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Title: Vacation Rambles
Author: Hughes, Thomas
Language: English
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VACATION RAMBLES

By Thomas Hughes, Q.C.

Author Of ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’

Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.--Juvenal

London: Macmillan And Co.

1895

[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0009]

PREFACE

Dear C----- So you want me to hunt up and edit all the “Vacuus Viator”
 letters which my good old friends the editors of _The Spectator_ have
been kind enough to print during their long and beneficent ownership of
that famous journal! But one who has passed the Psalmist’s “Age of Man,”
 and is by no means enamoured of his own early lucubrations (so far as
he recollects them), must have more diligence and assurance than your
father to undertake such a task. But this I can do with pleasure-give
them to you to do whatever you like with them, so far as I have any
property in, or control over them.

How did they come to be written? Well, in those days we were young
married folk with a growing family, and income enough to keep a modest
house and pay our way, but none to spare for _menus plaisirs_, of
which “globe trotting” (as it is now called) in our holidays was our
favourite. So, casting about for the wherewithal to indulge our taste,
the “happy thought” came to send letters by the way to my friends at 1
Wellington Street, if they could see their way to take them at the usual
tariff for articles. They agreed, and so helped us to indulge in our
favourite pastime, and the habit once contracted has lasted all these
years.

How about the name? Well, I took it from the well-known line of Juvenal,
“Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator,” which may be freely rendered,
“The hard-up globe trotter will whistle at the highwayman”; and, I
fancy, selected it to remind ourselves cheerfully upon what slender help
from the Banking world we managed to trot cheerfully all across Europe.

I will add a family story connected with the name which greatly
delighted us at the time. One of the letters reached your grandmother
when a small boy-cousin of yours (since developed into a distinguished
“dark blue” athlete and M.A. Oxon.) was staying with her for his
holidays. He had just begun Latin, and was rather proud of his new lore,
so your grandmother asked him how he should construe “Vacuus Viator.”
 After serious thought for a minute, and not without a modest blush, he
replied, “I think, granny, it means a wandering cow”! You must make
my peace with the “M.A. Oxon.” if he should ever discover that I have
betrayed this early essay of his in classical translation.

Your loving Father,

THOS. HUGHES.

October 1895.



VACATION RAMBLES



EUROPE--1862 to 1866



Foreign parts, 14th August 1862.

Dear Mr. Editor-There are few sweeter moments in the year than those
in which one is engaged in choosing the vacation hat. No other garment
implies so much. A vista of coming idleness floats through the brain as
you stop before the hatter’s at different points in your daily walk, and
consider the last new thing in wideawakes. Then there rises before
the mind’s eye the imminent bliss of emancipation from the regulation
chimney-pot of Cockney England. Two-thirds of all pleasure reside in
anticipation and retrospect; and the anticipation of the yearly exodus
in a soft felt is amongst the least alloyed of all lookings forward to
the jaded man of business. By the way, did it ever occur to you, sir,
that herein lies the true answer to that Sphinx riddle so often asked in
vain, even of _Notes and Queries_: What is the origin of the proverb “As
mad as a hatter”? The inventor of the present hat of civilisation
was the typical hatter. There, I will not charge you anything for the
solution; but we are not to be for ever oppressed by the results of this
great insanity. Better times are in store for us, or I mistake the signs
of the times in the streets and shop windows. Beards and chimney-pots
cannot long co-exist.

I was very nearly beguiled this year by a fancy article which I saw
in several windows. The purchase would have been contrary to all my
principles, for the hat in question is a stiff one, with a low, round
crown. But its fascination consists in the system of ventilation--all
round the inside runs a row of open cells, which, in fact, keep the hat
away from the head, and let in so many currents of fresh air. You might
fill half the cells with cigars, and so save carrying a case and add
to the tastefulness of your hat at the same time, while you would get
plenty of air to keep your head cool through the remaining cells.

My principles, however, rallied in time, and I came away with a genuine
soft felt after all, with nothing but a small hole on each side for
ventilation. The soft felt is the only really catholic cover, equal to
all occasions, in which you can do anything; for instance, lie flat on
your back on sand or turf, and look straight up into the heavens--the
first thing the released Cockney rushes to do. Only once a year may it
be always all our lots to get a real taste of the true holiday feeling;
to drop down into some handy place, where no letter can find us; to
look up into the great sky, and over the laughing sea, and think about
nothing; to unstring the bow, and fairly say: “There shall no fight be
got out of us just now; so, old world, if you mean to go wrong, you may
go and be hanged!” To feel all the time that blessed assurance which
does come home to one at such times, and scarcely ever at any other,
that our falling out of the fight is not of the least consequence; that,
whatever we may do, the old world will not go wrong but right, and ever
righter--not our way, nor any other man’s way, but God’s way. A good
deal of sneering and snubbing has been wasted of late, sir (as you have
had more occasion than one to remark), on us poor folks, who will insist
on holding what we find in our Bibles; what has been so gloriously put
in other language by the great poet of our time:--

               That nothing walks with aimless feet;

                   That not one life shall be destroy’d,

                   Or cast as rubbish to the void,

               When God hath made the pile complete.

I suppose people who feel put out because we won’t believe that the
greatest part of creation is going to the bad can never in the nature of
things get hold of the true holiday feeling, so one is wasting time in
wishing it for them. However, I am getting into quite another line from
the one I meant to travel in; so shall leave speculating and push across
the Channel. There are several questions which might be suggested with
advantage to the Civil Service Examiner, to be put to the next Belgium
attachés who come before them. Why are Belgian hop-poles, on an average,
five or six feet longer than English? How does this extra length affect
the crops? The Belgians plant cabbages too, and other vegetables (even
potatoes I saw) between the rows of hops. Does it answer? All the
English hop-growers, I believe, scout the idea. I failed to discover
what wood their hop-poles are? One of my fellow-travellers, by way of
being up to everything, Informed me that they were grown in Belgium on
purpose; a fact which did not help me much. He couldn’t say exactly what
wood it was. Then a very large proportion of the female population of
Belgium spends many hours of the day, at this time of year, on its knees
in the fields; and this not only for weeding purposes, for I saw women
and girls cutting the aftermath and other light crops in this position.
Certainly, they are thus nearer their work, and save themselves
stooping; but one has a sort of prejudice against women going about
the country on all fours, like Nebuchadnezzar. Is it better for their
health? Don’t they get housemaid’s knees? But, above all, is it we or
the Belgians who don’t, know in this nineteenth century, how to make
corn shocks? In every part of England I have ever been in in harvest
time, we just make up the sheaves and then simply stand six or eight of
them together, the ears upwards, and so make our shock. But the Belgian
makes his shock of four sheaves, ears upwards, and then on the top of
these places another sheaf upside down. This crowning sheaf, which is
tied near the bottom, is spread out over the shock, to which it thus
forms a sort of makeshift thatch. One of the two methods must be
radically wrong. Does this really keep the rain out, and so prevent the
ears from growing in damp weather? I should have thought it would only
have helped to hold the wet and increase the heat. If so, don’t you
think it is really almost a _casus belli?_ Quin said to the elderly
gentleman in the coffee-house (after he had handed him the mustard for
the third time in vain), dashing his hand down on the table, “D------
you, sir, you shall eat mustard with your ham!” and so we might say to
the Belgians if they are wrong, “You shall make your shocks properly.”
 Fancy two highly civilised nations having gone on these thousand years
side by side, growing corn and eating bread without finding out which is
the right way to make corn shocks.



Bonn, 22nd August 1862.

I am sitting at a table some forty feet long, from which most of
the guests have retired. The few left are smoking and talking
gesticulatingly. I am drinking during the intervals of writing to you,
sir, a beverage composed of a half flask of white wine, a bottle of
seltzer water, and a lump of sugar (if you can get one of ice to add it
will improve the mixture). I take it for granted that you despise the
Rhine, like most Englishmen, but, sir, I submit that a land where one
can get the above potation for a fraction over what one would pay for a
pot of beer in England, and can, moreover, get the weather which makes
such a drink deliciously refreshing, is not to be lightly thought of.
But I am not going into a rhapsody on the Rhine, though I can strongly
recommend my drink to all economically disposed travellers.

All I hope to do, is, to gossip with you, as I move along; and as my
road lay up the Rhine, you must take that with the rest.

Our first halt on the river was at Bonn. A university town is always
interesting, and this one more than most other foreign ones, as the
place where Prince Albert’s education was begun, and where Bunsen ended
his life. I made an effort to get to his grave, which I was told was
in a cemetery near the town, but could not find it. I hope it will long
remain an object of interest to Englishmen after the generation who knew
him has passed away. There is no one to whom we have done more scanty
justice, and that unlucky and most unfair essay of W------‘s is
the crowning injustice of all. I am not going into his merits as
a statesman, theologian, or antiquary, which, indeed, I am wholly
incompetent to criticise. The only book of his I ever seriously tried
to master, his _Church of the Future_, entirely floored me. But the
wonderful depth of his sympathy and insight!--how he would listen to and
counsel any man, whether he were bent on discovering the exact shape of
the buckle worn by some tribe which disappeared before the Deluge, or
upon regenerating the world after the newest nineteenth century pattern,
or anything between the two--we may wait a long time before we see
anything like it again in a man of his position and learning. And what a
place he filled in English society! I believe fine ladies grumbled
about “the sort of people” they met at those great gatherings at Carlton
Terrace, but they all went, and, what was more to the purpose, all
the foremost men and women of the day went, and were seen and heard of
hundreds of young men of all nations and callings; and their wives,
if they had any, were asked by Bunsen on the most thoroughly catholic
principles. And if any man or woman seemed ill at ease, they would find
him by their side in a minute, leading them into the balcony, if the
night were fine, and pointing out, as he specially loved to do, the
contrast of the views up Waterloo Place on the one hand, and across the
Green Park to the Abbey and the Houses, on the other, or in some other
way setting them at their ease again with a tact as wise and subtle
as his learning. But I am getting far from the Rhine, I see, and the
University of Bonn. Of course I studied the titles of the books exposed
for sale in the windows of the booksellers, and the result, as regards
English literature, was far from satisfactory. We were represented in
the shop of the Parker and Son of Bonn, by one vol. of Scott’s _Poems_;
the puff card of the London Society, with a Millais drawing of a young
man and woman thereupon, and nothing more; but, by way of compensation
I suppose, a book with a gaudy cover was put in a prominent place,
and titled _Tag und Nacht in London_, by Julius Rodenburg. There was
a double picture on the cover: above, a street scene, comprising an
elaborate equipage with two flunkeys behind, a hansom, figures of
Highlanders, girls, blind beggars, etc., and men carrying advertisements
of “Samuel Brothers,” and “Cremorne Gardens”; while in the lower
compartment was an underground scene of a policeman flashing his bull’s
eye on groups of crouching folks; altogether a loathsome kind of book
for one to find doing duty as the representative book of one’s country
with young Germany. I was a little consoled by seeing a randan named
_The Lorelei_ lying by the bank, which, though not an outrigger, would
not have disgraced any building yard at Lambeth or at Oxford. Very
likely it came out of one of them, by the way. But let us hope it is the
first step towards the introduction of rowing at Bonn, and that in a few
years Oxford and Cambridge may make up crews to go and beat Bonn,
and all the other German Universities, and a New England crew from
Cambridge, Massachusetts. What a course that reach of the Rhine at Bonn
would make! No boat’s length to be gained by the toss for choice of
sides, as at Henley or Putney; no Berkshire or Middlesex shore to be
paid for. A good eight-oar race would teach young Germany more of young
England than any amount of perusal of _Tag und Nacht_, I take it. I
confess myself to a strong sentimental feeling about Rolandseck. The
story of Roland the Brave is, after all, one of the most touching of all
human stories, though tourists who drop their H’s may be hurrying under
his tower every day in cheap steamers; and it is one of a group of
the most characteristic stories of the age of chivalry, all having a
connecting link at Roncesvalles. What other battle carries one into
three such groups of romance as this of Roland, the grim tragedy
of Bernard del Carpio and his dear father, and that of the peerless
Durandarté? When I was a boy there were ballads on all these subjects
which were very popular, but are nearly forgotten by this time. I used
to have great trouble to preserve a serene front, I know, whenever I
heard one of them well sung, especially that of “Durandarté” (by Monk
Lewis), I believe. Ay, and after the lapse of many years I scarcely know
where to go for the beau ideal of knighthood summed up in a few words
better than to that same ballad:

               Kind in manners, fair in favour,

                   Mild in temper, fierce in fight,--

               Warrior purer, gentler, braver,

                   Never shall behold the light.

But much as I prize Rolandseck for its memories of chivalric constancy
and tenderness, Mayence is my favourite place on the Rhine, as the
birthplace of Gutenburg, the adopted home, and centre of the work of our
great countryman, St. Boniface, and the most fully peopled and stirring
town of modern Rhineland. We had only an hour to spend there, so I
sallied at once into the town to search for Gutenburg’s house--the third
time I have started on the same errand, and with the same result. I
didn’t find it. But there it is; at least the guide-books say so. In
vain did I beseechingly appeal to German after German, man, woman, and
maid, “Wo ist das Haus von Gutenburg--das Haus wo Gutenburg wohnte?” I
got either a blank stare, convincing me of the annoying fact that not a
word I said was understood, or directions to the statue, which I knew as
well as any of them. At last I fell upon a young priest, and, accosting
him in French, got some light out of him. He offered to take me part of
the way, and as we walked side by side, suddenly turned to me with an
air of pleased astonishment, and said, “You admire Gutenburg, then?” To
which I replied, “Father!” Why, sir, how in the world should you and I,
and thousands more indifferent modern Englishmen, not to mention those
of all other nations, get our bread but for him and his pupil Caxton?
However, the young priest could only take me to within two streets, and
then went on his way, leaving me with express directions, in trying to
follow which I fell speedily upon a German fair. I am inclined to think
that there are no boys in Germany, and that, if there were, there would
be nothing for them to do; but for children there is no such place. This
fair at Mayence was a perfect little paradise for children. Think of our
wretched merry-go-rounds, sir, with nothing but some six or eight
stupid hobby-horses revolving on bare poles, and then imagine such
merry-go-rounds as those of Mayence fair. They look like large umbrella
tents ornamented with gay flags and facetious paintings outside, and
hung within, round the central post which supports the whole, with
mirrors, flags, bells, pictures, and bright coloured drapery. Half
concealed by the red or blue drapery, is the proprietor of the
establishment, who grinds famous tunes on a first-rate barrel organ when
the merry-go-round is set going, and keeps an eye on his juvenile fares.
The whole is turned by a pony or by machinery. Then, for mounts, the
children have choice of some thirty hobby-horses, or can ride on swans
or dragons, richly caparisoned, or in easy _vis-à-vis_ seats. When the
complement of youthful riders is obtained, on a signal off goes
the barrel organ and the pony and the whole concern--pictures,
looking-glasses, bells, drapery, and all begin to revolve, with a
fascinating jingling and emphasis! and at twice the pace of any British
merry--go-round I ever saw. It is very comical to watch the gravity of
the little _Deutsch_ riders. They are of all classes, from the highly
dressed little _madchen_, down to the ragged carter-boy, with a coil
of rope over his shoulder, and no shoes, riding a gilded swan, but all
impressed with the solemnity of the occasion. But here I am running
on about fun of the fair, and missing Gutenburg’s house, as I did in
reality, finding in the midst of my staring and grinning that I had only
time to get to the boat; so with one look at Gutenburg’s statue I went
off.

The crops through all these glorious Rhine valleys right away up to
Heidelberg look splendid, particularly the herb pantagruelion, which is
more largely grown than when I was last here. Rope enough will be made
this year from hemp grown between Darmstadt and Heidelberg to hang all
the scoundrels in the world, and the honest men to boot; and the tobacco
looks magnificent. They were gathering the leaves as we passed. A
half-picked tobacco field, with the bare stumps at one end, and the
rich-leaved plants at the other, has a comically forlorn look.

Heidelberg I thought more beautiful than ever; and since I had been
there a very fine hotel, one of the best I have ever been in, has been
built close to the station, with a glass gallery 100 feet long, and
more, adjoining the “Speisesaal,” in which you may gastronomise to your
heart’s content, at the most moderate figure. Here we bid adieu to the
Rhineland.



Munich, 29th August 1862.

A bird’s-eye view of any country must always be unsatisfactory. Still
it is better than nothing, and in the absence of a human view, one may
be thankful for it. My view of Wurtemberg was of the most bird’s-eye
kind. The first thing that strikes one is the absence of all fences
except in the immediate neighbourhood of towns. Even the railway has no
fence, except for a few yards where a road crosses the line, and here
and there a hedge of acacia, or barberry bushes (the berries were
hanging red ripe on the latter), which are very pretty, but would not in
any place keep out a seriously-minded cow or pig.

Wurtemberg is addicted to the cultivation of crops which minister to
man’s luxuries rather than to his necessities. The proportion of land
under fruit, poppies, tobacco, and hops, to that under corn, was very
striking. There was a splendid hemp crop here also. They were gathering
the poppy-heads, as we passed, into sacks. The women and girls both here
and in Bavaria seem to do three-fourths of the agricultural work; the
harder, such as reaping and mowing, as well as the lighter. The beds of
peat are magnificent, and very neatly managed. At first I thought we
had entered enormous black brick-fields, for the peat is cut into small
brick-shaped pieces, and stacked in rows, just as one sees in the best
managed of our brick-fields. As one nears Stuttgart the village churches
begin to show signs of the difference in longitude. Gothic spires and
arches give place to Eastern clock-towers, with tops like the cupolas of
mosques, tinned over, and glittering in the hot sun. I hear that it
was a fancy of the late Emperor Joseph to copy the old enemies of his
country in architecture; but that would not account for the prevalence
of the habit in his neighbour’s territory. I fancy one begins to feel
the old neighbourhood of the Turks in these parts. The houses are all
roomy, and there is no sign of poverty amongst the people. They have a
fancy for wearing no shoes and scant petticoats in many districts; but
it is evidently a matter of choice. Altogether, the whole fine, open,
well-wooded country, from Bruchsal to Munich, gives one the feeling that
an easy-going, well-to-do people inhabit and enjoy it.

As for Munich itself, it is a city which surprised me more pleasantly
than almost any one I ever remember to have entered. One had a sort of
vague notion that the late king had a taste for the fine arts, and spent
a good deal of his own and his subjects’ money in indulging the taste
aforesaid in his capital. But one also knew that he had been tyrannised
over by Lola Montes, and had made a countess of her--and had not
succeeded in weathering 1848; so that, on the whole, one had no great
belief in any good work from such a ruler.

Munich gives one a higher notion of the ex-king; as long as the city
stands, he will have left his mark on it. On every side there are
magnificent new streets, and public buildings and statues; the railway
terminus is the finest I have ever seen; every church, from the
Cathedral downwards, is in beautiful order, and highly decorated; and it
is not only in the public buildings that one meets with the evidences of
care and taste. The hotel in which we stayed, for instance, is built of
brick, covered with some sort of cement, which gives it the appearance
of terra-cotta, and is for colour the most fascinating building
material. The ceilings and cornices of the rooms are all carefully
and tastefully painted, and all about the town one sees frescoes and
ornamentation of all kinds, which show that the people delight in seeing
their city look bright and gay; and every one admits that all this is
due to the ex-king Lewis. But he has another claim on the gratitude
of the good folk of Munich. The Bavarians were given to beer above all
other people, and the people of Munich above all other Bavarians, long
before he came to the throne; and former kings, availing themselves of
the national taste, had established a “Hof-Breihaus,” where the monarch
sold the national beverage to his people. King Lewis found the
character of the royal beer not what it should be, and the rest of
the metropolitan brewers were also falling away into evil ways of
adulterating and drugging. He reformed the “Hof-Breihaus,” so that for
many years nothing but the soundest possible beer was brewed there,
which is sold to the buyers and yet cheaper than in any other house in
Munich. The public taste has been thus so highly educated that there
is no selling unwholesome beer now. A young artist took me to this
celebrated tap. Unluckily it was a wet evening, so we had to sit at one
of the tables, under a long line of sheds, instead of in an adjacent
garden. There was a great crowd, some 300 or 400 imbibers jammed
together, of all ranks. At our table the company were the artist and
myself, a Middlesex magistrate, two privates, and a non-commissioned
officer, and a man whom I set down as a small farmer. My back rubbed
against a vociferous student, who was hobnobbing with all comers. There
were Tyrolese and other costumes about, one or two officers, and a
motley crowd of work people and other folk. The royal brew-house is in
such good repute that no trouble whatever is taken about anything but
having enough beer and a store of stone drinking-mugs, with tops to them
forthcoming. Cask after cask is brought out and tapped in the vaulted
entrance to the cellars, and a queue of expectant thirsty souls wait for
their turn. I only know as I drank it how heartily I wished that my poor
overworked brethren at home could see and taste the like. But it would
not pay any of our great brewers to devote themselves to the task of
selling really wholesome drink to the poor; and I fear the Prince of
Wales is not likely to come to the rescue. He might find easier jobs no
doubt, but none that would benefit the bodily health of his people more.
The beer is so light that it is scarcely possible to get drunk on it.
Many of the frequenters of the place sit there boosing for four or five
hours daily, and the chance visitors certainly do not spare the liquor;
but I saw no approach to drunkenness, except a good deal of loud talk.

The picture collections, which form, I believe, the great attraction
of Munich, disappointed me, especially the modern ones in the new
Pinacothek, collected by the ex-king, and to which he is constantly
adding now that he is living at his ease as a private gentleman. I
daresay that they may be very fine, but scarcely any of them bite; I
like a picture with a tooth in it--something which goes into you, and
which you can never forget, like the great picture of Nero walking
over the burning ruins of Rome, or the execution picture in the Spanish
department, or the Christian slave sleeping before the opening of
the amphitheatre, or Judas coming on the men making the cross, in the
International Exhibition. I have read no art criticism for years, so
that I do not know whether I am not talking great heresy. But, heresy
or not, I am for the right of every man to his own opinion in matters
of art, and if an inferior painting gives me real pleasure on account of
its subject, I mean to enjoy it and praise it, all the fine art critics
in Christendom notwithstanding. The pictures of the most famous places
in Greece, made since the election of the Bavarian Prince Otho to the
throne of Greece, have a special interest of their own; but apart from
these and some half dozen others, I would far sooner spend a day in our
yearly exhibition than in the new Pinacothek. The colossal bronze statue
of Bavaria is the finest thing of the kind I have ever seen; but the
most interesting sight in Munich to an Englishman must be the Church
of St. Boniface, not the exquisite colouring proportions, or the
magnificent monolithic columns of gray marble, but the frescoes, which
tell the story of the saint from the time when he knelt and prayed
by his sick father’s bed to the bringing back of his martyred body to
Mayence Cathedral. The departure of St. Boniface from Netley Abbey for
Rome, to be consecrated Apostle to the Germans, struck me as the best of
them; but, altogether, they tell very vividly the whole history of the
Englishman who has trodden most nearly in St. Paul’s footsteps. We have
reared plenty of great statesmen, poets, philosophers, soldiers, but
only this one great missionary. Yet no nation in the world has more need
of St. Bonifaces than we just now. The field is ever widening, in India,
China, Africa. We can conquer and rule, and teach the heathen to make
railways and trade, nut don’t seem to be able to get at their hearts
and consciences. One fears almost that were a St. Boniface to come, we
should only measure him by our common tests, and probably pronounce him
worthless, or a dangerous enthusiast. But one day, when men’s work shall
be tested by altogether different tests from ours of the enlightened
nineteenth century kind, it will considerably surprise some of us to see
how the order of merit will come out. We shall be likely to have to ask
concerning St. Boniface--whose name is scarcely known to one Englishman
in a hundred--and of others like him in spirit, of whom none of us have
ever heard, Who are these countrymen of ours, and whence come they? And
we shall hear the answer which St. John heard: “Isti sunt qui venerunt
ex magna tribulatione et laverunt stolas suas in sanguine Agni.” I felt
very grateful to Munich for having appreciated the great Apostle to the
Germans.

The one building in Munich which is quite unworthy of the use to which
it is put, is the English Church. The service is performed in a sort of
dry cellar, under the Odeon. We had a very small congregation, but it
was very pleasant to hear how they all joined in the responses. What a
pity it is that we are always ready to do it abroad, and shut up again
as soon as we get home. Even the singing prospered greatly, though we
had no organ. But, alas! sir, the Colonial Church Society have done
their best to spoil this part of our service abroad. They seem to
have accepted from the editor as a gift, the stereotyped plates of a
hymn-book, copies of which were placed about in the Munich church, and,
I daresay, may be found all over the Continent. The editor has thought
it desirable to improve our classical hymns. Conceive the following
substitution for Bishop Ken’s “Let all thy converse be sincere”--

                   In conversation be sincere;

               Make conscience as the noon-day clear:

                   Think how th’ all-seeing God thy ways

                   And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

This is only a fair specimen of the book. Surely the Colonial Church
Society had better hastily return the stereotype plates with thanks.



The Tyrol, 2nd September 1862.

Next to meeting an old friend by accident, there is nothing more
pleasant than coming in long vacation on some flower or shrub which
reminds one of former holiday ramblings. In the Tyrol the other day we
came suddenly on a bank in the mountains gemmed over with the creamy
white star of the daisy of Parnassus, and it accompanied us, to our
great delight, for 200 miles or more, till we got fairly down into the
plains again. The last time I had seen it was on Snowdon years ago. When
we got a little higher I pounced on a beautiful little gentian, which I
had never seen before except on the Alps above Lenk, in Switzerland (the
Hauen Moos the pass was called, or some such name--how spelt, goodness
knows), which I once crossed with two dear friends on the most beautiful
day I ever remember.

The flora of the Tyrol, at least that part of it which lies by the
roadside, seems to be much the same as ours. With the above exceptions,
I scarcely saw a flower which does not grow on half the hills in
England; but their size and colouring was often curiously different. The
Michaelmas daisy and ladies’ fingers, for instance, were much brighter
and more beautiful; on the other hand, there was the most tender tiny
heartsease in the world, and forget-me-nots, which were very plentiful
here and there, were quite unlike ours--delicate little creatures, of
the palest blue in the world, all the fleshiness and comfortable look,
reminding one of marriage settlements and suitable establishments, gone
clean out of them. In moving eastward with the happy earth you may
easily get from Munich to Strasburg in one day; but, if you do, you will
miss one of the greatest treats in the world, and that is a run through
the Tyrol, which you may do from Munich with comfort in a week. There is
a little rail which runs you down south or so to Homburg, on the edge of
the mountain country, from whence you may choose your conveyance, from
post carriage down to Shanks’ nag. If you follow my advice, whatever
else you do you will take care to see the Finstermunz Pass, than which
nothing in the whole world can be more beautiful. I rather wonder myself
that the Tyrol has not drawn more of our holiday folk, Alpine Club and
all, from Switzerland. The Orteler Spitz and the glaciers of his range
are as fine, and I should think as dangerous, as anything in the Swiss
Alps--the lower Alps in the Tyrol are quite equal to their western
sisters; and there is a soft Italian charm and richness about the look
and climate of the southern valleys, that about Botzen especially, which
Switzerland has nothing to match. The luxuriance of the maize crops (the
common corn of the country) and of the vines trained over trellis work
in the Italian fashion, and of the great gourds and vegetable marrows
which roll their glorious leaves and flowers and heavy fruit over
the spare corners and slips of the platforms on which the vineyards
rest--the innumerable fruit-trees, pears, apples, plums, peaches, and
pomegranates all set in a framework of beautiful wooded mountains,
from which the course of the streams may be traced down through all the
richness of the valley by their torrent beds of tumbled rock--.
remind us vividly of the descriptions of the Promised Land in the Old
Testament. Then the contrast of the people to the Bavarians is as great
as that of the countries. The latter seem to live the easiest, laziest
life of all nations, in their rich low flats, which the women are
quite aide to cultivate, while the men drink beer and otherwise disport
themselves. But in the part of the Tyrol next Bavaria it is all grim
earnest: “Ernst is das Leben” must be their motto if they are to get in
their crops at all, and keep their little patches of valley and hanging
fields cultivated--and it does seem to be their motto. After passing
through the country one can quite understand how the peasantry came to
beat the regular troops of France and Bavaria time after time half a
century ago, and the memoirs of that holy war hang almost about every
rock. There is no mistake here about battle-fields, and no difficulty in
realising the scene: the march of columns along the gorges, the piles of
rock and tree above, with Tyrolean marksmen behind, the voices calling
across over the heads of the invaders “Shall we begin?”

“In the name of the Holy Trinity, cut all loose”; and then the crash
and confusion, the panic and despair, and the swoop of the mountaineers
on the remnant of their foes. A great part of the country must be
exceedingly poor, and yet only in the neighbourhood of two or three
villages were we asked for alms, and then only by small children, who
had apparently been demoralised by the passage of carriages. Except from
one of these children, a small boy who flirted his cap in my face, and
made a villainous grimace, when he got tired of running, and from
the dogs, we had no uncourteous look or word. The dogs, however, are
abominable mongrels, and there was scarcely one in the country which did
not run barking and snapping after us. The people seem to me very much
pleasanter to travel amongst than the Swiss.

I had expected to find them a people much given to the outward forms
and ceremonies of religion at any rate--every guide-book tells one thus
much; but I was not at all prepared for the extraordinary hold which
their Christianity had laid upon the whole external life of the country.
You can’t travel a mile in the Tyrol along any road without coming upon
a shrine--in general by the wayside, often in the middle of the
fields. I examined several hundreds of these; many of them little rough
penthouses of plank, some well-built tiny chapels. I wish I had kept an
exact account of the contents, but I am quite sure I am within the mark
in saying that nine out of ten contain simply a crucifix; of the rest,
the great majority contain figures or paintings of the Virgin or Child,
and a few those of some patron saint. All bore marks of watchful care;
in many, garlands of flowers or berries, or an ear or two of ripe maize,
were hung round the Figure on the cross. Then in every village in which
we slept, bells began ringing for matins at five or six, and in every
ease the congregation seemed to be very large in proportion to the
population. I was told, and believe, that in all the houses, even in the
inns of most of these villages, there is family worship every evening at
a specified hour, generally at seven. We met peasants walking along the
road bare-headed, and chanting mass. I came suddenly upon parish priests
and poor women praying before the crucifix by the wayside. The ostlers
and stable-men have the same habit as our own, of pasting or nailing up
rude prints on the stable-doors, and of all those which I examined while
we were changing horses, or where we stopped for food or rest, there was
only one which was not on a sacred subject. In short, to an Englishman
accustomed to the reserve of his own country on such subjects, the
contrast is very startling. If a Hindoo or any other intelligent heathen
were dropped down in any English country, he might travel for days
without knowing whether we have any religion at all; but, most
assuredly, he could not do so in the Tyrol. Now which is the best state
of things? I believe Her Majesty has no stauncher Protestant than I
amongst her subjects, but I own that a week in the Tyrol has made me
reconsider a thing or two. Outwardly, in short, the Tyroleans are the
most religious people in Europe. Of course I am no judge after a week’s
tour whether their faith has gone as deep as it has spread wide. You
can only speak of the bridge as it carries you. Our bills were the most
reasonable I have ever met with, and I could not detect a single attempt
at imposition in the smallest particular. I went into the fruit market
at Meran, and, after buying some grapes, went on to an old woman who was
selling figs. She was wholly unable to understand my speech, so, being
in a hurry, I put a note for the magnificent sum of ten kreutzer (or 3d.
sterling) into her hand, making signs to her to put the equivalent in
figs into a small basket I was carrying. This she proceeded to do, and
when she had piled eight or ten figs on the grapes I turned to go, but
by vehement signs she detained me, till she had given me the full tale,
some three or four more. She was only a fair specimen of what I found on
all sides. The poor old soul had not mastered our legal axiom of _caveat
emptor_, but her trading morality had something attractive about it.
They may be educated in time into buying cheap and selling dear, but as
yet that great principle does not seem to have dawned on them.

There may be some danger of superstition in this setting up of
crucifixes and sacred prints by the wayside and on stable-doors, but, on
the other hand, the Figure on the cross, meeting one at every corner,
is not unlikely, I should think, to keep a poor man from the commonest
vices to which he is tempted in his daily life, if it does no more. He
would scarcely like to stagger by it drunk from the nearest pot-house.
If stable-boys are to have rough woodcuts on their doors, one of the
Crucifixion or of the _Mater Dolorosa_ is likely to do them more good
than the winner of the Derby or Tom Sayers.

But my letter is getting too long for your columns, so I can only beg
all your readers to seize the first chance of visiting the Tyrol.
I shall be surprised if they do not come away with much the same
impressions as I have. It is a glad land, above all that I have ever
seen--a land in which a psalm of joy and thankfulness seems to be rising
to heaven from every mountain top and valley, and, mingled with and
beneath it, the solemn low note of a people “breathing thoughtful
breath”--an accompaniment without which there is no true joy possible
in our world, without which all attempt at it rings in the startled
ear like the laugh of a madman. Those words of the old middle-age hymn
seemed to be singing in my ears all through the Tyrol:--

                   Fac me vere tecum flere,

                   Crucitixo condolere,

                   Donee ego vixcro.

I shall never find a country in which it will do one more good to
travel.



Vienna, 10th September 1862.

The stage Englishman in foreign countries must be always an object of
interest to his countrymen. He is a decidedly popular institution
in Germany, not the least like the Dundreary type, or the sort of
top-booted half fool, half miscreant, one sees at a minor theatre in
Paris. The latest Englishmen on the boards of the summer theatres here
are a Lord Mixpickl, and his man Jack, but the most popular, and those
which appear to be regarded in fatherland as the real thing, are the
Englishmen in a piece called “The Four Sailors.” It opens with a
yawning chorus. Four young Englishmen are discovered sitting at a German
watering-place, reading copies of the _Times_ and _Post_, and yawning
fearfully. The chorus done, one says, “The funds are at 84.”

“I bet you they are at 86,” says another, and on this point they become
lively. It appears by the talk which ensues, that they have come abroad
resolved on finding some romantic adventure before marrying, which they
are all desirous of doing. This they found impossible at home; hitherto
have not succeeded here; have only succeeded in trampling on the police
arrangements, and getting bored. They all imitate one another in speech
and action, saying “Yaas” in succession very slowly, and always looking
at one another deliberately before acting. Now the four sailors appear,
who are three romantic young women and their maid, disguised as sailors,
under the care of their aunt, a stout easy-going old lady, dressed as a
boatswain, and of lax habits In the matters of tobacco and drink. After
hornpipe dancing and other diversions, the young ladies settle to go
and bathe, and cross the stage where the Englishmen are carrying their
bathing-dresses. A cry is raised that their boat is upset; whereupon the
Englishmen look at one another. At last one gets up, takes off his coat,
folds it up, and puts it carefully on his chair, ditto with waistcoat
and hat, the others doing the same. They walk off in Indian file, and
return each with a half-drowned damsel across his shoulders. Having
deposited their burthens, they return to the front of the stage to
dress, when one suggests that they have never been introduced, upon
which, after a pause, and looking solemnly at each other and the
audience, they ejaculate all together, “Got dam!” They then take refuge
in beer, silence, and pipes. At last one says, “This is curious!” Three
yaas’, and a pause. Another, “This is an adventure!” Three yaas’, and
a longer pause. At last, “Dat ist romantisch!” propounds another.
Tumultuous yaas’ break forth at this discovery. The object of their
journey is accomplished, they marry the four sailors, and return to love
and Britain.

The summer theatres are charming institutions, but somewhat casual. For
instance, while we were at Ischl, there were no performances because the
weather was too fine. Ischl itself is wonderfully attractive, and as he
has not the chance of getting a seaside watering-place, the Kaiser Konig
has shown much taste in the selection of Ischl. The Traun and Ischl,
which meet here, are both celebrated for beauty and trout (a young
Englishman was wading about and having capital sport while we were
there). You get fine views of glaciers from the hills which rise on all
sides close to the town, and the five valleys at the junction of which
it lies are all finely wooded and well worth exploring. The town is
furnished with a drinking-hall (but no gambling), baths, a casino,
pretty promenades, and Herzogs and other grand folk, with Hussar and
other officers in plenty to enliven them. You can dance every evening
almost if you like, and gloves are fabulously good, and only a florin
a pair for men, or with two buttons, for ladies, a florin and ten
kreutzers; so, having regard to the number which are now found necessary
in London, it would almost pay young persons to visit Ischl once a year
to make their purchases. There is also a specialty in the way of pretty
old fashioned looking jewellery made and sold here cheap, but the Passau
pearls found in the great cockle-shells of these parts are dear, though
certainly very handsome. I must not forget the rifle-range amongst the
attractions of the place. I fell in with two members of the Inns of
Court, and we heard the well-known crack, and soon hunted out the scene
of operations. We found some Austrian gentlemen practising at 100 yards
at a target with a small black centre, within which was a scarcely
distinguishable bull’s-eye. When a centre is made the marker comes out,
bows, waves his arms twice, and utters two howls called “yodels.” When
the bull’s-eye is struck a shell explodes behind, the Austrian eagle
springs up above the target, and a Tyrolean, the size of life, from each
side--which performance so fascinated one of my companions that he made
interest with the shooters, who allowed him to use one of their rifles.
I rejoice to say that he did not disgrace the distinguished corps to
which he belongs. At his first shot he obtained the bow and two howls
from the marker, and at his fourth the explosion and appearances above
described followed, whereupon he wisely retired on his laurels.

You proceed eastwards from Ischl, down the beautiful valley of the
Traun to Eben; see the great store-place for the salt and wood of the
district. The logs accompany you, in the river, all the way down; and
it is amusing to watch their different ways of floating. Such of them as
are not stopped in transit by the hooks of the inhabitants are collected
by a boom stretched across the head of the Gmünden Lake, on which you
take boat at Eben See. The skipper of the steamer is an Englishman,
who has been there for thirty years--a quiet matter-of-fact man, who
collects his own tickets, wears no uniform, and has a profound disbelief
in the accuracy of the information furnished to tourists in these parts
by the natives. Long absence from home has somewhat depressed him, but
he lights up for a few moments when he gets on his paddle-box and orders
the steam to be put on to charge the boom. But travellers should
consult him if they want correct information, and should not trust in
“Bradshaw.” The lion of the neighbourhood is the Traun Falls; and a
station has been opened on the railway to Lintz to facilitate the seeing
of the falls, which station is not even mentioned in the “Bradshaw” for
August 1862. This is too bad.

I had considerable opportunities of seeing the state of the country in
Austria. The people are prosperous and independent to a degree which
much astonished me. They are almost all what we should call yeomanry,
owning from twenty to two hundred acres of land. Even the labourers, who
work for the great proprietors, own their own cottages and an acre or
so of land round; in fact, the Teutonic passion for owning land is so
strong that, unless a man can acquire some, he manages to emigrate.
Since 1848 the communes have stepped into the position of lords of the
manors, and own most of the woods and the game. The great proprietors
pay them for the right of sporting over their own lands. In faet,
whatever may be the case with the higher classes, the people here seem
to have it much their own way since 1848. We spent a Sunday afternoon
in the palace gardens at Schonbrunn, into which half the populace of
Vienna, smoking vile-smelling cigars, seemed to have poured in omnibuses
and cabs, which stood before the palace, and on foot. We (the people)
occupied the whole of the gardens, and a splendid military band played
for our behoof. You reach the gardens by passing under the palace,
so that King People was everywhere, and the Kaiser Konig, if he wants
retirement, must stay in his private rooms. A report spread that the
Emperor and Empress were coming out, whereupon King People, and we
amongst them, swept into the lower part of the palace, and right up to a
private staircase, at the foot of which an open carriage was standing.
A few burly and well-behaved guardsmen remonstrated good-humouredly, but
with no effect. There we remained in block, men, women, and children,
the pipes and cigars were not extinguished, and the smell was anything
but imperial. Presently the Emperor and Empress came down, and the
carriage passed at a foot’s pace through the saluting and pleased crowd.
The Empress is the most charming-looking royal personage I have ever
seen, and seemed to think it quite right that the people should occupy
her house and grounds. Fancy omnibuses driving into the Court-yard
of Buckingham Palace, and John Bull proceeding to occupy the private
gardens! John himself would decidedly think that the end of the world
was come. The Constitution, too, seems to work well from all I heard.
The Court party has ceased almost to struggle for power. It revenges
itself, however, in social life. Society (so called) is more exclusive
in Vienna than anywhere else, and consists of some 400 or 500 persons
all told. Even the most distinguished soldiers and statesmen have not
the _entrée_. Benedek’s family is not in society, nor Schmerling’s,
though I hear his daughter is one of the prettiest and most ladylike
girls in Austria. All which is very silly, doubtless, but the chief
sufferers are the 400 inhabitants who drive in the Prater, and go to
the Leichtenstein and Schwartzenburg parties, and after all, if
aristocracies in the foolish sense are inevitable, an aristocracy of
birth is preferable to one of money, or, _me judice_, of intellect,
seeing that the latter gives itself at least as absurd airs, and is
likely to be much more mischievous. On the other hand, my Hungarian
sympathies have been somewhat shaken since visiting the country. I
suppose the national dress has something to say to it. An Englishman
cannot swallow braided coats, and tight coloured pants, and boots all
at once, and the carriage and airs of the men are offensive. I say this
more on the judgment of several of my country-women on this point than
on my own, but from my own observation I can say that Pesth, to a mere
passer-by, has all the appearances of the most immoral capital in the
world. In the best shops, in the best streets, there are photographs and
engravings exhibited which, with us, would speedily call Lord Campbell’s
Act into operation. And the Haymarket is in many respects moral in
comparison with many parts of Pesth. It is the only place in Europe
where I have seen men going about drunk before midday. In short, you
will perceive that my inspection inclines me to suspect that there may
he more than one has been wont to believe in the assertion, that the
Constitution we hear so much of is aristocratic and one which will
give back old feudal privileges to a conquering race and enable them
to oppress Slaves, Croats, etc., as they did before 1848. There is,
everybody admits, a large discontented class in Hungary, composed
chiefly of the poor nobility (who have long ago spent their compensation
money), and professional men, especially advocates, but it is
strenuously maintained that the great mass of the people have been far
better off in all ways and more contented since 1849. I don’t pretend
to give you anything except the most apparently truthful evidence I
can pick up by the wayside, and the observations of my own eyes, and
certainly the latter have not been favourable to Hungary in any way,
though they look certainly very like a fighting race, these Magyars. The
railroad from Pesth to Basiash, where one embarks on the Danube, passes
through enormous flats, heavy for miles and miles with maize and other
crops, and very thinly peopled. It is a constant wonder where the people
can come from to reap and garner it all. The great fault of the country
is the dust, which is an abominable nuisance. Certainly the facilities
for travelling are getting to be all that can be wished in our time. A
little more than forty-eight hours will bring a man, who can stand night
journeys, to Vienna; after resting a night, eighteen hours more will
bring him to Basiash, where he will at once plunge into the old world of
turbans and veiled women, minarets and mosques; man and beast and bird,
houses and habits, all strange and new to him; and if the Danube fares
were not atrociously high, there are few things I would more earnestly
recommend to my holiday-making countrymen than a trip down that noblest,
of European rivers. Considering the present state of political matters,
too, in the world, he can hardly select a more interesting country.
Certainly the Eastern question gains wonderfully in interest when one
has seen ever so little of the lands and people about which the wisest
heads of all the wisest statesmen of our day are speculating and
scheming--not very wisely, I fear, at present.



The Danube, 13th September 1862.

The Rhine may, perhaps, fairly be compared with the Upper Danube,
between Lintz and Vienna, even between Vienna and Pesth. There is no
great disparity so far, either in the size of themselves or of the hills
and plains through which they run. The traveller’s tastes, artistic and
historical, decide his preference. The constant succession of ruined
holds of the old oppressors of the earth which he meets on the Rhine,
are wanting on the Danube. It is certainly a satisfaction to see such
places thoroughly ruined--to triumph over departed scoundrelism wherever
one comes on its relics. As a compensation, however, he will find on the
Danube a huge building or two, such as that of the Benedictine Monastery
at Molk, or the Cathedral and Palace of the Primate of Hungary at Gran,
of living interest, and with work still to do in the world. There is
not much to choose between the banks of the two streams in the matter of
general historical interest, though to me the long struggle between the
Christian and the Moslem, the footprints of which meet one on all sides,
gives the Danube slightly the advantage even in this respect. There
are longer gaps of flat uninteresting country on the eastern stream,
no doubt, which may be set off against the sameness and neatness of the
perpetual vineyard on the western; and on the Danube you get, now and
then, a piece of real forest, which you never see, so far as I remember,
on the Rhine.

Below Belgrade, however, all comparison ceases. The Rhine is half the
size of its rival, and flows westward through the highest cultivation
and civilisation to the German Ocean, while the huge Danube rushes
through the Carpathians into a new world--an eastern people, living
amidst strange beasts and birds, in a country which is pretty much as
Trajan left it. You might as well compare Killiecrankie to the Brenner
Pass, as any thing on the Rhine to the Kazan, the defile by which
the Danube struggles through the western Carpathians. Here the river
contracts in breadth from more than a mile to between 200 and 300 yards;
the depth is 170 feet. The limestone rocks on both sides rise to near
2000 feet, coming sheer down to the water in many places, clothed with
forest wherever there is hold for roots. Along the Servian side, on the
face of the precipice, a few feet above the stream, run the long line of
sockets in which the beams were fastened for the support of his covered
road by Trajan’s legions. A tablet and an inscription 1740 years old
still bear, I believe, the great Roman’s name, and a memorial of his
Dacian campaign, though I cannot vouch for the fact, as we shot by it at
twenty miles an hour; but I could distinctly see Roman letters. On the
left bank the Austrians have carried a road by blasting and masonry; and
a cavern which was held for weeks by 400 men against a Turkish army in
1692 commands the whole pass.

We had scarcely entered the defile when some eight or ten eagles
appeared sweeping slowly round over a spot in the hanging wood, where
probably a deer or goat was dying. I counted upwards of thirty before
we left the Kazan; several were so near the boat that you could plainly
mark the glossy barred plumage, and every turn of the body and tail as
they steered about upon those marvellous, motionless wings. One swooped
to the water almost within shot, but missed the fish, or whatever his
intended prey might be. A water ouzel or two were the only other living
creatures which appeared to draw our attention for a moment from the
sway of the mighty stream and the succession of the dizzy heights. Below
the pass the stream widens again. You lose something of the feeling of
power in the mass of water below you, though the superficial excitement
of whirl, and rush, and eddy, is much increased. Here, at Orsova, a
small military town on the frontier line between Hungary and
Wallachia, we turned out into a flat-bottomed steamer, with four tiny
paddle-wheels, drawing only some three feet of water, which was to carry
us over the Iron Gates, as the rapids are called; and beautifully the
little duck fulfilled her task. The English on board, three ladies and
five men, had already fraternised; we occupied the places in the bows.
The deck was scarcely a yard above water, and there were no bulwarks,
only a strong rail to lean against. The rush of the stream here beat any
mill-race I have ever seen, and the little steamer bounded along over
the leaping, boiling water at the rate of a fast train. Twice only she
plunged a little, shipping just enough water to cause some discomposure
amongst the ladies’ dresses, and to wet our feet. We shot past the wreck
of a Turkish iron Steamer in the wildest part, which had grounded on its
way up to Belgrade with munitions of war. The Servians had boarded and
burnt her, and there she lay, and will lie, till the race washes her to
pieces, for there is nothing to be got out of her now except the iron of
her hull. Below the Iron Gate, a fine Austrian steamer received us, and
we moved statelily out into the stream on our remaining thirty hours’
voyage. We had left the mountains, but were still amongst respectable
hills covered with forest, full of game, an engineer officer who was on
board told us, and plenty of wolves to be had in the winter--too many,
indeed, occasionally. A friend of his had knocked up a little wooden
shooting-box in these Wallachian forests--a rough affair, with a
living-room below, a bedroom above. He had found the wolves so shy that
he scarcely believed in them; however, to give the matter a fair trial,
he asked three or four friends to his box, bought a dead horse, and
roasted him outside. The speedy consequence was such a crowd of wolves
that he and his friends had to take refuge in the bedroom and fight for
their lives; as it was, the wolves were very near starving them out. And
now the river had widened again, and water-fowl could rest and feed on
the surface.

The hot evening, for hot enough it was, though cool in comparison of the
day, brought them out in flocks round the islands and over the shallows.
I was just feasting my eyes with the sight of wild swans, quite at their
ease in our neighbourhood, when three huge white birds came sailing past
with a flight almost as steady as the eagles we had seen in the
Kazan. “What are they?” I said eagerly to my companion, the engineer.
“Pelicans,” he answered, as coolly as if they had been water-hens. In
another moment they lighted on the water, and I saw their long bills and
pouches. Fancy the new sensation, sir! But on this part of the Danube
there is no want of new sensations. Our first stop at a Bulgarian
village--or town, perhaps, I should call it, for it boasted a
tumble-down fort, with some rude earthworks, and half a dozen minarets
shot up from amongst its houses and vineyards--may be reckoned amongst
the chief of these. What can be more utterly new to an Englishman than
to come upon a crowd of poor men, who have their daily bread to earn,
half of whom are quietly asleep, and the rest squatting or standing
about, without offering, or thinking of offering, to help when there
is work to be done under their noses? One was painfully reminded of the
eager, timid anxiety to be allowed to carry luggage for a penny or two
which one meets with at home. Here one had clearly got into the blissful
realms where time is absolutely of no account, and if you want a thing
done, you can do it yourself. Our arrival was evidently an event looked
forward to in some sort, for there were goods on the wharf waiting for
us, and several of the natives had managed to bring down great baskets
full of grapes, by which they had seated themselves. We were all
consumed with desire for grapes, and headed by the steward of the
vessel, who supplies his table here, rushed ashore and fell upon the
baskets. It seemed to be a matter of perfect indifference to the owners
whether we took them or let them alone, or how many we took, or whether
we paid or not. The only distinct idea they had, was that they would
not take Austrian money. Our English emissary returned with six or
seven huge bunches for which he had given promise to pay two piastres to
somebody. The piastre was then (ten days ago) worth one penny, it is now
worth twopence--a strange country is Turkey. There were some buffaloes
lying in the water, with their great ears flopping, to move the air a
little, and keep off flies. A half-grown Turkish lad was squatted near
the head of one of them, over which he was scooping up the water with
his hands, the only human being in voluntary activity. His work was
thoroughly appreciated; I never saw a more perfect picture of enjoyment
than the buffalo who was getting this shower-bath. The costumes, of
course, are curious and striking to a stranger, but turbans and fezzes,
camel’s hair jackets, and loose cotton drawers,--even the absence of
these in many instances, and the substitute of copper-coloured flesh
as a common garb of the country--are after all only superficial
differences. It is the quiet immobility of the men which makes one feel
at once that they are a different race, and the complete absence
of women in the crowds. The cottages, in general, look like great
mole-hills. They look miserable enough, but I believe are well suited
to the climate, being sunk three or four feet in the ground, which keeps
them cool in summer and warm in winter. Our Crimean experience bears
this out. The mud huts sunk in the ground and thatched roughly were
far more comfortable all weathers than those sent out from England. The
campaign between the Russians and Turks at the beginning of the late war
became much clearer to me as we passed down the river. It must be a very
difficult operation to invade Bulgaria from the Principalities, for the
southern bank commands the dead flat of the Wallachian banks almost all
the way down. The serious check which the Russians got at Oltenitza was
a great puzzle in England. We could not make out how it happened. Omar
Pasha seemed to have made a monstrous blunder in throwing a single
division across the river, and we wondered at his luck in getting so
well out of it. The fact is that it was a real stroke of generalship.
The Russian corps were about to cross at points above and below. Omar’s
cannon posted on the Bulgarian heights completely commanded the opposite
plain, where a considerable stream runs into the Danube. This stream
protected the left flank of the division which crossed, and they threw
up earth-works along their front and right. The Russians recalled
the corps which were about to cross, thinking to annihilate them,
and attacked under a plunging fire from the Turkish artillery on the
opposite bank, which, combined with that from the earth-works, was
unendurable, and they were repulsed with enormous loss. It is by no
means so easy, however, to understand why they did not take Silistria.
Here they had crossed, were in great force, and had no strong position
to attack. The famous work of Arab Tabia, the key of the position which
was so gallantly held by Butler and Nasmyth with a few hundred Turkish
soldiers under them, is nothing but a low mound, which you can scarcely
make out from the steamer. Why they should not have marched right over
it and into the town is a mystery.

The village of Tchernavoda where the steamer lands passengers for
Constantinople, consists of a very poor inn, some great warehouses for
corn, and some half-dozen Turkish cottages. An English company has made
the railroad across to Kustandjie, on the Black Sea, so that you escape
the long round by the mouths of the Danube. I fear it must be a very
poor speculation, but it is very convenient. The line runs through a
chain of lakes, by which it is often flooded. Once last winter the water
came nearly into the carriages. The train was, of course, stopped, and
had to remain in the water, which froze hard in the night. I believe
the passengers had to proceed over the ice. If any young Englishman who
combines the tastes of a sportsman and naturalist wants a field for his
energies, I can’t fancy a better one than these lakes. The birds swarm;
every sort of duck and sea-bird one had ever heard of, besides pelicans,
wild swans, bitterns, (the first I ever saw out of a museum) and herons,
and I know not what other fowl were there, especially a beautiful white
bird exactly like our heron, but snowy white. I saw two of these. I
don’t believe they were storks, at least not the common kind which I
have seen.

We had been journeying past the scene of the late conferences, and of
the excitement which was so nearly breaking out into war a month or two
back, and had plenty of Servians and other interested persons on board;
but, so far as I could learn, everything is quieting down into its
ordinary state--an unsatisfactory one, no doubt, but not unlikely to
drag on for some time yet. Should the Servians and other discontented
nationalities, however, break out and come to be in need of a king, or
other person of that kind, just now, they may have the chance of getting
two countrymen of ours to fill such posts. We left them preparing
to invade Servia on a shooting and exploring expedition, armed with
admirable guns, revolvers, and a powder for the annihilation of insects.
They were quite aware of the present unsettled state of affairs, and
prepared to avail themselves of anything good which might turn up on
their travels.



Constantinople, 34th September 1862.

The Eastern question! It is very easy indeed to have distinct notions
on the Eastern question. I had once, not very long ago neither. Of
course, like every Englishman, I was for fighting, sooner than the
Russians, or any other European Power, should come to the Bosphorus
without the leave of England, and that as often as might be necessary,
and quite apart from any consideration as to the internal state of the
country. But as for the Turks, I as much thought that their time was
about over in Europe as the Czar Nicholas when he talked of the sick
man to Sir Hamilton Seymour. They were a worn-out horde, the degenerate
remnant of a conquering race, who were keeping down with the help of
some of the Christian Powers, ourselves notably amongst the number,
Christian subjects--Bulgarians, Servians, Greeks, and others--more
numerous and better men than themselves. I could never see why these
same Christian subjects should not be allowed to kick the Turks out of
Europe if they could, or why we should take any trouble to bolster them
up. Perhaps I do not see yet why they should not be allowed, if they
can do it by themselves; but I am free to acknowledge that the Eastern
question, the nearer you get to it, and the more you look into it,
like many other political questions, gets more and more puzzling and
complicated and turns up quite a new side to you. A week or two on the
Bosphorus spent in looking about one, and sucking the brains of men of
all nations who have had any experience of this remarkable country, make
one see that there is a good deal to be said for wishing well to the
Turks, notwithstanding their false creed and bad practices. I hear here
the most wonderfully contradictory evidence about these Turks. They have
one quality of a ruling nation assuredly in perfection--the power of
getting themselves heartily hated. But so far as I could test them, the
common statements as to their dishonesty and corruption are vague and
general if you try to sift them, and I find that even those who abuse
them are apt in practice to prefer them to Creeks, Armenians, or any
other of the subject people in these parts. On the other hand, you
certainly do hear much of the honesty of the lower classes of the Turks.
For instance, it seems that contracts are scarcely ever made here in
writing, and in actions of debt if a Turk will appear and swear that he
was never indebted, the case is at an end, and he walks out of court
a free man. Admiral Slade, amongst his other functions, is judge of a
court which is a sort of mixture of an Admiralty and County Court,
in which he tries very many actions of debt in the year. After an
experience of nearly three years he told my informant that he had had
only two cases in which a defendant had adopted this summary method of
getting out of his difficulties. Again in the huge maze of bazaars in
Stamboul there is a quarter, some sixty yards square, at least, I should
say, which is _par excellence_ the Turkish bazaar. The Jews, Armenians,
and Greeks, who far out-number the Turks in the other quarters of the
bazaars, have no place here; or if an Armenian or two creep in, it is
only on sufferance. The Turks are a very early nation, and not given to
overwork themselves, and this bazaar of theirs is shut at twelve o’clock
every day, or soon afterwards, and left in charge of one man. I passed
through it one day when many of the shops were closing. The process
consisted of just sweeping the smaller articles into a sort of closet
which each merchant has at the back of the divan on which he sits, and
leaving the heavier articles (such as old inlaid firelocks, swords,
large china vases, and the like) where they were, hanging or standing
outside. Most of the merchandise, I quite admit, is old rubbish; still
there are many articles of considerable value and very portable, and
certainly every possible temptation to robbery is given both to those
who shut up latest and to the man who is left in charge of all this
property, and yet a theft of the smallest article is unheard of. In
this very bazaar I saw an instance of honesty which struck me much. The
custom of trade here is, as every one knows, that the vendor asks twice
or three times as much as he will take, and you have to beat him down to
a fair price. I accompanied a lady who had to make some purchases. After
a hard struggle, she succeeded in getting what she wanted at her own
price; but her adversary evidently felt aggrieved, and declared that he
should be a loser by the transaction. She cast up the total in her head,
paid the money; her _cavass_ (as they call the substitutes for footmen
here, who accompany ladies about the streets with scimitars by their
sides, and sticks in their hands, to belabour the Jews and Greeks with
who get in the way) had taken up the things, and we had left the shop,
when the aggrieved merchant came out, called us back, explained to her
that she had made a wrong calculation by ten francs or so, and refunded
the difference. I was much surprised. The whole process was so like an
attempt to cheat that it seemed very odd that the man who habitually
practised it should yet scruple to take advantage of such a slip as
this. But my companion, who knows the bazaars well, assured me that it
was always the case. A Turk does not care what he asks you, often loses
impatient customers by asking fabulously absurd prices, but the moment
he has made his bargain is scrupulously exact in keeping to it, and will
not take advantage of a farthing in changing your foreign money, or of
your ignorance of the value of his currency. This was her experience. I
might multiply instances of Turkish honesty if it were of any use, but
have been unable to collect a single instance of the like virtue on the
part of Greeks or Armenians. Every man’s word seems against them, though
their sharpness in trade and cleverness and activity in other ways are
admitted on all hands. I found that every one whose judgment I could at
all depend on, however much he might dislike the Turks, preferred
them to any other of the people of the country whenever there was any
question of trust. So, on the whole, notwithstanding their idleness,
their hatred of novelties and love of backsheesh, their false worship
and bigotry, and the evils which this false worship brings in its train,
I must say that the immense preponderance of oral evidence is in their
favour, as decidedly the most upright and respectable of the races who
inhabit Turkey in Europe. One does not put much faith in one’s own eyes
in a question of this kind, but, taking them for what they are worth,
mine certainly led me to the same conclusion. The Turkish boatmen,
porters, shopmen, contrast very favourably with their Greek and other
rivals.

In short, they look particularly like honest self-respecting men, which
the others emphatically do not.

If this be true, and so long as it continues to be true, I for one am
for keeping the Turks where they are. And this does not involve any
intervention on our parts. They are quite able to hold their own if no
foreign power interferes with them, and all we have to do is to see that
they are fairly let alone, which is not the case at present. For the
present Government of Fuad Pasha is the best and strongest Turkey
has seen for many a year. Fuad’s doings in Syria led one to expect
considerable things of him, for few living statesmen have successfully
solved such a problem as putting down the disturbances there, avenging
the Damascus massacre, quieting the religious excitement, and getting
the French out of the country. All this, however, he managed with great
firmness and skill, and since he has been Prime Minister he has given
proofs of ability in another direction equally important for the future
of his country. Turkish finance was in a deplorable state when he came
into power. I don’t suppose that it is in a very sound condition
now, but at any rate the first, and a very important, step has been
successfully made. Until within the last few months the paper currency
here, called _caimé_, has been the curse of the country. There were
somewhere about five million sterling’s worth of small notes, for sums
from ten piastres (2s.) to fifty piastres in circulation. The value of
these notes was constantly fluctuating, often varying thirty or forty
per cent in a few days. The whole of these notes have been called in by
the present Government and exchanged for small silver coin within the
last two months, so that now the value of the piastre in Turkey is
fixed. A greater blessing to the country can scarcely be conceived,
and the manner in which the conversion has been effected has been most
masterly. The English loan, no doubt, has enabled Fuad to do this, and
he has had Lord Hobart at his elbow to advise and assist him in the
operation. But, making all proper drawbacks, a very large balance of
credit is due to the Turkish Government, as will appear when the English
Commissioner’s Report appears in due course, the contents of which I
have neither the knowledge nor the wish to anticipate. The settlement,
for the present, at least, of the Servian and Montenegrin difficulties
are further proofs, it seems to me, of the vigour and ability of the
present Government. But still, giving the Turkish statesmen now in power
full credit for all they have done, one cannot help feeling that this
Eastern question is full of the most enormous difficulties, is, in
short, about the most complicated of all the restless, importunate,
ill-mannered questions that are crying out “Come, solve me,” in this
troublesome old continent of ours.

For it hardly needs a voyage to the East to convince any man who cares
about such matters that this Turkish Empire is in a state of solution.
If one did want convincing on the point, a few days here would be enough
to do it. Let him spend a few hours as I did last week at the Sweet
Waters of Asia on a Turkish Sunday (Friday), and he will scarcely want
further proof. The Sweet Waters of Asia are those of a muddy little
rivulet, which flow into the sparkling Bosphorus some four miles above
Constantinople. Along the side of this stream, at its junction with the
Bosphorus, is a small level plain, which has been for I know not how
long the resort of the Turkish women. Here they come once a week on
their Sundays, to look at the hills and the Bosphorus without the
interference of blinds and jalousies, and at some other human beings
besides the slaves and other inmates of their own harems. You arrive
there in a caique, and find yourself at a jump plump in the middle of
the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. The Sultan has built a superb kiosk
(summer-house) here, with a façade and balustrade of beautiful white
marble, one hundred yards long, fronting the Bosphorus. (They tell me,
by the way, that the whole kiosk is of the same white marble, and so
it may be, but, at any rate, if it be, it is most superfluously
covered with yellow stucco.) Outside the enclosure of his kiosk, at the
Bosphorus end of the little plain, and some fifty yards from the shore,
is a fine square marble fountain, with texts from the Koran in green and
gold upon it, and steps all round. A few plane-trees give a little shade
round it. On all the steps of the fountain, along the kiosk garden wall,
under the plane-trees, and out on the turf of the valley, are seated
Turkish women of every rank, from the Grand Vizier’s wife and family,
on superbly embroidered cushions and carpets, and cloaked in the most
fascinating purple and pink silks, down to poor men’s wives, in faded
stuffs, on old scraps of drugget which a rag-collector would scarcely
pick out of the gutter. Others of the veiled women are driving
slowly round the little plain in the strangest carriages, just like
Cinderella’s coach in the children’s books, or in arabas drawn by two
oxen, and ornamented with silk or cotton hangings. Here the poor women
sit, or drive, or walk for an hour or two, and smoke cigarettes, and eat
fruit and sweetmeats, and drink coffee, which viands are brought with
them or supplied by itinerant dealers on the ground. So far, the scene
is just what it might have been in the days of Haroun Alraschid, and the
black eunuchs standing about or walking by the carriages seem to warn
off all contact with the outer world. But what is the fact? There were
English and French ladies sitting on the carpets of the Grand Vizier’s
wife and talking with her. There were men and women of all nations
walking about or sitting close by the veiled groups, and plenty of
Turkish men looking on, or themselves talking to unbelievers, and
seeming to think that it was all quite natural. It is impossible in a
few words to convey the impression of utter incongruity which this and
other scenes of the same kind give one. Islamism and Frankism--Western
civilisation, or whatever you like to call it,--I dare not call it
Christianity,--are no longer at arm’s length. They are fairly being
stirred up together. What will come of it? At a splendid garden _fête_,
given by a great Pasha in the spring, amongst other novelties dancing
was perpetrated. The Pasha is a Turk of advanced ideas. His wife (he has
only one) and the other women of his household were allowed to look on
from the harem windows. “In two years they will be down here, in five
they will be dancing, and in ten they will wear crinolines,” said an
Englishman to one of the French Embassy with whom he was walking. “Et
alors l’empire serait sauvé,” replied the Frenchman. Not exactly so,
perhaps, but still the speakers were touching the heart of the Eastern
question. The harem or the Turks will have to go down in Europe in the
next few years. But as this letter is already too long, I hope you will
let me say what I have to say on the subject in my next.



Constantinople, 30th September 1862.

Amongst the many awkward facts which the Turks in Europe have to look
in the face and deal with speedily, there is one which seems specially
threatening. They have no class of educated men. “Some remedy _must_ be
found for this,” say their friends; “things cannot go on as they are.
The body of your people may be, we believe they are, sound and honest as
times go, superior indeed in all essentials to the other races who
are mixed up with them, but this will not avail you much longer.”
 Steamboats, telegraphs, railways, have invaded Turkey already. The great
tide of modern material civilisation is flooding in upon the East, with
its restless, unmanageable eddies and waves, which have sapped, and are
sapping, the foundations, and overwhelming the roof trees, of stronger
political edifices than that of the Sublime Porte. If you Turks cannot
control and manage the tide, it will very soon drown you. Now where are
your men to do this? You have just now Fuad Pasha, and three or four
other able men, and reasonably honest, who understand their time, and
are guiding your affairs well. Besides them you have a few dozen men--we
can count them on our fingers--who have educated themselves decently,
and who may possibly prove fit for the highest places. But that
is doubtful, and for all minor offices, executive, administrative,
judicial, you have no competent men at all. The places are abominably
filled, and for one Turk who is able to fill them even thus badly you
have to employ ten foreigners, generally renegades. This is what Turkish
patriots have to look to. You _must_ find a class of men capable of
dealing with this modern deluge, or you will have to move out of Europe,
all we can say or do to the contrary notwithstanding.

All very true, say the enemies of the Turks. The facts are patent
enough, but the remedy! That is all moonshine. You _cannot_ have an
educated class of Turks, and you cannot stop the deluge; so you had
better stand back and let it sweep over them as soon as may be, and look
out for something to follow.

I believe that this dispute does touch the very heart of the Eastern
question, for it goes to the root of their social life; and the answer
to it must depend, in great part, upon the future of their “peculiar
institution”--the harem. For, alas the day! the harem is the place
of education for Turkish boys of the upper classes. And how can it be
helped? The boys must be with the women for the first years of their
lives, and the women must be in the harems. We need not believe all the
stories which are current about the abominations of these places. It
is quite likely that the number of child-murders and other atrocities,
which one hears of on all sides, may be exaggerated. But where there
is a part of every rich man’s house into which the police cannot enter,
which is to all intents beyond the reach of the law--in which the
inmates, all of one sex, are confined, with no connection with the outer
world, and no occupations or interests whatever except food and dress
(they are not even allowed to attend mosque)--one can hardly be startled
by anything which one may be told of what is done in them; and it is
impossible to conceive a more utterly enervating and demoralising place
for a boy to be brought up in. There is nothing in Turkey answering to
the great schools, colleges, and universities of Western Europe. There
is no healthy home life to substitute for them. The harem is the place
of education, and, with very rare exception, the boys come out of its
atmosphere utterly unfitted for any useful active life.

This is the great difficulty of the Turks in Europe. If they could break
the neck of it the others need not frighten them; and so the best of
them feel, and are doing something towards meeting the difficulty. Many
Turks are setting the example of taking only one wife, and of living
with her in their own houses as the men of Christian nations do. A few
have done away with the separate system, so far as they themselves are
concerned, and their harems are so only in name. They encourage foreign
ladies to call on their wives, and would gladly go further. Some of them
have even tried taking their wives with them into public; but this has
been premature. The nation will not stand it yet. The women themselves
object. The few who feel the degradation of their present lives, and
are anxious to help their husbands in getting rid of it, are looked upon
with so much suspicion that they dare not move on so fast. Honest
female conservatism has taken fright, and combines with vice, sloth, and
jealousy, to keep things as they are. However, the women will come
round fast enough if the men are only in earnest. They get all their
outer-world notions from the men, and as soon as the men will say, “We
wish you to live with us as the Giaours’ wives live with them,” the
thing will be done.

I may say, then, from what I have myself seen and heard, that a serious
attempt is being made by the Turks--few in number, certainly, at
present, but strong in position and character--to break the chain
of their old customs, especially this of the harem, and to conform
outwardly to Western habits and manners. This is being done mainly for
political reasons, and if nothing more enters into the movement will
probably fail; for, in spite of the great changes which have taken
place in Turkey in Europe of late years, there is a tremendous power of
passive resistance and hatred of all change amongst the people, which
no motives of expediency will be able to break through. It will take
something deeper than political expediency to do that. Is there the sign
of any such power above the horizon?

Well, sir, of course my opinion is worth very little. A fortnight’s
residence in a country, whatever opportunities one may have had, and
however one may have tried and desired to use them, cannot be of much
use in judging questions of this kind. Take my impressions, then, for
what they are worth, at any rate they are honest, and the result of
the best observation of a deeply interested spectator. Islamism as a
religious faith is all but gone in Turkey in Europe. Up to 1856 the
Turks were still a dominant and persecuting race, and Islamism a
persecuting creed. Since the Hatti humayoun, which was, perhaps, the
most important result of the Crimean war, there has been nominally
absolute religious toleration--actually something very nearly
approaching to it--in Turkey in Europe. Islamism was spread by the
sword, and the consequence of this method of propagation was that large
layers of the population were only nominally converted. These have never
since been either Moslem or Christians but a bad mixture of the two.
Since 1856 this has become more and more apparent. I will only mention
one fact bearing on the point, though I heard many. An American
missionary traveller in a part of Roumelia not very far from
Constantinople found the people, though nominally Turks, yet with many
Christian practices and traditions, to which they were much attached,
but which they had till lately kept secret. They did not seem inclined
to make any further profession of Christianity, or to give up their
Moslem profession, but were anxious that he should read the Bible to
them. They had not heard it for generations, but had preserved the
tradition of it. He did so; and afterwards parties of them would come
to the Bosphorus to his house to hear him read, and, I believe, do so
still. It is a curious story to hear of bodies of men sitting to hear
the old Book read, and weeping and going away. It takes one back to the
finding of the Book of the Law in Josiah’s day. Amongst the Turks proper
there is only one article of Islamism which is held with any strength,
and that is the hatred of any approach to image worship. In this they
are fanatics still. Thirty years ago the then Sultan nearly caused a
revolution by having his likeness put on coin. The issue was called in,
and to this day there is nothing but a cipher on the piastres and other
Turkish coin. The rest of their faith sits very lightly on them, and
is much more of a political than a religious garment. There is a strong
feeling of patriotism amongst the people (though it, and all else that
is noble, seems to have died out amongst the insignificant upper class,
if one may speak of such a thing here)--a patriotism of race more than
of country; and it is this, and not their faith, which is holding the
present state of things together.

Now, I am not going to tell you, sir, that the Turks in Europe are about
to be converted to Christianity. I only say that Islamism is all but
dead on our continent; that the most able and far-seeing of the Turks
see and feel this more and more every day themselves; that they are
themselves adopting, and are trying to introduce, practices and habits
which are utterly inconsistent with their old creed; that they have, in
fact, already virtually abandoned it. “We must have a civilisation,” the
best men amongst them say; “but what we want is a Turkish civilisation,
and not a French, or Russian, or English civilisation.” Yes; but on
what terms is such a civilisation possible for you? Well, sir, I am
old-fashioned enough to believe myself that the Christian faith is the
only possible civiliser of mankind. The only civilisation which has
reached the East--the outside civilisation of steam, gas, and the
like--will do nothing but destroy, unless you have something stronger to
graft it upon. What is the good of sending messages half round the world
in a few seconds, if the messages are lies; of carrying cowards
and scoundrels about at the rate of fifty-miles an hour; of forging
instruments of fearful power for the hands of the oppressors of the
earth? Not much will come of this kind of civilisation alone for any
nation; and, as for these poor Turks, it is powerful enough to blow them
up altogether, and that is all it will do for them.

When one stands in Great Sophia, and sees the defaced crosses, and the
names of Mahomet and his successors, on huge ugly green sign-boards,
hanging in the most prominent places of the noblest church of the East,
it is difficult not to feel something of the Crusading spirit. But, if
the Turks were swept out of Europe to-morrow, I doubt whether it would
not be a misfortune for the world. We should not only be expelling the
best race of the country, but they would retire into Asia sullen and
resentful, hating the West and its faith more than ever. Islamism would
gain new life from the reaction which would take place; for the Turks
will not go without making a strong fight, and Turkey in Europe would be
left to a riff-raff of nominal Christians, with more than all the vices
and none of the redeeming virtues of their late masters. It would be a
far higher and nobler triumph for Christendom to see the Turks restoring
the crosses and taking down the sign-boards. That sooner or later they
will become Christians I have no sort of doubt whatever, after seeing
them; for they are too strong a race to disappear. No nation can go
on long without a faith, and there is none other for them to turn to.
Modern Greeks may regret their old Paganism--here they say seriously
that many of them openly avow it; but for a Turk who finds Islamism
crumble away beneath him, it must be Christianity or nothing. The
greatest obstacle to the conversion of Turkey will be the degradation of
the subject Christian races. It is, no doubt, a tremendous obstacle, but
there have been tremendous obstacles before now which have been cleared
by weaker people.

I daresay I shall seem lunatic to you, sir, though I know it will not be
because you think the Christian faith is itself pretty well used up, and
ought to be thinking of getting itself carried out and buried decently,
instead of making new conquests. But if you had been living for a
fortnight on the Bosphorus, you could not help wishing well to the old
Turks any more than I, and I don’t believe you, any more than I,
could by any ingenuity find out what good to wish them, except speedy
conversion. With that all reforms will follow rapidly enough.

If you are not thoroughly outraged by these later productions of mine I
will promise to avoid the Eastern question proper, and will try to
give you something more amusing next week. Meanwhile, believe me ever
faithfully yours.



Athens, 1st October 1862.

I am afraid, to judge by my own café, it is quite impossible to give
anything like a true idea of Constantinople to those who have never been
there; at any rate it would require a volume and not two columns to do
it, but I can’t help trying to impart some of my own impressions to your
readers. Miles away in the Sea of Marmora you first catch sight of
the domes and minarets (like huge wax candles with graceful black
extinguishers on them) of the capital of the East. As you near the mouth
of the Bosphorus, on the European side lies the Seraglio Point with its
palaces, Sublime Porte, and public offices and gardens full of noble
cypresses. On the Asiatic side lies Scutari, the great hospital, with
the English cemetery and Marochetti’s monument in front of it, occupying
the highest and most conspicuous point. Midway between the two shores
is a rock called Leander’s rock, on which is a picturesque little
lighthouse. Passing this you turn short to the left round Seraglio
Point, and open at once the view of the whole city. The Golden Horn runs
right away in front of you, and on the promontory between it and the Sea
of Marmora lies the old town of Stamboul, crowned with the mosques of
St. Sophia and Sultan Achmet. A curious old wooden bridge, some five
hundred yards in length, crosses the Golden Horn and connects it with
Galata, a mass of custom-houses, barracks and offices, broken by a
handsome open square, at one end of which is the Sultan’s mosque. Behind
these the houses are piled up the steep hill side, and at the top stands
the striking old tower of Galata, from which you get the finest view of
Constantinople. Beyond comes Pera, the European quarter, where are the
Embassies and Missouri’s Hotel. Of course a vast city lining such
a harbour and strait as the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus must be
beautiful, but there is something very peculiar in the beauty of
Constantinople, which the splendid site alone will not account for. I
tried hard to satisfy myself what it was, and believe that it lies in
the wonderful colouring of the place. The mosques are splendid, but
not so fine as many Gothic churches, and the houses in general are far
inferior to those of most other capitals; and yet, seen in the mass,
they are strikingly beautiful, for those which are not of wood are
almost all covered with boarding, which is stained or painted in many
different colours. Many of them are a deep russet brown, others slate
gray, or blue, or deep yellow, some pale green with the windows picked
out in red. The colours are not fresh, but toned down. Then very many
of the houses have court-yards, or small gardens, and you get the fresh
foliage of orange-trees, and figs, and cypresses, as a further contrast,
and for flooring and ceiling the blue of the Bosphorus water and of the
cloudless Eastern sky. The moment you get into the wretched, narrow,
unpaved streets, the charm goes; but while you keep to the great high
street of the Bosphorus, I don’t believe there is any such treat in
the world for the lover of colour. And the shape of the houses, too, is
picturesque: as a rule they have flat roofs and deep overhanging eaves,
and rows of many windows with open Venetian shutters. As we have no time
to spare, we will not attempt the town, but stick to the high street.

There are three accepted ways of passing up and down the Bosphorus.
There is the common market-boat of the country--a huge, lumbering,
fiat-bottomed affair, about the size of a Thames lighter, but with high
bows and stern. It is propelled by six or eight boatmen, each pulling a
huge oar some eighteen feet long. They pull a long, steady stroke, each
man stepping up on to the thwart in front of him at the beginning of his
stroke, and throwing himself back till his weight has dragged his oar
through, and he finds himself back on his own seat, from which he at
once springs up and steps forward again for a fresh stroke. It must be
splendid training exercise, and they make a steady four miles an
hour against the stream;--no bad pace, for the boats are loaded with
fruit-baskets and packages and passengers--the veiled women sitting in
a group apart in the stern. Then there are the steamers, which ply every
hour up and down, the express boats touching at one or two principal
piers, and doing the twelve miles from the bridge at Stamboul to
Bajukdere in an hour and a quarter, the others stopping at every pier,
and taking two hours or more. They are Government boats, for passengers
only, and the fares are somewhat higher than those of our Thames
steamers. They have a long glazed cabin on the after-deck for the
first-class male passengers, and a small portion screened off further
aft, where the veiled women are crowded together. Until lately, all
women were accustomed to travel behind this screen, but the unveiled are
beginning to break the rule, and to intrude into the cabin of the lords
of creation. You see the Turks lift their eyebrows slightly as women in
crinoline squeeze by them and take their seats, but it is too late for
any further demonstration. An awning is spread over the whole deck,
cabin and all, and under it the passengers, who are too late to get
seats in the cabin, sit about on small low stools. Such a _colluvies
gentium_ and Babel of tongues no man can see or hear anywhere else I
should think. By your side, perhaps, sits a scrupulously clean old Turk,
with his legs tucked up under him and his slippers on the floor beneath.
He has the vacant hopeless look of an opium-eater, and you see him take
out his little box from his belt, and feel with nervous fingers how
large a pellet he may venture on in consideration of the bad company he
is in. On the other side an English sailor boy, delighted to be able to
talk broad Durham to somebody, is telling you how he has been down to
the bazaars and has bought a “hooble booble,” and a bottle of attar of
roses for the folk at home, and speculating how they would give £5, he
knows, at Sunderland, to see one of those women who look as if they were
done up in grave-clothes. Opposite you have a couple of silky-haired
Persians, with their long soft eyes and clear olive skins, high
head-dresses and sombre robes, and all about a motley crowd of Turks,
Circassians, and Greeks, Europeans with muslin round their wideawakes,
Maltese, English, and French skippers, soldiers in coarse zouave
and other uniforms, most of them smoking, and the waiters (Italians
generally), edging about amongst them all with little brazen
coffee-trays. An artist wishing to draw the heads of all nations could
find no richer field, and in the pursuit of his art would not of course
object to the crush and heat and odour; but as we are more bent on
comfort, we will go up the Bosphorus in the third conveyance indicated
above, a caique--and a more fascinating one can scarcely be conceived.
You may have your caique of any size, from one pair of sculls up to the
splendid twelve-oared state affairs of ambassadors and pashas; but that
with three caiquejees or rowers seems to be the most in use amongst the
rich folk, so we can scarcely do wrong in selecting it.

Our three-manned caique shall belong to an English merchant, the happy
owner of a summer villa at Therapia or Bajukdere. He shall be waiting
for us, and shall board the steamer as it drops anchor opposite Seraglio
Point. While our portmanteau is being fished up from the hold, we have
time to examine critically his turn-out. The caique is about the size
of an old-fashioned four-oar, but more strongly built, with a high sharp
bow and a capital flat floor, and lies on the water as lightly as a wild
duck. The caiquejees’ seats are well forward. The stern is decked for
some eight feet, and in this deck is a hole, so that you can stow your
luggage away underneath. When the ladies use the caique, their _cavass_,
with his red fez, blue braided coat and scimitar, sits grimly with his
legs in the hole and gives their orders to the caiquejees. Comfortable
cushions lying on a small Turkey carpet, between the little deck and
the stretcher of the stroke oar, in the roomiest part of the boat, await
you. You will lounge on them with your shoulders against the deck, a
white umbrella over your head, and a cigarette in your mouth. In the
climate of the Bosphorus, cigarettes of Turkish tobacco supersede all
other forms of the weed. The caiquejees are wiry, bronzed Turks; their
costume, the red fez, a loose coloured jacket, generally blue, which
they strip off for work, and appear in Broussa shirts of camels’ hair
fitting to the body, with loose sleeves reaching only to the elbow, and
baggy white cotton drawers tied at the knee. The stroke wears stockings,
which the others dispense with; each of them keeps his slippers under
his own seat. They each pull a pair of straight sculls fastened to
a single thole pin by a greased thong. You follow your friend and
portmanteau down the gangway and start, and are at once delighted at the
skill with which your crew steer through the crowds of Maltese boats
and caiques, and under great steamers and merchant ships, and fall into
their regular stroke, twenty-eight to the minute, which they never vary
for the whole twelve miles. Their form, too, is all that can be desired,
and would not discredit a London waterman. Turning up the Bosphorus you
soon lose sight of the Golden Horn, and the old rickety bridge which
spans it from Stamboul to Galata. You pull away at first under the
European shore, past the magnificent palace of the present Sultan,
gleaming white in the sun; and then come other huge piles, some tumbling
to pieces, some used as barracks, and private houses of all sizes
and colours, in their little gardens, and warehouses, coffee-shops,
cemeteries, fruit-markets and mosques. Not a yard of the bank but is
occupied with buildings, and the houses are piled far up the hillside
behind. It is the same on the Asiatic side, except that there the houses
next to the water are chiefly those of the rich Turks, as you may guess
from the carefully barred and jalousied windows of the harems, and that
the line of houses is not so deep. And so on for five miles you glide
up the strait, half a mile or more wide, alive with small boats moving
about, and men-of-war steamers riding at anchor, through one continuous
street. Then comes the narrowest part, where the current runs like a
mill-tail against you. On the European side stand the three towers,
connected with battlemented walls, built by Mahomed’s orders in the
winter before the taking of Stamboul and the extinction of the Western
Empire. Roumelie Hissa the point is called now, and behind it rises the
highest hill on the Bosphorus. If it is not too hot, your friend will
land and walk up with you, and when you have reached the top you will
see Olympus and the distant Nicomedian mountains over the Sea of Marmora
to the south, and the whole line of the Bosphorus below you, and the
Giants’ Mountain and the Black Sea away to the north. Behind you lie
wild moorlands, covered with heather and gum cistus, and arbutus bushes,
and a small oak shrub. Here and there in the hollows are small patches
of vines and other culture, with occasional clumps of stone pine and
Scotch fir, and chestnut and beech, amongst which scanty herds of
buffaloes and goats wander, watched by melancholy, truculent-looking
herdsmen, in great yellow capotes and belts, from which a brace of long,
old-fashioned pistols and the hilt of a long straight dagger stick out.
But, desolate as the European side is, it is a garden compared to the
Asiatic. You look across there, and behind the little bright belt of
life along the Bosphorus, there is nothing between you and the horizon
but desert heathery hills, running away as far as the eye can reach,
without a house, a tree, a beast, or the slightest sign of life upon
them. I scarcely ever saw so lovely a view, and it is thrown out into
the most vivid contrast by the life at your feet. You descend to your
caique again, and now are aware of a towing-path which runs at intervals
along in front of the houses. A lot of somewhat wretched-looking Turks
here wait with ropes to tow the caiques and other boats up the rapids.
Your stroke catches the end of the rope, and fastens it, exclaiming,
“_Haidee babai_” (so it sounds), “Push on, my fathers; push on, my
lambs”; and two little Turks, passing the rope over their shoulders,
toil away for some hundred yards, when they are dismissed with a minute
backsheesh. And now the Bosphorus widens out: on the Asiatic side comes
the valley of the Sweet Waters of Asia, and the new kiosk of the Sultan,
which I spoke of before, and afterwards only occasional villages and the
palaces of one or two great pashas. On the European side the houses are
still in continuous line, but begin to get more elbow-room, and only in
the little creeks, where the villages lie, are the hillsides much
built on. Now you begin to see the summer villas of the Europeans,
and accordingly an esplanade faced with stone, and broad enough for
carriages to pass, begins. This upper part of the Bosphorus has its own
charm. The water is rougher, as there is generally a breeze from the
Black Sea; and porpoises roll about, and flocks of sea-swallows (âmes
damnées) flit for ever over the little restless waves. The banks between
the houses and the wild common land of the hill tops are now often taken
into the gardens and cultivated in terraces; and where this is not so
they are clothed with fine Scotch fir and stone pine, and avenues of
cypress of the height of forest trees, with magnificent old gray trunks,
marking where paths run up the hillside or standing up alone like sombre
sentinels. It is not until you get almost to Therapia that there is
any break in the row of houses. Therapia, where Medea is said to have
prepared her potions, is a Greek village, built round a little bay,
the busiest and almost the prettiest place on the Bosphorus. There
are always half a dozen merchantmen lying there, and a sprinkling of
European sailors appear amongst the fezzes frequenting the quays formed
by the esplanade, and there is a café restaurant, and a grog shop,
where the British sailor can be refreshed with the strong liquors of his
country. Behind the village is the little cemetery of the Naval Brigade,
sadly neglected and overshadowed with beech and chestnut trees,
where Captain Lyons and many another fine fellow lie, to whom their
countrywomen have raised a large, simple white marble cross, which
stands up mournfully amongst the tangled grass which creeps over the
rows of nameless graves. One grieves that it is shoved away out of sight
of the Bosphorus, up which the brave fellows all went with such stout
hearts.

You pass more handsome villas and the summer residences of the English
and French ambassadors just above Therapia, and then comes the Bay of
Bajukdere, the broadest part of the Bosphorus, with the village of the
same name on its north shore, the last and handsomest of the suburbs
of Constantinople, where are the other embassies and the palaces of the
richest merchants. It was the place where Godfrey of Bouillon encamped
with his Crusaders. Beyond, the strait narrows again, and runs between
steep cliffs with a sharp turn into the Black Sea, and close to the
mouth are the storm-lashed Symplegades.

You must fill up the picture with ships of all sorts under the flags of
all the nations of the earth passing up and down, and people the banks
with figures in all the quaint and picturesque costumes of the East;
but no effort of imagination, I fear, can realise the frame in which the
whole is set, the water of the Bosphorus, and the unfathomable Eastern
sky. I never had an idea of real depth before. I doubt if it be possible
to imagine it. I am sure it is impossible to forget it.



Athens, 4th October 1862.

We left Constantinople for the Piraeus in a French packet. The sun set
behind Pera just before we started, and at the same moment a priest came
out into the little balcony which runs round each dizzy minaret some
three parts of the way up, and called the faithful to prayer. The poor
faithful! summoned there still at sunrise and sunset to turn towards
Mecca, and fall down before Him who gave that great city, and the fair
European countries behind it, to their fathers:--they must pray and work
hard too if they mean to stay there much longer. We steamed slowly out
from the Golden Horn, round Seraglio Point, and into night on the Sea of
Marmora. I was up early the next morning, and saw the sun rise over the
islands just as we were entering the Dardanelles. We stopped between
Lesbos and Abydos to take in cargo, time enough to charter one of the
fruit boats and pull off for a good swim in that romantic water. By ten
o’clock we were opening the Ægean Sea, with the road close under our
larboard bow and Tenedos in front of us. We saw the mounds on the shore,
known as the tombs of Achilles and Ajax, and so passed on wondering.
There were half a dozen young Englishmen on board, carrying amongst them
a Homer, a _Childe Harold_, and other classics. We had much debate as
we passed point after point as to the possible localities, but I am not
sure that we came to any conclusions which are worth repeating. About
noon, after we had become familiar with island after island, well
remembered as names from school and college days, but now living
realities, a faint peak was discovered in the far north-west. What could
it be? We applied to an officer, and found it was Athos. You may fancy
what the atmosphere was, sir, for Athos must have been at least sixty
miles from us at the time.

Night came on before any of us were tired of the Ægean. Next morning
at daybreak we were off the southern point of Euboea, with the coast
of Attica in sight over the bows. By breakfast-time we were rounding
Sunium, with the fair columns of a temple crowning the height, the
bay of Salamis before us, and “Morea’s Hills” for a background; and
presently the cliffs on the Attic coast gave way to low ground, and one
of our company, who had been in these parts before, startled us with
“There is the Acropolis!” “Where?” Operaglasses were handed about, and
eager looks cast over the plain, till we were aware of a little rocky
hill rising up some three miles from the shore, and a town lying round
the foot of it. The buildings of the town gleamed white enough in the
sun, but the ruins on the Acropolis we could scarcely make out. They
were of a deep yellow, not easily distinguishable on this side, and
at this distance from the rock below. The first sensation was one of
disappointment--we were all candid enough to admit it. We had seen
barren coasts enough, but none so bare as this of Attica. Hymettus lay
on the right, and Pentelicus further away on the north, behind Athens
and the Acropolis; and from their feet right down to the Piraeus, no
tree or shrub or sign of cultivation was visible, except a strip of
sombre green, a mile or so broad, which ran along the middle of the
plain marking the course of the Ilyssus. In the early spring and summer
they do get crops off portions of the plain, but by the end of September
it is as dry, dusty, and bare as the road to Epsom Downs on a Derby Day.

The little arid amphitheatre, not larger than a moderatesized English
county, with its capital and Acropolis, looked so insignificant, and
but for the bright sunshine would have been so dreary, that to keep from
turning away and not taking a second look at it, one was obliged to keep
mentally repeating, “It is Attica, after all!” Matters improved a little
as we got nearer, and before the Acropolis was hidden from our view by
the steep little hill crowned with windmills which rises up between
the Piraeus and Munychia, we could clearly make out the shape of the
Parthenon, and confessed that the rock on which it stood was for its
size a remarkable one, and in a commanding position.

You see nothing of the Piraeus till you round this hill and open the
mouth of the harbour, narrowed to this day by the old Athenian moles, so
that there is scarcely room for two large vessels to pass in it. It is
a lively little harbour enough. Three men-of-war, English, French, and
Greek, were lying there when we entered, and an Austrian Lloyd steamer
and a dozen or two merchantmen. We were surrounded by dozens of boats,
the boatmen dressed in the white cotton petticoats and long red fezzes,
not mere scull-caps like those of the Turks--a picturesque dress enough,
but not to be named for convenience or beauty with that of the Bosphorus
boatmen.

Most of our party started at once for Athens, but I and a companion,
resolved on enjoying the Mediterranean as long as we could, crossed the
hill, and descended to the Munychia for a bath, which we achieved in the
saltest and most buoyant water I have ever been in. The rocks (volcanic,
apparently), on which we dressed and were nearly grilled, were all
covered with incrustations of salt, looking as if there had been a
tremendous frost the night before. After our bath we strolled through
the little port town, hugely amused with the Greek inscriptions over
the shop-doors, and with the lively, somewhat rowdy look and ways of the
place; and, resisting the solicitations of many of the dustiest kind of
cab-drivers, who were hanging about with their vehicles on the look-out
for a fare to Athens, struck across the low marsh land, where the
Ilissus must run when he can find any water to bring down from the
hills, and were soon in amongst the olive groves. Here we were delivered
from the dust at any rate, and in a few minutes met a Greek with a
basket of grapes on his head, from whom, for half a franc, we purchased
six or seven magnificent bunches, and went on our way mightily
refreshed. We had made up our minds to be disappointed with the place,
and so were not sorry to be out of sight of it, and the olive groves
were quite new to us. Some of the old trees were very striking. They
were quite hollow, but bearing crops of fruit still quite merrily, as if
it were all right, and what was left of the trunk was all divided into
grisly old fretwork, as if each root had just run up independently into
a branch, and had never really formed part of the tree. They looked as
if they might be any age--could Plato have sat or walked under some of
them?

Vines grow under the olives, just as currant and gooseberry bushes
under the fruit-trees in our market gardens. They were loaded with fine
grapes, and the vintage was going lazily on here and there. There were
pomegranates too scattered about, the fruit splitting with ripeness. It
was tremendously hot, but the air so light and fresh that walking was
very pleasant. Presently we came to an open space, and caught a glimpse
of the Acropolis; and now that we were getting round to the front of it,
and could catch the outline of the Parthenon against the sky, it began
to occur to us that we had been somewhat too hasty.

In among the olive groves again, and then out on another and another
opening, till at last, when we came upon the _Via sacra_, we could
stand it no longer. The ruins had become so beautiful, and had such an
attraction, that giving up the grove of the Academy and Colonus, which
were not half a mile ahead of us, and which we had meant to visit, we
turned short to the right, and walked straight for the town at a pace
which excited the laughter of merry groups dawdling round the little
sheds where the winepresses were working. The town through which we had
to pass is ugly, dusty, and glaring. There are one or two broad streets,
with locust-trees planted along the sides of them, but not old enough
yet to give shade; and in the place before the palace, on which our
hotel looked, there are a few shrubs and plenty of prickly pears,
which seem to be popular with the Athenians, and are the most misshapen
hot-looking affairs which I have yet met with in the vegetable world.
But shade, shade--one longs for it, and there is none; and the glare and
heat are almost too much, even at the beginning of October--in summer
it must be unendurable. If the Athenians would only take one leaf out of
the book of their old enemies, and stain and paint their houses as the
Turks of the Bosphorus do! But though the houses are as ugly as those of
a London suburb, and there are no tolerable public buildings except
one church, the modern town is a very remarkable one, when one comes
to remember that thirty years ago there were only ten or twelve hovels
here. But you may suppose that one scarcely looks at or thinks of the
modern town; but pushing straight through it, makes for the Acropolis. A
fine broad carriage-road runs round the back of the hill, and so up with
a long sweep to the bottom of the western face, the one which we had
seen from the olive groves. You can manage to pass the stadium and the
columns of Jupiter on your left, as you ascend, without diverging, but
even to reach the Parthenon you cannot go by the theatre of Dionysus,
lying on your right against the northern face of the Acropolis, without
stopping. They are excavating and clearing away the rubbish every day
from new lines of seats; you can trace tier above tier now, right up the
face of the hill, till you get to precipitous cliff; and down below, in
the dress circle, the * marble seats are almost as fresh as the day they
were made; and most comfortable stalls they are, though uncushioned,
with the rank of their old occupants still fresh on them. You could
take your choice and sit in the stall of a [Greek phrase] as you fancied.
Below was the actual stage on which the tragedies of Sophocles and
Æschylus were played to audiences who understood even the toughest
chorus; and, for a background, Hymettus across the plain, and the sea
and islands! We passed yet another theatre as we went up the hill, but
nothing now could turn us from the Parthenon, and certainly it very far
exceeded anything I had ever dreamt of. Every one is familiar with
the shape and position and colour of the ruins from photographs and
paintings. We look at them and admire, and suppose they grew there, or
at any rate scarcely give a thought to how they did get there.

But I’ll defy any man to walk up the Propylæa and about the Parthenon
without being struck with wonder at the simple question, how it all got
there. Can the stories we have all been taught be true? Leaving beauty
altogether out of the question, here you are in the midst of the wreck
of one of the largest buildings you ever were in. You see that it was
built of blocks of white marble; that the columns are formed of these
blocks, each some four feet high, and so beautifully fitted together
that at the distance of two thousand years you very often cannot find
the joints, except where the marble is chipped. You see that the whole
of this building was originally surrounded by most elaborate sculpture;
you see that the whole side of the hill up which you approach the
great temple was converted into a magnificent broad staircase of white
marble--in short, you see probably the greatest architectural feat that
has ever been done in the world, and are told that it was done by a
small tribe--not more numerous than the population of a big English
town--who lived in that little barren corner of earth which you can
overlook from end to end from your standing-place, in the lifetime of
one generation; that Pericles thought the idea out, and the Athenians
quarried the marble, carried it up there, carved it, and built it up, in
his lifetime. Well, it _is_ hard to believe; but when one has sat down
on one of the great blocks, and looked over Salamis and Ægina, and the
Isthmus of Corinth, and then down at the groves of the Academy and
the Pynx and the Areopagus, and remembered that at this very time the
thoughts, and methods of thought, of that same small tribe are still
living, and moulding the minds of all the most civilised and powerful
nations of the earth, the physical wonder, as usual, dwarfs and gives
way before the spiritual. We saw the sunset, of course, from the front
of the Parthenon, and then descended to the Areopagus, and stood on,
or at any rate within a few feet of, the place where the glorious old
Hebrew of the Hebrews stood, and looking up at those marvellous temples
made by man, spoke a strange story in the ears of the crowd, whose only
pleasure was to hear or tell some new thing. It is the only place where
I have ever come in my journeyings right across the Scripture narrative,
and certainly the story shines out with new light after one has stood on
the very rock, and felt how the scene before Paul’s eyes must have moved
him.

We got to our inn after dark, and after dining went to a Greek play.
Theatre and acting both decidedly second-rate, the audience consisting
chiefly of officers--smart-looking young fellows enough. There were two
murders in the first act, but I regret to say that we could none of us
make out the story of the play. There were half a dozen young men, all
with good brains, none of whom had left our Universities more than two
years, at which the Greek language is all but the most prominent
study, and yet they might as well have been hearing Arabic. As for
myself--unluckily my ear is so bad that I can never catch words which
are not familiar to me--on this occasion, indeed, I could almost have
sworn the actors were using French words. But it really is a pity that
we can’t take to the modern Greek pronunciation in England. One goes
into Athens, and can read all the notices and signs, and even spell
through a column of newspaper with a little trouble, and yet, though one
would give one’s ears to be able to talk, cannot understand a word,
or make oneself understood. We managed, however, to get a clear enough
notion that something serious was going to happen; and from several
persons, French, Italian, and Greek, learned positively that Prince
Alfred was to be King of Greece shortly, which remarkable proposition
has since spread widely over the world. We sailed from Athens, after
a two days’ stay, in an Austrian Lloyd boat. The sailors were all
Italians, and there were certainly not much more than half the number
which we found on the French boat from Constantinople. And yet the
Austrian Lloyd Company has not lost a boat since it was a company, and
the Messageries Impériales have done nothing but lose theirs. Happily,
the French are not natural sailors, or there would be no peace on sea or
land.



The Run Home, October 1862.

We ran from Athens to Syra through the islands, in a bright moonlight,
and half a gale of wind, the most enjoyable combination of circumstances
in the world for those who are not given to sea-sickness. The island is
a rock almost as bare as Hymettus, and that is the most barren simile I
can think of--any hill in the Highlands would look like a garden beside
it. But it has a first-rate small harbour, which has become the central
packet-station of the Levant; and the town which has sprung up round
the harbour is the most stirring place in the East, and the commercial
capital of Greece. A very quaint place to look at, too, is Syra, for
at the back of the lower town, which lies round the harbour, rises a
conical hill, very steep, right up to the top of which a second town is
piled, with the Bishop’s palace on the highest point. This second, or
pyramidal, town is built on terraces, and is only accessible to foot
passengers, who ascend by a broad stone staircase, running from the
lower town up to the Bishop’s palace, and so bisecting the pyramid.
As restless a place as ever I was in, in which nothing seems to be
produced, but everything in the world exchanged--a very temple of
the Trade Goddess, of whom I should say there are few more devout or
successful worshippers than the Greeks. Here we waited through a long
broiling day for the steamer, which was to take us westward--homewards.

In travelling there is only one pleasure which can be named with the
start--that luxurious moment when one unstrings the bow, and leaving
one’s common pursuits and everyday life, plunges into new scenes--and
that is, the turning home. I had never been so far or so long away from
England before, so that the sensation was proportionately keen as
we settled into our places in the _Pluto_, one of the finest of the
Austrian Lloyd boats, which was to take us to Trieste. And a glorious
run we made of it. In the morning we were off the Lacedaemonian coast.
Almost as bare, this home of the Spartans, as that of their old rivals
in Attica; in fact, all the south of the Peloponnesus is barren rock. We
might almost have thrown a stone on to Cape Matapan as we passed. Above,
the western coast soon begins to change its character, and scanty pine
forests on the mountains, and not unfrequent villages, with more or less
of cultivated land round them, are visible. Towards evening we steam
past the entrance of Navarino Bay, scarcely wider than that of Dartmouth
harbour, but with room inside for four modern fleets to ride and fight;
as likely a place for a corsair to haunt and swoop out of, in old days,
as you could wish to see. Night fell, and we missed the entrance to the
Gulf of Corinth; and Ithaca, alas! was also out of sight astern before
we were on deck again. But we could not complain; the Albanian coast,
under which we were running, was too beautiful to allow us a moment for
regret--mountains as wild and barren, and twice as high, as those of
Southern Greece, streaked with rich valleys, and well-clothed lower
hills. By midday we were ashore at Corfu, driving through the old
Venetian streets, and on, over English macadamised roads, through olive
groves finer than those of Attica, up to the one-gun battery--the finest
view in the fairest island of the world. Bathing, and lunching, and all
but letting the steamer go on without us! Steaming away northward again,
leaving the shade of the union-jack under which we had revelled for a
few hours, and the delightful sound of the vernacular in the mouth of
the British soldiers, for a twenty-four hours’ run up the Adriatic, and
into Trieste harbour, just in time to baulk a fierce little storm which
came tearing down from the Alps to meet us.

Trieste is the best paved town I was ever in, and otherwise internally
attractive, while in the immediate neighbourhood, on the spurs of the
great mountains and along the Adriatic shore, are matchless sites for
country houses, and many most fascinating houses on them. For choice,
the situation, to my mind, even beats the celebrated hills round Turin,
for the view of the Adriatic turns the scale in favour of the former.
But neither city nor neighbourhood held us, and we hurried on to Venice
by rail, with the sea on our left, and the great Alpine range on our
right--now close over us, now retiring--the giant peaks looking dreamily
down on us through a hot shadowy haze all the day long. Poor Venice! we
lingered there a few days amidst pictures and frescoes and marbles; at
night drinking our coffee in the Place of St. Mark, on the Italian
side, watching the white and blue uniforms on the other, and hearing the
Austrian military band play, or gliding in a gondola along the moonlit
grand canal. English speculators are getting a finger in house property
at Venice. There were placards up in English on a dozen of the palaces,
“To be let or sold,” with the direction of the vendors below. What does
this portend? Let us hope not restoration on Camberwell or Pentonville
principles of art.

Then we sped westward again, getting an hour in the Giotto chapel
at Padua, a long day at Verona, amongst Roman ruins and Austrian
fortifications, and the grand churches, houses, and tombs of the
Scaligers. Over the frontier, then, into Italy. ‘While the Austrian
officials diligently searched baggage and spelt out passports, I
consoled myself with getting to a point close to the station, pointed
out by a railway guard, and taking a long look at the heights of
Solferino and the high tower--the watch-tower of Italy, a mile or two
away to the south. To Milan, through mulberries and vines--rich beyond
all fancy; the country looked as we passed as if peace and plenty had
set up their tent there. But little enough of either was there in the
people’s homes. The news of Garibaldi’s capture and wound was stirring
men’s minds fearfully; and all the cotton mills, too, of which there
are a good number scattered about, were just closing; wages, already
fearfully low, were falling in other trades. I came across a Lancashire
foreman, who had escaped the day before from the mill in which he had
been employed for five years, and only just escaped with his life.
Sixteen men had been stabbed and carried to the hospitals in the closing
row. He was making the best of his way back. “What was the state of
things in Lancashire to what he had just got out of,” he answered, when
I spoke of our distress. “He had been standing for three hours and more
in a dark corner, with two men within a few feet of him waiting to stab
him.” I rejoice to say that in the streets of Milan we saw everywhere
unmistakable signs that Italy is beginning to appreciate her faithful
ally. Some of the best political caricatures were as good as could
be--as Doyle’s or Leech’s--and bitter as distilled gall. At Turin we
had time to see the monuments of the two Queens, the mother and wife
of Victor Emmanuel, in a little out-of-the-way Church of Our Lady
of Consolation, where they used constantly to worship in life; their
statues are kneeling side by side in white marble--as touching a
monument as I have ever seen. Murray does not mention it (his last
edition was out before it was put up), so some stray reader of yours
may perhaps thank me for the hint. Over the Mount Cenis, and down into
Savoy, past the mouth of the tunnel which, in six years or so, is to
take us under the Alps to the lovely little town of St. Michael, where
the rail begins, we went, pitying the stout king from whom so beautiful
a birthplace had been filched by the arch robber; and so day and night
to Paris; and, after a day’s breathing, a drive along the trim
new promenades of the Bois de Boulogne, and a look round the
ever-multiplying new streets of the capital of cookery and gilded
mirrors, in ten hours to London.

Poor dear old London! groaning under the last days of the Great
Exhibition. After those bright, brave, foreign towns, how dingy, how
unkempt and uncared for thou didst look! From London Bridge station we
passed through a mile and a half of the most hideous part of Southwark
to the west. Even in the west, London was out at elbows, the roads used
up, the horses used up; the omnibus coachmen and cads,--the cabbies, the
police, the public, all in an unmistakable state of chronic seediness
and general debility. In spic-and-span Paris yesterday, and here to-day!
Well, one could take thee a thought cleaner and more cheerful, and be
thankful, Old London; but after all, as we plunge into thy fog and reek
and roar, and settle into our working clothes again, we are surer than
ever of one thing, which must reconcile any man worth his salt to making
thee his home,--thou art unmistakably the very heart of the old world.



Dieppe, Sunday, 13th September 1863.

I have just come away from hearing a very remarkable sermon at the
Protestant church here, of which I should like to give you some idea
before it goes out of my head. The preacher was a M. Bevel, a native of
Dieppe, now a minister at Amsterdam, where he has a high reputation. He
is here visiting his mother, which visit I should say is likely to be
cut short if he goes on preaching such sermons as he gave us to-day, or
else a liberty is allowed in the pulpit in France which is not to be
had elsewhere. The service began with a hymn. Then a layman read out
the Commandments at a desk. Then we sang part of Psalm xxv.; one of the
verses ran:

                   Qui craint Dieu, qui veut bien,

                   Jamais ne s’égarera,

                   Car au chemin qu’il doit suivre

                   Dieu même le conduira--

                   À son aise et sans ennui

                   Il verra le plus long âge,

                   Et ses enfans après lui

                   Auront la terre en partage.

Good healthy doctrine this, and an apt introduction to the sermon. While
we were singing, M. Revel mounted the pulpit. He is a man of thirty-five
or thereabouts; middlesized, bald, dark; with a broad brow, large
gray eyes, and sharp, well-cut features. After two short extempore
prayers--almost the only ones I have ever heard in which there was
nothing offensive--he began his sermon on a text in Ecclesiastes. As it
had little bearing on the argument, and was never alluded to again, I do
not repeat it.

“There is much talk,” M. Revel began, “in our day about an order of
nature. All acknowledge it; as science advances it is found more and
more to be unchangeable. We ought to rejoice in this unchangeableness
of the order of nature, for it is a proof of the existence of a God
of order. Had we found the earth all in confusion it would have been a
proof that there could be no such God. But this God has established
a moral order for man as unchangeable as the order of nature. It was
recognised by the heathen who worshipped Nemesis. The whole of history
is one long witness to this moral order, but we need not go back far for
examples. Look at Poland, partitioned by three great monarchs, and at
what is happening and will happen there. Look at America, the land of
equality, of freedom, of boundless plenty, and what has come on her for
the one great sin of slavery. Look at home, at the story of the great
man who ruled France at the beginning of our new era, the man of
success--‘_qui éblouissait lui-même en éblouissant les autres_,’ who
answered by victory upon victory those who maintained that principle had
still something to say to the government of the world, and remember his
end on the rock in mid-ocean.

“Be sure, then, that there is an unchangeable moral order, and this
is the first law of it, ‘_Qui fait du mal fait du malheur_.’ The most
noticeable fact in connection with this moral order which our time is
bringing out is the _solidarité_ of the human race. The _solidarité_ of
the family and the nation was recognised in old times. Now, commerce and
intercourse are breaking down the barriers of nations. A rebellion in
China, a war in America, is felt at once in France, and the full truth
is dawning upon us that nothing but a universal brotherhood will satisfy
men. But you may say that punishment follows misdoing so slowly that the
moral order is virtually set aside. Do not believe it. ‘_Qui fait du
mal fait du malheur_.’ The law is certain; but if punishment followed
at once, and fully, on misdoing, mankind would be degraded. On the other
hand, ‘_Qui fait du bon fait du bonheur_,’ and this law is equally fixed
and unchangeable in the moral order of the world.

“You may wonder that I have scarcely used the name of Christ to you
to-day; but what need? I have spoken of humanity; He is the Son of Man,
of a universal brotherhood which has no existence without Him, of which
He is the founder and the head.”

As we came out of church it was amusing to hear the comments of
the audience, at least of the English portion. Some called it rank
Socialism, others paganism, others good sound Christian teaching; but
all seemed to agree that it was very stirring stuff, and that this
would be the last time that M. Bevel would be allowed to address his old
fellow-townsmen from the pulpit. Indeed, his sketch of Napoleon I. was
much too true to be acceptable to Napoleon III., and though his doctrine
of universal brotherhood may be overlooked, I should scarcely think that
his historical views can be. I was utterly astonished myself to hear
such a sermon in a French pulpit. I had never heard M. Bevel before; but
his reputation, which seems to be very great, is thoroughly deserved.
The sermon of which I have tried to give you a skeleton lasted for fifty
minutes, and never flagged for a moment. Sometimes he was familiar and
colloquial, sometimes impassioned, sometimes argumentative, but always
eloquent. He spoke with his whole body as well as with his voice, which
last organ was managed with rare skill; and, indeed, every faculty of
the man was thoroughly trained for his work, and so well trained, that
notwithstanding my English dislike to action or oratory in a pulpit, I
never felt that it was overdone or in bad taste. In short, I never heard
such scientific preaching, and came away disabused of the notion that
extempore sermons must be either flat, or vulgar, or insincere. I only
wish our young parsons would take the same pains in cultivating their
natural gifts as M. Revel has done, and hope that any of them who may
chance to read this will take an opportunity the next time they are at
Amsterdam of going to hear M. Revel, and taking a lesson. I have been
trying to satisfy myself for the last three days what it is which makes
this town so wonderfully different from any English provincial town of
the same size. I do not mean the watering-place end of it next the sea,
which is composed of the crystal palace known as the _établissement des
bains_, great hotels, and expensive lodging-houses,--this quarter
is inhabited by strangers of all nations, and should be compared to
Brighton or Scarborough,--but the quiet old town behind, which has
nothing in common with the watering-place, and is as hum-drum a place
as Peterborough. As far as I can make out, the difference lies in the
enjoyment which these Dieppois seem to take in their daily business. We
are called a nation of shopkeepers now by all the world, so I suppose
there must be some truth in the nickname. But certainly the Englishman
does his shopkeeping with a very bad grace, and not the least as if he
liked it. He sits or stands at his counter with grim, anxious face,
and it requires an effort, after one has entered his trap and asked a
question as to any article, to retire without buying. The moment his
closing time comes, up go the shutters, and he clears out of the shop,
and takes himself off out of sight and hearing of it as fast as he can.
But here in Dieppe (and the rule holds good, I think, in all French
towns) the people seem really to delight in their shops, and by
preference to live in them, and in the slice of street in front of them,
rather than in any other place. In fact, the shops seem to be convenient
places opened to enable their owners to _causer_ with the greatest
possible number of their neighbours and other people, rather than places
for the receipt of custom and serious making of money. I doubt if any
man is a worse hand at shopping than I, and yet I can go boldly into any
shop here, and turn over the articles, and chaffer over them, and then
go out without buying, and yet feel that I have conferred a benefit
rather than otherwise on the proprietor of the establishment. And as to
closing time, there is no such thing. The only difference seems to be
that after a certain hour, if you choose to walk into a shop, you will
probably find yourself in a family party. No one turns off the gas until
he goes to bed, so as you loiter along you have the advantage of seeing
everything that is going on, and the inhabitants have what they clearly
hold to be an equivalent, the opportunity of looking at and talking
about you. The master of the shop sits at his ease, sometimes reading
his journal, sometimes still working at his trade in an easygoing way,
as if it were a pleasure to him, and chatting away as he works. His wife
is either working with her needle or casting up the accounts of the day,
but in either case is ready in a moment to look up and join in any
talk that may be going on. The younger branches of the family disport
themselves on the floor, or play dominoes on the counter, or flirt with
some neighbour of the opposite sex who has dropped in, in the further
corners. The pastrycooks’ seem favourite social haunts, and often you
will find two or three of the nearest shops deserted, and the inmates
gathered in a knot round the sleek, neatly-shaved citizens who preside
in spotless white caps, jackets, and aprons, over these temples of good
things. In short, the life of the Dieppe burgher is not cut into sharp
lengths as it would be with us, one of which is religiously set apart
for trade and nothing else. Business and pleasure seem with him to be
run together, and he surrounds the whole with a halo of small-talk
which seems to make life run off wonderfully easily and happily to him.
Whether his method of carrying on trade results in as good articles as
with us I cannot say, for the Dieppois is by no means guileless enough
to part with his wares cheap, so that I have had very little experience
of them. But certainly the general aspect of his daily life, so much
more easy, so much more social than that of his compeer in England,
has a good deal of fascination about it. On better acquaintance very
possibly the charm might disappear, but at first one is inclined
strongly to wish that we could take a leaf out of his book, and learn
to take things more easily. The wisdom which has learnt that there are
vastly few things in this world worth worrying about will, I fear, be a
long time in leavening the British nation.

The people of Dieppe are a remarkably well-conducted and discreet
folk in every way--wonderfully so when one considers their close
neighbourhood to the richest and most fashionable crowd which frequents
any French watering-place. Of these, and their amusements, and habits,
and wonderful costumes in and out of the sea, I have no room to speak in
this letter. They are now gone, or fast going, and this is the time
for people of moderate means and quiet tastes, who wish to enjoy the
deliciously exciting air and pretty scenery of this very charming old
sea town, which furnished most of the ships for the invasion of England
eight hundred years ago, and will well repay the costs of a counter
invasion. Only let the English invader take care when he sets his foot
on the Norman shore, unless he thinks it worth while to be fleeced for
the honour and glory of being under the same roof with French dukes,
Russian princes, and English milords, to give a wide berth to the Hotel
Royal. I am happy to say I do not speak from personal experience, but
only give voice to the universal outcry against the extortion of this
huge hotel, the most fashionable in Dieppe. The last story is that
an English nobleman travelling with a courier, who arrived late one
evening, did not dine, and left early the next morning, had to pay a
bill of 75 francs for his entertainment. The bill must have been a work
of-high art.

I hope in another letter to give you some notions of the watering-place
life, which is very quaint and amusing, and as unlike our seaside doings
as the old town is unlike our ordinary towns.



Bathing at Dieppe, 17th September 1863.

That great work, the _Sartor Resartus_, should have contained a chapter
on bathing-dresses, and I have no doubt would have done so had the
author been a frequenter of French watering-places. Each of these--even
such a little place as Treport--has its _établissement des bains_, its
etiquettes and rules as to the dress and comportment of its bathing
populations; and Dieppe is the largest, and not the least quaint, of
them all. The _établissement_ here is a long glass and iron building
like the Crystal Palace, with a dome in the middle, under which there
are daily concerts and nightly balls; and a transept at each end, one
of which is a very good reading-room, while in the other a mild kind
of gambling goes on, under the form of a lottery, for smelling bottles,
clocks, and such like ware. I am told that the play here is by no means
so innocent as it looks, and that persons in search of investments for
spare cash can be accommodated to any amount, but to a stranger nothing
of this discloses itself. Between this building and the sea there runs a
handsome esplanade, the favourite promenade, and immediately underneath
are the rows of little portable canvas huts which serve as bathing
machines. The ladies bathe under one end of the esplanade, and the
gentlemen under the other, while the fashionable crowd leans over,
or sits by the low esplanade wall, inspecting the proceedings.
This contiguity is, no doubt, the cause of the wonderful toilets,
_spécialités des bains_, which fill the shops here, and are used by all
the ladies and many of the men. They consist of large loose trousers and
a jacket with skirts, made of fine flannel or serge, of all shades of
colour according to taste, and of waterproof bathing caps, all of which
garments are trimmed with blue, or pink, or red bows and streamers. Over
all the _baigneurs comme il faut_ throw a large cloak, also tastefully
trimmed. Thus habited the lady walks out of her hut attended by a maid,
to whom when she reaches the water’s edge she hands her cloak, and,
taking the hand of one of the male _baigneurs_, proceeds with such
plunges and dancings as she has a fancy for, and then returns to the
shore, is enveloped in her cloak by her maid, and re-enters her hut.
These male _baigneurs_ are a necessary accompaniment of the performance.
I have only heard of one case of resistance to the custom, which ended
comically enough. A young Englishman, well known in foreign society, was
here with his wife, who insisted on bathing, but vowed she would go into
the water with no man but her husband. He consented, and in due course
appeared on the ladies’ side with his pretty wife, in most discreet
apparel, went through the office of _baigneur_, and returned to his own
side. This raised a storm among the lady bathers, and the authorities
interfered. The next day the lady went to the gentlemen’s side; but this
was even more scandalous, and was also forbidden. The persecuted couple
then took; to bathing at six in the morning; but, alas! on the second
morning the esplanade was lined even at that untimely hour by young
Frenchmen, who, though by no means early risers, had made a point of
being out to assist at the bath of their eccentric friends, and as
these last did not appreciate the _éclat_ of performing alone for the
amusement of their friends, the lawless efforts of _ces Anglais_ came to
an end. In England, where dress for the water is not properly attended
to by either sex, one quite understands the rule of absolute separation;
but here, where every lady is accompanied by a man in any case, where
she is more covered than she is in a ballroom, and where all her
acquaintance are looking on, it does not occur to one why she should not
be accompanied by her husband. For, as on the land, here people are much
better known by their dress in the water than by anything else. A young
gentleman asked one of his partners whether she had seen him doing some
particular feat of swimming that morning; she answered that she had not
recognised him, to which he replied, “Oh! you may always know me by my
straw hat and red ribbon.” The separation here is certainly a farce, for
at sixty yards, as we know from our musketry instructors, you recognise
the features of the party; and the distance between the men and women
bathers is not so much. The rule is enforced, however, at any depth. A
brother and sister, both good swimmers, used to swim out and meet one
another at the boat which lies in the offing in case of accidents. But
this was stopped, as they talked together in English, which excited
doubts as to their relationship. I suppose it would be more improper for
girls and boys of marriageable age to swim together than to walk; but I
vow at this moment I cannot see why.

You may fancy, sir, that in such a state of things as I have described,
good stories on the great bathing subject are rife. The last relates
to a beauty of European celebrity, who is known to be here and to be
bathing, but keeps herself in such strict privacy that scarcely a soul
has been able to get a look at her, even behind two thick veils. Had
she really wished to be unnoticed she could not have managed worse. The
mystery set all the female world which frequents the _établissement_ in
a tremor. They were like a knot of sportsmen when a stag of ten tines
has been seen in the next glen, or when a 30 lb. salmon has broken the
tackle of some cunning fisherman, and is known to lie below a certain
stone. Of course, they were sure that something dreadful must have
happened to her looks, which she who should be happy enough to catch her
bathing would detect. In spite of all, the beauty eluded them for some
time, but at last she has been stalked, and I am proud to say, sir, by a
sportswoman of our own country. By chance this lady was walking at eight
in the morning, when the tide was so low that no one was bathing. She
saw a figure dressed _en bourgeoise_ approaching the bathing-place,
apparently alone, but two women suspiciously like maids followed at a
respectful distance. It flashed across our countrywoman that this must
be the incognita; she followed. To her delight, the three turned to
the bathing-ground, and disappeared in two huts which had been placed
together apparently by accident. She took up a position a few yards from
the huts. After an agonising pause the door opened, and a head appeared,
which was instantly withdrawn, but now too late. The mystery was solved.
It was too late-to send maids to the _directeur_ of the baths to warn
off the spectator, and, moreover, useless, for she politely declined to
move, though there was nothing more to discover. The whole establishment
is ringing with the news that the beauty is _pale comme une morte_, and
the inference, of course, follows that paint has been forbidden. You
will also, sir, no doubt, be interested to know that she wears a red
rose on the top of her bathing-cap, which, having regard to her present
complexion, does not say much for her taste in the choice of colours.

But if the water toilets here are fabulous, what shall I say of those on
the land? The colours, the textures, the infinite variety, and general
loudness of these bewilder the sight and baffle the pen of ordinary
mortals. The keenest rivalry is kept up amongst the fair frequenters
of the establishment. They sit by hundreds there working and casing of
afternoons, while the band plays from three to six, or sweeping about
on the esplanade; and in the evening are there again in ever new and
brighter colours. The _Dieppe Journal_ comments on the most striking
toilets. It noticed with commendation the purple velvet petticoats
of the ladies of a millionaire house; it glowed in describing the
“_toilette Écossaise_” of another rich Frenchwoman. An officer on
reading the announcement laid down the paper, and addressed a lady, his
neighbour, “Mais, madame, comment est que ça se fait?” He, worthy man,
had but one idea of the toilet in question, which he had gained from the
Highland regiments in the Crimea. I am happy to say, both for their own
sakes and their husbands and fathers, that the Englishwomen are by
far the most simply dressed. The men generally speaking are clad like
rational beings, but with many exceptions. I hear of a celebrity in gray
velvet knickerbockers and pink silk stockings, but have not seen him. A
man in a black velvet suit, and a red beard reaching his waist, has just
walked past, without apparently exciting wonder in any breast but that
of your contributor.

Dieppe must be a paradise to the rising generation. The children share
all the amusements of their elders, and have also special entertainments
of their own, amongst which one notes specially two balls a week at the
establishment. The whole building is brilliantly lighted every evening,
and on these nights the space under the central dome is cleared of
chairs, and makes a splendid ballroom. Here the little folk assemble,
and go through the whole performance solemnly, just like their elders.
The raised permanent seats are occupied by mammas, nurses, governesses,
and the public. The girls sit round on the lowest seats, and the boys
gather in groups talking to them, or walking about in the centre. They
are of all nations, in all costumes--one boy in a red Garibaldian blouse
and belt I noted as the most dangerous flirt. There were common English
jackets and trousers, knickerbockers of many colours, and many little
blue French uniforms. There was no dancer older than fifteen, and some
certainly as young as seven. When the music began, the floor was at once
covered with couples, who danced quadrilles, waltzes, and a pretty dance
like the Schottische, to the tune of “When the green leaves come again.”
 At the end of each dance the girls were handed to their chairs with bows
worthy of Beau Brummel. There were at least 200 grown folk looking
on, and a prettier sight I have seldom seen, for the children danced
beautifully for the most part. Should I like my children to be amongst
them? That is quite another affair. On the whole, I incline to agree
with the ladies with whom I went, that it would, perhaps, do boys good,
but must be utterly bad for the girls. I certainly never saw before so
self-possessed a set of young gentlemen as those in question, and doubt
if any one of them will ever feel shy in after-life.

Last Sunday afternoon: again, we had a _fete des vacances_ for the
children. The _Gazette des Bains_ announced, “À deux heures, ascensions
grotesques, l’enlèvement du phoque; à deux heures et demie, distribution
de jouets et bonbons; à trois heures, course à ânes, montés par des
jockeys grosse-tête,”--a most piquant programme. Not to mention the
other attractions, what could the _enlèvement du phoque_ be? In good
time I went into the _établissement_ grounds at the cost of a franc, and
was at once guided by the crowd to the brink of a small pond, where
sure enough a veritable live seal was swimming about, asking us all as
plainly as mild brown eyes could speak what all the rout meant, and then
diving smoothly under, to appear again on the other side of the pond.
Were the cruel Frenchmen actually going to send the gentle beast up into
the air? My speculations were cut short by the first comic ascent and
the shouts of the juveniles. A figure very like Richard Doyle’s Saracens
in the illustrations to Rebecca and Rowena, with large head, bottle
nose, and little straight arms and legs, mounted suddenly into the
air, and went away, wobbling and bobbing, before the wind. Another and
another followed, as fast as they could be filled with gas. The wind
blew towards the town, and there was great excitement as to their
destiny, for they rose only to about the height of the houses. I own
I was surprised to find myself so deeply interested whether the absurd
little Punchinellos would clear the chimneys. One only failed, a fellow
in a three-cornered hat like a beadle’s, and, refusing to mount, was
soon torn in pieces by the boys. The last was a balloon of the figure
of a seal, and I was much relieved when we all trooped away to the
distribution of _bonbons_, leaving the real phoca still gliding about in
his pond with wondering eyes. The _bonbons_ were distributed in the most
polite manner, the handfuls which were thrown amongst the crowd only
calling forth a “Pardon Monsieur,” “Pardon Mademoiselle,” as they were
picked up, instead of the hurly-burly and scramble we should have had at
home. The donkey races might better be called processions, which went
three times round the _établissement_. The winner was ridden by a jockey
whose _grosse tête_ was that of a cock, in compliment, I suppose, to the
national bird; the lion jockey was nowhere, but he beat the cook’s boy,
who came in last. The figures were well got up, and some of the heads
really funny. At night we had fireworks, and a grand pyrotechnic drama
of the taking of the old castle, which stands on the chalk cliff right
over the _établissement_ and commanding the town. The garrison joined in
the fun, and assaulted the walls twice amidst discharges of rockets and
great guns. The third assault was successful, and the red-legged
soldiers swarmed on the walls in a blaze of light and planted the
tricolour. A brilliant scroll of “_Vive l’Empéreur_” came out on the
dark castle walls above their heads, and so the show ended. The castle,
by the way, is a most picturesque building. One of the towers has been
favourably noticed by Mr. Ruskin. It is also to be reverenced as the
stronghold of Henry IV. and the Protestants. It was here, just before
the battle of Arques, that he made the celebrated answer to a
faint-hearted ally, who spoke doubtfully as to the disparity of numbers,
“You forget to count God and the good cause, who are on our side.” It
will never be of any use in modern warfare, but makes a good barrack and
a most magnificent place for a pyrotechnic display for the delectation
of young folk, in which definition for these purposes may be included
the whole of the population of France.

As I am writing, a troop of acrobats pass along the green between this
hotel and the sea, followed by a crowd of boys. There is the strong man
in black velvet carrying the long balancing triangle, on which he is
about to support the light fellow in yellow who walks by his side.

There is an athletic fellow in crimson breeches, carrying a table on his
head, and a clown with two chairs accompanying. There they have pitched
on the green, and are going to begin, and the English boys are
leaving their cricket, and the French boys their kites and indiarubber
handballs, and a goodly ring is forming, out of which, if they are
decent tumblers, I hope they may turn an honest franc or two.

They are not only decent but capital tumblers, the best I have seen for
many a day, especially the man in crimson. He has balanced three glasses
full of water on his forehead, and then lain down on his back, and
passed himself, tumblers and all, through two small hoops. He has placed
one chair upon the table, and then has tilted the second chair on
two legs upon the seat of the first, and on this fearfully precarious
foundation has been balancing himself with his legs straight up in the
air while I could count thirty! The strong man has just run up behind
the man in yellow, who was standing with his legs apart, and, stooping,
has put his head between the yellow man’s legs and thrown him a backward
somersault! I must positively go down and give them half a franc. It is
a swindle to look on at such good tumbling for nothing.

P.S.--Imagine my delight, sir, when I got down on the green to find they
were the tumblers of my native land. They joined a French circus for a
tour some weeks back, but could get no money, and so broke off and
are working their way home. They can speak no French, and find it very
difficult to get leave to perform, as they have to do in all French
towns. The crowd of English boys seemed to be doing their duty by them,
so I hope they will speedily be able to raise their passage-money and
return to the land of double stout and liberty.



Normandy, 20th September 1863.

To an Englishman with little available spare cash and time, and in want
of a thorough change of scene and air, which category I take to include
a very handsome percentage of our fellow-countrymen, I can recommend a
run in Normandy without the slightest hesitation. I am come to the age
when one learns to be what the boys call _cocksure_ of nothing in this
world, but am, nevertheless, prepared to take my stand on the above
recommendation without fear or reservation. For in Normandy he will get
an exquisitely light and bracing air, a sky at least twice as far off
as our English one (which alone will raise his spirits to at least twice
their usual altitude), a pleasant, lively, and well-to-do people, a
picturesque country, delicious pears, and, to an Englishman, some of the
most interesting old towns in the world out of his own island. All this
he may well enjoy for ten days for a five-pound note, or thereabouts, in
addition to his return fare to Dieppe or Havre. So let us throw up our
insular vacation wide-awakes, and bless the men who invented steam, and
pears, and Norman architecture, “and everything in the world beside,”
 as the good old song of “the leathern bottèl” has it, and start for
the fair land from which our last conquerors came before the days get
shorter than the nights. Alas! how little of that blissful time now
remains to us of the year of grace 1863.

It is some few years, I forget how many, since I was last in a Norman
town, and must confess that in some respects they have changed for the
better, externally at least, now that the Second Empire has had time
to make itself felt in them. All manner of police arrangements, the
sweeping, lighting, and paving, are marvellously improved, and there is
an air of prosperity about them which does one good. Even in Rouen, the
centre of their cotton district, there are scarcely any outward signs of
distress, although, so far as I could see, not more than one in three
of the mills is at work. I was told that there are still nearly 30,000
operatives out of work in the town and neighbourhood, who have no means
of subsistence except any odd job they can pick up to earn a few sous
about the quays and markets, but if it be so they kept out of sight
during my wanderings about the town. But there is one characteristic
sign of the empire to be noted in all these same Norman towns, for
which strangers will not feel thankful, though the inhabitants may. The
building and improving fever is on them all. In Rouen, amongst other
improvements, a broad new street is being made right through some of the
oldest parts of the town, from the quays straight up to the boulevards,
which it joins close by the railway-station. This Grand Rue de
l’Empereur will be a splendid street when finished, to judge by the few
houses which are already built at the lower end. Meantime, the queer
gables of the houses whose neighbours have been destroyed, and a chapel
or two, and an old tower, standing out all by itself, which would make
the architectural fortune of any other city, and which find themselves
with breathing room now, for the first time, I should think, in the
last five hundred years, look down ruefully on the cleared space, in
anticipation of the hour rapidly approaching, when they will be again
shut out from human ken by four-storied stone palaces, and this time,
undoubtedly, for good and all. They can never hold up until another
improving dynasty arrives.

At Havre the same process is going on. New houses are springing up all
along the new boulevards. Between the town and Frescati’s great hotel
and bathing establishment, which faces the sea, there used to stand a
curious old round tower of great size, which commanded the mouth of
the harbour, and some elaborate fortifications of more modern date. All
these have been levelled, old and new together, and the ground is now
clear for building, and will, no doubt, be covered long before I shall
see it again. Large seaports are always interesting towns, and Havre,
besides the usual attractions of such places, has a sort of shop in
greater perfection than any other port known to me. In these you can
buy or inspect curiosities, alive and dead, from all parts of the world.
Parrots of all colours of the rainbow scream at the door, long cages
full of love-birds, and all manner of other delicate little feathered
creatures one has never seen elsewhere, hang on the walls, or stand
about amongst china monsters, and cases of amber, and inlaid stools
from Stamboul, and marmoset monkeys, and goodness knows what other
temptations to solvent persons with a taste for collections or pets.
To neither of these weaknesses can I plead guilty, so after a short
inspection I stroll to the harbour’s mouth, and do wonder to think over
the astounding audacity of our late countryman, Sir Sidney Smith, who
ran his ship close in here, and proceeded in his boats to cut out a
French frigate under the guns of the old fortifications. His ship
got aground, and was taken; he also. But, after all, it was less of a
forlorn hope than throwing himself with his handful of men into Acre,
and facing Bonaparte there, which last moderately lunatic act made him a
name in history. _Audace! et encore d’audace! et toujours d’audace!_ was
the rule which brought our sailors triumphantly through the great war.
And there is another picture in that drama which Havre harbour calls up
in the English mind, to put in the scale against Sir Sidney’s failure--I
mean Citizen Muskein and his gunboats skedaddling from Lieutenant Price
in the _Badger_. Do you remember, sir, Citizen Muskein’s--or rather
Canning’s--inimitable address to his gunboats in the _Anti-Jacobin?_--

               Gunboats, unless you mean hereafter

               To furnish food for British laughter,

               Sweet gunboats, and your gallant crew,

               Tempt not the rocks of St. Marcou,

               Beware the _Badger’s_ bloody pennant

               And that d----d invalid Lieutenant!

Enough of war memories, and for the future the very last thing one
wishes to have to do with this simple, cheery, and, for all I can see,
honest people, is to fight them.

There are packets twice a day from Havre across the mouth of the Seine,
a seven miles’ run, to Honfleur, described in guide-books as a dirty
little town, utterly without interest. I can only say I have seldom been
in a place of its size, not the site of any great historic event, which
is better worth spending an afternoon in, and I should strongly advise
my typical Englishman to follow this route. In the first place, the
situation is beautiful. From the steep wooded heights above the town,
where are a chapel, much frequented by sailors, and some villas, there
are glorious views up the Seine, across to Havre, and out over the sea.
Then, in the town, there is the long street, which runs down to the
lighthouse, and which, I suppose, the guide-book people never visit, as
it is out of the way. It is certainly as picturesque a street as can
be found in Rouen, or any other French town I have ever seen--except
Troyes, by the way. The houses are not large, but there is scarcely one
of them which Prout would not be proud to ask to sit to him.

Then there is the church in the centre of the town by the market-place,
with the most eccentric of little spires. It seems, at an early period
of the Middle Ages, to have taken it into its clock--or whatever answers
to a spire’s head--that it would seer more of the world, and to have
succeeded in getting about thirty yards away from its nave. Here,
probably finding locomotion a tougher business than it reckoned on, it
has fallen asleep, and, while it slept, several small houses crept up
against its base and fell asleep also. And there it remains to this day,
looking down over the houses in which people live, and many apples and
pears are being sold, and crying, like the starling, “I can’t get out.”
 There is a splendid straight avenue, stretching a mile and a half up the
Caen road, and a good little harbour full of English vessels, which
ply the egg and fruit trade, and over every third door in the sailors’
quarter you see “Cook-house” written up in large letters, for the
benefit of the British sailor.

The railway to Lisieux passes through a richly wooded, hilly country,
and then runs out into the great plain in which Caen lies. The city of
William the Conqueror is quite worthy of him, which is saying a good
deal. For, though one may not quite share Mr Carlyle’s enthusiasm for
“Wilhelmus Conquestor,” it must be confessed that he is, at least, one
of the three strongest men who have ruled in England, and that in the
long run he has done a stroke of good work for our nation. The church
of the Abbey _des Hommes_, which he began in 1066, and of which Lanfranc
was the first abbot, stands just as he left it, except the tops of two
towers at the west end, which were finished two centuries later. It is
a pure Norman church, 320 feet long, and 98 feet high in the nave and
transepts, and the simplest and grandest specimen of that noble style
I have ever seen. William’s grave is before the high altar, the spot
marked by a dark stone, and no king ever lay in more appropriate
sepulchre. The Huguenots rifled the grave and scattered his bones, but
his strong stern spirit seems to rest over the place. There is an old
building near the Abbey surmounted by a single solid pinnacle, under
which is a room which tradition says he occupied. It is now filled with
the wares of a joiner who lives below. Caen is increasing in a solid
manner in its outskirts, but seems less disturbed and altered by the
building mania than any of her sisters. There was an English population
of 4000 and upwards living here before 1848, but the English Consul
fairly frightened them away by assurances of his inability to protect
them (against what does not seem to have been settled) in that wild
time, and now there are not as many hundreds. One of the survivors is
the Commissionaire of the Hôtel d’Angleterre, West by name, a really
intelligent and serviceable man, well up to his work. It is scarcely
ever worth while to spend a franc on a commissionaire, but West is an
exception to the rule. His father was in the lace trade, which is active
in Caen, but his premises were burnt down some years since, and an
end put to his manufacture. West is now trying to revive the family
business, and one of his first steps was to get over a new lace machine,
and a man to work it, from England. It has not proved a good speculation
as yet, for no one else can manage the machine, and the Englishman
insists on being drunk half his time.

We left by one of the steamers which ply daily from Caen to Havre.
The run down the river is chiefly interesting from the quarries on its
banks. They are not the principal quarries, but are of very considerable
extent; and from the quantities of tip, heaped into moderate-sized
grass-covered hills by the river side, it is plain that they must have
been in work here for centuries. You see the stone in many places lying
like rich Cheddar cheese, and cut as regularly in flakes as a grocer
would cut his favourite cheeses. The stone is very soft when it comes
first from the quarries, but gains its great hardness and sharpness
after a short exposure. After passing the quarries we got between salt
marshes haunted by abundance of jack snipe, and so we passed out to sea.



Gleanings from Boulogne

There is one large portion of the French people which has improved
marvellously in appearance in the last few years, and that is the
army. The setting up of the French soldier of the line used to be much
neglected, but now you never see a man, however small and slight, who
does not carry himself and move as if every muscle in his body had been
thoroughly and scientifically trained. And this is the actual fact. They
have the finest system of military gymnastics which has ever been seen.
In every garrison town there is a gymnasium, in which the men have to
drill as regularly as on the parade-ground. The one close to the gate
of the old town of Boulogne is an admirable specimen, and well worth a
visit. Our authorities are, I believe, slowly following in the steps of
the French, but little has as yet been done. There is no branch of army
reform which may more safely be pressed on. We have undoubtedly the
finer material. The English soldier is a bigger and more muscular
man than the French soldier, but is far behind him in his physical
education, and must remain so until we provide a proper system of
gymnastic training, which, by the bye, will benefit the general health
of the men, and develop their intelligence as well as their muscles.

During our stay at Boulogne there was some very heavy weather. A strong
sou’-wester came on one night, and by two o’clock next day, when I went
down, was hurling the angry green waves against the great beams of the
southern pier in fearful fashion. The entrance to the harbour, as most
of your readers will remember, is quite narrow, not one hundred yards
across between the two pier heads. The ebb-tide was sweeping down from
the north, and, meeting the gale right off the harbour’s mouth, made a
battling and raging sea which brought one’s heart into one’s mouth to
look at. The weather was quite bright, and though the wind was so strong
that I held my hat on with difficulty, the northern pier was crowded,
as the whole force of the sea was spent against the southern pier, over
which it was leaping every moment. We were in comparative shelter, and
could watch, Without being drenched with spray, the approach of one
of the fishing smacks of the port, which was coming home. I shall not
easily forget the sight. We stood there, jammed together, rough sailors,
fishwomen, Cockneys, weatherbound soldiers, well-dressed ladies, a crowd
of all ranks, the wind singing through us so that we could scarcely make
our nearest neighbours hear. Not that we wanted to talk. The sight of
the small black hull and ruddy brown sail of the smack, now rising on
the crest of a great wave, and the next moment all but disappearing
behind it, took away the desire, almost the power, of speech. Two boats,
manned with fishermen, pulled to the harbour’s mouth, and lay rolling
in the comparatively still water just within the shelter of the
southern pier head. It was comforting to see them there, though if any
catastrophe had happened they could never have lived in that sea. But
the gallant little smack needed no help. She was magnificently steered,
and came dancing through the wildest part of the race without shipping a
single sea, seeming to catch each leaping wave just in the spot where it
was easiest to ride over. As she slid out of the seething cauldron into
the smooth water past the waiting boats the crowd drew a long breath,
and many of us hurried back to get a close view of her as she ran into
her place amongst the other fishing boats alongside the quay. I envied
the grizzly old hero at the helm, as he left his place, threw off his
dreadnought coat, and went to help the two men and two boys who were
taking in the sail and coiling away the ropes. There was much shouting
and congratulation from above; but they made little answer, and no fuss.
Their faces struck me very much, especially the boys’, which were full
of that quiet self-contained look one sees in Hook’s pictures. There was
no other boat in the offing then, so I went home; but within a few hours
heard that a smack had capsized in the harbour’s mouth, with the loss of
one man. I only marvel how the rest could have been saved.

On the 1st of October in every year there is a solemn festival of the
seafaring people of Boulogne, and the sea is blessed by their pastors.
I was anxious to wait for the ceremony, but was unable to do so. There
seems to be a strange mixture of trust in God and superstition in all
people who “occupy their business on the great waters.” There is a
little chapel looking down on Boulogne port full of thank-offerings of
the sailors’ wives, where the fishwomen go up to plead with God,
and pour out the agony of their souls in rough weather. There are
propitiatory gifts, too, by the side of the thank-offerings, and the
shadow of a tyrannous power in nature, to be bought off with gifts,
darkens the presence of the true Refuge from the storm. There are
traces, too, of a more direct idolatry in the town. In the year 643 of
our era the Madonna came to Boulogne in an open boat, so runs the
story, and left an image with the faithful, which soon became the great
religious lion of the neighbourhood, drawing largely, and performing a
series of miracles all through the Middle Ages. When Henry VIII. took
the town the English carried off the image, but it was restored in good
condition when peace came, and as powerful as ever for wonder-working.
The Huguenots got hold of it half a century later, and were supposed to
have destroyed it; but an image, which at any rate did duty for it,
was ultimately fished up out of a well. Doubts as to identity, however,
having arisen, the matter was referred to the Sorbonne, and a jury of
doctors declared in favour of the genuineness of the article which was
forthcoming. And so it continued to practise with varying success until
the Revolution, when the Jacobins laid hands on it, broke it up,
and burnt it, thinking to make once for all an end of this and other
idol-worships. But a citizen not so enlightened as his neighbours stayed
by the fire, and succeeded at last in rescuing what he declared to be an
arm of the original image, which remains an object of veneration still,
and is said not to have lost all healing power. But it is far inferior
in this respect to some drops of the holy blood, for the reception of
which a countrywoman of ours has built a little chapel in the suburbs.

Boulogne has all the marks of rapidly increasing material prosperity
which may be seen now in every French town, one of the many fruits of
which is a wonderful improvement in the condition of the streets and
thoroughfares. The fine new buildings, the look of the shops and of the
people, all tell the same tale. In fact, one comes away from France
now with a feeling that, so far as surface polish and civilisation are
concerned, this is the country which is going to the front. Whether it
goes any deeper is a matter upon which a traveller flitting about for a
few weeks cannot venture an opinion.

I came back in one of the daily packets to London Bridge, which, besides
carrying seventy passengers, was piled fore and aft with cargo. There
were 400 cases of wine on deck, besides other packages, which sorely
curtailed our walking privileges. But the boats are good boats, and the
voyage past Dover, through the Downs, round the North Foreland, and up
the Thames, is so full of life and interest that it is well worth making
a long day of it, if one is a moderately good sailor. The advertisements
call it eight and a half hours, which means eleven; but it is not a
moment too long.



Blankenberghe

Yesterday (14th August) we were warned by meagre fare at the _table
d’hôte_ of our hotel that it was the vigil of some saint’s day. Our
gastronomic knowledge was enlarged by the opportunity of partaking
of boiled mussels. A small and delicate species of this little
fish--despised of Englishmen--is found in extraordinary quantities on
this coast. The sand is dotted with the shells after every ebb. The
wattles of the jetties are full of them. After the first shock of having
a salad bowl full of small black shells presented to one, following
immediately on a delicate _potage à l’oseille_, the British citizen may
pursue his education in this direction fearlessly, with the certainty of
becoming acquainted with a delicate and appetising morsel; and he will
return to his native country with at least a toleration for “winks” and
“pickled whelks,” when he sees them vended at corner stalls in Clare
Market or in the Old Kent Road, for the benefit of the dangerous classes
of his fellow-citizens who take their meals in the street. In these
Flemish parts they are eaten with bread and butter, and even as
whitebait, and by all classes.

After the meal I consulted the calendar in my pocket-book as to the
approaching festival, not wishing to thrust my heretical ignorance
unnecessarily on the notice of the simple folk who inhabit the _Lion
d’Or_. That obstinately Protestant document, however, informed me simply
that the Rev. E. Irving was born on this day in 1792, probably not the
saint I was in quest of. A _Churchman’s Almanac_, with which the only
English lady in the place was provided, was altogether silent as to
the day. In the end, therefore, I was obliged to fall back upon the
bright-eyed little _demoiselle de la maison_, who informed me that it
was the vigil of the Assumption of the Virgin, and that the _fête_ was
one greatly honoured by the community of Blankenberghe.

Thus prepared, I was not surprised at being roused at five in the
morning by the clumping of sabots and clinking of hammers in the street
below--my room is a corner one, looking from two windows on the Rue
d’Eglise, the principal street of the place, and from the other two
on the Rue des Pecheurs, or “Visschurs’ Straet,” which runs across the
northern end of the Rue d’Eglise. A flight of broad steps here runs up
on to the Digue, or broad terrace fronting the sea, and at the foot of
these steps they were erecting a temporary altar, and over it a large
picture of fishermen hauling in nets full of monsters of the deep. They
had brought it from the parish church, and, as such pictures go, it was
by no means a bad one. Presently tricoloured flags began to appear from
the windows of most of the houses in both streets, and here and there
garlands of bright-coloured paper were hung across from one side to the
other. As the morning advanced the bells from the church and convent
called the simple folk to mass at short intervals, six, half-past seven,
nine, and grand mass at ten. The call seemed to be answered by more
people than we had fancied the town could have held. At eleven there
was to be a procession, and now miniature altars with lighted candles
appeared in many of the ground-floor windows, both of shops and private
houses; and the streets were strewed with rushes and diamond-shaped
pieces of coloured paper. Punctual to its time the head of the
procession came round the corner of “Visschurs’ Straet,” half a dozen
small boys ringing bells leading the way. Then came the beadledom of
Blankenberghe, in the shape of several imposing persons in municipal
uniform, then three little girls dressed in white, with bouquets, more
boys, including a diligent but not very skilful drummer, six or seven
other maidens in white, somewhat older than their predecessors, of whom
the centre one carried some ornament of tinsel and flowers. Then
came the heavy silk canopy, supported by four light poles carried by
acolytes, and surrounded by choristers, of whom the leader bore a
large silver censer, and under the canopy marched a shaven monk in
cream-coloured brocade satin, carrying the pyx, and a less gorgeously
attired brother with an open missal. Around the whole of the procession,
to protect it from the accompanying crowd, were a belt of bronzed
fishermen in their best clothes, some carrying staves, some hymn-books,
and almost all joining in the chant which was rolled out by the priest,
in a powerful bass with a kind of metallic ring in it, as they neared
the altar at the foot of the steps. Here the whole procession paused,
and the greater part knelt, while the priest put incense in the censer,
and made his obeisances and prayed in an unknown tongue, and the censer
boy swung his sweet-smelling smoke about, and the fishermen and their
wives and children prayed too, in their own tongue, I suppose, and their
own way, probably for fair weather and plenty of fish, and let us hope
for brave and gentle hearts to meet whatever rough weather and short
commons may be in store for them by land or water, Then the procession
rose, and passed down the Rue d’Eglise, pausing at the corner of the
little market-place opposite a rude figure of the Madonna in a niche
over some pious doorway,
[Greek phrase]
and so out of sight. And the _bourgeois_ blew out the candles and took
away the chairs on which, while the halt lasted, they had been kneeling
from their shop windows, putting back the bathing dresses, and the shell
boxes, and other sea-side merchandise, while the whole non-shopkeeping
population, and the neighbours from Bruges, and the strangers who fill
the hotels and lodging-houses turned out upon the splendid sands and
on the Digue to enjoy their _fête_-day. In the afternoon the _corps de
musique_ of the communal schools of Bruges gave a gratuitous concert to
us all by the permission of the communal administration of that town,
as we bathed, or promenaded, or sipped coffee or liqueurs in the
broad verandahs of the _cafés_ which line the Digue. Gaily dressed
middle-class women (of upper classes, as we understand them, I see
none), in many-coloured garments and immense structures of false back
hair, such as these eyes have never before seen; a sprinkling of
Belgian officers in uniform, Russians, Frenchmen, Germans a few, and two
Anglo-Saxons, Englishmen I cannot say, for one is an American citizen
and the other your contributor, who compose the only English-speaking
males, so far as I can judge; groups of Flemish women of the people in
long black cloth cloaks, with large hoods lined with black satin, more
expensive probably, but not nearly so picturesque as the old red cloak
which thirty years ago was the almost universal Sunday dress of women in
Wiltshire, Berkshire, and other Western counties; little old-fashioned
girls in nice mob caps, and the fishermen in excellent blue broad-cloth
jackets and trousers, and well-blacked shoes or boots, instead of the
huge sabots of their daily life; in short, every soul, I suppose, in
Blankenberghe, from the Bourgmestre who sits on his throne, to the
donkey-boy who drives along his Neddy under a freight of children, at
half a franc an hour, whenever he can entice the small fry from the
superior attraction of engineering with the splendid sand, spends his
or her three or four hours on the Digue, enjoying whatever of the music,
gossip, coffee, beer, or other pastimes they are inclined to or can
afford; and in that whole crowd of pleasant holiday-making folk there is
not one single trace of poverty, not a starved face, not a naked foot,
not a ragged garment. It is the same on the week-days. The people,
notably the fishermen and _baigneurs_, dress roughly, but they have all
comfortable thick worsted stockings in their sabots, and their jerseys
and overalls are ample and satisfactory. Why is it that in nine places
out of ten on the Continent this is so, and that in England you shall
never be able to find a watering-place which is not deformed more or
less by poverty and thriftlessness? Right across the sea, there, on the
Norfolk coast, lie Cromer and Sherringham. More daring sailors never
manned lifeboat, more patient fishermen never dragged net, than the
seafaring folk of those charming villages. They are courteous, simple,
outspoken folk, too, singularly attractive in their looks and ways.
But, alas! for the rags, and the grinding poverty, declaring itself in
a dozen ways, in the cottages, in the children’s looks, in the women’s
premature old age. When will England wake up, and get rid of the curse
of her wealth and the curse of her poverty? When will an Englishman
be able again to look on at a fête-day in Belgium, or Switzerland,
or Germany, or France, without a troubled conscience and a pain in his
heart, as he thinks of the contrast at home, and the bitter satire in
the old, worn-out name of “Merry England?” It is high time that we
all were heartsick over it, for the canker grows on us. Those who know
London best will tell you so; those who know the great provincial towns
and country villages will tell you so, except perhaps that the latter
are now getting depopulated, and so contain less altogether of joy or
sorrow. However, sir, there are other than these holiday times in which
to dwell on this dark subject. I ought to apologise for having fallen
into it unawares, when I sat down merely to put on paper, if I could in
a few lines, and impart to your readers the exceeding freshness of the
feeling which the feast-day at this little Belgian watering-place leaves
on one. But who knows when he sits down, at any rate in the holidays,
what he is going to write? However good your intentions, at times you
can’t “get the hang of it,” can’t say the thing you meant to say.

You may wonder, too, at this sudden plunge into the _fête_ of the
Assumption at Blankenberghe, when I have never warned you even that I
had flitted from my round on the great crank which grinds for us all so
ruthlessly in the parts about the Strand and the Inns of Court. Well,
sir, I plead in my defence the test that a very able friend of mine
applies to novels. He opens the second volume and reads a chapter; if
that tempts him, on he goes to the end of the book; if it is very good
indeed, he then goes back, and fairly begins at the beginning. So I hope
your readers will be inclined to peruse in future weeks some further
gossip respecting this place, which should perhaps have preceded
the _fête_-day. If they should get to take the least interest in
Blankenberghians and their works and ways, it is more than these latter
can be said to do about them, for in the two or three cheap sheets which
I find on the table here, and which constitute the press of this corner
of Belgium, there is seldom more than a couple of lines devoted to the
whole British Empire. The fact that there is not another Englishman
in the place, and that the American above mentioned, the only other
representative of our English-speaking stock here, went once to see the
Derby, and got so bored by two o’clock that he left the Downs and walked
back to Epsom station, enduring the whole chaff of the road, and finding
the doors locked and the clerks and porters all gone up to the race,
ought to be enough to make them curious--curious enough at any rate
for long-vacation purposes. There are plenty of odds and ends of life
a little out of our ordinary track lying about here to make a small
“harvest for a quiet eye,” which I am inclined to try and garner for
you, if you think well. And are not the new King and Queen coming next
week to delight their subjects, and witness many kinds of fireworks,
and a “_concours des joueurs de boule, dits pas baenbolders_,” whatever
these may be?



Belgian Bathing

I should like to know how many grown Englishmen or Englishwomen, apart
from those unfortunates who are preparing for competitive examinations,
are aware of the existence of this place? No Englishman is bound to know
of it by any law of polite education acknowledged amongst us, for is it
not altogether ignored in Murray?

Even Bradshaw’s _Continental Guide_ is silent as to its whereabouts.
This is somewhat hard upon Blankenberghe, sturdy and rapidly growing
little watering-place that she is, already exciting the jealousy of
her fashionable neighbour, Ostend. It must be owned, however, that she
returns the compliment by taking the slightest possible interest in the
contemporary history of the British Empire. Nevertheless, the place has
certain recommendations to persons in search of a watering-place out of
England. If you are content with an hotel of the country, of which there
is a large choice, you may have three good meals a day and a bedroom for
six and a half francs, with a considerable reduction for families. Even
at the fashionable hotels on the Digue the price is only eight or nine
francs; and when you have paid your hotel bill you are out of all danger
of extravagance, for there is literally nothing to spend money upon.
Your bathing machine costs you sixpence. There are no pleasure boats and
no wheeled vehicles for hire in the place, and no excursions if there
were; shops there are none; and the market is of the smallest and
meagerest kind. There are no beggars and no amusements, except bathing
and the Kursaal. These, however, suffice to keep the inhabitants and
visitors in a state of much contentment.

But now for the geography. From Ostend harbour to the mouth of the
Scheldt is a dead flat, highly cultivated, and dotted all over with
villages and farmhouses, but somewhat lower than high-water mark. The
sea is kept out by an ancient and dilapidated-looking dyke, some fifty
feet high, on the slopes of which flourishes a strong, reedy sort of
grass, planted in tufts at regular intervals, to hold the loose soil
together. The fine sand drifts up the dyke and blows over it, lying just
like snow, so that if you half-close your eyes and look at it from fifty
yards’ distance, you may fancy yourself on a glacier in the Oberland.
Blankenberghe is an ancient fishing village, lying just under the dyke,
between eight and nine miles from Ostend. When it came into the minds
of the inhabitants to convert it into a watering-place they levelled the
top of their dyke for some 600 yards until it is only about twenty-five
feet above high-water mark. They paved the sea face with good stone,
and the fine flat walk on the top, thirty yards broad, with brick, and
called it the Digue, in imitation of Ostend. They built a Kursaal,
three or four great hotels, and half a dozen first-class lodging-houses,
opening on to the Digue, with deep verandahs in front, and they brought
a single line branch of the Flanders railway from Bruges, and the
deed was accomplished. There is no such a sea-walk anywhere that I can
remember as Blankenberghe Digue, from which you look straight away
with nothing but sea between you and the North Pole. From the Digue you
descend by a flight of twenty-four steps on one side to the sands, on
the other into the town, the chief of these latter flights being at the
head of the Rue d’Eglise, the backbone, as it were, of the place,
which runs from the railway station to the Digue. There may be
1500 inhabitants out of the season, when all the Digue hotels and
lodging-houses are shut up; at present, perhaps, another 1000, coming
and going, and attracted by the bathing.

Of this institution an Englishman is scarcely a fair judge, as it is
conducted on a method so utterly unlike anything we have at home at
present. My American friend assures me that we are 100 years behind all
other nations in this matter, that the Belgians conduct it exactly
as they do in the States, and that theirs is the only decent mode of
bathing. It may be so. One sees such rapid changes in these days, and
advanced opinions of all kinds are being caught up so quickly by even
such Philistines as the English middle classes, that he is a bold man
who will assert that we shall not see the notions of Brighton and Dover
yield to the new ideas of Newport and Blankenberghe before long. In one
respect, indeed, it is well that they should, for the machines here are
convenient little rooms on wheels, with plenty of pegs, two chairs, a
small tub, a looking-glass, and everything handsome about them. But the
wheels are broad, and very-low; consequently you are only rolled down
to the neighbourhood of the water, thinking yourself lucky if you get
within five or six yards of it. Now, as the occupants of the machine on
your left and right are probably sprightly and somewhat facetious young
Belgian or French women, and as the beach shelves so gently that you
have at least a run of fifty yards before you can get into deep enough
water to swim with comfort, the root difference between Blankenberghian
and English habits discloses itself to you from the first. Of course, as
men, women, and children all bathe together, costumes are necessary,
but those in which the men have to array themselves only make bathing a
discomfort, without giving one the consciousness of being decently clad.
You have handed to you with your towels a simple jersey, with arms and
legs six or eight inches in length, reaching perhaps to the middle of
the biceps and femoral muscles. Into this apology for a dress you insert
and button yourself up (it is well for you, by the way, if one or two
buttons be not missing), and then are expected to walk calmly out
into the water through groups of laughing girls in jackets and loose
trousers. Having threaded your way through these, and avoided a
quadrille party on the one hand, and an excellent fat couple, reminding
you of the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Bubb in the one-horse “chay,” who are
bathing their family on the other, you address yourself to swimming.
As you descended from the Digue you read, “Bathers are expressly
recommended to hold themselves at least fifteen yards from the breakers
by buoys designed.” You do not see any breakers, but there is a line
of buoys about eighty yards out to which you contemptuously paddle, and
after all find that you are scarcely out of your depth. When you have
had enough you return, poor, dripping, forked mortal, to a last and
severest trial. For the universal custom is to sit about on chairs
amongst the machines; and on one side of your door are perhaps a couple
of nursemaids chatting while their children build sand castles, on the
other a matron or two working and gossiping. Now, sir, a man who has
been taking the rough and the smooth of life for a good many years
within half a mile of Temple Bar is not likely to be oversensitive, but
I would appeal to any contributor on your staff, sir, or to yourself,
whether you would be prepared to go through such an ordeal without
wincing? On my return from my first swim I recognised my American cousin
in his element. He was clad in a blue striped jersey,--would that I
could have sprinkled it with a few stars,--and was sauntering about with
the greatest coolness from group to group, enjoying the whole business,
and no doubt looking forward complacently to the time when differences
of sex shall be altogether ignored in the academies of the future. He
threw a pitying glance at me as I skedaddled to my machine, secretly
vowing to abstain from all such adventures hereafter. Since that time I
have taken my dip too early for the Belgian public to be present at the
ceremony, but, like the rest of the world, I daily look on, and, unlike
them, wonder. As to the morality of it, I can’t say that I think the
custom of promiscuous bathing as practised here seems to me either
moral or immoral. Occasionally when the waves are a little rough you see
couples clinging together for mutual support more than the circumstances
perhaps strictly require; but there is very little of this. The whole
business seemed to me not immoral, but in our conventional sense vulgar,
much like “kissing in the ring,” which I have seen played by most
exemplary sets of young men and women on excursions in Greenwich or
Richmond Park, but which would not do in Hamilton Gardens or a May Fair
drawing-room. Meanwhile, I hope that as long at least as I can enjoy
the water we shall remain benighted bathers in the eyes of our American
cousins and of the brave Belgians. To a man the first requisite of a
really enjoyable bath is surely deep water, and the second, no clothes,
for the loss of either of which no amount of damp flirtation can
compensate, in the opinion at least of your contributor, who,
nevertheless in these Belgian parts, while obliged to record his
opinion, has perhaps a great consciousness that he may be something of
an old fogey.

I suppose that a man or nation is to be congratulated about whom their
neighbours have nothing to say. If so, the position of England at this
time is peculiarly enviable out here. I read the _Indépendance Belge_
diligently, but under the head “Nouvelles d’Angleterre,” for which that
journal retains, as it would seem, a special correspondent, I never
learn anything whatever except the price of funds. We occupy an average
of perhaps twelve lines in its columns, and none at all in those of the
_La Vigie de la Côte_, the special production of Blankenberghe, or of
the Bruges and Ostend journals.

               Oh! wad some power the giftie gie us,

               To see oursels as ithers see us!

Certainly a short residence at Blankenberghe should be taken in
conjunction with the volume of essays on international policy by Mr.
Congreve and his fellow Comtists, which I happen to have brought with
me for deliberate perusal, if one wants to feel the shine taken out of
one’s native land. I don’t.



Belgian Boats

Blankenberghe has one branch of native industry, and one only. From
time immemorial it has been a fishing station. The local paper declares
that there has been no change in the boats, the costumes, or the
implements of this industry since the sixteenth century, with the
exception noticed below. One can quite believe it, as far as the boats
are concerned. They are very strongly built tubs, ranging from twenty to
thirty tons, flat-bottomed, the same breadth of beam fore and aft, built
I should think on the model of the first duck which was seen off this
coast, and a most sensible model too. They have no bowsprit, but a short
foremast in the bows, carrying one small sail, and a strong mainmast
amidships, carrying one big sail. Each of these sails is run up by a
single rope, rigged through a pulley in the top of the masts, and of
other rigging there is none. The boats are all of a uniform russet-brown
colour, the tint of old age, looking as if they had been once varnished,
in the time, let us say, of William the Silent, and had never been
touched since. There is not a scrap of paint on the whole fleet. In
short, I am convinced that the local paper by no means exaggerates their
antiquity. Instead of finding it hard to believe that sixteenth-century
men went to sea in them, I should not be startled to hear that our first
parents were the original proprietors, or at any rate that the present
fleet was laid down by Japhet, when the Ark was broken up. The habits of
the fleet are as quaint as their looks. There is no scrap of anchorage
or shelter of any kind here, the sands lie perfectly open to the north
and west, and the surf seems about as rough as it is elsewhere. But the
Blankenberghe fishermen are perfectly indifferent, convinced no doubt
that neither sea nor sand will do anything to hurt them or their boats,
for old acquaintance’ sake. To me, accustomed to the scrambling,
and shouting, and hauling up above high-water mark, the running of
naked-legged boys into the water, and the energetic doings of the crew
when a fishing boat comes to land at home, there is something of the
comically sublime in the contrast presented by these good Flemings. As
one of the old brown tubs rolls towards the shore, looking as if she
scarcely had made up her mind which end to send in first, you see a man
quietly pitch a small anchor over the bows, and then down come the two
sails. Sometimes the anchor begins to hold before the boat grounds, but
just as often she touches before the anchor bites, but nobody cares. The
only notice taken is to unship the rudder and haul it aboard; then comes
a wave which swings her round, and leaves her broadside to the surf.
Nobody moves. Bang comes the next breaker, lifting her for a moment, and
bumping her down again on the sand, her bows perhaps a trifle more to
sea, but the crew only smoke and hold on. And so it goes on, bang, bump,
thump, till sooner or later she swings right round and settles into her
place on the sand. When she has adjusted this to her own satisfaction
one of the crew just drops over the stern with another anchor on his
shoulder, which he fixes in the sand, and then he and the rest leave
her and walk up to the Digue, and generally on to vespers at the church,
which is often three parts filled with these jolly fellows. Getting off
again is much the same happy-go-lucky business. The men shoulder the
anchor which is out at the stern, or, as often as not, leave it on shore
with their cable coiled, ready for their return. Then they clamber into
their tub, which is bumping away, held only by the anchor out at the
bows. They wait for the first wave that floats them, then up go the
sails, on goes the rudder, they get a haul on the anchor, and after
heading one or two different ways get fairly off.

Their costume is picturesque,--thick red flannel shirts, the collars of
which fold over their tightly buttoned blue jackets, and give a tidy,
uniform appearance to a group of them. The old stagers still wear huge
loose red knickerbockers and pilot boots, but the younger generation are
degenerating into the common blue trousers and sabots, the latter almost
big enough to come ashore on in case of wreck. Altogether they are
the most well-to-do set of fishermen to look at that I have ever seen,
though where their money comes from I cannot guess, as they seem to take
little but small flounders and skate. There used to be good cod-fishing
in the winter, they say, but of late years it has fallen off. The elder
fishermen attribute this to the disgust of the cod at an innovation
in the good old ways of fishing. Formerly two boats worked together,
dragging a net with large meshes between them, but this has been of late
superseded by the English bag-net system, which brings up everything
small and great, and disturbs the _pâture accoutumée_ of the cod,
whereupon he has emigrated.

Disastrous islanders that we are, who never touch anything, from Japan
to Blankenberghe, without setting honest folk by the ears and bringing
trouble! The “Corporation of Fishers,” a close and privileged body, who
hold their heads very high here, are looking into the matter, and it
seems likely that this destructive _chalut, d’origine Anglaise_, may yet
be superseded. It remains to be seen whether the cod will come back.

We have had abominable weather here, but nothing in the shape of a
storm. I confess to have been looking out for a good north-wester with
much interest. Assuming that the effect as to breakers and surf would
be much the same as elsewhere, one is curious to ascertain whether these
fishing boats are left to bump it out on the sands. If so, and no harm
comes to them, the sooner our fishermen adopt the Blankenberghe model of
boat the better. I fear, however, that with all their good looks and old
traditions, the seafaring folk on this coast are wanting in the splendid
daring of our own ’long-shore people. On Monday night the mail packet
from Ostend to Dover went out in a stiffish breeze, but nothing which
‘we should call a gale, at eight o’clock. By some curious mismanagement
both her engines got out of order and came to a dead stop almost
immediately. Strange to say, her anchors were down in the hold under the
luggage (the boats are Belgian, not English manned), and she had a very
narrow escape of drifting right on shore. Luckily the crew, managed to
get up an anchor in time to prevent this catastrophe, and there she
lay right off the harbour, perfectly helpless, throwing up rockets and
burning blue lights for hours. Neither tug, nor lifeboat, nor pilot boat
stirred, and she rode at anchor till morning, when the wind went down. I
venture to think that such a case is unheard of on our coasts. It occurs
to one to ask whether there is such an official as a harbourmaster at
the port of Ostend, and if so, what his duties are. There were sailors
enough in harbour to have manned fifty lifeboats, for the Ostend fishing
fleet of 200 boats had come back from their three months’ cruise on that
very afternoon. The contingency of riding out a stormy night in a mail
packet within a few hundred yards of a lee shore, in front of a great
port full of seamen, is scarcely one of those on which we holiday folk
reckon when we book ourselves for the Continent.

Coming out on the Digue one night, soon after my arrival, I was brought
to a stand-still by the appearance of the sea. It was low water, so
that I was about 200 yards off, and at first I could scarcely believe
my eyes, which seemed to tell me that every breaker was a flood of pale
fire. I went down close to the water to confirm or disenchant myself,
and found it more beautiful the nearer I got. Of course one has seen the
ordinary phosphorescence of the sea in a hundred places, but this was
quite a different affair. The sand under one’s feet even was molten
silver. The scientific doctor says it is simply the effect of the
constant presence on this coast of great numbers of an animalcule which
can only be seen through a microscope, called the _Noctiluca miliaris_.
It looked on that evening as if huge fiery serpents were constantly
rising and dashing along. People here say that they have it always, but
this is certainly not so. On several other evenings the breaking waves
were slightly luminous, but scarcely enough to attract attention. If you
could only make sure of seeing sea and shore ablaze as it was on
that particular night, you ought at once, sir, to pack traps and off,
notwithstanding these abominably high winds. I cannot help thinking
that, besides a monster gathering--probably a Reform League meeting--of
the Noctiluca miliaris, there must have been something very unusual in
the atmosphere on that particular night. It was a kind of “eldritch”
 night, in which you felt as if you had got into the atmosphere of
Tennyson’s _Morte d’Arthur_, and a great hand might come up out of the
water without giving you a start. There was light right up in the
sky above one’s head, a succession of half luminous rain clouds were
drifting rapidly across at a very low elevation from the northwest, not
fifty yards high, as it seemed, while the smoke of my cigar floated
away slowly almost in the opposite direction. Luckily, sir, my American
friend was with me on the night in question, to whom I can appeal as
to the truth of my facts, and we had had nothing but one bottle of
very moderately strong _vin ordinaire_ at the _table d’hote_. If your
scientific readers say that the thing is impossible, I can only answer
that so it was.

Parson Wilbur, when he is considering the question whether the ability
to express ourselves in articulate language has been productive of more
good than evil, esteems his own ignorance of all tongues except Yankee
and the dead languages as “a kind of martello tower, in which I am safe
from the furious bombardments of foreign garrulity.” There is something
comforting and fascinating in this doctrine, but still on the whole
it is decidedly disagreeable to be reduced to signs for purposes of
intercourse, as is generally the case here. Not one soul in a hundred
can speak French. Their talk sounds like a sewing machine, with an
occasional word of English interspersed in the clicking. I am told that
if you will only talk broad Durham or Yorkshire they will understand
you, but I do not believe it, as the sounds are quite unlike. The
names of these people are wonderful. For instance, those on the bathing
machines just opposite my hotel are, Yan Yooren, Yan Yulpen, Siska
Deneve, Sandelays, and Colette Claes, abbreviated into Clotty by two
English schoolboys who have lately appeared, and are the worst dressed
and the best bathers of all the young folk here. They are fast friends,
I see, with a young Russian, whose father, an old officer, sits near me
at the _table d’hôte_. Poor old boy! I never saw a man so bored, in fact
he has disclosed to me that he can stand it no longer. Blankenberghe
has been quite too much for him. Lest it should also prove so to your
readers, I will end with his last words (though I by no means endorse
his judgment of the little Flemish watering-place), “_Maintenant je n’y
puis plus!_”



AMERICA


_My father in 1870 went to America for the first time. His time was so
much occupied there that he could write only home letters. My mother
has allowed me to make extracts from these, thinking that they serve to
introduce his later letters from America, which were addressed to the
_Spectator_._

_It was owing to the fact of my father’s having publicly taken the side
of the North in the Civil War that his reception in the United States in
1870 was so particularly warm and hearty._



Peruvian, 6.45 p.m.

Here I am, in my officer’s cabin, a small separate hole in our little
world on the water, all to myself. At this moment I look out of my
porthole and see the Welsh mountains coming out against a bed of
daffodil sky, for though it has been misty all day it is now a lovely
clear evening. The sea is quite calm, and there is scarcely any motion
in the ship. The tea-bell is ringing, so I must stop for a little, but
I shall have plenty of time to tell you all that has happened as yet,
as we shall be lying off Londonderry nearly all day to-morrow. The mail
does not come off to us till about 5 P.M., and we shall be there about
nine in the morning or thereabouts. I may perhaps run up to Derry to
see the old town and the gate and walls, etc., sacred to the glorious,
pious, and immortal memory of the great and good king William.



8.45 p.m.

Tea was excellent, and afterwards R------ and I went on deck, and saw
the sun go down gloriously in the line of our ship’s course; we were
steaming right up a great road of fire. The sea gets calmer and calmer,
and, in fact, there couldn’t be less movement if we were in Greenwich
reach. So now for the narrative of all my adventures since I left you at
the window. The moment we got on board, there was the rush and scramble
for places at the saloon table, which Harry I------ warned me about. We
were on board amongst the first, but agreed not to join the scramble,
taking any places that might happen to be going. There is something so
ludicrously contemptible to me in seeing people eagerly and seriously
struggling about such matters that I am quite unable to join in the
worry. I doubt if I could even if the ship were going down, and we were
all taking to the boats. It isn’t the least from any virtuous or
heroic feeling, but simply from the long dwelling in the frame of mind
described in a chapter in _Past and Present_. When every one had taken
the seats they liked, we settled down very comfortably into two which
were vacant, and which, for all I can see, are as good as any of the
rest.



8 a.m., Friday.

Off the north coast of Ireland, and a splendid coast it is. A stout
party, on whom I do not the least rely, told me an hour or so ago, when
I first went on deck, that we were passing the Giant’s Causeway. The
morning is deliciously fresh, and there is just a little roll in the
vessel which is slightly discomforting some of the passengers, I see. I
slept like a top without turning, for which, indeed, I haven’t room in
my tray on the top of the drawers. My only mishap has been that when
they were sluicing the decks this morning, the water running down the
ship’s side naturally turned into my wide-open porthole to see if I was
getting up. The device was quite successful, as I shot out of bed at
once to close it up and save my things lying on the sofa below. No
damage done fortunately.



9.30 a.m., Friday.

Here we are lying quietly at anchor in Lough Foyle after an excellent
breakfast. We wait here for the mails, but as it is nineteen miles
I find by road up to Derry, I shall not make the attempt. The plot
thickens on board, and I am already deeply interested. There are 150
emigrants from the East End, who are being taken over by their parson
and a philanthropist whose name I haven’t caught yet. I have been
forward amongst these poor folk, and have won several hearts or at least
opened many mouths by distributing some few spare stamps I luckily had
in my pocket. Lovely as the morning is, and delicious as the contrast
between the exquisite air on deck, where they are all sitting, when
contrasted with Whitechapel air, I can’t help looking at them with very
mingled feelings. They are a fine steady respectable class of poor. The
women nursing and caring for their children with grave, serious, sweet
faces, and the men really attentive. All of them anxious to send off
scraps of letters to their friends in Great Babylon. There is one
slip of the foredeck roped off entirely for nursing mothers and small
children, and there are a lot of quaint little plumps rolling and
tumbling about there, with some of whom I hope to make friends. A
bird-fancier from the East End has several cages full of larks and
sparrows, and a magpie and jay in state cabins by themselves, all of
which he hopes to make great merchandise of in Canada, where English
birds are longed for, but are very hard to keep. He had lost his
hempseed in Liverpool, but luckily a boat has gone ashore, and I think
there is good hope of getting him a fresh supply. There is a little
gathering of the emigrants for service at eight in the evening forward.
I didn’t know of it last night, but shall attend henceforth. No thought
of such a thing in the state saloon! “How hardly shall they that have
riches”!

Here, as elsewhere, the truest and deepest life, because the simplest,
lies amongst those who have little of the things of this world lying
between them and their Father and this invisible world, with its
realities.



On board the Peruvian.

We are well out on the broad Atlantic, which at present we are inclined
to think a little of an imposture. There is certainly a swell of some
kind, for the ship pitches more or less, but to the unpractised eye
looking out on the waste of waters it is quite impossible to account for
the swell, for, except for the better colour, the sea looks very much
as it does off the Isle of Wight; great waves like the slope of a chalk
down, following one another in solemn procession, up which the long ship
climbs like a white road. However, it is early days to grumble about
the want of swell, and when it comes I may not like it any more than
another. After finishing my letter to you this morning, I went ashore
to post it, and found that after all it wouldn’t reach London till
to-morrow night. So I sent you a telegram, which I hope you got before
bed-time at any rate, and redirected my letter to Cromer. To pass the
time I took a jaunting car with two other passengers, and we drove to
an old castle looking over Lough Foyle, formerly a stronghold of the
O’Doherty’s till it was sacked and knocked about their ears by an
expedition of Scotch Campbells, who did a good work for the district by
destroying it. We found lots of shamrock in the ruins, and enjoyed
the drive and still more a bathe afterwards. The country seems very
prosperous. The people, strapping, light-haired, blue-eyed Celts,
handsome and well-to-do; in fact, evidently much better fed and better
educated than almost any English country district I know. The mails
came down from Derry in a tender, which brought us the news of the first
battle and the Prussian victory, which I for one always looked for, and
we got away by seven, two hours later than we expected. However, the
wind is fair and we are making famous way, and by the time I get up in
the morning I expect we shall be 200 miles from the Irish coast.



9.30 p.m., Saturday.

A long calm day and we have made a splendid run--shall be in Quebec in
good time to-morrow week if this weather holds; but knowing persons say
it won’t, and that we have seen the last of fine weather, and must look
out for squalls--for why? the wind has gone round against the sun, and
it has settled to rain hard with a barometer steadily going down. The
Roman Catholic bishop (who is not very expert in weather that I know of,
but is a very, jovial party, who enjoys his cigar and gossip, and
was one of the first to go in for a game of shovel-board on deck this
morning) declares that we shall have it fine all the way, as he has made
the passage six times and has never had bad weather yet. In any case I
hope it won’t be rough to-morrow, for we are to have a real treat in the
way of spiritual dissipation. First, the bishop is to have some kind
of mass and preach a short sermon at nine (N.B. a time-table conscience
clause is to run all day, so that only latitudinarians like me will go
in for it all). Then the captain who is a rare good fellow, with a
spice of sentiment about him, which sits so well on such a bulletheaded,
broad-shouldered, resolute Jack-Tar, has his own service at eleven, in
which he will do the priest himself, an excellent example, with a sermon
by the emigrant parson, whose name is H------, afterwards. These in the
saloon; then at 2.30 a service in the steerage by H------, or G------,
the other parson, and a final wind up, also in the steerage at 7.30.
G------is the clergyman of Shaftesbury, George Glyn’s borough; was
formerly in the Navy, and was in the Ragged School movement of ’48, ’49,
when I used to go off twice a week in the evening to Ormond Yard, when
poor old M------ had the gas turned out, and his hat knocked over his
eyes by his boys. He knew Ludlow and Furnival, but I don’t remember
him. However, he is a right good fellow, and gave us a really good
_extempore_ prayer last night at the midships’ service. The steerage is
certainly most interesting. There are now nearly 500 emigrants on board
there, and the captain says they are about the best lot he has ever
had. Going round this morning I was struck by a dear little light-haired
girl, who was standing with her arm round the neck of a poor woman very
sick and ill, and such tenderness and love in her poor little face
as she turned it up to us as almost brought tears into one’s eyes. Of
course I thought the woman was her mother. No such thing; she was no
relation at all. The little dear had never seen her till she met her
on board, but was attracted by her misery, and had never left her side
since she had been so ill. The poor woman had two strapping daughters
on board who had never been near her. How strangely folk are fixed up in
this queer world.



Monday.

We know what a good swell in mid-Atlantic means at last. We were
pitching when I went to bed, finding it hard to get on with my
penmanship. Off I went as fast as usual, and never woke except for one
moment to grunt and turn round, or rather, try to turn round, in my tray
on top of the drawers at something which sounded like a crash. In the
morning we were swinging and bowing and jerking, so that I had to wait
for a favourable moment to bolt out of bed for fear of coming a cropper
if I didn’t mind.

As soon as I was out I saw what the crash had been in the night. My big
portmanteau, which had been set on its end the night before, had had a
jumping match with my water-jug in the night. Both of them had thrown a
somersault across the cabin against the door, but the jug being brittle
(jugs shouldn’t jump against portmanteaus), and coming down undermost,
had gone all into little bits, and the water, all that wasn’t in my
shoes at least, had soaked my carpet at the door end. But it was a
glorious bright morning and the dancing hills of water and the bounding
ship sent me up dancing on the deck. My high spirits were a little
subdued after breakfast, for I had scarcely got on deck when parson
H------ came to me to say the emigrants wanted me to give them an
address. Well, I couldn’t refuse, as my heart is full of them, poor dear
folk, so down I went to get my ideas straight, and put down the heads
on paper. I thought I wouldn’t miss the air, though, so set open my
porthole window, which as I told you is about a foot across, and set
to work--as I write, this blessed porthole is about a yard away from my
right ear, and perhaps two feet above my head. Well, I was just getting
into swing with my work, when suddenly a great pitch, and kerswash! in
comes all of a wave that could squeeze through my porthole, right on
to my ear and shoulder, over my desk, drenching all my papers,
lucifer-match boxes, hair-brushes, wideawake, tobacco-pouch and other
chattels, and flooding all of my floor which my water-jug had left dry.
I bolted to the porthole and closed him up before another curious wave
could come prying in, and soon rubbed everything dry again with the help
of the Captain’s cabin-boy, and no harm is done except that I have to
sit with my feet up on my portmanteau while I write. This sheet was
dowsed in my shower-bath this morning, but I laid it on my bed, and it
seems all right now and doesn’t even blot; I shall however envelope it
now with another sheet for safety, as I’m not going to keep my porthole
shut notwithstanding the warning, and I don’t want my letters to you
floated again.



Peruvian, 9th August 1870.

Since I put my last sheet into No. 1 envelope, everything in the good
ship _Peruvian_ has been dancing. The long tables in the saloon, at
which we are always eating and drinking, have been covered with a small
framework, over which the cloth is laid, and which has the effect of
dividing them into three compartments; a sort of trough down each side
in which are the dishes. Notwithstanding these precautions there are
constant catastrophes in the shape of spoons, forks, tumblers, and
sometimes plates, jumping the partitions suddenly as the ship heels
over. The story of the Yankee skipper saying to the lady on his left,
“I’ll trouble you, marm, for that ’ere turkey--” the bird in question
having fled from the table into her lap as he was beginning to serve
it--becomes quite commonplace. How the steward’s men get about with
plates and dishes, goodness knows; but though there is a constant
clatter and smash going on all over the ship I haven’t seen them drop
anything. I am almost the only passenger who hasn’t even had a twinge
of squeamishness, but we muster pretty well considering all things. The
Captain is one of the cheeriest fellows alive, and keeps up the spirits
of all the women. If he sees any one of them who is still about looking
peeky, he whisks her off under his arm and walks her up and down the
deck, where they stagger along together, and the fresh breeze soon
revives the damsel. He is a sort of temporary father to all the girls,
and constantly has, it seems, three or four entrusted to him to take
over or bring back.

Of course there is a great deal of discomfort on board, but I have
visited the steerage and am delighted with the arrangements for feeding,
ventilation, etc. To poor seasick people, however, it must be very
trying. This morning I carried off to my cabin a poor forlorn young
married couple, whom I had noticed on shore at Moville, and afterwards
on board. I am sure they hadn’t been married a week, and they were
evidently ready to eat one another. When I saw them settling down on
a large bench in a covered place amidships where were twenty or thirty
folk, mostly ill, and several men smoking, she with her poor head tied
up tidily in a red handkerchief nestling on to his shoulder, I couldn’t
stand it, and took them off to my cabin, where they could nurse one
another for a few hours’ in peace. We have had a birth too on board, and
mother and child, I am glad to say, are doing well. She is a very nice
woman, I am told by one of the ladies who visits her, the wife of a
school teacher. The baby is to have Peruvian for one of its names. I
have really enjoyed the rough weather much; it has never been more than
half a gale, I believe, though several men have been thrown from the
sofas to the cabin floor, and more or less bruised. The cheery Captain
has comforted us all by announcing that we shall be through the storm
before midnight.

Up the St. Lawrence they say we shall want light summer clothing. If the
weather settles down we are to have an amateur concert on board, which
will be, I take it, very lame on the musical side, but amusing in other
ways.

R------ was entrusted by the Captain with the task of getting it up,
and before we got into rough weather had booked some six or seven
volunteers. I daresay he will be well enough to-morrow morning to go on
with it. My address is of course postponed for the present.



Wednesday.

The Captain was quite right--we sailed clear out of the storm before
midnight yesterday, and though to-day some swell is left, it is so calm
that the saloon tables have quite filled up again at meal-times. I was
of course nailed by the parson for my address in the afternoon, and
placed on one of the flat skylights amidships, as no other equally
convenient and fixed stump could be found. As I know you would sooner
get rubbish of mine than poetry of any one else, I give the outline. “I
was there,” I said, “at their parson’s request, to talk, but it seemed
to me that in the grand scene we were in, the great waves, the bright
sky, the free breezes, could talk to them more eloquently than human
lips. We were wont to use proverbs all our lives without realising their
meaning. ‘We’re all in the same boat’ had never impressed me till now.
Our week’s experience showed us before all things that the first duty
of those in the same boat was to help, comfort, and amuse the rest. If I
could do either I should be glad. What were we to talk about? (Shouts of
‘Canada.’) Well we would come to Canada, but first a word or two of the
old country they were leaving. Love of our birthplace, otherwise called
patriotism, is one of the strongest and noblest passions God has planted
in man’s heart. You have a great birthright as Englishmen, are members,
however humble, of the nation which has spread free speech and free
thought round the world, which was the first to declare that her
flag never should fly over a slave. Fellow-countrymen of Wycliffe,
Shakespeare, Milton. Wherever you go cherish these memories, be loyal
to the old country, keep a soft place in your heart for the land of your
birth. You are now making the passage from the old world to the new,
enjoying one of those rare resting-places which God gives us in our
lives. It is time for bracing up the whole man for new effort, for
casting off old, bad habits. One strong resolution made at such times
often is the turning-point in men’s lives. As to the land you are going
to, Remember you are getting a fresh start in life and all will depend
on yourselves. In the old land there is often not enough work for strong
and willing hands; in the new there are a hundred openings, and in all
more work than hands. One thing wanted is honest, hard work. Whatever
your hands find to do, do it with all your might, and you are sure of
comfort and independence. Your new home is England’s eldest child and
has a great destiny to work out. Be loyal therefore and true to your
birthplace, keeping old memories alive and giving her a share of your
love; be loyal to your new home, giving her your best work; above all,
be loyal and true to yourselves and you shall not be false to any man or
any land.” This, spread over half an hour, was my talk.

When I had finished I called on the Captain, who warned them against
drink in a straightforward sailor’s speech. Then a grizzled old boy,
who had been calling out “That’s true” whenever I spoke of hard work,
scrambled up on the skylight and told them that he had come out thirty
years ago from England with nine shillings in his pocket and seven
children. He had given each of his daughters fifteen hundred dollars on
their marriage, and helped each of his sons into a farm, and had a farm
of his own, which he was going back to after visiting his old home in
Cornwall. All this he had done by hard work. He was a blacksmith, but
would turn his hand to anything. Times were just as good now as then,
and every one of them might do the same. This was a splendid clencher to
the nail I had tried to drive in. The parson wound up with more advice
as to liquor, and an account of how well the sixteen hundred he had
already sent out had done. The whole was a great success, and we all
went off to dinner in the cabin in high spirits. If the fair weather
lasts we shall see land to-morrow afternoon. To-morrow night we are to
have our concert. My young couple have turned up trumps: he plays the
old piano in the saloon famously, being an excellent musician, and she
sings, they say, nicely when not sea-sick. The Canadians on board assure
him he will be caught up as an organist directly to help out his other
means of livelihood. Then for Friday we are to have “Box and Cox” in the
cabin, played by the Captain and R------, who knows the part of

Cox perfectly already, having played it at Cambridge. Mrs. Bouncer has
not yet been fixed on, but a nice little Canadian girl will, I think,
play it.



Tuesday evening.

We had a fog this morning which lost us a couple of hours, seeing
however, as compensation, a fog rainbow--a colourless arch, which as you
looked over the side seemed to spring from the two ends of the ship. As
the fog cleared away and we went ahead we saw an iceberg to the north,
which soon looked like a great white lion lying on the horizon. During
the day, which has been wonderfully bright and cold, we have seen
several more icebergs and a lot of whales, one of which came quite
close to the ship. We sighted land about seven, and in six miles more
we should have passed into the Bay of St. Lawrence, when a rascally fog
came on and forced us to lay-to. The Captain can’t leave the deck, so we
didn’t have our concert, and we are all going to bed anxious to hear the
screw at work again.



Friday.

We lay-to all last night, the jolly Captain up on the bridge, to watch
for any lifting of the fog, so that he might go ahead at once; but the
fog wouldn’t lift, and so we lay until eight this morning. Just before
breakfast it cleared, and away we went, and soon entered the strait
between Newfoundland and Labrador. By the time we had done breakfast
we were running close by a huge iceberg, like a great irregular wedding
cake, except near the water, where the colour changed from sugary white
into the most delicious green. There were nine other icebergs in sight
to the north, and a number of others round us, just showing above the
water, one like a great ichthyosaurus creeping along the waves, or a
white bear with a very long neck. Had we gone on last night it would
have been a perilous adventure. Soon afterwards we sighted the _North
American_, a companion ship belonging to the same Company, running some
miles in front of us to the north. We had a most exciting race, coming
abreast of her about twelve, and communicating by signals. Then we drew
ahead, and shall be in Quebec nearly a day before her. Then we played
shovel-board on deck, the air getting more balmy every minute as we drew
out of the ice region. We had a grand gathering of emigrants amidships,
and sung hymns, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” and others, with a few
words from G------, the busy parson, who has recovered from his long
sea-sickness at last, and is a famous fellow. The concert of the
Peruvians came off with a great _eclat_ after dinner. They put me in the
chair, and I introduced the performers with a slight discourse about the
Smith family (the Captain’s name is Smith), and at the end they voted
thanks to me, imparting the great success of the voyage to my remarkable
talent for making folk agree and pull together--very flattering, but
scarcely accurate. Then somebody discovered that it was a glorious
moonlight, so up we all went, and very soon there was a fiddler and a
dance on deck, which is only just over. We are well in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, and all going as well as possible.



Mouth of the St. Lawrence.

I am much pleased with the specimens of Canadians whom we have on
board. There are some twenty of them, with their wives, daughters, and
small boys. They are a quiet, well-informed, pleasant set of men,
and ready and pleased to talk of their country and her prospects. My
conversation runs to a great extent, as you may suppose, on the chances
of farming in Canada West, which is the part of the colony with the
greatest future, and I am much pleased with what I hear. Any man with a
capital of from £2000 to £3000 may do very well, and make money quite as
fast as is good for him, if he will only keep steady and work; and the
life is exceedingly fascinating for youngsters.

There is a very nice fellow on board, a gentleman in the conventional
sense, who is returning from a run to Gloucestershire to see his
friends. He has been out for seven years only, two of which he spent as
an apprentice with a farmer, learning his trade. He is quite independent
now, and I would not wish to meet a better specimen of a man.

I doubt whether you, being so orderly a party, would quite appreciate
what appears to be the favourite form of pleasuring amongst the
up-country farmers, but I own that it would have suited my natural
man down to the ground. Half a dozen of them, in the bright, still
wintertime, will agree that they haven’t seen Jones for some weeks, so
will give him “a surprise.” Accordingly they all start from their own
houses so as to meet at his farm about 9.30 or 10 o’clock--the time he
would be going to bed.

They drive over in sledges, each taking his wife, sister, or sweetheart,
a good hamper of provisions and plenty of buffalo robes. Jones finds his
yard full of neighing horses and sledges as he is going to bed. If he
has already gone they knock him up. They then take possession of his
house and premises. The men litter down their horses, the women light
his fire and lay the supper, the only absolute rule being, that Jones
and his family and servants do nothing at all.

They all sit down to supper and then dance till they are tired, and
then the women go to bed; and the men, if there are no beds for them,
as generally happens, roll themselves in their buffalo robes and go to
sleep. In the morning they breakfast, and then start away home again
over the snow in their sledges, after the men have cut up firewood
enough to keep Jones warm for a week.

There is magnificent trout and salmon fishing, and deer, wolf, and bear
shooting, for those who like to seek it in the backwoods, and plenty of
time for sport when the farm work is over, or in the winter. At the big
towns, such as Montreal and Toronto, there is plenty of society,
and evidently cultivated society, though young Guardsmen may speak
shudderingly of colonists.

Box and Cox, by the way, went off very well considering that the
Captain, who played Box, had been up on the bridge almost the whole of
the two previous nights, and consequently did not quite know his part.



Sunday 14th.

Last night we danced on deck till nearly eleven under the most lovely
soft moon I have ever seen. This morning we are running up the St.
Lawrence along the southern bank, the northern being dim in the extreme
distance. There is a long continuous range of hills covered entirely
with forest, except just along the water’s edge, where it has been
cleared by the French-Canadian settlers. They live along the shore, too
close, I should say, to the water line for comfort; but as their chief
occupation is fishing, I have no doubt they have good reasons for their
selection. There is scarcely a quarter of a mile for the last twenty
or thirty miles, I should say, in which there is not a cottage, but the
villages are far between. The people are a simple, quiet folk, living
just as their fathers lived, happy, clean, contented, and stationary.
This last quality provokes the English of Upper Canada dreadfully, who
complain that the French make everything they require at home, and buy
nothing whatever which contributes to the revenue of the Dominion except
a little cheap tea. However, there is much to be said for the Frenchmen,
and I am very glad that our English people have constantly before them
the example of such a self-sufficing and unambitious life. In two or
three hours, probably before our morning service is over, the pilot will
be on board with papers, and we shall know what has been doing in the
great outside world. I was thinking of telegraphing to you, but as the
Company telegraph, and publish our arrival “all well” in the English
papers, it seems scarcely worth while.

The pilot has just come on board and brought us Canadian papers with
copies of telegrams, and general vague rumours of terrible reverses for
France. I always looked for them, as you know. This frightful reign
of eighteen years, begun in perjury and bloodshed, and continued by
constant pandering to the worst tendencies of France, must have taken
the power and heart out of any nation. I pity the poor Canadians who
still hold themselves more French than anything else, as indeed they
are. They gather on deck and tell one another that the news is German,
that it is all mere rumour. They will find it too true in another day or
two. I am very glad to hear that the Orleans princes are now to go back.
They are a family of very gallant and able gentlemen, and ought to be
with France at this moment. Wrong as I think her, I hope she may soon be
able to rally, shake off the charlatans whom she has allowed to misrule
her, and conclude an honourable peace. The pilot-boat went back at once,
and when she lands our safe arrival will be telegraphed at once, so that
I hope you may see it before to-morrow evening--if you only know where
to look in the newspaper. I often think how very different those short
announcements at the head of the Shipping news will seem to me in the
future.

“Allan Line. The _Peruvian_ arrived off Father Point yesterday. All
well.”



Wednesday.

Events have been crowding us during the last thirty-six hours--bless
me, I mean the last sixty hours--I had positively written Tuesday
instead of Wednesday at the top of this. I let my watch run down on the
_Peruvian_, as it was too provoking to have to put it back thirty-five
minutes every morning. Since then time has gone all whiz! however, I
shall pick up the time now and get to my bearings, at least I shall try.
Well, all Sunday afternoon we ran up the glorious St. Lawrence, past
the mouths of what we should call big rivers, past the Canadian
watering-places, past one long straggling village except where the hills
are too steep or the soil absolutely barren. The view is not unlike many
Scotch ones, substituting scrub or stunted forest for heather. This of
course is a great disadvantage in a picturesque point of view, but it is
more than compensated by the great river. I am very glad I came to the
new world up the St. Lawrence. Nothing could have brought the startling
contrast of the old and new world so vividly home to me as this steaming
literally day after day up the stream, and finding it still at 700 miles
from the mouth two miles broad, with anchorage for the largest ships
that float. We went the round of the ship with the Captain after dinner,
to see the wonderful detail of the storerooms, and the huge fire-system
which goes glowing on through all the voyage. The sight of the
twenty-five great furnaces glowing, and consuming fifty-two tons of coal
a day, quite scared several of the ladies, who seemed to think that the
Peruvian was flying, I should say sailing, presumptuously in the face
of Providence not to have caught fire during the voyage. Luckily we were
within a few hours of port, so their anxiety was not of long duration.
I went to bed for the last time in my crib on the top of the drawers,
leaving word for the quartermaster to call me when we were getting near
Quebec. Accordingly I was roused at about three from one of the sleeps
without a turn even (by reason that there is no room to turn) which one
gets on board ship, and scuffled up on deck in my trousers and fur coat
to find myself in the most perfect moonlight rounding the last point
below Quebec. Then up went three rockets, and as we slacked our speed
at the side of the wharf right opposite the citadel, two guns were fired
and the voyage of the Peruvian was over. My packing was all done, so
while the vessel was being unladen I went quietly to bed again and slept
for another two or three hours amid all the din. Between six and seven
I turned out again and had a good breakfast on board, after which came
leave-takings, and then those of us who were not going on by train and
were ready to start, went on board a little tug ferry-boat and were
paddled across to Quebec. I have sent a small map to show you how the
land lies. Our ferry-boat took us over from Port Levi to the quay just
under the Citadel along the line I have dotted, and we at once chartered
two carriages to visit the falls of Montmorency, to which you will see a
line drawn on the map and which is about six miles from Quebec. Oh, the
air! You know what it is when we land at Dieppe, or at Brussels, or
Aix. Well, all that air is fog, depressing wet blanket compared to this
Canadian nectar. I really doubt whether it would not be almost worth
while to emigrate merely for the exquisite pleasure of the act of living
in this country.



Montreal, 19th August 1870.

I must get on with my journal or shall fall altogether astern--you
have no idea how hard it is even to find time to write a few lines home;
however if I can only make up the time to-day I hope to keep down the
arrears more regularly hereafter. We had a long day of sightseeing in
and about Quebec. First we drove down to the Montmorency Falls, 220 feet
high and very beautiful, then back to the Citadel, which rises some 600
or 700 feet right above the river--a regular little Gibraltar;
then we went off to the Heights of Abraham, at the back of the
Citadel, where Wolfe fought his battle and was killed after scaling the
cliffs in the early morning. Then we drove down into the town, and had
lunch at a restaurant, and walked about to see the place. Well worth
seeing it is; a quaint, old, thoroughly French town of the last century
dropped down into the middle of the new world. In the evening we went
on board the great river steamer, and came away all night up the St.
Lawrence to Montreal. There were 1000 passengers on board, every one of
whom had an excellent berth--mine was broader and lighter than that on
the _Peruvian._ We were not the least crowded in the splendid saloon
(some 150 feet long), and the open galleries running all round the ship
in two tiers. I preferred the latter, though there was music, Yankee and
Canadian, in the saloon, and spent my evening till bedtime out in the
stern gallery looking at the most superb moonlight on the smooth water
you can conceive. We had a small English party there, and there were
half a dozen constantly changing groups round us. The girls have
evidently much more freedom than at home, at least more than they had
in our day--two or three would come out with as many young men, and sit
round in a ring. The men lighted cigars, and then they would all set to
work singing glees, songs, or what not, and chaffing and laughing away
for half an hour perhaps, after which they would disappear into the
saloon. There was a regular bar on board at which all manner of cool
drinks were sold. We tried several, which I thought, I must say, very
nasty, especially brandy-smash. After a most comfortable night I awoke
between five and six as we were nearing Montreal. The city is very fine,
the river still two miles broad, and ocean steamer drawing twenty feet
and more of water able to lie right up against the quay. S------, a
friend of Sir J. Rose’s, a great manufacturer here, whom I had taken to
the “Cosmopolitan,” was in waiting on the landing-place, and took us at
once up to his charming house on the hill (the mountain they call it)
at the back of the city. He is a man of forty-three or forty-four; his
wife, a very pleasant woman a little younger, and adopted daughter,
Alice (a very sweet girl of nineteen, just home from an English school),
form the whole family. I can’t tell you how kind they are and how
perfectly at home they have made us. After breakfast we went down to see
the city, got photographed with the rest of the above-named Peruvians,
had a delicious lunch of fried oysters at a luncheon shop kept by a
Yankee, washed it down with a drink called John Collins, a pleasant,
cold, weak, scented kind of gin and water. Sir Geo. Carter and Sir Fras.
Hinks, two of the present Government, both of whom I had met in England,
came to dinner, also Holton the leading senator of the Opposition, and
the two young Roses, one bringing his pretty young wife, and we had a
long and very interesting political talk afterwards. Nothing could have
suited me better, as there are many points of Canadian politics I am
very anxious to get views on. We didn’t get to bed till 12.30, so I had
no time to write. On Wednesday we saw more of the city which I shan’t
attempt to describe till I can sit by you with photographs and explain,
lunched at the Club, of which we have been made honorary members, with
a large party of merchants and other big folk, and then at three were
picked up by Mrs. S.---, who drove us up the river to a place called
Lachine, past the rapids (see Canadian boat-song), “The rapids are near
and the daylight’s past.” Lachine gets its queer name from the first
French Missionaries who started up the St. Lawrence to get to China, and
for some unaccountable reason thought they had reached the flowery land
when they got to this place, so settled down and called it China. The
air was still charming, but the sky was beginning to get less bright,
and Mrs. S---- and A------agreed that there must be a forest burning
somewhere. And so it proved, for in a few hours the whole sky was
covered with a smoke-cloud, light but not depressing, like our fogs, but
still so dense that we could scarcely see across the river. We got back
in time for dinner, to which came Colonel Buller, now commanding the
Rifles here; Hugh Allan, the head of the great firm of ship-owners to
whom the _Peruvian_ and all the rest of the Allan line packets belong;
and several young Canadians. It was very pleasant again, and again I
got a heap of information on Canadian subjects from Allan, who is a
longheaded able old Scotchman, the founder of the immense prosperity of
himself and all his family. He has his private steam yacht and a great
place on a lake near here, wherein is a private telegraph, so that he
can wire all over the world from his own hall. Prince Arthur went to
stay with him when he was out here in the late autumn and spring, and
the Queen wired him every day while he was there. Early next morning
S------,

Miss A------, I, and R------ were off by rail to a station ten or twelve
miles up the river, where we waited till the Montreal market-boat came
down and picked us up to shoot the rapids. We had a very pleasant run
to Quebec, and the shooting the rapids is very interesting, but neither
dangerous nor even exciting. The river widens out perhaps to two and a
half miles in width, and for some mile or mile and a half breaks into
these rapids, which boil and rush along at a great pace, and in quite a
little boat would no doubt keep the steerer and oarsmen on the stretch.
The approach to Montreal under the great Victoria Bridge, two miles
long, is very noble. We got back to breakfast at ten, and afterwards
went up the mountain at the back of the town, but the haze from the
burning forest quite spoiled the view. The carriage is announced, so I
must close.



Montreal, 20th August 1870.

I hurried up my letters yesterday, so as to bring my journal down to
the day I was writing on, fearing lest otherwise I should never catch
the thread again. I doubt whether I told you anything about this very
fine city, in the suburbs of which we are stopping, and which we leave
to-day. Well, I scarcely know how to begin to give you an idea of it. It
isn’t the least like an English or indeed any European town, the reason
being, I take it, that it has been built with the necessity of meeting
extremes of heat and cold, which we never get. Except in the heart of
the city, where the great business streets are, there are trees along
the sides of all the thoroughfares--maples, which give real shade, and
are in many places indeed too thick, and too near the houses for comfort
I should say--as near as the plane-tree was to our drawing-room window
at 33. This arrangement makes walking about very pleasant to me, even
when the thermometer stands at 90° in the shade as it did yesterday.
Then instead of a stone foot-pavement you have almost everywhere boards,
timber being the most plentiful production of the country. Walking along
the boards in the morning you see at every door a great lump of ice,
twenty pounds weight or so, lying there for the maid to take in when
she comes out to clean. This is supplied by the ice merchants for a
few shillings a year. The houses are square, built generally of a fine
limestone found all over the island (Montreal is an island thirty-six
miles long by nine wide), and have all green open shutter-blinds, which
they keep constantly shut all day, as in Greece, to keep out the heat,
and double windows to keep out the cold. The roofs are generally covered
with tin instead of tiles or slates, and all the church steeples, of
which there are a very large number, are tinned, as you remember we saw
them in parts of Austria and Hungary. There are magnificent stores of
dry goods, groceries, etc., but scarcely any shops in our sense. No
butcher, milkman, greengrocer, etc., calls at the door, and the ladies
have all to go down to the market or send there. Nothing can be better
than the living, but Mrs. S------ complains that it is very hard work
for _hausfraus_, and I have heard Lady K------ say the same thing. This
house is in one of the shaded avenues on the slopes of the mountain,
two miles I should say from the market. Mrs. S------- drives down every
marketday and buys provisions, market-days being twice a week, but the
stalls are open on other days also, so that if a flood of company
comes in on the intermediate days, the anxious housewife need not be
absolutely done for. The living is as good as can be, not aspiring
to first-rate French cookery, but equal to anything you find in good
English houses. Prices are very reasonable except for fancy articles of
clothing, etc. Furs, which you would expect to find cheap, are at least
as high as in London, and R------made an investment in gloves for which
he paid six shillings a pair. The city is the quietest and best-behaved
I ever was in. We dined at the mess of the 60th Rifles last night, and
walked home through the heart of the city at 10.30. Every one had gone
to bed, apparently, for there wasn’t a light in fifty houses and we
literally met no one--not half a dozen people certainly in the whole
distance. Altogether I am very much impressed with the healthiness of
the life, morally and physically, and can scarcely imagine any country I
would sooner start in were I beginning life again.



Tuesday morning, 23rd August 1870.

Well, to continue, on Saturday we broke up from Montreal, having I
think seen very thoroughly all the persons and things best worth seeing
in the place. Our host had arranged that we should go and spend Sunday
with Mr. Hugh Allan, the head of the family which has established the
line of mail steamers to Liverpool and Glasgow. He has been forty years
out here, and when he came Montreal had only 17,000 inhabitants, now it
has 150,000; there was scarcely water for a 200 ton ship to lie at the
wharf, now you can see steamers of 2000 tons and upwards always there.
Hugh Allan is evidently a very rich man now. He has a big house on the
mountain behind Montreal, and this place where I am now writing from, on
Memphremagog Lake, which if you have a good map, you will find half
in Canada and half in the New England state of Vermont. It is a lovely
inland sea, about thirty-five miles long and varying from one to three
miles broad. Mr. Allan’s house, where he entertained Prince Arthur in
the spring, stands on the top of a high well-wooded promontory, about
half-way up. It is a good, commodious, gentleman’s house, with deep
verandahs, thoroughly comfortable, but without pretence or show of any
kind. There is a large wooden out-building called the Hermitage, about
one hundred yards off, divided entirely into bedrooms, so that there is
room for lots of guests besides the family, seven or eight of whom are
here. In another building there is an American bowling-alley, and an
excellent croquet ground before the house. Mr. Allan keeps a nice steam
yacht, which runs about the lake daily with any one who likes to go, and
there are half a dozen rowing boats, so time need not hang heavily on
the most restless hands. I accepted the invitation, as a few days at
Memphremagog is evidently considered the thing to do by all Canadians,
and the last twenty miles or so of the railway to Newport (Vermont), the
place at the foot of the lake at which you embark, has only just been
finished, right through the forest, so that it was a good chance of
seeing the beginnings of colonial life in the bush. And I am very glad
that I did come, for certainly if the journey (120 miles altogether) had
been planned for the purpose, it couldn’t have been more interesting.
After leaving Montreal we travelled I should say for from thirty to
forty miles through reclaimed country, dotted with French villages and
the homesteads of well-to-do farmers. Then we gradually slipped into
half-cleared woods, and then into virgin forest. Presently we came
across a great block of the forest on fire, but in broad daylight the
sight is not the least grand, though unpleasant from the smoke, and
melancholy from the waste and mischief which the fires do. I think I
told you in my last that the forests about Ottawa, the capital of the
Dominion, were on fire last week. The fire became so serious that great
fears were entertained for the town, the militia and volunteers were
called out, and a special train with fire-engines was sent up from
Montreal. Scores of poor settlers were in the streets, having with
difficulty escaped with their lives, and last of all several wretched
bears trotted out of the burning woods into the town. The fire we passed
through was not at all on this scale, and didn’t seem likely to get
ahead. There were the marks of fires of former years on all sides in
these forests. Tall stems by hundreds, standing up charred and gaunt out
of the middle of the bright green maple underwood, which is fast growing
up round them, and in a very short time makes the tangle as thick as
ever. Before long we came to small clearings of from three to four
acres, on each of which was a rough wooden shanty, with half a dozen
wild, brown, healthy-looking children rolling and scrambling about it,
and standing up in their single garments to cheer the train. On these
plots the trees had all been felled about two feet from the ground, and
the brushwood cleared away, and there were crops of Indian corn, oats,
or buckwheat growing all round the stumps. Then we came to plots which
had been occupied longer, where the shanty had grown into a nice-sized
cottage, with a good-sized outhouse near. Here all the stumps had been
cleared, and the plot divided by fences, and three or four cows would
be poking about. Then we came to a fine river and ran along the bank,
passing here and there sawmills of huge size, and stopping at one or two
large primitive villages, gathered round a manufactory. In short, in
the day’s run we saw Canadian life in all its phases, ending with a
delicious twelve miles’ run up the lake in Mr. Allan’s steam yacht, with
the whole sky flickering with Northern lights, which shot and played
about for our special delight. Our railway party were Mr.

Allan; Mr. and Mrs. S------, and Miss B------, their adopted daughter;
General Lindsay, whom I knew well in England and like very much; Colonel
Eyre, his military secretary, and ourselves. Then there are eight
children here. “We had a most luxurious car, with a little sitting-room
in which we each had an easy chair, and there were two most
enticing-looking little bedrooms, everything as clean and neat as you
could have it, and we could walk out on to a platform at either end to
look at the view. There was a boy also in attendance in a little sort
of spare room where the luggage went, who ministered any amount of
iced water to any one who called. This is decidedly the most luxurious
travelling I ever had, but then the car was the private one of the
manager of the Grand Trunk Railway; and the democratic cars in which
every one else went, and in which indeed we had to travel for the last
few miles, were very different affairs. Fancy my intense delight on
Sunday morning, as I walked from the Hermitage up to the house to
breakfast through some flower-beds, to see two humming-birds, poising
themselves before flower after flower while probing and trying the
blooms with their long bills, and then springing back with a stroke of
their lovely little tails, and whisking off to the next bloom. They
were green and brown, not so lovely in colour as many you have seen in
collections, but exquisite as eye need ask to look at. The humming-birds
have been certainly my greatest natural history treat as yet, not
excepting the whales. I had seen a whale before, a small one, in the
Hebrides, and I had never seen a hummingbird except stuffed; moreover
I expected to see whales, but not humming-birds. We saw a fine great
bald-headed eagle to-day, too, sailing over the lake, but his flight was
not anything like so fine as those we saw soaring over the Iron Gates as
we went spinning down the Danube nine years ago. We have a very charming
visit here steaming about the lake, driving along the banks, playing
croquet and bowls and billiards, and laughing, chaffing, and loafing to
any extent. The family are very nice, and I hope he will soon be made a
baronet and one of the first grandees of the Dominion. To-morrow morning
at five we start for Boston in the steam yacht, which takes us down to
Newport at the end of the lake. So by the evening I shall perhaps get
a letter from you. How I do thirst for home news after three weeks’
absence.



Elmwood, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 25th August 1870.

I forget just where I left off, whether I had brought my journal up to
our leaving Memphremagog or not. The last day there was as pleasant
as the rest. The young folks played croquet and American bowls all the
morning, while I lay on the grass watching for humming-birds and talking
occasional politics to any one who would join me. At about twelve a
retired judge, Day by name, who lives four or five miles off, drove over
with a member of the Government (I forget his name) who was to start
from the pier below the house in the lake steamer. Mr. Allan owns this
steamer, which stops at his pier whenever he runs up a flag; so you
see the privileged classes are not extinct by any means in the British
dominion in the new world. Now the Judge, having a seat in his light
sort of phaeton, proposed to drive me over to the post-office, about
four miles off, where he was going, and to bring me back to luncheon.
So I embarked behind his two strong little trotting nags and had a most
interesting drive. The roads were not worse than many Devonshire lanes,
and where the pitches were steepest, the stout little nags made nothing
of them.

The views of the lake were exquisite, and the Judge one of the
pleasantest of men. He had been employed in 1865 on a mission to
Washington, and gave me very graphic accounts of his interviews with
Lincoln and the other leading men there, and confirmed many of my own
views as to the comparative chances of the two great sections of our
race in the new world in the future. He is less apprehensive of Canada
joining the United States than most men of his standing, and I think
has good reason for his confidence. Material interest will perhaps for
a time (or rather, after a time, for at present it is very doubtful on
which side they weigh) sway in the direction of annexation to the United
States, but the ablest and most energetic of the younger men of the
cultivated classes are so strongly bent on developing a distinct
national life, that I expect to see them carry their country for
independence rather than annexation, when the time comes, if it ever
should, of a final cutting of the ropes which bind them to us. After
luncheon we went off in the steam yacht to a bay in the lake, and then
in row boats four or five miles up the bay into the heart of the hills,
where we saw bald-headed eagles, and black and white king-fishers
five times the size of ours, and after a very interesting and pleasant
excursion got back to dinner, finishing the evening with dancing. At
five next morning we heard the steamer’s whistle calling us. The young
ladies were up to give us a cup of coffee and parting good words, and
then we-steamed down for Newport, where we were to take the rail through
the Connecticut valley to Boston. On the Newport wharf which joins the
station we said good-bye to Allan and Stephen, and shall carry away most
charming memories of our stay in Canada. General Lindsay and Eyre went
with us, and their companionship made the journey very agreeable, though
it was as hot as the Lower Danube, and the dust more uncomfortable and
dirtying than any we have at home. Most part of the way the soil is
as light and sandy as that about Dorking, and the trains seem to raise
greater clouds of it.

The greater part of the journey was along the banks of the Merrimac, a
fine river with as much water as the Thames at Richmond, I should
say, but spread over a bed generally twice as broad. We saw the White
Mountains at a distance on our left, and passed through a number of
flourishing towns. The thing that struck me most was the apparent fusion
into one class of the whole community. As you know, every one goes into
the same long carriages, holding from sixty to eighty people. Of these
there were four or often five on our train, and I often passed through
them (as you may do, up the middle, without disturbing the passengers,
who sit in pairs with their faces to the engine on each side of the
passage), as there was a great deal of local traffic, seventy people
often getting out at a station, I thus saw really a very considerable
number of people on this first day in the States, and certainly should
have been exceedingly puzzled to sort them in the broadest way, either
into rich and poor, gentlemen or ladies (in the conventional sense) and
common people, or any other radical division. I certainly saw at some
stations children running about without shoes, and workmen in as
dirty blouses as those of Europe; but in the trains they were all well
dressed, quiet, self-respecting people, without any pretence to polish,
or any approach to vulgarity. The bad taste in women’s dress, which I am
told to expect elsewhere, does not certainly prevail in New England. All
the women wore neat short dresses, with moderate trimmings according to
taste; but I did not see an extravagant garment or, I am bound to add, a
really pretty one along the whole line. On the whole I thought the women
as good looking as any I have ever travelled amongst, but paler and
sadder, or at any rate quieter, than a like number of Englishwomen.
Once or twice men in stove-pipe hats (the ordinary tile of so-called
civilisation), and wearing perhaps better cloth and whiter linen than
the average, got in, but not one whom you would have picked out as a
person bred and brought up in a different way, and occupying a station
above or apart from the rest, as you see in every train in England.
It may have been chance, but certainly it was startling. Then another
surprise. They are certainly the least demonstrative people so far
as strangers are concerned that I have ever been amongst. I had the
prevailing idea that a Yankee was a note of interrogation walking about
the world, and besides craving for all sorts of information about you,
was always ready to impart to you the particulars of his own birth,
parentage, and education, and his opinion on everything, “from Adam’s
fall to Huldy’s bonnet.” Well, I left our party purposely several times
on the journey to try the experiment of sitting on one of the small
seats carrying two only with a Yankee. In not one single case did either
of those I sat by say a single word to me, and when I commenced they
just answered my question very civilly and relapsed into total silence.
I may add that this first experience has been confirmed since, both in
street and railway cars.

We got to Boston at about seven, and then had our first experience of
the price of things here. It is only four miles out to Lowell’s, who
lives on the other side of Cambridge, but we were obliged to pay five
dollars for a carriage to get out there. We could get nothing but a
great handsome family coach with two horses, and in that, accordingly,
out we lumbered. Cambridge is a very pretty suburb of Boston, the centre
point of it being Harvard College, consisting of four or five large
blocks of red brick building and a stone chapel, standing in the midst
of some fine trees. Elmwood Avenue in which Lowell lives is about half
a mile beyond the College--a broad road shaded on both sides by tows
of trees planted as in the Boulevards, as indeed is done along all the
roads. The Professor’s house is a good, roomy, wooden one standing in
the midst of some thirty acres of his own land, on which stand many good
trees, and especially some pre-revolutionary English elms of which he is
very proud. He was sitting on the piazza of the house with his wife and
Holmes’ brother, taking a pipe and not the least expecting us. The Irish
maid told us to “_sit right down_” while she went to fetch him. In a
minute he and his wife came and put us at our ease, explaining that no
letter had ever come since we had landed. Mabel was away at the sea for
a few days.



Elmwood Avenue, Cambridge, 31s£ August 1870.

I managed with some difficulty and scramble to get off a letter to
you by yesterday’s post, which _ought_ to go by steamer from New York
to-day, bringing my narrative up to our arrival here. We found Lowell on
his verandah with his wife and friend, and sat there talking till ten. I
am not the least disappointed with him, Henry Cowper notwithstanding. I
have never met a more agreeable talker, and his kindness to me is quite
unbounded. Then he has not a grain of vanity in his composition, but is
as simple and truthful as the best kind of boy. The house is a wooden
one, as four-fifths of the houses in New England are. It is roomy, airy,
and furnished with quaint old heavy pieces, bureaus like ours, and solid
heavy little mahogany tables, all dating from the last century. The
plate in the same way is all of the Queen Anne shape, like your little
tea-service and my grandmother’s milk jugs and tea-pots which
George has. The plainness and simplicity of the living, too, is most
attractive. We breakfast at 8.30, beginning with porridge, and following
up with eggs, some hot dish, corn cakes, toast and fruit. Then there is
no regular meal till six--a terribly late and fashionable dinner hour
here, as the prevalent hour is two or three--and afterwards we have a
cup of coffee and crackers (good plain biscuits) and a glass of toddy
at ten. Miss Mabel and others have given us a desperate idea of the
difficulties as to service, but they certainly do not exist in this
establishment just now. The principal servant that we see is an Irish
girl, Rose by name, who reminds me of one of Mrs. Cameron’s servants
except that she is far more diligent. The ingenious way in which she hid
away all my wardrobe in the ample cupboards and recesses of the bureau
in my room was a perfect caution, and she whisks away my things and gets
them beautifully washed, wholly refusing to allow me to pay for them.
The parlour-maid is a little, slight, ladylike girl, who certainly is
not a first-rate waiter, but then there is no need of one. The dinner
is confined to one thing at a time--soup, sometimes fish, a joint, or
chickens, and a sweet. The Professor opens his own wine at the table and
passes it round, and very good it is, but one scarcely needs it in this
climate. A cook whose acquaintance I have also made, and an Irishman who
has been thirty years on the place in a roomy cottage, and attends to
the cows, garden, and farm of thirty acres, complete the establishment.
Mrs. Lowell, who is a very nice, quiet, and clever woman, is very fond
of flowers, and manages to keep a few beds going about the house,
and there are a number of very fine trees, so that though there is no
pretence to the neatness and finish of English grounds and garden, the
place has a thoroughly homely, cultivated atmosphere and look which is
very attractive, and the whole town of Cambridge seems to be made up of
just such houses. We have lost no time in lionising men and places.
On Thursday we took the car into Boston and ascended the monument on
Bunker’s Hill, 290 steps up a dark spiral staircase. Lowell had never
been up it before, nor indeed has any native as far as I can find
out. The view at the top repays you thoroughly for the grind with the
thermometer at eighty in the shade. Boston Harbour, where the tea was
thrown out of the English ships in 1775, and> the whole town and suburbs
lie below you like a map, and are very striking. After descending we
hunted up a number of people, including young Holmes, our Colonel,
who was as charming as ever, absorbed in his law at which he is doing
famously, and resolved in his first holiday to revisit England. He came
out to dine, and fraternised immensely with R----, and with him a young
Howells, the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, whom Conway had brought to
our house years ago, and I had entirely forgotten. However he is a very
nice fellow, and I don’t think I betrayed my obliviousness. Next day,
Friday, we had a long country drive in the morning through broad avenues
lined with three fascinating wooden houses, each standing with plenty of
elbow-room in its own grounds, up to a wooded hill from which we got
a splendid view of the city. Then I went into Boston and called on the
Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, who is one of the best talkers I ever
met, and quite worthy to be the Colonel’s father. He is one of Motley’s
oldest friends, and deeply grieved, as all good men here, at his recall.
His chief talk was of his memories of his English visits, and the
folk he met, and so I find it with all the best men and women here.
Notwithstanding the bitterness which our press created during the war, I
am convinced that with a very little tact and judicious handling on our
side the international relations may be easily made all we can wish as
far as New England is concerned. Afterwards I sauntered about the town,
looking at some good statues in their park (Boston Common), and letting
the place sink into me. The Common is about the size, I should say, of
Green Park, but of a regular shape. It lies on the side of a hill at the
top of which are the State House and other public buildings and
private houses. It is well wooded with fine American and English elms
(pre-revolutionary, they say, but I don’t believe it. They are not used
to our elms, and I doubt whether any of these are 100 years old) on the
upper part and along the sides; the middle is a great playground for the
boys, who are diligent there all day at base-ball, our rounders, which
I should think must spoil the enjoyment of the place for ladies and
children. However they can always take to the pretty gardens at the
lower end, in which is a very fine equestrian statue of Washington, and
one of Everett by Story, by no means fine in my opinion. How should it
be, when he insisted on being taken with his arm right up in the air,
his favourite attitude in speaking, and stands up in that attitude
in ordinary buttoned frock coat and trousers? Everett has not been a
trustworthy public man to my mind, and is simply nothing unless it is
an orator, and I can’t say I think it wise to put him up there on the
palpable stump. But we have made so many mistakes in our public statues
that I suppose it must run in the blood. The best houses in the town,
really charming residences, line the two sides and top of the Common,
and fine stores the bottom. I have never seen a place I would so soon
live in out of England as in one of these houses looking on to Boston
Common. The old business town is being rebuilt just as London--red brick
two or three story houses giving way everywhere to five or six stories
of granite or stone. The town has as old and settled a look and feeling
about it as any I know; but they have few old buildings, and I am afraid
are going to pull down the most characteristic, the old State House,
because it has ceased to be used for public purposes, and its removal
will make a fine broad place and relieve the traffic of several
narrow streets in the heart of the town. It will be a sad pity, and so
unnecessary here, for they might carry it off bodily to any other site.
You know how we have often heard, and wondered, scarce believing, of the
raising bodily of the great hotels, etc., at Chicago. Well, suddenly, in
Boston I came across a great market, three stories high (the upper part
being occupied as houses) and 150 or 200 feet long, as big, say, as
three houses in Grosvenor Square, which they were moving bodily back on
rollers so as to widen the street. There were the wooden ways and
the rollers, and the great block with all its marketing and living
inhabitants lying on them, and already some twelve feet on its journey.
It did not look any the worse for its journey unless it were in the
foundations, where there were a few places which had been filled up, I
saw, with new brickwork. The long pit twelve feet deep which has been
left between the market and the street will now be turned into cellars,
over which the new pavement will pass. On the Saturday we dined with the
Saturday Club at 2.30 P.M., where were all the New England notables now
in town. I sat on the right of Sumner, the State Senator, who was in the
chair, with Boutwell, the Secretary of the Treasury, on my right, and
Emerson on the other side of Sumner. So you may fancy how I enjoyed
the sitting. Emerson is perfectly delightful: simple, wise, and full
of humour and sunshine. The number of good Yankee stories I shall bring
back unless they burst me will be a caution. Forbes, a great Boston
merchant who owns an island seventy-two miles long off the coast close
to Nantucket and Cape Cod, which you will find in the map, came up and
claimed to have seen me for five minutes when I had the small-pox in
1863.

He knows J------ well, and insisted on carrying us off to his island
that night, that we might attend a huge campmeeting on a neighbouring
island on Sunday. So he drove up here with us and we packed--the dear
Professor agreeing that we ought to do it--went down sixty miles by
rail, slept on his yacht, and found ourselves in the morning at his
wharf on the island. Your second letter came to hand from Cromer when we
returned here, and has as usual lighted up my life.



Cambridge, 2nd September 1870.

We are off this afternoon for Newport on our way to New York, and so
south and west. The express man will be here directly for my luggage,
which will be a little curtailed, as these dear kind people insist on
our returning, and leaving all we don’t want in our rooms. So I shall
drop my beaver, leaving it with the most serious admonitions in the
charge of Rose, the Irish girl, who is a character. I will now take up
the thread of my story, merely remarking that what you seem to think
a dull catalogue of small doings at a small watering-place is quite
unspeakably delightful to me away here. On the wharf at Nashont Island
we found the two young F------s, the elder a colonel in the war, and
five months a prisoner in the South, the younger, Malcolm, just left
college. I never saw two finer young men, both of them models of
strength. They had come down to meet us and bathe, so we stopped and
had a splendid header off the wharf and a swim in the bay, after careful
inquiries by R------ as to sharks, to which young F------ replied with
a twinkle in his eye, that they didn’t lose _many_ friends that way. We
walked up to the house after our dip, a large wooden building, with deep
verandahs and sun-blinds, furnished quite plainly, even roughly, but
capable of holding nearly any number of people. We were about eighteen
at breakfast: Mrs. F------ a handsome, clever, elderly lady, born a
Quaker, and with their charm of manner, who made tea for the party, and
on whose right I sat. Opposite her was her husband with Mrs. L------,
the young widow of Lowell’s nephew Charles, the famous soldier, on his
left, and therefore opposite me. On my right, a young woman, a cousin of
the F------s, a Mrs. P------, whose husband sat down towards the end of
the table, the manager of a Western railway, who has given us free
passes over his line. Colonel F------, the eldest son, was Lowell’s
major, and served with distinction in the war, in which he was taken
prisoner, and spent five months in Southern prisons; his wife, a buxom
young woman with very good eyes, is Emerson’s daughter, and her brother,
a bright boy of twenty-two or twenty-three, was near me. There were two
daughters of the family, and two other girls and several boys, all
pleasant and easy in hand; but the gem of the party was the young widow.
She is not actually pretty, but with a face full of the nobleness of
sorrow, which has done its work. I have seldom been more touched than in
watching her gentle, cheerful ways, and her sympathy with all the bright
life around her. Since the war, in which her husband and only brother R.
S------(who commanded the first coloured regiment from Massachusetts,
and was buried under his negroes at Fort Wagner) were killed, she has
devoted herself to the Freedmen, and is Honorary Secretary to the
Society for educating them. After breakfast we started in the yacht for
the neighbouring island, on which the great Methodist camp-meeting was
going on. This Sunday was the great day. They have occupied this island
for some years, and have built there a whole town of pretty little
wooden houses like big Chinese toys, dotted about amongst the trees.
Most of them consist of only one long room, divided by curtains in the
middle. The front half opens to the street, but raised one step above it
is the sitting-room, and the inmates sleep in the back, behind the
curtains. A few houses have a story above; but F------ bought a lot of
photographs for us, which will show you the style of house better than a
page of description. There were literally thousands of people on the
island, upwards of two thousand collected in a huge circular tent in the
middle of the houses, where a preacher was shouting to them. We sat on
the skirts of the congregation and listened for some time, but as he was
only talking wildly about Nebuddah, Positivism, Theodore Parker, and
other heresies and heretics, I was not edified, and got no worship till
he had done, when we all stood up and sang the doxology, which was very
impressive. I was much disappointed at the gathering in a religious
point of view. It was a rare chance for a man with a living word in him,
those thousands of decent, sober, attentive New England men and women.
They told me that in the evening it would be much more interesting, when
there would be great singing of hymns, and many persons would tell how
they came to experience religion as they call it; but we could not stay
for this. The meeting lasts for weeks, and is in fact an excuse for the
gathering at a pretty sea-place in the early autumn of a number of good
folk who would think the ordinary watering-places ungodly, but have a
longing for a break in their ordinary colourless lives. We sailed back
in time for early dinner, meeting on the way huge steamers packed with
passengers for the campmeeting, till they were top heavy. Next day we
spent in, fishing off the rocks for blue-fish, and in a beautiful little
lake of three-quarters of a mile long (one of several in the island) for
bass. I caught a blue fish of nine lbs., the biggest and strongest I
have ever caught, also the only bass which was taken; so I naturally
crowed loudly. The island hours are: breakfast, eight o’clock or half
past eight; dinner, two or three; tea, with cold meat, half-past six or
seven. After tea on both evenings we got into full swing on the war. I
found Mr. F------ and his wife deeply grieved and prejudiced as to our
conduct, our feeling to them as a nation, etc., and set myself to work
hard to remove all this as far as I could. As he is a very energetic and
influential man it is worth taking any amount of trouble about, and I
think I succeeded. In the evenings the young folk sang a number of the
war songs, several composed by or for the negro soldiers, going to
famous airs, and full of humour and pathos. The March through Georgia is
very spirited, and a version of the “John Brown” March, which seems to
have superseded “We’ll hang Jef Davies,” etc., exceedingly touching--at
least I know it was so to me, as all the young folk sang--

          He hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat,

          He is sifting out the souls of men before His judgment seat:

          Be swift, my soul, to welcome Him! be jubilant, my feet.

          In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,

          With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.

          As he died to make men holy, let us die to make them free.

                   Our God is marching on.

To think of what that sweet young woman had gone through (the news of
her husband’s death at the head of his brigade, was read by her in a
newspaper), and to see her sitting there calmly and trying to join
in the chorus, was quite too much for me. However, nobody noticed my
emotion. Our last morning, Tuesday, was spent in a famous wild ride over
the island. After breakfast we found seven very excellent riding horses
(three with sidesaddles) at the door. At home there would have been
three grooms, here each horse has a leathern strap fixed to the bit,
which you just buckle round his neck till you want to stop, and then
fasten it to the nearest tree or lamp-post. The whole turn-out is of
course rough, but I don’t wish to see nicer ladies’ hacks than the three
which the two Miss F------s and Mrs. P------ rode. We sailed back in the
yacht to another little port, a few miles north of New Bedford, F------
having provided us as a parting present with free passes over almost all
the Western railways, which will save me at least £20 I should think. He
is Chairman of several, and so can do it without any trouble. We found
the dear Lowells expecting us, and my second letter also waiting, so you
may think that I had a joyful evening. Next day, Wednesday, we drove to
Concord to dine with Judge Hoar, the late Attorney-General of the United
States, a very able, fine fellow. We passed over classic ground, the
very road along which the English troops marched in April 1776 to
destroy the stores, when the first collision of the War of Independence
took place at Concord Bridge and in the village of Lexington. You may
perhaps remember in the second series of the _Biglow Papers_ “Sumthin’
in the Pastoral Line,” in which old Concord Bridge and the monument
which has been put up to commemorate the fight, talk together over the
_Trent_ affair. The Judge’s two sons, very nice young fellows, pulled us
up Concord River, which runs at the bottom of their garden, to the spot,
and on the way (which is very pretty) we saw lots of tortoises sitting
and basking on the stones, and popping in when we approached, and heard
a lot of capital Yankee stories from the Judge. Dinner at three; Emerson
came, and there were two Miss H------s, and a Miss S------, a handsome
girl, sister of the best oar in the Harvard boat of last year. I enjoyed
the dinner and smoke afterwards immensely, and am at last quite sure
that I am doing some good with some of these men, all of whom are
influential, and most of them sadly prejudiced against us still as a
nation. For myself it is quite impossible to express their kindness.
They seem as if they can never do enough for me. When we got back to
Cambridge, we found Miss M------ and Dr. Lowell, brother to James, an
English clergyman, and quite charming too in his way.



New York.

I think I have told you already the sort of royal progress I am making.
Some principal citizen always comes to the station to meet us in his
carriage, books our luggage by the express (an admirable institution
which saves you all the trouble with luggage), drives us up to his
house, lodges us in the best rooms, has all the best folks in the
neighbourhood to meet us at breakfast, dinner, tea, takes us to the
sights of the neighbourhood, keeps all his servants out of sight when we
are going, so that we can’t give any one a penny or even pay our washing
bills, and finally sends us and our luggage down to the next boat or
steamer, when we are booked already probably by a new friend. Certainly
I never saw, heard of, or could imagine anything like the hospitality.
It is no doubt in some degree, and in individual cases, owing to
the part I took during the war in England, but Democrats as well as
Republicans have been amongst our warmest hosts; in fact, I am fairly
puzzled, and allow the tide at last to carry me along, floating down it
and enjoying everything as well as I can. I think in my last I got to
our start from Boston. No! was it? At any rate, I wrote about our day at
Concord, I know, as to which I shall have to tell you more when we meet.
After we got home Miss Mabel rushed upstairs, got into her photographing
dress, the quaintest turn-out you can conceive, and commenced a series
of groups, etc., which you shall have specimens of when I get back. She
is endless fun; has the most arch way of talking to her father as “sir”
 every now and then; is charming with her stepmother; and altogether as
bright a bit of life about a house as you would meet on a summer’s day.
I parted from Lowell and his home feeling that the meeting had been more
than successful. For these eighteen or nineteen years I have revelled
in his books--indeed, have got so much from them and learned to love
the parent of them so well, as I imagined him, that I almost feared
the meeting, lest pleasant illusions should be broken. I found him much
better than his books. We had a pleasant three hours’ rail to Newport,
finding Mr. Field, a Philadelphian banker, at the station with
his carriage. We were friends at once, for he is a famous, frank,
goodlooking, John Bullish man of the world, who has travelled all over
Europe and retained his new world simplicity and heartiness. He drove
us all round the fashionable watering-place, the description of which
I must postpone or I never shall get through (as we say here). His
cottage, as he calls it, in accordance with the fashion here, is a
charming villa, on the most southern point of Newport, close to the
rocks on which the grand Atlantic roll was beating magnificently as we
drove up.

Saturday morning a lot of men came to breakfast, including Colonel
H------, the officer who had been the first to volunteer to take
command of negroes in Virginia, before the New England States even began
mustering them. I was delighted to make his acquaintance, as I knew his
name in my anti-slavery standard as a real, advanced Radical, and I was
anxious to realise that type of Yankee of which I had only seen Lloyd
Garrison in England. He was very fascinating to my mind, and the
most refined man in manners and look I have yet met, but I should
say decidedly a cracked fellow in the good sense. We adjourned to the
spouting rock, just at the point where the surf was beating gloriously,
and as I continued talking with H------, of course I got a ducking by
getting too near this rock, which is hollow underneath, so that it
sends a spout of water up like a huge whale some second or two after the
breaker hits it. The sight was superb, and well worth the payment of an
unstarched waistcoat and shirt. We got home, and I changed at 11.30
or thereabouts, and when I came in to dress for dinner there was my
waistcoat, washed and starched, on the bed. Mrs. Field had heard me
say in joke that I should be out of white waistcoats. We went to the
Episcopal Church on Sunday morning and had a good sermon of a quarter
of an hour, sitting in the pew of an acquaintance of the previous day,
a Mrs. H------ of New York, who drove us about in her handsome carriage,
and insisted on giving me two books--one being extracts from Lincoln’s
_Speeches and Letters_, which I am very glad to have. In the evening
we were sent down to the pier, where we were picked up by the most
magnificent steamer ever seen in the world, I should think, and by
six next morning were running along the north river, one of the many
entrances by sea to New York harbour. The approaches to the city are
superb, but the first view of it disappointed me, the buildings along
the water-side being for the most part poor and almost mean. We found
Hewitt’s carriage waiting, he being out of town for his Sunday, and
drove up through Broadway and Fourth Avenue to his house, which is a
splendid roomy one, belonging to his father-inlaw, Mr. Cooper. The dear
old gentleman, a hearty veteran of seventy-nine, is the founder of the
Cooper’s Institute, a working-man’s college on a large scale. He has
spent nearly a million dollars upon it, and it is certainly the
best institution of the kind I have ever seen. He is one of the most
guileless and sweetest of old men, and I shall have much to tell you of
him. Mr. Hewitt, my friend, who is in partnership with him, and his wife
and family live with the old gentleman. Here I found free admission to
the four best clubs in New York--the Union League, the Century, and
even the Manhattan, a democrat club of which Hewitt is a distinguished
member. The nice brisk woman in the house gave us an excellent
breakfast, and we started for the town about eleven. One of the
first places I went to was Roebuck’s store, where I found him very
flourishing. But I can’t go on to catalogue our doings or shan’t get
this off. As very few folk are in New York, we are off to-day to West
Point up the Hudson, where we stay for a military ball to-morrow night;
on Friday we get to Niagara, and then away west, certainly as far as
Omaha, to see prairies, etc., and possibly to San Francisco. We must
be back here or in New England on the 1st of October, on the 6th is
the Harvard Memorial ceremony, laying the first stone of their memorial
building, on the 11th I am in for an address, and after that shall set
my face homewards. I have looked at myself in the glass at your request
and believe I look fabulous.



Garrison’s Landing, opposite West Point, Friday, 9th September 1870.

I already look wistfully along the pages of my pocket-book which
intervene between this and the beginning of November, and feel very like
bolting home instead of going west. The only moments I have for writing
are early (it is now 6.30) or after I come up to bed, as the dear, good
folk provide occupation for all the rest of the time. Well, we got to
New York on Monday mornings by the East River, and left it on Wednesday
afternoon by the Hudson, having, I think, seen it superficially, so that
I should retain a clear idea of it if I never saw it again. We dined
on Monday at the Union League Club, Tuesday at the Manhattan, going in
afterwards to the Century--all three clubs as complete, I think, as ours
and open to strangers in every corner. We left New York on Wednesday
afternoon with Mr. O------, Chairman of the Illinois Central Railway,
who has this delicious place on the slope of the mountain opposite
West Point. As usual there were carriages at the pier, and all trouble,
expense, etc., has been taken off our hands. Mrs. O------ is the nicest
Yankee lady we have seen (except Mabel), like Mrs. Goschen in face and
charmingly appreciative. Her husband, staunch American, about fifty. The
more fanatic Americans they are the more they seem to like to do for me,
and as I spend the greater part of my time in showing them how mistaken
they must be in their views as to England, else how is it that we didn’t
interfere and get to war, I feel I am doing good work. They take to me,
I can see, apart from my proclivities.

I am obliged to give up poor old Pam, the mercantile community of
England, and the majority of the aristocracy; but when I have made a
Jonah of these, I always succeed in bringing these good, simple,
candid, impulsive fellows to admit that we did them no bad turn in their
troubles. We leave to-day for Niagara, and during the next fortnight I
hardly know how or when I can write.



Clifton Hotel, opposite Niagara Falls, 11th September 1870.

I am glad to find that I shall be able to get off this one more
letter to you by regular post before we plunge away west for nearly
a fortnight. I do so long for you every now and then when there is
something to see which you would specially appreciate, not only then as
you well know, but then specially, in the glorious reaches of the Hudson
near West Point, for instance, where you have all the beauty of the
Scotch Highlands, with a hundred well-kept rich men’s houses, and a
monster hotel or two crowning some high point,--an excellent substitute,
in my view, for the ruined keeps of robber barons on the Rhine,--and
endless steamers and sloops, with their white sails and great tows, as
they call them, of a dozen large flats lashed together and bringing down
lumber and corn from the west, passing up and down; but, above all,
last night, when we went under the light of a glorious full moon and saw
these mighty falls from above, and then went down some 200 steps, and
along under the overhanging cliffs, till we actually got under the end
of the horse-shoe fall on the Canadian side, and looked up and saw
the moon through the falling water. Just as we descended, an American
gentleman and his daughter and an English girl with them came up, to
whom we gave our seats, and when we came back they were still there, so
we told them what we had seen and offered to escort them down. They were
delighted, and “papa” did not object, so down we all went, and so we had
a second treat behind the cataract, and being with these ladies made
me horribly wishful to get you there. The girl (Philadelphian) was very
pretty and simple, so I handed her over to R------, and gave my arm to
the English one. To-day we went across the ferry amid a great turbulence
of waters, and looked up at the descending rivers, to the English Church
on the opposite side. An American bishop preached, and afterwards we
walked on Goat Island, above and between the two falls, and saw such
effects of rainbows, and lilac and green and purple and pure white
surges, as it is utterly impossible to describe, but I shall try to do
it by the help of photographs when I get back. Then we had a bath in the
rush just above the Falls; you have a little room through which a slice
some four feet wide of the water is allowed to rush; you get in at the
side, in the back water, and then take hold of a short rope fixed close
above the rush, and let the waters seize and tear at you, which it does
with a vengeance, tugging as if it would carry off your legs and pull
you in two in the middle. You can get out of it in a moment by just
slewing yourself round, and the sensation is marvellously delicious. I
forget whether you had one of the baths at Geneva, where the blue Rhone
rushes through at about a third of the pace. That is the only bath I
ever remember the least to be compared to this above Niagara. But let me
see, I hadn’t got farther with you than our chateau on the Hudson.
Well, we left it on Friday after breakfast at about nine o’clock, and
travelled away steadily with only twenty minutes’ stop at Albany, where
we dined, and a quarter of an hour at Rochester. The greater part of the
road was decidedly pretty, especially the earlier part which ran along
the banks of the Hudson. We stopped at Rome, Syracuse, and Utica amongst
other places, all busy, stirring places apparently, with their streets
all converging on and open to the line of rail. Every one has to look
out for themselves, and you get in and out of the trains at your own
peril. I have heard of very few accidents, and I don’t believe there are
as many as with us; but I should think a good many people must often
be left behind, as the train starts without any signal, leaving you to
climb in as you can, an easy enough feat for an active man, but scarcely
for any one else. This journey was our first really long one; we did
not get to Suspension Bridge, where we slept, till past midnight, but I
didn’t find it very tiring. There was a drawing-room car on, but I would
not go in it. The other cars are quite comfortable enough, and I like
seeing and being with the people, though they continue to be the most
silent and reserved of any race I have ever been amongst. Next day
(Saturday) just glanced at the Falls; we ran round the west of Lake
Ontario, by Hamilton, to Toronto, the capital of the province, and were
exceedingly struck and pleased with the signs of vigour and prosperity
both in the country and cities. The farming is certainly cleaner and
better than on the American side of the lake, and the towns don’t lose
by comparison with those of the same size over the border. At Toronto
I found Dymond, one of my best Lambeth supporters, in the Globe Office,
and we called on one of our _Peruvian_ acquaintances, who regaled us
with champagne in his huge store; we went over the law courts and
other public buildings, dined, and then on to the boat to cross back to
Niagara. It is about two hours’ sail and very pleasant. There were quite
a number of young and pretty girls on board going across for the trip,
as you might drive out in a carriage to any suburb. It seems the regular
afternoon amusement and lounge, and the heads of families take season
tickets which pass all their belongings. There were three Canadian
M.P.’s also on board, with whom I got a good deal of useful and pleasant
chat; one of them (M.P. for Niagara) induced me to “drink” twice in
ginger-ale and brandy, and again in champagne, which was the first
instance of that pressingly convivial habit supposed to be universal
on this side that I have seen. I am uncommonly glad it doesn’t really
prevail, as nothing I detest more than this irregular kind of drinking.
The pick-me-up is decidedly one of the most loathsome inventions of
a decrepit civilisation. We got to our hotel here, right opposite
the Falls, by about six, saw them first before tea and afterwards by
moonlight, as I have already narrated. In an hour’s time we start for
Chicago. Our late host, Mr. O------, the President of the Illinois
Central Kail, one of the greatest of the Western’s system of railways,
has followed us here, and is going round a tour of inspection of his
line, and to open 150 miles of new way for traffic. So we shall go round
in an express train with him, seeing everything in the most luxurious
and easiest manner--a wonderful piece of luck. It was his nice wife who
persuaded him to come off and do it now at once while he could have us
with him. I am sitting at my open window, outside of which is a broad
verandah with a magnificent view of the Falls. I am getting what I take
to be my last look at them, and for the last time the sound of many
waters, the finest to be heard in the world, I suppose, is in my ears.
The mid-Atlantic when the waves were highest struck me more, but nothing
else I have ever seen in Switzerland or elsewhere comes near this. It is
the first great hotel we have been in, and not a bad specimen I imagine.
We get heaps of meals, and though the cooking is not all one could wish,
there is nothing to hinder your living very well. We are waited on by
some fifteen or twenty real darkies--good, grinning, curly-pated
Sambos and Pompeys--so, of course, I am happy so far as service goes.
Seriously, though, they are much more obliging and quite as intelligent
as their white compeers here and in the States.



Storm Lake, 13th. September 1870.

One line from this odd little station, right in the middle of the Iowa
prairies, which slope away right out of sight in every direction. It is
the highest point between Fort Dodge and Sioux City. Fifteen months ago
there were not three settlers’ cabins on the whole 140 miles; now
they are dotted along every mile or so, sometimes turf huts, sometimes
wooden, with generally a group of barefooted, healthy children tumbling
about the doors. We are sitting in the little wooden post-office here,
on the walls of which hang maps of the splendid town which is to be
run up in the next three or four years, and notices of a meeting of the
citizens of Storm Lake to hear the addresses of Captain Jackson Orr,
the Republican candidate for Congress of the district, and of Governor
G------, who comes to support him. The whole place at present consists
of some ten or twelve wooden huts, with two more ambitious buildings
running up, one an hotel and the other a big store. The settlers are a
fine rough set of fellows, but full of intelligence, and determined
to make their place the most important city in the State. It is a most
exquisite climate, with a lake four miles by two, in which there are
plenty of pickerel, and as we came along in our express train we have
put up lots of coveys of prairie hens, like big tame grouse, most
delicious eating too. _Express train_, you will look at with wondering
eyes. Well, or rather wâàl, as they pronounce it here, that is the
explanation of the whole _city_, and accounts for all that is going to
happen on this glorious prairie. A line of rail has been _built_ right
across it by some enterprising folk in New York, who want now to lease
it to the Illinois Central Railway, with which it makes connections at
Fort Dodge. We left Chicago yesterday morning, got to Dubuque on the
Mississippi by night, travelled all through the night to Fort Dodge,
and are on here now fifty-three miles farther inspecting. It is regal
travelling. We have two carriages,--one a charming sleeping-car, in
which I have a beautiful little state-room, another carriage for dining,
etc., equally commodious, all our stores on board, so that we live
splendidly, two negro boys to wait on us. O------, the present
president, and the vice-president of the line, are our only
fellow-passengers, each of whom is as well lodged as I am. We go along
as we please, sometimes at forty, sometimes at ten miles an hour,
talking to the people at each little log-house station, and enjoying
the confines of civilisation in the most perfect luxury. While they are
talking about the price of land round here I have just this ten minutes,
and find I can fire off this note with some chance that it may get off
by the New York boat of Saturday, so that I shan’t lose a post or you a
letter.



Fort Dodge, 13th September 1870.

Here we are! September 15, 2 p.m. You will see, if you have got my last
from Sioux City, that the above heading is somewhat wild. The fact is,
that just as I had written the three first words (in fact, while I was
writing them, which accounts for their jerky look), our little train
moved on from Fort Dodge and I couldn’t write, even on our superb
springs. Now we are at Council Bluffs, opposite Omaha. Why, hang it!
here we go again moving on, and I must stop again.

3 p.m.--We only ran three miles and then stopped to lunch and let a
Union-Pacific train pass. Now after a famous lunch in our second or
commissariat car, I am getting a smoke and a few more lines to you
before we are off eastward again. Thank Heaven! after all the wonderful
new sights and sensations of the last three and a half days since we
left Niagara, I confess to the utmost delight at feeling that we have
made our farthest point, and that I am already some three miles plus the
breadth of the Missouri River and Omaha City on my way back to you. It
is still more than a month before we embark for home (if I can hold out
as long); still, we are on our way! However, you must not think that
I am not enjoying myself wonderfully. I am, and am also, I hope, good
company, for when one is treated like the Grand Turk or the Emperor of
Russia, the least one can do is to be pleasant. But if I go on with my
sensations, I shall never pick up my narrative; as it is, I shall be
obliged to leave thousands of things till we meet, when I do hope I
shan’t have forgotten anything. Well, didn’t I leave off at Niagara?
We left the hotel in front of the Falls there on Monday morning after
breakfast with O----, who had no power except for himself till we got
to Chicago; we had been furnished with free passes, and rode in the
ordinary cars through Ontario province to Windsor, opposite Detroit.
In Canada, again, the difference was at once visible between the two
peoples; but I am not at all prepared to admit that the Canadians have
the worst of it, certainly not in the roadside cookery, for we had the
best joint of beef we have seen since we left home at dinner, and the
best bread and butter at tea. At Windsor the train ran quietly on to the
huge ferry-boat-steamer, and we had a moonlight passage to the railway
station at Detroit. Here we secured berths in the Pullman sleeping car,
for which you pay rather more than you would for a bed at a first-class
hotel. However, they are an admirable institution, and enable one to get
through really wonderful travelling feats. We were at Chicago early
next morning, and transferred ourselves directly into our small express
train, getting glimpses of the city of forty years, which within living
men’s memory was a small Indian station.

It is enormous, spreading over certainly three times the space which an
English city of 250,000 inhabitants would occupy. We shall see the town
on our return; meantime, as we ran out of the suburbs, we saw a house of
considerable size waiting at the crossing for our train to pass before
it went over, as coolly as a farmer’s waggon of hay would wait in
England. O------told us that all the old houses in Chicago are moved in
this way. As building is very expensive, when one of the big folk wants
to put up some splendid new structure--bank, store, or the like--there
are always men ready to buy the old house as it stands. They then just
cut away its foundation, put it on rollers, and tote it away to the
site they have bought in the suburbs. We fell upon breakfast in a
half-famished state as we steamed away westward, and through the whole
day were kept on the stretch. Not that there was any great beauty in the
scenery, but the interest of getting actually into half-settled country
was exceedingly absorbing. The most notable town we passed was Galena,
in Northern Illinois, from which Grant went to the war, leaving his
leather yard for that purpose. The citizens of Galena have bought and
presented him a good square house of red brick on the top of the hill
there. Then we ran along a tributary of the Mississippi, and about 4.30
came out on the father of waters; where we struck the mighty stream it
was not impressive. We came upon a mighty swamp, not a river, miles and
miles of trees, some of them fine large ones, standing in the water and
covered with creepers. The river was luckily high, so that we had this
effect of a forest rising out of water to perfection. Then there were
miles of swamp, half water, half land, dreary and horrible to look at,
sometimes sound enough for cattle to pick about, and then only fit for
alligators and wild-fowl; of the latter we saw a number, including a
white heron. At last we came upon the river, some three-quarters of a
mile wide-up there, 1600 miles from the sea, and crossed by a gossamer
bridge, a real work of high art. On the opposite side we stopped for
tea-dinner at Dubuque, one of the largest towns in Iowa, and the first
border city we had seen,--very quaint to behold, with streets laid out
as broad as Regent Street, here and there a huge block of stores full of
dry goods or groceries, and then a lot of wooden hovels, a vacant plot
perhaps, and then a big hotel, or another great store,--the streets all
as soft as Rotten Row, and much deeper in dirt, side pavements of wood,
every house placarded in huge letters with the name and business of the
owner. Here, for the first time, we saw emigrants’ waggons packed with
their household goods and lumber (sawed planks) for their houses, bound
for the prairies beyond, on which they settle under the homestead
acts. In short, the pushing slipshod character of the great West was
thoroughly mirrored in the place, and above all the other buildings was
a fine common school open to every child in the place. This is the one
universal characteristic of these towns and villages; almost the first
thing they do is to build a famous big school. The member of Congress
for the place and one or two other notables came down to see us after
tea, and smoked a cigar with us in our saloon car before we started.
The talk was, of course, on the wonders of the West, and the chances of
Dubuque to be a big city in a year or two. Then we turned in and ran
all night to Fort Dodge, from which the first line of this letter was
written, a village with the same characteristics as the towns, except
that the only building not of wood was the station, which, strange to
say, was built of gypsum, found in great quantities here, and the only
sort of stone they have. The president of the line--a shrewd, honest,
Western man named Douglas, one of our party--guessed that in another
five years they would have to pull the station down and manure the land
with it. From this place we ran right up into the wild prairies, and at
the highest point between the Mississippi and Missouri, at Storm Lake,
I wrote you the hasty note which, I hope, you have received from those
unknown parts. It is about the largest settlement in the 180 miles,
consisting of perhaps twelve or fourteen wooden houses, one of which
was a billiard saloon kept by an old Cornish man. He said that quite
a number of Cornish miners are over in this district, some at lead and
coal mines of a very primitive kind, others farming. On the whole, the
people seemed a good, steady, independent lot, and the children looked
wonderfully healthy, running about barefooted on the shore of the little
lake or amongst the prairie grass. We made acquaintance with prairie
chicken and the little earth squirrel, a jolly little dog, with a
prettily marked back, who frisks into his hole instead of up a tree like
ours. Then we dropped down, still through wild prairie, over which the
single line of rail runs with no protection at all, till we came to
Sioux City on the Missouri, and the biggest town on the river for 2000
miles from its source. There are 12,000 inhabitants, and precisely the
same features as at Dubuque, except that it is a far more rowdy place,
being still almost under the dominion of Judge Lynch. Only the day
before we arrived, a border ruffian had been swaggering about the town,
pistol in hand, and defying arrest. However, they did take him at last,
and he was safe in prison. A fortnight earlier a rascal, who confessed
to nine murders, had been taken and hung on the other side of the
river. There are sixty-three saloons, at most of which gambling goes
on regularly every night. The editor of the _Sioux Tribune_, an Irish
Yankee of queer morals and extraordinary “go,” took us into one, stood
drinks round, and expounded the ingenious games by which the settlers
and officers of the Indian fort up the stream are cleared of their
money. A rowdy, loafing, vagabond city, but there they have three or
four fine schools (one had just cost 45,000 dollars), for which they
tax the saloons mercilessly. I have no doubt the place will be quite
respectable in another five years. We slept quietly and dropped down
south along the Missouri to Council Bluffs, from which the earlier part
of this was written. The Missouri is a doleful stream, shallow, with
huge sandbanks in the middle, and great swamps at the side, but striking
green bluffs rising above on the east bank under which we went; and
behind them I saw the sun rise in great beauty. We just crossed the
river to Omaha to say we had been in Missouri and seen the terminus
of the Union-Pacific Railway, and a fine go-ahead place it is, like
Dubuque, only twice as big and finely situate on hills above the
Missouri River. We are now back at Chicago, having seen more frontier
towns and prairies on our way here, and in five days, by the good
fortune of this private train, have done more than we could have managed
otherwise in nine.



Chicago, September 1870.

I am so afraid that I shan’t get off a letter regularly twice a week
from this run in the West, that I begin this in a spare three minutes
between packing and a testimonial which is to be given me here by a
lot of young graduates of the American Universities at the Club at four
o’clock. This place is the wonder of the wonderful West, as you know
already. A gentleman I met to-day tells me he came up to this place in
1830, when it consisted of a fort with two companies, a dozen little
wooden huts, and an encampment of 3000 or 4000 Indians who had come in
to get their allowances under treaty with the United States. Now it is
one of the handsomest cities I ever saw, with 300,000 inhabitants, and
progressing at the rate of 1500 a week or thereabouts. We have had our
first experience of a first-rate American hotel, the Fremont House here.
It is decidedly not cheap. At present rates about fifteen shillings
or four dollars a day; but you can eat and drink anything but wine and
spirits all day, with the exception of one hour in the afternoon between
lunch and dinner. I ordered a peach just now for lunch, and they brought
me a whole plateful, not so good as our hot-house ones, but very fine
fruit. Yesterday I went twice to hear Robert Collyer, a famous
Unitarian minister here. He was born in Yorkshire, where he worked as
a blacksmith, preaching as a Methodist, and finally, twenty years ago,
came out to the West and established himself here. He has great and
deserved influence, and is altogether the finest man of the kind I have
ever met. His text was out of Job: “Dost thou know the springs of the
deep?” I forget the exact words, but you will find them in the splendid
38th chapter, where God is showing Job who is master (as the cabman put
it). He had been for his holiday at the sea, and was full of thoughts
which, as he said, he wanted to get off to his people. He began by a
quotation from Ruskin as to the fantastic power and beauty of the sea,
said that no trace of love for the sea could be found in the Bible, only
fear of it. In the New Jerusalem, St. John dreamed “there shall be no
more sea.” Same with all great poets, even English, illustrated by Burns
and Shakespere, and Dr. Johnson’s saying, “That a ship was a prison with
a chance of being drowned.” Even sailors don’t really look on sea as
home, and fear it, and weave mystical notions of all kinds round it. Yet
the sea has its sweet and gentle side too; it nourishes every plant and
flower that grows by its exhalations, and keeps the rivers sweet and
running; and look at one of the exquisite little shells which you may
find after the fiercest storm, or the bit of sea-weed lying on the
shore, or the limpet on the rock. The lashing of the storm has done them
no harm, and there they lie as perfect as if it had never been raging.
about them. So the great stormy sea of life has its gentle and loving
side for every one of us so long as we trust in God and just obey His
laws and do His will. I have given you the very barest outline of a very
striking sermon. In the evening I went to tea with him, and there was
a large bunch of grapes on my plate with the enclosed little paper, “To
Mr. Hughes from the children,” which touched me much. The children are
very nice. Robert Lincoln, Abe’s son, and a lot of his friends are our
entertainers to-day, and in the evening we go by the night train to St.
Louis. I laid aside the other sheet to go off to this club dinner with
the young Chicago men, and I have never had a more hearty greeting or
kinder words and looks than amongst these youngsters, all graduates of
some university, most of them officers in the late war, who are settled
down in the great money-making town, and are living brave and sterling
and earnest lives there. I really can’t tell you the sort of things they
said (they drank your health, and the proposer made one of the
prettiest little speeches in proposing it I ever heard); in short, I was
positively ashamed, and scarcely knew how to meet it all or what to say
to them; but it was less embarrassing than it would have been with any
other young men, for this kind of young American (like Holmes) is so
transparently sincere that you can come out quite square with him before
you have known him an hour. Our good friends of the Illinois Central
gave us free passage to St. Louis, to which we travelled all night.
It is the biggest town in Missouri, was a great slave-holding place in
1860, and very “secesh” during the war. A fine city it is too, with
its grand quay lined with huge steamers, and its miles of fine streets.
Rowdy though, still, full of low saloons and gambling-houses. The most
drunken town in the United States, the gentleman who met us, and drove
us about and got us free papers here to Cincinnati, told us. The most
characteristic thing that happened to me was that I was shaved by a
negro (and better shaved than I ever was in my life before). He had been
body servant to his master, a rich Southern planter, through the first
three years of the war. His master was at last shot and he managed to
get taken, and so “I’se no slave now,” as he said, with all his ivories
shining. His education has not been much improved, however, for he
thought England was at war, as being somehow part either of France or
Germany, he couldn’t just say which, and would scarcely believe me
when I declared that we were separated by the sea from both. Then we
travelled all night again (I sleep splendidly in these palace cars, so
don’t be alarmed), and got here to the queen city of Ohio this morning,
after the most glorious sunrise I ever saw. This also is a very fine
city on the Ohio, with fine hills all round and a magnificent suspension
bridge. The most characteristic sight I have seen here, however, was
two small boys trotting along together barefooted, with a piece of
sugar-cane between them, each sucking one end. I had a note to Force,
one of Sherman’s generals, now a judge here, who kindly sent us round in
a carriage, but was too busy to come with us. To-night we make another
long run to Philadelphia. We should have gone to Washington and so
worked north, but Philadelphia is the next place where I shall get
letters, and I can’t do any longer without hearing from you, so that’s
all about it. I have lots of friends in Philadelphia, so shall probably
make two days’ stay there.



Continental Hotel, Philadelphia, 23rd September 1870.

Where was I in my narrative? I guess (I am getting a thorough Yankee
in my vernacular) I gave you a short account of the queen city, as they
call Cincinnati. We left Cincinnati at ten o’clock on Wednesday night
and came right away for 600 miles to Philadelphia.

The most interesting part of the road was the crossing the Alleghanies,
up which we wound through vast forest tracks for some thirty miles, and
down the eastern slopes in the sunset, getting daylight for all the most
beautiful parts. As we were rushing up one of the finest gorges, some
200 yards wide, we were suddenly aware of a huge eagle (bigger than
those we saw on the Danube as we steamed through the Iron Cates) sailing
up on the opposite side, perhaps 100 yards from the train. We were going
eighty miles an hour at the least, and the grand old fellow swept along
without the least apparent effort, keeping abreast of our car for I
should think a couple of miles, when he suddenly turned and settled on a
fine pine-tree.

After breakfast we had a real field-day in this splendid city, which
rivals Boston in interest and character. Outside it is built of red
brick and white marble, the contrast of which materials is to me
singularly taking, though I daresay it is very bad art.

Then the chief streets run away long and straight, and as you look down
them all seem to dive into groups of trees. Walnut Street, Chestnut
Street, and Spruce Street are the names of the oldest and handsomest
avenues. Our friend Field, the banker, was all ready for us, and a dozen
new friends, including General Meade, the first Federal general who
won the battle in the East, and a charming, tall, handsome,
grizzled, gentlemanly soldier. We went over the old State House, a
pre-revolutionary building, from the top of which there is a splendid
view of the town, with the two rivers, the Delaware and Schuylkill,
on which it stands. There is the hall in which the Declaration of
Independence was signed, and the chair in which Hancock sat, and the
table on which it lay for signature. The square is charming, with its
old trees and turf, just as it has always stood, and I am happy to say
the Pennsylvanians are very proud «of the old place, won’t allow it to
be touched, and are likely to keep it there till it burns, as I suppose
the State House, with all the old-fashioned timbers in wall and roof,
will some day. Then we went to the great Normal School for girls here,
five hundred strong, the daughters of all sorts of folk, from physicians
and lawyers to labourers. I was exceedingly interested and instructed
in many classes, especially in the history class. The handsome,
self-possessed young woman who was teaching was just beginning the
Revolutionary War as we came in, and “felt like” changing the subject
as she said, but I begged her to go on, and heard the old story from
Lexington down to Cornwallis’s surrender without turning a hair. After
classes, at two, the whole school was gathered for Scripture reading
and singing a hymn. After the hymn, in compliment to us, they began “God
save the Queen”; Rawlins and I got up by a sort of instinct, and to my
immense amusement up got the whole company. Then I was asked to say
a few words; and talked about the grand education they were getting,
referred to the history class and told them no Englishman worth the name
now regretted the end of the struggle one hundred years old, but only
that any of the bitterness should still be left; spoke of the grand
country which has been entrusted to them to be filled with the poor of
the whole world, told them that we had a woman’s rights movement at
home as well as they, which I hoped would not fall into any great
absurdities, but there were two rights they would always insist on--the
right of every girl in the States to such an education as they were
getting, and their own right (they are all being educated as teachers)
to go and give this education to those who want it most in West and
South. Then the girls all filed out to march music, played by a senior
girl, winding in and out of the rows of benches on which they had sat,
and so away downstairs and to all parts of the town, the prettiest sight
you can imagine. The girls are at the most awkward age, and, of course,
many of them plain, but altogether as comely as the same sort would be
with us, and not a sign of poverty amongst them, though many were quite
plainly dressed. My democratic soul rejoiced at the sight as you may
fancy. What a chance for straining the nonsense out of a girl if she has
any! We adjourned from the great training-school for girls to the
Girard College for orphan boys, founded by a queer old French Voltairian
citizen of Philadelphia, who died some forty years ago and left property
worth half a million of our money to found this college, with the
express _proviso_ that no parson of any denomination was ever to
be admitted within the walls. I am happy to say, however, that,
notwithstanding this provision, which is observed to the letter, the
Bible is read and every day’s instruction is begun and ended by a
religious service. This, by the way, is the case almost everywhere in
the States. Notwithstanding all the assertions to the contrary, I have
found only one place in which the education is purely secular. This was
Cincinnati, where the result is obtained by a combination of the Roman
Catholics with the German town population. Well, this college, as it is
called, is simply a vast boys’ home, just like our own, except that
the boys live in a most superb white marble building, copied from the
Parthenon. The classes were being taught, and kept in right good order
by women, who indeed almost monopolise teaching in this State, and
they are in the proportion of more than ten to one. The fault of Girard
College is that it is not wanted; the public school system which has
grown up since its foundation being open to every one, and offering at
least as good an education. If its funds could have been used to support
the boys while at the public schools it would have been better. The
whole arrangements are decidedly more luxurious than those at Rugby in
my time, and they have not yet established workshops. After our round
of institutions we were entertained at the Union League Club. The dinner
was good and the company better, Mr. MacMichael, the mayor, who had
been the chief mover in establishing the club in the dark days of 1861,
presided, with General Meade, who commanded at Gettysburg on his left
and me on his right. Dear old Field, the most furious and impulsive
of Republicans, and the most ardent lover and abuser of England and
Englishmen, vice-president, and the rest of the company, staff-officers
in the war or marked men in some other way. The club had sent eleven
regiments to the war at its own expense, and had exercised immense
influence on the Union at the most critical time. At last I was fairly
cornered; I had often before had to defend our position in sharp
skirmishes, but now, for the first time, was in for a general
engagement. Well, I just threw away all defensive arms, and attacked
them at once. “You say we were led by our aristocracy, who were savagely
hostile to you; I admit they were hostile, though with many notable
exceptions, such as the Duke of Argyll, Lord Carlisle, Howards and
Cavendishes; but what did you expect? I have taken in three or four
American papers for years, and in your debates in Congress, in your
newspapers, in every utterance of your public men, I have never heard or
read anything but savage abuse of our aristocracy. They don’t reply to
your insults, but they don’t forget them, so when you got into such hard
lines they went in heartily for your enemies. Well, you say the
South were England’s real enemies for the last forty years. True, but
aristocracy did not care for that, democracy was represented by you, and
that was what they went against.” There was an outcry: “Why, here’s a
pretty business, we thought you were a Democrat.”

“So I am, in our English sense, but I am before all things an
Englishman. I have nothing to do with our aristocracy (except knowing a
few of them), and I fought as hard against them in England through the
war as you did against the rebels; but I am not going to allow you to
separate them from the nation, or to suppose that they can be punished
except through the nation.”

“Well, but what do you say for all your great commercial world--bankers,
merchants, manufacturers, our correspondents, look how they turned on
us!”

“It’s no part of my business to defend them; they were mean, I allow,
but their business was, as they supposed, and as all of you agree,
to make money; besides, after all, who fought your battle better
than Cobden, Bright, Forster, and such men as Kirkman-Hodson, and Tom
Baring?” Then they fell back on the general position that our Government
was hostile to them, and I went through what had really happened
in Parliament, and made them admit that if we had listened to Louis
Napoleon, and the blockade had been broken, it would have been a narrow
squeak for the Union. On the whole, I think, I made a good deal of
impression on most of them. General Meade and the soldiers were on my
side throughout, and admitted at once that, after all the abuse their
press heaped on our governing classes, it was childish to cry out when
they proved that they knew of the abuse and didn’t love the abusers. We
all parted the warmest friends, and I went off to tea at Mrs. W------s’,
where we met Dr. Mitchell, a scientific man, and his sister, and other
very pleasant folk, and heard many interesting stories of the war. The
next morning we started for Gettysburg. I had always made a point with
myself of seeing this one at any rate of the great battlefields. It was
the real turning-point of the war, fought on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of
July 1863, after the series of defeats and failures under M’Clellan,
Pope Hooker, Burnside. I well remember what a long breath we (the
Abolitionists) drew in England when the news came of Lee’s defeat at
the farthest point he had ever made to the North, and felt sure, for the
first time, that the war would be put through, and slavery be abolished
right down to the Gulf of Mexico. We had the best escort possible in
the person of Rosengarten, who was aide-decamp to General Reynolds,
commander of the corps which came up first and sustained the whole
weight of battle on the first day. Field also “came along,” and we had
a first-rate time on our journey over the Susquehanna bridge, which the
Northern militia burnt behind them as they escaped from Lee’s advance.
Then we stopped for an hour or two, waiting for a train at York, a nice
shady quiet country town of 11,000 inhabitants. The rebels had occupied
the place for three days and levied a matter of 80,000 dollars on the
people; in all other respects they seem to have behaved excellently and
to have been well under command. The old Episcopalian clergyman, a warm
friend of England, who had been Rosengarten’s tutor, and to whom we paid
a visit, gave us a capital description of the three days’ occupation,
and of the relief the York folk experienced when the poor ragged rebels
marched off for Gettysburg, and left the town very little poorer than
they had found it. We didn’t get to our inn, a huge wooden building on
the first day’s battlefield, till after sunset. Tea over, we came out
on the wooden platform which runs all round the house, and saw the most
glorious sight I have ever seen, I think, in the skies. Steaming up
Memphremagog we saw the aurora borealis splendidly, but that was nothing
to this. In Canada there was no colour in the pure flashes of light
which lit and pulsed over the whole sky, but on Saturday the changes of
colour were splendid, and I should say for half an hour the heavens were
throbbing with the most lovely rose-coloured streamers and sheets and
flashes. With my view of the importance to the poor old world of
the struggle which was descending there, you can fancy that such an
introduction to it was welcome and impressive. Next day we devoted to
the battlefield: began at the beginning where, on Thursday the 1st July
1863, Rosengarten himself, as Reynolds’s aide-decamp, had ridden forward
and placed the first Federal regiments which came on the ground in
position between the town of Gettysburg, which contains about 3000
inhabitants and lies in a hollow, and the advancing rebels. Gettysburg
is at the junction of three roads and was a point which both armies were
bent on seizing. The fight on this the north-east side of the town began
early on Thursday. Rosengarten, after carrying out his orders, rode
back, and was just in time to see his General fall from his horse, shot
through the neck by a sharpshooter, and helped to carry him off the
field. After many hours’ hard fighting the Federals were driven back
through the town with heavy loss. Our friend, General Barlow, who
commanded a brigade, was also badly wounded. Luckily, during the day
two more corps of the army of the Potomac had come up and been placed in
position on a hill just to the south of the town, on part of which
the cemetery now stands, which was made immortal by Lincoln’s glorious
speech at the inauguration. Behind these fresh troops the broken 1st and
11th corps rallied and prepared for the next day. Reinforcements came up
to Lee also, and in the town the shopkeepers and other inhabitants
heard them making certain of an easy victory in the morning. Meade is
evidently a man who gains and holds the confidence of his troops; but
as he was slightly outnumbered, and the rebels had the prestige of the
first day’s victory, I take it he must have been beaten but for the
splendid position he had selected. His troops lay along two lines of
hills, covered in many places with wood which sloped away from the point
overlooking the town, leaving a space between them secure from fire, in
which he could move his troops without being seen, while every move of
Lee’s was open to him. The Confederates began attacks early and kept
them up throughout the day, but could not force the position except at
one point, where, after dark, they succeeded in making a lodgment and
spent the night within Meade’s lines. In the morning they were driven
out after a desperate struggle, and later in the day Lee made a
determined attempt with Longstreet’s corps to break the line again. He
lost three generals and about 4000 men in the great effort, and when
it failed, and he had to fall back to his own lines, the back of the
Rebellion was broken and the doom of slavery sealed for ever in North
America. At night he went away south, leaving most of his wounded, but
Meade was too much exhausted to do more than follow slowly. I am writing
in hot haste to catch the post, so can give you no clear idea, I fear,
of the great day. The hotel was a nice, clean, reasonable place, with
a landlord and servants really civil, and we enjoyed our excursion more
than I can tell you.

Next day we came on to Baltimore, drove as usual in the beautiful park
and about the town in a carriage sent for us by some patriotic citizen,
dined at the Union Club, to which they gave us the _entrée_, and came on
to Washington.



Washington, Friday.

You ask whether I read our papers and the news from Europe. No, except
just so far as to keep abreast of the bare facts. You know how I hate
details of battlefields, and that I have never got over my intense
dislike to the glowing and semi-scientific descriptions of “our own
correspondents,” sitting down in the midst of dying and agonised men to
do their penny or guinea a line. The dry report of a general or staff
officer, whose sad duty it is to be there, I follow with the deepest
interest, and recognise a battlefield as one of the very noblest places
from which a true man may make a “bee-line track” to heaven. The noblest
death in our times was Robert Shaw’s at the attack on Fort Wagner, at
the head of his niggers, under whom he was buried; but, for all that,
war and its details are a ghastly and horrible evil, which the faith of
our Master is going yet to root out of this silly old world, and which
none of His servants should touch unless it is the clear path of supreme
duty.

I pity the poor French, utterly unmanned as they seem to be by this
nineteen years of the rule of Mammon, and heartily wish they could find
their manhood again, though I see no glimmer of it yet. Trochu seems a
fine fellow, and I can’t help believing that many of my acquaintance and
the members of the Paris associations, will be found ready to die like
men on the walls of the city if they get a chance. By the way, where is
N------? I wonder if he has gone back? If so, there is another brave and
true man in Paris, and perhaps ten may save it. But I must be getting
back to my journal or I shall be dropping stitches. If I don’t forget,
my last brought you with us to Willard’s Hotel, Washington, a great
three-hundred-roomed hotel, mixed, if not of Southern proclivities
during the war, before the door of which more than one duel was fought
in those searching times. At breakfast we found ourselves next the
Wards, father and son, G. B------‘s friends, to whom I had given some
letters. I found they had been even farther west than we; in fact, up to
Denver City, in the bosom of the Rocky Mountains, and had also managed
to get into four or five Southern states; but they had done it at the
sacrifice not only of comfort but of the chance of seeing the home-life
of the Americans, and I value the latter infinitely higher than mere
sight-seeing, so do not regret the least that we didn’t get through the
extra 1500 miles, which at the cost of five days’ more travel would have
let us see the Rocky Mountains and shoot at buffaloes.

We went after breakfast to leave some of my letters, and over the White
House, a fine residence of white marble splendidly situated some one
and a half miles from the Capitol, with which it is connected by
Pennsylvania avenue, wider than Portland Place. I shall keep the details
till we meet; the house is as big as the Mansion House I should say,
and not very unlike it. Luckily, soon after we got outside we were
recognised (at least I was) in the street by Blackie, who was over in
England with the Harvard crew. He is in the attorney-general’s office,
and consequently has the run of all the public apartments, and he took
us in hand and lionised us splendidly. The Capitol Patent Office and
Treasury I shall bring you photographs of, and describe at leisure in
our winter evenings. The view from the top, over the city and Maryland
to the north, and across the Potomac over Virginia to the south, is as
fine as any I ever saw, General Lee’s house at Arlington Heights, now
a national cemetery, being the most conspicuous point in the southern
view. The thing that struck one most was the staff of women, mostly
young and many pretty, serving in the Treasury. They say there are
upwards of two thousand, and that for counting, sorting, and repairing
the paper currency, they are far superior to men. They earn one thousand
dollars (or £200) a year on an average. Fancy the boon to the orphan
girls of soldiers and sailors. One of the first we saw was the daughter
of a very distinguished Colonel of Marines, who had left her quite
destitute, as ladylike, pretty-looking a girl as you ever saw, and she
was running over bundles of dollar notes with her fingers as fast as if
she were playing the overture to _Semiramide_ with you on the piano.
It nearly took my breath away, and yet I was assured she never made an
error in counting. I wish we could get off a lot of our poor girls in
some such way in Somerset House, and send a lot of our Government clerks
to till the ground or hammer or do some hard, productive work.

Perhaps, however, the pleasantest part of the day was the end, when he
took us off on the street-cars down to the Potomac, where we found
a boating club, with their boat-house, etc., just like an Oxford or
Cambridge College. There were eight or ten of them down there who
received us with open arms, and in a few minutes manned a heavy
eight-oared boat with room enough for me and R------ to sit in the
stern, and away we went up under the long bridge, over which the armies
used to cross in the war time, and saw a glorious sunset on the river,
with the stars and stripes floating proudly over our stern. I enjoyed
the row vastly and liked the men, who are just training for a race with
the Potomac club. Boating flourishes all over the states I have been in,
and they have learnt a lesson from their defeat two years ago and pull
now in just as good style as our boys. Oxford and Cambridge must mind
their hits, for they will have a tough job of it the next time they have
to meet a crew from this side.

Next morning I called on our minister after breakfast, having heard by
chance that he was in town. I am very glad I did, as I had the pleasure
of hearing him praise C------, his ability, willingness, and capacity
for work, in a strain which would have rejoiced the heart of poor, dear
R. F------ and of the F------ family. He seems to think C------ will
come back here, and desires it most earnestly. I got from him Lord
Clarendon’s last despatch on the Alabama claims, which will be most
useful to me in my stump in the Boston Music Hall on the 11th. It is
the room and the course in which Wendell Phillips, Emerson, and all the
orators and philosophers figure. I have taken for my subject, “John to
Jonathan,” suggested by Lowell’s famous “Jonathan to John.” They won’t
get any eloquence or oratory out of me, as you know; but I am sure I can
say some things in a plain, straightforward way which will do good and
help to heal wounded pride and other sorely irritating places in the
over-sensitive, but simple and gallant Yankee mind. They have treated me
so like a spoilt child from Boston to Omaha and back, that I know they
will let me say anything and will listen to it affectionately. I really
love them too well to say anything that will really hurt them, and when
they see that this kind of feeling and appreciation is genuine, the more
thorough John Bull you are the better they like it; that is, all the
best of them, who rule the nation in the long run though not directly.
When I got back from our embassy, it was just time to be starting
for the train to Philadelphia, and lo! there were a dozen folk, from
secretaries of state downwards, waiting to offer lodgings, dinners,
excursions, lecturings, every sort of kindness in creation. It was hard
work to get off, but I managed somehow to make tracks, suppressing, I
fear, the fact that I was not likely to get to Washington again. The
journey to Philadelphia is very interesting along the coast, though
seldom within sight of the sea, but crossing huge inlets and rivers
(the abode of canvas-backs) on spider bridges. We didn’t change cars at
Baltimore, but were dropped by our engine in the outskirts of the town.
Six fine horses in a string were then hitched on to each long car, and
away we went through the crowded streets along the tramway rails, our
driver, or rather, conductor, for he had no reins, blowing his horn
loudly to warn all good people, and shouting to the train of horses
who trotted along by instinct between the rails. How we missed fifty
collisions I can’t conceive; at last we had one--crash into a confusion
of carts and drays, driven by shouting negroes who had got them all into
a hopeless jam as we bore down on them. Bang we went into the nearest; I
saw the comical, scared look of the grisly old Sambo who was driving, as
he was shot from his seat, but no harm was done except knocking off our
own step, and as we shot past I saw his face light up into a broad grin
as he sat on the bottom of his cart. We had cleared him right away from
his dead-lock with two other vehicles, and he went on his way delighted.
At Philadelphia we found our kindest of hosts, Field, waiting supper for
us in his delightful house, where he is living for a few days’ business
as a bachelor. Quiet evening, with talk till eleven o’clock on all
manner of places, people, and things, mostly English. Lippincott, the
great American publisher, and Rosengarten to breakfast, then a visit
from Morrison’s friend Welsh, reproachful that we had not occupied his
house, and full of interesting stories of the Indian commission, of
which he is the moving spirit. Then more schools, workmen’s houses,
etc., with Rosengarten, and a drive in the park, five miles long on both
sides of the river Schuylkill (as broad as the Thames at Putney), and
with views combining Richmond Hill and Oxford. The Central Park is
nothing to it, or any other I ever saw on heard of. The Quaker city
of white marble and red brick fascinated me more and more. A most
interesting dinner at Dr. Mitchell’s, a scientific man--talk of the war,
prairie stories, Yankee stories, wonderful old Madeira and excellent
cigars. This morning, after seeing Lippincott’s store, and a most
interesting talk with Sheridan’s adjutant-general on the last
campaigns (he came to breakfast), we literally tore ourselves away from
Philadelphia and came on here to this splendid, great, empty house, to
be received most hospitably by Maria, the big, handsome, good-natured
Irishwoman in charge.

Everything is getting so crowded with me that I have hardly time to turn
round. All sorts of kind friends urging me to stop just for one day here
or there, a few hundred miles making no difference with them, hundreds
(almost) of applications for lectures or addresses, and the engagements
already made driving me nearly wild to know how I am to get through with
them. I shall never get my journal straight. Where was I? With dear old
Peter Cooper, the simplest, most utterly guileless of old men who ever
made a big fortune in this world or any other, I should think. That
I remember, but can’t the least get further. Nothing, however, very
particular happened, except that I was again caught and had to speak a
few words to the Normal Training School of New York, consisting of nine
hundred girls. I managed to get out of going with the beautiful Miss
P------ to her school, but thought I should be safe in going with the
dear old gentleman to the Normal School to be present at the morning
service. We were of course on the dais, and Mr. Cooper, after the
singing of a hymn, read a chapter of the Bible, then another hymn, and
then, instead of the adjournment to their classes at once, as I had
expected, I was called upon. You must imagine what I said, for I really
don’t remember. Then I was photographed alone, and with Mr. Cooper. I
enclose a proof of the latter which, I hope, will not quite fade on
the way. They tell me the prints will be very good, and I hope to have
several to bring home. We left on Wednesday by the afternoon boat to
Fall River, the finest boat in the States, the great cabin of which
I shall bring you a photograph, all the family grouped round the door
breaking one down with their kindness. I slept as usual famously on
board the _Bristol,_ and waked at Fall River about three, and so on by
rail to Boston, and by car up here, where I feel quite at home. Miss
Mabel appeared at breakfast, and produced her photographs made at the
time of our last visit with great triumph. They are excellent, and
I shall bring you lots of them. At eleven was the Harvard memorial
ceremony on the laying of the corner-stone of the hall they are building
in honour of the members who died in the war. I walked in with Mr
A------ and heard a good account of his wife and family. They want me
to go out there for a quiet day or two, but, I fear, it is quite
impossible. Two of his sons, the Colonel, and our friend Henry, who is
just named as one of the lecturers, were there also, and Emerson, Dana,
and a number of old and new friends. The ceremony was very simple,
Luther’s hymn, a short _extempore_ prayer, a report, and two addresses,
and the benediction, and then we just broke up and left the great
tent as we pleased. The point of greatest interest was, of course, the
gathering of some seventy or eighty of those who had been in the army,
almost all in their old uniforms, and many of them carrying the marks of
war about them too plainly. Colonel Holmes amongst them as nice as ever,
and young F------ and General M------, with half a dozen other generals.

Lunch afterwards at a very quaint and attractive little club founded in
1792, and recruited by a few of the best fellows in each year, like the
Apostles at our Cambridge. Longfellow and our friend Field came to dine
here, and the poet was fascinating, full of his English doings, and
genial and modest as a big man should be. To-day I have been preparing
for my lecture, “John to Jonathan,” which comes off next Tuesday, as to
which I am considerably anxious, as it is exceedingly difficult to get
a line which will have the healing effect I intend. Let us hope for the
best. I go for Sunday to Lowell’s brother’s school, twenty miles away.
On Monday evening I meet the Harvard undergraduates, and on Wednesday
spend the day with Emerson at Concord. On Thursday I hope to get away,
but where? All our plans are changing. We now propose, if it can be so
arranged, to go first to Montreal for two or three days to pick up our
things, returning to Ithaca to Goldwin Smith for a long day about the
18th, and so to New York, from which we should sail about the 22nd.
You will, I daresay, be glad that we don’t go from Quebec; but I don’t
believe there is the least more danger at this time of year by this
route than any other. All I have resolved on is, that nothing shall keep
me beyond my time.



St. Mark’s School, Southborough, Mass., Tuesday, 9th October.

We have had a very charming visit to this little village, twenty
miles from Boston, in which is established a Church of England
boarding-school, modelled as nearly as possible on our public school
system, and intended to do for American boys precisely what Eton, Rugby,
etc., do for ours. I am not sure that such schools are wanted here.

Were I living here I should certainly try the public schools first for
my boys. But they say that the teaching there is too forcing in the
earlier stages, and afterwards not liberal enough in the direction of
“_the humanities_,” so that the boys get trained more into competitive
money-making machines than into thinking cultivated men. There is a very
considerable demand at any rate for this kind of school, as this is only
one of several in New England. There is an objection too amongst New
England mothers. I find that the high schools (as I ought to call them,
and not public schools) being open to every one, a large class of Irish
and other recent arrivals go there whose manners and language make them
dangerous class-mates for their own children. At any rate, St. Mark’s
school is a successful fact, and seeing how fast they go ahead here
I shouldn’t be astonished to hear that in a few years it is as big as
Rugby. Dr. Lowell is the principal, and a first-rate one, a High Church
of England clergyman, not a ritualist. The school is founded as a
denominational one, with a little chancel, which opens from the end of
the big schoolroom, and in which the doctor, in his robes, reads our
prayers morning and evening to the boys. He and his family live entirely
with the boys, taking all their meals in the hall, and there is no
fagging, the monitors having no power or responsibility, except just
to keep order in the schoolroom at certain hours. They have a monthly
reception of the friends from the neighbourhood, which took place on
Saturday evening. All the boys were there, and handed round ices, cakes,
and tea to some thirty ladies and gentlemen who came in, including
several of the trustees, a judge whom I had met in England, a
neighbouring squire (Boston merchant by profession), who is farming
largely down there, reclaiming the stony lands and getting up a most
beautiful herd of cattle. Of course I had to “address a few words” to
them, all which they took most kindly. On Sunday we had two Church of
England services in the pretty parish church, a copy of one in England,
the plans of which the Squire, Bartlett, had brought over. We dined in
the middle of the day at his house, which would be a good squire’s house
at home. The family were very nice--a sweet, pretty wife, a strapping
great eldest son now at Harvard, and good in all ways. He is bent on
going out West as soon as he is through college, and, as a preparation,
hired himself out to a farmer this summer vacation, earned ten dollars
a week for some two months at hoeing and other hard work, and then had
a sporting run to Canada. Two more big sons and any number of younger
children. The house was tastefully furnished with some really good
pictures, and altogether it was as nice a home as I have seen here.
On Monday we got back to dear Elmwood, and I went hard at work on my
lecture. Newspaper men came buzzing about all day and seizing my MS. as
I got through with it. Also came up Julian H------, one of the Chartist
prisoners of 1848. I had known him in the socialist times, and I had
always a respect and liking for him, but he had quite slipped out of
sight for some eighteen years. His errand touched me. He reminded me
(which I had entirely forgotten) that he had applied to Lord R------
in 1851 for a loan of £20 which had been advanced to him through me. He
told the long story of his life since, full of interest; I must keep it
till we meet. At last he landed in the Massachussets state house, where
he is a Government clerk, on a small salary for this country, but out of
it he has saved a few hundred dollars, and the object of his visit was
to say that he was now anxious to pay his old debt with many hearty
thanks to Lord R------. Would I settle whether he should pay for
interest, and he would go and draw it out and send it by me? I said I
couldn’t say whether our friend would take interest, or at what rate,
but promised to let him know when I got back, so that he can remit the
exact amount to London. Even he has never taken up his citizenship here,
but remains an Englishman, and means at any rate to come back and die in
the old country. In the evening we went down to a gathering of all the
Harvard students who had petitioned me to come and talk to them. They
were gathered some five hundred strong in the Massachusetts Hall, and
a finer and manlier set of boys I have never seen. I talked to them on
Muscular Christianity and its proper limits, as they are likely to run
into professional athletics like our boys at home. Told them they lived
in a land which had “struck ile” and was so overflowing with wealth that
every one was hasting to get rich too quick. Exhorted to patience and
thoroughness; read to them Lowell’s “Hebe” (you remember the little gem
of a poem); told them they ought to take more part in public affairs
than their class usually do. All which they swallowed devoutly, and
cheered vehemently, like good boys, and then sang a lot of their college
songs: “Marching through Georgia” splendid, the rest much like our own.
The war has given a magnificent lift to all the young men and boys of
this country, and I think the rising generation will put America in a
very different place from that which she holds now. Last night I gave
my lecture in the Music Hall, which was crammed, and the whole affair a
brilliant success. “John to Jonathan” is printed verbatim in the morning
newspapers, so you will probably see it before I get back, and I think
like it. No more time for the moment.



Ithaca, N.Y., 16th October 1870.

I missed the last mail through stress of work, chiefly on my lecture,
which I mentioned in my last. The applications for lectures were so
numerous and urgent that I really felt that I ought not to leave the
country without giving one at any rate, and all my friends said that
the Music Hall at Boston was the place if I only spoke once. It is the
largest room in New England, holds nearly three thousand people, is
easy to speak in, though it has great deep galleries running round three
sides, and in it all the big folk talk and lecture, Wendell Phillips and
Sumner follow me, so you see the class of thing at once. Well, as I was
in for it much against my will, I was determined to talk out with
the whole Yankee nation the controversy which. I had been carrying on
already with many of them in private. I was anxious not to leave them
with any false impressions, and to let them see clearly that in our
national differences I think that we have a very good case, and that
even if I didn’t think so, I am too good a John Bull not to stand by my
own country. Lowell agreed as to the title and object, but I think had
serious misgivings as to how the affair might turn out. Mundella thought
it very risky and so did most other folk. However, as you know, I don’t
care a straw for applause, and do care about speaking my own mind, so
whether it made me unpopular or not I determined to have my say. In
order that I might say nothing on the spur of the moment, I wrote out
the whole address carefully, and I am very glad I did, as the reporters
all copied from my MS., and consequently I was thoroughly well reported.
The _Tribune and Boston Advertiser_ printed it in full, and I will bring
you home copies. I was a little nervous myself when I got to the hall.
Two ex-Governors and the present Governor of the State were on the
platform, the two Senators (Sumner and Wilson), Longfellow, Judge Hoare,
Dana, Wendell Holmes, Wendell Phillips, Lowell, and, in short, pretty
nearly all the Boston big wigs. The great organ played “God save the
Queen” as I came in, and the audience, generally, I am told, a very
undemonstrative one, cheered heartily. My nervousness, however, wore off
at once, when I got on my legs. I found that my voice filled the hall
easily, and so was at my ease and got through just within the hour,
without once losing the attention of the audience for a minute. They
were indeed wonderfully sympathetic and hearty, and gave me three rounds
of cheers at the end, far more warmly than at the beginning. Every one
came and said that it was a great success; that they had never heard
our side fairly stated before; that this and that fact were quite new to
them, etc. In fact, if I didn’t know how soon the reaction comes in
such cases, I should think I had done some good work towards a better
understanding between the nations, and, as it is, I am sure I have done
no harm, and have at any rate made my own position perfectly clear, and
shown them that in the event of a quarrel, they can’t reckon upon me for
any kind of sympathy or aid. After the lecture whom should I meet as I
went out but Craft, the negro who had been the cause of one of the most
exciting meetings ever held in that hall some twenty years before,
when the attempt was made to seize him and his wife in Boston. I was
delighted to see him and to hear a capital account of his experiment
at association in Georgia. Then I went to Field’s, the publisher, to
supper, where were Longfellow, Holmes, Dana, and others, and so home by
the last car, thankful that it was all well over. Next morning I got a
cheque for 250 dollars (£50). I had, of course, never said a word about
any payment, so it was an agreeable surprise. The post brought me I know
not how many letters, begging me to lecture in a dozen states on my own
terms, so when all trades fail, I can come over here and earn a good
living easily enough, which is a consolation. Wednesday, our last whole
day with the dear Lowells, I spent peaceably. Went to his lecture in the
University on Arthurian legends; Miss Mabel photographed the house and
us in groups, and we talked and loafed. In the evening a supper at
the house of one of the professors, to meet the whole staff, and a
pleasanter or abler set of men I have never come across. Thursday, lunch
with Longfellow after packing, then a run down on the car to Boston, to
change my cheque, to take a berth on a packet, so as to be armed against
any appeals for another day or two in New York, and to get a last look
at the favourite points in the old Puritan capital, the place where
I should certainly settle if I ever had to leave England. We drove
a rather sad party to Mrs. Lowell’s sister, and the mother of the
beautiful boy whose photograph we have, and who was killed early in
the war, to tea, and from her house went to the station and took
sleeping-car for Syracuse. I cannot tell you how I like Lowell and all
his belongings. It is a dangerous thing to make acquaintance in the
flesh with one with whose writings one is so familiar, but he has quite
come up to my idea of him, and his wife and Miss Mabel are both very
charming in their own ways. I slept well, woke at Albany, breakfasted,
and then on to Syracuse, where Mr. Wansey, Mrs. Hamilton’s uncle, lives.
We got there at two, and I was immediately seized at the station by
Wilkinson, the local banker, whom I had just met at Ned’s this summer.
He drove us all through and round the most characteristic town in
America. Great broad streets lined with lovely maple trees, all turned
now to clouds of scarlet and gold; down the principal one the railway
runs without any fence. Old Mr. Wansey and others came to dine, he a
dear old man of eighty, but hale and handsome, rather like my dear
old grandfather’s picture, the rest pleasant country folk. We played
billiards, and told stories after dinner, and had a decidedly good time
till nearly midnight. The next morning we breakfasted with Mr. White,
the President of this new University, and came on here with him. He is
a young man of about thirty-five, and one of the finest scholars America
has to boast of at present. By the way, he was a classmate of Smalley
at Yale. He is a rich man, and he has nothing whatever to gain by
undertaking this work. In short, he is quite worthy of having Goldwin
Smith as a fellow-worker, and between them, with the excellent staff
of professors and teachers they have got round them, I expect they will
make this place in a wondrous short time a great working-men’s college.
Everything is of course rough at present, as the buildings are still
in progress, but two blocks are completed, and there are about seven
hundred pupils living in them and in the town at the bottom of the hill
on which Cornell stands. It is a most magnificent situation, looking
over a large lake, forty miles long, and two splendid valleys, which are
now ablaze with the crimson and purple colours of the maples, shumachs,
American walnuts, and other trees, which make the hillsides here glow
all the later autumn through. We found Goldwin Smith waiting for us at
the wharf and looking much stronger than he used to do in England, and
quite warm in his welcome. All the professors, with their wives and
families, if married, live for the present in a huge square block of
buildings originally intended for a hydropathic establishment, in which
they have a private sitting-room and bedrooms and dine and take all
meals in the hall. You may fancy how much I am interested in this great
practical step towards association.



New York, Tuesday.

Here I am in the great city again, to spend the last few days before
my start for home. The reception in the great hall, speech, visit to
lecture rooms, etc., enthusiasm of boys, baseball games, and football
given in my honour, must all keep till we meet. For, alas! I have no
time to spend here for writing, as I have another address to give before
I start, on Friday evening, and I must write it carefully, as it is
to be on the labour question, which is mightily exercising our cousins
here. They are getting into the controversy which we are nearly through
at home, and if I can give them a little good advice before I come away,
I shall be very glad. As I am engaged every evening, it will not be easy
to find time to do it as I should like, but I can give the morning, I
think, and can at any rate make sure of not talking nonsense.



AMERICA--1880 to 1887



The Cumberland Mountains



East Tennessee, 1st September 1880.

Here I am at my goal, and so full of new impressions that I must put
some of them down at once, lest they should slip away like the new kind
of recruits, and I should not be able to lay my hand on them again when
I want them. The above address is vague, as this range of highlands
extends for some 200 miles through this State and Kentucky; but, though
fixed as fate myself, I can for the moment put no more definite heading
to my letters. The name of the town that is to be, and which is already
laid out and in course of building here, is a matter of profound
interest to many persons, and not to be decided hastily. The only point
which seems clear is that it will be some name round which cluster
tender memories in the old Motherland. We are some 1800 feet above the
sea, and after the great heat of New York, Newport, and Cincinnati,
the freshness and delight of this brisk, mountain air are quite past
describing. For mere physical enjoyment, I have certainly never felt its
equal, and can imagine nothing finer.

And now for our journey down. We left Cincinnati early in the morning by
the Cincinnati Southern Railway, a line built entirely by the city,
and the cost of which will probably make the municipality poor for
some years to come. But it seems to me a splendid and sagacious act of
foresight in a great community, to have boldly taken hold of and opened
up at once what must be one, if not the main, artery of communication
between North and South in the future. I believe the impelling motive
was the tendency of the carrying trade of late years to settle along
other routes, leaving the metropolis of the south-west out in the cold.
If this be so, the result justifies the prompt courage of the citizens
of Cincinnati, for the tide has obviously set in again with a vengeance.
The passenger-cars are filled to the utmost of their capacity, and
freight, as we know here too well, is often delayed for days, in spite
of all the efforts of the excellent staff of the road. Besides its
through traffic, the line has opened up an entirely new country,
of which these highlands seem likely to prove a profitable, as they
certainly are the most interesting, tract. This section has not been
open for six months, and already it is waking up life all over these
sparsely-settled regions. Down below on the way to Chatanooga I hear
that the effect is the same, and that in that great mineral region
blast-furnaces are already at work, and coal-mines opening all along the
line. At Chatanooga there are connections with all the great Southern
lines, so that we on this aerial height are, in these six months, in
direct communication with every important seaport from Boston to New
Orleans, and almost every great centre of inland population; and the
settlers here, looking forward with that sturdy faith which seems to
inspire all who have breathed the air for a week or two, are already
considering upon which favoured mart they shall pour out their abundance
of fruits and tobacco, from the trees yet to be planted and seed yet to
be sown. All which seems to prove that Cincinnati, at any rate, has
done well to adopt the motto, “L’audace, toujours l’audace,” which is,
indeed, characteristic of this country and this time.

And the big work has not only been done, but done well and permanently.
The engineering difficulties must have been very great; the cuttings and
tunnels had to be made through hard rock, and the bridges over streams
which have cut for themselves channels hundreds of feet deep. We crossed
the Kentucky river, on (I believe) the highest railway bridge in
the world, 283 feet above the water; and rushed from a tunnel in the
limestone rock right on to the bridge which spans the north fork of the
Cumberland river, 170 feet below. The lightness of the ironwork on which
these bridges rest startles one at first, but experience has shown them
to be safe, and the tests to which they have been put on this line would
have tried most seriously the strength of far more massive structures.
But it is only in its bridges that the Cincinnati Southern Railway has
a light appearance. The building of the line has a solid and permanent
look, justifying, I should think, the very considerable sum per mile
which has been spent on it above the ordinary cost in this country. And
by the only test which an amateur is as well able to apply as an expert,
that of writing on a journey, I can testify that it is as smoothly laid
as the average of our leading English lines. For the last fifty miles we
ran almost entirely through forests, which are, however, falling rapidly
all along the side of the line, and yielding place to corn-fields in
the rich bottoms, wherever any reasonably level ground bordered the
water-courses, up which we could glance as we hurried past. I was
surprised, and, I need not say, greatly pleased, to see the apparently
excellent terms on which the white and coloured people were, even in
the Kuklux regions through which we came. A Northern express man, our
companion at this point, denounced it as the most lawless in the United
States. About one hundred homicides, he declared, had taken place in the
last year, and no conviction had been obtained, the juries looking on
such things as regrettable accidents. This may be so, but I can, at any
rate, testify, from careful observation of the mixed gangs of workmen
on the road, and the groups gathered at the numerous stations, to the
familiar and apparently friendly footing on which the races met. As
for the decrease of the blacks, it must be in other regions than those
traversed by the Cincinnati Southern Railway, for the cabins we passed
in the clearings and round the stations swarmed with small urchins, clad
in single garments, the most comic little figures of fun, generally,
that one had ever seen, as they stood staring and signalling to the
train. There is something to me so provocative of mirth in the race,
and I have found them generally such kindly folk, that I regret
their absence from this same Alpine settlement,--a regret not shared,
doubtless, by the few householders, to whom their constant small
peculations must be very trying.

About five we stopped at the station from which this place is reached,
and turning out on the platform were greeted by four or five young
Englishmen, who had preceded us, on one errand or another, every one
of whom was well known to me in ordinary life, but whom for the
first moment I did not recognise. I had seen them last clothed in the
frock-coat and stove-pipe hat of our much-vaunted civilisation, and
behold, here was a group which I can compare to nothing likely to be
familiar to your readers, unless it be the company of the _Danites_, as
they have been playing in London. Broad-brimmed straw or felt hats, the
latter very battered and worse for wear; dark-blue jerseys, or flannel
shirts of varying hue; breeches and gaiters, or long boots, were the
prevailing, I think I may say the universal costume, varied according
to the taste of the wearer with bits of bright colour laid on in
handkerchief at neck or waist. And tastes varied deliciously, two of
the party showing really a fine feeling for the part, and one, our
geologist, 6 ft. 2 in. in his stockings, and a mighty Etonian and
Cantab, in brains as well as bulk, turning out, with an heroic scorn of
all adornment, in woefully battered nether-garment and gaiters, and a
felt which a tramp would have looked at several times before picking
it out of the gutter. There was a light buggy for passengers and a
mule waggon for luggage by the platform; but how were nine men, not
to mention the manager and driver, both standing over 6 feet, and the
latter as big at least as our geologist, to get through the intervening
miles of forest tracks in time for tea up here? Fancy our delight when
a chorus of “Will you ride or drive?” arose, and out of the neighbouring
bushes the Danites led forth nine saddle-horses, bearing the comfortable
half-Mexican saddles with wooden stirrups in use here. Our choice was
quickly made, and throwing coats and waistcoats into the waggon, which
the manager good-naturedly got into himself, surrendering his horse for
the time, we joined the cavalcade in our shirts.

A lighter-hearted party has seldom scrambled through the Tennessee
mountain roads on to this plateau. We were led by a second Etonian, also
6 ft. 2 in. in his stockings, whose Panama straw hat and white corduroys
gleamed like a beacon through the deep shadows cast by the tall pine
trees and white oaks. The geologist brought up the rear, and between
rode the rest of us--all public schoolmen, I think, another Etonian, two
from Rugby, one Harrow, one Wellington--through deep gullies, through
four streams, in one of which I nearly came to grief, from not following
my leader; but my gallant little nag picked himself up like a goat from
his floundering amongst the boulders, and so up through more open ground
till we reached this city of the future, and in the dusk saw the bright
gleam of light under the verandahs of two sightly wooden houses. In one
of these, the temporary restaurant, we were seated in a few minutes at
an excellent tea (cold beef and mutton, tomatoes, rice, cold apple-tart,
maple syrup, etc.); and during the meal the news passed round that
the hotel being as yet unfurnished and every other place filled with
workpeople, we must all (except the geologist and the Wellingtonian,
who had a room over the office) pack away in the next cottage, which had
been with difficulty reserved for us. If it had been a question of men
only, no one would have given it a thought; but our party had now been
swollen by two young ladies, who had hurried down by an earlier train
to see their brother and brother-in-law, settlers on the plateau, and
by another young Englishman who had accompanied them. A puzzle, you will
allow, when you hear a description of our tenement. It is a four-roomed
timber house, of moderate size, three rooms on the ground floor, and one
long loft upstairs. You enter through the verandah on a common room, 20
ft. long by 14 ft. broad, opening out of which are two chambers, 14
ft. by 10 ft. One of these was, of course, at once appropriated to the
ladies. The second, in spite of my remonstrances, was devoted to me,
as the Nestor of the party, and on entering it I found an excellent bed
(which had been made by two of the Etonians), and a great basin full of
wild-flowers on the table. There were four small beds in the loft, for
which the seven drew lots, and two of the losers spread rugs on the
floor of the common room, and the third swung a hammock in the verandah.
Up drove the mule waggon with luggage, and the way in which big and
little boxes were dealt with and distributed filled me with respect and
admiration for the rising generation. The house is ringing behind
me with silvery and bass laughter, and jokes as to the shortness of
accommodation in the matter of washing appliances, while I sit here
writing in the verandah, the light from my lamp throwing out into strong
relief the stems of the nearest trees. Above, the vault is blue beyond
all description, and studded with stars as bright as though they were
all Venuses. The katydids are making delightful music in the trees, and
the summer lightning is playing over the Western heaven; while a gentle
breeze, cool and refreshing as if it came straight off a Western sea, is
just lifting, every now and then, the corner of my paper. Were I young
again,--but as I am not likely to be that, I refrain from bootless
castle-building, and shall turn in, leaving windows wide open for the
katydid’s chirp and the divine breeze to enter freely, and wishing as
good rest as they have all so well earned to my crowded neighbours in
this enchanted solitude.



Rugby, Tennessee, 10th September 1880.

I take it I must have “written you frequent” (as they say here), at
this time of year, in the last quarter-century on this theme, but, if
you let me, should like to go back once more on the old lines. “Loafing
as she should be taken” is likely, I fear, to become a lost art,
though to my generation it is the one luxury. A country without good
loafing-places is no longer a country for a self-respecting man in
his second half-century. The rapid deterioration of our poor dear old
England in this respect fills me with forebodings far more than the
Irish Question, which we shall worry through on the lines so staunchly
advocated by you. No fear of that, to my thinking; but, alas! great fear
of our losing the power and the means of loafing. Time was when John
Bull, in his own isle, was the best loafer in Christendom--(I may say in
the world, the Turk and Otaheitan loafer doing nothing else, and he who
does nothing but loaf loses the whole flavour of it)--and I can
remember the time when at the seaside--for instance, Cromer, and inland,
Betwys-y-Coed, Penygurd, and the like--the true loafer might be happy,
gleaning “the harvest of a quiet eye,” and far from any one who wanted
to go anywhere or do anything in particular. The railway has come
to Cromer, and I hear that the guardian phalanx of Buxtons, Hoares,
Gurneys, and Barclays, all good loafers in the last generation, have
thrown up the sponge and gone with the stream. I was at Betwys and
Penygurd last year, and at the former there were three or four long
pleasure-vans meeting every train; at the latter, three parties came in,
in a few hours, to do Snowdon and get back to dinner at Capel Curig or
Bethgellert. Indeed, I was sore to mark that even Henry Owen, landlord
and guide, once a good loafer, has succumbed., Over here it is still
worse in the Atlantic States; but this is a big country, in which oases
_must_ be left yet for many a long year for the loafer, of which this
is one. It lies on a mountain plateau, seven miles from the station,
to which a hack goes twice daily to meet the morning and evening mails
(once too often, perhaps, for the highest enjoyment of the loafer);
but otherwise the outer world, its fidgets and its businesses, no more
concern us than they did Cooper’s jackdaw. I am conscious that regular
work here must be done by some one, as daily meals at 7 A.M., and
12.30 and 6 P.M., never fail, with abundance of grapes and melons--the
peaches, alas! were cut off by frosts when the trees were in blossom.
But beyond this, and the presence of a young Englishman in the house,
who, in blue shirt and trousers, tends and milks the cows, and puts
in six or eight hours’ work a day at one thing or another in the
neighbouring fields, there is nothing to remind one that this world
doesn’t go on by itself, at any rate in these autumn days. Almost every
cottage, or shanty, as they call these attractive wooden houses, has
a deep verandah (from which you get a view, over the forest, of the
southern range of mountains, with Pilot Knob for highest point), and,
in the verandah, rocking-chairs and hammocks, in one or other of which
a chatty host or hostess is almost sure to be found, enjoying air, view,
rocking, and the indescribable depth of blue atmosphere which laps us
all round. There is surely something very uplifting in finding the sky
twice as far off as you know it at home. I felt this first on the Lower
Danube and in Greece; but I doubt if Bulgarian or Greek heavens are as
high as these. Every now and again, a merry group of young folk go by
in waggon or on horseback; but even they are loafers, as they have no
object in view beyond enjoying one another’s company, and possibly lunch
or tea at the junction of the two mountain-streams, the only lion we
have within a day’s journey. Their parents may be found for the most
part in and round the hotel, for they are wise enough to let the young
ones knock about very much as they please, while they take their own
ease in the verandahs or shady grounds of “The Tabard.” That hostelry
of historic name stands on an eminence next to this shanty, and my
“loaf-brothers,” when I get any, are generally saunterers from amongst
its guests, and the one who comes oftenest is perhaps the best loafer I
have ever come across. He is a rancheman on the Rio Grande, and has been
out here ever since he left Marlborough, some fourteen years ago. Since
then I should think he has done as hard work as any man, in the long
drives of 2000 miles which he used to make from Southern Texas up to
Colorado or Kansas, before the railway came. Even now, I take it that
for ten months in the year he covers more ground and exhausts more
tissue than most men, which makes him such a model loafer when he gets
away. Yesterday, for instance, he started after lunch from “The Tabard,”
 300 yards off, under a sort of engagement, as definite as we make
them, to spend the afternoon here. On the way he came across a hammock
swinging unoccupied in the hotel grounds, and a volume of Pendennis,
and only arrived here after supper, in the superb starlight (the moon is
objectionably late in rising just now), to smoke a pipe before bed-time.
His experience of Western life is as racy as a volume of Bret Harte.
Take the following, for instance:--At a prairie-town not far from his
ranche, as distances go in the West, there is a State Court of First
Instance, presided over by one Roy Bean, J.P., who is also the owner of
the principal grocery. Some cowboys had been drinking at the grocery one
night, with the result that one of them remained on the floor, but with
sense enough left to lie on the side of the pocket where he kept
his dollars. In the morning, it appeared that he had been
“rolled”--_Anglicè_, turned over and his pocket picked--whereupon a
court was called to try a man on whom suspicion rested. Roy Bean sat on
a barrel, swore in a jury, and then addressed the prisoner thus: “Now,
you give that man his money back.” The culprit, who had sent for the
lawyer of the place to defend him, hesitated for a moment, and then
pulled out the money. “You treat this crowd,” were Roy’s next words;
and while “drinks round” were handed to the delighted cowboys at the
prisoner’s expense, Roy pulled out his watch and went on: “You’ve got
just five minutes to clear out of this town, and if ever you come in
again, we’ll hang you.” The culprit made off just as his lawyer came up,
who remonstrated with Roy, explaining that the proper course would have
been to have heard the charge, committed the prisoner, and sent him to
the county town for trial. “And go off sixty miles, and hang round with
the boys [witnesses] for you to pull the skunk through and touch the
dollars!” said Roy scornfully; whereupon the lawyer disappeared in
pursuit of his client and unpaid fee.

It occurs to one to ask how much of the litigation of England might be
saved if Judges of First Instance might open with Roy’s formula: “Now,
you give that man his money back.” I am bound to add that his practice
is not without its seamy side. When the railway was making, two men
came in from one of the gangs for a warrant. A brutal murder had been
committed. Roy told his clerk (the boy in the grocery, he being no
penman himself) to make out the paper, asking: “Wot’s the corpse’s
name?” “Li Hung,” was the reply. “Hold on!” shouted Roy to his clerk;
and then to the pursuers: “Ef you ken find anything in them books,”
 pointing to the two or three supplied by the State, “about killin’ a
Chinaman, it ken go,” and the pursuers had to travel on to the next
fount of justice.

Here is one more: my “loaf-brother” heard it himself as he was leaving
Texas, and laughed at it nearly all the way up. A group of cowboys at
the station were discussing the problem of how long the world would last
if this drought went on, the prevailing sentiment being that they would
rather it worruted through somehow. A cowboy down on his luck here
struck in: “Wall, if the angel stood right thar,” pointing across the
room, “ready to sound, and looked across at me, I’d jest say, ‘Gabe!
toot your old horn!’”



Rugby, Tennessee.

I was roused at five or thereabouts on the morning after our arrival
here by a visit from a big dog belonging to a native, not quite a
mastiff, but more like that than anything else, who, seeing my window
wide open, jumped in from the verandah, and came to the bed to give me
goodmorning with tail and muzzle. I was glad to see him, having made
friends the previous evening, when the decision of his dealings with the
stray hogs who came to call on us from the neighbouring forest had won
my heart; but as his size and attentions somewhat impeded my necessarily
scanty ablutions, I had to motion him apologetically to the window when
I turned out. He obeyed at once, jumped out, laid his muzzle on the
sill, and solemnly, and, I thought, somewhat pityingly, watched my
proceedings. Meantime, I heard sounds which announced the uprising of
“the boys,” and in a few minutes several appeared in flannel shirts and
trousers, bound for one of the two rivers which run close by, in gullies
200 feet below us. They had heard of a pool ten feet deep, and found it
too; and a most delicious place it is, surrounded by great rocks, lying
in a copse of rhododendrons, azaleas, and magnolias, which literally
form the underwood of the pines and white oak along these gullies. The
water is of a temperature which allows folk whose blood is not so hot
as it used to be to lie for half an hour on its surface and play
about without a sensation of chilliness. On this occasion, however,
I preferred to let them do the exploring, and so at 6.15 went off to
breakfast.

This is the regular hour for that meal here, dinner at twelve, and tea
at six. There is really no difference between them, except that we get
porridge at breakfast and a great abundance of vegetables at dinner.
At all of them we have tea and fresh water for drink, plates of beef or
mutton, apple sauce, rice, tomatoes, peach pies or puddings, and several
kinds of bread. As the English garden furnishes unlimited water and
other melons, and as the settlers--young English, who come in to see
us--bring sacks of apples and peaches with them, and as, moreover, the
most solvent of the boys invested at Cincinnati in a great square box
full of tinned viands of all kinds, you may see at once that in this
matter we are not genuine objects either for admiration or pity. I must
confess here to a slight disappointment. Having arrived at an age myself
when diet has become a matter of indifference, I was rather chuckling as
we came along over the coming short-commons up here, when we got fairly
loose in the woods, and the excellent discipline it would be for the
boys, especially the Londoners, to discover that the human animal can be
kept in rude health on a few daily crackers and apples, or a slap-jack
and tough pork. And now, behold, we are actually still living amongst
the flesh-pots, which I had fondly believed we had left in your Eastern
Egypt; and I am bound to add, “the boys” seem as provokingly indifferent
to them as if their beards were getting grizzled. One lives and learns,
but I question whether these states are quite the place to bring home
to our Anglo-Saxon race the fact that we are an overfed branch of the
universal brotherhood. Tanner, I fear, has fasted in vain.

Breakfast was scarcely over, when there was a muster of cavalry.
Every horse that could be spared or requisitioned was in demand for an
exploring ride to the west, and soon every charger was bestrid by “a
boy” in free-and-easy garments, and carrying a blanket for camping out.
Away they went under the pines and oaks, a merry lot, headed by our
geologist, who knows the forest by this time like a native, and whose
shocking old straw blazed ahead in the morning sun like, shall we say,
“the helmet of Navarre,” or Essex’s white hat and plumes before the
Train Bands, as they crowned the ridge where Falkland fell and his
monument now stands, at the battle of Newbury. Charles Kingsley’s lines
came into my head, as I turned pensively to my table in the verandah to
write to you:--

          When all the world is young, lad, and all the trees are green;

               And every goose a swan, lad, and every lass a queen;

          Then hey for boot and horse, lad, and round the world away;

               Young blood must have its course, lad, and every dog his day.

Our two lasses are, undoubtedly, queens out here. The thought occurs,
are our swans--our visions, already so bright, of splendid crops, and
simple life, to be raised and lived in this fairyland--to prove geese? I
hope not. It would be the downfall of the last castle in Spain I am ever
likely to build.

On reaching our abode, I was aware of the Forester coming across from
the English garden, of which he has charge, followed by a young native.
He walked up to me, and announced that they were come across to tidy
up, and _black the boots_. Here was another shock, that we should
be followed by the lumber of civilisation so closely! Will boots be
blacked, I wonder, in the New Jerusalem? I was at first inclined to
protest, while they made a collection, and set them out on the verandah,
but the sight of the ladies’ neat little high-lows made me pause.
These, at any rate, it seemed to me, _should_ be blacked, even in the
Millennium. Next minute I was so tickled by a little interlude between
the Forester and the native, that all idea of remonstrance vanished. The
latter, contemplating the boots and blacking-pot and brushes--from under
the shapeless piece of old felt, by way of hat, of the same mysterious
colour as the ragged shirt and breeches, his only other garments--joined
his hands behind his back, and said, in their slow way, “Look ’ere, Mr.
Hill, ain’t this ’ere pay-day?” The drift was perfectly obvious.
This citizen had no mind to turn shoe-black, and felt like discharging
himself summarily. Mr. Hill, who was already busily sweeping the
verandah, put down his broom, and after a short colloquy, which I did
not quite catch, seized on a boot and brush, and began shining away with
an artistic stroke worthy of one of the Shoeblack Brigade at the London
Bridge Station. The native looked on for a minute, and then slowly
unclasped his hands. Presently he picked up a boot and looked round
it dubiously. I now took a hand myself. If there was one art which
I learned to perfection at school, and still pride myself on, it is
shining a boot. In a minute or two my boot was beginning “to soar and
sing,” while the Forester’s was already a thing of beauty. The native,
with a grunt, took up the spare brush, and began slowly rubbing. The
victory was complete. He comes now and spends two hours every morning
over his new accomplishment, evidently delighted with the opportunity it
gives him for loafing and watching the habits of the strange occupants,
for whom also he fetches many tin pails of water from the well, in a
slow, vague manner. He has even volunteered to fix up the ladies’ room
and fill their bath (an offer which has been declined, with thanks), but
I doubt whether he will ever touch the point of a genuine “shine.”

They are a curious people, these natives, as the Forester (an
Englishman, reared in Lord Denbigh’s garden at Newnham Paddocks, and
thirty years out here) told me, as we walked off to examine the English
garden, but I must keep his experiences and my own observation for
separate treatment. The English garden is the most advanced, and, I
think, the most important and interesting feature of this settlement.
If young Englishmen of small means are to try their fortunes here, it is
well that they should have trustworthy guidance at once as to what are
the best crops to raise. With this view, Mr. Hill was placed, in the
spring of this year, in charge of the only cleared space available. All
the rest is beautiful, open forest-land. You can ride or drive almost
anywhere under the trees, but there is no cultivated spot for many
miles, except small patches here and there of carelessly sown maize and
millet, and a rood or two of sweet potatoes. The Forester had a hard
struggle to do anything with the garden at all this season. He was only
put in command in May, six weeks at least too late. He could only
obtain the occasional use of a team, and his duties in the forest and in
grading and superintending the walks interfered with the garden. Manure
was out of the question, except a little ashes, which he painfully
gathered here and there from the reckless log-fires which abound in the
woods. He calls his garden a failure for the year. But as half an acre
which was wild forest-land in May is covered with water-melons and
cantalupes, as the tomatoes hang in huge bunches, rotting on the vines
for want of mouths enough to eat them, as the Lima beans are yielding at
the rate of 250 bushels an acre, and as cabbages, sweet potatoes, beets,
and squash are in equally prodigal abundance, the prospect of making a
good living is beyond all question, for all who will set to work with a
will.

In the afternoon, I inspected the hotel, nearly completed, on a knoll
in the forest, between the English garden and this frame-house. It is a
sightly building, with deep verandahs prettily latticed, from which
one gets glimpses through the trees of magnificent ranges of blue
forest-covered mountains. We have named it “The Tabard,” at the
suggestion of one of our American members, who, being in England when
the old Southwark hostelry from which the Canterbury Pilgrims started
was broken up, and the materials sold by auction, to make room for a hop
store, bought some of the old banisters, which he has reverently kept
till now. They will be put up in the hall of the new Tabard, and
marked with a brass plate and inscription, telling, I trust, to
many generations of the place from which they came. The Tabard, when
finished, as it will be in a few days, will lodge some fifty guests;
and, in spite of the absence of alcoholic drinks, has every chance, if
present indications can be trusted, of harbouring and sending out as
cheery pilgrims as followed the Miller and the Host, and told their
world-famous stories five hundred years ago.

The drink question has reared its baleful head here, as it seems to do
all over the world. The various works had gone on in peace till the last
ten days, when two young natives toted over some barrels of whisky, and
broached them in a shanty, on a small lot of no-man’s land in the woods,
some two miles from hence. Since then there has been no peace for the
manager. Happily the feeling of the community is vigorously temperate,
so energetic measures are on foot to root out the pest. A wise state
law enacts that no liquor store shall be permitted under heavy penalties
within four miles of an incorporated school; so we are pushing on our
school-house, and organising a board to govern it. Meantime, we have
evidence of unlawful sale (in quantities less than a pint), and of
encouraging gambling, by these pests, and hope to make an example of
them at the next sitting of the county court. This incident has decided
the question for us. If we are to have influence with the poor whites
and blacks, we must be above suspicion ourselves. So no liquor will be
procurable at the Tabard, and those who need it will have to import for
themselves.

A bridle-path leads from the hotel down to the Clear Fork, one of the
streams at the junction of which the town site is situate. The descent
is about 200 feet, and the stream, when you get to it, from thirty
feet to fifty feet wide,--a mountain stream, with deep pools and big
boulders. Your columns are not the place for descriptions of scenery, so
I will only say that these gorges of the Clear Fork and White Oak are
as fine as any of their size that I know in Scotland, and not unlike in
character, with this difference, that the chief underwood here consists
of rhododendron (called laurel here), azalea, and a kind of magnolia I
have not seen before, and of which I cannot get the name. I passed huge
faggots of rhododendron, twelve feet and fourteen feet long, lying by
the walks, which had been cleared away ruthlessly while grading them.
They are three miles long and cost under £100, a judicious outlay, I
think, even before an acre of land has been sold. They have been named
the Lovers’ Walks, appropriately enough, for no more well-adapted place
could possibly be found for that time-honoured business, especially in
spring, when the whole gorges under the tall pines and white oak are one
blaze of purple, yellow, and white blossom.

On my return to the plateau, my first day’s experiences came to an end
in a way which no longer surprised me, after the boot-blacking and the
Lovers’ Walks. I was hailed by one of “the boys,” who had been unable to
obtain a mount, or had some business which kept him from exploring. He
was in flannels, with racquet in hand, on his way to the lawn-tennis
ground, to which he offered to pilot me. In a minute or two we came upon
an open space, marked, I see on the plans, “Cricket Ground,” in which
rose a fine, strong paling, enclosing a square of 150 feet, the uprights
being six feet high, and close enough to keep, not only boys out,
but tennis-balls in. Turf there was none, in our sense, within the
enclosure, and what there must have once been as a substitute for turf
had been carefully cleared off on space sufficient for one full-sized
court, which was well marked out on the hard, sandy loam. A better
ground I have rarely seen, except for the young sprouts of oak, and
other scrub, which here and there were struggling up, in a last effort
to assert their “ancient, solitary reign.” At any rate, then and there,
upon that court, I saw two sets played in a style which would have done
credit to a county match (the young lady, by the way, who played far
from the worst game of the four, is the champion of her own county).
This was the opening match, the racquets having only just arrived from
England, though the court has been the object of tender solicitude for
six weeks or more to the four Englishmen already resident here or near
by. The Rugby Tennis Club consists to-day of seven members, five English
and two native, and will probably reach two figures within a few days on
the return of the boys. Meantime the effect of their first practice has
been that they have resolved on putting a challenge in the Cincinnati
and Chatanooga papers offering to play a match--best out of five
sets--with any club in the United States. Such are infant communities,
in these latitudes!

You may have been startled by the address at the head of this letter.
It was adopted unanimously on our return in twilight from the
tennis-ground, and application at once made to the State authorities
for registration of the name and establishment of a post-office. It was
sharp practice thus to steal a march on the three Etonians, still far
away in the forest. Had they been present, possibly Thames might have
prevailed over Avon.



A Forest Ride, Rugby, Tennessee.

There are few more interesting experiences than a ride through these
southern forests. The scrub is so low and thin, that you can almost
always see away for long distances amongst pine, white oak, and chestnut
trees; and every now and then at ridges where the timber is thin, or
where a clump of trees has been ruthlessly “girdled,” and the bare,
gaunt skeletons only remain standing, you may catch glimpses of mountain
ranges of different shades of blue and green, stretching far away to the
horizon. You can’t live many days up here without getting to love the
trees even more, I think, than we do in well-kempt England; and this
outrage of “girdling,” as they call it--stripping the bark from the
lower part of the trunk, so that the trees wither and die as they
stand--strikes one as a kind of household cruelty, as if a man should
cut off or disfigure all his wife’s hair. If he wants a tree for lumber
or firewood, very good. He should have it. But he should cut it down
like a man, and take it clean away for some reasonable use, not leave it
as a scarecrow to bear witness of his recklessness and laziness. Happily
not much mischief of this kind has been done yet in the neighbourhood
of Rugby, and a stop will now be put to the wretched practice. There
is another, too, almost as ghastly, but which, no doubt, has more to be
said for it. At least half of the largest pines alongside of the sandy
tracts which do duty for roads have a long, gaping wound in their sides,
about a yard from the ground. This was the native way of collecting
turpentine, which oozed down and accumulated at the bottom of the gash;
but I rejoice to say it no longer pays, and the custom is in disuse. It
must be suppressed altogether, but carefully and gently. It seems that
if not persisted in too long, the poor, dear, long-suffering trees will
close up their wounds, and not be much the worse: so I trust that many
of the scored pines, springing forty or fifty feet into the air before
throwing out a branch, which I passed in sorrow and anger on my first
long ride, may yet outlive those who outraged them. Having got rid of my
spleen, excited by these two diabolic customs, I can return to our ride,
which had otherwise nothing but delight in it.

The manager, an invaluable guest from New York, a doctor, who had served
on the Sanitary Commission through the war, and I, formed the party.
The manager drove the light buggy, which held one of us also, and the
handbags 3 while the other rode by the side, where the road allowed, or
before or behind, as the fancy seized him. We were bound for a
solitary guest-house in the forest, some seventeen miles away, in the
neighbourhood of a cave and waterfall which even here have a reputation,
and are sometimes visited. We allowed three and a half hours for the
journey, and it took all the time. About five miles an hour on wheels
is all you can reckon on, for the country roads, sandy tracts about ten
feet broad, are just left to take care of themselves, and wherever there
is a sufficient declivity to give the rain a chance of washing all the
surface off them, are just a heap of boulders of different sizes. But,
after all, five miles an hour is as fast as you care to go, for the play
of the sunlight amongst the varied foliage, and the new flora and fauna,
keep you constantly interested and amused. I never regretted so much
my ignorance of botany, for I counted some fourteen sorts of flowers in
bloom, of which golden-rod and Michaelmas-daisy were the only ones I was
quite sure I knew,--and by the way, the daisy of Parnassus, of which
I found a single flower growing by a spring. The rest were like home
flowers, but yet not identical with them--at least, I think not--and the
doubt whether one had ever seen them before or not was provoking. The
birds--few in number--were all strangers to me; buzzards, of which we
saw five at one time, quite within shot, and several kinds of hawk and
woodpecker, were the most common; but at one point, quite a number of
what looked like very big swifts, but without the dash in their flight
of our bird, and with wings more like curlews’, were skimming over the
tree-tops..1 only heard one note, and that rather sweet, a cat-bird’s,
the doctor thought; but he was almost as much a stranger in these woods
as I. Happily, however, he was an old acquaintance of that delightful
insect, the “tumble-bug,” to which he introduced me on a sandy bit
of road. The gentleman in question took no notice of me, but went on
rolling his lump of accumulated dirt three times his own size backwards
with his hind legs, as if his life depended on it. Presently his lump
came right up against a stone and stopped dead. It was a “caution” to
see that bug strain to push it farther, but it wouldn’t budge, all he
could do. Then he stopped for a moment or two, and evidently made up his
small mind that something must be wrong behind, for no bug could have
pushed harder than he. So he quitted hold with his hind legs, and turned
round to take a good look at the situation, in order, I suppose, to see
what must be done next. At any rate, he presently caught hold again on
a different side, and so steered successfully past the obstacle. There
were a number of them working about, some single and some in pairs, and
so full of humour are their doings that I should have liked to watch for
hours.

We got to our journey’s end about dusk, a five-roomed, single-storied,
wooden house, built on supports, so as to keep it off the ground. We
went up four steps to the verandah, where we sat while our hostess, a
small, thin New Englander, probably seventy or upwards, but as brisk
as a bee, bustled about to get supper. The table was laid in the middle
room, which opened on the kitchen at the back, where we could see the
stove, and hear our hostess’s discourse. She boiled us two of her fine
white chickens admirably, and served with hot bread, tomatoes, sweet
potatoes, and several preserves, of which I can speak with special
praise of the huckleberry, which grows, she said, in great abundance all
round. _The boys_, we heard, had been there to breakfast, after sleeping
out, and not having had a square meal since they started. Luckily for
us, her white chickens are a very numerous as well as beautiful family,
or we should have fared badly. She and her husband supped after us, and
then came and sat with us in the balcony, and talked away on all manner
of topics, as if the chances of discourse were few, and to be made the
most of. They had lived at Jamestown, close by, a village of some
eight or ten houses, all through the war, through which the Confederate
cavalry had passed again and again. They had never molested her or hers
in any way, but had a fancy for poultry, which might have proved fatal
to her white family, but for her Yankee wit. She and her husband managed
to fix up a false floor in one of their rooms in which they fed the
roosters, so whenever a picket came in sight, her call would bring the
whole family out of the woods and clearing into the refuge, where they
remained peacefully amongst corn-cobs till the danger had passed. She
had nothing but good to say of her native neighbours, except that they
could make nothing of the country. The Lord had done all He could for
it, she summed up, and Boston must take hold of the balance. We heard
the owls all night, as well as the katydids, but they only seemed to
emphasise the forest stillness. The old lady’s beds, to which we retired
at ten, after our long gossip in the balcony, were sweet and clean, and
I escaped perfectly scatheless, a rare experience, I was assured, in
these forest shanties. I was bound, however, to admit, in answer to our
hostess’s searching inquiries, that I had seen, and slain, though not
felt, an insect suspiciously like a British B flat.

The cave which we sought out after breakfast was well worth any trouble
to find. We had to leave the buggy and horses hitched up and scramble
down a glen, where presently, through a tangle of great rhododendron
bushes, we came on a rock, with the little iron-stained stream just
below us, and opposite, at the top of a slope of perhaps fifteen or
twenty feet, was the cave, like a long black eye under a red eyebrow,
glaring at us. I could detect no figure in the sandstone rock (the
eyebrow), which hung over it for its whole length. The cave is said to
run back more than 300 feet, but we did not test it. There would be good
sitting-room for 300 or 400 people along the front, and so obviously
fitted for a conventicle, that I could not help peopling it with
fugitive slaves, and fancying a black Moses preaching to them of their
coming Exodus, with the rhododendrons in bloom behind. Maidenhair grow
in tufts about the damp floor, and a creeping fern, with a bright red
berry, the name of which the doctor told me, but I have forgotten, on
the damp, red walls. What the nook must be when the rhododendrons are
all ablaze with blossom, I hope some day to see.

We had heard of a fine spring somewhere in this part of the forest,
and in aid of our search for it presently took up a boy whom we found
loafing round a small clearing. He was bare-headed and bare-footed,
and wore an old, brown, ragged shirt turned up to the elbows, and old,
brown, ragged trousers turned up to the knees. I was riding, and in
answer to my invitation he stepped on a stump and vaulted up behind me.
He never touched me, as most boys would have done, but sat up behind
with perfect ease and balance as we rode along, a young centaur. We
soon got intimate, and I found he had never been out of the forest, was
fourteen, and still at (occasional) school. He could read a little, but
couldn’t write. I told him to tell his master, from me, that he ought
to be ashamed of himself, which he promised to do with great glee; also,
but not so readily, to consider a proposal I made him, that if he would
write to the manager within six months to ask for it, he should be paid
$1. I found that he knew nothing of the flowers or butterflies, of which
some dozen different kinds crossed our path. He just reckoned they were
all butterflies, as indeed they were. He knew, however, a good deal
about the trees and shrubs, and more about the forest beasts. Had seen
several deer only yesterday, and an old opossum with nine young, a
number which took the doctor’s breath away. There were lots of foxes in
the woods, but he did not see them so often. His face lighted up when he
was promised $2 for the first opossum he would tame and bring across to
Rugby. After guiding us to the spring, and hunting out an old wooden cup
amongst the bushes, he went off cheerily through the bushes, with two
quarter-dollar bits in his pocket, an interesting young wild man. Will
he ever bring the opossum?

We got back without further incident (except flushing quite a number of
quail, which must be lovely shooting in these woods), and found the boys
at home, and hard at lawn-tennis and well-digging. The hogs are becoming
an object of their decided animosity, and having heard of a Yankee
notion, a sort of tweezers, which ring a hog by one motion, in a second,
they are going to get it, and then to catch and ring every grunter who
shows his nose near the asylum. Out of this there should come some fun,
shortly.



The Natives, Rugby, Tennessee.

When all is said and sung, there is nothing so interesting as the man
and woman who dwell on any corner of the earth; so, before giving you
any further details of our surroundings, or doings, or prospects, let me
introduce you to our neighbours, so far as I have as yet the pleasure of
their acquaintance. And I am glad at once to acknowledge that it _is_ a
pleasure, notwithstanding all the talk we have heard of “mean whites,”
 “poor, white trash,” and the like, in novels, travels, and newspapers.
It may possibly be that we have been fortunate, and that our neighbours
here are no fair specimens of the “poor whites” of the South. This, and
the next three counties, are in the north-western corner of Tennessee,
bordering on Kentucky. They are entirely mountain land. There are very
few negroes in them, and they were strongly Unionist during the war.
At present, they are Republican, almost to a man. There is not one
Democratic official in this county, and I am told that only three votes
were cast for the Democratic candidates at the last State elections.
They are overwhelmed by the vote of western and central Tennessee, which
carries the State with the solid South; but here Union men can speak
their minds freely, and cover their walls with pictures in coloured
broad-sheet of the heroes of the war,--Lincoln, Governor Brownlow, Grant
and his captains. They are poor almost to a man, and live in log-huts
and cabins which, at home, could scarcely be rivalled out of Ireland.
Within ten miles of this place there are possibly half a dozen (I have
seen two) which are equal in accommodation and comfort to those of good
farmers in England. The best of these belongs to our nearest neighbour,
with whom a party of us dined, at noon, the orthodox hour in the
mountains, some weeks since. He is a wiry man, of middle height,
probably fifty-five years of age, upright, with finely cut features, and
an eye that looks you right in the face. He has been on his farm twenty
years, and has cleared some fifty acres, which grow corn, millet, and
vegetables, and he has a fine apple orchard. We should call his farming
very slovenly, but it produces abundance for his needs. He sat at the
head of his table like an old nobleman, very quiet and courteous, but
quite ready to speak on any subject, and especially of the five years
of the war through which he carried his life in his hand, but never
flinched for an hour from his faith. His wife, a slight, elderly person,
whose regular features showed that she must have been very good-looking,
did not sit down with us, but stood at the bottom of the table,
dispensing her good things. Our drink was tea and cold spring water; our
viands, chickens, ducks, a stew, ham, with a profusion of vegetables,
apple and huckleberry tarts, and several preserves, one of which (some
kind of cherry, very common here) was of a lovely gold colour, and of
a flavour which would make the fortune of a London pastry-cook; a
profusion of water-melons and apples finished our repast; and no one
need ask a better,--but I am bound to add that our hostess has the name
for giving the best square meal to be had in the four counties. It
would be as fair to take this as an average specimen of the well-to-do
farmers’ fare here, as that of a nobleman with a French cook of
the gentry at home. Our host is a keen sportsman, and showed us his
flint-lock rifle, six feet long, and weighing 16 lbs.! He carries a
forked stick as a rest, and, we were assured, gets on his game about
as quickly as if it were a handy Westley-Richards, and seldom misses
a running deer. The vast majority of these mountaineers are in very
different circumstances. Most, but not all of them, own a log cabin and
minute patch of corn round it, probably also a few pigs and chickens,
but seem to have no desire to make any effort at further clearing, and
quite content to live from hand to mouth. They cannot do that without
hiring themselves out when they get a chance, but are most uncertain and
exasperating labourers. In the first place, though able, to stand great
fatigue in hunting and perfectly indifferent to weather, they are not
physically so strong as average English or Northern men. Then they are
never to be relied on for a job. As soon as one of them has earned three
or four dollars, he will probably want a hunt, and go off for it then
and there, spend a dollar on powder and shot, and these on squirrels and
opossums, whose skins may possibly bring him in ten cents as his week’s
earnings. It is useless to remonstrate, unless you have an agreement in
writing. An Englishman who came here lately, to found some manufactures,
left in sheer despair and disgust, saying he had found at last a place
where no one seemed to care for money. I do not say that this is true,
but they certainly seem to prefer loafing and hunting to dollars, and
are often too lazy, or unable, to count, holding out their small change
and telling you to take what you want. Temperate as a rule, they are
sadly weak when wild-cat whisky or “moonshine,” as the favourite illicit
beverage of the mountains is called, crosses their path. This is the
great trouble on pay nights at all the works which are starting in
this district. The inevitable booth soon appears, with the usual
accompaniment of cards and dice, and probably a third of your men are
thenceforth without a dime and utterly unfit for work on Mondays, if
you are lucky enough to escape dangerous rows amongst the drinkers. The
State laws give summary methods of suppressing the nuisance, but they
are hard to work, and though public sentiment is vehemently hostile to
whisky, the temptation proves in nine cases out of ten too strong. The
mountaineers are in the main well-grown men, though slight, shockingly
badly clothed, and sallow from chewing tobacco; suspicious in all
dealings at first, but hospitable, making everything they have in the
house, including their own beds, free to a stranger, and generally
refusing payment for lodging or food. They are also very honest, crimes
against property (though not against the person) being of very rare
occurrence. The other day, a Northern gentleman visiting here expressed
his fears to a native farmer, who, after inquiring whether there were
any prisons and police in New England, what these were for, and whether
his interrogator had locks to his doors and his safes, and bars to his
window-shutters, remarked, “Wal, I’ve lived here man and boy for forty
year, and never had a bolt to my house, or corn-loft, or smoke-house,
and I’ll give you a dollar for every lock you can find in Scott county.”
 The cattle, sheep, and hogs wander perfectly unguarded through the
forest, and I have not yet heard of a single instance of a stolen beast.

There is a rough water-mill on a creek close by, called Back’s Mill,
which was run by the owner for years--until he sold it a few months
ago--on the following system. He put the running gear and stones up, and
above the latter a wooden box, with the charge for grinding meal marked
outside. He visited the mill once a fortnight, looked to the machinery,
and took away whatever coin was in the box. Folks brought their corn
down the steep bank if they chose, ground it at their leisure, and then,
if they were honest, put the fee in the box; if not, they went off with
their meal, and a consciousness that they were rogues. I presume Buck
found his plan answer, as he pursued it up to the date of sale.

In short, sir, I have been driven to the conclusion, in spite of all
traditional leanings the other way, that the Lord has much people in
these mountains, as I think a young English deacon, lately ordained
by the Bishop of Tennessee, will find, who passed here yesterday on a
buggy, with his young wife and child, and two boxes and ten dollars
of the goods of this world, on his way to open a church mission in a
neighbouring county. I heard yesterday a story which should give him
hope as to the female portion, at any rate, of his possible flock. They
are dreadful slatterns, without an inkling of the great Palmerstonian
truth that dirt is matter in its _wrong_ place. A mountain girl,
however, who had, strange to say, taken the fancy to go as housemaid
in a Knoxville family, gave out that she had been converted, and, upon
doubts being expressed and questions asked as to the grounds on which
she based the assurance, replied that she knew it was all right, because
now she swept underneath the rugs.

When one gets on stories of quaint and ready replies in these parts, one
“slops over on both shoulders.” Here are a couple which are current in
connection with the war, upon which, naturally enough, the whole mind
of the people is still dwelling, being as much occupied with it as with
their other paramount subject, the immediate future development of the
unbounded resources of these States, which have been really opened for
the first time by that terrible agency. An active Secessionist leader in
a neighbouring county, in one of his stump speeches before the war, had
announced that the Southerners, and especially Tennessee mountain men,
could whip the white-livered Yanks with pop-guns. Not long since, having
been amnestied and reconstructed again to a point when he saw his way
to running for a State office, he was reminded of this saying at the
beginning of his canvas. “Wal, yes,” he said, “he owned to that and
stood by it still, only those mean cusses [the Yanks] wouldn’t fight
that way.”

The other is of very different stamp, and will hold its own with many
world-wide stories of graceful compliments to former enemies by kings
and other big-wigs. General Wilder, one of the most successful and
gallant of the Northern corps commanders in the war, has established
himself in this State, with whose climate and resources he became so
familiar in the campaign which ended under Look-out Mountain, and has
built up a great iron industry at Chatanooga, in full sight of the
battlefields from which 14,000 bodies of Union soldiers were carried to
the national cemetery. Early in his Southern career he met one of the
most famous of the Southern corps commanders (Forrest, I believe, but
am not sure as to the name), who, on being introduced, said, “General,
I have long wished to know you, because you have behaved to me in a way
for which I reckon you owe me an apology, as between gentlemen.”

Wilder replied in astonishment that to his knowledge they had never met
before, but that he was quite ready to do all that an honourable man
ought. “Well now, General,” said the other, “you remember such and
such a fight (naming it)? By night you had taken every gun I had, and I
consider that quite an ungentlemanly advantage to take, anyhow.” By the
way, no man bears more frank testimony to the gallantry of the Southern
soldiers than General Wilder, or admits more frankly the odds which the
superior equipment of the Federals threw against the Confederate armies.
His corps, mounted infantry, armed with repeating rifles, were equal,
he thinks, to at least three times their numbers of as good soldiers
as themselves with the ordinary Southern arms. There are few pleasanter
things to a hearty well-wisher, who has not been in America for ten
years, than the change which has taken place in public sentiment,
indicated by such frank admissions as the one just referred to. In
1870, any expression of admiration for the gallantry of the South, or
of respect or appreciation of such men as Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, or
Johnson, was received either silently, or with strong disapproval. How
it is quite the other way, so far as I have seen as yet, and I cannot
but hope that the last scars of the mighty struggle are healing up
rapidly and thoroughly, and that the old sectional hatred and scorn lie
six feet under ground, in the national cemeteries:--

               No more shall the war-cry sever,

                   Or the inland rivers run red;

               We have buried our anger for ever,

                   In the sacred graves of the dead.

               Under the sod and the dew,

                   Waiting the Judgment Day;

               Love and tears for the blue!

                   Tears and love for the gray!

No man can live for a few weeks on these Cumberland Mountains, without
responding with a hearty “Amen!”



Our Forester, Rugby, Tennessee.

Nothing would satisfy our Forester but that some of us should ride over
with him, some nine miles through the forest, to see Glades, the farm
upon which he has been for the last eight years. He led the way, on his
yellow mare, an animal who had nearly given us sore trouble here. The
head stableman turned all the horses out one day for a short run, and
she being amongst them, and loving her old home best, went off straight
for Glades through the woods, with every hoof after her. Luckily,
Alfred, the Forester’s son, was there, and guessing what was the
matter, just rode her back, all the rest following. The ride was lovely,
glorious peeps of distant blue ranges, and the forest just breaking out
all over into golds, and vermilions, and purples, and russets. We only
passed two small farms on the way, both ramshackle, and so the treat of
coming suddenly on some one hundred acres cleared, drained, with large,
though rough, farm buildings, and bearing the look of being cared for,
was indescribably pleasant. Mrs. Hill and her son Alfred received us,
both worthy of the head of the house; more I cannot say. They run the
farm in his absence with scarcely any help, Alfred having also to attend
to a grist and saw mill in the neighbouring creek. There were a fine
mare and filly in the yard, as tame as pet dogs, coming and shoving
their noses into your pockets and coaxing you for apples. The hogs are
good Berkshire breed, the sheep Cotswolds. The cows (it is the only
place where we have had cream on the mountains), Alderney or shorthorns.
The house is a large log-cabin, one big room, with a deep, open
fireplace, with a great pine-log smouldering at the back across plain
iron dogs, a big hearth in front, on which pitch-pine chips are thrown
when you feel inclined for a blaze. The room is carpeted and hung with
photographs and prints, a rifle and shot gun, and implements of one kind
or another. A small collection of books, mostly theological, and founded
on two big Bibles, two rocking and half a dozen other chairs, a table,
and two beds in the corners furthest from the fire, complete the
furniture of the room, which opens on one side on a deep verandah, and
on the other on a lean-to, which serves for kitchen and diningroom,
and ends in a small, spare bedroom. A loft above, into which the family
disappeared at night, completes the accommodation. I need not dwell on
our supper, which included tender mutton, chickens, apple-tart, custard
pudding, and all manner of vegetables and cakes. Mrs. Hill is as notable
a cook as her husband is a forester. After supper we drew round the big
fireplace, and soon prevailed on our host to give us a sketch of his
life, by way of encouragement to his three young countrymen who sat
round, and are going to try their fortunes in these mountains:--

“I was born and bred up in one of Lord Denbigh’s cottages, at Kirby, in
Warwickshire. My father was employed on the great place, that’s Newnham
Paddocks, you know. He was a labourer, and brought up sixteen children,
not one of whom, except me, has ever been summonsed before a justice,
or got into any kind of trouble. I went to school till about nine, but I
was always longing to be out in the fields at plough or birdkeeping; so
I got away before I could do much reading or writing. But I kept on
at Sabbath School, and learnt more than I did at the other. The young
ladies used to teach us, and they’d set us pieces and things to learn
for them in the week. My Cæsar (the only ejaculation Amos allows
himself; he cannot remember where he picked it up), how I would work at
my piece to get it for Lady Mary! I’ve fairly cried over it sometimes,
but I always managed to get it, somehow. After a bit, I was taken on at
the house. At first, I did odd jobs, like cleaning boots and carrying
messages; and then I got into the garden, and from that into the stable,
and then for a bit with the keepers, and then into livery, to wait on
the young ladies. So you see I learnt something of everything, and was
happy, and earning good wages. But I wanted to see the world, so I took
service with a gentleman who was a big railway contractor. I used to
drive him, and do anything a’most that he wanted. I stayed with him nine
years, and ’twas while going about with him that I met my wife here.
We got married down in Kent, thirty-six years ago. Yes (in answer to
a laughing comment by his wife), I wanted some one to mind me in those
days. That poaching trouble came about this way. I had charge for my
master of a piece of railway that ran through Lord--------‘s preserves,
in Wales. There were very strict rules about trespassing on the lines
then, because folks there didn’t like our line, and had been putting
things on it to upset the trains. One day I saw two keepers coming down
the line, with a labourer I knew between them. He was all covered with
blood, from a wound in his head. ‘Why,’ said I, ‘what’s the matter now?’
‘I’ve been out of work,’ he said, ‘this three weeks, and I was digging
out a rabbit to get something to eat, when they came up and broke my
head.’ From that time the keepers and I quarrelled. I summonsed them,
and got them fined for trespassing on the line; and then they got me
fined for trespassing on their covers. We watched one another like
hawks. I’d often lie out at night for hours in the cold, in a ditch,
where I knew they’d want to cross the line, and then jump up and catch
them; and they’d do the same by me. Once they got me fined £3: 10s. for
poaching. I remember it well. I was that riled, I said to the justices
right out, ‘How long do you think it’ll take me, gentlemen, to pay
all that money, with hares only 1d. apiece?’ Then I went in for it.
I remembered the text, ‘What thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might.’ I did it. I used to creep along at night, all up the fences, and
feel for the places where the hares came through, and set my wires; and
I’d often have ten great ones screaming and flopping about like mad. And
that’s what the keepers were, too. I’ve given a whole barrowful of
hares away to the poor folk of a morning. Well, I know (in answer to an
interpellation of Mrs. Hill), yes, ’twas all wrong, and I was a wild
chap in those days. Then I begun to hear talk about America, and all
there was for a man to see and do there, so I left my master, and we
came over, twenty-seven years ago. At first I took charge of gentlemen’s
gardens, in New York and New Jersey. Then we went to Miscejan, where I
could earn all I wanted. Money was of no account there for a good man
in those days, but the climate was dreadful sickly, and we had our baby;
the first we had in twelve years, and wanted to live on bread and water,
so as we could save him. So we went up right amongst the Indians, to a
place they call Grand Travers, a wonderful healthy place, on a lake
in the pine-forest country, as it was then. I went on to a promontory,
where the forest stood, not like it does here, but the trees that thick,
you had scarce room to swing an axe. Well, it was a beautiful healthy
place, and we and baby throve, and I soon made a farm; and then folk
began to follow after us, and before I left, there were twenty-three
saw-mills, cutting up from 80,000 to 150,000 feet a day, week in and
out. They’ve stripped the country so now, that there’s no lumber for
those mills to cut, and most of them have stopped. I used to have a
boat, with just a small sail, and I’d take my stuff down in the morning,
and trade it off to the lumber-men, and then sail back at night, for
the wind always changed and blew back in the evenings, most part of
the year. Well, then, the war came, and for two years I kept thinking
whether I oughtn’t to do my part to help the Government I’d lived under
so long. Besides, I hated slavery. So in the third year I made up my
mind, and ’listed in the Michigan Cavalry. I took the whole matter
before the Lord, and prayed I might do my duty as a soldier, and not
hurt any man. Well, we joined the Cavalry, near 60,000 strong down in
these parts; and I was at Knoxville, and up and down. It was awful, the
language and the ways of the men, many of them at least, swearing, and
drinking, and stealing any kind of thing they could lay hands on. Many’s
the plan for stealing I’ve broken up, telling them they were there to
sustain the flag, not to rob poor folks. I spoke very plain all along,
and got the men, many of them any way, to listen. I got on famously,
too, because I was never away plundering, and my horse was always ready
for any service. An officer would come in, after we had had a long day’s
work, to say a despatch or message must go, and no horse in our company
was fit to go but mine, so the orderly must have him; but I always said
no, I was quite ready to go myself, but would not part company from my
horse. The only time 1 took what was not mine was when we surprised a
Confederate convoy, and got hold of the stores they were carrying. There
they were lying all along the roads, greatcoats and blankets, and meal
bags, and good boots, with English marks on them. My Cæsar, how our men
were destroying them! I got together a lot of the poor, starving folk
out of the woods that both sides had been living on, and loaded them up
with meal and blankets. My Cæsar, how I loved to scatter them English
boots! They never had seen such before. No, sir (in reply to one of us),
I never fired a shot all that time, but I had hundreds fired at me. I’ve
been in the rifle-pits, and now and again seen a fellow drawing a bead
on me, and I’d duck down and hear the bullet ping into the bank close
above. They got to employ me a good deal carrying despatches and
scouting. That’s how I got took at last. We were at a place called
Strawberry Plains, with Breckenridge’s division pretty near all round
us. I was sent out with twelve other men, to try and draw them out, to
show their force and position; and so we did, but they were too quick
for us. Out they came, and it was a race back to our lines down a steep
creek. My horse missed his footing, and down we rolled over and over,
into the water. When I got up, I was up to my middle, and, first thing
I knew, there was a rebel, who swore at me for a G--d d------Yankee, and
fired his six shooter at me. The shot passed under my arm, and before he
could fire again an officer ordered him on, and gave me in charge. I was
taken to the rear, and marched off with a lot of prisoners. The rebels
treated me as if I’d been their father, after a day or two. I spoke out
to them about their swearing and ways, just as I had to our men; and
I might have been tight all the time I was a prisoner, only I’m a
temperance man. They put me on their horses on the march, and I was glad
of it, for I was hurt by my roll with my horse, and had about the chest.
After about six days I got my parole, with five others. They were hard
pressed then and didn’t want us toting along. Then we started north,
with nothing but just our uniforms, and they full of vermin. The first
house we struck I asked where we could find a Union man about there.
They didn’t know any one, didn’t think there was one in the county. I
said that was bad, as we were paroled Union soldiers,--and then all
was changed. They took us in and wanted us to use their beds, which we
wouldn’t do, because of the vermin on us. They gave us all they had,
and I saw the women, for I couldn’t sleep, covering us up with any spare
clothes they’d got, and watching us all night long. They sent us on to
other Union houses, and so we got north. I was too ill to stay north at
my old work, so I sold my farm, and came south to Knoxville, where I had
come to know many kind, good people, in the war. They were very kind,
and I got work at the improvements on Mr. Dickenson’s farm (a model farm
we had gone over), and in other gentlemen’s gardens. But I didn’t get my
health again, so eight years ago I came to this place on the mountains,
which I knew was healthy, and would suit me. Well, they all said I
should be starved out in two years and have to quit, but before three
years were out I was selling them corn and better bacon than they’d ever
had before. Some of ’em begin to think I’m right now, and there’s a
deal of improvement going on, and if they’d only, as I tell ’em, just
put in all their time on their farms, and not go loafing round gunning,
and contented with corn-dodgers and a bit of pork, and give up whisky,
they might all do as well as I’ve done. I should like to go back once
more and see the old country; but I mean to end my days here. There’s no
such country that I ever saw. The Lord has done all for us here. And
it seems like dreams, that I should live to see a Rugby up here on the
mountains. I mean to take a lot in the town, or close by, and call it
Newnham Paddocks. So I shall lay my bones, you see, in the same place,
as it were, that I was reared in.”

I do not pretend that these were his exact words,--the whole had to be
condensed to come within your space,--but they are not far off. It was
now past nine, the time for retiring, when Amos told us that he always
ended his day with family prayers. A psalm was read, and then we knelt
down, and he prayed for some minutes. Extemporary prayers always excite
my critical faculty, but there was no thought or expression in this I
could have wished to alter. Then we turned in, I, after a pipe in the
verandah, in one clean white bed, and two of the boys in the big one
in the opposite corner. There I soon dozed off, watching the big,
smouldering, white pine-log away in the depth of the chimney-nook, and
the last flickerings of the knobs of pitch pine in front of it, between
the iron dogs, and wondering in my mind over the brave story we had just
been listening to, so simply told (of which I fear I have succeeded in
giving a very poor reflection), and whether there are not some--there
cannot, I fear, be many--such lives lying about in out-of-the-way
corners, on mountain, or plain, or city. My last conscious speculation
was whether the Union would have been saved if all Union soldiers had
been Amos Hills.

I waked early, just before dawn, and was watching alternately the embers
of the big log, still aglow in the deep chimney, and the white light
beginning to break through the honeysuckles and vines which hung over
the verandah, and shaded the wide, open window, when the clock struck
five. The door opened softly, and in stepped Amos Hill in his stockings.
He came to the foot of our beds, picked up our dirty boots, and stole
out again, as noiselessly as he had entered. The next minute I heard the
blacking brushes going vigorously, and knew that I should appear at
breakfast with a shine on in which I should have reason to glory, if I
were preparing to walk in Bond Street, instead of through the scrub on
the Cumberland Mountains. I turned over for another, hour’s sleep
(breakfast being at 6.30 sharp), but not without first considering for
some minutes which of us two--if things were fixed up straight in this
blundering old world--ought to be blacking the other’s boots. The
conclusion I came to was that it ought _not_ to be Amos Hill.



The Negro “Natives”, Rugby, Tennessee, 30th October 1880.

There is one inconvenience in this desultory mode of
correspondence,--that one is apt to forget what one has told already,
and to repeat oneself. I have written something of the white native of
these mountains; have I said anything of his dark brother? The subject
is becoming a more and more interesting and important one every day,
through all these regions. In these mountains, the negro, perhaps, can
scarcely be called a native. Very few black families, I am told, were to
be found here a year or two since. My own eyes assure me that they are
multiplying rapidly. I see more and more black men amongst the gangs
on roads and bridges, and come across queer little encampments in the
woods, with a pile of logs smouldering in the midst, round which stand
the mirth-provoking figures of small black urchins, who stare and grin
at the intruder on horseback, till he rides on under the gold and russet
and green autumnal coping of hickories, chestnuts, and pines.

I am coming to the conclusion that wherever work is to be had, in
Tennessee, at any rate, there will the negro be found. He seems to
gather to a contractor like the buzzards, which one sees over the
tree-tops, to carrion. And unless the white natives take to “putting in
all their time,” whatever work is going will not long remain with them.
The negro will loaf and shirk as often as not when he gets the chance,
but he has not the same craving for knocking off altogether as soon
as he has a couple of dollars in his pocket; has no strong hunting
instinct, and has not acquired the art of letting his pick drop
listlessly into the ground with its own weight, and stopping to admire
the scenery after every half-dozen strokes. The negro is much more
obedient, moreover, and manageable,--obedient to a fault, if one can
believe the many stories one hears of his readiness to commit small
misdemeanours and crimes, and not always small ones, at the bidding of
his employers. There is one thing, however, which an equally unanimous
testimony agrees in declaring that he will not do, and that is, sell his
vote, or be dragooned into giving it for any one but his own choice; he
may, indeed, be scared from voting, but cannot be “squared,” a singular
testimony, surely, of his prospective value as a citizen. Equally
strong is the evidence of his resolute determination to get his children
educated. In some Southern States the children are, I believe, kept
apart, but in the only school I have had the chance of seeing, black and
white children were together. They were not in class, but in the front
of the barn-like building, used both for church and school, having just
come out for the dinner hour. There was a large, sandy, trampled place
under the trees, by no means a bad play-ground, on which a few of the
most energetic, the blacks in the majority, were playing at some game as
we came up, the mysteries of which I should have liked to study. But the
longer we stayed, the less chance there seemed of their going on, and
the game remains a mystery to me still. Where these children, some fifty
in number, came from, is a problem; but there they were, from somewhere.
And everywhere, I hear, the blacks are forcing the running, with respect
to education, and great numbers of them are showing a thrift and energy
which are likely to make them formidable competitors in the struggle for
existence in all states south of Kentucky, at any rate.

In one department (a very small one, no doubt), they will have crowded
out the native whites in a very short time, if I may judge by our
experience in this house. We number two ladies and six men, and our
whole service is done by one boy. Our first experiment was with a young
native, who “reared up” on the first morning at the idea of having to
black boots. This prejudice, I think I told you, was removed for the
moment, and he stayed for a few days. Where it was he “weakened on us”
 I could not learn for certain, but incline to the belief that it was
either having to carry the racquets and balls to the lawn-tennis ground,
or to get a fire to burn in order to boil the water for a four-o’clock
tea. Both these services were ordered by the ladies, and I thought I saw
signs (though I am far from certain) that his manly soul rose against
feminine command. Be that as it may, off he went without warning, and
soon after Amos Hill arrived, with almost pathetic apologies and a negro
boy, short of stature, huge of mouth, fabulous in the apparent age of
his garments, named Jeff. He had no other name, he told us, and did not
know whether it signified Jefferson or Geoffrey, or where or how he got
it, or anything about himself, except that he had got our place at $5 a
month,--at which he showed his ivory, “some!”

From this time all was changed. Jeff, it is true, after the first two
days, gave proofs that he was not converted, like the white housemaid
who had learned to sweep under the mats. His sweeping and tidying were
decidedly those of the sinner, and he entirely abandoned the only hard
work we set him, as soon as it was out of sight from the Asylum. It was
a path leading to a shallow well, which the boys had dug at the bottom
of the garden. The last twenty yards or so are on a steeper incline than
the part next the house, so Jeff studiously completed the few feet that
were left to the brow, and never put pick or shovel on the remainder,
which lay behind the friendly brow of the slope. But in all other
directions, where the work was mainly odd jobs, a respectable kind of
loafing, Jeff was always to the fore, acquitting himself to the best,
I think, of his ability. We did not get full command of him till the
arrival of a young Texan cattle-driver, who taught us the peculiar cry
for the negro, by appending a high “Ho” to his name, or rather running
them together, so that the whole sounded, “Hojeff!” as nearly
as possible one syllable. Even the ladies picked up the cry, and
thenceforward Jeff’s substitute for the “Anon, anon, sir!” of the
Elizabethan waiter was instantaneous. He built a camp-oven, like those
of the Volunteers at Wimbledon, and neater of construction, from which
he supplied a reasonably constant provision of hot water between six
and six, of course cutting his own logs for the fire. His highest
achievement was ironing the ladies’ cotton dresses, which they declared
he did not very badly. Most of us entrusted him with the washing of
flannel shirts and socks, which at any rate were faithfully immersed in
suds, and hung up to dry under our eyes. The laundry was an army tent,
pitched at the back of the Asylum, where Jeff spent nearly all his time
when not under orders, and generally eating an apple, of which there was
always a sack, a present from some ranche-owner, or brought over from
the garden, lying about, and open to mankind at large. I never could
find out whether he could read. One evening he came up proudly to ask
whether his mail had come, and sure enough when the mail arrived there
was a post-card, which he claimed. We thought he would ask one of us to
read it for him, but were disappointed. He had a habit of crooning over
and over again all day some scrap of a song. One of these excited my
curiosity exceedingly, but I never succeeded in getting more than two
lines out of him--

          Oh my! oh my! I’ve got a hundred dollars in a mine!

One had a crave to hear what came of those 100 dollars. It seems it is
so almost universally. The nearest approach to a complete negro ditty
which I have been able to strike is one which the Texan gives, with
a wonderful roll of the word “chariot,” which cannot be written. It
runs:--

               The Debbie he chase me round a stump,

                   Gwine for to carry me home;

               He catch me most at ebery jump,

                   Gwine for to carry me home.

               Swing low, sweet chay-o-t,

                   Gwine for to carry me home.

               The Debbie he make one grab at me,

                   Gwine, etc.,

               He missed me, and my soul goed free,

                   Gwine, etc.

               Swing low, etc.

               Oh! won’t we have a gay old time,

                   Gwine, etc.

               A eatin’ up o’ honey, and a drinkin’ up o’ wine.

                   Gwine, etc.

               Swing low, etc.

This, sir, I think you will agree with me, though precious, is obviously
a fragment only. It took our Texan many months to pick it up, even in
this mutilated condition. But after all, Jeffs character and capacity
come out most in the direction of boots. It. is from his attitude with
regard to them that I incline to think that the Black race have a great
future in these States. You may have gathered from previous letters that
there is a clear, though not a well marked, division in this settlement
as to blacking. Amos Hill builds on it decidedly, and would have every
farmer appear in blacked boots, at any rate on Sunday. The opposition
is led by a young farmer of great energy and famous temper, who, having
been “strapped,” or left without a penny, 300 miles from the Pacific
coast, amongst the Mexican mines, and having made his hands keep his
head in the wildest of earthly settlements, has a strong contempt for
all amenities of clothing, which is shared by the geologist and others.
How the point will be settled at last, I cannot guess. It stands over
while the ladies are still here, and I have actually seen the “strapped”
 one giving his wondrous boots a sly lick or two of blacking on Sunday
morning. But, anyhow, the blacks will be cordially on the side of polish
and the aristocracy. This one might, perhaps, have anticipated; but what
I was not prepared for, was Jeffs apparent passion for boots. I own
a fine, strong pair of shooting-boots, which he worshipped for five
minutes at least every morning. As my last day in the Asylum drew on,
I could see he was troubled in his mind. At last, out it came. Watching
his chance, when no one was near, he sidled up, and pointing to them
on the square chest in the verandah which served for blacking-board, he
said, “I’d like to buy dem boots.” After my first astonishment was over,
I explained to him that I couldn’t afford to sell them for less than
about six weeks of his wages, and that, moreover, I wanted them for
myself, as I could get none such here. He was much disappointed, and
muttered frequently, “I’d like to buy dem boots!”--but my heart did not
soften.

Perhaps I ought rather to be giving your readers more serious
experiences, but somehow the negro is apt to run one out into chaff.
However, I will conclude with one fact, which seems to me a very
striking confirmation of my view. All Americans are reading the _Fool’s
Errand_, a powerful novel, founded on the state of things after the
war in the Kuklux times. It is written by a Southern judge, a fair and
clever man, clearly, but one who has no more faith in the negro’s power
to raise himself to anything above hewing wood and drawing water for
the “Caucasian” than C. J. Taney himself. In all that book there is no
single instance of the drawing of a mean, corrupt, or depraved negro;
but the negroes are represented as full of patience, trustfulness,
shrewdness, and power of many kinds.



The Opening Day, Rugby, Tennessee.

Our opening day drew near, not without rousing the most serious
misgivings in the minds of most of us whether we could possibly be
ready to receive our guests. Invitations had been issued to our
neighbours--friends, as we had learnt to esteem them--in Cincinnati,
Knoxville, Chatanooga, whose hospitalities we had enjoyed, and who had
expressed a cordial sympathy with our enterprise, and a desire to visit
us. We looked also for some of our own old members from distant New
England, in all probability seventy or eighty guests, to lodge and
board, and convey from and back to the railway, seven miles over our new
road,--no small undertaking, under our circumstances. But the hotel was
still in the hands of the contractor, from whom, as yet, only the upper
floors had been rescued. The staircase wanted banisters, and the
hall and living-rooms were still only half-wainscotted, and full of
carpenters’ benches and plasterers’ trays; while the furniture and
crockery lumbered up the big barn, or stood about in cases on the broad
verandah. As for our road, it was splendid, so far as it went, but some
two miles were still merely a forest track, from which all trees and
stumps had been removed, but that was all; and the bridge over the Clear
Fork stream, by which the town site is entered, had only the first cross
timbers laid from pier to pier, while the approaches seemed to lie in
hopeless, weltering confusion, difficult on horseback, impossible on
wheels. However, the manager declared that we should drive over the
bridge on Saturday afternoon, and that the contractor should be out of
the hotel by Monday midday. With this we were obliged to be content,
though it was running things fine, as we looked for our guests on that
Monday afternoon, and the opening was fixed for the next morning. And
so it came to pass, as the manager said. Bridge and road were declared
passable by the named time, though nervous persons might well have
thought twice before attempting the former in the heavy omnibuses hired
for the occasion; and we were able to get possession and move furniture
and crockery into the hotel, though the carpenters still held the
unfinished staircase.

So far so good; but still everything, we felt, depended on the weather.
If the glorious days we had been having held, all would be well. The
promise was fair up to Sunday evening, but at sunset there was a change.
Amos Hill shook his head, and the geologist’s aneroid barometer gave
ominous signs. They proved only too correct. Early in the night the rain
set in, and by daybreak, when we were already astir, a steady, soft,
searching rain was coming down perpendicularly, which lasted, with
scarcely a break, clear through the day, and till midnight. With
feelings of blank despair we thought of the new road, softened into a
Slough of Despond, and the hastily thrown-up approaches to the bridge
giving way under the laden omnibuses, and waited our fate. It was, as
usual, better than we looked for. The morning train from Chatanooga
would bring our southern guests in time for early dinner, if no
break-down happened; and sure enough, within half an hour of the
expected time up came the omnibuses, escorted to the hotel door by the
manager and his son on horseback; and the Bishop of Tennessee, with his
chaplain, the Mayor of Chatanooga, and a number of the leading citizens
of that city and of Knoxville, descended in the rain. In five minutes
we were at our ease and happy. If they had all been Englishmen on a
pleasure-trip, they could not have taken the down-pour more cheerily as
a matter of course, and pleasant, rather than otherwise, after the
long drought. They dined, chatted, and smoked in the verandah, and then
trotted off in _gum_ coats to look round at the walks, gardens, streets,
and cots, escorted by “the boys.” The manager reported, with pride,
that they had come up in an hour and a quarter, and without any kind of
_contretemps_, though, no doubt, the new road _was_ deep, in places.

All anxiety was over for the moment, as the Northern train, bringing our
Cincinnati and New England friends, was not due till after dark. We sat
down to tea in detachments from six to eight, when, if all went well,
the northerners would be about due. The tables were cleared, and relaid
once more for them, and every preparation made to give them a warm
welcome. Nine struck, and still no sign of them; then ten, by which
time, in this early country, all but some four or five anxious souls
had retired. We sat round the stove in the hall, and listened to the
war-stories of the Mayor of Chatanooga, and our host of the Tabard, who
had served on opposite sides in the terrible campaigns in the south of
the State, which had ended at Missionary Ridge, and filled the national
cemetery of Chatanooga with 14,000 graves of Union soldiers. But neither
the interest of the stories themselves, nor the pleasure of seeing how
completely all bitterness had passed out of the narrators’ minds, could
keep our thoughts from dwelling on the pitch-dark road, sodden by this
time with the rain, and the _mauvais pas_ of the bridge. Eleven struck,
and now it became too serious for anything but anxious peerings into the
black night, and considerations as to what could be done. We had ordered
lanterns, and were on the point of starting for the bridge, when faint
sounds, as of men singing in chorus, came through the darkness. They
grew in volume, and now we could hear the omnibuses, from which came a
roll of, “John Brown’s body lies mouldering in the grave,” given with a
swing and precision which told of old campaigners. That stirring melody
could hardly have been more welcome to the first line waiting for
supports, on some hard-fought battle-ground, than it was to us. The
omnibuses drew up, a dense cloud rising from the drenched horses and
mules, and the singers got out, still keeping up their chorus, which
only ceased on the verandah, and must have roused every sleeper in the
settlement. The Old Bay State, Ohio, and Kentucky had sent us a set of
as stalwart good fellows as ever sang a chorus or ate a beef-steak at
midnight; and while they were engaged in the latter operation, they told
how from the break-down of a freight-train, theirs had been three hours
late, how the darkness had kept them to a foot’s-pace, how the last
omnibus had given out in the heavy places, and had to be constantly
helped on by a pair of mules detached from one of the others. “All’s
well that ends well,” and it was with a joyful sense of relief that we
piloted such of our guests as the hotel could not hold across to their
cots in the barracks at one in the morning. By nine, the glorious
Southern sun had fairly vanquished rain and mist, and the whole plateau
was ablaze with the autumn tints, and every leaf gleaming from its
recent shower-bath. Rugby outdid herself and “leapt to music and to
light” in a way which astonished even her oldest and most enthusiastic
citizens, some half dozen of whom had had something like twelve months’
experience of her moods and tempers. Breakfast began at six, and ended
at nine, and for three hours batches of well-fed visitors were turned
out to saunter round the walks, the English gardens, and lawn-tennis
grounds, until the hour of eleven, fixed by the Bishop for the opening
service. The church being as yet only some six feet above ground, this
ceremony was to be held in the verandah of the hotel. Meantime, Bishop
and chaplain were busy among “the boys,” organising a choir to sing the
hymns and lead the responses. The whole population were gathering
round the hotel, some four or five buggies, and perhaps twenty horses,
haltered to the nearest trees, showed the interest excited in the
neighbourhood. In addition to the seats in the verandah, chairs and
benches were placed on the ground below for the surplus congregation,
behind whom a fringe of white and black natives regarded the proceedings
with grave attention. Punctual to time, the Bishop and his chaplain, in
robes, took their places at the corner of the verandah, and gave out the
first verses of the “Old Hundredth.” There was a moment’s pause, while
the newly-organised choir exchanged glances as to who should lead off,
and the pause was fatal to them for the moment. For on the Bishop’s
left stood the stalwart New Englander who had led the pilgrims of
the previous evening in the “John Brown” chorus. He, unaware of the
episcopal arrangements, and of the consequent vested rights of “the
boys,” broke out with “All people that on earth do dwell,” in a voice
which carried the whole assembly with him, and at once reduced “the
boys” to humble followers. They had their revenge, however, when it came
to the second hymn at the end of the service. It was “Jerusalem, the
golden,” which is apparently sung to a different tune in Boston to
that in use in England, so though our musical guest struggled manfully
through the first line, and had almost discomfited “the boys” by sheer
force of lungs, numbers prevailed, and he was brought into line. The
service was a short one, consisting of two psalms, “Lord, who shall
dwell in thy tabernacle?” and “Except the Lord build the house,” the
chapter of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, half a
dozen of the Church collects, and a prayer by the Bishop that the town
and settlement might be built up in righteousness and the fear and love
of God, and ‘prove a blessing to the State. Then, after the blessing,
the gathering resolved itself into a public meeting after American
fashion. The Board spoke through their representatives, and Bishop,
judge, general manager, and visitors exchanged friendly oratorical
buffets, and wishes and prophecies for the prosperity of the New
Jerusalem in the Southern highlands. A more genuine or healthier act of
worship it has not been our good-fortune to attend in these late years.

Dinner began immediately afterwards, and then the company scattered
again, some to select town lots, some to the best views, the Bishop to
organise a vestry, and induce two of “the boys” to become lay readers,
pending the arrival of a parson (in which he was eminently successful);
the chaplain to the Clear Fork with one of “the boys’” fishing-rods,
after black bass; and a motley crowd to the lawn-tennis ground, to see
some set played which would have done no discredit to Wimbledon, and
excited much wonder and some enthusiasm amongst natives and visitors.
A cheerful evening followed, in which the new piano in the hotel
sitting-room did good service, and many war and other stories were told
round the big hall stove. Early the next morning the omnibuses began
carrying off the visitors, and by night Rugby had settled down again to
its ordinary life, not, however, without a sense of strength gained
for the work of building up a community which shall know how to comport
itself in good and bad times, and shall help, instead of hindering, its
sons and daughters in leading a brave, simple, and Christian life.



Life in an American Liner

It is some years since I addressed you last over this signature--indeed
I should doubt if five per cent of your present readers will remember
the “harvests” of a quiet (ought I to say “lazy” rather than “quiet”?)
eye, which I was wont in those days, by your connivance, to submit to
them in vacation times. Somehow to-day the old instinct has come back on
me, possibly because I happen to be on an errand which should be of no
small interest to us English just now; possibly because the last days of
an Atlantic crossing seem to be so naturally provocative of the instinct
for gossiping, that one is not satisfied with the abundant opportunities
one gets on board the vessel in which one is a luxurious prisoner for
ten days.

We have been going day and night since we left Queenstown harbour at
an average rate of 18 (land) miles an hour. We are more than 1300
passengers (roughly 200 saloon, and the rest steerage), whose baggage,
when added to the large cargo of dry goods we are carrying, sinks our
beautiful craft till she draws 24 feet of water. She herself is more
than 150 yards long, and weighs as she passes Sandy Hook,--well, I am
fairly unable to calculate what she weighs, but as much, at any rate,
as half a dozen luggage-trains on shore. We have had our last, or the
captain’s dinner, at which fish, to all appearance as fresh as if the
sailors had just caught them over the side, and lettuces, as crisp as if
the steward had a nursery garden down below, have been served as part
of a dinner which would have done no discredit to a first-class hotel;
beginning with two sorts of soup, and ending with two sorts of ices.
Similar dinners, with other meals to match--four solid ones in the
twenty-four hours, besides odds and ends--have been served day by day,
without a hitch, in a cabin kept as sweet as Atlantic air, constantly
pumped into it by the engine, can make it.

By the way, sir, I may remark here, in connection with our feeding,
that if we might be taken as average specimens of our race, there is no
ground whatever for anxiety as to the Anglo-Saxon digestion, of
which some disagreeable philosophers have spoken with disrespect and
foreboding in recent years. There were, perhaps, ten persons whose
native tongue was not English, and yet we carried our four solid meals a
day with resolution bordering on the heroic. The racks were never on the
tables, and we had only for a few hours a swell, which thinned our ranks
for two meals; and yet when I look round, and make such inquiry as
I can, I can see or hear of nothing more than a very slight trace of
dyspepsia here and there. The principal change I remarked in the manners
and customs on the voyage was the marked increase of play and betting on
board. When I first crossed, ten years ago, there was nothing more than
an occasional game at whist in the saloon or smoking-room. This voyage
it was not easy to get out of the way of hard play except on deck. The
best corner of the smoking-room was occupied from breakfast till “Out
lights” by a steady poker party, and other smaller and more casual
groups played fitfully at the other tables. There were always whist and
other games going on in the saloon, but of a soberer and (in a pecuniary
sense) more innocent character. There were “pools” of a sovereign or
a half sovereign on every event of the day, “the run” being the most
exciting issue. The drawer of the winning number seldom pocketed less
than £40, when it was posted on the captain’s chart at noon. I heard
that play is rather favoured now than otherwise on all the lines, as
a percentage is almost always paid to the funds of the Sailors’ Orphan
Asylum, for which excellent charity a collection is also legitimately
made during every passage. We were good supporters, and collected nearly
£70 at our entertainment, which I attribute partly to the fact that we
had on board a leading American actor, who most good-naturedly “turned
himself loose” for us, and that the plates at the two doors were held
by the daughters of an English earl, and an (late, alas!) American
ambassador of great eminence. The countries could not have been more
characteristically or charmingly represented, and the charity owes them
its best thanks.

There was the usual mine of information and entertainment, to be struck
with ease by the merest novice in conversational shaft-sinking. Why is
it that folk are so much more ready to talk on an Atlantic steamer than
elsewhere? I myself “struck ile,” in several directions, one of a sad
kind--Scotch farmers of the highest type going out to select new homes,
where there will be no factors. The most remarkable of these appeared to
have made up his mind finally when he had been told that he would not be
allowed a penny at the end of his lease for the addition of three rooms
he was obliged to make to his house, as his family were growing up. Have
landlords and factors gone mad, in face of the serious times which are
on them?

There were quite an abundance of parsons, of many denominations, and all
of mark. Prayers on Sunday were read by a New England Episcopalian,
and the sermon preached by a Scotch Free Kirk minister. All were men of
broad views, in some cases verging on Latitudinarianism to a point which
rejoiced my heretic soul, e.g. a Protestant minister in a great American
western city, whose church had recently been rebuilt. Looking round
to find where his flock could be best housed on Sundays, pending
reconstruction, he found the neighbouring synagogue by far the most
convenient, and proposed to go there. His people cordially agreed, and
despite the furious raging of the (so-called) religious press, into the
synagogue they went for their Sunday services, stayed there six months,
and when they left, were only charged for the gas by the Rabbi. An
intimacy sprung up. It appeared that the Rabbi looked upon our Lord
as the first of the inspired men of his nation, greater than Moses or
Samuel, and in the end the two congregations met at a service conducted
partly by the Rabbi and partly by my informant!--a noteworthy sign of
the times, but one at which I fear many even of your readers will shake
their heads.

There were some Confederate officers, ready to talk without bitterness
of the war, and I was very glad to improve the occasion, having never
had the chance of a look from that side the curtain. Anything more grim
and humorous than the picture of Southern society during those awful
four years I never hope to meet with. The entire want of regular
medicines, especially bark, was their greatest trouble in his eyes. In
his brigade their remedy for “the shakes” came to be a plaster of raw
turpentine, just drawn from the pine woods, laid on down the back.
Some one suggested that pills were very portable, and easily imported.
“Pills!” he said scornfully; “pills, sir, were as scarce in our brigade
as the grace of God in a grog shop at midnight.” Nothing so much
brought out to me the horrors of civil war as his account of the perfect
knowledge each side had of the plans and doings on the other. A Northern
officer, he had since come to know, was leaning against a post within
three yards of Jeff. Davis when he made his famous speech announcing the
supersession of Joe Johnson as the general fronting Sherman. Sherman had
heard it in a few hours, and was acting on the news before nightfall.
The most terrible example was that of the mining of the Richmond lines.
The defenders knew almost to a foot where the mines were, and when they
were to be fired. Breckenbridge’s division, in which he fought, were
drawn up in line to repel the attack when the earthworks went up in the
air, and the assailants rushed into the great gap which had been made,
and which was nearly filled, before they fell back, with the bodies of
Northern soldiers. For the last two years, in almost every battle he had
all he could do to hold his own against the front attack, knowing and
feeling all the while that the enemy was overlapping and massing on both
flanks, and that he would have to retire his regiment before they could
close. And yet they held together to the last!

                   I pity mothers, too, down South,

                   Altho’ they sat amongst the scorners.

It is a curious experience, and one well worth trying, this ten days’
voyage. When you go on board at Liverpool, and look round at the first
dinner, there are probably not half a dozen faces you ever saw before.
By the time you walk out of the ship, bag in hand, on to the New York
landing-place, there are scarcely half a dozen with» whom you have not
a pleasant speaking acquaintance; while with a not inconsiderable number
you feel (unless you have had singularly bad luck) as if you must have
known them intimately for years, without having been aware of it. As
you touch the land, the express men and hotel touts rush on you, and the
spell is broken. The little society resolves itself at their touch into
separate atoms, which are whirled away, without time to wish one another
God-speed, into the turbulent ocean of New York life, never again to be
gathered together as a society in this world, for worship, for food, or
fun. “The present life of man, 0 king!” said a Saxon thane in Edwin’s
Witenagemot, when they were consulting whether Augustine and his priests
should be allowed to settle at Canterbury, “reminds me of one of your
winter feasts where you sit with your thanes and counsellors. The hearth
blazes in our midst, and a grateful heat is spread around, while storms
of rain and snow are raging without. A little sparrow enters at one door
and flies delighted around us, till it departs through the other. Such
is the life of man, and we are as ignorant of the state which went
before us as of that which will follow it. Things being so,” went on
the thane, “I feel that if this new faith can give us more certainty, it
deserves to be received,”--which last sentiment has, I allow, no bearing
on the present subject, nor, perhaps you will say, has the rest of it.
But somehow the old story came into my head so vividly as I was leaving
the steamer, that I feel like tossing it on to your readers, to see
what they can make of it; though I own, on looking at it again, I am not
myself clear as to the interpretation, or whether I am the sparrow or
the thane.

New York is more overwhelming than ever,--surely the most tremendous
human mill on this planet; but I must not begin upon it at the end of a
letter.



Life in Texas, Ranche on the Rio Grande, 16th September 1884.

It must be many years now (how they do shut up in these latter days
like a telescope) since I confided to you in these columns the joy--not
unmixed with reverence--of my first interview with that worthy small
person (I am sure he must be a person) the tumble-bug of the U.S.A. I
looked upon him in those days as on the whole the most industrious and
athletic little creature it had ever been my privilege to encounter. I
am obliged now to take most of that back, for to-day I have discovered
that he isn’t a circumstance to his Mexican cousin on this side the Rio
Grande. At any rate, the specimens I have met with here are not only
bigger, but work half as hard again, and about twice as quick. I was
sitting just now in the verandah in front of this ranche cabin, waiting
for the horses to be saddled-up at the corral just below, and looking
lazily, now eastward over the river and the wide Texan plains beyond,
fading away in the haze till the horizon looked like the Atlantic in a
calm, now westward to the jagged outline of the Sierra Nevada, gleaming
in the sunshine sixty miles away, when I became aware of something
moving at my feet. Looking down I found that it was a tumble-bug rolling
a ball of dirt he had put together, till it was at least four times
as big as himself, towards the rough stony descent just beyond the
verandah, at a pace which fairly staggered me. In a few seconds he was
across the floor, and in amongst the stones which lay thickly over
the slope beyond. Here his troubles began. First he pushed his ball
backwards over a big stone, on the further side of which it fell, and he
with it, headlong--no, not headlong, stern foremost--some five inches,
rolling over one another twice at the bottom. But he never quitted hold,
and began pushing away merrily again without a moment’s pause. Then he
ran the ball into a _cul-de-sac_ between two stones, some inches high.
After two or three dead heaves, which lifted the ball at least his own
length up the side of the stones--and you must remember, to judge of the
feat, that he was standing on his head to do it--he quitted hold,
turned round, and looked at the situation. I am almost certain I saw him
scratch his ear, or at least the side of his head, with his fore-claw.
In a second or two he fixed on again with his hind-claws, pushed the
ball out of the _cul-de-sac_, and continued his journey. If that bug
didn’t put two and two together, by what process did he get out of that
_cul-de-sac?_ “Cogito, ergo sum.” Was I wrong in calling him a person?
Well, I won’t trouble you further with particulars of his journey, but
he ran his big ball into his hole under a mesquite-bush, 19 1/2 yards
from the spot on the verandah where I first noticed him, in eleven
minutes and a few seconds by my watch. I made a calculation before
mounting that, comparing my bug with an average Mexican, five feet eight
inches high, and weighing ten stone, the ball of dirt would be at least
equal to a bale of cotton, eight feet in diameter, and weighing half
a ton, which the man would have to push or carry 2 1/2 miles in eleven
minutes, to equal the feat of his tiny fellow-citizen. In the depressed
condition of Mexico, might not this enormous bug-power be utilised
somehow for the benefit of the Republic?

I had barely finished my ciphering when I was called to horse, and in a
few minutes was riding across a vast plain, nearly bare of grass in this
drought, but dotted with mesquite-bushes, prickly pear, and other scrub,
so that the general effect was still green. The riding was rough, as
much loose stone lay about, and badgers’, “Jack Rabbits’” and other
creatures’ holes abounded; but the small Mexican horse I rode was
perfectly sure-footed, and I ambled along, swelling with pride at my
quaint saddle, with pummel some eight inches high, and depending lasso,
showing that for the time I was free of the honourable fraternity of
“gentlemen cow-punchers.” Besides myself, our party consisted of the
two ranche-men--an Englishman and an American, aged about thirty, old
comrades on long drives 1000 miles away to the North, but now
anchored on this glorious ranche on the Bio Grande--and a cowboy. The
Englishman’s yellow hair was cropped close to his head, and his fair
skin was burnt as red, I suppose, as skin will burn; the Marylander’s
black hair was as closely cropped, and his skin burnt an equally deep
brown. The cowboy, an English lad of about twenty, reconciled the two
types, having managed to get his skin tanned a deep red, relieved by
large dark brown freckles, from the midst of which his great blue eyes
shone out in comical contrast. I fear--

                   The very mother that him bare,

                   She had not known her child.

They were all attired alike, in broad felt sombreros, blue shirts, and
trousers thrust into boots reaching to the knees. Each had his lasso at
pummel, and between them they carried a rifle, frying-pan, coffee-pot,
big loaf, and forequarter of a porker--for we were out for a long day. A
more picturesque or efficient-looking group it would be hard to find.
I must resist the temptation of telling all we did or saw, and come at
once to our ride home shortly before sunset. The ranche-men and I were
abreast, and the cowboy a few yards behind, when we came across a bunch
of cattle, conspicuous amongst which strode along a stalwart yearling
bull calf, whose shining brindle hide and jaunty air showed that he, at
least, was not suffering from the scanty food which the drought has left
for the herds on these wide plains. He was already as big as his poor
raw-boned mother, who went along painfully picking at every shrub and
tuft in her path, to provide his evening meal at her own expense. Now
these dude calves (who insist on living on their parents, and will do
nothing for their own livelihood) can only be cured by the insertion of
a horse-ring in the upper lip, so that they cannot turn it up to take
hold of the maternal udder, and it is often in bad times a matter of
life or death to the cows to get them ringed. After a conference of
a few seconds, the Marylander shifted the rifle to the saddle of the
Englishman (already ornamented with the frying-pan and the coffee-pot),
and calling to the cowboy, dashed off for the bunch of cattle. Next
moment the cowboy shot past us at full speed, gathering up his lasso as
he went; the bull-calf was “cut out” of the bunch as if by magic, and
went straight away through mesquite-brush and prickly pears, at a pace
which kept his pursuers at their utmost stretch not to lose ground. It
was all they could do to hold it, never for a full mile getting within
lasso-reach of Boliborus, the ranche-man following like fate, upright
from shoulder to toe (they ride with very long stirrups), bridle hand
low, and right hand swinging the lasso slowly round his head, awaiting
his chance for a throw; the cowboy close on his flank; ranche-man number
two clattering along, pot, kettle, and rifle “soaring and singing” round
his knees, but availing himself of every turn in the chase, so as to
keep within thirty or forty yards. I, a bad fourth, but near enough to
see the whole and share the excitement (if, indeed, I hadn’t it all
to myself, the sport being to the rest a part of the daily round). The
crisis came just at the foot of a mound, up which Boliborus had gained
some yards, but in the descent had slackened his pace and the pursuers
were on him. The lasso flew from the raised hand, and was round his
neck, a dexterous twist brought the rope across his forelegs, and next
moment he was over on his side half, throttled. I was up in some five
seconds, during which his lassoer had him by the horns, ranche-man
number two was prone with all his weight upon his shoulders, and the
cowboy on his hind quarters, catching at his tail with his left hand.
That bull calf’s struggle to rise was as superb as Bertram Risingham’s
in _Rokeby_, and as futile; for the cowboy had caught his tail and
passed it between his hind legs, and by pulling hard kept one leg
brandishing aimlessly in the air, while the weight of the ranche-men
subdued his forequarters. The ring was passed through his upper lip,
and the lasso was off his neck in a few seconds more, and the ranche-men
turned to mount, saying to the cowboy, “Just hold on a minute.” The
cowboy passed the tail back between the hind legs, grasped the end
firmly, and stood expectant. Boliborus lay quiet for a second or two,
and then bounded to his feet, glaring round in rage and pain to choose
which, of his foes to go for, when he became aware of something wrong
behind, and looking round, realised the state of the case. Down went his
head, and round he went with a rush for his own tail end, but the tail
and boy were equal to the occasion, and the latter still holding on
tight by the former, sent back a defiant kick at the end of each rush,
which, however, never got within two feet of the bull’s nose, and could
be only looked upon as a proper defiance. Then Boliborus tried stealing
round to take his tail by surprise, but all to as little purpose, when
the ranche-men, who were now both mounted, to end the farce, rode round
in front of the beast, caught his eye, and cried, “Let go.” Whisking his
freed tail in the air he made a rush, but only a half-hearted one, at
the nearest, who just wheeled his horse, and as he passed administered
a contemptuous thwack over his loins with a lasso. Boliborus now stood
looking down his nose at the appendant ring, revolving his next move,
with so comic an expression that I burst into a roar of laughter, in
which the rest joined out of courtesy. This was too much for him, as
ridicule proves for so many two-legged calves, so he tossed his head in
the air, gave a flirt with his heels, and trotted off after his mother,
a sadder, and let us hope, wiser bull-calf; in any case, a ringed one,
and bound in future to get his own living.

On my ride home my mind was much occupied by that cowboy, who rode
along by me--telling how he had been reading _Gulliver’s Travels_ again
(amongst other things), found it wasn’t a mere boy’s book, and wanted
to get a Life of Swift--in his battered old outfit, for which no Jew in
Rag-Fair would give him five shillings. The last time I had seen him,
two years ago, he had just left Hallebury, a bit of a dandy, with very
tight clothes, and so stiff a white collar on, that on his arrival he
had been nicknamed “the Parson.”

At home he might by this time be just through responsions by the help
of cribs and manuals, having contracted in the process a rooted distaste
for classical literature. Possibly he might have pulled in his college
boat, and won a plated cup at lawn tennis, and all this at the cost
of, say, £250 a year. As it is, besides costing nothing, he can cook a
spare-rib of pork to a turn on a forked stick, hold a bull-calf by the
tail, and is voluntarily wrestling (not without certain glimmerings of
light) with _Sartor Resartus_. Which career for choice? How say you, Mr.
Editor?



Crossing the Atlantic, 4th September 1885.

A mug-wump! I should like to ask you, sir--not as Editor, not even as
English gentleman, but simply as vertebrate animal--what you would do
if a stranger were all of a sudden to call your intimate friends
“mug-wumps,” not obscurely hinting that you yourself laboured under
whatever imputation that term may convey? I don’t know what the effect
might have been in my own case, but that the story of O’Connell, as
a boy, shutting up the voluble old Dublin applewoman by calling her a
“parallelopiped,” rushed into my head, and set me off laughing. I
haven’t been able to learn more of the etymology of the word than that
it is said over here to have been first used in a sermon (?) by Mr. Ward
Beecher, and now denotes “bolters” or “scratchers,” as they were called
last autumn, or in other words, the Independents, who broke away from
the party machine of Republicanism and carried Cleveland. More power to
the “mug-wump’s” elbow, say I; and I only wish we may catch the
“mugwumps,” “mug-wumpism,” or whatever the name for the disease may be,
in England before long. One of the groups on the deck of the liner,
amongst whom I first heard the phrase, was a good specimen of the
machine-politician, a democrat of the Tammany Hall type. “You bet” I
stuck to him till I got at his candid account of the campaign of last
autumn, most interesting to me, but I fear not so to the general English
reader, so I will only give you his concluding sentence:--“Well,” with a
long suck at the big cigar he was half-eating, half-smoking, “I tell you
it was about the thinnest ice you ever saw before we were over,--but, _I
got to land!_” From what I heard on board and since, I believe the
President is doing splendidly; witness his peremptory order for the
great ranche-men to clear out of the Reserves which they had leased from
the Indians, and fenced to the extent of some millions of acres; the
righteousness of which presidential action is proved (were proof needed)
by the threatened resistance of General B. Butler, one of the largest
lessees. I can see too clearly looming up a determined opposition to the
President’s Civil Service reform from politicians of both parties,
mainly on the ground that he is “establishing a class” in these U.S.--a
policy which “the Fathers” abhorred and guarded against, and which their
only legitimate heirs, the machine politicians, will fight to the death.
You may gauge the worth of this opposition by contrasting their two
principal arguments--(1) Nine-tenths of the work of the Departments
(Post Office, Customs, etc.) can be learnt just as well in three months
as in ten years; and (2) the other tenth, requiring skilled and
experienced officers, has never been interfered with by either side.
But, if argument two is sound, _cadit quostio_, as there is _ex
hypothesi_ already a permanent class of civil servants, I conclude that
were I an American I would accept “mug-wump” as a title of honour
instead of resenting it, and help to get up a “Mug-wump” club in every
great city.

We had a splendid crossing, deck crowded all the way, and the company
gloriously cosmopolitan and communicative during the short intervals
between the orthodox four full meals a day. There is surely no place in
the world where that universal instinct, the desire to get behind
the scenes of one’s neighbours’ lives, is so easily and abundantly
gratified. Here is one of my rather odd discoveries. On reaching
the deck, after my bath on the first morning, for the tramp before
breakfast, I was joined by a fine specimen of an old Yorkshireman. It
seems we had met years ago, at some political or social gathering,
and as he looked in superb health and fit to fight for his life, I
congratulated. Yes, he said, it was all owing to his having discovered
how to pass his holiday. He used to go to some northern seaside place,
one as bad as the other, for “whenever the wind blew on shore you might
as well be living in a sewer.” So he saved enough one year to buy a
return-ticket on a Cunard liner, calculating that whatever way the wind
blew he must be getting sea-air all the time. He has done it every year
since, having found that besides sea-air he gets better food and company
than he could ever command at home. My next “find” was a pleasant
soldierly-looking man who called to me from the upper deck to come up
and see a sword-fish chasing a whale. Alas! I arrived too late. The
uncivil brutes had both disappeared by the time I got up; but I was much
consoled by the talk which ensued with my new acquaintance. He was a
Lieutenant of Marines in the Admiral’s flag-ship off Palermo in King
Bomba’s last days, and was sent ashore to arrest and bring on board all
sailors found with the Garibaldini. He seems to have found it necessary
to be present himself at the battle of Metazzo (I think that was
the name) and at the storming of the town afterwards, in which the
Garibaldini suffered severely. The dead were all laid out before the
gate after the town was taken, and he counted no less than seventy
bluejackets amongst them! They used to drop over the sides of the ships
and swim ashore, or smuggle themselves into the bum-boats which came
off to the fleet with provisions. No wonder that we have been popular in
Italy ever since.

Then, attracted by a crowd on the fore part of the deck, roped off to
divide steerage from saloon passengers, I became one of a motley
group assisting at a sort of moral “free-and-easy,” got up for the 300
steerage folk by two ecclesiastics, whom I took at first for Romish
priests from their costume. I found I was mistaken, and that they were
the Principal and a Brother of “the Fraternity of the Iron Cross,” an
order of the American Episcopal Church, which, it seems, has taken root
in several of the large cities. The Brethren are vowed to “poverty,
purity, and temperance” (or obedience, I am not sure which); and these
two were crossing in the steerage to comfort and help the poor folk
there--no pleasant task, even in so airy a ship and such fine weather.
One can imagine what power this kind of fellowship must give the Iron
Cross Brethren with their rather sad fellow-passengers, to whom they
could say--one of them, indeed, did say it--“We are just as poor as the
poorest of you, for we own no property of any kind, and never can
own any till our deaths.” This Brother (a strapping young fellow of
twenty-five, who I found had been an athlete at Oxford) waxed
eloquent to them on his experiences in Philadelphia, especially on the
working-men Brethren there. One of these, a big, rough chap, with a
badly broken nose, he had rather looked askance at, first, till he found
that the broken nose had been earned in a rough-and-tumble fight with a
fellow who was ill-using a woman. Now they were the closest friends, and
he looked on the broken nose as more honourable than the Victoria Cross,
and hoped none of the men there would fail to go in for that decoration
if they ever got the same chance.

In melancholy contrast to the Iron Cross Brethren were two other
diligent workers in quite another kind of business. They haunted the
smoking-room from breakfast till “lights out,” officious to help to
arrange the daily sweepstakes on the ship’s run; gloating over, and
piling caressingly as they rattled down on the table, the dollars and
half-crowns; always on the watch and ready to take a hand at cards, just
to accommodate gents with whom time hung heavily. Bagmen, they were
said to be; but I doubt if they travel for any industry except plucking
pigeons on their own account--unmistakable Jews of a low type, who never
looked any man in the face:--

               In their eyes that stealthy gleam,

                   Was not learned of sky or stream,

               But it has the hard, cold glint

                   Of new dollars from the mint.

Their industry was pursued cautiously, as the fine old captain is known
to hold strong views about gambling, and there was less on this ship
than any other I have crossed on. No baccarat-table going all day, with
excited youngsters punting their silver (gold, too, now and then) over
the shoulders of the players,--only a quiet hand at euchre or poker at
a corner table, in the afternoon and after dinner; but even with
such straitened opportunities, youngsters may be plucked to a fairly
satisfactory figure. From £10 to £20 was often at stake on one deal at
poker, and, I was told, not seldom much higher sums. I saw myself one
mere boy inveigled into blind-hookey for a minute or two while the poker
party was gathering. He won the first cut; and two minutes later I
saw “Iscariot Ingots, Esq., that highly respectable man,” looking
abstractedly across the room, and dreamily gathering up a large handful
of silver which the boy rattled down as he flung off to take his seat at
the poker-table; and so on, and so on.

It occurs to one to ask, not without some indignation, why this sort of
thing is allowed on these Atlantic steamers. My own observation confirms
the general belief that professionals cross on nearly every boat; and,
on every boat, there are youngsters fresh from school or college, out of
leading-strings for the first time, and with considerable sums in their
pockets. It is a bad scandal, and might be stopped with the greatest
ease. Prohibit all cards, except whist for small points in the
smoking-room; and let it be the purser’s or some other officer’s duty
to see the rule enforced. As things stand, I do not know of a more
dangerous place for youngsters--American or English--than an Atlantic
steamer.

One never gets past Sandy Hook, I think, without some new sensation.
This time, for me, it was the harbour buoys, each of which carried a
brilliant electric lamp. They are lighted from the shore!



Notes from the West, Cincinnati, 24th September 1886.

I never come to this country without stumbling over some startling
differences between our kin here and ourselves, which it puzzles me to
account for. Take this last. Some days ago, I met a young Englishman
from a Western ranche. He had run down some six hundred miles, from
Kansas City, into which he had brought a “bunch” of steers from the
ranche. As he would not be wanted again for a fortnight, he had taken
the opportunity of looking in on his friends down South. In our talk the
question of railway fares turned up. “Oh, yes,” he said, “the fare is
$25; but I only paid $16.”

“How is that?”

“Why, I just went to the ‘ticket-scalpers’,’ right opposite the railway
dépôt--here is their card (handing it to me); and, you see, my ticket is
to Chatanooga; so I might go on for another hundred and fifty miles if I
wanted to.” There was the business card, “Moss Brothers, ticket-brokers,
opposite central dépôt, Kansas City, members of the Ticket Brokers’
Union.” It went on to say that every attention is paid to travellers,
inquiries made, and information given, by these enterprising Hebrews;
and on the back, a list of the towns to which they could issue tickets,
including nearly every important centre in the Northern and Western
States. Since then I have made inquiries at several towns, and find that
the “scalper” is an institution in every one of them; and, apart from
the saving of money, is much in favour with the travelling public, on
account of his civility and intelligence. The ordinary railway clerk is
a remarkably short-tempered and ill-informed person, out of whom you can
with difficulty extract the most trifling piece of information, even as
to his own line; while the despised “scalper” across the road (generally
a Jew) will take any amount of trouble to find out how you can “make
connections,” while furnishing you with a ticket, which he guarantees,
at a third less, on the average, than his legitimate but morose rival
in “the dépôt.” But the strangest thing of all is, that even the railway
directors seem to think it all right; or, at any rate, that it is not
worth their while to try to stop this traffic. One friend, a first-rate
business man, actually said that he should have no scruple what, ever in
going to the “scalpers” when off his own system, over which, of course,
he is “dead-headed.” I heard several explanations of the phenomenon, the
only plausible one being that it is impossible to control the enormous
issues of cheap excursion tickets which are made by all the main lines.
But surely, then, the question occurs, “Why impossible!” At any rate,
the average Briton is inclined to think that if such establishments
appeared opposite the Euston Square or Waterloo termini, they would
soon hear something from Mr. Moon and Mr. Ralph Dutton not to their
advantage.

I gleaned other items of information from my young friend from Kansas
which may be useful to some of your readers, now that there is scarcely
a family in England (so it seems to me, at least) which is not sending
out one or more of its younger members to try their fortunes in the
Far West. This, for instance, seems worth bearing in mind: When a young
fellow comes out from home, he shouldn’t go and hire himself out at once
to a farmer. If he does, he’ll find they’ll make the winter jobs for
an Englishman pretty tough. He’ll get all the hardest work laid out for
him, and mighty poor pay at the end. Let him go and board with a farmer.
Any one will be glad to take him for a few dollars. Then he can learn
all he wants, and they’ll be glad of his help, because they’ll see it’s
a picnic. If you like it, you can buy and settle down. If not, you can
just pull out, and go on somewhere else.

The administration of justice on the plains is still in a primitive
condition. The difficulty of getting a jury of farmers together makes
a gaol delivery a troublesome matter. Another youngster from Dakota
illustrated this from his section. There was a turbulent member of the
community who, after committing other minor offences, at last got lodged
in the shanty which does office for a gaol, on the serious charge of
a murderous attack on a girl who refused any longer to receive his
attentions, and on her father when he came to the rescue. He had lain
in gaol for some weeks, waiting for a judge and jury, when 4th July came
round. The Sheriff-Constable, with all the rest of the neighbours, was
bound for the nearest railway-station, some ten miles off, where the
anniversary of “the glorious Fourth” was to be commemorated, with
trotting marches and other diversions. He had one other prisoner in
charge, and so, after weighing the matter well, and taking the length
of their incarceration into account, came to the ingenious conclusion to
let them out for the day, each going bail for the return of the other on
the following day. On the morrow, however, it was found that the chief
culprit had not turned up, and the fathers of the little community
gathered in indignant council to consider what was to be done. After
some debate the Sheriff-Constable gave it as his opinion that, on the
whole, Dogberry’s advice was sound, and they should let him go, and
thank God they were rid of a knave, “the country having spent too much
already over the darned cuss.” To this the _patres conscripti_
agreed, and went home to their farms. Even stranger is another
well-authenticated story from one of the most active and important of
the new cities in the North-West. Amongst the first settlers there was
one who had dabbled in real estate, and grown with the growth of the
city, until he had become “one of our principal citizens.” No one seemed
to know whether he was a lawyer by profession, and he never conducted a
case in Court. But one thing was quite clear, that he was intimate with
all the judges, had the _entrée_ to their private rooms, and, especially
in the case of the Judges of the Supreme Court, scarcely ever failed to
avail himself of this privilege when the Courts were sitting. He had a
capital cook and good horses, which were always freely at the service
of the representatives of justice. Gradually it began to be quietly
understood, no one quite knew how, amongst suitors, that it was
possible, and very desirable, to interest the gentleman in question in
their cases. He was ready, it would seem, to accept a retaining-fee.
His charge was fixed at a very moderate percentage on the value of the
property in dispute, which nobody need pay unless they thought it worth
while. Moreover, the system was one of “No cure, no pay.” He gave every
one an acknowledgment in writing of the amount paid in their respective
cases, with an undertaking to return the full sum in the event of their
proving unsuccessful. It therefore naturally appeared to the average
Western suitor about as profitable an investment as he could make.
Strange to say, this queer practice seems to have gone on for years, and
no shadow of suspicion ever fell on this “principal citizen,” whatever
might have been the case as to his friends the judges. The strong
individuality and secretiveness which marks the Western character may
probably account for the fact that during his life no one would seem to
have taken any public notice of this peculiar industry. If a suitor was
successful, he was content; if not, he got back his money, and it was
nobody’s affair but his own. Well, the good man died, and was buried,
and his executors, in administering his estate, were astonished to
find bundles of receipts from suitors of all classes and degrees,
acknowledging the repayment to them of sums varying in amount from $5
and upwards “in the case of Brown v. Jones,” “in the matter of United
States v. Robinson,” “_ex parte_ White,” etc. This led to further
inquiry, and the facts came ~ gradually to light. The sagacious testator
had, in fact, taken his percentage _from both sides_ in almost every
case of any importance which had been heard in the Courts for years. He
had never mentioned suit or suitor to any of the judges, his visits to
them being simply for the purpose of asking them to dinner, offering
them a drive, or a bed if they were on circuit away from home, or
interchanging gossip as to stocks, railways, or public affairs. And so
for years five honest men had been presiding in the different Courts,
entirely innocent of the fact that almost every suitor was looking upon
each of them as a person who had received valuable consideration for
deciding in his favour. I own that my experience, though, of course,
narrow, is decidedly favourable as to the ability and uprightness of the
judges in out-of-the-way districts; so that nothing but what I could not
but regard as quite unimpeachable evidence would have satisfied me that
a whole-community of litigants should have gone on paying black-mail in
this egregiously stupid manner.

I was considerably astonished, and a little troubled, to find so many
of my friends among Northern Republicans--men who had gone through and
borne the burden of the War of Secession--not, indeed, sympathising with
the Irish, whom they dislike and distrust more than we do, but saying:
“Oh, you had better let them have their own way. Look at our experience
of twenty years after the war. Until we let the Southern States
have their own way, and withdrew the troops, and threw over the
carpetbaggers, we had no peace; and now they are just as quiet as
New England.” To which, of course, I made the obvious reply: “Let
the seceding States have their own way, did you? Why, I had always
understood that they went out because you elected a free-soil President,
pledged to oppose any further extension of their peculiar institution,
and that at the end of the war that institution had not only been
confined within its old limits, but had absolutely disappeared. The
parallel would have held if you had said to Mr. Jefferson Davis and his
backers in the spring of 1861, ‘Do what you please as to your negroes;
take them where you will; it is a purely domestic matter for you to
settle in your own way.’ Instead of this, you said, ‘You shall not take
your slaves where you please, and you shall not go out of the Union.’
In the same way, we have to say now to the Irish, ‘You shall not do what
you please with the owners of property in Ireland, and you shall not go
out of the Union.’”

You will be glad to hear that, wherever I went, there seemed to be
the expectation of a revival of trade in the near future. I can see no
ground myself for the expectation, so long as all industry remains
in its present competitive phase, and the power of production goes on
increasing instead of diminishing. Why should men not desire as eagerly
to take each other’s trade this next year as they did last year? But
the knowing people think otherwise, and I suppose that is good for
something.



Westward Ho! 2nd April 1887.

It must be nearly thirty years since I first wrote to you over
this signature, but never before except in long vacations, and from
outlandish parts. Why not keep to a good rule? you may ask, at this
crowded time of year. Well, the fact is I really want to say something
as to this “Westward Ho!” gadfly, which seems to have bitten young
England with a vengeance in these last months. I am startled, not to
say alarmed, at the number of letters I get from the parents and
guardians--generally professional men--of youngsters eagerly bent on
cattle-ranches, horse-ranches, orange-groves in Florida, vineyards,
peach and strawberry-raising, and I know not what other golden dreams of
wealth quickly acquired in the open air, generally with plenty of wild
sport thrown in. I suppose they write from some fancy that I know a good
deal about such matters. That is not so; but I do know a very little
about them, and may possibly do some good by publishing that little just
now in your columns.

First, then, as to cattle and horse-raising on ranches. This is
practically a closed business on any but a small scale, and as part of
farm work. All the best ranche-grounds are in the hands of large and
rich companies, or millionaires, with whom no newcomer can compete. It
will, no doubt, be a valuable experience for any young man to work for
a year or two on a big ranch as a cowboy; but he must be thoroughly able
to trust his temper, and to rough it in many ways, or he should not try
it. At the end, if prudent, he will only have been able to save a few
hundred dollars. But this is not the kind of thing, so far as I see,
that our youngsters at all expect or want. Orange-groves are excellent
and profitable things, no doubt, and there are parts in Florida and
elsewhere where there is still plenty of land fit for this purpose,
though the choice spots are probably occupied. But an orange-grove
will not give any return till the sixth year, cautious people say the
seventh.

Vineyards may, with good luck, be giving some return in the third or
fourth year; but the amount of hard work which must be put into the soil
in breaking up, clearing out stumps, and ploughing, even if there is
no timber to fell, is very serious; and the same may be said of
peach-orchards and early, fruit and vegetable-rearing. Moreover, the
choice places for such industry, such as Lookout Mountain, are for the
most part occupied. In a word, though it is quite possible to do well
in other industries, and in ordinary farming, nothing beyond a decent
living can be earned, without at any rate as free an expenditure of
brain and muscle as high farming requires at home. On the other hand,
sport, except for rich ranche-men who can command waggons, horses, and
men, and travel long distances for it, is not to be had generally, and
apt to disappoint where it can be had.

So much for the working side of the problem. The playing side--outside
whisky-shops, which I will assume the young Englishman means to
keep clear of--ought also to be looked fairly in the face before the
experiment is tried. Perhaps the most direct way to bring it home
to inquirers will be to quote from the letter of a young English
public-school boy who has lately finished his first year as a cowboy on
the cattle-ranche of one of the big companies:--

_Friday night_ we had quite a time. We went to an exhibition of the home
talent of----, and really of all shows this was the worst I ever saw.
One man, the town barber, and our greatest “society man,” played a
nigger, and played it so well that one could not help fancying he has at
one time been a “profesh.” The rest were so dull and such sticks that
it made him shine more than ever. After the home talent, there was a
“social hop,” at which Jerry and I shone as being the “bored young men.”
 You can, of course, see why I was bored; and Jerry, he is from Ohio, and
of course------ cannot compete with Ohio. However, as Jerry was somewhat
of a great man, the quadrilles being all called by him--i.e. he stood
on the stage and shouted, “balance all,” “swing your partners,” “lady’s
chain,” at the right time--we had to stay, and more or less to dance.
Jerry took great pains to find me partners worthy of a man who had
danced in a dress-coat. He did not succeed but once, when he introduced
me to a very lively little school-lady, “marm,” I should say; the rest
were very wooden in movement and conversation. The school-marm amused me
very much. She had not long returned from the--------- University, where
all the young ladies, though they met the other sex at school, were not
allowed to speak to them at other times. The girls were allowed to give
dances, but she and three or four others thought that a “hen-pie” dance
was too much of a fraud, so they contrived a plan by which they could
get three or four dancing men in without going to the door. They
fastened a pulley on to the beam where the bell hung, and with the aid
of a clothes-basket and a rope they spoiled the “hen-pie” with two or
three young men. This plan worked well several times, till one night
three or four of them were exerting themselves to get a very heavy
boy up, when instead of a boy they perceived the bearded face of the
head-master. In horror they turned loose the rope and fled, leaving
him twelve feet from the ground, hanging on by his fingers to the
window-sill, from which, as no one would respond to his call for help,
he finally dropped. The young lady told it much better than I have.
Jerry was very popular as a “caller.” I noticed he understood his
audience well, and whenever they got a figure they didn’t know, he came
in with “grand chain,” which they all knew and performed very nicely; so
you would see a whole set lost in the intricate feat of “visiting” (say)
and all muddled up, when you would hear the grand voice of Jerry, “grand
chain,” and all the dancers would smile and go to it, and Jerry was
quite the boss. We however lost our reputation as good young men, as
towards midnight we were overcome with a great thirst; so wicked I, a
hardened sinner, persuaded the social barber to let me have half-a-pint
of whisky; and J------ and I were caught in the barber’s shop, eating
tinned oysters with our pocket-knives, and biscuits, and indulging
in whisky-and-water. We were caught by three young men who had “got
religion” last fall, and who were, of course, highly shocked; but I
think they would have overcome all their scruples but for the
stern mothers in the background, and they not only envied us our
whisky-and-water, but also our mothers. Half the fight in drinking, I
think, is to have been “raised” to look upon it as an every-day
luxury, and not as a thing to be had as a great treat on the sly. Well,
good-bye! I have written a lot of rubbish, but beyond that am fatter
than I have ever been in America.

This will probably give readers a pretty clear notion of the social
life available in the West. It is, as they will see at a glance, utterly
unlike anything they have been used to. If this kind of social life
(and there is something to be said for it) is what they want, in the
interludes of really hard manual labour and rough board and lodging, let
them start by all means, and they may do very well out West. Otherwise
they had better look the thing round twice or thrice before starting. In
any case, no young man ought to take more ready money with him than will
just keep him from starving for about a month.

If he cannot make his hands keep him by that time, he has no business,
and will do no good, in the West.



The Hermit, Rugby, Tennessee, 19th September 1887.

I have always had a strong curiosity about hermits--remember I paid
a shilling as a small boy, when I could ill afford it, to see one,
somewhere up by Hampstead, a cruel disappointment--used to make shy
approaches to lonely turnpike keepers before they were abolished, with
no success; finding them always, like Johnson’s “hoary sage,” inclined
to cut sentiment short with, “Come, my lad, and drink some beer,” I came
to the conclusion long since that the genuine hermit is as extinct as
the dodo in the British Isles. I was almost excited, therefore, the
other morning, to get a note on a dirty scrap of paper here, asking for
the loan of a book on geology, for, on inquiry, I found it came from
“the Hermit.” He had suddenly appeared to the man who drives the hack,
and sent it in by him. No one could tell me anything more except that
the writer was “the Hermit,” and lived, no one knew how, in a shanty
four miles away in the forest. I got the book out of the library,
“loaned” a pony, and in due course found myself outside a dilapidated
snake-fence, surrounding some three acres of half-cleared forest, and
the rudest kind of log-hut; evidently the place I was in search of, but
no hermit. While I was meditating my next move, a dismal howl, like,
I should think, the “lulilooing” of Central Africa, came from out the
neighbouring bush. I shouted myself, and in a few moments “the
Hermit” appeared, and certainly at first glance “filled the bill”
 satisfactorily. His head was a tangled mass of long hair and beard, out
of which shone two big, blue eyes; a long, lean figure, slightly
bent, and clothed in a tattered shirt, and trousers which no old Jew
clothesman would have picked off a dunghill. I explained my errand and
produced the book.

He thanked me, excused his dress; had other clothes, he said, in
the house, which he would have put on had he expected me; was rather
excited, so I must excuse him, as his “buck” had gone right off, in
disgust, he believed, at the smallness of his flock, as he had only
eight ewes. “Buck” I found to be _Anglice_ “ram,” and that it was in the
hope of luring back the insufficiently married lord of his flock that
he had been howling when I came up. On my doubting whether such a call
would not be more likely to speed the flight of the truant “buck,” he
rushed awray in the other direction and uplifted it again; and in two
or three minutes the eight ewes, with several lambs, were all round him,
rubbing against his legs, while an Angora goat looked on with dignity
from some yards off. From our talk I found that he was a Shrewsbury man,
knew three or four languages, and mathematics up to the differential
calculus; found England “too noisy,” and, moreover, could get no land
there; had come out and gone to the agricultural class at Cornell
University; had now bought this bit of land, on which he could live
well, as he was a vegetarian (pointing round to some corn, turnips,
etc., in his enclosure); had indigestion at first, but now had found
out how to make bread which agreed with him. His trouble was the forest
hogs, which were always watching to get at his crops, and his fence,
having weak places, would not keep them out, so he had to be always on
the watch. If he had any one to keep out the hogs, he could go and find
his “buck,” he said, wistfully. The better man within me here was moved
to offer to keep watch and ward against hogs while he sought his “buck”;
but, on the whole, as the sun was already westering, and I had doubts
as to when he might think of relieving guard, my better man did not
prevail, and I changed the subject to the book I had brought. He glanced
at the title-page, was pleased to find that it was of recent date, as
his geology was rusty. Then, as he did not invite me into his log-hut,
I rode away. Next evening, as I was strolling down our street, my
attention was called to the noticeboard outside the chief store, kept by
an excellent, kindly New Englander, Tucker by name, who very liberally
allows any of his neighbours to use it. Here I found the following
notice from “the Hermit,” which had been sent up by the hackman, to be
posted. It opens, you will remark, in the true prophetic style. It ran:
“Ho! all ye passers by! Strayed--like a fool!--a Ram (a male sheep,)
butts like a nipper, and runs after! God will bless the seer if he
lets Isaac Williams, of Sedgemoor Road, know. That is all. Please, Mr.
Tucker, post this. Oh, I forgot,--Buy of Tucker!” I think you will agree
that I have struck a _bona fide_ hermit in my old age.

But to return to my loafing idyll. Perhaps, if I had to select out of
several the ideal loafing haunt in these parts, it would be the verandah
of our doctor, another bright New Englander, a graduate of Harvard, and
M.D., who, after fourteen years’ practice at Boston, was driven South
by threatenings of chest troubles, and happily pitched on this tableland
amongst the mountains. Not that he is a loaf-brother, except on rare
occasions; a man diligent in his business, and prompt to answer any
professional call; but as nobody seems ever to be ill, his leisure is
abundant. The greater part of this he spends in the study and practice
of grape-culture, in which he has, in the five years since he took
it up, earned a high reputation. But in these autumn months, all the
pruning, thinning, and tending are over in the forenoon, and in the
hours which follow, which are delightfully hot and enjoyable to all
sun-lovers, he is generally to be found in his verandah, well supplied
with rocking-chairs. In front of the verandah is his principal vineyard,
sloping south, and at the bottom of the slope, right away to the distant
mountain-range (with Pike’s Peak soaring to the clouds, the centre
of the military telegraph system in the war, from which messages were
flashed to Look-out Mountain, over Chattanooga, in the critical days
of battle, before Sherman started on his march to the sea), wave beyond
wave, as it were, of many-coloured forest, each taking fresh tints as
clouds flit over, and the triumphant old sun slopes to the West. There
one may find the doctor in his rocker, his feet higher than his head on
one of the verandah supports--and all who have learnt to appreciate the
rocking-chair will agree that “heels up” is half the battle--his tobacco
and a book on vines on a small table by his side, and over his head,
within easy reach, a rope depending from the verandah roof. At first I
took it for the common domestic bell-pull, but soon discovered its
more subtle bearing on the luxury of loafing. The doctor had been much
exercised by the visits of birds of outrageous appetite to his “Norton’s
Virginia,” and other precious vines. At first he had resorted to his
double-barrelled gun and small shot--indeed, it yet stood in a corner of
the balcony, loaded--but had soon abandoned it. Its use was compatible
neither with his love for birds nor the enjoyment of his rocking-chair.
So, by an ingenious arrangement, he had hung bells at five or six points
in the vineyard, connecting each and all with the depending-rope, so
that no sooner did a bird settle with a view to lunch or dinner, than it
was saluted by a peal from a bell close by, which sent it skirling back
to the forest, while the doctor had neither to lower his heels nor take
the pipe from his mouth.

Watching the entire discomfiture of the birds adds, I must own, a keener
zest even to the delicious view and air, and to the racy stories of
Western life poured out by one or another of the loaf-brethren. A
specimen or two may amuse your readers. Placard over the piano in a
favourite resort of Texan cowboys: “Don’t shoot the musician; he is
doing his best.” Cowboy entering the cars at midnight, thermometer below
zero, after snorting for a minute, lets down a window, is remonstrated
with, and replies, “Wal, I’d as soon sleep with my head in a dead
horse as in this car with the windows shut!” Another tale I repeat with
hesitation, though it was seriously vouched for by the narrator as going
on in his neighbourhood, and within his own cognisance. An eccentric
settler, who played the fiddle powerfully, and lived next a man who had
thrown a bridge over a creek, in respect of which the knotty question
of “right of way” had arisen between them, read, or discovered somehow,
that excessive vibration was the cause of the fall of bridges, and that
a well-known railway iron bridge had been distinctly felt to vibrate to
the notes of a fiddle, all that was necessary being to find the right
chord and play up. Thereupon he set himself on the peccant bridge,
and fiddled till he had hit on the sympathetic chord to his own
satisfaction; since which he has put in all his spare time at the
bridge, fiddling on the right chord and looking for the signs of a crash
and the discomfiture of his neighbour. A mad world, my masters! And
lucky for the world, say I. But for the cracked fellows going up and
down, what a dull place it would be!

The whole neighbourhood, or, at any rate, the men of hunting age,
have suddenly been roused into unwonted excitement and activity by the
presence of a specimen of the larger carnivora close to this town. It is
either a large panther or what they call a Mexican lion--at any rate, as
big a beast of this kind as are bred over here, as his footprint, seen
of many persons, clearly proves. He has been heard to roar by numbers,
and Giles, the saw-mill man, who, passing along wholly unarmed, saw him
gliding through the bush close by, puts him at five feet from nose to
tail (root, not tip) at least. Giles adds that, at the sight, his hair
stood up and distinctly lifted his straw hat--so perhaps his evidence
must be discounted considerably. Any way, a party, now collecting dogs
to bring him to bay, start to-morrow at dawn to give an account of
him. It is more than a year since one has ventured down this way. A
slaughter-house which has lately been set up in the woods near by would
seem to have drawn him. Let us hope that no cunning old sportsman will
watch there to-night and bag him single-handed, and I may possibly have
to tell you of a memorable hunt next week.



American Opinion on the Union, SS. Umbria, 5th October 1887.

That panther-hunt went off in a “fizzle.” Our contingent of determined
sportsmen kept tryst at daylight, fully armed, but some neighbours who
were to bring the proper dogs failed. The sun rose, broad and bright,
and so, after a short advance in skirmishing order over the ground
where the sawmill man had been so scared--just to save their credit
as Nimrods--the chase was abandoned; wisely, I should think, for I
can scarcely imagine a more hopeless undertaking than the pursuit of a
panther in a Tennessee forest in broad daylight without dogs. Whether
Sawyer Giles had grounds for his scare, and what was the length of
that panther, must now remain for all time in that useful category of
insoluble questions--like the identity of “Junius,” and Queen Mary’s
guilt--which innocently employ so much of the spare time of the human
race.

I have been back for the last fortnight “in amongst the crowd of men,”
 and if the things they have done are but “earnest of the things that
they shall do,” well, our grandchildren will have a high old time of it!
At any rate, our cousins hold this faith vigorously. Take, for instance,
the case of a leading dry-goods man who has been sitting by me in the
smoking-room of this ship, which has been carrying us for the last four
days against a head-wind at the average rate of twenty miles an hour.
Recollect, sir, that this ship is about 400 feet in length, of 8800 tons
register, with engines of 14,000 horse-power, and must at this moment be
as heavy as (say) lour big luggage-trains. I ventured to suggest that,
whatever may be in store for us in the way of flying, science has about
said her last word in the direction of driving steam or any other ships
on the Atlantic. I felt almost inclined to resent the pity tinged
with scorn with which he said, “Why, _sir!_ this is the hundred and
twenty-eighth time I have crossed this ocean. The first time it took me
twenty-two days. This vessel does it in six days and a half, and I shall
do it in half that time yet,--yes, _sir!_” My friend must be at least
sixty!

The New York hotels were crammed as I came through with men who had
come from all parts of the States for the yacht-race. I went out on a
friend’s steam-yacht on the Thursday, when the second day’s race should
have come off. There was fog and no wind off Sandy Hook, so after
lying-to in a lopping sea for a couple of hours, we just steamed
back, some hundred of us. But the game had been well worth the candle.
Anything so beautiful as the movements of those two yachts in and out
amongst the expectant fleet of sightseers, I never beheld. There were
several old yachtsmen (Americans) on board, who seemed rather to think
the _Thistle_ the more perfect of the two, and when the second and
deciding race had been sailed, still guessed that if their Commodore,
Pain, or Malcolm Forbes had sailed the _Thistle_, she would not have
been twelve, or any, minutes behind.

As to more serious matters, you may be sure I lost no chance of talking
on our crisis with every intelligent American or Canadian,--and I
happened upon a great number of the latter. Amongst the majority of
Americans I was much struck, and, I own, surprised, to find a sort of
lazy fatalism prevailing, so far as they troubled their heads at all
about the Irish question. Not a man of them believed in the tyranny of
the British Government or the wrongs of the Irish; but they seemed to
think it was somehow destiny. They knew the Irish--were likely to have
at least as bad a time with them as we are having--but, unless you made
up your minds to shoot, there was no putting them down or bringing them
to reason. They had had to shoot--in New York during the war, and at
other times--and might probably have to shoot again \ but then, that
was over vital matters. We should never make up our minds to shoot over
letting them have a Parliament at Dublin, and so they would get it by
sheer insolence and intrigue. Such views would have depressed me had
I not found, on the other hand, that the few men who had mastered
the situation, without a single exception saw that it was a matter,
nationally, of life or death, and hoped our Government would shrink
from no measure necessary to restore the rule of law, and preserve the
national life.

Amongst the Canadians, on the other hand, I did not happen upon a single
Home-ruler--in fact, was obliged to own to myself that they seemed
to set more store by the unity of the Empire than we do in the
as-yet-United Kingdom. Indeed, if my acquaintances are at all
representative of the views of our Canadian fellow-subjects, I feel
very sure that the slight bond which holds the Dominion to us would
part within a few months of the triumph of the Home-rule agitation.
This possible fiasco, however, did not seem to them much worth thinking
about; but what was really exercising them was the probability of a
more intimate union or federation with the Mother-country. For defensive
purposes, I was glad to find that they saw no difficulty whatever;
believed, indeed, that that question was already solved. But all
felt that the really difficult problem was a commercial union, which,
nevertheless, must be managed somehow, if the Empire is to hold
together. On this there were wide differences of opinion, but, on the
whole, a decided inclination to a plan which I will endeavour to put in
a few words. It is, that every portion of the Empire shall be free, as
at present, to impose whatever tariff of customs it might think best
for raising its own revenue; but an agreed discount (say, ten per
cent) should be allowed on all goods the manufacture or product of the
Mother-country, or any of its possessions. Inasmuch, it was argued, as
such à plan would allow the free admission of all food and raw material,
it ought not to hurt the Free-trade susceptibilities of England, while
leaving the self-governing Colonies and India free to raise their own
revenue as might suit their own views or circumstances. On the other
hand, it would give an equal and moderate advantage to all subjects of
the Empire. A similar advantage might also, under this plan, be given to
importations made in ships belonging to any portion of the Empire.

You, sir, may very probably have heard of and considered this plan, as I
have been told that it, or one almost identical, has been submitted both
to the London Chamber of Commerce, and to the Colonial Office, by
Sir Alexander Galt. I do not remember, however, to have ever seen it
discussed in your columns, as I think it might be with advantage. One’s
brain possibly is not so fit for the examination of political problems
on even such a magnificent ship as the _Umbria_ as on shore; but “after
the best consideration I can give it,” it does seem to me to be a
solution which might go far to satisfy the scruples of all but fanatics
of the “buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market” gospel.

We have run 435 miles in the teeth of the wind, in the last twenty-four
hours.



EUROPE--1876 to 1895



A Winter Morning’s Ride

The proverb that “The early bird gets most worms” has no truer
application than in travelling, considered as a fine art. Of course to
him who uses locomotion as a mere method of getting from one place to
another, it matters nothing whether he starts at 3 A.M. or at noon. But
to the man who likes to get the most he can out of his life, and looks
upon a journey as an opportunity for getting some new insight into the
ways and habits and notions of his fellowmen, there is no comparison
between their value. The noonday travelling mood, like noonday light,
is commonplace and uniform; while the early morning mood, like the light
when it first comes, is full of colour and surprise. Such, at any rate,
has been my experience, and I never made an out-of-the-way early start
without coming upon one or more companions who gave me a new glimpse
into some corner of life, and whose experience I should have been the
poorer for having missed. My last experience in this matter is very
recent. In the midst of the wild days of last December I received an
unexpected summons on business to the north. My appointment was for
eleven o’clock on the morrow, 200 miles from London. It was too late to
make arrangements for leaving home at once, so I resolved to start
by the first morning train, which leaves Euston Square at 5.15 A.M.
Accordingly, soon after four next morning I closed the house door
gently behind me, and set out on my walk, not without a sense of the
self-approval and satisfaction which is apt to creep over early risers,
and others who pride themselves on keeping ahead of their neighbours.

It was a fine wild morning, with half a gale of wind blowing from the
north-west, and driving the low rain-clouds at headlong speed across the
deep clear sky and bright stars. The great town felt as fresh and sweet
as a country hillside. Not a soul in the streets but an occasional
solitary policeman, and here and there a scavenger or two, plying their
much-needed trade, for the wet mud lay inches deep. I was early at
the station, where a sleepy clerk was just preparing to open the
booking-offices, and a couple of porters were watering and sweeping
the floor of the big hall. Soon my fellow-passengers began to arrive,
labouring men for the most part, with here and there a clerk, or
commercial traveller, muffled to the eyes.

Amongst them, as they gathered round the fire, or took short restless
walks up and down the platform, was one who puzzled me not a little. He
had arrived on foot just before me, indeed I had followed him for the
last quarter of a mile through Euston Square, and had already begun
to speculate as to who he could be, and on what errand. But now that
I could get a deliberate look at him under the lights in the hall,
my curiosity was at once raised and baffled. He was a strongly built,
well-set young fellow of five feet ten or eleven, with clear gray eyes,
deep set under very straight brows. His hair was dark, and would have
curled but that it was cropped too short. He was clean shaved, so that
one saw all the lower lines of his face, which a thick nose, slightly
turned up, just hindered from being handsome. He wore a high sealskin
cap, a striped flannel shirt with turn down collars, and a slipknot
tie with a rather handsome pin. His clothes were good enough, but had a
somewhat dissipated look, owing perhaps to the fact that only one
button of his waistcoat was fastened, and that his boots, good broad
double-soled ones, were covered with dry mud. His whole luggage
consisted of the travelling-bag he carried in his hand, one of those
elaborate affairs which generally involve a portmanteau or two to
follow, but swelled out of all gentility and stuffed to bursting point.

An Englishman? I asked myself. Well, yes,--at any rate more like an
Englishman than anything else. A gentleman? Well, yes again, on the
whole; though not of our conventional type--at any rate a man of some
education, and apparently a little less like the common run of us than
most one meets.

Here my speculations were cut short by the opening of the ticket-window
by the sleepy clerk, and the object of them marched up and took a
third-class ticket for Liverpool. I followed his example. My natural
aversion to eating money raw in railway travelling inclining me to such
economy, apart from the interest which my problem was exciting in my
mind. I am bound to add that nothing could be more comfortable than the
carriages provided on the occasion for the third-class passengers of the
N.W.K. I followed the sealskin cap and got into the same carriage with
its owner. As good luck would have it, no one followed us. He put
his bag down in a corner, and stretched himself along his side of the
carriage with his head on it. I had time to look him well over again,
and to set him down in my own mind as a young English engineer, who had
been working on some continental railway so long as to have lost his
English identity somewhat, when he started up, rubbed his eyes, took a
good straight look at me, and asked if any one coming from abroad could
cut us off in the steamer that met this train. I found at once that I
was mistaken as to nationality.

I answered that no one could cut us off, as there was no straighter or
quicker way of getting to Liverpool than this; but that he was mistaken
in thinking that any steamer met the train.

Well, he didn’t know about meeting it, but anyway there was a steamer
which went right away from Liverpool about noon, for he had got his
passage by her, which he had bought at the tobacco-store near the
station.

He handed his ticket for the boat to me, as if wishing my opinion upon
it, which I gave to the effect that it seemed all right, adding that
I did not know that tickets could be bought about the streets as they
could be in America.

Well, he had thought it would save him time, perhaps save the packet, as
she might have sailed while he was after his ticket in Liverpool, which
town he didn’t know his way about. But now, couldn’t any one from the
Continent cut her off? He had heard there was a route by Chester
and Holyhead, which would bring any one who took it aboard of her at
Queenstown.

I answered that this was probably so, beginning to doubt in my mind
whether my companion might not, for all his straightforward looks and
ways, have come by the bag feloniously. Could it be another great jewel
robbery?

I don’t know whether he noticed any doubtful look in my eyes, but he
added at once that he was on the straight run from Heidelberg. He had
come from there to London in twenty-six hours.

I made some remark as to the beauty of Heidelberg, and asked if he knew
it well.

Why, yes, he said he ought to, for he had been a student at the
University there for the last nine months.

Why then was he on the straight run home? I ventured to ask. Term wasn’t
over?

No; term wasn’t over; but he had been arrested, and didn’t want to go
to prison at Strasburg, where one American student was in for about two
years already.

But how did he manage to get off? I asked, now thoroughly interested in
his story.

Well, he had just run his bail. When he was arrested he had sent for the
doctor at whose house he lodged to bail him out. That was what troubled
him most. He wouldn’t have the Herr Doctor slipped up anyway. He was
going to send the money directly he got home, and there were things
enough left of his to cover the money.

What was he arrested for?

For calling out a German student.

But I thought the German students were always fighting duels.

So they were, but only with swords, which they were always practising.
They were so padded when they fought that they could not be hurt except
just in the face, and the sword arm was so bandaged that there was no
play at all except from the wrist. You would see the German students
even when out walking, miles away from the town, keeping playing away
with their walking-sticks all the time, so as to train their wrists.

What was his quarrel about?

Well, it was just this. The American students, of whom there were a
large number there, kept pretty much to themselves, and no love was lost
between them and the Germans. They had an American Club to which they
all belonged, just to keep them together and see any fellow through who
was in a scrape. He and some of the American students were sitting
in the beer garden, close to a table of Germans. Forgetting the
neighbourhood, he had tilted his chair and leant back in it, and so
come against a German head. The owner jumped up, and a sharp altercation
followed, ending in the German’s calling him out with swords. This he
refused, but sent a challenge to fight with pistols by the President of
the Club, a real fine man, who had shot his two men down South before he
went to Heidelberg. The answer to this was his arrest, and arrest was
a very serious thing now. For some little time since, a German and an
American fought, with swords first and then with pistols. The American
had his face cut open from the eye right down across the mouth, but when
it came to pistols he shot the German, who died in an hour. So he was in
jail, and challenging with pistols had been made an offence punishable
by imprisonment, and that was no joke in a German military prison.

Did he expect the University authorities would send after him then?

No; but his folk were all in Germany for the winter. He had a younger
brother at Heidelberg who had taken his bag down to the station for him,
and would have let his father know, as he had told him to do. If he had
telegraphed the old gentleman might come straight off and stop him yet,
but he rather guessed he would he so mad he wouldn’t come. No; he didn’t
expect to see his folk again for three or four years.

But why? After all, sending a challenge of which nothing came was not so
very heinous an offence.

Yes, but it was the second time. He had run from an American university
to escape expulsion for having set fire to an outhouse. Then he went
straight to New York, which he wanted to see, and stopped till his money
was all gone. His father was mad enough about that.

I said plainly that I didn’t wonder, and was going to add something by
way of improving the occasion, but for a look of such deep sorrow which
passed over the boy’s face that I thought his conscience might well do
the work better than I could.

He opened his bag and took out a photograph, and then his six-shooter--a
self-cocking German one, he said, which was quicker and carried a
heavier ball than any he had seen in America; and then his pipes and
cigar tubes; and then he rolled a cigarette and lighted it; and, as the
dawn was now come, began to ask questions about the country. But all
in vain; back the scene he was running from came, do what he would. His
youngest brother, a little fellow of ten, was down with fever. He had
spoilt Christmas for the whole family. It would cut them up awfully. But
to a suggestion that he should go straight back he could not listen. No,
he was going straight through to California, the best place for him. He
had never done any good yet, but he was going to do it now. He had got
a letter or two to Californians from some of his fellow-students, which
would give him some opening. He wouldn’t see his people for four or five
years, till he got something to show them. He would have to pitch right
in, or else starve. He would go right into the first thing that came
along out there, and make something.

As we got further down the line the morning cleared, and we had many
fellow-passengers; but my young friend, as I might almost call him by
this time, stuck to me, and seemed to get some relief by talking of his
past doings and future prospect. I found that he had been at Würzburg
for a short time before going to Heidelberg, so had had a student’s
experience of two of the most celebrated German Universities. My own
ideas of those seats of learning, being for the most part derived from
the writings of Mr. Matthew Arnold, received, I am bound to own, rather
severe shocks from the evidently truthful experience of one medical
student.

He had simply paid his necessary florins (about £1 worth) for his
matriculation fee, and double that sum for two sets of lectures for
which he entered. He had passed no matriculation examination, or indeed
any other; had attended lectures or not, just he pleased--about one in
three he put as his average--but there was no roll-call or register, and
no one that he knew of seemed to care the least whether he was there
or not. However, he seemed to think that but for his unlucky little
difficulty he could easily at this rate have passed the examination for
the degree of doctor of medicines. The doctor’s degree was a mighty fine
thing, and much sought after, but didn’t amount to much professionally,
at least not in Germany, where the doctor has a State examination to
pass after he has got his degree. But in America, or anywhere else, he
believed they could just practise on a German M.D. degree, and he knew
of one Herr Doctor out West who was about as fit to take hold of any
sick fellow as he was himself. Oh, Matthew, Matthew, my mentor! When I
got home I had to take down thy volume on Universities in Germany, and
restore my failing faith by a glance at the Appendix, giving a list of
the courses of lectures by Professors, Privabdocenten, and readers
of the University of Berlin during one winter, in which the Medical
Faculty’s subjects occupy seven pages; and to remind myself, that
the characteristics of the German Universities are “_Lehrfreiheit und
Lernfreiheit_,” “Liberty for the teacher, and liberty for the learner”;
also that “the French University has no liberty, and the English
Universities have no sciences; the German Universities have both.” Too
much liberty of one kind this student at any rate bore witness to, and
in one of his serious moments was eloquent on the danger and mischief of
the system, so far as his outlook had gone.

By the time our roads diverged, the young runaway had quite won me
over to forget his escapades, by his frank disclosures of all that was
passing in his mind of regret and tenderness, hopefulness and audacity;
and I sorrowed for a few moments on the platform as the sealskin cap
disappeared at the window of the Liverpool carriage, from which he waved
a cheery adieu.

As I walked towards the carriage to go on my own way, I found myself
regretting that I should see his ruddy face no more, and wishing him all
success “in that new world which is the old,” for which he was bound,
with no possessions but his hand-bag and self-reliance to make his
way with. I might have sat alone for thrice as long with an English
youngster, in like case, without knowing a word of his history; but
then, such history could never have happened to an Englishman, for he
never would have run his bail, and would have gone to prison and served
his time as a matter of course.

How much each nation has to learn of the other! But I trust that by this
time my young friend has seen to it that the good-natured Herr Doctor
who went bail for him hasn’t “slipped up anyway.”



Southport, 22nd March.

I wonder if you will care to take a seaside letter, at this busiest
time of the year? Folk have no business to be “on the loaf” before
Easter, I readily admit. Still, there is much force and good-sense, I
have always held, in that tough, old regicide Major-General Ludlow’s
action, when he found England under Cromwell too narrow to hold him. He
migrated to Switzerland, and characteristically changed his family motto
to “_Ubi libertas, ibi patria_” (“Where I can have my own way, there
is my country”) or (if I may be allowed a free rendering to fit the
occasion), “Whenever man can loaf, then is long vacation.”

But my motive for writing is really of another kind. In these later
years, a large and growing minority of my personal friends
and acquaintances seem to be afflicted with that demon called
Neuralgia,--some kind of painful affection connected with the nerves of
the head and face, which makes the burden of life indefinitely heavier
to carry than it has any right to be. To all such I feel bound to say,
Give this place a trial in your first leisure. In one case, at any rate,
and that an apparently chronic one, in which every east wind, and almost
every sudden change of temperature, brought with it acute suffering,
I have seen with my own eyes a complete cure effected by a few days in
this air. The experiment was tried three months since, and from that
time the demon seems to have been exorcised, and has been quite unable
to return, though we have had a full average in these parts of sudden
changes of temperature,--east winds, cold rains, and the other amenities
of early spring in England.

Can I account for this? Well, so far as I can judge, the peculiar
conformation of the shore must have much to say to it. From the open
window where I am sitting, there lies between me and the sea (it being
low water) an almost level stretch of sand of more than half a mile in
depth. Beyond that there is a narrow strip of sea, on which a fleet of
tiny fishermen’s craft, with their ruddy-brown sails, are plying their
trade; and again, beyond that, between channel and open sea, is another
long sand-bank. Now I am told, and see no reason to doubt, that the
evaporation from this great expanse of wet sand is charged with double
the amount of ozone which would rise from the like area of salt-water.
But whatever the cause, the fact stands as I have stated above. In
another hour or two the sea will be close up to these windows, lapping
against the sea-wall, and spoiling the view for the time, but, happily,
only for a short time. For while it is up, there is nothing but very
shallow, muddy water to be seen, on which the faithful old sun, try
as he will, can paint no pictures. Whereas at low tide, the colours of
these sandy wastes--the steely gleam of the wet parts, the bright yellow
of the dry, and the warm and rich tints of brown of the intermediate,
and the quaint, black line of the pier, running out across them all till
it reaches the pale blue of the channel, where the fishing-boats all lie
at anchor round the pier-head at sunset--are one perpetual feast, even
to the untrained eye. What the delight must be to a painter, when the
level sun turns the blacks into deep purples, and glorifies all the
yellows and browns, and gives the steely gleams a baleful and cruel
glint, I can only guess, unless, indeed, it should make him hang
himself, in despair of reproducing them on mortal canvas. That long,
black pier is our favourite place of resort. Probably the ozone is
stronger there than elsewhere. It is three-quarters of a mile long,
and at the end, at noon, a most attractive, daily performance comes
off gratis. At that hour the gulls are fed by an official of the pier
company, and afterwards, at intervals, by children, who bring scraps of
viands in their pockets for this purpose.

I am not defending the practice, which tends, no doubt, to pauperise
a number of these delightful birds. I have watched them carefully, and
never seen one of them go off to earn his honest, daily fish. There they
sit lightly on the water, with heads turned to the pier-head, and float
past with the tide, rising for a short flight back again, as it carries
them too far past to see when the doles are beginning to be served. When
these begin, they are all in the air, wheeling and crossing each other
in perfect flight to get the proper swooping-point. It seems to be a
rule of the game that they pick up the fragments in their swoop, for
when this is neatly done by any one, the rest leave him alone, though he
may carry off a larger prize than he is able to swallow on the wing. But
in a high wind there is trouble. Not one in a dozen of them can then be
sure of his prey in his swoop, and after one or two attempts the greedy
ones alight and attack the viands on the water. But this seems to be
against the rules of the game, and instantly others alight by the side
of the transgressor, and strive eagerly for whatever of the desired
morsel is still outside his yellow beak. I noted with pleasure that
there are generally a few who will take no part in these squabbles, but
if they failed in their swoop, soared up again with dignity, to wait for
another chance. These must, I take it, be undemoralised gulls, from a
distance. Always play your game fair, or there will be trouble, whether
amongst birds or men.

At other seaside places the shallowness of the sand limits the pure
delight of children in their castle-building. Here it seems boundless. I
saw one sturdy urchin yesterday throwing out stoneless sand from a hole
some four feet deep. The castles and engineering works are therefore on
a splendid scale, several of them from five to ten yards across, inside
which bits of old spars (portions, I fear, of wrecks) are utilised for
causeways and bridges. The infant builders are ambitious, for I have
seen frequent attempts, not wholly unsuccessful, at putting sand
steeples on the churches. These higher efforts were all made by girls,
who, indeed, I regret to say, seemed to do not only the decorative, but
the substantial work. The boys employed themselves mainly in creeping
through the holes which the girls had dug under the spars, to represent
bridges, and in knocking down the boundary walls. Is this a sign of
our topsy-turvy times? In my day, we boys did all the building and
engineering, and the girls used to come and sit on our walls, and
destroy our castles. On this highest part of the sands, the children’s
playground, there stand also certain skeletons of booths, to be covered
with canvas, I presume, in the summer, for the sale of ginger-beer and
cakes. These, the largest especially, some nine feet high, attracted the
boys, several of whom essayed to reach the highest cross-bar. Only one
succeeded while I watched, a born sailor-boy, who was not to be foiled,
and succeeded in getting on to it. There he sat, and looked scornfully
down on the sand-diggers, in the temper, no doubt, of the chorus of the
old sea song--

               We jolly sailor boys a-sitting up aloft,

               And the land-lubbers funking down below.

After a time he descended, and, looking for a few moments at the
diggers, went straight away across the sands towards the sea. I saw that
he had only a wooden spade, while most of theirs had iron heads.

There is another kind of amusement which is strange to me, being
necessarily confined to great expanses of sand. A boat on wheels, called
the _Flying Dutchman_, careers along at a splendid pace when there is
wind enough, and I am told can tack handily, and never runs into the
sea. If it did, it would not matter, as it must at once upset in such
case in very shoal water. When the Royal Society was here, several
eminent philosophers were reported to be disporting themselves in the
_Flying Dutchman_, when the President, Professor Cayley, called on them
to read papers, or make promised speeches.

This flat sandy coast is far from being so innocent as it looks. There
are the wrecks of two vessels in sight even now. One of these, I hear,
it took the lifeboat fourteen hours’ _continuous hard work_ to reach,
and they brought off every man of the crew, twenty-five in number--a
feat deserving wider fame than it has attained. They must be glorious
sea-worthies, these Lancashire fishermen! Of the fine public buildings,
the four-miles tramway, the Free Library, Botanic Gardens, and the rest,
I need not speak. Lord Derby’s _mot_ on opening the Botanic Gardens is
enough,--that the Southport folk can skate on real ice in July, and sit
under palm-trees at Christmas. But I may say that the esplanade is a
grand course for tricyclers and bicyclers, who seem fond of challenging
and running races with tradesmen’s carts--a somewhat risky operation for
other vehicles and passengers.

One word, however, before I close, about the most striking of the
churches, St. Andrew’s. I was attracted to it by its good proportions,
and the stone tracery of several of the windows, reminding one of the
patterns of the early decorated period of Gothic art. It can seat some
1500 people on the floor, there being no galleries. I am sorry to say,
however, that appearances are deceitful. It is of no use to have fine
proportions and good decoration if they won’t stand; and unhappily,
although the church is only twelve years old, the cleristory walls have
been blown out of the perpendicular, so that the whole nave roof has
to come off that they may be solidly rebuilt. What would an old monkish
architect have said to such a catastrophe? The more’s the pity, inasmuch
as the necessary closing of the church is going to shelve, probably for
months, the most striking preacher I have heard this month of Sundays. I
first learnt, sir, in your columns the golden rule, that during prayers
the worshipper is responsible for keeping up his own attention, while
at sermon-time it is the parson’s business. Well, I have been to St.
Andrew’s for the last three Sundays, and during sermons, none of which
have lasted less than half an hour, have neither gone to sleep, nor
thought about anything but what the preacher was saying. I suspect it is
(as Apollo says of Theodore Parker, in the “Fable for Critics”) that--

               This is what makes him the crowd-drawing preacher,

               There’s a background of God to each hard-working feature,

               Every word that he speaks has been fierily furnaced

               In the blast of a life that has struggled in earnest.

Whatever be the cause, however, there is the fact; and I own I am
somewhat surprised, being rather curious about such matters, that I had
never heard the name of Prebendary Cross before I happened to come to
this place.



A Village Festival

Pan is dead! So, at least, those who claim to be teachers of us English
on such subjects have told us; and if our poets cannot be trusted about
them, who can? The present writer, at any rate, does not pretend to an
opinion whether Pan is dead, or, indeed, whether he was ever alive. But
if so, he ought to have kept alive, for never surely was his special
business so flourishing in our country as in these last days. All
round the Welsh border on both sides there is not a hamlet which is not
indulging in its “Lupercalia” in these summer days, in spite of the cold
and wet which have inopportunely come upon us. For the most part, these
“feasts of Pan” are almost monotonously like one another; but I have
just returned from one which had characteristics of its own--a pleasing
variety, and creditable, I think, to gallant little Wales, for the scene
of it was over the border. My attention was called to it by a large
red bill at our station, announcing that, on the 9th inst. the annual
festival of the Gresford Ladies’ Club would be held, for which
return tickets might be had at tempting rates; and further, that “no
rifle-galleries, or stalls used for the sale of nuts and oranges, will
be allowed to be put up in the village or highways on the day.” Why
should a ladies’ club invite me, and all men, by large red bill, to be
present at their festival, and at the same time deprive me of the chance
of indulging in the favourite feast pastime of these parts? I resolved
to satisfy myself; and reaching the pretty station, in due course found
myself on the platform with perhaps a dozen women of all ranks and
ages--evidently members of the club, for each of them wore a white scarf
over the right shoulder, and carried a blue wand with a nosegay at the
top. Following admiringly up the steep hill with other spectators, I saw
them enter a wicket-gate under an arch of flowers, and remained outside,
where the brass band of the county yeomanry were making most energetic
music. Presently the gate opened, and a procession of the members
emerged two-and-two, and, headed by the band in full blast, marched, a
dainty procession, each one white-scarfed and carrying a nosegay-topped
wand, to the parish church hard by on the hill-top. It was a unique
procession, so far as my experience goes. First came the squire’s wife,
the club President, with the senior member, followed by another lady, I
believe from the rectory, with the member next in seniority. These two,
both past eighty, I remarked, instead of the white scarf crossing
the shoulder and looped at the waist with blue, wore large white
handkerchiefs, trimmed with blue, over both shoulders, shawl-wise. This
I found was the old custom, the regular members formerly wearing the
shawl, the honorary members the scarf, for distinction’s sake. Now, all
members, regular and honorary alike, wear the scarf. We are levelling up
fast, and I own I regret it, in this matter of dress. As a boy, I was
in this part of Wales, and almost every woman on holidays wore the red
cloak and high black hat, and looked far better, I think, than their
descendants at this Gresford Club fête, though several of these were
as well dressed as the squire’s wife and daughters. I followed the
procession into church, as did most of the crowd through which they
passed, one man only refusing to join in my hearing, on the ground that
he had been already to one service too many. He had got married there,
his neighbour explained, and his wife was in the procession. The service
was short and well chosen, with a good, sound ten-minutes sermon at
the end, and then the procession re-formed, the band still leading,
and marched to tea in the big schoolroom facing the churchyard. “Scholæ
elymosynæ Dominæ Margarettæ Strode, fundatæ 1725, ad pauperes ejus
sumptibus erudiendos,” I read over the door. I notice that the Welsh
are rather given to Latin inscriptions can it be in token of defiance to
vernacular English?

During the tea-hour I had the pleasure of exploring church and
churchyard, the former a large and fine specimen of the later
perpendicular, but containing relics of painted glass of a much
earlier date, probably thirteenth century. Portions of this, of a fine
straw-colour, the Rector says, are invaluable, the art being lost. I
wonder what Mr. Powell would say to that? The churchyard is glorious
with its yews, more than twenty grand trees, and the grandfather of them
the largest but one, if not the largest, in the Kingdom. He measures 29
feet 6 inches round 6 feet from the ground, and is confidently affirmed
by Welsh experts (who have duly noted it in the parish register) to be
1400 years old. Without supposing that Merlin reposed in his shade, one
cannot look at him in his glorious old age and doubt that he must have
been a stout tree in Plantagenet times, and furnished bow-staves for
Welshmen who marched behind Fluellen to the French wars.

Presently the band struck up again, and the procession returned to the
wicket-gate, through which I now gained an entrance on payment of 1s.
towards the club funds, one of the best investments of the kind I have
ever made, for inside is the most perfect miniature village green I
should think in the world, take it all in all. It is a natural terrace
about one hundred yards long, by (perhaps) forty broad, on the side
of the steep, finely wooded hill, with the station down below, and the
church and village above. The valley, which runs up into the Welsh hills
to the west, is here narrow, with a bright trout-stream dancing along
between emerald meadows out into the great Cheshire plain, over which,
in the distance, rise the cathedral towers and the castle and spires of
Chester. One can fancy the hungry eyes with which many a Welshman has
looked over that splendid countryside from this perch on the hillside
when Hugh Lupus and his successors were keeping the border, with short
shrift for cattle-lifters. It is well worth the while of any of your
readers who may be passing Gresford Station this autumn, to stop over
a train, and go up and spend an hour there. But I must get back to the
ladies’ club, who now, at 6 P.M., opened the three hours’ dance on
the green, the great feature of the gathering. It began with a
country-dance, at which we males could only gaze and admire. As before,
the squire’s wife and the senior member led off, and went down the
thirty or forty couples. What wonderful women are these Welsh! I was
fascinated by the next senior, a dear old soul, who had only missed this
dance twice in more than sixty years, and was in such a hurry to get
under way, that she started before the leading couple had got properly
ahead, rather thereby confusing the subsequent saltations. When the
music at last stopped, she sat herself on a bench, a picture of joyous
old age, and declared that if she had been a rich woman, she should have
spent all her substance in keeping a band. After the country-dance
came polkas, in which I noted that for some time the men, by way of
reprisals, I suppose, danced together; but this did not last long, and
presently the couples were sorted in the usual manner, and when the
station-bell warned me to speed down the hill, I left them all as busy
on the green as the elves (perhaps) may be in the moonlight, or Pan’s
troop in the days before his lamented decease. On my way home I mused
on the cheering evidence the day had afforded of the healthy progress
of the great task which has been laid on this generation, and’ which it
seems to be taking hold of so strenuously and hopefully. I do not know
that I ever saw so entirely satisfactory a blending of all classes in
common enjoyment, which to some extent I attribute to the custom of
the procession, and the sorting of honorary and regular members above
noticed. During the whole afternoon I never heard a word which might
not have been spoken in a drawing-room, and in spite of the rigorous
exclusion of tobacco, there was no lack of young men. I question whether
it would be possible to see the like in any exclusive gathering, either
of the classes or the masses. The club is as prosperous financially, I
am glad to hear, as it is socially, having a reserve fund of some £600,
while the subscriptions are very moderate. No doubt the political
and industrial atmosphere is dark with heavy clouds both’ at home and
abroad; but I do begin to think that this white lining of a truer
and fuller blending of our people than has ever been known before in
England, or anywhere else, is going to do more than compensate for
whatever troubles may be in store for us from wars or other convulsions,
and that we shall be in time to meet them as a united people.

               Then let us pray that come it may--

                   As come it will for a’ that--

               That man to man, the warld o’er,

                   Shall brithers be for a’ that.



The “Victoria,” New Cut.

Of all the healthy signs of real social progress in this remarkable
age, I know of none more striking, or, I will add, more thankworthy in
a small way, than the contrast of the present condition of the big
People’s Theatre in Southwark with that which middle-aged men can
remember. Probably many of my readers who in the fifties and sixties
held it to be part of the whole duty of man to attend the University
boat-race at Putney, or the Oxford and Cambridge match at Lord’s, will
be able to call up in their memories the “Vic.” of those days. For my
own part, I always felt that the big costermonger’s theatre suffered
unfairly in reputation--as many folk and places before it have done--for
the casual notice of a man of genius. “Give us the Charter,” Charles
Kingsley makes his tailor-hero exclaim in 1848, “and we’ll send workmen
into Parliament who shall find out whether something better can’t be
put in the way of the boys and girls in London who live by theft and
prostitution, than the tender mercies of the Victoria.” I do not pretend
to anything more than a casual acquaintance with the “Vic.” in those
days; but my memory would not bear out Parson Lot in denouncing it as “a
licensed pit of darkness.”, That description would far better designate
the Cider Cellars, the Coal Hole, and other fashionable resorts on the
north side of the Thames, in which a working man’s fustian jacket
and corduroys were never seen. I should say that one evening spent
at Evans’s in those days, or at the mock Court (the judge and jury)
presided over by Baron Nicholson, as that rotund old cynic was called,
would have done any youngster far more harm than half a dozen at the
“Vic.” At the one you might sit smoking cigars and drinking champagne,
if you were fool enough, and hear everything that was sacred and decent
slily or openly ridiculed and travestied, in the company of M.P.’s,
barristers, and others, all well-dressed people. At the “Vic.” you could
rub shoulders with costers and longshoremen, noisy, rowdy, and prone
to fight on the slightest provocation, while the entertainment was
more than coarse enough, but quite free from the subtle poison of a
crim.-con. trial presided over by Baron Nicholson. With this saving,
however, I am bound to admit that the old “Vic.” was not a place which
could have been looked on without serious misgivings by any one in the
remotest degree responsible for peace or decency in South London. The
influence which it exercised, to put it mildly, though undoubtedly
powerful, could by no possibility have had any elevating effect on the
intellect or morals of any human being; but for all that, it was
always a favourite place of resort, and had a strong hold on the dense
population who earn a scanty and precarious living in the New Cut and
the Old Kent Road. How it was that the lease of the old “Vic.,” with
seventeen years still to run, came into the market some eight years
back, I am not aware; but so it happened, and it was purchased by a
financial Company, who, with the best intentions, embarked on the risky
experiment of running the “Royal Victoria Hall,” as it was now called,
as a coffee-tavern and place of entertainment, against the neighbouring
music-halls in which drink was sold. In eight months the Company lost
£2800, and the Victoria was closed, with every chance of drifting back,
on the next change of ownership, into the old ruts. Happily for South
London, a better fate was in store for the “Vic.,” for there were those
who had eyes to see its value if properly handled, not, indeed, as a
commercial speculation, but as a power for lifting the social life of
the neighbourhood on to a higher level. A committee was formed, with the
late Mr. Samuel Morley as chairman, and Miss Cons as honorary secretary
and manager, a guarantee fund was raised, and the Hall reopened. It has
been a hard fight; but with a chairman whose speech in the darkest hour
rang, “We don’t mean to let this thing fall to the ground,” and a lady
of unsurpassed experience and devotion amongst the poor, whose whole
life was from the first freely and loyally given to the work, the field
has been won. I say deliberately “won,” and if any one doubts my word,
let him walk over Waterloo Bridge any evening (for the “Vic.” is always
open), and look at this thing fairly; let him go into the coffee-tavern,
the theatre, the big billiard and smoking-rooms, the reading and
class-rooms at the top, and the gymnasium in the basement, and keep his
ears and eyes wide open all the time,--and then go home and thank God
that such work is going on in the very quarter of our huge city in which
the need is sorest. I say, let him go any evening, but for choice I
would advise a Tuesday, for on Tuesdays the “Penny Science Lectures”
 are given, which are, of course, less popular than the variety
entertainments and the ballad concerts which occur whenever the funds
allow, or some first-rate artist, such as Sims Beeves, volunteers to
come and sing to the Hew Cut. To return to the “Penny Science Lectures,”
 the wonder is, not that eminent men should be ready to go over to
Southwark and give them without payment--that note of our day has become
too common to surprise--but that an average of over five hundred, mostly
of the _gamin_ age, from the Hew Cut, should be ready to pay their penny
and come, and listen, and appreciate.

It was on May Day that I visited the old “Vic.,” almost by chance, and
without a notion of what I was likely to see or hear. The lecture was on
“The Foundation-Stones of London,” and proved to be a geological, not an
archæological one. Mr. H. Kimber, M.P. for the neighbouring division
of South London, was in the chair, and the lecturer was Professor Judd,
F.R.S., who, in a clear, terse address, aided by excellent dissolving
views projected by limelight on the huge drop-scene of the stage,
showed the gravel, clay, chalk, and lower strata, with the fossils found
in each, with admirable clearness. The big theatre was not, of course,
full, but there was a large audience, quite up to the average of upwards
of five hundred, and any one at all used to such scenes could see how
keenly interested they were, and how quick to seize the lecturer’s
points. Most of the men were in their working clothes, but clean and
brushed up, and no lecturer could have wished for a better audience. The
only thing that brought back to my mind the slightest remembrance of the
old “Vic.” was, that by a coster in the centre of the front row of the
pit sat a big brindled bull-terrier of the true fighting type. Strange
to say, he remained looking at the views with perfect gravity till the
lecturer made his bow, when he jumped quietly down at once, and trotted
about the pit to find friends, as though he had learned all he could,
and wanted to talk it over with pals, but was not interested in the
formal vote-of-thanks business. On the three following Tuesdays, as the
bills informed me, “The Moon,” “The Circulation of the Blood,” and “The
Backbone of England,” were the subjects, all, again, illustrated by
dissolving views. And these lectures are kept up on every Tuesday, such
speakers as the Dean of Westminster, Sir John Lubbock, Professor Seeley,
taking their turn with the purely scientific men, and drawing as good
attendances.

You must find room for one specimen of the quick humour of this New Cut
audience. Dr. Carpenter, in one of his experiments, dispensed with a
prism, explaining to his audience that the objects would now appear
inverted, and they must “put them right way up” in their minds,--“or
stand on yer ’eds,” came the prompt suggestion from the gallery. Out
of these lectures science-classes have grown in the last three years,
encouraged by a committee, selected from the Council, of some hundred
ladies and gentlemen. Of these I have no space to speak; but one fact
will indicate the thoroughness of the work done at them. Dr. Fleming’s
report for 1887 tells us that out of forty students who went in for
examination in the several classes, seven obtained first-class, and
eighteen second-class certificates. I have only touched on what, after
all, is an outgrowth, which has developed naturally from the original
scheme, but was no part of it. This was rational and hearty and clean
amusement. The Council were determined to test whether an answer could
not be found to the straight question of “Poor Potlover” in Punch:--

               “Where’s this cheap and respectable fun

               To be spotted by me? There’s the kink!

          Don’t drink? All serene, if you’ll p’int me to summat that’s better

                   than drink.

To that “summat” the Victoria Hall Council, all honour to them, have
pointed with quite encouraging success. There is no department of the
Hall which is not in a healthy condition, and the fact that £1800 was
taken in pennies and twopences for admissions during 1887, though
the Hall was closed in the summer for repairs, may well encourage the
Council and their devoted manager to take courage and persevere in their
present effort to purchase the freehold as a fitting memorial to Mr.
Samuel Morley. There was no part of his wide work of philanthropy which
that fine old English merchant valued more than this. He supported it
lavishly during his life, and had he lived till the freehold came into
the market, there would have been little difficulty in raising the
necessary sum, £17,000. Of this, £3500 has already been promised by
members of the Council, and I cannot believe that the opportunity will
be allowed to slip, and the deposit-money of £500 already paid to be
forfeited. It seems that the Charity Commissioners have let it be known
that the old “Vic.” will be accepted by them as one of the People’s
Palaces for South London, if the freehold can only be obtained; and I
cannot for a moment doubt that this will be done if the facts are only
fairly known. The teetotalers ought to do all that remains to be done,
in gratitude for the best story in their quiver, which they owe to the
“Vic.” A short meeting is held, called the “Temperance Hour,” _outside_
the house on Friday nights, at which working men are the speakers. One
of them, a carter, stuck fast at the bottom of a hill in the suburbs one
day. Another man who was passing, unhitched his own team and helped him
up. On an offer to pay being made, the good Samaritan declared he had
been paid beforehand. “Why, I never saw you before in my life, did I?”
 “I’ve seen you, though,” said the other; “I heard you speak one night
outside the ‘Vic.’ and I went in and took the pledge--me and my family
has been happy ever since!”



Whitby and the Herring Trade, 30th August 1888.

Any fresh herrings for breakfast, sir? Four a penny this morning, sir!”
 Such was my greeting this day, as I turned out of my lodgings for an
early lungs’-full of this inspiring air. I had almost broken out on that
fish-wife with, “Why, you abominable old woman, you asked me twopence
for three yesterday”; but restraining my natural, if not righteous
indignation, I replied meekly, “Four a penny! Why, what makes them so
cheap, ma’am?”

“T’ boats all full--ha’n’t had sech a catch this summer,” which news
gladdened me almost as much as if the catch had been my own. No one can
watch these grand fellows, the Dogger Bank fishermen, and not feel, a
sort of blood-relationship to them, and the keenest sympathy with their
heroic business on the great waters. So, thinks I, I’ll go down to the
quay directly after breakfast, and see them all at their best, those
hard-handed, big-bearded, soft-hearted sea-kings from all the East and
South Coast towns of England, from Sunderland to Penzance. When they are
such grand, silent, kindly creatures on every day in the week, even when
the catch has been poor and light, what will they be to-day?

I had spent most of my mornings for some days on the quay, watching the
fish-market there with much interest. It goes on nearly all the forenoon
on the pavement, just above that part of the harbour-wall to which
the herring-boats run when they come in from their night’s work on the
Dogger Bank. A simple, hand-to-mouth kind of business, the auction;
but well adapted, at any rate, to clear the boats, and get their daily
contents to market in the quickest and cheapest way. As soon as a boat
comes to the quay, one of the crew (generally numbering five men, or
four men and a boy) comes on shore with a basket half-full of herrings,
and turns them out on the pavement. The fish-broker who acts for that
boat comes up, looks at the sample, and makes an offer for the ship’s
take by “the lash” or ten thousand. If this is accepted, the unloading
begins at once; but if not, as is oftenest the case, the take is put
up to auction. The broker rings a bell, which soon brings round him the
seven or eight other brokers like himself, and other buyers (if any) who
are within hearing. Up goes the first last of ten thousand at once, and
no time is lost or talk thrown away. In very few minutes the whole is
sold, and a cart or lorry from the railway is standing by to carry off
the barrels in which the herrings are packed then and there. Now, on the
previous day I had heard the prices ranging from £7: 10s. to £8 for “the
last,” and had not remarked that only some six boats of the whole fleet
had come back from the fishing-grounds, and that none of these had made
anything like a big catch. Consequently, I came down prepared to hear
something like the same prices ruling, and to see most of the crews
drawing at least from £15 to £20 for their night’s work.

Well, in a long life I don’t remember ever to have been more hopelessly
wrong or unpleasantly surprised. I could see at once that all was not
right by the faces of the men and women in the small groups scattered
about the market, which now drew together as the broker’s bell rang for
the sale of the herrings, which lay, a lovely, gleaming mass, at least
three feet deep in the uncovered hold of the _Mary Jane_, as she rocked
gently on the harbour swell, some twenty feet down below us. I could
scarcely believe my ears as I heard the bids slowly rising by 5 s. at a
time till they reached 30s. the last, and there stopped dead. The hammer
fell, and the whole catch of the _Mary Jane_ passed to the purchaser in
about two minutes at that figure. The next boat, and next but one, did
no better. Broker after broker knocked his client’s catch down at 30s.
Once only I heard an advance on that figure, and this was by private
contract. The handsome Hercules, in long leather boots and blue jersey,
who represented one of the Whitby boats, appealed in my hearing to the
broker, who relented with no very good grace, and agreed to give £2 per
last of ten thousand of the catch of Hercules’s boat.

It was a depressing sight, I must own, even in the bright sunshine of
this most picturesque of English harbours, and Sam Weller’s earnest
inquiry to his master, “Ain’t somebody to be wopped for this?” rose
vividly in my mind as the fittest comment on the whole business. Just
then a tug which had been getting up steam was ready to leave the
harbour, and two Hartlepool smacks, whose freights of herrings were
still unsold, hitched on, to be towed out to sea and then run home,
in the hope of finding a better market in the Durham port. An old salt
stood next me, whose fishing days were well over, and who had just taken
a good bite of the blackest kind of pigtail to comfort himself. I looked
inquiringly at him as the tug steamed out between the two lighthouses,
with the smacks in tow; but he shook his head sorrowfully. “Well, but
they can’t do worse than here,” I remonstrated; “herrings maybe scarcer
in the colliery district.” He jerked his head towards the little group
of brokers and buyers,--“They’d know the prices at Hartlepool in five
minutes,” he said. This telegraphing was to his mind the worst thing
that had happened for fishermen in his time. “Did prices often go up and
down like this?” I asked. “Yes,” and worse than this. He had known them
as low as 15s. and as high as £15 within a few days. No, he couldn’t see
what was “to odds it” much for the better. Last time he was across
at Liverpool he had stopped at a big fish-shop where he saw barrels
standing which he recognised. “What’s the price of those herrings?” he
asked. “Eight for 6d.” the man answered. “So I told him I saw they was
from Whitby, and that he got them at Whitby for 6d. a hundred.”



Whitby and the Herring Trade, 31st August 1888.

I had got thus far last night, and posted down again early this morning
to the market, which has a sombre kind of attraction for me. Only two
boats in, with light catches of from one and a half to two lasts each.
The first sold at £5: 5s., which price the second boat refused. Theirs
were a first-rate lot, and they shouldn’t go under £6, for which they
were holding out when I had to leave, and there seemed to be a general
belief that they would get it. This was puzzle enough for any man, to
see under his own eyes the same fish sold on three consecutive summer
days for £7:10s., £1:10s., and £5:5s.!--a sort of thing no fellow can
understand. To add to my bewilderment, I learnt that at Great Grimsby
yesterday (the £1:10s. day here) the last had sold for upwards of £15!
So that my old salt’s view as to the telegraph doesn’t quite hold water,
and the two smacks which shook the water off their bows and sailed for
Hartlepool, may have made a good day’s work of it, after all. Indeed,
a sailor on the quay declared that they had sold at £5, so that, after
paying £2 apiece for the tug, which had towed them all the way, they
still got £3 a last, or double the price they would have realised at
Whitby. “So it comes to this, that the more fish you catch, the less
pay you get,” I said to my informant. “Yes,” he seemed to think that was
mostly the case, adding that to his mind it was the railways that made
all the money out of fish--

                   Sic vos non vobis mellificatis apes.

It is an old story enough, but scarcely less true or sad in 1888 than
when most of the world’s hardest work was done by slaves. However there
are, happily, signs in the air that, here in England at any rate, we are
waking up to the truth, that if we can find no better way of organising
industry than competition run mad, we are going to have real bad times.
Royal Commissions on the sweating system; Toynbee Hall interventions in
great strikes; co-operative effort springing up all over the country,
and finding its most zealous and devoted advocates at least as much
amongst those who don’t work with their hands as those who do,--all go
to prove that the reign of king _laissez faire_, with his golden rule
of “cash payment the sole _nexus_ between man and man,” is over.
Indeed, our danger may soon be from too much meddling with and mothering
industry. Nevertheless, no one can spend a few hours on the quay here in
the herring season and not long for some one--scholar, philanthropist,
political economist (new style), co-operator--to come along and teach
these fine fellows to read their sphinx riddle. It would not be, surely,
such a difficult task as it looks at first sight. There is no need to
begin with the vast herring-fishing industry, with its distant markets
at Billingsgate, Liverpool, and Manchester. The reform might begin at
once on a modest scale. Beside the herrings, one sees every
morning other fish lying on the quay--skate, cod, ling, whiting,
rock-salmon--brought in by the smaller and less venturesome boats by
dozens, not by lasts of ten thousand. Take the cod as the most valuable
of these fish. I saw four fine cod-fish sold by auction yesterday on the
quay for 5s. 3d. Within a few hundred yards, and all over the town, cod
was selling at the shops at 6d. the pound. Surely a very moderate amount
of organising ability would enable those who catch these fish to get the
retail prices prevailing on the same day in the home market, and then
the experience gained might assist materially in the solution of the
larger problem.

Meantime, besides the almost unique interest and beauty of its
surroundings,--the steep cliffs, on which the quaint old red-roofed
houses, with their wooden balconies, are piled in most picturesque and
unaccountable groups; the grand old abbey ruin looking down from the
highest point; the swing-bridge between the two harbours, and the
estuary beyond, running up into a fine amphitheatre of green meadow and
dark wood, dotted with village churches and old windmills, and backed by
the high moors,--there is a joyous side to Whitby harbour, even on days
when the market goes most against the Dogger Bank fishermen. If the
fathers have too often to eat sour grapes, their children’s teeth are
not set on edge,--such merry, well-fed, bare-footed urchins of both
sexes I never remember to have seen elsewhere. They swarm, out of school
hours, along the quays; skim up and down the water-worn harbour-walls
wherever there is a rope hanging; run over the herring boats lying side
by side, as soon as the freights are cleared; and toboggan down the boat
slides at the gangways, dragging themselves along on their stomachs when
these are not slippery enough for the usual method of descent. There
seems, too, to be a large supply of old rickety tubs kept for their
special use; for all day long you see two or three of them scrambling
into one of these, and sculling about the harbour, no man hindering or
apparently noticing them. Finer training for their future life would be
hard to find, and one cannot help doubting as one sees their straight
toes, as handy almost as fingers in their climbing feats, whether the
last word has been spoken as to clothing the human foot, at any rate up
to the age of ten or twelve. It is not often, I think, that one comes
on early surroundings and heroes entirely suited to each other; but
Whitby’s hero--patron saint I had nearly called him--could have found
no such suitable place to have been raised in all the world round. James
Cook was born in a neighbouring village, but first apprenticed on board
a Whitby collier, and to the last days of his life retained a most
loving remembrance of the old town. Every one of his famous ships,
the _Endeavour_, the _Resolution_, and the _Discovery_, were built at
Whitby. The house, of his master, Mr. Walker, with whom he lived during
his apprenticeship as a sailor lad, and to whom most of his letters were
written after he had mapped the Quebec reaches of the St. Lawrence
under the fire of the French guns, and was a gold-medallist of the Royal
Society and the most famous of eighteenth century navigators, is still
fondly pointed out in a narrow street running down to the inner harbour.



Sunday by the Sea, Whitby, 7th September 1888.

We saw something of the industrial life of Whitby last week. The
spiritual is quite as interesting, and certainly, so far as my
observation goes, has a character of its own, distinct from that of any
other of our popular seaside resorts. It may be the presence of so
large a seagoing element; at any rate, unless appearances are quite
misleading, there is an earnest and deep though quiet religious impulse
working amongst the harbour-folk and townspeople, not without its
influence in the new quarter which has grown on to the old town, and
with its casino and large cricket and lawn tennis grounds, is becoming a
popular--though, happily, not a fashionable--summer resort. This is, of
course, most apparent on Sundays, on which the absence of anything like
the annoyances, both religious and secular, which spoil the day of
rest at so many health-resorts, is very noteworthy. Not that Whitby is
without its open-air services. On the contrary, they are at least as
frequent as elsewhere, on quays, shore, cliffs; but after watching them
with some care I do not remember anything fanatical or startling, or
in the bad taste of coarse familiarity with mysteries which so often
revolts one in street and field preaching elsewhere. One of these I had
never seen the like of before, and am inclined to think it may interest
your readers. On my first Sunday afternoon I was watching a crowded
service on the quay, at the foot of the West Cliff, from above. As it
ended, and began to disperse, a man in sailor’s Sunday suit of thick
blue cloth severed himself from the crowd, and came leisurely up the
stone steps, with a Bible and hymn-book in his hand. At the top of the
steps is a public grass-plot, some thirty by twenty yards in size, the
only part of the sea-front which has escaped enclosure on this cliff.
Round it are some fifteen or sixteen benches, very popular with those
who will not pay to go into the casino enclosure. They were all occupied
by people chatting, smoking, courting, looking at the view, when the
newcomer walked into the middle of the plot, took off his fur-trimmed
sailor’s cap, opened his Bible, and looked round. He was good to look
at, with his strong, weather-beaten, bronzed features, short-cropped,
grizzled hair, and kindly blue eye, part-owner and best man in one of
the Penzance boats, I heard. On looking at him, passages in the lives
of Drake and Hawkins, and Wesley and Whitfield, and Charles Kingsley’s
loving enthusiasm for the Cornish sailor-folk, became clearer to me. Not
a soul noticed him or moved from their seats, and the talking, smoking,
courting went on just as though he were not there, standing alone on
the grass, Bible in hand. I quite expected to see him shut his book and
depart. Not a bit of it. Clearly he had come up there to deliver his
testimony. That was his business; whether any one chose to listen to it
or not, was theirs. So he read out two or three verses from the Epistle
to the Romans, and began to preach. His subject was Paul’s conversion,
which he described almost entirely in St. Luke’s and the Apostle’s own
words, which he quoted without referring to his Bible, and then urged
roughly, but with an earnestness which made his speech really eloquent,
that the same chance was open to every one. He himself had heard the
call thirty years ago, and had been happy ever since. He had been in
peril of death again and again since then, had seen boats founder with
all hands, but had no fear, nor need any man have, by sea or land, who
would just hear and follow that call. Then he stopped, wiped his brow,
and looked round. The sitters had all become silent, but not a soul of
them moved or spoke. I was standing, with one or two others, behind the
high rails of the enclosure, or I think we should have gone and stood by
him as he gave out a hymn; but we knew neither words nor tune, so were
helpless. He sang it through by himself, made a short prayer “that the
word that day might not have been spoken in vain,” and then put on his
cap, and went down the steps into the crowd below. One voice from the
benches said “Thank you!” as he left the plot.

The next service I came across was a strange contrast. Under the cliff,
in front of the Union Jack planted in the sands, was a large gathering,
composed mostly of children sitting in rows, with mothers and nurses
interspersed, and a number of men and women standing round the circle.
As I came up, I was handed a leaflet of hymns, which explained that it
was a gathering of the “Children’s Special Service Mission,” which has
its head-quarters, it seems, in London, and is presided over by Mr.
Stuart, the vicar of St. James’s, Holloway. The service was conducted by
a young man not in orders, with a strong choir to help him. He, too, did
his preaching earnestly and well; and though it seemed to me above the
younger children’s heads, who for the most part made sand-castles or
mud-pies furtively, was evidently listened to sympathetically by the
elder part of the audience who stood round. But if the teaching scarcely
touched the children, they all left their mud-pies and enjoyed the
singing. The Mission, I was told, holds these services on the sands
through the seaside season, at all the chief resorts on the coast.
The leaders and organisers are mostly young men and women, and all, I
believe, volunteers. A noteworthy sign of our time the Mission seemed
to me, and I was glad to hear that it is countenanced, if not actively
supported, by the resident Church clergy.

If we turn from the volunteer to the regular side of Church work, Whitby
still has an almost unique attraction for the student of the religious
movement in England. The late Dean Stanley, who loved every phase of the
historical development of the life of the National Church, and mourned
over the thoroughness of recent restorations, which, as he thought,
threaten the entire disappearance of the surroundings and forms of the
worship of the Georgian era, would have thanked God and taken courage
if he could have visited Whitby Parish Church in 1888, for church and
service are a perfect survival. The wave of Victorian ecclesiastical
reform, without destroying anything, seems to have gently removed all
that was really objectionable, and breathed new life into the dry
bones of Georgian worship. I am not sure that I should say “everything
objectionable,” for probably the vast majority of even truly Catholic
church-goers would not agree as to the big shield with the national arms
which hangs over the centre of the chancel arch, dividing the two tables
of the Ten Commandments. I am prepared to admit that this particular
lion and unicorn are not good specimens of discreet beasts of their
respective kinds. But even as they stand they are national symbols, and
no reminder that Church and nation are still one can be spared nowadays;
and they are not half so grotesqile as most of the gurgoyles you will
see in the noblest Gothic cathedrals. And then they vividly remind my
generation of the days when they first toddled to church in the
family procession. The church itself is a gem, though with no orthodox
architectural beauty, for it retains traces of the handiwork of thirty
generations in its walls, pillars, galleries, and stunted square
tower,--from the round arches (there are still two, though the best, a
fine Norman window, has been bricked up) of its earliest builders in the
twelfth, to the white-washed walls and ceilings and square-paned windows
of eighteenth century churchwardens. I should think the three-decker (I
am obliged to use the profane name, having forgotten the correct one),
the clerk’s desk, reading-desk, and pulpit rising one above the other
in front of the chancel, must be unique, the last of its race. The clerk
has, indeed, retired into the choir; but the rector still reads the
prayers and lessons admirably from his desk, and ascends the pulpit,
where he is on a level with the faculty pew of the squire, and the low
galleries, to deliver his excellent short discourses. Long may he and
his successors do so. One is only inclined to regret that he does not
take off his surplice in the reading-desk, and ascend to preach in his
black gown. Curious it is to remember that less than thirty years ago
Bryan King and others excited riots in many parishes by preaching in
the surplice. The pews on the floor are all high oaken boxes with
doors, though the great majority of them are now free. The visitor in
broadcloth is put into one of the larger ones, lined with venerable
baize, once green. These are somewhat narrow parallelograms with seats
round the three sides, so that it requires caution in kneeling to avoid
collision with your opposite neighbour. And the body of the church being
nearly square by reason of the addition of side aisles at different
periods, and the “three-decker” well out on the floor, the pews have
been planned so that they all face towards it, and consequently all the
congregation can see each other. This is supposed to be a drawback to
worship; probably is--must be, where people have been always used to
looking all one way. That it really hinders a hearty service, no one
would maintain who has attended one in Whitby Parish Church. It was
quite full, when I was there, of a congregation largely composed of men,
and the majority of these sailors and other working folk. Let any reader
who still goes to church make a point of ascending the 190 stone steps
which lead up to it from the old town, and looking at the matter with
his own eyes, if ever he should be within reach. The rector is a sort
of successor to the old abbots of St. Hilda, with ecclesiastical
jurisdiction over the whole town, wherein are five or six churches
worked by curates, all in the modern style, seats facing eastward, no
three-deckers, surpliced choirs, and chanted psalms, and canticles.
Indeed, in one place of worship, those who have a taste for gabbled
prayers, bowings and posturings, lighted candles, and the rest of the
most modern ritual, can find it, but in a proprietary chapel not under
the jurisdiction of the rector.



Singing-Matches in Wessex, 28th September 1888.

I remember, sir, that some quarter of a century ago, you were
interested in the popular songs of our English country-folk, and so may
possibly think gleanings in this field still worthy of notice. In that
belief, I send this note of some “singing-matches,” which, by a lucky
chance, I was able to attend last week in West Berks. The matches in
question were for both men and women, a prize of half a crown being
offered in each case. The occasion was the village “veast,” or annual
commemoration of the dedication of the parish church, still the
immemorial day of gathering and social reunion in every hamlet of this
out-of-the-way district. I was glad to find the old word still in use,
for as a Wessex man it would have been an unpleasant shock to me to
find the “veast” superseded by a “festival,” habitation, or other modern
gathering. In some respects, however, I must own that the character of
the “veast” has changed; these singing-matches, for instance, being
a complete novelty to me. There used to be singing enough after the
sports, as the sun went down, and choruses, rollicking and sentimental,
came rolling out of the publicans’ booths--for the most part of dubious
character--but singing-matches for prizes I never remember. I suppose
the craze for competitive examination in every department of life may
account for this new development; anyhow, there were the matches to come
off--so the bills assured us--in the village schoolroom, of all places,
which was thrown open for this purpose, and for dancing, at sunset.
Hither, then, I repaired from the vicar’s fields, where the sports had
been held, in the wake of a number of rustic couples and toffee-sucking
children. The school is a lofty room, fifty feet long, with a smaller
class-room as transept at the upper end, along which ran a temporary
platform. Upon this the Farringdon Blue-Ribbon Band, in neat uniforms,
were already playing a vigorous polka. Presently this first dance ended,
the band stood back, and the three judges coming to the front, announced
the terms of the competition, the men to begin, and a dance to be
interpolated after every two songs, every singer, one at a time, to come
up on the platform. There was no hesitation amongst the singers, the
first of whom stepped up at once, and so the matches went on, two songs
and a dance alternately, until all who cared to compete had sung. Then,
at about 9 P.M., the prizes were awarded, and I left, the dancing going
on merrily for another two hours.

I was amused by the award of the men’s prize to the singer of a
vociferously applauded ditty, entitled “The Time o’ Day,” for it showed
that the keenest zest of the Wessex rustic is still, as it was
thirty years ago, to get a rise out of--or, in modern slang, to score
off--“thaay varmers.” It began:--

               A straanger wunst in Worcestershèer,

                   A gen’lman he professed,

               He lived by takin’ o’ people in,

                   He wuz so nicely dressed.

                        Wi’ my tol-de-rol, etc.

This stranger, having a gold chain round his neck, swaggers in the
farmers’ room on market-day, till--

               He zets un in a big arm-cheer,

                   And, bein’ precious deep,

               Sticks out his legs, drows back his arms,

                   And “gammots” off to sleep.

The farmers canvas him, and doubt if he has any watch to his chain. His
friend, “by them not understood,” pulls out the chain, shows a piece of
wood at the end, and puts it back. The stranger wakes; the farmers ask
him “the time o’ day”; he excuses himself, on the plea that last night,
having taken a glass too much, he did not wind up his watch. At this--

               The varmers said, and did protest,

                   Ez sure ez we’re alive,

               Thet thee dost not possess a watch

                   Of pounds we’ll bet thee vive.

The stranger covers the bets, pulls out a piece of wood, touches a
spring, and shows a watch inside:--

               ‘Bout vifty pounds thaay varmers lost,

                   Which in course thaay hed to paay,

               And the bwoys run arter’em down the street,

                   Wi’ “Gee us the time O’ daay.”

                        Wi’ my tol-de-rol, etc.

I did not, however, concur in the award myself. I should have given the
prize for a love-song, a sort of rustic rendering of “Phyllis is my only
Joy,” the chorus of which ran:--

               For ef you would, I’m sure you could

                   Jest let a feller know;

               Ef it strikes you as it likes you,

                   Answer yes or no.

The judges, however, followed, if (two being “varmers”) they did not
thoroughly sympathise with, the obvious feeling of the crowded room.
The patriotic songs, I noticed, had quite changed their character. They
never were of the vulgar jingo kind in Wessex, but there used to be much
of the old Dibdin and tow-row,-row ring about them. “The Poor Little
Soldier Boy” may be taken as a specimen of the new style. His father
dies of wounds; he ’lists; comes home; is discharged; wanders
starving, till, opposite a fine gate, he sinks down, asking the unknown
inmates how they will like to find him, “dead at their door in the
morn.” At this crisis a lady appears, who takes him in and provides for
him for life. The only lines I carried away were from a song even more
pacific in tone than “The Poor Little Soldier Boy.” They ran:--

               Ef I wur King o’ France,

                   Or, better, Pope o’ Rome,

               I’d hev no fightin’ men abroad,

                   Nor weepin’ maids at home.

But there was an approach to “waving the flag” amongst the women, one of
whom, a strapping damsel, sang:--

                   We’ve got the strength of will,

                   And old England’s England still,

               And every other nation knows it--“rather”!

which word “rather” ended every verse of a somewhat vulgar ditty. She
did not get the prize, nor did the matron whom I fixed on as the
winner, who sang without a hitch a monotonous and, I began to think,
never-ending ballad on the rivalries of “young Samuèl” and one
“Barnewell” for the graces of an undecided young woman. The attention
with which this somewhat dreary narrative was listened to deceived me,
for the prize went, without public protest, to a young woman of whose
song I could not catch a line, though I could just gather that it was
feebly sentimental. My impression is that it was her bright eyes, and
pretty face and figure, that carried it with the judges, rather than her
singing. If I am right, it will neither be the first nor last time that
the prizes in this world fall to _tes beaux yeux_.

The school faces the upper end of the village green, and I left it so
crowded that it was a wonder how the dancers could get along at all
with their polkas and handkerchief dances, the latter a kind of country
dance, which were the only ones in vogue. When I got out, I saw lighted
booths at the other end of the green, and went down to inspect. It was a
melancholy sight.

There was the publican’s dancing-booth without a soul in it. One swing
only was occupied in the neighbouring acrobatic apparatus, and the
round-about was motionless. The gipsies were there, ready and eager to
tell fortunes, and with a well-lighted alley for throwing at cocoa-nuts
with bowls rather larger than cricket-balls--the most modern and popular
substitute, I am told, for skittles. There they were, but not a customer
in sight, the only human being but myself being the solitary county
policeman, who patrolled the green with most conscientious regularity,
only slackening his pace for a moment or two as he passed under the
bright open windows of the schoolroom, from which the merry dance-music
came streaming out into the moonlight. I could almost find it in my
heart to pity the publican and gipsies, so overwhelming did their defeat
seem, for not a glass of beer had been allowed all day in the vicar’s
fields, where the cricket-match had been played and all the races
run, on milk, tea, or aerated waters. The whole stock of these last
beverages, supplied from the “Hope Coffee Room,” which has faced the
public-house on the village green now for about three years, was drunk
out before the dancing ended and the school closed on “veast” night, to
the exceeding joy of the vicar’s niece and her lieutenants, two bright
Cornish damsels, handy, devoted, and ardent teetotalers. These three
have been fighting the publicans since 1886, when they started the “Hope
Coffee Room,” supplied with bread, butter, and cakes from the vicarage,
and aerated drinks and light literature, all, I take it, at something
under cost price, though this the three ardent damsels will by no means
admit. The vicar, who is no teetotaler himself, shrugs his shoulders
laughingly, plays his fiddle, pays the bills, and lets them have their
own way, with an occasional protest that some night he shall have his
barn and ricks burnt. There is, however, no real danger of this, as he
has lived with and for his poor for more than thirty years with scarcely
one Sunday’s break, and gipsy or publican would get short shrift who
damaged him or anything that is his. I found him quite ready to admit
the great improvement which is apparent in the “veast,” as in many other
phases of rustic life, though he cannot get over, or look with anything
but dislike and distrust at, the cramming and examining system, which,
as he mourns, embitters the only time in the lives of his poor children
which used to be really happy, when they could play about on the village
green and in the lanes regardless of Inspector and Government grant.
Nor am I sure that he does not look with regret at the disappearance
of cudgel-playing and wrestling out of the programme of the yearly
“Veast-Sports.” Cricket, fine game as it is, does hot bring out quite
the same qualities. No doubt there were now and then bad hurts in those
sports, and fights afterwards; but these came from beer, and might
happen just as easily over cricket. So he muses, and I rather
sympathise. As has been well sung by the ould gamester:--

               Who’s vor a bout O’ vrendly plaay,

                   As never should to anger move,

               Sech spworts be only meant for thaay

                   As likes their mazzards broke for love.

But I should be sorry to believe that there are fewer youngsters to-day
in the West country who “likes their mazzards broke for love” than there
used to be half a century ago.



The Divining-Rod, 21st September 1889.

About a quarter of a century ago, I had the chance of seeing some
experiments in the search for water by the use of “the divining rod” on
a thirsty stretch of the Berkshire chalk range. Oddly enough (what a lot
of odd things there are lying all round us!) at the highest points of
this very range you might come on “dew-ponds,” which never seemed to run
dry, though how the white chalky water got there, or kept there, no
one, I believe, has ever been able to explain from that day to this. But
these “dew-ponds” were of no use, of course, to the cottages scattered
along the hillside, and whoever wanted spring-water, had to go down
about 400 feet for it. Well, I neglected that chance, and ever since
have been regretting it.

My notion of the water-diviner was gathered from Sir Walter’s famous
portrait of Dousterswivel in the _Antiquary_; a fellow “who amongst
fools and womankind talks of the Cabala, the divining-rod, and all the
trumpery with which the Rosicrucians cheated a darker age, and which,
to our eternal disgrace, has in some degree revived in our own.” I was
resolved that the revival should in no case be forwarded by me, and so
lost my opportunity, and have been ever since tantalised by reports of
marvels wrought by the hazel-wand, as to which I was quite at a loss
to form any reasonable opinion. It was with no little satisfaction,
therefore, that I received, and accepted, an invitation to assist at
a water-search about to be undertaken by a diviner of considerable
reputation in the outskirts of Deer Leap Wood, in the parish of Wootton,
Surrey.

This wood, notable even amongst the loveliest of that favoured county,
belongs to the worthy representative of the author of _Sylva_ and the
_Memoirs_, who, having built some excellent cottages on its confines,
desires to find the occupants a good supply of spring-water _in situ_.
Accordingly a group of us, men and women of all ages, and of all
degrees of scepticism--for I doubt if there was a single believer in the
efficacy of the rod, though the squire himself and a friend preserved
a judicious silence--gathered last Friday after breakfast on the lawn
before Wootton House, to await the arrival of the water-doctor, whom the
agent had gone to meet at the station. It was agreed on all hands that a
preliminary test should be applied, and that the lawn on which we stood
offered quite admirable facilities for this purpose. For, more than two
hundred years ago, John Evelyn had diverted a portion of the stream,
which runs down the valley in which the house stands, for the purpose of
making a fountain on the terraces. (Let it be noted in passing, that the
lead-work of that fountain has needed no repair from that day to this!
There _were_ plumbers in those days!) From this fountain two pipes carry
the water into the house, under the lawn on which we stood. Now the lawn
turf is as smooth as a billiard-table, without the slightest indication
of the whereabouts of these pipes, which indeed was only known vaguely
to the squire, and not at all to any one else of those present. If the
divining-rod could discover these, the experiment at “Deer Leap Wood”
 might be undertaken with good hope.

Well, the doctor, conducted by the steward, arrived in due course, a
stout middle-aged man, of the stamp of a high-class mechanic; plain and
straightforward in speech, and with no pretence whatever to mystery. In
answer to our questions, he said: “He couldn’t tell how it came about;
but of this he was sure, that he could find springs and running water.
Thirty years ago he was working as a mason at Chippenham, with a Cornish
miner amongst others. He saw this man find water with the rod; had then
tried it himself, and found he could do it. That was all he knew. Any
one*of us might have the same power. Why, two young gentlemen who saw
him working at Warleigh, near Bath, had copied him, and found a spring
right under their father’s library.” We listened, and then proposed that
he should just try about the lawn. He produced a hazel twig shaped like
a Y, the arms, each some eighteen inches long; the point, perhaps,
six inches. I may note, however, that the dimensions can be of no
consequence, for he used at least half a dozen in his trials, cutting
them at random out of the hazel-bush as we walked along, and taking
no measure of any of them. Taking an arm of the Y between the middle
fingers of each hand, he walked across the lawn slowly, stooping
slightly forward, so as to keep the point downwards, about a foot from
the ground. He had not gone a dozen yards before the rod quivered, and
then the point rose at once straight up into the air. “There’s running
water here,” he said, “and close to the surface.” We marked the spot
and followed him, and some twenty-five yards further the point of the
Y again sprang up into the air. The steward, who knew the plans
accurately, was appealed to, and admitted that these were the precise
spots under which the pipes ran. In answer to the suggestion that the
point sprang up by pressure of his fingers, voluntary or involuntary, he
asked two of us to hold the arms beyond his fingers, and see if we could
prevent the point rising. We did so (I being one), and did all we could
to keep it pointed downwards, but it rose in spite of us, and I watched
his hands carefully at the same time and could detect no movement
whatever of the muscles. Then he broke one of the arms, all but the
bark, and still the point rose as briskly as ever. Lastly, he proposed
that each of us should try if we had the power. We did so, but without
success, except that in the case of Mrs. Evelyn and another lady the
point trembled, and seemed inclined, though unable, to rise. He then
took hold of their wrists, and at once it rose, nearly as promptly as
it had done with him. This was enough; and we started in procession, on
ponies, in carriage^, or walking, to Deer Leap Wood, where in the
course of an hour he marked with pegs some half dozen spots, under which
running water will be found at from 70 feet to 100 feet. He did not
pretend to be able to give the exact depth, but only undertook to give
the outside limits. And so we all went back to lunch, and Mullins
took his fee and departed. I know, sir, that you have many scientific
readers, and can picture to myself the smile tinged with scorn with
which they will turn to your next page when they get thus far. Well, I
own that the boring remains to be done, the results of which I hope to
send you in due course. Meantime, let me remind them of a well-known
adventure of one of the most famous of their predecessors towards the
end of last century. Sir Joseph Banks, botanising on the downs on a
cloudless June day, came across a shepherd whom he greeted with the
customary “Fine day,”--“Ees,” was the reply, “but there’ll be heavy rain
yet, afore night.” Sir Joseph passed on unheeding, and got a thorough
drenching before he reached his inn. Next morning he went back, found
the shepherd, and put a guinea in his hand, with “Now, my man, tell me
how you knew there was going to be rain yesterday afternoon.”

“Whoy,” said Hodge, with a grin, “I zeed my ould ram a shovin’ hisself
back’ards in under thuck girt thornin bush; and wenever a doos that
there’ll sartin sure be heavy rainfall afore sundown.”

Note.--Water was found where it was expected by the Diviner, and this
well is now used by the tenants of the Deer Leap Cottages.--October
1895.



Sequah’s “Flower of the Prairie,” Chester, 26th March 1890.

“Why, what on earth can this be?” I asked of the man who stood next me
in the Foregate some ten days ago, as we paused at a crossing to allow
the strange object which had drawn from me the above ejaculation to pass
on, with its attendant crowd. It was a mighty gilded waggon, certainly
fourteen feet long by six feet or seven feet broad. It was drawn by four
handsome bays. On two raised seats at the front sat eight men, English,
I fancy, every man of them, but clad over their ordinary garments in
long leather coats with fringes, such as our familiar Indians wear in
melodrama, and in the broad-brimmed, soft felts of the Western cowboy.
They were all armed with brass instruments and made the old streets
resound with popular airs. Behind these raised seats, in the body of
the waggon, rode some half dozen, including three strapping brown men,
Indians, I fancy they pose for, but they looked to me more like the
half-castes whom one sees on the Texan and Mexican ranches on the Bio
Grande. They also were clad in fringed leather coats, and wore sombreros
over their long black locks. The sides of the waggon, where not gilt,
were panelled with mirrors, on which were emblazoned the Stars and
Stripes and other coloured devices. Altogether, the thing seemed to me
well done in its way, whatever it might mean; and I turned inquiringly
to my neighbour and repeated my question, as the huge gilded van and
its jubilant followers passed away down the station road. “Oh! ’tis the
‘Merikin chap, as cures folks’s rheumatics and draws their teeth.”

“He must draw something more than their teeth,” I said, “to keep up all
that show.” My neighbour grinned assent. “He’ve drawed pretty nigh all
the loose money as is going hereabouts already,” he said as we parted.
“One more quack to fleece the poor,” I thought, as I walked on. “Well,
anyhow, they get a show for their shillings; that van beats Barnum!”

In this mind I reached the vicarage of one of our biggest city parishes
to which I was bound. “I don’t know about quack,” said the vicar, when
I had detailed my adventure on the way, using that disparaging phrase;
“but this I do know, that I have given over writing certificates for
my poor from downright shame, the demand is so great.” And then he
explained that the “medicineman,” whose stage name was Sequah, made no
charge to any patient who brought a clergyman’s certificate of poverty;
that the van had now been in the town above a week; and at first he,
the vicar, had given such certificates freely, both for treatment
(tooth-drawing) and for the medicines, but now refused except in the
case of the very poorest. No! not because Sequah was an impostor; on the
contrary, he had done several noteworthy cures--at any rate temporary
cures--on some of the vicar’s own parishioners: notably in the case of
one old man who had been drawn up to the van in a wheel-chair. He had
had rheumatism for two years, which had quite disabled him, and was in
great pain when he got on the platform. After he had been treated he
walked down the steps without help, and wheeled his chair home himself.
Unluckily, Sequah had advised him to get warm woollen underclothing,
and on his pleading that he had not the money to buy it, had given him
a sovereign. This so elated him that he felt quite a new man, and could
not help breaking his sovereign on the way home to give the new man a
congratulatory glass at a favourite pot-house. This had thrown him back,
and his knees were a little stiff again, but the pain had not returned
even in this case.

After such testimony from a thoroughly trustworthy and matter-of-fact
witness, I resolved to see this strange thing with my own eyes, and
went off straight from the vicarage to the scene of action, to which
the vicar directed me. This was an old tan-yard about half an acre in
extent, and was full of people when I arrived, the space immediately
round the waggon being densely crowded. It was drawn up in the middle of
the plot. The eight brass-bandsmen had wheeled round so as to look down
from their raised benches on the floor of the waggon, on which was a
large leather chair. In front of the chair, speaking to the crowd
from the end of the waggon, stood a tall figure, in a finer kind of
leather-fringed coat, ornamented with rows of blue, red, and white
beads. At first glance I thought it was a woman from the fineness of
the features, and masses of long, light hair falling on the shoulders. A
second glance, however, showed me that it was a man, and a vigorous and
muscular one too. He was explaining that the medicines he was going
to sell presently were not “scientific,” but “natural” medicines,
“compounded of the water of a Californian spring and certain botanic
ingredients”! I will not trouble you with a list of all the ailments
they will cure if taken steadily and in sufficient doses, but get on
at once to the performance. Having finished his speech, he put on his
sombrero, took up a pair of forceps from a table on which a row of
them were displayed, and stood by the chair. Upon this, advanced an
apparently endless line of men, women, and children, marshalled by the
Indians who stood at the foot of the steps. One by one they came up, sat
down in the chair, passed under Sequah’s hands, and descended the steps
on the other side of the waggon into the wondering crowd, while the band
discoursed vigorous and continuous music. I watched him draw at least
fifty teeth in less than as many minutes. The patient just sat down,
opened his mouth, pointed to the peccant tooth, and it was out in most
cases before he could wink. There were perhaps three or four cases (of
adults) in which things did not go quite so smoothly, and one--that of a
young woman, who seized her bonnet and rushed down the steps in evident
pain and rage--after which he stopped the band, and explained to us that
her tooth was so decayed that he had had to break the stump in the jaw.
This he had done, and should have taken the pieces out without causing
any further pain, if she had just waited a few more seconds. There are
rumours flying round that the infirmary is crowded daily with patients
in agonies from broken fangs which have been left in by Sequah. On the
other hand, two of our doctors whom I have met admit that he is a very
remarkable “extractor,” and has first-rate instruments.

There were still crowds waiting their turn when he finished his
tooth-drawing for the day, and announced that he would now treat a case
of rheumatism. Thereupon, an elderly man--who gave his name and address,
and stated that he had been rheumatic for twelve years, unable to walk
for two, and was now in great pain--was carried up the steps and put in
the chair. Then buffalo-robes were brought by the Indians, two of
whom held them up so as to conceal Sequah and the third, a rubber,
who remained inside with the patient. Then the brass band struck up
boisterously, the buffalo-robe screen was agitated here and there, and a
strong and very pungent smell (not unlike hartshorn) spread all round.
I timed them, and at the end of eighteen minutes the buffalo-robes
were lowered, and there was the old man dressed again and seated in the
chair. The band stopped. Sequah asked the old man if he felt any pain
now. He replied, “No,” and then was told to walk to the front of the
platform, which he did; then to get down the ladder, walk round the
waggon amongst the crowd, and come up on the other side, which he did,
looking, I must say, as astonished as I was, at his own performance.
Then six or seven men, mostly elderly, came up and declared that they
had been similarly treated, and were wonderfully better, some of them
quite cured and at work again. Then Sequah invited any person who had
been treated by him or taken his medicines and were none the better, to
come up into the waggon and tell us about it, as that was their proper
place and not below. This offer seemed quite _bona fide_, but it did
not impress me, as I doubt whether any protesting patient would have had
much chance of ascending the steps, which were kept by the Indians and
their able-bodied confederates. No one answering, two big portmanteaus
were brought up, out of which he began to sell his medicines at a dollar
(4s.) the set--two bottles and two small packets. The rush to be served
began, people crushing and struggling to get near enough to hand up
their hats or caps with 4s. in them, which were returned with the
medicines in them. I watched for at least ten minutes, when, there
being apparently no end to the purchases, I strolled away, musing on the
strange scene, and wondering what the attraction can be in the Bohemian
life which could induce a man of this evident power to wander about
the world in a gilded waggon, in a ridiculous costume, and talking
transparent clap-trap, to sell goods which apparently want no lies
telling about them.

I may add that I went again last Saturday, when there was even a greater
crowd, and an older and more severe case of rheumatism was treated with
quite as great (apparent) success.



French Popular Feeling, 15th August 1890.

I doubt if any of your readers has less sympathy than I with the
yearning to go back twenty, thirty, or forty years (as the case may be),
which seems to be a note of contemporary literature, and therefore, I
take it, of the average mind of the men and women of our day, who have
passed out of their first youth. “The Elixir of Life,” which Bulwer
dreamed and wrote of, which should restore youth, with its bounding
pulses and golden locks, its capacity for physical enjoyment, and for
building castles in Spain, I think I may say with confidence I would
not drink four times a day, with twenty minutes’ promenade between the
glasses (as I am just now drinking of the _source Cosar_ here), even
if an _elixir vito source_ were to come bubbling up to-morrow in this
enchanting Auvergne valley, and our English doctor here at Royat--known
to all readers of Mr. _Punch’s_ “Water Course”--were to put it
peremptorily on my treatment-paper to-morrow morning. It is not surely
the “_good fellows_ whose beards are gray,” who sigh over the departure
of muscular force, and sure quickness of eye and nerve, which enabled
them in years gone by to jump five-barred gates or get down to
leg-shooters. They are glad to see the boys doing these things, and
rejoicing in them; but, for themselves, do not desire any more to jump
five-barred gates or get down to leg-shooters. They have learned the
wise man’s lesson, that there is a time for all things, and that
those who linger on life’s journey and fancy they can still occupy the
pleasant roadside places after their part of the column has passed on
ahead, will surely find themselves in the way of, and be shouldered out
by, the next division, without a chance of being able to regain their
place in the line, side by side with old comrades and contemporaries.

But it is one thing to fall out of the line of march of one’s own
accord, from an unwise hankering after roadside pleasures, and quite
another to have to fall out because one can no longer keep one’s old
place in the column by reason of failing wind, or muscle, or nerve;
and the man of sense who feels his back stiffening, or his feet getting
tender, will do well to listen to such hints betimes, and betake himself
at once to whatever place or regimen holds out the best hope of enabling
him to keep step once more, till the day is fairly over and the march
done. It is for this reason, at any rate, that I find myself at Royat,
from which I have been assured by more than one trustworthy friend who
has tested the waters, that I shall return after three weeks “with new
tissues,” and “fit to fight for my life.” I don’t see any prospect
of having to fight for my life in my old age, though one can’t be too
confident with the new Radicalism looming up so menacingly, and am very
well content with my old tissues, if they can’ only be got into fair
working order again, of which I already begin to think there is good
prospect here, though my experience of the _sources_ “Eugénie” and
“Cæsar” is as yet not a week old.

It is more than twenty years since I have written to you from France
over this signature, and since that time I have only been once in Paris,
for two days on business. The gay city is much less changed than I
expected to find it, so far as one can judge from a drive across it from
the Gare de l’Ouest to the Gare de Lyon, and a stroll (after depositing
luggage at the latter station) along the Rue de Rivoli and the Quais,
and through the streets of the old city. The clearance which has left
an open space in front of Notre Dame, so that one can get a good view
of the western front, seemed to me the most noteworthy improvement. The
great range of public buildings and offices which have been added to
the Louvre are stately and impressive, but cannot make up for
the disappearance of the Tuileries. The Eiffel Tower is a great
disappointment. All buildings should be either beautiful or useful; but
it is neither, and only seems to dwarf all the other buildings. But one
change impressed me grievously. Where are all the daintily dressed women
and children gone to? Perhaps the world of fashion may be out of town;
but there must be some two millions of people left in Paris, a quarter
of them at least well-to-do citizens, and able to give as much care as of
old to their toilets. Nevertheless, I assure you, I sought in vain for
one really dainty figure such as one used to meet by the score in every
street. Can twenty years of the true Republic have made La Belle France
dowdy? It is grievous to think of it, and I hope to be undeceived before
I get back amongst the certainly better got-up women of my native land.

For my nine hours’ journey south, I bought a handful of the cheap
illustrated papers--_Le Grelot, Le Troupier_, and others--which seem to
be as much the daily intellectual fare of the French travelling public
as (I regret to say) _Tit-Bits_ and its congeners are, at any rate in
my part of England. Of course it is always difficult to know what “the
people” are thinking or caring about; but to get at what they read must
be not a bad test. A perusal of these certainly surprised me favourably,
especially in this respect, that they were almost entirely free from
the pruriency which is so generally supposed to be the characteristic of
modern French literature.

I wish I could speak half as favourably of the attitude of France, so
far as these journals disclose it, towards her neighbours; but this is
about as bad as it can be, touchy, jealous, and unfair, all round. Take,
for instance, the _Troupier_, which is specially addressed to the
Army. The cartoon represents the “Grand Jeu de Massacre,” at which all
passers-by are invited to join free of charge. The _jeu_ consists of
throwing at a row of puppets, citizens of Alsace-Lorraine, in which
a brutal German soldier is indulging, while the French “Ministre
des Affaires (qui lui sont) Etrangères” slumbers peacefully on a
neighbouring seat. But we come off at least as badly as Germany. In
a vigorous leader, entitled “Une Reculade,” on the Zanzibar Question,
after a very bitter opening against England--“il n’y a guère de pays qui
n’ait été roulé dupé et volé par elle,”--the _Troupier_ breaks into a
song of triumph over the backing-down of England, “flanquée d’Allemagne
et de ses alliés,” before the resolute attitude of France. “Cette
reculade,” it ends, “de nos ennemis indique suffisamment que La France a
repris la place et le rang qui lui conviennent, et qu’elle est de
taille à se faire respecter partout et par tous. C’est tout ce que nous
desirions.” In all commercial and industrial matters we are equally
grasping and unscrupulous. There seems to be just now a great stir
in the sardine industry, and, so far as I can make out, English and
American Companies seem to be competing for a monopoly of that savoury
little fish. It is, however, upon the English “Sardine Union Company,
Limited”--“qui s’appelle en France, Société Générale de l’Industrie
Sardinière de France”--that the vials of journalistic wrath are being
emptied. “Sept polichinelles,” it would seem, have subscribed for one
share each, and the whole scheme is utterly rotten. Nevertheless, this
bogus Company threatens to buy up all the sardine manufactories
in France at fancy prices, and, the control being in England,
will manufacture there all the metal boxes, and will build all the
fishing-boats over there, “au détriment de nos constructeurs Français,”
 and so on, and so on. I was getting quite melancholy over all these
onslaughts on my native country, when I came upon a topic which
alone seems to excite the petit-journaliste more than the sins of the
long-toothed Englishman--viz. those of priests and their followers and
surroundings. Here is a comic example, over which the Grelot foams
in trenchant and sarcastic but incredibly angry sentences. A Belgian
Council has decided to divide the 500 fr. which it has voted to the
“Institut Pasteur,” the vote being “pour M. Pasteur et pour St. Hubert.”
 This remarkable vote was carried on the pleading of a Deputy, who, after
paying homage to M. Pasteur, added: “C’est un grand homme qui a opéré
des cures merveilleuses; seulement il y a un autre grand homme, qui
depuis onze cent soixante-trois années a opéré des miracles, c’est St.
Hubert--M. Pasteur devra travailler longtemps avant d’en arriver là.”
 I am afraid you will have no room for more than one of the scathing
sentences in which the writer tosses this unlucky vote backwards and
forwards: “M. Pasteur acceptera-t-il de partager les 500 fr. avec St.
Hubert (adresse inconnue), ou St. Hubert refusera-t-il de partager avec
M. Pasteur (adresse connue)?--‘That is the question/ comme disait le
nommé Shakespeare.”

It was in the midst of such instructive if not entirely pleasant
reading, that I arrived at Clermont, the old capital of Auvergne, by far
the most interesting town I have been in this quarter of a century,
not excepting Chester. From thence, one comes up to Roy at, about three
miles, in an electric tramway, or by ’bus or cab.



Royat les Bains, 23rd August 1890.

Some thirty years ago, more or less, I remember reading with much
incredulous amusement Sir Francis Head’s “Bubbles of the Brunnen.”
 It was in the early days of the Saturday Review, when the infidel
Talleyrand gospel of surtout jooint de zèle was being preached to young
England week by week in those able but depressing columns. I, like the
rest of my contemporaries, was more or less affected by the cold water
virus, and was certainly inclined to look from the superior person
standpoint on what I could not but regard as the outpourings of the
second childhood of an eccentric septuagenarian, who was really asking
us to believe that the Schwalbach waters were as miraculously potent as
the thigh-bone of St. Glengulphus, of which is it not written in _The
In-goldsby Legends_:--

               And cripples, on touching his fractured _os femoris_,

               Threw down their crutches and danced a quadrille.

I need scarcely say to you, sir, that it is many years since I have been
thoroughly disabused of this depressing heresy; but perhaps one never
quite recovers from such early demoralisation. At any rate, now that I
find myself approaching Sir Francis’s age, and much in his frame of mind
when he blew his exhilarating bubbles, I can’t quite make up my mind to
turn myself loose, as he did, and in Lowell’s words, “pour out my hope,
my fear, my love, my wonder,” upon you and your readers. The real fact,
however, stated in plain (Yankee) prose is, that Schwalbach (I have been
there) “is not a circumstance” to this refuge for the victim of gout,
rheumatism, eczema, dyspepsia, and I know not how many more kindred
maladies, amongst the burnt-out volcanoes of the Department Puy-de-Dome.
Nevertheless, you may fairly say, and I should agree, that my ten days’
experience of the effect of the waters is scarcely sufficient to make
me a trustworthy witness as to the healing properties of these springs.
Twenty-one days is the prescribed course, and as I am as yet but half
through, I will not “holloa till I am out of the wood,” but will try in
the first place to give you some idea of this Royat les Bains and its
surroundings.

Let us look out from this third-floor window at which I am writing, on
the highest guest-floor of the topmost hotel in Royat, to which a happy
chance (or my good angel, if I have one) led me on my arrival. I look
out across a narrow valley, from three to four hundred yards wide, upon
a steep hill which forms its opposite side. They say this hill is a
burnt-out volcano. However that may be, it is now clothed with vineyards
on all but the almost precipitous places where the rock peeps out. On
the highest point, against the sky-line, stands out a small white house,
calling itself the Hôtel de l’Observatoire, from which there must be a
magnificent view; but how it is to be reached I have not yet learned,
for there is no visible road or footpath, and the peasants object to
one’s attempting the ascent through the vineyards. The valley winds up
round this hill, taking a turn to the north, our side widening out and
sweeping back behind Royat Church and village, to which the retreating
hill behind forms a most picturesque background. For, on the lower
slope, just above the houses, are stretches of bright green meadow,
interspersed amongst irregular clumps of oak; above this comes a
brown-red belt of rough ground, growing heather and wild strawberries;
and, again above that, all along the brow, are dense pine woods. The
constant changes of colour which this southern sun brings out all day
long on this hillside make it difficult to break away from one’s window
and descend to the _établissement_ to drink waters and take baths.
This institution lies down at the bottom of the valley I have been
describing, some 200 feet below this window, and 150 feet below the
broad terrace which is thrown out from the ground-floor of this hotel.
From the terrace a rough zigzag path leads down to the brook, which
rushes down from Royat village in a succession of tiny waterfalls,
sending up to us all day the murmur of running water. On reaching the
brook’s bank, we have about one hundred yards to walk by its side, when,
crossing a good road which runs round it, we reach the low wall of
the park, in which lies the bathing establishment. From this point the
electric tram-cars run to Clermont, carrying backwards and forwards
for two sous baigneurs and holiday-folk enough, I should say, to pay
handsome dividends. This park occupies the whole breadth of the valley,
pushing back the houses on either side against the hillsides. Its main
building, a handsome structure, built of lava, with red-tiled roof,
contains all the separate baths and a _piscine_, or swimming bath,
besides a good-sized hall for sanitary gymnastics, and a _salle
d’escrime_, in which a professor instructs pupils daily in fencing and
_le boxe_. The broad path runs from top to bottom of this park, having
this _établissement_ building on its left or northern side, and on its
right two parallel terraces, one above the other. On the lower of
these is the great _source_, the “Eugénie,” which bubbles up here in
magnificent style, sending up some millions of gallons daily. Over the
Eugénie _source_ is a pavilion, with open sides and striped red and
white curtains. A second pavilion on the same terrace, a little lower
down, is devoted to the band, which plays every afternoon for two or
three hours; and below that again, the casino. On the second or upper
terrace are a few favoured _châlet_ shops, for the sale of books,
pictures, photographs, and the pottery and _bijouterie_ of Auvergne.
Then, above again, comes the road which encloses the park, on the
opposite side of which are the row of large hotels built against the
rocky side of the valley, and communicating at the back from their upper
stories with the road which runs up to Royat village. The rest of the
park is laid out in lawns and garden-beds, full of bright flowers and
walks, amongst which are found three other sources--the Cæsar, the St.
Mart, and the St. Victor, each of which has its small drinking-pavilion.
In front of these several pavilions and along the terraces are a
plentiful supply of seats, and chairs which you can carry about to any
spot you may select under the shade of the plane-trees and acacias
which line the terraces and walks, with weeping-willows, chestnuts, and
poplars happily interspersed here and there. The abundant water-supply
which the brook brings down is well utilised, so that the whole
park, some six acres in extent, is kept as fresh and green, and the
flower-beds as luxuriant and bright with colour, as if it were in dear,
damp England. At the bottom of the park, a handsome viaduct of arches,
built of lava, spans the valley, seeming to shut Royat in from the
outer world, and beyond, the valley broadens out into a wide plain, with
Clermont, the capital of Auvergne, in the foreground, and beyond the
city, stretching right away to Switzerland, a splendid sea (as it were)
of corn and maize and vines and olives, the richest, it is said, in the
whole of _la belle_ France. It is stated in all the guidebooks, and by
trustworthy residents, that on a clear day you may see Mont Blanc from
Royat, but as yet I have not been lucky enough.

Unless I have failed altogether in describing the view which lies
constantly before me--from the pine-clad hillside over Royat village,
with its gray church and white red-roofed houses to the west, away down
over the park and surrounding hotels and shops, and viaduct and city and
plain to the far east--you can now fancy what it must be in the early
morning, when the light mist is lying along the hillsides until the sun
has had time to dispose of the clouds in the upper air, or at night,
when the clear sky is thick with stars, and the Northern Lights flame up
behind the silent volcano opposite this Hôtel de Lyon. There is no place
on earth, from the back-slums of great cities to the mountain-peak
or mid-ocean, to which early morns and evening twilights do not bring
daily, or almost daily, some touch of the beauty of light-pictures which
sun and moon and stars paint for us so patiently, whether we heed them
or no; but to get them in their full perfection, one should be able
to look at them in the light, dry, warm air of such places as these
volcanic highlands of Auvergne.

And now for the life we lead in this air and scenery. Every morning
at six I arrive at the Cæsar spring and drink two glasses, with twenty
minutes’ interval between them. Then I climb the hill to _café au lait_
and two small rolls and butter on the terrace, which comes off about
7 A.M., as soon as the last of our party of four has come up from the
park. Rest till eleven follows, when we have _déjeûner à la fourchette_,
which, as we sit down about a hundred, lasts for an hour. In the
afternoon I drink two glasses at the St. Mart spring, and between them
have twenty minutes in the _piscine_, which is my great treat of
the day. Going punctually at two, when the ladies surrender this
swimming-bath to the men, I almost always get it to myself, and enjoy
it as I used to do years ago, when my blood was warm enough, lying about
amongst the waves on the English coast, and letting them just tumble
and toss me about as they would. This water comes warm from the Eugénie
spring daily, and is so buoyant that one can lie perfectly still on the
top of it with one’s hands behind one’s head; and if there were no roof
to the _piscine_, and one could only look straight up all the time into
the deep-blue sky, twice as high, so it looks, as ours in England, the
physical enjoyment would be perfect. It is not far from that as it is,
and I thoroughly sympathise with Browning’s Amphibian:--

               From worldly noise and dust,

                   In the sphere which overbrims

               With passion and thought--why, just

                   Unable to fly, one swims.



Royat les Bains, 30th August 1890.

I suppose there never was a garden since Eden (unless, perhaps, in the
early days of the Jesuit settlements in the Paraguay) in which the devil
has not had a tree or a corner somewhere; and it would be well for us
all if he were no more in evidence in other health and holiday resorts
than he is here in the _parc_. His booth is at the end of the middle
terrace, a small pavilion, well shaded by tall acacias, in which in the
afternoons you can risk a franc, occasionally two, every minute on the
_course des petits chevaux_. The _course_ is a round table, with eight
or ten concentric grooves, in each of which a small horse and jockey
runs. Outside this _course_, with room for a page-boy to move round
between the two, there is a slight railing with a flat top, at which
the players sit round and post their stakes. These are collected by the
page, who lets each player draw a number in exchange for the francs. As
soon as he has made his circuit, the croupier gives a turn to a handle
which works the machinery. The first turn brings all the horses into
line, and the next starts them round the course, each in his own groove.
After another turn or two, the croupier lets go the handle, and the
puppets begin to scatter, the winner being the one which passes the post
last before the machine stops, and they all come to a standstill.

Then the croupier calls out the winning number, and the owner gets
all the stakes, except one, which goes to the table. Beyond this, the
Company has no interest whatever, so it is said. Of course one looks
with jealousy at every such game of chance, and I was inclined to think
at first that the croupier was in league with two women, one spectacled,
who sat steadily at one end of the players, playing in partnership, and
seeming to win oftener than any of the others; but the longer I watched,
the weaker grew my suspicions. Most of the players, by the way, are
women, though there are a few men who come and sit for hours, playing
and smoking cigarettes. Besides the sitters many strollers come
up, stake their francs for a course or two, and then move on, not
unfrequently with a handful of silver. On the whole, if play is to be
allowed at all, it can scarcely take a more harmless form, if only the
good-natured French papa could be kept from letting his children play
for him. He comes up with a child of ten or twelve years, lets them sit
down, and supplies them from behind with the necessary francs, and after
a round or two the little faces flush and hands shake, especially if
they be girls, in a way which is painful to see. A child gambling is
as sad a sight, for every one but the devil and his elect, as this old
world can show.

Next to the _courses des petits chevaux_, at some thirty yards’
distance, comes the large pavilion in which the excellent band sit and
play for an hour in the forenoon and afternoon, and again at 8 P.M.
Round the pavilion is a broad space, gravelled and well shaded,
and furnished with chairs which are occupied all the afternoon by
_baigneurs_ and visitors, mostly in family groups, the women knitting
or sewing, and the children playing about in the intervals of the music,
and before and after the regular concerts. Occasionally they have a _bal
d’enfants_ in this space, controlled by a master of the ceremonies, a
dancing-, master, I am told. Under him the children, boys and girls of
thirteen or fourteen, down to little trots who can scarcely toddle, may
enjoy polkas, galops, and the _taran-tole des postilions_, as well as
the gravel allows; and now and again comes a _défilé_, in which, in
couples carefully graduated according to size and age, the children
march round the walks, and in and out amongst the approving sitters. A
very pretty, and to me rather a curious sight, as I much doubt if the
English boy could be induced to perform such a march, even in the hope
of small packets of bonbons at the end, which are distributed to the
best performers.

The big orchestral platform in this pavilion is often occupied, when the
band is not playing, by itinerant performers, who (I suppose) hire it
from the Company in the hope of getting a few francs out of the sitting
and circulating crowd. The performances are poor, so far as I have seen,
though one conjurer certainly played a trick which entirely beat me at
the time, and for which I am still quite unable to account. He produced
what he called a _garotte_, made of two stout planks which shut one upon
another (like our old stocks), and in which was a central hole for the
neck, and two smaller ones for the wrists. This garotte he handed round,
and though I did not get hold of it, I inspected it in the hands of a
youth who was standing just in front of me, and satisfied myself that
the planks were solid wood. Then he placed it on a stand, and called
up a stout damsel in the flesh-coloured tights which seem to be _de
rigueur_ for all female performers, who knelt down and laid her neck in
the big hole, and a wrist in each of the smaller ones. The conjurer then
let down the upper plank upon her, and having borrowed a signet ring
from an elderly _décoré_ Frenchman who was sitting near the platform,
proceeded to encircle the two planks with strips of stout paper or tape,
which he sealed with the ring. Then he held up a screen for the space
of twenty seconds, and on lowering it the damsel was posturing in her
tights, while the _garotte_ remained _in situ_, with the tapes still
there and the seals unbroken. By what trick she got her head and hands
out I was utterly unable to guess, and strolled away with the rather
provoking sense of having been fooled through my eyes. I hope a green
parrot who flew down and sat on the railing close to the _garotte_, with
his head wisely on one side, flew off better satisfied.

Below, on the lowest terrace, at the end of the _établissement_
buildings, is the _salle d’escrime_, which is open daily in the
afternoons, when you may see through the big windows the “Maître
d’Escrime, Professeur de S.A.R. le Prince des Galles,” sitting ready
to instruct pupils, or, so it seemed, to try a friendly bout with all
comers. The former were generally too much of mere beginners to make any
show worth seeing, but on one day an awkward customer turned up who ran
the professor, so far as I could judge, very hard. Indeed, I am by no
means sure that he acknowledged several shrewd hits, but my knowledge
of fencing is too small to make my judgment worth much. Le boxe is also
announced to go on here, but I have never seen the gloves put on yet.
Indeed, I much doubt whether young Frenchmen really like having their
heads punched for love. It is an eccentricity which does not seem to
spread out of the British Isles. There was a tempting _assaut d’armes_
last Sunday, presided over by General Paquette, at which eleven _maîtres
d’escrime_ of regiments in this department, and one professor from Paris
were to fence. I was sorely tempted to go, but as the thermometer stood
at 80° in the shade, and so reinforced my insular prejudices as to the
day, abstained.

Again, beyond the Casino, on the upper terrace, is a good croquet-ground
on the broad gravel space at the lower end of the _parc_. I should think
it a difficult ground to play on, but as a rule the French boys are
decidedly good players, and seem to enjoy the game thoroughly, and to
get round the hoops quicker than any of ours could do on a lawn like
a billiard-table. The Casino, besides a restaurant and reading-room,
contains a theatre, at which there are performances five nights in
the week, and generally a ball on the off-nights. These are often
fancy-balls, and always, I hear, very lively; but I cannot speak from
experience, never having as yet descended either to them or to the plays
and operettas. When one can sit out on a terrace and see the lights
coming out in the valley, and the Milky Way and all the stars in the
heaven shining as they only do down South, even the artists of the
Théâtre Français, and the other theatrical stars who visit the Casino
in the season, cannot get me indoors o’ nights, even at Casino prices.
These are very reasonable, the _abonnement_ for a seat being only 1
franc a night, or 2 francs for a _fauteuil_. Your readers may perhaps be
able to judge of the kind of entertainment given by a specimen. To-night
there are two operettas,--_Violonnaux_, music by Offenbach; and _Les
Charbonneurs_, music by G. Coste. I own I never heard of either of the
pieces.

I think, sir, you will allow that there are attractions enough of all
kinds provided by the Compagnie Anonyme des Eaux Minérales de Royat, who
own the _parc_ and run the business. They can well afford it, as every
visitor pays 10 francs as an _abonnement_ for drinking the waters, and
the charges for baths are high, e.g. 2.50 francs for a separate bath,
and 2 francs for the swimming-bath, decidedly more than any of our
English watering-places, not excepting Bath; but one has so much more
fun, if one wants it, for the money. And then there is this immense
thing to be said for this Royat Company,--their park is entirely free
and open to any one who cares to walk through it. I have seen scores of
peasants in blouses, and their wives, sitting about during the concerts,
not on the same terrace with the band, where a sou is charged for
chairs, but near enough to hear the music perfectly; and one meets them
all about the garden, walking and chatting amongst the--I was going to
write “well dressed,” but that they are not, but eminently respectable,
if rather dowdy--crowds of bathers and visitors. I do not, of course,
mean that there are no exceptions, either in the case of dowdiness or
respectability, but they are rare enough to prove the rule. On the other
hand, the number of religious of both sexes is remarkable who come to
use the waters, principally for throat ailments. Sisters of several
kinds, some wearing black hoods with white breastplates, others in large
white head-dresses, with long flaps, like a bird’s wings, which flap as
they walk, are frequent in the early mornings and other quiet times; and
besides the regular clergy, there are three monkish orders represented.
Of these the most striking are two Franciscans, I believe, clad in
rough, ruddy-brown flannel gowns, reaching to the ground, with large
rosaries hanging before and cowls behind, and girt with knotted ropes.
Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade in the neighbouring Church
of St. Mary of the port at Clermont, assisted doubtless by many a friar
clad precisely as these are, except that the modern monk or friar (as
I was disappointed to note, at any rate in one case) does not go
bare-footed, or even in sandals, but in substantial shoes and trousers!
I was much struck by the quiet, patient, and reverent expression on
all the faces, very different from what I remember in past years.
Persecution may very well account, however, for this. There is no
branch, I take it, of the Church Universal which does not thrive under
it, in the best sense.



Auvergne en Fête, 6th September 1890.

These good folk of Auvergne seem to get much more fun, or at least much
more play, out of life than we do; at any rate, they have been twice _en
fête_ in the three weeks we have been here. I suppose it is because we
have in this business cut down our saints till we have only St. Lubbock
left, with his quarterly holiday, while they, more wisely, have stuck to
the old calendar. But it seems all wrong that they, who get five times
as much sun as we, should also get three or four times as many holidays;
for sunshine is surely of itself a sort of equivalent for a holiday.
Perhaps, however, if we had lots of it, the national “doggedness as does
it” might wear out. That valuable, but unpleasant characteristic could
scarcely have leavened a nation living in a genial climate; but, with
about half Africa on our hands, in addition to Ireland and other trifles
all round the world, the coming generation will need the “dogged as does
it” even more than their fathers. So let us sing with Charles Kingsley,
“Hail to thee, North-Easter,” or with the old Wiltshire shepherd,
claim that the weather in England must be, anyhow, “sech as plaazes God
A’mighty, and wut plaazes He plaazes I.”

Determined to see all the fun of the fair, a friend and I started for
Clermont from Royat by the electric tramway, and reached the Place de
Jaude in a few minutes--the “Forum Clermontois,” as it is called in
the local guidebooks--the largest open space in the ancient capital of
Auvergne. It is a famous place for a fair, being nearly the size and
shape of Eaton Square, with two rows of plane-trees running round it,
but otherwise unenclosed. As we alighted from the tram-car, we could see
a long line of booths, with prodigious pictures in front of them, and
platforms on which bands were playing and actors gesticulating; but
before starting on our tour, we were attracted by a crowd close to the
stopping-place of the cars. It proved to be a ring, four or five deep,
round the carpet of athletes. They were two, a man and a woman, both in
the usual flesh-coloured tights, the latter without any pretence of a
skirt. The man was walking round, changing the places of the weights and
clubs, until sufficient sous had been thrown on to the carpet, the woman
screening her face from the sun with a big fan, and talking with her
nearest neighbours in the ring. She was a remarkably fine young woman,
with well-cut features, and a snake-head on a neck like a column; and,
strange to say, her expression was as modest and quiet as though pink
tights were the ordinary walking-dress on the Place de Jaude. The
necessary sous were soon carpeted, and the performance began. It was
just the usual thing, lifting and catching heavy weights, wielding
clubs, etc., the only novelty being that a woman should be one of the
performers. She followed the man, doing several feats with heavy weights
which were painful to witness, and we passed on to the row of booths.
The average price for entrance was 2 1/2 sous, but after experimenting
on the two first, we agreed that in such a temperature the outside was
decidedly the best part of the show. These two were some Indian dancers,
male and female, who stood up one after another and postured from the
hips, and waved scarfs, the rest beating time on banjos; and a “_Miss_
Flora, _dompteuse_,” a snake-tamer. From this announcement over the
booth entrance we rather expected to find a countrywoman, but the
performer was a squat little Frenchwoman, in the same skirtless tights,
who took some sleepy snakes out of a box, put them round her neck, and
then wanted to make us pay a second time, which we declined to do. The
next booth ought to have been amusing, but no boys came to play while
we stopped. It was announced as “Le Massacre d’Innocents.” A number of
these “Innocent” puppets looked out of a row of holes in a large wooden
frame, not more than eight feet from the rail in front of it. Standing
behind this rail the player, on paying 5 centimes, is handed a soft
ball, which he can discharge at any one of the Innocents he may select,
and “chaque bonhomme renversé gagne une demi-douzaine de biscuits.” I
suppose the biscuits were bad, as otherwise the absence of boys seemed
incredible. Any English lower-school boy would have brought down a
_bonhomme_ at that distance with every ball, unless the balls were
somehow doctored. But no boy turned up; so we passed on to the biggest
booth in the fair, with pictures of wondrous beasts and heroic men
and women over the platform, on which a big drum and clarionet invited
entrance, in strains which drowned those of all the neighbouring booths.
We read that inside a “Musée historique, destructive, et amusant” was on
show, but contented ourselves with the pictures outside.

Facing the other side of the place, with their backs to the larger
booths along which we had come, were a row of humbler stalls and booths,
most of the latter being devoted to some kind of gambling. There were
three or four _courses des petits chevaux_, not so well appointed as the
permanent one in the Royat Park, but on the same lines, and a number
of hazard-boards-and other tables, about the size of those which the
thimble-riggers used to carry about at English fairs. These last were
new to me. They have a hollow rim round them, into which the player puts
a large marble, which runs out on to the face of the table, which is
marked all over with numbers, six or eight towards the centre being red,
and the rest black. If the marble stops on one of these red numbers, the
player wins; if on a black one, the table wins. The odds seemed to be
more than twenty to one against the player; but if so, the tables would
surely be less crowded. As it was, they did a merry trade, never for a
moment wanting a player while we looked on. Most of these were soldiers
of the garrison, interspersed with peasants in blouses, who dragged out
their sous with every token of disgust and resentment, but seemed quite
unable to get away from the tables. On the whole, after watching for
some time, I was confirmed in the belief that we are right in putting
down gambling in all public places. Nothing, I suppose, can stop it; but
there is no good in thrusting the temptation under the noses of boys and
fools.

After making the round of the fair, we strolled up the hill to the
Cathedral, which dominates the city, and looks out over as fair and rich
a prospect as the world has to show. Brassey, when he was building one
of the railways across La Limagne, the plain which stretches away
east of Clermont, is reported to have said that if France were utterly
bankrupt, the surface value of her soil would set her on her legs again
in two years; and one can quite believe him. The streets of the old
town, which surrounds the Cathedral, are narrow and steep, but full
of old houses of rare architectural interest. Many of them must have
belonged to great folk, whose arms are still to be seen over the doors,
inside the quiet courts through which you enter from the streets. In
these one could see, as we passed, little groups of gossips, knitting,
smoking, “_causer_-ing.” The _petit bourgeois_ has succeeded to the
noble, and now enjoys those grand, broad staircases and stone balconies.
They form an excellent setting to the Cathedral, itself a grand specimen
of Norman Gothic, begun by Hugues de la Tour, the sixty-sixth bishop,
before his departure for the Crusades, and finished by Viollet-le-Duc,
who only completed the twin spires in 1877. But interesting as the
Cathedral is, it is eclipsed by the Church of Notre Dame du Port, the
oldest building in Clermont. It dates from the sixth century, when the
first church was built on the site by St. Avitus, eighteenth bishop.
This was burnt 853 A.D., and rebuilt by St. Sigon, forty-third bishop,
in 870. Burnt again, it was again rebuilt as it stands to-day, in the
eleventh century. In it Peter the Hermit is said to have preached the
First Crusade, when the Council called by Pope Urban II. was sitting at
Clermont. Whether this be so or not, it is by far the most perfect and
interesting specimen of the earliest Gothic known to me; and the crypt
underneath the chancel is unique. It is specially dedicated to St. Mary
du Port, and over the altar is the small statue of the Virgin and Child,
around and before which votive offerings of all kinds--crosses and
military decorations, bracelets, jewels, trinkets, many of them, I
should think, of large value--hang and lie. The small image has no
beauty whatever--in fact, is just a plain black doll--but of untold
value to many generations of Auvernois, who regard it as a talisman
which has, again and again, preserved their city from sword and
pestilence. I am not sure whether, amongst the small marble tablets
which literally cover the walls, one may not be found in memory of the
great fight of Gergovia, in which Vercingétorix, if he did not actually
defeat Cæsar, turned the great captain and his Roman legions away from
this part of Gaul. At any rate, amongst the most prominent, is one
inscribed with the names “Coulmiers,” “Patay,” “Le Mans,” the battles
which in 1870-71 stayed the German advance on Clermont, and saved the
capital of Auvergne. The rest are, for the most part, private tablets,
thanksgivings for the cure of all manner of sickness and disease to
which flesh is heir. To this shrine all sufferers have come in the
faith which finds a voice all round these old walls,--“Qu’on est heureux
d’avoir Marie pour mère”! That human instinct which longs for a female
protectrix and mediator “behind the veil,” speaks here, too, as it
did 2000 years ago, when the [Greek phrase] guarded the shrines of
Athens and her colonies.



Scoppio Del Carro, Florence, Easter Eve, 1891.

I have just come back from witnessing an extraordinary, and, I should
think, a unique ceremony, which is enacted here on Easter Eve; and, on
sitting down quietly to think it over, can scarcely say whether I am
most inclined to laugh, or to cry, or to swear. In truth, the “Scoppio
del Carro”--or “explosion of the fireworks”--as it is called, is a
curious comment on, or illustration of, your last week’s remarks on
Superstitions. “The carefully preserved dry husk of outward observance”
 in this case undoubtedly speaks, to those who have ears to hear, of a
heroic time, and the spectator rubs his eyes, and feels somehow--

                   As though he looked upon the sheath

                   Which once had clasped Excalibur.

At any rate, that is rather how I felt, as, standing at noon in the
dense crowd in the nave of the Duomo, I saw the procession pass within
a few feet of me, on their way from the great entrance up to the high
altar, which was ablaze already with many tall candles. Although within
a few feet, the intervening crowd was so thick that I could only see the
heads and shoulders of the taller choristers and priests as they passed;
but I saw plainly enough, though the wearer was low of stature, the tall
mitre--it looked like gold--which the Archbishop wore as he walked in
the procession. Our bishops, I am told, are wearing or going to wear
them (Heaven save the mark!), which made me curious. They threaded their
way slowly up to the high altar; and presently we heard in the distance
intoning and chants; and then, after brief pause, the dove (so called)
started from the crucifix, I think, at any rate from a high point on the
altar, for the open door. But in order to be clear as to what the dove
carries and is supposed to do, we must go back to the Second Crusade.

I give the story as I make it out by comparing the accounts in various
guide-books with those of residents interested in such matters. These
differ much in detail, but not as to the main facts. These are, that
in 1147 A.D. a Florentine noble of the Pazzi family, Raniero by name,
joined, some say led, the 2500 Tuscans who went on the Crusade. In any
case, he greatly distinguished himself by his courage, and is said to
have planted the first standard of the Cross on the walls of Jerusalem.
For this he was allowed to take a light from the sacred fire on the Holy
Sepulchre, which he desired to carry back to his much-loved F’orence. An
absurd part of the legend now comes in. Finding the wind troublesome as
he rode with the light, he turned round, with his face to his horse’s
tail (as if the wind always blew in Crusaders’ faces), and so at last
brought it safely home, where his ungrateful fellow-citizens, when they
saw him come riding in this fashion, called out, “Pazzo!” “Pazzo!” or
“Mad!” which his family forthwith wisely adopted as their patronymic.

The sacred fire was housed in a shrine in St. Biagio, built by Raniero,
and has never been allowed to go out since that day--so it is said--and
from it yearly are relighted all the candles used in Florentine churches
at the Easter festival. It is a striking custom. Gradually, during the
Good Friday services, the lights are extinguished in the Duomo, and all
the churches, till at midnight they are in darkness, and are only relit
next day by fire brought even yet by a Pazzi, a descendant of Raniero,
from St. Biagio. This is, however, doubtful, some authorities asserting
that the family is extinct, others that it not only exists, but still
spends 2000 lire a year in preserving the sacred fire. A stranger has
no means that I know of, of sifting out the fact. Anyhow, I can testify
that somehow the fire is in the Duomo before noon, as any number of
candles were alight on the high altar when I got there at 11.30, half an
hour before the procession. Anything more orderly than the great crowd I
have never seen. It was of all nations, languages, and ranks, though
the great majority were Tuscan peasants with their families from all the
surrounding country, waiting in eager expectation for the flight of
the dove from the high altar, through the doors to the great car which
stands waiting outside at the bottom of the broad steps in front of the
Duomo. If the dove makes a successful flight, and lights the fireworks
which are hung round the car, there will be a good harvest and abundance
of wine and oil, and of oranges and lemons. This year the faces of the
peasants and their wives and children--and most attractive brown faces
they were--were anxious, for it had been raining hard in the morning,
and still drops were falling. However, all went well. At about 12.10
the chanting ceased, and the dove--a small firework of the rocket
genus--rushed down the nave, some ten feet over our heads, along a
thin wire which I had not noticed before, and set light promptly to
the fireworks on the car, which began to turn and explode, not without
considerable fizzing and spluttering, but on the whole successfully.
Then the dove turned and came back, still alight, and leaving a trail of
sparks as it sped along, to the high altar. How it was received there,
and what became of it, I cannot say, as I was swept along in the rush to
the doors which immediately followed, and had enough to do to pilot my
companion, a lady, to the new centre of interest. This was the car to
which the sacred fire had now been transferred, and which was about to
start on its round to the other churches. It is chocolate-coloured, and
spangled with stars, some twenty feet high, surmounted by a large crown
and Catherine-wheel. As our crowd swept out of the Duomo and down the
steps, to mingle with the still larger crowd outside, men were rehanging
the car with fresh fireworks, and putting-to four mighty white oxen,
gaily garlanded. I remarked that the conductor, a tall, six-foot man,
could not look over the shoulder of one of these shaft-oxen as he was
harnessing him in the shafts!

There could be no question as to the very best place for spectators.
It was the centre of the top step leading up to the Duomo façade; and,
finding ourselves there, we stopped and let the crowd surge past us.
Almost at once I became aware that this favoured spot was occupied
by the English-speaking race almost exclusively, the accent of cousin
Jonathan, I think, on the whole predominating. Two Italian boys looked
up at us with large, lustrous brown eyes; otherwise the natives were
absent. It seems like a sort of law of social gravitation, that in these
latter days the speakers of our language should get into all the world’s
best places, and having got there should stop. One cannot much wonder
that the speakers in other tongues should feel now and then as if they
were being rather crowded out. We did not pursue the car as it
lumbered away under the glorious campanile, surrounded by the rejoicing
multitude, for the sun had now got the upper hand, and the whole city
and plain right away to the lower hills, and the snow-capped Apennines
in the background, were aglow with the sort of subdued purple or
amethyst light which seems to me to differentiate Tuscany from all other
countries known to me. Now, gradually to put out all the lights in the
churches on Good Friday, and to relight them from fire from the Holy
Sepulchre next day, seems to me a worthy and pathetic custom; but this
mixing it up with the firework business, and having the Bishop and all
the strength of the Cathedral out to help in this dove trick, spoils the
whole thing, and makes one wish one had not gone to see it, recalling
too forcibly, as it does to an Englishman, the Crystal Palace on a
fireworks’ night, and the similar “dove” which travels from the Royal
Gallery, where too-well-fed citizens and others sit smoking, to light
the great “concerted piece” in the grounds below. It was like inserting
“Abracadabra!” in the middle of the “Miserere.” P.S.--Since writing
the ‘above, we have had an arrival in Florence which will interest your
readers,--to wit, fifty young persons of both sexes from Toynbee Hall,
with Mr. Bolton King as conductor; and the English community are doing
all they can to make their stay pleasant. On the morrow of their arrival
Lady Hobart entertained them at her villa of Montauto, the one in which
Hawthorne wrote _Transformation_. It is a thirteenth-century house,
or, I should rather say, that the villa, with its large, airy suite of
rooms, with vaulted ceilings, has grown round a machicolated tower*
of that date, the highest building on the Bellosquardo Hill, to the
south-west of the city. From the top of it, reached by rather rickety
and casual old stairs, there is, I should think, as glorious a view
as the world can show,--a perfect panorama, with Florence lying
right below, and beyond, Fiesole and Vallombrosa, and the village of
stone-cutters on the slope of the Apennines, which reared the greatest
of stonecutters, Michael Angelo, and beyond, the highest Apennines,
still snow-covered; and to the north, the rich plain of vineyards, and
olive-groves, and orange and lemon gardens, thickly sprinkled with
the bright white houses of the peasant cultivators and the graceful
campaniles of village churches, beyond which one could see clearly on
this “white-stone” day the snow-clad peaks of the Carrara Mountains in
the far north. I can hardly say whether the Toynbee visitors, or those
who were gathered to welcome them by the hospitable hostess, enjoyed
the unrivalled view most; but this we soon discovered, that the visitors
were about as well acquainted with the story of each point of interest,
as it was pointed out to them, as the oldest resident. Surely the
schoolmaster is at last abroad with us in England in many ways of which
we have good right to feel proud, and for which we may well be thankful.



A Scamper at Easter, 8th April 1893.

No one can dislike more than I the habit which has become so common of
late years amongst us--thanks, or rather no thanks, to Mr. Gladstone--of
running down our own English ways of dealing with all creation, from
Irishmen to black-beetles. I believe, on the contrary, that on the whole
there is not, nor ever was, a nation that kept a more active conscience,
or tried more honestly to do the right thing all round according to its
lights. Nevertheless, I am bound to admit that our methods don’t always
succeed, as, for instance, with our treatment of our “submerged tenth,”
 if that is the accepted name for the section of our people which Mr. G.
Booth, in his excellent _Life and Labour in London_, places in his A and
B classes (and which, by the way, are only 8.2, and not 10 per cent),
or with our seagulls. Some years ago I called your readers’ attention to
the rapid demoralisation of these beautiful birds at one of our northern
watering-places; how they just floated past the pier-heads hour after
hour, waiting for the doles which the holiday folk and their children
brought down for them in paper-bags. Our sea-going gulls, I regret
to note, are now similarly affected. At any rate, some forty of them
diligently followed the steamer in which I sailed for my Easter holiday,
from the Liverpool docks till we dropped our pilot and, turned due south
off Holyhead. By that time our last meal had been eaten and the remains
cast into the sea. The gulls seemed to be quite aware of this; and
we left them squabbling over the last scraps of fish and potatoes, or
loafing slowly back to Liverpool. Thirty-six hours later we entered
the Garonne, and steamed sixty miles up it to Bordeaux. For all that
distance there were plenty of French gulls on the water or in the air,
but, so far from following us, not one of them seemed to take the least
notice of us, but all went on quietly with their fishing or courting;
and yet our cook’s mate must have thrown out as much broken victuals
after breakfast in the Garonne as he did after luncheon or dinner on the
Welsh coast. It cannot be because the French gulls are Republicans,
for the Republic has, if anything, increased the national appetite for
unearned loaves and fishes. It is certainly very odd; but, anyhow, I
hope our gulls will not take to more self-respecting ways of life, for
it is a real treat to watch them in the ship’s wake, without effort,
often without perceptible motion of the wings, keeping up the fourteen
knots an hour. The Captain and I fraternised over the gulls, whom he
loves, and will not allow to be shot at from his ship. “I’ll shoot
whether you like it or not,” insisted a sporting gent on a recent
voyage. “If you do, I’ll put you in irons,” retorted the Captain;
whereupon the sporting gent collapsed--a pity, I think, for an
action for false imprisonment would have been interesting under the
circumstances. I fancy the Captain is right, but must look up the law
after Easter.

I am surprised that this route is not more popular with the increasing
numbers of our people who like a short run to the south of France in our
hard spring weather. You can get by this way to Bordeaux quicker than
you can by Dover or Folkestone from any place north of Trent, unless you
travel day and night, and sleep on the trains, and for about half
the money. The packets are cargo-boats, but with excellent cabins and
sleeping accommodation for twelve or fourteen passengers, including as
good a bath as on a Cunard or White Star liner. And yet I was the only
passenger last week. There can scarcely be a more interesting short
voyage for any one who is a decent sailor; but I suppose the fourteen
or sixteen hours “in the Bay of Biscay, oh!” scares people. As far as my
experience goes, the Atlantic roars like a sucking-dove in the Channel
and the Bay at Easter-time. There was not wind enough to dimple the
ocean surface, and until we passed Milford Haven, no perceptible motion
on the ship. Then, as we crossed the opening of the Bristol Channel,
she began to roll--quite unaccountably, as it seemed at first; but
on watching carefully, one became aware that, though the surface was
motionless, the great deep beneath was heaving with long pulsations
from the west, which lifted us in regular cadence every thirty or forty
seconds. I have often crossed the Atlantic, but never seen the like, as
always before there has been a ripple on the calmest day, which gave the
effect, at any rate, of surface motion. The best idea I can give of it
is, if on a long stretch of our South Downs the successive turf slopes
took to rising and falling perpendicularly every minute. The Captain
said there must have been wild weather out west, and these were the
rollers. It was a grand sight to watch the great heave pass on till
it reached the Land’s End, and ran up the cliffs there. We passed near
enough to see the mining works, close to the level of high-tide, and the
villages on the cliff-tops above, or clinging on to the slopes wherever
these were not too precipitous. One can realise what manner of men and
sailors this Ear West has bred of old, and, I hope, still breeds. I pity
the Englishman whose pulse does not quicken as he sails by the Land’s
End, and can see with a glass some of the small harbours out of which
Drake and Frobisher and Hawkins sailed, and drew the crews that followed
and fought the Armada right away to the Straits of Dover.

As the Land’s End light receded, we became aware of another light away
some twenty miles to the south-west. It is on a rock not fifty yards
across, the Captain says, at high tide, and often unapproachable
for weeks together--“The Hawk,” by name, on which are kept four
lighthouse-men, who spend there alternate months, weather permitting.
I was glad to hear that there are four at a time, as the sight of “The
Hawk” brought vividly to my mind the gruesome story of fifty years back,
when there were only two men, who were known not to be good friends. One
died, and his companion had to wait with the dead body for weeks before
his relief came.

I noticed, before we were two hours out, that there was something
unusually smart about the crew, quite what one would look for on the
_Umbria_ or _Germanic_, but scarcely on a 700-tons cargo-boat plying to
Bordeaux. Several of the young hands were fine British tars, with the
splendid throats and great muscular hands and wrists which stand out so
well from the blue woollen jerseys; but the one who struck me most was
the ship’s carpenter, a gray, weather-beaten old salt, who was going
round quietly, but all the time with his broad-headed hammer, setting
little things straight, helping to straighten the tarpaulins over the
hatches and deck-cargo, and sounding the well. I caught him now and then
for a few words, as he passed my deck-chair, and got the clue. Most of
the crew were Naval Reserve men, and followed the Captain, a lieutenant
in the R.N.R., who could fly the blue ensign in foreign ports, which
they liked. Besides, he was a skipper who cared for his men, looked
after their mess and berths, and never wanted to make anything out of
them; charged them only a shilling a pound for their baccy, the price at
which he could get it out of bond, while most skippers charged 2s. 6d.,
the shop price. He had come to this boat while his big ship was laid
up in dock, to oblige the owners, so they had followed him. Besides,
he never put them to any work he wouldn’t bear a hand in; had stood for
hours up to his waist last year in the hold when they were bringing
five hundred cattle and seven hundred hogs from Canada, running before a
heavy gale. The water they shipped was putting out the engine fires,
and the pumps wouldn’t work till they had bailed for ten hours. However,
they got in all right, and never lost a beast. Of course I was keen to
hear the Captain on this subject, and so broached it at his table.
Yes, it was quite true; they had run before a heavy gale from off
Newfoundland, and the pumps gave out off the Irish coast. They got the
sludge bailed out enough for all the fires to get to work just about in
time, or would have drifted on the rocks and gone all to pieces in a few
minutes. Yes, it was about the nastiest piece of work he had ever had to
do; the sludge, for it was only half water, was above his waist, and had
quite spoiled his uniform. The deck engineer--a light-haired man, all
big bones and muscle, whom he pointed out to me--was in the deepest
part of the hold up to his arm-pits, and had worked there for ten hours
without coming up! He was a R.N.R. man, like the old carpenter and
most of the rest. The old fellow was one of the staunchest and best
followers, probably because he was tired of going aground. He had been
aground seventeen times! for the Captain in his last ship had a way
of charging shoals, merely saying, “Oh, she’ll jump it!” which she
generally declined to do. The Captain is a strong Churchman, but shares
the prejudice against carrying ministers. “The devil always has a show”
 when you’re carrying a minister. The first time he tried it, he was
taking out his own brother, and they were twenty-two days late at
Montreal. It was an awful crossing, a gale in their teeth all the way;
most of the ships that started with them had to put back. I suggested
that if he hadn’t had his brother on board, he mightn’t have got over
at all; but he wouldn’t see it. Next time, a man fell from the mast-head
and was killed; and the next, a man jumped overboard. He would never
carry a minister again if he could help it.

One pilot took us out to Holyhead, but it took three French ones to
take us up to Bordeaux. The Garonne banks are only picturesque here and
there; but the flat banks have their own interest, for do we not see
the choicest vineyards of the claret country as we run up? There was
the Chateau Lafitte and the Chateau Margaux. I suppose one ought within
one’s heart, or rather, within one’s palate perhaps, “to have felt a
stir”--

               As though one looked upon the sheath

               Which once had clasped Excalibur.

But I could not tell the difference between Margaux and any decent
claret with my eyes shut, so I did not feel any stir--unless, perhaps,
as a patriot, when we passed much the most imposing establishment, and
the Captain said, “That is Chateau Gilbey”! I looked with silent wonder,
for did I not remember years ago, when the Gladstone Grocers’ Licences
Bill was young, and the Christie Minstrels sung scoffingly--

               Ten little niggers going out to dine,

               One drank Gilbey, and then there were nine?

And here was Gilbey with the finest “caves” and the choicest vineyard
in the Bordelaise! Who can measure the competitive energy of the British
business-man?

I must end as I set out, with the birds. As we neared the mouth of
the Garonne, sixteen miles from land, the Captain said, two little
water-wagtails flitted into the rigging. There they rested a few
minutes, and then, to my grief, started off out to sea, but again
and again came hack to the ship. At last a sailor caught one, and the
Captain secured it and took it to his cabin, but thought it would be
sure to die. It was the hen-bird. She did not die, but flitted away
cheerfully when he brought her out and let her fly on the quay of
Bordeaux. But I fear she will never find her mate.



Lourdes, 15th April 1893.

The farthest point south in our Easter scamper was Lourdes, to which
I found that my companions were more bent on going than to any other
possible place within our range. The attractions even of the Pass of
Ronces-valles, of St. Sebastian, and the Pyrenean battle-fields of 1814,
faded with them before those of the nineteenth-century Port Royal. At
first I said I would not go. The fact is, I am one of the old-fashioned
folk who hold that some day the kingdoms of this world are to become the
kingdoms of Christ, and that all peoples are to be gathered “in one fold
under one Shepherd.” It has always seemed to me that one of the surest
ways of postponing that good time is to be suspicious of other faiths
than our own; to accuse them of blind superstition and deliberate
imposture; even to walk round their churches as if they were museums or
picture-galleries, while people are kneeling in prayer. So I said “No”;
I would stop on the terrace at Pau, with one of the most glorious views
in the world to look at, and carefully examine Henry IV.’s château,
or go and get a round of golf with my hibernating fellow-countrymen. I
thought that the probable result of visiting Lourdes might be to make me
more inclined to think a large section of my fellow-mortals dupes, and
their priests humbugs--conclusions I was anxious to avoid. However, I
changed my mind at the last moment, and am heartily glad I did. It is an
easy twenty miles (about) from Pau, from which you run straight to the
Pyrenees, and pull up in a green nook of the outlying lower mountains,
where two valleys meet, which run back towards the higher snow-capped
range. They looked so tempting to explore, as did also the grim old keep
on the high rock which divides them and completely dominates the little
town, that twenty years ago I couldn’t have resisted, and should have
gone for an afternoon’s climb. But I am grown less lissom, if not wiser,
and so took my place meekly in the fly which my companions had chartered
for the grotto. We were through the little town in a few minutes, the
only noteworthy thing being the number of women who offered us candles
of all sizes to burn before the Madonna’s statue in the grotto, and the
number of relic-shops. Emerging from the street, we found ourselves in
front of a green lawn, at the other end of which was a fine white marble
church, almost square, with a dome--more like a mosque, I thought, than
a Western church; and up above this another tall Gothic church, with a
fine spire, to which the pilgrims ascend by two splendid semi-circular
flights of easy, broad steps, one on each side of the lower church, and
holding it, as it were, in their arms. We, however, drove up the steep
ascent outside the left or southern staircase, and got down at the door
of the higher church, which is built on the rock at the bottom of which
is the famous spring and grotto. We entered by a spacious porch, where
my attention was at once arrested by the mural tablets of white marble,
each of which commemorated the cure of some sufferer: “Reconnaissance
pour la guérison de mon fils,” “de ma fille,” etc., being at least as
frequent as those for the cure of the person who put up the tablet. I
thought at first I would count them, but soon gave it up, as not only
this big vestibule, but the walls of all the chapels, and of the big
church below (built, I was told, and hope, by the Duke of Norfolk at his
own cost), are just covered with them. This upper church was a perfect
blaze of light and colour, much too gorgeous for my taste; but what the
decorations were which gave this effect I cannot say, as I was entirely
absorbed in noting the votive offerings of all kinds which were hung
round each of the shrines, both here and in the lower church. The most
noteworthy of these, to my mind, are the number of swords, epaulettes,
and military decorations, which their owners have hung up as thank
offerings. I do not suppose that French officers and privates differ
much from ours, and I am bold to assert that Tommy Atkins would not part
with his cross or medal, or his captain, for that matter, with his
epaulettes or sword, if they had gone away from Lourdes no better in
body than when they went there hobbling from wounds, or tottering from
fever or ague.

When we had seen the upper church we went down a long flight of circular
stairs, and came out in the lower (Duke of Norfolk’s) church,--much more
interesting, I think, architecturally, and decorated in better, because
quieter, taste than the upper one. From this we went round to the grotto
in the rock, on which the upper church stands, and in which the famous
spring rises, and over it a not unpleasant (I cannot say more) statue
of the Madonna; and all round candles alight of all sizes, from
farthing-dips to colossal moulds, many of which had been burning, they
said, for a week. A single, quiet old priest sat near the entrance
reading his Missal, but only speaking when spoken to. In front were
ranged long rows of chairs, on which sat or knelt some dozen pilgrims
with wistful faces, waiting, perhaps for the troubling of the waters.
These are carried from the grotto to a series of basins along the rock
outside, at one of which two poor old crones with sore eyes were bathing
them, and talking Basque (I believe)--at any rate some unknown tongue
to me. I should have liked to hear their experiences, but they couldn’t
understand a word of my Anglican French. Here, again, the most
striking object is the mass of crutches of all shapes and sizes, and
fearsome-looking bandages, which literally cover the rock on each
side of the entrance to the grotto, for the space (I should guess) of
fourteen or fifteen feet on one side, and ten or twelve on the other.

And so we finished our inspection, and went back to our fly, which we
had ordered to meet us at the end of the lawn above mentioned, which
lies between the churches and the town; and so to the railway station,
and back to Biarritz by Pau. I daresay that people who go there at the
times when the great bodies of pilgrims come, may carry away a very
different impression from mine. All I can say is, that I never was in
a place where there was less concealment of any kind; and there was no
attempt whatever to influence you in any way by priest or attendant.
There were all the buildings and the grotto open, and you could examine
them and their contents undisturbed for any time you chose to give to
them, and draw from your examination whatever conclusions you pleased.
So I, for one, can only repeat that I am heartily glad that I went; and
shall think better of my Roman Catholic brethren as the result of my
visit for the rest of my life.

Of course, the main interest of Lourdes lies in the world-old
controversy between the men of science and the men of faith, as to the
reality of the alleged facts--miracles, as many folk call them--of the
healing properties which the waters of this famous spring, or the air of
Lourdes, or the Madonna, or some other unknown influence, are alleged
to possess, and to be freely available for invalid pilgrims who care
to make trial of them. Every one in those parts that I met, at Lourdes
itself, at Pau, Biarritz, Bayonne, is interested in the question and
ready to discuss it. Perhaps I can best indicate the points of the
debate by formulating the arguments on each side which I heard, putting
them into the mouths of representative men--a doctor and a priest. I
was lucky enough to fall in with an excellent representative of the
scientific side, an able and open-minded M.D. on his travels. I had no
opportunity of speaking to one of the priests; but their side of the
argument is stoutly upheld by at least half of the people one meets.

_Dr._--They are nothing but what are called faith-cures, akin to those
which the Yankee Sequah effects when he goes round our northern towns
in his huge car, with his brass band and attendant Indian Sachems in the
costume of the prairie. Of course, here the surroundings are far more
impressive and serious; but the cures are the same for all that--some
action of the nerves which makes patients believe they are cured, when
they are not really. Probably nine-tenths are just as bad again in a few
months.

_Priest_.--Well, don’t we say they are faith-cures? We don’t pretend
that we can do them, as this Sequah you talk about does. You allow that
great numbers _think_ they are cured, and walk about without crutches or
bandages, or pains in their bodies, and enjoy life again for a time at
any rate; which is more than you can do for them, or they wouldn’t come
here to be healed.

_Dr_.--How long do they walk about without crutches or pains in their
limbs? Why don’t you take us behind the scenes, and let us test and
follow up some of these cures?

_Priest_.--We can’t take you behind the scenes, for there are no scenes
to go behind. We tell you _we_ don’t do the cures, or know precisely how
they are done. We can’t hinder your inquiries, and don’t want to hinder
them if we could. There are the tablets of “reconnaissance,” with names
and addresses; you can go to these, if you like, or talk to the patients
whom you see at the spring or in the chapels.

_Dr_.--Come, now! You don’t really mean to say you believe that our
Lord’s Mother appeared to this girl on 23rd March 1858, and told her
that this Lourdes was a specially favourite place with her; and that she
has since that time given these special healing qualities to the water
or air of Lourdes, or whatever it is that causes these effects at this
place?

_Priest_.--We mean to say that the girl thoroughly believed it, and we
hold that her impression--her certainty--didn’t come from the devil, as
it must if it was a lie; that it wasn’t the mere dream of a hysterical
girl, and was not given her for nothing. Else, how can one account
for these buildings, costing, perhaps, as much as one of your finest
cathedrals, all put up in thirty-five years?

_Dr_.--Yes; but that doesn’t answer my question. Did the Mother of our
Lord appear to this girl, and is it she who works the cures.

_Priest_.--If you mean by “appear,” “come visibly,” we don’t know. But
you should remember always that the French have a very different feeling
about the Madonna from you English. Perhaps you can’t help connecting
her with another French girl, Joan of Arc, who believed the Madonna had
appeared to her and told her she should turn you English out of France,
which she did--a more difficult and costly job even than building these
churches.

_Dr_.--Well, we won’t argue about the Madonna, and I am quite ready
to admit that the evidence you have here, in the tablets and votive
offerings, the crutches and bandages, are _primâ-facie_ proof that
numbers of pilgrims have gone away from Lourdes under the impression
that they were cured. What I maintain is, that you have not shown, and
cannot show, that your cures are not merely due to the absorption of
diseased tissue as the result of strong excitement--an effect not at all
common, but quite recognised as not unfrequent by some of the highest
authorities in medical science.

There the controversy rests, I think; at any rate, so far as I heard it
debated; and I must own that the scientific explanation does not seem to
me to hold water. To take one instance, would the absorption of diseased
tissue drive a piece of cloth out of a soldier’s leg or body? Perhaps
yes, for what I know; but would the excitement of a mother cure the
disease of her child? These two classes of cures (of which there are a
great number) struck me, perhaps, more than any of the rest. But I must
not take up more of your space, and can only advise all your readers who
are really interested in this problem to take the first opportunity they
can of going to Lourdes, and, if possible, as we did, at a time when the
great bodies of pilgrims are not there, and they can quietly examine the
facts there, for--_pace_ the doctors and men of science--these tablets,
swords, crutches, etc., are facts which they are bound to acknowledge
and investigate. I shall be surprised if they do not come away, as I
did, with a feeling that they have seen a deeply interesting sight for
which it is well worth while to come from England, and that there are
two sides to this question of the Lourdes miracles (so-called), either
of which any reverent student of the world in which he is living may
conscientiously hold.



Fontarabia, 22nd April 1893.

Every year the truth of Burns’s “the best-laid schemes o’ mice and men
gang aft a-gley,” comes more home to me. From the time I was ten the
Pass of Roncesvalles has had a fascination for me. Then the habit of
ballad-singing was popular, and a relative of mine had a well-deserved
repute in that line. Amongst her old-world favourites were “Boland the
Brave” and “Durandarté.” The first told how Boland left his castle
on the Rhine, where he used to listen to the chanting in the opposite
convent, in which his lady-love had taken the veil on the false
report of his death, and “think she blessed him in her prayer when the
hallelujah rose”; and followed Charlemagne in his Spanish raid, till “he
fell and wished to fall” at Boncesvalles. The second, how Durandarté,
dying in the fatal pass, sent his last message to his mistress by his
cousin Montesinos. In those days I never could hear the last lines
without feeling gulpy in the throat:--

                   Kind in manners, fair in favour,

                   Mild in temper, fierce in fight,--

                   Warrior purer, gentler, braver,

                   Never shall behold the light.

They may not be good poetry, but Monk Lewis, the author, never wrote any
others as good. Then Lockhart’s _Spanish Ballads_ were given me, and in
one of the best of those stirring rhymes, Bernardo del Carpio’s bearding
of his King, I read--

               The life of King Alphonso I saved at Roncesval,

               Your word, Lord King, was recompense abundant for it all;

               Your horse was down, your hope was flown; I saw the falchion

                        shine

               That soon had drunk thy royal blood had I not ventured mine, etc.

Then, a little later, a family friend who had been an ensign in the
Light Division in July 1813, used to make our boyish pulses dance with
his tales of the week’s fighting in and round Roncesvalles, when Soult
was driven over the Pyrenees and Spain was freed. And again, later, came
the tale of Taillefer, the Conqueror’s minstrel, riding before the line
at the battle of Hastings, tossing his sword in the air, and chanting
the “Song of Roland,” and of the “Peers who fell at Roncesvalles.” So
you will believe, sir, that my first thought when I got to Biarritz,
with the Pyrenees in full view less than twenty miles off, was, “Now I
shall see the pass where Charlemagne’s peers, and five hundred British
soldiers as brave as any paladin of them all, had fought and died.”
 The holidays galloped, and one day only was left, when at our morning
conference I found that my companions were bent on Fontarabia and San
Sebastian, and assured me we could combine the three, as Roncesvalles,
they heard, was close to Fontarabia. Then my faith in Sir
Walter--combined, I fear, with my defective training in geography--led
me astray, for had he not written in the battle-canto of Marmion:--

               Oh, for one blast of that dread horn,

               On Fontarabian echoes borne,

                   That to King Charles did come,

               When Roland brave, and Oliver,

               And every Paladin and Peer,

                   At Roncesvalles died, etc.

Now, of course, if Charlemagne could hear the horn of Roland on the top
of the pass where he turned back, “borne on Fontarabian echoes,”
 then Fontarabia must be at the foot of the pass, where Roland and the
rear-guard were surrounded and fighting for their lives. In a weak
moment I agreed to Fontarabia and San Sebastian, and so shall most
likely never see Roncesvalles. It is fourteen miles distant as the crow
flies, or thereabouts; and I warn your readers that the three can’t be
done in one long day from Biarritz.

However, I am bound to admit that Fontarabia and San Sebastian make a
most interesting day’s work. I had never been in Spain before, and
so was well on the alert when a fellow-passenger, as we slowed on
approaching the station, pointed across the sands below us and said,
“There’s Fontarabia!” There, perhaps two miles off, lay a small gray
town on a low hill with castle and church at the top, and gateway and
dilapidated walls on the side towards*us, looking as though it might
have gone off to sleep in the seventeenth century--a really curious
contrast to bustling Biarritz from which we had just come. We went down
to the ferry and took a punt to cross the river, which threaded the
broad sands left by the tide. It was full ebb; so our man had to take us
a long round, giving us welcome time for the view, which, when the
tide is up, must be glorious. Our bare-footed boatman, though Basque or
Spaniard, was quite “up to date,” and handled his punt pole in a style
which would make him a formidable rival of the Oxford watermen in the
punt race by Christ Church meadow, which, I suppose, is still held at
the end of the summer term. A narrow, rough causeway led us from the
landing-place to the town-gate in the old wall, where an artist who had
joined the party was so taken with the view up the main street that he
sat down at once to about as difficult a sketch as he will meet in a
year’s rambles. For from the gateway the main street runs straight
up the hill to the ruined castle and church at the top. It is narrow,
steep, and there are not two houses alike all the way up. They vary
from what must have been palaces of the grandees--with dim coats-of-arms
still visible over the doorways, and elaborately carved, deep eaves,
almost meeting those of their opposite neighbours across the street--to
poor, almost squalid houses, reaching to the second story of their
aristocratic neighbours’, but all with deep, overhanging, though
uncarved eaves, showing, I take it, how the Spaniard values his shade.
Up we went to the church and castle, the ladies looking wistfully into
such shops as there were, to find something to buy; but I fancy in vain.
Not a tout appeared to offer his services; or a shopkeeper, male or
female, to sell us anything. Such of the Fontarabians as we saw looked
at us with friendly enough brown eyes, which, however, seemed to say,
“Silly souls! Why can’t you stop at home and mind your own business?”
 Even at the end of our inspection, when we spread our lunch on a broad
stone slab near the gate--the tombstone once, I should think, of a
paladin--there being no houses of entertainment visible to us, we had
almost a difficulty in attracting three or four children and a stray dog
to share our relics.

The old castle is of no special interest, though there were a few rusty
old iron tubes lying about, said to have once been guns, which I should
doubt; and Charles V. is said to have often lived there during his
French wars. The church is very interesting, from its strong contrast
with those over the border--square, massive, sombre, with no attempt
at decoration or ornament round the high brass altars, except here and
there a picture, and small square windows quite high up in the walls,
through which the quiet, subdued light comes. The pictures, with one
exception, were of no interest; but that one exception startled and
fascinated me. The subject is the “Mater Dolorosa,” a full-length figure
standing, the breast bare, and seven knives plunged in the heart,--a
coarse and repulsive painting, but entirely redeemed by the intense
expression of the love, the agony, grid the sorely shaken faith which
are contending for mastery in the face. The painter must have been
suddenly inspired, or some great master must have stepped in to finish
the work. San Sebastian does not do after Fontarabia; a fine modern
town, with some large churches and a big new bull-ring, but of little
interest except for the fort which dominates the town on the sea-front.
How that fort was stormed, after one repulse and a long siege of
sixty-three days; how, in the two assaults and siege, more than four
thousand gallant soldiers of the British and allied army fell; and the
fearful story of the sack and burning of the old town by the maddened
soldiers, is to me almost the saddest episode in our military history.
I was glad when we had made our cursory inspection and got back to the
station on our return to Biarritz. That brightest and most bustling
of health resorts was our head-quarters, and I should think for young
English folk must be about the most enjoyable above ground. I knew that
it was becoming a formidable rival of the Riviera for spring quarters,
but was not at all prepared for the facts. Almost the first thing I saw
was a group of young Englishmen in faultless breeches and gaiters, just
come back from a meet of the pack of hounds; next came along some fine
strapping girls in walking costume, bent, I should think, on exploring
the neighbouring battlegrounds; next, men and youths in flannels, bound
for the golf links, where a handicap is going on (I wonder what a French
caddie is like?); then I heard of, but did not see, the start of the
English coach for Pau (it runs daily); and then youths on bicycles,
unmistakable Britons,--though the French youth have taken kindly, I
hear, to this pastime. There are four gigantic hotels at which friends
told me that nothing is heard but English at their _tables d’hôte_;
and in the quiet and excellent small “Hôtel de Bayonne,” at which we
stayed, having heard that it was a favourite with the French, out of the
forty guests or thereabouts, certainly three-fourths were English, and
the other one-fourth mostly Americans. On Easter Monday there was a
procession of cars, with children in fancy dresses representing the
local industries; but the biggest was that over which the Union Jack
waved, and a small and dainty damsel sat on the throne surrounded by
boys in the orthodox rig of a man-of-war’s-man and Tommy Atkins. In
fact, a vast stream of very solvent English seem to have fairly stormed
and occupied the place, to the great delight of the native car-drivers
and shopkeepers; and so grotesque was it that Byron’s cynical doggerel
kept sounding in my head as, at any rate, appropriate to Biarritz:

               The world is a bundle of hay,

                   Mankind are the asses that pull;

               Each tugs in a different way,

                   And the greatest of all is John Bull.

But, apart from all the high jinks and festive goings-on, there is one
spot in Biarritz which may well prove a magnet to us, and before which
we should stand with uncovered heads and sorrowfully proud hearts; and
that is the fine porch of the English church. One whole side of it is
filled by a tablet, at the head of which one reads: “_Pristinæ
virtutis memor_. This porch, dedicated to the memory of the officers,
non-commissioned officers, and men of the British army, who fell in
the south-west of France from 7th October 1813 to 14th April 1814, was
erected by their fellow-soldiers and compatriots, 1882.” Then come the
names of forty-eight Line regiments, and the German Legion, followed in
each case by the death-roll, the officers’ names given in full. Let me
end with a few examples. The 42nd lost ten officers--two at Nive, one
at Orthez, and seven at Toulouse; the 43rd--five at Nivelle and Bayonne;
the 57th--six at Nivelle and Nive; the 79th--five at Toulouse, of whom
three bore the name of Cameron; the 95th--six at the Bidassoa, Nivelle,
and Nive. Such a record, I think, brings home to one even more vividly
than Napier’s pages the cost to England of her share in the uprising of
Europe against Napoleon; and it only covers six months of a seven years’
struggle in the Peninsula! At the bottom of the tablet are the simple
words:--

                   Give peace in our time, oh Lord!



Echoes from Auvergne, La Bourboule, 2nd July 1893.

We had heard through telegrams and short paragraphs in the French
papers of the sinking of the _Victoria_ before the _Spectator_ of 1st
July came to us here, in these far-away highlands of Auvergne; but yours
was the first trustworthy account in any detail which reached us. I am
sure that others must have felt as thankful to you as I did, for your
word was worthy the occasion, and told as it should be told, one
of the stories which ennoble a nation, and remain a [Greek phrase]
for all time. The lonely figure on the bridge is truly, as you say, a
subject for a great pictorial artist, and belongs “rather to the poet
than the journalist”; and one trusts that Sir George Tryon’s may stand
out hereafter in worthy verse as one of “the few clarion names” in our
annals. But it was surely the noble steadfastness of all, from admiral
to stoker, which has once more given us all “that leap of heart whereby
a people rise” to a keener consciousness of the meaning of national
life. I think one feels it even more out here amongst strangers than one
would have felt it at home, and can give God thanks that the old ideal
has come out again in the sinking of the _Victoria_ as it did in that of
the _Birkenhead_ forty years ago, when the ship’s boats took off all
the women and children, and the big ship went down at last “still under
steadfast men.”

Those are, as you know, the words of Sir Francis Doyle, who gave voice
to the mixed anguish and triumph of the nation in worthy verse. I heard
the great story from the lips of one of the simplest of men, Colonel
Wright, who as a subaltern had formed the men up on the deck of the
_Birkenhead_ under Colonel Seton, and stood at his place on the right of
the line when she broke in two. He was entangled for some moments in the
sinking wreck, but managed to free himself, and, being a famous swimmer,
rose to the surface, and struck out for the shore amongst a number of
the men. It must have been one of the most trying half hours that men
ever went through; for, as they swam and cheered one another, now and
again a comrade would suddenly disappear, and they knew that one of the
huge sharks they had seen from the deck, passing backwards and forwards
under the doomed ship, was amongst them. When they had all but reached
the shore the man who swam by Wright’s side was taken. When I heard the
tale he was Assistant-Inspector of Volunteers under Colonel M’Murdo, and
going faithfully through his daily work. Strange to say, neither Horse
Guards nor War Office had taken any note of that unique deck-parade
and swim for life, and Ensign Wright had risen slowly to be Major and
Sub-Inspector of Volunteers. Stranger still, he seemed to think it all
right, and there was no trace of resentment or jealousy in his
plain statement of the facts--which, indeed, I had to draw out
by cross-questioning on our march from the Regent’s Park to our
headquarters in Bloomsbury. I was so moved by the story that I wrote
it all to Mr. Cardwell, then at the War Office, and had the pleasure of
seeing Major Wright’s name in the next _Gazette_ amongst the new C.B.’s.

Well, well! It does one good now and then to breathe for a little in a
rarer and nobler atmosphere than that of everyday, into which we must
after all sink, and live there for nine-tenths of our time,--like the
old fish-wife, Mucklebackit, going back to mending the old nets and
chaffering over the price of herrings which have been bought by men’s
lives. And here we have great placards just out, announcing “Fêtes
de jour et de nuit,” with donkey-races and all manner of games, and
fireworks, including an “embrasement général,” whatever that may
forebode. “This life would be quite endurable but for its amusements,”
 said Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, a wise man and excellent Minister of the
Crown.

Our first Sunday at La Bourboule has been edifying from the Sabbatarian
point of view, and I shouldn’t wonder if the good little parson who is
taking the duty here during the bathing-season holds it up to us
for instruction next Sunday, if he can get a room for service, and a
congregation. There is no English church, and from what I hear not much
prospect of an arrangement for joint worship in the French Protestant
church, which was almost concluded, being carried out. Unfortunately,
a succession of young Ritualists have managed to alarm the French
Protestant pastor and his small flock, by treating them as Dissenters,
and making friends ostentatiously with the Roman Catholic priests.
However, happily the present incumbent (or whatever he should be called)
is a sensible moderately broad Churchman, who it may be hoped will bring
things straight again. But to return to my Sabbatarian story. An English
lady fond of equestrian exercise hired horses for herself and a friend,
and invited the able and pleasant young Irishman who doctors us all,
and is also churchwarden, to accompany them for a ride in these lovely
mountains. They started from this hotel, and, as it happened, just as
the parson was coming by; so, not being quite easy in their consciences
(I suppose), asked him if he saw any harm in it. To this he replied,
sensibly enough, that it was their fight, not his; and if they saw none,
he had nothing to say. So off they rode, meaning certainly to be back
by 8 P.M. for supper. I was about till nearly nine, when they had not
turned up; and next morning I heard the conclusion of the whole
matter. The doctor’s horse cast a shoe, and had to be led home,
limping slightly; while the lady’s horse came back dead-lame, and her
companion’s steed with both knees broken! Judging by the unmistakable
talent of these good Bourboulais for appreciating the value to their
guests of their water and other possessions, I should say that this
Sunday ride will prove a costly indulgence to the excursionists.



La Bourboule, 10th July 1893.

Currency questions are surely amongst the things “which no fellow can
understand,”--a truth for which. I think, sir, I may even claim you as a
witness, after reading your cautious handling of the silver question in
recent numbers. But so far as my experience goes, there are no questions
as to which it is more difficult to shake convictions than those which
have been arrived at by unscientific persons. For instance, in this very
charming health-resort, the authorities at the Établissement des Bains,
where one buys bath-tickets, are under the delusion that 20 fr. (French
money) are the proper equivalent for the English sovereign. On my first
purchase of six tickets, amounting to 15 fr. (each bath costs 2 fr. 50
c., or 50 c. more than at Royat), the otherwise intelligent person who
presided at the _caisse d’établissement_, tendered me a single 5 fr.
piece; and on my calling his attention to the mistake, as I supposed it
to be, and demanding a second 5 fr., calmly informed me that 20 fr. was
the change they always gave, and he could give no other. Whereupon, I
carried off my sovereign in high dudgeon, and--there being neither bank
nor money-changer’s office in this place, though more than twenty
large hotels!--applied to two of the larger shops only to find the
same delusion in force. In short, I only succeeded in getting 25 fr.
in exchange for my sovereign as a favour from our kind hostess at this
hotel. Wherefore, as I hear that a great crowd of English are looked for
next month, I should like to warn them to bring French money with them.
This experience reminded me of a good story which I heard Thackeray
tell thirty years ago. (If it is in _The Kicklebury’s on the Rhine_, or
printed elsewhere, you will suppress it). Either he himself or a friend,
I forget which, changed a sovereign on landing in Holland, put the
change in one particular pocket, and on crossing each frontier on his
way to the South of Italy, before that country or Germany had been
consolidated, again exchanged the contents of that pocket for the
current coin of the Kingdom, Duchy, or Republic he was entering. On
turning out the contents at Naples he found them equivalent to something
under 5s. of English money.

Before I forget it, let me modify what I said last week as to the
ecclesiastical position of the Protestants here.

The Anglicans are now represented by the “Colonial and Continental
Society.” They sent a clergyman, who has managed so well that we are now
on excellent terms with our French Protestant brethren, though we have
as yet no joint place of worship. This, however, both congregations hope
to secure shortly,--indeed, as soon as they can collect £400, half
of which is already in hand. Then the municipality, or the “Compagnie
d’Établissement des Bains,” I am not sure which, give a site, and
another £400, which will be enough to pay for a small church sufficient
for the present congregations. These will hold the building in common,
and, let us hope, will adjust the hours for the services amicably. At
present, the French Protestants worship in the _buvette_, where we all
drink our waters; and we Anglicans in an annex of the establishment--a
large room devoted during the week to Punch and Judy and the
marionettes. This rather scandalises some of our compatriots; I cannot
for the life of me see why. Indeed, it seems to me a very healthy lesson
to most of us, who are accustomed to the ritual which prevails in so
many of our restored, or recently built, English churches,--the lesson
which Jacob learnt on his flight from his father’s tents, when he slept
in the desert with a stone for pillow, “Surely the Lord is in this
place, and I knew it not.” Our congregation yesterday was something
over thirty. I believe it rises to one hundred, or more, next month. The
service was thoroughly hearty, and I really think every one must have
come meaning to say their prayers. I felt a slight qualm as to how
we should get on with the singing, and could not think why the parson
should choose about the longest hymn in the book, for there was
no organ, harmonium, or other musical instrument, and no apparent
singing-men or singing-women. However, my qualms vanished when our
pastor led off with a well-trained tenor voice which put us all at our
ease.

The rest of our Sunday was by no means so successful, for the _fête du
jour et du soir_ began soon after our 11 A.M. _déjeûner_, and lasted
till about 10 P.M., when the lights in most of the paper-lanterns had
burnt out, and people had gone home from the Casino and the promenade
to their hotels or lodgings. I am old-fashioned enough to like a quiet
Sunday; but here, when the place is _en fête_, that is out of the
question,--at any rate, if you are a guest at one of the hotels which,
as they almost all do, faces on the “Avenue Gueneau de Mussy.” That name
will probably remind some of your readers of the able and popular doctor
of the Orleans family, who accompanied their exile, lived in England
during the Empire in Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, and was popular
in London society. After 1870 he returned to France, and, it seems,
rediscovered these waters, or, at any rate, made them the fashionable
resort of patients in need of arsenical treatment. In gratitude, his
name has been given to this main avenue of La Bourboule, which runs the
whole length of the town, parallel to the River Dordogne, which comes
rushing down the valley from Mont Dore at a pace which I have never seen
water attain except in the rapids below Niagara, in which that strongest
and rashest of swimmers, Captain Webb, lost his life. The Avenue, though
parallel with, is some fifty yards from the river, and the intervening
space is planted with rows of trees, under which many donkeys and
hacks stand for the convenience of visitors. The opposite bank of
the Dordogne, which is crossed by two bridges, rises abruptly, and is
crowned by the two rival casinos, with the most imposing hotel of the
place between them, where (I am told) you pay 5 fr. a day extra for the
convenience of the only lift in La Bourboule! The fête of last Sunday
was given by the old Casino, and commenced directly after _déjeûner_
with a gathering in the rooms and in front of the Casino on the terrace,
where the guests sat at small tables consuming black coffee, absinthe,
and other drinks, and strolling now and then into the billiard-room, or
the room in which the _jeu aux petits chevaux_, and some other game of
chance which I did not recognise, were in full swing. There is an inner
room where baccarat and roulette are going on, supposed to be only open
to tickets bought from the^ authorities, but which a young Englishman,
my neighbour at the _table d’hôte_, tells me he found no difficulty in
entering without a ticket. The rest of the fête, consisting chiefly of
donkey-races, climbing greasy poles, and fishing half-francs out of
meal tubs with the mouth, came off in a small park and plateau on the
hillside above the Casino.

I used to enjoy donkey-races as a boy, when at our country feasts each
boy rode his neighbour’s donkey, and the last past the post was the
winner, and should probably have gone up the hill to witness a French
race, but that I found that here each boy rides his own donkey, and the
first past the post wins. This takes all the fun out of the race, so I
abstained. There were a few second-rate fireworks after dark, and the
Casino and most of the hotels were prettily lighted, and the trees hung
with yellow paper lanterns which looked like big oranges, but to the
Englishman, more or less accustomed to the great Brock’s performances,
the illumination business was very flat.



Comité des Fêtes. 17th July 1893.

An Englishman can scarcely avoid the danger of having his national
vanity fed in this La Bourboule. A new hotel is being built on a fine
site above the Dordogne, just beyond the new Casino, and I hear on the
best authority that the proprietor means to have it furnished from top
to bottom by Messrs. Maple. As this will involve paying a duty of from
30 to 50 per cent on the articles imported, it is not easy to see where
the profit can come in, as the most prejudiced John Bull will scarcely
deny that native French furniture is about as good, and not very much
dearer than English. I can only account for it by the desire of all
purveyors here--from the chief hotel-keepers to the dealers in the
pretty Auvergne jewellery and the donkey-women--to get us as
customers,--not, perhaps, so much from love or admiration for us, as
because we have so much less power of remonstrance or resistance to
their charges. Unless he sees some flagrant overcharge in his hotel
bill, the Briton does not care to air his colloquial French in
discussing items with the former, who only meet him with polite shrugs;
and as for the others, they at once fall back upon an Auvergnese
_patois_, at least as different from ordinary French as a Durham miner’s
vernacular is from a West countryman’s. What satisfaction can come of
remonstrating about 2 fr., even in faultless grammatical French, when it
only brings on you a torrent of explanation of which you cannot
understand one word in ten?

But the desire to make us feel at home has another--I may almost say a
pathetic--side. Thus the _Comité des fêtes_ spares no effort to meet our
supposed necessities, and has not only provided tennis-grounds and
other conveniences for _le sport_, but for the last ten days has been
preparing for a grand _chasse au renard_, as a special compliment, I
am told, to the English visitors. The grand feature of the hunt is a
_recherché_ luncheon in an attractive spot in the forest, at the end
of the run, at which the Mayor presides, and to which the other civic
dignitaries go in full costume, accompanied by a chief huntsman and two
_chasseurs_ with _tridents_--of all strange equipments for a fox-hunt!
For this luncheon the charge is 5 fr.; but, so far as I can learn, you
may join the chase without partaking. The question naturally occurs:
“How if Renard will not run that way, or consent to die within easy
distance of the luncheon?” and the answer of the Mayor would, I suppose,
be Dogberry’s: “Let him go, and thank God you are rid of a knave.” But,
in any case, the _Comité des fêtes_ are prepared for such a mishap, for
they have had four foxes ready for some days, _in a large oven_--of all
places in the world! and one of these will surely be induced to take the
proper course, which is carefully marked out. As two of them have come
from Switzerland, and there cannot be much to occupy or amuse Swiss
foxes in an oven, except quarrelling with their French cousins, I should
doubt as to the condition of the lot on the day of the hunt, even if all
survive to that date. This, I am sorry to say, cannot be fixed as yet,
for it seems that no English visitor has been found who will take a
ticket; so I fear my “course” may be over before the _chasse_ comes
off. In that case I shall always bear a grudge against your lively
contemporary, the _Daily Graphic_, who, it seems, printed an illustrated
account of the _chasse_ of last summer, to which the present abstinence
of the British sportsman to-day is generally attributed. Can we wonder
at the want of understanding between the two peoples when one comes
across such strange pieces of farce as this, meant, I believe, for a
genuine compliment and advance towards good-fellowship?

I wish I could speak hopefully upon more serious things than the _chasse
au renard_; but in more than one direction things seem to me to be
drifting, or going back, under the Republic. E.g. a friend of mine,
who prefers smoking the cigars he is used to, ordered a box from his
tobacconist in Manchester, who entrusted them to the Continental Parcels
Delivery Company on 15th June. Next day, though notice had been given
of payment of all charges on delivery, they were stopped at the Gare du
Nord, at Paris, where the station-master refused to forward them until
he got an undertaking in writing from my friend to pay all charges. This
was sent at once, but produced no effect for three days, when another
letter arrived--not now from the station-master, but from a person
signing himself “Contributions Agent”--saying that undertaking No. 1
was not in proper form. Thereupon, undertaking No. 2 is sent; but still
nothing happens, and my friend had almost given up hope of getting his
cigars when he bethought him of advising with a deputy, who was luckily
staying here in the same hotel. That gentleman seemed not at all
surprised, but offered to write to his secretary in Paris to go to
the Gare du Nord and look after the box. The offer was, of course,
thankfully accepted, with the result that the cigars were sent on at
once, with the following bill: “Droit d’entrée, 38 fr. 77 c.; timbre
d’acquit à caution, 7 c.; toile d’emballage--consignation, 40 fr. 27
c.: total, 79 fr. 11 c.”--which about doubled the original cost. This
instance of the slovenliness (if not worse) of a railway company and the
Customs has been quite eclipsed, however, by the Post Office. Another
friend posted a letter here to his sister in England, but unluckily in
the forenoon, when the next departure was for Bordeaux. To that town,
accordingly, his letter went, and thence to America, whence in due
course--i.e. at the end of three weeks--it reached its destination in
England. Again, a lady here received several dividends more than a
week ago, which she forwarded to her husband in England in a registered
letter. This has never reached him; and the Post-Office officials here
are making inquiries (very leisurely ones) as to what has become of it.
Then the clergyman of the church here, having a payment to make in his
parish in England, sent the money, and got the official receipt several
posts before he received a reminder from the same official (dated a week
earlier than the receipt) that the payment was due; and lastly, _pour
comble_, as they say here, a county J.P. has never received at all the
formal summons from his High Sheriff, sent some weeks since, to serve on
the grand jury at the coming Assizes! Whatever the consequences may be
of utterly ignoring such summons, he has thus incurred them, which, for
all I know, may be equal to the penalties of præmunire. But seriously, I
fear the incubus of the Republican superstition, as you have defined
it, is spreading fast and far in this splendid land. The centralisation
fostered by the Second Empire, and favoured by the Republic for the last
twenty years, seems to have demoralised the national nerve-centre at
Paris under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower--which,

                   Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies,

--and to be spreading its baleful influence through the Departments.
At any rate, that is the only explanation I can suggest for the marked
deterioration and present flabbiness of all Government departments
with which the foreign visitor comes in contact. I am glad to be able,
however, to record, before closing this, that the registered letter
containing dividend warrants mentioned above has reached its destination
in England.



Dogs and Flowers, La Bourboule, 24th July.

During the greater part of our stay, the theatre here was devoted to
comic and other operatic performances, which I did not care for, and so
scarcely glanced at the play-bills, posted up daily in our hotel; and
was not even tempted by the announcement of “une seule représentation
extraordinaire” of Le Songe d’une Nuit d’Eté, as I did not like to have
my idea of A Midsummer Night’s Dream disordered by a French metrical
version. When too late, I sorely regretted it, as, had I even read
the caste, I should have gone, and been able to give you a trustworthy
report,--for the three principal characters were William Shakespeare--by
M. Dereims, of the opera (who would sing his great song of _La Reine de
Saba_)--Falstaff, and Queen Elizabeth! Next morning I catechised a young
Englishman, whose report was, as near as I can recollect, as follows:
“Well, there wasn’t much of our _Midsummer Night’s Dream_ in it,
no Oberon and Titania, or Bottom, or all that fairy business. Queen
Elizabeth and one of her ladies went out at night disguised, to a sort
of Casino or Cremorne Gardens” [what would Secretary Cecil have said to
such an escapade?], “and coming away they met Shakespeare and Falstaff,
and had a good time; and Falstaff sang a song which brought the house
down. Then, as the Queen falls in love with Shakespeare, they get some
girl to marry him right away.” One more lost opportunity, and to think
that I shall probably never get another chance!--

               There is a flower that shines so bright,

                   They call it marigold-a:

               And he that wold not when he might,

                   He shall not’ when he wold-a.

As you are fond of dog-lore, here is a sample from Auvergne. Just
opposite our hotel lives the young Scotch (not Irish, as I think
I called him last week) doctor. His wife owns a clever pug, whose
friendship any self-respecting dog would be anxious, I should say,
to cultivate. One of the rather scratch-pack gathered for the coming
fox-chase, who wandered as they pleased about the town, seems to have
shared my view, for every morning, between _café_ and _déjeûner_, he
came and paid a visit of about five minutes to Mrs. Gilchrist’s pug, in
the doctor’s vestibule, always open to man and dog. At the end of his
call, he trotted off down the avenue to whatever other business he might
have in hand. Now, his visits could not have been amatory, as both
are of the masculine sex, nor could they have been gastronomic, for he
invariably refused the food which Mrs. Gilchrist offered him. What other
conclusion is possible than that he came to talk over the gossip afloat
in the dog-world of La Bourboule?

Lastly, as to the excursions. These are numerous, and very interesting
in all ways, for you drive through great, sad pine-forests (in which I
was astonished to see many of the trees gray with the weeping moss which
makes the Louisiana and Texas forests so melancholy) and breezy heaths
all aglow with wild flowers, getting every now and then indescribably
glorious glimpses of the rich plain which stretches away from this
backbone of Central France to the Alps. The flora is quite beyond me,
but I recognised many varieties of heart’s-ease, fox-gloves, gentians,
amongst them an exquisite blue variety, and the air was often scented
with meadow-sweet or wild-thyme. Then almost every mountain-top is
crowned by a peculiarly shaped block of dark rock, which looks as if
some huge saurian, disgusted with a changing world, had crawled up there
to die and get petrified. They must, however, have been even bigger
than the _Atlanlosaurus immanis_, the biggest of the family yet found, I
believe. I well remember the delight of Dr. Agnew, of New York, when the
American geologists came upon its thigh bone, two feet longer than that
of any European monster. It had become agate, and I have a scarf-pin
made of a polished fragment, and presented to me by the triumphant
doctor. I cannot tell you what these rocks really are, as I made no
ascent, preferring nowadays, like dear Lowell, “to make my ascents by
telescope.”

But the human interest of the excursions, as usual, far exceeds the
botanical or geological. The chief of these is the “Tour d’Auvergne,”
 the seat of the Count who enlisted to repel invasion, but never would
take a commission from Republic or Napoleon, and died in battle, the
“premier grenadier de la France.” There is nothing left of his tower
except the foundations, and a dungeon on the high rock, on which a
native woman sells photographs and relics, quite as genuine, I should
say, as most such. Opposite, across a deep valley, rises another rock
crowned by a chapel, which is approached by a steep path, up which once
a year goes a procession, past the seven stations, at each of which
there is a crucifix, and on the lowest a figure the size of life.
Christianity, they say, has died down very low in Auvergne. I should
doubt it, as I saw no sign of defacement, either here or on any of the
roadside crosses, which are everywhere. I fear we could hardly say as
much if we had them--as I wish we had--on every English high-road. On
the walls of the village which clusters round the side of the keep,
a placard (of which I enclose a copy) interested me much. The three
Municipal Councillors there give their reasons for resigning their seats
on the Council. On the whole, I think they were wrong, and should have
stayed and “toughed it out.” I should like to know how it strikes you.
You will see that the poster bears a stamp. Might not our Chancellor
of the Exchequer raise a tidy sum that way? What a lump Pears, Hudson,
Epps, or Van Houten and Co. would have to pay, and earn the thanks of a
grateful country too! But I must not try your patience or space further,
so will only note the Roman remains at Mont Dore, another health-resort
of the Dordogne Valley, four miles above La Bourboule, which are worth
going all the way to see, as I would advise any of your readers to do
who are looking out for an interesting countryside, with as fine air as
any in the world, in which to spend their coming holidays.



Dutch Boys, The Hague, 1st May 1894.

Much may be said both for and against breaking one’s good resolutions,
but no one, I should think, will deny the merit of making them. Well,
sir, before starting for my Whitsuntide jaunt this year, I resolved
firmly that nothing should induce me to send you any more letters
over this signature. Have I not been trying your patience, and the
long-suffering of your readers any time these thirty years, with
my crude first impressions of cities and their inhabitants, from
Constantinople to the Upper Missouri? “Surely,” I said to myself,
“sat prata biberunt.” What can young England in the last decade of the
century--who enjoy, or at any rate read, _Dodo, and The Fabian Essays,
and The Heavenly Twins_--care or want to know about the notions of an
old fogey, whose faiths--or fads, as they would call them--on social and
political problems were formed, if not stereotyped, in the first half?
What, then, has shaken this wise resolve? You might guess for a week and
never come within miles of the answer. It was the sight of a group of
Dutch boys playing leap-frog in front of this hotel, and the contrast
which came unbidden into my head between the chances of Dutch and
English boys in this matter, and the different use they make of them.

In front of this hotel lies the large open space, now planted with
trees, and about the size of Grosvenor Square, which is called
“Tournooiveld,” and was in the Middle Ages the tilt-yard of the doughty
young Dutch candidates for knighthood. The portion of this square
immediately in front of the hotel, about 40 yards deep and 150 broad, is
marked off from the rest by a semicircular row of granite posts, rather
over three feet in height, and three to four yards apart, two of them
being close to lampposts, but the line otherwise unbroken. No chain
connects these posts, and they have no spike on the top of them. As
I stood at the door the morning after my arrival, admiring the fine
linden-trees in full foliage, enter four Dutch boys from the left,
who, without a word, broke at once into single file, and did “follow
my leader” over all the posts till they got to the end on the extreme
right, and disappeared quietly down a side street. Well, you will say,
wouldn’t four English boys have done just the same % and I answer, Yes,
certainly, so far as playing leap-frog over the posts goes; but they
would have to come out here to find such a row of posts in the middle
of a city. At any rate, in the city with which I am best acquainted in
England, the few posts there fit for leap-frog are connected with chains
and have spikes on their tops. Moreover, do I not pass daily up a flight
of steps, fenced on either side by a broad iron banister, which was
obviously intended by Providence for passing boys to get a delicious
slide down 1 But, sir, no English boy on his way to school or on an
errand has ever slid down those banisters, for the British Bumble has
had prohibitory knobs placed on them at short intervals for no possible
reason except to prevent boys sliding down. The faith that all material
things should be made to serve the greatest good of the greatest number
is surely as widely held in England as in Holland, and yet, here are the
tops of these Dutch posts _culotté_, if I may say so, worn smooth and
polished by the many generations of boys who have enjoyed leap-frog over
them, while the British posts and banisters have given pleasure to no
human being but Bumble from the day they were put up.

But it was not of the Dutch posts but the Dutch boys that I intended to
write, for they certainly struck me as differing in two particulars from
our boys, thus. Two of the posts, as I have said, are so close to the
lamp-posts that you can’t vault over them without coming full butt
against the lamp-post on the other side. When the leader came to the
first of them he did not pass it, as I expected, but just vaulted on to
the top, and sat there while he passed his leg between the-post and the
lamp-post, and then jumped down and went on to the next. Every one of
the rest followed his example gravely and without a word; whereas, had
they been English boys, there would have been a bolt past the leader as
soon as he was seated, and a race with much shouting for the lead over
the remaining pillars. I have been studying the Dutch boy ever since,
and am convinced that he is the most silent and most “thorough” of any
of his species I have ever come across; and the boy is father to the
man in both qualities. On Whit-Monday this city was crowded, all the
citizens and country-folk from the suburbs being in the streets and
gardens; the galleries and museums, oddly enough, being closed for the
day. Walking about amongst them the silence was really rather provoking.
At last I took to counting the couples we met who were obviously just
married, or courting, and ought at any rate to have had something to
say to each other. Out of eleven couples in one street, only one were
talking, though all looked quite happy and content. It is the same
everywhere. As we neared the landing-place at the Hook of Holland, our
steamer’s bows were too far out, and a rope had to be thrown from the
shore. There were at least twenty licensed porters waiting for us, in
clean white jackets,--one of these, without a word, just coiled a rope
and flung it. It was missed twice by the sailor in our bows, and fell
into the water, out of which the thrower drew it, and just coiled and
threw it again without a word of objurgation or remonstrance, and the
third time successfully. Not one of the white-jacketed men who stood
round had uttered a syllable of advice or comment; but what a Babel
would have arisen in like case at the pier-heads of Calais or Dieppe, or
for that matter at Dover or Liverpool. No wonder that William the Silent
is the typical hero of Dutchmen; there are two statues of him in the
best sites in this city, and half a dozen portraits in the best places
in the galleries. Hosea Biglow’s--

               Talk, if you keep it, pays its keep,

                   But gabble’s the short road to ruin.

               ’Tis gratis (gals half price), but cheap

                   At no price when it hinders doing,--

ought to be put into Dutch as the national motto. Then as to
thoroughness. Take the most notable example of it first. We have been
driving all round for some days, and have only once come to a slope up
which our horse had to walk. When we got to the top, there was the sea
on the other side, obviously even to the untrained eye at a considerably
higher level than the green fields through which we had just been
driving. Of course it is an old story, the Dutchman’s long war with the
German Ocean, but one never realises it till one comes to drive uphill
to the sea, and then it fairly takes one’s breath away. I was deeply
impressed, and took advantage of a chance that offered of talking the
subject over with an expert, who, like most Dutchmen, happily speaks
English fluently. Far from expressing any anxiety as to the land already
won, he informed me that they are seriously contemplating operations
against the Zuider Zee, and driving him permanently out of Holland! And
I declare I believe they will do it, and so win the right, alone, so far
as I know, amongst the nations, of saying to the sea: “Hitherto shalt
thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”
 One more example,--their thoroughness as to cleanliness. Not only
the pavements of the main thoroughfares, but all the side-streets are
thoroughly well washed and cleansed daily. When you walk out in the
early morning you might eat your breakfast anywhere with perfect comfort
on the sidewalks. We had to look for more than a quarter of an hour to
find a bit of paper in the streets, and the windows in the back streets,
even of houses to let, are rubbed bright and polished to a point which
must be the despair of the passing English housewife. Why are Dutch
house-maidens so incomparably more diligent and clean than English? Can
it be their Puritan bringing-up? In short, ten days’ residence here--I
have never before done anything but rush through the country on my way
east--seems likely to make me review old prejudices, and to exclaim, “If
I were not an Englishman, I would be a Dutchman!” One may read and enjoy
Motley without really appreciating this silent and “thorough” people,
or understanding how it came to pass that by them, in this tiny and
precarious corner of Europe, “the great deliverance was wrought out.”



“Poor Paddy-Land!”--I--6th Oct. 1894.

Six weeks ago, when I was considering where I should go for my autumn
holiday, some remarks of yours decided me “to give poor Paddy-land a
turn” (the phrase is not mine, but that of the first housemaid I came
across in Dublin). When one has been talking and thinking for the last
eight years of little else than that “distressful country,” it certainly
seemed a fair suggestion that one might as well go and look at it when
one got the chance. So I have scrambled round from Dublin to Kerry, and
from Cork to the Giant’s Causeway, and can bear hearty witness to the
soundness of your advice. For a flying visit of a few weeks, though
insufficient for any serious study of a people or country, may greatly
help one in judging both of them from one’s ordinary standpoint at home.

Of course, the first object of an Englishman who has not lost his head
must be to ascertain whether the Irish people really long for a separate
Parliament, and a severance of all connection with the rest of
the Empire. Well, sir, I was prepared to find that the men in the
street--car-drivers, boatmen, waiters, and fellow-travellers on the
railways--would, to a great extent, adapt their opinions to whatever
they might think would please their questioner, but certainly was quite
unprepared for the absolute unanimity with which I was assured that Home
Rule is dead. It is only the American-Irish, and especially the “Biddys
of New York,” so my informants protested, “who want to break up the
Union.” I was warned, however, as to the man in the street. “You must
remember that our people are full of imagination, and you must take
off a large discount from all they tell you; but you’ll always find
a groundwork of fact at the bottom of their stories.” A good piece of
advice, which a professional friend in Dublin started me with, and which
I found to be true enough, except that where local politics or the land
came in, the groundwork of fact was apt to be too minute to be easily
discerned. Take, as an example, a story which was told me on the spot
by a thoroughly trustworthy witness. Towards the end of Mr. Forster’s
Chief-Secretaryship a sensation message was flashed to New York that a
Government stronghold had been taken by the Invincibles, the garrison
having surrendered with all the guns and stores. This announcement
produced a liberal response in dollars from the other side, particularly
from “the Biddys of New York.” Now for the “groundwork of fact”
 underlying this superstructure. The Government have, it seems, on
their hands a number of Martello towers on the southern coast which are
useless for military purposes. A band of some dozen “bhoys,” headed by
a notorious Invincible, came out of Cork one summer evening and summoned
the garrison of one of these Martello towers. The garrison (an
elderly pensioner), who was at tea with his wife and children, wisely
surrendered at discretion; whereupon the patriots took possession of
the single cannon and some old muskets and ammunition, which latter they
carried off next morning, when they abandoned the tower and cannon on
the approach of the police. But though the groundwork of fact as to the
condition of the Home Rule agitation may be infinitesimal, there is very
serious apprehension still on the Land Question, upon which I found
it difficult to draw the man in the street. I was fortunate enough,
however, to come across several resident landlords and professional men,
both Catholic and Protestant, who, one and all, look with the gravest
distrust at the operation of recent land legislation. The Commissioners
who administer these Acts have, unfortunately, the strongest interest in
prolonging the present state of uncertainty. Their appointments will end
with the cessation of appeals by tenants for further reductions of
rent, which, under the circumstances, does not seem likely to come about
before the landlords’ interest has been pared down bit by bit till it
touches prairie-value. The present utter confusion and uncertainty is
at any rate a striking object-lesson as to the dangers of meddling with
freedom of contract by Acts of Parliament.

When I landed in Ireland, I was under the impression--for which I think
you, sir, and perhaps the late Lord Beaconsfield, with his dictum
about the “melancholy ocean,” were responsible--that there is a note of
sadness underlying the superficial gaiety of the Irish character, as is
the case with most Celts. Well, whether it be from natural incapacity,
and that each observer only brings with him a limited power of seeing
below the surface in such matters, in any case I wholly failed to
discern any such characteristic in Central or South Ireland, though
there may be a trace of it perhaps in the North, where, by the way,
they are not Celts. On the contrary, the remark of a friendly and
communicative Killarney carman, “Shure, sir, we always try to get on
the sunny side of the bush, like the little birds,” seemed to me
transparently true. And next to this desire for the sunny side of the
bush, a happy-go-lucky, hand-to-mouth temper struck me as the prevailing
characteristic, as Sir Walter saw it when he wrote “Sultan Solomon’s
Search after Happiness.” Look at the national vehicle, the outside
car--far more national and popular than our hansom. Did any race ever
invent a conveyance so easy to mount and dismount from, or which offers
the same chances of being shot off at every street corner or turn in the
road? If any reader doubts, let him go over to the next horse-show at
Dublin, and watch the crowd breaking up at the end of the show. The
roads into the city are certainly unusually broad, but the sight of a
dozen jaunting-cars coming along, two or three abreast, as hard as their
horses can trot, the driver lolling carelessly, with a loose rein, on
one side, and a couple of Irishmen on the other, is a sight to make
the Saxon “sit up,” though he may be accustomed to the fastest and most
reckless West End hansoms. Like one of your recent correspondents, I
could distinguish natives from visitors, as each of the latter had a
tight hold of the bar--a precaution which the native scorned. I managed
to extract from an enthusiastic admirer--a young Irish subaltern who
had ridden on them all his life--the confession that he had left a car
involuntarily (or, _Anglid_, had been shot out) three times in the last
eighteen months; but then, as he explained, he always fell on his feet!
I was touched again and again by the almost pathetic craving for
English appreciation,--quite as strong, I think, as, and certainly
much pleasanter than, that of our American cousins. I was exploring the
Killarney Lakes, in the first-rate four-oared boat of a cadet of the
MacGrillicuddy family, who, with his English wife, exercises a very
delightful hospitality almost under the shadow of “The Reeks,” which
bear his name. It was a perfect day, the changing lights and tints on
mountains and woods and lakes being more delicately lovely than any I
could recall, except, perhaps, at the head of the Lake of Geneva. We
had been talking of the Scotch lakes, and I could not help saying, “Why,
this beats Loch Katrine and Ellen’s Isle out of the field.”

“Ah,” said our host, with a sigh, “if only Sir Walter Scott had been an
Irishman!” and then he went on to speak of the neglect of Ireland by the
Royal Family and English governing people--e.g. Lord Beaconsfield had
never set foot in her, and Mr. Gladstone only once, for an hour or
two, to receive the freedom of Dublin. But why had the Queen made her
favourite home in Scotland, and left poor Ireland out in the cold?
Why did the English flock to Scotch rivers and moors and golf-links in
crowds every autumn when only a stray sportsman or tourist found his way
to Killarney or Connemara or Donegal? It was all owing to the Wizard of
the North, who had made Scotland enchanted ground.

Without ignoring other and deeper causes, I think one cannot but feel
what a difference it would have made if Sir Walter had been Irish. The
Siege of Derry is a more heroic and pathetic story than any in Scotch
annals of the struggle for the Stuarts, and the genius which has made
us intimate friends of the Baron of Bradwardine and Dugald Dalgetty, of
Dandie Dinmont, Edie Ochiltree, Jeanie Deans, Cuddie and Mause Headrigg,
and a dozen other Scotch men and women, would surely have found as good
materials for character-painting among the Irish peasantry. But the
speculation, though interesting, is too big to deal with at the end of a
paper.



“Poor Paddy-Land!”--II

I suppose every one expects to find Ireland the land of the
unlooked-for. I did, at any rate, but was by no means prepared for
several of the surprises which greeted me. For instance, the best
arranged, and for its size and scope the most interesting, National
Gallery I have ever seen. It is only forty years old (incorporated in
1854), a date since which one would have thought it scarcely possible to
get together genuine specimens of all the great schools of art, from the
well “picked-over” marts of England and the Continent. But the feat has
been accomplished, mainly, I believe, by the entire devotion and
fine taste and judgment of the late director, Mr. Henry E. Doyle. His
untimely death in the spring of this year has left a blank, social and
artistic, which it will be hard to fill; but happily his great work for
Irish art was done, and all that his successors will have to do will be
to follow his lead faithfully. Irish Art owes much to his family, for he
was the son of H. B., and the younger brother of the immortal “Dicky,”
 while, I believe, Mr. Conan Doyle is his nephew.

But it is not the general collection of pictures, remarkable as that is,
which differentiates the Irish from other national galleries known to
me. It is the happy arrangement which has set apart a fourth of the
whole space for a collection of portraits, and authentic historical
pictorial records, comprising not only the portraits of eminent Irishmen
and Irishwomen, but also of statesmen and others who were politically
or socially connected with Ireland, or whose lives serve in any way
to illustrate her history, or throw light on her social or literary or
artistic records. I think I may safely venture the assertion--for I
spent the greater part of two afternoons in this historical and portrait
department--that there is Scarcely a man or woman, from the time of
Elizabeth to that of O’Connell and Lord Melbourne, of whom one would be
glad to know more, with whom one does not leave it, feeling far better
acquainted. And then they are so admirably and often pathetically
grouped, e.g. Charles I., Cromwell, and R. Cromwell, on a line, all full
of character, and Strafford hard by, with the look of “thorough” on his
brow and mouth as no other portrait I have ever seen has given. Then
there are “Erin’s High Ormonde,” Sir Walter Raleigh, by Zuccaro,
painted between his two imprisonments, and coming down later,
Lords Wellesley and Hastings, and groups of great nobles and
Lords-Lieutenant. For fighting men, William III. as a boy; Walker, the
defender of Derry; the Duke, the Lawrences, Lord Gough, and a score
of other gallant Irishmen. The terrible Dean stands out amongst the
literary men, and near him Sir R. Steele and Sterne, and (_longo
intervallo_, except on shelves) Tom Moore, Croker, Lever, etc. Then come
the “patriots” of all schools: Lord E. Fitzgerald, and Grattan, and E.
Hudson, Secretary of the United Irishmen in 1784; Wolfe Tone, and
Daniel O’Connell; half a dozen Ponsonbys of different ranks, and several
pictures of Burke, one of which especially (said to be by Angelica
Kauffmann) is, to my mind, quite invaluable. Burke stands upright, his
side-face towards you, sublime, as he looked, I am sure, when he was
making his immortal speech at Bristol. By his side, at right angles,
so that you get his full face, is Charles Fox, one hand on Burke’s
shoulder, the other on a table on which he is leaning. You can hear him
saying as plainly as if you were there one hundred years ago, “Now, my
dear Edmund, if you say that in the House, you’ll upset the coach.” Fox
has evidently dined well, and Burke is fasting from all but indignation.
The portraits of women are as interesting, such as Miss Farren,
afterwards Lady Derby; Mrs. Norton, by Watts, which is worth a visit to
Dublin to see, etc. But I must not run on, and will only note one lesson
I carried away. There are two portraits, and three engravings from
portraits, by N. Hone, R.A., an Irishman, but one of our original Royal
Academicians. You will remember what Peter Pindar says of that painter
in his _Odes to the Royal Academicians_”:--

                   And as for Mr. Nathan Hone,

                   In portraits he’s as much alone

               As in his landscape stands the unrivalled Claude.

                   Of pictures I have seen enough,

                   Vile, tawdry, execrable stuff,

               But none so bad as thine, I vow to God.

I have always till now maintained that Peter, with all his cynicism, was
the best art critic, the Ruskin, shall we say, of his time. Now I give
him up. N. Hone was no doubt quarrelsome and disagreeable, but he was a
very considerable portrait-painter.

I had noted Derry as one of the places to be seen on account of the
siege, and accordingly went there, to get another startling sensation.
Like most other folk, I suppose, I had always looked on the story as
interesting and heroic, and had wondered in a vague way how some 30,000
men, commanded by a distinguished French soldier, and a considerable
part of them at any rate well-equipped regular troops, could have been
kept at bay for ten months by a mere handful of regulars, backed by the
’prentice boys of the town and neighbourhood. Religious zeal was no
doubt a strong factor on the side of the town, and Parson Walker, a born
leader of men, “with a bugle in his throat,” like “Bobs.” But when one
remembers that no provision had been made for a siege, that many of
the leading men were for opening the gates, and indeed that the French
officers and James’s deputy were actually within 300 yards in their
boats, to accept the surrender, when the ’prentices rushed down and
shut and manned the gates, and then looks at the scene on the spot, one
is really dumbfounded, and wanders back in thought to King Hezekiah and
Jerusalem. From the Cathedral, which dominates the city, you can trace
distinctly the line of the old walls, and can hardly believe your eyes.
The space enclosed cannot be more than a quarter of a mile in length, by
some 300 yards in breadth (I could not get exact measurements), and in
it, including garrison and the country folk who had flocked in, were
more than 30,000 people. It was bombarded for eight months, during
at least the last four of which famine and pestilence were raging.
No wonder that the parish registers tell of more than 9000 burials
in consecrated ground, while “the practice of burial in the backyards
became unavoidable!” Where can such another story be found in authentic
history? Parson Walker, let us say, fairly earned his monument.

I must own to grievous disappointment as to the farming in Ulster. All
through the South and Centre I had seen the hay in the fields in small
cocks in September, and the splendid ripe crops of oats and barley
uncut, or, if cut, left in sheaf, or being carried in a leisurely
fashion, which was quite provoking, while tall, yellow ragweed was
growing in most of the pastures in ominous abundance. That will all be
altered, I thought, when I cross “Boyne Water.” Not a bit of it! Here
and there, indeed, I saw a good rick-yard and clean fields, but scarcely
oftener than about Cork or Killarney, and no one seemed to mind any
more than the pure southern Celts. One man said, when I mourned over
the ragweed three feet or four feet high, that he did not mind it, as it
showed the land was good! As to leaving hay in cock, well that was
the custom--they would get it into stack after harvest, any way before
Christmas; as to dawdling over cutting and carrying, well, with prices
at present rates, what use in hurrying? There was a comic song called
“Clear the Kitchen,” popular half a century ago, which ran--

               I saw an old man come riding by.

               Says I, “Old man, your horse will die”;

               Says he, “If he dies I’ll tan his skin,

               And if he lives I’ll ride him agin.”

It fits the Irish temper, North and South, pleasant enough to travel
amongst, but bad, I should think, to live with.



“Panem et Circenses”, Rome, 21 st April 1895.

I have been asking myself at least a dozen times a day during the
last fortnight, why Rome should be (to me, at any rate) the city of
surprises, far more than Athens or Constantine, for instance, or
any other city or scene of world-wide interest in Europe or America.
Jerusalem and the Nile cities I have never seen (and fear I never shall
now). Surely, to what I take to be the majority of your readers, who
have gone through, as I have, the orthodox educational mill--public
school and college--precisely the contrary should be true. We spent no
small part of from six to ten years of the most impressionable time of
our lives in studying the story of the Mistress of the Old World, from
Romulus and Remus to the Anto-nines. Even the idlest and most careless
of us could scarcely have passed his “greats” without knowing his
geography well enough to point out on the map the position of each of
the seven hills, the Forum, the Janiculum, the Appian Way, the Arch of
Titus, the Colosseum, etc., and must have formed some kind of notion
in his own mind of what each of them looked like. At any rate, I had
no excuse for not knowing my ancient Rome better than I knew any modern
city, both as to its geography and the politics, beliefs, and habits
of its citizens; for I was for two years in the pupil-room of a teacher
(Bishop Cotton) who spared no pains, not only on the texts of Livy,
Horace, Sallust, and Juvenal, and the geography, but in making the Rome
of the last years of the Republic and the first Caesars live again for
us. For instance, he would collect for us all the best engravings then
to be had (it was before the days of photographs) of Rome, and show us
what remained of the old buildings and monuments, and where the Papal
city had encroached and superseded them; and again, would take infinite
pains to explain the changes in the ordinary life of the Roman citizen,
which had been creeping on since the end of the third Punic war, when
her last formidable rival went down, and the struggle between patrician
and plebeian had time and opportunity to develop and work itself out,
till it ended in the Augustan age, when the will of the Cæsar remained
the sole ultimate law, in Rome, and over the whole Empire. Of course the
explanation of the phrase “Panem et circenses,” and the growth of
the system, in the shape of public feastings, shows, baths, and other
entertainments, with which each successful Tribune or General, as he
came to the front, and the Cæsars after them, tried to bribe and sway
the mob of the Forum, formed no small part of this instruction. One item
of the list will best illustrate my text--that of public baths--which
came most directly home to me, as I was devoted to swimming in those
days, and so had great sympathy with the poor citizen of Imperial Rome
who desired to have baths in the best form and without payment.

I do not know that there is any trustworthy evidence as to the public
baths of Rome before Imperial times, but we can estimate pretty
accurately how the case stood for the poor Roman in the first and second
centuries A.D. The best preserved of these are the Baths of Caracalla,
in which sixteen hundred bathers could be accommodated at once.
The enclosed area was 360 yards square, or considerably larger than
Lincoln’s Inn Fields; but this included a course for foot-races, in
which, I suppose, the younger bathers contended when fresh from the
delights of hot and cold baths, while their elders looked on from the
porticoes adjoining. The bathing establishment proper, however, was 240
yards in length, by 124 yards in width, in which the divisions of
the “tepidaria,” “calidaria,” and “frigidaria,” are still confidently
pointed out in Baedeker, and attested by guides if you like to hire
them. But the part which interested me most, apart from the huge masses
of wall still standing, was the depression in the floor, which is said
to have been the swimming-bath, and which is at least twice as large as
those of the Holborn and Lambeth baths, the two largest in London in my
time, put together.

The remains of the walls are just astounding, eight feet and ten feet
thick, and (I should say) in several places fifty feet high; the thin
Roman bricks, and the mortar in which they are built, as hard as they
were in the second century. I wish I could feel any confidence that any
of our London brickwork would show as well even a century hence. When
the floors were all covered with mosaic pavement, of which small pieces
now carefully preserved still remain, and the brickwork of the walls
was faced with marble, and the statues which have been found here and
removed to museums, still stood round the central fountain and in the
courts, my imagination quite fails to picture what the baths must have
looked like. But the Baths of Caracalla, though best preserved, are
not by any means the largest. Those of Diocletian, on the Quirinal and
partly facing the railway station, were almost twice as big, for the
circumference of the bath buildings was about 2000 yards, or half as
large again as the Baths of Caracalla, while they would accommodate (it
is said) three thousand bathers at once. It is even more impossible,
however, to reconstruct these baths in one’s fancy than those of
Caracalla, for the church of St. Bernardo occupies one domed corner of
the area, and a prison another corner; while a convent, with the Church
of St. Maria degli Angeli attached--built by Michael Angelo by order
of Pius IV.--stands over what was the “tepidarium.” There is still,
however, space enough left for the large square, as big as Bedford
Square, and surrounded by cloisters said to be also the work of Michael
Angelo, in which stand a number of the most interesting statues and
busts, and architectural fragments lately exhumed.

I have by no means exhausted the opportunities enjoyed by the Roman
citizen under the Antonines for getting a satisfactory, not to say a
luxurious, wash in the Roman summer, but must turn aside for a minute to
tell you of an interesting little scene which I saw outside on leaving
the Baths of Diocletian. Along the bottom of the old ruined wall still
standing, and looking as firm as that of Caracalla, for about fifty
yards, earth and rubbish has been allowed to accumulate to the height of
twelve or fourteen feet. This dirt-heap covers some twenty feet of the
open space between the old wall and the footway, and, the face of it
having been trampled hard, forms a steep slope, of which the Roman
urchin of to-day seems to have taken possession, and thereon thoroughly
to enjoy himself after his own fashion. This is a very different way
from that of our street-boys, if I may judge by what I saw in passing. A
group of some dozen little ragged urchins--four with bare feet--were
at high jinks as I came up; and this was their pastime. The biggest of
them, a sturdy boy of (perhaps) eleven or twelve, stood at the bottom of
the steep slope, facing the wall, with his feet firmly set, and his arms
wide open. The rest, who were at the top of the slope, against the wall,
ran down one after another and threw themselves into his arms, clasping
him round the neck, and getting a good hug before he dropped them. The
object seemed to be (so far as I could see) to throw him over backwards,
but he stood his ground firmly, only staggering a little once or twice
during the two rounds which I was able to watch. I was obliged then to
leave, wondering, and debating in my mind what would be the result of
such a game if tried by our street boys in a London suburb.

To go back to the Baths, there are remains of three more which must have
been no unworthy rivals of Caracalla’s and Diocletian’s--viz. those of
Constantine, Agrippa, and Titus. The first were also on the Quirinal,
and are said to have occupied the greater part of the present Piazza del
Quirinale, including the site of the Royal Palace. But as all that is
left of them is a fragment of the old boundary-wall here and there, one
can form no notion of their size or shape. One may, however, judge
of their character by magnificent colossal marble statues of the
“Horse-tamers,” which are known to have stood one on each side of the
principal entrance, and are believed to remain almost in the place where
they stand to-day. The Baths of Agrippa lay behind the Pantheon, but
a fluted column and ruined dome are all that remain of them in the
neighbouring streets, “Pumbella” and “Cumbella.” Lastly, there were
the Baths of Titus, begun by him in A.D. 80, on the Esquiline, which
included the sites of Mæcenas’ Villa and the Golden Palace of Nero,
which (I suppose) he must have demolished to make room for them; but the
tradition as to these ruins seems even more vague than that of any of
the other baths. I think you must allow that so far I have proved my
case, that Rome is the city of surprises.

Ever since my “Roman baths’ round,” the contrast of Imperial Rome and
our London has been popping up. Why have not we, at any rate, one or two
public baths on something like the old Roman scale? Did they really let
any Roman citizen bathe free of charge? Could we possibly do that?
and how? Well, after all, it only wants a Cæsar to work the “panem et
circenses” trick astutely. And have not we got at last our equivalent
for Nero or Titus in our County Council? True, our many-headed Cæsar has
not the tribute of a conquered world to draw on, or an unlimited supply
of prisoners of war, slaves, and poor Christians to set to the work. But
has not he the rates of London at his mercy--not a bad equivalent--and
the Collectivist Trade-Unionist, who may possibly be relied on to do as
fair a day’s work at the scale-wages as the unpaid slave or
Christian did for Titus? Well, I do not know that I should protest
vigorously--only I am no longer a London ratepayer.



Rome--Easter Day

We get our London papers here as regularly as you do, only forty-eight
hours later, and I see that readers at home have been able to follow
the course of the services in St. Peter’s and the Roman Churches
during Passion Week about as well as we who are on the spot, and so
to appreciate the thoroughness which the priesthood, from cardinals
downwards, for I am sorry to say the Pope is still unable to take his
usual part, throw into the attempt to reproduce the supreme drama of
our race, so far as this can be done, day by day, almost hour by hour.
I have not, however, noticed any mention of the “Tenebræ” at St. John
Lateran, a service of rather more than an hour, from 4.30 to 5.30, on
the afternoon of Good Friday, when the last words have fallen from the
cross, and Joseph of Arimathæa, with the faithful women, has borne away
the scarred and bleeding body of the Lord of Life to his own grave, in
which no man has yet lain--

                   All the toil, the sorrow done,

                   All the battle fought and won,

as Arthur Stanley says, in one of the noblest hymns in the English
language. We had the good fortune the day before to meet one of the
Monsignori, an old friend, formerly a hard-working and successful London
incumbent, who suggested that we should go, and to whom I shall always
feel grateful for the advice. We accordingly were at the door of that
splendid, but to my mind too sumptuously decorated church, punctually
at 4.30. The procession had already reached the chancel, and were taking
their allotted places. Most of your readers will probably be familiar
with the church, but for those who are not, I may say that the chancel
is wider, I think, than that in any of our cathedrals, and that the
whole space from the high altar to the solid marble rails--about three
and a half feet high, which divide the chancel from the rest of the
church--is open, with the sole exception of the row of stalls which run
along each sidewall, and which are reserved for, and were now filled by,
priests. For this particular service, however (and for this only, as I
was told), a row of chairs was placed just within the chancel-rails,
for the Monsignori and other priests of the Pope’s household, who were
already seated, all in deep black, with their faces to the altar and
their backs to the congregation. They remained seated during the whole
service (though several of the priests from the side-stalls stepped
down at intervals and took part in the service), thus, it seemed to me,
emphasising the division between priests and people, and impressing
on us beyond chancel-rails, the fact that we were there rather as
sightseers, spectators of a solemn ceremony, than joint-sharers in an
act of worship.

When we arrived the service had scarcely commenced, though the organ was
pealing solemnly through the vast church; but the whole of the space in
front of the chancel-rails was already filled by a dense crowd. Many of
those who were in front, close to the chancel-rails, knelt, leaning
on the rails, but by no means all, and the rest stood--a noteworthy
assembly. For there were at least as many men as women, and of all
classes. It is not easy nowadays to recognise rank by dress or bearing;
but there were certainly a considerable minority of well-dressed,
well-to-do people, mixed with soldiers in half a dozen different
uniforms (as I was glad to see), artisans, peasants, men and women in
force, the latter generally leading a child or two by the hand, with
a sprinkling of young men, preparing, I suppose by their dress, for
priests’ orders, who for the most part had books in which they followed
the service attentively,--no easy task under the surrounding conditions.
For though the front ranks, two or three deep next the chancel-rails,
were for the most part stationary, the great mass behind was constantly
moving about and talking in low tones,--not irreverently, but rather as
they would be in England at any large gathering where they could take no
part themselves in the performance, but felt that it was the right thing
to be there, and that they must not interfere with the minority, who
seemed to understand and appreciate what was going on. I was not one
of these latter, as I do not understand music, and had no book of the
words; though I was quite sensible that the pathos, chequered with
occasional bursts of triumph, and rendered by exquisite tenors and boys’
voices, was equal to any music I had ever heard. Moreover, the sight
of the splendidly dressed priests, moving frequently about before the
altar, without any reason so far as I could see, and the swinging of
censers, the clouds of incense, and gestures to which I could attach no
meaning, inclined me to get out of the crowd. With this view I
looked about for my companion, who, I found, had managed to reach the
altar-rails. So in order that we might be sure to meet at the end of the
service, I got quietly back to the door by which we had entered, where
I could hear the music and voices perfectly, though out of sight of the
chancel. Here I resolved to wait, and at once became much interested in
the people who were constantly passing in or leaving the church. Soon I
remarked that almost all of the former, especially the peasant men and
women with children, turned to the right and disappeared for a minute
or two before going on to join the crowd in front of the chancel. So I
followed, and can scarcely say how much I was impressed by what I saw.
In a small side-chapel, near the entrance, which was their destination,
dimly lighted, a crucifix with a life-sized figure of our Lord upon it
was lying on a stone couch raised some two feet from the floor. There
was no priest in charge, only two bright little choristers (I suppose)
in their white gowns; and perfect silence reigned in the chapel by the
entrance of which I stood and saw several men and women kneeling. They
got up one by one, and approaching the figure dropped again on their
knees, and, stooping, kissed, some the nail-prints in the hands or feet,
some the spear-wound in the side, but none the face. The most touching
sight was the fathers or mothers when they rose from their knees lifting
the children and teaching them to kiss the wounds. I stood there for
at least twenty minutes, until the end of the service in fact, and must
have seen at least a hundred men, women, and children enter. Of
these, three only failed to kneel and kiss the cross, the first, a
well-dressed, middle-aged woman, leading a restless small lap-dog, which
pulled and whined whenever his mistress was not attending to him; the
others, two young girls--but quite old enough to have known better--who
marched in amongst the kneeling figures, open guide-book in hand,
noticed something in the chapel to which it referred, and then marched
out. They passed close enough for me to catch a word or two of their
talk, which I am glad to say was not English.

As I stood there and watched and listened, the distant voices seemed
to be chanting that grand old monk’s-Latin hymn, the “Dies Iræ,” and I
fancied (I am afraid it was pure fancy) I could hear:--

                   Quærens me sedisti lassus,

                   Redeinisti crucem passas,

                   Tantus labor non sit cassus!

More than once I was haunted by the wish to enter and kneel and kiss the
cross, by the side of some poor Italian woman and her child. I wish now
that I had, but hope it was a genuine Protestant instinct which hindered
me. At any rate I shall never have another chance. This crucifix is only
brought out once a year--on Good Friday--and I shall never again be in
St. John’s Lateran on that day for the “Tenebræ” service.



JOHN TO JONATHAN

An Address delivered in the Music Hall, Boston, on the 11th of October
1870


_This Address is printed precisely as it was spoken, at the request of
friends who had read extracts in our newspapers. I am quite aware how
superficial it must seem to English readers, and would only remind them
that I had no Parliamentary debates, or other documents, to which to
refer. I am thankful myself to find that, while there are startling gaps
in it, there are no gross blunders as to facts or dates. The kindliness
with which it was listened to by the audience, and discussed in the
American press, allows me to hope that the time has come when any effort
to put an end to the unhappy differences between the two countries will
be looked upon favourably in the United States. The true men and women
on both sides of the Atlantic feel, with Mr. Forster, that a war between
America and England would be a civil war, and believe with him that
we have seen the last of civil war between English-speaking men. Both
nations are, I hope and believe, for a hearty reconciliation, and it
only remains for the Governments to do their part._

Thomas Hughes.


It is with a heavy sense of responsibility, my friends, and no little
anxiety, that I am here to-night to address you on this subject. I have
been in this country now some two months, and from the day I crossed
your frontier I have received, from one end of the land to the other,
from men and women whom I had never seen in my life, and on whom I
had no shadow of a claim that I could discover, nothing but the most
generous, graceful, and unobtrusive hospitality. I am not referring to
this city and its neighbourhood, in which all Englishmen are supposed
to feel very like home, and in which most of us have some old and
dear friend or two. I speak of your States from New York to Iowa and
Missouri, from the Canadian border to Washington. Everywhere I have
been carried about to places of interest in the neighbourhood, lodged,
boarded, and cared for as if I had been a dear relative returning from
long absence. However demoralised an Englishman may become in his own
country, there is always one plank in his social morals which he clings
to with the utmost tenacity, and that is paying his own postage stamps.
My hold even on this last straw is sadly relaxed. I am obliged to keep
vigilant watch on my letters to hinder their being stamped and posted
for me by invisible hands. I never before have so fully realised the
truth of those remarks of your learned and pious fellow-citizen, Rev.
Homer Wilbur, whose lucubrations have been a source of much delight to
me for many years, when he says somewhere, “I think I could go near to
be a perfect Christian if I were always a visitor at the house of some
hospitable friend. I can show a great deal of self-denial where the best
of everything is urged upon me with friendly importunity. It is not
so very hard to turn the other cheek for a kiss.” I should be simply a
brute if I were not equally touched and abashed by the kindness I have
received while amongst you. I can never hope to repay it, but the memory
of it will always be amongst my most precious possessions, and I can, at
least, publicly acknowledge it, as I do here this evening.

But, my friends, I must turn to the other side of the picture. There is
nothing--at any rate, no kind of pleasure, I suppose--which is unmixed.
From the deepest and purest fountains some bitter thing is sure to rise,
and I have not been able, even in the New World, to escape the common
lot of mankind in the Old. Everywhere I have found, when I have sounded
the reason for all this kindness, that it was offered to me personally,
because, to use the words of some whom I hope I may now look on as dear
friends, “We feel that you are one of us.” The moment the name of my
country was mentioned a shade came over the kindest faces. I cannot
conceal from myself that the feeling towards England in this country is
one which must be deeply painful to every Englishman.

It was for this reason that I chose the subject of this lecture. I
cannot bear to remain amongst you under any false pretences, or to leave
you with any false impressions. I am not “one of you,” in the sense of
preferring your institutions to those of my own country. I am before all
things an Englishman--a John Bull, if you will--loving old England and
feeling proud of her. I am jealous of her fair fame, and pained more
than I can say to find what I honestly believe to be a very serious
misunderstanding here, as to the events which more than anything else
have caused this alienation. You, who have proved your readiness as a
people to pour out ease, wealth, life itself, as water, that no shame or
harm should come to your country’s flag or name, should be the last to
wish the citizen of any other country to be false to his own. My respect
and love for your nation and your institutions should be worth nothing
to you, if I were not true to those of my own country, and did not love
them better. For this reason, then, and in the hope of proving to you
that you have misjudged the England of to-day--that she is no longer, at
any rate, if she ever was, the haughty, imperious power her enemies
have loved to paint her, interfering in every quarrel, subsidising and
hectoring over friends, and holding down foes with a brutal and heavy
hand, careless of all law except that of her own making, and bent
above all things on heaping up wealth--I have consented to appear
here tonight. I had hoped to be allowed to be amongst you simply as a
listener and a learner. Since my destiny and your kindness have ordered
it otherwise, I can only speak to you of that which is uppermost in my
thoughts, of which my heart is full. If I say things which are hard for
you to hear, I am sure you will pardon me as you would a spoilt child.
You are responsible for having taught me to open my heart and to speak
my mind to you, and will take it in good part if you do not find that
heart and mind just what you had assumed them to be.

I propose then, to-night, to state the case of my country so far as
regards her conduct while your great rebellion was raging. In a fight
for life, and for principles dearer than life, no men can be fair to
those who are outside. The time comes when they can weigh both sides of
the case impartially. I trust that that time has now arrived, and that I
can safely appeal to the calm judgment of a great people.

It is absolutely necessary, in order to appreciate what took place in
England during your great struggle, to bear in mind, in the first place,
that it agitated our social and political life almost as deeply as it
did yours. I am scarcely old enough to remember the fierce collisions
of party during the first Reform agitation, but I have taken a deep
interest, and during the last twenty years an active part, in every
great struggle since that time; and I say without hesitation, that not
even in the crisis of the Free-trade movement were English people more
deeply stirred than by that grapple between freedom and law on the
one hand, and slavery and privilege on the other, which was so sternly
battled through, and brought to so glorious and triumphant a decision,
in your great rebellion. There can be, I repeat, no greater mistake than
to suppose that there was anything like indifference on our side of the
water, and no one can understand the question who makes it. There was
plenty of ignorance, plenty of fierce partisanship, plenty of bewildered
hesitation and vacillation amongst great masses of honest, well-meaning
people, who could find no steady ground on the shifting sand of
statement and counter-statement with which they were deluged by those
who _did_ know their own minds, and felt by instinct from the first that
here was a battle for life or death; but there was, I repeat again,
no indifference. Our political struggles do not, as a rule, affect our
social life, but during your war the antagonism between your friends and
the friends of the rebel States often grew into personal hostility. I
know old friendships which were sorely tried by it, to put it no
higher. I heard, over and over again, men refuse to meet those who were
conspicuous on the other side. Any of you who had time to glance at our
papers will not need to be told how fiercely the battle was fought in
our press.

It is a mistake, also, to suppose that any section of our people were
on one side or the other. Let me say a few words in explanation of this
part of the subject. And first, of our aristocracy. I do not mean for
a moment to deny that a great majority of them took sides with the
Confederates, and desired to see them successful, and the great Republic
broken up into two jealous and hostile nations. What else could you
expect? Could you fairly look for sympathy in that quarter? Your whole
history has been a determined protest against privilege, and in favour
of equal rights for all men; and you have never been careful, in speech
or conduct, to conciliate your adversaries. For years your papers and
the speeches of your public men had rung with denunciations (many of
them very unfair) of them and their caste. They are not much in the
habit of allowing their sentiments to find public expression, but they
know what is going on in the world, and have long memories. It would be
well if many of us Liberals at home, as well as you on this side, would
remember that in this matter they cannot help themselves. A man in
England may be born a Howard, or a Cavendish, or a Cecil, without
any fault of his own, and is apt to “rear up,” as you say, when this
accident is spoken of as though it were an act of voluntary malignity on
his part, and to resent the doctrine that his class is a nuisance
that should be summarily abated. So, as a rule, they sided with the
rebellion; but that rule has notable exceptions.

There were no warmer or wiser friends of the Union than the Duke of
Argyll, Lord Carlisle, and others; and it should be remembered that
although the class made no secret of their leanings, and many of them,
I believe, subscribed largely to the Confederate loan, no motion hostile
to the Union was ever even discussed in the House of Lords. They have
lost their money and seen the defeat of the cause which they favoured--a
defeat so thorough, I trust, that that cause will never again be able to
raise its head on this continent. I believe they have learnt much from
the lesson, and that partly from the teaching of your war, partly from
other causes to which I have no time to refer, they are far more in
sympathy at this time with the nation than they have ever yet been.

Of course, those who hang round and depend upon the aristocracy went
with them--far too large a class, I am sorry to say, in our country, and
one whose voice is too apt to be heard in clubs and society. But Pall
Mall and Mayfair, and the journals and periodicals which echo the voices
of Pall Mall, do not mean much in England, though they are apt to talk
as though they did, and are sometimes taken at their word.

The great mercantile world comes next in order, and here, too, there was
a decided preponderance against you. The natural hatred of disturbances,
which dominates those whose main object in life is making money,
probably swayed the better men amongst them, who forgot altogether that
for that disturbance you were not responsible. The worse were carried
away by the hopes of gain, to be made out of the sore need of the States
in rebellion, and in defiance of the laws of their own country. But
amongst the most eminent, as well as in the rank and file of this class,
you had many warm friends, such as T. Baring and Kirkman Hodgson; and
the Union and Emancipation Societies, of which I shall speak presently,
found a number of their staunch supporters in their ranks. The
manufacturers of England were far more generous in their sympathies, as
my friend Mr. Mundella, who is present here to-night and was himself
a staunch friend, can witness. Cobden, Bright, and Forster were their
representatives, as well as the representatives of the great bulk of our
nation. I have no need to speak of them, for their names are honoured
here as they are at home.

Now, before I speak of your friends, let me first remind you that it is
precisely with that portion of the English nation of which I have been
speaking that your people come in contact when they are in our country.
An American generally has introductions which bring him into relations
more or less intimate with some sections of that society to which our
aristocracy gives its tone; or he is amongst us for business purposes,
and comes chiefly across our mercantile classes. I cannot but believe
that this fact goes far to explain the (to me) extraordinary prevalence
of the belief here, that the English nation was on the side of the
rebellion. That belief has, I hope and believe, changed considerably
since the waves of your mighty storm have begun to calm down, and I am
not without hopes that I may be able to change it yet somewhat more,
with some at least of those who have the patience and kindness to listen
to me this evening.

And now let me turn to those who were the staunch friends of the North
from the very outset. They were gathered from all ranks and all parts of
the kingdom. They were brought in by all sorts of motives. Some few had
studied your history, and knew that these Southern men had been the
only real enemies of their country on American soil since the War
of Independence. Many followed their old anti-slavery traditions
faithfully, and cast their lot at once against the slave-owners,
careless of the reiterated assertions, both on your side of the Atlantic
and ours, that the Union and not abolition was the issue. Many came
because they had learned to look upon your land as the great home for
the poor of all nations, and to love her institutions and rejoice in her
greatness as though they in some sort belonged to themselves. All felt
the tremendous significance of the struggle, and that the future
of their own country was almost as deeply involved as the future of
America. To all of them the noble words of one of your greatest poets
and staunchest patriots, which rang out in the darkest moments of the
first year of the war, struck a chord very deep in their hearts, and
expressed in undying words that which they were trying to utter:--

               O strange New World, thet yit wast never young,

               Whose youth from thee by gripin’ need was wrung,

               Brown foundlin’ o’ the woods, whose baby-bed

               Was prowled roun’ by the Injun’s cracklin’ tread,

               An’ who grew’st strong thru shifts an’ wants an’ pains,

               Nussed by stern men with empires in their brains,

               Who saw in vision their young Ishmel strain

               With each hard hand a vassal ocean’s mane,

               Thou, skilled by Freedom an’ by gret events

               To pitch new States ez Old-World men pitch tents,

               Thou, taught by Fate to know Jehovah’s plan

               Thet man’s devices can’t unmake a man,

               An’ whose free latch-string never was drawed in

               Against the poorest child of Adam’s kin,--

               The grave’s not dug where traitor hands shall lay

               In fearful haste thy murdered corse away!

It was in this faith that we took our stand, with a firm resolution that
no effort of ours should be spared to help your people shake themselves
clear of the dead weight of slavery, and to preserve that vast
inheritance of which God has made you the guardians and trustees for all
the nations of the earth, unbroken, and free from the standing armies,
disputed boundaries, and wretched heart-burnings and dissensions of the
Old World. It was little enough that we could do in any case, but that
little was done with all our hearts, and on looking back I cannot but
think was well done.

There was no need at first for any organisation. Until after the battle
of Manassas Junction in 1861, there was scarcely any public expression
of sympathy with the rebellion. The _Times_ and that portion of the
press which follows its lead, and is always ready to go in for the side
they think will win, were lecturing on the wickedness of the war and the
absurdity of the rebel States in supposing that they could resist for a
month the strength of the North. The news of that first defeat arrived,
and this portion of our press swung round, and the strong feeling in
favour of the rebellion which leavened society and the commercial
world began to manifest itself. The unlucky _Trent_ business, and your
continued want of success in the field, made matters worse. We were
silenced for the moment; for though, putting ourselves in your places,
we could feel how bitter the surrender of the two archrebels must have
been, we could not but admit that our Government was bound to insist
upon it, and that the demand had not been made in an arrogant or
offensive manner. If you will re-read the official documents now, I
think that you too will acknowledge that this was so. Then came Mr.
Mason’s residence in London, where his house became the familiar resort
of all the leading sympathisers with the rebellion. The newspaper
which he started, _The Index_, was full, week after week, of false and
malignant attacks on your Government. The most bitter of them to us was
the constant insistance, backed by quotations from Mr. Lincoln and Mr.
Seward, that the war had nothing to do with slavery, that emancipation
was far more likely to come from the rebels than from you.

“The lie that is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies,” and we felt
the truth of that wonderful saying. This had been our great difficulty
from the first. Our generation had been reared on anti-slavery
principles. We remembered as children how the great battle was won in
England, how even in our nurseries we gave up sugar lest we might be
tasting the accursed thing, and subscribed our pennies that the chains
might be struck from all human limbs. Emancipation had been the crowning
glory of England in our eyes. But we found that this great force was not
with us, was even slipping away and drifting to the other side. It was
not only Mr. Mason’s paper, and the backing he got in our press, which
was undermining it. The vehement protests of those who had been for
years looked on by us as the foremost soldiers in the great cause on
your side told in the same direction. I well remember the consternation
and almost despair with which I read in Mr. Phillips’ speech in this
hall on 20th June 1861, “The Republicans, led by Seward, offer to
surrender anything to save the Union. Their gospel is the constitution,
and the slave clause their sermon on the mount. They think that at the
judgment day the blacker the sins they have committed to save the Union
the clearer will be their title to heaven.”

Something must be done to counteract this, to put the case clearly
before our people. Mr. Mason and his friends were already establishing a
Confederate States Aid Association; it must be met by something similar
on the right side. So in 1862 the Emancipation and the Union and
Emancipation Societies were started in London and in Manchester, and in
good time came Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation of emancipation to strengthen
our hands. The original manifesto of the Emancipation Society said--“To
make it clear by the force of indisputable testimony that the South
is fighting for slavery, while the North is fully committed to the
destruction of slavery, is the principal object for which this society
is organised. Its promoters do not believe that English anti-slavery
sentiment is dead or enfeebled. They are confident that when the demands
and designs of the South are made clear, there will be no danger of
England being enticed into complicity with them.” We pledged ourselves
to test the opinion of the country everywhere by public meetings, and
challenged the Confederate States Aid Association to accept that test.
They did so; but I never could hear of any even quasi public meeting but
one which they held in England. That meeting was at Mr. Mason’s house,
and was, I believe, attended by some fifty persons.

The first step of our societies was to hold meetings for passing an
address of congratulation to your President on the publication of the
Emancipation proclamation. It was New Year’s Eve 1862. Our address said:
“We have watched with the warmest interest the steady advance of your
policy along the path of emancipation; and on this eve of the day on
which your proclamation takes effect we pray God to strengthen your
hands, to confirm your noble purpose, and to hasten the restoration of
that lawful authority which engages, in peace or war, by compensation
or by force of arms, to realise the glorious principle on which your
constitution is founded--the brotherhood, freedom, and equality of
all men.” The address was enthusiastically adopted by a large meeting,
chiefly composed of working men. It was clear at once that there was
a grand force behind us, for we became objects of furious attack. The
_Times_ called us impostors, and said we got our funds for the
agitation from American sources--the fact being that we always refused
contributions from this side. The _Saturday Review_ declared, in one
of its bitterest articles, that if anything could be calculated upon as
likely to defer indefinitely the gradual extinction of slavery, it
would be Mr. Lincoln’s fictitious abolition of it. We were meddlesome
fanatics, insignificant nobodies, mischievous agitators. This was
satisfactory and encouraging. We felt sure that we had taken the
right course, and not a moment too soon. Then came the test of public
meetings, which you at least are surely bound to accept as a fair gauge
of what a people thinks and wills.

Our first was held on the 29th of January 1863. We took Exeter Hall,
the largest and most central hall in London. We did nothing but simply
advertise widely that such a meeting would be held, inviting all who
cared to come, foes as well as friends. Prudent and timid people shook
their heads and looked grave. The cotton famine was at its worst, and
tens of thousands of our workpeople were “clemming” as they call it,
starving as you might say. Your prospects looked as black as they had
ever done; it was almost the darkest moment of the whole war. Even
friends warned us that we should fail in our object, and only do harm by
showing our weakness; that the Confederate States Aid Association would
spare no pains or money to break up the meeting, and a hundred roughs
sent there by them might turn it into a triumph for the rebellion.
However, on we went,--we knew our own people too well to fear the
result. The night came, and familiar as I am with this kind of thing,
I have never seen in my time anything approaching this scene. Remember,
there was nothing to attract people; no well-known orators, for we
always thought it best to keep our Parliament men to their own ground;
no great success to rejoice in, for you were just reeling under
the recoil of your gallant army from the blood-stained heights of
Fredericksburg; no attack on our own Government; no appeal to political
or social hates or prejudices; only doors thrown wide open, with the
invitation, “Now let Englishmen come forward and show on which side
their sympathies really are in this war.” Notwithstanding all these
disadvantages the great hall was densely crowded, so that there was no
standing room, and the Strand and the neighbouring streets blocked with
a crowd of thousands who could find no place, long before the doors were
open. We were obliged to organise a number of meetings on the spur of
the moment in the lower halls, and even in the open streets. In the
great hall--where two clergymen, the Hon. Baptist Noel and Mr. Newman
Hall, and I myself, were the chief speakers--as well as in every one of
the other meetings, we carried, not only without opposition, but, so far
as I remember, without a single hand being held up on the other
side, resolutions in favour of your Government, of the Union, and of
emancipation. The success was so complete that in London our work was
done.

Then followed similar meetings at Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds,
in all the great centres of population, with precisely the same result.
I don’t remember that the enemy ever even attempted to divide a meeting.
The country was carried by acclamation. Our friends in Liverpool wrote
with some anxiety as to the state of feeling there, and asked me to go
down and deliver an address. I went, and the meeting carried the same
resolutions by a very large majority; and those who, it was supposed,
came to disturb the proceedings, thought better of it when they saw the
temper of the audience, and were quiet. Without troubling you with any
further details of our work, I may just add, as a proof of how those
who profess to be the most astute worshippers of public opinion changed
their minds in consequence of the answer of the country to our appeals,
that in August 1863 the _Times_ supported our demand on the Government
for the stoppage of the steam-rams.

In addition to this political movement, we instituted also a number
of freedmen’s aid associations, in order that those abolitionists in
England who were still unable to put faith in your Government might have
an opportunity of helping in their own way. These associations entered
into correspondence with those on your side, and sent over a good many
thousand pounds’ worth of clothing and other supplies, besides money.
I forget the exact amount. It was a mere drop in the ocean of your
magnificent war charities, but it came from thousands who had little
enough to spare in those hard times, and I trust has had the effect of
a peace-offering with those of your people who are conversant with the
facts, and are ready to judge by their actual doings even those against
whom they think they have fair cause of complaint.

So much for what I may call the unofficial, or extraparliamentary,
struggle in England during your war. And now let me turn to the action
of our Government and of Parliament. I might fairly have rested my case
entirely upon this ground. In the case of nations blessed as America and
England are with perfect freedom of speech and action within the limits
of law--where men may say the thing they will freely, and without any
check but the civil courts--no one in my judgment has a right to make
the nation responsible for anything except what its Government says and
does. But I know how deeply the conduct and speech of English society
has outraged your people, and still rankles in their minds, and I wished
by some rough analysis, and by the statement of facts within my own
knowledge, and of doings in which I personally took an active part, to
show you that you have done us very scant justice. The dress suit, and
the stomach and digestive apparatus, of England were hostile to you, and
you have taken them for the nation: the brain and heart and muscle of
England were on your side, and these you have ignored and forgotten.

Now, for our Government and Parliament. I will admit at once, if you
please, that Lord Palmerston and the principal members of his Cabinet
were not friendly to you, and would have been glad to have seen your
Republic broken up. I am by no means sure that it was so; but let that
pass. I was not in their counsels, and have no more means of judging of
them than are open to all of you. Your first accusation against us
is, that the Queen’s proclamation of neutrality, which was signed
and published on the 13th of May 1861, was premature, and an act of
discourtesy to your Government, inasmuch as your new Minister, Mr.
Adams, only arrived in England on that very day. Well, looking back from
this distance of time, I quite admit that it would have been far better
to have delayed the publication of the proclamation till after he had
arrived in London. But at the time the case was very different. You
must remember that news of the President’s proclamation of the blockade
reached London on 3rd May. Of course, from that moment the danger of
collision between our vessels and yours, and of the fitting out of
privateers in our harbours, arose at once. In fact, your first capture
of a British vessel, the _General Parkhill_ of Liverpool, was made on
12th May. But if the publication of the proclamation of neutrality was
a mistake, it was made by our Government at the earnest solicitation
of Mr. Forster and other warm friends of yours, who pressed it forward
entirely, as they supposed, in your interest. They wanted to stop
letters of marque and to legitimise the captures made by your blockading
squadron. The Government acted at their instance; so, whether a blunder
or not, the proclamation was not an unfriendly act. Besides, remember
what it amounted to. Simply and solely to a recognition of the fact that
you had a serious war on hand. Mr. Seward had already admitted this in
an official paper of the 4th of May, and your Supreme Court decided, in
the case of the _Amy Warwick_, that the proclamation of blockade was in
itself conclusive evidence that a state of war existed at the time. If
we had ever gone a step further--if we had recognised the independence
of the rebel States, as our Government was strongly urged to do by their
envoys, by members of our Parliament, and lastly by the Emperor of
the French--you would have had good ground of offence. But this was
precisely what we never would do; and when they found this out, the
Confederate Government cut off all intercourse with England, and
expelled our consuls from their towns. So one side blamed us for doing
too much, and the other for doing too little--the frequent fate of
neutrals, as you yourselves are finding at this moment in the case of
the war between Prussia and France.

Then came the first public effort of the sympathisers with the
rebellion. After several preliminary skirmishes, which were defeated
by Mr. Forster (who had what we lawyers should call the watching brief,
with Cobden and Bright behind him as leading counsel, and who used to
go round the lobbies in those anxious days with his pockets bulging out
with documents to prove how effective the blockade was, and how many
ships of our merchants you were capturing every day), Mr. Gregory put a
motion on the paper. He was well chosen for the purpose, as a member of
great experience and ability, sitting on our side of the House, so that
weak-kneed Liberals would have an excuse for following him, and though
not himself in office, supposed to be on intimate terms with the Premier
and other members of the Cabinet. His motion was simply “to call the
attention of the House to the expediency of prompt recognition of the
Southern Confederacy.”

It was set down for 7th June 1861, and I tell you we were all pretty
nervous about the result. The _Spectator, Daily News, Star_, and other
staunch papers opened fire, and we all did what we could in the way of
canvassing; but until the Government had declared itself no Union man
could feel safe. Well, Lord John Russell, as the Foreign Minister,
got up, snubbed the motion altogether, said that the Government had no
intention whatever of agreeing to it, and recommended its withdrawal.
So Mr. Gregory and his friends took their motion off the paper without a
debate, and did not venture to try any other during the session of 1861.
In the late autumn came the unlucky _Trent_ affair, to which I have
already sufficiently alluded. Belying on the feeling which had been
roused by it, and cheered on by the Mason club in Piccadilly and the
_Index_ newspaper fulminations, and by the severe checks of the Union
armies, they took the field again in 1862. This time their tactics were
bolder. They no longer confined themselves to asking the opinion of the
House deferentially. Mr. Lindsay, the great shipowner, who it was said
had a small fleet of blockade-runners, was chosen as the spokesman. He
gave notice of motion, “That in the opinion of this House, the States
which have seceded from the Union have so long maintained themselves,
and given such proofs of determination and ability to support
independence, that the propriety of offering mediation with a view to
terminating hostilities is worthy of the serious and immediate attention
of Her Majesty’s Government.” Again we trembled for the result, and
again the Government came out with a square refusal on the 18th of July,
and this motion shared the fate of its predecessor, and was withdrawn by
its own promoters.

Then came the escape of the _Alabama_. Upon this I have no word to say.
My private opinion has been expressed over and over again in Parliament
(where in my first year, 1866, I think I was the first man to urge open
arbitration on our Government) as well as on the platform and in the
press. But I stand here to-night as an Englishman, and say that at this
moment I have no cause to be ashamed of the attitude of my country. Two
Governments in succession, Tory and Liberal, through Lords Stanley
and Clarendon, have admitted (as Mr. Fish states himself in his last
despatch on the subject) the principle of comprehensive arbitration on
all questions between Governments. This is all that a nation can do.
England is ready to have the case in all its bearings referred to
impartial arbitration, and to pay whatever damages may be assessed
against her without a murmur. She has also agreed (and again I use the
language of Mr. Fish) “to discuss the important changes in the rules
of public law, the desirableness of which has been demonstrated by the
incidents of the last few years, and which, in view of the maritime
prominence of Great Britain and the United States, it would befit them
to mature and propose to the other states of Christendom.” She has, in
fact, surrendered her old position as untenable, and agreed to the terms
proposed by your own Government. What more can you ask of a nation of
your own blood, as proud and sensitive as yourselves on all points where
national honour is in question?

But here I must remind you of one fact which you seem never to have
realised. The _Alabama_ was the only one of the rebel cruisers of
whose character our Government had any notice, which escaped from our
harbours. The _Shenandoah_ was a merchant vessel, employed in the Indian
trade as the _Sea King_. Her conversion into a rebel cruiser was
never heard of till long after she had left England. The _Georgia_ was
actually reported by the surveyor of the Board of Trade as a merchant
ship, and to be “rather crank.” She was fitted out on the French coast,
and left the port of Cherbourg for her first cruise. The _Florida_ was
fitted out in Mobile. She was actually detained at Nassau on suspicion,
and only discharged by the Admiralty Court there on failure of evidence.
On the other hand, our Government stopped the _Rappahannock,_ the
_Alexandra,_ and the _Pampero_, and seized Mr. Laird’s celebrated rams
at Liverpool, and Captain Osborne’s Chinese flotilla, for which last
exercise of vigilance the nation had to pay £100,000.

Such is our case as to the cruisers which did you so much damage. I
believe it to be true. If we are mistaken, however, you will get such
damages for each and all of these vessels as the arbitrator may award.
We reserve nothing. I as an Englishman am deeply grieved that any of my
countrymen, for base love of gain or any other motive, should have dared
to defy the proclamation of my Sovereign, speaking in the nation’s name.
I earnestly long for the time when by wise consultation between our
nations, and the modification of the public law bearing on such cases,
not only such acts as these, but all war at sea, shall be rendered
impossible. The United States and England have only to agree in this
matter, and there is an end of naval war through the whole world.

In 1863 the horizon was still dark. Splendid as your efforts had been,
and magnificent as was the attitude of your nation, tried in the fire
as few nations have been in all history, those efforts had not yet been
crowned with any marked success. With us it was the darkest in the whole
long agony, for in it came the crisis of that attempt of the Emperor of
the French to inveigle us in a joint recognition of the Confederacy,
on the success of which his Mexican adventure was supposed to hang. The
details of those negotiations have never been made public. All we
know is, that Mr. Lindsay and Mr. Roebuck went to Paris and had long
conferences with Napoleon, the result of which was the effort of Mr.
Roebuck (now in turn the representative of the rebels in our Parliament)
to force or persuade our Government into this alliance. Then came the
final crisis. On the 30th of June 1863, a day memorable in our history
as in yours, at the very time that your army of the Potomac was hurrying
through the streets of Gettysburg to meet the swoop of those terrible
Southern legions, John Bright stood on the floor of our House of
Commons, on fire with that righteous wrath which has so often lifted him
above the heads of other English orators.

He dragged the whole plot to light, quoted the former attacks of Mr.
Roebuck on his Imperial host, and then turning to the Speaker, went on,
“And now, sir, the honourable and learned gentleman has been to Paris,
introduced there by the honourable member for Sunderland, and he has
sought to become, as it were, a co-conspirator with the French Emperor,
to drag this country into a policy which I maintain is as hostile to its
interests as it would be degrading to its honour.” From that moment the
cause of the rebellion was lost in England; for by the next mails came
the news of the three days’ fight, and the melting away of Longstreet’s
corps in the final and desperate efforts to break the Federal line on
the slopes of little Round Top. A few weeks more and we heard of the
surrender of Vicksburg, and no more was heard in our Parliament of
recognition or mediation.

I have now, my friends, stated the case between our countries from
an Englishman’s point of view, of course, but I hope fairly and
temperately. At any rate, I have only spoken of matters within my own
personal knowledge, and have only quoted from public records which
are as open to every one of you as they are to me. Search them,
I beseech you, and see whether I am right or not. If wrong, it is from
no insular prejudices or national conceit, and you will at any rate
think kindly and bear with the errors of one who has always loved your
nation well, through good report and evil report, and is now bound to
it by a hundred new and precious ties. If right, all I beg of you is, to
use your influences that old hatreds and prejudices may disappear, and
America and England may march together, as nations redeemed by a common
Saviour, toward the goal which is set for them in a brighter future.

               Shall it be love, or hate, John?

                   It’s you thet’s to decide;

               Ain’t your bonds held by Fate, John,

                   Like all the world’s beside?

So runs the end of the solemn appeal in “Jonathan to John,” the poem
which suggested the title of this lecture. It comes from one who never
deals in wild words. I am proud to be able to call him a very dear and
old friend. He is the American writer who did more than any other to
teach such of us in the old country as ever learned them at all, the
rights and wrongs of this great struggle of yours. Questions asked by
such men can never be safely left on one side. Well, then, I say we
_have_ answered them. We know--no nation, I believe, knows better, or
confesses daily with more of awe--that our bonds are held by fate; that
a strict account of all the mighty talents which have been committed to
us will be required of us English, though we do live in a sea fortress,
in which the gleam of steel drawn in anger has not been seen for more
than a century. We know that we are very far from being what we ought to
be; we know that we have great social problems to work out, and, believe
me, we have set manfully to work to solve them,--problems which go right
down amongst the roots of things, and the wrong solution of which may
shake the very foundations of society. We have to face them manfully,
after the manner of our race, within the four corners of an island not
bigger than one of your large States; while you have the vast
elbow-room of this wonderful continent, with all its million outlets and
opportunities for every human being who is ready to work. Yes, our bonds
are indeed held by fate, but we are taking strict account of the number
and amount of them, and mean, by God’s help, to dishonour none of them
when the time comes for taking them up. We reckon, too, some of us, that
as years roll on, and you get to understand us better, we may yet hear
the words “Well done, brother,” from this side of the Atlantic; and if
the strong old islander, who, after all, is your father, should happen
some day to want a name on the back of one of his bills, I, for one,
should not wonder to hear that at the time of presentation the name
Jonathan is found scrawled across there in very decided characters. For
we have answered that second question, too, so far as it lies in our
power.

It will be love and not hate between the two freest of the great nations
of the earth, if our decision can so settle it. There will never be
anything but love again, if England has the casting vote. For remember
that the force of the decision of your great struggle has not been spent
on this continent. Your victory has strengthened the hands and hearts of
those who are striving in the cause of government, for the people by the
people, in every corner of the Old World. In England the dam that had
for so many years held back the free waters burst in the same year that
you sheathed your sword, and now your friends there are triumphant and
honoured; and if those who were your foes ever return to power you will
find that the lesson of your war has not been lost on them. In another
six years you will have finished the first century of your national
life. By that time you will have grown to fifty millions, and will
have subdued and settled those vast western regions, which now in the
richness of their solitudes, broken only by the panting of the engine as
it passes once a day over some new prairie line, startles the traveller
from the Old World. I am only echoing the thoughts and prayers of
my nation in wishing you God-speed in your great mission. When that
centenary comes round, I hope, if I live, to see the great family of
English-speaking nations girdling the earth with a circle of free and
happy communities, in which the angels’ message of peace on earth and
good-will amongst men may not be still a mockery and delusion. It rests
with you to determine whether this shall be so or not. May the God of
all the nations of the earth, who has so marvellously prospered you
hitherto, and brought you through so great trials, guide you in your
decision!

THE END





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