HotFreeBooks.com
Following the Equator - A Journey around the World
by Mark Twain
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Suppose we applied no more ingenuity to the instruction of deaf and dumb and blind children than we sometimes apply in our American public schools to the instruction of children who are in possession of all their faculties? The result would be that the deaf and dumb and blind would acquire nothing. They would live and die as ignorant as bricks and stones. The methods used in the asylums are rational. The teacher exactly measures the child's capacity, to begin with; and from thence onwards the tasks imposed are nicely gauged to the gradual development of that capacity, the tasks keep pace with the steps of the child's progress, they don't jump miles and leagues ahead of it by irrational caprice and land in vacancy—according to the average public-school plan. In the public school, apparently, they teach the child to spell cat, then ask it to calculate an eclipse; when it can read words of two syllables, they require it to explain the circulation of the blood; when it reaches the head of the infant class they bully it with conundrums that cover the domain of universal knowledge. This sounds extravagant—and is; yet it goes no great way beyond the facts.

I received a curious letter one day, from the Punjab (you must pronounce it Punjawb). The handwriting was excellent, and the wording was English —English, and yet not exactly English. The style was easy and smooth and flowing, yet there was something subtly foreign about it—A something tropically ornate and sentimental and rhetorical. It turned out to be the work of a Hindoo youth, the holder of a humble clerical billet in a railway office. He had been educated in one of the numerous colleges of India. Upon inquiry I was told that the country was full of young fellows of his like. They had been educated away up to the snow-summits of learning—and the market for all this elaborate cultivation was minutely out of proportion to the vastness of the product. This market consisted of some thousands of small clerical posts under the government —the supply of material for it was multitudinous. If this youth with the flowing style and the blossoming English was occupying a small railway clerkship, it meant that there were hundreds and hundreds as capable as he, or he would be in a high place; and it certainly meant that there were thousands whose education and capacity had fallen a little short, and that they would have to go without places. Apparently, then, the colleges of India were doing what our high schools have long been doing —richly over-supplying the market for highly-educated service; and thereby doing a damage to the scholar, and through him to the country.

At home I once made a speech deploring the injuries inflicted by the high school in making handicrafts distasteful to boys who would have been willing to make a living at trades and agriculture if they had but had the good luck to stop with the common school. But I made no converts. Not one, in a community overrun with educated idlers who were above following their fathers' mechanical trades, yet could find no market for their book-knowledge. The same rail that brought me the letter from the Punjab, brought also a little book published by Messrs. Thacker, Spink & Co., of Calcutta, which interested me, for both its preface and its contents treated of this matter of over-education. In the preface occurs this paragraph from the Calcutta Review. For "Government office" read "drygoods clerkship" and it will fit more than one region of America:

"The education that we give makes the boys a little less clownish in their manners, and more intelligent when spoken to by strangers. On the other hand, it has made them less contented with their lot in life, and less willing to work with their hands. The form which discontent takes in this country is not of a healthy kind; for, the Natives of India consider that the only occupation worthy of an educated man is that of a writership in some office, and especially in a Government office. The village schoolboy goes back to the plow with the greatest reluctance; and the town schoolboy carries the same discontent and inefficiency into his father's workshop. Sometimes these ex-students positively refuse at first to work; and more than once parents have openly expressed their regret that they ever allowed their sons to be inveigled to school."

The little book which I am quoting from is called "Indo-Anglian Literature," and is well stocked with "baboo" English—clerkly English, hooky English, acquired in the schools. Some of it is very funny, —almost as funny, perhaps, as what you and I produce when we try to write in a language not our own; but much of it is surprisingly correct and free. If I were going to quote good English—but I am not. India is well stocked with natives who speak it and write it as well as the best of us. I merely wish to show some of the quaint imperfect attempts at the use of our tongue. There are many letters in the book; poverty imploring help—bread, money, kindness, office generally an office, a clerkship, some way to get food and a rag out of the applicant's unmarketable education; and food not for himself alone, but sometimes for a dozen helpless relations in addition to his own family; for those people are astonishingly unselfish, and admirably faithful to their ties of kinship. Among us I think there is nothing approaching it. Strange as some of these wailing and supplicating letters are, humble and even groveling as some of them are, and quaintly funny and confused as a goodly number of them are, there is still a pathos about them, as a rule, that checks the rising laugh and reproaches it. In the following letter "father" is not to be read literally. In Ceylon a little native beggar-girl embarrassed me by calling me father, although I knew she was mistaken. I was so new that I did not know that she was merely following the custom of the dependent and the supplicant.

"SIR,

"I pray please to give me some action (work) for I am very poor boy I have no one to help me even so father for it so it seemed in thy good sight, you give the Telegraph Office, and another work what is your wish I am very poor boy, this understand what is your wish you my father I am your son this understand what is your wish.

"Your Sirvent, P. C. B."

Through ages of debasing oppression suffered by these people at the hands of their native rulers, they come legitimately by the attitude and language of fawning and flattery, and one must remember this in mitigation when passing judgment upon the native character. It is common in these letters to find the petitioner furtively trying to get at the white man's soft religious side; even this poor boy baits his hook with a macerated Bible-text in the hope that it may catch something if all else fail.

Here is an application for the post of instructor in English to some children:

"My Dear Sir or Gentleman, that your Petitioner has much qualification in the Language of English to instruct the young boys; I was given to understand that your of suitable children has to acquire the knowledge of English language."

As a sample of the flowery Eastern style, I will take a sentence or two from along letter written by a young native to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal—an application for employment:

"HONORED AND MUCH RESPECTED SIR,

"I hope your honor will condescend to hear the tale of this poor creature. I shall overflow with gratitude at this mark of your royal condescension. The bird-like happiness has flown away from my nest-like heart and has not hitherto returned from the period whence the rose of my father's life suffered the autumnal breath of death, in plain English he passed through the gates of Grave, and from that hour the phantom of delight has never danced before me."

It is all school-English, book-English, you see; and good enough, too, all things considered. If the native boy had but that one study he would shine, he would dazzle, no doubt. But that is not the case. He is situated as are our public-school children—loaded down with an over-freightage of other studies; and frequently they are as far beyond the actual point of progress reached by him and suited to the stage of development attained, as could be imagined by the insanest fancy. Apparently—like our public-school boy—he must work, work, work, in school and out, and play but little. Apparently—like our public-school boy—his "education" consists in learning things, not the meaning of them; he is fed upon the husks, not the corn. From several essays written by native schoolboys in answer to the question of how they spend their day, I select one—the one which goes most into detail:

"66. At the break of day I rises from my own bed and finish my daily duty, then I employ myself till 8 o'clock, after which I employ myself to bathe, then take for my body some sweet meat, and just at 9 1/2 I came to school to attend my class duty, then at 2 1/2 P. M. I return from school and engage myself to do my natural duty, then, I engage for a quarter to take my tithn, then I study till 5 P. M., after which I began to play anything which comes in my head. After 8 1/2, half pass to eight we are began to sleep, before sleeping I told a constable just 11 o' he came and rose us from half pass eleven we began to read still morning."

It is not perfectly clear, now that I come to cipher upon it. He gets up at about 5 in the morning, or along there somewhere, and goes to bed about fifteen or sixteen hours afterward—that much of it seems straight; but why he should rise again three hours later and resume his studies till morning is puzzling.

I think it is because he is studying history. History requires a world of time and bitter hard work when your "education" is no further advanced than the cat's; when you are merely stuffing yourself with a mixed-up mess of empty names and random incidents and elusive dates, which no one teaches you how to interpret, and which, uninterpreted, pay you not a farthing's value for your waste of time. Yes, I think he had to get up at halfpast 11 P.M. in order to be sure to be perfect with his history lesson by noon. With results as follows—from a Calcutta school examination:

"Q. Who was Cardinal Wolsey? "Cardinal Wolsey was an Editor of a paper named North Briton. No. 45 of his publication he charged the King of uttering a lie from the throne. He was arrested and cast into prison; and after releasing went to France.

"3. As Bishop of York but died in disentry in a church on his way to be blockheaded.

"8. Cardinal Wolsey was the son of Edward IV, after his father's death he himself ascended the throne at the age of (10) ten only, but when he surpassed or when he was fallen in his twenty years of age at that time he wished to make a journey in his countries under him, but he was opposed by his mother to do journey, and according to his mother's example he remained in the home, and then became King. After many times obstacles and many confusion he become King and afterwards his brother."

There is probably not a word of truth in that.

"Q. What is the meaning of 'Ich Dien'?

"10. An honor conferred on the first or eldest sons of English Sovereigns. It is nothing more than some feathers.

"11. Ich Dien was the word which was written on the feathers of the blind King who came to fight, being interlaced with the bridles of the horse.

"13. Ich Dien is a title given to Henry VII by the Pope of Rome, when he forwarded the Reformation of Cardinal Wolsy to Rome, and for this reason he was called Commander of the faith."

A dozen or so of this kind of insane answers are quoted in the book from that examination. Each answer is sweeping proof, all by itself, that the person uttering it was pushed ahead of where he belonged when he was put into history; proof that he had been put to the task of acquiring history before he had had a single lesson in the art of acquiring it, which is the equivalent of dumping a pupil into geometry before he has learned the progressive steps which lead up to it and make its acquirement possible. Those Calcutta novices had no business with history. There was no excuse for examining them in it, no excuse for exposing them and their teachers. They were totally empty; there was nothing to "examine."

Helen Keller has been dumb, stone deaf, and stone blind, ever since she was a little baby a year-and-a-half old; and now at sixteen years of age this miraculous creature, this wonder of all the ages, passes the Harvard University examination in Latin, German, French history, belles lettres, and such things, and does it brilliantly, too, not in a commonplace fashion. She doesn't know merely things, she is splendidly familiar with the meanings of them. When she writes an essay on a Shakespearean character, her English is fine and strong, her grasp of the subject is the grasp of one who knows, and her page is electric with light. Has Miss Sullivan taught her by the methods of India and the American public school? No, oh, no; for then she would be deafer and dumber and blinder than she was before. It is a pity that we can't educate all the children in the asylums.

To continue the Calcutta exposure:

"What is the meaning of a Sheriff?"

"25. Sheriff is a post opened in the time of John. The duty of Sheriff here in Calcutta, to look out and catch those carriages which is rashly driven out by the coachman; but it is a high post in England.

"26. Sheriff was the English bill of common prayer.

"27. The man with whom the accusative persons are placed is called Sheriff.

"28. Sheriff—Latin term for 'shrub,' we called broom, worn by the first earl of Enjue, as an emblem of humility when they went to the pilgrimage, and from this their hairs took their crest and surname.

"29. Sheriff is a kind of titlous sect of people, as Barons, Nobles, etc.

"30. Sheriff; a tittle given on those persons who were respective and pious in England."

The students were examined in the following bulky matters: Geometry, the Solar Spectrum, the Habeas Corpus Act, the British Parliament, and in Metaphysics they were asked to trace the progress of skepticism from Descartes to Hume. It is within bounds to say that some of the results were astonishing. Without doubt, there were students present who justified their teacher's wisdom in introducing them to these studies; but the fact is also evident that others had been pushed into these studies to waste their time over them when they could have been profitably employed in hunting smaller game. Under the head of Geometry, one of the answers is this:

"49. The whole BD = the whole CA, and so-so-so-so-so-so-so."

To me this is cloudy, but I was never well up in geometry. That was the only effort made among the five students who appeared for examination in geometry; the other four wailed and surrendered without a fight. They are piteous wails, too, wails of despair; and one of them is an eloquent reproach; it comes from a poor fellow who has been laden beyond his strength by a stupid teacher, and is eloquent in spite of the poverty of its English. The poor chap finds himself required to explain riddles which even Sir Isaac Newton was not able to understand:

"50. Oh my dear father examiner you my father and you kindly give a number of pass you my great father.

"51. I am a poor boy and have no means to support my mother and two brothers who are suffering much for want of food. I get four rupees monthly from charity fund of this place, from which I send two rupees for their support, and keep two for my own support. Father, if I relate the unlucky circumstance under which we are placed, then, I think, you will not be able to suppress the tender tear.

"52. Sir which Sir Isaac Newton and other experienced mathematicians cannot understand I being third of Entrance Class can understand these which is too impossible to imagine. And my examiner also has put very tiresome and very heavy propositions to prove."

We must remember that these pupils had to do their thinking in one language, and express themselves in another and alien one. It was a heavy handicap. I have by me "English as She is Taught"—a collection of American examinations made in the public schools of Brooklyn by one of the teachers, Miss Caroline B. Le Row. An extract or two from its pages will show that when the American pupil is using but one language, and that one his own, his performance is no whit better than his Indian brother's:

"ON HISTORY.

"Christopher Columbus was called the father of his Country. Queen Isabella of Spain sold her watch and chain and other millinery so that Columbus could discover America.

"The Indian wars were very desecrating to the country.

"The Indians pursued their warfare by hiding in the bushes and then scalping them.

"Captain John Smith has been styled the father of his country. His life was saved by his daughter Pochahantas.

"The Puritans found an insane asylum in the wilds of America.

"The Stamp Act was to make everybody stamp all materials so they should be null and void.

"Washington died in Spain almost broken-hearted. His remains were taken to the cathedral in Havana.

"Gorilla warfare was where men rode on gorillas."

In Brooklyn, as in India, they examine a pupil, and when they find out he doesn't know anything, they put him into literature, or geometry, or astronomy, or government, or something like that, so that he can properly display the assification of the whole system—

"ON LITERATURE.

"'Bracebridge Hall' was written by Henry Irving.

"Edgar A. Poe was a very curdling writer.

"Beowulf wrote the Scriptures.

"Ben Johnson survived Shakespeare in some respects.

"In the 'Canterbury Tale' it gives account of King Alfred on his way to the shrine of Thomas Bucket.

"Chaucer was the father of English pottery.

"Chaucer was succeeded by H. Wads. Longfellow."

We will finish with a couple of samples of "literature," one from America, the other from India. The first is a Brooklyn public-school boy's attempt to turn a few verses of the "Lady of the Lake" into prose. You will have to concede that he did it:

"The man who rode on the horse performed the whip and an instrument made of steel alone with strong ardor not diminishing, for, being tired from the time passed with hard labor overworked with anger and ignorant with weariness, while every breath for labor lie drew with cries full of sorrow, the young deer made imperfect who worked hard filtered in sight."

The following paragraph is from a little book which is famous in India —the biography of a distinguished Hindoo judge, Onoocool Chunder Mookerjee; it was written by his nephew, and is unintentionally funny-in fact, exceedingly so. I offer here the closing scene. If you would like to sample the rest of the book, it can be had by applying to the publishers, Messrs. Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta

"And having said these words he hermetically sealed his lips not to open them again. All the well-known doctors of Calcutta that could be procured for a man of his position and wealth were brought, —Doctors Payne, Fayrer, and Nilmadhub Mookerjee and others; they did what they could do, with their puissance and knack of medical knowledge, but it proved after all as if to milk the ram! His wife and children had not the mournful consolation to hear his last words; he remained sotto voce for a few hours, and then was taken from us at 6.12 P.m. according to the caprice of God which passeth understanding."



CHAPTER LXII.

There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined ones. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

We sailed from Calcutta toward the end of March; stopped a day at Madras; two or three days in Ceylon; then sailed westward on a long flight for Mauritius. From my diary:

April 7. We are far abroad upon the smooth waters of the Indian Ocean, now; it is shady and pleasant and peaceful under the vast spread of the awnings, and life is perfect again—ideal.

The difference between a river and the sea is, that the river looks fluid, the sea solid—usually looks as if you could step out and walk on it.

The captain has this peculiarity—he cannot tell the truth in a plausible way. In this he is the very opposite of the austere Scot who sits midway of the table; he cannot tell a lie in an unplausible way. When the captain finishes a statement the passengers glance at each other privately, as who should say, "Do you believe that?" When the Scot finishes one, the look says, "How strange and interesting." The whole secret is in the manner and method of the two men. The captain is a little shy and diffident, and he states the simplest fact as if he were a little afraid of it, while the Scot delivers himself of the most abandoned lie with such an air of stern veracity that one is forced to believe it although one knows it isn't so. For instance, the Scot told about a pet flying-fish he once owned, that lived in a little fountain in his conservatory, and supported itself by catching birds and frogs and rats in the neighboring fields. It was plain that no one at the table doubted this statement.

By and by, in the course of some talk about custom-house annoyances, the captain brought out the following simple everyday incident, but through his infirmity of style managed to tell it in such a way that it got no credence. He said:

"I went ashore at Naples one voyage when I was in that trade, and stood around helping my passengers, for I could speak a little Italian. Two or three times, at intervals, the officer asked me if I had anything dutiable about me, and seemed more and more put out and disappointed every time I told him no. Finally a passenger whom I had helped through asked me to come out and take something. I thanked him, but excused myself, saying I had taken a whisky just before I came ashore.

"It was a fatal admission. The officer at once made me pay sixpence import-duty on the whisky-just from ship to shore, you see; and he fined me L5 for not declaring the goods, another L5 for falsely denying that I had anything dutiable about me, also L5 for concealing the goods, and L50 for smuggling, which is the maximum penalty for unlawfully bringing in goods under the value of sevenpence ha'penny. Altogether, sixty-five pounds sixpence for a little thing like that."

The Scot is always believed, yet he never tells anything but lies; whereas the captain is never believed, although he never tells a lie, so far as I can judge. If he should say his uncle was a male person, he would probably say it in such a way that nobody would believe it; at the same time the Scot could claim that he had a female uncle and not stir a doubt in anybody's mind. My own luck has been curious all my literary life; I never could tell a lie that anybody would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe.

Lots of pets on board—birds and things. In these far countries the white people do seem to run remarkably to pets. Our host in Cawnpore had a fine collection of birds—the finest we saw in a private house in India. And in Colombo, Dr. Murray's great compound and commodious bungalow were well populated with domesticated company from the woods: frisky little squirrels; a Ceylon mina walking sociably about the house; a small green parrot that whistled a single urgent note of call without motion of its beak; also chuckled; a monkey in a cage on the back veranda, and some more out in the trees; also a number of beautiful macaws in the trees; and various and sundry birds and animals of breeds not known to me. But no cat. Yet a cat would have liked that place.

April 9. Tea-planting is the great business in Ceylon, now. A passenger says it often pays 40 per cent. on the investment. Says there is a boom.

April 10. The sea is a Mediterranean blue; and I believe that that is about the divinest color known to nature.

It is strange and fine—Nature's lavish generosities to her creatures. At least to all of them except man. For those that fly she has provided a home that is nobly spacious—a home which is forty miles deep and envelops the whole globe, and has not an obstruction in it. For those that swim she has provided a more than imperial domain—a domain which is miles deep and covers four-fifths of the globe. But as for man, she has cut him off with the mere odds and ends of the creation. She has given him the thin skin, the meagre skin which is stretched over the remaining one-fifth—the naked bones stick up through it in most places. On the one-half of this domain he can raise snow, ice, sand, rocks, and nothing else. So the valuable part of his inheritance really consists of but a single fifth of the family estate; and out of it he has to grub hard to get enough to keep him alive and provide kings and soldiers and powder to extend the blessings of civilization with. Yet man, in his simplicity and complacency and inability to cipher, thinks Nature regards him as the important member of the family—in fact, her favorite. Surely, it must occur to even his dull head, sometimes, that she has a curious way of showing it.

Afternoon. The captain has been telling how, in one of his Arctic voyages, it was so cold that the mate's shadow froze fast to the deck and had to be ripped loose by main strength. And even then he got only about two-thirds of it back. Nobody said anything, and the captain went away. I think he is becoming disheartened . . . . Also, to be fair, there is another word of praise due to this ship's library: it contains no copy of the Vicar of Wakefield, that strange menagerie of complacent hypocrites and idiots, of theatrical cheap-john heroes and heroines, who are always showing off, of bad people who are not interesting, and good people who are fatiguing. A singular book. Not a sincere line in it, and not a character that invites respect; a book which is one long waste-pipe discharge of goody-goody puerilities and dreary moralities; a book which is full of pathos which revolts, and humor which grieves the heart. There are few things in literature that are more piteous, more pathetic, than the celebrated "humorous" incident of Moses and the spectacles. Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.

Customs in tropic seas. At 5 in the morning they pipe to wash down the decks, and at once the ladies who are sleeping there turn out and they and their beds go below. Then one after another the men come up from the bath in their pyjamas, and walk the decks an hour or two with bare legs and bare feet. Coffee and fruit served. The ship cat and her kitten now appear and get about their toilets; next the barber comes and flays us on the breezy deck. Breakfast at 9.30, and the day begins. I do not know how a day could be more reposeful: no motion; a level blue sea; nothing in sight from horizon to horizon; the speed of the ship furnishes a cooling breeze; there is no mail to read and answer; no newspapers to excite you; no telegrams to fret you or fright you—the world is far, far away; it has ceased to exist for you—seemed a fading dream, along in the first days; has dissolved to an unreality now; it is gone from your mind with all its businesses and ambitions, its prosperities and disasters, its exultations and despairs, its joys and griefs and cares and worries. They are no concern of yours any more; they have gone out of your life; they are a storm which has passed and left a deep calm behind. The people group themselves about the decks in their snowy white linen, and read, smoke, sew, play cards, talk, nap, and so on. In other ships the passengers are always ciphering about when they are going to arrive; out in these seas it is rare, very rare, to hear that subject broached. In other ships there is always an eager rush to the bulletin board at noon to find out what the "run" has been; in these seas the bulletin seems to attract no interest; I have seen no one visit it; in thirteen days I have visited it only once. Then I happened to notice the figures of the day's run. On that day there happened to be talk, at dinner, about the speed of modern ships. I was the only passenger present who knew this ship's gait. Necessarily, the Atlantic custom of betting on the ship's run is not a custom here—nobody ever mentions it.

I myself am wholly indifferent as to when we are going to "get in"; if any one else feels interested in the matter he has not indicated it in my hearing. If I had my way we should never get in at all. This sort of sea life is charged with an indestructible charm. There is no weariness, no fatigue, no worry, no responsibility, no work, no depression of spirits. There is nothing like this serenity, this comfort, this peace, this deep contentment, to be found anywhere on land. If I had my way I would sail on for ever and never go to live on the solid ground again.

One of Kipling's ballads has delivered the aspect and sentiment of this bewitching sea correctly:

"The Injian Ocean sets an' smiles So sof', so bright, so bloomin' blue; There aren't a wave for miles an' miles Excep' the jiggle from the screw."

April 14. It turns out that the astronomical apprentice worked off a section of the Milky Way on me for the Magellan Clouds. A man of more experience in the business showed one of them to me last night. It was small and faint and delicate, and looked like the ghost of a bunch of white smoke left floating in the sky by an exploded bombshell.

Wednesday, April 15. Mauritius. Arrived and anchored off Port Louis 2 A. M. Rugged clusters of crags and peaks, green to their summits; from their bases to the sea a green plain with just tilt enough to it to make the water drain off. I believe it is in 56 E. and 22 S.—a hot tropical country. The green plain has an inviting look; has scattering dwellings nestling among the greenery. Scene of the sentimental adventure of Paul and Virginia.

Island under French control—which means a community which depends upon quarantines, not sanitation, for its health.

Thursday, April 16. Went ashore in the forenoon at Port Louis, a little town, but with the largest variety of nationalities and complexions we have encountered yet. French, English, Chinese, Arabs, Africans with wool, blacks with straight hair, East Indians, half-whites, quadroons —and great varieties in costumes and colors.

Took the train for Curepipe at 1.30—two hours' run, gradually uphill. What a contrast, this frantic luxuriance of vegetation, with the arid plains of India; these architecturally picturesque crags and knobs and miniature mountains, with the monotony of the Indian dead-levels.

A native pointed out a handsome swarthy man of grave and dignified bearing, and said in an awed tone, "That is so-and-so; has held office of one sort or another under this government for 37 years—he is known all over this whole island and in the other countries of the world perhaps —who knows? One thing is certain; you can speak his name anywhere in this whole island, and you will find not one grown person that has not heard it. It is a wonderful thing to be so celebrated; yet look at him; it makes no change in him; he does not even seem to know it."

Curepipe (means Pincushion or Pegtown, probably). Sixteen miles (two hours) by rail from Port Louis. At each end of every roof and on the apex of every dormer window a wooden peg two feet high stands up; in some cases its top is blunt, in others the peg is sharp and looks like a toothpick. The passion for this humble ornament is universal.

Apparently, there has been only one prominent event in the history of Mauritius, and that one didn't happen. I refer to the romantic sojourn of Paul and Virginia here. It was that story that made Mauritius known to the world, made the name familiar to everybody, the geographical position of it to nobody.

A clergyman was asked to guess what was in a box on a table. It was a vellum fan painted with the shipwreck, and was "one of Virginia's wedding gifts."

April 18. This is the only country in the world where the stranger is not asked "How do you like this place?" This is indeed a large distinction. Here the citizen does the talking about the country himself; the stranger is not asked to help. You get all sorts of information. From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius. Another one tells you that this is an exaggeration; that the two chief villages, Port Louis and Curepipe, fall short of heavenly perfection; that nobody lives in Port Louis except upon compulsion, and that Curepipe is the wettest and rainiest place in the world. An English citizen said:

"In the early part of this century Mauritius was used by the French as a basis from which to operate against England's Indian merchantmen; so England captured the island and also the neighbor, Bourbon, to stop that annoyance. England gave Bourbon back; the government in London did not want any more possessions in the West Indies. If the government had had a better quality of geography in stock it would not have wasted Bourbon in that foolish way. A big war will temporarily shut up the Suez Canal some day and the English ships will have to go to India around the Cape of Good Hope again; then England will have to have Bourbon and will take it.

"Mauritius was a crown colony until 20 years ago, with a governor appointed by the Crown and assisted by a Council appointed by himself; but Pope Hennessey came out as Governor then, and he worked hard to get a part of the council made elective, and succeeded. So now the whole council is French, and in all ordinary matters of legislation they vote together and in the French interest, not the English. The English population is very slender; it has not votes enough to elect a legislator. Half a dozen rich French families elect the legislature. Pope Hennessey was an Irishman, a Catholic, a Home Ruler, M.P., a hater of England and the English, a very troublesome person and a serious incumbrance at Westminster; so it was decided to send him out to govern unhealthy countries, in hope that something would happen to him. But nothing did. The first experiment was not merely a failure, it was more than a failure. He proved to be more of a disease himself than any he was sent to encounter. The next experiment was here. The dark scheme failed again. It was an off-season and there was nothing but measles here at the time. Pope Hennessey's health was not affected. He worked with the French and for the French and against the English, and he made the English very tired and the French very happy, and lived to have the joy of seeing the flag he served publicly hissed. His memory is held in worshipful reverence and affection by the French.

"It is a land of extraordinary quarantines. They quarantine a ship for anything or for nothing; quarantine her for 20 and even 30 days. They once quarantined a ship because her captain had had the smallpox when he was a boy. That and because he was English.

"The population is very small; small to insignificance. The majority is East Indian; then mongrels; then negroes (descendants of the slaves of the French times); then French; then English. There was an American, but he is dead or mislaid. The mongrels are the result of all kinds of mixtures; black and white, mulatto and white, quadroon and white, octoroon and white. And so there is every shade of complexion; ebony, old mahogany, horsechestnut, sorrel, molasses-candy, clouded amber, clear amber, old-ivory white, new-ivory white, fish-belly white—this latter the leprous complexion frequent with the Anglo-Saxon long resident in tropical climates.

"You wouldn't expect a person to be proud of being a Mauritian, now would you? But it is so. The most of them have never been out of the island, and haven't read much or studied much, and they think the world consists of three principal countries—Judaea, France, and Mauritius; so they are very proud of belonging to one of the three grand divisions of the globe. They think that Russia and Germany are in England, and that England does not amount to much. They have heard vaguely about the United States and the equator, but they think both of them are monarchies. They think Mount Peter Botte is the highest mountain in the world, and if you show one of them a picture of Milan Cathedral he will swell up with satisfaction and say that the idea of that jungle of spires was stolen from the forest of peg-tops and toothpicks that makes the roofs of Curepipe look so fine and prickly.

"There is not much trade in books. The newspapers educate and entertain the people. Mainly the latter. They have two pages of large-print reading-matter-one of them English, the other French. The English page is a translation of the French one. The typography is super-extra primitive—in this quality it has not its equal anywhere. There is no proof-reader now; he is dead.

"Where do they get matter to fill up a page in this little island lost in the wastes of the Indian Ocean? Oh, Madagascar. They discuss Madagascar and France. That is the bulk. Then they chock up the rest with advice to the Government. Also, slurs upon the English administration. The papers are all owned and edited by creoles—French.

"The language of the country is French. Everybody speaks it—has to. You have to know French particularly mongrel French, the patois spoken by Tom, Dick, and Harry of the multiform complexions—or you can't get along.

"This was a flourishing country in former days, for it made then and still makes the best sugar in the world; but first the Suez Canal severed it from the world and left it out in the cold and next the beetroot sugar helped by bounties, captured the European markets. Sugar is the life of Mauritius, and it is losing its grip. Its downward course was checked by the depreciation of the rupee—for the planter pays wages in rupees but sells his crop for gold—and the insurrection in Cuba and paralyzation of the sugar industry there have given our prices here a life-saving lift; but the outlook has nothing permanently favorable about it. It takes a year to mature the canes—on the high ground three and six months longer —and there is always a chance that the annual cyclone will rip the profit out of the crop. In recent times a cyclone took the whole crop, as you may say; and the island never saw a finer one. Some of the noblest sugar estates in the island are in deep difficulties. A dozen of them are investments of English capital; and the companies that own them are at work now, trying to settle up and get out with a saving of half the money they put in. You know, in these days, when a country begins to introduce the tea culture, it means that its own specialty has gone back on it. Look at Bengal; look at Ceylon. Well, they've begun to introduce the tea culture, here.

"Many copies of Paul and Virginia are sold every year in Mauritius. No other book is so popular here except the Bible. By many it is supposed to be a part of the Bible. All the missionaries work up their French on it when they come here to pervert the Catholic mongrel. It is the greatest story that was ever written about Mauritius, and the only one."



CHAPTER LXIII.

The principal difference between a cat and a lie is that the cat has only nine lives. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

April 20.—The cyclone of 1892 killed and crippled hundreds of people; it was accompanied by a deluge of rain, which drowned Port Louis and produced a water famine. Quite true; for it burst the reservoir and the water-pipes; and for a time after the flood had disappeared there was much distress from want of water.

This is the only place in the world where no breed of matches can stand the damp. Only one match in 16 will light.

The roads are hard and smooth; some of the compounds are spacious, some of the bungalows commodious, and the roadways are walled by tall bamboo hedges, trim and green and beautiful; and there are azalea hedges, too, both the white and the red; I never saw that before.

As to healthiness: I translate from to-day's (April 20) Merchants' and Planters' Gazette, from the article of a regular contributor, "Carminge," concerning the death of the nephew of a prominent citizen:

"Sad and lugubrious existence, this which we lead in Mauritius; I believe there is no other country in the world where one dies more easily than among us. The least indisposition becomes a mortal malady; a simple headache develops into meningitis; a cold into pneumonia, and presently, when we are least expecting it, death is a guest in our home."

This daily paper has a meteorological report which tells you what the weather was day before yesterday.

One is clever pestered by a beggar or a peddler in this town, so far as I can see. This is pleasantly different from India.

April 22. To such as believe that the quaint product called French civilization would be an improvement upon the civilization of New Guinea and the like, the snatching of Madagascar and the laying on of French civilization there will be fully justified. But why did the English allow the French to have Madagascar? Did she respect a theft of a couple of centuries ago? Dear me, robbery by European nations of each other's territories has never been a sin, is not a sin to-day. To the several cabinets the several political establishments of the world are clotheslines; and a large part of the official duty of these cabinets is to keep an eye on each other's wash and grab what they can of it as opportunity offers. All the territorial possessions of all the political establishments in the earth—including America, of course—consist of pilferings from other people's wash. No tribe, howsoever insignificant, and no nation, howsoever mighty, occupies a foot of land that was not stolen. When the English, the French, and the Spaniards reached America, the Indian tribes had been raiding each other's territorial clothes-lines for ages, and every acre of ground in the continent had been stolen and re-stolen 500 times. The English, the French, and the Spaniards went to work and stole it all over again; and when that was satisfactorily accomplished they went diligently to work and stole it from each other. In Europe and Asia and Africa every acre of ground has been stolen several millions of times. A crime persevered in a thousand centuries ceases to be a crime, and becomes a virtue. This is the law of custom, and custom supersedes all other forms of law. Christian governments are as frank to-day, as open and above-board, in discussing projects for raiding each other's clothes-lines as ever they were before the Golden Rule came smiling into this inhospitable world and couldn't get a night's lodging anywhere. In 150 years England has beneficently retired garment after garment from the Indian lines, until there is hardly a rag of the original wash left dangling anywhere. In 800 years an obscure tribe of Muscovite savages has risen to the dazzling position of Land-Robber-in-Chief; she found a quarter of the world hanging out to dry on a hundred parallels of latitude, and she scooped in the whole wash. She keeps a sharp eye on a multitude of little lines that stretch along the northern boundaries of India, and every now and then she snatches a hip-rag or a pair of pyjamas. It is England's prospective property, and Russia knows it; but Russia cares nothing for that. In fact, in our day land-robbery, claim-jumping, is become a European governmental frenzy. Some have been hard at it in the borders of China, in Burma, in Siam, and the islands of the sea; and all have been at it in Africa. Africa has been as coolly divided up and portioned out among the gang as if they had bought it and paid for it. And now straightway they are beginning the old game again —to steal each other's grabbings. Germany found a vast slice of Central Africa with the English flag and the English missionary and the English trader scattered all over it, but with certain formalities neglected—no signs up, "Keep off the grass," "Trespassers-forbidden," etc.—and she stepped in with a cold calm smile and put up the signs herself, and swept those English pioneers promptly out of the country.

There is a tremendous point there. It can be put into the form of a maxim: Get your formalities right—never mind about the moralities.

It was an impudent thing; but England had to put up with it. Now, in the case of Madagascar, the formalities had originally been observed, but by neglect they had fallen into desuetude ages ago. England should have snatched Madagascar from the French clothes-line. Without an effort she could have saved those harmless natives from the calamity of French civilization, and she did not do it. Now it is too late.

The signs of the times show plainly enough what is going to happen. All the savage lands in the world are going to be brought under subjection to the Christian governments of Europe. I am not sorry, but glad. This coming fate might have been a calamity to those savage peoples two hundred years ago; but now it will in some cases be a benefaction. The sooner the seizure is consummated, the better for the savages.

The dreary and dragging ages of bloodshed and disorder and oppression will give place to peace and order and the reign of law. When one considers what India was under her Hindoo and Mohammedan rulers, and what she is now; when he remembers the miseries of her millions then and the protections and humanities which they enjoy now, he must concede that the most fortunate thing that has ever befallen that empire was the establishment of British supremacy there. The savage lands of the world are to pass to alien possession, their peoples to the mercies of alien rulers. Let us hope and believe that they will all benefit by the change.

April 23. "The first year they gather shells; the second year they gather shells and drink; the third year they do not gather shells." (Said of immigrants to Mauritius.)

Population 375,000. 120 sugar factories.

Population 1851, 185,000. The increase is due mainly to the introduction of Indian coolies. They now apparently form the great majority of the population. They are admirable breeders; their homes are always hazy with children. Great savers of money. A British officer told me that in India he paid his servant 10 rupees a month, and he had 11 cousins, uncles, parents, etc., dependent upon him, and he supported them on his wages. These thrifty coolies are said to be acquiring land a trifle at a time, and cultivating it; and may own the island by and by.

The Indian women do very hard labor [for wages of (1/2 rupee) for twelve hours' work.] They carry mats of sugar on their heads (70 pounds) all day lading ships, for half a rupee, and work at gardening all day for less.

The camaron is a fresh water creature like a cray-fish. It is regarded here as the world's chiefest delicacy—and certainly it is good. Guards patrol the streams to prevent poaching it. A fine of Rs.200 or 300 (they say) for poaching. Bait is thrown in the water; the camaron goes for it; the fisher drops his loop in and works it around and about the camaron he has selected, till he gets it over its tail; then there's a jerk or something to certify the camaron that it is his turn now; he suddenly backs away, which moves the loop still further up his person and draws it taut, and his days are ended.

Another dish, called palmiste, is like raw turnip-shavings and tastes like green almonds; is very delicate and good. Costs the life of a palm tree 12 to 20 years old—for it is the pith.

Another dish—looks like greens or a tangle of fine seaweed—is a preparation of the deadly nightshade. Good enough.

The monkeys live in the dense forests on the flanks of the toy mountains, and they flock down nights and raid the sugar-fields. Also on other estates they come down and destroy a sort of bean-crop—just for fun, apparently—tear off the pods and throw them down.

The cyclone of 1892 tore down two great blocks of stone buildings in the center of Port Louis—the chief architectural feature-and left the uncomely and apparently frail blocks standing. Everywhere in its track it annihilated houses, tore off roofs, destroyed trees and crops. The men were in the towns, the women and children at home in the country getting crippled, killed, frightened to insanity; and the rain deluging them, the wind howling, the thunder crashing, the lightning glaring. This for an hour or so. Then a lull and sunshine; many ventured out of safe shelter; then suddenly here it came again from the opposite point and renewed and completed the devastation. It is said the Chinese fed the sufferers for days on free rice.

Whole streets in Port Louis were laid flat—wrecked. During a minute and a half the wind blew 123 miles an hour; no official record made after that, when it may have reached 150. It cut down an obelisk. It carried an American ship into the woods after breaking the chains of two anchors. They now use four-two forward, two astern. Common report says it killed 1,200 in Port Louis alone, in half an hour. Then came the lull of the central calm—people did not know the barometer was still going down —then suddenly all perdition broke loose again while people were rushing around seeking friends and rescuing the wounded. The noise was comparable to nothing; there is nothing resembling it but thunder and cannon, and these are feeble in comparison.

What there is of Mauritius is beautiful. You have undulating wide expanses of sugar-cane—a fine, fresh green and very pleasant to the eye; and everywhere else you have a ragged luxuriance of tropic vegetation of vivid greens of varying shades, a wild tangle of underbrush, with graceful tall palms lifting their crippled plumes high above it; and you have stretches of shady dense forest with limpid streams frolicking through them, continually glimpsed and lost and glimpsed again in the pleasantest hide-and-seek fashion; and you have some tiny mountains, some quaint and picturesque groups of toy peaks, and a dainty little vest-pocket Matterhorn; and here and there and now and then a strip of sea with a white ruffle of surf breaks into the view.

That is Mauritius; and pretty enough. The details are few, the massed result is charming, but not imposing; not riotous, not exciting; it is a Sunday landscape. Perspective, and the enchantments wrought by distance, are wanting. There are no distances; there is no perspective, so to speak. Fifteen miles as the crow flies is the usual limit of vision. Mauritius is a garden and a park combined. It affects one's emotions as parks and gardens affect them. The surfaces of one's spiritual deeps are pleasantly played upon, the deeps themselves are not reached, not stirred. Spaciousness, remote altitudes, the sense of mystery which haunts apparently inaccessible mountain domes and summits reposing in the sky—these are the things which exalt the spirit and move it to see visions and dream dreams.

The Sandwich Islands remain my ideal of the perfect thing in the matter of tropical islands. I would add another story to Mauna Loa's 16,000 feet if I could, and make it particularly bold and steep and craggy and forbidding and snowy; and I would make the volcano spout its lava-floods out of its summit instead of its sides; but aside from these non-essentials I have no corrections to suggest. I hope these will be attended to; I do not wish to have to speak of it again.



CHAPTER LXIV.

When your watch gets out of order you have choice of two things to do: throw it in the fire or take it to the watch-tinker. The former is the quickest. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

The Arundel Castle is the finest boat I have seen in these seas. She is thoroughly modern, and that statement covers a great deal of ground. She has the usual defect, the common defect, the universal defect, the defect that has never been missing from any ship that ever sailed—she has imperfect beds. Many ships have good beds, but no ship has very good ones. In the matter of beds all ships have been badly edited, ignorantly edited, from the beginning. The selection of the beds is given to some hearty, strong-backed, self-made man, when it ought to be given to a frail woman accustomed from girlhood to backaches and insomnia. Nothing is so rare, on either side of the ocean, as a perfect bed; nothing is so difficult to make. Some of the hotels on both sides provide it, but no ship ever does or ever did. In Noah's Ark the beds were simply scandalous. Noah set the fashion, and it will endure in one degree of modification or another till the next flood.

8 A.M. Passing Isle de Bourbon. Broken-up sky-line of volcanic mountains in the middle. Surely it would not cost much to repair them, and it seems inexcusable neglect to leave them as they are.

It seems stupid to send tired men to Europe to rest. It is no proper rest for the mind to clatter from town to town in the dust and cinders, and examine galleries and architecture, and be always meeting people and lunching and teaing and dining, and receiving worrying cables and letters. And a sea voyage on the Atlantic is of no use—voyage too short, sea too rough. The peaceful Indian and Pacific Oceans and the long stretches of time are the healing thing.

May 2, AM. A fair, great ship in sight, almost the first we have seen in these weeks of lonely voyaging. We are now in the Mozambique Channel, between Madagascar and South Africa, sailing straight west for Delagoa Bay.

Last night, the burly chief engineer, middle-aged, was standing telling a spirited seafaring tale, and had reached the most exciting place, where a man overboard was washing swiftly astern on the great seas, and uplifting despairing cries, everybody racing aft in a frenzy of excitement and fading hope, when the band, which had been silent a moment, began impressively its closing piece, the English national anthem. As simply as if he was unconscious of what he was doing, he stopped his story, uncovered, laid his laced cap against his breast, and slightly bent his grizzled head. The few bars finished, he put on his cap and took up his tale again, as naturally as if that interjection of music had been a part of it. There was something touching and fine about it, and it was moving to reflect that he was one of a myriad, scattered over every part of the globe, who by turn was doing as he was doing every hour of the twenty-four—those awake doing it while the others slept—those impressive bars forever floating up out of the various climes, never silent and never lacking reverent listeners.

All that I remember about Madagascar is that Thackeray's little Billie went up to the top of the mast and there knelt him upon his knee, saying, "I see

"Jerusalem and Madagascar, And North and South Amerikee."

May 3. Sunday. Fifteen or twenty Africanders who will end their voyage to-day and strike for their several homes from Delagoa Bay to-morrow, sat up singing on the afterdeck in the moonlight till 3 A.M. Good fun and wholesome. And the songs were clean songs, and some of them were hallowed by tender associations. Finally, in a pause, a man asked, "Have you heard about the fellow that kept a diary crossing the Atlantic?" It was a discord, a wet blanket. The men were not in the mood for humorous dirt. The songs had carried them to their homes, and in spirit they sat by those far hearthstones, and saw faces and heard voices other than those that were about them. And so this disposition to drag in an old indecent anecdote got no welcome; nobody answered. The poor man hadn't wit enough to see that he had blundered, but asked his question again. Again there was no response. It was embarrassing for him. In his confusion he chose the wrong course, did the wrong thing—began the anecdote. Began it in a deep and hostile stillness, where had been such life and stir and warm comradeship before. He delivered himself of the brief details of the diary's first day, and did it with some confidence and a fair degree of eagerness. It fell flat. There was an awkward pause. The two rows of men sat like statues. There was no movement, no sound. He had to go on; there was no other way, at least none that an animal of his calibre could think of. At the close of each day's diary, the same dismal silence followed. When at last he finished his tale and sprung the indelicate surprise which is wont to fetch a crash of laughter, not a ripple of sound resulted. It was as if the tale had been told to dead men. After what seemed a long, long time, somebody sighed, somebody else stirred in his seat; presently, the men dropped into a low murmur of confidential talk, each with his neighbor, and the incident was closed. There were indications that that man was fond of his anecdote; that it was his pet, his standby, his shot that never missed, his reputation-maker. But he will never tell it again. No doubt he will think of it sometimes, for that cannot well be helped; and then he will see a picture, and always the same picture—the double rank of dead men; the vacant deck stretching away in dimming perspective beyond them, the wide desert of smooth sea all abroad; the rim of the moon spying from behind a rag of black cloud; the remote top of the mizzenmast shearing a zigzag path through the fields of stars in the deeps of space; and this soft picture will remind him of the time that he sat in the midst of it and told his poor little tale and felt so lonesome when he got through.

Fifty Indians and Chinamen asleep in a big tent in the waist of the ship forward; they lie side by side with no space between; the former wrapped up, head and all, as in the Indian streets, the Chinamen uncovered; the lamp and things for opium smoking in the center.

A passenger said it was ten 2-ton truck loads of dynamite that lately exploded at Johannesburg. Hundreds killed; he doesn't know how many; limbs picked up for miles around. Glass shattered, and roofs swept away or collapsed 200 yards off; fragment of iron flung three and a half miles.

It occurred at 3 p.m.; at 6, L65,000 had been subscribed. When this passenger left, L35,000 had been voted by city and state governments and L100,000 by citizens and business corporations. When news of the disaster was telephoned to the Exchange L35,000 were subscribed in the first five minutes. Subscribing was still going on when he left; the papers had ceased the names, only the amounts—too many names; not enough room. L100,000 subscribed by companies and citizens; if this is true, it must be what they call in Australia "a record"—the biggest instance of a spontaneous outpour for charity in history, considering the size of the population it was drawn from, $8 or $10 for each white resident, babies at the breast included.

Monday, May 4. Steaming slowly in the stupendous Delagoa Bay, its dim arms stretching far away and disappearing on both sides. It could furnish plenty of room for all the ships in the world, but it is shoal. The lead has given us 3 1/2 fathoms several times and we are drawing that, lacking 6 inches.

A bold headland—precipitous wall, 150 feet high, very strong, red color, stretching a mile or so. A man said it was Portuguese blood—battle fought here with the natives last year. I think this doubtful. Pretty cluster of houses on the tableland above the red-and rolling stretches of grass and groups of trees, like England.

The Portuguese have the railroad (one passenger train a day) to the border—70 miles—then the Netherlands Company have it. Thousands of tons of freight on the shore—no cover. This is Portuguese allover —indolence, piousness, poverty, impotence.

Crews of small boats and tugs, all jet black woolly heads and very muscular.

Winter. The South African winter is just beginning now, but nobody but an expert can tell it from summer. However, I am tired of summer; we have had it unbroken for eleven months. We spent the afternoon on shore, Delagoa Bay. A small town—no sights. No carriages. Three 'rickshas, but we couldn't get them—apparently private. These Portuguese are a rich brown, like some of the Indians. Some of the blacks have the long horse beads and very long chins of the negroes of the picture books; but most of them are exactly like the negroes of our Southern States round faces, flat noses, good-natured, and easy laughers.

Flocks of black women passed along, carrying outrageously heavy bags of freight on their heads. The quiver of their leg as the foot was planted and the strain exhibited by their bodies showed what a tax upon their strength the load was. They were stevedores and doing full stevedores work. They were very erect when unladden—from carrying heavy loads on their heads—just like the Indian women. It gives them a proud fine carriage.

Sometimes one saw a woman carrying on her head a laden and top-heavy basket the shape of an inverted pyramid-its top the size of a soup-plate, its base the diameter of a teacup. It required nice balancing—and got it.

No bright colors; yet there were a good many Hindoos.

The Second Class Passenger came over as usual at "lights out" (11) and we lounged along the spacious vague solitudes of the deck and smoked the peaceful pipe and talked. He told me an incident in Mr. Barnum's life which was evidently characteristic of that great showman in several ways:

This was Barnum's purchase of Shakespeare's birthplace, a quarter of a century ago. The Second Class Passenger was in Jamrach's employ at the time and knew Barnum well. He said the thing began in this way. One morning Barnum and Jamrach were in Jamrach's little private snuggery back of the wilderness of caged monkeys and snakes and other commonplaces of Jamrach's stock in trade, refreshing themselves after an arduous stroke of business, Jamrach with something orthodox, Barnum with something heterodox—for Barnum was a teetotaler. The stroke of business was in the elephant line. Jamrach had contracted to deliver to Barnum in New York 18 elephants for $360,000 in time for the next season's opening. Then it occurred to Mr. Barnum that he needed a "card" He suggested Jumbo. Jamrach said he would have to think of something else—Jumbo couldn't be had; the Zoo wouldn't part with that elephant. Barnum said he was willing to pay a fortune for Jumbo if he could get him. Jamrach said it was no use to think about it; that Jumbo was as popular as the Prince of Wales and the Zoo wouldn't dare to sell him; all England would be outraged at the idea; Jumbo was an English institution; he was part of the national glory; one might as well think of buying the Nelson monument. Barnum spoke up with vivacity and said:

"It's a first-rate idea. I'll buy the Monument."

Jamrach was speechless for a second. Then he said, like one ashamed "You caught me. I was napping. For a moment I thought you were in earnest."

Barnum said pleasantly—

"I was in earnest. I know they won't sell it, but no matter, I will not throw away a good idea for all that. All I want is a big advertisement. I will keep the thing in mind, and if nothing better turns up I will offer to buy it. That will answer every purpose. It will furnish me a couple of columns of gratis advertising in every English and American paper for a couple of months, and give my show the biggest boom a show ever had in this world."

Jamrach started to deliver a burst of admiration, but was interrupted by Barnum, who said:

"Here is a state of things! England ought to blush."

His eye had fallen upon something in the newspaper. He read it through to himself, then read it aloud. It said that the house that Shakespeare was born in at Stratford-on-Avon was falling gradually to ruin through neglect; that the room where the poet first saw the light was now serving as a butcher's shop; that all appeals to England to contribute money (the requisite sum stated) to buy and repair the house and place it in the care of salaried and trustworthy keepers had fallen resultless. Then Barnum said:

"There's my chance. Let Jumbo and the Monument alone for the present —they'll keep. I'll buy Shakespeare's house. I'll set it up in my Museum in New York and put a glass case around it and make a sacred thing of it; and you'll see all America flock there to worship; yes, and pilgrims from the whole earth; and I'll make them take their hats off, too. In America we know how to value anything that Shakespeare's touch has made holy. You'll see."

In conclusion the S. C. P. said:

"That is the way the thing came about. Barnum did buy Shakespeare's house. He paid the price asked, and received the properly attested documents of sale. Then there was an explosion, I can tell you. England rose! That, the birthplace of the master-genius of all the ages and all the climes—that priceless possession of Britain—to be carted out of the country like so much old lumber and set up for sixpenny desecration in a Yankee show-shop—the idea was not to be tolerated for a moment. England rose in her indignation; and Barnum was glad to relinquish his prize and offer apologies. However, he stood out for a compromise; he claimed a concession—England must let him have Jumbo. And England consented, but not cheerfully."

It shows how, by help of time, a story can grow—even after Barnum has had the first innings in the telling of it. Mr. Barnum told me the story himself, years ago. He said that the permission to buy Jumbo was not a concession; the purchase was made and the animal delivered before the public knew anything about it. Also, that the securing of Jumbo was all the advertisement he needed. It produced many columns of newspaper talk, free of cost, and he was satisfied. He said that if he had failed to get Jumbo he would have caused his notion of buying the Nelson Monument to be treacherously smuggled into print by some trusty friend, and after he had gotten a few hundred pages of gratuitous advertising out of it, he would have come out with a blundering, obtuse, but warm-hearted letter of apology, and in a postscript to it would have naively proposed to let the Monument go, and take Stonehenge in place of it at the same price.

It was his opinion that such a letter, written with well-simulated asinine innocence and gush would have gotten his ignorance and stupidity an amount of newspaper abuse worth six fortunes to him, and not purchasable for twice the money.

I knew Mr. Barnum well, and I placed every confidence in the account which he gave me of the Shakespeare birthplace episode. He said he found the house neglected and going-to decay, and he inquired into the matter and was told that many times earnest efforts had been made to raise money for its proper repair and preservation, but without success. He then proposed to buy it. The proposition was entertained, and a price named —$50,000, I think; but whatever it was, Barnum paid the money down, without remark, and the papers were drawn up and executed. He said that it had been his purpose to set up the house in his Museum, keep it in repair, protect it from name-scribblers and other desecrators, and leave it by bequest to the safe and perpetual guardianship of the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.

But as soon as it was found that Shakespeare's house had passed into foreign hands and was going to be carried across the ocean, England was stirred as no appeal from the custodians of the relic had ever stirred England before, and protests came flowing in—and money, too, to stop the outrage. Offers of repurchase were made—offers of double the money that Mr. Barnum had paid for the house. He handed the house back, but took only the sum which it had cost him—but on the condition that an endowment sufficient for the future safeguarding and maintenance of the sacred relic should be raised. This condition was fulfilled.

That was Barnum's account of the episode; and to the end of his days he claimed with pride and satisfaction that not England, but America —represented by him—saved the birthplace of Shakespeare from destruction.

At 3 P.M., May 6th, the ship slowed down, off the land, and thoughtfully and cautiously picked her way into the snug harbor of Durban, South Africa.



CHAPTER LXV.

In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

FROM DIARY:

Royal Hotel. Comfortable, good table, good service of natives and Madrasis. Curious jumble of modern and ancient city and village, primitiveness and the other thing. Electric bells, but they don't ring. Asked why they didn't, the watchman in the office said he thought they must be out of order; he thought so because some of them rang, but most of them didn't. Wouldn't it be a good idea to put them in order? He hesitated—like one who isn't quite sure—then conceded the point.

May 7. A bang on the door at 6. Did I want my boots cleaned? Fifteen minutes later another bang. Did we want coffee? Fifteen later, bang again, my wife's bath ready; 15 later, my bath ready. Two other bangs; I forget what they were about. Then lots of shouting back and forth, among the servants just as in an Indian hotel.

Evening. At 4 P.M. it was unpleasantly warm. Half-hour after sunset one needed a spring overcoat; by 8 a winter one.

Durban is a neat and clean town. One notices that without having his attention called to it.

Rickshaws drawn by splendidly built black Zulus, so overflowing with strength, seemingly, that it is a pleasure, not a pain, to see them snatch a rickshaw along. They smile and laugh and show their teeth—a good-natured lot. Not allowed to drink; 2s per hour for one person; 3s for two; 3d for a course—one person.

The chameleon in the hotel court. He is fat and indolent and contemplative; but is business-like and capable when a fly comes about —reaches out a tongue like a teaspoon and takes him in. He gums his tongue first. He is always pious, in his looks. And pious and thankful both, when Providence or one of us sends him a fly. He has a froggy head, and a back like a new grave—for shape; and hands like a bird's toes that have been frostbitten. But his eyes are his exhibition feature. A couple of skinny cones project from the sides of his head, with a wee shiny bead of an eye set in the apex of each; and these cones turn bodily like pivot-guns and point every-which-way, and they are independent of each other; each has its own exclusive machinery. When I am behind him and C. in front of him, he whirls one eye rearwards and the other forwards—which gives him a most Congressional expression (one eye on the constituency and one on the swag); and then if something happens above and below him he shoots out one eye upward like a telescope and the other downward—and this changes his expression, but does not improve it.

Natives must not be out after the curfew bell without a pass. In Natal there are ten blacks to one white.

Sturdy plump creatures are the women. They comb their wool up to a peak and keep it in position by stiffening it with brown-red clay—half of this tower colored, denotes engagement; the whole of it colored denotes marriage.

None but heathen Zulus on the police; Christian ones not allowed.

May 9. A drive yesterday with friends over the Berea. Very fine roads and lofty, overlooking the whole town, the harbor, and the sea-beautiful views. Residences all along, set in the midst of green lawns with shrubs and generally one or two intensely red outbursts of poinsettia—the flaming splotch of blinding red a stunning contrast with the world of surrounding green. The cactus tree—candelabrum-like; and one twisted like gray writhing serpents. The "flat-crown" (should be flat-roof) —half a dozen naked branches full of elbows, slant upward like artificial supports, and fling a roof of delicate foliage out in a horizontal platform as flat as a floor; and you look up through this thin floor as through a green cobweb or veil. The branches are japanesich. All about you is a bewildering variety of unfamiliar and beautiful trees; one sort wonderfully dense foliage and very dark green—so dark that you notice it at once, notwithstanding there are so many orange trees. The "flamboyant"—not in flower, now, but when in flower lives up to its name, we are told. Another tree with a lovely upright tassel scattered among its rich greenery, red and glowing as a firecoal. Here and there a gum-tree; half a dozen lofty Norfolk Island pines lifting their fronded arms skyward. Groups of tall bamboo.

Saw one bird. Not many birds here, and they have no music—and the flowers not much smell, they grow so fast.

Everything neat and trim and clean like the town. The loveliest trees and the greatest variety I have ever seen anywhere, except approaching Darjeeling. Have not heard anyone call Natal the garden of South Africa, but that is what it probably is.

It was when Bishop of Natal that Colenso raised such a storm in the religious world. The concerns of religion are a vital matter here yet. A vigilant eye is kept upon Sunday. Museums and other dangerous resorts are not allowed to be open. You may sail on the Bay, but it is wicked to play cricket. For a while a Sunday concert was tolerated, upon condition that it must be admission free and the money taken by collection. But the collection was alarmingly large and that stopped the matter. They are particular about babies. A clergyman would not bury a child according to the sacred rites because it had not been baptized. The Hindoo is more liberal. He burns no child under three, holding that it does not need purifying.

The King of the Zulus, a fine fellow of 30, was banished six years ago for a term of seven years. He is occupying Napoleon's old stand—St. Helena. The people are a little nervous about having him come back, and they may well be, for Zulu kings have been terrible people sometimes —like Tchaka, Dingaan, and Cetewayo.

There is a large Trappist monastery two hours from Durban, over the country roads, and in company with Mr. Milligan and Mr. Hunter, general manager of the Natal government railways, who knew the heads of it, we went out to see it.

There it all was, just as one reads about it in books and cannot believe that it is so—I mean the rough, hard work, the impossible hours, the scanty food, the coarse raiment, the Maryborough beds, the tabu of human speech, of social intercourse, of relaxation, of amusement, of entertainment, of the presence of woman in the men's establishment. There it all was. It was not a dream, it was not a lie. And yet with the fact before one's face it was still incredible. It is such a sweeping suppression of human instincts, such an extinction of the man as an individual.

La Trappe must have known the human race well. The scheme which he invented hunts out everything that a man wants and values—and withholds it from him. Apparently there is no detail that can help make life worth living that has not been carefully ascertained and placed out of the Trappist's reach. La Trappe must have known that there were men who would enjoy this kind of misery, but how did he find it out?

If he had consulted you or me he would have been told that his scheme lacked too many attractions; that it was impossible; that it could never be floated. But there in the monastery was proof that he knew the human race better than it knew itself. He set his foot upon every desire that a man has—yet he floated his project, and it has prospered for two hundred years, and will go on prospering forever, no doubt.

Man likes personal distinction—there in the monastery it is obliterated. He likes delicious food—there he gets beans and bread and tea, and not enough of it. He likes to lie softly—there he lies on a sand mattress, and has a pillow and a blanket, but no sheet. When he is dining, in a great company of friends, he likes to laugh and chat—there a monk reads a holy book aloud during meals, and nobody speaks or laughs. When a man has a hundred friends about him, evenings, be likes to have a good time and run late—there he and the rest go silently to bed at 8; and in the dark, too; there is but a loose brown robe to discard, there are no night-clothes to put on, a light is not needed. Man likes to lie abed late there he gets up once or twice in the night to perform some religious office, and gets up finally for the day at two in the morning. Man likes light work or none at all—there he labors all day in the field, or in the blacksmith shop or the other shops devoted to the mechanical trades, such as shoemaking, saddlery, carpentry, and so on. Man likes the society of girls and women—there he never has it. He likes to have his children about him, and pet them and play with them —there he has none. He likes billiards—there is no table there. He likes outdoor sports and indoor dramatic and musical and social entertainments—there are none there. He likes to bet on things—I was told that betting is forbidden there. When a man's temper is up he likes to pour it out upon somebody there this is not allowed. A man likes animals—pets; there are none there. He likes to smoke—there he cannot do it. He likes to read the news—no papers or magazines come there. A man likes to know how his parents and brothers and sisters are getting along when he is away, and if they miss him—there he cannot know. A man likes a pretty house, and pretty furniture, and pretty things, and pretty colors—there he has nothing but naked aridity and sombre colors. A man likes—name it yourself: whatever it is, it is absent from that place.

From what I could learn, all that a man gets for this is merely the saving of his soul.

It all seems strange, incredible, impossible. But La Trappe knew the race. He knew the powerful attraction of unattractiveness; he knew that no life could be imagined, howsoever comfortless and forbidding, but somebody would want to try it.

This parent establishment of Germans began its work fifteen years ago, strangers, poor, and unencouraged; it owns 15,000 acres of land now, and raises grain and fruit, and makes wines, and manufactures all manner of things, and has native apprentices in its shops, and sends them forth able to read and write, and also well equipped to earn their living by their trades. And this young establishment has set up eleven branches in South Africa, and in them they are christianizing and educating and teaching wage-yielding mechanical trades to 1,200 boys and girls. Protestant Missionary work is coldly regarded by the commercial white colonist all over the heathen world, as a rule, and its product is nicknamed "rice-Christians" (occupationless incapables who join the church for revenue only), but I think it would be difficult to pick a flaw in the work of these Catholic monks, and I believe that the disposition to attempt it has not shown itself.

Tuesday, May 12. Transvaal politics in a confused condition. First the sentencing of the Johannesburg Reformers startled England by its severity; on the top of this came Kruger's exposure of the cipher correspondence, which showed that the invasion of the Transvaal, with the design of seizing that country and adding it to the British Empire, was planned by Cecil Rhodes and Beit—which made a revulsion in English feeling, and brought out a storm against Rhodes and the Chartered Company for degrading British honor. For a good while I couldn't seem to get at a clear comprehension of it, it was so tangled. But at last by patient study I have managed it, I believe. As I understand it, the Uitlanders and other Dutchmen were dissatisfied because the English would not allow them to take any part in the government except to pay taxes. Next, as I understand it, Dr. Kruger and Dr. Jameson, not having been able to make the medical business pay, made a raid into Matabeleland with the intention of capturing the capital, Johannesburg, and holding the women and children to ransom until the Uitlanders and the other Boers should grant to them and the Chartered Company the political rights which had been withheld from them. They would have succeeded in this great scheme, as I understand it, but for the interference of Cecil Rhodes and Mr. Beit, and other Chiefs of the Matabele, who persuaded their countrymen to revolt and throw off their allegiance to Germany. This, in turn, as I understand it, provoked the King of Abyssinia to destroy the Italian army and fall back upon Johannesburg; this at the instigation of Rhodes, to bull the stock market.



CHAPTER LXVI.

Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

When I scribbled in my note-book a year ago the paragraph which ends the preceding chapter, it was meant to indicate, in an extravagant form, two things: the conflicting nature of the information conveyed by the citizen to the stranger concerning South African politics, and the resulting confusion created in the stranger's mind thereby.

But it does not seem so very extravagant now. Nothing could in that disturbed and excited time make South African politics clear or quite rational to the citizen of the country because his personal interest and his political prejudices were in his way; and nothing could make those politics clear or rational to the stranger, the sources of his information being such as they were.

I was in South Africa some little time. When I arrived there the political pot was boiling fiercely. Four months previously, Jameson had plunged over the Transvaal border with about 600 armed horsemen at his back, to go to the "relief of the women and children" of Johannesburg; on the fourth day of his march the Boers had defeated him in battle, and carried him and his men to Pretoria, the capital, as prisoners; the Boer government had turned Jameson and his officers over to the British government for trial, and shipped them to England; next, it had arrested 64 important citizens of Johannesburg as raid-conspirators, condemned their four leaders to death, then commuted the sentences, and now the 64 were waiting, in jail, for further results. Before midsummer they were all out excepting two, who refused to sign the petitions for release; 58 had been fined $10,000 each and enlarged, and the four leaders had gotten off with fines of $125,000 each with permanent exile added, in one case.

Those were wonderfully interesting days for a stranger, and I was glad. to be in the thick of the excitement. Everybody was talking, and I expected to understand the whole of one side of it in a very little while.

I was disappointed. There were singularities, perplexities, unaccountabilities about it which I was not able to master. I had no personal access to Boers—their side was a secret to me, aside from what I was able to gather of it from published statements. My sympathies were soon with the Reformers in the Pretoria jail, with their friends, and with their cause. By diligent inquiry in Johannesburg I found out —apparently—all the details of their side of the quarrel except one—what they expected to accomplish by an armed rising.

Nobody seemed to know.

The reason why the Reformers were discontented and wanted some changes made, seemed quite clear. In Johannesburg it was claimed that the Uitlanders (strangers, foreigners) paid thirteen-fifteenths of the Transvaal taxes, yet got little or nothing for it. Their city had no charter; it had no municipal government; it could levy no taxes for drainage, water-supply, paving, cleaning, sanitation, policing. There was a police force, but it was composed of Boers, it was furnished by the State Government, and the city had no control over it. Mining was very costly; the government enormously increased the cost by putting burdensome taxes upon the mines, the output, the machinery, the buildings; by burdensome imposts upon incoming materials; by burdensome railway-freight-charges. Hardest of all to bear, the government reserved to itself a monopoly in that essential thing, dynamite, and burdened it with an extravagant price. The detested Hollander from over the water held all the public offices. The government was rank with corruption. The Uitlander had no vote, and must live in the State ten or twelve years before he could get one. He was not represented in the Raad (legislature) that oppressed him and fleeced him. Religion was not free. There were no schools where the teaching was in English, yet the great majority of the white population of the State knew no tongue but that. The State would not pass a liquor law; but allowed a great trade in cheap vile brandy among the blacks, with the result that 25 per cent. of the 50,000 blacks employed in the mines were usually drunk and incapable of working.

There—it was plain enough that the reasons for wanting some changes made were abundant and reasonable, if this statement of the existing grievances was correct.

What the Uitlanders wanted was reform—under the existing Republic.

What they proposed to do was to secure these reforms by, prayer, petition, and persuasion.

They did petition. Also, they issued a Manifesto, whose very first note is a bugle-blast of loyalty: "We want the establishment of this Republic as a true Republic."

Could anything be clearer than the Uitlander's statement of the grievances and oppressions under which they were suffering? Could anything be more legal and citizen-like and law-respecting than their attitude as expressed by their Manifesto? No. Those things were perfectly clear, perfectly comprehensible.

But at this point the puzzles and riddles and confusions begin to flock in. You have arrived at a place which you cannot quite understand.

For you find that as a preparation for this loyal, lawful, and in every way unexceptionable attempt to persuade the government to right their grievances, the Uitlanders had smuggled a Maxim gun or two and 1,500 muskets into the town, concealed in oil tanks and coal cars, and had begun to form and drill military companies composed of clerks, merchants, and citizens generally.

What was their idea? Did they suppose that the Boers would attack them for petitioning, for redress? That could not be.

Did they suppose that the Boers would attack them even for issuing a Manifesto demanding relief under the existing government?

Yes, they apparently believed so, because the air was full of talk of forcing the government to grant redress if it were not granted peacefully.

The Reformers were men of high intelligence. If they were in earnest, they were taking extraordinary risks. They had enormously valuable properties to defend; their town was full of women and children; their mines and compounds were packed with thousands upon thousands of sturdy blacks. If the Boers attacked, the mines would close, the blacks would swarm out and get drunk; riot and conflagration and the Boers together might lose the Reformers more in a day, in money, blood, and suffering, than the desired political relief could compensate in ten years if they won the fight and secured the reforms.

It is May, 1897, now; a year has gone by, and the confusions of that day have been to a considerable degree cleared away. Mr. Cecil Rhodes, Dr. Jameson, and others responsible for the Raid, have testified before the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry in London, and so have Mr. Lionel Phillips and other Johannesburg Reformers, monthly-nurses of the Revolution which was born dead. These testimonies have thrown light. Three books have added much to this light:

"South Africa As It Is," by Mr. Statham, an able writer partial to the Boers; "The Story of an African Crisis," by Mr. Garrett, a brilliant writer partial to Rhodes; and "A Woman's Part in a Revolution," by Mrs. John Hays Hammond, a vigorous and vivid diarist, partial to the Reformers. By liquifying the evidence of the prejudiced books and of the prejudiced parliamentary witnesses and stirring the whole together and pouring it into my own (prejudiced) moulds, I have got at the truth of that puzzling South African situation, which is this:

1. The capitalists and other chief men of Johannesburg were fretting under various political and financial burdens imposed by the State (the South African Republic, sometimes called "the Transvaal") and desired to procure by peaceful means a modification of the laws.

2. Mr. Cecil Rhodes, Premier of the British Cape Colony, millionaire, creator and managing director of the territorially-immense and financially unproductive South Africa Company; projector of vast schemes for the unification and consolidation of all the South African States, one imposing commonwealth or empire under the shadow and general protection of the British flag, thought he saw an opportunity to make profitable use of the Uitlander discontent above mentioned—make the Johannesburg cat help pull out one of his consolidation chestnuts for him. With this view he set himself the task of warming the lawful and legitimate petitions and supplications of the Uitlanders into seditious talk, and their frettings into threatenings—the final outcome to be revolt and armed rebellion. If he could bring about a bloody collision between those people and the Boer government, Great Britain would have to interfere; her interference would be resisted by the Boers; she would chastise them and add the Transvaal to her South African possessions. It was not a foolish idea, but a rational and practical one.

After a couple of years of judicious plotting, Mr. Rhodes had his reward; the revolutionary kettle was briskly boiling in Johannesburg, and the Uitlander leaders were backing their appeals to the government—now hardened into demands—by threats of force and bloodshed. By the middle of December, 1895, the explosion seemed imminent. Mr. Rhodes was diligently helping, from his distant post in Cape Town. He was helping to procure arms for Johannesburg; he was also arranging to have Jameson break over the border and come to Johannesburg with 600 mounted men at his back. Jameson—as per instructions from Rhodes, perhaps—wanted a letter from the Reformers requesting him to come to their aid. It was a good idea. It would throw a considerable share of the responsibility of his invasion upon the Reformers. He got the letter—that famous one urging him to fly to the rescue of the women and children. He got it two months before he flew. The Reformers seem to have thought it over and concluded that they had not done wisely; for the next day after giving Jameson the implicating document they wanted to withdraw it and leave the women and children in danger; but they were told that it was too late. The original had gone to Mr. Rhodes at the Cape. Jameson had kept a copy, though.

From that time until the 29th of December, a good deal of the Reformers' time was taken up with energetic efforts to keep Jameson from coming to their assistance. Jameson's invasion had been set for the 26th. The Reformers were not ready. The town was not united. Some wanted a fight, some wanted peace; some wanted a new government, some wanted the existing one reformed; apparently very few wanted the revolution to take place in the interest and under the ultimate shelter of the Imperial flag —British; yet a report began to spread that Mr. Rhodes's embarrassing assistance had for its end this latter object.

Jameson was away up on the frontier tugging at his leash, fretting to burst over the border. By hard work the Reformers got his starting-date postponed a little, and wanted to get it postponed eleven days. Apparently, Rhodes's agents were seconding their efforts—in fact wearing out the telegraph wires trying to hold him back. Rhodes was himself the only man who could have effectively postponed Jameson, but that would have been a disadvantage to his scheme; indeed, it could spoil his whole two years' work.

Jameson endured postponement three days, then resolved to wait no longer. Without any orders—excepting Mr. Rhodes's significant silence—he cut the telegraph wires on the 29th, and made his plunge that night, to go to the rescue of the women and children, by urgent request of a letter now nine days old—as per date,—a couple of months old, in fact. He read the letter to his men, and it affected them. It did not affect all of them alike. Some saw in it a piece of piracy of doubtful wisdom, and were sorry to find that they had been assembled to violate friendly territory instead of to raid native kraals, as they had supposed.

Jameson would have to ride 150 miles. He knew that there were suspicions abroad in the Transvaal concerning him, but he expected to get through to Johannesburg before they should become general and obstructive. But a telegraph wire had been overlooked and not cut. It spread the news of his invasion far and wide, and a few hours after his start the Boer farmers were riding hard from every direction to intercept him.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse