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Title: With the World's Great Travellers, Volume IV

Author: Various

Editor: Charles Morris
        Oliver H. G.  Leigh

Release Date: September 16, 2013 [EBook #43745]

Language: English

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cover

THE COLOGNE CATHEDRAL THE COLOGNE CATHEDRAL

Painting by W.Witthoft


SPECIAL  EDITION

WITH THE WORLD’S
GREAT  TRAVELLERS

EDITED BY CHARLES MORRIS
AND OLIVER H. G. LEIGH

Vol. IV

union label

CHICAGO

UNION BOOK COMPANY

1901


Copyright 1896 and 1897
BY
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY


Copyright 1901
E. R. DuMONT


CONTENTS.


SUBJECT.AUTHOR. PAGE
Paris, Amsterdam Oliver H. G. Leigh 5
Florence and its Art Treasures Sarah J. Lippincott 16
The Lake Region of Italy Robert A. McLeod 26
A Day in Rome Bayard Taylor 37
Pompeii and its Destroyer Alfred E. Lee 48
Mount Etna in Eruption Bayard Taylor 61
Plebeian Life in Venice Horace St. John 70
Athens and its Temples J. L. T. Phillips 79
The Isles of Greece Henry M. Field 89
The Seraglio on the Golden Horn Edward Daniel Clarke 100
Zermatt and its Scenery Stanley Hope 112
Alpine Mountain Climbing Edward Whymper 121
A Typical Dutch City Edmondo de Amicis 131
Antwerp and its People Rose G. Kingsley 140
Art Museums of Dresden Elizabeth Peake 147
The Students of Heidelberg Bayard Taylor 158
The Streets of Berlin Matthew Woods 165
A Ramble in Prussia Stephen Powers 176
The Salt-Mines of Wieliczka J. Ross Browne 183
The Jumping Procession of Echternach M. Ogle 193
The Capital of Austria John Russell 201
The Esterházy Palaces John Paget 210
From Hamburg to Stockholm Mrs. Andrew Crosse 221
The Midnight Sun Langley Coleridge 229
In the Russian Capital Samuel S. Cox 236
A Visit to Finland David Ker 246
Moscow in 1800 Edward Daniel Clarke 257
A Russian Sleigh Journey Frederick Burnaby 267

List of Illustrations

VOLUME IV

The Cologne Cathedral Frontispiece
Louvre Museum, Apollo Gallery 12
St. Gotthard Railway (Viaduct and Tunnel) 28
Arch of Titus, Rome 38
The Famous Bridge of the Rialto, Venice 46
The Church of St. Mark, Venice 74
Acropolis at Athens, Greece 84
Corinth, Greece 96
The Lion Monument, Lucerne 114
Kleine Scheidegg (The Jungfrau) 124
A Typical Dutch Windmill 134
The Waterloo Pyramid 144
The Town and Castle of Heidelberg 160
Innsbruck, Theresa Street 186
Budapest 212
Moscow 258

[Pg 5]

WITH THE WORLD’S GREAT TRAVELLERS.


THE WORLD’S GREAT CAPITALS OF TO-DAY.

OLIVER H. G. LEIGH.


Paris, Amsterdam.

Paris, pleasure capital of the world, the ideal cosmopolitan city, a thousand different delights for a thousand different tastes, is as fascinating to the scholar and bookworm as to the tourist and the belle of fashion. The weary old world would die of melancholy if the light of gay Paris were to go out. Lutetia, as the Romans called the ancient town, is still the merry child in the family of nations. Fortune gave it favors without stint. Emperors and kings delighted to adorn it with a lavishness equalled by the lasting splendor of their gifts. Art and learning, the genius of ecclesiasticism and the desire for popular enjoyment, contributed the venerable edifices and their priceless treasures, and dowered the modern city with the heirlooms of many centuries. Notre Dame rose eight hundred years ago from the ruins of a fourth-century church. A few years ago were discovered the foundations of an amphitheatre capable of seating ten thousand people as far back as the year 350, when the city’s population must have been at least twice that number. No wonder all the world gathers periodically at this natural centre of everything that can make a city a miniature world[Pg 6] in itself, for in the Paris of to-day stand side by side monuments and memorials of antiquity, and the grandest triumphs of latter-day genius in a profusion that bewilders the eye and the mind. It is as though the genii of all time and all peoples had conspired to shower their fairest gifts upon the favored spot of earth round which the drama of the ages has enacted its tremendous tableaux.

A run through its history must be the first item in the programme of the traveller who wishes to take with him his best pair of eyes. Then he will find the old gray stones turn into glass to let him see into the hidden glory behind. The lesser charms of the pretty city are palpable to any child. Yet it is impossible to look at the building or monument that first catches the eye without a flash-light of mere newspaper lore casting a momentary shadow, or glare, over it. It is not so long ago that the flames lit by the Commune brought the beautiful city nearer to ruin than all the storms of centuries had effected. In its long day Paris has suffered most of the ills that civic life is heir to. Its people have been subject to political maladies from time to time, that have endangered its very existence. A strange career, a blend of demoniac fury and light-hearted gaiety, yesterday its streets flowing with citizen and royal blood, to-day they echo with jubilant laughter, to-morrow—? The wheel is more likely to revolve than to stand long still. Paris alone among the great capitals of the world prefers change to stability, which is only another expression of her happy, mercurial temperament. France is sedate, plodding, content with present conditions until sure they can be bettered. Paris must gallop even if it costs a fall or two, which makes it the most interesting of all places.

When a city is little else than “sights” there is monotony in naming them. Paris itself commands first attention.[Pg 7] The grandeur of its design, its famous boulevards, avenues and streets, and many of its ornamental features, must be credited to the last emperor, Napoleon III., whose dynasty came to grief at Sedan. Modern Paris owes more to his reign, and modern travellers more of their pleasure, than is ordinarily acknowledged. He bade Haussmann replace the old streets with the noble avenues that give inexhaustible sensations of delight at every turn and vista. A happy thought was that which perpetuates the great names of France in these street names; even literature is not forgotten, but reflects the honor it receives from tablets naming avenues after Montaigne, Voltaire, Hugo and others.

The three-mile walk from the Place de la Concorde to the site of the old Bastille yields the ideal of city magnificence and personal delight. There is no disappointment of even extravagant expectation. This unrivalled Place is in itself a grand intellectual as well as artistic feast. The Luxor obelisk brings into mind Egypt’s six thousand years of strangest history, its Pyramids, its Sphinx, and Napoleon. Close to it the Revolution guillotined a king and queen, and an old aristocracy. Heroic sculptures range around the Place, symbolizing eight great cities of France, that of lost Strasburg veiled in mourning. From the Place and the twelve streets radiating from the Arc de Triomphe, it is not possible to go far without coming upon some striking feature.

The Church of the Madeleine is accounted the most exquisite building in the city, though it is modelled on the art of ancient Greece. There are many triumphs of later styles, each grand, but yielding the palm to this Temple of Glory, as Napoleon intended it to be. It is three hundred and thirty feet long, one hundred and thirty[Pg 8] wide, and one hundred high, without windows, and surrounded by Corinthian columns.

The Arc de Triomphe is the stateliest arch ever built, perfect in every respect. It was copied from the imperial arches of old Rome, with grander massiveness. It commemorates the triumphs of Napoleon.

Notre Dame is not a modern imitation. The great cathedral stands on the little Ile de la Cité which was the beginning of Paris, inhabited two thousand years ago by the Parisii, a Celtic tribe whose name survives. For eight centuries it has been a Christian church. The west front is rich in statues of the kings of France. The originals were destroyed in the Revolution, but have been replaced. The cathedral itself was turned into the mockery of a Temple of Reason, with a woman of the town enthroned as its deity. Napoleon’s wise statesmanship restored the church to its rightful usages. The Commune once more made free with the old shrine, using it as barracks. Among its relics is the robe Archbishop Darboy wore when the Communists put him to death. The churches of Paris have weird stories to tell. The sacred spot where Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, was buried, in the sixth century, was a place of worship until the Revolution changed it into a Pantheon. It became a church once more in 1851, though in its crypt lie Voltaire, Rousseau, and other famous writers. The tomb of Napoleon is beneath the Dome of the Church of the Invalides, attached to the home for veterans founded by Louis XIV.

The famous palace of the Tuileries was built in the sixteenth century for Catherine de’ Medici. It was the home of emperors and kings, and the shrine of precious treasures of art from that time down to the fall of the second empire, when the Communists destroyed it beyond repair. The politics of spite never yet inspired its votaries [Pg 9] to create a thing of beauty for posterity to enjoy. Opposite the blank left by this vandal outrage stands the Louvre, perhaps the greatest jewel casket of art in existence, certainly beyond human power to replace if destroyed. Yet even the Louvre was, in 1870, undermined by the mob in power, who longed to blow it into nothingness—in their pious enthusiasm for enlightened progress. This two-hundred-year old palace is a wonder of architectural beauty. Its museums are famous for the statuary and paintings by the great masters. The Venus of Melos stands as the chief feature of one gallery. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and others of their rank are represented here among the two thousand pictures, besides innumerable masterpieces in various arts. The gallery of Apollo passes description as a chamber, were it empty. Its contents have almost fabulous value.

The Luxembourg Palace was built in 1620. It has known strange experiences—first royal habitation, then a prison during the Revolution, again a palace under the Directory and Consulate, and at last the house of the Republic’s Senate. The Palais Royal was built for Cardinal Richelieu. After his death it had a king for its master, to-day its grand arcades echo to the chatter of bargain-seeking shoppers, despite the firebrands of the Communists. Adjoining it is the national playhouse, the Comédie Française, which also had a narrow escape from the caresses of the reformers. Moličre managed this theatre for a while, for which, and because he gave the world immortal plays, he was denied Christian burial. His statue, however, makes amends. A greater theatre as to size and gorgeousness is the Grand Opera House. Three acres of central ground were cleared of ordinary buildings and streets to make room for this imposing[Pg 10] structure, which is the most ornate of its kind in the world. The mere pictures of its staircase and foyer are bewildering in magnificence.

After weariness of city sights it is good to make for the Bois de Boulogne, the main park of Paris. Its twenty-three hundred acres are connected with the Champs-Élysées by several avenues, of which the finest is the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, three hundred and fifteen feet wide and forty-two hundred long. The drive round the lake is the rendezvous of fashion every afternoon. The zoological garden, model dairy, the avenue of acacias, the field of Longchamps, where races and reviews take place, are among the showplaces. At the opposite, the east, side of the city is the spacious Bois de Vincennes, a favorite park with many attractions. The monuments of Paris are familiar to the average reader who stays at home. The July Column replaces the Bastille, the Vendôme Column, with its statue of Napoleon as Cćsar, was pulled down by the Commune and has risen again. Arches, fountains and statuary abound on all sides. Pčre la Chaise cemetery is the favorite field of oratory, many eulogies of the dead being political harangues of extreme types. Here are buried enough celebrities to immortalize a monumentless city, Abélard and Héloďse, Chopin, Rossini, Bellini, Cherubini, Alfred de Musset, Bernardin de St.-Pierre, Beaumarchais, Béranger, Talma, Racine, Moličre, Lafontaine, Balzac, and many national statesmen. In Montmartre cemetery lie Heine, Murger, Halévy, Gautier, Troyon. Lafayette and many of the old nobility who perished in the Revolution, repose in the Picpus burial-ground.

There are many attractive places near Paris, such as Versailles, which must be counted among the city sights. This old town has grown up around the palace built by Louis XIV. It has not been inhabited by royalty since the[Pg 11] Revolution, but is a museum devoted “to all the glories of France.” The halls are thronged with statues and portraits of the great men of history and her victorious battles. The bedroom of the Grand Monarch, the halls of the kings and marshals, the Queen’s Chamber, and every corner of the building are rich in historical memories. The great park and famous fountains, the royal coaches, the Grand Trianon villa which was the home of Madame de Maintenon, and the Petit Trianon, the cosy country cottage of Marie Antoinette, all have their fascinations. So might we notice St. Cloud, the favorite residence of the last emperor, and St. Denis, with its ancient cathedral, where the kings of France during eleven centuries were buried. The Revolutionists dug up the royal bones and flung them into a ditch, whence they were afterwards borne back into the crypt of St. Denis. The region of Paris teems with associations, grown sacred by age and sentiment, yet its citizens rarely appear to be in the serious vein. Their mode of life conduces to rapidity of thought and quick passing of emotions. Over a simple glass of sweetened water grave-looking men will vivaciously enact a dialogue which a stranger to the country might suppose was the prelude to a tragedy, when it is only a comparison of views on last night’s ballet. The outdoor gatherings in front of the innumerable cafés is one of the charms of the gay capital. The habit is Parisian to the core. They sit and quiz the human menagerie as it parades for their delectation; at least this is the complacent view taken of the moving crowd by the true Parisian. The great streets are made for grand informal parades; there is elbow room for hundreds of thousands and each avenue has a park-like aspect. The French are gifted with the instinct of perfect taste in most things, and this shows nowhere more effectively than in their planning and[Pg 12] using a city for artistic ends. Every street stall and lamppost is made part of the general scheme of adornment.

The first few explorations of Paris will fill the mind with wonder and admiration. Then comes the irrepressible desire to know what all its magnificence, its historic object-lessons, all its inexhaustible resources of art and invention, will lead to. A hopeless question, yet the past piques curiosity about the future. So stupendous a monument to human achievement of every order surely betokens an abiding greatness. A people capable of creating a Paris must be destined to a millennium of happy peace and unbroken prosperity. National temperament rarely changes, but bitter experience cannot forget the consequences of former laxity in managing the helm of state. Paris owes it to modern civilization and to posterity to conserve its remaining treasures, at whatever cost.


Amsterdam after Paris may suggest water after wine. A watery city it is and water is excellent at times, if not always. The water streets of the Dutch capital are, sometimes, if not always, inky, and ink of an odor best described by prefixing a couple of consonants. Yet old Amsterdam is full of charm, though not of the Parisian kinds. Its quaint houses have a general look of being turned end-on to the street, their ornamental gables make a sky-line suggestive of a lady’s lace collar. Many of them have a projecting crane with rope and pulley, giving a warehouse appearance to private dwellings. They are still used to save dirtying the stairs when goods are delivered. Cleanliness is the prevailing vice of Amsterdam dames. From bedroom to kitchen every room, and everything in every room, is painfully clean. Between six and eight in the morning every good housewife swills the front of her home from the roof to the curbstone, whether it needs it or not.

LOUVRE MUSEUM, APOLLO GALLERY LOUVRE MUSEUM, APOLLO GALLERY

[Pg 13]

The capital, as Erasmus of Rotterdam once remarked, is a place where the people dwell on the tops of trees, like birds. Amsterdam is built on three million piles, driven deep into the swampy soil. Half of its streets are canals. A large population lives in canal-boats the year round. The city is divided by large and small canals into about a hundred islands, with three hundred bridges. The inhabitants feel secure on their timber foundation, though buildings have sunk, occasionally. While the wood-worms are few and feeble and the piles keep wet there is little danger.

The river Amstel passes through the city and gives it its name from the great system of embankments which dam the ever-threatening tide from the arm of the Zuyder Zee on which Amstel-dam stands. This arm is called the Y, spelled Ij in Dutch, and will form a ship-channel, fifty miles long, to the North Sea when fully completed. A large shipping trade is done in the spacious docks, where coffee, tobacco, and sugar come in vast quantities from the Dutch East Indies. One of the industries peculiar to Amsterdam is diamond-cutting. It is not difficult to get access to one of the workshops, and the operation is exceedingly interesting. On market-days and holidays there is a chance to see the old-time picturesque costumes still worn in country parts. The metal helmets, sometimes of silver and gold, with curious ear ornaments have a fine antique air. On Sunday evenings the working folk take their pleasures in the parks, of which swinging is with many the favorite joy. A plump damsel or plumper matron stands facing the lover or husband, and they can swing almost level with the treetop before they tire, or tumble. They take no harm by a fall.

The churches are large, cold and gloomy. The Oude Kerk dates from about 1300. The stained windows are[Pg 14] interesting and the organ, two or three stories high, is powerful and mellow. Instead of the pews covering the floor, they occupy a raised platform in the centre, enclosed by a fence with locked doors. Near by may be seen a pile of boxes like stools, which are charcoal stoves to warm the worshippers in winter. The psalmody is so slow that the organ fills up the intervals between words and lines with rolling chords. Near the palace in the centre of the city is the Niewe Kerk, a more ornate and interesting church, built in 1408, in which the sovereigns are crowned. Its monuments to Admiral de Ruyter and Vondel, the national poet, are fine art-works, as also are the carved pulpit and the bronzes in the choir.

The royal palace, on the central square called the Dam, was built in 1648. It stands on thirteen thousand piles. It was originally the State House. Opposite is the Beurs, or Exchange. The Dutch school of painting has qualities not excelled by the finest productions of other nations. Its painters developed a marvellous proficiency in detail-work, a literalness of interpretation, a realism which is undoubtedly imitative, but in its mastery of execution compels enthusiastic admiration. The flatness of their country afforded no chance for painting fine landscapes. What they saw was the sky and the sea in the distance, and people, cattle and household goods at close range. No painters among the old masters equal the Dutchmen in cloud-scapes and sea-pieces, in fidelity to nature and delicate touch. Similarly, there are few, if any, portraits as strong as these wonderful canvases of the Dutch school. No other artists had the genius to see the possible triumphs awaiting the brush that could counterfeit the dewdrop on a rose, the glisten of the copper stew-pan or the satin gown, or the fluffy texture of a beggar’s coat. Now that two generations have learned these things by patient imitation of[Pg 15] the old Dutchmen this art has become familiar, but no copyist of our time has approached the marvellous beauty and skill that mark the old Dutch masterpieces. The traveller will enjoy himself to the full in the famous galleries of Amsterdam, and the other towns that lie within easy reach. There are four hundred paintings in the Trippenhuis museum, of which the most famous is Rembrandt’s great picture, “The Night Watch.” Still more impressive to many is the magnificent work of Vander Helst, “The Banquet of the Civic Guard,” an immense canvas, showing a band of men in armor carousing around a table loaded with gold and silver plate, glasses, flagons, etc., affording an opportunity for the painter to show Dutch art at its highest. There are great treats in these galleries for the lover of pictures and for the student of manners. Some of the old painters either lacked poetical imagination or indulged their whimsical humor to the verge of the shocking, in certain subjects. They had at least the merit of being faithful to life as they saw it, which satisfies the average man better, on the whole, than impressionism run to seed.

Eight hundred years ago Amsterdam was a fishing village. In the fifteenth century it became the most important commercial city in the Netherlands. Peter the Great learned the art of ship-building in the little village of Zaandam near the capital. A modern building encloses the cottage in which he lived. The people are rightly proud of their city and its history. They have not of late had opportunities to test their old supremacy as sea-warriors, but they exhibit all their sturdy characteristics in fighting the sea itself, repelling its ceaseless attempts at invasion. The women may be expected to uphold the national reputation for energy in any emergency, to judge by the stolid contentment with which so many of them do men’s work. They act as railway signal men, boatmen, market porters,[Pg 16] and do not object to being harnessed with dogs as wagon teams. Yet they seem happy if not exactly gay. In the cities less of this is noticeable. The capital is not behind in artistic and literary culture. Scholarship has always distinguished its people. Its old bookstores are a delightful temptation. The zoological garden is one of the finest anywhere. English is spoken in all the principal stores. The public charities are on an extensive scale. The foreigner is occasionally embarrassed at being politely saluted by members of the Exchange if he chances to pass as they are coming out, and in many such ways he is impressed by the courtesies shown him on all hands. One would not rush to Amsterdam for Parisian excitements, but for nervous systems needing the tone best secured by moderate activity in surroundings that are novel and uniquely interesting, a visit to Amsterdam will prove as great a pleasure as a benefit.


FLORENCE AND ITS ART TREASURES.

SARAH J. LIPPINCOTT.

[Mrs. Sarah J. Lippincott (“Grace Greenwood”), in her popular “Haps and Mishaps of a Tour in Europe,” has given a well-written and appreciative account of Florence and its objects of art and interest, which we here reproduce. Our extract begins with a railway journey from Leghorn.]

The railway, which is a very good one, runs through a pleasant country cultivated like a garden, which grows more and more lovely till you reach Florence. The station is near Cascine, the fashionable drive and promenade lying just beyond the city walls, along the Arno; so that our[Pg 17] first lookout was upon a gay and beautiful scene,—those noble grounds thronged with equestrians, and pedestrians, and elegant equipages. From that moment I have been charmed with Florence beyond all expectation and precedent. Every picturing of fancy, every dream of romance, has been met and surpassed. It is a city of enchantment, rich in incomparable treasures for the lover of poetry and art. In merely driving from the station to our hotel, on the Arno, near the Ponte Vecchio, I was struck by the noble style of architecture; uniform in solidity, and in a sort of antique solemnity, yet not monotonously gloomy or curiously quaint. But when we drove about in the brightness of a lovely morning, and saw the grand and ponderous old palaces, the noble churches, the beautiful towers, the graceful bridges,—when we caught, at almost every turn, natural pictures which art could never approach,—I could only express by broken sentences and exclamations, childishly repeated, the rare and glowing pleasure I enjoyed.

O pictures of beauty, O visions of brightness, how must ye fade under my leaden pencil! It is strange, but I never feel so poor in expression as when my very soul is staggering under the weight of new treasures of thought and feeling.

One of our first visits was to the Royal Gallery, in the Uffizi. Through several rooms and corridors, making little pause in any, we passed to the Tribune,—for its size, doubtless the richest room in the world in great works of art. In the centre stands the Venus de Medici, “the wondrous statue that enchants the world,” says the poet; but as for me, I bow not before it with any heartiness of adoration. Exquisite, tender, and delicate beyond my fairest fancy, I found the form; graceful to the last point of perfection seemed to me the attitude and action; but the smallness[Pg 18] and the insignificant character of the head, and the simpering senselessness of the face, place it without my Olympus. I deny its divinity in toto, and bear my offerings to other shrines. Yet the Venus de Medici does not strike me as a voluptuous figure; it certainly is not powerfully and perilously so, wanting, as it does, all strength of passion and noble development of soul; for, paradoxical as it may seem, a soul of wild depths and passionate intensity must lie beneath the alluring warmth and brightness of a refined and perfect sensuality.

Of another, and a far more dangerous character, I should say, is the Venus of Titian, which hangs near it. Here is voluptuousness, gorgeous, undisguised, yet subtle, and in a certain sense poetic and refined. She is neither innocent nor unconscious, yet not bold, nor coarse, nor meretricious. She proudly and quietly revels in her own marvellous beauties, if not like a goddess who knows herself every inch divine, at least like a woman by character and position quite as free from the obligations of morality and purity. For all the wonderful beauty of this great picture, I cannot like it, cannot even tolerate it; but, with an inexpressible feeling of relief, turn from it to the Bella Donna and the Flora of the same artist. The latter is to me the most fascinating and delicious picture I have ever beheld; the richness, the fulness, the golden splendor of its beauty, flood my soul with a strange and passionate delight. There is no high peculiar sentiment about it, though it is grand in its pure simplicity; yet its soft, sunny, luxurious loveliness alone brings tears to my eyes,—tears which I dash away jealously, lest they hide for one instant the transcendent vision.

In the Tribune are several of the finest paintings of Raphael,—the Fornarina, a rich, glowing picture, but a face I cannot like; the young St. John, a glorious figure, and[Pg 19] the Madonna del Cardellino, one of the loveliest of his holy families. There is also a great picture by Andrea del Sarto, which impressed me much; the Adoration of the Magi, by Albert Dürer, the heads full of a simple grandeur peculiar to that noble artist; and an exquisite little Virgin and Child, by Correggio. In another room, after looking at a bewildering number of pictures, most of which have already passed from my mind, I came upon a head of Medusa, by Leonardo da Vinci, which I fear will haunt me to my dying day. It is surely the most terrible painting I have ever beheld.

In the magnificent Pitti palace, among many glorious pictures, I saw two before which my heart bowed in most living adoration—the Madonna della Seggiola of Raphael, and a Virgin and Child of Murillo. The former is surely the sweetest group by the divine painter; and the last, if not of a very elevated character, pure and tender, and surpassingly lovely. In this gallery are Titian’s Bella Donna, Magdalene, and Marriage of St. Catharine. The first of these, which is a portrait, seems to me far the finest. The more I see of them the more am I impressed with the conviction that there is nothing in all his grand and varied works displaying such profound and pre-eminent genius, such subtle, masterly, miraculous power, as the portraits of Titian.

In this palace we saw Canova’s Venus, which I liked no better than I expected. There is about the head, attitude, and figure an affected, fine-ladyish air, dainty, and conscious, and passionless, which is worse than the absolute voluptuousness which would be in character at least with the earthly Venus.

I am more and more convinced that there is in sculpture but one divine mother of pure Love,—the grand and majestic Venus of Milo.

[Pg 20]

To-day we have driven out to Fiesole, and seen the massive walls of the ancient Etruscan city. These ramparts, which are called “Cyclopean constructions,” are said to be at least three thousand years old, and yet look as though they might endure to the end of time. From a hill above the town we had a large and lovely view of the beautiful valley of the Arno, and looked down upon Florence, lapped in its midst, small, compact, yet beautiful and stately. I never beheld a more enchanting picture than the broad and bright one there spread before me: the blue mountains, the gleaming river, the green and smiling valley; hills covered with olives and myrtles; roads winding between hedges of roses to innumerable villas, nestled in flowery nooks, or crowning breezy heights. Oh, this was enchantment of fairy-land, no dream of poetry; it was in very truth a paradise on earth.

On our return we visited the house of Michael Angelo, which is reverently kept by his descendants, as nearly as possible, in the same state in which he left it. It is a handsome, quaint old house, quiet, shadowy, and somewhat sombre, still pervaded with the awe-inspiring atmosphere of the colossal genius of that Titanic artist.

As I stood in his studio, or in the little cabinet where he used to write, and saw before me the many objects once familiar to his eye and hand, I felt that it was but yesterday that he was borne forth from his beloved home, and that it was the first funereal stillness and sadness which pervaded it now.

We afterwards drove to “Dante’s stone,” a slab of marble by the side of the way, on which he used to sit in the long summer evenings, rapt in mournful meditations, and dreaming his immortal dreams. It is now as sacred to his memory as the stone above his grave.

For the past two afternoons we have driven in the Cascine,[Pg 21] by far the most delightful drive and place of reunion I have ever seen. It is much smaller and, of course, less magnificent than Hyde Park, but pleasanter, I think, in having portions more sheltered, wild, and quiet for riders and promenaders. In the centre of the grounds, opposite the Grand Duke’s farm-house, is an open space where the band is stationed, and the carriages come together to exchange compliments and hear music. Here are always to be seen many splendid turnouts, open carriages filled with elegantly-dressed ladies; gallant officers and gay dames on horseback; flower-girls, bearing about the most delicious lilies and roses, pinks and lilacs, mignonette and heliotrope, freighting the golden evening air with their intoxicating fragrance and amazing you with their paradisian profusion,—altogether a cheering and charming scene, colored and animated by the very soul of innocent pleasure.

This afternoon we met Charles Lever, riding with his wife and two daughters. They are all fine riders, were well mounted, and looked a very happy family party. Mr. Lever is much such a man as you would look to see in the author of Charles O’Malley,—hale and hearty, careless, merry, and a little dashing in his air.

This evening I have spent with the Brownings, to whom I brought letters. They live in that Casa Guidi which Mrs. Browning has already immortalized by the grandest poem ever penned by woman....

Mr. and Mrs. Browning have taken up their residence in Florence, a place in every way congenial to them. I know that thousands of her unknown friends across the water will rejoice to hear that the health of Mrs. Browning improves with every year spent in Italy. Yet she is still very delicate,—but a frail flower, ceaselessly requiring all the sheltering and fostering care, all the wealth and watchfulness of love, which is round about her....

[Pg 22]

Yesterday I saw, for the first time, the grand, antique group of Niobe and her children. Of these wonderful figures, by far the most noble and pathetic are those of the mother and the young daughter she is seeking to shield. Oh, the proud anguish, the wild, hopeless, maternal agony, of that face haunts me, and will haunt me forever.

I afterwards saw the Mercury of John of Bologna,—a marvel of beauty, grace, and lightness. We visited the treasure-room of the Pitti palace, and saw all the Grand Duke’s plate, among which are several magnificent articles by Benvenuto Cellini. In the evening we drove in the Cascine, and to the Hill of Bellosguardo, from whence we had an enchanting view of Florence and the Val d’Arno,—and so the day ended. To-day we have made the tour of the churches. In the solemn old cathedral, whose wonderful dome was the admiration and study of Michael Angelo, there were extraordinary religious ceremonies, on the occasion of some great festa. Some archbishop or other officiated in very gorgeous robes, of course,—in capital condition, and looking indolent, proud, and stupid, as another matter of course. The court came in great state and pomp, with much trumpeting and beating of the drum. The Grand Duke was accompanied by the Grand Duchess and his household, by the Guardia Nobile, and by numerous ladies and gentlemen of high rank, all in full dress. Those ball costumes of the courtly dames—gay silks and lace, diamonds, flowers, and plumes—looked strange enough after the uniform and decent sombreness of the dress prescribed for the “functions” of St. Peter’s.

The Grand Duke is a man of ordinary size, and appears not far from seventy years of age, though it is said he is hardly sixty. His hair and moustaches are nearly white, and he wears the white coat of the Austrian uniform, and so looks more miller-like than majestic. There was a[Pg 23] sort of sullen sadness in his air, which I confess I was rather gratified to remark,—remembering all the treachery of the past, and beholding all the degradation of the present. The Grand Duchess is a dignified-looking woman enough, but the ladies in attendance on her to-day dazzled alone with their diamonds.

After hearing some fine music, we went to the Santa Croce, the Westminster Abbey of Florence, where are the tombs of its most illustrious dead. Of these, the noblest is that of Michael Angelo, and the poorest, yet more pretentious, that of Dante. Canova has here a monument to Alfieri, which is affected and sentimental, like nearly all his works; and the tombs of Galileo and Machiavelli are anything but pleasing and imposing. Infinitely better were the most simple slabs than such pompous piles.

At the San Lorenzo we saw that marvellous mausoleum, the Medicean Chapel,—the richest yet plainest structure of the kind in the world. There is here a peculiar assumption and ostentation of simplicity,—your eye, accustomed to the crowded ornament and vivid gorgeousness of ordinary princely chapels, is shocked and cheated at the first glance by the sombre magnificence, the sumptuous bareness, of this singular structure; but right soon is disappointment changed to admiration and amazement, as you see that all those lofty walls, from floor to roof, are composed of the most rare and beautiful marbles and precious stones, wrought into exquisite mosaics. Then you see the stupendous and beautiful cenotaphs, and the solemn dark statues of the Medici, and, at length, fully realize all their royal waste of wealth over this mausoleum, all their princely pomp of death.

In the Sagrestia Nuova, built by Michael Angelo, are the statues of Lorenzo and Julian de Medici, with their attendant groups, the Morn and Night, Evening and Day, and[Pg 24] the Virgin and Child,—surely the noblest works of that mighty artist. I instinctively bowed in awe before the gloomy grandeur of Lorenzo; and there was something in his still frown which shook my soul more than the warlike air and almost startling action of Julian. The unfinished group of the Virgin and Child has much tenderness and sweetness with all its force and grandeur; but, as a general thing, I must think that Michael Angelo’s female figures are far more remarkable for gigantic proportions and muscular development than for grace, beauty, or any fine spiritual character. This Virgin is majestic almost to sublimity, yet truly gentle, lovable, divinely maternal....

In what was the refectory of an old monastery, but which was afterwards used as a carriage-house, has been found, within a few years past, a noble fresco by Raphael,—a Last Supper. This we went to see, and I felt it to be one of the purest and most touching creations of that angelic painter. In this picture, the “beloved disciple” seems to have fallen asleep on the breast of the Master, and to have bowed his head lower and lower, till it lies upon the table, while the hand of Jesus is laid caressingly upon his shoulder. There is something so exquisitely sweet and sad, so divinely pitiful, yet humanely tender, in the action, that the very memory of it blinds my eyes with tears.

After dinner we drove in the Cascine, where we met all the world. As it was an exceedingly beautiful sunset, and the evening of a festa, the band continued to play, and the brilliant crowd remained long. I revelled in the delicious air and the cheerful scene as fully as was possible, with the intrusive consciousness that I was breathing the one and beholding the other for the last time—probably forever—certainly for many years.

Mrs. H. and I here took leave of a brace of charming[Pg 25] young nobles, in whom, I fear, we had become too deeply interested. These were two beautiful Russian boys, brothers, of the ages of nine and seven, with whom we voyaged on the Mediterranean and formed an acquaintance which has been continued in Florence. In all my life I never saw such enchanting little fellows,—simple, natural, frank, and free, yet perfect gentlemen in air and expression, displaying, with the utmost ease, grace and polish of manner, tact, wit, and savoir-faire truly astonishing. They always came to our carriage at the Cascine, and, lounging on the steps, chatted to us in French between the pieces of music. To-night, as the youngest was describing to me, very graphically, the different countries through which he had travelled and the cities which he had visited, I advised him to go next to England, and assured him that he would be greatly interested and amused by the sights and pleasures of London. With the slightest possible shrug, he replied, “Oui, madame, c’est une grande ville, sans doute; mais pour tous les amusements il n’y a qu’une ville dans le monde,—c’est Paris.” ...

As I looked back upon Florence for the last time, when I could distinguish only the battlemented Palazzo Vecchio, with its fine old tower, and that incomparable group, the Duomo, the Campanile, and the Baptistery, and a slender, shining line, which I knew for the Arno, I suddenly felt my sight struggling through tears,—real hearty tears. Ah, Bella Firenze, I went from you reluctantly, almost rebelliously; I grieved to leave those glorious galleries, through which I seemed to have merely run; I grieved to leave the Cascine, with its delicious drives and walks, its music and gayety; but I “sorrowed most of all” at parting, so soon, with my friends the Brownings. My friends, how rich I feel in being able to write these words!

I think I must venture to say a little more of them, as,[Pg 26] after writing of my first evening at Casa Guidi, I was so happy as to enjoy much of their society. Robert Browning is a brilliant talker, and more—a pleasant, suggestive conversationist and a sympathetic listener. He has a fine humor, a keen sense of the ridiculous, which he indulges, at times, with the hearty abandon of a boy. In the gentle stream of Elizabeth Browning’s familiar talk shine deep and soft the high thoughts and star-bright imaginations of her rare poetic nature. The two have oneness of spirit, with distinct individuality; they are mated, not merged together.

In the atmosphere of so much learning and genius, you naturally expect to perceive some mustiness of old folios, some uncomfortable brooding of solemn thought; to feel about you somewhat of the stretch and struggle of grand aspiration and noble effort, or the exhausted stillness of a brief suspension of the “toil divine.” But in this household all is simple, cheerful, and reposeful; here is neither lore nor logic to appall one; here is not enough din of mental machinery to drown the faintest heart-throb; here one breathes freely, acts naturally, and speaks honestly.


THE LAKE REGION OF ITALY.

ROBERT A. McLEOD.

[The lakes of northern Italy have a world-wide fame, alike for their natural beauty and for the charms of architecture and scenic art which surround them. We give here a brief description of these renowned places of pilgrimage for lovers of the beautiful.]

It was towards the end of last October that I strolled away from my occupations in the French capital to spend a fortnight on the Italian lakes. Of the many routes which[Pg 27] from time immemorial have served for the invasion of Italy by the barbarian and the tourist, I chose on this occasion the Brenner. Apart from the pleasing views it offers, this Alpine pass is interesting as being the first over which the Romans ventured to lead their legions, and the first upon which a railway was constructed. I halted at Trent, and it was several days before I could free myself from the charm of the Etruscan city and plan my departure.

One afternoon I was making inquiries at the office of the diligence which runs to Riva on the Lake of Garda, when a newly-married German couple offered to share with me a private carriage which they had just hired for the same journey. I accepted at once, and in an hour we were off. The sober gray suit trimmed with green in which Hans was attired contrasted oddly with the brilliant purple travelling-dress of his fair-haired Gretchen. I wondered at first that they should have been willing to embarrass themselves with a stranger, until I perceived that my presence was no hinderance at all to their demonstrations of affection. We climbed up by a steep and winding road to a narrow defile which the impetuous Vella almost fills. One day, when St. Vigilius was too much pressed for time to walk over the mountain, he wrenched it apart and made this passage. The imprint of his holy hand is still to be seen on the rock. Passing under the cyclopean eyes of scores of Austrian cannon which now defend this important military position, we began to descend the valley of the Sarca. It is a wild region, where every hamlet has a ruined castle and a legend of knight or robber, saint or fairy. The picturesque remains of the Madruzzo Castle bring to mind the celebrated portraits which Titian painted of members of this noble family. The artist’s colors have survived the last of a long line, and will doubtless outlive as well the crumbling stones of their stronghold. As we[Pg 28] skirted the little Lake of Dobling its still waters reflected rocks and trees, sky and mountain, in an enchanting manner.

“Lovely!” I exclaimed.

“Lovely!” echoed Gretchen, without taking her eyes off Hans.

“Lovely!” answered Hans, still watching the beautiful things reflected in her eyes.

After crossing the rapid Sarca and traversing a desolate tract where rocks of every size, fallen from the overhanging mountain, lie strewn about in chaotic confusion, we reached Arco. This sunny village nestles at the foot of an immense detached boulder whose dizzy summit is crowned by medićval battlements and towers. Home fit only for birds of prey, this castle was long the nest of a family of robbers. Scarcely had we lost in the distance this greatest wonder of the valley when a sharp turn of the road brought Riva and the Lake of Garda full in view. It was a prospect of singular beauty. The sun had already set except on the highest peaks, and a part of the lake was wrapped in purple shadows. Another part, however, was as clear and light as the sky above it, and all aglow with the images of crimson and orange-tinted clouds. A shrill cry—of delight, I thought—burst from Gretchen’s lips. I was mistaken. Hans had pulled off too rudely a ring from her finger, and the fair one was in tears....

ST. GOTTHARD RAILWAY ST. GOTTHARD RAILWAY (Viaduct and Tunnel)

[Pg 29]

In the afternoon I take the famous walk to the Ponale waterfall. The road thither ascends continually. It has been skilfully led along the ledges of a precipitous cliff which borders the lake to the west of Riva, and occasionally pierces the mountain by short tunnels. After passing through the third tunnel I come to a wooden bridge, under which the Ponale dashes just before taking its final leap into the lake. The frail structure on which I stand trembles and is wet with spray, and the air is full of the roar and gurgle of the waters. But for me the main charm of the walk is not the sight of this noisy torrent, but the superb view of Riva that I get on my way back upon issuing from one of the tunnels. The eye, accustomed for a moment to the darkness, is all the more sensitive to the rich soft light which bathes the mountains and the town. A gentle breeze ripples the lake, and the brightly-painted houses that fringe the beach are seen indistinctly in the water, where they look like a line of waving banners. Half a dozen steeples and bell-towers rise gracefully from among the roofs, and their presence explains the surprising frequency with which the hours of the night are struck. From this height I can distinguish the low walls which surround the town and compress its four thousand inhabitants into the area of a small quadrilateral. But Riva, though still fortified, has a thorough look of peaceful commercial prosperity, and has quite laid aside the warlike air she wore in the Middle Ages. In those troubled times this town saw countless wars and sustained many sieges; belonged now to Venice, now to Milan, now to Austria; and at times was independent and able to defy even a bull of the pope or a rescript of the emperor....

Long before daybreak the next morning the great red and green eyes of two small steamers are looking around for passengers, and their whistles screeching that it is time to get up. I have chosen the boat which skirts the western bank. It starts an hour later than the other, but it is not yet sunrise when we push off. The after-deck is thinly peopled, chiefly by tourists, but the fore-deck, where the seats are cheaper, is crowded. We pass by the tumbling and roaring Ponale, and before many minutes we cross the invisible boundary-line between Austria and Italy. The motion of the boat is hardly felt, for we are sailing with a[Pg 30] strong current. The high peaks to the north have already caught the first rays of the sun: masses of white vapor which have been sleeping in the mountain-hollows are roused up and put on a rosy tint. The sky is without a cloud, the lake without a ripple: we seem to be floating in mid-air.

Limone, the first stopping-place, is quite given up to the culture of the fruit from which it takes its name. A row of cypresses gives a gloomy air to the village and awakens a melancholy recollection. It was here that, in 1810, Andreas Hofer, the Tyrolese patriot, was arrested by order of Napoleon. A boat conveyed him to the prison of Peschiera, and he was soon afterwards shot in the citadel of Mantua.

We next stop before Tremosine, a village perched high up on a rock, and to which no visible road leads. On the other side of the lake, which is here narrow, the white houses of Malcesine cluster around the base of an imposing castle. This stronghold of the Middle Ages, one of the few in this neighborhood which Time has not been suffered to destroy, was built by Charlemagne, and was formerly the boundary between Austria and the Venetian territory; but it is chiefly interesting from an adventure which here befell Goethe. He had sat down in the court-yard, and was sketching one of the quaint old towers, when the crowd that had gathered around him, taking him for a spy, fell on him, tore his drawings to pieces and sent for the authorities to arrest him. Fortunately, there was in the village a man who had worked in Frankfort and knew the poet by sight, and through his influence Goethe was set free.

[From Lake Garda the traveller proceeded to the more famous Lake Como, passing localities where songful Catullus dwelt, and Virgil and Dante loved to visit.]

[Pg 31]

On the map the Lake of Como looks like an inverted and somewhat irregular Y, or, still more, like a child’s first attempt to draw a man, who without arms and with unequal legs is running off to the left. Just at the moment his picture is taken he has one foot on Lecco and the other on the town of Como. The hilly district between the two southern branches of the lake is known as the Brianza, and is noted for its bracing air, its fertile soil, and the coolness of its springs. The Brianza ends at the middle of the lake in a dolomite promontory several hundred feet high, on whose western slope lies the village of Bellaggio. This point commands the finest views in every direction: it is near the most interesting of those villas which are open to the public, and it abounds in good hotels. To visit Bellaggio is therefore the aim of every tourist who passes this way. My journey thither it is best to pass over in silence, for I see nothing, and what I feel is indescribable. I am shut up during a furious storm of wind and rain in the cabin of a little steamer which is as nervous and uneasy as if on the Atlantic. I am told, however, that in this part of the lake the banks are lofty and steep, and frequently barren, and that there are marble-quarries to be seen, and cascades and houses and villages crowning the cliffs.

On arriving at Bellaggio, I take lodging in the Villa Serbelloni, one of the many magnificent residences which poverty has induced the Italian nobles to put into the hands of hotel-keepers. The house stands high up on the very end of the promontory, and adjoining it is an extensive park, on which the ruins of a robber’s castle look down. The panorama which on a fine day spreads itself out before one who walks in these grounds is of singular beauty. The northern arm of the lake, wider and more regular than the others, opens up a long vista of headlands and bays[Pg 32] and red-roofed villages as far as where Domaso peeps out from a grove of giant elms. Beyond, the view is bounded by the snow-covered Alps. Close at hand, near Varenna, the Fiume di Latte, a milk-white waterfall, leaps down from a height of a thousand feet. Towards Lecco huge walls of barren rock arise and wrap everything near them in sombre shadows. Towards Como the tranquil water is shut in by hills and low mountains, whose flowing lines blend gracefully together. Some of these slopes are dark with pines, some are gray with the olive, some are garlanded with vines which hang from tree to tree, while others are clothed in a rich green foliage, amid which glistens the golden fruit of the orange and the lemon. The banks are lined with bright gardens and noble parks and villas, whose lawns run down to the water’s edge and are adorned with fountains, statues, masses of brilliant flowers and clumps of tall trees. Above is a sky of Italian blue, and below is a crystal mirror in which every charm of the landscape is repeated. The impression made by all this loveliness is increased by the air of happiness that pervades the spot. It is the haunt of the rich, the gay, the newly-married: music and song, laughter and mirthful talk, are the most familiar sounds. The smile of Nature seems here to warm men’s hearts and drive away the cares they have brought with them.

It is on this site that Pliny the Younger is believed to have had the villa which he called Cothurnus or “Tragedy.” The present building is several centuries old. Tradition relates that a certain countess, one of its first occupants, had a habit of throwing her lovers down the cliff when she was tired of them. Making this delightful abode my head-quarters, I spend a week, partly in agreeable sight-seeing and partly in still more agreeable idleness. I visit villas, towers, fossil-beds, and waterfalls,—in short, everything[Pg 33] interesting and accessible,—now going on foot, now borne from point to point in one of the sharp-prowed row-boats which are in use here, and now taking the steamer up to Colico or down to Como and back....

Across the lake from here is the Villa Carlotta, called after its former owner, the princess Charlotte of Prussia. Stepping out of his boat, the visitor ascends the marble stairs which lead up from the shore. After a few steps across the garden he reaches the villa, passes through a porch fragrant with jasmine, and is at once ushered into a small room where are some of the finest works of modern sculpture. Canova’s Mars and Venus and Palamedes are here, and they are most admirable, but they are surpassed in charm by the famous group in which Psyche is reclining and Cupid bending fondly over her. The best piece of the collection is the frieze that runs round the room. It is from the chisel of Thorwaldsen, and represents Alexander the Great’s triumphal entry into Babylon. Full of the beauty of youth, the conqueror advances in his chariot; Victory comes to meet him; vanquished nations bring presents; while behind him follow his brave Greeks on horse and on foot, dragging along with them the prisoners and the booty. The subject was suggested by Napoleon, who intended the work for the Quirinal. It is in high relief, and in general effect resembles strongly the frieze with which Phidias encircled the Parthenon. It is a pity that these masterpieces are shown first, for after seeing them one does not fully enjoy the statues and paintings in the other rooms.

Two hours may be delightfully spent in making the journey by steamboat from Bellaggio to Como. Here the lake is so narrow and winding that it seems to be a river. At every moment bold mountain-spurs project into the water appearing to bar all passage, and one’s curiosity is[Pg 34] continually excited to find the outlet. The views shift and change with surprising quickness, for the boat stops at a dozen little towns on the way, and for this purpose keeps crossing and recrossing from shore to shore.

[Passing next to Lake Maggiore, the traveller takes a row-boat down the latter in preference to waiting for the steamer.]

The four islands that we have passed on the way are known as the Borromean Islands, because they belong for the most part to the rich and powerful Borromeo family. The rare beauty of one of them makes it the wonder of the lake. It was towards the middle of the seventeenth century that Count Vitaliano Borromeo, finding himself the possessor of almost the whole of this island, which was then a barren rock, resolved to make it his residence, and to surround himself with gardens that should rival those of Armida. For more than twenty years architects, gardeners, sculptors, and painters labored to give material form to the count’s fancies. A spacious palace was erected on one end of the island; on the other ten lofty terraces rose one above the other, like the hanging-gardens of Babylon. The rock was covered with good soil, and the choicest trees and shrubs were brought from every land. Only evergreens, however, were admitted into this Eden, for the count would have about him no sign of winter or death. In 1671 the work was finished. The island was called Isabella, after the count’s mother,—a name which has since, by a happy corruption, become changed to Isola Bella.

It is on a sunny afternoon that I direct my bark towards the “Beautiful Island.” I look on the landing-place with respect, for it is worn by the footsteps of six generations of travellers. The interior of the palace, which I visit first, is fitted up with princely magnificence and is rich in art-treasures. Mementos of kings and queens who[Pg 35] accepted hospitality here are shown, and a bed in which Bonaparte once slept. There is a chapel where a priest daily says mass; a throne-room, as in the palaces of the Spanish grandees; and a gallery with numerous paintings. A whole suite of rooms is given up to the works of Peter Molyn, a Dutch artist, fitly nicknamed “Sir Tempest.” This erratic man, having killed his wife to marry another woman, was condemned to death. He escaped from prison, however, found an asylum here, and in return for the protection of the Borromeo of that day he adorned his walls with more than fifty landscapes and pastoral scenes.

The garden betrays the epoch at which it was laid out. Prim parterres, where masses of brilliant flowers bloom all the year round, are enclosed by walks along which orange-trees and myrtles have been bent and trimmed into whimsical patterns. There are dark and winding alleys of cedars where at every turn some surprise is planned. Here is a grotto made of shells,—there an obelisk, or a mosaic column, or a horse of bronze, or a fountain of clear water in which the attendant tritons and nymphs would doubtless disport were they not petrified into marble. There is one lovely spot where, at the middle point of a rotunda, a large statue of Hercules stands finely out against a background of dark foliage. Other Olympians keep him company and calmly eye the visitor from their painted niches. Not far from there is a venerable laurel on which Bonaparte cut the word “Battaglia” a few days before the battle of Marengo. The B is still plainly visible.

Pines and firs planted thickly along the northern side of the island defend it from cold winds. In the sunny nooks of the terraces the delicate lemon-tree bears abundant fruit and the oleander grows to a size which it attains nowhere else in Europe. The tea-plant from China, the banana from Africa, and the sugar-cane from Mississippi[Pg 36] flourish side by side; the camphor-tree distils its aromatic essence and the magnolia loads the air with perfume. The cactus and the aloe border walks over which the bamboo bends and throws its grateful shade. Turf and flowerbeds carpet each terrace, and a tapestry of ivy and flowering vines conceals the walls of the structure. From the summit a huge stone unicorn looks down upon his master’s splendid domain. He overlooks also a corner of the island where his master’s authority is not acknowledged. The small patch of land on which the Dolphin Hotel stands has for many centuries descended from father to son in a plebeian family, nor have the Borromeos ever been able to buy it. They have to endure the inn, therefore, as Frederick endured the mill at Sans-Souci and Napoleon the house he could not buy at Paris.

At last the moment comes when I must quit Stresa, not, however, before I have visited the remaining islands and other points of interest. The steamer puts off, and soon separates me from the landscape that has been my delight for three days,—the blue bay with its verdant banks, the softly-shaded hills which enclose it, the snow-covered chain of the Simplon in the background. As we approach the southern end of the lake a colossal bronze statue of San Carlo Borromeo on the summit of a hill near Arona comes into sight. From head to foot the saint measures little less than eighty feet, and the pedestal on which he stands adds to his height half as much more. His face is turned towards Arona, his native town, and one hand is extended to bless it. With my glass I descry a party of liliputian tourists engaged in examining this great Gulliver. Most of them are satisfied when they have reached the top of the pedestal and have ranged themselves in a row on one foot of the statue. Others, more daring, climb up by a ladder to the saint’s knee, where they disappear through[Pg 37] an aperture in the skirt of his robe. From this point the ascent continues inside of the statue, by means of iron bars, to the head, in which four persons can conveniently remain at once.

At Arona the railway-station and the wharf are near each other, and in a few minutes after I have landed an express-train starts and bears me away from the region of the Italian lakes. When we have passed the last houses of Arona and gained the open plain, the statue of the great Borromeo with his outstretched arm comes again for a few moments into view. Perhaps the uncertain light of evening and the jolting of the train deceive me, but I fancy that the good old saint is waving his hand in the familiar Italian way, as much as to say, “A rivederci!”


A DAY IN ROME.

BAYARD TAYLOR.

[The things worth seeing in the Eternal City are so many, and crowd so closely upon each other, that the lover of the antique finds himself almost overwhelmed by the rapid succession of striking objects and historic ruins. It would seem that little could be seen in a day’s walk among these marvels of the past, yet Taylor’s observing eyes managed to take in a long series of interesting objects, his graphic account of which is given below.]

One day’s walk through Rome,—how shall I describe it? The Capitol, the Forum, St. Peter’s, the Coliseum,—what few hours’ ramble ever took in places so hallowed by poetry, history, and art? It was a golden leaf in my calendar of life. In thinking over it now, and drawing out the threads of recollection from the varied woof of thought I have woven to-day, I almost wonder how I dared so much[Pg 38] at once; but within reach of them all, how was it possible to wait? Let me give a sketch of our day’s ramble.

Hearing that it was better to visit the ruins by evening or moonlight (alas! there is no moon now) we started out to hunt St. Peter’s. Going in the direction of the Corso, we passed the ruined front of the magnificent Temple of Antoninus, now used as the Papal Custom-House. We turned to the right on entering the Corso, expecting to have a view of the city from the hill at its southern end. It is a magnificent street, lined with palaces and splendid edifices of every kind, and always filled with crowds of carriages and people. On leaving it, however, we became bewildered among the narrow streets, passed through a market of vegetables, crowded with beggars and contadini, threaded many by-ways between dark old buildings, saw one or two antique fountains and many modern churches, and finally arrived at a hill.

We ascended many steps, and then descending a little towards the other side, saw suddenly below us the Roman Forum! I knew it at once; and those three Corinthian columns that stood near us, what could they be but the remains of the temple of Jupiter Stator? We stood on the Capitoline Hill; at the foot was the Arch of Septimius Severus, brown with age and shattered; near it stood the majestic front of the Temple of Fortune, its pillars of polished granite glistening in the sun as if they had been erected yesterday, while on the left the rank grass was waving from the arches and mighty walls of the palace of the Cćsars! In front ruin upon ruin lined the way for half a mile, where the Coliseum towered grandly through the blue morning mist, at the base of the Esquiline Hill!

ARCH OF TITUS, ROME ARCH OF TITUS, ROME

Good heavens, what a scene! Grandeur such as the world never saw once rose through that blue atmosphere; splendor inconceivable, the spoils of a world, the triumphs [Pg 39] of a thousand armies had passed over that earth; minds which for ages moved the ancient world had thought there, and words of power and glory from the lips of immortal men had been syllabled on that hallowed air. To call back all this on the very spot, while the wreck of what once was rose mouldering and desolate around, aroused a sublimity of thought and feeling too powerful for words.

Returning at hazard through the streets, we came suddenly upon the Column of Trajan, standing in an excavated square below the level of the city, amid a number of broken granite columns, which formed part of the Forum dedicated to him by Rome after the conquest of Dacia. The column is one hundred and thirty-two feet high, and entirely covered with bas reliefs representing his victories, winding about it in a spiral line to the top. The number of figures is computed at two thousand five hundred, and they were of such excellence that Raphael used many of them for his models. They are now much defaced, and the column is surmounted by a statue of some saint. The inscription on the pedestal has been erased, and the name of Sixtus V. substituted. Nothing can exceed the ridiculous vanity of the old popes in thus mutilating the finest monuments of ancient art. You cannot look upon any relic of antiquity in Rome but your eyes are assailed by the words “Pontifex Maximus,” in staring modern letters. Even the magnificent bronzes of the Pantheon were stripped to make the baldachin under the dome of St. Peter’s.

Finding our way back again, we took a fresh start, happily in the right direction, and after walking some time, came out on the Tiber, at the Bridge of St. Angelo. The river rolled below in his muddy glory, and in front, on the opposite bank, stood “the pile which Hadrian reared on high,” now the Castle of St. Angelo. Knowing that St.[Pg 40] Peter’s was to be seen from this bridge. I looked about in search of it. There was only one dome in sight, large and of beautiful proportions. I said at once, “Surely that cannot be St. Peter’s!” On looking again, however, I saw the top of a massive range of building near it, which corresponded so nearly with the pictures of the Vatican, that I was unwillingly forced to believe the mighty dome was really before me. I recognized it as one of those we saw from the Capitol, but it appeared so much smaller when viewed from a greater distance that I was quite deceived. On considering that we were still three-fourths of a mile from it, and that we could see its minutest parts distinctly, the illusion was explained.

Going directly down the Borgo Vecchio towards it, it seemed a long time before we arrived at the square of St. Peter’s; when at length we stood in front, with the majestic colonnade sweeping around, the fountains on each side sending up their showers of silvery spray, the mighty obelisk of Egyptian granite piercing the sky, and beyond, the great front and dome of the Cathedral, I confessed my unmingled admiration. It recalled to my mind the grandeur of ancient Rome, and mighty as her edifices must have been, I doubt if there were many views more overpowering than this. The facade of St. Peter’s seemed close to us, but it was a third of a mile distant, and the people ascending the steps dwindled to pigmies.

I passed the obelisk, went up the long ascent, crossed the portico, pushed aside the heavy leathern curtain at the entrance, and stood in the great nave. I need not describe my feelings at the sight, but I will tell the dimensions, and you may then fancy what they were. Before me was a marble plain six hundred feet long, and under the cross four hundred and seventeen feet wide! One hundred and fifty feet above sprang a glorious arch, dazzling with inlaid[Pg 41] gold, and in the centre of the cross there were four hundred feet of air between me and the top of the dome! The sunbeam stealing through the lofty window at one end of the transept made a bar of light on the blue air, hazy with incense, one-tenth of a mile long before it fell on the mosaics and gilded shrines of the other extremity. The grand cupola alone, including lantern and cross, is two hundred and eighty-five feet high, or sixty feet higher than the Bunker Hill Monument, and the four immense pillars on which it rests are each one hundred and thirty-seven feet in circumference. It seems as if human art had outdone itself in producing this temple,—the grandest which the world ever erected for the worship of the Living God! The awe felt in looking up at the giant arch of marble and gold did not humble me; on the contrary, I felt exalted, ennobled,—beings in the form I wore planned the glorious edifice, and it seemed that in godlike power and perseverance they were indeed but a “little lower than the angels.” I felt that, if fallen, my race was still mighty and immortal.

The Vatican is only open twice a week, on days which are not festas; most fortunately, to-day happened to be one of these, and we took a run through its endless halls. The extent and magnificence of the gallery of sculpture is perfectly amazing. The halls, which are filled to overflowing with the finest works of ancient art, would, if placed side by side, make a row more than two miles in length! You enter at once into a hall of marble, with a magnificent arched ceiling, a third of a mile long; the sides are covered for a great distance with inscriptions of every kind, divided into compartments according to the era of the empire to which they refer. One which I examined appeared to be a kind of index of the roads in Italy, with the towns on them; and we could decipher on that time-worn block the very route I had followed from Florence hither.

[Pg 42]

Then came the statues, and here I am bewildered how to describe them. Hundreds upon hundreds of figures,—statues of citizens, generals, emperors, and gods; fauns, satyrs, and nymphs, born of the loftiest dreams of grace; fauns on whose faces shone the very soul of humor, and heroes and divinities with an air of majesty worthy the “land of lost gods and godlike men!”

I am lost in astonishment at the perfection of art attained by the Greeks and Romans. There is scarcely a fourth of the beauty that has ever met my eye which is not to be found in this gallery. I should almost despair of such another blaze of glory on the world were it not for my devout belief that what has been done may be done again, and had I not faith that the dawn in which we live will bring another day equally glorious. And why should not America with the experience and added wisdom which three thousand years have slowly yielded to the old world, joined to the giant energy of her youth and freedom, re-bestow on the world the divine creations of art? Let Powers answer!

But let us step on to the hemicycle of the Belvedere, and view some works greater than any we have yet seen or even imagined. The adjoining gallery is filled with masterpieces of sculpture, but we will keep our eyes unwearied and merely glance along the rows. At length we reach a circular court with a fountain flinging up its waters in the centre. Before us is an open cabinet; there is a beautiful manly form within, but you would not for an instant take it for the Apollo. By the Gorgon head it holds aloft we recognize Canova’s Perseus,—he has copied the form and attitude of the Apollo, but he could not breathe into it the same warming fire. It seemed to me particularly lifeless, and I greatly preferred his Boxers, who stand on either side of it. One, who has drawn back in the attitude of striking, looks as if he could fell an ox with a single blow[Pg 43] of his powerful arm. The other is a more lithe and agile figure, and there is a quick fire in his countenance which might overbalance the massive strength of his opponent.

Another cabinet,—this is the far-famed Antinous. A countenance of perfect Grecian beauty, with a form such as we would imagine for one of Homer’s heroes. His features are in repose, and there is something in their calm, settled expression strikingly like life.

Now we look on a scene of the deepest physical agony. Mark how every muscle of old Laocoon’s body is distended to the utmost in the mighty struggle! What intensity of pain in the quivering distorted features! Every nerve which despair can call into action is excited in one giant effort, and a scream of anguish seems first to have quivered on those marble lips. The serpents have rolled their strangling coils around father and sons, but terror has taken away the strength of the latter, and they make but feeble resistance. After looking with indifference on the many casts of this group, I was the more moved by the magnificent original. It deserves all the admiration that has been heaped upon it.

I absolutely trembled on approaching the cabinet of the Apollo. I had built up in fancy a glorious ideal, drawn from all that bards have sung or artists have rhapsodized about its divine beauty,—I feared disappointment,—I dreaded to have my ideal displaced and my faith in the power of human genius overthrown by a form less perfect. However, with a feeling of desperate excitement I entered and looked upon it.

Now, what shall I say of it? How make you comprehend its immortal beauty? To what shall I liken its glorious perfection of form, or the fire that imbues the cold marble with the soul of a god? Not with sculpture, for it stands alone and above all other works of art,—nor with[Pg 44] men, for it has a majesty more than human. I gazed on it, lost in wonder and joy,—joy that I could at last take into my mind a faultless ideal of godlike, exalted manhood. The figure appears actually to possess a spirit, and I looked on it not as on a piece of marble but a being of loftier mould, and half expected to see him step forward when the arrow reached its mark. I would give worlds to feel one moment the sculptor’s mental triumph when his work was completed; that one exulting thrill must have repaid him for every ill he might have suffered on earth! With what divine inspiration has he wrought its faultless lines! There is a spirit in every limb which mere toil could not have given. It must have been caught in those lofty moments

“When each conception was a heavenly guest—
A ray of immortality—and stood,
Star-like, around, until they gathered to a god?”

We ran through a series of halls, roofed with golden stars on a deep blue midnight sky, and filled with porphyry vases, black marble gods, and mummies. Some of the statues shone with the matchless polish they had received from a Theban artisan before Athens was founded, and are, apparently, as fresh and perfect as when looked upon by the vassals of Sesostris. Notwithstanding their stiff, rough-hewn limbs, there were some figures of great beauty, and they gave me a much higher idea of Egyptian sculpture. In an adjoining hall, containing colossal busts of the gods, is a vase forty-one feet in circumference, of one solid block of red porphyry.

The “Transfiguration” is truly called the first picture in the world. The same glow of inspiration which created the Belvedere must have been required to paint the Saviour’s aerial form. The three figures hover above the earth in a[Pg 45] blaze of glory, seemingly independent of all material laws. The terrified Apostles on the mount, and the wondering group below, correspond in the grandeur of their expression to the awe and majesty of the scene. The only blemish in the sublime perfection of the picture is the introduction of the two small figures on the left hand, who, by the bye, were Cardinals, inserted there by command. Some travellers say the color is all lost, but I was agreeably surprised to find it well preserved. It is, undoubtedly, somewhat imperfect in this respect, as Raphael died before it was entirely finished; but “take it all in all,” you may search the world in vain to find its equal.

[This ended the day’s tour of observation. On a succeeding day the traveller saw as many objects of interest; among them the graves of Shelley and Keats. These, however, we must pass by, and describe his visit to the ruins of the great Roman amphitheatre.]

Amid the excitement of continually changing scenes I have forgotten to mention our first visit to the Coliseum. The day after our arrival we set out with two English friends to see it by sunset. Passing by the glorious fountain of Trevi, we made our way to the Forum, and from thence took the road to the Coliseum, lined on both sides with remains of splendid edifices. The grass-grown ruins of the palace of the Cćsars stretched along on our right; on our left we passed in succession the granite front of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the three grand arches of the Temple of Peace, and the ruins of the Temple of Venus and Rome. We went under the ruined triumphal arch of Titus, with broken friezes representing the taking of Jerusalem, and the mighty walls of the Coliseum gradually rose before us. They grew in grandeur as we approached them, and when at length we stood in the centre, with the shattered arches and grassy walls rising above[Pg 46] and beyond one another far around us, the red light of sunset giving them a soft and melancholy beauty, I was fain to confess that another form of grandeur had entered my mind of which before I knew not.

A majesty like that of nature clothes this wonderful edifice. Walls rise above walls, and arches above arches, from every side of the grand arena, like a sweep of craggy pinnacled mountains around an oval lake. The two outer circles have almost entirely disappeared, torn away by the rapacious nobles of Rome, during the middle ages, to build their palaces. When entire and filled with its hundred thousand spectators, it must have exceeded any pageant which the world can now produce. No wonder it was said,—

“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;
When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls, the world!”

—a prediction which time has not verified. The world is now going forward prouder than ever, and though we thank Rome for the legacy she has left us, we would not wish the dust of her ruin to cumber our path....

Next to the Coliseum, the baths of Caracalla are the grandest remains at Rome. The building is a thousand feet square, and its massive walls look as if built by a race of giants. These Titan remains are covered with green shrubbery, and long trailing vines sweep over the cornice and wave down like tresses from the architrave and arch. In some of its grand halls the mosaic pavement is yet entire. The excavations are still carried on. From the number of statues already found, this would seem to have been one of the most gorgeous edifices of the olden time.

THE FAMOUS BRIDGE OF THE RIALTO, VENICE THE FAMOUS BRIDGE OF THE RIALTO, VENICE

[Pg 47]

I have been now several days loitering and sketching among the ruins, and I feel as if I could willingly wander for months beside these mournful relics, and draw inspiration from the lofty yet melancholy lore they teach. There is a spirit haunting them real and undoubted. Every shattered column, every broken arch and mouldering wall, but calls up more vividly to mind the glory that has passed away. Each lonely pillar stands as proudly as if it still helped to bear up a great and glorious temple, and the air seems scarcely to have ceased vibrating with the clarions that heralded a conqueror’s triumph....

In Rome there is no need that the imagination be excited to call up thrilling emotion or poetic revery; they are forced on the mind by the sublime spirit of the scene. The roused bard might here pour forth his thoughts in the wildest climaces, and I could believe he felt it all. This is like the Italy of my dreams,—that golden realm whose image has been nearly chased away by the earthly reality. I expected to find a land of light and beauty, where every step crushed a flower or displaced a sunbeam; where every air was poetic inspiration, and whose every scene filled the soul with romantic feelings. Nothing is left of my picture but the far-off mountains, robed in the sapphire veil of the Ausonian air, and these ruins, amid whose fallen glory sits triumphant the spirit of ancient song.

I have seen the flush of morn and eve rest on the Coliseum; I have seen the noonday sky framed in its broken loop-holes, like plates of polished sapphire; and last night, as the moon has grown into the zenith, I went to view it with her. Around the Forum all was silent and spectral; a sentinel challenged us at the Arch of Titus, under which we passed, and along the Cćsars’ wall, which lay in shadow. Dead stillness brooded around the Coliseum; the pale, silvery lustre streamed through its arches and over the grassy walls, giving them a look of shadowy grandeur which day could not bestow. The scene will remain fresh in my memory forever.


[Pg 48]

POMPEII AND ITS DESTROYER.

ALFRED E. LEE.

[The ruins of Pompeii perhaps surpass in general interest any other of the exhumed remains of man’s ancient industry, and the story of them has been very frequently told. For a good general description we go to the “European Days and Ways” of Alfred E. Lee, who also deals with Vesuvius as well as with its victim. He tells us the whole history of the excavation, of which we can but say here that up to 1860 not more than one-third of the town was excavated, and that in 1863 the archćologist Fiorelli was appointed to supervise the work, which has gone on steadily since.]

The ancient Pompeiians who gazed upon and admired the beauteous groves and pastures which covered the symmetrical cone up to the very rim of its smokeless, silent crater must have had but a faint idea of the real nature of their terrible neighbor. But in the year 63 they received a most impressive and—had it been heeded—timely warning of what they were to expect. A fearful earthquake shook down their temples, colonnades, and dwellings, giving awful premonition of the reawakening of the stupendous forces of nature, which had been slumbering for centuries. The city was a wreck, but it was immediately rebuilt, and was greatly improved by conforming its architecture more nearly than before to the style of imperial Rome. A reaction from the depressing effects of disaster was at high tide, and Pompeii was doubtless more splendid and more gay than ever, when, on the 24th of August, 79, it was overtaken by the supreme catastrophe, the details of which, in the absence of authentic narrative, have been supplied by the romance of Bulwer. First came a dense shower of ashes, which covered the town to the depth of[Pg 49] three feet, impelling most of its inhabitants to fly from its precincts. This was followed by a delusive lull, during which many of the fugitives returned to seek their valuables, and perhaps to care for the sick and infirm who could not be readily removed. But directly the shower of ashes was succeeded by a heavy rain of red-hot cinders and pumice, called rapilii, from which there was no escape. This covered the town with another stratum, seven to eight feet thick, burning the wooden upper stories from the houses, and extinguishing the last vestige of animal life. On top of this the remorseless Cyclops shook down more showers of ashes and then fiery rapilii, until the superincumbent mass attained an average thickness of twenty feet, and the beautiful city of the Sarno was literally smothered,—buried alive, with scarcely a single trace of it above ground. For nearly seventeen centuries Pompeii, except as a name and memory, disappeared from history. In ancient times its ruins were ransacked, partly by the survivors of its wreck, in recovering their valuables and the dead bodies of their friends, and partly in the search for decorative materials with which to embellish temples and other buildings. In this way the city was stripped of nearly everything easily accessible which was worth carrying away. Subsequent Vesuvian eruptions covered it still more deeply, vegetation grew over it, and a village bearing its name rose upon the ground which covered its ancient site. During the Middle Ages the place was entirely unknown. In 1592 a subterranean aqueduct, which is in use to this day, was carried under it without leading to its discovery. In 1748 some statues and bronze utensils, discovered by a peasant, attracted the attention of the reigning king of Naples and Sicily, Charles III., who caused excavations to be made. At that time the theatre, amphitheatre, and other portions of the buried town were brought to light,[Pg 50] discoveries which caused great surprise and enthusiasm throughout the civilized world....

The excavated portion of the city, together with its museum and library, are under the care of a corps of government guards, who, for a European wonder, are forbidden to accept gratuities. Quite agreeably to me, my visit fell on a holiday, when the guides were off duty, so that I was permitted to wander at will among the silent streets, unembarrassed by long and apocryphal verbal explanations. A previous visit had familiarized me with the principal streets, buildings, and localities, so that I had no difficulty in finding my way. Besides a considerable region which had been excavated since my first visit, eighteen months before, there were some important buildings which I had not then been able to inspect. Among these was the Villa Diomed, so conspicuous in Bulwer’s romance. This villa—more properly speaking, the house of M. Arrius Diomedes—was one of the largest and most splendid of the Pompeiian residences, and, in addition to the usual conveniences and luxuries of an elegant mansion of that day, enclosed an interior court, or garden, one hundred and seven feet square, open to the sky, surrounded by a colonnade, and embellished by a central fountain. Beneath this court, on three sides, are long vaulted chambers, reached by stair-ways, and lighted by narrow apertures in the upper pavement. These cellars, now entirely cleared of rubbish, are believed to have been used in the summer season as family promenades. “In them,” says Bulwer, “twenty skeletons (two of them babes, embracing) were discovered in one spot by the door, covered by a fine ashen dust that had evidently been slowly wafted through the apertures until it had filled the whole space. There were jewels and coins, and candelabra for unavailing light, and wine, hardened in the amphorć, for a prolongation of agonized[Pg 51] life. The sand, consolidated by damps, had taken the forms of the skeletons as in a cast, and the traveller may yet see the impression of a female neck and bosom, of young and round proportions, the trace of the fated Julia! It seems to the inquirer as if the air had been gradually changed into a sulphurous vapor; the inmates of the vaults had rushed to the door and found it closed and blocked up by the scorić without, and in their attempts to force it had been suffocated with the atmosphere. In the garden was found a skeleton with a key by its bony hand, and near it a bag of coins. This is believed to have been the master of the house, the unfortunate Diomed, who had probably sought to escape by the garden, and been destroyed either by the vapors or some fragment of stone. Beside some silver vases lay another skeleton, probably a slave.” The impression of a girl’s breast in the ashes, which Bulwer’s fancy represents as the sole remaining trace of one of his heroines, is still preserved in the museum at Naples, and is as shapely and perfect as if the flesh of the fair young victim had been moulded but yesterday instead of eighteen hundred years ago. The bodies found in the Diomedan corridors had their heads wrapped up, and were half covered by the fine infiltrated ashes, in which was preserved even the imprint of the chemises worn by the women and children. The bodies had decayed, like those embedded in other parts of the town, but their forms had been moulded in the ashes with wonderful precision and distinctness.

In many cases such cavities, after the skeletons contained in them had been carefully removed, were filled with liquid plaster, which produced an accurate and durable image of the imprinted form. The museum at Pompeii contains a collection of such images, which impress upon the beholder, more vividly, perhaps, than any other objects,[Pg 52] the horror and consternation of those awful days when the rain of volcanic ashes turned noon to night and overwhelmed the doomed city. One of these figures is that of a girl with a ring on her finger; another, that of a woman enceinte; a third, a man whose features are singularly distinct and natural. A group of three includes father, mother, and daughter, found lying near one another. The figure of a female shows even the folds of her drapery and the arrangement of her hair. The attitudes are generally those which follow a short and fierce death-struggle. Some of the victims seem to have fallen upon their faces and died suddenly in their flight. Others, who were perhaps asphyxiated by vapors, have the calm attitude of sleep, as though death had been but a pleasant dream.

Near the Great Theatre an open court with a peristyle of seventy-four columns is surrounded by a series of detached cells. This is supposed to have been a barrack for confinement of the gladiators who were chosen for the contests of the arena. Sixty-three skeletons found here are believed to have been those of soldiers who remained on duty during the eruption. In one of the chambers, used as a prison, the skeletons of two presumable criminals were found, together with the stocks and irons with which they were bound for punishment. The story that the people were assembled, in great numbers, to witness some spectacular entertainment at the time the volcano began to belch upon them its rain of ashes is probably a myth. The theatre had been badly wrecked by the earthquake of 63, and its restoration was yet far from complete when the eruption broke forth. The streets of Pompeii are generally narrow, not over twenty-four—some of them not over fourteen—feet in width, and are paved with blocks of lava, with high stepping-stones at intervals, for the convenience of foot-passengers in rainy weather. At the street[Pg 53] corners public fountains are placed, from which the water poured through the decorative head of a god, a mask, or some similar ornament. Trade signs are rare, but political announcements are frequently seen, conspicuously printed in red letters. Phallic emblems, boldly cut in stone and built into the walls, surprise and shock us by their frequency, notwithstanding their innocently meant purpose as a means of protection against witchcraft. The architecture of the temples and other public buildings is a clumsy mixture of the Greek and Roman style, the columns being invariably laid up in brick or travertine, and covered with stucco. The dwellings, built of the same materials, or of travertine, have very little exterior adornment. Yet at the time of its catastrophe Pompeii must have been a highly decorated town. Marble was but little used architecturally, but the stucco which took its place was admirably adapted to decorative painting, and this means of ornamentation was lavishly employed.

The lower halves of the columns are generally painted red, with harmonizing colors on the capitals. Interior walls are also laid with bright, gay coloring, usually red or yellow. But the most attractive and striking of the mural decorations are the paintings, the wonderful variety and delicacy of which are only surpassed by the more astonishing wonder of their preservation. The subjects of these pictures are generally drawn from poetry or mythology, as, for instance, Theseus abandoning Ariadne, Ulysses relating his adventures to Penelope, Cupid holding a mirror up to Venus, Apollo and the Muses, Polyphemus receiving Galatea’s letter from Cupid, Leda and the Swan, Diana surprised in her bath by Actćon, Achilles and Patroclus, and representations of Venus, Cupid, Bacchus, Silenus, Mercury, and the fauns in endless variety. A favorite subject was the beautiful youth Narcissus, son[Pg 54] of the river-god Cephisus and the nymph Liriope. According to the Greek fable, this youth, seeing his image in a fountain, became enamoured of it, and, in punishment for his hardness of heart towards Echo and other nymphs, pined away and was changed to a flower. In consequence of its origin, this flower loves the borders of streams, and, bending on its fragile stem, seems to seek its own image in the waters, but soon fades and dies.

The larger and finer dwellings of Pompeii have generally been named from their supposed possessors, or from the works of art found in them. The House of the Tragic Poet, so called from the representation of a poet reading found in its tablinium, was one of the most elegant in Pompeii. From the pavement of its vestibule was taken a celebrated mosaic, now in the museum at Naples, representing a chained dog barking, with the legend “cave canem”—“beware of the dog." The periphery of the columns of the peristyle is fluted, except the lower third of the shaft, which is smooth and painted red. The walls of the interior are decorated with paintings, among which are Venus and Cupid fishing, Diana with Orion, and a representation of Leda and Tyndarus, which is very beautiful and remarkably well preserved. This house, which figures in Bulwer’s “Last Days of Pompeii” as the home of Glaucus, was probably the dwelling of a goldsmith. One of the most palatial residences yet brought to light is the House of Pansa,—one hundred and twenty-four by three hundred and nineteen feet,—which finely illustrates, in its complete and well-preserved appointments, the plan of an aristocratic Pompeiian mansion of the imperial epoch. Entering from the street by a vestibule, in the floor of which the greeting, “Salve,” was wrought in beautiful mosaic, we reach a large interior court (atrium), which, owing to the absence of glass or exterior openings, was necessary for the admission[Pg 55] of light and air to the surrounding chambers. A reservoir for rain-water (impluvium) occupies the centre of the atrium. Passing from the atrium through a large apartment called the tablinium, we enter, towards the rear, the strictly domestic part of the house, which occupies more than half the space within its walls, and is also provided with an interior court. The family apartments open into this court, and derive from it their light and ventilation. It encloses a garden surrounded by a peristyle, and hence takes the name of peristylium. The front part of the house, surrounding the atrium, was that in which the proprietor transacted his business and held intercourse with the external world; the rear part, surrounding the peristylium, was devoted to domestic use exclusively. The roof, sloping inward, and open over the interior courts, discharged the rain which fell upon it into the impluvium. The images of the household gods usually occupied a place in the vestibule. The House of Sallust, so named from an epigraph on its outside wall, appears from later discoveries to have been the property of A. Cossius Libanus. This house was finished in gay colors and embellished with mural paintings, one of which—a representation of Actćon surprising Diana at her bath—is singularly well preserved. Other subjects treated are the rape of Europa (badly defaced), and Helle in the sea extending her arm to Phryxus. Opposite to the Actćon is a dainty chamber, arbitrarily named the venereum, surrounded by polygonal columns painted red. The impluvium was adorned with a bronze group—now in the museum at Palermo—representing Hercules contending with a stag. Out of the mouth of the stag, in this group, the waters of the fountain gushed. Some of the bedrooms of this house were floored with African marble.

The House of Meleager takes its name from one of its[Pg 56] mural decorations illustrating the story of Meleager and Atalanta. Other frescos adorn its walls, representing the judgment of Paris, Mercury presenting a purse to Ceres, and a young satyr frightening a bacchante with a serpent. Its peristylium, sixty by seventy-three feet, is the finest yet found in Pompeii. The columns of the peristylium are covered with yellow stucco and its chambers are floored with mosaic. A colonnade rises on three sides of the dining-room, and one of twenty-four columns, red below and white above, supports the portico. A garden to the left of the atrium and in front of the portico is adorned by a pretty fountain. An exquisite bronze statuette of a dancing faun, now in the Naples museum, gave its present title to the most beautiful and also one of the largest houses in Pompeii. The discovery of this house was first made in 1830, in the presence of a son of the poet Goethe. A small pedestal, on which the statuette of the faun stood, is still seen in the marble-lined impluvium. In the mosaic floor of one of the rooms near by three doves are represented drawing a string of pearls from a casket. Mosaics in the dining-room represented Acratus (companion of Bacchus) riding on a lion, a cat devouring a partridge, and a group of crustaceans and fishes. The salutation, “Have,” (welcome) is wrought with colored marble in the pavement of the vestibule before the main entrance. The walls are covered with stucco made of cement, in imitation of colored marble.

The atrium, thirty-five by thirty-eight feet, is finished in the Tuscan style, but the twenty-eight columns surrounding the peristylium are Ionic. In the rear of the mansion opens a garden, one hundred and five by one hundred and fifteen feet, enclosed with a peristyle of fifty-six Doric columns. Various articles in gold, silver, bronze, and terra-cotta were found in this house, and also some skeletons,[Pg 57] one of which was that of a woman with a gold ring on her finger engraved with the name Cassia. But the most important discovery of all made in the House of the Faun was that of the magnificent mosaic of Alexander in the battle of Issus. “This work, which is almost the only ancient historical composition in existence, represents the battle at the moment when Alexander, whose helmet has fallen from his head, charges Darius with his cavalry and transfixes the general of the Persians, who has fallen from his wounded horse. The chariot of the Persian monarch is prepared for retreat, whilst in the foreground a Persian of rank, in order to insure the more speedy escape of the king, who is absorbed in thought at the sight of his expiring general, offers him his horse.”—Baedeker.

Such are some of the principal mansions of Pompeii and the objects found in them. All of the most precious works of art which were or could be detached, including many exquisite little mural frescos, have been removed and deposited in the museum at Naples. The ruins and the museum explain each other, and taken together furnish the most complete and vivid illustration of ancient life in the world. No books, no pictures, can tell us so clearly and comprehensively how the people of that day and country lived as the remains of this buried city. Its dwellings, shops, streets, prisons, temples, theatres, and tombs disclose with amazing fulness and accuracy the pursuits, habits, follies, vices, and even the thoughts of its inhabitants, just as they were living and moving when caught, overwhelmed, and forever stilled in the full tide of their existence. Well-curbs worn by the sliding rope, stepping-stones hollowed by the march of eager multitudes, pavements scarred by the stamp of horses’ hoofs, advertisements painted on public walls, shops and magazines containing the symbols and utensils of trade, fountains where the[Pg 58] crystal torrent might have hushed but an hour ago its rippling voice, temples whose altars bear yet the marks of sacrificial fires, frescos whose color and outline are bright and delicate in spite of calamity and time, mosaic floors smooth and shining as if polished only yesterday by the dance of dainty feet,—these and a thousand more traces of the life of that ancient time help the imagination to re-people and restore the ruined city as it was in the day of its pride and splendor.

An inspection of the ruins of Pompeii deepens upon the mind its impressions of the sublimity and terror of Vesuvius. Physically speaking, the volcano is but a monstrous heap of ashes, stones, and scorić, hollow, or partially so, in the centre, and streaked with black, solidified lava-currents on the outside. From the crater, whirling volumes of steam and smoke constantly issue, each rotary gush representing an interior explosion, usually heard only on the summit. In the varying states of the atmosphere this monstrous volume of vapor rises in columnar form for thousands of feet, and is then borne far to seaward, or landward, by the upper currents of the air; or it falls in a dense, sulphurous, shapeless cloud, which envelops and conceals the upper part of the mountain. In the latter condition of things I made my first ascent; in the former my second. On the first occasion we went up from Portici and down to Pompeii; on the second, the route was reversed.

From Pompeii the summit may be made—on horseback as far as the foot of the cone—in about three hours. The railway on the Portici side ascends to the outside rim of the crater, within which, separated by fissured slabs of lava, which a yard below the surface yet glow with living fire, the main chimney or flue of the volcano rises some hundreds of feet higher. On the eastern side, below the rim,[Pg 59] a lava stream of considerable magnitude had burst forth at the time of my visit, and was issuing with a fierce hissing sound. Its course could be traced down the slopes of the mountain for the distance of a mile. Its movement, at first quite rapid, was soon checked by the cooling effect of the atmosphere. The operations of the crater at this time were extremely interesting. Near the base of the finial cone a small secondary volcanic funnel had recently been formed, which sometimes almost silenced with its screeching and blubber the thunderous rumbling within the main chimney. Neither of the active craters could be approached with safety, but they made no objections to being looked at, and so, dismissing my guide, I remained about two hours on the summit, watching their antics. Sometimes the smaller crater, or safety-valve, as it seemed to be, would work itself up to a perfect frenzy of hysterical hissing and shrieking, as though all the misery of a hundred colicky locomotives were venting itself in one prolonged scream. During such spells the red liquid lava would bubble over the rim for a time, like the boiling of an overfilled pot; then suddenly some explosive interior force would throw it into the air in a sheaf of beautiful red spray, rising and descending in graceful parabolas all around the cone. After this performance, the little fellow would subside and keep tolerably quiet for ten minutes or so, when it would be seized with another paroxysm.

The larger crater, though also intermittent, was more progressive and less fidgety in its action. Its behavior had the dignified air of regular business, while the safety-valve demeaned itself more as a transient upstart, impatient of attracting popular attention. The masses of steam and smoke issuing from the main orifice were somewhat irregular, both in quantity and velocity, their increase in both respects being always accompanied by louder and more[Pg 60] rapid interior explosions. At the moments of greatest activity showers of stones and lumps of red lava were hurled into the air to heights varying from three hundred to one thousand feet, and, descending, rolled rattling and smoking down the yellow, sulphurous sides of the cone. The spectacle was terrifically sublime at times, particularly when the safety-valve chimed in with its screaming accompaniment, and flung aloft its jet-d’eau-like pyrotechnics. The missiles projected from the main crater soared at an angle of about fifty degrees, and almost uniformly in the same direction, so that they fell on territory of which the spectator, looking on from the opposite point of the compass, was quite willing to accord monopoly of possession, with a liberal margin for unadjusted boundary.

As sunset approached, and the shades of evening were beginning to add new touches of grandeur to the sublime spectacle, I took leave of it reluctantly, and, with Brobdingnagian strides down the volcanic ash-heap, descended in not more than seven minutes a space which it had once cost me a weary half-hour and the help of two guides to climb. Three hours later the red currents of lava could be seen from my window in Naples, glittering far away in the darkness, and streaking the black sides of the volcano like descending streams of molten gold.


[Pg 61]

MOUNT ETNA IN ERUPTION.

BAYARD TAYLOR.

[It is not Etna in one of its gigantic throes of eruption that we propose to describe. The traveller whose story of the mountain we append was not fortunate enough to witness such a spectacle. But he saw it in a minor phase of activity, and describes the vision so well that his account is well worth repeating. It was on his way from Malta to Sicily that he first caught sight of the volcano, ninety miles away, rising in solitary state behind the nearer mountains. He continued his course till abreast of Syracuse, “with Etna as distant as ever.”]

The fourth morning dawned, and—great Neptune be praised!—we were actually within the Gulf of Catania. Etna loomed up in all his sublime bulk, unobscured by cloud or mist, while a slender jet of smoke, rising from his crater, was slowly curling its wreaths in the clear air, as if happy to receive the first beam of the sun. The towers of Syracuse, which had mocked us all the preceding day, were no longer visible; the land-locked little port of Augusta lay behind us; and, as the wind continued favorable, ere long we saw a faint white mark at the foot of the mountain. This was Catania.

The shores of the bay were enlivened with orange-groves and the gleam of the villages, while here and there a single palm dreamed of its brothers across the sea. Etna, of course, had the monarch’s place in the landscape, but even his large, magnificent outlines could not usurp all my feelings. The purple peaks to the westward and farther inland had a beauty of their own, and in the gentle curves with which they leaned towards each other there was a promise of the flowery meadows of Enna....

[Pg 62]

Catania presented a lovely picture as we drew near its harbor. Planted at the very foot of Etna, it has a background such as neither Naples nor Genoa can boast. The hills next the sea are covered with gardens and orchards, sprinkled with little villages and the country-places of the nobles,—a rich, cultured landscape, which gradually merges into the forests of oak and chestnut that girdle the waist of the great volcano. But all the wealth of southern vegetation cannot hide the footsteps of that Ruin, which from time to time visits the soil. Half-way up the mountain-side is dotted with cones of ashes and cinders, some covered with the scanty shrubbery which centuries have called forth, some barren and recent; while two dark, winding streams of sterile lava descend to the very shore, where they stand congealed in ragged needles and pyramids. Part of one of these black floods has swept the town, and, tumbling into the sea, walls one side of the port.

[What shall we say of Catania? It has not dwelt at the foot of Mount Etna with impunity, but has been more than once destroyed. During the week of Mr. Taylor’s visit the centennial festival of St. Agatha, the miracles of whose martyrdom had here their scene, took place. This saint still performs miracles, “and her power is equally efficacious in preventing earthquakes and eruptions of Mount Etna.” The festival was brilliant in illuminations and pyrotechnic displays.]

Truly, except the illumination of the Golden Horn on the Night of Predestination, I have seen nothing equal to the spectacle presented by Catania during the past three nights. The city, which has been built up from her ruins more stately than ever, was in a blaze of light, all her domes, towers, and the long lines of her beautiful palaces revealed in the varying red and golden flames of a hundred thousand lamps and torches. Pyramids of fire, transparencies, and illuminated triumphal arches filled the four principal streets, and the fountain in the cathedral square[Pg 63] gleamed like a jet of molten silver, spinning up from one of the pores of Etna. At ten o’clock a gorgeous display of fireworks closed the day’s festivities, but the lamps remained burning nearly all night.

On the second night the grand Procession of the Veil took place. I witnessed the imposing spectacle from the balcony of Prince Gessina’s palace. Long lines of waxen torches led the way, followed by a military band, and then a company of the highest prelates in their most brilliant costumes, surrounding the bishop, who walked under a canopy of silk and gold, bearing the miraculous veil of St. Agatha. I was blessed with a distant view of it, but could see no traces of the rosy hue left upon it by the flames of the saint’s martyrdom....

To-night Signor Scava, the American vice-consul, took me to the palace of Prince Biscari, overlooking the harbor, in order to behold the grand display of fireworks from the end of the mole. The showers of rockets and colored stars, and the temples of blue and silver fire, were repeated in the dark, quiet bosom of the sea, producing the most dazzling and startling effects....

Among the antiquities of Catania which I have visited are the Amphitheatre, capable of holding fifteen thousand persons, the old Greek Theatre, in which Alcibiades made his noted harangue to the Catanians, the Odeon, and the ancient baths. The theatre, which is in tolerable preservation, is built of lava, like many of the modern edifices in the city. The baths proved to me, what I had supposed, that the Oriental bath of the present day is identical with that of the ancients. Why so admirable an institution has never been introduced into Europe is more than I can tell. From the pavement of these baths, which is nearly twenty feet below the surface of the earth, the lava of later eruptions has burst up, in places, in hard black jets. The[Pg 64] most wonderful token of that flood which whelmed Catania two hundred years ago is to be seen at the grand Benedictine convent of San Nicola, in the upper part of the city. Here the stream of lava divides itself just before the convent, and flows past on both sides, leaving the buildings and garden untouched. The marble courts, the fountains, the splendid galleries, and the gardens of richest Southern bloom and fragrance stand like an epicurean island in the midst of the terrible stony waves, whose edges bristle with the thorny aloe and cactus....

The noises of the festival had not ceased when I closed my eyes at midnight. I slept soundly through the night, but was awakened before sunrise by my Sicilian landlord. “Oh, Excellenza! have you heard the Mountain? He is going to break out again; may the holy St. Agatha protect us!”

It is rather ill-timed on the part of the Mountain, was my involuntary first thought, that he should choose for a new eruption precisely the centennial festival of the only saint who is supposed to have any power over him. It shows a disregard of female influence not at all suited to the present day, and I scarcely believe that he seriously means it. Next comes along the jabbering landlady: “I don’t like his looks. It was just so the last time. Come, Excellenza, you can see him from the back terrace.”

The sun was not yet risen, but the east was bright with his coming, and there was not a cloud in the sky. All the features of Etna were sharply sculptured in the clear air. From the topmost cone a thick stream of white smoke was slowly puffed out at short intervals, and rolled lazily down the eastern side. It had a heavy, languid character, and I should have thought nothing of the appearance but for the alarm of my hosts. It was like the slow fire of earth’s incense burning on that grand mountain altar.

[Pg 65]

I hurried off to the post-office to await the arrival of the diligence from Palermo. The office is in the Strada Etnea, the main street of Catania, which runs straight through the city from the sea to the base of the mountain whose peak closes the long vista. The diligence was an hour later than usual, and I passed the time in watching the smoke, which continued to increase in volume, and was mingled, from time to time, with jets of inky blackness. The postilion said he had seen fires and heard loud noises during the night. According to his account, the disturbances commenced about midnight.

At last we rolled out of Catania. There were in the diligence, besides myself, two men and a woman, Sicilians of the secondary class. The road followed the shore, over rugged tracts of lava, the different epochs of which could be distinctly traced in the character of their vegetation. The last great flow (of 1679) stood piled in long ridges of terrible sterility, barely allowing the aloe and cactus to take root in the hollows between. The older deposits were sufficiently decomposed to nourish the olive and vine, but even here the orchards were studded with pyramids of the harder fragments, which are laboriously collected by the husbandmen. In the few favored spots which have been untouched for so many ages that a tolerable depth of soil has accumulated, the vegetation has all the richness and brilliancy of tropical lands. The palm, orange, and pomegranate thrive luxuriantly, and the vines almost break under their heavy clusters. The villages are frequent and well-built, and the hills are studded, far and near, with the villas of rich proprietors, mostly buildings of one story, with verandas extending their whole length. Looking up towards Etna, whose base the road encircles, the views are gloriously rich and beautiful. On the other hand is the blue Mediterranean and the irregular outline of the[Pg 66] shore, here and there sending forth promontories of lava, cooled by the waves into the most fantastic forms.

We had not proceeded far before a new sign called my attention to the mountain. Not only was there a perceptible jar or vibration in the earth, but a dull, groaning sound, like the muttering of distant thunder, began to be heard. The smoke increased in volume, and, as we advanced farther to the eastward, and much nearer to the great cone, I perceived that it consisted of two jets issuing from different mouths. A broad stream of very dense white smoke still flowed over the lip of the topmost crater and down the eastern side. As its breadth did not vary, and the edges were distinctly defined, it was no doubt the sulphureous vapor rising from a river of molten lava. Perhaps a thousand yards below a much stronger column of mingled black and white smoke gushed up in regular beats or pants from a depression in the mountain-side, between two small extinct cones. All this part of Etna was scarred with deep chasms, and in the bottoms of those nearest the opening I could see the red gleam of fire. The air was perfectly still, and as yet there was no cloud in the sky.

When we stopped to change horses at the town of Aci Reale, I first felt the violence of the tremor and the awful sternness of the sound. The smoke by this time seemed to be gathering on the side towards Catania, and hung in a dark mass about half-way down the mountain. Groups of the villagers were gathered in the streets which looked upward to Etna and discussing the chances of an eruption. “Ah,” said an old peasant, “the Mountain knows how to make himself respected. When he talks, everybody listens.” The sound was the most awful that ever met my ears. It was a hard, painful moan, now and then fluttering like a suppressed sob, and had, at the same time, an expression of threatening and of agony. It did not[Pg 67] come from Etna alone. It had no fixed location; it pervaded all space. It was in the air, in the depths of the sea, in the earth under my feet, everywhere, in fact; and as it continued to increase in violence I experienced a sensation of positive pain. The people looked anxious and alarmed, although they said it was a good thing for all Sicily; the last year they had been in constant fear from earthquakes, and an eruption invariably left the earth quiet for several years. It is true that during the past year parts of Sicily and Calabria have been visited with severe shocks, occasioning much damage to property. A merchant of this city [Messina] informed me yesterday that his whole family had slept for two months in the vaults of his warehouse, fearing that their residence might be shaken down in the night.

As we rode along from Aci Reale to Taormina, all the rattling of the diligence over the rough road could not drown the awful noise. There was a strong smell of sulphur in the air, and the thick pants of smoke from the lower crater continued to increase in strength. The sun was fierce and hot, and the edges of the sulphureous clouds shone with a dazzling whiteness. A mounted soldier overtook us, and rode beside the diligence, talking with the postilion. He had been up to the mountain, and was taking his report to the governor of the district.

The heat of the day and the continued tremor of the air lulled me into a sort of doze, when I was suddenly aroused by a cry from the soldier and the stopping of the diligence. At the same time there was a terrific peal of sound, followed by a jar that must have shaken the whole island. We looked up to Etna, which was fortunately in full view before us. An immense mass of snow-white smoke had burst up from the crater, and was rising perpendicularly into the air, the rounded volumes rapidly[Pg 68] whirling one over the other, yet urged with such impetus that they only rolled outward after they had ascended to an immense height. It might have been one minute or five, for I was so entranced by this wonderful spectacle that I lost the sense of time, but it seemed instantaneous (so rapid and violent were the effects of the explosion), when there stood in the air, based on the summit of the mountain, a mass of smoke four or five miles high, and shaped precisely like the Italian pine-tree.

Words cannot paint the grandeur of this mighty tree. Its trunk of columned smoke, one side of which was silvered by the sun, while the other, in shadow, was lurid with red flame, rose for more than a mile before it sent out its cloudy boughs. Then parting into a thousand streams, each of which again threw out its branching tufts of smoke, rolling and waving in the air, it stood in intense relief against the dark blue of the sky. Its rounded masses of foliage were dazzlingly white on one side, while, in the shadowy depths of the branches, there was a constant play of brown, yellow, and crimson tints, revealing the central shaft of fire. It was like the tree celebrated in the Scandinavian sagas, as seen by the mother of Harold Hardrada,—that tree whose roots pierced through the earth, whose trunk was of the color of blood, and whose branches filled the uttermost corners of the heavens.

The outburst seemed to have relieved the mountain, for the tremors were now less violent, though the terrible noise still droned in the air, and earth, and sea. And now, from the base of the tree, three white streams slowly crept into as many separate chasms, against the walls of which played the flickering glow of the burning lava. The column of smoke and flame was still hurled upward, and the tree, after standing about ten minutes,—a new and awful revelation of the active forces of nature,—gradually[Pg 69] rose and spread, lost its form, and, slowly moved by a light wind (the first that disturbed the dead calm of the day), bent over to the eastward.

We resumed our course. The vast belt of smoke at last arched over the strait, here about twenty miles wide, and sank towards the distant Calabrian shore. As we drove under it, for some miles of our way, the sun was totally obscured, and the sky presented the singular spectacle of two hemispheres of clear blue, with a broad belt of darkness drawn between them. There was a hot, sulphureous vapor in the air, and showers of white ashes fell from time to time. We were distant about twelve miles, in a straight line, from the crater, but the air was so clear, even under the shadow of the smoke, that I could distinctly trace the downward movement of the rivers of lava.

This was the eruption, at last, to which all the phenomena of the morning had been only preparatory. For the first time in ten years the depths of Etna had been stirred, and I thanked God for my detention at Malta, and the singular hazard of travel which had brought me here, to his very base, to witness a scene the impression of which I shall never lose to my dying day. Although the eruption may continue, and the mountain pour forth fiercer fires and broader tides of lava, I cannot but think that the first upheaval, which lets out the long-imprisoned forces, will not be equalled in grandeur by any later spectacle.

After passing Taormina, our road led us under the hills of the coast, and although I occasionally caught glimpses of Etna, and saw the reflection of fire from the lava which was filling up his savage ravines, the smoke at last encircled his waist, and he was then shut out of sight by the intervening mountains. We lost a bolt in the deep valley opening to the sea, and during our stoppage I could still hear the groans of the mountain, though farther off and less[Pg 70] painful to the ear. As evening came on, the beautiful hills of Calabria, with white towns and villages on their sides, gleamed in the purple light of the setting sun. We drove around headland after headland, till the strait opened, and we looked over the harbor of Messina to Cape Faro and the distant islands of the Tyrrhene Sea.


PLEBEIAN LIFE IN VENICE.

HORACE ST. JOHN.

[Venice is not all made up of palaces and patricians, not all bronze and marble, pictures and statuary. Out of the range of all this, unseen by the ordinary traveller, lies another and humbler Venice, where the poor pass their straitened lives, but which has a character and attraction of its own, worthy of being seen and described. We give St. John’s story of discovery in this realm of what he calls “vulgar Venice.”]

It may not be a discovery, but it is a fact not often noticed, that there is an every-day Venice which is decidedly vulgar,—which means that it is not all Rialto, Bridge of Sighs, Grand Canal, or Doge’s Palace. But, to judge from poems, pictures, and tourists, the city is one beautiful dream, of marble and bronze, of jasper and vermilion, of pictures and the sculptor’s breathing models. The temptation is, no doubt, seducing to pass all your time where the great columns stand, where the bronze horses, near St. Mark’s, glow with all the colors of the sunset, and where that strangely composed young girl shows you through the horrible labyrinths of the state prison.

Yet there is another Venice which artists rarely touch, as if all low life were confined to the Low Countries, where[Pg 71] they are eager enough to sketch fish-stalls and kitchens by the light of “single candle” Schendel. And this Venice has not a solitary element of romance or beauty about it. Step into the “omnibus gondola”—the very thought is enough to obliterate an epic of enthusiasm—and it will land you where the Venetians lead their common lives, without any Byron to bewail them. The songless gondoliers of these public boats are a miserable set of folk. They never save anything; their fathers never saved anything before them; but they keep up their spirits notwithstanding. Thus, between Giacomo passing Beppo, “Good luck to you!” “Thanks!” “Be hanged, you and your thanks!” Or, “Many patrons?” “Many.” “You and your patrons be hanged!” These affectionate greetings are universal.

But the grimy gondola has stopped, and the buying and selling quarter has been reached. No stately ladies, or very few, here “serpentining,” as Balzac says, whatever he may mean, along the pavement, and not too many of the white-bodiced damsels, who look so graceful on canvas, as if they were always clean and dark Madonnas into the bargain; because, to tell the truth, these ladies are accustomed, in warm weather, to lay aside those pretty bodices, and work in an attire at once more light and more loose. They are exceedingly busy, and the scene is wonderfully animated.

Venice, providing its dinner, has been compared with a huge ship in port, taking in provisions. Padua and Vicenza have brought their corn and oil; the islands have sent their indescribably superb fruit; Friuli, Istria, Illyria, and the Turkish Archipelago contribute grain, meat, game, conserves, and pickles; Austria, Hungary, and Dalmatia supply wine, which is diluted, by the humbler sort of consumers, with sea water, which the “stick girls,” so called[Pg 72] from the yokes they carry on their shoulders, bring about. They are from Friuli, whose snow-white summits are just visible from here,—and striking enough they are in their bright bodices, short blue or green skirts, with red borders, and white Calabrian hats, daintily tipped on one side, in order that the massive gold hair ornaments or polished steel pins may be admired. But these charming water-carriers are despised; they live apart from the other inhabitants; and not a Venetian will ever marry one of them. Still, they often return to their mountains, tolerably rich, and their Titian faces are quite as proud with scorn of the Venetians as those of Venetians are for them.

However, it is market-time, which must not be wasted upon international antipathies. Nearly everything in Venice is sold, and nearly everything eatable is eaten, among the inferior classes, in the open air,—polenta, beef, mutton, fish, frying, grilling, roasting, and perpetually passing hot into the hands of the al fresco customers. It is generally very good; but best of all is the bread made “on the Continent” expressly for Venice, in the incomparable little district of Piava. Armed with a “tasting order,” which a few of the smallest coins imaginable will command, you pass through the hungry throng. This is soup, by no means bad, at two-thirds of a half-penny the basin. That is calves’-head; these are lamb- and pork-chops, with heart and tripe, the savor whereof is suggestive of ancient sacrifices.

Some of the people keep stalls; others shops, without doors or windows. It appears odd to a stranger, upon entering a wine-hall, to be offered a plateful of highly-salted mutton, a comestible which everybody appears to be devouring. After it a service of fish, the entire flavor of which has been absorbed in brine. Then you are ready to drink; but the wine is salted also! There are two delicacies, however, in which persons of every degree delight,[Pg 73] and which induce the denizens of the opulent quarter to bring their nobility here. The first is a small white biscuit, made of the most exquisite flour and fresh butter, so speckless, light, and fragile that they crumble at a rough touch, and will not keep longer than twelve hours. Who wants to feast upon them, then, must come to the oven, and, tenderly handling the bianchetti, dip them in the wine of Cyprus, and believe in solid ambrosia. The second rarity—uniqueness I would say, if there were such a word—is a little fish, fried in oil, which is sold from morning till night, all through the season. You shall see a maiden of Venice, gloved like a Parisian, “well knotted,” elegant of costume, and in air patrician, buy two pennyworth of these dainties,—the whitebait of Italy,—smelling of oil, fire, and the frying-pan, wrap them in paper, take them to a cabaret, sit down, and relish them unmistakably over a flask of Cyprus. She is never alone, however, but accompanied by an escort, who is stamped a gentleman by that sign infallible in Venice, whether or not it be so elsewhere,—his dress. At the same table may be seated, possibly, the very fisherman who provided the banquet.

But what is the meaning of the phrase just used, “well knotted”? Let her wear the richest silk ever spun in Italy, and the haughtiest Hungarian hat, with its aigrette of a dove’s wing, your Venetian lady of blue blood is not distinguishable, except by what she has upon her neck. And this is a gold chain, of apparently countless links, beautifully brilliant, with that reddish tinge which has so often been the perplexity of painters, though Titian mastered it, as he did everything else; and falling from the throat is gathered in a coil at the waist, where, the larger and heavier the knot, the higher the patent of social splendor.

Though I am not concerned at present with the aristocracy[Pg 74] of the sea-born city, still, if lofty dames will eat little fishes in a market-place, they cannot complain of personalities, should the remark be made that some are dark as ever Giorgione or Carpaccio painted; while others, to borrow the ejaculation of a rapturous wanderer from Paris, who was not really in a rapture, and who, of course, did not mean what he was saying, might be mistaken for the daughters of Aurora, a contrast reminding you of Adam’s two wives in the Talmud.

But madame has finished her gouter, and, once more taking a liberty with my Frenchman, I remark that she “undulates always with an appearance of perfect satisfaction.” She will not be seen here again until the same freak of appetite seizes her. For, as a rule, the lower classes—as, indeed, they do everywhere—have their own neighborhoods to themselves, though in Venice, naturally, owing to the peculiarity of its position, there are subdivisions. The workmen and artificers and traders are quite distinct from the boatmen and fishermen, upon whom they look with contempt, and with whom they were formerly in a state of incessant feud. The former wear red caps and belts; the belts and caps of the latter are entirely either black or blue, the capes having tassels of the same color, which give an Oriental character to a Venetian crowd.

THE CHURCH OF ST. MARK, VENICE THE CHURCH OF ST. MARK, VENICE

[Pg 75]

And here a curious point occurs. Your great lady prides herself upon the knot in her gold chain; your fisherman or ferryman wears a scarf round his neck, and the bigger the knot he can tie the prouder he is of himself. Again, the gondoliers have their grades of rank. The lords of the black “water broughams,” as some one very much in want of a smart saying termed them, are in the service of private families, and hold themselves ready for orders like coachmen. The second degree is composed—to carry on the analogy—of the canal cabmen, who live upon chance, upon travellers, and upon Romeos and Juliets, whenever these young persons are engaged in adventure. Lastly, there are the gondoliers with fixed stations and fixed destinations, ferrymen who float to and fro. But they are all very important to Venice. They are the links of its life; for, singularly enough, it has not bridges enough, and in this respect is utterly unlike Amsterdam, with which it is so often and so absurdly compared. If, however, they swear at one another, they swear at the railway in a chorus. It is rarely, in these days, that any good luck befalls them. Now and then, to be sure, a music and singing party, dizzy with the juice of the Dalmatian grape, attempt to wake the echoes of Tasso among the lagoons, or two fond fools, fresh from their nuptials in the north, glide over the moonlit sea, regardless of expense, and look at life through the stars; yet such Jessica evenings are few and far between, and the Venetian gondoliers, seen by daylight, look like anything rather than Fenimore Cooper’s hero, or even a daub in a Canaletti canvas. Still, his ancient art has not deserted him, and he can push his craft along at a wonderful speed.

There is one peculiarity about them which the stranger does not readily understand. They speak as though their language was as limpid as the water on which they live, and made up almost entirely of vowels. You wish to be set ashore at the steps of the “Luna” hotel? Certainly; your gondolier knows the “Una” hotel perfectly well. He has another characteristic, not quite so uncommon: he is an unblushing cheat. His Venetian customers pay him tenpence, when you, being a stranger, must pay him half a crown, which is an Italian method of expressing patriotism, I suppose. Yet he is continually to be found upon his knees before the altar, and has a patron of his own, whom he invokes upon every necessary or unnecessary occasion.

[Pg 76]

From him I turn for a moment to another type,—the ciceroni,—only, however, to mention a single example. She was a young girl who undertook to show the visitor, fresh from the glories of the ducal palace, through the black labyrinths of the ducal prison. She took two wax tapers, lighted them, gave him one, keeping the other herself, and jingled a great bunch of keys. Then the really pretty and graceful maiden led the way down a worn, slippery, dark staircase, up another across the Bridge of Sighs, down again, telling all the way fearful legends of the place, and plunged deeper into the shadowy recesses at every step.

“Are you not afraid?” she is asked.

“A Venetian girl feels no fear,” is her answer.

That is a terrible interior, however, with its range upon range of hideous cells; but worst of all is a vault, without a spark of natural light in it, which seems as if dug in the rock. Its roof is stained by lampblack; its walls bear traces of clamps and chains. “Here the secret executions took place; here the son of a doge was beheaded for daring to love a foreign lady. Only great criminals—that is, great lords—were put to death here.” I wonder whether this tender turnkey, if she had prisoners under her charge, would be pitiless to them. There is something painful in the contrast between such a gaol and such a gaoler.

Leaving her, you pass across the square with its corner group of beggars, its swarm of bare-headed children, its clusters of boys with their hair flowing wild, and their brown necks and chests exposed, who give you an idea that they are expecting their photographs to be taken, but who, nevertheless, bake themselves in the sun languidly enough, and act upon the national maxim, “bisogna stare allegro.” There is but a solitary influence which can rouse your true Venetian to a state of excitement, and that is[Pg 77] the presence of death. Rich or poor, he hates it; rich, he rides or rows away to the farthest possible distance; poor, he hides, if he can, until the object of his abhorrence is removed. Somehow these vagrants of the island city never starve. They earn, by one means or another, sufficient for the day, which signifies sufficient for dinner,—two pennyworth of fish, ready cooked, as already described; one pennyworth of soup, and one of bread; and it may be suspected that women and girls do a principal part of whatever work is done in Venice at all.

You turn into a sequestered nook, resembling one of the smaller courts opening upon Fleet Street, and a number of damsels, without dulcimers, are chattering or singing. These are the pearl-threaders, for pearl-threading is a universal occupation, just as embroidery was at one time in England. The wealthy do it for amusement, the humbler classes for gain, of which, as I have said, a very little goes a long way. It is a popular saying, “You may die of love or hatred in Venice, but not of hunger;” still, you see many ragged, hollow-eyed, and pallid wretches, who, in former days, might have been mistaken for lottery-hunters; but those times, happily, have passed away, though they presented a spectacle sufficiently interesting four or five years ago....

Some one has compared Venice to a page of music, with its curious streets, palaces, museums, canals, and bridges; resembling lines, notes, double notes, points, crotchets, pauses; its long and straight, its short, narrow and crooked ways; its open spaces scattered up and down; its mounting and descending of bridges. I cannot myself see the truth of the comparison; but so much may be readily admitted,—that the stranger can easily lose his way, and not easily find it again, in this maze of land and water, worse than Amsterdam. Unless, however, the wanderer has[Pg 78] some business on hand, the very best way to see Venice is to be lost in it; because then, instead of the regulation round of sights, a thousand unexpected novelties strike the eye, in the narrow, ill-paved, and generally noiseless streets that intersect the islands, though the hoof of a horse or rumbling of a wheel is never heard in them.

Opening upon these dingy and tortuous thoroughfares are many of those back entrances to the mansions of the opulent, which play so prominent a part in romance and drama, though, as a rule, they are inhabited by the poorest of the poor to whom an abode is a retreat, not a home,—since their lives are habitually passed out of doors. As for furniture, a bedstead and a huge chest or coffer, with a stool or two, and a small but solid table, constitute the inventory,—if exception be made of the bowls, and spoons, and bread-knives which the inmates carry abroad when they intend to banquet beneath that sky in which Tintoretto and Veronese exulted.

Nothing of marble or mosaic here; nothing of gold or purple; only squalor, such as is never seen in a town of Holland; such as is seldom met with, indeed, anywhere out of Ireland or Italy. The water, however, mingles so intricately with the land that it is impossible to go many steps without coming upon a bridge and a canal,—not the canal of the artist, all blue except where richer tints are reflected by the architecture on either side, but narrow, crooked, overhung by ugly houses, and rather less sweet to the nostrils than becomes a city famous for its love of violets. Hither come the itinerants of the public places when the last loiterers have left the square of St. Mark’s and there is no longer a chance of selling fried cakes or fish, salt mutton or salt tripe, mock pearls or gold thread to string them upon; and here my glimpse closes upon Venice, a thousand times described, yet rarely, I think, from this particular point of view.


[Pg 79]

ATHENS AND ITS TEMPLES.

J. L. T. PHILLIPS.

[To say anything concerning the claims of Athens to the traveller’s attention would be but a waste of words. For the student of art and architecture it will long remain a place of pilgrimage. We reproduce here such a student’s story of a visit to the antiquities of Athens. It is the ancient city of which he speaks; modern Athens has far less to commend it to attention.]

The day is a happy one to the student-traveller from the Western World in which he first looks upon the lovely plain of Athens. Rounding the point where Hymettus thrusts his huge length into the sea, the long, featureless mountain-wall of Southern Attica suddenly breaks down, and gives place to a broad expanse of fertile and well-cultivated soil, sloping gently back with ever-narrowing bounds until it reaches the foot-hills of lofty Pentelicus. The wooded heights of Parnes enclose it on the north, while bald Hymettus rears an impassable barrier along the south. In front of the gently recurved shore stretch the smooth waters of the Gulf of Salamis, while beyond rises range upon range of lofty mountain-peaks with strikingly varied outline, terminating on the one hand in the towering cone of Egina, and on the other in the pyramidal, fir-clad summit of Cithćron.

Upon the plain, at the distance of three or four miles from the sea, are several small rocky hills of picturesque appearance, isolated and seemingly independent, but really parts of a low range parallel to Hymettus. Upon one of the most considerable of these, whose precipitous sides make it a natural fortress, stood the Acropolis, and upon[Pg 80] the group of lesser heights around and in the valleys between clustered the dwellings of ancient Athens.

It was a fitting site for the capital of a people keenly sensitive to beauty, and destined to become the leaders of the world in matters of taste, especially in the important department of the Fine Arts. Nowhere are there more charming contrasts of mountain, sea, and plain,—nowhere a more perfect harmony of picturesque effect. The sea is not a dreary waste of waters without bounds, but a smiling gulf mirroring its mountain-walls and winding about embosomed isles, yet ever broadening as it recedes, and suggesting the mighty flood beyond from which it springs. The plain is not an illimitable expanse over which the weary eye ranges in vain in quest of some resting-place, but is so small as to be embraced in its whole contour in a single view, while its separate features—the broad, dense belt of olives which marks the bed of its principal stream, the ancient Cephisus, the vineyards, the grain-fields, and the sunny hill-side pastures—are made to produce their full impression. The mountains are not near enough to be obtrusive, much less oppressive; neither are they so distant as to be indistinct or to seem insignificant. Seen through the clear air, their naked summits are so sharply defined and so individual in appearance as to seem almost like sculptured forms chiselled out of the hard rock....

So the student-pilgrim from the Western World with native ardor strains his sight to catch the first glimpse of the Athenian plain and city. He is fresh from his studies, and familiar with what books teach of the geography of Greece and the topography of Athens. He needs not to be informed which mountain-range is Parnes, and which Pentelicus,—which island is Salamis, and which Egina. Yet much of what he sees is a revelation to him. The mountains are higher, more varied, and more beautiful than he[Pg 81] had supposed, Lycabettus and the Acropolis more imposing, Pentelicus farther away, and the plain larger, the gulf narrower, and Egina nearer and more mountainous, than he had fancied. He is astonished at the smallness of the harbor at Peirćus, having insensibly formed his conception of its size from the notices of the mighty fleets which sailed from it in the palmy days when Athens was mistress of the seas. He is not prepared to see the southern shore of Salamis so near to the Peirćus, though it explains the close connection between that island and Athens, and throws some light upon the great naval defeat of the Persians. In short, while every object is recognized as it presents itself, yet a more correct conception is formed of its relative position and aspect from a single glance of the eye than had been acquired from books during years of study.

Arrived at the city, his experience is the same. He needs no guide to conduct him to its antiquities, nor cicerone to explain in bad French or worse English their names and history. Still, unexpected appearances present themselves not unfrequently. Hastening towards the Acropolis, he will first inspect the remains of the great theatre of Dionysus, so familiar to him as the place where, in the presence of all the people and many strangers, were acted the plays of his favorite poets, Ćschylus and Sophocles, and where they won many prizes. Hurrying over the eastern brow of the hill, he comes suddenly upon the spot, enters at the summit, as many an Athenian did in the olden time, and is smitten with amazement at the first glance, and led to question whether this be indeed the site of the ancient theatre. He finds, it is true, the topmost seats cut in the solid rock, row above row, stripped now of their marble lining and weather-worn, but yet the genuine ancient seats of the upper tier. These he expected to find. But whence are those fresh seats which fill the lower part[Pg 82] of the hollow, arranged as neatly as if intended for immediate use? and whence the massive stage beyond? He bethinks himself that he has heard of recent excavations under the patronage of the government, and closer inspection shows that these are actually the lower seats of the theatre in the time of the emperor Hadrian, whose favorite residence was Athens, and who did so much to embellish the city. The front seats consist of massive stone chairs, each inscribed with the name of its occupant, generally the priestess of some one of the numerous gods worshipped by that people so given to idolatry. In the centre of the second row is an elevated throne inscribed with the name of Hadrian. The stage is seen to be the ancient Greek stage enlarged to the Roman size to suit the demands of a later style of theatrical representation.

After looking in vain for the seat occupied by the priestess of the Unknown God, our traveller passes on and enters with a beating heart the charmed precincts of the Acropolis itself. The Propylća, which he has been accustomed to regard too exclusively as a mere entrance-gate to the glories beyond, impresses him with its size and grandeur, and the little temple of Victory by its side with its elegance. But the steepness of the ascent perplexes him. It seems impracticable for horses, yet he knows by unexceptionable testimony that the Athenian youth prided themselves upon driving their matched steeds in the great Panathenaic procession which once every four years wound up the hill, bearing the sacred peplus to the temple of the goddess. A closer examination reveals the transverse creases of the pavement designed to give a footing to the beasts, as well as the marks of the chariot-wheels. Nevertheless, the ascent (and much more the descent) must have been a perilous undertaking, unless the teams were better[Pg 83] broken than the various accounts of chariot-races furnished by the poets would indicate.

Entering beneath the great gate, a little distance forward to the left may readily be found the site of the colossal bronze statue of the warrior-goddess in complete armor, formed by Phidias out of the spoils taken at Marathon. The square base, partly sunk in the uneven rock, is as perfect as if just put in readiness to receive the pedestal of that famous work. A road bending to the right and slightly hollowed out of the rock leads to the Parthenon. The outer platform which sustains this celebrated temple is partly cut from the rock of the hill and partly built up of common limestone. The inner one of three courses, as well as the whole superstructure, is formed of Pentelic marble of a compact crystalline structure and of dazzling whiteness. Long exposure has not availed to destroy its lustre, but only to soften its tone. The visitor, planting himself at the western front, is in a position to gain some adequate idea of the perfection of the noble building. The interior and central parts suffered the principal injury from the explosion of the Turkish powder magazine in 1687. The western front remains nearly entire. It has been despoiled, indeed, of its movable ornaments. The statues which filled the pediment are gone, with the exception of a fragment or two. The sculptured slabs have been removed from the spaces between the triglyphs, and the gilded shields which hung beneath have been taken down. Of the magnificent frieze, representing the procession of the great quadrennial festival, only the portion surrounding the western vestibule is still in place. Still, as these were strictly decorations, and wholly subordinate to the organic parts of the structure, their presence, while it would doubtless greatly enhance the effect of the whole, is not felt to be essential to its completeness. The whole Doric[Pg 84] columns still bear the massive entablature sheltered by the covering roof. The simple greatness of the conception, the just proportion of the several parts, together with the elaborate finishing of the whole work, invest it with a charm such as the works of man seldom possess,—the pure and lasting pleasure which flows from apparent perfection.

Entering the principal apartment of the building, traces are seen of the stucco and pictures with which the walls were covered when it was fitted up as a Christian church in the Byzantine period. Near the centre of the marble pavement is a rectangular space laid with dark stone from the Peirćus or from Eleusis. It marks the probable site of the colossal precious statue of the goddess in gold and ivory,—one of the most celebrated works of Phidias. The smaller apartment beyond, accessible only from the opposite front of the temple, was used by the state as a place of deposit and safe-keeping for bullion and other valuables in the care of the state treasurer.

Having examined the great temple, and tested the curvature of its seemingly horizontal lines by sighting along the unencumbered platform, and having stopped at several points of the grand portico to admire the fine views of the city and surrounding country, the traveller picks his way northward, across a thick layer of fragments of columns, statues, and blocks of marble, towards the low-placed, irregular, but elegant Erechtheum, the temple of the most ancient worship and statue of the patron-goddess of the city. This building sits close by the northern as the Parthenon does by the southern wall of the enclosure. It has suffered equally with the other from the ravages of time, and its ruins, though less grand, are more beautiful. Most of the graceful Ionic columns are still standing, but large portions of the roof and entablature have fallen. Fragments of decorated cornice strew the ground, some of them of considerable length, and afford a near view of that delicate ornamentation and exquisite finish so rare outside the limits of Greece.

ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS, GREECE ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS, GREECE

[Pg 85]

The elevated porch of the Caryatides, lately restored by the substitution of a new figure in place of the missing statue now in the British Museum, attracts attention as a unique specimen of Greek art, and also as showing how far a skilful treatment will overcome the inherent difficulties of a subject. The row of fair maidens looking out towards the Parthenon do not seem much oppressed by the burden which rests upon them, while their graceful forms lend a pleasing variety to the scene. Passing out by the northern wing of the Propylća, a survey is had of the numerous fragments of sculpture discovered among the ruins upon the hill, and temporarily placed in the ancient Pinacotheca. The eye rests upon sweet infant faces and upon rugged manly ones. Sometimes a single feature only remains, which, touched by the finger of genius, awakens admiration. A naked arm severed from the trunk, of feminine cast, but with muscles tightly strained and hand clinched as in agony, will arrest attention and dwell in the memory.

Northwest of the Acropolis, across a narrow chasm, lies the low, rocky height of the Areopagus, accessible at the southeast angle by a narrow flight of sixteen rudely-cut steps, which lead to a small rectangular excavation on the summit, which faces the Acropolis, and is surrounded upon three sides by a double tier of benches hewn out of the rock. Here undoubtedly the most venerable court of justice at Athens had its seat and tried its cases in the open air. Here too, without doubt, stood the great apostle when, with bold spirit and weighty words, he declared unto the men of Athens that God of whom they confessed their ignorance; who was not to be represented by gold or silver or stone graven by art and man’s device; who dwelt not in[Pg 86] temples made with hands, and needed not to be worshipped with men’s hands. In no other place can one feel so sure that he comes upon the very footsteps of the apostle, and on no other spot can one better appreciate his high gifts as an orator or the noble devotion of his whole soul to the work of the Master. How poor in comparison with his life-work appear the performances of the greatest of the Athenian thinkers or doers!

A little more than a quarter of a mile west of the Acropolis is another rocky hill,—the Pnyx,—celebrated as the place where the assembly of all the citizens met to transact the business of the state. A large semicircular area was formed, partly by excavation, partly by building up from beneath, the bounds of which can be distinctly traced. Considerable remains of the terrace-wall at the foot of the slope exist,—huge stones twelve or fourteen feet in length by eight or ten in breadth. The chord of the semicircle is near the top of the hill, formed by the perpendicular face of the excavated rock, and is about four hundred feet in length by twenty in depth. Projecting from it at the centre, and hewn out of the same rock, is the bema or stone platform from which the great orators from the time of Themistocles and Aristides, and perhaps of Solon, down to the age of Demosthenes and the Attic Ten, addressed the mass of their fellow-citizens. It is a massive cubic block, with a linear edge of eleven feet, standing upon a graduated base of nearly equal height, and is mounted on either side by a flight of nine stone steps. From its connection with the most celebrated efforts of some of the greatest orators our race has yet seen, it is one of the most interesting relics in the world, and its solid structure will cause it to endure as long as the world itself shall stand, unless, as there is some reason to apprehend will be the case, it is knocked to pieces and carried off in the carpet-bags of travellers.[Pg 87] No traces of the Agora, which occupied the shallow valley between the Pnyx and the Acropolis, remain. It was the heart of the city, and was adorned with numerous public buildings, porticoes, temples, and statues. It was often thronged with citizens gathered for purposes of trade, discussion, or to hear and tell some new thing.

Half a mile or more to the southeast, on the banks of the Ilissus, stood a magnificent structure dedicated to Olympian Zeus,—one of the four largest temples of Greece, ranking with that of Demeter at Eleusis and that of Diana at Ephesus. Its foundations remain, and sixteen of the huge Corinthian columns belonging to its majestic triple colonnade. One of these is fallen. Breaking up into the numerous disks of which it was composed,—six and a half feet in diameter by two or more in thickness,—and stretching out to a length of over sixty feet, it gives an impressive conception of the size of these columns, said to be the largest standing in Europe. The level area of the temple is now used as a training-ground for soldiers. Close by, and almost in the bed of the stream, which is dry the larger part of the year, issues from beneath a ledge of rock the copious fountain of sweet waters known to the ancients as Callirrhoe. It furnished the only good drinking-water of the city, and was used in all the sacrifices to the gods. A little way above, on the opposite bank of the Ilissus, is the site of the Panathenaic stadium, whose shape is perfectly preserved in the smooth grass-grown hollow with semicircular extremity which here lies at right angles to the stream, between parallel ridges partly artificial.

Northward from the Acropolis, on a slight elevation, is the best-preserved and one of the most ancient structures of Athens,—the temple of Theseus, built under the administration of Cimon by the generation preceding Pericles and the Parthenon. It is of the Doric order, and shaped[Pg 88] like the Parthenon, but considerably inferior to it in size as well as in execution. It has been roofed with wood in modern times, and was long used as a church, but is now a place of deposit for the numerous statues and sculptured stones of various kinds—mostly sepulchral monuments—which have been recently discovered in and about the city. They are for the most part unimportant as works of art, though many are interesting from their antiquity or historic associations. Among these is the stone which once crowned the burial-mound on the plain of Marathon. It bears a single figure, said to represent the messenger who brought the tidings of victory to his countrymen.

Near the Theseium was the double gate (Dipylum) in the ancient wall of the city whence issued the Sacred Way leading to Eleusis, and bordered, like the Appian Way at Rome, with tombs, many of them cenotaphs of persons who died in the public service and were deemed worthy of a monument in the public burying-ground. Within a few years an excavation has been made through an artificial mound of ashes, pottery, and other refuse emptied out of the city, and a section of a few rods of this celebrated road has been laid bare. The sepulchral monuments are ranged on one side rather thickly, and crowd somewhat closely upon the narrow pavement. They are, for the most part, simple, thick slabs of white marble, with a triangular or pediment-shaped top, beneath which is sculptured in low relief the closing scene of the person commemorated, followed by a short inscription. The work is done in an artistic style worthy of the publicity its location gave it. On one of these slabs you recognize the familiar full-length figure of Demosthenes, standing with two companions and clasping in a parting grasp the hand of a woman, who is reclining upon her death-bed. The inscription is, Collyrion, wife of Agathon. On another stone of larger size is a more[Pg 89] imposing piece of sculpture. A horseman fully armed is thrusting his spear into the body of his fallen foe,—a hoplite. The inscription relates that the unhappy foot-soldier fell at Corinth by reason of those five words of his!—a record intelligible enough, doubtless, to his contemporaries, but sufficiently obscure and provocative of curiosity to later generations.

There are other noted structures at Athens, such as the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates—the highest type of the Corinthian order of architecture, as the Erechtheum is of the Ionic and the Parthenon of the Doric,—but want of space forbids any further description.


THE ISLES OF GREECE.

HENRY M. FIELD.

[History and poetry alike celebrate the beauty of those charming isles, which fill with their sunny grace and rich fertility the seas of Greece, and on which many of the poets of that song-girdled land were born. No work on general travels can be complete without some description of these celebrated islands, and we select from Dr. H. M. Field’s “The Greek Islands” an appreciative account of their aspect to the modern traveller.]

In the old picture-books there used to be a picture of the Colossus of Rhodes, which stood bestriding an arm of the sea with ships in full sail passing between his mighty legs. Though it was a picture for children, yet to some who are not children the chief association with the island of Rhodes is the place where the Colossus stood; and there are travellers still who come on deck, and look round inquiringly for some fragment of a ruin which should mark the site of that majestic figure. But not a vestige remains.[Pg 90] Though “His Highness” lifted his head so proudly, as if he disdained the earth on which he stood, he did not hold it up very long. Pride must have a fall. He did not live even to the allotted age of man. He had been standing but fifty-six when an earthquake shook him down, and for nearly a thousand years he lay like Dagon, prone upon the ground, with all his glory buried in the dust, his disjecta membra being trodden underfoot by the barbarous Turk, till at last they were sold to a Jew(!), who broke them up as men break up the hull of an old ship, and, packing them on the backs of nine hundred camels, carried them away. Such was the ignominious end of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

But though the Colossus did not stand long, the mere fact of its standing at all—that a figure over a hundred feet high, wrought in bronze, like the column of Trajan at Rome, should have been reared nearly three hundred years before Christ—is a proof of the degree of civilization attained at that early period. It was a statue to the sun, and stood in front of the city, where its head would catch the first rays of the sunlight as it came over the hills of Asia Minor, which lay on the eastern horizon.

Rhodes is second to Cyprus (if it be second) in antiquity, and its civilization may be traced to the same sources. Its position at the mouth of the Ćgean Sea, whose waters here mingle with those of the Mediterranean, invited immigration both from Asia and Africa. The Phœnicians, sailing westward, landed on its shores; while from farther south men of another race brought to it the wisdom of the Egyptians. At the same time, as one of the islands of the Greek Archipelago, it shared in the intellectual influences of Greece. It stood “where two seas met,” or two civilizations. Like the Channel Islands, which look upon two kingdoms, it was joined by a chain of islands to Greece,[Pg 91] while it was in full sight of Asia, to which it was nearer than the white chalk cliffs of Dover to the shores of France. Probably the island was settled as early as the siege of Troy, though the city was not founded until about four hundred years before Christ.

It was in the century following that Alexander the Great conquered the world, and Rhodes bowed to a power which it could not resist, and was held in awe by the terror of his name, even while he was pursuing his conquests in the heart of Asia. But as soon as he breathed his last the spell was broken. The people rose against the Macedonian garrison, and drove them out, and with recovered liberty came new and increased prosperity, and the city rose to its greatest splendor. Then was reared the mighty Colossus; and then sculptors who rivalled those of Greece filled the city with the products of their art. It was said to contain not less than three thousand statues. The famous group of the Farnese Bull—the largest antique sculpture which has been preserved to us, and which, having once adorned the baths of Caracalla at Rome, is now the pride of the museum at Naples—was the work of two sculptors of Rhodes. Such noble statues, adorning the public places of the city, showed that in the cultivation of art Rhodes, if not the equal, was at least a worthy imitator, of Athens itself.

All this has passed away. But though despoiled of its treasures; though the conquerors, who

“Brought many captives home to Rome,”

brought the sculptures of Rhodes with those of Greece; yet the island itself remains, fair as when it first rose from the bosom of the Ćgean Sea. Never was it fairer than this morning, as the sunrise, flashing across the blue waters, lighted up the gray old town, with its walls and towers,[Pg 92] which stand out from a background of hills. The island rises abruptly from the sea. Beyond the walls of the town houses are sprinkled over the hill-sides, that are covered with olive-groves, which at this season are fresh and green. Behind these lower hills are others that are higher, whose steep sides and rocky crests reminded our good Dr. Wylie of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags.

The chief remains of historic interest are those connected with the Crusaders, when the island was ruled by the Knights of St. John, who took it, however, not in the advance to the Holy Land, but in the retreat. When they were driven out of Syria by Saladin, they fell back upon Rhodes, which they conquered from the Saracens, and held for over two hundred years,—from 1309 to 1522,—when Solyman the Magnificent came against it with two hundred thousand men. Then followed a siege in which men took courage from despair. The city had a garrison of but six thousand men; yet for six months, in spite of repeated assaults, it defied the besiegers,—a courage which compelled the respect of the conqueror, who after the city fell permitted its brave defenders to retire in safety. A few years later the Emperor Charles V. gave them the island of Malta, which they fortified till it was one of the strongest places in the world, and held it till the close of the last century.

No doubt to us, in this practical and prosaic age, there is something fantastic and absurd in the institution of the Knights of St. John, an order in which the profession of arms was strongly united with the profession of religion. But was it so very absurd, in an age full of oppression and cruelty, that manly strength and courage should be devoted to the protection of women against brutal tyranny? For such was the purpose of the institution of chivalry, which figures so much in the Middle Ages, where it often supplied[Pg 93] the place of a civilized government. Or when the Moslem conquered Western Asia and threatened Europe, was it strange that men devoted to arms should band together for the defence of their faith? This order of St. John was not made up of carpet knights. No braver men ever fought on bloody fields. Now, indeed, their wars and battles and sieges are over.

“The good Knights are dust,
Their armor rust,
Their souls are with the saints, we trust.”

Though the order still exists, it is not for purposes of war, but of peace. Its only war is against human misery. This, indeed, was always a part of its design. There are few things in history more touching than the solemn vow of those armed knights, which they took “as the servants of the poor and of Christ.” How well that vow has been kept to this day, the traveller may see who visits the Hospital of the Knights of St. John in Beirut. True, the order remains, as it has always been, a very aristocratic one, composed largely of nobles and princes. Its Grand Master is the Emperor of Germany. But when kings and princes care for the poor and the sick, when they found hospitals and seek to relieve human suffering, they deserve the honor and gratitude of mankind.

When these gallant Knights of St. John took their sad farewell of Rhodes, they left behind them traces of their occupation which still remain in the long sea-wall which guards the city’s front, to keep out an enemy as it keeps out the dashing of the waves. This castellated wall is a very picturesque object, as it not only lies along the sea, but turns at either end, winding up the sides of the hill till it has compassed the city round with its lines of defence, which did such valiant service in the memorable[Pg 94] siege. But apart from its look of a fortified place, there is nothing warlike in the city of Rhodes. I did not see a single sentinel keeping guard on the walls, nor see a gun mounted, nor hear a drum beat. There was nothing to break the silence of the sleepy old town; and over the wall, which once swarmed with Crusaders, hurling defiance at the besieging Moslems, there are no more formidable demonstrations than those of the windmills, which brandish their long arms against invisible foes.

The “port,” if such it may be called, is a diminutive little loch of water, shut in by a projecting mole, or ledge of rocks, at either end, on which stands a round tower, a picturesque object in the landscape, but not very formidable in case of war. One broadside from a man-of-war would make it a heap of ruins. Indeed, when a fort is converted into a light-house, it seems to abdicate its martial design, and to be devoted to the purposes of peace,—all that it is good for now.

It was tantalizing to lie but two or three hundred yards off, and not be able to land; but there was a high sea, the waves were dashing on the rocks, tossing their white crests in the air, and if we had gone on shore it might be difficult to get off in time for the steamer. So we lay broadside to the town for two or three hours, looking wistfully at the gates we could not enter.

But though we did not go on shore, we had visitors from the shore. The Greek boatmen are at home in any sea, and never miss an opportunity to visit a ship. They came on board to sell little boxes of olive-and lemon-wood, and other small wares, which the passengers purchased as souvenirs of Rhodes.

Apart from these petty traffickers, there was a grand old Turk, who sat gloomily in conversation with one who knew him. He was a pasha who had been high in power in[Pg 95] Constantinople, but for some cause lost the favor of the Sultan, and was banished to Rhodes. Whether he was guilty of any crime we knew not, nor did it matter whether he was guilty or innocent. Perhaps he had been too inflexibly honest, and so encountered the ill-favor of the Grand Vizier. In either case he had to suffer. The Turkish rule knows neither justice nor mercy. However, his fate was lighter than that of many. He was not kept a prisoner, shut up in a fortress; there was no chain upon his hand; and yet we could not look upon that sad face without feeling how bitter was the bread of exile.

Leaving the city behind us, we sail along the shores of the island, and are charmed with their picturesque beauty. The long line of elevated coast sweeps in and out, projecting and receding, with bays stretching inland, at the end of which one catches glimpses of soft valleys sloping upward to the hills, behind and above which is the mountain-ridge which forms the backbone of the island. These valleys once supported a large population; but now, under the destructive Turkish rule, it has dwindled till there are not forty thousand left. A few poor villages cling to the hill-sides whose inhabitants live on their small plantations of olives, or derive a scanty living from the sea, from which they gather sponges and coral. But with a better government and increased facilities for agriculture and commerce, there is no reason why Rhodes may not recover something of its former prosperity. Its climate is still the finest in the Mediterranean; the sun shines brightly as ever; and the valleys, spite of all the waste and neglect, still retain their natural fertility. With proper culture, they would yield rich harvests, besides oranges and lemons and citrons, with the figs and raisins, which are now exported so largely from Smyrna; while the olive-trees, which grow abundantly, would pour forth “rivers of oil.”

[Pg 96]

We are now in the heart of the Greek Archipelago, which has been famed for its beauty from the days of Homer. As we stood in a group on deck, entranced with the swiftly-changing scene, it was natural that we should compare it with our observation in other parts of the world. A couple of our fellow-passengers, who were on their return from the Far East, said that it reminded them of the Inland Sea of Japan. My thoughts turned to the Malayan Archipelago, where the islands hang rich with tropical vegetation, and the seas flash at night with phosphorescent splendor. But with all that is attractive in those groups of islands, I can hardly believe anything to be equal to this Greek Archipelago. It seems to me that no waters can be so beautiful as those of the Ćgean Sea, although there are waters of wonderful clearness in our Western Hemisphere, notably those round the Bahamas and the Bermudas.

And then the Greek islands, so many in number, are of all sizes, large and small, from the rocky islet, fit only for a sea-gull’s nest, to an island containing hundreds of square miles. All have the same general character, rising directly from the sea. The coasts are often so rocky that it seems as if a goat could hardly live upon them, and yet midway between the cliffs are little hamlets and patches of cultivation. The outlines of the higher peaks of the islands, broken and jagged, remind us, as they stand up against the sky, of Capri and Ischia in the Bay of Naples, or those African mountains which we saw from the Peninsula of Sinai, on the other side of the Red Sea. Putting all these things together, whatever may be said of the Malayan Archipelago, or of the Inland Sea of Japan, I give my voice for the Greek Archipelago as the most wonderful combination of land and sea, where the most picturesque of islands rise out of the fairest of waters.

CORINTH, GREECE CORINTH, GREECE

[Pg 97]

We did not touch at Patmos. There is nothing to invite a steamer to turn aside from its course to visit it, except it were to gratify the curiosity of travellers. It has no commerce of any kind. Indeed, its few inhabitants have at certain seasons of the year to cross to other islands to procure the means of subsistence. So barren is it that it was chosen by the Roman emperors as a place of banishment, on which prisoners could be confined as to a rock in the ocean. Yet this poor little island has gathered about it a mighty tradition, for it was the place of exile of the last of the Apostles. “I, John, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Here he wrote the Book of Revelation, and here was erected in the twelfth century a monastery bearing his name. We thought we could just discern the outline of the island and the convent rising above it on the western horizon.

The next morning at daylight we were off Scio, that island of sad and bloody memories. Sixty years ago it was the scene of an event which made the ears of the civilized world to tingle. When the Greek Revolution broke out in 1822 it is said that the people here were reluctant to take part in it, but were stirred up by emissaries from Samos; and, perhaps because Scio had been one of the most prosperous of the Greek islands, it was to be the special mark of Turkish vengeance. A fleet anchored off the town, and without a warning of its terrible fate, soldiers were let loose upon the inhabitants. No age or sex was spared. Not only were men cut down in their homes, but their wives and children with them. Twenty-two thousand were put to the sword, and forty-seven thousand were sold into slavery. But this massacre was not to go unavenged. The Greeks had no ships of war, but they converted old hulks into fire-ships, in which they sailed with the utmost daring into the centre of the Turkish fleet, and setting them on fire,[Pg 98] escaped in their boats. The flag-ship was burnt, and the admiral and crew perished in the flames,—a terrible retribution for the massacre of Scio. Since Greek independence was secured, it has partly recovered; but several years since the town was nearly destroyed by an earthquake, so that it seems as if the island were doomed to destruction.

But all over this wreck and ruin shines the brightness of a name that will ever give to it a place in history. It is the reputed birthplace of Homer, and as such cannot be passed by without notice by the traveller.

[From Scio, Dr. Field sailed for Asia Minor, and spent some time among its historic cities. On his return he passed the island of Lesbos, which has long been famous as the home of Sappho and others of the lyric poets of Greece.]

As the afternoon drew on, we were approaching a large island,—the ancient Lesbos, now Mitylene,—and as we were on its eastern side, and the sun was sinking in the west, we were coming under its shadow, and this softer light enabled us to see it better than we could have done in the glare of noonday. The tops of the mountains stood out with wonderful clearness against the sky, while the outline of the coast winding in and out with its headlands and its bays, and the soft green valleys rising from the shore and running upward to the slopes of the hills, gave it an infinite variety and beauty. Clinging to the hill-sides were pretty villages, with groves of oak cultivated for the acorns they yield, which are used for tanning purposes and exported to Europe, while the pine-forests on the mountains furnish timber and pitch.

The valleys are very fertile, and if they are not “covered over with corn,” they have large plantations of fig and other fruit-trees; while the olive-orchards, if they do not pour out “rivers of oil,” yet yield it in such abundance as[Pg 99] makes it the chief industry of the island, and furnishes a source of wealth to the thrifty inhabitants. All these varieties of vegetation were now in their perfect bloom, as it was the middle of May, when in the East the earth rejoices in the freshness of spring-time. As we sailed along these shores in the twilight, I wondered if a fairer Arcadia ever rose out of the waters of this troubled world.

The island of Lesbos has an important place in Greek history, even at its most remote period. As early as the siege of Troy it had a large population, and continued to flourish for centuries.

When Athens had its Academy, Lesbos had its schools of philosophy, which attracted the wise men of Greece. It was even more famous as the birthplace of a school of lyric poets,—

“Where burning Sappho lived and sung,”

and others whose stirring odes live in the collections of Greek poetry.

When the Romans became masters of the East they were attracted by the beauty of the Greek islands. Their fondness for a mild-tempered climate, such as is found in greatest perfection in an island lying in summer seas, where the temperature of the sea softens alike the heat of summer and the cold of winter,—which led them to choose Ischia and Capri, at the mouth of the Bay of Naples, as favorite abodes of Imperial luxury,—led them, when sent to distant provinces, to choose Lesbos, which Tacitus describes in a line as “insula nobilis et amœna” [a noble and pleasant island], as one of those semi-royal retreats in which a Roman governor might pass his splendid exile, and almost forget his absence from the imperial city....

On the whole, Mitylene seems to me the most important, as well as the most beautiful, island of the Archipelago,[Pg 100] and this very beauty and fertility but increase the regret that it should be under the rule of Turkey when it ought to belong to Greece. It is nearer to Athens than to Constantinople. It lies midway between the shores of Asia Minor and the mainland of Greece, and its population is almost wholly Greek. It is Greek in religion. One coming into Mitylene sees neither mosque nor minaret. Thus it is Greek by its position, its history, and its people. If ever there comes a time of “the restitution of all things,” the island will be taken from Turkey and restored to its natural place as part of the young kingdom of Greece.


THE SERAGLIO ON THE GOLDEN HORN.

EDWARD DANIEL CLARKE.

[Dr. Clarke, in his animated descriptions of the countries of Eastern Europe, gives picturesque accounts of what is to be seen in Constantinople and other portions of the Sultan’s domain. Perhaps the most interesting of these is his description of a stolen visit to the seraglio, a tabooed place only to be inspected at imminent risk of life. Our traveller managed to see it quite thoroughly, as will be seen from his story of the dangerous enterprise.]

I eagerly sought an opportunity to examine the interior of the seraglio; and, difficult as the undertaking may seem, soon found the means of its accomplishment. The harmony existing between England and the Porte at that critical juncture when Egypt was to be restored to the Turks by the valor of our troops, greatly facilitated the enterprise. I felt convinced that within the walls of the seraglio many interesting antiquities were concealed from observation; and I was not disappointed.

The first place to which my observations were directed[Pg 101] was the imperial armory; and here, to my great gratification, I beheld the weapons, shields, and military engines of the Greek emperors, exactly corresponding with those represented on the medals and bas-reliefs of the ancients, suspended as trophies of the capture of the city by the Turks....

Soon after this some pages, belonging to the seraglio, brought from the Sultan’s apartments the fragments of a magnificent vase of jasper-agate, which, it was said, his highness had dashed to pieces in a moment of anger. As these fragments were cast away, and disregarded, they came at last into the hands of a poor lapidary, who earned a scanty livelihood by cutting and polishing stones for the signet-rings of the Turks. In one of my mineralogical excursions, the merchants of the bez esten, where jewels are sold, directed me to the laboratory of this man, to obtain the precious stones of the country in their natural state. He was then employed upon the fragments of this vase, and very gladly spared the labor which he would otherwise have bestowed by consigning, for a small sum, the whole of them to me. It is hardly possible to conceive a more extraordinary proof of the genius and industry of Grecian artists than was presented by this vase. Its fragments are still in my possession; and have been reserved for annual exhibition, during a course of public lectures in the University of Cambridge. When it is stated that the treasury of Mithridates contained four thousand specimens of similar manufacture, all of which came into the hands of the Romans, and that the Turks are unable to execute anything of the same nature, it is highly probable this curious relique originally constituted one of the number, which, after passing into the possession of the Turks at the conquest of the city, had continued to adorn the palace of their sovereigns. Such a conjecture is strengthened[Pg 102] by the mythological figure, represented in exquisite sculpture, on the vase itself. It consists of an entire mass of green jasper-agate, beautifully variegated with veins and spots of a vermilion color; so that part of it exhibits the ribbon-jasper and part the bloodstone. The handle is formed to represent the head of a griffin (carved in all the perfection of the finest cameo), whose extended wings and claws cover the exterior surface. The difficulty of working a silicious concretion of such extraordinary hardness needs not to be specified; it may be presumed that the entire life of the ancient lapidary, by whom it was wrought, could have been scarcely adequate to such a performance; nor do we at all know in what manner the work was effected. Yet there are parts of it in which the sides of the vase are as thin as the finest porcelain.

A second visit, which I made to the interior of the seraglio, was not attended by any very interesting discovery; but as it enabled me to describe with minuteness scenes hitherto impervious to European eyes, the reader may be gratified by the observations made within those walls. Every one is curious to know what exists within recesses which have been long closed against the intrusion of Christians. In vain does the eye, roaming from the towers of Galata, Pera, and Constantinople, attempt to penetrate the thick gloom of cypresses and domes which distinguishes the most beautiful part of Constantinople. Imagination magnifies things unknown; and when, in addition to the curiosity always excited by mystery, the reflection is suggested that ancient Byzantium occupied the site of the Sultan’s palace, a thirst of inquiry is proportionably augmented. I promise to conduct my readers not only within the retirement of the seraglio, but into the charem itself, and the most secluded haunts of the Turkish sovereign. Would only I could also promise a degree of satisfaction,[Pg 103] in this respect, adequate to their desire of information.

It so happened that the gardener of the Grand Seignior, during our residence in Constantinople, was a German. This person used to mix with the society in Pera, and often joined in the evening parties given by the different foreign ministers. In this manner we became acquainted with him, and were invited to his apartments within the walls of the seraglio, close to the gates of the Sultan’s garden. We were accompanied during our first visit by his intimate friend, the secretary and chaplain of the Swedish mission, who, but a short time before, had succeeded in obtaining a sight of the four principal Sultanas and the Sultan mother, in consequence of his frequent visits to the gardener. They were sitting together one morning, when the cries of the black eunuchs, opening the door of the charem, which communicated with the seraglio gardens, announced that these ladies were going to take the air. In order to do this it was necessary to pass the gates adjoining the gardener’s lodge, where an arabat was stationed to receive them, in which it was usual for them to drive round the walks of the seraglio, within the walls of the palace.

Upon these occasions the black eunuchs examine every part of the garden, and run before the women, calling out to all persons to avoid approaching or beholding them, under pain of death. The gardener and his friend the Swede instantly closed all the shutters and locked the doors. The black eunuchs arriving soon after, and finding the lodge shut, supposed the gardener to be absent. Presently followed the Sultan mother, with the four principal Sultanas, who were in high glee, romping and laughing with each other. A small scullery window of the gardener’s lodge looked directly towards the gate through which[Pg 104] these ladies were to pass, and was separated from it only by a few yards. Here, through two small gimlet-holes, bored for that purpose, they beheld very distinctly the features of the women, whom they described as possessing extraordinary beauty. Three of the four were Georgians, having dark complexions and very long dark hair; but the fourth was remarkably fair, and her hair, also of singular length and thickness, was of a flaxen color; neither were their teeth dyed black, as those of Turkish women generally are.

The Swedish gentleman said he was almost sure they suspected they were seen, from the address they manifested in displaying their charms and in loitering at the gate. This gave him and his friend no small degree of terror, as they would have paid for their curiosity with their lives if any such suspicion had entered the minds of the black eunuchs. He described their dresses as rich beyond all that can be imagined. Long spangled robes, open in front, with pantaloons embroidered in gold and silver, and covered by a profusion of pearls and precious stones, displayed their persons to great advantage, but were so heavy as to actually encumber their motion and almost to impede their walking. Their hair hung in loose and very thick tresses on each side of their cheeks, falling quite down to the waist, and covering their shoulders behind. Those tresses were quite powdered with diamonds, not displayed according to any studied arrangement, but as if carelessly scattered by handfuls among their flowing locks. On the top of their heads, and rather leaning to one side, they wore each of them a small circular patch or diadem. Their faces, necks, and even their breasts were quite exposed, not one of them having any veil.

The German gardener, who had daily access to different parts of the seraglio, offered to conduct us not only[Pg 105] over the gardens, but promised, if we would come singly, during the season of the Ramadan, when the guards, being up all night, would be stupefied during the day with sleep and intoxication, to undertake the greater risk of showing us the interior of the charem, or apartments of the women,—that is to say, of that part which they inhabit during the summer; for they were still in their winter chambers. We readily accepted this offer. I only solicited the further indulgence of being accompanied by a French artist of the name of Preaux, whose extraordinary promptitude in design would enable him to bring away sketches of anything we might find interesting, either in the charem or gardens of the seraglio. The apprehensions of Monsieur Preaux were, however, so great, that it was with the greatest difficulty I could prevail upon him to venture into the seraglio, and he afterwards either lost or secreted the only drawing which his fears would allow him to make while he was there.

We left Pera, in a gondola, about seven o’clock in the morning, embarking at Tophana, and steering towards that gate of the seraglio which faces the Bosporus on the southeastern side, where the entrance to the seraglio gardens and the gardener’s lodge are situated. A bostanghy, as a sort of porter, is usually seated, with his attendants, within the portal. Upon entering the seraglio, the spectator is struck by a wild and confused assemblage of great and interesting objects. Among the first of these are enormous cypresses, massive and lofty masonry, neglected and broken sarcophagi, high-rising mounds, and a long, gloomy avenue, leading from the gates of the garden between the double walls of the seraglio. This gate is the same by which the Sultanas came out for the airing before alluded to, and the gardener’s lodge is on the right hand of it. The avenue extending from it towards the west offers a broad and beautiful, although solitary, walk, to a very considerable[Pg 106] extent shut in by high walls on both sides. Directly opposite this entrance of the seraglio is a very lofty mound, or bank, covered by large trees, and traversed by terraces, over which, on the top, are walls with turrets. On the right hand, after entering, are the large wooden folding doors of the Grand Seignior’s gardens, and near them lie many fragments of ancient marbles, appropriated to the vilest purposes; among others, a sarcophagus of one block of marble, covered with a simple though unmeaning bas-relief.

Entering the gardens by the folding doors, a pleasing coup d’œil of trellis-work and covered walks is displayed, more after the taste of Holland than that of any other country. Various and very despicable jets d’eau, straight gravel-walks, and borders disposed in parallelograms, with the exception of a long greenhouse filled with orange-trees, compose all that appears in the small spot which bears the name of the seraglio gardens. The view on entering is down the principal gravel-walk, and all the walks meet at the central point, beneath a dome of the same trellis-work by which they are covered. Small fountains spout a few quarts of water into large shells, or form parachutes over lighted bougies, by the sides of the walks. The trellis-work is of wood, painted white, and covered by jasmine; and this, as it does not conceal the artificial frame by which it is supported, produces a wretched effect. On the outside of the trellis-work appear small parterres, edged with box, containing very common flowers, and adorned with fountains. On the right hand, after entering the garden, appears the magnificent kiosk, which constitutes the Sultan’s summer residence; and farther on is the orangery before mentioned, occupying the whole extent of the wall on that side.

Exactly opposite the garden gates is the door of the charem, or palace of the women belonging to the Grand[Pg 107] Seignior; a building not unlike one of the small colleges in Cambridge, and enclosing the same sort of cloistered court. One side of this building extends across the upper extremity of the garden, so that the windows look into it. Below these windows are two small greenhouses, filled with very common plants, and a number of canary-birds. Before the charem windows, on the right hand, is a ponderous, gloomy, wooden door; and this, creaking on its massive hinges, opens to the quadrangle, or interior court of the charem itself.... We will keep this door shut for a short time, in order to describe the seraglio gardens more minutely; and afterwards open it, to gratify the reader’s curiosity.

Still facing the charem on the left hand is a paved ascent, leading, through a handsome gilded iron gate, from the lower to the upper garden. Here is a kiosk, which I shall presently describe. Returning from the charem to the door by which we first entered, a lofty wall on the right hand supports a terrace with a few small parterres: these, at a considerable height above the lower garden, constitute what is now called the upper part of the seraglio; and, till within these few years, it was the only one.

Having thus completed the tour of this small and insignificant spot of ground, let us now enter the kiosk, which I first mentioned as the Sultan’s summer residence. It is situated on the sea-shore, and commands one of the finest views the eye ever beheld, of Scutari and the Asiatic coast, the mouth of the canal, and a moving picture of ships, gondolas, dolphins, birds, with all the floating pageantry of this vast metropolis, such as no other capital in the world can pretend to exhibit. The kiosk itself, fashioned after the airy fantastic style of Eastern architecture, presents a spacious chamber, covered by a dome, from which, towards the sea, advances a raised platform surrounded[Pg 108] by windows, and terminated by a divan. On the right and left are the private apartments of the Sultan and his ladies. From the centre of the dome is suspended a large lustre presented by the English ambassador. Above the raised platform hangs another lustre of a smaller size, but more elegant. Immediately over the sofas constituting the divan are mirrors engraved with Turkish inscriptions; poetry and passages from the Korân. The sofas are of white satin beautifully embroidered by the women of the seraglio.

[Our traveller proceeds to describe the various apartments visited, including the rooms devoted to the women of the seraglio, and the charem (or harem) itself. Passing through large dormitories, the great chamber of audience of the Sultan mother was reached, an apartment theatrical in adornment, and giving “a striking idea of the pomp, the seclusion, and the magnificence of the Ottoman court.”]

Beyond the great chamber of audience is the Assembly Room of the Sultan, when he is in the charem. Here we observed the magnificent lustre before mentioned. The Sultan sometimes visits this chamber during the winter, to hear music and to amuse himself with his favorites. It is surrounded by mirrors. The other ornaments display that strange mixture of magnificence and wretchedness which characterize all the state chambers of Turkish grandees. Leaving the Assembly Room by the same door through which we entered, and continuing along the passage as before, which runs parallel to the sea-shore, we at length reached what might be termed the sanctum sanctorum of this Paphian temple, the baths of the Sultan mother and the four principal Sultanas. These are small, but very elegant, constructed of white marble, and lighted by ground glass above. At the upper end is a raised sudatory and bath for the Sultan mother, concealed by lattice-work from the rest of the apartment. Fountains play constantly into[Pg 109] the floor of this bath from all its sides; and every degree of refined luxury has been added to the work which a people, above all others best versed in the ceremonies of the bath, have been capable of inventing or requiring.

Leaving the bath and returning along the passage by which we came, we entered what is called the Chamber of Repose. Nothing need be said of it, except that it commands the finest view anywhere afforded from this point of the seraglio. It forms a part of the building well known to strangers, from the circumstance of its being supported, towards the sea, by twelve columns of that beautiful and rare breccia, the viride Lacedœmonium of Pliny, called by Italians Il verde antico. These columns are of the finest quality ever seen, and each of them consists of one entire stone. The two interior pillars are of green Egyptian breccia, more beautiful than any specimen of the kind existing.

[An apartment overlooking the gardens was now reached, on attempting to leave which for the garden, they found to their consternation that the door had been locked since their entrance. A slave had entered to feed some turkeys, and fortunately the noise made by these birds enabled them to force back the lock without being heard and escape.]

We now quitted the lower garden of the seraglio and ascended by a paved road towards the chamber of the Garden of Hyacinths. This promised to be interesting, as we were told the Sultan passed almost all his private hours in that apartment, and the view of it might make us acquainted with occupations and amusements which characterize the man, divested of the outward parade of the sultan. We presently turned from the paved ascent towards the right, and entered a small garden, laid out into very neat oblong borders, edged with porcelain or Dutch tiles. Here no plant is suffered to grow except the hyacinth, whence[Pg 110] the name of this garden and the chamber it contains. We examined this apartment by looking through a window. Nothing can be more magnificent. Three sides of it were surrounded by a divan, the cushions and pillows of which were of black embroidered satin. Opposite the windows of the chamber was a fireplace, after the ordinary European fashion; and on each side of this, a door covered with hangings of crimson cloth. Between each of these doors and the fireplace appeared a glass case, containing the Sultan’s private library, every volume being in manuscript, and upon shelves, one above the other, and the title of each book written on the edges of its leaves.

From the ceiling of the room, which was of burnished gold, opposite each of the doors and also opposite to the fireplace, hung three gilt cages containing small figures of artificial birds; these sung by mechanism. In the centre of the room stood an enormous gilt brazier, supported, in a ewer, by four massive claws, like vessels seen under sideboards in England. Opposite to the entrance, on one side of the apartment, was a raised bench, crossing a door, on which were placed an embroidered napkin, a vase, and basin for washing the beard and hands. Over this bench, upon the wall, was suspended the large embroidered porte-feuille, worked with silver thread on yellow leather, which is carried in procession when the Sultan goes to mosque or elsewhere in public, to contain the petitions presented by his subjects. In a nook close to the door was also a pair of yellow boots, and on the bench, by the ewer, a pair of slippers of the same materials. These are placed at the entrance of every apartment frequented by the Sultan.

The floor was covered with Gobelin tapestry, and the ceiling, as before stated, magnificently gilded and burnished. Groups of arms, such as pistols, sabres, and poignards, were disposed with very singular taste and effect on[Pg 111] the different compartments of the walls, the handles and scabbards of which were covered with diamonds of very large size; these, as they glittered around, gave a most gorgeous effect to the splendor of this sumptuous chamber.

We had scarce ended our survey of this costly scene when, to our great dismay, a bostanghy made his appearance within the apartment, but, fortunately for us, his head was turned from the window, and we immediately sunk below it, creeping upon our hands and knees, until we got clear of the Garden of Hyacinths. Thence, ascending to the upper walks, we passed an aviary of nightingales.

The walks in the upper garden are very small, in wretched condition, and laid out in worse taste than the fore court of a Dutchman’s house in the suburbs of the Hague. Small as they are, they constituted, until lately, the whole of the seraglio gardens near the sea, and from them may be seen the whole prospect of the entrance to the canal and the opposite coast of Scutari. Here, in an old kiosk, is seen a very ordinary marble slab, supported on iron cramps; this, nevertheless, was a present from Charles the Twelfth of Sweden. It is precisely the sort of sideboard seen in the lowest inns of England; and, while it may be said no person would pay half the amount of its freight to send it back again, it shows the nature of the presents then made to the Porte by foreign princes. From these formal parterres we descended to the gardener’s lodge, and left the gardens by the gate through which we entered.

I never should have offered so copious a detail of the scenery of this remarkable place if I did not believe that an account of the interior of the seraglio would be satisfactory, from the secluded nature of the objects to which it bears reference, and the little probability there is of so favorable an opportunity being again granted to any traveller for its investigation.


[Pg 112]

ZERMATT AND ITS SCENERY.

STANLEY HOPE.

[They who would see Swiss scenery at its best will not fail to visit Zermatt, and thither went the traveller from whom we now quote. What he saw there, and what makes Zermatt worth visiting, we leave it to him to relate.]

It has been said that one may ascend the Gorner Grat a hundred times and yet not obtain a clear view of the mountains. If this be true, I was exceptionally fortunate in the day I selected for the ascent. Four days of perfectly unclouded weather followed my advent in the marvellous valley of Zermatt, and as the district is somewhat removed from the more frequented tracks, and has, perhaps, been less often described, I venture on a slight record of what I saw in the short time at my disposal.

For, in spite of the facilities of travel in these days of railways and steamboats, in spite of all that has been written on the subject, Switzerland is still a terra incognita to the great mass of English people. The majesty of its mountains, the fragrance of its pine forests, the richness of its valleys, are still as a sealed book to the multitude. A great proportion even of those who have the means are content to live and die without gazing on these most marvellous works of God’s hand, although they may become acquainted with them for a sum which a man would willingly pay for a quarter cask of dinner sherry, or a woman for a new silk dress.

Zermatt, the crowning glory of the Alps, is somewhat difficult of access. Coming from England, it is best to go by rail straight to Sierre, and thence by diligence or private[Pg 113] conveyance to Visp, some seventeen miles farther up the Rhone valley. Here it is better to shoulder one’s knapsack, for there is no carriage road for the first twelve miles of the Visp-Thal, which leads to Zermatt, though the mule-path is exceptionally good.

Visp itself is an interesting spot. It is beautifully situated in the Rhone valley at the point where the river, bearing the same name, comes foaming down from the Gorner glacier, twenty-seven miles away. The river flows into the Rhone near this point with a volume almost as great as the Rhone itself. The little town was once a place of great importance. The houses on the heights, which still bear traces of the earthquake of 1855, were formerly the palaces of the princes of the Valais. The church, which stands on an eminence above the river, is a most interesting building, sadly neglected by guide-books, and, consequently, by tourists. It is built on the remains of a Roman temple. There is a picturesque Roman gate-way, with time-worn marble columns, which certainly ought not to be passed over; and in the charnel-house, exposed to the church-yard, is a ghastly array of many hundred human skulls ranged in tiers against the inner wall.

In company with a friend who had been my companion in many previous mountain rambles, I trudged up to St. Nicolaus in the cool of the afternoon. It is a walk of four and a half hours from Visp. The path skirts the mountain-side, with the river foaming in its rocky bed many hundred feet below. St. Nicolaus is a village, with a huge hotel situated in the midst of pastures where the valley widens, with a church whose metallic steeple shines miles and miles away like silver, and whose bells jingle out the quaintest chimes it was ever my lot to hear. We arrived at sunset, and were rejoiced to find we could get beds, for the valley was undergoing a perfect invasion of tourists, and the[Pg 114] pedestrian was likely to fare badly who had not previously telegraphed to secure quarters in advance.

All that night the summer lightning flashed among the crags, and the thunder boomed far down the sleeping valley; but the clouds lifted a little in the morning, and at an early hour we were wending our way along the excellent carriage-road which exists between St. Nicolaus and Zermatt. Our hearts were elated with anticipation, for we knew we were within a few miles of that most majestic, and, from association, most melancholy, of all Swiss mountains, the Matterhorn. The turn of the road near Zermatt was to reveal it to us, and eagerly we watched the heavy masses of vapor as they swept down the mountain-side, shutting out the Weisshorn on our right, and even the Bies glacier far below it, fearing, after all, that the glorious spectacle would be denied us, for this day at least, but little anticipating the wondrous effect under which we subsequently obtained our first clear view of the renowned peak.

Denser and denser grew the vapors, and when at length the moment arrived which we had anticipated for so many days, we were destined to be disappointed. The driving mist only revealed to us for one brief moment the rocks at the base of the mighty mountain, though this base is fixed some four thousand feet above the village of Zermatt.

THE LION MONUMENT, LUCERNE THE LION MONUMENT, LUCERNE

[Pg 115]

This little village, situated in the midst of lovely green pastures, in an amphitheatre of mighty peaks, and at an altitude of over five thousand feet above the sea, would be one of the most attractive spots on earth but for its dirt. Were it not for the palliatives offered by its two excellent hotels, Monte Rosa and Monte Cervin, both kept by the world-renowned M. Seiler, the dirt and the odors of Zermatt would be unbearable. To our great dismay, we found on our arrival that there was no possible accommodation at either of the hotels. The rain was beginning to fall; we were tired and hungry. To go on to the Riffel Hotel, three thousand one hundred and thirteen feet above Zermatt itself, seemed an absurdity in such weather; for there, at an elevation of over eight thousand feet, we should be enveloped in the denser vapors above, and half frozen into the bargain. We sought the salle-ŕ-manger, and consoled ourselves with cutlets and Beaujolais. There we held serious counsel together, and lit our pipes and sallied forth to inspect the prospect outside. We went first to the little church where, side by side, lie two of the victims of the Matterhorn accident, Hudson and Hadow, and on the other side of the church the remains of poor Michael Croz, the guide. The body of Lord Francis Douglas, who also perished on that occasion, was never found. It is supposed that it is still suspended among the awful and inaccessible crags on the side of the mountain where they fell.

We sauntered on beyond the village, and sat down in a melancholy mood on a broken rail to consider our position. Through a rift in the clouds we could make out the Riffel Hotel on the bare mountain-side, high above the pine-woods on our left. “Should we go on, in spite of wind and weather?” It would be so much gained, at least in the event of a change for the better. We hastened back to the hotel. “Did they think we could get accommodation at the Riffel, if we went up?” “Yes; they were sure we should get mattresses in the salon, at all events.” So on we went, over the first bridge beyond the village, past the little church of Winkelmatten, and then up the steep path through the pine-woods. From the openings between the trees we soon began to look down upon the foot of the Gorner glacier, and the fine waterfall of the Visp rushing out from its icy cradle, which, by some strange freak of nature, occurs at a point many hundred feet above the foot[Pg 116] of the glacier, the two torrents flowing side by side, the one flashing, foaming, and leaping, with all the quick impulsiveness of life, the other cold, silent, and irresistible as the advancing footsteps of death.

In due course we reached the chalets on the Augstkummenmatt, and were clear of the pine-woods. Here the rain became sleet, and the bare slopes of short grass around were rapidly putting on a mantle of white. The vapors drove in thick folds over the dreary waste of the Theodule glacier to our right, and for a moment now and then the frowning eastern face of the Matterhorn loomed through the clouds, but only to disappear once more behind still denser masses of vapor.

We were glad at length to reach the broad terrace of the mountain upon which stands the Riffel Hotel, and to receive an assurance from the obliging proprietress—M. Seiler’s sister—that she would do the best she could for us, though bedrooms were out of the question.

The air was intensely keen. The water, when we essayed to wash our hands, was of an icy temperature, and we put on whatever extra clothing we could abstract from our knapsacks. An excellent table-d’hôte, however, soon set us right; and a brisk walk after dark up and down the plateau in front of the hotel, in company with the newly-arrived English clergyman, who had undertaken the duties of chaplain at the hotel for three or four Sundays, brought the day to an agreeable close.

The chaplain, who was anxious to obtain some information as to the usual length and style of service, had made the acquaintance of the King of the Riffel, as he is called, an English gentleman, who passes several months every season in this elevated region, and considers it the most enjoyable spot in Europe. He was somewhat emphatic in his directions to the chaplain to make the service and[Pg 117] sermon as short as possible, and on no account to attempt any singing. “For,” he continued, “there being no instrument of any kind, everybody sings a different tune, and sings out of tune as well, the effect being disastrous. Last Sunday a man, with a perversity of judgment I never saw equalled, produced a flute, and as he played at a pitch which no human voice could sustain, and as everybody tried to follow, you may imagine what the din was like.”

We had been informed that there were twenty-nine people in the house, including ourselves, unprovided with beds, and that we were to be accommodated on the table in the salle-ŕ-manger. The prospect was not agreeable, and we lingered in the warm salon until half-past ten, by which time the ladies had all retired. Presently a small army of maid-servants marched into the room with folding iron bedsteads, mattresses, blankets, and sheets. To our huge delight, four comfortable beds were made in as many minutes, and we were informed that two other gentlemen and ourselves were to be the only occupants of the room. The tables, with white cloths spread upon them, were converted into wash-stands, and plenty of rugs were brought to do duty as counterpanes. Nothing could be more comfortable. We went to bed in perfect luxury, not, however, before taking a last look from the front door in the direction of the Matterhorn, and finding, to our great delight, that the summit of the mountain was at last clearly defined above a line of motionless clouds, and that the stars were twinkling brightly overhead.

Our two companions in the salon were young Americans, who were to depart early the next morning for the Cima di Jazi. They were astir by daybreak, and, roused by their departure, I found it impossible to go to sleep again. After tossing restlessly for an hour, I rose, and, on going to the window, beheld the glorious snows of[Pg 118] the Breithorn flushed with the coming sunlight rising just above the shoulder of the mountain near the hotel. Rousing my companion, and dressing as rapidly as possible, I made for the door of the hotel, and stepped out upon the terrace. I had looked upon many scenes of grandeur and beauty in many parts of Switzerland, from the Rigi, from Pilatus, from Mürren, from the Lauberhorn, but never in all my experience had I witnessed a scene like that which lay before me. There was not a speck in all the blue vault of heaven. The frosty air was so clear that distance was annihilated. Right before me, separated only from the steep slope on which I stood by the deep valley in which lie the Gorner and Furggen glaciers, rose the majestic Matterhorn, a silent solitary pinnacle of bare rock, five thousand feet from base to summit, enthroned upon a pinnacle of snow and ice, which is itself ten thousand feet from the ocean level, standing aloof, and seeming to frown defiance on its fellows, which lay grouped around on every side. The rosy glow of sunrise pervaded it now,—an intense liquid light, which revealed its furrowed sides, its seams of snow, its overhanging brow, its ice-bound feet, its treacherous chasms, its awful precipices,—and softened its asperity into a loveliness which held us spell-bound for many minutes.

We knew there were other wonders to be seen around, but it was difficult to withdraw our eyes from this most remarkable of all mountain forms. Slowly we let them wander more to the northward, beyond the valley wherein lies the Z’Mutt glacier which separates the Matterhorn from the Dent Blanche, and the magnificent range of peaks stretching away towards the Rhone Valley. All these were illuminated by the same lovely light, forming a barrier of gold on the west side of the Visp Valley, which stretched before us as far as the distant Bietchhorn. Opposite these,[Pg 119] bounding the valley on the east, were the not less majestic ranges of the Mischabel group, over which the sunlight streamed in long level rays, and between—at least a thousand feet below us—lay a vast, silent, undulating mass of pale gray clouds, blotting out the valley beneath with one unbroken sea of vapor twenty-five miles long, upon which the shadows of the eastern mountains were distended as distinctly as upon a solid plain. “Thank heaven that we came up!” we both ejaculated. Zermatt and all the valley below must have been shrouded in semi-darkness, while we, far above the clouds, seemed lifted to another sphere, where the atmosphere was so infinitely pure, the silence so solemn and intense, that we almost feared to speak lest we should break the spell which wrapped this mystic world of wonder and unspeakable delight.

Within half an hour we are en route for the Gorner Grat, a rocky point which still lay eighteen feet above us, and which we attained after an easy walk of an hour and a half. The ground was frozen hard as we mounted slope after slope of short grass and rock, and the miniature lakes which lay here and there in the hollows near the path were coated with ice to the thickness of half an inch. The August sun, however, rising above the ridges in front of us, soon dispelled the frosty breath of night, and before we reached the summit of the Grat we were glad to draw down the broad brims of our hats to shield our faces from the rays, which in the pure dry atmosphere of this altitude—over ten thousand feet—seemed to scorch and blister the skin.

The Gorner Grat is one of the very few spots in the Alps where one can obtain an elevation of over ten thousand feet without the slightest semblance of a difficulty. The path is good and well defined the whole way, and the panorama quite unsurpassed. It is remarkable, from the[Pg 120] fact that there is an unbroken range of magnificent snow peaks on every side. There is not a single break in the chain. It is an isolated rocky peak that seems formed by nature to enable one to survey at leisure the marvellous scene around. The huge Gorner glacier winds round its base at a dizzy depth below; beyond, are the snows of that glorious range beginning with Monte Rosa (which seems within a stone’s throw) and ending with the Matterhorn....

We lingered long in this wonderful spot. A batch of morning tourists came and gazed around for ten minutes, and was succeeded by another and another, but as the day wore on they grew few and far between, and we were at length left entirely alone, wrapped in that intense and awful stillness which at times pervades these mighty solitudes, broken only at long intervals by the sudden rush of an avalanche on the steep slopes of Monte Rosa or the low hum of a wild bee, attracted to this far height by the fervid noonday beams. We wandered along the ridge stretching towards the Stockhorn, where the gentian and other exquisite wild flowers which flourish at this elevation grow in the greatest profusion, peering up through patches of snow in shady nooks. Then we returned, and found new beauties in the panorama, which in the fierce sunlight became almost too dazzling for the eye to rest on. At last we turned away reluctantly, with another recollection for a lifetime,—another “joy forever” stored within the cells of memory....

A few days later we resolved on a closer acquaintance with the mountain which had attracted our admiration from so many points of view in the neighborhood. The Matterhorn seems to dominate the whole district of Zermatt like a pervading spirit. It is difficult to lose sight of it. Through rifts in the pine-wood, over grassy bluffs,[Pg 121] from the depths of dark ravines, from one’s chamber window, the giant peak is seen piercing the blue air above. The play of light and shadow upon it as the hours roll by is in itself a study. Facing the earliest beams, as the sun rises out of a tossing ocean of Alpine peaks, it stands proudly up, a pinnacle of burnished gold with scarce a speck of shade to dim its lustre. As noon approaches, the gloom gathers on the precipitous northern face until the mid-day shadow falls with a cool blue-black on the white upper snows of the Matterhorn glacier. By and by, when the sun has passed to the west, the great shadowy mass rises in gloomy grandeur against the evening sky, and still later the northwest ridges are fringed with the lustre of sunset, ere they wrap themselves in the dusky robe of night.


ALPINE MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.

EDWARD WHYMPER.

[The Matterhorn, one of the most difficult of the Alps to ascend, defied the efforts of mountaineers until 1865, when Whymper, with three companions and three guides, reached its summit. The victory, however, was a tragic one, as the three companions and one of the guides fell down a precipice and met their death. Whymper had made various earlier efforts to ascend. We give his story of one such effort, made at an earlier date.]

Three times I had essayed the ascent of this mountain, and on each occasion had failed ignominiously. I had not advanced a yard beyond my predecessors. Up to the height of nearly thirteen thousand feet there were no extraordinary difficulties: the way so far might even become “a matter of amusement.” Only eighteen hundred feet remained, but they were as yet untrodden, and might[Pg 122] present the most formidable obstacles. No man could expect to climb them by himself. A morsel of rock only seven feet high might at any time defeat him if it were perpendicular. Such a place might be possible to two, or a bagatelle to three men. It was evident that a party should consist of three men at least. But where could the other two men be obtained? Carrel was the only man who exhibited any enthusiasm in the matter, and he in 1861 had absolutely refused to go unless the party consisted of at least four persons. Want of men made the difficulty, not the mountain.

The weather became bad again, so I went to Zermatt on the chance of picking up a man, and remained there during a week of storms. Not one of the good men, however, could be induced to come, and I returned to Breuil on the 17th, hoping to combine the skill of Carrel with the willingness of Meynet on a new attempt by the same route as before; for the Hörnli ridge, which I had examined in the mean time, seemed to be entirely impracticable. Both men were inclined to go, but their ordinary occupations prevented them from starting at once.

My tent had been left rolled up at the second platform, and whilst waiting for the men it occurred to me that it might have been blown away during the late stormy weather; so I started off on the 18th to see if this were so or not. The way was by this time familiar, and I mounted rapidly, astonishing the friendly herdsmen,—who nodded recognition as I flitted past them and the cows,—for I was alone, because no man was available. But more deliberation was necessary when the pastures were passed and climbing began, for it was needful to mark each step in case of mist or surprise by night. It is one of the few things which can be said in favor of mountaineering alone (a practice which has little besides to commend it) that it awakens a[Pg 123] man’s faculties and makes him observe. When one has no arms to help and no head to guide him except his own, he must needs take note even of small things, for he cannot afford to throw away a chance; and so it came to pass upon my solitary scramble, when above the snow-line and beyond the ordinary limits of flowering plants, when peering about noting angles and landmarks, that my eyes fell upon the tiny straggling plants,—oftentimes a single flower on a single stalk,—pioneers of vegetation, atoms of life in a world of desolation, which had found their way up—who can tell how?—from far below, and were obtaining bare sustenance from the scanty soil in protected nooks; and it gave a new interest to the well-known rocks to see what a gallant fight the survivors made (for many must have perished in the attempt) to ascend the great mountain. The gentian, as one might have expected, was there, but it was run close by saxifrages and by Linaria alpina, and was beaten by Thlaspi rotundifolium; which latter plant was the highest I was able to secure, although it too was overtopped by a little white flower which I knew not and was unable to reach....

Time sped away unregarded, and the little birds which had built their nests on the neighboring cliffs had begun to chirp their evening hymn before I thought of returning. Half mechanically, I turned to the tent, unrolled it and set it up: it contained food enough for several days, and I resolved to stay over the night. I had started from Breuil without provisions or telling Favre, the innkeeper, who was accustomed to my erratic ways, where I was going. I returned to the view. The sun was setting, and its rosy rays, blending with the snowy blue, had thrown a pale, pure violet far as the eye could see; the valleys were drowned in a purple gloom, while the summits shone with unnatural brightness; and as I sat in the door of the tent[Pg 124] and watched the twilight change to darkness, the earth seemed to become less earthly and almost sublime: the world seemed dead, and I its sole inhabitant. By and by the moon, as it rose, brought the hills again into sight, and by a judicious repression of detail rendered the view yet more magnificent. Something in the south hung like a great glow-worm in the air: it was too large for a star, and too steady for a meteor, and it was long before I could realize the incredible fact that it was the moonlight glittering on the great snow-slope on the north side of Monte Viso, at a distance, as the crow flies, of ninety-eight miles. Shivering, at last I entered the tent and made my coffee. The night was passed comfortably, and the next morning, tempted by the brilliancy of the weather, I proceeded yet higher in search of another place for a platform....

The rocks of the southwest ridge are by no means difficult for some distance above the Col du Lion. This is true of the rocks up to the level of the Chimney, but they steepen when that is passed, and remaining smooth and with but few fractures, and still continuing to dip outward, present some steps of a very uncertain kind, particularly when they are glazed with ice. At this point (just above the Chimney) the climber is obliged to follow the southern (or Breuil) side of the ridge, but in a few feet more one must turn over to the northern (or Z’Mutt) side, where in most years Nature kindly provides a snow-slope. When this is surmounted, one can again return to the crest of the ridge, and follow it by easy rocks to the foot of the Great Tower. This was the highest point attained by Mr. Hawkins in 1860, and it was also our highest on the 9th of July.

KLEINE SCHEIDEGG (The Jungfrau) KLEINE SCHEIDEGG (The Jungfrau)

[Pg 125]

This Great Tower is one of the most striking features of the ridge. It stands out like a turret at the angle of a castle. Behind it a battlemented wall leads upward to the citadel. Seen from the Théodule pass, it looks only an insignificant pinnacle, but as one approaches it (on the ridge), so it seems to rise, and when one is at its base it completely conceals the upper parts of the mountain. I found here a suitable place for the tent, which, although not so well protected as the second platform, possessed the advantage of being three hundred feet higher up; and fascinated by the wildness of the cliffs, and enticed by the perfection of the weather, I went on to see what was behind.

The first step was a difficult one: the ridge became diminished to the least possible width, it was hard to keep one’s balance, and just where it was narrowest a more than perpendicular mass barred the way. Nothing fairly within arm’s reach could be laid hold of: it was necessary to spring up, and then to haul one’s self over the sharp edge by sheer strength. Progression directly upward was then impossible. Enormous and appalling precipices plunged down to the Tiefenmatten glacier on the left, but round the right-hand side it was just possible to go. One hinderance then succeeded another, and much time was consumed in seeking the way. I have a vivid recollection of a gully of more than usual perplexity at the side of the Great Tower, with minute ledges and steep walls; of the ledges dwindling down, and at last ceasing; of finding myself, with arms and legs divergent, fixed as if crucified, pressing against the rock, and feeling each rise and fall of my chest as I breathed; of screwing my head round to look for a hold and not seeing any, and of jumping sideways on to the other side....

[The gully] was an untrodden vestibule, which led to a scene so wild that even the most sober description of it must seem an exaggeration. There was a change in the quality of the rock, and there was a change in the appearance of the ridge. The rocks (talcose gneiss) below this[Pg 126] spot were singularly firm,—it was rarely necessary to test one’s hold: the way led over the living rock, and not up rent-off fragments. But here all was decay and ruin. The crest of the ridge was shattered and cleft, and the feet sank in the chips which had drifted down; while above, huge blocks, hacked and carved by the hand of time, nodded to the sky, looking like the gravestones of giants. Out of curiosity I wandered to a notch in the ridge, between two tottering piles of immense masses which seemed to need but a few pounds on one or the other side to make them fall, so nicely poised that they would literally have rocked in the wind, for they were put in motion by a touch, and based on support so frail that I wondered they did not collapse before my eyes. In the whole range of my Alpine experience I have seen nothing more striking than this desolate, ruined, and shattered ridge at the back of the Great Tower. I have seen stranger shapes,—rocks which mimic the human form, with monstrous leering faces, and isolated pinnacles sharper and greater than any here,—but I have never seen exhibited so impressively the tremendous effects which may be produced by frost, and by the long-continued action of forces whose individual effects are imperceptible.

It is needless to say that it is impossible to climb by the crest of the ridge at this part; still, one is compelled to keep near to it, for there is no other way. Generally speaking, the angles on the Matterhorn are too steep to allow the formation of considerable beds of snow, but here there is a corner which permits it to accumulate, and it is turned to gratefully, for by its assistance one can ascend four times as rapidly as upon the rocks.

The Tower was now almost out of sight, and I looked over the central Pennine Alps to the Grand Combin and to the chain of Mont Blanc. My neighbor, the Dent d’Hérens,[Pg 127] still rose above me, although but slightly, and the height which had been attained could be measured by its help. So far, I had no doubts about my capacity to descend that which had been ascended; but in a short time, on looking ahead, I saw that the cliffs steepened, and I turned back (without pushing on to them and getting into inextricable difficulties), exulting in the thought that they would be passed when we returned together, and that I had without assistance got nearly to the height of the Dent d’Hérens, and considerably higher than any one had been before. My exultation was a little premature.

About five P.M. I left the tent again, and thought myself as good as at Breuil. The friendly rope and claw had done good service, and had smoothed all the difficulties. I lowered myself through the Chimney, however, by making a fixture of the rope, which I then cut off and left behind, as there was enough and to spare. My axe had proved a great nuisance in coming down, and I left it in the tent. It was not attached to the bâton, but was a separate affair,—an old navy boarding-axe. While cutting up the different snow-beds on the ascent, the bâton trailed behind fastened to the rope; and when climbing the axe was carried behind, run through the rope tied round my waist, and was sufficiently out of the way, but in descending, when coming down face outward (as is always best where it is possible), the head or the handle of the weapon caught frequently against the rocks, and several times nearly upset me. So, out of laziness if you will, it was left in the tent. I paid dearly for the imprudence.

The Col du Lion was passed, and fifty yards more would have placed me on the “Great Staircase,” down which one can run. But on arriving at an angle of the cliffs of the Tęte du Lion, while skirting the upper edge of the snow which abuts against them, I found that the heat of the two[Pg 128] past days had nearly obliterated the steps which had been cut when coming up. The rocks happened to be impracticable just at this corner, so nothing could be done except make the steps afresh. The snow was too hard to beat or tread down, and at the angle it was all but ice: half a dozen steps only were required, and then the ledges could be followed again. So I held to the rock with my right hand, and prodded at the snow with the point of my stick until a good step was made, and then, leaning round the angle, did the same for the other side. So far well, but in attempting to pass the corner (to the present moment I cannot tell how it happened) I slipped and fell.

The slope was steep on which this took place, and descended to the top of a gully that led down through two subordinate buttresses towards the Glacier du Lion, which was just seen, a thousand feet below. The gully narrowed and narrowed until there was a mere thread of snow lying between two walls of rock, which came to an abrupt termination at the top of a precipice that intervened between it and the glacier. Imagine a funnel cut in half through its length, placed at an angle of forty-five degrees, with its point below and its concave side uppermost, and you will have a fair idea of the place.

The knapsack brought my head down first, and I pitched into some rocks about a dozen feet below: they caught something, and tumbled me off the edge, head over heels, into the gully. The bâton was dashed from my hands, and I whirled downward in a series of bounds, each longer than the last,—now over ice, now into rocks,—striking my head four or five times, each time with increased force. The last bound sent me spinning through the air, in a leap of fifty or sixty feet, from one side of the gully to the other, and I struck the rocks, luckily, with the whole of my left side. They caught my clothes for a moment, and[Pg 129] I fell back on to the snow with motion arrested: my head fortunately came the right side up, and a few frantic catches brought me to a halt in the neck of the gully and on the verge of the precipice. Bâton, hat, and veil skimmed by and disappeared, and the crash of the rocks which I had started, as they fell on to the glacier, told how narrow had been the escape from utter destruction. As it was, I fell nearly two hundred feet in seven or eight bounds. Ten feet more would have taken me in one gigantic leap of eight hundred feet on to the glacier below.

The situation was still sufficiently serious. The rocks could not be left go for a moment, and the blood was spurting out of more than twenty cuts. The most serious ones were in the head, and I vainly tried to close them with one hand while holding on with the other. It was useless: the blood jerked out in blinding jets at each pulsation. At last, in a moment of inspiration, I kicked out a big lump of snow and stuck it as a plaster on my head. The idea was a happy one, and the flow of blood diminished: then, scrambling up, I got, not a moment too soon, to a place of safety and fainted away. The sun was setting when consciousness returned, and it was pitch dark before the Great Staircase was descended; but by a combination of luck and care the whole four thousand eight hundred feet of descent to Breuil was accomplished without a slip or once missing the way.

I slunk past the cabin of the cowherds, who were talking and laughing inside, utterly ashamed of the state to which I had been brought by my imbecility, and entered the inn stealthily, wishing to escape to my room unnoticed. But Favre met me in the passage, demanded, “Who is it?” screamed with fright when he got a light, and aroused the household. Two dozen heads then held solemn council over mine, with more talk than action. The natives were[Pg 130] unanimous in recommending that hot wine (syn. vinegar), mixed with salt, should be rubbed into the cuts. I protested, but they insisted. It was all the doctoring they received. Whether their rapid healing was to be attributed to that simple remedy or to a good state of health, is a question; they closed up remarkably soon, and in a few days I was able to move again....

As it seldom happens that one survives such a fall, it may be interesting to record what my sensations were during its occurrence. I was perfectly conscious of what was happening, and felt each blow, but, like a patient under chloroform, experienced no pain. Each blow was, naturally, more severe than that which preceded it, and I distinctly remember thinking, “Well, if the next is harder still, that will be the end!” Like persons who have been rescued from drowning, I remember that the recollection of a multitude of things rushed through my head, many of them trivialities or absurdities which had been forgotten long before; and, more remarkable, this bounding through space did not feel disagreeable. But I think that in no very great distance more consciousness as well as sensation would have been lost, and upon that I base my belief, improbable as it seems, that death by a fall from a great height is as painless an end as can be experienced.

The battering was very rough, yet no bones were broken. The most severe cuts were, one four inches long on the top of the head, and another of three inches on the right temple; this latter bled frightfully. There was a formidable-looking cut, of about the same size as the last, on the palm of the left hand, and every limb was grazed or cut more or less seriously. The tips of the ears were taken off, and a sharp rock cut a circular bit out of the side of the left boot, sock, and ankle at one stroke. The loss of blood, although so great, did not seem to be permanently[Pg 131] injurious. The only serious effect has been the reduction of a naturally retentive memory to a very commonplace one; and although my recollections of more distant occurrences remain unshaken, the events of that particular day would be clean gone but for the few notes which were written down before the accident.


A TYPICAL DUTCH CITY.

EDMONDO DE AMICIS.

[De Amicis, a traveller of Italian birth, has given us a number of highly interesting records of travel, including works on Algeria, Spain, Holland, Paris, Constantinople, etc. Among these, “Holland and its People” is perhaps the most entertaining, and as a specimen of its manner we select from it the description of Rotterdam, as a typical example of a Dutch city. This selection is from the translation by Caroline Tilton, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.]

When we arrived in sight of Rotterdam it rained and was foggy; we could see, as through a veil, only an immense confusion of ships, houses, windmills, towers, trees, and people in motion on the dykes and bridges; there were lights everywhere; a great city with such an aspect as I had never seen before, and which fog and darkness soon hid from me altogether. When I had taken leave of my travelling companions, and had put my luggage in order, it was night. “So much the better,” I thought, as I entered a carriage; “I shall see the first Dutch city by night, which must be a strange spectacle.” And, indeed, when M. Bismarck was at Rotterdam he wrote to his wife that at night he saw spectres on the roofs.

It is difficult to make much of the city of Rotterdam, entering it at night. The carriage passed almost immediately[Pg 132] over a bridge that resounded hollowly beneath it; and while I thought myself, and was, in fact, within the city, I saw with amazement on my right and left two rows of ships vanishing in the gloom.

Leaving the bridge, we passed through a street, lighted, and full of people, and found ourselves upon another bridge, and between two rows of vessels as before, and so on from bridge to street, from street to bridge, and, to increase the confusion, an illumination of lamps at the corners of houses, lanterns on masts of ships, light-houses on the bridges, small lights under the houses, and all these lights reflected in the water. All at once the carriage stopped, people crowded about; I looked out and saw a bridge in the air. In answer to my question, some one said that a vessel was passing. We went on again, seeing a perspective of canals and bridges crossing and recrossing each other, until we came to a great square, sparkling with lights, and bristling with masts of ships, and finally we reached our inn in an adjacent street.

My first care on entering my room was to see whether Dutch cleanliness deserved its fame. It did, indeed, and may be called the religion of cleanliness. The linen was snow-white, the windows transparent as the air, the furniture shining like a crystal, the floors so clean that a microscope could not discover a black speck. There was a basket for waste paper, a tablet for scratching matches, a dish for cigar-ashes, a box for cigar-stumps, a spittoon, and a boot-jack; in short, there was no possible pretext for soiling anything.

My room examined, I spread a map of Rotterdam upon the table, and made some preparatory studies for the morrow.

It is a singular thing that the great cities of Holland, although built upon a shifting soil, and amid difficulties of[Pg 133] every kind, have all great regularity of form. Amsterdam is a semicircle, the Hague square, Rotterdam an equilateral triangle. The base of the triangle is an immense dyke, which defends the city from the Meuse, and is called the Boompjes, signifying, in Dutch, small trees, from a row of little elms, now very tall, that were planted when it was first constructed.

Another great dyke forms a second bulwark against the river, which divides the city into two almost equal parts, and from the middle of the left side to the opposite angle. That part of Rotterdam which is comprised between the dykes is all canals, islands, and bridges, and is the new city; that which extends beyond the second dyke is the old city. Two great canals extend along the other two sides of the town to the apex, where they meet, and receive the waters of the river Rotte, which, with the affix of dam, or dyke, gives its name to the city.

Having thus fulfilled my conscientious duty as a traveller, and with many precautions not to soil, even by a breath, the purity of that jewel of a chamber, I abandoned myself with humility to my first Dutch bed.

Dutch beds—I speak of those in the hotels—are generally short and wide, and occupied, in a great part, by an immense feather pillow in which a giant’s head would be overwhelmed. I may add that the ordinary light is a copper candlestick, of the size of a dinner-plate, which might sustain a torch, but holds, instead, a tiny candle about the size of a Spanish lady’s finger.

In the morning I made haste to rise and issue forth into the strange streets, unlike anything in Europe. The first I saw was the Hoog Straat, a long, straight thoroughfare, running along the interior dyke.

The unplastered houses, of every shade of brick, from the darkest red to light rose-color, chiefly two windows[Pg 134] wide and two stories high, have the front wall rising above and concealing the roof, and in the shape of a blunt triangle surmounted by a parapet. Some of these pointed façades rise into two curves, like a long neck without a head; some are cut into steps like the houses that children build with blocks; some present the aspect of a conical pavilion, some of a village church, some of theatrical cabins. The parapets are in general surrounded by white stripes, coarse arabesques in plaster, and other ornaments in very bad taste; the doors and windows are bordered by broad white stripes; other white lines divide the different stories; the spaces between the doors in front are marked by white wooden panels, so that two colors, white and red, prevail everywhere, and as in the distance the darker red looks black, the prospect is half festive, half funereal, all the houses looking as if they were hung with white linen. At first I had an inclination to laugh, for it seemed impossible that it could have been done seriously, and that quite sober people lived in those houses. They looked as if they had been run up for a festival, and would presently disappear, like the paper frame-work of a grand display of fireworks.

While I stood looking vaguely at the street, I noticed one house that puzzled me somewhat; and, thinking that my eyes had been deceived, I looked more carefully at it, and compared it with its neighbors. Turning into the next street, the same thing met my astonished gaze. There is no doubt about it: the whole city of Rotterdam presents the appearance of a town that has been shaken smartly by an earthquake, and is on the point of falling into ruin.

A TYPICAL DUTCH WINDMILL A TYPICAL DUTCH WINDMILL

[Pg 135]

All the houses—in any street one may count the exceptions on their fingers—lean more or less, but the greater part of them so much that at the roof they lean forward at least a foot beyond their neighbors, which may be straight, or not so visibly inclined; one leans forward as if it would fall into the street; another backward, another to the left, another to the right; at some points six or seven contiguous houses all lean forward together, those in the middle most, those at the ends less, looking like a paling with the crowd pressing against it. At another point two houses lean together as if supporting one another. In certain streets the houses for a long distance lean all one way, like trees beaten by a prevailing wind; and then another long row will lean in the opposite direction, as if the wind had changed. Sometimes there is a certain regularity of inclination that is scarcely noticeable; and again, at crossings and in the smallest streets there is an indescribable confusion of lines, a real architectural frolic, a dance of houses, a disorder that seems animated. There are houses that nod forward as if asleep, others that start backward as if frightened; some bending towards each other, their roofs almost touching, as if in secret conference; some falling upon one another as if they were drunk; some leaning backward between others that lean forward like malefactors dragged onward by their guards; rows of houses that courtesy to a steeple, groups of small houses all inclined towards one in the middle, like conspirators in conclave.

Observe them attentively one by one, from top to bottom, and they are interesting as pictures.

In some, upon the summit of the façade, there projects from the middle of the parapet a beam with cord and pulley to pull up baskets and buckets. In others, jutting from a round window, is the carved head of a deer, a sheep, or a goat. Under the head, a line of whitewashed stone or wood cuts the whole façade in half. Under this line there are two broad windows with projecting awnings of striped linen. Under these again, over the upper panes, a little green curtain. Below this green curtain two white ones,[Pg 136] divided in the middle to show a suspended bird-cage or a basket of flowers. And below the basket or the cage, the lower panes are covered by a net-work of fine wire that prevents the passer-by from seeing into the room. Within, behind the netting, there stands a table covered with objects in porcelain, crystal, flowers, and toys of various kinds. Outside on the stone sill is a row of small flower-pots. From the stone sill or from one side projects an iron stem curving upward, which sustains two small mirrors joined in the form of a book, movable, and surmounted by another, also movable, so that those inside the house can see, without being seen, everything that passes in the street.

On some of the houses there is a lamp projecting between the two windows, and below is the door of the house or a shop door. If it is a shop, over the door there is the carved head of a Moor with his mouth wide open, or that of a Turk with a hideous grimace; sometimes there is an elephant or a goose; sometimes a horse’s or a bull’s head, a serpent, a half-moon, a windmill, or an arm extended, the hand holding some object of the kind sold in the shop. If it is the house-door,—always kept closed,—there is a brass plate with the name of the occupant, another with a slit for letters, another with the handle of a bell, the whole, including the locks and bolts, shining like gold. Before the door there is a small bridge of wood, because in many of the houses the ground-floor or basement is much lower than the street; and before the bridge two little stone columns surmounted by two balls; two more columns in front of these are united by iron chains, the large links of which are in the form of crosses, stars, and polygons; in the space between the street and the house are pots of flowers; and at the windows of the ground-floor more flower-pots and curtains. In the more retired streets there[Pg 137] are bird-cages on both sides of the windows, boxes full of green growing things, clothes hung out to air or dry, a thousand objects and colors, like a universal fair.

But without going out of the older town, one need only to go away from the centre to see something new at every step.

In some narrow, straight streets one may see the end suddenly closed as if by a curtain concealing the view; but it disappears as it came, and is recognized as the sail of a vessel moving in a canal. In other streets a net-work of cordage seems to stop the way; the rigging of vessels lying in some basin. In one direction there is a drawbridge raised, and looking like a gigantic swing provided for the diversion of the people who live in those preposterous houses; and in another there is a windmill, tall as a steeple and black as an antique tower, moving its arms like a monstrous firework. On every side, finally, among the houses, above the roofs, between the distant trees, are seen masts of vessels, flags, and sails and rigging, reminding us that we are surrounded by water, and that the city is a seaport.

Meantime, the shops were opened and the streets became full of people. There was great animation, but no hurry, the absence of which distinguishes the streets of Rotterdam from those of London, between which some travellers find great resemblance, especially in the color of the houses and the grave aspect of the inhabitants. White faces, pallid faces, faces the color of Parmesan cheese; light hair, very light hair, reddish, yellowish; broad beardless visages, beards under the chin and around the neck; blue eyes, so light as to seem almost without a pupil; women stumpy, fat, rosy, slow, with white caps and ear-rings in the form of corkscrews,—these are the first things one observes in the crowd.

[Pg 138]

But for the moment it was not the people that first stimulated my curiosity. I crossed the Hoog Street, and found myself in the new city. Here it is impossible to say if it be port or city, if land or water predominate, if there are more ships than houses, or vice versa.

Broad and long canals divide the city into so many islands, united by drawbridges, turning bridges, and bridges of stone. On either side of every canal extends a street, flanked by trees on one side and houses on the other. All these canals are deep enough to float large vessels, and all are full of them from one end to the other, except a space in the middle left for passage in and out,—an immense fleet imprisoned in a city.

When I arrived it was the busiest hour, so I planted myself upon the highest bridge over the principal crossing. From thence were visible four canals, four forests of ships, bordered by eight files of trees; the streets were crammed with people and merchandise; droves of cattle were crossing the bridges; bridges were rising in the air, or opening in the middle, to allow vessels to pass through, and were scarcely replaced or closed before they were inundated by a throng of people, carts, and carriages; ships came and went in the canals, shining like models in a museum, and with the wives and children of the sailors on the decks; boats darted from vessel to vessel; the shops drove a busy trade; servant-women washed the walls and windows; and all this moving life was rendered more gay and cheerful by the reflections in the water, the green of the trees, the red of the houses, the tall windmills showing their dark tops and white sails against the azure of the sky, and still more by an air of quiet simplicity not seen in any other northern city.

I took observations of a Dutch vessel. Almost all the ships crowded in the canals of Rotterdam are built for the[Pg 139] Rhine and Holland; they have one mast only, and are broad, stout, and variously colored like toy ships. The hull is generally of a bright grass-green, ornamented with a red or a white stripe, or sometimes several stripes, looking like a band of different-colored ribbons. The poop is usually gilded. The deck and mast are varnished and shining like the cleanest of house-floors. The outside of the hatches, the buckets, the barrels, the yards, the planks, are all painted red, with white or blue stripes. The cabin where the sailors’ families are is colored like a Chinese kiosk, and has its windows of clear glass, and its white muslin curtains tied up with knots of rose-colored ribbon. In every moment of spare time sailors, women, and children are busy washing, sweeping, polishing every part with infinite care and pains; and when their little vessel makes its exit from the port, all fresh and shining like a holiday-coach, they all stand on the poop and accept with dignity the mute compliments which they gather from the glances of the spectators along the canals.

From canal to canal, and from bridge to bridge, I finally reached the dyke of the Boompjes upon the Meuse, where boils and bubbles all the life of the great commercial city.

On the left extends a long row of small many-colored steamboats, which start every hour in the day for Dordrecht, Arnhem, Gouda, Schiedam, Brilla, Zealand, and continually send forth clouds of white smoke and the sound of their cheerful bells. To the right lie the large ships which make the voyage to various European ports, mingled with fine three-masted vessels bound for the East Indies, with names written in golden letters,—Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Samarang,—carrying the fancy to those distant and savage countries like the echoes of distant voices. In front the Meuse, covered with boats and barks, and the distant shore with a forest of beech-trees, windmills, and[Pg 140] towers; and over all the unquiet sky, full of gleams of light and gloomy clouds, fleeting and changing in their constant movement, as if repeating the restless labor on the earth below.


ANTWERP AND ITS PEOPLE.

ROSE G. KINGSLEY.

[The traveller to whom we owe the following selection makes it part of a paper on “The Home of Rubens,” in which she appreciatively describes that artist’s works. Her account of the city in which the greatest of these works are enshrined is more to our purpose, and is here given.]

It had rained in England for a month without stopping, when, weary of sodden gray clouds above and sodden green grass below, M—— and I determined to seek new sketching-grounds under a more kindly sky. We had but a fortnight to spend on our trip. Where, therefore, could we find a richer field of work than in Flanders? for there quaint cities, beautiful buildings, glorious pictures, and, if we were minded to go deeper, a tangled mass of historic interest, lay within easy reach.

Thus it came to pass that the 30th of September found us driving through the streets of Brussels, and three days later we were steaming out into the (to us) unknown, on our way to Antwerp. Our three days had been chiefly spent in making closer acquaintance with Flemish art in the museum of the capital,—a collection most valuable and typical, a collection too often ignored or hastily glanced through by the tourist, who, if by chance he cares for such things, hurries on to see Memling at Bruges, Van Eyck at Ghent, or Rubens at Antwerp. He forgets, or does not[Pg 141] know, that, as Fromentin justly says, “Belgium is a magnificent book of art, of which, happily for provincial glory, the chapters are scattered everywhere, but of which the preface is at Brussels, and only at Brussels. To all who are tempted to skip the preface in order to get at the book, I should say they are wrong,—that they open the book too soon and will read it ill.” We therefore studied the preface with some care, and now were about to turn the first page of the book itself....

Everything seemed new, pretty, and amusing, as the train cleared the last of the suburbs of Brussels. The sun shone on the long lines of poplars, just burnished with autumn’s gold, which cast their shadows on damp green meadows ruled off into squares with almost mathematical precision. Here a man in a brown apron and brilliant crimson sleeves was raking up the aftermath off a water-meadow. There a girl in a blue frock was herding black and white cows, and we began to think of Cuyp. Then we saw, across flat stretches of smiling country, pointed steeples and red roofs, showing behind thick groups of trees in a soft blue haze, while an old windmill on blackened wooden stilts, a little donkey-cart, and a group of crimson-jacketed peasants in the foreground made us think of some of Teniers the Younger’s landscapes, and recollect that we must be close to Drei Torren, his house at Perck. Then came Malines, our first brown canal, with red-sailed, green-and black-painted barges, the great cathedral rising through a screen of trees over scarlet house-roofs, a picturesque crowd on the platform of burly shovel-hatted priests, nuns with black shawls over their white caps, men with blue blouses and brilliant yellow sabots,—and we thought of Prout. It was all so absurdly like what we had expected, with a difference,—just the difference between art and nature.

[Pg 142]

Then came more flat country, more canals, more fields, more absurd cocky little wheat-ricks, with hardly corn enough in them to make a loaf of bread, more white and purple lupins on the embankments, more red-tiled roofs, half thatch, half tile, which M—— pronounced “most ćsthetic,” more sun, yes, that was perhaps the best of all. Then a great green fort, and we were at Antwerp.

We hardly gave ourselves time to swallow a hasty déjeűner, and then set forth with the charming feeling that we had nothing to do but amuse ourselves. We had not an idea of where we were going, or what we meant to see. All was new, therefore all to us was worth seeing. Only a vague impression floated in our minds that we ought before long to find our way to the cathedral. It was not hard to find; in fact, it was impossible to miss it, for, as we sauntered down the Place de Meir, the golden clock-face on the steeple shone before us like a beacon over the high house-roofs, and

“Far up, the carillon did search
The wind.”

We pushed our way past the odious touters, clamorously asking in vile French and still viler English if we wished to see the cathedral? had we seen it? did we know we ought to see it? finally, of course, should they show it to us? We were in too mighty a presence to heed them. Above us, almost painfully high, rose the great steeple, pointing up to the clear blue sky. We stood at a corner of the old Marché and gazed and gazed, hardly able at first to take in the idea of its real height, foreshortened as it is when one stands so near. It grew upon us, revealed itself to us, as we looked and wondered, and ever after, while in the city, we seemed to feel its protecting presence, even though it might be hidden from our eyes. And we thought how often must weary sailors, beating up[Pg 143] the stormy waters of the North Sea, have longed for a glimpse of that weather-stained tower, token to them of home and safety after some perilous voyage to bring gold and sugar from the New World, or priceless stuffs and spices from the Indies and far Cathay! Or as painters, after long study in the schools of Rome and Venice, made their slow way northward once more across the Alps, to add fresh glory to the Guild of St. Luke, how eagerly they must have watched for the first sight of their cathedral, pointing heavenward out of the flat misty plain, as if to lift their minds from earth into some purer atmosphere!

Yet, splendid as is the casket, still more precious is the treasure it contains. Many men have built cathedrals. There has been but one Rubens; and of all Rubens’s works, the “Descent from the Cross” enshrined in Antwerp Cathedral is, one may venture to say without fear of criticism, unquestionably the most wonderful and beautiful. There is a sobriety, a reticence, about it in color, in movement, in drawing, in the exquisite balance of light and shade, in the nobility and yet tenderness of conception, which one hardly looks for in the painter, splendid though he be, of the Assumption of the Virgin over the high altar close by, still less of the gorgeous but revolting Marie de Medici series in the Louvre. To quote Fromentin once more, “Tout y est contenu, concis, laconique comme dans une page du texte sacré.” Let those who judge him merely by pictures such as the last go to Antwerp, and, casting aside all preconceived ideas, say then whether Peter Paul Rubens shall not be pardoned all his carelessness, his coarseness,—yes, even his horrors,—and be to them henceforth the painter of the noble and majestic “Descent from the Cross.”

It was long before we could summon resolution to leave the cathedral. Half a dozen times we started, as many times we turned back to the great triptych to impress[Pg 144] some detail more firmly on our minds; and at last, when the door swung to behind us, and we saw the great master’s statue standing in dusty sunshine in the Place Verte, we were in no humor for more sight-seeing. So we wandered happily and aimlessly on, now enchanted by some pignon espagnol, the quaint gable running up in a series of steps, which was introduced, some say, by the Spaniards, now stopping to scribble down the details of a bit of costume, or to look at a street shrine on a corner house, with its figure and lamp and tinsel flowers, until at last we found ourselves on the quays.

Here, where Van Noort, where Rubens, where Jordaens made studies among the rude fishermen for their pictures of the Miraculous Draught,—here, where generations of painters from their day down to our own have loved to dwell upon the changing aspects of the quiet river, the hurrying quays, the picturesque people,—here was indeed a spot where we humble disciples of Apelles might hope to gather inspiration from the example of the great departed. So we hunted out a pile of wood on the very brink of the river, a quiet corner where we ran no risk of being trampled underfoot by gigantic Flemish dray-horses or knocked down by heavily laden wagons; and there we sat peacefully, sketching the long reaches of the Scheldt bathed in a flood of golden haze. Up it sailed long low boats, floating past us with full red sails, flat, faint, wooded shores behind them, a tall smoking chimney or little church-spire breaking the blue line of the trees here and there. The river reaches were full of repose to eye and mind alike, and our thoughts turned instinctively to Van de Velde, to his glassy water, where little gleams catch the curl of some lazy ripple, and his skiffs and schooners floating in a veil of filmy gold, which warms his usual pearly grays, while they in turn give a sober undertone to the golden glory. A contrast to the quiet river was the foreground of the picture, where a steamer was lading for some distant voyage, funnels, rigging, hull, a great mass of black and brown against the pale golden water, and the bustling quay, where horses, men, carriages, foot-passengers, long low trollies,—apparently on only two wheels, so minute were the front pair,—piled high with bales and barrels, were jumbled in inextricable confusion.

THE WATERLOO PYRAMID THE WATERLOO PYRAMID

[Pg 145]

We were working away, thankful that every one was too full of his own business to care to look at us, when suddenly a pleasant smell of burning made us wonder whether the municipality were trying to fumigate the town and overpower the very unsavory odors around us. Presently blacks began to settle on our sketch-books. Then burning morsels flew through the air, and, turning round, we saw that a quantity of bales standing on the quay twenty yards behind us were on fire. Half a dozen bystanders looked on with true Flemish phlegm. A woman in blue and gray, with yellow sabots, stood watching on a fallen mast. Then others began to arrive, and as the flames rose higher some slight interest arose with them. The gray woman turned and ran for the pompiers. The interest grew and spread among the gathering crowd. Soldiers just landing from the Tęte de Flandre caught sight of the crackling flames and rushed towards them. Stevedores left the lading of their steamer, and, leaping across masts and spars, with sacks over their heads and their blue blouses puffed into balloons by the wind, rushed to the scene of action. M—— and I thought it prudent to retire to a street-corner, away from the turmoil.

Such a street! all in warm shade, with rich reds and grays and browns among its high-roofed houses. Out of the Fish-Market close by poured a motley crowd,—men in blue jerseys, men in red jerkins, men in shirt-sleeves, little[Pg 146] lads in sailor-clothes with bright yellow sabots, women with yellow sabots and blue stockings, or yellow stockings and black sabots, or black shoes and pink stockings, women in three-cornered shawls, women in long black cloaks. The tardily-awakened interest had grown into intense excitement. Every one ran,—soldiers, ladies, porters, priests; and as we left the Quai Vandyck to go home, and looked up at the stone lace-work of the cathedral tower against the bright blue sky, the pompiers raced past us with their little hand-engine, to find that the fire had burnt itself out.

Too tired by our long day to walk any more, but unwilling to waste the evening in our rooms, we chartered a comfortable little carriage and drove down to the Port just after sunset. The cathedral tower stood stately and sombre against a pale-pink sky. Against this delicate background, too, we caught fantastic irregular outlines of old houses at every turn of the streets. The busy Quai Vandyck we now saw under a completely changed aspect. The pink of the upper sky melted into yellow, the yellow into a heavy blue-purple blending with the farther shore of the river. The bands of color, intensified by black masts and sails rising from yet blacker hulls lying under the bank, were reflected in the opalescent water; while fluttering pennons on a forest of fishing-boats looked, as M—— said, “like a shoal of minnows.”

As we drove along in the growing darkness the scene was weird and strange. We caught glimpses of black figures, with heavy burdens on their shoulders, rushing up and down gangways of loading steamers like the demons of some Walpurgisnacht, lighted by oil-cans flaming from their two spouts. Then came a street of ancient houses,—we could see only the steps of their gables against the sky,—and, instead of a roadway below, the street was full[Pg 147] of water and ships, sails half furled, lights, red, green, and yellow, repeating themselves in long reflections amid the black boats on the smooth surface of the canal. Across the river steamer-lights crept to and fro. Low carts, with huge horses that brought to mind Paul Potter’s etching of “The Friesland Horse,” grazed past us. Then came a black mass,—the house of the Hanseatic League. Then great docks like the sea, stretching away infinitely into the darkness, a mysterious confusion of masts, spars, cordage, chimneys, lights, water, black hulls. On shore a tangle of carts and trollies standing horseless, barrels, cotton-bales, wool-sacks. A locomotive snorted past us in dangerous proximity, appearing one knew not from whence, disappearing again into the gloom. Electric lights flashed on ahead far up the line. We passed more huge warehouses, more canals, more narrow streets. Then the Port and its strange life, its flaming oil-cans, its murky darkness, were left behind, and we found ourselves back in nineteenth-century civilization, driving down the new Frenchified boulevards, with only the statue of David Teniers and the Italian facade of Rubens’s house to remind us where we were.


ART MUSEUMS OF DRESDEN.

ELIZABETH PEAKE.

[“Pen Pictures of Europe,” by Elizabeth Peake, is amply worth reading by all who wish to gain a rapid acquaintance with what is worth seeing on that continent. Its interesting descriptions are so many and varied that choice among them is not easy to make, and we present what our traveller saw in Dresden and at Potsdam simply as examples of the whole.]

[Pg 148]

We have been to the picture-gallery. There were between two and three thousand pictures. There were Raphael, Holbein, Correggio, Titian, Carlo Dolce, Paul Veronese, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vandyke, Guido, Ruysdael, Wouvermans, Claude, Poussin, and I do not know who else; but I would give them all, and more besides, for the portraits of Charlemagne and Sigismund by Dürer, and the historical painting of the peace of Westphalia, with its forty-seven original portraits by Sandrart. I do really think that I have seen a million of paintings, and have come to the sad conclusion that I have precious little love for pictures,—for paintings.

The magnificent frescos I admire as much as any one. But the thousands of Madonnas,—Raphael’s “Madonna di San Sisto,” which cost forty thousand dollars, I like better than any I have yet seen, next to that old painting of Leonardo da Vinci in the old church not far from Milan,—all the Madonnas have pretty eyes, pretty faces, pretty attitudes; but they do not come up to my idea of the Virgin. Then there are so many nude Venuses, and all sorts of nudities, that the artists who painted them ought to have been condemned to go without clothes, even in cold weather, to see how they would like it; and when they died they should have every bone in the human body carved as ornaments on their tombstone as I saw somewhere in my travels. The heads of the old men are exceedingly fine and natural; but many of the portraits have such affected attitudes that they seem ridiculous to me. I suppose it used to be the fashion to take an attitude when they sat for a portrait.

Mrs. Siddons’s portrait, in London, and one of Mary Queen of Scots and her page, were the most beautiful and faultless to my taste of all I saw in England.

Murillo’s beggar boys and girls did not know enough to[Pg 149] assume an attitude; and of course they please, because they are natural.

Did you ever see persons sit where they could see themselves in a mirror, conversing, and still looking at themselves with a sort of half consciousness they were doing so, and thinking that you were not noticing that they did so? I say, did you ever notice what a ridiculous and puzzled expression it gives to their faces? Well, this is just the expression of the greater part of these so celebrated portraits and paintings. It is appalling to think of,—I mean my want of taste,—but I do like to see pictures look natural. “How will madame have potatoes, sauté or grillé, or au naturel?” The word naturel sounds so charmingly after all I have seen, that I reply joyously, “Au naturel;” and he brought me boiled potatoes,—just what I liked. I forgot to mention that we went again to the opera in Munich, in the small theatre in the king’s palace. The opera was “Alessandra Stradella,” by Flotow. I never heard sweeter music; and Nachbaur, who took the part of Stradella, was not only a magnificent tenor, but a perfect Adonis in person. He would meet with success in New York.

Yesterday we went to the royal palace, a very ancient and ungainly-looking building. Our object was to visit the green rooms, or vaults, which contain all kinds of rare objects-jewels, ivory, bronzes, and costly things,—which I suppose were intended to show the magnificence of the Saxon kings, who once were among the richest sovereigns in Europe. There are eight of these rooms on the ground-floor of the palace. I wish you could have been with us to have seen all the curiosities, and to have heard the custodian, who spoke English, tell us all about what he showed us. It is impossible to remember a tenth part of what one sees, so I was glad when the custodian said, as he entered the first room, which contains the bronzes, “Laties,[Pg 150] here is more as a huntred fine bronzes; the best fon Italy, I show you ze masterpieces. Zis is Antinous; here is Apollo; dis leetle dog is curious; is of hammered iron, not cast hammered. ’Tis by Peter Vischer. You see he scratch himself,—very funny, very curious. Zis crucifix made by John of Bologna,—a masterpiece.” I kept close to him to ask him more particularly about many things. The next room was the ivory room. I wish you could have heard him pronounce “my lady” in three or four different ways. There were four hundred and eighty-four pieces of ivory wonderfully carved. “Here, melaty, one little piece. Two drunken musicians fighting. Made by Dinglinger.” “Who was Dinglinger?” I asked. “He was yeweller of te court, melaty.” After seeing all in the room, he said, “Zis way, laties, if you please, one leetle step down. Here are ze mosaics. Zis table Florentine mosaic; best of ze tables.” There were large life sized portraits on each side of the windows. I asked, “Whose portrait is this?” “Christian II., melaty. He always drink sixteen pottles of wine in one day,—sixteen pottles, melaty.” I was much pleased with a magnificent chimney-piece, made of the different kinds of china manufactured here, and ornamented with the various kinds of stone found in Saxony. In the fourth room I noticed a peculiar clock, made in the form of the tower of Babel. One gold chalice, ornamented with precious gems, made by Benvenuto Cellini, attracted my attention. I asked about another portrait. “Augusta ze Strong, melaty. He took a horseshoe in his hand and broke it in two. Very strong, melaty, very strong.” I had heard the story of his stopping at a shop to have a shoe put on his horse. Selecting a shoe, he took it in his hand, and breaking it, said it was not strong enough. The smith, after shoeing his horse, asked for a dollar. Augustus threw down a silver dollar. The smith took it up,[Pg 151] and rolling it over in his fingers in the form of a cigar, asked if the dollar was a good one.

A little farther, the custodian took up a golden egg. “Here, laties, is one golden egg. I will open it, and you will see it contains a golden chicken. I will open ze chicken; it has in it ze Polish crown. I will open ze crown, and show you one fine ring. All zese rings are for show, for curiosity, for playthings.” The next room contained the largest pearls; one represents the body of a court dwarf, and is as large as a hen’s egg. In the seventh room we were shown the regalia used at the coronation of Augustus Second as king of Poland, and then brought here to be kept for the coronation of Saxon princes who might at some future time be crowned at Cracow. There, too, were the swords of John Sobieski and Solyman II., of Turkey. The hilts of these swords seemed one mass of diamonds. The shoulder-knot of the queens of Poland containing six hundred and sixty-two diamonds! Then the diamond buttons, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and other precious stones were as wonderful on account of their abundance as they were for their great beauty. I could only think of Sinbad the sailor, of Aladdin and his wonderful lamp, and all the fairy-tales of diamonds and gems I had read in my life. In the last there were emeralds one and a half inches large, and a model of the throne and court of the great Mogul Aurengzebe, at which Dinglinger and eighteen men worked eight years, and were paid fifty-nine thousand thalers! A costly plaything. All the Saxon crown jewels, collected from the time of the Elector Maurice, 1541, were one blaze of light and beauty. Boxes are always ready for packing them, particularly in time of war, when they are taken to the fortress of Königstein.

We have been over the bridge to the Japanese palace to see the collections of porcelain from the earliest times until[Pg 152] now. The Portuguese were the first to bring porcelain to Europe from China and Japan, and Saxony was the first European country in which its manufacture was begun. Von Tzschirnhausen was making experiments in his three glass huts when, in 1701, he was joined by John Frederic Böttger, an alchemist, who said he had succeeded in finding the philosopher’s stone, and who, in the presence of witnesses, melted eighteen two groschen pieces, sprinkled into the liquid mass a reddish powder, and changed them into the finest gold. However that may have been, he found a species of earth in the neighborhood of Meissen which suited his purposes, and began the manufacture of porcelain, which at the present day is carried on there in a large establishment called the royal porcelain manufactory of Dresden china. Meissen is not far from Dresden, but I am afraid we shall not have time to go there.

But to return to the Japanese palace. There were costly selections of Chinese, Japanese, East Indian, Dresden, and Sčvres porcelain. It is really astonishing to see what improvement was made in Dresden china in twenty years, and then from those twenty years until the present time. There are twenty rooms in the basement of this building which are filled with these collections. I only wish they had put them in the story above, where ever so much old statuary is placed, for then they could be seen to so much better advantage, and the statuary be kept in the shade, where, in my opinion, a good lot of it should always be. Kändler’s model of a huge monument to Augustus (III. of Poland and II. of Saxony) is entirely of porcelain, and cost twelve thousand thalers. A camellia, thirty-eight inches high, modelled by Schiefer, in Meissen, in 1836, is most beautiful. We were shown plates which cost three or four hundred dollars apiece. The bust of the queen of Prussia, given by her husband, Frederic William III., to[Pg 153] this collection, is exquisite. A white lace veil was carelessly thrown over the head. I looked at it, and thought it strange that a lace veil should be thrown over a bust of china, and spoke to the guide about it. He said the veil was china too. I examined it closely; the work on the border was perfect, and you could see the head and neck through the veil as plainly as if it had been real lace. The Sčvres china given by the first Napoleon was the handsomest of any we saw. Some majolica vases were very fine, and cost about ten thousand dollars each. There were Chinese gods, made in China, of the most beautiful porcelain, but as hideous in form as they were beautiful in material.

We went to the armory, said to be the finest collection of the kind in Europe. In the first room we were shown many curiosities: the work-table of “Mother Anna,” made of petrified wood, which the attendant wished me to notice particularly, because it was a petrifactation.

Then there was a clock with a bear striking the seconds on a drum; another clock imitated a chime of bells; Luther’s drinking-cup, made of gold, and holding about a pint; and a beautiful cabinet presented to him by his friend and protector, the Elector of Saxony, and which, after his death, was sold to the government by his family. The next room was filled with implements of sports and the chase, all very curious.

On we went, from room to room, looking at the suits of armor which had been worn by the electors of Saxony,—their tilting suits, their parade suits; the horses they rode on parade, stuffed and equipped; and their masters’ suits put on figures to represent those distinguished personages; so you could fancy yourself walking among them, and seeing them as they looked when living. Nothing could exceed the splendor of the horses’ accoutrements,—precious[Pg 154] stones almost covered their harness; the scabbards of one or two swords were set with jewels and diamonds their whole length; in those times jewels and diamonds were as plentiful as blackberries. The housing of one of the kings, when he went sleigh-riding, was crimson velvet embroidered with gold, and two or three hundred little bells that looked like gold fastened on all over it. There were the cuirass of Augustus the Strong, which weighed one hundred pounds, and his cap, that weighed twenty-five. Napoleon’s saddle, and many other saddles, had jewels set in them that many a lady would be proud to wear.

One great curiosity was a Turkish tent, taken at the siege of Vienna, in 1683. It was set up in one room with all its furniture. The ground-work was crimson embroidered with gold. I should think it was large enough to accommodate twenty persons. There were also the armor worn by John Sobieski at the same siege, and the pistols worn by Charles XII. of Sweden on the day of his death. Some of the tilting suits worn at tournaments weighed two hundred pounds.

I never saw anything like these Germans for curious and strange things. One of the curious and costly toys I saw when we went to the green rooms was a bird’s nest, flowers, etc., made of flour and water. I do not know whether I told you of a painting on cobweb which we saw in the museum at Munich. There were four or five panes of glass nearly covered with cobwebs, which had a landscape painted on them. In some things I do not admire the taste: two large porcelain pitchers, that would hold two gallons, and cost thousands of dollars, had handles made to represent large spotted adders, or snakes.

If I did not understand German I would not know half the time what they meant when they are trying to talk to me in English. Showing me some china cups that were[Pg 155] first made with handles, the man said, “You see, zese are ze first made wiz hankles.” Speaking of something being most convenient, he said, the “commodest.”

I have said nothing of the statues in the public places: the monument to the Elector Maurice, the oldest one in Dresden, representing Maurice handing the electoral sword to his brother “Father August,” and just behind him their wives in widows’ weeds.

The equestrian statue of Augustus the Strong, made of brass, and placed on a pedestal of sandstone, looks very spirited. The statue of Frederick Augustus II. in his coronation robes is very fine; besides others which I have not time to describe. The Roman Catholic church which we see from our windows, built in the Italian style, and profusely decorated, is said to have cost two million thalers.

Seen through the fog in the early morning, its fifty-nine statues of saints and apostles looked like ghosts, or like some pictures of the last judgment.

The green copper roofs of this church and of the government buildings give Dresden a look peculiar to itself. There are two triumphant fly-away statues on the grand bridge over the Elbe which exhilarate me every time I see them.

Brühl’s Terrace is a very delightful promenade, and an ornament to the city. I was asked if I had seen the statuary at the “flurs” (flight of stairs) of this terrace. One group represents Evening, the other Night; they are very good. The sculptor Schilling is to make two more—Morning and Noon—for the flight on the other side.

On Friday we went to the palace and saw a great quantity of porcelain, some fine frescos in the throne room, particularly four large pictures from the history of Henry the Fowler. The ball-room is painted with subjects from[Pg 156] mythology, mostly. I expected to find the palace more imposing than it was,—perhaps from seeing so many millions invested in jewels in the green rooms....

On Monday we went to Potsdam, about an hour’s ride on the cars. Potsdam is the Prussian Versailles. It was founded by the Great Elector of Brandenburg, but owes all its splendor to Frederick the Great. We first visited the New Palace, which Frederick the Great built, just to show the world that his wars had not exhausted all his finances. He had an eye for bright things,—the rooms were brilliant with gold and silver, and bright-colored satin, and brocade and damask curtains. They showed us in the folds of the curtains, where the light had not faded them, how bright and beautiful they must have been when new. They also showed us the rooms in which his dogs were allowed to enter; the coverings of the sofas and chairs were terribly torn by them. One large room in this palace was entirely covered with pearl-oyster and various other kinds of shells, different marbles and stones,—all put together to represent dolphins and fishes. The floor was of Italian marble, and overhead were fresco-paintings. It was a very large room, having windows on one side, and on the opposite side mirrors, reflecting the beautiful grounds outside, making a very striking and fine effect. In the library we saw the caricature of Voltaire, made by Frederick the Great,—it is a pen-and-ink sketch. We also saw the hat, boots, gloves, etc., which were last worn by him. We were shown places on his writing-desk and tables where bits of the cloth were cut out and carried away by Napoleon. A small room, in which he used to dine with a friend or two, was so constructed that the table and food could be raised from the room beneath; thus waiters could be dispensed with, and he could converse with his friends confidentially. We went into the garrison church where Frederick the Great is[Pg 157] buried behind the pulpit, in a plain metal sarcophagus above-ground. The sword that used to lie upon it was carried off by Napoleon, and no one knows what has become of it, but over the tomb, on each side of the pulpit, hang the eagles and standards taken from Napoleon’s armies by the Prussians. His father’s tomb is of marble and stands opposite his. We then rode on to the palace of Sans Souci, built by Frederick the Great. It seems to stand upon the top of a flight of terraces. The grounds were laid out in French taste, when it was the fashion to have everything stiff and formal. We saw some fine paintings and statuary, walked through the orangery, and then through the grounds, passed the historical windmill which Frederick the Great wanted to buy, but the miller would not sell. Frederick sued him and lost his case. Afterwards, when the family of the miller became poor, they offered it to the king, who bought it, but would not have it pulled down, preferring to have it stand as a monument of Prussian justice.

The carriage was waiting for us at the gate, and then, crossing the river Havel, we rode on to Babelsburg, where Emperor William lived before he was king. This is decidedly the prettiest residence that I have seen since I left home, and although the palace is large it has such a homelike look, and is so cheerful throughout, I should think the Emperor would like to spend as much time there as possible. The girl who showed us through the palace gave an envelope from the Emperor’s writing-desk to one of our party, who gave it to me to put among my relics. Humboldt’s study is kept just as he left it. I think I could study in that room. The night-lamp was so constructed as to appear like stars when lighted. In the drawing-room there were some beautifully-embroidered chairs, presented to the Empress by the court ladies. They were of dark-blue[Pg 158] velvet, with heads of wheat embroidered in gold. In the apartments of the crown princess I saw the carpet presented her on her marriage by the English ladies. The attendant lifted the cloth that covered it, and it still looked as good as new. We were particularly shown an English bed, because it was a double bed, and it did seem quite a curiosity, for it was the only one we had seen on the continent. The whole palace was cheerful throughout, and had the appearance of the highest taste and refinement. The paintings and statues are exquisitely beautiful. The grounds are handsome, and the landscape quite American. The courier asked the attendant who took us through the palace whether she kept the money that was given her for herself. Oh, no! she had to give it to the steward. I suppose, however, that if no fee was required the palace would be overrun with visitors. We had to hurry to get back to Potsdam in time for the cars, and reached Berlin about dark, pretty well tired out, and did not rise until late the next morning.


THE STUDENTS OF HEIDELBERG.

BAYARD TAYLOR.

[Taylor’s earliest and notable work of travel, “Views Afoot,” describing his experiences while traversing Europe with a light purse and a sturdy heart, is full of quotable passages, of two of which we have availed ourselves. The following is devoted to the well-worn story of the German student, with his extraordinary capacity for beer and his insensate taste for duels. We cannot well get through Europe without some account of these striking incidents of student-life, which our author very well describes.]

Receiving a letter from my cousin one bright December morning, the idea of visiting him struck me, and so, within[Pg 159] an hour, B—— and I were on our way to Heidelberg. It was delightful weather; the air was mild as the early days of spring, the pine-forests around wore a softer green, and though the sun was but a hand’s breadth high, even at noon, it was quite warm on the open road.

We stopped for the night at Bensheim; the next morning was as dark as a cloudy day in the north can be, wearing a heavy gloom I never saw elsewhere. The wind blew the snow down from the summits upon us, but, being warm from walking, we did not heed it. The mountains looked higher than in summer, and the old castles more grim and frowning. From the hard roads and freezing wind my feet became very sore, and after limping along in excruciating pain for a league or two, I filled my boots with brandy, which deadened the wounds so much that I was enabled to go on in a kind of trot, which I kept up, only stopping ten minutes to dinner, till we reached Heidelberg.

The same evening there was to be a general commers, or meeting of the societies among the students, and I determined not to omit one of the most interesting and characteristic features of student life. So, borrowing a cap and coat, I looked the student well enough to pass for one of them, though the former article was somewhat of the Philister form. Baader, a young poet of some note, and president of the “Palatea” society, having promised to take us there, we met at eight o’clock at an inn frequented by the students, and went to the rendezvous, near the Markt Platz.

A confused sound of voices came from the inn, as we drew near; groups of students were standing around the door. In the entry we saw the Red Fisherman, one of the most conspicuous characters about the University. He is a small, stout man, with bare neck and breast, red hair, whence his name, and a strange mixture of roughness and[Pg 160] benevolence in his countenance. He had saved many persons, at the risk of his own life, from drowning in the Neckar, and on that account is leniently dealt with by the faculty whenever he is arrested for assisting the students in any of their unlawful proceedings. Entering the room, I could scarcely see at first, on account of the smoke that ascended from a hundred pipes. All was noise and confusion. Near the door sat some half-dozen musicians, who were getting their instruments ready for action; and the long room was filled with tables, all of which seemed to be full, and the students were still pressing in. The tables were covered with great stone jugs and long beer-glasses; the students were talking and shouting and drinking.

One, who appeared to have the arrangement of the meeting, found seats for us together, and, having made a slight acquaintance with those sitting next us, we felt more at liberty to witness their proceedings. They were all talking in a sociable, friendly way, and I saw no one who appeared to be intoxicated. The beer was a weak mixture, which I should think would make one fall over from its weight before it would intoxicate him. Those sitting near me drank but little, and that principally to make or return compliments. One or two at the other end of the table were more boisterous, and more than one glass was overturned on the legs below it. Leaves containing the songs for the evening lay at each seat; and at the head, where the president sat, were two swords crossed, with which he occasionally struck upon the table to preserve order. Our president was a fine, romantic-looking young man, dressed in the old German costume, which is far handsomer than the modern. I never saw in any company of young men so many handsome, manly countenances. If their faces were any index of their characters, there were many noble, free souls among them.

THE TOWN AND CASTLE OF HEIDELBERG THE TOWN AND CASTLE OF HEIDELBERG

[Pg 161]

Nearly opposite to me sat a young poet, whose dark eyes flashed with feeling as he spoke to those near him. After some time passed in talking and drinking together, varied by an occasional air from the musicians, the president beat order with the sword, and the whole company joined in one of their glorious songs, to a melody at the same time joyous and solemn. Swelled by so many manly voices, it rose up like a hymn of triumph; all other sounds were stilled. Three times during the singing all rose up, clashed their glasses together around the table, and drank to their Fatherland, a health and blessing to the patriot, and honor to those who struggle in the cause of freedom, at the close thundering out their motto,—

“Fearless in strife, to the banner still true!”

After this song the same order as before was continued, except that students from the different societies made short speeches accompanied by some toast or sentiment. One spoke of Germany, predicting that all her dissensions would be overcome, and she would rise up at last like a phœnix among the nations of Europe; and at the close gave “Strong, united, regenerated Germany!” Instantly all sprang to their feet, and, clashing the glasses together, gave a thundering “Hoch!” This enthusiasm for their country is one of the strongest characteristics of the German students; they have ever been first in the field for her freedom, and on them mainly depends her future redemption.

Cloths were passed around, the tables wiped off, and preparations made to sing the “Landsfather” or consecration song. This is one of the most important and solemn of their ceremonies, since by performing it the new students are made burschen, and the bands of brotherhood continually kept fresh and sacred. All became still a moment; then they commenced the lofty song,—

[Pg 162]

“Silent bending, each one lending
To the solemn tones his ear,
Hark, the song of songs is sounding,
Back from joyful choir resounding;
Hear it, German brothers, hear!
“German, proudly raise it, loudly
Singing of your fatherland.
Fatherland! thou land of story,
To the altars of thy glory
Consecrate us, sword in hand!
“Take the beaker, pleasure-seeker,
With thy country’s drink brimmed o’er;
In thy left the sword is blinking;
Pierce it through the cap, while drinking
To thy Fatherland once more!”

With the first line of the last stanza the presidents sitting at the head of the table take their glasses in their right hands, and at the third line the sword in their left, at the end striking their glasses together and drinking.

“In left hand gleaming, thou art beaming,
Sword from all dishonor free!
Thus I pierce the cap, while swearing,
It in honor ever wearing,
I a valiant Bursch will be!”

They clash their swords together till the third line is sung, when each takes his cap, and piercing the point of the sword through the crown, draws it down to the guard. Leaving their caps on the swords, the presidents stand behind the two next students, who go through the same ceremony, receiving the swords at the appropriate time, and giving them back loaded with their caps also. This ceremony is going on at every table at the same time. These two stanzas are repeated for every pair of students till all have[Pg 163] gone through with it, and the presidents have arrived at the bottom of the table, with their swords strung full of caps.

[While the song goes on, the president restores the caps, one by one, a consecration verse being chanted as each student receives his cap. When all are restored, the ceremonies end with a concluding verse, in which the singers pledge themselves to the service of their Fatherland.]

The Landsfather being over, the students were less orderly; the smoking and drinking began again, and we left, as it was already eleven o’clock, glad to breathe the pure cold air.

In the University I heard Gervinus, who was formerly professor in Göttingen, but was obliged to leave on account of his liberal principles. He is much liked by the students and his lectures are very well attended. They had this winter a torchlight procession in honor of him. He is a stout, round-faced man, speaks very fast, and makes them laugh continually with his witty remarks. In the room I saw a son of Rückert, the poet, with a face strikingly like his father’s. The next evening I went to hear Schlosser, the great historian. Among his pupils are the two princes of Baden, who are now at the University. He came hurriedly in, threw down his portfolio, and began instantly to speak. He is an old, gray-headed man, but still active and full of energy. The Germans find him exceedingly difficult to understand, as he is said to use the English construction almost entirely; for this reason perhaps I understand him quite easily. He lectures on the French Revolution, but is engaged in writing a Universal History, the first numbers of which are published.

Two or three days after, we heard that a duel was to take place at Neuenheim, on the opposite side of the[Pg 164] Neckar, where the students have a house hired for that purpose. In order to witness the spectacle, we started immediately with two or three students. Along the road were stationed old women, at intervals, as guards, to give notice of the approach of the police, and from these we learned that one duel had already been fought, and they were preparing for the other. The Red Fisherman was busy in an outer room grinding the swords, which are made as sharp as razors. In the large room some forty or fifty students are walking about, while the parties were preparing. This was done by taking off the coat and vest and binding a great thick leather garment on, which reached from the breast to the knees, completely protecting the body. They then put on a leather glove reaching nearly to the shoulder, tied a thick cravat around the throat, and drew on a cap with a large vizor. This done, they were walked about the room a short time, the seconds holding out their arms to strengthen them; their faces all this time betrayed considerable anxiety.

All being ready, the seconds took their stations immediately behind them, each armed with a sword, and gave the words, “Ready—bind your weapons—loose!” They instantly sprang at each other, exchanged two or three blows, when the seconds cried “Halt!” and struck their swords up. Twenty-four rounds of this kind ended the duel, without either being hurt, though the cap of one of them was cut through and his forehead grazed. All their duels do not end so fortunately, however, as the frightful scars on the faces of many of those present testified. It is a gratification to know that but a small portion of the students keep up this barbarous custom. The great body is opposed to it; in Heidelberg, four societies, comprising more than one-half the students, have been formed against it. A strong desire for such a reform seems to prevail, and[Pg 165] the custom will probably be totally discontinued in a short time.

This view of the student-life was very interesting to me; it appeared in a much better light than I had been accustomed to view it. Their peculiar customs, except duelling and drinking, of course, may be better tolerated when we consider their effect on the liberty of Germany. It is principally through them that a free spirit is kept alive; they have ever been foremost to rise up for their Fatherland and bravest in its defence. And though many of their customs have so often been held up to ridicule, among no other class can one find warmer, truer, or braver hearts.


THE STREETS OF BERLIN.

MATTHEW WOODS.

[Among the object-lessons which the cities of Europe have for Americans there is none more evident and impressive than the beauty and cleanliness of the streets of many of these municipalities, as compared with those of the land beyond the ocean. Dr. Woods, in his “Rambles of a Physician,” draws a striking picture of the aspect of the principal street of Berlin, which we reproduce for the benefit of our readers.]

To-day I have been riding on tramways through wide, smooth, perfectly clean streets, lined on each side by magnificent houses, mostly with their fronts a complete net-work of graceful carvings. In building here the custom is to use rough stones, and when the house is erected, carve over it the development of some legend, the illustrations of some classic tale, or it may be, the story of the rise and progress of the builder, or the man for whom it is being[Pg 166] built; or, perhaps, simply a reproduction in stone of some Pompeiian wall decoration, so that merely a stroll through the streets, or a ride on a car, exhibits sights that I imagine are seldom if ever seen outside of Germany. To write down all worthy of perpetual remembrance and praise, during a walk through its splendid ways, would require much time, and I will therefore only say that amid a profusion of ornamentation, you seldom see anything meaningless or incapable of pointing a moral or adorning a tale.

The street wherein I write, what words could record its splendors! From the happy moment I passed the Royal National Gallery, with its great front covered with the commanding pictures by Cornelius, with background of gold, and crossed the handsome bridge, Schloss Brücke, ornamented with colossal marble statues, full of action and life, that spans the lovely embanked Spree, until now, with a charming park and the Cathedral at my back, the University in front, on my left, in the middle of the street Rauch’s wonderful statue of Frederick the Great, said to be the grandest monument in Europe, and by my side the plain palace of the Emperor, I have been amazed; words cannot describe the splendor of the place. The tops of the houses—cornices—are lined with marble figures larger than life; the pediments are alive with men, women, children, and horses, in high relief; and along the sidewalks are sitting and standing celebrities in stone, whose very pedestals contain enough to employ the admiration for weeks; and yet this is but the approach to the famous street that, beginning at the castle of the Kaiser, ends in the Brandenburg Gate,—I am merely within the Garden of Eden, with long vistas of prospective bliss extending interminably before.

I stand for a few moments in front of Rauch’s stupendous statue of Fritz surrounded by his friends. I use the word “stupendous” not in reference to its size, although it[Pg 167] is enormous, but to its effect. It occupies a position in the middle of the street, in front of the plain two-story-and-a-half castle of Kaiser William, now in his ninetieth year, and well. Where is there another avenue in the world that would not be obstructed by this massive group? The Monuments—clustered around a granite pedestal twenty-five feet high, on which is placed an equestrian statue of Frederick the Great—are bronze groups, life size, of the leading generals and statesmen during the Seven Years’ War, standing or mounted on horses as they lived, in animated discussion or thought, forming a glorious aureole around their chief. From where I stand I count nineteen people and four horses, all apparently endowed with immortal life; besides these, on this side (there are three others like it) are cannon, armor, trumpets, helmets, muskets, and trees, which, although of metal, to say of them that they look real would be short of the truth; they exceed reality, at least as we ordinary beings understand that most complimented word. I would venture to say that outside of Prussian Germany models for these magnificent figures could not be found, and that a sculptor producing such would have to create them himself; and yet these are the men of the streets of Frankfort, Weimar, and Berlin, as splendid-looking fellows as the sun ever shone upon,—the very street-sweepers even exhibiting a bearing and dignity commanding respect.

The subject is too prolific in suggestions; I cannot proceed. It is also too great for my limited time, especially as other attractions are luring me on. What a street! what shops! filled with wonders in metal and precious stones. What bronzes and jewels! Why do we never see such exquisite productions in our palatial stores? Lingerers around shop-windows find a paradise in this promenade; but here is an “Arcade,” the stone sides carved to[Pg 168] the lofty cornices, arches of glass stretching across the way from eave to eave, the street paved in mosaic, and here and there in recesses clusters of exotics and palms. What wares are exhibited in this virtuoso’s Eden! I stand in front of the window, lost in thought, until tired with the contemplation of unspeakable things.

Seeing a shrubbery and seats, I sit down by a little table for repose, when in a moment, from some invisible source overhead, like the orchestra in Wilhelm Meister, there bursts forth the most bewitching music. I am in heaven. I hear the hosannas of the celestial hosts. The shops are where the redeemed work for love of men.

The people passing to and fro know nothing of accounts, nor the perplexities of trade. They have ceased from their troubles—are at home—at rest. I am brought to eat ambrosia and drink the nectar and hear the music of the gods, and yet I am but a novice in this celestial city, and wait for the loving hands that shall lead me to the friends gone before....

I have made the tour of “Unter den Linden,” and am sitting here just long enough to collect my wandering thoughts before moving on. I feel as if I had been the victim of one of De Quincey’s dreams, and wait the awakening that will release me from its spell. As I recline here at my leisure, with a sandstone fountain making music at my feet, and grapevines and beeches embowering me about, I get a good view of the famous Brandenburg Gate and the statue of Victory, with her chariot and four, on the top. As I look on the magnificent group from where I am on the Thiergarten side, Victory has her back to me, her horses galloping with full speed towards the palace of the king. I had supposed, from pictures I had seen, that she was driving towards the park. I cannot have been mistaken. If so, why was such a ponderous mass turned around?

[Pg 169]

While endeavoring to explain to myself what seemed so strange, a young man took a seat by my side. Addressing him, “How is it? Isn’t Victory reversed?” “Ja wohl!” he replies. How assuring the affix “wohl” in the hearty German expression of assent! It is the abracadabra that drives out fear, and fills up the great gulf between the stranger and yourself, enabling your sympathies to run over and interchange. Long live the noble people that always say, “Yes, well,” and never, “Yes, ill.”

Ja wohl!” he replies. “Why?” “Well, you see,”—I knew by the expression lighting up his face that he was going to tell me of something that pleased,—“it was before the last struggle that Victory was driving her horses in the direction of Paris. The war came. The French were victors, and carried off our statue as a trophy to flatter their vanity and decorate their capital at the same time. Good, but in ’70 it was our turn. The whipped became whippers. We beat the French and brought our Victory home, replanted her on her original site, with her back to Frankreich, her face looking proudly towards the Fatherland, as if she were glad and happy to be at home.”

[Here we pass over pages of description of what was to be seen in the galleries and churches, to come again to the traveller’s out-door impressions.]

In the first place, the climate, to my surprise, is perfect. I am sitting here at noon in August—smothering with us—in an atmosphere exhilarating and cool; men are passing with light overcoats, as if they were a trifle anxious to anticipate the September winds, and this is what the weather has been since leaving Erin, where it was, to my surprise, too dry and warm. Remember, that all I say about countries and people is only what I have felt and seen. Every evening I wear a light overcoat, and find it about right. In[Pg 170] the second place, there is no dust in Berlin, simply because the streets, which are better—all of them—than the concrete around the Philadelphia City Hall, are never allowed to get dirty; are flooded with water and dried every morning, and kept so. Nothing objectionable is permitted to remain on them for a moment. Clean, uniformed men—and handsome, gentlemanly-looking fellows they are, too—are constantly moving along with enclosed wheelbarrows, shovels, and brooms, removing whatever may offend; even their instruments for cleaning are designed artistically and free from soil. I can imagine the wheelbarrows attractive as flower receptacles at large gatherings, so graceful are they. You would tie bows on the shovels and hang them on the wall.

With these whatever is offensive on the streets is at once emptied into cast-iron receptacles, in themselves ornamental, arranged along the thoroughfares, and which are emptied before daybreak every day. The streets, as I said before, are many of them flooded with water daily, then dried with enormous squilgees (that’s what they are called on shipboard),—that is, a band of rubber fitted into a socket of wood, something like what, with us, careful housewives use to dry windows, except that these are a yard wide, and one sweep of them over a wet street leaves a band its width as dry as a board and as clean as a dinner plate. In order to do this, of course the streets have to be absolutely smooth,—as they are, not the slightest indentation being visible. Then neatly-painted and handsomely-designed water-carts traverse every street a number of times daily, ejecting showers of misty spray; a work of supererogation, you say, to prevent any particle of dust that may be left from getting into the air. It is actually true that a child with a cambric dress could roll in the middle of any crowded thoroughfare with as much security from soil as if occupying a chair in a summer boarding-house.

[Pg 171]

The cleanliness and order exceeds even that of England or Scotland, than which, until you come to Germany, you think nothing can exceed. If, for example, a gentleman in lighting a cigar throws a match on the street, it is picked up; a leaf from a tree, a bit of paper from a store, a blade of grass, all are at once removed, and by men, too, that are Germans; that is,—clean, respectful, reputable, and intelligent. Even in the business avenues, and around the wholesale stores, the pavements and streets are as clean as the white steps of the homes of Philadelphia. Most of the streets are as wide as our Broad Street, some wider; as, for example, Unter den Linden.

That you may see for yourself this noble highway of the capital, allow me to conduct you across. “When I speak of horses imagine that you see them.” Just suppose we are crossing together, and because of the many vehicles and people on horseback, I will take you by the hand, so. We have been admiring the trees and flowers in front of Prince Blücher’s palace, one of a series of palaces on each side of the street near the Brandenburg Gate; they stand back from the pavements, and have extensive flower-gardens in front, the only separation between these and the very wide pavement being a low hedge of delicate, almost thornless, magenta roses. You remember—or did I tell you?—with what genial pride the old gardener, yesterday, told us that this same was a perpetual bloomer,—summer and winter,—that it was a German creation,—the development of its efflorescent peculiarity having been begun away back; but that he himself it was, by crossing it with Rosa centifolia, that had added the apex to the temple of its perfection,—namely, duplication of petals, diminution of stamen, heliotropism,—turning its face towards the sun, by which acquired habit the winter bloom has become as profuse as that of summer.

[Pg 172]

Well, we have been looking over this two-foot-high blooming hedge-row, and have decided to cross to the gardens on the other side; so now hold my hand and fear not, for life is sacred in the Fatherland, and we are under the protection of the police. You see that the gardens in front of the palaces used by the nobility and foreign ministers are about as wide as Broad Street, the pavement for the public forty feet more. We leave this and cross a strip as wide as an ordinary avenue, paved with square blocks,—this is exclusively for wagons, drays, and all vehicles of trade,—then a row of trees; after this we cross a band about the same width, but as smooth and as hard as granite; this is for pleasure-carriages only; then another row of trees; then a road the width of an ordinary street, which is neither concrete nor Belgian blocks, but a mixture of loam and sand, soft enough to be easy for horses’ feet, and damp enough to keep it from being converted into clouds of dust; this is used by equestrians only, and a beautiful sight the lady and gentleman riders present every afternoon on their way to the park. We cross this soft way, and are in a wide promenade, perhaps eighty feet broad, arched over with the branches of lofty oaks, chestnuts, butternuts, lindens, beeches, and the like,—originally lindens only, hence the name “Under the Lindens,”—with elegant seats arranged along its entire length, on one of which we will sit down and rest, for we are half-way across the avenue, or rather series of avenues, which up here is flanked with lofty palaces and gardens of delight. On one side you go to, on the other you come from, the park. The lower part of this multiple avenue, instead of palaces and gardens, has the most magnificent residences, shops, and hotels that I have ever seen....

Germany seems one great family with no foreign help, where each member recognizes and respects the position[Pg 173] of the other, and are united in the training of their children and the development of their own minds; but not as though, like other people, they had to resolve to be good; this, as a matter of course; virtue appears to come to them by nature. Everything they do seems a pleasure rather than a task, as if they said that industry and thrift are essential to happiness, labor the prelude to enjoyment; besides, they are never in a hurry. They take an hour to drink a glass of beer, and talk of heaven, earth, and the waters under the earth while sipping it. The gesticulating German, outside of books, I have not yet seen; what they do they do well; they enjoy doing it, and they do it that it may be a joy to others, and it always is. This feeling enters into every service, from the making of a pin to the concocting of a new system of theology, or a free-and-easy way of getting to heaven; and then the universality of culture that prevails, thanks to the standing army and the omnipresent public schools,—they have private schools too, to be sure, but then these snob and denominational affairs, unlike with us, just as the public schools, are under strict governmental inspection, and their managers are not permitted to teach what they please, unless what they please is for the good of the pupils, the country, and the people at large. It is because of this national surveillance that the private schools of Germany are said to be as good as those under the direct control of the government.

Familiarizing the pupil with music and the natural sciences is an important part of German education, especially the study of animal organisms, “birds, beasts, and reptiles,” as we used to say of Goldsmith’s “Animated Nature.” As an illustration at hand, since sitting here in front of a garden near the Kaiser’s palace, putting upon record the above traits, a workman watering a lawn noticed me looking up for a moment, just as he had enveloped the top of[Pg 174] a lofty spruce with spray. Of course, as the sun was shining, and each particle of water becoming a prism, the disintegration of the white rays of light resulted in a rainbow, curved partially around the trees. I look at it, racking my memory at the same time for the word I need; he sees I observe it and am pleased; he nods, and says, “Schön” (beautiful); I reply, “Very.” In a few moments, dragging the hose towards me, throwing the water over a weeping birch, and making another rainbow, he points towards it. “Our Herr Professor Helmholtz,” pointing towards the University, “says there are but three prismatic colors, and yet I can now see seven, can’t you?—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet; and I suppose a Frenchman could see seventy, for it is said that they can see colors where other people only see shades.” He continues to water the grass, and I, having found my missing link, to write.

[Dr. Woods next describes what is to be seen within the German beer-gardens,—the music, the decorum, the absence of intoxication, the intelligence manifested in conversation. Then to out-door life again.]

Other traits. Houses have curtains on the outside of windows as well as on the inside, and windows are nearly always double, with a space of about four inches between. They open outward and inward, instead of up and down; when closed, all noise is shut out. Indeed, there is no noise on even the busiest streets, which are so smooth that no sounds are heard but those of horses’ feet; no screaming of papers or wares of any sort is permitted, and no chimes! Then, again, people in the most ordinary circumstances have fine lace curtains and beautifully woven fabrics hanging around in graceful festoons, portičres, statuary, pictures, flowers, birds, and books; often the most beautiful things in the way of prints are pinned[Pg 175] frameless on the walls; there are beautiful marquetry floors, but no carpets.

Again, the orchards throughout the country are without protecting walls, just as farms are. At each corner a stone marks the division, and when ploughing, a couple of reversed furrows from stone to stone serves both as a division and promenade, and crops are not only grown to this line of demarcation, but grow over it, so that at a distance there is no division at all. I have seen branches bent to the ground with ripe fruit, and children walking under them to buy from an old woman or man across the way, never apparently even thinking of molesting what is not theirs. This is one of the things that fill you with wonder. In Weimar, between the Goethe House and the principal school, a long branch loaded with red apples hung over the way, almost touching my head, and yet it was under this that hundreds of children passed daily to and from school.

A pleasant custom in Berlin, as in London, is window-gardening—windows constructed so on purpose, the glass projecting a couple of feet beyond the side of the house, forming attractive ferneries, wherein are contained various sorts of cryptogami, as well as flowers in bloom, needing but little attention, as the moisture evaporating from the soil, etc., having no way of escaping, is taken up by the leaves. Also at the entrance to houses I have noticed beautiful dwarf apple-trees, with glossy leaves, and bearing an abundance of diminutive fruit. On one of these little trees, yesterday, I counted fifty-three ripe apples. These on the pavement day and night, and just the height of a boy’s hand in passing, notwithstanding what I had observed about fenceless orchards, made me suspect them apples of Sodom, or they certainly would have been plucked. To satisfy curiosity, I called on a florist having[Pg 176] some for sale, and found that they tasted as good as they looked. I have concluded, therefore, that if Adam and Eve had been Germans there would have been no Fall; and I know no race doing more towards having Eden restored than these same people.


A RAMBLE IN PRUSSIA.

STEPHEN POWERS.

[Country life in Prussia is well delineated in the following description of a journey on foot from Wittenberg to Potsdam. It is not an alluring picture, and brings us into the presence of a stolid generation such as would scarcely be looked for in the rural districts of that active realm.]

Once out of Wittenberg, I journeyed on along the ancient royal highway, between the ever-welcome colonnades of stately poplars, planted that the royal head might never be scorched by the too ardent sun of summer. The sun shone as brightly as it ever does in blue old Germany, but what a weary, weary land to my eyes, on the pitiless cold May-day, was that sandy champaign, almost utterly naked in its hopeless sterility, and diversified only now and then by a bald-headed knoll, swelling broadly up with a thousand acres! So indescribably blue and cold and pinched was it, without any vegetation but a forest of cultivated pines, which, after a quarter of a century, had struggled up with their wretched, scraggy stems only fifteen feet! The very soil looked blue and thin and skinny, and the rye looked blue, and so meagre and chilled that it could not conceal the ground or the knees of the men who plucked up the weeds.

[Pg 177]

All the dismal immensity of this fenceless, hedgeless, houseless waste, except an acre of rye in a thousand, was given up to the sorrel, the lichens, and the quitches. The very air seemed poor and attenuated like thin skimmed milk. All the houses were clustered together in little villages far apart, where they huddled close, as if for warmth; the dead, dull peat-fires gave forth no cheerful wreathing smoke; and in all the desolate waste there was scarcely a soul abroad. The faces of the yellow-haired children, who were occasionally watching some geese, were mottled with blue and purple and goose-pimples, and if a man ventured abroad to pluck up weeds in the stunted rye, which seemed to shiver with a kind of rustling, starved chilliness, his hands were bluer than the air. So utterly worn out, so bluish-wan and starved with the lapse of untold centuries, seemed all the earth and the air of that Germany which I looked out upon on that dismal May forenoon.

Lamartine says the blood of the Germans is blue, but that of these Brandenburgers must certainly be sour.

It will readily be believed that I did not undertake a pilgrimage through this inexpressibly bleak region in pursuit of fine landscapes. I wished only to visit, by their own firesides and in their own fields, that sturdy, grim, Puritanic race of Brandenburgers, to whom Prussia is primarily indebted for all her greatness.

It was weary hours after the middle of the day before the spires of Wittenberg disappeared below a sand-hill. The afternoon was far spent, and I began to cast longing glances ahead in search of an eligible tavern, for I thoroughly agree with Dr. Johnson that “there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.”

I had come up with a thumping lout of a young peasant, who strode along with his “clouted shoon,” measuring[Pg 178] about a yard and a quarter at a stride, whose voice blubbered and gurgled up out of his stomach in such a manner that the fierce wind whisked it away, and left me nothing but an occasional horse-laugh (whereupon I would also laugh, though I had not the remotest notion of the matters whereof he was discoursing); and by his advice I passed several inns, though I found afterwards, to my sorrow, he was looking only for the cheapest. At last we came to one which was meaner than all the others, but I was too weary to go a step farther. It bore the pretentious name of the inn of the Green Linden. It was a mere hovel, built of cobbles and mud-stuccoed, tawny-yellow within, greenish-yellowish without, with an earthen floor and benches around the walls. Above the door were twined some sprigs of Whitsuntide birch, which I had seen during the day on the peasants’ hats, wagons, and everywhere.

Around a pine table were eight or ten men and hobbledehoys, each with a Schoppen of terribly stiff beer before him, and most of them smoking the long goosenecked porcelain pipe, while four of them were intent on cards. The men were hard, gristly-faced, sour-blooded fellows, who only muttered now and then a monosyllable, which I could seldom understand; while the youths looked on with the most vacuous, loamy countenances imaginable. So intent were they on the miserable game that they gave no heed to our arrival, and when I endeavored to ascertain who was the landlord, I received only a blank stare or a gesture of impatience. I sat down and waited, and I confess for a few minutes my enthusiasm for the Prussian people fell absolutely to the freezing-point.

After about half an hour the landlord seemed to be disturbed in his mind by a suspicion that I was a foreigner, drew near and ascertained that fact, whereupon he brought me some vile black coffee and some good wheaten Semmel,[Pg 179] and then returned to his occupation. The players continued at their game far into the night, and though the stakes were of the most trifling nature, often only a half-penny, they displayed a fierce and obstinate eagerness which was surprising. They would rise up on their feet, lean far across the table and smite it with appalling violence. When they at last desisted, and were preparing to disperse, they collected about me, and, finding I was an American, listened to me awhile with a kind of drowsy, immovable passiveness, while the smoke lazily swirled above their heads. Unlike the lively Swabians and the joyous drinkers of the sunny wine of Freiburg, they scarcely asked any questions or expressed any interest beyond grunting their assent or wonder.

At last the host and myself were left alone, and then he proceeded to prepare the only couch he could offer by shaking down on the floor a bundle of rye straw. He tucked me all up, as if I were one of his young Buben, shook the hand which I reached out from the straw, and left me with a cheerful Schlafen Sie wohl. In the adjoining room a lusty fellow stretched himself on a bench, pillowed his head on a portentous loaf of rye bread, not having even inserted that useful article of diet into a pillow-case, and there he snored—stertitque supinus—the livelong night in a tone so audible that I was greatly tempted to rise and introduce a wisp of rye straw judiciously into his windpipe.

When I sat up on my couch next morning, pulling the straw out of my hair, I said to myself, like Richard, “Oh, I have passed a miserable night!” I had not had any “fearful dreams,” nor, for that matter, any sleep, that I was aware of; neither had I any “ugly sights,” because it was too dark to see them, but I felt them. They appeared to be greatly rejoiced to be permitted, once in their lives, to extract blood out of a man’s veins instead of beer.

[Pg 180]

The next day I passed through spectacles of the most wonderfully minute and unceasing toil. In an artificial pine-forest, where the trees were become too large to be ploughed, there were men on their knees plucking the weeds between the rows; others in long sheep-skin cloaks were weeding fields of flax; a woman was culling in a royal forest the merest sprigs and leaf-stems for fuel; others along the roadside snipped off the close, short fleece of grass, and carried it in mighty bundles on their backs for the stalled cattle. Here a stalwart yeoman lazily leans his chin on his crook, guarding three sheep as they nimbly nibble! Peasant-women, going to the village to hawk their little produce, shuffled along with their wooden shoes, making a prodigious dust, chatting cheerfully with their stolid lords, though they were bowed down nearly to the earth beneath the intolerable weight of vegetables. And the infamous brutal tyrants trudged along beside the poor women, never even offering to touch the burdens with so much as one of their fingers!

I think the Prussians will certainly never “witch the world with noble horsemanship.” The horses are splendid creatures for farm-animals, strong and glossy and round, superb as the finest Clydesdales; but the owners seem to have no confidence upon their backs, and little skill in guiding them in vehicles. The Prussians are by no means a chivalric race, in the etymologic sense. In all my travels in Prussia I have yet to see a civilian on horseback outside of a city, and even there it is usually only officers who prance through the streets. The immense superiority of the Hungarian cavalry over the Prussian was abundantly demonstrated in the Bohemian campaign until the magnificent infantry battalions turned the scale; and the dreaded “three Uhlans” of Edmond About were far oftener Poles than Prussians.

[Pg 181]

It is said that the potentates of Germany, when paying a visit of ceremony to a foreign sovereign, always take with them a favorite charger or two to whose paces they are accustomed, that there may be no blunders or embarrassments in the reviews through their unskilful horsemanship. These poor peasants evince little more confidence in their skill than do their sovereigns, and the outrageously unprofessional and awkward manner in which they handle the noble brutes would enrage a lover of handsome horses beyond endurance. To save toll at the gates, they not unfrequently hitch one horse to a two-horse wagon, so that the pole bruises and thumps his legs in a shameful manner. And then to hitch the head of one gallant horse to the tail of another!

In the village of Beelitz I had an amusing adventure, resulting from my ignorance of the customs of the country, which illustrates a certain phase of Prussian society. Upon entering the village, I began to cast about me for some eligible tavern wherein I might take my customary mid-day repast. The first one I approached was the inn of the Black Horse, but there were rather too many yellow-haired, unwashed children and dingy geese about it; besides, the sign hung down from one corner. The only other inn was the White Eagle, which was scarcely any better, but it was Hobson’s choice. It was an extremely small and unpretentious edifice, though with walls nearly a man’s stature in thickness, and I could overhear the appetizing clink of knives on plates just inside the door; so, in doubt whether it was really a public tavern or not, I rapped. Only the clink of the dinner-knives responded. The operation was repeated with a certain amount of vigor. There was a kind of objurgatory remark made within, and in a moment the door was opened about two feet, and an immense brawny arm, bared to the elbow, was extended[Pg 182] around the edge of the door. In the fingers there was clutched a bunch of some substance which appeared to solicit my closer inspection. A single glance revealed to me the interesting fact that it was bread: it was undoubtedly bread.

This was an unexpectedly prompt response to my desires, and presented an opportunity for the acquisition of a limited amount of provisions cheap, but one of which my conscience would not permit me to avail myself. However, I scrutinized the bread with quite a lively interest. It was manifestly good bread, but was now somewhat dry: indeed, I may say it was altogether devoid of moisture. Presently the hand holding this article of diet executed a sudden movement of impatience, or as it were of beckoning or blandishment, as if I were expected to take this bread and masticate the same. But as I still hesitated, the hand was suddenly withdrawn into the tavern, there was a very audible remark made inside, and then the brawny hostess owning the hand presented herself at the door, and immediately appeared to have made an astounding discovery. Blushes and embarrassment! Stammerings! Mutual explanations! Ample and shamefaced apologies! A substantial dinner of boiled beef and cabbage! Moral: In a country where beggars are numerous never knock at the tavern door.


[Pg 183]

THE SALT-MINES OF WIELICZKA. [A]

J. ROSS BROWNE.

[J. Ross Browne, author of “Yusef,” “Crusoe’s Island,” “The Land of Thor,” etc., is well known for the humorous vein of many of his productions. Such is the case with “An American Family in Germany,” from which we make the following selection. It is at once humorous and instructive. The extract given, however, is simply descriptive, having too much of interest in itself to need any adventitious aid. The mine described may serve in a measure as an artificial counterpart to our natural Mammoth Cave. Descent into the mine was made by means of a long rope with canvas straps for seats. There is a stairway cut in solid rock-salt, but it is wet and slippery, and the rope is usually chosen in preference.]

[A] From “An American Family in Germany.” Copyright, Harper& Brothers.

In a few minutes we touched bottom, or rather, by something like instinct, the machine stopped just as we reached the base of the shaft, and allowed us to glide off gently on the firm earth. We are now at the first stage of our journey, having descended something over two hundred feet. The ramifications of the various tunnels are so intricate and extensive that they may be said to resemble more the streets of a large city than a series of excavations made in the bowels of the earth. These subterranean passages are named after various kings and emperors, and diverge in every direction, opening at intervals into spacious caverns and apartments, and undermining the country for a distance of several miles. Some of them pass entirely under the town of Wieliczka. In general they are supported by massive beams of wood, and where the overhanging masses of salt require a still stronger support they are sustained[Pg 184] by immense columns of the original stratum. In former times almost all the passages were upheld by pillars of salt, but wherever it has been practicable these have been removed and beams of timber substituted. The first stratum consists of an amalgam of salt and dark-colored clay. Deeper down come alternate strata of marl, pebbles, sand, and blocks of crystal salt. The inferior or green salt is nearest to the surface; the crystal, called schilika, lies in the deeper parts.

From the subordinate officer sent by the Inspector-General to accompany us I learned many interesting particulars in reference to the manner of procuring the salt. He also told some amusing legends of the prominent places, and furnished me with some statistics, which, if true, are certainly wonderful. For instance, to traverse the various passages and chambers embraced within the four distinct stories of which the mines consist, and see every object of interest, would require three weeks. The aggregate length of the whole is four hundred English miles; the greatest depth yet reached is two thousand three hundred feet. The number of workmen employed in the various operations underground, exclusive of those above, is upward of a thousand. The amount of salt annually dug out is two hundred millions of pounds, which, at the average market value, would be worth ten millions of gulden. Immense as this yield is, it is inconsiderable, taking into view the unlimited capacity of the mines. With proper machinery and a judicious investment of labor the quantity of salt that might be excavated is almost beyond conjecture.

It is natural to suppose that the air in these vast subterranean passages must be impure, and consequently deleterious to health. Such, however, does not appear to be the case. It is both dry and pure, and, so far as I could judge by breathing it, not in the least oppressive. The miners[Pg 185] are said to be remarkable for longevity. Several of them, according to the guide, have worked in the mines for forty years, and have never been sick a day. The equability of the temperature is probably conducive to health. Only a few degrees of variation are shown by the thermometer between summer and winter. It is true that in some of the deepest recesses, which are not sufficiently ventilated, hydrogen gas occasionally collects. In one instance it caught fire, and cost the loss of many lives, but precautions have since been taken to prevent similar accidents.

I was greatly impressed by the profound silence of these vast caverns. When we stood still the utter absence of sound was appalling. The falling of a pin would have been a relief. Not even the faintest vibration in the air was perceptible. No desert could be more silent, no solitude more awful. I stood apart from the guides and lamp-bearers in a separate vault, at the distance of a few hundred feet, in order that I might fully appreciate this profound inertion, and it really seemed as if the world were no more.

From some of these tunnels we emerged into open caverns, where a few workmen were employed at their dreary labors. I was surprised that there were not more to be seen, but was informed that they are scattered in small parties through miles of earth, so that the number is not apparent to the casual visitor. As we approached the places where they are at work the dull clicking of the picks and hammers produced a singular effect through the vast solitudes, as if the gnomes, supposed to inhabit gloomy pits, were busily engaged at their diabolical arts.

We came suddenly upon one group of workmen, under a shelving ledge, who were occupied in detaching masses of crystallized salt from a cleft in which they worked. They were naked to the middle, having nothing on but coarse[Pg 186] trousers and boots, and wrought with their crowbars and picks by the light of a few grease-lamps held by grimy little boys, with shaggy heads,—members, no doubt, of the same subterranean family.

Some of the men were lying on their backs, punching away with tremendous toil at the ragged masses of salt overhead, their heads, faces, and bodies glittering with the showers of salt grit that fell upon them, while others stood up to their armpits in dark holes delving into the lower crevices. Seeing our lights, they stopped to gaze at us. Was it possible they were human beings, these bearded, shaggy, grimy-looking monsters? Surely, if so, they well represented the infernal character of the place. Never upon earth (the surface of it I mean) had I seen such a monstrous group,—shocks of hair all powdered with salt, glaring eyeballs overhung by white lashes flashing in the fitful blaze of lamps, brawny forms glittering with crystal powder, and marked by dark currents of sweat. No wonder I stared at them with something akin to distrust. They might be monsters in reality, and take a sudden notion to hurl me into one of their infernal pits by way of pastime, in which case the only consolation would be, that where there was such an abundance of salt there would be no difficulty about the preservation of my remains.

After all, there was something sad in the condition of these poor wretches, shut out from the glorious light of day, immured in deep dark pits, hundreds of feet underground, rooting, as it were, for life in the bowels of the earth. Surely the salt with which other men flavor their food is gathered with infinite toil, and mingled with bitter sweat!

INNSBRUCK, THERESA STREET INNSBRUCK, THERESA STREET

[Pg 187]

Yet, strange as it may seem, I was informed by the guide that these workmen are so accustomed to this kind of life that they prefer it to any other. By the rules of the Directory they are divided into gangs, as on board a ship. The working gang is not permitted to remain under ground more than eight hours; it is then relieved. The current belief that some of them live in the mines is not sustained by the facts. In former times it is quite probable that such was the case. At present the administration of affairs is more humane than it was in an earlier period in the history of the mines. The operatives are free to quit whenever they please, as in any private establishment. Plenty of others are always ready to take their places. The pay is good, averaging from thirty kreutzers to a florin a day. Whenever it is practicable the work is done by the piece. Each man receives so much for a specified result. Good workmen can make two or three hundred florins a year. The salt is gotten out in various forms, according to the depth of the stratum. Where it is mixed with an amalgam of hard earth it is cut into cylindrical blocks, and exported in that form to Russia. The finer qualities are crushed, and packed in barrels for exportation to various parts of Prussia and Austria....

After a long and interesting journey through various subterranean streets and caverns, we emerged into the chamber of Michelawic, which is of such vast proportions that it is difficult for the eye to penetrate its mysterious gloom. A magnificent chandelier, cut out of the crystal salt, hangs from the ceiling. On grand occasions this is brilliantly lighted, and rich strains of music reverberate through the chamber. Nothing can equal the stupendous effects of a full band of brass instruments performing in this vast cavern. The sounds are flung back from wall to wall, and float upward, whirling from ledge to ledge, till the ear loses them in the distance; then down they fall again with a volume and fulness almost supernatural. It is impossible to determine from what quarter they[Pg 188] emanate, whether from above or below, so rich, varied, and confusing is the reverberation. Our guide, in a fine mellow voice, sang us a mining song, to test the effects, and I must say I never heard such music before. Indeed, so inspiring was it that I could not refrain from a snatch of my own favorite melody,—

“Oh, California! you’re the land for me!”

And when I heard it repeated by a thousand mysterious spirits of the air, and hurled back at me from each crystallized point of the cavern, the effect was so fine that I was struck perfectly dumb with astonishment. Lablache never made such music in his life, and no other singer of my acquaintance would be worthy of attempting it.

Soon after leaving the chamber of Michelawic we passed over a series of wooden foot-ways and corridors, extending a distance of fifteen hundred feet, through a great variety of apartments and rugged passages, named after the royal families of Poland and Austria. There were courts, and imperial rooms, and obelisks; chapels, shrines, saints, and martyrs; long rows of niches, containing statues of the old kings of Poland, all cut out of the solid salt. The design and execution of some of these were admirable, and the effect was gratifying, as well from the artistic skill displayed as the peculiarity of the material.

Descending to a second stage by means of a rough wooden stairway, which winds around the walls of an immense cavern of irregular shape, we wandered through a series of tunnels, opening occasionally into chambers of prodigious height and dimensions, till our guides announced that we were approaching the Infernal Lake. The lamp-bearers in front held up their lamps, and, peering through the fitful gloom, I could discern, some distance in advance, a sheet of water, the surface of which glistened with a[Pg 189] supernatural light. Arriving at the edge of this mysterious lake, which might well pass for the river Styx, a boat approached from the opposite shore, drawn by means of a rope. Numerous dark-looking imps were at work dragging it through the water. The sides rippled in the sluggish pool, and a hollow reverberation sounded from the dark walls of the cavern.

A gate-way was thrown open, and we descended some steps and entered the boat. It was a square, flat-bottomed craft, decorated with fancy colors, containing seats on each side, and capable of accommodating a large party. We took our places, and at a signal from the guide the boat moved slowly and silently over the dark depths, which seemed almost of inky blackness in the gloom.

As we thus floated on the infernal pool the solitude was awful. I could not but shudder at the thought that we were nearly five hundred feet beneath the surface of the earth. The dismal black walls, roughly hewn from the solid stratum of salt and marl; the tremendous heights overhead, and the apparent great depth underneath; the fitful glare of the torches, the rough, grimy faces of the attendants, and their wild costumes, gave a peculiarly infernal aspect to the scene. It was weird and sombre beyond conception.

We stopped a while in the middle of the lake to notice the strange effect of the plashing of the waters, when disturbed by a rocking motion of the boat, against the massive walls on either side. The reverberation was fearfully deep, rolling and swelling from point to point, till lost in the labyrinth of shafts and crevices far in the distance. Around and above us were innumerable ruffed points jutting out from the solid stratum, and archways reaching across deep fissures, and beams of timber braced against overhanging masses of rock. The sombre hue of the toppling[Pg 190] canopy and rugged walls was relieved only by the points of crystal salt upon which the lights glistened; mysterious shadows flitted in the air; and pale, greenish scintillations shot out of the gloom. It was, in truth, a subterranean universe of darkness, made visible by torches of grease and stars of salt, with an infernal sea in its midst, and inhabited by a very doubtful set of people, half earthly and wholly Satanic in appearance.

Continuing our voyage, after some minutes we approached a point beyond which all was an unfathomable wilderness of jagged walls and yawning caverns. Suddenly a blaze of blue fire burst from the gloom, throwing a ghastly hue over the crystal pinnacles, then faded slowly away. The guides now covered their lights, and we were left in utter darkness. Groans and cries were heard in the air, and plashing sounds echoed from the shores of the infernal lake. As these ceased a terrific report broke upon the stillness, and out of the gloom arose a blaze of red fire, gradually assuming shape till it stood before us in the form of a magnificent triumphal arch, bearing upon its front the illuminated motto,—

Glück-Auf!

signifying, “Good luck to you!” or, literally, “Luck upon it!” the famous greeting of the miners. Under this triumphal arch we passed slowly into an immense chamber, of such vast proportions and rugged outline that the eye failed to penetrate its profound depths. Then from various corridors, high among the conglomerate crags, descended mysterious voices, crying, one after another, “Glück-auf! Glück-auf! Glück-auf!” till the reverberation united them all in a grand chorus, so deep, so rich, varied, and powerful that mortal ears could encompass no more. Was it real? Could these be human voices and earthly sounds, or were they the distempered fantasy of a dream?

[Pg 191]

At a signal from our guide the chorus ceased, and shooting fires broke out from the toppling heights, and the whole grand chamber, in all its majesty, was illuminated with showers of colored stars. The inverted arches of fire in the water—the reflected images of rocks, corridors and precipices—the sudden contrasts of light and gloom—the scintillations of the crystal salt points—formed a scene of miraculous and indescribable grandeur. Unable to control my enthusiasm, I shouted at the top of my voice, “Glück-auf! Glück-auf!” The cry was caught up by the guides and torch-bearers; it arose and was echoed from rock to rock by the chorus singers, till, like the live thunder, it leaped

“the rattling crags among.” ...

After visiting many chapels and shrines cut out of the solid salt, we emerged into the Chamber of Letow, the magnificent saloon of Entertainment, where, on grand occasions, such as the visit of the Emperor or any member of the imperial family, the whole of this vast chamber is brilliantly illuminated. Six splendid chandeliers, carved from the crystal salt, hang from the ceiling. An alcove at the upper end, approached from a series of steps, contains a throne of green and ruby-colored salt upon which the Emperor sits. Transparent pictures and devices are arranged in the background to give additional splendor to the imperial boudoir, and the crystallizations with which the walls glitter reflect the many colored lights with a dazzling effect. The door-ways, statues, and columns are decorated with flowers and evergreens; the floors are sprinkled with salts of various hues; the galleries are festooned with flags; and the whole chamber is aglow with transparencies and brilliant lights....

Although the mass of the stratum of which this grand chamber is composed is of a darkish color, yet the very[Pg 192] darkness of the ground-work serves all the better to show by contrast the glittering points of salt. The effect is inconceivably rich. The arched roof; the high rugged walls, hewn out of the solid rock; the marks of the pick and chisel visible in furrows all over, all sparkling with saline gems, give the whole cavern the appearance of being studded with diamonds. It reminds one of the grottoes under the sea described by Gulnare in the Arabian Nights. When it is considered, too, that all this splendor and these festivities—the illuminated galleries and alcoves, the chandeliers and decorations, the vast concourse of guests, the music, the dancing, the wild and fanciful costumes—are five hundred feet below the surface of the earth, it is no exaggeration to say that the spectacle is unparalleled. Nothing to equal it in a similar way can be seen in any other part of the world. We next descended by a series of stairways to the third story. This differs but little from those already described, except that the deeper one goes the wilder and more rugged become the ramifications of the mines. At one point in our journey we entered a spacious chamber some eighty or one hundred feet high. Here the guide paused, and in an impressive manner struck his stick against the floor. When the reverberation had ceased he announced the important circumstance that we now stood directly under the Infernal Lake! “Ya! mein Herr,” said he, “that wonderful lake, over which we sailed in a boat not half an hour ago, is over our heads, and if it should break through it would drown every one of us!” “Rather an unpleasant pickle,” I thought, but could not translate the pun into German, and so let it pass.

It appears that the waters of this lake found a vent at one time, and deluged a large portion of the mines, and those of the panic-stricken operatives who were distant from the main shafts communicating with the surface of[Pg 193] the earth were suffocated while attempting to escape. Others, in their fright, fled at random, and, falling into deep pits, were dashed to atoms. In 1644 another destructive fire took place. All the wood-work was seized by the devouring flames, men and horses were roasted to death, and many of the workmen who escaped subsequently died of their injuries. This was one of the most fearful conflagrations on record. It lasted an entire year. The chambers and tunnels, deprived of their support, fell together in many places, causing immense destruction to the works. Even a considerable portion of the town of Wieliczka sank into the earth, and was engulfed in the general ruin.


THE JUMPING PROCESSION AT ECHTERNACH.

M. OGLE.

[The modern enlightenment of Europe is a class enlightenment only. The mass of many populations still dwell in the shadow of medićval superstition. As one example of this we append the following description of a curious religious mania, a relic from the centuries of medićvalism. The party of travellers with whom we have to deal had seen all there was to see in Trier (Treves), and the suggestion was made to go see the jumping procession at Echternach, which would come off on Whit-Tuesday. An expedition thither was accordingly organized.]

Our party was to consist of three carriage loads, and our escort were all to be en civile, and this last determination, I may remark, was, to a Prussian officer, a very weighty one. A Prussian officer, be it known, is always in uniform; the government do not hide away the army that fights their battles, protects their soil, and upholds their honor, for fear of wounding the susceptibilities and[Pg 194] irritating the nerves of the working classes; the country is proud of its army, and the army is proud of its uniform, and, as a rule, a Prussian officer always wears it. On this occasion, however, the uniform was to be doffed, and the extent and style of our friends’ respective possessions en civile, and their appearance under the metamorphosis, became a very important item in the general arrangements. Some gloried in the perfection of their projected “get up;” one or two had never possessed a suit of plain clothes since they entered the army; one had everything but a hat; another, having come from Dusseldorf on leave, was incapable of the transformation; still, with this one exception, all were looking forward to appearing, for one day, as civilians.

At a quarter to five on Whit-Tuesday we started in our carriage to seek a “topper” for our host and relative, Herr V. Hartstein Hochstein, four of his brother officers having generously promised him the required article. Our first venture was an unlucky one; the borrowed hat would not remain on Hartstein’s head, and though we made every possible effort to stretch it with feet and knees, our efforts were unavailing, and we had to try again. The second friend acknowledged that he had recklessly promised what he was incapable of performing; a third passed out a hat of indifferent color, and which, on trial, at once extinguished our friend as far as his coat collar. In fear and dread, and with incessant reference to our watches, we drove to our fourth and last hope. Here a hat, carefully wrapped in a number of the Cölnische Zeitung, was handed to us, and with a little manœuvring we settled that it might do. Having “requisitioned” two colored bandanas from a friend who was getting himself up for the expedition with the most elaborate care, Hartstein put his head into our hands, and by dint of wrapping, and twisting,[Pg 195] and folding, the hat was firmly settled in its place, without other inconvenience than the corner of a red pocket-handkerchief occasionally falling over his nose, and another corner permanently hanging over his left ear.

But these were comparative trifles; we reached the fine old Moselle Bridge, not much behind time, found our friends awaiting us, and started. This bridge, one of the many Roman monuments with which this strange old city abounds, was built in the reign of Augustus; only a portion of the massive foundation, and a few of the grand original pillars formed of enormous blocks of basalt, and fastened together by huge iron clamps, now remain. In all probability the bridge would still be standing in its integrity had it not been for “the most civilized nation of modern Europe,” who did their best, under their great king Louis XIV., to destroy this magnificent memorial of old world times. The ruined arches were restored and the bridge partially rebuilt by one of the Prince Electors in 1717, and in spite of its restoration, it is even now worthy of the venerable city to which it belongs.

Crossing the bridge, we turned to the right, and passing the village of Pallien, soon reached the foot of a spur of the Eifel range, a mountainous tract in the Province of Lower Rhine, extending from Coblenz, through Trier and Metz, into France. On these Eifel mountains are many extinct volcanoes; the soil is only suited for the pine-forests which cover their sides; and the dirty, rough, and poverty-stricken look of the villagers among the scattered and desolate hamlets marks them unmistakably as charcoal-burners.

After literally winding our way through this wild scenery for more than an hour, we suddenly came upon the lovely valley of the Sauer; so lovely that it is said to have attracted Willibrod by its beauty to found his Benedictine[Pg 196] monastery on the river’s banks; beautiful indeed it is, with its wooded hills and cultivated slopes; and beautiful it must have been so to have enthralled a worn and weary monk and missionary in the eighth century.

But before entering the valley I must relate a slight incident that occurred, as it especially characterizes a social phase in Prussia. We were anxiously toiling up a steep incline in single file, not even daring to rest our horses, for fear they should not be able to hold up the carriages, when a sudden turn showed us a small public-house at the top of the hill, in front of which sat a young Fähnrich (ensign). Two large carts laden with forage stood directly across the road, occupying its entire width, and two troopers, looking remarkably the worse for dirt, with pipes in their mouths, hands in their pockets, and outstretched legs in the form of a reversed V, quietly contemplated our struggling and perilous ascent. “In God’s name,” shouted the driver of the first carriage, “make room for us up there; we cannot halt, and if we cannot get on the level we shall roll backward, and all be killed.” No answer and no movement; we were becoming desperate. One of the officers en civile, forgetting his present insignificance, put out his head and shouted, “Move your carts, pigs, or I’ll know the reason why; would you see us all roll back to perdition?” “Roll away, holiday burghers, roll away,” contemptuously drawled out one of the chivalrous troopers, “the royal forage is not going to move for you.”

Our situation was truly frightful; at that moment our Dusseldorf friend, in his green uniform and sword, leaped out of the carriage, dashed up the hill, applied the flat of his sword with unsparing vigor to the backs of the astounded troopers, used a goodly amount of strong language to the abashed ensign, and before we had time to begin our backward descent the “royal” forage-carts were[Pg 197] placed close up against “the Public” in single file, and we were safely struggling to the top of the hill. It is just possible, only just possible, that had I been one of a party of “holiday burghers,” I might not have been alive in this year of grace to tell this tale.

And now we near the stone bridge which brings us over the Sauer from Prussia into Luxembourg; we are in plenty of time, but already feel the atmosphere of the procession. The country round is all excitement; groups of men and women in their holiday dresses are eagerly talking; some are kneeling and devoutly praying by the way-side, others are counting their beads and muttering their paternosters with careless tongues and wandering eyes; the instant our carriages cross the bridge we are thronged. “Oh! for the love of God,” says a girl, “give me a franc, or a ten-groschen piece, I don’t care which, and I’ll jump for all the sins you have committed since last Monday was a week.” “My lord,” says a man to one of our party, “five francs, and I’ll jump to the very cross for you without a halt, and cut you off all this year’s sins.” “Dear madam,” whined an old woman, “I’ll never reach the big crucifix, but I’ll do a little jumping for you for a franc.” I began now to realize that there is a jumping procession at Echternach.

We had been most kindly invited by the colonel commanding at Echternach to breakfast with him, and see the procession from his windows, which overlook the best part of the town, and we naturally availed ourselves of his courteous hospitality.

[The shrine of St. Willibrod, at Echternach, has for centuries been a place of pilgrimage, though the origin of the jumping mania is not definitely known. There are several traditions having to do with the cure of a pestilence by the saint. It is now believed that the penalty for sin is remitted in proportion to the height and strength of the jumping.]

[Pg 198]

Breakfast is finished, and we take our places at the windows. The procession has formed on the Prussian side of the stone bridge, a short address has been delivered to the excited people, and in the distance we hear the shrill sounds of the many-voiced instruments, and the strange measured, musical tramp of the coming thousands. Headed by the privileged Prussian parish of Warwieler, on they come, these simple pilgrims, in columns of parishes, four abreast, and hand in hand, each parish with its banners waving, and headed by its own musicians, for every man who has played for money during the year is bound to give his services on this occasion, and woe betide the man who fails to put in an appearance. The strange dance consists of two steps forward with the right foot and one step backward with the left, and is danced to a very simple melody, and not one of the many thousands is out of time. The wise ones literally step the measure, and generally accomplish the whole pilgrimage, which lasts about two hours and a half; but under superstitious excitement the wise ones are in the minority, and when the procession passed our windows, though never breaking their ranks or losing time, the majority were springing in a state of mad excitement, and, strange to say, the men were more “fast and furious” than the women. One man in particular was leaping to such a degree that at every step he sprang head and shoulders above the crowd, and as he had passed along, people rushed out of their houses and plied him with cider, which he invariably drank without losing his place or breaking time.

I do not recollect seeing one boy in the procession, though there may, of course, have been many, but there were hundreds of girls, all quiet and orderly. To watch the different moods and manners of these people as they passed on was a study well worth the journey; though the haggard faces and the drawn parched blue lips of many of[Pg 199] these benighted jumpers were sad enough to behold. After looking at them for some time from our windows, I suggested that we adjourn to the church, and so witness the close of the procession. This suggestion was not received enthusiastically, and only one friend was willing to take compassion on my English curiosity. Off we started, but were unfortunately obliged to pass through a break in the line, which we did as decorously as possible, and were invited with outstretched hands by those who still had breath to speak to join the procession and so wipe off some of our sins; this we gratefully declined, and made rapidly for the parish church.

The church, being on an eminence, is reached by a flight of stone steps, and we took up our position at their base. On, on, they came, these strange pilgrims, with their unfaltering tramp and unflagging melody; but, oh! in what thinned numbers and with what drawn faces. In sight of the blessed goal how many of them drop! and the man I had watched so anxiously fell prostrate at the bottom of the steps, looking as if his soul had been driven by this frightful pilgrimage to seek its rest in another world. But the strong and steady ones tramp up the steps, spring round the high altar in wild ecstasy, and passing out at the opposite door, jump round the tall crucifix, fall on their knees, and all is over.

We loitered for some time about the church, listening to the very primitive remarks of the dispersing crowd, and wondering at its strange infatuation; and as we returned to our little inn we passed many a prostrate and exhausted form, some of whom could never again, alas, know a day’s strong health. After a great deal of pleasant talk, a little eager discussion, and some very indifferent refreshment, I started on an excursion through the town, having an idea that I should find it morne et silencieuse, a sort of “city [Pg 200] of the silent,” after all the excitement of the morning. But, lo! from every Gasthof and Wirthshaus there came a sound of revelry; fiddles, flutes, cornets, laughing, dancing, everywhere. Could it be possible? Boldly I insisted upon my escort accompanying me into one of these petty inns, and going with me into an upper room, whence the gay sounds proceeded. Behold! the tearing galopade and the whirling waltz in one room, the bumping polka in another; and the “Queen of the Wirthshaus” ball, around whom the partners flocked and beseeched, was a stout young woman of about thirty, whom I had seen solemnly and deliberately footing it in the procession, without pause or hinderance from beginning to end. And all these devoted dancers of the many public-houses around and about had all been resolutely hopping away their sins from the bridge to the shrine for more than two hours.

Now let me record this wondrous fact. I went freely about through the town; I walked into small inns and public-houses, as I dared not have done in my own country; I was received politely everywhere; and in all that hilarious community, through the whole of that licensed holiday, from eight in the morning till late in the afternoon, I did not see one case of drunkenness. Yes, these people of the Eifel and the Sauer Valley and their surrounding towns may, perhaps, be debased by superstition, but at any rate they are not like some prouder communities I could name, thoroughly brutalized by drunkenness.

Our remaining half-hours were spent in the pleasure-gardens, where we fortified ourselves for the home journey with the inevitable coffee and Mai-brank,—Turk’s-head cake,—and sandwiches of brown and white bread and butter. We started at seven on our return to Trier, merry as we came, not one discordant note having jarred on the universal harmony; and to one only of our party had there[Pg 201] been anything like a hitch in the perfect pleasure of the day, and this hitch was occasioned by what, at the beginning of our journey, I had so foolishly considered “a comparative trifle,”—the ever-recurring red silk pocket-handkerchief from under Hartstein’s hat and over his nose, which sorely disturbed the equanimity and wounded the conjugal pride of his devoted wife. With this exception, our expedition had been a complete success; and I was indeed pleased to add to my travelling sketches the Jumping Procession at Echternach.


THE CAPITAL OF AUSTRIA.

JOHN RUSSELL.

[It is with Vienna as it appeared in 1825 that we here propose to deal, in the language of a traveller of that period, who has given a graphic account of what was then and there to be seen. Russell’s “Tour in Germany” is a sprightly and interesting work, and the Vienna which he describes, while yet in its chrysalis state, displayed many of the characteristics of the handsome and attractive city of to-day. Our extract begins with a distant view of the Austrian capital.]

On reaching the brow of the low eminences that border to the north the valley through which the Danube takes his course, a magnificent prospect burst at once upon the eye. A wide plain lay below, teeming with the productions and habitations of industrious men. On the east, towards Hungary, it was boundless, and the eye was obstructed only by the horizon. To the westward rose the hills which, beginning in orchard and vineyard, and terminating in forest and precipice, form, in this direction, the commencement of the Alps; and to the south the plain was[Pg 202] bounded by the loftier summits of the Styrian mountains. Nearly in the centre of the picture lay Vienna itself, extending on all sides its gigantic arms; and the spire of the cathedral, high above every other object, was proudly presenting its Gothic pinnacle to the evening sun. From this point the inequality of the ground on which Vienna stands strikes the eye at once, and the cathedral has the advantage of occupying the highest point of the proper city; for not only the spire, but nearly the whole body of the edifice, was distinctly seen above all the other buildings of the city.

Every one of the three hundred thousand inhabitants who crowd Vienna and its interminable suburbs seems to reckon it a duty to make his life a commentary. They are more devoted friends of joviality, pleasure, and good living, and more bitter enemies of everything like care or thinking,—a more eating, drinking, good-natured, ill-educated, hospitable, and laughing people,—than any other of Germany, or, perhaps, of Europe. Their climate and soil, the corn and wine with which Heaven has blessed them, exempt them from any very anxious degree of thought about their own wants; and the government, with its spies and police, takes most effectual care that their gayety shall not be disturbed by thinking of the public necessities, or studying for the public weal. In regard to themselves, they are distinguished by a love of pleasure; in regard to strangers, by great kindness and hospitality. It is difficult to bring an Austrian to a downright quarrel with you, and it is almost equally difficult to prevent him from injuring your health by good living.

The city itself is a splendid and a bustling one; no other German metropolis comes near it in that crowded activity which distinguishes our own capitals. It does not stand, strictly speaking, on the Danube, which is a mile to the[Pg 203] northward, and is separated from it by the largest of all the suburbs, the Leopoldstadt, as well as by the extensive tract of ground on which the groves of the Prater have been planted and its walks laid out. The walls, however, are washed, on this side, by a small arm of the Danube, which rejoins the main stream a short way below the city, and is sufficiently large for the purposes of inland navigation. On the south, the proper city is separated from the suburbs by a still more insignificant stream, which, however, gives its name to the capital, the Vienna. This rivulet, instead of serving effectually even the purposes of cleanliness, brings down the accumulated refuse of other regions of the town, and its noisome effluvia often render it an effort to pass the bridge across it, one of the most crowded thoroughfares of Vienna.

The proper city is of nearly a circular form, and cannot be more than three miles in circumference, for I have often walked quite around the ramparts in less than an hour. The style of building does not pretend to much ornament, but is massive and imposing; the streets are generally narrow, and the houses lofty, rising to four or five floors, which are all entered by a common stair. There is much more regularity, and there are many more cornices and pillars, in Berlin; in Dresden there is a more frequent intermixture of showy edifices; there is more lightness and airiness of effect in the best parts of Munich; and in Nürnberg and Augsburg there is a greater profusion of the outward ornaments of the olden time; but in none of these towns is there so much of that sober and solid stateliness, without gloom, which, after all, is perhaps the most fitting style of building for a large city. Some individual masses of building, in the very heart of the city, are as populous as large villages....

“The art of walking the streets” in London is an easy[Pg 204] problem, compared with the art of walking in them in Vienna. In the former, there is some order and distinction, even in the crowd; two-legged and four-legged animals have their allotted places, and are compelled to keep them; in the latter, all this is otherwise. It is true that, in the principal streets, a few feet on each side are paved with stones somewhat larger than those in the centre, and these side slips are intended for pedestrians; but the pedestrians have no exclusive right; the level of the street is uniform; there is nothing to prevent horses and carriages from encroaching on the domain, and, accordingly, they are perpetually trespassing.

The streets, even those in which there is the greatest bustle, the Kärnthnerstrasse, for example, are generally narrow; carriages, hackney-coaches, and loaded wagons, observing no order, cross each other in all directions; and, while they hurry past each other, or fill the street by coming from opposite quarters, the pedestrian is every moment in danger of being run up against the wall. A provoking circumstance is, that frequently a third part, or even a half of the street, is rendered useless by heaps of wood, the fuel of the inhabitants. The wood is brought into the city in large pieces, from three to four feet long. A wagon-load of these logs is laid down on the street, at the door of the purchaser, to be sawed and split into smaller pieces, before being deposited in his cellar.

When this occurs, as it often does, at every third or fourth door, the street just loses so much of its breadth. Nothing remains but the centre, and that is constantly swarming with carriages, and carts, and barrows. The pedestrian must either wind himself through among their wheels, or clamber over successive piles of wood, or patiently wait till the centre of the street becomes passable for a few yards. To think of doubling the wooden promontory[Pg 205] without this precaution is far from being safe. You have scarcely by a sudden spring saved your shoulders from the pole of a carriage, when a wheelbarrow makes a similar attack on your legs. You make spring the second, and in all probability your head comes in contact with the uplifted hatchet of a wood-cutter. The wheelbarrows seem to be best off. They fill such a middle rank between bipeds and quadrupeds, that they lay claim to the privileges of both, and hold on their way rejoicing, commanding respect equally from men and horses.

To guide a carriage through these crowded, encumbered, disorderly, narrow streets, without either occasioning or sustaining damage, is, perhaps, the highest achievement of the coach-driving art. Our own knights of the whip, with all their scientific and systematic excellencies, must here yield the palm to the practical superiority of their Austrian brethren. Nothing can equal the dexterity with which a Vienna coachman winds himself, and winds himself rapidly, through every little aperture, and, above all, at the sharp turns of the streets. People on foot, indeed, must look about them; and, from necessity, they have learned to look about them so well, that accidents are wonderfully rare, and very seldom, indeed, does it happen that the Jehus do not keep clear of each other’s wheels. The hackney-coachmen form as peculiar a class as they do in London, with as much esprit de corps, but more humor, full of jokes and extortion. It is said that the most skilful coachman from any other country cannot drive in Vienna without a regular education. A few years ago, an Hungarian nobleman brought out a coachman from London; but Tom was under the necessity of resigning the box, after a day’s driving pregnant with danger to his master’s limbs and carriage....

Vienna has some very noble public squares, though no[Pg 206] people requires them less for purposes of recreation; for, when amusement is their object, they hasten beyond the walls to the coffee-houses of the glacis, or the shades of the Prater, the wine-houses and monks of Kloster-Neuburg, or the gardens of Schönbrunn. The best of these squares happen to be in parts of the city where the fashionable world does not often intrude; they are not planted, but they are excellently paved; they are not gaudy with palaces, but they are surrounded by the busy shops and substantial and comfortable dwellings of happy citizens, and are commonly adorned with some religious emblem or a public fountain. Both the temples and fountains have too much work about them; there is too much striving after finery of sculpture, a department of art in which the Austrians are still very far behind. The consequence is, that there are crowds of figures which have no more to do with a basin of water than with a punch-bowl.

The Graben, an open space in the most busy part of the town, and entered at both extremities, by the narrowest and most inconvenient lanes in Vienna (although, on Sundays and festivals, it is the great thoroughfare of all classes, from the Emperor to the servant-girl), is embellished with two fountains. The fountains themselves are simple and unaffected; but it was necessary to have statues. Therefore at the one well stands Joseph explaining to the Messiah his Hebrew genealogy, and at the other St. Leopold holding in his hands a plan of the Monastery of Neuburg! The artist of the fountain in the Neumarkt, or New-market, seems to have felt the want of congruity in this union of holy saints with cold water, and he placed on the edge of his basin four naked figures, representing the four principal rivers of Austria, pouring their waters into the Danube, whose genii surround the pillar that rises from the centre. But even here comes something Austrian[Pg 207] and absurd. The basin is so small that half a dozen of moderately-sized perch would feel themselves confined in it; yet these four emblematical figures are anxiously gazing into the tiny reservoir, and brandishing huge tridents to harpoon the invisible whales which are supposed to be sporting in the waters....

Vienna is no longer a fortified city; promenading is the only purpose to which the fortifications are now applied; and, from their breadth and elevation, they are excellently adapted for it. In one part they look out upon the gradually ascending suburbs; on another the eye wanders over intervening vineyards, up to the bare ridge of the Kahlenberg, from which Sobieski made his triumphant attack against the besieging Turks, traces of whose intrenchments are still visible; in another it rests on the waters of the Danube, the foliage of the Prater, and the gay crowds who are streaming along to enjoy its shades. The twice successful attacks of French armies having proved the ramparts, or bastions, as they are universally called, to be useless for the protection of the citizens, trees, benches, and coffee-houses have taken the place of cannon, and rendered them invaluable as sources of recreation to this pleasure-loving people. On Sundays and holidays, so soon as the last mass has terminated (which it always does about mid-day), they are crowded to suffocation with people of all ranks.

Even on week-days, so long as the weather permits it, the coffee-houses, surrounded with awnings, are the favorite resort of persons, chiefly gentlemen, who prefer breakfasting in the open air, and in the evening they are the favorite resort of both sexes, especially of the middle classes. An orchestra in the open air furnishes excellent music; as night comes on (and the crowd always increases with the dusk) lamps are hung up among the trees, or suspended[Pg 208] from the awnings. The gay, unthinking crowd sits to be gazed at, or strolls about from one alley to another to gaze,—good and bad, virtuous and lost, mingled together, sipping coffee or keeping an assignation, eating an ice, or making love. Till ten o’clock, when the terrors of the Hausmeister drive them home, the ramparts, and the glacis below, form a collection of little Vauxhalls.

The glacis itself, the low, broad and level space of ground which stretches out immediately from the foot of the ramparts, and runs entirely around the city, except where the walls are washed by the arm of the Danube, is no longer the naked and cheerless stripe which it used to be. Much of it has been formed into gardens belonging to different branches of the imperial family; the rest has been gradually planted and laid out into alleys, and two years ago the Emperor, in his love for his subjects, allowed a coffee-house to be built among the trees. Beyond the glacis, the ground in general rises, and along these eminences stretch the thirty-four suburbs of Vienna, surrounding the city like the outworks of some huge fortification, and finally surrounded themselves by a brick wall, a mere instrument of police, to insure the detection of radicals and contraband goods, by subjecting everything and every person to a strict examination....

Though the suburbs, from the greater regularity of their streets, the smaller height of their buildings, and the general elevation of the site, are in themselves more open and airy than the city, yet, owing to the absence of pavement and the presence of wind, they can scarcely be said to be more healthy. Vienna, though lying in a sort of kettle, and not at so absolute an elevation as Munich, is more pestered by high winds than any other European capital. In the proper city the streets are paved, and excellently well paved; but throughout the immense suburbs[Pg 209] they present only the bare soil. This soil is loose, dry, and sandy, and the wind acting upon it keeps the city and suburbs enveloped in a thick atmosphere, loaded with particles of sand, which medical men do not pretend to deny has a perceptible influence on the health. From the summit of the Kahlenberg, an eminence about two miles to the west, I have seen Vienna as completely obscured by a thick cloud of dust as ever London is by a cloud of smoke; and our smoke is, in reality, the less disagreeable of the two. When the wind is moderate, and allows the dust to settle, rain commonly follows, and the suburbs are converted into a succession of alleys of mud....

The Prater of Vienna is the finest public park in Europe, for it has more rural beauty than Hyde Park, and surely the more varied and natural arrangement of its woods and waters is preferable to the formal basin and alley of the garden of the Tuileries. It occupies the eastern part of that broad and level tract on the north of the city, which is formed into an island by the main stream of the Danube on the one side, and the smaller arm that washes the walls on the other. They unite at its extremity, and the Prater is thus surrounded on three sides by water. The principal alley, the proper arive, runs from the entrance in a long straight line for about half a mile. Rows of trees, consisting chiefly of horse-chestnuts, divide it into five alleys. The central one is entirely filled with an unceasing succession of glittering carriages, moving slowly along its opposite sides in opposite directions; the two on each side are filled with horsemen, galloping along to try the capacity of their steeds, or provoking them into impatient curvetings, to try the effect of their own forms and dexterity on the beauties who adorn the open calčches.

The two exterior alleys are consecrated to pedestrians; but those of the Viennese who must walk, because not[Pg 210] rich enough to hire a hackney-coach, are never fond of walking far, and, forsaking the alleys, scatter themselves over the verdant lawn which spreads itself out to where the wood becomes more dense and impenetrable. The lawn itself is plentifully strewed with coffee-houses, and the happy hundreds seat themselves under shady awnings or on the green herbage, beneath a clump of trees, enjoying their ices, coffee, and cigars, till twilight calls them to the theatre, with not a thought about to-morrow, and scarcely a reminiscence of yesterday.

But though the extremity of this main alley be the boundary of the excursions of the fashionable world, it is only the beginning of the more rural and tranquil portion of the Prater. The wood becomes thicker; there are no more straight lines of horse-chestnuts; the numerous alleys wind their way unconstrained through the forest maze, now leading you along in artificial twilight beneath an overarching canopy of foliage, and now terminating in some verdant and tranquil spot like those on which fairies delight to dance; now bringing you to the brink of some pure rivulet, which trickles along unsuspectingly to be lost in the mighty stream, and now stopping you on the shady banks of the magnificent river itself.


THE ESZTERHÁZY PALACES.

JOHN PAGET.

[Paget’s “Hungary and Transylvania” is the source of our present selection, we having chosen, from his many pictures of Hungarian life and people, a description of the famous Eszterházys, a family renowned particularly for its jewels, which have been gathering for centuries in the castle of Forchtenstein.]

[Pg 211]

It was at six o’clock in the morning that the smart Presburg post-boy sounded his bugle, to express his impatience at the half-hour we had already kept him waiting ere we started for the Neusiedler Lake, in the neighborhood of which we intended to pass a few days. The journey to the end of the lake might be some sixty miles, and we reckoned to accomplish this by post within the day.

Of all the modes of travelling in Hungary, the post is the most expensive, and to me, at least, the most disagreeable. The supply of horses is too scanty, and if the traveller happens to arrive before or after the post-wagen, he must generally wait some time before he can obtain the number he requires. There is an awkward rule, too, which it is as well a stranger should know. If he arrives at any place with post, he can oblige the postmaster to send him on with the same number of horses he arrived with; but should he, as occurred to us on the present occasion, feel a wish to leave the post-road, and for that purpose hire private horses, at the next post-station they may refuse him a supply, or oblige him to take as many as they choose.

It was at Gschies we learned this rule, for the postmaster stoutly refused to send us on with a pair of horses, which was all we had previously required, and declared we should either take four or remain where we were. Entirely ignorant as I then was of any other means of getting forward, I at last consented, and desired him to give us the four horses. “But I have only three in the stable at present,” was his cool reply; “and you may either take those and pay for four, or you may remain where you are until to-morrow, when the others will come home.” Nor is this the only instance of gross imposition I could relate. The worst of it is, there is no redress. In one case I applied to the judge and notary of the village, and though they had[Pg 212] the best will to protect me, all they could do was to give me peasants’ horses, and so enable me to avoid the like treatment for the rest of the journey.

For the matter of speed, you get on by post at the rate of five miles an hour, with strong, large horses, and post-boys wearing huge cocked hats, each with a plume of feathers worthy a field-marshal, and a red coat with purple facings. But if ever the reader should have occasion to go from Vienna to Pesth, and is an amateur at driving, I recommend him to what is called the bauern post,—that is, if steamboats and railroads have not ere this entirely destroyed it.

The peasants between the frontiers of Hungary and Pesth, on the great high-road from Vienna, combined to supply relays of horses at a cheaper rate and better than the royal post; and though at first opposed by government, they eventually succeeded so well that at present the whole line is supplied by them almost exclusively. The pace at which these men, with their four small horses, take on a light Vienna carriage is something wonderful, especially when the length of some of their stages is considered. The last stage cannot be less than forty miles from Pesth, and, with a short pause of about a quarter of an hour to water, they do it for the most part at full gallop, and with the same horses, in four hours. It is glorious to see the wild-looking driver, his long black hair floating in the wind as he turns round to ask your admiration when his four little clean-boned nags are rattling over hill and hollow in a style which for the first time since he left home shakes an Englishman’s blood into quicker circulation. There is certainly a pleasure in rapid motion which has on some men almost an intoxicating effect.

BUDAPEST BUDAPEST

[Pg 213]

But to return to our five miles an hour. We passed through a well-cultivated country, chiefly inhabited by Germans, who have crept in upon this side of Hungary from Presburg nearly to the borders of Croatia. The Neusiedler Lake, or the Fertö Tava Hungarian, which we soon came in sight of, is about twenty-four miles long by twelve broad, varying in depth from nine to thirteen feet. In parts, particularly at the north end, its shores are hilly and pretty, but on the eastern side they are flat, and terminate in a very extensive marsh, called the Hanság.

It is supposed to be this lake which the Emperor Galerius drained into the Danube, and which has been allowed to re-form by the destruction of the Roman works. There is little doubt, I believe, as to the practicability of draining the lake again, if it were desired; but, as a neighboring proprietor observed, it would spoil some glorious snipe-shooting....

At Eisenstadt, some short distance from the lake, is a palace of the first of the Hungarian magnates, Prince Eszterházy. This palace, though not remarkable for its beauty (it is in a heavy, though florid, Italian style), is well fitted up for a princely residence. We walked through suites of apartments innumerable; but by far the most striking of them was the great ball-room, an elegantly-proportioned hall of great size, and richly ornamented in white and gold. This room was last used when the present prince was installed lord-lieutenant of the county of Oedenburg, an office hereditary in his family; and great is still the fame of the almost regal pomp with which he fęted the crowds of nobles who flocked around him upon that occasion.

The gardens, laid out in the English style, are very fine, and the hot-houses larger than any I remember to have seen; even Alton must bow to Eisenstadt. They contain no less than seventy thousand exotics, and are particularly rich in New Holland specimens. One can hardly help[Pg 214] lamenting that so much luxury and beauty should be wasted; for, except the inhabitants of Eisenstadt, to whom the gardens are always open, it is rarely that the palace or its grounds receive a visitor.

Great as is the splendor of some of our English peers, I almost fear the suspicion of using a traveller’s license when I tell of Eszterházy’s magnificence. Within a few miles of this same spot he has three other palaces of equal size.

Just at the southern extremity of the lake stands Eszterház, a huge building in the most florid Italian style, built only in 1700, and already uninhabited for sixty years. Its marble halls, brilliant with gold and painting, are still fresh as when first built. The chamber of Marie Theresa is unchanged since the great queen reposed there; the whole interior is in such a state that it might be rendered habitable to-morrow; but the gardens are already overgrown with weeds, and have almost lost their original form; the numberless pleasure-houses are yielding to the damp position in which they are placed, and are fast crumbling away; while the beautiful theatre, for which an Italian company was formerly maintained, is now stripped of its splendid mirrors, and serves only as a dwelling for the dormant bats, which hang in festoons from its gilded cornices. England is famous for her noble castles and her rich mansions, yet we can have little idea of a splendor such as Eszterház must formerly have presented. Crowded as it was by the most beautiful women of four countries, its three hundred and sixty strangers’ rooms filled with guests, its concerts directed by a Haydn, its opera supplied by Italian artists, its gardens ornamented by a gay throng of visitors, hosts of richly-clothed attendants thronging its antechambers, and its gates guarded by the grenadiers of its princely master, its magnificence must have exceeded[Pg 215] that of half of the royal courts of Europe. I know of nothing but Versailles which gives one so high a notion of the costly splendor of a past age as Eszterház.

Haydn was for more than thirty years maestro di capello to Prince Eszterházy; and, during that period, lived chiefly with the family. His portrait is still preserved, and it is almost the only picture of much interest the palace contains. Haydn was a very poor and obscure person when he was appointed one of the prince’s band; so much so, that no one thought even of giving the necessary orders for his being admitted into the palace. The following anecdote of his introduction to the prince is recounted by Carpani:

“The Maestro Friedberg, a friend and admirer of Haydn, lived with Prince Eszterházy. Regretting that Haydn should be overlooked, he persuaded him to compose a symphony worthy of being performed on the birthday of his highness. Haydn consented; the day arrived; the prince, according to custom, took his seat in the midst of his court, and Friedberg distributed the parts of Haydn’s symphony to the performers. Scarcely had the musicians got through the first allegro, when the prince interrupted them to ask who was the author of so beautiful a piece. Friedberg dragged the modest, trembling Haydn from a corner of the room into which he had crept, and presented him as the fortunate composer. ’What,’ cried the prince, as he came forward, ‘that Blackymoor!’ (Haydn’s complexion was none of those which mock the lily’s whiteness.) ‘Well, blacky, from henceforth you shall be in my service; what’s your name?’ ‘Joseph Haydn.’ ‘But you are already one of my band; how is it I never saw you here before?’ The modesty of the young composer closed his lips, but the prince soon put him at his ease. ‘Go and get some clothes suitable to your rank,—don’t let[Pg 216] me see you any more in such a guise; you are too small; you look miserable, sir; get some new clothes, a fine wig with flowing curls, a lace collar, and red heels to your shoes. But mind, let your heels be high, that the elevation of your person may harmonize with that of your music. Go, and my attendants will supply you with all you want.’ ... The next day Haydn was travestied into a gentleman. Friedberg often told me of the awkwardness of the poor Maestrino in his new habiliments. He had such a gawky look that everybody burst into a laugh at his appearance. His reputation, however, as his genius had room to manifest itself, grew daily, and he soon obtained so completely the good-will of his master, that the extraordinary favor of wearing his own hair and his simple clothes was granted to his entreaties. The surname of the Blackymoor, however, which the prince had bestowed upon him, stuck to him for years after.”

The only part of Eszterház at present occupied is the stables, which had just received an importation of twelve beautiful thoroughbred horses from England, with some very promising young stock. An old English groom had been sent out with them, and bitterly did he complain of the difficulties he had to encounter before he could convince the beamters—a race of hungry stewards by whom the estates of the nobles are mismanaged and the revenues plundered—of the many little wants and luxuries requisite for English race-horses.

The estates of Prince Eszterházy are said to equal the kingdom of Würtemberg in size; it is certain they contain one hundred and thirty villages, forty towns, and thirty-four castles! The annual revenue from such vast possessions is said, however, not to amount to one hundred and fifty thousand pounds per annum, though it is capable of considerable increase. The incumbrances at the present[Pg 217] time are greater than with most other Hungarian magnates, few of whom are indebted to a less amount than half their incomes.

I remember some years since an anecdote going the rounds of the papers to the effect that Prince Eszterházy had astonished one of our great agriculturists who had shown him his flock of two thousand sheep, and asked him with some little pride if he could show as many, by telling him that he had more shepherds than the other had sheep! By a reckoning made upon the spot, with one well acquainted, we found the saying literally true. The winter flock of Merinos is maintained at two hundred and fifty thousand, to every hundred of which one shepherd is allowed, thus making the number of shepherds two thousand five hundred! But, as a spirituelle of the neighborhood observed when we were discussing these matters, “Les Eszterházys font tout en grand: le feu prince a doté deux cents maîtresses, et pensionné cent enfans illégitimes!”

It is not right to leave Eszterház without mention of Hánystock, or the wild man of the Hanság. The Hanság is a bog about twenty miles long, on the borders of which Eszterház is built. About eighty years since, in some part of this bog, an extraordinary creature is said to have been found, possessing something of the human form, but with scarcely any other quality that could entitle it to a place among our species. It was three feet high, apparently of about the middle age, strongly built, and said to have webbed feet and hands. It was unable to utter any articulate sounds, lived entirely on fish and frogs, showed no signs of any passion or feeling, except fear and anger, and was in every respect in the lowest state of brutality. The most curious part of its history is that no one ever heard of it till accidentally found by a peasant in the bog, when it was brought to Eszterház, where, after remaining[Pg 218] fourteen months, it escaped, and was never heard of again. I believe there is some reason to suspect an imposition, for an Italian adventurer appeared and disappeared about the same time with Hánystock, and though unable to cite name or place, I feel pretty certain that a similar occurrence took place in another part of Europe soon after.

A few miles from Eisenstadt, and just on the confines of Austria, is a yet more interesting monument of what we should call feudal greatness, belonging to the Eszterházy family. The castle of Forchtenstein, built by a Count Eszterházy, is still in a perfect state of preservation. It is placed on a bold rock, and commands a view of the whole country to the northeast and south. It is now used as a prison for Prince Eszterházy’s peasantry,—for he is one of the few who retain the right of life and death, the jus gladii, on his own estates,—and is consequently guarded by a small detachment of very venerable-looking grenadiers.

The castle is sufficiently modern to have been laid out for the employment of artillery, as may be seen by the heavy bastions and long curtains, and is still sufficiently old to bear marks of the Gothic architect about it, of which the high watch-tower is not the least elegant. The interior has all the inconvenient straightness of a walled-in castle, and the apartments are for the most part small and simple. The most interesting object after the well, which is one hundred and seventy yards deep, and said to have been worked in the solid rock by Turkish prisoners, is the collection of arms. Besides arms sufficient for a regiment of foot and another of horse, which ere this an Eszterházy has equipped and maintained at his own cost, there is the gala equipment of a troop of cavalry which attended one of the princesses on her wedding-day, thirty pieces of artillery, suits of plain black armor for several hundred men, many curious specimens of early German[Pg 219] matchlocks, and a quantity of Turkish arms of almost every description.

One suit of armor is interesting from the tale of rude courtesy attached to it. It formerly belonged to a Count Eszterházy who fell in a battle against the old enemies of Hungary, the Turks. A ball from the Pasha’s own pistol had already pierced the Count’s cuirass, but, anxious to make more certain of his death, the Moslem leaped from his horse and beat the helmet of the Christian till he broke open his visor, when he discovered in the fallen foe an old friend by whom he had been most kindly treated when a prisoner in Hungary. Faithful to his friendship, the Turk made the only reparation in his power, for, after treating the body of Eszterházy with every possible mark of respect, he collected the armor in which he had died, and sent it, with the arms which had caused his death, as a present to his family.

A great number of banners, as well those taken from the enemy as those under which the followers of Eszterházy fought, are hung round the walls. It is characteristic of the times that most of the Hungarian flags bear a painting of the cross, with a figure of Christ as large as life.

In one room we noticed the genealogical tree of all the Eszterházys, in which it is made out, as clearly as possible, that, beginning with Adam, who reclines in a very graceful attitude at the bottom of the tree, they pass through every great name, Jewish as well as heathen, from Moses to Attila, till they find themselves what they are now, magnates of Hungary. What is still more extraordinary, there is a long series of portraits of these worthies from Attila inclusive, with their wives and families dressed in the most approved fashion, and continued down to the present century.

It is a pity the noble owner of Forchtenstein does not[Pg 220] imbibe a little of that Gothic mania so often ill-directed in England, and restore this castle to its former state. As a national monument of the taste of the Middle Ages in Hungary its restoration would be very desirable, and it would possess peculiar attractions, not merely from being the only castle of the kind here, but as a specimen of that mixture of the Asiatic and Gothic which, in those days, so strongly characterized the habits and customs of the Magyars, and the remains of which even yet distinguish them from the rest of Europe.

The only purpose for which it is at present used, except as a prison, is to contain the treasures of the prince. Of these I can only speak from report, for previously to my visit I did not know that in order to see them it is necessary to have two persons present who live at a distance, each of whom has a key, without which the other is of no use, and therefore had not provided against the difficulty.

The splendor of the Eszterházy jewels is no secret in England, and it is in this good castle those heaps of treasure, which so tempted her majesty’s fair lieges at her coronation, are commonly preserved. It is said that each prince is obliged to add something to these jewels, and that they can never be sold except to ransom their possessors from captivity among the Turks. When the French entered Hungary, a small party presented themselves before Forchtenstein and demanded its surrender. The grenadiers, however, shut the gates, cut the bridge, and set them at defiance; and, as the enemy had no means of enforcing obedience, Prince Eszterházy saved his jewels. Besides the jewels there is an extensive collection of ancient Hungarian costumes; among others, if I recollect rightly, one worn by King Mathias Corvinus.


[Pg 221]

FROM HAMBURG TO STOCKHOLM.

MRS. ANDREW CROSSE.

[It is a journey in Sweden which our traveller proposes to describe in the work from which we quote, but we find the story of her journey to Sweden more interesting, and give her graphic account of the German cities of Hamburg and Lübeck, and the picturesque water route along the Swedish coast, ending with an account of what she saw of interest in Sweden’s capital city.]

Our route to Sweden was by Hamburg and Lübeck, for at the latter place we were to pick up some of our party; and, indeed, under any circumstances, it is the best route for a first visit to the country, for then you approach Stockholm by the Baltic. The average passage from London to Hamburg by steamer direct occupies forty hours, but the waves and winds were favorable, and we accomplished the distance in four hours less. However, calm as the seas were, every tourist’s soul felt more in sympathy with Nature when we were actually in the river Elbe. By daybreak we were steaming up towards Hamburg, past the pleasant suburb of Blankensee, which reminds one very much of Richmond. It is a collection of magnificent villas—indeed, one might say palaces—built among the hanging woods of the river-bank.

Hamburg was more worth seeing than I expected; in the older parts there are very picturesque bits, consisting of tall, ancient houses, leaning at different angles over the dark and busy waters of the canal,—indeed, both streets and canals are crowded with the world’s commerce. Everything nowadays comes from Hamburg. Chemistry competes with the vineyards of Spain in producing what we[Pg 222] innocently drink as sherry. We survive it, so we must be grateful to Chemistry for her wonderful adaptations.

The modern portion of Hamburg has been entirely rebuilt since the memorable fire of 1842. What a useful renovator a great fire is to an old city; there is nothing like it for a great clearing out of nuisances! The new quarter here is extremely handsome and imposing. The greater part of the houses built around the artificially-formed lake called the Binnen Alster are the residences of the great citizens, for whom nothing seems too luxurious. The Binnen Alster communicates with the Grosse Alster, and here we saw for the first time the little fidgety steamboat-omnibuses which later on became so familiar to us at Stockholm.

Time did not permit us to see the Zoological Gardens, which are said to be almost the best in Europe; for the hour for starting for Lübeck had arrived, and we were obliged to leave the wealthy city of Hamburg but half explored.

During our pleasant railway drive of two hours we were struck with the immense number of birds that we saw; the whole air seemed alive with them. Every homestead has its stork’s nest,—indeed, it forms part of the building, which is considered incomplete without it. The stork is held in great reverence among all the northern people, and any stranger who is wicked or foolish enough to molest one of these birds is sure to be severely punished. In Whitelocke’s “Memorials,” the author mentions that, in returning by this route from his embassy to Sweden, in the time of the Commonwealth, one of his suite killed a stork in this very district, and that he was with difficulty rescued by the ambassador himself from being seriously maltreated by the natives.

Arriving at Lübeck, when the evening light was red[Pg 223] upon the beautiful Holstein Thor, and upon the many spires and towers of the quaint old town, it seemed almost as if we had been dropped into the Middle Ages. It impressed me more strongly with a sense of Old-World life than Nürnberg, Regensburg, or any other of the German towns that I have visited dating from about that time.

The environs of Lübeck are very pleasant in summer, for the whole country round is so densely wooded, and there are drives in all directions to quaint little villages that look like pictures out of the past....

I shall never forget our first night on the Baltic. It was a veritable poem of beauty. The sea was so tranquil that it reflected all the hues of the gorgeous sunset, and our ship seemed as though in a translucent medium of colored light, which came from below, around, above us. We watched and watched till the tremulous yellow and crimson horizon had paled in intensity, giving place to an exquisite golden green, which lingered on till the silvery moonlight made its path across the sea, and then we knew it must be night, though darkness there was none. If going to bed was not a sort of respectable duty enforced by the habits of the animal, I don’t think we should any of us have gone below.

We did not sleep late, for six o’clock found us all reassembled again on deck, enjoying the crisp freshness of the morning air, and the sight of the waves dancing in the sunlight. The arrangements on board these steamers are excellent; everything is clean and comfortable, and the food well cooked. At six o’clock coffee and rolls are served on deck, at nine o’clock there is a serious breakfast in the saloon, where you have your choice of tea, coffee, or light claret, and a taste, if you like, of the national strong waters, which every Swede partakes of before a meal. Eggs, hot cutlets, with vegetables, are interspersed with a variety of[Pg 224] savory cold dishes, such as dried salmon, reindeer tongue, or ham of bear, which is very good. The favorite breadstuff is a sort of biscuit made with seeds; it seems strange at first, but after a time one gets to like it very much. After this substantial breakfast you may very well subsist till two o’clock dinner,—a meal which occupies an hour and a half nearly. The cuisine is excellent, and there is nothing to do particularly on deck in the middle of the day except to select an easy seat under the shady awning, so you submit to the table-d’hôte with admirable patience.

After dinner the Swedes regale themselves with a glass of sherry or cognac, with a cigar, and an hour later you will see every coterie with their glasses of seltzer water and fruit syrup. At seven o’clock supper is served, and then “may good digestion wait on appetite,” if happily you have any of the latter left. Before bedtime a seductive beverage called Swedish punch is produced, which is stronger than it seems, and should be sipped with caution. It is a noteworthy fact that the charge for all these good things was extremely moderate, as, indeed, prices are throughout Sweden. It seems the only cheap place for touring left in Europe. Norway is quite a third dearer,—thanks, I suppose, to the English invasion....

There is a peculiarity about the coast of Sweden; it is said to have two coasts, an inner and an outer one, the latter being a fringe of islets, so numerous that no map or chart can mark them. It is marvellous how vessels make their way through this labyrinth. If you leave Calmar in the evening, you find yourself the next morning in the thick of this Skargard, or reef defence. At first the scene is very desolate; the rocks are barren, and the only sign of life the lonely house of a pilot, round which the sea-birds were screaming in their whirling flight.

When about five hours’ distance from Stockholm the[Pg 225] scene changes; the barren desolation gives place to wooded islets clothed with the most exquisite vegetation. The beauty of a veritable fairy-land surrounds you. You are in the midst of floating groves and gardens. It is quite unlike any other scenery that I know in Europe; it is not like a lake or river, for there is no expanse of water. The steamer threads its way among a crowd of islands; you could sometimes touch land with a boat-hook. The character of the islets is most varied; at one moment you pass a tiny floating meadow enamelled with flowers, whose sweet scent is wafted in every zephyr; on the other side is a grotesque grotto, or the semblance of a ruin, shaded by the graceful birch-trees that group themselves together. Another time you pass a longer island, with its belt of dark firs, intersected with miniature fjords and little sanded bays. No pencil could do justice to the loveliness of this changing scene.

Approaching the capital, the islands are more extensive and numerous; pretty villas are dotted about the woods, and you see terraced gardens and well-kept lawns. It was market-day when we arrived, and it was very picturesque to see the boats laden with fruit, vegetables, and other necessaries of life proceeding on their way. Each house, or cottage, sent out its messenger boat to make purchases at the floating market, and the scene was very animated and amusing. In another half-hour we were passing the superb deer park of Stockholm, and then we were under the sentinel forts of the capital, and directly afterwards by the side of the busy quay. The first sight of the “Venice of the North” pleased us more than the far-famed Queen of the Adriatic, that city of souvenirs that can hardly be seen by the “light of common day.”

Seen from the Kungsholmen, Stockholm looks like a city floating on the sea, especially when the image of all this[Pg 226] crowd of churches, palaces, and towers is reflected in the blue mirror of the calm, tideless waters.

It is the fashion to admire the Royal Palace, built on the highest of the three islands of Stockholm, but it has too much the appearance of a vast barrack. It was completed in 1753, from a design of Count Tessin, a Swedish architect of renown. It seems to want towers, or irregularities of some sort, to break the painfully straight lines of this mass of building.

The interior bears a strong family likeness to every other palace in Europe. The upholsterer is decidedly the presiding genius in Royal apartments, where dazzling chandeliers, rich brocades, and oppressive gilding are more or less the properties of all alike. In Paris they vary the scene by turning the royal or imperial upholstery out of the window, from time to time, and making a bonfire of the same for patriotic reasons.

However, in the Royal Palace of Stockholm we did light upon some individual belongings,—some instances of characteristic taste. In the picture-gallery there was, at the time of our visit, an unfinished painting, from the pencil of the late King Carl. It stands on the easel, just as the master’s hand had left it, a few months only before he passed away, in the prime of life and of popularity. The scene selected by the royal artist is one of those forest-fringed lakes of Dalecarlia, with a lovely and enticing vista of green valley and distant waterfall. The solemn aspect of the pine-woods, bathed in the after-glow of the delicious northern sunset, is well given in this picture, breathing forth something of that mingling of mystery, beauty, and gloom which characterizes the ancient mythology of the land. One might quote the king’s own lines:

“Everywhere we found in Nature
Spirits fitted to interpret
Saga tales of Sweden’s childhood.”

[Pg 227]

[Our traveller here describes her visits to the scientific and educational institutions of Stockholm, and gives some statistics which we may safely omit.]

However, this is not quite the place for tabulating facts; for are we not on a holiday trip? We English have an almost incurable habit of trying to acquire useful information while en voyage. If a man goes up a mountain, instead of enjoying the fresh air and exercise, he must needs go armed with scientific apparatus enough to start a government laboratory. Now, in Stockholm you may really enjoy yourself thoroughly if you only keep clear of museums and learned institutes, those traps for the unsuspecting holiday-maker, who, before he is aware, finds himself suffering from a surfeit of useful knowledge. Don’t look at “Murray” or “Baedeker,” but just allow yourself to go with the tide in this pleasure-loving city. In the forenoon one must eat ices in the delicious little café called the Strömparterre. It is a garden by the water-side, and, though quite in the centre of the town, bright with a profusion of flowers and waving trees. Here you may sit and watch the little steamers coming and going every few minutes from the Djurgárd Park. The waters are alive with these boats, and with other craft, for the locomotion of the city is mostly conducted by water. One can go anywhere and everywhere, it would seem, for a few ocre, and remember there are a hundred ocre in a riksdollar, and a riksdollar is about thirteen pence of our money.

One of the first of many pleasant excursions that we made was to Mariefred and the royal castle of Gripsholm. This interesting place is on the south side of the Mälar Lake. The steamer from Stockholm takes about three hours, and the voyage gives one an opportunity of seeing some of the prettiest scenery in the environs of the capital. The deep fjords, the fairy islands, the well-wooded banks of[Pg 228] the Mälar Lake, present an ever-changing combination of picturesque objects. Conspicuous among the rest is the high rock of Kungshatt, where stands a pole with a hat, to keep alive the story of some king of old, who jumped on horseback from this giddy summit into the water below, when pursued by enemies, and only suffered the inconvenience of losing his hat. What a habit this must have been in the old times! for one hardly ever sees a nasty bit of rock with an ugly chasm yawning beneath, that you don’t hear of some ill-advised persons taking the leap either for love or hate....

The Castle of Gripsholm was erected in the twelfth century by Bo Jonsson Grip, a certain Crœsus of those days; in fact, he was the most powerful noble in the land, and was selected by Alberta of Mecklenburg to be his “all-powerful helper,” for then as now the Swedes hated the Germans. The Rhyming Chronicler of the time says that Bo Jonsson “ruled the land with a glance of his eye.” He had a bad habit, however, of using his sword as well as his eye, for history tells us how he followed his foe, knight Karl Nilsson, into the church of the Franciscans at Stockholm, and hacked him to pieces before the high altar!

When Gustavus Vasa became king, after his romantic wanderings and hair-breadth escapes in Dalecarlia, he rebuilt Gripsholm, and it became the favorite residence of royalty. These castle walls have witnessed many dismal scenes, quite out of harmony with the lovely and natural surroundings, for there are few fairer spots in all Sweden.

In one of the towers Eric XIV. kept his brother John a prisoner for several years. The latter had married a Polish princess, and was concerned in a war against Sweden, but, falling prisoner, was sent by the king to the castle of Gripsholm. This Eric was one of our Queen Elizabeth’s suitors, and history records that by way of[Pg 229] making himself acceptable he sent ambassadors to the English court with costly gifts, among which were eighteen piebald horses and several chests of uncoined bars of gold and silver, strings of Oriental pearls, and many valuable furs. Queen Elizabeth accepted the gifts, but declined the alliance. It was a way she had.

The interior of Gripsholm is a perfect museum of curiosities: there are nearly two thousand historical portraits, and a vast quantity of antique furniture, old tapestry, and curious silver vessels, which had served their time at royal banquets.


THE MIDNIGHT SUN.

LANGLEY COLERIDGE.

[The midnight sun, as visible at the summer solstice from the North Cape of Norway, is becoming one of the necessary spectacles of modern travel. Alike for those who cannot and for those who hope to go there we give the following description of what a former traveller saw from this cape and on the way thither.]

I really cannot tell what is the great charm of Norway, nor do I think the nameless charm is the same for each. Perhaps those who are old travellers enjoy Norway most. It is well known that in order to do the Whole Duty of Travel an apprenticeship must be served, by no means an irksome one; on the contrary, full of delight; nevertheless, it is an apprenticeship, and, until it has been served, no man can pass as a member of the travelled community. The curriculum includes a knowledge of Paris, of the Rhine, of Switzerland, and a dozen regular rounds. When these have all been “done,” then comes Norway as a land of pure delight to the traveller.

There are no picture-galleries to make one’s neck ache;[Pg 230] no museum to make the weary feet throb; no promenades; no sherry-cobblers to sip while bands play in the gardens; no continuations of London and Brighton. There are no crowds; you may see a magnificent waterfall all by yourself, or ascend a hundred Rigis without meeting a soul. There are no loafers; and you may get into boats and out of boats, into carrioles and out of carrioles, without one humpbacked beggar-boy or man with his eye in a sling to whine at you, or one officious person getting in the way in order to be paid for it. There are no mammoth hotels, where you have to climb a dozen flights of stairs before you can reach your bed; no billiards when once you have left the three chief towns; no stuffy railways to whizz you past the best scenery; no dressing for dinner.

Now, all these things, to one who has been over and over again to the most civilized places in the world, are very refreshing; and yet these are perhaps but minor points, and do not explain the secret of the great charm of Norway. Rip Van Winkle’s was a wonderful sleep; he woke and found the world had gone forward a hundred years; but the traveller who sleeps on the North Sea and wakes up in the morning in Norway has had a more wonderful sleep. He wakes and finds the world has gone back half a millennium! Southward the countries of Europe have struggled and slaved in the race for the perfection of civilization, while Norway is as it was in the beginning. Southward the countries have obeyed the watchword, “Forward!” Norway has obeyed the signal, “As you were!”

Now, fancy yourself—you, who have done as the Southerners do—arriving at a little village in an out-of-the-way place in Norway. Nobody flutters about your carriole to escort you to a hotel, but you enter the “station,” a low, rambling wooden structure, with diffidence. You see the lady of the house and shake hands with her;[Pg 231] you ask her to be good enough to let you stay there the night; you enter a bedroom, where everything is plain as a deal box, but clean as a Dutch tulip. Then you sit down with the family in the general room to your meal. It will assuredly consist of either trout and salmon, or salmon and trout, with perhaps an egg, perhaps potatoes, perhaps black bread. No Bass, but perhaps some Norsk Öl, a very pleasant beverage. After supper you will smoke a pipe with your landlord, who will probably invite you to see the pigs, or will lend you a hand to splice up any broken harness of your carriole.

About nine or ten o’clock you will go to bed, in the broad daylight if it be summer-time, and in the morning you will wake up, finding the landlady’s daughter at your bedside, with a delicious cup of hot coffee and a natty little roll, or perchance a biscuit. And then, still early in the morning, you will bid farewell as to old friends, you will shake hands all round, and away in your carriole to drive through romantic scenery, and to feel as though Norway had been made specially for you.

Before you have been two days in the country you will love the quaint, unsophisticated people, so hearty in their kindness, so ungrudging in their hospitality, and their Old-World manners and customs, so genuine in an age of sham, so solid in an age of veneer. One great charm of Norway, then, is its people; another, and perhaps more to be appreciated by some, is its scenery.

“Is it like Switzerland?” No; Norway is only like Norway. It is not so grand as regards the height of its mountains, yet its grandeur is far more solemn. It has a dozen fjords more startling than the Lake of Lucerne; in a day’s journey you will pass waterfalls and cascades which would make a fortune to “proprietors” in Switzerland, and are not so much as mentioned in the Norwegian guide-books.[Pg 232] Switzerland is grand beyond compare, but it must be confessed it is a monotonous grandeur. Not so with Norway: its charms of scenery are varied as they are unique. A coast wild and rugged; mighty pine-forests, interminable; lakes beautiful as Windermere; fjords awful in their grandeur; valleys rich in their fertility; fjelds bare and barren; sport with the gun, sport with the rod; these and a hundred other charms may be entered in the catalogue.

But all these are outweighed by the strange, weird beauty and grandeur of the neighborhood of the North Cape. I know of nothing that comes within the range of tourist experiences that will make a more lasting impression on the memory than a day or two in the region of the midnight sun.

For the student, the professional man, the overworked generally, and especially those whose brains are overworked, there is no tour that will be more beneficial than the one I propose briefly to sketch.

Go to Christiansand. Then, if you have never been to Norway, proceed to Christiania, and, after staying a day or two in that interesting town and neighborhood, continue your journey either to Trondhjem or Bergen, it matters not which, or, better still, if you can, do both. The trip to one, the other, or both, will give you a good idea of scenery in Norway. At either Bergen or Trondhjem take the steamer for Hammerfest. And then will commence one of the most delightful voyages it is possible to make.

The steamer keeps close to the shore, and the shore is the most curious in the world; you have but to look at a map to see its wonderful indentations; you cannot realize them until you find yourself now in a bay or a cove, now among groups of islands, then in the midst of a fjord, with sheer rocks rising perpendicularly from the sea, and anon in the harbor of a little town, with groups of wondering[Pg 233] peasantry around you. You will see some parts of the coast so wild that you cannot credit the fact that human beings can be found there, and you will find verdant nooks so peaceful and pretty that you will be tempted to think that there, away from the world, you would like to build your house and finish up your days. At one time you will come to the haunts of water-fowl innumerable; at another a shoal of whales will be around you.

The towns and villages at which you will halt will have a special charm. The curious costumes of the people; the antique architecture of their houses and churches; the good, but old-fashioned, contrivances connected with their fishing avocations,—all these will be novel.

Among the red-letter days of the trip will be a sail among the Loffoden Islands, “jagged as the jaws of a shark,” and swarming with sea-fowl; a glimpse at the neighborhood of the Maelström, so celebrated in fable; a visit to a Lapp encampment, and an occasional stroll through some of the towns at which the steamer stays. Tromsö is one of these halting-places: it is a modern town, which has grown rapidly. It was only founded in 1794, and in 1816 had but three hundred inhabitants; now, owing to the success of its herring-fishery, it has grown strangely for Norway, and has a population of over five thousand. It is charmingly situated on an island, and its rich fertility contrasts most singularly with the wildness of the surrounding mountains. Hammerfest, too, is interesting, not only because it is the most northerly town in the world, and because “in the season” it is crowded with representatives of all nations, who come here to trade, but because here you are within the limits of the region of the Midnight Sun, and from here you will take your boat (unless you continue by the Vadsö steamer) for the North Cape.

The effect of the midnight sun has been variously described.[Pg 234] Carlyle revels in the idea that while all the nations of the earth are sleeping, you here stand in the presence of that great power which will wake them all; Bayard Taylor delights in the gorgeous coloring; and each traveller has some new poetic thought to register. For myself the midnight sun has a solemnity which nothing else in nature has. Midnight is solemn in the darkness; it is a hundredfold more solemn in the glare of sunlight, richer than ever is sun under tropical skies. It is “silence, as of death;” not the hum of a bird, not the buzz of an insect, not the distant voice of a human being. Silence palpable. You do not feel drowsy, though it is midnight; you feel a strange fear creep over you as if in a nightmare, and dare not speak; you think what if it should be true that the world is in its last sleep, and you are the last living ones, yourselves on the verge of the Eternal Ocean?

It is amusing, afterwards, to think of the way in which you landed on your excursion to the North Cape; how every one seemed impressed with the same idea that it was a sacrilege to break the silence, and the party that set forth in high spirits had settled down into the gravity of a funeral cortége. And it is strange how the stillness and awfulness, felt while in the little boat upon the silent sea, held you spellbound and entranced; and the spell could not be broken until you set to work on the difficult climb to the head of the North Cape. And when you reached the top you felt—well, I don’t know how.

To some standing on the highest part of the plateau, a thousand feet above the sea, and looking away to that great unknown Arctic Ocean, it has seemed as if they had come to the end of the earth; that they were gazing upon the confines of the eternal regions; that they saw in the distance the outlines of the land of which it is said, “There is no night there.”

[Pg 235]

Every tourist mind has its own particular magnet. I do not know what event in the history of a tourist life most attracts my memory. No one can ever forget the day when he first gazes upon Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives; or Damascus seen from the Mount of Mohammed; or the sunny morning when he rounds the Golden Horn, and Constantinople bursts on the view.

These are memories which never grow dim; and I am inclined to think that when a tourist finds himself in a small boat at midnight, drawing near to the North Cape in the midst of the most gorgeous sunlight ever seen, he has found a sensation which will be green in his memory to the day of his death.

In this brief paper I have not found time to be practical. The trip to the North Cape should be made in June or July; it may be made in August or September, and in the latter month there is a chance of seeing the first blushes of the Aurora Borealis. I am much inclined to think that a winter excursion to the North Cape would be one of the grandest sensations that the tourist’s heart could wish, but of this I am not in a position to judge.

If my readers are like myself, they never bring one summer trip to a close before they have arranged in their own minds for the next; and so I throw out the hint that ere the North Cape shall be scribbled over with the names of Smith and Jones; ere excursion boats, with Ethiopian serenaders on board, shall put forth from Hammerfest; ere a big hotel shall stand upon the summit, and a man shall blow a horn to announce when “the sun is at its best,” it will be well to consider whether a trip to the North Cape is not worth serious consideration.


[Pg 236]

IN THE RUSSIAN CAPITAL

SAMUEL S. COX.

[“Arctic Sunbeams,” by Hon. S. S. Cox, is full of matter of interest, the author seeing well and telling ably. We give some of his impressions of St. Petersburg, beginning his journey at the fortress and city of Cronstadt, the strongly-defended port of the capital of Russia.]

Leaving the arsenals, dock-yards, wharves, batteries, and ships of this Gibraltar of the Czar,—and but for which St. Petersburg might have been burned, like another Moscow, by its own hands, rather than it should have fallen into those of an invader,—our steamer glides on what becomes a summer sea of smoothness. The few passengers begin to appear on deck and stretch their vision for the first glance at the imperial city. Upon the right, snug amidst its royal greenery, lies the town of Peterhoff and its domes, minarets, and imperial palace, with its splendid woods and waters. Our time is opportune for a glorious sight, for it is sunset, and the sun goes down here at a discreet hour. Bright dots of burnished gold begin faintly to spangle the sky in front. They are domes, half hidden by the mist and the distance. Then a tall spire, also gilded, brilliant and needle-like, pierces the heavens! It is the Admiralty spire, or perhaps that of the Church of the Fortress, the Westminster of Russia, the mausoleum of its dead kings. A few moments, and St. Isaac’s Church, the St. Peter’s of Russia, looms up in majestic and stupendous proportions. Its copper dome is surrounded by four others, all ablaze, like burnished gold, and surmounted by the gilded Greek cross which towers aloft, above the bronze[Pg 237] saints and angels which people its architraves and its corners, its roofs and its pillared granite cupola! Beneath it is a city whose roofs of varied hue cover almost a million of people; a city the outgrowth from a swamp in less than two hundred years.

We enter the Neva, whose divided waters flow in canals and lagoons between grand pavements and superb palaces. At length we are moored—alas! how soon the beatific vision vanishes!—amidst the traffic and troubles of trade. We are to undergo a search, the first yet made with rigor since our journey began. Nor can I complain of this rigor. Recent events make police regulations here necessarily stringent. But was it not a little humorous to see the long-robed customs officers scrutinize the heterogeneous matters in our trunks? Nothing was found contraband but—what think you?—New York journals!

We had received a mail at Stockholm, and expected to read up fully in St. Petersburg. Some dozen of these journals lay in a pile in my wife’s trunk. It would have done you good to see the leonine voracity with which these papers were seized. Who was it that talked of the thousand tongues of the press, clearer far than the silver trumpet of the jubilee,—louder than the voice of the herald at the games? These tongues had not a word of protest; the music of their trumpet was frozen like that of the veracious traveller. Out of the bundle tumbled an engraving of Charles XII., the old enemy of Russia! Did I tremble for the ominous spectre of this dead madcap of Sweden? The courteous officer handed it back with a gracious smile to my wife, who reached for the rest of the bundle, while her face flushed at the indignity to and the confusion of her domestic arrangements. But, with a hasty push and an impetuous “Niebt! Niebt!” (No! no!) our papers were confiscated to the state. The Sun would not[Pg 238] go down in this land; the Tribune was a voiceless oracle; the World ceased to “move after all;” the Times were out of joint, and the Express came to a dead halt! But all this had its compensations; for soon we cross the great bridge, and are housed in the Hôtel d’Angleterre, where though no papers were found in our expected mail, plenty of news as to the President, and the land we love, were found in letters, and these twelve days only from New York.

There shine into my windows, in dazzling glitter, the copper domes of that marvel of cathedrals, St. Isaac’s, which we saw from afar, upon whose sides and pedestals, encamping night and day about us, are the angels of this edifice of beauty! The guns of the citadel thunder out the memory of this, the birthday of the Empress of this vast empire; and, in spite of all ominous auguries to the contrary, we sojourn in peace and safety in this city of beauty and bazaars, palaces and pigeons, monuments and minarets, domes and deviltry, ceremonies and cemeteries, armies and assassinations!

Why does everybody, except the Russians, call this city St. Petersburg? It was not named after St. Peter, but Peter the Great. It is a magnificent city of palaces and wide avenues. Its very hospitals and barracks are palatial, and there is no narrowness to any thoroughfare. Its domes, where not painted blue with golden stars, or green, are gilded, and make the city seem like a Constantinople new-risen upon the North. In fact, with its canals and rivers, its streets, columns, and palaces, its churches, and their outside and inside decorations, St. Petersburg combines in itself and in its vistas, in its plan and its magnificence, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, and Constantinople. If it were not stucco on the yellow houses, if it were only solid stone, how much more impressive would be its mighty and superb[Pg 239] aspect! Only one palace is of granite, and but one church, St. Isaac’s, of marble.

The energy which has reared such a city out of a bog in less than two centuries betokens the one-man energy which its founder inspired and illustrated. Still, St. Petersburg, as a look from an elevation will show, unless it be approached as we approached it, by the gulf and river, is a vast plain, if not a swamp. The Neva saves it. It is a splendid river, and makes its delta where the city stands. It is a city of islands, connected by beautiful bridges. Red granite faces the banks and makes the quays solid structures. Everything is colossal like the empire. The informing genius of the male gender is Peter the Great, and of the other gender Catherine II. If these sovereigns were insane, and they were very peculiar for Russia, more insanity is desirable among the princes of the earth. Peter opened this city, as he said, for a window for Russia to look out of into civilized Europe. Peter was a useful emperor for Russia and his time, although he did many diabolical things.

[Mr. Cox ventured upon a witticism, in consequence of which he was mistaken for Mark Twain, whose peculiar vein of humor seems to have made its mark on the Russian guide. He proceeds to give his opinion of Russian humor.]

The Russian humor is like that of Byron, which Edgar Poe said was too savage to be laughed at. Some one calls it grotesque savagery; and illustrates it by the freaks of Russian princes and czars. John the Terrible thought there was no church like that of St. Basil, and put out the architect’s eyes to end any future work of that gifted artist. Peter the Great proposed to hang the lawyers in his realm. He thought one was too much. There is a story of the Empress Anne, who married off her favorite[Pg 240] dwarf or fool in an ice palace and gave them an icy marriage-bed, where they froze to death. This I have seen pictured in fine color and delineation. It was a Russian pleasantry. Catherine II. slaughtered many of the men whom she did not love—out of a vagary of fun. Most of the people here hold their revels in graveyards. Peter stuffed the skin of one of his favorite servants—a tall fellow—and put him in a museum. Paul issued a ukase against shoestrings and round hats. He was fond of colors, and had fantastic hues painted on bridges and gates. It is hardly mirthful to make an eagle out of gun-flints and swords, or portray a group in heaven of Russians looking down on Jews, Germans, and negroes. But this is Muscovite merriment. In the Moscow markets the slaughtered animals are stuffed with sawdust and look odd. It is said of the Emperor Paul that he dug up the bones of those who murdered his father to pulverize them and blow them to the winds. He arrested an Englishman for not taking off his hat to Royalty, and ordered him to wear magnifying-glasses. This was jolly but not exceptional, for the Russian is not adept in making genial fun. The climate is not genial.

[After seeing something of St. Petersburg on foot, he took a carriage,—whose characteristics he thus describes:]

The drosky is an odd-looking fleet sort of cab, which barely seats two. It is near the ground, and if it upsets, it is safer than when it is going. Its speed over the boulders is immense. Its driver is good, and good-humored. The carts, wagons, drays, as well as droskies, have a peculiar harness for the horse. The eminent characteristic of the establishment is a sort of harness or yoke, about four or five feet above the animal’s shoulders. This is not peculiar to Russia, but it is here developed in a higher[Pg 241] degree. It rests on the shafts, and somehow, as I believe (loquor non inexpertus), the horse has freer motion and an easier draught under this yoke. It does not strain him about the vitalities like our harness. He seems to run loosely as under a canopy of green, though many of the yokes are thus painted with emblems and owners’ names on them.

While watching a caravan of these yokes which do not oppress, I had occasion to look through a long line of them, fifty in number, carrying the rye-flour in sacks across the city, and discovered another peculiarity. There is a stout rope from the horse’s shoulders to the front axle, which extends some two feet out of the hub to hold these extra traces. The strain seemed to be upon these traces as much as upon the shafts; and just as I was driving in a hurried way—for our driver was dashing at the usual pace—one of our wheels came off and rolled a rod, and down we were! Thanks to the good gray team and some promptitude, we escaped harm; while sympathies all about from the gathered crowd showed that there was much kindness upon the street....

What sights to our unaccustomed eyes are on every side as we drive! Little Tartar children dressed in green; the soldiers with heavy coats and long spears, from the tribes of the Don, the Cossack of history; hussars of red, gay uniform; Caucasian soldiers, with dresses as gay as the Spahis of Algiers,—with the various large-breeched natives, in top-boots, or with red shirts only covered by a dark vest,—add to the spectacle.

The avenues are wide, and lined with high yellow buildings, palaces, and government edifices, all proportionate to the immense empire of the two continents. The signs look quaint with their peculiar lettering, and the houses, which rarely have doors in front, are unusual in their[Pg 242] aspect. The sheet-iron roofs painted green and red; the police in their green uniform and sword; the rivers and canals, full of strange craft darting about in active business, some from far inland, laden with grain, and some bearing passengers over the Neva and under its bridges,—all these odd pictures contribute to keep us on the alert. We drive along the Neva, whose splendid avenues and quays are one. They are lined by the same yellow buildings, where the families of the royal house reside. Then we cross the Neva on a pontoon bridge, called the Troutsen, from which a splendid view is had of the spreading waters of the river,—bounded at one end by the elegant edifice of the Commercial Exchange. In winter the river is used for races upon the ice.

Then we turn into Alexandria Park, and admire the villas of the merchant princes upon the lagoons into which the Neva is divided. From the rounding point we perceive the Finland Gulf, Cronstadt, and Peterhoff, and all the points which we passed on our route hither. Then we turn into the Zoological Gardens, where white bears and young cubs, wolves, and walruses, along with thousands of pleasure-seekers, together enjoy the brilliant mimic scenes till midnight. There we found (for fifteen cents only) a splendid theatre, out-doors, and famous dogs and monkeys performing, followed by a ballet in pantomime, in which Greeks and Turks play parts, and in which the heroes and heroines of the former are lifted through a gorgeous display of many-colored lights into clouds of glory, amidst the cheers of the populace, which never forgets that Turkey is its natural foe, and that Constantinople is its natural if not national capital....

Upon our drive we notice some fine triumphal arches—copied after the classic models and those of other countries—and other monuments, but none equals the superb[Pg 243] Alexander column, erected in 1832. It is a solid shaft of red granite, the greatest monolith of the world. It is based on an enormous block of red granite. There is an angel on the summit. The monument is one hundred and fifty-four feet high, and has a noble and inspiring grace and grandeur. Other statues to Peter and Catherine, besides statues to soldiers and poets, make every square of this grand city monumental. There is also an equestrian statue of Nicholas. The horse is like that of General Jackson’s in Lafayette Square, Washington, and stands upon his hind legs only. It is so much more elegantly and gracefully posed that I could not but compare it to the disadvantage of our own favorite charger.

On no day have we failed to find something about Peter the Great! In “the summer gardens” there is an old palace, where are sacred relics of his handiwork, such as chairs, cabinets, and Chinese designs. The kitchen and bathroom have tiles of the old Dutch style, which he greatly affected. The chimney is as huge as the room. Within is a prison, where he is said to have kept his personal enemies, without benefit of habeas corpus or clergy. It looks gloomy, and the grating seems to be peculiarly adapted to a jail; but it is not very likely that Peter would have enjoyed such society in his own favorite home....

The drives in the parks are beautiful. Therein is a lovely palace where lived the Princess Dagmar before she became empress. The armory here forms a museum of wonderful interest, for it has gifts of untold value from Spain to Persia and beyond. Every kind of gun, sword, and dagger is here; and those from the conquered sheiks and khans of Asia shine resplendent in jewels by the mass. The saddle-cloths from the Orient, and especially the presents from the Shah of Persia, are the richest known to any collection in the world. Among the manifold things here[Pg 244] to be seen are the lock and key found near the site of the temple of Jerusalem; the jewelry of the harem of the Khan of Khiva,—a wonderful collection for female adornment; Chevalier Bayard’s cuirass; a spear which opens after it enters the body; an alarm clock which shoots off a gun to awaken the sleeper; the flags taken in the Hungarian insurrection of 1849; the baton of Schamyl, the Circassian chief, who fought Russia so many years; the emeralds, by the quantity, which the Shah of Persia sent to the Czar; the “horse furniture” of the Indian sheiks, and a circular knife which they used to hurl, which cut your head off before you could say your little prayer; and as a proper apex to this collection of curious gifts and gems, worth alone sixty millions of rubles, the sword of Mazeppa, the brave hetman of the Poles, who will never cease to ride through histrionic and historic dangers on that fierce untamed charger of the desert!...

If you would find in full perfection the richest in all respects of all the palaces in the world, I suppose the Winter Palace would be that superlative edifice. Since the attempt to blow it up as the royal people were about to dine it has been closed. I made an effort, through Colonel Hoffman, our chargé d’affaires, to obtain an entrance for the Americans now stopping here, but vainly. Recent events forbade. The Czar himself will not go into it again. It is shut for two years. This was a disappointment, but it was partly compensated for by admission to the “Hermitage,” which is a part or a neighbor to the Winter Palace. But the Hermitage seems to be enough for all our time.

All the “masters,” old and young, native and foreign, are in profusion here, as well as specimens of the exhaustless mineral glories of Russia and Siberia in every form of carved beauty and tasteful grace. Museums of ancient statuary, coins, jewels, and intaglios, illustrating every age and[Pg 245] phase of history, and, as a climax of interest, the relics of the city of Kertch and other palaces in the Greek colonies of two thousand years ago,—now in southern Russia,—are here. This exhibition supplements General Cesnola’s Cyprian antiquities, and would add fresh interest to our home museum. Upon these Greek relics are found such dresses, worn by the ancient Scythians, as our drosky-drivers now wear, and bas-reliefs on these old vases show horses managed exactly as my former Ohio constituent, Rarey, used to quell the worst “Cruisers” of the equestrian world.

But, as a small American boy remarked at the end of our six hours’ promenade through these corridors, “We feel two thousand years old ourselves, we have travelled so much and so far.”

Do you ask, is Peter the Great to be found at the Hermitage? Surely, he is everywhere. Here are his lathes, tools and knives, and plaques, or disks of copper and ivory, cut by his own hand. Here, too, is his measuring-staff, which was a foot taller than any one in our party, and that of his valet, a foot taller than Peter! How could he be such a warrior, statesman, mechanic, and architect, ruling such an immense and incongruous people so well, and make so many knick-knacks with his own hand and out of his own mechanical contrivance? This conundrum puzzles the brain. We are curious to know the secret of Peter’s power, and of the glamour of grandeur around this giant of Muscovite history and modern civilization....

The staircase of this palace of the Hermitage has no equal in its size and proportion. Outside, there are immense black colossal porphyry figures bearing up the portico, each an Atlas itself. They are emblems of the eighty millions of subjects, which from every rank uphold this extended empire. With its sixty millions of farmers, now free; its seven millions of villagers, its one million of gentry,[Pg 246] nobles, and officers, and its four millions of military men and their families, it would seem that the vast edifice of the Russian power would be stable, supported by such Atlantean shoulders. Is it really so? Time will tell. For the welfare of all it is to be wished that there was more comfort and elevation among these vast masses of men.


A VISIT TO FINLAND.

DAVID KER.

[Finland is now Northern Russia, and the Finns are classed as Russians; but it is so only in autocratic decrees and tax-lists. The Finns cannot, by any governmental metamorphosis, be transformed into Russians, and their land will still retain its individuality. In winter it lies deep within the domain of the ice-king. How it appears in summer is described in the following record of travel.]

“Why don’t you go to Imatra?” asks my friend P—— as we lean over the side of the Peterhof steamer and watch the golden domes of St. Petersburg rising slowly from the dull gray level of the Gulf of Finland. “Now that you’ve seen a bit of Central Russia, that’s the next thing for you to do. Go to Imatra, and I’ll go too.”

“And where on earth is Imatra?” ask I, innocently.

“Oh, come! you don’t mean to say you’ve never heard of Imatra? Why, everybody knows it. Let’s go there next week.”

Nevertheless, it so happens that I have not heard of Imatra,—an ignorance probably shared by most people out of Russia, and perhaps not a few in it. But I am destined to a speedier acquaintance than I had anticipated with the famous waterfall (or “foss,” as the natives call it), which,[Pg 247] lying forty miles due north of the Finnish port of Viborg, close to the renowned “Saima Lake,” attracts the amateur fishermen of St. Petersburg by scores every summer....

Accordingly, behold all our preparations made,—knapsacks packed, tear-and-wear garments put in requisition, many-colored Russian notes exchanged (at a fearful discount) for dingy Finnish silver,—and at half-past ten on a not particularly bright July morning we stand on the deck of the anything but “good ship” “Konstantin,” bound for Viborg.

Despite her tortoise qualities as a steamer, however (which prolong our voyage to nearly nine hours), the vessel is really luxurious in her accommodations; and were her progress even slower, the motley groups around us (groups such as only Dickens could describe or Leech portray) would sufficiently beguile the time,—jaunty boy-officers in brand-new uniforms, gallantly puffing their papirossi (paper cigarettes) in defiance of coming nausea, and discussing the merits of the new opera loud enough to assure every one within earshot that they know nothing whatever about it; squat Finnish peasants, whose round, puffy faces and thick yellow hair are irresistibly suggestive of over-boiled apple-dumplings; gray-coated Russian soldiers, with the dogged endurance of their race written in every line of their patient, stolid, unyielding faces; a lanky Swede, whose huge cork hat and broad collar give him the look of an exaggerated medicine-bottle; the inevitable tourist in the inevitable plaid suit, struggling with endless convolutions of fishing-tackle and hooking himself in a fresh place at every turn; three or four pale-faced clerks on leave, looking very much as if their “overwork” had been in some way connected with cigars and bad brandy; a German tradesman from Vasili-Ostroff (with the short turnip-colored moustache characteristic of Wilhelm in his normal[Pg 248] state), in dutiful attendance on his wife, who is just completing her preparations for being comfortably ill as soon as the vessel starts; and a fine specimen of the real British merchant, talking vehemently (in a miraculous dialect of his own invention) to a Russian official, whose air of studied politeness shows plainly that he does not understand a word of his neighbor’s discourse.

Directly we go off the rain comes on, with that singular fatality characteristic of pleasure-trips in general, arising, doubtless, from the mysterious law which ordains that a man shall step into a puddle the instant he has had his boots blacked, and that a piece of bread-and-butter shall fall (how would Sir Isaac Newton have accounted for it?) with the buttered side downward. In a trice the deck is deserted by all save two or three self-devoted martyrs in mackintosh, who “pace the plank” with that air of stern resolution worn by an Englishman when dancing a quadrille or discharging any other painful duty. The scenery throughout the entire voyage consists chiefly of fog, relieved by occasional patches of sand-bank; and small wonder if the superior attractions of the well-spread dinner-table detain most of our fellow-sufferers below. What is this first dish that they offer us? Raw salmon, by the shade of Soyer! sliced thin and loaded with pepper. Then follow soup, fried trout, roast beef, boiled ditto, slices of German sausage, neck of veal and bacon, fried potatoes and cabbage. Surely, now, “Hold, enough!” Not a bit of it: enter an enormous plum-pudding, which might do duty for a globe at any provincial school; next, a dish of rice and preserve, followed by some of the strongest conceivable cheese; finally, strawberries and bilberries, with cream and sugar ad libitum. Involuntarily I recall the famous old American story of the “boss” at a railway refreshment-room who demanded fifty cents extra from a passenger[Pg 249] who stuck to the table after all the rest had dined and gone away. “Your board says, ’Dinner, three dollars and fifty cents!’” remonstrated the victim.—“Ah! that’s all very well for reasonable human bein’s with one stomach apiece,” retorted the Inexorable; “but when a feller eats as if there were no hereafter, we’ve got to pile it on!”

As we pass Cronstadt the fog “lifts” slightly, giving us a momentary glimpse of the huge forts that guard the passage,—the locked door which bars out Western Europe. There is nothing showy or pretentious about these squat, round-shouldered, narrow-eyed sentinels of the channel; but they have a grim air of reserved strength, as though they could be terribly effective in time of need. Two huge forts now command the “southern channel,” in addition to the four which guarded it at the time of the Baltic expedition during the Crimean war; and the land-batteries (into which no outsider is now admitted without special permission) are being strengthened by movable shields of iron and other appliances of the kind, for which nearly one million roubles (one hundred and fifty thousand pounds) have been set apart. The seaward approaches are commanded by numerous guns of formidable calibre, and far away on the long, level promontory of the North Spit we can just descry a dark excrescence,—the battery recently constructed for the defence of the “northern passage.” Thus, from the Finnish coast to Oranienbaum a bristling line of unbroken fortification proclaims Russia’s aversion to war, and the gaping mouths of innumerable cannon announce to all who approach, with silent eloquence, that “L’empire c’est la paix.” It is a fine political parable that the Western traveller’s first glimpse of Russian civilization should assume the form of a line of batteries, reminding one of poor Mungo Park’s splendid unconscious sarcasm, when, while wandering helplessly in the desert, he came[Pg 250] suddenly upon a gibbet with a man hanging in chains upon it; “Whereupon,” says he, “I kneeled down and gave hearty thanks to Almighty God, who had been pleased to conduct me once more into a Christian and civilized country.”

[The steamboat journey ended at the Finnish port of Viborg, eighty miles by land from St. Petersburg, and now accessible by rail.]

“We must breakfast early to-morrow, mind,” says P——, as we settle into our respective beds, “for a march in the sun here is no joke, you bet!”

“Worse than in Arabia or South America?” ask I with calm scorn.

“You’ll find the north of Russia a pretty fair match for both at this season. Do you happen to know that one of the hottest places in the world is Archangelsk on the White Sea? In summer the pitch melts off the vessels like butter, and the mosquitoes are so thick that the men on board the grain-ships fairly burrow into the corn for shelter. Good-night! Sharp six to-morrow, mind!”

Accordingly, the early daylight finds us tramping along the edge of the picturesque little creek (dappled here and there with wood-crowned islets) in order to get well into our work before the sun is high in the sky, for a forty-mile march, knapsack on shoulder, across a difficult country, in the heat of a real Russian summer, is not a thing to be trifled with, even by men who have seen Turkey and Syria. A sudden turn of the road soon blots out the sea, and we plunge at once into the green silent depths of the northern forest.

It is characteristic of the country that, barely out of sight of one of the principal ports of Finland, we are in the midst of a loneliness as utter as if it had never been broken by man. The only tokens of his presence are the[Pg 251] narrow swath of road running between the dim, unending files of the shadowy pine-trees, and the tall wooden posts, striped black and white like a zebra, which mark the distance in versts from Viborg, the verst being two-thirds of a mile.

To an unpractised eye the marvellous smoothness and hardness of this forest highway (unsurpassed by any macadamized road in England) might suggest a better opinion of the local civilization than it deserves; for in this case it is the soil, not the administration, that merits all the credit. In granite-paved Finland, as in limestone-paved Barbadoes, Nature has already laid down your road in a way that no human engineering can rival, and all you have to do is to smooth it to your own liking.

And now the great panorama of the far North—a noble change from the flat unending monotony of the Russian steppes—begins in all its splendor. At one moment we are buried in a dark depth of forest, shadowy and spectral as those which haunt us in the weird outlines of Retzsch; the next minute we burst upon an open valley, bright with fresh grass, and with a still, shining lake slumbering in the centre, the whole picture framed in a background of sombre woods. Here rise giant boulders of granite, crested with spreading pines,—own brothers, perhaps, of the block dragged hence eighty years ago from which the greatest of Russian rulers still looks down upon the city that bears his name; there, bluffs of wooded hill rear themselves above the surrounding sea of foliage, and at times the roadside is dotted with the little wooden huts of the natives, whence wooden-faced women, turbaned with colored handkerchiefs, and white-headed children, in nothing but a short night-gown with a warm lining of dirt, stare wonderingly at us as we go striding past. And over all hangs the clear, pearly-gray northern sky.

[Pg 252]

One hour is past, and still the air keeps moderately fresh, although the increasing glare warns us that it will be what I once heard a British tourist call “more hotterer” by and by. So far, however, we have not turned a hair, and the second hour’s work matches the first to an inch. As we pass through the little hamlet which marks the first quarter of our allotted distance we instinctively pull out our watches: “Ten miles in two hours! Not so bad, but we must keep it up.”

So we set ourselves to the third hour, and out comes the sun—bright and beautiful and destroying as Homer’s Achilles:

“Bright are his rays, but evil fate they send,
And to sad man destroying heat portend.”

Hitherto, despite the severity of our pace, we have contrived to keep up a kind of flying conversation, but now grim silence settles on our way. There is a point in every match against time when the innate ferocity of man, called forth by the exercises which civilization has borrowed from the brute creation, comes to the front in earnest,—when your best friend becomes your deadly enemy, and the fact of his being one stride in advance of you is an injury only to be atoned by blood. Such is the precise point that we have reached now; and when we turn from exchanging malignant looks with each other, it is only to watch with ominous eagerness for the coming in sight of the painted verst-posts, which somehow appear to succeed one another far more slowly than they did an hour ago.

By the middle of the fourth hour we are marching with coats off and sleeves rolled up, like amateur butchers; and although our “pace” is as good as ever, the elastic swing of our first start is now replaced by that dogged, “hard-and-heavy” tramp which marks the point where the flesh[Pg 253] and the spirit begin to pull in opposite directions. Were either of us alone, the pace would probably slacken at once, and each may safely say in his heart, as Condorcet said of the dying D’Alembert, “Had I not been there he must have flinched!”

But just as the fourth hour comes to an end (during which we have looked at our watches as often as Wellington during the terrible mid-day hours that preceded the distant boom of the Prussian cannon) we come round a sharp bend in the road, and there before us lies the quaint little log-built post-house (the “half-way house” in very truth), with its projecting roof and painted front and striped doorposts; just at which auspicious moment I stumble and twist my foot.

“You were right to reserve that performance to the last,” remarks P——, with a grin, helping me to the door; and we order a samovar (tea-urn) to be heated, while we ourselves indulge in a scrambling wash of the rudest kind, but very refreshing nevertheless.

Reader, did you ever walk five miles an hour for four hours together over a hilly country, with the thermometer at eighty-three degrees in the shade? If so, then will you appreciate our satisfaction as we throw aside our heavy boots, plunge our swollen feet into cold water, and, with coats off and collars thrown open, sit over our tea and black bread in that quaint little cross-beamed room, with an appetite never excited by the best plats of the Erz-Herzog Karl or the Trois Frčres Provençaux. Two things, at least, one may always be sure of finding in perfection at a Russian post-station: tea is the one; the other I need not particularize, as its presence does not usually become apparent till you retire to rest” (?).

Our meal being over and my foot still unfit for active service, we order a telyayga (cart) and start anew for Imatra[Pg 254] Foss. Our vehicle is simply a wooden tray on wheels, with a bag of hay in it, on which we do our best to recline, while our driver perches himself on the edge of the cart, thereby doubtless realizing vividly the sensation of rowing hard in a pair of thin unmentionables. Thanks to the perpetual gaps in the road formed by the great thaw two months ago (the Finnish winter ending about the beginning of May), during the greater part of the ride we play an animated though involuntary game of cup-and-ball, being thrown up and caught again incessantly. At length a dull roar, growing ever louder and louder, breaks the dreamy stillness of the forest, and before long we come to a little chalet-like inn embosomed in trees, where we alight, for this is the “Imatra Hotel.”

Let us cast one glance out of the back window before sitting down to supper (in a long, bare, chilly chamber like a third-class waiting room), for such a view is not seen every day. We are on the very brink of a deep narrow gorge, the upper part of which is so thickly clad with pines as to resemble the crest of some gigantic helmet, but beneath the naked granite stands out in all its grim barrenness, lashed by the spray of the mighty torrent that roars between its projecting rocks. Just below us, the river, forced back by a huge boulder in the centre of its course, literally piles itself up into a kind of liquid mound, foaming, flashing, and trembling incessantly, the ceaseless motion and tremendous din of the rapids having an indescribably bewildering effect....

But the lake itself is, if possible, even more picturesque than the river. It is one of those long, straggling bodies of water so common in the far North, resembling not so much one great lake as an endless series of small ones. Just at the sortie of the river a succession of rapids, scarcely less magnificent than those of the “Foss” itself,[Pg 255] rush between the wooded shores, their unresting whirl and fury contrasting gloriously with the vast expanse of glassy water above, crested with leafy islets and mirroring the green boughs that droop over it along the shore. Here did we spend many a night fishing and “spinning yarns,” in both of which accomplishments the ex-chasseur was pre-eminent; and strange enough it seemed, lying in the depths of that northern forest, to listen to descriptions of the treeless sands of Egypt and the burning wastes of the Sahara. Our midnight camp, on a little promontory just above the rapids, was a study for Rembrandt,—the slender pine-stems reddened by the blaze of our camp-fire; the group of bearded faces coming and going as the light waxed and waned; beyond the circle of light a gloom all the blacker for the contrast; the ghostly white of the foam shimmering through the leaves, and the clear moonlit sky overhanging all.

When a wet day came upon us the inexhaustible ex-chasseur (who, like Frederick the Great, could “do everything but keep still”) amused himself and us with various experiments in cookery, of which art he was a perfect master. His versatility in sauces might have aroused the envy of Soyer himself, and the party having brought with them a large stock of provisions, he was never at a loss for materials. Our ordinary dinner consisted of trout sauced with red wine, mutton, veal, duck, cheese, fresh strawberries, and coffee; after which every man took his tumbler of tea, with a slice of lemon in it, from the stove, and the evening began.

The sight of the country, however, is undoubtedly the natives themselves. Their tawny skins, rough yellow hair, and coarse flat faces would look uninviting enough to those who have never seen a Kalmuck or a Samoyede, but, despite their diet of dried fish and bread mixed with sawdust[Pg 256] both men and women are remarkably healthy and capable of surprising feats of strength and endurance. They make great use of bark for caps, shoes, plates, etc., in the making of which they are very skilful. As to their dress, it baffles description, and the horror of my friend the ex-chasseur at his first glimpse of it was as good as a play....

But there needs only a short journey here to show the folly of further annexations on the part of Russia while those already made are so lamentably undeveloped. Finland, which, rightly handled, might be one of the Czar’s richest possessions, is now, after nearly seventy years’ occupation, as unprofitable as ever. Throughout the whole province there are only three hundred and ninety-eight miles of railway. Post roads, scarce enough in the South, are absolutely wanting in the North. Steam navigation on the Gulf of Bothnia extends only to Uleaborg, and is, so far as I can learn, actually non-existent on the great lakes, except between Tanasthuus and Tammerfors. Such is the state of a land containing boundless water-power, countless acres of fine timber, countless ship-loads of splendid granite. But what can be expected of an untaught population under two millions left to themselves in an unreclaimed country nearly as large as France?

But better days are now dawning on the afflicted land. Roads and railways are being pushed forward into the interior, and the ill-judged attempts formerly made to Russianize the population have given place to a more conciliatory policy. A Russian from Helsingfors tells me that lectures are being delivered there, and extracts from native works read, in the aboriginal tongue; that it is being treated with special attention in the great schools of Southern Finland; that there has even been some talk of dramatic representations in Finnish at the Helsingfors theatre.


[Pg 257]

MOSCOW IN 1800.

EDWARD DANIEL CLARKE.

[Of the English travellers of the latter part of the last century, none acquired greater distinction than Dr. Clarke. Born in Sussex in 1769, in 1790 he made a tour of Great Britain, in 1792 visited France, Switzerland, and Italy, and in 1799 started on a three-years’ tour of Northern Europe, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, etc., publishing, in 1810, “Travels in Various Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa,” one of the most delightful and popular works of travel ever issued, and which has given him a durable celebrity. He died in 1822. We give below a portion of his animated description of Moscow, which he visited in 1800, years before the invasion of Napoleon and the burning of this celebrated Russian capital.]

There is nothing more extraordinary in this country than the transition of the seasons. The people of Moscow have no spring: winter vanishes, and summer is. This is not the work of a week, or a day, but of one instant, and the manner of it exceeds belief. We came from Petersburg to Moscow on sledges. The next day snow was gone. On the 8th of April, at mid-day, snow beat in at our carriage windows. On the same day, at sunset, arriving in Moscow, we had difficulty in being dragged through the mud to the commandant’s. The next morning the streets were dry, the double windows had been removed from the houses, the casements thrown open, all the carriages were upon wheels, and the balconies filled with spectators. Another day brought with it twenty-three degrees of heat of Celsius, when the thermometer was placed in the shade at noon.

We arrived at the season of the year in which this city is most interesting to strangers. Moscow is in everything[Pg 258] extraordinary, as well in disappointing expectation as in surpassing it; in causing wonder and derision, pleasure and regret. Let me conduct the reader back with me again to the gate by which we entered, and thence through the streets. Numerous spires, glittering with gold, amidst burnished domes and painted palaces, appear in the midst of an open plain for several versts before you reach this gate. Having passed, you look about, and wonder what has become of the city, or where you are, and are ready to ask, once more, “How far is it to Moscow?” They will tell you, “This is Moscow!” and you behold nothing but a wide and scattered suburb,—houses, gardens, pigsties, brick walls, churches, dung-hills, palaces, timber-yards, warehouses, and a refuse, as it were, of materials, sufficient to stock an empire with miserable towns and miserable villages.

One might imagine all the states of Europe and Asia had sent a building, by way of representative, to Moscow, and, under this impression, the eye is presented with deputies from all countries, holding congress: timber huts from regions beyond the Arctic; plastered palaces from Sweden and Denmark, not whitewashed since their arrival; painted walls from the Tyrol; mosques from Constantinople; Tartar temples from Bucharia; pagodas, pavilions, and verandas from China; cabarets from Spain; dungeons, prisons, and public offices from France; architectural ruins from Rome; terraces and trellises from Naples, and warehouses from Wapping.

MOSCOW MOSCOW

[Pg 259]

Having heard accounts of its immense population, you wander through deserted streets. Passing suddenly towards the quarter where the shops are situated, you might walk upon the heads of thousands. The daily throng is there so immense that, unable to force a passage through it, or assign any motive that might convene such a multitude, you ask the cause, and are told that it is always the same. Nor is the costume less various than the aspect of the buildings. Greeks, Turks, Tartars, Cossacks, Chinese, Muscovites, English, French, Italians, Poles, Germans, all parade in the habits of their respective countries.

We were in a Russian inn, a complete epitome of the city itself. The next room to ours was filled by ambassadors from Persia. In a chamber beyond the Persians lodged a party of Kirghisians, a people yet unknown, and any one of whom might be exhibited in a cage as some newly-discovered species. They had bald heads, covered by conical embroidered caps, and wore sheep’s hides. Beyond the Kirghisians lodged a nidus of Bucharians, wild as the asses of Numidia. All these were ambassadors from their respective districts, extremely jealous of each other, who had been to Petersburg to treat of commerce, peace, and war.

The doors of all our chambers opened into one gloomy passage, so that sometimes we all encountered, and formed a curious masquerade. The Kirghisians and Bucharians were best at arm’s length; but the worthy old Persian, whose name was Orazai, often exchanged visits with us. He brought us presents, according to the custom of his country, and was much pleased with an English pocketknife we had given him, with which he said he should shave his head. At his devotions he stood silent for an hour together, on two small carpets, barefooted, with his face towards Mecca, holding, as he said, intellectual converse with Mohammed....

Ambassadors of other more Oriental hordes drove into the court-yard of the inn from Petersburg. The Emperor had presented each of them with a barouche. Never was anything more ludicrous than their appearance. Out of respect to the sovereign they had maintained a painful[Pg 260] struggle to preserve their seat, sitting cross-legged, like Turks. The snow having melted, they had been jolted in this manner over the trunks of trees, which form a timber causeway between Petersburg and Moscow; so that, when taken from their fine new carriages, they could hardly crawl, and made the most pitiable grimaces imaginable. A few days after coming to Moscow they ordered all the carriages to be sold for whatever sum any person would offer.

[Immediately after Mr. Clarke’s arrival at Moscow the Easter ceremonies were celebrated with great pomp and display. Of these he gives an animated description, of which we select the concluding portion.]

The third and most magnificent ceremony of all is celebrated two hours after midnight, in the morning of Easter Sunday. It is called the ceremony of the Resurrection, and certainly exceeded everything of the kind celebrated at Rome, or anywhere else. I have not seen so splendid a sight in any Roman Catholic country, not even that of the benediction by the Pope during the Holy Week.

At midnight the great bell of the cathedral tolled. Its vibrations seemed the rolling of distant thunder, and they were instantly accompanied by the noise of all the bells in Moscow. Every inhabitant was stirring, and the rattling of carriages in the streets was greater than at noonday. The whole city was in a blaze, for lights were seen in all the windows, and innumerable torches in the streets. The tower of the cathedral was illuminated from its foundation to its cross. The same ceremony takes place in all the churches; and, what is truly surprising, considering their number, it is said they are all equally crowded.

We hastened to the cathedral, which was filled with a prodigious assembly of all ranks and sexes, bearing lighted[Pg 261] wax tapers, to be afterwards heaped as vows on the different shrines. The walls, ceilings, and every part of this building are covered by the pictures of saints and martyrs. In the moment of our arrival the doors were shut, and on the outside appeared Reato, the archbishop, preceded by banners and torches, and followed by all his train of priests, with crucifixes and censers, who were making three times, in procession, the tour of the cathedral, chanting with loud voices, and glittering in sumptuous vestments, covered by gold, silver, and precious stones. The snow had not melted so rapidly in the Kremlin as in the streets of the city, and this magnificent procession was therefore constrained to move upon planks over the deep mud which surrounded the cathedral.

After completing the third circuit they all halted opposite the great doors, which were shut; and the archbishop, with a censer, scattered incense against the doors and over the priests. Suddenly these doors were opened, and the effect was beyond description great. The immense throng of spectators within, bearing innumerable tapers, formed two lines, through which the archbishop entered, advancing with his train to a throne near the centre. The profusion of lights in all parts of the cathedral, and, among others, of the enormous chandelier which hung from the centre, the richness of the dresses, and the vastness of the assembly, filled us with astonishment. Having joined the suite of the archbishop, we accompanied the procession, and passed even to the throne, on which the police officers permitted us to stand, among the priests, near an embroidered stool of satin, placed for the archbishop. The loud chorus which burst forth at the entrance to the church continued as the procession moved towards the throne, and after the archbishop had taken his seat, when my attention was for a moment called off by seeing one of the Russians earnestly[Pg 262] crossing himself with his right hand, while his left was employed in picking my companion’s pocket of his handkerchief.

Soon after the archbishop descended, and went all round the cathedral, first offering incense to the priests, and then to the people, as he passed along. When he had returned to his seat the priests, two by two, performed the same ceremony, beginning with the archbishop, who rose and made obeisance with a lighted taper in his hand. From the moment the church doors were opened the spectators had continued bowing their heads and crossing themselves, insomuch that some of the people seemed really exhausted by the constant motion of the head and hands.

I had now leisure to examine the dresses and figures of the priests, which were certainly the most striking I ever saw. Their long dark hair, without powder, fell down in ringlets, or straight and thick, far over their rich robes and shoulders. Their dark thick beards, also, entirely covered their breasts. On the heads of the archbishop and bishops were high caps, covered with gems and adorned by miniature paintings, set in jewels, of the crucifixion, the Virgin, and the saints. Their robes of various-colored satin were of the most costly embroidery, and even on these were miniature pictures set with precious stones....

After two hours had been spent in various ceremonies, the archbishop advanced, holding forth a cross, which all the people crowded to embrace, squeezing each other nearly to suffocation. As soon, however, as their eagerness had been somewhat satisfied, he retired to the sacristy, where, putting on a plain purple robe, he again advanced, exclaiming three times in a very loud voice, “Christ is risen!”

The most remarkable part of the solemnity now followed. The archbishop, descending into the body of the church, concluded the whole ceremony by crawling round the pavement[Pg 263] on his hands and knees, kissing the consecrated pictures, whether on the pillars, the walls, the altars, or the tombs, the priests and all the people imitating his example. Sepulchres were opened and all the mummied bodies of incorruptible saints exhibited, all of which underwent the same general kissing.

Thus was Easter proclaimed, and riot and debauchery instantly broke loose. The inn in which we lodged became a pandemonium. Drinking, dancing, and singing continued through the night and day. But in the midst of all these excesses quarrels hardly ever took place. The wild, rude riot of a Russian populace is full of humanity. Few disputes are heard; no blows are given; no lives endangered, but by drinking. No meetings take place of any kind without repeating the expressions of peace and joy, Christos voscress! “Christ is risen!” to which the answer always is the same, Vo isteney voscress! “He is risen indeed!”

On Easter Monday begins the presentation of the paschal eggs: lovers to their mistresses, relatives to each other, servants to their masters, all bring ornamented eggs. Every offering at this season is called a paschal egg. The meanest pauper in the street, presenting an egg, and repeating the words, Christos voscress, may demand a salute, even of the Empress. All business is laid aside; the upper ranks are engaged in visiting, balls, dinners, suppers, and masquerades, while boors fill the air with their songs or roll drunk about the streets. Servants appear in new and tawdry liveries, and carriages in the most sumptuous parade....

After London and Constantinople, Moscow is, doubtless, the most remarkable city in Europe. A stranger, passing rapidly through, might pronounce it the dullest, dirtiest, and most uninteresting city in the world, while another,[Pg 264] having resided there, would affirm that it had rather the character of a great commercial and wealthy metropolis of a vast and powerful empire. If the grandeur and riches of the inhabitants are to be estimated by the number of equipages, and the number of horses attached to each, Moscow would excel in splendor all the cities of the globe. There is hardly an individual, above the rank of plebeian, who would be seen without four horses to his carriage, and the generality have six. But the manner in which this pomp is displayed is a perfect burlesque upon stateliness. A couple of ragged boys are placed as postilions, before a coachman in such sheep’s hides as are worn by the peasants in the woods, and behind the carriage are stationed a couple of lackeys, more tawdry but not less ludicrous than their drivers. To give all this greater effect, the traces of the horses are so long that it requires considerable management to preserve the horses from being entangled whenever they turn the corner of a street or make a halt. Notwithstanding this, no stranger, however he may deride its absurdity, will venture to visit the nobles, if he wishes for their notice, without four horses to his chariot, a ragged coachman and postilion, and a parade of equipage that must excite his laughter in proportion as it insures their countenance and approbation....

The numberless bells of Moscow continue to ring during the whole of Easter week, tinkling and tolling without any kind of harmony or order. The large bell near the cathedral is only used on important occasions, and yields the finest and most solemn tone I ever heard. When it sounds, a deep and hollow murmur vibrates all over Moscow, like the fullest and lowest tones of a vast organ, or the rolling of distant thunder. This bell is suspended in a tower called the Belfry of St. Ivan, beneath others which, though of less size, are enormous. It is forty feet nine[Pg 265] inches in circumference, sixteen inches and a half thick, and it weighs more than fifty-seven tons.

The Kremlin is, above all other places, most worthy a traveller’s notice. It was our evening walk, whenever we could escape the engagements of society. The view it affords of the city surpasses every other, both in singularity and splendor, especially from St. Ivan’s tower. This fortress is surrounded on all sides by walls, towers, and ramparts, and stuffed full of domes and steeples. The appearance differs in every point of view, on account of the strange irregularity in the edifices it contains....

The great bell of Moscow, known to be the largest ever founded, is in a deep pit in the midst of the Kremlin. The history of its fall is a fable, and, as writers are accustomed to copy each other, the story continues to be propagated. The fact is, the bell remains in the place where it was originally cast. It never was suspended. The Russians might as well attempt to suspend a first-rate line-of-battle ship with all its guns and stores. A fire took place in the Kremlin, the flames of which caught the building erected over the pit in which the bell yet remained, in consequence of which the metal became hot, and water thrown to extinguish the fire fell upon the bell, causing the fracture which has taken place.

The entrance is by a trap-door placed even with the surface of the earth. We found the steps very dangerous. Some of them were wanting, and others broken, which occasioned me a severe fall down the whole extent of the first flight and a narrow escape for my life in not being dashed upon the bell. In consequence of this accident a sentinel was stationed afterwards at the trap-door to prevent people from becoming victims to their curiosity. He might have been as well employed in mending the steps as in waiting all day to say that they were broken.

[Pg 266]

The bell is truly a mountain of metal. They relate that it contains a very large proportion of gold and silver, for that, while it was in fusion, the people cast in, as votive offerings, their plate and money. It is permitted to doubt the truth of traditionary tales, particularly in Russia, where people are much disposed to relate what they have heard without once reflecting on its probability. I endeavored in vain to assay a small part. The natives regard it with superstitious veneration, and they would not allow even a grain to be filed off; at the same time it may be said the compound has a white, shining appearance, unlike bell-metal in general, and perhaps its silvery appearance has strengthened, if not given rise to, a conjecture respecting the richness of its materials.

[The bell, two feet above its lower part,—which was buried in the earth,—measured in circumference sixty-seven feet four inches; its height was twenty-one feet four and a half inches; in its thickest part it measured twenty-three inches. The estimated weight is four hundred and forty-three thousand seven hundred and seventy-two pounds.]

The architecture exhibited in different parts of the Kremlin, in its palaces and churches, is like nothing seen in Europe. It is difficult to say from what country it has been principally derived. The architects were generally Italians; but the style is Tartarian, Indian, Chinese, and Gothic. Here a pagoda, there an arcade! In some parts richness and even elegance; in others, barbarity and decay. Taken altogether, it is a jumble of magnificence and ruin. Old buildings repaired and modern structures not completed. Half-open vaults and mouldering walls and empty caves, amidst whitewashed brick buildings and towers and churches, with glittering, gilded, or painted domes. In the midst of it some devotees are seen entering a little, mean structure, more like a stable than a church. This, they[Pg 267] tell you, is the first place of Christian worship erected in Moscow....

The view of Moscow from the terrace in the Kremlin, near the spot where the artillery is preserved, would afford a fine subject for a panorama. The number of magnificent buildings, the domes, the towers, the spires, which fill all the prospect, make it, perhaps, the most novel and interesting sight in Europe. All the wretched hovels and miserable wooden buildings, which appear in passing through the streets, are lost in the vast assemblage of magnificent edifices, among which the Foundling Hospital is particularly conspicuous. Below the walls of the Kremlin the Moscva, already become a river of importance, is seen flowing towards the Volga. The new promenade forming on its banks, immediately below the fortress, is a superb work, and promises to rival the famous quay at Petersburg.


A RUSSIAN SLEIGH JOURNEY.

FREDERICK BURNABY.

[Those who would like to obtain a lively picture of life in Russia and on the Asiatic steppes should read Captain Burnaby’s “A Ride to Khiva” (1875), which is one of the most sprightly works of travel extant. We have elsewhere made a selection illustrative of the traveller’s adventures in Asia, and present here some of his experiences in Russia. We take him up at the railroad terminus at Sizeran, whence he proposes to make his way by sleigh to Orenburg, via Samara.]

“You had better put on plenty of clothes,” was the friendly caution I received from my companion as I entered the dressing-room, “for the thermometer marks twenty degrees below zero, Reaumur, and there is a wind.”

People in this country who have never experienced a[Pg 268] Russian winter have little idea of the difference even a slight breeze makes when the mercury stands low in the thermometer, for the wind then cuts through you, furs and all, and penetrates to the very bones. Determined to be on my guard against the frost, I dressed myself, as I thought, as warmly as possible, and so as to be utterly impervious to the elements.

First came three pairs of the thickest stockings, drawn high up above the knee, and over them a pair of fur-lined low shoes, which in their turn were inserted into leather galoches, my limbs being finally deposited in a pair of enormous cloth boots, the latter reaching up to the thigh. Previously I had put on some extra thick drawers and a pair of trousers, the astonishment of the foreman of Messrs. Kino’s establishment, “Lord love you, sir,” being his remark when I tried them on, “no cold could get through them trousers, anyhow.”

I must confess that I rather chuckled as my legs assumed herculean proportions, and I thought that I should have a good laugh at the wind, no matter how cutting it might be; but Ćolus had the laugh on his side before the journey was over. A heavy flannel undershirt, and shirt covered by a thick wadded waistcoat and coat, encased my body, which was further enveloped in a huge shuba, or fur pelisse, reaching to the heels, while my head was protected by a fur cap and vashlik, a sort of cloth head-piece of a conical shape, made to cover the cap, and having two long ends which tie round the throat.

Being thus accoutred in all my armor, I sallied forth to join my companion, who, an enormous man naturally, now seemed a very Colossus of Rhodes in his own winter attire. “I think you will do,” said my friend, scanning me well over; “but you will find your feet get very cold, for all that. It takes a day or so to get used to this sleigh[Pg 269] travelling; and, though I am only going a little beyond Samara, I shall be uncommonly glad when my journey is over.”

He was buckling on his revolver; and as we were informed that there were a great many wolves in the neighborhood, I tried to do the same; but this was an impossibility; the man who made the belt had never foreseen the gigantic proportions my waist would assume when clad in this Russian garb. I was obliged to give it up in despair, and contented myself by strapping the weapon outside my saddle-bags....

Three horses abreast, their coats white with pendent icicles and hoar-frost, were harnessed to the sleigh; the centre animal was in the shafts, and had his head fastened to a huge wooden head-collar, bright with various colors. From the summit of the head-collar was suspended a belt, while the two outside horses were harnessed by cord-traces to splinter-bars attached to the sides of the sleigh. The object of all this is to make the animal in the middle trot at a brisk pace, while his two companions gallop, their necks arched round in a direction opposite to the horse in the centre, this poor beast’s head being tightly reined up to the head-collar.

A well-turned-out troika, with three really good horses, which get over the ground at the rate of twelve miles an hour, is a pretty sight to witness, particularly if the team has been properly trained, and the outside animals never attempt to break into a trot, while the one in the shafts steps forward with high action; but the constrained position in which the horses are kept must be highly uncomfortable to them, and one not calculated to enable a driver to get as much pace out of his animals as they could give him if harnessed in another manner.

Off we went at a brisk pace, the bell dangling from our[Pg 270] horse’s head-collar and jingling merrily at every stride of the team.

The sun rose high in the heavens; it was a bright and glorious morning, in spite of the intense cold, and the amount of oxygen we inhaled was enough to elevate the spirits of the most dyspeptic of mankind. Presently, after descending a slight declivity, our Jehu turned sharply to the right; then came a scramble and succession of jolts and jerks as we slid down a steep bank, and we found ourselves on what appeared to be a broad high-road. Here the sight of many masts and shipping, which, bound in by the icy fetters of a relentless winter, would remain embedded in the ice till the ensuing spring, showed me that we were on the Volga.

It was an animated spectacle, this frozen highway, thronged with peasants who strode beside their sledges which were bringing cotton and other goods from Orenburg to the railway. Now a smart troika would dash by us, its driver shouting as he passed, when our Jehu, stimulating his steeds by loud cries and frequent applications of the whip, would vainly strive to overtake his brother coachman. Old and young alike seemed octogenarians, their short, thick beards and moustaches being white as hoar-frost from the congealed breath.... An iron bridge was being constructed a little farther down the Volga. Here the railroad was to pass, and it was said that in two years’ time there would be railway communication, not only between Samara and the capital, but even as far as Orenburg. Presently the scenery became very picturesque as we raced over the glistening surface, which flashed like a burnished cuirass beneath the rays of the rising sun. Now we approach a spot where seemingly the waters from some violent blast or other had been in a state of foam and commotion, when a stern frost transformed them into a solid mass.[Pg 271] Pillars and blocks of the shining and hardened element were seen modelled into a thousand quaint and grotesque patterns. Here a fountain, perfectly formed with Ionic and Doric columns, was reflecting a thousand prismatic hues from the diamond-like stalactites which had attached themselves to its crest. There a huge obelisk, which, if of stone, might have come from ancient Thebes, lay half buried beneath a pile of fleecy snow. Farther on we came to what might have been a Roman temple or vast hall in the palace of a Cćsar, where many half-hidden pillars and monuments erected their tapering summits above the piles of the débris. The wind had done in that northern latitude what has been performed by some violent preadamite agency in the Berber desert. Take away the ebon blackness of the stony masses which have been there cast forth from the bowels of the earth, and replace them on a smaller scale by the crystal forms I have faintly attempted to describe, and the resemblance would be striking....

The road now changed its course, and our driver directed his steeds towards the bank. Suddenly we discovered that immediately in front of us the ice had broken beneath a horse and sleigh, and that the animal was struggling in the water. The river here was fortunately only about four feet deep, so there would not be much difficulty in extracting the quadruped; but what to ourselves seemed far more important was to solve the knotty problem of how to get to land, for between our sleigh and the shore was a wide gulf, and there seemed to be no possibility of driving through it without a wetting. “Pleasant,” muttered my companion, “pleasant, very! Let us get out and have a good look round, to see if we cannot find a place where we can get across in safety.”

“I will pull you through,” observed our Jehu, with a[Pg 272] broad grin on his lobster-colored countenance, and apparently much amused with the state of affairs.

“No, oh, son of an animal,” retorted my companion; “stay here till we return.”

After considerable search we found a spot where the water-channel was certainly not much more than twelve feet across, and some peasants who were fishing in the river came up and volunteered their assistance. One of them produced a pole about eight feet long, with which, he said, we could jump the chasm. My companion looked at me with a melancholy smile, in which resolution and caution struggled for the mastery. “It is very awful,” he said, “very awful, but there is no other alternative, and I much fear that we must.”

With these words he seized the pole, and carefully inserted one end of it in the muddy bottom. “If the ice gives way when I land on the other side!” he suddenly observed, releasing his hold of the leaping bar. “Why, if it does, you will get a ducking,” was my remark: “but be quick; the longer you look at it the less you will like it; and it is very cold standing here: now, then, jump over.”

[The corpulent Russian, however, could not bring himself to face the chasm, and preferred the risk of a wetting in being dragged through in the sleigh. Burnaby’s turn came, and he chose the pole, piqued thereto by the chaffing remarks of the grinning peasants.]

“How fat they are!” said one. “No, it’s their furs,” observed another. “How awkward he is!” continued a third; “why, I could jump it myself.”—“I tell you what it is, my friend,” I at length observed, “if you continue this conversation, I think it very likely you will jump either over or in, for I want to find out the exact distance, and am thinking of throwing you over first, in order to satisfy my mind as to how wide it is, and how deep.”

[Pg 273]

This remark, uttered in rather a sharp tone, had the desired effect, and, seizing the pole convulsively, I prepared for the leap, which, nothing to a man not clad in furs, was by no means a contemptible one in my sleigh attire. One, two, three! a bound, a sensation of flying through the air, a slip, a scramble, and I found myself on the other side, having got over with no more damage than one wet leg, the boot itself being instantly covered with a shining case of ice.

“Come along quick!” cried my friend, who by this time had been dragged through; “let us get on as quickly as possible.” And without giving me time to see if my cartridges or other baggage on the bottom of the sleigh had suffered from the ducking, we rattled off once more in the direction of Samara.

[Soon after they reached a stopping-place, changed horses, and were off again, now in a howling wind and falling snow.]

Very soon that so-called “pins-and-needles” sensation, recalling some snow-balling episodes of my boyish days, began once more to make itself felt, and I found myself commencing a sort of double-shuffle against the boards of the vehicle. The snow was falling in thick flakes, and with great difficulty our driver could keep the track, his jaded horses sinking sometimes up to the traces in the rapidly forming drifts, and floundering heavily along the now thoroughly hidden road. The cracks of his whip sounded like pistol-shots against their jaded flanks, and volleys of invectives issued from his lips.

“Oh, sons of animals!” (Whack.)

“Oh, spoiled one!” (Whack.) This to a brute which looked as if he had never eaten a good feed of corn in his life. “Oh, woolly ones!” (Whack! whack! whack!)

“Oh, Lord God!” This, as we were all upset into a snowdrift,[Pg 274] the sleigh being three parts overturned, and our Jehu precipitated in the opposite direction.

“How far are we from the next halting-place?” suddenly inquired my companion, with an ejaculation which showed that even his good temper had given way under the cold and our situation.

“Only four versts, one of noble birth,” replied the struggling Jehu, who was busily engaged endeavoring to right the half-overturned sleigh. A Russian verst about nightfall, and under such conditions as I have endeavored to point out to the reader, is an unknown quantity. A Scotch mile and a bit, an Irish league, a Spanish legua, or the German stunde, are at all times calculated to call forth the wrath of the traveller, but in no way equal to the first-named division of distance. For the verst is barely two-thirds of an English mile, and when, after driving yet for an hour, we were told there were still two versts more before we could arrive at our halting-place, it began fully to dawn upon my friend that either our driver’s knowledge of distance, or otherwise his veracity, was at fault.

At last we reached a long, straggling village, where our horses stopped before a detached cottage. The proprietor came out to meet us at the threshold. “Samovar, samovar!” (urn) said my companion. “Quick, quick! samovar!” and hurrying by him and hastily throwing off our furs, we endeavored to regain our lost circulation beside the walls of a well-heated stove.

In a few minutes, and when the blood had begun once more to flow in its proper channels, I began to look round and observe the other occupants of the room. These were for the most part Jews, as could easily be seen by that peculiarity of the nose which unfailingly denotes any member of the tribe of Israel. Some half-open boxes of wares in the corner also showed their trade. The men were[Pg 275] hawkers of fancy jewelry and other finery calculated to please the wives of the farmers or better-to-do peasants in the neighborhood.

The smell was anything but agreeable, and the stench of sheep-skins, unwashed humanity, and some oily cooking going on in a very dirty frying-pan at last caused my companion to inquire if there was no other room vacant. We were shown into a small adjoining apartment, where the smell, though very pungent, was not quite so disagreeable as in the one inhabited by the family.

“This is a little better,” muttered my companion, unpacking his portmanteau and taking out a teapot, with two small metal cases containing tea and sugar. “Quick, Tëtka, Aunt!” he cried (this to the old woman of the house), “quick with the samovar!” when an aged female, who might have been any age from eighty to a hundred, for she was almost bent double by decrepitude, carried in a large copper urn, the steam hissing merrily under the influence of the red-hot charcoal embers.

By this time I had unstrapped the mess tins, and was extracting their contents. “Let me be the carver,” said my friend, at the same time trying to cut one of the cutlets with a knife; but he might as well have tried to pierce an ironclad with a pea-shooter, for the meat was turned into a solid lump of ice. It was as hard as a brick-bat, and when we tried the bread it was equally impenetrable; in fact, it was only after our provisions had been placed within the stove for about ten minutes that they became in any way eatable.

In the mean time my companion had concocted a most delicious brew, and with a large glass of pale or rather amber-colored tea, with a thin slice of lemon floating on the top, I was beginning to realize how pleasant it is to have been made thoroughly uncomfortable, for it is only after[Pg 276] having arrived at this point of misery that you can thoroughly appreciate what real enjoyment is. “What is pleasure?” asked a pupil of his master. “Absence of pain,” was the philosopher’s answer; and let any one who doubts that a feeling of intense enjoyment can be obtained from drinking a mere glass of tea, try a sleighing journey through Russia with the thermometer at 20° Reaumur and a wind. [20° Reaumur below zero equals -13° Fahrenheit.]

In almost an hour’s time we were ready to start, but not so our driver, and to the expostulations of my companion he replied, “No, little father, there is a snow-storm; we might be lost, and I might be frozen. Oh, Lord God! there are wolves; they might eat me; the ice in the river might give way and we might all be drowned. For the sake of God, let us stop here!”

“You shall have a good tea-present” [tip], I observed, “if you will drive us.”

“Oh, one of noble birth,” was his answer, “we will stop here to-night, and Batooshka, little father, also,” pointing to my companion; “but to-morrow we will have beautiful horses, and go like birds to the next station.”

It was useless attempting to persuade him. Resigning ourselves to our fate, my companion and self lay down on the planks to obtain what sleep could be found, notwithstanding the noise that was going on in the next room, the Jew peddlers being occupied in trying to sell some of their wares and drive a bargain with the antique mistress of the house.

[We cannot undertake to relate the adventures of our traveller in full, and it will suffice to say that, what with being overturned, lost, and frozen, his whole journey was the reverse of agreeable. He relates an amusing instance of his dealing with the Russians.]

Fortunately, there was a vacant room in the inn, and here I was at once supplied with the smallest of basins and[Pg 277] a table napkin. In the mean time I despatched Nazar [his Tartar servant] to the post to desire the inspector to send me three horses immediately. There was no time to lose, and I wanted to hurry forward that afternoon.

Presently my man returned with a joyous countenance, which betokened something disagreeable. In fact, in all countries where I have hitherto travelled human nature, as typified in domestics, is much the same; they invariably look pleased when they have a piece of bad news to impart to their masters.

“What is it?” I asked. “Sleigh broken?”

“No, sir. No horses to be had; that is all. General Kauffmann went through early this morning and took them all. The inspector says you must wait till to-morrow, and that then he will have a team ready for you. It is nice and warm,” continued Nazar, looking at the stove. “We will sleep here, little father; eat till we fill our clothes, and continue our journey to-morrow.”

“Nazar,” I replied, giving my countenance the sternest expression it could assume, “I command; you obey. We leave in an hour’s time. Go and hire some horses as far as the next stage. If you find it impossible to obtain any at the station, try and get some from a private dealer; but horses I must have.”

In a few minutes my servant returned with a still more joyous countenance than before. The inspector would not send any horses, and no one could be found in the town who was inclined to let his animals out on hire.

There was nothing to be done but to search myself. Nazar had evidently made up his mind to sleep at Orsk. However, I had made up mine to continue the journey.

Leaving the inn, I hailed a passing sleigh, the driver appearing to me to have a more intelligent expression than[Pg 278] his fellows. Getting into the vehicle, I inquired if he knew of any one who had horses to hire.

“Yes,” was the answer. One of his relatives had some; but the house to which I was driven was shut up, and no one was at home. I began to despair, and think that I should have as much difficulty in obtaining horses at Orsk as I had in procuring a servant at Orenburg.

I now determined to try what gold, or rather silver, would do, and said to the driver, “If you will take me to any one who has horses for hire, I will give you a ruble for yourself.”

“A whole ruble!” cried the man, with a broad grin of delight; and, jumping off his seat, he ran to a little knot of Tartars, one of whom was bargaining with the others for a basket of frozen fish, and began to ply them with questions. In a minute he returned, “Let us go,” he said; and with a “Burr” (the sound which is used by the Russians to urge on their horses) and a loud crack with his lash, he drove rapidly in another direction.

I had arrived at the outskirts of the town, and we stopped before a dirty-looking wooden cottage.

A tall man, dressed in a long coat reaching to his heels, bright yellow trousers, which were stuffed into a pair of red leather boots, while an enormous black sheep-skin cap covered his head, came out and asked my business. I said that I wanted three horses to go to the next stage, and asked him what he would drive me there for, the regular postal tariff being about two rubles.

“One of noble birth,” replied the fellow, “the roads are bad, but my horses will gallop the whole way. They are excellent horses; all the people in the town look at them and envy me. They say, how fat they are! look, how round! The governor has not got any horses like mine in his stable. I spoil them; I cherish them; and they gallop[Pg 279] like the wind. The people look, wonder, and admire. Come and see the dear little animals.”

“I have no doubt about it. They are excellent horses,” I replied; “but what will you take me for?”

“Let us say four rubles, your excellency, and give me one on account. One little whole silver ruble; for the sake of God, let me put it in my pocket, and we will bless you.”

“All right,” was my answer. “Send the horses to the Tzarskoe Selo Inn immediately.”

Presently the fellow rushed into my room, and, bowing to the ground, took off his cap with a grandiose air; then, drawing out the money I had given him from some hidden recess in the neighborhood of his skin, he thrust the ruble into my hand, and exclaimed, “Little father, my uncle owns one of the horses; he is very angry. He says that he was not consulted in the matter, and that he loves the animal like a brother. My uncle will not let his horse leave the stable for less than five rubles. What is to be done? I told him that I had agreed to take you, and even showed him the money, but he is hard-hearted and stern.”

“Very well,” I said; “bring round the horses.”

In a few minutes the fellow returned, and exclaimed, “One of noble birth. I am ashamed.”

“Quite right,” I said; “you have every reason to be so. But go on; is your uncle’s horse dead?”

“No, one of noble birth, not so bad as that; but my brother is vexed. He has a share in one of the animals; he will not let me drive him to the next station for less than six rubles;” and the man, putting on an expression in which cunning, avarice, and pretended sorrow were blended, rubbed his forehead and added, “What shall we do?”

I said, “You have a grandmother?”

[Pg 280]

“Yes,” he replied, much surprised. “How did you know that? I have; a very old grandmother.”

“Well,” I continued, “go and tell her that, fearing lest she should be annoyed if any accident were to happen during our journey,—for you know misfortunes occur sometimes; God sends them,” I added, piously.

“Yes, he does,” interrupted the man; “we are simple people, your excellency.”

“And, not wishing to hurt the old lady’s feelings, should the fore leg of your uncle’s horse, or the hind leg of your brother’s, suffer on the road, I have changed my mind, and shall not go with you to-day, but take post-horses to-morrow.”

The man now became alarmed, thinking that he was about to lose his fare. He rubbed his forehead violently, and then exclaimed, “I will take your excellency for five rubles.”

“But your brother?”

“Never mind; he is an animal; let us go.”

“No,” I answered. “I shall wait; the post-horses are beautiful horses. I am told that they gallop like the wind; all the people in the town look at them, and the inspector loves them.”

“Let us say four rubles, your excellency.”

“But your uncle might beat you. I should not like you to be hurt.”

“No,” was the answer; “we will go;” and the knotty point being thus settled, we drove off, much to the dissatisfaction of my little servant, Nazar, a blue-eyed siren in Orsk having, as the Orientals say, made roast meat of his heart, in spite of his being a married man.

[Pg 281]

INDEX.


PAGE
Alpine Mountain Climbing Edward Whymper 121
Amsterdam, Paris Oliver H. G. Leigh 5
Antwerp and Its People Rose G. Kingsley 140
Athens and Its Temples J. L. T. Phillips 79
Austria, The Capital of John Russell 201
 
Berlin, The Streets of Matthew Woods 165
Browne, J. Ross The Salt-Mines of Wieliczka 183
Burnaby, Frederick A Russian Sleigh Journey 267
 
Clarke, Edward D. The Seraglio on the Golden Horn 100
    "           "       " Moscow In 1800 257
Coleridge, Langley The Midnight Sun 229
Cox, Samuel S. In the Russian Capital 236
Crosse, Mrs. Andrew From Hamburg to Stockholm 221
 
Day in Rome, A Bayard Taylor 37
De Amicis, Edmondo A Typical Dutch City 131
Dresden, Art Museums of Elizabeth Peake 147
Dutch City, A Typical Edmondo de Amicis 131
 
Echternach, The Jumping Procession at M. Ogle 193
Eszterhazy Palaces, The John Paget 210
Etna in Eruption, Mount Bayard Taylor 61
 
Field, Henry M. The Isles of Greece 89
Finland, A Visit to David Ker 246
Florence and Its Art Treasures Lippincott, Sarah J. 16
 
Golden Horn, The Seraglio on the Edward D. Clarke 100
Greece, The Isles of Henry M. Field 89
 
Hamburg to Stockholm, From Mrs. Andrew Crosse 221
Heidelberg, The Students of Bayard Taylor 158
Hope, Stanley Zermatt and Its Scenery 112
 
Isles of Greece, The Henry M. Field 89
Italy, The Lake Region of Robert A. McLeod 26
 
Jumping Procession at Echternach, The M. Ogle 193
 
Ker, David A Visit to Finland 246
Kingsley, Rose G. Antwerp and Its People 140
 
Lake Region of Italy Robert A. McLeod 26
Lee, Alfred E. Pompeii and Its Destroyer 48
Leigh, Oliver H. G. Paris, Amsterdam 5
Lippincott, Sarah J. Florence and Its Art Treasures 16
 
McLeod, Robert A. The Lake Region of Italy 26
Midnight Sun, The Langley Coleridge 229
Moscow in 1800 Edward D. Clarke 257
 
Ogle, M. The Jumping Procession at Echternach 193
 
Paget, John The Eszterhazy Palaces 210
Paris, Amsterdam Oliver H. G. Leigh 5
Peake, Elizabeth Art Museums of Dresden 147
Phillips, J. L. T. Athens and Its Temples 79
Plebeian Life in Venice Horace St. John 70
Pompeii and Its Destroyer Alfred E. Lee 48
Powers, Stephen A Ramble in Prussia 176
Prussia, A Ramble in Stephen Powers 176
 
Rome, A Day in Bayard Taylor 37
Rotterdam Edmondo de Amicis 131
Russell, John The Capital of Austria 201
Russian Capital, In the Samuel S. Cox 236
Russian Sleigh Journey, A Frederick Burnaby 267
 
St. John, Horace Plebeian Life in Venice 70
Salt-Mines of Wieliczka J. Ross Browne 183
Seraglio on the Golden Horn Edward D. Clarke 100
Sleigh Journey, A Russian Frederick Burnaby 267
Stockholm, From Hamburg to Mrs. Andrew Crosse 221
 
Taylor, Bayard A Day in Rome 37
    "         " Mount Etna in Eruption 61
    "         " The Students of Heidelberg 158
 
Venice, Plebeian Life in Horace St. John 70
Vienna, The Capital of Austria John Russell 201
 
Whymper, Edward Alpine Mountain Climbing 121
Woods, Matthew The Streets of Berlin 165
 
Zermatt and Its Scenery Stanley Hope 112

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A few (2) obvious misspellings were corrected. If you wish to check these, you can search the HTML source code for 'Transcriber's Note'.






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