto proclaim that his country stands in the van of Liberty and
Progress, and what more could any one want? Some of the coats-of-arms
of Spanish-American republics and states would give an official of the
College of Arms an apoplectic fit, for "colour" is unblushingly
displayed on "colour" and "metal" upon "metal" in defiance of every
recognised rule of heraldry.

The first time that I was in Buenos Ayres a very pleasant young
English civil engineer begged me to visit the family with whom he was
boarding, assuring me that I should find the most amusing nest of
cranks there. These people had come originally from the Pacific Coast,
I cannot recall whether from Bolivia or Ecuador. As their
revolutionary tendencies and their constant efforts to overthrow the
Government had rendered their native country too hot to hold them,
they had drifted through Peru to Chili, and had wandered across the
continent to Buenos Ayres, where the details connected with the
running of a boarding-house had left them with but little time for
putting their subversive tendencies into practice. Amongst their
paying guests was an elderly man from the country of their origin, who
twenty-five years earlier had so disapproved of the particular
President elected to rule his native land, that he had shown his
resentment by attempting to assassinate him. Being, however, but an
indifferent shot with a revolver, he had merely wounded the President
in the arm. He had somehow managed to escape from Bolivia, or Ecuador,
and ultimately made his way to Buenos Ayres, where he was warmly
welcomed in revolutionary circles; and his defective marksmanship
being overlooked, the will was taken for the deed, and he was always
alluded to as "El Libertador," or "The Liberator." I accompanied the
young engineer to his boarding-house one evening, where I met the most
extraordinary collection of people. Every one was talking at once, and
all of them at the very top of their voices, so it was impossible to
follow what was being said, but I have no doubt that their opinions
were all sufficiently "enlightened" and "advanced." "The Liberator"
sat apart in an arm-chair, his patriarchal white beard streaming over
his chest, and was treated with immense deference by every one
present. At intervals during the evening glasses of Guinness' bottled
stout were offered to the Liberator (and to no one else), this being a
beverage of which most South Americans are inordinately fond. I was
duly introduced to the Liberator, who received my advances with
affability tempered with haughtiness. I flattered myself that I had
made a very favourable impression on him, but I learnt afterwards that
the old gentleman was deeply offended with me, for, on being
introduced to him, I had assured him that it was a pleasure to meet
"so distinguished a _man_" (un _hombre_ tan distinguido), whereas I
should have said "so distinguished a _gentleman_" (un _caballero_ tan
distinguido), a curious point for so ardent a democrat to boggle over.

No stranger in Buenos Ayres should omit a visit to the Plaza Euskara
on a Sunday.

The Plaza Euskara is the great court where the Basques play their
national game of "pelota." Euskara is the term used by the Basques
themselves for their mysterious language, a language with no affinity
to any European tongue, and so difficult that it is popularly supposed
that the Devil, after spending seven fruitless years in endeavouring
to master it, gave up the attempt in despair. "Pelota" is the father
of racquets and fives, and is an immemorially old game, going back, it
is said, to the times of the Romans. Instead of using a racquet, it is
played with a curved wicker basket strapped on to the right wrist.
This basket is not unlike in shape to those wicker-work covers which
in pre-taxi days were placed by London hotel porters over the wheels
of hansom-cabs to protect ladies' dresses in getting in or out of
them. When a back-handed stroke is necessary, the player grasps his
right wrist with his left hand, using his wicker-encased right hand as
a racquet. The court is nearly three times the length of a
racquet-court, and is always open to the air. There is a back wall and
a wall on the left-hand side; the other two sides are open and filled
with spectators. The players are marvellously adroit, and get up balls
which seem quite impossible to return; they are all professionals, for
the game is so difficult that it must be learnt in early boyhood. It
is scored like racquets up to fifteen points, one side invariably
wearing blue "berets" and sashes, the other red. Large red and blue
dials mark the points on the end wall as they are scored.

On Sundays and holidays the Plaza Euskara is a wonderful sight, with
its thousands of spectators, all worked up to a pitch of intense
excitement. The betting is tremendous, and fat wads of dollar bills
are produced from the shabbiest of coats, whose owners one would
hardly associate with such an amount of portable wealth. The three
umpires sit together on a sort of rostrum, each one crowned with the
national Basque "beret." Points are being continually referred to
their decision, amidst the shouts and yells of the excited partisans.
Every time the three umpires stand up, remove their berets, and make
low bows to each other; they then confer in whispers, and having
reached a decision, they again stand up bareheaded, repeat their bows,
and then announce their verdict to the public. Pelota is certainly a
most interesting game to watch, owing to the uncanny skill of the
players. Invariably in the course of the afternoon there is one match
in which the little apprentices take part, either with their masters
as partners, or entirely amongst themselves.

I have used the Spanish word "pelota," but it merely means "ball,"
just as the Russian word "soviet" means nothing in the world but
"council." English people who refuse to take the trouble to learn any
foreign language, seem to love using these words; they have all the
glamour of the unfamiliar and unknown about them. Personally, it
always seemed to me very foolish using the term "Kaiser" to describe
the ex-Emperor William. Certainly any dictionary will tell one that
Kaiser is the German equivalent for Emperor, but as we happen to speak
English I fail to see why we should use the German term. Equally,
Konig is the German for King, and yet I never recollect any one
alluding to the Konig of Saxony. Some people seem to imagine that the
title "Kaiser" was a personal attribute of William of Hohenzollern; it
was nothing of the sort. Should any one have been entitled to the
term, it would have been the Hapsburg Emperor, the lineal descendant
of the "Heiliger Romischer Kaiser," and yet one used to read such
ridiculous headings as "Kaiser meets Austrian Emperor." What did the
writers of this imagine that Franz-Josef was called by his subjects?
The meaningless practice only originated in England with William II.'s
accession; it was unheard of before. If English people had any idea
that "Rey" was the Spanish for King, I am sure that on King Alfonso's
next visit to England we should see flaring headlines announcing the
"Arrival of the Rey in London," and in the extraordinarily unlikely
event of the Queen of Sweden ever wishing to pay a visit to this
country, any one with a Swedish dictionary could really compose a
brilliant headline, "The Drottning drives despondently down Downing
Street," and I confess that neither of them seem one whit more foolish
than for English-speaking people to use the term Kaiser. The label may
be a convenient one, but it is inaccurate, for there was not one
Kaiser but two.

The familiar, when wrapped in all the majesty of a foreign tongue, can
be very imposing. Some little time back a brother of mine laid out a
new rock-garden at his house in the country. The next year a neighbour
wrote saying that he would be very grateful should my brother be able
to supply him with any of his superfluous rock-plants. My brother
answered, regretting his inability to accede to this request, as,
owing to the dry spring, his rock-garden had failed absolutely, in
fact the only growth visible in it consisted of several hundred
specimens of the showy yellow blooms of the "Leo Elegans." Much
impressed with this sonorous appellation, his correspondent begged for
a few roots of "Leo Elegans." My brother, in his reply, pointed out
that the common dandelion was hardly a sufficient rarity to warrant
its being transplanted.

I went out a second time to the Argentine Republic with Patrick Lyon,
to whom I have already alluded, in order to place a young relative of
his as premium-pupil on an English-owned ranche, or estancia, as it is
locally called. We had an extremely unpleasant voyage out, for at Rio
Janeiro we were unfortunate enough to get yellow fever into the ship,
and we had five deaths on board. I myself was attacked by the fever,
but in its very mildest form, and I was the only one to recover; all
the other victims of the yellow scourge died, and I attribute my own
escape to the heroic remedy administered to me with my own consent by
the ship's doctor. Although Buenos Ayres is quite out of the
yellow-fever zone, the disease has occasionally been brought there
from Brazil, and to Argentines the words "yellow fever" are words of
terror, for in the early "seventies" the population of Buenos Ayres
was more than decimated by a fearful epidemic of the scourge. Our ship
was at once ordered back to Brazil, and was not allowed to discharge
one single ounce of her cargo, which must have entailed a very heavy
financial loss on the R.M.S.P. Company. We unfortunate passengers had
to undergo twenty-one days rigorous quarantine, during which we were
allowed no communication whatever with the outside world, and were in
addition mulcted of the exorbitant sum of 3 pounds a day for very
indifferent board and accommodation.

Having reached the estancia and placed our pupil on it, we liked the
place so well that we made arrangements to stay there for six weeks at
least, thus getting a very good idea of its daily life. The province
of Buenos Ayres is one great featureless, treeless, dead-flat plain,
and being all an alluvial deposit, it contains neither a pebble in the
soil nor a single spring of water. Water is found everywhere at a
depth of six or seven feet, and this great level extends for a
thousand miles. Where its undoubted fascination comes in is hard to
say, yet I defy any one not to respond to it. It is probably due to
the sense of limitless space, and to a feeling of immense freedom, the
latter being physical and not political. The only indigenous tree is
the ombu, and the ombu makes itself conspicuous by its rarity. Nature
must have fashioned this tree with her tongue in cheek, for the wood
is a mere pith, and a walking-stick can be driven right into the tree.
Not only is the wood useless as timber, but it is equally valueless as
fuel, for the pith rots before it can be dried. The leaves are
poisonous, and in spite of its being mere pith, it is one of the
slowest-growing trees known, so that, take it all round, the solitary
indigenous tree of Buenos Ayres is about the most useless arboreal
product that could be imagined. The ombu is a handsome tree to the
eye, not unlike an English walnut in its habit of growth, and it has
the one merit of being a splendid shade-tree. During the last forty
years, poplars, willows and eucalyptus have been lavishly planted
round the estancia houses, so any green or dusky patch of trees
breaking the bare expanse of dun-coloured plain is an unfailing sign
of human habitation.

The manager and the premium-pupils on our estancia all breakfasted
before six, and then went out to the horse-corral to catch their
horses for the day's work. They were obliging enough to catch horses,
too, for myself and Lyon, which we duly found tied up to a tree when
we made our later appearance. Let us suppose an order for fifty
bullocks to have come from Buenos Ayres. The manager with the three
pupils and some ten mounted gauchos would ride off to the selected
enclosure, and run his eye over the "mob" of cattle. Having selected
six beasts, he would point them out to the gauchos, and then pick out
two for himself and his younger brother. Shaking his reins, and
calling out "_Ico! Ico!_" to his horse, he would ride up to the
doomed beast, and endeavour to cut him out from the herd. The horse,
who understood and enjoyed the game as well as the man on his back,
once he had distinguished the bullock they were riding down, needed no
stimulant of whip, but would follow him of his own accord, twisting
and doubling like a retriever after a wounded hare, or a terrier after
a rat. Once the animal was cut out of the herd, the manager would
uncoil his lasso, one end of which was made fast to the cinch-ring of
his girths, and out flew the looped coil of rope with unerring
straightness, catching the bullock round the horns. The intelligent
horse, having played the game many times before, steadied himself for
the shock which experience had taught him to expect when he would feel
the whole weight of the galloping bullock suddenly arrested in his
rush for freedom tugging at his cinch-ring. The gauchos had also
secured their beasts in the same way, and the process was continued
until the fifty bullocks had been securely corralled, blissfully
unconscious that this was the first stage of their ultimate
transformation into roast beef, or _filets de boeuf a la Bordelaise_.

Though Lyon and I never attempted to use the lasso, we often joined in
riding a beast down, and the horses, after they had once identified
the particular beast they were to follow, turned and twisted with such
unexpected suddenness that they nearly shot us both out of the saddle
a dozen times. None of the pupils were yet able to use the lasso with
certainty, though they spent hours in practising at a row of bullocks'
skulls in the corral. In time a foreigner can learn to throw the lasso
with all the skill of a born Argentine, but the use of the "bolas" is
an art that must be acquired in childhood. I used to see some of the
gauchos' children, little fellows of five or six, practising on the
fowls with miniature toy bolas made of string, and they usually hit
their mark. The bolas consist of pieces of raw hide shaped like the
letter Y; at the extremities are two heavy lead balls, whilst at the
base of the Y is a wooden ball which is held in the hand. The operator
whirls the bolas round his head, and sends them flying at the
objective with unfailing certainty, and the animal "emboladoed" drops
as though shot through the head. I have seen these used on "outside
camps," but on a well-managed estancia, such as Espartillar, the use
of the bolas is strictly prohibited, since it tends to break the
animal's leg. The only time I ever saw them employed there, was
against a peculiarly aggressive male ostrich, who attacked all
intruders into his particular domain with the utmost ferocity. The
bird fell like a dead thing, and he assumed a very chastened demeanour
after this lesson. The South American ostrich, the Rhea, though
smaller and less dangerous than his big African cousin, can be most
pugnacious when he is rearing a family of young chicks. I advisedly
say "he," for the hen ostrich, once she has hatched her eggs,
considers all her domestic obligations fulfilled, and disappears to
have a good gossip with her lady friends, leaving to her husband the
task of attending to the young brood. The male bird is really
dangerous at this time, for his forward kick is terrifically powerful.
The ostrich can run faster than any horse, but it is quite easy to
circumvent any charging bird. All that is necessary is to turn one's
horse quickly at right angles; the ostrich has such way on him that he
is unable to pull up, and goes tearing on a hundred yards beyond his
objective before he can change his direction. This manoeuvre repeated
two or three times leaves the bird discomfited; as they would say in
Ireland, "You have him beat." I confess that I have never seen an
ostrich bury his head in the sand to blind himself to any impending
danger, as he is traditionally supposed to do; I fancy that this is a
libel on a fairly sagacious bird, and that in reality the practice is
entirely confined to politicians.

The Argentine Republic is peculiar in possessing a venomous toad,
equipped like a snake with regular poison-glands and fangs. He is
known in the vernacular as escuerzo, and is rather a handsome
creature, wearing a green black-striped coat. I am told by learned
people that he is not a true toad, that his proper name is
_Ceratophrys ornata_, and that he is a cannibal, feeding on
harmless frogs and toads which he kills with his poison-fangs. There
was a plentiful supply of these creatures at Espartillar, and the
pupils, when they found an escuerzo, loved to tease him with a stick.
He is probably the worse-tempered and most irritable batrachian known,
and when prodded with a stick would puff himself out, and work himself
into a hideous passion. Every one went about high-booted, and possibly
his fangs were not powerful enough to penetrate a boot, but, anyhow,
he never made the attempt; he tried to snap at the hands instead, and
as he could only jump up a foot or so, he continued making a series of
abortive little leaps, each futile attempt at reaching his aggressor's
hands adding to the creature's insane rage. When the escuerzo was
beside himself with fury, the pupil would dip his stick into the oily
residue of his pipe, and hold it out to the toad, who would fasten on
to it like a mad creature, only to die in a few seconds of the
nicotine.

The only other venomous reptile was the _Vibora de la Cruz_, the
"Viper with the Cross," much dreaded by the gauchos.

It is an interesting sight seeing wild young horses being broken-in,
and receiving their first instruction in the service of man. The
rough-rider at Espartillar was a younger brother of the manager's, a
short, sturdy, round-faced, grinning Cornish lad of eighteen, a youth
of large appetite, but of few words, universally known as "The Joven,"
which merely means "the lad." "Joven," by the way, is pronounced
"Hoven," with a slight guttural sound before the "H." The Joven,
having met with no serious accidents during the two years he had
officiated as roughrider, had kept his nerve, and was still young
enough to enjoy his hazardous duties most thoroughly.

He always had a large gallery of spectators, for every one on the
estancia who could manage it trooped to the corral to criticise and to
pass judgment. The sun-browned Joven, who preferred riding without
stirrups, would appear, stripped to his drawers and vest, shod with
canvas _alpargates_, with a _revenque_, or short raw-hide whip, in his
hand. A young horse, who had hitherto run wild, would be let in and
lassoed, with a second lasso thrown over his hind legs. Before
tightening the lassoes the men threw a _recado_, or soft leather saddle
on him, the Joven tugging at the string-girths until the unfortunate
grass-fed animal looked like a wasp. The lassoes were tautened, and the
youngster thrown over on his side. The Joven, grinning cheerfully, then
forced a thong of raw hide into his unwilling pupil's mouth, whilst the
young horse, half-mad with terror, rolled his eyes impotently. The
Joven, standing astride over the fallen animal, half-dancing on his
toes in his canvas shoes, would shout to the men to slacken the heel-
rope, and then to let go the head-rope. As the terrified animal
struggled to his feet, the Joven slipped nimbly on to the _recado_.
Then came a brief pause, as the horse puzzled over the unaccustomed
weight on his back, and those abominable girths that were cutting him
in two, till, with his head between his knees, and his back arched like
a bow, up he went vertically into the air, landing on all four feet.
That irksome weight was still there, and he had received a sharp cut
with some unknown instrument, but it might be worth while trying it
again. So up he went a second time, the Joven grinning from ear to ear,
but sitting like a rock, then, as it was as well to teach a young horse
that bucking entailed punishment, the _revenque_ descended smartly two
or three times, and a _revenque_ hurts. The puzzled youngster did
not like it, and thought that he would try rolling for a change. The
Joven slipped off with the dexterity of an acrobat, and dancing about
on his toes, chose his moment, and was again on the horse's back as he
rose. Then came a real contest and trial of skill between the
four-legged and two-legged youngsters, as the horse began kicking
furiously, and then reared, but do what he would that tiresome weight
was still on his back, and there was an unaccustomed pressure on his
sides. The Joven, his sun-baked round face wreathed in grins, as
though he were having the time of his life, was now using his
_revenque_ in earnest, and the young horse decided that he would
prefer to try a gallop at full speed. Off he went like an arrow from a
bow, the Joven dexterously guiding him through the entrance to the
corral, partly with the thong of raw hide, in part with light strokes
of the _revenque_ on the side of the head, and they disappeared
in a dense cloud of dust over the limitless "camp." A quarter of an
hour later they reappeared, the horse cantering quietly, and the boy,
still grinning like a Cheshire cat, sitting quite loosely, with his
legs dangling, as though he were in an arm-chair. The Joven slid to
the ground, and commenced talking to the horse in Spanish, as he
stroked his head. "_Pingo! Pingo!_" he cried, as he stroked him,
the word _Pingo_ being supposed in the Argentine, for some
unknown reason, to exercise a magically soothing influence over a
horse, and then, removing the raw-hide thong from the youngster's
mouth, he unsaddled him and turned him loose with a resounding smack
on his quarters, leaving him to meditate on the awful things that may
befall a young horse when he attempts to misbehave. The light-hearted
Joven, dripping with perspiration, wiped the sweat from his eyes, and,
with unabated cheerfulness, took stock of the second animal he was to
school, for he was to give three lessons that morning. When they were
over, the youth's own mother would not have known him, so caked with
dust and perspiration was he. He made his way to the swimming-bath,
still cheerful and smiling, determined not to miss the midday meal by
one second, for, like all the heroines of Mr. E. F. Benson's novels,
the eighteen-year-old Joven was afflicted with a perpetual voracious
hunger. When I complimented him at dinner on his very skilful
performance, the Joven, being in a loquacious mood, said, after a
pause for thought, "Oh, yes," beamed with friendliness, and promptly
devoured another plateful of beef. I asked him whether he never
regretted the quiet of his father's Cornish farm, in view of the
strenuous exertions his duties as rough-rider at Espartillar imposed
on him. The Joven knocked out his pipe, lit another, thought for five
minutes, and then said, "No, it's fun," displaying every tooth in his
head as he did so as a proof that his conversational brevity was due
not to a surly disposition, but to the limitations of his vocabulary.

The pupils at Espartillar were exceedingly well treated. The house was
most comfortably furnished, and contained a full-sized English
billiard-table, two pianos, a plentiful supply of books, and a barrel-
organ, for this was many years before the birth of the gramophone. It
is the singular custom on most estancias to kill beef for six months
of the year, and mutton for the remaining six, which entails a certain
monotony of diet. We had fallen in for the beef-eating half-year, but
the French wife of the English estancia-carpenter officiated as cook,
and she had all the culinary genius of her countrywomen. Above all she
avoided those twin abominations "Ajo" and "Aji," or garlic and green
chilli, which Argentines cram into every dish, thus making them
hideously unpalatable to Northern Europeans.

In an absolutely treeless land, without any coal measures, fuel is one
of the greatest difficulties of camp life. In my time, in the city of
Buenos Ayres, all the coal came from England, and cost, delivered, 5
pounds a ton. Its cost in the country, hauled for perhaps twenty miles
over the roadless camp, would be prohibitive, and there was no wood to
be had. For this reason, on every estancia there were some ten acres
planted with peach trees. It seems horribly wasteful to cut down peach
trees for fuel, but they grow very rapidly, burn admirably, and whilst
they are standing the owner gets an unlimited supply of peaches for
pickling and preserving. The soil of the Argentine suits peaches, and
both sorts, the pink-fleshed European "free-stone" and the American
yellow-fleshed "cling-stone," do splendidly. In Spanish, the former
are called _melocotones_, the latter _duraznos_. At Espartillar there
were quite twenty acres of peach trees, and when Lyon and I wished to
be of use, the manager frequently asked us to hitch-up the wagon, and
bring him in a few sackfuls of peaches for preserving.

Espartillar boasted a great neglected wilderness of a garden, as
untidy and unkempt as a fashionable pianist's hair, but growing the
most wonderful collection of fruit. Here pears, peaches, lemons,
guavas, and strawberries flourished equally well in the accommodating
Argentine climate, and the pears of South America, the famous _peras
de agua_, must be tasted before their excellence can be imagined.
The garden was traversed by an avenue of fine eucalyptus trees,
amongst whose dusky foliage little screaming green parrakeets darted
in and out all day long, like flashes of vivid emerald light. The
garden was also, unfortunately, the favourite recreation-ground of a
family of lively skunks, and the skunk is an animal whose terrific
offensive powers necessitate extreme caution in approaching him.
Should a young dog unwarily attempt to tackle a skunk, he had to be
rigorously quarantined for a fortnight, for otherwise the
inexpressibly sickening odour was unendurable.

Beyond the garden enclosure, the dun-coloured expanse of treeless
featureless camp stretched its endless flat levels to the horizon, the
wooden posts supporting the wire fences being the only sign that man
had ever invaded these vast solitudes. Our minds are so constituted
that we set bounds to everything, for everything to which we are
accustomed has limits; one had a perpetual feeling that were one only
to ride over the camp long enough, towns and human habitations must be
reached somewhere. A glance at the map showed that this was not so.
Due south one could have ridden hundreds of miles with no variations
whatever to mark the distances achieved. This endless camp had
apparently no beginning and no end; it was as though one had suddenly
come face to face with Eternity.

All my experiences, however, are thirty years old. I believe that now,
within a radius of fifty miles from Buenos Ayres, most of the camp has
been broken up and ploughed. Growing wheat now covers the vast
khaki-coloured plains I recollect dotted with roving herds of cattle.
The picturesque and half-savage Gaucho, who lived entirely on meat,
and would have scorned to have walked even a hundred yards on foot,
has been replaced by the Italian agricultural labourer, who lives on
_polenta_ and macaroni, and will cheerfully trudge any distance
to his work. The great solitudes have gone, for with tillage there
must be roads now, and villages, and together with the solitudes the
wonderful teeming bird-life must have vanished, too.

I prefer to recollect the Espartillar I knew, a place of unending
spaces and glorious sunshine, with air almost as intoxicating as wine,
where innumerable spurred plovers screamed raucously all day long,
where the little ground-owls blinked unceasingly at the edge of their
burrows; where bronze-green ibises flashed through the sunlight, and
rose-coloured spoonbills trailed in pink streaks across the blue sky,
as they flew in single file from one _laguna_ to another. That
marvellous bird-life was worth travelling seven thousand miles to see;
wheatfields can be seen anywhere.




CHAPTER IX

Difficulties of an Argentine railway engineer--Why Argentina has the
Irish gauge--A sudden contrast--A more violent contrast--Names and
their obligations--Capetown--The thoroughness of the Dutch pioneers--A
dry and thirsty land--The beautiful Dutch Colonial houses--The
Huguenot refugees--The Rhodes Fruit Farms--Surf-riding--Groote
Schuur--General Botha--The Rhodes Memorial--The episode of the Sick
Boy--A visit from Father Neptune--What pluck will do.


A railway engineer in the Argentine Republic is confronted with
peculiar difficulties. In the first place, in a treeless country there
is obviously no wood for sleepers. A thousand miles up the giant
Parana there are vast tracts of forest, but either the wood is
unsuited for railway-sleepers, or the means of transport are lacking,
so the engineer is forced to use iron pot-sleepers for supporting his
rails. These again require abundant ballast, and there is no ballast
in a country devoid of stone and with a soil innocent of the smallest
pebble. The engineer can only use burnt clay to ballast his road, and
as a result the dust on an Argentine railway defies description. In my
time, when carriages of the English type were in use, the atmosphere
after an hour's run was as thick as a dense London November fog, and
after five or six hours' travelling the passengers alighted with faces
as black as niggers'. Whilst waiting for a train, its approach would
be announced by a vast pillar of dust appearing in the distance. This
pillar of dust seemed almost to reach the sky, and any passengers of
Hebraic origin must really have imagined themselves back in the Sinai
peninsula, and must have wondered why the dusky pillar was approaching
them instead of leading them on.

The difficulties connected with the working of railways did not end
here. Most people know that a swarm of locusts can stop a train, for
the bodies of these pests are full of grease, and after the
engine-wheels have crushed countless thousands of locusts, the wheels
become so coated with oil that they merely revolve, and refuse to grip
the rails. Let the driver open his sand-box never so widely, the
wheels cannot bite, and so the train comes to a standstill. Oddly
enough, a bird, too, causes a great deal of trouble. The "oven-bird"
makes a large domed nest of clay, the size of a cocoa-nut. In that
treeless land the oven-birds look on telegraph-posts as specially
provided by a benign Providence to afford them eligible nesting-sites,
and from some perversity of instinct, or perhaps attracted by the
gleam of the white earthenware, they invariably select one of the
porcelain insulators as the site of their future home, and proceed to
coat it laboriously with clay, thus effectually destroying the
insulation. Now the working of a single-line is entirely dependent on
the telegraph, and the oven-birds, with their misplaced zeal, were
continually interrupting telegraphic communication, so on the Great
Southern Railway of Buenos Ayres every single telegraph-post was
surmounted with a wooden box, mutely proclaiming itself the most
desirable building-site that heart of bird could wish for, and
silently offering whatever equivalents to a gravel soil and a southern
aspect could suggest themselves to the avian intelligence. In spite of
this these misguided fowls retained their affection for the
insulators, and the Great Southern had during the nesting season to
employ a gang of men to tear the nests down.

Unlike the majority of railways, both in North and South America,
which have adopted the 4 ft. 8-1/2 ins. gauge, the standard gauge of
the Argentine Republic is the Irish one of 5 ft. 3 ins., and the
reason of this is rather singular. In 1855, during the Crimean War, a
short railway was laid down from Balaclava to the British lines. The
firm of contractors who built this railway for the British Government
had constructed some three years previously a small railway in
Ireland, for which they had never been paid. They accordingly seized
the engines and rolling-stock, which, owing to the difference in
gauge, were useless in England. It occurred to the contractors that
they might utilise this material by building the Crimean Railway to
the Irish gauge of 5 ft. 3 ins., and they accordingly proceeded to do
so. Two years after the Crimean War the same firm secured the contract
for building the first railway in the Argentine, a short line,
twenty-one miles long, from Buenos Ayres to the River Tigre. As they
considered that their Crimean rolling-stock was still in good order,
they obtained permission to build the Tigre Railway to the Irish
gauge, and these much-travelled coaches and engines which had started
their railway career in Ireland, were shipped from the Crimea to the
Plate, and eventually found themselves, to their vast surprise,
rolling between Buenos Ayres and Tigre. The first time that I was in
Buenos Ayres, in 1883, two of the original Crimean engines were still
running on this little railway, the "Balaclava" and the "Eupatoria,"
the latter re-christened "Presidente Mitre." The newer railways
followed the lead of the pioneer, and so it comes about that Ireland
and the Argentine Republic have the same standard gauge.

The vast solitudes of Espartillar were within eight hours of Buenos
Ayres, three by wagon and five by rail, so it was possible to wander
out one night to the star-lit camp, where the silence was only broken
by the screech of an occasional night-bird, or the beat of the wings
of myriads of flighting ducks, without the slightest trace of man or
his works perceptible in the great, grey, still, unpeopled world, and
to be sitting the next night in evening clothes in a garish,
over-gilt, over-decorated restaurant, humming with the clatter of
plates and the chatter of high-pitched Argentine voices, as a noisy
string-band played selections from the latest Paris operette. It was
difficult to realise that this ostentatiously modern town, with its
meretricious glitter, and its population of pale-faced town-breds, was
only a hundred miles from the place where, amongst brown, sunburnt
folk, we had been living a primitive life tempered by quiet
transplanted English comfort.

To me there is always something rather attractive in sudden contrasts
in surroundings. My memory goes back forty years to Russia, when I was
on a bear-shooting expedition with Sir Robert Kennedy. Kennedy had
killed two bears, and we were making our way back to Petrograd that
night, for next evening there was to be one of the famous "Bals des
Palmiers" at the Winter Palace which we neither of us wished to miss.
So it came about that one evening we were sitting in a two-roomed
peasant's house, thigh-booted and flannel-shirted, in the roughest of
clothes, devouring sustenance for our night's sledge journey out of
pieces of newspaper by the light of a little smoky oil-lamp, whilst
around us stood half the village, whispering endless comments, and
gaping open-eyed on those mysterious strangers from the unknown world
outside Russia. The room was lined with rough unpainted boards nailed
over the log walls; one quarter of it was occupied by a huge stove, on
the top of which the children were sleeping; it was very dirty, and
the heat in combination with the fetid atmosphere was almost
unendurable. A dimly lit picture, all in sombre browns, relieved by
the scarlet shirts of the men, and the gaudy printed calicoes of the
women, just visible in the uncertain light of the flickering lamp, and
of the red glow from the stove. Then came an all-night drive in
sledges through the interminable forest of pines, the piercing cold
lashing our faces like a whip, and the stars blazing in the great
expanse of dull-polished steel above us with that hard diamond-like
radiance they only assume when the thermometer is down below zero.

Twenty-four hours later we were both in the vast halls of the Winter
Palace in full uniform, as bedizened with gold as a _nouveau riche's_
drawing-room. Though the world outside may have been frost-bound,
Winter's domain stopped at the threshold of the Palace, for once
inside, banks of growing hyacinths and tulips bloomed bravely, and the
big palms, from which the balls derived their name, stood aligned down
the great halls, as though they were in their native South Sea Isles,
with a supper-table for twelve persons arranged under each of them.
Those "Bals des Palmiers" were really like a scene from the Arabian
Nights, what with the varied uniforms of the men, the impressive
Russian Court dresses of the women, the jewels, the lights, and the
masses of flowers. The immense scale of everything in the Winter Palace
added to the effect, and the innumerable rooms, some of them of
gigantic size, rather gained in dignity by being sparsely tenanted, for
only 1,500 people were asked to the "Palmiers." There was nothing like
it anywhere else in Europe, and no one now living will ever look on so
brilliant a scene, set in so vast a _cadre_. There was really a marked
contrast between the two consecutive evenings Kennedy and I had spent
together.

One of the ladies of the British Embassy in Petrograd inquired of a
Court official what the cost of a "Bal des Palmiers" amounted to. The
chamberlain replied that for 1,500 people the cost would be about
9,000 pounds, working out at 6 pounds per head. This included a special
train all the way from Nice with growing and cut flowers, and another
special train from the Crimea with fruit. A very expensive item was the
carriage by road from Tsarskoe Selo of one hundred specially grown
large palm trees in specially constructed frost-proof vans; there was
also the heavy cost of the supper and wine, which for the "Bals des
Palmiers" was provided on a far more sumptuous scale than at the
ordinary Court entertainments and balls.

Ichabod! Ichabod!

Certain names carry their own responsibilities; for instance, when a
town proudly proclaimed itself the "City of Good Airs" it should live
up to its title. The Buenos Ayres of the early "eighties" was a
notoriously insanitary place without any system of proper drainage.
Some of the "Good Airs" fairly knocked one down when one encountered
them. That has all now been rectified; Buenos Ayres is at present
admirably drained, and is one of the healthiest cities of South
America.

Certain names, again, have their drawbacks. Helen Lady Dufferin, the
mother of my old Chief and godfather, was the grand-daughter of
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and in common with her two sisters, the
Duchess of Somerset and Mrs. Norton, she had inherited her full share
of the Sheridan wit. As I have pointed out elsewhere, people of a
certain class in London maintained in those days far closer relations
with persons of a corresponding class in Paris than is the custom now.
Lady Dufferin had innumerable friends in Paris, and amongst the oldest
of these friends was Comte Joseph de Noailles. Whenever the Comte de
Noailles came to London, Lady Dufferin was the first person he went to
see. When they were both in their old age, the Comte de Noailles
arrived in London, and, as usual, went to dine with his friend of many
years. As it was a warm evening in July, he walked to Lady Dufferin's
house from his hotel, carrying his overcoat on his arm. On leaving the
house, the old gentleman forgot his cloak, and Lady Dufferin received
a note the next morning asking her to be good enough to send back the
cloak by the bearer. The note was signed "Joseph de Noailles." Lady
Dufferin returned the cloak with this message, "Monsieur, lorsqu' on a
le malheur de s'appeler Joseph, on ne laisse pas son manteau chez une
dame."

Joseph naturally suggests Egypt, and Egypt recalls Africa, and on the
whole African continent there is surely no more delectable spot than
the Cape peninsula. Capetown with its suburbs is dominated everywhere
by the gigantic flat-topped rock of Table Mountain. Go where you will
amongst the most splendid woodland, coast and mountain scenery in the
world, that ever-changing rampart of rock is still the central
feature. Jan Van Riebeck, the original Dutch pioneer of 1652, must
have yielded to the irresistible claims of Table Bay as a harbour with
a very bad grace, before founding his new settlement on the slopes of
Table Mountain. Every racial and inherited instinct in him must have
positively itched to select in preference some nice low swampy site,
for choice in the Cape Flats, if not actually below sea-level, at all
events at sea-level, where substantial brick dams could be erected
against the encroaching waters, where he could construct an elaborate
system of canals, and where windmills would have to pump day and night
to prevent the place becoming submerged. The Dutch, both in Java and
in Demerara, had yielded to this misplaced affection for a sea-level
site, and had constructed Batavia and Georgetown strictly according to
their racial ideals, with a prodigal abundance of canals. Though this
doubtless gave the settlers a home-like feeling, the canal-intersected
town of Batavia is so unhealthy under a broiling tropical sun that it
has been virtually abandoned as a place of residence.

Capetown has none of the raw, unfinished aspect so many Colonial towns
wear, but has a solid, grave dignity of its own, and its suburbs are
unquestionably charming. The settled, permanent look of the town is
perhaps due to the fact that there is not a single wooden house or
fence in Capetown, everything is of substantial brick, stone and iron.
The Dutch were admirable town-planners; since the country has been in
British hands our national haphazard carelessness has asserted itself,
and the city has been extended without any apparent design whatever. I
was certainly not prepared for the magnificent groves of oaks which
are such a feature of Capetown and its vicinity. These oaks, far
larger than any to which we are accustomed, bear witness to the
painstaking thoroughness of the Dutch. Before an oak capable of
withstanding the arid climate and burning sun of South Africa could be
produced, it had to be crossed and re-crossed many times. The existing
stately tree is the fruit of this patient labour; it grows at twice
the pace of our oaks, and attains far larger dimensions; it is quite
useless as a timber tree, but produces enormous acorns which, in windy
weather, descend in showers from the trees and batter the corrugated
iron roofs of the houses with a noise like an air-raid.

The Union of South Africa is unfortunate in having the great range of
the Drakensberg running parallel to the coastline for hundreds of
miles, for until the Zambesi is reached there are practically no
navigable rivers at all. This barrier mountain range, and the
recklessness of the early settlers in cutting down the forests, are
together responsible for the aridity of South Africa. She is, indeed,
as Ezekiel said of old, "planted in the wilderness, in a dry and
thirsty ground." The Cape peninsula is comparatively well-watered;
between the giant rocky buttresses of Table Mountain little clear
streams gush down, and there are several brooks, proudly termed
"rivers" locally, quite visible to the naked eye. Everything in this
world is relative. I remember at Alkmaar in North Holland ascending an
artificial mound perhaps seventy feet high, planted with trees. In the
dead-flat expanse of the Low Countries, this hillock is looked on by
the natives of Alkmaar much as Mont Blanc is regarded by the
inhabitants of Geneva, with feelings of profound veneration; so in
South Africa the tiniest brooklet is the source of immense pride to
the dwellers on its banks, and rightly so, for it is the very
life-blood of the district, and literally Isaiah's "rivers of water in
a dry place." I always carefully avoided any allusion to the sixteen
different burns running through the park at Baron's Court, for it
might have looked like arrogance to boast of this super-abundance of
water in my old home, where, between ourselves, a wholly dry day was
rather a notable rarity. Where the aridity is most noticeable is in
the great oak and fir woods at Groote Schuur, the lordly
pleasure-house which Cecil Rhodes built for himself at Rondebosch,
under the slopes of the Devil's Peak. Here, under the trees, the
ground is absolutely bare; not even the faintest sign of grass, not
the smallest scrap of vegetation. Rondebosch Parish Church might have
been lifted bodily from England; it is an exceedingly handsome
building of a very familiar type, yet in the churchyard there was not
one blade of green; nothing but naked earth between the graves.
Fortunately the Australian myrtle has been introduced, a shrub that
can apparently dispense with moisture, so thanks to it every garden in
the Capetown suburbs is surrounded by a hedge of vivid perennial
green. These suburbs have a wonderfully home-like look, embowered as
they are in oak trees, and the buildings are all of the solid familiar
type; even the very railway stations, except for their nameboards,
might be at Wandsworth Common, Balham, or Barnes, instead of at
Rosebank, Rondebosch, and Claremont, though Balham and Barnes are not
fortunate enough to have the purple ramparts of Table Mountain or the
Devil's Peak towering over them, whilst, on the other hand, they
fortunately escape the all-pervading South African dust.

I like the name "The Tavern of the Ocean," formerly given to Capetown;
and what a welcome break it must have afforded in the wearisome voyage
from Europe to the Dutch East Indies, or to India proper! The
Netherlands Dutch seem only to have regarded it as a half-way house, a
sort of unimportant railway "halt" between Europe and the East, where
the necessary fresh water and green vegetables could be supplied to
passing vessels. It was not until Simon Van der Stel was appointed
Governor in 1678 that any idea of developing the Cape as a colony was
ever entertained. Van der Stel has left his impress deep on the
country. Though the vine had been already introduced by Van Riebeck,
it is to Van der Stel that the special features of Cape scenery are
due, for we owe to him the splendid groves of oak of to-day, and he
originated the Dutch Colonial type of building, of which so many fine
specimens still remain. These old Dutch houses are a constant puzzle
to me. In most new countries the original white settlers content
themselves with the most primitive kind of dwelling, for where there
is so much work to be done the ornamental yields place to the
necessary; but here, at the very extremity of the African continent,
the Dutch pioneers created for themselves elaborate houses with
admirable architectural details, houses recalling in some ways the
_chateaux_ of the Low Countries. Where did they get the architects to
design these buildings? Where did they find the trained craftsmen to
execute the architects' designs? Why did the settlers, struggling with
the difficulties of an untamed wilderness, require such large and
ornate dwellings? I have never heard any satisfactory answers to these
questions. Groot Constantia, originally the home of Simon Van der Stel,
now the government wine-farm, and Morgenster, the home of Mrs. Van der
Byl, would be beautiful buildings anywhere, but considering that they
were both erected in the seventeenth century, in a land just emerging
from barbarism seven thousand miles away from Europe, a land, too,
where trained workmen must have been impossible to find, the very fact
of their ever having come into existence at all leaves me in
bewilderment.

These Colonial houses, most admirably adapted to a warm climate,
correspond to nothing in Holland, or even in Java. They are nearly all
built in the shape of an H, either standing upright or lying on its
side, the connecting bar of the H being occupied by the dining-room.
They all stand on stoeps or raised terraces; they are always
one-storied and thatched, and owe much of their effect to their
gables, their many-paned, teak-framed windows, and their solid teak
outside shutters. Their white-washed, gabled fronts are ornamented
with pilasters and decorative plaster-work, and these dignified,
perfectly proportioned buildings seem in absolute harmony with their
surroundings. Still I cannot understand how they got erected, or why
the original Dutch pioneers chose to house themselves in such lordly
fashion. At Groot Constantia, which still retains its original
furniture, the rooms are paved with black and white marble, and
contain a wealth of great cabinets of the familiar Dutch type, of
ebony mounted with silver, of stinkwood and brass, of oak and steel;
one might be gazing at a Dutch interior by Jan Van de Meer, or by
Peter de Hoogh, instead of at a room looking on to the Indian Ocean,
and only eight miles distant from the Cape of Good Hope. How did these
elaborate works of art come there? The local legend is that they were
copied by slave labour from imported Dutch models, but I cannot
believe that untrained Hottentots can ever have developed the
craftsmanship and skill necessary to produce these fine pieces of
furniture. I think it far more likely to be due to the influx of
French Huguenot refugees in 1689, the Edict of Nantes having been
revoked in 1685, the same year in which Simon Van der Stel began to
build Groot Constantia. Wherever these French Huguenots settled they
brought civilisation in their train, and proved a blessing to the
country of their adoption. In England they taught us silk-weaving and
clock-making, starting the one in Spitalfields, the other in
Clerkenwell. In Dublin, where a strong colony of them settled, they
introduced the making of tabinet, or "Irish poplin," and I am told
that the much-sought-after "Irish" silver was almost entirely the work
of French Huguenot refugees. Here, at the far-off Cape, the Huguenots
settled in the valleys of the Drakenstein, of the Hottentot's Holland,
and at French Hoek; and they made the wilderness blossom, and
transformed its barren spaces into smiling wheatfields and oak-shaded
vineyards. They incidentally introduced the dialect of Dutch known as
"The Taal," for when the speaking of Dutch was made compulsory for
them, they evolved a simplified form of the language more adapted to
their French tongues. I suspect, too, that the artistic impulse which
produced the dignified Colonial houses, and built so beautiful a town
as Stellenbosch (a name with most painful associations for many
military officers whose memories go back twenty years) must have come
from the French. Stellenbosch, with its two-hundred-year-old houses,
their fronts rich with elaborate plaster scroll-work, all its streets
shaded with avenues of giant oaks and watered by two clear streams, is
such an inexplicable town to find in a new country, for it might have
hundreds of years of tradition behind it! Wherever they may have got
it from, the artistic instinct of the old Cape Dutch is undeniable,
for a hundred years after Van der Stel's time they imported the French
architect Thibault and the Dutch sculptor Anton Anreith. To Anreith is
due the splendid sculptured pediment over the Constantia wine-house
illustrating the story of Ganymede, and all Thibault's buildings have
great distinction; but still, being where they are, they are a
perpetual surprise, for in a new country one does not expect such a
high level of artistic achievement.

Many of the fine old Colonial homesteads are grouped together in what
are now the Rhodes Fruit Farms in the Drakenstein. So attractive are
they that I do not wonder that a very near relative of mine has bought
one of them for his son; and I envy my great-nephew who will one day
sit under the shadow of his own vines and fig trees at Lormarins,
amongst groves of peaches, apricots and plums. I cherish pleasant
recollections of a visit to Boschendaal, also in the Fruit Farm
district, a delightful old house, standing over a jungle of a garden
where a brook babbles through thickets of orange and lemon trees, and
amongst great tangles of bougainvillaa and pink oleanders, and in
whose shady dining-hall I was hospitably entertained by a Dutch farmer
on an omelette of ostrich's egg (one egg is enough for six people), on
"most-bolajie" (bread made with sweet new wine instead of with water),
and other local delicacies, including "mabos," or alternate slices of
dry salted peaches and dry sweetened apricots. This condiment is
cynically known as married life. In the _voorhuis_ of Boschendaal
lay nineteen fine leopard skins, and Mr. Louw, the courtly mannered
old farmer, who would be described by his countrymen as an "oprechter
Burger," explained to me in slow and laborious English that he had
killed every one of these leopards with his own hand within one mile
of his own house.

A most attractive land were it not for the aridity. Should I settle
there I should be forever regretfully recalling the lush greenery of
English meadows in June, or of English woods in spring-time.

Just conceive of Van der Stel's astonishment when he first reached the
Cape! He must have been used to a small, dead-flat, water-logged land,
with odoriferous canals at every turn, and thousands of windmills
pumping day and night for all they were worth to keep the country
afloat at all; after a voyage of seven thousand miles he found himself
in a land of mighty mountain ranges, of vast, illimitable distances,
parched by a fierce sun, and nearly waterless. It must have needed
immense courage to start the founding of a New Holland in such (to
him) uncongenial surroundings. As a tribute to the adaptable South
African climate, I may say that I have myself seen, on Sir Thomas
Smartt's well-watered farm, apple trees and orange trees fruiting and
ripening in the same field.

When I was invited to go surf-bathing at Muizenberg, I rubbed my
eyes, for I had vague ideas that this pastime was confined to South
Sea Islanders. Recollections of Ballantyne's books crowded in on me;
of apparently harmless sandal-wood traders, who unblushingly doubled
the part of bloodthirsty pirates with their peaceful avocations; of
bevies of swarthy but merry maidens rolling in on their planks on the
top of vast surges; of possibly some hideous banquet of taro roots and
"long pig" (baked over hot stones under a cover of plantain leaves) to
follow on these primitive pastimes; even perhaps of some coloured
captive maiden, wreathed in hibiscus flowers, loudly proclaiming her
distaste at the idea of being compulsorily converted into "long pig."
I should, of course, have had to rescue her after exhibiting prodigies
of valour, to find this dumb but devoted damsel clinging to me like a
leech, remaining a most embarrassing appendage until she had learned
sufficient English to answer "I will," when I could have united her to
a suitable mate, a copper-coloured yet contented bride.

When Capetown swelters in heat, Muizenberg is generally ten degrees
cooler, though, most obligingly, the water of the Indian Ocean at
Muizenberg is ten degrees warmer than that of the Atlantic at
Capetown, owing to the Antarctic current setting in to the latter.

At Muizenberg we found half the population of South Africa in the
water in front of the biggest bathing-house I have ever seen. The
handling of the surf-plank requires some care, for it is a short,
heavy board, and in the back-wash is apt to fly back on the unwary,
hitting them on their food-receptacle, and effectually (to use a
schoolboy term) "bagging their wind." You walk out in the shoal water
up to your shoulders, and as a big sea comes in, you throw yourself
chest foremost on to your plank, and are then carried along on the top
of the roller at the pace of a leisurely train (an Isle of Wight
train), to be deposited with a bang on the sandy beach. It is really
capital fun, but alas for my flower-wreathed South Sea Island maidens!
Excluding our own party I only saw many amply waisted ladies
disporting themselves staidly in the water, and the surrounding
cinemas and tea-shops might have been at Brighton, except that they
were far smarter and much better kept. Owing to the strongly marked
facial characteristics of some of the customers in these places, who
were mostly from Johannesburg, I at first imagined that I must have
wandered inadvertently into Jerusalem, or that I had perhaps drifted
to some fashionable health resort on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Groote Schuur, the stately house built by Cecil Rhodes for himself,
and by his will bequeathed as the official home of the Premier of
South Africa, became very familiar to me. These modern adaptations of
the Dutch Colonial style have one marked advantage over their
originals. In the old houses the stoep is merely an uncovered terrace
on which the house stands. In the modern houses the stoep is a shady,
pillared, covered gallery, which in hot weather becomes the general
living-room of the family. Having built his house, Cecil Rhodes
employed agents to hunt up in Holland fine specimens of genuine old
Dutch furniture with which to plenish it. Some of these agents surely
exceeded their instructions in the matter of grandfather clocks. They
must have absolutely denuded the Low Countries of these useful
timepieces, for at every step at Groote Schuur a fresh solemn-faced
Dutch clock ticks gravely away, to remind one how time is passing.
Rhodes collected a very fine library, but he had a curious fad for
typewritten copies of his favourite books, which fill an entire
bookcase in the library. Rhodes paid an immense price for the splendid
set of seventeenth-century Brussels tapestries in the dining-room,
illustrating the "Discovery of Africa," and the magnificent Cordova
leather in the drawing-room must also have been a costly acquisition.
The deep ravine running beside the house he had planted with blue
hydrangeas throughout its length; when these are in flower,
interspersed with scarlet and orange cannas, they form the most
glorious mass of colour imaginable, as do the hedges of pink and white
oleanders in the garden, each one with its smaller, attendant clipped
hedge of pale-blue plumbago.

To me, I confess, the most interesting thing in the house was General
Botha himself. When he talked of the future of South Africa in slow,
rather laboured English (for this medium was always a little difficult
for him), one felt that one was in the presence of a really great man.
His transparent honesty, and his obvious sincerity of purpose, stood
out as clearly as his strong common sense. On looking at his powerful,
almost stern, face, one realised that here was a man who would allow
nothing to turn him from his purpose once he was convinced that he was
right; a man, too, to whom anything in the way of underhand intrigue,
or backstairs negotiations, would be temperamentally repugnant. The
chivalrous foeman had become the most loyal ally, and an ally of whom
the entire British Empire should be proud. There was nothing tortuous
about the farmer turned soldier, and the soldier turned statesman.

Of Mrs. Botha I should not like to say too much, lest I might be
accused of flattery. As I shall presently relate, she was wonderfully
kind to a very sick lad whom I brought out to Africa with me.

There is a curious custom in South Africa of drinking tea at eleven
o'clock in the morning. So engrained is the habit that the streets of
Capetown at eleven o'clock are black with business men rushing from
their offices to the nearest tea-shop in search of this reviving
draught; in fact, I believe that in offices there is a rigid line of
demarcation between the seniors who go out for this indispensable cup
of tea and the juniors who have to have it brought them.

At Groote Schuur at eleven o'clock there was always a great gathering
for this important ceremony, and naturally the Dutch element usually
predominated. I could never find any trace of racial bitterness
amongst the men; with some of the women it was rather different.
Onlookers are apt to be more bitterly partisan than those who have
taken actual part in the conflict.

A mile or so from Groote Schuur House stands the beautiful Rhodes
Memorial, on the slopes of the Devil's Peak. This austere temple of
milk-white granite, with the great flight of steps flanked by bronze
lions leading up to it, and its backing of pine trees, is in absolute
harmony with its surroundings, and its very severity seems typical of
the rugged energy of the man whose memory it commemorates. I cannot
help wishing, though, that Mr. Herbert Baker, its architect, had built
it on rather a larger scale, for its gigantic environment appears to
dwarf the monument when seen from a few miles off. Watts's figure of
"Physical Energy," to be appreciated, must be seen here in the
position for which it was designed. Standing at the foot of the great
flight of stairs, with its background of purple mountain, and Africa
stretching away endlessly below it, it is really magnificent. The
replica erected in Kensington Gardens, and placed with singular
infelicity on grass between an avenue of elm trees, gives but little
idea of the effect of the original, towering high over what Rhodes
maintained was the finest view in the world, a view extending over the
immense expanse of the Cape Flats, and embracing two oceans, with the
splendid mountains of Hottentot's Holland in the background. If the
bronze rider, gazing with shaded eyes over the Africa that Rhodes
loved, is typical of his life, the calm white austerity of the temple
in the background seems symbolical of the peace which that restless
soul has now found.

The vineyards, oaks and wheatfields of the comparatively well-watered
Cape peninsula are not representative of the rest of the Union. Once
the train has laboriously clambered 3,000 feet up the Hex River Pass,
real Africa commences. Endless tracts of rolling arid veld, with an
atmosphere so clear that it is impossible for a newcomer to determine
whether the kopje seen in the distance is five miles, ten miles, or
twenty miles away. I quite understand the fascination of these bare
stretches of veld and the irresistible attraction which Africa
exercises over her children, for it is unlike anything else in the
world.

I have a theory that when Moses "removed the swarms of flies from
Pharaoh," he banished them to the southern extremity of the continent,
where the flies, imagining that their services might some day be
required again to plague the Egyptians, have kept themselves in a
constant state of mobilisation ever since. In no other way can the
plague of flies in South Africa be accounted for.

The wonderful effect of the dry air of the Cape peninsula, and of the
drier air of the High Veld in cases of tuberculosis is a matter of
common knowledge, for was not Cecil Rhodes himself a standing example
of an almost miraculous recovery? All of which brings me to the
episode of the Sick Boy, and if I dwell on it at some length I do so
intentionally for the comfort and better encouragement of those
battling with the same disease. I first met the Sick Boy (hereinafter
for the sake of brevity termed the "S.B.") at the house of one of my
oldest friends, who had an annual cricket-party for the benefit of his
son. Amongst the schoolboy eleven staying in the house was a tall and
very thin lad of sixteen, who showed great promise as a bowler. My
hostess told me that this boy was suffering from tuberculosis, that he
had had to leave Eton at fifteen to undergo a very severe internal
operation from which he had only just recovered, and that when the
party broke up, he was going straight into a nursing-home to prepare
for another equally severe operation. Every time he played cricket he
had to be put to bed at once after the match, and to be fed on warm
milk. The lad had tremendous pluck; in spite of his weakness he
insisted on taking part in the games and amusements of the other boys,
and proved very good at all of them.

Three years later I met the S.B. again. He had spent the interval
entirely in sanatoria and nursing-homes, except for a few months at
St. Moritz in the Engadine, and had undergone six major operations,
the last one entailing the removal of his left ear, though the
external ear had been left. The unfortunate lad, who seemed to have
had most of the working "spare parts" of his anatomy removed, was a
walking triumph of modern operative surgery, but his disease had
clearly made advances. He was then living in an open-air hut at his
father's place, and his condition was obviously critical. As I was
myself going to South Africa, I proposed to his father (he had lost
his mother as a child) that the boy should accompany me, pointing out
the wonders the dry South African climate had effected in similar
cases, and the advantages of a long sea-voyage. So it was settled. As
I was fully alive to the responsibilities I was incurring I took my
valet with me, in case additional help should be required. Billy, the
S.B., came on board, long, lanky, and pitiably emaciated. His
abnormally brilliant colour, and his unnaturally bright eyes betrayed
the progress the disease had made with him. He revived at once in the
warmth, and I had considerable difficulty in restraining his
super-abundant vitality, for he played deck-cricket all day, and
entered himself for every single event in the ship's sports,
regardless of his very narrow available margin of strength. After
arriving in Africa, as the S.B. could not have stood the noise and
racket of a big hotel, we found most comfortable quarters in a quiet
little place in the delightful suburb of Rondebosch. I wished to go
up-country, and as it was obvious that the S.B. could never have stood
the heat, fatigue, and dust of long railway journeys during the height
of the South African summer, I found myself in a difficult position. I
had the most stringent directions from the doctors as to what the S.B.
might or might not do. He was on no account to ride, either a horse or
a bicycle; bathing might prove instantly fatal to him; he was only to
play cricket, golf, or lawn-tennis in strict moderation, followed each
time by a compulsory rest. I knew the S.B. well enough by now to
realise that, the moment my back was turned, he would want to do all
these things, if merely to show that he could do them as well as
anybody else, quite regardless of consequences. Mrs. Botha came to the
rescue, and with extraordinary kindness, told me to send the S.B. to
Groote Schuur, where she would undertake to look after him. As I have
hinted earlier, I have seldom come across so delightful a family as
the Bothas, father, mother, sons and daughters alike; so fortunate
Billy the S.B. was transferred with his belongings to Groote Schuur,
where he was immensely elated at being allowed to use Cecil Rhodes'
sumptuous private bathroom. This bathroom was entirely lined with
Oriental alabaster; the bath itself was carved out of a solid block of
green marble, and the very bath-taps were exquisitely chiselled bronze
Tritons, riding on dolphins. When I returned to Capetown I found the
S.B. quite one of the Botha family, being addressed by everybody by
his Christian name. He played lawn-tennis and billiards daily with the
General, and should he prove refractory (a not infrequent occurrence)
the General had only to threaten, "I shall have to make you smoke
another of my black cigars, Billy," for the S.B. to capitulate
instantly with a shudder, for he had gruesome recollections of the
effects one of these powerful home-grown cigars had produced on him
upon a previous occasion.

When we sailed from South Africa, Mrs. Botha came down herself to the
liner to see that Billy's cabin was comfortable, and that he had all
the appliances he required, such as hot-water bottles, etc., and she
presented him with a large parcel of home-made delicacies for his
exclusive use on the voyage home. Nothing could have exceeded her
kindness to this afflicted lad, of whose very existence she had been
unaware three months earlier.

Before we had been at sea a week, the S.B. managed to get a sunstroke.
He grew alarmingly ill, and the ship's doctor told me that he had
developed tubercular meningitis, and that his recovery was impossible.
I gave the S.B. a hint as to the gravity of his case, but the boy's
pluck was indomitable. "I am going to sell that doctor," he said, "for
I don't mean to die now. I have sold the doctors twice already when
they told me I was dying, and I am going to make this chap look silly,
too, for I don't intend to go out." Soon after he relapsed into
unconsciousness. Meningitis affects the eyes, and the poor S.B. could
not bear one ray of light, so the cabin was carefully darkened, and
the electrician replaced the white bulbs in the cabin and alley-way
with green ones. As we were approaching the equator the heat in that
closed-up cabin was absolutely suffocating, the thermometer standing
at over 100 degrees. Still the sick lad felt chilly, and had to be
surrounded with hot-water bottles, whilst an ice-pack was placed on his
head. I and my valet took it in turns to sit up at nights with him, as
every quarter of an hour we had to trickle a teaspoonful of iced milk
and brandy into his mouth. As each morning came round, the doctor's
astonishment at finding his patient still alive was obvious, and he
assured me again and again that it could only be a question of hours.
One morning my valet, whose turn as night-nurse it was, awoke me at 4
a.m. with the news that "Mr. William has come to again, and is
screaming for beef-tea." I went into the cabin, where I found the S.B.
quite conscious, and insistently demanding beef-tea. By sheer grit and
force of will the lad had pulled himself out of the very Valley of the
Shadow. We got him the best substitute for beef-tea to be obtained on
a liner at 4.30 a.m., and two hours later he was clamouring for more.
His progress to recovery was uninterrupted as soon as we were able to
carry him into the open air, his eyes protected by some most ingenious
light-proof goggles, cleverly fashioned on board by the second
engineer. The S.B. had learnt from the doctor of some strictly private
arrangements which I had made with the captain of the ship should his
disease unfortunately take a fatal turn. I found him one morning
rolling about in his bunk with laughter. "It is really the most
comical idea I ever heard of in my life," he spluttered, shaking with
merriment. "Fancy carrying me home in the meat-safe! Just imagine
father's face when you told him that you had got me down in the
refrigerator! I never heard anything so d----d funny," and as fresh
humorous possibilities of this novel form of home-coming occurred to
him, he grew quite hysterical with laughter. He was immensely amused,
too, at learning that during the most critical period of his illness I
had got the captain to stop the ship's band, and to rope-off the deck
under his cabin window. I will not deny that the S.B. required a good
deal of supervision; for instance, when at length allowed a little
solid food, I found that he had selected as a suitable invalid repast,
some game-pie and a strawberry ice, which had, of course, to be
sternly vetoed; he had entered, too, for every event in the ship's
sports, and though he was so weak that he could barely stand, he had
every intention of competing. I have seldom met any one with such
wonderful personal courage as that boy, and he would never yield one
inch to his enemy; the strong will was for ever dominating the frail
body.

On this voyage we had a number of young people on board who were
crossing the equator for the first time, so Neptune kindly offered to
leave his ocean depths and to board the ship in the good old-fashioned
orthodox style to further these young folks' education. Just as we
crossed the Line, the ship was hailed from the sea, her name and
destination were ascertained, and she was peremptorily ordered to
heave to, Neptune naturally imagining that he was still dealing with
sailing ships. The engines were at once stopped, and Neptune, with his
Queen, his Doctor, his Barber, his Sea Bears and the rest of his
Court, all in their traditional get-up, made their appearance on the
upper deck, to the abject terror of some of the little children, who
howled dismally at this alarming irruption of half-naked savages with
painted faces. I myself enacted Neptune in an airy costume of
fish-scales, a crown, and a flowing beard and wig of bright sea-green.
Of course my Trident had not been forgotten. Amphitrite, my queen, was
the star-comedian of the South African music-hall stage, and the
little man was really extraordinarily funny, keeping up one incessant
flow of rather pungent gag, and making the spectators roar with
laughter. All the traditional ceremonies and good-natured horseplay
were scrupulously adhered to, and some twenty schoolboys and five
adults were duly dosed, lathered, shaved, hosed, and then toppled
backwards into a huge canvas tank of sea-water, where the boys
persisted in swimming about in all their clothes. The proceedings were
terminated by Neptune and his entire Court following the neophytes
into the tank, and I am afraid that we induced some half-dozen male
spectators to accompany us into the tank rather against their will,
one old German absolutely fuming with rage at the unprecedented
liberty that was being taken with him. During these revels the S.B.,
though only just convalescent, and still in his bunk, had to be locked
into his cabin, or he would have insisted on taking part in them, and
would have certainly died an hour afterwards.

Upon the outbreak of war in August, 1914, the S.B. made three attempts
to obtain a commission, only to be promptly rejected by the medical
officers when they examined him. He then tried to enlist as a private,
under a false name, but no doctor would pass him, so he went as a
workman into a Small Arms' Factory, and made rifle-stocks for a year.
The indoor life and the lack of fresh air aggravating his disease, he
was forced to abandon this work, when, by some means which I have
never yet fathomed, he managed to get a commission in the Royal Air
Force. The doctors, being much overworked, let him through without a
medical examination, and in due time the S.B. qualified as a pilot,
when, owing to engine trouble, he promptly crashed in his seaplane
into the North Sea, in January, and was an hour in the water before
being rescued. This icy bath somehow arrested the progress of his
disease, and he was subsequently sent to the Dardanelles. Here, whilst
attempting to bomb Constantinople, the S.B. got shot down and captured
by the Turks. During his eighteen months of captivity he underwent the
greatest privations from cold and hunger, being insufficiently clad
and most insufficiently fed. Upon his release after the Armistice, he
was examined by a British doctor, who told him, to his amazement, that
every trace of his dire disease had vanished, nor were the most
eminent specialists of Harley Street subsequently able to distinguish
the faintest lingering signs of tuberculosis. He was completely cured,
or rather by his strong willpower he had completely cured himself.

Billy (the term of S.B. being clearly no longer applicable) is now
married to a pretty and charming wife; he is the proud father of a
sturdy son, and is putting on weight at an alarming rate, his
waistcoat already exhibiting a convexity of outline that would be
justifiable only in the case of an alderman. He is a partner in a
prosperous West End business, and will be most happy to book any
orders you may give him for wine.

I have purposely dwelt at length on the case of the S.B. in order to
encourage other sufferers from this disease to realise how strong the
personal factor is in their cases, and how much they can help
themselves. Here was an apparently hopeless case of tuberculosis, and
yet a lad by his indomitable grit and personal courage fought his
enemy, continued to fight him, and finally conquered him, all by sheer
determination never to give in. Let others in his position take heart
of grace and continue the struggle, and may they, too, rout their
enemy as the S.B. did. Nil desperandum! I may add that an ice-cold
bath of an hour in the North Sea in January, and eighteen months'
incarceration in a Turkish prison, are not absolutely essential items
in the cure.




CHAPTER X

In France at the outbreak of war--The _tocsin_--The "Voice of the
Bell" at Harrow--Canon Simpson's theory about bells--His "five-tone"
principle--Myself as a London policeman--Experiences with a celebrated
church choir--The "Grillroom Club"--Famous members--Arthur Cecil--Some
neat answers Sir Leslie Ward--Beerbohm Tree and the vain old
member--Amateur supers--Juvenile disillusionment--The Knight--The
Baron--Age of romance passed.


In July, 1914, I was in Normandy, undergoing medical treatment for a
bad leg. Black as the horizon looked towards the end of that month, I
personally believed that the storm would blow over, and that the
clouds would disperse, as had happened so often previously when the
relations between Germany and France had been strained almost to the
breaking-point by the megalomaniac of Potsdam.

On the fateful Saturday, August 1, 1914, I was at a little old Norman
chateau standing on the banks of the placid river Mayenne. It was a
glorious afternoon, and I was in a boat on the river fishing with the
two daughters of the house. We suddenly saw the local station-master
running along the bank in a state of great agitation, brandishing a
telegram in his hands. He asked us where he could find "M. le Maire,"
for my host, amongst other things, was mayor of the little
neighbouring town, and added with a despairing gesture, "Helas! C'est
la guerre!" showing us the official telegram from Paris. We at once
landed and accompanied the station-master up to the house, where our
host was dumbfounded at the news, for, like me, he had continued to
hope against hope. Five minutes later he was knotting the official
tricolour scarf round his waist, for it fell to his duty as Maire to
read the Decree of Mobilisation in the town, and I accompanied him
there. I shall never forget that sight. Sobbing and weeping women
everywhere; the older men, who remembered 1870 and knew what this
mobilisation meant, endeavouring to master their emotion and to keep
up an appearance of calm; the younger men, who were to be thrust into
the furnace, standing dazed and anxious-eyed at the prospect of the
unknown to-morrow which they were to face. My host, after reading the
Decree, added a few words of his own, such words as appeal to the
French temperament; brief, full of hope and courage, and breathing
that intensely passionate love of France which lies at the bottom of
every French soul. The Maire then ordered the _tocsin_ to be sounded in
half an hour's time, when it would also ring out from every church
steeple in France.

The rolling Normandy landscape lay bathed in golden sunshine, the
wheatfields ripe for the sickle, and the apple orchards rich in their
promise of fruit. There was not one breath of wind to ruffle the sleek
surface of the Mayenne, and the wealth of timber of leafy Normandy
stood out faintly blue over the tawny stretches of the wheatfields.
The whole scene, flooded with mellow sunshine, seemed to breathe
absolute peace.

Suddenly, from a distant church steeple, came two sharp strokes from a
bell, then a pause, and then two strokes were repeated. The town we
had just left rang out two louder notes, also followed by a pause. It
was the _tocsin_ ringing out its terrible message; and yet another
steeple sounded its two notes, and another and another. The news rung
out by those two sharp strokes is always bad news. The _tocsin_ rings
for great fires, for revolution, or, as in this case, for a Declaration
of War. Before us lay Normandy, looking inexpressibly peaceful in the
evening sunlight, and over that quiet countryside the _tocsin_ was
sending its tidings of woe, as it was from every church tower in
France. Next morning the only son, the gardener, the coachman, and the
man-servant left the old Norman chateau to join their regiments; the
son and the gardener never to return to it. To the end of my life I
shall remember the weeping women, and the haggard-eyed men in that
little town, and the two sharp strokes of the _tocsin_, sounding like
the knell of hope.

Nothing can carry a more poignant message than a bell. In my time at
Harrow, should a member of the school actually die at Harrow during
the term, the school bell was tolled at minute intervals, from 10 to
10.30 p.m., with the great bass bell of the parish church answering
it, also at minute intervals. The school bell, which rang daily at
least ten times for school, for chapel, for Bill, or for lock-up, had
an exceedingly piercing voice. We were used to hearing it rung
quickly, so when it sent out its one shrill note into the unaccustomed
night, a note answered in half a minute by the great boom of the
bourdon from the Norman church steeple, the effect was most
impressive. In my house it was the custom to keep absolute silence
during the tolling of the passing-bell. The British schoolboy is
really a highly emotional creature, though he would sooner die than
betray the fact. When the tolling began, boys would troop in their
night-clothes into one another's rooms for companionship, and remain
there in silence, ill at ease, until the tolling, to every one's
relief, ceased. There was another ordeal to be faced, too, at the
final concert. Amongst our school songs was one called "The Voice of
the Bell," describing the various occasions on which the school bell
rang. It had a bright, cheery tune, and was very popular, but there
was a special verse, only sung when a boy had actually died at Harrow
during the term. The melody of the special verse was the same as that
of the other verses, but the harmonies were quite different. It was
sung very slowly as a solo to organ accompaniment, and it touched
every one. The words were:

  "Hard to the stroke, another and another,
                              Ding, ding, ding.
  Tolling at night for the passing of a brother,
                              Ding, ding, ding,
  One more life from our life is taken,
  Work all done, and fellowship forsaken,
  Playmate sleep--and far away awaken,
                              Ding, ding, ding;"

the "ding, ding, ding" being taken up by the chorus.

All the boys dreaded the singing of this verse, at least I know that I
did, for no one felt quite sure of himself, and the little fellows
cried quite openly. Three times it was sung during my Harrow days, and
always by the same boy, chosen on account of his very sweet voice. He
was a friend of mine, and he used to tell me how thankful he was to
get through his solo without breaking down, or, as he preferred to put
it, "without making an utter ass of myself." I think that this special
verse is no longer sung, as being too painful for all concerned.

Whilst on the subject of bells, I may say that the late Canon Simpson
of Fittleworth was a great friend of mine. Canon Simpson was an
enthusiast about bells, not only about "change-ringing," on which
subject he was a recognised authority, but also about the designing
and casting of bells. He would talk to me for hours about them, though
I know about as much of bells as Nebuchadnezzar knew about
jazz-dancing. The Canon maintained that very few bells, either in
England or on the continent, were in tune with themselves, and
therefore could obviously not be in tune with the rest of the peal.
Every bell gives out five tones. The note struck, or the "tonic"
(which he called the "fundamental"), the octave above it, termed the
"nominal," and the octave below it, which he called the "hum note." In
a perfect bell these three octaves must be in perfect unison, but they
very seldom are. The "nominal," or upper octave, is nearly always
sharper than the "fundamental," and the "hum note" is again sharper
than that, thus producing an unpleasant effect. Any one listening for
it can detect the upper octave, or "nominal," even in a little
handbell. Let them listen intently, and they will catch the sharp
"ting" of the octave above. The "hum note" in a small bell is almost
impossible to hear, but let any one listen to a big bass bell, and
they cannot miss it. It is the "hum note" which sustains the sound,
and makes the air quiver and vibrate with pulsations. For many years I
have lived under the very shadow of Big Ben, and I can hear its "hum
note" persisting for at least ten seconds after the bell has sounded.
Big Ben is a notable instance of a bell out of tune with itself. In
addition to the three octaves, every bell gives out a "third" and a
"fifth" above the tonic, thus making a perfect chord, and for the bell
to be perfect, all these five tones must be in absolute tune with each
other. Space prevents my giving details as to how this result can be
attained. Under the Canon's tuition I learnt to distinguish the
"third," which is at times quite strident, but the "fifth" nearly
always eludes me. During Canon Simpson's lifetime he could only get
one firm of bell-founders to take his "five-tone" principle seriously.
I may add that English bell-founders tune their bells to the
"nominal," whilst Belgian and other continental founders tune them to
the "fundamental," both, according to Canon Simpson, essentially wrong
in principle.

Three days ago I read a leading article in a great morning daily,
headed "The Renascence of bell-founding in England," and I learnt from
it that one English bell-foundry was casting a great peal of bells for
the War Memorial at Washington, and that another firm was carrying out
an order for a peal from, wonder of wonders, Belgium itself, the very
home of bells, and that both these peals were designed on the "Simpson
five-tone principle." I wish that my old friend could have lived to
see his theories so triumphantly vindicated, or could have known that
the many years which he devoted to his special subject were not in
vain.

Had any one told me, say in 1912, that in two years' time I should be
patrolling the streets of London at night in a policeman's uniform as
a Special Constable, I should have been greatly surprised, and should
have been more astonished had I known of the extraordinary places I
should have to enter in the course of my duties, and the curious
people with whom I was to be brought into contact. I had occasion one
night, whilst on my beat, to enter the house of a professional man in
Harley Street, whose house, in defiance of the "Lighting Orders," was
blazing like the Eddystone Lighthouse. I gave the doctor a severe
lecture, and pointed out that he was rendering himself liable to a
heavy fine. He took my jobation in very good part, for I trust that as
a policeman I blended severity with sympathy, and promised to amend
his ways, and then added hospitably, "As perhaps you have been out
some time, constable, you might be glad of some sandwiches and a glass
of beer. If you will go down to the kitchen, I will tell the cook to
get you some." So down I went to the kitchen, and presently found
myself being entertained by an enormously fat cook. John Leech's
_Pictures from Punch_ have been familiar to me since my earliest
days. Some of his most stereotyped jokes revolved round the
unauthorised presence of policemen in kitchens, but in my very wildest
dreams it had never occurred to me that I, myself, when well past my
sixtieth year, would find myself in a policeman's uniform seated in a
London kitchen, being regaled on beer and sandwiches by a corpulent
cook, and making polite conversation to her. I hasten to disclaim the
idea that any favourable impression I may have created on the cook was
in any way due to my natural charm of manner; it was wholly to be
ascribed to the irresistible attraction the policeman's uniform which
I was wearing traditionally exercises over ladies of her profession.
Between ourselves, my brother Claud was so pleased with his Special
Constable's uniform that when a presentation portrait of himself was
offered to him he selected his policeman's uniform to be painted in,
in preference to that of a full colonel, to which he was entitled, and
his portrait can now be seen, as a white-haired and white-moustached,
but remarkably erect and alert Special Constable, seventy-five years
old.

I had during the war another novel but most interesting experience. A
certain well-known West End church has been celebrated for over fifty
years for the beauty and exquisite finish of its musical Services. As
1915 gave place to 1916, one by one the professional choir-men got
called up for military service, and finally came the turn of the
organist and choirmaster himself, he being just inside the limit of
age. The organist, besides being a splendid musician, happened to be a
skilled mechanic, so he was not sent abroad, but was given a
commission, and sent down to Aldershot to superintend the assembling
of aircraft engines. By getting up at 5 a.m. on Sundays, he was able
to be in London in time to take the organ and conduct the choir of his
church. Meeting the organist in the street one day, he told me that he
was in despair, for all the men of the choir but two had been called
up, and the results of ten years' patient labour seemed crumbling
away. He meant, though, to carry on somehow, all the same, and begged
me to find him a bass for the Cantoris side. I have hardly any voice
at all myself, but I had been used to singing in a choir, and can read
a part easily at sight, so I volunteered as a bass, and for two years
marched in twice, and occasionally three times, every Sunday into the
church in cassock and surplice with the choir. The music was far more
elaborate and difficult than any to which I had been accustomed, but
it was a great privilege and a great delight to sing with a choir
trained to such absolute perfection. The organist could only spare
time for one short practice a week, during which we went through about
one-third of the music we were to sing on Sunday, all the rest had to
be read at sight. Had not the boys been so highly trained it would
have been quite impossible; they lived in a Resident Choir School, and
were practised daily, and never once did they let us down. I do not
think that the congregation had the faintest idea that half the
elaborate anthems and Services they were listening to, though familiar
to the boys, had never been seen by the majority of the choir-men
until they came into church, and that they were being read at sight.
One particularly florid Service, much beloved by the congregation, was
known amongst the choir as "Chu Chin Chow in E flat." The organist
always managed somehow to produce a really good solo tenor, as well as
an adequate second tenor, mostly privates and bluejackets for the time
being, but professional musicians in their former life. It was a point
of honour with this scratch-choir to endeavour to maintain the very
high musical standard of the church, and I really think that we did
wonders, for we gave a very good rendering of Cornelius' beautiful but
abominably difficult eight-part unaccompanied anthem for double choir,
"Love, I give myself to thee," after twenty minutes' practice of it,
and difficult as is the music, we kept the pitch, and did not drop
one-tenth of a tone. At times, of course, the scratch-choir made
mistakes, and then the organ crashed out and drowned us. The
congregation imagined that the organist was merely showing off the
power and variety of tone of his instrument; we knew better, and
understood that this blare was to veil our blunder. It was really
absorbingly interesting work. During Lent we sang, unaccompanied,
Palestrina and Vittoria, and this sixteenth-century polyphonic music
requires singing with such exactitude that it needs the utmost
concentration and sustained attention, if the results are to be
satisfactory. The organist was quite pleased with his make-shift
choir; though, as a thorough musician, he was rather exacting. At
choir-practice he would say, "Very nicely sung, gentlemen, so nicely
that I want it all over again. Try and do it a little better this
time, and with greater accuracy, please." It is the custom in this
church to sing carols from a chamber up in the tower on the three
Sundays following Christmas. They are sung unaccompanied, and almost
in a whisper, and the effect in the church below is really
entrancing. To reach this tower-chamber we had to mount endless
flights of stairs to the choir-boys' dormitory, and then to clamber
over their beds, and squeeze ourselves through an opening about a foot
square (built as a fire-escape for the boys) in our surplices. After
negotiating this narrow aperture, I shall always sympathise with any
camel attempting to insinuate itself through the eye of a needle. In a
small, low-roofed chamber, where there is barely standing-room for
twenty people, it is difficult even for a highly trained choir to do
itself justice. The low roof tends to deaden the pitch, and in so
confined a space the singers cannot get into that instinctive touch
with each other which makes the difference between a good and a bad
choir; still, people in the church below told me that the effect was
lovely. On one occasion, owing to force of circumstances, it had been
impossible for the men to rehearse the carols, though the boys had
been well practised in them. We sung them at sight unaccompanied;
rather a musical feat to do satisfactorily.

I would not have missed for anything my two years' experience with
that church choir; every Sunday it was a renewed pleasure.

During 1915 and 1916 one got used to meeting familiar friends in
unfamiliar garbs, and in a certain delightful club, not a hundred
miles from Leicester Square, which I will veil under the impenetrable
disguise of the "Grill-room Club," I was not surprised to find two
well-known and popular actors, the one in a naval uniform, the other
in an airman's. I might add that the latter greatly distinguished
himself in the air during the war.

The "Grill-room" is quite a unique club. It consists of one room only,
a lofty, white-panelled hall, with an open timber roof. Nearly every
distinguished man connected with the English stage for the last forty
years has been a member of this club; Henry Irving, Charles Wyndham,
Arthur Sullivan, W. S. Gilbert, George Grossmith, Corney Grain, George
Alexander, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and Arthur Cecil are only a few of
the celebrities for whom this passing show is over, but who were
members of the club. It is unnecessary for me to give a list of the
present members; it is enough to say that it comprises every prominent
English actor of to-day.

Arthur Cecil had a delightful nature, with a marked but not unpleasant
"old-maidish" element in it. For instance, no mortal eye had ever
beheld him without a little black handbag. Wherever Arthur Cecil went
the little bag went with him. There was much speculation amongst his
friends as to what the contents of this mysterious receptacle might
be. Many people averred, in view of his notoriously large appetite,
that it was full of sandwiches, in case he should become smitten with
hunger whilst on the stage, but he would tell no one. As I knew him
exceedingly well, I begged on several occasions to have the secret of
the little black bag entrusted to me, but he always turned my question
aside. After his death, it turned out that the little bag was a fully
fitted-up medicine-chest, with remedies for use in every possible
contingency. Should he have fancied that he had caught a chill, a
tea-spoon of this; should his dressing-room feel over-hot, four drops
of that; should he encounter a bad smell, a table-spoonful of a third
mixture. Poor Cecil's interior must have been like a walking
drug-store. He was quite inimitable in eccentric character parts, his
"Graves" in _Money_ being irresistibly funny, and his "Baron Stein" in
_Diplomacy_ was one of the most finished performances we are ever
likely to see, a carefully stippled miniature, with every little detail
carefully thought out, touched up and retouched. I do not believe that
the English stage has even seen a finer _ensemble_ of acting than that
given by Kendal as "Julian Beauclerc," John Clayton as "Henry
Beauclerc," and Squire Bancroft as "Count Orloff" when the piece was
originally produced at the Hay-market, in the great "three-men" scene
in the Second Act of _Diplomacy_, the famous "Scene des trois hommes"
of Sardou's _Dora_; nothing on the French stage could beat it. Arthur
Cecil bought a splendid fur coat for his entrance as "Baron Stein," but
after the run of the piece nothing would ever induce him to wear his
fur coat, even in the coldest weather. He was obsessed with the idea
that should _Diplomacy_ ever be revived, his fur coat might grow
too shabby to be used for his first entrance, so it reposed
perpetually and uselessly in camphor. Arthur Cecil was cursed with the
Demon of Irresolution. I have never known so undecided a man; it
seemed quite impossible for him to make up his mind. Sir Squire
Bancroft has told us in his _Memoirs_ how Cecil, on the night of
the dress rehearsal of _Diplomacy_, was unable to decide on his
make-up. He used a totally different make-up in each of the three
acts, to the great bewilderment of the audience, who were quite unable
to identify the white-moustached gentleman of the First Act with the
bald-headed and grey-whiskered individual of the Second. This
irresolution pursued poor Cecil everywhere. Coming in for supper to
the "Grill-room" after his performance, he would order and
counter-order for ten minutes, absolutely unable to come to a
decision. He invariably ended by seizing a pencil, closing his eyes
tightly, and whirling his pencil round and round over the supper-list
until he brought it down at haphazard somewhere. As may be imagined,
repasts chosen in this fashion were apt to be somewhat incongruous.
After the first decision of chance, Cecil would murmur to the patient
waiter, "Some apple-tart to begin with, Charles." Then another whirl,
and "some stuffed tomatoes," a third whirl, and "salt fish and
parsnips, Charles, please. It's a thing that I positively detest, but
it has been chosen for me, so bring it." Cecil went for an annual
summer holiday to France, but as he could never decide where he should
go, the same method came into play, and with a map of France before
him, and tightly closed eyes, the whirling pencil determined his
destination for him. He assured me that it had selected some unknown
but most delightful spots for him, though at times he was less
fortunate. The pencil once lit on the mining districts of Northern
France, and Cecil with his sunny nature professed himself grateful for
this, declaring that but for the hazard of the whirling pencil, he
would never have had an opportunity of realising what unspeakably
revolting spots Saletrousur-Somme, or Saint-Andre-Linfecte were. He
was a wonderfully kind-hearted man. Once, whilst playing at the Court
Theatre, he noticed the call-boy constantly poring over a book. Cecil,
glancing over it, was surprised to find that it was not _The Boy
Highwayman of Hampstead_, but a treatise on Algebra. The call-boy
told him that he was endeavouring to educate himself, with a view to
going out to India. Cecil bought him quite a library of books, paid
for a series of classes for him, and eventually, thanks to Cecil, the
call-boy passed second in a competitive examination, and obtained a
well-paid appointment in a Calcutta Bank. Cecil, or to give him his
real name, Arthur Blount, was also an excellent musician, and his
setting of _The Better Land_ is to my mind a beautiful one. He was an
eccentric, faddy, kindly, gentle creature.

At the "Grill-room," actor-managers are constantly pouring out their
woes. One well-known actor-manager came in full of a desperate row he
had had with his leading lady because the printer in the bills of the
new production had forgotten the all-important "and" before her name.
She merely appeared at the end of the list of characters, whereas she
wanted "AND Miss Lilian Vavasour." "Such a ridiculous fuss to make
about an 'and,'" grumbled the actor-manager. "Yes," retorted
Comyns-Carr, "and unfortunately 'and and 'art do not always go
together on these occasions."

The neatest answer I ever heard came from the late Lord Houghton.
Queen Victoria's predilection for German artists was well known. She
was painted several times by Winterhalter, and after his death was
induced by the Empress Frederick to give sittings to the Viennese
artist, Professor von Angeli. Angeli's portrait of the Queen was, I
think, exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1876. Some one commenting on
this, said that it was hard that the Queen would never give an English
artist a chance; after Winterhalter it was Angeli. "Yes," said Lord
Houghton, "I fancy that the Queen agrees with Gregory the Great, and
says, 'non Angli sed Angeli.'"

Of minor neatness was an answer made to my mother by a woodman at
Baron's Court. Apparently at the time of her marriage the common
dog-wood was hardly known in England as a shrub, although in the moist
Irish climate it flourished luxuriantly. Every one is familiar with
the shrub, if only on account of its bark turning a bright crimson
with the early frosts. My mother on her first visit to Baron's Court
saw a woodman trimming the dog-wood, and inquired of him the name of
this unfamiliar red-barked shrub. On being told that it was dog-wood
she asked, "Why is it called dog-wood?" "It might be on account of its
bark," came the ready answer.

Pellegrini the caricaturist, the celebrated "Ape" of _Vanity Fair_, was
a member of the "Grill-room," as is his equally well-known successor,
Sir Leslie Ward, the "Spy" of that now defunct paper, who has drawn
almost every notability in the kingdom. Sir Leslie is, I am glad to
say, still with us. Leslie Ward has the speciality of extraordinary
accidents, accidents which could befall no human being but himself. For
instance, in pre-taxi days Ward was driving in a hansom, and the cabman
taking a wrong turn, Ward pushed up the little door in the roof to stop
him. The man bent his head down to catch his fare's directions, and
Leslie Ward inadvertently pushed three fingers right into the cabman's
mouth. The driver, hotly resenting this unwarranted liberty, bit Leslie
Ward's fingers so severely that he was unable to hold either pencil or
brush for a fortnight. This is only one example of the extraordinary
mishaps in which this gifted artist specialises.

In the recently published _Life of Herbert Beerbohm Tree_, the
collaborators do not allude to that curious vein of impish humour
which at times possessed him, turning him into a sort of big
rollicking schoolboy. There was one episode which I can give with
Tree's actual words, for I wrote them down at the time, as a supreme
example of the art of "leg-pulling." Amongst the members of the
"Grill-room Club" was an elderly bachelor, whom I will call Mr.
Smith. "Mr. Smith," who has now been dead for some years, was wholly
undistinguished in every way. He ate largely, and spoke little, but
Tree had discovered that under his placid exterior he concealed a vein
of limitless vanity. One evening "Mr. Smith" startled the club by
breaking his habitual silence, and bursting into poetry. Apropos of
nothing at all, he suddenly declaimed two lines of doggerel, which, as
far as my memory goes, ran as follows:

  "I and my doggie are now left alone,
  Johnstone, to-morrow, will give him a bone."

He then relapsed into his ordinary placid silence, and soon after went
home. Beerbohm Tree made at once a bet of 5 pounds with another member
that he would induce old Mr. Smith to repeat this rubbish lying at full
length under the dining-table, seated in the firegrate (it was
summer-time), and hidden behind the window-curtains. The story got
about until every one knew of the bet except Mr. Smith, so next night
the club was crowded. The unsuspecting Smith sat silently and placidly
ruminating, when Tree appeared after his performance at His Majesty's
and lost no time in approaching his subject. "My dear Smith," he
began, "you repeated last night two lines of poetry which moved me
strangely. The recollection of them has haunted me all day; say them
again, I beg of you." The immensely gratified Smith at once began:

  "I and my doggie are now left alone,
  Johnstone, to-morrow, will give him a bone."

"Exquisite!" murmured Tree. "Beautiful lines, and distinctly modern,
yet without the faintest trace of decadence. It is the note of implied
tragedy in them that appeals to me, for were Johnstone unfortunately
to die in the night there would, of course, be no bone for the
faithful four-footed friend. Repeat them again, please." After a
second repetition Tree went on: "You have _l'art de dire_ to an
amazing extent, Smith, and you have the priceless gift of _les
larmes dans la voix_. I know that no pecuniary inducements I might
offer would make any appeal to you; still, could I but get you to
repeat those beautiful lines on the stage of my theatre, all London
would flock to hear you. I should wish now for them to float vaguely
to my ears, as the sound of village chimes borne on the breeze; out of
the vague; out of the unknown. Ha! I have it! Would you mind, Smith,
lying under the table here, and exercising your gift as a reciter from
there. I, on my side, will put myself into a fitting frame of mind by
eschewing such grossly material things as tobacco and alcohol, and
will eat of the simple fruits of the earth. Waiter, apples, many
apples! Now, Smith, I beg of you," and Tree, munching an apple, made a
gesture of appeal, and stood on the table, a second apple in his left
hand.

"Really I," faltered Mr. Smith with a gratified smile, "really...
Well... do you mean it?" and he slid obediently under the table, and
repeated the idiotic lines. "Gorgeous! Positively gorgeous!" sighed
Tree. "Now, Smith, Bismarck once, when at the zenith of his power,
electrified an audience of German _savants_ by repeating two simple
lines of German poetry seated in the fireplace. I must emphasise the
fact that it was when he was at the very zenith of his power, for
otherwise, of course, he would have been unable to produce this effect.
I should like to see whether your touching lines would move me as
strongly coming from so unexpected a quarter. See! I will place _The
Times_ for you to sit on, the _Daily Telegraph_ for you to lean
against. Two of the most powerful organs of public opinion both equally
proud to minister to your comfort. I beg of you, Smith." "Really...
it's rather unusual... but if you want it," smirked Mr. Smith, and the
doggerel was duly repeated from the fireplace. "Now, Smith, I want
those haunting lines to reach me faintly, as from some distant ocean
cavern, or like the murmurs sea-shells whisper into the ear. Ha! the
window-curtains will muffle the sound; say it from behind them, I
pray." When this was over Tree buried his face in his hands, feigning
deep emotion, and Mr. Smith regained his place wreathed in smiles,
convinced that he had achieved an unparalleled triumph as a reciter,
but Tree had won his 5 pounds.

That gifted man Charles Brookfield was also a member of the
"Grill-room." There was a slight note of cynicism, and a touch of
bitterness in his humour, for he was quite conscious that he had not
achieved the success that his brilliant abilities seemed to promise.
It was characteristic of Brookfield that when attacked with the
tuberculosis to which he eventually succumbed, he should draw up the
prospectus and rules of the "Ninety-nine Club" (those who have ever
had their lungs tested will understand the allusion), a document in
which he gave full rein to his vein of cynical and slightly
_macabre_ humour.

Some twenty-five years ago, I and another member of the "Grill-room
Club" used occasionally to "walk-on" in the great autumn Drury Lane
melodramas. We knew the manager well, and upon sending in our cards to
him, we could figure as guests at a ball, or as two of the crowd on a
racecourse. I liked seeing the blurred outlines of the vast audience
over the dazzling glare of the footlights, and the details of the
production of these complicated spectacular pieces amused me when seen
from the stage. In one of these melodramas, I think the _Derby
Winner_, there was a spirited auction scene on the stage, when
Mrs. John Wood bid 30,000 pounds for a horse. I had an almost
irresistible impulse to over-bid her and to shout "forty thousand
pounds." Mrs. John Wood would have proved, I am sure, equal to the
emergency, and would have got the better of me. Between us, we should
probably have run the horse up to a quarter of a million, and the
consternation of the rest of the company would have been very amusing
to witness, but it would not have been quite fair on our friend the
manager, so I refrained.

A great-nephew of mine, then an Eton boy of fifteen, had heard of
these experiences and longed to share them; so, with the manager's
consent, I took him "on" the first day of his holidays. He was one of
the crowd at an imaginary Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, cheering for
all he was worth, when he suddenly saw four of his Eton friends
sitting together in the front row of the stalls, and nodded to them.
The astonishment of these youths at seeing the boy they had travelled
up with that morning, moving about the stage of Drury Lane Theatre as
though he were quite at home there, was most comical. They gaped
round-eyed, refusing to believe the evidence of their senses.

I believe that the appeal of the theatre is simply due to the fact
that the majority of human beings retain the child's love of
"make-believe" but are too unimaginative to create a dream-world for
themselves. Having lost the child's power of creation, a more
material dream-world has to be elaborately constructed for them, with
every adjunct that can heighten the sense of illusion, an element the
unimaginative are unable to supply for themselves. They require all
their "i's" carefully dotted and their "t's" elaborately crossed; so
they love "real water" on the stage, and "real leaves" falling in a
forest scene, and genuine taxi-cabs rumbling about the stage so
realistically that no strain need be put on their imagination.

At the age of seven or eight I came to the conclusion that one would
go through life shedding illusions as trees shed their leaves in
November. I had an illustrated _History of England_ which contained a
picture of knights tilting; splendid beings all in armour, with plumes
waving from their helmets, seated on armoured horses and brandishing
gigantic lances. I asked my governess whether there were any knights
left. She, an excellent but most matter-of-fact lady, assured me that
there were plenty of knights still about, after which I never ceased
pestering her to show me one. One day she delighted me by saying, "You
want to see a knight, dear. There is one coming to see your father at
twelve o'clock to-day, and you may stand on the staircase and see him
arrive." This was an absolutely thrilling episode! One of these
glorious creatures of Romance was actually coming to our house that
day! I may add that my mother was unwell at the time, and that the
celebrated doctor Sir William Jenner, who had then been recently
knighted, had been called in for a consultation. At Chesterfield House
there is a very fine double flight of white marble stairs, and, long
before twelve, wild with excitement, I took my stand at the top of it.
How this magnificent being's armour would clank on the marble! Would he
wear a thing like a saucepan on his head, with a little gate in front
to peep through? It would be rather alarming, but the waving plumes
would look nice. Supposing that he spoke to me, how was I to address
him? Perhaps "Grammercy, Sir Knight!" would do. I was rather hazy as to
its meaning, but it sounded well. It might also be polite to inquire
how many maidens in distress the knight had rescued recently. Would he
carry his lance upstairs and leave it outside my father's door? If so,
I could play with it, and perhaps tilt at the footman with it. Would he
leave his prancing charger in the courtyard in the care of his esquire?
The possibilities were really endless. Presently our family doctor came
upstairs with another gentleman, and they went into my father's room. I
said "Good-morning" to our own doctor, but scarcely noticed the
stranger, for I was straining my ears to catch the first clank of the
knight's armour on the marble pavement of the hall below. Time went on;
our doctor and the stranger reappeared and went downstairs, and still
no knight arrived. At last I went back to my governess and told her
that the knight must have forgotten, for he had never come. I could
have cried with disappointment when told that the frock-coated stranger
was the knight. That a knight! Without armour, or plumes, or lance, or
charger! To console me for my disappointment I was allowed to see my
father in his full robes as a Knight of the Garter before he left for
some ceremony of the Order. This was the first intimation I had
received that we could include a knight in our own family circle. My
father's blue velvet mantle was imposing, and he certainly had plumes;
but to my great chagrin he was not wearing one single scrap of armour,
had no iron saucepan on his head, and was not even carrying a gigantic
lance. It seemed to be the same with everything else. In my
illustrated _History_ there was a picture of the Barons forcing
King John to sign Magna Charta at Runnymede. They had beards, and wore
long velvet dressing-gowns, with lovely, long, pointed shoes, and
carried swords nearly as big as themselves. I asked my governess if
there were any barons left, and she told me that Lord B----, a great
friend of my family's, was a baron. This was dreadful. Lord B---- was
dressed like any one else, had no beard, and instead of beautiful long
shoes shaped like toothpicks, with flapping, pointed toes, he had
ordinary everyday boots. He never wore a velvet dressing-gown or
carried a big sword, and no one could possibly imagine him as coercing
King John, or indeed any one else, to do anything they did not want to
do. I asked to see a noble; I was told that I met them every day at
luncheon. Like all properly constituted boys I longed to live on an
island. I was told that I already enjoyed that privilege. It really
was a most disappointing world!

To remedy this state of things, and as a protest against the prosaic
age in which we lived, my youngest brother and I devised some strictly
private dramas. One dealing with the adventures of Sir Alphonso and
the lovely Lady Leonora lingers in my memory, and I recall every word
of the dialogue. This latter was peculiar, for we had an idea that to
be archaic all personal pronouns had to be omitted. Part of it, I
remember, ran, "Dost love me, Leonora?" "Do." "Wilt fly with me?"
"Will." "Art frightened, fair one?" "Am." Everything in this thrilling
drama led up to the discovery of the hidden treasure which the
far-seeing Sir Alphonso had prudently buried in the garden in case of
emergencies. Treasure had, of course, to consist of gold, silver, and
coin. Some one had given me a tiny gold whistle; though small, it was
unquestionably of gold, and my brother was the proud possessor of a
silver pencil-case. These unfortunate objects must have been buried
and disinterred countless times in company with a French franc-piece.
To the eye of faith the whistle and the pencil-case became gleaming
ingots of gold and silver, and the solitary franc transformed itself
into iron-bound chests gorged with ducats, doubloons, or
pieces-of-eight: the last having a peculiarly attractive and romantic
sound.

In such fashion did we make our juvenile protest against the
drab-coloured age into which we had been born.




CHAPTER XI

Dislike of the elderly to change--Some legitimate grounds of
complaint--Modern pronunciation of Latin--How a European crisis was
averted by the old-fashioned method--Lord Dufferin's Latin
speech--Schoolboy costume of a hundred years ago--Discomforts of
travel in my youth--A crack liner of the "eighties"--Old travelling
carriages--An election incident--Headlong rush of extraordinary
turnout--The politically minded signalman and the doubtful
voter--"Decent bodies"--Confidence in the future--Conclusion.


To point out that elderly people dislike change is to assert the most
obvious of truisms. Their three-score years of experience have taught
them that all changes are not necessarily changes for the better, as
youth fondly imagines; and that experiments are not invariably
successful. They have also learnt that no amount of talk will alter
hard facts, and that the law that effect will follow cause is an
inflexible one which torrents of fluent platitudes will neither affect
nor modify. Even should this entail their being labelled with the
silly and meaningless term of "reactionary," I do not imagine that
their equanimity is much upset by it. It is, perhaps, natural for the
elderly to make disparaging comparisons between the golden past and
the neutral-tinted present; so that one shudders at reflecting what a
terrific nuisance Methuselah must have become in his old age. One can
almost hear the youth of his day whispering friendly warnings to each
other: "Avoid that old fellow like poison, for you will find him the
most desperate bore. He is for ever grousing about the rottenness of
everything nowadays compared to what it was when he was a boy nine
hundred years ago."

What applies to Methuselah may apply, in a lesser degree, to all of us
elderly people, though I think that we are justified when we lament a
noticeable decline in certain definite standards of honour which in
our day were almost universally accepted both in private and in public
life. Even then some few may have bowed the knee at the shrine of
"Monseigneur l'Argent"; but it was done almost furtively, for "people
on the make," or unblushingly "out for themselves," were less to the
fore then than now, and were most certainly less conspicuous in public
life.

We can also be forgiven for regretting a marked decline in manners.
Possibly in hurried days when every one seems to crave for excitement,
there is but little time left for those courtesies customary amongst
an older generation.

There is no need to enlarge on the immense changes the years have
brought about during my lifetime. Amongst the very minor changes, I
notice that when my great-nephews quote any Latin to me, I am unable
to understand one single syllable of it, and between ourselves I fancy
that this modern pronunciation of Latin would be equally
unintelligible to an ancient Roman.

Our old-fashioned English pronunciation of Latin may have been
illogical, but on one occasion it helped to avert a European war. The
late Count Benckendorff, the last Russian Ambassador to the Court of
St. James's, a singularly fascinating man, was protocolist to the
Congress of Berlin in 1878, and as such was present at every sitting
of the Congress. He told me that at one meeting of the
Plenipotentiaries, Prince Gortschakoff announced that Russia, in
direct contravention of Article XIII of the Treaty of Paris of 1856,
intended to fortify the port of Batoum. This was expressly forbidden
by the Treaty of Paris, so Lord Beaconsfield rose from his chair and
said quietly, "Casus belli," _only_ he pronounced the Latin words
in the English fashion, and Count Benckendorff assured me that no one
present, with the exception of the British delegates, had the glimmer
of an idea of what he was talking about. They imagined that he was
making some remark in English to Lord Salisbury, and took no notice of
it whatever. Lord Salisbury whispered to his colleague, and ultimately
Prince Gortschakoff withdrew the claim to fortify Batoum. "But," added
Count Benckendorff, "just imagine the consternation of the Congress
had Lord Beaconsfield hurled his ultimatum to Russia with the
continental pronunciation 'cahsous bellee!'" Just picture the breaking
up of the Congress, the frantic telegrams, the shrieking headlines,
the general consternation, and the terrific results that might have
followed! And all these tremendous possibilities were averted by our
old-fashioned English pronunciation of Latin!

My old Chief and godfather, the late Lord Dufferin, in his most
amusing _Letters From High Latitudes_, recounts how he was
entertained at a public dinner at Rejkjavik in Iceland by the Danish
Governor. To his horror Lord Dufferin found that he was expected to
make a speech, and his hosts asked him to speak either in Danish or in
Latin. Lord Dufferin, not knowing one word of Danish, hastily
reassembled his rusty remnants of Latin, and began, "Insolitus ut sum
ad publicum loquendum," and in proposing the Governor's health, begged
his audience, amidst enthusiastic cheers, to drink it with a "haustu
longo, haustu forti, simul atque haustu."

Such are the advantages of a classical education!

My younger relatives, who naturally look upon me as being of almost
antediluvian age, sometimes ask me to describe the discomforts of an
all-night coach journey in my youth, or inquire how many days we
occupied in travelling from, say, London to Edinburgh. They are
obviously sceptical when I assure them that my memory does not extend
to pre-railway days. I am surprised that they do not ask me for a few
interesting details of occasions when we were stopped by masked
highwaymen on Hounslow Heath in the course of our journeys.

My father told me that when he first went to Harrow in September,
1823, at the age of twelve, he rode all the way from London, followed
by a servant carrying his portmanteau on a second horse. My father's
dress sounds curious to modern ears. Below a jacket and one of the big
flapping collars of the period, he wore a waistcoat of crimson
cut-velvet with gold buttons, a pair of skin-tight pantaloons of green
tartan with Hessian boots to the knee, further adorned with large
brass spurs with brass chains. A schoolboy of twelve would excite some
comment were he to appear dressed like that to-day, though my father
assured me that he could run in his Hessian boots and spurs as fast as
any of his school-fellows.

Though my recollections may not go back to pre-railway days, the
conditions under which we travelled in my youth would be thought
intolerable now. No sleeping- or dining-cars, long night-journeys in
unheated, dimly lit carriages devoid of any kind of convenience, and
sea-passages in small, ill-equipped steamers. All these were accepted
as a matter of course, and as inevitable incidents of travel.

The first long-distance voyage I ever made was just forty years ago,
and I should like people who grumble at the accommodation provided in
one of the huge modern liners to see the arrangements thought good
enough for passengers in 1882. Our ship, the _Britannia_ of the
Pacific Steam Navigation Co., was just over 4,000 tons, and we
passengers congratulated each other loudly on our good fortune in
travelling in so fast and splendid a vessel. The _Britannia_ had
no deck-houses, the uncarpeted, undecorated saloon was the only place
in which to sit, and its furniture consisted of long tables with
swinging racks over them, flanked by benches. This sumptuous apartment
was illuminated at night by no less than forty candles, a source of
immense pride of the chief steward. The sleeping-cabins for a six
weeks' voyage were smaller and less comfortably fitted than those at
present provided for the three hours' trip between Holyhead and
Kingstown; at night one dim oil-lamp glimmered in a ground-glass case
fixed between two cabins, but only up to 10.30 p.m., after which the
ship was plunged into total darkness. As it was before the days of
refrigerators, the fore part of the deck was devoted to live stock.
Pigs grunted in one pen, sheep bleated in another, whilst ducks
quacked and turkeys gobbled in coops on either side of them. No one
ever thought of grumbling; on the contrary, we all experienced that
stupid sense of reflected pride which passengers in a crack liner
feel, for the _Britannia_ then enjoyed a tremendous reputation in
the Pacific. Certainly, seen from the shore, the old _Britannia_
was a singularly pleasing object to the eye, with her clipper bows,
the graceful curve of her sheer, and the beautiful lines of her low
hull unbroken by any deck-houses or top-hamper.

The traveller of to-day is more fortunate; he expects and finds in a
modern liner all the comforts he would enjoy in a first-class hotel
ashore; and finds them too in a lesser degree on railway journeys.

The long continental tours of my father and mother in the early days
of their married life, were all made by road in their own carriages,
and as their family increased they took their elder children with them
in their wanderings, so what with children, nurses and servants, they
travelled with quite a retinue.

I think that my father must have had a sentimental attachment for the
old travelling carriages which had taken him and his family in safety
over one-half of Europe, for he never parted with them, and various
ancient vehicles reposed in our coach-houses, both in England and
Ireland. The workmanship of these old carriages was so excellent that
some of them, repainted and re-varnished, were still used for
station-work in the country. There was in particular one venerable
vehicle known as the "Travelling Clarence," which remained in constant
use for more than sixty years after its birth. This carriage must have
had painful associations for my elder brothers and sisters, for they
travelled in it on my parents' continental tours. My mother always
complimented their nurse on the extraordinarily tidy appearance the
children presented after they had been twelve hours or more on the
road; she little knew that the nurse carried a cane, and that any
child who fidgeted ever so slightly at once received two smart cuts on
the hand from this cane, so that their ultra-neat appearance on
arriving at their destination was achieved rather painfully. This
Clarence was an unusually comfortable and easy-rolling carriage; it
hung on Cee springs, and was far more heavily padded than a modern
vehicle; it had vast pockets arranged round its capacious grey
interior, and curious little circular pillows for the head were
suspended by cords from its roof. On account of its comfort it was
much used in its old age for station-work in Ireland. Should that old
carriage have had any feelings, I can thoroughly sympathise with them.
Dreaming away in its coach-house over its varied past, it must have
remembered the vine-clad hills through which it had once rolled on the
banks of the swift-flowing, green Rhone. It cannot have forgotten the
orange groves and olives of sunny Provence overhanging the deep-blue
Mediterranean, the plains of Northern Italy where the vines were
festooned from tree to tree, the mountains and clear streams of the
Tyrol, or the sleepy old Belgian cities melodious with the clash of
many bells. Each time that it was rolled out of its coach-house I
imagine that every fibre in its antique frame must have vibrated at
the thought that now it was to re-commence its wanderings. Conscious
though the old carriage doubtless was that its springs were less
lissom than they used to be, and that the axles which formerly ran so
smoothly now creaked alarmingly, and sent sharp twinges quivering
through its body, it must have felt confident that it could still
accomplish what it had done fifty years earlier. I feel certain that
it started full of expectations, as it felt itself guided along the
familiar road which followed the windings of the lake, with the high
wooded banks towering over it, and then along a mile of highroad
between dense plantations of spruce and Scotch fir, until the
treeless, stonewalled open country of Northern Ireland was reached.
The hopes of the old carriage must have risen high as the houses of
the little town came into view; first one-storied, white-washed and
thatched; then two-storied, white-washed and slated, all alike lying
under a blue canopy of fragrant peat smoke. The turn to the right was
the Dublin road, the road which ultimately led to the sea, and to a
curious heaving contrivance which somehow led over angry waters to new
and sunnier lands. No; the guiding hands directed its course to the
left, down the brae, and along the over-familiar road to the station.
The old Clarence must have recognised with a sigh that its roaming
days were definitely over, and that henceforth, as long as its
creaking axles and stiffening springs held together, it could only
look forward to an uneventful life of monotonous routine in a cold,
grey Northern land; and, between ourselves, these feelings are not
confined to superannuated carriages.

The old Clarence had one splendid final adventure before it fell to
pieces from old age. At the 1892 Election I was the Unionist candidate
for North Tyrone. In the North of Ireland political lines of
demarcation are drawn sharply and definitely. People are either on one
side or the other. I was quite aware that to win the seat I should
have to poll every available vote. On the polling day I spent the
whole day in going round the constituency and was consequently away
from home. Late in the afternoon a messenger arrived at Baron's Court
announcing that an elderly farmer, who lived six miles off and had
lost the use of his legs, had been forgotten. As, owing to his
infirmity, he was unable to sit on a jaunting-car, it had been
arranged that a carriage should be sent for him, but this had not been
done. The old man was most anxious to vote, but could only do so were
a carriage sent for him, and in less than two hours the poll would
close. My brother Ernest, and my sister-in-law, the present Dowager
Duchess of Abercorn, were at home, and realising the vital importance
of every vote, they went at once up to the stables, only to find that
every available man, horse, or vehicle was already out, conveying
voters to the poll. The stables were deserted. The Duchess recollected
the comfortable old Clarence, and she and my brother together rolled
it out into the yard, but a carriage without horses is rather useless,
and there was not one single horse left in the stalls. My brother
rushed off to see if he could find anything with four legs capable of
dragging a carriage. He was fortunate enough to discover an ancient
Clydesdale cart-mare in some adjacent farm buildings, but she was the
solitary tenant of the stalls. He noticed, however, a three-year-old
filly grazing in the park, and, with the aid of a sieve of oats and a
halter, he at length succeeded in catching her, leading his two
captives triumphantly back to the stable-yard. Now came a fresh
difficulty. Every single set of harness was in use, and the
harness-room was bare. The Duchess had a sudden inspiration. Over the
fireplace in the harness-room, displayed in a glass show-case, was a
set of State harness which my father had had specially made for great
occasions in Dublin: gorgeous trappings of crimson and silver, heavy
with bullion. The Duchess hurried off for the key, and with my
brother's help harnessed the astounded mare and the filly, and then
put them to. The filly, unlike the majority of the young of her sex,
had apparently no love for the pomps and vanities of the world, and
manifested her dislike of the splendours with which she was
tricked-out by kicking furiously. The unclipped, ungroomed
farm-horses, bedizened with crimson and silver, must have felt rather
like a navvy in his working clothes who should suddenly find himself
decked-out with the blue velvet mantle of a Knight of the Garter over
his corduroys. The Duchess proposed fetching the old farmer herself,
so she climbed to the box-seat and gathered the reins into her hands,
but on being reminded by my brother that time was running short, and
that the cart-horses would require a good deal of persuasion before
they could be induced to accelerate their customary sober walk, she
relinquished her place to him. Off they went, the filly still kicking
frantically, the old Clydesdale mare, glittering with crimson and
silver, uncertain as to whether she was dragging a plough or hauling
the King in his State coach to the Opening of Parliament at
Westminster. Once on the level the indignant animals felt themselves
lashed into an unaccustomed gallop; they lumbered along at a clumsy
canter, shaking the solid ground as they pounded it with their heavy
feet, the ancient Clarence, enchanted at this last rollicking
adventure, swaying and rolling behind them like a boat in a heavy sea.
This extraordinary-looking turn-out continued its headlong course over
bog-roads and through rough country lanes, to the astonishment of the
inhabitants, till the lame farmer's house was reached. He was
carefully lifted into the carriage, conveyed to the polling-place, and
recorded his vote at 7.54 p.m., with just six minutes to spare before
the poll closed. As it turned out I won the seat by fifty-six votes,
so this rapid journey was really superfluous, but we all thought that
it would be a much closer thing.

In the North of Ireland where majorities, one way or the other, are
often very narrow, electioneering has been raised almost to a fine
art. A nephew of mine was the Unionist candidate for a certain city in
the North of Ireland during the 1911 election. Here again it was
certain that his majority could only be a very small one, and as is
the custom in Ulster every individual vote was carefully attended to.
One man, though a nominal supporter, was notoriously very shaky in his
allegiance. He was a railway guard and left the city daily on the 7.30
a.m. train, before the poll would open, returning by the fast train
from Dublin due at 7.40 p.m. He would thus on the polling day have had
ample time in which to record his vote. The change in his political
views was so well known that my nephew's Election Committee had
written off his vote as a hostile one, but they had reckoned without
the railway signalman. This signalman was a most ardent political
partisan and a strong adherent of my nephew's, and he was determined
to leave nothing to chance. Knowing perfectly how the land lay, he was
resolved to give the dubious guard no opportunity of recording a
possibly hostile vote, so, on his own initiative, he put his signals
against the Dublin train and kept her waiting for twenty-two minutes,
to the bewilderment of the passengers, until the striking of the
clocks announced the closing of the poll. Then he released her, and
the train rolled into the terminus at 8.5 p.m., so I fear that the
guard was unable to record his vote, hostile or otherwise. I think
that this is an example of _finesse_ in electioneering which would
never have occurred to an Englishman. My nephew won the seat by over
fifty votes.

I have again exceeded the space allotted to me, and am reminded by a
ruthless publisher of the present high cost of production.

We have strayed together through many lands, and should the pictures
of these be dull or incomplete, I can but tender my apologies. I am
quite conscious, too, that I have taken full advantage of the
privilege which I claimed in the first chapter, and that I have at
times wandered wide from the track which I was following. I must plead
in extenuation that the interminable straight roads of France seem to
me less interesting than the winding country lanes of England.
Indeed, I am unable to conceive of any one walking for pleasure along
the endless vistas of the French poplar-bordered highways, where every
objective is clearly visible for miles ahead; it is the English
meandering by-roads, with their twists and turns, their unexpected and
intimate glimpses into rural life, their variety and surprises, which
tempt the pedestrian on and on. We may accept Euclid's dictum that a
straight line is the shortest road between two points; a wandering
line, if longer, is surely as a rule the more interesting.

A Scottish clerical friend of mine, the minister of a large parish in
the South of Scotland, told me that there were just two categories of
people in the world, "decent bodies" and the reverse, and that the
result of his seventy years' experience of this world was that the
"decent bodies" largely predominated.

Although I am unable to claim quite as many years as my friend the old
minister, my experience coincides with his, the "decent bodies" are in
a great majority, I have met them everywhere amongst all classes, and
in every part of the world, and their skins are not always white.

They may not be conspicuously to the fore, for the "decent bodies" are
not given to self-advertisement. They have no love for the limelight,
and would be distinctly annoyed should their advent be heralded with a
flourish of trumpets. In the garden-borders the mignonette is a very
inconspicuous little plant, and passes almost unnoticed beside the
flaunting gaudiness of the dahlia or the showy spikes of the
hollyhock, yet it is from that modest, low-growing, grey-green flower
that comes the sweetness that perfumes the whole air, for the most
optimistic person would hardly expect fragrance from dahlias or
hollyhocks. They have their uses; they are showy, decorative and
aspiring, but they do not scent the garden.

Between 1914 and 1918 I, in common with most people, came across
countless hundreds of "decent bodies," many of them wearing V.A.D.
nurse's uniforms. These little women did not put on their nurse's
uniform merely to pose before a camera with elaborately made-up eyes
and a carefully studied sympathetic expression, to return to ordinary
fashionable attire at once afterwards. They scrubbed floors, and
carried heavy weights, and worked till they nearly dropped, week after
week, month after month, and year after year, but they were never too
tired to whisper an encouraging word, or render some small service to
a suffering lad. I wonder how many thousands of these lads owe their
lives to those quiet, unassuming, patient little "decent bodies" in
blue linen, and to the element of human sympathy which they supplied.
And what of the occupants of the hospital beds themselves? We all
know the splendid record of sufferings patiently borne, of indomitable
courage and cheerfulness, and of countless little acts of
thoughtfulness and consideration for others in a worse plight even
than themselves. Who, after having had that experience, can falter in
their belief that the "decent bodies" are in a majority?

I know many people looking forward to the future with gloom and
apprehension. I do not share their views. For the moment the more
blatant elements in the community are unquestionably monopolising the
stage and focussing attention on themselves, but I know that behind
them are the vast unseen armies of the "decent bodies," who will
assert themselves when the time comes.

These "decent bodies" are not the exclusive product of one country, of
one class, or of one sex. They are to be found "Here, There, and
Everywhere."








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