But, although the sense of form and the gift of style are essential to the writing of a good Short-story, they are secondary to the idea, to the conception, to the subject. Those who hold, with a certain American novelist, that it is no matter what you have to say, but only how you say it, need not attempt the Short-story; for the Short-story, far more than the Novel even, demands a subject. The Short-story is nothing if there is no story to tell. The Novel, so Mr. James told us not long ago, "is, in its broadest definition, a personal impression of life." The most powerful force in French fiction to-day is M. Emile Zola, chiefly known in America and England, I fear me greatly, by the dirt which masks and degrades the real beauty and firm strength not seldom concealed in his novels; and M. Emile Zola declares that the novelist of the future will not concern himself with the artistic evolution of a plot: he will take une histoire quelconque, any kind of a story, and make it serve his purpose,—which is to give elaborate pictures of life in all its most minute details. The acceptance of these theories is a negation of the Short-story. Important as are form and style, the substance of the Short-story is of more importance yet. What you have to tell is of greater interest than how you tell it. I once heard a clever American novelist pour sarcastic praise upon another American novelist,—for novelists, even American novelists, do not always dwell together in unity. The subject of the eulogy is the chief of those who have come to be known as the International Novelists, and he was praised because he had invented and made possible a fifth plot. Hitherto, declared the eulogist, only four terminations of a novel have been known to the most enthusiastic and untiring student of fiction. First, they are married; or, second, she marries some one else; or, thirdly, he marries some one else; or, fourthly, and lastly, she dies. Now, continued the panegyrist, a fifth termination has been shown to be practicable: they are not married, she does not die, he does not die, and nothing happens at all. As a Short-story need not be a love-story, it is of no consequence at all whether they marry or die; but a Short-story in which nothing happens at all is an absolute impossibility.
Perhaps the difference between a Short-story and a Sketch can best be indicated by saying that, while a Sketch may be still-life, in a Short-story something always happens. A Sketch may be an outline of character, or even a picture of a mood of mind, but in a Short-story there must be something done, there must be an action. Yet the distinction, like that between the Novel and the Romance, is no longer of vital importance. In the preface to "The House of the Seven Gables," Hawthorne sets forth the difference between the Novel and the Romance, and claims for himself the privileges of the romancer. Mr. Henry James fails to see this difference. The fact is, that the Short-story and the Sketch, the Novel and the Romance, melt and merge one into the other, and no man may mete the boundaries of each, though their extremes lie far apart. With the more complete understanding of the principle of development and evolution in literary art, as in physical nature, we see the futility of a strict and rigid classification into precisely defined genera and species. All that it is needful for us to remark now is that the Short-story has limitless possibilities: it may be as realistic as the most prosaic novel, or as fantastic as the most ethereal romance.
As a touch of fantasy, however slight, is a most welcome ingredient in a Short-story, and as the American takes more thought of things unseen than the Englishman, we may have here an incomplete explanation of the superiority of the American Short-story over the English. "John Bull has suffered the idea of the Invisible to be very much fattened out of him," says Mr. Lowell: "Jonathan is conscious still that he lives in the World of the Unseen as well as of the Seen." It is not enough to catch a ghost white-handed and to hale him into the full glare of the electric light. A brutal misuse of the supernatural is perhaps the very lowest degradation of the art of fiction. But "to mingle the marvellous rather as a slight, delicate, and evanescent flavor than as any actual portion of the substance," to quote from the preface to "The House of the Seven Gables," this is, or should be, the aim of the writer of Short-stories whenever his feet leave the firm ground of fact as he strays in the unsubstantial realms of fantasy. In no one's writings is this better exemplified than in Hawthorne's; not even in Poe's. There is a propriety in Hawthorne's fantasy to which Poe could not attain. Hawthorne's effects are moral where Poe's are merely physical. To Poe the situation and its logical development and the effects to be got out of it are all he thinks of. In Hawthorne the situation, however strange and weird, is only the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual struggle. Ethical consequences are always worrying Hawthorne's soul; but Poe did not know that there were any ethics.
There are literary evolutionists who, in their whim of seeing in every original writer a copy of some predecessor, have declared that Hawthorne is derived from Tieck, and Poe from Hoffmann, just as Dickens modelled himself on Smollett and Thackeray followed in the footsteps of Fielding. In all four cases the pupil surpassed the master,—if haply Tieck and Hoffmann can be considered as even remotely the masters of Hawthorne and Poe. When Coleridge was told that Klopstock was the German Milton, he assented with the dry addendum, "A very German Milton." So is Hoffmann a very German Poe, and Tieck a very German Hawthorne. Of a truth, both Poe and Hawthorne are as American as any one can be. If the adjective American has any meaning at all, it qualifies Poe and Hawthorne. They were American to the core. They both revealed the curious sympathy with Oriental moods of thought which is often an American characteristic, Poe, with his cold logic and his mathematical analysis, and Hawthorne, with his introspective conscience and his love of the subtile and the invisible, are representative of phases of American character not to be mistaken by any one who has given thought to the influence of nationality.
As to which of the two was the greater, discussion is idle, but that Hawthorne was the finer genius few would deny. Poe, as cunning an artificer of goldsmith's work and as adroit in its vending as was ever M. Josse, declared that "Hawthorne's distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality,—a trait which in the literature of fiction is positively worth all the rest." But the moral basis of Hawthorne's work, which had flowered in the crevices and crannies of New-England Puritanism, Poe did not concern himself with. In Poe's hands the story of "The Ambitious Guest" might have thrilled us with a more powerful horror, but it would have lacked the ethical beauty which Hawthorne gave it and which makes it significant beyond a mere feat of verbal legerdemain. And the subtile simplicity of "The Great Stone Face" is as far from Poe as the pathetic irony of "The Ambitious Guest." In all his most daring fantasies Hawthorne is natural, and, though he may project his vision far beyond the boundaries of fact, nowhere does he violate the laws of nature. He had at all times a wholesome simplicity, and he never showed any trace of the morbid taint which characterizes nearly all Poe's work. Hawthorne, one may venture to say, had the broad sanity of genius, while we should understand any one who might declare that Poe had mental disease raised to the n'th.
Although it may be doubted whether the fiery and tumultuous rush of a volcano, which may be taken to typify Poe, is as powerful or as impressive in the end as the calm and inevitable progression of a glacier, to which, for the purposes of this comparison only, we may liken Hawthorne, yet the effect and influence of Poe's work are indisputable. One might hazard the assertion that in all Latin countries he is the best known of American authors. Certainly no American writer has been as widely accepted in France. Nothing better of its kind has ever been done than "The Pit and the Pendulum," or than "The Fall of the House of Usher," which Mr. Stoddard has compared recently with Browning's "Childe Rolande to the Dark Tower came" for its power of suggesting intellectual desolation. Nothing better of its kind has ever been done than "The Gold-Bug," or than "The Purloined Letter," or than "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." This last, indeed, is a story of marvellous skill: it was the first of its kind, and to this day it remains a model, not only unsurpassed, but unapproachable. It was the first of detective-stories, and it has had thousands of imitations and no rival. The originality, the ingenuity, the verisimilitude of this tale and of its fellows are beyond all praise. Poe had a faculty which one may call imaginative ratiocination to a decree beyond all other writers of fiction. He did not at all times keep up to the high level, in one style, of "The Fall of the House of Usher," and in another, of "The Murders in the Hue Morgue;" and it was not to be expected that he should, Only too often did he sink to the grade of the ordinary "Tale from 'Blackwood,'" which he himself satirized in his usual savage vein of humor. Yet even in his flimsiest and most tawdry tales we see the truth of Mr. Lowell's assertion that Poe had "two of the prime qualities of genius,—a faculty of vigorous yet minute analysis, and a wonderful fecundity of imagination." Mr. Lowell said also that Poe combined "in a very remarkable manner two faculties which are seldom found united,—a power of influencing the mind of the reader by the impalpable shadows of mystery, and a minuteness of detail which does not leave a pin or a button unnoticed. Both are, in truth, the natural results of the predominating quality of his mind, to which we have before alluded,—analysis." In Poe's hands, however, the enumeration of pins and buttons, the exact imitation of the prosaic facts of humdrum life in this workaday world, is not an end, but a means only, whereby he constructs and intensifies the shadow of mystery which broods over the things thus realistically portrayed.
With the recollection that it is more than half a century since Hawthorne and Poe wrote their best Short-stories, it is not a little comic to see now and again in American newspapers a rash assertion that "American literature has hitherto been deficient in good Short-stories," or the reckless declaration that "the art of writing Short-stories has not hitherto been cultivated in the United States." Nothing could be more inexact than these statements. Almost as soon as America began to have any literature at all it had good Short-stories. It is quite within ten, or at the most twenty, years that the American novel has come to the front and forced the acknowledgment of its equality with the English novel and the French novel; but for fifty years the American Short-story has had a supremacy which any competent critic could not but acknowledge. Indeed, the present excellence of the American novel is due in great measure to the Short-story; for nearly every one of the American novelists whose works are now read by the whole English-speaking race began as a writer of Short-stories. Although as a form of fiction the Short-story is not inferior to the Novel, and although it is not easier, all things considered, yet its brevity makes its composition simpler for the 'prentice hand. Though the Short-stories of the beginner may not be good, yet in the writing of Short-stories he shall learn how to tell a story, he shall discover by experience the elements of the art of fiction more readily and, above all, more quickly than if he had begun on a long and exhausting novel. The physical strain of writing a full-sized novel is far greater than the reader can well imagine. To this strain the beginner in fiction may gradually accustom himself by the composition of Short stories.
Here, if the digression may be pardoned, occasion serves to say that if our writers of plays had the same chance that our writers of novels have, we might now have a school of American dramatists of which we should be as proud as of our school of American novelists. In dramatic composition, the equivalent of the Short-story is the one-act play, be it drama or comedy or comedietta or farce. As the novelists have learned their trade by the writing of Short-stories, so the dramatists might learn their trade, far more difficult as it is and more complicated, by the writing of one-act plays. But, while the magazines of the United States are hungry for good Short-stories, and sift carefully all that are sent to them, in the hope of happening on a treasure, the theatres of the United States are closed to one-act plays, and the dramatist is denied the opportunity of making a humble and tentative beginning. The conditions of the theatre are such that there is little hope of a change for the better in this respect,—more's the pity. The manager has a tradition that a "broken bill," a programme containing more than one play, is a confession of weakness, and he prefers, so far as possible, to keep his weakness concealed.
When we read the roll of American novelists, we see that nearly all of them began as writers of Short-stories. Some of them, Mr. Bret Harte, for instance, and Mr. Edward Everett Hale, never got any farther, or, at least, if they wrote novels, their novels did not receive the full artistic appreciation and popular approval bestowed on their Short-stories. Even Mr. Cable's "Grandissimes" has not made his readers forget his "Jean-ah Poquelin," nor has Mr. Aldrich's "Queen of Sheba," charming as she was, driven from our memory his "Margery Daw," as delightful and as captivating as that other non-existent heroine, Mr. Austin Dobson's "Dorothy." Mrs. Burnett put forth one volume of Short-stories and Miss Woolson two before they attempted the more sustained flight of the full-fledged Novel. The same may be said of Miss Jewett, of Mr. Craddock, and of Mr. Boyesen. Mr. Bishop and Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Julian Hawthorne wrote Short-stories before they wrote novels. Mr. Henry James has never gathered into a book from the back-numbers of magazines the half of his earlier efforts.
In these references to the American magazine I believe I have suggested the real reason of the superiority of the American Short-stories over the English. It is not only that the eye of patriotism may detect more fantasy, more humor, a finer feeling for art, in these younger United States, but there is a more emphatic and material reason for the American proficiency. There is in the United States a demand for Short-stories which does not exist in Great Britain, or at any rate not in the same degree. The Short-story is of very great importance to the American magazine. But in the British magazine the serial Novel is the one thing of consequence, and all else is termed "padding." In England the writer of three-volume Novels is the best paid of literary laborers. So in England whoever has the gift of story-telling is strongly tempted not to essay the difficult art of writing Short-stories, for which he will receive only an inadequate reward; and he is as strongly tempted to write a long story which may serve first as a serial and afterward as a three-volume Novel. The result of this temptation is seen in the fact that there is not a single English novelist whose reputation has been materially assisted by the Short-stories he has written. More than once in the United States a single Short-story has made a man known, but in Great Britain such an event is wellnigh impossible. The disastrous effect on narrative art of the desire to distend every subject to the three-volume limit has been dwelt on unceasingly by English critics.
The three-volume system is peculiar to Great Britain: it does not obtain either in France or the United States. As a consequence, the French and American writer of fiction is left free to treat his subject at the length it demands,—no more and no less. It is pleasant to note that there are signs of the beginning of the break-up of the system even in England; and the protests of the chief English critics against it are loud and frequent. It is responsible in great measure for the invention and perfection of the British machine for making English Novels, of which Mr. Warner told us in his entertaining essay on fiction. We all know the work of this machine, and we all recognize the trade-mark it imprints in the corner. But Mr. Warner failed to tell us, what nevertheless is a fact, that this British machine can be geared down so as to turn out the English short story. Now, the English short story, as the machine makes it and as we see it in most English magazines, is only a little English Novel, or an incident or episode from an English Novel. It is thus the exact artistic opposite of the American Short-story, of which, as we have seen, the chief characteristics are originality, ingenuity, compression, and, not infrequently, a touch of fantasy. It is not, of course, that the good and genuine Short-story is not written in England now and then,—for if I were to make any such assertion some of the best work of Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, of Mr. Walter Besant, and of Mr. Anstey would rise up to contradict me: it is merely that it is an accidental growth, and not a staple of production. As a rule, in England the artist in fiction does not care to hide his light under a bushel, and he puts his best work where it will be seen of all men,—that is to say, not in a Short-story. So it happens that the most of the brief tales in the English magazines are not true Short-stories at all, and that they belong to a lower form of the art of fiction, in the department with the amplified anecdote. It is the three-volume Novel which has killed the Short-story in England.
Certain of the remarks in the present paper the writer put forth first anonymously some months ago in the columns of an English weekly review. To his intense surprise, they were controverted in a leading American weekly review. The critic began by assuming that the writer had said that Americans preferred Short-stories to Novels. What had really been said was that there was a steady demand for Short-stories in American magazines, whereas in England the demand was rather for serial Novels. "In the first place," said the critic, "Americans do not prefer Short-stories, as is shown by the enormous number of British Novels circulated among us; and in the second place, tales of the quiet, domestic kind, which form the staple of periodicals like 'All the Year Round' and 'Chambers's Journal,' have here thousands of readers where native productions, however clever and original, have only hundreds, since the former are reprinted by the country papers and in the Sunday editions of city papers as rapidly and as regularly as they are produced at home." Now, the answer to this is simply that these English Novels and English stories are reprinted widely in the United States, not because the American people prefer them to anything else, but because, owing to the absence of international copyright, they cost nothing. That the American people prefer to read American stories when they can get them is shown by the enormous circulation of the periodicals which make a specialty of American fiction.
I find I have left myself little space to speak of the Short-story as it exists in other literatures than those of Great Britain and the United States, The conditions which have killed the Short-story in England do not obtain elsewhere; and elsewhere there are not a few good writers of Short-stories. Tourgeneff, Bjoernsen, Sacher-Masoch, Freytag, Lindau, are the names which one recalls at once and without effort as masters in the art and mystery of the Short-story. Tourgeneff's Short-stories, in particular, it would be difficult to commend too warmly. But it is in France that the Short-story flourishes most abundantly. In France the conditions are not unlike those in the United States; and, although there are few French magazines, there are many Parisian newspapers of a wide hospitality to literature. The demand for the Short-story has called forth an abundant supply. Among the writers of the last generation who excelled in the conte—which is almost the exact French equivalent for Short-story, as nouvelle may be taken to indicate the story which is merely short, the episode, the incident, the amplified anecdote—were Alfred de Musset, Theophile Gautier, and Prosper Merimee. The best work of Merimee has never been surpassed. As compression was with him almost a mania, as, indeed, it was with his friend Tourgeneff, he seemed born on purpose to write Short-stories. Tourgeneff carried his desire for conciseness so far that he seems always to be experimenting to see how much of his story he may leave out. One of the foremost among the living writers of contes is M. Edmond About, whose exquisite humor is known to all readers of "The Man with the Broken Ear,"—a Short-story in conception, though unduly extended in execution. Few of the charming contes of M. Alphonse Daudet, or of the earlier Short-stories of M. Emile Zola, have been translated into English; and the poetic tales of M. Francois Coppee are likewise neglected in this country. "The Abbe Constantin" of M. Ludovic Halevy has been read by many, but the Gallic satire of his more Parisian Short-stories has been neglected, perhaps wisely, in spite of their broad humor and their sharp wit. In the contes of M. Guy de Maupassant there is a manly vigor, pushed at times to excess; and in the very singular collection of stories which M. Jean Richepin has called the "Morts Bizarres" we find a modern continuation of the Poe tradition, always more potent in France than elsewhere. I have given this list of French writers of Short-stories merely as evidence that the art flourishes in France as well as in the United States, and not at all with the view of recommending the fair readers of this essaylet to send at once for the works of these French writers, which are not always—indeed, one may say not often—in exact accordance with the conventionalities of Anglo-Saxon propriety. The Short-story should not be void or without form, but its form may be whatever the author please. He has an absolute liberty of choice. It may be a personal narrative, like Poe's "Descent into the Maelstrom" or Hale's "My Double, and How he Undid me;" it may be impersonal, like Mr. F.B. Perkins's "Devil-Puzzlers" or Colonel De Forest's "Brigade Commander;" it may be a conundrum, like Mr. Stockton's insoluble query, "The Lady or the Tiger?" it may be "A Bundle of Letters," like Mr. James's story, or "A Letter and a Paragraph," like Mr. Bunner's; it may be a medley of letters and telegrams and narrative, like Mr. Aldrich's "Margery Daw;" it may be cast in any one of these forms, or in a combination of all of them, or in a wholly new form, if haply such may yet be found by diligent search. Whatever its form, it should have symmetry of design. If it have also wit or humor, pathos or poetry, and especially a distinct and unmistakable flavor of originality, so much the better. But the chief requisites are compression, originality, ingenuity, and now and again a touch of fantasy. Sometimes we may detect in a writer of Short-stories a tendency toward the over-elaboration of ingenuity, toward the exhibition of ingenuity for its own sake, as in a Chinese puzzle. But mere cleverness is incompatible with greatness, and to commend a writer as "very clever" is not to give him high praise. From this fault of super-subtilty women are free for the most part. They are more likely than men to rely on broad human emotion, and their tendency in error is toward the morbid analysis of a high-strung moral situation.
* * * * *
GENERAL GRANT AT FRANKFORT.
The extraordinary honors paid to General Grant in England created a profound impression all over Europe. No other American, and, indeed, few Europeans, had ever received such honors abroad; and what made the case still more impressive and exceptional was the fact that this great distinction was paid to no potentate or prince of the blood, but to a simple private citizen, holding no rank or official position.
As soon as it was known that General Grant intended to travel on the Continent, he was invited to visit Frankfort-on-the-Main. The invitation was extended by the American residents of that city, and was accepted. A joint meeting of Americans and Frankfort burghers was then held, and a committee was appointed, half Germans and half Americans, to make arrangements for the proposed reception and entertainment of General Grant and his party. Mr. Henry Seligman, an American banker of Frankfort, and the writer of this, were appointed by this committee to intercept the distinguished tourist on his journey up the Rhine and conduct him to the city.
It was on a charming summer morning that we quitted Frankfort on this mission. General Grant was at Bingen, where he had arrived the evening before from Cologne. He was accompanied by Mrs. Grant, his son Jesse Grant, and General Adam Badeau, then Consul-General at London. Their arrival at Bingen had been so unostentatious that their presence in the town was scarcely known outside of the hotel in which they had taken rooms. Their departure was alike unnoticed.
Our train drew up at Bingen just as a special Schnellzug with the Emperor of Germany on board swept by. Proceeding at once to the hotel, we learned that General Grant had already left for Ruedesheim, but had possibly not yet crossed the river. We hastened to the landing, and there found him and his party seated under some linden-trees, waiting for the ferry. I had a package of letters for the general which had come to my care, and which, after mutual introductions, I delivered to him at once. Tearing open and throwing away the envelopes, General Grant hastily inspected the letters and passed them to General Badeau. By this time the Ruedesheim steamer had arrived, and we all went on board. In a moment more the boat pushed off and turned its course up the stately river. The rippling waters sparkled in the sunshine, and all the vine-clad hills were dressed in summer beauty. On the right, dropping behind us, was Bingen, famous in legend and in song, and on the left, in the foreground, appeared the curious spires and roofs of Ruedesheim. The scene was an ideal tableau, such as Byron describes, of the
Wide and winding Rhine, Whose breast of waters broadly swells Between the banks which bear the vine, And hills all rich with blossom'd trees, And fields which promise corn and wine, And scattered cities crowning these, Whose far white walls along them shine.
From Ruedesheim to Wiesbaden the railway follows the Rhine as far as Castel, at the mouth of the Main, opposite Mayence. A short distance above Ruedesheim the Taunus bluffs sweep back from the river, and the garden of the Rhine valley opens out right and left. This is the heart of the wine-growing region, and within it lie many of the most celebrated vineyards in the world. The valley is dotted with villages whose names are famous in the Rhine-wine nomenclature, and upon a bold promontory, commanding all, the queen of the German vintage rules from the Johannisberg Schloss.
While our train bowled along, and we were discussing these various objects of interest, General Badeau discovered by accident among the letters which General Grant had given him one which had not been opened.
"The address is in the handwriting of General Sherman," said Badeau.
"Yes," said General Grant, glancing at the superscription, "that is from Sherman. Read it."
Accordingly, General Badeau read the letter aloud, and the whole company was deeply impressed with the cordiality of its friendly expressions. In heartiest terms the letter felicitated General Grant upon the splendid receptions which had been given him, and the merited appreciation awarded him in the Old World. The letter was that of an admiring and devoted friend rather than that of a military colleague.
"General Sherman seems to have a strong personal regard for you, general," remarked one of the party.
"Yes," responded General Grant, "there has always been the best of feeling between Sherman and myself, although attempts have not been wanting to make it appear otherwise."
"I have noticed such attempts," replied the person addressed, "but for my part I have never needed any proof that they were wholly uncalled-for and impertinent.
"Possibly you have never heard, general," continued the speaker, "how heartily General Sherman rejoiced over your conquest and capture of Lee's army. He was particularly gratified that he had not been obliged to make any movement that would have given a pretext for saying that your success was due in part to him. To those about him he exclaimed, in his energetic way,—
"'I knew Grant would do it, for I knew the man. And I'm glad that he accomplished it without my help. Nobody can say now that I have divided with him the credit of this success. He has deserved it all, he has gained it all, and I'm glad that he will have it all.'"
About noon the party arrived at Wiesbaden, where nobody seemed to expect them except the people at the hotel where General Grant's courier had engaged rooms. After dinner Mr. Seligman desired to tender a drive to the general and Mrs. Grant, but they had disappeared. After a short search, they were found sitting together alone in one of the arboreal retreats of the Kurgarten. The general remarked that it was his custom when he visited a city to explore it on foot, and that in this way he had already made himself tolerably familiar, he thought, with the general plan and situation of Wiesbaden. Mr. Seligman's invitation was readily accepted, however, and half an hour later the party set out, in a carriage, for the Russian Chapel.
Wiesbaden is one of the most ancient watering-places on the Continent. It was a Roman military station, and upon the Heidenberg—a neighboring eminence—are seen the traces of a Roman fortress. The remains of Roman baths and a temple have also been found there, and its waters are mentioned by Pliny. At a later period the Carlovingian monarchs established at Wiesbaden an imperial residence. The city lies under the southern slope of the Taunus Mountains, the rocky recesses of which conceal the mysteries of its thermal springs. The hilly country for miles around abounds in charming pleasure-grounds, drives, and promenades. The gilded palaces which were formerly used as fashionable gambling-houses are now devoted to the social and musical recreation of visitors who come to take the waters.
The drive to the Russian Chapel ascends the Taunus Mountain by a winding road, amidst stately, well-kept forests of beech and chestnut. The chapel, whose gilded domes can be seen from afar, stands upon one of the most salient mountain-spurs, and overlooks the country as far as Mayence and the Odenwald. It was erected by the Duke of Nassau as a memorial to his deceased first wife, who was a beautiful young Russian princess. Upon her tomb, which adorns the interior, her life-size effigy reclines, in pure white marble.
General Grant lingered for some time at this place, and from the promontory on which the chapel stands gazed with deep interest over the far-reaching historic scenes of the Rhine valley.
Next morning the general and his party arrived at Frankfort, where they were met by the reception-committee. Accompanied by this committee, the party visited the ancient Roemer, within whose venerable walls for many centuries the German emperors were chosen; then the quaint and venerated mansion in which Goethe was born; then the old cathedral, wherein a score or more of German potentates were crowned; and then, in succession, the poet Boerne's birthplace, the Judengasse, the original home of the Rothschilds, the Ariadneum (named from Daennecker's marble group of Ariadne and the lioness), the Art Museum, the Goethe and Schiller monuments, and the beautiful sylvan resort for popular recreation, known as "The Wald." General Grant visited also, by invitation, some of the great wine-cellars of Frankfort, and was conducted through the immense crypts of Henninger's brewery, which is one of the largest establishments of the kind on the Continent. As he was about to leave Henninger's, he was requested to write his name in the visitors' register. The record was divided into spaces entitled, respectively, "name," "residence," and "occupation." General Grant promptly put down his name and place of residence, but when he came to the "occupation" column he hesitated. "What shall I write here?" he inquired: "loafer?"
This remark was made in jest, and yet not without a certain sadness of tone and manner. Undoubtedly, General Grant felt keenly the irksomeness of having nothing particular to do. After the immense strain which had been put upon him for twelve successive years, it was not easy for him to reconcile himself, in the prime of his manhood and the full maturity of his powers, to being a mere spectator of the affairs of men. Activity had become a second nature to him, and idleness was simply intolerable. With much leisure on his hands, he first sought rest and recreation, and then occupation. However unfortunately his business undertakings resulted, they were, after all, but the outcome of a natural and laudable desire to be usefully employed.
The banquet given to General Grant by the citizens and resident Americans of Frankfort was a superb affair. It took place in the Palmengarten, which is, above any other object, the pride of the charming old "City of the Main." When the Duke of Nassau, an active sympathizer with the beaten party in the Austro-Prussian war, lost his dominions and quitted his chateau at Biebrich, the Frankforters availed themselves of the opportunity to buy the famous collection of plants in his winter-garden, comprising about thirty thousand rare and costly specimens. The joint-stock company by which this purchase was made received from the city a donation of twenty acres of land, and added thereto, from its own funds, ten acres more.
The company also obtained, partly by donation, five large palm-trees, and from these the Palmengarten takes its name. For the conservation of the botanical collection a mammoth structure was erected of glass and iron, and for the entertainment of visitors a commodious and elegant music- and dining-hall was added. The grounds were adorned with fountains, lakes, parterres, and promenades, and were equipped with every facility for family and popular recreation, not overlooking, by any means, the amusement of the children. In all Europe there is not a lovelier spot than this. To keep it in order, educated gardeners are employed, regularly salaried; and in the arrangement of the plants such combinations of color and form are produced as an artist might envy. Twice daily a concert is given by a large, well-trained orchestra in the music-hall, or, when the weather is propitious, in a pavilion in the garden. The concert-hall looks through a glass partition directly into the great conservatory, which, thus viewed, presents a scene of tropical enchantment. The palm-trees occupy conspicuous positions amidst skilfully-grouped dracaenas, ferns, azaleas, rhododendrons, passifloras, and a myriad of other curious vegetable productions of the equatorial world. The ground is carpeted with light-green moss, smooth and soft as velvet, and, as an appropriate centre-piece to the whole, is seen the silvery flash of a falling cataract.
The banquet was held in the music-hall, where General Grant was given a seat immediately fronting the scene just described. The conservatory and hall were brilliantly illuminated, the tables were resplendent with silver and floral decorations, and upon the walls of the banquet-chamber the emblems of the great Republic and the great Empire were suggestively displayed side by side. Ladies were admitted to the galleries, but gentlemen only were seated at the tables, and among the guests were many of the most prominent bankers and merchants of Germany, including capitalists who had been the first in Europe to invest in the war-loans offered by our government.
The dinner lasted three hours. Between the courses various toasts were drunk, a venerable burgher of Frankfort proposing the health of General Grant, to which the general responded in a brief, sensible, and somewhat humorous speech, which was exceedingly well received. Nothing could have been more appropriate, modest, and fitting.
Outside the building the scene was scarcely less animated or interesting than within. By the aid of colored lights and other pyrotechnic contrivances the garden was made brilliant and gay as an Arabian Nights dream. The air was perfumed with the aroma of flowers and moistened by the delirious play of fountains. Thousands of people, elegantly dressed, were seated on the out-door terraces, enjoying the fireworks and music, and in the promenades other thousands were moving, producing a kaleidoscopic combination of motion and color. For some time after the banquet General Grant sat upon the veranda of the music-hall, conversing with friends and observing this novel scene. His presence excited no rude curiosity or boisterous enthusiasm, but was none the less honored by more subdued and decorous demonstrations of respect.
The next day General Grant drove to Homburg, fifteen miles, and thence four miles farther to Saalburg, the site of an ancient Roman fortification on the Taunus Mountains. It was one of a series of defensive stations covering the frontier of the Roman empire and extending from the Rhine to the Danube. The exhumations at this fortified camp, first attempted within a recent period, have disclosed the most completely preserved Roman castramentation yet found in Germany. The castellum is a rectangle, four hundred and sixty-five by seven hundred and four feet, and is surrounded by two deep ditches and by high parapets. Within this enclosure the praetorium, or residence of the commandant, one hundred and thirty-two by one hundred and fifty-three feet, has been distinctly traced by its stone foundations. Stones marked with Roman characters yet remain in their places, designating the camps of the different legions. This fort is mentioned by Tacitus, and was one of the principal bulwarks of the Roman conquest in Germany against the tribes which hovered along its northern frontier.
The excavations were still in progress at the time of General Grant's visit, and on that very occasion some interesting relics were unearthed. Mrs. Grant was presented with a ring and some pieces of ancient pottery which were removed in her presence from the places where they had lain embedded in the earth for the last eighteen hundred years.
Near the fort was discovered, a few years ago, the cemetery where the ashes of the deceased Romans of the garrison were interred. Some of the graves which had never before been disturbed were opened in General Grant's presence, in order that he might see with his own eyes what they contained and in what manner their contents were deposited. From each grave a small urn was taken, containing the ashes of one cremated human body, and upon the mouth of the urn was found, in each instance, a Roman obolus, which had been deposited there to pay the ferriage of the soul of the departed over the Stygian river. General Grant was presented with some of these coins as mementos of his visit.
Upon his return to Homburg the ensuing evening, the general was banqueted by a party of Americans, and a splendid illumination of the Kurgarten was given in his honor. The next day he returned to Frankfort, and the next departed by rail for Heidelberg and Switzerland.
ALFRED E. LEE.
* * * * *
TURTLING ON THE OUTER REEF.
"What's that astern, Sandy?" The old darky, who had been gently soothed into slumber by the friction of the main sheet that served as a pillow, raised his grizzly head, gave one look in the direction indicated, and sprang to his feet, shouting wildly, "On deck der! man yo' wedder fo' an' main, lee clew garnets an' buntlines, topsail halyards an' down-hauls, jib down-haul, let go an' haul!" his voice fairly rising in a shriek that, with the rattling of the jib as it came down, might have been heard a mile away.
The occasion of all this turmoil was a pillar of inky blackness, which, when observed by the writer, who had the tiller, seemed fifty feet high and about ten feet wide. Now it was a hundred feet wide, and growing with ominous speed. The easy quarter breeze that had been fanning us along mysteriously crept away, as if awed by the strange apparition. The laughing gulls that had hovered above the water rose high in air, uttering piercing cries while standing out in vivid silvery brightness against the wall of night. The sea assumed a bright metallic tint and rose and fell in uneasy measure, while the booming of the breakers on the distant reef, and the swash of the waves as our craft rolled to and fro, were painfully distinct.
"Cotch suthin'!" shouted Sandy, taking a round turn about the tiller with the slack end of the dingy's painter. Delicate furrows for a moment cut their way here and there over the glassy surface, and then with a roar the black squall was upon us, keeling our craft almost upon her beam-ends. The water seemed torn from its bed, flung by some unseen power high into the air, and borne hissing and roaring away. It cut and lashed our faces as we crouched flat upon the deck, clinging where we could. The sea rose as if by magic, and, with the wind astern, was driving us upon the reef which we had been encircling in search of a harbor. After ten minutes of the wild race with the squall, which now was as quickly lighting up, we heard the roar of the breakers near at hand.
"Put her up in de win', or we'se gone, sho'!" shrieked young Rastus, who had crawled aft.
"Gone where?" cried Sandy, his grim visage, dripping with water, now visible braced against the tiller.
Rastus's white eyeballs, standing out in terror, rolled ominously up and then down in answer, leaving a doubt to be inferred.
"How old is yo', son?" asked the old man fiercely, bracing hard as the craft yawed heavily.
"I ain't gwine to git any older, dat's sho'," replied the boy.
"W'y, yo' poor coon," retorted Sandy. "ef yu'se ole as Jehos'phat, I'se wu'ked disher reef fo' yu'se bo'n."
So quickly had the squall passed that its power was now well over, and the lighting up showed us to be only a few hundred yards from the mass of breakers pounding upon the outer reef.
"Yo' 'spec' to jump dat reef?" asked Rastus, fairly shaking with fear.
"Start dat jib," thundered the old man. "Give her de bonnet an' de ma'nsail up to dat fastest patch."
The boys jumped to the halyards, and the boat sprang forward with renewed speed, careening over until she was half under, and slightly hauling on the wind.
"Ef I kin keep her offen de reef twill hit lightens up, we'se all right," whispered Sandy; and suddenly, looking after the retreating cloud, out of which in the gloom now appeared the tops of the mangrove-trees, he shouted exultantly, "Give her de jib," and, with a lunge at the tiller, the vessel fell away and dashed onward at the wall of rock and foam.
"For de Lawd's sake, yo' ain't gwine to jump dat reef, is yo'?" cried Rastus, in an agony of terror.
But it was too late to question the old man's intentions: we were already in the back swash of the breakers. "Cotch suthin!" he shouted again, as our craft on the crest of a mighty roller shot onward to seeming destruction.
On either side the bare coral rock was visible, as the waves gathered for another onward rush; yet we did not strike. A second roller raised us high in air, and, hurled forward with the speed of the wind, we were buried in the seething foam; but the next moment our craft shook off the sea, and we glided away on the smooth waters of the inner reef. A few minutes later the sun was out again, and one of the strangest phases of life on the reef had come and gone.
"I 'spec' dat was a narrer 'scape," said old Sandy, "but I tuk de only chance. We was boun' to strike somewhere, an' de squall jes' got off in time for me to take bearin's of disher five-foot channel; an', it's a fac', I'se been fru a heap o' times, but dat was de wustest, sho' 'nuff."
From Sandy's orders given at the approach of the squall, the reader might possibly infer that the sable mariner was commander of a ninety-gun frigate, while in point of fact he was only skipper of a very disreputable fishing-smack. But he had been nearly all his life a "boy" on a government vessel, and now, having retired, from either habit or fancy he still kept up the man-of-war discipline, and when under more than ordinary excitement roared out a flood of orders that savored of both navy and merchant marine, uttering them with all the enjoyment of a ranking officer on his own quarter-deck. They were, however, well understood by Sandy's sons, who constituted the port and starboard watches of the smack, and who were in constant awe of the old man-of-war's-man, who did not hesitate to enforce his orders with any missile that came handy.
"Dis ship's on a war-footin', dat's sho'," he said, after one of these characteristic scenes, and then, in a stage whisper, "so's de crew. Dey's bofe cou'tin' de same gal in Key Wes'."
The Bull Pup, for such was her name, kept up her war-footing as long as we knew her, and the dignity invested in her hulk, which had a strong predisposition toward bilge, was, to say the least, extraordinary. Never was better craft for the purpose; and during a long cruise among the small keys that form the extreme end of the Florida peninsula, she always showed a dogged determination, as indicated by her name, to surmount all difficulties.
We had sailed down during the night from Marquesas across the Rebecca shoals, and when caught by the squall were off Bush Key, one of the most easterly of the group, which enjoys the distinction of possessing Dry Tortugas,—why "dry" we know not. Our extraordinary entrance, almost instantaneous, from rough to comparatively smooth water can only be explained by a casual reference to the great reef. The group of keys—Loggerhead, Bird, Long, Middle, East, North, Bush, Sand, and Garden—are all within seven miles of each other, Garden, Bird, Bush, and Long being in close proximity,—within swimming-distance, if the swimmer be not nervous in regard to sharks. From these central keys a great sandy shoal spreads away on all sides, cut up, however, by several deep channels admitting vessels of the largest draught. To the east and south the reef is two miles wide and rarely over four feet deep, covered at intervals with great fields of branch corals, while here and there clusters of enormous heads of astrea, porites, etc., have collected. The edge of the reef is formed of dead coral rock, often beaten up by the waves into a continuous wall several miles in extent, and a few steps beyond this the water deepens quickly, until at the length of a vessel from it no bottom is visible.
The one opening in this barrier on the side of our approach, so formidable in a gale, is the passage through which the skill of Sandy had safely brought us, being, as its name explains, five feet deep and not many more in width, and used only at odd times by the few pilots and fishermen of the reef who know the secret of its approach. But how old Sandy found it when completely covered by the waves, with only the tops of certain trees to steer by, is one of the mysteries.
Our object in visiting this desolate part of the country was to capture turtles. Here is the ground of the green and loggerhead turtles, and, according to Sandy, the hawksbill, from which the shell of commerce is taken, is also occasionally found.
The squall was now a fast-disappearing pillar in the west. The anchor-chain ran merrily out, and we rounded to in the narrow harbor of Garden Key. The boys manned the pump, while Sandy and the writer pulled for the shore, and the dingy soon crunched into the white, sandy beach of the coral island which during the war was the Botany Bay of America. Surely Dry Tortugas has been maligned: instead of dry we find it very wet, a key of sand thirteen acres in extent, hardly one foot above the tide, and entirely occupied by probably the largest brick fort in the world.
Fort Jefferson was commenced long before the war, and is now a monument of the ineffectual military methods of thirty years ago. The work is a six-sided, two-tiered fort of majestic proportions, its faces pierced with over five hundred guns. How many millions of dollars have been expended in its erection it would be difficult to conjecture. The question why so important a work was built here is often asked, and we have heard the answer given that it was encouraged by the Key West slave-owners, through their representatives, to give employment to their slaves, who were engaged as laborers by the government. Garden Key, however, is the key of the gulf, and, as a prospective coaling-station in case of war, it was undoubtedly a spot to be held at all odds, and at the outbreak of the war it formed a convenient spot for the confinement of certain prisoners, as many as three thousand being kept there at one time. Now the great fort figures as a picture of desolation and is slowly falling to decay, deserted save by the memories of the great conflict, a lighthouse-keeper, and a guard.
Once within the great enclosure, the reason for its having been called Garden Key becomes apparent. The neighboring islands are covered with prickly pear, mangroves, and bay-cedars, while here clumps of cocoanuts rear their graceful forms, their long rustling leaves, which convey to the distant listener the cooling impression of falling rain, reaching high over the top of the fort. On the west side grows a small grove of bananas, while against the cottage walls luxuriant vines climb in wild confusion. What was once the parade-ground is covered by a thick growth of wiry grass, in which gopher- and crab-holes lay traps for the unwary. In fact, far from being the forbidding spot it has been painted, Dry Tortugas seemed to us a veritable garden in the path of the great Gulf Stream.
On the afternoon of our arrival the Bull Pup was got under way and headed through a circuitous channel to East Key, off which we came to anchor about dusk. Blankets and other articles indispensable for a night on the beach were carried ashore, and camp formed on the edge of the bay-cedars. East Key comprises about thirty acres of sand, thickly covered with a low growth of bay-cedar, in which the rude nests of the noddy are found, while here and there in the undergrowth are great patches of cactus or prickly pear, affording lurking-places for innumerable purple-backed crabs of ferocious mien.
"Turklin'," said old Sandy, as we lay stretched on the sand, waiting for the moon, "is right in de line o' hard wu'k, an' I 'spec's yo' chillun is a-hankerin' after yo' mudder."
The two children, both hard on thirty, indignantly denied that they had anything but an extreme fondness for labor.
"Wu'k!" said old Sandy, appealing to us and reaching for a piece of driftwood to fling at his progeny in case of necessity; "w'y, de coons of disher generation don' know de meanin' of de word, da's a fac'. How is it dat yo' don' see no mo' bandy chillun roun' now? Kase dey mammies don' hev to wu'k. Dey ain't got no call to put de chilluns down. W'y, chile, I pick cotton 'fore I leave de bre's', da's a fac'. De niggers is gittin' too sumpchus fo' dar place. Dey try to make outen dey got sense like white folks. Yo' Rastus, yo'se deacon in de Key Wes' Fustest Bethel, ain't yo'?"
"'Deed I is," replied that person.
"An' Piffney too, I reckon," continued Sandy.
"Yas, sah," answered Piffney.
"Wal," said the old man, turning to us again, "dere it is. Chuck full o' 'ligion, but w'en dey git in de tight hole like de five-foot dey ain't got no faith. Old-time l'arnin' say 'tain't no use buckin' 'genst de debble less yo' full o' faith. All de old-time coons knows dey's coons, but dese yere free-born darkies got to be white or nuthin'. Yander," nodding his head toward Key West, "a couple of dese yere black Conchs drap in on me an' de ole woman, an' say, 'Uncle Sandy, we'se 'lected yo' hon'ry member of de Anex Debatin' Soci'ty of de Young Men's Chrisshun 'Sociashun of de Fustest Bethel.' I reached fo' a chunk of scantlin', and de ole woman stood by fo' to turn loose de coon, w'en dey hollered out dey wasn't no 'spenses, no fees, no nuthin', only ten bits fo' hevin' yo' name 'graved in de soci'ty's books. So I 'lowed I'd jine; an' d'rectly dey sent me an inwite fo' de fustest meetin', an', fo' de Lawd, mar's, w'at yo' s'pose hit was? Hit read kinder like disher," he continued, with a groan: "'Reswolved, which is de butt end of a goat? Fo' de affermation (de on side), Rastus Pinckey; fo' de neggertive (de off side), Piffney Pinckey.' Yas, sah, I done pay ten bits fo' to hear my chillun 'scuss w'at's done been settled in disher fam'ly 'fore dey's bo'n and sence! All comes o' apin' white folks," said the old man, threatening the debaters with the scantling. "Dey's boun' to git up a 'batin'-soci'ty an' talk all de evening w'en dere was Paublo Johnson standin' up all de evenin' from stiffness he cotched from ole man Geiger's goat, an', hit's a fac', he stan' an' 'scuss de question, tryin' to make outen how de goat kicked him, all kase he's on de on side. But dat's de coon of it."
"Whish!" whispered Rastus, who, with Piffney, had been trying to look supernaturally solemn during this tirade.
"Shoo!" repeated Sandy, leaning forward.
The moon had just cleared the mangrove-tops, and illuminated the silvery sands, casting reflections upon the water, where there was now a perfect calm. Far away was heard the lonely cry of a laughing gull. The gentle break of the waves upon the sands gave out a soft, musical sound, and, as we held our breath, a sharp hiss was heard, seemingly but a few feet away.
"Turkle," hoarsely whispered Sandy; on which announcement we all flattened upon the sand. So bright was the moon that every object was distinctly visible for several hundred feet. A moment later the strange hiss was repeated, and then a small, black object was seen glistening in the moonlight a few feet from shore. Again came the penetrating hiss, and the animal moved several feet farther in, as if cautiously looking around. The moonbeams scintillated for a moment on its shell, as it hesitated on the edge, and then the turtle commenced a clumsy scramble up the beach, lifting itself along in a laborious manner. In ten minutes it had reached the loose sand above tide-water, and kept its course toward us until within thirty feet, when it began to excavate its nest. The operation seemed to be performed mostly with the hind feet, and was accomplished in a remarkably short time, considering the implements used.
All the party were breathing hard, and, as Sandy afterward remarked, "The only reason de turkle didn't go was it t'ought we'se porpuses."
The turtle was allowed to deposit its eggs, and when that operation was supposed to be about over a concerted rush was made. As we rose from the sand, the animal whirled clumsily around and made for the sea. It was an enormous loggerhead, and, with its huge head and powerful flippers, presented a decidedly aggressive appearance. The two boys were first on the field, and, without waiting for the scantling which old Sandy had grasped, seized the creature on the side, between the flippers, and lifted it. But they had barely raised it from the sand when the great fore flipper, being clear, struck the unfortunate Piffney a sounding blow, knocking him against Rastus, who lost his hold, and both went down in confusion. The turtle scrambled ahead, throwing sand like a whirlwind. She seemed to have the faculty of lifting nearly a quart and hurling it with unerring force, and old Sandy's mouth was soon filled with it. Three of us again seized the animal and lifted, while the old darky inserted the scantling as a lever.
"Now, den, clap on yere!" he cried, dodging the sand and flippers.
We lifted, and the monster was fairly on its side, when an ominous creak was heard; the plank broke, and before a new hold could be taken the turtle was but ten feet from the water. Active measures were evidently necessary, and Sandy, taking the board, ran in front of the animal and struck wildly at its head, yelling to us to lift. But the sand was soft, and every lift was attended by a terrific beating to the man who stood near the fore flipper. In vain we struck, lifted, and hauled: the turtle was gaining slowly. Finally, in his war-dance about the animal's head, Sandy stumbled, grasped wildly in the air, and went down backward into the water with a sounding crash, the turtle fairly crawling over his legs, and, despite the boys, who hung on to its hind flippers, it slid into the water and disappeared behind a miniature tidal wave, leaving the Pinckey family—father and sons—in a state of complete demoralization.
"I 'low dat turkle's bo'n free," gasped Sandy, picking himself up and shaking the water from his clothes.
"He ain't gwine to give up dat calapee yet, da's a fac'."
The boys having repaired damages and unloaded the sand received during the melee, and the moon being now well up, the tramp around the key was commenced. The approved method is to walk along as near the water as possible, and on finding a recent track to follow it up on the run, and thus head off the turtle. For a mile or more we strolled along the sands, the boys humming in low tones some old plantation melody, and Sandy occasionally venting his wrath at some real or imaginary fault in the young and rising generation. In the midst of one of these tirades, the boys, who had kept ahead, suddenly darted up toward the bushes. We were soon after them, following up a broad track distinctly marked on the white, sandy beach, and came upon a fine green turtle, which immediately started for the water, making rapid headway. The honor of turning her was reserved for the writer, who, grasping the shell beneath the flippers, essayed the task. Her struggles, the flying flippers, and the giving sand verified Sandy's statement that "turklin' was wu'k," and, after several ineffectual attempts, we were forced to cry for help. The animal was soon upon her back, and proved to be one of the largest size. "Old an' tuff," said Sandy; "but," he added, "hit'll be all the same up No'th."
The boys now proceeeded to cut slits in the flippers and lash them together with rope-yarn, the animal being thus placed hors de combat. The march was again taken up, and soon another track was found, but the eggs had been laid and the game was gone. An attempt to find this nest showed the cunning displayed by these clumsy creatures. Naturally, the nest would be looked for at the end of the incoming track, but at this spot the writer searched fruitlessly, while Sandy looked on in grim satisfaction at his own superior knowledge. Finally he pointed out the nest forty feet away, and the boys soon produced the soft, crispy eggs as proof of his wisdom.
"Ole turtle jes' as cunnin' as coon," said Sandy, as he nipped one of the eggs and transferred its contents to his capacious mouth. And, indeed, so it seemed. Instead of laying directly on reaching the soft sand, the turtle had crawled down the beach and made several holes, finally forming her real nest, smoothing it over so that it could never be distinguished from the rest, and again crawling down the beach before turning toward the water: thus the nest may be looked for anywhere between the up and down tracks.
Having piled the eggs in a convenient place for transportation in the morning, the march was renewed, and before dawn four turtles were turned, with little or no discomfort, all being green and much lighter than the cumbersome loggerhead that first escaped us.
In the morning the turtles were one by one placed in the dingy and taken aboard the smack, when we set sail for Garden Key, arriving in the snug harbor a few hours later. It is a curious fact that the long strip of sand to the westward, called Loggerhead Key, is mostly frequented by the turtle of that name, the green turtle rarely going ashore there, preferring East, Sand, and Middle Keys.
The eggs of the turtle are perfectly oval, with the exception of one or two depressions that may occur at any part. They are hatched probably not by the direct heat of the sun, but by the general temperature of the sand. The instinct of the young is remarkable. We have placed young loggerheads barely a day old in a closed room facing away from the water, and they invariably turned in that direction. During their young life they fall a prey to many predaceous fishes, such as sharks, also to the larger gulls, and only a small percentage of the original brood attains its majority.
Besides turning turtles, which is of course confined strictly to a certain season, the fishermen of the reef resort to another method, called pegging. The instrument of capture is a three-sided peg, often made by cutting off the end of a file. This is attached to a long line and fitted into a copper cap on the end of a long pole, the whole constituting an unbarbed spear. Thus armed, the turtler sculls over the reef, striking the turtle either as it lies asleep on the bottom or as it rises to breathe. The peg is hurled long distances with great skill and accuracy: as soon as it strikes, the pole comes out, and the victim is managed by the line, often towing the dingy for a considerable distance. The peg holds by suction; and, as it only enters the hard shell, and that only half an inch, the animal is not in the least injured for transportation to the North.
Key West is the head quarters of the Florida turtling-trade, and on the north shore of the island, where a shoal reef stretches away, a number of crawls have been from time immemorial used, being merely fences or enclosures in which the animals are penned until the time for shipment. By far the greater number find their way to New York, being packed and crowded, often brutally, in the common fish-cars at the Fulton Market dock in such numbers that many are unable to rise, and consequently drown. The greatest injustice, however, to the long-suffering turtle comes when the miserable animal is propped up before some restaurant door, bearing upon its broad carapace the grim assertion, "To be served this day."
The green or loggerhead turtles are rarely seen north of Cape Florida. The outer reef is their home, their range extending far to the south. Old turtles, like fishes, often have strange companions. They are covered with barnacles of various kinds; several remoras form their body-guard, clinging here and there as if part and parcel of their huge consort. Often small fish allied to the mackerel accompany them, as does also the pilot-fish of the shark. One large loggerhead pegged by the writer had its four flippers bitten off by the latter fishes so close to the shell that it could barely move along, and would undoubtedly soon have succumbed, although it is a common thing to find both green and loggerhead turtles minus parts of their locomotive organs.
The great leather turtle (Sphurgis coriacea), the largest of the tribe, is rarely seen, being seemingly a denizen of the high seas, and more commonly observed in colder waters; though Gosse is authority for the statement that they form their nests on the island of Jamaica. The following account is from the Jamaica "Morning Journal" of April 13, 1846: "The anxiety of the fishermen in this little village was aroused on the 30th of last month by the track of a huge sea-monster, called a trunk-turtle, which came on the sea-beach for the purpose of laying her eggs. A search was made, when a hole in the sand was discovered, about four feet deep and as wide as the mouth of a half-barrel, whence five or six dozen white eggs were taken out; the eggs were of different sizes, the largest the size of a duck's egg. On the morning of the 10th of this month, at half-past five o'clock, she was discovered by Mr. Crow, on the beach, near the spot where she first came up; he gave the alarm, when all the neighbors assembled and got her turned on her back. She took twelve men to haul her about two hundred yards. I went and measured her, and found her dimensions as follows: from head to tail, six feet six inches; from the outer part of her fore fin to the other end" (to the tip of the other?), "nine feet two inches; the circumference round her back and chest, seven feet nine inches; circumference of her neck, three feet three inches; the widest part of her fore fins, eighteen inches; her hind fins, two feet four inches in length. Her back is formed like a round top of a trunk, with small white bumps in straight lines, resembling the nails on a trunk; her color is variegated like the rainbow" (probably the living skin displayed opaline reflections); "there is no shell on her back, but a thick skin, like pump-leather."
Some years since, a gigantic specimen came ashore at Lynn beach, where for a long time it formed an object of the greatest curiosity. It was over eight feet in length, and weighed nearly twenty-two hundred pounds. Instead of definite scales, as in other turtles, it had a shell composed of six plates, which formed longitudinal ridges extending from the head to the tail; the eye-openings were up and down, instead of lengthwise; the bill was hooked; and so many remarkable characteristics did it possess that many believed it to be a strange nondescript, and not a turtle.
It would not be surprising to find that such a creature was descended from a remarkable ancestry; and, following it up, we are led far into the early history of the later geological times, when all life seems to have attained its maximum growth; in fact, it was an era of giants. The map-maker of to-day would be astonished if confronted with the coast-line of that early time. The coast-country from Nova Scotia to Yucatan was all under water, and what are now our plains and prairies was a vast sea, that commenced where Texas now is and extended far to the northwest. Even now the old coast-line can be traced. We follow it along from Arkansas to near Fort Riley, on the Kansas River, then, extending eastward, it traverses Minnesota, extending into the British possessions to the head of Lake Superior, while its western shores are lost under the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Such was this great Cretaceous sea, in whose waters, with hundreds of other strange creatures, lived the ancestor of our leather tortoise. The ancient sea, however, disappeared; the land rose and surrounded it; the great forms died and became buried in the sediment, and finally the water all evaporated, leaving the bottom high and dry,—an ancient grave-yard, that can be visited on horseback or by the cars.
What is now known as the State of Kansas is one of the most favored spots, and here, embedded in the earth, have been found the remains of these huge forms. The bones were first seen projecting from a bluff, and, gradually worked out, proved to be those of a gigantic turtle that must have measured across its back from flipper to flipper fifteen feet, while its entire length must have been twenty feet or more. The name of this giant is the Protostega gigas, a fitting forefather for the great leather turtle of to-day. In some parts of the West the hardened shells of other and smaller turtles are scattered about in great confusion. Nearly all have been turned to stone, and, thus preserved, form a monument of this past time.
A number of years ago some natives in Southern India were engaged in making an excavation under the superintendence of an English officer, when they discovered the remains of one of the largest fossil turtles ever found. They had penetrated the soil for several feet, when their implements struck against a hard substance which was at first supposed to be solid rock, but a bar sank through it, showing it to be either bone or wood. The earth being carefully removed, the remains of a mound-shaped, adobe structure gradually appeared. The natives thought it a house; but the Englishman saw that they had come upon the remains of some gigantic creature of a past age. Every precaution was taken, and finally the shell was fully exposed. The restoration shows it as dome-shaped, nearly fourteen feet long, thirty-three feet in horizontal circumference, and twenty feet in girth in a vertical direction. Its length when alive must have been nearly thirty feet, and its feet were as large as those of a rhinoceros. The capacity of the shell of this ancient boatman was such that six or seven persons could have found protection within it. Its name is Colossochelys atlas, a land-tortoise of the Miocene time of geology. Its nearest representatives of to-day are, if not so large, equally marvellous in their general appearance. They are found in the Galapagos and Mascarene Islands, and some of them are seven feet in length, with high domed and plated shells, presenting the appearance of miniature houses moving along. A single shell would form a perfect covering for a child. There are five distinct species found here, each inhabiting a different island. Chatham Island, the home of some, seems completely honeycombed with black truncated volcano cones that spring up everywhere, while masses of lava cover the ground, having been blown into weird and fantastic shapes when soft.
In among the cones low underbrush and cacti grow, and feeding upon these are found the great tortoises, which at the approach of danger draw in their heads with a loud hiss or move slowly and clumsily away. Their strength is enormous. A small one, three feet long, carried the writer along a hard floor with perfect ease, and one of the largest would probably not be inconvenienced by a weight of five hundred pounds. They attain a great age, often living, it is said, a hundred years or more.
While we have been digressing, the turtles have been dumped into the great moat that surrounds the fort, and, stretched upon the deck, the sable crew are fast asleep. The writer has been watching a large three-master moving along two or three miles beyond Loggerhead Key. Our attention is distracted for some time, and, upon looking again, we find that she has not moved, and impart the fact to Sandy, who looks steadily through his long spy-glass, evidently made up of several others; then, gazing intently over the top, he brings all hands to their feet by the cry of "Wrack!" For Sandy is a licensed "wracker."
The man-of-war orders now uttered find no place in any known code, and in a moment the Bull Pup becomes a scene of unwonted excitement. The jib, mainsail, and gaff topsail are hauled up to their very tautest; finally, the cable is slipped, and then old Sandy for the first time looks around. The boys fail to suppress a loud guffaw, and forthwith dodge the flying tiller. The old man in the excitement had forgotten an important factor in the navigation of sailing-craft,—namely, wind. It was a dead calm, and had been all day, and there, almost within reach, was a fortune,—hard and fast on the outer reef.
* * * * *
ROUGHING IT IN PALESTINE.
Mohammed can do less than Mammon to-day for the infidel's ease and comfort in Palestine. The unholy little yellow god works his modern miracles even in the Holy Land. You have but to speak the word, and show your purse or letter of credit, in Beirut or Jaffa, and, as suddenly as if you had rubbed Aladdin's lamp, a retinue will be at your door to do your bidding. First a dragoman, with great baggy trousers of silk, a little gold-embroidered jacket over a colored vest, a girdle whose most ample folds form an arsenal of no mean proportions, and over the swarthy face, reposing among the black, glossy curls of a well-poised head, the red Turkish fez; or, if Ali has an ambition to be thought possessed of much piety of the orthodox Islamic type, the fez gives way to a turban, white, or green if he be a pilgrim from Mecca. Behind this important personage, as much a feature of the East as the Sphinx or the Pyramids, stand at a respectful distance, making profound salutations, a cook,—probably a Greek or Italian,—three muleteers, and a donkey-boy. Behind them still are two horses,—alas! not blooded Arabs madly champing their bits,—one for yourself and the other for Ali. Three mules bear patiently on their backs, always more or less raw, the canvas and poles of the two tents. In the rear is a small donkey, covered all over with culinary utensils, nibbling fat cactus-leaves with undisguised satisfaction. For a daily expenditure scarcely greater than is necessary to keep soul and body together at a fashionable New York hotel on the American plan, you become the commander of this company, within certain limits around which there are lines as definite and as impassable as if drawn by an Irish servant of some years' experience in the United States. You must not travel more than thirty miles a day; you must not change the route agreed upon, unless roads become impassable; and there are other, minor regulations, to which you are expected to submit, and, if you do, your progress through the land, if not triumphant, will be at least comfortable. You will find every day at noon, spread under some wide-armed tree, a cold lunch that even a somewhat difficult taste would consider fairly appetizing; and at nightfall you dismount before the door of your tent and sit down to a dinner of many courses, which to a stomach jounced for ten hours over a saddle seems a very fair dinner indeed. Your breakfast is what a Frenchman would call a dejeuner a la fourchette; and as you put down your napkin, your tent is folded almost as quickly and as silently, and you mount your horse, standing ready for another thirty miles. Yet, if you have just come from Egypt and three months on a dahabeah, you will not hesitate to call this luxurious mode of passing from Dan to Beersheba "roughing it in Palestine."
But it was my good fortune, after journeying from Beirut to Jerusalem with dragoman and muleteers and tents, like a prince, to go up through the country like a private citizen. I fell in with a young man in the Holy City, bora of American parents at Sidon, who had been educated in America and was now on his way back to his birthplace to spend his life in the sacred fields as a missionary. He was thoroughly equipped for roughing it, with a splendid physique and perfect health, imperturbable spirits, and a rare command of classic and vernacular Arabic. He wanted to go to Beirut with as few impedimenta as possible, and, after some talk, we merged our two parties into one. Our preparations for the journey were of the simplest sort. We agreed to dispense with dragomans and cooks and tents and trust to the land for food and shelter. We engaged three good horses and a muleteer. We strapped our baggage on the muleteer's horse, drew lots for the choice of the other two, and turned our faces northward.
It was long before daybreak, one Monday morning, when we stole quietly out of the Jaffa gate and took the road for Nablous. We were leaving behind us the most sacred spot on earth to Jew, Catholic, Greek, and Protestant; but from the road that stretches out before the Jaffa gate all the holy places of Jerusalem are invisible. The round dome over the Sepulchre was hidden behind the city's wall and the intervening houses. The Dome of the Rock, as the beautiful mosque of Omar is called, the most striking and brilliant object of the whole city from the Damascus gate, is beneath the hill of Golgotha. Only the Valley of Hinnom, and the Hill of Evil Counsel, and the slopes leading to Bethlehem, caught our parting gaze. But an American Protestant turns his back upon the Holy City with a very different feeling from that of the old Crusaders. He cannot see the Turkish Mohammedan soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ without a choking sensation in the throat, but he believes that life has nobler battles for him than fighting the unbeliever for the empty sepulchre of his Lord. The surroundings of all the sacred places are so inharmonious that, while he can never regret his pilgrimage, he can scarcely regret that it is over. We rose in our saddles, and, turning, took our last look at the Holy City with very mingled emotions, and then settled down to the hard day's work before us.
We were on the great pilgrim-route, which twenty centuries ago was annually crowded with pilgrims from the north hastening to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. The Child of Nazareth, when, at the age of twelve, he went for the first time to the Temple, must have pressed this road with his sacred feet, must have looked with deep, inquiring eyes upon these fields and hills. There was enough in the early hour and the associations of the scenes through which we were passing to keep us for a long time silent. My horse stumbled and brought us both back from Dreamland. A look ahead showed us—for the sun was now above the hills—that the worst piece of road in Palestine was just before us. It is wholly unartificial: for years no human hand has touched it, except as mine did when, on dismounting and undertaking to pick my way over the rocks, I found myself on all-fours. In fact, this Oriental boulevard is made up for some distance entirely of boulders, round and sharp, triangular and square, which the spring freshets of the last five or six decades were regretfully obliged to leave behind. After a short halt for lunch, about two o'clock, the muleteer assured us, on starting again, we had still five hours of steady pushing before us, and said something in the same breath about robbers. Men of his class all through the East are notorious cowards; but we had been told in Jerusalem that such dangers were not altogether imaginary, and, almost as our guide spoke, we heard shrieks, and for a moment we all thought the nefarious crew were at their work just ahead. The muleteer dropped mysteriously to the rear, and we rode on over a slight ascent, and there we saw a tall Samaritan exerting himself in a way most unlike the good one of the parable. He appeared to be a man of importance,—probably a sheik. His horse, tied to a little tree, was a very handsome one, and gayly decked out with red leather and ribbons. He had hold of the hind legs of a poor little goat, and was intent on pulling the creature away from a smaller man, much more poorly dressed, whose hands had a death-like grip of the horns. I was for setting lance in rest and charging to the rescue; but my more cautious friend put one or two questions to the sheik, who told, in a somewhat jerky style,—perhaps the result of the strugglings of the goat and the man at the other end of him,—as straightforward a story as was possible under the circumstances. He was the proprietor of the hut the owner of the goat lived in. He had come to collect his lawful rent, and he knew the money was ready, but he couldn't get it, and so had seized the only movable object of any value. The poor wretch, who still had the goat by the horns, denied the story, but in such a way that we feared he would only injure his conscience by other prevarications if we encouraged him. So we rode on; and in less than half an hour the sheik swept proudly by us, with no goat slung over his shoulders, but as he passed he shot out a single word, that told, like Caesar's vici, the whole story of his victory.
The muleteer of Palestine will start on a journey at almost any hour of the morning, but he has a superstitious dread of the darkness that falls after sunset, and our Hassan was now too frightened to make any answer to our questions except a short, tremulous half threat, half entreaty to hurry. We were riding along the valley between Gerizim and Ebal. We had left Joseph's tomb, and Jacob's well, where our Lord, wearied with his journey, as we were with ours, sat and rested as he talked with a woman who had come from the town toward which we were hurrying. The two mountains, their sides covered with fig-trees and olives, loomed up dimly out of the twilight on either side. We thought of the day when the hosts of Israel were encamped here and the antiphonal choirs chanted blessings from Gerizim and curses from Ebal in the ears of the vastest congregation ever gathered on earth. There was no sound now of blessing or cursing. The very stillness was oppressive. Hassan almost ceased to breathe, and it was not till our horses' hoofs rang on the rough pavement of Nablous—the ancient Shechem—that he relaxed his muscles and gave a long sigh of relief.
We rode at once to the Latin convent, where we felt sure of a cordial reception and a comfortable bed. There was no light anywhere in the gloomy building; but Hassan knocked at the great door, confidently at first, and then angrily. At last came an Arab youth about nineteen, who stuck one eye in the crack of the door, and asked our business.
"Yes," he said, "you stay here all night, but go away early in the morning."
This was definite, if not hospitable; but we went in, and asked to see the monks.
"None here," said the Arab, with a chuckle: "all gone to Tiberias." We ordered dinner, and, after half an hour, the Arab brought a saucer holding two boiled eggs, put it on a chair, and said, "There's your dinner." We were indignant, but it did no good: this boy was the head of the house for the time, and neither promises nor threats were of any avail to add anything, besides a little salt and pepper, to the dinner he had prepared. We went to bed very hungry, but very tired, and in the morning, before breakfast, hunted out the house of an English missionary, who took pity on us and gave us to eat. But it is an unusual thing for any one to leave Nablous without having an experience of some sort more or less disagreeable to fasten the name of the place in his recollection. When the brilliant author of "Eothen" sojourned for a day or two in this "hot furnace of Mohammedanism," as he calls it, the whole Greek population chose him as an involuntary deliverer of a young Christian maiden who had been perverted by rich gifts to the faith of Islam, or at least to a belief that a rich Mohammedan was to be preferred as a husband to a poor Christian. They stare upon you now, as they did then, as you walk through the streets and bazaars, "with fixed, glassy look, which seemed to say, God is God, but how marvellous and inscrutable are his ways, that thus he permits the white-faced dog of a Christian to hunt through the paths of the faithful!"
We went, of course, to the little Samaritan synagogue, to see the famous copy of the Pentateuch, whose age no man knoweth. We rode up the steep slopes of Gerizim to the ruins of the temple where the woman of Samaria said her fathers had always worshipped, and then, in a pouring rain, we started for Jenin. Hassan sunk his head down in a huge Oriental cloak, undoubtedly manufactured in Birmingham or Manchester, and his horse, left to himself, lost his way, for a Palestine road may at any time, like a Western trail, turn into a squirrel's track and run up a tree. When we found ourselves again we were all wet and not in the best of humor, but in sight of the old city of Samaria on her high hills.
The magnificent capital of Ahab and Jezebel, we saw at a glance, is now only a ruined, dirty village, where a European could not hope for shelter for a night. The hills sank into a heavy plain that seemed interminable. The short twilight faded into untempered darkness. Hassan was again in the rear. He would have fled incontinently at the first sign of danger. Our only consolation was that his horse was tired and he couldn't get very far away from us under any circumstances. I had a letter to a Christian at Jenin that was thought to be good for supper and lodging. We filed through the muddy streets to the door of the Christian's house, sent in the letter by Hassan, and a man came out, saluted us, told us to follow and he would take us to "a most comfortable place." When we stopped, it was before the door of a little mud hut. An old woman opened it, but, before letting us in, fixed the price we were to pay. We entered a room that did service for the entire wants of our hostess. It was very small, but it could not have been made larger without knocking out the sidewalls of her house. The floor was of dry mud, and there was nothing to sit upon except our saddles. We supped from the bread and meat our good missionary friend had given us, and, rolling ourselves in our blankets, we slept; but not long. The mud beneath us was not that dull, inanimate, clog-like thing we trample thoughtlessly under our feet along our country roads: it was that sort of matter in which Tyndale thought he could discern "the form and potency of life." They were both there, and in the still darkness they made themselves felt. My friend, for some mysterious reason, was left untouched, but the regiments that should have quartered on him joined those that were banqueting on my too unsolid flesh. My sufferings were but slightly mitigated by the remembrance that probably the progenitors of these fierce feeders on human blood may have dined as sumptuously on prophets and apostles, and that, intense as my anguish was, the chances were against any fatal termination. I rose often and went to the door, hoping for the morning, but it came not. Each time on returning to my couch I found the number of my tormentors had been augmented: so I kept still, like an Indian at the stake, and only refrained for my friend's sake from singing a triumphant song as I found myself growing used to the pain and at last able to sleep a troubled sort of sleep, such as Damiens may have had on the rack. When I showed my arms in the morning to Hassan, he lifted his eyes to heaven and muttered a prayer to Allah, of which I thought I could divine the meaning.
Our ride that day was across the great plain of Esdraelon. We were charitable enough to believe that travellers who have raved over the exquisite beauty of this valley, who tell of "the green meadow-land flaming with masses of red anemones," of "myriads of nodding daisies," and of "sheets of burning azure in the sun," did actually look upon all these splendors in the early spring; but it was January now, and we seemed to be pushing our way through a sea of dull, dead brown. The ground was soft with the winter rains, and our horses' feet sank to the fetlocks and gathered huge balls of the thick adhesive earth, deposited every hundred yards or so to give place to others. We rode through the dirty little village of Nain, where once a widow's son, carried out to burial, heard the only voice that reaches the dead and rose from his bier; but all solemn and tender thoughts were frightened away by the crowd of maimed and blind and ragged and hungry men, women, and children that came pouring out of the huts, crying, begging, demanding backsheesh. "This," one of our American consuls said, "is the language of Canaan now;" and it is one of the least melodious of earth. We lunched on the dry grass in the sun in full sight of Tabor, on the remnants of what the good missionary at Nablous had given us, and, tightening our saddle-girths, we began the ascent of the mountain. We clambered up the rude bridle-path, covered with loose stones, and knocked timidly, with the remembrance of our Nablous experiences, at the door of a large and very sightly monastery. Almost immediately a monk of kindly face and soft black Italian eyes gave us a cordial greeting, and the unexpectedness of it nearly enticed us into throwing our arms around his neck and leaving an Oriental salutation upon his cheek. He led us into a large, clean refectory, and then into two clean rooms. I might use other epithets, but none other means so much in the East. After a very satisfying supper, the good monk—he was so good to us, we tried to think he was as clean within as the rooms of his monastery—took us out to the pinnacle of the mountain and enjoyed our enthusiasm over the magnificent view that was spread out before us. Almost the whole of Palestine was within sight beneath us. We looked southward, across the plain we had struggled over so laboriously, to the mountains behind Jerusalem. We could see the depression where the Dead Sea lay in its bowl, encircled by the hills of Moab. To the west we were looking upon Carmel, at whose base the blue waves of the Mediterranean sigh, and moan, and thunder. To the east, across the Jordan, from which the mists of evening were already rising, we could distinguish the wild, deep ravines of the land of the Bedawin; and in the north, grandest of all, stood Hermon, his great white head touched with the crimson of the setting sun, just plunging, like an old Moabite deity, into the mountains of Lebanon beyond. By almost common consent it is agreed among the Biblical scholars of our day that not here on Tabor where we stood, but northward, there on one of the peaks of Hermon, was the place where our Lord was transfigured; but the Christian imagination, like the Christian consciousness, is not always submissive to fact, and we shall continue, with the larger part of the Christian world, to think of Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration, while we speak of Hermon as the true site.